The View From 1776
Union Of Concerned Busybodies
GMOs (genetically modified organisms) have been spectacularly successful in producing increased food crop yields, crops that are resistant to diseases and insects, and crops that need much less water than unmodified crops.
BUT corporations, those unredeemable products of evil capitalism, are making a profit from developing and marketing them. Therefore, liberal-progressive-socialists (who know what is best of you) MUST find reasons to ban them from use around the world, even through doing so will contribute to starvation of many of the world’s peoples.
However, there is no scientific evidence to support liberal-progressive-socialists’ destructive campaign. We can’t let that stop their efforts, of course, because they are “caring,” and their good intentions are more important than contrary real-world results of their socialistic programs.
I suspect the division between being pro or con GMO crops does really not fall clearly along liberal - conservative lines as you and the article suggest.
I would go as far as suggesting that your typical conservative Tea Party enthusiast would be much more likely to object to GMO foods than your typical "liberal" well educated scientist, such as one who finds the evidence of global warming more obvious than you do.
There is no peer-reviewed evidence that GMO foods are harmful, so most of the antagonism to the contrary is based on a lack of understanding of the science of genetics and evolution.
- J. Jay,
Your “typical "liberal" well educated scientist” is a sham, and a shameless attempt at smearing conservatives (by way of contrast) as ‘low-brow’. You can’t possibly know how politically-oriented the average ‘scientist’ is any more than you can claim the average Tea Party affiliate is more likely to be anti-GMO than your typical Gaia-worshipping liberal. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting a great many liberals are strongly anti-GMO, or have only recently shed their anti-GMO skins to escape humiliation when it [recently] began looking like GMOs are not the evil presented. All we need to show that is a quick search on “groups opposing GMO”, and see who turns up (see https://www.google.com/search?site=&source=hp&q=groups+that+oppose+gmo&oq=oppose+gmo&gs_l=hp.3.6.0l2j0i22i30l7.1941.5943.0.16818.104.22.168.0.0.0.726.1724.0j1j2j1j6-1.5.0.msedr...0...1c.1.60.hp..5.5.1722.ATMDBkuo9d0&biw=1440&bih=705&dpr=1&cad=cbv&sei=BCaKVKXSBceeNovDg-AB#q=groups+opposed+to+gmo We .can then correlate for things anti-GMO groups also oppose or support (i.e., global warming prevention, Wall Street antipathy, &c) to see how each leans politically. I also checked Wikipedia for its findings; which conveniently lists prominent opponents and supporters of GMOs. Hmmm … looks suspiciously like you liberal-socialists pretty much own the GMO issue controversy, with conservatives only weighing in occasionally to restore some semblance of balance.
I could not find a single reference to Tea Party or recognizable conservative groups citing GMO-opposition among its peeves (though I may have given up the search too soon). On the advocacy side, I find several interested corporations, a number of Republican politicians, and a smattering of recognizable conservative pundits. Among the latter, however, the meme appears to be more one of commenting the left’s near feral passion over this issue than one of supporting GMOs themselves or of their promoters (i.e., support is for free-markets, not of GMOs specifically). So, that reduces demonstrable ‘conservative’ support for GMOs to producers (can’t really say for certain they are or aren’t ‘conservative’, yet will allow that as a probability), plus some lobby-sensitive RNC politicians.
Here are a few typical samples or conservative pundits opining against GMOs (search terms used = “conservatives against GMO”):
What!? Not really or rabidly anti-GMO! Just some cautionary rhetoric combined with mild crony-capitalism/revolving-door criticisms! Well, I guess that doesn’t really support your assertion some conservatives are just as rabidly anti-GMO as are you liberals, does it? My third link above, moreover, implies, conservatives don’t spend nearly the amount of time agonizing over GMOs as do you liberals. But, please, do show us some real life examples of conservatives imploding over GMOs, especially from the health angle.
On the other hand, I find lots of recognizably leftist sites railing loudly against the supposed evils of GMOs and their ‘capitalist’ makers (search terms: GMO & capitalism). Why, they practically jump off the page however much I vary my search terms (they are legion, my friend). Here are just a few examples you can check out for yourself (most of these read like wigged-out conspiracy theorists, are uniformly and sometimes graphically sensationalist, and resort to readily debunked half-truths, urban-myths and outright lies to make their points – note I did not cherry-pick these as all were found on the very first page of my search effort):
One socialist-favoring article I came upon makes an interesting point “people of various ideologies tend to follow elite cues. This is why the strong counter-attack from within the Left elite is probably going to be effective, as it signals that being against GMO is not the “liberal position.” (see http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2013/06/do-liberals-oppose-genetically-modified-organisms-more-than-conservatives/ ). This tells us two things. First, GMO opinion tends to follow orchestrated party & media (e.g., elites) propaganda [presumably] regardless the political orientation. Ergo (assuming he’s right), doing a media search by media articles (NY Times v Washington Times) ought to tell how us how each audience thinks (since we take our marching orders from our elites, right?). The second thing is the writer acknowledges the left has been waging just such a campaign [recently] to steer liberal opinion back from what is generally regarded an ‘extreme position’ (aka, ‘the abyss’). Note the writer of this article, himself, reveals a strong liberal bias (despite an unconvincing pretense to moderation) as shown by other articles he wrote invariably flattering liberals over conservatives while pretending neutrality. Still, his point is a useful admission in which tells us: a) liberals are noticeably drawn to the GMO controversy and b) liberals have to be deliberately discouraged from it and instructed in what or what not to think/oppose so as not to make their party look stupid.
On the flip-side of this assertion, and given the low opinion conservatives often have of our own erstwhile elites (politicians, governmental spokesmen, academics, and even some media notables), it can easily be shown that that sort of ‘guidance’ when directed at us is typically met with criticism, derision and resistance. Turn on any conservative radio program and you will hear Limbaugh, Levin, et al lambasting Republican politicians and hyped notions like GMO dangers and global warming almost as much as they do Democrats. The conservative press is just as critical. Nor do conservative pundits spare each other whenever one defends an indefensible. That kind of upsets Mr. Khan’s assumption conservatives are just as subject to ‘guidance’ by elites as are his pet liberals. The reality [our side of the divide] is that our opinion tends to lead and shape our own elite’s opinion far more than theirs shapes ours. I would also contend liberals tend to embrace such manias far more than do conservatives. This is because conservatives are, for the most part, older (i.e., grown wary of the ‘bandwagon effect’ –from too many times bitten), focused on preserving the status quo, on holding government to greater account (which such feeding frenzies tend to frustrate), and get riled only for good and sufficient reasons. Another reason for this difference is that, whereas liberals are guided more by vaguely defined, failed propositions, something-for-nothing political promises, and change-oriented, conservatives are guided by established principles and proven methods. That being so, it is easy to see why the former is easily swayed by every hysteria and fad; whereas the latter not so much.
BTW, and to Mr. Kahn’s assertion a high correlation of college degrees among liberals indicates greater group-intelligence, I would reply all that really shows is the current population of degree-holders is skewed toward youth. The real correlation is with youth, not intelligence. Older folks both tend to be more conservative and grew up in an era when there was far less emphasis on getting a degree; and, fewer of us bothered to do so. Moreover, possession of a college degree (even an advanced one) does not, of itself, demonstrate or confer greater knowledge or wisdom. All it proves is you were able to hang on through four years of college while some liberal-arts professor spoon fed you nonsense (9/10ths of which needs to be dispensed with if you are to make any headway in life). The number of bachelor degrees per capita in 1987 was 25% less than in 2010, 50% less in 1970, and 75% less in 1940 (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_attainment_in_the_United_States#mediaviewer/File:Educational_Attainment_in_the_United_States_2009.png ). Would Mr. Kahn, therefore, contend the current generation is more intelligent (on average) than their fathers and grandfathers simply because they hold more degrees? Or might he admit, he failed to account for this temporal degree-demography and generational-ideological creep. Mr. Kahn came to his conclusion based on an isolated and incomplete ideological-educational correlation far less complete than the one I here supply. What it means I can’t and won’t venture (that would require a whole lot more research and analysis than either of us have produced), but Kahn’s correlation definitely does not prove ‘liberals smarter than conservatives’, not even close.
Of course, you can get a good education in college despite all the liberal-mush taught there, but that has more to do with the individual than the institution. Well-focused students with defined objectives will graduate armed with knowledge (and, perhaps, the beginnings of wisdom). The rest (and today, that is an overwhelming majority) will graduate with a degree that means little in real terms. Degrees also have become far easier to acquire during this education-demographic shift, and carry far less prestige than they once did. That is because, in large measure, so many of them are dumbed-down to accommodate those who have little business being in college, but also to enhance university ‘profits’.
This Brookings article asserts, degrees (especially advanced degrees) tend to concentrate in urban areas; which also tend to be more liberal. A conservative article I came across discounts Brookings on this, yet I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt as there is some reason to believe many degreed-liberals do indeed, like birds to Capistrano, flock to Urbania seeking their own kind (and to find jobs to their liking). The reasons and correlations are, again, easily discerned. First, degrees go where the degree-requiring jobs are; and that is mostly large cities. Second, universities are overwhelmingly staffed by liberal professors who drill the liberal credo into their charges such that, by the time they graduate, it is unlikely they will ever disabuse themselves of it. Where I agree with the conservative writer is those grads are now flocking more to cities in heavily ‘red states’. Where I agree with Brookings is that even in red states, cities tend to be liberal enclaves or soon become liberal from the influx (which inverts Brookings logic somewhat).
All people learn and gain in wisdom with time. We don’t stop learning just because we no longer sit in a classroom. The knowledge gained attending college may be of a high caliber and organized in such a way as to make us well=suited to particular professions, but there is nothing to say it is superior to non-college acquired knowledge or that the same knowledge cannot and is not gained from direct experience or through independent learning. I have known many people without university degrees whom I regard knowledgeable, bright, capable, and wise. Yes, bright, capable people will make the most of it by getting a leg up on knowledge at the outset, and most of us do; but that is neither the appropriate nor fair criterion for ranking intellect according to political-affiliation.
There is a well-established tendency in every generation to be hyper-liberal (PC) in youth, then become increasingly conservative as we progress in age and wisdom. Though you have progressed little in this regard, J Jay, it applies even to a rabid-socialist like you. I will venture even you were more radical two decades ago than today. Though, I could be wrong about that.
- J. Jay,
Over and over, you claim “peer-reviewed evidence” or peer-reviewed studies” as your authority. But, I notice you never provide actual links or traceable references to such evidence and studies. I, therefore, suspect you have none, and are simply repeating moronic media assertions they exist and prove what you say they prove. Have you ever read these evidences, and, assuming you have, do you understand what you read? Or, as is far more likely, are you just blowing smoke again.
- J. Jay,
You next wrote “… most of the antagonism [to GMOs] … is based on a lack of understanding of the science of genetics and evolution”. We have established in previous posts your own understanding of the sciences (including biology) is weak, yet here you are (again) lecturing to some with better understandings regarding where they (we) have erred. Of course, your real point in posting was not so much to correct a misunderstanding as to create a less than honest association of liberalism with science and knowledge, and a contrasting impression of conservatism with anti-scientific knuckle-dragging. Sometimes you are just so transparent it is all I can do to refrain from mocking you.
- J. Jay,
You then wrote “There may be some truth to the claim that large corporations have a sinister motive for GMO seed production that allows them to "corner the market." But this activity is all part of our glorious capitalistic system, and these competition issues will no doubt eventually be worked out in the market place.”
Using government to shut-out your competition may be ‘part of our system’, but is the antithesis of what it means to be a capitalist (aka, free-market) system. That is because the moment anyone corporation establishes dominance, we no longer have a free-market; what you have is a captive or coerced market. A corporate monopoly is, in this regard, indistinguishable from a government monopoly. For a system to be capitalist implies both there is open competition, and that supply-demand is unconstrained. How can that be the case where one company dominates, or where a monopoly (or even a near monopoly with government intervening to establish, favor and regulate) exists? Answer: it isn’t. Once again, you are arguing from false premises, and that is mainly because you are besotted with socialism and never bothered to learn accurate word usage; else deliberately pervert language for the sake of ideology. It is not capitalism, per se, as creates the problems you here denounce, it is simply bad, weak and lazy men seeking advantage over their fellows as does that (and nowhere so pronounced as in the corruption of governments), and that predates capitalism by millennia.
The issue of someone like Monsanto developing GMO corn does not primarily involve government intervention, so I am not following your point very well. The claim that the anti-GMO folks make is that by allowing GMO corn, Monsanto (and others) will corner the market because they also control the insecticides that go hand in hand with the GMO corn.
PS - As a callow youth I was a rabid Goldwater supporter, so my political enlightenment with the wisdom of age has not followed your preconception.
- J. Jay,
You are overreaching. Read again what I wrote, and you will see I raised no new points. Mine was simply a rebuttal of the many misrepresentations you manage to pack into a few, short sentences. Perhaps, I went a little too fast and didn’t provide enough clarifications for you, but all of my ‘points’ were direct rebuttals of your own, and should need no further clarification than that.
- J. Jay,
Your concern regarding Monsanto’s control over the GMO market is touching, or would be if you were not such a complete advocate of total control as asserted by government. After all, what monopoly is there greater (or more corrupt) than those which government spawns? Your invariable prescription for preventing even the suggestion of a private monopoly is an increase of government’s monopolistic control over every form of private activity, regardless the monopoly in question is bad or good. I realize your comment imputes this particular anxiety to others (anti-GMO proxies) in an attempt at presenting yourself as above the fray, but you have railed against commercial lobbies often enough there can be no mistaking you empathy is with them and share this particular anxiety.
Consider: before there were GMOs, who or what was there to prevent us meeting our GMO demand? The answer to this is no one and nothing. That is because this is an entirely new product and way of producing food. Because older methods remain available to us, there is no downside to society from the inventor possessing a patent (temporary monopoly) over his invention; only positives. Ergo: even supposing Monsanto had a monopoly on GMO-produced foods (which it doesn’t; see http://www.biofortified.org/resources/genetic-engineering-companies/ and http://www.whydontyoutrythis.com/2013/06/comprehensive-list-of-gmo-products-and-companies.html ), that still does not give them a monopoly on all food or all food production. All they really have is a [short lived] monopoly on a particular method of producing food precursors (seeds) and weed controls that are less impactful than previous methods (seed strains and chemicals). Nor is there anything unique about the foods they produce (wheat, corn, barley, fruits, &c), food that is readily duplicated by other still competitively viable means. The question for us, then, becomes … so what?! The whole anti-GMO movement reduces to someone inventing and marketing a slightly better (e.g., more humane) mouse-trap, only to suffer the jealous reaction of traditional mouse-trap makers exploiting a minor flaw in the new trap in order to gin up a boycott against the inventor (never minding their traps have even bigger flaws).
To make this clearer to you, let us suppose you are the inventor of the wheel and have a patent (monopoly) over its manufacture. Before your invention, everyone struggled to move loads over long distances, and are now greatly convenienced by your wheels and wheeled carts. However, some fool starts whining he is ‘forced’ to buy your wheels at an exorbitant price (aka, accuses you of gouging). Pretty soon, other malcontents are making the same complaint and you find yourself besieged by fools bent on ruining you. Of course, no one is forcing them to buy wheels from you, as they are perfectly free to go on moving loads in the old, back-breaking way. They are also perfectly free to invent other means of accomplishing the same thing (e.g., build a canal to float their loads where needed). The modern knee-jerk denouncing of natural monopolies is a similarly false allegation of ‘wrong doing’.
Historically, commercial monopolies are short-lived, last only so long as they are more beneficial than problematic, and are few in number. Government monopolies and commercial monopolies spawned by and maintained by governments, on the other hand, have been many, survive decades beyond their justifications, and have burdened more than benefitted society. A prime example of this was ‘Ma Bell’ (aka, AT&T; see http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/08/remember-the-long-distance-warrior-who-took-down-ma-bell/ ). No other commercial entity in American history has ever secured to itself such a total market monopoly as did AT&T and Bell Labs, and none for such an extended period of time (1913 to 1984). Moreover, through U.S. governmental influence, Bell’s monopoly extended to most of the free (i.e., non-communist) world. As subsequent history shows, the sole benefit derived from this monopolistic private-public arrangement was having a ‘unified system’. The cost to society of that uniformity was excessive costs, poor performance, and a near total resistance to innovation.
Nor does it follow that private monopolies are axiomatically bad for us (see http://fee.org/freeman/detail/good-and-bad-monopoly ). Predatory-pricing followed by gouging have long been the mainstays of the anti-monopolist creed. But, where has it actually been shown those were happening in a free-market environment (see http://mises.org/library/100-years-myths-about-standard-oil ). It has and does occur in regulated-markets, especially those banning particular commodities altogether (e.g., Prohibition led to organized crime syndicates). Except as extortion, violence or corruption plays a part, the mere fact a company dominates its market to the exclusion of all competitors can mean only one thing, that they produce their widgets more efficiently and market them to consumers at a lower cost than does their competition. Assuming they then begin gouging, that can only give their natural competitors an opening to reenter the market. At most, they will be able to ‘gouge’ customers only as long as it takes some enterprising fellow to see the opening that creates.
Other significant semi-public monopolies include: railroads, airlines, electric power distribution, &c, all of whom have needed governmental protection even to operate as a monopoly, and could never have operated monopolistically for very long otherwise.