End the GMO Paranoia: Knowledge is the Key to Fighting Fear

Having worked in mental health for several years, it is really disturbing to me to see so many Hawaii folks wrapped up on the fear brigade against biotechnology.  I’ve seen so many people tormented by paranoia that their perceived.  Based on the kind of signs and posts people are putting the social media, it is pretty clear that: 1) They feel that they are being poisoned, 2) They don’t know what is legitimate sources of information or how to research it, and 3) Being told the same message over and over again makes them believe things without question. One of the biggest problems that I see in the whole issues around GMOs here in Hawaii is that the issue has been made very complex.  Joan Conrow chronicles this tale of a campaign of manipulation and misinformation by her post, “Feasting on Fear.”

The entire GMO issue has really become a huge tangled mess of information that an average person can’t figure out where to start to research some of the frequently repeated claims being made by the activists. To help those not well versed in the Hawaii GMO issue, I’ll list out some of the frequently stated claims that the anti-GMO activists keep making and refute it with some sources that don’t invoke fear but impart knowledge.

 

“I have a right to know what I’m eating”

This battle cry that people had a right to know was started back in 2012 with Representative Jessica Wooley’s push for a label of genetically modified foods.  She even brought some very well known organic lobbyers to Hawaii like Andrew Kimbrell of the seemingly innocuous Center for Food Safety.  Hawaii SEED also brought in Vandana Shiva to spread their propaganda about his so called right to know.  Many involved in the  push for this “right” really were saying something else of what their true intent was.  It really is a means of a ban. The truth of the matter is that the FDA did not pursue labeling because if the product was not shown to be different than conventional, there was no need for such a label.  This is also stated in the AMA guidelines for GE foods.  There is voluntary labeling guidelines available.

No Labeling Needed When Consumers Know the Whole Truth

 

“If it is so good for you, why don’t they just label it?”

This is a frequent comment made by many anti-GMO activists.  The basis of why many farmers are hesitant to label their for, even though there is no compositional differences than conventional, is the fear that has been created by the opposing industry.

Here’s some great sources on why people are fighting the labeling.  The heavy laden fear tactics being carried out the anti-GMO groups like the Organic Consumers’ Association and the EarthJustice have created a huge stigma against something that has no compositional difference.  Simple curiosity of wanting to know something also does not necessitate the need for a label under the FDA.

Jimmy Botella’s “Waiter, There’s a Gene in My Soup!” Video

Why Labeling GMOs is Bad for People and the Environment

California’s Anti-GMO Hysteria

The GMO Labeling Debate

GMO Opponents Use Fear and Deception to Advance their Cause

“GMOs means pesticides”

When the anti-GMO club starts stating this, it only shows me that leaders like Gary Hooser and others really have no clue as to what they are talking about.  The very term, genetically modified organism does not automatically mean a pesticide.  It really is a technology.  The genetic engineering of insulin to treat diabetes is completely different to that of the GE of papaya as is also applies to the corn.  To group the entire technology under a big black dark umbrella of evil is completely misguided and a part of the disinformation campaigns of the fear mongers.  Just because Gary said it 100x doesn’t make it true.

How GMOs are Created

Use and Impact of Bt Maize

How Bt Works

The Promise of GMOs

GMOs Would Feed the World With Fewer Pesticides

Why I’m Going to Hawaii to Defend Maize Winter Nurseries

“GMOs Have to be 100% safe!”

This frequently thrown out phrase is invoking the precautionary principle that translates into, “Do do anything until it is 100% proven safe.”  It is also know as the paralyzing principle.  Nothing is ever 100% safe, ever.  Learn more about why this principle doesn’t make any sense to apply it in nearly any sense.

Impact of the Precautionary Principle on Feeding Current and Future Generations

By Removing A Risk, Are we Limiting Finding Solutions to the Problem?

“We Don’t Need any Chemicals on Our Food!”

When people start resorting to this commentary, it really shows how far the understanding of food production we really are as well as a basic understanding of science.  We are all made up of chemicals!  Everything we eat are chemicals!  Not all chemicals is bad either.  Chemicals join together to form substances.

People have been told that chemicals are being applied to our food.  Yes it is.  On both organic food and conventional.  The growing of food includes reducing pests like weeds and bugs, hence the need for its applications.  The pests stress the plants and can cause or make the plant prone to a host of diseases or increase naturally produced toxins that are harmful, like mycotoxins.  The less stress on a plant also helps to increase the yields and quality of the produce.  These inputs are necessary to get the end product, which is what we eat.

We Need Good Science, Not Chemophobia

The Dose that Makes the Poison

Naturally Occurring Toxins in Foods

Mythbusing 101: Organic Farming > Conventional Farming

“There are real dangers caused by GMOs!

Many of the believers of the anti-GMO movement likely got their sources of information from movies like Seeds of Deception, Genetic Roulette, OMG GMO, and so on.  These are movies folks, not a documentary and they don’t provide any resources to back their claims up.  Movies are also created to stir emotions and don’t necessarily reflect any facts because that is what it’s intent is.  If you are scared after watching it, you’ve taken it hook, line, and sinker.  The claims made in these movies are outrageous but some people, actually the Millions Against Monsanto haven’t figured out how to take a skeptical look at it.

Can your Rose Catch Your Cold? The Threat of a Killer Viral Plant Gene is the Latest Anti-GMO Rant

Press Digs into the Anti-GMO Study

GMOs Causes Leukemia! Think Again

FSANZ Response to Study Linking Cry1Ab Protein in Blood to GM Foods

Condemning Monsanto with Bad Science is Dumb

Was the Seralini GMO Study Designed to Generate Negative Press?

More Junk Science is the Carman Pig Study: Seralini 2.0

Fake Anti-GMO Study Stokes Alarm

Letter to the Editor Re: Seralini Study

GMO Opponents are Skewing the Science to Scare People

RoundUp in the Air: What the Report Really Says

 

“Monsanto Has Bought the Government!”

As soon as someone utters, “Monsanto.” You know these folks have not done their due diligence in researching out the truth of the matter.  These are the same people that believe in the big pharma conspiracy and chemtrails.  Monsanto has become the straw man of sorts for them and the big bogey man of evil.  It’s really quite sad that they keep dropping the M bomb not realizing they’ve automatically invalidated their whole stance against GMOs.  Even Senator Brian Schatz and Representative Tulsi Gabbard joined in on this.

Exposing the Anti-GMO Legal Machine: The Real Story behind the So Called Monsanto Protection Act

Argumentum ad Monsantium

I Love Monsanto *note on language*

“Anyone Who Supports GMOs are paid!”

When the anti-GMO club has no other arguments left, they will cry this out.  (By the way, I received NO money in any form or fashion to blog any of this, even though it would be nice.  I am just losing patience for the crazy things being said by lots of people and it’s time to lead them to real information.)  When anyone does the cry’er o shill bit, it simply means they have no facts, evidence, or anything else to support their stance.

Shill Gambit-RationalWiki

Why Calling Someone A Shill Betrays the Weakness of Your Position and Your Inability to Defend it

Logical Fallacies-The Shill Gambit

“Stop messing with nature!”

Let’s face it, farming is not natural.  Nature isn’t feeding us and humans have been tinkering with nature for since 10,000 B.C.  It shouldn’t be surprising, but it is, that we have advanced so far with the growing of food.  Wikipedia has a great source of the history of agriculture that you can read through.

We’ve also had great advances in agriculture also in the last century that has revolutionized the world.  One key person that few people know of is Norman Borlaug.  He is the father of the Green Revolution that changed how we grow things more efficiently.  No longer do the majority of people have to grow food, but it has made farmers look towards more efficient ways of farming to minimize their environmental impact.  This is why farmers keep stating the phrase, “Feed the world!”  The 1 to 2% of the population is feeding the majority because of technological innovations.

When technology advances far faster than the average person can follow, we have a huge population who have little to no clue as to what has been happening.  In an attempt to bring those who want to learn up to speed, here are some of my favorite resources about understanding evidence based science and genetics.

The Scientific Method by Science Made Simple

Are GMOs Safe? Independent Science Organizations Weigh In

Massive Review Reveals Consensus on GMO Safety

What is DNA?

What is a Gene?

Norman Borlaug: A Lifetime of Fighting Hunger

Greatest Man to Ever Live: Norman Borlaug *note on language*

As you can see, the issues surrounding GMOs has really become a mangled mess of misinformation by people like the Babes Against Biotech and now the SHAKA Movement in Maui.  There’s a lot to learn about what’s being said and confusion as to know what the truth is.  If you notice carefully, I do not put sites like Sustainable Pulse, a Babes Against Biotech favorite propaganda site with cherry picked information, or Natural News.  Nor do I use Real Farmacy, Dr. Mercola, Green Med Info, Natural Cures Not Medicine, and so on, as they all use cherry picked info to get you to believe in the fear around this technology.  Even science sounding sites like Earth Open Source and the Union of Concerned Scientists are another bunch of fear mongers out to scare you.

If you got your information from a meme on Facebook, don’t just believe it.  Research it but do it right.  Google works wonders if you know how to use it.  If you’re wondering about something being posted, add the word “debunk” to it and you will see a different picture.  The first clue to know you’re being taken for a ride is to ask yourself if what you read scares you.  If so, do your homework and research it out more and avoid the sites listed above.  End the fear and paranoia with real knowledge by doing your homework!

If you still are afraid of GMOs after reading this, ask yourself if you’re afraid to eat a banana.  That indeed is a modified organism and have you turned into a banana today?

12 thoughts on “End the GMO Paranoia: Knowledge is the Key to Fighting Fear

  1. Common sense…very nicely presented. Thank you for all you do to bring reason to this issue tearing apart our island. Aloha!

  2. Yeah. I’m really tired of people being frightened of GMO foods. I do wish they were labelled though so I could eat nothing but GMO foods. If they are doing 3 month tests on rats and no cancers are found it has to be safe. I want the most technically advanced foods available. I can then adapt to the technology and this will make me live longer!!

  3. ” One key person that few people know of is Norman Borlaug.”

    This is enough to make me comment. Is anyone aware of the gluten-free craze? No? Never heard of it? Living with your head under a rock maybe?

    Why the gluten-free craze? Why so many refusing to eat wheat, all of a sudden? Does it ever occur to these biotech engineers that they’re making this problem for themselves? Norman Borlaug was heralded as someone who greatly relieved world hunger. I personally label him as the main who greatly burdened the world with intestinal disorders, autoimmune diseases, and general symptoms of chronic fatigue, irritability, and migraine headaches.

    It turns out that it’s not actually gluten that’s the culprit, in many cases. It’s the wheat, and it’s the modern processing methods. I have personally experienced, in a very real way, the craziness that comes with eating modern processed flour. I have also learned, thank God, that my body is perfectly fine with stone-ground ancient grain flour. I don’t think I need to carry on at length about it here; there are articles on the web that describe some of the health issues, and the reasons for them. Let’s just say that my entire intestinal tract would be a lot better off if Norman Borlaug had never been born. Or at least, if he’d never experimented (butchered) the good old staple of human food. And I venture to say I’m not alone in this. Ancient grain flour, stone ground, is fast gaining traction among members of my family and acquaintance. Yes, even quite a few of the skeptical ones!

    Grab yourself a coffee, and go to Bing or Google and search “ancient grains vs modern wheat.” Do I understand all of the science behind this? No, not all of it; though some has been explained to me by a very talented physician, and makes sense.

    Too often, those who are spreading doubt about biotech are dismissed because they don’t know the science. Do we all have to study science to know that we just don’t feel good when we eat one thing, and feel fine when we eat another? Let’s not dismiss those whom we presume don’t know as much as we do.

    You talk about “cherry picking data;” you accuse the natural-side folks of it. And in the next breath you tell us to avoid certain sites. Cherry picking is alive and well here!

      • I am not sure if I totally understand your reply; not sure which statement I made was “a key statement.” But consider this:

        My minivan accelerates much faster than my pickup truck does. I have never hired scientists to perform studies and controlled acceleration tests of the two vehicles and provide me their test results. I have never even timed 0-60 runs with a stopwatch. But I know that if a truly unbiased scientist, or auto reviewer, or whatever, did perform some sort of standardized auto testing (silly as this may sound), they would arrive at the same conclusion. Why am I so sure? Well, every time I happen to be in a hurry in either vehicle and mash the throttle, I experience the difference beyond any doubt.

        My eating experience is very similar. Have I hunted down all sorts of unbiased science journals detailing all the differences between ancient grain and today’s highly hybridized wheat? On stone grinding vs high speed, high temperature steel milling? On the health effects of taking out the wheat germ, the bran, the oil, the vitamins? No, I have not. But just as I don’t need “professionals” to tell me that my van provides a more pleasing takeoff experience than my truck, I also don’t need any “professionals” to tell me when I feel good and when I feel sick. And my wife and I have done enough experimentation to know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Norman Borlaug’s “wonderful, world-saving wheat” absolutely does not agree with my digestive system. Nor the digestive system of at least two of our children. We are by no means alone in this.

        From the example I give above, I hope you can understand that this notion that folks need “hard science” before they talk about anything is flawed.

      • Great. Please continue to do your science. As for others, your anecdotal evidence may not apply to them. The body of science will suffice for the majority of others.

        Have you farmed to know what it takes? That might give you more insight into this field. Even plant breeding knowledge may give you more insight.

        Learn science. Learn more, Google less.

  4. “Anecdotal evidence.” You sound like all the rest of the biotech supporters. With those two words, people dismiss all sorts of evidence that they’d rather not have been exposed to, or don’t want to know the facts about. I could list lots more folks who have noticed the exact same results, but I know that I could talk all day without convincing folks of your stripe.

    Yes, I know what farming is. I was raised in farming community, and our family farmed as a hobby. We raised non-GMO crops, didn’t use artificial fertilizers… and had a great time working the fields, hauling in the hay (small squares), etc. I currently work for a large family farm. I am aware of the new weeds popping up seemingly out of nowhere, and the stronger and stronger chemicals needed to control them. Even the farm manager, who is pro-biotech, shakes his head over the new weed varieties that weren’t even around in his childhood.

    We live on a small country property and grow some produce for sale. All of it non-GMO of course. Yes, I know how hard weed control is. But we aren’t spraying. Those chemicals have to go somewhere, and you don’t need to be a scientist to figure out that what goes into the soil, eventually ends up in humans somehow. Through the food, or through the water supply… come on, think critically! I have seen Roundup, Banvel, Integrity, more… and I shake my head that less than a litre per acre is enough. How strong is that stuff? No wonder all the dire warnings on the bottle, the need to wear body protection when mixing it, etc. And we are spraying that on the land, and on the crops which our animals eat. And has the weed problem gone away? Yes, it did at first; but it’s returning, and more sinister than before.

    In no way am I against farmers, and I know that many of them believe they are truly doing what is best. Many of them innocently believe that biotech is key to ending world hunger; but they’ve been fed this from pro-biotech meetings, from pro-biotech agronomists, and big glossy ads in the farm publications.

    But I digress. I don’t expect to convince you, and I likely won’t reply again. I’m not interested in a pointless word battle. I just felt compelled to speak up so visitors to a pro-biotech site can read a little of the other side of the story. If I help someone to think outside the box, to realize that just perhaps the transgenic engineers have scientists under their belts working to produce results they want, then I’ve accomplished my goal. There is more to the whole story than “ending world hunger.” These corporations want to succeed as badly as the rest of us businessmen do, and I don’t begrudge them on that point alone; but their agenda and their marginalizing of true science is shocking.

    In all respect! A good day to you. Keep an open mind, and challenge yourself to dig deeper than the surface. Bribery, trickery, and deceit have been alive and well in the world almost since Creation. Anyone who thinks this problem has gone away has his / her head in the sand.

    • Do you understand the concept of feeding the world? It means making sure people can have their basic needs met and it leads to global stability. The evidence shows that well fed people are more productive and can function better.

      If you don’t want your children to go to war, you’d be well served by learning about feeding the world and look beyond the non-GMO and organic marketing ploys. It’s simply not sustainable at a global level.

      • Well, I thought I wouldn’t reply again. One more comment! 🙂

        Organic methods were sustainable at a global level for 6,000 years. Suddenly we’ve gotten this grandiose notion it’s not working any more! The sky is falling, run for dear life!

        We have lots of food, unevenly distributed. How much perfectly good food do we waste due to our wasteful practices? Some examples:

        – Whole cattle get discarded at processing plants just because they have a little limp. They are perfectly fine otherwise, and there would certainly be nothing wrong with their meat. I used to haul several truckloads of cattle per week into a Cargill facility in Guelph, Ontario; and I saw it happening there. (at the time, I worked for a feedlot with > 10,000 beef) The CFIA and other similar agencies have gone extremely overboard, and a lot of great meat is rotting on compost piles thanks to all the bureaucracy.

        – Restaurants dump out a whole batch of fries if it has sat more than a specified number of minutes without being sold. And I doubt this only applies to fries. I mention them because I’ve seen it happen.

        – Greedy folks with “eyes bigger than stomach” eat way more than they ought to, and are terrifically obese. Now I’m not saying that everyone who’s overweight has an eating problem. But many do. And when you hear of restaurants installing larger drains so they can handle folks puking up their excess… it grosses you out. And makes you shake your head at the waste.

        – Best before dates are the cause of a whole lot of pitching. Expired? Out it goes. Some of it gets sold at reduced prices, which I think is a great idea. But a lot of it also goes to waste.

        – Much is lost in transport. I don’t suppose this can be totally avoided, but it factors in.

        – Countries at war suffer tremendous waste as the countrysides are ravaged.

        I read a science report recently which said there’s more food than the current population can eat; it’s only uneven distribution and waste that keeps people starving. And I must say, it’s easily believable.

        And global warming —- well, I won’t go there. Just one remark on this. If 130 world leaders get together and all agree the earth is warming up, it is very likely to mean a whole lot more about political maneuvering than actual climactic concerns.

      • Fun fact: The National Organic Program was created by an act of Congress. It falls under the USDA agricultural marketing service. It’s to sell things including fear. BTW Seeds of Deception is a fictional movie, not based in factual evidence.

    • If you seriously believe that biotech is all funded by corporations, you’re wrong at a huge level. Ask who funds research in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, and Nigeria? It’s not Monsanto.

      Good day to you and please do some real research about biotech. The world deserves it.

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