On May 8th, Vermont became the first US state to require labels on food with genetically modified ingredients, a historic landmark for anti-GMO, anti-Monsanto activists. In the anti-GMO/Monsanto campaign, I see a lot of misinformation, scare tactics and an opportunity for organic food companies to expand their market reach. Scaremongering and relying on easily digestable talking points has been the modus operandi for manipulating the uninformed masses since the beginning of human civilization, and it’s rather interesting that people who say that they just “want people to know what’s in their food” in the name of transparency are using misinformation to accomplish their mission.
Industrial farming is indeed a very real problem for both our health and the environment. The Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone seen in this video is an ecological disaster caused by fertilizers used in industrial farming as well as runoff from those perfectly green, manicured lawns from subdivisions across the Midwest. In addition, herbicides and pesticides are also hazardous to us, as well as the rest of the ecosystem. We have facts and scientific research to show that herbicides and pesticides are indeed harmful. But what we don’t have is any real evidence out there that GM plants themselves are actually toxic to human beings, despite all the science-ignoring signs about “Frankenfood” that we see both on Facebook and at anti-Monsanto rallies. Yes I said it, when it comes to the science on vaccines or Monsanto, the left has a problem with ignoring science just like they accuse the right of when it comes to climate change. To go further, I’d be willing to bet that quite a few people in the upcoming “March Against Monsanto” could not name another company that also produces genetically modified seeds. Many also have little to no knowledge of how genetic modification works or that it has actually been done since the first humans began farming.
I’m not by any stretch of the imagination a supporter of Monsanto, nor any other major corporation that seeks to create a stranglehold on a market. However, the false information and hysterical comparisons to Frankenstein aren’t going to make me jump on the anti-GMO bandwagon unless I see some consistent scientific data that shows an actual health risk from the product itself. As I previously wrote:
Let’s get one thing clear — I’m no fan of Monsanto. As a health conscious, gluten-intolerant person who tries to follow a healthy diet, I don’t like the idea of companies trying to hide their suppliers and ingredients, but some of the absolutely insane conspiracy theories pushed by for-profit entities against Monsanto and others only hurts the legitimacy of a worthwhile cause. It’s incredibly frustrating to be called a shill for Big Pharma or Monsanto when all I’m trying to do is lend some common sense to the argument. Over and over again, we hear people talk about “chem-trails” or how food companies are trying to poison us while citing some fear-mongering website like Infowars or Natural News as “proof” that the Illuminati or other secret society is behind it all. (Source)
As people loudly celebrate the new labeling law that was passed in Vermont (which will certainly run into legal challenges that cite the commerce clause), let’s take a look at who will benefit from this if it is upheld. It will certainly affect companies that rely on GM plants from Monsanto and other companies as part of large scale industrial farming. It will also very likely will drive consumers who are already fearful of a tomato genetically engineered to ripen more slowly to demand “natural” grains and vegetables which will in turn drive food costs up. Why? Because “organic” products cost more and labeling something as having ingredients which have not been scientifically determined to be harmful will cause uninformed people to abandon products with a label forced upon it by legislation. Who stands to benefit from this market upheaval? The “organic” food industry, that’s who. And while I fully support locally-grown, organic foods, I also have a serious problem with people using misinformation and scare tactics to undermine the competition and bolster their cause.
Before you start drawing your “Frankenfood” signs and posing for photos next to your local grocery store, please take what I have said into consideration. Yes, we should be concerned about what is in our food and yes, we should always research every product that goes on the market as much as we possibly can. But making broad, uneducated statements based off NaturalNews or some other company that is trying to sell you another product is asinine and it only detracts from a movement. We need independent research, not funded by either organic food companies or Monsanto, that once and for all decides which, if any, genetically modified organisms are harmful or safe. And no, one retracted study on GMO corn does not count as proof. As the world’s population continues to grow, we are going to have to find ways to both feed the planet and not completely poison it at the same time with herbicides, fertilizers and other chemicals relied upon by industrial farming operations – and uninformed, emotion-only activism isn’t going to get us there. In fact, it could only make things worse.
Note: my opinion has changed since this was written. See here.
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