Source: The Land, 10 March 2013.

PROFESSOR Wayne Parrott says those who oppose crop-biotechnology based on anti-science views should spend a day living in impoverished countries and experience first-hand what impact their activism is having on lives.

The University of Georgia Crop Science Professor was one of nine international experts who contributed to the damning, broad analysis of the now discredited Seralini rat-feeding study on GM corn that was released last year.

Speaking to Fairfax Agricultural Media, Professor Parrott said the research was the worst example of an attempt to discredit GMs that he had seen during his plant breeding career.

He said the French study was carefully orchestrated to be “as sensationalist as possible”, with a movie filmed during the experiment, accompanied by a dedicated book and media blitz.

Sensationalist photos were also used (of rats used in the experiments), even though they had to violate animal ethics guidelines to get the photos, he said.

Prof. Parrott said the most concerning and alarming aspect of the entire issue was the undermining of public confidence in biotechnology and government agencies charged with regulating it.

Another of the report’s authors, University of Canberra toxicology expert Andrew Bartholomaeus, said research papers like Seralini’s and the extremist activism that uses them, leads to disproportionate regulation of GM crops.

The former Risk Assessment General Manager at FSANZ said big commercial groups may actually gain an advantage, because they have the resources to comply with the regulatory requirements.

But the real victims are the humanitarian crop developers, he said, who have largely given up and moved onto other applications.

Consequently, hundreds of biotechnology crops that have been developed to help the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world, are sitting on shelves, because no one can afford to address the onerous and irrational regulatory requirements, he said.

“This is reprehensible,” he said.

“I have spoken with and have provided advice and assistance to scientists working on humanitarian biotechnology initiatives funded by large charitable trusts such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“These initiatives are developing solutions to address starvation, malnourishment and poor health of the most vulnerable people in the world.

“Publications such as that of Seralini, and the purposes to which they are put, undermine the enormous benefits that can come from nutritionally enhanced or pest resistant crops developed specifically for these vulnerable groups.”

Dr Bartholomaeus said the report’s nine authors decided to take action because they were “appalled” at the misinformation presented to the public supporting anti-GM “extremists”.

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