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Sun Aug 17, 2014, 04:07 PM

"So, finally, after our Precautionary paper, a GMO lobbyist seems to be after us" - Taleb

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10152390685488375&id=13012333374

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
August 8 at 7:32pm

So, finally, after our Precautionary paper, a GMO (Monsanto) lobbyist (name: Val Giddings) seems to be after us, with naive demonization techniques, very elementary efforts at delegitimizing me in person. I thought we were doing something wrong before that. But the problem is that the fellow is not very skilled at it and can't seem to get more than 900 pple on twitter (a net of 300 followers after reciprocation).

I wonder if something has changed in the smear campaign business. Not that it has ever been a great idea. Ralph Nader a lone activist faced a smear campaign by GM (failed). Same with Edmond Safra with American Express paying journalists to smear him (failed too, but he got them to pay big bucks and benefited hugely from the affair).

Anyway, worth inspecting how these things work.

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UPDATE: So far reactions by lobbyists to our paper are not worth answering scientifically so far as they have been ALREADY addressed in text. The lobbyists just perform strawman deformations. Answering these other than telling them they are spinning means entering their game.

http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=51&page=G

4 replies, 2248 views

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Reply "So, finally, after our Precautionary paper, a GMO lobbyist seems to be after us" - Taleb (Original post)
bananas Aug 2014 OP
bananas Aug 2014 #1
bananas Aug 2014 #2
roscoeroscoe Aug 2014 #4
Overseas Aug 2014 #3

Response to bananas (Original post)

Sun Aug 17, 2014, 04:19 PM

1. Lobbywatch - Luther Val Giddings

http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=51&page=G

L Val Giddings

Dr Luther Val Giddings is the Vice President for Food & Agriculture of the Washington DC based Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) - the industry's major trade lobby which represents such corporate giants as Aventis, Bayer, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta. Giddings' specific responsibility at BIO is to promote GM crops.

<snip>

At the height of concern over the 'Terminator' seed-sterility technology, which it is feared could impact on the one and a half billion people who depend on farm-saved seed for food security, Giddings declared, 'The Terminator technology is not unethical. It is unethical to empower farmers with the ability to steal value added by companies.' Monsanto eventually pledged itself not to make use of the technology.

<snip>

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Sun Aug 17, 2014, 04:29 PM

2. The Precautionary Principle: Fragility and Black Swans from Policy Actions

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8nhAlfIk3QIbGFzOXF5UUN3N2c/edit

The Precautionary Principle: Fragility and Black Swans from Policy Actions

Nassim Nicholas Taleb⇤, Yaneer Bar-Yam†, Raphael Douady‡, Joseph Norman†, Rupert Read§

⇤School of Engineering, New York University
†New England Complex Systems Institute
‡ Institute of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, C.N.R.S., Paris
§School of Philosophy, University of East Anglia

Abstract

The precautionary principle (PP) states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing severe harm to the public domain (affecting general health or the environment globally), the action should not be taken in the absence of scientific near-certainty about its safety.

Under these conditions, the burden of proof about absence of harm falls on those proposing an action, not those opposing it.

PP is intended to deal with uncertainty and risk in cases where the absence of evidence and the incompleteness of scientific knowledge carries profound implications and in the presence of risks of "black swans", unforeseen and unforeseable events of extreme consequence.

Here we formalize PP, placing it within the statistical and probabilistic structure of “ruin” problems, in which a system is at risk of total failure, and in place of risk we use a formal "fragility" based approach.

In these problems, what appear to be small and reasonable risks accumulate inevitably to certain irreversible harm.

Traditional cost-benefit analyses, which seek to quantitatively weigh outcomes to determine the best policy option, do not apply, as outcomes may have infinite costs.

Even high-benefit, high-probability outcomes do not outweigh the existence of low probability, infinite cost options—i.e. ruin.

Uncertainties result in sensitivity analyses that are not mathematically well behaved.

The PP is increasingly relevant due to man-made dependencies that propagate impacts of policies across the globe.

In contrast, absent humanity the biosphere engages in natural experiments due to random variations with only local impacts.

Our analysis makes clear that the PP is essential for a limited set of contexts and can be used to justify a limited set of actions.

We discuss the implications for nuclear energy and GMOs.

GMOs represent a public risk of global harm, while harm from nuclear energy is comparatively limited and better characterized.

PP should be used to prescribe severe limits on GMOs.

July 24, 2014

<snip>

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Response to bananas (Reply #2)

Mon Aug 18, 2014, 12:43 PM

4. This is a great concept

It disturbs me to see commenters gloss over the inherent risk involved in GMOs in the same way climate change deniers stick their head in the sand. The stakes are too high! Check out this little situation:

http://www.cracked.com/article_18503_how-biotech-company-almost-killed-world-with-booze.html

That one is why these guys are in over their heads. What are they going to say, oops?

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Mon Aug 18, 2014, 09:29 AM

3. K&R.

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