Pictures Worth More Than A Thousand Words For October 2013

great page  Pictures Worth More Than A Thousand Words For October 2013

One of my favorite things to share on this blog is something I like to call “Pictures Worth More Than A Thousand Words.” These blog posts are a way to take a quick snapshot of what is happening with the way nutrition, food and health messages are being portrayed in our culture and showing you the insanity that some of this stuff is. When you start looking at things through the prism of an enlightened low-carb, Paleo, real food perspective, the world we live in today just tends to look absurd and like we’re in an old episode of The Twilight Zone (I can hear Rod Serling’s voice and the “loo-loo-loo-loo, loo-loo-loo-loo” music playing in the background). But, unfortunately, they are real–VERY REAL! This is always a sober reminder of just how much work is left to be done if real change in the way we eat and get healthy is ever going to happen. It’s one of the reasons I remain so passionate about this stuff to help re-educate the public. These images I’ll be sharing with you today underscore why it is so critical for all of us to continue to share this message with everyone we can. There are real lives at stake here that are worth saving from the slick marketing of health lies that are keeping people obese and ill. In case you’ve missed any of my previous pictures posts, take a look at all of the one I’ve shared previously in blog posts: June 2011August 2011September 2011October 2011November 2011December 2011January 2012March 2012April 2012June 2012July 2012September 2012,December 2012February 2013 and June 2013.

Check out my latest installment of “Pictures Worth More Than A Thousand Words” for October 2013! I suppose you could call these the “Four Horsemen Of Bad Health”:

Fix those issues immediately and the collective health of modern man would improve beyond belief. Of course, Walmart promoting this brilliant breakfast combo isn’t going to help matters much:

SERIOUSLY?! And how many moms think this is a pretty good option because there are whole grains in the Pop Tart and OJ is made with fruit? Too many. Of course, some of the worst offenders at making health claims about their carb-filled products comes from the cereal industry:

Did you catch that little heart-healthy tick at the lower right-hand corner? This is the seal of approval from Australia’s version of the American Heart Association. Of course the cereal companies are already seeing the handwriting on the wall about the products they have made hand over fist profits from by putting out more marketing propaganda like this:

General Mills is running scared of losing this cash cow because people are waking up to the ill effects of the whole grain scam. It’s still going to take years to make a true dent in this breakfast staple, but I think it’s coming someday. In the meantime, we get to put up with more obnoxious health marketing like this:

Do you see all the subtle messages conveyed in this ad? The SKINNY dipping message; the placement of a banana as a wholesome health food; the listing of the low amount of calories; telling people this is a “guilt-free” treat because it’s fruit and low-calorie. Sick, sick, sick! Kinda like telling someone who wants to lose belly fat to just eat corn on the cob:

Are these diet and health magazines prominently displayed at the checkout of your local grocery stores really THIS desperate for content that they have to stoop to printing such nonsense? Apparently so. Back to the way foods are marketed, the yogurt industry is one of the worst offenders with things like this:

Yoplait is playing with your mind in this ad. You’re not dieting, you’re making “better choices,” all of our healthy yogurt flavors are “delightful,” they’re only 100 calories and “you’re eating healthier”–GAG! This is so silly but people fall for this too. The frozen yogurt marketing isn’t much better. Here’s another yogurt ad geared towards the younger generation:

Yogurt used to be advertised to women who are dieting, but now they’ve found a new market with kids. And moms obediently buy this stuff thinking it’s somehow better for their children. But turn that yogurt over to see the nutrition and ingredients label to have your eyes opened to the truth. They’re still advertising to women, too:

Here we go again with key buzz words: “Indulgent,” “delicious,” “rich,” “the perfect choice,” and “less fat and calories.” This is pure carbage people, don’t fall for the “healthy” angle. When will the madness end?

With Halloween coming up next week, this letter sent out to the neighbors from a dad with an epileptic son who is on the ketogenic diet to control his seizures just made me smile:

How easy was it for this man to make sure his son gets to participate in Halloween without compromising his health in the process? What strategies have YOU used with your kids at Halloween to keep them away from overindulging in the sugary stuff? Do tell! Of course, even the stores know what that candy is doing when they start cross-marketing like this:

A diabetes medication shelf talker in the candy aisle–CLEVER! Even kids know all that sugar can’t add up to anything good:

LOVE IT! What I don’t love is how fat continues to be vilified in magazine articles communicating health messages to the masses:

Did you see the irony of those comments about dietary fat? They claim “it’s not clear yet” about the inflammation-fighting fats, but “it makes sense to avoid the saturated fats” while consuming fish and vegetable oils (HIGHLY inflammatory, BTW!) instead. Talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth in a full display of ignorance. UGH! Of course, it can’t be good when there are products like this out there:

Hmmm, 100% beef made with “all white meat chicken”–something tells me that just doesn’t add up. Oh, but chicken can have “a higher level of care” according to this ad:

How much you wanna bet these chickens are still raised in a feed lot as part of a factory farm? Count on it. The whole antibiotic-free, vegetarian-fed nonsense is just more marketing mumbo-jumbo! The advertising of this stuff is so nuanced, look at this one:

Notice how they display “premium” so prominently as if to say that this is a quality product. No, it’s just more crappy carbs. Here’s another one:

They brag about the mac & cheese being “made with real cheese.” Ummm, what else would it be made of, geniuses? Speaking of made of, have you ever seen a breakdown of all the ingredients it takes to make a chicken nugget? Here’s the dirty truth:

So this “chicken” is actually a lot more carbohydrate-rich ingredients than anything else. But people eat this stuff thinking it is chicken. There should be a rule stating you can’t call a food-like product something that it’s not. Although I totally believe this is what it says it is:

Crack Jello–what will they think of next? If you’ve ever had to eat in a hospital, then this might look familiar:

Isn’t it crazy they’ve got every nutritional alternative available from low-fat to vegetarian, but NO options for low-carb or Paleo. Come on, get with the program! At least horses are getting the right nutritional education:

This poster was actually on display at the Minnesota State Fair this year–pretty cool stuff! Not so cool is this kind of product being marketing to people with “high cholesterol” as a means for getting more heart healthy:

This is utterly ridiculous! These “chews” will probably lead to more inflammation making you even more susceptible to heart disease in the end. How do these companies get away with making such health claims without consequence? And finally, I wanted to share my latest blood sugar, blood ketone and urine ketone readings as I’ve continued to test them daily:

Being ketogenic virtually all the time now has been a true godsend to me and my health and I look forward to sharing more about that in my June 2014 book Keto Clarity which I’ll be working on in the next few months. Stay tuned! If you have anything you think fits within the “Pictures Worth More Than A Thousand Words” series, then e-mail the link or the photo itself to me at livinlowcarbman@charter.net. You could see your picture show up in a future post here at my blog. The more we share these messages and explain why the way we’re doing things is perhaps wrong or misguided, then I think we can spark a genuine and authentic conversation about diet and health that is so desperately needed now more than ever before. Until that happens, we’ll keep chugging along sharing this message through the megaphone we have here. I’m grateful for your support of this blog and all the work I do with “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb.” If I can ever help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me anytime at livinlowcarbman@charter.net.

What’s in your Chicken McNuggets

Squirrels, pigs, elk, deer, raccoons, rats reject GMO food

Squirrels, pigs, elk, deer, raccoons, rats reject GMO food

Corn-experiment

The farmer grinned as he told the visitor, “Watch this!” He called his pigs, which ran frantically towards him to be fed. But when he scooped out corn and threw it on the ground, the pigs sniffed it and then looked up at the farmer with confused expectation. The farmer then scooped corn from another bin and flung it near the pigs, which ran over and quickly devoured it.

The farmer said, “The first corn is genetically engineered. They won’t touch it.”

It’s not just pigs that swear off genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In South Africa, Strilli Oppenheimer’s chickens won’t eat genetically modified (GM) corn. Most buffalo in Haryana, India, refuse cottonseed cakes if made from GM cotton plants. Geese migrating through Illinois only munched sections of the soybean field that was non-GMO. When given a choice, elk, deer, raccoons, and rats all avoided GMOs. And even during the coldest days of Iowa winter, squirrels, which regularly devour natural corn, refused to touch the GM variety.

One skeptical farmer who read about the squirrels wanted to see for himself if it was true. He bought a bag full of GM corn ears, and another of non-GM, and left them in his garage till winter. But by the time he fetched the bags, mice had done the experiment for him. They broke into the natural corn bag and finished it; the GM cobs were untouched.

Doctors prescribe no GMOs

No one knows why the animals refuse GMOs, but according to a 2009 statement by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), when lab animals do eat GM feed, it’s not pretty. “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” says the AAEM policy paper, which specifically cited infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system, among the impacts of eating GMOs. “There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects,” they wrote. “There is causation…”

Although we humans don’t have a natural sense to stay away from GM foods, AAEM’s position indicates that we should take a lesson from the animals. This renowned medical organization, which first recognized such dangers as food allergies, chemical sensitivity, and Gulf War Syndrome, called on all physicians to prescribe non-GMO diets to all patients.¹ They also called for a moratorium on GMOs, long-term independent studies, and labeling.

Former AAEM President Dr. Jennifer Armstrong says, “Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions.” Renowned biologist Dr. Pushpa M. Bhargava and many others believe that GMOs may be a major contributor to the deteriorating health in America since GM foods were introduced in 1996.

GMOs on your plate

There are eight GM food crops: soy, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, and a little bit of zucchini and yellow squash. The two primary reasons why plants are engineered are to allow them to either drink poison, or produce poison.

Poison drinkers are called herbicide tolerant. Their DNA is outfitted with bacterial genes that allow them to survive otherwise deadly doses of toxic herbicide. The first five crops on the list above have herbicide tolerant varieties. The poison producers are called Bt crops. Inserted genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus Thuringiensis produce an insect-killing pesticide called Bt-toxin in every cell of the plant. That is found in corn and cotton. The papaya and squashes have virus genes inserted, to fight off a plant virus. All GM crops are linked to dangerous side effects.

Pregnant women and babies at great risk

GM foods are particularly dangerous for pregnant women and children. After GM soy was fed to female rats, most of their babies died – compared to a 10% deaths among controls fed natural soy.² GM-fed babies were smaller, and possibly infertile.³

Testicles of rats fed GM soy changed from the normal pink to dark blue.3 Mice fed GM soy had altered young sperm.4 Embryos of GM soy-fed parent mice had changed DNA.5 And mice fed GM corn had fewer, and smaller, babies.7

In Haryana, India, most of those buffalo that did consume GM cottonseed ended up with reproductive complications such as premature deliveries, abortions, and infertility; many calves died. About two dozen US farmers said thousands of pigs became sterile from certain GM corn varieties. Some had false pregnancies; others gave birth to bags of water. Cows and bulls also became infertile.

Eating poison in every bite

When insects take a bite out of the corn and cotton plants engineered to produce Bt-toxin, their stomach splits open and they die. Because that same toxin is used in its natural bacterial state as a spray by farmers for insect control, biotech companies claim that it has a history of safe use and can be incorporated directly into every plant cell.

The Bt-toxin produced in GM plants, however, is thousands of times more concentrated than natural Bt spray, is designed to be more toxic, has properties of an allergen, and cannot be washed off the plant.

Moreover, studies confirm that even the less toxic natural spray can be harmful. When dispersed by plane to kill gypsy moths in Washington and Vancouver, about 500 people reported allergy or flu-like symptoms.¹, ¹¹ The same symptoms are now reported by thousands of farm workers from handling Bt cotton throughout India.¹²

GMOs provoke immune reactions

GMO safety expert Dr. Arpad Pusztai says changes in immune status are “a consistent feature of all the [animal] studies.”¹³ From Monsanto’s own research to government funded trials, rodents fed Bt corn had significant immune reactions.¹, ¹

Soon after GM soy was introduced to the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50%. Ohio allergist Dr. John Boyles says “I used to test for soy allergies all the time, but now that soy is genetically engineered, it is so dangerous that I tell people never to eat it.”

GM soy, corn, and papaya contain new proteins with allergenic properties.¹ In addition, GM soy has up to seven times more of a known soy allergen.¹ Perhaps the US epidemic of food allergies and asthma is a casualty of genetic manipulation.

Animals dying in large numbers

In India, animals graze on cotton plants after harvest. But when shepherds let sheep graze on Bt cotton plants, thousands died. Investigators said preliminary evidence “strongly suggests that the sheep mortality was due to a toxin…most probably Bt-toxin.”¹ In one small study, all sheep fed Bt cotton plants died; those fed natural plants remained healthy.

In an Andhra Pradesh village, buffalo grazed on cotton plants for eight years without incident. On January 3rd, 2008, 13 buffalo grazed on Bt cotton plants for the first time. All died within three days.¹ Bt corn is also implicated in the deaths of cows in Germany, and horses, water buffaloes, and chickens in The Philippines.²

In lab studies, twice the number of chickens fed Liberty Link corn died; 7 of 40 rats fed a GM tomato died within two weeks.²¹ Those rats had refused to eat the tomato and had to be force fed.

Worst finding of all – GMOs remain inside of us

The only published human feeding study revealed that even after we stop eating GMOs, harmful GM proteins may be produced continuously inside of us; genes inserted into GM soy transfer into bacteria inside our intestines and continue to function.²² If Bt genes also transfer, eating GM corn chips might transform our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories.

Warnings by government scientists ignored and denied

According to documents released from a lawsuit, in 1991 – 92 scientists at the FDA repeatedly warned that GM foods might create allergies, poisons, new diseases, and nutritional problems.²³ But the White House ordered the agency to promote biotechnology, and Michael Taylor, Monsanto’s former attorney, headed up the FDA’s GMO policy. That 1992 policy – still in effect today – declares that no safety studies on GMOs are required. Monsanto and other producers determine if their foods are safe. Taylor later became Monsanto’s vice president, and was reinstalled at the FDA in 2009 by the Obama administration as the US Food Safety Czar.

Opting out as guinea pigs

Biologist Dr. David Schubert of the Salk Institute says, “If there are problems [with GMOs], we will probably never know because the cause will not be traceable and many diseases take a very long time to develop.” In the 9 years after GM crops were introduced in 1996, Americans with three or more chronic diseases jumped from 7% to 13%.² Allergies doubled in less time. And the incidence of low birth weight babies, infertility, and infant mortality are all escalating. But without any human clinical trials or post marketing surveillance, we may never know if these or other disorders like autism, obesity, and diabetes, are triggered or made worse by GMOs.

We don’t need to wait for more research to learn our lesson from the animals and the doctors. Consult the Non-GMO Shopping Guide (www.NonGMOShoppingGuide.com) to learn how to avoid GMOs. Even a small percentage of people choosing non-GMO brands could force the food industry to remove all GM ingredients. By doing so, you are not only being careful about your own health, you are being compassionate to the environment and future generations – since GMOs wreak long-term havoc in our ecosystem as well.

Cotton-candy-flavored grapes are all-natural but also really disturbing

Cotton-candy-flavored grapes are all-natural but also really disturbing

grapes

At NPR, the Salt has brought to our attention the “Cotton Candy grape.” It tastes, as its name suggests, like cotton candy:

“When it pops in your mouth, the first impression is a rush of cotton candy flavor,” says Spencer Gray, a personal chef in Culver City and blogger at Omnivorous who has sampled the grapes. “The green grapes don’t look or smell like cotton candy,” he tells The Salt, “but they will remind you of a circus.” His son, he says, loves them.

Biting into a grape and getting the flavor of cotton candy sounds like an intensely traumatic experience. But before rushing to condemn this adulteration of nature’s candy, you might want to consider this. David Cain, the grapes’ designer, is aiming to “bring back the natural flavors of our grapes,” says NPR. They are conventionally bred. They don’t have much more sugar than your average grocery store grapes — just 12 percent more. They just don’t have a strong tart element, so all you’re tasting is the sugar, and a hint of vanilla that gives the grapes that cotton candy flavor.

On the other hand, the Los Angeles Times points out that grapes like these “pack enough sugar that they may as well be Skittles on the vine.” (That’s an exaggeration; they have about five grams of sugar per ounce, whereas Skittles have more like 20.) Like GMOs, these plants are patented and licensed out to growers. And while the grapes probably are better than candy, they’re part of the same market that sells massive quantities of sugar to American eaters:

“We’re competing against candy bars and cookies,” said Cain, 62, a former scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture who now heads research at privately owned International Fruit Genetics in Bakersfield.

All that said, if these are a gateway drug to kids eating more fresh fruit, we’re tentatively in favor.

Dr Chassy: ‘None of the animals and plants we eat today exist ‘in nature’, they have all been extensively genetically modified’

Dr Chassy: ‘None of the animals and plants we eat today exist ‘in nature’, they have all been extensively genetically modified’

What precedent might it set if firms are forced to label foods made using new technologies, even if the end product does not differ in any meaningful way from foods developed by ‘traditional’ methods?

A Race to Save the Orange by Altering Its DNA

link to full New York Times article A Race to Save the Orange by Altering Its DNA

CLEWISTON, Fla. — The call Ricke Kress and every other citrus grower in Florida dreaded came while he was driving.

“It’s here” was all his grove manager needed to say to force him over to the side of the road.

The disease that sours oranges and leaves them half green, already ravaging citrus crops across the world, had reached the state’s storied groves. Mr. Kress, the president of Southern Gardens Citrus, in charge of two and a half million orange trees and a factory that squeezes juice for Tropicana and Florida’s Natural, sat in silence for several long moments.

“O.K.,” he said finally on that fall day in 2005, “let’s make a plan.”

In the years that followed, he and the 8,000 other Florida growers who supply most of the nation’s orange juice poured everything they had into fighting the disease they call citrus greening.

To slow the spread of the bacterium that causes the scourge, they chopped down hundreds of thousands of infected trees and sprayed an expanding array of pesticideson the winged insect that carries it. But the contagion could not be contained.

They scoured Central Florida’s half-million acres of emerald groves and sent search parties around the world to find a naturally immune tree that could serve as a new progenitor for a crop that has thrived in the state since its arrival, it is said, with Ponce de León. But such a tree did not exist.

An orange from a tree infected with citrus greening, right, is stunted compared with a normal orange. Richard Perry/The New York Times

“In all of cultivated citrus, there is no evidence of immunity,” the plant pathologist heading a National Research Council task force on the disease said.

In all of citrus, but perhaps not in all of nature. With a precipitous decline in Florida’s harvest predicted within the decade, the only chance left to save it, Mr. Kress believed, was one that his industry and others had long avoided for fear of consumer rejection. They would have to alter the orange’s DNA — with a gene from a different species.

Oranges are not the only crop that might benefit from genetically engineered resistance to diseases for which standard treatments have proven elusive. And advocates of the technology say it could also help provide food for a fast-growing population on a warming planet by endowing crops with more nutrients, or the ability to thrive in drought, or to resist pests. Leading scientific organizations have concluded that shuttling DNA between species carries no intrinsic risk to human health or the environment, and that such alterations can be reliably tested.

But the idea of eating plants and animals whose DNA has been manipulated in a laboratory — called genetically modified organisms, or G.M.O.’s — still spooks many people. Critics worry that such crops carry risks not yet detected, and distrust the big agrochemical companies that have produced the few in wide use. And hostility toward the technology, long ingrained in Europe, has deepened recently among Americans as organic food advocates, environmentalists and others have made opposition to it a pillar of a growing movement for healthier and ethical food choices.

Mr. Kress’s boss worried about damaging the image of juice long promoted as “100 percent natural.”

“Do we really want to do this?” he demanded in a 2008 meeting at the company’s headquarters on the northern rim of the Everglades.

Mr. Kress, now 61, had no particular predilection for biotechnology. Known for working long hours, he rose through the ranks at fruit and juice companies like Welch’s and Seneca Foods. On moving here for the Southern Gardens job, just a few weeks before citrus greening was detected, he had assumed his biggest headache would be competition from flavored waters, or persuading his wife to tolerate Florida’s humidity.

But the dwindling harvest that could mean the idling of his juice processing plant would also have consequences beyond any one company’s bottom line. Florida is the second-largest producer of orange juice in the world, behind Brazil. Its $9 billion citrus industry contributes 76,000 jobs to the state that hosts the Orange Bowl. Southern Gardens, a subsidiary of U.S. Sugar, was one of the few companies in the industry with the wherewithal to finance the development of a “transgenic” tree, which could take a decade and cost as much as $20 million.

An emerging scientific consensus held that genetic engineering would be required to defeat citrus greening. “People are either going to drink transgenic orange juice or they’re going to drink apple juice,” one University of Florida scientist told Mr. Kress.

And if the presence of a new gene in citrus trees prevented juice from becoming scarcer and more expensive, Mr. Kress believed, the American public would embrace it. “The consumer will support us if it’s the only way,” Mr. Kress assured his boss.

Workers inspected orange trees and marked the infected ones. Citrus greening has turned up in millions of trees.

His quest to save the orange offers a close look at the daunting process of genetically modifying one well-loved organism — on a deadline. In the past several years, out of public view, he has considered DNA donors from all over the tree of life, including two vegetables, a virus and, briefly, a pig. A synthetic gene, manufactured in the laboratory, also emerged as a contender.

Trial trees that withstood the disease in his greenhouse later succumbed in the field. Concerns about public perception and potential delays in regulatory scrutiny put a damper on some promising leads. But intent on his mission, Mr. Kress shrugged off signs that national campaigns against genetically modified food were gaining traction.

Only in recent months has he begun to face the full magnitude of the gap between what science can achieve and what society might accept.

Orange you ready for a tall glass of GMOs?

for link to article Orange you ready for a tall glass of GMOs?

It’s rare that us lowly eaters experience any personal gain from genetically modified food. But over the weekend The New York Timespublished a long piece by Amy Harmon that made the benefits of genetically modified oranges explicit.

That benefit? Having any oranges at all. An insect-spread disease, which turns oranges green and sour, is spreading throughout the world. Harmon quotes one scientist as saying:

People are either going to drink transgenic orange juice or they’re going to drink apple juice.

That may be a bit of an overstatement: Orange groves are succumbing fast, but growers are fighting back.

Growers in Florida did not like to talk about it, but the industry’s tripling of pesticide applications to kill the bacteria-carrying psyllid was, while within legal limits, becoming expensive and worrisome. One widely used pesticide had stopped working as the psyllid evolved resistance, and Florida’s citrus growers’ association was petitioning one company to lift the twice-a-season restrictions on spraying young trees — increasingly its only hope for an uninfected harvest.

Ricke Kress, president of Southern Gardens Citrus, is trying a different strategy: genetically modifying orange trees to resist the disease. It looks like he has succeeded. But Kress is haunted by the possibility that no one will want to drink his genetically engineered OJ.

“Will they believe us?” he asked himself for the first time. “Will they believe we’re doing this to eliminate chemicals and we’re making sure it’s safe? Or will they look at us and say, ‘That’s what they all say?’”

At least one reader did believe it. A New York commenter with the handle Ancient Astronaut wrote:

Genetically modified foods concern me, but I have to say that I’d prefer tested GM food over food soaked in pesticides any given day of my life. Genes, after all come from nature; chemicals don’t.

Aside from the fact that chemicals do, in fact, come from nature — everything in nature is made of chemicals! — this seems an apposite example: When people are faced with a problem, and genetic modification is one of several choices for dealing with that problem, we might just pick it. It’s a lot tougher to swallow when we have no choice, and the only benefit we see is to the bottom line of agribusiness.

Of course, many, many, other commenters weren’t convinced. As I read, I began to develop an inkling of an objection myself. It’s not as though this disease came out of nowhere. Kress is in a rush to find a quick fix and save his business, but the rest of us are under no such obligation. Sure, the proximate cause of citrus greening is a virusbacterium, and that begs for a cure. But it’s worth slowing down long enough to ask what the ultimate source of this problem is — and whether there might be a larger solution.

To see the bigger problem, you have to understand that the orange is a pure product of human modification. Harmon writes:

The orange, for its part, might never have existed had human migration not brought together the grapefruit-size pomelo from the tropics and the diminutive mandarin from a temperate zone thousands of years ago in China. And it would not have become the most widely planted fruit tree had human traders not carried it across the globe.

The orange is an utterly domestic fruit. That means there’s no pool of wild oranges to tap for new genetic variations. Orange seeds are usually genetically identical to their mother, making them hard to breed. And growers fill their groves with clones, each grafted onto a hardy rootstock. It would be hard to design a system more felicitous to disease.

As one friend put it, the impulse to reach for genetic engineering seems “lazy.” This friend, a scientist, thought it better to rethink the system, to look to polyculture (many species in a field) rather than monoculture (one species repeated over and over). In this case, we may need genetic engineering to get oranges to survive in any kind of agriculture because its genetic lineage is so narrow.

The point is that a lot of the resistance to GE food comes from the perception that it’s a solution, not to our problems, but to the problems of unsustainable agriculture. And so far, that perception has been mostly correct. There are exceptions, though, as detailed in this article by Paul Voosen (which, by the way, inspired Harmon’s piece).

Twitter

The other big objection to Harmon’s piece was that people didn’t trust agribusiness to handle this technology. As another commenter put it:

I’d feel a lot better about GE food if I felt it was being tested properly by people without vested interests.

Even though the testing described in the piece is fairly extensive:

And when the E.P.A. informed [Kress] in June 2012 that it would need to see test results for how large quantities of spinach protein [to be genetically engineered into orange trees] affected honeybees and mice, he gladly wrote out the $300,000 check to have the protein made.

It was the largest single expense yet in a project that had so far cost more than $5 million. If these tests raised no red flags, he would need to test the protein as it appears in the pollen of transgenic orange blossoms. Then the agency would want to test the juice.

That’s a lot of testing, in my humble opinion. And yet, it’s conducted in a way that does not inspire confidence (i.e. companies in charge, confusing language, as I wrote about here).

Harmon does a nice job of addressing (and knocking down) many of the more unsophisticated arguments against GM food in this piece. Reading between the lines also offers a glimpse of the more legitimate complaints: People want to be able to weigh the costs and the benefits, they want crops that aren’t just a crutch for an unsustainable system, and they want an independent regulatory apparatus. There’s more to this than primal fear.

Update: I ascribed citrus greening to a virus — it’s actually thought to be a symptom of a bacterium. Sorry about the goof.