Pro-GMO activists regularly speak outside of their expertise – yet they attack GMO critics who don't have formal scientific qualifications as unqualified to speak about GMOs
The following article is rude but entertaining. Its message frees anti-GMO campaigners who do not have formal science qualifications from the need ever to feel inadequate again!
We don’t know who the author is. He identifies himself only as “Russ”.
By their own standard, credentialist pro-GMO activists are ignorant Yahoos
Volatility, 17 Feb 2015
[links to sources at the URL above]
The US Right to Know issued a Freedom of Information request to universities where four prominent pro-GMO activists are housed. The four – Kevin Folta at the University of Florida, Alison Eenennaam at UC Davis, Richard Goodman at the U of Nebraska, and Bruce Chassy at the U of Illinois – were selected for being prolific pro-Monsanto publicists, and particularly for their participation at the cartel propaganda site GMO Answers. US Right to Know wants to learn the extent of their direct or indirect funding and payments from biotech corporations and trade groups. Of course they’re stonewalling, since they know the extent of the corruption an honest answer would expose. And anyway they’re professional liars, so transparency and truth just aren’t what they do.
Cadres such as these are usually called “scientists”, solely on account of the formal credentials they’ve procured, but they are in fact not scientists at all but corporate propagandists. They do nothing but knowingly tell lies, claim knowledge where they have none, and intentionally or out of stupidity confuse the nature of every issue. All the while they sanctimoniously insist that anyone who lacks formal scientific credentials is unqualified to speak about GMOs. (This of course applies only to critics, skeptics, and dissidents. It doesn’t apply to corporate executives or pro-GMO politicians and media flacks.) The best proof of this, as well as of their hypocrisy when they play the credential card, is that literally none of them, so far as I have seen, stays within the bounds of their own disciplines when pontificating about GMOs. On the contrary, every credentialed pro-GM activist evidently feels free to spew the most ignorant, idiotic opinions on any subject imaginable, no matter how unqualified they are according to their own credentialist standard. Our four subjects of the US Right to Know request are typical examples of this promiscuous amateurism of ignorance. By their own standard they have no standing or right to make the vast majority of their assertions and comments. We must hold them to their own standard and reject out of hand anything any of them says which isn’t firmly within the bounds of their formally credentialed discipline.
Kevin Folta’s official credentials are in molecular biology and biology, but he thinks he’s an agronomist. His resume is that of a terminal myopic who obsessively knows one detail, and a malign one at that, but who has the delusion of grandeur that he knows the slightest bit about agronomic systems and the broader ecosystems in which these are enfolded. That’s what you’re prone to get when a molecular biologist thinks he’s an agricultural and ecological expert. If he believes a word of the lies he spews, his lack of agricultural training must play a role in his being so stupid.
Like his fellow anti-science hack Pamela Ronald, Folta also poses as a medical doctor and nutritionist even though he has zero credentials in either discipline. He also pontificates constantly on purely political issues like labeling and lies about his university receiving funding from the GMO cartel.
Folta claims he’s never been paid by the GMO cartel, but his university has certainly been bought. Check out this list. Res ipsa loquitur [“the thing speaks for itself”].
Bruce Chassy is officially trained in chemistry and biochemistry. In other words he’s a poison-peddler whose formal connection to systems-based knowledge is even more tenuous than Folta’s. This hasn’t stopped him from impersonating a doctor and nutritionist who knows something about food safety and human health, nor has it stopped the University of Illinois and the FDA from fraudulently depicting him as such.
Chassy is co-founder of the propaganda site Academics Review. Here we find lots of commentary on food safety, human medicine, agriculture, and slamming Jeffrey Smith for his lack of formal STEM credentials. But what praytell is Chassy’s credential which qualifies him to have opinions on any of these topics? The fact is that from the point of view of credentialism, Chassy is identical to Smith. They’re uncredentialed laymen writing about subjects in which they have no formal training. The same is true of Chassy’s collaborator David Tribe (chemistry, biochemistry, applied molecular genetics). The same is true of every pro-GMO activist. I challenge anyone to provide an example of a pro-GMO activist who stays within the bounds of his credentialed discipline.
In Chassy’s case [...] he’s been more active as a propagandist than as someone who even pretends to be a scientist. He was also the sole credentialed type who joined several uncredentialed publicists in trying to drum up an Internet lynch mob against Reuters reporter Carey Gillam last year. That says it all about Chassy’s real character and ideology and how much it has to do with “science”.
Folta and Chassy are typical in having no formal agricultural training. Most genetic engineers and “scientist” flacks like these (for example carnival barker Neal DeGrasse Tyson, who has also shilled for Monsanto in the most ignorant, moronic way) have zero formal agronomic qualifications. Indeed, when you read a history like First the Seed or Lords of the Harvest you see how often the engineers and publicists not only have zero agricultural training or knowledge but seem proud of the fact. This combination of ignorance and arrogance, always characteristic of credentialed technocrats and elitist professionals in general, must be why GMOs are such shoddy, failure-prone products, and why they’re 100% dedicated to escalating the most counterproductive, destructive, and famine-prone mode of agriculture. It’s simply insane the way society has let such brain-dead psychopaths gain control of our agriculture and foods.
Meanwhile the personnel who do have some agriculture-related training are just as prone to go straying far outside their disciplinary lines while still fraudulently claiming to be “scientists”. Richard Goodman’s formal training is a mix of agricultural and non-agricultural – biology, dairy science, immunology.
Goodman is most notorious for his suspected role in the illicit retraction of the Seralini study by the now-corrupted journal Food and Chemical Toxiciology. The Seralini study is a real scientific study correcting the fraudulent Monsanto feeding trials which the EFSA accepted on faith when it approved the importation into Europe of Roundup Ready maize in food and feed. It remains one of the few legitimate toxicology studies which have been performed on a GMO (or on Roundup). Through a British media campaign of lies and slander which started even before the study was published, FCT came under intense industry pressure to retract the study. At first it refused. At this point the cartel shifted its pressure on the publication. The pro-GMO activists now accused it of being biased against GMOs. To prove its lack of bias, it was forced to accept Monsanto’s man onto its editorial roster. The truth is, of course, the exact opposite. At first FCT was demonstrating its lack of bias either way, and was serving science. It was then forced to accept Goodman so that it could be subject to Gleichschaltung [“bringing into line”], attaining the ideologically correct pro-Monsanto bias, from within.
FCT’s cowardly action now demonstrates how well this corporate coordination process has worked. You can look at their excuse for the retraction and see that it’s nothing but a retread of the same tired lies which attacked the study from day one. If FCT refused to retract on these grounds in 2012, why did it do so in 2013, just a few months after bringing Goodman on board? Because it was taken over from within, following the injection of a Monsanto cadre. There’s no other explanation.
What precisely in Goodman’s formal resume qualifies him to pass any sort of judgement or have any opinion at all about a toxicology study performed upon rats? It’s not an allergy study nor was it performed upon cows.
Goodman has been an employee of Monsanto and has consulted for them and other biotech corporations
Alison van Eenennaam’s formal training is in agricultural science, animal science, and genetics. Yet Here’s Eenennaam blathering about politics and economics, posing as a constitutional scholar, impersonating an expert on food safety and human medicine, and telling several direct lies, for example that pesticide use goes down with GMO cultivation; that product labeling where it comes to harmful ingredients is typically voluntary; that GMO labeling will drive up food costs, and several others. She also regurgitates the canned lie that genetic engineering is the same as conventional breeding. If she really believes this she’s an incompetent agronomist. But I’d bet she’s consciously lying. We saw the scurrilous character of her “science” in the propaganda broadside she issued on Monsanto’s behalf last autumn. Here’s the best takedown of this hack I’ve seen. Here’s another good refutation.
She also endorses the non-credentialed PR flack Jon Entine’s unscientific rhetorical flourishes about her “review”, which demonstrates how she sees her “scientific” work as designed to feed the Monsanto propaganda machine.
Like Goodman, Eenennaam has been employed by Monsanto, and her university receives funding from Monsanto and a host of Big Ag corporations.
GMO labeling has certainly brought the amateur interlopers out in force. This pro-cartel paper parroting the Monsanto line against GMO labeling includes Eenennaam and Chassy among its authors and Goodman among its “reviewers”, alongside Mark Lynas sporting his phony Cornell pseudo-position, bought for him by the Gates Foundation. Here again we see alleged scientists holding forth on a purely political issue, as well as economics, law, constitutional scholarship, and statistical social science. My, we must be in the presence of the most prodigious polymath geniuses in history. Also the most incorrigible liars*.
Regarding the standing of these persons to comment on political controversies, some readers may be thinking that’s anyone’s right no matter who they are. But keep in mind that it’s precisely these cadres who consistently deny that the people have any right to a say on any issue which the corporate propaganda machine can depict as having anything to do with “science”. On the contrary, they insist that an issue like GMO labeling should be out of the hands of democracy and solely within the hands of corporate technocracy. Indeed, to the extent these cadres can be said to have a political ideology beyond straight corporate authoritarianism, this ideology is technocracy, the belief that formally credentialed experts should make all decisions for society, while democracy and politics as such should cease to exist. This is an extreme version of the standard anti-citizenship, anti-democracy, anti-political character of bourgeois ideology. (You won’t find a more perfect example of one of these amateurish hacks describing his own faction than the abstract of this paper. The thing is a short masterpiece of Orwellianism, and of course is packed with lies. The conclusion, of course, is true and condemns these criminals and their whole endeavor.)
Here too we reject their authoritarianism, but we should hold them to their own standard. They despise democracy and politics and want to abolish these for everyone else, so we must see them as having forfeited such things for themselves.
Of course among pro-GM activists there’s no lack of uncredentialed publicists, from former TV news/tabloid producer Jon Entine to nihilist mercenary Mark Lynas to software thief Bill Gates, not to mention an endless list of corporate executives and PR flacks, politicians, and corporate media stenographers. Why do we never see the credentialists direct these people, who “have no discernable scientific training” in the allegedly damning words the Academics Review site utters about Smith, to depart from the field?
I stress that we abolitionists aren’t credentialists. Most of the worthwhile thinkers throughout history weren’t formally trained system drones, whose record in every era for being wrong about pretty much everything is unmatched. We paraphrase Martin Luther King and see the world in terms judging people not by the level of their formal training within the corporate degree conveyor belt but by the content of their ideas and character. These hacks fail on both counts. But these pro-GMO activists, so many of them part of the corporate establishment including holding its bogus credentials, insist shrilly on the importance of credentialism. We shall hold them to their own standard, and so we must with all due rigor call attention every time any of these “scientists” crosses the bounds of his discipline and starts blathering about things which, by his own standard, he has no standing or right to blather.
An important point we must always make is that these “scientifically credentialed” personnel always take every opportunity to claim that lack of formal credentials means one is unqualified to talk about GMOs, but meanwhile all of them without exception incessantly stray beyond the bounds of their own formal disciplines to amateurishly comment on other scientific aspects, let alone on socioeconomic effects or political policy like when so-called “scientists” pontificate against labeling, as the targets of this FOIA request all have. Let’s hold these hypocrites to their own standard and point out what uncredentialed, unscientific, ignorant, opinion-spouting layman yahoos they really are in almost everything they say.
We critics and skeptics and dissidents from GMOs and poison-based agriculture must stop calling these people “scientists”. No matter what their formal credentials, they act and speak mostly outside the bounds of those disciplines, and they lie and distort even the rare times they do speak within their theoretical discipline. We must see them as and call them what they are – publicists, propagandists, unregistered lobbyists, pro-corporate political activists, charlatans, quacks, impersonators. That’s what they are and that’s all they are.
The pro-GMO activists have proclaimed the credentialist standard. Of course we reject their authoritarianism here as we do everywhere else, so it doesn’t apply to us and we don’t apply it in general. But since they proclaimed it, it rightfully applies to themselves, and we shall apply it to them with all due rigor. So OUR standard must be that whenever a credentialed cadre opens his lying yap to exalt Monsanto, we declare the facial inadmissibility of every word except for what is strictly within the bounds of that cadre’s formal discipline. By their own proclaimed standard they have forfeited all right to make any comment beyond these bounds. And this is the standard we must encourage the people to apply to all scientism/technocrat types, where it comes to GMOs and to every other context where technician types lie and pretend to be scientists, but are really nothing but gutter corporate shills. Q.E.D.
[*For anyone interested, here’s a list of the lies I spotted just skimming the thing: That there’s a lack of evidence for the health dangers of GMOs – there’s actually overwhelming positive and negative evidence of danger (the negative evidence is the fact that governments and corporations refuse to perform legitimate food safety or epidemiological tests, which is implicit proof that they know GMOs are harmful and don’t want to contribute to scientifically proving that fact); that labeling of hazardous ingredients is always voluntary; that labeling will increase food prices; fraudulent Wall Street-type numbers on the “economic benefits” of GMOs; that genetic engineering is even similar to (let alone the same as) conventional breeding; that GMOs aren’t “in the food” and that being a GMO is really an ineffable “process” rather than a physical fact (I think this peculiar proposition deserves a post of its own); that they’ve been “extensively tested” – actually they were never tested at all except for some ad hoc independent studies which all found evidence of health harms; that the FDA evaluates GMOs – in the vast majority of cases the FDA does zero evaluation, and doesn’t even have to be notified when a new GMO is being marketed; that there exists “independent research” and “long-term research” which vindicates GMOs – no studies of either kind exist; it calls industry groups and professional coordination bodies “scientific organizations”; that no compositional differences have been found between GMOs and non-GM equivalents – of course a GMO containing one or more transgenes plus Bt endotoxins and/or cellularly suffused herbicide residues is by definition compositionally different, and studies have found many other examples of genetic and phytochemical difference in every commercialized GMO which has been independently tested for such difference (again, governments and corporations don’t test at all).
I think my favorite part is where they say the absence of GMO-based products on the supermarket shelves in countries which have mandatory labeling is in some metaphysical way because of the label itself, rather than as the result of consumers seeing the label and rejecting the product. In the legal/constitutional/political discussion the paper gives some good hints of the corporate totalitarianism these thugs want.]