Feed on

GMO crops are safe and promote a better environment (via less land use and less pesticide and herbicide use). There is almost no research out there to confirm any of the outrageous claims of opponents. The best opponents can do is link to fancy, slick, flyers from anti-"E"nviornmental organizations (that's my new name for them) that just claim it is bad.

I think many GM opponents have had to face this reality. But rather than be persuaded by the lack of evidence of the harm of GMOs, they simply continue in their hunt for another reason to shut them down. I'll ask a question first and then make a comment.

The question:

  • If GMOs had been, and are, developed by small mom-and-pop organizations and farmers, and which "strengthened" local communities and not mega-firms like Monsanto, do you think folks would be as aghast at the Frankenfoods as they are today? To ask this question is to answer it. We are in the realm of religion. Which is fine. Just stop making it out to be anything else.
  • It's always time "for more research." Always. And the anti-"E"nvironmentalists want fracking bans, GMO bans, and the like until "more research" is done. Yet I have never seen an anti-"E"nvironmentalist lay out conditions for when these things would become acceptable. What research outcome would you find to be acceptable and therefore tell me that it is OK to proceed with your disfavored technology. Seriously. Ask any opponent of anything out there to specify what research would have to confirm before they would accept the new technology and you'll either hear crickets – or an outright rejection of the laws of scarcity. For example, one of my students wrote a very nice OpEd in our campus paper trying to get himself uninvited to cocktail parties by trying to have folks think clearly about the U of R investing in companies like Raytheon. The socialists' objections to this on campus is that we are profiting at the U of R from a company that makes missiles. My student correctly asked the question, "as compared to what?" In other words, Raytheon develops weapons that produce far less collateral damage than what was used before-hand. The stylish socialists of course object by simply changing the question. "Are you saying that war and death is good?" Of course you cannot have a reasonable discussion. The point is that investing in Raytheon, may at the margin, actually improve human well-being. Asking for people to now be perpetually in a state of war is like asking for St. Obama to shower free health care on us without having anyone have to provide it. The same is true when it comes to the environment. No damage at all, anywhere, is permitted. Of course, the "as compared to what" is millions of sick and starving and poor people around the world that the anti-"E"nvironmentalists either pretend don't exist, or pretend exist because capitalism and Monsanto made them this way. Just tell me how effective Monsanto was at making people poor and hungry in the 15th century. 

The comment:

  • The stylish anti-everythings have successfully changed the conversation. How? Suppose that the optimistic claims of folks on the "pro" side of the GMO movement are overblown. Suppose that they don't really save on water. Suppose that they don't really save on pesticides. Suppose that the fortified rices and wheats are not going to solve malnutrition. So what? You see how the goal line has been moved? Do the GM foods INCREASE water use? Do they INCREASE malnutrition? And are people forced to buy and consume them? Furthermore, the GM varieties surely reduce costs to farmers and surely reduce land use. But anti-everythings now think that pointing to the fact that "Golden Rice" may not have enough Vitamin A in them to solve Vitamin A deficiency as a trump card in them to justify banning GMOs or at least mandating their labeling. This is infantile argumentation that sadly wins the day.

The entire thing is sickening. I'll take any of it seriously when logic and reason are the standards for which "arguments' take place. I'll take any of it seriously when anti-everythings can point to relevant externalities and violations of property rights from the things they are against. I'll take any of it seriously when anti-everythings provide any evidence that there is something up for discussion here? Is it only me that has to offer up the idea that I'll oppose something if the research suggests it is harmful? But "they" don't have a similar intellectual and moral obligation?

The whole thing is a joke. People keep telling me that we can keep "politics" out of most things. I think that is a joke and it is a joke because of the cancer that politics has become. When you want a world where everything is done by the government, then we have a world where politics MUST become part of every discussion we have. But that discussion is to be left for another post – the contents of which will have me removed again from polite company. 

11 Responses to “What Do GMO’s and the School Choice Movement Have in Common?”

  1. thank you for the shout out to Raytheon missile systems. I worked there ten years in Tucson. I am proud of the work we do striving for accuracy. When I watch shows on wwii and see how many bombers had to be sent to hit one target, our missiles are a true bargain. They didn’t just happen, somebody had to build them.

  2. Speedmaster says:

    I ask this seriously, not at all sarcastically and with no snark. Aren't pretty much all organisms at this point, plant and animal, genetically modified, via random mutations over millions of years?

  3. Dan says:

    I'm surprised to see you highlight the Raytheon paragraph. I consider it the weakest point in a weak op-ed.
    Developing more targeted missiles or using drones instead of bombers decreases the moral and tactical cost of taking down suspected terrorists. So we can expect more frequent attempts. And that's exactly what we've seen. In four years Obama has ordered five times as many drones strikes than in Bush's eight. Deciding on who to kill has been institutionalized in the White House: say a prayer for the Terror Tuesday victims tomorrow.
    Is it clear that more targeted weapons are making us safer on net? Or are they radicalizing the men of Northern Waziristan, who are afraid to go outside because of the drones that fly over them 24 hours a day? Or the children, who are dropping out of school because of the psychological of impact of witnessing spontaneous liquadations? Or the women, who are afraid to recover bodies because drone operators target rescuers? How many more terrorists have "better weapons" begotten?

    (WINTERCOW UPDATE: My editor will not let me comment on my own posts! In any case, Dan, I am not analyzing the Raytheon point at all, it is only brought up to illustrate the more general, totally ignored, point that no evidence or thought experiments are part of the arguments given. Ever. I could be talking about Big Bird, the environment, drones, anything.

  4. Mark says:

    i dont see at all how inserting a bacterial plasmid containing a gene from deep sea fish for cold resistance (so proteins keep their function at lower temperatures) into tomatoes can do any harm at all. but feed more people, prevent crop losses of millions of dollars during cold spells PREPOSTEROUS! EVIL!
    and of course you need a larger corporation like monsanto to do this, would you trust a mom pop farmer to have an intricate knowledge of transgenetics? there would be a lot more potential for danger if they did, you need to invest a lot of resources perfecting these techniques and making sure they actually work with little or no harmful effect

  5. wintercow20 says:

    @Mark: or think about the regulations that lead to having Monsanto being the only firm able to pay for the field trials, lawyers, etc. that go along with ensuring safety. So even if Mom and Pop could develop the new breeds, they couldn't get 'em to market.


    On the other hand, Monsanto probably benefits from ag subsidy programs more than anyone else too – funny how the finger is rarely pointed at government for this when it comes to the GMO argument. It's religion. 

  6. Harry says:

    Since around 1986 Lilly and Novartis have manufactured genetically-modified human insulin, a hormone vastly better than the bovine and pork varieties available previously (and then only since the thirties). Novolog and Humalog are expensive, about $125 per vial. Those drugs were not developed by command-and-control governments.

    By the way, the Roundup-Ready soybeans in our fields have been harvested.

  7. rox_publius says:

    i'm with you up until you argue against labeling.  as one who promotes individual choice and responsibility, i am nearly always in favor of labeling requirements.  The graphics on cigarette packages and some hazard warnings being exceptions.  i live in philadelphia, and the one regulation that our overbearing city gov't has put into place that i like is the calorie content being posted at chain restaurants.

  8. jb says:

    Did I miss the parallel with school choice?

    • wintercow20 says:

      @ jb … the parallel is related to a post I ran in the previous few weeks. Even IF, for example, GMO products are not healthier, and do not deliver environmental benefits, they are cheaper. But now the opponents of GMOs are making claims like, "well, they are not super-duper-amazing-save-the-world-awesome" because they have no argument in the face of overwhelming evidence of their safety … and incredibly that is being used as a trump card to ban GMOs, or to mandate labeling. It's the thing with the school choice movement. This is again why I URGE supporters of school choice to spend less time obsessing about (potentially meaningless) test scores and more on the better productivity and freedom aspects of it. 

    • Harry says:

      Yes, JB, I missed that one, too. Sometimes Wintercow goes far afield, as cows often do, but not in winter, unless the electric fence is shorted out.

  9. wintercow20 says:

    @rox … the issue with GMO labeling is a little different than cigs… I'll perhaps run a few posts on it – but GMOS are safe, and beyond that, non-GMO foods can be and are labeled as such (I bought blueberry scones a few weekends ago that happily advertised this), furthermore the labeling requirements are "devil in the details" sorts of things, the California proposal or example exempts over half of the foods we eat from labeling and then puts the burden on small businesses at the retail end to ensure tracing the entire chain of supply for a product. There are other reasons to be concerned. But if we want to label the product, there are more effective ways, such as mandating that a GMO flour be listed as something like flour(m) in the ingredients … that is far different than showing "THIS PACKAGE CONTAINS GMOs!" on the front – which is beyond misleading in terms of the implied "risk."

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