Thursday, November 14, 2013

Emotional vs. Scientific

                Earlier this year, the question arose about whether potato chips, and in particular, nearby Utz potato chips were made from Genetically Modified potatoes. Since Utz potato chips are so incredibly delicious, it seemed important to find out if that product was in actuality “tainted”. I realize that some people do not view Genetically Modified Organisms(GMOs) as anything harmful, and indeed many believe such biotechnology is a great advancement for the human species. And that is pretty much the point of this entry. Allow me to explain…
                The first point of investigation for me was to google “utz potato chip gmo”. That seemed to be the easiest place to start, and what do you know? The subsequent Google listing had a link that was perfect. It was a link to the “Utz” webpage with an explanation of the company’s approach to the use of GMOs in some of their products. Here is the link:
                So I started to read through the explanation and was struck very early on by the statement, “However, in trying to be completely objective about this emotional issue, all foods that are currently marketed in the United States, that have been derived from agricultural crops improved through biotechnology, have been subjected to extensive testing and scrutiny before the FDA allowed them to be commercialized.” What struck me in particular was the term “emotional issue”.  I will come back to the rest of that sentence later, but to proceed with the explanation, toward the end appears, “The consumer issues involved here are ideological and emotional, and not scientific.”
                Wow. The thought that concern over GMOs is “ideological and emotion, and not scientific” truly shows how convoluted our modern approach to biotechnology in agriculture has become. Indeed, by the end of this entry, just the opposite will be revealed, that it is industrialized agriculture that is emotional and not scientific. So here we go…
                In the first statement that I quoted above, it is put forth that all crops “improved” by biotechnology have been thoroughly tested by the FDA. “Improved”? Egads, but human audacity can be alarmingly idiotic at times. To imagine that humans can “improve” what has evolved naturally for countless years requires quite a simplistic and naïve approach to reality. Alas, what I just wrote must appear “emotional” and not scientific. But that’s okay. There is science to counter the “improved” approach.
                My next thought was to investigate the testing that convinced the FDA to approve of the GMOs. I did not find the actual data that convinced the FDA to approve GMOs, but I did find plenty of data that contends that the FDA decision on GMOs is superficial at the very best. The process by which the FDA decides on whether to allow certain products into the marketplace is absolutely political and has little or nothing to do with public health. There is an enormous amount of pressure that industrial agriculture corporations push in the process and to withstand those efforts appears to be impossible. Nonetheless, self-awareness is important to understanding the true issues here, and a great book that reveals the political process in all of this is “Food Politics” by Marion Nestle. GMOs are not taken up by Marion Nestle in the book, but with great detail she relays the tediousness and absurdity behind such things as food labeling.
                While the Utz site asserted that concern over GMOs is an ideological and emotional issue, it most assuredly is also scientific. Dr. Arpad Pusztai of the United Kingdom studied the feeding of what he thought at the time were harmless GMO potatoes to rats in the 1990s. In only ten days, many abnormalities appeared in the rats from their livers to brains to their immune systems and pre-cancerous cells were also present. Study after study reveals such abnormalities such as tumors and early death in rats. If one is even slightly aware of such studies, that SCIENCE is enough to raise concern over human consumption of the same GMOs.
                The problem really arises over the assertion that these GMO crops “have been subjected to extensive testing and scrutiny before the FDA allowed them to be commercialized.” That is simply a false statement. And here is where the politics enters the scene. The industry of GMOs comes up with the studies, and they are so limited in scope or focus that when taken as a “scientific” study, they are worthless. Those studies’ mission is not to prove any negative effects of GMOs. Beyond this, honest studies would last over elongated periods of time, which is not done. Instead of the onus of proof being required of the GMO industry, it changes to the general populace to prove that GMOs are harmful. And again, it takes long periods of time to prove the damage, even though the harmful aspects are present from the start. Not only are GMO crops not subjected to extensive testing and scrutiny, the opposite is the case.
                There are studies, as mentioned above, that show damage from ingesting GMOs in laboratory animals. These studies are vilified by those in the GMO corner of the arena. This group includes a wide spectrum of supposed experts, all of whom are greatly influenced, if not controlled by the GMO industry. When true scientists release such damaging studies, they are publicly ridiculed regardless of the actual data in the studies. The attacks are not scientific in response… but emotional.
                To take a step back, what has developed is nothing short of absurd. The GMO industry developed genetically modified crops, that is, non-natural crops. Never before has such organisms existed. In order to sway the final FDA decision, the GMO industry comes up with their own distorted and limited studies in order to be allowed to sell those products in the marketplace. Despite the data that suggests harmful results from ingesting GMO crops, any contrarian point of view or study is attacked as ideological or emotional. Indeed, it is often asserted by other “experts” that GMOs are necessary to feed the world. That is simply not true, and yet, to go against that assertion is to be ideological and emotional. Nonsense.
                The saddest part of all of this is the lack of honest care about fellow human beings. Ultimately what is most important is the end result of selling GMO crops. And that is not cancer, tumors or malfunctioning organs, or any other temporary ailments of mortal humanity… but MONEY. Instead of concern over products that may be devastating to the health of humans, every mean possible are used to force GMOs into the marketplace as quick and as thoroughly as possible. I personally find it very difficult to come to grips with such callousness… and short-sightedness. Once the realization sets in that MONEY is all important to these people, all, that is, ALL of their activities are called into question. But I will leave that at this point.
                To read on the Utz website, “the consumer issues involved here are ideological and emotional, and not scientific,” is absolutely belittling. And as much as I love those potato chips, that statement makes me wary over what exactly is in those chips, no use of GMO potato assertion aside. If we could only get the government to force such companies to label their products that they contain GMOs!

1 comment:

  1. And as you know, if those potatoes are not organic then they are also filled with yummy fungicides too. I will stick to the organic potatoes that come from the CSA and cook them myself, because I am an emotional ideological person. :-D