If you want to see true cluelessness coupled with denial of science, even the Republican National Convention won't do it - you have go to sites about food that are run by anti-science groups.
The modern day Food Temperance movement has its own code of conduct - exploiting naked women is okay but rationally discussing genetic modification is not - and beware if you deviate from their guidelines. Freedom of thought and diversity and tolerance only extend to people criticizing science.
The Center for Food Safety is, as you might expect, a law firm pretending to care about science. The executive director is a lawyer, most of them are lawyers. One guy has a BA in chemistry.
They do have a PhD on staff - in political science.
Thus, they are perfectly qualified to declare biology invalid - at least for anti-science hippies.
So no one is surprised that a seminarian working for them has declared all of synthetic biology extreme genetic engineering. Obviously the naturalistic fallacy has its religious overtones - Mother Nature is supreme, etc., but who knew fundamentalism could creep into the movement so easily.
There is zero tolerance for dissent. You are with them or against them and if you leave the fold, Gaea help you. USDA, for example, is clearly In League With Lucifer - what we call science - because they dare to talk about nature and sustainability in a meeting called the SynBioBeta Cultured Food Forum.
Leaving out the weird belief that all food was 'natural' before GMOs and that deep-space cosmic rays which break chromosomes into pieces that reattach randomly and sometimes create new genes are superior to precise optimization, the tone is decidedly Witch Hunt-ish.
Check out this quote - Jaydee Hanson takes out both the writer and his whole publication. All they care about is how "progressive" a site is, the actual science is irrelevant:
These genetic engineers are ironically being coached in how to rebrand their products by Nathanael Johnson, a food writer for for the formerly progressive online magazine Grist.First, Jaydee, learn to use the English language for more than emotional effect. There is nothing ironic in what you described - the only irony is that he actually was not there, which is a weird error to make for a guy who claims to be an expert laying out facts.
Nathaniel Johnson, mentioned above, is one of the few sane left-wing food journalists out there, and he had to be scratching his head wondering how he reinvented the laws of physics and was simultaneously on a panel and not at the same time. Well, he wasn't there. That's a pretty simple fact to get wrong, especially when it is in a release about the facts of biology.
And Grist is no longer a 'reliable' publication to them? Who is on their contributor roster? None other than Jaydee Hanson, the guy writing the article at CFS saying Grist is rubbish.
Maybe he is just new at this facts thing. Usually there would be an easy way to determine the age of an anti-science environmental writer; how often they use the word EXTREME. Hanson defies that, but he must have watched a lot of the X-Games:
Link: David Dilworth on Twitter
That's right, synthetic biologists - you are part of a "new, largely unregulated field" until the next paragraph when you are dismissed as "supposedly new technology". Which is it? It doesn't matter.
And what does having Michael Pollan as a teacher mean anyway? Center for Food Safety has a prominent quote from him - "it's not just about environmental health threats, it's really a political issue", which is absolutely true. When 55 members of Congress try to force through GMO warning labels and 52 of them are Democrats, it is clearly a political issue and Democrats are representing the beliefs of their voters.
But why would anyone assume Johnson must be in the bag for their politics because he once took classes with Pollan? Gilles-Eric Seralini had students, Andrew Wakefield had students, Tyrone Hayes had students, are we to believe they all subscribe to the crazier notions of their teacher? Pollan thinks french fries are the problem, which is a little batty - obviously, the issue is not french fries, it is that American science has created a way for food to be so plentiful and cheap that, for the first time in the history of the world, poor people can afford to be fat.
Blaming french fries for obesity is as silly as blaming spoons.
It will take cultural maturity to fix the obesity problem, not demonizing scientists or corporations and certainly not letting lawyers create science ambulances to chase.