Ayn Rand Institute: Why GMOs are Good (video and commentary by Tom Kiely)

Intro by Scott Creighton – OpEd by Tom Kiely

Tom Kiely, a guy I am fortunate to do interviews with every now and again (including tonight at 7:30pm eastern) sent me an email in response to an earlier article of mine regarding the Ayn Rand Institute and their new book about feeling good about being a selfish asshole.

The info was fascinating. It was a video of a speech given by an Ayn Rand Institute fellow proclaiming her love for GMOs and Monsanto.

He included with that email a link to the video I post below as well as a rather interesting analysis of it he wrote himself.

I am posting his email below the video without asking him first but I don’t think he would mind, it’s good reading.

I’m sure we will be discussing it tonight during the interview.

Video and email from Tom after the break:

Tom Kiely writes:

Here is a video from the Ayn Rand Institute of a scientist telling us why GMO’s are good for us and how misguided activists who are against them are. I spent the time to view this to see if there might be something that I didn’t already know and what I found was a carefully constructed talk in favor of making huge profits by manipulating nature in the laboratory. Yet this profit motive was not really mentioned. Instead the speaker portrayed the scientists and companies like Monsanto merely as dogooders sincerely trying to help out mankind.
The woman giving the talk said she was a scientist and I found her talk full of weasel wording. Here are a few examples. Early in her talk she claimed that GMO’s were good for you because several government agencies, such as the EPA and the FDA,  have given them their stamp of approval. I found this to be a rather odd statement from an Ayn Rander who I would expect to be saying that the EPA and FDA were burdensome bureaucracies that don’t really help people and merely impede the profits of capitalists with mountains of needless regulation. Later in her talk she reverses herself on the needless impediments of government bureaucracies at least two times.
When talking about the great benefits of GMO’s and the unreasonableness of its activist critics she never once mentions the fact that much of these seeds are designed to not produce new seed but rather force the farmer to come back to the agri corp who sold them the seeds in the first place over and over again if they want to stay in business. This fly’s in the face of the way farmers used to handle the procurement of seed, often off of their own crops. So which is it, are the scientists trying to help humanity or are they trying to line the pockets of big agri corporations and how is non heirloom seed an improvement over nature? As mentioned, she never once brings this up nor, when she is trashing the GMO critics does she bring it up as one of their criticisms. It is just an inconvenient truth that she totally omits.
She speciously tries to conflate previous “low tech” genetic modification such as humanity’s ancient method of naturally creating cultivars in the field with the current high technology which allows scientists to combine the genes of plants and animals in the laboratory, something that nature never does.
She singles out corporations such as Chipotle as being bad for choosing not to serve food made with GMO products.
Dihydrogen Monoxide
One of her more interesting examples of being unfaithful to the Ayn Rand ideal is how she is against the mere labeling of foods to show if they contain GMO or not. Since when has Ayn Rand been in favor of Big Brother censoring simple information so that the noble populace can make up their own minds in their own self(ish) interest?
To make her point against labeling she uses this rehtorical slight of hand:
“Well I’ll tell you what’s really dangerous that activists aren’t talking about. Dihydrogen Monoxide. Dihydrogen Monoxide is a colorless and odorless liquid. It’s been found contaminating many foods like fruit and milk. Accidental inhalation can be fatal and ingestion of too much can cause cerebral edema, a swelling of the brain. Dihydrogen Monoxide, sounds like nasty stuff but it’s just the scientific name for water. To people who aren’t scientifically versed the name isn’t informative, it just sounds scary. Did I fool you, are you mad at me? You should be. Just keep that in mind every time you have an activist telling you that they are just helpfully trying to inform consumers. These activists are really demanding that food manufacturers slap a label on their products effectively announcing to the world that there’s something wrong or dangerous about them. Hiding behind the guise of better informed consumers they’re trying to scare people. Like moms trying to make the best choices for their kids out of buying foods that in reality are just as innocuous as water.”  Did you notice that? She says that water has been found found contaminating many foods like fruit and milk. So here she is comparing water to genetic manipulation of food in the laboratory, which by the way must be safe because that arch enemy of Any Rand’s, the FDA, says it is.
Here is how she explains how moral the scientists are and how evil the critics are. Notice how she never mentions the profit motive yet contrary to what she says, there would be no GMO without it despite the presence of humanity’s need for better nutrition not because of it as she alludes:
“Improving farming including the seed that we plant it’s not only a worthy endeavor but it’s a moral one. Improving upon nature is what makes human beings great. But I don’t think that anti GMO activists are too concerned about people. I don’t think that consideration for human beings are at the center of their ideas or judgements. Instead it’s the view that natural is better for example that causes anti GMO activist to hype the negatives, distort the evidence and to completely ignore the benefits that GMO have been bringing to the table for the past twenty years.”
I could go on. She mentions that GMOs are better resistant to herbicides  such as glyphosate, which she claims is no worse for you than baking soda. (did you ever see the video of the glyphosate lobbyist who made a similar claim but then refused to drink a glass of it when it was offered to him?) Nor does she mention the damage to soil when repeated and higher doses of herbicide are introduced to it via plants that can tolerate higher and higher doses of herbicide.
Also not touched on was the idea that the food material produced by GMO has never been encountered by the digestive systems of the beings who must eat it and the bacteria in their gut which must help to digest it.
I think I’ll go out and get some non GMO Chipotle now.

2 Responses

  1. I’m a scientist. I have done plenty of genetic manipulations in laboratories. For me, it has just been a tool for learning how biological systems work. But that woman is clearly disingenuous. She may or may not think she is. She is just being paid. But she is. Deep down, she knows full well she is lying through her teeth some of the time and telling half truths the rest of the time. There are fake activists who act as alarmists and provocateurs (eg A. Jones comes to mind), but that is not really the point here.

    Despite all the attempts to ridicule people who are concerned about genetic modifications being sold without labeling, what the ridiculers are intentionally ignoring is that the debate is not about whether or not a genetic modification could be safe, but rather whether people have the right to know what is being done with their food and to follow, research and evaluate it for themselves, in case it turns out it is not safe (I avoid the use of the acronym “GMO” because it is a meme – an intentional psych tool that creates an artificial division between “sides” of an “issue” created for that very purpose – much like “conspiracy theory” – damn those who stoop to such low levels of stigma labeling). And Monsanto, who she apparently represents, has a PROVEN history of completely amoral, purely capitalistic practices. There is no way a rational person could conclude that Monsanto is trying to help humanity, no matter how pretty a spokeswoman they pay to pretend she believes them. Monsanto spends their time, money and energy trying to find ways to ensure their seeds will not grow unless someone pays them for a new batch, and then forces poor farmers in other countries to buy their seeds through obligations imposed upon them by deals made between their dictators and the US government. They put this ahead of any pretend benefit to humanity. This is purely criminal and should result in the elimination of the corporation by an international criminal court, but of course no such viewpoint is taken by the corporate leaders of our current world. In their view, the company has an obligation first and foremost to its own survival (since it’s a person, and all).

    There is no guarantee that any genetic modification made to make a plant more robust, or to allow it to produce more calories per unit water, for example, is unsafe for consumption. That is true. Also, genetic research and genetic modification of food supplies could be a miracle for humankind. But under our current capitalism, and in the hands of Monsanto, this it absolutely impossible. Their interest is unrelated to the public good. Their interest is not concerned with whether their products are harmful. They will do, and they have proven so multiple times, whatever it takes to make the maximum profit, as dictated by their capitalistic philosophy. If that ends up killing people or making their lives more difficult, they literally do not care. That is someone else’s problem. Their obligation is to their investors. Only to their investors. Period. That is literally what it means to be a publicly-traded company. You are obligated to your shareholders and nobody else. Your objective is to return profits to them. Period. The so-called mission statement or pretend purpose of your company (nutrition, medicine, etc), is irrelevant. It is just a vehicle to make money. This is capitalism, and it is literally the law. A company’s officers can literally get in legal trouble with the courts of the United States for putting the interests of the customer, or employees, of a publicly-traded company ahead of the interests of the shareholders. This is stated openly by SFOs at all-employee meetings to remind people not to question the increasingly Draconian policies being implemented internally within companies across corporate America (a kind of “my hands are tied …” excuse, if you will). And the shareholders’ interests are one-dimensional — profit above all else.

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