2.Comment from GM-free Ireland
NOTE: Item 1 provides a shorter account than the one we posted yesterday of Klaus Ammann's scandalous behaviour at the ABIC conference in Ireland.
GM-free Ireland's comment is on the controversy surrounding the conference itself (item 2) - an event, incidentally, at which the notorious Canadian government bureaucrat Shane Morris of "wormy corn" fame was very much in evidence.
More on Ammann here:
1.GENÃ˜K DEFENDS ITS SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY FROM FALSEHOODS OF SWISS SCIENTIST, DEMANDS PUBLIC APOLOGY AND RETRACTION
TROMSÃ˜, NORWAY, November 12 2008
Klaus Ammann, retired from the University of Berne, Switzerland, and current guest Professor at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, gave a presentation entitled "Do GM crops pose risks to the environment?" at the Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference (ABIC) in Cork, Ireland during August 24-27, 2008. There he made several public accusations of scientific fraud and misconduct against GenÃ˜k Centre for Biosafety (www.genok.org). GenÃ˜k is a government-mandated research centre that studies the potential risks of genetically modified foods and vaccines for human health, the environment and food safety.
Any public accusation of scientific misconduct against a scientist or research institute is a serious and grave charge. It is not an accusation that one should take lightly, we therefore find it necessary to responded to directly and publicly to these unjust attacks. We wholly reject his accusations as unfounded and without merit.
A detailed response to Klaus Ammann’s charges, and the actual facts of this case are documented in full on our website at http://english.genok.org/news_cms/2008/november/gen_k_defends_its_scientific_integrity_from_falsehoods_of_swiss_scientist._demands_public_apology_and_retraction./66
In our humble opinion, anyone interested in fairness and accuracy would apply at least basic standards of information gathering from first hand sources before making such serious accusations. Klaus Ammann has made no attempt to obtain such direct evidence from anyone at our institute. Regrettably, this unfortunate situation of unfounded allegations could have been avoided, and Klaus Ammann’s confusion resolved, if basic scientific standards of evidence verification, fitting of any responsible scientist, had been exercised.
Klaus Ammann is a well-known advocate of the biotechnology industry (see e.g. http://www.monsanto.com/biotech-gmo/asp/experts.asp?id=KlausAmmann). Since we became aware of Klaus Ammann’s accusations against us, we have subsequently learned that he has engaged in similar irresponsible behavior directed at other individuals and organizations that do not share his political or scientific views.
While it is unusual for GenÃ˜k to address groundless claims made by individuals, on this occasion Klaus Amman has crossed a line by directly slandering and defaming GenÃ˜k as an institution at a public international conference.
In our view such behavior, as exhibited by Klaus Ammann in this case, is irresponsible at best, and perhaps illegal at worst. Such unwarranted accusations undermine efforts of the whole scientific community to focus on important, conscientious and constructive scientific discourse on the responsible use of biotechnologies in medical and agricultural applications.
Given the grave nature of these false accusations against our integrity and name, we are forced to make two public demands:
1. We at GenÃ˜k demand a public apology and retraction for his unsubstantiated claims
2. We demand that Klaus Ammann's supporting institutions (University of Bern and University of Delft) make clear whether his behavior is in accordance with the scientific as well as ethical standards that professional institutions should uphold.
2.Comment from GM-free Ireland
The ABIC 2008 conference held at University College Cork was widely denounced as a gross abuse of Irish tax-payer's money for GM industry propaganda masquerading as science. The Chairman of the Geen Party, Senator Dan Boyle, described the event as "far from... intellectually honest" while Senator Deirdre de Burca slammed it as "a propoganda exercise for the biotech multi-nationals". For details see:
*"Irish Government slammed for GM food conference" GM-free Ireland press release, 24 August 2008:
*related media coverage in August 2008: http://www.gmfreeireland.org/news/2008/aug.php.
*related media coverage in September 2008: http://www.gmfreeireland.org/news/2008/sept.php.
The controversy centered on the following issues:
*The conference claimed to provide a "balanced and scientific" discussion of GM issues, even though its agenda failed to address the agronomic, ecological, health, economic, legal, political, and food security dangers of GM food and farming.
*It was organised by a Canadian foundation with funding from the Canadian Government, industry lobby groups, corporate agri-biotech giants Monsanto, BASF, Bayer CropScience, and BP Bio fuels, and the Gowlings law firm (which aided Monsanto's notorious GMO patent infringement lawsuit against the Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, who lost ownership of his seeds and crops after being contaminated by Monsanto's patented GM seeds.
*Seven Irish Government and semi-state bodies abused Irish tax-payer funds to co-sponsor the event: Teagasc (the Agriculture and Food Authority), Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, the Marine Institute (Foras na Mara), the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, and Sustainable Energy Ireland. Senator Dan Boyle declared that this state agency funding of "an event that is unbalanced is wrong. The Programme for Government states quite emphatically that an all-island GM free zone is to be negotiated. This should inform the thinking of State agencies."
*After all the negative media coverage and protests, University College Cork retroactively modified its website in a desperate attempt at damage control. Following the sentence "The ABIC programme is highlighting biotechnology advances across the agriculture, food, plant, animal, marine and pharma sectors", they added (with emphasis in bold typface) "The conference covers both GM and non-GM agricultural biotechnologies." This was patently misleading.
*The conference organisers also falsely pretended to have invited participation from both sides of the GM debate. Shane Morris - a UCC "science communication" student employed by the Canadian government to harass the GM-free Ireland campaign (see http://www.gmfreeireland.org/morris ) tried to get Trinity College Dublin's Science Gallery to host a last-minute "public debate" at the close of the ABIC conference in UCC. The theme ("Future Food: Organic, Biotech or Both") was logically absurd, and the set-up a joke: a single spokesperson from the GM-free side would have been given 3 minutes to speak against a line-up of conference speakers from the pro-GM side! After Morris failed to get anyone from the GM-free side to take part, he falsely claimed (in a letter published in the Irish Examiner on 29 August), that "anti-GM speakers pulled out of a public debate planned in UCC". In reality no anti-GM speaker was invited to the ABIC conference itself.
*Shortly after the ABIC conference, the Irish Government Department of Foreign Affairs abused state funds allocated for development aid to finance a group of UCC scientists to carry out research and development on GM crops with the USAID-backed International Institute of Tropical Agriculture which promotes GM crops in Africa!
Following the ABIC scandal, the GM-free Ireland Network requested the Government to provide equal funding for a balanced debate on GM food and farming issues. 10 weeks later, the Government has failed to reply.