Your recent article denouncing Monsanto Hawai’i does a great disservice to the Maui community, as well as to farmers worldwide (“Corn Pone?” June 23, 2005).
It seems clear that the writer attended the Chamber of Commerce’s tour of Monsanto Hawai’i’s Kihei farm fully intending to write a biased and sensational story before he even got there—hardly objective or professional journalism.
I attended the same event, and the article of June 23 quotes statements out of context or leaves out important information. For instance, the story notes that genetically modified corn seeds cost more than conventional varieties, but it fails to mention why farmers are buying them at the higher prices anyway. It’s because the newer seeds helps farmers gain better yields on their crops and spend significantly less on chemical pesticides. No wonder biotech crops continue to be planted in greater acreages year after year (one billion acres worldwide now).
The writer only refers to reports by anti biotechnology groups, and chose to ignore the many studies published by scientists around the world that confirm how biotechnology is helping farmers protect the environment by using less pesticides when they grow their crops (Monsanto claimed 59 million pounds less of pesticide were applied last year due to planting crops naturally resistant to pests).
Not mentioned in the story are the positions of well-respected authorities such as the American Medical Association, American College of Nutrition, the National Academy of Sciences, the Food and Drug Administration, the American Farm Bureau, The Royal Academy of Sciences in the United Kingdom, the French Academy of Medicine, and even the Vatican—all of which have come out in support of biotech crops’ excellent health record and numerous positive contributions to our world.
I would like to thank Monsanto Hawai’i and the Maui Chamber of Commerce for hosting the farm tour and helping us learn about and embrace their miraculous new technology.
-Orion “Ori” Kopelman, President, Global Brain, Inc., Kula
Anthony Pignataro responds:
Mr. Kopelman accepts Monsanto’s claim that GMO crops lead to farmers spraying fewer pesticides. In fact, the Union of Concerned Scientists—staffed and run by well-respected authorities—has reported that pesticide use has increased because of GMOs. My story also dealt rather extensively with pro-GMO organizations mentioned during the tour like the United Nations and the United Kingdom government. But my story also explained what wasn’t said during the tour: that these organizations say that while GMOs don’t seem to pose any health risks to human beings, not all the evidence was in. And that was basically the point of my story—to find out how Monsanto’s claims made during the June 9, 2005 tour stack up against other, more independent scientific studies.
The June 23, 2005 story “America’s Terrorist Ally” was written by Ted Rall.