Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

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


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Reese Erlich: Foreign Correspondent: Trump Plays Both Sides Against The Middle

Is he a hawk? Is he a peacenik? The President keeps us guessing . By Reese Erlich President Donald Trump has convinced Republican isolationists and hawks that he supports their views. That’s a neat trick, since the two groups hold opposing positions. ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Waiting For The Old Bailey: Julian Assange And Britain’s Judicial Establishment

On September 7, Julian Assange will be facing another round of gruelling extradition proceedings, in the Old Bailey, part of a process that has become a form of gradual state-sanctioned torture. The US Department of Justice hungers for their man. The More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Sorry Plight Of The International Education Sector

Tourism and international education have been two of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. They’re both key export industries. Yet the government response to them has been strikingly different. There has been nothing beyond a few words of ministerial condolence and a $51.6 million package (details below) to get the sector through the pandemic...
More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Google’s Open Letter: Fighting Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code

Tech giants tend to cast thin veils over threats regarding government regulations. They are also particularly concerned by those more public spirited ones, the sort supposedly made for the broader interest. Google has given us an example of this ... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Trump’s Current Chances Of Re-Election

By now it seems clear that National have no fresh ideas to offer for how New Zealand could avoid the Covid-19 economic crisis. As in the past, National has set an arbitrary 30% ratio of government debt to GDP that it aims to achieve “in a decade or so,” ... More>>

The Conversation: Rogue Poll Or Not, All The Signs Point To A Tectonic Shift In New Zealand Politics

Richard Shaw AAP(various)/NZ Greens (CC-BY-SA)/The Conversation Strong team. More jobs. Better economy. So say the National Party’s campaign hoardings. Only thing is, last Sunday’s Newshub-Reid Research poll – which had support for the Labour ... More>>

The Coronavirus Republic: Three Million Infections And Rising

The United States is famed for doing things, not to scale, but off it. Size is the be-all and end-all, and the coronavirus is now doing its bit to assure that the country remains unrivalled in the charts of infection . In time, other unfortunates may well ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>