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Sunday, December 1, 2013
Reductio ad Monsantium
By Selected News Articles @ 6:38 PM :: 4773 Views :: GMOs

Appeal to Monsanto

From Rational Wiki

For many anti-GMO activists, Monsanto assumes the role of Satan in Christianity; a faceless corporation that is responsible for all harms supposedly caused by GM crops. The belief in the malevolent meddling of the company in all areas of science and politics is so strong that it is used as an escape hatch — a variation on the shill gambit called an "appeal to Monsanto," or "argumentum ad Monsantium." [13] Any information that challenges the views held by anti-GMO activists can be disregarded by claiming that the source was bribed by the corporation.[14] For example, when Mark Lynas changed his stance on GMOs, the Organic Consumers Association immediately accused him of taking kickbacks from biotech companies -- listing Monsanto first.

There is a mountain of evidence that GM seeds, Monsanto's primary product, aren't any more harmful to animal health than traditional seeds.[15][16]

Ironically, it seems that Monsanto gained a near monopoly position in the GM seed market because of onerous regulation of GM crops, which effectively prevents any publicly funded research project or a small start-up from successfully navigating a product through the bureaucracy.[17] These regulations were mainly brought about in response to public concern manufactured by anti-GMO groups. Monsanto is therefore a nemesis of their own making.

It's worth noting that although Monsanto is typically portrayed as the super-wealthy bad guy bossing around helpless organic farmers, in dollar terms the organic food industry is much bigger than the GM seed industry—by a factor of five. Monsanto's total revenue in 2011 was slightly less than $12 billion,[18] of which $8.6 billion was from the Seeds and Genomics division[19] and worldwide GM seed sales in the same year were $13.3 billion,[1] while worldwide organic food sales in 2010 were slightly less than $60 billion.[20] ….

Pseudoscience regarding GM food

Attacks on GM food often utilize pseudoscience and straight out lying.

GM crops and health

The most prevalent claim is that all GMOs are harmful to health and cause a variety of illnesses: cancer,[32] autism,[33] reproductive problems, infant mortality, liver problems and many other things.[34] These claims are totally false and on the same level as vaccine hysteria. The vast majority of supporting "research" comes from a small group of ideologically motivated cranks.

The scientific consensus says that there are no generic health risks common for all GM food. Any possible harm can only come from a specific engineered trait. This view is shared by the World Health Organization,[35] the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the European Food Safety Agency, the International Council for Science,[36] the U.S. National Academies of Science,[37] and almost all national scientific bodies. All GM traits currently on the market have been tested in animals and found safe.

Seed fertility

Anti-GMO activists often say that GM seeds are infertile. This refers to Genetic Use Restriction Technology, dubbed "terminator seed", which renders the second generation seed of a plant infertile. (See "Terminator seed technology" above.) This would prevent the farmer from saving seed, which currently is a requirement enforced using legal means.

GURT was never commercialized and work on it was abandoned in 1999,[38] largely due to public backlash instigated by the anti-GMO campaigners. Ironically, it would solve one of the few real problems with GM crops, namely the transfer of GM traits into wild relatives. It would also enable the safe use of GM plants to produce pharmaceutically active compounds.[39]

Influence on bees

There are also claims that Bt crops are responsible for bee deaths and colony collapse disorder (CCD). This is false. Bt toxin is harmful to some Lepidoptera (butterflies / moths) and Coleoptera (beetles) which feed directly on the plant. It is not harmful to bees, which are in the order Hymenoptera. A meta-analysis of 25 studies found that there is no detectable harm to bees arising from the use of Bt crops.[40] In fact, imidacloprid, a pesticide used on corn crops, is toxic to bees; and the whole point of Bt corn crops is that they need to be sprayed with less pesticide.

Farmer suicide in India

Some anti-GMO activists also claim that Bt cotton in India ruins small farmers and drives them to suicide. Bt cotton in India is not a factor in farmer suicides, which started rising 5 years before its introduction.[41] In fact, a long-term study on the economic impacts of Bt cotton in India showed that Bt cotton has increased yields, profits, and the living standards of smallholder farmers.[42]


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