SIRC Media Watch Archive
The Pick – September 2000

'Ignorance' of Greens berated by scientist. An independent scientist revered by Green groups attacks them today for their stance on nuclear power and GM food. James Lovelock, 81, who is best known for his Gaia theory and the many environmental prizes he has won, said: "Too many Greens are not just ignorant of science, they hate science." Telegraph.

Good health is in the can. A major study on tinned food by the Australian Government Analytical Laboratories found there are no practical differences between the nutritional value of fresh and canned foods. Not only are they nutritionally comparable to their fresh and frozen counterparts but they also provide us with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients we need at a very competitive price. Scotsman.

Public misled by charities' wilder claims. Charities dealing with the developing world stand accused of misleading the public with sensationalist fund-raising campaigns that do more harm than good … Greenpeace, says the report, caused immense damage to its own image by allegedly overestimating by 37 times the quantity of hydrocarbons that might leak into the surrounding ocean, in its attempt to prevent Shell disposing of the giant structure in the North Sea as part of its campaign to ensure the multinational towed the platform back to shore for disposal. Independent.

Greenpeace action against GM crops. "The recent protests over fuel prices provide a timely reminder to Greenpeace that direct action by small unelected groups, responsible to no one, is a dangerous double-edged sword. GM technology has great potential to contribute to the reduction of pesticide use … as well as delivering direct consumer benefits and food security from high-yield, low-input agriculture worldwide. Greenpeace should disavow further direct action so that the farm scale evaluation trials on biodiversity can be completed in timely fashion." Chris Lamb, Director of the John Innes Centre, in a letter to the Times.

Pesticide Levels Within Safety Limits. Today's report on pesticide residues in food indicates that almost all are well within safety levels set by independent experts, Sir John Krebs, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said today. Commenting on the 1999 report of the Working Party on Pesticide Residues (now known as the Pesticide Residues Committee), Sir John said: "This report covers the year before the Food Standards Agency came into existence. It shows that of the 2,500 food samples tested, only two presented possible health risks to the public and speedy and appropriate action was taken to deal with those incidents. Food Standards Agency.

Rainforests - who needs them? A new study shows local inhabitants place far less value on the forests - and they may well be right … The romance of the rainforest has seduced scientists into inflated notions of the forests' economic value to their inhabitants, according to a new study. Whisper it quietly, but far from being a cornucopia of riches, rainforests may often be fit only for chopping down. If the world wants the keep the forests, it will have to pay - and handsomely. Independent.

Love that fat. We spend millions starving and carving our bodies to rid ourselves of it, yet fat manages our fertility, balances our energy books and supplies our defences. Will we ever learn to love it? New Scientist (Print edition only).

Don't fuss over food. It is to be hoped that middle-class parents who chivvy their children about their diet will also be prepared to pay for their private health insurance subscriptions when they are adults. Excessive strictness about the nursery menu may result in obesity in later life, and not all slimming treatments are readily available on the NHS … Parental concern, admirable though it may be, may have the effect of not only giving their children an obsession about food, but at the same time their bossiness may modify the child's natural appetite, and response to it. Times.

Fat 'is an organ' say scientists. Scientists believe fat plays an important role in helping the body to work properly. They are so impressed with its abilities that they have suggested fat should no longer be thought of as "excess" tissue but should instead be upgraded to the class of body organ. BBC.

Your life on a plate. Eat this. Don't eat that. The rules of healthy eating seem to get more complicated by the day … Professor Cooper says that there is now so much information and advice about healthy food and diets, consumers are having difficulty coping. "One of the problems is that we have so many conflicting reports from doctors on what is nutritious. The advice changes all the time. First roughage was good for you, then it was found it didn't prevent bowel cancer. Salt was first bad, and now it might have some good properties. Too much information is being thrown at people. … First one study will show one thing, then a second, another. As a result, I don't think that people actually take much notice." Independent.

Child vaccine warning. Experts have warned that parents' refusal to get their children vaccinated could lead to a re-emergence of deadly diseases. BBC.

We'll Feed Our People As We See Fit. "It is possible to kill someone with kindness, literally. That could be the result of the well-meaning but extremely misguided attempts by European and North American groups that are advising Africans to be wary of agricultural biotechnology. They claim to have the environment and public health at the core of their opposition, but scientific evidence disproves their claims that enhanced crops are anything but safe. If we take their alarmist warnings to heart, millions of Africans will suffer and possibly die." Hassan Adamu, Nigerian Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development, writing in the Washington Post.

GM crops 'good for wildlife and yield'. A new generation of genetically modified crops could be a key to richer wildlife and efficient food production on British farms, a leading scientist said last night. Guardian.

GM apples could fight tooth decay. GM technology could transform the humble apple into a cure for rotten teeth or a saviour of Britain's ailing fruit-growing business, claim industry scientists. Experiments are underway to develop genetically modified apples and strawberries that prevent tooth decay. BBC.

Measles epidemic looms as parents shun jabs. Thousands of children are believed to be at risk of catching measles as the country edges towards an epidemic, health officials have warned. Unfounded scares about the combined Measles-Mumps-Rubella injection have led to a huge fall in immunisations, the Department of Health says. A measles outbreak has already affected more than 1,000 children in Dublin after a similar drop in immunisations. Express.

Vaccine in GM fruit could wipe out hepatitis B. Tomatoes and bananas genetically modified to contain hepatitis B vaccine could rid the world of the virus, a leading American scientist said in London yesterday. Guardian.

Princess calls for open mind on GM. The House of Windsor was still divided over scientific issues yesterday after the Princess Royal called for an open mind on genetically modified foods and therapeutic cloning. She also backed the use of GM animals in research. Telegraph.

Girls as young as five are conscious of diets. Girls as young five have ideas about dieting and are conscious of their weight, a conference on child nutrition was told yesterday. Independent.

Sparking interest in science. UK scientists are hoping to create a few sparks in London over the next seven days. They will be walking around South Kensington to give talks and run experiments that it is hoped will fire the imagination of the public. BBC.

Parents' food fads fuel tide of obesity. Girls as young as five are being driven towards obesity and eating disorders by unwitting parents desperate to prevent them becoming overweight, according to new research. Observer.

Organic food 'is a waste of money'. 'Natural' produce is no more safe or nutritious than conventional fare, Government's Food Standards Agency reports. Independent.