Farm Press Blog

No science in far left opposition to GMO foods

  • Left's highly organized shock troops deny science. The result is blind children, lack of safe energy source.

Farm Press Associate Editor Chris Bennett wrote a nice blog on golden rice, which may soon be widely planted in the Philippines and Bangladesh. When it happens, it will be the first step in a great humanitarian achievement of preventing blindness in as many as 500,000 children annually by providing vitamin A in their daily rice diet.

Miami Herald columnist Glenn Garvin also wrote about golden rice in a recent commentary, focusing on the “Luddite shock troops of progressivism like Greenpeace” which hide behind environmentalist monikers to the detriment of millions of people. He says this movement is coming from the “left wing.”

“What role does science plays in the left-wing opposition to golden rice and other genetically modified crops? None. Study after study has shown no detectable deleterious effects on human health from genetically modified food.

“Every time some Republican nut from Hooterville makes a jackass statement about rape or evolution, it’s immediately ascribed as a doctrinal belief of the entire GOP and conservatives in general. But liberal resistance to science is far more organized, far more destructive and far less covered in the media.”

Garvin points that this blitzkrieg against science from the left is one reason American parents are afraid to have their children vaccinated against whooping cough and measles. He points out that it started with an “error-ridden tirade” in Rolling Stone by Robert Kennedy Jr. and the left-wing website Salon linking vaccines to autism. Salon later published a retraction. In his 2008 campaign, President Obama shared his suspicion that autism and vaccines were linked. This, according to Garvin, led to a shortage of flu vaccine in the winter of 2009.


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Nuclear power is another topic the left shock troops have attacked, despite no scientific evidence to support the negative blitz. The result has been virtually no nuclear power plants built in the U.S. due to this misinformation campaign from the likes of Greenpeace.

But scientific consensus, invoked like clockwork whenever lefty activists and their journalist friends talk about global warming, is “mysteriously irrelevant” when the left is discussing nuclear power or genetically enhanced crops. Garvin points out that in 2005, the International Council for Science, a coalition of 140 scientific organizations, reviewed 50 studies and declared flatly “Currently available genetically modified foods are safe to eat.”

“There are a few million dead Third World kids who wish that somebody had listened,” Garvin concluded.

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Discuss this Blog Entry 10

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

Oh boy, get ready to be blasted with screeching comments protesting this article from the direction of the pouncy crowd who represent the very organized, but fact starved movement against GMO's. They troll like night stalkers among the nations print media and it is humorous to read their emotional and conditioned "Pavlov's Dog" like responses to any information that exposes their movement for what it really is.......a narcissistic trip of food elitism based on their underlying feelings of social superiority. They long ago lost the argument of facts. They now must rely on emotionalism and fear. It is a tactic that can still be dangerous because there are numerous examples where the masses can be hoodwinked by charlatans falsely claiming to hold special knowledge .

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

Not trolling. Neutral on the topic. What studies have been posted in journals. I would like to read the studies. Pretty simple request.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

Now Harry, we have had this discussion before. It is not whether GMOs are safe for human health or not, it is whether these novel combinations of genes will lead to more systemic problems. For instance, what happens if the number one pest of rice is only lacking vitamin A to explode in population? No one has done these kinds of studies as there is no profit motive involved. Given the history of human hubris, it is only a matter of time before we make a combination that we will regret. Remember all those erosion control plants brought in by USDA scientists in the 20's and 30's? What do we call them now? Weeds. Tamarisk, Johnsongrass, kudzu, the list goes on and on. I am waiting for roundup ready alfalfa to be called a weed. Roundup ready corn already is in some situations.

As far as nuclear power is concerned, I notice that you avoid mention of all the cropland that was destroyed for the next ten generations at Chernobyl and Fukoshima. Republicans are reluctant to burden our children with debt, but are perfectly willing to burden them with a radioactive legacy for the next 1000 years. Debt is only money, radiation is forever. (or close to forever, the half-life of plutonium is 240,000 years. The HALF-LIFE!!)

So, come on Harry, use real science, not corporate science.

Anonymous3 (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

For some who are simply set against particular aspects of technology, the focus is on the possibility that there MAY BE unknown consequences to our technological solutions. If the golden rice was produced through more traditional breeding mechanisms, it somehow passes the smell test, but because of the method or process used it is somehow suspect to a much higher level of scrutiny and the "what if's" are now justifiable. The "what if" posed above should be applicable to the golden rice regardless of the process used to develop it. If, in the above example, there is an unknown pest response that wasn't anticipated then and only then do you consider a solution. That solution may include withdrawing the technology, finding better pest control solutions, or developing a new version of golden rice that does not have the pest issue.

In the case of Fukashima and Chernobyl, of course the failure was not the technology itself but the lack of safeguards in place (Fukushima) and operator errors (Chernobyl) causing these unforeseen catastrophic events. To avoid these tragic occurrences in the future some say we eliminate the use of nuclear reactors that support our energy needs while ignoring their obvious benefits. Let's ignore the millions of hours these reactors have proven useful in meeting world energy demand, ignore the grand reductions in greenhouse gases since they have been in operation, and let's NOT take the attitude that we can virtually eliminate our past errors by using increased safeguards and improved new technology.

This isn't the case of selective science or corporate science... this is the case of using common sense and science to solve the problems of the future... just like we always have.

ChemieBabe (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

Soooo, real science and corporate science can never agree? They need to work on that. I am actually a card carrying member of Green Peace. Why would I do that, considering that I am also a licensed Pest Control Advisor and I work with farmers. Because it's the best position from which to try to talk some sense into that organization! I would encourage every one in agriculture to join Green Peace. It would blow their minds!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

So as you worry about your fanciful what ifs millions of kids die. If there is a possible problem you won't know until you try it. Your solution is to stand terrified and do nothing to help these kids. There has been no evidence of your fanciful scenario in any other GM crops.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

Does anyone have links to the studies? I am still neutral on the health of GMO and want more information. The legal side of it is pretty troubling, but I am worried about science based evidence.

"Study after study has shown no detectable deleterious effects on human health from genetically modified food." - So, can you show the journals? Thanks.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

Here's a few of the studies published through 2007.

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Cantani, A. (2006). Benefits and concerns associated with biotechnology- derived foods: can
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Chen, X., Zhuo, Q., Piao, J., and Yang, X. (2004). Immunotoxicologic assess- ment of transgenetic
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Yomemochi, C. (2003). Detection of genetically modified maize DNA fragments in the intestinal
contents of pigs fed StarLink CBH351. Vet. Hum. Toxicol., 45:95–96.
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Hammond, B., Dudek, R., Lemen, J., and Nemeth M. (2004). Results of a 13 week safety assurance
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Safety of Virus-Resistant Transgenic Plants Two Decades After Their Introduction: Lessons from Realistic Field Risk Assessment Studies
Annu. Rev. Phytopathol. 2007. 45:173–202

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 12, 2013

I understand the potential benefits of this strain of rice to the consumer. I have yet to seen ANY evidence of benefits to consumers of GMOs currently on the market. Anybody have science to support that?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 28, 2014

Here's the EU's education site, and has tons of specifics on current crops, beets, etc.

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