March 15, 2014

War on Reason -- a Victory!

An aside [Goldbergesque throat-clearing? -- The Couch] to begin: I'd take my lumps from the Neil deGrasse Tyson crowd for my heterodox position on the Earth's sensitivity to CO2 -- were they not coming from folks who likely don't vaccinate their kids and seek to ban fracking and GMO crops. "Oh yes, I'm anti-science."

The GMO opposition burns the lovely bride and I with exceptional pain. Her grandfather was a pioneer in the field. He held two doctorates and is famous in family lore both for giving a cow a bamboo udder and developing a small pit avocado (eaten by the Japanese in their occupation).

His great-grandchildren have made a vocation of taking to Facebook to unwind all the incredible gains for which he laid the foundation. I guess some of the Fords aren't the best advocates for automobiles, but it still saddens me and angers my lovely bride.

It seems the forces of goodness and light have won a small victory in the Aloha State.

"For the locals, the islands have always been a place of high tech agriculture," writes [Author Rachel] Laudan. "Many of them worked on the big sugar and pineapple plantations. They saved to buy small plots of land. Those who farm these plots know that the papaya growers have survived thanks to genetically modified varieties that have been safely used since the 1990s."

The South Park episode with all the very white mainlanders who bought property five years ago fighting the incursion of mainlanders and tourists (and reduction of benefits to their "Mahalo Rewards Card") is particularly beloved as two pair of the Facebook cadre also fit into this group.

Grandpa saw people starve because of the challenges of tropical agriculture and devoted his sadly short, war-abbreviated life to improving it. Let's hope Ayn Rand is right and he is not looking down on his progeny's opposition now that the science has come so far.

Technology Posted by John Kranz at March 15, 2014 10:36 AM

Who complains most loudly about the evils of GMO foods? The urban micro farmers struggling to yield more than 10 bushels of produce from a season's effort tending "organic" seed plots. The mechanized farmer driving hybrid veggies to market by the truckload "isn't fair."

Posted by: johngalt at March 16, 2014 2:41 AM

Yeah but. It is a perfect storm between a general fear of modernity and a relationship to food that is emotional and easily exploited. Cf: agricultural subsidies and Willie Nelson Farm Aid concerts.

Comparative advantage would dictate that we import all our food from Africa and turn farmland into theme parks or something. The locavore and organic movements touch an atavistic chord.

Posted by: jk at March 16, 2014 12:41 PM

I do not purport to judge the relative merits of factory farmed fennel versus backyard broccoli, but merely suggest they be allowed to compete side-by-side in the marketplace.

The GMO-haters seek to defeat their "unfair" competitor by force, at the hands of government.

Posted by: johngalt at March 18, 2014 2:50 PM

This is a hot button issue here in Hawaii right now. Some of the counties (read: Islands) have banned GMOs altogether, so even if the state level ban fails, half the state cannot have them.

From my impression, most of the opposition is not driven by the urban, micro-garden types (which we really don't have), but the (always white) hyper environmentalist transplant types who have the money to buy big houses by the beach side and like to reminisce about their past as hippies.

This New York Times article is actually a really good description of how things go down here and why. A sad read.

Posted by: T. Greer at March 20, 2014 3:31 PM

That was my "South Park" allusion. That's exactly whom I expect to oppose it.

The linked article is superb. Of course the NYTimes is surprised at to find anti-science in the left.

Scientists, who have come to rely on liberals in political battles over stem-cell research, climate change and the teaching of evolution, have been dismayed to find themselves at odds with their traditional allies on this issue. Some compare the hostility to G.M.O.s to the rejection of climate-change science, except with liberal opponents instead of conservative ones.

Then in two paragraphs "what about DDT?" By which, the quoted skeptic and the Times mean "they said it was safe" rather than "Rachel Carson said it wasn't."

Posted by: jk at March 20, 2014 5:48 PM | What do you think? [5]