The GMO Hysteria

The NY Times has an excellent piece about the passing of a GMO ban in Hawaii

SMS thumb CezanneThe sad truth about the debate over GMO is that the opponents, largely from the left,  are so illiterate about science that they have as their partners the radical right . .  One amazing example showed up last week when Cheerios announced a GMO free classic version.  What was removed, however, were sugar and starch derived from GMO plants.  Of course, Cheerios stands to profit from claiming the new product is GMO free.  The sorry truth is that these are chemicals like water.  sometimes sugar is just sugar.

The tactics of these liberal GMO phobes are the same as the tactics of the right wing climate denialists pile up massive amounts of half baked claims, wrap them in your causal colors and claim that science is on your side.  A good example is the question asked by one GMO phobe “Remember DDT?”  “GMO” is a method for breeding new traits, those traits certainly could be dangerous but the method is just a method. This question has NO relationship to GMO other than the use of three capitalized letters.  By the way, the evidence against DDT was gained by scientists after DDT had wiped malaria in Panama.

The result of the politics of mass phobias  is inanity.  With both climate denial and GMO phobia, real issues are lost.  Climate denialists evoke climate extremists and the climate issue are left behind. Corporate farming, over use of pesticides, domination of our food supply by cloned crops (including those modified by GMO), producing enough food to feed the world’s poor, creating crops that can resist the droughts coming because of global warming …. all these real issues  sadly, may be too difficult for the GMO phobes to understand.

I strongly recommend that you read the full article at The NY Times:


Urged on by Margaret Wille, the ban’s sponsor, who spoke passionately of the need to “act before it’s too late,” the Council declined to form a task force to look into such questions before its November vote. But Mr. Ilagan, 27, sought answers on his own. In the process, he found himself, like so many public and business leaders worldwide, wrestling with a subject in which popular beliefs often do not reflect scientific evidence.

At stake is how to grow healthful food most efficiently, at a time when a warming world and a growing population make that goal all the more urgent.

Scientists, who have come to rely on liberals in political battles over stem-cell research, climate change and the teaching of evolution, have been dismayed to find themselves at odds with their traditional allies on this issue. Some compare the hostility to G.M.O.s to the rejection of climate-change science, except with liberal opponents instead of conservative ones.

“These are my people, they’re lefties, I’m with them on almost everything,” said Michael Shintaku, a plant pathologist at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, who testified several times against the bill. “It hurts.”

But, supporters of the ban warned, scientists had not always correctly assessed the health and environmental risks of new technology. “Remember DDT?” one proponent demanded.

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