So far, GMO supporters have managed to frame the GMO labeling controversy as a battle between pro-science and anti-science, and by and large they've been able to get away with it. That’s been a key factor in the battles over labeling laws, most of which the anti-GMO side has lost. Undecided voters may be unsure of science or even vaguely afraid of it, but they respect it and don’t want to be on the wrong side of it.
The only thing that will change this is showing them that scientific opinion is turning against GMOs and that all the dangers that have been pooh-poohed by GMO advocates are turning out to be real. And now, thanks to two ground-breaking announcements that have come just in the last week or two, it’s possible to build a coherent argument that the GMO advocates won’t be able to answer. The first is the decision by a WHO panel of experts that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic”. The second, and to my mind the more important, is the Endocrine Society’s statement that glyphosate is an endocrine-disrupting chemical, capable of causing far-reaching and long-lasting damage to hormones essential for health. These findings should be spread as far and as wide as possible, especially in areas where labeling laws and other restrictions on GMOs/pesticides are being proposed and have not yet been defeated. The argument goes along these lines:
- The plants used in many GMO foods are RoundUp-resistant, and therefore have been sprayed with, and absorbed, glyphosate, a herbicide in the next-to-worst category of toxic substances by EPA standards.
- Yet GMO advocates tell us that scientists (with few or no exceptions) agree that this process is perfectly safe. But that’s no longer true—if it ever was.
- The Endocrine Society, a hundred-year-old organization of scientists with 17,000 members, has just issued a statement naming glyphosate as an endocrine-disrupting chemical—that is, a substance that can cause far-reaching and permanent damage to the production of hormones vital for human health.
- Consequently, government has both a duty and a responsibility to provide consumers with the power to decide whether or not they will buy food that might do them serious harm.
Will this argument work? Since posting this I've been testing it on the Biofortified blog, one of the top pro-GMO blogs--the post in question is "Should science be a democracy?" So far there's been no attempt to answer it. Maybe they can’t answer it. Maybe they daren’t admit, even to themselves, that they’re losing the “We’re the pro-science side” argument. Follow it, it's fun.