Letter: GMO article was filled with misinformation

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Graphic by Lori Deaton

I was very disappointed by your recent story about genetic engineering [“Facts, Fears and the Future of Food,” May 17, Xpress]. This article is full of misinformation, and it may as well have been written by a Monsanto lobbyist. Your newspaper poses as an open-minded, environmentally conscious, liberal organization — but this article clearly shows where your loyalties lie. Who’s writing the check for this one?

Please check your “alternate facts” about the safety of glyphosate and other toxic chemicals that are polluting our land, our water and our bodies. And check your statistics on world pesticide use, as the U.S. does not rank 43rd in the world for use of pesticides.

Good journalism requires an unbiased approach, and your interviews with local pro-GMO scientists were appropriate. However, you offered no rebuttal to the information provided by these interviewees.

Putting false information and statistics into quotations does not absolve you of any wrongdoing.

— Devin Crow
Barnardsville

Freelance writer Nick Wilson responds: “With this piece, I was genuinely trying to understand a very controversial and complex issue. During my research process, I became aware of my own ignorance in regard to much of the actual science behind genetic engineering. I found my conversations with folks like Jack Britt and Leah McGrath to be informative, thought-provoking, compelling and eye-opening. Throughout my research, it also became apparent to me that there’s a lot of public opinion on genetic engineering that’s based primarily in emotional rhetoric, rather than in facts. This isn’t to claim that certain arguments are right only if they are unemotional, it’s simply a reason why I felt it was important to focus the article on clarifying some of the common misconceptions about genetic engineering.

If you believe the article contains misinformation, I’d love to see more accurate data. I can assure you I’m not a Monsanto lobbyist. I’m genuinely skeptical of large corporations and voiced reason within the article to be critical of these entities as well as directing readers to check out the local March Against Monsanto protest.

You’re correct in pointing out that the U.S. does not rank 43rd in the world for the use of pesticides. According to data Jack Britt downloaded on June 8 from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, it now ranks 42.5, tied with Peru, Austria and Ireland.

I chose to focus the story on the common fears about genetic engineering countered with facts provided by people who are well-versed on the subject in order to showcase a side of the story that, to me, seems to receive less attention in Asheville. My goal was to reveal that it’s much more than pro-GMO vs. anti-GMO, but a highly complicated issue that needs to be better understood to facilitate more meaningful debate moving forward.”

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