Re: Stossel program faces generic engineering threat

Date: Mon Jul 02 2001 - 22:09:48 MDT

T0M writes:
> Regarding Stossel's list of countries that allowed the use of RGBH, I recall
> seeing South Africa and some mideast countries that have become rick due to
> oil. I thus wouldn't say that "all were Third World countries." For that
> matter, I would not put Venezula and Mexico in the same category as, say,
> Chad and Ethiopia.

I've gone back and checked my recording, and the specific list was:
Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras,
Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, South Africa, South
Korea, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States, and Venezuela.

Leading up to this, Stossels shows a protestor saying, "This is the only
country, the only industrialized nation in the world, that allows the
use of RBGH..."

He responds in voice over, "I'd be more sympathetic to their complaints
if they always told the truth. But they don't."

Another(?) protestor says, "It is the only country which eats recombinent
bovine growth hormone."

Stossel asks her, "And America is the only place that allows this?"


"But that's not true. Lots of other countries allow bovine growth

"Which ones?"

We cut to a picture of some cows, and Stossel says in voice over,
"All these countries have approved it," and a scrolling list appears
superimposed on the cows, with the list of countries above.

So my problems with this are, first as I said above, the only country
in the traditionally defined "First World" on the list is the U.S.
It's true that countries such as South Africa, Brazil, South Korea are
far from the poorest on earth, but still you see no European countries,
no Japan, no Australia. By and large the countries on the list are still
struggling in the world and the U.S. is definitely the odd man out.
So while the protestors' claims were not literally true, the fact is
that the United States' policies are at odds with other countries in
its peer group, which is the thrust of the point they are making.

Secondly, Stossel claims that the protestors are not telling the
truth, which carries the connotation that they are intentionally lying.
Otherwise he would have said that they were mistaken or misinformed or
incorrect. But it seemed clear from his conversation with the protestor
that she was sincere and either was not aware that other countries used
RBGH, or else that she was speaking in the context of an unstated (or
at least unshown) assumption that they were talking about the wealthy
industrialized countries that the U.S. would normally be compared with.


> Hal wrote, in relevant part:
> >In another example, an activist complained about the use of recombinant
> >bovine growth hormone (RBGH). She said that the U.S. was the only
> >industrialized country to allow its use. Later she simplified that to
> >say
> >that the U.S. was the only country which allowed it. Stossel challenged
> >her and put up a quickly-scrolling list of other countries that allowed
> >the use of RGBH. There were 20 or more and it made her look bad.
> >
> >But if you looked closely at the list, all were Third World countries.
> >Venezuela, Mexico, etc., all poor nations.

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