Political right not alone in scientific illiteracy: Left disregards science on GMOs, vaccines


It is tremendously ironic that the political left, which frequently attacks the right’s denial of evolution, is much more likely to oppose one of the most promising scientific advances that we have achieved through the study of genetics: GMOs. Initiatives to mandate the labeling of GMO products have found varying degrees of success in blue states like Vermont, Oregon, Maine, Hawaii, and Washington. GMO labeling might make sense if modern genetic modification techniques produced foods that were substantially different from those produced by conventional methods, but the fact is that scientific studies have consistently and overwhelmingly shown GMOs to be safe for both humans and the environment. In fact, those concerned about the environment should praise GMOs, which allow us to produce the same amount of food while using less water and land, emitting less carbon dioxide, and applying fewer pesticides.

The political left loves to bring up scientific consensus when discussing climate change and evolution, but it rejects scientific consensus as a valid metric when it comes to discussions about genetic modification, nuclear energy, and vaccines. And, in fact, while a disbelief in evolution is foolish, it is not nearly as dangerous as a rejection of modern technology.

The political right is properly criticized for its anti-science views. The political left, however, is often unfairly spared similar criticism. Those on the left must be willing to criticize members of their own camp when they endorse policies based on poor scientific understanding. Otherwise, the left and right may find some common ground, but it will be to the detriment of society as a whole.