As if to prove that aversion to food technologies is bipartisan, a segment of the Carol Alt show on the Fox News Channel ran one of the most biased, one-sided stories on biotechnology that I've seen on a major media outlet in some time. On the show, which aired yesterday (this was apparently re-aired from the initial showing a couple months ago), the host unquestioningly accepted every assertion thrown out from her guest Max Goldberg. The host never reveals that Goldberg is a major organic food advocate, a major supporter of GMO labeling, and a vocal critic of GMOs (e.g., see here, here, or here).
I think one can reasonably disagree over the topic of mandatory labeling of GMOs, but to present such a one-sided view of the science surrounding the topic is irresponsible journalism and a disservice to the audience.
A few points that should have been raised:
- Most of the studies showing aversive effects of GMOs in animal studies have been roundly criticized by reputable scientists (here is one blogger's criticism of a previously Fox News story which also failed to mention this). Here is my own critique of one such study.
- Numerous high-quality studies based on animal feeding trials show NO effect of feeding GMOs.
- Mentioning that countries around the world have GMO labeling policies is a red herring unless one also discusses how those countries enforce those policies while also mentioning that most, including the EU, has actually approved many GMO varieties for cultivation.
- Where are the mentions of all the major scientific organizations positions on safety of GMOs or their positions on GMO labeling? Say, the National Academy of Science? Or the American Medical Association? Or the World Health Organization?
- It is totally irresponsible to say that 90% of people want GMO labeling when less than half the voters in California and now Washington failed to vote in favor of GMO labeling.
- Biotechnology does NOT just mean pesticide resistance as Goldberg asserts. How about golden rice? Or high-oleic soybeans? Or bio-fortified cassava? Or non-browning apples?
Clearly, this story was anything but "fair and balanced."
John Stossel had a guest on his show on the Fox Business Network that aired some similar views as Goldgerg, but at least Stossel had me on to provide some perspective.