ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
15 November 2000



Last week we looked at aka and its attacks on the far-left-leaning future-fearing flakes in the pay of the organic multinationals etc. (ie organisations like Christian Aid and the Five-Year-Freeze!)

Interestingly, while an outfit like Guestchoice may appear so off-the-wall as to be easily discountable, not everybody sees it that way.  For instance, the Guest Choice Network is shortly to be represented on the platform of a Washington “SUMMIT” on the Starlink crisis (see below), along with the EPA, the FDA, the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association and other major players.
The fact that Dennis Avery is helping to organise the event could of course have something to do with it!

This week we feature a global spin site still wilder in its misinformation and more insidious in its intent.  The Center for Food & Agricultural Research (CFFAR) - - proclaims itself “a public policy and research coalition dedicated to exploring and understanding health, safety, and sustainability issues associated with food and fiber production”.

Their goal they say is to “help policy makers and the general public reach a fuller understanding of food and fiber issues” as part of setting “a course towards an affordable and safe supply of food for all the world's citizens.”

Their home page displays prominently a colour picture of some happy-looking Third World children crop picking, and one of the site sections is on Food Production Methods.  Here a series of Fact Sheets are available on the “primary methods of food production”, aimed at fostering “a better understanding of health, safety, and sustainability issues.”

Of the 3 fact sheets listed:

* Organic Food Production
* Genetically Modified Food Production
* Conventional Food Production
(only the Organic one is available - the others are apparently “coming shortly”.)

The CFFAR’s short ‘backgrounder’ on organics starts off relatively carefully:  “The basic principles of organic production are to restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony” etc. but the fact sheet soon hits its stride:

“The inflated prices for organic foods are due to a [much lower] yield rate...

“If we were to attempt a large scale switch to organic farming, we would have to tear down wilderness, hedges and wetlands to make up for the lower yield rates..

“In 1996, the Center for Disease Control listed 488 confirmed E. coli outbreaks in the United States. Critics of organic farming have linked one quarter of these cases to the consumption of organic or natural foods.  This is despite the fact that only one percent of the food produced in the United States is produced organically.”

Sound familiar?

The site has few other sections other than one called “Stop Anti-GM violence” and further down the home page - beneath the crop-picking children - you can also find a string of articles offering to inform you “about the latest anti-GMO violence and Greenpeace’s role” etc.

Given the number of articles and how little else there is on the site, other than the attack on organic farming, it looks like hosting this section is really what the site is about.

CFFAR claims that “the increasingly violent tactics being used by the anti-GM foods movement” is one aspect of the GM debate that “has gone largely unreported.”

They attack advocacy groups like Greenpeace and IATP who they say have links to those responsible for the violence.  Words like “violence”, “terrorism”, and “acts of terror” are repeatedly used and there is even reference to “bombing biotech laboratories”!

An article, “A Close-up on Greenpeace, Not Your Father's Old Peace Movement” accuses Greenpeace of “vandalizing research facilities” and of being under the wing of “left-wing anarchists willing to engage in campaigns of terrorism and intimidation”, not to mention “terrorism and fear campaigns”.

According to CFFAR what happened in the Greenpeace action at Lyng in Norfolk and elsewhere apparently was that:

“...Greenpeace UK director Lord Peter Melchett pulled out and trampled GM crops on several British trial farm sites where Greenpeace activists commandeered the farmers tractors, crashed through fences and chased his family when they tried to stop them.”

Of course, the reality is that the only such Greenpeace action was and what occurred there was exactly otherwise, with non-violent Greenpeace volunteers having to run for their lives as the farmer's brothers went berserk, trashed vehicles and pursued protesters... but why should the truth get in the way of a good diatribe?

“How”, CFFAR asks, “does Greenpeace reconcile their principles of “non-violent action” with such blatant and potentially dangerous disregard for property and farmers?  Or why do they fail to condemn the practices of its more secretive brothers-in-arms like Earth Liberation Front and Genetix Alert, who smash windows and set research labs on fire? ...What about the farmers who took care of the test sites?  Are they also a “biological hazard” to be trampled upon and left on the ground in plastic bags?” !!!!!

CFFAR continues, “With great satisfaction, Greenpeace reported that during the government sponsored trial period, the fourth farm in Norfolk withdrew from the testing program. Sudden enlightenment and successful public education campaigns do not bring around such withdrawals. Rather, it is intimidation and fear, promulgated by the organization that claims to be peaceful and nonviolent.”

In fact, the Norfolk farmer in question withdrew after a village debate organised by the local parish council with a balanced platform of speakers, at the end of which almost everybody present voted against the crop trial ie it was peaceful opposition from the farmer's own local community that led to his withdrawal.

This doesn't stop CFFAR, however, talking about Greenpeace’s preventing field trials by “protection-racket equivalent tactics”.

So who is behind CFFAR and its extravagant mix of lies and disinformation?  Hard to say. It certainly seems to have a North American contrarian feel and obviously feeds off the disinformation widely available on contrarian sites but interestingly the only links are to 2 UK-based contrarian sites:
-   Prof Philip Stott’s “Anti-Ecohype” Web Site, opposing “politically-motivated” Greens

* "The European Science and Environment Forum” associated with Roger Bate and Julian Morris - key players in the extreme right-wing libertarian Institute of Economic Affairs with which Stott is also associated.

According to the Australian investigative reporter Stewart Fist  <>, ESEF has connections to the “junk science” internet mission, involving front organisations such as The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, founded with Philip Morris tobacco money as part of their campaign to undermine industry-critical research.

Bate, Morris and Stott all featured in the BBC2 Counterblast programme, put together by Bate the then director of ESEF, attacking organic farming.  The programme also laid into Greenpeace and direct action in regard to GMO crop trials, making reference to Lyng and Norfolk in particular.

CFFAR certainly would appear to promote this IEA-linked clique's agenda although the style is not their style of “[un!]sound-science” denial of environmental concerns (including platform provision for the likes of Dennis Avery).

We first came across reference to CFFAR, incidentally, when it was referred to as an info source on Prakash’s list for pro-GM academics -  agbioview.

Subj: Starlink Summit Announcement
From: Alex Avery <>


The Center for Global Food Issues and the Gruma Corporation are pleased to invite you to attend the STARLINK SUMMIT on December 6, 2000 at the Georgetown University Conference Center, Washington, DC.  There will be a welcome reception, dinner and remarks on the evening of Tuesday, December the 5th.

The STARLINK SUMMIT will bring together all sides of the debate on the genetically modified corn issue, as well as policy and scientific experts and government officials. Groups invited to participate include: Azteca Milling, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Friends of the Earth, Grocery Manufacturers’ Association, Tuskegee University, Greenpeace, American Farm Bureau Federation, Guest Choice Network, and Georgetown University’s Food and Nutrition Center.

If you would like to attend, participate on a panel, or suggest experts in the fields of biotechnology, food manufacturing, food safety, international trade, or other related fields, please contact the conference's director, Dave Juday at (202) 251-6320 or by e-mail at: or the conference’s coordinator, Alice Killian at (540) 337-6354 or by e-mail at: Space at the Georgetown Conference is very limited. Call now to assure a seat at the debate table.

I look forward to seeing you on December 6th. More information on the program will follow.
Sincerely, Dennis Avery, Director
Center for Global Food Issues
PostOffice Box 202 Churchville, VA 24421 (540) 337-6354 fax (540) 337-8593

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