Pamela Ronald's "Genetically Engineered Distortions"
Pamela Ronald's someone who presents herself as a fresh voice in the GM debate but as Phil Bereano makes clear in his letter to the Times, the message is very much the same.
Editor, the Times:
The Op Ed by Pamela C. Ronald and James E. McWilliams (5/14) is truly accurate only in its title, "Genetically Engineered Distortions," which is actually more descriptive of their piece than of the subject matter they purport to discuss.
I will deconstruct only one such distortion. The authors lament the lost "potential role this technology could play in the poorest regions of the world." I have been a registered participant in perhaps three dozen international negotiations and meetings held by the UN and the World Trade Organization (e.g., culminating in a relevant international treaty, the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol, which has 158 member countries). In every one of these it has been the poor countries (especially of Africa) that have been most critical of GE technology and the attempts of multinational corporations and governments (such as that of the US) to pressure them into adopting it.
These countries know that none of the GE organisms currently being promoted for agriculture have received adequate risk assessments (for environmental and human health consequences) meeting the criteria set forth in international procedures which even the US has agreed to have established (but does not follow, nonetheless). They also know that independent scientists have done research suggesting that there may be significant risks, but that this work has been cut off, for example by the owners of the patents on the organisms. Finally, they have witnessed repeated failures of such crops to deliver their promises in many countries.
Isn't it time that white people in wealthy countries stop telling people of color in poor nations how they should live their lives, denying any recognition of agency on the part of these "others"?
Philip L. Bereano
(member, Roster of Experts,
Cartagena Biosafety Protocol)