WERU News Report 5/13/15

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Engineer: John Greenman

Topic: Backlash against the anti-GMO movement

Back in the 90s environmental activists were the first to start warning about dangers potentially posed by advances in genetic engineering. Since that time an estimated 60+ countries have banned or restricted genetically modified organisms – or “GMOs” in food, and the movement to at least label foods containing GMOs has gone mainstream, transcending political borders. You’re just as likely to see calls to action from the right as you are from the left these days. But now we’re seeing what appears to be a concerted backlash.

I say “concerted” because the talking points are repeated, almost verbatim, in one online post after another. Those who oppose GMOs are compared to climate change deniers. They are accused of having irrational fears that are not based in science. The argument is made that we’ve been genetically modifying organisms since the advent of farming and this is no different. In March, the Guardian ran an article by 2 former presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, with the heading: “The anti-GM lobby appears to be taking a page out of the Climategate playbook. Climate change is real and GM technology is safe, but those in denial want to undermine the public understanding of science with misinformation and pseudo-debate”. And when Chipotle restaurant recently announced that they will no longer knowingly serve GMO food, New York Magazine responded with an article titled “Chipotle Is Promoting Opportunistic Anti-Science Hysteria”.
Even Bill Nye the so-called “Science Guy” changed his position on GMOs earlier this year –following a visit to Monsanto. In March, backstage at the Bill Maher show, Bill Nye said “I have revised my outlook, and am very excited about telling the world. When you’re in love, you want to tell the world!” – though he offered no details about what he learned that changed his mind.

GMO crops are being promoted as the answer to world hunger and a way to reduce pesticide use by supporters as well as the mega corporations that own the technology.
So what IS the science behind the opposition to GMOs? Or is it all an emotional response to the unknown? And does there need to be a proven risk before these products are labeled? We pose those questions to our guests, then open the phone lines and invite listeners to join the discussion.

Nancy Oden is a long time antiGMO – she attended the first GMO int’l symposium many years ago, and has been working on the issue since that time thru grassroots organizing as well as working with the legislature;
Heather Spaulding is Maine Organic Farmers and Gardener’s Association’s Deputy Director. (www.mofga.org)

Credit: An excerpt was used from a HuffPost Live interview with Bill Nye