The problems in discussion or why we are where we are!

Laura Sutherland

Posted on bees and Monsanto – Ref 1 with 2 and 3 as background

Piers Newland 

And an alternative blog opinion – Ref 4

Chris Hemmings 

OK, I’m sat waiting for a train so I read it. Full of flaws, distraction argument and so lacks objectivity.
So we talk of Monsantos, so we check the source of the Glyphosate, so the GM neonic coated seed is collaboration between two companies. As has often been noted, two wrongs do not make a right!
No, Monsantos are not evil. It’s the operators one has to blame. The agro systems that have evolved that use GM+Neonics+glyphosate are deeply destructive in oh so many ways.
If you have to use such then so be it – that’s your job – but please don’t pretend it has no negative outcomes.
Go organic – as you say, you can still buy your seeds from a Monsanto!

Piers Newland

Have you any studies that demonstrate harm from GM produce?
Bear in mind that millions of animals are fed GM feed every day. And the source of insulin.

Chris Hemmings 

Don’t need them as I was talking of the environmentally destructive nature of the system that uses GM. However, as a geneticist by training, I am deeply aware of the folly of releasing recombinant DNA bundles into the wild, to intercross with native species etc.
As for insulin, as with any business, first create your market. Thus, here, the solution is to NOT CREATE diabetics ie dietary.

Piers Newland 

So, you’d rather harvest insulin from the pancreas of dogs or pigs?
And, yes you do need citations, otherwise you are just telling stories (anecdotes). That’s not how science works.

Chris Hemmings

 Hmm, did you read what I wrote?
No, I didn’t think that you had….
So, next time, read and understand before you attempt to negate.

Piers Newland

 I read it. Citations please or it didn’t happen. If you are scientifically trained you know that’s how it works.

Chris Hemmings

 You ever read or even hear of Silent Spring, Rachel Carson’s 1962 classic, essentially on DDT?
Modern agricultural systems are taking silence to ultimate extremes.
Go listen to the Archers..

Piers Newland 

^^^ yup, my first degree was environmental science (ecology specialism).
Citations, or it didn’t happen;that’s science.

Chris Hemmings 

Sorry, but exactly how naive are you?

Piers Newland

 So, you concede because you can’t provide citations for your claim that GM is inherently harmful?
Google Scholar is a good search engine and your local libraries should be able to access the full texts for you.

Chris Hemmings 

This is not Nature, this is a political discussion group. Showing you know about a search engine is not part of any such process, anyway.
GM is inherently unstable, very expensive, subject to out breeding and other pollution incidents and drives monopoly capitalistic monoculture, clearly environmentally damaging.

Piers Newland 

You concede, you have no science to back up your stance?
You have presented no reliable evidence.
JC is in favour for evidence science in politics, at least when I asked him in Doncaster last year (yes, know it’s an appeal to authority, but it’ll do for “politics”).

Chris Hemmings Frankly its not for me to do that. If you want such an agricultural system, prove that it is safe AND sustainable.

Piers Newland 

I did not make the initial claim, the onus is not on me. However, I’ll see what I can dig out of the library 

Refs 5, 6, 7 and 8

Piers Newland 

They are meta analyses, so cover many more studies.

Chris Hemmings 

1 Economics is not a science, nor relevant here. (Ref 5)
2 Again I didn’t discuss any human health impact. (Ref 6)
3 Nor any impact on livestock. (Ref 7)
4 So there’s just your raptor friend. (Ref 8)
Can’t write full critique – only on a phone – but he (or she) glosses over points to give apparent weight where there is none. So:
“Little or no evidence that GM agric harms wild animals”. The whole point of the system is to reduce all botany to a single species which the farm operator harvests. Huge decrease in biodiversity is built into the system. Obviously. No selectivemegametamegalomaniacal survey can mask that fundamental flaw.
Sorry, but if with ecological training if you cannot see this then I’d go back to Leeds and complain to your tutors. Can’t say fairer ‘n that.

Piers Newland 

And you discount the studies
Playing chess with pigeons
Agriculture is essentially monocultural with tweaks to enhance yields.
We cannot sustain hunter gatherer lifestyles, we have to produce efficiently. GM is a tool to that end and reduces the application of pesticides and fertilisers.
They also reduce diseases (golden rice, insulin production etc).

Chris Hemmings 

The alternative is NOT “hunter gatherer” – who the hell suggested that? Modern agricultural systems are reckless, short-termist and destructive. GM is just adding to that problem, moving further from sustainable production.
You do not answer, just ignore my observations and make vague, spurious comments like “playing chess with pigeons”.
Think I’m bored with this now. Ciao.

Piers Newland 

Given up? 

Chris Hemmings

No, just bored . But I will transfer it to my blog, as it’s a good descriptor of the nature of the problem.

References for discussion

1 –

2 –

3 –

4 –

5 –

6 –

7 –

8 –


About greencentre

Non grant supported hence independent scientist, green activist, writer and forest planter.
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