Ref: The Scotsman March 16, 2001, Plea for more reason on GM food.
After a career in education and science, I am becoming increasingly distressed by false claims such as those made by self appointed “experts” such as Dr Prakash, especially when they are made in the service of this out-of-control technology.
Explaining that the debate “had become one of emotion” and “..we need to engage in dialogue” is something we, and many of the world's leading scientists and medical men, have advocated for two decades or longer. The last thing the multinational corporations want is a debate on the health risks of GM foods. As a well known PR firm told the industry, “..health issues are the killing fields for the biotech industry.”
As for his 25 000 successful field tests - cultivated perhaps, like mushrooms, in the dark - these never seem to reach peer review, or if they do, only to those indentured to the industry.
His claim that the US has “very high standards of food regulation” is not born out by the recent Starlink scandal, not to mention the recent legal case of the FDA bureaucrats ignoring the continued warnings of their own scientists over marketing GM foods.(1)
According to the US Federal Government, 76 million Americans suffer food poisoning each year and about 5,000 die from it. Hardly a statistic representing Dr Prakash’s claims.(2)
Reminding his London audience that the “US regulatory authorities were a-political” was simply absurd. The cap of vested interest is a far better fit on their heads than that of Greenpeace or Friends of The Earth.
As for dismissing animal and human infections as “eroding faith in science and scientists” perhaps he has forgotten that it was Professor Richard Lacey who warned the British Government against feeding offal products to animals but he like Dr Arpad Pusztai - was vilified and ignored.(3)
Make no mistake, there is great tension in our scientific community over this forced alliance between science and big business. Both science and medicine are in deep crisis.(4) And the primary threat is the mindset of proponents, such as Dr Prakash, who are driven by a new order of ‘market forces’ serving corporate, rather than human ends.
While biotechnology is guided by this reductionist utilitarian and mechanistic philosophy, biased and constricted by corporatism, then our assumptions must be re-evaluated and science must be freed from imperatives of corporate profit. Until a great effort has been made in this direction human health will continue to suffer on the anvil of profit.
Member Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics[New Zealand]
1. A lawsuit against the FDA reveals documents showing even the agency’s own scientists had doubts about the safety of genetically modified foods. www.biointegrity.org
2. Study Puts U.S. Food-Poisoning Toll at 76 Million Yearly. ttp://www2.tltc.ttu.edu/saideman/news%20articles/2302/091799hth-food.html
3. See also Professor Lacey’s declaration to the US District Court Civil Action No 98-1300 (CKK)
4. Scientists ‘asked to fix results for backer’ www.telegraph.co.uk 14 February 2000 issue 1725