10 Reasons Why Joanna Blythman is an Uneducated Fear Monger

By: Myles Power Edited by: Peter

I recently became aware of an event that took place at the beginning of September called the GM Health Risk Week. This event was held around the UK, and was apparently an opportunity to allow people to examine the “health risks surrounding GM food”. Speakers at the event included Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini (Lead author of the highly discredited Long Term Toxicity paper and president of an anti-GM lobbying group CRII-GEN), Ib Borup Pedersen (a man who’s findings change with time and now are identical to the highly unethical and also discredited Australian pig feed study) and Claire Robninson (a woman who proudly claims that she counters misleading spin about the Long Term Toxicity paper, but is yet to reply to any of my emails questioning the research). The events proudly proclaimed on their website under the about section that they wanted to “raise awareness and promote action in response to new evidence which casts uncertainty over the safety of GM food.” But what is this new evidence that casts uncertainty over GM-food, I hear you cry. If only someone were to put these uncertainties in a list format that is easy to read and preferably rounded up to a nice whole number. Well it turns out that Joanna Blythman has fulfilled our request with her “10 Reasons to Oppose GM“.

GM Health Risk Week 2For those who don’t know, Joanna is apparently an “award-winning investigative journalist, the author of six landmark books on food issues, and one of the most authoritative, influential commentators on the British food chain”. Her 10 Reasons to Oppose GM list can be found on the GM Health Risk Week website and starts off with an introduction to the topic. She claims that what we are told by biotech lobbys is an fairy story and should never be confused with the truth. She then states that genetic modification is a “relatively crude technique – think of cut and paste – that moves genetic material across species barriers. As such, it is unprecedented, capable of triggering unpredictable, and irreversible, changes in the DNA, proteins and biochemical composition of food” in her professional opinion as an investigative food journalist. Not only is this statement grossly over simplified; it also makes no sense. However before I go any further I feel I need to mention that I do not work as a lobbyist for any biotech company; nor am I employed to spread misinformation by said biotech companies. I am merely a scientist who hates to see his profession bastardised by the likes of uneducated people like Joanna Blythman and those at GM Health Risk Week.

GM Health Risk Week

There are many different ways to genetically modify an organism, and some are cruder than others. Some involve simply firing DNA into a host cell, whilst others rely on the ability to cheaply, quickly and accurately print the DNA code you require and then insert it into a cell. The fact is that you can’t paint all genetic engineering techniques with one paintbrush as Joanna does. She also seems to imply that no further testing of the GMO is carried out to see if (especially with some of the older, cruder techniques) there are any adverse effects. GMOs on the market now have been extensively scrutinised and shown to have no adverse effects on health. All research that has shown any negative effects has been highly discredited or shown to be for financial or political gain. Genetic engineering also isn’t strictly the ability to cut and paste genetic material across species. You can also modify existing genes in an organism. For example I previously worked for a group that looked into modifying the bacteria that produced the antibiotic of last resort, Vancomycin. They altered it so it would accept non-natural sub units to produce a modified Vancomycin molecule which would be as effective as Vancomycin, but which Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA) would not be immune to. When Joanna goes on to talk about how genetically modifying something will trigger unpredictable and irreversible changes in the DNA, she shows that she has no clue what she is talking about. I, for one, would like to know what modifications have been made to GM-crops on the market that make them capable of changing/splicing parts of their own DNA. However, Joanna never gives any reference; nor does she give any references for anything else she says in her 10 Reasons to Oppose GM which I am now going to critique. Continue reading

No, The British Government Did Not Sell Chemical Weapons to Syria

By: Myles Power Edited by: Peter

On 21st August 2013, the nerve agent Sarin was used during the Syrian civil war. Hundreds were killed in the attacks – all of which took place over a short span of time in the disputed areas of the Ghouta suburbs of the Markaz Rif Dimashq district. This was the first time that chemical weapons had been used in the twenty first century and goaded attention from the worldwide community. The United Nations investigated the attacks over three weeks and confirmed that Sarin had been used. Since the attack, the media coverage here in the UK went into overdrive with every reporter looking for the next big scoop. On September 7th, the Mail Online published an article called ‘Britain sent poison gas chemicals to Assad: Proof that the UK delivered Sarin agent to Syrian regime for SIX years’. The article claimed that British companies have sold chemicals to Syria, and one of them could have been used to produce the deadly nerve agent. The chemical in question is sodium fluoride, which has many uses, including the synthesis of Sarin. I feel that before I go into detail about this article and talk about the chemistry, it’s important to talk about Sarin gas.

Syria British government chemical weapons

Sarin is a colourless and odourless compound and a potent nerve agent. It works by preventing your muscles from switching off usually causing death from asphyxia due to the inability to control the muscles required for breathing. It does this by inhibiting an enzyme called Acetylcholinesterase from hydrolysing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine in humans is used at the neuromuscular junction where signals are transmitted via synapses between neurones from the central nervous systems to muscle fibres. When acetylicholine is relesed into the synapse to signal muscle movement it binds to a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor which depolarises the muscle fibre, causing a cascade that eventual results in muscle contraction. Acetylcoline is then degraded by acetylcholinesterase, allowing the muscle to relax. With acetylcholinesterase being inhibited by Sarin, acetylcholine is allowed to build up and continues to act on the muscle fibre – preventing control and causing them to be continually contracted. Sarin can be synthesised using dimethyl methylphosphonate, phosphorus trichloride, iso propanol and sodium fluoride. This however is not the only way to synthesise the nerve agent, as one of its precursors (methylphosphonyl difluoride) can be synthesised using hydrogen fluoride. This is where the Mail Online article falls at the first hurdle. We don’t know if the Sarin used in the August attacks was synthesised using sodium fluoride or hydrogen fluoride or by any other chemicals.

Sarin Molecule

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The best ‘GM Health Risk Week’ can throw at us

By: Myles Power Edited by: Peter

Earlier today, I received an email from one of my subscribers informing me about a seminar he attended organised by GM Free Cymru. The event was part of GM Health Risk Week – a weeklong event held around the UK in which people apparently examined “health risks surrounding GM food”. This is a very strange event to have in the UK considering no GM crops are being grown commercially here. However, the UK does import GM commodities including animal feed and, to a lesser extent, some imported foods, so perhaps there is a need for such an event. The seminar that my subscriber attended was hosted at the University of South Wales and chaired by the very Welsh sounding Emyr Jones.

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The poster for the event proudly proclaims that it was a “unique opportunity to hear from international research scientist Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini about the potential consequences of using GM animal feed.” For those who don’t know, Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini was the lead author of the highly discredited and, in my opinion, unethical paper “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize“. The paper clams to show a link between genetically modified food and Roundup herbicide to organ damage and increased risk of tumours. The poster however fails to mention that the sample size in the study was far to small and the strain of rat used is known to spontaneously develop tumours. The paper also shows that male rats drinking large quantities of Roundup will have a longer life expectancy however this is never mention by any one promoting this research.

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FUCK the Foo Fighters!!!!

By: Myles Power Edited by: Hannah
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I am currently in the middle of research for a series of videos critical of the AIDS denialism movie House of Numbers. For my research I have been watching extended interviews with the scientists in the documentary, researching various AIDS denialist organisations and finding out about the people within these groups. I have been doing this for about 3 months now and for the whole time I have been unable to get rid of the feeling that I have heard all this AIDS denialist stuff before. Whilst researching the AIDS denialist organisation Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives, founded by the late Christine Maggiore, I had the unsettling feeling that I had seen their logo quite a lot in the past, but was unable to put my finger on where I had seen it. Then it hit me! I remembered exactly where and when I first heard of AIDS denialists. It was back in 2002 when I was still at college and it was on a website belonging to my favourite band at the time; Foo Fighters.
 FooFighters
As unbelievable as it sounds, Foo Fighters were once heavily promoting the theory that HIV does not cause AIDS and AIDS does not exist. Not only did they have a link to an AIDS denialism page on their website’s sidebar, but they proudly had a relatively large banner at the bottom of their front page linking to it, which reads: “If you have ever lived or loved in fear of AIDS, click here for a reality check and to find out what the AIDS establishment isn’t telling you.” Although the old website is long gone, it can still be found using the Way Back Machine and the full transcript can be viewed here.
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The page consists of an introduction to AIDS denialism, which states that “The band has come out in support of Alive and Well AIDS Alternatives, an organization dedicated to helping open the dialog concerning AIDS” and then has a list of “Good Reasons for Good People to Question AIDS”. The reasons listed by this rock band asking you to question AIDS are really incorrect statements with no basis in peer-reviewed research or the real world. They include “AIDS is Not a Disease” and “HIV is Not Proved to Cause AIDS” which even back in 2002 had been proven beyond all doubt to be incorrect. For the most part these statements are relatively harmless and can be passed off as the ramblings of a madman, but the others have real potential of doing great harm. “AIDS declines predate new drug therapies”, “Everyone is Not at Risk”, “Africa is Not Being Destroyed by AIDS” and “HIV Tests Do not Test for HIV”. Each statement was accompanied by a short paragraph going into detail as to why they believe each statement is correct.  Continue reading

Bad science in the paper ‘A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a combined genetically modified (GM) soy and GM maize diet’

By: Myles Power Edited by: Peter

About three weeks ago I was contacted by the Green PolkaDot Box – an organic food company who sells organic food in big green polkadot boxes. Like most organic food companies, they claimed that GM-foods are dangerous to humans. When asked for research that backs up their claims, they sent me a link to a questionable review of the herbicide roundup (glyphosate) which is an analogue of glycine and not a genetically modified organism (GMO). When challenged about their choice of proof of the dangers of GM-food, they went on the defensive and posted links to more research that apparently shows the true dangers…apparently… Their first link was to an anti-GMO website referencing another anti-GMO website referencing a review referencing more reviews referencing cookie cutter anti-GMO research. I have previously talked about this review and how, like all reviews, it’s only as good as the research it quotes. The second link sent to me was to a cookie cutter anti-GMO research paper named ‘A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a combined genetically modified (GM) soy and GM maize diet’.

pig

The paper is doing the rounds the moment, and apparently shows a link between GM-crops and stomach inflammation in pigs. Firstly, lets discuss the journal and the conflict of interests statement. The paper was published in the Journal of Organic Systems – a journal that only publishes a couple of times a year and is not listed on PubMed. Most of the articles are about organic food which is something you would expect from a journal whose sponsors include the Organic Federation of Australia (OFA). Continue reading

The Green PolkaDot Box and Cookie Cutter Anti-GMO “Research”

 By: Myles Power Edited by: Peter

I recently wrote an article critical of a review sent to me as the ultimate proof that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are dangerous from the anti-GMO food delivery company Green PolkaDot Box. This was after they tweeted me telling me that we need to know the “real dangers” of GMOs. I was curious about what dangers they were referring to, and therefore tweeted the company back, asking to see the peer reviewed data they are basing their tweets and business on. I was sent a link to the review ‘Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases‘ which not only used unreliable and discredited references but was not about GMOs in the first place. The review was about the toxicity of glyphosate (Roundup herbicide) and even then most of this claims are not supported by the literature. After posting my article, I was once again contacted by the Green PolkaDot Box – this time on Facebook. They once again agreed with me that GM-food should be labelled, but then went on to say that “there is definitely a lack of GMO safety studies in scientific journals” and gave me a link to a post on naturalness.com.

 greenpolkadotbox

The post was called “Published review highlights lack of proper GMO safety studies in scientific journals”. Before I go any further, I want it known that I have a real problem with websites like this. Websites that are plastered with adverts for miracle cures directed toward the sick and dying. Examples of these adverts include one for a colloidal silver generator. This generator, by magic, will change the pH of water to 10 and spontaneously generate silver which apparently cures…….well….. everything. Another is called warrior mist and claims to cure nerve pain, post-surgery pain, arthritis and “many other kinds of pain!” But the most sickening adverts on the link sent to me by Green PolkaDot Box is one that claims it can cure cancer in 31 days for the low, low cost of $19.95 (plus $7.95 shipping and handling). Not only does it profit from people’s desperation, but it actually promotes them to come off chemotherapy.  I would not associate myself with this website in any way and I was shocked that a company that, apparently, cares about the health of its customers would.  Continue reading

Bad science in the paper ‘Hematotoxicity of Bacillus thuringiensis as Spore-crystal Strains Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac or Cry2Aa in Swiss Albino Mice’

 By: Myles Power Edited by: Peter & Hannah

I have recently published an article and video sceptical of the paper ‘Long-term Toxicity of a Roundup Herbicide and a Roundup-Tolerant Genetically Modified Maize‘. This paper claims to have shown a link between genetically modified (GM) maize tolerant to the roundup herbicide and an increased risk of developing tumours. Even though I discussed the problems with the paper’s experiment in detail, how the paper did not show any such link but did show a link between drinking roundup herbicide and increased life expectancy in men, and listed reliable sources to back up my claims, some people were still not happy with me. Not with what I was saying, but, bizarrely, with the time of the publication.

“haha haha why don’t you analyze the newest studies myles, why don’t you analyze the studies that sparked entire nations to ban GMOs?” – anonymous commenter

Ignoring the fact that I have previously written about the paper only five days after it was published and I am not sure how this invalidates anything I have said, I decided to take up this anonymous commenter’s challenge. Luckily another anonymous commenter sent me a link to the paper ‘Hematotoxicity of Bacillus thuringiensis as Spore-crystal Strains Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac or Cry2Aa in Swiss Albino Mice‘ along with the passive aggressive comment, “I surely hope you honor to your word, myles”. Little did he know but he had sent me one of the best examples of bad science I had ever seen; and a perfect example of the laziness of anti-genetical modified organism (GMO) groups.

Bt delta endotoxin

Before I sat down to read the paper I wanted to know what various anti-GMO groups were saying about it, because it was obvious that this anonymous commenter had copied and pasted it from one of their websites. According to the anti-GMO websites, the paper shows a link between GM food and blood cell disorders including, among other things, leukaemia. They also say that even at the lowest dose tested, the toxins were observed to induce damage to bone marrow cells and cause anaemia. It is important to note here that these websites are not saying that the specific GMOs mentioned in the paper (which produce bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) delta endotoxins) is causing health problems, but that all GMOs are; something that would be wrong even if the conclusion of the paper was correct.

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SHUKMAN!!! is at it again about synthetic biology

 By: Myles Power Edited by: Peter

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As many of you know, I am not a fan of the BBC’s science editor David SHUKMAN! I have previously written about his lack of scientific understanding concerning synthetic biology and extinction. I have also produced videos where I go into detail about why he is not up for the job and why he should not be reporting on sensitive subjects he knows nothing about. I even wrote a letter of complaint about him to the BBC and encouraged others to do the same regarding his fear-mongering piece on synthetic biology. The BBC, however, decided to ignore mine and others’ complaints; as once again Shukman is reporting on the subject he has shown to know nothing about – synthetic biology.

DavidShukman4

The title of the article is ‘Will synthetic biology become a GM-style battleground?’ and before I read the first word I knew it would be up to his usual standard on the subject. This is because at the beginning before any text there is a picture with the caption “The manufacture of DNA is central to the emerging science of synthetic biology”. The problem here is that the picture is of a triplex which has nothing to do with synthetic biology. It’s not like this is a simple mistake that could be missed by a novice, as each strand in the diagram is a different colour. There is also no mention anywhere in the article about triple helixes, groove binding agents, or secondary structures.

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Shukman as usual does a terrible job of explaining what synthetic biology is and even refers back to a video he produced last year in which he turned a duplex into a 6 by 10 grid of code. This is so mind-bendingly stupid I don’t even know how to approach it, and it showed the level knowledge and understanding he had then; and continues to have to this day. He also referred to synthetic biology as a “dimension beyond genetic modification” and a “new field” when nothing could be further from the truth. The term ‘synthetic biology’ is somewhere between a buzz word and an umbrella term encapsulating well understood areas of science. This has led many scientists, including myself, to question whether or not synthetic biology is a new field, or simply an extension of previous research.
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Number-Gate

By: Myles Power Edited by: Peter & Hannah
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One thing I have had screamed at me over the internet in the past year is, “Follow the money! Follow the money!” This statement was originally a reference to the Watergate scandal, when reporters Woodward and Bernstein traced the source of the money paid to the Watergate burglars. Their investigation lead to the discovery of a link between the break-in and the Committee for the Re-Election of the President; which eventually led to the resignation of Nixon. Since then, conspiracy theorists have used this term to tie any two unrelated things together through money. For example, in the past, the UK government has heavily subsidised aviation fuel – therefore, chemtrails exist because a financial link – proving that the UK government has a direct say in which mind-controlling agents go into the fuel (don’t worry if this makes no sense to you, because it also makes no sense to me). Conspiracy theorist also have a tendency to attach the prefix “gate” to anything with a financial connection. For example Moon-gate, 9/11-gate, Boston-gate etc.
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Now I am not throwing the baby out with the bath water here, as it is true that sometimes, if you follow the money to the source, it does reveal a conspiracy, with Watergate being the prime example. Following a money trail can help you discover the origins behind people’s motivations and any agendas they might be pushing. A prime example of this can be found in the documentary ‘House of Numbers’. If you follow the money, you will find that the movie’s origins lie in AIDS denial groups and, despite what the director (Brent Leung) wants you to believe, it was never going to be an “objective examination of the idea the HIV causes AIDS”.

Drinking Roundup Herbicide Makes Men Live Longer

By: Myles Power Edited by: Peter & Hannah

In September of last year, the highly discredited paper ‘Long-term Toxicity of a Roundup Herbicide and a Roundup-Tolerant Genetically Modified Maize‘ was published in the journal ‘Food and Chemical Toxicology’. Most people have heard of this paper, as it is currently being promoted by every anti-GMO group on the planet, as it supposedly shows a link between GMOs, cancer and premature death. I have previously written about this paper and its lack of scientific merit, including its sample size being too small, the choice of rats that are known to spontaneously grow tumours, and for misleading the reader into thinking that the tumours don’t occur in the control group. I also wrote about how I find this research to be HIGHLY unethical, as the scientists involved allowed the rats (known for spontaneously growing tumours) to remain alive, while 25% of their body weight was tumours so they could get pointless unscientific pictures. The only reason I can think of for them doing this is to provoke an emotional response in the reader.

Tumors-Rats1Pictures of rats from the paper

However, some people online who have read my article refuse to change their mind regarding the paper. They simply shout “SHILL” and disregard everything I have said. These people believe that the paper is correct and there is a link between GM-maize and cancer. They also believe that this GM-maize will have the same effect in humans as it does in the rats. To these people I say, if you think this paper shows a link between GM-maize and cancer then you must also believe that drinking large concentrations of roundup herbicide will make men live longer.

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