By, Myrto Ashe, MD, MPH, a functional medicine family physician
We have noticed a rash of comments in a variety of mainstream media accusing anyone who questions the safety of genetically modified foods of being “anti-science” and “hysterical”. These comments will also typically include the statements that hysterical anti-science people also oppose vaccinations and deny climate change. They go on to list beneficial GMO foods, skipping over the approximately 98% that involve heavy pesticide ingestion. The latest salvo came recently in a post from NY Magazine accusing Chipotle of fueling hysteria by announcing that they would serve only non-GMO foods.
We see the “anti-science” and “hysterical” claims connected to those asking questions about the safety of GMO food and the pesticides associated with them so often, and in that exact combination, that we now take it as a clue that the authors may have been schooled in the pesticide industry’s talking points. When Monsanto admitted that they fund a whole department devoted to opposing claims that their products are unsafe, no one was surprised. “Our products are safe” is what Dupont said right up until the day they were fined the largest ever EPA fine for hiding the known harms of PFOAs, a major component of Teflon. We are used to this argument but in recent months we’ve seen it more in attacks than defense.
A group of doctors who recently attacked Dr. Mehmet Oz for promoting unproven treatments and questioning the safety of glyphosate were found to have ties to the tobacco industry, having defended them against accusations that tobacco causes cancer. Dr. Oz has promoted some unproven treatments, which makes the charge closer to the truth, but make no mistake, the group’s attack letter was timed to follow his viral video on the dangers of glyphosate, which was fully based on recent science.
When the IARC (World Health Organization group for research on cancer) declared glyphosate a probable carcinogen, credible accusations that people and organizations relying on this report to ask for limits on the widespread use of the herbicide are “anti-science” was not possible. IARC is one of the most highly respected scientific groups internationally. This puts Monsanto in an awkward position. It is an inescapable fact that our consumption of foods sprayed with glyphosate involves exposing farmers to quantities that are probably carcinogenic. This includes all Roundup Ready crops, for example, and much non-organic wheat, sugarcane, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, and many more. How is this anti-science?
We get it, that is not what Chipotle implied, but their policy is a step in the right direction.
We are not saying that anyone accusing anyone else of being anti-science and hysterical always has the hidden agenda of supporting industry’s right to poison us, but we do consider that possibility anytime we see those words in print.