Press release 21 February 2006 from GM Free Cymru
Fact: Two years ago, when Prof Bela Darvas and his colleagues in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences revealed a massive buildup of toxins associated with plantings of a GM maize called MON810, and indicated that they wanted to repeat and extend their research, Monsanto immediately shut off supplies of seeds and effectively killed off the research project.
Fact: In 2005, Dr Judy Carman asked Bayer CropScience for a tablespoon of GM InVigor canola seeds, needed to determine the accuracy of a field test for GM contamination in otherwise non-GM seeds that farmers and grain handlers may start to use in Australia. The company simply ignored her request and made the research impossible.
These cases are by no means unique (1).
Within the GM science community there has been concern for several years about the "corporate control" of the scientific agenda and about the difficulties encountered by independent researchers who have discovered "uncomfortable" things about the health and environmental impacts of GM crops and foods (2).
There is also concern about the manner in which the regulatory authorities have comprehensively ditched the precautionary principle, and about the vast list of "junk science" articles in the literature based upon the nonsensical concept of "substantial equivalence" (3).
Genuinely independent GM research is made extremely difficult because of lack of funding; because of the hostility of regulatory and advisory bodies such as ACNFP, FSA, ACRE and EFSA and indeed of Government Departments like DEFRA; because august scientific institutions like the Royal Society are robustly pro-GM; because the GM lobby is well practiced in the dark arts of obfuscation and spin; and because scientists who question the safety of GM are routinely personally vilified by the industry. Dr Arpad Pusztai, Dr Mae-wan Ho and Dr Ignacio Chapela have been knocked over and have come up fighting (4), but there are many others who have simply been silenced and subdued by the hired hit-men of the GM industry (5).
It has now been revealed that the GM industry routinely refuses to supply GM seed and other GM "reference material" to bona fide scientists who ask for it, citing as justification patent protection and "commercial in confidence" rules (6). In the case of the Bt10 fiasco, Syngenta even refused to send to the EC reference materials needed by research laboratories for the development of a testing and monitoring programme (7).
"This means that one of the fundamental principles of science has now been abandoned, with the apparent connivance of certain governments," says Dr Brian John of GM Free Cymru. "Science has always operated on the assumption that experiments must be replicable in order that results may be verified or falsified. But if the GM multinationals refuse to allow their GM seeds and reference materials to be examined by anybody other than their own scientists, there is no way that anybody should trust their results, whether or not they have been through a peer review process. Integrity is immediately swept away, and corruption takes its place."
GM Free Cymru has therefore made the following demands:
1. We demand that all owners of GM seed and reference materials who have submitted experimental results in support of their applications for GM consents must state unequivocally, in writing, that identical materials are available to bona fide researchers who wish to repeat the published experiments.
2. We demand that the regulatory bodies which have issued "opinions" or given consents for GM crops and foods should immediately revoke those decisions pending the receipt of assurances as in (1) above.
3. We demand that all applications in the regulatory pipeline should be placed on hold until (a) the applicants have given assurances that every single experiment described in supporting dossiers may be repeated by independent researchers without let or hindrance, and (b) all published results are verified independently.
4. We call upon all journals which publish GM-related papers (whether or not peer-reviewed) to refuse to publish unless and until they have a written commitment from the seed owners that they will freely provide identical GM materials for the conduct of repeat experiments by independent researchers.
5. We call upon all scientists working in the GM field, no matter what their affiliations may be, to support these demands so that integrity and respect for scientific principles may be restored.
"These are minimum demands," says Dr John. "The on-going refusal by GM multinationals to provide GM materials to independent researchers is a scientific outrage. Until the demands are met, we have to assume that GM crops and foods are dangerous, that industry-sponsored published research is untrustworthy, and that the GM approval process is supported by a flimsy tissue of lies." (8)
ENDS Contact: Brian John Tel 01239-820470
1. See this for example: http://www.gefreemaine.org/index.php?page=13 GM Free Cymru is building a dossier of cases involving refusals by the GM seed owners to supply seed and other materials to respected scientists and research laboratories. Check for updates here: http://www.gmfreecymru.org/
2. There is a large literature on the vilification of dissenting scientists, the use of personal attacks as a diversionary tactic, and of the use of spinning and dissembling techniques whenever the GM industry needs to deal with "uncomfortable" evidence of harm relating to GFM food and crops. See Jeffrey Smith's book "Seeds of Deception" (2004), Green Books, or see the following: http://www.seedsofdeception.com/ http://www.gmwatch.org/ http://www.i-sis.org.uk/appeal.php http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=5989 http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm199899/cmselect/ cmsctech/286/9030804.htm
3. On the Precautionary Principle: http://www.biotech-info.net/in_defense.html http://www.i-sis.org.uk/prec.php http://www.mindfully.org/Precaution/2003/Science-Based- Precaution4apr03.htm On Substantial equivalence: http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/downloaddoc.asp?id=1050 Prof Janet Bainbridge: "The presumption of safety of novel GM plants on the basis of substantial equivalence lacks scientific credibility, given modern expectations of standards of evidence http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/substequiv.cfm "Beyond Substantial equivalence", Oct. 7, 1999, Nature, by Erik Millstone, Eric Brunner and Sue Mayer "Showing that a genetically modified food is chemically similar to its natural counterpart is not adequate evidence that it is safe for human consumption."
4. When confronted with uncomfortable evidence, the first instinct of the GM industry is to "shoot the messenger." See the following: http://counterpunch.org/tonak06262004.html http://www.mindfully.org/GE/2005/Chapela-State-Enemy19jan05.htm http://www.healthcoalition.ca/pusztai.html http://www.psrast.org/pusztai.htm
5. See Jeffrey Smith, "Seeds of Deception". During the Nazi era in Germany "....... far from being subjected to force, many scientists voluntarily oriented their work to fit government policies - as a way of getting money and of exploiting the new resources that Nazi policies made available ......... Most researchers, it turns out, seem to have regarded the regime not as a threat, but as an opportunity for their research ambitions." (Nature, 7 April 2005) Encouraging the people of Britain to stand up to Hitler, Winston Churchill said this: "....... if we fail, the whole world, including the Unites States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science." (June 18th, 1940)
6. http://www.gefreemaine.org/index.php?page=13 Date: 25 May 2005
7. Syngenta Dodgy Dossier -- GM Free Cymru http://www.gmfreecymru.org/news/Press_Notice8December2005.htm
8. For an example of the "dodgy science" used in support of GM applications for approval, see this: http://www.gmwatch.org/p1temp.asp?pid=66&page=1