Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Jon Entine Takedown

The best-laid schemes of mice and men, as Robbie Burns said, gang aft agley.  I had meant to devote this post to the meeting of the Cambridge University Alumni Association (Hawaii Chapter) for UH law professor David Callies’ talk on “GMOs: where and how to regulate:  home rule and state preemption”.  Unfortunately a pitiful half-dozen alums, some with spouses (including y.t. and ditto) was all we could muster, and the talk itself, though it was okay, didn’t say much that anyone who’d been following recent events in Hawaii didn’t already know.  There was at least one interesting thing I learned, but that can wait till I take up the whole legal issue in some later post.

What happened was, I felt that before I wrote on it I should have a look at the primary literature.  So I slogged my way through some of this, especially Federal Judge Barry Kurren’s decision on the Kauai initiative, and found that it was by no means the bought-and-paid-for Monsantoite slam-dunk of anti-GMOer’s imaginations (including, to be honest, my own).  It’s by no means impossible that a conscientious judge, doing what judges are supposed to do, could not have decided the case otherwise.  Indeed, Kurren found for Kauai on all of the legal issues but one.  But that one was fatal, and shows why we have to get state legislation up and running a.s.a.p.

Then serendipity struck again.  In the course of my searching I stumbled on a hot-from-the-press vitriolic attack on the Vandana Shiva Home-Rule Tour by Jon Entine, which if you really want to you can read here:  Why Huffington Post, which is supposedly liberal, allows stuff like this is a mystery to me, and if you’re a HuffPo reader I suggest you write Arianna and give her an earful (remember those days when Letters to the Editor were a big deal?). 

Accompanying Entine’s article was a comment by one Nichols TW, responding to an earlier comment: “I was wondering if you have any peer-reviewed scientific literature that supports your view of GMOs harming the ecosystem, or glyphosate (RoundUp) threatening to ‘kill everything on land and in our ocean’?”

This is too good a chance to miss, I thought, and responded as follows:

      “To Nichols TW. Looking for peer-reviewed scientific literature? Why don't        you check out “Genetically engineered crops, glyphosate and the deterioration of health in the United States of America” by Nancy L. Swanson, Andre Leu, Jon Abrahamson and Bradley Wallet, that appeared in the Journal of Organic Systems, 9(2), 2014 (you can read it at Let's see what you and all the other Montsantophiles have to say about THIS!”

And then I thought: isn’t it maybe time to start the first Takedown?

What is a Takedown?  It’s an answer to the Monsantoites’ favorite tactic, the Pile-On.  Remember, I discussed Pile-Ons in “Mission Statement”.  A Takedown is when someone (so far only me, but let’s hope it catches on) picks on a Monsantophile flack and points out all the half-truths and flat-out lies that his writings contain..  I was already familiar with Entine, because he blogs on something called the Genetic Literacy Project—not to worship GMOs is genetic illiteracy, according to Jon.  So I thought, why not start this particular ball rolling?  Since he’d headlined his piece ‘"Eco-Warrior" Vandana Shiva, at $40,000 a Speech, Rejoins Hawaii Anti-GMO Crusade, But Truth Is the Victim’, I wrote:

       “To Jon Entine. Where do you get the $40,000-per-gig claim for Shiva? I      happened to attend one of the functions you were talking about, so I know that approximately 400 people attended the talk at @15 a head. Also there was a cocktail reception attended by certainly, max, 100 people (probably less) at $30 a head. Do the math. I get a gross of around $9,000, from which you have to subtract the cost of the food and drink, the rent of the theater, and any incidental expenses CFS incurred in sponsoring the thing. If she got more than 5K I'd be surprised. Where do you think the remaining 35K came from?  Btw, if "polls show a majority of Maui farmers and residents oppose the effort to shut down the seed nurseries and research labs" [YES, HE ACTUALLY HAD THE BALDFACED AUDACITY TO CLAIM THIS, DB],  then pray tell us how come GMO firms spent millions of dollars to stop them voting the other way, AND FAILED?”

And seconds after I’d posted, I remembered something else, and posted again:

     “Sorry, folks, one more point. Jon Entine talks about 'demands for what the prime organizer--Washington, DC-based Center for Food Safety (CFS)--calls "home rule."' I'm sorry, the issue the tour was not about what CFS calls "home rule" but what EVERYONE calls "home rule". Just Google it, and you will see inter much alia the Wikipedia definition, "Home rule is the power of a constituent part (administrative division) of a state to exercise such of the state's powers of governance within its own administrative area that have been decentralized to it by the central government"--in this case the right of counties in Hawaii to legislate against certain aspects of GMOs, which of course (though you wouldn't know it from Entine) was the whole theme of the tour. This is the kind of sloppy writing that helps discredit the pro-GMO side.”
I did all this yesterday.  Today when I got up I went straight to the HuffPo piece and to my disappointment found that Entine hadn’t risen to my bait.  Well, I’ll keep up the pressure.  Something’s gotta give.

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