NOTE: Recently Jeffrey Smith did a great review of the must-see film The World According to Monsanto

In it he quotes Jonathan of GM Watch, who tells the film-maker Marie Robin what he found when he investigated Monsanto's dirty tricks campaigns against the company's critics: "There's no ethics at all in what's going on here. It shows an organization that is determined to push its products into countries around the world and it's determined to destroy the reputation of anybody who stands in their way."

That comment's highly relevant to the article below.

Don't forget that thanks to Jeffrey Smith, Marie Robin's film is now easily available on DVD in the U.S. at

Outside the US, then instructions on how to obtain the dvd can be found in English at

For the moment you can also watch it on YouTube:

But it's much better on DVD, and Jeffrey Smith even has a Film Showing Kit on how to publicize the film and not just get others to watch it but mobilize inspired audiences to take effective action to stop GMOs!,5224

Biotech advocate criticizes speaker

Staff Writer
Kennebec Journal, 19 September 2008

Maine's top advocate for genetically modified foods has lashed out at Saturday's keynote speaker at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity.

Doug Johnson, executive director of the Maine Biotechnology Information Bureau in Stonington, charges that Jeffrey Smith is a "fringe" voice on the subject and that the fair's organizer, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, is "promoting a divisive agenda by inviting an unqualified speaker and critic of modern biotechnology to speak."

Both the association spokesperson and Smith dismissed the claims. Smith, of Fairfield, Iowa, said the attacks are aimed at undercutting him personally and not the science behind his research.

"They'd lose in a debate with the details," Smith said. "So, they try and distract people."

The Common Ground Country Fair, a popular staple of central Maine, starts today and runs through Sunday. It features a keynote speaker each day, plus food vendors, agriculture displays and talks, and more.

Smith is described in fair brochures as an "international spokesperson on the health dangers of genetically modified organisms." He's the author of "Seeds of Deception" and "Genetic Roulette," director of the Campaign for Healthier Eating in America from the Institute for Responsible Technology and producer of the docu-video series "The GMO Trilogy."

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, refer to plants, animals or microorganisms that are transformed by genetic engineering. In crops, changes to a plant's molecular biology can make it more resistant to drought or disease. Opponents say changes have unintended, harmful consequences.

At their annual town meeting earlier this year, voters in Montville passed a binding ordinance banning the cultivation of genetically engineered crops.

Edwin R. Porter, deputy commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, said he's met Smith and thinks "he is well traveled and he is well versed in the complexities of the issue and he's very clear where he stands and is committed to that."

In the introduction to "Seeds of Deception," Smith writes that "industry influence, not sound science," has allowed genetically modified foods onto the market. "Moreover," Smith writes, "if overwhelming scientific research suggests anything, it is that the foods should never have been approved."

Johnson, in a message he recently posted on the biotech bureau's Web site, rejects Smith's qualifications. He says Smith was invited as a speaker because "MOFGA's campaign to make Maine a GMO-free state is failing" and "marketers of organic foods have turned to bashing traditional foods and GMO-containing foods."

Johnson's organization is funded by the biotech industry. One of the Maine biotech bureau's key backers is biotech giant Monsanto. In "Deception," Smith writes that "Monsanto is faltering financially and is desperate to open new markets" due to "widespread resistance to GM foods."

Johnson contends that Smith is "making his living by writing books and traveling around the country about, as he calls it, the perils of biotechnology. He's not an expert, he's self-taught," Johnson said. "I have a Ph.D. in organic chemistry; I don't feel competent to talk about the food-safety issues on biotechnology. Food science is a complex field."

Johnson said there's "a lot of really bad research in this area and Jeff Smith cites every bad study that's been done."

Russell Libby, executive director of MOFGA, defended Smith and his speaking slot at the fair.

"Jeff Smith is a journalist who has been looking at claims that biotechnology is good and his conclusion is that it is not," Libby said. "If people want to ask questions and think about the food they're eating, Jeff Smith has been one asking questions."

Smith stands by the findings in his books.

"Basically, I worked with more than 30 scientists to document the health risks of genetically engineered foods and we have essentially overwhelming evidence that genetically modified foods are harmful," he said. "We have identified 65 risks and linked GMOs to thousands of sick, dead and sterile livestock and toxic and allergic reactions to humans."

The biotech industry has yet to respond to each of those risks, Smith said, and so in lieu of that he expected that the industry would seek to discredit him instead of challenging his findings with evidence.

Smith issued this challenge to Johnson and his organization: Debate the issues and counter his claims by providing scientific citations.

"I challenge him to provide a rigorous, independent response," Smith said. "I will post his responses on my Web site with his on a point-by-point basis. I doubt he will take up this challenge. He will probably feel more at ease making baseless attacks. But I welcome with open arms his scientific evidence that GMOs are safe in the context of the 65 risks."

In response, Johnson said the biotech industry "would love to debate him, either in written format or live."

Libby, MOFGA's executive director, said he has never heard Smith speak before, so he doesn't necessarily know if he'll agree with what he says. But that's not the point, he said.

"We've had keynote speakers at every fair since 1977 and our goal is to expose people to ideas that they might not hear otherwise, encourage a good dialogue with the speakers and have them decided for themselves," Libby said. Ultimately, he said, "We want people to eat good food."

Scott Monroe -- 487-3288, 861-9253

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