Anti-Biotechies Peddle Superstition, Fear

Letter to the editor
Copyright 1999 Wall Street Journal
November 30, 1999

I applaud Holman Jenkins’ attempt to shed some light on the so-called "Biotech. controversy" ("Fun Facts to Know...", Nov.17). He seems to clearly understand that those who propagate this scare care nothing for scientific facts, and will brook no interference with their Luddite goals.

Given the long record of safety of genetically-modified foods, I wonder what drives these zealots to interfere with our best chance to feed the world’s hungriest over the next decades? At least the EU’s response to biotech food is partially explicable by xenophobia directed at American business. But environmental terrorists appear fueled by another agenda. Under the guise of "earth-friendly" advocacy and opposition to "agribusiness," they reveal a callous disregard for human health and nutrition. Their persistent attempts to ban DDT worldwide, despite its documented unparalleled ability to save millions of malaria-threatened lives, runs in the same vein of superstition and fear.

Those who today attack bio-engineered food will not stop there. Given an inch, they will next attack biopharmaceuticals. Why haven’t they already done so? Why do they assert that biotech-food is so scary, but not biotech-drugs? Perhaps they know that a scare campaign against life-saving drugs would go nowhere.

I hope the millions of transplant, cancer, hepatitis patients, and diabetics, who now freely use and benefit from the many biopharmaceuticals available, will join with scientists to expose the junk-scientists for what they really are.

Gilbert L. Ross, M.D.
Medical Director, the American Council on Science and Health

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