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Project News and Views

Climate Technofix: Weaving Carbon into Gold and Other Myths of “negative emissions”

Published today on Independent Science News: Climate Technofix: Weaving Carbon into Gold and Other Myths of “negative emissions” by Rachel Smolker, Co-Director of Biofuelwatch.

Synopsis: IPCC models for achieving even potentially safe levels of climate change (i.e. 430-480ppm CO2 and 2ºC of warming) are not as plausible as is widely assumed. Buried in the small print of those models is an expectation that viable carbon capture technologies will create “negative emissions”. Yet no such technology currently exists. The only one mentioned by the IPCC as “near term available” is Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Sequestration (BECCS). Smolker’s excellent article describes the short, costly and painful history of BECCS (and carbon capture as a whole) and why the 2ºC roadmap needs a new route if it is to avert disastrous climate change.

To read Rachel Smolker’s important article go to: https://www.independentsciencenews.org/environment/climate-technofix-weaving-carbon-into-gold-and-other-myths-of-negative-emissions/.

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UC Berkeley Students Protest the University of California’s War on Agroecology

Published today (Mon Nov 29, 2015) on Independent Science News: Students Protest the University of California’s War on Agroecology

Synopsis: The decision of the University of California Berkeley to sell Gill
Tract Farm is part of a systematic repression of agroecology being practiced
by the University of California, say students in an open letter. The University
of California, says the letter, must reject privatization and corporate
control and embrace sustainability, urban agriculture, and racial justice.

To read the full open letter from UC Berkeley Students go to: http://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/students-protest-the-university-of-californias-war-on-agroecology/

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Why the United States Leaves Deadly Chemicals on the Market

Independent Science News just published “Why the United States Leaves Deadly Chemicals on the Market,” an investigative report by Valerie Brown and Elizabeth Grossman.

Synopsis: Valerie Brown and Elizabeth Grossman’s investigation reveals that a computer-based modeling system for estimating human health effects from synthetic chemicals has been known for years to greatly underestimate risks if used in certain ways. This system, called “physiologically based pharmacokinetic” (PBPK) modeling was originally developed by the US Department of Defense. PBPK’s use has been pushed by the chemical industry. It has been effectively used Read More »

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Steven Druker Interview: Genetic Engineering and the Subversion of Science

Public Interest Attorney Steven Druker was interviewed by Ryan Clover-Owens at Durland Alternatives Library during Druker’s recent Ithaca visit. Their discussion covered many topics including how genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) came to be so prevalent in the current industrial agriculture and food system; the role of academic scientists in misleading the public about the risks of genetic engineering; how both arrogance and the profit motive harm the quality of science; what happens to scientists whose work challenges the safety of genetic engineering and what can a concerned person do about it. Steven Druker encourages scientists and non-scientists to get informed and speak out.

To watch the video of Ryan Clover-Owens’s interview (20 minutes) with Steven Druker go to: Steven Druker Interview: Genetic Engineering and the Subversion of Science.

steven druker video screenshot

Additional data supporting Druker’s interview answers is presented in his book Altered Genes Twisted Truth.  For additional reading on Public Interest vs Private Interest Science see:

O’Brien, M. H. (1993). Being a Scientist Means Taking Sides. BioScience, 706-708.

Wilhelm Peekhaus (2010). The Neoliberal University and Agricultural Biotechnology: Reports From the Field. The Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society 30: 415-429.

So, A. D., Sampat, B. N., Rai, A. K., Cook-Deegan, R., Reichman, J. H., Weissman, R., & Kapczynski, A. (2008). Is Bayh-Dole Good for Developing Countries? Lessons from the US Experience. PLoS Biology 6(10), e262.

Arancibia, F. (2013). Challenging the Bioeconomy: The Dynamics of Collective Action in Argentina. Technology in Society, 35(2), 79-92.

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Altered Genes Twisted Truth Edited Steven Druker Ithaca Talk on Community TV

OVER THE SHOULDER (OTS, a weekly one-hour series of public interest programs) is showing Altered Genes, Twisted Truth — an edited version of Steven Druker’s public talk in Ithaca, N.Y. The OTS show will be aired on Community Access TV Channels 13 (w/Cable Box or Digital Adapter) & 97-1 (digital TV’s w/QAM Tuner) on:

Tuesday        November 24 at 9 PM
Wednesday  November 25 at 1:30 PM
Thursday      November 27 at 11 AM
Saturday       November 28 at 11 PM

For more informations see:

Produced by Jurden Alexander, camera and Wies van Leuken, editor:  OTS 271 Altered Genes, Twisted Truth shows Steven Druker discussing his book “Altered Genes Twisted Truth: how the venture to genetically engineer our food has subverted science, corrupted government, and systematically deceived the public”.  Mr. Druker is a Public Interest Attorney, genetically modified foods (GMO) critic and executive director of the Alliance for Bio-Integrity.  The event took place at the Unitarian Church in Ithaca, NY on September 30, 2015 and was organized by the Bioscience Resource Project in Ithaca, NY.
Length 59:13

Additional cablecasts during the same week at the discretion of the station manager.
Posted at YouTube at https://youtu.be/uBtdeioRyQ0

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Why Andrew Cuomo’s Pollinator Task Force Won’t Save New York’s Bees

Independent Science News has just published Why Andrew Cuomo’s Pollinator Task Force Won’t Save New York’s Bees, a firsthand investigative report by Tracy Frisch.

Synopsis: Beekeepers across North America have been experiencing unsustainable losses of honeybee colonies from Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). In 2014-15, annual colony losses in New York State reached 54 per cent, according to the Bee Informed Partnership survey. These problems of managed bees are probably connected to a general decline in pollinator species being experienced all over the globe. Unless halted, the decline of pollinators heralds an ecological and agricultural crisis of unimaginable proportions.

Despite its seriousness, the US Federal Government has passed much of the responsibility for solutions to individual states. In particular, it has asked states to create their own “Pollinator Protection Plans.” This buck-passing is not producing promising results, however, as Tracy Frisch’s report on NY Governor Cuomo’s Pollinator Task Force shows. Mostly advised by industry representatives, NY’s Task Force ignores the impressive worldwide body of scientific evidence that implicates neonicotinoid insecticides as a major contributor to the decline of honeybee and wild bee populations (e.g. Lu et al., 2014).

Unless outside pressure (e.g. from the public, NGOs, beekeepers and scientists) can force Governor Cuomo and his Pollinator Task Force to ban neonicotinoids, and other implicated pesticides and herbicides, the decline in pollinators will continue.

To read the entire article by Tracy Frisch go to: http://www.independentsciencenews.org/environment/why-andrew-cuomos-pollinator-task-force-wont-save-new-yorks-bees/.

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Video of Lawyer Steven Druker’s Ithaca Discussion of Altered Genes, Twisted Truth

On Wednesday, September 30th from 7-9pm, the Bioscience Resource Project hosted Public Interest Attorney Steven Druker from the Alliance for Bio-Integrity. Steven Druker described some of the findings of his extensive research for Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public. This research included examination of original sources (including FDA documents and scientific papers), interviews with scientists involved in GE research and risk assessment and re-checking his findings with additional scientists. Druker’s research led him to conclude that no GE crop on the market has ever been properly safety tested and therefore GE foods cannot legitimately be claimed “safe” for consumption. During his talk he shows the falseness of claims that GE is a natural process; that no GE product has ever been shown to harm humans; that there is a scientific consensus that GE foods are safe and that GE foods are well-regulated. He also contends that GE is so imprecise and unpredictable that even calling it genetic “engineering” is a misnomer.

Druker proved enthusiastic to engage respectfully with scientists and others with contrary opinions, including those who promote GE crops and foods. After the event he took a wide range of questions from the audience, including many from Alliance for Science Fellows. His answers reflected both the careful research he put into his book and his respect for science and the people he is engaging with, whatever their views. The full (2 hour) video of Steven Druker’s talk and Q and A  can be seen at: Altered Genes Twisted Truth Talk and Q&A in Ithaca.

An excellent edited (1 hour) recording of the event was produced by Over the Shoulder: Altered Genes Twisted Truth. This version includes an introduction by Jonathan Latham, Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project and 40 minutes of Druker’s talk and 15 minutes of Q and A.

Druker’s talk provides a good contrast and follow-up to the Cornell Alliance for Science’s “Ask Me Anything About GMOs.” event held in Ithaca a few weeks previously.

More about Altered Genes, Twisted Truth

Synopsis of Altered Genes Twisted Truth in Nation of Change.

Altered Genes Twisted Truth reviewed by Jane Goodall in the Ecologist.

The Royal Society’s assault on the science of GM foods must cease by Steven Druker.

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GE Soybeans Give Altered Milk and Stunted Offspring, Researchers Find

On October 26th, 2015, Independent Science News published: “GE Soybeans Give Altered Milk and Stunted Offspring, Researchers Find,” a news article by Jonathan Latham, PhD.

Synopsis: Pregnant goats fed with genetically engineered (GE) soybeans have offspring who grow more slowly and who are also shorter, according to a new study published in the journal of Small Ruminant Research (Tudisco et al., 2015). The researchers attributed the growth defects to reduced milk and colostrum quality in the GE-fed mothers. “The differences in the composition of the colostrum between the mothers fed the GE soy and the non-GE soy were particularly striking. The colostrum from the GE-fed mothers contained only 2/3 of the fat, 1/3 of the protein and close to half of the IgG of the mothers fed the non-GM soy,” said Dr Judy Carman Director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research, Australia, (who was not involved in the study) in an email to Independent Science News.

For the full article read: http://www.independentsciencenews.org/news/ge-soybeans-give-altered-milk-and-stunted-offspring-researchers-find/

For the original research paper by Tudisco et al., 2015 go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921448815000528

Further reading
Reviews of the safety studies carried out on genetically engineered plants:

Krimsky, Sheldon. “An Illusory Consensus behind GMO Health Assessment.” Science, Technology & Human Values (2015): 0162243915598381.
Heinemann, Jack A., Sarah Zanon Agapito-Tenfen, and Judy A. Carman. “A comparative evaluation of the regulation of GM crops or products containing dsRNA and suggested improvements to risk assessments.” Environment international 55 (2013): 43-55.
Domingo, José L., and Jordi Giné Bordonaba. “A literature review on the safety assessment of genetically modified plants.” Environment International 37.4 (2011): 734-742.
Domingo, Jose L. “Toxicity studies of genetically modified plants: a review of the published literature.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 47.8 (2007): 721-733.
Freese, William, and David Schubert. “Safety testing and regulation of genetically engineered foods.” Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews 21.1 (2004): 299-324.
Carman, Judy. “Is GM food safe to eat?.” Recoding Nature Critical Perspectives on Genetic Engineering (Sydney: UNSW Press, 2004) (2004): 82-93.
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Video of Alliance For Science’s Ithaca “Ask Me Anything About GMOs” Event: Disrespect for the Public and Disrespect for the Truth

Cornell’s Alliance for Science, funded by the Gates Foundation to “depolarize” the GMO debate, hosted its first public event in Ithaca: “Ask Me Anything About GMOs.”  This event, however, was nothing if not polarizing. Controversy before the event centered around how it was portrayed (as an open and independent discussion of GMO issues by a panel of unbiased scientists). This illusion was quickly shattered by a New York Times front page article and Jonathan Latham’s follow-up, The Puppetmasters of Academia. Together these exposed the industry links of Kevin Folta (a key panel participant), Sarah Evanega Davidson (director of the Cornell Alliance for Science) and Cornell University itself. The final panel at the event was composed solely of publicly funded academics with clear industry ties.

The panel took questions from the public and from Alliance for Science Fellows and staff. Their answers were less than satisfactory for those wanting an independent, science-informed viewpoint or a thoughtful discussion of GMO issues. The panel scientists evaded questions, gave inaccurate or misleading answers, answered questions that were not asked, reiterated industry talking points or simply had the pubic “gonged” when they did not like where the discussion was going. Much of the audience was composed of the Alliance for Science, its fellows and its Cornell supporters. However thought-provoking and challenging questions were asked by farmers, scientists not linked to industry and other members of the public. For the full video of the Ithaca Alliance Event see: Bioscience Resource Project video of “Ask Me Anything” GMO Event 9-10-15.

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Why Cancer Research Has Stalled

Independent Science News just published: Why Cancer Research Has Stalled. This new article by Dr. T. Colin Campbell (Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus, Cornell University) suggests that significant scientific advancement in the understanding, prevention and treatment of cancer requires a totally different research focus.

Synopsis: The failure of science and medicine to prevent or significantly treat the current epidemic of cancer is not necessarily due to the inherent invincibility of the disease. T Colin Campbell, cancer biologist and nutrition researcher, proposes that the primary reason Read More »

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    The Bioscience Resource Project provides scientific and intellectual resources for a healthy future. It publishes Independent Science News, a media service devoted to food and agriculture, and their impacts on health and the environment. It also offers resources for scientists and educators and internships and training for students. Through its innovative scientific journalism and original biosafety review articles, the project provides unique and revealing perspectives on issues that are fundamental to the survival of people and the planet. The project does not accept advertising or corporate funding and is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. It is completely dependent on individual donations.

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