When my editor tasked me with writing a light piece about GMOs, I figured it would be easy but wanted to do a bit of research so I could view both sides of the coin. I posted an innocuous request for information to my friends on Facebook, hoping for a few good research links and some civilized discussion.
This was a huge mistake. I would sooner eat a raw human heart with my bare hands than wade into those terrifying waters again. A raw human heart... that’s been treated with antibiotics.
When the lazy method of research — the court of public opinion — yields no Frankenfruit, you need to commit yourself to gluing yourself the right way. While the rest of you were playing Pokémon GO, I read about a thousand articles representing every possible viewpoint on GMOs. That’s right — I am missing out on a cultural phenomenon for you guys. Now I’m the girl at the party who wants to talk about soybean farming instead of leveling up my Zubat. You’re welcome.
After reading all the information I could find, weighing the good with the bad, here’s my conclusion: GMOs are great. Really, really great. And Facebook is stupid, and I should probably do more research on things instead of believing everything that shows up in my social media feeds. Did you know that Nicolas Cage is not a vampire? I had no idea!
Most of the websites I had been shown regarding why GMOs are dangerous — Mercola, Natural News, Food Babe — are houses of cards built on the finest grains of truth. There's not a lot of real science backing up any of their claims. They’ll cite studies that were not conducted by reputable scientists, if they were scientists at all. Many “doctors” don't check out. You know that just because you have a doctorate doesn't mean you know anything about medicine, right? You don't need to take one single science course to get your Ph.D. in air conditioning repair.
Which leads me to…
Those sites I mentioned above? You think they're nonprofits people run in their spare time to educate the greater good?
The “wellness” industry is a multitrillion dollar industry. That’s right — not millions, not billions, but trillions. The sector exclusively dedicated to food is worth over $570 billion. How’s that for profit? Some of the industry is legit, but there's plenty that is straight-up quackery that uses fear to make lots and lots of money. They post something with a terrifying headline: Something you eat every day gives you cancer, iPads give your kids autism, etc. You freak out and share the article a million times. All your friends do the same. The websites get bajillions of page views, their advertisers pay them lots of money, and you've helped Dr. Tony DeVito of Stay Cool HVAC Repair get that much closer to early retirement.
You want actual science from real scientific studies? Check out National Center for Biotechnology Information's website. It's a searchable government archive of reliable scientific research. You can also use the internet to easily check the research findings of the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins and many other top hospitals and universities.
It is true, though, that there are evil corporations out there that are probably fucking with us. But for the most part, that’s not why corporations get founded. They exist to make things, like your job and the computer you will be using to leave tons of angry comments in about 30 seconds (though I'm sure many of you aren't actually reading the article and just skipping to the comments section, since that's where the real facts are shared).
Because GMO wheat is not and has never been sold to the public. And odds are you probably can eat gluten — true cases of celiac disease are rare. Many of the improvements in health reported by people who have stopped eating gluten and GMOs are due to the fact that by eliminating those things from your diet, you’re eating less crap food — and less food in general. Easy to avoid eating an entire package of Oreos when you think you’re allergic to them.
Nearly all fruits, vegetables and meat have been genetically modified over thousands of years by selective breeding and hybridization of crops. Livestock isn't supposed to be domesticated.
“But those methods are natural!" you say. “They're not done in a lab!”
What the hell is wrong with a lab? You know that was where they found penicillin, right? And eradicated polio and smallpox, helping the disabled live a better quality of life, and where they are curing cancers? They're not scary places run by people running around with giant needles, experimenting on aliens, shouting about how they're going to destroy the human race and laughing maniacally. If you’re arguing that we shouldn't play God, remember that the reason you're reading this right now instead of having died from childbirth or dysentery is because we’ve been playing God for a while.
Sure, there are probably labs out there that are selfishly working on ways to force people to live past 100 so they can force them to get hooked on their medications during the 30 some odd years modern medicine has added to the average life span over the past century. That's a given. But think about this very seriously: Do any of us really want to eat a watermelon with seeds? (Seedless watermelons were genetically engineered in the 1930s, BTW. We’ve been using labs for a long, long time.)
One of the most common anti-GMO arguments I've heard is that we already produce more than enough food to feed all the people on Earth, so this “greater good” talk is nonsense. Yes, that fact checks out, but most of this food is produced and consumed in the Western world. Here in America, we throw out up to 40 percent of our food. We’re just as complicit in this mess as the corporate devils are.
Then come the cries of, “If that's the case, then we should just send all our extra food to poor countries!” Problem is, most people in impoverished regions rely on agriculture to make a living. When there’s a poor crop due to things like blight or natural factors, these people don't make money. One of the primary factors leading to the current Syrian refugee crisis was a years-long drought that devastated their farms, destroyed the economy and plunged millions into abject poverty. If the solution is just to send “our food” over there, you've stripped millions of people who are already living in poverty of their livelihood.
Know what can solve some of these problems? GMOs. Many cash crops have been engineered to be resistant to crop-destroying viruses by a modification method akin to vaccination. Staple crops like rice are being engineered to eradicate vitamin deficiencies in children that lead to a lifetime of health problems. It's not just “putting pig DNA into tomatoes” or whatever else you've heard. It's science working to save the planet.
Because they haven't. The EU passed a law saying that its member nations can opt to ban GMOs based on environmental and economic concerns; they are not allowed to ban them for concerns regarding health, as most GMO crops have been deemed safe by the European Food Safety Authority (aka Actual Scientists).
What does this boil down to? Countries can prohibit certain GMOs as a back end way of halting the importation of crops, meat and seeds. It's a way to increase the profits of evil profit-driven farmer corporations.
Seriously, 99 percent of the (reputable) research I've seen leads back to the fact that every GMO policy has nothing to do with health — it all comes down to money.
So do Neil deGrasse Tyson and thousands of other scientists who are not famous, but I assure you they know what they're talking about.
More scientists believe in the safety of GMOs than those who believe in climate change. These are people who actually know what they're talking about, and yes, they know more than you do. I can't believe that the opinions of people who are highly educated in this field are being disputed with bullshit articles people had found on the internet. Listen to yourselves, people. This is crazy talk.
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