We All Have Trust Issues

Man.  This GMO stuff is really making my head spin.  But before I pull a very believable remake from a particular scene in The Exorcist, I’m going to try to make some sense of it all.  To do that, I’m going to take you for a trip down memory lane. And I do mean trip.

Ah, the old me.  The me, pre-farmer/pre-farmer-husband/pre-farmer-boyfriend (who are one and the same now, just FYI)/pre-knowing-anything-about-agriculture-at-all, really didn’t know much about where her food came from or the process that it takes to get food, safely, efficiently and effectively, from the farm to my/our fork.  To be perfectly honest and totally blunt, the old me was a friggin’ gullible idiot.  Because hindsight is, as they say, 20/20.

I’m going to say (and let’s be honest, hope to God) that you, dear reader, are not quite the gullible idiot that I used to be. And maybe gullible idiot is harsh.  But I feel like that’s how I was before I started asking the right questions.  Before I starting knowing that there were more questions TO ask when I thought I already knew everything.  Because it can be difficult to realize that there are always two sides to every story, especially when we’ve made up our minds about something and therefore don’t necessarily want to know or hear about the other side.  But that doesn’t mean the other side of the story doesn’t exist or isn’t just as important as the side we’ve decided to stand on.

The old me, as we’ve established, was a gullible idiot.  I would read an article or two online or watch an hour long show featuring a celebrity or a “reliable scientist” about whatever controversial subject was on trend at the time, and think I knew enough to make an informed decision about that subject based on what I’d read and/or seen on TV.

In case you’re curious, no, watching TV for an hour doesn’t make you informed; it makes you opinionated (or bored or confused).  Which is fine until you stop asking questions and start doing things like trying to change governmental policies that affect a LOT of people based on what you don’t really know.  But the problem was that I didn’t even KNOW I didn’t know.  And how do you know to ask about something you don’t even know to ask about?

It’s a trap that we still seem to be stuck in today regarding GMOs.  Why DON’T we ask more questions before forming an opinion?  Why do we trust other people to form our opinions for us?

Here is a lovely example for you: Gwenyth Paltrow.  Gwenyth is an American actress who used to be married to Chris Martin, frontman for a little band named Coldplay. She also runs a very popular website called Goop.  She has many, many, many followers and people who love her, which is super because even actresses deserve to be loved sometimes.  But Gwenyth, as far as anyone knows, is not a closet scientist who focuses her non-existent research on GMO safety nor does she work as a farmer growing thousands of acres of, say, GM corn in the Mid West.  So how is it that people can blindly follow her and take what she says about GMOs as TRUTH? Gwenyth is not a scientist or a farmer, yet people believe her and support what she says and does when she marches up to the White House with a petition with hundreds of thousands of signatures and lobbies for GMO labeling in the U.S. Gwenyth says GMOs are terrible so that MUST be true, right?  Because she’s a reputable human being, right?  Gwenyth wouldn’t lie, right?  So it’s safe to base political and health decisions and the way you vote and therefore, by default, public policy on what an actress thinks about an important, far-reaching issue that affects millions of people and several industries… right…?

The most disturbing part about this is, before becoming an educated consumer, I would have believed Gwenyth right along with everyone else.  As someone who’s constantly in the public eye, she seems likes a nice, TRUSTWORTHY person that I would have felt safe believing in and listening to.  And being that I don’t actually know her personally, I’m sure she’s swell.  But she doesn’t know shit about GMOs. So being the gullible idiot that I was, I didn’t necessarily realize all the vastly horrendous implications that would go along with me believing in her stance on something as major as GMOs.  It would not have occurred to me that, because of the sheer number of people/opinions/voters she has access to, going along with what she says and not asking questions before forming my opinion might royally fuck things up.

In my continued reading on this subject, I find myself truly and utterly baffled by the ability of people to absolutely and unequivocally ignore sound, factual, science based information saying GM crops are safe for human consumption.  It’s like for some people, that information just does not exist.  Why do we, as a society, have such a trust issue when it comes to believing – or at the very least, seriously considering – sound, factual, science based proof that GMOs are safe for human consumption? What is there not to trust?  Is it simply because Gwenyth says GMOs are terrible?  Or is it something else that I’m clearly missing?  Honestly, please.  Tell me if I’m missing something.

I understand that this is a controversial issue for a great many people.  And as much as this post is more than a bit rant-ish on my part (my bad), all I’m trying to spur in you is the drive to ask questions before formulating your opinion on this issue.  You must understand that what you think you know might not be all that you need to know.  If, after finding more information from the science community and from the agriculture industry, you’re still not really pumped about GM crops, then okay.  That’s your right as a human being to formulate your own opinion.  Just please, PLEASE don’t base it solely on what Gwenyth tells you or on that one article you read online once.  Don’t give your trust away like that.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got find an exorcist to stop my head from spinning.


9 thoughts on “We All Have Trust Issues

  1. I agree listening to an actress to get your opinions on things is foolish. I will say that there are plenty of good reasons to be skeptical of scientists though. Case in point – look at how the USDA & the like are updating the dietary guidelines these days. For decades we were told saturated fat and dietary cholesterol were terrible for us, not because there was EVER any hard science to back that up but because one scientist with a forceful personality decided it must be true and went about black-balling anyone who dared disagree with him until they mostly shut up. For decades we’ve been given what amounts to TERRIBLE advice about what not to eat because of him and his influence and that influence continued long past his death. So I am more than a little skeptical when anyone, scientists included, come out with statements on nutrition and the safety of foods. There’s so much more that goes into their studies than just science. There are personalities at work, jostling for tenure and prestige. There’s the question of what field the scientist comes from and does he consider data from research in other fields. Human nutrition is complicated and yet we have dieticians who don’t pay attention to molecular biologists, etc., etc. There’s the BIG question of where the study’s funding came from (Crisco was only too happy to fund studies saying butter was bad for you because they could sell more margarine or shortening). I’m not saying we do need to fear GMOs – honestly I’m not sure – but to truly be informed one must read a lot and ask a LOT of questions, not just about what various studies say but about how they were conducted, who paid for them, etc. It’s a lot to take in and unfortunately, most people would prefer a straight-up simple answer, even if it comes from a ditz like Gwenyth, than to do that work. It’s sad.

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    1. Yes. I agree. Many people seem only too happy to allow others to make their decisions for them which is nuts. I only hope that we, scientists especially, have learned from past mistakes like the ones you referenced. As much as money and prestige is nice, it seems like if you don’t go about your research in a legit way, consumers are going to find out AND hold you accountable.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! And it is more a descriptor of how I used to be than anything else. I just really find it odd that celebrities hold such great power over things like votes and public policy.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Very true. If you think about the big issues too much, it can be overwhelming and scary. So I get it. But at the same time, it’s important to ask questions and allow yourself to make your own decisions, and to question what you hear from those with a large platform.

      Liked by 1 person

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