Home / Society / Eat corn until it crawled away. How myths about GMOs rooted in public opinion

Eat corn until it crawled away. How myths about GMOs rooted in public opinion

Ешь кукурузу, пока не уползла. Как мифы о ГМО укоренились в общественном мнении

In early August, a popular crowdfunding service Kickstarter banned the project for obtaining genetically modified organisms (GMOs), equating them to pornography, drugs and weapons.

It happened a month later after the biologists who managed to collect half a million dollars to create glowing plants. Despite the fact that a negative attitude to GMO from the public is a common sight to see this position from the draft included in the top ten major inventions of 2010 by Time magazine, at least surprising. In the field of biotechnology in General there is a unique situation — public opinion is directly contrary to the opinion of the expert (in this case scientific) community. “Ribbon.Roux” tried to understand how this situation was possible at all.

All sorts of beliefs (including misconceptions) tend memes. This term, originating from the Greek word “similarity”, was first coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976 in his book “the Selfish gene” to describe units of cultural information. The main property of the meme, which will interest us later on, is the ability and commitment to dissemination, transmission from person to person. The system views a specific individual is a complex of interrelated memes — and the system of representations of the person about GMO’s is no exception. Without claiming completeness, we will tell you about the most popular memes-beliefs related to genetically modified organisms and their Genesis.

The effect of the founder

The first meme, which will be discussed, linked with the company-a pioneer in the field of “green technology” Monsanto. In 1996 it introduced some of the most successful GM plants: transgenic soybean, resistant to the nonselective herbicide Roundup, and pest-resistant Bt cotton. Before entirely focus on genetic engineering, the company was engaged in chemical production, and thereby earned a very controversial glory.

Not the last role in this played the fact that in “the asset” Monsanto is the manufacture of DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls, the harm to health which was installed after their widespread domestic use, and also because of the military contracts for production of Agent Orange. This mixture of defoliants and herbicides by the Americans massively sprayed over the fields and forests during the Vietnam war, and it was done to undermine the guerrilla movement, in particular, the destruction of crops.

As it turned out, the manufacturer of Agent Orange was used a simplified scheme of the synthesis, the resulting product was contaminated with an extremely toxic dioxin with strong carcinogenic, teratogenic and genotoxic properties. Despite the huge scandal that unfolded in the 1980-ies, Monsanto was able to pay off the victims of dioxin American veterans, and hundreds of thousands of victims in Vietnam got almost nothing.

A consequence of bad publicity Monsanto has become a meme, which is: GMO is a new Agent Orange, which transnational corporations are trying to poison us all.

Polls show public opinion, society in General is not too aware of the basics of biotechnology.

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