Every now and then, someone really gets it.
This past June, it was Alex Berezow, the founding editor of RealClearSciencewhose piece The Lies that Whole Foods Tells blew the doors off of Whole Foods and their less-than-truthful marketing practices.
This time, it is Michael Schulson, whose new piece in The Daily Beast addresses the same topic from a somewhat different angle, and none too gently. It is a must read for anyone who is confused by, or on the fence on the GM food controversy.
As if channeling the ACSH mantra, Schulson s first sentence says it all: Cute labels saying products haven't been genetically modified are designed to profit off of fear, not protect you with science.
He could not be more right.
ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom says, Fear-and-ignorance-based junk or anti-science is so pervasive in today s literature that is impossible for someone without expertise in science or epidemiology essentially no one to know what to believe. These junk studies then become fodder for agenda-driven groups, and the press, who use them shamelessly to make a point, despite the fact that the study rarely supports that point.
Schulson jumps in with both feet, explaining why the use of labels that differentiate between GM and non-GM foods is meaningless and arbitrary: A label like that of the Non-GMO Project, though, is uniquely effective at making GMOs seem scary. It highlights and exaggerates the prevalence of GMOs in other sections of your grocery store.
He adds, It is obvious who benefits from the false premise that there is any inherent difference in safety of GM foods and those that have been traditionally bred. Schulson points out the obvious: When people become scared of something like GMOs, a company like Whole Foods stands to profit.
Dr. Bloom adds, In other words, whenever controversies like this pop up, a look behind the curtain pretty much always reveals the real answer: money, and how companies in the various industries want yours. And they are willing to go to great lengths to get it.
ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava agrees, People often say they don t want GMOs because they re just a ploy by big agribusiness to make money. But that s exactly what the organic industry is doing here, with their promotion of labeling campaigns and No GMOs mantra. Further, stymieing the development of GMO crops does a real disservice to public health.
Schulson distills the issue to its essence: For some of the natural food-oriented companies that back GMO labeling, it s fairly obvious that idealism isn t their only motive, because they re owned by major agribusiness companies that use GMOs and oppose labeling. Three of Just Label It s major supporters, for example Annie s Homegrown, Ben & Jerry s, and Honest Tea are owned by companies on Just Label It s list of major GMO offenders (General Mills, Unilever, and Coca-Cola, respectively).
This is nothing new to us at ACSH, but it is comforting to see that little by little, the GM myths are being exposed, and people are actually changing their minds about this crucial issue. The lives of millions of people in poorer countries are at stake. GM foods, such as golden rice, are the best hope of preventing illness and death in parts of the world where they do not have the luxury of a supermarket, or even anything close to a nutritious diet.