When the April column was put to bed in late March, I thought, and hoped, it was time to put the Roundup Ready alfalfa (RRA) saga to bed for a while. But an article in a weekly Marin County newspaper in early May was too good to pass up. The full-page article was a prime example of how hysteria is used to portray a scientific breakthrough as a diabolical plot destined to ruin the universe.

The article was written in conjunction with a meeting that was open to the public in Marin County and RR alfalfa was on the agenda. Marin isn’t Berkeley, but it’s one of several counties in the state that banned growers from planting GM crops. There was nothing of substance in the article, but it was a reminder that scare tactics are the only thing that the opposition has to offer these days.

For RRA, the strategy is to hammer on the consequences of feeding GM crops to dairy cows and the loss of organic milk. I wonder what the reply would be if someone points out that GM corn, soybeans and cottonseed have been a food source for some time now.

One person interviewed for the article brought up the Bt cotton breakdown in India several years ago. Looking at the information surrounding the breakdown, Bt didn’t hold up and worms had a field day. The failure, according to the article, prompted 50,000 or even 100,000 farmers to commit suicide. Anybody buy that? More than likely some people are naive enough to believe it.

In 2005, before deregulation, the CAFA office received a call from an angry person who used the Bt cotton problem to try and convince the association to just say no to RRA. Being reminded of the telephone conversation prompted me to check the current status in India. In February of this year the “Hindu Business Line” reported that India has the world's fourth largest area under genetically modified (GM) crops. In that case, maybe there weren’t 50,000 suicides after all.