Tuesday, November 4, 2014

3 Ways the Media Protects GMOs

Cornucopia | Nov 3, 2014 | Julia Westbrook

Source: Johannes Jansson
How “fair and balanced” journalism drops the ball on GMO coverage.

As the political, economic, and environmental debates over GMOs continue, it’s easy to forget that there’s another key player: the media. From the Today show to The New York Times, including Rodale News, media outlets play a critical role in bringing you facts to help you make decisions on key issues.

Unfortunately, despite the best journalistic intentions, the media has been guilty of helping (intentionally or not) the GMO movement. Rodale News has always been up front about its anti-GMO position, given our deep roots in organic farming, so we’re looking at the three ways the mainstream media is failing to bring you accurate coverage of important organic and GMO issues.

#1. Pulling Ad Dollars for Organic Products

Most media outlets run on advertising, so refusing an ad must mean that the product stands at odds with the publication. That’s why we were shocked to learn that renowned science journals Science and Nature refused to run this ad from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps (See ad here), as reported by Mother Jones.

Bronner’s short essay gives an under-heard, anti-GMO perspective, one that sheds light on new anti-GMO research that might otherwise be hushed. Mother Jones reported that the reason Science refused the ad was that the organization is “concerned about backlash from our members and potentially getting into a battle with the GMO industry.”

Laurie Faraday, the East regional ad-sales manager for Science, also told Mother Jones, “Ironically, it’s not that anyone in the organization disagreed with what it [the ad] said. It’s just that we had to consider that the opposite side of the coin might want to start a war in our magazine.”

(This comes at the same time the Environmental Protection Agency approved a new generation of dangerous GMOs.)

The issue with this is twofold: First, while we respect that the publication doesn’t want to appear to pick a side to maintain impartiality, not running the ad could be interpreted as an attempt to hush up the anti-GMO perspective (even though Faraday says that that is not the case). Also, consider that Scientific American, The New YorkerHarper’sThe Nation, and Harvard ran the ad.

Second, it sets a precedent of denying environmentally minded companies like Dr. Bronner’s of advertising, potentially disrupting revenue plans. We believe in supporting brands that put in the effort to create safe, sustainable products.

#2. Discrediting (or Attempting to Discredit) Anti-GMO Experts

Maybe we can give Science and Nature the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the journals just didn’t want to rock the boat. But that explanation doesn’t stand up when you consider articles that attempt to discredit activists working against GMOs. Consider Michael Specter’s article for The New Yorker titled “Seeds of Doubt” (which was the article that actually inspired the Dr. Bronner’s ad), in which he covers anti-GMO activist, Vandana Shiva, PhD. In the article, he denounces her saying that she lacks scientific evidence, that she’s guilty of “confusing correlation with causation” when it comes to the effects of GMOs, and that she has been fear-mongering.

Here is her rebuttal.

#3. Not Considering GMOs “News”

We would love to see The New Yorker (or any media outlet) give the same 8,000 words to covering GMO legislation in Congress, but so often, GMOs take a back seat. While there are daily articles about terrorism, sports, ebola, political scandal, celebrity gossip, and disease, GMO issues rarely land in the lead-story spot, despite that fact that most Americans are eating “extreme” levels of this GMO herbicide.

Maria Rodale, CEO and Chairman of Rodale Inc. and author of Organic Manifesto, recognizes that these types of stories are so often overlooked. “In the process of writing and researching my book, I found that there are clear and conclusive scientific data that support my hypothesis that organic agriculture is the key to our survival,” she says. “[But they] are buried deeply within the databases of government agencies, too complicated to be reported by the mainstream media, and subjected to downright suppression at some universities.”

That’s why, in line with our commitment to an organic future, we continue to cover GMO current events as they unfold.

Source: Rodale News

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