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(RealClearPolitics)   The Party of Science(tm)? In my vaccine/autism links and GM Foods conspiracies? It's more likely than you think   (realclearpolitics.com ) divider line
    More: Obvious, Democrats Really, California Democrats, California Democratic Party, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., autism, alternative medicines, conspiracy, genetically modified food  
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2059 clicks; posted to Politics » on 10 Sep 2012 at 6:58 PM (4 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-09-10 10:46:44 PM  
Are there really people here against informing consumers? It would take a very small piece of real-estate on the labels and would inform people who do care about what they're purchasing. If you don't think the majority in government or in the public that care about this, then vote on it and it won't pass but obviously there's some interest in this.
 
2012-09-10 10:51:05 PM  

abb3w: common sense is an oxymoron: Some of them really do believe there's a distinction between "science" and "technology." Apparently, modern technology isn't derived from scientific discoveries at all; instead, it's divinely imparted knowledge.

I think you're more referring to the (bogus) difference between "observational science" and "historical science". There is a difference between science and engineering/technology, however; science is about answering how the universe IS, engineering is more about making it over the way you think it OUGHT to be.


I've seen the argument that technology has nothing to do with science used quite a few times as a creationist rebuttal to the argument that if the supporting evidence for evolution is false, then how have we been able to develop technologies that work based on that false knowledge?

Note to creationists: A tornado blowing through a pile of aircraft parts and producing a functional 747 is no less likely than building a working 747 using the plans for Noah's Ark as a guide.
 
2012-09-10 10:56:42 PM  

Putter: Are there really people here against informing consumers? It would take a very small piece of real-estate on the labels and would inform people who do care about what they're purchasing. If you don't think the majority in government or in the public that care about this, then vote on it and it won't pass but obviously there's some interest in this.


I wouldn't be against INFORMING consumers: What I am against is that "informing" consumers comes down to either:

a) OMFG! IT'S NEW AND SCIENCEY THEREFORE BAD! WE NEED TO KNOW EVERY SINGLE POSSIBLE RAMIFICATION BEFORE WE EVEN THINK OF CONSUMING THIS HORRIBLE STUFF!!
vs.
b) There is absolutely nothing wrong with genetic modification that could possibly affect anyone, you're a scaremonger for even questioning it and here's your Soylent Green citizen.

The problem is that way too many people (on both sides of the aisle) think technology=bad=this stuff is poison AND that too many other people (ditto) think meh! we've been genetically modifying stuff for millennia, why are people being such asswipes? There's a vast gray middle ground that needs to be rationally examined and considered, and neither of these extreme paranoid/eunoid views are any use at all.
 
2012-09-10 11:05:22 PM  
Satanic_Hamster: HeartBurnKid: Ummm... no. It just requires them to be labeled as containing GMO foods. I'm not sure why anybody has a problem with this; I understand the science that shows that GMOs don't have ill effects, and I wouldn't stop buying them, but anything that gives a consumer more information is a good thing.

It adds no useful information. Why not add the skin color of the business that made it, or what day of the week the fruit was picked?


Sure it does, as it allows you to vote with your wallet.

I don't think GMO foods are bad because of some ninja turtles possible mutation bullshiat. I don't think they're a great idea because we're limiting crop diversity, or BigFarma is going after the little guys who through no fault of their own get their crops contaminated with patented pollen. Labels allows me to make a choice about what I spend my money on, because there are some issue involved with GMO foods that have nothing to do with crackpot health issues.
 
2012-09-10 11:12:56 PM  

way south: Building big, building bold


The excitement is at the other end of the scale, these days.

www.proyectosalonhogar.com

 
2012-09-10 11:16:22 PM  

common sense is an oxymoron: cptjeff: You're envisioning a narrow set of practices you don't like, but those practices are entirely unrelated to the remedy you're proposing. GMO labeling would cause consumer panic over perfectly normal and benign things while addressing exactly none of the concerns you've listed about Monsanto.

In short, it's a moronic proposal put forward by people who simply don't know what the fark they're talking about.

"Perfectly normal" =/= "benign." If a soybean has genes to make it tastier by boosting its pre-existing sugar level, then I'm okay with that. If it has genes to make it more insect-resistant by boosting its pre-existing phytoestrogen level, that's something else entirely. Interspecies transgenics have the additional risk of unexpected allergic reactions unless adequate labeling is present.

Informing the consumer is not only not moronic, but the anxious mother of little Precious Snowflake might actually buy that GMO applesauce if she can be assured that there aren't any peanut proteins lurking in it.


Anxious mother of precious snowflake is too stupid to understand it, at least without a whole lot of PR to correct the image problems. Smaller companies will be hurt more than big ones who can afford the PR firms. Companies using perfectly innocent and nutritionally sound practices will suffer on a fairly random basis before customers learn enough to make anywhere near an informed decision, and that's bad.

Informing consumers doesn't lead to good things when you're informing them of something that has a negative perception, but is perfectly innocent. More information isn't always better, sometimes it leads to increased confusion. And when you present information selectively or in certain ways, it biases the consumer against something perfectly innocent. For an example, back when cigarette companies first came out with filters to make themselves look safer, there was a company (forget which, heard this on an NPR bit) that refused to add them, knowing they were utter bullshiat. That company went bankrupt, because the other tobacco companies advertized that their products had filters, and consumers drew the obvious conclusion- these must be a good thing, so why don't those guys have them? Consumers had more information, but only selective bits- they weren't told the full story, and made a really stupid collective decision.

Putting these labels on products would be an acknowledgement that genetic modification is something untoward, worth warning people about. And you don't think that would cause a negative consumer reaction? Of course it would. And that reaction would be totally unwarranted, and would hurt businesses following perfectly normal and scientifically sound practices.

To me, this is like putting a label on a product saying: "Warning, this product is not magnetically aligned." That's going to confuse the consumer, and hurt companies, that aren't run by tinfoil wearing kooks, doing perfectly normal things.
 
2012-09-10 11:17:35 PM  

common sense is an oxymoron: I've seen the argument that technology has nothing to do with science used quite a few times as a creationist rebuttal to the argument that if the supporting evidence for evolution is false, then how have we been able to develop technologies that work based on that false knowledge?


...I'm not sure that parses, even by creationist standards. Can you find an instance of this on-line somewhere?
 
2012-09-10 11:21:03 PM  

verbal_jizm: way south: If Democrats or Republicans want to be the science party, demonstrate you know how to deliver the goods.

In the last twenty four years, Deomcrats have been the ones to increase science basic funding more during their presidential administrations.


dl.dropbox.com

Eh... not feeling it.
Mars probes have launched under each of the last three presidents. All met with varying levels of success, but the manned mars program hasn't moved an inch from where it was thirty years ago. NASA isn't the only agency short funded either.

Someone who wants to claim the "party of science" title should be talking about the future as much as they blather about social issues. Yet even this year its been an afterthought. If I recall, both Obama and Romney have devoted all of a paragraph in their platform to talk about these issues.
Its like saying you want to claim the title of Iron Chef after boiling an egg.
I'm not going to be convinced that any politician has earned a damn thing until I see some smoke and fire.
 
2012-09-10 11:26:18 PM  

Putter: Are there really people here against informing consumers? It would take a very small piece of real-estate on the labels and would inform people who do care about what they're purchasing. If you don't think the majority in government or in the public that care about this, then vote on it and it won't pass but obviously there's some interest in this.


I'm against providing misleading or incomplete information to consumers. It's not just about there being more information, it's how you present that information and how somebody is likely to interpret the presence of that extra information.

Say you put a label on pens saying: "The ink in this product contains chemicals derived from petroleum." Consumers would read that and interpret it as a bad thing, even though it's perfectly normal and completely harmless. As a result, people panic and start buying inferior pens from a manufacturer that don't have the label, even though that manufacturer is lax on the safety testing and their ink might be poisonous to infants, but since it's made from coal, they don't have to put the label on. Congrats, you just managed to kill a good corporate citizen using a perfectly safe and normal practice in favor of one using something less safe. You provided customers with more information, but it was the wrong information and made them believe something was more harmful than it was.
 
2012-09-10 11:28:14 PM  

way south: verbal_jizm: way south: If Democrats or Republicans want to be the science party, demonstrate you know how to deliver the goods.

In the last twenty four years, Deomcrats have been the ones to increase science basic funding more during their presidential administrations.

[dl.dropbox.com image 703x468]

Eh... not feeling it.
Mars probes have launched under each of the last three presidents. All met with varying levels of success, but the manned mars program hasn't moved an inch from where it was thirty years ago. NASA isn't the only agency short funded either.

Someone who wants to claim the "party of science" title should be talking about the future as much as they blather about social issues. Yet even this year its been an afterthought. If I recall, both Obama and Romney have devoted all of a paragraph in their platform to talk about these issues.
Its like saying you want to claim the title of Iron Chef after boiling an egg.
I'm not going to be convinced that any politician has earned a damn thing until I see some smoke and fire.


NASA funding != basic science funding. Pull up the numbers for the NSF and whatnot too, if you want to be honest about it.
 
2012-09-10 11:35:07 PM  

cptjeff: way south: verbal_jizm: way south: If Democrats or Republicans want to be the science party, demonstrate you know how to deliver the goods.

In the last twenty four years, Deomcrats have been the ones to increase science basic funding more during their presidential administrations.

[dl.dropbox.com image 703x468]

Eh... not feeling it.
Mars probes have launched under each of the last three presidents. All met with varying levels of success, but the manned mars program hasn't moved an inch from where it was thirty years ago. NASA isn't the only agency short funded either.

Someone who wants to claim the "party of science" title should be talking about the future as much as they blather about social issues. Yet even this year its been an afterthought. If I recall, both Obama and Romney have devoted all of a paragraph in their platform to talk about these issues.
Its like saying you want to claim the title of Iron Chef after boiling an egg.
I'm not going to be convinced that any politician has earned a damn thing until I see some smoke and fire.

NASA funding != basic science funding. Pull up the numbers for the NSF and whatnot too, if you want to be honest about it.


Or NIH.
 
2012-09-10 11:42:11 PM  
The anti-science nuts in the democratic party don't make up the core constituency.

The anti-GMO thing seems to rile up the left and the right nuts...

FFS though anti-gmo and vaccine autism nuts are dumb as hell. Like that woman, Michelle Bachmann, who said her supporters were retarded or something....
 
2012-09-10 11:53:52 PM  
FTA: "...the only reason Democrats are considered the "pro-science" party is because the media, for whatever reason, has decided to give them a free pass on scientific issues."

Anybody who forms their opinion on politics or politicians based on what the news media says is an idiot.
 
2012-09-10 11:55:06 PM  
the article cites the world health organization as one that does not support GMO food labeling, yet the WHO/UN labeling standards actually include a section for labeling GMO foods.

www.codexalimentarius.org/input/download/standards/360/cxg_032e.pdf
 
2012-09-10 11:58:38 PM  

DjangoStonereaver: It just goes to show that there is leftwing DERP.



You're equating wanting labels on GM foods with believing the earth is five thousand years old? Or that global warming isn't happening?
 
2012-09-11 12:02:47 AM  
oops, wrong link. here we go.

Link
 
2012-09-11 12:07:28 AM  
Democrats aren't inherently intellectuals, they simply enjoy thinking they are. Tis is akin to saying republicans are more religiosity. No, but they enjoy thinking they are. Both are lies and wrong. But hey, stereotypes have always been such a good thing in the past, lets continue to use them.
 
2012-09-11 12:12:24 AM  

way south: If I recall, both Obama and Romney have devoted all of a paragraph in their platform to talk about these issues.


Neither had all that much to do with the substance of the party platform, from reports; a few language tweaks, but not much more. They at least both gave written answers to some questions. Or delegated some staff to do so on their behalf; whichever.

That said, I'm not particularly impressed with either set of answers, myself.
 
2012-09-11 12:19:13 AM  
...the only reason Democrats are considered the "pro-science" party is because the media, for whatever reason, has decided to give them a free pass on scientific issues....


The feebleness and absurdity of this article and what it is trying to accomplish demonstrates the remedial-reading-class nature of the GOP base. I don't buy for a second that every single republican politician actually believes the bile that dominates their discourse, but they all know exactly how to play to the ignorance and paranoia of their base.
 
2012-09-11 12:22:24 AM  

Putter: Are there really people here against informing consumers?


"Informing" can spread misinformation. When product packaging declares that is XYZ-free, it gives consumers the impression that XYZ is potentially bad. This is why we now have a nation of idiots who insist on buying alcohol-free hand sanitizer.

This is the problem with requiring products to be labeled GMO: opponents of GMO crops cannot produce scientific evidence that GMO crops are harmful to humans, so they want the labeling in place to give the false impression that there is some kind of health issue. But if there is no evidence of a health issue, then providing that information is just a scare tactic.
 
2012-09-11 12:35:11 AM  

Proteios1: Democrats aren't inherently intellectuals, they simply enjoy thinking they are. Tis is akin to saying republicans are more religiosity. No, but they enjoy thinking they are. Both are lies and wrong.


Actually, Republicans do have higher religious attendance rates than Democrats, and similarly tend to be less likely to less likely to doubt the existence of God. (The asymmetries are primarily among whites.)

I'm not sure how you'd measure "intellectuals". Education? Throwing out the pure independents (who tend disproportionately ill-educated) and blacks (who due to post-Goldwater GOP platform stances on race tend Democrat across the board, beyond resolution of GSS sample size), people tend lean increasingly to the GOP with increased education... up to the limit of a Bachelor's degree. Then there's a bit of a "Jump to the Left". (The effect is more pronounced among liberals rather than Democrats, per se. You can also plug in the variables to look at the effect of not dealing with the strong race/party correlation, if you'd care.)

But of course, these are only tendencies; there's a distribution, in both cases. Contrariwise, simply dismissing the stereotypes as "lies and wrong" overstates the case, and ignores that there is some statistically legitimate basis underlying the stereotypes.
 
2012-09-11 12:36:53 AM  

cptjeff: common sense is an oxymoron: cptjeff: You're envisioning a narrow set of practices you don't like, but those practices are entirely unrelated to the remedy you're proposing. GMO labeling would cause consumer panic over perfectly normal and benign things while addressing exactly none of the concerns you've listed about Monsanto.

In short, it's a moronic proposal put forward by people who simply don't know what the fark they're talking about.

"Perfectly normal" =/= "benign." If a soybean has genes to make it tastier by boosting its pre-existing sugar level, then I'm okay with that. If it has genes to make it more insect-resistant by boosting its pre-existing phytoestrogen level, that's something else entirely. Interspecies transgenics have the additional risk of unexpected allergic reactions unless adequate labeling is present.

Informing the consumer is not only not moronic, but the anxious mother of little Precious Snowflake might actually buy that GMO applesauce if she can be assured that there aren't any peanut proteins lurking in it.

Anxious mother of precious snowflake is too stupid to understand it, at least without a whole lot of PR to correct the image problems. Smaller companies will be hurt more than big ones who can afford the PR firms. Companies using perfectly innocent and nutritionally sound practices will suffer on a fairly random basis before customers learn enough to make anywhere near an informed decision, and that's bad.


If Monsanto et al. hadn't spent billions of dollars pumping up false claims about GMO foods, they might not have quite so much bad PR to overcome. And if they have no problem spending billions on false claims to sell their product, why should they balk at spending that much on true statements to sell their product?

Informing consumers doesn't lead to good things when you're informing them of something that has a negative perception, but is perfectly innocent. More information isn't always better, sometimes it leads to increased confusion. And when you present information selectively or in certain ways, it biases the consumer against something perfectly innocent. For an example, back when cigarette companies first came out with filters to make themselves look safer, there was a company (forget which, heard this on an NPR bit) that refused to add them, knowing they were utter bullshiat. That company went bankrupt, because the other tobacco companies advertized that their products had filters, and consumers drew the obvious conclusion- these must be a good thing, so why don't those guys have them? Consumers had more information, but only selective bits- they weren't told the full story, and made a really stupid collective decision.

Did the company that supposedly went bankrupt make any attempt to counter the pro-filter advertising? If not, then your comparison of a one-sided argument to a truly informed decision is invalid.

Putting these labels on products would be an acknowledgement that genetic modification is something untoward, worth warning people about. And you don't think that would cause a negative consumer reaction? Of course it would. And that reaction would be totally unwarranted, and would hurt businesses following perfectly normal and scientifically sound practices.

As someone mentioned above, organic foods are also labeled. Has this caused a consumer backlash against organic foods as being unsafe?

To me, this is like putting a label on a product saying: "Warning, this product is not magnetically aligned." That's going to confuse the consumer, and hurt companies, that aren't run by tinfoil wearing kooks, doing perfectly normal things.

Are you seriously comparing my examples of potential risks due to unlabeled GMOs to tinfoil kookery? It sounds like your biggest concern is for the hurt companies (with much of the hurt of their own making), while the confused consumers can fend for themselves.
 
2012-09-11 12:37:32 AM  

Xcott: When product packaging declares that is XYZ-free, it gives consumers the impression that XYZ is potentially bad.


Surprised no-one's bothered dredging this out yet....

imgs.xkcd.com

 
2012-09-11 01:01:59 AM  

abb3w: common sense is an oxymoron: I've seen the argument that technology has nothing to do with science used quite a few times as a creationist rebuttal to the argument that if the supporting evidence for evolution is false, then how have we been able to develop technologies that work based on that false knowledge?

...I'm not sure that parses, even by creationist standards. Can you find an instance of this on-line somewhere?


I'm coming up empty. I might have seen it in some comment threads somewhere. Maybe some creationist read something like this and tried to use it to distinguish "science" (bad) from "technology" (good).
 
2012-09-11 01:03:08 AM  
Actually..there are many conservatives and Christians who are against vaccines and GMO foods...that is not a Democrat speciality.

All should note, that, if GMO foods are really that safe....there would be no problem from the producers to have them labeled. Their constant fighting of labeling tells most that the GMO stuff is not really healthy for you

The real derp are always those who believe willy-nilly in what their government and businesses tell them
 
2012-09-11 01:21:04 AM  

common sense is an oxymoron: To me, this is like putting a label on a product saying: "Warning, this product is not magnetically aligned." That's going to confuse the consumer, and hurt companies, that aren't run by tinfoil wearing kooks, doing perfectly normal things.

Are you seriously comparing my examples of potential risks due to unlabeled GMOs to tinfoil kookery? It sounds like your biggest concern is for the hurt companies (with much of the hurt of their own making), while the confused consumers can fend for themselves.


As a public policy matter, I absolutely am more concerned about the companies. Consumers won't be helped by this at all, and the companies almost certainly will be harmed. There aren't any significant risks to unlabeled GMOs, that's the entire farking point. Science says they're fine, and I have to agree with the right wing nuts here, as crazy as that makes me. You're ignoring science because it doesn't fit your perceived worldview. Maybe there are rare cases where GMOs might be a little more hazardous than normal foods, but you'd cause a lot of harm to perfectly innocent actors- this is swatting flies with an artillery barrage. You have a concern with some GMOs having harmful effects? Prove what those harmful effects are and use existing regulatory authority to target those effects. Instead, you're using a broad market power to drive traffic away from products in a category that simply does not correlate with the effects you want to think it does.

You want to punish big companies for being big. You hate the man. It's an anti authoritarian distrust, but the little guys are also doing this. It's not just the monsanto boogieman. "The hurt is of their own making"? By their own making, do you mean, "using scientifically sound and perfectly safe practices that some nuts demonized because they couldn't grasp how the genetic modification process works"?

As a public policy matter, I'm on the side of protecting companies with a perfectly safe product from having their business thrown into chaos because some new age dumbasses couldn't wrap their heads around the fact that not all progress is evil. I trust real scientists over random nutjobs who don't believe those findings because they can't get over whatever their little mental block is. That's why I believe scientists when they say we evolve. That's why I believe scientists when they say the planet is warming. That's why I believe scientists when they say gravity can bend light. And that's why I don't believe people who say that a magnetic bracelet will help your balance, and why I don't believe people who say that GMOs will turn your children into three eyed freaks.

Guilty as charged on that one.
 
2012-09-11 01:29:14 AM  

common sense is an oxymoron: As someone mentioned above, organic foods are also labeled. Has this caused a consumer backlash against organic foods as being unsafe?


No...but we DO have a chronic argument going on about whether or not "organic" food is somehow more nutritious and "better" for you than whatever the other kind of food would be (inorganic? unorganic?). There was one in the L.A. Times just the other day. If the organic-proponents hadn't done such a good job of muddying the waters, we would know that "organic" food is simply food raised without chemical fertilizer and pesticides, and not be having constant discussions about whether an "organic" pea somehow has more nutrients than a normal pea. AND we could have a reasonable discussion about the pros and cons of doing without chemicals in our produce.

The end result is that we now have to wade through "natural", "all-natural", "100% juice!" and all the other obfuscations marketers use that gives them some kind of leg up on the "organic" label. The food isn't any better or safer or chemical free; but it has that soothing "100% natural" label. And the same thing could easily happen with GMO foods. Soon we'll see label wars "GMO free!" "un-engineered food!" and similar nonsense...which means that any developments later down the line that might improve nutrition via gene manipulation or whatever will be buried under loud trumpetings, mostly by the "GMO free!" makers that this is BAD! Buy our stuff instead!

Any time you create a label based on the presence of something people percieve as bad, you open the door for labels based on the absence of said bad thing; and the result is an endless series of cola wars, and the end of any real rational discussion.
 
2012-09-11 01:30:31 AM  
Rightwing desperation: I know you are but what am I?
 
2012-09-11 01:34:51 AM  

common sense is an oxymoron: I'm coming up empty. I might have seen it in some comment threads somewhere. Maybe some creationist read something like this and tried to use it to distinguish "science" (bad) from "technology" (good).


I think it's more likely tied to (bogus) difference between "observational science" and "historical science" that I alluded to earlier. That idea's actually pretty easy to understand; the fundamental philosophical error implicit, less so.
 
2012-09-11 03:01:44 AM  

cptjeff: common sense is an oxymoron: To me, this is like putting a label on a product saying: "Warning, this product is not magnetically aligned." That's going to confuse the consumer, and hurt companies, that aren't run by tinfoil wearing kooks, doing perfectly normal things.

Are you seriously comparing my examples of potential risks due to unlabeled GMOs to tinfoil kookery? It sounds like your biggest concern is for the hurt companies (with much of the hurt of their own making), while the confused consumers can fend for themselves.

As a public policy matter, I absolutely am more concerned about the companies. Consumers won't be helped by this at all, and the companies almost certainly will be harmed. There aren't any significant risks to unlabeled GMOs, that's the entire farking point. Science says they're fine, and I have to agree with the right wing nuts here, as crazy as that makes me. You're ignoring science because it doesn't fit your perceived worldview. Maybe there are rare cases where GMOs might be a little more hazardous than normal foods, but you'd cause a lot of harm to perfectly innocent actors- this is swatting flies with an artillery barrage. You have a concern with some GMOs having harmful effects? Prove what those harmful effects are and use existing regulatory authority to target those effects. Instead, you're using a broad market power to drive traffic away from products in a category that simply does not correlate with the effects you want to think it does.

You want to punish big companies for being big. You hate the man. It's an anti authoritarian distrust, but the little guys are also doing this. It's not just the monsanto boogieman. "The hurt is of their own making"? By their own making, do you mean, "using scientifically sound and perfectly safe practices that some nuts demonized because they couldn't grasp how the genetic modification process works"?


You're 100% wrong about my intentions. I am not anti-science, and I in fact agree that there is nothing inherently wrong with the idea of GMOs. I also agree that there are any number of companies out there who would benefit from being able to market their 100% safe and wholesome GMO products. But when the public face of a developing technology gets caught using misleading advertising, it's unfair to blame "stupid" consumers for having doubts about the whole enterprise.

As a public policy matter, I'm on the side of protecting companies with a perfectly safe product from having their business thrown into chaos because some new age dumbasses couldn't wrap their heads around the fact that not all progress is evil. I trust real scientists over random nutjobs who don't believe those findings because they can't get over whatever their little mental block is. That's why I believe scientists when they say we evolve. That's why I believe scientists when they say the planet is warming. That's why I believe scientists when they say gravity can bend light. And that's why I don't believe people who say that a magnetic bracelet will help your balance, and why I don't believe people who say that GMOs will turn your children into three eyed freaks.

Guilty as charged on that one.


Fine. And as a public policy matter, I'm on the side of informing consumers as much as possible about what they might be buying. If Monsanto could spend megabucks lying about the safety (or at least the safety testing) of GMOs, then they could have spent megabucks telling the truth. It might have taken a while for people to see that the number of three-eyed freaks wasn't increasing significantly and start to accept GMOs, but if the GMOs are truly that much of an improvement, then it would have happened at some point. Instead, Monsanto lied, they were caught, and as a result some other people did some advertising of their own.

Typical corporate profits-now short-sightedness strikes again, and I don't believe in covering their loss at the expense of denying consumers some basic information while simultaneously blaming the consumers for the corporate loss in the first place.
 
2012-09-11 03:13:57 AM  

doctor wu: DjangoStonereaver: It just goes to show that there is leftwing DERP.


You're equating wanting labels on GM foods with believing the earth is five thousand years old? Or that global warming isn't happening?


In a way, yes.

For a lot of people who should probably know better, they hear GM food and immediately assume BAD as an
unquestioned article of faith. Mind you, I'm not saying that everything we eat should be genetically modified
from now on, and that there probably could have been a bit more scientific study of the after affects before it
was deployed widely, but I think that the hysteria over the dangers of it is probably over-blown. The same could
be said for people who blindly believe that vaccines cause autism or that organic food is automatically better
for you: the commonality between them and the stereotypical religious fundie on the right is that there are
articles of faith that remain unquestioned.
 
2012-09-11 03:18:13 AM  

abb3w: common sense is an oxymoron: I'm coming up empty. I might have seen it in some comment threads somewhere. Maybe some creationist read something like this and tried to use it to distinguish "science" (bad) from "technology" (good).

I think it's more likely tied to (bogus) difference between "observational science" and "historical science" that I alluded to earlier. That idea's actually pretty easy to understand; the fundamental philosophical error implicit, less so.


That's pretty much the basic creationist rationale, but

Gyrfalcon: common sense is an oxymoron: As someone mentioned above, organic foods are also labeled. Has this caused a consumer backlash against organic foods as being unsafe?

No...but we DO have a chronic argument going on about whether or not "organic" food is somehow more nutritious and "better" for you than whatever the other kind of food would be (inorganic? unorganic?). There was one in the L.A. Times just the other day. If the organic-proponents hadn't done such a good job of muddying the waters, we would know that "organic" food is simply food raised without chemical fertilizer and pesticides, and not be having constant discussions about whether an "organic" pea somehow has more nutrients than a normal pea. AND we could have a reasonable discussion about the pros and cons of doing without chemicals in our produce.

The end result is that we now have to wade through "natural", "all-natural", "100% juice!" and all the other obfuscations marketers use that gives them some kind of leg up on the "organic" label. The food isn't any better or safer or chemical free; but it has that soothing "100% natural" label. And the same thing could easily happen with GMO foods. Soon we'll see label wars "GMO free!" "un-engineered food!" and similar nonsense...which means that any developments later down the line that might improve nutrition via gene manipulation or whatever will be buried under loud trumpetings, mostly by the "GMO free!" makers that this is BAD! Buy our stuff instead!

Any time you create a label based on the presence of something people percieve as bad, you open the door for labels based on the absence of said bad thing; and the result is an endless series of cola wars, and the end of any real rational discussion.


There will always be people who fall prey to deceptive marketing, but if GMOs can be mandated to provide labeling about specific content, then non-GMOs can be mandated to provide labeling about the lack of specific content (i.e., any health benefits over proven-safe GMOs). Yes, this could be seen as government meddling, but my distrust of government interference is outweighed here by the value of accurate information to the would-be consumer.

Saying that accurate labeling is bad because it might lead to advertising which could mislead some people is (IMO) a pretty weak argument.
 
2012-09-11 03:20:24 AM  
Oops...
 
2012-09-11 03:28:21 AM  

common sense is an oxymoron: Fine. And as a public policy matter, I'm on the side of informing consumers as much as possible about what they might be buying. If Monsanto could spend megabucks lying about the safety (or at least the safety testing) of GMOs, then they could have spent megabucks telling the truth. It might have taken a while for people to see that the number of three-eyed freaks wasn't increasing significantly and start to accept GMOs, but if the GMOs are truly that much of an improvement, then it would have happened at some point. Instead, Monsanto lied, they were caught, and as a result some other people did some advertising of their own.

Typical corporate profits-now short-sightedness strikes again, and I don't believe in covering their loss at the expense of denying consumers some basic information while simultaneously blaming the consumers for the corporate loss in the first place.



Informing consumers is fine. Misleading them with half truths isn't, and that's what this is. Consumers don't, as a whole, have the specialized knowledge needed to make an informed choice. Giving them more information that they can't understand and making it seem important is going to make consumer decisions worse, not better. Just like cigarette filters. The power of a company to rebut isn't the issue here- they shouldn't need to rebut in the first place, and the giant companies like monsanto that you want to hurt are the ones who won't be- because they can afford the PR firms.

You're obsessed with Monsanto. You're trying to paint them as the evil, corporate face of this. What you miss is that everyone- your organic producers included- does this. If you want to target specific practices, target specific practices. You still haven't solved the swatting flies with an artillery barrage problem. You might- might- get the practices you don't like, but odds are you'll just be hurting a lot of innocent people.


common sense is an oxymoron: You're 100% wrong about my intentions. I am not anti-science, and I in fact agree that there is nothing inherently wrong with the idea of GMOs. I also agree that there are any number of companies out there who would benefit from being able to market their 100% safe and wholesome GMO products. But when the public face of a developing technology gets caught using misleading advertising, it's unfair to blame "stupid" consumers for having doubts about the whole enterprise.


I think your intentions are that you're afraid of centralized corporate douchebaggery, and are willing to hurt a lot of innocent actors to get back at one actor that didn't do anything (in this particular area, anyway) that harmed the consumer, just promised benefits that never materialized. And to get back at them, you're willing to encourage a consumer perception that is flat out wrong and hurt other actors just to get back at one guy who you don't like. You're the guy saying that, yeah, some cigarettes without filters are just as good for you as the filtered kind, why shouldn't we put a warning label on them saying that those cigarettes don't have filters? Any new information given to consumers is good, even if they lack any understanding of context to properly evaluate it, right? And hell, even if their perceptions are completely opposite of reality, why shouldn't we provide them the information anyway?


My point, on its most basic level, is this: Informing consumers is only useful so far as it enables consumers to make a better choice. When you provide them with selective information with the deliberate goal of playing into existing (incorrect) perceptions with the deliberate goal of hurting a specific, perfectly legitimate industry, I have a problem with that. This is not simply about informing the consumer. This is about reinforcing a false perception with the goal of hurting an industry that engages in a practice this proposal's proponents feel icky about, regardless of the scientific evidence as to its safety.
 
2012-09-11 03:31:39 AM  

common sense is an oxymoron: Saying that accurate labeling is bad because it might lead to advertising which could mislead some people is (IMO) a pretty weak argument.


The label itself is misleading, since it's deliberately designed to play into a false perception and harm people acting safely and in perfectly good faith. And you thing that that's good?
 
2012-09-11 03:32:44 AM  

cptjeff: And you think that that's good?


Whoops.
 
2012-09-11 04:18:21 AM  
Believing that medical treatments or genetic manipulation of crops and animals ad people may have unfortunate side effects is EXACTLY AS BAD AS not believing in evolution, climate science, or anything that contradicts your racism, homophobia, bigotry, pathetic pre-scientific sheep-sticker mythology or petty superstitions. HA! More Republican denialism. Isn't it amazing how it is possible for humans to escape the real world in a consensual reality like a slime hagfish exuding a bucket of nasty slime when touched or threatened?

It may be true that there is precious little evidence that GM food is poisonous or less nutrious, but there are plenty of objections against it based on other, legitimate concerns. For example, genes, once transplanted from one species to another, or manipulated to produce desirable commercial properties, can wreck Hell and Havoc when they escape into the "wild". This happens and it has concsequences. An Alberta farmer used used seed designed to take massive, destructive doses of pesticides decided to change crops in one of his fields. Rather than rip up the soil, he decided to simply spray it with another pesticide. The crop did not die off as espected because genes had passed from his GM pesticide-A immune crops to his GM pesticide-B immune. In other words, natural pollination had occurred. The same can demonstrably and indubitably happen between domesticated and wild species, which raises he prospect of pesticide tolerant weeds that can't be killed even at doses that kill everything else in the vicinity.

Then again, who cares about pests becoming immune to everything we throw at them? Isn't it bad enough that corporations are manipulating genes solely to allow consumers to buy and use ever more massive quanitities of their killer chemicals? Is this a valid use of science? Is making fruit that is tasteless, scentless, beautiful to look at but worthless to eat a valid goal? It is if your sole goal is profit, but not if it is safety, health, nutrition or a healthy environment?

Like the arguments over organic food, the arguments over GM food are a dialogue des sourds, where neither side listens and both sides beg the quesion (in the proper sense of the logical fallacy of this name).

It may be true that GM foods are not less nutritious--but that is not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It is a lie by omission or a half-truth at best.

As for the autism nutters, they are just as deaf as any partisans of crank theories, crank politics or crank religion, but they COULD be right, whereas the deniers of evolution, climate change or environmentalism simply can not be right because the evidence is over-whelming despite all their denials, and the consequences palpable. Evolution simply works. It explains what it sets out to explain, while nothing else, including religious myths, does this. Evolution has been applied. Once science ceases to be theoretical and is applied, it's pretty hard to deny it rationally and in a facts-based way.

If a man claims that Faith enables you to levitate, and he can not point to a single instance of levitation (apart from phoney-baloney photos of people bouncing on their bums), then he is a crank. If he can park the Titantic II over Central Park, it's another matter. The same is true of science. Evolution works. It has been used in computer science and computer-assisted design to "evolve" complex structures by selection of desirable characteristic from randomly-varied populations. It WORKS, biatch!

There are several orders of magnitude difference between the flaky Jennie McCarthy and any Republican partisan moonbat. She is merely wrong, but as a scientist said in exasperation about a colleague's work, it isn't even wrong! It does not have the dignity of a reasonable but failed explanation or experiment. It is not valuable negative evidence. Republican, fundamentalist, and conservative dogma are way too muddled and perverse and anti-factual to be merely or sincerely wrong. It is PERVERSE in a way that is much worse than the most eggregious sexual malfunctions or perversions, let alone homosexuality which does absolutely nothing that isn't a fetish among heterosexuals also.
 
2012-09-11 05:02:50 AM  
People are both simpler and more similar than we like to believe. The reason for this is that we apply conscious thought to our actions in a much more limited fashion than is generally accepted. This should not be controversial: just try remembering the exact details of your last commute to work, and then tell me you are were acting in a fully conscious manner at the time, And yet, most people rail against such an interpretation of their lives.
It does however have advantages. Unconscious actions tend to be more automatic, and therefore more predictable, than conscious ones. Give people time and opportunity to actively choose a course of action, and they can react in surprising ways. But keep them moving on a path that requires relatively less choice, and their potential range of action diminishes. This theory of behaviour becomes extremely useful when thinking about how large groups of people may act. The complexity of societal structure itself is an exceptionally good narcotic agent on the conscious mind: it funnels and moulds our actions in a deep manner, subtly constraining our choices at every step while still providing the illusion of choice.
The beauty of this effect is that it leads to a surprising conclusion: societies - and the people within them - are MORE predictable the larger and more complex they are. Simple small societies bring us closer to the level of a free individual, and so create more opportunity for a single rationally-thinking person to make changes. Large, intertwined societies tend to blur the effect of a single person, reducing the noise affecting the signal indicating the direction of travel of the society.
Let's use the classic example of a crowd leaving a sports stadium after a match. Their aim is specific, but the mechanism they take is generally unconscious (irrational). They are influenced far more by the architecture & design of the stadium to unconsciously guide their movements, causing them to behave in a particular, predictable way. An individual acting consciously (rationally) towards his goal of exiting may well be tempted to jump over a railing in order to get out in the shortest time (a straight line) rather than following the often winding exit routes.So the complexity of the system causes predictability. Now in this case, the stadium's exit routes are very carefully planned. But my suggestion is our society, through its unplanned complexity, creates its own routes of action which tend to guide most people, without them realising it. If one could identify these routes, the system itself becomes predictable due to the fact that most people ;run on rails most of the time due our relying mostly on unconscious/irrational behaviour to manage life.
 
2012-09-11 07:46:21 AM  

cptjeff: NASA funding != basic science funding. Pull up the numbers for the NSF and whatnot too, if you want to be honest about it.


The story isn't much different, but feel free to post your own graphs as I wouldn't mind being proven wrong.
Manhattan and Apollo sized leaps require a massive shift in funding. While a few million here and there do constitute "more support", what I'm looking for is something that should be made easily visible by the number and scale of projects. There was a big difference in the NASA of the Apollo years and the NASA we know now.
If a boost to funding gets lost in the inflation adjustment, its not much of a gain in my book.
 
2012-09-11 08:18:48 AM  
We've already mixed our news sources with the emtertainment industry, with disastrous results. Let's keep our politics and science seperate, please.
 
2012-09-11 09:26:28 AM  
Sounds like a lot of people in this thread should read this
 
2012-09-11 10:36:46 AM  

way south: cptjeff: NASA funding != basic science funding. Pull up the numbers for the NSF and whatnot too, if you want to be honest about it.

The story isn't much different, but feel free to post your own graphs as I wouldn't mind being proven wrong.
Manhattan and Apollo sized leaps require a massive shift in funding. While a few million here and there do constitute "more support", what I'm looking for is something that should be made easily visible by the number and scale of projects. There was a big difference in the NASA of the Apollo years and the NASA we know now.
If a boost to funding gets lost in the inflation adjustment, its not much of a gain in my book.


Yeah, the difference in funding for the NIH between the Clinton and Bush years doesn't get lost in the inflation adjustment. The difference was in the billions.
 
2012-09-11 10:42:35 AM  

Ray_Peranus: People are both simpler and more similar than we like to believe. The reason for this is that we apply conscious thought to our actions in a much more limited fashion than is generally accepted. This should not be controversial: just try remembering the exact details of your last commute to work, and then tell me you are were acting in a fully conscious manner at the time, And yet, most people rail against such an interpretation of their lives.
It does however have advantages. Unconscious actions tend to be more automatic, and therefore more predictable, than conscious ones. Give people time and opportunity to actively choose a course of action, and they can react in surprising ways. But keep them moving on a path that requires relatively less choice, and their potential range of action diminishes. This theory of behaviour becomes extremely useful when thinking about how large groups of people may act. The complexity of societal structure itself is an exceptionally good narcotic agent on the conscious mind: it funnels and moulds our actions in a deep manner, subtly constraining our choices at every step while still providing the illusion of choice.
The beauty of this effect is that it leads to a surprising conclusion: societies - and the people within them - are MORE predictable the larger and more complex they are. Simple small societies bring us closer to the level of a free individual, and so create more opportunity for a single rationally-thinking person to make changes. Large, intertwined societies tend to blur the effect of a single person, reducing the noise affecting the signal indicating the direction of travel of the society.
Let's use the classic example of a crowd leaving a sports stadium after a match. Their aim is specific, but the mechanism they take is generally unconscious (irrational). They are influenced far more by the architecture & design of the stadium to unconsciously guide their movements, causing them to behave in a particular, predictable ...


Sometimes I think I have unique thoughts about humanity and then someone comes along, like you, and basically restates my thoughts like they'd crawled into my brain (though a bit more articulately).
 
2012-09-11 05:28:20 PM  

cptjeff: common sense is an oxymoron: Saying that accurate labeling is bad because it might lead to advertising which could mislead some people is (IMO) a pretty weak argument.

The label itself is misleading, since it's deliberately designed to play into a false perception and harm people acting safely and in perfectly good faith. And you thing that that's good?


Where did I ever suggest that this be a "warning label"? I was thinking along the lines of the "Nutrition Facts" label that's on just about everything. Or do you think that providing nutritional information is "deliberately designed to play into a false perception and harm people acting safely and in perfectly good faith"?

And from your previous post:

My point, on its most basic level, is this: Informing consumers is only useful so far as it enables consumers to make a better choice. When you provide them with selective information with the deliberate goal of playing into existing (incorrect) perceptions with the deliberate goal of hurting a specific, perfectly legitimate industry, I have a problem with that. This is not simply about informing the consumer. This is about reinforcing a false perception with the goal of hurting an industry that engages in a practice this proposal's proponents feel icky about, regardless of the scientific evidence as to its safety.

Once again, your entire argument seems to be that "informing the consumer" must necessarily be equivalent to "smearing the corporation." And you have to deliberately and repeatedly misinterpret my comments about labeling in order to do it.
 
2012-09-11 06:04:22 PM  

common sense is an oxymoron: Or do you think that providing nutritional information is "deliberately designed to play into a false perception and harm people acting safely and in perfectly good faith"?


This case is, and pretending that that's not the intent here is not arguing in good faith.

This doesn't matter any more than the breed of apple or tomato used in something. Scientifically, it's utterly irrelevant information, and forcing makers to put it on in any way can have only one aim: to stoke preexisting irrational fears.

common sense is an oxymoron: must necessarily be equivalent to


This is where you're stupid and can't read.

Giving the consumer selective information can play into and reinforce irrational fears. This particular case is designed to intentionally do exactly that. Informing consumers is not always bad, but it's not always good in certain cases where you're giving them information that doesn't just have the potential to but is intended for the purpose of misleading the consumer as to product safety.
 
2012-09-11 07:44:33 PM  

cptjeff: common sense is an oxymoron: Or do you think that providing nutritional information is "deliberately designed to play into a false perception and harm people acting safely and in perfectly good faith"?

This case is, and pretending that that's not the intent here is not arguing in good faith.

This doesn't matter any more than the breed of apple or tomato used in something. Scientifically, it's utterly irrelevant information, and forcing makers to put it on in any way can have only one aim: to stoke preexisting irrational fears.

common sense is an oxymoron: must necessarily be equivalent to

This is where you're stupid and can't read.

Giving the consumer selective information can play into and reinforce irrational fears. This particular case is designed to intentionally do exactly that. Informing consumers is not always bad, but it's not always good in certain cases where you're giving them information that doesn't just have the potential to but is intended for the purpose of misleading the consumer as to product safety.


"This product may contain peanuts. If you don't want to eat peanuts, don't eat this."

"This product may not be kosher. If you want to keep kosher, don't eat this."

"This product may contain GMOs. If you want to avoid GMOs, don't eat this."

I'm not seeing a difference. If you want to keep kosher/avoid peanuts/avoid GMOS, it's convenient if the label says that.

Personally, I think avoiding GMOs is kind of silly, but some people want to, and that's their trip. I think Kashrut is silly too, but if you want to avoid prawns and crabs and lobster, hey, more for me. If people have "irrational fears" of certain foods, and they avoid things that they could otherwise eat, that's likely to make those foods cheaper for me.

How is that bad? 

I'm not understanding the argument against providing information. If people do stupid things with that information, that's their problem, isn't it?
 
2012-09-11 08:54:07 PM  

cptjeff: common sense is an oxymoron: Or do you think that providing nutritional information is "deliberately designed to play into a false perception and harm people acting safely and in perfectly good faith"?

This case is, and pretending that that's not the intent here is not arguing in good faith.

This doesn't matter any more than the breed of apple or tomato used in something. Scientifically, it's utterly irrelevant information, and forcing makers to put it on in any way can have only one aim: to stoke preexisting irrational fears.

common sense is an oxymoron: must necessarily be equivalent to

This is where you're stupid and can't read.

Giving the consumer selective information can play into and reinforce irrational fears. This particular case is designed to intentionally do exactly that. Informing consumers is not always bad, but it's not always good in certain cases where you're giving them information that doesn't just have the potential to but is intended for the purpose of misleading the consumer as to product safety.


This is where you're dense and continue to compare apples to oranges.

I'll repeat my previous question: Do you believe the current nutritional information labels are "misleading" and "reinforce irrational fears"? If so, why? If not, then how is providing similar information (i.e., not just an OMG GMO sticker) about GMOs any different?

Again, you seem more interested in blaming the GMO industry's PR problems on "moronic" consumers rather than addressing Monsanto's responsibility for lying to consumers in the first place. Yes, a lot of smaller companies are suffering as a result, but put the responsibility for that where it belongs.
 
2012-09-11 08:55:39 PM  

FloydA: cptjeff: common sense is an oxymoron: Or do you think that providing nutritional information is "deliberately designed to play into a false perception and harm people acting safely and in perfectly good faith"?

This case is, and pretending that that's not the intent here is not arguing in good faith.

This doesn't matter any more than the breed of apple or tomato used in something. Scientifically, it's utterly irrelevant information, and forcing makers to put it on in any way can have only one aim: to stoke preexisting irrational fears.

common sense is an oxymoron: must necessarily be equivalent to

This is where you're stupid and can't read.

Giving the consumer selective information can play into and reinforce irrational fears. This particular case is designed to intentionally do exactly that. Informing consumers is not always bad, but it's not always good in certain cases where you're giving them information that doesn't just have the potential to but is intended for the purpose of misleading the consumer as to product safety.

"This product may contain peanuts. If you don't want to eat peanuts, don't eat this."

"This product may not be kosher. If you want to keep kosher, don't eat this."

"This product may contain GMOs. If you want to avoid GMOs, don't eat this."

I'm not seeing a difference. If you want to keep kosher/avoid peanuts/avoid GMOS, it's convenient if the label says that.

Personally, I think avoiding GMOs is kind of silly, but some people want to, and that's their trip. I think Kashrut is silly too, but if you want to avoid prawns and crabs and lobster, hey, more for me. If people have "irrational fears" of certain foods, and they avoid things that they could otherwise eat, that's likely to make those foods cheaper for me.

How is that bad? 

I'm not understanding the argument against providing information. If people do stupid things with that information, that's their problem, isn't it?


Thank you. At least someone understands what I'm saying.
 
2012-09-11 10:02:54 PM  

common sense is an oxymoron: I'll repeat my previous question: Do you believe the current nutritional information labels are "misleading" and "reinforce irrational fears"? If so, why? If not, then how is providing similar information (i.e., not just an OMG GMO sticker) about GMOs any different?


Your premise that GMO information being similar to nutritional information is entirely false. Consumers don't have an irrational fear of protein, and the things listed on nutritional labels are relevant to making nutritional and safety decisions. Whether a food is genetically modified or not is, according to that science stuff, completely irrelevant to those questions.

common sense is an oxymoron: Again, you seem more interested in blaming the GMO industry's PR problems on "moronic" consumers rather than addressing Monsanto's responsibility for lying to consumers in the first place. Yes, a lot of smaller companies are suffering as a result, but put the responsibility for that where it belongs.


Again, monsanto. You're obsessed, and it's stupid. I do not care if Monsanto lied, or if they have a PR problem. I'm not even convinced they really did, but all this is entirely beside the point. GMOs, as a broad category, have never been shown to be unsafe. They are perceived to be by (typically liberal) nuts who ignore scientific evidence when it doesn't suit their own ends.

Let's build another hypothetical to try and ram this through your skull. Say that a large subset of consumers think that using metal rollers as opposed to stone ones to grind flour will cause them to catch plague. Now, every scientist and doctor in the world has said, based on a lot of evidence, that this is patently ridiculous, but the belief persists anyway, because those people like to hate on one large flour manufacturer who, among other practices, uses steel rollers. Now, steel rollers are pretty much standard across the industry, but this group doesn't really realize that and is buying flour crushed with steel all the time. Of course, these products are perfectly safe and manufactured to the highest safety and quality standards.
Now let's say this belief, stupid and false as it is, takes hold enough that the California State Legislature passes a law mandating that any product containing flour made with metal rollers be labeled. Overnight, consumers stop buying products made from this perfectly normal and safe product overnight. People boycott corner pastry shops. Small businesses die. Companies use the stone rollers get a huge advantage for no reason having anything to do with product quality or safety. Of course, the large company that the idiots thought was the only one that used the rollers survived, since they had the resources to up their ad and PR budgets.
So in the end, you caused massive damage to small bakeries who did everything right- made a great product with no quantifiable difference from the others that was perfectly safe, but because somebody encouraged an entirely false irrational fear, they lost their business and their savings.

If you could show me ANY evidence that whether a plant was genetically modified or not was in any way a useful predictor of ANYTHING, you might have a case. But it's not. You ignore that it's a scientifically irrelevant category, and that the only thing that such a label would be useful for would be to stroke the irrational fear of some, punishing a lot of businesses, large and small, that have been perfectly innocent of the evils you accuse monsanto of.
 
2012-09-12 01:15:17 AM  

cptjeff: common sense is an oxymoron: I'll repeat my previous question: Do you believe the current nutritional information labels are "misleading" and "reinforce irrational fears"? If so, why? If not, then how is providing similar information (i.e., not just an OMG GMO sticker) about GMOs any different?

Your premise that GMO information being similar to nutritional information is entirely false. Consumers don't have an irrational fear of protein, and the things listed on nutritional labels are relevant to making nutritional and safety decisions. Whether a food is genetically modified or not is, according to that science stuff, completely irrelevant to those questions.


Some consumers do have irrational fears of cholesterol, or sugar, or (less irrationally) allergens. There have even been protests against their use. Should we therefore do away with the labels?

common sense is an oxymoron: Again, you seem more interested in blaming the GMO industry's PR problems on "moronic" consumers rather than addressing Monsanto's responsibility for lying to consumers in the first place. Yes, a lot of smaller companies are suffering as a result, but put the responsibility for that where it belongs.

Again, monsanto. You're obsessed, and it's stupid. I do not care if Monsanto lied, or if they have a PR problem. I'm not even convinced they really did


You don't consider anti-GMO hysteria to be a PR problem for the GMO industry? Your entire argument has been that bad publicity about GMOs has crippled the industry so badly that instructional labeling is a burden too onerous to bear.

but all this is entirely beside the point. GMOs, as a broad category, have never been shown to be unsafe. They are perceived to be by (typically liberal) nuts who ignore scientific evidence when it doesn't suit their own ends.

As far as direct human consumption goes, this is true. With regard to collateral effects such as BT-producing plants killing off butterfly larvae and transfer of pesticide-resistant genes to weed species, not so much. Monsanto also got a huge black eye for banning farmers from harvesting seeds or otherwise propagating their GMO crops. They had a presentable case from a patent-law perspective, but it sure didn't go over well with farmers accustomed to owning the fruits of their own crops.

And, let's not forget, Monsanto's bad rep isn't based entirely on GMOs. Here's a link to the Wikipedia article on Monsanto. When that sort of company is your industry's figurehead, you have a problem.

Let's build another hypothetical straw man to try and ram this through your skull. Say that a large subset of consumers think that using metal rollers as opposed to stone ones to grind flour will cause them to catch plague. Now, every scientist and doctor in the world has said, based on a lot of evidence, that this is patently ridiculous, but the belief persists anyway, because those people like to hate on one large flour manufacturer who, among other practices, uses steel rollers. Now, steel rollers are pretty much standard across the industry, but this group doesn't really realize that and is buying flour crushed with steel all the time. Of course, these products are perfectly safe and manufactured to the highest safety and quality standards.

Your analogy is incomplete without the following:

1) The big steel-roller mill has a long history of unsafe workplace and environmental practices prior to their introduction of steel rollers.

2) When asked about the possibility of steel-rolled flour being contaminated by plague, the company made multiple false statements about the testing which the steel rollers had undergone prior to use. In light of its prior reputation, this turned public opinion even more strongly against both the company itself and the use of steel rollers in general.

3) An accident in the fabrication process of steel rollers could be far more environmentally damaging than any such accident at a stone-roller facility.

4) There are additional restrictions placed on the end use of goods made with the use of steel rollers as opposed to stone rollers.

Now let's say this belief, stupid and false as it is, takes hold enough that the California State Legislature passes a law mandating that any product containing flour made with metal rollers be labeled. Overnight, consumers stop buying products made from this perfectly normal and safe product overnight. People boycott corner pastry shops. Small businesses die. Companies use the stone rollers get a huge advantage for no reason having anything to do with product quality or safety. Of course, the large company that the idiots thought was the only one that used the rollers survived, since they had the resources to up their ad and PR budgets.
So in the end, you caused massive damage to small bakeries who did everything right- made a great product with no quantifiable difference from the others that was perfectly safe, but because somebody encouraged an entirely false irrational fear, they lost their business and their savings.


[sadtrombone.mp3]

Bullshiat. How many "corner pastry shops" grind their own flour? And if there's no difference between stone-ground and steel-ground, then why wouldn't they just switch suppliers? The losers would be the Big Mill (all the ad and PR budgets in the state of California wouldn't change the law--they'd still have to switch back to stone or GTFO), the smaller steel-using mills, and the makers of steel rollers...but that's only if they sat back and did nothing while this bill was being debated: no distancing themselves from the Big Mill, no documentation of safety measures, nothing.

So, yeah, if a few companies acted like utter fools, then they'd suffer under your scenario. However, since your scenario kinda sucks as an analogy, it really doesn't matter.

If you could show me ANY evidence that whether a plant was genetically modified or not was in any way a useful predictor of ANYTHING, you might have a case. But it's not. You ignore that it's a scientifically irrelevant category, and that the only thing that such a label would be useful for would be to stroke the irrational fear of some, punishing a lot of businesses, large and small, that have been perfectly innocent of the evils you accuse monsanto of.

Again, there are collateral effects, both theoretical and very real, which you have neglected to mention:

Union of Concerned Scientists

European Food Safety Authority

Environment Canada

Bottom line: I refuse to accept the argument that a few ignorant people constitute an excuse for denying the rest of us accurate information about what we're buying.
 
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