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Bovine Growth Hormone 'Could Cut CO2 Emissions'
The Independent, 1 July 2008

Its report gave absolutely no indication that this was effectively an industry study. By contrast, the coverage in Scientific American - not normally a bastion of radicalism, made the conflict of interest abundantly clear and allowed critics to point out that the study's findings were in conflict with earlier findings by the FDA that use of the GM hormone might actually slightly increase carbon emissions.


And it's not just Scientific American that covered the conflict of interest and Monsanto's past failure to sell this idea to the FDA. Reuters coverage from the day before The Independent mentions both these points.


The driving editorial line behind all The Independent articles at the moment seems to be that there's pressure on the UK and the EU to lift GM bans. In the case of the rBGH article, it was claimed that the EU's ban on Monsanto's GM hormone was under pressure thanks to this new study. This is nonsense as rBGH is not only banned in the EU on clear human health and animal welfare grounds - something not mentioned in the article, but it's banned even in Canada, which tends to shadow US regulatory decisions.

On 30 June a letter was sent to The Independent criticizing its claim that EU farmers increased yields and incomes with GM crops. To date it has not been published. Neither have any other leters critical of the reporting of either study. Given the controversial nature of the claims made in the two articles, it might seem surprising if The Independent received no letters of criticism.

If The Independent wants GM bans lifted, it needs to start supporting its editorial stance with factual reporting, rather than just regurgitating industry spin.