Genetic Roulette Failure

This storify is a bit -- how do I put it? -- self-indulgent. I just watched the Genetic Roulette documentary. These are the tweets with a bit more commentary.


  1. I felt that since I'd been claiming Genetic Roulette wasn't very good I should watch the entire thing. I had seen various excerpts and read some reviews so I don't think it was dishonest, exactly, to claim it wasn't very good. But I should watch the entire thing, right? So here we are.
  2. The above may seem an irrelevant point, but a big reason why this kind of misinformation spreads is that respectable public figures give it credence.
  3. For those who are unaware, chelation, while an actual normal chemical process, is claimed as an (entirely unproven) therapy given for autism. There's no reason to think he would be an expert on health effects of transgenic-origin foods.
  4. A big controversy right now is that Wal-Mart decided to sell sweet corn grown from plants with the Bt trait unlabeled this harvest. As far as I know only a few involved in the seed industry would have eaten it before this fall. The other alternative is that this mom was feeding her son field corn which is mostly grown for animal feed, by products and sometimes (but not much IIRC) for flour. But you certainly don't feed it to humans raw.
  5. The film was overall very manipulative in its imagery and choice of speakers. Moms are a very special case: it's hard to argue with a concerned parent. But their concern isn't evidence. Other manipulative techniques used in the film were gross animations like a rat head growing out of another rats rump. Graphs showing ostensible increases in various diseases were also given. Graphs are very convincing but the evidence underlying them are basically non-existent.
  6. The film's main "authoritative" voices -- Smith and the narrator -- very carefully never claimed that GMOs definitely cause the problems given. It's only a suggestion. Meanwhile, a parade of non-expert farmers, parents and scientists from unrelated films made the direct claims for them.
  7. Immediate reaction to this kind of "can't say for sure!" tone:
  8. Repeatedly in the film an explanation for how a pesticide or agricultural thing works was given. But they were reductive and misleading cartoons of how they really work.
  9. A major problem with the current demonization of glyphosate is everyone pretends that if we just get rid of Roundup Ready (glyphosate) crops, then that will reduce herbicide use. Of course it won't though -- farmers will use more specific herbicides that tolerate one or two weeds and apply it more often.
  10. Unpublished data might be useful. It might even be right. But any scientist with actual evidence of significant harms from glyphosate as it is generally used that is a cut-and-dry as claimed would probably get it published. There really isn't a conspiracy of scientists to shut down dissent.
  11. More on Huber's mystery organism at