Farm Press Blog

GMO scare is a lot of hype with little substance


• People have a right to eat whatever they want. • I’m not fearful of GMO foods. • I’m convinced that the USDA and the FDA are doing their jobs to assure us that our food supply is of the highest quality.

Several years ago I received a news release, just before Thanksgiving, urging folks to abstain from turkey at their holiday feast and to substitute “tofurkey” instead. Tofurky is a concoction of soy and a bunch of other stuff (spices and what not) that apparently adds flavor to the meat substitute.

I suggested that I would forego the tofurkey and enjoy a real turkey with friends and family. As I recall, I also added a pork loin to the feast—real pork, not tofahog, or whatever.

I received emails from people who thought they had the right to tell me what I should eat. Some called me names, including a word also used to describe a donkey. I survived—sticks and stones, as they say.

I recently received another news release from folks who wanted me to screen all my Thanksgiving foods to make certain there were no GMO products lurking in the turkey. GMO, the news release said, could be “an unwelcome and hidden guest at your Thanksgiving celebration.

“This year GMO Inside, a new coalition that advocates for increased consumer awareness of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods, is offering tips and suggestions for consumers on how to remove unwanted GMOs from their holiday feasts,” the release read.

It also provided a list of products that should be eliminated from the holiday menu. I will not repeat the list, but it includes some well-known and well-respected name brands and popular products.

As I have said before, people have a right to eat whatever they want—organic, vegan, gluten-free, soy-based (I have no problem with soy but really prefer meat.), local or omnivorous. And if folks want to research every product they buy to determine if it has transgenic properties, then I guess they have the right to do that.

And if an organization has an issue with a product, any product, I agree that it has the right, perhaps even the responsibility, to alert the public.

However, and this is a big however, when an organization determines that a product is bad and decides to turn other people against it, they should offer some facts to support the reasoning behind the boycott.

I found no such reasoning in this particular press release. The only “evidence” supplied was that GMO products have not been adequately studied and tested for human consumption. In all the adverse publicity I’ve seen, heard and read over the last decade and more condemning GMO products, I’ve yet to see evidence of any ill effects from them.

There have been rumors and there have been many examples of hyperbole—frankenfoods, products that will turn consumers green or make them glow in the dark—and other ridiculous claims that had no merit.

I’m not fearful of GMO foods. I’m also not afraid to eat non-organic foods or foods that traveled more than 14 miles to get to the market. I’m convinced that the United States continues to have the best, safest, most affordable food supply in the world and perhaps in the history of the world. And I’m equally convinced that the USDA and the FDA are doing their jobs to assure us that our food supply is of the highest quality.

I’m also convinced that many organizations use controversy to attract attention and often portray problems where none exist.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Thanksgiving dinner, including a turkey and a pork loin, and if GMOs were on the menu, I dug into those as well. I didn’t stop long enough to check. Bon appétit!




Discuss this Blog Entry 18

Tech Tyranny (not verified)
on Nov 28, 2012

Wow your reason for being ok with GMO food basically comes down to a lack of willingness to do a search. I guess you really are spoon fed.

Arjan (not verified)
on Nov 29, 2012

I do not agree with the statement that the arguments against GMO hold little substance.

I am from The Netherlands and notice that the EU forces countries that have banned GMO with sanctions, which does not make sense to me, which is why I became interested in the arguments and found this article.

An argument against GMO is that the practice is in it's essence disruptive for nature and will logically weaken (and potentially disastrously damage) the nutritional fundament on which human life is possible.

GMO food is incest in the field of nutrition. The complex coherence of genes foresees in more then people can see in it. There must be a basis of respect for nature / genes of plants and animals.

It is not possible to predict the future to know what is needed tomorow for succes. We therefor need to collaborate with nature for the best chance on survival and respect plants and animals as beings with a 'shared unforseeable future'.

"It takes two to tango" You can't stand above life as being life because when you try to do so you work in the wrong direction what results in a figurative stone that sinks into the ocean of time.

Croploss (not verified)
on Dec 3, 2012

Magical, mystical,nonsense. Be at peace and one with nature and don't upset either the universe or your digestive tract. What nonsense. The restrictions in Europe on GMOed products are based on ignorance and politics, not good science, proof or evidence.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 29, 2012

Rather than waste my voice rattling off the nearly endless parade of evidence that shows GMOs are harmful to the environment, the agricultural industry, and that they have NO BENEFIT for consumers, I will merely say it takes an enormous amount of ignorance about this subject to not be concerned.

GMO Scanner (not verified)
on Nov 29, 2012

I found no such reasoning in this particular press release. The only “evidence” supplied was that GMO products have not been adequately studied and tested for human consumption. In all the adverse publicity I’ve seen, heard and read over the last decade and more condemning GMO products, I’ve yet to see evidence of any ill effects from them.

If there is no epidemiology data or traceability for that matter, you can't know what the ill effects are. There are plenty of gastrointestinal diseases on the rise without a known cause. And it's just about impossible to determine if GMO is causative or perhaps a causative factor without this data.

So since you haven't seen evidence of any ill effects from GMO food, would you agree that the logical next step would be to label the food for traceability reasons? Or would you rather wear a blindfold and never know?

GMO Scanner (not verified)
on Nov 29, 2012

I meant to quote the first paragraph from the article.

Elizabeth Conley (not verified)
on Nov 29, 2012

I'm not afraid to eat GMO food, but in most cases I find that GMO crops cause more problems than they repair. Further, the tactics used by the companies that produce GMO seeds, the EU and the US government to strong arm countries into accepting GMO crops are downright evil.

I want GMOs labeled so that I can avoid those GMO products that are being pushed by unethical companies and unethical government tactics. I also want to avoid those GMO products that lead to the use of more pesticides and herbicides.

I think it would be much easier to figure out if GMOs are safe after they're labeled. We can compare the health of those of us who avoid GMOs with those whe eat them with gusto, and find out who fares better.

GMO Scanner (not verified)
on Nov 29, 2012

"And I’m equally convinced that the USDA and the FDA are doing their jobs to assure us that our food supply is of the highest quality."

REALLY? Have you looked at the back of mainstream baby formula. Or a mainstream cereal box? Not only are the ingredients bad, they shove a whole bunch of biounavailable, and possibly harmful synthetic vitamins and minerals - only so they can put an "essential source of whatever we want" on the front of the box.

There are many more examples, but if the USDA and FDA really wanted to highest quality of food, would they allow these chemical food-like products for your children?

Organic is much better since these synthetic ingredients are not allowed. But even so, there are still numerous problems where the USDA has failed to step up to the plate.

The real truth is, while they do some things (such as shut down factories for salmonella) to keep the illusion of health and public safety, it's generally about money for the USDA and FDA.

You might want to read about the amount of power lobbyists have over the food supply. And while you do that, you might want to look up who Michael R. Taylor is.

About the lobbying, I'll give you one article to start with:

And after all this, if you still have complete trust the FDA and USDA are here to make sure our food is of highest quality, I guess you are being a good, obedient citizen.

Everyone can have their own opinion. But you can have an informed opinion, or one that is derived from ignorance.

mckittcu (not verified)
on Nov 30, 2012

Should we also label foods as to what the weather was like on the day they were packaged, for "traceability reasons" or such? Over 15 years of intensive biotech crop production, science has yet to produce a link between biotech and ill effects; and not for lack of trying.

While people are entitled to believe whatever they want about particular foods, PUBLIC policy should not be informed by an opinion with the lack of what courts consider a "rational basis" for it. Currently, there is no rational (that is, provable) basis for requiring food packagers to insert a an ominous-sounding label conveying meaningless information. Some consider this an instance of forced speech contrary to the First Amendment, which is the basis upon which milk labeling laws were struck down.

In any event, the whole "labeling" lobby is, by its own admission, seeking to indirectly weaken biotech companies. The urban yuppies that comprise 90% of this lobby need to realize that biotech was invented precisely to REDUCE herbicide use, and it has been very successful in that regard. Roundup-Ready technology has not only allowed the use of biodegradable glyphosate in place of other, more toxic substances, but also allowed the part-time farmer to be more secure, stabilizing and ultimately lowering food prices and security. You can all start complaining about it the day you stop eating.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 30, 2012


Proponents of GMOs will try to convince that GMOs are scientific and that anyone concerned about them is "anti-science". People say this RELIGIOUSLY. They say it even though they don't know anything about genetics.

They don't know anything about regulative coding, epistasis, promoter genes, stacking, pleiotropy, insertional effects, genetic networks, or epigenetic changes that occur over long periods of time.

They know nothing about genetics but they insist that engineering DNA is scientific. They make these claims because they believe the authority figures, the Biotech Priests, who have so much to gain by converting them to their new religion!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 3, 2012

"In all the adverse publicity I’ve seen, heard and read over the last decade and more condemning GMO products, I’ve yet to see evidence of any ill effects from them."

If you have not seen you have not opened your eyes:

If you can't see the ill effects you can't see the forest through the trees.

Chemie Babe (not verified)
on Dec 3, 2012

Okay, except for the last article about anti Prop 37 funding the rest of it is just rhetoric with no basis in real science. The majority of people in this country don't understand scientific research. They can't read an article and question the results. They see that RoundUp caused something, but they don't understand how the experiment was constructed. They can't see that the test subject was fed 500 times the label rate for weeks or months. No one in the real world applies Roundup that way! The lack of common sense in this country is outrageous! If you don't want to eat GMO foods buy organic and leave the rest of us alone. Thank you.

Larry McHargue (not verified)
on Dec 3, 2012

Earlier this evening my wife and I enjoyed some pork loin. It has been genetically modified. Today's pork is leaner, has a higher protein content, and it is tastier than the pork of past decades or centuries. I have no regrets or fears for having eaten it. Ron Smith is a voice of reason in a morass of fuzzy thinking that seems to be motivated more by ideology and quasi-religious thinking than by science. All crops have been genetically modified over time. The opposition to GMO crops is centered on transgenic modification. The development of wheat occurred some time ago. Shockingly, genes from different species were combined in the development of durum and bread wheats! Ron Smith is correct; there is no definitive evidence to show that we are harmed by GMO foods. Whether we like or not, the increasing population of the earth cannot be fed without them. We must increase productivity over the whole earth. There isn't enough unused arable land remaining in the world to enable productivity to increase sufficiently to the levels needed to feed the earth's population. The use of genetically modified crops during the next half centruy is essential. It is not an option.

Michelle Logan (not verified)
on Dec 4, 2012

Here's the thing if you want to eat your GMO's wouldn't you want them labelled as such?
So do we, non GMO desirous consumers...
If you would like to believe that the FDA and USDA is protecting you, as your God Given Mass Media Zombie Corporate Biotech Lobby Infested Authorities, then by all means- I beg you GO Right Ahead.
If you tell me to eat organic and leave the rest of us alone, you are obviously ignorant about the issues of GMO drift. Monsanto has sued about 100 small organic farmers, and settled out of court on countless other cases because they claim when their GMO material spreads onto close organic fields ( through wind, bee pollinization, or other means) that the organic farmer is stealing their patented property!
They stalk these farmers- really, Monsanto even sued an assembly line worker who worked to remove chaff off of grains harvested, how pathetic is that?!!!
Now, the Farm Bill that is trying to pass is actually
considering making it the organic growers responsible for GMO drift, that they'll have to take out insurance policies to deal with the issues of Genetic Drift- the Organic Growers.
Already it's hard enough to grow organic, I've been a farmer for years, now you tell me I'll need to carry an insurance policy against Monsanto's inevitable genetic drift?
GMO corn drift has been found even in remote villages in central america and south america who have been growing their ancestral blue, purple, green corn that they use daily for their stone ground tortillas.
Thank you Chemie Babe, for allowing me to tell you how little you actually know- watch Genetic Roulette, and keep eating Twinkies!!!

Chemie Babe (not verified)
on Dec 4, 2012

I have watched everything the anti GMO side has produced, I have read all the books and it's mostly perception and emotion.
I don't love Monsanto either, they do not seem to grasp that pollen drift is inevitable and no one is stealing their pollen. In this case they are also over the top on the emotion scale.

Growers take out insurance for all kind of crop related issues. If I was planting GMO crops I would take out insurance to cover any drift claims from my fields just to cover my ass.

I don't eat Twinkies, I'm a Little Debbies snack cake girl! I am so looking forward to the "Christmas Cakes"! They are soooo bad for me, full of trans fats and high fructos GMO corn syrup!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 4, 2012

No evidence? Allergies, asthma, autimmune disease, cancer,autism, diabetes all on a crazy trajectory in the last 30 years. Nah, nothing to see here. Keep movin.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 4, 2012

Michelle Logan said: "Monsanto has sued about 100 small organic farmers........that the organic farmer is stealing their patented property!"

Those are either words from one basted in ignorance or words from one using intentional lies driven by an ethically starved agenda.

Monsanto has NEVER sued any farmer, including any "small organic farmers" for "pollen drift".

They have, in the past, in rare circumstances, sued farmers proven to be engaged in intentional seed piracy which is an entirely different matter in both form and function and not related to pollen drift.

If you knew anything about how a plant pollinates, Michelle, you would not have tried to slip through such an outlandishly ignorant claim.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 11, 2015

i'll be damned if i give up corn!

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