Scaremongering on shoddy ABC TV program about “GM trees” is dissected at On-line opinion

Tasmania fumes over media misconduct – On Line Opinion – 7/7/2010

Scaremongering on shoddy ABC TV program Australian Story about supposedly “GM trees” has been dissected at On-line opinion. A few snippets from Online Opinion are given below
Tasmania fumes over media misconduct
Mark Pointer
Some major ABC TV bloopers in falsely blaming “GM Eucalyptus nitens” :

  • Neglecting to mention that Eucalyptus nitens is naturally-occurring in Melbourne’s water supply catchments which supply more than 4 million people with what is widely acknowledged to be some of the world’s highest quality water.
  • Implying that genetic improvement of Eucalyptus nitens plantation trees is responsible for their toxicity to humans thereby allowing viewers to conclude that plantation trees have been “genetically modified” by grafting in genes from other organisms. In reality, desirable traits of E. nitens plantation trees have been improved over several generations by selective tree breeding which involves no alteration of genetic profiles.
  • Failing to include the views of an interviewed scientist who has found that the leaf toxicity of natural Eucalyptus nitens stands in Victoria is significantly higher than that of Tasmania’s E. nitens plantations. This would also have prevented speculation that genetic improvement of plantation trees had increased their toxicity.
  • Intimating that plantation management may be a factor in the Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) in contravention of research by the Menzies Institute and the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program which had already shown that DFTD is not caused or influenced by the use of pesticides in the management of forestry plantations
The Pundit has seen the program and was astonished at the lack of adequate journalistic research at the national broadcaster.
David Tribe

Written by David Tribe

David Tribe’s research career in academia and industry has covered molecular genetics, biochemistry, microbial evolution and biotechnology. He has over 60 publications and patents. Dr. Tribe's recent activities focus on agricultural policy and food risk management. He teaches graduate programs in food science and risk management as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Agriculture and Food Systems, University of Melbourne.