SIRC Media Watch Archive
The Pick – May 2002

BBC drama 'peddles ludicrous lies on GM'. The BBC was criticised yesterday by one of its scientific advisers for peddling "ludicrous and inflammatory" lies about GM crops in a new drama. Fields of Gold, a two-part thriller starring Anna Friel, ignores all the scientific advice its makers were given by Mark Tester, a Cambridge University biologist, leaving a plot strewn with "ridiculous errors of fact" that poison the debate about GM food, he claimed. The programme, which will be screened on BBC One next weekend and tells the story of a GM-created superbug that kills elderly people and wildlife, has also drawn scathing criticism from some of Britain’s most eminent scientists, who say the story is less plausible than the new Spider-Man and Star Wars films. Times.

Plan to sell dieting aids to children. An attempt to sell slimming products to children as young as 16 has been condemned by eating disorder experts as "ludicrous and disastrous", it emerged today. The company which makes Slim-Fast meal replacement milkshakes wants to change rules that restrict the targeting of weightloss products to people over 18. It is backed by its advertising agency and the Advertising Association. They say younger teenagers would benefit from the products designed to tackle obesity, which is a growing cause for concern. Medical experts, however, are appalled at the move, which they believe is not motivated by a desire to help the obese and may only encourage the "epidemic" of eating disorders. Evening Standard.

Let's talk about the facts of lifeDon't eat, don't drink, don't breathe. The renowned Swedish institute, EEEK (Everything Everyone Enjoys Kills), warned last week of the danger of eating fried foods, particularly crisps and chips. Apparently, fried foods contain 250 times the normal level of something you've never heard of, which is very worrying indeed and could make bits of you drop off in the future, if not sooner…Professor Nofunn acted quickly to correct a suggestion by scientists that a glass of white wine a day could be good for your lungs. In fact, EEEK's latest research suggested that drinking of any kind – even water – was implicated in cancer of the elbow, knee and cervix. Evening Standard

Why 'a GM-free Scotland' is an intellectual fraud. The SNP’s position is an intellectual fraud … It is a transparently populist move that sadly plays on natural fears for political effect. … The Thought Police are also to be found among the Liberal Democrats, who last month called on Ross Finnie, the environment minister and their fellow Lib Dem, to reject any and all GM crop trials. But to claim you know something is bad before you test it is to slip back into an anti-rational, medieval state of mind. It is taking the precautionary principle to a point where the human race would be defenceless against anything Nature threw at us. Scotsman.

Fertility fears for thin women. Women who live on low-fat diets could be risking their fertility, a US expert has warned. Professor Rose Frisch, author of Female Fertility and the Body Fat Connection, said the problem affects women who are just slightly underweight, perhaps aiming to copy the body image of skinny models and celebrities. BBC.

Science must not be stifled – Blair. Britain risks being overtaken by other countries if it lets unjustified protests stifle vital scientific advances, Tony Blair has warned. In a speech on Thursday, the prime minister told the Royal Society in London that science was crucial to the UK's economic success. His speech included attacks on protests against animal experiments and GM crops, as he urged people to judge new ideas on the scientific facts. BBC.
Full transcript of the speech from Number 10 or video (Real Player) from the BBC

Fatty acids: food for thought. Really, what chance do fatty acids have? Nothing about the name makes you want to befriend them. The question of whether you're getting enough in your diet would illicit not concern, but rather a response of "Urgh, hope not" … we've all become so scared of fat - even good fat - that many of us lack EFAs [essential fatty acids]. Independent.

Blair condemns protesters who thwart science. Tony Blair has promised to break down the 'anti- science fashion' in Britain, declaring that the Government will never give way to misguided protesters who stand in the way of medical and economic advance. Times.

Is mould the killer lurking in our homes? Toxic mould's emergence has encouraged a rash-like growth we might call opportuniis entreprenuriae California. Various firms of self-styled industrial hygienists have sprung up offering home-testing services at $150 (£103) an hour. Many of these firms, it's been noted in Time magazine, used to conduct household tests for the last allegedly deadly threat to US citizens: radon gas. Radon gas was presented as Mother Nature's deathly flatulence: invisible, odour-free, carcinogenic – and possibly seeping into every home. Science now agrees that there was wild over-statement about radon's widespread prevalence and potential ill-effects. Glasgow Herald.

The myth of the low-fat diet. For years, we've been advised to eat a low-fat diet in order to help prevent heart attacks and promote weight loss. But … the latest research suggests that such a diet may actually do more harm than good … there is increasing evidence that a low-fat diet is not the panacea we have been promised. For the past 30 years such a diet has been officially promoted, on both sides of the Atlantic, as the route to plaque-free arteries and a slim figure. A message that has propelled 15,000 low-fat products on to American supermarket shelves. However, the campaign has had no obvious effect on the incidence of heart disease, nor have the pounds been falling off the national waists and hips … Not only is a low-fat diet largely irrelevant to reducing heart disease but it may be responsible for the worrying rise of diabetes. Independent.