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Food Matters

Food Matters

Giving science a seat at the table

Update to Boston Review Forum on GMOs

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Doug Gurian-Sherman at the Union of Concerned scientists wrote me a polite email yesterday. He protested that one of the sentences in my response to Margaret Mellon's response to my recent Boston Review piece on "GMOs", was "not professional and far from worthy of my typical efforts". I appreciate his candor and civility and have concluded that he is right - the sentence was overly harsh and not specific enough to be meaningful. How can UCS respond to such a broad attack? For these reasons, please consider this sentence deleted:

"The three UCS pieces that Mellon cites have been widely discredited, but UCS keeps churning them out without critical review."

and replaced with this:

"The UCS reports cited by Mellon were published and distributed without critical review. Since publication, several scientists have noted selective use of datasets and calculation errors in the initial report. Specifically, because the benefits of GE crops to neighboring farms, were not included in the UCS analysis, the conclusions of the report are not useful. Furthermore, the report focused only on corn and soybean in the US, omitting the extensive data available from cotton and canola in the US and abroad. Finally, the UCS claim that GE crops on the market have "failed to yield". This is highly misleading. One of the first GE traits developed, BT crops, was designed to guard the plants against insect damage and reduce the use of sprayed insecticides. A decade of peer-reviewed reports attests to the success of this approach in achieving these objectives. In addition, BT crops have reduced pesticide poisonings of farmers and their families and dramatically enhanced yields in developing countries. Collectively, these omissions in the UCS report serve to distort the actual situation and confuse the public."

The editors of the Boston Review have agreed to post this link at the end of my response on their website. I will also post this note in the BR comments section.

 

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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