On the other hand the "surprise" of Charles Margulis and Larry Bohlen presents instructive picture how qualified are key "brains" of anti-GMO pressure groups and how trustworthy is the propaganda there are fabricating.
'Mutant plants' potentially more dangerous than biotech foods
May 10, 2001, ROME (Reuters)
Environmental and consumer activist groups today called for a ban on all food products containing hybrid plants that have been developed by induced mutation via irradiation. The call came after it was revealed by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency that since 1963, 2,252 new plant varieties, including Italian durum wheat, have been created using radioactive substances such as cobalt and X-rays. The IAEA report, which was cited recently by the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, goes on to say that "mutations today cover 70 per cent of the area under cultivation." This came as a surprise to many people, including organic farmers and critics of genetically modified foods. "I always thought the plants we eat every day came from Mother Nature," said Charles Margulis of Greenpeace USA. "But now they tell us that scientists have been artificially hybridizing plants since the 1960s.
That's, like, really uncool." Larry Bohlen of Friends of the Earth, another organization which has joined the coalition against "mutant plants," was quoted as saying, "I knew something was going on. I mean, how else could they make those seedless grapes? For the past five years we have focused on the dangers of plants created using biotechnology, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. While biotech plants involve the manipulation of only a few genes, radiation treatment involves thousands of genes and are thus potentially even more dangerous. These irradiated varieties have never been tested for human safety, and they aren't even labelled." These sentiments were echoed by Jane Rissler of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a watchdog group. "The industry will probably say there's no evidence these foods are harmful and that people have been eating them for many years now," she said yesterday. "Do you believe that statement? How would we know if someone had gotten ill from these foods if they're not labeled? Radiation can affect a plant's entire genome. Compared to these plants, genetically modified food is about as dangerous as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest."
Naturally, we do not believe that induced mutations resulted in crops of unacceptable risk. But we keep saying that the risk of GMO that passed all compulsory controls is much smaller.