Acton Institute Powerblog

Video: CBS Report Makes Strong Case for GMOs

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A segment on yesterday’s CBS weekend news and entertainment program Sunday Morning informatively dealt with the controversy surrounding the use of genetically modified organisms. It’ll likely be the best 11 minutes of broadcast science journalism readers will view all week. The segment contrasts the relatively weak arguments presented by the anti-GMO crowd with the real-world benefits of GMOs for everyone, but especially those struggling from hunger in drought- or flood-ravaged areas and impoverished countries.

Two dots not connected in the otherwise outstanding piece are the misperceptions spread by the anti-GMO crowd and the negative impact that would have on companies forced to label their food products derived from GMOs. While CBS correspondent Barry Petersen reports an estimated 80 percent of food sold at U.S. supermarkets contain GMOs, he also notes 57 percent of Americans are skeptical about the safety of GMOs. Labeling safe food as containing GMOs may scare off consumers who can’t afford the higher-priced GMO alternatives.

Here’s hoping the anti-GMO shareholder activists at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and As You Sow view Petersen’s excellent report. These activists are performing more actual harm than perceived good in their crusade against feeding the world.

Bruce Edward Walker has more than 30 years’ writing and editing experience in a variety of publishing areas, including reference books, newspapers, magazines, media relations and corporate speeches. Much of this material involved research on water rights, land use, alternative-technology vehicles and other environmental issues, but Walker has also written extensively on nonscientific subjects, having produced six titles in Wiley Publishing’s CliffsNotes series, including study guides for "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest." He has also authored more than 100 critical biographies of authors and musicians for Gale Research's Contemporary Literary Criticism and Contemporary Musicians reference-book series. Most recently, he was managing editor of The Heartland Institute's InfoTech & Telecom News. Prior to that, he was manager of communications for the Mackinac Center's Property Rights Network. He also served from 2006-2007 as editor of Michigan Science, a quarterly Mackinac Center publication. Walker has served as an adjunct professor of literature and academic writing at University of Detroit Mercy. For the past three years, he has authored a weekly column for the mid-Michigan Morning Sun newspaper. Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University. He is the father of two daughters and currently lives in Midland, Mich., with his wife Katherine.


  • cindy a.

    Mr. Walker, I did not see the CBS commentary, but the comments for pro-GMO are all the same with little validity to support the position. I prefer to follow the science. The journal Lancet Oncology in March of 2015 reported that Glyphosate, the herbicide use in GMO’s was determined to be a “probable human carcinogen”. It’s bad enough that our current food supply is full of other toxic chemicals that have unequivocally been reported as one of the major causes of chronic illness and disease around the world. Following the dollar will take you to the source of why GMO’s are being promoted as safe. I also have more confidence in the free-market and consumers who readily do research to learn about how they can protect and improve their health. It’s questionable as to why the GMO camp is fighting so desperately to squelch those States who support GMO labeling. IF GMO’s are so safe, let the consumer vote with their pocket book. Supporting organic farming is also another way to feed our growing population. Mr. Joel Salatin who has lectured to ACTON audiences in the past can speak to this topic with personal experience and expertise.

    • Helync1

      I went to the Lancet Oncology March 2015 journal and there are “no results” for glyphosate in there. Would you please give an actual link? Here is a link that I found. I am trying to get info from both sides that deal with things scientifically. It is from, National Pesticide Information Center website.
      Notice that it says glyphosate has low toxicity, and notice that it says, “When high doses were administered to laboratory animals, some studies suggest that glyphosate has carcinogenic potential. Studies on cancer rates in people have provided conflicting results on whether the use of glyphosate containing products is associated with cancer. Some studies have associated glyphosate use with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.” Also, “Glyphosate exposure has been linked to developmental and reproductive effects at high doses that were administered to rats repeatedly during pregnancy.” What about humans? “.In humans, glyphosate does not easily pass through the skin. Glyphosate that is absorbed or ingested will pass through the body relatively quickly. The vast majority of glyphosate leaves the body in urine and feces without being changed into another chemical.”
      These are not from a website associated with chemical compaines. Also, take a look at the Cornell University site.
      They list it as moderately toxic because it is an eye irritant. They fed very high doses to 4 different animals and I quote, “The lifetime administration of very high amounts of glyphosate produced only a slight reduction of body weight and some microscopic liver and kidney changes. Blood chemistry, cellular components, and organ function were not affected even at the highest doses. The compound does not cause mutations in microbes. The tests on eight different kinds of bacterial strains and on yeast cells were all negative. The compound poses little mutagenic risk to humans. There is a very low potential for the compound to build up in the tissues of aquatic invertebrates or other aquatic organisms. Glyphosate has no significant potential to accumulate in animal tissue (9). Glyphosate is relatively non-toxic to honeybees. Its oral and dermal LD50 is greater than 0.1 mg/ bee (7). Glyphosate is highly adsorbed on most soils especially those with high organic content. The compound is so strongly attracted to the soil that little is expected to leach from the applied area.”
      There is more if you care to look at both sides & be factual. I am pretty sure you would do that, right?

  • Matt Blackmon

    What a shame that pro-GMO puff pieces like the one above written by someone who is clearly ignorant of the real issues facing GMO foods actually see the light of day. What the article, and the reams of both paid and unpaid GMO proponents neglect to include in their aggressive campaigns to discredit GMO opponents, is that the vast majority of GMO foods on the market today are specifically bred to either be repeatedly sprayed with a toxic cocktail of pesticides or are genetically modified to splice a bacterium gene (Bacillus thurengiensis) into all plant cells that kills insect larvae by perforating their guts. And contrary to what the pesticide industry would have us believe, no credible studies have been conducted by the FDA, USDA or independent physicians on the safety of these compounds on human health, especially on the impact that glyphosate compounds (recently labeled a probable carcinogen by the WHO) have on gut bacteria given that the pesticide disrupts the important shikimate pathway that kills not only plants but bacteria as well. And why, for an industry claims that these compounds are so harmless, have GMO proponents represented by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, spent in excess of $100 million to defeat just four GMO labeling initiatives put forward since 2012 alone? Seems like an awful lot of effort and expense to prevent something that American consumers clearly want.

  • Timothy Johnson

    Please let the consumer decide whether they want GMO products. Labeling is necessary.