The pro-GMO lobby always demands that its opponents produce scientific evidence to back up their claims. Parts of this lobby smear and attack people like Vandana Shiva, Professor G.E. Seralini and others for supposedly being incompetent, ‘liars’ or ideological/politically motivated (for example, read this piece on Shiva that calls her a liar, especially the part on farmer suicides – then see the evidence that Shiva provides to back up her claims here).
In its view, anti-GMO campaigners or certain scientists are ignorant, engage in bogus science or are ‘demagogues’ who use emotion and ideological rhetoric to sway opinion.
Let us address these accusations.
The pro-GMO lobby demands its opponents back up their (wild) claims with peer-reviewed studies.
Perhaps, just for a start, GMO supporters should read ‘An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of GM crops and food‘ and ‘Adverse impacts of transgenic crops/food: a compilation of scientific references with abstracts‘.
The pro-GMO lobby says the debate on GMOs is over because there is a scientific consensus on their efficacy among the ‘scientific community’.
Another bogus accusation. See here for evidence pertaining to a lack of consensus.
GMO supporters argue that GMOs can prevent hunger, while trendy ‘elitist’ activists are merely serving to steal the food from people’s mouths.
See here for the evidence that says GMOs are actually causing food insecurity, see here to discover that GMOs are not required to feed the hungry millions and see here to read that ‘eco farming’ is a much more suitable and sustainable strategy that could double food production within a decade. Also see this report based on the input of over 400 scientists that took four years to complete, which was twice peer reviewed, and states we must look to small-holder, traditional farming (not GMOs) to deliver food security in poorer countries through agri-ecological systems which are sustainable. Moreover, see here to read about the serious health impacts of GMO-driven agriculture and here to discover how GMO agribusiness is devastating communities and driving genocide and ecocide in South America.
The pro-GMO lobby asserts that it relies solely on peer-reviewed science and dispassionate reason.
While some contest the claims of Vandana Shiva pertaining to farmer suicides, which she supports with statistical evidence and correlations, they then call her a ‘liar’. A liar is someone who deliberately sets out to deceive. The evidence she supplies may or may not stack up, but that is open to ongoing debate and interpretation. But the same can be said of many of the studies that the pro-GMO lobby puts forward, which have been contested, see here and in this report here (go to section three of the report), on the basis of conclusions overstepping the evidence or inconvenient findings being dismissed as not significant when they are.
Aside from emotive name calling, where else does emotion, ideology or falsehood play a part in the pro-GMO lobby’s side of the debate? That’s clear to see if we look at this on Owen Patterson, this on Anne Glover and this on Kevin Folta. In fact, these aspects are quite commonplace.
On a more general level regarding ‘dispassionate reason’ informing the debate, see what former Monsanto boss in India said in this piece in India Today ‘Monsanto faked data for its approvals, claims ex-chief‘. See here to discover what method it used in Indonesia to force its products into that country. See here and here to find out how the industry restricts access to its own research conducted on its products. See here to discover how it sidesteps science when its interests are threatened and to gain wider insight into how the GMO agritech sector is distorting scientific practice and debasing the ethos of science.
It seems to be a case of peer-reviewed science to support the anti-GMO case but ‘anything goes’, including science that is anything but open to public scrutiny or peer reviewed (see here), from GMO agritech.
And yet the onslaught by the GMO agritech industry and its mouthpieces against those who legitimately and scientifically contest the claims about the efficacy of GMOs is relentless.
Just ask Arpad Pusztai, P. M. Bhargava, Judy Carman, Terje Traavik, AndrÃ©s Carrasco, Ignacio Chapela, Allison Snow, Marc LappÃ©, Britt Bailey, Bela Darvas and G. E. Seralini. These scientists have all either been threatened, smeared or hindered in their work because their research called into question the safety and/or efficacy of GMOs or associated products (see this ‘GMO researchers attacked, evidence denied and apopulation at risk’).
Such tactics appear to come easy to the pro-GMO lobby. For instance, see here for a revealing description of how the GMO sector sets up front groups and fake identities with the sole aim of attacking scientists and activists or promoting its propaganda.
This is what happens to scientists who attempt to engage with the GMO issue on a scientific or rational level. The hypocrisy of those from the pro-GMO lobby who call for sound science to inform the debate on GMOs is glaringly obvious.
When GMO supporters mount personal attacks and accuse prominent anti-GMO campaigners of being liars, it is useful to ask what credibility they themselves have: for example, bearing in mind the attack on Vandana Shiva mentioned at the start, see this by Tom Philpott on the author of that particular smear piece.
When the GMO agritech sector and its supporters set out to attack others in the ways outlined here, it is a blatant tactic of psychological projection: a self-defence mechanism that denies the existence of such characteristics in itself, while attributing them to others. In other words, those who argue against GMOs are accused of not having science or facts on their side and of engaging in propaganda and lying, while it is clear the pro-GMO lobby that hurls such allegations is itself guilty of such things.
This diversionary tactic of projection goes hand in glove with a strident populist agenda whereby the pro-GMO lobby portrays itself as on the side of the people, while its opponents are ‘elitists’ and are ‘stealing food from the bellies of the poor’. This is a typical tactic of corporate propaganda.
Reality is being twisted to make opponents appear guilty of the things the pro-GMO lobby is engaging in, not least ‘elitism’ (for example, see this and this on how elite interests are seeking to control global agriculture).
Lace the tactics of projection and populism with an unhealthy dose of cheap, fallacious character assassination and you have the basis for a very transparent and predictable propaganda campaign.
For the most comprehensive report on GMOs on the web, read this: http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/
Colin Todhunter is an independent writer and former social policy researcher. Originally from the UK, he has spent many years in India. His website is East by Northwest