KSJ Tracker October 18, 2013

WBEZ: Slick story from an obscure meeting - on big agribusiness, turncoat enviros, and politics of GMO labeling

  First, a full disclosure of personal stance. I'm a big fan of organic farming but not out of belief that pesticides, synthesized fertilizers, genetic engineering and herbicides might make some of my food particularly dangerous to eat (I do favor much stricter rules for antibiotics in animal feed). It's because the farmers who sell it are intensely curious, devoted, highminded and adventurous people. They tend to grow and raise a more interesting variety of crops and livestock (for those who can afford to buy them) while keeping their land rich and, often, wildlife-friendly. In short, "organic" in food-talk may be nonsense but the food is fine. If somebody comes up with an improved, GMO heirloom tomato, I'll try it. And if the FDA is supposed to use labeling requirements only to ensure reliable nutritional info and warnings of hazardous ingredients, then the evidence clearly indicates that GMO foods don't fall into that purview. If a state's voters demand such labels okay but I don't really care.

Nonetheless a story up at the site of Chicago's public radio station sure is fun to read:

   This is a rolicking read. Given my disinterest in this part of lefty progressive dogma I had missed a recent ruckus in such circles. A UK enviro named Mark Lynas shocked his cohort not long ago by flip-flopping, going from GMO opponent to booster. Sort of reminds on of the few old time environmental activists who now talk favorably of nuclear power expansion. Actually, BBC recently reported that Lynas is one of those, too. Eng's report moves the tale-of-Lynas ball forward. She reports the shock of attendees of a big agribusiness meeting upon having Lynas tell them in a featured lecture that they should not only stop opposing GMO labelling requirements,  but should embrace open declarations that highlight which of their foods are from transgenic animals or plants. They should brag on them. Like, "It's pork, PLUS calamari and it is rich in Omega 3 all in one!"

   Eng writes in the appropriate style for a blog, and combines it with sharp reporting done with her own eyes, ears, notebook, and camera. She calls Lynas's remarks a bombshell and a whopper, sending the big Ag and processed food giant reps out of the hall buzzing about the idea of living up, openly to their professed belief that genetic engineering is a huge boon for mankind.

   Eng, one learns, is a former Chicago Tribune food and consumer issues reporter. She recently left the Trib to join WBEZ as a producer.

A few other outlets and bloggers have picked up the story as well.





comments powered by Disqus