Despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that genetically modified foods are safe for human consumption, Americans are generally distrustful of all types of GMOs. An ABC poll from last year found that more than half of Americans believe that GMO foods are unsafe. However, the relative lack of outrage over the forthcoming release of “non-browning” genetically modified apples could mean public perception of GMOs may be changing. This would be an important step towards reducing food waste, fighting global malnutrition, and helping the environment.
If American public opinion is finally turning against anti-GMO rhetoric, it is about time. There is no scientific debate about the safety of genetically modified foods; a recent Pew Research poll even found a greater scientific consensus for GMO safety than anthropogenic climate change. And as Mark Lynas of the Cornell Alliance for Science has pointed out, many of the same tactics used by climate change deniers are mirrored by the anti-GMO movement.
The case of these genetically modified apples is hardly any different. The apples take much longer (about three weeks) to oxidize or turn brown after being exposed to the open air. By “silencing” a chemical that plays no role in apples today, scientists were able to reduce the browning effect of oxidization while retaining safety and nutritiousness.
On August 5, 2016 the Food and Drug Administration approved field trials on genetically modified mosquitoes that could help fight the growing pandemic caused by Zika virus. Despite progress, the road forward could be halted; like so many useful genetically modified products before, solutions to the Zika crisis could be rendered dead in the water by anti-GMO activists and environmentalists.
These GMO mosquitoes have been developed by Oxitec and will be released in Key Haven, Florida to see if they suppress the local mosquito population. The FDA has stated that the proposed field trial will not have significant impacts on the ecosystem and Oxitec is responsible for all requirements to be met. These GMO mosquitoes are not available for commercial use and strictly used for trials.
Thomas Tullis just wanted to organize a poker game for his Young Americans for Liberty chapter at the University of Oregon. He filled out all the campus bureaucracy forms, requested money from the student senate to cover reservation fees, and started advertising the event.
There was just one problem: a local gun shop donated firearms to reward the winners, and Second Amendment rights aren’t welcome on America’s college campuses.
Despite the fact that Thomas’ YAL chapter threw the exact same event last year with no problems, OU’s administration and student senate went out of their way to try to stop the game. First, the University Housing office told Thomas he couldn’t post fliers because the prize “violated the student conduct code.” Winning a gun is not illegal in the State of Oregon.
In my column this week I took libertarians to task for pie-in-the-sky, holistic thinking, for believing that they would make an electoral force that could actually execute policy change. Some will read that as an attack on such holistic thinking of the grassroots. That could not be further from the truth.
While ideological purity may not be valuable for making policy change, policy change is certainly not the only variable in play.
Put simply, the libertarians I want to see making this centrist, good-governance change need to come from somewhere. And that place isn’t traditional bastions of left or right. Grassroots activism, be it through lectures, student activities, op-ed writing, or otherwise, is a great tool for building skills, talent, and networks that can later be used to execute the change that libertarians seek.
The fifth Young Voices podcast features Nathan Goodman and Daniel Pryor. Today’s topic is jury nullification and juror activism, with the discussion covering the usefulness of such activism and general issues with jury-related laws in the USA.
Read Nathan’s article on Queer Liberation and Jury Nullification here. Learn more about the Jury Health Project here, and take advantage of the Jury Power Information Kit here.