Biohazard spin by Susan Ellis Biohazard spin by Susan Ellis

Who's Spinning the Pro-GM Story?

(Last updated 13 January 2003)

Other pages -> Genetically Modified Food - UK and World News

People who promote GM food and/or denigrate Organic food

Avery, Alex (aavery@rica.net)
Hudson Institute, Center for Global Food Issues
Son of Dennis Avery
Author of : The Organic Food Industry: Smearing The Competition - A paper published (13 March 2000) on The Biotechnology Knowledge Center which attempts to perpetuate the E.Coli contamination myth. For more information about this myth see The myth of E.coli / Faecal Contamination in Organic food.

Avery, Dennis (cgfi@rica.net)
Hudson Institute, Center for Global Food Issues
Advisor to the American Council on Science and Health
Author of :
Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastic - The Environmental Triumph of High-Yield Farming
The Hidden Dangers in Organic Food - Published (Fall 1998) on the Hudson Institute website which tries to perpetuate the E.Coli contamination myth.
Another Dubious Link Between Pesticides and Cancer - Another article which tries to perpetuate the E.Coli myth.
The Silent Killer in Organic Foods - Another article which tries to perpetuate the E.Coli myth.
Cited in :
Fearing Food: Risk, Health and Environment, by Roger Bate and Julian Morris

Bate, Roger (rbate@iea.org.uk)
Institute of Economic Affairs
Executive Director, European Science and Environment Forum
Presenter of the BBC2 program Organic Food: The Modern Myth
Joint author, with Julian Morris of Fearing Food: Risk, Health and Environment. The IEA website describes the book in the following way : "In the latest ESEF book, Fearing Food, new agricultural and food technologies, including genetic engineering, are shown to be generally beneficial both to health and to the environment."

This book is also mentioned in an IEA Press Release (16 August 1999) which includes phrases such as "Londoners demand regulation of potentially deadly organic food". The Press Release is based on a misleading survey by the IEA of only 121 people which used the phrase "carbon-based biological technologies" instead of "organic" : "Farmers in EU and USA are adopting carbon-based biological technologies to make novel foods to be sold at premium prices in niche markets. Some proponents of these technologies are demanding government subsidies to expand the areas cultivated under these techniques claiming environmental benefits and better tasting foods."

Caton, Greg (caton@ifu.net)
Owner of Lumen Foods, whose website hosts pro-GM
articles by Dennis Avery and Michael Fumento of the Hudson Institute.

Conko, Gregory (conko@cei.org)
Director of Food Safety Policy at the
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Joint author, with Henry I. Miller of :
Cloudy horizons in a brave new world - An article on the European Science and Economic Forum website which suggests that concerns about the safety of GM food are only because of "trade protectionism" and "anti-science fearmongering". Miller and Conko argue against the adoption of the precautionary principle, which would insist on safety testing of GM foods before they are released, on the grounds that "This erects an almost insurmountable barrier against new products because nothing can be proved totally safe - at least, not to the standard demanded by anti-technology extremists.".

For Conko and Miller, it seems that bringing a product to market quickly is more important than ensuring the safety of that product.

Quoted in Developing World Scientists Condemn Anti-Biotech Chefs (10 April 2000) on the CEI website. This press release also includes a quote from C.S. Prakash.

DeGregori, Thomas R. (trdegreg@uh.edu)
Institute of Economic Affairs
American Council on Science and Health
Author of :
Can Organic Agriculture Feed the World? - An article published (16 July 1999) on drkoop.com which begins "Romantic notions about the environment and technology are harmful, for their implementation can lower quality of life and worsen the problems implementation was meant to solve." and concludes incorrectly : "Organic agriculture does not pass the first test of sustainability: It cannot sustain the existing population of the world."
Genetically Modified Nonsense - An article published on the Institute of Economic Affairs website which includes sentiments such as : "It is ironic that in seeking to prohibit genetic engineering, the environmentalist would inhibit the process of creating more disease-resistant varieties of crops that would facilitate their being grown with fewer pesticides.". In fact, Genetically Modified crops in many cases require more pesticides than their conventional or organic equivalents.

Dunwell, Jim (J.M.Dunwell@reading.ac.uk)
Advisor to
CropGen
Author of :
Is transgenic food dangerous? A personal view. Focus on BiopesticidesPLUS. Nov. 1-2
How to engineer a crop plant. Pesticide Outlook 9: 29-33
Novel food products from genetically modified crop plants: methods and future prospects. Int. J. Food Sci. Tech. 33: 205-213
Transgenic crop plants: the next generation or an example of 2020 vision. Ann. Bot. 84:269-277.
Transgenic approaches to crop improvement. J. Exp. Bot.

Feldbaum, Carl (cfeldbaum@bio.org)
President of the
Biotechnology Industry Organisation
Quoted in a Washington Post article (15 August 1999) which discussed labelling of GM foods. He stated : "...a label would be seen as a stigma, like a skull and crossbones."

Fumento, Michael (michaelf@hudson.org)
Member of the
Hudson Institute
Author of :
City slickers off target in pesticide report - an article published (15 December 1998) in the Idaho Statesman which criticises "...the environmentalists' never-ending campaign against pesticides" and suggests that if pesticides were banned that "...we'll all be forced to eat expensive, ugly, shriveled-looking organic produce...".

Gonsalves, Dennis (dg12@cornell.edu)
Cornell University
Developer of Genetically Modified Papaya, which has never been through independent food safety testing.

Halford, Nigel (nigel.halford@bbsrc.ac.uk)
IACR-Long Ashton Research Station, University of Bristol
Advisor to
CropGen
Author of :
Dr Frankenstein I presume? BBSRC Business, January 1999.
Genetically Modified Crops. University of Bristol Newsletter, June 1999.
Genetically modified crops - what are they and why are they used. Mendip and North Somerset Magazine.
Genetically modified crops: methodology, benefits, regulation and public concerns. British Medical Bulletin, 56, in press.
The great GM debate. Biological Sciences Review, in press.

Hillman, John (J.Hillman@scri.sari.ac.uk)
Director of the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI)
Board member of the BioIndustry Association
Author of an article in the SCRI annual report which suggests that organic farming poses risks to human health. For more information see here.
Contributor to Fearing Food: Risk, Health and Environment, by Roger Bate and Julian Morris

Klurfeld, David (dklurfe@lifesci.wayne.edu)
Scientific Advisor to the
American Council on Science and Health (ACSH)
Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Wayne State University
Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition
Editor of Nutrition News Focus - A publication which has included a series of ten pro-GM articles (December 1999-February 2000).
Author of Organic Food: Food for Thought? - An article published (17 February 2000) on the ACSH website which attempts to build on the ABC News 20/20 program produced by John Stossel. This biased program tried to perpetuate the myth of E.Coli contamination in Organic food.

Krebs, John (John.Krebs@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk)
Chairman of the UK
Food Standards Agency (FSA)
Despite his supposedly independent role in the FSA, Sir John Krebs claimed on the BBC Countryfile program that organic food is no safer or more nutritious than conventionally grown food. See here for the BBC News report.
John Krebs chaired the OECD conference on GM food, held in Edinburgh during 29 February to 2 March 2000. At this conference only one scientist sceptical of GM food was invited, Dr. Arpad Pusztai. For more information on John Krebs, see the NGIN website.

Lutman, Peter (Peter.Lutman@bbsrc.ac.uk)
Advisor to
CropGen

Helen Millar
Advisor to
CropGen
Former member of the UK Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP).

Miller, Henry I (miller@hoover.stanford.edu)
Senior research fellow at the
Hoover Institution
Joint author, with Gregory Conko of :
Cloudy horizons in a brave new world - An article on the European Science and Economic Forum website which suggests that concerns about the safety of GM food are only because of "trade protectionism" and "anti-science fearmongering". Miller and Conko argue against the adoption of the precautionary principle, which would insist on safety testing of GM foods before they are released, on the grounds that "This erects an almost insurmountable barrier against new products because nothing can be proved totally safe - at least, not to the standard demanded by anti-technology extremists.". For these men, it seems that bringing a product to market quickly is more important than ensuring the safety of that product.

Morris, Julian (jmorris@iea.org.uk)
Institute of Economic Affairs
Appeared on the BBC2 program Organic Food: The Modern Myth
Joint author, with Roger Bate, of Fearing Food: Risk, Health and Environment

Moses, Vivian (V.Moses@qmw.ac.uk)
University College London
Advisor to
CropGen
Author of :
From Cells to Sales: Competition, selection and evolution in the marketing of products and services, in Bio/Technology
Exploiting biotechnology. London and New York: Harwood Academic Press
Biotechnology: the science and the business. London, New York and Chur: Harwood Academic Press.

Mottley, John (J.Mottley@uel.ac.uk)
University of East London
Signatory to the
Consumer Alert pro-GM petition.
Quoted as saying : "It might sound a bit Goebbelian, but we need to win the war of words, as well as the science war, if the public are to be persuaded to accept GMOs."

Munkvold, Gary (munkvold@iastate.edu)
Iowa State University
Author of :
The good news about Bt corn - A piece published on the Information Systems for Biotechnology News Report, December 1999. This article suggests that Bt corn is safer because it contains fewer mycotoxins. He suggests that mycotoxins (produced by fungi) are carried by the European Corn Borer. This suggestion is repeated in his article Genetically modified insect resistant corn : implications for disease management published on APSnet (Plant Pathology Online).

Poppy, Guy
Institute of Arable Crop Research, University of Bristol
Advisor to
CropGen

Prakash, C.S. (prakash@tusk.edu)
Director of the Center for Plant Biotechnology Research, Tuskegee University
Member of USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology
Quoted in Developing World Scientists Condemn Anti-Biotech Chefs (10 April 2000) on the
CEI website. This press release also includes a quote from Gregory Conko.

Rowe, Sylvia
President and CEO of the
International Food Information Council, which opposes labelling of Genetically Modified Foods.

Slater, Howard
School of Pure & Applied Biology, University of Wales
Advisor to
CropGen
His department received funding from Zeneca (now AstraZeneca) in 1997.

Stott, Philip (stott2@compuserve.com)
Institute of Economic Affairs
Author of :
Adapt or Perish - an article published on the European Science and Environment Forum website (originally in the WSJ on 7 October 1999) reviewing Fearing Food: Risk, Health and Environment by Roger Bate and Julian Morris of the Institute of Economic Affairs

Smith, Frances B. (fbsmith@consumeralert.org)
Executive Director,
Consumer Alert

Trewavas, Anthony (trewavas@ed.ac.uk)
Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh
Author of :
Is Organic Food Really Safe? - published on the Monsanto UK website. This article attempts to continue the myths of E.Coli contamination and allegedly higher levels of mycotoxin in Organic food.

See also the following articles on gmfoodnews.com for information about the successful libel case brought by Greenpeace against the Glasgow Herald, which published a letter by Anthony Trewavas :

2 November 2001 - More on Anthony Trewavas and the Glasgow Herald (Private Eye)
11 October 2001 - Pro-GM Royal Society Fellow named as source of libel case allegations (ISIS)
6 October 2001 - Greenpeace victory over GM food claims (The Scotsman UK)

Trewavas is a fellow of the Royal Society and is recommended as a press contact for stories relating to GM food and GM crops.

Tribe, David (d.tribe@microbiology.unimelb.edu.au)
University of Melbourne, Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Waites, William (William.Waites@nottingham.ac.uk)
University of Nottingham
Advisor to
CropGen

Wallach, Stanley
Executive Director,
American College of Nutrition
Author of:
Biotechnology A Tool to Help End World Hunger

Whelan, Elizabeth (whelan@acsh.org)
President of the
American Council on Science and Health
Author of :
Toxic Terror : The Truth Behind the Cancer Scares


Organisations which promote GM food and/or denigrate Organic food

American College of Nutrition
The ACN journal is edited by GM proponent
David Klurfeld
Stanley Wallach is Executive Director of ACN

American Council on Science and Health
Describes itself as a "consumer education consortium concerned with issues related to food, nutrition, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, lifestyle, the environment and health."
Published the articles :
Consumers Should Dismiss Fearmongering About Genetically Engineered Foods - Includes comments from Ruth Kava and Elizabeth Whelan.
Organic Food : Food for Thought?, by David Klurfeld, which attempts to perpetuate the faecal contamination myth.
'Organic' Foods: Feeding the Frenzy, by Marilynn Larkin.
'Organic' Hype Comes Naturally to Swissair, by Jack Raso and Simona Kwon

Biotechnology Industry Organization
Mission : "The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) represents biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations throughout the United States and in many other countries."
Headed by
Carl Feldbaum.
Members include :
AstraZeneca
AgrEvo
Monsanto
Novartis

BioIndustry Association
Mission : "Encouraging and promoting the biotechnology sector of the UK economy."
Includes John Hillman on its board of directors.

Competitive Enterprise Institute
Mission : "Advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government"
Staff includes Gregory Conko. Directors include members of the Hoover Institution and Consumer Alert

Consumer Alert
Consumer Alert
website includes articles by Henry I. Miller, Michael Fumento and Frances B. Smith.
Published a "declaration of support" for agricultural biotechnology signed by over 600 scientists including signatories from Monsanto (67 individuals), Pioneer Hibred (22 individuals), Dow (21 individuals) and Amercian Council on Science and Health (2 individuals)

CropGen
Mission : "CropGen's mission is to make the case for GM crops by helping to achieve a greater measure of realism and better balance in the UK public debate about crop biotechnology.

While ultimately funded by industry, CropGen's panel members are free to express such views as they consider appropriate. The funding companies cannot veto the panel's position on any issue."

These are the panel members of CropGen :

1 Vivian Moses - Biotechnology
2 Jim Dunwell - Plant Science
3 Nigel Halford - Plant Science
4 Peter Lutman - Plant Science
5 Helen Millar - Consumer Affairs
6 Guy Poppy - Ecology
7 Howard Slater - Microbiology
8 Will Waites - Food Microbiology

European Science and Environment Forum
Mission : "...to ensure that environmental debates are properly aired, and that decisions which are taken, and action that is proposed, are founded on sound scientific principles."

Includes in its Press Release section : "Hundreds of scientists appeal for continued use of DDT to contain spread of malaria"

Food Standards Agency
Mission : "To protect public health from risks which may arise in connection with the consumption of food, and otherwise to protect the interests of consumers in relation to food."
A UK Government organisation, set up on 1 April 2000, chaired by GM advocate Sir John Krebs.

Hoover Institution
Has published :
Global Food Fight by Henry I. Miller
Field of Genes - Genetically Modified Foods by Henry I. Miller, Walter Anderson and Peggy Lemaux

Hudson Institute
Has published numerous articles by Dennis Avery and Michael Fumento
Funded by, amongst others :
AgrEvo
Dow AgroSciences
Monsanto Company
Novartis Crop Protection
Zeneca

Institute of Economic Affairs
Mission : "...to improve public understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society, with particular reference to the role of markets in solving economic and social problems."
Personnel include Roger Bate and Julian Morris.

International Food Information Council
Mission : "...a nonprofit organization that communicates sound science-based information on food safety and nutrition topics to health professionals, journalists, government officials and consumers."
Includes an article titled What The Experts Say About Food Biotechnology on its website (February 2000) stating "Foods from biotechnology are safe", "Biotechnology offers benefits" and "Biotechnology has additional supporters". This article includes quotes from Dennis Avery and Henry I. Miller.
IFIC staff include :
Sylvia Rowe, President and CEO
David B. Schmidt, Senior Vice President

National Center for Public Policy Research
States on its website : "The environment is too important to leave in the hands of political activists. Yet, this is precisely where the United States has left most environmental decision-making in recent years. Political activists -- not authentic environmental scholars, scientists and economists -- have come to dominate both the headlines and Washington's legislative agenda. Activists with little or no practical experience or scientific training are frequently cited in the national news media as "experts" -- or worse, as "scientists." The result: The federal government often spends billions in taxpayer dollars regulating peoples' lives to solve questionable environmental risks while ignoring real ones."

The truth is that the NCPPR's own "Environmental Policy Task Force" consists of a
list of 141 "real environmental scientists, economists and experts" including Dennis Avery, Michael Fumento and Frances B. Smith. As can be seen from the references to these people on this page, these members of the pro-GM lobby people also have "little or no practical experience or scientific training"...

National Consumer Coalition
Published (15 October 1999) the article
World Food Day and Feeding the World: The Threat Isn't Too Little Food; It's Too Much Government.
This article cites as NCC Food Group members :
Sam Kazman, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Alex Avery, Hudson Institute
Dennis Avery, Hudson Institute
Ruth Kava, American Council on Science and Health
James Plummer, Consumer Alert

Novatero
Mission : "The NovaTero Foundation is a charitable not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide innovative scientific solutions to meet priorty agricultural and medical needs in the Developing World through the latest techiques of biochemistry and molecular biology"

An organisation trying to put a positive 'spin' on GM food by stating that it's developing solutions for the developing world. In reality, GM foods are not needed to solve world hunger and malnutrition. What's needed is the political will and distribution mechanisms to get food to the people who need it. This organisation includes a member of the Dow Chemical company on its
board.

Nutrition News Focus
Mission : "Now when nutrition news gets confusing, there IS a place to go to get the real story.
Want to make sense of all the confusing nutrition news you're bombarded with every day? Are you tired of hearing that some food is good for you on Monday morning, only to hear that it's "poison" on Friday afternoon?"

Edited by David Klurfeld
Has published the following pro-GM articles :

8 Dec 1999 - Genetically Modified Food - Includes : "...the public needs to get better educated about this issue. This is the object of the upcoming NNF series."
15 Dec 1999 - What is a GM Food? - Includes : "Many GM foods have great potential to reduce hunger and nutritional deficiencies around the world. Just as indiscriminate adoption of this technology would be foolish, complete opposition to this comes only from parts of the world that do not worry about these problems."
22 Dec 1999 - GM Foods: Frankenstein Foods? - Includes : "The inadequate response by authorities and the apparent attempt to cover up the link between beef consumption and a form of fatal, neurologic disease has generated tremendous mistrust that filters down to GM foods."
29 Dec 1999 - GM Hot Potatoes - Includes (criticising the study by Arpad Pusztai) : "There are several fatal flaws in the design of the study. The diet was severely protein deficient, containing one-third the usual amount; this, by itself, was unacceptable. Although the authors talk about changes in cell proliferation, they did not directly measure this, and the measurements they made are very crude and subject to many artifacts. The results are contradictory in different parts of the intestine, and may simply represent normal responses to the potato starch."
5 Jan 2000 - Help, I'm Allergic to GM Foods! - Includes : "In the U.S., GM crops such as corn and soybeans have been consumed by most people without any harm.".
12 Jan 2000 - GM Foods are Everywhere - Includes : "You may not realize when GM ingredients are in your food in the U.S. In Europe, there is legislation to label such foods and that may greatly decrease the use of them because it would mean having separate production lines for conventional and GM crops."
19 Jan 2000 - GM Foods: Butterflies are Free - Includes (criticising the findings at Cornell University about Bt corn pollen killing Monarch butterflies) : "Colleagues of the researchers at Cornell published a sharp critique of the study in the September 1999 issue of Nature Biotechnology, describing the original study as a preliminary lab experiment that had little meaning for field conditions."
26 Jan 2000 - GM Crop Concerns - Includes : "There is natural resistance to herbicides in some wild plants (that's how they survive spraying). Scientists are debating the risk of such accidental crosses - most think the risks have been greatly exaggerated but much more study is needed."
2 Feb 2000 - Will GM Food Just Make Companies Richer?" - Includes : "Companies producing GM foods will get richer if the public accepts this technology. Acceptance will result if the public is convinced that GM foods pose no environmental danger. Acceptance will mean that nutrition should improve and the environment should get cleaner when fewer chemicals are used."
9 Feb 2000 - GM Food Attitudes - Cites a survey by the International Food Information Council about GM food and labelling.

UK Government - GM Communications Unit
Mission : "This web site aims to provide you with an overview of Government policy on GM crops and food, the development of biotechnology, and the use of GM technology in human health issues."

This site shows that GM foods currently on sale in the UK have not been through independent safety testing. Instead they are subject only to "assessment", based on data provided by the manufacturer of the Genetically Modified crop.