2.GM may be on the agenda at the G20 summit
NOTE: The media this year once again followed in the fine tradition of the BBC's spoof documentary on the spaghetti harvest in Ticino, by pumping out a host of entirely bogus stories on April 1.
This year's April Fool pieces included The Guardian telling the world it was closing down its print edition in favour of Twittering, and the New Zealand Herald's tech blog announcing Microsoft had taken over Apple.
And in case anyone's still in the slightest doubt, the Times article by "Mark Handerson" (GM may be on the agenda at the G20 summit) that GMWatch circulated on the morning of April 1, and also posted onto its website, was also an April Fool.
Although the bogus article was authored by us, some others joined in the joke by posting the piece on their websites too, while others presumably took it at face value. Bioportfolio, for instance - a site that claims its "Serving the needs of the biotech industry", posted a truly extraordinary number of links to the piece.
And even Sky News has posted links to an article quoting our April Fool's piece, including links claiming to provide greater "depth" on Prof. Pingo Detritus, the bogus expert that we quoted. (Sky News - Pingo Detritus In Depth)
Someone even went to the trouble of checking with the GM-adoring science correspondent of the Times, Mark Henderson (sic) that he hadn't written our piece. Mr Henderson confirmed, "It was an April Fool, nothing to do with me or The Times. The tinyurl goes to GM Watch, which isn't surprising really - they're not my biggest fans. It would be flattering if it were funny!"
Below are all the other comments we came across or were sent. But first here are two very telling quotes from GM supporters that one commentator posted together with our article:
"This journal champions biotech research, so we are not downbeat on its prospects to, one day, generate products that will heal, fuel and feed the world. That is, nevertheless, an outrageous act of faith bordering on the religious. And the fact is that biotech approaches must be used in the context of other technical and nontechnological solutions. Thus, reason dictates that proponents should be very careful about overhyping what biotech can do now and overpromising what it can do in the future ... it is time that the industry and its lobby organizations learnt that pushing one-dimensional hype about biotech solutions is counterproductive... Pushing biotech as the 'solution' to the world's problems is doing more harm than good."
Editorial, Nature Biotechnology 26, 837
"The cynic in me thinks that they're just using the current food crisis and the fuel crisis as a springboard to push GM crops back on to the public agenda', says Professor Denis Murphy, head of biotechnology at the University of Glamorgan in Wales. 'I understand why they're doing it, but the danger is that if they're making these claims about GM crops solving the problem of drought or feeding the world, that's bullsh**.'"
1.What they said about Prof. Detritus and the G20
"That Pingo Detritus super GM corn item that was just posted into the GM Watch page. That's an April Fool thing, right?"
"Very funny, and so real!"
"gotta be an april fool, right?"
"Did you write this GMWatch! Thought it was too good to have come from Mark Henderson :-)"
"Nice one, april fool!!"
"Please say this 'multi f-ing superfood' is a big April fool's joke?"
"Of course it is”¦ Dr Pingo Detritus!!!"
"Nice one, GMWatch!"
"I'm still assuming this is a joke--as strangely similar as it is to real life. But someone just wrote an article that quotes from it."
"It is sufficiently close to some of the material that appears in the media on this subject (a technology that promises everything and delivers little) that some have been taken in by it."
"Please tell me this is an April Fool's joke."
"Damn that Professor Detritus!"
"This must be an April fools joke, but the story is still circulating around the net... Certainly a search of Dr. "Pingo Detritus" yields no results. Of course not. Its a crock, or rather, a pingo of detritus."
"Ha! Dr. Detritus. Amazing how far this bogus story is traveling tho. Good spot."
"Prof. 'Pingo Detritus' is a dead giveaway. A parody name for Ingo Potrykus..."
"There are things called pingo detritus -- it is the collection of mud etc at the end of a pingo which seems to be a wedge of ice coming off a glacier. See this link: http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/cpc/CPC4-81.pdf
There is something strange going on here..."
"No no -- a pingo is a prominent mound of ground ice found in permafrost areas -- nothing to do with glaciers. The ground ice mass keeps on expanding until the crust of surface soil and debris is punctured, after which it is transformed into something that looks like a mini volcano for a while, and then collapses completely, leaving just a ring or ridge of detritus with a lake in the middle. Strange features indeed. I've seen them in Greenland."
"Now I know where I have seen his name! He is a frequent contributor to Prakash's AgBioView list serve, along with Andura Smetacek and other non-existent GMO apologists."
"Do I take it GM Watch authored this April fool? Very drole!"
"'A spokesperson for the Biotechnology Industry Organization in Washington D.C. said, "We don't need regulation of our friends in the banking sector......"' I beg to differ!"
"sure it's not an April Fool? Prof Detritus? and Grant's quote is pretty outrageous - surely even he'd think twice before including feeding the starving masses and feeding his hummer in the same sentence? let alone the quote re regulation & the banks"
"Brian seems to think this was an April Fool's joke instigated entirely by GMWATCH"
"an utterly splendid April Fools jape!"
"Do these people expect Obama, Brown et al to believe in all this nonsense?"
"Shame on you for April 1 gag; I'm not laughing and think you should know it damages your credibility; you need to do something to make amends and never again pull a stunt like this."
"dear old Pingo Detritus. He was a good old fellow until he got bogged down as recently as yesterday, in the melting permafrost somewhere in Siberia."
2.GM may be on the agenda at the G20 summit
The Times, April 1 2009
As the G20 meet and the world groans under the triple whammy of the food, fuel and financial crises, scientists have announced a remarkable breakthrough that they hope will make the agenda of the G20 leaders at their summit in London today.
A new genetically modified super maize is said to have the potential to not only ensure an unending era of cheap food but to make the world's food supply far more nutritious, while providing low cost energy, reducing environmental degradation, and promoting sustainable agriculture.
The GM maize is the remarkable outcome of a project that has been kept under wraps for nearly a decade. The new super maize, which should begin field trials within the next two years, is also the result of an unusual alliance of all the major biotechnology companies. It is said to involve the most ambitious use of multi-stacked genes to date, and has already been dubbed "a multi F-ing super food", because of its ability to feed, fuel and fortify the world, while helping to undercut the financial crisis.
In a press release Hugh Grant, Monsanto's CEO, commented, "Not only do one in three people go to bed every night malnourished and not knowing where their next meal will come from, but many of us can barely afford to run our hummers. While not in anyway a silver bullet, this is a remarkable breakthrough in terms of putting plentiful ultra-nutritious food on the world's table while eliminating environmental overload and petroleum dependence on often hostile foreign powers."
Although exact details of the project and its timetable for delivery still remain sketchy for the moment, Prof. Pingo Detritus, who's been heading up the international project, said, "This breakthrough is of such monumental importance, that it's vital that the G20 leaders now unite behind this inspirational global endeavour and start to remove all regulatory barriers to genetically modified crops. Critics of GM foods also need to abandon their doctrinaire fact-free opposition to this life-saving technology."
A spokesperson for the Biotechnology Industry Organization in Washington D.C. said, "We don't need regulation of our friends in the banking sector, and we don't need regulation of a technology that can feed, fuel and heal the world. The G20 leaders need to recognise that GM, while not being the single answer to all our problems, is the solution to the world's most pressing needs. It can also provide the kind of economic stimulus for the global economy that our members feel would be most appropriate."