GMO and FUD

William Saletan calls it an Unhealthy Fixation, that is “The war against genetically modified organisms is full of fearmongering, errors, and fraud. Labeling them will not make you safer.”

I’ve spent much of the past year digging into the evidence. Here’s what I’ve learned. First, it’s true that the issue is complicated. But the deeper you dig, the more fraud you find in the case against GMOs. It’s full of errors, fallacies, misconceptions, misrepresentations, and lies. The people who tell you that Monsanto is hiding the truth are themselves hiding evidence that their own allegations about GMOs are false. They’re counting on you to feel overwhelmed by the science and to accept, as a gut presumption, their message of distrust.

Some people, to this day, believe GE papayas are dangerous. They want more studies. They’ll always want more studies. They call themselves skeptics. But when you cling to an unsubstantiated belief, even after two decades of research and experience, that’s not skepticism. It’s dogma.

That’s the fundamental flaw in the anti-GMO movement. It only pretends to inform you. When you push past its dogmas and examine the evidence, you realize that the movement’s fixation on genetic engineering has been an enormous mistake. The principles it claims to stand for—environmental protection, public health, community agriculture—are better served by considering the facts of each case than by treating GMOs, categorically, as a proxy for all that’s wrong with the world. That’s the truth, in all its messy complexity. Too bad it won’t fit on a label.

One thing we’ve learned is that fear of GMOs is unfalsifiable. … Another thing we’ve learned is that it makes no sense to avoid GMOs based on standards that nobody applies to non-GMO food. … A third lesson is that GMO segregation, in the form of labels or GMO-free restaurants, is misguided. … The people who push GMO labels and GMO-free shopping aren’t informing you or protecting you. They’re using you.

That’s what genetic engineering can do for health and for our planet. The reason it hasn’t is that we’ve been stuck in a stupid, wasteful fight over GMOs. On one side is an army of quacks and pseudo-environmentalists waging a leftist war on science. On the other side are corporate cowards who would rather stick to profitable weed-killing than invest in products that might offend a suspicious public. The only way to end this fight is to educate ourselves and make it clear to everyone—European governments, trend-setting grocers, fad-hopping restaurant chains, research universities, and biotechnology investors—that we’re ready, as voters and consumers, to embrace nutritious, environmentally friendly food, no matter where it got its genes. We want our GMOs. Now, show us what you can do.

The behavior is the same as with climate change alarmists. The results with both false ideologies are to burden the less fortunate. In one case with an increased cost of food and in the other with an increased cost of energy. The advocates think they are doing “God’s work” but don’t seem to consider the implications of what they advocate nor to realize the depths to which they have sunk trying to rationalize and excuse their ideologies.

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