Dr. Brian John 11.20 to 11.35
On more than one occasion in the last few years, when GM issues have been on his agenda, the Prime Minister has referred to 'the primacy of science', presumably in the belief that 'the science of GM', as he understands it, is somehow true and above and beyond dispute . At the same time there has been a none-too-subtle spin from sections of the media, no doubt fed by the GM industry, to the effect that opposition to GM is based largely upon emotion and even hysteria, and that the pro-GM arguments are based upon science. The ignorant on the one hand, and the informed on the other. Many powerful individuals and learned scientific organizations are signed up to this piece of nonsense. It is nonsense, partly because the Great British public has a far greater awareness of scientific issues than the GM industry has been prepared to admit, and partly because GM science is deeply flawed and riddled with corruption.
For example, we can mention the Government case on the health and safety of GM foods. It is based upon old-fashioned reductionist science which assumes no link between a GM food input and an identifiable pathological condition unless a direct causal relationship can be established. That is all very well, except that none of the scientists in whom we are supposed to place our trust is actually looking for causal relationships. The FDA in the United States has confirmed that it has never undertaken research into the health effects of eating GM foods, and for political reasons it has simply failed to report the concerns and reservations of many of its own senior scientists (1). In the UK our own FSA has confirmed, after much prodding, that it has no intention of doing any health and safety testing either (2). It is apparently entirely disinterested in one of the major issues of concern to the British public.
If we contrast the attitude of the pro-GM scientific establishment with the attitudes which are prevalent among the public, we see a vast gulf between them. The public has a much more sophisticated and subtle appreciation of science than that displayed by the proponents of GM crops and foods. The majority of people in the UK, if opinion polls and the GM Nation debate are to be believed, have an antipathy towards the very idea of genetic manipulation of plants and foodstuffs -- not (as the GM spin-doctors would have us believe) because they do not understand the issues or the science, but because they understand them far too well. Over and again the men and women in the street mention Aids, Gulf War Syndrome, BSE/CJD, Foot and Mouth Disease, SARS and the bombardment of the human immune system by alien chemicals, antibiotics and biological constructs which may be unstable and even dangerous (3). People are not interested so much in provable cause and effect relationships in science as in the cocktail of harmful products which their bodies are forced (by the medical profession, by government and by multinational biotech corporations) to absorb, whether they like it or not (4). They actually have quite3 a 'holistic' view of science. People are smart enough to know that what we all need is less chemical and biological bombardment, not more; and that GM crops are uniquely unstable and uniquely dangerous for the very reasons which today's other speakers have enumerated. People also feel that they have been repeatedly let down in the recent past by Government, by science and by scientists.
2. On the Scientific Enterprise
In ten minutes I am not going to be able to say anything new on science or its purpose or practice! I have referred to 'reductionist science' and 'holistic science' -- but how should scientific work be conducted?
When I was a research student, I was motivated by Karl Popper's dictum that science can only progress through a process of disciplined observation, investigation and falsification. He argued that all hypotheses should be viewed as disposable, and that scientists should devote their time towards the replacement of old working hypotheses with better ones. He contrasted that noble activity with one that is much more insidious and dengerous -- namely the verification of ruling hypotheses. In the case of research into GM crops and foods and health, we are not so much talking about the testing of working hypotheses as total inertia brought about by the reaffirmation and on-going acceptance of a series of ruling hypotheses. This certainly saves a lot of money. But it also irresponsible and very dangerous, since we are talking here about public health and about the research priorities and methods of bodies such as the FSA and the Royal Society, who are supposed to be working in the public interest (5).
The hypothesis of 'substantial equivalence' is a perfect example of a ruling hypothesis. So far as we can discover, this was originally a marketing or commercial concept, designed to convince a sceptical market that GM crops are essentially the same as non-GM crops. Consumers and investors, and indeed politicians, were being wooed. Then somehow or other it became a scientific term as well, although it is essentially meaningless (6). It means whatever you want it to mean. Franz Fischler has even referred to it as 'the principle of substantial equivalence'. Very conveniently, it has been used by the GM industry and by the Government to explain away the lack of testing for GM health and safety effects; such tests are really not needed, we are told, because GM crops and foods are substantially equivalent to the crops and foods we have been eating for years (7). This is a wonderland in which Alice and the Mad Hatter would feel very much at home. Then it gets even madder, because when it suits them (eg for the commercialisation of new GM varieties in Europe) the GM multinationals say that their varieties are 'distinctive'enough (ie peculiar or unique enough) to pass the DUS and VCU tests and to be added to the seed lists while at the same time being substantially the same as the varieties that are on the list already. If anybody wants evidence of the insanity of the world of GM crops, look no further.
One of the key reasons for the acceptance of 'substantial equivalence' and other scams by a compliant scientific community is the manner in which science has been commercialized and politicised. To quote Dr Richard Horton, the Editor of The Lancet: "Universities have sacrificed their larger social responsibilities to accommodate a new purpose -- 'the privatization of knowledge' -- by engaging in multimillion-dollar contracts with industries that demand the rights to negotiate licenses from any subsequent discovery... Science has long been ripe for industrial colonization. The traditional norms of disinterested inquiry and free expression of opinion have been given up in order to harvest new and much-needed revenues.... Universities have reinvented themselves as corporations." (8)
And again, Dr Horton on the control of the means of communication: "Even scientific journals, supposedly the neutral arbiters of quality by virtue of their much-vaunted process of critical peer review, are owned by publishers and scientific societies that derive and demand huge earnings from advertising by drug companies and from the sale of commercially valuable content. The pressure on editors to adopt positions that favor these industries is yet another example of the bias that has infiltrated academic exchange." (8)
This might all be viewed as petty and pathetic, or simply as a consequence of market economics, if it were not so serious. And underlying all of it is the politicisation of science. As early as 1996 it was already apparent that the GM enterprise was underpinned politically by two core objectives on the part of the Government:
(1) the need to show that Britain was at the forefront of 'cutting edge' research and that the country would provide a supportive environment for inward investment by the GM multinationals; and (2) the need to keep the Americans and the WTO happy.
The structures and committees which were set up to deal with GM were accommodating and complacent -- one just has to look at the manner in which the commercialisation of Chardon LL was approved on the nod by ACRE at its meeting on 19 July 1996. There was apparently not even any discussion (9). Neither before nor after the 1997 General Election was there any expectation that the GM enterprise would fall flat on its face, and when there were some early stirrings of public dissent a confident Labour Government simply assumed that it would be able to deal with them through 'education' and the deployment of spin doctors.
But then the GM working hypothesis turned into a ruling hypothesis, and it appears that the Prime Minister may have been personally involved (10). On the 'day of infamy', 11th August 1998, somebody from Number 10 made at least two telephone calls to the Rowett Research Institute which led to the sacking and vilification of Arpad Pusztai and to attempts to suppress his research findings. The episode would not have been out of place in the Stalinist Soviet Union. From that date onwards it has not been politically acceptable to find that GM materials are harmful to animals or humans. This was one of the most despicable and dangerous acts of political interference since the Labour Government was formed in 1997; probably acting on the instructions of President Clinton, Mr Blair (or might it have been some junior member of his staff?) closed down a field of crucial scientific research, and placed political expediency above the duty of care owed by politicians towards the British people.
The ruling hypotheses (that GM crops and foods are safe, come hell or high water) has ruled ever since then. And the seeds of scientific corruption which were sown on 11th August 1999 have since spread (as is the way with GM) right across the GM scientific enterprise, polluting both organizations and individual scientists.
3. The Corruption of GM Science
We can all understand why the Government cannot indefinitely maintain scientific endeavour across the board through the opening of the public purse; but what we have seen in the case of GM research and development is the domination of the field by multi-million pound research laboratories funded by Monsanto, Aventis / Bayer, Syngenta / Novartis and other commercial interests. They control the research agenda, they control the means of publication, and they pay compliant technologists to promote their commercial interests. What happens to objectivity in these circumstances? It is hardly worth asking the question; we all know that 'inconvenient' research projects simply do not happen, and that 'non-productive' research results do not see the light of day. Even independent institutes and university laboratories and departments have to depend increasingly upon commercial sponsorship, and find themselves constrained and even gagged by the agreements that come with the money (11). Among NGOs there is a widespread perception that the committees which are supposed to control the GM enterprise on behalf of the taxpayer are also dominated by industry placements and academics who are, or have been, funded by the GM multinationals. What are we supposed to think when DEFRA civil servants and Aventis employees travel to community meetings together, or when a Monsanto Director of Corporate Affairs sits at a DEFRA desk dealing with GM enquiries? (12). We who stand on the outside and look in on this see a field of scientific endeavour which is devalued and disfigured; and it is not surprising that consumer groups and thousands of members of NGOs have become convinced that the whole business of GM science is corrupt from top to bottom.
Here are just three examples of the extent to which corruption has affected the recent GM debate.
(a) Early in 2003 The Royal Society colluded with a research team from the Brooms Barn Research Station to publish a rather silly paper (which has been subsequently heavily criticised) which flagged up the supposed wildlife benefits that would arise from the commercialization of GM sugar beet (13). Skylarks figured prominently in the subsequent PR campaign orchestrated by the Royal Society. That publication, and the media hype asssociated with it, was timed precisely to divert media attention from the publication of the Scottish Parliament's Health Committee Report on GM food and public health.
(b) In March of this year Nature published a rushed (and also rather silly) article by many of the FSE research authors which sought to show that the 'favourable results' of the GM maize FSEs were valid in spite of the fact that 94% of the non-GM plots had been sprayed with atrazine, which is about to be banned (14). The publication of that article was carefully timed in order to draw attention away from the publication of the Environmental Audit Committee report on the FSE programme. Peter Ainsworth MP and his colleagues were not amused.
(c) In 2002 the GM maize variety Chardon LL was fed to cattle by CEDAR under a Bayer CropScience contract. The research is unpublished, and shrouded in secrecy. At last the Welsh Assembly obtained an assurance from Dr Richard Phipps that the research showed 'no evidence of harm' in the animals fed of a part diet of GM fodder maize. However, this statement is entirely unsupportable, because the study did not look for physiological changes in the trial animals. Like the great majority of other 'feeding studies', it was simply designed to show that the GM variety was nutritionally and compositionally equivalent to other fodder maize varieties. No doubt under the instructions of Bayer CropScience, the researchers carefully avoided any investigations that might have shown anything 'embarrassing'.
What about the science of the FSE programme? We have all been repeatedly assured that the farm-scale evaluations were being conducted under normal farming management regimes for environmental impact studies (15). But as the trials got under way it became apparent that there was interference all the way down the line. Farmers were being asked to do things within their management regimes for transgenic crops which they would never do under normal circumstances. The trials appear to have been designed not for the normal maximisation of yield and profit but for the benefit of wildlife (16). There were no studies of horizontal gene flow, or of soil microbiology, or of the unique effects of using specific proprietary insecticides and herbicides with specific GM crops. There were no extensive studies of cross-pollination, pollen drift or adventitious occurrences of GM varieties or GM hybrids. In addition, consent holders and seed owners like Aventis were allowed, within the FSE programme, to vary the densities of seeds planted and to carry out their own 'off the record' trials on germination rates, ground coverage and so forth. Many NGOs believe that the FSE programme was cynically manipulated, and that it told us very little about what will happen in the British countryside if GM crops are commercialised.
(a) the null hypothesis ('that there was no difference between the management of GMHT varieties and that of comparable conventional varieties in their effects on wildlife abundance and diversity') was not tested properly; the GM plots were managed in order to achieve cost-effective weed control, and the non-GM plots were managed in order to maximise yields (15).
(b) there was a none-too-subtle shift of emphasis from the testing of 'likely future commercial practice' (at the outset of the trials) to 'current farming practice' (at the end of the trials). This allowed the researchers to avoid the difficult business of predicting future herbicide regimes for GM crops and their ecological effects, even though most of us thought that this was what the trials were for.
(c) all of the comparisons made by the research teams were between GM high-input management regimes and non-GM high-input management regimes (17). As pointed out by the Environmental Audit Committee, there should have been comparisons with organic or low-input regimes in order to obtain a more realistic and useful picture. Again, this was an attempt to rig the results and to show GM in a positive light.
(d) SCIMAC, the very body intent upon the commercialization of GM crops, was given the responsibility for managing the GM plots, because its members were experts in the field (15). So much for objectivity.
(e) much has been made of the atrazine issue -- it was known that atrazine was likely to be banned -- but more serious was the pretence by Bayer (and the connivance of the UK regulatory authorities, and SCIMAC and SSC) that Liberty was going to be used on its own on GM maize in future. It was known in early 2002 (and probably earlier) that the likely GM maize herbicide would be Liberty ATZ. Even if this was not known to the researchers until the work was finished, it WAS known while the research was being analysed and written up -- and it should have been flagged up as a crucial issue in the published research papers (17).
4. Media Manipulation as a Scientific Tool
In spite of Prime Ministerial protestations about 'the primacy of science', the power of the media has now become more precious to the Government than the power of scientific debate. We hear from the government and from the GM industry that those who oppose GM technology are somehow harming the UK biotechnology industry and affecting Britain's competitiveness abroad. Part of this myth, nurtured carefully by the biotechnology industry itself, is that wonderful shiny new biotechnology investments worth billions of pounds will simply relocate abroad if Britain maintains its hostility towards GM crops and foods. This myth is believed, so we understand, by the Prime Minister himself (18). But biotechnology is not the same as GM technology, and if the biotechnology industry and certain politicians and journalists have pretended that it is, simply as a means of pushing GM crops down our throats, then they have only themselves to blame for any confusion that there may be in the public mind. If the biotechnology industry was simply to listen to the public and dump its GM obsession, it could, and should, have a bright future with market support and public approval.
It is but a short step from obfuscation to media manipulation. NGOs and investigative journalists have been appalled to discover the extent to which the GM multinationals, government-funded research institutions, and bodies like the Royal Society and the FSA have been using high-pressure propaganda techniques to promote the take-up of GM crops and food products in this country. In addition, the NFU has betrayed many thousands of its own members by effectively allowing SCIMAC to represent its views on GM crops. The Royal Society is a charity, and is supposed to take an independent and impartial view on GM issues; it protests that that is what it does, but that is not how it appears to many of us who have been keeping an eye on it. In our view it has strayed over the boundary and has been promoting the commercial interests of the GM seed and agrichemical companies at the expense of the public interest. The Charity Commission has been asked to look at its activities. The FSA, through its promotion of GM foods and its interference in the GM public debate, has outraged at least a dozen major NGOs and consumer groups and has lost a vast amount of public confidence as a result. Organizations like Sense about Science, the Scientific Alliance, the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, the International Policy Network and the Science Media Centre are supported and funded to promote GM issues; and there is a complex web of contacts between them and government departments and quangos (19). When one looks at the memberships of these organizations, the same names crop up over and again. The Royal Society, as we have seen in the PR work surrounding the 'Brooms Barn / skylarks' study, is tied in to this network and fully signed up to its media manipulation activities.
5. Vilification as a Scientific Tool
While the media is being used to promote the merits of GM technology, scientists who happen to discover 'inconvenient' things, or who happen to write papers of which the GM multinationals disapprove, are being marginalized and vilified by quite senior figures in the UK scientific establishment. Arpad Pusztai and Stanley Ewen know what I am talking about, as do Mae-Wan Ho, David Quist and Ignacio Chapela. The Norwegian scientist TerjeTraavik is the latest to get 'the treatment.' Witch hunts are nothing new, but they are always conducted by people who are obsessed with the rightness of their own cause and who are afraid, very afraid, that their beliefs, their academic reputations and their commercial or political interests might suffer should some other view prevail (10). So in the famous case of the Mexican maize landraces, Monsanto hired a shadowy media company to invent biotechnologists, who then encouraged a massive campaign to bombard the Editor of Nature magazine with manufactured protests following the peer-reviewed publication of the Quist/Chapela paper (20). The peer-reviewed paper by Ewen and Pusztai which was published in The Lancet led to the vilification of those two gentlemen, in which campaign senior fellows of the Royal Society were heavily involved. In order to justify its dismissal of that paper on the physiological effects of GM potato consumption, the Royal Society fraudulently cited a review paper -- an opinion piece by Gasson and Burke which contained no new science (21). Other scientists say that they are intimidated and pressured to 'toe the biotechnology line.' This situation is an absolute disgrace, and reminds us that since the burning of witches in the sixteenth century and since the scientific purges of the Stalinist era in the USSR, not very much has changed (20). Truth and scientific integrity are the losers, and all those who are involved in the UK scientific community should be ashamed that they have allowed this quagmire of hostility and intolerance to develop.
6. Assurances and Lies
There is a widespread feeling among NGOs and consumer groups that we have all been betrayed over and again by the Government and its advisory committees on the matter of GM crops.
** We were told at the time of our original investigations into GM science that 'terminator technology' was no longer deemed acceptable, and that by agreement within the industry it was being phased out. Now we learn that this technology is being actively developed and extended by Monsanto, and that the OSR used in the FSE programme has also contained GM constructs designed to limit fertility and to discourage seed collection and re-use (22).
** We were told over and again that as a response to concerns expressed by the medical profession, the use of ARMs in GM crops was also being phased out(23). Last year we found that ACRE recommended consent for AT Ltd to conduct trials with a GM potato containing kanamycin and neomycin resistant marker genes.
** We were told that there would be zero tolerance of unauthorised releases into the environment of GM crops used in the FSE programme. That policy was changed, without announcement. What we ended up with was a catalogue of slapdash procedures, adventitious occurrences of GM varieties, and breaches of the regulations. Almost all of these reported breaches went unpunished, on the basis that the amount of harm done was 'within acceptable limits'.
** We were told that the integrity of organic farming and conventional farming would be protected at all costs (24). But it is clear that the Government accepts the inevitability of GM pollution of related varieties, and is talking of contamination thresholds well above the detectable level of 0.1% for supposedly unpolluted seeds, foods and products. At the same time it continues to fight in Europe on behalf of the GM industry against the labelling of meat, cheese, milk, eggs and other products from animals given GM feed. And the Government is pressing the case for 'coexistence',
which is a handy Whitehall word for 'pollution.'
** The latest insult to the intelligence of all of us is the use of the term 'holistic agriculture' to describe a mad fantasy world in which organic, conventional and GM farming all happily coexist side by side. This is the ultimate sick joke.
One betrayal followed by another, and another, and another.
7. The Precautionary Principle
The precautionary principle is something to which we all -- in theory -- subscribe. It is enshrined in legislation in European Directive 2001/18/EC and in the EPA, and it was used by the Scottish Parliament's Health Committee in its investigations into the health effects of GM crops and foods. The BMA has followed the same line -- namely that when somebody wants to introduce something unnecessary (like GM food) into the British diet, it should be assumed to be harmful unless its proponents can prove otherwise (25). Its proponents have not attempted to prove otherwise, other than by reference to the 'substantial equivalence' nonsense. There have been no properly-conducted controlled clinical trials, and in spite of the alarm bells that started ringing following the publication of the 'Newcastle feeding study' (based on one small meal of GM soya) neither the FSA nor the Government has shown any interest in looking at the effects of the short- or long-term ingestion of GM foods by the healthy population, let alone by those with vulnerable immune systems including babies, the elderly and infirm (26). In my book this is criminally irresponsible, since we are owed a duty of care and since the evasion of this research might well result in substantial harm to large numbers of people. And what else is going on while the Government and the FSA are covering their eyes and their ears? Westminster puts huge pressure on the Scottish Parliament to reject the Health Committee Report. The BMA is also put under pressure to abandon its precautionary stance on GM foods. And the GM industry frequently challenges those of us with no laboratories and no resources to 'go out and find evidence of harm from GM foods' if we can (27). As Jeffrey Smith has pointed out, DEFRA and the Ministry of Health connive in this, and simply assume that GM foods are safe unless their opponents can prove otherwise. This stance is arguably illegal. The precautionary principle has effectively been abandoned and replaced by an 'anti-precautionary principle' as advocated by the Americans, and we have yet another indication of the extent to which commercial or profit interests have overtaken the public health interest at the heart of Government thinking.
Why has the GM scientific enterprise become so thoroughly corrupt? Probably because GM crops and foods simply exist in order to enable the GM multinationals to increase their market share and to extend their domination of the world market in seeds and agrichemicals. This is what ordinary people believe, and no amount of spin from the Government or the industry will shift consumers from that view. The GM companies appear not to understand that there are powerful emotional, spiritual and social aspects to farming, and that they cannot simply reduce agriculture to the lowest common denominators of products, profits and markets (28).
Are GM crops needed? No. Do they taste better? No. Are they more nutritious? No. Are they cheaper? No. Are they better for the environment? No. Do they lead to greater yields? No. Are the management systems associated with their use easier for farmers? No. Do they reduce herbicide use? No.
As far as the consumer is concerned, there are therefore no perceived benefits associated with the use of GM crops, and that is why the consumer sees no need for them (29). Not only are they not needed, but the consumer also sees a whole host of problems associated with the introduction of GM technology. It would be true to say that they feel threatened by it. The USA and Canada have already polluted their prairie farming systems beyond the point of recall, and they have lost markets worldwide as a result. Since they are going down, they are now intent on dragging the rest of the world down with them, through diplomatic blackmail and through the manipulation of the WTO (30). The European Commission and the UK Government appear, to their eternal shame, to be closely involved in this conspiracy.
I have talked about bad science, corrupt scientists, and a GM world in which fantasy becomes reality and in which words mean whatever you want them to mean. Good science, driven by integrity and concern for the common good has been replaced with corporate greed, media manipulation and the vilification of scientists whose views happen to be uncomfortable. The science of GM crops and foods is poisoned and corrupt. People are still unconvinced by the blandishments of the GM industry and the Government, and those of us who are looking at things closely are angry. Very angry, because we are dealing with a uniquely dangerous technology which the Prime Minister and his Government colleagues look at but refuse to see.
REFERENCES AND NOTES
(1) http://www.mindfully.org/GE/2004/Ban-GM-Food-NLP5apr04.htm Documentation on the extent of the FDA's manipulation is provided at http://www.biointegrity.org
(2) Letter from Dr Clair Baynton of FSA, 14 April 2003. The refusal of FSA to conduct any safety studies was justified on these grounds: 'observational epedemiological studies would be unlikely to identify any such effects against such a background of undesirable effects of conventional foods.'So presumably, if we are all getting poisoned anyway, a little bit more poison is neither here nor there.
(3) See, for example, AEBC Report 'Crops on Trial', Sept 2001, pp 66.67
(4) GM Free Cymru 'We Reap what we sow' GM News 2001/2002 (Newsletters 1-21)
(5) Letter from Dr Clair Baynton of FSA, 14 April 2003. The refusal of FSA to conduct any safety studies was justified on these grounds: 'observational epidemiological studies would be unlikely to identify any such effects against such a background of undesirable effects of conventional foods.'
(6) Dr Vyvyan Howard, in evidence to the Scottish Parliament Health Committee, called the concept 'a scam'. See also Phipps, R.H. 'Compositional Equivalence between T25 and non-GM maize,' ACRE T25 Hearing, 20 Feb 2002, ISIS Report. A helpful illustration of the use of the concept in the GM Crops field might be as follows. You do lots of research and find that a nuclear bomb is virtually identical to a similar-looking bomb containing 500 lb of conventional explosives because several hundred characteristics of the two weapons can be shown to match. You then conveniently forget to compare the characteristics of the two warheads and declare that the two weapons are 'substantially equivalent.'Another analogy is the 'two cow analogy' in which one cow has BSE and the other does not; you declare that the animals are substantially equivalent, having quietly omitted to record the fact that one of them has a lethal illness. This is exactly what has been done in the hundreds of scientific papers analyzing proteins, mineral content, vitamins, sucrose, growth rates, yield and so forth, and purporting to demonstrate that GM crop varieties and their non-GM parent lines are 'substantially equivalent.' This confidence trick has been spectacularly successful in the USA, in the EU and in Great Britain; and as with all confidence tricks, those who have been conned are extremely reluctant to admit it.
(7) It has to be concluded that the UK Government is not in possession of any safety research into GM foods. In 2003 the UK Government (which claims to be impartial on GM issues) placed huge pressure on the Zambian Government to persuade it to accept GM food aid shipments from the USA, but refused frequent requests from the Zambians to see the UK's actual research into the safety of GM foods. This led the Zambian Government to finally reject GM food aid. (See letter from Robert Vint, 7th May 2003, Western Morning News) http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk
(8) LANCET EDITOR WRITES ON CORPORATE TAKEOVER OF BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH. An interesting book review by Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, details the corporate takeover of universities and research labs, is at http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3305.
(9) These minutes were presented to the ACRE T25 Hearing on 20th February 2002.
(10) This attracted much media coverage at the time, and the episode is reported again in 'Seeds of Deception' by Jeffrey Smith, 2004, Green Books, p 19.
(11) See for example Arpad Pusztai: 'The Pusztai Controversy -- editorial introduction', Science as Culture, Nov 2002. GM Free Cymru has also sought a dialogue with the Prime Minister on this matter, but no replies have been forthcoming.
(12) The Monsanto employee concerned was Mr Tony Combes, Director of Corporate Affairs, Monsanto UK.
(13) Dewar et al, 2003, 'A novel approach to the use of GMHT crops for environmental benefit, Proc Roy Soc Lond, B 270, pp 335-340
(14) To access the article go to: http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nature/journal/vaop/ncurren t/abs/nature02374_fs.html & dynoptions=doi1078496133
(15) Champion, G.T. et al 2003 'Crop management and agronomic context of the FSEs of GMHT crops,' Phil Trans Roy Soc London B (2003) pp 1801-1818.
(16) GM Free Cymru 'We Reap what we sow' GM News 2001/2002 (Newsletters 1-21)
(17) Environmental Audit Committee Report on the FSE programme. Report and Recommendations, March 2004. For the full recommendations of the Committee, published today, use this link: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmenvaud.htm
(18) See for example the points made in 'Feeding or Fooling the World? Can GM really feed the hungry?' Five year Freeze, Oct 2002, 44pp.
(19) NGIN has researched the network of bodies involved in the 'selling' of pro-GM news to the media. See 'Bad company: reporting the business of science,' http://ngin.tripod.com/scisale.htm
(20) The company involved is the Bivings Group. See George Monbiot, 'Corporations are inventing people to rubbish their opponents on the internet' The Guardian, May 14th 2002. See also 'The New Thought Police', see website http://ngin.tripod.com/thoughtpolice.htm
(21) Royal Society involvement in scientific fraud. See Royal Society Policy Document 4/02 "Genetically modified plants for food use and human health -- an update" Introduction, page 5: "... the only way to clarify Dr Pusztai's claims would be to refine his experimental design and carry out further studies to test clearly defined hypotheses focussed on the specific results reported by him. Such studies, on the results of feeding GM sweet peppers and GM tomatoes to rats, and GM soya to mice and rats, have now been completed and no adverse effects have been found (Gasson and Burke, 2001)." This is a misleading statement and a fraudulent citation.
(22) Mae-wan Ho and Joe Cummins: Chronicle of an Ecological Disaster Foretold. ISIS report 20/02/03.
(23) See for example House of Lords EU Committee, 21 Jan 1999; the commitment to phase out ARMs has also bbeen repeated frequently in correspondence between Ministers and GM Free Cymru and other organizations.
(24) Jeff Rooker, MAFF minister of state for food safety in the House of Commons, 30th July 1998: "I accept the argument that genetic modification is not simply speeding up the natural process. It cannot be when genes are mixed from different species.... I want to make it absolutely clear that my Ministry and DETR will be working with the farming community and representatives of organic farming to ensure that the expansion of organic farming is not compromised by the introduction of genetically modified crops...... I want to make it clear that that is the most important sentence that I shall say this evening. I genuinely mean that - those are not words to be put in Hansard and forgotten about; I shall follow through..... All that does not gainsay what I have said about out desire to ensure that the introduction of GMOs on a trial basis, an experimental basis, or even a full-crop basis, in no way damages organic farming. Given the extremely tight public expenditure restrictions to which we are subject as part of our contract with the electorate, it would be stupid for the Government to push more money into converting to organic farming while allowing the farmers who take that brave step to be damaged by other actions within the process that I have described."
(25) The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development [Earth Summit Conference, June 1992] proclaimed the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. Principle 15 stated "In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely adopted by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation". Another paper by Peter Saunders on the precautionary principle is on the Third World Network website www.twnside.org.sg (under TWN briefing papers for CBD COP 7 - briefing paper #2). It contains the Wingspread definition, which is a good one. "When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof."
(26) The 'Newcastle feeding study' commissioned by the FSA (2002) was widely criticised for its very limited scale and for the "politically motivated' conclusions drawn by its authors. It has been referred to as 'junk science'.
(27) A similar challenge was put out by Prof Patrick Bateson of the Royal Society (see Mark Henderson; 'GM Food is safe to eat, says Royal Society', The Times, May 8th 2003)
(28) See, for example, 'Seeds of Doubt', Soil Association Report, Sept 2002
(29) This was one of the key points made in correspondence between nine organisations (including the Consumers Association, UNISON and the Food Commission) and the FSA in February and March 2003. The letters were sent as a protest against the pro-GM bias on the FSA website. There was also coverage of this issue in 'The Observer' on March 9, 2003.
(30) For US blackmail and attempts to force unsaleable GM foodstuffs onto developing nations see: http://www.ukabc.org/forcefeeding.htm