New science minister another industry crony
1.NEW SCIENCE MINISTER ANOTHER INDUSTRY CRONY - GM Watch
2.Lord Drayson takes science brief - BBC News
3.Arise, Lord Sleaze - Daily Mail
NOTE: GM Watch predicted Drayson's appointment as Science Minister at the time Lord Sainsbury's departure was first mooted (item 1). Gordon Brown has proved himself a true heir to Blair.
EXTRACT: Lord Drayson said his appointment represented an upgrading of the science minister's role. He is to attend cabinet and will chair a new Cabinet Committee for Science and Innovation. (item 2)
1.NEW SCIENCE MINISTER ANOTHER INDUSTRY CRONY
As Lord Sainsbury's seven year tenure as Science Minister comes to an end GM Watch looks at the man tipped to be his successor.
Those who thought that Tony Blair could never outdo his choice of an unelected biotech investor and food industrialist as his Science Minister will be reassured to know that the man tipped to be Lord Sainsbury's successor is Lord Drayson, the former head of the BioIndustry Association (Motto: 'Promoting UK Biotechnology').
Just as the Sainsbury-Blair relationship has brought allegations of corruption and cronyism, the Drayson-Blair relationship has also been mired in accusations of sleaze. In September 1997 Sainsbury gave Labour its biggest ever single donation. On October 3 1997 he was made a life peer by Blair and a year later Minister for Science. The former head of the BioIndustry Association, Paul Drayson, is also a Labour Party donor, and has also been given a peerage by Blair in highly controversial circumstances.
The controversy began when Drayson, previously an admirer of Mrs Thatcher, made a substantial donation to Labour while the government was deciding who should be awarded a smallpox vaccine contract. Drayson gave a further donation of half a million pounds to Labour just six weeks after the PM made him Lord Drayson. Controversially, the Blair government awarded Drayson's company, PowderJect, the smallpox vaccine contract without any competition.
It is said that after meetings between Drayson's BioIndustry Association and a Treasury minister, Blair's Chancellor, Gordon Brown, uncharacteristically approved a tax reform which would save Drayson's company an immediate £2m on its tax bill. After selling his company for a very considerable profit, Lord Drayson described himself as 'a very successful guy through my own hard work'.
Drayson's company, while he still headed it, was a financial supporter of the pro-GM Science Media Centre a pet project of Lord Sainsbury's. PowderJect's support for the SMC dried up following Drayson's departure. Drayson has also served on a working party of the controversial pro-GM lobby group 'Sense About Science'.
While Drayson was the head of the BioIndustry Association, it proposed sweeping new restrictions on the right to protest. The introduction of such legislation would make it difficult to legally conduct a boycott or protest against a corporation. In explaining the reason for the legislation, Drayson said his vision was for the UK to be the life sciences hub of Europe, and the bridge between the Europe and the States.
Article reproduced from www.gmwatch.org
 'Sainsbury to give Labour GBP2m as unions hold back',The Sunday Times, January 23, 2005, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1452259,00.html
 'Vaccine-row donor gave Labour GBP500,000',The Guardian, August 24, 2004, http://politics.guardian.co.uk/funding/story/0,11893,1289822,00.html
 'How a Thatcher Fan Became a Tony Crony and Made a Fortune', Daily Mail, June 30, 2004 http://www.tylerpaper.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=12167438&BRD=1994&PAG=740&dept_id=226965&rfi=6
 'members of the working party' listed on http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/peerreview/
 'Biotechs target activists', The Guardian, April 27, 2001, http://www.connectotel.com/gmfood/gu270401.txt
2.Lord Drayson takes science brief
BBC News, 3 October 2007
*Lord Drayson takes control at a time of increased science spend
The UK has a new science minister - the third in two years.
Lord Drayson takes up the post in the recently created Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.
It is a quick return to government for the multi-millionaire businessman who quit a position in defence in 2007 to pursue his interests in motor racing.
The scientific community, however, will welcome the appointment of "one of their own" - Lord Drayson holds a PhD in robotics.
The government, on the other hand, has a man who knows how to exploit innovation for the benefit of UK PLC.
Lord Drayson helped set up the Oxford-based Powderject company, which developed a revolutionary needle-free injection system.
The firm was acquired by the Chiron Corporation for more than GBP500m in 2003.
"I'm delighted - it's my absolute dream job," the new minister said.
"I have worked all my life in science and technology, and so the opportunity now to make a real difference in this area is a real honour, and I can't wait to get started."
Basic and applied
Lord Drayson said his appointment represented an upgrading of the science minister's role. He is to attend cabinet and will chair a new Cabinet Committee for Science and Innovation.
The committee's task will be to ensure integration across government.
"We welcome this appointment and look forward to working with Lord Drayson, whose proven interest in technology can only benefit the UK engineering community," said Dr Scott Steedman, vice president of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
And Professor Colin Blakemore, former head of the Medical Research Council, added: "There's no doubt he's been very creative in recognising opportunities to move from basic research into innovation in his own career, so he chimes very much with the government's current focus on translational research.
"However, I do think he can be trusted to defend the investment needed for the basic research which is essential for innovation in the future."
Lord Drayson succeeds Ian Pearson, who held the science brief for 14 months; and Malcolm Wicks who himself was only in position for eight months.
Before them was Lord Sainsbury who was science minister for a remarkable eight years. Sainsbury, like Drayson, has been a big donor to the Labour Party.
The motor racing peer takes over at a time of high commitment to science spending in the UK.
Britain puts roughly £5bn a year into research; a figure that Gordon Brown has promised to increase to £6.3bn by 2010 as part of his 10-year science and innovation investment framework.
The Liberal Democrat MP Phil Willis, who is also chairman of the Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills, said Lord Drayson could make an excellent advocate for science.
"We desperately need a champion like him in the run-up to the next spending review," he commented.
"At both the graduate and post-doctoral level there is a very serious shortage of scientists and engineers. Given that 70% of the 20:20 workforce have already left school, we need to convert people already in work to science and engineering skills.
"I hope Paul Drayson will grasp the seriousness of this and make it his priority."
Picking up this point, the new minister said: "Young people need to be inspired into opting for science and engineering careers.
"Look at me - I have had a blast. I am out here racing cars because I was a successful biotech entrepreneur. That depended on me studying for a PhD, and that depended on me studying maths, physics and chemistry at A-Level.
"I was also inspired by cool projects in the 60s and 70s like the space programme, and we now need to inspire the next generation with similar cool projects."
Lord Drayson said he wanted to see the immense purchasing power of government stimulate innovation among its suppliers. This idea that procurement should be used to favour the brightest ideas in industry was a key recommendation of Lord Sainsbury when he left government.
3.Arise, Lord Sleaze: Brown resurrects Peter Mandelson ... the disgraced Prince of Darkness
By Benedict Brogan and Michael Lea
Daily Mail, 4 October 2008 [shortened]
Gordon Brown hauled Labour back to its worst days of sleaze after he brought Peter Mandelson [a keen GM supporter] back for a jaw-dropping third job in the Cabinet.
The return of the double-disgraced 'Prince of Darkness' in a reshuffle to address the economic crisis stunned and horrified Westminster.
The Prime Minister's claim that the return of Mr Mandelson - who will take a peerage to serve as Business Secretary in the Lords - was 'in the national interest' was met with incredulity.
Asked at 10 Downing Street this morning what he felt Mr Mandelson would bring to his Government, Mr Brown said:
'I think the national interest comes before any party politics and any personality politics.'
It capped an extraordinary day in which Mr Brown appeared to have put his future in the hands of his biggest enemy in politics with a striking reordering of his team that marked a victory for Tony Blair and his allies.
The reshuffle also featured the return of another Government figure linked to sleaze in the past.
Lord Drayson, who returns as Science Minister from a year off racing motor cars, ran into controversy in 2002 after his Powderject company was granted a GBP32million contract to provide flu vaccines just months after he made a GBP50,000 donation to Labour.
And the appointment of new City Minister Paul Myners raised eyebrows. He is a director of GLG, one of the biggest hedge funds in the world, which has the largest short position in Bradford&Bingley, having sold short tens of millions of shares in the troubled bank.