8 May 2003
Bateson and the RS claim public misled by anti-GM campaigners
Patrick Bateson and the Royal Society know all about misleading the public as journalist Andy Rowell told bateson to his face at the Twisting the Genome conference - see: Strange Bedfellows http://ngin.tripod.com/190303d.htm
Royal Society and Big Business http://ngin.tripod.com/rsfunding.htm
Pro-GM scientist threatened editor http://ngin.tripod.com/rs.htm
Public misled by anti-GM campaigners
Thursday May 8, 2003 12:33 AM
Members of the public have been misled into thinking food containing genetically modified ingredients is inherently unsafe, a leading academic has claimed. Professor Patrick Bateson, vice-president and biological secretary of the Royal Society, said the truth about GM had been hidden behind a "smokescreen of unfounded claims".
He was especially critical of the message sent out by the environmental group Greenpeace, which has campaigned against GM food development. The Royal Society has made submissions to the Government's GM Science Review, setting out its views on genetically modified plant products. Britain's leading academic institution said there was no evidence to suggest that food containing ingredients from GM plants was any less safe than its conventional counterpart.
GM products were no more likely to reduce the nutritional quality of food, or cause allergic reactions, it said. Furthermore, there was no evidence that eating modified DNA in GM food could be harmful to human health. Professor Bateson said: "We conducted a major review of the evidence about GM plants and human health last year, and we have not seen any evidence since then that changes our original conclusions. If credible evidence does exist that GM foods are more harmful to people than non-GM foods, we should like to know why it has not been made public.
"The public have a right to decide whether they want to buy GM foods, and are entitled to have access to sensible and informed advice, based on sound science. It is disappointing to find a group like Greenpeace stating on its website that 'the risks are enormous and the consequences potentially catastrophic', without offering any solid reasons to support such a claim." Ben Ayliffe, GM campaigner at Greenpeace, accused the Royal Society of not being objective.
He said: "Greenpeace commissioned and published a major report from the University of Wageningen on the uncertainties and unknowns around GM crops. This has been submitted to the Science Review and it's a pity that Professor Bateson hasn't read it. But then the Royal Society are gaining a reputation as campaigners for their pet technologies."
UK scientists challenge greens over GM food claims
Source - Reuters Commodities News (Eng)
Thursday, May 08, 2003 06:01
LONDON, May 8 (Reuters) - The Royal Society, Britain's academy of scientists, on Thursday challenged groups asserting that genetically-modified foods are inherently unsafe to come up with evidence to prove their point.
In two submissions to a GM science review, the scientists said the potential for GM ingredients to reduce nutritional quality in food or cause allergic reactions was "in principle" no different to that for non GM counterparts.
"Furthermore, there is no credible evidence that human health can be damaged by eating DNA sequences created by the genetic modification of ingredients," it said. The policy statement comes as Britain awaits the first results from government-sponsored field trials.
Britain is due to make up its mind later this year over whether or not genetically-modified crops should be grown commercially. But shoppers, bruised by a string of food scares such as mad cow disease, are wary. Royal Society Vice-President, Professor Patrick Bateson, said that it had not seen any evidence to contradict a review of GM plants and human health last year, which found that such foods were safe to eat.
"The public have a right to decide whether they want to buy GM foods, and are entitled to have access to sensible and informed advice, based on sound science," he said.
"It is disappointing to find a group like Greenpeace stating on its website that 'the risks are enormous and the consequences potentially catastrophic', without offering any solid reasons to support such a claim," he added.
Greenpeace said it had commissioned and published a report from the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, which specialises in life sciences, on uncertainties and unknowns around GM crops.
"This has been submitted to the science review and is available on the Internet. What a pity Professor Bateson hasn't read it," Greenpeace campaigner Ben Ayliffe said in a statement.
Some scientists say gene technology could solve world hunger, with GM crops that produce higher yields and are insect-, disease- and drought-resistant. Opponents say growing such crops could change the face of the countryside, through cross pollination with traditional varieties.