‘Shill’-calling tactic to smear credibility in GMO debate needs to stop

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Talking about food and farm practices, there is never a shortage of ideas and opinions. Some of it is great debate, like how to reduce nutrient run-off from farm fields or improve welfare among pigs, realizing we have a balance to maintain that takes into account price, product quality, product yield, the environment, etc. Too much of it, though, is the kind of glove-off nonsense on corporate agendas and frankenfoods that puts people in the grocery aisle so confused about what might be good for them — and what might be best to leave on the shelf instead of playing Russian roulette.

The shill card has to be one of my favourite comebacks. It never has anything to do with farm practices or food production – it simply is an effort to kill the buzz of truthful answers and instead create a hole of doubt around personal credibility. I’ve been called a shill, which I’ve come to find endearing — it tells me that someone has run out of logic.

But as endearing as I find it, shill talk should be shut down.

Dr. Kevin Folta is at the University of Florida and one I enjoy following because of his passion for his work. He makes some interesting points on why calling someone a shill because you have nothing better to say, should actually hurt your own credibility before it hurts your targets. Mary Mangan is another scientist I enjoy following and is someone I’ve seen on the receiving end of shill accusations. But her biography really states what this all boils down to.

“The kind of independent scientist people claim they want to hear from, until they dislike the conclusions they hear.”

When people form an opinion on food, it sticks with them. Sometimes it is based on what they stand for, and other times for what they stand against. And with today’s conspiracy-loaded movement, it is hard to change minds.

But in the end, the idea that when nothing else can be said – shill needs to be used – it is an attack we cannot accept online anymore. Rather than scrolling through with a sigh, wondering where the logical debate fell off the tracks, we should question what makes it OK to throw out something aimed to hurt personal credibility when all that is happening is sharing differing views.

Read the full, original article: Let’s put an end to this shill talk

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