Progressives Need to Reject GMO Truthers

Progressives Need to Reject Gwyneth Paltrow and Embrace Science

While conservatives cite religion, ideology, faith, tradition, and keeping the status quo; liberals and progressives have always prided themselves on embracing technological advancement, science, reason, and beneficial social change. GMOs are the embodiment of all things so greatly value. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the use of GMOs and suspend irrational fear and suspicion.


GMOs Reduce Hunger World Wide

GMOs have done more to benefit the world and reduce hunger than almost any other recent advancement. Paul Berg, the American biochemist and Stanford professor that helped develop the practice won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1980. In essence, modifying the gene structure of food organisms does something that we humans have been doing for years: selective breeding.

Except instead of doing selective breeding in the field through trial and error, scientists now do it in a controlled lab setting. It’s the modern day advancement on an ancient practice. Throughout the history of agriculture, if a farmer wanted a heartier, bigger tomato, he or she would cross­breed various species of plants until achieving the desired outcome. This sometimes took years and was rarely done with scientific precision, and often with some unanticipated and negative consequences.

But today, an agricultural scientist can isolate a gene from one plant and add it to another plant in a lab.  As a result, we can have heartier, even more nutritious crops.

GMOs Don’t Cause Any Adverse Health Consequences

After countless studies, we have yet to see any evidence that GMOs lead to cancer, autism, or any other disease that the fear mongers and GMO truthers claim GMOs cause. The widely cited GMO corn tumor link, for example, has been debunked. In addition, genetic modification does not result in more toxins in food.

The only way a GMO could be toxic is if a food scientist did so intentionally. Theoretically, a scientist could, if she wanted to, add a gene to a tomato that causes it to produce arsenic. Or she could just inject a tomato with arsenic. But neither scenario is really very likely, so it’s not something we need to waste our brain space worrying about.

GMO Labeling is a Pretty Stupid Idea

Like starving yourself to lose weight when you’re broke, GMO labeling is a pretty stupid idea.

Recently, there has been a swell of support behind labeling GMO products in grocery stores, and a labeling question has even made it on a state election ballot. Proponents of labels argue that if GMOs are harmful, consumers have a right to know what foods contain them. And if they are not harmful, then there is no harm in having the label.

This argument is flawed in a number of ways. First, we generally require labeling only if something has been shown to be harmful as there is a cost in requiring producers to label and would also signal that the products should be avoided.

In the case of GMOs, there hasn’t been one study showing that it is in fact harmful. We can’t and shouldn’t do something simply to indulge people’s ignorance.

Also, GMO is a tool – it’s not a product. Labeling a tool rather than a product is problematic. Why not then label wheat that was picked by combine rather than by hand?

And finally, consumers are confused about food and nutrition as it is. The last thing we need is another label that doesn’t offer the customer any new information. The effect of over-labeling is to inoculate consumers. Too many warnings just cause consumers to tune them out. This is a pretty serious concern as there are some actually legitimate purposes to food labeling and which will only be undermined.

Anti-GMO is Anti-Science

Do corporations stand to gain from the proliferation of GMOs? Almost certainly – just as corporations stand to gain from the proliferation of computers, vaccinations, and automobiles. Are there advancements in agriculture that harm public health? Yes, and there are certainly reasons for the public to be educated about the food they consume.

But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Before jumping on the anti-GMO bandwagon, look at the actual science. Agricultural advancements have tremendous potential to improve nutrition and feed our ever-shrinking planet. GMO fear-mongers, including the likes of celebrities who yearn for greater relevancy, only undermine the efforts of those who work to improve the quality of the lives of millions of people around the world.