Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Lonely Quest for Facts on Genetically Modified Crops - NYTimes.com

A Lonely Quest for Facts on Genetically Modified Crops - NYTimes.com:

Article Excerpts: 
Like some others on the nine-member Council, Greggor Ilagan was not even sure at the outset of the debate exactly what genetically modified organisms were: living things whose DNA has been altered, often with the addition of a gene from a distant species, to produce a desired trait. But he could see why almost all of his colleagues had been persuaded of the virtue of turning the island into what the bill’s proponents called a “G.M.O.-free oasis.”
“You just type ‘G.M.O.’ and everything you see is negative,” he told his staff. Opposing the ban also seemed likely to ruin anyone’s re-election prospects.

General Mills announced last week that it would stop using genetically modified ingredients in its Cheerios.
But the groundswell against genetically modified food has rankled many scientists, who argue that opponents of G.M.O.s have distorted the risks associated with them and underplayed the risks of failing to try to use the technology to improve how food is grown. Wading into a debate that has more typically pitted activists against industry, some have argued that opposition from even small pockets of an American elite influences investment in research and the deployment of genetically modified crops, particularly in the developing world, where hunger raises the stakes.
“Just as many on the political right discount the broad scientific consensus that human activities contribute to global warming, many progressive advocacy groups disregard, reject or ignore the decades of scientific studies demonstrating the safety and wide-reaching benefits” of genetically engineered crops, Pamela Ronald, a professor of plant pathology at the University of California, Davis, wrote on the blog of the nonprofit Biology Fortified.
And other scientists, including two Nobel Prize winners, wrote an opinion article for the journal Science last fall titled “Standing Up for G.M.O.s.”
As he traversed the island and the Internet, Mr. Ilagan agreed with constituents that there was good reason to suspect that companies like Monsanto would place profit above public safety. He, too, wished for more healthful food to be grown more sustainably.
But even a national ban on such crops, it seemed to him, would do little to solve the problems of an industrial food system that existed long before their invention. Nor was it likely to diminish the market power of the “Big Ag” companies, which also dominate sales of seeds that are not genetically modified, and the pesticides used on both. The arguments for rejecting them, he concluded, ultimately relied on the premise that they are unsafe.
A blog post on the website of NPR, a news source Mr. Ilagan trusted, cataloged what it called “Top Five Myths of Genetically Modified Seeds, Busted.” No. 1 was a thing he had long believed: “Seeds from G.M.O.s are sterile.”
On Oct. 1, Mr. Ilagan voted to block the bill from moving out of committee, shortly after a day of what Ms. Wille and Brenda Ford, another Council member who was a proponent of the ban, had described as expert testimony.
At the hearing on Sept. 23, he had grown increasingly uneasy as his fellow Council members declined to call several University of Hawaii scientists who had flown from Oahu, instead allotting 45 minutes to Jeffrey Smith, a self-styled expert on G.M.O.s with no scientific credentials.
Mr. Ilagan had been alarmed by testimony from farmers who said they could be sued by Monsanto and other patent-holders when patented seeds ended up in their fields by accident. But he found there was no evidence that Monsanto had ever initiated such a lawsuit.
Food Democracy Now! Response to the NYT Article:

A Love Fest of pro-GMO propaganda in the mainstream media...

New York Times reporter Amy Harmon flies to Hawaii for a week to attend public hearings on Bill 113 that bans experimental GMOs on the Big Island of Hawaii. Instead of holding a standard of investigative journalism, her piece is a love fest for pro-biotech talking points, painting local advocates of GMO labeling as fringe, fear-mongering hippies. Her 5,000 word article states: “But the risks of such crops could be reliably tested, and they had so far proved safe.” Great investigative reporting?

Has the New York Times heard of GMO Myths and Truths - a compilation of over 600 studies showing GMO crops to be "high risk" by scientists?

Or how about the ENSSER statement signed by over 300 international scientists who declare:
No Scientific Consensus on GMO Safety?

Like and share if you think the New York Times has an agenda with their reporting on GMOs!

Give us a call next time you attempt to write a factual story on GMOs, Amy! #StopMonsanto #GMOs #Hawaii#StopPoisoningParadise #MythsTruths
 — with Maria Emmer-AanesRachel ParentTami Monroe CanalZuri Allen StarMike CarberryKari HamerschlagJeremy SeifertFrancis ThickeCheri JohnsonLisa Stokke,Dustin BarcaJere GettleIsis AustinJim Gerritsen,Chris WilbeckSteven HoffmanFrank PlughoffRichard DuncanJeannie DeanLeah SegedieTracy Singleton,Ken RoseboroChris HardySeed FreedomPamm LarryChristine MurphyAlison Rose LevyFoodJustice Ows and Paula Winograd.

Robyn O'Brien response to the NYT Article:
"Mr. Ilagan discounted the correlations between the rise in childhood allergies and the consumption of G.M.O.s." Since these products were never labeled, the industry is able to claim no evidence of harm, no evidence of allergies, when in fact, since there are no labels, there is no accountability, no traceability, no liability.

NYT Article Comments (1417 and counting)

  • Betsy
  • Tucson
What a disappointing story, I expect better reporting from the NYTimes. Clearly, the reporter found a fun angle (oh, the left is anti-science in GMO issues) and decided to run with it. Fine. But she was careless in her reporting and clearly took sides in a debate that is far from settled. Example, she says that Monsanto has never initiated a lawsuit. On its own website, Monsanto says it has filed suit 145 times.http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/saved-seed-farmer-lawsuits.aspx
The debate about GMOs is very important to the health of our country, I believe, and such simplistic, inaccurate reporting detracts from the debate rather than enhances it.

  • Roodath
  • NY
Dear Andrew, My current living wife is like a canary in a coal mine. She eats anything with corn syrup, for example, she breaks out in 5-10 minutes. But any GMO food may do it. So, she tries to refrain from eating anything that may have ingredients from the big four: soy, corn, canola, cottonseed oil - - which we know is not labelled in the USA but is in China & for 40% of the world's population as of now. Bt was used sparingly & carefully by the organic community, but then the Monsantos of the world decided why not insert Bt into every cell in their crop. Wasn't that a terrific toxic idea? 

Some ideas concerning GMOs may be good one day, e.g., it seems the Hawaiian papaya MAY be a good idea, but insects & germs come to industrially produced mass planted crops. It is better to diversify crops in the field, rather than blast them with chemicals that actually are poisons, but we rationalize using them by having some organization, or the producing company, set 'safe' levels, that really may not be safe, and may concentrate in our soil,water, & bodies. By the way, labelling concerns were there as soon as someone decided to sell this synthesizing of our food supply. 

And one day, hopefully, despite what monies Monsanto and the Grocers Association of America put up to defeat what is right, we will have labelling in America so consumers can choose if they want to buy a GMO or an organic food not altered at the DNA level or laced with the necessary but profitable herbicides.

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