Activist Ethics in the Internet Age

This is a very short rant against the gigantic misinformation mill that the internet can easily become.

Let me begin by saying that I am 100% against any corporation being above the law, and I am not in support of any of the GMO-giant Monsanto’s business practices. BUT: calling HR933 (the Agricultural Appropriations Bill that President Obama signed into law this week) the “Monsanto Protection Act” is purposefully misleading, inflammatory, and  inaccurate. The farmer assurance provision (which, by the way, was also part of a bill already passed in 2012) means that if a genetically engineered crop is found to be out of regulation (for any reason, including bureaucratic issues) the farmer can petition the USDA (and they don’t need to grant it!) for their crops not to be immediately and summarily destroyed.

Let’s make up a hypothetical situation: a crop of herbicide-resistant corn somehow gets involved in a bureaucratic bungle and the approval gets revoked. Since the approval was revoked for an issue not relating to physical or environmental safety, this clause would allow the manufacturers to petition their right to continue growing the current crop– which, again, the USDA is under no obligation to grant.

I’m not a supporter of Monsanto . But I’m also not a supporter of internet slacktivism, which encourages you to post inflammatory things on social media and sign numerous misleading petitions without actually doing the intellectual leg-work (like reading the actual legislation) first.

This kind of thing is a frequent occurrence on the internet (see Kony, c. 2012). Let’s just let it serve as a reminder to question everything, examine the issue from different viewpoints, and form your own opinions. Misinformation spreads just as quickly as information, and it can really damage the discourse on important issues.


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