Filed Under: Uncategorized

Timing Is Everything

There’s been some speculation that Genetic ID and their client, the Genetically Engineered Food Alert (GEFA), timed the release of their “bomb shell” announcement about genetically improved Starlink corn finding its way into the food supply to cause the most disruption to the agriculture and food markets. After all, they say, when Genetic ID claimed September 18 that the nation’s corn supply was “contaminated” with genetically improved grain, farmers were in the midst of shipping a bumper crop of corn to market.

But surely Genetic ID and GEFA wouldn’t play politics with people’s lives. Didn’t they suggest in their letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that the genetically engineered corn “may be a serious food allergen” and that food allergens such as these “can cause death”?

Well, it looks like they would…and did.

Consider this: On October 2, exactly two weeks after GEFA announced that they had found Starlink corn in Kraft taco shells, they were going to send out another release announcing they had found Starlink corn in Safeway brand taco shells manufactured by Mission Foods. But they held the release. For nine days. Why? On October 2nd, the FDA announced its class II recall of the Kraft tacos. GEFA and Genetic ID didn’t want to step on their own message, even if these genetically improved products “can cause death.” (Memo to GEFA: If you’re going to hold back a news release, remember to change the date.)

Further evidence of the way GEFA is stringing out this “news” story is the textbook timing of all of their news releases. The Kraft taco shell alarm went out Monday, September 18th. The Mission foods alarm was scheduled for release — exactly two weeks later — on Monday, October 2nd. They pushed the announcement back nine days, to Wednesday, October 11; then — exactly two weeks later — on Wednesday, October 25, GEFA announced that they found more Starlink corn, this time in Western Family Foods products. You can just picture GEFA’s media advisors at Fenton Communications mapping out the “two-week” timeline. (Memo to GEFA: Mix it up a little next time. You’re making it too easy.)

All of which brings up some serious ethical issues.

If GEFA really believed the public would be harmed even killed by Starlink, why were they stringing out their announcements? Why is GEFA persisting in its claim that Starlink poses a threat to the public when the latest research shows it to be perfectly benign? Did GEFA time their first announcement about Starlink in Kraft taco shells to have the most damaging effect? How long did they hold back the first announcement? Since the products tested were most likely made from corn harvested in 1999, GEFA and Genetic ID could have first found Starlink last winter. Did they? Did they sit on their findings?

Genetic ID and GEFA’s flagrant media manipulation opens a host of other issues about their funding, their membership and their goals that should have aggressive watchdogs of the Fourth Estate salivating. Which raises one last question: What are you guys waiting for?

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