Topic: Has the GMO chatter really turned a corner? And why?
So this discussion began the night of Wednesday, July 15.
The background: The Saletan piece that exposed the duplicity of the anti-GMO movement and their goalpost-moving flacks was all the rage yesterday.
The war against genetically modified organisms is full of fearmongering, errors, and fraud. Labeling them will not make you safer.
There was fascinating discussion most of the day, but this part at the end is what I want to focus on. Keith Kloor had asked this question. I thought about it for a while, and then decided on my answer. I’m just going to leave the initial question here to begin the thread, and I’ll take my answer to a new post.
@keithkloor I still feel there may have been a number of journos + scientists loading the paintballs, but the Pew poll pulled the trigger.
— mem_somerville (@mem_somerville) July 16, 2015
What I am referring to is this result, from the 2014 poll of AAAS scientists on their feelings on many hot-button social issues (which are largely non-hot among scientists). This data was launched publicly apparently January 29, 2015. [Disclosure: I was one of the scientists who took this survey, and I knew while I was taking it that something interesting was about to come out of this.]
I think the Pew poll changed things because of the shock that people got finding out that 88% of scientists agreed that GMOs are safe to eat.
The reason I think this was a dramatic dope-slap to editors and journalists is not because of the numerical difference with the general public. But the fact that this number ranked even better than the climate change as human activity at 87%. And also better than the MMR being required, at 86%. The only one that did much better was evolution, with 98% of scientists on board.
So suddenly the media is realizing that the debate on GMO is much like the climate one and the vaccine one from scientists’ perspective. And they have been debating about how much time to give contrarian voices on those issues, while giving the floor to the anti-GMO activists.
I think that the Pew poll shook the editorial folks and writers and made them realize how aligned mainstreamed scientists are on this. Some even noted it in their commentaries. And that made them re-examine the amount of ink/electrons that the consensus view was getting vs. the alternative view.
I can’t prove this, I have no idea how to. But I feel like the Pew poll made it defensible to publish sensible things on GMOs for a change instead of the hair-afire stuff.
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