Around the world there are “Skeptics in the Pub” events that gather folks from the local community who are interested in issues of science, technology, health, and sometimes explore the more ephemeral things like the paranormal – ghost busting and Bigfoot sorts of discussions might ensue. You should look around and see if there are folks in your area that host these evenings, and you’ll find folks interested in hearing about and discussing these wide-ranging and fascinating topics, with beer or cider or perhaps a soda. Personally, I hang around at the Boston Skeptics events, but these exist world-wide. Look for one around you. They are fun and interesting and can help support local venues. Earlier this year I asked if the Boston Skeptics would be interested in hearing about GMOs – but from the Monsanto side. Like good skeptics, they were open to hearing this side of a controversial
The League of Nerds (TLoN) is a podcast hosted by two charming young science nerds: James Gurney and Myles Power. Recently, they began exploring the GMO debate in more detail. I’ve been subscribed to them on iTunes for some time and listen to their interviews every week. They don’t cover only GMOs, of course. You’ll find a long list of the science- and evidence-based issues they explore on their site. Note: the language in these podcasts may briefly and occasionally run to the PG-13 level, so do keep them away from impressionable children and tone trolls.
Consumers continue to demand fish at very high levels, and this puts pressure on wild fish stocks. A report recently highlighted the fact that aquaculture is becoming increasingly important: If we continue to fish at the current pace, some scientists predict we’ll be facing oceans devoid of edible marine creatures by 2050. Aquaculture could come to the rescue. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predicts that farmed fish will soon surpass wild-caught; by 2030, aquaculture may produce more than 60 percent of fish we consume as food. There are several ways GMOs could help keep us from overfishing while still supplying sufficient resources to salmon-eating humans and their pets. One company is using GMO yeast to feed salmon. Another effort is being undertaken to have plants provide the necessary oils for the fish. Both of these strategies help to reduce the need for smaller feeder fish for
Bill Nye caused a bit of drama over his stance on GMOs with the publication of his recent book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation. Biologists were dismayed by some of the unsourced claims he was making, and what seemed to be a failure to investigate the science on this issue. And for someone who has been such a strong supporter of evidence, even famously noting in his debate with creationist Ken Ham what would change is mind on a topic: Those of us who support evidence-based positions on scientific topics like evolution cheered this response enthusiastically. And realizing that if he really meant that–and it seemed to me biologists really took him at his word–we hoped Nye would look at the actual evidence on GMOs. Kevin Folta wanted to help Bill examine the evidence, and offered to use the debate format to do so. Although the Folta/Nye event
Recycling can be a very good practice. Re-using components of electronics, waste paper, and food scraps that would otherwise head to the waste stream can be a great idea. However, sometimes re-use doesn’t bring any value. Recycling bad claims and ideas about GMOs helps no one. Unfortunately, The GMO Deception is a prime example of worthless recycling. I found out about this text from Marion Nestle’s blog. She promoted this book in a post and by blurbing for it: This week’s reading: The GMO Deception. It didn’t take me long to find more details about it at the publisher’s site, because I had already been over there that same week. Skyhorse Publishing had just published RFK Jr’s new book on thimerosal and vaccines. And I learned that they had also published Andrew Wakefield’s “Callous Disregard”. This did not bode well for my confidence in scientific rigor, of course. Unwilling to