The debate about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is one that involves faulty reasoning on both sides. Each side tends to attack overly simplified versions of the other side’s arguments and ignores important problems with their own side.
I personally don’t have a problem with responsible genetic modification. I think it would be a great idea to say, insert genes from an orange into human DNA in order to allow the synthesis of vitamin C. I have no problem with any modification like this provided that it produces no terrible side-effects and that it is not patented.
I think the biggest problem with the anti GMO crowd is ludditry. A certain percentage of those against GMOs are against them mainly because they believe it’s wrong to “play God”. The “playing God” argument results from a religious mindset that warns against doing something which is very against the natural order of things. The problem with this argument is that it is the natural order of things to manipulate DNA. Cosmic rays striking our DNA results in mutations, some of which prove very beneficial. A typical counter argument is that this is a natural process not one by man’s hand. The problem with this argument is that it assumes humans and their activities are somehow unnatural. Rest assured that humans are in fact very natural. Like all other animals we can’t live without food or water. We also rely on very similar biological processes to go about our day.
The actual overriding problem with genetic engineering is corporate involvement. Whenever massive amounts of money are involved in science, science invariably becomes corrupted. The Séralini paper retraction farce is a good example of this corruption. Séralini made the terrible mistake of showing that rats fed GMO corn developed large tumors. Scientific papers are only ever retracted in cases of scientific fraud. Séralini’s only crime was inconclusive results. The paper’s retraction itself then was a case of scientific fraud. A fraud that continues to this day to be celebrated by mainstream “skeptics”.
An even more disturbing implication of corporate involvement is the issue of patenting life. When a massive company patents a useful life form such as a high yield corn plant, that company will do everything it can to make money off that GMO. The perfect end game for such a company is a worldwide monopoly on that seed. With a monopoly they can charge whatever they can get away with. What happens when everyone uses this seed and suddenly a new super pest or disease wipes out that crop? Starvation on a global scale. If there are any risks associated with the GMO, the Séralini affair shows that such companies can bury any independent studies that threaten their profits. The mainstream media which benefits from such companies’ advertising, dutifully plays along. If you owned a business, would you alienate your biggest customers? If you’re a scientist directly or indirectly employed by these GMO companies will you speak out and kill your career? Mainstream “skeptics” in turn, mindlessly follow whatever the establishment dictates.
The Trillion Meal Study
An argument referred to as the the “trillion meal study” has been presented as proof that GMO food is safe. It goes like this: because feed animals have consumed trillions of GMO crop meals, this proves that GMO crops pose no health hazards. The “trillion meal study” argument is a joke however for anyone that knows how long livestock tend to live. Usually livestock animals live only up to two years, not enough time for many problems like cancer to surface. Think about it. Most livestock is used for meat production. It makes the most business sense then to feed those animals until they reach an adult weight, usually two years or less for larger animals like cattle and hogs. For broiler chickens the slaughter age is less than 6 weeks. Laying hens tend to be slaughtered just after two years. A literature review study from Snell et al. which has been conducted by GMO proponents bears this out. All the studies they examined looked at animals that lived between only 90 days and two years.
Here’s a simple way for more people to accept GMO foods. Ban GMO patents. Many people fear GMOs because they know companies, and by association the people that control them, are psychopathic-like with only their own interests at heart. (You can read the books “Snakes in Suits” or “Corporate Psychopaths” to understand this.) They know that, when given the chance, these companies ideal end game is to control the food supply and with that the world’s population. People know that mainstream “science” magazines exist due to the advertising dollars pumped in by such conscience-less companies. People know that it’s difficult to get a scientist to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. Rational people should have no problem with GMO food provided that massive psychopathic companies are not going to end up controlling our food supply. When only people with good intentions create a GMO, we know that there is little to no chance that any problems with that GMO will get buried as they are now.
Michael Fullerton is a software designer based in Vernon BC Canada. His writing explores and exposes pathological skepticism and the corporate pseudo-science it tends to serve. He also has an intense interest in organizational psychopathy, or how psychopaths rise up in organizational structures of all kinds. As a pantheist he strives to be part of the movement to unify spirituality and science.