Penn & Teller claims organic food is "bullshit", fails to mention that their expert is paid by Monsanto

Penn Jillette and Teller, from the Penn & Teller: Bullshit! TV show, calls in the latest episode organic food for "bullshit" (see video below). Penn and Teller's main point why organic food is "bullshit" is simply because it "might mean you're getting your food from giant corporations or China."

But what Penn and Teller fail to mention is that the so called â"Food Policy Analyst Expert", Alex Avery, is paid by the Hudson Institute. The Hudson Institute is an American conservative, religious and free market think tank. Simply put, they are corporate lobbyists. And the prestigious-sounding Hudson Institute is funded by giant corporations such as Monsanto, the leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) food.

You also shouldn't forget that Penn and Teller are members of the Cato Institute, which is another libertarian corporate think tank funded by such fine corporations as ExxonMobil. The Cato Institute is known for spreading and funding anti-scientific climate denialism and misinformation.

But this is not the first time Penn and Teller's "Bullshit!" show receives criticism, and especially not when they cover environmental topics. In season one, aired 2003, Penn and Teller claims that the global warming crisis was created by â"hysterical hippies and environmentalists". Their biased and misinformed global warming episode has since then been criticized and debunked. Logical Science has listed and debunked the claims Penn and Teller made in the episode:

"In Episode 13, season 1 of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! they try to prove the global warming crisis, among other things, was created by the out of control imagination of hysterical hippies and environmentalists. This is why the episode is titled "Environmental Hysteria". We would just like to point out that Penn Jillette is a research fellow of the ExxonMobil and Industry funded CATO institute which has strong minarchist leanings. This gives Penn Jillete a conflict of interest when it comes to any topic that might require government regulation. During the show he puts Tobacco and Oil funded lobbyists against hippie college protesters. Â If a fair match was their intent they should have those lawyers up against any of the scientists on this massive list. Granted the show was officially about "hysteria" and not science itself but that doesn't excuse them for grossly misrepresenting a very strong scientific consensus and providing facts thats are demonstrably false. The following is a quoted, sourced, and time stamped point by point analysis of their show. It will focus on the facts presented by Penn & Teller's "experts""

Another debunked claim by Penn and Teller is that recycling paper would pollute more than making new paper. This is a false claim:

"Recycling also helps prevent pollution. For example, recycling paper instead of making it from new material generates 74 percent less air pollution and uses 50 percent less water."

Simply put: Don't trust a magician!


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Simon Leufstedt
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""I'll listen to the massively overwhelming scientific consensus and peer reviewed science before paying attention to a libertarian propaganda organisation." "     Translation: "I'll rely on political dogma and Straw Man tactics to obfuscate any and all science that refutes my propaganda-fueled beliefs." As you yourself said, where IS this alleged evidence?     " In fact, I can't imagine anything that I would listen to libertarian on"     Pffft. Yeah, you're right. We're SO much better off in the hands of Marxists/Socialists/Regressives who have an anachronistic fetish for a totalitarian system of collectivist control whereby everybody is forcibly made to behave the way a small oligarchy of Left Wingers thinks they should made to behave.   You're nothing more than a modern day Trofim Lysenko.

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"I would do a bit more research on Genetic food not being bad for your health.   And skip past the misinformation that is supplied by Monsanto and companies that spend millions of dollars trying to convince you otherwise. " Alternately, you could do some research of the actual science from actual chemists, microbiologists, ETC (like, say, Dan Agin http://books.google.com/books?id=VxcjOL1j8iAC&pg=PA59&lpg=PA59&dq=dan+agin+gm+food&source=bl&ots=H1PH3Q3Auc&sig=1qqzXUgC0MENJL3pNLDXGldNZkY&hl=en&ei=IHpJToemD8OhtwfwqIjgBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false) instead of misinformation supplied by front groups like the OCA who have very clear, very tangible financial and political ties to the organic industry.

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"So who is going to benefit from organic farming - apart from individual farmers and the environment that we all need for a healthy life? Which mega-corporation is going to rake in millions of $$$s from organic produce" GEE, I DUNNO, WHOLE FOODS, THE OCA, TRADER JOES, ET AL SEEM TO DO PRETTY WELL FOR THEMSELVES. GEE. Seems like the problem is that you're judging organic foods off of the fuzzy fantasy you want it to be, instead of the reality. I bet you're also one of those types that thinks autism is caused by vaccines and that homeopathy is a grassroots underdog cure-all.

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" It's not *my* logic, reasoning and evidence that is flawed. " Oh, please.  Your entire argument is based on the fallacious Left Wing argument that because Subject A is making more money than Subject B, it completely absolves Subject B of any suspicion or wrongdoing of any sort.

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"Spot the hypocrisy? " Only in about every post you make, David. I think my favorite is when you claim that if GM food is popular it's because of the Capitalist Boogeyman and his Evil Mind Control Ray, but that if organic food is popular it's because of Noble Revolutionaries who are "educating" (read: indoctrinating) themselves and that any attempt to point out the billions and billions of dollars in profit that are de facto raked are all paranoid conspiracy.

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"Ah yes - 'common sense logic' in place of evidence and science. No, thanks."     Funny thing is, none of the above three are on your side.   "P.S. I notice you couldn't provide a single piece of evidence to back up your original claim. I know why that is. " You make some pretty hefty demands for evidence from someone whose sole sources involve anecdotes, Google and Wikipedia.

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"you know why the organic farmers are making more money in not even half the time as conventional farmers ? because ORGANIC farming is more sutainable and can feed the world. " So, what you're saying is, you don't understand what the word "sustainable" means?

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"and if people believe fast food is good for them when fast food is not good for them who profits the poeple or the people behind the fast food industries..i cried a little bit inside when penn and teller did the fast food episode the food industry totally used penn and teller to lead to seperate people from the reality of fast food " So, you're admitting that you didn't bother to watch the episode, and are only having a knee-jerk reaction because they DARED to argue in favor of people being allowed to choose their own diets because it flies in the face of your authoritarian need to control the behaviors of other people? Y'know, much like the initial author and the Organic Farming episode. Because not once did they ever make the argument that fast food was "healthy". I don't know of ANYONE who believes that.

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"yet by belittling those on the other side with legitimate scientific evidence" Funny how this "legitimate scientific evidence" in favor of organic farming is never actually cited. Maybe because it doesn't actually exist?

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In fact, "belittling legitimate scientific evidence" seems to be a staple of the organic movement. Their froth-mouthed attempts to shun all contrary science, no matter how thoroughly supported, as "corporate propaganda" is the precise tactic employed by the homepaths and purveryors of other New Age-oriented snake oil, whose customers, suppliers and vocal supporters are also conveniently the same sorts who prop up 'organic' dogma. Funny thing, that.

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"Your Friendly Environmentalist Propaganda Office. " Well, at least you're honest.

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I suggest you spend a little more time reading and learning, and a little less time posting juvenile abuse on the internet. You REALLY need to start heeding your own advice, David.

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" So to summon up, farmers are stupid for using more expensive GE seeds that give same ammount of food which is of lesser quality and cheaper than organic food." You've got "GE" and "organic" in the wrong spots, sans the "cheaper" bit of course. Otherwise, you'd have had a valid point. Oh, and it's, "To sum it up", genius.

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Hmm, don't trust a magician?  But how can we trust an article that doesn't even adhere to grammatical rules? Case in point: "You should also don’t forget that..." I'll just leave it at that.

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Guest Simon Leufstedt

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Yeah, you're right, that sentence doesn't sound good now when I re-read it. Thanks for pointing that out and helping me improve my grammar. :)

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Guest Neilslade

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I learned long ago to not take Penn and Teller's myth busting seriously. They are not scientists, they are entertainers. I've seen them get their "facts" completely twisted- their show has virtually nothing to do with unbiased research-- they simply look for a way to sell their own line of bullshit and their TV show. Take their show blasting organic foods- who did they interview to prove their science? The Hudson Institute-- a neoconservative think tank representing Proctor and Gamble and others who make their living selling absolute junk The Hudson Institute is supported by donations from companies and individuals. Corporate contributors listed in a publication from 2001 included Eli Lilly and Company, Monsanto Company, DuPont, Dow-Elanco, Sandoz, Ciba-Geigy, ConAgra, Cargill, and Procter & Gamble.[8] The biggest problem with Penn and Teller is that they actually sell their entertainment as neutral fact finding. And people believe it. Guess Barnum was right. Enough said of Penn and Teller Science. It's bullshit.

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Guest Letsparalyze

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This is a ridiculous column of argument. Here's how I see it, and I am no credible source, though I feel I have some grounds for speaking. GMO crops are from big companies. Big companies have taken hold of our "free market" and their power is undeniable. Just look at how seed cleaners have been prosecuted from Monsanto.  There is a huge fight between the good guys (sustainable living), and the bad guys (non-sustainable living). There will always be corruption in any "good guy" activism. So yes, organics have been hit by the big guys. Our government definitely doesn't want our food market to support local organics because large companies would not be giving money to fill the politicians pockets, though I'd like to think good politicians exist. Sustainable living is the only way to really invest in our world. We can't go to sustainable living because the world economy is ran by nonsustainable practices. We could though slowly shift to sustainability through more local organics, and through more GMO studies specifically for those countries who could not afford to grow organically. If you invest in your soil, your soil will grow. If you fill your soil with chemicals, you will need more and more chemicals to produce from that soil. And this is a side-note, rather off topic, but the whole praise jesus deal from jesuslvr, will you please read your bible one more time. Jesus would have never let capitalism grow to what it is. Jesus walked with no money. Jesus wouldn't have enjoyed penn and teller, and my god jesus would have never listened to a dirty politician. Jesus warned of the anit-christ coming in his name. He warned of exactly what's happening, the evil politicians milking his followers into being some weird off-spin of "whole-hearted" people. Jesus was a socialist. So please, read your bible.

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Guest macleaj

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It makes me sad to think of all the people who watched this show about organic food and were influenced by this disinformation to stop buying organic.  Criminal charges need to be brought to bare when people are harmed by the poisons these lies support.  

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Guest Lchreb

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Typical liberal nonsense. Can't argue the message so, attack the messenger.  

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Guest DJB91

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You do realize that essentially every "think tank" or institute is usually funded by companies with keen interest in the topics they research? There are many studies performed for the validity of green technology and the destruction of the oil industry that are funded by companies with investments in solar power companies, etc. So to say that it it unusual or bad that a project or experiment is supported by an institute that possesses as specific political leaning, than you should essentially discount any studies done in the U.S. since the 90's. 

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Guest Mike Lee

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heheheh. This is funny! Because P&T are members of Cato, and you disagree with them and/or they are funded by (oh the horror) corporations,  their opinions on organic food are biased? Makes perfect sense. Dummy.

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Guest Mike Lee

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 Spoken like a true lefty fascist. Anyone who disagrees with you, must be shut down by the government (unless they're black, gay, female, ...)

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Guest hmmmm.....

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'Regardless, Cato's global warming denial agenda is blatant and undeniable. They (like most / all libertarians) are anti-science when it conflicts with their religious / political ideology." Penn Jillette is an atheist, wouldn't that be a conflict of interest with being anti-science when it conflicts with their religious ideology as Penn has no religious ideology?  

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