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Old 25 May 2015, 01:59 PM
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A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
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Icon102 ‘Natural’ illusions: Biologist’s failed attempt to defend organic food

I had always considered myself a rational and science-minded person so I was upset when I first heard people object to GMOs for reasons such as not wanting genes in their food (in the late nineties, when the topic was still very new and knowledge scarce) or just because ‘it wasn’t natural’, which I saw as a fear of the unknown. Later on I was incredibly frustrated to find that a lot of people opposed standard vaccinations going counter to scientific evidence. So when I stumbled on a Facebook page called “We love vaccines and GMOs”, though I didn’t exactly think of my view on genetic engineering as ‘love’, I was happy to find a place to share my frustration. But as I started following their posts I was confronted with something that gave me pause. There were several that criticised organic farming.

http://www.geneticliteracyproject.or...-organic-food/
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Old 25 May 2015, 06:42 PM
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ATNM, I'll have to get back to this one later; I'm too busy farming right now to deal with it.

On a fast glance I see a batch of stuff I've already addressed on snopes, sometimes repeatedly. It's full of common misunderstandings and misinterpretations, and either fails to understand or deliberately misinterprets what organic farmers are actually doing.

And I do not know where this person is coming up with people who object to GMO's on the basis that they don't want "genes in their food." There may I suppose be somebody out there claiming this; but it's not a basis I've ever heard given by anybody, and I have heard a lot of GMO discussions.
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Old 25 May 2015, 07:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
On a fast glance...
This is the key.

I'd read the whole article. The "genes in the food" comment was about the early days of GMO.

It was a good article about someone following evidence to reach a conclusion, a conclusion that was contrary to where they started.

The author does not condemn organic farming, but takes issue with much of the "organic is better" and "GMO is evil" theme that pervades conversation about GMO and organic foods.
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Old 25 May 2015, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UEL View Post
I'd read the whole article. The "genes in the food" comment was about the early days of GMO..
The problem isn't the time to read the whole article. The problem is to find the time to take it apart, bit by bit; check the specific cites and see which ones I've already addressed and find and link to the posts where I've done so; read, consider, and respond to anything I haven't already dealt with multiple times before; and to point out the parts where the author's improperly describing what organic farmers actually do, and either find and link to my previous posts on those subjects or write new explanations.

And I have been in organic farming since before GMO's were an issue. I have never heard anyone complaining, early or late, on the grounds that there were "genes in their food." It's a straw man.

I need to go cultivate a field now, and water some fruit trees.
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Old 25 May 2015, 08:30 PM
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I'm glad we have you around, thorny locust, even if we have to wait a bit for your analysis.
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Old 25 May 2015, 09:04 PM
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I think one of the key take-home lessons from the article is simply that "organic farming" can be done in ways that are just as damaging to the environment as non-organic techniques. The key of course is the "can". "Can" of course is not the same as "is". Nonetheless, an organic farmer that over-fertilizes a field with cow dung is doing as much damage to the local watershed as is the non-organic farmer that over fertilizes with "chemical" based nitrogen fertilizer.

So "organic farming" can be good or bad, just like more conventional farming techniques.
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Old 25 May 2015, 09:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
I have never heard anyone complaining, early or late, on the grounds that there were "genes in their food." It's a straw man.
When you read the article, you will see this addressed. Take your time. You seem bent on criticising it already. Do a good job.
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Old 25 May 2015, 10:29 PM
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To be fair, the part you quoted was simply TL stating her own experience.
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Old 26 May 2015, 01:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy101_again View Post
I think one of the key take-home lessons from the article is simply that "organic farming" can be done in ways that are just as damaging to the environment as non-organic techniques. The key of course is the "can". "Can" of course is not the same as "is". Nonetheless, an organic farmer that over-fertilizes a field with cow dung is doing as much damage to the local watershed as is the non-organic farmer that over fertilizes with "chemical" based nitrogen fertilizer.

So "organic farming" can be good or bad, just like more conventional farming techniques.
Very rapidly:

Of course too much manure can cause problems. Which is why manure application rates, just like application rates of all other permissible materials, need to be reported to the certifying agency; why pre-USDA relatively local standards often specified maximum amounts for likely soil types in their areas; and why the USDA standards state (section 205.203 (c)) "The producer must manage plant and animal nutrients to maintain or improve soil organic matter content in a manner that does not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients [etc]"

It's not just a matter of "Organic farmers dump on all the manure they want!" Even aside from the issue that, surprise, many organic farmers use no manure at all; and many conventional farmers do use manure -- just with less oversight.

UEL, I have read the article quite well enough by now to recognize either massive ignorance of the field, or else a deliberate attempt to confuse others ignorant of the field. It's going through all of those cites included in it that's going to take time.
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Old 26 May 2015, 02:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
UEL, I have read the article quite well enough by now to recognize either massive ignorance of the field, or else a deliberate attempt to confuse others ignorant of the field.
To me it read like, "I used to be convinced that X was bad and Y was good but I read something and changed my mind" without any kind of circumspection, ie "I was wrong before so this time I'm going to try to avoid such generalizations." I know from previous talks on the board that it's a complex issue and there aren't easy answers that people seem to like. I want to say to him 'congratulations for changing your mind; that's a lot better than most of us do on these controversial topics but I think you've still got a problem with oversimplification', for example:
Quote:
I am still searching for that label that would say ‘buying this will make the world a better place’
I think he really thinks such a label is plausible.
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  #11  
Old 26 May 2015, 09:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
It's not just a matter of "Organic farmers dump on all the manure they want!"
No one said that. What is logical (and unarguable) is that "organic farming" can harm the environment if done improperly. And that "conventional farming" doesn't always harm the environment.
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Old 26 May 2015, 09:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UEL View Post
When you read the article, you will see this addressed. Take your time. You seem bent on criticising it already. Do a good job.
Her criticism of that line is fair. There isn't any cite for it. The author is supposedly recalling protestations from decades ago. It's fair for another person to question those recollections and point out that her recollections don't match. It's also fair to point out that the author's recollections are self serving in that, if they are false, they make a convenient straw man. Thorny_locust doesn't need to take any more to analyze this claim that was presented without citing any evidence.
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