I’ve often said that the opposition to genetically modified food ingredients is the left’s version of climate change denialism. This year both in Oregon and Hawaii (two pretty solidly liberal states) – as well as Colorado – there are measures on the ballot that fly in the face of science, and head straight on down the road to the wacky world of conspiracies and food scaremongering that is a rich market for grifters like Dr. Oz, Mike Adams from Natural News, or Vani Hari, AKA Food Babe.
The usual response from the anti-GMO crowd when I call out their denial of overwhelming evidence and compare it to the fundamentalist Christian push to teach creationism in schools is fairly predictable. It usually involves calling me a paid shill (I wouldn’t be driving a beat up 22-year-old truck if that was the case), calling me a “sheep” and saying “you need to do your research” (I have), or making the same old statement “people have the right to know what’s in their food,” followed by some rant about how Monsanto wants to poison the world. Listen, I’ve heard every single one of the arguments for the outright ban on GE farming in Hawaii or the labeling laws in Oregon and Colorado, and they just don’t make any scientific or business sense.
First of all, if we are going to mock conservatives for denying climate change or creationists for believing the world is only a few thousand years old despite overwhelming evidence to refute their claims, then we need to be consistent when we’re addressing issues that involve science as well. While the use of pesticides and other farming practices that are used both with GE and conventional crops are worth addressing, banning a type of crop based on hysterical science denial is ridiculous. Furthermore, laws and moratoriums based on emotion instead of logic and science tend to do more harm than good, as the Star Advertiser points out:
The growth of the genetically modified organism (GMO) seed development industry in Hawaii has generated a great deal of community anxiety, and the community has responded with efforts to curtail the activity. On Kauai, an ordinance was passed to impose restrictions, a law ultimately struck down for overstepping the county’s authority. On Maui, opponents of what’s also called genetic engineering (GE) have put a measure on the ballot that seeks to stop GE farming.
In both cases, the impulse to rein in the agribusinesses falters because the focus has been too broad. The proposed Maui charter amendment for a “temporary moratorium” in particular represents a blunt instrument, one that could do more harm than good as it is now configured. (Source)
As for the question of the label laws that are being pushed by “Right To Know Colorado” and other anti-GE technology scare artists, there’s already a bunch of companies that label their food as “non-GMO.” There’s actually a cereal bar on my desk right now with a label that proudly proclaims it is “all natural NON GMO,” and if companies want to voluntarily do that, that’s entirely up to them and the people who buy their products. So kindly stop pretending (like Wendy Culverwell from the Portland Business Journal) that because companies are spending money on defeating your asinine laws, that somehow means they have something to hide about the quality or safety of their products. By the same logic they’re using, why would anybody accused of a crime hire a lawyer if they were actually innocent? Surely then by spending money on a lawyer to defend yourself, you must have something to hide.
But not to worry, labeling law supporters; I have come up with a solution that gives you a label after all. I’ve visualized a cool label that these companies that use GE technology can put on their food since you insist on passing laws forcing them to put a label on their own products despite any scientific evidence to back you up. It can look like a superhero logo with the words “includes genetically-enhanced ingredients,” and we can put it right next to the kosher symbol that is on thousands of food packages. You wanted a label? There you go.
Oh what’s that? That isn’t good enough for you? You wanted a label so what’s wrong with that? Or perhaps now you can drop your “right to know” shtick and admit what this is really about – demonizing a technology regardless of the fact that there are thousands of scientific studies proving that it is safe. The label isn’t about informing the public, it’s about your relentless scaremongering and wanting to forcibly require a label to falsely legitimize your blatant falsehoods and appeal to nature fallacies. It’s about getting people to buy your product, due not to superior quality, but out of fear and ignorance. That’s all it ever was about.
Chris Byrne sums the labeling law issue up here:
“I have no problem with it voluntarily but am against it as a regulatory mandate…. and I’m against it in general as a lover of science and truth; because anti-GMO hysteria is pandering to the stupid, the ignorant, the anti-science, and to those who would manipulate them for their own personal agenda and benefit.” (Source)
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