Green Parties aren’t so Green

By @TakeThatGMOs

Image result for jill steinIn this publishing, I will focus on Green parties and environmentalism, and how green parties get environmental protection wrong.

What are Green parties?

Wikipedia defines Green parties as a”Formally organized political party based on the principles of green politics, such as social justice, environmentalism and nonviolence.”

Green parties are found all over the world. Here’s a list of green parties from around the world. The world’s first Green parties began appearing in the early 70s in Germany and Australia. The German Green party was the first Green party to achieve national prominence in their respective country. One of their key pillars was their opposition to nuclear energy.

Green parties and environmental protection

Green parties are primarily concerned in theory with protecting the environment and environmental conservation. That in its own regard is a good cause. The issue lies with how Green parties go about trying to protect the environment.

Green parties are anti-science on nuclear energy

The UK Green Party wants to phase out fossil-fuel based energy generation and nuclear power. Jill stein, the US Green Party’s candidate for president wants to phase out nuclear power and end nuclear subsidies. Moreover, Stein has compared nuclear power plants with weapons of mass destruction on more than one occasion.

In this instance, the UK & US Green Parties are wrong on nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is safereliable and clean.

The evidence over six decades shows that nuclear power is a safe means of generating electricity. The risk of accidents in nuclear power plants is low and declining. The consequences of an accident or terrorist attack are minimal compared with other commonly accepted risks. Radiological effects on people of any radioactive releases can be avoided.

Not only that, but nuclear power is the most reliable source of energy in use today and produces the least carbon emissions, even less than solar power.

Capacity Factor by Generating Source
Source: Nuclear Energy Institute

Life Cycle Carbon Emissions
Source: Nuclear Energy Institute
Arguably, the only legitimate concern with nuclear energy is the radioactive waste. Even then, the amounts of nuclear waste produced is negligible, safe to store and can even be used as a resource.

65% of scientists support building more nuclear power plants as opposed to 35% who aren’t sure or don’t support the building of more nuclear power plants.

Green Parties go against the established scientific evidence, and oppose nuclear energy, which is the most reliable way forward for green energy.

Green Parties and GMOs 

GMOs have been established as a safe and very promising technology. Fears about GMOs are completely unwarranted, and go against the established scientific consensus. GMOs may provide the solution to nutrient deficiencies as well as food supply problems in poorer countries. They can be engineered to grow in unfavorable climates as well as be engineered to contain more nutrients, such as beta carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A in golden rice. Moreover, GMOs can be engineered to produce biofuels, which can be a great way to combat carbon emissions produced by cars, the second largest producer of carbon emissions.

The UK Green Party opposes GMOs, and supports placing a moratorium on them, as well as restrict research on GMOs. Here’s Jill Stein’s take:

Not only is her information on GMOs completely wrong, but she also uses biased sources such as Organic Consumers Union and Union of Concerned Scientists as sources, both of which are incredibly dishonest and have their own agendas to push. The Organic Consumers Union for instance wants to spread the sale of organic food, and so have an obvious benefit in scaring people from buying GMOs.

The Canadian Green Party wants to ban GMOs and stop ANY research done on them. This is the very first paragraph from the CGP’s page on GE organisms:

Genetically engineered (GE) organisms may pose a potentially serious threat to human health and the health of natural ecosystems. Many Canadians want to follow the example of the European Union and ban GE crops. At a minimum, GE products must be labeled, giving consumers the right to know and to say no to GE foods.

Paranoia and fear of GMOs and opposition to them won’t be of any use. GMOs are tested very thoroughly and have huge potential in reducing carbon emissions. Yet again, the stances held by Green parties are not so green.

Alternative Medicine

The GPUS supports alternative medicine:

Greens support a wide range of health care services, not just traditional medicine, which too often emphasizes “a medical arms race” that relies upon high-tech intervention, surgical techniques and costly pharmaceuticals. Chronic conditions are often best cured by alternative medicine. We support the teaching, funding and practice of holistic health approaches and, as appropriate, the use of complementary and alternative therapies such as herbal medicines, homeopathy, naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and other healing approaches.

Other Woo:

Stein’s infamous rambling about how WiFi can damage children’s minds as well as people having “questions about vaccines” and her claims that the agencies that work on insuring vaccines are safe and reliable are “influenced by pharmaceutical companies”  is the final straw in her scientific credibility.

To conclude:

Green parties and green politics support very noble causes in trying to counteract climate change and work towards protection and conservation. However, Green parties simply don’t follow the science when doing this.

Green parties are just simply not so green.

 

 

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What’s the Next Battle Against Pseudoscience on GMOs? 

By @TakeThatGMOs

  The ‘War on Science’ as it is called, is an endless ‘war’ that will last with us humans however ling we live. The main objectives, should they exist, can never be fully fulfilled. As Steven Novella puts it – and as some wars go – when it comes to the War on Science, the only focus should be on the next battle, and not the whole war, as this is one of the most unpredictable and unstable wars. When it comes to GMOs, what should that next battle be?

First up: politics

The current political battleground hangs mostly on labelling GMOs in the USA and the current delays in the EU. Things in either side are going very slowly. The anti-GMO movement certainly  hasn’t persuaded everyone to join in and label, and it appears that quite the opposite is happening, with celebrities like Jimmy Kimmel and many others using their fame, in a way, to help push for the pro-GMO side. The public is getting to hear more of the pro-GMO side and the pro-GMO side is louder than ever, as it showed during the March Against Myths (counter protesters against the March Against Monsanto) campaign. 

Another side here is the Republicans, who tend to be more pro-corporate and so may support GMOs more. This however may be shaken up with Bernie Sanders, who gets the case about labelling wrong. As I’ve discussed in a previous article, labelling GMOs is the wrong side to take here, and won’t be the most helpful choice. It is also important to remember that labelling is only the first step, and making labelling a federal mandate will only open up the doors for more action against GMOs. If GMOs do get down that very unlikely path, the end for biotech would be near. 

Which gets me to my point. Many, many scientific organisations, biotech companies (including drug manufacturers) and millions of people would stand against such a law. Monsanto would probably take it to the SCOTUS and scientific organisations would stand against such a thing in either way. Since GMOs are under no real threat right now, considering Obama’s very scientific agenda, we can try avoiding all of this by furthering science to the public. 

Most common myths

GMOs are practically enshrined in myths. So much information and, therefore, misinformation exists about GMOs. It is arguably the biggest pseudoscience topic, as I’ve argued before.

The existence of so many fronts to battle on and the lack of a public consensus as well as the education system being littered with such misinformation and the general image of ‘natural is better’ makes this a very tough battle. To summarise previous statements from this article, the consensus on vaccines and evolution is far, far bigger in the scientific community, and those denying evolution are the minority of the US population. Likewise, a big scientific consensus exists on vaccines and most of the population is vaccinated or is pro-vaccines. It is true that GMOs have a big scientific consensus, beating climate change and standing at 88%, however this is no good as the public has the worst scientific record on GMOs, with the pro-science side only being a major minority. 

  I always use this picture to demonstrate my points. I’m tired of doing that. 

To obviously win the battle on the public front (a very strategic front as it affects legislation as well) we need to go in one bit by another. We don’t have the huge majority of scientists that quickly come through and debunk creationism. We have a lot of scientists worrying about the GMOs, yet it’s just as much of a pseudoscience as creationism. To be fair the most concerns aren’t about safety but wrong information is wrong information. This is bad (obviously). To make problems worse, the GMOs campaign also (similarly to the vaccines and climate change campaigns) opens up to economics and ethics. Those things don’t make the issue here any easier. Evolution v creationism only focuses on science. That’s it. But the extent of the aspects affecting GMOs here is one of the reasons the pseudoscience on GMOs hasn’t been stopped. The above things mentioned makes this THE worst issue to deal with. 

To slowly and gradually win over public support, what’s the next battle that should be fought over GMOs? The scientific bit. That may, unhelpfully, sound a bit vague. Currently the debated health impacts and environmental impacts are what inspire people to join. These are the false ideas that make people passionate and want to spread their messege. Thankfully as well, more and more of the public knows not to fall for this and instead picks on Monsanto, ethics and economics (upcoming article). Getting people in the ‘pro-GMO; anti-Monsanto’ area is a great success on our part and can get us to be able to drive home the labelling question and solve the larger problem on the small, meaningless details. 

Here’s the thing, the issue over safety is not only the backbone of the anti-GMO movement but also it’s heart. Taking out that heart will kill the rest of the body. 

It is also the most useful battle as we’re already winning it. I see many people, for example in SciShow’s recent video about GMOs, accepting the facts over safety but jumping on the patents and contamination issues. In this way, the issue starts to move over from public VS GMOs and labelling to the public VS Monsanto, which has less to do with legislation and laws and science and GMOs and more to do with corporations and ethics. GMOs that are helpful would be widely accepted.

Maybe the end is in sight for the anti-GMO movement. 

Wait, what’s that ringing sound. Oh, Dr Mercola just published his latest article and people are already retweeting. Crap. 

Labelling GMOs, Yay or Nay?

By @TakeThatGMOs

  

It’s our right to know, right? For years, the anti-GMOs crowd has always stated that it’s their right (let alone what a right ACTUALLY means) to know what’s IN their food and have requested mandatory federal labelling on GM products. It has become mainstream and has reached many people, even some people who are pro-GMOs may support labelling.

The labeling question is a wide and diverse topic, with many opinions involved. It is therefore a very difficult question to tackle objectively.

Before we start, we must remember what things are put in a label. The first thing that pops to mind here is allergens. Allergens can and do present a serious threat to allergic people, and they must know what’s in their food to avoid any potential fatal reactions.

Ingredients and nutritional information are also available on every food label. Nutritional information is there to provide a more guided approach to healthy eating and make sure everything is eaten in moderation. Ingredients are there so as not to cloud the food in a ‘mystery’ and make the operation more controlled.

Other things that are sometimes included in the label are country of origin and of course, expiration and production. Different things might be there, but that depends on the food and the producer as well as the country.

Yay Labelling?

Let’s start with the pro-labelling side. The most common claim here is that it is ‘our right to know’ what’s in our foods. After all, if we’re trying to avoid GMOs, shouldn’t we have a clear label? Another argument that fits in here is, “If GMOs are so good, why don’t we label them, like we do with natural and organic?’

The arguments pro-labelling practically follow similar paths and are relatively similar to the ones presented above.

Nay Labelling?

The anti-labelling side has more arguments in this regard. The first argument here is that labelling GMOs is useless and futile, as GMOs have been ‘proven safe’. This argument extends to arguments about safety so it’s a bit of a complex one. Another argument is that labelling GMOs would demonize them. This is something of a counter-argument to the ‘if they’re so good, why not label them?’ argument. This argument points out that only harmful things would be clearly and mandatorily labelled, like allergens. And there’s the argument about the cost and time it would take to label things considered GE and not. This also raises the question on what to even carry such label – do animals fed with GMOs require their meat or milk to be labeled too? What about different types of GM?  

Finally, many people have raised the fact that things that don’t have GMOs are almost always labelled. Either as “organic” or through the Non-GMO Project or other 3rd party labelling groups. This gives those avoiding GMOs a wide range of labelled food that doesn’t contain GMOs.

Dissecting The Arguments 

The first argument, regarding ‘our right to know’, is one that is echoed a lot. But claiming that it is our right know raises some questions. Is it, for example, my right to know the religion of the farmer? Such information would be useless, as GMOs have been proven safe. Avoiding GMOs for any other reason is just silly and naïve. GMOs are found in practically everything, should we label every food? What about the quantity? Should we label animals who have eaten GMOs? The questions raised due to the ambiguity are far too many and overwhelming to address here, but you get the point.

One must also remember that USDA organic allows 5% of the product to be GM, and that certainly affects the labelling question. 

The second argument here is one that is directly against, “If GMOs are good, why label them?”. The argument goes, that if GMOs are so good, why not voluntarily label them, like the sought-after organic or “natural” labels (however shady they may be). In this case, @guidoV4 (go follow him, he tweets about GMOs and biotech too. He also has a ton of hashtags in his bio) points out that “natural” or organic labels are voluntary, and any company can practically put the label “natural” on their food. Mandatory labelling, like the one that activists seek, is put there to warn of danger, as in allergens or nutritional content. It wouldn’t be mandatory otherwise. 

@TkThtEtymology suggests labelling them in a way presents them as good. Good idea, but does it stand?

The public also heavily misunderstands GMOs. In a Pew survey, the gap between scientists and the public was the highest when it came to GMOs.  

This clearly shows that labelling, wether intended to promote or to warn of GMOs, will have the same effect. It will demonize GMOs and scare the public. And that may kill a technology so youthful with so much potential.

The Cost of Labelling. 

The cost of labelling is a big chunk of the debate. The cost doesn’t just rest on printing and gluing, but also on segregating the foods, testing, certifying and many, many other things.

Jane Palmer has a good article on this. The well-researched article concludes that mandatory labelling can cost 100s of millions of dollars, severely increasing prices both on the customer, the company, the farmer, the State and the food producer. 

First of all, higher prices would decrease customer demand. Foods containing GMOs are found everywhere. About 60% of the market contains some form of GMOs. The price of labelling would also turn companies away from GE, further increasing the oligopoly. Food making companies would also turn away from GMOs due to increased costs, therefore labelling would signal the end for GMOs.

Why Just GMOs?                                                    

If labelling is about our ‘right’, why stop at GMOs, one of the safest and most controlled biotechnologies. Why not the arguably more dangerous mutagensis?  Or the tons of other breeding methods? How does knowing the breeding methods help you lead a healthy life, since all are very safe and very effective?

  
 Conclusion 

Labelling is, and will remain, one of the biggest issues when it comes to GMOs. Both sides are extremely passionate about their opinion and go long distances to support their point. 

This article here provided an analysis of and gave an extra voice to the labelling debate. 

At the end of the day, labelling GMOs in the US is a far fetched goal, one that may never happen. Research into labelling (some going to the government) has shown that it’s expensive and does nothing but put a huge burden on GMOs, where the burdens are already too heavy. Keep in mind also resolution HR1599, or hilariously dubbed the ‘DARK’ Act may just prevent that. 

Labelling might be far-fetched, but always remains a possibility. This time, however, the extra weight may just cut off the life monitor. Is labelling worth it?