I became aware of the Vegan GMO website sometime ago during a debate about GMOs on the Moseley Vegans Facebook page. There wasn’t a lot on the site at that time and I ignored it as it was pretty inconsequential other than the fact there were vegans in this world who are pro-GMO. Yes Vegan GMO is a pro GMO website. Vegans come from all walks of life. However a couple of days ago I became embroiled in a Twitter discussion with a couple of the members of Vegan GMO. They are decidedly pro yet claim to be ‘open-minded about genetic engineering and biotechnology’. Vegan GMO are anything BUT open-minded.
Twitter discussion with Vegan GMO
Two conversations came at the same time. The first with a different handle @VeganChicago which concerned a Forbes article on why labelling of GMOs is wrong. It was an astounding article and I thought he’d put it up in a satirical way. But no, he hadn’t. At a similar time I retweeted and old post about why GMOs can never be safe, which is based on a Mercola article. This is when the long drawn out discussion with @VeganGMO began. I have a feeling both Vegan Chicago and Vegan GMO are the same entity. At the same time another bloke joined in, PythagoreanCrank, a contributor to the main Vegan GMO website.
This post is in danger of being very long and rambling, so in the interest of brevity I’ll avoid answering each indiscretion from the Vegan GMO crew. Instead I’ll give a round up (get it…!) of what I am objecting to.
Tabloid tactics or balanced debate?
The tabloid tactics is what I hate about specifically the labelling debate and the whole GMO issue in general. There’s hardly ever a balanced view available, rather you get extreme views, with no corner given. This fails to let the casual observer get the true picture. For the casual observer wanting a balanced view I refer you to this International Business Times report on GMO safety.
This is a balanced report, an open-minded report even. It tells the following story
- Monsanto are perceived to wield power over congress
- Monsanto history
- Roundup, Monsanto’s ‘flagship’ herbiside
- GM corn resistant to Roundup produced by Monsanto
- older and current methods of GE
- GM through plant breeding
- science for and against the notion GMOs are safe
- clear evidence of concern with GM products conferring antibiotic resistance
- less clear evidence regarding the more serious health concerns
And it goes on. As you can see this is a balanced view. You don’t get that balanced view from Vegan GMO. Instead you get tabloid tactics. By this I mean there is no attempt to address any points raised instead there’s a cherry-picking of ‘facts’ without context to make a point, that may or may not be valid. We can’t tell if it’s valid without the context!
Pythagorus Guy commented on one of the posts on here. He complained that I didn’t know the difference between copyright and patent. Admittedly, that was an error on my part but it does not detract from the thrust of that section of the post. Namely, the disgraceful suing of farmers for patent violation because they use their seeds twice. It’s the age old habit of saving seeds from one crop to use next time. It’s grim and ignored by Pythagorus Guy. So two tabloid tactics in one – ignore the main point and suggest the author is incompetent.
The conversation with the main Vegan GMO person involved the continued exclamation of the scientific consensus. Now this may very well be the case. That is, the majority of scientists may very well conclude that GMOs are safe. I will have to look at this closer. However, that doesn’t mean that they are safe. Vegan GMO think so and on their site they provide quotes from pro-GMO people (not just scientists) to back up the claim.
— VeganGMO (@VeganGMO) October 13, 2013
The inference is that if the consensus is pro we all should be pro. But consensus isn’t everything. There are serious safety concerns that cannot be ignored. For these reasons alone we should be careful about GMOs. However, Monsanto et.al. have forged ahead with production and it is difficult to avoid GMO soy and corn in America.
Without getting to embroiled in the debate Vegan GMO fail to mention any studies that indicate safety concerns or any scientists that have concerns. They merely dismiss any evidence by quoting experts. To be open-minded these dismissals surely need to be taken in context, at the very least. Better still the opposing view should be included. For instance, the post on the recent pig study, which indicated grave safety concerns was dismissed in the following manner.
- abstract from original publication
- specific criticism from an expert
The issue is we have no way of contextualising the criticism. We have no way of knowing how important it is. This is inadequate at best. They should include the reply of the authors of the study. Poor tabloid tactics – only report the cherry-picked part of the story.
More tabloid tactics emerged as the conversation went on. Vegan GMO decided that I couldn’t understand consensus and rather patronisingly provided a explanation. Slipping down to the Sun level of debate now…
Vegan Heath, GMOs and Vegan GMO site
I’m not a fan of GMOs. That is clear to anyone who has read this blog enough. However, I do still think there are possibilities in GE technology that should not be ignored. I simply feel that the current state of affairs is far too inconclusive. While the scientific consensus may very well be pro the is sufficient doubt of GMO safety that I will avoid them and encourage others to do the same.
The argument against GMO safety goes way beyond that mentioned here, I’ve not mentioned the Monsanto influence in congress and the FDA, their intensive lobbying of those bodies and the EU, their tight control of the scientific studies conducted (they have veto rights) and their track record when results are off-message. And that’s avoiding environmental issues. EDIT – nor the testing of GMOs on animals!
The Vegan GMO site is so pro and has such minimal regard for balance that I can only conlcude they are NOT open-minded. In fact, they use tabloid tactics to push their pro agenda. So much so, in fact, I think there’s a good chance they are actually Monsanto stooges. There’s such a minimal vegan emphasis this could easily be the case. Are you even vegan Vegan GMO?
For a great insight into the other side to the pro-GMO argument, something you’ll not find on the Vegan GMO site try this Genetic Roulette post. You’ll be thinking a bit harder afterwards. A great resource for the anti-GMO information can be found at the Roundup Resistance Facebook page. They provided a fabulous list of anti-GMO research which I reproduced on here – this was ignored as irrelevant by Vegan GMO on Twitter.
Use the click to tweet feature to let the vegan GMO crew know what you think, or simple send them a question from above – you’re so pro-GMO, are you even vegan, @veganGMO? or STOP the tabloid tactics @veganGMO.