Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)Published on September 22, 2014
Editor: In response to John Jamieson’s letter to the editor: A shill, by definition, is one who publicly helps a person or organization without disclosing that they have a close relationship with the person or organization. A search of ‘Dr. Joe Schwarcz and Monsanto’ brings up plenty of articles citing that the The Council for Biotechnology Information has funded McGill University’s Office for Chemistry. Who, one might ask, is on this council? BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta. As such, it isn’t hard to understand why anyone would assume him biased. In reality, his department is funded by far more biotech companies that just Monsanto.
There are innumerable studies on the harm caused to humans by pesticide use. There are as many scientists who will argue against their safety as there is who will argue for it. The Canadian Cancer Society states that ‘If chemical spraying is needed, people must be warned about the risks and helped to protect vulnerable family members such as infants, elderly people and people with weak immune systems.’ And that ‘Widespread chemical spraying should be used only as a last option to protect human health and safety.’ The Society believes that when pesticides are needed to protect our health, safety or food supply, they should be part of a plan that includes pest prevention, using pesticides in the lowest amounts possible and using safer choices.
To be fair, Ms. Diamond was commenting on an article The Guardian has published. I see no reason that anyone needs to attend an event to do so. Unless he feels the article unfairly represented the speaker he brought in, (in which case, his issue is with the paper, not Ms. Diamond) I’m not sure what his objection is. Incredulously, John Jamieson followed up a personal attack on her with the line ‘When people do not like the message and can’t come up with a scientifically based response, they attack the creditability of the messenger.’ I find this incredibly pharisaical, and I suspect I am not the only one.