"GMO foods often introduce proteins not previously in the food supply into our foods. The proteins come from organisms such as bacteria that normally cannot place their genes into our food crops, yet they enter our bodies when we consume these GMO foods."Michael Specter's story in The New Yorker about Dr. Vandana Shiva's work to protect public health from the effects of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) skewed the facts and fell short of the magazine's usually high standards for fairness.
In the piece published in the August 20th issue (and in a subsequent podcast on The New Yorker's website), Specter makes it clear that he does not approach the topic simply as a journalist, but also as a strong believer in GMOs. He makes no secret of the fact that he considers opposition to GMOs to be unfounded.
But Specter makes his case by ignoring a great deal of evidence that directly contradicts his opinions. By ignoring important facts and questions - scientific, economic and legal - he allows his personal biases to undermine journalistic balance. The end product is a story that mirrors the false myths perpetuated by Monsanto Company on its website and does a true disservice to New Yorker readers.
Instead of allowing readers to weigh both sides of the argument and decide for themselves, Specter decides for them. He erases one side of the debate in order to tip the scales in favor of GMOs. Readers of his piece, "Seeds of Doubt," could easily come away with a false impression that the debate over the utility and safety of GMOs is settled. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The dangers posed by GMOs are a mainstream concern, and the debate over their safety and value to society is far from over. Specter's failure to acknowledge this undermines his argument in support of GMOs and harms The New Yorker's reputation for quality journalism.
Specter roots his critique of Dr. Shiva in easily disproven myths that are commonly repeated by the biotech industry, Monsanto Company and other GMO producers (Monsanto et al.), and their supporters.