Just a few days ago, my 9 year old daughter came home from school and asked me, ” Mom, does GMO corn make holes in rats’ stomachs?” I have to say that I was literally floored. I asked her where she heard that. She said that she has a GMO debate in her 4th grade class and she read it in her book.
I asked her to bring the book home since I wanted to read it for myself. She brought it as requested and I was just shocked with what was presented. The textbook was a literature anthology that supposedly presented a controversy.
Here’s the whole text of what was being presented.
This chapter presented both a farmer’s perspective as well as a consumer’s perspective. The issue I had with the consumer’s view was that it is chockful of misinformation about this technology. It’s being presented to 9 year olds as “facts” and it likely goes home to parents who don’t know much about GMOs either. This audience isn’t likely going to know how to research what is being stated as fact. I’m extremely disappointed with the Department of Education in selecting this book.
If you take a closer look at the photo on the page, it’s clear to see the source of this misinformation. It’s wealthy paid activists touting this to schoolchildren.
I’m not a happy parent knowing that these are the things being introduced to my child. It scares them and uses false information to make them believe. It also shows me how easy it is to manipulate young minds with scare stories and how quick these kids pick up on it. My daughter was really scared when she heard this. Who wouldn’t be if you don’t quite understand the controversy?
All I can say is that if our educational system plans on using these types of textbooks, it’s no wonder less kids want to consider science and technology fields when science is presented in a black and white context. I hope that education opens minds and provides possibilities that will continually strive to make our world better. Promoting fear and misinformation does nothing to inspire a child to think outside the box when looking at the world.
My hope is that my child sees the wonderment of science and technology and learns to not to fear what she hears. I’m glad that she took initiative to ask me about what she read. It gives me the perfect lesson on how to think critically about things. It’s a lesson I hope she continues to use throughout her life.