Opinion—I’m going with Monsanto on this one, for the moment


Many decades ago I wanted to be a researcher for a forestry company like Weyerhauser. I wanted to find new ways to use what trees provided, to make new products that might help us save some of those beautiful forests. Kind of a conflict of interest, I guess, to work for a forestry company that specialized in clearcutting whole forests but looking for ways to cut (pun intended) the amount of clearcutting….

Texas A&M UniversityWhile working towards a degree in forest management at Texas A&M University, a degree which I never have used (it looks pretty hanging on the wall, though!), I did gain an appreciation for how research is done, and I’m a big proponent of peer-reviewed research published in respectable (i.e., well-established) journals.

Conflict of interest…. Peer-reviewed research….

That brings me to Monsanto and genetically modified organisms (GMO).

According to Wikipedia (and yes, I do like Wikipedia both because I am a volunteer editor there myself and because Wikipedia requires valid sources and citations rather than opinions):

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. GMOs are the source of genetically modified foods and are also widely used in scientific research and to produce goods other than food. The term GMO is very close to the technical legal term, ‘living modified organism,’ defined in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which regulates international trade in living GMOs (specifically, ‘any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology’).”

When I was working towards my Bachelor of Science, in 1975 the world population was a little over four billion. To put that into a time perspective:

AD 1 – 200 million
1000 – 265 million
1955 (when I was born) – 2.756 billion
1975 – 4.068 billion
2000 – 6.070 billion
2015 – 7.324 billion

Friday Flower Fiesta with Topaz GlowMy interest in biotechnology increased significantly in 1984 when Dr. Norman Borlaug (1914-2009), “Father of the Green Revolution,” agreed to teach and do his research at my alma mater, Texas A&M University. Dr. Borlaug had used biotechnology techniques to increase worldwide food production, particularly in Mexico, Pakistan, and India. For his contributions to increasing the world’s food supply, Dr. Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. He continued teaching and doing research at Texas A&M right up until his death in 2009 at the age of 95.

Friday Flower Fiesta 12-19-14 Russel Ray PhotosBorlaug’s work to increase crop yields was, in his view, a means to curb deforestation, a view with led to the “Borlaug Hypothesis,” that increasing the productivity of agriculture on the best farmland can help control deforestation by reducing the demand for new farmland.

From Wikipedia:

“Assuming that global food demand is on the rise, restricting crop usage to traditional low-yield methods would also require at least one of the following: the world population to decrease, either voluntarily or as a result of mass starvations; or the conversion of forest land into crop land. It is thus argued that high-yield techniques are ultimately saving ecosystems from destruction.”  (Angelsen, A., and D. Kaimowitz. 2001. “The Role of Agricultural Technologies in Tropical Deforestation.” Agricultural Technologies and Tropical Deforestation at the Wayback Machine (archived September 29, 2005). CABI Publishing, New York.

That’s all well and good, but Borlaug’s work has resulted in a big-time industry in genetically modified organisms, ultimately dumping much of the GMO criticism directly on Dr. Borlaug.

According to Wikipedia:

“Throughout his years of research, Borlaug’s programs often faced opposition by people who consider genetic crossbreeding to be unnatural or to have negative effects. Borlaug’s work has been criticized for bringing large-scale monoculture, input-intensive farming techniques to countries that had previously relied on subsistence farming. These farming techniques reap large profits for U.S. agribusiness and agrochemical corporations such as Monsanto Company and have been criticized for widening social inequality in the countries owing to uneven food distribution while forcing a capitalist agenda of U.S. corporations onto countries that had undergone land reform.

“Other concerns of his critics and critics of biotechnology in general include: that the construction of roads in populated third-world areas could lead to the destruction of wilderness; the crossing of genetic barriers; the inability of crops to fulfill all nutritional requirements; the decreased biodiversity from planting a small number of varieties; the environmental and economic effects of inorganic fertilizer and pesticides; the amount of herbicide sprayed on fields of herbicide-resistant crops.

“Borlaug dismissed most claims of critics, but did take certain concerns seriously. He stated that his work has been “a change in the right direction, but it has not transformed the world into a Utopia”. Of environmental lobbyists he stated, “Some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They’ve never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things”.

IMG_8360 faa stampSo we are back to Monsanto. I’m not naïve enough to think that Monsanto doesn’t want money, and they think they have found a way to make significant amounts of it. I’m also not naïve enough to think that companies (and extraordinarily rich people) are going to do the right thing just because. Life doesn’t work that way, which is why governments need to step in to control things.

Unfortunately, governments throughout history have been shown to be corrupt. In the United States today, courtesy of the United States Supreme Court in its Citizens United decision, corporations are people and are free to buy as many politicians and governments as they can afford.

Framed flower orbI’m all for Monsanto making money off of its GMOs, and I’m all for those GMOs being used to solve world food, health, and housing problems. In order for me to have confidence in their work and their research, though, I need to continue to see that work and research published in peer-reviewed publications.

The main reason is that many corporations sponsor academic research, so the academic researcher might have a desire to make the research conform to the needs or wants of the corporation. That’s where the peer review comes in. Well-respected, peer-reviewed publications send research out to other people for review, and the researcher doesn’t have a choice as to which people the publication sends the research to. Sure, the researcher can advocate for specific people, but the publication editors may or may not choose those people.

Photographic Art by Russel Ray PhotosWhen I worked at Texas A&M University from 1983-1987, I worked for the Department of Chemistry, the College of Science, the University Press, and the TAMU NMR Newsletter, all under the tutelage of Dr. Bernard Shapiro, a foremost researcher in the field of nuclear magnetic resonance. Dr. Shapiro often got requests from various publications throughout the world (Science, Magnetic Resonance in Chemistry, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Journal of Chemistry, Journal of Magnetic Resonance, et al.) to review research, and I had the pleasure of compiling his comments and sending them off to the publications.

In conclusion,

  • as long as human population growth increases out of control,
  • as long as men are not willing to put a condom on it,
  • as long as women are not willing to take a pill the day after,
  • as long as Republican politicians continue to try to control a woman’s right to choose,
  • as long as we have selfish people like the Duggars, and
  • as long as we have peer-reviewed research,

I’m going to go with Monsanto on this one so that at least no one has to starve to death.

I will continue to watch the situation, though, and continue to read peer-reviewed research in established publications rather than listen to sound bites or reading sound bite Internet memes.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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51 thoughts on “Opinion—I’m going with Monsanto on this one, for the moment

  1. colltales

    Dear Russel, I’m going to disagree with you on this one. Actually, for everything you’ve dutifully included in this post, one would almost conclude that you actually are on the fence when it comes to Monsanto. The problem with GMO is that it’s a technology still in its infancy and we don’t yet know the precise impact of these crops on the environment, native species, and humans. But I agree, the need to come up with ways to deal with world hunger makes much of such concerns beside the point. Also, we’re already consuming a lot of GMO food, so that also weakens the argument against it. But what’s often left out of the discussion, and perhaps that’s part of Monsanto’s diverting strategy, is what it is doing with the technology. Monsanto owns or has been acquiring exclusive rights to produce and distribute some of the most vital crops for human survival on this planet, and nowhere there’s sufficient regulation to prevent it from not just profiting from it, which would be logical as you’ve pointed out, but from preventing others, farmers, small communities, even other corporations, from producing these crops. That’s where the danger resides. Monsanto is too big a private corporation to be trusted with the role of major controller of a technology that stands to become the major source of food production in the next 30 years, according to estimates. And that’s because their ultimate interest is to profit from what they own, not to provide food for those who cannot afford it. Even before it became a major player in the industry, and as you’ve mentioned it, the way we produce food is wasteful and dangerous, relying way too much on monoculture, which is dictated by market trends, not human needs. At one point, yes, science will have to be employed to increase food production, because there seems to be no way of slowing down ove population. But we need to make sure that such research is in the hands of organizations that are accountable to people, and not solely in those whose ultimate goal is to increase their market share and monetary value. I think your post is instructive because it contributes to one of the most crucial discussions of our time. But it’s important to add as much nuance to it as necessary to accurately reflect the whole picture. And, of course, give credit to environmentalists, even the amateur kind, and community activists, even if they can represent only a local, a limited point of view, because if it’s left to the industry, they’ll be always vilified, left out of the debate, and ultimately demoralized for their passion and critical views. Thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. philosophermouseofthehedge

    Brave new world. Oddly the population hasn’t grown as direly predicted in the 60’s…but with the climate cycle, water and farmable land disappearing for a variety of reasons, we do need to look for alternative and improved food supplies, sources, and production. I also have a concern that heritage food sources and species that are tough and hardy (although not so pretty or easy to ship) are at risk. (and wind blowing GMO crop seeds is a big issue).
    Research must go on. People must become educated to pick through all the screams and yells on both sides.
    No excuse for people going hungry in the US (stop using food for fuel sources, please. Kids are hungry) And all producing nations should be able to feed people in countries that need assistance (and, like, if countries would stop killing people and destroying farms and villages it would make a difference…not a preferred way for population growth control.)
    Oh, seriously? As a reader of Mad Magazine, satire and an independent non-party-let’s-vote-for-the-best-candidate-for-the-job voter, the Republicans controlling women’s right to choose. Don’t believe that BS. You are smarter than that and can get the facts if you want rather than letting others tell you what they want you to hear. (How much are women in the White House and administration paid? Which party wouldn’t let a very pregnant legislator vote from home on a bill, yet Harry Reid gets to call it in?)
    Oh, sorry. Maybe in your state you are right. Each place is different.
    But we all have to eat – worldwide. It can be done (with caution and if differences can be put aside.)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. philosophermouseofthehedge

        Considering I don’t watch much TV (mostly recorded shows), that’s odd.
        Broad general sweeping statements about events/life in other places is always risky as you aren’t aware of all sides of the real story.
        The war is against equality for women – by men. Both of these parties are hypocritical – for a long time.
        You may or may nor have had applications torn up in front of your face during an interview for a job you were well qualified for and were told outright “We don’t hire women.” (He was from a well known company from the East Coast originally but had just relocated here from CA to start up this one) So stunned we sent in several other qualified female applicants – each had the same thing happen and was smurkingly told the same thing. Had any of us had as deep a pockets as that high profile company, we’d have called lawyers. My cousin is a civil rights attorney and handled discrimination cases at a a national level at the time. Women’s rights has been along struggle – (and the official Women’s rights groups MIA so many time as it would involve political figure they supported).
        Don’t talk on this issue – you have lived your discrimination, but not this one. Oh, they guy? He was gay, so he should have been open minded and willing to hire those who could do the job….we are all in this together with this equality thing, right?
        As far as all the noise about limiting abortions in TX…you know the distances we normally travel around here from place to place. Certain political people making so much noise about the distance a woman has to travel….seriously, we are not incapable hot house flowers here.
        100 miles was a daily commute for me while in sales around this city. Drive 100 miles for seafood dinner or hamburger? No problem. If in El Paso – it’s so much closer to drive to New Mexico for anything (have friends in Paso).
        I firmly believe any clinic doing abortions should meet medical clinic standards (Who could possibly say women are worth less and don’t need the usual standards?) And the docs/ there must have admitting privileges at the closest hospital (no distance or mileage limit – I’m fighting for that inclusion) because if something medically goes wrong – and it does -the attending doc needs to be riding with the ambulance talking to the hospital and be able to go straight into the ER without any delay. It is a matter of life and death. There are plenty donors and people who would work to get the clinics upgraded if they bothered to try – there has been time to do that rather than sitting around complaining. This is a matter of women’s health. (Docs in the family …and family on ranches way out west TX, too)
        Sorry if you dislike the differing view, but you don’t have standing in this issue. (I know you have your battles, but I will not speak about those, because I’m not in the middle of them and therefore cannot completely understand. But I can offer support from the sidelines)
        My working grandmother fought for women’s rights, my working mother fought, I have always been in male dominated fields and fought through stereotypes and limiting ideas. My daughter is in a male dominated field and still facing some of the same battles with men of both political ideology, in her industry. She’s a surgeon…and is tired of being confused for a nurse. Last year one man actually said “I didn’t know the allowed women in medical school.”
        Maybe all the Republicans there do wear horns, but if it’s like most groups there are good and bad ones.
        Change comes hard and takes time, but truth and work towards a goal will eventually prevail.
        And you are right, I am. like you, smarter than to watch much tv – or believe anyone/anything on it is anything but entertainment – certainly not a source of solid facts and truth

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          I don’t even have television, but I get all those Republican/Faux News b.s. talking points on the Internet, probably just like you.

          In the 24/7 Internet world, it’s not all that difficult to become aware of all sides of the real story. It is time-consuming, which is why so many people don’t do it, preferring the Internet memes to get them what they want.

          There are many Republican women who are against equality for their own gender. How do you explain that?

          The definition of politician is “one who lies.” So we the voting public have to determine whose lies are the best. I was in the Republican camp from 1976 to 2012. Now I am firmly in the Democratic camp.

          I have had applications torn up in front of my face during an interview for a job that I was well qualified for and told, “You’re too old” or “I didn’t realize you were so old. We hire younger people.” Ageism is alive and well in the American work force, so we all have our problems.

          I’m not sure why you’re bashing me on women’s rights. I didn’t mention anything in my post about women’s rights. I have been supporting women’s rights for 45 years now, much to the chagrin of my Texas uncles, and even some aunts, who believed that “women belonged barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.”

          I’m not sure why you’re bashing me on abortion either. Sounds like we’re on the same page actually.

          Yeah, there’s good and bad in all groups, but for some reason there are more bad than good in the current crop of Republicans.


          1. philosophermouseofthehedge

            Was totally unclear on your previous response. Sorry
            It’s career politicians. They are the real problem. Serving in Congress was supposed to be a elected honor for a brief period. Now it’s the way to become a millionaire – totally out of touch with real life and how the average person lives.
            I cannot explain why one group of women hold back another. The biggest problem is the stay at home moms hating the working moms who hate the stay at home….totally illogical. Nothing is getting accomplished if they can keep us at each others’ throats. Much has to do with jealousy, and being afraid, and those who have money see things differently who work and barely make it and those who don’t work and exist on the kindness of others and taxpayers. Each of those groups will see “women’s rights” differently.
            Both my husband and I have faced age discrimination. It is infuriating. 2 jobs ago I was laid off while they kept a marginally speaking foreign national who had one less degree – but she worked for half my salary (and I wasn’t getting rich on univ. research salary)
            Most recently my husband’s sister (divorced no other salary except the cattle she can raise) out in west TX was downsized..she had a good case but was too angry to pursue it – and fearful of being blackballed at other clinics. Discrimination still exists under the table and in shadows. She’s also A&M grad.)
            I guess I need to tune back in to annoying media to see who’s the loud mouth women in both parties currently (so I have no idea)- got disgusted with all of them not long ago.
            Like you prefer to actually read the research than have media interpret the “news” for me.
            People are such odd creatures. Far too many knee jerk emotional and poorly educated to bode well….so they better not kill off all the old people who actually know how many things work, and can keep them working one way or the other.
            We really need a third party, but little chance with the big 2 holding so much power.


            1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

              My Economics 301 professor at Texas A&M University was Professor Phil Gramm. You might recognize the name. He’s the one who taught me not only economics, but all about politics. Courtesy of him, I write my legislators—local, county, state, and federal—the first Saturday of each month telling them what’s on my mind. If I complain about something, I just remember what my wise old grandmother taught me: “If you’re going to complain, offer a solution.”

              Phil Gramm had a tenured position at A&M which, at that time, paid about $125,000 annually. He resigned that position to go into politics and was quite successful. You can read about him at Wikipedia if you’re interested. I’m not going to rehash his political career in my blog here since I despise the man.

              When he retired from politics in 2002, newspapers around the country (Houston Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman, Wall Street Journal, New York Times………..) reported that he had a campaign war chest with $64 million in it. He got to keep it all, not having to turn it over to the government or even to return donations to people like, uh, me! That was when I realized why the rich went into politics, to become ultra rich. He has a lifetime salary, lifetime benefits, lifetime health……….. If he had remained at Texas A&M, he might have made about $4 million and would not have a lifetime salary of lifetime health insurance.

              Darrell Issa, a current House member from a district that used to include me, is the same way. He’s rich. But by the time he finishes politics in his ultraconservative gerrymandered district, he’ll be ultra rich with lifetime salary and health benefits.

              I think a people’s revolution is coming. It might even be in my lifetime…….


              1. philosophermouseofthehedge

                Who would have ever thought we’d be saying that in your last 2 paragraphs – and be concerned about protecting freedom of speech and right to privacy? Things have really changed.
                I know who Gramm is – not a fan. (The PI’s I worked with made huge salaries – and got federal grants,although often they weren’t the ones with the knowledge and ability – only the name recognition…and once they were on the gravy train all the other riders would join hands and secure funding for all forever…worthy or not.)
                Luckily you missed most of the past 2 years of screeching in TX about women’s rights here during the last 2 years before the election. the national Democratic party was here in full force assuming all would vote for the woman. And it could have happened if the candidate had be a good one. We had Wendy Davis. What a disappointment. Turned out to be one of the biggest fibbers/re-writer of her own “history” of all time. (can you say opportunist and Sugar Baby?) She was no Ann Richards unfortunately. Davis and her shrill political machine did so much harm as did the stupid retorts by ignorants in the other party. Probably why any talk of women’s rights/dems saying they are the big supporters angers me. Political parties? Lesser of two evils, more like it.
                Was in DC/Arlington at the first 2 years of this President’s term of office. Talked with a lot of women in administration in various fed offices. lots of lawyers, too(is everyone a lawyer up there? You start to wonder at all the offices full of them) – they were so disappointed: same job title, yet lower pay…they were constantly given promises of more. As embarrassing as the hidden secret of all the rapes on DC subways – the media has been told not to cover them. It’s a big problem and a scary one. But on the bright side DC has never seen more road projects and park upgrades and public areas getting grants to be upgraded…I think I wrote about the dog park we used. Housing prices and rents for even the tiniest places were all sky high with all the new people coming in for jobs. And the school there are really seeing new kids…well, the private ones mostly – big influx. So all’s good in DC
                Meanwhile many like myself try to keep out of the political mud and quietly write/call/email legislators on issues.
                You are so right. It is not enough to complain or rant – you have to offer logical solutions that can work for everyone – middle of the road – where most of the people who just want to get along in life and be left along seem to settle.
                I wish the Federal Government offices and Congress would move to the geographic center of the country where it was easier for voters to walk into those offices and talk to those elected to represent you…(which is exactly why it will never move.) Too afraid to face people.
                Hang in there Russel. If the big one happens, just surf it all the way to Hawaii.


                1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

                  As I said in one of my comments, the definition of a politician is “one who lies.” I liked Wendy Davis a heck of a lot more than Greg Abbott. I’m so fortunate that I left Texas in April 1993…..


                1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

                  Facebook and AOL. Both sides are well represented, so when I find one that I like, either in complete agreement or disagreement, I like to dig deeper.

                  I started reading the foreign press when I did away with television in October 2013. It’s easy to see just how much damage Bush & Cheney did to our international reputation by reading the foreign press.


  3. Naomi Baltuck

    HI Russell,
    I agree that the population is way too high and there are too many people all over the world and in this country too who are trying to keep women from making choices about their own reproductive rights.
    But Monsanto doesn’t care about healthy populations or what it might be doing to the environment any more than the frackers care about what they are doing to the local town’s water table or the poison they are putting into the environment.
    There are better ways to contribute to our energy supplies and alternative sources that would do much less harm, but that’s how they make their money and they don’t give a frack about anything else.
    It’s no different with Monsanto. There have been tests showing that genetically modified crops corrupt neighboring crops and have negative longterm effects upon local flora and fauna, as well as the people who consume them. This is no reflection upon your professor, who was right when he said we need to figure out a way to curb population growth and do a better job feeding the ones who are here. But giving Monsanto a free hand is like putting the cat in charge of feeding the mice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Not “peer-reviewed” tests. Therein lies the difference. Monsanto has their side, and the opponents have their side. For now, I’m on the Monsanto side, albeit I never said to give them a “free hand.”


  4. Sue Dreamwalker

    Dear Russel… I respect your scientific stance with your views.. I however do not agree with GMO or the way Monsanto corporation treat people or Food.. Go and ask those in India where Monsanto have driven many farmers to suicide..

    As a gardener with allotments I grow organic food.. And Nature should be left to Nature not tampered with.. And nature herself will deal with the Human over population..

    And I respect your views… And offer my own.. Many thanks dear Russel… I was very interested in reading your thoughts on this one..
    Have a great rest of your day.. and week.. Blessings your way Sue


    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I’m familiar with globalresearch.ca, as well as Vandana. Unfortunately, she doesn’t cite sources, and neither does globalresearch. I don’t want a bunch of sound bites pulled together for either side. I want peer-reviewed research, and right now, I’m in the Monsanto camp.

      If we had left nature to nature, we would still be dying of polio and smallpox. We wouldn’t have organ transplants. Humans would still have an average life expectancy of 45 years instead of 75 years. Yeah, right, let’s let nature herself deal with overpopulation so that people starve to death, die of extraordinary sicknesses, and such. Nope. I’m not with you on that one.

      If mankind continues to overpopulate and destroy the Earth, than Mother and Father Nature are going to need some help, and mankind is the only one capable of providing it because god certainly doesn’t seem to give a damn.

      Thanks for commenting and adding to the discussion.


      1. Sue Dreamwalker

        I am sure Russel there are many who can validate their experience with Monsanto… This site happened to be just the first of many such stories I clicked via google to do a quick search.. I am pleased your Experience is a positive one 🙂 For there are Many more whose experience with Monsanto corporation who do not feel so lucky..

        And Mother Earth did just fine until Man put his Boot in.. And she will again after mankind has took his exit..

        And God! .. well The Divine Creator, Source, Whatever we give a name to the Ultimate Creative Force.. You are right doesn’t give a dam.. Because We adhere to Universal Laws .. Cause and Effect.. And we all of us are affecting the Whole of Vibration. We live in duality.. Up Down, Light Dark.. we can not have one without the other.. We cannot experience Good without the Bad..
        Man progresses within his creation.. And like the pharmaceutical industry both Kills and cures at the same time.. Man with his weapons.. and Drs with his cures..
        Our Foods are now so contaminated and so saturated with chemicals we are killing ourselves off with cancers.. If its not with pesticides its with additives and preservatives, Not to mention the pollutants that rain down every day, or the Fluoride in the water, Nuclear radiation pouring into the Ocean.. etc etc…
        We all have our choices… I prefer not to support Monsanto, and you choose too.. And that is fine Russel.. for if every body in the world thought the same.. Wouldn’t it be boring without a debate! 🙂


        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          As Mr. Spock said in Star Trek III: “The needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few.” I will happily die if my death means that others can survive. In fact, I’m involved in medical research right now dealing with high blood pressure. It’s subsidized by a couple of pharmaceutical companies exploring natural ways to lower blood pressure. Right now I’m on atenolol but an old wives’ tale regarding apple cider vinegar with “the mother” is proving quite interesting.

          Are there people with bad experiences with Monsanto? Sure! There are people with bad experiences with virtually anything in life. I had a bad experience with a cat when I was ten, a significant reason why I never had a cat until one adopted me in 2007. There are many people whose experiences with Monsanto DO feel lucky, mainly because they are still alive and not starving to death…………

          So when is mankind exiting from this Earth?

          “Our Foods are now so contaminated and so saturated with chemicals we are killing ourselves off with cancers.”—I’m not going to agree with you on that one since we don’t know what causes cancer. If we did, like with polio and smallpox, we’d have a cure.

          I like fluoride in my water, thank you.

          Additives and preservatives allow the food industry to feed more people, so I’m going to go with additives and preservatives.

          Sources for “nuclear radiation pouring into the ocean”?

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

              I can’t say that confirms that “nuclear radiation is pouring into the ocean.” Sound bites don’t serve the greater good.

              “The levels found were very low and not harmful to humans. But lead researcher Dr Ken Buesseler says it is important to continue tracking the radiation to ensure it does not reach dangerous levels.” Yes, yes it is.

              One probably is exposed to more radiation from mammograms, CT scans, x-rays, and that good old microwave oven, but since the average life expectancy has increased since those procedures and devices were created, I’m going to go with them. Besides, I like my bread warm, even when it’s a week old…….

              Liked by 1 person

            2. Russel Ray Photos Post author

              Our San Diego U-T newspaper had a report even earlier than the Daily Mail that you cited:


              Very last question to Dr. Buesseler: “Is it safe to swim in the Pacific?”
              Answer: “Yes I certainly do when I get a chance … [I]t’s a small number, more than 1000 times less than a single dental x-ray. It will not deter me from swimming in the Pacific.”

              Not really sure why so few of the comments to my post are about Monsanto and GMO……….

              Liked by 1 person

  5. hillbillyzen13

    I’m a small farmer, Russel, and will tell you straight up that you’re wrong on this one. I have a vested interest in keeping up with Monsanto’s abominable practices. I don’t want their genetically modified crap cross-pollinating with anything I grow, but I cannot stop them from planting right next to my fields. When the inevitable pollination occurs, they can sue me for saving the seeds from my own crops. On their website they’ll tell you they don’t do this, but they most certainly do. I urge you to do more research on this. I’m saddened and stunned that you have bought into their propaganda, so I will take a break from following your blog for awhile. Skritches behind the ears to Zoey the Cool Cat.


    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      If I were vindictive, I would “take a break from following your blog for awhile,” but that doesn’t serve any useful purpose.

      The main problem with your post is that you cite no resources while using such terminology as “abominable practices” and “genetically modified crap.” While I don’t have a dog in the fight, and it’s not my circus and not my monkeys (you don’t know how long I’ve been wanting to use those two clichés!), I will continue to follow the research, as well as the memes and anecdotal brouhaha, to see if I can find these abominable practices and genetically modified crap. Meanwhile, I’m still in the Monsanto camp, and comments like yours just want to make me stay there…………..


  6. Russel Ray Photos Post author

    Some interesting articles that hit various sites today:




    The comments make good reading, too!


  7. foresterartist

    Russel, I think you just poked a stick in a hornets nest! Great post by the way. In my forestry career I have been involved in a number of efficacy studies involving herbicides, even with Monsanto some products. I don’t think many people appreciate the complexity of the issues. You did a good job of laying them out. I really appreciate your central point about the importance of peer reviewed research. With so much agendized science being put out as fact the political machines are pushing legislation that is really about making money instead of making good decisions that are in peoples best interests. I believe those bad agendas cross party lines. One would think that following good science would cross party lines, but it’s about politics so you have to follow the money.

    I really enjoyed the discussions that came out of this post. You stirred up both sides of the political realm. Now I will throw in my 2 cents on the politics. I’m pretty conservative (actually very conservative) and your beliefs regarding how conservative regard women is way off the mark for most of us. In politics one group always tries to paint the opposition in a light that makes them easy to demonize. Nothing new here, it is how it has always been, but it doesn’t make it true. People from both sides are diverse and complex in there thinking. You are clearly a very thoughful man, and I suspect if we sat down to chat we would agree about more than disagree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      You are absolutely correct, so correct that for only the second time ever, I have, upon pondering a comment, decided to edit my post. Thus, I changed “Republicans” to “Republican politicians” with the disclaimer that it is Republicans that keep electing the Republican politicians. I’m don’t think I would be going out on a limb to say that probably not a single Democrat voted for Ted Cruz, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, et al.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          I was a registered Republican from 1976 when I first registered to vote until March 2013. Since April 1993, when I came out and decided to live as an openly gay man, more of my votes have been for Democrats than Republicans, and after the Presidential election in November 2012, I decided that my party affiliation should reflect my conscience and my heart.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. foresterartist

            I can understand that. I suspect in a few years there won’t be much difference between the parties regarding gay issues. if you asked me, the government should get out of the marriage business altogether. They should just issue domestic partnership certificates for everyone and let the individuals and there churches sort out marriage. If I had to pick the single most important issue to me it would be freedom. Whoever is going to support the people keeping as much freedom as possible, that’s who I support. Big government necessarily takes control of more and more of our lives. Perceived security from the government equals loss of our freedom. I’ll take the risks and freedom any day. I suppose that puts me in the libertarian camp, but they don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning anything.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

              If the government announced that it was getting out of the marriage business, I suspect there would be huge opposition from all the straight people losing over 1,000 state and federal benefits. That’s not going to sit well.

              I got “common lawed” in November 1995, “domestic partnered” in July 2003, and “married” in October 2008. I much prefer marriage. “Common lawed” and “domestic partnered” are such ugly terms.

              I like the freedom issue. Too bad President Bush did not when he actually signed the Patriot Act. Now I fear there’s no going back. On the other hand, though, I don’t have anything to hide, so if the government wants to listen in on my conversations and read my Facebook posts and blog posts, and if that eavesdropping keeps us safer to prevent more 9/11’s and Charlie Hebdo’s, I’m all for it. The needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few, notwithstanding the Koch Brothers and their politicians.


              1. foresterartist

                Benefits are part of the problem. Too much manipulation of society. They need to get out of our business. I understand you point on domestic partnered and I’m not suggesting no marriage, only the government to get out of it. I’m not anti rules or regulations, that is part of a civil society. However, idea of conforming to the cultural ideal of whoever happens to be in power is ridiculous. What ever happened to embracing diversity.
                The Patriot Act was a mistake. I think it was well intended considering the time, but it was absolutely going to be abused. Whether or not you have anything to hide isn’t the point. If they want to eavesdrop they need a warrant. They do need to provide for the common defense, because that should be their number one job, and maintaining our domestic freedom makes that more difficult. I get that, but that is a risk I’m willing to take. They need to get out of the way for us to be able to protect ourselves.
                As for the Koch Brothers….George Soros, need I say more. They are yin and yang in politics. Anytime an individual has that much power over our politics it’s a bad thing.


                1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

                  If the government got out of marriage, though, who is going to handle divorces, custody of the children, etc.? As long as there are contracts involved, money, property, and people involved, the government has to be involved in order to solve those issues. Religions sure won’t do it because they don’t have the people resources to do it. They certainly have the money, so they could hire the people, but that would take money out of the religious leaders’ pockets.

                  I suspect that if you had relatives or friends who died 9/11, you might think differently about the risk. I can’t at all agree with a desire to “protect ourselves.” All that does is take us back to the wild, wild west, and I’m not willing to go there. Clive Bundy? No, no, no, no, no, no, and no.

                  As far as comparing the Koch Brothers to George Soros, yes, you do need to say more…………. Not even close to being equals in money and power.

                  Liked by 1 person

                    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

                      How? We are a nation of laws, so if there are no marriage laws, how would the courts handle it? We’re right back to that non-religious marriage contract from the government.

                      I’m not sure what the problem is that you’re trying to find. My parents got married twice, once by the Justice of the Peace and once by a Catholic priest. They are different marriages, which is why they did that.

                      In the case of marriage equality, religions don’t have to marry same-gender couples. Never have had to. Nothing in any law anywhere says that they have to. However, the government has an obligation, indeed, a responsibility, to ensure that in the legal public realm, everyone is equal.


                    2. foresterartist

                      I never meant no laws regarding marriage. I was suggesting a name change to the certificate. This does show how out of touch I am on this issue. I really hadn’t thought about it for a long time. You made me think about it and I was reminded of when the whole contentious debate was going on. I always thought of this as a semantics debate on it’s face and thus changing the title of the State issued certificate would calm that argument, but address the issue of rights for all couples. I know what you’re thinking, naïve on my part, probably. I wasn’t that close to the issue. Plus you reminded me that in California it’s a mute point anyway. So with that I won’t disagree with you and say thanks for your insight.
                      I have to say Russel, it’s a pleasure kicking stuff around with you, it makes me think. How did we start with Monsanto and end up here?


                    3. Russel Ray Photos Post author

                      I understand that some people want to keep the word “marriage” for their own religions, or opposite-gender situations, but kind of like Mrs, Miss, and Ms, what’s the purpose of letting the world know that I’m in a same-gender marriage (“domestic partnership”) or an opposite gender marriage (“marriage”). Both are contracts between two people to share their lives together, which should be in the best interests of the government because if they take care of each other “till death do us part,” then the government won’t have to step in with various social network benefits. I would think that’s good!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    4. Russel Ray Photos Post author

                      I just had a 16-year-old atheist friend point out to me that if we leave marriage to religions, where do the irreligious get married? It would have to be via the government, which means the government would have to be involved in marriages to create the legal means by which the courts would know what to do. After all, we don’t want courts, judges, and justices creating law…………LOL


                    5. foresterartist

                      No worries, marriage as a ceremony doesn’t have to be religious. She could have the Justice of the peace or ships captain or Mickey Mouse perform the ceremony. I would never want to deny her or you of a marriage ceremony. That was never my point. All I was implying was the paperwork/legal documents have a different title. Then nobody has to fight over it and we all have the same rights. The courts do as they always have.
                      As for court making law. That’s a good discussion for another day.


                  1. foresterartist

                    Defense is critical and I’m not implying personal defense answers that need. However, any government agency with the power of homeland security needs oversight. That’s why the courts need to approve warrents. Coverert operations spying on enemy countries is a different matter.
                    As for Koch Bros and Soros, I’ll just agree to disagree.

                    Liked by 1 person

  8. Margarita

    Here’s the thing that worries me about Monsanto, or any other corporation, owning the “patent” on GMO seeds: They may, in time, own control of the world’s food supply and, given our recent legislative history, who’s to say that it may not become illegal to plant non-GMO seeds just so the corporate coffers may remain full? In which cases, human bellies could still be empty. Just sayin’ xoxoM

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      It’s a possibility. Corruption exists at the highest levels of mankind, including religion, corporations, and politicians. I don’t think I’ll be around by that time, so I’m going to worry about starvation now rather than what might happen 10, 20, 30 years in the future.


  9. Pingback: Chemicals. You can’t get away from them! | Russel Ray Photos

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