Yesterday I met with NC Museum of Natural Sciences staff regarding my outstanding concerns about their seeming endorsement of GMOs via Biotechnology Day (see Natural Sciences GMO Battle Continues for background). Much has transpired since that update, including the Museum’s filling of my public records request and my response. The records request was illuminating and we finally had a meeting at my request to discuss it. I was unsure what to expect and went with an open, cautious yet hopeful mind.
The Museum representatives were welcoming and gracious and the meeting was positive and substantive. They explained to me that they recognize my concerns and are developing an ethics policy to guide their interactions with corporations. According to the representatives, corporate science can be sound but corporate actions can create ethical difficulties and the Museum needs overarching guidance regarding its position when this is the case. They are to keep me informed of their progress.
The Museum is also working to create a panel for the upcoming BESTFest, which will incorporate biotechnology but provide more than just biotechnology, as it is part of a multi-day statewide science celebration. The panel would discuss biotech, including an exploration of the ethics, research and criticisms of biotech, and I will be kept in the loop regarding progress on this effort.
Given the reality and culture of GMOs, biotech and science today, I realize that it will be all but impossible to remove the GMO issue from the natural science forum. These types of applied and natural science combined forums are happening all over the country. Exposing the ethical dilemmas and criticisms of GMOs is the best that I could hope for and the Museum is willing to bring these issues to the public.
The Museum did ask for any recommendations I had for the upcoming BESTFest, and we talked about a few things, but I wasn’t prepared for the question, didn’t know how the organization of such an event occurred and didn’t have anything substantive to offer.
I feel good about the meeting. It was great to meet the people with whom I had been corresponding and I believe we are now open to constructive conversation via email and in person, which is a vast improvement from where we were. Because of this, I agreed to withdraw my most recent records request (which was based on the results of the last records request) so that staff would be able to prepare for the many upcoming celebrations the Museum is hosting.
Now for a couple of interesting notes. I had no idea and still have very little insight into what it takes to put on the many Museum celebrations, but the logistics seem to be challenging and I have a new appreciation for the many events the Museum hosts.
Regarding the French GMO corn/rat/tumor study (see this article), apparently the rats used in the study are prone to tumors and were not good test candidates, and there were additional problems with the methodology. While I haven’t tried to figure this out yet, what causes me heightened concern is the unorthodox, ethics challenging press embargo the French scientists placed on reporters, requiring them to sign disclosure agreements that prevented them from due diligence and crosschecking of the study methodology and outcomes (see this article). If the science stands up to scrutiny there should be no need for such an embargo.
My goal for my family and what I share through my blog is to think critically. I get things wrong sometimes, and I learn. In this case, I plan to continue to avoid GMOs because it makes logical sense to me that I should eat what Nature produces, but I can’t stop thinking critically about all of the information I have time to explore and digest – no pun intended.