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Big Conservation Group Suppresses Criticism Of GM

Big Conservation Group Suppresses Criticism Of GM

The Royal NZ Forest & Bird Protection Society is (last time I checked) the world's largest conservation group, as a proportion of the host nation population. Here is evidence that this group is using wrongful methods to suppress informed discussion about GM.

Operatives of some influence in F&B include gene-tampering enthusiasts such as A. R. Bellamy. We may infer that the censorship detailed below was done on their behalf, in part at least, by the person criticised (tho' not named) in the letter - the declaredly ignorant Peter Maddison.

This sordid suppression is little better than we have become accustomed to in the NZ Herald, NZ Lessener, etc - unworthy of any decent conservationist magazine.

One subtle evidence of the suppressive editress (one Helen Bain)'s bias is her deletion of my inverted commas in the term genetic 'engineering'. Even more subtle is her swapping, like most recent Yanks and Pacific Ecologist editress Kay Weir, the punctuation marks at the end of the first sentence, implying that I can't write proper English. She was really getting down to detail, with malign intent!

Ms Bain did not add anywhere 'abridged', or 'edited', let alone 'censored', so readers are left with the impression that the letter is as I wrote it. Her general statement nearby about letters does not say 'letters may be abridged'.

The whole letter was 281 words, which admittedly exceeds the 200-word limit now declared in the Aug issue. But the censored version is only 131 words, so space can hardly be the reason for much of the purging. It is downright suspicious, as well as biased, that Ms Bain refused even to include the 11-word (< 2 lines) sentence Good places to begin education on it are www.psrast.org and www.ucsusa.org, preferring instead to leave 2 lines blank, wasted, immediately below what remained of the letter. She also split para 1 into two, wasting space.

It was bad enough when a corrupt Royal Commission distorted the facts about gene-tampering. But this is one stage worse - a conservation organisation suppressing, by dishonest methods, information & argument against GM.

Letter to the editor
'Forest & Bird'30-5-08
Our magazine performs a valuable service by compiling (May 08) '20 Conservation questions that really count this election'. Some of the questions are well known but deserve more political prominence. Others are little known; if members spotlight MPs' ignorance of them, conservation will be assisted.

However, it is disappointing that F&B staff do not rank anywhere in the 'top 20' the threats from gene-tampering (commonly called genetic 'engineering').

This blind spot is reminiscent of that shameful era when F&B actually advocated nuclear power (on the stated ground that it would prevent some dams). This ignorant advocacy appalled many, and I for one refused to join F&B in those days for this reason.

Three decades later, the then president of F&B proposed that an experienced expert should represent F&B at hearings of the Royal Commission on genetic manipulation. The national executive responded to his motion by appointing instead a person who cheerfully admitted he knew very little about the subject. As a result, F&B was not notable among the parties to that travesty.

Gene-tampering is viewed by many knowledgeable scientists as a major threat to the biosphere. It is a great shame that, for reasons never yet stated, our current executive and now our 'top 20 political questions list' fail to reflect this concern.

Just as F&B came to oppose nuclear power, so too the organisation must take a vigorous stand against genetic 'engineering'. Good places to begin education on it are www.psrast.org and www.ucsusa.org. I look forward to the day when F&B's own website will offer reliable information on this exceedingly important theme.

Robert Mann
Tarihunga Point


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