VIDEO: Are GM foods dangerous? Renowned science reporter takes on anti-GMO fundamentalists

| | February 23, 2015

Peter Hadfield, a former Radio 4 and CBC science reporter-turned YouTube rationalist, jumps into the GMO debate in this science-based analysis of advocacy groups’ claims against genetically modified foods. Hadfield, who is a geologist by training, posted on his popular YouTube channel–more than 100,000 subscribers–dissecting claims that genetically modified foods are dangerous.

“Contrary to the images, GMO aren’t made by injecting meat or poison or anything, else into healthy plants,” Hadfield says. “They’re made by splicing part of the gene of one organism with another to pass on favorable traits.”

Hadfield further explains the process of genetic modification, arguing that in theory genetic modification itself should not be hazardous. After all, we have been ingesting bits of DNA for thousands of years—it is what our food is made of.

“Exhaustive studies have been done to look for any adverse health effects, and so far none has been found,” he adds.

In most cases, GM seeds are produced for preferable high yields, pest resistance or a resistance to natural forces such as drought.

If GMOs really are the cause for the slew of medical problems advocacy groups claim, the billions of people and animals that consume them everyday should all be showing signs by now, he said.

Hadfield then flips the argument and examines the “studies” that have been done that show the hazards and ill-effects of GMOs.

“I’ve had to wade through a lot of nonsense to get to [the studies],” he said. Adding a list of red flags to note when looking and listening to so-called “experts” who claim to be speaking the “truth” about GMOs.

“Truth is a religious concept,” he said. Science is based on hypothesis.

Hadfield takes a rational approach for 17 minutes to deconstruct anti-GMO arguments made by advocates, citing science and rational thinking. Hadfield breaks down the popular blog post 10 Scientific Studies Proving GMOs Can Be Harmful To Human Health‘ that has seen itself gone viral in the past. But at the end of the day, most of these so-called “studies” are either inaccurate or not really about GMOs, something GLP writer  wrote about in the past. And concluded with:

In conclusion, despite the title of the article, none of these studies proves or even persuasively suggests that GMOs can be harmful to human health. The majority are either obviously flawed or are not scientific studies.

Hadfield himself posts a challenge to everyone who is willing to listen to scientific facts and perhaps it could change the conversation.

“Maybe the anti-GMO campaigners could stop the hype and the scary clap-trap and stop lumping all GMOs together as collectively bad,” he said.

There are things we need to be concerned about based on facts and conclusions published in respected scientific journals, he adds.

“I find it much easier to go with the science whether it fits my beliefs or not,” Hadfield said.


Additional Resources: 

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.

57 thoughts on “VIDEO: Are GM foods dangerous? Renowned science reporter takes on anti-GMO fundamentalists”

  1. Who paid him for this peace! …… ¿ seriously, did he look only at the studies big chemical cos. Provided? Did he look at ALL independent studies? Who knows.. Its still bad science until someone has adequate science to show safety… This must come from independent research, not funded by or preformed by any institution receiving monies form the gmo producers… This is only one person’s view on the gmo poison… If its killing our pollinators, filling our water system with huge amounts of roundup & like poisons & leaving behind who knows what& for how long, in the soil, we have no business growing it anywhere on the planet… Haven’t we done enough damage? If these big chemical cos want to control our food chain, it would be better to change there program to produce healthy food for this sick planet.. Sorry I don’t buy it & I will not eat it!

    • You are adorable, it’s like you didn’t watch the video at all!

      But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

      Please list citations of well performed studies evaluated through high quality peer reviewed journals to support your statements.

      And before you retort that I must do so, know that since you are making astonishing claims that are contrary to the global scientific consensus on genetic engineering the burden of proof falls on you to support your claims.

    • It’s okay. You don’t need to try to help but what you are doing is kind and decent just the same. People who are not very bright love to argue, they love to get themselves embroiled in ugly conflicts with others while they smirk away and congratulate themselves on how clever they are being. I worked in a university environment for 20 years I know of what I speak. I am an avid reader and I have been this way since childhood. And as for my thinking and reasoning abilities they are exceptional. The sad part here and it is very sad you don’t need any higher level thinking and reasoning abilities to easily see how lacking the ability and judgement is of the people (doctors, academics, and scientists) who write the swill these individuals churn out. One of my former jobs was working in a academic research library where I was surrounded by academic literature (in every discipline) all of the time (this statement means articles, journals, books, and so on). I also regularly interacted with the faculty of this institution and may I take the time to express what a disappointing lot they were. I really do know what I am talking about. In a comment section all responses should ideally be limited to just a few sentences. This is not an academic environment. All certain posters here are doing (and this is the same elsewhere) is trying to intimidate people into silence whose ideas and opinions they don’t like. Just look at the fruits of their (scientists, academics, doctors, etc.) ideas and work (all the people who have been harmed, the damage to the environment, et cetera). Quite frankly I and others should have been speaking up years ago. Like many people I simply quietly observed what was going on in pained silence. The burden of proof does not lay with me; although, I could easily provide proof my research skills are excellent but why would a truly bright person use the work of one member of a profession to refute the work of another when they (myself here) is calling into question the disgraceful work of all and even the need for the professions themselves given the quality of their work? The burden of proof lays with the idiots (and when I use the word “idiot” I am making reference only to the dictionary meaning of this word and nothing else). I am deliberately trying to keep my language as simple as possible because I have been asked in the past to “dumb things down” (and I share these words with gentle amusement). Anyway, I should go. Best wishes.

      • Actually, because you’re in opposition to the scientific community, the burden of proof does rest with you.

        I find it interesting that when your thoughts are opposed, you refer to your opponent as an idiot. This is a very poor technique, and greatly detracts from your argument.

        • You are wrong again David. The burden of proof does not lay with me it resides with the people putting forward their ideas. The scientific community is a joke and the joke David is a cruel one and it is on all their many victims who trusted this disgraceful group of people to provide accurate information for the rest of society. Look at all the harm they have caused as human beings. Look at every single time they have been wrong on an idea, thought, or assumption. I was using the word idiot not as an insult but literally to describe a group of human beings who have very serious problems with their ability to think and reason properly. It is you David who have a closed mind. You have chosen to blindly follow a group of human beings who noticeably don’t know what they are doing as men and women. The evidence David and there is an abundance of it, is their work itself. They have been proven wrong many times. What you don’t like facing David is I am right and you are very wrong.

          • You are literally anti science then? Noted

            Your posts constitute some of the most inane ramblings I have ever had the displeasure of subjecting myself to. I wish there was some kind of award that could be given to the stupidest thing written on the internet, your posts would definitely be in the running.

            You reject the scientific method and scientists as a profession, you rely on access of special knowledge and continually claim your superior intelligence based on……nothing so far as I can tell.

            You are either unimaginably stupid or one of the greatest examples of poe’s law I’ve ever seen.

          • I am anti stupid this means you and those you slavishly admire and follow. I am also opposed to dishonesty and harmful behaviour. I have a genius level IQ. You are out of your depth. I have no interest in interacting with you. Move along. You are wasting my time.

          • I’ve found those who have to constantly tell others of their superior intelligence tend to possess anything but.

          • Dominick you really need to grow up. You noticeably have no character. I have no interest in you. I have no interest in what you write because you are obviously a person of no ability. You need to learn to respect the boundaries of other human beings. As for my thinking abilities I was born the way I am. My parents were the same way. Your vain attempt to intimidate me has failed so I really think it is time you slink off in defeat.

        • What is the scientific basis for your reasoning? We have been using abacuses & paper and pencil for thousands of years, but calculators and computers for only a fraction of this time, so shouldn’t we then test computers for much longer before we start using them so widely?

          • We don’t eat computers but perhaps we should have tested computers as well. What is the average screen time of an adolescent now. Surely that doesn’t leave much time for gardening.

          • Certainly if we all spent more time gardening we’d realize the beneficial aspects! :)
            However, many of the processes and genetics of organic crops have been less well-tested, and for as little time, as genetically engineered crops.

  2. GMO foods are not safe and there is no possibility for error in this regard. Scientists have been totally, completely, and utterly wrong on many things. More than a little of so called science is complete quackery. People need to stop being intimidated by doctors, scientists, and academics because their track record with respect to their thinking and reasoning abilities and patterns of conduct is not good. Look at how many times they have said something was safe only for it to be found out at a later date it wasn’t (and the enormity of what this meant in more than a few situations). What they say isn’t even credible. I am for true rationality and excellence in thinking and above all honesty.

    • “GMO foods are not safe and there is no possibility for error in this regard”

      Citation needed.

      Global scientific consensus is that crops produced via genetic engineering pose no more of a threat than those produced by other methods of plant breeding.

      If we are not to trust scientists and academics, then who are we to trust? Your gut feeling?

      • I make my decisions only, and have always made my decisions only, in a strictly rational manner. I have read many articles and books in my life on a whole variety of different topics. I have no time or patience for people who have serious problems with their ability to think and reason properly when these individuals harm others and are dishonest in the process.

        • Rational logic is a simple if- than statement, not this authority says this and because they are an authority I’ll just go with it.

          To me this is the rationale of the rational:
          IF it is evident that there is no consensus amongst the scientific community (independents included) that GMO’s are as safe as organic or conventional agriculture THAN it would be wise to practice the precautionary principle until which time as there is an agreement.
          To keep on saying that GMO’s are as safe as conventional or even organic is not logical given the scope of the controversy.

          • The point was the flaw in your logic. The answer to your question is in my statement. Not that there is proof either way but lack of consensus. I don’t know if GE is safe or not so I’ll eliminate the variables by farming organically. Surly the whole history of agriculture up until the 20th century is enough safety data to go on.

          • Except much of what is used in organic agriculture is relatively new and not well tested.
            Do you think there is a consensus that organic and/or conventional farming is safe?

          • I don’t think a consensus is possible and that is the point. Nothing should be imposed if there is no consensus. Label GMO’s and let the free market decide.

          • You don’t understand the definition of scientific concensus. Until you do, stop with the preaching, it just makes you look uninformed.

          • Why should I bother? You seem to be fact-resistant and only interested in pushing your personal philosophy on others.

            Here is a typical exchange:

            gefreekamloops: “Product X is dangerous because smoking is dangerous.”

            knowledgeable poster: “That’s incorrect, here’s a link that proves it.”

            gefreekamloops: “But labeling, we need to label.”

            knowledgeable poster: “There is no scientific reason to label.”

            gefreekamloops: “But everybody needs to be a farmer, and you know, labeling.”

          • When we cannot concede a single point like the science was wrong about smoking then we cannot even agree to disagree. People were told it was actually good for you. I mean come on.
            I’m just saying science is not always right so its good to be skeptical until the effects are proven over generations.
            If you are saying that science is always right so there can be no doubt as to the safety of new compounds then I don’t even know what to say.
            Just look at history. Science has created the greatest wonders as well as the most horrifying possibilities. microchips and atomic bombs. Metadata crunching and mutually assured distruction.
            Yes we are a clever species but not very wise. We are the only species who doesn’t live in harmony with nature. We are essentially a virus. We will either wake up or we will perish.
            by the way what do you mean by “Knowledgeable Poster”, you have to forgive me I’m a little bit naive

          • “When we cannot concede a single point like the science was wrong about smoking…”

            I can’t type any slower. You need to read slower. Move your lips if you need to.

          • It helps to have some basis of understanding which is what I meant by conceding a point. It is O.K to admit that science is often wrong. It shows that humans don’t know everything and though experimentation figure things out. I will admit that Genetic Engineering is not all bad and could be used to do a lot of good for humanity and the planet. I just don’t agree with its use in agriculture and the ownership of genes which belong to no-one. Why not just admit that we are in an experimentation phase before letting the genie out of the bottle.

          • People weren’t told that cigarettes were actually good for you by scientific research, they were told by the PR industry and right wing think tanks like the Heartland Institute. You know, the one that Mischa Popoff is associated with.

          • Hilarious!

            You mooks are still trying to conflate tobacco with GM crops.

            But there are some important differences. Smoking products didn’t require any government approval before being marketed. GM agricultural crops did require government approval before being marketed.

            What are you? Baghdad Bob? How can you think those two things are anywhere near the same?

          • “Have you at least figured out how Midwest farms don’t grow crops in the winter”
            Yes it is very hilarious considering I went back several thousand of your GMO and Pesticide crusading posts to see you were just active in you’re propaganda campaign in the middle of the summer as you are now. I was talking about your year round GMO crusading. You averaged 30 to 50 posts a day back in July and August, so please don’t give me your busy farmer BS. And incidentally, I wasn’t conflating GMOs with tobacco. I was associating how your leaders Jon Entine and Mischa Popoff are both propagandists affiliated with right wing think thanks that are on the payroll of the fossil fuel industry to deny global warming and Philip Morris to defend tobacco. Those are easily verified facts if anyone does research on The Heartland Institute and the American Enterprise Institute.

          • I figured out how they do it, They post there comments from a ipad that they can take with them and use simultaneously as they are tending their crops!

          • So, in addition to a total void of agricultural knowledge in your little brain, you don’t know anything about telecommunications, either.

            Not that I’m surprised.

          • Actually you’re wrong on that one, I was a CCNA (expired in 2009) and an MCSE on NT4 and Win 2000, that’s why I wondered how you get the wifi from your corn and soy fields. I’m sure, with your passion for slinging insults and calling people names you have figured out a way to do it. It must be very hard to tend to your crops simultaneously as you are thinking of insults to type into your ipod!

          • Wow, Now we know how you tend to your crops and tend to your insulting comments simultaneously! Thanks for clearing that up.

          • I noticed this last year. I understand you’re busy but I hope you don’t completely disappear again this season.

          • OK, creepy stalker guy.

            How about you tell us what field activities are commonly performed on corn and soybean crops in July and August?

            It really looks to me like you’re going for the Dunning Kruger Hat Trick Award!

          • Isn’t it nice going back to work after having the weekend off? You don’t have to flatter yourself I research the frequency, similarilties in your talking points and similar scripts of quite a few of you GMO crusaders. I would swear that several of you are are exactly the same person. I would say your favorite field activity in the corn and soybean fields are casting aspersions, insulting and calling people names from your ipod considering the quantitiy of time you spend doing it. And as far as the The Dunning–Kruger effect, please spare me, I’ve notived that your running it into the ground lately along with your Bagdad Bob insults. They get kind of old after being used so many times.

          • Wow, you seem determined to prove Dunning & Kruger were correct even when it is to your detriment!

            Congrats, I guess…

            Have you at least figured out how Midwest farms don’t grow crops in the winter?

          • they were told by the PR industry

            And you are falling for it hook line and sinker, the Organic industry is feeding you these lies, so they can charge you 2x more for the same thing….. Ha ha Sucker.

          • I really wish you propagandists would tell me who the hell the organic industry is, considering at least 95% of organic brand names are subsidiaries of GMA associated (junk) food corporations.

          • I have a list. I have the USDA NASS Census of Agriculture Organic Production Survey in front of me.

            How could anyone “figure it out on their own?”

    • GMO foods are not safe

      That’s a positive claim, which requires positive evidence to support it.

      Scientists have been totally, completely, and utterly wrong on many things

      Being wrong about A doesn’t mean you’re wrong about B. Strawman fallacy.

      More than a little of so called science is complete quackery.

      I’m guessing you missed the irony of that sentence.

  3. “We have got the entire truth–there is no need to be cautious about anything we might do with genes, because no genetic engineering could possibly have bad effects on either humanity or the biosphere. Therefore, forget about caution.”

  4. when reading through these comments, i notice how it is basically a battlefield pro and against GMO. I dont think that was the purpose of a comments section…

    • Generally what happens is an anti-GE poster will refute something in the article, most often quoting something from Internet activist sites, and those of us with science or farming backgrounds will respond with established science. Then the anti-GE poster will call us shills and trolls, and start lambasting those of us posting known science with allegations of “corrupt corporations” and the like. Do you think the comments should do otherwise, given that reality? It is very tiring, to tell you the truth.

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