EXCERPT: "Sir John used his position as head of the supposedly independent FSA by rubbishing organic food and pushing GM down the public's throat. It's a shame that a group of teenagers now have to suffer his skewed and misinformed opinion."
Note, in particular, this classic linguistic sleight of hand from Sir John:
"Some people have real worries about using this as a technology, but then scientists say it's very safe and closely monitored."
See also: Krebs repeats Monsanto's lie
GM Expert Targets Teenagers
Controversial Academic to Present Flagship Science Lecture for Children
By Rachelle Money
Sunday Herald, 18 December 2005
A LEADING scientist is to use a series of televised educational lectures to promote genetically modified crops to teenagers. Professor Sir John Krebs, the former chairman of the Food Standards Agency, will argue in this year's Royal Institution Christmas Lectures that growing genetically modified crops could help meet the demands of feeding the world's rising population.
The series of lectures, to be broadcast on Channel 5, is recorded live in front of an audience of 11-18-year-olds.
Speaking ahead of the lectures, Krebs said: "The real problem is with the three billion extra mouths we will have to feed by 2050, how will we produce enough food? The main thing is water. You need land and energy, but the real limiting factor in producing food for the future is water.
"In order to get round this lack of water we may have to create plants that can survive with salt water. If you could take the genetic make-up of a salt marsh plant and put it in rice, then you could solve the water problem."
The controversial academic, who has been attacked in the past over his pro-GM stance, said it was important to inform young people because their generation will be making key decisions about the future use of the technology.
He said: "I'm going to be very upfront when it comes to talking about GM foods. Some people have real worries about using this as a technology, but then scientists say it's very safe and closely monitored.
"What I am saying is that whether we use GM food or not isn't up to the scientists, but up to the children in the audience."
Krebs, who is currently the principal of Jesus College, Oxford, also plans to discuss the growing issue of childhood obesity, how evolution influences what we eat, and the development of foods that claim to have health-enhancing qualities.
Krebs was a highly controversial figure during his five years as chairman of the independent FSA. The renowned ecologist, who specialises in bird behaviour, drew criticism for endorsing GM foods at the start of his term and later claiming that there was no evidence that organic food was better than conventional food.
He has also accused GM sceptics of being "shrill, often ill- informed and dogma-driven". He retired from the FSA in July this year.
Last night, Krebs's plans to use the prestigious Christmas Lectures to raise the issue of GM technology with young people were attacked by campaigners and politicians.
Stuart Hay, head of policy and research at environmental group Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "It's very dangerous for an intellectual figure like this to be advocating GM technology because there's complex science behind it. Young people especially need to know all the facts."
He added that the group also had concerns about the debate "because of the large multinational companies behind GM foods that stand to make billions out of it".
Mark Ruskell, Green speaker on the environment, said: "Sir John used his position as head of the supposedly independent FSA by rubbishing organic food and pushing GM down the public's throat. It's a shame that a group of teenagers now have to suffer his skewed and misinformed opinion."
A review of the FSA under Krebs by Baroness Dean concluded that the organisation had not fulfilled its criteria for being scientifically impartial when considering both organic and GM goods.
The Royal Institution, one of the pillars of the British scientific research establishment, specialises in the communication of scientific ideas and regards the prime-time televised lectures as some of its most important events of the year. In the past they have been strictly above politics. World famous scientists who have given the lectures include Baroness Susan Greenfield, director of the Royal Institution, George Porter and David Attenborough.
Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, December 26-30, Channel 5, 7pm