Freedom to lobby for GMOs (8/7/2007)

1.Freedom to lobby for GMOs
2.Controversy over claims in favour of GM corn
3.Conspiracy to Silence
1.Freedom to lobby for GMOs 

The following comment is from Joe Cummins, Professor Emeritus at the University of Western Ontario, in response to a letter sent to the Irish Times that noted:

"Shane Morris's attack on Jeffrey Smith's book Genetic Roulette‚ The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Modified Foods (Letters, June 29th) employs the 'shoot the messenger' strategy favoured by agri-biotech industry spin doctors who are no longer able to deny the growing scientific evidence which links GM food and animal feed to deaths and disease in laboratory animals, livestock and the human population.

Morris and his biotech colleague and mentor Doug Powell (a well-known GM industry lobbyist) have co-authored a number of pro-GMO papers, one of which received the GM Watch Propaganda Lab Award 2006 for its  [XXXXXXXXXX *]  scientific claims, triggering a controversy reported by New Scientist magazine." [see item 2]

It was Prof Cummins who drew the concerns about this research to the attention of the journal which had originally published Powell and Morris's paper.

Here Prof Cummins comments on the fact that Morris undertakes his attack-dog-for-GM role while being employed as a science bureaucrat within the Canadian civil service at Agriculture Canada. Canada, of course, has an obvious economic interest in undermining opposition to GMOs.

Cummins writes:

"I think it is worth reminding people that Shane is a bureaucrat in Agriculture Canada and his views are supported by that Ministry. It is very clear that the Canadian government hired Shane and promote him in the Ministry as a way of promoting GM crops. Shane's attacks may seem like sheer lunacy to most of us but the Canadian bureaucrats think that
he is brilliant in damaging the detractors of GM crops. I expect that they will hire other nationals who will attack those opposed to GM crops in their home countries."

Morris's freedom to lobby for GMOs certainly contrasts with the treatment handed out to those government scientists in Canada who've raised concerns about Monsanto's genetically engineered cattle drug rBGH and other drug approvals. For instance, in 2004 three senior Health Canada scientists were fired in what was widely seen as retribution for speaking out over health safety on issues like rBGH and, more generally, for failing to kow- tow to industry pressure.

While dissenting scientists are aggressively silenced (see item 3), Morris by contrast seems to have been given free rein.

[* The following is taken from the gmfreeireland website where the letter was originally posted:

"Background information (not included in the letter):

The deleted adjective used to describe the scientific paper has been censored following a threat of libel action by a Canadian Government agent called Shane Morris!"

READ ON at http://www.gmfreeireland.org/news/2007/jun.php#shane 
and at

2.Controversy over claims in favour of GM corn
New Scientist, issue 2553, 27 May 2006
A LEADING researcher into scientific ethics is calling for the withdrawal of a paper published in the British Food Journal two years ago purporting to show that consumers preferred genetically modified to non-GM sweetcorn. The study, carried out at a farm store in Canada, claimed that sales of the GM crop were 50 per cent higher. The journal later awarded the study a prize as its "most outstanding paper" of 2004.

Now the campaign group GM Watch has published a photograph that it says shows a large sign suspended above the non-GM corn during the study that asked: "Would you eat wormy sweetcorn?" The GM corn, it claims, was labelled as "quality sweetcorn". The paper (vol 105, p 700) claims that the corn was marked simply as either genetically engineered or regular.

If this is the case, "it is grounds for the journal to retract the article," says Richard Jennings, who studies research conduct at the University of Cambridge. Journal editor Chris Griffith of the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff has refused to withdraw the paper, but says he is willing to publish a letter condemning it followed by a response from the lead author, Doug Powell of Kansas State University.

[more on the research: http://www.lobbywatch.org/p1temp.asp?pid=72&page=1 ]
3.Conspiracy to Silence
by Richard Wolfson, PhD
Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition, March 2001

There is war at Health Canada. On one side of the battlefield stands Dr Shiv Chopra and other drug evaluators who firmly refuse to approve drugs of questionable safety. On the other side stands the Drug Directorate management–influenced by pharmaceutical companies who wish to facilitate a fast-track of drugs to market.

The battle erupted in 1998 with the evaluation of rBGH (genetically engineered bovine growth hormone). When rBGH is injected into dairy cattle, cows produce more milk. Chopra and other scientists uncovered research showing rBGH causes safety problems for animals and humans. Sparks flew when they would not approve the drug and the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry investigated the resulting commotion. The Committee called the scientists to testify. After hearing about the dangers of rBGH, the senators recommended that the drug not be approved–a decision Health Canada eventually agreed to.

The Health Canada scientists also told the Committee about other drugs of questionable safety that had been approved against their advice including growth hormones for animals that had been allowed even though the drugs were known to produce deformities in animals and were linked to cancer!

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