Yes, I changed my mind about GMOs
It is no secret that in spring of 2013, after focusing this blog solely on bashing biotech and calling for strict labeling laws, I stopped in my tracks, pivoted, and performed a complete one-eighty. I was one of the folks, and there are a few of us out here, who changed my mind.
Why did I change my mind? It was simple: the vast, and I mean vast majority of data do not support an anti-GMO position, and in fact do support quite the opposite.
As for labeling – well my opinion has evolved to the the point where it makes more sense that if you wish to avoid GMOs, then buy ‘organic’ or foods marked ‘GMO Free’. You are within your rights to do so. (I would also like to remind people that GMOs are not ingredients like wheat flour or corn starch. GMOs are a technology. But that’s another post…)
I now feel strongly that the concern some people have with GMOs is more of a ‘specialty problem’ – and should be handled as such. Like halal or kosher food, sugar-free, low-glycemic, allergen-free cosmetics and so on. When it is a specialized need, it is up to the consumer to seek out the type of product he or she requires, not make unreasonable demands-born-of-misinformation on the industry.
Nowadays, I take what is commonly referred to as a ‘pro-science’ position on GMOs and frankly, everything under the sun! Being pro-science means that one operates from the framework of evidence, not belief. So, practically speaking this means that if I hear or read something like, say, vaccines cause autism, I carefully go about finding neutral, non-sensationalized information – articles, studies, etc. – that will provide evidence. The truth is usually not as exciting, not as entertaining as sensationalized headlines, and most importantly, relies solely on facts that have been well-vetted via proper, repeated scientific study.
Science constantly seeks the truth, the evidence, what is happening, what happened, and so on. Constantly. It does this via the scientific method which, to be done correctly, requires a universally accepted proper methodology. And science is wrong – a lot – in which case it promptly admits it’s wrong and sets about becoming right again. And so it goes. There is no embarrassment or backpedaling. You go with the best evidence you have at the time. Many applications of science require a constant weighing of benefit versus risk, whether real or perceived. GMOs are in this category so there is no shortage of studies! (See Genera)
This experience has so changed me that I’ve become a ‘show me the evidence’ type – no longer prone to emotional hooks like fear, heart-string tugging, sensationalism, propaganda and the like. I can’t tell you how freeing this transformation has been! I have let go of many long held beliefs that limited my thinking. (I still, however, have a very difficult time walking under a ladder, but I’m working on it).
I should also add that I am hated by anti-GMO types now. They ask me how I can sleep at night, tell me I’ve been won over by corporate henchmen, accuse me of being on Monsanto’s payroll (I wish). But truly, none of this bothers me much. I know I am on the side of evidence and I am not ruled by fear and hype.
I am not trying to offend anyone but I must be true to myself. Surely being true to oneself can be universally respected?
Q & A With Dr. Folta
I’d like to present a recent interview I did with Dr. Kevin Folta, chairman of the University of Florida’s Horticultural Sciences Department. He is launching a podcast series titled Talking Biotech and I was his first guest. He wanted to explore the topic of how and why someone changes their mind. (I could not imbed the podcast so please click on the link 🙂