TED, Monsanto, Pseudoscience and GMOs

TED_CensorshipEarlier this year Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock suffered a form of censorship at the hands of TED, a dispute covered amply here at disinformation. However, we missed a none too dissimilar spat regarding TED telling its TEDx event organizers to avoid “pseudoscience” and that red flag topics included GMOs and “Food as medicine.” Mike Adams jumped all over it at Natural News, writing:

Allow me to be the first to announce that TED is dead. Why? Because the group that organizes so-called “TED talks” has been thoroughly hijacked by corporate junk science and now openly rejects any talks about GMOs, food as medicine, or even the subject of how food can help prevent behavioral disorders in children. All these areas of discussion are now red-flagged from being presented on any TED stage.

This is openly admitted by TEDx itself in a little-known letter publicly published on December 7, 2012. Click here to view the letter.

In that letter, TED says that people who talk about GMOs are engaged in “pseudoscience.” Those who discuss the healing potential of foods are spreading “health hoaxes.”

The letter also advises TEDx organizers to, “reject bad science, pseudoscience and health hoaxes,” meaning anyone who talks about GMOs, “food as medicine” or similar topics.

The TED organization, incredibly, believes that food cannot be medicine and does not contain medicine. Perhaps someone should educate TED about resveratrol, curcumin, phycocyanins, polyphenols and ten thousand other chemicals created by plants that have medicinal functions in the human body. To deny this is to nearly admit you believe the Earth is flat and that the sun and stars revolve around our planet. It is a sure sign of a feeble mind that cannot grasp the very simple and readily evident idea that the human body evolved in an environment full of plants with beneficial physiological effects, including many medicinal effects…

TED responded, saying:

If you’re coming to this post because of an allegation that TED has “banned discussion of GMOs” or has a relationship with Monsanto, please know that these rumors are not true. We have not banned these topics, and we have no relationship with Monsanto.

In fact, we have many great talks on food and health that challenge entrenched ideas in smart and creative ways.

Other red flag topics (which TED stresses are not “banned”):

  • “Healing,” including reiki, energy fields, alternative health and placebos, crystals, pyramid power
  • “Free energy” and perpetual motion machines, alchemy, time travel
  • The neuroscience of [fill in the blank] — not saying this will all be non-legitimate, but that it’s a field where a lot of goofballs are right now
  • The fusion of science and spirituality. Be especially careful of anyone trying to prove the validity of their religious beliefs and practices by using science

If any readers have updates on how this has developed since Mike Adams first wrote about it in September, please comment below.


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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25 Comments on "TED, Monsanto, Pseudoscience and GMOs"

  1. Mike Adams and his outlet Natural News are purveyors of pseudoscience. Good on TEDx!

    • Ron Monsour | Dec 18, 2013 at 8:14 am |

      Mike has a few good things to say, however he has become the Alex Jones of food and health in his delivery of the information which turns me and others off (fear mongering or fear porn style). If he could report w/o the tactics he would be more embraced. I don’t listen to Howard Stern much either.

    • Mike, Gareth and others, yes I agree about Natural News in general. Nothing above suggests that I endorse Mike Adams’s opinions regarding TED or anything else, but I am curious to know if the spat has developed given the history with Sheldrake and Hancock. That was the invitation to comment at the end of the post. Anyone?

      • The question wasn’t (isn’t) entirely clear. I don’t follow Adams closely enough to know if he’s posted followups. I also have only peripheral involvement with TEDxABQ. However, disinfo readers might like their talk “Connecting Modern Medicine to Traditional Healing” from September of this year.


  2. Mike Adams is a self proclaimed Know-it-all who knows nothing!
    He is a snake oil salesman and a pseudoscientist.
    Natural News is THE worst website out there!

    Shame on you disinfo.com, I’ve been following you for a long time now and I’m very disappointed that you’d speak about Mike Adams or Natural News in any way other than derogatorily!

  3. rogerston | Dec 18, 2013 at 8:04 am |

    Mike Adams is downright dangerous, that guy will spew any brand of fear, uncertainty and doubt for a buck. He’s the Alex Jones of alt.med.

    While most of the blather he posts is easily debunked with about 30 seconds of your time, too many people simply do not fact check what they read on the internet and this is why we have measles making comeback in 2013.

    Mike Adams, Mercola, Chopra are the holy trinity of anti-science and junk science on the internet.

  4. Natural News is the worst website going.
    Mike Adams is a snake oil salesman and a pseudoscientist,
    If there is anyone guilty of disinfo it is him!

    If the topic of genetic engineering could be discussed in an adult manner without name calling, making up facts, or science denial then maybe TEDx wouldn’t have to resort to this.

  5. Seriously? You’ve tarnish your own credibility by associating yourself with NN, one of (along with the likes of Alex Jones) THE most egregious propaganda and conspiracy theory sites on the web. There is indeed a legitimate debate to be had about TED’s explicit presumption that Science (as defined by their ‘expert panel’) is the ultimate authority on everything, but participation by such purveyors of erroneous, spurious and downright fatuous information as NN can only cloud the issue.

  6. misinformation | Dec 18, 2013 at 11:33 am |

    Mike Adams is…Mike Adams is…Mike Adams is…is there a robot army working here?

    Anyone who disputes that food can qualify as ‘medicine’ – as in, that it can heal, is a quack and ignorant of basic science.

    • Taylor Johns | Dec 18, 2013 at 1:04 pm |


      Are you kidding? Please tell me you are kidding… No one is saying this. It’s a strawman argument

  7. Taylor Johns | Dec 18, 2013 at 1:03 pm |

    Why should TED allow complete BS? Are we mad that there are no TED talks on the Force? Or Speaking Klingon in the workplace? Or how about the lack of TED talks on talking to sea life telepathically?

  8. Ted Heistman | Dec 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm |

    Hmm, almost no one commenting is a regular commenter. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm………..?????????????

    • Ted Heistman | Dec 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm |

      HMMMMMMMMMMMMM All the upvotes are not from regular commenters. Hmmmmmmmmmm


      • No opinion because both TED and Natural News are about as relevant to me as Daily Mail…

  9. heinrich6666 | Dec 18, 2013 at 2:33 pm |

    TED’s been dead from the beginning. If you couldn’t tell the thing reeked of elitism, well, no hope for you.

  10. Adam's Shadow | Dec 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm |

    Two caveats: I am personally suspicious of homeopathic medicine, and I think Mike Adams is sort of a quack; also, as someone who considers himself a “liberal,” I find Salon.com to be very pretentious and shallow, and basically TMZ for party-hack Democrats.

    But… http://www.salon.com/2013/10/13/ted_talks_are_lying_to_you/

  11. Natural News occasionally has some good stuff, I’m not sure why there is so much hostility towards it. You just have to use your common sense and not blindly accept everything as Truth (this goes for every source, including disinfo).

  12. misinformation | Dec 20, 2013 at 12:27 am |

    No one is saying what?

  13. misinformation | Dec 20, 2013 at 12:29 am |

    I find it interesting that you claim to call out a straw man (mistakenly, btw), then proceed to follow that up with a post containing no less than 3 straw men.

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