Commentary: Misinformation Central
Man may not live on bread alone, but he sure as heck doesn’t live on fruits and vegetables alone.
More importantly, golden rice is a project undertaken by academic researchers, not scientists employed by industry. The goal isn’t to rake in big bucks, but to advance a humanitarian objective: better health for millions of the world’s poorest children. Plus, the research is being shared publicly, so for Nestle to label golden rice as a PR stunt is disingenuous, to say the least.
› Herbicides. When the discussion moved on to herbicide use, one panelist went off the rails. Ricardo Salvador, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, stated that industry’s claims (read, “Monsanto’s claims”) about reducing herbicide use “don’t stand up to scrutiny,” even though a number of studies, including one from USDA, confirm that herbicide use has been reduced.
Even worse, Colicchio chimed in that widespread cultivation of GM soybeans and corn in the United States has led to “an increase in the use of pesticides, which destroys everything in the soil.”
Wow. Wrong on all three counts. Biotech crops are engineered to resist herbicides, not pesticides, which are arguably harsher, more concentrated and potentially more toxic. In fact, Round-up is probably the least problematic herbicide in current use, and without such a relatively benign, wide-spectrum herbicide, no-till planting—an ecological superior alternative to plowing—would be less effective and less likely to be utilized.
After half hour of back-and-forth among the MSNBC panelists, the bottom line was pretty clear: Merely empanelling a bunch of so-called experts is no guarantee that the discussion will produce a whole lot of enlightenment.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.