SAIFood’s 2016 Rotten Potato Christmas List

SAIFood Rotten Potato Award, 2016Just rewards for the naughty this year!

Given that the festive season is upon us, I’d like to take a few minutes and reflect back on all those, who over the past year have contributed to spreading misinformation, half-truths and outright lies about GM crops and foods. Congratulations to the following organizations and individuals for receiving the honourary SAIFood rotten potato award for 2016.

  1. Greenpeace

    greenpeaceIt is indeed an honour to award this organization first place for 2016! Greenpeace is given this distinction solely for its continued opposition to Golden Rice. Not even an open letter to Greenpeace signed by over 100 Nobel Laureates could cause this organization to have a heart for the malnourished. Has the world ever witnessed a Grinchier organization?

  2. Vandana Shiva

    Had the spreading of lies about GM crops been an Olympic event, not only would Vandana Shiva have captured the gold medal, she would have swept the podium, riding off with silver and bronze as well. Of those opposed to GM crops, few have benefited more than Shiva, from the global dissemination of bald-faced lies about biotechnology.

  3. Earls has made a decision to change their beef source from Albertan to US certified humaneEarl’s Restaurant

    While Earl’s ultimately made the correct decision, in deciding to ask the Canadian beef industry if they would be able to supply certified humane beef, they certainly had egg on their face in announcing that all of the beef served in their restaurant chain would come from the USA. Earl’s get a rotten potato for not asking the Canadian beef industry if they would be able to supply this type of beef. Since Earl’s is a restaurant, I’ll ask them if they’d like that rotten potato baked, stuffed or mashed?

  4. Non-GMO project

    Non-GMO Project - non-gmo labelled wheat, all wheat is GMO FREEThis food price increasing consumer scam rivals the Y2K computer scam. Not bound by ethics or morals, the Non-GMO project will happily (for an extensive fee) let anyone slap their label on a food product. Of course, it doesn’t matter a whit that there is no GM version of many of the products that proudly bear the Non-GMO label. At the end of the day, it’s the cash that matters right?

  5. A&W Restaurant

    This fast food restaurant chain loves to prey on uninformed consumers by insinuating that since their hamburgers don’t have added growth hormones, their hamburgers are safer and better. A&W fails to mention that a hamburger has 2 nanograms of estrogen, while the hamburger bun contains over 40,000 nanograms. A&W enjoy this rotten potato, it’s all you will be getting from me this year.

  6. New York Times

    So much for intrepid reporting! Abandoning fact checking and balanced stories, the NYT hatchet job on the benefits of GM crops this fall justifies a healthy serving of rotten potatoes. Sadly, facts and good news stories about the proven benefits of GM crops doesn’t sell newspapers, so the NYT happily called out GM crops for not saving the world.

  7. Chipotle’s RestaurantsThe integrity of Chipotle's GMO free marketing

    Talk about a classic “d ’oh” event. In the spring of 2015, Chipotle’s proudly announced they would remove all GM ingredients from their menu. This was followed three months later by a string of food safety failures, resulting in thousands of customers getting food poisoning. This decision by Chipotle’s was so successful that it drove their stock price down by nearly 50% in 2016.

  8. Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

    This international agreement held considerable potential when it came into effect in 2003. Sadly, the CPB has been co-opted by environments non-governmental organizations and is now an agreement that is used to manipulate developing countries into banning GM crops and implementing biosafety regulations that contribute to increasing food insecurity, rather than working to improve it.

  9. David Suzuki

    In spite of being kicked off the Board of Directors of the David Suzuki Foundation in 2012, Suzuki continues to embarrass himself by continuing to say that GM crops have no role in addressing food security under climate change. While drought tolerant crops could be the catalyst to food security as well as improve environmental and health impacts in developing countries, Suzuki advocates they shouldn’t be allowed.

  10. CBC Radio Program Quirks & Quarks

    For a program that is supposed to promote and inform about science, Quirks & Quarks is oddly silent about innovations in agriculture. Agricultural biotechnology and GM crops have created some controversy and are of great public interest, but muzzling the CBC from discussing the science behind these technologies just contributes to the public’s lack of information.

Congratulations to the 10 winners of SAIFood’s rotten potato 2016 awards! You are all rich recipients!!

Earl’s Restaurants Not Supporting Canadian Beef

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Withdraw Could be a Winning Solution for Developing Countries

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Golden Policy at the Cost of Youth

Golden Rice Delays result in 8500 child deaths every single day

Genetically modified (GM) food debates continue to dominate social media in North America, showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, the debate is becoming even more aggressive with accusations being hurled widely. Discussions over conventional, GM and organic food choices is a first world luxury for individuals in food secure countries like Canada and the United States, which don’t typically have to worry about where their next meal might come from.

Golden CostFood innovation is considerably more serious when regulatory delays in developing countries are discussed. It is life and death serious! One GM crop that has become very contentious with anti-GM crop groups is Golden Rice. This variety of rice, developed in 2000, is fortified with vitamin A. Its consumption can prevent blindness and even death. The World Health Organization estimates that between 250,000 to 500,000 children under the age of 5 go blind each year from vitamin A deficiency. Further research estimates that 3.1 million under the age of 5 die every year from vitamin A and zinc deficiencies. Golden Rice was developed over 15 years ago to combat such issues, yet it has not been commercialized in any country due to regulation delays.

The Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that 30% of daily energy requirements in India come from rice consumption. Two friends of mine, Justus Wesseler and David Zilberman, have researched the cost and lost health benefits of Golden Rice regulatory delay in India. Although India could consider approving Golden Rice for human consumption, requests for field tests of Golden Rice have been denied by the Indian government since 2002. Field tests are how product information is gathered to approve crop varieties. This indicates that the Indian government has little to no interest in gathering their own research on this variety.

Wesseler and Zilberman have calculated that this delay in approving Golden Rice from 2002 to 2012 costs the Indian economy US$200 million per year due to higher healthcare costs. While this figure is dramatic, it pales in comparison to the estimated disease implications of an estimated 140,000 cases of unnecessary blindness per year. This is the equivalence of the entire population of Hartford, Connecticut or Pasadena, California going blind every year.

While the majority of North Americans and Europeans enjoy an abundance of food in our affluent lifestyles, when the costs of food insecurity are measured by childhood illness and death, the costs of regulatory delays take on an entirely new meaning. Too often, we believe that there is no cost to not making a decision, but the reality is that the cost of not deciding might actually be the most expensive choice we can make. Between 2002 and 2012, when the research was conducted, 1.4 million children under the age of 5 in India became blind. This is the real cost of indecision.

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