When it Comes to GMOs and Food, the Misconceptions are at Their Highest

By @TakeThatGMOs 

Many misconceptions exist about GMOs. Misinformation and even disinformation cloud the scene. Do a quick Google search of GMOs, and what do you get?

You get this:

The very fact that the Institute of Responsible Technology (which by the way sells non-GM food products, see any conflicts here?), NaturalNews, Dr Mercola, Non-GMO Project and Kids Right to Know are all on the front page of the search is seriously worrying. Not only does this clearly show how misinformed the public is (Google ranks most visited websites first), it should also be ringing bells about how far the truth is from the public.

The issue when it comes to GMOs is that there’s no clear line. There’s no “clear” pro-GMOs side other than the people claimed to be “shills” and the boogeyman that is Monsanto. When it comes to evolution, for example, that line is clear. The creationist movement’s arguments and evidence are so weak they can be easily dismissed as bunk and dubious anyway. Otherwise 98% of biologists wouldn’t have accepted evolution, would they? (Ken Ham makes up the last 2%, by the way). When it comes to being against vaccines, arguably the most threatening pseudoscience, there’s a clear line of doctors and health professionals and even the public who can easily counter the dubious claims. But no such group of people clearly exist. They’re all assumed to be under the guidance of Monsanto. People don’t understand how someone supports GMOs. It’s like supporting genocide, or believing in geocentrism. People can’t understand that not everybody shares their opinions and not everyone opposing them is on a payroll. 

One should know that the amount of people misguided about GMOs far, far outweighs antivaxxers (sorry, @TakeThatSalk), and can even outweigh and crush the amount of creationists seeing as how the issue with GMOs does not correlate in that regard. You can have a person arguing for evolution and vaccines and yet be against GMOs. The issue is that bad. And when it comes to consensus, the consensus for GMOs is BIGGER than that for climate change. Yup.

The mainstream public has been “brainwashed” by misinformation after misinformation, things like the naturalistic fallacy, one of the the stupidest ideas out there, seeing as practically nothing you eat is natural; the idea that some chemicals like aspartame are horrible for your body; the idea that organic is better for you (organic is practically the same in every way as conventional); the idea that organic uses no pesticides, and so on and so forth.

These ideas appear practically everywhere, from mainstream YouTube shows, to qualified doctors on TV (ahem, Dr Oz, ahem) to even your biology teacher. You could be walking with your friends when misinformation about how scary McDonald’s is pops up. It is therefore important to counter any misinformation and disinformation about our food.

This brings us back to the original issue. Google announced that they wanted to put more reliable sites first, like the WHO and the FDA over the “Health Ranger”. This would make a significant difference in science communication. This is very good news abd shows that Google cares about the problem.  I have also noticed that people more knowledgeable about GMOs and food are beginning to pop up in many places, in forums, on Facebook, and on those damn YouTube comments. Maybe we’re headed for improvement, after all.

The issue with GMOs has the worst mix of all. Misconceptions about food are far more dangerous than creationism, and the amount of people holding these misconceptions is severely high. GMOs can help poor farmers and poor people and can feed an ever-hundry world. This blend makes the issue here a huge and a crucial issue to deal with, so increasing understanding and preventing misinformation from passing to others is likewise crucial.

And for God’s sake Google, fix this:

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3 thoughts on “When it Comes to GMOs and Food, the Misconceptions are at Their Highest

  1. donwithit May 12, 2015 / 10:26 am

    I can understand that a GMO product may not by itself do any harm and be safe to eat, but the article doesn’t do anything to counter the argument about the relevant companies using the patent laws to tie poor farmers into contracts and forbid them to save seed as they have done traditionally. It doesn’t tackle the issue of genetic modification to carry an insecticide or herbicide as a part of the modification. It doesn’t cover the effect already seen on other organisms in the wild (eg Monarch butterfly). The organic issue is wider than indicated: damage to the structure of the soil by deletion of carbon content resulting in the reduction of beneficial organisms and a considerable contribution to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, resulting in the need for more artificial fertiliser, a soil that washes away more readily, and more pollution of our watercourses. While I take the point on exaggeration and financial interest from organic sellers; you can’t seriously compare the resources available to the anti GMO and organic lobbies with those of the petro chemical lobby, whose ability to exaggerate and distort and cover up are at least equal to those on the other side.

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    • TakeThatAccounts May 16, 2015 / 9:29 am

      Thank you for your attempt at a proper discussion.

      The article talked about misconceptions themselves, and how prevalent they are. Biotech probably is the biggest point of discussion when it comes to skepticism, there’s just far too many topics involved, so I can’t cover them in one post. I will attempt to answer your concerns here though.

      Let’s start with patents and seeds. Patents on living things have been around since the early 20th century. They are not new. As for the seeds, you must know that saving seeds is expensive and would fail most of the time. Neither organic farmers nor conventional save seeds usually. It is far cheaper to buy new seeds every time, and having this in the contract can usually help inexperienced poor farmers.

      Bt crops, which spray their own insecticide, take a gene from Bt bacteria which is sprayed as a “natural” insecticide on organic crops. It’s practically the same as organic except that it reduces the amount of insecticides sprayed and makes the crop cheaper as it has a built in insecticide. There are currently no GE crop that sprays its own herbicide, but is rather resistant to the herbicide. Crop rotation and proper management can help reduce weeds. It is important to remember that glyphosate is a lot safer than other herbicides and has had a much smaller amount of resistant weeds according to the journal Nature.

      GMOs don’t have any effect on butterflies or bees, multiple studies confirm that (I can link some on request).

      GMOs help the environment by using no insecticides and by requiring no tilling, preventing soil erosion and only targeting specific material.

      The organic industry is now a huge industry, Whole Foods has about the same amount of money as Monsanto and the organic industry far outweighs Monsanto. It is therefore naive to claim the seeds industry, a small industry compared to things like the oil industry, which still hasn’t been able to shut scientists up about global warming even though it has 100s of billions, is able to cover up and fund 1000s of studies and 1000s of “shills” and cover up things. The organic industry is very well able to make up its own lies (which it does).
      Please remember to research both sides of the argument and take things logically.

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