Protesters respond to Rothamsted and others
2.Tracey Brown – a profile
3.Maurice Moloney – a profile
NOTE: The lobby group Sense About Science appears to be very active in the publicity drive surrounding this and is running a petition in support of Rothamsted's GM trial.
Item 2 is a profile of the director of Sense About Science, showing her previous incarnations in PR and as an apologist for Big Tobacco and her long term involvement in the anti-environmentalist LM network. Item 3 is a profile of the director of Rothamsted – GM scientist, Maurice Moloney.
1.GM Crops Experiment At Rothamsted Is An 'Act Of Terrorism' Protest Group Says
The Huffington Post UK, 2 May 2012
The anti-GM activists who are threatening to destroy experiments on genetically modified crops have said they feel they have "no choice" and allowing the crop to continue would be an "act of terrorism."
In response to a plea from John Pickett, a chemical ecologist leading pioneering research at Rothamsted in Hertfordshire, Matt Thomson, a spokesperson for the group Take the Flour Back, said the scientists were being "rather melodramatic."
Pickett, in an open letter published on Wednesday, said the activists risked destroying their lives' work and ruining a project that could protect the environment.
But the protesters argue that similar experiments in Canada have leaked into the food-chain, costing farmers millions in lost exports.
"I am completely opposed to the crops being given open-air release. We've asked Rothamsted to remove it, we took a challenge to Defra last month, if you don't then we will. We don't want to be criminalised, but we don't feel we've got any choice," he told The Huffington Post UK.
"If we were to allow it [the crop] to flower we would be risking much more than any of the work that's been done on GM, we would be risking generations of research.
"I think it's a case of there needs to be a full and frank debate on the science. GM is something which has been rejected time and time again by consumers, time and time again by farmers. There's no market for this stuff. Why is it being pushed on us again?
"Why is it risking the most important crop we have in the UK. That to me is an act of terrorism. It's completely irresponsible. I would hesitate to use the word terrorist because I think it's overused but I think they are acting irresponsibility."
The scientists at Rothamsted Research are conducting an experiment to create wheat that can more easily repel aphid attacks. But protesters, who are worried GM crops could carry viruses and be antibiotic resistant, say they are risking contaminating wheat and "robbing UK farmers of their livelihoods."
But Pickett, in an open letter to the group, claimed: "We can only appeal to your consciences, and ask you to reconsider before it is too late, and before years of work to which we have devoted our lives are destroyed forever,” he said.
But on Wednesday morning organic farmer Gerald Miles, who plans to join the protests, said the experiment would "ruin the market for wheat exports in the UK."
He denied it was an exaggerated claim, telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "They can't give us a written guarantee that this won't happen because there's proof of it happening all over the world."
Thomson said the group was not seeking to "cause terror."
"We are being very public and accountable in everything that we do," he said. "This is a publicly funded experiment and the scientists will still be paid at the end of this, you can't say the same with UK farmers. People have lost thousands of pounds, what you are talking about is potentially robbing UK farmers of their livelihoods which I think is absolutely deplorable."
2.Tracey Brown – a profile
Tracey Brown has been the director of the pro-GM lobby group Sense about Science since shortly after it was founded in 2002. She is an associate of the libertarian and anti-environmental LM network and her writing has been published by Living Marxism, Spiked and the Institute of Ideas. Prior to joining Sense About Science, she studied at Kent University under Frank Furedi the former leader of the RCP, worked for the LM network project Global Futures and worked in risk management for the PR firm Regester Larkin. Brown is a trustee of Centre of the Cell and MATTER. In 2009 she became a commissioner for the UK Drugs Policy Commission. She sits on the Outreach Committee of the Royal College of Pathologists and in 2009 was made a Friend of the College. She is married to LM Network associate Adam Burgess.
At Kent 1995/6
Prior to working in PR, Brown worked as a Research Associate in the Sociology Department at the University of Kent, Canterbury, in 1995/6 where Frank Furedi is a professor. Furedi is the leading influence in the libertarian LM group. Brown went on to co-author 'Complaining Britain,' Society Vol.36 No.4 with Furedi. Her biographical note states that while at the University of Kent she "was responsible for a European Commission project to set up social research centres in Russia. Her own research specialism is the sociology of law."
Global Futures 1998-2002
Brown's contact details at Sense about Science were given in October 2002 as: Email tbrown AT senseaboutscience.org, Telephone 01795 537322. The phone number was also that of the now inactive Global Futures, "a charitable foundation sponsoring research and publications on new social trends". The only publication on the charity's web-site was one by Frank Furedi. (Furedi under the alias Frank Richards, was the chief theoretician of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) – a faction that evolved into the publishers of the magazine Living Marxism (later LM).) Brown worked with Furedi for a number of years and with Global Futures between its inception in 1995 and the creation of Sense About Science in 2002.
According to the Charity Commission, the administrative contact for Global Futures was Ellen Raphael who, at the time Sense about Science was established, also worked for Regester Larkin alongside former Monsanto PR man Harry Swan. (Raphael also studied in Frank Furedi's department at the University of Kent, Canterbury.) Raphael has subsequently joined Brown at Sense about Science as Assistant Director. One of Global Futures' two trustees was Phil Mullan (aka Phil Murphy). Mullan, a central member of the RCP and a regular contributor to LM, is also the registrant of the Spiked website which was set up in 2000 by LM's ex-editor Mick Hume. Global Futures' other trustees included Michael Fitzpatrick (aka Mike Freeman), another RCP/LM stalwart. Fitzpatrick is also a trustee of Sense about Science.
Tracey Brown and Frank Furedi have worked with both LM and Spiked and have also both worked with the Institute of Ideas, which has published a book co-authored by Brown: Compensation Crazy. The Insitute of Ideas was established by Claire Fox, LM's co-publisher. Like Spiked it arose from the ashes of LM.
Advising Big Tobacco
An internal memo of 1998 in the Tobacco Documents Library (http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/) from Stephen Walzer of BAT Industries (British American Tobacco) discussed a letter that BAT received from Brown in her role at Global Futures, offering to help BAT in fighting the litigation launched against tobacco companies by people harmed by smoking. Walzer describes Brown as "a lecturer at the University of Kent who also works for Global Futures". Walzer wrote that Brown was offering to put together a work programme covering the sociology of litigation and 'the expansion of tortious duties'. By this she means the trend which we all recognise from the United States for people to be unwilling to take the consequences of their own actions. There is considerable sympathy for the position of the tobacco companies, and I believe that a co-operation with Global Futures will be helpful.
Walzer explains that Brown was proposing a study into the decline under the defence under English law that the plaintiff consents to risk, and it is also the intention to expand the study in the context of European Directives and the European Court of Justice. There is already a study being completed in relation to the US...
Walzer added that "there is a cost attached to this work" and that "sponsorship would be welcome".
The letter from Brown making the proposal is also available in the Tobacco Documents Library.
In another letter retrieved from the Tobacco Documents Library written to an unknown recipient of 1999, Brown, again in her role at Global Futures, supplied her recipient (presumably someone in the tobacco industry) with press cuttings of the writings of Frank Furedi, Tony Eaton and Simon Wessely. Brown suggested that these would provide useful background material for a seminar called Litigating Britain. The aim of the seminar, Brown wrote, was "to allow a full and frank discussion about developments in compensation claiming, between people who have a professional interest in the issue."
It is possible to trace a direct line of thought between Brown's offer to Big Tobacco and Sense About Science's work promoting nuclear power and genetically modified crops, which, like tobacco, are risky products requiring careful management of information of perception before people will accept them. Brown's proposed strategy regarding tobacco can be defined as:
creating a climate of opinion that accepts risky technologies under the banner of personal freedom and responsibility; and in the process
creating a climate of opinion that it is an abnegation of personal responsibility for people to sue corporations by whose products they’ve been harmed.
Working in PR 2000-2002
Before becoming the director of Sense about Science, Brown was a senior analyst in the 'Risk Analysis Unit' of the PR company, Regester Larkin. 'Tracey is responsible for developing tailored forecasting and risk issue analysis for our clients,' her biographical note at the PR firm stated. Regester Larkin specialises in "reputation risk management" and "crisis management, including countering campaigns by environmental, health and development NGOs. Regester Larkin's clients are nearly all pharmaceutical, oil, or biotechnology companies, including BioIndustry Association, Shell Chemicals, TOTAL, Bayer, Pfizer, Aventis CropScience, and gas company BG Group.
Her Regester Larkin biograhical note did not mention her role at Global Futures or her contacts with the tobacco industry. It stated that 'she has published papers on the growing litigiousness of British society and the impact of changing attitudes to compensation, and contributed to a number of national debates throughout the implementation of the Woolf reforms in 1999.'
On her Sense About Science biographical note, Brown's stint with Regester Larkin is cryptically referred to as being "a year in a more commercial environment to set up a risk research unit." Press references suggest she was at Regester Larkin a little longer. She wrote an article in the Architects Journal in October 2000 in which she was described as a 'senior analyst at the Risk Analysis Unit, Regester Larkin'. In January 2002 it was reported that she was one of five being made redundant.
Backing GM 2002
In October 2002 Tracey Brown attended a meeting about the design of the UK government's official Public Debate on genetically modified (GM) crops and food. She was invited as part of a group of eight 'social scientists familiar with the GM debate and public engagement processes' who were brought together for advice. In fact, 'public engagement processes' are not part of Brown's area of specialism which is the sociology of law.
Brown appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today programme in December 2002 and said:
"Time and time again now we see a pull-back from a willingness to judge evidence, from a willingness to put forward policy based on evidence, and a desire to try to push the discussion in different directions but without ever taking responsibility for the consequences in terms of progress. There's a vacuum" (12 Dec, 2003).
In reality, there is a considerable body of evidence showing harm from GM foods, and it might be expected that Brown, if she did not know about it before, may have learned about it at the meeting on the Public Debate (see Genetically Modified (GM) Foods – Renewed Threat to Europe).
3.Maurice Moloney – a profile
Maurice Moloney is the Director and Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research, assuming the full duties of his post from 15 April 2010. He is the Chief Scientific Officer of SemBioSys Genetics Inc., a post that he will leave on March 25, 2010, remaining a consultant to SemBioSys. SemBioSys is a plant biotech company well known for its controversial work on pharma crops (eg producing insulin from safflower seeds). A GM pharma specialist, Moloney worked at SemBioSys on deriving a blood anti-coagulant, hirudin, from GM canola.
Previously, Moloney led the Cell Biology group at Calgene, acquired by Monsanto in 1997. At Calgene he developed the world's first transgenic oilseeds, which resulted in RoundUp Ready Canola and other novel crops. Moloney holds more than 300 patents.
He is a professor at the University of Calgary, where he holds the NSERC/DowElanco Chair in Plant Biotechnology.
The following is Moloney's biography from a SemBioSys Genetics Inc. document, "Company Overview", located on the Canadian government Foreign Affairs and International Trade website:
Dr. Moloney, our scientific founder, has over twenty years of extensive experience in plant biotechnology and has been our Chief Scientific Officer since July 2001. Dr. Moloney held the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Industrial Research Chair in Plant Biotechnology from 1995 2004. Dr. Moloney is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary where he has been teaching since 1990. Prior to these positions, Dr. Moloney was the head of the Cell Biology Group at Calgene Inc., where he developed the first transgenic oilseed plants using canola as the model crop. This resulted in a landmark patent in plant biotechnology and eventually became the basis of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready® and Liberty Link® canola products. Dr. Moloney has published more than seventy original research papers and is an inventor on eighteen issued or pending patent families. Dr. Moloney serves on many federal and
corporate advisory boards and is currently a member of NSERC Council and the Chairperson of NSERC’s Committee on Research Partnerships. Dr. Moloney has received a number of prestigious awards, including the Alberta Science and Technology (ASTECH) Award for leadership in Alberta Technology. Dr. Moloney received his B.Sc. in Organic Chemistry from Imperial College at the University of London and his doctorate in Plant Biochemistry from Leicester Polytechnic in the United Kingdom.
Comments on Moloney's appointment as Rothamsted head
The following is Pete Riley of GM Freeze's comment on Moloney's appointment as Rothamsted director and CEO:
The appointment of Professor Moloney to this important post suggests that the BBSRC [funder of Rothamsted] is pushing on with the strategy of putting GM and biotechnology at the forefront of agricultural research. This would be a mistake as GM technology is expensive, unproven and risky. Agroecology is already delivering results for small farmers in the South. What is needed is more research and, critically, improved education services so that new agroecological techniques can be quickly applied by farmers over large areas. Rothamsted Research should place greater emphasis on agroecological research and development. They are in a great position to do so. We will be monitoring their research priorities and those of other BBSRC funded institutions to makes sure that agroecology gets a fair share of tax payers money.
Prof Joe Cummins
Prof Joe Cummins, professor emeritus of genetics at the University of Western Ontario, commented on Moloney's history at SemBioSys and his appointment at Rothamsted:
Professor Maurice Moloney and his company SemBioSys have focused on producing pharmaceuticals in the oil crops canola (rapeseed) and safflower. In the early efforts a blood thinning peptide called hirudin was produced in canola and had open field tests in the canola growing area of the province Alberta. Hirudin is extremely toxic if consumed even in small quantities by human s or animals. Such open field tests should not have been allowed as the canola pollen is spread widely producing persistent drug pollution of the food and feed crop.
Currently safflower-grown human insulin has been open field tested in the state of Washington in a sagebrush wild area of the state which is the habitat for a number of threatened wild species that can be poisoned by ingesting insulin. It is safe to say that Maurice ... will likely spread the gospel of producing pharmaceuticals in food crops as it is done in Canada. In Canada and the United States open field tests of crop bio pharmaceuticals are undertaken with little or no respect for the environmental consequences of the open field releases. UK can now likely look forward to biopharmacueticals in their food, whether they like it or not!