I Don’t Know How To Convince You That GMOs Are Good

What would it actually take to prove to you that you’re wrong, that genetic modification is no more dangerous or harmful than any other kind of human agriculture?

On the heels of yet another study demonstrating that GMOs aren’t harmful and are in fact Very Good Things, I feel as though I need, once again, to address the 1-in-5 Americans that think the risks of eating GM foods are “high.”

What would it take? I’m asking you.

What would it actually take to prove to you that you’re wrong, that genetic modification is no more dangerous or harmful than any other kind of human agriculture? To prove to you that it is uniformly better in most cases? I can’t think of all the things I’ve tried to say.

They’re better for the environment. They increase the food supply using less land and often less water than traditional (and organic!) crops.

They use fewer and less harmful pesiticides than traditional (and “organic!”) agriculture.  Roundup (i.e. glyphosate) is safer and a better alternative to the other necessary pesticides.

They’re safer for humans because we know exactly what genes are changing, unlike the results of selective breeding which captures tens of thousands of unnecessary (and unstudied!) genetic changes. Unlike shooting your oranges with ionizing radiation so they won’t have seeds next time.

They’re healthier for humans. There’s rice that introduces vitamin A into the diets of malnourished children. There’s corn that contains less mycotoxin because it’s healthier. There’s potatoes that produce less cancer-causing agents when fried.

They’re not bad for farmers. Thy aren’t the only crops that are patented. The story about farmers being sued for seeds blowing into neighbouring fields is a complete fabrication. Nobody in India is comitting suicide over GMOs. Most farmers buy new seeds each year from other farmers who specifically grow seeds because it’s more efficient than trying to grow your own, so nobody even cares if they don’t grow well the next year from seed because that’s not what modern farmers even do.

They save taxpayers money. When farmers make more money—and they do with GMOs, because they can get the same or bigger yields with less investment of time and money in combating problems—they need fewer subsidies.

THERE IS NO FISHMATO. There was an attempt to make tomatoes frost-resistant that failed and it never went to market. There are zero GM tomatoes on the market and the only one there ever was failed commercially because of economics, not safety.

There is literally no argument against GMOs that holds even the tiniest bit of water, and all it takes to learn this is the tiniest bit of Google-fu and the ability to give just the most microscopic bit of credit to the group of people who’s only job is to study these things for a living—you remember them, right? Scientists?

And that’s really the problem, isn’t it?

You’ve lost the ability to trust in expertise.

You’d rather have your conspiracy theories about “Big Agro” and “Monsanto Shills” than a healthy stable food supply―so long as you get yours, that is.

Well right now there are Seven Point Six Billion Human Beings on this one exceptionally-taxed planet and that number’s not shrinking anytime soon. And we’re already using all the land we can. So you’d better suck it up and start trusting in science and scientists again soon otherwise the next time there’s a famine somewhere you’ll either A) be partly to blame, because your fear of expertise—that’s what that is, by the way, you’re afraid of people who know more about something than you, long and short of it—is doing things like leading your elected representatives to Ban GMOs in Europe For No Good Reason or B) be one of the starving multitudes yourself.

I don’t know how to convince you that GMOs are good, because I don’t know how to convince you to trust in expertise again.

But I sure as hell hope you suck it up and figure it out yourself, because we’ll all be in a heap of trouble if you don’t.

Signed: The Remixologist

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Photo source: David Kessler, CC BY-SA 2.0

 

 

 

 

The ‘American Dream’ Is Trash

There’s something deeply wrong with the idea of the “American Dream.” It was supposed to be the embodiment of hope, but instead it’s spawned real-life bigotries.

 

Everyone loves Oprah Winfrey. She’s an incredible human being in many respects. She was born into potato-sack-dress poverty to an unmarried teenaged mother. She worked hard in high school, learned how to give speeches and won a contest at the national level and got a full scholarship to a university. She got a job in local television, and through sheer personality, intelligence, and business acumen got her own show—and later her own whole entire media empire. She has a net worth of nearly three billion dollars. Literal rags to literal riches.

That’s the story of the “American Dream”: that someone can go from the worst poverty to the most astonishing economic success through hard work and sheer force of will. “Only in America,” they used to say.

Except that it’s never just hard work and willpower, is it?

Winfrey benefitted from a lot of factors, and not all of them innate. As a teen, she was identified by a federally-funded program called Upward Bound that moved her to a more affluent high school where, yes, she was made fun of for being poor, but where she also had the opportunity to learn to give the speeches and enter the competitions that would lead to her getting a full-boat ride to college. And she had a whole lot of luck.

None of this is to discount how amazing Oprah is. She’s a force of nature, and she’s worked harder for her money than I’ll probably ever work at anything in my entire life.

But because one person does a thing does not mean it is possible for everyone, or a reasonable thing to except from any more than that one specific unique person.

This is the problem with the American Dream. I call it Bootstrap Logic. Here’s how it goes:

  1. The American Dream is open to all.
  2. The American Dream is acheived through hard work.
  3. If you don’t achieve the American Dream, you didn’t work hard enough.

By this twisted logic, poverty becomes a symbol of laziness, and wealth a symbol of moral rectitude and personal effort. There’s no room in this equation for federal aid, no admission of the power of luck, no understanding of just how unique every single intensely rare rags-to-riches story is.

And certainly no admission of the ways systemic issues like racism and poverty contribute to the marginalization of whole groups of people in America.

The American Dream is about “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps,” doing everything on your own, because you, the individual, are solely responsible for your success in life. And if you don’t achieve success, well, that’s your fault.

But here’s the thing about that line about bootstraps.

Try sitting down.

Now pull on your bootstraps.

Are you standing yet?

No of course you’re not, because it is a literal impossibility to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps. That’s what the saying means. You cannot pull yourself up by things attached to your feet.

Look, I’m not saying social mobility is impossible (though it’s getting harder) or that people can’t get anywhere through hard work (some can). But this “American Dream,” this idea of the “self-made” success story, this linking of “hard work” to social mobility, is bad and wrong and should be thrown on the trash heap of history.

By equating wealth with effort it makes failure immoral, and makes those who don’t achieve the heights of success de facto worthy of the aid of no-one and the scorn of all.

The “American Dream” is a mythology constructed to make the rich feel satisfied that they earned it, and to assuage any guilt they have for not helping the poor.

The “American Dream” is a lie created to convince the poor that if they don’t become rich that it’s somehow their own fault.

The “American Dream” is complete and utter trash.

Signed: The Remixologist.

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Photo source: Michiel Jelijis, CC BY 2.0

A New Beginning

Dear Readers,

If you’re here, it’s because you decided to give us a chance on our new project. Thanks for that. This Week In Tomorrow was, after nearly four and a half years, getting to be a little stuck in its ways, and it didn’t afford us much ability to change and adapt to the world and to ourselves.

We’ll still be posting about a lot of the same content—especially Elle: her Feminist Friday and Ellements of Film posts will definitely be continuing.

What you’ll see less of is the Sunday news roundup. Last week’s was, unfortunately, the last. When we started This Week, a basic roundup of the latest cool science and technology news wasn’t so easy to find. These days, they’re a dime a dozen. So instead you’ll be getting less summary and more opinion, less technology and more social commentary.

And I’ll probably talk more about things that interest me—autism, cryptocurrencies, rockets, anime, economics, politics, anything. Whatever crosses my mind that week.

This Week In Tomorrow won’t be coming down, at least, not soon. But there won’t be any new content there. Its time has come. We hope you’ll continue to follow us Into the Void.

Sincerely,

Richard and Elle.