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?

The Real Tragedy of the GMO Free Marches

From Maui Now with Dustin Barca

Last week Sunday was yet another march against biotechnology on Maui.  There were quite a bit of pictures and videos posted throughout the internet showing several hundred people.

That makes me really sad to see that.  They were there to protest perceived evil corporations, alleged poisoning of the aina, and for saving humanity against chemicals.  These marchers were joined by this common cause that they felt compelled to have anger and hate towards.  They have been told over and over again that they are being poisoned and float in a state of persecution and paranoia.

These people joined together through the modern technology provided by corporations.  Many found out via Facebook and Twitter that there was to be this march.  Some even used corporate made planes and cars to get to that meet up.  They used ethanol fuel derived from the very thing that they were protesting.  There had to be a few that drove in GMO derived electric car batteries too.

As I looked closer at the marchers, I started to see that these people are not aware of the extent of how biotechnology is woven in our world.  I saw one of the leaders of the march, Dustin Barca, wearing leather shoes and cotton fatigues that likely came from GMO cow hide and GMO cotton grown in India or Pakistan.  Lots of people wore jeans and clothing that weren’t likely from organic cotton sources either.

It is pretty clear from the photos that were taken on corporate made devices and the marches were recorded on high tech cameras like GoPro ones.  Many used WiFi with it’s radio waves surrounding them with no idea of what they are being exposed to.  They downloaded videos onto corporate supported sites like YouTube and others to share their adventures to followers.  These marchers refuse to accept technology for farming but easily accept it in any other form or fashion if it supports their cause.

People also carried water bottles that came from GMO corn derivatives and had no thought in the world of how it was made.  Some even left the march and went out to eat at a GMO restaurant.  They screamed at how GMOs were being shoved down their throats and want it labeled, but go out to eat without any consideration of what they just said.

They walked in the hot sun under a lot of solar radiation with no fear in the world of what it was doing to the DNA in their skin.  They willingly exposed themselves to something that has proven harmful and modifies our genetics but all natural.  There was no screaming or yelling that they were having their DNA altered without their consent.

The marchers had signs that they didn’t like the chemicals being used on the seed farms.  There were hundreds of signs that were used in these marches.  What happened to them afterwards?  Did they save them to use for another march or was it thrown into the landfill where it can’t be recycled?  What impact did these hundreds and signs have on our aina?  Did it beautify our beautiful landscape or add to the trash pile of useless things and add blight to our islands?

Chemicals are very scary to these people even though they likely used them to protect their skin from the naturally occurring DNA altering radiation.  The marches willingly subject themselves with chemicals in sunscreens to stop the mutations caused by the natural radiation of the sun and have no fear of being exposed for hours at a time.

Signs were carried and painted on with some GMO derived soy paint or some artificial mixtures of chemicals used for acrylic paints.  They rinsed the brushes that contained these paints and added chemicals to the water sources that entered the sewer systems.  Not a blink of the eye occurred while doing such a thing with chemicals.  Some signs, like the surfboard, was sprayed with spray paint, which that user likely had some chemical drift from that they inhaled.  That person survived to protest that day despite the exposure.

Quite a few marchers wore tattoos and displayed them at their march.  These tattoos likely came from synthetic sources that they intentionally injected into their skin with no qualms about it.  The needles used to apply the tattoos were also disinfected with lab derived chemicals to prevent some spread of deadly diseases.  None of this crossed their minds.  The inks likely didn’t have any long term safety tests either but the marchers love to use it and aren’t afraid of it.  They then decry the precautionary principle but are willing take these unknown risks.

I did notice that some people had nicely highlighted or dyed hair also.  They directly applied chemicals to their hair and allowed it to be near skin so that their hair had nice colors and tints.  As I looked at some of the leaders of this movement, I find it hard to believe that they do not dye their hair.  I’ve never seen an older woman with jet black hair and such even curls.  There was not a thought in a world ever considered that this was a chemical and its impact on our aina and reefs.  It had to be rinsed down the drain and entered our waters with no thought of the real harm this could cause our earth.

The even sadder fact was that these people brought their children with them to protest something.  Kids got to be around adults screaming and cursing at Monsanto.  These kids even read the signs painted that GMO means death and they don’t even know what it means.  Kids should be opening their minds to what is going on the world but have slammed the door shut because of the fear and misinformation being fed to their parents. It only makes the next generation hide in a darker corner, so afraid of the science and technology dominating our world and the future.  They also will have a hate and distrust before they even had a chance to truly learn about the whole issue.

The protesters had lots of time to organize and plan these marches too and didn’t have to worry about where their next meal came from.  Some ate GMO snacks on the plane rides over that were offered on the flight.  Were they afraid of what it would do?  No, they ate it without question.  Did these same people have to worry leaving their farms to attend such a march?  No, they don’t farm and it’s pretty obvious with the time they have on their hands.  They directly benefit from the efficiency and productivity created by the ingenuity of the very farmers that they are protesting and don’t even know it.

So much human energy and resources have been put towards being against something.  They all walked together to protest but did they really do all of humans a favor that day?  Or was it a group of people that shared the same beliefs and ideology with no facts to base it upon?  Couldn’t this energy have been devoted to doing something good instead of sharing their common bond of fear and misinformation?  I think so.

The whole idea of people marching for this cause really shows how unaware of the impacts of biotech, and technology in general, has had in their lives.  These people will quickly make accusations against technology, but can’t even see how it has impacted their own lives for the better.  The tragedy in these social marches is that these people protest something they really have little to no awareness of and it obviously shows.

 

PBS Insights Contributes to the Farming Attacks

It’s amazing to me how PBS Insights has been supposedly leading the discussions about agriculture here in Hawaii.  When I’ve seen the past several episodes is extremely disappointing and actually infuriating to me.  From having an episode with Hector Valenzuela (aka Babes Against Biotech F*ck Monsanto sign holder) with social sciences candidate Andrea Brower and a magazine with Vandana Shiva on it, I am befuddled with where this station is leaning.  To add more insult is putting on Gary Hooser and his “18 tons” propaganda is totally disappointing.

These people are not farmers or the voice of farmers in Hawaii and why are they leading the charge to grow ag?  I somehow feel that it’s a ratings issue that they are trying to seek out.  Not only is that but there is also an unintended, or possibly intentional action, to continue to fuel the attacks against farmers.

The latest broadcast of PBS Insights included Mana Ai’s Daniel Anthony, Kanu Hawaii’s Kaleo Ten, DOH Peter Oshiro, and Center for Food Safety’s Kasha Ho.  (I can’t forget that Daniel Anthony posted a comment on a public forum telling Farmers for Choice to drink Roundup and that he’d bring the cup.)  Kanu Hawaii is a group that touts itself as “empowering people to build more environmentally sustainable, compassionate, and resilient communities rooted in personal commitments to change.”  Then finally the fact that Center for Food Safety is added on here, that already tells me that this is going to be full of misinformation from that activist group.

Watch the video here…

As I watched this, I had to shake my head.

  • Kasha Ho: “There is not enough land for people to farm on because of the agribusiness companies growing GMOs for export.” Of course she put NO facts out there which is typical of this group.  The reality is that there is 7% of agriculture land used by the seed companies and not all of it is GMOs.  Some of those lands are subleased to smaller farmers in ag parks to grow food.

 

  • Kasha Ho: “It’s about the right to know!”  No, it’s not about the right to know as stated by your boss.  Andrew Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety Executive Director stated, “We are going to force them to label this food, then we can organize people to not buy it.” http://bit.ly/1mIEOXN

 

  • Kaleo Ten: “Growing your own food is as easy as squeezing tomato seeds on some dirt.”  Um no, that isn’t always the case.  If it were true, more people would be growing their own and we’re not.

 

  • Kaleo Ten: “Eat local and then go organic.”  Organic isn’t any healthier than conventional and that is where the evidence leads.  That’s why the organic industry has to hit it hard with the fear mongering.

 

  • Host Mahealani Richardson: “Is wax safe to eat?” Um, yes, several fruits actually produce its own wax.  Food grade wax has been approved and helps with keeping the food fresh in shipping here.  Learn more about it from Best Food Facts.

It’s amazing to me that a publicly funded TV station is putting on activists groups like the Center for Food Safety.  They show science shows like NOVA and others that show what’s happening with technology and then feature the biggest anti-science folks on there.

Kasha Ho kept harping on get to know your farmer and so on.  How much do we really have to know?  Her comments made me think of this video.

Many of these guests kept harping on eat local grown and that’s going to help grow the local food supply here.  You’ve missed a huge part.  Where’s the farmer in this picture here?  How are we supporting our farmers keep doing what they do to grow local food?

It’s a crying shame to have this and saddening to me.