Having been a vegan food activist in the past has given me insight from countering perspectives. I feel a sense of urgency and injustice with the GMO issue, obviously. I’m not the only one who feels this, by far. Early in 2015 I teamed up with my buddies Karl Haro von Mogel and Kavin Senapathy. We hatched a plan to counter this year’s anti-GMO march in Chicago. It was dubbed, the “March Against Myths (About Modification)“, #MAMyths for short. Anti-GMO aren’t bad people, they’re just victims of pervasive myths spun by a few crafty manipulators.
Taking to the street, especially to counter a protest isn’t the (albeit valuable) armchair activism most of us tend to do. But the tide is turning on junk science with more and more people finally pushing back. Enough is enough! The response and support we’ve received in kicking off this effort certainly surprised me. Science defenders in cities across the world rose up to start their own chapters. We found ourselves inundated with a movement I didn’t expect to spark. Sometimes though the chapter is just one lonely person. But they’re willing to get out there for a just cause and that bravery is so very inspiring!
For me, countering anti-GMO goes beyond just being correct, but being right. The narrative guise of Evil BigCorp to demonize GMO isn’t cute anymore, it’s deadly. The precautionary approach to new technology is most championed by those who need it least. I think it’s a moral imperative to judiciously implement beneficial new technology as a soon as possible. It’s immoral to stifle such efforts otherwise. With recombinant DNA technology, there is no question as to it’s safety. All efforts to obfuscate the issue (tobacco science anyone?) with fear, uncertainly and doubt should be called out for what they are.
But what’s in a march? Why take the streets? Getting out, being disruptive is part of the toolbox as an activist. Nonviolent direct action is a way for the disenfranchised to collectively rise up. Together they get their voices heard against injustice and oppression. It’s often a loud noisy affair that often annoys and disrupts but makes a point with a show of solidarity. I think it often gets characterized as something a certain type of personality does or a worthless ploy of emotion. That’s a hasty, unfair judgement as there’s precedent in gains for social justice movements.
Is the GMO issue worthy of such a tactic? For the anti-GMO protestors, they think it is. They have a dystopian view projected through a distorted lens. Big corporations of suits are driving society into the ground for greed and unleashing a gene-y (see what I did thar?!) that will end up destroying all life as we know it. Scary stuff, I would march too if I thought that! So are they at fault? Are they to blame or worthy of ridicule? I think not, in fact I congratulate them for rising up!
What about pro-GMO? How can we be so presumptuous to appropriate a tool of social justice. Clearly the dry issue of science and technology hardly warrants any cries of protest. What do we have to be provoked about except somebody is wrong on the internet? As I alluded earlier, there are parts to the story few are keeping tabs on. Even fewer unlikely to trumpet them as loud and long as anti-GMO tends to persists in their myths. And it’s these things that are unjust, it’s these things that are worthy of indignation and action:
•Targeting scientists, journalists and advocates as “Monsanto Collaborators” with veiled death threats.
•Targeting science advocates with FOIA requests to create a chilling effect.
•Hindering solutions for micronutrient malnutrition or global food security putting millions of lives at risk.
•Ableist fear mongering.
•Torturing animals, parading those images of their victimized broken bodies and insisting on more testing.
•Terrorizing labs with acts of vandalism when scientists do research even when they desperately plead activists not to.1
•Stifling progress in:
–GMO 2.0 crops 2
-Solutions for disease-carrying Mosquitos.
-Animal product alternatives 3
-Novel factories and delivery methods for medicines4
And I can go on all day but gosh ya know, I don’t have time. I have protest signs to paint and a bullhorn to charge up.
My citation list may be light but will come back to fill out later.
- GM wheat trial at Rothamsted vandalised ↩
- Maize that resists drought, Bt Brinjal, virus resistant black beans, non-browning apples and potatoes, purple anthocyanin tomato, Lower Glycemic wheat, Late-Bright resistant potatoes, Edible cottonseed, Fertilizer efficient crops, Bananas that resist bacterial wilt, citrus greening resistance, disease resistant strawberries, high-linoleic canola oil, restoring the American chestnut, tearless onions, eliminating allergens, plant-based medicines (vaccines), biofortified foods. ↩
- Omega-3 fatty acids from plants, vegan cheese from yeast ↩
- tobacco plants and vaccines ↩