SIRC Media Watch Archive
Comment and Opinion – November 2000

Parkinstein Food? A study published in Nature Neuroscience and reported in some British newspapers has caused the organic food movement some considerable distress. We well remember that when Arpad Pusztai announced the results of his flawed and non-peer reviewed study on the effects of genetically modified potatoes on rats, there was an immediate media frenzy of sensational scare-mongering about so-called Frankenstein foods, led in great part by the champions of 'natural' agricultural methods. Now, however, research reported in a highly prestigious scientific journal suggests that a pesticide recommended by the Soil Association for use on organic crops may have the potential to cause Parkinson's disease.

For many people this must come as a great surprise. Pesticides on organic food? Surely that cannot be right. The fact that organic foods are routinely sprayed with highly toxic, but still 'natural', chemicals is something which the green-leaning middle classes in Britain seem to have overlooked. Full story.

Translating the language of risk Perhaps one positive outcome of the most recent BSE 'crisis' is the sign of increasing awareness of the difference between scare stories and accurate information. There has been, understandably, anger at the failure of bureaucrats to communicate what scientists were saying about the risks posed by BSE in cattle. There have also been a lot of 'told you so's from the right-on, but largely unelected and unaccountable, champions of the 'consumer' and food correctness. But now there is also greater recognition that yes, the world can be a risky place, but we must make the best of it and get on with our lives. Full story.