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Citizens for Food Safety vs. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Plaintiff
Opening StatementProvided by: Ed V., PlaintiffEdited by: Moderator
Bill and Melinda Gates, through their philanthropic foundation, are engaged in the large-scale development and promotion of genetically engineered foods without having taken adequate account of the relevant evidence and the significant risks.

They have been convinced that agricultural genetic engineering will enhance the quality of life in Africa and other developing nations by creating crops that can increase yields, improve nutrition, and provide other benefits; and their foundation has funded a major endeavor not only to produce such crops but to convince the world that they’re necessary and safe. 

However, although the Gateses are well-intentioned, and although they believe that their initiative is scientifically sound and that genetically engineered foods do not pose abnormal risks, this belief is mistaken — and it persists because they have not performed a sufficiently thorough examination of the facts. Such an examination would have revealed that the safety of GE foods has not been established and that the evidence as a whole indicates they pose abnormal health risks. This is clear from the systematic analyses presented in the books, GMO Myths and Truths and Altered Genes, Twisted Truth.

Further, as the latter book demonstrates, when the process of creating GE foods is examined from the perspective of software engineering, the picture becomes even more troubling; and it’s clear not only that the risks are substantial, but that the level of testing is far too deficient to manage them.

As highly intelligent individuals, and highly skilled software developers, Bill and Melinda Gates would readily understand the need to refrain from further development of GE foods if they studied the full range of relevant facts, especially if they did so from the perspective of computer science as well as that of biological science.

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Respondent

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This Trial's Core Issues
1. Is GMO safety settled science?
Is there consensus among scientists? What is the evidence, pro or con?
2. Have the Gateses considered the analog between software engineering and genetic engineering?
Do they acknowledge that small revisions to code can cause unexpected disruptions? That rigorous testing is essential before a new product release? Do they have a reason to suspend these principles when it comes to genetic modifications?
3. Are the Gateses aware of the sustainable non-gmo alternatives for meeting the world's food needs?
Have they considered the recommendations of the 2009 Agriculture at the Crossroads Global Report?  Or the 2008 UN report on organic agriculture in Africa?
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    • [-][+]My resolution
    • 5 months ago
    Sb C. (Justice-minded person)
    Perhaps that is why they plan on farming in Africa. Has anyone read about the poor people the big farms displaced there. Anything goes... just like in the USA. One must afford large attorney and court costs just to have a small home and some rice... I say, hand out guns to the poor folks. Less big farm infringement. Maybe Monsanto seeds... that will cross breed .. so no further plant generations and end the world. Get educated.
      • [-][+]My resolution
      • 7 months ago
      Gerry G. (Advocate for Plaintiff)
      I like the idea of Bill Gates committing to a 30 minute talk with one of the leading anti-GMO advocates who can represent the opposing side of the GMO case. Mr. Gates is changing the course of the food chain and he owes it to himself and the world to invest 30 minutes of his life to making sure he fully understands both sides.

      Who should he speak with ? Please nominate a spokesperson and encourage the Gates to have this important dialogue .
        • [-][+]My resolution
        • 7 months ago
        Sandra J. (Neutral)
        Bill and Melinda should agree to a 30 min conference with leading GMO scientists who have published concerns about the safety of GMO's I suggest 30 minutes because the world's food supply should be worth 30 min of their time to hear from leading opponents. The Gates are obviously smart and socially responsible people - but if they're relying upon published research there's a significant risk that they are misinformed due to the considerable resources and lobbying efforts of big food. What's to lose? Lots to gain IMO

        Bill and Melinda? Would you agree to discuss this issue for 30 minutes wit the top GMO skeptics?
          • [-][+]My resolution
          • 7 months ago
          Jessica L. (Neutral)
          History is filled with debates about scientific advances' benefits and consequences. Like past debates, there is evidence to support both arguments here. Value judgments are required to determine which way a scale tips--is a potential risk worth taking to increase nutrition and abundance of food? It depends on one's perspective.

          People feel strongly on both sides; yet, whether one is right or wrong is not known until well into the future. I know the Citizens for Food Safety will strongly disagree with this stance; and to be honest, I am not well informed with the science and available evidence. But, as noted, the Gates are reputable and intelligent benefactors of their foundation and projects worldwide. I doubt they are acting without information that counters the research you have on the other side.

          I think the solution here is to have each side share their research and after time to read and analyze that information, to have a meeting over a day or so, to really discuss what specific practices are at issue--I doubt it is all or nothing. I think there is a potential for both organizations to work together to advance the project in both a safe and effective manner.
            • [-][+]My resolution
            • 8 months ago
            Sam S. (Neutral)
            Bill and Melinda should post a statement defending the safety of GMO with rigorous science to prove the case for promoting GMO in developing nations. Altering the food supply isn't a trivial thing and it might not be a reversal able thing. i'm not an expert and I don't have a firm opinion about whether its safe or not, but as with global warming, the consequences could be huge. Do the Gates really want to risk going down in history as the couple who destroyed food?
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