The Guardian, Marc Gunther and some NGOs can’t be trusted on GMOs
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The Guardian is said to have received money from the Gates Foundation, promoters of industrial agriculture, from biotech company Syngenta, for a supplement on food security. Several years ago announced at an editorial meeting that it was now pro GMO – a potentially lucrative stance which appears to persist.
San Francisco based author Marc Gunther, writes on business and sustainability for the Fortune Magazine (Fortune 500 & Fortune 100 companies) – like his father before him – and for Guardian Sustainable Business US, launched two years ago.
In a recent Guardian article, Gunther notes that NGOs are trusted, far more than corporations or the government, but adds that when it comes to genetically modified foods, they don’t always stick to the truth.
Despite the public relations and political pressure to accept genetically modified foods, he rues the fact that 48%, according to Gallup or more according to ABC NEWS poll and others – would prefer not to eat foods produced using genetic engineering:
“Some fear that they pose a serious health hazard, despite assurances from corporations, government regulators and mainstream scientists that the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) now on the market are safe”.
Ironically however, he admits that the US “does not require genetically engineered plants to be proven safe” and further – that “it’s impossible to prove that GMOs or, for that matter, conventional foods are safe”.
Research on GM foods commissioned by the European Union (EU) is often claimed to conclude that GM foods are safe. This is a misrepresentation of this research project, most of which was not designed to examine the safety of specific GM foods.
Three animal feeding studies from the project that did examine the safety of a GM food raise concerns, including differences in organ weights and immune responses in the GM-fed animals. These findings should be followed up in long-term studies.
Gunther: “Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years” – but we note that there are serious misgivings about America’s health record.
The Economist reports new research by Dr Christopher Murray (right) and his team from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (University of Washington). This was published in Journal of the American Medical Association and presented to government officials at a White House event hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. The research published data showing that both sexes have longer periods of illness in later life and a lower life expectancy than their peers in the OECD – parts of West Virginia and Mississippi faring worse than Bangladesh and Algeria. Alzheimer’s disease, liver cancer, Parkinson’s and kidney cancer were on the upswing, accounting for a significant increase in premature deaths in the U.S.
Gunther notes legitimate reasons to oppose GMOs:
- On at least two occasions, biotech crops – corn in one case and rice in another – not approved for human consumption, found their way into the food system.
- GMOS haven’t, so far, done much to feed the hungry.
But he fails to mention the very real problems being posed by ‘superweeds’ and pest resistance
Gunther compares NGOs with companies: both are self-interested, both seek attention in a noisy marketplace and a financial return, but he fails to compare the scale of these returns and the massive fortunes at stake in the corporate world. As an NGO affiliated correspondent says: “Corporates have all the resources … we manage to do what we do with such limited resources because we do have public trust/sympathy”.
The writer agrees that the public should be selective when reading NGO reports, giving credence to those who give links to authoritative sources – in English or with translation facilities.
Finally, Lawrence Woodward reflects:
Posted on July 18, 2014, in Conflict of interest, Corporate political nexus, Government, Lobbying, Vested interests and tagged America’s health record, Biotech company Syngenta, Corporates, Gates Foundation, NGOs, Pest resistance, promoters of industrial agriculture, Superweeds. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.