Vote for talking, not fighting

The T-shirt design and manufacturing site Threadless is hosting a T-shirt design contest, sponsored by Jeffrey Smith – to design and vote for an anti-genetic engineering shirt that will eventually be produced to support his organization. However, the theme of this contest is “Food Fight”, and if the contest entries are any indication of what kind of dialog this perspective encourages, this can only harm civil discourse. However, one entry in my mind rises above the rest, and that is this one:

The 1st Rule of GMOs: You Should talk about GMOs. I think this is exactly right no matter what your perspective is on this topic. Please take a moment to register for Threadless, and vote on this entry. I recommend giving it a 5!

The issue of genetic engineering in agriculture needs more people sanely talking about it, not trying to start “food fights.” This entry looks like the only one that really seeks to promote discussion, whereas others promote violence (between food groups to start with), misunderstandings, and extreme views. Take a look at some of the competition:

A familiar concept – one example of how dislike for genetic engineering can get extreme. Not only wound up like dynamite, but also radioactive – I hope it bombs so it doesn’t lead to more explosive dialog.

One of the many half-plant half-animal depictions of GE crops – this time a scorpion-tomato. The entry claims that this exists, however our own reader C Radar points out that this is probably a myth.

Another one of the many literal food fight designs that showed up in the contest.

Now this one deserves its own separate analysis for its implications and motivations. Apparently a project intended for humanitarian purposes is not only an invasion, but also an invasion of slant-eyed yellow-skinned enemies to be fought off by round-eyed white-skinned heroes. As Jon Stewart would say about this kind of crossfire – Stop. You’re hurting us.

If you register to vote in this contest, you can thumb through all the entries and vote down the really objectionable ones. Too bad that 1 is the lowest score you can give! I am genuinely interested to see what exactly gets voted up in this contest, and I hope for the sake of the public discourse that the end result is not too bad.

Makes me think we need to design a T-shirt that provokes thought and dialog, without provoking a fight.

Follow Karl Haro von Mogel:
Karl earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at UW-Madison, with a minor in Life Science Communication. His dissertation was on both the genetics of sweet corn and plant genetics outreach. He recently moved back to his home state of California. His favorite produce might just be squash.