GMOs and the news

The New York Times article, “A Lonely Quest for Facts on Genetically Modified Crops,” follows the story of a bill to ban GMOs that was put up for vote in Kona, Hawaii. Specifically it focuses on one council member, Greggor Ilagan, and his quest for answers. Ilagan soon realizes that a straight answer is hard to come by. After reading the New York Times article here and reflecting on your own experience as a consumer of the news, post a response to some of the questions below:

How would you have voted on the bill?

Where do you stand on this issue?

Do you think the media has done a good job in covering the GMO debate?

Would you consider yourself fully informed about GMOs and the controversies surrounding them?

What is your response to recent movements by grocery store chains, such as Whole Foods, to stop selling products containing GMOs?


4 Responses to “GMOs and the news”

  1. Charlie, thanks for posting such an interesting article. You ask how I would have voted on the bill, and I don’t think that I would be able to answer this question based on the information that was presented in this article. This piece was confusing at the time, in regards to whether it was trying to be unbiased. In the end, I believe that the article was really trying to focus on the positive effects of GMOs. In fact, the same indecision that is seen in Ilagan is, unfortunately, seen in the author which was not a great way to write a news piece like this.

    My stance on this issue is not a definite one. The topic of GMOs has been rampant in the news, but there has not been much consistency in the consensus. For now, I am on the side of GMOs. It seems that being anti-GMOs can only occur when a person is privileged. Around the world, there are people who do not have access to food, and genetically engineered foods can bring these people sources of subsistence that have also been enriched with vitamins that they normally do not receive. Whole Foods has recently promoted their mission to stop selling products with GMOs, but it is important to realize the population that shops at this store. Compared to your local Meijer and Kroger, the prices at Whole Foods are incomparably high. They can afford to discard GMO filled products because their customers can afford to buy organic products.

    Until there is more research that is presented with significant scientific data, I will remain unsure about GMOs. I think that journalists should stop writing pieces that are not consistent on this topic, but instead investigate the truth and consult the experts, so that the public can once and for all be informed about GMOs.

  2. I consider myself about as uninformed as possible about GMOs. Not because I haven’t heard about them. I have heard a lot about them in the press, just as everyone has. But I’m still extremely uninformed, mainly because the press that I see about it is usually supporting one of the opposing viewpoints and is inherently biased. In the same way that the council member found it very hard to find the truth, it is just as hard, if not harder, for someone like me.
    That’s not to say I couldn’t find it. I haven’t really looked. But, I have never really looked for information about global warming, but somehow I can rattle off at least a couple facts pertaining to that issue. I feel like the problem here is that there is a much more even distribution of supporters amongst the viewpoints of GMOs, compared to something like climate change. Yes, with climate change the public is susceptible to the biased opinions of the 1% of scientists who disagree, but the truth has still largely come out, because we have the 99% fighting back. With GMOs, the distribution of supporters and opposers is much more even – in numbers and publicity. With the more even distribution comes a more diluted system of biased reports and propaganda supporting one side or the other, and it makes it very hard to figure out where the truth lies.
    Overall I think GMOs are fine. We are learning, and just like everything else, we will probably break a couple things along the way and make some products that we probably shouldn’t have made, but in the end the world will be better off.

  3. To be true to my own personal beliefs, I’d say that a vote to ban GMOs is a vote of ignorance. Not only are they cheaper because they can sometimes allow for larger yields but there have also been cases of genetically engineered foods that provide health benefits ( or cases like the papaya farm in the NYT piece. Many people dislike GMOs because the most controversial of them are used to withstand herbicide and are in turn patented by companies like Monsanto, the ironic creators of the herbicide. Since the scientific evidence showing the dangers of these GE foods is so lacking right now, the arguments against these herbicide-resistant crops is a moral one: how could we feed our children food that has been coated in dangerous chemicals, how can they be safe if they’ve been modified to the point of living through these chemicals?
    These are valid arguments and it is these that lead me to believe not that we should ban GMOs but that we should label them and wait for further research. I consider myself to be fairly well informed on the issue and that is why I’m not convinced, as many are, that the media is right and that GMOs are the end of healthy food as we know it.
    Labeling will hurt that industry, I’m not denying that. But it will also give the people who choose to inform themselves the choice to buy what they deem healthy.

  4. Personally I would have voted for banning GMO’s but I will admit I’m probably rather biased on the issue. I find this article really interesting because it made me start to challenge my views somewhat, or at least want to look more into the issue. I do feel that genetically modified food is a dangerous road to go down because of the unknown side-effects on consumers and the possibilities of “superweeds,” decreasing genetic diversity, etc. However, I think that I’m more against the big companies like Monsanto (don’t even get me started) than I am actually against GMO’s entirely. I do understand that GMO’s have been used for a while since the “green revolution” and have helped increase food production which I’m sure has helped many people with their food security, but I still can’t get over the feeling of it being too unnatural.
    In terms of media coverage I think that the dynamics have been rather interesting. From my experience, I have only ever seen negative and sometimes grossly sensationalistic coverage of GMO’s and their possible harms and hardly ever have seen good journalistic coverage of the positive side to GMO’s although I’m sure those articles exist. I think that this issue needs to be more of a matter of gathering scientific evidence and then assessing that information as opposed to making it a matter of opinion, because I definitely see the points from both sides of the issue. I do think that most of our food problems can be solved by reducing food waste and other relevant actions though, so I don’t really think GMO’s are necessary and like I said I don’t really care for them myself.
    Thanks for the article Charlie, this was really interesting and I will certainly be looking more into the issue.

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