Liberals love science, except on GMOs

Have some doubts about human-caused climate change. Get over it, liberals say. It’s an indisputable fact, a sure thing, unassailable. Science proves it and you gotta trust science.

Heck, it’s so clear-cut, even the Portland School Board has unanimously adopted a resolution that directs district officials to get rid of classroom materials that express “doubt about the severity of the climate crisis or its root in human activities.”

The Board didn’t clarify whether that meant such faulty materials were to be burned, a la Fahrenheit 451 where Captain Beatty burned books because they produce “two sides to a question to worry him”.

But scads of liberals take a different tack when the issue is GMOs.


Ranting and raving that GMOs just aren’t safe, they demand labeling of products containing GMOs and insist there’s a need to protect the non-GMO food supply. In a 330-page publication dismissing the “myths” about the safety of GMOs, Earth Open Source, an organization that “is presenting the evidence regarding the social, environmental, and health impacts of GMO foods”, asserts “that those disagreeing with GMO proponents’ claims of safety include hundreds of eminent scientists.”


A display at a Costco store

But science says differently.

GMO crops are as safe to eat as their non-GMO counterparts and have no negative environmental impacts according to a comprehensive report released on May 17 by the National Academy of Sciences —a group founded by the U.S. Congress to provide expert scientifically-based advice on a variety of issues. The report is a 388-page, comprehensive look at every aspect of genetically engineered crops.

Key messages in the report, summarized by National Geographic, are:

  • GMO crops are safe to eat…there’s no evidence of harm.
  • The GMO crops in our food system have “…helped farmers protect yields from insects and weeds.”
  • The report found no adverse affects on biodiversity or danger from interbreeding between GMO crops and wild relatives.
  • The economic benefits to farmers have been well-documented.
  • Appropriate regulation is imperative, and that regulation should be based on the characteristics of the crop, rather than the technique used to develop it, whether GMO or non-GMO.
  • Ongoing public conversations about GE crops and related issues should be characterized by transparency and public participation.

The National Academy of Sciences report also notes that both genetic engineering and conventional breeding are important to crop improvement. Each method has strengths and weaknesses, and treating them “as competing approaches is a false dichotomy; more progress in crop improvement can be brought about by using both … than by using either alone.”

So, will the GMO alarmists finally see the light? Will they embrace science and back off? Doubtful. But at least now there’s a stronger argument to challenge their illusions.

Anti-GMO, Anti-Vaccine, Anti-Flouride: Anti-Science

Where did all these anti-science cranks come from?


With an increasingly educated population, you’d think Oregon would be moving more toward rational, science-based thinking, but agenda-driven ideologues are pushing hard in the other direction.

Kari Chisholm, a Democratic political operative and founder of BlueOregon, a progressive political blog, sent me a message the other day urging me to sign a petition pledging to vote YES this fall on Measure 92. The measure would require that all raw food and packaged food that is entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering be labeled. Kari said he wants GMO labeling because when he eats junk food he can’t tell whether there’s anything genetically engineered in there.

He’d probably be better off just not eating junk food and leaving the rest of us alone. He’d be healthier and the rest of us wouldn’t have to deal with his anti-science GMO labeling blather.

The fact is, there is NO credible scientifically-based evidence that genetically engineered products are unsafe. As Pamela Ronald, a UC-Davis plant geneticist, noted in the Scientific American: “After 14 years of cultivation and a cumulative total of 2 billion acres planted, no adverse health or environmental effects have resulted from commercialization of genetically engineered crops.”

As a fallback, knowing that the science isn’t with them, the GMO labeling advocates say we need labeling because we need to know what’s in our food. A friend of mine without any scientific knowledge on the issue recently told me that alone is a reason to support Measure 92. But it’s not.

That’s because the argument is a smokescreen. The anti-science labeling advocates’ agenda is really to create the appearance of danger. As the editors of Scientific American have said, “…mandatory GMO labels would only intensify the misconception that so-called Frankenfoods endanger people’s health.”

The fact is, GMOs are as safe as other foods. If the labeling proponents are determined not to consume genetically engineered products, they can buy “100 Percent Organic” products and leave the rest of us alone.


Everybody and their brother with real expertise on the issue has concluded that genetically engineered products are safe. This includes the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the American Society for the Advancement of Science, The National Academy of Sciences, The Royal Society of Medicine, The French Society of Science, The European Commission, The Union of German Academics of Sciences and Humanities, and on and on.

But the ill-informed anti-science GMO Chicken-Littles just keep going. After all, they’ve already convinced far too many gullible people that fluoride and vaccines are dangerous. Why stop now?

If City Club of Portland says “no” to GMOs, is “no” to vaccines next?

With the anti-science GMO silliness that’s going on at the City Club of Portland, I’m surprised it hasn’t recommended that moms reject vaccinations for their kids. After all, Jenny McCarthy, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Charlie Sheen are already on board.


A study committee for the City Club recommended in July that the group endorse a November ballot measure mandating the labeling of genetically engineered foods sold in Oregon. The City Club will vote on the recommendation on Wednesday, Aug. 20.


One key element of its reasoning – some consumers want such labeling. If public opinion is to be the primary determinant of whether the City Club endorses a policy, just do a poll and go with the majority. Then they won’t have to do any real independent research.

Of course, even if the City Club did a poll today, that would only tell them what the public thinks at that point. Public sentiment on an issue can shift over time, as the defeat of many once widely supported Oregon ballot measures illustrates.

Good research by the City Club might reveal that the public is really misinformed and being swayed by nonsensical arguments. The fact is, the so-called “collective wisdom” is often wrong. The public does not always have all the relevant information to make an intelligent decision.

Besides, why should the City Club care what other people think. Make up your own mind.

The other principal reason the City Club committee gave for endorsing mandating the labeling of genetically engineered foods sold in Oregon is that it would help track the safety of genetically altered foods.

Come on now, folks.

Independent scientific organizations have overwhelmingly concluded that genetically engineered foods pose no health risk.

For example, the National Academies (the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine) were asked to convene a committee of scientific experts to outline science-based approaches for assessing or predicting the unintended health effects of genetically engineered (GE) foods and to compare the potential for unintended effects with those of foods derived from other conventional genetic modification methods.

The committee’s report found, “To date, no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population.”

That’s not to say more research isn’t needed. It is. But requiring that all genetically engineered foods be labeled won’t help. More likely, the labeling, in combination with unscientific scare tactics by GMO critics, would simply depress demand for such foods.

But then, maybe that’s what the labeling advocates really want.