Extraordinary claims… require extraordinary evidence.

Within the past few weeks, a letter written by a Dr. Don Huber to Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack has been making the rounds on the ‘net. The letter was allegedly given to the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, and they claim to have confirmed that it was written by Dr. Huber. You can find the full text of the letter on the FRFA site with the ominous title Researcher: Roundup or Roundup-Ready Crops May Be Causing Animal Miscarriages and Infertility.

The story has been picked up by many bloggers, including Jill Richardson, and even made an appearance on Reuters. I haven’t seen any posts dedicated to a critical analysis of the letter, instead there is a rush to assume that it is correct, despite the lack of citations or other evidence provided for the extraordinary claims in the letter. The story is often accompanied with horrific pictures of dead fetal calves and the words “Emergency!” and “Danger! ” Are we really all in danger? The claims in the letter bring to mind Carl Sagan’s famous statement: “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Let’s investigate the claims and determine whether enough evidence is provided.

“This organism appears NEW to science!”

In the letter, Dr. Huber claims that there is a never-before-seen pathogen that is caused by or exacerbated by either glyphosate containing Roundup herbicide or the widely used glyphosate resistance gene. The letter opens:

A team of senior plant and animal scientists have recently brought to my attention the discovery of an electron microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings. Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn—suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup. This organism appears NEW to science!

Right here in the first paragraph is Extraordinary Claim #1. Dr. Huber is claiming that a single pathogen can “significantly impact” the health of corn, soy, and animals. Not impossible, but extraordinary evidence is required to back up the claim because known pathogens are generally very host specific, whether they are bacteria, virus, fungus, or parasite. A corn pathogen will not infect soy. A human pathogen will not infect cows. In cases where a single pathogen will affect multiple species, it affects groups of very similar species, not corn and cows.

What evidence does Dr. Huber provide for this extraordinary claim? None, actually. Just more extraordinary claims that seem to get more and more extraordinary with each paragraph.

Extraordinary Claim #2 is that the “organism is only visible under an electron microscope (36,000X), with an approximate size range equal to a medium size virus. It is able to reproduce and appears to be a micro-fungal-like organism. If so, it would be the first such micro-fungus ever identified.” He leaves us with far more questions than answers. What characteristics, exactly, cause him to compare this claimed pathogen to a fungus? How could it be possible to have a fungus so small? Where are the pictures? How big is the claimed organism and what does it look like? What is the evidence that it is reproducing? What other tests have been done to confirm its existence?

Fungi and viruses – not at all similar

Fungi have some special characteristics that make them easily identifiable. First, fungi are eukaryotes, meaning that they have complex cells with structures enclosed in membranes called organelles, along with plants and animals, but unlike bacteria which lack organelles. Eukaryotic cells range between roughly 10 and 100 micrometers (μm) long. Second, fungi have some characteristics that make them unique compared to other eukaryotes. Like plants, they have cell walls but unlike plants, those cell walls contain chitin instead of cellulose. At minimum, if we want to call something a fungus, it needs to have organelles like other eukaryotes and needs to have those unique cell walls.

Eukaryotic cells are many times larger than viruses. “Scanning electron micrograph of the surface of a mouse cell infected with murine leukemia virus. A large number of virus particles are shown in the process of budding.” By R. MacLeod via The Free Dictionary.

Viruses are completely unlike eukaryotes or bacteria. They have a wide range of shapes but all look quite different from eukaryotic or bacterial cells. Viruses are little more than some nucleic acid surrounded by a protein coat, allowing them to be much smaller than cells, at a range of roughly 0.01 to 0.1 micrometers (μm). Even the largest virus is much smaller than the smallest eukaryotic cell. In fact, viruses are smaller than the any of the organelles inside a eukaryotic cell.

Saying that something is a “micro-fungal-like organism” as small as a virus just doesn’t make any sense. Of course, there’s been other strange things discovered, things that defied existing biological knowledge. Maybe this thing is from space, transported on meteorites. Who knows!? If it is true, then Dr. Huber and colleagues would undoubtedly be lauded for their amazing discovery. But this extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence and Dr. Huber provides none.

Electron microscopy – it’s not easy

When I worked for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in Beltsville, MD as an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to use an electron microscope to look for viruses in plant tissue samples. Our goal was to identify plant pathogens before plant material got shipped all over the country. The normal procedure was to wait a pre-determined period of time to see if a plant would show symptoms, but if we could ID viruses before symptoms showed we could save a lot of time. Unfortunately, the technique didn’t pan out, at least while I was working there, because the experts weren’t able to find a technique that allowed them to accurately ID viruses with electron microscopy.

Series of images of a snowflake taken by USDA researchers. Click the pic for larger images.

Electron microscopy is very touchy, with many things that could go wrong. Strange artifacts or errors in the images can be introduced by the processing a sample must undergo before viewing, by less than perfect use of the instrument, and by the instrument itself. Consider this series of images of a single snowflake taken at increasing magnification with an electron microscope. As the magnification goes up, the likelihood that meaning could be ascribed to a random bump also goes up.

Paul Vincelli, Professor of Plant Pathology at
University of Kentucky and member of the American Phytopathological Society (APS), has expertise in plant pathogens including viruses and fungi. He has commented on the post Scientists warn of link between dangerous new pathogen and Monsanto’s Roundup by Rady Arnada indicating that he has seen the claimed “micro fungus” research himself. He said he has spoken with another researcher that has seen the electron micrographs, who concluded that the supposed “micro fungus” is actually just artifacts and that “detailed molecular data were needed before concluding that the structures observed were actually organismal.” Hopefully Dr. Huber plans to relase the images soon so additional experts can examine them. You have to wonder why the images haven’t already been released.

Pathogen presence

Extraordinary Claim #3 is that the claimed pathogen “is found in high concentrations in Roundup Ready soybean meal and corn, distillers meal, fermentation feed products, pig stomach contents, and pig and cattle placentas.” Why is this extraordinary? There is no control information provided.

We need to know what are the relative concentrations of the claimed pathogen in corn and soy plants grown in identical conditions, preferably in multiple environments of the following categories so we can isolate the effects of the Roundup Ready gene and of Roundup:

  1. Roundup Ready plants that are treated with Roundup
  2. Roundup Ready plants that are weeded by hand or other non-chemical method
  3. non-Roundup Ready plants that are genetically similar to the Roundup Ready plants that are weeded by hand or other non-chemical method (negative control)

Without these comparisons, saying “high concentrations” is meaningless. We also need to know the relative concentration of the claimed pathogen in animals fed these different plant samples under strictly controlled conditions. We also need to know how the presence of the claimed pathogen was determined and whether it was confirmed with any additional tests, such as nucleic acid or protein analysis.

Similarly, the claim that the “organism is prolific in plants infected with … sudden death syndrome (SDS) in soy, and Goss’ wilt in corn” also requires comparison to uninfected plants with and without Roundup and the RR gene. Dr. Huber continues: “The pathogen is also found in the fungal causative agent of SDS (Fusarium solani fsp glycines).” Found in? As in inside the cells? How do you know? Again, where are the pictures?

Cattle, swine, and horses (oh, my)

French dairy cows. Are these ladies luckier with their calves than American cows? Image by Meg Hourihan via Flickr.

Extraordinary Claim #4 is that there has been “escalating frequency of infertility and spontaneous abortions over the past few years in US cattle, dairy, swine, and horse operations. These include recent reports of infertility rates in dairy heifers of over 20%, and spontaneous abortions in cattle as high as 45%.” For comparison, the expected rate of spontaneous abortion in dairy cattle is about 2-5%, according to Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Abortions in Dairy Cattle and West Virginia University Extension’s Abortion in Dairy Cows and Heifers, and the expected successful insemination rate is 50% or higher with proper technique.

Don’t you think that if the rate of spontaneous abortion in livestock was skyrocketing that we’d have heard about it earlier? We’d see a huge spike in the cost of meat and dairy if farmers had to artificially inseminate their sows and cows an increased number of times to succeed in a pregnancy and if a high rate of those pregnancies resulted in late spontaneous abortions. What about the relative rates of AI success and spontaneous abortions in countries that use glyphosate and RR crops vs those that don’t? Shouldn’t we see major differences?

Dr. Huber claims that the “micro-fungus” has been detected “in a wide variety of livestock that have experienced spontaneous abortions and infertility. Preliminary results from ongoing research have also been able to reproduce abortions in a clinical setting.” How was the claimed pathogen detected? With “laboratory tests”, of course! Unfortunately, zero explanation is provided of what these tests are, how or where they were conducted, etc.

Anecdotes aren’t sufficient evidence to justify policy changes

We are provided with an anecdote: “450 of 1,000 pregnant heifers fed wheatlege experienced spontaneous abortions. Over the same period, another 1,000 heifers from the same herd that were raised on hay had no abortions. High concentrations of the pathogen were confirmed on the wheatlege, which likely had been under weed management using glyphosate.”

Likely? This single word causes me to seriously doubt that a scientist wrote this letter. This anecdote is clearly not a scientific study because there are no controls and there is no confirmation of whether the feed did or did not have Roundup residues or the mysterious claimed pathogen present. To make conclusions based on a single situation we don’t even have details on is irresponsible at best. It is even more irresponsible to call for changes in national policy based on an anecdote.

Let’s consider this anecdote more closely. Glyphosate has been used as a herbicide since the 1970s. The amount of glyphosate use has increased with glyphosate resistant crops, and the amount of other herbicides used has decreased, at least until glyphosate overuse caused weeds to develop resistance (but that’s another story). As the use of Roundup and other glyphosate products has been increasing steadily, and crops that have been grown in fields that were treated with glyphosate have been being fed to livestock more and more over the years. If there is a link between glyphosate use and the rate of spontaneous abortions in livestock, then we should see a linear correlation between the two. In other words, the spontaneous abortion rate should be steadily increasing as glyphosate use has steadily increased.

Now let’s look at the two types of feed. Dr. Huber claims that 0% of heifers fed hay had abortions while 45% of heifers fed wheatlage (not wheatlege) had abortions. The wheat may or may not have been “under weed management using glyphosate”. Since there are zero genetically engineered varieties of wheat (Roundup Ready or otherwise) we know that the wheat itself was not sprayed with glyphosate because without the resistance gene it would die. Instead, glyphosate may have been used before the wheat was planted or along the edges of the field. EDIT: Wheat is often sprayed with glyphosate after the growing season to help it dry before harvest as well as to kill weed before harvest. Is this enough glyphosate to cause spontaneous abortions? If it was, then there would be a lot more abortions in livestock.

Can we think of anything else that may have caused the claimed abortion rates? Yes. Going back to the extension documents Abortions in Dairy Cattle and Abortion in Dairy Cows and Heifers, we learn that there are multiple causes for increased number of spontaneous abortions in cattle, including undiagnosed genetic abnormalities, heat stress and infection by certain types of viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Feed contamination with a variety of types fungi that produce toxins can also cause abortions in cattle, especially when the cattle are otherwise immunocompromised by things like stress or disease.

This anecdote can be easily tested by having two groups of randomly selected cattle fed feeds that are identical and grown under identical conditions except one has been under weed management with glyphosate and the other was weeded by hand or other non-chemical means.

Who is Don Huber?

We need to examine Dr. Huber’s experience and positions so we can determine whether he has relevant expertise to be discussing both the extraordinary claims made in this letter and his more reasonable claims that glyphosate could have an effect on mineral uptake and disease resistance. Unfortunately, the letter doesn’t lend him much credibility, assuming that he did indeed write it.

The letter is signed “COL (Ret.) Don M. Huber, Emeritus Professor, Purdue University, APS Coordinator, USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System (NPDRS)”. Dr. Huber retired in 2006 or 2007. He is listed as a faculty/staff member at Purdue but I wasn’t able to find a bio or CV page on the Purdue website (or indeed a bio or CV elsewhere, either, but that may be due to of all the blog posts re-posting the letter that may be pushing other results back more pages than I’m willing to sort through).

The NPDRS is a program called for in Homeland Security Presidential Directive Number 9 in 2004 “to ensure that the tools, infrastructure, communication networks, and capacity required to mitigate the impact of high consequence plant disease outbreaks are such that a reasonable level of crop production is maintained in the US.” It was “a cooperative effort of university, industry, and government scientists sponsored by The American Phytopathological Society (APS) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).”

As far as I can tell, the last activity of NPDRS was in 2008, and their list of recommendations on the USDA page is a broken link (the correct link is here). Dr. Huber completed work on late wilt of corn for NPDRS and was the chair for that project, but is not listed as the coordinator of NPDRS and I could find no mention of him being the coordinator of the APS side of the partnership. Instead, Kent Smith, a USDA employe, is listed as the contact person for NPDRS. Don Huber is not listed as an employee of the USDA at this time.

Dr. Huber is a member of the Emerging Diseases and Pathogens Committee of the American Phytopathological Society (APS). He served as President of the APS North Central Division in 1988, and has served on other APS committees throughout the years, but does not currently hold any leadership positions with APS that I was able to find.

What work has Dr. Huber done?

Photo of Dr. Huber from a 2010 article in No-Till Magazine.

A search on PubMed for DM Huber results in 11 papers (one of which is not this DM Huber), including these two most recent listings:

  1. Thompson IA, Huber DM, Schulze DG. Evidence of a Multicopper Oxidase in Mn Oxidation by Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici. Phytopathology. 2006 Feb;96(2):130-6. PMID: 18943915
  2. Thompson IA, Huber DM, Guest CA, Schulze DG. Fungal manganese oxidation in a reduced soil. Environ Microbiol. 2005 Sep;7(9):1480-7. PMID: 16104870

I don’t know why PubMed has such paltry results. Web of Science provides 115 results for DM Huber in the Life Science category. None of the papers have any mention of a “micro fungus”. The two most recent are probably the most meaningful for this discussion. Each has been cited 9 times (mostly by the authors themselves).

  1. Zobiole LHS, de Oliveira RS, Huber DM, et al. Glyphosate reduces shoot concentrations of mineral nutrients in glyphosate-resistant soybeans. Plant and Soil. 2010 Mar;328(1-2):57-69.
  2. Johal GS, Huber DM. Glyphosate effects on diseases of plants. European Journal of Agronomy. 2009 Oct;31(3 SI):144-152.

Long story short, assuming that at least half of the 115 papers in Web of Science are actually this DM Huber (at least some belong to a DM Huber at the University of Cincinnati), we can say that he is a well published scientist that has published relevant subject matter in some fairly reputable journals for his field, including Phytopathology as recently as 2007 which has an impact factor of 2.2 (out of 5) according to Journal Citation Reports (not great, but not bad, either). Dr. Huber appears to have relevant and recent expertise on the subject of the effects of glyphosate on mineral uptake and disease resistance.

Next steps for “micro fungus”

The claimed “micro fungus” may indeed be a never before seen pathogen, perhaps a virus. At this time, however, there is not enough evidence to require action. More data needs to be collected in well designed experiments that needs to then be subjected to peer review.

Peer review is the “checks and balances” of science. A team of researchers writes up a report of their experimental design and results and submits it to a journal. Before it is published, it is reviewed by a team of scientists who evaluate whether the experimental design is sound, whether the conclusions are supported by the data, whether the statistics were done properly, and so on. Peer review isn’t perfect for multiple reasons, but as of now it is the best form of quality control for scientific research that we have. For a very good discussion of what peer review means to scientists, see Does peer review mean the same to the public as it does to scientists? This is just one part of an excellent discussion of peer review in Nature that should be required reading for every scientist as well as anyone even slightly interested in what scientists do and how to interpret science: Nature’s peer review debate.

Getting a paper through the peer review process is a necessary part of science validation, in part because of its rigid requirements that go above and beyond what one might put in a letter or a blog post. For one scientist’s first person experiences with peer review, see From blog to Science (thanks to Mary M. for the referral). Avoidance of the peer review system indicates that a researcher knows that their work won’t pass muster.

It is through the peer review process that extraordinary claims can begin to accumulate enough evidence to become accepted. There are plenty of examples of researchers who had extraordinary, some would say impossible, claims that have been proven to be true. Here are two of my favorite examples:

Susan Lolle claimed to find some examples of non-Mendelian inheritance in the plants she was studying. It looked like the seeds were “remembering” what type of environment their parents were in, which seems impossible! Other scientists tore her papers up, and pretty much openly laughed at her. She persevered, kept doing more very well designed experiments, and eventually convinced other scientists she had something. Now we understand that epigenetics is a way that DNA can “remember” environmental conditions. It’s a very exciting and still very strange new field of genetics.

Stanley Prusiner claimed to have isolated the cause of mad cow disease, claiming it was a protein that was misfolded that caused other proteins to also misfold. Like Lolle, Prusiner sounded crazy. How could this be possible? Through perseverance and hard scientific evidence, Prusiner proved that he was right and eventually won the Nobel Prize in medicine.

Any scientist who thinks they’ve find something extraordinary can either give up or persevere. If I found something that was unexpected in a preliminary experiment, I’d redo it first. If the same thing resulted, I’d talk to statisticians and experts in the field, make sure my experimental design was top notch. If I still got the strange result then I’d find a well respected scientist in the same field and ask their lab to redo the experiment or at least part of it to make sure it wasn’t just my lab coming up with the weird results. If it then was still happening, it’d be time to publish an impressive paper in Nature or Science with my well respected colleague as a co-author.

Not following this sort of path is a major shortcoming for a lot of scientists who have found unusual things. For whatever reason, there seem to be a lot of examples of scientists finding results about genetic engineering that go against established science that don’t bother going past that initial finding. The example that first comes to mind is Arpad Pusztai. Why didn’t he work on much better experimental designs before going to publish? Why didn’t he talk to some experts in plant studies so he could have had the proper controls? He took his preliminary results from some poorly designed studies and then ran with it and now people wonder why his work isn’t taken seriously. If Dr. Huber wants to be taken seriously with his “micro fungus” claims then he needs to emulate Lolle and Prusiner, not Pusztai.

Conclusions

This letter makes very little sense both in its sheer existence and in its details. Why would a reasonably well published scientist suddenly throw away everything we know about the scientific method to make claims about biologically impossible organisms with no evidence? Why is so little evidence presented and why is the evidence that is presented given as anecdotes instead of hard science? Most importantly, why would he make claims without going through the peer review process to ensure that his claims would be at least vetted by his peers?

Multiple sites have claimed to have spoken with Dr. Huber to confirm that he did indeed write this letter, but I remain skeptical that an experienced scientist would have released something so unscientific. Someone with as much experience as Dr. Huber should know that his fellow scientists (as well as government agencies) would require at least some proof before acting on extraordinary claims. Fred Gerendasy at Cooking Up a Story, wonders if the letter is a fraud. Perhaps the letter is real and he knew that no one with any knowledge of biology would accept the claims, but also knew that many non-scientists would latch on to claims that confirmed their own biases without question.

Dr. Huber’s colleagues at Purdue have responded to his claims about glyphosate use and crop mineral uptake (which I describe in Does glyphosate restrict crop mineral uptake?), but they are conspicuously silent on the “micro fungus”. The absence of analysis of the “micro fungus” claims tells me that his colleagues are politely ignoring this bizarre outburst. I would have done so as well, if it wasn’t for the prolific repetition of the claims on blogs and even news sites. It’s long past time for us to apply the Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science to Dr. Huber’s claims. Hopefully this post will give some balance to the discussion.

Anastasia is a Board Member of Biology Fortified, Inc. and the Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog. She has a PhD in genetics with a minor in sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University. Her favorite produce is artichokes! Learn more about Anastasia at about.me. Disclaimer: Anastasia's words are her own and views expressed do not necessarily represent the views of her employer(s). She is not paid to blog or conduct any social media activities. Any mention of a specific company or product does not indicate endorsement of that company or product.


Commentary, News, Science, Syndicated   ,  


Want to write for The Biofortified Blog? Click here to find out more!

247 comments to Extraordinary claims… require extraordinary evidence.

  • Thanks so much for the detailed assessment. I can point to this in discussions that I’m having–which are popping up like whack-a-mole, unfortunately.

    Can I offer a better graphical representation of the process of peer review though? Found this on RealClimate when I was looking into that story about the science bloggers getting sued: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/02/from-blog-to-science/

  • Tom Miller

    Thank you for articulating an evidential-based analysis of what passes for news these days. Your headline says it all, and it would benefit us all to link your headline to this apparent fraud, a la the “Santorum-Google” strategy.

    • I wouldn’t go so far as to call it fraud without learning more, but it certainly raises questions about academic integrity. For instance, why aren’t any of the researchers actually working on this phenomenon signed onto the letter? Does he have their permission to talk about their research? I know that when discussing preliminary research there is an understanding amongst scientists that you do not tell others about their research – that is pretty basic. I know that if someone I talked to at a conference in confidence about my research blabbed about “Hey this gene is on this chromosome and it works by doing this” I would be very angry. Whether you are talking about regular old genetics and mapping or grand claims about impending disasters from new pathogens, the ethics are the same.

      • Good point – if there are indeed other researchers working on this then Dr. Huber may have wrongly publicized the research without permission, because if they had given permission then they should be co-signatories of the letter.

  • Great post, Anastasia, I’m glad you added more about the importance of peer review, and more details about the relative sizes. Biofortified’s form of peer review works!

    I have seen to kinds of responses to this from anti-GE folks. The first is that Huber must be trusted because he is an experienced scientist. Galileo Galilei is a poster-scientist for someone who did not accept conventional wisdom and persevered in the face of attacks against his authority and person. However, later in life he refused to give credence to the idea that the moon caused the tides – he instead uncritically accepted the idea that the Earth sped up and slowed down when it rotated, thus making the oceans slosh around. He was completely wrong. The most experienced and knowledgeable scientist can make this kind of mistake when they do not do what is required to back up a factual claim with rigorous research. The difference between Galileo’s belief about the planets orbiting the sun and the moon not causing tides is evidence. Huber neither backed up his claim with evidence that made sense, nor was he involved in the research himself – so this is more hearsay than anything else.

    The second response I have seen, now from Jill Richardson at La Vida Locavore is that a scientific criticism of Hubers claims about Glyphosate and this ‘new’ possibly-artifactual pathogen is that it should be seen as part of a pattern of discrediting any scientist who dares to question the biotech industry:

    “What we need to remember here is that ANY time a scientist criticizes biotech, they get attacked. Whether or not their claims are true. In fact, I would say: the more credible the scientist and the claims, the bigger the attack.”

    The appropriate response, whether you are a scientist or not, is to ask whether the claims have been validated, peer reviewed, published, confirmed, etc. It already appears that there is significant doubt from other scientists who have seen the electron micrograph images that this is even something real. Jill Richardson should read about some examples of scientists that went to the media with extraordinary claims before validating their research. Start with Pons and Fleischmann.

    • What we need to remember here is that ANY time a scientist criticizes biotech, they get attacked. Whether or not their claims are true. In fact, I would say: the more credible the scientist and the claims, the bigger the attack.”

      Sounds unsurprisingly like peer review (Mary M’s linky illustrates this well) (other than the credibility bit, particularly of ideas)

  • Jonathan

    Thanks for the detailed critique Anastasia. I’ve seen this popping up in the usual place on the web this last week or so and simply muttered “bu!!$h!t” to myself. You have been much more methodical and sensible and ….of course….everything you say is absolutely correct.
    Hopefully this story will get bigger and bigger and get wider and wider coverage in the coming weeks. Some of the most vicious anti-GM people I know are intelligent people who are just completely ignorant of even the basics of science. The rest are the easily-scared, conspiracy-loving, ignorant-about-science masses. This Huber story is so obviously a complete fabrication that if it gets big enough it could bring down the anti-GM movement when it inevitably gets shown up for what it is.

    Well done you!

    Jonathan

    • I must say, though, that there is a danger in widely disseminating a critical analysis of a claim – it can have the unintended effect of making more people believe in the debunked claim than there were before. It should be disseminated amongst those who were disseminating the original claim, though certainly.

  • Jon

    Anastasia,

    Can you point me to some peer reviewed papers on the following topics:
    1. Testing for safety of human consumption
    2. Studies that examine overall chemical usage vs. other agricultural systems.
    3. Examination of yields vs. conventional breeding

    Thanks,
    Jon

    • Jon, I could provide you with isolated papers but as I described in this post, isolated papers don’t tell the whole story. The best you could do is find a few highly cited well respected papers on a given subject and look at their literature review sections which should summarize all of the previous research on the subject. Hopefully another commenter can assist on this – I must be off to grade papers. Apologies.

    • Jason

      Those are all good lines of inquiry, and I have done some looking there myself. However, for understanding the key issues in agriculture and food systems they miss the heart of the matter, which is actually energy.

      This looks to be a good start regarding energy and food systems: http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-02-28/food-getting-fossil-fuels-plate

  • Matt

    Don’t break your arms patting yourselves on the back too much. Debunking this is like debunking the rumors that were spread that food safety bill was going to ban seed saving and force farmers to use Monsanto seeds. Yes, a few bloggers and twitters jumped on it, but the majority of the advocacy community did due diligence and looked into the claims. I don’t see any of the major players jumping on the Huber bandwagon – not CFS, OSA, OTA, CU, etc – not a one. So yes, by all means, do as Jonathan says and use this as your flaming sword to bring down the GE-cautious movement (not sure all are anti, just not convinced). Much ado about nothing. But yes, well written post by Anastasia, don’t disagree on that. My understanding is that neither Dr. Huber nor anyone in the GE-cautious community put this in the press, that it was indeed a private letter to Vilsack, and if there is any conspiracy here it is that someone wants an easy target in order to attack credibility of an opponent.

    And as for extraordinary claims, I still think it’s extraordinary to claim that glyphosate is benign, as many on your side of the field continue to do. I’d call that an extraordinary definition of the word benign. While glyphosate may not be as bad as some of the other herbicides on soil health, calling it benign is like saying – “oh, it’s only prostate cancer, not pancreatic cancer. Prostate cancer is ‘relatively’ benign compared to pancreatic.” I’d call that an extraordinary use of the word benign. It remains a chemical that is far from benign; if it was it wouldn’t be worth a damn as an herbicide to kill plants, no?

    Nothing extra-ordinary about agrichemical marketers shaking the crap off of a diaper so they can call it a napkin.

    • The FARFA article indicates that they talked directly to Huber about it, so that does suggest that he gave permission for it to be put on the web. If not, I would expect him to have asked them to take it down. Furthermore, he also communicated with Rady at the Food Freedom blog, and with the folks at Food Safety News, which means that he knows that his letter is getting passed around and has given no indication that he did not want it in the press. I am trying to get in contact with him currently, in order to ask him some questions about it, but all indications are so far that he intended it to be publicized. If it was indeed a private letter then it should not have been sent to FARFA, at least without a statement saying not to distribute it whatsoever.

      And I guarantee that Jeffrey Smith will add this to his list of claims. So it is indeed important that this be put out there. It is also a chance for a little critical thinking, and though it is easier than other issues, many people still have a hard time at it.

      and if there is any conspiracy here it is that someone wants an easy target in order to attack credibility of an opponent.

      There is also something that you will not see from the ‘major players’ that you list. I predict that none of them will criticize Huber for this, because it will harm their ability to use him as a reference for other claims about glyphosate and GE crops. I seem to remember someone giving that research a glowing review here not too long ago. I notice that in your comment, although you said Anastasia’s post is well written, you avoid criticizing Huber as well. If he did indeed release it to the public, would you agree that he crossed the line? If you believe that criticizing Huber on this is at all likely to be part of a ‘conspiracy’ to attack his credibility, and if you are correct in that the ‘major players’ you listed have all examined his letter and rejected it, then you may also have a more likely conspiracy of silence on the part of these major players.

      I should think that given the agreed tendency of rumors to spread around the internet unabated, and how hard it is for truth-seeking organizations to fight those rumors even when everyone who has analyzed it carefully comes out with the same opinion, that they would all find each other as allies in combating misinformation – wherever it comes from. Including and especially when it is inconvenient for their “side.”

      When people speak of sides in this debate, I will refer to Treebeard, whom I have referred to for years – way back to when I interviewed Ignacio Chapela on the radio in Davis:

      I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side, if you understand me: nobody cares for the woods as I care for them, not even Elves nowadays.

    • Nobody claims roundup is benign to plants – just more benign than other herbicides to… everything else.

      Your cancer comparison isn’t really that great in this respect – both the types of cancer you mention are killers, and killers that cause huge amounts of suffering, elsewhere on the internet I think demands to utilize decomposing porcupines for various unsanitary actions would be warranted by this sort of comparison – glyphosate’s effects on the soil are nowhere near this sort of level of activity (I’d guess that very few herbicides are) perhaps a more apt comparison would be between the common cold and pneumonia, the common cold can suck for a bit, but not so much as pneumonia (frankly I don’t even know that this comparison holds much water, particularly if looking at soil health, as the literature doesn’t really support a huge negative impact of glyphosate use on the soil)

    • I don’t know who’s doing any patting. As far as I’m concerned it would be lovely if this “micro fungus” goofiness just went away. As I mentioned at the end of this post, I’d much rather focus on the far more interesting claims Huber is making about glyphosate’s effects on mineral uptake and plant disease, which I take on in my next post. But judging by the number of repetitions of this letter that I found while researching this post, there are a lot of people taking this letter at its face value. Perhaps it doesn’t matter if a small chunk of “netizens” accept that there is a virus sized fungus that defies biology but it concerns me that so many people have the seeming inability to think critically and look at an encyclopedia for what viruses and fungus are.

      As for glyphosate, in part I agree and I believe I’ve said as much to you before. While glyphosate is relatively benign compared to other herbicides, using non-chemical control methods are preferable, in my opinion, for a variety of reasons including reducing rate of resistance development and reducing input cost. That doesn’t mean I think glyphosate is evil or whatever, just in general I think US farmers are a bit too chemical oriented.

      • mycosys

        You know you don’t mean that Anastasia – it would be mind bogglingly exciting if an entire new phylum of life were actually discovered, if it were more than rumour, conjecture and some artifacts on plates. Its the kind of thing that is so fantastic you kind of WANT it to be true, just for the possibilities. LIFE, actual proper self replicating LIFE ON THE NANO SCALE. How wonderful.
        But as it stands – sadly there is nothing more there than an anomaly on some slides and a seemingly impossible claims, with absolutely no evidence beyond some rather dubious anecdotes to back it up. oh well.

        • Yes, it would be an amazing and mind-expanding discovery and flip the world of science on its head. Sadly, everyone who has seen the evidence and is not keeping the Big Secret has said it looks like an artifact and nothing more. Yet we keep hearing about it.

  • Biologists have a pretty good grasp of what it means when something has -cide in its name. I don’t think anyone here is confused about that.

    But thanks for coming along to discuss that. Can you also make your way around “organic” food blogs and explain to them that “organic” -cides are not benign? That might be a more effective use of your time. I think their grasp on -cides is somewhat weaker. Here’s a reference to help you out:

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0011250

  • André

    Matt (February 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm) wrote:

    « I don’t see any of the major players jumping on the Huber bandwagon – not CFS, OSA, OTA, CU, etc – not a one. »

    But http://www.i-sis.org.uk/newPathogenInRoundupReadyGMCrops.php

    Excellent analysis. I would add three things : first, it is extraordinary for a private letter saying « This is highly sensitive information that could result in a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies » to go public. Second, can anyone name a facility running a test with two times 1000 (one thousand) heifers, or raising heifers commercially on completely different feed ? And « no abortions » in a herd of 1000 hay-fed heifers ? Pretty extraordinary.

  • Matt

    Ewan – “Nobody claims roundup is benign to plants – just more benign than other herbicides to… everything else.” -um, I think you might look up the definition of benign. There is no logic to “more benign”. You are either claiming it is benign, or not. Croplife, Aphis, and Monsanto employees use the word “benign” repeatedly. I’m not saying glyphosate isn’t a better choice than some other herbicides, but “benign” is not an applicable word.

    Mary….On your odd little -cide lecture. No, I do get that organic -cides – hell even organic production – is not in and of itself ‘benign’ and would never call it that. What’s your point exactly? You are suggesting I am making claims about organic that I have not made…hmm…what kind of fallacy is that…better go back to biofortified blog…perhaps a red herring? Organic systems have imperfect products and practices therefore my claim of “benign” being an extraordinary claim is invalid. Yeah, I think that’s a red herring. And OCA, puh-lease. Karl, fill her in.

    Karl – I hadn’t heard he sent it to FARFA. They only claim on site they spoke to him to prove authenticity, that doesn’t sound like he sent it to them. I was only half-serious and half-joking about it being a conspiracy. Would be grateful if you do track down how it got to press. Love the Treebeard quote. You are quite the geek – I mean that in the best of ways. On standing up for Huber or critiquing him. I can’t. But not because of some secret handshake brotherhood amongst GE-cautious individuals. I can’t because I haven’t seen the research, and even if I did I am not qualified to criticize them; I am not a plant pathologist.

    and Karl, I hear your call for people to be truth-seeking, but other than Anastasia, I have yet to read many people on here who I would call truth-seeking. It’s mostly bashing and making grand generalizations about “anti-GMO” people. I certainly don’t make such generalizations about plant breeders, even ones who are pro-biotech (some of whom are my friends). Nor even of Monsanto employees. Great for you to call for togetherness, don’t feel the spirit here. It’s why I keep promising myself that I won’t post anymore. Don’t even want to feed attention to those on here who just want to grind against organic as luddites and a single-minded community.

    So with that, I’ll try to live up to my promise once again….cya

    • Matt says:

      I hadn’t heard he sent it to FARFA. They only claim on site they spoke to him to prove authenticity, that doesn’t sound like he sent it to them.

      FARFA says:

      FARFA received an electronic copy of the letter from Dr. Huber and we have spoken with him directly to confirm its authenticity.

      That sounds like they were sent a copy from Dr. Huber.

      “On standing up for Huber or critiquing him. I can’t. (…) I can’t because I haven’t seen the research, and even if I did I am not qualified to criticize them; I am not a plant pathologist.”
      If only the Center for Food Safety, Jeffrey Smith, etc would say that when it comes to evaluating the science! I am not a plant pathologist either, and I don’t have expertise in herbicides and their effects on plants and potential fungi, etc. But the Huber letter is something else, as Ewan as pointed out in another post that students with basic biology education can see through its contradictions. But I know you are also not afraid to criticize the work of other scientists when it comes to GE crops, I seem to recall you criticizing calcium-biofortified carrots, for instance.

      Whenever I refer to anti-GE people as a group, I try to avoid generalizations and painting them as all the same. I know that the reasons that people have and the arguments they use vary from one to another, from sensible, to crazy. I also never use the term ‘luddite.’ Here is one example where I was referring to how I thought many (key word) anti-GE people would respond to something. While some people who read an comment on Biofortified may feel that all anti-GE folks are the same, or are all ‘luddites’, we also get anti-GE people on here who make broad generalizations about those who are in favor of it as well. We try to keep things as civil as we can, and comments will sometimes get deleted. (I should show you the ones from anti-GE people that I deleted in the last week – huh boy the nastiness) But we cannot and will not parse every phrase to ensure that every comment is sufficiently polite or non-stereotyping nor kick people off simply for feeling a particular way. Notice how comments you make that do the same also appear. We do call out people for their comments on both sides when we feel it goes over the line in some way, but not the kind of conversational infraction that necessitates a deletion.

      We are dealing with an impassioned topic, and people seem to need to vent a little. Hey, now I know why you keep comin’ back!

  • Matt

    Oh, one final ask, speaking of extraordinary claims. Ewan, Monsanto makes this claim: “Experts agree that we will need to grow as much food in the next few decades as we did in the past 10,000 years combined if we are to sustain our planet.”

    - what experts? Where are the facts on this? As much food in the next few decades as we did in 10,000 years. Now is that food you are referring to measured in calories or tons of corn yielded for biofuel and cattle to feed unsustainable consumption? Love to see the math on this one.

    • I’m going to assume that its an estimate of what will be required to meet growing demands of a huge population – its all well and good to moan about the fact that what is under discussion may well be unsustainable – but the harsh reality is that the West in particular, but also China and India, will (if history is any lesson) have absolutely no qualms whatsoever about crushing less developed nations to meet their demands should they fail to be met internally.

      For the math (and I’m no mathematician, but perhaps p-diff could step in and do some wizardry in that respect, I assume he knows his way around the area under a graph (I’m also assuming the area under the population graph would be a meaningful number in terms of this discussion – some long unused part of my frontal cortex appears to think this is the case, so I’ll roll with that until it’s pointed out exactly why this is foolish – and exactly what function of the graph I should be paying attention to) – take a look at the population graph here and it should be relatively clear that the food produced between 10,000 and about 2000 years ago is going to be an utterly negligible part of food production in the last 10,000 years anyway (tricksy right?) – it’s probably also a relatively safe bet that in the past couple of decades we’ve produced more than in the majority of the last couple of centuries (using data from here I did a rough calculation which shows that the number of people years (average mid point population between years multiplied by number of years) between 1999 and 2050 is 385018.5 hundred million, which is comparible to the number of people years between 1850 and 2000 which is more than the number of people years between 1500 and 1850 (252000 hundred million) – this progression will continue to get smaller, The period between 1500 and 0 AD has a 418000 hundred million people year figure as a comparison (and the preceding 10,000 years a figure of 505050 assuming a starting population of 1 million (which may be a vast over estimate – doesn’t really matter, the mid point is going to be ~50 million regardless – the math really doesn’t work as well here as the graph has a big ole bump right at around 800BC – so numbers may be on the high side here)

      So you see a stark difference in requirements initially (albeit not one that supports the hypothesis alone) – between 10,000 BC and 1AD as much food was required as was needed between 1AD and 1500 (approximately anyway) – the combined total of which is less than all the food required from 1500 onwards (less than 50% of the value) – food required in the last 50 years (of the calc – so 1999-2050) equates to 40% of the 1500-2050 total and 28% of the last 10,000 years total.

      Factor in increased demand for meat (based on the hypothesis that both China and India are heading towards US levels of meat consumption aswell as a growing population in the US etc), the need to reduce hunger and general increased food intake in the past century for the bulk of the population (at least in the West) as compared to pathetic intakes in centuries gone by and I don’t feel that it is too unlikely that the “as much food in the next 50 years as in the last 10,000″ is necessarily completely off the mark (you only require that on average food demand in the final 50 years is approximately 4 times that per capita as the average food demand in the preceding 11950 years – anecdotally I’d guess that my own food demand (in terms of personal demand plus the requirement for animal feed) is likely more than double that of my grandparents and that their demand was higher than their own parents or grandparents – so you don’t even necessarily have to go back more than 1% of the total period of time being investigated to reach levels where that difference may already almost be met)

      (And that, for anyone who made it to the end, is what I mean when I demand people show me their working… hopefully I’ve clearly layed out not only my working, but my assumptions, and the holes therein (as I don’t have actual data to plug in on calorific intake averages historically, or indeed the increased requirement for animal feed to meet demands for meat) – pick apart at will) Given the long ramblyness of this post I think I shall take up other points in a seperate post after my first coffee of the day settles.

      • pdiff

        You don’t need me, evidently. :-) I looked at a similar pop curve at Wikipedia and had the same ideas about area under the curve, but was too lazy to actually look at them in detail. Off hand, I think this kind of statement is the typical catchy sound bite that promotional people like. It’s not really a good comparison considering diets, nutritional value, food sources, food requirements and life spans have altered completely over that amount of time. It also is highly dependent on predicting the future which, again looking at the first Wikipedia graph under “world population”, has widely differing trajectories depending on who you talk to. Suffice to say, if pop growth continues exponentially, there will be a lot more mouths to feed.

      • Eric Baumholder

        Ewan, Matt,

        You also need to factor in technology changes in agriculture over that period of time. For the vast majority of the period, technology progress was essentially static, with pitiful yields.

  • Pdiff

    Matt:” -um, I think you might look up the definition of benign. There is no logic to “more benign”.

    Dictionary.com: Favorable

    I would say that this is a reasonable use of the word, especially in the context that it was used in comparison to other herbicides.

    For the record, I would not consider myself to be truth seeking. More of evidence seeking. Truth is too much of a relative term for the observer.

    I would also surmise that someone throwing statements like “Nothing extra-ordinary about agrichemical marketers shaking the crap off of a diaper so they can call it a napkin.” around is showing a fair amount of single mindedness as well.

    • Seconded. It’s all well and good to call for civil discourse but leading by example would help.

    • I think Matt is confusing “benign” with “harmless.” You certainly couldn’t call something more or less harmless, you can say something is more or less benign.

      • I dunno Karl, the upgrade from “harmless” to “mostly harmless” was the result of about a decades work (if memory serves) and so I don’t think that you can make blanket statements about such things without taking in to account the feelings of denizens of the ZZ9 plural Z alpha sector.

        (I see your arguementum ad Tolkien and raise you one ad Adams)

      • pdiff

        Karl, This would be an easy thing to confuse, and admittedly, it is the first thing into my mind when I hear the word. For me, it originates with the medical cancer definition in which a benign tumor is one that does not spread, which most people probably lead to the conclusion that it is harmless. Using the word with respect to agricultural techniques is probably not a good idea as that type of definition does not apply.

  • Judy Hoy

    A photo on one of the websites that had this story had a photo of a newborn calf. The calf was obviously full term, not a spontaneous abortion. The calf in the photo had a severely underdeveloped upper face, underbite and malformed ears. It also had no hair formed. I have necropsied two full term calves born on ranches in Western Montana with no hair formed and examined over a thousand newborn grazing animals, both wild and domestic.
    There was a high prevalence of underbite because of underdeveloped upper facial bones, some years over 50%. These malformations are consistent with fetal hypothyroidism and began in spring of 1995 (before wolves were reintroduced here) and became much worse in 2007. Other health problems connected to fetal hypothyroidism are muscle weakness, inability of the cells to produce normal heat and energy, contracted tendons, weak joints, herniated umbilicus, brain damage (called “dummy” young by ranchers), malformed or underdeveloped male genitalia, underdeveloped thymus, enlarged heart, lung damage, no hair formed or malformed hair (or feathers on birds), missing digits or missing or malformed limbs or other bones malformed and many other health problems. In a study of goats deliberately caused to have fetal hypothyroidism, the newborns had obesity at birth, diabetes at birth and high cholesterol at birth in addition to many of the above listed health problems.

    To read articles about the malformations we have been reporting in Western Montana and the history of this problem and possible causes, go to http://www.miller-mccune.com/author/joanmelcher/ and read the following articles:

    Divining the Secret of Deformed Roadkill
    Seeking Chemical Culprits for Those Deformities
    Poor Deer Season Spurs Chemical Concerns
    Viewing Poisons at Our National Parks

    The last article about poisons in parks is important because Glacier National Park, the park in Western Montana had the highest levels of toxins on the foliage, in the snow, in the surface water and in the animals tested. It is likely there are similar levels in other areas of Western Montana and even higher levels where lots of pesticides are used. In our area, Roundup, 2,4-D and Picloram are used in very high amounts on the forests, pasture lands and the most is used in yards (where children play). Many of the male Fox Squirrels, which live on sprayed lawns in urban areas here in Western Montana, have no or malformed scrotums, as do many deer, elk and other grazing animals. That should scare people, but so far no one has paid any attention. I do not know the prevalence of the fetal hypothyroidism symptoms in other areas. If they are anything like the prevalence here in Montana, we are in big trouble as far as future food supplies are concerned and paying for health problems may bankrupt everyone.

    The prevalence of underdeveloped facial bones became so high on wild grazing animals in Montana the last four years, many of the young ones did not survive. Of course, the wolves that also live here received all the blame – just check what is happening in Congress regarding wolves. No blame for our use of toxins which caused the fetal hypothyroidism and the debilitating malformations it causes in newborns of all species of vertebrate, including domestic livestock and wild grazing animals. Some wolf pups are also born with underbite and many die of symptoms consistent with hypothyroidism. That is not ever mentioned.

    Thank you for your consideration of this serious problem.

    • Judy Hoy

      I forgot to say we have published one study so far on the reproductive malformations in the white-tailed deer. Hoy, et. al., Genital abnormalities in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in west-central Montana: Pesticide exposure as a possible cause. J. Environ. Biol. 23(2), 189-197 (2002).

      • Judy, perchlorate mimics iodine and can cause hypothyroid symptoms, particularly in regions of low iodine background (like Montana). Ammonium perchlorate is used as an oxidizer in rocket fuel and there were some big explosions in the 4500 tons that were stored on site at the time.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PEPCON_disaster

        Large explosions like that could have dispersed thousands of tons of perchlorate into the atmosphere high enough so the wind could have carried it as far as Montana.

        The timing looks about right, a few years for the perchlorate to get incorporated into vegetation and affect the wildlife.

        I don’t think there are any pesticides that mimic hypothyroid symptoms. There might be perchlorate in salt used for road deicing. Deer are often attracted to roads that use salt, especially in salt-poor regions like Montana.

    • I don’t think the people posting these images in connection with Dr. Huber’s claims actually bothered to consider whether the specific images matched the story. They likely just found whatever image suited their purposes, and since the purpose of these stories seems to be to scare people, they found whatever gross scary looking image they could.

    • This story doesn’t seem to be related to the post – perhaps it would be better to start a discussion about this in the forum.

      That said, I just have a brief comment about the proposed cause here: pesticides.

      While many pesticides can be quite dangerous and some can cause quite terrible health problems at high doses, when used properly many pesticides can be safe for the pesticide applicator and non-target organisms. I can imagine that one or more pesticide applicators in the area where you are seeing animal malformations is improperly trained and using too much active ingredient. I can imagine that a few animals could encounter the pesticide where it was improperly applied and consume it. I can imagine that some of those animals might be female and some of those might be pregnant and the intake of large amounts of pesticides could affect the fetus in some way, although, I agree with daedalus2u in that “I don’t think there are any pesticides that mimic hypothyroid symptoms.” Even though I can imagine ways that a few animals might be born with malformations due to pesticides I can not imagine any scenario that would result in widespread exposure to pesticides at high enough concentrations to cause large amounts of animals being born with pesticide induced birth defects without also seeing other effects such as huge swaths of land where plants have been killed and widespread illness in humans in the area, particularly illness or death in the pesticide applicators. That would also be a huge pesticide bill, I think.

      • pdiff

        Ms Hoy is well known on this topic. Her main data regarding malformations come from road kills (her husband was a game ranger for many years), although since gaining some fame, she now has others who bring her reports. Her main hypothesis is that the fungicide, chlorothalonil, is a major player along with the synergistic effect of herbicide-fungicide mixes, such as 2,4-D, etc. Some implication is made to the common surfactant Nonylphenol. She claims that drift from the states west of her, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, are the main culprits, although, even Asian applications are implied to be possible sources.

        .

        Certainly, one should consider the possibility she might be right. The area where she lives is in a rain shadow of the Bitterroot Mountains and could possibly be acting as a geographic accumulator of aerial dispersants. The breakdown components of this fungicide have been found to be more toxic than the product itself. Fungicide-herbicide combinations are also implicated elsewhere as problematic.

        .

        Finding additional, non circumstantial, non-self surveyed, information is harder to come by though. In my reading on this, I found only one instance where she or anyone else had actually tested rain/snowfall, wind traps, ground/river water etc (snow at 0.03 PPB). No concrete data is ever mentioned regarding deformations in the general deer/wild life populations. No mention either of any historical data regarding deformations. No other potential hypotheses are considered, let alone explored. She damages her own credibility further with statements like the following (from Clouds of Death):

        One beautiful “shining mountain” morning after a front came in bringing much needed rain, I found many mice dead around our ranch, their faces swollen. Angleworms were lying dead on top of the ground by the hundreds. I noticed that larger birds like robins and black-billed magpies had trouble with their landings. My own depth perception was off, the ground looked strangely distant. I felt dizzy, listless and fell down several times doing chores. When I called on a neighbor who, like me, was sensitive to chemicals, he seemed in a fog. A few days later he was admitted to a rest home, diagnosis Alzheimer’s. He died within the month, sitting in his chair. Alzheimer’s is supposed to be a slow disease, but his came on quickly.

        This statement taken in context of the whole article is made with the clear intention of blaming “chemicals”. The bias and quick draw predrawn conclusions of Ms. Hoy are well known (even among her supporters). While this is potentially an area of interest for further exploration, the reliability of the current “data” leave much to be desired and, IMO, are marginally informative. We hear a lot of criticism about the self driven studies made bio “Big-Ag”, yet this is accepted by the same people without question. Why aren’t we hearing a call for “independent studies” here?

  • I tried to find out any possibilities of what this new micro-fungus that Dr. Huber is referring to could be.

    It could not be anything. A fungus cannot be the size he is claiming. The ultrastructures within a eukaryotic cell are visible at magnifications less than that he is claiming is required to see this micro-fungus – polyribosomes are visible at lower magnificantion.

    If a retired chemist were to claim that they’d discovered an element between Nitrogen and Oxygen in the periodic table, which causes all manner of adverse cellular reactions in row crops, cows, and bolivian bat mites one wouldn’t go to the trouble of checking that row crops, cows and bolivian bat mites suffer related ailments – you would reject the claim utterly because it isn’t possible to have an element between N and O in the periodic table without utterly reworking everything we know about how the universe works.

    I’m wondering if perhaps you moonlight as an electronic monk, it appears the folk of Salt Lake City have nothing on you.

  • Someone posted these links elsewhere: Investigating Agrobacterium-Mediated Transformation of Verticillium albo-atrum on Plant Surfaces and Tie between Morgellons Disease and fungi?

    I’m sorry to say these links don’t really shed any light on the “micro fungus” at all.

    The first barrier to overcome is the size issue, followed by the claim that a single pathogen can infect multiple kingdoms (plants and animals), and above all the problem of complete lack of evidence. Neither of these links address fundamental problems with Huber’s claims.

    Knight et al found, under laboratory conditions, if there was an existing plant wound and there was enough acetosyringone around and the right type of fungus was present, then Agrobacterium can sometimes transfect the fungus. They propose this might happen in nature but don’t actually do any experiments in a natural environment.

    The authors seems to be correct when they say “this study shows that the encounter between Agrobacterium and a plant pathogenic fungus on a plant surface can lead to gene flow in a new, and to date, under investigated way” but this only applies to Agrobacterium that is carried out of the lab inside a plant. Any seeds grown for production agriculture are many generations away from the transformed parent. Can Agrobacterium be transmitted from parent to seed? Perhaps, but unlikely, especially over many generations.

    Morgellons is a complex subject but to date there isn’t any evidence that it exists as a specific disease caused by a single pathogen. It might be a collection of similarly presenting skin conditions but more evidence needs to be collected – the CDC is undertaking a large study on the subject. I suggest you read the post Moregellons here at Biofortified for some details.

    Citovsky has published some work showing that Agrobacterium can tranfect human cells in culture, he nor anyone else has presented evidence that Agrobacterium can infect a human. There are major differences between cells in culture and cells in the body. Specifically, the cells they tested (cervical cancer, embryonic kidney, and neuronal cells) are extremely unlikely to come into contact with Agrobacterium for what I hope are obvious reasons. I wasn’t able to find any other peer-reviewed research on the subject.

  • Judy Hoy

    Actually hundreds of studies have linked hypothyroidism during development in vertebrate species to exposure to pesticides.

    We saw many mammals prior to 1995 and after, so are certain most of the malformations I listed were not observed on newborns of vertebrate species until spring of 1995. Most importantly, the misalignment of the hemiscrota on male mammals was not reported prior to 1995. This reproductive malformation has been common on many species of mammal since 1995. Perclorate from Nevada would have reached here in two or three days. The animals born in 1989 did not have the specified malformations.

    Probably, most importantly, the listed malformations have been observed and reported throughout the Northern Hemisphere and from Africa. The problem has nothing to do with where I live, except we have no factories or other common sources of pollution except very high use of herbicides, fungicides and some insecticides – mostly herbicides and fungicides.

    If I post more on this subject, I will post it on the Forum as soon as I find it. I am new here.

    • Welcome :) It’s always good to have a new person around – each voice expands the discussion. Please don’t be dismayed by any critical comments – in most cases (Ewan and pdiff included, I think) people aren’t being critical of the person who posted something but of the ideas presented, as many of us are rather evidence oriented.

      • pdiff

        Certainly not meant as a personal attack on my part – and I apologize to Ms. Hoy directly if it was taken as such. I was, however badly I mangled my attempt, trying to set the stage relative to the topic of the original post. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

        Again, I apologize for any mis-interpretation. Misconstrued intentions are often a damnable quality of the internet for me.

  • I just spotted this, thought it might be interesting to some folks here:

    RT @plantdisease: InTheNews: Glyphosate effects on soybean diseases http://bit.ly/fwcBXW

    Here’s a piece of it:

    “Recent claims on blogs and press releases have made the following statements:

    “It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; …”

    Based on the number of acres I’ve walked, the samples we have received, the talks and literature I have attended and read; and our own research here at the OARDC, this statement just isn’t true. “

    • Good find. We are seeing a growing number of extension experts responding to this “40 disease” claim of Huber’s and it is looking more and more like an ill-supported fringe claim. In order to demonstrate his thesis, he needs to explain why all these effects he is claiming are not found by these other investigators. I looked at some of the literature, too, and the varietal differences in effects were not only different but sometimes the reverse of each other – as in, some roundup-ready soybean varieties fared better (w/glyphosate too) than non-GE varieties.

      OMG, I just realized that plant breeding has been linked to 40 plant diseases! Quick, ban it!

  • Judy Hoy

    To pdiff, I would like to say I did not take any offense at what you said. I am flattered that you read my article. That article was written quite a few years ago and the paragraph you quoted was just one of many unexplained incidents of affects on people here in the Bitterroot Valley after 1995. Another incident was my two neutered male kid goats had significant mammary development at the same time as many people reported little boys of four to eight years old and little girls too, began growing breasts. That is some serious endocrine disruption.

    Some tests have been done. I personally couldn’t afford to have very many tests done. Energy Laboratories of Billings, MT found almost a half part per billion of Chlorothalonil in snow water that fell in our yard into glass pans in March of 1999 (cost $150). That was over 5 months after most farmers sprayed it last in states upwind of our county and at that time none was used here according to the County Extension Agent. Fairly high levels of PAHs were found in some of the air monitoring tests I helped with. Frog researchers found slightly over a half part per billion of Alachlor in the Bitterroot River. No Alachlor was being used in Ravalli County at the time the sample was taken in Hamilton, MT in summer 1999. It would take a lot of Alachlor to make a river the size of the Bitterroot River have a half part per billion in it all summer or possibly year around. The Bitterroot River begins in Ravalli County and flows into the Clark Fork in Missoula, MT. The USGS recently did an extensive study of snow, foliage, lake water and animals at high elevations in several National Parks, including the closest one to Ravalli County, Glacier National Park. They found many chemicals, including pesticides and stated the chemicals came from fields to the west (upwind), including Asia. I have also looked into mercury, lead, perchlorate, radiation and other things as possible causes of the very serious symptoms we have observed on individuals of all vertebrate species here, but mostly mammals and birds.

    Theo Colborn has written many articles and a book “Our Stolen Future” on the effects of pesticides (umbrella term), including endocrine disruption, especially thyroid hormone and sex hormone disruption. She listed study after study that showed hormone disruption by a variety of pesticides. All I have tried to do is report the increases in malformations and cancer in wild and domestic animals here in Montana. However, the cancer and malformations are not limited to Montana. They appear to be very widespread. If you want to get an idea of how widespread the underbite malformation on wild ruminants is, just pick up a hunting magazine and look at the photos. There are several photos in every magazine I have checked in the last 3 years that show obvious underbite on a variety of wild ruminants. You can also type the word underbite in front of calves, foals, goats, ponies and other domestic animals on Google and bring up many photos and posts on domestic animals with underbite. I grew up on a ranch and so did my Dad. Neither of us saw an animal with underbite prior to 1995. The studies of over thirty thousand white-tailed deer done by Ryel in Michigan in 1969 found none with an underdeveloped premaxillary bone. Looking for facial and tooth malformations were the primary reason for the study.

    Everyone here is talking about what was said in Dr. Huber’s email. I haven’t seen anything about the studies done in South America on the effects of Glyphosate on human newborns with regard to the four fold increase in malformations and cancer rates. And on chicks, rats and frogs tested with deliberate exposure to glyphosate. Glyphosate disrupted the retinoic acid levels in developing embryo on all three test animals and caused craniofacial and neural defects, similar to what was happening to human babies born to parents living near fields in Argentina sprayed with Roundup/glyphosate – the reason for all four studies.

    Regarding the evidence we (the people who I work with and I) have presented. I listed our study. I have also been working with scientists at Indiana University. They have posted their finding regarding Ravalli County and pesticides wind drifting here on OnCourse. Ruhter and Frost, Baseline Risk Assessment Bitterroot Valley, Montana, May 2008. Their conclusion stated, “Based on the physicochemical properties and chemical structures of the pesticides used in Idaho, these compounds have the potential to bioaccumulate and cause endocrine disruption. Endocrine disruption can result in both skeletal and reproductive malformations. There appears to be a strong correlation with malformation incidence and pesticide use in Idaho. Additionally, based on HYSPLIT modeling, it appears that air transport of long range pesticides used in Idaho potato crops may occur.” This I agree, still isn’t proof, but is evidence. Thank you for the opportunity for discussion of this issue.

    • Judy,
      Per the suggestion of Anastatia, I have started a thread in the forums regarding this topic (Didn’t really know where to put this. Admins, please move if appropriate). You will need to register to reply there. I will reply more specifically to what you have said when I get the chance.

      .

      Ewan can probably address the South American study. Think I have seen it here. What I am recalling is that the sampling done was haphazard and flawed, but I may be remembering something else. I know the glyphosate application to embryos is around here someplace.

      .

      If you have them available, could you post to the forum thread more specific references/links to:
      .
      The base line risk assessment.
      .
      The work by Ryle in 1969.
      .
      OnCourse .

      Thanks

      • Judy,
        I knew I saw it here abouts somewhere ….

        Paganelli (in Biofortified forums)

        It covers most of the studies you mention above. The S.Am. birth defects study wasn’t flawed, as I incorrectly recalled, but it did not distinguish between any particular pesticide types, i.e. herbs, fungs, insects, etc., and specifically, not a particular chemical like glyphosate.

    • Jonathan

      Hi Judy

      Here in Europe studies on the toxicology of pesticides are generally done on the pure active ingredient or undiluted product. Not sure of the situation in the US. These are organic chemicals we’re talking about so, as with most organic chemicals, often show toxicological profiles that sound scary in lab tests. You have to remember though that exposure via food residues is tens or hundreds of thousands of times less than the lab exposure rates.

      Your quoted half part per billion for chlorothalonil and alachlor have to be taken in context. We are lucky that modern technological developments in science has given us the ability to even detect (let alone quantify) such vanishingly low levels. Proportionately half a part per billion is the equivalent of 1 second in a period of 63 years. Do you really think that could be having the effects you describe?

      Jonathan

      • I wouldn’t dismiss it off hand. While technology has brought us the amazing ability to detect very small amounts of these compounds, it has also brought us the ability to use compounds at very small levels. In the past I have been involved in studies regarding a common herbicide that was found to have demonstrable botanical effects measured at the parts per trillion level, a thousand times smaller than parts per billion. It was truly amazing, IMO.

        • Jonathan

          “In the past I have been involved in studies regarding a common herbicide that was found to have demonstrable botanical effects measured at the parts per trillion level”

          Wooahhh! That’s the equivalent of 1 gram in a million tonnes…..or a teaspoon of salt in 6 billion litres of water (which a quick google search and calculation tells me is 2400 olympic swimmingpools full of water!!!). I’d love to read about that. Is it published anywhere?

          Jonathan

          • Pamela J. S. Hutchinson, Don W. Morishita and William J. Price. Season-Long Dose: Response of Potato to Sulfometuron
            Weed Science , vol. 55, No. 5 (Sep. – Oct., 2007), pp. 521-527

            • Jonathan

              Excellent stuff pdiff. Thanks for the reference. I can’t get the full article but I’ve read the abstract. Any idea how sulfometuron compares to other herbicides? I really can’t quite believe something so dilute can have such strong effects. Makes you wonder how we’ve survived drinking coffee, passively smoking cigarettes and breathing combustion fumes for so long!

              • Jonathan,
                I will have to submit any answers regarding potency comparisons to others here. Suffice it to say this is an excellent example of why the use of “total pounds of pesticides applied per year” by certain environmental advocates is complete nonsense. Would you rather have a lb of something like this in your backyard or a lb of glyphosate?

  • Judy Hoy

    Jonathan and pdiff,

    pdiff Thank you for your posts on toxicity at very low levels. What was concerning about the half part per billion in the Bitterroot River was the finding of Tyrone Hayes that Atrazine caused male frogs to have female characteristics at one fifth what was found in our river or one part per billion. Our Leopard Frogs completely disappeared, were extirpated when Atrazine, Zylene and possibly other herbicides were used in irrigation ditches to kill weeds, but we still have a few Western Toads, Spotted Frogs and introduced Bull Frogs. I am very concerned about the Western Toad population decline here. Toads have been a favorite of mine since childhood.

    Jonathan, I have consulted with many top level researchers in the 15 years I have been photographing and measuring animals. I was told that embryos and fetuses can be seriously affected by parts per trillion or less as pdiff so kindly pointed out in my defense.

    I haven’t figured out how to get onto the Forum. I am still working on it.
    I used to have a slow land line internet hookup so I received the Baseline Risk Assessment document in hard copy. I received Ryel’s 1969 study of anomalies in Michigan white-tailed deer from a scientist friend. I could not find it on Google. I will post it if I can find it. I could send it by email to you pdiff, if you would allow Anastasia to send you my email address to you, so you could contact me personally.
    I have never tried to go to OnCourse since getting fast internet connection, but will when I have time.

    Back to the discussion of Glyphosate. Here are links to some of the studies I referred to. I am sure there are lots more I can find when I have time.

    http://quarantine.entomol.nchu.edu.tw/ecology/Papers/2009-Chemosphere-Schneider_et_al_2009.pdf

    Study of effects of glyphosate on beneficial insect.

    http://4ccr.pgr.mpf.gov.br/institucional/grupos-de-trabalho/gt-transgenicos/bibliografia/pgm-e-riscos-ambientais/Relyea,%202005,%20Ecolo%20Appli.pdf

    Larval amphibians

    http://zoologia.biologia.uasnet.mx/protozoos/protozoa31.pdf

    Soil organisms

    http://www.rapaluruguay.org/glifosato/Efectos%20teratogenicos%20del%20Glifosato.pdf

    Chicks and frog embryos

    • Judy, I see you have registered for the blog – all you need to do to post in the forum is log in with your new user ID and you can start and respond to discussion threads! Have fun.

    • Judy, Thanks for the response. Beware, however, that defense can be a double edged sword :-)

      I will leaving further reply to this over on the forum, assuming you can eventually pick up there.

      I am fine with the admins passing an exchange of emails (my university email please) as long as we keep the discussion itself public on the forum so that others can read and participate.

    • Eric Baumholder

      Judy,

      Tyrone Hayes is a madman. The texts at the links below contain language which many regard as obscene and/or offensive.

      http://gawker.com/#!5620781/dr-tyrone-hayes-biologist-cock+fixated-megalomaniac-email-addict

      http://agsense.org/atrazine-the-strange-case-of-dr-tyrone-hayes/

      • I just spoke with a colleague about Tyrone Hayes today, not related to this conversation – I was just saying that I didn’t think we could rely on the existing info about atrazine due to Dr. Hayes’s obvious um, shall we say, creative way of expressing himself (please refrain from making specific claims about persons unless they are known to be true, I don’t believe there has been an official diagnosis on Dr. Hayes).

        Coincidentally, the person I was speaking with had a close friend who worked in Dr. Hayes’s lab some years ago before he achieved notoriety and the then student first hand conducted experiments where hermaprhodization was observed in amphibians as a result of atrazine – I didn’t ask what concentrations. I’ll have to see if my colleague can contact his friend to see if that person will do a post here. That would be interesting.

        • I am doing research on nitrifying bacteria as normal commensal organisms. I have found that many organisms living in “the wild” have a biofilm of these bacteria on their external surface, including earthworms, lobsters, clams, mussels, turtle. My hypothesis is that these are commensal and they help to regulate the basal NO/NOx level by oxidizing ammonia released through the organism surface to the nitrifying bacteria which convert it into NO and nitrite which is absorbed.

          Nitric oxide is a pleiotropic signaling molecule. One of the things it regulates is the activity of the cytochrome P450 enzymes by binding to the heme and inhibiting the binding of O2. In mammals, testosterone synthesis is inhibited by NO. Low NO causes high testosterone. High androgens cause growth of pubic hair, which expands the niche these bacteria live in which increases the NO/NOx that they produce.

          I have written about these bacteria in the context of the Hygiene Hypothesis. I think that many of the adverse health conditions observed today are due to the loss of a biofilm of these bacteria due to bathing practices.

          http://books.google.com/books?id=a3mwmXzpsjkC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA103#v=onepage&q&f=false

          Low NO mimics high stress and accelerates growth and increases body size (via stimulating androgens). I think that low NO is the mechanism by which antibiotics in animal feed cause increased body size and accelerated sexual maturity. I think that some of the decline in the age of puberty that has been observed in the last century and a half is due to a loss of NO due to bathing practices. In 1850, the average of menarche was almost 17. Now it is ~12 or less.

          Atrazine inhibits nitrifying bacteria. If atrazine in the environment was interfering with the NO/NOx production of a biofilm of nitrifying bacteria on the surface of developing larvae, it could easily cause all sorts of endocrine disruption. It is the P450 enzymes that synthesize, regulate and transduce the signals from all the steroid hormones as well as many other hormones. Disruption of NO/NOx signaling could cause endocrine disruption too, particularly during development.

          Nitrification inhibitors would disrupt NO/NOx regulation too.

  • Eric, I have been called crazy by many, including Montana’s ex-Governor Judy Martz. I simply told her the state of my mind had nothing what so ever to do with the condition of newborn wildlife. I do not use the kind of language Dr. Hayes uses, but he does good work in my opinion so I am willing to overlook bad language.

    I posted some information on what my colleagues and I have found concerning endocrine disruption in wild and domestic mammals and birds under Animals on the Forum. I hope that was where it was supposed to go. Thank you for any suggestions, advise or admonitions you might have concerning my post.

    • Eric Baumholder

      The problem with Tyrone Hayes’ work is that other scientists are unable to replicate his findings. And that’s when he shares his data, which sometimes he doesn’t. He also comes up with results which are not dose-dependent and appear actually to resemble homeopathy which is of course bunk.

  • Anastasia, the fibers in the photograph on the Moregellons post look exactly like the algae I find growing in among the rhizoids (like roots on plants) of mosses when I pull the mosses apart to identify them. One kind is red and another kind is blue just like the things in the photo. I am assuming the “fibers” in the photo are magnified somewhat. I have no idea what the fibers are, but has an expert on algae identification looked at them? It would be quite strange for algae to be growing in human tissue, but I have seen some things that are very strange in nature.

    • Woah, Judy! You have lots of interesting things to share, but I’d really like to keep this thread isolated to things related to the original post just so anyone visiting this site after the conversation has ended can find relevant material in the comments. Sorry to be the pain in the butt moderator here.

      One other note, if you want to reply to a specific comment, you can click on “Reply” next to the comment date/time and it’ll create a sub-thread. That can help with comment flow sometimes, especially with the Sunflowers to help people keep track of what’s new when they visit the page again.

  • Judy Hoy

    Who says homeopathy is bunk? If homeopathy is bunk, I and a whole lot of rehabbers and livestock owners must have simply preformed magic or bunk (take your pick) when using Homeopathic Cell Salts to remedy underdeveloped bones, contracted tendons, deviated septums on waterfowl, help bones heal in half time it takes without the Cell Salts and so many other things, I do not have time or room to list them. I have before and after photos.
    Other people get the same results I do when using the Homeopathic Cell Salts on humans or animals. The hormone disrupting chemicals work (often synergistically) in extremely low amounts to disrupt the cellular function. The Homeopathic Cell Salts work in extremely low concentrations to stimulate normal cellular function. This discussion probably belongs on the other site in Forum, but it was brought up here.

  • Hi Bug Guy,

    Those were interesting links you posted. I don’t use anything Homeopathic but Homeopathic Cell Salts and the animals are wild so they are pretty stressed anyway. That stuff about stress doesn’t apply with what rehabbers do. I also treat the broken wing with a splint just like I did prior to ever using the Homeopathic Cell Salt, Calc. Phos. 30X. I do know how many days it took for a broken bone to heal on a young bird or mammal without giving the Calc. Phos. 30X, from 9 to 14 depending on the break, and when giving the Calc. Phos. 30X, from 5 to 7 depending on the break (takes half the time to heal). My niece’s broken leg was healed in three weeks (she is human, by the way). She took one tablet of Calc. Phos. 30X and one tablet of Bioplasma four times a day. Her doctor insisted on X-raying her leg because he couldn’t believe it was healed. He had told her at least 6 weeks on crutches.

    Prior to learning about the positive effects of Calc. Phos. 30X I got baby animals with crooked legs, contracted tendons or underbite because of underdevelopment of the upper facial bones or overbite because of an underdeveloped lower jaw or other developmental problems, like disrupted feather development on fledgling birds, and no conventional treatment helped. No vet here knew of any way to help them. The young birds or mammals retained their underbite, overbite, crooked legs, contracted tendons, etc. for life, which often wasn’t very long because they were not releasable. Now I give the young bird or mammal the Calc. Phos. 30X. The food and water or milk formula (depending on the species) is exactly the same as prior to using Calc. Phos. 30X. Bones, feathers, bills, jaws, etc. grow to be normal the way the genetics of the animal dictates. The listed problems are epigenetic changes during development. Underbite can be stimulated to grow to be more normal by giving extra Vitamin D3, minerals and electrolytes, but I have not seen any mammal or bird caused to grow to completely normal by anything but the Homeopathic Cell Salts. Veterinarians who tried the Vitamin D3, or other supplements told me they helped a little, but the underbite or overbite never grew to be completely normal like it does when we give Calc. Phos. 30X.

    I also give a tablet of the one that contains all 12 Homeopathic Cell Salts, called Bioplasma. The bird, mammal, amphibian or reptile in rehabilitation receives normal food and water or saline electrolytes if they need it (liquid electrolytes work observably better when Bioplasma is given at the same time). For example, an emaciated, dehydrated, almost dead bird, like a hawk, eagle or owl for example, will be standing up and wanting to eat in just 45 minutes after tubing them with the electrolyte/ Bioplasma combination every 15 minutes from time of arrival. They can then eat a small amount of food, like pinky mice, and digest it without dying, because they hydrate much faster when the Bioplasma is given with the liquid electrolytes. Any raptor rehabber you ask will tell you it is usually very difficult to hydrate an almost dead, dehydrated, emaciated bird enough to feed it before it dies. We also add a Calc. Phos. 30X to the combination to stimulate the cells to more actively transfer calcium from the blood into the cells that need it, like the digestive system. Muscles need calcium to work. Every wildlife rehabber who has used the combination was impressed with how fast the bird or mammal was able to eat and function normally. Rehabbers here and everyone we told about this now save and release birds that are far worse than ones we used to not be able to save. We also get to release normal healthy birds and mammals that came to us with serious epigenetic changes (developmental malformations caused by endocrine disruption). I said I have lots of before and after photos. Having said all this, I do not care at all whether or not you believe that Homeopathic Cell Salts help stimulate cells to work better, unless you have a mammal or a bird with a malformation or broken bone – then it would be nice if you gave it some.

    The following statement from one of the articles in no way applies to what the Homeopathic Cell Salts have done for wild animals in rehab. “What is really happening, is that the vet who is using homeopathic remedies, is using his authoritative position to convince the animal owner that the animal being treated with homeopathy is getting better.” Rehabbers are not convinced the animal is getting better unless they do get better. Many veterinarians will not work on wild animals, so we usually splint the broken bones, sew up rips in skin and take care of the animals ourselves. Thank you for the links. Now I know why people say the things they do about Homeopathic Cell Salts. I don’t think they are the same as other Homeopathic remedies (which I do not use). I have seen the Cell Salts actually work. Sorry, this is pretty long.

    • Ewan R

      30X means thirty 10 fold dilutions right? Which means that you’re giving the animal nothing at all (well not really, as it isn’t possible to have source water that pure – but if you had utterly pure water and did those dilutions you’re looking at less than one molecule in a volume similar to the solar system (or thereabouts)) – mechanistically this cannot work – if the substance in question was going to help then the concentration in regular water would either have the effect itself, or swamp the effect.

      Most likely what is going on is there is a broad recovery window and you’re simply erroneously chalking up recoveries that happen to be early to the rememdy while ignoring those that take the remedy and fall on the other end of the bell curve – likely not on purpose, which is why to prove efficacy you’d have to do a blinded trial (where you haven’t any idea what you’re giving as treatment) – amusingly most of the vetinary literature on homeopathy doesn’t have controls (at least the mastitis study I read, it was a chuckle until you realize that these people left cows to go untreated with mastitis while testing something that cannot possibly work)

      • the bug guy

        Judy, you still are only providing unsupported anectdotes.

        I am beginning to suspect that these cell sals are sold under the homeopathic labeling (probably because they were listed in the old homeopathic pharmacopia) because that allows them to be sold without any efficacy or safety testing. Like the Zicam swabs of a couple of years ago that contained functional amounts of an active ingredient – and caused permanent loss of smell in some patients before the produce was removed from the shelves.

        You are also claiming that this simple combination of salts cures a wide variety of conditions of different derivations. That is something that is hard to believe. Medicines have a set mode of action and work on a limited set of conditions.

        Please provide some peer-reviewed evidence for these cell salts doing what you claim that they do.

        • bug-guy: Please provide some peer-reviewed evidence for these cell salts doing what you claim that they do.

          According to Wiki, no such animal exists. The article also claims that they (there are 12 salts) are not strictly “Homeopathic” in the contemporary sense because they don’t claim to work based on the “like cures like” paradigm. They are common among homeopath practitioners, however, and are used at the 1:1000 to 1:1000000 level.

          • the bug guy

            That confirms my suspicion that they are like the Zicam swabs and are being sold under the homeopathic umbrella to avoid efficacy and safety testing.

    • He, He!! I was just waiting for the big “H” bomb to get dropped …….

      Sorry had to drop out for a bit. Damn work! Always getting in the way :-)

  • Thanks again pdiff. I said I do not use anything but the Cell Salts and the Cell Salts are not like the other Homeopathic remedies in exactly the way you said. Also, the Cell Salts can be given with food. Touching them does not lessen their affect. We gave them to a nursing mother and there was very strong evidence the nursing baby was favorably affected – have photo evidence only. The Cell Salts work like an electrolyte, stimulating the cellular electricity and thus communication between the cells. I did not say they “cure” anything. I said they stimulate the cells to work more normally, and some organs with disrupted growth during fetal development will become what they were genetically programed to be. Unfortunately, giving the Cell Salts postnatally does not make underdeveloped, misaligned or malformed male genitalia grow to normal. Genital malformations occur on the fetuses I have examined at an earlier stage of development than the bone and tendon problems and thus are permanent.

    Regarding the comments about adverse affects. I know taking the two Cell Salts I mentioned do not cause adverse affects like you mentioned, because I take them myself and have not had averse affects. I am old enough to have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, quite a ways below the doctor’s magic line. Then I began taking one tablet of each, Calc. Phos. and Bioplasma morning and night. I ate the same foods and did nothing special to help build up bone density. One year later, I had the bone density of a normal 30 year old female. That was when doctors said no one could reverse depleted bone density, only hold it where it was. I am completely comfortable with affects like that. I had a complete turnaround in other symptoms, like I never have headaches now, no joint or muscle pain (I had severe “what doctors call” fibromyalgia and arthritis in my joints immediately prior to taking the Calc. Phos. twice a day and have had neither since about 36 hours after taking the first tablet) and I am still here, despite three doctors telling me I had only 6 month or so to live. Yeah, I know that is an anectdote, but pretty important to me. Did anyone read my post on the Forum under Animals? Do you know anything about epigenetics? Did you know doctors now give prescriptions where the patient inhales small amounts of the drug or puts a patch on their skin, so miniscule amounts of the prescription drug can seep into their system?

    Regarding double blind studies, I do not have a laboratory to do studies. I have told scientists and given them before and after photos. I have been rehabilitating wildlife for 40 years. I still give antibiotics for cuts and puncture wounds or compound fractures. The antibiotics work faster and it takes less antibiotics at a time to achieve the fast result when the two Cell Salts are given at least twice a day to the bird or mammal patient.
    If the animal is so badly injured or so sick, cancer for example, that its cells working properly can not fix the problem, it will die no matter what we give it, including antibiotics. Cancer is pretty much a death sentence for a wild animal and unfortunately rehabbers are seeing more and more since 2007. We have no idea why.
    By the way, I am still taking the two Cell Salt tablets two or three times a day. I am not on any prescription drug, never got osteoporosis again and definitely do not feel my age, if other ladies my age are a gage. I would like for someone to do a double blind test of Calc. Phos. and of Bioplasma. I am sure of what they would find.

    • Anecdote and testimonials are not convincing evidence. Nothing you have mentioned has been supported by other sources.

      Don’t claim that there isn’t money to study things like cell salts, NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) spends over $100 million a year to study exactly claimed treatments like this.

      These salts are commercially sold, so I have to wonder why the manufacturer hasn’t provided any documentation of efficacy or safety. As I mentioned, the money is there. Good peer-reviewed research would be good public relations and a good selling point. If they are effective, the company would have much to gain and little to lose by doing the proper testing.

    • I think one problem here is that homeopathic can mean two different things:

      1) Highly diluted preparations that are so diluted that they effectively consist only of the diluting agent (water, sugar, etc). This is the “correct” definition but that doesn’t stop people from also using the next definition:

      2) Any “natural” medicine including herbs, salts, rocks, etc.

      In this case, is Judy referring to “natural” remedies or the diluted definition of homeopathy? The websites I could find about “Homeopathic Cell Salts” were full of unverified claims with no citations but I didn’t see anything about dilutions.

      • The dilution reference I saw was on Wikipedia where they are talking about how the salts are formulated by 1:9 dilutions in lactose repeated 3 to 6 times. The final products are sold as tablets.

        Wiki ref

        • Ewan R

          30X, by any homeopathic definition, is 30 tenfold dilutions – it doesnt necessarily define how much is in the start however, so lets assume they use 10kg per Liter – a 30X solution will have 10^-28kg (or 10^-25g which is 0.1 yoctograms – or approximately one tenth the weight of a proton) – I posit that essentially any water anywhere in the world (probably even freshly distilled) will have more of each of the 12 basal salts in it that 0.1 yoctograms per liter – applying this knowledge to the statement

          If homeopathy is bunk, I and a whole lot of rehabbers and livestock owners must have simply preformed magic or bunk

          Essentially you are asking us to believe that either you performed magic, or you performed magic.

  • pdiff is correct, the tablets are in a lactose base. Yes, the original amount of Calcium Phosphate is put in distilled water then shaken (that is the important part), then diluted 10 times and shaken and this process is repeated the number of times needed to make the 3X, 6X, 30X or whatever. The amount of calcium phosphate remaining is minute. The shaking does something to the calcium phosphate and water mixture. I have no idea how they get it into the tablet form. When a scientist with an electron microscope looked at water in which a tablet of a cell salt (they didn’t say which one) was dissolved, he found microscopic crystal like structures that looked a bit like ice and had a negative electronic charge.

    Ewan R, I meant we observed a favorable change in the animal when cell salts are given, which I think can be explained scientifically if someone cared to try. I was trying to say we did not preform magic not that we did.

    Finally, I would like to say I am not all that enamored with peer review studies. I worked very hard in all kinds of weather to measure white-tailed deer genitalia. A respected scientist (retired) took the measurements and produced a very well written study, which was published in a peer reviewed journal. All we got for our efforts was nothing done by the State of Montana to find the cause of the problem or even admit there was a problem. The people who worked for the state said the Journal wasn’t any good. They said I could not read a ruler. They said deer with no scrotum at six months of age would grow one when they grew up. Our county health board believed them not the peer reviewed study.
    No matter how many peer reviewed studies Tyrone Hayes has done, people still say just things as bad and often far worse about his findings. No wonder he becomes a bit irritated. Now I am going to go back to work and not bother you with what I have observed. Thank you for the great discussion.

    • Now I am going to go back to work and not bother you with what I have observed. Thank you for the great discussion.

      If you want to use science in your arguments, then you must use the methods of science. It’s not an option. Not a matter of opinion. Not a choice. It’s sound logical reasoning. The scientific method is the Only known, logically self consistent means of objectively perceiving the world around us. Period. Asking someone to believe you outside that framework is simply irrational.

      Its too bad. I never thought we could change your mind, but I had hoped you could at least re-examine your own assumptions. Oh well. I guess the pull of the Red Loop was too strong with that one.

    • the bug guy

      Okay, you are talking about classic homeopathy. The whole shaking (succussion) and dilution is central to the concept. It is supposed to impose the solute “memory” onto the water, so that the water “remembers” the solute even when it has been diluted away and thus still carries the “healing” properties of the solute.

      As the links provided explained, homeopathy is complete pseudoscience and for it to work, it would violate our basic concepts of chemistry, physics and biology. You would think that after 200 years, homeopathy would’ve produced some good evidence for efficacy, but there is none. None.

      Judy, you have a sadly mistaken idea about publications. Getting a study published is only the start of the process. That allows other researchers to see your results and critique them. To try to replicate the work. To examine what you said you did and to see if it is valid. That is something we all go through when we publish. It is the first step in providing evidence, not the final word.

      However, for those wishing to look at a subject, examining the literature is the best place to start because the evidence in presented in a solid, understandable and consistent format. It provides information for others to try to replicate the work and it explains not only what you did, but why and why you came to the conclusions you presented.

      Human beings are very susceptible to a range of unconscious biases, that is why we developed scientific protocols like double-blind tests. To minimize the risk of these biases influencing the results. Scientists recognize that even though we are fully aware of these inherent biases, we are still susceptible to them and must take steps to avoid the pitfalls that they lead to.

    • Huh boy, I didn’t notice that this thread turned into a discussion of homeopathy – I agree with Anastasia that this would be best left to the Forum.

      Although this is a digression from the topic of this post, it does seem to fit in that Homeopathy is another extraordinary set of claims that require extraordinary evidence (or at least some basic evidence). The very idea of shaking water and diluting it to make something stronger rather than weaker goes against some very basic concepts in science. If diluting something to 1/10^30 times its original concentration (past the point where there are no molecules of that substance left) makes it more powerful rather than weak to the point of having no effect whatsoever – it would be a huge upheaval of our understanding of how the universe works.

      It also ignores some very basic things about reality before it even begins – such as, where did that water come from and why does it not “remember” other things it has been in, such as toilets and nuclear reactor coolant and rainbows? Can you make homeopathic poisons just like you make homeopathic remedies? If it is dangerous to take ten sleeping pills, why is it that James Randi frequently upends entire bottles of “homeopathic sleeping pills” without harm – or even getting a little drowsy? How about when this group of people committed Homeopathic Mass Suicide?

      In response to the statement that Judy didn’t claim that homeopathic remedies “cure” anything, the first thing I have to say is that this means you disagree with a fundamental tenet of homeopathy – that “like cures like.” The second is, you are saying that it treats a problem – which is the same thing as saying that it cures that problem. Finally, electron microscopes do not measure charge, nor do they detect the bonds between water molecules. Double-blind studies don’t require a fancy laboratory – it just means that one person randomly administers two or more treatments to a patient (human, non-human animal), one a control, and a second person evaluates these patients without any knowledge of what the treatment is. If giving a homeopathic remedy gives better results than antibiotics on their own – you can test – and know that it helps treat their problems.

      Now that I have thrown more fuel and flame on this fire, maybe we can dilute this down and succuss it into the forum instead. :)

  • Those of you that are interested in the homeopathy subtopic may find the following article of interest:

    Luc Montagnier, Nobel Prize Winner, Takes Homeopathy Seriously

    Hormesis is more familar to many U.S. scientists. It is important when considering effects of very low doses of glyphosate on neighboring plants.

    • While Luc Montagnier may be a Nobel laureate, it doesn’t make his support of homeopathy any more valid.
      Recent critique of his work “supporting” homeopathy. The primary reason his name is mentioned is to use Argument from Authority.

      Actually, look up “Nobel Disease” ;-)

      I’m not sure if you mean to make the connection, but (despite the claims of many homeopaths) hormesis is nowhere near the same thing as homeopathy.

    • In the US, something is legally a homeopathic preparation and can be sold as such simply by being listed in the Homœopathic Pharmacopœia of the United States. Get your magic water listed in the HPUS and you can call your magic water homeopathic.

      Homeopathy and hormesis have nothing to do with each other. Hormesis is a real effect of real concentrations of real compounds on physiology. Homeopathy is imagined effects of non-existent concentrations of imaginary compounds. Homeopathy is a placebo.

    • Henry, If you read the actual paper, it is evident that the effect reported is artifact. A spurious effect of electronic noise using low quality equipment. If high quality equipment is used, with high levels of shielding of noise, the effects go away.

      http://www.springerlink.com/index/0557V31188M3766X.pdf

      You will note that they did not enclose their equipment in a Faraday cage and they used a Sound Blaster card to do the recording. They even say that noise is necessary.

      “The use of the 12 V battery for the computer power supply did reduce, but not abolish this noise, which was found to be necessary for the induction of the resonance signals from the specific nanostructures.”

      You know enough about ESR to be able to evaluate their equipment. Would you trust ESR measurements done that way?

    • Jonathan

      “Luc Montagnier, Nobel Prize Winner, Takes Homeopathy Seriously”

      When 500 nobel prize winners say homeopathy is a load of nonsense but then one comes along who says he believes it works, does that mean he’s right?

  • The following was stated:

    “The primary reason his name is mentioned is to use Argument from Authority.”

    H.Kuska reply. His name was mentioned because it was in the title. My actual statement was:

    “Those of you that are interested in the homeopathy subtopic may find the following article of interest:”

    Please note the words

    “Article of Interest”

    Did you read the article?

    “Most clinical research conducted on homeopathic medicines that has been published in peer-review journals have shown positive clinical results,(3, 4) especially in the treatment of respiratory allergies (5, 6), influenza, (7) fibromyalgia, (8, 9) rheumatoid arthritis, (10) childhood diarrhea, (11) post-surgical abdominal surgery recovery, (12) attention deficit disorder, (13) and reduction in the side effects of conventional cancer treatments. (14) In addition to clinical trials, several hundred basic science studies have confirmed the biological activity of homeopathic medicines. One type of basic science trials, called in vitro studies, found 67 experiments (1/3 of them replications) and nearly 3/4 of all replications were positive. (15, 16)”

    • I meant that his name was mentioned in the article title as an Argument from Authority. I apologies for the confusion.

      I’m sorry, but “most clinical research” does not support homeopathy. The articles often touted as proof for homeopathy are low-power, usually have small sample sizes and often are poorly blinded or controlled. I would suggest that in addition to my link above that you also read through the links I provided to Judy Hoy on the background of homeopathy, the lack of real evidence supporting it and the simple fact that it violates so many basic tenets of science.

      Overall, the linked article about Dr. Montagnier is poorly written, uses multiple logical fallacies and as I mentioned before, homesis really does not support homeopathy. Homesis involves small amounts, not amounts so diluted that none of the solute remains. Even when working with real materials that demonstrate homesis, they have no effect at zero concentration or even extremely minute concentrations. From zero, the curve shows an improvement as concentration increases to a maximum effect point, then the improvement falls away to detrimental as concentration further increases.

  • The following was stated:

    “The articles often touted as proof for homeopathy are low-power, usually have small sample sizes and often are poorly blinded or controlled.”

    H.Kuska comment: One of the powerful features of Google Scholar is that it tells which reviewed scientific papers have cited a particular reviewed scientific paper. The article that I presented gave references for its statements. If one follows the citations and the citations for the citations, etc. I would expect that you will see that this is a real “in progress” area of science. Since spectroscopy is one of my areas of expertise, I will just give one example from that viewpoint:
    “Thus, experimental evidence accumulates that highly
    diluted homeopathic preparations, i.e. diluted beyond
    the Avogadro limit, exhibit particular physicochemical
    properties different from shaken pure solvent. The exact
    nature of these properties is not yet known; our current
    working hypothesis is an increase in the solvent’s molecular
    dynamics for homeopathic preparations. All high quality
    experimental data obtained so far by several
    independent working groups for different homeopathic
    preparations, involving studies with high- and low-field
    1H NMR relaxation time, 1H-NMR-spectroscopy, and
    thermodynamics are compatible with this ‘dynamization
    hypothesis.”

    • Homeopathy has had over 200 years to make “real progress.” It has failed.

      I’m not impressed by the linked article, either. The real differences are weak, the number of samples low, the significance levels are low. Looking at the Figures, the scatter of transmission between potencies looks a lot more like random scatter than real differences. The Y-axis range for each is very small, which makes the small fluctuations between samples look much larger.

      And it all boils down to them putting foreward a poorly supported hypothesis based on shotgunning around and finding the random samples that hit as significantly different.

  • I made the following statement:

    “Hormesis is more familar to many U.S. scientists. It is important when considering effects of very low doses of glyphosate on neighboring plants.”

    We have now seen several comments that the “straw man” set up by a “if you mean” statement.

    I feel that I clearly stated what I meant. Are there any comments about this effect of glyphosate? How about this for a starter? 1) When someone sprays glyphosate the nearby weeds will be killed, but will weeds farther away be enhanced? 2) Does this enhancement in any way contribute to the development of glyphosate resistent weeds?

    • Answer to 1) Yes, there can be a hormetic effect of very low concentrations of glyphosate.

      Answer to 2) No. Herbicide resistance develops in populations, not individuals. It selects for resistant population members that were already present in the general population. It does not work through manipulation or mutation of individuals. Since the hormetic effects do not kill or reduce fecundity, no selection occurs. Resistance develops when susceptible individuals are actively removed from the population, i.e. killed by higher rates.

  • The following was stated:

    Answer to 2) No. Herbicide resistance develops in populations, not individuals. It selects for resistant population members that were already present in the general population. It does not work through manipulation or mutation of individuals. Since the hormetic effects do not kill or reduce fecundity, no selection occurs. Resistance develops when susceptible individuals are actively removed from the population, i.e. killed by higher rates.

    H.Kuska comment: The above is one view of the elephant.

    Another view is to ask why are some of the present population resistant? Among individuals in a population, there is such a thing as adaption by exposure to low doses. I assume that everyone here is familar with having to first take low doses of something in order for the body to tolerate a larger dose. One reviewed scientific publication example is:

    http://staff.aist.go.jp/yoshiro-saito/Files/2005.NeursLet.383.256-259.pdf

    • Yes, Henry, cells and whole organisms can adapt. So your plant slowly acquires resistance and becomes full fledged resistant. And how does it pass this on? Note, to be resistant, the progeny must survive a full dose application in a growers field. Also note that, even if we allow for your gradual adaptation and some of the progeny move on to survive, it is still selection that is driving the population process.

      Experimental data that I’m aware of on algae support the mutation theory for several herbicides, including glyphosate:
      phytoplankton

  • The following was stated:

    “Henry, If you read the actual paper, it is evident that the effect reported is artifact. “

    Then a link is given to a different paper than the one that I linked to?????????? The paper that he linked to was cited by 44 other papers.

    This appeared in the Discussion Section of one of the citing papers that directly relates to the “different paper” that was cited above:

    “Coming back to Montagnier’s paper [17], our successive NMR
    studies since 2004 argue for the presence of nanosized superstructures in high dilutions prepared under strong agitation, which seem to develop more upon dilution and are destroyed after heating.”

    Title: NMR relaxation evidence for solute-induced nanosized superstructures in ultramolecular aqueous dilutions of silica–lactose

    I have a copy of the full paper.

    I suggest that responders to this (any) thread where a particular reviewed scientific published paper is being discussed, if possible, first look at what the papers that cite the paper have to say and then link to the actual paper(s) that support their comments.

    • For the NMR paper, a few things that quickly stand out.

      n=5 or 6 series for each. Very low statistical power.

      I also find it suspect that they give the P values for their regressions (which says if the slope of the line is different from 0), but not the r^2 values, nor the slope of the lines. Both important pieces of information to determine the importance of a regression fit. Without them, regression is mostly meaningless.

      Somebody else citing a poor paper doesn’t improve the quality of the paper. It mostly means that the citing paper is most likely poor.

    • Henry, did you look at the Luc Montagnier paper I linked to? That was the subject of the paper by Dana Ulman that you linked to first. Dana Ulman put Luc Montagnier’s name in the title. The reason he put his name in the title was because Luc Montagnier has a Nobel Prize. Here is a link that is free.

      http://www.iberhome.es/boletin/docs/lucmont.pdf

      Did you look at the apparatus he used? What is your assessment of the sensitivity and precision of that apparatus. Would you publish results using an apparatus like that?

  • daedalus2u, thank you for the link.

    My first ESR was home made. I had an interesting “incident” with a new faculty member. He was horrified at the look of my ESR and wanted the department to purchase a commercial one. To back that request up he obtained a test sample that his previous commercial ESR was just able to detect. On my home made ESR the line was way off the chart. He said but look at those small lines on the sides of the main line, your instrument is reporting lines that are not there. I pointed out that they were natural abundance C13 lines. (At that that time people were spending big money to enrich samples to study the C13 lines.) This relates to your question because a skillful scientist with homemade equipment can often run rings around a non specialist with a slick looking commercial instrument.

    As to whether I would publish with the experimental apparatus as described in your linked paper. From a quick reading it appears that they took the necessary precautions. I would expect that from a French paper as I have grown to admire French science training.
    ——————————————-
    “the bug guy” has some comments about the stastical analysis. The paper was accepted by the reviewers and the editor. If he feels that he has a valid point, I recommend that he submit a follow up paper.

    Regarding his comment:

    “Somebody else citing a poor paper doesn’t improve the quality of the paper. It mostly means that the citing paper is most likely poor.”

    Wow! In the science world that I exist in scientists mainly cite papers because they support the existing work or they are challenging it (other than just for historical purposes). One has to read the citing paper to determine which.

    • You were making the big deal about the citations in the papers, please don’t try to shift the goalposts.

      And yes, I am aware that citations are used for support in a paper. But when a manuscript cites a poor quality paper, it is often because the manuscript is of poor quality. And when you make a big deal about one paper citing the other, I was pointing out that once citing the other doesn’t make it good.

      As for writing a followup paper, no need. Anybody with reasonable experience in statistics could see the weaknesses in the methods and not be impressed. I’m surprised that the issues slipped past peer-review, but it isn’t perfect and these things happen.

      So far, all you have pointed to are “we found some tiny differences here” in the middle of a bunch of nonsignficant results that the authors have then tried to extrapolate well beyond the strength of the evidence.

  • The bug guy stated:

    “You were making the big deal about the citations in the papers, please don’t try to shift the goalposts.

    And yes, I am aware that citations are used for support in a paper. But when a manuscript cites a poor quality paper, it is often because the manuscript is of poor quality. And when you make a big deal about one paper citing the other, I was pointing out that once citing the other doesn’t make it good.

    H. Kuska reply: The following is where and when I brought up the topic of citations.

    March 27 9:40 am

    “If one follows the citations and the citations for the citations, etc. I would expect that you will see that this is a real “in progress” area of science.”

    March 27, 2:06 pm

    “The paper that he linked to was cited by 44 other papers.

    This appeared in the Discussion Section of one of the citing papers that directly relates to the “different paper” that was cited above:”

    March 27, 2:06 pm

    “I suggest that responders to this (any) thread where a particular reviewed scientific published paper is being discussed, if possible, first look at what the papers that cite the paper have to say and then link to the actual paper(s) that support their comments.”

    Your original citing quote

    “Somebody else citing a poor paper doesn’t improve the quality of the paper. It mostly means that the citing paper is most likely poor.”

    was posted at 4:53 pm on March 27. After the above 3 quotes of mine.

    • Exactly.

      And my position still stands, if someone cites a poor paper, then that manuscript itself is suspect.

      I simply used examples you provided.

      And you have shifted the discussion away from the lack of good evidence for homeopathy and onto my particular turn of phrase while addressing your claimed evidence.

      To expand on the links you provided, they do show the common problems with papers claimed to support homeopathy. Small sample sizes, weak statistical analysis, weak results, and conclusions not supported by the results.

      If you are trying to develop a grand hypothesis about how homeopathy works in extremely dilute solutions, don’t ignore the two out of three solutes tested that failed to produce any significant differences. Or ignore the single positive solute’s inconsistent results and lack of a dose response.

      • One might expect a paper discovering something previously unseen and at odds with all scientific thinking would be published in Nature or Science, or at least something with more impact than a mini cooper hitting an elephant.

  • The following was stated:

    “If you are trying to develop a grand hypothesis about how homeopathy works in extremely dilute solutions, don’t ignore the two out of three solutes tested that failed to produce any significant differences. Or ignore the single positive solute’s inconsistent results and lack of a dose response.”

    H.Kuska comment. Are we discussing the same paper “NMR relaxation evidence for solute-induced nanosized superstructures in ultramolecular aqueous dilutions of silica–lactose”?

    The 2 were controls.

    Lack of dose response?

    “No significant effect on relaxation times was
    induced by the iterative dilution/agitation process in pure water and salt controls. By contrast, a slight
    increase in T1 and decrease in T2 was observed with increasing dilution in silica–lactose solutions, resulting
    in a marked progressive increase in T1/T2, especially in LiCl medium, distinguishable up to the ultrahigh
    dilution level.”

    I am not trying to develop any hypothesis. The scientists working in the field are. I suggest that you do not utilize “If you are” type statements” I feel that they do not belong in a scientific discussion.

    Energy interactions between molecules and parts of molecules is a very interesting field. I worked in this area for a while with the PCILO method (for which my version was available from the Quantum Chemisrty Program Exchange). I also published some papers utilizing it. It would appear that it may be useful for someone to calculate the energy involved for these proposed clusters.

    • Slight correction, there were three solvent media tested with the same solute. As you can see in Table 1 only one, the Si-Li solution as a media, was significant. But, since homeopathy preparations are supposed to be made with pure water, even that doesn’t support homeopathy.

      In a quick look, I checked the wrong figure when I stated no relation, my mistake.

      But still, Figure 2 shows erratic results with some of the plotted lines not significant. It is not that hard to get a significant line fit from five or six data points. Again, the lack of r^2 values for the regression results is a problem. Looking at the small range on the Y-axes and the wide range of errors in the plotted points, those are not strong regressions.

      Oh, and when you do a regression on a ratio, if one of the value ranges (the T1 values at both dilution ranges of Si-Li) in the ratio is not significant, the significance of the ratio is also suspect.

      At best, this is a weak, preliminary result that needs a large amount of additional work to verify and back it up.

      One more thing, I also have a problem when authors try to point out “nearly significant” results. It is not significant. Period.

  • The following was stated: “pdiff
    March 27, 2011 at 9:42 pm ·

    “Experimental data that I’m aware of on algae support the mutation theory for several herbicides, including glyphosate”

    H. Kuska reply. Thank you for the informative link. I have no problem with the mutation theory for lethal doses. Which is what the paper discusses. The paper also alludes to the area of sub lethal doses, but does not cover that area.

    “However, adaptation includes different processes which are not usually discriminated; in particular, adaptation conferring resistance to herbicides can be achieved by three processes differing in some particular aspects (Fig. 1).
    Under toxic but sub-lethal doses of herbicides, adaptation could be supported by modification of gene expression occurring in a short time (days to weeks) and within one organism’s lifetime (i.e. physiological adaptation, also called acclimatization; Bradshaw & Hardwick, 1989); however, some evolutionary studies in bacteria (Cairns et al., 1988; Foster,
    2000; Roth et al., 2006) and yeasts (Heidenreich, 2007) have suggested that adaptive mutations could be a process resembling Lamarckism which, in the absence of lethal
    selection, produces mutations that relieve selective pressure.”

    I would like to see a paper that discusses the contribution, if any, of hormisis with low doses.

    It appears that the general area of sub lethal doses resistance is called “creeping resistance”.

    A Google Scholar search with the keywords “creeping resistance” and glyphosate gives 20 hits.

    • Interesting paper, Henry. You will note, however, that the process is still selection over multiple generations. My point 2) above holds true. I will concede, however, that selection can happen at lower non-lethal concentrations.

      As a side note, take a look at the supplementary material, Figure S3. This shows a classic hormetic response at the lowest, non-zero dose. Also note that, from what I can tell, they conducted their selection at much higher doses (150 – 250 g/ha).

  • Hi, I am back. I am posting the references I said I would concerning fetal hypothyroidism, low level exposure to pesticides (umbrella term) and male reproductive effects caused by pesticides and other chemicals on the Forum under Animals. And I listed some more important observations after Chlorothalonil began being used in huge amounts. With regard to how resistance or other characteristics are passed on – has anyone considered epigenetics? With regard to how “homeopathic” substances can have an effect and what people think – there are a lot of things being discovered everyday – I think that when this is figured out by physicists, it will blow a lot of minds, based on my observations of effects on critters.

  • The following was stated:
    “Slight correction, there were three solvent media tested with the same solute. As you can see in Table 1 only one, the Si-Li solution as a media, was significant. But, since homeopathy preparations are supposed to be made with pure water, even that doesn’t support homeopathy.”

    H.Kuska reply: Table 1 is part of the “work up” not a conclusion.

    This is the section that I feel is pertinent:
    “For Sil/Lac in saline, similar variations were observed, nearly
    significant for T1 (p=0.057; Table 1, Fig. 2) and only as a trend for T2 (Fig. 2), probably due to the larger scatter of values; but the T1/T2 ratio increased significantly (p=0.036), and its slope as a function of dilution remained significant up to the C9–C21 range. Sil/Lac in water (not represented) exhibited trends similar to SL-Sal, but without significant increase in the T1/T2 ratio. However, a very significant correlation was found between the relaxation times of Sil/Lac in water and those of Sil/Lac in saline for the same dilution levels (p=0.001), which did persist in the C9–C21 and C12–C21 ranges (Table 3 and Fig. 4). Such a correlation was absent between pure water and saline. This noteworthy observation suggests that the presence of Sil/Lac affects the relaxation of water and saline in a similar manner, and that this modification remains detectable in the ultrahigh range of dilution.”

    Since the editor allowed this statement and since I am impressed with the thoroughness of the author’s discussion, I am willing to accept that this was/is a “noteworthy observation”.

    • Your quote shows how the authors were fishing for anything to say.

      For Sil/Lac in saline, similar variations were observed, nearly significant for T1 (p=0.057; Table 1, Fig. 2) and only as a trend for T2 (Fig. 2), probably due to the larger scatter of values; but the T1/T2 ratio increased significantly (p=0.036), and its slope as a function of dilution remained significant up to the C9–C21 range.

      “Nearly significant and “as a trend” are not significant. The P value for the ratio was rather weak (especially for 5-6 point regressions) and even the authors admit that it was significant for only a part of the range. Plus, as I mentioned, when the trends used to calculate a ratio are not significant, the trend from that ratio is suspect.

      Sil/Lac in water (not represented) exhibited trends similar to SL-Sal, but without significant increase in the T1/T2 ratio.

      Not significant means not significant. That means the result is indistinguishable from random chance.

      However, a very significant correlation was found between the relaxation times of Sil/Lac in water and those of Sil/Lac in saline for the same dilution levels (p=0.001), which did persist in the C9–C21 and C12–C21 ranges (Table 3 and Fig. 4). Such a correlation was absent between pure water and saline. This noteworthy observation suggests that the presence of Sil/Lac affects the relaxation of water and saline in a similar manner, and that this modification remains detectable in the ultrahigh range of dilution.

      So, this big significant results actually is directly contradictory to homeopathy since the effect could not be detected in plain water, which is what is used for homeopathic preparations.

      Since the editor allowed this statement and since I am impressed with the thoroughness of the author’s discussion, I am willing to accept that this was/is a “noteworthy observation”.

      It’s not really the editor’s job to make such judgments. Meanwhile, I was not impressed by the discussion and I didn’t find it thorough.

  • Some of what H. Kuska is over my head. What I have observed is that when I give a tablet of Bioplasma with saline electrolytes, the positive effects are observably much greater, leading me to my hypothesis that the homeopathic cell salts are a very effective electrolyte. If the negatively charged crystalline structures the scientists said were formed, go into the cells, then the cells would be able to actively transport positively charged minerals needed by the cells, like calcium, across the cell walls much faster and more efficiently. That would result in the cells working at a more optimum level and the cells, including the immune system cells would be able to do their jobs much better, especially when antibiotics are also given for infections – as I and other rehabbers have observed. Or the calcium would go to the cells repairing a broken bone as fast as the calcium molecules are needed, resulting in the faster healing time I have observed on so many animals, including humans. That way the cells themselves “cure” the problem and much more quickly than without the homeopathic cell salts. The homeopathic cell salts do not “cure” the problem. If the cells are unable to fix whatever is wrong, even with stimulation by the electrolyte combination (saline solution plus the Bioplasma/Calc. Phos. tablets), the problem does not get “cured” no matter how many cell salts/electrolytes are given. Cancer is a prime example. I could not make advanced throat/facial cancer tumors on any of the birds with that problem go away by giving the electrolyte combination. One can always hope though.

    Regarding this statement, “One might expect a paper discovering something previously unseen and at odds with all scientific thinking would be published in Nature or Science, or at least something with more impact than a mini cooper hitting an elephant.”

    I have discovered how to make newborn animals with underdeveloped facial bones grow to normal. No one believes it, so would not publish my case studies. I have documented underbite on multiple species for 15 years, now over 50% on all ruminant species examined. When we tried to publish in Nature, they said it wasn’t of interest to their readers.

    We tried to get the white-tailed deer genitalia study published in a U.S. journal – they wanted us to pay them thousands of dollars to publish it – didn’t have that kind of money – study was done as a public service to save the wildlife. We published in a less expensive international journal.

    I totally agree – I would think at least some of what we have found would be of interest to anyone who is alive, has children, likes to hunt and fish or watch wildlife or wants life as we know it to continue on the planet.

    • Per page charges are fairly standard in academic journals. They are normally paid by sponsoring institutions.

      Have you tried getting funding from some environmental organizations?

    • I have discovered how to make newborn animals with underdeveloped facial bones grow to normal. No one believes it, so would not publish my case studies. I have documented underbite on multiple species for 15 years, now over 50% on all ruminant species examined. When we tried to publish in Nature, they said it wasn’t of interest to their readers.

      You don’t do blinded studies – therefore you don’t have even the remotest chance of being published in any (reputable)journal regarding the effects of homeopathic salts – H.Kuska’s post detailing the duties of a peer reviewer would be sufficient to demonstrate this – claiming medicinal type effects without providing a blinded study in which these effects can be observed is a scientific non-starter.

      If the negatively charged crystalline structures the scientists said were formed, go into the cells, then the cells would be able to actively transport positively charged minerals needed by the cells, like calcium, across the cell walls much faster and more efficiently.

      To induce any great changes these negatively charged structures would have to be enormously negatively charged, which would rather raise the question as to why they had never been observed before, this also works under the rather bizarre assumption that cells can’t potentialize their membranes for optimum uptake of minerals (and what if they needed negatively charged ions I wonder – wouldn’t adding all that negative charge impact this?) by themselves – which is a rather bold claim in and of itself.

      My comment was more aimed at the article Henry brought up however – it appears to be claiming to have discovered a hitherto unknown phenomenon which is utterly unexpected, it is therefore rather surprising that it turns up in a journal with no real impact factor at all – well, it would be surprising if the results could be at all trusted, but I figure they cant – not unlike earlier bold claims articles linked to previously (the one in question was from whatever journal my colleague guessed with no prompting and was quoted as calling ‘crap’ and something that thankfully he’d never had to stoop to in order to get a publication) – work discovering something like that might, I guess, not make it into Science or Nature, but if the results are meaningful (and I think the bug guy dissects rather well why they are not – trends and almost significances are stock and trade of people who can’t get results but truly believe in their ideas regardless) they should make it into a respected journal – I’m going to assume that an imapct factor between 1 and 2 suggests a journal that isn’t exactly top of everyone’s “to read” list even in the actual field of interest.

  • the bug guy stated on March 28, 2011 at 9:33 am :

    “So, this big significant results actually is directly contradictory to homeopathy since the effect could not be detected in plain water, which is what is used for homeopathic preparations.”

    H. Kuska comment. Why would you expect to see an effect in pure water?

    “Such a correlation was absent between pure water and saline.”

    Concerning the statement: “It’s not really the editor’s job to make such judgments.”

    Here are the instructions for this journal:

    Referee reports
    Referees are asked to evaluate whether the manuscript :

    • Is original

    • Is methodologically sound

    • Follows appropriate ethical guidelines

    • Has results which are clearly presented and support the conclusions

    • Correctly references previous relevant work

    Referees are not expected to correct or copyedit manuscripts. Language correction is not part of the peer review process.

    To me this indicates that these are the criteria that the editor will use in requesting/requiring revision and/or rejecting a manuscript.

    • H. Kuska comment. Why would you expect to see an effect in pure water?

      If this paper is being used as evidence for homeopathy, then it should demonstrate an effect under the same conditions that homeopathic remedies are made. Homeopathic dilution and succussion is done with plain (usually distilled) water.

      Here are the instructions for this journal:

      Referee reports
      Referees are asked to evaluate whether the manuscript :

      • Is original

      • Is methodologically sound

      • Follows appropriate ethical guidelines

      • Has results which are clearly presented and support the conclusions

      • Correctly references previous relevant work

      Referees are not expected to correct or copyedit manuscripts. Language correction is not part of the peer review process.

      To me this indicates that these are the criteria that the editor will use in requesting/requiring revision and/or rejecting a manuscript.

      Exactly. It is not the editor’s job to determine if the study is right, but to make sure that they follow the above guidelines, which the paper does.

      An author can fully follow the guidelines and still have a faulty paper. Even with my objections to the manuscript, if I had been a reviewer, I would’ve given my comments above with the recommendation, “accept with major revision.” There is adequate work there for it to be published and to stand or fall on its merits.

  • I forgot to post two very important references on the Forum, but they are also pertinent here, that is if you like children.

    References for effects of low doses of pesticides on children.

    Weiss, B., Amler, S. & Amler, R. W. 2004. Pesticides, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS, “Pediatrics” 113: 1030-1036 April.

    Ontario College of Family Physicians. 2004. ()

    Response to Bug Guy,
    Conservation Organizations would not touch developmental malformations – asked all I could find, local and national. Don’t have a sponsoring institution, not connected to one, except for working with scientists at Indiana University. University of Montana, supposedly one of the top wildlife research institutions in the nation would not do anything because of politics and funding by state. Almost every individual connected with media or who had a government job, who tried to do something to publicize the problem or have it addressed had a different job within a couple of months. I really feel guilty about that.

  • 2nd try

    References for effects of low doses of pesticides on children.
    Ontario College of Family Physicians. 2004.
    http://www.ocfp.on.ca/English/OCFP

    Weiss, B., Amler, S. & Amler, R. W. 2004. Pesticides, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS “Pediatrics” 113: 1030-1036 April. pedsinreview.aappublications.org/cgi/collection/substance_abuse?page=3

    /Communications/CurrentIssues/Pesticides/default.asp?s=1

  • The statement was made: “Author: the bug guy
    Comment:

    H. Kuska comment. Why would you expect to see an effect in pure water?

    the bug guy stated:

    If this paper is being used as evidence for homeopathy, then it should demonstrate an effect under the same conditions that homeopathic remedies are made. Homeopathic dilution and succussion is done with plain (usually distilled) water.

    H.Kuska comment. This is what was stated:

    “However, a very significant correlation was found between the relaxation times of Sil/Lac in water and those of Sil/Lac in saline for the same dilution levels (p=0.001), which did persist in the C9–C21 and C12–C21 ranges (Table 3 and Fig. 4). Such a correlation was absent between pure water and saline.”

    Can anyone else explain what they think this means?

    • H.Kuska comment. This is what was stated:

      “However, a very significant correlation was found between the relaxation times of Sil/Lac in water and those of Sil/Lac in saline for the same dilution levels (p=0.001), which did persist in the C9–C21 and C12–C21 ranges (Table 3 and Fig. 4). Such a correlation was absent between pure water and saline.”

      Can anyone else explain what they think this means?

      Not much, considering that both of those solutions were not significantly different from their controls under direct examination.

      To me, that looks like an example of data mining. Their primary test failed, so they started looking for any relationships they could find that would hit the 5% level.

      Let us take a look at this. For both the plain water and saline solutions, no significant differences were detected (Table 1) for T1, T2 and the ratio. Especially for plain water, where the authors couldn’t even mention “near significance.” If this was going to be good evidence for homeopathy, that should’ve been significant. Even with the T1-T2 relationship in Table 3, since the final result was still nonsignificant from controls in Table 1, it has little relevance.

      Finally, I find it odd that the authors mentioned preforming t-tests in the methods, but don’t present them in the results or discussion.

  • The comment was made: ” pdiff March 28, 2011 at 9:49 am · Reply

    “………. that selection can happen at lower non-lethal concentrations.”

    H.Kuska comment: I wonder if we should be running to the Patent Office with a new method of introducing glyphosate resistance in food crops by sub lethal screening. (Let Nature do the work).

  • Regarding the journal Journal of Plant Nutrition that Ewan’s friend called “crap” (in another thread).

    One of the authors is a USDA scientist. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research Unit, Columbia, Missouri, USA

    The impact values and ranking are:

    2009 Impact Factor: 0.512
    Ranking: 141/172 (Plant Sciences)
    2009 5-Year Impact Factor: 0.868
    Ranking: 66/172 (Plant Sciences)

    • Out of interest Henry, how would you rate a 0.512 impact factor?

      On selection happening at non-lethal concentrations – I would have actually been pretty surprised to see selection occuring at lethal concentrations, what with them being lethal and all – it seems to me far more likely that a plant would have a mutation which allowed it to reproduce better under relatively low herbicide application than one which instantly gave it full resistance – glyphosate is interesting (as Henry earlier points out) in that the dose response is a little odd when looked at in terms of growth – as far as I’m aware (and this is a little speculative on my part, and my impact factor is a lot lower than even crappy journals…) what happens is that some glyphosate interrupts the production of aromatic AAs – as we all know IAA is made from aromatic AAs and IAA is a pretty powerful plant hormone – you knock it out even briefly and all of a sudden you no longer have apical dominance (amongst other things) which will tend (if I remember plant biology 102, and I rarely do) to increase bushiness and therefore biomass – although given that it drastically alters plant physiology and morphology this likely reduces fitness (as any random change to how a plant works is likely to do) – therefore it is likely that propensity to tolerate glyphosate could be selected for gradually (and we all love gradualnessitude in selection) on the edges of fields (which is why we also all love precision spraying)

      Should we all rush to the patent office about selecting for herbicide resistance by spraying sub-lethal quantities on crops? I doubt it – it is in legal parlance obvious – and has also been discussed here, on a public forum, in detail – meaning you’d have a real hard job getting the patent unless it is already filed. It would however, probably work, eventually, given enough time and space and whatnot. Just make sure you’re spraying brand name roundup rather than a generic – it does my retirement fund more good.

      Also I wonder how much utility there is in discussing methods by which homeopathy could conceivably work (even if not directly related) when it has been shown in double blinded studies that it doesn’t work.

      • as we all know IAA is made from aromatic AAs and IAA is a pretty powerful plant hormone – you knock it out even briefly and all of a sudden you no longer have apical dominance

        Funny you mention that as I was just looking at an article talking about using glyphosate at low rates for early harvesting of sugarcane. Apical dominance goes and you get a big boost in sugar before harvest. Never knew that was done commercially.

  • The statement was made: “Finally, I find it odd that the authors mentioned preforming t-tests in the methods, but don’t present them in the results or discussion.”

    H. Kuska comment: I do not know what is happening today regarding complete presentation of supporting statistical data. In my day authors could sometimes provide this type of additional information to the editor for examination by one or more of the reviewers either on their own or by request. Sometimes there would be a note that additional data were available by request or in a repository.

    (An almost always comment by Editors in my day was a request to shorten the paper. We had a joke to add something for the editor to cut out so he/she could feel that he/she was doing his/her job.)

  • he following was asked by Ewan R on March 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm:

    “Out of interest Henry, how would you rate a 0.512 impact factor?”

    HKuska comment: I gave both the 1 year and 5 year information. The rankings were 18 % for 1 year and 61.6 % for 5 years. I assume that a 5 year average is more meaningful. If one year was only 18 % there must of been at least one year above the 61.6 % 5 year value. If above average (61.6 %) is “crap”, I have to wonder about the field. (Maybe this has to do with a definition problem, fertilizer?)

    • The impact factors are on a scale where even relatively non-impressive wossnames like PLoS One score greater than 5 (if I remember right – I may come and correct myself later) – big name publications score higher yet – 0.5 to 1 is barely registering as far as I can tell.

      I’m going to go by the word of a researcher who spent the better part of a decade working on plant nutrition and being published in journals that were considered worthwhile – the percentages don’t necessarily reflect anything other than a poor field – I’m pretty sure I could rank in the top 5 in a 10k run pretty easily if the competition were all toddlers – that doesn’t make me a long distance runner however.

  • The following was stated in the original article by Anastasia Bodnar on 27 February 2011:

    reputable journals for his field, including Phytopathology as recently as 2007 which has an impact factor of 2.2 (out of 5) according to Journal Citation Reports (not great, but not bad, either).

    Where does the “out of five” come from?

    it is a measure of the frequency with which the “average article” in a journal has been cited in a given period of time.”

    • There is a considerable amount of criticism about Impact Factors. One of the major ones is that it is biased against specialty publications

      Impact Factor is not scaled to 5, since journals like Nature and Science have IPs around 30.

      • Referencing IPs for the major journals of the Entomological Society of America (1 yr/5 yr):
        Environmental Entomology: 1.154/1.449
        Journal of Economic Entomology: 1.296/1.577
        Journal of Medical Entomology: 1.921/2.215
        Annals of the ESA: 0.939/1.257

        Also another journal I regularly follow:
        Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association: 0.906/1.033

        These are the primary entomology journals in the United States.

        • I guess one has to take into account also somewhat the landscape – looking at agronomy, plant science and ecology (which is where I’d assume the authors of the paper we’re discussing kinda sideways here would fall) you’re landing slap dab at number 275 in terms of impact value, 367 if you include horticulture and soil science.

          To return to the topic of interest the journal of molecular liquids ranks 96/137 journals in its category(s) – which seems a mighty strange place to be publishing results which if correct overturn a lot of what we understand about reality.

          In the first instance it is probably not such a massive deal that the journal selected for publishing isn’t right up in the top tiers – the results aren’t game changers, the number of journals focusing on plant nutrition are probably a lot smaller than the list I pulled – although it does amuse me that all I had to do was explain the experimental setup and a veteran of plant nutrition studies guessed the journal – in the second instance it is a big deal – when apparently groundbreaking work is in a lower tiered journal that is, to me, pretty suspicious.

          (on a side note for tbg – entomology journals appear to hit impact scores in the range you’ve cited by the 2nd page, so the figures you quote still put those journals in the top 50% – again reinforcing that you have to know the territory as well as the absolute score before making an assessment (and taking into account that these scores aren’t, as you pointed out, the be all and end all – I’d take the word of a specialist in whichever field to point out which are the prestige journals and which are crap over the scores – but without any experts in the field on either count at the moment the scores are the only surrogate we have (well other than professionals in the field who I’ve spoken with directly as already mentioned, shame about confidentiality and all that jazz)

  • The following was stated:

    “One more thing, I also have a problem when authors try to point out “nearly significant” results. It is not significant. Period.”

    H.Kuska comment: statistics are not governed by something like a tangent function where a infinite small change changes your value from minus infinity to positive infinity. i.e. a p equal to or less than .05 being called significant and p> .05 being called not significant is just a convenient marker for the 95 % probability. Other areas may require P < .001.

    I assume that everyone can recognize that a P=.046 and a p=.044 are essentially talking about the same probability (particularly in smaller data sets) even though a canned computer program may round off and say one is significant and one is not.

    http://www.jerrydallal.com/LHSP/p05.htm

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/119/3/608

    http://www.facs.org/education/rap/schmitz0207.html

    • What is normal in physical chemistry for an exciting p-value?

      Generally in plant sciences you’ve got so much variation going on that 0.05 is a decent cutoff – as far as I’ve seen medical type stuff requires far more stringent values like .01 or .001 even – I would have thought (perhaps wrongly) that for effects which have far lower variability you’d generally only get excited about results that showed pretty high significance – pdiff can probably weigh in a little more cogently on the nature of p-values, variation and effect size.

  • The following was stated by Ewan R on March 29, 2011 at 7:51 am :

    “To return to the topic of interest the journal of molecular liquids ranks 96/137 journals in its category(s) – which seems a mighty strange place to be publishing results which if correct overturn a lot of what we understand about reality.”

    H.Kuska comment: If one is submitting a highly technical specialized paper, I feel that it is completely logical to submit it to a journal that has an editor and reviewers that can evaluate it on its technical merits. The following is the journal description:

    The journal includes papers in the following areas:
    – simple organic liquids and mixtures
    – ionic liquids
    – surfactant solutions (including micelles and vesicles) and liquid interfaces
    – colloidal solutions and nanoparticles
    – thermotropic and lyotropic liquid crystals
    – ferrofluids
    – water, aqueous solutions and other hydrogen-bonded liquids
    – lubricants, polymer solutions and melts
    – molten metals and salts
    – phase transitions and critical phenomena in liquids and confined fluids
    – self assembly in complex liquids.

    The emphasis is on the molecular (or microscopic) understanding of particular liquids or liquid systems, especially concerning structure, dynamics and intermolecular forces. The experimental techniques used may include:
    – Conventional spectroscopy (mid-IR and far-IR, Raman, NMR, etc.)
    – Non-linear optics and time resolved spectroscopy (psec, fsec, asec, ISRS, etc.)
    – Light scattering (Rayleigh, Brillouin, PCS, etc.)
    – Dielectric relaxation
    – X-ray and neutron scattering and diffraction.

    Experimental studies, computer simulations (MD or MC) and analytical theory will be considered for publication; papers just reporting experimental results that do not contribute to the understanding of the fundamentals of molecular and ionic liquids will not be accepted.

    Concerning the quoted

    “96/137 journals in its category(s)”

    no reference was given. I will be very surprised if there are 137 journals with their main emphasis similar to what I have cited above (in particular things like “self assembly in complex liquids” and other areas that are close to this study.

    • Sorry Henry – Categories listed in the entry on Web of Science – off the top of my head I believe these were:-

      Chemistry, Physical
      Physics – molecular (and something else)

      I still contend that a discovery which is starkly at odds with what we know about dilutions etc, if supported by the evidence provided, belongs in a journal of somewhat higher standing – perhaps not nature or science but at least whatever the Physical chemist’s equivalent to Plant Cell or whatever is (I’m sure you’d be far more conversant in what the leading physical chemisty journals are than I am, but hopefully you get the picture)

      • Where something is published is a very bad (and completely non-scientific) way of evaluating its scientific merit.

        If you can’t evaluate the scientific merit of something without knowing where it is published, you shouldn’t be trying to evaluate it in the first place.

        You need to default to the only scientific position you can have without understanding the science, that of “I don’t know”.

        • daedalus2u,

          Admittedly there is something about referring to publication in a prestigious, peer-reviewed journal that smacks of the “appeal to authority” fallacy. Except for the fact that this is more than your garden-variety authority.

          And many of us are not in a position to replicate the experiments involved — the ultimate proof — so authority is about as good as it gets.

          Being an authority yourself helps.

        • I disagree on topics which apparently go against the grain or uncover new evidence (apparently the paper under discussion isn’t doing that (see Henry below) and so I’ll happily admit that I’m off track there – although as far as I am aware this isn’t widely known knowledge and I’d be interested if Henry could provide publicly accessible material (I couldn’t get past the abstract of the first piece and was relying on tbg’s analysis – given the p-values under discussion and the conclusions drawn I’d still assume that the choice of journal was more down to findign someone who would publish rather than going to the best place to put such knowledge) detailing these effects – given however that for the other journal, which I commented on extensively – and is in an area I am familiar with – a colleague could guess by the poor trial design and whacky results precisely which journal it was in your point doesn’t really stand – if people in the field can guess the journal that a bad study is in then it stands to reason to be automatically distrustful of fanciful claims made in that journal – of course one should still look at the article in question (assuming it ain’t behind a paywall).

  • The following was stated: by Ewan R on March 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    “I still contend that a discovery which is starkly at odds with what we know about dilutions etc, if supported by the evidence provided, belongs in a journal of somewhat higher standing – perhaps not nature or science but at least whatever the Physical chemist’s equivalent to Plant Cell or whatever is (I’m sure you’d be far more conversant in what the leading physical chemisty journals are than I am, but hopefully you get the picture).”

    H.Kuska comment. regarding

    “starkly at odds with what we know about dilutions etc,”

    Have you read the paper?

    “For nearly 20 years we have been studying by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) ultrahighly diluted aqueous dilutions and managed to show solute-induced modifications in the water proton relaxation, ……….”Therefore, the present study has been designed to replicate at 20 MHz the results obtained in the 0.02–4 MHz NMRD study, and to focus on the role of leached silica and of the ionic medium, by preparing a set of samples in polyethylene vessel with 0.15 M lithium chloride as solvent.”

    This is a follow up study to earlier studies to clean up some of the remaining questions.

    • Look at the topic of the post. If the comment you want to share isn’t related to the topic of the post, then the forum or another post might be a more appropriate place for it. If you’d like to submit a whole new post about another subject, that’s another option, you can find details here.

      Coincidentally, I was just discussing this on Twitter today, starting with this question with the very intent of discussing the problem of using RR corn and RR soy. I’d be happy to discuss this issue in the forum if you are interested.

  • Hi, I posted answers on the Forum to some questions posed on the Forum about the connection between Chlorothalonil and observed problems in vertebrate and insect populations. No one has said anything about the references I found for studies and reviews that say very low levels of pesticides are dangerous to fetuses and children. Or as the Canadian doctors’ review put it “there is no safe level of pesticides for children.” I would think that would likely be true concerning other developing fetuses and young.

    • Jonathan

      “there is no safe level of pesticides for children”

      Completely idiotic statement and typical of the current lack of understanding of agricultural practices and risk assessment among the masses. The doctors who wrote it should be ashamed. All chemicals whether pesticides or not have a relative toxicity. And exposure also has to be considered. How about sulphur? Registered as a fungicide in most countries around the world. Are you telling me 0.01 ug/kg residue of sulphur on an apple for example isn’t safe. There’s more natural sulphur than that in the same fruit.

      This is an extreme example I admit but there is a sliding scale from this all the way up to a mouthful of DDT every day of your life. Up to a certain point on that scale the harm the pesticide will do to you is less that the harm everything else in day to day life is doing and you’ll die of old age before any effect could be seen.

      Hazard based risk assessments for any chemical are completely pointless. Coffee contains hundreds of carcinogens at concentrations way above pesticide residues in food. And that’s just the chemicals we know about. No-one ever suggests banning coffee on a hazard based assessment or that we don’t know enough about the synergistic toxicities of all these known/unknown coffee chemicals on humans. Instead a sensible risk based approach is used and we all agree that we’re safe.

      Jonathan

      PS How many posts since anyone mentioned Prof Huber. Has he come out and admitted it was all a big joke yet?

  • This link is to a summary of Dr. Huber’s recent talk in Nebraska. http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/13021-a-hubergmoroundup-update

    In the talk he discussed Parkinson’s disease. In case you are not aware of this aspect of glyphosate, I suggest a Google Scholar search using the keywords “parkinson’s disease” (with quotes) and glyphosate

    Particulary an “in press” paper http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuro.2011.02.002

    (Please cite this article in press as: Negga R ,etal. Exposure to Mn/Zn ethylene-bis-dithiocarbamate and glyphosate pesticides leads to neurodegeneration in Caenorhabditis elegans.
    Neurotoxicology(2011),doi:10.1016/j.neuro.2011.02.002)

    Apparently this nematode is considered a good test system for Parkinsons studies. The abstract is quite technical. I have the full paper, but I cannot distribute an “in-press” paper. I could not find simple sections to cut and paste in order to make the results clearer.

    The following is listed as the funding source:

    “This work was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences[R15ES015628 to VF]and by the Appalachian College Association Colonel Lee B.Ledford
    Endowment Fund[to R.N.,D.R.,N.D.,A.J.andV.F.].”

    For Ewan, the description of the journal is given in the link given here.

    5 year inpact factor 3.126

    • Ewan R

      So unprotected organisms are susceptible to surfactants.

      Not really surprising or particularly meaningful when compared to organisms which have protection from surfactants (skin)

      More meaningfully studies have been conducted to look at actual relationships in humans between application of various pesticides and incidence of parkinsons disease -

      Here for instance

      Where an odds ratio of 1.0 and 1.1 is given for glyphosate use for parkinsons or incipient parkinsons respectively (ie doesn’t increase risk whatsoever) – it is noteworthy that not all herbicides were indicative of zero risk, which suggests to me that being anti-glyphosate/roundup because of PD risk only makes sense if you’re pro-PD.

      Looking at the rest of the literature it does appear that some herbicides (notably paraquat) do seem to have an actual correlation between use and parkinsons as well as a described mechanism by which they could cause the disease and by which they would make it into the effected tissue.

      • Ewan has posted a study that looked at farmers and their spouses:

        Cohort members, who were enrolled in 1993–1997, provided detailed information on lifetime pesticide
        use. At follow-up in 1999–2003, 68% of the cohort was interviewed. Cases were defined as participants who
        reported physician-diagnosed PD at enrollment (prevalent cases, n = 83) or follow-up (incident cases, n = 78).

        and then was published in 2006.

        The study showed that 45 farmers or spouses of that period who had been exposed to Glyphosate had physician-diagnosed PD at enrollment (out of the 83 total that had physician-diagnosed PD at enrollment 1993–1997), and that an additional 49 farmers or spouses had Parkinson’s out of the additional 78 cases reported in the 1999-2003 follow-up.

        After the workup, the Odds Ratios (Table 4 )for glyphosate for the 2 groups were 1.0 and 1.1. Thus they could not pinpoint glyphosate as a cause of Parkinson’s.

        Now let us look at maneb/mancozeb (also Table 4) The odds ratios are also 1.0 and 1.1. THIS IS CONFUSING AS THESE ARE KNOWN CAUSES OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE.

        They then looked at those who completed a supplemental Applicator Questionnaire at enrollment. This information gave Odds Ratios of 1.5 and 2.1 for the 2 groups for the combined Maneb/Mancozeb class.

        Applicators who completed the supplemental Applicator
        Questionnaire provided additional information on some pesticides, including four implicated in PD in previous studies: dieldrin, maneb, paraquat, and rotenone (8–10). When information from the Enrollment and Applicator questionnaires was combined, odds ratios for prevalent PD were 1.3 for dieldrin, 1.5 for maneb/mancozeb, 1.8 for paraquat, and 1.7 for rotenone, and odds ratios for incident PD were 0.9 for dieldrin, 2.1 for maneb/mancozeb, and 1.4 for paraquat; only one incident case had used rotenone. These results were based on 4–10 exposed cases for each pesticide.

        Four pesticides have previously been implicated in the etiology of PD: dieldrin, maneb, paraquat, and rotenone (8–10). We found associations of all four with prevalent PD and of maneb/mancozeb and paraquat with incident PD in the subset of applicators who completed the supplemental Applicator Questionnaire at enrollment. However, only an association of paraquat with prevalent PD was seen in the complete cohort.

        Thus, the situation was too complex to identify either glyphosate or maneb/mancozeb in the complete cohort.

  • Thank you Henry K. That article was extremely interesting. Are there any thoughts on whether there could be a connection between what Dr. Huber has found regarding the new pathogen and the widespread symptoms of fetal hypothyroidism in wild and domestic animals? I have long suspected a glyphosate impact because there is so much used here, but could not find a connection to fetal hypothyroidism, since glyphosate disrupts the retinoic acid, and not thyroid hormones, or at least according to studies I have found. The severe symptoms of fetal hypothyroidism, including spontaneous abortion, premature birth, major developmental malformations and a possible prevalence for cancer and other health problems began here in spring of 1995, but the mothers had to be exposed in 1994, after their normal young were born in spring of 1994. Is there any connection that anyone knows to GMO crops or glyphosate and something new happening in summer of 1994? According to Dr. Huber, speaking about the pathogen, “It could also, and apparently already is, he said, compromising the health and well-being of animals and humans.” Something certainly is. Could the pathogen itself somehow disrupt fetal thyroid hormone function? These are the questions I would like to see answered. Thank you again Henry K.

    • Title: The teratogenic potential of the herbicide glyphosate-Roundup in Wistar rats.

      Authors: Dallegrave, Eliane; Mantese, Fabiana DiGiorgio; Coelho, Ricardo Soares; Pereira, Janaina Drawans; Dalsenter, Paulo Roberto; Langeloh, Augusto.

      Authors affiliation: Instituto de Ciencias Basicas da Saude, Department of Pharmacology, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.

      Published in: Toxicology Letters (2003), 142(1-2), pages 45-52.

      Abstract: “The aim of this study was to assess the teratogenicity of the herbicide glyphosate-Roundup (as commercialized in Brazil) to Wistar rats. Dams were treated orally with water or 500, 750 or 1000 mg/kg glyphosate from day 6 to 15 of pregnancy. Cesarean sections were performed on day 21 of pregnancy, and no. of corpora lutea, implantation sites, living and dead fetuses, and resorptions were recorded. Wt. and gender of the fetuses were detd., and fetuses were examd. for external malformations and skeletal alterations. The organs of the dams were removed and weighed. Results showed a 50% mortality rate for dams treated with 1000 mg/kg glyphosate. Skeletal alterations were obsd. in 15.4, 33.1, 42.0 and 57.3% of fetuses from the control, 500, 750 and 1000 mg/kg glyphosate groups, resp. The authors conclude that glyphosate-Roundup is toxic to the dams and induces developmental retardation of the fetal skeleton.”

      Google Scholar gives 37 citations for the above paper including one 2011 (with a study of humans). Instead of just using the “anytime” choice, after the initial search of the citing papers, I like to use the “since 2011″ choice, than “since 2010″ choice, them “since 2009″ choice, etc.

      I do not have time now to look at the citing papers in detail.

      • Once again the surfactant is the culprit, and in quanitites that are utterly unexpected in humans. As the paper states in the conclusions.

        (This isn’t an unusual effect of feeding surfactants to rats – CTAB apparently does the same thing, as do some tweens and NPs (although not all, and I don’t understand surfactant chemistry well enough to know why exactly that would be))

        • As an aside apparently I have a comment that I made while not logged in which is hung in moderation – it’s to Henry’s parkinsons related post – I believe there is a single link hanging it up. (I now can’t see it, probably because I logged in)

        • This is the Conclusion section that Ewan is referring to:

          “The developmental retardations of the skeleton
          reported in the present study shows that the effect
          of glyphosate-Roundup† was more marked than
          that of technical glyphosate (WHO, 1994). The
          higher maternal toxicity reported here in comparison
          to that of technical glyphosate is probably
          related to the presence of other components in the
          commercial formulation, such as the surfactant
          polyoxyethyleneamine (Adam et al., 1997; Dallegrave
          et al., 2002). Despite the fact that the doses
          used in this study would never expected to
          correspond to human exposure levels under normal
          circumstances, as reported by Williams et al.
          (2000) for glyphosate and polyoxyethyleneamine in adults or children (margins of exposure/5420,
          3370 and 461 577, respectively), this results shows
          that the commercial formulation poses an increased
          potential risk for the rat skeletal system.
          To better understand this fact, additional studies
          should be carried out to determine the mechanisms
          of effects of the commercial formulation on the
          skeletal system of the fetuses, since humans are
          also potentially exposed to this commercial formulation.”

          H.Kuska comment: Thus they do not attribute the complete effect to the polyoxyethyleneamine It enhances the observed effects. This is not unusual as the polyoxyethyleneamine can help the glyphosate penetrate the rat’s defences.
          ————————–
          According to the following Monsanto paper tests with polyoxyethyleneamine alone found: “No developmental toxicity was observed in the studies with the surfactants”.

          Title: Developmental toxicity studies with glyphosate and selected surfactants in rats.
          Authors: FARMER, D.R., T.A KAEMPFE., W.F. HEYDENS, and W.R. KELCE

          Authors affiliation: Monsanto Company, St. Louis, Missouri.
          Published in: Teratology, 62,(6), page 446, (2000).

          Abstract: “Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide; it inhibits essential aromatic amino acid synthesis by blocking the activity of a plant specific enzyme. Glyphosate-based formulations are used in over 100 countries in virtually every phase of agricultural and residential weed control and are increasingly used in applications involving genetically modified plants tolerant to glyphosate. This expansive use necessitates a proactive product stewardship program ensuring a wide distribution of the health and safety information for glyphosate. To this end, the results from rat developmental toxicity studies with glyphosate and selected surfactants are presented. Glyphosate (98.7% pure) was administered by gavage to groups of 25 female CD rats at dose levels of 0, 300, 1000, and 3500 mg/kg/day on days 6 through 19 of gestation. Polyethoxylated tallowamine (POEA) and a phosphate ester neutralized POEA were administered by gavage to groups of 25 female CD rats at dose levels of 0, 15, 100 and 300 mg/kg/day and 0, 15, 50 and 150 mg/kg/day, respectively, on days 6 through 15 of gestation. Severe maternal toxicity, including decreased weight gain and mortality (6 of 25 dams), occurred at the excessive dosage of 3500 mg glyphosate/kg/ day and was accompanied by reduced fetal weights, viability, and ossification of sternebrae. The NOEL for maternal and developmental toxicity was 1000 mg/kg/day. No developmental toxicity was observed in the studies with the surfactants. Slight maternal toxicity (decreased food consumption and mild clinical signs) was observed at 100 mg POEA/kg/day. Mortality, clinical effects, and reduced food consumption and body weight gains were observed at the highest doses tested with POEA and the neutralized POEA; maternal NOELs were 15 and 150 mg/kg/day, respectively.”

          • Henry – your paper on toxicity states that 360g/L glyphosate was used with 18% w/v POEA.

            To achieve 1000mg/kg body weight one has to additionally give 500mg/kg POEA. To achieve 500 – 250mg/kg POEA – rates which only partically overlap the Monsanto study (to which I lack access – but it does appear in the review of safety “Safety Evaluation and Risk Assessment of the Herbicide Roundup and Its Active Ingredient, Glyphosate, for Humans” (sorry for lack of link – it wouldn’t work due to containing institutional info)that the conclusions were against developmental toxicity of POEA – this seems rather odd to me given that the NOAEL levels are less that 30mg/kg/day for POEA and that maternal toxicity is generally accompanied by fetal abnormalities to some degree (afaik at least) and that the Holson 1990 report suggests a NOEAL for developmental toxicity of 15mg/kg/day (sadly an unpublished report) – however on the weight of evidence provided I’ll back off from completely blaming the POEA and conclude that it does appear that at levels which are utterly unlikely to occur in humans there does seem to be a neffect of POEA which may be enhancing those effects seen at the 3500mg/kg/day level of glyphosate by increasing permeability – thanks for doing the extra legwork to correct that. (I wasn’t aware of the effects at such high doses on development, probably should have been given that I’ve read the paper multiple times, but I have the memory of a wossname)

            It would be prudent however to keep in mind that for a 15mg/kg/day exposure rate a small female (50kg) would have to be exposed to 750mg of POEA a day which would be the equivalent of drinking more than 3ml of concentrated roundup solution (the high % in the initial study) per day for multiple days during preganancy – which isn’t at all likely.

            • Ewan stated:

              “Henry – your paper on toxicity states that 360g/L glyphosate was used with 18% w/v POEA.”

              Yes, this was the stock (commercial) solution BEFORE dilution.

              “The Roundup† formulation (lot: BS 1096/98,
              Monsanto of Brazil) consisting of 360 g/l glyphosate
              (N-phosphonomethylglycine) and 18% (w/v)
              polyoxyethyleneamine (the surfactant) was used.
              The solutions of the Roundup† formulation were
              prepared by the addition of appropriate volumes
              of distilled water.”

              All dilutions were made from that. I do not see anywhere in the article (E. Dallegrave et al. / Toxicology Letters 142 (2003) pages 45-52) that they added additional POEA so I do not understand why you are stating the following:

              “To achieve 1000mg/kg body weight one has to additionally give 500mg/kg POEA. To achieve 500 – 250mg/kg POEA …..”.

              • The calculation is simple – if the commercial formulation is 360g/L (36%) and 18% POEA then there has to be 50% of the weight in POEA

                I think perhaps my wording was unclear – the additionally there simply means that in addition to 1000mg/kg glyphosate there is 500mg/kg POEA simply as a result – apologies for the lack of clarity.

                • Ewan, I was under the impression that the 1000mg was roundup formulation, not glyphosate. I don’t have the paper in front of me, but that’s what I recall. Do they say 1000mg/kg glyphosate?

                  • The control group
                    received distilled water and the experimental
                    groups received 500, 750 or 1000 mg/kg glyphosate-
                    Roundup† diluted in water. The dosing regimen
                    was based on no observed adverse effect level
                    (NOAEL) for developmental toxicity in rats
                    (maternal and fetal effects), which was 1000 mg/
                    kg glyphosate

                    To me this suggests dilutions were done such that there was 1000mg/kg glyphosate – it makes sense in that the POEA from this formulation will always scale in a 2:1 manner glyphosate:POEA – but you then have to take this into account when assessing the toxicological effects of POEA in the formulation – given that it has a far lower NOEAL (and apologies if I’m screwing up acronyms here – my box is so small that I can only see 75% of each line) one would expect to see toxic effects at far lower concentrations than the NAEOL of glyphosate alone (ie starting at around 30mg/kg/day if the POEA effect kicks in directly following the lowest NAEOL)

                  • I’m now looking at the paper and it is not clear to me. They reference their doses as diluted “glyphosate-Roundup”, which suggests formulation to me, then right after that, they say this is based on the previous work of “1000mg/kg glyphosate”, and site Williams, et al. Looking at Williams, they specifically state that when they say “glyphosate” they mean technical grade.

                    • 1000 mg/kg of the formulation wouldn’t really make much sense though – that’d only be 360mg/kg glyphosate which isn’t remotely in line with anything in the literature.

                    • Ok, I think I see what you are saying here and what they mean. So essentially, they used 1/360th of a liter of commercial Roundup. This gave them 1000mg of glyphosate. It also contained 500mg of POEA. When they say “1000mg/kg glyophsate-Roundup”, perhaps they mean 1000mg glyphosate as obtained from the Roundup formulation.

                    • Kinda – they make a solution whereby 10ml will contain 1000mg and then give the rats 10ml per kg by gavage – so I guess 2.7ml of commercial roundup made up to 10ml or scaled up and then gavaged to the rats by weight each day.

                    • :-) Yes, I understood that :-) . I should have said “conceptually” not “essentially“. 1/360th of a liter would be a good squirt for a rat. Reminds me of an insult we used to throw around as kids: “up your nose with a rubber hose”, rat! Which, in turn, reminds me why I did not go into the clinical/animal trial end of things.

    • Judy: Is there any connection that anyone knows to GMO crops or glyphosate and something new happening in summer of 1994?

      I suspect GM use in 94 was pretty minimal.

      • First wide scale use of GM crops was in 96 following commercialization of RR soy – GM crop use in 1994 is as close to zero as to be meaningless (field tests etc)

        • Jonathan

          So does that mean Judy’s latest attempt to try and implicate GM crops in some poorly characterised environmental problem has fallen flat. Don’t tell me, instead of looking for some other factor from ’94 that may be a cause of her observations she’ll move on to another unrelated statistic from ’96 that she can decide GM is the cause. Its the way the anti GM/antipesicide brigade works.

          Post hoc ad propter hoc-mining they should call it.

          Jonathan

          • Is Jonathan’s post going to be removed?

            • Jonathan

              Why? Unless offensive or threatening language was used I assumed we openly debated any contentious posts on Biofortified. I’ll repy to Judy directly if that’s Ok with you Henry.

              Jonathan

              • “Attacks: You may question or argue any ideas but comments that include personal attacks will be removed, and the author may be banned from posting additional comments.
                Conjecture: We aim for fact based discussion. Conjecture, nonsense, and conspiracy theories may be modified or deleted.”

                • I don’t see a personal attack. Perhaps you could elucidate.

                  • Conjecture:We aim for fact based

                    discussion. Conjecture, nonsense, and conspiracy
                    theories may be modified or deleted.”

                    • You honestly think that the content of Jonathan’s post is worthy of either deletion or modification?

                      If that’s the case we’d have to delete your phantom of the opera post given that it links to…

                      conjecture, nonsense and conspiracy theories.

                      I think however that would be a ridiculous enforcement of rules clearly set up to be used judiciously in cases where they’re obviously needed rather than willy nilly whenever the sensibilities of the overly sensitive are tickled.

                    • The Phantom of the Opera link links to two
                      letters that
                      Dr. Huber sent (the first with 20 citations to reviewed
                      scientific papers).

                      1. Letters from Prof Don Huber to US and EU administrations
                      2. Letter to Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack

                      Neither I nor the owners of the linked to web
                      page made any comments. The first letter
                      had not been introduced earlier in this thread.
                      The second was introduced in the original
                      article in this thread.

  • Just in case anyone’s interested, Dr. Huber is still singing the same song, apparently very convincingly (to some people, at least). See Latter-Day Luther Nails Troubling Thesis to GM Farm & Food Citadels. I don’t have the energy to point out the issues in this piece, maybe someone else wants to?

  • Ewan R, thank you for the interesting post and answer to my question. As I said, I can find no connection time-wise or symptom-wise to glyphosate, a retinoic acid disruptor, not a thyroid hormone disruptor in animals, so glyphosate is innocent unless someday proven guilty by new studies by someone. One thing glyphosate apparently does according to the article by Dr. Huber, is “it is also a strong immobilizer (chelator) of essential plant nutrients to impair nutrient uptake, translocation, and physiological efficiency at only a fraction of the labeled herbicidal rate (Ekers, Ozturk, Cakmak, Zobiole, Jolly et al., 2004). Glyphosate is a powerful biocide to harm beneficial soil organisms important for nutrient recycling, N-fixation, nutrient availability, and natural disease control (Kremer & Means, Zobiole et al, Dick et al).” Unless this affect on plants could cause fairly serious malnutrition in the animals eating the plants, I can still find zero connection between glyphosate and the increasing symptoms consistent with fetal hypothyroidism in ruminants, birds, rodents and other animals. I did say the three major factors in causing fetal hypothyroidism according to the studies I could find, are radiation, malnutrition and exposure to thyroid hormone disrupting chemicals and it appears likely that all three factors are involved. One of the symptoms, brachygnathia superior and resultant underbite causes malnutrition, as I think I said on the Forum, thus pregnant females of wild grazing animals with underbite would consequently be very likely to be undernourished. Therefore, one of the symptoms of fetal hypothyroidism in one generation is a likely cause of it in the next generation.

    Jonathan, I thought I explained the symptoms of fetal hypothyroidism fairly well and listed some references on the Forum for studies of fetal hypothyroidism which also described the symptoms at great length and/or listed them, so what exactly do you mean by this statement, “poorly characterised environmental problem?” I do not know where you live, but I am fairly certain that if you would go out to where goats, cattle, horses, llamas or other grazing animals are raised and look at their bite, you would find quite a few with underbite because of underdeveloped upper jaw bones. Or you could go to a taxidermy shop and look at newly killed big game animal heads in the fall when hunting season is on. Just because I am inept doesn’t mean there isn’t a serious environmental problem. I am not antipesticide, I am against unnecessarily killing and/or maiming baby animals during development.

    • Jonathan

      Sorry I was blunt Judy. Its just assumptions and preconceived ideas have no place in diagnosis of any problem, illness or scientific debate. By ‘poorly characterised’ I meant the cause of what is being observed is poorly characterised. If the problem started in 1994/95 GM cannot be implicated and probably not glyphosate either.

      I stand by my assertion that a wide range of environmental campaigners around the world constantly make assumptions based on post hoc fallacies and in fact go out of their way to find correlations to base such assumptions on.

      Have you now dismissed GMOs/glyphosate from your list of possible causes of hypothyroidism now it is clear it is a problem that began before GM was introduced and at a time when glyphosate was used on a much smaller scale from that presently found? Or is that a line of enquiry you will return to if correlations after GMOs were introduced can be found?
      Jonathan

    • I did say the three major factors in causing fetal hypothyroidism according to the studies I could find, are radiation, malnutrition and exposure to thyroid hormone disrupting chemicals

      Have you checked the nutritional status of local deer? Given that skewed sex ratio towards males is indicative of malnutrition (detailed on the forum post) whereas as pdiff points out hormonal disruption skews towards females it would appear that by simple application of Occam’s razor you’d have to go with malnutrition as your culprit until more convincing evidence than has been provided was available.

      At present I’d no more trust Dr Huber on matters of reality than I’d trust Ken Ham on the coexistance of humans and dinosaurs (as traditionally thought of and not the colorful little songsters we know and love today) – his claims on plant disease prevelance and new organisms have apparently zero basis in reality (the first because other plant disease specialists are completely baffled by his claim, the second because he describes an organism that cannot possibly exist (I’m rather concerned as to why the pro-Huber side in this discussion have failed to come up with a rational explanation for this, or at least discarded this bit of obvious fantasy, it remains conveniently ignored, like an elderly relative making socially inappropriate statements)

      • The following was stated:

        his claims on plant disease prevelance and new organisms have apparently zero basis in reality (the first because other plant disease specialists are completely baffled by his claim, the second …..

        This plant disease specialist does not appear to be completely baffled by the disease clain:

        Paul Vincelli, a plant pathology professor at the University of Kentucky, said he talked with Huber last fall after he was asked to review a Kentucky researcher’s work on the same topic. Vincelli declined to identify the Kentucky researcher, saying his review was a private consultation, but he said he has seen no evidence to support Huber’s claims linking a new pathogen to crop diseases or animal fertility.

        Vincelli said while research has shown the use of glyphosate may make some plants more susceptible to disease,
        he is not aware of evidence of a new pathogen that increases that risk as Huber claims.

        • I refer you to MaryM’s link upthread which shows the view of a soybean expert in phyopathology – descriptive refutation of Hubers outlandish claims – rather than a rather wishy washy non-specific statement that glyphosate use may make some plants more susceptible to disease – hardly the same as Huber’s claims in any way shape or form – I have no doubt that glyphosate application would make many plants more susceptible to disease – non-resistant strains sprayed with sub-lethal doses for instance would be highly stressed and therefore have increased susceptibility – at least Vincelli steps away from Huber’s ultra whacky claims of new pathogens and animal fertility issues.

          • Dr. Anne Dorrance’s article was not published in a reviewed scientific journal, nor does it give any literature references to reviewed scientific papers. It does include a graph with data up to (not including) 2006. The data points are scattered. She states (with no documentation)

            “The yield loss recorded for each disease group fluctuates based on the incidence and severity of specific diseases due to the widespread planting of susceptible varieties and/or environmental factors that favor infections.”

            ———————————————–
            The following is a 2009 Preface (to a special journal issue) with references to reviewed scientific papers:

            Glyphosate interactions with physiology, nutrition, and diseases of plants: Threat to agricultural sustainability?

            Two of the authors are with separate USDA laboratories.

            The table of contents of that special issue is available.

            • The following appeared in April 2, 2011 Los Angeles Times:

              “For soybeans, sudden death syndrome has been a serious issue in the Midwest in the last two years. Part of the problem is climate change, said Xiao Bing Yang, a leading expert on the disease at Iowa State University. Soil that is too moist, coming after too cool of a spring, can be a breeding ground for the fungus Fusarium solani f.sp. glycine. It’s the fungus that causes sudden death syndrome, scientists say.

              The effect on soybeans can be dire. At best, a farmer could lose 10% of his crop. At worst, 90% could be wiped out. Once the fungus is in a field, it can remain for years and cause havoc when the environmental conditions are right.

              Last year, after a chilly spring and a very wet summer, soybean sudden death syndrome raced across the Midwest. The hardest hit was Iowa: Yang estimated last summer that up to half of the state’s fields might be infected in varying degrees. The USDA warned in August that “the amount of acreage is becoming a concern.”

              Dr. Yang has a reviewed scientific paper on this subject in which he reports that the application of glyphosate makes the fungus worse in growth-chamber and greenhouse experiments.

              Authors: Sanogo, S., Yang, X. B., and Scherm, H. 2000.
              Title: Effects of herbicides on Fusarium solani f. sp. glycines and development of sudden death syndrome in glyphosate-tolerant soybean.

              Published in: Phytopathology 90: pages 57-66.

              Abstract: Sudden death syndrome of soybean, caused by Fusarium solani f. sp. glycines, is a disease of increasing economic importance in the United States. Although the ecology of sudden death syndrome has been extensively studied in relation to crop management practices such as tillage, irrigation, and cultivar selection, there is no information on the effects of herbicides on this disease. Three herbicides (lactofen, glyphosate, and imazethapyr) commonly used in soybean were evaluated for their effects on the phenology of F. solani f. sp. glycines and the development of sudden death syndrome in four soybean cultivars varying in resistance to the disease and in tolerance to glyphosate. Conidial germination, mycelial growth, and sporulation in vitro were reduced by glyphosate and lactofen. In growth-chamber and greenhouse experiments, there was a significant increase in disease severity and frequency of isolation of F. solani f. sp. glycines from roots of all cultivars after application of imazethapyr or glyphosate compared with the control treatment (no herbicide applied). Conversely, disease severity and isolation frequency of F. solani f. sp. glycines decreased after application of lactofen. Across all herbicide treatments, severity of sudden death syndrome and isolation frequency were lower in disease-resistant than in susceptible cultivars. Results suggest that glyphosate-tolerant and -nontolerant cultivars respond similarly to infection by F. solani f. sp. glycines after herbicide application.

              • Dr. Yang also published another paper the next year 2001.

                “Abstract: Three-year field experiments were conducted to assess the development of sudden death syndrome (caused by Fusarium solani f. sp. glycines) in three soybean cultivars, tolerant (P9344 and A3071) and nontolerant (BSR101), to glyphosate following foliar application of four herbicides (acifluorfen, glyphosate, imazethapyr, and lactofen) commonly applied to soybeans in the north-central region of the United States. Cultivar A3071 is resistant to sudden death syndrome, whereas cultivars P9344 and BSR101 are susceptible to this disease. There was no statistically significant cultivar-herbicide interaction with respect to the severity of foliar symptoms of the disease and the frequency of isolation of F. solani f. sp. glycines from roots of soybean plants. Across all herbicide treatments, the level of sudden death syndrome was lower in the disease-resistant cultivar than in the susceptible ones. There was an increase in the disease levels under application of acifluorfen, glyphosate, and imazethapyr compared with nontreated or lactofen-treated plants. The results obtained indicate that the response of glyphosate-tolerant soybeans to sudden death syndrome is not different from the response of conventional soybeans to this disease following application of the selected herbicides, and the resistance of soybean to sudden death syndrome was not changed with application of glyphosate.”

                The abstract seems to be saying 2 opposite things? Fortunately, the link is to the full paper.

                • A 2006 USDA paper on the subject of glyphosate application and disease.

                  “Abstract: This study tests the effect of glyphosate application on disease severity in glyphosate-resistant sugar beet, and examines whether the increase in disease is fungal or plant mediated. In greenhouse studies of glyphosate resistant sugar beet, increased disease severity was observed following glyphosate application and inoculation with certain isolates of Rhizoctonia solani Kuhn and Fusarium oxysporum Schlecht. f. sp. betae Snyd. & Hans.
                  Significant increases in disease severity were noted for R. solani AG-2-2 isolate R-9 and moderately virulent
                  F. oxysporum isolate FOB13 on both cultivars tested, regardless of the duration between glyphosate application
                  and pathogen challenge, but not with highly virulent F. oxysporum isolate F-19 or an isolate of R. solani AG-4.
                  The increase in disease does not appear to be fungal mediated, since in vitro studies showed no positive impact of glyphosate on fungal growth or overwintering structure production or germination for either pathogen. Studies of
                  glyphosate impact on sugar beet physiology showed that shikimic acid accumulation is tissue specific and the rate
                  of accumulation is greatly reduced in resistant cultivars when compared with a susceptible cultivar. The results
                  indicate that precautions need to be taken when certain soil-borne diseases are present if weed management for
                  sugar beet is to include post-emergence glyphosate treatments.”

                  • A very recent study (just arrived this morning)

                    Title: Effect of Pesticides on Plant Growth Promoting Traits
                    of Greengram-Symbiont, Bradyrhizobium sp. strain MRM6

                    Authors: M. Ahemad  M. S. Khan (&)

                    Authors affiliation: Department of Agricultural Microbiology,
                    Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, U.P. 202002, India

                    Published in: Bull Environ Contam Toxicol (2011), 86 86, pages 384-388.

                    “Abstract The aim of this study was to investigate the
                    toxicity of herbicides (metribuzin and glyphosate), insecticides (imidacloprid and thiamethoxam) and fungicides (hexaconazole, metalaxyl and kitazin) at the recommended and the higher dose rates on plant growth promoting activities of Bradyrhizobium sp. under in vitro conditions. The Bradyrhizobium sp. strain MRM6 was isolated from nodules of greengram plants. Pesticide-concentration dependent progressive-decline was observed in plant growth promoting
                    traits of the strain MRM6 apart from exo-polysaccharides
                    which increased consistently on increasing pesticide concentrations.
                    Generally, the highest toxicity to plant growth
                    promoting characteristics of the Bradyrhizobium sp. strain
                    MRM6 was observed when the strain MRM6 was grown
                    with three times the recommended field rates of glyphosate,
                    imidacloprid and hexaconazole.”

                • Henry Kuska

                  In the Discussion section of the above reviewed published scientific paper by scientists at the Department of Plant Pathology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

                  “Three-year field experiments were conducted to assess the development of sudden death syndrome (caused by Fusarium solani f. sp

                  The following was stated:

                  Although
                  glyphosate has little or no direct effect on
                  F. solani (23), this herbicide appears to
                  impose some level of stress that may explain
                  the higher level of disease in glyphosate-
                  treated plants compared with
                  nontreated or lactofen-treated plants.

            • Considering, Henry, that we’re discussing Huber’s outlandish claims in a letter (which I’m assuming wasn’t peer reviewed) your constant insistence on everything being peer reviewed is a rather poor show of double standards considering you appear to buy Huber’s rubbish hook line and sinker – Dr Dorrance is an expert specifically in soybean phytopathology and finds Hubers claims that disease has increased in soybean in general outlandish.

              On your other papers – so it appears if you massively over apply herbicides you can increase disease in plants (not surprising – even a glyphosate resistant soybean has a point at which you overwhelm the transgene and the plant will suffer actual herbicide damage – at which point nobody at all would be surprised to see decreased disease resistance) – or, you can investigate effects in a non-field setting and get results probably reflective of your growing conditions etc (there is no opportunity for soil to recolonize with unaffected microorganisms for instance in a pot system in the greenhouse – plants are under utterly different stresses and nutrient regimes) – whereas the field study you show (while admittedly being limited to a handful of cultivars) indicates that the treatment effect of glyphosate on SDS is non-existant. I’ll trust the field data over the greenhouse data.

            • Henry Kuska

              The following USDA paper has examined the effect of high moisture and glyphosate applications on Fusarium infections (80% of the isolates were Fusarium oxysporum; F. solani and F. equiseti each comprised 10% of the isolates.) of soybeans.

              In the following (SMC) is “soil moisture content”

              “Our results agree with previous field research that reported increased rhizosphere colonization by Fusarium (a) of soybean with increasing SMCs (Sanogo, Yang, and Scherm 2000; Kremer 2003) and (b) of GR soybean following glyphosate application (Cheng and Schneck 1978; Scherm and Yang 1996; Scherm, Yang, and Lundeen 1998). Glyphosate applied to plants appeared to influence Fusarium through several mechanisms. Glyphosate may increase the quantity and alter the composition of substances released by root exudation and ultimately enhance Fusarium growth in the rhizosphere (Greaves and Sargent 1986; Kremer, Means, and Kim 2005). Host plant defenses may be weakened from reduced phytoalexin production, caused by interruption of the shikimate pathway by glyphosate, and allow increased root colonization by Fusarium (Johal and Rahe 1988). Also, glyphosate may be translocated to roots, released into the rhizosphere, and selectively stimulate Fusarium growth and root colonization (Wardle and Parkinson 1992b; Krzys´ko-Lupicka and Orlik 1997; Kremer, Means, and Kim 2005). The combined effects of glyphosate with optimum to high soil moisture that led to increased Fusarium populations (root colonization) in this study may help explain the Fusarium disease epidemics documented in GR soybean fields during wet growing seasons, notably in 1997, the first year of widespread GR soybean production (Wrather, Stienstra, and Koenning 2001). High root colonization rates by Fusarium species under optimum soil moisture also leads to reduced root biomass (Ortiz-Ribbing and Eastburn 2004). Thus, decreases in root mass by glyphosate may be augmented by coincident enhancement of Fusarium colonization, leading to reduced plant productivity.”

              • More evidence that greenhouse application of glyphosate increases fusarium colonization – still no field data.

                You don’t have to keep flogging a dead horse – it appears conclusive that under greenhouse conditions it’s best not to spray glyphosate on soy – I’m sure greenhouse growers of soy across the globe will take heed.

                • The increased levels of fusarium had no effect on above ground biomass in the glyphosate treated plants. That suggests a protective effect that minimizes the impact of fusarium infection on biomass and presumably yield.

                  Kills weeds and protects against biomass reductions from fusarium infection? Sounds like another benefit of glyphosate.

                • Henry Kuska

                  “The first growing season of widespread cultivation of GR soybean in 1997 was unusually wet in the midwest United States, which contributed to severe epidemics of soybean sudden death syndrome (SDS) caused by the soilborne fungal pathogen Fusarium solani f. sp. glycines (Wrather, Stienstra, and Koenning 2001). Glyphosate-resistant varieties were more frequently identified with SDS than conventional varieties (Myers et al. 1999). These observations suggested that Fusarium infection was related to soil moisture content (SMC) and to the increased use of glyphosate with GR soybean. Our recent field studies revealed inconsistent colonization of roots by Fusarium between growing seasons, partly due to contrasts in seasonal rainfall patterns (Means 2004). Studies on soil moisture relationships with root colonization of GR soybean by Fusarium species are very limited. Thus, our research objective was to determine the impact of different SMCs on root colonization of glyphosate-treated soybean by Fusarium species.”</blockquote

                  >”The combined effects of glyphosate with optimum to high soil moisture that led to increased Fusarium populations (root colonization) in this study may help explain the Fusarium disease epidemics documented in GR soybean fields during wet growing seasons, notably in 1997, the first year of widespread GR soybean production (Wrather, Stienstra, and Koenning 2001). High root colonization rates by Fusarium species under optimum soil moisture also leads to reduced root biomass (Ortiz-Ribbing and Eastburn 2004). Thus, decreases in root mass by glyphosate may be augmented by coincident enhancement of Fusarium colonization, leading to reduced plant productivity.”

          • Dr. Robert Kremer, microbiologist with the USDA-ARS Cropping Systems and Water Quality research unit in Columbia, Mo. presented the 22nd annual David W. Staniforth Memorial Lecture, “Glyphosate Interactions Beyond Weed Control: Current State of Knowledge”, Thursday at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
            The summary is here.

        • Jonathan

          Here’s a question for the weekend everyone….

          What causes a bigger increase in a crop’s susceptibility to disease?

          (a) use of glyphosate to control weeds?
          (b) organic farming of the crop?

          Answers below and please show your working.

          Have a good one all,

          Jonathan

  • Thank you Henry K. Jonathan, no offense taken.

    In 1996, I alerted the proper authorities, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Health Departments of what I was seeing, provided data and photos on a small sample of 10 accident killed yearling male deer from various areas of Ravalli County, MT, 9 of which had no or half a scrotal sac, with one also misaligned. The MDFWP said the impact with a vehicle just caused the deer to just look malformed to an inexperienced observer, which I guess included their own biologists, two of which said the deer were malformed.

    While I may seem over zealous, this quote from the most recent article about Dr. Huber that was posted says it all concerning what I have always tried to do.This is the quote and it pretty much says it all. I do appreciate any and all help and criticism too.

    “If someone is making a new discovery, they normally want someone to know about it and if this was an important environmental or agricultural problem, you would want to engage other people in finding what the causes of the problems are.”

    The article was at http://dailycaller.com/2011/04/01/biotech-letter-gets-notice-online-but-is-it-true/#ixzz1IHeknFVq

    Ewan R., the goat herds in our area have a prevalence of over 60% with brachygnathia superior and judging by comments and photos on goat related websites, this malformation is quite common all over the U.S. I checked the mouths of 20 newborn goats from four herds in four different parts of our county in 2009. The mother goats were well fed, so malnutrition in the mother does not seem to be a factor in the goats. I collected 13 one and one half year old butchered beef steer heads all except two from the same ranch, were from different ranches. The beef steers were butchered for the ranchers, so were likely for their own use. Of the 13, 9 had underbite and 4 had a normal bite. The beef cattle are well fed here in winter while the fetal calves are developing. Pregnant mares on horse ranches were well fed between 1996 and 2003 when I was keeping much better track of what was happening with foals. Again online websites have quite a lot of chatter about underbite on foals now.

    While malnutrition is very likely a significant factor in fetal hypothyroidism in wild ruminants, I can find no connection to malnutrition with the high prevalence of fetal hypothyroidism symptoms in the well fed animals. The same with wild birds. The parents and the hatchlings appear to be well fed, even though the hatchlings of a variety of bird species rescued from nests that are blown down in wind storms or swallow hatchlings in nests that fall down by accident or are deliberately knocked down by miscreants have brachygnathia superior or other symptoms of thyroid hormone disruption during development. Also, what puzzles me is prior to 1995, we never saw brachygnathia superior or malformed genitalia on newborns after very hard winters that killed lots of big game animals because they died of malnutrition. Where I live, we have not had a winter with deep snow all winter for many years, but the brachygnathia superior and other symptoms appear to be increasing. Also, most puzzling, snow levels during the winter do not seem to correlate with increases observed or documented scientifically in the brachygnathia superior and other fetal hypothyroidism symptoms on newborns of either wild or domestic mammal -same for birds but they are very hard to track. I am not saying that malnutrition is not involved. I am saying it historically did not cause brachygnathia superior and brachygnathia superior is prevalent on young of well fed ruminants. I also really think we need to find the cause of this because a lot of jobs and businesses depend on the affected animals.

    • http://www.miller-mccune.com/environment/more-evidence-linking-pesticides-and-malformations-30560/

      “Meanwhile, Hoy is preparing a paper for publication and has found a collaborator of sorts in a 14-year-old whose involvement grew out of a school project.

      Samantha Crofts read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring before enrolling in Brett Taylor’s freshman science class at Missoula’s Sentinel High School. Taylor requires all students develop a research project suitable for presentation at a science fair. He knew something of Hoy’s research and suggested Crofts visit Hoy at her rehabilitation center.

      After talking with Hoy, Crofts decided to research the incidence of underbite on domestic goats — in the Bitterroot Valley. She has visually observed 43 goats and has found 60 to 70 percent of them have the condition known as brachygynathia, similar to Hoy’s recent findings when observing Bitterroot fawns. (“Goats aren’t my favorite animal,” Crofts admitted. “I’m scared of them, to tell you the truth.”)

      Crofts plans to continue the study by determining the probability that genetics is behind the malformations; her control will be drawn from two baseline studies with a population of 39,000 animals.”

    • No doubt, there will be a lot to say on this, however, I have to ask Seralini, where’s the beef? He is claiming evidence of kidney disease from Bt maize. He also admits that Americans eat more GM, including maize, than anyone else. So why haven’t American renal disease (ESRD) rates changed? For females, the rates are even plateauing.

      See: ESRD Plot. The reference is at 1994, where GM was introduced.

      Looks like a Failure to Fail…..

  • Henry Kuska

    Another attempt to post. The 2003 field study soybean paper with a Monsonto author that found no effect on SDS used glyphosate

    “Treatments consisted of glyphosate-sprayed and a nonsprayed control.
    At the V3 growth stage (Fehr et al., 1971), the treated subplots were sprayed
    with 1.12 kg a.i. ha 1 glyphosate.”

    while the 2001 field study paper that I had presented used
    the commercial formulation Round-Up.

    “Four herbicides were tested in this study: acifluorfen
    (Blazer), glyphosate (Roundup Ultra),
    mazethapyr (Pursuit 2AS), and lactofen
    (Cobra 2EC). The recommended field
    application rates”

    The statement was made in the Round-Up paper that:

    “Although glyphosate has little or no
    direct effect on F. solani (23), this herbicide appears to
    impose some level of stress that may explain
    the higher level of disease in glyphosate-
    treated plants compared with
    nontreated or lactofen-treated plants.”

    If the explanation that the Round-Up introduced some level of stress, one can
    understand why the 2003 results could be different as without the
    “spreader sticker” not much glyphosate may be
    absorbed into the plant.
    Although the Monsanto paper was published in 2003, it did not reference
    the 2001 field Round-Up paper that I referenced (it did reference the
    same authors’ 2000 greenhouse study).
    —————————————————————
    That the use of the formulated product could be important is illustrated by another Monsanto publication:
    Fungicidal Effects of Glyphosate and Glyphosate Formulations on Four Species of Entomopathogenic Fungi
    W. E. MORJAN,1 L. P. PEDIGO,2 AND L. C. LEWIS3Environ. Entomol. 31(6): 1206Ð1212 (2002)
    http://ddr.nal.usda.gov/bitstream/10113/11687/1/IND23312192.pdf

    “Differences in fungicidal activity between glyphosate
    and different formulations are not surprisingsince
    some of the inert ingredients in formulations may
    increase or reduce the toxicity of the pesticide to specific organisms (Ware 1994).”

  • Sea.Palm

    Dr. Huber’s letter was meant to be Internal and Confidential, so going into great detail about all the evidence he should have provided is not fair. It was a letter outlining a general situation, not a paper submitted for publication and/or peer review. It was not meant to be a press release or public at all. The recipient would be expected to contact Dr. Huber for more information. The entire point of the letter was to give a basic outline of an existing problem to get just such a reaction (more research)from the government. Our 10 chickens went from 2-3 eggs a day total to one a day each within a week when we switched from commerical (GE corn) poultry feed to mixing our own organic feed. It was cheaper too. You don’t need a PhD to observe what is happening.

    • According to my sources, he emailed the letter to anti-GE groups, and gave permission to post it online. So it does not seem to be true that it accidentally leaked out. He is now talking about it in a speaking tour as well – it is entirely fair to criticize such an action without going through the peer review process.

    • Ewan R

      Our 10 chickens went from 2-3 eggs a day total to one a day each within a week when we switched from commerical (GE corn) poultry feed to mixing our own organic feed.

      Otherwise nutritionally the same, or a completely different diet?

      Extraordinary claims and all that.

    • Eric Baumholder

      “Our 10 chickens went from 2-3 eggs a day total to one a day each within a week when we switched from commerical (GE corn) poultry feed to mixing our own organic feed.”

      Hmmm… makes sense. Many agronomists agree that organic is less productive.

      • Ewan R

        2-3 per 10 compared to 10 a day per 10 methinks – I thought the same as you initially Eric, but a more attentive parsing tells a rather different story

  • Judy Hoy

    I can’t find where the more recent posts are going, they aren’t here.

    Judy Hoy

  • Judy Hoy

    Dear Karl,

    My comment is up, so did not get lost, but I was sent the following comment automatically and clicked on the link. I looked everywhere for where it was posted by Henry, but I couldn’t find it. I thought there may be some discussion about how serious Chlorothalonil is to exposed frog tadpoles. And there may be some discussion concerning the high prevalence of underbite on all ages, sexes and species of goat that Samantha Crofts examined for her science project. I couldn’t find Henry’s post or any discussion about it. By the way Henry, thank you ever so much for posting this, even if I can’t find it on the Biofortified website.

    Author: Henry Kuska
    Comment:
    http://www.miller-mccune.com/environment/more-evidence-linking-pesticides-and-malformations-30560/

    “Meanwhile, Hoy is preparing a paper for publication and has found a collaborator of sorts in a 14-year-old whose involvement grew out of a school project.

    Samantha Crofts read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring before enrolling in Brett Taylor’s freshman science class at Missoula’s Sentinel High School. Taylor requires all students develop a research project suitable for presentation at a science fair. He knew something of Hoy’s research and suggested Crofts visit Hoy at her rehabilitation center.

    After talking with Hoy, Crofts decided to research the incidence of underbite on domestic goats — in the Bitterroot Valley. She has visually observed 43 goats and has found 60 to 70 percent of them have the condition known as brachygynathia, similar to Hoy’s recent findings when observing Bitterroot fawns. (“Goats aren’t my favorite animal,” Crofts admitted. “I’m scared of them, to tell you the truth.”)

    Crofts plans to continue the study by determining the probability that genetics is behind the malformations; her control will be drawn from two baseline studies with a population of 39,000 animals.”

    • Eric Baumholder

      A 14-year-old?

      There’s an 11-year-old child prodigy out there who’s at least as good on the topic of GMOs as the levitating dance teacher:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wsey50badw

      I think Birke Baehr is actually better than Smith. In presentation, that is. Smith is too cadaverous to be appealing. Between Smith and Baehr, the scientific accuracy of their offerings is roughly equal.

      Enjoy! Run time is 6 mins, 25 secs.

    • Ah, I found the comment – it is way up there – search for one of the key words in the comment to find it. (Ctrl + F) This thread is getting pretty long!

  • At least the claims are not much more extraordinary than people leveraging talking points like drinking cups of Roundup, and whether that’s lethal.

    MDV

  • Joe Pie-eye

    Interesting that most favor

    peer review

    while dissecting Dr. Huber’s letter. Have any of the scientists posting here actually looked at the research Dr. Huber has conducted or will you simply rely on

    debunking

    Dr. Huber’s letter?
    I know that Anastasia views Dr. Huber (rather derogatorily), as an “aging scientist” -she spells it out on another website. Perhaps she would like to leave her ad homs parked and actually look at his research and not critique a letter. I would like to point out, once again, it was not a peer reviewed article. It was a letter to the head of the USDA from a well respected and well known scientist that has worked in the field of emerging pathogens for 20+ years. I am quite sure that had Tom Vilsak asked for the scientific research that Dr. Huber conducted to reach his conclusions, Dr. Huber would have (or did, as far as anyone here knows) supply it; we may never know as most of the emeging pathogen research is classified or is not available to the average researcher.
    Of course, peer review is essential. Duh. However, I am equally confident that an experienced scientist of Dr. Huber’s caliber would not make such claims if there were no scientifically based reason. So, rather than using your superior mental intellect to deride a letter to a head of a government agency suggesting that government approval of questionable practices should be reconsidered, you will toil over the research actually performed; or, better yet: do it yourself. That is, if Monsanto will fund you. Which leads to the dearth of information and research performed on these types of organisms. To say that the major corporations funding the research has an agenda would be an understatement. To wit: has anyone posting here ever heard of Dr Robert Van den Bosch? Of course, that will be dismissed as old science from an aging, cranky scientist.
    Perhaps when Anastasia gets awarded her doctorate, she will be in more of a qualified position to call an experienced researcher and scientist, essentially, a washed-up, old-fart of a has-been.
    I truly hope that, as a doctoral candidate, Anastasia’s future career will not be placed in jeopardy because of her own knee-jerk reaction.

    • By the way, science is not decided on authority – evidence comes before anything else. And none has been provided other than the self-contradictory claims in this letter. Being a Ph.D. or not really doesn’t matter when it comes to deciding if there is enough evidence to reach this conclusion, and seasoned scientists can make mistakes as well.

      Of course, peer review is essential. Duh. However, I am equally confident that an experienced scientist of Dr. Huber’s caliber would not make such claims if there were no scientifically based reason.

      Your argument depends upon trusting that Huber is being completely genuine in his statements about this ‘new’ organism. Would your position of trust change if you discovered that he was being disingenuous in these public statements? I’m curious.

    • Perhaps you’d care to link any of the peer reviewed research which backs Hubers claims rather than simply stating that it should be looked at?

      Why critique a letter? Because that’s all we have. It sparked a firestorm. It is full of utter nonsense.

      It’s also amusing that you focus on Anastasia’s Ad Hom (which I presume resides elsewhere, the above post details Hubers experience and a quick skim through doesn’t appear to be a smear on him for being washed up or an old fart (it questions the position he held in a given organization) and it does take a look at Hubers research (one would assume that being retired the guy isn’t actually actively doing research – I’m guessing Emeritus professors tend not to pull in research grants) rather than addressing any of the actual points made. It’s almost as if you’re commiting precisely the same (or at least a deceptively similar) logical fallacy – you are failing utterly to address the points brought up here and instead are relying on smearing Anastasia’s entire post based on what you categorize as a knee-jerk reaction. Doubly amusing as your entire post appears to be little more than a knee-jerk reaction (see screed about failing to address any of the issues)

    • I didn’t use the word “aging” in this post or my other post about Dr. Huber’s letter. If I did use it elsewhere (if you’d provide a link that would be nice), I would not use “aging” in a derogatory way. Do not put words in my mouth. If you have a problem with elders continuing to work and be productive, that’s you, not me. I did mention in this post that Huber has a solid record of publication: “we can say that he is a well published scientist that has published relevant subject matter in some fairly reputable journals for his field… Dr. Huber appears to have relevant and recent expertise on the subject of the effects of glyphosate on mineral uptake and disease resistance.”

      Dr. Huber chose to put controversial ideas that are not substantiated by any evidence out into the world. Those ideas have been picked up by people all over the world as some sort of proof even though there is no evidence. Critiquing those ideas ≠ knee jerk or ad hom. You might want to think a little bit more about what a knee jerk reaction is, because you seem to have some symptoms of that yourself. To be blunt, I wonder if you even read this post at all or if you just assumed that I was saying Huber was an old fart because I disagree with his unsubstantiated claims until they are substantiated.

      This post was about Huber’s claims that are not substantiated in peer-reviewed literature. I did consider the literature about glyphosate and crop mineral uptake in my followup post. I have intentions to write an additional post summarizing the literature about crop-fungus-glyphosate interactions, however I am restricting the time I spend on blogging at the moment because this is an unpaid extracurricular activity and I must focus on writing my thesis and other commitments. If you or someone you know would like to submit a post on the subject that is substantiated with references from peer-reviewed literature, please find instructions for doing so here.

  • blake

    the whole point of Genetic Engineering is to move a gene from one species to another via both GE bacteria and a viral promoter which is supposed to turn off and doesn’t.
    If you would kindly research GE, first, before trying to investigate a military threat investigator’s legitimacy based on no background of GE.

  • I did not see any tweet or info on this news article. I thought I would post it here.

    “A former Purdue University professor says it will be a few more months before he can support his claim that Roundup Ready technology is responsible for the proliferation of a previously unknown microscopic organism he says causes plant diseases and livestock abortions.

    A sample of the organism was sent to a lab in March for sequencing so the organism could have its characteristics clearly identified, said Don Huber, the retired Purdue professor.

    However, a contaminant was found in the sample, “so we had to take more time to get the material that is required,” Huber said.”

    http://www.capitalpress.com/idaho/se-Roundup-claims-072211

    “Huber said that during a trip to Washington, D.C., last week, he had “some pretty receptive ears” and he was encouraged to submit grant proposals to study the issue further.”

    • Eric Baumholder

      There are lots of ways to get research funding, and Huber’s approach is one of them.

    • Some of Huber’s quotes in this story suggest that he already has his conclusion in mind and is trying to find evidence to support it. Anyone notice how the sequencing effort for this organism is fraught with delays, yet when a brand new E. coli was discovered in Germany, is took all of 3 days to sequence and assemble the entire thing? And this is supposed to be smaller than an E. coli.

      • Denise O'Meara

        Didn’t you mean he has his “hypothesis” in mind. Of course he does.

        • You are right in that it is just a hypothesis. However from following his promotion of this mystery pathogen and from talking directly to him he has no evidence that it is actually linked to GE, yet, he says, it must be due to GE because in his view, that is the ‘only thing that has changed’. He has already made a conclusion, and is actively promoting that explanation. Scientists with hypotheses say they are just hypotheses and also offer alternate explanations.

  • A former Purdue University professor says it will be a few more months before he can support his claim that Roundup Ready technology is responsible for the proliferation of a previously unknown microscopic organism he says causes plant diseases and livestock abortions.

    One would expect then that it would be a few more months before we hear anything about it – surely nobody of his stature would go around making unsuppor… oh wait, I remember this thread! Nevermind!

  • Tom

    I have heard Dr. Huber has been contacted by 60 mins. and they are planning a hit piece on RU and GMO’s some time in Dec. I was also pondering if Dr. Huber’s position here is being tainted in some way do to the fact he is a devout Mormon?

  • Judy Hoy

    Hello,

    I have been a very busy little bee, so haven’t posted for a while. Here is the reason, the doi for our new study Observations Of Brachygnathia Superior in Wild ruminants in Western Montana, USA
    J.A. Hoy1, G.T. Haas2, R.D. Hoy1 & P. Hallock3,*

    Wildl. Biol. Pract., 2011 December 7(2): ..-.. doi:10.2461/wbp.2011.7.13

    I think you will find it of interest.

    Thank you,
    Judy Hoy

  • OrchidGrowinMan

    A friend of mine has stopped eating soy, beef and corn because of Dr. Mercola’s claims here: http://www.goodfoodworld.com/2011/12/dr-huber-expert-in-microbial-ecology-discusses-the-effects-of-genetically-modifying-plants/

    I would appreciate an analysis.

  • OrchidGrowinMan

    A&E,

    What I’d appreciate is information/opinion on the level of credibility Dr. Huber should be afforded re this video (and PT-2): it’s looong and full of shocking assertions that should be testable/corroborable, just like the “µfungus” issue. For example, he claims that glyphosate works by chelating Manganese, that crops subjected to it are non-healthy, non-healthful, non-nutritious, dangerous, that it bio-accumulates, etc. I didn’t have time to closely attend to the whole video, but I think claims of livestock infertility were in there, whether still attributed to the mystery organism or not.

    Dr. Mercola is seen as a populist hero, like Oprah, but I am somehow neither knowledgeable nor familiar with his material.

    • Ewan R

      I think some of that is covered above – claims that glyphosate works by chelating Manganese are simply wrong – it can chelate manganese (as far as I know) but its mode of action is well established – it inhibits EPSPS which is an enzyme in the pathway which synthesizes various amino acids – block this and the plant dies – stick in the same enzyme but modified such that glyphosate doesn’t inactivate and the plant doesn’t die (if the MoA was Mn chelation then RR crops wouldn’t work)

      Although from what I remember of Huber he didn’t make that claim, his claim was that glyphosate *also* chelates Mn and as such leads to health issues – which I believe Henry and I went on, and on, and on about above (or elsewhere)

      From what I recall the infertility claims were around the micro-organism (the impossibly small one, the fungus that’d be smaller than its constituent organelles) – again part of the fantastic nature of the claims, not only was the organism claimed impossibly small, but it also had cross-kingdom impact.

      Oddly Huber still hasn’t published on this matter – odd that as we’re approaching 1 year since this post was made and thus a little longer since the claims themself were made – surely nobody would be making such outlandish claims without at least having the evidence in order and somewhat close to being able to publish. It’s almost as if he just made it all up.

  • OrchidGrowinMan

    In the video, at 4:40, Dr. Huber explicitly attributes herbicide activity, specifically glyphosate’s, to chelation. By 8:00 he’s implied that it has the same effect in US. At 10:16 he is explicit that “critical micronutrients” are reduced (by 80-90%) for animal nutrition. The idea is then flogged by Mercola (including “animal fertility”). Then they go on to discuss the serious damage glyphosate supposedly causes to soil, soil microorganisms and nitrogen fixation. And then on to it causing increases in plant diseases, including botulism(!).

    • Ewan R

      How glad I am then that I don’t watch videos!

      If that is his explanation for the herbicidal activity he is dead wrong – that hypothesis is killed utterly by the simple fact that adding in the enzyme which glyphosate binds to, but without the binding (or whatever the difference is… I think it lacks a binding site – whatever it is you end up with more activity) leads to survival. Also one of the mdoes of glyphosate resistance in weeds is massive overexpression of EPSPS – again, if Mn chelation was the culprit this wouldn’t explain why the weeds survive.

      The micronutrient piece of the puzzle is getting massively overblown – from memory there may be issues in Mn depleted soil (as glyphosate does bind some Mn for sure) – but in Mn replete soil the issue is non-existant – all claims appear to be similarly overblown.

      This isn’t unexpected with Mercola – he’s a quack extraordinaire.

  • OrchidGrowinMan

    At 22:50, “glyphosate accumulation”

    I would comment that the molar quantity of a given ion is vastly greater than that of the chelator (glyphosate) present, then how can the chelator have any significant effect at all?

  • Bob S

    I’m curious, have any farmers contributed to this discussion? How many of you who have contributed have grown fruit/vegetable/grain crops or used GM crops in anything other than a home garden or a trial?

  • Lisa

    SO I see Anastasia, Ewan and Karl are all at it again. Haven’t you all figured out that all the universities where you are learning are bought and paid for by BIG AG, and Monsanto? Who do you think provides your curriculum? BIAS!!!! Its been 20 years since horizontal gene transfer has been played with and while you have made progress in so far as exact placement of a gene, it still stands that you don’t know everything and you never will… your big college words will not change the fact that the Human Genome project completed in 2002 failed dramatically to identify one gene for every one protein in the human body, forcing researchers to look to epigenetic factors — namely, “factors beyond the control of the gene” – to explain how organisms are formed, and how they work.. Im sure by now you are taught that that any gene can give more than one protein and that inserting a gene anywhere in a plant eventually creates rogue proteins. Some of these proteins are obviously allergenic or toxic.” Well here is some scientific evidence, Im sure you’ll try to poke as many holes as possible, but, ultimately, you guys should open your eyes.

    http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416

    Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases

    Anthony Samsel 1 email and Stephanie Seneff 2,* email

    1 Independent Scientist and Consultant, Deerfield, NH 03037, USA 2 Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, MIT, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

    * Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

    Received: 15 January 2013; in revised form: 10 April 2013 / Accepted: 10 April 2013 / Published: 18 April 2013

    (This article belongs to the Special Issue Biosemiotic Entropy: Disorder, Disease, and Mortality)

    PDF Full-text Download PDF Full-Text [518 KB, uploaded 18 April 2013 14:15 CEST]

    Abstract: Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup®, is the most popular herbicide used worldwide. The industry asserts it is minimally toxic to humans, but here we argue otherwise. Residues are found in the main foods of the Western diet, comprised primarily of sugar, corn, soy and wheat. Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology, one of which is to detoxify xenobiotics. Thus, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Here, we show how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. We explain the documented effects of glyphosate and its ability to induce disease, and we show that glyphosate is the “textbook example” of exogenous semiotic entropy: the disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins.

  • [...] While, this certainly could be possible, the proof remains with Dr Huber, who has provided no evidence for this extraordinary claim. His claims have been seriously questioned by Anastasia on [...]

  • [...] away. This makes their entire "study" worthless, since Huber is NOT a credible source: http://www.biofortified.org/2011/02/…nary-evidence/ [...]

Leave a Reply