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Science Journal Spreads False Rumors About Vegan Diet

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Laurie Endicott Thomas       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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An article published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) claims that it would be a disaster for public health if the population of the United States suddenly went vegan. Yet the authors are not experts on human nutrition or public health. Instead, they are experts on how to feed chickens and cattle. Their conclusions were not based on any studies of the health of vegan human beings. The study's authors even freely admit that plant-based diets have several important advantages for human beings:

  • Shifting to a plant-based diet would increase the amount of food available for human beings.
  • A plant-based diet requires people to eat a greater volume of food, to maintain the same weight. [As I have explained in two of my books (www.gorillaprotein.com www.thindiabetes.com), this is why a vegan diet is the key to solving our epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes.]
  • The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee concluded that plant-based diets would improve health and improve long-term sustainability of the US food supply.

Nevertheless, the authors of the PNAS article claimed that a plant-based diet would be deficient in several important nutrients. Yet they did not back up this claim with any studies that showed that vegans are really likely to have health problems as a result of nutrient deficiencies. The authors wrote, "However, without animal-derived foods, domestic supplies of Ca [calcium]; arachidonic, eicosapentaenoic, and docosahexaenoic fatty acids; and vitamins A and B12 were insufficient to meet the requirements of the US population." That claim is absolutely ridiculous, for the following reasons:

  • Although you do need to get some calcium from your diet, it is practically impossible to find actual cases of people who did not get enough calcium from their food. Problems with calcium balance in the body usually result from lack of vitamin D or from long-term consumption of high-protein, high-calcium diets.
  • The article also warns about dietary deficiency of vitamin D. Yet vitamin D is not a true vitamin. It is a hormone that your body can make for itself, for free, if you expose your skin to sunshine. You don't need to get "the sunshine vitamin" from your food.
  • The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences does not consider arachidonic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, or docosahexaenoic acid to be essential in human nutrition. In other words, human beings do not need to get them from their food. The only essential fatty acids are an omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid and an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. Linoleic acid is plentiful in grains, nuts, and seeds. Alpha-linoleic acid comes from the chloroplasts in green plants and is plentiful in fresh vegetables. The requirement for both of these essential fatty acids is so small that it was not even discovered until hospitalized patients were being fed nothing but fat-free intravenous solutions for a long time.
  • Human beings can easily meet their requirements for vitamin A by eating beta-carotene, which is plentiful in dark green, orange, or yellow vegetables.
  • Vitamin B12 is the only true vitamin that is likely to be deficient in plant-based diets. Vitamin B12 is made by bacteria, not by animals, and can be obtained from a cheap supplement.
The PNAS article warns us that a shift to a vegan diet would cause big changes to the economy. In particular, it would be disastrous for the livestock industry. (Note that the authors of the PNAS article are academics who have devoted their careers to serving the livestock industry, not to studying human health. This explains why they know so little about human nutrition and nutritional epidemiology.) A switch to a vegan diet would also be a disaster for the pharmaceutical industry. Many people who shift to a low-fat, plant-based diet can stop taking most or all of their prescription medications. These changes would be good for public health, though bad for industry.

PNAS is a prestigious journal. Yet like other prestigious journals, it occasionally publishes bad articles. Likewise, I imagine that PNAS probably also rejects some good articles for bad reasons. I have worked for peer-reviewed journals, and I have also submitted articles to other peer-reviewed journals, so I have seen the problem from both sides, as I explain in this blog post. The mistake that the editors of PNAS made in this case was to fail to have this article reviewed by someone who is a genuine expert in human nutrition and nutritional epidemiology. As a result, they ended up spreading livestock industry propaganda.

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Laurie taught herself to read at age 4 by analyzing the spelling of the rhyming words in Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss. She has worked as an editor in medical and academic publishing for more than 25 years. She is the author of five books: (more...)
 

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11 people are discussing this page, with 39 comments


lila york

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There is more than the livestock industry at stake. Chronic diseases have skyrocketed to epidemic levels since the introduction of GMOs - notably corn (the diet of livestock), soy and canola - in 1996. Big Pharma has raked in hundreds of billions "treating" diabetes, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimers resulting from the intake of gmos and the glyphosate they are saturated with. Monsanto has been given ultimate power in government - to kill all of us. slowly, but killing us is what they do. A vegan diet will make all of his longer, healthier lives. And that is what they do not want.

Submitted on Saturday, Dec 30, 2017 at 8:06:34 PM

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Laurie Endicott Thomas

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Reply to lila york:   New Content

Heart disease and type 2 diabetes are not the result of eating GMOs and have nothing whatsoever to do with glyphosate. They are (and have always been) the result of eating a diet that is far too rich for the human body to tolerate. That's why they have traditionally been diseases of the rich. I explain this in two of my books: Where Do Gorillas Get Their Protein? (www.gorillaprotein.com) and Thin Diabetes, Fat Diabetes (www.thindiabetes.com)

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 1:35:35 PM

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Meryl Ann Butler

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Wow, that could have been said a little more cordially.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 2:29:53 PM

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lila york

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I really hope that you will watch all 16 hours of gmos revealed and offer your reaction to that evidence.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 6:07:38 PM

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Carol R Campbell

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I read this article: "Food Nutrients and Carbon Dioxide"

click here

It is extremely important information in any discussion of Nutrition, for both Humanity and other Species, coping with the threats of Climate Change - Especially the increasing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere. Even the Deniers agree that is happening, altho they claim it is beneficial because of its effects on plant growth.

These newer Scientific Studies specifically address the problem and/or possibility, of Nutrient Decline in plants because of the increasing levels of CO2.

The Studies, though few in number so far, show a sharp decline in nutrient values in several grains - especially rice, which are the base of most Vegan Diets. The drop was detected by comparing nutrient values in Rice from the pre &/or early Industrial Era, compared to the same variety, grown today. The historical preserved grains were collected and preserved by the Smithsonian Institute.

I am Omnivorous, but have altered my diet to include many more grains and veggies than in the past. These new Studies should not be ignored. Regardless of diets, we all depend on Vegetables for the foundation of our food chain.

If we cannot retain the nutritional values of the food we eat, we face diseases like Diabetes, or slow wasting diseases, from lacks in our diets. One study specifically compare Historical 'golden rod pollen, with the common golden rod pollen available today.

Many Bees depend on that pollen to over-winter. That raises the question of whether poor nutrition is part of the explanation for the decline of the Bee Population which many plants depend on for fertilization...

Read the Article, and keep an eye out for future Scientific Studies - Assuming the Feds continue to provide funds for investigations they disagree with...

Submitted on Saturday, Dec 30, 2017 at 8:37:40 PM

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Kristine Hoggatt

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"These newer Scientific Studies specifically address the problem and/or possibility, of Nutrient Decline in plants because of the increasing levels of CO2."

Another reason for nutrient decline in plants: soils are being stripped of nutrients by (1) the use of mono-culture farming and (2) reliance on pesticides and herbicides which destroy the soil microorganisms. For optimal soil health, crop rotation and less harmful methods of insect and weed control should be employed.

Two good books: The Omnivore's Dilemma (Michael Pollan; especially the section on Joel Salatin's farming operation) and Grain Brain (David Perlmutter). Also, Joel Salatin has a nice YouTube video on soil health: .youtube.com/watch?v=lXHrkPC5bok

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 5:22:05 PM

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Brenda Schouten-Beckett

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Thank you for this inspiring resource of information. Joel Salatin's "Scratching the Surface" about soil biology and humanely working with farm animals has opened up a world of possibilities to me. Though I live on the 12th floor of a high rise building in a suburb of Rotterdam, I have discovered that many of the principles about which he speaks can be adapted to humble plant boxes and modest kitchen composting habits.

Submitted on Monday, Jan 1, 2018 at 8:40:08 AM

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BFalcon

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Docosahexaenoic_acid :

" Vegetariandiets typically contain limited amounts of DHA, and vegan diets typically contain no DHA.[41] In preliminary research, algae-based supplementsincreased DHA levels.[42] While there is little evidence of adverse health or cognitive effects due to DHA deficiency in adult vegetarians or vegans, breast milklevels remain a concern for supplying adequate DHA to the developing fetus.[41] "

Submitted on Saturday, Dec 30, 2017 at 10:15:37 PM

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Daniel Geery

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Thumbs up for the link provided. My diet is along the lines of Carol's, above, but there are clearly a broad range of issues regarding these sacks of chemicals we call human beings, which we know so ultimately little about, or even what questions to ask. Even a single cell in the human body carries on more chemical reactions in a nanosecond than we can even define, let alone explain.

My Dad made it to 93, and on the week of his fatal stroke was out walking to beat his half mile time. He lived largely on white bread, much sugar in his daily cups of coffee, and loved Kentucky Fried Chicken (for a few of a long list of examples). Euell Gibbons, who advocated and wrote about eating wild foods and was an avid outdoorsman died at age 64. Jim Fixx, who wrote the best seller, The Complete Book of Running, died at 52.

I think this particular article gives a good overview (especially in the addendum) to the complexities surrounding the food we eat click here

The vastly larger problem of the human diet is our extreme overreach on the carrying capacity of the planet. Most scientists I've come across on this issue put the ideal number at 500 million, as opposed to the 7.5+ billion we have now. At the time of Christ, the population is put at 250 million, give or take 50 million.

I think it's time we seriously consider VHMENT click here

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 12:10:15 AM

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David William Pear

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"sacks of chemicals we call human beings, which we know so ultimately little about"

---I second that statement, thank you Dan.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 1:03:43 AM

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Brenda Schouten-Beckett

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Brother Daniel, I normally agree with everything you say but this link you provided to an article telling us that production of vegetables is often more taxing on "resources" than meat production totally ignores the suffering these animals undergo to provide the nicely packaged protein sources we see at the grocery store. I suggest the "resources" being defended here are largely the profits of the food production industry.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 9:15:33 AM

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Daniel Geery

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Brenda of course I believe what you're saying. It's just that I've seen so much on this my point was that it is no simple matter and as many complex issues tied into it. Perhaps one of the biggest ones being our cultural history of eating meat as a main part of our diet. I have no intention of proselytizing and sorry if it came across that way.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 5:39:39 PM

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Kristine Hoggatt

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Plus, these animals are fed the cheapest food available - namely corn and soy, when, at least for cows, they evolved to graze on grasses. This is one reason cows packed together on feedlots have been given routine doses of antibiotics, to keep them marginally healthy in spite of their poor diet and living conditions. This, in turn, is why antibiotic resistance has increased in the general meat-eating population.

As Michael Pollan mentions in The Omnivore's Dilemma, if you eat meat that has been fed corn, you are ultimately eating more corn when you eat the meat. Since the typical American diet is hugely corn based, consisting of all types of corn products, Americans are eating tons of corn each year. And all to the pleasure of the corn farmers whose crops are subsidized by the US government! You might want to check out the King Corn documentary (.youtube.com/watch?v=nvMxIEgbsIo)

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 5:42:18 PM

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Daniel Geery

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I watched King Corn some years ago and deemed it a wonderful expose (save for the shaky camera work--why no tripod?) We ARE people of corn, literally, not to mention that many commercial building products are corn based. Let us for the moment not open the Pandora's box of high fructose corn syrup, HFCS, found on almost every processed food label, and the attending obesity and diabetes outbreak since we started down this path.

I've read Michael Pollen (I think two books) and heard him talk here in Salt Lake. Fortunately (and through no fault of my own!), my wife is a gourmet cook and makes just about everything from scratch, we eat leftovers faithfully, waste little, and eat a wide variety of foods, and grow a modest amount.

I would also note that growing corn has massively eroded prime soil in the midwest (washing untold tons of chemicals downstream), and is rapidly depleting the ancient Ogalla Aquifer which is not refilling nearly fast enough.

I appreciate the points mentioned here, from you and others, especially including the author of the article.

P.S. Ya'll made me go back and reread my original comment. I still think there is some "food for thought" in there, but overall would say it has been properly corrected in this thread.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 7:03:02 PM

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Carol R Campbell

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Another reason to live in Hawaii!

Because of the cost to import feed for the cattle, our Cattle Ranchers [We have a couple of very large Ranches] only raise Grass Fed Beef. It's pricey, but no more so than the 'Prime' beef imported from the Mainland. I usually by it on sale, when I can. Can't remember the last time I ate anything else.

We also have a Community, portable slaughter facility, that is inspected and approved for Commercial use. That allows our really small Family Farmers to raise an extra animal or two and sell them to Local Restaurants and Grocery Stores.

Unless you shop at Safeway and Costco only, it is difficult to find enough locally produced food to keep any Foody happy - Whether they are Omnivorous, Vegetarian, or Vegan. The Health Food stores are so common I seem to trip over them,. Then there are Farmers Markets in every town and neighborhood on most weekends, as well as the famous Hilo Farmer's Marked every week-end and Wednesday.

Instead of Vegan, I'm more likely to become a Fruitarian,. My trees give me an unending supply of tropical fruits. I am thinking of putting in a 2nd Avocado this spring I have one that ripens in August, but there is an extremely nice variety that is just ripening now. I've been scouting the yard to see where I could plant another large tree that wouldn't be in the way...

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 7:33:19 PM

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Meryl Ann Butler

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Oh! I have been to the Farmers Market in Hilo! It's WONDERFUL!

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 8:14:37 PM

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Laurie Endicott Thomas

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Euel Gibbons had health problems because he was an alcoholic. Jim Fixx was a runner, but his serum cholesterol was sky-high because he felt that running several miles a day gave him the permission to eat as much fatty, cholesterol-rich food as he wanted. I remember reading his assertion to that effect in The Complete Book of Running while he was still alive. At the time, I thought he was being foolhardy. So I was saddened, but hardly surprised, when I heard that he had died of a heart attack while running.


The chemical reactions that go on in the human body are unbelievably complex. However, we actually have solid evidence about what kind of diet that is appropriate for human beings. Most of the important work was done in the first six decades of the 20th century. The research that has been done since then has not really changed the basic picture. Much of the work that has been done since the 1970s has been industry-sponsored studies that are intended to muddy the water. I explain this in two of my books: Where Do Gorillas Get Their Protein? (www.gorillaprotein.com) and Thin Diabetes, Fat Diabetes (www.thindiabetes.com).


I do not advocate "voluntary human extinction." I don't think that the world would be a better place if there were no human beings at all to enjoy it Yet as the late Isaac Asimov pointed out, if we simply educate and empower women, the overpopulation problem would solve itself. In countries where women have education and economic opportunities and control over their own bodies, the birth rate drops to below replacement level and population would decline naturally.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 1:31:46 PM

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Reply to Laurie Endicott Thomas:   New Content
Very good points, and I thank you for taking the time and trouble to present them. I actually am not a member of vehement per se, and many of the people there advocate smaller families. I do think that anyone considering bringing another human into the world today should give it some serious thought. I wrote an article somewhere here titled Why Have Kids? Kind of ironic because I really love working with kids and spent my career in elementary school. That's the long story short, but I again thank you for taking the time to edify me; it's clear that your work has been over time with much effort and dedication. I certainly applaud that!

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 5:47:43 PM

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Laurie Endicott Thomas

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The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences does NOT consider docosahexaenoic acid to be an essential nutrient for human beings. .nap.edu/read/10490/chapter/10


Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 1:11:39 PM

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BFalcon

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I just provided some food for thought for those who want to think for themselves and not agree with everything that suits them from 'authorities' , The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences included.

What they do or do not 'consider' may or may not be right.

Submitted on Monday, Jan 1, 2018 at 3:13:45 AM

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Meryl Ann Butler

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Reply to BFalcon:   New Content
This is wise, certainly "authorities" like this have been proven wrong before. As the bumper sticker says, "question authority."

Submitted on Monday, Jan 1, 2018 at 9:56:33 AM

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Carol R Campbell

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Reposting the link for the article I mentioned - and tried to link above...

click here

Submitted on Saturday, Dec 30, 2017 at 11:47:18 PM

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Carol R Campbell

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To the Editor,

Why is the Link inactive when I load and view of this article?

click here

Submitted on Saturday, Dec 30, 2017 at 11:52:17 PM

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Carol, thank you for this astounding and important information. I understood that using food suppements would be necessary in a vegan diet but this article made it very clear why.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 9:02:39 AM

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Meryl Ann Butler

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Reply to Carol R Campbell:   New Content
Carol, the link works for me.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 2:33:32 PM

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Brenda Schouten-Beckett

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To supplement the wisdom of this superb article I recommend "Eat to Live" by Joel Fuhrman as well as the documentary "What the Health"

I have been "closet vegan" for ten months now because of information obtained from these sources. For decades I have avoided this question because of the self satisfied and arrogant posturing of certain vegans and vegetarians with whom I have had contact.

Now I keep to myself and have made feeding myself into a hobby. I have no intention to try to change anyone's beliefs on the matter. I just stopped participating and cannot unsee what I have seen.

Another important source of wisdom about the role of our government in poisoning us for the food and drug industries is "Born With a Junk Food Deficiency" by Martha Rosenberg.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 8:47:35 AM

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Meryl Ann Butler

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Reply to Brenda Schouten-Beckett:   New Content

Yep, Brenda, the "What the Health" movie was one of the best I've seen. My review is here on OEN: What the Health? What You Don't Know About Big Pharma & the Standard American Diet Can Kill You

And I know what you mean about some of those vegans! (I am only about 95% vegan.) I live in Norfolk VA, home of PETA. Thank goodness they've become a little less of a terrorist organization lately, LOL!

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 2:38:58 PM

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Kristine Hoggatt

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Reply to Brenda Schouten-Beckett:   New Content

Thanks for the article and documentary references.

I have been a vegetarian for a bit over seven years, mainly because I do not want to be responsible for the cruel slaughter deaths of animals and birds. I have had mixed reaction from friends and family; my close friends accept my stance and actually apologize to me for ordering meat when we dine out together. Family and acquaintances consistently try to persuade me that my current excellent health will fail, and in their collective opinion, "God created animals for man to eat." (This may be partially why I am not inclined to participate in their religion, as well as their dietary habits.)

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 5:56:39 PM

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lila york

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Having watched all 16 hours of the documentary, GMOs Revealed, I think the decimation of the soil by gmos cannot be overstated. All nutrients in the soil of mass produced gmo crops are nonexistent. roundup kills the nutrients in the soil, leaving the vegetables and grains completely devoid of nutritional value. I am confident that this is intentional, and the goal is to kill off the global population wholesale. so no "voluntary birth control" Daniel. This is genocide.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 11:31:11 AM

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Laurie Endicott Thomas

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Reply to lila york:   New Content

No, glyphosate does not "kill the nutrients in soil." In fact, some of the microorganisms in soil can use glyphosate as food. click here


Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 1:16:11 PM

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Meryl Ann Butler

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Reply to Laurie Endicott Thomas:   New Content
Thanks for the article, I appreciate your information, and I hope you'll find a way to respond that is a little less condescending. When educating people, I find that they learn better if they are communicated with respectfully. And I think that is beneficial all around.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 2:41:40 PM

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Annie Irish

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Reply to Meryl Ann Butler:   New Content

I re-read the author's comments and did not find anything "condescending" or disrespectful. In fact, I think the author has an excellent way of communicating complex scientific ideas.

Submitted on Monday, Jan 1, 2018 at 5:08:01 PM

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Meryl Ann Butler

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Reply to Annie Irish:   New Content
Thanks for your comment, Annie. Others who did not comment here were of a different opinion. OpEdNews strives to create the most fertile environment for cordial interaction.

Submitted on Monday, Jan 1, 2018 at 7:49:25 PM

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Reply to Meryl Ann Butler:   New Content

You have got to be kidding. Laurie Endicott Thomas was not at all disrespectful. She merely disagreed with some of the comments to her article and offered links to the scientific evidence for why she disagreed with the comments. That is exactly how a scientist is supposed to respond to comments about her work. Note that Laurie cited the National Academy of Science's Food and Nutrition Board's comprehensive review of the scientific evidence about whether DHA is essential. One cannot trump that document with a Wikipedia entry, or with a bumper sticker that tells you to question authority.



Submitted on Monday, Jan 1, 2018 at 5:15:23 PM

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Meryl Ann Butler

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Reply to Geoff Thomas:   New Content

Thanks for your comment, Geoff. Others who did not comment here were of a different opinion. This was not about the accuracy of the citations, but about the manner in which the information was delivered. OpEdNews strives to create the most fertile environment for cordial interaction.

Submitted on Monday, Jan 1, 2018 at 7:50:57 PM

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Reply to Meryl Ann Butler:   New Content
In this interview, Laurie explains that American political discussions have become ugly and unproductive because people do not know how to discuss facts like adults. tu.be/O2q5SbK0dX0

Submitted on Monday, Jan 1, 2018 at 9:16:39 PM

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Carol R Campbell

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Reply to Meryl Ann Butler:   New Content

Fuel on the Fire! In my Hosannas to Hawaii and the Big Island in particular, did I mention the B.I has banned GMO crops and seeds excepy for one variety of Papaya developed by the U of H Hilo?

Unlike Kauai, which is ground zero for GMO experimentation and the use of Round-up, we have seed banks, and seed exchanges among the local growers.

I avoid both GMOs and Round-up applications when buying produce and meats. I am lucky the surrounding community does the same! My fruits don't even get regular fertilization, except for the composting. My rule of what to plant depends on "If it can't survive in Paradise, it can move somewhere else! That goes for the ornamentals like the Orchids too.

Life is too short for constructing Green Houses for plants that do well in the NW.

Submitted on Monday, Jan 1, 2018 at 8:13:44 PM

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Meryl Ann Butler

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Reply to Carol R Campbell:   New Content

"If it can't survive in Paradise, it can move somewhere else! "


LOL, good advice for anyone! ;-)

Submitted on Monday, Jan 1, 2018 at 9:12:55 PM

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lila york

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Reply to Laurie Endicott Thomas:   New Content
Your statement flies in the face of massive evidence to the contrary. This is not my field, but I do trust my research.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 31, 2017 at 6:11:12 PM

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