For Immediate Release: September 20, 2000
Contact: John Carlisle at 202/543-4110 x107 or [email protected]

 


Congressman Nick Smith to Speak at Press Conference Praising Biotechnology and Criticizing Unsound Science of Biotechnology Critics

On Thursday, September 21 at 11:30A.M., U.S. Representative Nick Smith (R-MI), Chairman of the House Science Subcommittee on Basic Research, will speak at a press conference on biotechnology and the unethical tactics of some biotechnology critics. The press event, a joint project of the National Center For Public Policy Research and Junkscience.com, will be held in room 1302 in the Longworth House Office Building.

Congressman Smith is one of the leading congressional champions of the promising new science of agriculture biotechnology. In April, his subcommittee released an in-depth study, "Seeds of Opportunity," that extols the safety of biotechnology and its potential to feed millions of people in the developing world.

Anti-biotechnology critics such as Greenpeace and other environmental groups have chosen to spread fear and misinformation about biotechnology as part of their anti-technology ideological agenda. Greenpeace as well as other anti-biotechnology groups are clients of the for-profit public relations firm, Fenton Communications. Fenton Communications has a long history of orchestrating scare campaigns on behalf of various left-leaning groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Command Trust Network and the National Environmental Trust. In August, the National Center For Public Policy Research and Junkscience.com released a study, "The Fear Profiteers," detailing Fenton Communications's history of using unsound science to spread fear among the public for its own financial gain. The study examines Fenton Communications's central role in the Alar scare in 1989, the silicone implant scare in the early 1990s, the endocrine disrupter "crisis" and the current anti-biotechnology campaign.

"It would be a tragedy if Fenton Communications and its clients are successful in thwarting the development of biotechnology just when it is ready to yield great benefits," says John Carlisle, director of the Environmental Policy Task Force at the National Center For Public Policy Research. "Biotechnology can substantially increase agricultural productivity in the developing world by making it possible to grow crops in areas that cannot currently sustain them. With the help of bioengineered seeds that 'vaccinate' crops with their own herbicides and pesticides, crop losses to diseases and insects can be minimized. This also allows farmers to use no-till farming which can reduce erosion of topsoil by as much as 98%."

African leaders have spoken out forcefully on behalf of biotechnology and criticized groups such as some Fenton Communications clients for trying to derail the technology. Kenya's President, Daniel T. arap Moi, says "the international community is on the verge of the biotechnology revolution which Africa cannot afford to miss." Nigeria's Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development, Hassan Adamu, says environmentalists "claim to have the environment and public health at the core of their opposition, but scientific evidence disproves their claims... If we take their alarmist warnings to heart, millions of Africans will suffer and possibly die."

Says Carlisle: "Because there is so much as stake, especially for the developing world, it is vital that biotechnology proponents speak out often and forcefully against the likes of profiteers who seek to profit by trashing this dynamic technology. The National Center and Junkscience.com are proud to have a voice of reason in Congressman Nick Smith who has taken the lead in defending biotechnology."

In addition to Congressman Smith, other speakers include Steve Milloy of Junkscience.com, Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Alex Avery of the Hudson Institute and Dr. Bonner Cohen of the Lexington Institute.

The National Center For Public Policy Research is a non-partisan, non-profit educational foundation based in Washington, D.C. For more information, contact John Carlisle at 202-543-4110 x107 or [email protected].

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