GMO: Godawful Modus Operandi

I’ve been avoiding watching the film OMG GMO because I knew it would be irritating. It did not disappoint. It was misinformed and manipulative on so many levels – I mean, this man dresses up his children in gas marks to walk through a field of GM crops. Children of the corn indeed.


So if you want to learn anything constructive about the GM debate, don’t bother watching this film.

However, it can teach you a bunch of other useful things, as pointed out in a couple of reviews that get it just right.

First, confirmation bias. This from Scientific American:

‘He is not so much trying to develop an understanding of GMOs from scratch as searching for affirmation of preconceived concerns. …Instead of seriously investigating [his] suspicions, he is content to parrot numerous misconceptions spread by people who fiercely oppose genetic modification. As a result, Seifert’s intellectually lazy and, at times, emotionally manipulative film only detracts from the public understanding of GMOs.’

Next, how to completely obfuscate the facts. This from the New Yorker (where Michael Specter delightfully calls the film ‘aggressively uninformed’, and also points out the possibly most disturbing fact that it was vetted by Dr. Bloody Oz, meaning literally millions of people will be convinced by this drivel):

‘Seifert even manages to mangle the points worth stressing. He says that weeds have become resistant to glyphosate; that is, to some degree, true. It is also true of every other pesticide or drug ever used. It is explained by a process called evolution. People with H.I.V. or tuberculosis, for example, take cocktails of medications; if they took only a single drug, the bugs would become resistant to it soon enough.’

Naturally (ahem), there are good examples of the naturalistic fallacy also. From the Roger Ebert site:

“GMO OMG” is do-gooder propaganda. After a farmer admits that, yes, some pesticides get into his crops, Seifert does not ask, “Should I be afraid?” or, “Are the amounts of pesticide that get into your crops dangerous to consumers?” Instead, he makes his case with fiery rhetoric, showcasing a song that Haitians farmers sing about Monsanto’s “poisonous” seeds, and Creationist-friendly arguments, like when he speculates that GMOs aren’t good because they interrupt a plant’s natural cycle of growth and adaptation.

In short, it’s an excellent source of badness.

Now it’s time to go forage for lunch. Where’s my gas mask?