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  • "Our mission is to provide the highest quality scientific information and analysis to enable a healthy food system and a healthy world"

Project News and Views

Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs

Independent Science News has published a new article by Jonathan Latham, PhD., the Executive director of The Bioscience Resource Project: Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs.

Synopsis in Jonathan Latham’s own words: I am a scientist who once made and used GMO crops for research. Twenty years of experience has taught me important lessons about them. One concerns the lack of scientific integrity of GMO risk assessments. Careful study of the documents shows that applicants (mostly companies) are gaming the system in numerous and interesting ways; at the same time, government regulators are allowing them to do so. None of this would matter if GMOs were inherently safe, but they are not. They even have dangers that are rarely discussed, but which should be more widely known. These two understandings have led me to conclude that no GMO currently on the market would pass an honest risk assessment, even by the rather low standards that most national regulations and laws require.

Read the entire article at: http://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/growing-doubt-a-scientists-experience-of-gmos/

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Greenstar’s GMO event September 10, 2015, The Space @ Greenstar

Event updates available now. CANCELLED but likely to be restaged on the same date (See links in this text to keep updated on the event and the issues). Jonathan Latham will be discussing this event, the Cornell Alliance for Science, and the incredible GMO propaganda machine on Tuesday (9/2/2015) on WRFI at 4:30-5pm AND on Saturday 9/8/2015 7:25-8am with Jim Murphy, also WRFI (88.1 FM). Keep up with the evolving story of Greenstar, the Alliance for Science and their Ithaca “Ask me Anything” event at http://www.bioscienceresource.org/greenstars-gmo-event/.

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GMO Health Risks — Financial Conflicts and Suppression Bias Scientific Understanding

Sheldon Krimsky, Tufts University Professor of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning, recently published an excellent and data-laden analysis of GMO health risks:

Krimsky, Sheldon. “An Illusory Consensus behind GMO Health Assessment.” Science, Technology & Human Values (2015): 0162243915598381.

Certain prominent scientists and policymakers claim there is a scientific consensus on GMO safety and call anyone whose opinions differ “anti-science” or a “GMO denier.” Such advocates believe “that genetically modified crops currently in commercial use and those yet to be commercialized are inherently safe for human consumption and do not have to be tested.”

Krimsky uses several methods to critically assesses this claim Read More »

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The Twin Research Debate in American Criminology

New publication: The Twin Research Debate in American Criminology

by Jay Joseph, Claudia Chaufan, Ken Richardson, Doron Shultziner, Roar Fosse, Oliver James, Jonathan Latham, and John Read

Published in Logos (Vol 14) 2015.

Summary: Classical twin research has been one of the most influential research methods in all of biology. Twin research is based on the proposition that human twins can be either monozygotic (genetically identical) or dizygotic (share 50% of their genes) and this genetic difference can be used to infer the magnitude of a putative genetic component contributing to any physical or behavioural trait. Based largely on many thousands of such studies, which usually show that monozygotic twins are significantly more alike than are dizygotic twins, the scientific community at large has concluded that there is a strong genetic component to many human attributes. Characters for which such conclusions have been reached include practically every familiar physical and mental illness (including heart disease, diabetes, Parkinsonism, ADHD, etc.) and also human behaviours such as IQ, voting preferences, and criminality.

The flaw in this logic, which is outlined in this paper, is that this twin methodology makes use of improbable assumptions. Most notable of these is that the environments of monozygotic and dizygotic twins are identical, and in particular that the environments of monozygotic twins are not more alike. This particular assumption is called the equal environment assumption (EEA). This assumption has never been proven. On the contrary, it can clearly be shown to be often false. This casts grave doubt on ALL twin study findings.

The genetic explanations extrapolated from twin studies have almost never been supported by actual positive findings of significant gene variants in human populations (e.g. Manolio et al., 2009). This failure provides another reason to suppose that the twin method is flawed and we propose that this faultiness lies with the equal environment assumption. In other words, the explanation for the higher similarity of monozygotic twins compared to dizygotic ones is not their genes but their more similar environments.

In this paper, we examine the specific flaws in the EEA from the perspective of criminology, but equivalent or identical arguments apply to all twin research. The scientific implication is that most human variation results from environmental variation in physical, chemical, and social factors (or chance) and not from variation between genes or genomes, and that all twin research is effectively worthless. More broadly it also follows that society has been erroneously led by genetic researchers into a genetic determinist mindset that bears little relation to reality.

Manolio T. et al. (2009) Finding the missing heritability of complex diseases. Nature 461: 747-753.

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Neoliberal Ebola: The Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak

Neoliberal Ebola: The Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak by Rob Wallace, PhD has just been published on Independent Science News.

Synopsis: The West African Ebola virus outbreak of 2014/2015 killed over 11,000 people. The outbreak has been assumed in the Western media and elsewhere to be caused by a novel Ebola virus strain. The scientific evidence, however, does not suggest the strain responsible is in anyway unusual. So, if not the virus itself, what else might explain the outbreak?

The regions affected by Ebola are undergoing environmental disruption, social upheaval and often impoverishment as a result of land use changes and “investment.” Funded by European and other international sources, large parts of West Africa are being transformed by landgrabbing, systematic plunder and forest decimation. However, this agroeconomic story has been lost from most media accounts. This is profoundly unfortunate. Not only is it an important story in its own right, it is also a better explanation of the origins of the Ebola outbreak. Equally crucially, it has implications for agriculture and the prevention of future disease outbreaks worldwide.

The author Dr. Rob Wallace is an evolutionary biologist and public health phylogeographer currently visiting the Institute of Global Studies at the University of Minnesota.

Read this important article at: http://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/neoliberal-ebola-the-agroeconomic-origins-of-the-ebola-outbreak/

For more on the topic see https://farmingpathogens.wordpress.com/

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From DDT to Roundup by Evaggelos Vallianatos

On July 17, 2015, Independent Science News published “Ruthless Power and Deleterious Politics: From DDT to Roundup” a new article by former EPA analyst Evaggelos Vallianatos.

Synopsis: The modern controversy over Roundup (glyphosate) and the
documentation of its effects on humans, animals and soils, has much in common
with that over DDT fifty years ago. In particular, Monsanto recycles standard
industry tactics in its attempts to sideline critics while Read More »

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Monsanto’s Worst Fear May Be Coming True

Independent Science News has just published “Monsanto’s Worst Fear May Be Coming True,” an important new article by Jonathan Latham of the Bioscience Resource Project.

Synopsis: The decision of the restaurant chain Chipotle to go GMO-free is potentially a huge blow to the agbiotech industry. The decision opens up a crack in the previously solid front offered by the food industry in support of GMOs. Two factors are at work that will widen that crack: the growing unpopularity of GMOs and Read More »

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Anthropocene Boosters and the Attack on Wilderness Conservation

Independent Science News has just published: Anthropocene Boosters and the Attack on Wilderness Conservation an important new article by George Wuerthner, the Ecological Projects Director of the Foundation for Deep Ecology. While the Anthropocene booster agenda opposes wilderness conservation, it is also an attack on public health as well as social and environmental justice movements — including the food movement.

Synopsis: Conservation is under attack. The attack comes from individuals and institutions (described in this article as Anthropocene Boosters, but sometimes referred to as “Neo-greens,” the “New Conservationists,” the “New Environmentalism,” etc.) whose intention is to undermine traditional wildlife conservation Read More »

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What Happened to Obama’s Promise to Restore Scientific Integrity?

Independent Science News has just published “What Happened to Obama’s Promise to Restore Scientific Integrity?” by Jonathan Latham, PhD.

Brief summary:

For plenty of people, including many outside academia, President Obama was elected as a champion of rationality and integrity. In the standard narrative, after the corruption of the Bush era, President Obama would Read More »

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New Research Links Neonicotinoid Pesticides to Monarch Butterfly Declines

Independent Science News has just published: New Research Links Neonicotinoid Pesticides to Monarch Butterfly Declines by Jonathan Latham, PhD

Article synopsis: New research has identified the neonicotinoid insecticide clothianidin as a likely contributor to monarch butterfly declines in North America. The research, published on April 3rd 2015, identifies concentrations of clothianidin as low as 1 part per billion as harmful to monarch butterfly caterpillars. These concentrations of clothianidin were found on naturally growing milkweeds sampled by the researchers. Read More »

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