The Propaganda Mill

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMar 7, 2013 5:11 PM


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Since I'm always on the lookout for helpful advice on how to talk to my friends about GMOs, this tweet caught my eye:

Via @foodmythbusters: 7 Things To Tell Your Friends About GMO's bit.ly/XHYD8G — Danielle Nierenberg (@DaniNierenberg) March 7, 2013

In her bio at the Worldwatch Institute, Nierenberg is listed as "an expert on sustainable agriculture." Indeed,

Her knowledge of global agriculture issues has been cited widely in more than 3,000 major publications including The New York TimesUSA Today, the International Herald TribuneThe Washington PostBBC....

So without further ado, let's see what knowledge on GMOs this knowledgeable expert (who recently co-founded a think tank on food issues) considers worthy of attention. She points to a "fact sheet" put out by the Small Planet Institute. It starts off:

In the 1990s, GMOs took off in the United States without public debate and today they're in most processed foods--making Americans the world's GMO guinea pigs. Now peer reviewed and other authoritative studies reveal...

Uh oh. I think we know where this is heading. 

Sure enough, the "fact sheet" on GMOs is a compendium of widely debunked myths and junk science that, nevertheless, is perfect for internet dissemination. Good job, Danielle! Among the seven things listed: "GMOs have proven harmful in animal studies." The authority cited by the Small Planet Institute is a notorious French researcher, who, as Andrew Revkin noted last year in the New York Times, "has long campaigned against genetically modified foods and attracted criticism for flawed science." The researcher's credibility has been shredded. The "seven things to tell your friends about GMOs" that Nierenberg tweeted is the sort of crazy talk that triggers a gag reflex in mild-manngered scientists like Anastasia Bodnar, who countered:

7 Pieces of Old or Inaccurate Info About GMOs bit.ly/XHYD8G via @daninierenberg — Anastasia Bodnar (@geneticmaize) March 7, 2013

In another tweet, Bodanar implored:

@daninierenberg @foodmythbusters Maybe talk to some scientists about gmos? Please stop promoting misinformation. You're better than that. — Anastasia Bodnar (@geneticmaize) March 7, 2013

Here's hoping.

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