There is a disturbing double standard in agriculture between farmers and ranchers that embrace the science behind genetically modified crops but reject the science behind human-induced climate change.
I’m no scientist, so I need to rely on their work to inform my opinions. When they form a consensus around the safety of eating GMO crops or the threat of climate change, I listen.
But things aren’t that cut and dried in conventional agriculture. Agriculture lobbyists* and their messengers take to blogs and the airwaves often, banging the drum on the science behind the safety of eating GMO crops while often denying the science behind human-caused climate change.
For example, here’s the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Executive Director of Communications in May talking about GMO ballot initiatives:
The initiatives are costly; trying to get in there and speak up with the best science that we know says that all this technology is safe.
And here he is in August of 2013 talking to Scientific American’s David Biello:
We’re not convinced that the climate change we’re seeing is anthropogenic in origin. We don’t think the science is there to show that in a convincing way.
See if all farm leaders admitted that climate change was happening and we were causing it, they would have to act. They would have to cut their own emissions and radically change practices on many operations or face regulation. There would be more pressure to reduce meat consumption and the cultivation of feed grains.
In short it means drastic change.
So for these folks that willfully communicate that the scientific consensus behind climate change is a hoax while championing the scientific evidence behind genetically modified foods, I’m starting a new series called Loos Science Tales. (Discover blogger Keith Kloor has carved out similar territory castigating environmentalists that question the safety of GMOs so I guess this could also be called the Kloor Corollary.)
First up, the series’ namesake, Trent Loos. Trent Loos is a radio host and agriculture personality whose show is on over 100 stations and boasts 3 million listeners on-air and online. He’s active on social media. And Mr. Loos writes a column for the High Plains Journal. Here’s a bit of his bio:
Trent is a sixth generation United States farmer with a passion for agriculture that started years ago – he had his first pig when he was just 5 years old on the family farm near Quincy, IL. He established his strong rural foundation in farming side-by-side with his father and grandfather. That strong connection between man and his God-given natural resources was the source for all of their farm management decisions.
When anti-agricultural activists threatened the way of life he cherished, it was time to take a stand. Consumers, even individuals in other aspects of agriculture, were listening to and believing the lies being spread by celebrities and vegan zealots. Somebody needed to speak on behalf of the hard-working farmers and ranchers of America. Trent accepted the challenge.
Trent Loos is also what’s is so terribly wrong with the industrial ag message machine when it comes to science and the massive threat climate change poses to our food system.
Here he is on February 19th, 2013 talking about GMOs in an interview with Tri-States public radio:
He [Loos] said that he supports technologies like genetically modified crops and the wide spread use of growth hormones and antibiotics. He calls these practices safe and necessary to feed a population that’s growing rapidly and by many estimates will reach 9 billion people by 2050.
He considers the distrust and opposition to these practices a matter of people lacking education and understanding of the topics.
“I don’t believe any of it is valid scientific concerns, I believe it is the emotion of the day,” Loos said.
And here Mr. Loos is in September of 2013 commenting in the High Plains Journal on assertions made by prominent GMO skeptic Dr. Don Huber.
Huber makes outrageous allegations and does not provide one scientific, peer-reviewed piece of literature to back up any of his claims.
Way to call out the emotion-choked hippies who don’t trust proven science on GMOs. What about the scientific consensus behind human-induced climate change?
“I still stand by my statement that climate change is the largest man-made hoax the world has ever seen.” High Plains Journal, November 11, 2013
“Looking at formation of these Rocky Mountains thinking man creates climate change my ass.” Loostales Blog July 15, 2014
So here is a man with a powerful microphone. He communicates regularly to a large group of farmers. In one breath Loos chastises anti-GMO activists for “emotion” and in the next breath calls climate change a hoax using large rocks he sees out his windshield as evidence.
The next time Trent Loos wants to lecture anyone on science, the response should be “my ass.”
Here’s an added bonus for the inaugural Loos Science Tales. Behold the dumpster full of manure Missouri Farm Bureau president Blake Hurst (we’re old pals) poured onto the American Enterprise Institute’s blog on September 24th:
It’s perhaps too easy to laugh off the whole GMO issue: the opponents so over the top, the proponents, including Monsanto, so earnest and ineffective. Because the scientific evidence is so overwhelmingly in favor of GMO safety, many mainstream scientists have essentially checked out of the debate, disgusted by the tactics of GMO opponents.
There are people who believe in horoscopes, people who believe spaceships come here; that is not problematic. But it becomes problematic if it becomes a power structure that destroys our society — because that is really what’s going on. If you cannot use science anymore because of these crazy beliefs, then there is a problem; I would even say there is a war going on that is much more serious than we were thinking before.
And the kicker:
The debate over GMOs is often compared to the controversy over global warming, but I don’t think the analogy holds. Although most climate scientists agree that man has caused global warming, there are academics who specialize in climate science who disagree, at least in part, with their peers.
97% of climate scientists agree Mr. Hurst. Not “most” vs. “some” but 97%. Hurst cites John Entine of the Genetic Literacy Project, who points to GMO safety endorsements by the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Both those organizations also are certain humans are causing climate change.
*There are some farm organization that are doing their best to address climate change, chief among them the National Famer’s Union.
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