I spend a good deal of time making a point like this, somewhat more subtly of course, than the SciBabe. The title of her article is priceless, and spot on.
Lost in the hot rhetoric she uses is certainly the idea that “natural” is not to be conflated with “good.” This is obvious for things like arsenic. Arsenic occurs naturally. It is not a GMO. Now, it is not organic, but that is because it is not an organic substance. It is widespread. We are not running out of it. And it is toxic to us even in small doses. But the word “natural” has such emotional appeal that it has come to be synonymous with good.
I have a student from Dubai who tells me that it can get to 120 degrees in the summer where she lives. She told me that she would “die without air conditioning.” That air conditioning is unnatural, and of course being powered by coal is “unnaturally” making the planet dirtier and hotter. More generally, it is always worth reminding people that for millions of years man has fought her natural environment in a horrible struggle for survival. Nature was something to be feared not enjoyed.
I have one nit to pick with the SciBabe … we should stop calling GMOs GMOs. There are all kinds of ways that agricultural products can be manipulated – gene mutation, transgenic methods, etc. so the blanket term GMO is misleading. Second, there are obviously all kinds of “natural” GMO processes which happen without our distinct interventions yet those don’t seem to get a rise out of anyone. The sweet potato we know and love, via early selection, is the product of a gene from a bacteria inserting itself into the sweet potato genome. It’s exactly the same thing scientists now do in a lab.
I’ll send a craft beer from Wintercow Brewing Company to someone who can send me a picture from their store touting “non-GMO” Sweet Potatoes.