By Julie Mellor-Trupp
I’ve been obsessed with good health and nutrition since I was a teenager. As a young mom, I did everything possible to ensure my kids’ good health. I chose organic and natural foods, and used all-natural remedies, pesticides, and cleansing agents – only the best. My guidebooks were the myriad of materials provided by health gurus, celebrities and yoga instructors.
Then I discovered Facebook. I joined some health groups, and learned about evil corporations like Monsanto, which was trying to poison both us and the environment with dangerous pesticides and GMOs.
My mission was clear: I needed to inform the world of these terrible things.
I was well into my first few months of this commitment when one new member in an anti-Monsanto group suddenly chose me as his mentor, asking for all I knew.
He questioned endlessly, I answered. He questioned my answers. He forced me to search for ever more information.
It got tiresome and I started throwing in links without even reading them. I just ‘knew’ that they were good links; the headlines all matched my views. He read them all – and questioned me sentence by sentence. That meant I had to actually read everything I had shared, and found to my surprise that half of the links that I had provided went against everything I believed.
I started asking a lot of questions myself on my favourite forums, seeking evidence for claims that, days before, I had merely ingested as facts.
I soon found out any challenge to a claim on anti-GMO sites had me being called a shill for Monsanto and permanently removed. I realized that by stifling all challenges and silencing dissent, group members forced others to fall in line, mindlessly and unquestioning. I was shocked that my months as a ‘good member’ meant nothing to people who had now turned against me, merely for asking for evidence of their claims.
Fortunately, I found Facebook forums where I wasn’t yelled at whenever I questioned someone’s post on the subject of food and GMOs. I even joined sites that weren’t anti-GMO, wanting to know how ‘they’ could believe in this terrible unnatural technology.
I’ve learned to respect the views of people who had been educated on subjects about which I was concerned – for example, farmers, biotechnologists and, yes, even those who work for Monsanto. I recognized that some celebrity actor knows no more about science than do I – and shouldn’t have as much influence on public opinion as a university-educated professional.
I even found organic farmers who support GMOs for a sustainable future.
I have come to realize that biotechnologists and farmers are not evil, paid-off or misguided. They kiss their babies before leaving for work and strive to make a better world like the rest of us.
I’ve realized the harm that comes from being uncritical.That those who aren’t speaking from a position of knowledge or education CAN hurt my family – by not vaccinating children, by controlling what is taught in schools, and by lobbying governments into making wrong decisions.
I’ve come to realize that people don’t have a right to their own facts, and that there aren’t always two equal sides to a story.
To ‘pay it forward,’ I now run several fact-based Facebook sites.I try to help others who are confused and fearful about current agricultural practices, as well as other controversial topics like vaccines, pesticides, chemicals and media’s often-misinformed portrayal of scientific research.
I’m every bit as committed to good health as I was as a teenager and young mom, but I’ve learned so much about what really constitutes truth, and what represents distorted propaganda for other agendas.
Julie Mellor-Trupp and her family live near Toronto, Canada.