Dr Ian Gibson MP's local paper has picked up on his exposure as "a parrot in the House of Commons" (see below) and has wrung an admission out of him about his speech's extraordinary similarity to a paper written by his former employer, Derek Burke - a paper which the MP was presumably provided with in advance as it wasn't published until the day of Gibson's speech.
According to Evening News journalist Alex Gore, 'When pressed Dr Gibson admitted: "We [ie Gibson and Burke] are working together to try and erode the anti-GM debate."'
This admission is highly revealing. In 1999 no less than four apparently independent reports on GM were published in the UK in the space of just two days. All asserted the safety of GM foods and crops, and all strongly criticised the research of Dr Arpad Pusztai.
The reports appeared to be coming from four entirely separate sources. One was the May/Donaldson report - co-author, Robert May was then the Government's Chief Scientific Advisor; one was from Royal Society, which Robert May now heads and of which he was at the time a leading Fellow; one was from the Nuffield Council, amongst whose leading lights were Derek Burke and Brian Heap, the then Vice President of the Royal Society; and one was from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, whih Ian Gibson heads.
The whole point of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is that it should provide scrutiny of scientific issues independent of government and of vested interests. Gibson's collusion with Burke, who in turn has worked hand in glove with leading Fellows of the Royal Society, makes a complete nonsense of this.
Recently, the Gibson-led Science and Technology Committee issued a report on the UK's public funding body for the bio-sciences, the BBSRC. The only serious criticism it made of this highly-industrially aligned body was that it was not being pro-active enough in promoting communication with the public on issues like GM crops where public trust needed to be built in such research.
The conclusions of this "independent" report take on an entirely different character with the Select Committee chairman's admission that he is working hand in glove with Britain's leading pro-GM campaigner "to try and erode the anti-GM debate."
At the time of the Pusztai report, the Specialist Adviser to the Select Committee on Science and Technology was Derek Burke, although he stood down for that report to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest. Burke has written of his time with the Committee, "Everyone knows what goes on in the chamber. .. But, the real work of the House of Commons is done, I think, elsewhere in Committee Rooms... or in the Select Committees. And, at a time when people are becoming increasingly disil-lusioned about the effectiveness of an individual MP, it's been splendid to see how much influence an individual can have in a Select Committee." http://www.iob.org/downloads/In%20my%20view.pdf
1.Corridors of Power
2.WHY I CANNOT REMAIN SILENT
1.Corridors of Power
Evening News, June 24 2004
Norwich North MP Dr Ian Gibson has been exposed as a parrot in the House of Commons. A speech he made on the demonisation of GM crops in the media sounded remarkably like a speech written by pro-GM campaigner Derek Burke - a former employer of Dr Gibson's as vice chancellor of the UEA. I'll let Corridors readers judge for themselves.
Gibson: "It is ironic that, over 50 or 60 years, plant breeders have used chemical and radiation mutagenesis to create new varieties, with new modifications and genes leaping about and joining together, with no protest. We must ask why there was no protest then, but there is protest now."
Burke: "It is also puzzling that there has never been any public concern about the fact that, for the past 50-60 years, plant breeders have used chemical and radiation mutagenesis to create new varieties, involving major and quite unknown genetic modifications.... So why is there so much opposition now?"
There are many other parts of the speech which are virtually identical to Prof Burke's article, 'GM Food and Crops: What Went Wrong in the UK?' which was published on exactly the same day.
When pressed Dr Gibson admitted: "We are working together to try and erode the anti-GM debate."
2.WHY I CANNOT REMAIN SILENT
GM-FREE Vol. 1, no. 3 August/September 1999
[excerpt only - full text]
GM-FREE: In May this year, four major reports, all trumpeting the safety of GM foods and all condemning your work, were released within two days of each other. They were the Donaldson/May report; the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report; the Royal Society review; and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics' report. What's your view on the timing of these reports?
Dr Pusztai: Can you believe that four major reports could come out, all condemning me, within two days? That is stretching belief.
It's clear that there was a concerted effort to discredit me. The only body that.invited me for discussions, the Environmental Toxicology Committee, gave me just eleven days' notice. I explained that on that day I would be on a plane, so could they please suggest an alternative day. They obviously were not interested, because they did not come back to me. The Royal Society, despite the fact that I offered my full cooperation, refused it; they just wanted to have pieces of paper which they could shred to bits to condemn me.
In 1956, when I was living in Hungary, I got a Ford Foundation Scholarship and they said I could go wherever I wanted. I chose England because I thought the British were fair, and that they would tolerate even an oddball like me. But then I found out about these machinations and duplicity.
On the Royal Society review of his research
Dr Pusztai: The Royal Society report was totally negative and unhelpful, and obviously made to cut me down, to give the political masters the backing they required from an august body.
You see, if you submit a paper to a journal, in 7 out of 10 instances, the reviewers are helpful. For example, they say, "I don't think you have done this well; could it not have been done this way instead?" Then there is a dialogue. The point is not to steam-hammer some poor soul, but, as I said in a letter to the Royal Society, to arrive together at the truth. But in this case, there has been no attempt whatever to discover the truth.
The Royal Society, instead of going back to last August and all that history, should be concentrating on how to make the experiments better. There is not a single word in their review that addresses this, apart from saying it should be better designed. My PhD students would have laughed at me if I said anything like that. Sanctimonious phrases are not enough ”” if you criticise an experiment, you have to say how you would go about doing it better.
I have published everything in my life. I make a solemn promise that I shall try my best to publish my research. If I fail, I shall put it on the internet. I owe it to the people who have been supporting me that they should know all the facts. No matter how the Royal Society or whoever else machinates against me, I will do it."
[In the following year Dr Pusztai's research was peer-review published by The Lancet, although he continued to come under ferocious attack from the Royal society and Derek Burke's rebuttal group]