Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

The phrase lies, damned lies and statistics describes the power of numbers and the use of statistics to beef up weak arguments. In a recent Mother Jones piece, Kevin Drum bares to light the ‘statistics’ that the New York Times used in last weeks damning of GMO crops. It turns out that the statistic used to compare France’s rate of increase/decrease in pesticides glossed over the fact that overall use in France is much higher (although decreasing at a faster rate). Continue reading “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics”

Genetic Modification:
Process, not Product

I believe we need to keep in mind that not all genetically modified products are the same. The procedures used to produce them are a separate issue from the products themselves. Whatever someone’s beliefs are regarding genetic modifications, those concerns should be separated from concerns over whether a food source is safe or not. Rather a food source is derived from GMO or not does not inherently make it good or evil. The proof of the pudding here, is in the eating, so to speak. Continue reading “Genetic Modification:
Process, not Product”

Today’s IP Food Chain

See this article from 2000: “Food Chain of Tomorrow will be Identity Preserved”. This has certainly become true in today’s ever-changing landscape of GMOs, organics, and specialty crops. Increasingly, grains (and other food products) are not handled as commodities, but rather contracts between specific farmers and end users, sometimes with fewer brokers in-between. In order to preserve the identity of our food, one must know where it came from, and what procedures were used to produce it (pesticide, herbicide, and fertilizer use; methods to combat mold; storage issues; transportation). Continue reading “Today’s IP Food Chain”

Study: Mixed Results on Pesticide Use

It turns out that the amount of insecticide and herbicide that is used with the new GM crops is not a cut-and-dried topic. In some cases, more chemicals are being used, while in others, less. The answer to that question is long and involved (see link below to the study results), but here is the short version (for 2 specific crops: soybeans and maize): Continue reading “Study: Mixed Results on Pesticide Use”

Illegal Pesticide Use

Leaf cupping caused by low rates of illegal pesticide use (dicamba). Source:
Leaf cupping caused by low rates of the pesticide dicamba. Source:

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that farmers in ten states are complaining about dicamba pesticide damage to their crops. Monsanto cotton and soybean seed is being distributed that is resistant to dicamba and roundup, however it is illegal to use the older, drift-prone dicamba, due to the threat of drift to neighboring crops. Some farmers are evidently using this older herbicide (perhaps unwittingly), which is causing the problem. Continue reading “Complaints:
Illegal Pesticide Use”