I’ve never rubbed elbows with a celebrity, but I had my first opportunity to do so this weekend and, let me just say, it didn’t feel so good.
On Sunday morning, Fran Drescher, mostly known for her role on The Nanny, tweeted about the latest claimed danger of biotechnology. Taking advantage of an opportunity to correct some misinformation, I reached out to her. Unfortunately, I was not aware that Fran was an adamant and outspoken critic of GMOs and doesn’t really care about whether she’s right or not!
@frandrescher Hi Fran! My family are farmers & I would love to discuss this topic further using accurate & reliable science!
— Farmers Daughter (@farmdaughterusa) July 19, 2015
After it was suggested Fran speak with some real farmers about this topic, she took the opportunity to attack them by accusing Ask the Farmers of being a front group for Monsanto. (For the record, Ask the Farmers is not a front group for Monsanto; our membership includes some organic and non-GMO farmers, too.)
@welovegv @va_shiva @AskTheFarmers tht group is a front 4 Monsanto! This guy is wrkin 4 th opposition. U wil somday lern th error of ur ways — Fran Drescher (@frandrescher) July 19, 2015
So, what was Fran driveling on about? Turns out her husband, V. A. Shiva Ayyadurai, had released a new “study” that supposedly demonstrates that GMO soybeans accumulate formaldehyde. Huh? Fran’s concern had lead her to use her celebrity to help spread awareness of this issue.
Kevin Folta, a professor and researcher at the University of Florida, has stepped up to the plate and written a quick piece summarily exposing this “study” for the garbage that it really is. As he lays out in his article, this “study” has some serious reliability problems. The “study” is not even an actual study though. Rather, the conclusion was based off of a computer system developed to run statistics of already existing data, including some other dubious studies. Folta explains:
How does systems biology work? It is a computational approach where a series of inputs, usually data from published work that are matched in silico to generate new hypotheses. It is a way to make predictions based on integrating existing data, and then statistically deriving a likelihood that the predictions may be correct. The predictions can then be tested and the systems approach validated.
The problem is bad data in, bad data out.
Normally, when a computer program like this generates a conclusion that doesn’t make any sense, the scientist would stop and go back to work making it accurate. Unfortunately, when anti-GMO activists are trying to get pre-determined conclusions, they don’t really care if the computer program is bad. Instead, they take the bad data and run with it. Folta also points out there are lots of other things wrong with this “study” and its conclusions (as if its basic premise isn’t flawed enough; right?). We should also note that Fran is an outspoken critic of biotechnology and her hubby started the International Center for Integrative Systems. This Center, much like other activist organizations, promotes bad science and misinformation. Its website is literally littered with anti-GMO propaganda.
Does anyone else think that makes hubby performing these “studies” a conflict of interest? Ironic that, according to activists, Monsanto cannot conduct reliable or accurate scientific studies, even when those studies are based on scientifically reliable procedures, because they will be biased. Yet, when an activist publishes a “study,” in a questionable journal with questionable techniques, and doubtful conclusions, that’s perfectly acceptable. In any case, we have yet another example of a celebrity taking advantage of their position and notoriety to spew bad information about GMOs.
In the end, Fran made her agenda known:
@MinnFarmer @welovegv @va_shiva @AskTheFarmers http://t.co/Kt40p7zCmq GMO farms should & wil be banned & converted 2 non-GMO. ITS R HEALTH!
— Fran Drescher (@frandrescher) July 19, 2015
Tyson Adams says
Her hubby is the guy that tried to take credit for inventing email.
Also, what is it with computer scientists (Seneff, VA Shiva) thinking they know biology?
Add Food Babe to the list of computer scientists.
russ hendryx says
According to a number of news reports, Jan. 2012, Fran Drescher believes she was abducted by aliens and some type of chip was implanted in her hand.
Don’t discount the alien tweet theory. That would explain her tweets.
Ryan Shaw says
Its actually in the back of the neck. Thats how they track you and repeat abduct you. The government knows and is hiding it. #thetruthisoutthere #fightthefuture #trustnoone
Mas pu tos says
So where is the proof that its good for us to eat gmos. I overstand that gmos make it better for growing but I don’t understand how its 100% a o k.
I think you’re looking for some evidence that GMOs are safe to eat? As I told Fran in my chat on Twitter with her, there is an entire database filled with studies demonstrating that genetically modified plants are just as safe as their non-GMO counterparts. If you really want to, you can dig through that and look at the data yourself here: http://genera.biofortified.org/
If not, I’ve also written about this a lot. You can throw “GMOs” into the search box at the top of my website to get a whole bunch of posts on this topic. Otherwise, here are a few of my favorites: Just Ignore Those 2,000 Studies Showing GMOs Are Safe, Introducing Innate – the GMO Potato, American Medical Association on GMOs, American Association for the Advancement of Science on GMOs, 1 Trillion Meals Later: The GMO Safety Debate Is Over, Scientists Defend GMO Crops as Safe
Hope that helps!
Tyson Adams says
I just wanted to add that 100% safe is impossible. We could GE a corn that is 99% safe, say make it drought resistant which makes the inner stem extra hard, but we can’t account for that 1% that will decide to use the brand new crop as a projectile weapon in the coming zombie-apocalypse.
And waiting for 100% safety is fallacious thinking anyway. We use all sorts of things that are really dangerous on a daily basis. E.g. alcohol, cars, food. The thing isn’t about making it 100% safe but about knowing the risks. Since we know a fair bit about the risks of GMOs, then we can conclude the safety is there.
Agreed. That’s why FDA says that approved genetically modified crops are “just as safe as” their non-GMO counterparts (which also could be used as a weapon during the zombie apocalypse!).
Mary Mangan (@mem_somerville) says
But wait–she can’t be name-calling and lying about strangers. Her twitter feed says:
“Join me and Deepak Chopra July 11 for the 2015 Global Meditation. #IAMCOMPASSION http://bit.ly/1m6Tbod”
Or maybe my grasp of compassion for farmers is different….?
Tyson Adams says
Compassion is when it supports their way of thinking. Hypocrisy is a term haters use.
Stupid bitch wants to starve the poor.