"He could have been at Oklahoma and been fed to the hogs"
Gordon Couger tells Dr Ignacio Chapela not to, "stupidly shoot off you (sic) moth (sic) in the intentional (sic) press and be proved wrong and expect a good outcome".
Couger's verdict on the Chapela affair? "He could have been at Oklahoma and been fed to the hogs."
Another revealing item from today's AgBioView is the article, "Media Feeds Scare over Genetically Modified Products" published by "Accuracy in Media". Inevitably, the article is stuffed with inaccuracies. It tells us, amongst much else, that, "According to Forbes magazine, British-educated plant specialist Dr. Florence Wambugu has achieved early success developing disease and pest-resistant GM sweet potatoes in her native Kenya. Consequently, production of this important food crop has doubled."
The fact that the GM sweet potatoes are still at a trial stage seems to have passed "Accuracy in Media" by - perhaps it was misled by the Forbes headline "Millions saved"!
The truth about Wambugu's claims, as Aaron deGrassi's new report (see end) makes clear, is that (a) they are unsupported by any evidence and (b) she has made it appear that her and Monsanto's GM sweet potato doubles production by halving (or more) the figures on typical yield of non-GM sweet potatoes!! The evidence suggests that high yielding sweet potatoes are, in fact, streets ahead of the GM variety.
Wambugu, Couger and AgBioView all inhabit the same fanciful and farcical terrain.
Today in AgBioView: July 1, 2003:
Subject: Re: Chapela Protests Over Tenure Case;
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 01:53:44 -0500
A professor without tenure that makes political waves has as much sense as some one that plays Russian Roulette with five bullets in a revolver. Add to that sloppy work that has to be retracted in a journal that never retracts anything and he was lucky to have not been sacked on the spot. I realize that he thinks the normal pathways of publication and rigor don't apply to him, but is he so arrogant that he thinks the penalties for making an ass of himself, his department and institution would go unnoticed?
Politics is a two edged sword. If you don't shine in victory you fall to a knife in the dark if you don't have the system to protect you. Lacking tenure, small girls, lizards and undergrads have as much influence as you do if you put your betters in a bad light.
It doest take a PhD to know that until your job is secure you don't stupidly shoot off you moth in the intentional press and be proved wrong and expect a good outcome.
He could have been at Oklahoma and been fed to the hogs.
Gordon Couger Stillwater, OK
Media Feeds Scare over Genetically Modified Products
Accuracy in Media
By William Alford
June 30, 2003
Demonstrable by scientific evidence and practical experience, any real or imagined hazards of genetically modified [GM] agricultural products are far outweighed by the benefits. Nonetheless, they have been the subject of highly politicized attacks by 'activist' organizations, politicians and special interest groups. A compliant media has gleefully fanned the flames.
Remember the StarLink scare a couple of years ago? After media saturation coverage, several dozen people complained of allergic reactions to this GM animal-feed corn that inadvertently appeared in the U.S. food supply. In March 2002, a federal judge in Chicago awarded a $9 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed by those claiming adverse reactions to StarLink 'contaminated' corn. Nonetheless, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) and concurrent independent scientific studies showed no correlation.
The Hoover Institution's biotech specialist Dr. Henry Miller points out that the complainants "were eating foods comprised of literally millions of proteins, many of which are known to be allergenic." Moreover, the body responds to ingested GM genes in the same manner as with 'natural' genetic materials. Early in the digestive process, DNA in food is completely broken down into usable nutrients by enzymes secreted by the pancreas and duodenal cells.
The mounting scientific evidence refuting claims against StarLink received comparably little media attention, however. The Grocery Manufacturers of America estimates that about 70% of the foodstuffs offered for sale in 2000 were GM products or by-products. If they actually did cause negative effects and given the litigious nature of our society.
Strong GM opposition continues to fester in Europe. Jeremy Rifkin of the DC-based Foundation on Economic Trends laments how US-European relations were 'chilled' by President Bush when he recently scolded the EU for exacerbating Third World poverty and hunger by banning GM products.
Rifkin retorts that 80% of Third World child undernourishment occurs where there are food surpluses, because a significant proportion of arable land is used to grow feed grain for livestock animals that are then exported as meat products to the world's "wealthiest consumers." One explanation could be a Western trend toward conversion from high-yield conventional farming to significantly less productive organic methods. The Hudson Institute's Global Food Issues director Dr. Dennis Avery notes that developed countries 'going organic' are increasingly faced with the choice of clearing more land to produce the same amount of food or relying more on imports.
Fox News reports Zimbabwe and Tanzania rejected tons of donated of GM foodstuffs last year, partly due to European pressure as well as an apparently successful "international propaganda campaign." Greenpeace's estranged co-founder characterizes this mindset as saying "it is better a million people starve to death" than use foods that have been safely consumed elsewhere for several years now.
Since before recorded history, humans have been 'modifying' plants and animals by selectively breeding them to provide desirable characteristics. Surrey University's molecular genetics professor Johnjoe McFadden notes that the 1970s Green Revolution involving high yield cereals forestalled one of the many predicted Malthusian famines that supposedly loomed for the Third World.
Current technology promises even greater results. According to Forbes magazine, British-educated plant specialist Dr. Florence Wambugu has achieved early success developing disease and pest-resistant GM sweet potatoes in her native Kenya. Consequently, production of this important food crop has doubled. [Half the global average tonnage per acre was previously produced there.] Nutritional value has improved as well.
Forbes also notes that Africa ranks "dead last" in harvests for "every major crop" and that population growth exceeds food production by 1% a year. Dr. Wambugu's former boss at the Kenya Agricultural Institution, Cyrus Ndiritu, adds, "it is not multinationals that have a stranglehold on Africa. It is hunger, poverty and deprivation," so he welcomes the prospect of increased domestic food production.
Apparently this is of no concern to enviro-terrorist groups such as 'Seeds of Resistance.' Michael Fumento reports they destroyed the University of Maine's trial crop of herbicide-resistant corn. The 'Bioengineering Action Network' is one of many groups using the Internet to disseminate GM crop locations and offering advice on how to destroy them. Cruising below the European media's radar, 'activist' groups such as Britain's 'Smash Genetic Engineering' and 'Genetix Snowball' have threatened violence and vandalism against clothing retailers and grocers who sell GM products. Many businesses have acquiesced.
Genetically modified crops have been successfully demonstrated to reduce pesticide, fertilizer and herbicide use, thus reducing chemical exposure to the soil, water table and farm workers. Tillage is also less necessary, thus minimizing erosion. One would think such benefits would be desirable to self-styled enviro groups.
Fumento reveals another motivation: In a scantly publicized statement by 'Reclaim the Seeds' [after uprooting a sugar beet field at UC Davis in 2000]: "Modern agri-business and genetic mutilation is a capitalist machine that must be dismantled. [so] direct action" must be taken to further this goal. After smashing office building windows [of an unnamed biotech offender] in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 'Seeds of Resistance' declared, "Seeing their profits as a slap in the face of the earth and all its occupants, we took the liberty of paying them back."
Testifying earlier this year before the House Agriculture Committee, Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) explained that GM foods are banned in Europe "under the cloak of food safety" while protectionism is the true object. If higher yielding, less expensive and more nutritious foods enter their markets, domestic European agriculture is threatened. If Third World farmers are more able to feed their domestic populations with such crops, competing European imports would also be threatened - so much for Green Benevolence vs. Corporate Greed.
This issue illustrates what hangs in the balance when the media is beholden to agitators who place their political agenda above all else. The consequences: avoidable panic, frivolous lawsuits, farmers losing money and people needlessly left to starve.
William R Alford is a Government & International Politics/Electronic Journalism student at George Mason University in Fairfax VA