Chad White: If wild anti-GMO claims were anything more than contrived hysteria, that would rock the world

“P” is for Pseudoscience, Poverty, Prejudice, and Prohibition

Groups like March Against Monsanto continually share information that is not based on actual evidence, and it’s despicable how low they will stoop. Someone tested this idea, to find out just how low their low road goes. The results make Monsanto look like angels.

Consider the ongoing willful ignorance of mutation breeding, aka "atomic gardening." “Angry citizens demand to know what is in their food... unless it is mutation bred, then not so much.”

The less-safe breeding method, “mutation breeding,” is already being used increasingly more without regulation or safety studies and with the same goals in mind for crops. Why does mutation breeding get a free pass? If we stopped Monsanto from using biotechnology, their goals would remain the same and they would just use the less safe process to get there.

While the demonizing of biotechnology and conventional farming has launched organic sales through the roof, Monsanto is also enjoying increased organic seed sales. Measure P stands to further stigmatize biotechnology which will further increase the use of mutation breeding, which is the breeding method most likely to produce unintended consequences. And it won’t hurt Monsanto a bit.

Chad badgeFunny, the right-to-know folks are usually the least informed about mutation breeding. Why don’t they label it? What are they hiding? Where are the safety tests? What about mutant-bred crops contaminating other crops? Herbicide tolerance has been developed with traditional breeding and mutation breeding too! If you are against herbicide resistance, then fine, but it does not make sense to be against the breeding method. The silence I repeatedly get on the subject of mutation breeding is worthy of scorn; it reveals a lack of integrity from the “anti” movement. It reduces their concerns to an absurdity, so they have to ignore this.

To err is human. We all make mistakes. We all get it wrong sometimes. The quantity of misinformation on this topic is truly overwhelming. Nobody questioning GMO claims deserves scorn. But to get it wrong and refuse to revise the position when confronted with disconfirming evidence is something we on the left abhor about those on the far right. I call it belief entrenchment.

I am quite embarrassed that liberals have adopted this same sort of dogmatic thinking when it comes to denying science on GMOs, the left have become as anti-science as the right. Stop that. When all disconfirming evidence becomes part of the cover up, and all contradictory views are accused of being shills; this sort of intellectual black hole is entirely void of having any sort of self-correcting mechanism in place from which to revise a false belief.

The anti-GMO movement’s most solid arguments rely on an unproven conspiracy narrative that robs them of intellectual honesty and the ability to reconsider. There are lots of problems in agriculture we could focus on; just think of all the problems we could solve if we stopped focusing on fabricated ones.

If the studies that John Schaefer and others mention are valid and really links them to various diseases, this would be huge. Many fail to see past the sensational headlines and look to what the peer reviews have to say, or if the study was yet published and where.

Something I learned from scientist Kevin Folta is that if his lab had a slight hint that GMOs were dangerous, he would do his best to repeat that study, get a collaborator to repeat it independently, and then publish the data on the covers of Science, Nature and every news outlet that would take it. IT WOULD ROCK THE WORLD, and he would be rich and famous.

Showing that 70-something percent of our food was poisonous? That would be a HUGE story – “we are talking Nobel Prize and free Amy’s Organic Pot Pies for life!”

Finding the rulebreakers is what they are in it for, but to break rules takes massive, rigorous data. So far, they don’t even have a good thread of evidence to start with. Proponents of GE who are experts on the subject have a lot to gain if they can demonstrate the danger of any GE crop. While accusations fly about the profit motives of sources, rarely are the profit motives of the loudest anti-GMO voices questioned. But just look who is getting paid to speak on GMOs and who is not. And consider the fact that the more this technology is vilified unfairly, the more profits the billion dollar organic industry has to gain.

Not only are those who can afford choice changing it for those who can’t, we are missing massive opportunities to help more people, change the environmental impact and help change food nutrition. Very sad.

Let’s explore whether we really want to find the common enemy in those who sit on the other side of the GMO debate, or whether it is more productive to work together against some of our “real” common enemies — poverty and hunger.

Given the grand challenges that face us agriculturally, environmentally and economically in the next 50 years, I’d rather our enemy be hunger than GMO politics. Collaboration might be the radical strategy we need to beat that enemy together. It’s true, we may not need any of the GMOs currently on the market here in Humboldt at this time. But it’s shameful to contribute to the ongoing superstitions since this affects the people around the world who need it most.

With a growing population and a changing climate, we need to grow food in ways that will not destroy us and the planet. Increased pest problems, droughts, floods and plant diseases could very well affect our future, and it would be wise not to prohibit any possible future solutions.

GMOs are no silver bullet, but we as a species should keep all the tools available to us.

“P” is for Pseudoscience, Poverty, Prejudice, and Prohibition; say NO and support sustainability and science.

A badly needed resource.

A great introduction to GE technology.

A continually instructive forum

A searchable database of peer-reviewed research on the relative risks of genetically engineered crops, half of which are independently funded and researched.

Chad White is a local hippie, skeptic and science  fan.

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  1. So Kali said:

    Monsanto ate Larkin’s little brain and is still hungry…..

  2. So Kali said:

    Who can be more Ignorant that the “Right to Not Know” folks?

  3. Zoltanwelvart said:

    Organic now usually based on organic human sewage.roasted.i found 2meter deposit plankton.where am I?

  4. Kevin Hoover said:

    That costs a lot of money. The No on P people have no budget; it’s all grassroots.

  5. California Conservative said:

    I wish you had wrote this and submitted it to the anti measure P column on the ballot. There is no argument against measure P submitted (at least when I got my vote by mail ballot).

  6. Warren Lauzon said:

    Organics is the most successful marketing of a placebo in history.

  7. Warren Lauzon said:

    He is entirely correct about this “. the right-to-know folks are usually the least informed.”. In fact, the real fanatics on the issue almost seem to be proud of being ignorant.

  8. Mischa Popoff said:

    Chad should be commended for pointing the finger at the multibillion dollar organic industry. For urban organic activists, being anti-GMO is nothing but good business.

  9. Larkin Curtis Hannah said:

    We should also think about protoplast fusions as well. Here crosses are made that cannot occur naturally and the progeny from those crosses are used commercially. There are infinitely more unknown genetic changes with this technology compared to the new gene technology, yet none of the members of the organic cult even mention this. Why is that? Because they can’t not exploit this to increase their market share. It is all about market share and making money.

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