Why Do Greens Reject the Science on GMOs?

By Keith Kloor | February 3, 2014 1:54 pm

Last month, I got a chuckle out of this silver lining from a New Republic article:

The liberals who rant about genetically modified food may be pushing a point of view that is objectively as crazy as believing carbon emissions are not causing global warming; but liberals are still more likely (and willing) to get their news from places that tell them the truth.

Others, such as the The Economist, have lately noted the hypocrisy of greens, in particular those who stand up for climate science but also aim to destroy a field of agricultural science. I realize that green-friendly progressives chafe when folks like me point out the similarities between climate skeptics and GMO skeptics. But there is no denying the commonalities, as British environmentalist Mark Lynas writes in the current issue of Cosmos magazine:

It is obviously inconsistent on the part of environmental groups such as Greenpeace to trumpet the importance of the worldwide scientific consensus on climate change while at the same time denying the validity of an equally strong scientific consensus on the safety of GMO crops. Indeed, nearly identical tactics are frequently used both by climate change deniers and anti-GMO campaigners: politically skewed misinformation is spread via the internet and social networks; science in general and individual scientists are attacked and bullied as biased or as pawns of their paymasters; and the voices of a tiny minority of contrarian academics are aggressively promoted to give the public the false impression that “experts disagree”.

In green circles, contrarian climate “experts” are renounced, but GMO contrarian “experts” are embraced. Similarly, greens accept the consensus scientific judgement on climate change but reject it on GMOs. Why is that? Lynas scratches the surface in his short opinion piece. What do you think?

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is an archived Discover blog. Keep up with Keith's current work at http://www.keithkloor.com/

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets.From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine.In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest.He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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