“If You Want More Healthful Food, Then Opposing GMO’s Will Accomplish Literally Nothing” (link)

GMO-Corn

“Even more important, however, is that the entire framing of the debate is wrong. This is not about grassroots people vs the power of large corrupt corporations. This is about the marketing of some large corporations against the marketing of other large corporations. For example, Monsanto’s 2014 revenue was 14.8 billion. Whole Foods was 12.9 billion. The organic food industry sales for 2014 was 51.8 billion. The organic food industry has demonized GMOs in order to promote their own brand over a competitor’s [emphasis mine].

“If you want more healthful food, then opposing GMOs will accomplish literally nothing. Worse, it will hurt nutrition globally by depriving those who need it most of one entire category of potential solutions. Golden rice, for example, could be providing vitamin A to deficient children, except for mindless opposition to GMOs. There are GMO potatoes that produce less acrylamide when fried, a potentially carcinogenic compound. The GMO potato is literally more healthful then the non-GMO varieties.”

Read the whole article here, it’s really good: http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/missing-the-point-and-wasting-resources/

This is why I always try to go back to the science. What do the scientists who actually study and work with GMO’s say? What do their studies show? The overwhelming consensus is that GMO’s are safe. I don’t care what Monsanto says or what the organic industry is trying to sell me- I want the facts! And I’m tired of people demonizing the scientific community whenever the science does not support their personal agenda. Facts are facts, whether we like the implications of those facts or not. And the fact remains that GMO’s have been proven to be safe over and over again by countless studies over decades of intense research.

Yes, there are a few scientists and doctors who oppose GMO’s. There are also a few doctors and scientists who think Vitamin C and baking soda can cure cancer, that vaccines cause autism, that deny climate change, and many other scientifically debunked or unproven things. Doctor Oz has gotten in trouble for peddling snake oil to the public, using his degree in medicine to mislead people into thinking that these products actually work when there is no evidence that they do. Of course this is not a popularity contest- the number of people who accept something doesn’t necessarily determine truth- but when only a few scientists oppose something and they are repeatedly unable to prove it, and the other 90% of scientists have buckets of evidence that have been rigorously peer reviewed, then why should we take those few seriously? Even doctors and scientists can be wrong sometimes; hence the vital importance of intensive peer review and multiple studies. GMO’s have more than passed this test. When anti-GMO activists can show their own extensive peer reviewed studies proving GMO’s to be unsafe and also explaining why almost 2,000 other intensely reviewed studies showed them to be safe, then I will seriously consider their claims.

I recently wrote another blog on this subject that has links to studies and information about the safety of GMO’s. Check it out if you want to learn more about the safety of GMO’s.

Advertisements

The Food Babe: Expert or Fraud?

foodbabe1I’ve heard a lot of people praise the Food Babe, but I’d never researched her much until recently. Apparently she is NOT a reliable source of health information and advice (neither is Doctor Oz, he’s gotten in serious trouble for promoting weight loss scams). And it’s not just one source that decries the Food Babe as unreliable, I looked her up. The people calling her out actually have extensive medical and scientific training in these fields, unlike the Food babe, who was a computer engineer and banker before starting her food blog.

Pseudoscience sells and spreads like a virus. We need to make sure that we’re taking advice from people who actually know what they’re talking about; confidence and popularity do not equal reliability. Just because someone has a huge following and claims to be a health expert does NOT make it true. Just because someone got better doesn’t mean it was their diet change or homeopathic treatment that cured them, even if they truly believe it was the cause. We have to go by facts- not opinions, theories, causality assumptions, or wishful thinking.

Just to clarify, I’m not at all opposed to healthy living, it’s important and there is a lot of crap out there that we eat and probably shouldn’t. I try to eat healthy and there are many things in my diet that I try to avoid. However, I AM opposed to misinformation and unhealthy methods being promoted as thought they’re safe and factually sound. If someone can prove their statements factually and show that they are a reliable source of information in that field, I’ll seriously consider what they have to say. A certified nutritionist or medical professional with confirmed facts backing their advice? Certainly! Random blogger with no relevant training or degree that’s been decried by professionals, or a professional that touts unfounded products or ideas and gets in trouble for it? No thank you! (*cough* Food Babe and Dr. Oz!)

Don’t believe somebody just because they make something sound good or because they’ve scared you with their media hype. Look them up, see what other professionals in that field have to say about their claims. Question everything, compare sources, look at their credentials… never assume. Can a non-credentialed person ever come up with something that professionals in that field have missed? Sure. But it’s not common in medical and science fields, and when they do they have to prove it just like the professionals do.

“I also think it’s important, as a non-scientist who also writes on scientific issues, to point out that The Science Babe isn’t suggesting Hari can’t talk about these issues because she doesn’t have a degree in science. Rather, The Science Babe is attacking Hari’s shocking hubris on these topics. Hari presents herself as an expert, a scientist, a toxicologist, someone who is qualified to talk about these complex issues. She uses a mix of junk science and personal anecdotes to create her own theories on incredibly complex health and nutrition issues.” – See more at: http://www.iwf.org/blog/2796768/The-Food-Babe-vs-The-Science-Babe#sthash.MlBmrx4Y.dpuf

Here are a few of the many sources decrying the Food Babe. Notice that they are educated people in these fields, not random bloggers stating their opinions. To me that carries far more weight than anything the Food Babe says…

http://www.scibabe.com/foodbabeway/ (I HIGHLY recommend this entire blog, not just this post! She’s sassy and knows her stuff: “Yvette holds a B.A. in theatre, a B.S. in chemistry, and an MSc in forensic science with a concentration in biological criminalistics.)
http://www.sequenceinc.com/fraudfiles/2014/09/is-food-babe-a-fraud/

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2014/06/23/the-food-babe-is-to-food-as-jenny-mccarthy-is-to-vaccines/

http://www.elle.com/culture/a27692/food-babe-problem/

Why causality and causation are not the same:

http://www.scibabe.com/i-just-know-why-correlation-isnt-causation/

Is the FDA Hiding a Cure for Cancer? Also, “Alternative” Cancer Cures

Conspiracy-Theory-AlertIs the FDA (US government, insert any other group here) hiding or suppressing a cure for cancer? To be honest, this topic makes me upset because I know people personally who have had cancer, and they have met the people working to find cancer cures. They’ve actually met the people who these conspiracy theorists are accusing of corruption and/or stupidity. I’ve also seen how damaging it can be for people to throw their life savings away to “cures” that don’t work, some even dying because they tried these alternative, unproven methods instead of getting the chemo that would have saved their life. But by the time they realized these other methods were bogus, it was too late. People have died or gone bankrupt because of this conspiracy theory, so I feel pretty strongly about it!  Hence this blog.

I found this article, which is really good by the way, you should check it out too: http://www.cancertreatmentwatch.org/q/conspiracy.shtml

Here is why I think this conspiracy theory about a hidden cancer cure and obsession with supposed “alternative cancer cures” are both very erroneous and damaging, and why I don’t believe what they’re saying is at all factual.

1. A Global conspiracy would be required.

In order to believe that there is a conspiracy to hide a cure for any kind of cancer, the entire civilized world would have to be in on it, not just the FDA or even the entire US government. As messed up as the US is, the rest of the world is not the same. You cannot assume that the rest of the world functions as badly as the United States. There are brilliant and dedicated cancer researchers all around the world, most of which who know someone who has had cancer and would let nothing stop them from curing the people they care about. It’s absolutely ridiculous, and honestly extremely offensive, to claim that every single one of them would allow a potential cure of ANY kind to go untested and a successful cure to be left unavailable to the general public. There are always a few bad apples, but everyone? Please. I’ve met some of these incredible men and women personally, and I would LOVE to see you tell them face-to-face about this “conspiracy” that they’re supposedly involved with after they’ve worked a 15 hour day trying to find a cure. If there was a viable alternative treatment for cancer, you would be able to go to any hospital in any civilized nation and get this cure; the US wouldn’t be able to hide it anymore because it would be available everywhere else.

 

2. It’s more expensive for governments to deal with cancer as it is now.

In many countries, such as Canada and Australia and much of Europe, the government pays for healthcare. Finding a cheaper way to cure cancer would most certainly be in their best interest, because they’re footing the bill– not only for the hospital bills, but they also have to cover unemployment while the person is sick, probably social assistance for the sick person’s family since he or she would be unable to work, they are unable to pay taxes while they’re sick, the workforce loses productive members which affects the economy, and so on. It is FAR more expensive to deal with cancer as it is then it would be to find an easier cure, even in the US, and we all know how penny-pinching governments are.

 

3. These “alternative cancer cures” are the conspiracies.

They are playing on the desperation and fears of people with cancer in order to make money and achieve fame. It honestly makes me pretty angry. I’ve looked into some of them because I know several people who are always promoting the work of these “doctors”; the supposed credentials and medical experience of the people involved are often very shady, and their supposed cures have been debunked many times by real scientists who have actually been trained in cancer research and treatment methods. Why do you think they are always accusing the real scientists of hiding a cure? Because they want you to fall for what THEY’RE selling you.

 

4. Success stories do not always equal truth.

Many people point to the success stories. “But these people got cured! You can read/watch their stories here!” First of all, I write for a living. I have been paid MANY times to write testimonials for companies that want to draw in more customers with glowing reviews. (Not my proudest moment, but I was poor at the time and had to take what work I could get or go hungry.) Ever since, I have been extremely skeptical of reviews and testimonials. They are faked ALL the time, and by writers like me who know exactly how to make them seem genuine. Videos and interviews can be faked too (COUGH weight loss scams, anyone?) If someone wants to sell you on a cure for cancer, or weight loss supplement or any other ailment, how hard is it to hire a few actors to play a role?

But let’s say that the people in these testimonials were genuine. How do we know if the story is accurate? Just because someone genuinely believes what they’re telling you doesn’t mean that’s what really happened. Correlation does not equal causality. Cancer affects people in different ways. An incurable cancer for one person may be cured by another person’s own body regardless of what treatments they use. A cancer that is deadly to 99.99% of people may come and go in another person. A few types of cancer are not hard to cure at all. And what about the failed cases? How can you trust that these unregulated organizations are telling you the truth about the percentage of people who come to them and see no results at all, or that experience negative results? Answer: You can’t. They are completely unregulated, so there is absolutely no accountability. Harp on the government all you want, but at least in the regulated medical world they are required to document all results, good and bad. You’re running from the government right into the arms of snake oil salesmen. 

 

5. These conspiracy theories are actually hurting people.

So many people have fallen for these snake oil cures… many have spent their life savings, gone into debt, gotten even more sick, or have foregone chemo or other treatment methods that could have actually saved them. People have DIED because they trusted in these ineffective alternative methods instead of getting proven treatment methods that could have actually saved them.

But of course they won’t tell you this in these conspiracy cancer cure documentaries.

 

Don’t fall for the hype… there is no conspiracy to hide a cancer cure. To say so is to completely disregard and insult the incredibly hard work of the dedicated scientists around the world who are working night and day to cure each of the different kinds of cancer. Don’t fall for the snake oil salesmen and political paranoia… just because someone makes a good documentary doesn’t mean what it says is true. Check the facts, dig into their credentials, and don’t believe their stories just because they have an emotional interview or well written testimonial. They may be faked, or even if the person is genuine that doesn’t mean the treatment itself works the way they think it does. The only way to know if a treatment works is by real scientists doing tests over and over and over again, documenting every single result with the medical community so it can undergo rigorous peer review, testing every conceivable alternative conclusion to make sure they’ve got it right, and proving beyond any doubt that the treatment works.

(Just a thought: If you promote conspiracy theories like this all the time, when the evidence is all against it being true, eventually people will start treating you like the boy who cried wolf. When you DO actually uncover a real conspiracy, who is going to believe you?)