Acton Institute Powerblog

Anti-GMO Activists: ‘Heartless, Callous and Cruel’

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

Free weekly Acton Newsletter

Former Indiana Governor and current Purdue University President Mitch Daniels
Former Indiana Governor and current Purdue University President Mitch Daniels
If it seems your writer is obsessing over genetically modified organisms in this space, it’s only because the progressive side of the equation won’t let it go. Team Anti-GMO includes the radicalized religious shareholder activists of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and As You Sow. Whether it’s misrepresenting the science or ignoring it completely, these groups celebrate every GMO labeling initiative and perform handstands every time a corporation commits to producing organic products.

Even more distressing than cherry-picking science to support incorrect conclusions is Team Anti-GMO’s failure to address the morality of their campaigns against disease-, pesticide- and drought-resistant foods. In fact, it’s amazingly distressing that nuns, priests, clergy and other religious affiliated with ICCR and AYS would circle their wagons around an initiative so deleterious to efforts to alleviate world hunger.

So imagine the delight conjured by the Feb. 25 remarks made by Purdue University President Mitch Daniels at the Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Va. The former Indiana governor succinctly makes the case for GMOs, which was excerpted last weekend in The Wall Street Journal:

[Y]ou should all remember that two or three decades ago we were all told that we would have starved by now. That the world was going to run out of food, there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it.
Everyone in this room knows that instead, the intervening decades have seen the greatest upward surge for the good of humanity in the history of the planet Earth. That the combination of greater freedom in important countries and technology has brought down the number of undernourished—our undernourished brothers and sisters—by hundreds of millions, even as population grew by billions….

What is troubling me, and I hope troubles you, is that there is a shockingly broad, and so far shockingly successful, movement that threatens this important ascent of humankind out of the condition that has plagued us since we first walked upright: of having enough food to meet the most basic, the most elementary need of any living species. That threatens our ascent by choking off the very technologies that could make that next great triumph possible.

Gov. Daniels doesn’t name names, but the guilty abound in the crusade against GMOs. In fact the network of Team Anti-GMO winds its way through the progressive universe. For example, AYS is a member of Green America, an outspoken opponent of GMOs.

While eschewing finger-pointing at specific targets, Daniels does offer several recommendations for counteracting Team Anti-GMO’s efforts:

I suggest to you that you have a positive duty to do things that probably do not come naturally, to contest and refute junk science and false claims against the technologies that offer so much promise to the world. And not solely on the polite objective grounds that come most naturally to folks in the pursuits represented here, to people who work in the regulation of agriculture and its products, to those who study academically these subjects and work on the new technologies and the policies around them, or to the businesses that produce these products as the technologies become available.

We are used to and only comfortable with polite and civil dialogue: PowerPoints, facts, data at meetings where people have agreed, at least tacitly, to follow the facts where they lead. That is not this argument. We are dealing here, yes, with the most blatant anti-science of the age. But it is worse than that. It is inhumane and it must be countered on that basis. Those who would deny with zero scientific validity the fruits of modern agricultural research to starving or undernourished people—or those who will be, absent great progress—need to be addressed for what they are, which is callous, which is heartless, which is cruel.

Gov. Daniels then delivers the coup de grace:

Marie Antoinette may have at least had the excuse of naïveté and ignorance. That excuse cannot be made for the people who are attacking GMOs and other technologies like that today. You know, when starvation was imposed knowingly, in cases and instances we can all think of from the past, we knew what to call it. And I can’t for the life of me see a moral distinction between those instances and these.

No, folks who have taken that point of view have got to be called to account. How can you say to the hungry of this earth—how can you say to those who don’t enjoy the luxury that we all do and that the developed world in general does, how can you tell those folks, ‘Sorry about your luck.’ You know this is an indulgence of the rich and it is not just scientifically indefensible, it is morally indefensible. And as much as we would like not to have to engage in arguments like that, somebody better.

Just so. Gov. Daniels’ call to action couldn’t be more timely – or spot-on.

Enjoy the article?

Click below to view our latest and most popular posts!

Read More

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.

Comments