Saturday, July 25, 2015

House passes "DARK" Bill

Although I don't write about it nearly so much anymore, I've watched a LOT of pseudo-science in my day. While much of the most pernicious comes from the right wing, the left has its own variety often centered around the naturalistic fallacy. That is to say, "if it's 'natural' it must be healthy and if it's not, it must be un-healthy".

This has expressed itself most notably as the anti-vaccine movement, but more recently as the anti-GMO movement. When I first heard about this, 3-4 years ago, it seemed quite plausible to me. Companies have a long history of putting profits before people when it comes to safety. So could we really trust the safety of genetically modified foods?

But very quickly, I started reading up on the claims of those that opposed GM foods. The arguments simply fell apart. Shoddy science with poorly designed experiments and weak data. Logical fallacies. Fake experts. Massive collusion and conspiracy necessary to pull it off... It was no different than any other pseudoscience.

Which is why I have to say I fully support the ominously nicknamed "Deny Americans the Right to Know" or DARK bill that passed the house recently which, if it passed the Senate (unlikely), would prevent states from requiring labeling of GM foods.

While advocates say this would allow consumers to know what they are consuming, this isn't true at all. Saying something was genetically modified gives absolutely NO useful information because the term is uselessly vague. It is as informationally useful as saying your food contained yellow. Not yellow 5 dye which has been much maligned. Just something yellow. GM crops are so diverse that painting with such a broad brush says nothing worthwhile.


There is one thing that labeling would do.

Imply that the foods are dangerous and in need of a warning label.

Which seems all too familiar. It's the tactic the Creationists tried to use in Cobb County Georgia in 2001 where they deemed Evolution too flawed to teach without putting a warning label in textbooks stating that evolution is JUST a theory. It was true, but presented out of context gave no useful information and the only thing it did was attempt to spread fear through sleight of word. This tactic didn't work in Cobb County. It shouldn't work anywhere else.

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