Based on this not particularly unbiased Guardian report there is an outbreak of mild hysteria around the discovery of some “rogue” GM wheat in a US field. Japan has banned imports, as has Korea. And apparently Taiwan has put its ports “on alert.”
“This is potentially the tip of the iceberg,” said Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist at the food and environment programme for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“Where people have looked, they have found contamination occurring. But a lot of the time no one is looking,” he said.
Danielle Nierenberg, founder of The Food Tank “We have spent a lot of time in the last few years putting China and other countries down for food safety issues, but we are messing with people’s faith in the food system here,” she said. “The US has a long history of claiming we have the safest and most abundant food system in the world and this undermines that.”
Yes, “contamination,” and the “undermining” of claims the US has a safe food system. Yet, in all of this where is the evidence that GM crops are harmful? Absolutely nowhere, as far as I can see. The only thing it does provide evidence of is the inability of environmentalists to change their opinions when evidence shows they are wrong. To date there is no evidence that individual GM crops harm human health. Yet, if I try to think of an environmentalist who has changed their view on this issue, I barely need one finger to count the names, let alone a handful. The inability of environmentalists to change their mind on this issue, based on the science, is not exactly much more impressive than the record of climate “skeptics” changing their views.
And, if we tell people to ignore the large body of scientific research on the safety of GM crops, how then can we complain about people ignoring the scientific consensus on climate change? This is brazen hypocrisy, and needs to stop. If people distrust environmentalists how exactly can we argue against them? Is Greenpeace an organisation someone should be expected to trust on science? After all, they routinely tear up GM research trials, often behave like the worst sort of religious reactionaries, and inform us that no evidence can change their views on GM crops. “You change your opinion because of evidence, but I won’t.”
Sadly, the public is right to distrust the environmental movement, and I share that distrust. An environmental movement based on evidence and science, not pervaded by fear and irrationality is what we need. However, the long history of unchanged minds indicates that this is not coming soon. So, perhaps it’s time to call a spade a spade, and Greenpeace the environmental equivalent of the right wing of the Catholic Church. Or am I too pessimistic?