Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Lifestyle

Luxury home fragrances, beauty products, gourmet food

You cannot live without chemicals. Lecture at the ANU

By Barcham - 12 September 2013 55

One of my favourite pieces of stupidity is people who try and live “chemical free”.

It’s by far the most wonderfully ridiculous of all the ‘new age’ nonsense that people like to sprout.

Short of ejecting their consciousness from their bodies and floating around some astral plane, I really don’t see it happening.

Peter Wothers is presenting a lecture at the ANU on chemistry and the role chemicals play in our lives and the in universe around us in the hopes of changing the minds of a few of these chemophobic nutters.

“Every time you make a cup of tea or coffee you are doing chemistry,” he says. “You are extracting certain materials you do want from those you don’t want – you don’t want to crunch your way through coffee grinds to get the delicious coffee taste.”

“It’s a similar thing with chemistry. Over time we have found there are certain medicines that work really well but wouldn’t it be better to have just the part that is effective?”

Wothers says chemistry is about finding these effective components, and separating them from the extra bits and pieces.

“For instance if there is a drug in a sea sponge, do we need to eat the whole sea sponge? Or should we try and make the active component? That is one of the roles of the chemist, trying to make these reactive components rather than slaughtering all these rare sea sponges.”

Wothers has been visiting ANU for many years, sharing his enthusiasm for chemistry through his entertaining and often explosive shows.

“The current show is based around the idea that people think chemicals are bad. They don’t realise that everything around them is made up of chemicals – their food, themselves. All the chemicals we use in the lecture we show how they are made or can be obtained through nature.”

God speed Dr Wothers!

Free Range Chemistry will be presented on Friday 13 September at 7pm and Saturday 14 September at 2pm in Chemistry T1 Lecture Theatre at ANU. Both shows are free and open to the public. Seating is limited; arrive early to avoid disappointment

What’s Your opinion?


Please login to post your comments, or connect with
55 Responses to
You cannot live without chemicals. Lecture at the ANU
Filter
Showing only Website comments
Order
Newest to Oldest
Oldest to Newst
Diggety 2:50 pm 23 Sep 13

Took the words right out of my mouth: http://theconversation.com/for-gm-food-and-vaccinations-the-panic-virus-is-a-deadly-disease-18460

(Don’t know about the direct anti-vaccination comparison though).

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 7:36 am 22 Sep 13

IrishPete said :

Diggety said :

Is there a serious part of your f**king brain missing IP? Do your goddam homework.

Greenpeace has opposed all scientific research into GM. They don’t want people to understand, they are ideologically opposed.

And don’t give me the ‘it’s a corporate/ownership’ issue bullshit. If that was the case, Greenpeace wouldn’t have lied to the public about who exactly destroyed the most recent GM experimen in the Philippines (hint: it wasn’t farmers).

Ah, the person who descends to personal abuse first can generally be assumed to have lost the argument.

Thanks for the easy win.

IP

There was no insult. He asked you a question and you dodged the entire because of it.

milkman 8:55 pm 21 Sep 13

Greenpeace are a bunch of criminal scum and should not be supported under any circumstances.

IrishPete 2:25 pm 21 Sep 13

Diggety said :

Is there a serious part of your f**king brain missing IP? Do your goddam homework.

Greenpeace has opposed all scientific research into GM. They don’t want people to understand, they are ideologically opposed.

And don’t give me the ‘it’s a corporate/ownership’ issue bullshit. If that was the case, Greenpeace wouldn’t have lied to the public about who exactly destroyed the most recent GM experimen in the Philippines (hint: it wasn’t farmers).

Ah, the person who descends to personal abuse first can generally be assumed to have lost the argument.

Thanks for the easy win.

IP

Diggety 1:03 pm 21 Sep 13

IrishPete said :

Diggety said :

Which is why we try understand things rather than fear them IP.

Greenpeace would have you doing the opposite, which is why they oppose research into GM.

No-one opposes research into GM – many people oppose premature uncontrolled release of GM organisms into the world, and the market.

If there is opposition to GM research, it is on purely rational grounds. If GM isn’t needed, then why bother? Put the effort, and the money, into alternative research strategies.

IP

Is there a serious part of your f**king brain missing IP? Do your goddam homework.

Greenpeace has opposed all scientific research into GM. They don’t want people to understand, they are ideologically opposed.

And don’t give me the ‘it’s a corporate/ownership’ issue bullshit. If that was the case, Greenpeace wouldn’t have lied to the public about who exactly destroyed the most recent GM experimen in the Philippines (hint: it wasn’t farmers).

IrishPete 6:55 am 21 Sep 13

Diggety said :

Which is why we try understand things rather than fear them IP.

Greenpeace would have you doing the opposite, which is why they oppose research into GM.

Fear is what you feel standing on a cliff edge. Caution is what keeps you away from cliff edges.

No-one opposes research into GM – many people oppose premature uncontrolled release of GM organisms into the world, and the market.

If there is opposition to GM research, it is on purely rational grounds. If GM isn’t needed, then why bother? Put the effort, and the money, into alternative research strategies.

IP

justin heywood 12:32 am 21 Sep 13

CraigT said :

justin heywood said :

I can see your articles and raise you 10 opposing articles if you like.

…but ….he doesn’t.

You believe what you believe on faith, because you are not being sceptical of the well-orchestrated propaganda being seeded in the pop media by the corporations that are making money from introducing GM crops into our food chain.

And when you *do* decide to go out there and try to find any research claiming to prove benefits in GM crops, have a bit of a read of Ben Goldacre’s thoughts on the limited and highly selective access we get to industry-funded research:
http://www.alltrials.net/

Meanwhile,
http://www etc etc

Well Craig, if you believe that one Journal article makes your case, then you don’t know much. I could find articles that contradict almost all the claims made in the article you seem to be reliant on, but I doubt it would convince those who just ‘know’ that all GM is bad.

Here’s a couple that contradict some of the above claims for start
http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.arplant.043008.09201
http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v28/n4/abs/nbt0410-319.htm
Sure, the authors may have an agenda, but doesn’t it occur to you that contributors to a journal called Agricultural Sustainability might have an agenda too?
I’ve said it many times before, one journal article does not conclude a scientific debate.

And I’m pleased that you mentioned the excellent Ben Goldacre. If you take the time to read what he has to say about GM, the general thrust is that the science is not conclusive on the pros versus cons for GM. He does, however, liken the anti-GM movement to the anti-vaccination crowd – scientifically dishonest and ideologically driven.

Diggety 7:13 pm 20 Sep 13

IrishPete said :

Diggety said :

http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2013/s3852802.htm

The relevant quote is here “But six weeks ago about 400 or so people trampled the crop so that neighbouring properties wouldn’t be contaminated.”

Genetically modifying rice so that people can continue to live solely on rice seems to me fraught with ethical problems. Diversification in the diet would be better. If there are or are going to be too many humans for the planet to support, then that is the problem. If GM increases food supply, or makes it more viable to live on less food or less variety, then it only postpones the inevitable need for population control.

I will be called a crank, but I fail to see how the safety of GM food can be demonstrated in a decade or two, when humans live a lot longer. How long was it before asbestos was found to be a problem, not least because of the long “incubation” period for the illnesses? And how much longer before the manufacturers would admit it?

IP

Which is why we try understand things rather than fear them IP.

Greenpeace would have you doing the opposite, which is why they oppose research into GM.

CraigT 6:50 pm 20 Sep 13

justin heywood said :

I can see your articles and raise you 10 opposing articles if you like.

…but ….he doesn’t.

You believe what you believe on faith, because you are not being sceptical of the well-orchestrated propaganda being seeded in the pop media by the corporations that are making money from introducing GM crops into our food chain.

And when you *do* decide to go out there and try to find any research claiming to prove benefits in GM crops, have a bit of a read of Ben Goldacre’s thoughts on the limited and highly selective access we get to industry-funded research:
http://www.alltrials.net/

Meanwhile,
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/14735903.2013.806408

The authors compare US & Canadian yields of the primary GE crops with yields in Western European countries that prohibit the use of GE seeds, and they come to the conclusion that any yield gains cannot be attributed to GE. Their analysis also concludes that, while GE may have led to decreased pesticide/herbicide usage, Western European nations decreased their usage even further despite not growing GE crops.

IrishPete 6:01 pm 20 Sep 13

Diggety said :

http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2013/s3852802.htm

The relevant quote is here “But six weeks ago about 400 or so people trampled the crop so that neighbouring properties wouldn’t be contaminated.”

Genetically modifying rice so that people can continue to live solely on rice seems to me fraught with ethical problems. Diversification in the diet would be better. If there are or are going to be too many humans for the planet to support, then that is the problem. If GM increases food supply, or makes it more viable to live on less food or less variety, then it only postpones the inevitable need for population control.

I will be called a crank, but I fail to see how the safety of GM food can be demonstrated in a decade or two, when humans live a lot longer. How long was it before asbestos was found to be a problem, not least because of the long “incubation” period for the illnesses? And how much longer before the manufacturers would admit it?

IP

justin heywood 4:21 pm 20 Sep 13

Robertson said :

You haven’t read the links provided. In those links, the negative consequences of the corporatisation of the food supply are exposed: lower yields are the result of GM that isn’t designed to maximise productivity, but is instead designed to promote the use of the company’s other products, eg, pesticide.
As to why farmers buy into this stuff, that isn’t an argument in favour of GM – after all, people also buy food from McDonalds. The evidence of actual low crop yields and the risks of catastrophic crop failures is discussed in the links provided – it is a reality.
GM is fairly synonymous with corporations such as Monsanto and Bayer because the majority of GM products are pesticide-resistant GM crops from those companies, not designed to improve our food supply in any way whatsoever.

A couple of negative articles pulled off the web does not prove your point Robertson. It is a complex issue. I can see your articles and raise you 10 opposing articles if you like.

My point is that there ARE benefits in using GM crops – which is why they are grown. To argue otherwise is illogical and demonstrates very narrow knowledge of the subject. Whether these benefits outweigh the risks is a separate issue.

I think that in some cases they do, perhaps not in others. But it is difficult to argue rationally with people who have an opinion based on an ‘all GM is bad’ ideology

Robertson 1:46 pm 20 Sep 13

justin heywood said :

Robertson said :

Is this the direction we want our agriculture to go?

(Notice Bayer’s “Magic Rice” is solely designed to drive sales of its pesticide products? Funny how the GM cheer squad rarely mention this kind of crap, eh?)

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/02/business/02rice.html?_r=0

A Bayer AG unit will pay $750 million to settle claims with about 11,000 United States farmers who said a strain of the company’s genetically modified rice tainted crops and ruined their export value.

Bayer and Louisiana State University had tested the rice, bred to be resistant to Bayer’s Liberty-brand herbicide, at a school-run facility in Crowley, La.

The genetically modified variety cross-bred with and “contaminated” more than 30 percent of United States ricelands, Don Downing, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said at the start of the first farmers’ trial in November 2009.

Exports fell as the European Union, Japan, Russia and other overseas buyers ceased or slowed their orders for testing of long-grain rice grown in the United States, the growers said.

Robertson, you just can’t keep writing any old rubbish and expect to be taken seriously.

Your earlier post claiming GM crops are lower yielding demonstrates ignorance of the topic. If GM crops have no advantages for the farmer, why do you think they are planted?

Your claims in the above post about ‘contamination’ solely concern loss of market share and lawyers chasing compensation – nothing whatsoever to do with the merits or otherwise of GM crops.

It is a pity that in most people’s minds the term GM has come to be synonymous with American multinationals like Monsanto. As a result the debate on the issue rarely rises above bumper-sticker ideology.

You haven’t read the links provided. In those links, the negative consequences of the corporatisation of the food supply are exposed: lower yields are the result of GM that isn’t designed to maximise productivity, but is instead designed to promote the use of the company’s other products, eg, pesticide.
As to why farmers buy into this stuff, that isn’t an argument in favour of GM – after all, people also buy food from McDonalds. The evidence of actual low crop yields and the risks of catastrophic crop failures is discussed in the links provided – it is a reality.
GM is fairly synonymous with corporations such as Monsanto and Bayer because the majority of GM products are pesticide-resistant GM crops from those companies, not designed to improve our food supply in any way whatsoever.

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2018 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site