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August 20, 2000


CBS News, Recent content, Public Perceptions



Brace yourselves. The CBS Evening News airing tonight, Monday, August 21
will have a feature by Dan Rather on "Corn's Threat To Monarch
Butterflies." Bear in mind that CBS was instrumental in perpetrating the
Alar hoax.

As the title of the feature includes the word "threat," I believe we can
count on misreporting of such a magnitude that it will completely
overshadow the Stossel incident.

The CBS website is:


Subj: Re: AGBIOVIEW: Fenton, Extinction, ELF, Hazards
Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2000 11:27:05 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: "Paul Thomas"

I have been a subscriber to AGBIOVIEW for about three months. When I
originally joined the email list I was able to gather some extremely
useful information regarding genetic modification and its benefits to all
of society. Some listed papers and discussions have really helped me
convince opposition of the benefit and safety of genetically modified
organisms with factual documentation. I am assuming there are many others
on this list that have gleaned valuable information as well.

I am writing for the first time to express my disappointment in the
content that has been distributed lately. The discussions have been
almost solely dedicated to denouncing organic farming and groups working
to propel this industry. I would like to encourage contributors to remain
focused on providing quality information related to the benefits, advances
and safety of GMO. We certainly are not going to enhance GMO acceptance
worldwide by debating e-coli found in organic produce where manure was

Recent AGBIOVIEW communications portray fear of the organic industry and
the lack of knowledge and confidence in our own cause of advancing the
good of society with GMO. Please revert back to useful discussions rather
than childish mudslinging.


Subj: Food Safety & Public Perception -- Damaging Food Scares
Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2000 11:58:15 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Andura Smetacek

This adds more fuel to the concerns that public perceptions regarding food
safety as a result of misleading food scares are damaging public health.

DAILY MAIL (London), Pg. 4

Food safety obsession could damage health

By Tina Dawson

AN obsession with food safety scares is seriously damaging the nation's
health, a leading expert warned yesterday.

Professor Hugh Pennington said he believed paranoia over food alerts like
BSE and GM foods had twisted people's thinking about what they should eat
resulting in widespread dietary neglect.

The scientist, who led the Government inquiry into the Lanarkshire E.coli
outbreak which claimed 21 lives, argued that people should be far more
worried about obesity than potential food poisoning outbreaks and genetic
tampering with crops.

He said: 'People's priorities have become so skewed that their worries
over food scares are leading them into diets which will, in the long term,
do far more damage than a bout of food poisoning ever could.

'For every food poisoning case, most of which are cleared up without
medical intervention, somebody actually dies of a heart attack. Obesity
plays a huge
part in that. Simply put, British people are too fat but, perhaps because
this is something they have some control over, they do not worry about it
too much.

'Yet when faced with the vaguest threat from food, which is something they
can do nothing about, people get petrified.

Professor Pennington believes Britain needs to make a 'fundamental shift'
in its eating habits towards a more continental approach.

He said: 'If you look at Mediterranean countries you see they simply do
not get the same level of problems with heart disease and other British
health problems. What they eat, with a lot of fresh produce, clearly
agrees with the human body, and I cannot quite understand why people do
not want to follow that.' Professor Pennington, a supporter of GM foods,
is scheduled to speak at an international conference of dieticians in
Edinburgh later this week. July 24, 2000

/> of potential environmental, social and economic benefits and demands
rigorous oversight. However, in recent years, modern biotechnology has
been under
public scrutiny and is currently the focus of intense public and political
debate. Many supporters of the technology are worried that the benefits of
the technology may be overshadowed by the potential risks magnified by the
media and opponents of the technology. On July 11, 2000 seven academies of
science from around the world, issued a white paper spelling out the
promise of agricultural biotechnology to alleviate hunger and poverty in
the Third World. This report was part of an international move to
persuade the public that genetically engineered crops have a potential for
good (Derbyshire, 2000).

In democratic societies, public perceptions can both promote and hamper
commercial introduction and adoption of new technologies. Public
perceptions of biotechnology have received extensive attention in recent
years in most Western countries (Powell, 1998), including articles
(Albrecht, 1992), book chapters (Fleising, 1991), conferences (Burke,
1993; MacDonald, 1993), a public perception bibliography series (Cabirac
and Warmbrodt, 1993), studies of social implications and public concerns
about biotechnology (Lacy et al., 1991; Kemp, 1992) and entire books
(Batra and Klassen, 1987). There have been several surveys on public
perceptions of biotechnology (NSF, 2000; Angus Reid, 2000; Angus Reid,
1999a; IFIC, 2000; IFIC, 1999; Hoban, 1996; FMI, 1995, Hallman and
Metcafe, 1994; Hoban and Kendall, 1992; Miller, 1992;
Hoban 1990; Berrier, 1987; Russell et al., 1987; U.S. Office of technology
Assessment, 1987).

Several such surveys have also been conducted in Canada (Angus Reid, 2000;
Pollara and Earnscliffe, 1999; Angus Reid, 1999a; Angus Reid, 1999b;
Einsiedel, 1997; Angus Reid, 1995; Powell, 1994; Optima, 1994;