The Atlantic Got a Bit Sloppy on Science, and Science Won

The Atlantic published an alarmist story yesterday morning trying to link a Chinese study from last year about small RNA molecules passing from plants to humans to the “need” to ring the alarm bells when it comes to GMO food toxicity (if the food in question is even “toxic”).

Thankfully, Emily Willingham and others were paying attention, and she called The Atlantic and the author on their errors (I highly suggest reading her original comments and her full response here). Thanks to her criticism, the author is correcting and re-writing the story

The author, Ari Levaux, clearly doesn’t understand what miRNAs are, what they do, where they come from, or really any of the basic science involved in the study he mentioned. So why was he allowed to misappropriate that to attack Monsanto? There’s plenty of reasons to attack Monsanto, and most are good. But when you just completely whiff on the science, you are going to get called out.

Good on Emily for doing so, and good to hear that because of her calm, careful criticism the piece will get re-written. Hopefully with more attachment to reality. It’s not about defending GMOs or nitpicking on the science. It’s about knowing what you are talking about before you publish an alarmist story.

I could make a comment here about our need for actual scientists doing the science writing, but you know how that goes.