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HuckleB's Journal
HuckleB's Journal
March 31, 2015



“If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?”

Who doesn’t remember this ridiculous line from their childhood? The schoolyard taunt was directed at a whole array of things that one might be inclined to defend – best friends, the teacher, or your favorite color crayon. Normally, or hopefully, most people grow out of such childish taunts when they reach an adult age and start to mature.

Most people.

Apparently that isn’t necessarily true for anti-GMO activists and, unfortunately, one interviewer used such a taunt against a respected scientist while he was attempting to promote Golden Rice. The now infamous YouTube video shows a short clip of an interview with Dr. Patrick Moore, where he states that glyphosate does not cause cancer and that you could drink a quart of it without it hurting you. The interviewer then mocks Dr. Moore by offering him a glass of glyphosate to drink. Realizing the interview is a sham, Dr. Moore ends the interview and walks off camera.

The video clip launched the attack by anti-GMO activists of Dr. Moore and anyone supporting genetic modification – if glyphosate is so safe, then why don’t you drink it? Naturally, activists also alleged that Dr. Moore was a paid Monsanto lobbyist.



Reality hits the anti-GMO BSers, yet again.
March 30, 2015

Dr. Steven Novella on the Peer-Review Scandal



Of course, your mileage may vary. Not all peer-reviewed journals are as rigorous. Also, whenever there is any system in place to separate the wheat from the chaff, someone will try to game the system for their own advantage. There also needs to be some monitoring or policing in place to ensure the integrity of the system.

Scientific fraud is a terrible thing. The institution of science requires complete transparency, and fraud violates transparency and reduces confidence in the whole system. Peer-review fraud is not as bad as fabricating data (the ultimate scientific sin) but it’s bad.


I am not trying to point the finger at one culprit, but rather just pointing out that ethical problems in science are not evenly distributed. This provides an opportunity to examine the institutional and cultural factors that may contribute to scientific misconduct. I agree with Patel that we should not overstate the significance of clumping in China or pretend the problem does not exist elsewhere, but neither should we ignore it. It’s data.


This latest scandal will hopefully provoke another round of self-reflection among scientific journals and improve quality control. Quality control is an endless game, and there will always be problems like this. At least the peer-reviewed literature has the power of retraction, to purge itself of fraud or poor quality when it comes to light."


A thoughtful response regarding the situation.

March 30, 2015



"Dear friends and supporters,
I have been a dedicated environmentalist and ecologist for 45 years, beginning my career as a co-founder of Greenpeace. Since leaving Greenpeace almost 30 years ago I have operated as an independent voice on climate change, energy, forestry, agriculture, and in particular today on Golden Rice.

Because Golden Rice was produced with transgenic techniques I have been drawn into the entire controversy around GMOs. It is my position that of all the scientifically baseless campaigns, anti-vaccination for example, the campaign against the use of genetic science in agriculture is the most baseless of all. I have tried to stay focused on Golden Rice because it is the first GM plant to address a humanitarian need, the death of up to 2 million children each year from vitamin A deficiency.

I have always based my positions on science and logic, as opposed to sensationalism, misinformation, and fear. My high profile and ability to highlight anti-scientific statements and agendas by activists has greatly annoyed my opponents and has made me a target for fabricated smears and attempts to discredit me personally with lies. The lie that I am a lobbyist for Monsanto, for example.


I conduct hundreds of live interviews each year and this is not the first time I have made a mistake under the pressure of a live interview and probably won’t be the last. Only those who put themselves in this situation would understand how difficult it is to do a live interview with a hostile host.



Just an FYI. One must always wait for the full story. We don't have that yet. Even I admit that. However, this guy appears to be far more honest than the propaganda aimed at him, which was spread repeatedly at DU.

That's my take, considering his long history.

March 24, 2015

The Dose Makes The Poison.


"Paracelsus was a 16th century Swiss German physician, alchemist, astrologer who found the discipline of toxicology. He came up with this basic principle of toxicology: The dose makes the poison.

“All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison.”

So many of us misunderstand basic chemistry and what ‘toxic’ really means. I can relate. Chemistry was my WORST subject in high school. Most of what I have learned (and since become interested in) has been cultivated through my PhD studies and in projects since then.

Toxicity is an indicator of how poisonous a substance is to a biological entity. Any chemical can be toxic if absorbed or consumed in large enough amounts. Chemistry is all around us and we are all comprised of chemicals (matter). Some chemicals are man made others occur naturally: in our bodies, manufactured in plants, in our food and in the air we breathe. In fact, there are more naturally occurring chemicals than man-made ones. Chemical reactions and interactions in our bodies occur all the time.



Somehow this gets lost, along with many other non-hyperbolic matters, far too often at DU. I hope, for the sake of us all, that that starts to change.

March 22, 2015

The League of Nerds Podcast: Are Scientists Shills?


In case anyone is interested...

March 21, 2015

I gave my child autism, by Juniper Russo.


"It wasn’t because of vaccines. It wasn’t because of tuna. It wasn’t because of formula. It wasn’t because of Tylenol, ultrasounds, antidepressants, Pitocin, tobacco, television, or pesticides.

How do I know? Because she wasn’t exposed to any of these things when she was first diagnosed with developmental delays.


“Maybe,” she said, pursing her lips carefully and jotting something down in her notebook, “You might want to consider getting yourself an evaluation. Most autistic people of your generation weren’t diagnosed, especially if they were verbal.”


But it wasn’t because of something I did wrong. It wasn’t because of her shots, or her environment, or my parenting. It was because of the little chains of carbon inside all of our bloodstreams, the chromosomes my kids inherited from me and only me. It was because we have a very special family, and it’s full of brain problems and love.



A beautifully written, and very powerful piece.

March 21, 2015

Environmental Defense Fund: Letís focus on a farmís performance, not its size



It’s a myth that large farms can’t be sustainable, just as it’s a myth that all family farms are small and better for the environment.

Take Christine Hamilton, for example, whose family farm produces corn, soybeans, winter wheat and cattle across 14,000 acres in South Dakota. For years she’s been participating in USDA conservation programs, using no-till practices, planting trees to limit erosion, and utilizing variable rate technologies to improve the environment and her yields.

There are also places like Fair Oaks Farms, which milks over 500 cows … an hour. To make their large operation more sustainable, Fair Oaks pumps methane from its livestock to an on-site natural gas station that compresses it into fuel for the farm’s fleet of 40 milk trucks.


It’s time we shift the public debate and get everyone on board the sustainability train. Arguing about a farm’s size won’t deliver environmental benefits. In the end, it’s all about performance."


A good piece that works to get to the heart of what matters, instead of the marketing hyperbole that pushes fear aimed at increasing profits for one sector over another.

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