Vioxx recall—business as usual

Quentin Colgan is an Agricultural Scientist/Farmer

The recall of Vioxx last month illustrates just the latest in a never-ending string of mistakes made by the federal Food and Drug Administration. We had a high-profit product that the scientists and experts said was safe. Eighteen months later they said it wasn’t safe. No big deal—unless you or a loved one was hurt. Vioxx was recalled in a flash.

This same FDA is telling us that genetically engineered foods are safe. But what happens down the road, should it be discovered that GE foods are not safe? Can all of the pollen and seeds from GMOs be recalled? Ask anyone who has tried to rid their property of Johnson grass or star thistle!

Opponents of Measure D, which would ban GEs from Butte County, point to a long—but unnamed—list of “scientists and Nobel Prize winners” who claim GMOs are safe. Sounds familiar. The proponents of thalidomide, diethystilbesterol, DDT, Agent Orange and nuclear testing all said the same thing! Professor David Schubert, head of the cellular neurobiology lab at the Salk Institute, points out that changing one gene will alter every cell in an organism with unpredictable results. This would naturally include the reproductive cells. He notes that there is no way to predict what will happen. Since the reproductive cells of any organism that consumes GMOs might also possibly be affected, any competent study would have to be multi-generational and span decades. This, obviously, has not been done.

A board member of the Butte Count Farm Bureau—who is also an agricultural scientist—says that we should trust the “experts.” She should know better. This “scientist” would have us believe that GMOs aren’t already being consumed. Why mislead the public?

The public is being misled because big agribusiness is afraid we won’t eat Frankenfood. They’re right. Countries around the world have rejected GMOs. And speaking of other countries, it should be noted that the tremendous increase in the rice harvest this year is because of the opening of the Japanese rice market. If Measure D fails and Butte County rice farms are “polluted” by genetic engineering, who is going to buy all that rice?

A frost-free almond would be nice to have, but a GE-free almond would command a higher price in the foreign market.

The manager of one of the largest foreign-owned ranches in Butte County has noted we need to reject Measure D to save “local farmers.” Again, we’re being misled.

Opponents of Measure D are being less than honest in this debate. If the poor science (and the attendant risk to our very survival) isn’t reason enough to vote yes on D, then the misleading statements of the opponents should be.