Huge Hypocrisies of the Anti-GMO Movement
The anti-GMO movement, championed by groups like GMO Free USA, Millions Against Monsanto, Just Label It, and U.S. Right To Know, is rife with hypocrisy -- so much, in fact, that it makes your head spin. But hypocrisy to this extent is exactly what happens when uninformed, rigid ideology gets entangled in a nuanced, scientific issue.
To avoid hypocrisy when discussing genetic modification, maintain an open mind and think critically. It might also help to read these four blantant examples of hypocrisy committed by opponents of genetic modification.
1. The anti-GMO movement calls for transparency, honesty, and openness, yet their arguments are full of misinformation and falsehoods.
"They have absolutely no right to call for transparency when they are lying through their teeth everyday about GMOs," Steven Novella, President of the New England Skeptical Society, recently stated on the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, "The whole anti-GMO campaign is built on lies and misinformation. They do not have the moral authority to call for transparency."
2. Members of the anti-GMO movement frequently accuse their opponents of being "shills" for corporations, yet the movement is heavily funded by the multi-billion dollar organic and natural foods industry.
To their credit, they admit it. U.S. Right to Know's largest single donor is the Organic Consumers Association, and Just Label It is sponsored by brands like Annie's, Applegate, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Organic. Just Label It even openly solicited for 25 bloggers to become "GMO Labeling Advocates" -- literally paid shills. All the bloggers had to do was promote Just Label It's campaign, and if their shilling was deemed to be good enough, the bloggers would be compensated $500.
Apparently, the anti-GMO movement doesn't understand why science writers who have no connection to the biotech industry whatsoever would write in favor of genetic engineering. So they've come to the conclusion that journalists and bloggers must receive money under the table. In reality, most science writers who write favorably of GMO technology do so simply because scientific evidence currently indicates that GMOs are safe and generally beneficial.
3. The anti-GMO movement calls for GMOs to be labeled, but makes no mention of labeling pesticides.
The anti-GMO movement claims that consumers have a "right to know" what's in their food. It's hard to disagree with that statement. But for the principal interests behind the movement, their desire for the "right to know" seems to stop at GMOs. Why not other things? Why not have a label for how far the food traveled from its source, or for when it was picked, or for pesticide use? Organic proponents of the anti-GMO movement specifically balk at pesticide labeling, claiming that everyone already knows that organic farming uses pesticides. Actually, they don't, and the organic industry knows it. Because if organic consumers knew those foods were produced with pesticides, they'd probably be less likely to purchase them. That's almost certainly why the anti-GMO movement, heavily funded by organic food companies, halts their labeling efforts at GMOs.
4. The anti-GMO movement is against genetic modification, but it doesn't seem to mind mutagenesis.
Though this may surprise many natural consumers, organic crops sold in the U.S. are allowed to be mutated by radiation or chemicals in order to create variants with desirable traits. The process is called mutagenesis, and it sounds like a frightening path to Frankenfoods! Yet mutagenesis is not the focus of labeling efforts...
Frankly, mutagenesis shouldn't be irksome, because foods produced by the method are quite safe to eat. What is irritating, however, is the hypocrisy in claiming that transgenesis, the primary mode of genetic modification in which a gene from one organism is transplanted to another in order to achieve a desired trait, may be unsafe, when the overwhelming majority of scientists recognize that foods produced via the process are quite safe.
(Image: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Full Disclosure: The author owns a minority stake in a small food business.