Things are heating up in my home state of Oregon. This is the first of likely several more posts I will make regarding the upcoming election. I am specifically referring to ballot measure 92 which will appear on the November ballot, the campaign to label GM foods – only in Oregon, a state with a population of just under 4 million, within a country of 322 million. And it’s not going to make food costs go up?
The ads are starting to air and I suspect, will be convincing to folks on both sides of the issue. I don’t know how it will play out but I am already nauseous over the likely unprecedented amount of money that will be spent on this contentious measure, based on a similar recent battle in our neighbor state, Washington, which burned up north of 30 million on ads. What 30 million could do for, say, schools!
It’s no secret how I feel about GMOs. A quick perusal of my blog makes it clear. GMOs have their rightful place in the agricultural toolbox, in the pharmaceutical toolbox and in other industry toolboxes. Transgenics are one of many advancements in biotechnology. It’s just terribly unfortunate that this particular technology is vilified far, far beyond reason. Otherwise intelligent people are getting caught up in fear-based hyperbole, suiting up in their soldier gear and wielding guns that shoot bullets of poorly researched factoids. And it’s working.
It all sounds so pat and it explains absolutely everything, doesn’t it? So convenient.
GMOs are the perfect scapegoat to explain away modern disease, especially disease that is, allegedly, on the rise – autism, obesity, gluten insensitivity (from GM wheat that in truth is not GM because there is no GM wheat on the market), allergies, liver and immunity dysfunction, cancer, etc. The list is long.
Here is a quote from the Organic Consumers Association, a radical anti-GMO activist group to which I once contributed cash. I am ashamed of that now because these people are fear-mongers and I fell for it. They write:
Did you know… genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not safe. They have been linked to thousands of toxic and allergenic reactions, thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals.
This is just the beginning of the hysteria. Let me quell the above statement – lest it scare someone – with two articles that reference the same study proving convincingly that GMO food is SAFE for livestock.  Please check the following two links out.
100 Billion Animals Over 15 Years/Illumination
My views are rooted in a personal journey that started in the position of anti-GMO activism but ended in what is widely referred to as the ‘pro-science’ camp. Notice I don’t say pro-GMO. Scholarly science (as opposed to psuedo-science) overwhelmingly supports the use of GMOs in situations when and where it is warranted.
Along my journey I looked under a few rocks and discovered just that. It was inconvenient for me to learn this. I wanted to be a flag-waver, to help change the world, to stand for something. The bastards were poisoning us and damn-it, I was going to do my part.
That GMOs are really pretty cool wasn’t at all apparent on my first ten clicks to websites run by the likes of Jeffrey Smith, the Health Ranger or GM Watch, not apparent when I watched the charismatic Vendana Shiva speak at organic farmer conventions. I had to dare myself to communicate with people who saw things another way, to listen to what they had to say, to correspond with scientists, to look at science reports, articles and blogs and to allow myself to learn what the technology really is, what it does and very importantly, what is doesn’t do. And by no means does anyone – not scientist, farmer nor Monsanto executive – see it as some kind of magic panacea. It is a tool, albeit a very advanced one.
The accounts of these experiences are all here on the blog. The truth is we and countless livestock have been eating genetically engineered crops since the 90s and there has not been one, not one health issue proven to be a result of eating them. Any studies or parts of studies that purport to show harm have been shown by scholars to be problematic in one or sometimes several ways. The information used against the technology is often cherry picked, taken out of context, not supported with actual data, blown out of proportion, or flat out made up.
Of course those against GMOs cry foul, that the whistle blowing do-gooders are being silenced, that the revolving door of corruption has taken over every regulatory agency in the world and they are not to be trusted, that everyone who speaks in favor of GMOs is paid by Monsanto…
This really sounds like a conspiracy theory to me. I actually googled “conspiracy theory” and found a long, sometimes comical list of them. Here are some of the more well-known of the bunch.
Popular Conspiracy Theories (source Rational Wiki)
- Mercury in vaccines is causing autism.
- Global warming is a hoax.
- The US is hiding alien wreckage at area 51.
- 911 was staged by the US government
- Liberals have taken over the media and schools and brainwashed everyone to believe in socialism and evolution
- Monsanto Company is secretly maneuvering to control the world’s food supply using GMOs (genetically modified organisms)
- Elvis is not dead!
Right to know? Do you really want to?
We have a right to know what’s in our food. On the surface, it seems reasonable. But GMOs are not an ingredient like sugar or flour or what-have-you. GMOs are not a macro or micro nutrient like protein, carbohydrates, calcium or Vitamin C. GMOs are the result of transgenic technology, a precise way to breed crops, a process. There are many ways to breed crops and many of them might raise an eyebrow or two. Ever heard of mutagenesis? Should we then list all breeding techniques on every package of food? Is that where this is going? If we didn’t mess with what ‘God’ created, what was natural – we would starve to death.
The public disdain for this has spun far out of control and unfairly placed scientists in the role of villains or worse, stooges for the industry with financial ties to Monsanto, the company that shoulders the brunt of public hatred for GMOs, even though they aren’t the only company that produces them.
The irrationality around this topic isn’t good for our country, for our global food supply, or for Oregon. Oregon has plenty of other problems.
I am a passionate environmentalist. Let me count the ways. Climate change is a true threat that should scare people. I hate plastic bags and one-time use plastic in general. I want to punch people who get a new damn plastic or paper bag every time they walk in a store. I get very short with cashiers who want to put my pack of Wrigleys in a freakin’ bag. Before they can shove it in there I scream – no bag! I get very upset when I see litter and cigarette butts floating into storm drains, or worse, on the hallowed ground of a national park or on an otherwise pristine beach. In my opinion, these are far more important issues. GMOs don’t scare me in the least. I eat them every day.
If this thing passes here, I fully expect hysteria and food prices to go up, maybe a lot, and that will really suck.
Note: I know I will get flack for writing this. People already hate me because I speak in favor of GMOs. They think Monsanto pays me. They think I just don’t understand. They try to point me in the direction of poorly conducted science experiments and activist websites. They attack my character, tell me I’m angry, insult my intelligence. I’ve heard it all. Come at me with the best you’ve got.
Evidence trumps belief.
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Below are several links to posts I have made that outline how and why I changed my mind about GMOs.
- Science is laughing at us
- My conversations with a scientist, part one
- In their own words: Farmers weigh in on GMOs, part one (first of five parts)
- How to temper an anti-GMO blogger/my story
- Opposition to Golden Rice described as ‘moral abyss’
- Is GM food safe? Experts around the globe answer
There are many more. Please have a look see.
 I already know that there are those who will discredit both authors of these posts, Jon Entine and Kevin Folta, because they have haters out there throwing the tiresome Monsanto shill accusation at them, even though in Folta’s case specifically, all monies paid to him or his lab are a matter of PUBLIC RECORD. But the science presented speaks for itself. They are merely passing it along. There is a temptation to believe every nasty activist rant against these two but the accusations are without merit.