All-Natural Wool!! (Over My Eyes)
I’m not the type of mom who usually votes (intentionally) with my dollar. I tend to purchase products for my family based on value, taste, preference, and frugality. Only in rare instances do I feel self-important enough to boycott a product.
That said, a lot of the most common and conventional products in my consumption-driven life are starting to get on my nerves. For example, the tried and true kid favorite pictured here.
Really? We can breathe a sigh of relief now that Cheerios are presumably GMO free. I won’t get into the details of GM technology, but IMO if someone doesn’t comprehend at least the basics of transcription, translation, and protein synthesis and function, s/he doesn’t have sufficient understanding to justify an inherently anti-GM stance. (Anti-Monsanto is one thing, anti-GM is another.)
Enough rambling. The point I’m trying to make is that the Appeal to Nature mentality is saturating product marketing to a level unseen in decades. Don’t let the “All-Natural Wool!!” be pulled over your eyes so easily.
For instance, I’ve been buying these unscented baby wipes since my oldest was born. Only recently has the package been emblazoned with “Made with Botanic™ Fibers.” Botanic Fibers are a proprietary, biodegradable, sustainable wood fiber. I’m all for biodegradable and sustainable. On the other hand, I’m totally horrified by the innocent masses slowly being conditioned to believe that natural is better.
This is a slow, circular, and vicious cycle. It begins with marketers selling products with logos and slogans essentially saying, “buy me, I’m all-natural, so I must be good for you and your delicate family!” At the same time, an unsuspecting young woman is inundated with her friend gushing about her favorite natural remedy, and letting her slather on her newest Burt’s Bees hand cream.
Slowly but surely, she is convinced that natural is better. The greenwashing doesn’t end there. She doesn’t want an epidural in childbirth because it might lead to the dreaded Cascade of Interventions monster. She wants to keep her children and community healthy, but gods forbid she vaccinate them. After all, so-called “natural immunity” has got to be better than injecting scary chemicals into those pure little bodies. She wants to stay at her promising job, but puts her career trajectory on hold to avoid formula at all costs and breastfeed (I’m guilty of this. See how pervasive the thinking is?)
Not only does the mentality affect the average suburban mom. The greater good suffers when test fields of potentially world-changing golden rice are vandalized before even entering the testing phase. The greater good suffers when herd immunity is broken by the anti-vaccine movement. The greater good suffers when beneficial medications for mental health are stigmatized.
Personally, I’ve had enough. I can’t blame corporations for minding their bottom line. But let’s think before we jump to conclusions about nature. Nature will bite you in the ass without blinking twice. Let’s not be held to an arbitrary standard of doing more with less. Let’s release the dread of judgement from peers. Let’s understand the wisdom in trusting experts who devote decades and collective centuries of education and systematic exploration to learning about a field of science. Let’s not succumb to illusions of grandeur that tens of hours of googling constitute “research” and “education.”
I, for one, am thankful for modern medicine and technology. I love my favorite all-natural pure Icelandic wool sweater, but I keep that thing far away from my eyes.
This is great. I live in San Francisco and if you say anything about GMO’s that isn’t 100% negative, well, people go crazy.
Also, I have to say that I have really enjoyed all of your posts so far. Thanks!
I am really not sure about crops that produce their own pesticide, especially without any long-term studies on the environmental effects. It is way less predictable, stays there all the time, and you can’t really go and change your mind once they are out. But these are environmental concerns, from the point of a biologist.
OMG, that Hippy Salt is fantastic. How did you find it??
Basically, “insect pest resistance” means that the plant produces a protein that is toxic to the insect pest. I know about tobacco (http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1987Natur.328…33V%EF%BF%BD%C3%9C%EF%BF%BD%C3%9C) and potato strains (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00014938) that have this gene, corn for sure (there was a huge debate about its EU legislation), wikipedia just says “many other crops”, but this article seems to have a long list, already from 1998: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168945297002392.
Main problem is, no one has actually tested how non-target insects are affected or whether the toxin accumulates in the soil or not… Probably it does. A biologist who worked on the legislation of GMOs used to give courses at my uni, and she mentioned pilot studies that indicated loss of protected insects, but I don’t have any reference for that.
vvvv has a point. But plants create their own “pesticides” (even without human intervention) to protect against natural predators*. Humans who traditionally breed plants can create plants though that are highly mutagenic.** That’s way more dangerous than the precision of a well known and safe pesticide targeting a very specific pest in a specific part of the plant. If safety and predictability is your concern, stick with precision breeding (GMO).
*Dietary pesticides (99.99% all natural). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2217210
** Ames Test – Carcinogens and Natural foods – YouTube http://ow.ly/y8Tll
phythagroeancrank and vvv – True. Thanks for bringing my attention back to this comment. I think I’ve changed my internal terminology. I didn’t used to think of “naturally” occurring proteins with anti-pest properties as “pesticides” per se, but you’re right in that they are functionally similar or the same.
“If safety and predictability is your concern, stick with precision breeding (GMO).” Absolutely!
I feel like I want to boycott anything that says organic on it. I already don’t buy organic because it’s too pricey. Every time I see the “non-GMO” or “organic” on front of package it feels like they are promoting ignorance. I think people should use the science to help and that GMOs have a potential to save the world from hunger. People should learn real science without appeal to nature and fear-mongering. That being said, if there was a product I really needed and the only two choices were “organic” and “non-GMO” and nothing else, I would pick “non-GMO”. This would happen because a “non-GMO” product can still be a conventionally farmed one that doesn’t follow the organic rules. And pro-organic people hate conventional farming.