I used to think, as I wrote in Slate last year, that nothing rivaled the amount of misinformation that has so badly muddied climate science:
Then I started paying attention to how anti-GMO campaigners have distorted the science on genetically modified foods. You might be surprised at how successful they’ve been and who has helped them pull it off.
I’ve found that fears are stoked by prominent environmental groups, supposed food-safety watchdogs, and influential food columnists; that dodgy science is laundered by well-respected scholars and propaganda is treated credulously by legendary journalists; and that progressive media outlets, which often decry the scurrilous rhetoric that warps the climate debate, serve up a comparable agitprop when it comes to GMOs.
This state of affairs has anguished science-minded progressives. It puts them in the position of calling out their natural allies, which as Mark Lynas has discovered, is not such great fun. In the zero sum political world we live in, you don’t get pats on the back for questioning your own assumptions and those of your tribe; you get stabbed in the back for going off the reservation.
As for myself, I continue to be shocked at how progressive media covers biotechnology. A recent example was an awful piece of anti-GMO propaganda dressed up as journalism and posted on the Guardian site–initially without any attribution. The first person to bring it my attention was Robert Wilson on Twitter. Lynas also mentioned it. Soon after, I wrote about it in this space, noting:
The piece is as slanted and error-ridden as they come, made all the more obvious for its reliance on a notoriously discredited study by a French researcher with a weird history who has long been an anti-GMO opponent.
Charlie Petit at MIT’s Tracker site took notice of my post, saying my ire “had merit.” And now, belatedly, the Guardian would appear to agree, since they have taken down the video, according to one of the editors.
And so today, there is one less piece of blatant misinformation polluting the science communication environment.