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GMOs
Millennials Spurn the Food That Will Feed the Future

Let’s get this out of the way: genetically modified foods are perfectly safe for human consumption. Study after study, and even a study of those aforementioned studies (how meta) have shown this to be true—the science is very clear on this.

But the modern environmental movement has successfully inflamed fears of unnatural “frankenfoods” in the minds of a wary public. 47 percent of adults aged 18-49 bought food labeled “GMO-free” in the past month, according to a recent Pew Research poll, and 41 percent of adults over the age of 50 followed suit. That’s a huge number of Americans that are being taken in by Luddite fear mongering, but as Pew Research reports, this attitude is especially common in young people:

Younger adults are also more likely to expect GM foods to lead to harm for the population as a whole. Those ages 18 to 29 are more inclined than those 65 and older to say it is very likely that GM foods will lead to health problems for the population (21% vs. 8%). Younger adults also are more likely than those 65 and older to say GM foods will create problems for the environment (25% vs. 9% of seniors).

For a generation that likes to think of itself as “woke,” that will justify the veracity of anthropogenic climate change with a simple “because science” explanation, this is a remarkable repudiation of expert opinion. This is a serious problem, because if we’re to have any hope of feeding the world’s teeming billions on a crowded and warmer planet, we are without doubt going to need genetically modified crops.

The fact that our youngest adults are also the most likely to reject GMOs also suggests that this problem is going to get worse before it gets better. That ought to send a shiver down the spine of anyone concerned about humanity’s future food security, but if there’s a silver lining, it’s this:

[A]dults younger than 30 also are more inclined than those 65 and older to expect positive effects from GM foods: 30% say such foods are very likely to help make food affordable, and the same share says GM foods are very likely to improve the global food supply.

Of course, it’d be easier to convince people of the importance—and the safety—of GMOs if there wasn’t a concerted effort already underway on the part of green groups to discredit them. Earlier this year, a group of 107 Nobel laureates penned a letter denouncing Greenpeace for its “dangerous…anti-science” scare tactics used to discredit GMOs. “How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a “crime against humanity”?,” they ended the letter by asking. We’re going to need these crops in the coming decades, but we’re also going to need to do a better job informing people of their merits—and a better job combatting the misinformation being spread about their perceived dangers.

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  • Tom

    The problem is that these people consider their opposition to GMO foods to be part of being “woke,” as the SJWs put it these days. They hear the word “corporation” and they immediately assume nefarious doings, bribery, and doing evil things just for the sake of doing evil things.

    • JR

      This behavior provides people who are not idiots with competitive advantage. Non-idiots get rewarded, idiots gets punished. Same as it ever was.

      • Jim__L

        I’d vastly prefer it if idiots were prevented from making laws.

  • ——————————

    The hippies and freaks are always scared of something.
    Just keep wasting your money on scam organics, free-range, and Whole Foods Market’s over-priced crap, guys!

  • rheddles

    Young people have always been dumb. I was dumb when I was young. They’ll grow up. The real question is why they should be able to vote if they’re still on mommy and daddy’s health insurance.

    • Andrew Allison

      Trouble is, as is demonstrated on university campuses across the country on a daily basis, they’re not growing up, and it’s questionable whether they will.

      • rheddles

        If you’re looking for grown-ups on college campuses, you’re looking in the wrong place. Check out the day care centers and nursery schools. They aren’t there long because they’ve got to go to work. But they’ve learned how to read a W-2, make babies and furniture payments. That’s grown up.

        • Andrew Allison

          Well yes, there’s a good argument to be made that anybody under the age of 30 is infantile to one degree or another. My fear is that they have not been taught how to grow up.

  • jsdozcn9

    People don’t trust scientists, and they are right not to:

    Most published research findings are false:
    http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21598944-sloppy-researchers-beware-new-institute-has-you-its-sights-metaphysicians

    Bad Science Muckrakers Question the Big Science Status Quo: “… inherent biases and the flawed statistical analyses built into most ‘hypothesis driven’ research, resulting in publications that largely represent ‘accurate measures of the prevailing bias.'”
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/billfrezza/2014/07/13/bad-science-muckrakers-question-the-big-science-status-quo/

    Linus Pauling: “Everyone should know that most cancer research is largely a fraud and that the major cancer research organizations are derelict in their duties to the people who support them.” -Linus Pauling PhD (Two-time Nobel Prize winner).”
    http://nationalpress.org/images/uploads/programs/CAN2009_Marshall.pdf

    “The Lancet”: The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”
    http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(15)60696-1.pdf

    “Nature”: “Ridding science of shoddy statistics will require scrutiny of every step, not merely the last one, say Jeffrey T. Leek and Roger D. Peng.”
    http://www.nature.com/news/statistics-p-values-are-just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-1.17412

    Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers: “The publishers Springer and IEEE are removing more than 120 papers from their subscription services after a French researcher discovered that the works were computer-generated nonsense.”
    http://www.nature.com/news/publishers-withdraw-more-than-120-gibberish-papers-1.14763

    The New England Journal of Medicine: “In August 2015, the publisher Springer retracted 64 articles from 10 different subscription journals “after editorial checks spotted fake email addresses, and subsequent internal investigations uncovered fabricated peer review reports,” according to a statement on their website.1 The retractions came only months after BioMed Central, an open-access publisher also owned by Springer, retracted 43 articles for the same reason.”
    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1512330

    realclearscience.com: “A study that surveyed all the published cosmological literature between the years 1996 and 2008 showed that the statistics of the results were too good to be true. In fact, the statistical spread of the results was not consistent with what would be expected mathematically, which means cosmologists were in agreement with each other – but to a worrying degree. This meant that either results were being tuned somehow to reflect the status-quo, or that there may be some selection effect where only those papers that agreed with the status-quo were being accepted by journals.”
    http://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2016/01/11/why_cosmology_is_in_crisis_109504.html

    University of Oxford: “Half the world’s natural history specimens may have the wrong name.”
    http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2015-11-17-half-worlds-natural-history-specimens-may-have-wrong-name

    NYTimes.com: “Dr. Prasad and Dr. Cifu extrapolate from past reversals to conclude that about 40 percent of what we consider state-of-the-art health care is likely to turn out to be unhelpful or actually harmful.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/03/science/book-review-ending-medical-reversal-laments-flip-flopping.html

    Retraction Watch
    http://retractionwatch.com/

    I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here’s How.
    http://io9.com/i-fooled-millions-into-thinking-chocolate-helps-weight-1707251800

    “Der Spiegel protested all of this discussion with the statement, that what they hear is that ‘journalists want to earn money, whereas scientists are only seeking the truth.’ This brought loud guffaws from all three [professors]. ‘Scientists,’ answered Dr. Fischer, ‘want success; they want a wife, a hotel room, an invitation, or perhaps a car!'”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/der-spiegel-discovers-the-truth-from-science/

    The History of Important Scientific Discoveries Initially Rejected and Ridiculed.
    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-history-of-scientific-discoveries.html

    • tea & snark

      The problem with GMOs is twofold: (1) that we are experimenting in our own fields and (2) that people are not being given the free choice re: whether to participate.

      If we experimented in closed greenhouses instead of open fields, that would allay environmental concerns. There are certainly enough examples of science that looks promising having unexpected side effects or failures (thalidomide, anyone?)

      Also, people have the right to refuse to consent to experimentation; if people producing GMO goods are genuinely confident in its abilities, they have no reason to resist consumer labeling demands. People have a right to know what they are buying. The reality is that GMO foods are worth less than other foods precisely because there is risk, and it is rightfully up to the consumer – not the producer – to decide how great they perceive that risk as being. The only way to genuinely create the honest perception that GMO crops are safe is to stop with the manipulative game-playing, question-begging, and ethical shortcuts, and simply accept that it is on them to earn acceptance of their product, rather than trying to force people to accept their product as equal to the competition.

      • Andrew Allison

        1) What part of the first para. of this post is unclear to you?
        2) There’s no such thing as a non-GMO crop. Better yet, you are a GMO and perhaps shouldn’t be permitted to procreate.

        • tea & snark

          There’s no such thing as a non-GMO crop

          What you have here is called a “semantic fallacy”, since it relies on two very different meanings of the term “genetically modified”.

          The term GMO refers, specifically, to a particular type of genetic modification.

          As long as its supporters continue to use dishonest means to try to shortcut the process of earning trust, GMO crops will continue to be resisted and resented. It would save money in the long run if GMO producers simply accepted that, at first, their experimental crops are not worth as much ‘fair market value’ as non-GMO crops. If their claims are accurate (re: safety etc) then there is no reason to spend so much money (and political capital) trying to deliberately obfuscate consumer choice.

        • tea & snark

          What part of the first and last paragraphs of this post is unclear to you?

          While I do not share the fear of GMO crops that some people do, I agree that they are perfectly within their rights to not want to participate in this real-life experiment, and it’s unethical to try to force them to.

          If chemical and agricultural interests would act ethically instead of behaving like bullies, they wouldn’t earn so much distrust. Their procedures and behaviors flag them as unethical – and it is absolutely correct and rational for people to be suspicious of people who engage in unethical behaviors.

          • Jim__L

            People have been participating in animal and crop husbandry “experiments” for generations. You really can’t opt out without starving to death.

            Putting yet more onerous labeling requirements on food producers (and passing those costs onto consumers) simply to appease the tin-foil-hat crowd is not good policy at any level. You’re going to put people out of business, you’re going to put people further into debt, with all this.

            This is not a public service. This is feeding the delusions of the trendy. It is time to stop the madness.

          • tea & snark

            People have been participating in animal and crop husbandry “experiments” for generations.

            When you understand the topic, we can talk.

            You apparently don’t even understand what people are upset about. You aren’t even educated enough on the topic to have an informed opinion.

          • Jim__L

            Actually, I’ve been working in a NASA lab that does experiments with microbes (both naturally bred via mutagenesis and genetically modified) for some time now. I understand the topic, probably better than you do.

            The fact is that people who believe these products are risky, especially after extensive testing is in fact done to retire those risks, are simply paranoid — it’s a sensationalist scare, less justified than the “bird flu” or similar.

            Catering to paranoia and delusion does not make for good policy.

          • david russell

            People are free to grow their own food. So let them do so.

          • tea & snark

            People have the right to have accurate market information.

            There is no right to have the government aid and abet you if you want to pass off something that people do not trust as what it is not. The request itself is corruption – proof that people are right to distrust the food; if you really had faith that it was harmless, you wouldn’t need to do this; it wouldn’t be in your long-term interests to do this.

            There was a time when Monsanto was highly regarded and trusted. They used to sponsor Tomorrowland-like exhibits for Disney. Today they are reviled. That isn’t because consumers are irrational; it’s because consumers don’t trust them – with good reason.

            There was a time when science, when the scientific community, was respected and trusted. THIS and other situations like this = what they squandered that trust on.

          • david russell

            People have the right to starve themselves to death. Farmers are going to grow GMO’s and those will out-compete non-GMO’s. If you don’t want to eat GMOs, you are going to go hungry. It’s as simple as that.

      • f1b0nacc1

        Nobody is suggesting that individuals must participate in an experiment without their consent. Experiments on GMO foods have been going on for decades now (note that these included, and were often begun in, closed environments…only after quite a bit of time are most of these tests conducted in the open air), and their results have been uniformly positive. Those who argue that making these foods available to the public are continuing to experiment on the public are ignoring what has gone before, and what the results were. At what point do you acknowledge that these products are safe? Most of the anti-GMO crowd argue ‘never’, and no proof is sufficient for them. The truth of the matter is that for the anti-GMO crowd there is no compromise, no alternative to their approach, and they simply refuse to accept that this is not going to prevail. Nobody is forced to eat GMO foods, but in the real world there are consequences for choices, and the anti-GMO crowd simply doesn’t like having to accept those consequences.

        And yes, we have had other products in the past that were unsafe, but lets remember that thalidomide (a very good friend of my youth was a ‘thalidomide baby’ so I understand the tragic consequences of that quite well) was quite safe when used properly…the disaster occurred when it was used in a way that was not originally anticipated. In any event, we have taken steps to avoid such errors since then (or do you believe that our approval process is still stuck in the 1950s?), so to suggest that this threat is similar is dishonest in the extreme. Lets be blunt, what possible proof of the safety of GMO products would be sufficient for most of the opposition to them? GMO products are the most thoroughly tested, completely vetted consumer goods out there, and complete safety is a standard that absolutely nothing could ever be expected to meet. To ‘prove that they are not dangerous’ is to prove a negative….good luck with that.

        GMO crops are subjected to well-funded smear campaigns, largely by ignorant luddites with an axe to grind. With this in mind, just how are they expected to ‘earn’ their approval?

        • tea & snark

          Nobody is suggesting that individuals must participate in an experiment without their consent.

          That is exactly what you do when you oppose accurate labeling with the requested information.

          Free markets rely on consumers having the information they need. Consumers have the right to that information. It is up to the markets to determine whether GMO crops are worth less than trusted crops.

          There is no legitimate “right” to withhold relevant information from consumers – and consumers, not producers, are the ones who determine whether information is relevant. Consumers have indicated they value GMO products less, because they don’t trust those products. GMO producers attempting to tamper with the markets to artificially prop up the price of their products by withholding relevant information to consumers who want that information proves that there is grounds for that lack of trust.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Nonsense….the labelling push was designed to stigmatize GMOs, and was opposed for practical reasons. It would be impossible to track all GMO-related products throughout the food processing cycle, yet this was completely ignored by advocates of labelling, who over and over rejected any argument against it, and denied that there would even be a reasonable objection. This was nothing more than an attempt to stigmatize the product and make it expensive and difficult to manufacture. If the same requirements were imposed upon ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ or ‘healthy’ products, the luddites on the Left would be outraged, and rightly so.

            As for ‘trusted’ crops, the burden of proof is upon those that suggest GMOs are unsafe, not the other way around. Consumers have been subjected to a campaign of disinformation and distortion, and while they have the ABSOLUTE right to reject these products as a result, it doesn’t make it logical, reasonable, or even remotely rational.

            If this is the best you can do, you really should do a bit of research. Lets be blunt, GMOs have been demonstrated as safe by every reasonable study done by unbiased observers, and the notion that ‘they might be something we missed’ is a silliness that must be proven by the accusers, not by the accused. Using process to kill a product (and that is what the labellers want) that is indistinguishable from ‘natural’ products (which are themselves engineered, or do you think that corn or potatoes have even the most passing resemblence to their ancestors?) is nothing more than an argument in bad faith.

          • ——————————

            Don’t waste your time f1b, it’s like swinging at air….

          • f1b0nacc1

            Your point is well taken…I just blocked him and wont bother again….

            Thank you

  • Boritz

    Blame the education system.

  • Anyone who is surprised that there are groups of people who put ideology over facts hasn’t been paying attention. The vast majority of people only “trust” expert scientific opinion when said opinion reinforces their preconceived notions. When it goes against those beliefs, the science automatically becomes corporate propaganda or some government conspiracy. Such has the world always been, such shall it always be.

    • tea & snark

      That is easy to understand, when “science” claims to PROVE (!!) that, for example, conservatives are “evil”

      While Jost’s paper revealed a complicated array of different factors involved, two in particular have been shown to explain the lion’s share of intergroup prejudice: right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) and social dominance orientation (SDO). John Dean’s book “Conservatives Without Conscience” focused on the combined workings of these two factors. While there is some overlap between the two, RWA is more predominant among followers, who would probably make up the main bulk of Limbaugh’s audience, while SDO is more prominent in folks like Sterling.
      http://www.salon.com/2014/05/01/conservatives_evil_and_psychopathy_science_makes_the_link/

      This is only one of many, many “studies”. The scientific community has credibility issues because they are not credible. They do not apologize for being wrong – they say “we’re going to be wrong sometimes, it’s part of the process” – so they really have no right to insist that they should be taken as authoritative. There are too many instances to to list of massive ethical/atrocities done in the name of science – psychology alone has quite a list. The scientific community also uses the Wikipedia approach to correcting past mistakes: instead of acknowledging where the community went wrong, they simply say “that wasn’t us” – eugenics “wasn’t us”; Tuskegee “wasn’t us”; that was all someone else.

      Why SHOULD people take science as an authority? Science does not prioritize human life, dignity, or worth; that is not its job. Its job is acquiring knowledge, not setting policy. If it wants to set policy, it needs to give up its right to be wrong – which it is not willing to do (and rightfully so, since nobody with any sense WANTS to be ruled by technological oligarchs).

  • rick

    Here’s the thing – these anti-ban-all-the-things types hate humanity and want to wipe out the portion that doesn’t include them (just a gut feeling), so why don’t they SUPPORT GMO’s, go on eating their gluten free blah blah blah, and watch gleefully while the world dies? Then, they can have their Utopia without all the filthy rabble.

  • Donald

    This article is fake news.

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