Debate over GMOs and other science controversies should center more in values and politics

Looking upon all the polarized rhetoric concerning vaccines, GMO crops, climate change, and processed foods one might be tempted to conclude that the American status quo is under attack by a fervent anti-science movement.

Consider Vani Hari, aka “Food Babe.” Her response to a take-down piece in Gawker is filled with references to studies and links to groups like Consumers Union, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and the Environmental Working Group, who do employ people with scientific credentials and conduct tests. If opponents were truly anti-science, they would not exert so much effort to mobilize scientific rhetoric and expertise.

No one seems to be in disagreement over the presumption that debate about GMO crops, vaccines, processed foods, and other controversial instances of technoscience should be settled by scientific facts. Both the pro and the con sides are in many ways radically pro-science.

Therefore, I think that Americans would be better off if social movements were more anti-science. Of course, I do not mean that they would totally disavow the benefits of looking at things scientifically. Instead, what I mean is that such groups would reject the assumption that all issues should be viewed, first and foremost, scientistically. Underneath most, if not all, public scientific controversies are real disagreements that relate to values and power.


Advocates of organic farming would do well to frame their opposition to GMOs with reference to questions concerning who owns the means of producing food, who primarily benefits, and who has the power to decide which agricultural products are safe. Far too many citizens talk as if they believe science can do their politics for them. It is about time we put that belief to rest.

Related article:  Concerned consumers can easily avoid non-labeled foods with GMOs

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: There is No Anti-Scientism Movement, and It’s a Shame Too.

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