GMOs To Go?

Germany.jpgI recently wrote an article, GMO Labeling: The Obvious Libertarian Solution. The gist of my article was that using voluntary GMO labeling as a marketing tool to give people what they want is a great libertarian solution that neither forces nor prevents private industry from communicating with its customers.

I also noted that I have long tried to determine if GMOs were bad for us and haven’t really been able to figure it out. I don’t know if they create some genetic problem for the consumer that we’ll be decades in discovering, if eating plants with high tolerances for insecticides and herbicides will poison us, or if GMO seed will crowd out heritage seed so no one could ever live off the grid…I just don’t know the answers!

There is so much noise in the discussion, the answers are hard to come by. Every argument seems to have a counter-argument on both sides. Often I’m urged to defer to the fact that many countries have banned GMOs, but I dismissed that argument when I discovered that most GMO patents, if not all, are American–maybe other countries banning them is just a clever form of trade barrier. So when I saw this blurb at the top of the Journal this morning:

Monsanto agreed to sell itself to Germany’s Bayer in a $57 billion deal that would create an agricultural giant and end the independence of one of the most successful firms in the US

I thought it would be an opportunity to test my trade barrier theory. I wrote along the margin (as I am known to do–to my husband’s continued annoyance!):

watch GMO bans end in Europe, maybe rise here….

The Monsanto snippet is the first blurb in the blurb column on the front page of the The Wall Street Journal…as I scanned the rest of the page, I saw this headline:

Farmers Reconsider GMO Revolution

I kid you not. First thing I thought when I saw Monsanto would no longer be a US company but a German one was that the US defense of GMOs and European attack on them would reverse, and there on that very page is an article saying US farmers are ending their love affair with GMOs.

Of course if the Journal was working on this article anyway, it would make sense to put it in the paper the day Monsanto announces it’s selling itself (the online headline for the same article connects the dots: Behind the Monsanto Deal, Doubts About the GMO Revolution Farmers are reconsidering the use of biotech seeds as it becomes harder to justify their high prices amid the measly returns of the current farm economy)–and perhaps Monsanto is selling because it sees the end of GMO profits coming soon, but that won’t affect European laws if they are truly designed to protect health and not to protect industry.

This is just one of those moments I like to flag and  stay aware of, curious to see if over the next several years the anti-GMO movement gains ground in the US (perhaps paving the way for some new substitute product) and loses ground in Europe.

Sometimes the only proof we have is the pudding!

What’s at the bottom of the rabbit hole? The Report from Iron Mountain. Podcast of June 7, 2014 Show

Hour 1

Hour 2

Hour 3

This is a must read, full stop: The Report from Iron Mountain. (See also, “another update” below.)

Read moreWhat’s at the bottom of the rabbit hole? The Report from Iron Mountain. Podcast of June 7, 2014 Show

What's at the bottom of the rabbit hole? The Report from Iron Mountain. Podcast of June 7, 2014 Show

Hour 1

Hour 2

Hour 3

This is a must read, full stop: The Report from Iron Mountain. (See also, “another update” below.)

Read moreWhat's at the bottom of the rabbit hole? The Report from Iron Mountain. Podcast of June 7, 2014 Show

Of Cheerios & GMOs: January 12 Podcast

Hour 1
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Here is the study of studies I referred to on the show.

Here is a widely criticized study that claims GMOs grow tumors on rats.

Here is Percy Schmeiser’s story.

Here is Monsanto’s defense to Percy Schmeiser.

Here is the Supreme Court case that ruled in Monsanto’s favor.

Here is the sordid tale of Rumsfeld, Monsanto & NutraSweet.

Here is the story of Epicyte’s spermicidal corn.

Here is the story of golden rice, a GMO miracle.

Here is a genetic science site I like affiliated with George Mason University.

Here is an article from reason magazine’s man on the case, Ronald Bailey.

Of Cheerios & GMOs: January 12 Podcast

Hour 1
Hour 2
Here is the study of studies I referred to on the show.
Here is a widely criticized study that claims GMOs grow tumors on rats.
Here is Percy Schmeiser’s story.
Here is Monsanto’s defense to Percy Schmeiser.
Here is the Supreme Court case that ruled in Monsanto’s favor.
Here is the sordid tale of Rumsfeld, Monsanto & NutraSweet.
Here is the story of Epicyte’s spermicidal corn.
Here is the story of golden rice, a GMO miracle.
Here is a genetic science site I like affiliated with George Mason University.
Here is an article from reason magazine’s man on the case, Ronald Bailey.

GMOs: Is the Jury In?

As per listener request, I am digging into the issue of GMOs on this week’s show but remain unconvinced GMOs have been proven harmful. That isn’t to say we should not avoid genetically modified food, I’m just looking for proof they’re bad for us. My guess is, we won’t know until an entire generation is raised on them, then of course, any potential damage will have been done and the methods entrenched.

There are real issues to address in the here and now, however. Specifically, the federal government should not be preparing to pass a law that would trump state laws and not allow states to handle this issue as they see fit. This would be the worst possible outcome for an issue for which the science is inconclusive or longitudinal studies of GMO consumers over a lifetime have not had time to be completed.

Here are a couple of studies I’ve found:

http://rt.com/news/monsanto-rats-tumor-france-531/ This is the french study that claims GMOs cause cancer in rats. This is a widely criticized study and the results will have to be duplicated before I will accept it. (Not that wide criticism scares me, but a second study is always called for anyway.)

Here is a study of studies that says no harm found: http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Nicolia-20131.pdf

I personally think big corporations like Monsanto and other Big Ag wouldn’t exist in a free market – that they trade favors with government to leverage its coercive power at our expense. Indeed it does appear that the labeling battle et al is being fought by both sides for economic interests without regard to broader concerns, so I’m not defending either side, but I would like to know if the science is conclusive, because so far it seems to me that it isn’t!

What do you think? Please let me know on facebook or twitter, right here in the comments section, or Sunday on the show (404-872-0750 or 800 WSB TALK).

The Story of Stuff: Propagandizing Your Children

Here is the insanely anti-capitalist and wildly inaccurate video designed for school children here and around the world:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GorqroigqM]
And here is a very engaging rebuttal:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5uJgG05xUY]
And here is a truly delightful video on the philosophy of liberty – a nice balm for the brain after watching The Story of Stuff!
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muHg86Mys7I]

Clark Howard, Hookers and Operation Fast & Furious: On & About This Week's Show

Clark Howard Stopped By the Studio!
What a great show! I was truly honored by a visit from WSB star, Clark Howard.  My hour with Clark was the most fun I’ve ever had on the radio.  If you missed it, you can check out show archives on wsbradio.com.  At first I thought Clark was annoyed that I was destroying the planet with incandescent light bulbs but really he was just giving me his!  He insists that the new light bulbs save money in year one and that they’re worth having for economic reasons alone.  I found that argument pretty persuasive.  And just for the record…It’s NOT that I want to destroy the planet,

Read moreClark Howard, Hookers and Operation Fast & Furious: On & About This Week's Show

Letter to the WSJ: It IS Too Easy Being Green, But Why?

There was an article this weekend in the Wall Street Journal called It’s Too Easy Being Green, by David Owen. Here’s the letter I wrote to the editor in response–maybe they’ll publish it, maybe they won’t, but in any case, I can share it here.
Dear Sir:
David Owen, in his article, It’s Too Easy Being Green, points out the paradox of trying to be green in a consumption-driven world and cites the ease and push to consume as the real problem. I agree with Mr. Owen that over-consumption is a problem (though my concern is more for the wasteful and rapid use of finite resources than fear of global warming.) In any case, Mr. Owen failed to cite the real reason driving and flying are so cheap, and why fuel itself is so affordable: government policy.
Governments build roads and airports socializing the cost of infrastructure and removing that part of the equation from end-user consumption decisions. By building ever-widening networks of highways, the government encourages developers to build further out of town and allows workers to make farther commutes; by building more airports, the government subsidizes airfare allowing businesses and families to budget for more travel. (Many believe private transportation infrastructure is impossible but all airports used to be private and before the Civil War there were over 400 private road companies in the U.S.)
Another way the government promotes energy use is by employing America’s military to ensure that Middle Eastern oil is in friendly hands. These costly adventures, while greatly increasing the ultimate tax burden on Americans overall, greatly reduces the cost of fuel to the individual consumer.
Finally, government itself is responsible for the low cost of polluting, having decided more than a century ago not to allow strict interpretation of property rights to interfere with pollutants spewed onto private property from factories.
We don’t need government solutions to government-driven problems–take government down to its true function of protecting people and their property and the market will limit consumption and pollution.
Sincerely,
Monica Perez