Following on from Roberto Verzola's piece on GM deception in the Philippines, here's another piece, just published in the Philippines, that covers some of the same ground.
"There are two types of scientists, the advocate and the mercenary. The advocate, like Traavik, is concerned about real human issues like safety. The mercenary takes the stand of his/her employer or funder... And if the funders' concern is profit and has no regard for safety, the mercenaries naturally tow that line. The scientists at UPLB, and for that matter, all other universities, are split between advocates and mercenaries, those who fight for values, those who fight because they are paid."
For Roberto's review of what's been happening see:
by Bernardo V. Lopez
BUSINESS WORLD, 13 January 2005
I would like to thank Dr. Benigno Peczon, President of Biotechnology Coalition of the Phlippines, Inc. (BCPI), and Sonny Tabara of SEARCA for responding to my article on Nov. 18, 2004 entitled 'Bt Corn Ailments' in Mindanao. I would like to give some counterpoints.
Dr. Peczon argues that the findings of Dr. Traavik, who discovered traces of antibodies in blood samples of B'laan natives in South Cotabato possibly reacting to Bt corn, are inconclusive. True, precisely why we need further study.
You and Dr. Nina Barzaga of UP give a lot of arguments and theories why Traavik is wrong, but you have not established safety beyond doubt. You say his findings are inconclusive. So are your findings on safety. You argue that since Traavik may be wrong, there is no reason to be alarmed and it is okay to go ahead, when safety has not been established beyond doubt. The burden of proof is on safety, not in theorizing Traavik is wrong. I hope your institutions have done something on this. Have you touched base with Traavik? What have you done? If you have new data, please update us.
There is no 'undue public panic', as you and Barzaga say. There is only legitimate concern for health safety. For if it is finally verified that Bt corn indeed caused these antibodies to emerge, we have reason to worry. Your 'panic' argument implies you are more concerned to proliferate GMOs quickly at the expense of health safety.
Barzaga cannot hide under the aegis of a prestigious university. She is research director of BCPI, which is a known GMO industry lobby group [Biotechnology Coalition of the Phlippines, Inc.]. May I ask if BCPI and SEARCA and its people get funds from GMO MNCs? If so, you naturally will fight for your funders' goals of proliferating GMOs even if safety is not established.
There are two types of scientists, the advocate and the mercenary. The advocate, like Traavik, is concerned about real human issues like safety. The mercenary takes the stand of his/her employer or funder and lacks advocacy on non-monetary concerns. And if the funders' concern is profit and has no regard for safety, the mercenaries naturally tow that line.
The scientists at UPLB, and for that matter, all other universities, are split between advocates and mercenaries, those who fight for values, those who fight because they are paid. Of course anti-GMO advocates also receive remuneration but not as huge as GMO consultants with vast MNC funds behind them.
The GMO MNCs have been funding universities in the US to cater to their goal to proliferate GMOs. They exploit university research centers. The Universities of Hawaii and Missouri are propagating GMO bananas. Even the US government is under the clutches of the MNCs. The US embassy in the Vatican sponosred a Gregorian University GMO conference under the guise of 'feeding the hungry', which Church officials criticized.
The GMO MNCs also pour huge funds to organize their own farmer's associations and federations, selecting those who opt for GMO proliferation, encouraged by MNC promotional gimmicks such as free seedlings, free junkets, access to credit, etc. Giving credit in a credit crisis on condition of supporting GMOs is a very dangerous PR move because it is so effective in making farmers subservient. We know how these MNCs operate. They have vast financial sources and have well-studied PR strategies, especially in the Third World where mercenarism is easier because of the lack of opportunities. In affluent Europe, the MNCs are up against a wall. Here, our government is sadly pro-GMO for some strange reason, perhaps international pressures. GMA and all her agencies such as DA and DOST are all pro-GMO at her command.
Tabara of SEARCA cites arguments that the Traavik case may have been caused by other factors, but even these are inconclusive and theoretical - respiratory causes, chemical rather than biological exposure, etc. They have not established beyond doubt that it was not caused by the Bt corn. He says 'let us keep an open mind'. Precisely, we should be open to the possible dangers of GMOs, not keep on fighting for them, not having established safety yet.
Drugs known to be safe for ten years have suddenly been pulled out of the shelfs, 'effective' abortion pills used by thousands of women suddenly discovered to cause breast cancer. You, as scientists, cannot unequivocally say it is safe. Let's keep an open mind. And until we really scientifically say so, we have no right to endanger people.
The bottomline is - until GMOs are proven scientifically to be safe without doubt, in the interest of safety, there should be a moratorium on GMOs. We cannot take the risk. We cannot ignore the protests on safety and listen to scientists who are paid by the GMO industry.
***** BT CORN STUDY QUESTIONABLE *****
GMO advocates are proud of a study done by Dr. Jose M. Yorobe Jr., an assistant professor at UPLB (assistant, mind you), entitled 'Economic Impact of BT Corn in the Philippines'. Yorobe admitted it was part of a study of the the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), another known MNC front. Immediately, the study is questionable for bias, being funded by pro-GMO elements.
The study admits Bt corn doubles the cost of seeds, which all go to the MNC. It cites MNC gross revenue of P43 million as against 'net benefit to farmers' of P46 million. It concludes Bt corn yields high cost of production but also high profits in the end. It also yields high dependency on MNCs who will monopolize the seed industry. What is the use of slightly higher income if you are enslaved to monopoly by MNCs and you are totally under their mercy.
Once they have established dependence and monopoly, who will stop them from doubling or tripling seedling prices, wiping out their computed higher profits for you?
The study admits that Bt corn may not be feasible in areas not so infested by pests such as Bukidnon. Pro-GMO scientists have been over-stating damage from pests as a justification to go into GMO. Dr. Saturnina Halos of the DA Biotechnology Advisory Team (BAT) says the corn borer destroys as much as 80 percent of harvest when the Yorobe study puts it at a wide range of 4 to 30 percent. Also, there are hybrid varieties which are naturally not genetically pest-resistant, and can rival the yield and economics of Bt corn. It is an MNC ploy to control Third World agriculture and they sadly have our government on their side. It is not about productivity but monopoly, not arresting hunger but causing it by undermining food security. In the end, the self-serving Yorobe study became a marketing plan for the GMO MNCs, proposing a campaign to increased rate of adoption to Bt corn by making it more accessible and available.
MNC monopoly of Third World agriculture is obvious from their obsession to patent their seeds and stop farmers from propagating their own seeds. Their fear of 'seed piracy' is total. Roger Barroga of PHILRICE, noting complaints of seed corporations about 'unathorized seed propagation', was quoted, "Then, we had to keep quiet about encouraging farmers to produce their own seed." Do MNCs have the exclusive rights to seed propagation? What right do they have to suppress farmers in seed propagation?
***** AGRICULTURAL TERRORISM *****
Eight GMO soybean and one GMO corn were found growing along the roadside from the Shimuzu Port west of Tokyo, Masahura Kawata, a Yokkaichi University professor, said. GMO canola plants were also discovered near the Kashima Port, east of Tokyo. The theory was the GMO seeds spilled from trucks from the port. Japan imports GMO food but farmers do not plant them in fear of consumer protests on their safety. But this type of uncontrolled and unmonitored contamination may find the spread of cross pollination with native varieties, which is irreversible. GMO can actually be used as a form of 'agricultural terrorism' by contaminating fields by simply scattering GMO
seeds, especially seeds known to be harmful or carrying viruses.
***** MNC POWER CAN FIRE JOURNALISTS *****
Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, award winning investigative reporters at Fox TV were fired for refusing 'to broadcast lies about the safety of a Monsanto product', as reported by GM Watch Daily, an e-mail news facility. The report said, "Fox TV, following pressure from Monsanto, had tried to sweep under the rug much of what the two journalists had discovered, but were never allowed to broadcast, about Monsanto's genetically-engineered cattle drug bovine growth hormone (BGH, earlier reported in this column as carcinogenic, according to studies). The two journalists twice refused Fox offers of big-money deals to keep quiet about what they knew." The case began in the Florida state court in April 1998 and may end up in the Supreme Court in a landmark case of MNC versus journalists. The case reveals the utter power of MNCs in the corridors of media.