Last week I saw a tweet about the horrors of school lunches on Food Chain podcast, a syndicated podcast from Michael Olson It can be accessed online. The episode was hosted by perennial wet blanket on science Zen Honeycutt, who represents Mothers Across America (which Olson slipped in and referred to as “Moms Against America”), a group of scientifically disabled moms looking to blame agriculture for their family’s health problems.
I got Honeycutt in the past on its website. It posted blatantly false statements that were completely manufactured (claiming for example that the corn tested had no carbon but was high in glyphosate, which does contain carbon). When I kindly asked questions I was banned from her website. Of course, her responses and the responses of her followers remain.
In this episode, Olson lets her talk about how school lunches are full of toxic herbicides and that these “cause” autism to develop cancer. She made the usual crazy assertions that we know don’t match the evidence.
I listened intently and prepared to rebut point after point. I posted it in the comments section of Olson’s website.
You can read my replies and guess the same old domains claiming Honeycutt. Seniff quotes, talking about plants being “dipped” in herbicide, and holding onto the half-baked ideas from Don Hooper as proof.
But when I hit submit it didn’t send to indicate the listener.
Instead I got a “waiting for moderation” message.
I gave it a week to the moderator to post it.
Looks like the moderator found a problem with science.
I will post it here. This is content that is deemed unacceptable for Olson’s Web site. If you are listening to the episode you can follow it.
Dr. Kevin Folta Says:
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I listen as I write. As a scientist and farmer I have been listening to this, and it bothers me that such misinformation is given such credibility. It is critical to get this right, and your program will have little to match the scientific consensus. Here are some thoughts while I listen.
- Crops are not “drenched” in weed killer. The active ingredient glyphosate is applied at 750ml/acre, about 2 cans of soda.
- Crops are not “saturated” with pesticides that harm people. It contains a gene that encodes a protein that is toxic to the larvae of certain insects, but not to humans, animals, and non-target insects.
- Glyphosate isn’t used in a lot of pills, sometimes it depends on the weather.
- If you look at the statements Zen Honeycutt has made over the years, you will find a record of error in just about everything.
- How does her son get intestinal bacteria in his urine?
- There is no evidence that glyphosate affects bacteria in the digestive tract, it is not present in high enough levels.
- The test depends on the combination used and standardization – in most universities it cannot be accurately detected.
- sugar? What is in the sucrose from GE sugar beets that makes it different from non-GMO sugar beets? It’s sucrose. That’s it. sucrose.
- Stephanie Seniff is not a reliable source. Even the anti-GMO movement says it exists.
- plant gives aids? Let’s go. Don Hooper wrote to Tom Vilsack in 2011 and claimed a secret organism found in GMO foods. It was a complete fabrication.
- Glyphosate is not a good chelator. Although this method has been patented, the patents are extensive. Compared to actual chelators like EDTA/EGTA, it’s not very good. In addition, it is present in parts per billion, while most of the metals to be extracted (divalent cations) are present at many times higher levels, so they cannot have much effect.
- Honeycutt spread and promoted misinformation prior to the “Stunning Corn Comparison” where the data was completely falsified. They were badly concocted and when I inquired they blocked me from the site.
- Glyphosate has never been proven to be a carcinogen. Data on liver damage and endocrine disruption are poor. Most of them show no effect. at current fine residue levels.
- Experiments reporting feminization or masculinization use high doses to see these subtle effects.
- Don Hooper – “It’s going to make DDT look like mouthwash” when? It has been used safely for 40 years, without any effect.
- Swanson article is a link. purely link. It also overlays organic food sales. There is no causal effect, and its claim is anecdotal. There is no clinical data to support such claims. If this were true, it would be everywhere. Autism is nothing new. If you can reverse it with organic food, or avoid glyphosate, that would be easy to prove clinically.
- Contained pesticides – how much? The potion makes the poison. They can detect a tiny amount which is much lower than drug levels but thousands and millions of times.
- Regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency are very strict barriers. They rely on independent data generated by the company. The IARC cited is only accepting published data, and they ignored the largest and best study showing no association with glyphosate and cancers. The other examples cited in IARC are not significant differences, they are trends at best. This is in the IARC study, and you can compare it to the original research.
- Heavy metals? No idea.
- Yes, we have traces of herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. These are in small levels. Glyphosate has been found in parts per trillion – a minute in 32,000 years, parts per billion, a second in 32 years. The rest of the stuff, who knows. I just don’t trust activists who have lied before. And there are not so many hormones in milk and meat. This is what animals produce naturally, perhaps a small chip in one ear on some cattle delivers much less hormone than a pill.
- I completely disagree with the gender identity claims. Not related to the diet. The natural difference in humans is due to how we developed the sexual organs and the brain. It is normal and acceptable. Klinefelter syndrome is a chromosomal segregation disorder, which is rare and is not caused by “endocrine disorders”
- Glyphosate is sprayed on the plants, not on the soil. Anything sprinkled on the soil is waste, and farmers don’t. It is a foliar herbicide that must be sprayed on the leaves. Growers sprinkle the leaves, slightly reaching the soil.
- If you do a military food test you will detect a few parts per billion of glyphosate. no doubt. It passes through the body and appears in the urine. The detected levels are safe.
The sad part of this is that Honeycutt and her organization have a sense of risk where there is none. This means that parents who think it will make their children not eat school lunches. In many cities, school lunches are the best meal they have for the day. Artificial danger, if not, prompts parents to keep their children away from school lunches. Then they get nothing, or some alternative that isn’t as good as school lunch. It is very frustrating to listen to a known source of misinformation and not interview the actual scientists or regulators. Then again, they don’t have sensational claims, so a non-disturbing message isn’t as compelling as, “The sky is falling, children are poisoned, and we are all doomed.” Thanks.
why does it matter? Many families rely on school lunches to provide nutrition for their children. As usual, Honeycutt and wealthy suburban California moms push their scientifically distorted agenda without thinking about the collateral damage being imposed on poor families.
When you tell a mother that school food is poison, she will not allow her child to eat it, and if she has no other choice, the child will go without it. The economically disabled will not eat “poison” and instead will rage against a system that would harm children.
Scary messages, bad science, scare tactics, and mainstream media conspired to advance Honeycutt’s horrific anti-agrarian agenda. Olson’s echo chamber is insulated from legitimate scientific criticism, and his listeners have just been treated to misinformation that will further influence their opinions.
Ten years ago, Honeycutt published misinformation and fake numbers. Today it is aimed at children, especially those who do not have parents bringing lunch at home, or who may need a subsidized meal. It is elitist, cruel and deceitful. Honeycutt must be immersed in shame, as well as Olson to enable and promote her crusade.
Kevin M. Folta is a professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at the University of Florida. Follow Professor Volta on Twitter @tweet Email your questions to [email protected]
A version of this article was originally published on Lighting 2.0 It is used here with permission.