Viewpoint: ‘More marketing than science’—Why the case against GM crops is built on misinformation

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A still from the film GMO OMG depicts the director and his children coming out of a (non-GMO) corn field in hazmat suites. Credit: GMO OMG

Consumer Reports, a nonprofit better known for rating cars and dishwashers, wrote about GMOs in its 2014 article “Where GMOs Hide in Your Food”. They found that GMOs “lurk in many packaged foods”, including some that were labeled as not containing any GMOs at all.

But lacking in the Consumer Reports article was any sort of objective assessment of why GMOs should be labeled, or why, in fact, people ought to worry about their presence.

Indeed, the vague unease about GMOs that pervades stories like Consumer Reports’ led to this sarcastic headline from The Washington Post in 2016: “People Want GMO Foods Labeled—Which is Pretty Much All They Know About GMOs”. The Post article points out that while popular opinion supports the mandatory, specific labeling of GMO crops, that opinion seems to be resting on some incorrect facts.

Related article:  Educating farmers key to biotech crop success in developing world
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Many people report in surveys that scientists have found GMOs to be harmful (that’s not the case), and that there’s controversy in the scientific community about the safety of GMOs. Again, that’s not the case…

“Traditional” GMO technology involves splicing in a gene from one organism into another. That’s not as unnatural as it sounds; microorganisms do this all the time, swapping genetic material, and almost all of the genes we carry are identical to genes carried by other organisms.

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