There exists an international scientific consensus that existing genetically engineered foods are at least as safe as their closest corresponding non-GMO counterparts . This consensus is drawn on decades of research and thousands of studies. Despite this fact, there still exists a broad gap between the science and public perception of the topic. According to PEW reports, this gap is wider than on any other topic for which a strong scientific consensus exists .
This is significant because we know several other scientific topics have remained highly controversial in the court of public opinion for decades after having achieved mainstream acceptance among experts. Young Earth Creationists have been trying out various strategies for roughly a century to undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools in the US . Rejection of Anthropogenic Climate change is ubiquitous in the US, and even extends to the POTUS himself, despite the weight of the evidence and resulting scientific consensus to the contrary ,,,. Although its prevalence has waxed and waned over time, vaccine opposition has been a near constant presence ever since the discovery of the cowpox vaccine ,. So, for there to exist an even bigger gap between science and public perception on GE foods than for any of these other topics, is no trivial matter.
One of the most common reasons given for trepidation with respect to GE foods is the idea that it’s a more radical way of altering our foods than more traditional methods of artificial selection, and that we therefore can’t know whether or not GE foods are bad until they’ve been around for several more human generations. This view relies on an argument from ignorance logical fallacy, and presents a double standard with no biologically plausible justification. One fact that proponents of this view rarely acknowledge is that it also leads to the generation of testable hypotheses, the results of which actually suggest the exact opposite. Allow me to explain. (more…)