Rarely is there a shortage of news from around the world related to biotechnology or trade issues. Sadly though, much of it stems from the creative minds of professional activists looking to sow confusion to suit their own misguided missions, deftly using the media and internet – where it can at times be hard for people to know what is real and what is not.
Current examples in the news where this is taking place are the Greenpeace legal challenge against biotech crops being grown in the Philippines, and false rumors (sometimes known as ‘facts’ on the internet) being created the Zika virus being linked to pesticides, biotechnology, or anything related to “big” ag or industry. Nor can we ignore the constant recycling of previously debunked and false information – such as another “review” on glyphosate by anti-ag/biotech researchers such as Charles Benbrook (available here and response/rebuttal here) which is simply an effort to confuse consumers and restrict use of needed products. Let’s not even get started on the truly crackpot conspiracy theories (such as this Iranian accusation of biotech food being a ‘Zionist plot’ – click here).
That all said, the activist myth industry is simply too financially lucrative for the people behind the organizations. They make some pretty good coin. For example, regarding perhaps the most well-know professional activist group:
Greenpeace’s confrontational and swashbuckling approach has helped make it one the world’s most powerful environmental NGOs, with branches in 41 countries, 2.9 million donors and more than $350 million in annual contributions.
- The Inside Story of How Greenpeace Built A Corporate Spanking Machine To Turn The Fortune 500 Into Climate Heroes – Business Insider – Jun 4, 2014 by Aaron Gell
And, that’s just one of many activist groups…
Links to stories related to what’s mentioned above as well as other news items of interest can be found below. Be sure to check back on Thursday for the new weekly column to be posted at the Global Farmer Network website – or sign up to receive the email alert to remind you!
Reuters – Asia watches as GMO legal challenge threatens Philippines food supply – By Manoloa Serapio Jr and Enrico Dela Cruz (Feb 16)
“A legal challenge to the Philippines’ rules on genetically modified organisms [brought by Greenpeace] is threatening to spark a food crisis in the country and could cloud the outlook for GM technology around Asia.”
The Land (Australia) – GM pressure mounting – By Rachael Oxborrow (Feb 15)
“WA Labor has threatened to use the laws to stop WA growers accessing the [GM] technology, if they were to be voted in at the next State election in March 2017.”
News Ghana – FAO says family farmers need push on biotech agriculture (Feb 15)
“Much more must be done to help family farmers across the world use biotechnologies that can improve productivity and sustainability, experts said here on Monday.”
Forbes.com – The Anti-GMO Doctors Behind False Monsanto Microcephaly Link – By Kavin Senapathy (Feb 16)
With worldwide fear over mosquito-borne Zika virus and growing evidence suggesting that the infection is to blame for the surge of babies born with abnormally small heads (microcephaly) in Brazil and Argentina, it was only a matter of time before the conspiracy theories took hold. The prediction came true on Monday…”
USA Today – Scientists debunk theory linking pesticide, not Zika, to birth defects – By Liz Szabo (Feb 16)
“The theory gained traction among social media users after Argentine environmentalists issued a report…”
Reuters – Genes, bugs and radiation: WHO backs new weapons in Zika fight – By Ben Hirschler (Feb 16)
“Countries battling the Zika virus should consider new ways to curb disease-carrying mosquitoes, including testing the release of genetically modified insects and bacteria that stop their eggs hatching, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.”
Fox News Latino / EFE – Biotechnology may help control Zika in Brazil – Feb 16
“Biotechnology has contributed to increasing farm productivity in Brazil and may now provide tools to control diseases, such as Zika…”
Food Navigator – French & German authorities weigh in on ’emotional’ glyphosate debate – By Niamh Michail (17-Feb)
“Glyphosate cannot be classed as a probable carcinogen but its use in formulations could be a cause for concern, says the French food safety authority while the German safety body has called for scientific professionalism to spare consumers unnecessary confusion.”
Feedstuffs – Poultry industry grapples with marketing terminology (Feb 9)
“Natural,” “organic,” “hormone free,” “pesticide free,” “non-GMO” — These are just a few of the terms consumers encounter when purchasing meat at the grocery store. While some argue that these labeling terms describe the products, others have argued that the terms are meaningless and part of a marketing ploy to drive sales and increase prices. Now, consumers are being confronted by the latest labeling additions: “antibiotic free,” “raised without antibiotics” and “no antibiotics.” What’s the real story behind this growing trend?
Foreign Policy – Why Is China Spending $43 Billion for a Farming Company? – By Keith Johnson (Feb 15)
“The biggest overseas purchase in Chinese history is meant to ensure the world’s largest country can keep feeding its people.”
Yahoo! News / Agence France Press – Growers despair as disease ravages timeless olive groves of Italy – By Laure Brumont (Feb 15)
“What is clear is that the potential damage is huge: xylella does not harm humans but can kill over 200 types of plant, including fruit trees and grape vines.”
Southeast Farm Press – Florida farm tries olives after catastrophic citrus greening losses – By Beverly James, Univ. of Florida (Feb 8)
“Planting olives is not for the faint of heart by any stretch of the imagination. This is so new that we are learning every day,” said Williams, whose wife Lisa helps run Florida Olive Systems, Inc. “But it’s a new opportunity to reinvent ourselves after catastrophic losses to citrus greening.”
Agri-Pulse – Russia issues temporary ban on US corn, soybeans – By Spencer Chase (Feb 11)
“Alesky Alekseenko, a spokesman for Rosselkhoznadzor, the Russian government’s sanitary and phytosanitary regulatory arm, said the U.S. products “pose a real threat to Russia” and the country “reserve(s) the right” to implement a temporary ban.”