Category Archives: Extra Credit Assignment

Extra Credit #4- ‘Misleading Label’ – Reflection

During our October 21st Class, after Mr. SEVERSON gave his lecture on the Livestock Industry, he tasked the class with finding a, ‘misleading label’. He defined these labels as a marketing ploy used to trick consumers into paying more or simply buying a product for supposed added health benefits or desirable traits said product may have already possessed. Three examples he came across that we were not permitted to use were, ‘Gluten-free tomatoes’, ‘non-GMO salt’, and ‘organic? cat litter’…

Here are some products that I found in the health food section of the nearby PathMark (now ACME):


‘Gluten-Free’ & ‘non-GMO’ water

‘Blackwater’? – Horrible Brand name, but if this water only contains minerals- instead of what traditional blackwater has- there should be no organisms, modified or otherwise… & no gluten!

‘Non-fat’ Prunes

Prunes (& plums) don’t have fat…

‘Gluten-free’ Hazelnut Creamer

Nuts don’t have gluten…

Extra Credit #2- Mark LYNAS, 2013 – Reflection

During our October 7th Class on Agricultural Bio-tech, we were asked to post an Extra Credit assignment to the blog on Mark LYNAS and his apology at the January 3, 2013 Oxford Farming Conference for condemning GMO’s.  We were asked to reflect upon his amendment of earlier statements condemning the technology after reviewing and valuing the scientific findings for the methods over his personal opinions.

A self-professed environmentalist, Mr. LYNAS originally condemned the use of the technology in 1995.  He reacted to the technology based on fears that were perpetuated by non-government organizations and special interest groups to ban the technology and it’s use across the globe.

He then found that his very anti-scientific message on GMOs clashed with his pro-climate change stance establish in 2008, where he became an expert on the topic by reviewing peer-reviewed research and gathering his own data and imagery.  He found he was being hypocritical however, as he lectured others on their dismissal of a phenomenon he knew to be true through extensive scientific investigation, he was also dismissing the science of GMOs in favor of propaganda and fearmongering.

He sat down to do some reading and found GMOs decreased the use of inputs like pesticides to farmers, saving them money, and that countries were clamoring for GMO seeds to increase their productivity and profits. He also found to his surprise that gene flow, or the mixing of genes between species, occurs as part of natural processes all the time.

By 2050, the global population is projected to reach 9.5 billion that’s to decreasing infant mortality and increasing infertility rates.  The amount of food produced today will need to increase over 100% to meet the growing demand for food, especially in developing countries. Growing environmental challenges include preserving biodiversity and growing more with less water, land and land conversion.  Population grown is not a new concern, but scientists like Norman BORLAUG decided that biotech should be used to feed the world, resulting in countries like India becoming food self-sufficient.  But when affluent countries starts speaking against biotech simply to further political views, the pursuit of knowledge becomes, ‘prohibitively expensive’ and people could needlessly die.

The acceptance of new technology and advancements in general serves as more of a barrier to global food security than the technology itself, according to LYNAS.  Affluent countries willing to pay a premium for ‘organic’ food and aesthetic farming practices of old may be prohibiting the advancement of biotech as well. Organic is not more nutritious or beneficial for the environment- it simply stays tech advancement in the 1950s. The use of chemicals also purportedly saves land that would have been used for farming. Mr. LYNAS suggests that land would go untouched and not structures of any sort might be placed on it, however.

Mr. LYNAS uses the example of ‘Golden Rice’ as a shameless example of an affluent country preferring their standard white rice over the healthier GMO variant designed to protect children from Vitamin-A deficiency in developing countries.

Mr. LYNAS ends his apology in a plea for those of all viewpoints to question their beliefs and see if they stand up to science.  He desires to quash the anti-GMO lobbyist in favor of biotech advancement that to his mind, has been delayed far too long.



Extra Credit #3- Center for Food Integrity ‘Gene Editing’ – Reflection

On October 9th, after a class discussing precision agriculture technology and data management, we were asked to do a reading from November 2018 on the Center for Food Integrity‘s ‘Gene Editing, Engage in the Conversation’ about speaking to opponents of gene-editing – namely the pre-2013 Mark LYNAS” of the world, anti-GMO supporter.

In the article, it is explained that gene-editing is the key to producing, ‘healthier, more affordable, and abundant food with less land and water-use’ and that consumers are, ‘inherently curious’ about the source of their food and how it’s produced.  It is the job of ‘Ag-vocates’ to explain biotech to those who are curious or misinformed.  It is helpful to provide tangible examples, and real-world visuals and anecdotes to aid in communication.

First, it is helpful to explain what gene-editing is, which is ,’the precise, intentional, and beneficial change of the genetic material of plants and animals used in food production for additional health, nutrition, and environmental benefits.’ Many consumers don’t believe plants even have DNA or contain genes.

When presenting knowledge about the gene-editing technique CRISPr to those consumers, finding experts whose knowledge is easily digestible is key.

Secondly, explain how gene-editing is beneficial to human health, i.e., use common ailments like cancers (leukemia, sickle cell, lung cancer) to frame gene-editing in a positive light.

Third, talk about how gene-editing has evolved with time. The process of cross-breeding plants with trial-and-error is a lengthy procedure that can take decades, while targeted editing is much quicker.

Fourth, find benefits that align with public desires.  Honing in on what consumers want, be it improved animal welfare or protecting the environment can be the key to swaying dissenters to the side of biotech.

Two analogies used to explain gene-editing are, ‘The Blueprint’ and, ‘the Encyclopedia’ to explain how making small aesthetic changes to a house does not make it structurally unsound or uninhabitable and can make it increasingly easy to find where the right resources are located, respectively.

Ultimately values, and not facts, are typically what sway both hearts and minds.

Finally, the article ends with a helpful glossary of terms and online resources, as well as the relatively recently established in 2016, ‘Coalition for Responsible Gene Editing in Agriculture‘. The Coalition is a collection of various entities from different fields who have shared values about gene-editing.


Climate Change

Since I reached out to the Internet, the news about climate change I heard were increasing year by year. Everyone is talking about protecting the environment or saving our Earth Mother from something like greenhouse effect. I can feel the climate change in my own. Summer is getting warmer and warmer, and every winter isn’t that cold as last year. Then people won’t be willing to go outside. Therefore, they choose to stay in the room with air condition. And every shopping malls and restaurants have air condition, or they will lose clients. Air condition is a great invention. We can say that it saves our life from heat and cold. But people are getting addicted to it. Overuse of air condition make the possibility of enduring uncomfortable temperature less and less. When people don’t go outside, they can’t feel how bad the climate is now. It is hard to rise the awareness of protecting climate.

I am not an expert on this. But what I know is that if you can get to somewhere on foot don’t drive, and don’t run air condition lower or high temperature too much than outdoor temperature. These are just some small behaviors that we can do to protect climate.

GMO Scandal

Non-GMO food that false advertises. Have you ever heard of the store Whole Foods? Whole Foods are known for their false advertising on lots of their products. I didn’t choose a specific product to write about, I chose a whole store. Whole Foods have been caught in false advertising by saying “nothing is artificial ever.” When they say that people tend to believe it. Well it is false. They openly admitted to selling products with artificially modified ingredients. They sell unlabeled GMO products. They speak of no artificial products to trick their costumers into believing nothing has GMO’s, but they sell it, just unlabeled. Many people got upset about how they were being rigged. Many people began lawsuits against Whole Foods, in claiming they were selling unsafe products to their customers. Many people are suing Whole Foods in hopes they will get shut down. Over the years, their profits have dropped and they have been run out of business too.

Misleading Labels

Dan Severson wanted us to find a product that had misleading advertising on the package of a food product. I found Popcorners, which is a snack that I often enjoy but have found that it has some unnecessary labeling. It is advertised as non-GMO, gluten free, and nut free. While labeling of non-GMO and nut free provide information to the buyer, gluten free is not necessary. It is made of corn, which is naturally gluten free, so labeling it as such is just to get another “buzz word” on the package. If someone has a gluten allergy or sensitivity, you would think they would know that corn does not contain gluten.

Misleading Marketing in the Food Industry

Dan Severson gave us a quick homework assignment. We were told to provide pictures of misleading advertising of food products. These are a few examples I have found:

The Beyond Meat “Burgers” are a great example of misleading advertising. These patties are not burger patties, they are simply plant-based patties. To consider this a burger is incorrect, provided with the information that a burger is made with beef, not plant products.

Another important example that children and adults alike love is Welch’s fruit snacks. You can see that the entire box is covered with the phrases “real fruit” or “fruit is out 1st ingredient!” Fruit puree is the first ingredient, and there is fruit in these gummies. However, these are not healthy, they are actually quite comparable to candy. Over 40% of the contents in each bag are made with sugar and corn syrup. Which in large amounts is not healthy at all. The information is in a tiny format on the nutrition facts while the phrases about fruit are in larger format to reel in customers. Welch’s has deceptive advertising.

Lastly, there is the PowerBar. This brand is claiming it is packed with protein for “performance energy” but in reality, this product contains high amounts of sugar and fructose, which eaten continuously can produce visceral fat in the human body. This is definitely not something you’d want to be eating if that information was in bold on the front of the bar.

These examples provide proof that many companies will do almost anything, even if that means false or misleading advertising, to interest customers and basically fool them into wanting to purchase their product. This is a way that these brands make money, by hoodwinking the general population.



Extra Credit

Why do food products come mislabeled? For the longest time, I’ve wanted to know why a bag of popcorn said Gluten Free, when popcorn is simply made of corn and could not contain gluten. When I was in high school, I had a friend who couldn’t eat gluten. We were in the same advisory group and our group would get together once a week. We would always bring a snack, but because he was in our group, there would always be some sort of gluten free snack in the bunch. There was the occasional pretzel, which was always marked gluten free, but there was also the potato chips. They were also marketed as gluten free. I didn’t know why, because if you made them correctly, there should only be potatoes, salt, and some sort of oil in the chip. Maybe it was a sort of branding to get the gluten free people to buy it, but I always found it odd. I find that with many corn-based food products, they typically will say gluten free on the packaging. I don’t know if it’s unnecessary in this case, because if you are allergic, you’d want to know. I am allergic to certain food colors and I always like to know if it is dye free. So when something says dye free, I know I’m okay.

Non-GMO Labeling Extra Credit

Within the united states, GMOs, a genetically modified organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques for the benefit of the crops growth and the people, has become a controversial debate in the aspect of if a food should contain the GMO label which is beginning to effect the way food is being produced and purchased across the United States and the world. With the topic of GMOs, many consumers have developed little knowledge about the process in growing them and what they contain which has caused many to publish false information and consumers to become to believe that GMOs are bad. Essentially, with this developed belief, food companies have begun to take this as an advertising advantage and strategy to get consumers to purchase their product even though the product may not even contain genetics such as the product of Pink Himalayan Salt.

Pink Himalayan Salt, a product made of 98% of sodium chloride and contains other minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium that is mined from the rocks of the Punjab region of modern Pakistan, has no genes. However, because much of the public lacks education and knowledge of GMOs and the health of it, the public has come to believe that GMO free products are healthier, thus, causing many food companies to use this as an advantage to label products as GMO free so that the consumer will be more likely to purchase the product even though the salt contains no genes to be altered. Essentially, with labeling, a relationship of trust has been created between the producer and consumer because food labeling allows the consumer to know what’s in the product and purchase it based off of beliefs and individual desires which allows the consumer to know that the company is producing safe products based off of their beliefs; which can be an advantage to the food industry but it can also lead to focused markets and affect the products that are being labeled as GMO.

Mislabeled Orange Juice

Following Mr. Serverson’s instructions, I set off to find mislabeled items at my local grocery store. One product in particular that I found to be mislabeled was Sunny D Orange Juice. What makes this orange juice different from freshly squeezed orange juice is that it contains water, high fructose corn syrup, and it contained a mix of several different fruit juices. With that being said, it can be argued that Sunny D Orange Juice isn’t really “Orange Juice”, due to the simple fact of it not being made from real oranges. So whenever you decide to go grocery shopping, and are in the mood for some orange juice; take the time to look at the label. If it contains additives such as: potassium sulfate, corn sugar, or absorbic acid, stay clear of it and make sure you pick an orange juice that wasn’t made from concentrate. For example, Simoly Orange is a good choice because it’s 100% pure squeezed pasteurized orange juice.