Wednesday, June 4, 2014

No, Politico, criticism of Monsanto is not at all like climate change denialism

One seeks in vain for neutrality in the popular press these days. But neutrality is what science requires for considerations of its ideas and, more importantly, their implementation. Far more Republicans than Democrats are climate change deniers. Only last month, 227 of 232 House Republicans voted for an amendment that would prevent the US military from using any funds to fight the effects of global warming.

This action goes far beyond mere climate change denial. The House Republicans sought to prevent the military from taking any action that might reduce the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment. Republicans do not merely deny the possibility of man-made climate change. They seek to hasten it. They take this action despite the fact that nearly every single climate scientist on the planet urges them to do the exact opposite.

But Tara Haelle has written in Politico Magazine that it's the Democrats who have a problem with science. She is looking through her own, small lens at a minuscule part of the scientific world. Her theory is like saying that scientists have discovered a huge comet that will strike the earth within 20 years but emphasizing the discovery of a new species of marmot. One of these things is not like the other.

Haelle admits that Republicans object to evolution and climate science, but her article is almost entirely taken up with the premise that Democrats also have a "problem" with science. Haelle is not specific about what the "problem" is. In fact Democrats do not have a problem with science at all.  What they actually have is an awareness, and it is this: large corporations that profit from science frequently falsify study results and hide facts from the public.

Haelle begins her attack on liberals by citing the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) position paper on Genetically Modified Organism (GMO), a Monsanto product. The AAAS paper might have been written by the Monsanto marketing department, and perhaps it was. It states that no studies have found anything toxic about food that contains GMO. Toxicity is by no means the only issue with GMOs, however.  There is plenty wrong with the system that produces GMO and generates profits for Monsanto.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the GMO system has created weeds and insects resistant to the Monsanto weedkiller, Roundup. In addition, Monsanto focuses on only a few crops and so decreases biodiversity and discourages organic farming methods. Rather than protecting plants and farmers, Monsanto's GMO "solution" actually makes the entire environment more vulnerable to pests and disease, and creates plants that cannot survive without permanent (and expensive) chemical support.  The problem that Democrats have with GMO is not faulty science but rather that they recognize the dangers inherent in corporate farming and monoculture methods. This "problem" has nothing in common with Republican rejection of global warming science, which was generated by a multi-million dollar campaign financed by corporations that profit by producing greenhouse gases, including Exxon/Mobil and Koch Industries.

Haelle has not thoroughly investigated her topic. Instead, she has added to the false equivalency between Republican obstructionism and Democratic skepticism. We all need to get on the same page with the issue of greenhouse gas production. The reduction and reversal of global warming will require an effort similar to that of the New Deal, where all the resources of the nation will be dedicated to preserving the planet.

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