Saturday, September 20, 2014

Their bowels sparkle like diamonds

My letter to the editor of The Maui News regarding the GMO ban was published today:

There is disagreement whether the initiative on genetically modified organisms would be a moratorium or a ban. Whatever it is called, it would be a ban.

Businesses rarely reopen following long, indefinite closures. For local farms, we learned this on Molokai when the cattle ranches were closed in order to try to control bovine tuberculosis. The disease was controlled but the ranches did not reopen, even though there was almost no other commercial use for the land.

Nearly two decades since bovine TB was declared over, a few cattle operations are just beginning to venture onto Molokai, but a recent business study calls ranching only a “shadow” of what it was.

There is an allegation circulating on the Internet claiming that all letters to the editor of The Maui News favoring GMOs are written by employees or beneficiaries of Monsanto. So I need to state that I have never received -- or been offered -- anything from any agricultural entity.
Restrained, I think, but there is more to know. For example, if you pick up "Living Aloha: Hawaii's Magazine for a Health Conscious Community and Planet," which is a piece of pro-ban literature available all over, you will learn some cogent things abou the anti-GMO folks.

The underlying question is the evidence for or against harm, actual or possible, from using recombinent genetic methods in farming. This is a scientific question; it can be answered by observation applied to theory.  Arm-waving scare stories and non-specific premonitions of disaster don't count.

Well, it can be answered by people who use evidence and understand and accept the methods of scientific investigation to make decisions. It does not appear that the people pushing the ban are that kind of people.

"Living Aloha" is supported by advertisements, and these are revealing. The largest number are for yoga classes and clinics. The second-largest number (4) are for colon cleanses.

Long-time readers of RtO (or of my "Well, balderdash" columns in The Maui News back before there was a blogosphere) may recall that I call Maui Duckburg because everywhere you go, you hear a quack. It is safe to say that the opinions of people who believe in colon cleanses on health topics are scientifically worthless.

The argument of those who claim they want only a temporary moratorium pending evidence of safety raises the question: what would they accept as evidence?


  1. Harry wrote: "I have never received -- or been offered -- anything from any agricultural entity."

    Well, my company is an agricultural entity (agricultural robotics) and I've offered you lots of great information over the years on my blog. Whether or not you received such info hasn't yet been determined ... :-)

  2. I was offered an endless supply of seed corn caps when I lived in Iowa, but that was a long time ago.

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