2.SAS profile - GM WATCH
---1.Scientists await PM answer on GM
UK SCIENCE POLICY
The Prime Minister was expected to respond this week to a letter from 114 UK scientists on the issue of increasing hostility to, and lack of government support for, work on genetic modification. The letter was co-ordinated by Sense About Science, an organisation set up by a group of scientists who feel that evidence is being ignored in an increasing number of public debates on scientific matters.
1614 7 November 2003 p.52
See also: THES 1614 7 November 2003 p.12
from SPIN - Science Policy Information News
A weekly round-up of news relevant to biomedical science policy
10 November 2003, No. 628
SPIN is a weekly newsletter produced by the Wellcome Trust's Policy Unit and Information Service.
---2.Sense About Science - GM WATCH profile
The lobby group Sense About Science says it is 'An association to encourage a rational, evidence-based approach to scientific and technological developments.' The domain name senseaboutscience.org was registered in March 2002.
Although relatively recently established it has found time to promote its point of view on GM crops to peers, MPs and the media, to raise funding from "corporations and learned societies", and to establish a special Working Party on how to solve the problems of scientific peer review.
It enjoys a very close working relationship with the Royal Society.
Chairman: Lord Taverne
Vice Chairman: Dame Bridget Ogilvie
Director: Tracey Brown
Association for Sense About Science
60 Cambridge Street
Telephone 01795 537322
The phone number is the same as that for the charity Global Futures. According to the Charity Commission, the contact person for Global Futures is Ellen Raphael. When Sense About Science was established Raphael was a consultant for the London-based PR company Regester Larkin .http://www.regesterlarkin.com
Regester Larkin's client list includes Aventis CropScience, Aventis Pharma, Bayer Inc, BioIndustry Association, and Pfizer.http://www.regesterlarkin.com/rl/clients.shtml
Prior to Sense about Science, Tracey Brown also worked for Regester Larkin. Now Raphael has joined Brown at sense About Science.
Brown, Raphael and Global Futures all connect to the Living Marxism (LM) network which argues for no restraints at all on science and technology (including human reproductive cloning) and regards environmentalists as comparable to the Nazis. Dr Michael Fitzpatrick who is [art of the same network is a trustee both to Global Futures and Sense About Science.
Sense About Science has set up a Working Party on peer review which enjoys strong support from the Royal Society. It not only meets at the Royal Society but is chaired by the Vice President of the Royal Society, Sir Brian Heap. The Society's Biological Secretary, Patrick Bateson, has been assigned to liaise with the Working Party as has Bob Ward, a Senior Manager for Press and Public Relations at the Royal Society. Several members of the Working Party are leading Fellows of the Royal Society, including Professor Sir Peter Lachmann FRS.
Tracey Brown is not the only one on the Working Party with strong LM connections. Another member is Tony Gilland, an LM and Spiked contributor, as well as the science and society director of the the Institute of Ideas (I of I). Another member is Fiona Fox who heads the Science Media Centre which operates out of the Royal Institution. Fox contributed several articles to LM, including highly controversial material on the Rwandan genocide. Fiona Fox's sister, Clare, heads the I of I where Gilland works.
In a letter to Tracey Brown last November, the Wellcome Trust sets out why, after careful consideration, it is declining to be part of the Working Party or to provide any funding. Amongst the series of concerns listed is the fact that, "The proposed make-up of the Working Party is extremely narrow". The Working Party, the lettter says, "runs the risk of being seen as a closed and defensive strategy", and the letter talks of the project being based on "many assumptions" and very little "direct evidence".
On January 31 2003 the BBC ran reports in which its science correspondent Pallab Ghosh claimed the British Medical Association had decided to review its policy on GM and issue a new report at the urging of Sense about Science. Ghosh also reported the comments of Sir Peter Lachmann who said the BMA's original 1999 report had been based on research which was now "discredited".
The BMA responded with a press release in which Dr Vivienne Nathanson, Head of BMA Science and Ethics, stated that, "Today's BBC reports stating why the BMA would be undertaking a future report of GM crops and food is wrong." The BMA press release also stated, "The claim that we have been persuaded by the organisation 'Sense about Science' to review our policy is simply wrong." The BMA said that it's review was routine as the original report had been of an interim nature and that there would not necessarily be a further report.
Pallab Ghosh is chairman of the British Association of Science Writers of which Dame Bridget Ogilvy is the Chairman - Ogilvy is on the advisory council of Sense about Science and in December 2002 sent a joint letter with Lachmann to the Times criticising the stance on GM crops of the BMA and accusing them of "concerns without scientific foundation". Lachmann is on the advisory council of Sense About Science. According to the Guardian, it was Lachmann who threatened the editor of the Lancet with the loss of his job if he published Pusztai and Ewen's paper showing negative effects on rats from the consumption of GM potatoes.
Deatails of the advisory council and board of trustees of Sense About science can be seen here:http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/about.htm
1. Burke letter was co-ordinated by Sense About Science