Forbes Calls Consumer Reports Anti-Science in a Pro-GMO Rant That … Lacks Science

forbes vs consumer reports

Forbes Magazine is known for its lists of the wealthiest people and companies.  Frequently they use their influence to slyly support their big dollar buddies in the biotech industry.

Forbes successfully plumbed a new depth with an attack on Consumer Reports magazine last week.

Consumer Reports did an article ranking different milk substitutes for its readers.  In that report, they (gasp) referred to the inclusion of GMOs as a “con” in their review on soy milk.

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This caused Forbes Magazine to release the hounds in defense of genetically modified foods everywhere.

The hound in this case was Jon Entine.  Entine, a pro-GMO activist, was very distressed by this report.  I know this because he said so, repeatedly, ranting his way through an entire article about how CR has let him down with their complete ignorance about science.

Which makes it all the more distressing that this once venerable institution-in-a-magazine has driven off the science cliff in obeisance to the current hysteria—yes, we are listening Neil deGrasse Tyson—over genetically modified foods…

But the most egregious CR development is its unexplained dissing of GMO soy milk. Upwards of 94% of the US soy crop is GMO so it’s no surprise that your favorite edamame or your morning glass of soy milk is made from soy beans designed to be grown with fewer insecticides (Bt soy) or less toxic herbicides (herbicide resistant soy). In its “Cons” section, CR encourages consumers to “Look for brands with the USDA organic seal or the non-GMO verified label.”

But why? It never explains, and based on CR’s stated intention to rely on evidence to form its judgments, it’s violating its own guidance. After all, there is not one published study that suggests that GM soy products are any less nutritious than alternatives; nor are they, or any approved GMO food, harmful in any way. In fact, it’s well established that organic products, including soy milk, are more likely to have a higher risk of pathogen contamination.

Just to recap here: Entine is upset that CR is letting consumers know that the ingredients in soy milk are most likely GMO. He seems to disregard the fact that if consumers are concerned about GMOs in their diets, this is legitimately, a “con” and is important information for those of us who wish to identify and avoid GMOsIf the consumer doesn’t care about GMOs, he or she is unlikely to take this warning to heart and will blithely guzzle down the negatively-reviewed product.

Entine wants you to know that GMO soy is actually better for you, also – you know, because they use less insecticide and herbicide when growing it. (I must have missed the “science” that says that these plants are sprayed less – and also that if they are, that less chemicals are better than no chemicals – I hope someone can send me a link to those reports.  Please and thank you.)  As well, Entine takes a moment to point out the organic products are worse for you than GMOs (he must have forgotten to put in the evidence of this “well-established fact” because that link goes no where.)  It’s important to note that all of Entine’s “science” links back to his own site, pompously called the Genetic Literacy Project. Because the rest of us are…you know…illiterate. His theories are remarkably similar to the propaganda and the lies that the biotech industry epsouses.

But Entine doesn’t stop with praising the health benefits of GMOs and the likelihood of a horrid death-by-pathogens from that nasty organic food.

Oh no.

His ire takes on a  target  completely unrelated to Consumer Reports, the Organic Consumers Association.  The “radical Organic Consumers Association.” (Because we all know those organic food hippies are just crazy.) While he’s on the topic of how awesome GMO soymilk is, he took this opportunity to criticize both the OCA and a company that responded to activists by removing GMOs from their soy milk, all in one condescending fell swoop.

This is not the first time that activists have brandished their anti-science club to quash empirical based thinking on the issue of soy milk. In 2009, Dean FoodsDF +0.88%, owner of the Silk Soymilk brand, faced a barrage of criticism from food activists when it switched from organic to conventional soybeans, calling it their “natural” line—which was correct. The move was actually done for the best of reasons. Most certified organic soybeans are sourced from countries with low or non-existent labor standards; the switch to conventional soy means that workers would not being exploited to satisfy Silk Soymilk customers.

The radical Organic Consumers Association went on a rampage, calling for a boycott—and it was effective. Rather than stand by its ideals and its fair labor commitment, Dean caved, throwing its worker protection pledge under the bus to embrace the anti-GMO scare campaign. It now positions itself as a driver of the fear bus. “GMOs? No thanks,” Silk.com writes on its web page. “We think the less you mess with Mother Nature, the better.”

Kevin Folta, the head of the University of Florida plant technology program, who is clearly unbiased *snort* in his support of GMOs, pointed out unhappily that Consumer Reports, by criticizing GMOs, gave “a backdoor endorsement of organic and non-GMO verified brands.”  Isn’t it interesting how suggesting one thing is bad, Consumer Reports is accused of endorsing something else?

Entine summed up his disappointment with Consumer Reports’ anti-GMO stance with his own unsubstantiated pronouncement:

The only difference between soy milk made with GM soy and alternatives is that the substituttes (sic) would almost certainly cost a heckuva a lot more because of the price premium extracted by organic producers. In other words consumers would be paying more for no benefits.

Is that the kind of advice that you want from Consumer Reports? How to spend more for new (sic) real benefits?

Forbes Magazine has a history of promoting the interests of Big Business. If you google “Forbes and GMOs” you’ll find a long list of pro-Biotech propaganda, including 2000+ Reasons GMOs Are Safe to Eat (also penned by Entine, who must get a heck of a Christmas present each year from the folks who sell GMO seeds.) Meanwhile, Forbes mocks organic consumers as “agricultural narcissists.

The creators of the famous Forbes 500 lists have a dubious interest in educating the public if it might lower the net worth of companies with questionable ethics like Monsanto and Dow. In fact, articles like these could potentially manipulate markets by using their influence to attempt to sway public opinion. By setting themselves up as well-educated experts and condescending to the rest of us ignorant fools with ad hominem cries of “anti-science”, they promote the money makers: low quality, dirt cheap ingredients that can be highly processed and marked up with an enormous profit margin.

But honestly. Forbes really just wants you to have the scoop about genetic modification. Forbes Magazine wants you to know that GMOs are good for you, and that organics contain deadly pathogens. Forbes cares about you.

Further reading

Techniques of Propaganda and Persuasion

GMO Free Diet: How to stay healthy by identifying and avoiding dangerous foods

We’re Monsanto: Feeding the World, Lie After Lie

Organic: A Journalist’s Quest to Discover the Truth behind Food Labeling

About the author

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States.  She is the author of The Organic Canner and  The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom.  Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy's articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

10 comments
JMC - August 16, 2014

Forbes does not even request labeling… it is obvious that they are paid shills for the biotech companies. Anyone who is “pro science” and “pro business” would OBVIOUSLY allow a “free market” to work properly with labeling and open transparency.

Reply
RMG - August 16, 2014

anyone who believes in the labeling of GMO’s should do the one thing that Forbes would understand “economics” cancel their subscription, if they have one…

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RJ Miller - August 18, 2014

Can you point to a single peer-reviewed study showing that GMO’s are any more risky than the “natural” thing?

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Joe Bartell - August 18, 2014

Another junky non-science anti-GMO hype article…

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    theADMIN - August 18, 2014

    Because the Forbes article was so scientific…right, Joe?

    Reply
      Jon - September 20, 2014

      I am extremely skeptical of GMOs – and admit that I am biased against the idea of corporations tampering with plant genomes for the sake of mass production. From what I have read I think that GMOs are far from “safe” and that large scale industrial farming is not an answer in itself to world health problems and food shortages. However – this article doesn’t provide any firm rebuttal to Entine’s article – merely points out how pompous and condescending he is. If we are going to change the debate we need to be citing real data and case studies that demonstrate our point in scientific language that will be understood by GMO proponents.

      Reply
Dan - September 22, 2014

I would fully support labeling of GM products, as long as there is a way to label it in such a way that the public can understand. Are all genetically modified traits equally evil? How many of your average consumers have the scientific background to know which genetically modified traits have been thoroughly evaluated, and which ones have not? The problem with stamping well designed “GMO Free” logos on products and releasing them to an uneducated public is that those labels imply “this product is better for you because it contains GMOs, all GMOs are dangerous”. If you stamped healthy looking “Tocopherol Free” labels on foods, you would convince a large portion of the population that Vitamin E should be avoided. The point here is not that labels are bad, it is that providing labels to the public that the public lacks the required education to understand is misleading and does not result in a true “free market”. As in every other scientific issue, context is crucial.

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Michael - February 20, 2015

Most people in the US would probably eat a turd if the FDA slapped a candy-bar label on it.

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