We recently ran an article on the dubious mindset and spin of pro-GM scientists - "Genetically Modified Language - Professor Bullsh*t unspun!"

This triggered several niminations for Bull***t awards, including one for the scientist featured in the article below, Dr Jim Peacock.

The nominee told us: "Jim Peacock is a pretty special case. He has been running the line that 30 billion GE meals have been eaten in the US with

no evidence of ill-effect - a line that is now being repeated as fact (at least here). He is in the same unit as TJ Higgins (now semi-retired) - CSIRO's Plant Industries - which is in a contractual relation with Monsanto. The GRDC is pretty special - they take money from farmers - vast, vast majority being non-GE farmers and spend all the research on GE - with rhetoric to match.

Anyway, thought I'd nominate these antipodeans for awards as well. They are deserving souls."

In the article below, Peacock - the GM scientist - seems to be saying that he wants Australia's farm leaders to stick up for GM scientists, not farmers!

Peacock knows how to deploy a convincing argument and promote informed debate, telling his audience, "There is so much crap spoken about the lack of safety of GM products". In support of this he claims that there has never been a single negative report about any of the impacts of GM food and crops! Speaking crap is clearly a bit of a specialty.

He also tells the farmers' leaders: "You shouldn't be bullied by the Concerned Farmers Network which is no more than 20 farmers." The article was accompanied by a telling cartoon, depicting a scientist at the microphone saying "Don't be bullied by small groups" while behind him are two huge bullies labelled Monsanto and Bayer Cropscience.

According to the former chief executive of CSIRO - Peacock's employer, "Working with the transnationals makes a lot of sense... Yes, we do find that it is often the best strategy to get into bed with these companies."

What makes sense for Dr Peacock and CSIRO, and what makes sense for Australian farmers wanting to retain their markets, are perhaps two rather different things.

Call to arms on GM bans
Weekly Times, 22 June 2005

A prominent plant scientist has slammed farm leaders for not sticking up for genetically modified foods and crops. CSIRO's Dr Jim Peacock said the National Farmers' Federation had let itself be "bullied" by a few anti-GM activists into accepting state government bans on GM crops.

"The NFF can't stay quiet on this," Dr Peacock said at the NFF's annual conference.

"You can't just maintain the status quo and look after the walking wounded. You've got to be planning and campaigning for tomorrow's agriculture. You shouldn't be bullied by the Concerned Farmers Network which is no more than 20 farmers. There are more than 200 grower groups around the country. You have enormous clout, but you're not using it."

Dr Peacock said new GM products were offering important health benefits to consumers and production advantages for farmers. If denied access to these, Australian farmers risked losing world markets to the USA, Canada, China and South America.

Dr Peacock said the supposed trade negatives associated with GM produce were "baloney", with no premium in world markets for conventional crops. The environmental and public health dangers were also over-stated, he said.

"There is so much crap spoken about the lack of safety of GM products," he said. "Thirty million farmers around the world are producing 80 million hectares of GM canola, and it's growing exponentially. And yet there's not been a single negative report about human health or environmental effects. What more evidence can you ask for?"

Dr Peacock said state government GM moratoriums were the actions of "nervous politicians looking for votes". "Sure, you have to be wary when introducing GM crops, but there are ways of doing it," he said.

The cotton industry had introduced GM varieties slowly and developed pre-agreements with key overseas buyers, he said. "This is what the canola industry should have done."

Dr Peacock said crop industries had successfully managed segregation in the supply chain for decades, and handling GM produce shouldn't be any different. A key challenge for the NFF was to convince consumers of the health benefits of new GM products.

New varieties of wheat, for example, were offering higher protein content, better amino acid balance, lower content of "bad" starch, and high anti-oxidants, he said. "You've got to start shaping community views, promoting informed debate about food safety, making sure politicians know the facts and not just 'mis-facts'," he said.

Source: Bionews - Biotechnology Australia