How the irrational fear of corporate terrorism leads the privileged to betray the less privileged

Let them eat cake

Many of us are extraordinarily privileged.

We live in wealthy country, enjoy the fruits of technology, and live longer and healthier than ever. Unlike the less privileged, most of us don’t have to fear lack of food, lack of clean water, lack of access to healthcare. Perhaps there is a need for human beings to fear something, because the privileged, who have almost nothing to fear, are incredibly fearful, and that is reflected in the popularity of “natural” health.

Almost all of “natural” health, from refusing vaccination, to gobbling supplements, to belief in nonsense like homeopathy and chiropractic, to horror of genetically modified food (GMOs) is based on unreasoning fear of corporate terrorism.

Simply put, many privileged Americans are irrationally afraid that corporations are out to kill them. And as a result, they obsess over their privileged worries while letting the less privileged go without adequate food, clean water and access to health care that the same corporations can and do provide.

That’s not to deny that there have been instances in which large corporations cheerfully put profit before human lives. The auto industry provides numerous examples (from the exploding Pinto of the 1970’s to the contemporary willingness of General Motors to allow faulty ignition switches in their cars) of deadly corporate greed, deciding that it was “too expensive” to fix fatal errors and letting innocent people die as a result.

And who can forget Big Tobacco that to this day sells a product that kills millions, and for many years tried hide the fact that their product is deadly.

However, among the privileged, the cynicism over egregious episodes of corporate malfeasance has metastasized to an unreasoning belief that anything produced by corporations is harmful, accompanied by an extraordinary credulousness in accepting nonsense peddled by those who vilify corporations.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, the obsessions of the privileged harm the less privileged.

Vaccine refusal is an obvious example. The privileged depend on the vaccinated to protect them, while posing a deadly threat to children who are too small or too sick to be vaccinated.

Many anti-vax activists are quite forthright in their absurd belief that Big Government and Big Pharma have joined forces to create an autism epidemic. Even more distastefully, they are brutally honest about their willingness to sacrifice other people’s children to deadly diseases in order to ease their prodigious fear of pharmaceutical companies.

The opposition to GMOs is a more far reaching example. You don’t have to be a population scientist to know that around the world, too many people are starving to death for lack of food, or suffering profound effects from lack of important nutrients. GMOs offer the chance for greater harvest yields, as well as nutritionally superior products that can combat nutritional deficiencies. Those of us who have more than enough food should welcome these products for the immense benefits they offer to those who currently starve.

Instead, the privileged, motivated by unreasoning fears of corporate terrorism, are attempting to place restrictions on GMOs that will reduce the ability of the poor and destitute to grow these products to feed their own children, and to sell the products worldwide to alleviate their desperate poverty.

Similarly, lactivists have turned their disgust with formula companies who have promoted formula in countries that lack clean water supplies into an unreasoning fear of formula. The original boycotts of formula manufacturers may have limited their marketing in underdeveloped countries, but it did nothing to improve the water supply (which was the real problem) and nothing to help malnourished women who can’t produce enough breastmilk. They have transmuted their disapproval of formula manufacturers into disapproval of formula, a product that has saved countless infant lives in the past and continue to do so to this very day, while simultaneously ignoring the structural barriers to breastfeeding among the poor.

It’s hardly surprising that the preoccupations of the privileged become the preoccupations of society. Who is more likely to get the attention of the powers that be: a wealthy white suburban mother with a college degree and irrational fear of corporate terrorism, or a poor woman of color who is being torn apart by watching her babies die from malnutrition or vaccine preventable diseases?

So the preoccupations of the privileged (“There’s no pumpkin in pumpkin spice latte!”; “Vaccines are harmful; I read it on the internet so it must be true!”) take center stage while the under privileged are left to starve, suffer easily preventable diseases and die, and no one lifts a finger.

Money talks and the money of privileged Americans speaks much louder than cries of the bereaved destitute.

It has ever been thus. And it has ever been selfish, self-serving and unethical.

  • Nick Sanders

    Sigh, and now I can’t refute more of Sue’s nonsense, because it was locked before I got up today…

  • Maya Markova

    In fact, Americans tend to have sound opinions of GMOs. At least compared to us in Europe!

  • Jean Valjean

    Whatever my “privileges” might be they do not negate my human right to be healthy or to question the healthiness of food that is sold to me.

    While GMO’s might increase harvest yields, that will do little to combat the actual cause of famine in the developing world which is almost exclusively caused by drought, political instability/meddling, and war. If anything, GMO’s create a glut of field crops that are dumped on international markets and result in economic instability around the world. Do you think the massive Mexican migration into the US is because they like being second class citizens in the United States? Those people come from the economically ravaged agriculture section of Mexico. And what is Mexico’s chief crop? Corn. Or at least it was.

    I don’t have a problem with GMO’s. I do have a problem with their refusal to allow any regulation. If GMO is so frickin’ awesome then why won’t they label their products as GMO? As a consumer I have a right to know what’s in the food I eat. I have a right to make that choice for myself. When Monsanto lobbies the government and prevents any kind of legislation or public discussion then I have a problem with that also. This country wasn’t created for the corporations. It was created for the people.

    As for most of the products we buy in the store, almost all of it has extra added sugar, salt, and fat, to increase flavor and addictiveness of the product. There’s almost nothing that hasn’t been adulterated in this fashion. Even Kashi Cereal is loaded with sugar despite it’s being placed in the “health food” section of stores.

    We absolutely should be skeptical and concerned about the food that is being marketed to us since we were wee children and too inexperienced to make rational decisions about the food we eat. Do you think they put a playground at McDonald’s to give your kids something to do while you eat? It’s marketing and psychological conditioning that will addict your kids to McDonald’s by associating eating there with happiness and fun.

    Corporations are not our friends. They don’t prepare food the way a parent prepares food for their children. They feel no duty to ensure it’s balanced or healthy. They only want to make money and they do that by making their food as delicious and addictive as the law will allow while not making it overtly poisonous. This attitude makes it perfectly justifiable to be suspicious of food manufacturers.

    • Point of order? If GMOs produce plants that are hardy and survive droughts with good yields, won’t that actually help prevent famine and malnutrition? It doesn’t solve the war or instability issues, but it does solve the issue of drought ruining crop yields.

      • N

        O, are they really working on drought resistant plants? I thought they were just inventing pesticide resistent plants, so that they can sell it together with their seeds. And make even more money.
        Will they than offer their drought resistent seeds to the poor farmers in africa? Or will the farmers have to buy those seeds every year, which would make them even more depend? Please enlighten me.

        • Nick Sanders

          “Will they than offer their drought resistent seeds to the poor farmers in africa?”
          Yes, that is in fact the whole point.

        • Monsanto? Dunno. People like the guy who made golden rice, and a numerous government-sponsored genetics labs? Absolutely they are working on drought resistant crops.

      • Jean Valjean

        N got to it before me. GMO’s are plants that are resistant or immune to herbicides and which also contain a bacterial pesticide which kills insects which may try to eat it.

        These plants are not drought resistant, but I don’t deny that there are plants which are selective for that kind of resistance.

        That said, Monsanto and others are attempting to sell an expensive feed to an impoverished nations full of farmers who cannot afford the seed. This seed has to be purchased every year. It cannot be harvested and saved from the previous season.

        What GMO’s will do is sell to the richest farmers who will then produce GMO crops using irrigation (and probably water rights that poor farmers can’t get) then dump their crops on the local markets which will depress prices such that the poorest farmers can make no money or not enough to justify their labor.

        How do those poor farmers survive when major cash crops are being depressed in value?

        Oh, and if the GMO crop from the wealthy farmer’s field cross pollinates with the poor farmers crop, guess what happens? That poor farmer cannot save those seeds and use for next year.

        ANY DNA from a GMO strain found in a farmer’s crop can result in litigation by Monsanto. They can demand a payment from him for use of their patented plant DNA.

        Now, tell me how that farmer is going to pay? Tell me how those poor farmers are going to benefit from GMO’s entering their country and pushing them out of the market?

        What are they going to do? How will they feed their families? Where is there work for them?

        These are all questions that people don’t want to think about and GMO companies don’t want to mention.

        • N

          Thank you Jean Valjean. You put my thoughts into english words. My english is not good enough to express myself like this.
          ahhh, les misérables….

        • Nick Sanders

          “GMO’s are plants that are resistant or immune to herbicides and which also contain a bacterial pesticide which kills insects which may try to eat it.”

          No, some are immune to a specific herbicide, others are more herbicide tolerant, and still others produce in themselves Bt toxin, a pesticide that is commonly injected in both conventional and organic agriculture.

          “That said, Monsanto and others are attempting to sell an expensive seed to impoverished nations full of farmers who cannot afford the seed. This seed has to be purchased every year. It cannot be harvested and saved from the previous season.”
          No different from non-GMO crops.

          “What GMO’s will do is sell to the richest farmers who will then produce GMO crops using irrigation (and probably water rights that poor farmers can’t get) then dump their crops on the local markets which will depress prices such that the poorest farmers can make no money or not enough to justify their labor.”

          Bullshit.

          “Oh, and if the GMO crop from the wealthy farmer’s field cross pollinates with the poor farmers crop, guess what happens? That poor farmer cannot save those seeds and use for next year because they are patented.

          ANY DNA from a GMO strain found in a farmer’s crop can result in litigation by Monsanto. They can demand a payment from him for use of their patented plant DNA and even confiscate his crop. Inability to pay can lead to confiscation of his land.”

          Also bullshit.

          • Jean Valjean

            There is nothing so convincing as someone responding with “bullshit”.

            Thanks for contributing to the discussion.

            BTW, the one thing you did say was essentially the same as what I said only worded differently.

            Bt is a bacterial pesticide.

            For the purpose of this discussion it is irrelevant if all GMO’s have a BT toxin or not.

            Once again, you’ve contributed nothing, but you did prove you are an ass.

            Good day.

          • Nick Sanders

            “Bt is a bacterial pesticide.”

            And?

        • There are GMOs that are in lab that would be drought resistant. They aren’t just bred for it, they are actually genetically modified for it. I don’t know if they’ve made it past test fields or not, but it’s definitely a trait that we are aiming for.

          • Nick Sanders

            It would certainly help if people would quit ripping up test fields.

        • Roadstergal

          “GMO’s are plants that are resistant or immune to herbicides and which also contain a bacterial pesticide which kills insects which may try to eat it.”

          No, GMOs are organisms that have had a portion of DNA spliced into them by recombinant technology. That’s all. Often this is used as a more direct and controlled means to generate a certain phenotype, vs nonspecific mutation by chemicals and/or radiation.

          Golden rice is a GMO.

    • Nick Sanders

      “While GMO’s might increase harvest yields, that will do little to combat the actual cause of famine in the developing world which is almost exclusively caused by drought,”
      Drought tolerance is one the traits currently receiving extensive research for modification.

      ” Do you think the massive Mexican migration into the US is because they like being second class citizens in the United States? Those people come from the economically ravaged agriculture section of Mexico. And what is Mexico’s chief crop? Corn. Or at least it was.”
      They also come fleeing the drug cartels that are literally strong enough to rival the government in many places.

      “I do have a problem with their refusal to allow any regulation.”
      Uhm, they have to get crops with GM traits approved by various health and environmental regulatory agencies before they can be sold.

      “If GMO is so frickin’ awesome then why won’t they label their products as GMO?”
      Because the next step is “If they are so safe, why do they require labels?”. It’s a disingenuous question designed to pave the way towards a ban.

      “As for most of the products we buy in the store, almost all of it has extra added sugar, salt, and fat, to increase flavor and addictiveness of the product. There’s almost nothing that hasn’t been adulterated in this fashion. Even Kashi Cereal is loaded with sugar despite it’s being placed in the “health food” section of stores.”
      Which has jack shit to do with GM technology.

      “Corporations are not our friends.”

      No one said they are, but they also aren’t cackling cartoon villains out to kill us all for ill-defined reasons.

      • Jean Valjean

        “Drought tolerance is one the traits currently receiving extensive research for modification.”

        In development is not the same as in existence or in the market.

        “They also come fleeing the drug cartels that are literally strong enough to rival the government in many places.”

        They’ve been coming since the ’90s. Long before the drug cartels were a problem. Further, the drug cartels are a problem along the US border. All that area is desert. Not much corn growing there. Try again.

        “Uhm, they have to get crops with GM traits approved by various health and environmental regulatory agencies before they can be sold.”

        “Monsanto’s growth hormones for cows have been
        approved by Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lobbyist turned USDA administrator and FDA deputy commissioner. This was after Margaret Miller, a former Monsanto employee, oversaw a report on the hormones’
        safety and then took a job at the FDA where she approved her own report.

        Islam Siddiqui, a former Monsanto lobbyist, wrote the
        USDA’s food standards, allowing corporations to label irradiated and genetically engineered foods as “organic.”

        The recently passed and signed law nicknamed the
        Monsanto Protection Act strips federal courts of the power to halt the sale and planting of genetically engineered crops during a legal appeals process. The origin of this act can be found in the USDA’s deregulation of Roundup Ready sugar beets in violation of a court order. The USDA argued that any delay would have caused a sugar shortage, since Monsanto holds 95% of the market.

        The revolving door keeps revolving. Monsanto’s board
        members have worked for the EPA, advised the USDA, and served on President Obama’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.” http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/448-farm-and-food-policy/17377-focus-monsanto-has-taken-over-the-usda

        Do you really think that our regulator agencies that are populated by Monsanto employees and who approve their own reports are reliable?

        “Because the next step is “If they are so safe, why do they require labels?”. It’s a disingenuous question designed to pave the way towards a ban.”

        Monsanto loves its products and stands behind them. So why wouldn’t they want to advertise how great GMO foods are? Do we have the right to know how much sugar, fat, and salt, are in food? Have we banned those things?

        It’s not about what Monsanto wants. It’s about giving people a choice rather than force feeding them food like cattle on a feed lot.

        “No one said they are, but they also aren’t cackling cartoon villains out to kill us all for ill-defined reasons.”

        They aren’t cartoon villains. They are real villains. You just aren’t paying attention.

        Did you know it took a 25 year campaign to get lead out of gasoline? The industry fought it all the way even though their own scientists were the first to report how toxic it was and how much they were putting into the air.

        Corporations are out to make a profit. They will poison the air they breath to make a buck.

        Profit is the only moral of a corporation.

  • Anacaona

    Thank you for this wording. Couldn’t had said it myself better. I hope the privileged think about this.

  • MDBritt

    I think I have a new hero! Thank you Dr. Tuteur!

  • CanDoc

    Yes, yes and yes. You have stated perfectly what I have struggled to understand for a very long time.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym
  • RMY

    OT: a blogging buddy is a month out from having her first baby. She wants a home birth, nearest hospital is over an hour away. Her OB won’t okay it unless her TSH is under 0.5 (although he’d rather she not at all), and she’s trying for that. A huge idiot is warning her that women with thyroid issues are subject to added unnecessary interventions (by citing a medical websites article about increased complication rates for women with thyroid issues). Time to defriend, I don’t like getting emotionally invested in trainwrecks.

    • Daleth

      Ugh. Sorry to hear that.

    • Bugsy

      Oh gosh, I’m sorry. I’d be interested in knowing why the OB wants it under .5 (never mind why they’re allowing home birth at all) – my cursory research online suggests that it should be below 3.0 in the third trimester.

      • RMY

        I don’t know if the units are different, she’s in NZ, not US.

        • Bugsy

          Oooh, that’s possible. Either way, sorry to hear about the whole nightmare of an issue.

    • Cobalt

      Huge Idiot: “Here’s evidence your pregnancy and delivery is more likely to have complications requiring medical interventions to preserve life and health. It means you should AVOID the hospital.”

      Any Sensible Person: “You’re a huge idiot.”

      • RMY

        Well the idiot actually said: “This says a higher risk of interventions but that could just be doctors red flagging mothers with thyroid issues and pushing unnecessary interventions. That seems to be how they handle anything anyway.”

        Sadly the thread is full of idiots, and I got told that “midwives can handle emergencies” and “call an ambulance” if there’s anything they can’t. Oy vey. I can’t stand the stupid.

  • Rosalind Dalefield

    The belief that there is some high-level conspiracy to ‘reduce the population’ is quite ridiculous. Corporations don’t want a drastic fall in population because that would mean there were more jobs than workers, and wages and conditions would have to be improved as a result. The historical precedent for this is the Black Death, that wiped out at least quarter of the population in Europe. As a result of the sudden labour shortage, workers who survived the epidemic were able to demand higher pay and better conditions, and leave if they didn’t get them.

    • Cobalt

      Also…customers! The more people there are, the more people you can sell your products to.

    • Krista

      Just had a conversation the other day with a friend who said literally “Monsanto is looking to profit from starvation,” and my response was “Isn’t that like saying peanut companies profit from anaphylaxis?” She had no answer.

      • N

        Didn’t Monsanto make agent orange?

        • Box of Salt

          So what?

          The Nobel fortune (as in Nobel Prize) came from dynamite.

          Monsanto manufactured the chemical at the request of the American government.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Mining. Nobel meant for dynamite to be used in mining and was as appalled as you are when he found that people were using it for war and destruction.

        • landshark123

          No that was Dow chemical.

          • Nick Sanders

            Both, actually. Dow was the original supplier, but the government’s demand exceeded their manufacturing capacity, so they farmed out the excess to several other chemical companies. Monsanto was the second largest producer.

        • Krista

          They, and other chemical companies, manufactured it at the request and with the design of the U.S. govt. But Monsanto the chemical weapons company is no longer a thing. Everyone involved in making AO is long dead. And the company was dissolved, sold off, and reinstated as a biotech manufacturer. Monsanto of today and the Monsanto of 60 years ago are two totally different companies. Keeping the name I’m sure is one of their most regretted business decisions.

  • Ardea

    In The Atlantic today, James Hamblin has a thoughtful (for once) article on the same topic, an interview with Alan Levinovitz, author of The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What You Eat, in which they discuss that most of our food beliefs are shaped by religious thinking, not scientific thinking. It supports this post by Amy Tuteur. It also made me think of something I read by Steven Pinker (a Harvard psychologist), about moral thinking and the primal emotion and gradient of disgust to purity. He said, essentially, that we all have beliefs about contamination and purity, but that people who end up with political beliefs from conservative to liberal express our contamination/purity beliefs differently: conservatives tend to equate purity with respect to sexual behavior, whereas liberals tend to equate purity with bodily integrity. I’m not sure if it’s all that neat a fit, but it is certainly food for thought.

    Here’s The Atlantic interview: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/05/the-puritanical-approach-to-food/392030/

  • Trixie

    So true! Every word!

  • JJ

    “Instead, the privileged, motivated by unreasoning fears of corporate
    terrorism, are attempting to place restrictions on GMOs that will reduce
    the ability of the poor and destitute to grow these products to feed
    their own children, and to sell the products worldwide to alleviate
    their desperate poverty.”

    Yes. The privileged should be vocally supporting GMOs to feed the world, vaccines to eradicate as many diseases as possible, and real medical/OB care for all. Golden rice is exciting and I don’t even need it! Instead it is all about their little healthy family with little thought about how most others’ real lives are. Where is the responsibility/empathy towards their fellow human beings? I find this the most disturbing aspect of the anti-vax/anti-medical crowd. They can afford choices that others cannot but then can’t even see it. They can afford expensive foods, special out-of-pocket practitioners, and rely on herd immunity for disease prevention.

    Water fluoridation is another example. Something used community-wide to help save the teeth of people who may not have access to dental care and is safe. They don’t see fluoride as saving many people in their community from suffering (expensive and painful) dental issues, just as another source of unnecessary toxins.

    The compassion aspect is where I am trying to reach the natural anti-vax crowd. I am hoping that somewhere inside it is uncomfortable to see oneself as a selfish person who does not care about others. Or maybe they have just never realized how they were impacting others by not vaxxing ect. Then hopefully their hearts will open their minds to the science part so we can all help more people.

    • landshark123

      Wasn’t the original objection to fluoridation was that is was supposed to be a massive communist plot of some sort. Scratch a John Bircher deep enough and you will still find this.

      Kubrick used this to great comic effect in Dr. Strangelove (We must protect our precious bodily fluids!)

  • I am of the far left school of thought politically, and most people who are into it are not interested in the sciences. Its a shame; the science leaning radicals I know believe that corporations/capitalism needs to end so that vaccinations can be socialized and freely available! The anti-vaccine type people think you can change the world by buying the right thing (or not buying the wrong thing). Its about two steps removed from useful analysis. I’ve found a lot of comradely in the radical feminist community, there is an unusual amount of interest in science/fact checking from that camp.

    • JJ

      Interesting!

    • Wombat

      All for science, but radfem is not what I would call a science based movement in the slightest (piv is always rape, and even if you think you want it – or want it just to have kids, even – you don’t know because you’re just a woman brainwashed by patriarchial society! Really? Radfem is about the least frminist thing possible a lot of the time. It’s antifeminism)… even if you find a few pearls of science-based wisdom, you have to shift through a lot of shi- swine to get there.

      Edit: I should say though: more power to someone if they want to be radfem themselves. Just don’t force it on others. And I am sure that there are extremely science literate radfeminists, but I would also say that those two characteristics are more likely to be unrelated than not.

      Though perhaps you just meant radical feminism in a sense of vocal, adament feminists, not the actual radfem movement…. in that case I agree that they do tend to support science and apologize for the misunderstanding c:

      • Staceyjw

        You don’t seem to knowledgable about radical feminism. Maybe try to learn more before bashing it as anti science.
        “Radical” means “go to the root of”, it’s an intellectual tradition, and not about zealousness.

        I agree with Safer UT MWery on this. Some of the most developed analysis of where we are today, and how we got here, are found in that community.

        • Wombat

          Radical feminism uses radical in the sense that it believes the patriarchy is the inherent cause of all women’s oppression (the root cause), regardless of legal, social, or historical context. Essentially, the patriarchy always has, is, and always will and it is 100% the problem. It’s a derivative of 2nd wave feminism, mostly splitting (albeit gradually at first) around the 1960s.

          Their anti-science views would be denial of biological and reproductive imperatives, denial of the biological evidence for the transgendered, and some very questionable views on homosexuality that go hand-in-hand with the above (those have changed over time, but Lesbian RadFems are still generally seen as a splinter or other group, which is quite damning in a group that believes in radical egalitarianism and women’s equality). Additionally, many very prolific, prominent, and well-embraced radical feminists have dismissed intellectualism and rationality as measures of male-dominated ways of viewing the world, aka tools of the patriarchy. Julia Kristeva in the 70s is an excellent example of this, though she has admittedly backed away from it over time.

          Additionally, that is the classic view of radfem. It has had it’s own ‘second wave’, more militant coming of age via the influence of social media, particularly in the tumblr and other micro-blogging spheres. That is where the very extreme views such as PiV is Rape, women cannot consent to sex with a man (even if not PiV), that anyone born intersexed or even less-than-perfectly sexed can never be a woman – while still insisting that toppling gender is the #1 priority, and other hateful and diversionary ideas have truly come to the forefront and had their day in the sun, rather than simply the original goal of study and toppling of the patriarchy for feminism’s sake. That is more the version I was talking about, just for the record, since it is both the most current and the most closely associated with the ‘radfem’ label, again, especially online.

          Regardless, your argument that just because they ‘get to the root’ they are scientific, does not hold water. They get to the root in terms of the source of oppression and the means to end it. It is primarily cultural and legal/moralistic, not nec. imperial. They are a science in the way that any modern cultural movement is connected to the principals of natural science and sociology – in that way, the cult of nature worshipping midwives and mommies are ‘scientific’ too.

          What part of it don’t I understand, please?

      • I don’t think you know much about radical feminism based on the things you’ve just said. Have fun with that, I prefer to read the source material before judging.

        • Wombat

          A radical feminist speaking and writing for an audience about her movement isn’t the source material? Because that’s exactly where ‘All PiV is Rape’ and ‘Intelligence and Rationality are tools of the patriarchy’ come from.

          Julia Kristeva is the source for calling those who value science and philosophy proponents of “phallic dominance” (orig. 1974, republished in anthology 1980).

          Also, my reply to Staceyjw lays out that this isn’t exactly a claim I make lightly, nor am I as unfamiliar with the source material as you apparently like to just assume.

          • No, they aren’t. I am guessing you are referencing “Intercourse” by andrea dworkin. The entire book was an exercise in literary critique. You cannot take quotes out of it without the context of the literature it was describing. The fact was that the male authors that she referenced did see all PIV sex essentially as rape, saw all women as frigid, saw PIV as unejoyable for women, etc. There is an entire chapter in Intercourse about the possibility of female sexuality being treated as equally important, what heterosexual relations would look like in such a world (the chapter titled “skinless”). The truth is that radical feminists have a fantastic level of hope regarding the behavior of men. If they felt that men could not change they wouldn’t advocate for social change, they would simply become separatists.

          • Wombat

            No, not Dworkin. Google “All PiV is rape”. Featured as far and wide as a popular blog with 100s of comments in support to a Radical Feminist Facebook ‘education’ page (though they at least toe the line and say that a minority if women may legitimately choose and enjoy it, while simultaneously pointing out how unlikely that is…). It is an at least semi-common viewpoint. It may be derivative, even misunderstandingly derivative, of Dworkin, but these women do seriously believe and support it, to the point of putting the framework on others.

            No comment on their rejection of intellectualism? That is far more damning than the PiV nonsense, imo, I just like to use the PiV example because it is muchore relatable and understandable for most outsiders.

            And I said little to nothing about their views or opinions of men, here or to Staceyjw? Unless you consider the patriarchy and all individual men entirely equal and interchangable (as you rightly point out, not a very feminist or radfem view, though I would say that radfems stray closer in their ideal that gender roles and labels need to be disestablished… excepet for naturally vagina possesing women, but I digress)? Men and ‘the patriarchy’ are forcibly intertwined, but they are not interchangable, almost no matter what spin you put on ‘the pattiarchy’ as a concept and term (there are probably some kill/enslave all men militants out there who disagree, but I’d hope/think most rational people can safely set aside anuone calling for genocide).

          • the first result is a blog that says all piv is NOT rape. the 2nd is a voice for men, a men’s rights website. the rest is a bunch of people debating the strawman. Even if some radical feminist somewhere had said that, or a bunch of them thought it was true, who cares? You pretend like its a main tenent of the radical feminist political movement and it just isn’t. Mostly its about ending violence against women by dismantling patriarchy and gender roles.

          • Wombat

            We get different Google results, but regardless. I never said it was a main tenant, just one of their nuttier ones, and one that differentiates them from other feminists, who also believe in ending violence against women and reducing reliance on or eliminating gender roles.

            I care because I find that logic (that I expressly -can’t- know what I want -because I am a woman-) both insulting and inherently anti-feminist. It’s also unscientific woo because it disregards animal drive for pleasure and reproduction.

            Saying that ‘only some believed it so it doesn’t matter’ is dangerously close to Godwin’ing this conversation, but clearly we disagree on radical feminism. That’s cool. I still haven’t seen support, from you or Stacey, for it being a -science based movement-, which was actually my original objection (PiV is my personal dislike, though it flows slightly into the science issue as well).

  • Mac Sherbert

    I was just thinking the other day…Who has time to worry about all these things? It drives me crazy. I sent strawberries in my kid’s lunch today. I don’t know how they were grown or where they were grown. They were on sale at the grocery store and he will eat them. I think she’s got a point here…please worry about more important things.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Only the privileged have time to worry about them.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Re strawberries in particular, I admit that I am currently boycotting Driscoll over their treatment of their workers. I am aware that I am able to do so because of my privilege and don’t demand that anyone else do the same. I have no idea whether the strawberries I do buy from a different company are organic, GMO, or what and don’t care either. (Sorry, off topic…)

      • Mac Sherbert

        If it makes you feel any better, they weren’t Driscoll.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          None of my business which strawberries you choose to buy, of course, but…yeah, it kind of does. The working conditions sounded kind of gross.

          Strawberries are one of those things that I wax nostalgic about. They really were better when I used to pick them out of the garden as a child. Wish I had a place to grow them where I live now. (Sorry. Even more off topic.)

          • Mishimoo

            My grandparents had a bed of strawberries down the side of their house. Checking on it, even if it wasn’t the right season, was always one of the highlights of my visits.

          • Ardea

            Oregon Hood strawberries in June: the very best in the whole wide world – to the point that any other strawberry is just a sad, hard, flavorless imitation, and not worth eating, in order to save one’s fulfillment of the drive for eating strawberries for June, in Oregon, in a state of ecstasy. If you can get access to some and plant them in a strawberry pot, you would be happy happy happy.

            http://www.oregon-strawberries.org/varieties.html

            http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/node/1042

            http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Plant-A-Strawberry-Pot-With-Strawberries/

            (I feel that way about raspberries in late June and blueberries in July, too.)

          • So sorry, you haven’t eaten Israeli strawberries THEY’RE the best in the world!

            BTW, [and a bit OT], strawberries tend to be heavily sprayed because, being so close to the ground, and luscious, all sorts of pests just love them. Israeli scientists have now created a strain which is like a vine, and so grows upwards, and keeps a lot of the pests away without insecticides. Neat, eh?

          • Mac Sherbert

            Yes. Well, where I live those strawberries make the ants very happy. Never had any of my attempts to grow them workout, but the ants did seem to appreciate the effort. Not willing to spend the money on all the chemicals it would take to discourage those little critters. :).

          • DaisyGrrl

            I’ve seen hanging strawberry planters at local nurseries. Could be a good way to keep the ants and other garden crawlies at bay with fewer chemicals.

          • hyperzombie

            Insects that fly have no problem reaching planters.

      • Allie

        I prefer berries from California instead of Mexico, because there have been a number of bacterial outbreaks from Mexican produce. I don`t think anyone objects to consumers modifying corporate behaviour with their wallets, when it`s based on things that make sense, like worker treatment or legitimate concerns about safety standards. But to object to genetically modified foods is ridiculous. Our food has been genetically modified since we stepped out of the primordial forest and plucked the first grain off a stalk of wheat. Domesticated animals have been genetically modified, through long-term isolation and selective breeding. The line between natural and unnatural is imaginary.

        • Daleth

          Ridiculous, maybe, but harmless, and thus none of your business. Some people think it’s ridiculous to avoid high fructose corn syrup, but people have every right to avoid that if they want to, and thus to know whether it is in something that’s sitting on their supermarket shelves.

          • Cobalt

            I agree with labeling, in a “right to know” sense. If that means everything at the grocery store gets labelled GMO, so be it. If people are willing to pay stupid amounts of money for non-GMO, let ’em. Labelling may even help by desensitizing the average consumer through demonstrating how common, boring, and well-established GMO foods are.

          • Nick Sanders

            That’s the thing, it’s not a “right to know” issue.

            http://web.archive.org/web/20140817014957/http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/GLP-right-to-know-infographic.pdf

            There was a very succinct cartoon on the issue, too, but I can’t find it at the moment.

          • Cobalt

            Your link wants to download something my device does not understand. Can you give me a summary or alternative?

          • Nick Sanders

            It’s a list of quotes from GMO opponents talking about how they can use labeling to ban them. Let me see if I can find a host besides web archive.

            Ok, here’s the original host, sorry I couldn’t find it the first time, but they apparently restructured their site:

            http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/GLP-GMO-label.png

          • Cobalt

            I don’t think the “labelling as a step to banning” is going to be an effective strategy though. It’ll catch a few people that would likely have ended up down the woo hole anyway, but it will also highlight to everyone who currently doesn’t care if they eat GMOs just how sensible (and boring and mainstream) a position that is. Basically everything will get labelled, there’ll be some dust kicked up, and people will get over it.

            That, and the honesty of it appeals to me. Transparency seems to work out best in the end.

          • Kelly

            It makes people like me just want to buy them to spite them.

      • Deborah

        Oh, too bad about Driscoll. They really do have better raspberries.

      • hyperzombie

        There are no GMO strawberries on the market.

    • Bugsy

      Evil strawberries…how could you!?

      Just kidding…I can completely relate. Probably about 10 years ago, I was headed down the path of concern over what was in my food. Conventional produce? Nope – gotta go organic…except that it was too expensive. Anyway, long story short in that it made me paranoid and nearly caused an eating disorder – I was petrified that anything I put in my mouth was going to kill me.

      That’s some of the damage I fear could happen…that those of us who cannot or do not choose to buy organic can become so frightened of the evil “toxins” permeating conventional that we stay clear of pretty much everything.

      It wasn’t a fun way to live.

      • Mac Sherbert

        I want to feed my family good food. I want them to be healthy. However, to me it is just way of out control. You can’t just feed you kids healthy food it to also meet xyz criteria. The way I see it I try to feed my family as healthy as possible, but the benefit of xyz is not worth the time or money. I mean is it worth buying organic and then not being able to go the new Avengers movie this Saturday with my Marvel obsessed kid? Nah. Is worth the time of driving across town to the crunchy grocery store to find food that meet the xyz criteria…Not to me. What if eating food meeting xyz criteria gave me an extra 2 years, but I spent the last of however many years worried about everything I put in my mouth?I just don’t think it’s worth it. But hey that’s me.

        • Bugsy

          I completely agree…for what it’s worth, the acupuncturist my RE sent me to wanted to put me on a “cleanse” diet so that I would get pregnant following my failed IVF cycle last year. Knowing that IVF cycle #1 had worked irrespective of my diet, I laughed. I picked up more fruits & veggies in prep for my frozen embryo transfer, and also watched my sugars. Other than that, I enjoyed whatever tasted good and felt right.

          The net result? 13 weeks pregnant today. And yep, the awesome drugs the RE put me on surely did help!

          • Daleth

            Congrats, Bugsy, and I wish you the best possible luck!

          • Bugsy

            Thanks, Daleth! 🙂

          • Mac Sherbert

            Congrats on the baby! Hope it all goes smoothly.

          • Bugsy

            Thanks! Congrats on your little one as well. 🙂

          • Mac Sherbert

            Thanks but mine is almost 3! It was an easy pregnancy that ended in a lovely C-section and a 9 lb. beauty. 🙂

          • Mishimoo

            So exciting!!

  • MHAM

    This frustrates me in my home state. Homebirth is illegal here. The local birth activists sponsor a bill to legalize it every year and every year it is struck down.

    Now in addition to home birth, the bill includes a lot of really great stuff about expanding availability of prenatal care to underserved rural areas, sponsoring transportation subsidies for pregnant women and children who need more advanced care in the city centers, providing education and social services about birth and infant care in isolated areas of the state, etc, etc, etc. In other words, things that would greatly benefit poverty stricken women and children (most of whom are people of color) in this state.

    Those measures would likely pass on their own, if separated from the home birth legislation. And even if they didn’t, they would raise awareness for the struggles these women and children face. But every year, they refuse to break up the bill. Every. Single. Year.

    If they really cared about mothers and children in this state, they would prioritize the woman who is six months pregnant and has never seen a healthcare provider of any kind because she has no transportation and there is no clinic closer than an hour away. Not the wealthy, educated woman in the suburbs who lives three minutes from one of the best hospitals in the country, but wants have her baby in an inflatable pool out on her deck.

    • JJ

      Yes in our state there is a senate bill going though about legitimizing assistant midwives and having medi-cal pay for homebirth as a way to help undeserved populations. Can we help people by giving them real medical care? Not by lowering the standards of the care providers to rock bottom. As a taxpayer, I don’t care how much money it is supposed to save!

      • Bombshellrisa

        Yes to both ^^^
        The time it takes to process applications for Medicaid for pregnant women in my state is appalling! Women often don’t get their applications processed and approved until they are in their second trimester. Then trying to find an OB who takes your insurance, a reasonable distance away AND isn’t fully booked for your due date.
        In my state, pregnant women on Medicaid can get care from CPMs and have their home births paid for. That is wrong on so many levels.

  • HorschEL_Jefe

    I contest the Ford and GM claims as an engineer (okay..maybe not quite GM). Otherwise, totally agree. The engineers lament: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/04/the-engineers-lament

    The Pinto similie is much like GMO’s and Anti-vax: sure, vaccines can have serious side effects for a few, but not all. What was below statistical noise and a rare accident was blown out of proportion due to emotion. Is this not what we’re seeing with GMO’s and vaccines? But it must be conceded that there is always risk when driving a car. Likewise, there are risks we’re willing to take to use a car, prevent diseases, and provide food. The irrationality comes when you add emotion to the statistical noise and demand absolute safety: which is impossible. There is no such thing as no risk.

    • Forget the pinto- read a book about Ralph Nader sometime. He is the reason cars have seatbelts, and the auto industry tried very hard to ruin his life over his consumer advocacy for automobile safety.

      • HorschEL_Jefe

        Or Tucker.

        • Well, I use seatbelts, but I can’t say I like them. For some reason, they are extremely uncomfortable, due to my height and shape.

      • Roadstergal

        McNamera got Ford to put seatbelts in cars when he worked there – and the public didn’t want them.

        • landshark123

          They took his new safety designs (like belts and padded dashboards etc) as saying that their cars had previously been unsafe.

    • Eh … I read about the Ford cars in college. Indiana actually almost put the CEO of Ford in jail for murder over one of the dead, and the only reason they didn’t was that the death happened 6 months before the law went into effect.

      The problem wasn’t that the tank was vulnerable to exploding in a rear-end collision per se. The problem was that Ford chose not to fix it, even though they knew it would cost lives. This girl died after Ford made that decision, which is why it was charged as murder. So, actually, the Ford Pinto example is a perfect example of corporate malfeasance on a large scale that led to some people dying.

  • OttawaAlison

    I really like this post!

  • MLE

    Thank you, as ever, for your incisive and resolute stance.

  • Amy M

    And GMOs! (other post was long, so I am making a new one)
    I get the impression that most of the people who are opposed to GMOs have no idea what GMOs actually are, and how they are produced. They don’t get that the point of many GMO crops is to build in natural resistance to pests, in order to REDUCE the amounts of pesticides used on the crops.

    There are people who blame autism, allergies, adhd and migraines on GMOs. Companies should not have to put a warning label, like a cigarette box, on their products because there is nothing to warn against. GMOs aren’t deadly to humans. Companies didn’t mention the GMs they did because they were trying to cover something up—they didn’t make a big deal because its irrelevant. I really can’t stand the Food Babe and her crazy army.

    • Roadstergal

      Jimmy Kimmel did a bit where he asked a bunch of anti-GMOers at a farmers’ market what “GMO” stands for and what they are, and they were unable to properly answer. (Also good bits – asking people going into a hip gym if they’re going gluten-free, then asking them what gluten is. And his wonderful pro-vax message.)

      We really need more biology education (in addition to statistics). People have this idea that genes are very static and messing with them is somehow unnatural. Genetic modification is the most natural thing ever! It’s the reason we evolve. It’s the reason we have maize. It’s the reason we have an immune system – your own cells are scrambling your DNA every minute of every day. Bacteria, including the seething mass in your own gut, swap DNA with each other like Pokémon cards. (Yes, inter-species swapping, even.)

      I mean, the tools for genetic modification – restriction enzymes and ligases – are all 100% natural products!

      • Amy M

        And our genes modify themselves, via recombination. And natural environmental factors affect methylation. But these people, as you said, don’t even know what “GMO” stands for, so I’m assuming they don’t science very well in general.

        • Roadstergal

          Ask Dr Barbara McClintock about ‘non-GMO corn.’

        • Bugsy

          I’m pretty sure the ultimate goal of Crazy Lactivist and her husband was to ensure that their son’s own genes never were subjected to recombination. Before I unfriended them, one of the final posts I saw was a reference to adopting a diet that would let their kid live to be 100 and also defeat all cancers/heart disease, etc.

          • Amy M

            That’s impossible. It happens as a normal part of cell division. And the genes in the egg/sperm that created the son recombined before the egg was fertilized. Whatever genes that kid has, he has—yes, gene changes can occur from environmental factors, but thats changes to the genes that are there. Genetics is not CL’s strongpoint huh?

          • Bugsy

            Lol, she got her u-grad degree in microbiology…not genetics, but once upon a time, she was familiar with science. I honestly think the downfall has been her husband. Sorry to be blunt, but he’s an uneducated nimrod who criticizes all forms of education and appears wildly threatened by his wife’s degrees. In lieu of going to college, finishing high school or even finishing middle school, he researches things extensively online for a month or so and then declares himself an expert who other experts seek out for advice.

            Late last year, it was his Google U degree in homeopathy. He said that famous homeopathic doctors were coming to him for advice after like a month of studying, and that all of his Facebook friends should be sure to come to him so that he can impart all of his loving guidance on them.

            Ummm, yeah. Before she married him, she was after him to complete his GED. Now she lets him rule the roost.

    • I am somewhat opposed to GMOs, but just because of the effect it has on small farmers. They can be sued if some of the genes from the GMO crop ends up on their farm, something they literally have no control over. Monstanto is pretty notorious for this. They set up shop next to an organic farm, some of the seeds blow over, and then they sue.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        Is that more important than the people starving to death in Africa or South East Asia among other places?

        • Cobalt

          No. But it still matters if Monsanto is in fact deliberately sabotaging other farming businesses.

          The good potential of GMO crops doesn’t justify bad corporate behavior, just as bad corporate behavior doesn’t make GMOs inherently bad or non nutritious.

          Also, are the GMO crops actually being used to good effect in areas of the world where they could be saving lives? The potential is there, absolutely, but is it actually happening? I honestly haven’t heard any news in this area in years.

          • Miles Stockdale

            “No. But it still matters if Monsanto is in fact deliberately sabotaging other farming businesses.”

            What matters is if such claims are true. They are not. You have been taken for a ride.

            “Also, are the GMO crops actually being used to good effect in areas of the world where they could be saving lives? The potential is there, absolutely, but is it actually happening? I honestly haven’t heard any news in this area in years.”

            Golden rice could have been saving lives years ago, but it has long been held up by absurd regulations. The same goes for countless other beneficial products that sit on the shelf as the the potential sales are not enough to justify the tens of millions of dollars to get through the regulatory nightmare, and there is no way of knowing when you start how absurd the regulatory framework is going to become as you make your way through it, and despite all of the evidence showing that there are no issues, instead of the regulatory roadblocks being reduced they simply get longer and more expensive each year.

            This anti-science, nonsensical worldview that is driving these regulations is causing significant harm to the world’s poor, to the world’s small farmers, and to the environment.

            “On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%. Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect-resistant crops than for herbicide-tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries.”

            http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111629

          • Cobalt

            My point was that developing life saving technology doesn’t give you the right to act like an ass, but even if you are an ass it doesn’t reflect on the inherent worth of the technology. Developing life saving technology also creates a responsibility on society’s part to use it to actually save lives, especially when the potential benefits are so enormous.

            SMU brought up the deliberate contamination claim and her concerns over the ethics involved, Dr. A questioned the relevance of that particular ethics concern in the face of the much greater concern of lost lives, and I responded to that. I didn’t claim Monsanto was doing anything, just that IF they in FACT were, it didn’t change the value of the crops.

            Don’t be so quick to insult someone who is perfectly willing to agree with you, and don’t get so offended at the reasonable questions asked by the average skeptic that you feel the need to insult them.

        • Ardea

          There are different reasons for creating GMOs, and thus opposing or supporting them, and the one Safer Midwifery Utah mentioned – suing small farmers when wind-pollinated crops hybridize across fields – is egregious. This is not related to efforts to develop vehicles for the delivery of needed nutrients, such as golden rice, which delivers Vitamin A, except for the label “GMO”.

          I think it is possible to have a nuanced position on GMOs: Does this make it possible for more people to eat? Or does this just enrich Monsanto (or other large corporation) at the expense of field workers and small farmers?

          • Miles Stockdale

            “the one Safer Midwifery Utah mentioned – suing small farmers when wind-pollinated crops hybridize across fields – is egregious.”

            It is 100% not true. It has never happened. Not once.

            “Or does this just enrich Monsanto (or other large corporation) at the expense of field workers and small farmers?”

            Things are not a zero sum game. Producing seeds that reduce pesticide use and increase yields, can both benefit the corporation, the farmer, and the consumer.

            Most farmers that use GMOs are small farmers, and they are the ones who have benefited the most – poor cotton farmers in India who have access to BT cotton and no longer need to spray insecticide over and over again (which is expensive) and no longer need as much labor from their children, now have the extra money to send some of their kids to school.

            A meta study out of Germany found:

            “On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%. Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect-resistant crops than for herbicide-tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries.”

            Unfortunately GMOs generally only exist for a small number of the world’s most grown crops – but that is entirely because misguided and misinformed activists have resulted in a regulatory structure where only the largest companies can commercialize products. Which leads to a situation where the University of Florida has GMOs that can reduce chemical inputs and crop damage for citrus, among others, but they will continue to sit on the shelf as the tens of millions of dollars to get them through the regulatory nightmare does not exist. If the same varieties had been created by more risky methods like radiation breeding or chemical mutagenesis – like thousands of our crops have been – it would have been no problem at all. That is so far beyond absurd there are no words.

            http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111629

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        Did that actually ever happen? I’ve heard conflicting reports, some claiming that Monsanto only sued when the entire field next door was “accidentally” filled with Monsanto seeds. While I trust Monsanto about as far as I can throw their CEO, I’ve never seen the “suing organic farmers for seeds blowing over” thing documented with details and trial transcripts either.

        • Roadstergal

          I would welcome a citation to this ever happening. I’ve only found evidence for what you mention – rather a lot more sowing than one would find by ‘accident.’

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          The defense is that “they just blew over” but if you look at the actual facts of the cases, it’s not even close.

          I was just reading yesterday about the case where the seed cleaner (a guy who “cleans” harvested seed so they can be used for planting) was sued by Monsanto for knowingly and willingly cleaning GMO seeds for farmers, despite the fact that they are forbidden by agreement from doing that. Anti-GMO people claim him and his business to be a victim of Monsanto’s viciousness. However, reading the testimony, he knew damn well that he was doing it and, in fact, he encouraged farmers to do it.

          In the end, the whole ruling against him was basically cease and desist, Granted, since the vast majority of farmers were using patented seeds, it seriously cut into his business, but to pretend he was an innocent victim is nonsense. He knew full well what he was doing was illegal, but didn’t care.

        • Tosca

          Exactly the opposite happened in my home state of Western Australia. An organic farmer sued his neighbor because GM seeds ended up on the organic property and he lost his organic certification. I actually have a lot of sympathy for the organic farmer in this case; not because GMOs are harmful and organic is good, but because his business model was destroyed through no fault of his own.

          http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/west-australian-organic-farmer-loses-court-fight-against-gm-neighbour/story-e6frg6nf-1226934753825

          • Miles Stockdale

            Having read the verdict, I have no sympathy for the the organic farmer. As the judge showed – a couple GMO canola plants winding up on his property were no more contaminating that the couple non-GMO canola plants that would have wound up on his property in years past, or the couple plants that undoubtably traveled in the opposite direction. He can’t be rewarded for setting up absurd rules that your neighbors must achieve that you would be completely incapable of achieving yourself either. The organic farmer was growing no related crops, and he could have just pulled them as he undoubtedly had done in the past. He could have sent the farmer a bill for the 30 cents worth of his time. Instead he called his certifying agency over and over again to say that his land was contaminated (it wasn’t). The certifying board understood that there were no grounds for decertification – none – they say so on several occasions in their internal communications, but after numerous calls from their paranoid farmer, they decided to decertify part of his land. Any legal justification that Marsh may have had was with his certifying agency who completely violated their own rules. The farmer who was sued had caused no damage what so ever. All of the damages to Marsh were caused by himself and his certifying agency. It was a simple case.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Sounds like the organic farmer went on a vendetta against the neighbor to go after GMOs. Why not just pull the unwanted plants? Because then he wouldn’t have been able to complain about the evil GMOs.

          • Daleth

            The only reason that verdict makes sense to me is that the GMO plants were a completely different kind of plant than what the organic farmer was growing. Because of that, they were not able to contaminate his plants (although depending on where they were, his sheep might have eaten them and that probably would have rendered the sheep’s milk and meat non-organic… but I guess that must not have happened in this case).

            If GMO wheat blew into an organic wheat field, however, the organic farmer would and should IMHO have a strong case.

          • hyperzombie

            If GMO wheat blew into an organic wheat field,

            well that would be a tough one because there is no GMO wheat.
            It could happen with canola is Australia, though.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Alternately there is no non-GMO wheat. Or, rather, it’s called spelt. Actually, that’s already modified, I think.

          • hyperzombie

            Yep Spelt has been heavily modified by Humans.

          • Wren

            Why?

            Oh wait, because he could no longer sell his produce for a much higher price based solely on fears of GMO food?

          • Daleth

            Yup. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business WHY people want to buy non-GMO stuff; it’s not like it even arguably harms the world (as people buying Hummers and other gas guzzlers do), so there is absolutely zero reason to deny people the right to do that. If someone wants to avoid XYZ ingredient, they have that right. If they’re willing to pay producers who make stuff without that ingredient, they have that right.

            Someone contaminating an organic crop with GMO versions of the same plant causes serious damage to the organic farmer’s business and obligates the farmer to spend money to fix the problem, just like someone contaminating a gluten-free bakery with 50 pounds of wheat flour. Therefore, the person contaminating the other person’s property must pay.

          • Wren

            Except that the field was only contaminated by what is effectively an Act of God (meaning that in the least religious way). Go ahead and sue if people deliberately contaminate, but seeds blown on the wind are not that at all.

            It’s not at all like contaminating a gluten-free bakery with wheat flour, unless that wheat flour simply blew in without human intervention.

            Otherwise you are effectively allowing one farmer to control what and where another plants in their own fields.

          • Daleth

            An act of god is an *unexpected* natural event–earthquake, hurricane, lightning strike, etc.–that causes damage.

            There’s nothing unexpected about the fact that if you plant wind-pollinated crops, their seeds will be carried in the direction of the prevailing winds (and sometimes in other directions, since “prevailing” means most of the time, not all the time).

            Legally people are responsible for the foreseeable results of their intentional actions. The results are considered intentional because the action was intentional and any reasonable person could foresee the results. So if you plant wind-pollinated crops, you’re responsible for those seeds ending up in nearby fields downwind from you (and nearby fields in other directions too, for the reason mentioned above).

            Usually that has no consequences because your seeds don’t harm anyone else. But if your seeds are, in effect, contamination–if they hybridize a crop whose value comes from being pure, or breed with an organic crop and thus render it nonorganic–then IMHO the cost of remedying that, or compensating the owner if it’s impossible to actually undo the problem, should be on you.

            The net result of that would be that farmers planting GMO crops would decide to plant them in places that aren’t upwind from or very close to organic crops of the same plant. That way everybody’s value is maintained.

          • Cobalt

            This reminds of scenarios where developers build neighborhoods next to farms with livestock, people then buy the houses and complain about the smell, then lobby to have the agricultural zoning line moved back, causing all sorts of trouble for the farming operation that was there first.

            It’s a mess, and can be resolved with a little forethought and a slight reduction in greed.

          • Daleth

            Agreed. It can also be resolved by newcomers NOT trying to change the character of what’s already there.

          • Wren

            Could GMO farmers also sue for windblown seeds from non-GMO plants ending up on their land?

            In many cases, GMO crops have a greater value than those which are not due to lowered pesticide use and greater disease resistance. Greater nutritional value could also be an issue.

          • Daleth

            If the GMO farmer could prove that the non-GMO seeds had substantially reduced the value of his crop, then sure, although that seems unlikely ever to happen. But the converse is not true; organic certification requires an absence of any GMOs, so it’s quite easy to prove that GMO plants substantially reduced the value of a formerly organic crop.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            But even if we concede that, it doesn’t change the facts of this case that the guy tried a baseless case in an attempt to go after the GMO farmer.

      • Miles Stockdale

        No farmer has ever been sued for accidental contamination. Monsanto is not notorious for that; anti-GMO activists are notorious for spreading that lie. You don’t have to take my word for this either. You can start by looking up the recent case where organic organizations attempted to sue Monsanto over this issue and it was laughed out of court when they couldn’t come up with a single case of this ever happening.

        Once you actually look that up, you should ask yourself why the people you seem to trust on this issue are lying to you. And they are not just stretching the truth – they are flat out lying. They are 0% correct.

        There is a reason why GMO crops are so popular with farmers. There is a reason why Monsanto quickly became a large player in the seed market (but are no where near as big as the anti-gmo activists claim them to be). That reason? They produce the seeds that farmers actually want, for prices that farmers feel is the best deal.

      • QuantumMechanic

        Monsanto has never sued a farmer because “genes from the GMO crop ends up on their farm”. Farmers have only been sued for intentional acts of saving/collecting Monsanto patented product.

        In the Monsanto case that went to the US Supreme Court a couple of years ago that fact was right there in the case records.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      But non-GMO crops are created by making seeds mutant by exposing them to radiation… I still do not get how that method is natural and inserting an specific gene is not.

    • Deborah

      I tend to oppose GMO’s just on the grounds that each GMO crop/type is about as clone-y/monoculture as you can get, and a single new pathogen could wipe it out. And then if a new pathogen comes up, the automatic thought is to re-engineer the crop to be resistant to that. However, this is certainly nothing new, though, world agriculture is very monoculture anyway.

      • Cobalt

        Life (as a whole) gains resilience from biodiversity. Makes stuff like this sound like a very good idea:
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svalbard_Global_Seed_Vault

        No technology is perfect, including GMO crops.

      • hyperzombie

        Hmmm, well I hate to say this but you are totally wrong. But it is a very common mistaken belief.
        GMOs are plant traits not varieties of plants. For example there is one GMO grown in India, GMO Bt cotton, but over 1000 varieties of GMO cotton just in India. Once they have the GMO trait inserted into a plant species they use conventional breeding methods to insert the same trait into many local varieties. Corn in the US you can get the same variety with or without the GMO trait or with multiple GMO traits.

        There is far more selection of varieties of crops today than at anytime in history, Pioneer for example sells over 300 varieties of just corn.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    Nice try, but the anti-vaxxers seem fixated on that one post of yours. I’m not sure why. Maybe they really are too stupid to figure out how to explore another post.

  • Amy M

    I’ve often thought that the extreme breastfeeding advocates should put their money where their mouths are, and start a clean-water campaign. I’d even donate money to that fund, since clean water is one of the basic necessities and so many people (mostly in underdeveloped countries) do not have access to it. Raise the money to build plants that purify the local water sources, install public water systems to ensure that clean water is coming out of the tap, and have easy access to medical care for those that get sick from contaminated water.

    Instead, they try to get formula samples banned from hospitals, formula advertising banned period, and insist that formula should be distributed with a prescription. They’ll say they think the formula industry is brain-washing people into buying formula instead of breastfeeding, and that most women don’t have a medical reason for not breastfeeding. Way to decide that women are idiots who can’t make their own decisions. They are the very paternalistic people that they often decry–you know all those paternalistic doctors who are in cahoots with the formula companies and out to sabotage every woman’s breastfeeding relationship.

    • HorschEL_Jefe

      I have a friend that recommended on her blog that those that can’t breastfeed should seek breast milk donations on FB. Never mind the inherent risks of obtaining questionable milk from someone you don’t even know, or exposing yourself as having a newborn and potentially getting murdered over it.
      http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/04/fears-of-gmo-baby-formula-drive-moms-to-buy-contaminated-breast-milk-online/

      http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/26/us/colorado-pregnant-woman-attack/

      Not worth the risk in my opinion.

    • Rosalind Dalefield

      It’s the ‘most women’ part that gets me. I know a woman who just could not produce good quality milk. Her kids did not thrive until she switched them to formula. The extreme breastfeeding advocates seem quite happy to let such children suffer and perhaps even die, just as the extreme natural childbirth advocates seem quite happy to let women and/or their babies die if the women are unable to give birth naturally or easily. Despite their claims, some women are physically unable to give birth easily (I am one such woman) and some women simply cannot produce milk of sufficient volume and/or quality.