16 comments on “Pollan’s Fall From Grace

    • I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch of one’s imagination that most people who are experts in their fields, got that way by working in their fields for companies whose business is in those fields. So, yes, most people who are on technical regulatory and advisary bodies are going to have connections to the industry at hand.

      • So conflicts of interest are a non-issue for you? Overlooking the possible ramifications of them, on the basis of some superficial view of the situation is irresponsible and naive. I understand people come from industry, that is obvious; but it does not negate the fact that COI’s are a serious issue, and should not to be overlooked in order to promote ones opinion. Not all members have conflicts of interest, right? So it is possible to hold these positions and not have COI’s. But some individuals do, and some of those hold very powerful positions in these organizations. The fact that you acknowledge and dismiss it leads me to believe you are choosing to side with groupthink here, instead of asking what is ethically required of these individuals. How can any claims of scientific objectiveness made by this organization be taken seriously, when a possibility for corrupt motivations exists?

        “A conflict of interest (COI) occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in another.”

      • @transgenesis

        Not all members might have a conflict of interest but it would be extremely difficult to fill all seats with no prior ties to industry,et al with competent people. And, it would be impossible to fill them with the best people possible. There will always be some sort of conflict of interest, if not the person, then the with the friends she’s made, etc. Possibility of corruption does not mean corruption. I’d rather risk some corruption over constant incompetence.

        The criteria for actionable conflict of interests mentioned in your links is not unlike that of Judges in court case. Just because a particular judge may have a conflic of interest in a particular case, doeesn’t mean that judge shouldn’t be a judge at all, just not judge the case at hand. If Judges had step down for any conflict of inerest anywhere, they’ll be no judges at all.

        Speaking of COI’s, the sword cuts both ways. I notice how organizations such at the Organic Consumers Association seem to have some Organic producers, rather than all consumers, on their boards.

      • First, do conflicts of interest present in an organization throughout every level of management pose a risk to the objectiveness of the decisions made? Why or why not?

        Now, let’s think about this, and look at the food safety area of society. We need organizations to evaluate and protect on behalf of the citizens, and determine what is safe, what is not, what has potential risk, what is ethical, etc. You’re telling me in the entire world, we cannot find a room full of people to lead such an organization, without there being a conflict of interest? We already have some, and I don’t think it is impossible to bring it to 100%. Otherwise, you are dismissing the competency of everyone else in the industry as being not a better option than someone with potential corrupt motives. Being good at what you do is not an excuse to compromise ethical responsibility. Someone in a position of protecting citizens would actually not be good at what they do; they are responsible for the well being of individuals and not a conflicting interest, thus serving the wrong interests and not be good at what they are supposed to be doing in that position. You are risking the health of millions or billions of people. You have no guarantees about the future impact of the practices which are being carried out regarding food production. If you really think the industry can predict the future, I would like to see the evidence.

        Are you saying humans are so incompetent that we can’t find a better way, and have to use what we have now?

        Also, referencing another organization on the opposite side is just a straw man. What could they possibly have to do with what is going on in a different organization, other than they oppose your side of thinking?

      • Are you sure there are conflicts at every level? Again, this goes back to their definition of an actionable conflict of interest. It is unworkable. There might actually be enough competent people in the world to fill the positions but, obviously, they didn’t apply for the jobs ! Or, if some of them did, they were passed over for yet more qualified candidates. And maybe there is a better way but it may be one of those traveling salesman problems. Looks easy but near impossible.

        Am i advocating that the current CFO of Dow Chemical be offered a position on the EPA? No.

        But a former lead research scientist with 20 years of field experience at Dow Chemical. Yes, that person could be a good additon to the EPA.

        There is also the real and dangerous risk that while we put everything on hold for the completely free COI teams to come together, that millions or billions of people end up starving, falling ill, etc. Every day that we wait for every i to be dotted and every t to be crossed for golden rice, approximately 1400 more children die of VAD.

        My referencing the opposite side was attempt at pointing out the hypocrisy that they don’t apply the same standards to their own that they would apply unto others.

  1. David Suzuki is another well known scientist (in Canada anyway) who strongly and publicly opposes GMO’s…there are many youtube videos and documentaries where he ‘scientifically’ explains why they are not to be trusted. Thankfully I found your blog to level out his arguments! I’m still enjoying your work! 😉

    • Thanks Corinna. It’s difficult when one is not a scientist… and not trained to decipher complicated reports… as I am definitely not… to know what to believe.
      But I’ve learned that all science is not created equal. I use my best judgement to identify who the experts really are. Are they coming from a place of belief or evidence? Is their data repeated over and over beyond the initial data finding? If it is good science, it repeats and draws a crowd and more research. The scientists who come from a place of evidence are overwhelmingly in favor of GMOs because the evidence tells the truth. Simple as that.

      Good for you that you are searching for more than just the initial “GMOs are bad” meme that most non-scientists gravitate to.

    • I used to like David Suzuki. I enjoyed many of his shows. But, i fear, he’s become a bit like another Ben Stein.

  2. I believe, (not scientifically proven, to my knowledge) that what is basically wrong with GMOs is that it produces an identical crop wherever it is planted, thereby displacing locally grown produce; which is usually much superior to GMOs. It is also better for the environment, as opposed to chemically changed produce, which require chemical companies and animal testing labs.

  3. Pingback: Many European Farmers in Europe Want GMOs | SLEUTH 4 HEALTH

  4. Eva, whether a crop is GM or not makes no difference – it will grow where it is planted. One would hope that packs of seeds labeled corn are planted that it would grow an identical crop. It will not “displace locally grown produce.” If you could clarify what that means, that would be appreciated. When GM seeds are used, 100% of a farm’s acreage is not planted with GM seed. Up to half can be non-GM. Drift is something that can occur whether a crop is GM or not as well. Buffer zones planted with nonGM seed are used, are used, and farmers with close borders do this even with their non GM crops.

    GM seeds are not chemically changed. Seed produced with mutation breeding can be changed using chemicals or radiation. These seeds are perfectly acceptable in organic agriculture.

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