Contaminated by Irrational Fears

Europe’s latest bout of GMO phobia is captured in this Guardian headline:

 EU bans GM-contaminated honey from general sale

In case you didn’t catch the tilt of the article, here’s the subhead:

Bavarian beekeepers forced to declare their honey as genetically modified because of contamination from nearby Monsanto crops

The thrust of this mind boggling story:

The European Union’s highest court on Tuesday ruled that honey which contains trace amounts of pollen from genetically modified (GM) corn must be labelled as GM produce and undergo full safety authorisation before it can be sold as food.

In what green groups are calling a “groundbreaking” ruling, the decision could force the EU to strengthen its already near-zero tolerance policy on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The Guardian story’s bias is quite obvious, as it is frontloaded with cheerleading greens and anti-GMO voices. The scientists get their say after that. Just for kicks, I waded into the comment thread (which is quite a smackdown between the pro and anti camps) and plucked out a few notables.

Here’s a wry, nicely understated observation:

Greenpeace is becoming more annoying than some religions; worrying indeed.

From someone who sounds exasperated:

Madness. This madness has to stop. There isn’t even the slightest hint of any chance of any potential harm to human health here yet the nutters want to ban science and modernity for their silly obsessions.

This is going beyond a mere ideological obsession and becoming religious in its rejection of fact, reason and science.

As if on cue:

good, they should ban GMOs

sick to death of them sneaking in dodgy ingredients into food. In the long run GMO will kill wildlife, degrade soil, impact human health. Goodness knows where it will end.

The egg heads will say, this is not proven by science, trust us.

This one gets points for its audacious idiocy:

There have been hundreds of studies done by professional laboratories around the world and every one shows GMs to be dangerous. The only exception is the rigged studies and results from Monsanto who are not just allowed but helped by the US government to sell extremely dangerous products.

There is no evidence at all of any benefits from GMOs other than Monsanto’s propaganda. Their intent is to control the world’s food supply. Gullible people are helping them along with politicians and scientists paid by Monsanto.

And finally, my favorite, a plea from an apparent environmentalist:

This thread is even better than the anti-nuclear / pro-coal ravings of the neo-green climate change deniers.

I don’t think I’ve ever read more baseless anti-science, fundamentalist, conspiracy theory paranoia in CIF. Some of you greens are nothing less than a psychotic lynch-mob.

Environmentalism is a SCIENCE. The ‘Green” movement has turned into some kind of twisted religion and will destroy the credibility of the Environmental Movement if this new-age, voodoo-brain crap doesn’t stop.

Stay off my side.


16 Responses to “Contaminated by Irrational Fears”

  1. Mary says:

    If every pollen grain in a honey production has to be checked out, they are gonna find a whole lotta things they don’t like. Maybe they’ll find some rhododendron, which causes “mad honey” psychosis:
    “So what is mad honey? It’s just honey, but it comes from bees feeding on some very poisonous flowering plants that flourish along the Black Sea (and elsewhere), notably rhododendrons. These plants contain a class of poisons called grayanotoxins that act directly on the nervous system. The classic symptoms range from tingling and numbness, dizziness and nausea, impaired speech and a loss of balance. Some victims report a sense of being surrounded by spinning lights, others complain of a tunnel vision. “Mad-honey poisoning” can also be fatal, as the compromised nervous system starts shutting down the lungs and heart.”
    But hey, if Yurp bans these products, that’s fine. The rest of the world is moving on. And when they can’t source themselves they’ll suddenly find it’s all safe, but trade will have passed them by.

  2. ob says:

    Well, I don’t like your take on this, but I have to admit I’m not in the science on this one. But as one comment to the guardian article states: I’d like to have the choice and the European court ruling is just about this, allowing the customer to choose between products with and without gene-modified ingredients. Sorry for that. 
    Maybe I’m too gullible to bad journalism, but the pieces I read/viewed about Monsanto did give me a very bad feeling wrt the companies policies.

  3. jeffn says:

    And I read this and I just don’t understand why you think it’s a moral imperative that I unquestionably accept global warming messages from the exact same people who bring us the GMO idiocy.
    To borrow a phrase from you- Greenpeace and the political left (is that repetitive?) are certifiably “batshit crazy.” Except when discussing global warming. Therefore Rick Perry must be an idiot for doubting. Ah, but science is different- very arm’s length from the nuts – which you can plainly see in the photos of the scientists hanging out at the protest march with the nuts.

  4. Mary says:

    People interested in this topic might also want to see this paper that was announced today–click through to the 100 Important Questions paper at the bottom as well.
    Why we need plant scientists

  5. Keith Kloor says:

    Mary, thanks for the link. Good stuff!

    jeffn: you put words in my mouth. Point me to the place where I tell you to uncritically accept “global warming messages” by “the exact same people” (who ever that is)….? Are you referring to the Guardian, Greenpeace?

    Also, FWIW, I don’t think Rick Perry is an idiot. He’s just willfully spouting vapid nonsense that appeals to a rabid subset of the Republican base.

  6. Tom Gray says:

    re 5

    Keith Kloor writes

    Also, FWIW, I don’t think Rick Perry is an idiot. He’s just willfully spouting vapid nonsense that appeals to a rabid subset of the Republican base.

    Isn’t this the point that Roger Pielke Jr makes about green energy proposals and IPCC AR climate damage commentary. These are jsut “vapid nonsense” that cannot withstand analysis. yet the AGW is so politicised that these appeal to “a rabid subset of the [AGW] base”

  7. Tom Scharf says:

    And the political leanings of the vast majority of these anti-science people would be…

    …only mentioned if they were Republican, right Keith?

    FWIW, kudos to pointing this out.  It is pretty easy to flip sides with AGW and see the exact same fringe elements of each side saying almost the exact same things.

    The real battle is in the middle, and not to overstate the obvious, but being right on GMO does not make one right on AGW.

    AGW is a theory on what will potentially happen in the future which is TBD, while GMO has real data, right now.  So it is apples and oranges from this point.  The political fight with near religous fervor does apply though.


  8. Jarmo says:

    Also, FWIW, I don’t think Rick Perry is an idiot. He’s just willfully spouting vapid nonsense that appeals to a rabid subset of the Republican base.

    Considering that his first task is to win Republican nomination, it sounds like a valid policy. Especially if you consider that AGW is a marginal issue for most voters right now. 

  9. Tom Fuller says:

    Politicians and advocates for policies (not scientists) are happily engaged in replacing religious arguments with pseudo-scientific quackery as justifications for their preferred policy options.

    I believe this was predicted a century ago and that there has been a century of evidence of exactly this happening.

    We just refuse to recognize it when it happens on issues where we already have a strong opinion.

    Conservatives who hold strong beliefs about energy policy tend to make the mistake about global warming. (So do many liberals.)

    Liberals who hold strong beliefs about the environment in general make the same mistake about GMOs. (So do many conservatives.) 

    And just enough scientists have crossed the line into advocacy to make it difficult for science to stand up for itself. (I’m not saying scientists becoming advocates is necessarily wrong–just that it has been handled clumsily so far.)

    Behold the results. 

  10. Jarmo says:


    Tom, I think it’s even worse than you say.

    Take Germany’s Angela Merkel. She extended the lifetime of Germany’s nuclear reactors to 2036, citing AGW and cost reasons, reversing an earlier decision by social democrat- green coalition to shut them down by 2022. 

    After Fukushima, Merkel faced 3 state elections. First the government shut down 8 reactors, then announced that all of them will be shut down by 2020.   

    Politics, man, politics….    

  11. Stu says:

    Modern environmental concerns spout from a renewed sense of the sacredness and autonomy of Nature. The GM thing is interesting and bizarre because it’s as if humans have hussled their way into Natures central control room and are all over themselves busily pulling levers and pushing buttons. It’s an insult to anybody who thinks things should be left ‘as is’. If ideas about intelligent design are currently just an ideological refuge for the hopelessly religious in a world dominated by science, then I wonder if that’s going to remain the case for very much longer.

    Out of chance… out of science… here come the intelligent designers. 

    Kind of ironic.    

  12. harrywr2 says:

    Tom Fuller Says:
    September 8th, 2011 at 1:25 pm
    <i>Politicians and advocates for policies (not scientists) are happily engaged in replacing religious arguments with pseudo-scientific quackery as justifications for their preferred policy options.</i>
    I don’t think politicians are that stupid. Politicians will sell policies that are ‘sellable’. The first rule of politics being ‘if you don’t win, you can’t play’.  The second rule is don’t try to sell something that can’t be sold.
    In Europe the anti-GMO policy sells because it has the effect of protecting smaller farms while at the same time pleasing the ‘Greens’.
    In the US the smaller farms have tended to go ‘organic’. Rather then paint GMO crops with a ‘bad name’ we call non-GMO crops ‘organic’ and judging by the size of the ‘organic produce’ section in the supermarket they do quite well in the marketplace.
    Same policy, same result, different approaches. 

  13. Ale Gorney says:

    Keith, I will stuff your face full of GMO contaminated frankenstein food products.  Tell me how you feel after that!

  14. jeffn says:

    Kk yes I was referring to the guardian and greenpeace among others. Your willingness to bash Perry and just about anyone else who fails to bow to the climate budda sufficiently so forgive me if I assume you want acceptance of the cant

  15. EdG says:

    “The Guardian story’s bias is quite obvious, as it is frontloaded with cheerleading greens and anti-GMO voices.”

    This can be said about just about every story they print related to the environment, including the irrational fear of AGW.

  16. kdk33 says:

    it seems to me:

    The enviro-dudes are earth worshipers.  As stated above, all should be maintained in it’s natural form.  They oppose capitalilst pigs who would poison the planet in pursuit of profit.

    the CAGW crowd (and some others) are science worshipers.  Science says X anything not-X is balsphemy.  All the while acknowledging that X is imperfect and some past Xs have turned out to be wrong – we must accept that the science god sometimes changes his/her (h/t to PC) mind.  They oppose religion, the incubator of superstitous ignoramouses who believe in sky-daddys and other such fairy tails.

    The decarbonization movement is at the confluence of the earth worshipers and the science worshipers.  Together they are saving the planet.  (it’s a temporary alliance, as this thread illustrates).  Together they are battling capitalist profit seekers that go to church, ie Republicans.

    It all kinda makes sense, in a sad sorta way.

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