How SumOfUs Manipulate and Deceive Vulnerable People

See the French translation

Among the congregation of the Cult of Naturopathy, there are many different types of believers.

  • A large number of the flock are good people who try to do right for themselves, for the planet and others. They are confused by a lot of the mixed messages from the media, with complicated statements from scientists and regulators (on food safety, vaccines, pharmaceuticals …) raising uncertainties. They feel vulnerable and seek trust on social media from readily available naturopathic gurus.
  • There are those elitists who gather to worship in their Sunday finest, show others their elevated stature and occupy the front pews as they express themselves through privileged foodie diets and luxury lifestyle decisions.
  • In the pulpit we find the gurus (the high priests) whose preaching skills sustain and enlarge the flock via a mixture of fire and brimstone fears and hope for salvation through a better way (natural, chemical-free, without corporations…). Like any fundamentalist church, the stronger the sermon, the fuller the collection baskets become.
  • Supporting all of this is the naturopathic cult hierarchy, delivering the goods and services to the faithful (the organic retailers, brands, homeopath supplement producers, media outlets, film producers and back-offices). As the cult grows in prominence, these marketing organisations profit well giving the followers exactly what they crave: hope and redemption.

Outside of the marketing managers in retail and food brands, these are all people who mean well and truly believe (in a sadly misinformed manner) that natural is best and we would all be better off if we limited the inputs of modern science and technology.

Naturopathy would be a peaceful religion, able to coexist with others, were it not for a last group: the zealots. These are the activists who feel they have a higher calling and believe there is a holy war going on. They do battle against industry, science, regulators and anyone who may question the purity of their faith-based system. These dogmatic fundamentalists answer to a different (Machiavellian) standard where honesty, evidence and integrity are secondary to winning and growing the flock through whatever manipulative means available.

gillam and portierThe absolutely abhorrent consequences of their campaigns (economic decline, increased deaths, diseases, deficiencies…) do not concern these activists – only the continued adherence to the purity of dogma and the removal of any threats to their eco-eschatology. These zealots are ethically despicable, relentless, manipulative and cunning.

Too many churches turn a blind eye to the misbehaviour of the fundamentalists and zealot activists given how they enrich the organisation with followers, revenue and passion. I, however, have little tolerance for the naturopathic zealots. While I have recently felt the force of their outrage, I believe the more the practices of these mean, detestable individuals are exposed, the better the opportunity to develop a stronger, more harmonious faith system for those in need.

SumOfUs, Wolves and Liars

The most lamentable zealot activist group, by far, has to be SumOfUs. This “anti-interest group” interest group claims 15 million members and will show up anywhere hard-left anti-corporate opportunities may arise. They are a good example of the new generation of activism – small, quick, moneyed and unaccountable. Their employees work in digital communities from their living rooms around the world. Without a core central office, SumOfUs has evidently not developed an internal culture. Such a culture is important if you wish to instill values like honesty or fairness. Without an internal culture, you risk having a group of semi-independent activists running around lying their asses off.

This New York-based group has mastered the art of crowd-funding at the micro-level asking large numbers of followers for small donations of a couple dollars per issue campaign. Of course their real money lies in foundations with deep pockets like George Soros, but they’d rather keep that quiet and pretend that you and me (the golden “we”) are truly the ones speaking up for humanity. The “office” has grown rapidly, but of the 36 paid staff, 16 have nothing to do with issues or campaigns (mostly software engineers and data analysts). These cadres merely follow the numbers and implement the ICT tools to harvest donations. They take the same models and just plug in different alarmist vocabulary to whatever issue the data tells them is lucrative.

I saw the extent of how SumOfUs was hated by the scientific community when I shared a link on Facebook to their campaign to force the German rail company to stop using glyphosate to control vegetation along the rails. The herbicide is used to prevent train accidents and potential loss of life from poor visibility and hidden obstacles on the tracks. SumOfUs did not provide an alternative safety solution to protect more than 33,000 km of German rail lines. None was needed as their focus groups assured them this dogmatic purity would work well among the generous German flock.

Glyphosate, Monsanto, Bayer and neonicotinoids have been favourite money-spinners of this activist pit-bull, so it should come as no surprise that the Risk-Monger is on the SumOfUs mailing list (making me, gulp, a member or “OneOfThem”). But something happened yesterday that set me off.

“The Death of Bees”

I receive many emails from SumOfUs, and quite frankly, I am always fascinated, not only by the narrative they have locked themselves in, but also at how they try to manipulate and exploit their own followers … squeezing the innocent and confused for every nickel and dime they can get. Yesterday I received an email with the Subject line: The Death of Bees. “Oh dear,” I thought, “… that sounds rather dire. I had better go and have a look at what just happened to the hardest working species on the planet!”

share-if-you-careWell, nothing happened, but that’s not the point. What I found was an email so cunningly crafted, so exuberantly exploitative and crassly manipulative that I thought it would be a shame not to do an analysis as a blog. How many millions of people received this email? How many shared their nonsense on social media? How many donated to their campaign of falsehoods? It boggles the mind. And as I have been working on a blog entitled: “How to talk to your sister-in-law at Christmas” (due out in November), I can imagine many people are regularly frustrated receiving messages like this sent to them by caring loved ones (“Share if you Care!”). Maybe, I thought, this blog could help wake up some of these sister-in-laws.

First let’s examine the letter before presenting some further evidence of how truly despicable SumOfUs are.

It all comes down to “you”!

The opening of the letter, before we even get to a salutation, is in bold, screaming out the key message of fear and urgency:


Those evil lobbyist from the chemical industry are “working hard” to overturn your victory to ban the “bee-killing pesticides”. This is frightful: hard-working lobbyists wanting to kill bees right at this very minute. But SumOfUs can defend the bees, defend us and take on these awful people … only, however, if they get your help (ie, cash). This is what I would call the “World Vision” technique (creating an alarmist situation of heightened outrage and putting the solution solely on the privileged individual watching the programme) and it worked very well separating late-night TV watchers from their money for more than a generation.

Good communicators know that evil needs a face. Monsanto is gone so the new poster-boy of hate seems to be Bayer, but SumOfUs is uncomfortable limiting the hate to a company that is also a widely used pharmaceutical brand, so they refer to them as “Bayer and Co”, emphasising the corporate nature. SumOfUs members hate corporations so that suffix will probably be repeated until the brand is reviled.

The message is clear in the first four lines: if I want to stop evil lobbyists and save the bees, I will have to donate. One simple click and the problem will be resolved “immediately”.

Then the letter starts:


Notice the use of language: “we had an incredible win” thanks to “members like you”. It is wonderful, truly wonderful what we have achieved and you, David, should feel very good about yourself! Positive vibes at the outset, including me personally involved in the solution that was, well, just incredible. I’m feeling rather good about this (and therefore ready to give).

Bayer and friends (what happened to “and Co”?) – the evil “they” just “hate that we’re winning”. I don’t feel smug that we are winning – rather I wonder why those evil lobbyists in Bayer are so vindictive about our wish to save the bees (and the world). We are the good ones, they are the evil ones in this “Us versus Them” narrative of global struggle (remember, it’s a war). In the naturopath cult vision, being hated by industry is a sign you are saving the world.

They mention “our partners” because, in reality, SumOfUs do not actually do very much on the policy ground. They are there to take credit for other groups’ achievements and for situations where activists did not actually win anything (their huge victories in the Baysanto and glyphosate campaigns were not quite wins … actually … they lost). Facts do not matter in cult dogma.

But you know, if “we” are winning as they claim, then I won’t donate to their little organisation. Therefore I need a threat – something to scare me into my online wallet.


Yikes! Just imagine “cashed-up lobbyists” … “working around the clock” to kill our bees. The “Them” are up to their evil ways, and the “We” can’t let this happen. We have to act, because if we don’t, no one will protect the bees. The “World Vision technique” adapted to an online world – made easier, widespread and cheaper.

That “We” includes me, which is time for the second “Ask”: Will you chip in? Chipping in is such a nice way of saying: “Give me your cash now!”. At the end of a pleasant night out, we all chip in for the food and beer. What’s a couple extra euros among friends? It’s not a lot really (until you multiply it by 15 million members).

Salvation is just a click away!


In twelve lines, I have seen two “asks” and the word “Donate” eight times. At this point, the solution is clear: I donate a little money to SumOfUs with one simple click and they take on evil on my behalf, beat back corporations once again, and make me feel good about myself! Sweet!

Of course, fundraising is an art (probably the greatest marketing skill in the world: to get money from clients in return for nothing) and any clever hack knows the key to making donors feel good is empowering them with a choice in their donation. In my Retail Marketing course, I teach students that there must always be three options: a cheap model, an expensive one, and the one in between you are aiming to sell. So this campaign is aiming to get €4 donations from each member (and maybe a few generous “other” donations from the angrier “Us”).

Mea culpa time. Careful readers will have noticed in this letter that I actually have an account with SumOfUs and that a simple click (with my payment information on file) will result in an immediate gratification. Indeed, as the Risk-Monger is fully aware he is going to go to hell when he dies, what damage could come out of making a few donations to this vicious pack of wolves?

A few donations??? Plural??? Christ, David, you’re killing us!”

In my defence, it was for research purposes. By donating to SumOfUs (on different membership accounts, on different issues and different donation levels), I can better study their exploitative techniques on those they have profiled as “opportunities”. This letter came to the account of mine that gave a basic donation of €2 on pesticides. They are trying to double me up to the next level. I might just click “Donate €4” for instant gratification.

But donations have to be tied to feel-good events – If I’m going to double up to double down on industry, I had better be giving to a good cause. I want my evil shill-bucks to smell good! In the next lines, the “Us” reassures me:


It’s all about me! I have done so much to fight Bayer and their “fellow bee-killing chemical mega-corps”. The perception transition is complete. I’m starting to forget that I take one of Bayer’s life-saving medications every day. And my donation will allow my concerns to continue to have impact because the European Commission is listening to me!

But all of this could be lost if I don’t get my wallet out. The third ask is the most intense. It’s do or die time (for bees, the planet, humanity …) and SumOfUs really do need me!


Not only am I needed, hell, my donation is indispensable.

The issue is finally mentioned on page two of their email: sugar beet farmers in Belgium want to be exempted from the neonic ban (and maybe Dutch farmers might do the same). There are no mega-corp lobbyists here and sugar beets don’t flower so no bees are affected. But SumOfUs know that facts don’t matter and their members are sadly uninformed about issues. They can say whatever they want and no one would ever correct them. Just mention “Donate” 16 times in an email and fly first class for the next year.

SumOfUs even taunts its members’ ignorance outright in the next sentence.


They do not talk about this different kind of agriculture, but SumOfUs assure me that we can do away with corporations and the world will be much better. And besides, we farmed long before there was science … good enough for me

The big SumOfUs action, finally mentioned, will be simple. SumOfUs will put ads in newspapers in Belgium and the Netherlands. More donations, more ads. Remember a cardinal rule about fundraising: you need to have a measurable return on donation (in other words, providing a few screenshots of newspaper advertisements lets people know you have done something positive). This is not really much but SumOfUs likes to piggyback on “our partners” who are doing the heavy lifting in the anti-pesticide campaigns. They are merely the web engineers and data managers sending collection baskets throughout the congregation.

The focus has changed from the “you” to the “we”. That can only mean one thing: this mail is going for the elusive “Quadruple Ask”. Let’s start by making it personal:


This letter is aimed at vulnerable people who can easily be manipulated. Within the naturopath cult congregation, there are those who compulsively give to campaigns as a means to identify themselves with a perceived goodness. Those with a sad emptiness in their lives fall for the “We need your help” bullshit and give in. Like so many, I have a sister-in-law like this. She manages her “privilege guilt” by attacking the system (and these cunning NGOs are there to relieve her from her wealth). SumOfUs web donation strategists have profiled them and build their campaigns and communications on the weakness of vulnerable individuals.

Just one more click to save the bees!
Choose a box and your donation will immediately go to stopping big industry.
If you can just help us, we can continue to have incredible wins.

Such language is aimed to take advantage of compulsive people with weaknesses much like an unscrupulous drug dealer would push another hit on an addict. Promoting immediate gratification in an emotional context – that is my definition of exploitation.

There is something very vulgar and immoral about how these opportunistic wolves are fleecing the innocent, vulnerable naturopath congregation. Shouldn’t the gurus stand up and protect their supporters? Then again, SumOfUs shared out more than 4.6 million USD in 2016. Never mind.

The letter closes with a reaffirmation.


Before I give though, I need to be reminded about how good the fine people, Tom, Kat, Eoin and everyone at “Us” truly are. Evil needs a face, goodness needs a halo – these lovely people have first names, families and dreams just like me – they are our heroes! Nicely done.

The links are not to scientific sources about bees but to news organisations that only lightly refer to the key vocabulary the SumOfUs focus groups and data analysts determined would be effective. In fact, the English-language Dutch news regenerator (not even the original source) claims that sugar beets have no effect on bees, so even the source SumOfUs chose undermines what they are trying to raise a fuss about. There was no mention of lobbyists working around the clock or evil mega-corps – just Dutch farmers concerned about having to use a lot more pesticides to replace the banned neonics. In fact, the article states that the Belgian case to exempt sugar beets from the neonic ban was introduced by a government agriculture minister. Does SumOfUs consider government ministers as evil lobbyists or are they just making shit up to scare vulnerable people. Once again, facts don’t matter and the cadres at SumOfUs demonstrated they didn’t even bother to read their sources. Pathetic!

SumOfUs was knowingly lying on the following:

  • They were not responsible for any great wins they claimed (their partners did the work)
  • There were no “mega-corp” lobbyists in Belgium trying to steal our win (just a government minister)
  • The Dutch lobbyists “working around the clock” were farmers
  • Sugar beets do not flower and do not affect bees
  • SumOfUs did not speak to the European Commission (see below)

Meanwhile, their boilerplate lets us know how SumOfUs are working hard to “hold corporations accountable”.


After reading a letter like this, if you were quite naive you would imagine that SumOfUs is an open, honest and charitable organisation committed to doing what is right on behalf of humanity.

Holding corporations accountable would imply that SumOfUs think accountability is important. Today, being accountable is often considered as being transparent. I would imagine that SumOfUs, as the summation of humanity, must be quite transparent with what they do with all of our money.

Well, … No!


SumOfUs is anything but transparent. Nobody knows how much they spend on their campaigns (seriously, how much will a few ads cost in local Belgian or Dutch newspapers?) and how much they spend on salaries, travel and networks. I have shown in an earlier blog how there is very little scrutiny of NGO financing and how these groups seem to be able to move cash from one group to another with no oversight.

So what does SumOfUs declare in the European Transparency Register? Curiously, as of today, they have not bothered to register.


SumOfUs doesn’t even pretend to be accountable or transparent. To be fair, before I accuse them of hypocrisy, maybe they did not realise, as a global organisation, that they would have to register and be transparent … you know, be accountable to the “Us” in Europe.

Well, … No!

Science communicator, Marc Draco, investigating American NGOs operating in Brussels, contacted the European Commission to raise the issue about SumOfUs’ lack of transparency, and this was the reply from the EU authorities in October 2017.


So SumOfUs were contacted last October to be informed they should register, and still they stuck their finger in the air at the European Commission. This implies they lied when they said the European Commission listened to “Us” since any meeting with Commission officials requires that the lobby group has completed an ETI registration. We have already established that SumOfUs don’t worry much about telling the truth. Neither, apparently, do the other gurus and NGOs who work with SumOfUs to attack unaccountable industries (like Martin Pigeon’s ragtag Corporate Europe Observatory). What a band of unethical hypocrites (transparocrites)!

What SumOfUs is actually saying is: We don’t care about your laws or ethical standards. We’ll raise our money how we want and use it how we see fit, and to hell with the rest of you. If that isn’t a good definition of an activist zealot, I don’t know what is.

Maybe your sister-in-law should be informed.

34 Comments Add yours

  1. ana says:

    it’s good to question organizations that are looking for money and do your research. so thanks for the message. what i don’t understand is your disdain for the naturopathic and homeopathic work. there is no cult. they’re another medical stream to choose from and they give amazing results. maybe they’re not in the scientific journals but after 20 years as a patient within these two practices AND accessing an allopath as needed, it’s been an amazing way of keeping my family healthy. stay open! not with your wallet but your mind


  2. Paulo Mestre says:

    I can`t read on a monitor such a long text, cause at my age my eyes get tired, but as it is by now common knowledge that neonicotinoids are a real danger for pollinating insects and you claim, if I understood well, that to be a falsehoods maybe it`s you that are on the bad side of the fence therefore I will keep donating my regular 5 euros to SumOfUs. If you`re rigth and they`re wrong won`t be a big deal if they enrich themselves with falsehoods. I `ll use the precautionary principle and support them instead of take the risk of not helping people doing the rigth thing. Five euros is not a big risk and if they are wrongly using it that will be their problem. As we say in Portugal : ” acts remain with those who practice them “.


    1. RiskMonger says:

      I get that not being right is not important when the precautionary logic is applied, and that €5 is just €5 to an affluent disenchanted population seeking purpose (multiplied by millions) but this exemplifies what I see as the source of the problem: facts don’t matter and most people can’t be bothered to read a long text when a short emotional message suffices (even if it is false). So here is a shorter message: Farmers are no longer planting oilseed rape in northern climates without access to neonics and this is denying bees a valuable early spring source of pollen. SumOfUs and your blithe €5 are killing bees.


      1. Thanks for the article David – I fully understand your frustration and people should have open discussion about such organizations like SumOfUs, but I also understand Paulo. I’m donating SumOfUs regularly as well and in the past, I was trying to search for some proof that they are good or bad (e.g. “really having impact” or “just misusing my money”). I failed to find the proof of their bad habit (that’s why I still pay) and that’s where your article does bad job as well: I simply miss the proof.
        Regarding the way how they construct the e-mails, you’re of course right but that’s not proof – the “other side” is doing exactly the same so we can say they’re just using the same guns.
        If you’ll find a proof (or anyone else) that SumOfUs is misusing our money or not doing what they promise to do, please share. And in such case, if you know about any other organization that does really good job in this field (protecting nature, pushing large corporations to account), I’ll be more than happy to redirect my funding. Until then, I’ll keep sending my donations to these guys…


      2. shaun says:

        totally succinctly put Jaroslav, I couldn’t have worded it better myself. Seems like David here might have an agenda himself…? Hmmm?


      3. Braw says:

        I live in a Northern climate and we are still seeing oil seed rape in the fields.


  3. Tom says:

    When can we expect your review of chlorinated chicken?


    1. RiskMonger says:

      Have you ever swum in a pool?


      1. shaun says:

        have you ever drunk chlorine you twit?


  4. LauLau says:

    SumOfUs doesn’t seem legit to me since I har to jump through hoops to get my stolen money back.


    1. Dyanne Smart says:

      I am from Canada and I find myself in a difficult situation. I want to stop my monthly donation to sumofus. I cannot call as it is only a U.S. number. I cannot find a valid email address. I was going to send a letter to both addresses, but would it do any good. How did you get out of this? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


      1. RiskMonger says:

        Many people have complained about this – one person told me he got no support and was so angry he decided to cancel his credit card (a bit extreme). Perhaps you can contact your credit card company and complain about their practises – they should be able to block their access. SumOfUs is a small organisation of IT experts that have automated most of their activities, including mail and fundraising so getting a response will be difficult. Good luck.


      2. Dyanne Smart says:

        Thank you for your speedy response. I have to figure out what to do now, but I appreciate knowing they are just scamming people. It would help.


      3. Hi Dyanne, I had the same question and solution is very simple – just use this link and cancel your donation:

        I hope this helps.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Dyanne Smart says:

        Thank you so much. I will be doing that now.


      5. Lau Laiu says:

        Hi Dyanne,
        My situation was a little different. I did not willingly donate. My information was stolen from somewhere ( I know there was at least one data breach where I purchased something online, but who knows! ) I had an extremely hard time at making SumofUs understand this and they played games for quite a while with the back and forth ( of almost playing dumb! ). I started with my bank by canceling the card and freezing my account ( temporary ) and requesting a new card. Then I tried calling the SumofUs number on the charge on my bank statement ( that was a joke! ). Next I went right to Facebook, as I could find absolutely no other contact information, except that bogus mail box always full phone number ( one phone number for a ” legit ” ” we do good ” organization with multiple locations all over the world? ) Red Flag there! The way they responded to me on Facebook messenger was another red flag, and it then continued to email ( at their request ). I was often questioning if they were the ones that in fact stole my information or bought it and then phished it for ” donation ” the way things went and what they would reply with. I kept screenshots of everything and records from my bank. I legit think if someone actually dug deep they’d find this is nothing but a scam of SumofUs living off the hard earned dollars of people who donate thinking they are actually doing some good. The only thing I could really find was posts on Facebook. I can put a post on Facebook all day long about some good or bad I did, doesn’t mean it’s true. I wasted enough time I found nothing that said they were doing anything legitimate and the conversations I had back and forth helped with that gut feeling I had all along. Also, the thing that bothered me originally with Facebook messenger is the first few messages I sent, they were reading and ignoring. Best of luck, if it comes down to it call your bank or credit card co and explain to them what is going on and you’ve tried to stop it. They might have a solution for you or the next step would be to just cancel your card and request a new one.


      6. David Nicholls says:

        JAROSLAVSABACKY I tried your link and it asks you to input your email and password but I have not been given one. I opted to donate £1 monthly via PayPal but contacting them is a pain in the ass because they ask what you purchased and if you received it?


  5. Raymondo says:

    I have to agree with Paolo. These corporations do the exact same thing…..for $5 , somebody needs to be the watchdog for these steamrollers with no conscience.
    The ol rule of science says ‘every action has an opposite or equal reaction’ This being true, corporations then cannot make money without consequence.
    Keep up the good work, watchdoggers!


    1. BEJI says:

      Are you mad? The investigative article presents plenty of evidence that the only thing this organization is watching is supporters’ money going into its bank account.


  6. shaun says:

    you’re dangerous


  7. simon hubbard says:

    Someone needs to tackle the rampant use of pesticides and the destruction of the rain forests to grow bio fuels to reduce carbon emissions to save the planet. Show me a realistic alternative? Who pays you to share rubbish such as passengers lives are being saved by the use if weedkillers….. utter tosh.


    1. RiskMonger says:

      I am glad you’re here to save the world and stop horrible people like me who are obviously paid to poison the world. And you buy their story with your credit card every month?


    2. Guillet Christian, Sion, Switzerland says:

      Sorry for you. Of course chemicals compagnies have done mistakes but also a lot of good. The increment of food production due to chemicals is enormous. Used without precautions pesticides are dangerous, as are cars in the hands of reckless drivers. Please be careful and do not mix the reduction of the forest with the use of agrochemicals. You are somewhere probably also responsible for latest.


  8. peripatus says:

    Someone needs to stop toxic chemicals being pumped into the environment and the food chain. Neonicotinoids affect not only bees but many other insects, not least the pollinators.
    But there’s little evidence that SomeOfUs does what it says.
    A major problem is the lack of accountability. Try writing to SomeOfUs and you’ll find that the email addresses are duds. The only access channels that work are those that take your money.
    All of which suggests that SOU is a cynical, but eloquently phrased, scam.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Braw says:

    Who really ARE SumOfUs? How much money do they harvest and what do they do with it?

    I have had my doubts about SumOf Us. But I don’t feel your article has much more substance than SumOfUs does. Though I suspect you are correct you don’t back your argument with much evidence.


  10. Willem Seine says:

    Thanks for your research and information. I am now “sharp” on Sumof Us. I checked your opinion on the use of neonicotinoides on sugar beet. you say its not bad for bees because beets do not not have flowers. there you are right. But farmers do use it against insects that eat leaves or other plant parts. the number of birds in agricultural area’s is going down drastically. according to my opinion one can grow sugar beet without the neo’s. Sugar is in fact a very cheap food ingredient, which can easily be grown organically. I consider the death of bees as a symbol for the deadly effect of neo’s. i am an agronomic engineer and know where i talk about. At last i woud like to ask you what is your interest to write these blogs? Who is paying you?


    1. RiskMonger says:

      Thanks for your comment. You are combining many crops and different pests – something an agronomist should be careful about. Quite a few studies (including the EU’s Epilobee research) have concluded that honeybee health declines followed cold winters. Interestingly, oilseed rape (canola) production in the northern EU countries has sharply declined with continued crop losses following the neonic seed treatment ban (the cabbage stem flea beetle was devastating crops) – taking OSR out of farm rotations has meant that bees no longer have the much-needed early spring source of nourishment (and farmers who still try to grow it are using older, more toxic foliar applications). How is this a win for Mother Earth?
      As for your “let them eat ‘sugar-free’ cake attitude, sugar beets are grown for many applications including feed and alcohol. You can grow sugar organically, as sugar cane largely in tropical countries. I have a home in the Philippines so we can happily have a conversation on the social and environmental destruction this process has imposed on poor smallholders.
      As for my personal situation, I have had a passion for science communications on risk issues for the last two decades (SumOfUs does not use science and is deceptive in their communications). I do not get paid for my blog and do it in my free time (not having published in the last two months due to illness). My university pays my rent. I get that most activists want to claim that anyone who disagrees with them are paid to shill for industry, and you can believe what you want, but for the last ten years I have been under the microscope so you would think they would have found something by now. How much do SumOfUs employees take from your monthly €5 “donation”? Good question – they are not very transparent – I suggest you ask them.


  11. Willem Seine says:

    Thank you for your answer. Luckilly i am not donator of Some of Us. After being asked to sign their petition I checked their organisation on the inetrnet and that is how i came upon your blog about this organisation. I prefer to use scientific arguments so i look critically at them from now. Besides that, i am very much concerned about the use of neo’s. The thing is that it is so poisonous and systemic, that i am against its use. Though it is very efficient in controlling pest insects whereby it requires less treatments such as foliar leaf applications, it can build up in soil where is may cause negative effects on all kind of organismes, which are crucial for a healthy soil. I am convinced that organic farming is better for all of us, despite lower yields. On the long run it’s better for soil quality and sustainable yields. In so many places farmers end up with dead and empty soil which can only be kept up with all kinds of chemical tricks. So according to me, without (chemicals) is better. Accepting this conclusion we come to the “question “how clean is organic farming?” As they in certain conditions and certain crops also make use of chemicals. Well, they all over much less harmful, less persistent than the synthethically made chemicals. And furthermore organical agriculture work biologically to say that they fight pests with predator organismes. this is coming up and becoming the new normal in controlled situations such as greenhouses. This experience is now moving to the arable field crops, and there it starts competing with synthetical chemicals. This new technology way is much more sophisticated than these synthetics. It’s a question of time to make this transition. So far my “rough” view on these matters


  12. CHRIS says:

    Thankyou, in future i’ll “READ THE SMALL PRINT.”


  13. Laurie Blakely says:

    I believe sugar beets do flower. Or where would their seed come from?


    1. RiskMonger says:

      They are biennials so they only flower if left in the ground for a second year (ie, for seed production). When grown for food or sugar, the beets are harvested in their first year before they seed.


      1. Steve Carter says:

        So. in answer to Laurie’s question, are we to presume that somewhere, some beets are left to flower in their second season to produce seeds? It would then be logical to say that these flowering, second season beets are accessible to bees and therefore a probable bee/pesticide conflict source (unless this crop is grown organically, which destroys the pesticide argument anyway).
        I live in rural Norfolk and in one of the prime sugar beet producing areas of the UK. The production process is highly controlled by British Sugar, who in effect contract the land from the farmers, provide the seed, specify producion methods (including fertilizer/pesticide application) and arrange harvesting and processing of the crop. Flowering beet crops are evident in some areas, differing from season to season, therefore bee contact is a given. The area is additionally planted with significant quantities of rape (a particular problem to hayfever sufferers but that’s a discussion for another day!) and we have not observed any noticeable reduction in area under cultivation or apparent yields.
        If I may offer an alternative? Substantially reduce beet production. This would address a number of problems, such as (e.g.)
        a) the cumulative deterioration in soil quality caused by monoculture and its increasing reliance on artificial chemical inputs to maintain yields, b) reducing the excessive consumption of sugar generally in our food chain which, whilst a cheap – and addictive – ingredient and, to a certain extent, a preservative, would help to improve the nation’s obesity problem, c) reduce wasteful livestock production land use (again, relates to a diet/health improvement). Beet production is primarily geared towards livestock feed, with sugar being a by-product that is almost 100 percent profit, i.e. the livestock feed covers all production/processing costs. Yes, I know that industry would no doubt replace UK produced sugar with imported cane sugar but that is another matter that would need to be addressed long term, d) land thus released can therefore be easily used for alternative food crops. The reallocation of the considerable areas under beet cultivation would allow food crop production with very limited or at best no chemical input to achieve a significant input into the nation’s food production.
        As an aside, we are locally a significant producer of an even mor wasteful crop, namely pumpkins. How many of these are actually consumed, rather than thrown away after the haloweén season?


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