Boss of food watchdog condemned
Daily Mail, 8 June 2010
The Labour boss of Britain's Food Standards Agency has been condemned for criticising opponents of GM food as 'anti-science'.
Lord Jeff Rooker was appointed in the dying days of the Labour administration to the powerful post of running the nation's supposedly independent food watchdog.
However, the pro-GM politician stands accused of trying to use the Agency to force so-called Frankenstein Food onto the nation's dinner tables.
Now, a coalition of GM critics, community groups and environmental campaigners has written an open letter to Lord Rooker condemning his bias.
The group, which includes the Soil Association, Friends of the Earth, GM Freeze, GM Watch and the Soy Alliance, say his views are irrational.
They said: '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.'
The group said that the FSA, under Lord Rooker's leadership, has given the GM industry special access to its policy makers while locking out critics.
The former Labour MP and Government minister, who is paid GBP54,000 a year for a two-day week, is among a number of Labour politicians appointed to run Quangos in the past 18 months.
The net result that senior Labour figures continue to have their hands on the levers of power despite the party's defeat at the General Election.
He has repeatedly made clear that he views opponents of GM as being 'anti-science'.
The reality is that there are huge gaps in scientific knowledge about the effects of GM on human health.
Separately, research has found serious threats to the environment caused by GM farming techniques.
However, the FSA has drawn up plans to spend GBP500,000 of taxpayers money on a public consultation that critics say is no more than a GM propaganda exercise.
Just last week, two people appointed by the FSA to sit on a steering group in charge of the consultation resigned in protest at the obvious bias.
They argued the GBP500,000 set aside for the exercise would be better spent on schools and hospitals.
The coalition of critics, led by Peter Melchett of the Soil Association, has made clear they will have nothing to do with the consultation plan.
They said: '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 waste of public money.
'We will encourage our supporters and others to avoid giving any spurious legitimacy to this exercise.'
The new government and the Conservative environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, are under pressure to junk the consultation exercise.
However, while the Government is pledged to cut waste, Mrs Spelman has a history of support for GM through long-standing links to the agriculture industry and a PR company she ran with her husband.