SOURCE: Center for Global Food Issues

January 17, 2007 16:53 ET

Scientists Dispute Organic Activist Claim

CHURCHVILLE, VA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- January 17, 2007 -- The Center for Global Food Issues noticed that, on December 26, the U.S.-based Organic Consumers Association posted a "news" item on their website claiming in a headline that new research found "wild bees reject biotech crops." (See:

The December 26 posting on the OCA website was formatted to make it appear it was from a December 23 press release issued by the widely respected Ecological Society of America -- the organization that represents professional ecologists. Below the alarming headline were the words "Ecological Society of America, Dec 23, 2006" which is standard press release formatting.

Within days, dozens of "environmental" news websites had republished the piece with a link back to the OCA news page. By early January, major print newspapers in Italy (such as the Turin-based La Stampa, circulation 300,000+) ran the story as if it were a legitimate and accurate news item, even quoting Greenpeace Italy for their reaction.

In fact, the "news" was created by misinterpreting two-year-old research. The Ecological Society has never issued a press release on the research.

The ESA's Annie Drinkard, Public Affairs Officer, says that "some people have mistaken [the Organic Consumers Association webpage] as a full news release from the Ecological Society of America, which it is not."

The 2005 paper's lead researcher, Dr. Lora Morandin, says the group is misinterpreting her research. "They are taking our research out of context. We made no conclusions as to why there was lower bee abundance in the GM canola fields. Our two primary hypotheses are differences in the land surrounding the canola fields and low weed abundance in GM canola fields."

In fact, several other studies have shown that because weed control is often more effective in herbicide tolerant biotech crops (such as was studied by Dr. Morandin and her coauthor), there are fewer weeds and, logically, fewer weed-associated insects. So the research is not at all alarming or surprising.

Contact Information

  • For more information, contact:
    Alex Avery
    Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues
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