GMO facts typically buried and hidden

Try to search online, using popular search engines like Google and Yahoo, for the science and safety of GMO foods and you’ll be inundated by links with all sorts of anti-GMO scare stories. Finding sound scientific information on any topic, when it conflicts with political agendas and political correctness, has never been harder. So, it’s not surprising that few consumers learned of this media story, written by professor Alan McHughen, a plant molecular geneticist at UC Riverside and author of Pandora’s Picnic Basket: The Potential and Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods. In it, he reviews the fears and facts surrounding GMOs and it’s well worth reading in its entirety.

The junk science clowns behind the GMO scare

Just mention “GMO” (genetically modified organism) and some people run scared – why? GMOs are products of technologies developed during the 1970s and 1980s that allow researchers to take DNA (i.e., genetic information) from any plant, animal or microbe and combine it with the DNA of any other plant, animal or microbe…For various reasons, this recombinant DNA technology, rDNA, is scary to some… Still others fear the apparently uncertain safety record of the GMOs and the idea that this technology may inadvertently introduce safety hazards into foods. Finally, another large segment fears not the technology per se but rather the idea of technology and big multinational corporations dominating the food supply. Leading GMO seed developer Monsanto, for example, is the company many people love to hate….

In another recent must-read article, Who’s Afraid of GMOs?, he asked: “So why are so many still fearful of this technology? One simple answer is junk science, and its carefully crafted use as a weapon of mass fear.” In this article, he exposes a few popular junkscientists behind GMO fears — those making big money scaring people, while their real targets are capitalism and modern agriculture. It’s a cautionary tale for consumers, too, who believe that what they read online and in social media must be true, since it’s so popular and every source seems to confirm the fears. In this article, he writes:

Social media fuel the fire: Anyone can publish any outlandish junk science claim on the Internet. But when a plant breeder develops a strain of rice that is enhanced to help overcome vitamin A deficiency, rampant in poor tropical countries, the media interview (and give prominence to) pseudoscientific scaremongers such as Smith instead of authentic experts in nutrition or agronomy, people who might actually bring legitimate questions and concerns to the discussion.…

Fortunately, there are reputable sources out there, too. But the sources suffer from relatively low conventional and social media profiles: They tend to appear near the bottom of Internet searches, even though they rank at the top of scientific credibility…. Unfortunately, the junk dealers and anti-technology NGOs use social media skillfully, and they recruit impressionable students each year to help “save the planet.” This domination of the Internet and the free workforce of volunteers overwhelm the efforts of legitimate scientist educators, few of whom actually have public education or outreach in their job descriptions…

Sense about science, the nonprofit of more than 5,000 scientists working to make sense of science and evidence, offers an overview of GMO science for those who might be trying to find it: Making  Sense of GM—What is the genetic modification of plants and why are scientists doing it?

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One response to “GMO facts typically buried and hidden

  1. I’ve said this for years. Try searching for any politically incorrect online and it’s very difficult. Search engines ignore quotes on search terms, direct you first to commerce sites, etc. It may not be deliberate on the part of the search engines, just really poor programming. If anyone could create a search engine that actually searched for what you typed in and not 100 variants thereof, that would be a huge achievement.

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