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Fakethrough! GMOs and the Capitulation of Science Journalism

Biotechnology

by Jonathan Latham, PhD

Good journalism examines its sources critically, it takes nothing at face value, places its topics in a historical context, and it values above all the public interest. Such journalism is, most people agree, essential to any equitable and open system of government. These statements about journalism are especially applicable to the science media. But while the media in general has recently taken much criticism, for trivialising news and other flaws, the science media has somehow escaped serious attention. This is unfortunate because no country in the world has a healthy science media. … Continue Reading

Can the Scientific Reputation of Pamela Ronald, Public Face of GMOs, Be Salvaged?

Pamela Ronald

by Jonathan Latham, PhD
Professor Pamela Ronald is probably the scientist most widely known for publicly defending genetically engineered (GE or GMO) crops. Her media persona, familiar to readers of the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, NPR, and many other global media outlets, is to take no prisoners.

After New York Times chief food writer Mark Bittman advocated GMO labelling, she called him “a scourge on science” who “couches his nutty views in reasonable-sounding verbiage”. His opinions were “almost fact- and science-free” continued Ronald. … Continue Reading

How Millions of Farmers are Advancing Agriculture For Themselves

SRI-grown Rice in China

by Jonathan Latham

The world record yield for paddy rice production is not held by an agricultural research station or by a large-scale farmer from the United States, but by Sumant Kumar who has a farm of just two hectares in Darveshpura village in the state of Bihar in Northern India. His record yield of 22.4 tons per hectare, from a one-acre plot, was achieved with what is known as the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). To put his achievement in perspective, the average paddy yield worldwide is about 4 tons per hectare. Even with the use of fertilizer, average yields are usually not more than 8 tons.

Sumant Kumar’s success was not a fluke. Four of his neighbors, using SRI methods, and all for the first time, matched or exceeded the previous world record from China, 19 tons per hectare. Moreover, they used only modest amounts of inorganic fertilizer and did not need chemical crop protection. … Continue Reading

GMO Safety and LL601 Rice

April 14, 2007 Biotechnology, Commentaries, Health Comments Off

Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson

LL601, the genetically engineered rice variety that has contaminated the US rice supply, is safe. The USDA says so. The UK Food Standards Agency says so. The US Food and Drug Administration, on 12 Sept, stated that: “LL601 rice poses no risk to human health and does not raise any food, feed safety or environmental concerns.” These assertions have been echoed by other organisations such as the USA Rice Federation: “We understand the EU sensibilities are a little different than the United States but nonetheless the product is a safe one”.
… Continue Reading

Contaminated Rice Cultivar Banned in Arkansas

March 20, 2007 (Un)Sustainable Farming, Biotechnology, News Comments Off

Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson

As part of an ongoing US effort to purge contaminating transgenic traits from rice varieties, the state plant board of Arkansas has banned the BASF rice variety Clearfield 131. Clearfield 131, which is a popular variety with non-GM tolerance to Newpath Herbicide is a popular variety for growers with red rice problems and its loss is likely to be a major setback for many growers.
… Continue Reading

Unapproved Transgene Contaminates US Rice Supply

January 9, 2007 Biotechnology, Health, News Comments Off

Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson

Transgene escape has again become a major biosafety and financial issue. On 18 August the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed that non-transgenic long grain rice in the US was contaminated with Bayer transgene event LL601. This transgene encodes resistance to the herbicide phosphinothricin and LL601 has not been approved (deregulated) for cultivation or use in food supplies in the US or elsewhere. Contamination with LL601 was first detected in January and reported to Bayer in May, Bayer informed the USDA in late July. Contamination however is likely to have predated detection in January since the last permit for growing LL601 rice expired in 2001.
… Continue Reading

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Commentaries

Edward Snowden’s Testimony to the European Parliament on NSA Spying and its Consequences

Edward Snowden Barton Gellman/Getty Images

Independent Science News has decided to reprint (1) in full the March 7th testimony of Edward Snowden to the European Parliament. Snowden’s testimony is vitally important for every citizen in every country to understand, yet it has barely been covered by the commercial or (non-commercial) global media. At stake is the …

The Health Care Doctors Forgot: Why Ordinary Food Will Be the Future of Medicine

Apple and a Pear

by T Colin Campbell, Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus, Cornell University The problem Few issues have become so intensely debated and politically charged as the need to reform the health care system. This debate has resulted in the ObamaCare program (The Affordable Care Act), which aims to expand and improve …

Fakethrough! GMOs and the Capitulation of Science Journalism

Biotechnology

by Jonathan Latham, PhD Good journalism examines its sources critically, it takes nothing at face value, places its topics in a historical context, and it values above all the public interest. Such journalism is, most people agree, essential to any equitable and open system of government. These statements about journalism …

The Founding Fables of Industrialised Agriculture

Farming in Italy

by Colin Tudge Governments these days are not content with agriculture that merely provides good food. In line with the dogma of neoliberalism they want it to contribute as much wealth as any other industry towards the grand goal of “economic growth”. High tech offers to reconcile the two ambitions …

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Reviews

Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA

Biology as Ideology

Author: by Richard Lewontin ISBN: 0140232192 Publisher: Penguin books (1991) Biologists know that complex traits are typically associated with genetic variation between individuals. Nevertheless, if we hear on the news that obesity, antisocial behaviour or some other disorder has a strong genetic component, we are likely to attach special significance …

The Unsettling of America

The Unsettling of America

Author: Wendell Berry ISBN: 0871568772 Publisher: Sierra Club books (1977) In 2002, peasant associations from all over Asia organised an international scientific conference. The motivation for the conference was the fact that peasants and their leaders had no dialogue with agricultural scientists, either from their own countries or with those …

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