No justification for GM foods (3/7/2003)

Doug Powell runs the pro-GM Agnet list (funders include Monsanto Canada, Croplife Canada, Syngenta Seeds Canada, Inc., Syngenta Crop Protection, DuPont Canada, Inc., etc. etc.)

His research at Birkbank Farms claims to have shown that consumers will often choose GM foods in preference to pesticide contaminated produce. But the sweetcorn in question had had multiple applications of a particularly toxic pesticide not allowed on sweetcorn in the USA, though allowed in Canada.

When pesticide expert Dr Chuck Benbrook heard the details of the experiment, he commented:

"Sweetcorn sprayed THREE TIMES WITH CARBOFURAN -- give me a break, I can hardly believe three applications are legal in Canada. Furdadan is one of the most toxic pesticides on the market; no way in a million years is it even close to safe to apply it to sweetcorn, especially post-emergence. I find it hard to believe three applications were made pre-plant. Did the good professor Powell provide shoppers data on the acute toxicity of carbofuran, the fact that the corn was almost certainly not safe for pregnant women or children to eat? I doubt it. Is this what "sound science" Canada style has come to? Please pardon me for the... added commentary, but I suspect some readers of the list are unaware how bad carbofuran is and how unimaginable it is that three applications would be applied to sweetcorn intended for human consumption."

Nice choice.
No justification for GM foods
June 25, 2003
Guelph Mercury [Canada, via Agnet]

Bradford Duplisea of Hull, QC, writes regarding, "Hard sell needed to move genetically modified crops, professor says," (The Guelph Mercury, June 13) to say that he doesn't know what is more disheartening. The fact that Canadians are being force-fed unnatural, untested genetically modified (GM) food, or how pro-biotech academics try to justify it. Take, for example, the comments from Douglas Powell, a supporter of the food biotech industry.

Powell, who for years has been fighting against the mandatory labelling of GM food (that 90 per cent of Canadians desire), told the Mercury that research at Birkbank Farms in Hillsburgh "overwhelmingly" shows that consumers are open to buying GM corn.

Mercury readers might be interested to know that the biotech company Monsanto was generous in helping pay Powell's way through university (to the tune of $40,000).

Mercury readers might also be interested to know that the 'research' at Birkbank Farms to which Mr. Powell refers was in fact in part funded by the pro-biotech Ontario government and the food biotech industry.

One of the principal funders of the Birkbank charade is the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI). These financial facts would have put Powell's rant in perspective.

When asked about consumer concerns about the effects of GM food on human health, Powell stated that no medical problems have "popped up."

A child could spot how ludicrous this claim is. With no mandatory labelling and therefore no traceability through the Canadian food system it is scientifically impossible to monitor the health effects of GM food.

The reality is no one knows whether GM food is safe for people or the ecosystem.

None of these unnatural foods have undergone chronic (long-term) testing. This is fact. Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency don't even do any testing -- the biotech industry does its own 'testing.'

Government regulators simply 'review' the industry's data. Canadians, including concerned academics like Prof. Ann Clark, aren't even allowed to inspect the industry's 'data' (until it is released by the industry) because it is classified as "confidential business information."

The Royal Society of Canada was very critical of this in its recent report on GM food: "There is no means of determining the extent to which these information requirements are actually met during the approval process, or of assessing the degree to which the approvals are founded on scientifically rigorous information." It is intellectually dishonest to suggest that consumers support GM food -- or that it GM food is safe.

Duplisea says that he believes Powell has clearly abandoned science in his pursuit of promoting the food biotech industry.


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