July 09, 2003


Further to yesterday’s Age piece on GM foods, this letter in today’s edition:

Well done, Gyorgy Scrinis, for one of the best and most hard-hitting articles against GM foods that I have read. The global food corporations must be worried with this sort of exposure of their motives.

Others disagree. Interesting that this was the only letter on the subject that the Age published. Maybe they had to make room for the lead letter, a comical work by a former Howard voter who complains about “the illegal invasion of Iraq”.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 9, 2003 05:37 AM

Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is right. In fact. Monsanto and ConAgra will be surrendering the GM fight and filing for bankruptcy tomorrow.

Does the letter writer (or Scrinis, for that matter) think the corn, cotton, tomatoes, etc. that we know today were just given to us all in their present form by the Baby Jeebus?

We've been genetically modifying food since we started cultivating it, gumbrains.

Posted by: E.A. at July 9, 2003 at 06:26 AM

Yeah, but Back Then we did it properly, with stone tools and sacrifices to Ishtar, or something. Maybe if Monsanto built an altar to the Corn Woman in the lobby of their main HQ they'd get more respect.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 9, 2003 at 06:41 AM

The letter continues:

When Western corporations talk about feeding the world, everyone should be suspicious. For years now the West has produced an oversupply of food and we have got fatter while the Third World has got thinner. If we have global corporations denying AIDS drugs to the Third World, then how come they are becoming so concerned about solving their food problems?

Because they can make money doing so? Why is this so hard for people to understand?

And contrary to the letter-writer's delusions, the Third World is not getting thinner, unless they're dieting. According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, the number of "hungry people" in developing countries is now 777 million, 38 million fewer than in 1990-92. Although this is still far too many, this is astonishing progress, when you consider the population growth in these countries. The number of hungry people is dropping in both relative and absolute terms.

The FAO goes on to say that it expects the number of hungry people in 2030 to be 440 million. By this time, the world population will be 8.3 billion, against just over 6 billion today. So the proportion of hungry people is expected to drop from about 12.8% today to 5.2% in 2030.

Other conclusions from the same report:

-The world population will be increasingly well-fed by 2030.
-The use of cereals as animal feed does not contribute to hunger and undernutrition.
-Much of future food production growth will come from higher productivity.
-The expansion of farmland for food production will be slower than in the past.
-[G]lobally, deforestation will probably continue to slow down in future.
-At global level there is enough water available, but some regions will face serious water shortages.

And, of course:
-Modern biotechnology offers promise as a means to improving food security.

Myth-busting galore, and all in one report! The UN is good for this kind of stuff, if not for its primary mission.

Posted by: murray at July 9, 2003 at 06:58 AM

Good on you, EA. These people should all go back to eating the unmodified version of corn: the American Indians called it "grass."

Jesus ... yeah, I can see the Council of Nine gathered at their polished conference table (made of the shinbones of African malnutrition victims), reading the Age on some sort of holographic device, and then the lead guy (Doktor Genocide) yells "Curses!" and a bunch of robot bats fly around.

Anyway, it's astounding that this article claimed GM crops would for some reason require *more* pesticide ... breeding pest-resistant crops is sort of the point: less waste, bigger yield, less use of nasty crap that stays in the runoff and has to be cleaned up later. Jackass.

Posted by: Ken Layne at July 9, 2003 at 07:13 AM

Don't ever eat Broccoli. It was gentically engineered from other species by the family who gave us the James Bond flicks. Is this just a curious coincidence?

Posted by: Wallace at July 9, 2003 at 07:15 AM

All crops are gm modified - its just done in very fast time now .But, dang, I'll give up eating Gm crops. No veges for me... I'll eat more meat, several caracasses a week of prime steak, done rare.
Oh , blast, cattle are gm too, so are sheep, chickens , goats, pet dogs - I'd include cats but I don't like cats and do my best to rid the earth of this frankenstein monster. Oh well, back to eating my 3 gm veges with the 1lb of lip smacking beef a night.

Posted by: d at July 9, 2003 at 09:36 AM

Let's stick to eating dirt- there's no genes to modify, except for the microbes and the odd earthworm, and they modify themselves.
Yup, the only safe way to go is to become a dirt-nibbler, just like Georgy and Bob Brown.

Posted by: paul bickford at July 9, 2003 at 10:07 AM

Gad, Paul Bickford, you've just outlined a nasty capitalist pig plot to corner the fast food market - mud pies, dirt chips, etc, selling to greenies.And so many varieties: desert dry, bog peat, outback red, river valley black, moss coated topsoil, gritted chestnut brown.Gold I say, pure gold.

Posted by: d at July 9, 2003 at 10:43 AM

Yeah, right.

The Age is irredeemably biased.

And Tim Blair is not.


Posted by: Nemesis at July 9, 2003 at 11:35 AM

Nemesis, your newbie creds are showing again. (That is to say: most anti-Tim commenters have moved on past the old "so is Tim biased!" insult. It's old hat, and even his pottiest detractors have finally understood that Tim has never pretended to be unbiased.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 9, 2003 at 11:43 AM

>Dear Prime Minister,
>As a 30-something Liberal voter and past member of the Victorian branch of the Young Liberals, I have always taken great pride in telling people that ever since the day I was eligible to vote, I have always voted Liberal

Sure! and if you believe that one I can do you a great deal on the Sydney Harbour bridge!

>Bear in mind that these are people who in many cases fled Iraq because of Saddam Hussein; the very same man whom you have so vehemently denounced as a tyrant.

So does the writer believe that Saddam is a tyrant or not?. What would be more compassionate a) fix the problem in the country by removing the tyrant or b) allow the tyrant to remain in place and then give them assylm AFTER he has murdered and tourtered their kin and forced them to flee their own homeland.

Posted by: Robin Wade at July 9, 2003 at 12:10 PM

Another gem of a letter

Gains and losses

Since John Howard changed the capital gains tax, property investors are taxed only half of their profits. Surely it would be fair to allow them to deduct only half of their negative-gearing losses?
Stuart Thomson,
North Melbourne

You get a deduction for negative-gearing off your INCOME tax. You get the full deduction off you INCOME tax because the Govt taxes you at the full marginal rate for INCOME earned off property. Negative-gearing has NOTHING to do with capital gains tax. The editors at the Age must have reliased that this letter was completely incorrect and so why publish it?

Posted by: Robin Wade at July 9, 2003 at 12:20 PM

Hello again Andrea,

Yes, I'm a newbie. Sneer away.

I would even suggest that you put up a special page where you can ladle out doses of snide (and misguided) remarks to your heart's content.

Oh, yes - you already have.

So literal. *Yawn*

Posted by: Nemesis at July 9, 2003 at 12:26 PM

Dude, if it wasn't me, it would be someone even meaner.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 9, 2003 at 12:49 PM

If this is the same Nemesis I've encountered elsewhere in cyberspace, you will find him impervious to abuse. Or argument. Or reason.

Posted by: BW at July 9, 2003 at 12:56 PM

Since the greenies and other communistotards are so much against capital and open commerce: no one sell them a damned thing. Let them scratch around in that otherwise old evil bitch, mudder nature, and supply themselves. Thus, Scrinis,you to can enjoy what you recommend for those in Africa and Asia, you either feed youself or starve tpo death.
Go ahead, Scrinis, Garrett and other polpotian communisto fuckers, lead by example, eliminate the great interloper, man, by showing as how with your own useless lives.

Posted by: d at July 9, 2003 at 02:05 PM

Looks like the whole Fairfax corporation has it in for G.M. foods. The editorial for the SMH has this to say on the subject:

But all this energy expended on labelling is really avoiding the question - are GM foods safe? Were they known to be safe, the need for labelling would diminish greatly. GM crops may look the same as other crops. They may grow the same. They may taste the same. But that is not enough - nobody who looked at a tobacco plant could divine the damage it would wreak.

Properly conducted clinical trials of people eating GM food need to be done. They are difficult, they are expensive and they will take time, perhaps decades. But until they are done, the battle over labelling will continue, and will always be second best to determining whether or not GM foods are safe.

... Which seems to me to be so much paranoid nonsense. I could spend the rest of my life asking - are eggs safe? Are grapes safe? Is oxygen safe? Is water safe? (I refer everyone back to Tim's post yesterday). I could tap my fingers, waiting for 'proper, clinical trials' to be conducted on everything from cordial to chocolate bars.
But that would be stupid. It's up to the biased, unscientific, paranoid anti-GM lobby to prove that GM foods are bad/dangerous/poisonous and that they should be treated differently to every other type of food that mankind has ever known.

Posted by: TimT at July 9, 2003 at 03:33 PM

SMH might has well have finished it's dive into the depths of stupidity by saying: it looks like a pea, smells like one, even tastes like one, if you could get close enough, for it's a big wild man killing elephant.

Posted by: d at July 9, 2003 at 04:16 PM

For a damning condemnation of GYORGY and his-anti-biotech nonsense, click on my name

Posted by: Aaron Oakley at July 9, 2003 at 07:54 PM

Is it possible to catch and kill Robin Wades spelling teacher?

Posted by: ron robertson at July 9, 2003 at 09:48 PM

Sir Luddite of Fucktopia has apparently never heard of Mendel. Are the schools down under as bad as those in the States?

Posted by: Robbin Smith at July 10, 2003 at 12:56 AM

Sir Luddite of Fucktopia has apparently never heard of Mendel. Are the schools down under as bad as those in the States?

Posted by: Tongue Boy at July 10, 2003 at 12:56 AM

How embarrassing! My secret identity revealed!

Posted by: Tongue Boy at July 10, 2003 at 12:57 AM

GM foods have had one of the largest "clinical trials" in history. More than 60% of all foodstuffs sold in the US have had GM components for well over five years. Assuming (based on some stuff ripped off from the CDC) that 2/3 of the US population (rounded down to 270,000,000) consumes the stuff at varying levels (there is a lot of corn chips out there!) and that this covers a wide variety of age-groups, both sexes, various health states, etc. the some 180M people have been eating this stuff for five years. So far, reports of death and/or bad health have been -- ZERO!

In fact, when the "GM-tainted" corn chips story blew up a couple of years ago, they managed to find FIVE people who claimed asthma related effects. Further investigation showed that NONE of the five had any access whatever to such "tainted" chips. In addition, when some of the known "tainted" chips were tested, it was all but impossible to find the GM genes. Tested out at parts per trillion.

Oh, well, when belief runs up against fact, fact usually loses.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at July 10, 2003 at 06:22 AM

Nah, JorgXMcKie, it's best to stick to eating soil - yum yum and wholesome: besides, I wish to set up my fast food holistic soil restaurant franchised chain.

Posted by: d at July 10, 2003 at 05:41 PM