No Till / GMO


This is my cornfield, which is about 100 yards from my bedroom window. It’s GMO – specifically, Roundup Ready.

no till

They drilled the seeds back in May, I guess. It was cut in September 2015. It’s now July.

The practice is called “no till” because … the farmer doesn’t have to till the soil between crops. The old way of farming would be to till the soil in the spring and fertilize it before planting, plant it, harvest it in the fall. When you’re doing no till, you spray the field (and maybe lime it in one pass) with roundup to kill off all the weeds that grew up ahead of planting, plant it, and harvest it in the fall.

It’s a whole lot easier to spray roundup and dump lime on a field than it is to plow it – it’s the difference between towing a spray boom, and making a pass with a tiller/breaker and then another pass with a disc to smooth the field back down. To run a tractor to perform any operation on a field this size, you’re going to burn 2-4 gallons of diesel, and about 4 hours of driving back and forth.

Farmers are happy to avoid all the driving back and forth. When I first bought my place, I used to make hay in this same field and that was also a lot of driving back and forth burning diesel. Some of my neighbors tow their sprayers behind an ATV or a pickup truck, which is much faster and more energy efficient than a tractor.

I also came to get the feeling that you are never 100% safe operating a tractor, even if you’re careful. I’ve had hydraulic lines blow, a power take-off driveshaft wrap itself into a pretzel and try to hammer its way in the back window of the tractor (leaving a heck of a dent in the front of the baler) and various belts and bearings fail. My old Belarus tractor had a centrifugal oil filter (a design of great beauty) which kind of exploded one day, leaving me in a cloud of oil filled with all kinds of nasty byproducts in the middle of a potential fuel/air explosion. I much prefer my Real Job, which runs me the risk of a heart attack because I sit in a chair doing things with computers and don’t get enough exercise anymore. But, once you’ve seen what a hay cutter does to a baby deer, you’ll see why internet security is a much better career field.

Any time spent tilling and discing a field is wasted time, if there’s a cheaper alternative that doesn’t require heavy equipment.

If you look at the ground in my picture you can see the cut stems and roots from 2015’s corn crop. When they harvest the field, they just come by with the cutter and suck everything up and leave the stems and roots. Every fall morning and evening I can look out and see the deer and turkeys (mostly) and the occasional bear wandering around looking for left over noms. The best part of the no till process, to me, is that the soil doesn’t get broken up, which means it doesn’t wash out in great big gulleys. down my creek, and into the river below my property. The fish in the river probably appreciate that, too. And – believe me – it’s no fun at all to be driving a tractor and hit a gulley – Ba-BOUNCE! Tractors don’t have a suspension like an SUV. It was one of those gulleys that ripped the u-joint on my power take-off driveshaft that time, so my experience was something like: Ba-BOUNCE, Tunk… Tunk… WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAT THE  BLAZES SHUT DOWN NOW OMG THERE GOES MY DAY, I am going to be driving around getting parts and wrenching on this thing because the hay’s got to come in… OMG look at the front of the baler. Breathe. Breathe.

I’m not going to settle the GMO debate* here, but what I see is a farming technique that takes a bit less than half as much work and fuel, half as much wear on the gear, no soil runoff or loss of topsoil and – in return – comes with higher seed cost and the cost of 20 gal of roundup/acre.

turkeys

Consider the corn plant as (for us humans) a machine for producing corn. It could be GMO or non-GMO as long as the machine produces corn. It could be made of LEGOs as long as it produces corn, because I’m not eating the stem or the LEGOs – I’m eating the corn. I’ve encountered people concerned about GMOs that don’t appear to understand this at all. Of course if the plant was so modified that, instead of producing corn it started producing LEGOs, then I wouldn’t eat them. But if the seeds – the corn – contain LEGO DNA, I’m OK with that, as long as its yummy with butter or dried and ground up into cornbread. I don’t even care if the seeds – the corn – are capable of reproducing themselves, because they’re ground up and cooked, see, and they’re not capable of reproducing themselves after that anyway. I do think that Monsanto’s business practice of offering farmers a way to save time and effort, but then collecting half of the value of that in fees – well, that’s stinky. But anyone decent hates capitalists anyway.

(* As far as I am concerned, there really isn’t one.)

Comments

  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    And how many tumors would it take for you to reconsider this agroindustrial process?

  2. Siobhan says

    And how many tumors would it take for you to reconsider this agroindustrial process?

    More than the number of tumours you bring to the comments section.

  3. kestrel says

    @#1: What do tumors have to do with it? I’ve read the post twice and see no references to tumors. ?? Do you have some sort of evidence that cutting hay or growing corn produces tumors?

    My heart was in my mouth through the tractor Incident. We use a tractor and a brush hog to mow the fields to keep the grass going and the weeks at bay. I also sincerely hope you got the hay in!!!

    I think these are interesting observations because most people these days don’t have the chance to make them. They do not even know how to drive a tractor, much less the process for cutting and baling hay. This does sound like a much better process when you take a look at the whole picture. And I can pretty much guarantee the fish are happier!

  4. Holms says

    Being that there is no link to cancer, this seems to be a non-sequitur fallacy. Unless Pierce can establish that link…?

  5. Johnny Vector says

    I know next to nothing about farming, and all the recalcitrant internal combustion engines from my youth were on the backside of a boat, but those memories are enough to get that point across.

    As I understand things, becoming a vegetarian because you can’t stand the thought of killing animals really doesn’t help. The number of animals killed in the operation of a plant-growing farm is far higher than the number of animals killed in the operation of a cattle or pig farm. (Of course with grain-fed food animals you get to count both sides, but the point remains that switching to vegan may reduce, but won’t come close to eliminating, the number of animals killed to feed you.)

    So, if I recall the math properly, if you care about animal lives, no-till is the only ethical farming method. And yet I know a lot of vegans who are also anti-GMO and anti-roundup.

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    kestrel @ # 3: Do you have some sort of evidence that cutting hay or growing corn produces tumors?

    Possibly some people avoid environmental reports in their news feeds. Try a search for “Glyphosate cancer” (and note that the top finds come from, e.g., Pubmed and Nature – though the Mercolas etc do show up as well).

    And, ftr, I have farmed and experienced scary equipment breakdowns and accidents: our esteemed host definitely has it right about those.

  7. Johnny Vector says

    Pierce: I did that search on DuckDuckGo; the top result was a report showing in vitro activation of certain breast cancer cells, at concentrations whose relevance was hidden behind Elsevier’s fucking paywall. The next paper that showed up was “Glyphosate and AMPA inhibit cancer cell growth through inhibiting intracellular glycine synthesis”.

    If I were a farmer I’d be about 1E6 times more worried about being killed by an equipment failure than by a tumor from glyphosate.

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    Johnny Vector @ # 7 – Yes, farm equipment hazards pop up daily; accumulated pesticide damage takes years to materialize.

    While doing your search (& pls note the DuckDuckGo list I linked to contains more than one report), why not check out the summaries of known and potential effects on scienceblogs.com at their occupational health blog The Pump Handle?

  9. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#1:
    And how many tumors would it take for you to reconsider this agroindustrial process?

    A couple of things about that:
    – No till has been practiced since the 1970s. If there was a balloon in tumor rates, we’d have noticed it by now.
    – Some people point to chemicals in the roundup that are used to make it stick to plants when sprayed. These are trace ingredients (though toxic) but more importantly, the plants they are sprayed on are dead before the food crops are planted. Even though the food crops are capable of surviving the glyphosate, that’s not how the process is done.
    – Perhaps you are thinking of the paper by Séralini et al. , which purported to connect tumor rates in rats with use of GMO corn. In the paper, the statistics appeared to show that increased tumor rates were independent of whether glyphosate was used, or not, i.e.: that it was something to do with the GMO corn itself. Elsevier announced that study was retracted in 2012 (announcement, discussion) My suspicion is that the study was retracted because the researchers used a gene-line of rats that were particularly susceptible to tumors, and had them on the GMO diet for 2 years, which is … well, a normal rat life-span. If the methodological flaw there isn’t obvious to you, let me know and I’ll break it down.

  10. says

    kestrel@#3:
    My heart was in my mouth through the tractor Incident. We use a tractor and a brush hog to mow the fields to keep the grass going and the weeks at bay. I also sincerely hope you got the hay in!!!

    Brush hogs… aieeeee they are scary. My tractor had a 12′ cutting deck hog; it did not reward inattention. I am very happy not to be interacting with heavy equipment, anymore.

    Perhaps someday if I am feeling puckish and sappy, I will write up the story of that hay-making day. The short form is that I got the hay in right ahead of a thunder storm, but only by virtue of nearly killing myself to do it. But I remember it as one of the best days of my life, because I was able to do it, and I did it alone except for with the able assistance of my then dogs, Miles and Jake, who accompanied me and woofed at what needed to be woofed at, and made sure the interior of my truck smelled like sweaty dog. I managed to build a new drive-shaft by hacksawing down a longer one that I bought at Tractor supply (60 miles round trip) and baled the field onto the ground, then drove around and hand-loaded the bales in my farm truck, drove them to the barn, and unloaded them. If I recall, it was about 15 trips and 250 or so bales – about 6 tons moved at each end. Some projects are worth doing, simply because when you’re done you realize “I never knew I was capable of doing that.”

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 9: If there was a balloon in tumor rates, we’d have noticed it by now.

    Not all chemical hazards present “balloons” in the stats.

    … the food crops are capable of surviving the glyphosate…

    And, as with insects, more Round-Up® resistant weeds are documented yearly. No-till’s days may be numbered regardless of health risk.

    Perhaps you are thinking of the paper by Séralini et al. , which purported to connect tumor rates in rats with use of GMO corn.

    No, I was not considering any GMO issues per se at all. Just reports from WHO about lymphoma and general cancer risks:

    IARC’s decision to classify glyphosate as “probably” carcinogenic to people (Group 2A) was made unanimously, after reviewing hundreds of scientific studies, based on three lines of evidence:

    “sufficient” evidence of cancer in mice and rats that were fed glyphosate over a several years (see reports by EPA 1991 and the WHO 2004);
    “strong” evidence from mechanistic or cellular studies that explain how glyphosate may cause cancer;
    And, “limited” evidence from epidemiologic studies of people, particularly pesticide applicators and farmworkers.

    And I do note that my searches found reports of “contradictory” data and results – as usual with underfunded research areas, conclusive answers may come only with hindsight. Nonetheless, the reasons to view Monsanto with jaundiced eyes go well beyond their pecuniary peculiarities.

  12. says

    Pierce R Butler@#11:
    Not all chemical hazards present “balloons” in the stats.

    Sure. But when you’re making comments like “And how many tumors would it take for you to reconsider this agroindustrial process?” that’d be rather noticeable, don’t you think? Put differently, if the toxicity is so low that it doesn’t create a balloon, maybe nobody should get really bent out of shape about it?

    And, as with insects, more Round-Up® resistant weeds are documented yearly. No-till’s days may be numbered regardless of health risk.

    I am not denying evolution.
    Now you’re just shotgunning stuff that doesn’t interrelate. That there are more roundup resistant weeds is completely irrelevant to whether or not eating corn from a GMO plant causes tumors.

    No, I was not considering any GMO issues per se at all. Just reports from WHO about lymphoma and general cancer risks:

    I’ve reviewed those reports and they appear to be discussing whether farmers who are exposed to the roundup while they are spraying it are at risk. That’s also irrelevant to what I’m talking about, which is using roundup to clear a field, waiting a week, then planting crops (which subsequently take weeks to germinate) By the time the corn is coming up, there’s no glyphosate – it’s been broken down and diluted into the topsoil. The guy spraying it may be breathing it, but I’m not eating it.

    I’m not particularly concerned about glyphosate that was sprayed in May remaining on corn that is harvested in September – especially if the glyphosate was sprayed 3-4 weeks before the corn even germinated.

    Further, the first link you cited describes an herbicide known as 2,4-D – not glyphosate.

    The second link you cited also describes the potential for glyphosate affecting farm workers who are applying it or working in crops where it has recently been applied. That a) doesn’t apply to corn and b) doesn’t apply to me and c) doesn’t apply to someone eating the corn 4 months later. There are no repeat applications of roundup – just the first one to knock down the weeds in the field. (By the way, the problem of weeds evolving resistance is kind of small for corn fields because any weeds that did survive the glyphosate are going to find themselves crowded out by the corn)

    Tl;dr: do you actually know anything about this stuff?

  13. SK Miller says

    Damn, I hate hitting fawns when cutting hay. Bunny nests with the riding mower aren’t much better. Such is life on the farm….

  14. Holms says

    #11 Pierce
    Marcus Ranum @ # 9: If there was a balloon in tumor rates, we’d have noticed it by now.

    Not all chemical hazards present “balloons” in the stats.

    You’re aware you are using the last refuge of the ‘mobile phones cause cancer’ scaremongers?

  15. jacobletoile says

    I’m surprised they are spraying that early, I would think the latest application of roundup possible would be best. That way there is maximum time for weed germination and minimum weed corn overlap. I don’t grow corn, but the guys around here wait till the corn is a foot to 18 in tall before rounduping. Another advantage of that process, you don’t need preemergent.

  16. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 12: … that’d be rather noticeable, don’t you think?

    So you (& Holms @ # 14) maintain that subtle effects (in a bouillabaisse of industrial chemicals) don’t matter/exist?

    … whether or not eating corn from a GMO plant causes tumors.

    For crysake: I said nothing about GMO plants. My point: herbicides are toxic on a cellular level, potentially including carcinogenic effects.

    … whether farmers who are exposed to the roundup while they are spraying it are at risk. … The guy spraying it may be breathing it, but I’m not eating it.

    I asked whether tumors would make a difference in your thinking – I did not limit that to your tumors & fuck everybody else. Do you really take the latter position?

    Also, please note that because the weedkiller on the corn on your plate may have dissipated to near-homeopathic levels does not mean the millions of gallons of that weedkiller have utterly disappeared from the biome. It really isn’t all about you.

  17. John Morales says

    Pierce R. Butler:

    For crysake: I said nothing about GMO plants.

    Your clarification is helpful.

    My point: herbicides are toxic on a cellular level, potentially including carcinogenic effects.

    A silly point. Red/processed meat is in the same category (2A) as glyphosphate.

  18. says

    I was happy that the first article I saw when I googled for “glyphosate cancer” was by Derek Lowe. Lowe’s been a voice of rationality and skepticism for a long time, in addition to being the blogger who writes the amazing “things I won’t work with” articles.

    Lowe’s article on glyphosate is here:
    http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2016/05/18/glyphosate-and-cancer

    tl;dr Lowe: there are a lot of people getting bent out of shape based on some questionable results. Including, apparently, one Pierce R. Butler.

  19. Pierce R. Butler says

    John Morales @ # 18: Your clarification is helpful.

    It should have been totally unnecessary.

    Red/processed meat is in the same category (2A) as glyphosphate.

    Pretty goddamned broad category.

    Marcus Ranum @ # 17: Sorry I took what you said literally.

    You took a statement never mentioning GMOs and criticized it as an attack on GMOs. May I ask for your definition of “literally”?

    Lowe’s piece of glyphosate (thanks for that) does seem quite cogent, though I do perceive a tendency to lump all non-scientists leery of pesticides together with the quacks and panic-mongers who do indeed muddy the waters for fun ‘n’ profit.

    Pls note a few points: Lowe’s own self-intro describes him as a pharma expert – not a toxicologist. He himself notes in passing the figures do (“barely”) reach statistical significance, and the data available has “few studies and a crude exposure metric, while the overall body of literature is methodologically limited and findings are not strong or consistent“.

    Lowe: … it’s such a widely used compound that if there were easily quantifiable risks, you’d figure that we wouldn’t still be arguing about it at this point.

    So if it can’t be quantified “easily”, pay no attention. Didn’t the tobacco industry say something similar, just a few decades ago?

    Lowe: A study from Saskatchewan found an association between farm work and NHL [non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma], as have many others, but this seems to have been possibly linked to several pesticides, not exposure to glyphosate (a herbicide). In general, the NHL/farming link seems to be real, although the evidence for it has been described as “markedly inconsistent” and has not been pinned down to any particular variable. (emphasis added)

    Lowe seems unaware that herbicides are a subset of pesticides – a heavy strike against his credibility regarding farm chemicals.

    But I can’t do better to finish than Lowe’s conclusion, especially the last five words:

    There’s certainly room for more evidence to come in, though, and it looks like we’re going to need it, because this is a topic that’s never going to go away until we have more data.

  20. Pierce R. Butler says

    Uh, pls read para 7 of my # 21 as “Lowe’s piece on glyphosate …”

  21. John Morales says

    Pierce:

    Red/processed meat is in the same category (2A) as glyphosphate.
    Pretty goddamned broad category.

    Well, yes. The category of definite maybes.

    Clearly, something Marcus has factored into his cost-benefit analysis.

    (e.g. tilling increases farmers exposure to spores — and how many infections would it take for you to reconsider this agroindustrial process?)

  22. Holms says

    #16
    My comment was pointing out that Pierce’s continued criticism of glyphosate being carcinogenic has followed the pattern laid down by those that claim mobile phones are carcinogenic. Specifically, when you point out that phone prevalence has grown rapidly to the point where they are now ubiquitous, and yet there is no burst of cancer matching this trend, the usual defense is that maybe the link to cancer is more subtle than can easily be picked out of noisy data. Your conversation with Pierce has followed the same pattern, and Pierce is now at the stage where he claims the carcinogenic link is too subtle to be visible.

    The next step on this path is to admit that there is no link.

  23. Pierce R. Butler says

    Holms @ # 24: … Pierce is now at the stage where he claims the carcinogenic link is too subtle to be visible.

    Or, Holms & Ranum have reached the stage where they claim only the obvious exists – viral video or it didn’t happen!

    The next step on this path is to admit that there is no link..

    Maybe on whatever fork y’all took – my preferred next step involves fixing that “few studies and a crude exposure metric, while the overall body of literature is methodologically limited and findings are not strong or consistent“ problem (or non-problem, for some people).

  24. Holms says

    Or, Holms & Ranum have reached the stage where they claim only the obvious exists – viral video or it didn’t happen!

    Multiple studies over years many years repeatedly show a) there is no association between mobiles and cancer, b) there is no association between (in this case) Roundup Ready GMO and cancer, and c) there is no association between glyphosate / Roundup and cancer.

  25. Reginald Selkirk says

    Quoted in #21: because this is a topic that’s never going to go away until we have more data.

    He was wrong about that. It’s not going to go away because one side just isn’t data-driven. It’s like trying to introduce clinical studies into a conversation with your local fan of chiropractic or echinacea.

    How many Nobel laureates would it take for you to re-think your stance on GMOs?
    Stop Bashing G.M.O. Foods, More Than 100 Nobel Laureates Say

  26. Pierce R. Butler says

    Holms @ # 26: Multiple studies over years many years repeatedly show …

    So you say; the source recommended by our esteemed host says “data insufficient”. I kinda suspect Ranum’s recommendation has a better and more recent review of the situation.

    From an NPR report:

    … two types of evidence convinced the committee that the glyphosate has the potential to cause cancer. First, there were laboratory studies showing that the chemical can damage DNA and chromosomes in human cells. This type of damage can lead to the emergence of cancer. Second … some studies showed increased rates of cancerous tumors in mice and rats that were exposed to glyphosate. These were rare forms of cancer that are unlikely to occur by themselves, adding to the evidence that glyphosate caused them. … The glyphosate assessment “will be controversial” even among scientists, says David Eastmond, a professor at the University of California, Riverside, and a specialist on the risks posed by agricultural chemicals. “It’s conceivable that another group of experts might come to a different conclusion.”

    So: case not exactly closed.

    Reginald Selkirk @ # 27: It’s not going to go away because one side just isn’t data-driven.

    Because all those people who just don’t trust the wonderful folks at Monsanto are nothing but dirty hippies, huh?

    How many Nobel laureates …

    The argument from authority? On Marcus Ranum’s blog?!? Clearly we have entered The End Times™!

  27. Holms says

    So you say; the source recommended by our esteemed host says “data insufficient”.

    And in the absence of evidence, I side with the null hypothesis until / unless the positive accrues credibility. You’ve decided the reverse; how scientifically minded of you.

  28. Reginald Selkirk says

    Because all those people who just don’t trust the wonderful folks at Monsanto are nothing but dirty hippies, huh?

    Demonization of the evil Monsanto, everybody drink!

    It appears that you are in the part of the game where you want to make up stupid shit and pretend that I said it. So go fuck yourself.

    The argument from authority?…

    having already established that you do not have a firm grasp of the available data, what else is there to try?
    BTW, I think the Nobel effort is flawed, it concentrates on golden rice, which has not been successful for reasons other than GMO. But I do appreciate that they were willing to stand up to those you call “dirty hippies,” and who I would refere to as the “unscienced left.”

    some studies showed increased rates of cancerous tumors in mice and rats that were exposed to glyphosate. These were rare forms of cancer that are unlikely to occur by themselves, adding to the evidence that glyphosate caused them

    The only study to claim any link between glyphosate and cancer used a strain of rats which was highly susceptible to cancer, and was broadly criticized for poor methodology before it was eventually retracted. Which tells me that the committee which placed glyphosate in a “probable carcinogen” category, like you. does not have a good handle on the available data and cannot distinguish good science from bad.

  29. Pierce R. Butler says

    Holms @ # 29 – “Innocent until proven guilty” makes a fine legal principle for people, but a damn poor rule for technology (especially, y’know, poisons).

    Reginald Selkirk @ # 30 – Make a stupid generalization, get called on it, get all huffy. How … persuasive.

    … having already established that you do not have a firm grasp of the available data…

    Says the guy who still hasn’t figured out I was not arguing against GMOs here.

    …the committee which placed glyphosate in a “probable carcinogen” category, like you. does not have a good handle on the available data and cannot distinguish good science from bad.

    Whereas Reginald Selkirk, citing exactly no sources has it allllll figured out. Uh huh.

  30. Holms says

    Going where the evidence indicates, and not going where it doesn’t, is a pretty good scientific principle. In the absence of evidence establishing harm, you’ve chosen to assume harm.

    Whereas Reginald Selkirk, citing exactly no sources has it allllll figured out. Uh huh.

    The null hypothesis doesn’t need a study citation.

  31. Pierce R. Butler says

    In the presence of ambiguous data, Holms has chosen to assume the bad news does not exist.

    IARC Scientist Reaffirms Glyphosate’s Link to Cancer as Monsanto’s Requests to Dismiss Cancer Lawsuits Denied :

    Dr. Kurt Straif, a section head with the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), appeared in an interview with euronews defending the agency’s assessment that glyphosate probably causes cancer in humans. … “Our classification of the cancer hazards of glyphosate still stand,” he said. “We are the authority to classify cancer substances worldwide for the WHO, and it was then this other panel that looked at a very narrow angle of exposure from daily food, and then came up with the conclusion on how much of that may be safe or not.”

  32. Holms says

    In the presence of ambiguous data, Holms has chosen to assume the bad news does not exist.

    This is just a dickish rephrasing of what I have already said: lacking good data to suggest the positive, I choose the null, while you choose the positive. Oh and more Monsanto = eeeeeeevil silliness.

    But wait!

    The substance is unlikely to be genotoxic (i.e. damaging to DNA) or to pose a carcinogenic threat to humans. Glyphosate is not proposed to be classified as carcinogenic under the EU regulation for classification, labelling and packaging of chemical substances. In particular, all the Member State experts but one agreed that neither the epidemiological data (i.e. on humans) nor the evidence from animal studies demonstrated causality between exposure to glyphosate and the development of cancer in humans.

    The EU peer review concluded that no significant increase in tumour incidence could be observed in any of the treated groups of animals in the nine long term rat studies considered. IARC, on the other hand, interpreted two studies as showing statistically significant carcinogenic effects. Similarly, with the mice studies, IARC identified positive carcinogenic trends in two studies that the EU peer reviewers assessed as insignificant.

    The main differences between the EFSA and IARC evaluations are explained in detail in a special background document published by EFSA. As well as reviewing a larger number of studies, EFSA for example considered that carcinogenic effects observed at high doses were unreliable as they could be related to general toxicity.

  33. Pierce R. Butler says

    Holms @ # 34: … lacking good data to suggest the positive, I choose the null, while you choose the positive.

    Pls re-take Mind Reading 101. I choose the “get good data before pouring 200M+ pounds of the stuff yearly in the US alone option, thank you very much. I’m just evil that way.

    Btw, I think we need much more data on the “inert ingredients” and their biological impacts too. Mwa-ha-ha…

    Even should we conclude that Roundup functions as an individually optimized multivitamin in the human body, we still need to weigh that against glyphosate’s apparent role in, e.g., massive algae blooms in Lake Erie following Roundup applications. (Yup, another dirty-hippie lost-cause, look the other way…)

    Why the hell are you guys taking the corporate side this time?

  34. John Morales says

    Pierce, algae blooms, eh? And intimations of corporate advocacy!

    You’ve widened the scope a fair way from your initial worrisome tumours.

    (Not the best rhetorical strategy, IMO)

  35. Holms says

    But John, that’s the entire strategy. Allege something specific! Didn’t get by the current audience? Allege something else! Oh an if someone is taking the the side of science, don’t forget that there are corporate dollars invested and that therefore the opponents are actually shills. (Ignore the fact that that could be said of every scientific endeavor.)

    Basic apologetics.

  36. Pierce R. Butler says

    John Morales & Holms @ #s 37 & 38 – But at least I gave y’all an opportunity to evade the original point.

    You’re welcome!

  37. John Morales says

    Pierce, I refer you to my #23.

    (Your original point was not evaded, it was put into perspective)

    I do give you credit for acknowledging GMO technology is neutral, but.

    And yes, how it’s been monetised is another matter entirely.

  38. Holms says

    #39
    But Pierce, you are the one that changed topic from glyphosate when challenged.

  39. Dunc says

    On the one hand, Roundup / glyphosate may have some issues. There is conflicting data, but I’m happy to concede that it’s probably not perfect.

    On the other hand, soil erosion from tillage is very definitely a massive problem that will render agriculture completely impossible across some of the currently most productive areas within the next 50 – 100 years at current rates. These sorts of reduced tillage techniques are the best (indeed, only) answers to that problem that we’ve managed to come up with so far.

    Agriculture is a complicated business, with lots of competing imperatives, and lots of awkward trade-offs. The ugly fact is that we currently have no idea what a truly sustainable form of agriculture looks like, and we’re rapidly running out of time to figure it out. Borlaug bought us some time, but we have so far not used it to really solve any of the underlying issues.

  40. Pierce R. Butler says

    John Morales @ # 40: … my #23. (Your original point was not evaded, it was put into perspective)

    Content warning: bad Latin ahead: If your idea of “perspective” is a distractio ad absurdum, I doubt we will ever see the same picture.

    … how it’s been monetised is another matter entirely.

    Not on the basic political level of support/oppose.

    Holms @ # 41: … you are the one that changed topic from glyphosate …

    Pls re-read # 35. I (a) shot down your feeble ad hom, (b) linked to further data concerning the human toxicity issue, and (c) brought attention to an ecological toxicity issue (that I hadn’t even known about before launching into this debate, so thanks for that). I did not leave the topic of Roundup at all.

    Dunc @ # 42: I generally agree with your entire comment, especially as regards the complexity of agriculture. In terms of long-term solutions, I’d like to direct your attention to the possibility of perennial grains, though even the small and underfunded group working to develop those optimistically claims they’re still ten years away from “field-ready” crops.

  41. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#:39
    John Morales & Holms @ #s 37 & 38 – But at least I gave y’all an opportunity to evade the original point.

    The original point was made by me, namely that, as a farmer, no-till works for me and is energy and time efficient.

    You are the one that evaded that point, by making broad claim-sounding things about tumors, and then shifting the goalposts to try to turn my posting into a general commentary on whether glyphosate is or is not carcinogenic.

    I think you’ve made your point, taken your stand, and done a moderately poor job of defending it. I’d like to request that you stop now because you are becoming irritating and are just saying stuff that’s been said before many times and better (though no more accurately or truthfully) elsewhere.

    Since this topic is so interesting, I’ll do some more postings around the issue, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to say the same things as have been said before, again. Hopefully when I start discussing rhetorical kung fu, you’ll participate in the role of straw man.

  42. Holms says

    #43
    In post 39, you accused others of evading your initial point, and I replied that you are the one that shifted the topic. In post 43, in an attempt to refute my counterpoint, your (b) and (c) are exactly as I described: examples of you, not me, moving the topic. You euphamise by saying that you “did not leave the topic of Roundup at all,” but that elides the fact that your initial point was to explicitly link Roundup/glyphosate to tumours. This is not a good refutation!

    Oh and (a) demonstrates that you do not know what an ad hominem fallacy is.

    Fuck it. You’re taking your arguments from the anti-science playbook, and as this is an old topic anyway, I’m done here. See you next time.

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