Pro-GMO campaigners attack opponents of the technology by claiming that critics rely on quackery on the Internet or on some form of discredited science that is only carried out by those whom the "scientific community" has seen fit to marginalize.
The argument is that a powerful, ideologically motivated group is holding the world ransom and is conspiring to mislead the public and prevent the spread of GM, which, according to pro-GMO activists, is denying the poor and hungry of the world access to food.
In a recent post on Huffington Post, Jon Entine borrowed from this line of attack to denigrate Rachel Parent, teen activist and founder of Kids Right To Know (KRTK). He calls Parent a well-polished "crusader" against GM food. He also alleges the KRTK website offers a stream of anti-GMO studies that are mostly a combination of fringe research and a collection of discredited, misconstrued and biased studies.
Entine claims to present a "well-reasoned critical analysis" of Rachel Parent's views by referring readers to a blog that we are informed contains hundreds of independent studies on GM that all show safety. On examination, these studies do nothing of the sort.
Entine is an industry attack dog and engages in "hit pieces." If he wants to talk about people posing as a tool for vested interests (which he claims Parent is), he is on very thin ice indeed: see "The making of an agribusiness apologist" by Tom Philpott.
The solution to hunger and food insecurity does not lie with some bogus techno quick-fix.
We hear much about the wonders of GM, but the reality is that GM crops have been fraudulently placed on the commercial market, have contributed nothing to alleviating food poverty or food insecurity (have actually undermined it) and have caused a great deal of damage to health and the environment and livelihoods, too.
The path to feeding the world lies in helping smallholder farmers to develop their (non-GMO) methods in the Global South, where the majority of hungry people live. These farmers are the backbone of global food production. It also depends on challenging rigged trade, neo-liberal economics, structural inequalities and food commodity speculation, among other issues.
We now have food surplus countries in the West which mirror food deficit areas elsewhere. These areas have become dependent on (U.S.) agricultural imports and strings-attached loans and aid. Look no further than Africa to see what has happened. At the time of decolonisation in the 1960s, Africa was not just self-sufficient in food, but was actually a net food exporter. Today, almost every country is a net food importer.
Food and agriculture has become wedded to power structures that have restructured indigenous agriculture across the world and tied it to an international system of trade based on export-oriented mono-cropping, commodity production for a manipulated and volatile international market and indebtedness to international financial institutions.
If the pro-GMO lobby really does care about the plight of the poor and hungry -- as it claims to -- why does it not challenge these power structures instead of attacking those who campaign against them? It cynically attempts to hide what amounts to an iron fist of neoliberal ideogy in a velvet glove of fake humanitarianism.
The solution to hunger and food insecurity does not lie with some bogus techno quick-fix. It lies in nations prioritizing food self-sufficiency and extricating themselves from a system of international trade and markets that have been devised to benefit the interests of the U.S. and its agribusiness companies.
The push to privilege GM ahead of anything else serves the commercial agenda of transnational agribusiness (and marginalizes other models of agriculture that deliver proven results) and acts as an ideological and political device that diverts attention away from a globalized economic system which is fuelled by and serves the companies that certain figures -- who are fond of projecting themselves as being on the side of "sound science" -- seek to protect.
In the book Altered Genes, Twisted Truth, Steven Druker highlights how GM is not based on sound science at all but on the systematic subversion of it. Moreover, biotechnology seed companies, aided by advocates from academia and the blogopsphere, are using their substantial resources to broadcast the myth of a "scientific consensus" on the safety of GMOs.
In its 2014 report, Food & Water Watch dismisses the so-called scientific consensus that the pro-GMO lobby promotes. The well-referenced report notes that the scientific bodies that purportedly are part of the "consensus" are few in number and are by no means representative of the entire scientific community. The report notes the positions of many leading scientific institutions and academies across the world that the pro-GMO consensus campaign has used to forward its case. It concludes that the campaign uses a mix of cherry-picked quotes, industry-backed sources and misrepresentations of positions held to feed its spin.
Hundreds of independent scientists in relevant fields have come forward to condemn the GMO-consensus campaign. The claim that all credible science is on the side of GM and only a few incompetent maverick scientists indulge in anti-GM pseudo-science is propaganda and nothing else.
The pro-GMO lobby likes to cite big lists of studies that supposedly make the case for GMO. Sift through these studies and it becomes clear the case for GM is being misrepresented via a mix of industry-supported sources and studies that in reality do not claim there is safety regarding GM and which are often not independent of the bio-tech industry.
The massive wealth of the biotech/agribusiness industry has been translated into political clout within the media, science and governments. The smear campaigns engaged in by pro-GMO crusaders are intended to denigrate all criticism of GMOs in the eyes of the public, from wherever it comes. The type of hit pieces that the pro-GMO lobby indulges in indicates a certain desperation and demonstrates a failure to convince the public of the need for GM.
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A picture taken on October 9, 2008 shows an ultralight helicopter hovering above a field where Greenpeace activists and Austrian organic farming association BIO AUSTRIA wrote the message 'NO GMO' (Genetically Modified Organism) by planting light green coloured organic buckwheat in a field of organic peas in Breitenfurt, some 60 kms south east from Vienna. (DIETER NAGL/AFP/Getty Images)
Thirty-five tons of corn put by Greenpace activists at Mexico City's Zocalo Square as a protest against the sowing of transgenic corn, form a map of Mexico on February 26, 2009. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)
People walk on a plateform past an advert against genetically modified (GMO) food on February 15, 2011 at a subway station in Paris. (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Greenpeace activists demonstrate against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on November 24, 2008 in front of EU headquarters in Brussels. Greenpeace called on the European Union to suspend the authorization of GMOs until the EU is capable of evaluating the risks they pose. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Greenpeace activists stand a protest in front of Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City against the farming of transgenic corn in Mexico, on June 26, 2009. (ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Greenpeace activist impersonating Brazil's Chief of Staff Dilma Russeff takes part in a protest against the authorization to grow transgenic rice during a meeting of the National Biosecurity Technical Commission (CYNBIO) at the Science and Technology Ministry in Brasilia October 15, 2009. (JOEDSON ALVES/AFP/Getty Images)
Greenpeace activists distribute samples of transgenic rice as part of a protest against the authorization to grow transgenic rice during a meeting of the National Biosecurity Technical Commission (CYNBIO) at the Science and Technology Ministry in Brasilia October 15, 2009. (JOEDSON ALVES/AFP/Getty Images)
The logo of French 'Les faucheurs volontaires' (Volunteer trimmers of GMO) is seen as demonstrators stand in front of the booth of French union 'la confederation paysanne' (farmers union) during an action against GMO at the International Agricultural Fair on March 6, 2010 in Paris. The European Commission authorised, on March 2, the cultivation of a genetically modified potato, developed by BASF, the first such green light for 12 years. The issue of so-called 'frankenfoods' has long been a matter of fierce debate in Europe and the commission stressed that the Amflora potato in question would be able to be grown only for 'industrial use' including animal feed, rather than for human consumption. (BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
A couple waves after a parody of union between German chemical giant BASF (L) and the European Food Safety Authority (R) - Autorite europeenne de securite des aliments- (EFSA) during the International Agricultural Fair on March 6, 2010 in Paris. (BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
A giant banner depicting a farm, is seen as Greenpeace activists hold banners to protest against the genetically modified (GMO) food production in front of the parliament building of Budapest on February 10, 2010. (ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)
A grey-cow is pictured near Greenpeace activists in traditional Hungarian costume standing in front of a giant banner depicting a farm as others hold a banner reading 'GMO-free Europe' to protest against the genetically modified (GMO) food production in front of the parliament building of Budapest on February 10, 2011 during a demonstration. (ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)
Greenpeace activists hold a banner to protest against the genetically modified (GMO) food production in front of the parliament building of Budapest on February 10, 2010. (ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)
A man dressed up as a bee holds a placard during a demonstration organized by French Professional Beekeepers Federation (FFAP) to protest against the use of pesticide on September 14, 2011 along the Saint-Bernard quay in Paris. (JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) demonstrators protest in front of Colmar courthouse on September 28, 2011, eastern France, during the trial of 60 militants accused of destroying MGO plants. (FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
An anti-GMO activist holds a banner reading 'Science without conscience is but the ruin of soul' during an action to call for the ban of the 'MON 810', a variety of genetically modified maize (corn) developed by Monsanto Company on January 23, 2012 at a Monsanto storehouse in Trebes near Carcassonne, southern France. (ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Prop 37 in California proposes that genetically modified food be labeled "GMO". If you knew your food was genetically modified, would you still eat it?
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