Comment today to shape FDA biotech outreach

posted in: News | 197

The Food and Drug Administration is accepting public comments on a new education and outreach initiative about biotechnology, mandated by Congress. Comments close on Friday, November 17th, and Biology Fortified strongly encourages scientists and members of the public to submit comments to help shape and inform this initiative. A public meeting was held this week in Charlotte, NC, and a second meeting will be held on Tuesday November 14th in San Francisco from 8 am to 1 pm, where members of the public can sign up to submit oral comments as well.

Education and outreach are extremely important to address the wide gap between the scientific literature and public perceptions about biotechnology, and these outreach efforts must themselves be informed by what we know about science communication. Biology Fortified will be submitting our own comments to the federal register, but if you take a look at the comments that have already been submitted online, you can see that there are very few informed comments at all, some of which make accusations of the FDA and swearing insults and implied threats against them. These comments, however, will do little to sway the FDA, but what will have an impact are informed, on-point comments that can help them navigate this issue.

Your comments can and do make a difference. Recently, the USDA scrapped new proposed rules regulating biotechnology that did not make much sense, and this was in part due to the detailed comments that they received. What does the FDA want to hear about?

We invite the public to share information, experiences, and suggestions that can help inform the development of the education and outreach initiative. We invite interested persons, including those participating in the public meetings, to respond to the following questions specifically regarding agricultural biotechnology and biotechnology-derived food products and animal feed:

1. What are the specific topics, questions, or other information that consumers would find most useful, and why?

2. Currently, how and from where do consumers most often receive information on this subject?

3. How can FDA (in coordination with USDA) best reach consumers with science-based educational information on this subject?

The comments received will help FDA identify education goals, messaging, and dissemination strategies for FDA’s Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative.

If you wish to attend or tune into the live stream of the upcoming San Francisco meeting on Tuesday the 14th, there is more information on this page

Submit them online on the Federal Register site here. The deadline is Friday. November 17 – don’t delay!

Follow Karl Haro von Mogel:

Karl earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at UW-Madison, with a minor in Life Science Communication. His dissertation was on both the genetics of sweet corn and plant genetics outreach. He recently moved back to his home state of California. His favorite produce might just be squash.

  • mem_somerville

    The FDA folks summarized the session with these ideas. The mission is about a variety of topics, and comments should focus on 3 main questions. https://twitter.com/mem_somerville/status/930476112827707392

    • Lisa Makarchuk

      This is about uncritical “education” for the public (ie: marketing). “SciComm” must be drooling at the prospect of $3mil.

      • mem_somerville

        Tell us about the sources that you trust, Lisa. And why do you trust them?

        • Lisa Makarchuk

          With regard to science, I distrust any source that’s devoted to an outcome like consumer “acceptance”. Surely I can be fooled, but I need to at least believe there’s independence and impartiality.

          • mem_somerville

            Show me an example of a source you like on GMOs.

            • Lisa Makarchuk

              What do you mean by a “source on GMOs”? Textbooks?

              • mem_somerville

                Show me where you get the information that led you to your current understanding of GMO issues.

                • Lisa Makarchuk

                  I can’t do that because there are hundreds of sources.
                  edit: including biofortified

                  • mem_somerville

                    Pick 3 that you either recently shared on social media, or that you found particularly compelling.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Thanks for this mem. I don’t share anything about GMOs that I recall. I sometimes share info from the UCS. And I can’t say I find anything more compelling than biofortified, but that’s probably not what you’re driving at. Can we shorthand this?

                    • mem_somerville

                      I’m trying to understand what information sources you consider to be the kind you want to hear from. I am not sure how much shorter I can make that.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      I don’t have any specific sources. Perhaps the kind I want to hear from don’t exist.

                    • mem_somerville

                      But you are opposed to the FDA doing this?

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Yes, because it’s about marketing to consumers, not science education. It’s starting with a conclusion and going from there to: how do we get the consumer on board with this profitable enterprise?

                      It’s preferable to have educated consumers that can make critical judgements about factual information – and help to form policy – not simply be convinced that Monsanto has their best interests at heart.

                    • mem_somerville

                      Are you also opposed to the organic marketing?

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      I admit I can be oblivious mem. Can you give me an example? I hate the “natural” marketing ploy. And I hate that GE advocates play on the appeal of “technology”. In general, I dislike being played.

                      Also, please understand that I support the technology. I just have a healthy skepticism of some of the applications, especially where they are highly corrupted by the corporate profit motive, which, in my opinion, feeds the entire enterprise of “sci-comm”. I support science education, not science communication, which is I see as glorified public relations.

                      If we have an educated public, we don’t need sci-comm. People can examine the facts and issues and make their own decisions.

                    • mem_somerville

                      Today Tamar Haspel noted that the recent battle between hydroponics and dirt farmers was about marketing: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2017/11/a_battle_over_hydroponics_shows_that_the_usda_organic_certification_program.html

                      There’s the organic ethos, and then there’s the USDA organic certification program, and they’re not the same. One is about farming ecologically, and the other is about making money by farming ecologically. It’s right there in the Federal Register: “This national program will facilitate domestic and international marketing [emphasis mine] of fresh and processed food that is organically produced.”

                      The USDA organic program is a marketing program. Do you support the millions that are spent on that?

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Yes, organic is about marketing. But that’s not all it’s about. Organic sets standards, and the article you’ve referenced shows how disputes can arise over how these standards are met. It also discusses how organic might be reformed to include various practices – using those to market individual products based on what kind of agriculture consumers want to support.
                      I don’t see the comparison. It’s apples to oranges.
                      Organic bars GE. And the markets for each are different. Most GE goes to processed ingredients or animal feed. Yes, there’s a division. So those whose income is tied in to the biotech industry don’t want to see organic become more popular.

                      edit: plus, in the context you’ve quoted, marketing means making for sale – that is: make available.

                    • mem_somerville

                      Yes, it is about marketing. You are fine with millions of dollars on organic marketing from the federal government.

                      So you aren’t really opposed to federal dollars for marketing. Only for selected industry.

                      That’s helpful. And it illustrates the misconceptions on this topic. I’ll be sure to add that to my comments–we definitely will need to help people with that.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Where is the government spending millions of dollars to promote organic food to consumers? You can’t just make that statement without some kind of evidence please.

                    • mem_somerville

                      The entire organic program is a marketing program. That’s the part you don’t seem to grasp.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      That is inaccurate. USDA organic sets standards and does its best (within budget confines) to enforce those standards. Those standards are continually debated, but they restrict the growing means in a way that makes the organic label appealing to some consumers. That’s what the article you referenced is talking about when it says that organic is about marketing. If a farmer can put the USDA organic label on his products, he can sell to certain convinced consumers and can generally command a higher price.

                      The USDA does not invest millions of dollars into promoting organic products. They’ve developed the label, and the label is being used to market the products. This isn’t comparable to the FDA investing millions in “sci-comm” to convince consumers that dicamba-tolerant crops are good to eat, good for the environment, and good for the world.

                    • mem_somerville

                      Yes, they do. It’s all the organic program is. Here’s the press release from the announcement: http://www.ecomall.com/greenshopping/usdafinal.htm

                      “I am confident that our work will lead to even greater growth and opportunity in what is already a $6 billion dollar organic food industry.”

                      “Let me be clear about one other thing. The organic label is a marketing tool. It is not a statement about food safety. Nor is “organic” a value judgment about nutrition or quality. ”

                      Dan Glickman, announcing the organic program, 2000. It’s about growing the market.

                      I understand that you don’t want to accept that, but in fact that’s what it is.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      We need to differentiate between marketing as in: making for sale, and marketing as in promoting, advertising, public relations, etc.

                      The organic label is being used as a marketing tool. The USDA is not spending millions in trying to figure out how to convince consumers to buy organic. It’s the label the USDA gives that is serving to promote these products to consumers who favor them.

                      “Growing the market” means selling to more consumers, it doesn’t mean disseminating pseudo-scientific information to consumers to convince them that organic food is needed to “feed the world”. I will grant you that there are groups that do that kind of propaganda – but it’s not funded by the federal government.

                      If you want to discuss the articles you’re linking to, let’s read them in full and address what they’re saying – not pull quotes and then claim that they support your assertion that the USDA is spending millions on sci-comm for organic.

                    • mem_somerville

                      Yes, they are–that’s all the program is about–selling more to consumers. Nothing else. They do communication on that in many ways. Sure, I don’t think it’s scicomm either because it’s so rife with nonsense, but some people would say it is.

                      I guess we can just hope that the feds can help people like you to understand that. Organic marketers have been misusing the program to mislead in many ways, and we need to ensure that people are making the right science-based decisions on many topics.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Sorry, but I need to make sure you understand:

                      The article you linked to talks about meeting the exploding demand for organic food, and developing standards across the board.

                      The difference between that and what the FDA is seeking to do is clear.

                      One is working to meet a consumer demand, the other is trying to convince consumers to accept certain products.

                      They are diametrically opposed.

                      You can twist it and turn it and it’s still the same. The FDA is looking to give millions to those who might help to soothe concerns of consumers who are suspicious of biotech foods. This is federal financial support of private financial interests. The USDA is standardizing its organic label, and that label is being used to market products to consumers who are demanding them.

                      What is your understanding of USDA organic? Are you denying that there are standards, however silly they might be? Do you live in the US?

                    • mem_somerville

                      I understand why you can’t accept this, but organic is nothing but a marketing program. I’ll grant you is a more complex than average scheme to market to purity trolls and take their money. But it is nothing more than marketing no matter how much you insist that it is not.

                      The organic program resides in the Agricultural Marketing Service. That is a fact. https://www.ams.usda.gov/about-ams/programs-offices/national-organic-program

                      The standard are just part of the complex marketing gambit. They say right on their page that it has nothing to do with food safety or nutrition.

                      Our regulations do not address food safety or nutrition.

                      It’s not a matter of understanding. It’s a matter of fact.

                      Or are you one of those people who thinks “organic” is non-profit? I’ve actually seen people say that. That is 100% laughable.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      You got one thing right – the thing you quoted from someone else. The USDA organic label isn’t about safety or nutrition. USDA is a production standard. People don’t look for the organic label in order to ensure that they’re getting safer or more nutritious food – but there are unscrupulous advertisers who imply that organic is safer and more nutritious. The only real safety difference that’s plain is the difference in pesticide residues. Other differences would require more research.

                      The USDA organic label is used by producers to market their products (using the word market in the same way that you are using it). But, despite your insistence, USDA organic is not a marketing tool in itself, just like the FDA isn’t a marketing tool, but advertisers might use it that way (saying “FDA approved” and allowing consumers to read into that whatever they choose)

                      Trying to say that USDA is pure marketing just because it’s part of Agriculture Marketing Service either exposes your deceit or your lack of familiarity with the two basic meanings of “marketing”.

                      “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising”

                      promoting, and selling. The USDA label governs how organics can be sold. The USDA doesn’t actively promote the sale of organics. HOWEVER, the label is used to promote sales, by producers big and small.

                      Are you denying that there are USDA enforceable standards? Like no sewer sludge? No GMOs? Restrictions on types of pesticides? You may say that these are all scientifically meaningless, but they do exist. It’s not just an advertising ploy. Ask an organic farmer. He or she may disagree with standards too. But they will definitely not say that it’s only about marketing.

                      If you want to continue to argue about this, let’s use the words promote and sell rather than the word marketing. That way we’ll be clear on what’s being implied.

                      Also, it seems like you’re trying to make a dichotomy here (organic vs. biotech) in order to then say that anyone who opposes putting money into promoting GMO products to consumers shouldn’t support “USDA organic”. They are two completely different things. We don’t have a “USDA biotech” that can be marketed as such. And the FDA isn’t trying to find a way to assuage consumer fears about organic.

                      I suspect that those who have financial interests in the biotech sector don’t like it that consumers are clamoring for expanded organic options. They want consumers to accept GMO products. That’s fine all the way around as far as I’m concerned. There’s plenty of issues on both sides. However, I don’t support federal money going to marketing for private enterprise and profit – and that’s what this FDA proposal is doing.

                    • mem_somerville

                      Totes adorable–you are making stuff right up now:

                      Trying to say that USDA is pure marketing just because it’s part of Agriculture Marketing Service either exposes your deceit or your lack of familiarity with the two basic meanings of “marketing”.

                      I never said USDA was pure marketing, dear. It’s “organic” that is. They say that themselves. I don’t know how much clearer this can be.

                      And we already covered the fact about the standards–they support the marketing effort, that’s all.

                      But yes, please just leap to a conspiracy theory instead of dealing with your failure to understand the issue.

                      This, though, is priceless:

                      However, I don’t support federal money going to marketing for private enterprise and profit – and that’s what this FDA proposal is doing.

                      You couldn’t have described organic more perfectly. In case you can’t see that, let me be clearer:

                      However, I don’t support federal money going to marketing for private enterprise and profit – and that’s what this Organic proposal is doing.

                      Look, I get it–you can’t accept that it is the same. But just because I think organic is harmful nonsense, I’m not working to stop their outreach.

                    • JoeFarmer

                      Lisa is one of the unteachable type. She did this in the last biofortified thread, too. She’d rather attempt to argue about what the definition of “is” is than admit she’s wrong.

                    • mem_somerville

                      As far as I can tell her problem is “monsanto bad”, which really doesn’t demonstrate a sound grasp of the issues at hand.

                    • JoeFarmer

                      It’s really remarkable. Ask a few questions of an anti-GE type, and in about 3 rounds the conspiracy theories start.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      biofortified has decided to hold up the comment to which your reply was made, even though you were apparently able to read it and reply. There’s no point in me responding to any more of your comments if the blog is going to censor the discussion in such a fashion. I’ll check back later. Goodbye until then.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      OK – I left out the word organic after USDA. But since we’ve gone over this so many times – you should know by now.

                      So I’ll re-state. USDA organic is not marketing, it’s certification of a production standard. Sci-comm promotion of GMOs is marketing. Apples and oranges.

                      You’re attempting to confusticate the issues of the OP by bringing in a sector of agricultural production, implying it’s economically opposite to GMO commodities, and then trying to make one superior to the other – even though they’re both about production methods and nothing more.

                      Neither the FDA nor the USDA is putting federal dollars into assuaging consumer concerns about organic products, but rather the FDA is seeking to put 3 million dollars into convincing consumers that GMOs are not just safe, but beneficial agricultural products.

                      Regardless of my feelings about whether GMOs are beneficial or not, I don’t support federal money for sci-comm professionals promoting specific commercial products. I’m entitled to that opinion, and I don’t know why it gets people here so upset.

                    • JoeFarmer

                      “So I’ll re-state. USDA organic is not marketing, it’s certification of a production standard.”

                      Incorrect, as has already been pointed out to you more than once.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Yup, a few people are saying that I’m incorrect, but they haven’t provided anything to contradict what I’m saying except their flapping gums, whereas I’ve linked you to the government web pages that describe USDA organic. I’m ready to agree with you, but I need for you to show me something that upholds your opinion that USDA organic is just plain old salesmanship. I do get that your belief that the standards it upholds are meaningless, but that doesn’t make it marketing anymore than my belief that GMOs are magical makes the FDA’s proposal showmanship.

                    • JoeFarmer

                      They’re saying you’re incorrect because you are incorrect. The real problem is you’re unable to acknowledge when you’re incorrect.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      What we try to do here is provide evidence and reasonable discussion. Just saying someone is incorrect is neither of those things. I’m still willing to read your explanation of why you’re claiming that USDA organic certification is pure marketing. We’ve already established that the way it’s administered by the USDA doesn’t support your claim. Perhaps you’ve got something else.

                    • Sam Gilman

                      Isn’t the organic label also based on disputed scientific claims of being healthier and more environmentally sound?

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      They’re claimed to be healthier because in general they have fewer numbers and amounts of pesticide residue, and may be higher in certain nutrients like antioxidants. USDA organic forbids sewer sludge as fertilizer and prohibits organophosphate pesticides, which are linked to health problems, especially in children.

                    • Jason

                      Organic agriculture isn’t about “standards” at all. It’s about ideology. Standards implies some level of quality or benefit. But that’s not how organic guidelines are built. They are essentially set by organic marketers so as to give the impression of health or nature because that is a marketable perception. The guidelines are not built to actually show a demonstrated benefit to you or to the environment.

                      It is quite literally, 100% marketing.

                      And I’m sorry to break this to you, but the companies selling biotech seeds are the exact same companies selling seed to organic farmers. They have no qualms about organic Ag.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Sounds like the way Monsanto supported itself being regulated by the FDA, USDA and EPA so that they could say that their products were safe, effective and environmentally sound. We all know that the regulation doesn’t assure any of that, but then industry advocates can say it’s “heavily regulated”

                      PS – there are actual organic standards. Read the article mem linked to.

                    • Jason

                      Monsanto can say their products are safe because that’s what the science indicates. And why doesn’t the regulation of govt entities give assurance of safety? They’ve got a pretty good track record. Obviously not 100%, but then what is?

                      Organic “standards” are just the rules put in place to gain certification. It is a process based certification. It has nothing to do with product quality standards or consumer benefit standards. It is simply a certification that some ideological rules are followed. Again… these rules are ideological. They are not based on any scientific standard. I can say this with certainty because I am heavily involved in midwestern agriculture. I am very familiar with farming regulation.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      I never said that organic has anything to do with safety or nutrition. Consumers may discern that there are benefits to choosing organic, but that’s not what the USDA ORganic label indicates. The label indicates that the production has met certain standards. The standards aren’t ideological – they are actual process restrictions and rules. Whether or not you agree that they’re scientifically supportable, you must agree to that very definition of USDA organic or your further conclusions are flawed.

                      Anybody can say their products are safe. They can also say that the science indicates they’re safe, even when it doesn’t or there’s no science to indicate anything.

                    • Jason

                      The standards aren’t ideological – they are actual process restrictions and rules.

                      They are most certainly ideological. They are based on an ideology using natural substances. There is no scientific backing demonstrating there is any benefit too these practices or rules, so it is the very definition of ideology.

                      Whether or not you agree that they’re scientifically supportable, you must agree to that very definition of USDA organic or your further conclusions are flawed.

                      I don’t know what this means. It’s not a question of whether they are scientifically supportable. There was no science used to base the regulations off of. As I stated earlier… this is not a scientific program. It is an ideological one. Similar to kosher or other process based designations. I never claimed that the the definition of USDA wasn’t meeting “process restrictions”. In fact, I stated it was a process based certification. That’s one indication that it’s ideological. It doesn’t focus on the end product. It focuses on the process used to reach the product. As you likely know, there is always more than one way to,produce an identical product.

                      They can also say that the science indicates they’re safe, even when it doesn’t or there’s no science to indicate anything.

                      No… I’m afraid they can not legally do that.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Sorry, not interested in reading your comments any further. You’re saying a lot of stuff, but I don’t see that it matches up with reality. USDA organic is a standard of production. That’s it. It’s not ideological, and there’s no indication that’s it’s ideological. And furthermore none of what you’re saying has anything to do with the op.

                    • JoeFarmer

                      You are incorrect. But that seems to happen a lot with you.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Insult noted.

                    • Verna Lang

                      Monsanto is also regulated by Health Canada, the EFSA and other regulatory agencies around the globe. The EU has funded independent research into genetic engineered foods for well over a decade.
                      Organic and conventional production crops do not have to meet the same safety standards as GMOs in most of the world. There are no required compositional analyses, no allergenicity studies, and no feeding studies with the exception of Health Canada. Novel traits produced by GE, mutagenesis, polyploidy or other ‘conventional’ means are now required to undergo safety studies by Health Canada. Finally, some regulation between nuking some seed with gamma radiation, which introduces an unknown number of mutations, growing up the survivors, finding a pretty colour, and that mutation ending up on people’s plates as soon as the crop can be grown.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      There are USDA Organic standards. USDA Organic is not marketing (as in advertising), although promoters use it that way to market organic products.

                    • Jason

                      There are standardized processes that must be followed to be certified. If that’s what you mean by “standards”, then yes. If you mean that they have some implication of quality or benefit, they do not.

                      As for marketing, there was a very deliberate reason that the organic program is governed by the USDA Ag Marketing Service.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      We’re not talking about implications, we’re talking about facts. I need some from you to support your claims.

                    • JoeFarmer

                      Why is the National Organic Program administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service of the USDA rather than another agency of USDA?

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      A good question that may help illuminate the issue some seem to be struggling with: marketing vs. promotion. Here’s a list of USDA Agencies:
                      https://www.usda.gov/our-agency/agencies

                      Follow the Marketing Services link and you’ll see that this agency handles the intersection between USDA programs and marketplace concerns. Organic certification is just one of many marketplace developments that the USDA is involved in.

                      Again, FDA proposal is to money for sci-comm interests is NOT equal to USDA management of organic certification. So, my repeated question here seems to be: why are several people trying to make my comments on this FDA proposal into a war between organic and biotech?

                      Biotech commodities are still a major part of farm economics. Organic sales are a little more than 4% of food sales. Even if you’re heavily invested in biotech, what’s the problem? As has been pointed out already by another commentor, the same companies are profiting in both realms. why not just diversify your portfolio?

                    • JoeFarmer

                      LMAO! I was telling Mary that you were one of the unteachable type and I sure wasn’t wrong!

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Care to explain? I’m sure you can teach me something.

                    • Jason

                      😂😂. I have been giving you nothing but facts!

                      – It is a program of the Ag Marketing Service. Fact.

                      – the guidelines are not based on any claimed producer or consumers benefits, let alone proved ones. They are based on the idea that natural is better. That’s ideological. Fact.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Wow. Thought we’d already agreed on what USDA organic means. It is not based on any idea that natural is better. It’s based on production standards. Please read my response to JoeFarmer below for further comment on the Ag Marketing Service. Thank you

                    • Jason

                      Oh Christ. You’re just being bull headed. It is not based on “production standards”. Production standards are the result! It is a set of production standards that are based on an ideology.

                      If you don’t believe that to be true, answer one question…. what are the production standards based on?

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      OK, I get what you’re saying. But your opinion that it’s an ideology is just that: opinion. And the differences in pesticide residues are one example. These residues are shown to affect human health.

                      And now you’re a blasphemer too. Believe me Jason, this isn’t worth that kind of thing.

                    • JoeFarmer

                      ” And the differences in pesticide residues are one example. These residues are shown to affect human health.”

                      Uh-huh. Let’s see a citation for that.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Look it up yourself. At this point it’s general knowledge and I can state it as fact.

                    • JoeFarmer

                      So you can’t support your claim. Not a surprise.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      I think it’s inappropriate to start a link-war about pesticides under a blog post about FDA promotion of commercial biotech products.

                    • JoeFarmer

                      Second chance to defend your statement and you fail to do so because you’re incapable of admitting when you’re wrong.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk
                    • Verna Lang

                      From your link: “In the present study, we carried out meta-analyses based on 343 peer-reviewed publications that indicate statistically significant and meaningful differences in composition between organic and non-organic crops/crop-based foods.”
                      Is it any surprise that a meta analysis that only looked at studies that showed “statistically and meaningful differences in composition” crunched the numbers and found differences between organic and conventional? If you only look at the studies that agree with a foregone conclusion, of course the analysis will prove your point.
                      That study tells us nothing about how many compositional studies of high quality have been carried out and how many have found no significant differences between organic and conventional. Without that comparison, this is just a study of cherry-picked data.

                    • Jason

                      No. It’s not an opinion. Your pesticide example is a perfect illustration. The reason you assume there is a difference in pesticides is because what’s reported on are “synthetic pesticides”. Well, of course there’s going to be a difference because synthetic pesticides aren’t allowed on organic production. But natural pesticides are. Oddly… you never hear any stats on natural pesticides. Strange… right? But that’s his marketing works.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      actually there are comparative studies on these things, but as I’ve already explained I think it’s inappropriate to have that discussion here. It’s irrelevant to the OP

                    • Jason

                      Yes. There are comparative studies. That’s why I’m able to say what I’m saying.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      So, if that’s where you want to go and the site will indulge, bring forth your comparative studies. I’ve provided a link to a meta-study below, in response to JoeFarmer’s goading.

                    • Jason
                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      The shortcomings of the STanford study have already been discussed on this site and in the media. Please see my link to the Newcastle study below for a more definitive metastudy, and one that isn’t prone to conflict of interest and faulty analysis.

                    • Jason

                      Ahhh .. a “more definitive” study, huh?

                      Sounds legit. I don’t suppose it had ever crossed your mind why no organic marketers ever claim any specific benefits… ever. Had it?

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Is the FDA putting money into public relations for USDA organic?

                    • mem_somerville

                      Would it matter if it’s FDA or USDA? Why?

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Please see comment below – where is the USDA putting millions into marketing organic?

                    • mem_somerville

                      Please see answer below.

                      Let’s try another example: if the FDA wants to provide information to consumers on vaccines–is that unacceptable to you?

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      I didn’t say I was opposed to the FDA providing information about anything. I said I was opposed to the FDA investing 3 million to positively influence consumers opinions on certain biotech products. It’s inappropriate use of federal dollars to promote for-profit biotech products.

                    • mem_somerville

                      So you would oppose FDA positively influencing consumers about vaccines–which are also biotech products.

                      Insulin too?

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Is that what I said? No. We’re talking about biotech crops and the “sci-comm” people who will make a lot of money fulfilling the FDA’s goal of promoting them.

                    • mem_somerville

                      Why would vaccines be different?

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      It’s Agricultural biotech education and outreach, not vaccine outreach

                    • Jason

                      What’s the difference? Isn’t it still correcting misconceptions about things regulated by the FDA?

                    • mem_somerville

                      That’s not an answer. They are both biotech consumer education within the remit of the FDA.

                      There was a great campaign a couple of years back with Elmo to get consumer acceptance of vaccines. I support more science-based consumer information outreach. I’m sorry that you don’t. They totally need to evolve on these things, because they are getting trounced by pseudoscience peddlers on these topics that have real impact on human health.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      That is the answer. You didn’t read the proposal. It’s not about biotech vaccines, it’s about biotech agriculture. You’re trying to push this into a different kind of argument where your baloney will have more meat in it. And you’re trying to make it sound like I’m saying things that I’m not. I support science-based outreach. We just don’t agree that what you’re doing is science-based outreach and not public relations for Monsanto.

                    • mem_somerville

                      So your answer is you support science-based outreach but not when you don’t like the topic.

                      Got it.

                      I don’t think that’s probably a helpful basis for the question at hand, but I appreciate that you illustrated how entangled the bad ideas about Monsanto are tied to this issue. Perfectly demonstrated, and perfectly demonstrating the need for this whether you like it or not.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Again, no. I support federal science-based outreach when beneficial for the health and safety of US citizens. I don’t support public dollars for the promotion of specific commercial products.

                      And I don’t see why there can’t be disagreement on the health and safety of Monsanto products without “sci-comm” people getting their panties in a bunch.

                    • mem_somerville

                      But this is “beneficial for the health and safety of US citizens”. People are making bad choices about foods because of things like Monsanto conspiracy theories.

                      I’m glad that’s sorted. Communication at it’s finest. You just had a deficit of understanding about this effort.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      It’s possible that people are making bad choices about foods because of Monsanto conspiracy theories. I’ll grant you that. But no, there’s been no sorting of the FDA’s proposal to put 3 million into promoting consumer acceptance of GMOs.

                    • mem_somerville

                      But we are totally in agreement–let’s enjoy that:

                      I support federal science-based outreach when beneficial for the health and safety of US citizens.

                      The only remaining issue is that you don’t get to select the science you agree with or not in order to make that call. I would recommend that you choose to stand with the National Academy of Sciences on this issue. But of course, you are free to choose those sources you refuse to name.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      I get to decide what’s science-based outreach and what’s marketing.
                      I don’t go for clap trap that’s more about the advancement of corporate interests and shareholders, and less about science.

                    • mem_somerville

                      What if you are wrong (and you are)? What is your responsibility for misinforming people?

                      We’ve seen what happens when vaccine misinformation causes harm. Are you going to pay for more expensive food for the poor? What will you do to counter the damage to the environment from the poor choices forced on farmers? Are you going to start handweeding across America (in the carcinogenic sun)?

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Catastrophize much?

                    • mem_somerville

                      Oh, that’s a good idea–deflect any personal responsibility you have for the bad information, conspiracy theories, and your attempts to block quality information from being out there.

                      Sleep well.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      I am not responsible for bad information because I’m not a scientific communicator. You’re assuming lots of horrible consequences – when in reality, educating the public in science will help to prevent these things you fear. People are smart, but they need education.

                    • mem_somerville

                      Yes, you are responsible. We have the evidence. It’s right here.

                      But it is true that people need better information. Which is the whole point of this. So I’m glad we’ve come to that agreement again as well.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      also mem, respectfully, can you please tell your friends at biofortified to post my comment? the one that you already replied to but which has been held up by the site for 5 hours now? It’s not a big deal, but in the spirit of open debate I think it’s important to post contrary viewpoints.

                    • Jackson

                      If it is any consolation, it is awaiting moderation, but people can still see it.

                    • Jason
                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Organic is getting a little bit more under the farm bill, which supports all sectors of agriculture. None of it is for marketing or assuaging consumer concerns about safety of organics. So, your link doesn’t support the claim that USDA is putting millions into marketing organic food.
                      edit: meaning: you still haven’t made a comparison between the USDA /organic and FDA/biotech promotion

                    • Jason

                      Lisa… these are subsidies to enable farmers to more easily participate in a program of the Ag Marketing Service. I’m not sure what else you’d call it if not Marketing.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      Clever jumbling of terminology and titles, but still no valid comparison between what the FDA seeks to do with federal dollars (promote consumer acceptance of GMOs) and what the USDA is doing by funding the USDA program through the farm bill.

                      Maybe if you try making your claim using some synonyms for “marketing” we can both figure this out. Again, the USDA organic program is about marketing as in “we brought the goods to market as USDA certified organic produce”. The FDA’s proposal is about marketing as in “we seek to market GMOs to dubious consumers”

                    • Jason

                      Ok. You go right ahead & believe that. Have a nice day.

                    • Jackson

                      I bet your local university has a weekly seminar series from several different departments that intersect agriculture and GMOs. I know my place of employment has a weekly seminar series and a quarterly conversation series.

                      Have you checked that out?

      • RobertWager

        Maybe you can explain this from the European Academies of Science since there is no way they are also under the same “alleged” Monsanto control:

        “There is no validated evidence that GM crops have greater adverse impact on health and
        the environment than any other technology used in plant breeding…There is compelling evidence that
        GM crops can contribute to sustainable development goals with benefits to farmers, consumers, the
        environment and the economy… It is vital that sustainable agricultural production and food security
        harnesses the potential of biotechnology in all its facets.” Planting the Future EASAC 2013

        • Lisa Makarchuk

          This is science lingo clap trap. It means nothing. Throw it in the pile of “metrics” used to create charts and graphs from GENERA. Then show it to a scientifically illiterate public in order to try to sway them as consumers, and benefit the bottom dollar of corrupt companies like Monsanto and Bayer.

          • Jason

            That kinda sounds like you’ve formed an opinion and dismissed all the science outright in order to confirm your opinion.

            • Lisa Makarchuk

              we’re two peas in a pod

              • Jason

                So then you base your opinions on son the preponderance of scientific evidence? Because it seems like the opposite based on your comments.

                • Lisa Makarchuk

                  sometimes what seems to be is not

                  • Jason

                    So, then we’re not two peas… ?

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      LOL

          • Damo

            Why do the scientifically illiterate always seem to say that “charts and graphs” are meant to fool the scientifically illiterate? If you know it is not correct, point out how it is not.

            • Lisa Makarchuk

              Have done.

              • Damo

                Non answer noted.

                • Lisa Makarchuk

                  answered previously and I’m not interested in writing a new book for you Thanks

  • Lisa Makarchuk

    To my mind, it’s more important to push science education in public secondary schools. The industry has too much influence in our regulatory process. Better to have a well-educated public that can discern the scientific facts for themselves. “Biotech outreach” is just a new term for public relations for companies like Monsanto, Bayer, etc. It’s too riddled with industry rhetoric to inform.

    • RobertWager

      How would you best counter the massive amount of false information about GE crops that the average person runs into when they look to get information on the subject?

      • Lisa Makarchuk

        I would like to see structured education on the pertinent science directed to the public, but more so in the schools, and from independent educators not invested in the success of the biotech industry, the pesticide industry, etc.

        For example, weed scientists are voicing distress with the situation that’s been created by dicamba-tolerant crops. Why aren’t we hearing from them directly? Because they’re independent scientists and educators, they’re not “sci-comm” professionals with a vested interest in promoting the industry’s products.

        • RobertWager

          So the statements from National Academies of Science are OK, same question for National Health Authorities or National Food Safety Authorities?

          • Lisa Makarchuk

            Sorry, not understanding.

            • Damo

              You are right, we do need to fund science education. Maybe then you would understand.

              • Lisa Makarchuk

                Robert’s comment is nonsensical, that’s why I don’t understand it. My lack of understanding has nothing to do with my science education. You’re trying to insult me. You can try again, or try to be a nicer person.

        • Jackson

          I would like to see structured education on the pertinent science directed to the public, but more so in the schools, and from independent educators not invested in the success of the biotech industry, the pesticide industry, etc.

          To follow up on my previous comment to you, where you able to find anything about weekly talks hosted by your local university?

          Upcoming titles of talks near me from non-industry sources:

          Complex Trait Genetics – hypervariable genetic elements and regulatory DNA in plants

          Mining NLRs from crop relatives to establish a diverse pool of disease resistance traits

          Customization and optimization of flower production and crop productivity

          Learning from imprecise data for hyperspectral image analysis

          Regulation of Cell Wall Biogenesis and Hydrolysis in the Bacterial Plant Pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens

          I think you will be able to find public talks from scientists so you can hear from them directly if you put a few minutes into google searching.

          • Lisa Makarchuk

            Why aren’t we hearing from sci-comm on the conflicts around dicamba-tolerant crops?

            • Jackson

              I don’t know what you mean by “conflicts,” but I will guess that you are referring to the unexpected extent of dicamba volatilization that ended up damaging neighboring crops. I did hear about that from scientists at universities around where I live. I also heard stories on the radio about it with interviews with farmers and horticultural scientists from regional universities.

              Have you looked into your local lecture series yet?

              • Lisa Makarchuk

                Monsanto Attacks Scientists After Studies Show Trouble For Weedkiller Dicamba
                https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/10/26/559733837/monsanto-and-the-weed-scientists-not-a-love-story

                • Jackson

                  …OK? Not sure what point you are trying to make.

                  Any luck tracking down some interesting talks put on by non-industry scientists in your area?

                  • Lisa Makarchuk

                    The point is: where is sci-comm on these issues, which are of interest to farmers and the public? Scientists have something to say, but we’re not hearing it from your FDA sci-comm sources.

                    • Jackson

                      I hear about these issues all the time. I go to scientific talks by scientists, who are communicating the work that they are doing.

                      You keep asking the question, “why aren’t we hearing about this from scientists?”

                      My answer: I am hearing about these things from scientists. I have been trying to get you to hear about these things from scientists, too. Seriously, I bet it will take you less than 5 minutes on google to find high quality talks by scientists communicating what they are working on.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      We’re not talking about the same thing. I was asked “How would you best counter the massive amount of false information about
                      GE crops that the average person runs into when they look to get
                      information on the subject?” and I said that I would like to see more real science education as opposed to science “communication” , which I see as glorified PR.

                      As an example, I pointed out that weed scientists are saying things about the new dicamb-tolerant crops and the problems showing up around their use. Why aren’t those discussions happening in “sci-comm”? And i’ll give you the answer: because sci-comm isn’t actually science communication or education, it’s public relations. And a negative story like a man being murdered in the melee of dicamba conflicts, occurring around Monsanto releasing the crops before there was a safe pesticide version, isn’t good public relations for biotech.

                    • Jackson

                      The part that frustrates me is that you spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about science communication as only consisting of industry PR, but when I try to get you to find some science communication around you from non-industry sources, direct from the scientist doing the work, you show zero interest. I bet you haven’t even taken the 30 seconds it would take to look up the seminar series for your local university.

                      As an example, I pointed out that weed scientists are saying things about the new dicamb-tolerant crops and the problems showing up around their use. Why aren’t those discussions happening in “sci-comm”?

                      Those weed scientists are saying those things in public. That’s science communication!

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      OK, we can clear this up. I’m willing to accept your definition of sci-comm, in which case we have no disagreement any longer. My problem is with the FDA funding public relations for commercial products to be promoted to consumers.

                    • Lisa Makarchuk

                      but, additionally – that’s journalism. The scientists are talking, and the journalists are reporting. That’s not really sci-comm, which tends to be casting a favorable light on various commercial products that also happen to be high-tech and involve science that’s difficult for the public to understand.

                    • Damo

                      I think Lisa’s problem is that no one is putting it right under her nose. And no one will as long as she is visiting the kind of places that don’t want to have honest dialog. I’ve heard about the dicamba on my local radio station and it is being talked about by local extension (remember local extension offices are the original “Scicomm”) agents, even though it isn’t a local problem.

                      Nope, if you live your life going to blogs that want to scare the bejeebus out of you, you will not hear a well rounded discussion on the matter.

                • Verna Lang
    • JoeFarmer

      “…it’s more important to push science education in public secondary schools.”

      Ummm, there are about 15 million kids enrolled in public secondary schools in the U.S. The population of the U.S. is 323 million. “Pushing science education” to less than 5% of the population isn’t going to be effective.

      ” “Biotech outreach” is just a new term for public relations for
      companies like Monsanto, Bayer, etc. It’s too riddled with industry
      rhetoric to inform.”

      You’re couching your anti-corporatism/neosocialism as faux criticism about scicomm.

      • Lisa Makarchuk

        No. I really am critical of so-called sci-comm. And I’d rather be an anti-corporate neosocialist than a neocon fascist.

        • JoeFarmer

          Since you’ve demonstrated a serious lack of understanding of the USDA National Organic Program, I’m not convinced any criticism from you of sci-comm is valid.

          Are you neosocialist just when it comes to biotech companies, or all for-profit ventures?

          You don’t seem to have a problem using a computer made by a for-profit company and connecting to the internet, the infrastructure of which is made by for-profit companies.

          • Lisa Makarchuk

            I’m not opposed to for-profit enterprise. Same way that I doubt you’re opposed to social security and medicare. What are your questions about USDA Organic? It’s all online.

            • JoeFarmer

              You never answered my question: Why is the National Organic Program administered by USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and not another agency of USDA?

              • Lisa Makarchuk

                Why don’t you ask them? I’m not a USDA bureaucrat. You can see that that agency covers certification, so that’s my guess.

                • JoeFarmer

                  No one will ever accuse you of being smart.

                  • Lisa Makarchuk

                    And your brilliant idea is that it’s because USDA organic is just advertising for – what exactly?

                    • JoeFarmer

                      Obvious troll is obvious.

  • WeGotta

    Thanks for the info!
    I submitted my comments.

    Looks like people are against it.

    • JoeFarmer

      As usual, you show your inability to read and process information.

      • WeGotta

        As usual, one can simply read the comments submitted thus far and clearly see most of them are against such propaganda.
        Which makes you look foolish, as usual.

        • JoeFarmer

          If you think multiple comments from one person validate your brainless comment, you’re in even worse shape than I thought.

          • WeGotta

            Conspiracy theories. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

            • JoeFarmer

              No conspiracy theory. Buy a dictionary and learn what, “conspiracy theory” means. Then again, you’re probably incapable of understanding that, too.

              • WeGotta

                Definition of conspiracy theory:a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.

                As in joe has this theory that there’s a secret plot underfoot whereby all the comments on a government website have been high jacked.

                • JoeFarmer

                  Nope, but thanks for showing once again the level and severity of your brain damage.

  • I didn’t notice that this comment thread was busy over the last 24 hours. While I am pleased to see this topic interesting to people, I’m not seeing a very productive discussion. We try to cultivate civil discussions here and welcome disagreements, but it is worth pointing to our comment policy for everyone to take a look at.
    https://www.biofortified.org/blog/comment-policy/
    I have removed a few comments that I saw violating this policy. I would also like to note that I consider making claims about propaganda without evidence to both be speculative and trolling in nature. That goes for everyone.

    • Lisa Makarchuk

      Can you please post my comment that begins “You got one thing right – the…”
      Or tell me why not? Thanks Karl.

      • I think it was held up automatically, and thought I made it visible. I’ll look for it when I have use of my laptop again.

    • WeGotta

      Seems like you’re very lenient with those who agree with you.

  • The FDA Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative is not marketing. My comments yesterday at the FDA advocated against marketing specific products (which they wouldn’t do anyway) but provide information independent of the companies that produce them in the case of nutritionally altered foods so that the public can understand these changes. Otherwise, general information about the technology, its uses, the science on how it works and its impacts, etc should be the rule. The FDA is asking for public comments to guide what they should do.

    And yes, they should work with professional science communicators to make good use of public money to both accurately and cost-effectively reach the American public with science-based information so they can make informed decisions. This is not a bad thing.

    • Lisa Makarchuk

      It’s just a problem when the sci-communicators aren’t intellectually independent, but are rather inclined to see through the industry’s glasses. Various impacts aren’t given consideration, and are minimized to the public because the communicators just don’t see the problem. Then they argue against those who disagree by claiming that detractors “aren’t scientific”.

      Better to avoid even any appearance of conflict of interest by keeping federal money out of this kind of outreach. If the industry is interested in providing this information under the auspices of the FDA, let them pay for it and let it be identified as commercial promotion. Similarly, let the USDA disseminate info on just what exactly does and doesn’t constitute organic, so that consumers of every food will be better informed on all of this contentious stuff. There’s a lot of argument about what’s good and bad in biotech and in organic, so let’s put it all out there and let the chips fall where they may.

      If the public gets wind that the information they’re being given is influenced by industry goals, it will undermine any integrity our scientific regulatory agencies still have.

      • If we aren’t intellectually independent then how come we come up with all the good ideas while the industry struggles with outreach? Seriously, please stop projecting your dislike of biotechnology onto those who explain it and insulting them like that. You’ve been doing it here for years, and making up claims about other people’s work, not just our own. The same goes for those who are spending their time saying you won’t understand these issues. I believe you do. I do not believe your objection to this very small program is due to a consistent principle on public policy, otherwise like opinions expressed about documentary films we would see you saying the same thing about identical and worse examples.
        I agree that the FDA needs to keep itself independent but I do not see a conflict with their regulatory powers and educating the public about our food. The FDA has an interest in public health and consumer awareness of food contents. If you watched the public comment event – all 4+ hours of it that I attended in-person, you would be better informed of the tenor of these proceedings, and their perspective, and mine as well. The video will be up in 2 weeks – I recommend watching it in full before making more uninformed statements.

        • WeGotta

          “Cleverness is not wisdom” Euripides
          “People who boast about their IQ are losers” Stephen Hawking

          The FDA “needs to” be protecting our health. When the most common causes of sickness, death and bankruptcy are directly related to the our food, then they are obviously not doing their job.
          When you try to find out how it could be that they are failing so badly you quickly understand that it’s because those people selling the dangerous foods have taken over the FDA.

      • Eric Bjerregaard

        It has all been out there for quite a while now. The chips have fallen. The technology can be used safely. “industry glasses” Cite a few specific examples.

    • WeGotta

      This is such a blatant insulting lie.
      Promoting milk promotes the companies that sell milk. GE products are just that, products. It’s just a widget that you want to sell for your own financial gain.
      You are the very reason for the growing distrust of science and expert opinion every time you use it for marketing purposes.

    • WeGotta

      At what point would you consider the public has “been informed” and has rejected it anyway?
      What would constitute informed public non-acceptance to you?

      Or will the informing just keep going on and on?

      • A high degree of awareness and knowledge of the subject combined with a strong opinion against its use, with no wiggle room for applications that are exceptions to the rule. So you’d have to go back and even convince diabetics not to use insulin. Social science research has shown that people are open-minded to the technology, despite some small segments of the population being very vocal in their opposition.

        • WeGotta

          We have to convince diabetics to stop using insulin if we don’t want to eat gmo?
          In other words, you’ll never stop trying to convince people because you’ve set up unrealistic criteria for informed non-acceptance.

          What makes the claim “you must accept gmo food or diabetics don’t get medicine” any different from the claim “you must reject gmo or you will get diabetes” any different?
          Neither claim is based on facts yet you see only the latter as a problem in need of remediation.

          • Biotechnology covers more than just food. You asked what would convince me that the public has rejected the subject at hand, and that includes that application. It is dishonest to say I am suggesting that diabetics shouldn’t get insulin, quite the opposite.

            • Damo

              You should know that WeGotta specializes in dishonesty.

              • WeGotta

                Does this follow your sites moderation guidelines?

                • Damo

                  It isn’t my site, and I have proven you a liar more than once. Seems fair that I point that out to persons willing to engage with you, so they know what kind of a person they are dealing with.

            • WeGotta

              You’re just restating exactly what you said without justification.

              People don’t have to accept all applicants. They can be fine with a medicine applications and not fine with food applications.
              Just like Eric, you have a dangerous and unrealistic view of the situation.
              You see any non acceptance as ignorance and won’t accept anything less than complete widespread application.

              Yet you don’t see the hypocrisy of you trying to “fix” the public’s views of the situation when you yourself hold such radical views?

              • You don’t seem to know what my views are. Surveys show that people are interested in certain applications more than others. There will always be nuance and variation. I never said people will have to accept all applications of the technology. I’m saying that the view that people will not or do not want ANY applications of the technology is wrong, as you were asking about when you said:

                “At what point would you consider the public has “been informed” and has rejected it anyway?
                What would constitute informed public non-acceptance to you?”

                I answered your question pretty clearly and concisely. In order to demonstrate what you asked – informed non-acceptance of the entire technology, it would require rejection of all of its applications. Perhaps bringing in medical products produced through biotechnology broadened it too much, but the principle is the same. You would have to be able to show that people have actually rejected – in principle – any and all food applications of the technology. If people like Arctic Apples but hate everything else, then the technology is not rejected. I’m not arguing that all applications must be accepted (that’s like arguing that all smart phones are good), nor have I said that rejection would be solely due to ignorance, but you are arguing about having all of them rejected. I think you might want to think about which one is a radical position.

                • Damo

                  Whoa, let’s not get crazy here, most of those words you used were too big for WeGotta to understand.

                  • WeGotta

                    Seems like some people aren’t moderated on this site.

                    • Damo

                      Tell it to the site operator. I don’t know why you would point that out to me. Seems like you want to impede free speech.

                • WeGotta

                  All I can do is respond to your words.
                  You said “So you’d have to go back and even convince diabetics not to use insulin.”
                  Feel free to clarify your statements but don’t accuse me of being radical or misunderstanding your words after you said that.

                  I don’t have to show anything. I was asking you what your endpoint is for this “public information”.
                  To me it sounds like there is no endpoint other than full acceptance.

                  Do you think someone can be fully informed about all the information available and still have the right to refuse this technology being used for their food?
                  Or is that person still “uniformed” in your opinion?

                  • There is no endpoint for an iterative process. Some applications will be accepted, some will become popular, some will be rejected. “Complete acceptance” is not a goal I have (nor is it practical), the goal is the improvement of life for life on this planet and beyond. Like I said, you don’t seem to understand what my goals and beliefs are. I could assume that complete rejection is your goal, but is it? Are their food applications of biotechnology that you are in favor of?

                    • WeGotta

                      For me it’s not about the technology. It’s about who’s using it and why.

                      First and foremost, GE doesn’t honor life.
                      If you don’t know what that means I don’t trust you. It’s just that simple.

                      You say your “goal is the improvement of life for life on this planet and beyond.”
                      Who’s life? Your own?
                      Talk is cheap and liars abound.

                      Are you vegan?
                      If not, I don’t trust anything you say about improving life on this planet.

                      This would mean you literally don’t understand health or you don’t have the same standards as others. Which makes anything you say about GE safety suspect.

                      Don’t you think vegans do more to “improve life for life on this planet and beyond” than people who accept gmo?

                      Secondly, I don’t want yet another powerful special interest industry bribing their influence over my personal choices.
                      This is reason enough to resist gmo.
                      Once again, if you don’t or can’t understand what this means or if you can’t see how many of our problems on this planet stem from such abuses of power you can’t be trusted.
                      You aren’t smart enough to “tinker with dna” plain and simple.

                      The bottom line is that GE is just one way of doing something. It’s just your product. One of thousands and thousands.
                      People don’t have to buy it and their refusal doesn’t have to make sense.
                      There is no mandate that we make smart choices, modern choices or environmentally sound choices.
                      I wish there was.
                      If there was, the producers of GE would likely fight against them.

                    • I’ll put you down for a firm “no.”

                    • WeGotta

                      Firm “no” if those pushing it have absolutely no intention of making simple everyday choices that “actually” would make a positive difference in their own health, and environment rather than expecting someone else to accept their choice that “doesn’t actually” make a difference in the slightest.

                    • Food biotechnology does matter in the lives of people, and makes a difference. Here is an example of papayas, which I’m sure you are aware of, but you can extend it to other people such as subsistence farmers in Uganda who depend upon bananas that are being wiped out by disease, and many more examples.
                      https://www.biofortified.org/2014/03/gmo-papayas-are-about-people/
                      I’m struggling to understand, if a tool can be used to help and improve some aspect of the world, why does it matter what someone else chooses to eat? If someone from Vegan GMO came along and said that biotechnology can help vegans, you would be interested, but not if the person you are talking to doesn’t share your dietary choices?
                      http://www.vegangmo.com

                    • WeGotta

                      Lot’s of things matter and make a difference.

                      For every reason you can give that “gmo helps”, the simple choices you can do right now “helps more”.
                      Adopt a vegan diet, compost, stop buying so much plastic, meditate regularly, etc.
                      If you aren’t doing those things for yourself then don’t tell other people what to do about health, the environment or food.
                      It makes you sound insincere and casts doubt on your motives.

                      This is why I think science is being abused for marketing. It isn’t really about solving any problems, making people more healthy, helping life on earth or benefiting the environment. We could all do those thing right now with some work and personal sacrifice. Without GE.

                      The major problems of agriculture are due to our priorities. First we try to monetize it. That’s the first and major goal. So of course it won’t be sustainable, resilient or enough for everyone.
                      It’s literally built on a model of controlled scarcity.
                      Which maybe gives you the slightest glimpse into some of the opposition against such proposed “fixes”.
                      Maybe a lot of people can’t express their concerns about gmo, but it doesn’t mean they are crazy or that none exist.

                      I could ask you the same question. “Why does it matter what someone else chooses to eat” if it happens to be non-gmo? Why does this mean we need government funded informing?

                    • Thanks for clarifying. I compost, used re-usable bags before it was cool, and my form of meditation involves tending plants at home. When biotechnology can produce good cheese from synthesized milk proteins I’ll find myself buying vegan cheese, but will do so seldom until then. (Hence why I find it interesting that you reject a technology that will make it possible for more people to be vegan). The question of what I eat holds no bearing on the impacts of biotechnology on the food insecure. You sound like you are food secure, which is great, however me or anyone else going vegan will not solve banana wilt, citrus greening, or papaya ringspot virus. Maybe it doesn’t affect you personally so you have the luxury to express your indifference to their situation by avoiding acknowledging it. I choose not to ignore it, and I completely disagree with your rejection of these applications. I believe that the people who it helps have intrinsic value, and helping with biotechnology (or any other viable approach) honors life and is not intrinsically wrong. Thank you for helping me understand your position a little more clearly. I hope you understand mine better.

                      I share your concern about being taken advantage of by profit-seeking enterprises, which is why I must point out that this topic is being polarized by competing commercial interests. Biotechnology is monetized, and the absence of biotechnology is monetized. The first makes profit by providing a service to farmers, producers, and increasingly consumers, which you are worried about because you feel those are false problems or that there are other, better solutions. The second makes profit by encouraging and maintaining ungrounded fear, and provides a service of helping people avoid biotechnology applications they made them afraid of. Both can abuse science and knowledge for undeserved gain. The FDA helps protect people against food scams, and provide accurate and independent information so they can make informed decisions. Federally-funded education is one way to achieve that. If you will read our comment submitted to the FDA you will understand more about our opinions on this issue.

                    • WeGotta

                      There’s already every reason to go vegan.
                      If you won’t give up cheese for your health, for life or for the environment then don’t tell other people what to do for their heath, for life or for the environment.
                      Don’t even talk to me about “luxury” if you choose meat and dairy. Talk about hypocritical. Eating meat and dairy as much as people do is pure luxury since it’s not necessary and is much more wasteful than not eating those things. And more expensive when all things are considered.

                      When our food system is built on a speculation and business models, people will lose jobs, the environment will suffer and crops will fail. That’s how speculation and business works. This should be completely understandable and predictable.
                      Which makes discussion about applications of GE pretty pointless.
                      Which explains why GE has mostly been used to make more of the same junk food that is killing most people while ruining the planet.
                      Why not base our food system on something else instead? There is no goal for our systems except profit for some.

                      The FDA can’t even design dietary guidelines without it’s chosen experts being overruled by the snack food and meat lobby.
                      Why do you expect public trust when there is no reason for it?

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            If the people are informed. There will not be non-acceptance. Why? Because non-acceptance is dependent on ignorance.

            • WeGotta

              You don’t even realize how dangerous and repulsive that is.

              • Eric Bjerregaard

                Wow, you are degenerating even further. Just how is the simple truth I typed dangerous. I understand why a reality opposer is offended though.

                • WeGotta

                  “War is peace.
                  Freedom is slavery.
                  Ignorance is strength.”
                  ― George Orwell, 1984

                  “Non-acceptance is ignorance”
                  -Eric Bjerregaard

                  • Eric Bjerregaard

                    Wrong and as dishonest as usual. I said nonacceptance is due to ignorance.

                    • WeGotta

                      Talk about radical.

                      Eric wants the state to educate people until they accept the product he’s selling. Any refusal is nonacceptance due to ignorance.
                      How about we put people into corporate/government education camps for their own good?

                    • Eric Bjerregaard

                      More lies. I never said I want the state to educate anyone. In fact I prefer home schooling and private schools.

                    • Damo

                      Thanks for more evidence.

  • Lisa Makarchuk

    The FDA’s initiative is just another example of how lobbying manages to take 3million taxpayer dollars and channel them to companies and organizations that promote biotech products from Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, Dow, etc etc etc.. “Science Communicators” aren’t critical of this kind of initiative because in the end it benefits their own goals. But regular people don’t like their hard-earned dollars being spent to convince them that by whatever means their food comes to them, it’s safe. Don’t ask for education, just accept the “outreach”. We deserve more, and our kids deserve more. We should have been asked about the initial appropriation, not asked about how we want to be marketed to.

  • WeGotta

    When people use science as a marketing tool it harms public trust in science.

  • mem_somerville

    I have posted a version of my comment here. Feel free to adopt any ideas for your own comments over at the FDA site.

    https://medium.com/the-method/fda-please-become-the-source-of-scientific-wellness-information-e756de5439ed