6 February 2003
'STALINIST' ROYAL SOCIETY REPORTED TO CHARITY COMMISSIONERS
call for Charity Commissioners to investigate Royal Society
"The editor of one of Britain's leading medical journals, the Lancet, says he was threatened by a senior member of the Royal Society, the voice of the British science establishment, that his job would be at risk if he published controversial research questioning the safety of genetically modified foods." Guardian, November 1st 1999
"These activities would be more in place in the Stalinist USSR of past decades than in modern Britain, and they have caused widespread revulsion among those who have been involved and those who have been looking in from the outside. A group of very senior Fellows actually appears to be involved in something akin to a 'rebuttal unit' which has links across to other organisations and which has the task of seeking to discredit inconvenient research on GM crops and foods. This is both sinister and dangerous, and it brings science itself into disrepute. We ask you to undertake a very careful examination of the activities of the Royal Society with a view to terminating its registration as a Charity." GM Free Cymru, 5 February 2003
NATURAL LAW PARTY WESSEX
The Acceptable Face Of Ag-biotech
GM Free Cymru
Trefelin, Cilgwyn, Newport, Pembrokeshire,
South Wales SA42 0QN
Tel: 01239 820470 Fax 01239 821245
The Charity Commissioners
13-15 Bouverie Street
London EC4Y 8DP 5th February 2003
Formal Complaint / Request for Investigation
We are seriously concerned about the behaviour of the following registered Charity, and wish to enter a complaint on the grounds that it has been acting outside its terms of reference and in breach of the Charity regulations.
Charity Number 207043
THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LONDON FOR IMPROVING NATURAL
KNOWLEDGE (COMMONLY KNOWN AS THE ROYAL SOCIETY)
THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
6 CARLTON HOUSE TERRACE
Telephone 0207 839 5561
Website Address WWW.ROYALSOC.AC.UK
Governing Document ROYAL CHARTERS DATED 1662 AND 1663
Objects FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF NATURAL KNOWLEDGE
Area of Benefit NOT DEFINED
Area of Operation Charity Operates throughout England and Wales
Registration History 22 Jan 1963 Registered
Who? General public/Mankind
For some years now we have been watching the activities of this Charity with increasing dismay, and have come to the view that its current Trustees have brought the Royal Society into disrepute. Its object is "the improvement of natural knowledge", and its prime purpose appears to be the education of the general public in scientific matters. However, it has an increasingly political agenda, and it is this aspect of its current work that causes us particular concern. It has very close links with the Government and with extremely large biotechnology and other corporations; presumably most of its annual income of £39 million comes from these sources. This financial dependency alone might lead one to wonder whether its scientific integrity and objectivity was not being compromised.
We know that scientists from all disciplines have concerns about the behaviour of the Royal Society, but we will concentrate on but one aspect of its work: biotechnology and the science surrounding GM crops and foods. Here, to our certain knowledge, the Royal Society has abandoned any pretence of impartiality and has taken it upon itself to promote a technology which is viewed with profound mistrust (if opinion polls are to be believed) by the great majority of the British public. It is, in our view, working against the public interest (and is therefore in breach of its prime purpose) in promoting the interests of the GM multinationals and the small group of scientists working in this field.
It is also directly promoting the agenda of the British Government by taking a leading role in the 3science debate2 surrounding the planting and possible commercialisation of GM crops in this country. It is not just participating in this debate (this would be an acceptable activity for a Charity) but actively promoting and canvassing the pro-GM agenda. It was reported in the press recently that the Royal Society has now offered its Proceedings B as the publication vehicle for the DEFRA reports on the GM Farm Scale Evaluations programme; the reason is that the peer-review process is not as tight as in other scientific journals, and that the link between evidence and interpretation will not be so carefully examined. Thus science is yet again devalued. It is a disgrace that a body such as the Royal Society should be involved in such shabby practice.
In addition, the Royal Society is increasingly involved in the active and shameless promotion of bad science, using PR and 3spinning2 techniques that are too close to propaganda for comfort. A recent example is the extraordinary attempt by the Royal Society to obtain maximum media coverage for a rather insignificant research paper which is not yet published in their Proceedings B. The conclusions being hyped up by the Royal Society (namely that a new herbicide spraying regime for GM sugar beet, developed by the Brooms Barn Research Station, would help sustainable agriculture and lead to increases of bird life in the countryside) were not at all justified by the small-scale and somewhat dubious results of the study. The RSPB and Soil Association have already pointed out these shortcomings with some force.
Finally, the Royal Society is increasingly involved in the vilification of scientists whose views it finds 'off message', and in bullying and pressurising respectable publications and their editors if they dare to publish research of which the Royal Society disapproves. These activities would be more in place in the Stalinist USSR of past decades than in modern Britain, and they have caused widespread revulsion among those who have been involved and those who have been looking in from the outside. A group of very senior Fellows actually appears to be involved in something akin to a 'rebuttal unit' which has links across to other organisations and which has the task of seeking to discredit inconvenient research on GM crops and foods. This is both sinister and dangerous, and it brings science itself into disrepute.
We ask you to undertake a very careful examination of the activities of the Royal Society with a view to terminating its registration as a Charity. It does not deserve to share this status with the thousands of small charities across the land who struggle on, year after year, with minimal funds but with the greatest of respect for the rules laid down by the Charities Commission.
We append a number of documents which will provide background for the claims which we make in this letter. No doubt you will contact some of the organisations mentioned, and also The Guardian and Independent newspapers who have a great deal more material on file.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Dr Brian John
for GM Free Cymru