Prakash's pro-GM list receives contributions from the principal organic slanderers - Dennis and Alex Avery and their many supporters, including Europeans who have perpetuated their false statements eg Julian Morris of the IEA, etc. The dubious attacks of the organic slanderers have been repeatedly exposed as bogus - see: http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/organic.htm
Let's slow down and rethink how safe biotech food is
Industry wants you to believe, but there are reasons to doubt
By Paul Goettlich For the Journal and Courier
COMMENTARY: THE FOOD WE EAT
The Lafayette Journal Courier (Lafayette, IN) [no date given]
The world's multinational biotech corporations are presently an all-out, no-holds-barred war, and have cast the world's safety to the wind in exchange for their own short-term profits.
To fight this unholy war, they've armed lobbyists and pro-spin-doctors with untold millions of dollars. One small example according to The Wall Street Journal. is a $50 million ad campaign that attempts to shape U.S. attitudes toward genetically enhanced (GE) crops. As the chief financial influence at universities, their money has critically eroded the integrity of scientific research. Prominent scientists relentlessly insist ties to industry be severed to maintain the integrity of science.
As a result of fortunes lubricating the revolving door between -industry, government and research, GE industries conduct their own tests and inform regulators of their results when, how and if they feel like it. Nearly unregulated, they do no long term testing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed GE crops to go mostly untested. Corporate truth in biotechnology is an oxymoron. Similar to tobacco and asbestos industries, they withhold in formation, bribe, bully and like. And when the jig is up, they too will hide behind corporate bankruptcy laws as protection from individuals they've injured.
GE corn contains Bt genes (a pesticide) in every cell, from tassel to root. The FDA doesn't consider Bt a food additive, but defines it as a pesticide - not just the Bt, the whole corn plant. And as a pesticide, it's not subject to FDA labeling, testing or regulation. The EPA regulates it as a pesticide using much less stringent rules than FDA must use to regulate food. It doesn't exactly test for safety as a human food, but thinks that if the original corn is safe and the Bt protein added to it is safe, then the whole package is safe. Have you had any popped pesticide lately? Oops, I mean popcorn. Even GE crops that FDA regulates are done so on a voluntary basis. Companies decide themselves whether to consult FDA thanks to Dan Quayle and the 1192 Bush administration's campaign for regulatory relief.
Sins of corporate research
Many geneticists criticize corporately funded GE food research as using flawed, linear reasoning applied to a multidimensional interconnected network of genes, cells, whole organisms and environment, the relationships of which are incalculable by today's best scientists. Inserting genes into DNA is not only exceedingly inaccurate; it renders unforeseen consequences, such as transmission of pesticide-resistance to surrounding weeds, allergic reactions, failed crops, the Taco Bell mix-ups, and now, according to UK government sources, GE cotton that can make gonorrhea untreatable.
Most corporate leaders haven't learned that no matter how much wealth is squandered, or how many lives controlled, that they, their spouses and their children must drink the same water, breathe the same air and eat the same food as the rest of us.
Given time to understand the yet unexplained interconnectedness of all that surrounds them, how intricate and boundless their ties to every thing are, they wouldn't be releasing inadequately tested GE crops into the environment at the present break-neck pace. What's the answer to our dilemma of whether to use pesticides or GE crops? Arguing that GE crops are better than pesticides misses the point by light years. Neither should be used. Large-scale industrial farming of the green revolution is quite unsound. Gigantic plots of widely spaced, monoculture crops are open invitations to pestilence, while pesticides and fertilizers create cancers, reproductive, developmental and behavioral problems. Plus they've destroyed millions of acres of soil and ruined many communities' water.
A failed 'savior'
Sensing the imminent demise of pesticides, corporate think tanks elected GE crops as savior of their profits. To be sure, the green revolution's purpose never was to feed people, it was to create corporate wealth in total contempt for all else. One overtly exploited justification is that we need GE crops to feed the world's growing population. But while the United Nation estimated the Earth's output would feed 9 billion if distributed equitably, there are only 6 billion people inhabit the earth today. We should only be concerned with the reasons for hunger rather than treating the symptoms with GE crops.
Organic is better
The answer is crystal-clear: small organic farms. They're environmentally sustainable, something that biotech incorrectly boasts. And they're economically sustainable, something that biotech would like to boast. The smallest U.S. farms, those under 27 acres, have more than 10 times greater dollar output per acre than larger farms. Organic farming is one of the fastest-growing segments of U.S. agriculture.
Certified organic cropland more than doubled from 1992 to 1997, and two organic livestock sectors -eggs and dairy grew even faster. Sustainable farming, once dismissed as the pastime of idealists, has grown into a business worth some $7.3 billion a year in the European Union and around $15.6 billion worldwide. This type of responsible use of our environment produces significant benefits for all of society.
Goettlich, a California resident, is a former member of the Hoosier Environmental Council board of directors.