Is Hawaii's Anti-GMO Movement Really Just Anti-Science?

Hawaii is at the center of the fight over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) - and the food people are eating all over the United States.

Because of Hawaii's favorable climate, plant breeders and food companies do huge amounts of research and seed development there, including modifying and transforming crops via all sorts of biotechnology. In 2013, two islands in the Aloha State passed legislation restricting GMO use and local and international activists are pushing for broader bans across the rest of the state. Anti-GMO activists say that the crops are potentially harmful and can contaminate the rest of Hawaii's agriculture.

Legislators are currently considering a bill that would mandate labeling on all foods with genetically engineered material, a move that critics claim would increase the cost of food in Hawaii even more (according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Hawaii already pays about 40 percent more for food than other states). Other states are also proposing GMO-labeling schemes because of the fears associated with such products. Connecticut and Maine, for instance, have already passed labeling laws, but they won't go into effect until after other states follow suit.

The battle over GMOs will likely turn on questions of safety and property rights: Are GMO foods safe for human consumption? And who gets to decide how cropland is used - voters or landowners?

Reason TV traveled to Hawaii and reports on both issues.

For more on the situation in Hawaii - and the scientific consensus that GMO foods are absolutely safe to eat - read Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey's story, "The Fable of Hawaiian Frankencorn." For Reason's coverage of GMOs, go here.

About 9 minutes.

Produced by Sharif Matar.

Scroll below for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube channel to get automatic notifications when new material goes live.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • albo||

    I don't understand the science and it scares me. Kill it with fire!!!

  • Joao||

    I doubt you understand the science either. They are just more careful about things. Respect that; give them the choice.

  • Barry likes the (D)||

    I do, and you are an idiot.

  • Sevo||

    "Respect that; give them the choice."

    Sorry, luddites are due no respect. And yes, they have a choice; don't eat 'em if you don't like 'em.

  • ||

    Banning GMOs is not about choice. It is about taking other people's choices away.

  • Lush Rimbaugh||

    This is an absurd comment.

  • Zeb||

    I assume that comment was self-referential as Hazel's was quite logical and sensible.

  • BenjaminRTucker'sRevenge||

    You have a choice...if the market sooo demands labeling, it should be the non-GMO foods that label in order to attract customers to their "organics". But alas, political opinion is rarely the same as economic choices, because those economic choices actually cost you something.

    Why should 80% of food cost more for the vast majority unwilling to change what they eat to avoid GMOs? Let your 20% of non-GMO food be labeled, and cost yourselves that money in higher prices. And you wouldn't need a law for that if it were truly wanted by consumers. It's easy to answer a poll and say "I want labels", but when the prices in the store are higher for non-GMA foods, most of the hypocrites who answered the poll will buy the cheaper products.

    It's like when a guy with a iPhone whines about "slave labor" used to assemble it China. Total hypocrisy.

  • OldMexican||

    Video: Is Hawaii's Anti-GMO Movement Really Just Anti-Science?


    Or paranoid. Take your pick.

    Most anti-GMO feelings stem from a general distrust of corporations.

  • andarm16||

    Yup. Basically for a lot of people it amounts to Monsanto = evil therefore GMO=evil. They see it as a way for the corporations to exert control of the food supply, and thus move us all towards their shadowy goals.

  • Sevo||

    Their shadowy goals of providing FOOD! How horrible!

  • sarcasmic||

    Not only that, but inexpensive food! Fucking monsters!

  • Sevo||

    If they aren't stopped, brown people might not starve anymore and then where would rich lefties go for an "authentic" vacation?

  • sarcasmic||

    Did you know that Big Agra is responsible for America's obesity epidemic?

    Food needs to be more expensive so poor people can't afford to be fat!

  • albo||

    Big Agra makes us fat so that we'll diet with pills made by Big Pharma that are subsidized by health insurance subsidized by Big Government.

  • Satyrical||

    GMOs have caused the price of food to go UP, not down. Genetic research and manipulation isnt cheap.

    Not to mention that GMOs are genetically modified to be sterile, so that farmers can no longer grow new crops from the seeds of the crops they rightfully own, they can only buy new seeds from Monsanto every year. Its a form of rent. This is how the NWO is working, theyre destroying individual property rights so that nobody OWNS anything anymore, only rent.

  • Sevo||

    Satyrical|2.2.14 @ 3:32AM|#
    "GMOs have caused the price of food to go UP, not down. Genetic research and manipulation isnt cheap."

    You're a liar. Fuck off.

  • ||

    Pure paranoia definitely plays a huge role in the mindset.

    Sometimes I think that people who are of below avergae intelligence tend to be paranoid, because they sense other people are smarter than them, and are consequently always worried that someone is secretly plotting against them. Plus then they have a chip on their shoulder and are consequently attracted to conspiracy theories because it's a way of demonstrating that they have some superior "secret" knowledge that other people lack.

    I would put down money that a disproportionate number of anti-GMO activists also believe in chemtrails, or that vaccines cause autism, not to mention bigfoot and space aliens.

    I would also bet that on an intelligence test you would find they mainly score below 100.

  • ||

    "I would also bet that on an intelligence test you would find they mainly score below 100."

    This. Not that it takes nominal intelligence to ask for proof that GMO's are inherently unsafe or anything.

  • sarcasmic||

    I've known plenty of otherwise intelligent people who believed some really stupid shit because they felt it to be true.

  • ||

    True and there is a certain amount of liberal ingroup signalling involved.

    But to be an out-and-out activist, you actually have to put some effort into not only believing the stupid thing, but believing it so passionately that you're willing to don a mask and go out and destroy a field full of Golden Rice to stop it.

    This isn't just liberal in-group signalling. This is die-hard crazy head-fuck stupid.

  • Zeb||

    But those activists are also people who manage to convince other people to more casually go along with their nuttiness. That takes some kind of intelligence.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Personally, I would bet that a great many of the anti-GMO activists are fairly intelligent … they just never did much with it. The Western Lefty Intellectuals may go to college, but they tend not to study anything hard, like math or the hard sciences. They have been told all their lives how bright they are, and they have college degrees to prove it, but they aren't actually capable of rational analysis, since they never learned how to do it (too many Leftist hobbyhorses, like Socialism, fall apart if you insist on real analysis).

    So they fear science, because they not only don't understand it, but are afraid that if they admit that they don't they'll have to turn in their Best And Brightest membership cards. And admit that they are no less sheep than the proles they feel superior to.

  • ||

    In other words, these are people who think they are smart, but they're really not, and they are desperately insecure about it.

  • Zeb||

    I really don't think its that. Plenty of truly smart people believe all sorts of silly things. I can't really explain why, but I can't just dismiss most people as stupid either.
    For example, I am someone who just doesn't get religion or religious faith. If I didn't know lots of religious people, I'd think that you would have to be colossally stupid to believe that shit. But I do know lots of perfectly intelligent people who have that kind of faith.

  • ||

    Ok, well, maybe not all below average. It could be an array of average to above average people, just not particularly brilliant, who have major insecurities about their intelligence, and end up being attracted to conspiracy theories as a result.

  • Zeb||

    Probably something like that.

    I keep saying these things to remind myself as much as to correct other people. It is far too easy just to assume that people are stupid. We are all a lot less logical than we like to believe.

  • Zeb||

    I keep trying to point out to people that patents on crop cultivars are not new and are not limited to genetically engineered cultivars. Lots of conventionally bred things have the same sorts of restrictions on propagation.

  • MSimon||

    thus move us all towards their shadowy goats.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Still a Polywell believer?

  • Satyrical||

    Most anti-GMO feelings stem from the fact that people dont want anyone splicing insect and virus DNA into the fruits and vegetables they eat.

  • Sevo||

    Satyrical|2.2.14 @ 3:33AM|#
    "Most anti-GMO feelings stem from the fact that people dont want anyone splicing insect and virus DNA into the fruits and vegetables they eat."

    No0, they stem from abysmal ignorance. Sorta like what motivates you.

  • Ragnarok||

    neo-marxist:

    Biodiversity is so good we need to shut down an entire economic sector if it threatens a single sub species(ex: delta smelt - nm, the ways to save both).

    GMO's introduce a new and "unnatural" sub species, so we need to destroy it before it(and its associated economic sector) before it can spread that bio-diversity(pollination).

    The one thing in common between these two positions, stopping capitalism.

  • some guy||

    Nevermind that we've been GMing things for centuries, perhaps millenia. Ever seen a picture of a Chihuahua sitting on a Great Dane's head? Corn was just a thistle before the Olmecs and Mayans started guiding its development. If someone hates GMOs then they hate dogs and cats and corn and cows and damn near every popular food crop of the 19th and 20th centuries. It's almost as if they hate... mankind.

  • some guy||

    Sorry, corn came from a grass, not a thistle. Point remains the same.

  • Zeb||

    I think there is a legitimate distinction to be made between GMOs created through deliberate manipulations of genetics and conventional breeding. In the latter case, people weren't genetically modifying things, they were just taking advantage of natural variations through artificial selection. Why one would assumme that deliberate changes to genetics for a specific purpose is always more dangerous than completely random natural mutations is a mystery to me, though. It's not as if nature isn't full of horribly dangerous and poisonous things.

  • ||

    Why would a person *engineer* something horribly dangerous and poisonous? GMOs are *designed* species. Every gene added is added for a reason. We know what protiens they code for. We know whether those proteins are toxic or not. If you're going to worry, worry about conventional breeding, which crosses in millions of unknown genes at a time.

  • Zeb||

    Yes, exactly. In nature, you never know what you are going to get. When adding a gene or two to an organism, you have a pretty good idea what the result is going to be. And if you don't get a good result, you try again.

  • Zeb||

    The point I am trying to make is that there is no reason to think that human created GMOs are inherently more dangerous than natural mutations. Quite the opposite, in fact.

  • Satyrical||

    You dont think that splicing insect, virus, and pesticide-producing DNA into the food you eat is inherently more dangerous than natural mutations? You sound like the kind of person who doesnt even believe that evolution or DNA exists.

  • Sevo||

    "You dont think that splicing insect, virus, and pesticide-producing DNA into the food you eat is inherently more dangerous than natural mutations?"

    No, I don't and there are plenty of studies showing that it is not.
    Show me one study showing otherwise. Or shut up.

  • So very tired||

    " In the latter case, people weren't genetically modifying things, they were just taking advantage of natural variations through artificial selection."

    Which occurs how, and is passed on how?

    Right.

  • Zeb||

    "Genetically modified" implies an agent does the modifying rather than random natural processes. I hope it is clear that I am all for genetic engineering of food crops and all I am saying is that the distinction between GMOs and conventionally bred crops is meaningful, just not in the way the anti-GMO crowd seems to think it is.

  • Satyrical||

    Well natural variations through artificial selection sure as hell werent splicing ANIMAL, INSECT, AND VIRUS DNA into our fruits and vegetables.

    Its clear that the only reason you dont see this GMO stuff as a problem, is because you dont know what theyre actually doing in these labs. You cant get animal DNA into a plant through natural selection. These people are literally like old school mad scientists, creating mutant freaks in a lab.

  • Sevo||

    ..."These people are literally like old school mad scientists, creating mutant freaks in a lab."

    No, they are not. You, however, are like an old time luddite fearful of what's new.
    Grow up.

  • Satyrical||

    Thats not genetic modification. Youre comparing creating a baby by impregnating a woman to creating a baby by growing it in a vat, and while youre at it, splicing some spider DNA into it so it can have 8 eyes and climb on walls.

    Monsanto is literally splicing insect and virus DNA into fruits and vegetables. How are you not aware of this?

    Direct genetic manipulation is not breeding.

  • Satyrical||

    "If someone hates GMOs then they hate dogs and cats and corn and cows and damn near every popular food crop of the 19th and 20th centuries."

    When was the last time someone injected your cat with insect DNA? You obviously dont even know what a GMO is. Monsanto is not simply "guiding" evolution or selectively breeding plants, they are literally splicing DNA from viruses, insects, and animals directly into the plants, without any long term knowledge whatsoever of what the effects of that will be, let along what it will do to you when you eat it. If you wouldnt eat a roach, why would you want roach DNA spliced into your corn?

  • Sevo||

    ..."why would you want roach DNA spliced into your corn?"

    To piss off ignorant luddites like you.

  • Curtisls87||

    When was the last time one of these anti-GMO at a banana with seeds? Why aren't their carrots purple? Don't they want to be truly organic?

  • Zeb||

    See my comments immediately above. I don't disagree that the anti-GMO people are idiots, but let's not pretend that there is no real difference between deliberate, specific modifications to an organism and artificial selection for natural mutations. I am not saying at all that there is any basis to say that one is worse or better (though one could certainly argue that genetic engineering is better in many ways) than the other in any particular way, just that it is silly to pretend that they are the same thing.

  • Satyrical||

    Those bananas and carrots were produced through selective breeding, the same way we produce our cattle. GMOs are literally gene spliced in labs with DNA from animals and insects. Would you eat a cow that had insect DNA spliced into its genes?

    Its the difference between having a child the old fashioned way, and growing one from a tank. Its not natural.

  • Sevo||

    ..."Its not natural."

    Keep your religion to yourself.

  • MSimon||

    Plant breeding should be done the old fashioned way. Hit the seeds with high energy radiation and see what grows. Anything else is unnatural.

  • Duelles||

    Isn't consensus in science. .. . Not science. Doesn't science keep trying to replicate studies and prove theories wrong or right regardless of 'consensus' ? I am not disregarding the studies, only the consensus . Long live GMOs.

  • pob||

    my buddy's step-mother makes $88 an hour on the internet. She has been unemployed for 9 months but last month her income was $20319 just working on the internet for a few hours. hop over to this website W­ o­ r­ k­ s­ 7­ 7­ .­ C­ O­ M­

  • pob||

    up to I saw the paycheck for $4756, I be certain that my sister was like they say actually earning money parttime at their laptop.. there sisters neighbour started doing this for under eighteen months and a short time ago cleard the loans on their cottage and bourt Acura. try this W­ o­ r­ k­ s­ 7­ 7­ .­ C­ O­ M­

  • pob||

    up to I saw the paycheck for $4756, I be certain that my sister was like they say actually earning money parttime at their laptop.. there sisters neighbour started doing this for under eighteen months and a short time ago cleard the loans on their cottage and bourt Acura. try this W­ o­ r­ k­ s­ 7­ 7­ .­ C­ O­ M­

  • pob||

    up to I saw the paycheck for $4756, I be certain that my sister was like they say actually earning money parttime at their laptop.. there sisters neighbour started doing this for under eighteen months and a short time ago cleard the loans on their cottage and bourt Acura. try this W­ o­ r­ k­ s­ 7­ 7­ .­ C­ O­ M­

  • pob||

    what Jimmy said I am taken by surprise that a student able to profit $4756 in 1 month on the internet. browse around this website W­ o­ r­ k­ s­ 7­ 7­ .­ C­ O­ M­

  • pob||

    up to I saw the paycheck for $4756, I be certain that my sister was like they say actually earning money parttime at their laptop.. there sisters neighbour started doing this for under eighteen months and a short time ago cleard the loans on their cottage and bourt Acura. try this W­ o­ r­ k­ s­ 7­ 7­ .­ C­ O­ M­

  • pob||

    up to I saw the paycheck for $4756, I be certain that my sister was like they say actually earning money parttime at their laptop.. there sisters neighbour started doing this for under eighteen months and a short time ago cleard the loans on their cottage and bourt Acura. try this W­ o­ r­ k­ s­ 7­ 7­ .­ C­ O­ M­

  • robb25||

    Argument from authority is not a logical argument at all. And which scientists are these? Skeptics of global warming include many top scientists in the field of climate science. It is the quality of the arguments, not the quantity of adherents, which should guide our understanding. One simple fact. The greenhouse gas theory predicts that upper tropospheric warming should be 30% higher that surface warming. Observation shows pretty much the reverse of that! How can the surface be warming faster than the source of the warming? All of this is well-established in peer-reviewed articles that global warming alarmists falsely claim to not even exist.

    There are also very solid scientific arguments against the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution including, especially, the fossil evidence itself.

    The author here seems to overlook entirely just how much science can be, and frequently is, politicized.

    It will not do to cite this or that scientist. It is necessary to reference the studies themselves.

    That said, I'm not aware of any studies that show GMO's to be dangersous. It is entirely possible that opponents of GMO's are the ones politicizing this issue. But claims of a "scientific consensus" should be taken with a grain of salt. There are no short-cuts to studying the issue under dispute. If you're not going to do that it is better not to comment on scientific studies at all.

  • Sevo||

    ..."There are no short-cuts to studying the issue under dispute. If you're not going to do that it is better not to comment on scientific studies at all."

    No "short-cut" studies have been done. They are all "long-cut" and they show NO evidence of danger.

  • Satyrical||

    "Legislators are currently considering a bill that would mandate labeling on all foods with genetically engineered material, a move that critics claim would increase the cost of food in Hawaii even more"

    How so? Is label ink really that expensive? Arent packages supposed to label their ingredients already? Hell every time i walk in the store, half the time something i buy has changed the design of its label or is boasting "New Packaging!" (which is actually a scam to make the contents smaller without you noticing). You cant tell me it would somehow be more expensive to just put two more words on the label, "Contains GMOs"

  • Sevo||

    ..."You cant tell me it would somehow be more expensive to just put two more words on the label, "Contains GMOs""

    If you claim is isn't, you're a liar or an ignoramus.

Click here to follow Reason on Instagram

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE