Conflating  Insulin, & Chymosin in Cheese to GMO Plants is PSEUDOSCIENCE

Conflating Insulin, & Chymosin in Cheese to GMO Plants is PSEUDOSCIENCE

Goofy GMO Deception

Conflating  Insulin & Chymosin (in Cheese) to Plant GMO is Pseudoscience

Few things are quite as Woo-licious as conflating completely unrelated things.

We all know Monsanto’s Uncle Robb loves him some chicanery, but when Uncle Robb says different things are the same, the faithful media lapdogs repeat the myth no matter how ludicrous it is.

On account of this, Chipotle was excoriated and dubbed anti-science, ostensibly because the restaurant chain failed to disclose the use of genetically engineered chymosin- an enzyme used to curdle milk in cheese making- when it announced it was removing GMOs recently.

The tidal wave of abuse, as Alternet put it, was simply spectacular. Similarly, the state of Vermont was labeled anti-science for failing to label chymosin. But when you scratch the surface of this cheesy kerfuffle, even if it sounds counter-intuitive, Chipotle is scientifically correct to call its cheese “GMO-free”– even if, and in spite of- it being genetically engineered, as is the state of Vermont.

@RobbFraley Genetic Engineering of yeast or E. Coli to synthesize enzymes has exactly NOTHING to do with your mutants.

The effort to blur the differences between products of genetic modification of simple, one-celled organisms and GMO plants -the *organisms* – started awhile before the Chipotle fracas. Here you see the conflation of GMO corn with chymosin in the context of the labeling debate in Vermont.

Nachos of Hypocrisy- Just Label It!!! (unless it is something our state produces, then it should be unlabeled)

And if  “communicators” of this unscientifically distorted message confined it to social media,  I might have overlooked it. But…. the goofballs made it personal when they took their woo-show on the road to my alma mater.
I love UC Davis, and am proud of the education I got there…indeed,  I credit what little success I’ve achieved to U.C Davis’ high educational standards.

So, it troubled me to see UCD  students who incur astronomical debt–for what should be independent science-based education–deceived by industry tainted pseudoscientific frauds.

Amazingly, everyone misses that one of the three things on the poster is nothing like the other two, even though the two on the left are microscopic bacteria….while the third is a large plant plainly visible to the naked eye.
The bacteria ( or yeast) on the left are modified by near-surgical precision to produce proteins  insulin and chymosin–while the one on the right is a plantwhose “engineering” is akin to a blindfolded Goofy playing darts with transgenes.   I’ll delve into this a little more in the second installment.

But, first, let’s get some genetic engineering basics out of the way to help you picture how DNA is cut by restriction enzymes and ferried into cells using plasmids. Plasmids are DNA rings bacteria use to pass antibiotic resistance to each other, which serve as fundamental transformation vectors. They are sort of like parasitic genes replicating autonomously in bacteria ( and in some genetically engineered yeast)–without integration into the organism’s genome, and thus without genomic disruption.
It matters because plant genomes- the genetic blueprints- are orders of magnitude larger and more complex compared to bacteria or yeast.

Plant transformation always involves transgene insertion into the plants’ genome and consequently causes genetic disruption at the site of insertion as well as distant to the insertion sites.

Please watch and imagine the purple frog DNA is DNA that codes for insulin or chymosin.

…For Now, Let us Count the Ways Insulin and Chymosin are Nothing like GMO Plants


  1. Every bottle is labeled as recombinant DNA (rDNA)….
  2. No one is sneaking it into our bodies.
  3. Administered under doctors directions and supervision with informed consent
  4. Like all medical therapeutics underwent clinical trials
  5. The amino acid (protein building block) sequence is known and is precisely controlled. Humulin insulin, for example,  is 100% identical to pancreatic, while other types have been modified to alter insulin’s properties-but intentionally.
  6. Like all drugs, adverse reactions are traceable and reported to the companies
  7. We are not exposed to the organism in which insulin is made. The E.coli bacteria (GMO itself) in which insulin is produced is killed and discarded when its product- insulin- is purified.
  8. Insulin is an enzyme, a single protein–not an entire plant made up of thousands of different proteins, minerals, fatty acids, potential allergens or toxins.
  9. Insulin doesn’t get out in the world reproducing spontaneously and  contaminating other insulins resulting in loss of certification or markets for competitors
  10. People who don’t need or want insulin aren’t forced to have it.


      A longish explainer on chymosin- the protein/ enzyme from rennet used in cheesemaking is


    Now, let’s count the ways chymosin is different from the soybean oil producing plant on the right….
  • First of all saying that a plant built of thousands of proteins, minerals, fatty acids, metabolites, potential toxins and allergens is just like a single protein is akin to saying a brick-house and brick, it’s built with, are the same thing. Or that a cow (Organism) and its milk (product) are the same. Absurd!
  • The very first producer of chymosin (Pfizer) showed that genetically engineered chymosin has the same structure and function as calf-derived chymosin. The enzyme is identical to the chymosin from the animal. We can’t say that about GMO plant. In fact, we know too little about these plants because sophisticated metabolite and protein tests are not required and are not published, but many independent tests detect dramatic differences between transformed plants and their parents- including expression of hidden allergens.
  • Cheese is NOT made using the organism (GMO) but rather its product, a protein the enzyme- chymosin. Consequently, ALL cheeses on sale are in fact ‘GMO organism free’.  Like all enzymes, it is required in small amounts, and since proteins are unstable, it degrades as the cheese matures. If chymosin remained active for too long, it would adversely affect the cheese by degrading the milk proteins too much. So, we don’t just never eat the organism (GMO), in the end, we don’t even eat the chymosin either. But when we eat GMO plants we eat the whole bloody organism-the GMO, not a ghost of protein. All of this means that Chipotle is correct not to worry about how its cheese is made and that it is entirely scientific for Vermont not to label it.
  • We do not know the exact structure of the oil depicted by Kevin in his goofy poster- whether it’s healthy or not- because there aren’t any studies showing that. But even if the oil is healthy, lifting the oil out of the GMO and forgetting the GMO itself is deceptive, because once the oil is extracted the plant, the actual GMO- is fed to animals in the form of soybean meal. Similarly, although the sugar molecule from a genetically modified beet is identical to sugar from a non-engineered plant, the GMO in the form of beet pulp is fed to pets, while Kevin omits that fact as well. And I know that he knows better!

insulin? OK! cheese? OK! Oil from a GM soybean? The hypocrisy of fighting science.

Hypocrisy, indeed.


1. Uncle Robb’s credible science source:

2. The tobacco-peddling Dr. Gilbert Ross was one of the attackers of Dr. Oz, along with hisradioactive comrades, including Henry I Miller. I infer from this that Dr. Oz is stepping on the right toes:)

3. On Chipotle’s and Big Food Mafia 

4. It turns out  UC Davis put on the #IFAL2015  meeting and paid journalists to attend theirjunket funded by BIO, a Chemical Corporate industry trade group. Hopefully, students weren’t fooled by this industrial charade.
5. Blow-back for our science advocacy for science literacy, animal, and  pubic health.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

Invisible science of two GMO spuds

Alice in Wonderland- a Tragicomedy in Two Acts

Act I

GMO skeptics bludgeoned by a consensus on GMO safety

The lies  about GMO safety are screamed by blogs, shouted by just about every newspapers’ editorial board- having become  mouthpieces for special interests centuries ago- and screeched by Michael Specter, tarnishing the legendary New Yorker, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Scientific American….etc etc..  Every credible international and national  science organization has endorsed GMO safety-they claim– and 88% of all scientists polled insist  they are safe, in contrast to the conspiratorial  public. For when a big lie is repeated by PR minions funded by Chemical Corporate billions, it eventually mutates into pseudo truth–or so the Corporations paying off the mass media to relentlessly reprint blatant lies, thinks.

Now even my beloved Comedy Channel, a trusted friend I turn to in the mass media mental asylum, is in on the crazy and I am  disturbed that one of my favorite  comedians is peddling unscientific gobbledygook   But he is an entertainer, a comedian. So, what happens when a fundamental science question related to GMO is posed to one of these 88% scientists?

Read along and follow my little adventure- a social experiment of sorts, and you will learn how willfully illiterate actual scientists can be about biotechnology science- the 88% legitimizing a fictitious consensus on a scientific subject they have no business discussing in the first place.

Spud 1. The Simplot potato reduced in an amino acid called asparagine, engineered through silencing RNA (RNA interference also known as dsRNA, which stands for double stranded RNA ) technology.    The uncertainty surrounding these Simplot taters is discussed here.  and more thoroughly here :

We don’t know whether genetic engineering produced off-target-effects common with this nascent silencing technology.
Rigorous studies have simply not been published and there isn’t one feeding study showing this potato  is either safe or that it reduces rates of  acrylamide-associated cancer in any laboratory animal or human.

We have this in common with the taters, though-we too rely on asparagine to nourish our cells. An interesting factoid is  a common chemotherapy drug useful for  lymphoma in animals and people works by destroying asparagine.  Please don’t misunderstand this to mean that the potato will act as a chemotherapy drug–that’s not what I am saying–we don’t know enough about this plant, in the same exact way that we don’t know enough about the silenced apple discussed  in my previous Twitter drama here.

Without published peer reviewed studies, its impossible to tell which exact genes were silenced in the plant, or whether the short silencing RNA matches our own. But if the RNA were to match our own and was absorbed-it could, indeed, silence our genes, including potentially the ones synthesizing asparagine.   I quote a good explainer on double stranded ds RNA/ miRNA. “One fascinating aspect of miRNA is that they control 60% of the genes in the human genome. The secret lies in their promiscuity. One miRNA can bind to many mRNAs and inhibit their expression” So a fundamental preliminary question is: “does this RNA molecule get degraded in your gut, or does it get absorbed, such that it could silence our genes? “. Keep this in mind…the reason will become clear in Act II.


Spud 2. Another funny. A new study reporting presence of T-DNA in cultivated sweet potatoes which the GMO establishment would love you to believe means there is nothing different between engineering potatoes using T-DNA (tumor-inducing-plasmid)  in a laboratory and what happens in nature.   They are identical, so you can stop worrying and just enjoy the ride.  But while the study reports presence of a vector used in genetic engineering, in natural sweet potatoes,  it does not establish T-DNA as a prerequisite to cultivation, nor that it improves nutritive value, disease resistance or confers any benefit. That might explain why I’m not laughing at the comical post linked. Suppose scientists who  discovered cancer viruses in our DNA claimed people were genetically engineered by nature to carry cancer– and then decided to infect everyone with these dandy viruses we have coevolved with, unlike GMOs -would you think they were funny or a little crazy?

Act II

Where Anti-science Anti-evidence Anti-GMO -me

asks a Pro-science, Pro-evidence, Pro-GMO -her
science & evidence

I wish I could say I got high on shrooms, went on a hallucinogenic  trip and dreamed it all up- except this actually happened

Glad to see The Daily Show doing a bit on showing the anti-science/non-evidence-based-fear-culture that the anti-GMO movement perpetuates.

@arielwaldman @kevinfolta I would looove to see that study showing how dsRNA gets digested at physiologic pH. Do you have one by chance?

” Ariel is an appointed National Academy of Sciences committee member of a congressionally-requested study on the future of human spaceflight. She also sits on the council for NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC), a program that nurtures radical, sci-fi-esque ideas that could transform future space missions. In 2013, Ariel received an honor from the White House for being a Champion of Change in citizen science”

@arielwaldman Plse do show me EVIDENCE of ur GMO science literacy I’d hate to believe that the pro-GMO movement is a mob of zombies

@beachvetlbc here’s the @NASciences report on GMOs. I recommend reading it.  to be pro OR anti ALL GMOs is ignorant.

Photo published for The Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States

The Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States

Since genetically engineered (GE) crops were introduced in 1996, their use in the United States has grown rapidly, accounting for 80-90 percent of soybean, corn, and cotton acreage in 2009. To date,…

I am not sure if  I was supposed to  be impressed by her elite status in the science hierarchy, which I just learned about today,  or that she conquered the skill of copy & paste. Aside from that,  I  am neither  pro-GMO or anti-GMO,  having used products of genetic engineering  in my practice -recombinant insulin, interferon, erythropoietin, Neupogen- and even  ( *gasp*) genetically engineered  yeast in my younger days.

Challenging her to show me her science evidence, or as less politically correct people might say “put up or shut up”, is evidently frowned upon by “credible ”  elite scientists because she answers my question on digestibility of silencing RNA with a link to a large book on farm sustainability–which, by the way, doesn’t hold the answer to my question. Farm sustainability  has exactly nothing to do with health and safety studies on these potatoes, though you are welcome to read the book and prove me wrong.

@arielwaldman Posting a link doesn’t mean you provided me with evidence I asked for. Please prove plant dsRNA is digested@NASciences

@beachvetlbc if you don’t recognize/respect @NASciencesreports as evidence, then I don’t have time to hold your hand on this.

I certainly didn’t feel any disrespect towards a preeminent science organization established on Congressional orders by President Abraham Lincoln until I  noticed that the National Academy of Sciences favorites her unfounded accusation sandwiched between insults, frank ignorance and  uncompromising arrogance. And then as I tasted the vomit in my mouth, I  realized,  that  like the majority of rusted decrepit  institutions in ‘Merica, the NAS has become yet just another corrupt politician wearing a cheap suit with a logo on it.

@arielwaldman Have you posted the study on digestion of plant dsRNA at physiologic conditions, yet? I don’t see it! @NASciences

@arielwaldman I don’t need a science illiterate holding my hand. I politely asked u to post peer reviewed science. Where is it?@NASciences

I am certain that as a member of that 88% of scientists– unlike an ignorant anti-science veterinary medical doctor, whose patients eat GMOs–she considers them perfectly safe, based on science they DO NOT comprehend. Ignorance is bliss!  Presumptions, prejudices and insults evidently compensate for the fact that physics scientists have absolutely no idea what GMOs are, and really have no business even having their opinions tallied  in any poll on GMO science. These polls need to carefully and scientifically measure opinions of experts in biotechnology and health, ecology and other relevant fields.

An apology and admission of ignorance are evidently also frowned upon by the 88% of  premier scientists who agreed on GMO safety- based on complete utter ignorance- and  asking questions….well, that’s just completely out of the question. They can’t answer any of them-don’t even try.

Thus she does what is customarily expected of adults…….she hides by blocking me.

Moral of the story : the famous consensus on GMO safety is as solid as vapor.

1. I found the statements by the scientist in the video to be nothing more than tired and overused talking points unsupported by any evidence. There is no evidence that anti-GMO movement or regulation have hindered marketing of GMOs- there has not  been a single plant that the USDA hasn’t deregulated. In fact, according to  a public interest attorney,the entire regulatory scheme is  fraudulent.

2.  The statements on BT are  patently false. Cry proteins have been reported to induce mucosal and systemic immune reactions, which might indeed lead to “leaky gut”.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Round Up “Guess”-timating glyphosate

 New math

Dr. Kevin Folta, chairman of the horticulture department at University of Florida wrote a blog post titled “Inconvenient Glyphosate Math” linked above in the title, but his new mathmuddies the facts on glyphosate instead of illuminating them.It represents the pacifying, complacent extreme on medical relevance of glyphosate- and some might say, my blog post will present the opposite, the precautionary principled extreme.

I was prompted to write this because an alarming study was recently published reporting  glyphosate leads to proliferation of a type of breast cancer cells- sensitive to estrogen & progesterone. Common sense suggests that a prevalent chemical stimulating growth of breast cancer in trace amounts surely should be monitored. Unfortunately, as you will see, our regualtory agencies tasked with protecting public health have never monitored glyphosate and still do not.

Please watch video


”  Glyphosate is an active ingredient of the most widely used herbicide and it is believed to be less toxic than other pesticides. However, several recent studies showed its potential adverse health effects to humans as it may be an endocrine disruptor. This study focuses on the effects of pure glyphosate on estrogen receptors (ERs) mediated transcriptional activity and their expressions. Glyphosate exerted proliferative effects only in human hormone-dependent breast cancer, T47D cells, but not in hormone-independent breast cancer, MDA-MB231 cells, at 10⁻¹² to 10⁻⁶M in estrogen withdrawal condition. The proliferative concentrations of glyphosate that induced the activation of estrogen response element (ERE) transcription activity were 5-13 fold of control in T47D-KBluc cells and this activation was inhibited by an estrogen antagonist, ICI 182780, indicating that the estrogenic activity of glyphosate was mediated via ERs. Furthermore, glyphosate also altered both ERα and β expression. These results indicated that low and environmentally relevant concentrations of glyphosate possessed estrogenic activity.Glyphosate-based herbicides are widely used for soybean cultivation, and our results also found that there was an additive estrogenic effect between glyphosate and genistein, a phytoestrogen in soybeans. However, these additive effects of glyphosate contamination in soybeans need further animal study.

Previous studies have already suggested it acts as an  endocrine disruptor affecting aromatase.  This of course is in addition to many other studies demonstrative of pathological changes  including teratogenecity via the retinoic acid pathway, as well as uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation potentiated by glyphosate’s adjuvants,  associated with liver damage among other disorders.  Unfortunately toxicity of these undisclosedinactive ingredients isn’t evaluated in toxicity studies, even though they are very active!

More information on glyphosate here

Neither the FDA nor the USDA have ever measured glyphosate residues in food in spite of the fact that use of glyphosate has skyrocketed with evolution of superweeds, making it the most prevalent chemical in agriculture.

So, I was curious what the residues of glyphosate in food might be.


Lets do some back of the cocktail napkin math

  • Labeling instruction are 22-64 oz/acre / season depending on weed pressure.
  • A liter of glyphosate formula contains 560gm of glyphosate (plus adjuvants potentiating toxicity)
  • 22oz/acre=0.66L x 560gm/ L= 369.6gm/ acre  -to-   64oz/acre=1.92L x 560gm/L= 1075gm/ acre.
  • Average soybean yield / acre=2580lb~1170kg
  • 369.6gm/1170kg soybeans=0.316gm (316mg)– to- 1075gm/1170kg soybeans=0.920gm (920mg)
Thus it appears glyphosate residues could potentially range between 0.316 gm to as high as ~0.92gm/ kg of sprayed  soybean that is  316mg to 920mg per kg of soybeans 
if maximum per label amount of 64oz/acre are used preharvest as a dessicant
– which hopefully they aren’t. 

Of course this amount isn’t found in the soybeans themselves- glyphosate translocates through the plant but  100% of it certainly doesn’t end up in the seed. Some of the glyphosate  is sprayed on weeds and since seed planting density varies from farmer to farmer we have no way of figuring out how much actually ends up on soybean plants.  Residues decay after glyphosate is sprayed and thus are highly dependent on the period it is applied preceding harvest, but Monsanto reports seed residues at 110 days post spraying, while the label authorizes  its use just one week before harvest as a dessicant, which is a serious concern!
This is about 100 times more than the residues a recent study reported in a few market samples of Iowa soybeans – 9mg/kg ( glyphosate AMPA combined).
 I am not sure where my math might have gone wrong.  Or has it? In a worst case scenario?  
How do we know actual residues on GMO crops- if we don’t measure them?

The answer is: WE DON’T!

We do know this though: glyphosate stimulates breast cancer in parts/trillion–thousands of times less than even the smallest measured concentrations. And we know undoubtedly that the cancer experts at the World Health Organization just classified it as a probable carcinogen (Class 2A). 

Is this  back-o’-the-cocktail- napkin analysis ….. a glorified~sorta~educatedguess…sufficient to protect public health? Of course not! Just look at the difference between Dr. Folta’s guesstimate and mine.

WE need to measure glyphosate residues in food and even more importantly in animals and people. There are multiple non-dietary exposure pathways so ingestion of food is itself only a partial measure of exposure. Here are some neat maps that show how variable glyphosate is in water & how much the use has escalated over time- since introduction of genetically modified (GMO) crops in 1995 

 However in the meantime, we should apply the Precautionary Principle:

When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

All statements of the Precautionary Principle contain a version of this formula: When the health of humans and the environment is at stake, it may not be necessary to wait for scientific certainty to take protective action.

Q. Is there some special meaning for “precaution”?

A. It’s the common sense idea behind many adages: “Be careful.” “Better safe than sorry.” “Look before you leap.” “First do no harm.”

The Precautionary principle is discussed in 13 international treaties < Please download the PDF  Excerpt Despite its presence in a growing body of EU and national legislation and case law, the application of the precautionary principle has been strongly opposed by vested interests who perceive short term economic costs from its use. There is also intellectual resistance from scientists who fail to acknowledge that scientific ignorance and uncertainty, are excessively attached to conventional scientific paradigms, and who wait for very high strengths of evidence before accepting causal links between exposure to stressors and harm. The chapter focuses on some of the key issues that are relevant to a more common understanding of the precautionary principle and to its wider application. These include different and confusing definitions of the precautionary principle and of related concepts such as prevention, risk, uncertainty, variability and ignorance; common myths about the meaning of the precautionary principle; different approaches to the handling of scientific complexity and uncertainty; and the use of different strengths of evidence for different purposes. The context for applying the precautionary principle also involves considering the ‘knowledge to ignorance’ ratio for the agent in focus: the precautionary principle is particularly relevant where the ratio of knowledge to ignorance is low, as with emerging technologies.

Until glyphosate residues are assayed and reported by the USDA or FDA –and why the hell aren’t they?* — stay away from genetically modified (GMO) soybean products!
* Anonymous spokesperson at USDA says that it is too expensive to measure glyphosate. Question is: too expensive for who? FDA & USDA can’t afford liquid chromatography in tandem with MS, that just about every university has? Hmmmmm. Clearly the $8,000,000,000/ annual herbicide sales have not influenced that decision.
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