Anti-science liberals

I wrote a few days ago how the Obama folks delayed a report where scientist said genetically engineered salmon were safe. Now I hear that NY Governor Cuomo is sitting on a report that indicates that fracking can be safely done in New York. Once Democrats criticized Republicans for this kind of thing. But liberals too are unenthusiastic about science that doesn’t support their political purposes.

Liberals have not always been pro-science. In fact, they tend to be much more fearful of advances and much more likely to want to ban them. Think of their opposition to fracking or genetic engineering mentioned above.

Our liberal friends seem to have a zero sum or maybe a wasting view of the world. For them, we are always losing and the best we can do slow the loss of limit the damage. They won't accept good news. When fracking suddenly greatly increased the available supplies of natural gas and oil, they just pretended it was still a problem. When conservation managed to bring wolf populations high enough that they could be taken off the endangered species list, far from celebrating, many liberals called it a tragedy.

Liberals used to believe in progress. I think they lost their way in the 1960s and grew pessimistic. They started to believe in limits. Science at the time seemed to support this limited point of view. We were running out of resources, it seemed. Our modern lifestyles were causing cancers. The poor were getting poorer. The totalitarians were getting stronger. All this changed, but our liberal friends didn't want to accept the good news or they just didn't get the word.

Things are getting better. We are finding new resources and using them more efficiently. Our world is safer, cleaner and healthier than ever. We have discovered vast amounts of a cleaner fuel that is making energy cheaper and reducing pollution. Why not accept the good news.

One more interesting piece of good news. Forests in Eastern North America have been growing back and forest cover today is greater than it was in 1912 or 1812. The forests of the South, in fact, are absorbing more carbon than the industries of the region are generating.

Posted by Christine & John at January 3, 2013 8:23 PM
Comment #359857

You seem to suffer a basic confusion about what it means to be ‘pro-science’ or ‘anti-science’. The root of your confusion is obvious; it revolves around the idea that if a new technology arises and it is profitable, favoring it is ‘pro-science,’ and opposing it is ‘anti-science,’ regardless of whether the implications have been sujected to experiments and investigations using the scientific method, with a scientific attitude of skepticism.

Developing a profitable new technology may use scientific methods to create it in the first place, but the drive for profit can derail the rigorous application of the scientific method.

And that’s the trick, isn’t it? In the case of fracking, I think most people, whether liberal or conservative, would prefer to see natural gas replace coal as an energy resource. However, fracking involves new technologies, and a lot of questions remain. For example, we already know fracking causes small earthquakes. Will these smaller quakes become manmade foreshocks, resulting in a large quake? And if we inject chemicals underground, what will happen to the water table? Do those chemicals just magically disappear? Are they benign? Do they become too diluted to matter? Right now, the natural gas industry has been protected from enforcement of basic federal and state laws surrounding clean water, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act. And that tells me there might be a big problem here.

Just because a new technology is profitable doesn’t mean it is a good idea.

In general, I’m not too concerned about fracking. I like the way it makes energy prices lower. Then again, I don’t live in OH or WV or NY or PA, so I’m not directly affected by the possibility of earthquakes, or polluted water, and that the polluted water might, for all intents and purposes, last forever.

Furthermore, deploying new technologies can have unintended consequences. Take, for example, PFC’s and the ozone layer. No one knew PFC’s would destroy the ozone layer. It was a complete surprise to everyone, and it took rapid international cooperation to sufficiently slow the danger.

And how did conservatives react to the initial news that the ozone layer was being destroyed? Interior Secretary Donald Hodel, a Reagan cabinet member, so disliked the idea of regulation that he urged people to wear hats and sunglasses.

I’m not making that up. It really happened.

As for wolves, there are a lot of wolves in Canada and Alaska. The problem is that they have been eliminated in the lower 48, with the only viable populations existing in national parks. Ranchers shoot the wolves because of the threat to livestock. However, much of this land is leased by ranchers from the federal government in the first place.

So the question is simple: how do you want to see public lands used?

We can never operate with certainty. We never know all future repurcussions. At some point, scientific certainty and skepticism give rise to pragmatic concerns. So again, the question is simple: when is there enough scientific evidence to proceed in the political, public realm?

Posted by: phx8 at January 3, 2013 11:24 PM
Comment #359866

The real problem with the way you approach science is that you automatically assume there’s nothing to be worried about. That’s not scientific, that’s political.

If these fast growing species do manage to get their genes into the gene pool of that species, the effect predicted would be one that undermined the species’ viability.

While I don’t go for equally fallacious “franken-food” sorts of logic, I do want the food that I eat to be safe, and I don’t want us screwing things up.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 4, 2013 12:02 AM
Comment #359905


I think anti-science means, among other things, withholding studies done by your own organization that contradict your political goals.

Fracking opponents want to point to what they fear MIGHT be or to extreme cases. This is not a scientific analysis.

My guess is that you occasionally fly on airplanes. What about those unanswered security questions? You must have heard of terrible accidents. Apply the kinds of rules you do to fracking, and you cannot get into your car or an airplane.

Re wolves

You can argue the land use issue. But that is not the argument being used. What proponents want to use is endangered species, which science has indicated is no longer valid. Wolves are not an endangered species.


As I explained many times, there ARE things to be worried about. But the balance of the worries makes fracking one of the best energy alternatives available and THE best on the basis of large scale and quick deployment.

But those of you who do not consider global warming an urgent issue may oppose the technology that is bringing down CO2 emissions.

Re GMOs - you are employing the anti-scientific precautionary principle. Indeed, IF pigs could fly, we would have a hog problem all over the place. The science tells us the risks are minimal. But if you prefer to create more pollution, make high quality protein more expensive and use more land and water to produce food than necessary, you may go with your fears over your reason.

Posted by: C&J at January 4, 2013 4:53 AM
Comment #359917

“Environmentalist Admits He Peddled Anti-Scientific “Green Urban Myths” About Biotech Crops”

“I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.

As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.

So I guess you’ll be wondering – what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.”

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 4, 2013 1:29 PM
Comment #359935

Re fracking. Using airlines and regulation is not a good example of a liberal, non-scientific attitude. Due to FAA regulations, airlines practice safety to an extreme most industries never experience. In the example of an airline, a more accurate illustration might apply… for example… FAA regulations interfere with profits. NTSB investigations of crashes interfere with profits; without regulation, crashes would not happen very often, instead of being practically non-existent the way they are today; and so, regulating agencies should not be permitted because they are manifestations of a liberal scientific attitude.

Why is fracking exempt the Clean Water Act?

The example of wolves doesn’t really apply. Again, wolves are not in danger of extinction in Canada, Alaska, and US National Parks. However, they are not found in their natural range today because ranchers shoot wolves when wolves venture onto public land. That land is owned by the public, and I think it’s perfectly reasonable that some citizens would object to ranchers shooting wolves in order to protect cattle, particularly when some taxpaying citizens are vegetarians in the first place. I’m not. But I can certainly understand their point of view.

Posted by: phx8 at January 4, 2013 5:11 PM
Comment #359937


Re wolves - it is a land management issue. Personally I have no dog (or wolf) in that fight. I don’t care if they shoot them or not. But the people in question wanted to keep calling wolves and endangered species. That was incorrect.

Re fracking - It has proven to be very safe. We can argue the details. My problem with Cuomo, as I mentioned above or with Obama as I mentioned in the article below, is that they withheld scientific studies DONE BY THERE OWN GUYS when they did not support their political goals. This is anti-scientific.

There are several areas where science is coming much more clearly on one side. Fracking, GMOs, wildlife management are among them. Fracking & GMOs are mostly safe and you can shoot some wild animals and make the environment better.


Thanks. I would say that they shall know the truth and the truth shall set them free, but I don’t think those pseudo-environmental pinheads are interested in truth.

Posted by: C&J at January 4, 2013 5:23 PM
Comment #359948

While I don’t believe in global warming I the sense that liberal do, I’m all for cleaning up the air and cheaper energy for Americans. If fracking can give cheaper energy and clean the air at the same time then get to fracking and get that cheaper energy to the consumers.
Oh no! We can’t. The chemicals used in fracking leak up from around 6200 feet deep to around 200 feet deep to get into the water. Well back to the drawing board.

RE: Wolves, I’ll bet there’s a whole heap of cattle ranchers that would love to see the wolves extinct. I would love to see the coyotes either go back out west or become extinct. I don’t know how many it took but they managed to kill my bull yesterday. He might have been a big mean old cuss, but the was good at his job. Now it’s gonna cost me between $8,000 to $12,000 to get another one. That’s if the insurance company pays their share.
Some species need to be exterminated.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 4, 2013 6:20 PM
Comment #359951


Sorry about your bull. Coyotes are varmints. You can shoot them on sight.

Posted by: C&J at January 4, 2013 6:39 PM
Comment #359952

Thanks for the link. It was very interesting and informative.
But you do know that even if our friend on the left do bother to read it they’ll demonize dismiss Lynas as a cuckoo and a traitor to their cause at best. And as some sort of Frankenstein demon monster in general. I’m waiting for the demonetization to begin.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 4, 2013 6:45 PM
Comment #359953

Thanks C&J, I’m gonna miss him even though he did do about $2,000 damage to my $1200 pickup.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 4, 2013 6:48 PM
Comment #359955

Natural predation, and even some predation of wildlife by man, is necessary to maintain a healthy population. The carrying capacity of habitat is limited and when populations become too large they harm the environment and can be very costly to human endeavors.

I believe our welfare population is a prime example of uncontrolled growth. Before anyone suggests it…yes, I am against killing humans and merely want to limit their numbers by removing incentives.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 4, 2013 6:59 PM
Comment #359987


In the case of the salmon;

I am reminded of the Douglas Adams book “The Restaurant at the end of the Universe”, where a genetically modified animal is wheeled out to the diners table and, as it is able to speak, it tells them the exact cuts are the most tender on it’s body they would particularly enjoy.

This book was written in the ’70s.

I am glad that I am not fond of salmon, as I think I would find a talking fish off putting.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 5, 2013 3:21 PM
Comment #359989


Of course, generations of Disney films have featured talking animals of all sorts.

Posted by: C&J at January 5, 2013 3:39 PM
Comment #359990


“Of course, generations of Disney films have featured talking animals of all sorts.”

How many of them were genetically modified?

Just asking.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 5, 2013 3:42 PM
Comment #359991

C/J, I believe all the Disney animals were genetically modified as none seem to have had any reproductive organs. They were all hybrids…right?

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 5, 2013 3:56 PM
Comment #359992

In “Food of the Gods” by H.G. Wells, a scientist develops a chemical that causes animals to grow at a fantastic rate. As it turns out, that’s not a good thing.

Looks like I’m in the minority here, but I still don’t think science has the ability to ‘turn on’ or modify a gene for growth and not have unintended consequences. The motivations may be good (to feed more people at less cost) or not so good (greed for immediate profits), but regardless of motivation, there remain incentives to take shortcuts.

I understand the point about how salmon that grow at a fast rate are less effective competitors in the wild, and likely to reproduce in fewer numbers. I remain unconvinced that a few genes making it into a wild population will have no repercussions. The phrase “unintended consequences” and Murphy’s Law may not be scientific principles, but they are cautionary cliches that come from experience. In addition, literature is filled with warnings about the consequences of experimenting with life, from the first horror novel- “Frankenstein”- to H.G. Wells, to many novels written today. It’s not just imagination run wild, or some sort of liberal distrust of science; it’s taking current trends and extrapolating them and projecting them into the future.

Posted by: phx8 at January 5, 2013 4:04 PM
Comment #359993

C&J, re population, I agree on removing incentives to having children. Reading an article in today’s WaPo re the bus rape/murder of a young woman. In India and other over populated areas respect for humanity wanes. People tend to treat the poor, homeless, ill sector of society as a scourge to society. The lives of the poor are not valued as those ‘making it’ financially.

We’ve blogged in previous threads that the trend across the world is to have fewer children. Seems as the poor manage to get a foothold on the economic ladder they opt for fewer children. To me this is a really enlightening phenomena.

The more native women in the US, for a long time, has opted to barely replace themselves in the number of births. Now, we are getting word that the trend is following on with the Latin American immigrant population. This is good to great news, IMO.

Yet, the Corpocracy is clamoring for more people, open immigration and so on - - -. The Corpocracy is determined to keep the ponzi schemes going into the future. SS must have more people paying in or we will all die. Any stem person, foreign or domestic, with a 2.0 or better should be given citizenship least our innovation and technology sectors wither on the vine. Our business model requires a 5-10% annual growth factor or the US will soon be ruled by Vietnam, etc.

And, we should note the hypocrisy portrayed by ABC news in the ‘buy American’ theme. A way liberal outfit pushing the margins of ‘protectionism’ with their frequent ‘made in American’ skits, enough to make the WTO blush. This while Al Gore sells off the the oil patch in Qatar. That rates right up there with Obama opening up to corporate donors to fund his inaugural balls, now that he doesn’t have to face the music any further.

I’m getting off thread here, but it looks like the population problem may correct hands off.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 5, 2013 4:06 PM
Comment #359995


“C/J, I believe all the Disney animals were genetically modified as none seem to have had any reproductive organs.”

Perhaps an airbrush is the means by which the bio-engineers at AquaBounty Technologies plan to make the female salmon sterile.

How does it taste?
The flavor of the Alaskan salmon depends on it’s fat content. In other species of salmon the amount of fat differs with the type of “natural” prey it eats, and the distance it must travel when it leaves the ocean to spawn.

I guess the bigger question about GM salmon is whether it will actually taste better than the plastic it was wrapped in before it leaves the market.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 5, 2013 5:48 PM
Comment #359996

Rocky & Royal

Royal is right. ALL the Disney animals are genetically modified. Must be pretty radical too, since I never saw a non-modified animal that could talk.

Re taste - I eat a lot of farmed salmon. The Atlantic salmon in general has a different taste than the Pacific variety. But I actually like it better. Less gamey. I used to eat a lot of farmed trout. Same thing.

Fish farming is the future. We gave up hunting and gathering for most of our terrestrial food needs. The same will happen with water. A lot of the fish of the future will be catfish and talapia. They don’t taste all that good, but can be made to taste okay.

Here in Brazil they have begun to farm a giant fish called pirarucu. It is a fresh water fish from the Amazon basin, about six feet long. It has practically no taste, but can be made into stews and other dishes that taste very good.


Frankenstein and the HG Wells works are indeed fictional, like the Disney talking animals. Remember Mary Shelly was a bit of a weirdo and HG Wells predicted time travel and lots of other things that didn’t happen. Neither Shelly nor Wells understood science, which is maybe why they were able to write those scary books.

We have always a problem with unknown. But there is no zero option. If you believe in climate change and you think populations will grow and/or demand higher quality food, you have to know that we will be unable to feed the world’s people w/o significant improvement in crops and livestock.

Traditional methods are slower and less precise, but they also have unintended consequences. Two of the biggest scourges of the American environment have been wild pigs and wild horses. Should we not eat pork or would our ancestors been better off w/o their horses?

With the rapid spread of invasive species and bugs, I think our only hope is GMOs. I worry about our forest resources. Our oak trees are stressed; hemlocks are disappearing all over the east; we already lost our chestnuts. I think it would be great if some GMO could make these resistant to the bugs.

We were lucky with elms to find a resistant strain. Why not substitute science for mere random chance or fear?


Properly regulated immigration is a good thing. The future will be very different from the past. The challenge in the last 50 years has been keeping immigrants out; in the next fifty years the world’s countries will be competing for a shrinking supply of immigrants.

Posted by: C&J at January 5, 2013 6:10 PM
Comment #359997


“…HG Wells predicted time travel and lots of other things that didn’t happen. Neither Shelly nor Wells understood science, which is maybe why they were able to write those scary books.”

Except for the fact that Wells studied biology, and actually taught sciencce as a student teacher you might be correct.

Wells was right about more than you might think;

“The physicist Leó Szilárd read the book in 1932, the same year the neutron was discovered. In 1933 he conceived the idea of neutron chain reaction, and filed for patents on it in 1934.”


Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 5, 2013 6:27 PM
Comment #359999


The science that HG Well studied was … 19th Century.

Re HG Wells being right - people who write fiction get cut lots of slack. Think of all the crap Leonardo DaVinci drew. None of the machines could really fly. The submarines could go under water, but they wouldn’t come back up.

My wife Chrissy thinks she has invented everything. When she sees a new product, she points out that she has a similar idea years before. She is telling the truth, but there is a lot of difference between an idea and something that happens.

Remember HG Wells “Shape of Things to Come”.

Not only are his predictions wrong in every detail, but the “utopia” he envisions at the end would be a horrible, oppressive place.

Posted by: C&J at January 5, 2013 6:49 PM
Comment #360001


“Not only are his predictions wrong in every detail, but the “utopia” he envisions at the end would be a horrible, oppressive place.”

Utopia cannot exist… because somebody has to take out the garbage.

I don’t think that “The Shape of Things to Come” wasn’t so much a prediction as “a lesson” in what could happen. Remember WW1 was the “war to end all wars”, and it was a tragedy. Virtually a whole generation, gone.

I am not a risk taker. My wife thinks I’m a fuddy duddy. I think if you expect the worst, you get the best.

Look I don’t necessarily have a problem with the “idea” of GM food. I would like to know if it is before I buy it. Foodstuffs like grains and such, I assume that they are GM. Proteins, not so much.

“I eat a lot of farmed salmon.”

Yeah, Ok, have you eaten farmed GM salmon, and are you just assuming that it will taste the same…


Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 5, 2013 7:33 PM
Comment #360002


I have no reason to expect it will taste different. If it tastes worse, people won’t buy it and nobody will use those fish.

As you say, however, lots depends on what the animal eats. I thought pork and ham in Poland tasted much better than it did in America. Why? In Poland, the small farmers fed their pigs slop, which was against the law in America. Wild pig is better than either, not only because the pigs get more exercise but also because of diet. Wild pigs get a variety of food. They eat a lot of acorns in the fall for example. Makes them very good eating.

Actually, we have sacrificed lots of taste for “hygiene”. The best tomatoes I ever had were in Iraq, where I am pretty sure they watered them with sewage.

GMO organisms are not different from organisms we breed in the old fashioned way. It is just done more effectively. Almost nothing we eat is “natural” in the sense that most of us would not recognize the original plant or animal.

All the apples we eat are clones. If you try to grow and apple from seed, it will be nothing like the fruit it came from. The genetic diversity is too great. I once saw and tasted an “ancestral” watermelon. Horrible little thing. We have improved all these.

Posted by: C&J at January 5, 2013 7:47 PM
Comment #360004

The more food available the more procreating goes on. If we were still using seed corn from the 1920’s for example, there would be far fewer and less well fed people.

I like imitation crab in a salad etc. Substitution, done correctly should take some of the pressure off more popular fish species.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 5, 2013 8:01 PM
Comment #360005

GMO salmon taste may taste different depending on how they are raised. If they are raised like most farm salmon- the most likely scenario, due to the absolute necessity of keeping them out of the ocean and the food chain- then they will lack the Omego 3 fatty acids that make wild salmon so tasty and give them that characteristic reddish-pink coloration.

What makes some of the recently developed farmed salmon so remarkable is that they are grown in the cold waters that contribute to the formation of those Omega 3 fatty acids.

Another item we have not really addressed is the vulnerability of GMO salmon to cancers and other maladies. It’s very high. What will this mean if some of those frankenfish genes make their way into the wild salmon population?

Posted by: phx8 at January 5, 2013 8:33 PM
Comment #360008


“If we were still using seed corn from the 1920’s for example, there would be far fewer and less well fed people.”

Corn, like other most other grains, and in fact, many other species, have been selectively bred for millennia.
Bioengineering has only existed since the ’70s, sometimes with success, sometimes not.
China had a problem with “secondary” pests that were not affected by bio-engineered cotton.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 5, 2013 8:54 PM
Comment #360009


“The best tomatoes I ever had were in Iraq…”

Any tomato not sold commercially tastes better than those we get in the market.

Berkshire pork raised here in the states by the Amish is some of the most flavorful pork anywhere.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 5, 2013 9:00 PM
Comment #360010


I still think your potential problems are self limiting. If the salmon quality is lower, nobody will buy them and they won’t be used. You are arguing that they should not be allowed because nobody will buy them. If you are right about the second part, you need not worry about the first.

Re cancers etc. I have not heard they get cancer more often. Most of them would not live long enough to get cancer anyway, since they would be harvested at younger ages. But if they did and they got away, again, the problem would self correct. Dead fish don’t reproduce.

I repeat, however, that salmon reproduce only in the streams of their origin. Escaped salmon, to the extent that they can think, would be surprised when the other salmon wandered off, each to its stream of origin, but they would have no place to go. Perhaps they would try to return to the fish farm.

Do you know why those Canada geese have become such pests and no longer migrate? It is because the urban geese are descended from live decoys. They have not migrated for decades. They don’t know how anymore. The difference is that geese can reproduce in their new homes. Salmon cannot spawn in the open sea.

Posted by: C&J at January 5, 2013 9:08 PM
Comment #360011

Salmon do not necessarily return to the stream of their origin. During the first experiments with farmed salmon, a company lost a ton of money when the salmon swam downstream to the ocean and simply never returned. They were supposed to come back. They didn’t. No one knows where they went.

By the way, the Wikipedia article on GMO salmon cites sources that point out that, because GMO salmon mature earlier, they reproduce faster than wild salmon and live longer, partially overcoming their competitive disadvantage. Fast growth also gives them earlier access to food sources during that first year of development.

There are allergenic and carcinogenic potentials with the GMO salmon. The concerns over cancer arise from the presence of high levels of an insulin-like substance that spur growth, and are already related to various kinds of cancers.

The point is, these various concerns have simply not been addressed. We don’t know. They might be a problem. Then again, they might not. IMO, weighing risks v benefits, that’s just not good enough.

Posted by: phx8 at January 5, 2013 9:49 PM
Comment #360013

Genetically altered flowers are more prolific but the fragrance is lost. Farmed salmon lose some of the flavor we remember. No one used to eat carp… now Tilapia is a favorite. Orange Roughy was called Slime Head in New Zealand until a marketing firm came up with a catchy name for intro into the U.S. Herefords from England were introduced to the U.S. and crossbred with Longhorns to produced a genetically superior animal.

All you “the sky is falling” people tell us how speeding up the genetic altering process will produce Frankenstenian results. Please give us an example.

The irradiation of ground beef has been proven to prevent bacterial catastrophes. You loons scream about the process while lauding “organic” which has killed more people than irradiated beef ever will.

Where is the objectivity? Not much found here from the Neck Nuzzlers.

Posted by: John Johnson at January 5, 2013 10:49 PM
Comment #360014

They started this ‘farm’ about 15 years ago… seems to be doing well.

Posted by: jane doe at January 5, 2013 11:29 PM
Comment #360015

The examples you give involve natural selection, farming, and marketing, not genetic modification. The GMO Salmon are controversial because this is this first time a food animal has been subject to genetic modification and fed to humans.

There are a number of areas that have been questioned, and to my mind, most of the concerns surrounding the safety of GMO foods have been adequately addressed. At least, as far as we know. My concern surrounds the environmental issue, and the possible impact on the environment of GMO salmon.

Question: What will happen over several generations if GMO salmon- salmon with an extemely fast growth rate due to an enhanced ability to produce insulin- successfully insert their genes into the wild salmon population?

Answer: We don’t know.

Posted by: phx8 at January 5, 2013 11:52 PM
Comment #360020


OK, let’s be objective, and scientific.

“No one used to eat carp… now Tilapia is a favorite.”

This statement is neither objective nor scientific. These are two entirely different families of fish.

Cyprinidae, of which carp are a member have been a staple food fish eaten by humans for thousands of years in Eurasia.

Tilapia are from the family Cichlidae, or cichlids. Oscars for instance are also from this family.

“You loons scream about the process while lauding “organic” which has killed more people than irradiated beef ever will.”

Yeah, and more people have been killed being hit by buses than by being hit by bicycles.

Your comments are just ignorant, and not “objective” at all.
Modern Organic meat doesn’t need to be irradiated. Organic livestock aren’t forced to stand in their own feces day after day while they wait to be slaughtered, and they taste vastly different because of the Organic process.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 6, 2013 8:39 AM
Comment #360021


“During the first experiments with farmed salmon, a company lost a ton of money when the salmon swam downstream to the ocean and simply never returned. They were supposed to come back. They didn’t. No one knows where they went.”
They probably died or got lost. On the face of this, it indicates that farmed salmon are not very good at wild survival. Although if they released them into the rivers, they are not farmed salmon; they are simply hatchery fish, which is a different category.

“There are allergenic and carcinogenic potentials with the GMO salmon.” - This is actually an ADVANTAGE that GMOs have over conventional breeding. A conventional breeder seeks the characteristic he wants through random variation. With that come lots of other characteristics. GMO is more precise. Indeed, the desired characteristic may cause allergic reactions in some people, since some people are allergic to lots of things, but it will be more readily identifiable.

I think these factors you mention ARE being addressed. When I read the literature on these things, I find that everything you are saying has indeed been addressed. I understand that you may think that the answers are insufficient, but they are not neglected.

Re cancer – we hear about that a lot. I think the reasons are manifold. First, cancer is very scary. Secondly, causes are various. Third, it is easy to blame changes and forth you can always find “cancer clusters” most of which can be explained by random variations, but people in general don’t understand random variation and can be fooled. The thing to recall that as we introduce more engineered product, be they plastics, GMOs or other modern developments, cancer rates in the U.S. have been dropping for twenty years in general. Some types are rising, but they are the ones related to identifiable lifestyle choices, especially obesity or habits such as tanning.

There is no reason to believe that GMOs would be any worse than natural foods and some reasons to think they might be safer. Natural foods developed over eons of time in a kind of arms race between plants and the animals that ate “preyed” on them. An organic apple or peach is full of natural poisons and cancer causing substances, as is our environment generally. It is likely that GMOs will actually be SAFER than the natural varieties, since we can control for the dangerous substances.

I understand you fear of the unknown and I agree that we have to think carefully about what we do. However, there is no safe haven. Things are in constant change. Our whole environment may change because of rapid climate change. Natural processes may be insufficient to adapt to these changes.

I will also repeat that my support of GMOs comes mostly from my love of forests. I see that invasive species and bugs are destroying forests that I love. We are losing oaks, beech, ash and hemlock at alarming rates. Areas in the Shenandoah where thirty years ago I used to hike under beautiful old hemlocks are now gone because of an adelgid imported from Asia. The emerald ash borer (also an Asian import) may take ash trees out of the Eastern forests. The great live oaks are disappearing from the Texas hill country.

Of course, many of these things can be addressed with other management techniques, but if we suffer additional stress from rapid climate change, our grandchildren will not be able to enjoy the great Americans forests I have come to know and love. If we can develop a GMO hemlock that kills the adelgid and gives us back this noble tree in the stream valleys, I am content. I hope scientists can do the same for American chestnuts and I indeed hope these modified organism spread through our forests … and save them in the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren.

I would support them on strictly environmental grounds, but I also see the need to feed growing populations in a rapidly changing environment.


It is a trend to farm rather than hunt and gather. We have been doing this since the Stone Age. At first, people often like the farmed stuff less, but as time goes on tastes change. I saw and article about a woman farming truffles in North Carolina. Of course, producers of high priced “natural” truffles object.

I don’t think that I am a very good judge of taste. I cannot tell expensive wines from cheap ones. In fact, I like the cheap ones better because they tend to be cheaper. I don’t like caviar at all. In fact, when I get it free, I scrape it off.

Posted by: C&J at January 6, 2013 8:41 AM
Comment #360025


“I saw and article about a woman farming truffles in North Carolina. Of course, producers of high priced “natural” truffles object.”

They are also objecting truffles grown in China as they don’t taste the same and visually it is hard to tell the difference but the price is the same.

“I don’t think that I am a very good judge of taste. I cannot tell expensive wines from cheap ones. In fact, I like the cheap ones better because they tend to be cheaper.”

It’s got to be all those years of drinking “Diet” Coke.

Food for me isn’t just about sustenance. Taste and smell and texture are important as well. As we cheapen food we eat, we also cheapen the actual experience of eating.

I don’t want to sound like a food snob, but we have become a “fast food” society, and we are not better because of it.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 6, 2013 9:30 AM
Comment #360030


I switched to Coke Zero, much better. I have been downing 2 + liters of Coke products for nigh on 40 years. Must be good for me.

Truffles, caviar and fine wine are over rated. But I have learned to appreciate some things besides Coca-Cola. I am willing to pay more for good Port, Jim Beam black and Glenfiddich 18 years old. You know, however, that Scotch doesn’t get any better after 18 years and Bourbon after 7 years. You can pay more for older versions, but you cannot get better taste.

BTW - I great, if unorthodox taste treat is Glenfiddich chased with Coke Zero.

Posted by: C&J at January 6, 2013 12:05 PM
Comment #360051

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