If you follow my posts on GP, you know that I’ve been writing a lot about GMOs and genetic engineering. I was planning to lay off the subject for a bit, maybe write about advances in prenatal diagnostics or the wonders of sleep training and okay-to-wake clocks, but I’m compelled to write another on GMOs. Why? Monsanto. More specifically, March Against Monsanto. I don’t often get into debates on social media, mainly because it’s usually a futile endeavor. Still, every now and then I succumb to a moment of weakness.
This time I’ve been following recent news on the Séralini paper republication. If you’re not familiar with it, this 2012 paper was formally retracted from Food and Chemical Toxicology after the conclusions were found to be unreliable. You’d likely recognize the well-known image of deformed white lab rats; the paper claimed a causal link between GM maize and glyphosate (AKA Roundup) added to drinking water, and development of tumors in rats. The paper was published again last week in a lesser-known journal. Importantly, the paper was republished not because reviewers agreed with the conclusions, but to allow the data to be accessible in the long term. In fact, it was not even peer-reviewed prior to republication.
Lo and behold, anti-biotech types were using the hashtag #ScienceSpeaksForItself to tout and promote the republication as presumed evidence of danger, and to support their cause. This entirely ignored that the change of journals doesn’t change that there is no causal link between genetically modified food and cancer/disease. Long story short, I ended up in a dispute with none other than March Against Monsanto. And yes, I verified that this is THE March Against Monsanto twitter feed, linked from their Facebook page.
Now I don’t say this to be snarky: the majority of people using such hashtags don’t understand biology even at a fundamental level. You don’t get to use the all-mighty “science” as a champion of your movement unless you comprehend it at least basically. As I always say, if you don’t understand transcription, translation, and protein synthesis and function at a high level at minimum, you don’t have sufficient background to justify an inherently anti-GM stance. See my previous post for a quick and basic molecular biology primer.
Editor’s Note: Comments were mistakenly not disabled on this post, and so commenting has been turned off to encourage people to leave comments on the original post. Sorry for the mixup!