As more and more people begin to understand the measurable benefits (and immeasurably tiny risks) associated with genetically improved foods, some activists will stop at nothing to try and turn the tide against those responsible for this latest agricultural revolution.
Few facts about feeding the world are clearer than these:
The much-discussed “Precautionary Principle” is not based on science, but on hypothetical risks that are far to small to be counted any other way;
Americans have already been eating this food in great quantities for more than seven years;
No one has suffered so much as a sniffle from eating a biotech food that reached the marketplace after normal safety testing; and
Africans, most notably those in Zambia, will starve by the millions without access to biotech grain.
Still, activists march on in their quest to spread infectious ignorance. Last week, Greenpeace convinced Trader Joe’s, a US-based grocery chain, to remove genetically improved ingredients from all of its store-brand food products. Greenpeace has said that it will use this victory in order to pressure other grocery chains to follow suit.
Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser is insisting on taking his anti-Monsanto crusade all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court. Schmeiser has been claiming for years that biotech canola in a field five miles away “contaminated” his crop. A court of law, however, found that over 90 percent of his field contained genetically modified canola — which could only happen if he had planted the biotech seeds himself. Activist groups like the Council of Canadians (roughly equivalent to Ralph Nader’s scare-mongering Public Citizen organization) are already hedging their bets, conceding that Schmeiser might be lying but calling it “irrelevant.”
The coup de grace comes from activist groups like Consumers International and the Institute for Food and Development Policy. Along with anti-scientific activists like Vandana Shiva and Mae Wan Ho, they are setting up a phony “African Consumers Conference” — in Zambia, of all places — in order to present the illusion that sub-Saharan Africans would rather starve than eat biotech grain. So far, the spin may be working: the Christian Science Monitor reports that “misinformation has clouded the debate.” One typical comment from a Zambian who has swallowed a little too much activist propaganda: “The problem is with the GM poison. It shortens human life. I would not eat it — for I could die.”