Today’s Young Voices Podcast features Young Voices Executive Director Casey Given and YV Advocate Andrew Wilford on the forthcoming release of GMO apples in select stores in the Midwest. Could the relative lack of outrage regarding these apples mean Americans are finally accepting the scientific consensus on GMOs?
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.
Popular U.S. television personality Bill Nye is the latest public official to show contempt for free speech and intellectual inquiry.
Known for the PBS show he hosted in the 1990s, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Nye is a prominent advocate for action on climate change. And when Climate Depot’s Marc Morano recently asked him what he thought of Robert Kennedy Jr.’s comments that some climate sceptics should be prosecuted as war criminals, Nye seemed supportive. The Washington Timesreports:
“We’ll see what happens… In these cases, for me, as a taxpayer and voter, the introduction of this extreme doubt about climate change is affecting my quality of life as a public citizen… So I can see where people are very concerned about this, and they’re pursuing criminal investigations as well as engaging in discussions like this.”
The irony of quashing dissent in the scientific community was apparently lost on Nye, who added “That there is a chilling effect on scientists who are in extreme doubt about climate change, I think that is good.”
The mere fact such a position could be seriously contemplated by a public intellectual, let alone a member of the scientific community — which holds scepticism as a central plank of the scientific method — is a sad reflection on society.
Progressives fancy themselves champions of science and reason, and love to bash conservatives for having so-called “backwards” views on topics like evolution and global warming. The truth is that many liberals are just as susceptible to pseudoscience, particularly on health topics like vaccines and GMOs.
Case in point: Bill Maher hosted a notorious quack doctor on his show last week who claims to have cured Charlie Sheen of AIDS with goats milk. Really.
And also, though science is great, why do we need to prove which emotions are the “worst” in the first place? Everyone agrees that humiliation feels real bad. Whatever the brain is doing at those times, so be it. Over-applying science to domains where it doesn’t belong can counter-productively distract from the real issue: at the end of the day, humans are thinking, feeling creatures whose inner lives are at times very painful, whether there are “brain waves” to prove it or not.