Series: The Benevolent Side of GMOs
Note: The original title to this post was Progress Can Be A Real Quagmire
Today I present another plot twist in the strange – or refreshing (depending on whose side you’re on) story of how I, a former anti-GMO blogger, moderated my views in the course of one month. If you’re new to this tale, these posts will bring you up to date: Science Is Laughing At Us, How To Temper An Anti-GMO Blogger and My Conversation With a Scientist, Part One.
Since late March, 2013, Dr. Kevin Folta, University of Florida, molecular biologist, and I have been exchanging emails. After much discourse, a handful of prickly comments in bold caps, some pleading and a lot of really good information, I have something in common with Mark Lynas – I discovered science! (At one time I wanted to punch Lynas in the face. Now I want to throw him a high five.)
As this monumental transformation was happening, Folta expressed an interest in having me answer some of his questions, 12 of them to be exact, the idea being to understand the movement’s point of view. What drives an anti-GMO blogger? Why do I feel the way I do? Questions like that. Folta had this crazy idea that perhaps a bridge could be built between the two worlds.
Now if your bent is anti-GMO, you might be wondering, why does science care a hoot what we think? Science is laughing at us – you said it yourself, Sleuth4Health. My answer is this: science cares because it wants to understand our motivations, our concerns, our fears so it can further itself – unfettered. We are gaining a lot of power in this movement and due to the well-meaning but dare I say, misinformed actions of some powerful spokespeople, science is not experiencing the freedom of expansion that the most promising of GMO research not only deserves but requires. In other words, the anti-GMO movement is getting in the way of progress.
Progress can be a real quagmire. Please bare with me as I digress to illustrate a point. I will use the ipod as an example – that little white piece of plastic the size of an index card that single-handedly revolutionized the music industry. Now, I personally didn’t welcome the ipod with open arms because I had just produced a CD of mostly my own original music (Julia Korena, 2005) at the very time CDs became obsolete. It took me several years to use an ipod without being upset. My prejudice got in the way of my accepting ipods. Today, I can’t imagine not having an ipod. I even have a flash drive-sized mp3 player that clips to my shirt when I run – and I can adjust the tempo on it! Coolest little thing.
So, getting back on topic now, building a bridge between the science and anti-GMO worlds is a matter of understanding where both entities are coming from, and perhaps, overcoming some prejudice. I believe that was what Folta intended when he posed his 12 questions to me. So, about the same time that I published Science Is Laughing At Us, Folta published Understanding Opposing Views: A Q & A with Julie Kay (Julie Kay = Sleuth4Health) on his blog Illumination.
For all the anti-GMO folks who are still reading, and I really, really hope you are, you will find your motivations, your concerns, more or less (I tried to represent!) respectfully treated on a mainstream science website – and a very plucky one at that. I may not have covered everything in perfect accordance with what every member of the movement would say, but I tried to get at the root of the issue. Please add to the conversation if you feel I missed something!
Now, if you visit Folta’s blog, I must issue a stern warning: Other than on this one post, he does NOT go easy on GMO naysayers so you may take offense to some or most of his posts, but, at the end of the day the goal here is to build a Bridge of Understanding over a Sea of Discord, right?
To conclude, I’d like to add that I know the implications of GMOs are much, MUCH broader reaching than are the implications of the ipod. And yes, science should be prudent because of what is at stake. On the other hand, think of how many revolutionary technologies have, in the course of history, made our lives much, much better.
Still to Come: My Conversation With a Scientist continues and Scientific Reports For Dummies.