Updates, outcomes & developments

by Bruce Mason

• One of the most common criticisms of corporate mainstream media is that “journalists” focus on and obsess about sensational stories, then move quickly to the next “flavour of the week,” rarely providing any follow-up to keep their audiences informed. In this issue of Common Ground, Mike Stevens cites a consequence of this sort of coverage – lack of trust.

At Common Ground, we will provide ongoing information about people and causes featured in our articles and we also encourage our readers to keep us informed with updates, outcomes and new developments.

Our July issue featured information on GMOs, including the thoughts of Rachel Parent, the 14-year-old activist and founder of Kids Right to Know. Their GMO “Just Label It!” campaign is pushing for mandatory labelling and raising awareness about the risks to health and the environment.

Parent had thrown down the gauntlet for a debate with Kevin O’ Leary, a “mulch-millionaire,” CBC celebrity and fan of GMOs. Parent promised not to use the word “fascist” if he didn’t call her stupid. The much anticipated food fight aired July 31 on the popular ‘business’ show, The Lang and O’Leary Exchange. Clips of the debate went viral, attracting more than 400,000 hits on YouTube within a matter of hours. It also caught the attention of the Huffington Post, New York Daily News, myriad Internet websites and bloggers galore feasting on the occasion.

A condescending O’Leary worried that Parent was being used as a “shill.” However, he eventually acquiesced stating, “OK, Rachel, I give you the labelling. Let’s say we mandate everything’s labelled, got that. Would you allow companies like Monsanto and many others to try and modify foods to the benefit of all human beings?”

“Are you anti-science, I guess is the question,” co-host Amanda Lang interjected.

“I’m not anti-science, but I am for responsible science and ethical progress. Science that’s proven safe, not by the very same companies that stand to gain by their [GMO crops] approval,” replied Parent, a clear winner, along with CBC, which got yummy ratings.

Observers and pundits agreed the debate was “spirited,” giving nod to the cool-headed” Parent. “An excellent primer on the issues surrounding the explosion of foods with DNA altered to include characteristics from other organisms,” was the Huffington Post’s verdict. Make up your own mind by searching for “Internet sensation Rachel Parent” (much better for your health than Miley Cyrus). Common Ground will continue to regularly provide information on GMOs and other issues related to food security.

Jack O’Dell and wife Jane Power
Jack O’Dell and wife Jane Power.

The response to our August issue celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. was gratifying. Readers took advantage of the opportunity to read King’s I Have a Dream speech and background and also appreciated the insights of the irrepressible Jack O’Dell, a King adviser, organizer, fund-raiser and strategist. O’Dell is a Vancouver resident and a long-time activist.

At press time, Jack’s wife and partner Jane Power told us, “Friends got back in touch after reading the article and we handed out copies on his 90th birthday.” She also reported that he continues to assemble his papers for the New York Public Library noting, “Soon, people will have to wear white gloves to read his work.”

Readers can also pick up a copy of Climbin’ Jacob’s Ladder: The Black Freedom Movement Writings of Jack O’Dell (University of California Press, 2010, edited by Nikhil Pal Singh). Jack witnessed and fought against everything from apartheid in South Africa to occupied Palestine as well as the “three evils” of poverty, racism and war.

O’Dell has much to say and share on the state of the contemporary world – including his adopted country. Look for more in future issues of Common Ground. No white gloves necessary.

Finally, please get involved in growing Mike Stevens’ non-profit ArtsCan Circle westward. And let us know what you think and would like to see in upcoming issues; email brucemason@shaw.ca

Bruce Mason is a Vancouver and Gabriola-Island based five-string banjo player, gardener, freelance writer and author of Our Clinic. brucemason@shaw.ca

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