Thursday, March 15, 2007

Greenpeace Values Rats over Humans

Greenpeace claims that a Monsanto corn hybrid genetically altered to protect against rootworm is harmful to rats. They claim Monsanto knew about it, but covered it up. What they have really uncovered is that Greenpeace would rather see humans go hungry than risk the health of the rats who infest our food supply.

It turns out that what they have "uncovered" is that the scientists who studied the genetically modified (GM) corn found that rats exclusively fed the corn had signs of lowered liver and kidney function. The scientists said the differences were within normal ranges (pdf), however. No story here ... unless you have a political axe to grind and funds to raise, as Greenpeace has.

The studies show that the genetically superior corn protects against rootworm, allowing farmers to produce more grain from the same amount of land and fertilizer, with lower pesticide use. It is in fact much better for the environment than incorporating pesticide in the soil, with attendant runoff. Genes don't end up in rivers.

And what if the studies do show that the corn is harmful to rats if they're fed it exclusively? Neither humans nor cows are raised exclusively on corn, so rat studies have to show a big difference in rat health before any action is taken on them. And maybe it's just me, but I don't particularly like rats, so I'd say being unhealthy for rats would be a plus, not a minus for this corn.

I am surprised that Greenpeace doesn't claim Monsanto is competing unfairly since, through natural selection, since if Greenpeace's claims were accurate rats would do better eating Monsanto's competitors' brands.

What's more, while I find Greenpeace's analysis off-base, their concern for the world's dwindling rat population is touching. Perhaps Monsanto could compromise with Greenpeace by marketing this corn as diet food for overweight rodents.
(wt: /.)

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