Monsanto corporation is suggesting that the recent finding of a small amount of GMO wheat in an Oregon field was sabotage. In the wake of that incident, which had the usual bed-wetters all atwitter, comes news that the FBI is looking into what it terms "economic sabotage", in which some 6000 sugar beets were destroyed in Jackson County, Oregon. The crops of GMO sugar beets were destroyed over a span of four days this month, in two separate plots, and the FBI referred to the losses as "significant".
Sugar beets are an important agricultural product in Oregon, where most are grown for the seeds they produce - which account for much of the overall US supply. There has been considerable conflict in Jackson County over the issue of GMO beets, primarily emanating from organic farmers who say that they fear that GMO beets might cross-pollinate with their pristine, organic sugar beets.
As is usual in such cases, considerable hype and hysteria is generated through fear-mongering, as though humans have not been genetically modifying plants - and animals, for that matter - for thousands of years. Pristine, ancestral corn, for example, originally consisted of a small stalk bearing as many as half a dozen kernels, but was genetically modified through selective pollination to become the tall stalks with many ears, each bearing hundreds of kernels, with which we're familiar today.
Genetic engineering simply achieves the results more rapidly, and has been used to develop more nutritious varieties of rice, as one example - and saved thousands of children from childhood blindness in countries where rice is a dominant food source.
But much of policy, unfortunately, is formulated on the basis of hype and fear, rather than any understanding of biology, chemistry, or biotechnology in general. As a recent article in Buzzfeed demonstrates, the level of ignorance is pervasive; the article, titled "Eight Foods That We Eat in The US That Are Banned in Other Countries" is completely wrong, steeped in, well, Buzz, full of bold emphases, and entirely ideological. I just this morning ran across another hysteria piece in something called Mother Nature Network, which purports to describe how "third-hand smoke" will kill you. Such articles are everywhere, and too often taken at face value by media "reporters" and politicians.
An excellent analysis of the Buzzfeed article on foods that'll kill you can be found here; a similar reduction of the MNN article would amount to a fairly trivial pursuit, but "reporters" tend not to do that, for the most part.
The same mentality, of course, pervades the advocacy of "gun control": prior to 1989, the term, "assault weapon" did not exist. It was coined, and popularized in media coverage, for the sole purpose of engendering fear - which would, ideally, lead to banning and confiscation of virtually all firearms. Indeed, when Congress considered the federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1993, they were unable to define exactly what an "assault weapon" was, so they did the next best thing: they banned certain features - such as a rifle with a collapsible stock, or a pistol grip, or a magazine capable of holding more than x-many bullets.
They passed the bill, and it went into effect in 1994. Fortunately, it had a ten-year sunset date, and after a decade of observation, the DoJ was obliged to conclude that the ban had no measurable effect upon gun violence. To date, and despite the persistent efforts of Senator Dianne Feinstein, it has never been resurrected.
The common theme underlying all of these efforts, whether they be fear of scary-looking guns, fear of chemicals, or fear of GMO crops is - all together now - fear. There are no facts involved, in general; where facts are presented, they are misrepresented or distorted.
And policies rooted in ginned-up vicseral emotion are always, without exception, harmful.