Hillary Clinton has a history of supporting bad ideas, from the Iraq War to GMOs. Just as the Iraq war had unintended consequences, so the GMOs have unintended consequences too. Those unintended consequences are beginning to be felt, as genetically modified mosquitoes help spread the Zika virus.
The primary excuse used by those in favor of the Iraq war is that authorities acted on bad information, which led to unforeseen reverberations. Bad information is also driving the democratic presidential candidates – with the exception of Bernie Sanders – to endorse GMOs.
What makes Clinton’s support of GMOs standout is that she endorsed feeding GMOs, that were unfit for her own consumption, to the masses.
Clinton’s tongue-in-cheek endorsement of GMOs
During a 2014 bio-tech conference, Clinton endorsed GMOs by stating that she stands in favor of “[GMO] seeds and products that have a proven track record.” She then responded to GMO critics, saying “there is a big gap between what the facts are, and what the perceptions are.” And yet, during the Clinton’s stay at the White House, they preferably ate a whole organic diet.(1)
In fact, according to Walter Scheib, White House executive during the Clinton years, “the professional challenge of fulfilling Hillary Clinton’s mandate of bringing contemporary American cuisine and nutritionally responsible food to the White House.”(4)
Nevertheless, during Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, she regularly pushed GMOs on other countries. Furthermore, she used taxpayer money to help commercial GMOs, which earned her the nickname “Bride of Frankenfood” among critics.(1)
Adding to Clinton’s nickname, critics noted that there are global risks attached to GMOs, and that whenever an action poses a global threat, it ought to be avoided. This is known as the precautionary principle. No one knows the rippling effects a genetically modified seed, salmon or mosquito may have on the environment.(2)
Interventionists like Clinton, however, abuse the precautionary principle regularly. Her disregard for the maxim shined through her endorsement of the Iraq war and currently shines through her endorsement of GMOs. Instead of responding to her critics on the issue of GMOs, she said the bad perception of genetically modified agriculture could be addressed with more government and industry chicanery.(1)
Zika virus potentially spread by genetically modified mosquitoes
A favorable image of GMOs is going to be a hard sell, however, if they stir the image of the Zika virus in most people’s mind’s eye. The Zika virus may be one of those unforeseen risks of GMOs that Clinton thought was worth taking, which some think was caused by the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in Brazil.(3)
The insects were tuned by biotechnology to stop the spread of the dengue fever and other diseases in Brazil in 2012. These mosquitoes may have caused the antithesis of their intended effect. The Aedes aegypti mosquito sub-species, which carries the Zika virus and dengue, was targeted to be genetically modified.(3)
The intent was to release only one male Aedes mosquitoes into the wild where they would produce offspring with female mosquitoes harboring the virus. The offspring would then die before breeding because of GM coding in their genes.(3)
However, experts worried during the inception of the program that more studies needed to be conducted on the potential consequences of genetically modified mosquitoes. These precautions were ignored, which may have helped trigger the biggest threat to global health since the Ebola epidemic.(3)
Do we really want a president who has a proven track record of endorsing policies and methods which have created global catastrophe? As the Zika virus spreads through the bite of genetically engineered mosquitoes, it will be interesting to see if Clinton’s endorsement of GMOs will come back to bite her, like the Iraq war did.