AuthorTopic: Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet  (Read 5705 times)

Offline Randy C

  • Foxsteader
  • Bussing Staff
  • *
  • Posts: 244
    • View Profile
Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet
« on: April 28, 2014, 10:25:49 AM »
Source: George Washington Blog via Zero Hedge.

The Government Hack Trying to Squash Discussion of Government Corruption – Cass Sunstein – Doesn’t Understand BASIC Math Or Law

Risk analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb predicted the 2008 financial crisis, by pointing out that commonly-used risk models were wrong.  Distinguished professor of risk engineering at New York University, author of best-sellers The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness, Taleb became financially independent after the crash of 1987, and wealthy during the 2008 financial crisis.

Now, Taleb is using his statistical risk acumen to take on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Taleb’s conclusion:  GMOs could cause “an irreversible termination of life at some scale, which could be the planet.”

Sound crazy?

Sure it does … but only because we don’t understand statistics, and so we have no handle on what’s risky and what’s not.

Taleb and his 2 co-authors write in a new draft paper:

    For nature, the “ruin” is ecocide: an irreversible termination of life at some scale, which could be the planet.

    ***
    Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs fall squarely under [the precautionary principle, i.e. the rule that we should err on the side of caution if something is really dangerous] not because of the harm to the consumer because of their systemic risk on the system.

    Top-down modifications to the system (through GMOs) are categorically and statistically different from bottom up ones (regular farming, progressive tinkering with crops, etc.) There is no comparison between the tinkering of selective breeding and the top-down engineering of arbitrarily taking a gene from an organism and putting it into another. Saying that such a product is natural misses the statistical process by which things become ”natural”. [i.e. evolving over thousands of years in a natural ecosystem, or at least breeding over several generations.]

    What people miss is that the modification of crops impacts everyone and exports the error from the local to the global. I do not wish to pay—or have my descendants pay—for errors by executives of Monsanto. We should exert the precautionary principle there—our non-naive version—simply because we would only discover errors after considerable and irreversible environmental damage.

Taleb shreds GMO-boosters – including biologists – who don’t understand basic statistics:

    Calling the GMO approach “scientific” betrays a very poor—indeed warped—understanding of probabilistic payoffs and risk management.

    ***

    It became popular to claim irrationality for GMO and other skepticism on the part of the general public —not realizing that there is in fact an ”expert problem” and such skepticism is healthy and even necessary for survival. For instance, in The Rational Animal, the author pathologize people for not accepting GMOs although ”the World Health Organization has never found evidence of ill effects” a standard confusion of evidence of absence and absence of evidence. Such a pathologizing is similar to behavioral researchers labeling hyperbolic discounting as ”irrational” when in fact it is largely the researcher who has a very narrow model and richer models make the ”irrationality” go away).

In other words, lack of knowledge of basic statistical principles leads GMO supporters astray. For example, they don’t understand the concept that “interdependence” creates  “thick tails” … leading to a “black swan” catastrophic risk event:

    Fat tails result (among other things) from the interdependence of components, leading to aggregate variations becoming much more severe than individual ones. Interdependence disrupts the functioning of the central limit theorem, by which the aggregate is more stable than the sum of the parts. Whether components are independent or interdependent matters a lot to systemic disasters such as pandemics or generalized crises. The interdependence increases the probability of ruin, to the point of certainty.
(This concept is important in the financial world, as well.)

As Forbes’ Brian Stoffel notes:

    Let’s say each GM seed that’s produced holds a 0.1% chance of — somehow, in the intricately interdependent web of nature — leading to a catastrophic breakdown of the ecosystem that we rely on for life. All by itself, it doesn’t seem too harmful, but with each new seed that’s developed, the risk gets greater and greater.

    The chart below demonstrates how, over time, even a 0.1% chance of ecocide can be dangerous.

    I cannot stress enough that the probabilities I am using are for illustrative purposes only. Neither I, nor Taleb, claim to know what the chances are of any one type of seed causing such destruction.

    The focus, instead, should be on the fact that the “total ecocide barrier” is bound to be hit, over a long enough time, with even incredibly small odds. Taleb includes a similar graph in his work, but no breakdown of the actual variables at play.



Taleb debunks other pro-GMO claims as well, such as:

1. The Risk of Famine If We Don’t Use GMOs. Taleb says:

    Invoking the risk of “famine” as an alternative to GMOs is a deceitful strategy, no different from urging people to play Russian roulette in order to get out of poverty.

    And calling the GMO approach “scientific” betrays a very poor—indeed warped—understanding of probabilistic payoffs and risk management.

In addition, the United Nations actually says that small organic farms are the only way to feed the world. And growing your own food helps prevent tyranny.

2.  Nothing Is Totally Safe, So Should We Discard All Technology?  Taleb says this is an anti-scientific argument. Some risks are small, or are only risks to one individual or a small group of people.  When you’re talking about risks which could wipe out all life on Earth, it’s a totally different analysis.

3. Assuming that Nature Is Always Good Is Anti-Scientific.  Taleb says that statistical risk analysis don’t use assumptions such as nature is “good” or “bad”. Rather, it looks at the statistical evidence that things persist in nature for thousands of years if they are robust and anti-fragile.  Ecosystems break down if they become unstable.

GMO engineers may be smart in their field, but they are ignorant when it comes to long-run ecological reality:

    We are not saying nature is the smartest pos­sible, we are saying that time is smarter than GMO engineers. Plain statistical significance.

4.  People Brought Potatoes from the Americas Back to Europe, Without Problem.  Taleb says that potatoes evolved and competed over thousands of years in the Americas, and so proved that they did not disrupt ecosystems. On the other hand, GMOs are brand spanking new … created in the blink of the eye in a lab.
GMOs Also INCREASE Pesticide Use, DECREASE Crop Yield, And May Be
VERY Dangerous to Your Health

As if the risk of “ecocide”isn’t enough, there are many other reasons to oppose GMO foods – at least without rigorous testing – including:

    Decreased crop yield

    Increased pesticide requirements

    Potentially severe health effects

On the plus side?  A few companies will make a lot of money.

http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2014-03-26/risk-expert-gmos-could-destroy-global-ecosystem

Offline Eddie

  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 19730
    • View Profile
Re: Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2014, 11:07:20 AM »
People need to understand that Big Ag has never been about good farming principles, but rather about maximizing corporate profits for the Monsantos and Dow Chemicals of the world. Farming has been re-invented in the last generation, and it has been done at the expense of consumers, farmers. indigenous species, workers, and just about everyone other than our corporate masters.

The dogma is that it was done to "feed the world", but that's pure propaganda.

If we continue on our present path, the earth eventually will refuse to support us. Unsustainable ag practices only work until they stop working.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Randy C

  • Foxsteader
  • Bussing Staff
  • *
  • Posts: 244
    • View Profile
Re: Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2014, 11:36:52 AM »
People need to understand that Big Ag has never been about good farming principles, but rather about maximizing corporate profits for the Monsantos and Dow Chemicals of the world. Farming has been re-invented in the last generation, and it has been done at the expense of consumers, farmers. indigenous species, workers, and just about everyone other than our corporate masters.

The dogma is that it was done to "feed the world", but that's pure propaganda.

If we continue on our present path, the earth eventually will refuse to support us. Unsustainable ag practices only work until they stop working.

No disagreements here.  GMOs are a disaster.

Offline MKing

  • Contrarian
  • Sous Chef
  • *
  • Posts: 3354
    • View Profile
Re: Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2014, 11:47:57 AM »
People need to understand that Big Ag has never been about good farming principles, but rather about maximizing corporate profits for the Monsantos and Dow Chemicals of the world. Farming has been re-invented in the last generation, and it has been done at the expense of consumers, farmers. indigenous species, workers, and just about everyone other than our corporate masters.


How dare these corporate masters demand lower real prices for consumers across the globe across the last century!! What were they thinking!! Daring to make LESS money because they haven't been willing to even keep up with changes in prices because of inflation?!?!?!? What kind of idiot non-additional profit making invisible masters are we dealing with here??



Quote from: Eddie
The dogma is that it was done to "feed the world", but that's pure propaganda.

Could be. Make the real dogma is "feed the world…CHEAPER!!!!"

Still…the horror!!!

Quote from: Eddie
If we continue on our present path, the earth eventually will refuse to support us. Unsustainable ag practices only work until they stop working.

If we continue on our present path, the real price of food might go to zero!!! Please Eddie, let us discuss the data. Certainly whatever the world has done over the course of the last SEVERAL generations has had far more effect on making food affordable than some want to admit. While those of us living in rich countries who can afford to grow and buy whatever we'd like might like to think that our invisible Monsanto overlords are doing something nefarious, it certainly is not born out in the prices the world as a whole has, and continue, to enjoy. Not everyone can be rich enough to buy whatever high prices you think the evil overlords need for their profit mongering, versus the LESS they have obviously made as time has gone on…perhaps being a little more altruistic than you are giving them credit for?
Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.
-Dalai Lama

Offline JRM

  • Sous Chef
  • ****
  • Posts: 4502
    • View Profile
Re: Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2014, 12:15:04 PM »
People need to understand that Big Ag has never been about good farming principles, but rather about maximizing corporate profits for the Monsantos and Dow Chemicals of the world. Farming has been re-invented in the last generation, and it has been done at the expense of consumers, farmers. indigenous species, workers, and just about everyone other than our corporate masters.

The dogma is that it was done to "feed the world", but that's pure propaganda.

If we continue on our present path, the earth eventually will refuse to support us. Unsustainable ag practices only work until they stop working.

Almost (?) all of our institutions and economic activities (industries, businesses) are subject to this very same basic criticism. Corruption and conflicts of interest and degradation are entirely normal and pervasive -- largely because "making money" is the first and foremost goal of the industry / business....

One of the worst examples, IMO, is "medicine" -- which appears to me to be wildly corrupted by the pharmaceutical / medical instruments / etc. industries. Medical training  / education is geared more toward the pharma (etc.) interests and world view than toward science-based health care. (Which is why most medical doctors know very little about diet & nutrition, herbal medicine, preventative care, etc.... If there's no money in it, why bother?

I do have a deep respect for naturopathic medicine and doctors, generally, however. But these folks get marginalized by the orthodox medical system, unfortunately.


My "avatar" graphic is Japanese calligraphy (shodō) forming the word shoshin, meaning "beginner's mind". --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin -- It is with shoshin that I am now and always "meeting my breath" for the first time. Try it!

Offline JRM

  • Sous Chef
  • ****
  • Posts: 4502
    • View Profile
Re: Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2014, 12:25:29 PM »
After saying what I did about naturopathic medicine, I "googled" that phrase.

The Wikipedia article on the topic was outragious!  It must have  been written by a propogandist within the AMA.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturopathy

A much more honest and accurate account of naturopathic medicine can be found here.:
http://www.bastyr.edu/academics/areas-study/study-naturopathic-medicine/about-naturopathic-medicine
My "avatar" graphic is Japanese calligraphy (shodō) forming the word shoshin, meaning "beginner's mind". --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin -- It is with shoshin that I am now and always "meeting my breath" for the first time. Try it!

Offline JRM

  • Sous Chef
  • ****
  • Posts: 4502
    • View Profile
Re: Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2014, 12:33:35 PM »
AMA Declares War on Naturopathic Medicine, Patient Safety and Freedom of Choice in Health Care
http://www.naturopathydigest.com/archives/2006/aug/editor.php

Definition of Naturopathic Medicine
http://www.naturopathic.org/content.asp?pl=16&sl=59&contentid=59
« Last Edit: April 28, 2014, 12:44:14 PM by JRM »
My "avatar" graphic is Japanese calligraphy (shodō) forming the word shoshin, meaning "beginner's mind". --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin -- It is with shoshin that I am now and always "meeting my breath" for the first time. Try it!

Offline Surly1

  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 18654
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Re: Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2014, 12:46:17 PM »
The apostles for the status quo corpstate will come down on the side of GMOs; my money is on Taleb-- aside form Slavoj Zizek, the smartest man in the room.
"...reprehensible lying communist..."

Offline Eddie

  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 19730
    • View Profile
Re: Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2014, 01:15:25 PM »
Okay,MK, let's discuss the data.

According to the USDA, 5,382,162 farms dotted the nation in 1950, but this number had declined to 2,121,107 by the 2003 farm census

Corporations want farm products to be cheap. That's why they have the futures market, so they can manipulate the markets and put family farms out of business and put people off the land.

Your absurdly cheap food comes at great cost, eventually, to all of us.

Suggest you read this recent piece by Peter. Says it better than I could.

http://69.195.124.166/~towardsa/forum/index.php?topic=26.0







What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline MKing

  • Contrarian
  • Sous Chef
  • *
  • Posts: 3354
    • View Profile
Re: Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2014, 02:27:40 PM »
People need to understand that Big Ag has never been about good farming principles, but rather about maximizing corporate profits for the Monsantos and Dow Chemicals of the world. Farming has been re-invented in the last generation, and it has been done at the expense of consumers, farmers. indigenous species, workers, and just about everyone other than our corporate masters.

The dogma is that it was done to "feed the world", but that's pure propaganda.

If we continue on our present path, the earth eventually will refuse to support us. Unsustainable ag practices only work until they stop working.

No disagreements here.  GMOs are a disaster.

Because.....they have helped to allow decreases in food costs so that the less fortunate might be able to eat?
Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.
-Dalai Lama

Offline JRM

  • Sous Chef
  • ****
  • Posts: 4502
    • View Profile
Re: Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2014, 03:04:21 PM »

Do GMO Crops Really Have Higher Yields?
http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/02/do-gmo-crops-have-lower-yields
My "avatar" graphic is Japanese calligraphy (shodō) forming the word shoshin, meaning "beginner's mind". --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin -- It is with shoshin that I am now and always "meeting my breath" for the first time. Try it!

Offline Randy C

  • Foxsteader
  • Bussing Staff
  • *
  • Posts: 244
    • View Profile
Re: Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2014, 03:08:40 PM »
People need to understand that Big Ag has never been about good farming principles, but rather about maximizing corporate profits for the Monsantos and Dow Chemicals of the world. Farming has been re-invented in the last generation, and it has been done at the expense of consumers, farmers. indigenous species, workers, and just about everyone other than our corporate masters.

The dogma is that it was done to "feed the world", but that's pure propaganda.

If we continue on our present path, the earth eventually will refuse to support us. Unsustainable ag practices only work until they stop working.

No disagreements here.  GMOs are a disaster.

Because.....they have helped to allow decreases in food costs so that the less fortunate might be able to eat?

GMOs have not reduced the cost of production as production costs are very dependent on the cost of oil, GMOs do not yield better and it has been clinically demonstrated to cause animals or people who consume them health problems, leaking gut being one of them.  I stopped feeding my cows conventional feed and went to Canadian alfalfa to address that problem.  The purpose of GMO seeds is to allow Monsanto to sell more Roundup herbicide, a known carcinogen, and to dominate the seed market.  This is not about reducing the cost of feeding people.  This is about Monsanto making money the people be damned.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKXqiS7PILs

Offline Karpatok

  • Contrarian
  • Sous Chef
  • *
  • Posts: 1427
    • View Profile
Re: Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2014, 03:18:24 PM »
   Thank you, Randy. That has been aptly demonstrated. Not to mention the Indian farmers driven to suicide because they were forbidden to use their own seeds and could not afford to buy Monsanto's corrupted seeds every year.Karpatok

Offline JRM

  • Sous Chef
  • ****
  • Posts: 4502
    • View Profile
Re: Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2014, 03:22:15 PM »
Because.....they have helped to allow decreases in food costs so that the less fortunate might be able to eat?


Interesting that you chose the term "costs" instead of "prices". There is an important distinction, of course.  Total "costs" can be understood in terms of the combination of both internalized and externalized costs.  I'm sure modern industrial ag, especially of the GMO variety, does not fare so well when such cost accounting is employed.

Many nations have banned GMO food, and the move to do so is growing.  I suspect these bans are based on full cost accounting.

https://www.google.com/#q=russia+ban+GMO

http://www.organicconsumers.org/gefood/countrieswithbans.cfm

My "avatar" graphic is Japanese calligraphy (shodō) forming the word shoshin, meaning "beginner's mind". --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin -- It is with shoshin that I am now and always "meeting my breath" for the first time. Try it!

Offline JRM

  • Sous Chef
  • ****
  • Posts: 4502
    • View Profile
Re: Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Planet
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2014, 03:27:20 PM »

Twenty-Six Countries Ban GMOs—Why Won’t the US?
http://www.thenation.com/blog/176863/twenty-six-countries-ban-gmos-why-wont-us#
My "avatar" graphic is Japanese calligraphy (shodō) forming the word shoshin, meaning "beginner's mind". --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin -- It is with shoshin that I am now and always "meeting my breath" for the first time. Try it!

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
0 Replies
1190 Views
Last post June 03, 2013, 07:31:40 PM
by g
0 Replies
431 Views
Last post May 31, 2016, 10:38:32 AM
by Eddie
0 Replies
445 Views
Last post October 24, 2019, 11:29:53 AM
by azozeo