Thursday, February 26, 2015

This is What We Are Up Against

This Facebook post frames the problem we face as educators. So much of the public is clueless, paranoid, and knows nothing about basic biology. This is why folks like US-RTK must silence and intimidate scientists.  If anyone learns, they lose their power to influence them. 


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Manufacturing a Turning Point

When US-RTK filed the public records request on the #science14, they didn't realize they were creating a turning point in public perception.

The public is sick and tired of those that waste limited public funds to abuse important transparency mechanisms, or even hacking, to silence or harass scientists. 

The public sentiment sees this as slimy, expensive, and an undue attack on their public scientists, just like ClimateGate. 

For instance, two days ago there was a post on GMOInside.com's facebook page that claimed that I was "afraid" of the public records request and gave the impression that I was somehow refusing to cooperate.  

I posted that I have always been 100% in compliance, and to their credit, they let my post stand.  Within a day, that post had 1000 "likes" and over 1000 supportive comments.  I have obtained screen caps of all of it from Philip Crews and others, and will immortalize that thread on this blog in the coming days. 




My response to their allegations of obfuscation. 944 "likes" when this was captured.  The site was eventually taken down, as their smear campaign was not shaping up the way they wanted it to.


The Facebook Post was Removed- Why?

1. Fear of litigation. I asked them to kindly cease and desist.  Their comments were defamatory and certainly libelous, as they suggest that I am hiding something and refused to comply.  That is patently false, suggests I am not following the law, and absolutely damaging, as it was shared on hundreds of other sites.  Their lawyers probably blew in their ear that they crossed a line.

(MORE LIKELY) 2.  Overwhelming Fail.  Just about every comment on that thread was supportive of me and of science.  It was amazing.  There was nobody able to defend their position that I was not in compliance, and if anything, it came across as repulsive and slimy.  This smear campaign is one that did not go their way.


YOUR Scientists need YOUR help!

Look how your involvement changed an entrenched activist website!  YOU created a turning point in this discussion. 

Remember, I am YOUR scientist.  Whereas they want to paint me as a some back-pocket Monsanto lackey, I'm proud to work in public science.  I'll ALWAYS maintain relationships with these corporations and maybe someday I'll be fortunate enough to talk Monsanto into sponsoring YOUR research. 

The difference between this being an isolated victory and the turning point in public perception is how public YOU help make it.  Let's face it, this attack on YOUR public scientists is wrong, and it is backfiring.  

What you need to do now. 

1.  Use email or Facebook to contact any magazine, paper, whatever, (especially science ones) and bring this to their attention-- a case of public scientists being interrogated and libeled for teaching science. 

2.  Post a note on media websites, facebook pages, include them in tweets.

3.  Go to science-friendly websites and podcast websites, like Skeptics Guide to the Universe, Talk Nerdy, Radio Lab and Science Friday.  Show them how YOUR scientists, the #science14, are being harassed by an expensive nuisance public records request-- because they taught science on a science website!


I've said from the beginning, we must not let US-RTK and activists control this situation. We should not play defense.  Some researchers involved have been told to remain silent. I won't do that. 

This is time for us to go on offense, as people demanding the truth,  as a scientific community, as a concerned citizenry, and as people standing up for science, reason, and THEIR scientists.  


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Rethinking Through Our Temptations

Since the public records request was filed against fourteen public scientists, its intent has become increasingly clearer.  It is nothing more than a hunt for words to smear a few visible public teachers and researchers that engage public dialog in animal and plant biotechnology. The effects are larger, scientists feel a violation of privacy, intimidation, and are less likely to reach out to lay audiences, which is what we should be doing most. 

This is a malicious waste of public resources, and a hunt to harm those that said nothing outside the scientific consensus. 


Baseless personal attacks still hurt, but the truth is out there. Let's resist the urge to put others through this legal invasion of privacy.  (Millions?)


Over the last week I have heard calls to return the favor.  They came from those impacted by the US-RTK action and our supporters.  

Yes, there are a few individuals with university ties that decry transgenic plant technology.  Some have suggested that they should also receive a public records request.  There has been discussion of filing retaliatory requests for their information, their emails, and their written correspondences. 

I disagree, and appeal to not filing any counter-actions. The filing of nuisance FOIA requests to fish for information to harm others that have done nothing ethically wrong is unacceptable.  We should not tolerate it against our friends, and we should not tolerate it against those we disagree with.  

Ironically, they are the ones that speak in opposition to the 99% of scientists, and their motivations are the ones most suspect. These are the folks most likely with interests to protect. 

Let's let the science do the talking.  Let the research continue to accumulate.  Let trained scientists interpret that for an interested public. 

My personal position is to not subject "the other side" to such inappropriate, expensive and uncalled for probes.  They are doing a fine job sinking themselves as they continue to fight science. 

Instead, let's take the high road that they don't know.  Let's continue to stand up for science and reason, let data do the talking, and continue to teach, especially to those we disagree with. 


Thursday, February 19, 2015

True Intentions

All of my private emails are being turned over as per Gary Ruskin's request for public records via US-RTK as planned.  There was never any push back, no question of our compliance. 

But this appeared across the internet today:



Here GMO Inside characterizes me as a "Monsanto Activist" and makes the false statement that there is some sort of non-compliance.  This shows their true intent. 


If we can't even trust these people when we are in full cooperation and compliance with the law and the request, how can we expect them to behave when over two years of private correspondence is turned over to them? 

Frankly, I don't care.  Nothing was done wrong.  There was no crime committed, and my handful of interactions with anyone in the Big Ag world aren't too exciting.

What this shows is that this is NOT about a Right to Know.

This is about a Campaign to Destroy. 


This is an activist desire to harm the reputation of a public scientist. We are in full compliance, never gave any hints otherwise. 

This is a malicious witch hunt, and if this does not prove that, I don't know what does.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Arctic Apple Deregulated - Predictions?

The "rubber stamp" of regulatory approval, that takes millions of dollars and more than a decade to get, has been finally bestowed upon the Arctic Apple, and the company that invented it, Okanagan Specialty Fruits. This apple varieties have their browning mechanisms deactivated using RNAi, a process that essentially eliminates the enzyme required for the browning process.  After years of testing and regulatory hoops, we can now enjoy them. 



'Bout time! I've been hearing about the damn thing since the 90's. The Arctic Apple joins the ranks of one of the most tested foods of all time. 

These apples don't brown when you cut them, making them an improvement for many applications.  I know I'll buy them because I like apple slices, and can have fresh ones, right from the apple rather than expensive pre-cut ones in bags with chemical treatments and modified atmospheres. 

There is plenty of discussion online about how it works and why it is of benefit to consumers, so if you want to know that stuff, you can find it.  

However, science isn't as much fun as crazy conjecture.  

So let's make predictions! 

1. It will be labeled.  On purpose! -  The superior performance will add value for consumers, so the company will undoubtedly label them with special packaging noting that they are Arctic Apples. 

2. Hundreds of new anti-Arctic Apple images will appear online. --  I'm guessing that there are plenty of folks sitting with a few apples, some food coloring and and handful of grandma's insulin syringes manufacturing the next generation of apple scare art! You'll see lots of images of kids eating apples with skulls and crossbones on them. Wait for it!

3. You'll read about how they are untested and unsafe. To scare the bejeebers out of apple eaters there will have to be plenty of derived accounts of allergies, diseases and maybe even claims of spikes in autism. Watch for them!

4.  You'll read about Monsanto's new apple.  You can't tarnish the image of a new product if it is something made by a small Canadian company with four full-time employees.  You need to tie the product to Monsatan! 

5.  You'll see pressure on apple growers in general. Apple growers will be coerced into not growing Arctic Apples and you'll see common boycotts of all apples due to fear. 

6.  Claims of contamination.  You'll read about how organic apple growers can't sell their trees anymore because they are all contaminated with Arctic Apple pollen.  Of course, they forget that apples are propagated by cuttings and grafting. 

7.  We'll hear of the "revolving door of collusion" between Okanagan Specialty Fruit and the U.S.Government.  Even though you can fit all of the company's full-time employees into one revolving door. 

8.  I'll get a FOIA request for all communication with Okanagan Specialty Fruits.  Because I understand the science and discuss it on my website, conspiridorks at US-Right to Know and other NGO's will be certain that I have been paid by Okanagan Specialty Fruits to cover up the deadly poison apples. They'll ask for all of my email correspondence with OSF and its agents, which we'll happily provide, as the harassment of scientists continues. 


There you have it, my predictions for the Arctic Apple.  Congrats to Dr. Neal Carter and his group.  We're looking forward to your next innovations. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Take the Ugly Food Challenge

In the industrialized world approximately 40% of harvested food never is eaten.  Think about that. The limited resources of water and fertilizer, along with the expensive chemicals that protect plants from pests and pathogens, plus labor, fuel and other inputs... all of that wasted because food is not eaten.

My entire life I've been grateful for food.  I've been thankful to have access to so much, and glad to have options that the vast majority of people do not.  


A mound of wasted produce, enough to make me soup for life. Wasted nutrition for those who would love access to produce, even if it is slightly imperfect. 



It is heartbreaking what we throw away, especially what is discarded at the retail level. A 1995 USDA report say that 5.4 billion pounds of consumable food are added to landfills. 

There are many solutions on many levels.  However, change is most likely to occur if solutions are simple and implementable. 

Over the years I've made a point to buy the piece of produce that nobody else will buy.  We've all seen it.  It has a blemish, a funny color spot, maybe a dent or it is too small or large.  While perfectly edible, it typically remains unpurchased.  

Buy that one. Take a picture, post it on Twitter with the hashtag #UglyFruitandVeg .  That's not my idea, but it is alive and well in the tweetysphere, often in association with the @endfoodwaste username. 

This simple step does not solve the problem.  In fact, its impact is pretty small.  However, that piece of slightly imperfect fruit is better than what 90% of people on the planet have access to.  Think about that, and enjoy it, knowing that you are helping to decrease this first-world problem.

More importantly, spread the word.  Let's use this simple and implementable step to raise awareness of food waste.