The Physics Police

The Physics Police

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thomas Bøhn Biased

Thomas Bøhn is an anti-GMO activist. He's calls himself the "Senior Scientist", which is to say program coordinator, for a Norwegian non-commercial foundation called GenØk. They claim their vision is of the safer use of biotechnology. This reads to me as the disuse of biotechnology.

Bøhn is the lead author on a paper to be published in Food Chemistry which claims to reject the hypothesis that GM soybeans are "substantially equivalent" to non-GM soybeans. This conclusion is based on miniscule nutritional differences they consider statistically significant.

Their analysis is incorrect because it misuses a statistical test called one-way ANOVA. This test requires that the responses for a given group are independent and identically distributed normal random variables. In other words, this test requires the only difference between the GM and non-GM soybeans is their management practice. This assumption is incorrect.

Farmers do not randomly adopt one management practice over another! They do so with careful consideration. As a result, many important confounding variables are unaccounted for in the Bøhn paper, including soil quality, available water, local whether, and all other conditions a farmer might deem important to selecting a management practice.

The small variations in nutritive content between the samples is easily explained by variations in farm conditions, and cannot be attributed to any one management practice.

You can read about many other systemic and emblematic flaws in this paper in an extensive review by Amelia Jordan on Skepti-Forum.

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