Monday, April 10, 2023

#2636: Tami Canal

Among denialist movements, anti-GMO views remain at least among the more socially acceptable. Anti-GMO views are, of course, as fraught with conspiracy theories, denialism and pseudoscience as climate change denialism, yet activists have certainly managed to have some impact. Among the more impactful denialist organizations is March Against Monsanto, an international protest movement targeting GMOs through the common anti-GMO bogeyman Monsanto, and the organization has arranged numerous protests against Monsanto, GMOs and Roundup.


GMO debate template 

The movement was founded by Tami Canal (and propped by activists like Emilie Rensink and Nick Bernabe) in response to the failure of California Proposition 37 – despite Canal and her allies vastly outspending their opponents in campaigning and lobbying efforts – a ballot initiative which would have required labeling food products made from GMOs. The initial march took place in 2013 in hundreds of cities across the world with possibly hundreds of thousands of participants carrying signs promoting a lot of anti-science nonsense (anti-vaccine stuff, for instance) but mostly focused around slogans like “Label GMOs, It’s Our Right to Know”, and “Real Food 4 Real People” – the latter is in fact rather telling when it comes to understanding anti-GMO activism (as is this). According to Dorothy Muehlmann, organizer of the L.A. version of the march, the goal of GMO labeling was to raise awareness and help people make informed decision, which is a talking point that should be familiar. Subsequent marches occurred in 2014 and 2015.


The organization itself has a track-record of being notoriously unconcerned with facts and evidence, given that existing scientific consensus – and the facts and evidence supporting consensus – concerning GMO safety don’t support the conclusion they prefer: the organization tends instead to forward any conceivable conspiracy theory related to Monsanto and to blame everything and anything from colony collapse disorder to cancer on the existence of genetically modified crops on the simple basis that cancer and colony collapse disorder exist (evidence for a connection is for losers, or non-Real People). When they see fit to refer to scientific studies, they tend to cite papers by known pseudoscientists and people who have had to retract their previous papers on the subject under accusations of fraud (yes: that one). Their facebook page is also a predictable cesspool of chemtrail conspiracies (chemtrails are being used by Monsanto and their allies to kill non-genetically modified plants to ensure a world-wide monopoly), anti-vaccine hysteria and claims of US election fraud (but of course: you’re not surprised, are you?)


Tami Monroe Canal herself is a California homemaker-turned-food woo guru. She has no background in any field relevant to nutrition or biotechnology, but nevertheless has decided that non-organic food is “poison” and was frustrated with the failure of Proposition 37 because she was ostensibly concerned about the health of her children. Her early objections to GMOs – she systematically fails to distinguish GMOs from Monsanto – was mostly based on various conspiracy theories (according to Canal, US food regulatory agencies are so deeply embedded with Monsanto that it’s useless to attempt to effect change through governmental channels) and the familiar talking point about “exclusive patenting rights over seeds and genetic makeup,” which is potentially nefarious but which has also been standard practice among all seed producers, organic or not, for a very long time.


And Canal is also – but of course – an antivaccine activist, and she’s made numerous effortst to protest what she claims is “the CDC’s deadly vaccine schedule”. In 2016, for instance, she joined antivaccine leaders Del Bigtree and Levi Quackenboss for a meeting with Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR), to demand a government investigation of the CDC on the basis of conspiracy theories (in particular the familiar and silly “CDC whistleblower” conspiracy). She was also a speaker at “Revolution for Truth”, a 2017 antivaccine march on Washington organized by various antivaccine groups. Some of her views on vaccines were explained in her 2016 conspiracy rant “CDC Quarantine Committee Working on Law to Detain, Imprison, and Vaccinate Any American they Deem Necessary”, in which she complained thatIf you remember the movie, ‘Contagion,’ [Canal evidently didn’t quite get it] the CDC’s power grab reads like the script. Detainment, imprisonment (indefinite), forced medical examinations, forced treatment, forced vaccination ... for MEASLES. The CDC is lumping MEASLES in with Ebola.” (For the record, the CDC rule says absolutely nothing about forced vaccination, and measles is not a quarantinable disease, of course, but this has nothing to do with facts.) And yes, Tami Canal does claim, falsely, that vaccines cause autism, and has filed briefs with legislatures to that effect.


But oh, there’s more! In her article “The link between GMOs and Morgellons Disease”, Canal notes that there is little research “correlating Morgellons with GMO foods”. And to Canal, “[t]his is suspicious right off the bat, because it would seem that there would be a natural curiosity regarding a link between Genetically Modified Organisms that people ingest regularly and inorganic fibers that protrude from a person’s skin,” and hence the lack of research is not only evidence for a causal connection but for a vast and thoroughgoing conspiracy. The real reason there is little such research is of course that Morgellons Disease does not exist. Well, Canal found one … rant. By Coast to Coast AM-stalwart Whitley Strieber, no less. From which she concludes that “what you purchase from the store might just change your DNA and create such frightening symptoms that the general public simply does not believe it.” It should be unnecessary to point out that you cannot change your DNA through diet. And Canal isn’t done, but we are.


Diagnosis: A wild-eyed promoter of unadulterated paranoia and conspiracy theories – anything she comes across, apparently – who at some point (and with help) managed to create a rather popular anti-science movement with a real, negative impact on food safety and environmental issues. At this point we’d hope her deranged conspiracy are sufficiently well-known for that fiasco not to repeat itself, but the whole thing is scary.


  1. The older guy in this second picture is Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Although I have & have read all of his books, and I agree with him about markets, probability, etc. I'm deeply convinced that he is an arrogant, overbearing bastard nevertheless. (What he has to say about Monsanto is deeply concerning but not correct. He makes himself laughable on this subject ).

    Somebody had said of him: "He's an elitist, snooty rogue, who you are forced to like despite his rather infuriating 'cultivated' airs."

    1. Yup, it's Taleb - he is certainly a loon, and we've given him an entry already. He is one of the most vocal - and deluded - anti-GMO conspiracy theorists in the US, and is also into medical pseudoscience.

    2. Thnx for the info!

      (I didn't search for his name here on EofAL perhaps because I hoped he`s not enlisted here. But now I think he fully deserves to be among all of these lunatics here enumerated. I followed him on Twitter for a long time ago but I quit coz I saw many "adorers" of him who treat him like an idol or god even when he erred. I saw he enjoyed such attention but for me, that was disgusting)