Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Dubiology: Ron Lindsay

by Gary Niederhoff on November 28, 2011

Part 3 of Skeptic Check: Dubiology, featuring Ron Lindsay, President of the Center for Inquiry, headquartered in Amherst, NY, on GMOs and food safety.
(TRT 8:40)

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar DIederick December 1, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I was highly disappointed when hearing this discussion. Opponents of artificial gene modification were described as ignorant fools, while half their arguments were left out.

What, for instance, about patents? Suddenly food itself is patentable, leaving rich corporations in control of the world’s food supply. Farmers in Central America find that their own crop is overgrown by sturdier crop with artificially modified genes, after which they are sued for patent infringement. The result is that they can no longer legally grow food for their own consumption and markets.

This is not a controversial argument. I wonder why you ignored it.

avatar alison December 4, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I was already impressed by the skills Ron Lindsay has to ignore any subtlety in the arguments against GMO foods, but some people, insecure about the strength of their arguments, like to rely on dismissing straw dolls instead of actually addressing legitimate questions.

However, to characterize the reasons for eating organic food in with an explanation that “some people think natural is better” is absurd. There are certainly people in the world who have this ignorant reasoning. However, there are hundreds of incredibly obvious scientific reasons to support organic farming.

Modern-day industrial farming is indisputably bad for nutrient levels and retention of topsoil, pollutes fresh and ocean water with excessive nitrates which cause algal blooms, has sped up pests’ development of resistance to pesticides to the point where each new type is often only effective for one season, and exposes fieldworkers to pesticides that have been banned in the US for being proven carcinogenic. Are these not legitimate, scientifically-based facts?

Furthermore, there are several studies which show the nutrient levels of vegetables grown conventionally are far below those of vegetables grown organically. That conclusion may not have been proven yet, but it is a legitimate, scientifically-based contention.

I could name hundreds more reasons, but I’ve got better things to do. I’m offended because you dismissed all arguments for my side of the story, but I’m more offended that in the pursuit of defending the importance of science, you’ve left out all of the complexity that makes science great. And all of the lively debate that makes science interesting. How is this beneficial?

You guys are doing a great job at being knee-jerk defenders of the ‘conventional wisdom’ without questioning it. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to do a “skeptic” show that isn’t skeptical of its information sources. That’s LOUSY scientific method if I’ve ever heard it.

alison miner.

avatar Molly Bentley December 7, 2011 at 10:47 am

To all our listeners who were disappointed with the Big Picture interview on GM foods. Thank you for writing.

Your points are excellent and we agree that we did not
present the complexity of the issue of GM foods as
well as we could – the introduction in the script
aimed to give a sense of the issues involved.

Our falling short has to do with the mundane limits
of time, deadlines and other pressures in the world of
science journalism. But the reasons aren’t important.

You are correct that there is much more to the GM issue,
and our staff has already discussed doing a Big Picture Science show that examines it more thoroughly in the coming months.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

Molly Bentley

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