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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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?