GMOs - Continued

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

We've come from here:

How many tobacco executives saw the studies, knew about the health implications of their product, and yet concealed it - even denied them - for years? That's all I'm saying about GMOs and the corporate mindset. I would like to see many more independent studies on that subject.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Thanks for the new thread. I'd encourage anyone finding this one to be sure and read the precursor for a lengthy and very informative debate over GMOs.

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

Thanks for the new link, GHG.

One quick thought: I believe that the GMO developers are likely obliged to follow a particular testing protocol--they certainly can't just do "any old test"--and the tests would be closely monitored and witnessed by government agencies. The reason the developer pays for testing is that the alternative would, in the end, be higher taxes. (Of course, in the end, whether funded by taxes or corporate dollars, the consumer ends up footing the bill.) Perhaps drobarr can confirm this.

Vista, CA

GG, Thanks for setting up the thread.

Rick, I am sorry you are so disillusioned in all the rest of us. Of course there are some crooks among us, like Enron and the Communications guy in the South, but i have really found the vast majority of people i have met in all walks of life, to be basically honest, and untrustworthy people account for less than 10 or 15%.

As far as who is to blame, i have said it before and will repeat it. Pogo had the answer, when he said " I have met the enemy, and He is US."


Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I don't know how accessible the link will be, but I just read this article in the current issue of The New Yorker. It's about a Berkeley scientist who has linked atrazine to gender-shifting abnormalities in frogs as well as in humans and who has been the subject of a long-term campaign by the company making atrazine to discredit him. Which is just the sort of thing I've been expressing concerns about.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

That looks really interesting gg. I will read it all.
Shame x 100 on companies that try to discredit scientists.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)


You said:
>> who has been the subject of a long-term campaign by the company making atrazine to discredit him.

I don't say its unlikely that Syngenta would try to discredit his work if it cast their products in a bad light. But that article seemed say consistently "HE thought that" and "HE wondered whether".

You said "has been the subject of a long-term campaign by the company". Are you taking that conclusion from other sources, or did I miss something in the New Yorker article?

It is a huge factual leap from "one guy wonders whether" and "one guy fears" to "it happened".

Besides, the retaliation I would expect from Syngentia is to give their testing business to Yes-Men in the future, and bad-mouth his results with plausible arguments or even semi-plausible double-talk. That's all they need to do unless he has some hard evidence of what he asserts. And if he does have hard evidence, other endocrinologists will use his techniques and duplicate (or disprove) his results. Bad mouthing from big companies gives more notoriety than distrust among researchers. Among funding agencies ... I'm not so sure. But BS only works against soft results. Clear results are a very big stick with which to defend yourself.

If Professor Hayes had a shred of evidence of actual "black bag" harassment against Syngentia, he could do more damage to them among the research community than they can to him. That would be a huge tool for them to hand him, for little gain to themselves.

Also, you said:

>> a Berkeley scientist who has linked atrazine to gender-shifting abnormalities in frogs [b]as well as in humans[/b]

The New Yorker only said this, and I didn't notice any reference to any work on atrazine in humans:

>> But, when Hayes discovered that atrazine might impede the sexual development of frogs, his dealings with Syngenta became strained, and, in November, 2000, he ended his relationship with the company.

Did you conclude what you said about "in humans" from this article or some other source?

P.S. I'm no herpetologist, but if Jurassic Park got its facts right, many frog species can change gender under stress - like males becoming physiologically able to bear young. That might make them a very sensitive system with which to search for potential effects on one species' endocrine system, but it It is a huge leap from "impede the sexual development of frogs," to "gender-shifting abnormalities in frogs as well as in humans". Did you have a source for those two changes, or was it an unintentional misquote? ("In humans" and also "gender-shifting abnormalities" instead of "impede the sexual development".)

topic shift:

BTW, so we don't talk at cross-purposes: Roundup-Ready GMO crops are an ALTERNATIVE to atrazine. If atrazine is shown to be worse than was thought, that makes GE crops MORE attractive. It's yet another example of GE allowing farmers to use herbicides that are less toxic to humans (or frogs).

>> The use of GMO crops – particularly RoundUp Ready varieties – may mean that farmers are transitioning from atrazine to Roundup as their primary defense against weeds.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> i have really found the vast majority of people i have met in all walks of life, to be basically honest, and untrustworthy people account for less than 10 or 15%.

Ernie, I can agree with that as you you stated it there. Most people are pretty decent and certainly decent enough NOT to poison children if they thought about it that way. Perhaps even tobacco advertising people who devise campaigns to get teenagers addicted don't think that way!

However, I think two sad things that are relevant.

First, the people who can rise to power in big corporations are more ambitious than I am, and, I think, less devoted to abstract honesty than you are. Are those promotions based on "who's a nicer guy?" or "who can improve our bottom line the most despite "claims" that tobacco or insecticides might be toxic?"

As part of the first sad thing, include that the "temptation" at the top is greater than the temptation for the rest of us. My CEO got a $40 MILLION dollar bonus last year. I'm glad I don't have a 20-foot tall stack of 4100 bills tempting ME to second-guess engineering decisions that I make on a daily basis!

And those CEOs have power, which is said to be even more addictive than greed.

I recall a company Christmas party back in the 1980s, when three ambitious and sleazy younger managers had succeeded in getting the much older Top Guy to retire. I overheard the Gang of Three muttering to each other that they would make many changes once the old Top Guy was out. "He was a GENTLEMAN", one of them sneered, and the rest laughed. That was also a formative experience for me. Not just that they were low-life jackals replacing a respected lion, but so arrogant that they didn't even feel a need to hide their contempt for anyone who was honest and fair to people under him.

That was a company where the very sleaziest scum was assigned to whatever department had the greatest need for deceit - usually union relations, but then when the town began to realize what we dumped in the river and atmosphere, PR. Because his last name sounded close, we called him "Gary Liar". You could tell when a memo tacked to the bulletin board was from him without checking the signature. It started with glowing generalities and then had an ambiguous sentence that a decent person would have used to say something reassuring. But a lawyer couldn't pin it down to mean ANYTHING you could sue about. Dozens of times I stopped in the 2nd or 3rd paragraph of a full-page memo, looked down, saw "Gary Liar" as expected, and wasted no more time.

When i was a supermarket clerk, one task i had was to sort through bags of rotten potatoes, pulling out the not-yet-runny ones and re-bagging them as if fresh. We did NOT do this where customers could see, and did NOT advertise the fact.

My experiences with managers even in small companies has not been as positive as yours.


Even basically honest and quite honest people are influenced consciously AND unconsciously, by their fears, desires, loyalties and ideologies. What we believe, what we pay attention to, and what we passionately deny are driven as much or more by emotion than by "logic". Logic applies more often to math than to any real-world problem. In the real world, "who do you trust" is often a more practical approach than knowing ALL the technical nuts and bolts of a complicated issue, or the subtleties of a dubious issue.

Hence I no longer trust an online open-source journal (ISIS) once I've seen clear evidence that they publish deceit & BS. Many people don't trust anything funded by a corporation. Others don't trust anything from a government source. Many WILL NOT believe a claim that contradicts something they already feel strongly about.

Given that kind of process as a substitute for "pure logic" (if "pure logic" really is practiced much anywhere outside of math journals and the fictional planet Vulcan) it's small wonder that we fail to reach consensus about a complicated, subtle, dubious public policy issue like widespread use of GMOs.

P.S. It's not even a bad process. We HAVE to gauge the likelihood of every claim we encounter, and WHO said it IS relevant to how much weight we should give it. I mentioned a book, "Web of Belief", by Quine. It did a good job of clarifying how many subtleties go into everyday decisions.

- - - - - - - - - -

When I say "dubious", I mean hard to measure, prove or disprove in concrete, simple terms.
- What is "safe enough"?

- What kinds of tests can prove an intangible negative claim like "will never be harmful"?

- What are the "best" tradeoffs among highly toxic pesticide residues, allegedly larger residues of less toxic glyphosphate, allegedly less productive 'organic' methods, and the alleged likelihood of widespread famine in the absence of continued increases in crop yields?

Not only are the facts hard to establish, but questions of relative VALUE come in.)

end of digression
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

My friend from tobacco country was loyal to pretty much everyone she grew up with, so every obvious thing she read and heard about danger from tobacco bounced right off and was labelled "false".

My SO's brothers are all very (fill-in-the-blank)-leaning political partisans, and they believe the most obviously slanted things they hear on (fill in one kind of news outlet).

Becky and I lean the other way, we think her brothers' news sources are lying scoundrels, and we believe 70-80% of what we read in (news source slanted the other way).

And yet all the deluded idiots I've just described would do well in an IQ test! The real world is complicated. Consistent honesty to self even when emotions are involved is the hardest honesty to cultivate.

Evidence that might strike a purely neutral person as "influential" or "fairly persuasive" is likely to be seen by passionate partisans as "flawed science" or "shocking proof" - depending on which way your passion leans.

I think that our unconscious is ALL too smart, and is constantly thinking things like: "If I let Rick believe THAT, he would have to do THIS, and he might lose his job, or have all his MIT buddies laugh at him, and I fear both of those. Therefore I will only let Rick believe THAT."

So unfortunately, what I think is even sadder than you thought, Ernie.

Even the 75% or 80% (or 90%) of people who strive to be as honest as they possibly can be, and think they ARE honest and never "lie", still reach many OPPOSITE conclusions from very similar evidence. They reach conclusions "honestly", but because we all wear glasses colored by our prejudices, experiences, fears, desires and loyalties, the conclusions tell us more about the people than about the facts they cling to or deny.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

RicCorey, - did you see the evidence from Syngenta internal documents, released because of lawsuit, that specifically talked about Hayes?

(or did I read glance thru your rebuttal above too quickly , and see that you discuss it?)

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I didn't see that in the NY'er article. Oh, shoot! There are 8 more pages?? Thanks, I may have to continue tomorrow.

Short form from the first three pages - yes Syngentia DID try to belittle his work with lame put-downs, but had no success because the science biz worked the way it always does - when there's something that CAN be shown clearly, some team will find the funding to get that prestige for themselves ASAP.

Syngentia did not succeed in suppressing his results:

"Hayes has devoted the past fifteen years to studying atrazine, and during that time scientists around the world have expanded on his findings, "

"Though his lab was well funded, federal support for research was growing increasingly unstable, and, like many academics and administrators, he felt that he should find new sources of revenue. "

That certainly is a real problem. Chemical companies have concentrated capital, but "the public" only has big bucks if they can pay taxes and get legislators to allocate money to things that are "in the public interest".

"Hayes wanted to repeat and validate his experiments, and complained that the company was slowing him down and that independent scientists would publish similar results before he could."

That really rings true on the research side. It also supports both sides of this debate: "bad nasty companies don't want to pay for research that shows they produce hazardous products" and "that doesn't stop researchers who want the prestige of publishing results (first) that no one can shoot down".

“It will appear to my colleagues that I have been part of a plan to bury important data.”

The kiss of death. Probably a lot of researchers would rather risk being shot from a dark alley than risk colleagues snickering at their integrity. Or risk being scooped!

"Hayes repeated the experiments using funds from Berkeley and the National Science Foundation."

That's what I think makes attempts to suppress research likely to be futile, until money is so tight that no one can do any work in the field. The truth is everywhere, and one company can only withhold ITS funding (unless they have lobbyists.)

"a statistical consultant, who listed numerous errors in Hayes’s report and concluded that the results were not statistically significant. Hayes’s wife, Katherine Kim, said that the consultant seemed to be trying to “make Tyrone look as foolish as possible.” Wake, the biology professor, said that the men on the EcoRisk panel looked increasingly uncomfortable. “They were experienced enough to know that the issues the statistical consultant was raising were routine and ridiculous,” he said. “A couple of glitches were presented as if they were the end of the world. I’ve been a scientist in academic settings for forty years, and I’ve never experienced anything like that. They were after Tyrone.”

" I’ve never experienced anything like that"

Really? Snarky, lame academic put-downs don't surprise me. Having most people in the room recognize them for what they are doesn't surprise me. If they had said that two sides of an academic debate were nagging each other and having mutual hissy fits because when one side was finally proved wrong they would lose prestige and have to come up with new and different research proposals to get their funding back, I would think "business as usual, three or four PhDs don't make you mature or wise".

I admit, when one side is a billion-dollar company with millions riding on the outcome, it sounds more serious than half a dozen post-docs trying to show that the group with tenure and department chairmen are clinging to mostly-disproved theories.

When I depict research teams like children squabbling, I don't mean to imply that is all they are. I recognize this, too, but researchers are usually too humble to say it out loud - good for Professor Hayes:

“Science is a principle and a process of seeking truth. Truth cannot be purchased and, thus, truth cannot be altered by money. Professorship is not a career, but rather a life’s pursuit. The people with whom I work daily exemplify and remind me of this promise.”

"Fussy critiques of scientific experiments have become integral to what is known as the “sound science” campaign, an effort by interest groups and industries to slow the pace of regulation. "

That also sounds typical. Bought-and-paid-for letters to the editor and articles written for Fox News by a wholly-owned "freelance columnist" aren't going fool anyone with half a clue. I think of those as totally lame, self-defeating campaigns, but maybe they do influence more people then I would think. I think of that kind of smear BS as similar to junk press by the "other side", that slap headlines like "GMOs Cause Leukemia!!!" onto a study that never said any such thing.

Hot air, sound and fury signifying nothing except the moral bankruptcy of large for-profit bureaucracies and ideological zealots alike.

Pathetic attempts that discredit either whole, partisan side. Indeed, the main effect of that campaign has to be to discredit Syngentia and every study they advance in the future. Before this, I just assumed that they and Monsanto would do this general kind of thing (but I thought they would be more subtle and effective!) Now i know it about Syngentia.

I still have trouble buying into the "never sleep in the same room twice" theory. Partly because it would be counter-productive for Syngentia whether they failed or succeeded. And maybe they are not THAT evil.

But I see your point - yes that is a sleazy attempt to discredit him. I hope I'm right that is a completely ineffective attempt.

"“Industry has learned that debating the science is much easier and more effective than debating the policy,”"

Good point. We do have to keep reading claims closely, and remember who the gross liars were last year, so we can be extra skeptical next year. Like global warming. the "theory" that we're having unusual and extreme weather. I guess that will be "junk science" until Manhattan is under water!

I'm sorry, that was only the first three pages. I hope I have time tomorrow.

Thanks for pointing out there was more than the first page. That first page would have STUNK as a whole article!

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I didn't realize that you hadn't read the whole thing, so I was surprised at some of your comments in the first post. The link to problems with gender expression in humans came as a result of epidemiological research - noting the presence of higher numbers than would be statistically expected of children born with genitals which were malformed or hermaphroditic in areas in which the waters tested high in atrazine. You'll come to that if you keep reading. Syngenta tried to go after the researcher and he pointed out that he hadn't done experiments - he was just pulling together data. I may be remembering the details incorrectly but that was the gist of it.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

It sounds like atrazine could be our new "DDT"

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I know, and it's chilling that the FDA is accepting industry standards for safety and is still refusing to pull it from use.

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

What is safe and what is unsafe? I have read the opinions here but no one has stated what is safe and what is unsafe. I don't think people here trust the companies to evaluate their products for safety, and I don't think they trust the University studies, that are normally paid for by the Companies marketing the products, and it obvious you can't trust the inapt government agencies to give a truthful answer. So how does a company determine the safety of a product to be released? How do we as individuals determine the safety of a product with no trustworthy source to turn to? Who do you trust in other words? Is it measured in parts per billion, or in deaths per million? The environment groups have reached the point of being nothing more than a huge industry and are turning out to be as untrustworthy as any huge industry, so what is safe and who determines it? If a product causes one death, is that safe? What are your standards? How is a company to go about meeting those standards? Why are university studies untrustworthy, why are companies and governments and environmental agencies untrustworthy? Follow the money and you will see, but what are the alternatives?
If we don't have an answer maybe we need "more studies"...?

This message was edited Feb 6, 2014 10:16 AM

Decatur, GA(Zone 7b)

RickCorey, I really appreciate your evaluation of the various ways in which intelligent and thoughtful people can come to various and disparate conclusions. I also greatly appriciate the thought and analysis you and others are putting into this subject. It really helps to hear the reasoned arguements from both, or should I say every, side.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

How about that "buying of website names" or search terms or whatever? A company buying a scientists name, though he doesn't even work for them? ( for the purpose of leading searches to their preferred material. ) Kind of a different subject, but shouldn't a person's name be sort of privately owned, if you will? inherently trademarked?

Vista, CA

Probably our greates protection comes from Hungry Lawyers that read obituaries, looking for people that have been killed or harmed by Large Corporations with deep pockets. Corporations are very aware that if they do slip up and harm someone, either accidentally or on purpose, the Lawyers will be on them like a Duck aftter a Junebug.

As you know, i appreciate the different perspectives and thoughtful points you post. On the trusting question, one of my sons, age 65, has the same skepticism about people in general that you do. Both him and I have suffered betrayal and dishonesty from people we trusted, so our differnt opinions of people in general does not seem to make much difference in actual experiences with others. The difference seems to be how we personnaly feel about others as we make our way through life.

Another point you made about Corporations and lying employees needs to be balanced. I doubt that you have ever been asked by upper management to lie or distort any research you have been involved in, simply because there is an old adage, that is absolutely true. "A PERSON THAT WILL LIE FOR YOU WILL LIE TO YOU". [ Or more commonly expressed, " A person that will steal for you will steal from you."], And to foster such a dishonest culture will destroy any organization. But there are always people like the ones you described, that will give in to their own weakness and perhaps encourage the people in their department or area to do things that will give them a short term gain. A well run company is continually on the lookout for those people, and when found, they are terminated or demoted for the greater good of the Organization.

And when the corruption reaches all the way to the top, like in the Enron case, the organization soon collapses. So while i agree with you that there is moral failure in individuals, it is simply not a workable method for Corporations, with all the checks and balances the free market, Lawyers, Regulations, Competition, etc., that must be allowed for.

In your field of research, if the dishonest researchers and employees are not identified and removed, the Corporation would be in the position of trusting the valuable information the research uncovers to untrustworthy employees. That would just not work in the real world.


Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Seedfork said:
>> What is safe and what is unsafe?

That a large part of the problem. If people dropped dead in droves the first time someone over-sprayed with atrazine, existing legal methods would work fine.

But it could take decades before enough millions of people are exposed to "enough" of something unsafe to create provable body counts that "debunkers" can't claim that "bad statistics" made the body count "bad science".

I assume that most people WOULD want to suppress something that DOES cause cancer or birth defect deformities from drinking the water. Then the question is probably "can you prove it's related to atrazine" than "how many deformed babies are too many".

We can err more on the side of caution if we remain open to alternative methods such as GE.

Nothing makes a difficult choice easier than having a good alternative!

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

you were completely right and thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt until I found 'continued on pages 2-9". I'm going to have to come back to that next week, to see if he was mostly complaining about the kind of sleazy innuendos that academia does have some of, or whether Syngenta really is tapping his phone and lurking in shadows with silenced pistols.

I was super glad to see that other researchers are rushing to publish first and that his work is already being extended all over the world. Almost as good as publishing first is seeing hundreds of other papers citing you and using your techniques.

Researchers "win" when other people duplicate their techniques and validate their results. Corporations lose profits and market share when others build on their early work and release related products. I guess the dividing line for "legal" is defined by "patentable difference".

I guess I'm kind of a hippy when I think about the consequences to around 3-4 billion poor people today, and 5-6 billion hungry people in a few decades. There are some things that go better when there is real competition, but when there is a near-monopoly by a small number of companies with effective lobbying teams and aggressive lawyers, I don't think we get as many of the benefits of capitalism as many people assume.

Thanks very back, back40bean! It's good to hear that. Sometimes I feel like I'm arguing or (and against) both sides.

>> It really helps to hear the reasoned arguments from both, or should I say every, side.

I wish there was some pill of inhaler that a person could use to leave their memories intact, but suspend all emotions and prejudices for, say, 4 hours. I suspect that would be almost the only way to get totally reasoned arguments uncolored by bias. There has to be SOME reason that people can come to such different conclusions from viewing the same universe. Probably 80-90% of the population would realize they've been pretty UNreasonable about many things, from personal relationships to pesticides to politics. But even then, would most people come to the same conclusions from the same facts? The world is complicated and not every factual question has a clear answer.

"For every complex problem there is an answer
that is clear, simple, and wrong."
- H L Mencken

I think that kind of logic and reasonableness is mostly seen where there are no emotions, and little ambiguity in the reported information.

If we could clearly see all our own actual motivations (including unconscious and admitted motivations), I think many people would be embarrassed and become much better neighbors.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)


As you know, I respect your opinions very much even when I reach somewhat different conclusions.

>> I doubt that you have ever been asked by upper management to lie or distort any research you have been involved in,

That's true, but when I worked in a chemical plant, I certainly WAS "encouraged" not to go to town meetings and shout about what we dumped in the river. My peers knew they would lose their jobs, and it was clear to me that the "status quo" was not what I had been taught as a child.

And when I worked in a tumor immunology lab at a very big, very prestigious university, we were doing a very small study for some drug manufacturer. It was part of much bigger program, I'm sure. We were just applying my boss's specialty to some drug that was not very soluble (an assay that focused on some circulating immune cells' ability to form "rosettes" with other cells).

The protocol supplied by the drug company specified "sonicating" (I think that was the buzzword) the drug sample to suspend it and supposedly make it available to the mice or tissue culture cells or whatever we were testing with.

It seemed unlikely to me that sonicating would get much or any of that drug into fine enough bits that the test cells would actually ingest much. If they didn't ingest any, the test would show "no effect", which was good for the drug company. I suggested some things to my boss that would probably get more drug into solution or at least very fine suspension - thinking I was "improving" the test by making its results more meaningful.

He took me aside and explained that the drug company was paying us to do the test THEIR way, even if it was guaranteed to give a "sunny day" result. (Or, I figured out, ESPECIALLY if it guaranteed the result they wanted.)

Our "integrity" came from reporting exactly what we did and that we saw no bad results. Readers could infer that the test obviously COULD NOT have shown bad results (if they noticed how insoluble the drug was). We probably printed "this work was funded by 666 Corporation" and didn't mention that the payment also paid for research and equipment that he wanted A LOT so he could do his real cancer research. Temptation. And he wasn't lying in print, exactly.

And I think that when he stressed "it's just a study for a drug company" he was also saying that EVERY researcher knew that what you did "for money" was different from your real research, and judged by different standards by your peers.

Do federal regulators know that? Presumably yes. But also presumably they have to go by the results shown to them. Just like a judge can't tell a stupid prosecutor to ask the criminal if he had the gun in his OTHER pocket, the FDA probably has limits on how detailed they can be in demanding changes to test protocols. I don't really know, but I HOPE that the kind of latent design-to-fail test that we did was the exception and not the rule.

That's the kind of reason that I don't agree with you. I wish I could agree with you! But even a decent man who cared a lot about his integrity and reputation when doing "real research" would compromise a little when it was only "a paid study for a drug company".

And I figure that really big corporations look very hard to find the 1% or 10% of people whose desire for promotions plus their ability to double-think or deny exceeds their desire to be a sterling citizen and benefactor to mankind.

They do worry about getting sued. But the standard of proof in a courtroom is high, and the threshold of belief in the court of public opinion is even higher, if you have a team of skilled liars and a complicated subject.

Once they have plausible deniability, I think many companies care more about really large profits (or corporate survival) than about "the little people" or their individual personal ethical excellence.

You said:
>> A well run company is continually on the lookout for those people, and when found, they are terminated or demoted for the greater good of the Organization.

I believe that there are industries where the good liars are identified early and then promoted to where they can do the most good (for the bottom line).


>> if the dishonest researchers and employees are not identified and removed, the Corporation would be in the position of trusting the valuable information the research uncovers to untrustworthy employees. That would just not work in the real world.

That does sound reasonable, but I haven't found it to be the case in the few companies I've worked in. .

Anyone who stayed long at the chemical plant I worked in adopted the management attitude of "those government regulations were written by fuss-budgets who think hot dogs cause cancer". They were not hugely MOTIVATED workers, but that plant ran for decades until tightening regulations DID force it to close.

Looked at one way, you're right - in time regulators made it to expensive for us to continue - once they started testing for the right things. Looked at the other way, that company poisoned the town and that river for decades without a qualm.

If our pollutants had been subtle enough that management could have sold the idea that "di-chloro-benzidine causes cancer" is just junk science to the EPA, I think we would still be dumping.

Probably you have wider experience than I do, but my experience has been fairly consistent.

In one company, a VP was actively proud of what a scoundrel he was, though that mainly manifested in BSing customers and breaking his word. We did get into big trouble with the IRS one year, and his excuse was that his secretary "must have forgotten to mail the check". Almost comical.

His excuse for lying to customers was that "they should have KNOWN I was lying - my lips were moving!" You should be right that we should have gone out of business, but we had a product line that no one else did, with a good niche market, and they put up with him to get the machines.

But I mention him to bring up another example of how even good people can act bad in business. he showed ZERO conscience in any business matter and boasted of it, like a Bad Boy.

I used to think he was kind of a Bad Guy ... until I had a medical problem and had to miss work, work half time, then work from a wheelchair for a while. He was angelic when you scratched his corporate facade! He would pick me up from the airport, let me work on any terms that got some of the work done, and didn't really pressure me to go back to doing field trips and installations. Needless to say I DID go on trips as soon as I almost could and tired to give back.

His personal side exemplifies your vision of "most people are pretty good". But his business side suggests that Enron and British Petroleum were his personal role models.

People are complicated.

Vista, CA


All i felt like i should do is present what i have learned and obserrved in dealing with my employees, my customers and employees of other companies i did business with, I enterered management in 1950, and have been in business for myself since 1954, which will add up to sixty or sixty four years of close study of human nature, some time iin June of this year. Most of it was in the heavy construction industry, which is probably as tough and competitive as any Industry.

I try never to bullshit myself, nor allow others to mislead me, so what i believe probably has as much truth as what anyone else believes, but we all live in our own realitiies, so i understand that your truths are just as true to you as mine are to me. I am sure i have seen as many scoundrels as you have, and dislike them as much as you do, but the good, solid, honest people i have met far out number the bad ones.

We have both presented nothing but facts as we know them, and every one that has read this thread now has heard both sides, so we have done our duty, and it is left to the readers to believe as they will.

Your expertise, focused in the heart of this discussion has been of great interest and help for all of us to understand the entire process.


Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

GMOs and weed resistance -

And here's another study on the increase in herbicides in GMO crops due to weeds' development of resistance -

This message was edited Feb 9, 2014 9:43 AM

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I think we just better start eating weeds. Or how about we STOP using a third of our corn crop for ethanol?

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

Quote from greenhouse_gal :
We've come from here:

How many tobacco executives saw the studies, knew about the health implications of their product, and yet concealed it - even denied them - for years? That's all I'm saying about GMOs and the corporate mindset. I would like to see many more independent studies on that subject.

Its true many companies have done many bad things. Corporations are made up of people...of humans...and though I agree most of them are good...every once in a while you get a bad apple. Some of these errors are intentional and some are mistakes. The government for years and years requiered tobacco companies to put warnings on their products. I do not think you can make any comparisons here. Todays business climate is much different than say 50 years ago. Most companies want to be more sustainable and efficient, because their consumers demand it, and often it creates even greater profitability.

The difference between GMO crops and the tobacco industry is that GMO crops like medications have to go through multiple experiments over many years(many of them independent) and show they are safe in order to be approved by the government(3 separate agencies). They are highly regulated.

Auto companies have similar studies that show how dangerous their vehicles are and propsed changes they can do to make their vehicles safer but there is a cost with each of those improvements. I can see lawsuits one day to this effect...that the auto executives knew they were producing dangerous products and all to sell more units...they were greedy right? Can you see it?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Independent studies are great. There's just only so much money to go around.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

sallyg, you probably don't know anything about the ethanol business.
The corn used in ethanol, something like 75% goes back to feed livestock. That part is higher quality feed than the whole corn.

Air pollution is decreased by the use of ethanol. Also keeping fuel costs down.

I saw a clip on how it is made last night. Showed them making gel caps for vitamins & medicines.
Throw them all out! They are a soy oil based product. Didn't say anything about using non GMO soybean oil. How many health conscious people are eating them everyday ?

And the beat goes on.

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

I can make any product be it atrazine, table salt or even water look very toxic and dangerous. The problem with these studies is they often look at rates that are much higher than anyone is ever going to come in contact with. And just because they cause certain harm to a frog at very high rates doesnt mean they will cause any harm to a human.

Atrazine is applied preemergence in corn. By the time Corn is harvested 120 days later there is not detectable Atrazine in the corn grain.

The main problem with atrazine is that it is highly mobile in the soil and and moves down into the soil and gets into the groundwater. So I agree GMO crops are a better choice.

Everything you do or apply be it or organic or conventional has risks. Hand hoeing has risks. You can injury your back, cut your foot, get skin cancer from being out in the sun etc. The key is trying to find methods that are efficient and safer than the alternative. Nothing in agriculture will ever be perfect...the goal is to make things better.

There is no doubt we have a safer cleaner and more healthy and abundant food supply than history has ever seen. And this is due to all these technological advances.

All pesticides go through rigorous testing with animal feeding studies by independent labs that last multiple years. Animals are fed various concentrations of pesticides and they find out acute and chronic toxicities. They find out if there are effects on their posterity, if they develop cancers or any other health problems etc. Studies are also done to measure residues on the final crop comodity after it is harvested. All of this information helps to develop a label to know when it is safe to many days before harvest, at what rate, how many times per season etc.

"...animal tests...are conducted for traditional pesticides used by both the agricultural and home and garden sectors. Often, one test will be conducted multiple times either using different species of animals or with different variations of the pesticide material, including the technical grade active ingredient, the pure active ingredient, the manufacturing product, and/or the end use product.
The doses in animal tests are chosen to specifically elicit a toxic effect, so they are almost always 100 to more than 1,000 times higher than the dose to which humans will ever be exposed. ....
The animals used in these procedures are always killed and examined at the end of the tests. Approximately 13,000 animals die for one pesticide to be brought to market ...."

Its ludacris to think that these products are not tested very rigorously for safety both to our health as well as the environment over multiple years. Its not one or two studies...but hundreds of them.

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

Quote from greenhouse_gal :
GMOs and weed resistance -

And here's another study on the increase in herbicides in GMO crops due to weeds' development of resistance -

This message was edited Feb 9, 2014 9:43 AM

Weed resistance can happen with all herbicides regardless if the crop is GMO or not. Every time an herbicide, insecticide or fungicide is it conventional or organic you are putting selection pressure on the population and you are creating resistance. Same thing when you take an antibiotic.

It is important to rotate modes of action and use cultural and other practices to prolong or minimize resistance. Most growers are doing this because they plan to be in business a while.

There was resistance to many classes of herbides long before GMO crops came about and there will always be. That is why it is important to come up with new chemistries because the more options there are, the less likleyhood resistance will develop. Older more toxic chemistries had multiple sites of action which made it very difficult for resistance to occur. Now the EPA only approves much safer single site of action pesticides which are much less toxic and are much more prone to resistance. So one thing to keep in mind is that our regulatory climate is favoring products that plants, diseases and insects can develop resistance to much easier.

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

Before someone says theses things arent tested enough do some homework....

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

drobarr, you know what these people are going to come back with, EPA is paid off by Monsanto!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Thank you CountryGardens, I did NOT know that at all! Big change in my opinion on ethanol. So , wow.
(By the way, I had started a longer post that included saying maybe we should stop using all that corn for ethanol. THen I decided to delete that and go with the short post above. I just decided it was more digression I wanted to avoid. So I guess CountryGardens was able to see it at one point.- while I was flipping windows )

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

My background is as an engineer working for a small defense contractor. Government oversight and participation in our everyday activities was intense and constant. Based on my experiences of over 30 years of this, I find the idea of a Government agency being bought off, or even being lenient in favor of a corporation, to be ludicrous. Even if someone was corruptible, so many people are in a position to know the truth that it would be impossible to keep non-compliance a secret. Conspiracies just can't happen--and be kept secret for long--when dozens of people are involved, much less the likely hundreds of folks involved in the GMO testing process.

As a quick aside, my understanding of corn ethanol is that the energy savings are quite small; the amount of energy obtained from corn is little more than what it took to produce it. Plant sources like sugar cane have a much more favorable energy balance. That's why Brazil's ethanol is a good deal. Alas, we can't grow sugar cane here. And growing any crop requires land, labor, chemicals...It gets pretty complicated quickly.

This message was edited Feb 9, 2014 2:16 PM

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

They are trying to get a biomass plant going here using Switchgrass. I have no idea where they will grow the grass. Every bit of land is farmed here now. They talk road ditches, but in recent years they have become a very good source of income for people making ditch hay & selling it to horse & beef people.
Friends of ours, (they are both in their 70's), baled up 7000 small bales last summer. Stuff is selling for 5 to 7 dollars a bale. Most they sold right off the hayrack.

How much does it cost to produce electricity. First they mine the coal, haul it to a plant, burn the coal to produce the electricity, plus lines to get it to the consumer. I don't know why people think you can produce ethanol without expense. Dumb thoughts, I guess.

Vista, CA

I think we should all commend GG for her tenacity and endurance in standing up for what she believes. Most of the people that expressed the same beliefs early on in this discussion have either changed their minds or given up,but she has continued to standfast.

I would like to have her on my side of the battle if if was for something we agreed on.


Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I agree with Willy re ethanol. Are you also aware of what it does to small engines? There was a class action suit a couple of years ago coming out of California on behalf of all the boat owners whose engines were ruined by this additive, but I never heard what became of it.

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

I've received “Mendel in the Kitchen” and I'm about 2/3 of the way through it. Fascinating, informative book; I heartily recommend it to you all. If you've hung in there during the entire duration of this thread, you owe it to yourself to learn the details of GE, and other forms of plant breeding. There's a lot of good info and details that don't make the newscasts—which I think should uniformly be ignored when evaluating real science. Some of the book is a little tough for a non-biologist (like me), but for the most part it's readily accessible to an interested lay person. Take my advice and get a copy.

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

Ethanol containing gasoline ruined my weed eater and mower and blower. I buy ethanol free gas for those small engines now. They run much better and keep power over a longer period of time and last longer.

Ethanol is typically added up to 10% by volume but does not provide much help in MPG from what I have read. So in my mind it is a filler.

Ethanol has also been heavily subsidized at a cost of billions of dollars to taxpayers. Demand for corn for ethanol has increased the price for corn making food more expensive. This has made more acres planted to corn and less acres planted to other crops which in turn has also raised those prices. Though an increase in price in commodities has been great for our farmers, they havent been good for consumers especially those on the lower end of the economic ladder.

Willy I agree there is little chance for a corporation like Monsanto to buy any influence with the EPA. The EPA makes many of the stringent requirements and they very frequently deny registrations all the time. I havent seen anything the EPA has done to be business friendly at all. They frequently cause delays, require additional testing or data and in general cause frustration for any company trying to get a product registered.

Switchgrass might be a better option over corn becuase it produces large amounts of biomass with very little imputs.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Minnesota doesn't have land to raise switchgrass.

Minnesota also requires 10% ethanol in all the gasoline. We have used it for I can't remember how long. Never had a problem in any engine. We use a 1951 Farmall tractor & a 1960 John Deere tractor in our vegetable field. Both run on the blend.
We can buy almost any blend up to 80%. A mechanic in town runs all his vehicles on 50% blend. Non of them are flex fuel.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

drobarr, ethanol ruined our outboard, too. The marina people told us that that's happening all the time with boat motors and other small motors. Bernie, you're just lucky, I guess.

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