Skip to main content

I'm Not Pro-GMO

For years I've had to make that clarification.  I'm not pro-GMO.  I never would characterize myself as pro-GMO

Last week Mark Lynas and I answered questions for an audience in Belfast, Northern Ireland. At the end the moderator polled the audience for who was "anti-GMO" and who was "pro-GMO". Mark and I sat quietly and did not raise our hands.  

That's me, Mark and Prof. Chris Elliot at the event in Belfast.

The moderator quipped, "Obviously both of you are pro-GMO." 

Mark and I both rejected that categorization. 

As a scientist, I find such terms of ideological grounding quite troubling.  Genetic engineering is a technology.  I can think of good applications, I can think of evil applications.  My synthesis of four decades of literature and a deep understanding of the technology says that the applications have been overwhelmingly positive. 

Consistent with the recent interpretations of the National Academies of Science, there is no evidence of health problems, no plausible mechanism for health related-issues, and environmental concerns that must be monitored and addressed. 

That's it. Not pro-GMO. 

Also, my views could change later today if evidence is presented. 

Most of this blog's readers likely feel the same way-- that we want to understand technology and stand by a scientific synthesis.  

But remember, this is a question of perception, especially to the folks on the fence that are not sure what to believe.  You are less likely to earn their trust by taking any position that seems ideological. 

Dr. Steven Novella came to a similar conclusion recently.  He said something like, "I'm not pro-GMO like I'm not pro-UFO... it all boils down to evidence." 

Remember, this is about communication, and taking a side can alienate us from those that want to understand the science.  It is our duty to be objective, fair and scientific. That has no pro or anti side. 

Popular posts from this blog

Scientific American Destroys Public Trust in Science

This is a sad epitaph, parting words to an old friend that is now gone, leaving in a puff of bitter betrayal. 
When I was a kid it was common for my mom to buy me a magazine if I was sick and home from school.  I didn't want MAD Magazine or comic books.  I preferred Scientific American
The once stalwart publication held a unique spot at the science-public interface, bringing us interesting and diverse stories of scientific interest, long before the internet made such content instantly accessible.  It was our trusted pipeline to the new edges of scientific discovery, from the mantle of the earth to the reaches of space, and every critter in between.
But like so much of our trusted traditional science media, Scientific American has traded its credibility for the glitz of post-truth non-scientific beliefs and the profits of clickbait.The problem is that when a trusted source publishes false information (or worse, when it hijacked by activists) it destroys trust in science, trust in s…

Chipotle's Ag-vertising to Fix their Anti-Ag Image

After years of anti-farmer rhetoric, disgusting anti-agriculture videos, and trashing farmer seed choice, Chipotle now seems to have found a love for the American farmer that is as warm and inviting as the gooey core of a steak burrito.  Their new "Cultivate the Future of Farming" campaign raises awareness of the hardship being experienced in agriculture, and then offers their thoughts and some seed grants in order to reverse it. 

But are they solving a problem that they were instrumental in creating? 

The crisis in agriculture is real, with farmers suffering from low prices, astronomical costs, and strangling regulation.  Farmer suicides are a barometer of the crisis.  Farms, from commodity crops to dairies, are going out of business daily. It is good to see a company raising awareness. 

From Chipotle's website- The "challenge is real" and "It's a hard living"-- and companies like Chipotle were central in creating those problems. 

However, Chipotle&#…

Mangling Reality and Targeting Scientists

Welcome to 2019, and one thing that remains constant is that scientists engaging the public will continue to be targeted for harassment and attempted reputation harm.  

The good news is that it is not working as well as it used to.  People are disgusted by their tactics, and only a handful of true-believers acknowledge their sites as credible. 

But for those on the fence I thought it might be nice to post how a website like SourceWatch uses a Wikipedia-mimic interface to spread false and/or misleading information about public scientists. 

Don't get me wrong, this is not crying victim.  I'm actually is screaming empowerment.  I spent the time to correct the record, something anyone can check.  Please look into their allegations and mine, and see who has it right. 

This is published by the Center for Media and Democracy.  Sadly, such pages actually threaten democracy by providing a forum for false information that makes evidence-based decisions in policy issues more challenging.  It…