GMO Food - © - Marler Clark

Online Russian Meddling In GMO Debate

I’m wondering what benefit the Russians get out of selling anti-GMO propaganda to the west. Unless they want to destabilize the food supply or simply trigger anti-GMO riots and protests. Or is it that they want to destroy the credibility of agribusiness giants like Monsanto?

Anti GMO Protest - © Courtney Sacco - AnnArbor.comAmerican protesters march against GMOs – specifically against GMO research leader Monsanto. Fake News from Russian websites may have motivated this and other demonstrations…

A recent study, along the lines of those that explored the claims – all too true – that the Russians meddled in the 2016 U.S Presidential elections, has revealed that the Russians are waging war against agribusiness in the West, as well.

Iowa State University researchers say Russian hackers may be behind the Fake News and totally nutty internet posts about Geneitically Modified Organisms that are quoted by many anti-GMO advocates.

Researchers found that two Russian websites – RT and Sputnik – used the word ‘GMO’ more than five other western outlets combined: Huffington Post, Fox News, CNN, Breitbart News, and MSNBC. Notably, it doesn’t seem to matter whether the western news outlets are liberal or conservative. Their emphasis on GMO ‘news’ is much less than that of the Russians.

Method in their silliness…

ISU sociologist Shawn Dorius, along with Carolyn Lawrence-Dill, an associate professor at the university’s Department of Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology say they believe the difference between the Russian and western articles they studied are intentional. They told reporters:

“Compared to a wide range of American news media, two Russian news agencies — RT and Sputnik — were more likely to report on GMOs and to cast GMOs in an explicitly or implicitly negative light. The evidence suggest that the difference between Russian news concerning GMOs and US news on the same topic is not random.”

Dorius and Lawrence-Dill suspect that the Russian campaign is an effort to portray American crops as less healthy, or ‘dirtier’ than Russian crops. This could be an attempt to lure countries that buy U.S. grain and other food exports away from the U.S. Western food exports are a major component of North America’s economies.

But they also say the intent may simply be to erode Americans’ faith in their science, agriculture and economic institutions, not to mention their political leadership. Dorius told the Des Moines Register:

“Anti-GMO messaging is a wedge issue not only within the U.S. but also between the U.S. and its European allies, many of whom are deeply skeptical of GMOs. Stirring the anti-GMO pot would serve a great many of Russia’s political, economic and military objectives. The idea in an asymmetrical war, you look at where you’re weak and your opponent is strong, and you’re really trying to undermine their strength. This is an area where U.S. science is strong worldwide — especially so, relative to Russia.”

GMO foods are currently banned in Russia and about three dozen other countries.

But don’t be fooled!

If you’re reading some online post and it carries links to other posts claiming GMO mosquitoes caused the Zika virus, or that Facebook has used its power to block anti-GMO content… You’ll know you’re in a Russian (or at least a rabid anti-GMO) website. That sort of stuff is just nonsense. Hundreds of leading scientists around he world have undersigned statements stressing the wholesomeness of GMO foods and no GMO food has been found to be harmful (to my knowledge – correct me if I’m wrong).

GMO technology has the potential to solve the world food crisis by producing new plants and animals that can prosper in climates unlike those they are native to, or can resist diseases and pests better. At the very least GMO has already produced new strains of staples such as Rice whose yields are two or three times that of the original varieties. The Chinese have already developed a Rice than can be grown in salt water, opening tens of millions of square kilometres of marginal land to cultivation.

I’m for GMO

Yes. I’m for GMO and all the good things it can do. No, I don’t believe for a moment the uneducated and uninformed nay-sayers are pushing about it. And this will be my stance unless or until I see proof to the contrary.

~ Maggie J.