Sound Science Struggling To Win Over Skeptics [Opinion]

Sound Science Struggling To Win Over Skeptics [Opinion]

When it comes to certain issues, there is just no convincing people contrary to what they already believe. Call them stubborn, bull-headed, or crazy. They’ll likely call you the same. It doesn’t matter how foolproof you think your argument is, there will be no budging.


This is unfortunate. As connected as we are to vast resources of information, along with the ability to capture and share imagery and video, skepticism still reigns supreme.

“That’s Photoshopped.” I hear that argument plenty. I often think it as well — especially when coming across images on social media that look too good to be true. The same goes for video. But what about a scientific paper or presentation? You’d think the scientific community would be able to garner the respect that would put to rest arguments and debate using unbiased data.

John VanSickle, UF/IFAS economics professor and longtime contributor to Florida Grower® magazine, makes a stout case for science’s sake in a recently published article. He writes, “Science holds the responsibility for separating fact from fiction.” Sounds reasonable to me.

GMOs Under The Microscope

Without a doubt, the most debated topic worldwide currently involving agriculture is genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Just recently, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a study that found no difference in the risks to human health between genetically engineered crops and traditionally bred crops. In addition, the study found no conclusive cause-and-effect evidence of environmental problems from GMOs.

Bam! There you go: scientific evidence saying GMOs pose no health risk. Case closed, right?

Our online version of this newsworthy study included a poll asking readers:

How much impact will this report have on those with already formed opinions on GMOs?

View Results

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The results are resounding no matter how you interpret them.

News Roundup

If you’ve been following the news lately, then you know research has been on a roll. At the conclusion of a recent joint meeting of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization, experts on pesticide residues ruled glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans through exposure to glyphosate-treated crops. Experts also say there is no convincing evidence of a carcinogenic risk from malathion and diazinon when crops treated with the insecticides are consumed.

Wow. That’s two wins in a row for agribusiness based on scientific fact. So, how do we feel? As I wrote this, there was one reader comment related to the post about the glyphosate ruling.

“Sadly, rather than silencing the critics, this news will simply give them incentive to increase their mendacity. It’s discouraging that no amount of accuracy or legit scientific evidence will overcome activism.”

Plain and simple: Attitudes must change in order for progress to occur. And we shouldn’t require a doctoral thesis explaining why to accept and act on this fact.

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Jon M Kowal says:

What is driving this is skepticism of all things either science, big business or government. In the case of studies of GMO’s you have all three involved. You can’t get any bigger than Monsanto, can’t get any more skeptical of anything government so when put together in studies probably funded to some degree by end users such as Monsanto, their influence can skew any study since they are providing funding. I personally have an issue with these studies since I believe that only time will tell how these changes will influence us all. Even though studies are done with certain products that have been used for quite a while, anything new that is being developed has to be time tested.