| KANSAS CITY, Missouri
KANSAS CITY, Missouri Jeffrey Smith is a man on
Each day, ever day for the last 12 years, the 49-year-old
Smith has made it his personal calling to travel the world
preaching against genetically modified crops.
From Poland to Brazil and California to Vermont, Smith has
crisscrossed more than two dozen countries to preach to
physician groups, regulators, political leaders, and consumer
groups that gene-altered corn, soybeans, canola and other
crops, when included in human food, can cause a range of
serious health problems.
"GMOs have been linked to thousands of toxic and
allergic-type reactions, thousands of sick, sterile and dead
livestock and damage to virtually every organ and system
studied in lab animals," said Smith, who has authored two books
on the topic.
The New York native, who worked as a marketing consultant
before turning activist, sees what he calls small victories all
around him, including recent moves by major dairy companies and
retailers to shun products derived from cows given biotech
supplements, efforts by various U.S. states and local
governments to restrict biotech crops, and wholesale bans on
biotech crops in several foreign countries.
This summer, Smith and a consortium of U.S. organic food
company players who see him as a champion for their interests
are rolling out a U.S. marketing strategy aimed at convincing
consumers in this generally GMO-friendly country to shun foods
containing genetically altered ingredients.
"Jeffrey is respected as a public educator on GMOs and a
person who is interested in aggressively spreading the word,"
said Organic Consumers Association national director Ronnie
Smith, who has replanted himself in Iowa, the largest U.S.
corn-growing state, is discounted as misinformed and misleading
by supporters of biotechnology who say the safety of
genetically engineered crops and food is well established. Even
some fellow biotech crop opponents question his strategies.
"The whole message that Jeffrey Smith has - that these
crops are unsafe - there is no validity to that at all," said
Mary Boote, executive director for pro-biotech Truth About
Trade and Technology. "Jeffrey Smith is articulate and strong
in his personal beliefs. But he has no science background at
But funded by speaking fees, book sales and donations to
his institute, Smith plans to keep circling the globe. Data
that shows increased plantings of biotech crops around the
world won't deter him, he says.
"If we can get millions of people choosing non-GMO products
then the food companies will see GM as a liability and remove
them from their products," said Smith. "We're going for an
industry-wide clean out of GMOs."
(Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by Marguerita Choy)