GM promoters turn dialogue into monologue
2.The letter to Rooker - NGOs
3.GM comment - Western Mail
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "[The new government] must not allow pro-GM propagandists to turn a dialogue into a monologue" - Steve Dube, Western Mail (item 3)
EXTRACT: Professor Brian Wynne said the FSA was promoting GM 'propaganda' and incapable of carrying out an objective public consultation. Now the Soil Association, Friends of the Earth, GM Watch and two other non-Governmental organisations have written to the FSA in support of Prof Wynne. (item 2)
TAKE ACTION: Please write to your MP - it's easy: http://bit.ly/bSpS1A
1.GM public consultation has 'no credibility' - say campaigners
Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
Daily Telegraph, 7 June 2010
*Food campaigners are to boycott ongoing talks on GM, casting further doubt on a controversial Government review of the science.
The 'public dialogue' set up by Government quango the Food Standards Agency is already in disarray after the vice chairman resigned.
Professor Brian Wynne said the FSA was promoting GM 'propaganda' and incapable of carrying out an objective public consultation.
Now the Soil Association, Friends of the Earth, GM Watch and two other non-Governmental organisations have written to the FSA in support of Prof Wynne.
In a letter to Lord Jeffrey Rooker, Chairman of the FSA, they complained that the dialogue is a "silly waste of money".
"As public interest groups who oppose the use of expensive, unproven and environmentally and socially damaging GM technology in farming and food, we do not intend to have anything to do with your GM assessment, and this £500,000 waste of public money, and we will encourage our supporters and others to avoid giving any spurious legitimacy to this exercise," it reads.
Lord Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association, said the public consultation will have no credibility without the input of public interests groups.
"It cannot possibly have an credibility for exactly the reason Professor Wynne said, that the FSA is displaying an institutional bias in favour of GM," he said.
The FSA pointed out that the public dialogue is still at the planning stage and will only go-ahead when the Government decides.
The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs, that is in charge of the decision, said it is still being considered.
"The details of the Government's GM policy are yet to be decided, and ministers will consider whether to continue with the Dialogue," a spokesman said.
2.The letter to Rooker
The Rt Hon Lord Rooker,
Chair, Food Standards Agency,
London, WC2B 6NH
Dear Lord Rooker,
We are very disturbed to learn that you believe that the British public are anti-science, and that as GM is a scientific issue, public opposition to GM is automatically irrational and anti-science. Similar biased and irrational views to yours have been expressed by Professor Blakemore, the Chair of your General Advisory Committee on Science, in last Sunday's Observer, where he described those who oppose GM as using ideologically motivated, unsubstantiated horror stories about GM.
We have also learnt from papers revealed under FoI requests that the GM industry or their representatives have been given the opportunity to comment on the FSA's draft report on the use of GM animal feed - an opportunity not, as far as we know, offered to those representing the public interest, or opposing the use of GM crops in animal feed, who were consulted by the FSA earlier in the process.
Given this 'systematic failure of institutional integrity' (to use Professor Wynne's words), we assume that the FSA ascribes the same 'anti-science' and 'ideological' labels to public interest groups that oppose GM crops and food. We note the very different treatment of individuals connected to the many GM businesses, GM consultants, GM PR companies, and scientists who are committed to GM technology and receive funds from GM companies or for GM related work, and indeed some of your own staff and Chief Scientist who have a long history of favouring GM.
As public interest groups who oppose the use of expensive, unproven and environmentally and socially damaging GM technology in farming and food, we do not intend to have anything to do with your GM assessment, and this £1/2 million waste of public money, and we will encourage our supporters and others to avoid giving any spurious legitimacy to this exercise.
We hope that our action will save you having to spend tax payers money ensuring that we are excluded from this process, as we assume you would want to do, but we urge you to drop the whole silly business before you waste any more time and public money on it.
Given the public interest in these issues, we are making this letter public.
Peter Melchett, Soil Association
Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Friends of the Earth
Pete Riley, GM Freeze
Jonathan Matthews, GMWatch
Anthony Jackson, Soy Alliance
Western Mail, June 8 2010
THE resignation of two experts from the Food Standards Agency’s GM Public Dialogue steering group merits early action from the new coalition government.
The dialogue was set up last November to help ensure that future policy towards genetically modified crops and food “is informed by a thorough understanding of the public’s principal concerns and priorities in respect of such food”.
Backed with £500,000 of government money it was criticised from the start as a propaganda exercise aimed at reversing the public perception of “Frankenfoods” rather than understanding why the public seem so set against the technology.
Just six months later two prominent members of the group, including the vice-chairman, have resigned saying the “dialogue” is already “nothing more than a PR exercise on behalf of the GM industry”, and “a waste of taxpayers’ money”. They said the whole affair had degenerated into an expensive farce.
The last government was slavishly pro-GM and only restrained by the strength of public opinion opposing GM at the same time saying that opponents were “anti-science”.
The new government must understand that there are genuine fears among scientists as well as the public about the way this technology is being used on our crops and in our food.
It must not allow pro-GM propagandists to turn a dialogue into a monologue.