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Genetically modified crops - February issue

Ben David b_david2 at netvision.net.il
Sun Feb 21 10:24:34 EST 1999

Hybrid-T wrote:

> Point taken. However, there is a level of basic scientific understanding
> which can help one unravel what is possible from what is totally
> preposterous. Science does make mistakes, and I never claimed that GM
> crops would be safe. I just meant that people who hadn't reached that
> basic level of understanding would not be able to distinguish the things
> that were not possible, thus leading to unproductive panic and paranoia.
> If the danger or threat of GM crops is to be determined, it must be by
> informed, knowledgeable people.
> Also, the examples you cited were never cold scientific facts until they
> were "tested", (in a rather gruesome way certainly) and then the
> opposite became the scientific fact.

 - come again?Thalidomide was released to the public AFTER drug trials and
other tests "proved" that it was safe (trials conducted by what you call
"informed, knowledgable people" - all those scientists on mount olympus,
incomprehendible to us all....). I quite agree that releasing a new
substance for general use without sufficient trials is a "rather gruesome"
way to find out there are problems..............that's exactly what we
not-so-know-nothing laypeople wish to avoid in the case of genetically
modified foods.

In the case of asbestos (and cigarettes) the "informed, knowledgable people"
also had a vested profit motive for fudging and supressing the truth from
all us hayseeds/consumers.
And now we are told the data submitted to the government regulators (almost
all of it from Monsanto, almost none of it from independent parties) is
proprietary information and can't be released to the public.

The asbestos/thalidomide business pattern repeats itself in the finessing of
genetech through the regulatory agencies.....only this time the Monsantos of
the world are carefully doing all they can to ensure that any ill effects
cannot be traced back to their products.

Last night on the BBC world service, a British toxicologist was interviewed
about genetech. He made a very valid point: though drugs are used in a very
limited and controlled manner, they are subjected to rigorous safety
testing. By contrast, genetically modified foods will be consumed by many
people in large quantities over their lifetimes - which raises the
statistical stakes enormously, both for immediate and cumulative ill
effects. Yet they have not been subect to anything approaching the safety
testing for niche drugs.

This is not a scientific issue. Monsanto has a business plan. This is being
done for money, not Nobel prizes. It's foolish to set Monsanto's scientists
up as some sort of Olympian crew.
They're not in an ivory tower - they are what we call "the boys in the back
When it comes to checking that the market moves of a powerful for-profit
entity don't trample public interest, we're all experts.


> And the use of leeches was never
> based on science- as what we would call science- and interestingly
> enough leeches are being used again in medicine.
> Jon Rouse wrote:
> >
> >
> > Would that be cold scientific facts like leeches are good for you, or
> > cold
> > scientific facts like Thalidomide is helpful in prgenancy, or cold
> > scientific facts like asbestos is safe to handle?

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