GM Watch is "a little lie machine", Morris claims (9/3/2006)

Yesterday we ran a profile of the man behind the "gmoireland" blog and his claims to provide a non-partisan commentary on the GM food debate in Ireland.

Last night Shane Morris sent me an e-mail saying he'd enjoyed the profile but that he wished to offer some corrections of fact. He has made similar points to others - see below.

However, on his blog Morris has adopted a somewhat different tone, accusing me and GM Watch of an "unfounded attack", of "shoddy untruths", "lies", and "crappy research", and of operating "a little lie machine" funded by "an anti corporate foundation that helps aggressives campaigns to destroy biotech crop production worldwide"!

He rounds off his attack by saying that the JMG Foundation, from which GM Watch has received funding in the past, is named after the "late husband of the daughter of an anti-Irish English Viscount, the 8th Marquess of Londonderry (Londonderry in Northern Ireland is called Derry until the English occupiers renamed it!!)" This, Morris implies, means the forces of anti-Irish imperialism are once "again attacking the Irish!!!"

It's tempting to employ Dr Johnson's remark that, "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel", but below we content ourselves with taking a careful look at the list of "lies" and "shoddy untruths" that we stand accused of.

Jonathan Matthews
editor GM Watch daily



Note: GM-free Ireland received the following email from Shane Morris on the evening we posted [the GM Watch profile]:

"In reference to your posting in your headline section I feel you should know somethings: (sic)

Your information is incorrect based on the following facts:

1. I never studied at the University of Guelph 2. I own homes both in Ireland and Canada 3. CFIA is not part of Health Canada 4. I am only interested in the facts.

It is clear you are doing a dis-service to the Irish public if you fail to correct the information on your website I have suggested.

Thank you

GM WATCH comment:

To take these points one by one.

1. I never studied at the University of Guelph

This does seem to have been an error on our part. However, this bald statement by Morris hardly gets at the truth as it could easily leave the impression that Morris was never at the University of Guelph. In fact, he was there - working under Dr Douglas Powell. His status at Guelph is variously described as that of a "research assistant" or a "research associate" and it was his close association with Powell that we principally drew attention to as showing that Morris was far from being the non-partisan figure he presents himself as.

In other words, there is no doubt whatsoever that Morris worked extremely closely with Powell nor that he co-authored material with Powell that has been chracterised as aggressive propaganda. Nor is there any doubt that Powell's activities at Guelph have benefitted from the financial backing of the biotech industry. For more on Powell, see:

2. I own homes both in Ireland and Canada

We never said otherwise. We only said that where he was based was "a little unclear". We are still unclear about where Morris is principally based.

3. CFIA is not part of Health Canada

Morris is quite right to point this out but the substantive point remains. After his work at Guelph with Powell, Morris worked for CFIA, as our profile indicated, and the url that we provided made it clear that CFIA's reputation as a regulator - like that of Health Canada - is not non-partisan. To quote:

"What is it if not corrupt -- as in a perversion of its original state -- that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which in its original form was mandated to protect Canadians from unsafe food products, now has a mandate that trumps this important goal?

The CFIA now must promote the export of Canadian food products, again at the behest of industry. This institutionalized conflict of interest has played out just as you might expect. When Shiv Chopra, Margaret S. Haydon, and Gerard Lambert, scientists in the veterinary drugs directorate, who for years had dedicated themselves to protecting Canadians, tried to do their job they were harassed, threatened and eventually fired for it."

4. I am only interested in the facts.

We invite people to look at the blog and to consider this blogger's previous work with Powell at Guelph and to decide for themselves whether Shane Morris is, as he repeatedly claims, a non-partisan commentator on the GM debate.

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