Sept. 4 2015 06:33 AM

Article in Washington Post is a huge and high profile challenge to common perceptions.

We in agriculture are often angered by articles about food or farming in publications with huge readerships that tend to be clueless about both.

That is why I urge everyone to read a recent interview article about GMOs that appeared in, of all places, the Washington Post.

"Why we're so scared of GMOs, according to someone who has studied them since the start" is well worth the time to read, if for no other reason than it is a warm ray of hope reminding us there are still voices of reason in a world that seems increasingly prone to hysteria.

But before you start, please have this definition in mind: "In sociology and psychology, mass hysteria refers to collective delusions of threats to society that spread rapidly through rumors and fear."

Does that sound familiar? Do the Salem witch trials in the 1690s come to mind? How about the public's perception of GMOs today?

Article author Roberto Ferdman makes a bold and very unexpected statement in his first paragraph: "There is now near unanimity among scientists that GMOs are safe to eat."

Wow! Can this really be the Washington Post?

His interview is with Jayson Lusk, an agricultural economist at Oklahoma State University, whose take home message about why GMO mass hysteria exists is because people by nature fear things they don't understand or have much control over. He also points out the growing attitude of "if it comes from a big company I don't trust it" in U.S. society.

My favorite paragraph in the article is one I dream every anti-GMO person on Earth will read some day:

"What brought it [the GMO issue] to everyone's attention was, quite frankly, the sellers of many natural foods and organic products. I don't want to say that they were stoking people's fears, but they kind of were, at least to the extent that it helps sales of their own products. So there was some of that advertising, and the advertising that pitched products as not containing GMOs, which raised consumer awareness."

Well no kidding. Promoting any product by slamming the competition is as old and basic as marketing itself. Lusk is simply stating what too many consumers are too ignorant or naïve to consider.

Take a look at the article and see if you don't think there just might be hope for common sense yet.

Dennis blog footerThe author has served large Western dairy readers for the past 38 years and manages Hoard's WEST, a publication written specifically for Western herds. He is a graduate of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, majored in journalism and is known as a Western dairying specialist.