Saturday, January 10, 2015

#1256: Margaret Wille

Margaret Wille serves on the Hawaii County Council as Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Water and Energy Sustainability, Vice Chair of the Planning Committee, and Vice Chair of the Public Safety and Mass Transit Committee. She is also a deeply delusional anti-GMO activist, and in that respect responsible for the sordid affair described in some detail here.

Essentially, Wille subscribes to all the standard conspiracy theories surrounding GMOs, and backs her commitments up by rank pseudoscience – real science, of course, has found none of the lasting harmful effects Wille ascribes to GMOs, but since evidence obtained through sound methodology and extensive study fails to line up with what Wille has come to believe through intuition, anecdotes, and the ever-pervasive fallacious appeal to nature science is dismissed – the scientists are in the pocket of Monsanto, being the standard justification.

In complete disregard of facts and reason, Wille led the charge ending in a ban on genetically engineered crops on the island of Hawaii in 2013. The ban was based on the usual misinformation, including but not limited to the myth of terminator seed technology, the purported causal effect of GMOs on allergies, lack of independent testing, the myth of GMOs influence on bees, the mythical link between GMOs and farmer suicides in India (!), and – not unexpectedly – the minor and utterly debunked, discredited and withdrawn Séralini study. And when the Hawaii council was supposed to be exposed to expert evidence? Well, Wille failed to invite any experts; instead, the Council was exposed to the testimony of self-declared expert, anti-GMO activist, and loon Jeffrey Smith, whose formal qualifications on matters related to GMO consist of a business degree from the hysterically unaccredited Maharashi University.

You can read the text of the 2014 moratorium initiative here. To the discredit of the inhabitants of Maui County, it passed.

Diagnosis: Manic denialist. And the larger concern is that anti-GMO activism has become the left’s answer to wingnut anti-evolution activism and climate change denial; it is precisely as well grounded in science and relying on precisely the same denialist tactics and misconceptions. Sad and scary.

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