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Food Column Missed the Mark

"Attempts to introduce GM foods have stimulated not a reasoned debate, but a potent negative campaign by people with other agendas. Opponents ignore common farming practices and well investigated facts about plants, or inaccurately present general problems as being unique to GM
plants." said the American Medical Association report on GM Crops and Food. The article by Marjorie Stewart, Aug 16, is more of the same.

First, the court records are very clear why Mr. Schmeiser was found guilty by all three courts. He "knew or ought to have known" when he planted over 1000 acres of Roundup Ready Canola without paying the Technology Use Agreement that tens of thousands of other farmers pay. Farmers choose to pay this fee to gain access to the superior seed Monsanto sells. The fact that over 90% of Canadian Canola is herbicide tolerant speaks to how Canadian farmers feel about the product.

In Canada the safety of all GM crops is determined by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. South of the border the FDA, the EPA and the USDA all take part in the regulations for commercial release of all GM crops. The regulations required are set by the authorities (NOT the companies) and any company that wishes to market any GM product must comply completely in order to gain market access.

The bar is set very high. Between 10 and 50 times more regulations are required for every GM crop compared to conventionally bred crops. The European Commission did fifteen years of research and concluded that more precise technology and greater regulatory scrutiny probably make GM crops and food even safer than food from conventional bred plants. These regulations greatly increase the cost and therefore one of the negative side effects is the vast majority of GM crops are made by those with
deep pockets. Unfortunately this stops most public funded research programs.

A quick review of the literature on the safety of rBGH shows over 50 countries regulatory agencies have confirmed the safety of milk and meat from cows that use this product. These include the American Cancer Society, American Medical Association, the Canadian Medical Association,
the Canadian Pediatric Society and the UN-Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization. No peer reviewed science supports any cancer claim. Perhaps that is why the words
"cancer-related" were used.

In 2005 Dr. Chopra was also quoted saying genetic engineering of crops was against GOD. Enough said. As for the unnamed "scientists" and alleged "bribes", the vast majority of science around the world supports the safe use of genetic engineering of crops. That is a fact.

The human population will continue to rise in the coming decades and we will need every available technology from organic to biotechnology to help feed the world while reducing the impact of agriculture. Unsubstantiated, fear-based opposition has very little to add to these imperative goals.

Robert Wager

Vancouver Island University
Nanaimo BC
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