|Re: GM PROPAGANDA LAB (27/3/2006)
We recently demolished Shane Morris's "get out of jail" card concerning the research paper he co-authored on consumer perceptions of GM and non-GM sweet corn.
In his book 'Secret Ingredients' (see below), the Canadian journalist, Stuart Laidlaw, reported a series of examples of gross bias in the way Morris's research was conducted. This included a sign that described the non-GM sweet corn to customers as "wormy"! Laidlaw's book included a photograph of this sign.
Morris's paper failed to make any mention of any of the biasing factors that Laidlaw identified. But Morris claimed in a response on his blog to have no knowledge of the "wormy" sign: "I wasn't even in the Country for your alleged "sign" fraud!!"
We pointed out that his own paper showed the research going on for weeks after he arrived in Canada and that his cv showed him as working with the lead researcher, Doug Powell, in the period in question
Having had that excuse blown out of the water, Morris has now produced his second "get out of jail" card. This time he says he has photographic evidence that shows "no misleading signs during the data collection period (see pic above)".
But when you look closely at the "pic above" on his blog, the image is at too low a resolution to allow you to read what the relevant sign above the non-GM sweet corn bin actually says!!!
Interestingly though, if you compare the sign in Morris's image to the one in the photograph in Laidlaw's book, you discover that the number of words, the length of lines etc. suggest that exactly the same notice may feature in both photographs!
If this is the case, then what Morris has done is put up a photo of the offending sign at such a low resolution as to render it unreadable while bragging that the photo shows there were no misleading signs!!!
So you can compare, the sign above the non-GM sweet corn bin in the photograph on page 89 of Laidlaw's book, reads as follows:
Would You Eat Wormy Sweet Corn?
[underlined] Regular Sweet Corn:
[inset] Insecticides: Carbofuran Sprayed 3X [inset under 'Carbofuran'] OR [inset to start under the 'C' of 'Carbofuran'] Bt Foliar Spray Sprayed 1X [inset] Fungicide: Bravo Sprayed Once; [inset] Herbicide & Fertilizer: 1 Application of Each.
[followed by three smaller lines of text - not inset]
To compare, look in Morris's image for the hand written sign above the 'Regular Sweet Corn' bin - to the right (as you look at the image) of the large central sign.
Now Morris can very easily disprove that the offending sign is in his photo. All he has to do is put the image on his blog at a high enough resolution to allow everyone to read the sign in question. Without doing that his photographic evidence is worthless.
But even if Morris produces a photo with "no misleading signs", we will still have no explanation - unless Morris provides one - of why Laidlaw saw and photographed the "wormy" sign during the several visits he made to the store during the course of the research.
The sign clearly existed. There is not only the photographic evidence but Laidlaw reports discussing it with Doug Powell. To quote from the book:
"I visited the model farm several times... From what I saw, it was hardly surprising that the GM corn outsold the conventional. The sign over the conventional corn read, "Would you eat wormy sweet corn?" It is the only time I have seen a store label its own corn "wormy"...
In an interview, Powell said he saw no problem with the "wormy" sign. "It was a rhetorical question," he said. Rhetoric aside, when one bin was marked "wormy corn" and another "quality sweet corn," it was hardly surprising which sold more."
And if Morris can produce a picture to show the "wormy" sign wasn't there all of the time during the research, then what exactly was going on? Did the researchers put up the "wormy" sign only on certain days - the ones when Laidlaw was visiting, presumably! - and put up entirely different signs on other days? Clearly any such arrangement should have been specified in Morris's paper.
In this context, Morris in his most recent statement on his blog makes the interesting assertion:
"No data from any such "signs" were included in publication data."
He also claims that there's lots of photographic evidence of "no misleading signs during the data collection period (see pic above)."
But what does this mean? That some of the sweet corn was sold with misleading signs but these sales didn't appear in the final tally of sales????
There is nothing in Morris's paper to suggest that, while the harvested GM and non-GM sweet corn were both available for sale, any sales were excluded from the final data. so what onearth is he suggesting?
Morris has also still failed to explain the other instances of bias that Laidlaw witnessed, such as Doug Powell deliberately setting out to influence a customer's views and purchasing decisions, and the fact that pro-GM fact sheets from industry lobby groups were made available to customers without any balancing literature.
Finally, Morris has issued us with a challenge: "If you are so sure of your "facts" remove your cowardly question mark ("award for a fraud?") and accuse me of fraud directly."
Unless Morris stops ducking and diving and being so economical with the truth, an