This post was originally published on GMO Answers' Medium page.
In light of a recent Shape Magazine online news article and a First For Women newspaper edition that made misinformed claims against the safety of genetically modified foods, GMO Answers reached out to volunteer expert Dr. Felicia Stoler for her perspective on the articles. Felicia speaks to the importance of evidence-based, factual science communication around GMOs at a time when it can feel difficult to know what sources to trust when making food choices.
I proudly volunteer for GMO Answers because as a doctorally trained, registered dietitian nutritionist, exercise physiologist AND journalist… I make a living trying to translate the science into consumer-friendly messaging. That also means I spend a lot of time debunking “fake news.” I totally understand that many websites want to attract readers, followers or “clicks” at all costs, but to do so in a manner akin to spreading propaganda that is factually incorrect is dangerous. Established media outlets must demand a higher level of responsibility on behalf of “writers” to do real investigation of facts before putting them into articles or posts because consumers assume that you do.
In the scientific world, lying or misstating facts is certain to be professional suicide… because ultimately peers will figure it out… and in no quiet manner, make a lot of noise. Let’s start with anything coming from Jeffrey Smith related to nutrition, health, science or GMOs. Mr. Smith is an activist – not a scientist. He is very talented at misleading the public and being a fear monger by trying to imply a cause and affect by using CORRELATION. RULE #1 IN SCIENCE – CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. RULE #2 – OUTCOMES/FINDINGS MUST BE REPRODUCABLE (REPEATED MEASURE YIELD SAME RESULTS) IN ORDER FOR THEM TO BE FACTUALLY CORRECT.
Lucky for me, I had the chance to attend the screening of “Food Evolution” right before I sat down to write this blog. I would urge anyone reading this blog to watch this documentary. I have seen just about every SHOCKUMENTARY that has been made about food, the food supply, health, nutrition and diet. This is the one film on the subject of GMOs and organic that has the least amount of BIAS and is the most objective and balanced information.
In a nutshell… based upon a consensus statement by The National Academy of Sciences, there are no cause and effect relationships between genetically engineered (GE) food and human health. None. The actual consumption of GE related food items is impossible to quantify for the general public – not because it is so widespread, but because it is not as pervasive or ubiquitous as the fear mongers would have you believe.
Organic is not any healthier for humans or the planet. Organic food does use “chemical” products to kill insects, microbes and fungus… many of which may be harmful to human health in large quantities. The number of people on this planet is growing at a rate for which traditional organic methods cannot be sustained. Let me rephrase that – organic food methods cannot feed all the people on this planet.
Internet search results and misleading news articles can confuse consumers, leading them to believe GMOs cause allergies, illness, cancer, etc. However, GM crops are safe to eat, have the same nutrition and composition conventional crops and have no links to new allergies, cancer, celiac or other diseases.
This is where science comes into play… how do we feed more people using less resources (including land), in a manner that is safe, efficient and effective? So using GE or other processes like greenhouses or aero or hydroponics is not a bad thing. Neither are fish farms. Food elitism comes from a place of wealth and privilege. It is not what the majority of our fellow humans, who share this planet, can afford to be harmed by our prejudiced views. Talk to farmers and ask them what they want. They want science. They want to be productive. They even would like a little profit (and last I checked, I haven’t seen ANY farmers topping the list of high net worth individuals). They make food that they would feed their families.
Science has saved and made our lives better. Demand excellence in writing and news.