Genetically modified opinion article gets readers riled and writing

Two items in this past week’s Western Producer really captured the attention of our readers online. Both were about genetically modified crops.

The first was a lecture delivered by Agri-Trend chief executive officer Rob Saik in support of his upcoming documentary movie, Know GMO.

“There’s so much disinformation, so much misinformation out there, it’s important for (consumers) to understand that GMOs are all around us,” Saik told WP reporter Ashley Robinson.

You can see a video Robinson made of the lecture at bit.ly/ 1ScGsSb.

The second item was an opinion piece written by former organic inspector Mischa Popoff entitled, Stop the GM controversy in organics.

In his piece, Popoff has this to say about organic activists: “Their aim is to sideline agricultural genetic modification and prevent GMO farming from moving forward. And their gambit is working marvelously: GM flax, wheat, Golden Rice, Arctic Apples, innate potato are all on the sideline, some for more than a decade.”

And the debate was on.

A reader named Kanawai Mamalahoe had this to say in response to Robinson’s story about Rob Saik:

“Hawaii GMO is about the majority of the globe’s GMO traits developed here by the big six and the massive rise in birth defects and cancer associated with our use as the GMO/Pesticide experiment center.”

Reader Robert Wager was quick to reply:

Except that the Hawaii State Health Authorities do not have any data to support your claim. Why is that? … As long as you get your information from anti-GMO activist sites you can be sure to be myth-informed.”

Keith Hemingson took to Facebook to share his thoughts on Popoff’s piece:

“How come the GMO boys don’t want you to know their product on the shelf has been GMOd … label it and let the consumer decide.”

That comment prompted Barclay Meinert to reply:

“For the same reason it doesn’t tell you the colour of the combine I used or the date I planted it on. A nutritional label is for useful stuff.”

Ken Gallagher let us know what he thought of our decision to run Popoff’s opinion:

“WP should be embarrassed to publish Monsanto et al. propaganda like this. Popoff is a well known spokesman for them.”

I reminded Mr. Gallagher that the WP will run anyone’s opinion, even his, provided it’s done respectfully and in a civil manner.

Much later in all the commentary, a reader and regular commenter named Dayton piped up with a question for the WP:

“How often do you allow opinions on the same subject repeatedly? Seems everyone here has flogged this subject to death. However, the WP continues to publish. Why? Can we not agree to disagree and leave it to the consumer to decide which option they prefer?”

The answer, I think, is fairly self-evident.

We will proudly continue to share the opinions of our readers for as long as they care to share them with us, and thank you very much for doing so.

As long as those opinions continue to stimulate civil and respectful debate, I think it’s worthwhile to continue sharing them.

Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending these issues no longer exist is not beneficial for anyone.

Respectful debate is the first step in moving toward a real and lasting solution.

But that’s just my opinion.

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