|Un-Spinning the Spin Masters on Genetically Engineered Food (12/1/2006)|
first 2 parts of an excellent Jeffrey Smith article - well worth reading in full.
Un-Spinning the Spin Masters on Genetically Engineered Food
Note from Jeffrey Smith
In September, 2005, the respected South African investigative magazine Noseweek ran a five-page interview with me that was described by a GMO campaigner as 'the hardest knock' that the country's biotech industry had ever taken from the media. To read the interview, go to the September 2005 issue of Spilling the Beans, at http://www.seedsofdeception.com/Public/Newsletter/Sept05Rammeddownourthroats/index.cfm
The following is the text of Lombard's letter, broken up so that I can respond to each accusation.
The shortened version that was published is available with graphics and photos at http://www.seedsofdeception.com/DocumentFiles/100.pdf
GMO FOOD SAFER THAN CONVENTIONAL
Allegations by Jeffrey Smith of 'dangers and health risks' to humans and animals posed by GMO food in the article: Rammed down our throats, noseweek, September 2005 are blatant lies. Shocking, misleading information with no substantiated scientific evidence.
What he failed to tell us is that his so-called 'best seller' book condemning GMO crops which he hawked around South Africa has not received the backing of any academy of science or medicine, any faculty of agriculture/science, or any agricultural research institute anywhere in the world.
Hans Lombard, a public relations man paid to 'hawk' GM foods around South Africa, provides a superb example of industry spin. He attacks so-called 'lies' and 'misleading information' using nonexistent safety tests that passed with flying colors, false attributions to national academies and unsupported safety claims. It is a pleasure to respond to these accusations.
'So-called 'best seller without 'backing'
Seeds of Deception is the world's bestselling book on GM foods and rated number one on the subject by the Ecologist. It documents attempted bribes, fired and threatened scientists, hijacked regulatory agencies, cover-ups, rigged research, and the ways in which industry manipulation and political collusion got genetically modified (GM) foods approved. It also explains why the foods threaten our health.
The revelations have had an impact. A master's thesis, for example, concluded that the book had a major influence on the passage of the first state regulation on GMOs in Vermont. A state representative said, 'It certainly colored every conversation in the Statehouse about GMOs. It was the subtext for everything after that, once it arrived.'
In the US, academic institutions don't 'back' books. The faculty use what they want. Even though Seeds of Deception is not an academic text book, it is assigned in several university classes, including Yale, where I spoke last year.
Substantiated scientific evidence
I asked a prominent German biologist, Christine von Weizsaecker, to write the foreword to my German edition. She explained that she couldn't put her name on anything in which the science isn't absolutely correct. She therefore analyzed the book in great detail, and then had another top biologist trace every quote to its original source, to make sure it wasn't used out of context. It passed inspection and she wrote the foreword.
Hawking my book
My visit to Southern Africa was to speak at conferences and to share information about GM foods with the public and political leaders. It was not about promoting my book, which wasn't even available in SA bookstores at the time. This sentence, however, is about hawking my book, which is now available through New Horizon distributors.
In response to only a few of his wild fear mongering and scientifically unproven allegations, here are the facts:
*GM crops are not adequately tested for safety.
Quite the contrary. In fact no agricultural crop in history has been subjected to such stringent scientific and medical tests. GMO crops have passed these tests with flying colours.
The European Commission conducted 81 scientific research tests over a period of 15 years and costing R640 million. It concluded: 'GM food is both safe for humans and the environment. Biotech crops may even be safer than conventional food.'
After in-depth research by a panel of leading scientists, the Royal Scientific Society of London stated: 'There is no serious threat or even existence of any potential environmental harm or human health hazards in GM food.' Eight academies of science - Brazil, China, India, Mexico, the Third World Academy, National Academy of Science US, Germany, France and the Royal Canadian Society - concurred.
The British Medical Association says there is very little potential for GM foods to cause harmful effects.
Stringent tests, 81 studies
The European Commission had funded 81 projects on GMOs, not conducted. As of 2001, when this count was made, most were in progress but not yet published. An analysis of all peer-reviewed animal f