Comments on "Guide criticised for not declaring GM interests"
[Readers' comments on Charity guide criticised for not declaring GM interests
*Sense About Science pamphlet failed to list contributors' links with industry*
by Zoe Corbyn
Times Higher Education, 19 February 2009]
Jonathon Harrington 19 February, 2009
I should start by declaring that I too was consulted and contributed in a very small way to the SAS publication.
I have also 'confessed' to growing two varieties of maize which were bred to be resistant to the European Corn Borer using genetic modification.
I am also a member of The CropGen Panel but this group does NOT ( as far as I aware) receive any funding from the biotech industry and we give our time and expertise free of charge in the interests of providing information on this contentious issue to the wider public...
Anthony Trewavas FRS 21 February, 2009
Corbyn's article was a disreputable use of space by a journal that claims to be about education.
Years back I was told no doubt by the same individual who now turns up in Genewatch that i was funded by industry. When I asked the basis of this I was told that I had attended a general biology meeting at the University of York away from my University of Edinburgh to which industry had donated £100.
When Antinou and Genewatch and other similar unqualifed and uninformed groups are reduced to slur and innuendo it merely indicates to the public at large a total paucity of thought, argument and sense.
I presume on the basis of Corbyn's silly article that if I suggest to my wife she should take an aspirin for a headache I become an advocate for the drug industry and thus my recommendation is entirely suspect.
How many members of Genewatch are employed by industry of various kinds? No doubt Mr Antinou recieves government money most of which of course comes from industry.
Yes some industry can be corrupt because of excessive desires for profit and wealth but the other side that of Genewatch and others can be ideologically corrupt and this article is perhaps a good example of it.
Sam Mason 21 February, 2009
Jonathon Harrington says he is part of CropGen and that it does not, as far as he's aware, receive any industry funding. This is from CropGen's home page: "CropGen receives limited support from the biotechnology industry..."
It continues "but acts entirely independently." However, the 2001 version of its website stated that "while ultimately funded by industry, CropGen's panel members are free to express such views as they consider appropriate. The funding companies cannot veto the panel's position on any issue." That's good to know.
There is no indication that it is now funded by anyone other than the biotech industry, and other members of the CropGen panel have in the past admitted being paid an "honorarium" for their services by the industry.
The domain name for the group's website was registered by the PR company Countrywide Porter Novelli. The behind the scenes running of CropGen is now undertaken by Lexington Communications who perform the same task for the biotech industry's official lobby group the Agricultural Biotechnology Council.
Curious that Mr Harrington knows so little about who he's working for.
Peter Brown 23 February, 2009
Sense About Science gets off lightly in the article. It is referred to simply as a "charity". A quick glance at the last accounts it lodged with the charity commissioners shows all the substantial sums from named donors come from life science, pharma, big oil and mobile phone companies, ie pretty much the industries whose interests it defends against their critics.
As for Prof Trewavas's comments about people being "ideologically corrupt" - has he looked into the backgrounds of the director and managing director of Sense About Science? As mentioned by others, they're part of the LM group which promotes climate change scepticism, euologises GMOs, human cloning, nuclear power and the like, while vilifying their critics as Nazis. George Monbiot's article 'Invasion of the Entryists' is a good starting point for anyone wanting to understand what they're about.
It is no coincidence that the one time that SAS, which claims to be all about defending science, did anything on climate change, it lead to headlines about the danger of exaggerating the problems! Its chair Lord Taverne has also commended the report on climate change by the House of Lords - the one authored by people like Nigel Lawson to promote a sceptical viewpoint.
Joop bakker 23 February, 2009
Jonathon Harrington - again you expose yourself as a fake and a fibber (to put it politely). You are well aware that CropGen is funded by the biotech industries. In fact, according to the companies involved it is owned by them (specifically, by ABC- a consortium of biotech players)...
Dave Wood 24 February, 2009
Pierre ask that factual information about commercial interests be made plain. I agree.
Consider GM cotton in India. This has been a great success: the US has been pushed from second place in global cotton production by India. But cotton is a heavily traded product globally. As Indian production goes up steeply, global prices are held back and countries growing cotton for export suffer financial damage. Thus there is a major - but never declared - financial interest to attack Monsanto (who are promoting Indian cotton production at huge cost to the US).
Yet NGOs in India attacking Monsanto never reveal that they receive funds from various sources in the US. And remember that both Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth started life as North American NGOs. If they can stop us growing GM crops by intense and expensive lobbying, then we in Europe will have to import more from the US.
The current Greenpeace attacks on GM soy in South America are transnational Luddism: an attempt to wreck farming in another country to the benefit of the US farmers. This commercial interest in attacking GM crops production - of far greater value than seed sales - should be declared but never is.
Pierre 24 February, 2009
There is widespread opposition to GM cotton in India that goes well beyond Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth (the latter don't even seem to operate in India)
Read, for instance, the reports of the award winning development journalist P Sainath about the impact of Monsanto hyping GM cotton to poor debt-ridden dryland farmers in cotton growing states like Maharashtra.
And the idea that this is all part of some economic masterplan hatched in the West is fanciful, to say the least, as is the claim that concerns about the very real environmental and social problems being wreaked by GM soy in South America are really an attempt to boost US farming interests!
The funding of Prof Moses' lobby group by the biotech industry, by contrast, is not part of some mythical conspiracy theory but a simple matter of fact.
Peter 24 February, 2009
Prof Trewavas says critics of SAS's failure to disclose conflicts of interest have been reduced to "slur and innuendo".
Is this the same Prof Trewavas who has described Greenpeace as "controlled by extremists/nihilists and other subversives... whose only interest is in destroying business/damaging trade and who have no solution to world population problems except to let people die"?
He's also described critics of GM as "bloody minded, anarchist and frankly merely destructive", and advised pro-GM scientists to alert the likes of racist US congressman Jesse Helms, "that a subversive organisation directed from europe is attempting to destroy US agriculture and US farming."
Now who was it who said resorting to slurs indicates "a total paucity of thought, argument and sense"?