January 30, 2013

GMOs and global warming — an analogy undercuts #GMO apologists, #pseudoskeptics

Climate change minimalists, if not outright deniers, will often say something like this:
  1. We've always had climate change in the past.
  2. We've even had climate change during relatively modern human times, like the Ice Ages. (Set aside any young-earth creationist issues.)
  3. Humans have adapted before.
  4. So why worry about climate change now, even if it is faster?
Would you ever buy that?

OK, let's imagine a similar argument from touters of how safe genetically modified organisms are.
  1. We've always had genetic engineering in the past, from evolution by natural selection.
  2. We've even had genetic engineering by modern humans, through things such as hybridization.
  3. Surrounding nature has adapted before.
  4. So why worry about genetic engineering now, even if it is faster, or crossing more distant genetic boundaries?
Would you ever buy THAT?

I don't think so.

I don't fully buy into the "Frankenfood" worries. But, I do note that there are legitimate concerns about GMOs. There is also, per Donald Rumsfeld, plenty of "unknown unknowns," and little push by the US Department of Agriculture, let alone the likes of Monsanto, to even make some of these things "known unknowns," let alone to make "known unknowns" become fully known.

And, while skeptics may be right to some degree to push back against "Frankenfood" mongers, they're wrong to disparage any reasonable concern about GMOs as unreasonable. Such people run the risk of being labeled, at least here, as pseudoskeptics.

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