How to find sources you can trust on controversial topics – like GMOs

How to find sources you can trust on controversial topics – like GMOs

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Today the Washington Post introduces a new feature in its Food Section that will tackle controversial food-policy topics, like genetically modified foods.  It’s called Unearthed and in the inaugural column the writer proposes a test for finding information about GMOs that can be trusted.  That’s a question I often ask when I’m reading about gardening subjects that inspire opposing views, and not just plant origin (natives v. nonnatives), a topic that draws record numbers of comments, but also compost tea, sphagnum moss and, of course, Roundup.

I hope you read the whole article but briefly, the author asserts that if a source ONLY mentions the benefits of GMOs (in this example) or ONLY the risks, then don’t trust that source.  She names some sources that fail that test (the Union of concerned Scientists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science), but lots more that pass.

She also concludes that among nonbiased sources there’s a consensus:  that there’s no evidence that GMOs are bad for us.  Okay readers, your turn.

I have no strong feelings either way about GMOs – because I don’t know enough – but I do worry that her standard for finding trusted sources could sometimes suffer from the problem of false equivalency that causes the news media to utterly fail to educate the public on so many controversial topics.  Sometimes the facts are the facts – the Earth really IS round – so quoting both sides on the issue just distorts that reality.

Posted by

Susan Harris
on October 16, 2013 at 10:03 am, in the category Ministry of Controversy.

5 Comments
    • Rebecca Caley
    • 12th September 2016

    There’s a editing job I wouldn’t want! People are so emotionally tied to this topic, there is no middle ground to walk on. Nobody is listening to reason.

    • Leslie
    • 30th September 2016

    I agree that there is not enough research about the actual food grown by GMO seed. However, that food was sprayed with tons of Roundup which I don’t want to eat and I don’t want to continue being put into our environment. I have the biggest issue with the vast amount of chemicals that come with GMOs.

    • Manisha
    • 6th November 2016

    I think the issue has to be that there just hasn’t been enough testing done on the long term effects of GMO’s on humans and the environment. I personally eat organic and think that in the long run this is a better choice for eating, gardening and farming. I am for labeling and don’t believe for one second that there are any ‘benefits’ in eating, growing or farming with GMO’s.

    • K
    • 13th November 2016

    “enough testing done on the long term effects”

    • Anne Wareham
    • 13th November 2016

    People lock themselves into attitudes. So once you have their number, you know what to expect they will argue for. (or against). Truth (wot that?) is always hard to find. Xx

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