French fried reactionary still hurting poor people (9/9/2006)

1.French Fried Reactionary Still Hurting Poor People
2.Rick Berman - a GM WATCH profile

GM WATCH COMMENT: The following item from the Center for Consumer Freedom is taken from the latest bulletin from CS Prakash's AgBioView.

Here's a taster:

"As Bove's detractors (otherwise known as "scientists") point out, genetically modified foods -- which grow faster and are more disease-resistant than their "natural" counterparts -- have saved millions of people from starving to death."

Any scientists who made such claims would be out and out liars. There is no evidence that GM plants "grow faster", let alone that they've ever saved anybody from "starving to death"!

The claim about GM saving "millions" is justified via a quote about the Green Revolution. And whatever its merits or otherwise, the Green Revolution involved conventional breeding and had nothing to do with GM.

So who's behind this misinformation? Thanks to a whistle blower, it's known that one of the biggest funders of this garbage is Monsanto, which has given $200,000 to those behind the Center for Consumer Freedom. http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=180

Find out more in item 2 below.

1.French Fried Reactionary Still Hurting Poor People
Center for Consumer Freedom, September 7 2006

Militant anti-biotechnology activist extraordinaire Jose Bove was back in action this weekend, leading hundreds of protestors in an invasion of a genetically-modified corn field in France on Saturday. Police arrived before the mob could completely destroy the crops and, after a brief scuffle, arrested three people. Bove, who rose to prominence in 1999 after he and his anti-everything confreres literally destroyed a McDonald's, escaped scot-free. But as he told the French press in a self-proclaimed move of solidarity with his captured brethren, "I act with my face uncovered, I take responsibility for my actions."

This sort of brazenly unapologetic rhetoric is typical of Bove, who justified this crime just like he has his others -- by claiming to have uncovered evidence of "genetic pollution" and a "risk of contamination" to nearby organic farms.

If that sounds like spin without any scientific basis, that's because it is. As Bove's detractors (otherwise known as "scientists") point out, genetically modified foods -- which grow faster and are more disease-resistant than their "natural" counterparts -- have saved millions of people from starving to death. As Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution, and former president Jimmy Carter wrote in a 2005 Wall Street Journal column:

"The Green Revolution, as this period came to be known in the developing world, has kept more than one billion people from hunger, starvation, and even death ... [A]t the core was the development and application of new high-yielding, disease- and insect-resistant seeds, new products to restore soil fertility and control pests, and a succession of agricultural machines to ease drudgery and speed everything from planting to harvesting."

Bove's neo-Luddite screeds and revolutionist posturing would be nothing more than a minor annoyance if they were confined to smoke-filled coffee shops and organic-only co-ops. But, as made evident by the recent tizzy over genetically-modified rice in the British food supply, anti-biotech forces have gained a substantial following. And, as noted by Borlaug and Carter, Western blockades of safe GM crops "impede its acceptance in most poor, food-insecure countries."

2.Rick Berman - a GM WATCH profile

Rick Berman is the owner of Berman & Company Inc., a public relations firm based in Washington DC which aggressively targets groups seeking to promote controls relating to alcohol, tobacco, food safety, animal rights or the environment.

According to Berman, 'Our offensive strategy is to shoot the messenger... Given the activists' plans to alarm beyond all reason, we've got to attack their credibility as spokepersons.'

Berman & Co. are behind the Center for Consumer Freedom , formerly known as the Guest Choice Network, known to have received a $200,000 donation from Monsanto. The Consumer Freedom campaign smears organic food as dangerous and promotes what it calls 'genetically improved food'.

Berman and his firm paint GM opponents as terrorists, asserting that 'anti-biotech extremists' are part of a 'growing wave of domestic terrorism'. They say the people we need to worry about are not just al-Qa'ida but 'the middle-class kids down the street.' (Terrorists On The March -- In America, USA Today)

Berman & Co. have even declared the charity of the British and Irish churches, Christian Aid, a 'far-left leaning' group that 'flat-out lies about GE foods', hiding 'behind a religious facade to more easily malign farmers, scientists, food companies, and even PR people who deal with GE foods.'.

Berman & Co's internet PR campaign also includes ActivistCash.com which claims to 'root out the funding sources' of 'the most notorious and extreme groups that conspire to restrict the public's food and beverage choices'. However, the Center for Media and Democracy says ActivistCash.com draws on information already largely public and mixes it with distortions and misinformation.

Curiously, Monsanto's $200,000 donation to Berman's PR activities only became public as a result of information from a whistle-blower. And Berman appears to take great exception to attempts to root out his own financial relationship with the various lobby organisations run by Berman & Co. He even threatened a lawsuit for defamation after attention was drawn to his 'funneling millions of corporate dollars - donated to non-profit organizations he runs - right into his own bank accounts. Berman pays himself the cash both directly and personally in the form of salary and benefits for his role as 'Executive Director,' as well as through payments he makes from the non-profits to his own corporation, Berman & Company, Inc., for 'consulting.' '

Berman was also implicated in a cash-for-favors scandal involving Newt Gingrich.

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