On Monday a band of luddites hailing from activist groups like the Organic Consumers Association and the Institute for Social Ecology (aka “Northeast RAGE”) declared war on U.S. grocery stores. Their goal? To “increase pressure on supermarkets to remove genetically engineered ingredients from their store food brands.”
We’ve heard this rubbish before, of course, only now the rantings of U.S.-based anti-biotech organizers seem tame in comparison to what’s happening overseas. In Zambia, U.S. food aid has been refused entry, despite widespread famine, because it might contain biotech ingredients – the same ingredients that North Americans have been safely eating for many years. Now activists from Consumers International and other international NGOs are being accused of hijacking a Zambian “food security conference” by refusing some scientists the opportunity to talk about plant biotech successes.
Professor Jocelyn Webster told The Times of Zambia that Consumers International “are using well known global campaigners against biotechnology who are giving consumers wrong information.” And South African Seed Organization officer Wynand Can Der Walt complained that the activists are “excluding those of us who are in favour of genetically modified food. Maybe they’re scared of the correct information.”
A similar atmosphere exists in Great Britain, according to Royal Society of Edinburgh professor Tony Trewavas. He told the Scottish Parliament’s health committee last week that organic-food activists whose orthodoxy requires strict adherence to the “Precautionary Principle” are steering UK consumers in the wrong direction.
“The precautionary principle,” said Trewavas, “which says do nothing until you know everything about anything is in fact a recipe for total stagnation. We would never have developed electricity, gas or aeroplanes or trains or anything if we had ever taken that principal to heart in life.”