The Politics of GM Foods in the Scientific Community

Thursday, 21 November 2013

How refreshing to read the piece in New Matilda by Katherine Wilson about the politics of the GM food debate.  Science is like any other discipline - it has its hierarchy, its fads, its fashions, its powerful.  And by its nature, and the fact that it sits at the top of the cultural knowledge tree, it also has its inevitable blind spots.  Science is also greatly dependent upon funding for people to be able to practice.

It's not surprising that the side which holds all of the cash is the side which also funds GM foods.  And so it's therefore also not surprising (but awfully sad) to find enshrined within the scientific community the notion that GM foods are perfectly fine, and that any thoughts otherwise are automatically labelled as pseudoscience and junk science, even though the jury is still absolutely and totally out when it comes to the safety of GM foods.

See, even in science you cannot escape the tendencies towards skewing the interpretation of the evidence based on prior belief, or fear .  Although scientists by the nature of their discipline would be much more aware of this than people in some other disciplines, it still happens.  And unfortunately, you will find a plethora of people who are willing, in the name of defending their own position, to label and try to discredit those who take an opposing view with the eternally shaming "unscientific" or "pseudoscientific".  When sometimes it is nothing of the sort.

Silencing by shaming demonstrates more about the anxiety levels of the shamers than anything else. 

My hope for the future of science, as in every other discipline, is that scientists will be freer to practice what they do best without the threat of monetary lack and peer disapproval breathing down their necks and muddying the waters.  It's the same hope I hold for the rest of us.  Greater freedom to explore what is already here, both within ourselves and within the world, without interference from those elements in our culture which the status quo currently serves best.  Here's to that.


  1. Looking at the relationship between the level of funding and the reliability of results, I would hazard the assertion that the best science requires no funding whatsoever. Einstein said something to the effect that his best work was done without any conscious thought. Indeed, I'd say that conscious thought is actually the enemy of true discovery, because it brings an agenda to the table. Truth prevails when agendas dissolve.

  2. I so agree that the best science requires no funding whatsoever! Einstein had the intelligence to know when to lay a certain facet of his intelligence aside. He sorta knew how to be the wave and the ocean, huh :)

  3. I'd say the best 'research' occurs without even the aid of intellect, Sue. It's how paradigms get shifted:)


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