|Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
I found this excellent article on Forbes that highlights the horrible job the mainstream media does when representing GMOs. It’s no wonder people think they’re something scary. Unfortunately, they’re willing to print statements by so-called “experts” that are no more than cronies for the organic industry. This is, again, why it is SO important for us to get the truth about GMOs out. (And, no, that doesn’t mean we’re all just Monsanto hacks.)
“As Jon Entine of the Genetic Literacy Project reports, reporters often distort controversial issues like agricultural biotechnology by embracing the “false equivalency” construct—the reflexive assumption that “reality” is halfway between whatever two contending sides assert.
Consider the case of Discover magazine, which features a troubling cover story on the anti-agricultural biotechnology movement in its April issue. Simply said,Discover gives unwarranted weight to the views of anti-GM activists and in the process raises questions about the ability of even the most credible science publications to avoid the perils of false balance when covering agricultural biotech.
Discover carries two reports: the cover piece profiles the GMO debate in Europe and a sidebar looks at what is happening in the U.S. Both set off shocked reactions in the Twittersphere from scientists and the science-minded.
As Keith Kloor pointed out in a sharply worded Collide-A-Scape blog(coincidentally hosted by the Discover website, where he is a respected contributor), the articles offer up a laundry list of familiar criticisms: biotech crops are untested; they hasten environmental degradation; they result in unstoppable superweeds; they pose health threats; they increase ‘dangerous’ pesticide usage; they could unleash unpredictable Frankenstein-like creatures into the world ecosystem; and so on.
These allegations—all of which are either demonstrably untrue or exaggerations of problems that are present in all of agriculture (including organic farming)—are the currency of such groups as the Environmental Working Group and the Union of Concerned Scientists, which make no pretense of their ideological rather than scientific opposition to GMOs.
Kloor quoted respected science blogger and commentator Rachael Ludwick, who pointed out that the articles merely rehash anti-GMO talking points. Charles Benbrook, she noted, is prominently quoted and identified as an “agricultural policy expert.” He’s nothing of the sort. Benbrook is an activist researcher with a long history of biased reporting about the ‘pesticide footprint’ associated with GM crops. He has few admirers in the mainstream science community and has deep financial ties to the organics.
Discover allows Benbrook to assert, unchallenged, that the “science just hasn’t been done” on GMO crops. This is just poor reporting. “There are hundreds upon hundreds of studies … on the EPA’s website” evaluating the safety of GMOs, far more than has been done on conventionally grown foods, where some genuine health-related problems in fact have been found, Ludwick noted.”
Keep reading here.
(By the way, if you want to take a look at those studies on the EPA’s website, you can do so here.)