Stay in Your Lane: The Issue with Non-Transferable Expertise

Consumer Reports did wonders for me when I was buying my first appliances. As a kitchen newbee, it made a big difference to have a brand-impartial commentator predicting all the practical errors I was sure to run into with every toaster oven. I had so much trust in those reviews, which is why it's a little jolting for me to read the magazine's increasingly questionable coverage of food issues. Chief among them is the magazine's November 2014 piece on 'organic' and 'non-GMO' labeled corn chips, which makes the outrageous claims that "There haven’t been sufficient studies done to determine whether there are long term health risks for people consuming GMO foods."  As expertly written by Marc Brazeau at the Genetic Literacy Project:

This is just wrong. There have been plenty of long term term studies on the health effects of GE crops. As GLP’s Jon Entine noted in his recent talk to the National Academy of Sciences, an updated review published last December of 33 studies—17 long-term and 16 multigenerational (from two to five generations)—by a team of scientists including Chelsea Snell and Agnès Ricroch found, “Results…do not suggest any health hazards…and there were no statistically significant differences within parameters observed. …The studies reviewed present evidence to show that GM plants are nutritionally equivalent to their non-GM counterparts and can be safely used in food and feed,” the researchers added.

I'd highly recommend taking a look at the whole Genetic Literacy Project response, as well as their other work on Consumer Reports. There's an overwhelming body of evidence about the safety and benefits of biotech food, including for the environment, some of which can be found--among other places--herehereherehereherehereherehere, and here

Will I still trust Consumer Reports? Sure, on automobiles and dishwashers, where they've built up trust for generations. Just don't assume that expertise transfers to talking about food and agriculture.


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