Proposition 37: Textbook use of junk science to fool the public

Hiltzik: Junk science and Proposition 37.

Proposition 37, the ballot measure mandating the labeling of genetically modified food that is also known as the “right to know” initiative, is narrowly running ahead of the opposition, according to the latest opinion polls.

But even if the measure goes down — and it’s the target of a $35-million publicity attack by agricultural and food industry interests — the campaign behind it will mark an important milestone in politics: the deployment of weapons-grade junk science.

But where science is at the heart of a campaign, as it is for Proposition 37, the promotion of manifestly shoddy research is especially shameful.

The research in question is a paper published a few weeks ago by a team led by French biologist Gilles-Eric Seralini. Its findings were explosive: Laboratory rats fed for up to two years on genetically modified corn of a type widely used in the U.S. developed huge, grotesque tumors.

The paper claimed to be “the first detailed documentation of long-term deleterious effects arising from the consumption” of the corn.

Public ignorance can be a powerful weapon in the hands of people brandishing research carrying the veneer of credibility. Yes, Seralini’s paper was published in a “peer-reviewed” journal, but that doesn’t make it indisputable. Peer reviews are known to fail, and it’s not uncommon — and becoming less uncommon — for published papers to be retracted when their data are shown to be unreliable.

We’ve posted on the Seralini’s paper and its flaws. Also pointed out to me was a horrendous video that connected pesticides to Agent Orange and is more anti-corporation than anything else. NO one is poisoning our food supply. If that were true, wouldn’t we all be dead or sick instead of living longer than ever before? The push for Proposition 37 is fueled by propaganda, pure and simple, because that works. People don’t know the rest of the story and they aren’t very willing to find out what it would be like if we didn’t have chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and scientific advancements that allow us to grow more and better food to feed the HUGE population that exists.

Tip: Molly Hodgdon

  9 comments for “Proposition 37: Textbook use of junk science to fool the public

  1. October 15, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    So, what they are saying is that all of my recent news reports on Virtual Skeptics are immediately relevant to a pressing issue of our time? Hm. WATCH VIRTUAL SKEPTICS, PEOPLE!


  2. Melissa
    October 15, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    Prop 37 is full of false statements and propaganda. California is an expensive state to live in, causing food prices to rise for a needless reason is careless and dangerous. I believe the statistic is 1in 6 kids does not have enough to eat in this country. Prop 37 will raise that statistic in California. Raising the cost of food is going to have some very real and very bad effects on the citizens all because of fear based silliness. I know I’m voting NO.

  3. Melissa
    October 15, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    Virtual skeptics as well as this website really helped me make sense of the nonsense and come to a realistic conclusion that prop 37 is bunk. I thank you for your time and dedication. I have limited time ( as we all do) and cannot always sift thought all the garbage associated with GMOs, vaccines ect… These skeptic sites are a great tool to find the truth of the matter as well as reminding me to think critically!

  4. oldebabe
    October 16, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    I’ll vote the same way::

    Silliness,yes – Prop 37, no.

  5. Nicholas Racioppi
    October 25, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    I do agree that our society has been reduced to short clips, half truths and SoundBits which all replace facts for fiction but I do agree with the premise of Prop 37 regardless of the data in support or against GMOs. Currently as a consumer there is NO way for anyone to identify those foods which contain GMOs. This to me is more a matter of giving the information to a consumer to make a choice then let the economic power of supply and demand take over. The supply will follow the money. If there is truly nothing to fear about GMOs and we know there is nothing to fear about conventional then the end health result will not matter. Fear tactics are being used on both sides one side touting health the other touting higher costs of food. Most of all food production in the US is subsidized by Uncle Sam and I cannot see a vast SPIKE in food prices nor do I think if I eat GMO apples for the next 2 years I am going to get a tumor. That said I do not entirely trust the food organizations that profit from these GMOs to also provide us with sound studies. In the meantime if the jury is still out on the health safety of these products why should the ability to make a choice for one who is more risk adverse be taken?

  6. October 25, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Nicholas: It’s really not ok to put out propaganda to convince people. On EITHER side. The science currently says it’s safe.

    But this tactic, to me, reflects the anti-GMO food people capitalizing on people NOT being up on the science of the issue. OR, just not caring because ideological views trump science. That will happen a lot. Science should inform the issue but many don’t even want to hear the evidence.

  7. Mike Krajnc
    October 26, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    The absolute lack of knowledge in the responses to this article is literally painful to read. Anyone with any kind of knowledge of the science of the debate would agree that it shouldn’t even be a debate. There is a reason why GMO’s are banned or labeled in almost every other industrialized nation and the US is slow to keep up, money. The greed of Monsanto, Du Pont and others have kept these damaging foods on the market and have essentially let them monopolize the agricultural industry. The only reason studies find it safe is because they are funded by Monsanto. All the facts aside people have the right to know what is in their food plain and simple. The fact that one can even debate that is assinying.

  8. Chew
    October 26, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    Surely there must be studies not funded by Monsanto? Otherwise, how would you know GMO food is damaging?

  9. October 26, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Hmm. I see the Dunning-Kruger effect at play here.

    Also, Mike, comment policy requires you provide evidence for such claims.

Comments are closed.