Saturday, July 5, 2014

Anti-GMO - who benefits?

Cui Bono?
If there's one thing I hate, it's when people who are on my side continue to propagate falsehoods in the name of our mutual cause. I see this sometimes with atheism, as there are atheists who tout the load of bullpucky, Zeitgeist, as a good resource for debunking the Jesus story. There's also the oft-repeated myth about the similarities between Jesus and the Egyptian god, Horus. I'll admit to having fallen for that one, and I may have even shared it on Facebook when I first saw it. Still, I like to question everything, and it started to sound suspicious whenever I'd look into books and websites on Egyptian mythology and yet I couldn't find these Jesus-like attributes to Horus anywhere.

I would hope that those who are concerned over GMOs would have the same point of view, because there's a lot of nonsense out there. I've already shared the link about the rats with tumors, but I've found some more bunk that's out there. There's the story about the Kraft Mac & Cheese label. There's another one about deadly Monsanto corn. Oh, and Monsanto cucumbers supposedly give you genital baldness.  Probably the most egregious one involves the claim that GMO insulin causes Type 1 Diabetes in those who have Type 2 Diabetes.

No matter how you feel about this issue, I think we can all agree that telling lies helps nobody. Also, this is starting to beg the question - who is benefiting from all of this misinformation? Why is it going out there in the first place? Do the people who put this stuff out there know that they're lying? And if they are, why are they doing it?

I am going to propose no definitive answer on this. However, people who lean toward the anti-GMO/pro-organic side will tell you that you should be aware of the sources you investigate. After all, there are companies who have a direct interest in making a profit, and there are plenty of examples where corporations will stretch the truth in order to satisfy the bottom line. (See: bottled water companies.) This is a good point, but I think that's only the first step. You need to seriously question EVERYBODY.

Whenever I go to Costco, the people who give out the free samples are always very sure to announce when their products contain no GMOs and are organic (other selling points - no high fructose corn syrup, and no gluten). Check out Whole Foods, and those are selling points there as well. Now, I'm not trying to demonize either one of these companies (although I might take Whole Foods to task for their selling of homeopathic "medicine") but let's face facts - they're not charities. They're businesses, and they'll do what they need to do to make money.

Now, you might say that those labels are the equivalent of saying: "Our food doesn't contain rat poison." I don't think that anybody would fault them for using that as a selling point of that sort of thing was a genuine concern. Maybe they're using those labels for good reason, but the fact is, it's a selling point - whether the reasons are legitimate or not.

Honestly, I'm not saying that these companies are to blame for all the misinformation that's making the rounds. I think that a more likely suspect is the various "health" websites out there who use sensationalism and alarming headlines to achieve page hits (and links to whatever snake oil that they're selling).

I just think that asking the question "Who benefits from this?" is one that you should ask of everything. The answer won't always be something sinister, but it's always worth asking.

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