03 January 2018

When a Press Release Becomes a Breathless Headline

There are a whole bunch of headlines screaming that anthropogenic climate change could eliminate chocolate from the world in just 40 years.

I get it:  Climate change has the prospect of causing major disruption in all sorts of agriculture, and coastal cities, and social unrest.

It's real, and the potential harm is high.

That being said, this story is all about someone trying to make their product the next big thing.

Just read this:
Beyond the glittery glass-and-sandstone walls of the University of California’s new biosciences building, rows of tiny green cacao seedlings in refrigerated greenhouses await judgment day.

Under the watchful eye of Myeong-Je Cho, the director of plant genomics at an institute that's working with food and candy company Mars, the plants will be transformed. If all goes well, these tiny seedlings will soon be capable of surviving — and thriving — in the dryer, warmer climate that is sending chills through the spines of farmers across the globe.

It's all thanks to a new technology called CRISPR, which allows for tiny, precise tweaks to DNA that were never possible before. These tweaks are already being used to make crops cheaper and more reliable. But their most important use may be in the developing world, where many of the plants that people rely on to avoid starvation are threatened by the impacts of climate change, including more pests and a lack of water.
What is the first thing that you think?

If it's panic over the potential of a world without chocolate, then you are the victim of what is called a "Hack Journalism".

Some steps:
  • Check Snopes.
  • Figure out whose pocket is lined.
In this case, Snopes has it pegged as a fraud, and it's clear who is making money from this:  Monsanto and its ilk.

Chocolate is not going away.

It might move a few miles further south, or a few hundred feet higher, but this is a press release for transgenic IP protected agricultural products.


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