The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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Is extremism in defense of GM food a vice?

By Nathanael Johnson: Grist
When a study came out in 2012 associating gruesomely lumpy rats with genetically modified food, critics trashed it so thoroughly that a group of researchers and advocates called foul. This went beyond legitimate scientific critique, they wrote. It was evidence that “those with a vested interest attempt to sow unreasonable doubt around inconvenient results.”More recently, a long-term GM feeding trial of pigs received a similar (though milder) treatment. Tom Laskawy here at Grist made the point that, though this study had flaws, the dismissals seemed knee-jerk — ideological rather than thoughtful.So is there an echelon of corporate Pinkertons pouncing on any scientist who dares to dissent from the GM consensus? Are researchers who raise doubts about GMOs unfairly punished? It’s hard to assess while smoke billows and rhetorical bullets fly. It’s much easier to judge with the clarity of hindsight. The historical picture is sharper and simpler, and I think it really does show that scientists who step out of line on this issue are savaged in a manner that’s out of all proportion to their errors. These errors are real, but they should be exposed in the spirit of collaboration rather than castigation. Continue reading