Ever since I wrote my post about The Truth Behind Toxic Wheat, I regularly get emails in my inbox of people wanting to engage me in “friendly discussion” and then proceed to tell me that I am the root of all evil simply because we use glyphosate on our farm. And it leaves me sort of scratching my head, huh… If you read that post, you should conclude that glyphosate is a fairly non-toxic herbicide. So why the continued spreading of fear surrounding it?
Well, apparently they aren’t the only ones continuing this fear surrounding glyphosate. There has been this new viral article making the rounds and quite frankly scaring the bejesus out of already tired and overly judged moms out there. It is entitled “Glyphosate Herbicide Will Cause Half of All Children to Have Autism by 2025“… Sounds scary, right?
Well it doesn’t have to be. While I could continue to speak out on the safety of glyphosate, I’ve already done that. Instead I want to talk about this continued choosing to believe bad science when it comes to our food.
This “research” was done by Dr. Stephanie Seneff who has a scientific rap sheet a mile long — just google “Seneff debunked” to check it out. Seneff is a senior research scientist at the computer science and artificial intelligence lab at MIT with degrees in biophysics and electrical engineering. Why an electrical engineer is researching pesticides is beyond me, but the scientific community agrees on one thing.
Seneff does zero original research. Instead, Seneff cherry picks any information that fits her hypothesis. While this “research” done by Seneff is certainly compelling, it is the opposite of how science is done.
We all know how easy it is to find information to support our hypothesis versus letting the data support or refute our hypothesis. Science isn’t believing that correlation equals causation. And if that were the case, the graph below would be indeed true.
If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know how passionate I am about our food system: finding out both how food is grown and where food comes from. I love to celebrate our beautiful and complex system that provides us with a wealth of food. And I understand that navigating that food system can be hard. But why in the world do we turn to computer scientists like the Food Babe or Stephanie Seneff to tell us how our food is made when we’ve got people like farmers or scientists who are living and researching these issues day in and day out?
My husband is third generation on our farm and we farm the land that his grandfather originally settled along with his father and brother. It is just the three of them along with their wives. We farm wheat, corn, soybeans, and sunflowers. These seeds we purchase from a variety of companies like Monsanto, Dow, and some regional seed companies. Some of the crops we grow are GMO (corn and soybeans) and some aren’t (sunflowers and wheat). We do indeed use crop protection products like herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. We sell our grain commercially, meaning we don’t grow anything we sell direct to consumers. That is what we do, in a nutshell.
But are we?
Yet here I am. Writing to you, writing for you. Spending hours of my free time (and some paid time at my day job) breaking down concepts in agriculture, answering emails, commenting on Facebook, engaging on Twitter, posting on Instagram. I don’t get paid to do these things, I do them because I love agriculture and I know how important EACH AND EVERY part of it is to our lives. From the organic farmers, to the local farmers, to the conventional farmers like us. I am being honest and upfront about what we do on our farm, I am not lying or trying to hide any part of it. And I don’t believe with any facet of my being that what we do on our farm is wrong or dangerous.
And while we are being honest and up front, let me tell you, it hurts to know that people call what we do evil.
So I say this next sentence with the most sincerity in my heart. If you choose to use bad science to support your claims or simply refuse to believe evidence-based science, you’re the one at a disadvantage. Making choices to provide your family with healthy meals does not have to be that hard or require going to advance lengths to acquire. We live in this day in age where modern convenience makes acquiring food the easiest it has ever been.
Want to know who had it hard? Our ancestors. I am thankful that I don’t have to spend my summers foraging, canning, pickling, and preserving foods like my husband’s ancestors did here in North Dakota simply so they could survive through the winter. Sure, I love to can and pickle. But I don’t require it to survive. Instead I can purchase strawberries from California in the middle of winter in North Dakota. And that my friends is a thing of beauty!
My point here is that, let’s spend our time supporting the beauty of choice that is provided to us in our food system rather than vilifying the very industry that makes those choices available to us. I know in my book it is never okay to promote that conventional methods of farming is going to cause someone’s child to develop autism.
There is bad science that is peddled by people like the Food Babe, Dr. Oz, and the lovely Miss Seneff and there is peer-reviewed, evidence-based science that is endorsed by the medical and scientific communities which continues to be put to the test and reviewed.
Which one will you choose?
For Resources on Glyphosate and Autism, check out these links
Cooper, J. (2014). Autism Not Increasing.
Cooper, J. (2014). Bogus Paper on Roundup Saturates the Internet.
Folta, K. (2013). Maybe GMO’s Aren’t the Problem.
Hall, E. (2013). Roundup, Gut Bacteria, and Bad Science Reporting.
Haspel, T. (2013). Condemning Monsanto with Bad Science is Dumb.
Katiraee, L. (2014). Is there evidence supporting a link between autism and Gmos?
Kloor, K. (2012). When Bad News Stories Help Bad Science Go Viral.
Kniss, A. (2014). Salt, Vinegar, and Glyphosate.
Novella, S. (2014). Autism Prevalence Unchanged in 20 Years.
Rohrich, J. (2014). What are Pesticides and Why Do We Use Them?
Rohrich, J. (2014). The Truth Behind Toxic Wheat.
Schultz, S. (2014). The Truth About Glyphosate and Wheat.
Skeptical Raptor. (2014). Agricultural pesticides cause autism? Don’t hold your breath.