In areas like evolution, vaccines, and climate change, the media have slowly cut back the amount of time and space they give to such irrational voices, and it’s time they do the same in their coverage of GMOs, Kloor says. But part of the problem, he has suggested, is that journalists “play favorites.” Skeptics of evolution, vaccines, and climate change tend to be on the political right, he points out, whereas many opponents of GMOs are liberals and progressives for whom reporters have greater sympathy and affinity.

Whatever the case may be, none of this is to suggest that people should take it for granted that GMOs are totally benign, that scientists shouldn’t scrutinize their impact on human health and the environment, or that they are a panacea for problems like world hunger and malnutrition. And Kloor has his fair share of detractors, to be sure. But there are rational ways to cover the concerns about GMOs, and irrational ways, and the latter have been far too common.

 

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Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.