Allow me to ask a sort of stupid (series of?) question:
(1) What does the peer-reviewed science conclude about the safety of vaccines?
(2) What does the peer-reviewed science conclude about the efficacy of vaccines in preventing disease?
(3) What does the peer-reviewed science conclude about the safety of GMO foods?
(4) What does the peer-reviewed science conclude about the efficacy of GMO foods (e.g. toward conserving water, land, etc.)?
It would be trite to point out the obvious inconsistency in that if you are going to invoke scientific consensus and the public well-being as reasons for supporting the use of vaccines, then you surely should be in favor of the use of GMO foods. Of course, we don’t see people line up this way. What I find most interesting is not the internal inconsistency, we have long showed that people hold all kinds of inconsistent beliefs. Why? Because they are not choosing their beliefs with “public health” or “reduced water consumption” or “best outcome” as the goal, rather they are choosing beliefs because that is what “people like us” are supposed to believe while they do not choose beliefs that “people like them” are supposed to believe.
Fine. But in this case, I find the contradictions even more compelling. The folks who are in favor of vaccines (again that’s a stupid question, what does it mean to be “in favor of” vaccines?) accede the point that we ought to give up our liberty to choose not to be vaccinated because of the overwhelming evidence that widespread vaccination is a wonderkind for public health. On the other hand, I see more vitriolic opposition to the use of GMOs than perhaps even by the anti-vaccine crowd. And this is a bit weird. Why? At least in the case of vaccines, folks can be (somewhat) reasonably opposed to being forced to have something done to them and injected into their bodies. When it comes to GMOs, no one is forcing food down your throat in the name of public or environmental health. And the more free and prosperous our world is, the less likely that consumers would find themselves “forced” to have no choice BUT to eat GMO foods.
As I suggested above, the science on vaccines and GMOs seems quite clear. Vaccines are safe and effective (we can get into the nitty gritty, but not on this blog). GMOs are safe, cheap and effective. In one case folks support forcing people to ingest vaccines. On the other hand the same folks tend to be opposed to allow the voluntary expansion of growing GMO foods.
Now, should the government mandate vaccine use? Should it mandate that GMO crops be grown? Are these similar questions? Can appeals to self-ownership or individual liberty resolve these questions in any way? I won’t answer.