My Generation
The Friday Five: Confusion Clarification Edition

The Friday Five: Confusion Clarification Edition

Roundup and cancer, defiant Dr. Oz, who really owns your tractor, GMOs and long cons and more: five links on what everyone else is saying about food and farming.

So Roundup 'probably' causes cancer. This means what, exactly? This may be the best thing you read this week, both because it's from Grist and because it encourages perspective and mitigated risk: "Just about everything in life has risks; the trick is to weigh those risks thoughtfully against benefits." And I really like that someone outside of agriculture has made note of agriculture's use of chemicals to reduce tillage and prevent erosion and soil loss.

We can't let John Deere destroy the very idea of ownership: Please read this piece from Wired. I'm dying to know what you think.

Dr. Oz stands up for First Amendment Right to promote false health claims: You've likely heard the news that 10 doctors wrote to Columbia University asking that Dr. Mehmet Oz be removed from his position at the university, based on his reckless and ongoing televised medical recommendations. From the New Yorker: 'When Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, during a Senate hearing on weight-loss pills, asked him about these issues, Oz responded by saying, “I recognize that oftentimes they don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact.” But he continues to act as if he doesn’t care.'

Dr. Oz has since taken to the airwaves to insist that he presents both sides of many issues and that he's never taken a position on GMOs. Prominent and well-respected food scientists have denied invitations to appear on his show, believing they wouldn't receive a fair shake, which may well have been a wise move. Oz's wife's ties to the GM-labeling movement in California have been well documented.  

Is the GMO labeling movement just a long con to get you to buy organic? So here's a great piece from Grist, written by science champion Kavin Senapathy. Among my favorite explanations: "The term “GMO” refers to how a food ingredient was bred, not its content. Knowing whether or not a food is GMO is akin to knowing whether or not a person was conceived via in-vitro fertilization. Indeed, genetic modification is not an ingredient, it’s a breeding technique, and there’s no reason for consumers to know if their food was made using this method." Yes, ma'am. And her conclusion? "It’s clear to me that the GMO labeling movement is a ploy to grow the organic industry and eliminate genetically engineered foods. When an ideology is shrouded in a cloak of righteousness, it’s up to the people to be informed. And you should know that genetically engineered food is not something to fear or denigrate."

Glorious Sizzler commercial: This one from the Washington Post is kind of fun and silly at the same time. Remember Sizzler restaurants? Like the Sirloin Stockades and the Ponderosas of my childhood, these were a favorite of my parents' generation. And this ad from Sizzler takes you right back to those fuzzy-haired '90s days…and it says a lot about how America's relationship with food has changed. Back then, Sizzler bet on choice and huge buffets. The article shares more but as it turns out, Americans didn't want endless choices so much as customized food.

The video embedded below is from Andrew Maynard, the University of Michigan professor behind the YouTube series RiskBites. He put it together on request from Grist. 

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