Brown Stuff

Carl Remick cremick at
Thu Aug 12 11:11:38 PDT 1999

> I did some work researching a television programme, a round-table
> discussion on GM food, so I'm fairly up on the science - as
> much as any
> lay-person might be. And I have to say, from my reading, every single
> story so far has been a scare story.

Well, if it's simply jolly reassurances that you want, then Monsanto's the company for you. Unfortunately, they have a strong tendency just to make things up. This item appeared yesterday in the Financial Times:

"Monsanto ... was criticised by UK advertising watchdogs yesterday over a campaign for genetically modified foods. The Advertising Standards Authority upheld four complaints against the series of full-page press advertisements taken out by the company in June last year. ... 'With our advertising campaign last year we intended to inform the public of our opinion -- and enthusiasm -- on the subject of plant biotechnology. We perhaps did not take sufficiently into account the difference in culture between the UK and USA in the way some of this information was presented,' the company said. ... 'It was not our intention to mislead or deceive and we apologise to anyone who might have misunderstood these advertisements.'"

I checked the web site for one of the complainants that urged the ASA to take this action -- UK-based GeneWatch ( -- and here are the charges that were lodged against the company:

1. Monsanto claimed that GM potatoes and tomatoes had been given safety approval in Europe when they had not;

2. Monsanto was wrong to state that GM crops would result in food being grown in a more environmentally sustainable way as this was not proven;

3. Monsanto confused people into thinking that they were prepared to sacrifice sales of their herbicide Roundup to reduce pesticide use when they are not;

4. Monsanto had not been testing the safety of GM food for 20 years as they claimed.

Another genetics web site worth checking out is the US-based Council for Responsible Genetics ( This organization affirms the following, highly laudable, central principles:

1. The public must have access to clear and understandable information on technological innovations.

2. The public must be able to participate in public and private decision-making concerning technological developments and their implementation.

3. New technologies must meet social needs.

4. Problems rooted in poverty, racism and other forms of inequality cannot be remedied by technology alone.


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