The launch of 'ASK-FARCE' - new pro-GM lobby group (6/7/2006)

1.The launch of 'ASK-FARCE' - GM Watch
2.'ASK-FORCE' Launched: To Promote Agricultural Biotechnology - Klaus Ammann

1.The launch of 'ASK-FARCE'

A new pro-Gm lobby group -'ASK-FORCE' - has just been launched by Prof. Klaus Ammann, the former Director of the Botanic Garden at the University of Bern. Ammann is the European equivalent of CS Prakash of AgBioWorld fame, ie a scientist whose enthusiasm for GM crops has turned him into a naked propagandist.

'ASK-FORCE' is apparently intended to expose "hidden agendas" and "confront" the critics of GM crops (dubbed "activists") over their misinformation, hoaxes and "scaremonger stories".

Given its supposed penchant for exposing "hidden agendas", we wonder why 'ASK-FORCE' does not explain in its launch document that:

*EFB, which is providing the organisational base for 'ASK-FORCE', has an extensive corporate membership.

*the financial backers of PRRI - the Public Research and Regulation Initiative with which 'ASK-FORCE' apparently intends to work closely, include Croplife International (the biotech industry's global federation) and the US Grains Council, which represents the interests of US producers and exporters of GM crops.

*the financial backers of Africa Harvest with which 'ASK-FORCE' also intends to work closely, also include Croplife International.

According to Ammann, "Within PRRI, Africa Harvest, the EFB and worldwide in other organizations there are a number of well known scientists, who - according to my encouraging contacts, are willing to help to build up a group of specialist who can anwer questions."

So perhaps we will be getting answers from the likes of the PANTS ON FIRE award-winning chief executive of Africa Harvest, Florence Wambugu. Wambugu is notorious for her extravagant hype and spin. Never one to over egg the pudding, Wambugu told New Scientist, "In Africa GM food could almost literally weed out poverty". In the journal Nature Wambugu wrote that biotechnology was the urgently needed answer to "famine, environmental degradation and poverty". In a Canadian newspaper she went one better, saying GM could pull "the African continent out of decades of economic and social despair".

Wambugu also claimed in the media that a GM sweet potato project she was fronting could increase yields in Kenya "from four tonnes per hectare to 10 tonnes." But this apparently massive improvement was a hoax. Both FAO and official Kenyan statistics indicate that conventional sweet potato yields in Kenya are already around 10 tonnes per hectare. Wambugu was massively understating conventional yields in order to make the GM crop look good. On top of that, the results of 3 years of trials eventually showed that non-GM sweet potatoes actually outyielded the GM ones the exact opposite of what Wambugu had been telling the world.

Or perhaps ASK-FORCE will have Willy de Greef - one of the prime movers behind PRRI and a Vice-Chair of its Steering Committee - answering our questions and confronting misinformation and hoaxes. In 2005 de Greef told an audience of producers and agribusiness representatives from across the United States that in relation to Zambia's rejection of GM food aid, there was a need to identify those responsible for the "outrage" and "tragedy" of having "children starve" rather than eat "genetically enhanced foods". De Greef told his audience, "you're talking about literally crimes against humanity."

But de Greef's literal "crimes against humanity" were another hoax. Not a single person died as a result of the Zambian government's decision to reject GM grain. De Greef simply rewrote history in order to try and create a compelling argument for GM crop adoption! (see 'Fake Blood on the Maize')

As ASK-FORCE is so keen to confront hoaxes, perhaps it could start with those perpetuated by its own experts.

For more on Klaus Ammann:


2.'ASK-FORCE' Launched: To Promote Agricultural Biotechnology

Prof. Klaus Ammann, former Director Botanic Garden, University of Bern, Switzerland

Friends, this is about the launch of the ASK-FORCE, a new initiative called ASK-FORCE to promote agricultural biotechnology. It will replace the Berne Debates witch I moderated from 1999 to 2005.

The new element in this effort is that it should be more interactive, this is why we have chosen a forum type of programme structure, where everybody as a member can log in and produce comments. I will carefully choose the topics, so that we do not just reproduce the avalanche of good and bad news poured everyday on cybernauts and print media readers.

I firmly believe that the there is progressive quality from INFORMATION to KNOWLEDGE - which eventually can mutate into WISDOM - in combination with EXPERIENCE. In order to avoid double postings, we arrange a steady cross checking of the mailing lists of EFB (4500) and ASK-FORCE (2700)

I encourage participants of the


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