The Hate for GMO – The Right Engle

gmo foods

Why all the hate for genetically modified (GMO) foods?
It seems like one thing granola-munching hippies and buck-hunting far-righters agree on is that GMOs are somehow dangerous and that everyone should go organic.

The reasons for their evil (corporate greed, big government conspiracy, junk science) are varied – and all deeply flawed.

Celebrities and public figures of various stripes have spent years painting horror stories about the impacts of eating GMO, yet the simple fact is that there is no material benefit from organic food compared to GMO foods, and GMO foods have no negative health consequences.

Yet, to date there has only ever been one significant study into the effects of GMO foods that showed negative outcomes, and that particular study was subsequently discredited. The journal that published the piece even had to retract the piece when they realized how deeply flawed the research process had been.

Ironically, the pseudo-scientific hysteria surrounding organic and non-GMO products has created a whole industry that has grown in recent years into big business, peddling all manner of different designations and certifications to prove that there is definitely no “GMO poison” in whatever it is they are selling.

And since “organic” and “non-GMO” are labels that carry premium pricing benefits, they have become useful ways for companies to differentiate their products in the market.

That much is just capitalism, so you won’t hear me complain about that. Whether they believe in their snake oil or not is no skin off my nose. Eating organic certainly doesn’t harm anyone. But trying to force other people to do so can be, and that’s where the real problems start, i.e. when the government gets involved.

While we have a lot of disposable income in the developed world to spend on premium priced foods – and on things other than food – in much of the world, subsistence or near-subsistence is part and parcel with life.

Many people simply cannot afford the luxury of discerning between the provenances of different kinds of kale.

With more than 7 billion people on this planet, and more coming every day, there needs to be a way to feed them.

The simple reality is that non-GMO crops, let alone the more exacting methods involved in high-end organic farming, could not provide sufficient food to feed the multitudes.

It is one of the perverse ironies of the iPhone carrying, latte drinking, left, that its myopic view of what it considers “good for you” will get you killed – especially if you happen to live in one of the poor countries they like to make sad Facebook posts about.

As much as they call it “unnatural” and other such nonsense, it is genetically modified grains such as golden wheat and dwarf wheat that have staved off numerous famines and helped keep our civilization from falling into the ubiquitous “Malthusian trap.”

The consequences are real. Scare campaigns about the evils of GMO have led to countries with fragile food supplies rejecting them out of fear. That is a real harm.

Government intervention usually causes problems. In the case of banning or discouraging GMO, we have a case of government literally starving people to death.

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John Engle

John Engle is a merchant banker and author living in the Chicago area. His company, Almington Capital, invests in both early-stage venture capital and in public equities. His writing has been featured in a number of academic journals, as well as the blogs of the Heartland Institute, Grassroot Institute, and Tenth Amendment Center. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland and the University of Oxford, John’s first book, Trinity Student Pranks: A History of Mischief and Mayhem, was published in September 2013.


  1. The anti-GMO movement seems to largely stem from the “Appeal to Nature” fallacy, which is deeply ingrained in the human psyche of some people as a default stance. Add a bit of anti-corporate rhetoric, and you have a deeply held world view that is really hard to break down. Some of the people that were part of the environmental movement who looked at the evidence and concluded GMOs were OK have been tossed from the movement as apostates. Good article.

    • Thinking “gmo is safe” seems to largely stem from the “Appeal to Authority” fallacy, which is deeply ingrained in the human psyche of some people as a default stance. Add a bit of anti-hippy rhetoric, and you have a deeply held world view that is really hard to break down. [Another appeal to authority.] Weak article.

  2. Most GMOs have been genetically engineered to produce their own pesticides and/or withstand repeated applications of herbicides and those poisons don’t wash off the plant. And since GMOs were snuck into our food supply in the mid 90s our country has become sicker and sicker, especially with allergies and GI disorders. By removing GMOs from their diets though, many people have seen great improvement in their health. Obviously the better choice is organic.

  3. One would think a libertarian would want to know what is in thier food.
    But in reality that are just a cover for corporate domination. Obey!
    So much misinformation here – and ad hominem.
    Just as an example there is no such thing as GMO wheat golden, dwarf, or otherwise.

  4. Holy cow, so many inaccuracies and hypocrisy.
    1. Non-gmo techniques for breeding plants are science based. Choosing non-gmo is choosing science.
    2. There are no studies proving the safety of gmo in humans. This is an appeal to authority. There are only short term studies about the toxicity of some gmo in rats.
    3. It is not any more expensive to eat non-gmo foods. In fact, it’s probably cheaper since most gmo is processed junk food. It’s always cheaper to buy whole foods and prepare it yourself.
    4. If you are really concerned about feeding some imaginary people in the future, you would be eating only plants and not any animal products.
    Stop pretending you are defending truth, reason and science if you don’t understand what the science is regarding eating animals as it pertains to your health and the environment.

    Here is a foolproof way to know a hypocrite liar:
    They expect other people to change and eat things they don’t want to eat (gmo) “because of science” but they are not willing to change themselves by not eating some things they want to eat (animal products) “because of science”.

  5. What makes the majority of genetic engineered crops GMO? Basically taking traditionally hybridized crops(genetically modified) and (engineering) the “patented” traits of herbicide resistance and Bt insecticidal proteins to profit off of. Benefits for agrichemical corporations,not consumers.

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