Wormy corn scientists' claims "untrue", expert concludes (8/9/2007)

There's been an important development in the controversy over the 'wormy' sweet corn study undertaken by Doug Powell, Shane Morris and others.

Tim Lambert, a lecturer in the School of Computer Science and Engineering of The University of New South Wales, has meticulously analysed two pictures that supposedly prove that the controversial 'Would you eat wormy sweet corn?' sign - placed above the bin of non-GM corn during the study - was taken down early on in the research.

Lambert has now published his findings on his science blog. He concludes that the pictures, which are supposed to show the wormy corn sign had gone from the farm store, in fact show the exact opposite - that the wormy corn sign was never removed.

Lambert writes, '...look at the picture that Powell provided of the display. To the right is a closer view of the sign that was above the regular corn. It's a bit blurry, but you can see that it says 'Would you eat wormy sweet corn?'. I've overlaid it with Laidlaw's picture of the [wormy corn] sign. You can switch between them if you roll your mouse over the image (provided you have Javascript on your browser). The match is perfect.'

Shane Morris posted exactly the same picture as Powell on his blog with the comment, 'There are lots of pictures and video footage of the store that show no misleading signs during the data collection period (see pic above).'

Morris also posted one other image on his blog which he said showed the wormy corn sign was not up 'by the time I was employed at the University of Guelph'. But, after analysing one of the signs visible in this picture, Lambert's conclusion - 'Yes, it's the 'wormy corn' sign'.

This image also bears a date - 9.27.2000 - the same date that Dr Rod MacRae told us he had seen the wormy corn sign at the store: 'I can state categorically that the sign was there...'

Shane Morris is on record as saying that he was also at the farm store on 27 September 2000 but that, 'I never saw any such misleading 'signs'... I wasn't even in the Country for your alledged (sic) 'sign' fraud!!'

Andrew Apel has summarised the researchers' position, 'What the opponents of Powell's work pointedly failed to mention is that after the first week of the study the signs they complained about were taken down. Only then did the formal data-gathering phase begin...'

But after carefully studying both the images produced in support of these claims, Lambert concludes, 'I think that science would have been better served if Powell and Morris had acknowledged the flaws in their study rather than making untrue statements about the 'wormy corn' sign being removed.'


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