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GM PR Spreading Falsehoods Thicker & Faster

GM PR Spreading Falsehoods Thicker & Faster


By Robert Mann

The 10-11-03 rave on Scoop 'GE witch hunts ' by Lance Kennedy, also promulgated by the NZ "Life Sciences" propaganda agency, sets new records for misleading promotion of GM food (GMF). Here I correct some of Lance Kennedy's worst errors.

" ... in recent years one of the most successful witch-hunts targeted an innocent technology. It all began in 1997 with a piece of incredibly shoddy science." Kennedy omits to mention that this work, by British experts Ewen & Pusztai, was published in "The Lancet". Kennedy's purported summary of the results is thoroughly misleading. Actually, Pusztai's preliminary mention on TV of his results was largely ignored at the time by the media. The facts of the case have been widely published; see e.g.

http://nature.berkeley.edu/pulseofscience;
http://plab.ku.dk/tcbh/Pusztaitcbh.htm ;
http://www.psrast.org/pusztai.htm ;
and the WEBCAST Dec 10 http://webcast.berkeley.edu/events.

Kennedy asserts "The GM potatoes were harmless ... All raw potatoes, GM or not, are toxic to rats." This is thoroughly false. Rats generally thrive OK on raw (or cooked) potatoes; and the Ewen/Pusztai tests showed specific harm to those eating a particular GM-potato, harm not found in the control rats eating Desiree (the parent strain). Kennedy shows no regard for fact.

Kennedy asserts all government approved GM crops and foods "are totally safe". Not one for moderation, is he? The simple, big lie beloved of Goebbels is his stock-in-trade. The truth is that only a handful of short-term animal tests have been conducted on GM foods - Pusztai's being still among the best. Medical observation of humans eating GM foods has been shunned by governments. A colossal unmonitored ill-planned experiment is being permitted.

When Kennedy says "Americans have been eaten [varieties of GM-food] for years with no harm", this cannot be proven, since no studies have been done to compare the health of the dupes with that of otherwise similar populations not eating GMF. Lack of evidence is not proof of safety.

Kennedy's version of the experience to date is: "over 2 billion people have eaten GM foods for over a decade and there is not one single scientifically confirmed case of any harm, no matter how slight, arising from the genetic modification of these foods".

It would be misleading to exclude food supplements from such a statement. Indeed, the Showa Denko GM-tryptophan probably killed a few hundred and injured thousands: see http://www.connectotel.com/gmfood/trypto.html.

Are GMFs useful? Kennedy's answer is in his usual vein of extremism: "Absolutely". Not even moderately? In fact, hardly at all. In a typical GM-fantasy, Kennedy says GM sweet potatoes in Africa will feed an extra ten million starving Africans. How will they afford it (poverty being the main reason why the present surplus of food is not reaching the starving) ?

Kennedy rolls out a common PR deceit: "Golden rice is a GM variety with extra vitamin A. It has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of children from going blind."

The content of pro-vitamin A in this yellow rice is too low to make much difference at any feasible rice-ingestion rate. And far better ways of getting vitamin A, along with many other nutrients e.g folate, are known: green vegetables grown by gardening.

"Some proponents suspect this is because Golden rice is especially useful and if it were seen to have dramatic benefits it would undermine the entire anti-GM crusade." If this rice had indeed proven useful, which is not the case, that conclusion would apply to that 'event' only. All other GMF would remain to be appraised.

Kennedy says "anti-GM lobby groups ... increased their earnings from under $50 million to over $150 million US per year". I have no idea where such figures come from, but judging by the lurid falsehoods with which Kennedy makes so reckless, he is most likely making these up.

The idea that any of those working for control of GM have got much money from it is without foundation to the best of my knowledge. Those I know work for little or nothing.

More offensively, Kennedy says these unnamed groups "rely upon lies, wild speculation and emotionalistic propaganda". This is a classic of the very important human characteristic (recognised if under-rated by Freud) PROJECTION. Kennedy is attributing to others what are in fact the main mental characteristics of his own subculture - PR for GM.

"Anti-GM witch-hunters are causing enormous human suffering." Again we see Kennedy's habit of projection, unjustly accusing others of spreading "fear & paranoia" while it is he who does so.

Kennedy's paroxysm reaches white heat in this assertion: "Much damage has already been done and the lives of thousands have been lost by these ill advised attacks". No basis has been suggested for this wild claim. Even the pro-nuclear fanatics were rarely this reckless with the truth.

Kennedy's extremely misleading rant was "provided as a public service by the Institute for Liberal© Values". It is one of the most inaccurate pieces of propaganda I have ever seen.

For more information we are told to "contact peron@orcon.net.nz". What a charming sobriquet! Neither Juan nor Eva would be admired by most decent folk.

Kennedy predicts: "From now on we can expect to see the rational elements growing stronger". The media will have to tell a lot more truth about GM crops If such a welcome trend is to emerge, increasing the resistance to GM crops.

GM includes some valuable techniques in contained laboratories. But it also includes the most dangerous technology ever. These techniques are in their infancy. The Prince of Wales, and the Sustainability Council, led by many careful scientists, are correct in urging "keep it in the lab".

*********

- Robert Mann, consultant ecologist, Papamoa


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