1. Shut up about Monsanto - Just like how you can't get into an argument about climate change without the other side bringing up Al Gore, you can't discuss GMOs without somebody talking about Monsanto. It's frustrating with the Al Gore thing because I don't give a crap about him one way or the other. Let's say that everything that Gore's critics say is true just for the sake of argument - it still doesn't have crap-all to do with whether climate change is real or not. Al Gore can be a major dickwheel and it doesn't change the fact that human activity is having a major impact on the world's climate.
Same goes for Monsanto. Supposedly they're an evil corporation that makes GMOs. For the sake of argument, I'm just going to go ahead and give you that. They're the most evil corporation in the world, and Satan himself is the C.E.O. However, that has jack-all to do with whether GMOs are safe or not. These are two separate conversations.
2. Watch out for the bullshit - Something about GMOs has people so freaked out that they'll believe anything about them so long as its negative. One that pops up into my mind is a meme that I saw on Facebook that showed a couple of rats with large lumps on their bodies. The text stated that GMOs were to blame. This quickly had my skeptic-senses tingling, as I used to own pet rats. Guess what you can expect if you're going to own rats? Those things are going to get tumors as sure as most cats will get hairballs. I did a little bit of reading, and sure enough, the whole thing is bogus.
Look, if GMOs really are as awful as the critics will have you think, then I want to know about it. I have nothing to gain by eating food that's not safe. However, if they really are so bad, then why spread stuff that's not true? I don't have to make up crimes about Charles Manson to make him look like a bad guy, do I? Of course not.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not making a definitive statement about the safety of GMOs one way or the other. I just know that I've run into a few of these bogus rumors. I'm just saying to not believe everything you hear.
3. Everybody's trying to make money! - I have no problem believing that big corporations want to use GMOs to help their profit line. However, their critics are selling crap too with their "all natural" products. It's just like when practitioners of "alternative" medicine criticize "Big Pharma" for trying to make a profit and then turn around and try and sell some homeopathic snake oil.
4. Consider the source - This could be a blog post in and of itself. But generally speaking, avoid sites like Natural News where the writers obviously lack basic scientific literacy. (I'll admit that this point is probably my weakest one - like I said, it could be an entire post, and I want to move on. Perhaps I'll return to the subject more in-depth soon.)
5. Nature is trying to kill you! - Is there any more ridiculous of a buzz word than "natural" or the phrase "all natural"? Guess what? Nature wants you dead. The entire history of our species involves us fighting nature and trying to control it so it kills us less often. If nature had its way, we'd all still be dying at around the age 40 of all kinds of illnesses (not to mention starvation). Nothing you eat grew that way without some kind of battle against nature, so stop thinking that nature equals good.
6. Everything is chemicals! - This isn't necessarily GMO-related, but I recently saw a post on Facebook that contained the phrase: "Stop using chemicals and start supporting organic farmers." Stop using chemicals? How the hell are you going to do that? EVERYTHING IS CHEMICALS. Using that word as a catch-all for "stuff that's bad" is ignorant at best, downright dishonest at worst. Should we avoid chemicals that harm us? Absolutely. Should we freak out because something's a chemical? No.
We shouldn't even freak out about every supposed "harmful" chemical either, as some are only harmful in large doses. For instance, apple seeds contain cyanide. Cyanide is a poison that can kill people. However, you'll have to eat an orchard-full of them to kill you. So, keep eating apple seeds if it makes you happy - your body can handle it.
So there you have it. Obviously, I'm writing this because I'm a shill for Monsanto (not to mention Big Pharma). Seriously though, I'm not making any declarative statements about GMOs and/or what constitutes healthy eating. I'm just saying that if we're going to make smart decisions about these issues, we need to use reason and logic - not buzz words and hysteria. If the anti-GMO crowd is right, then I want to know it. As of now, I hear a lot more hype than facts - but maybe I'm not hearing from the right people.