Glenn Garvin Presents Exactly Half of the Story!

I admit to having no preexisting knowledge of the "golden rice" controversy used by The Garvinator in his column today to bludgeon "the Left" generally and "the luddite shock troops of progressivism like Greenpeace" specifically regarding their supposed "liberal resistance to science."

But I was certainly skeptical of this broad statement by Glenn:
What role does science play in the left-wing opposition to golden rice and other genetically modified crops? None.
Turns out -- surprise -- this is not exactly true.

In fact, it is not hard to find scientists concerned about the lack of adequate scientific testing and the paucity of reliable evidence that so-called "golden rice" is safe:
In February 2009 a group of 22 international scientists and experts addressed an open letter to Prof Robert Russell at Tufts University School of Medicine, who is in charge of clinical trials on GM Golden Rice, protesting at clinical trials of GM Golden Rice being conducted on adults and children.[1]

The authors say that the trials breach the Nuremberg Code, brought in at the end of World War II to prevent any repetition of the experiments conducted on people by Nazi scientists.

The authors say that Golden Rice:

* is inadequately described in terms of biological and biochemical makeup

* has not been shown to be stable over time – GM crops have been found to be unstable in that their genetic makeup as revealed in tests has differed from that described by the company and scrambling of the genome at the site of insertion sometimes occurs[2]

* has never been through a regulatory /approvals process anywhere in the world. 

The authors’ concerns are backed by a large body of evidence showing that GM crop/food production produces unintended effects, which can result in damage to health when GM foods are fed to animals.[3] There is no evidence to suggest that Golden Rice is any safer than these GM foods.
So, regardless of how you land on this issue, it's not as simple as Garvin portrays.

Further, it appears that Greenpeace's concerns -- whether you agree with them or not -- are not just based on an alleged lack of scientific evidence, but are also philosophical and tied to comprehensive global efforts to address chronic malnutrition that they contend are more effective and longer-lasting than genetically modifying one particular food source.

Garvin's next "anti-science" leftist bugaboo is vaccination/autism concerns, yet it is not hard to find passionate experts routinely debunking these concerns on right-wing websites such as HuffPost or Salon.

Finally Garvin drops a whopper about nuclear power:
 • Virtually no nuclear-power plants have been built in the United States during the past four decades, the result of continuous left-wing scare stories.
First of all, this is not true -- there are more than a dozen planned or under construction --but the other issue is cost:  it is really expensive to build these generators, and lower gas and coal prices make them poor investments compared to other power sources.

Then there's also what happened in Japan, which of course Garvin entirely neglects to mention.

But other than that -- well done, Sir!

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  1. Glenn is right. He said no plants have been built; you counter that some are planned or being built now. He says no proven downsides to golden rice, you cite scaremongers who simply point out a bunch of hypothetical concerns, none of which, BTW, outweigh the benefits of golden rice for millions of malnourished Africans. You should apply for a job with Politifact.

  2. ignore 10:53; Garvin in a dress. Keep skewering Garvin. Always is and was an idiot.

  3. I'm agnostic on the golden rice issue, but to say there are no scientific concerns is inaccurate. On nukes I think Glenn's causation argument is fuzzy at best (much like his beard).

  4. How much would it cost if Turkey Point went Chernobyl? I hope they have that much insurance, but I know they don't. We would foot the bill.

  5. I love reading this blog. I also agree with Glenn.

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