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GMOs/Vaccines, Good! Conspiracy Theories, Bad!

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Conspiracy? Beliefs in Big Foot or that NASA faked the moon landing seem relatively innocuous, but ignorance should never be celebrated. At best, ridiculous theories waste time, at worst, they create egregious social disruption. These include claims that the U.S. government instigated the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, that the Israeli Mossad created Daesh, or that Jews caused 9/11. From The Guardian:

“…that 4,000 notified-by-Israel Jews didn’t turn up for work in the World Trade Center on 9/11 (a fallacy: 9.25% of people who died in the Twin Towers were Jewish, roughly the Jewish population of New York City) are, for many people, facts.”

Harmful ideas derive from good intent, positions against vaccinations an example. At The Daily Beast:

“Anti-vaxxers failing to vaccinate their kids is having a catastrophic effect on the herd immunity everyone relies on to keep preventable illness at bay.”

Bad ideas magnify. In Pakistan and Afghanistan paranoia partners with evil. The Wall Street Journal:

“The Afghan Taliban announced Monday a ban on polio vaccinations in a southern Afghan province.”

And Al Jazeera:

“The (vaccination) campaign faces…threats against polio vaccination teams issued by armed religious groups such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its allies. Such groups allege the vaccine is part of a plot to sterilise or infect children.”

The result? Murder:  National Geographic: “During the past two years, Taliban militants have killed 63 health workers and members of the security forces assigned to protect them.”

In the West anti-vaxxers aren’t the Taliban, but they share a common thread of ignorance. Now, responsible media counters with information, and most anti-vaxxers earn ridicule. Laws mandating vaccinations to attend public school, see California, are being implemented and popular. This trend, hopefully, will continue. A similar dynamic exists in the GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) debate.

GMOs:  Like anti-vaxxers, anti-GMOers distrust corporations. Their argument selects facts. For example, how big agriculture exploits, Monsanto the main culprit. But the conclusions suffer from dyslexia. Separate the excess of Monsanto from the science. Regulations must regard evidence that shows that GMOs create healthier and more abundant food. PhD Neil deGrasse Tyson offers this:

(GMOs) wield an awesome power to improve food in every way that matters to humans: yields, appearance, vitamin content, sweetness, resistance to insects, resistance to weather extremes, and so forth.”

Forbes dissects the paranoia: “’Monsanto teams up with Congress to shred the Constitution,’ shrieked one Huffington Post headline.”

1101000731_400GMOs, properly implemented, benefit humanity. After a year of investigative journalism William Saletan, at Slate, shows how “Golden Rice,” a crop that provides beta-carotene for Vitamin A deficient children in the developing world, has saved thousands of lives.

Conspiracies that blame Jews for every evil, or that suggest the U.S. government seeks to take its citizens’ weapons using a plot that involves massacring school children, should invite scorn. Misinterpretations of facts that counter developing technology and science should receive the same. In the future anti-GMOers will look as foolish as Jenny McCarthy and the anti-Vaxxers look today. If we regulate GMOs, we should focus on the science. Anti-GMO conspiracy theories must not influence politics. Let’s use this technology for the good.

Written by Caleb Powell

August 20, 2015 at 6:52 am

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