Health and the media
Leading voices in the media are probably more dismayed by former NBC-TV news anchor Brian Williams’ misrepresentations of his exploits covering the Iraq War than are the general population. Would that the media were that concerned over their reporting about GMOs and other health issues. They hew to the positions of recognized government and private agencies and organizations, almost ignoring the findings of independent entities that go against the official line.
Chipotle vs. GMOs
Professor Steven Sexton
It was the second time in 15 months that the Post has run essays by persons connected to the main producer of GMO foods, the agricultural behemoth Monsanto. In the piece in April 2014, the Post declined to identify its author as a spokesperson for Richard Berman, operator of the Center for Consumer Freedom, which has campaigned against such causes as that of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the banning of smoking in restaurants.
Professor David Zilberman
At least the Post disclosed in the new piece that Professor Zilberman served on a Monsanto advisory board in 2012.
But do the Post and other media carry reports contradicting the assertions of such GMO defenders as Zilberman and Sexton? If they do, you have to be a detective to find them.
Below is part of a letter-to-the-editor that I submitted to the Post after it ran last year’s piece by the lobbyist for GMO defender Berman. The Post refused to run my letter.
Dr. Arpad Pusztai
“In 1999, a top researcher of genetically modified organisms, Dr. Arpad Pusztai, revealed that rats fed GM potatoes developed horrible abnormalities, an indication all GM foods created by the same process might produce ill effects. He was fired and pro-GM forces discredited the study. After he presented his results to the European Parliament, manufacturers agreed to keep GMOs out of their European products. The U.S. media paid little attention, and ignored other important findings: a Russian National Academy of Science study showing that a horde of rats fed GM soy died shortly after birth; the deaths of 10,000 sheep in India a few days after grazing on plants of cotton engineered to produce their own pesticide; a study showing genes inserted into GM food crops can transfer into the DNA of our gut bacteria.
“The website NaturalRevolution.org says the FDA doesn’t require GMO safety testing. ‘Research’ alleging safety of GM food crops is voluntarily provided by the producers. However, after a lawsuit forced disclosure of 44,000 company documents, ‘the overwhelming consensus among the FDA’s scientists’ was that eating GM foods ‘might result in unpredictable and hard-to-detect allergens, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems.’ They urged long-term studies, but superiors ignored them and ‘their statements about possible negative effects of GMOs were progressively deleted from FDA policy statement drafts.’ The major media ignored evidence of these occurrences presented at a 1999 press conference. A mountain of additional information damning to GM foods is contained in a number of websites.”
Down on anti-GMO countries
Then came a revelation in Wikileaks that a former U.S. ambassador to France several years ago urged our government to retaliate against that and other European nations for banning GMO corn produced by Monsanto. The ambassador, Craig Stapleton, recommended in a cable “that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU (European Union) … .”
And we should trust what these official sources say about GMOs?
In their essay, the professors made zero reference to the scientific findings about potential health hazards of GMOs. Is it reasonable to assume these experts can be ignorant of them? Their arguments sound so convincing. They reference a list of scientific and medical organizations that declare GMOs to be safe for eating and say that Chipotle “probably is responding to market forces,” since most Americans have doubts about GMOs, and accuse it of joining other companies in an “endeavor to deceive the public.”
GMOs’ good side
The professors point to important benefits of GMO crops, including huge yields, which are needed in geographical locations where food supplies are inadequate to feed the populations. One can’t argue with that. But it does not justify ignoring or quashing evidence of possible health risks in consuming GMO foods.
And it does not justify laxness by the media in bringing these documented health risks to the attention of the public.