More on the lobby groups active at the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in Montreal.
The involvement of a member of the GMO committee of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in the activities of a lobby group seeking lax regulations of GMOs, and with many biotech industry connections, is particularly disturbing. It is not, however, the first time EFSA members have been caught up in boiotech promotionals see the FoE report: http://www.foeeurope.org/GMOs/publications/EFSAreport.pdf
PRRI in Montreal
The PUBLIC RESEARCH AND REGULATION INITIATIVE
(PRRI) is active in and around the negotiations in Montreal. It claims not to be aligned with the biotech industry and to simply reflect the views of public sector biotechnologists. It has more than 20 scientists at the talks to put across its views.
In reality, however, the lobbying activities of PRRI are enmeshed with private sector interests. Prior to the formal launch of the foundation, a number of 'awareness raising activities' at events involving public sector scientists were undertaken with the financial support of the private sector. The private sector is also contributing to PRRI's running costs. The foundation is even administered via a private sector company - Cambridge Biomedical Consultants Ltd.
Those with PRRI in Montreal include the group's Chairman, Phil Dale, emeritus professor at the John Innes Centre in the UK, which has benefitted from tens of millions of pounds in biotech industry investment.
PRRI Steering Committee member, Dr Roger Beachy is also in Montreal. Beachy is the founding President of the Danforth Center, which was established by Monsanto 'and academic partners' with a $70-million pledge from Monsanto as well as a 40-acre tract of land, valued at $11.4 million.
Beachy is also co-Chair of the scientific advisory board of the Akkadix Corporation, a global agricultural biotechnology company, on the scientific advisory board of Spacehab, Inc. He's also a consultant to the United Soybean Board which works to 'make U.S. soybeans the world leader'.
PRRI founder Piet van der Meer is also in Montreal, as is his wife Laura a lobbyist for the biotech industry's GLOBAL INDUSTRY COALITION. Disturbingly, Van der Meer has also had a role within the negotiations this year, as in the past, as an impartial expert but his record in this respect is not a good one. Dr Tewolde Egziabher, Chair of the Africa Group at the Protocol negotiations, has found van der Meer at past negotiations to be the very opposite of impartial. 'Piet was the most unfair of the chairs in the negotiations. Many of our delegates were, understandably, not very fluent in English. He used to make them sound as ridiculous as he could... (and) blatantly disregarded them when they wanted to make interventions. Sometimes he championed ideas, disregarding the fact that he was chairing.'
Among other scientists in Montreal with PRRI are:
Dr George Sakellaris who is a member of the European Food Safety Authority GMO panel
Sakelleris has also worked with Vivian Moses, the Chairman of the biotech industry funded lobby group CropGen, on the project Educating the European Public for Biotechnology.
Dr Allen van Deynze of University of Davis California who co-authored paper with Wayne Parrott saying regulatory requirements for GMOs can now be modified [ie relaxed!] to reduce costs and uncertainty.
Dr Desiree Hautea, who is part of the management team of the USAID project ABSP11. ABSP's private sector partners have included Asgrow, Monsanto, Pioneer Hi-Bred and DNA Plant Technology
And Dr Jorge Mayer who is on the GOLDEN RICE HUMANITARIAN BOARD along with Gerard Barry (ex-Monsanto) and Gurdev Kush (formerly IRRI now an advisor to GM pharma crop company, Ventria)
For much more on the Public Research and Regulation Foundation