I myself have signed numerous petitions outside food co-ops demanding regulation, testing, labeling, and even the outlawing of GMOs. They sure sound scary, don’t they? And isn’t super-duper-evil mega corporation Monsanto involved?
Then one day I said something like that out loud and realized how uninformed and overreactive I sounded. Like a climate-change denier or a vaccine-boycotter. “Oh my gawd, it’s just so, like, weird sounding. You just know it can’t be good.”
Just know? Did I just say that? Am I seriously signing petitions and vocally railing against something I’ve never read a single scientific article on, based solely on blind faith in the lady I’ve never met who handed me a clipboard outside a place I blithely refer to as “the Hippy Connection?”
People who “just know” things in line at the supermarket tend to “just know” that the government is hiding aliens at Roswell or that Charles killed Princess Di or that you can’t swim right after you eat. These are the people who ask me if I’m buying jumbo tubs of plain yogurt for “ethnic reasons.” (My whole life people have assumed I’m Jewish. idgaf but I do wonder why.) These are the people who shout at the Philipino-American cashier who was born in the same hospital as they were because they assume she won’t understand English. They ask me if I am a vegetarian. (“You sure do buy a lotta vegetables. Aren’t you worried you won’t get enough protein?”)
So I got off my lazy ass and did some Googling. (Well, I stayed on my lazy ass. I just read some articles. But read them all the way through! No tl;dr this time. No, sir.)
But I will give you a tl;dr version, cuz I’m cool like that.
The following links explain what GMOs actually are, that they are considered by a wide consensus of scientists (the world over and not all employed by Monsanto, I assure you) that they are safe and that they really do get evaluated carefully before being “unleashed” on the public (no, we are not being used as guinea pigs in a global health experiment, listen to yourself, jeez), that most of the horror stories you have heard are either total falsehoods or based on retracted studies that were unsound and have been roundly disproven, and that GMOs actually do good things like reduce pesticide usage, increase crop yields, increase farmer’s profits, and help stave off preventable dietarily-induced diseases like pellagra and blindness. (But Monstanto still sucks. That part is true.)
“A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops.” By Wilhelm Klümper & Matin Qaim. PLOS ONE.
“Frequently asked questions on genetically modified foods.” World Health Organization.
“The Debate About GMO Safety Is Over, Thanks To A New Trillion-Meal Study.” By John Entine. Forbes.
“Standing Up for GMOs.” By Bruce Alberts, et al. Science magazine.
“Top Five Myths Of Genetically Modified Seeds, Busted.” by Dan Charles. NPR’s blog The Salt.
“Core Truths: 10 Common GMO Claims Debunked.” By Brooke Borel. Popular Science.
For those of you who said, “But but but cancer in rats!”: “Paper Tying Rat Cancer to Herbicide Is Retracted.” By Andrew Pollacknov. New York Times.
And this one is just a great (though sad) read about a Hawaiian politician trying to get the facts and do the right thing for the people of his island amid outcry, bluster, rhetoric, and plain old fear: “A Lonely Quest for Facts on Genetically Modified Crops.”