Lobby group claims current CSA Anne Glover is model of transparency – while Glover herself insists her role must remain "not transparent"
The pro-GMO lobby group Sense About Science claimed on a BBC radio programme that the EU chief scientific advisor Anne Glover was a model of transparency – a claim directly contradicted by Glover herself, who told the press that her role must remain "not transparent".
The story began with an open letter to the incoming Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, asking for the post of chief scientific advisor (CSA) to be abolished. The letter was signed by NGOs, including Greenpeace and GMWatch.
The NGOs who asked for the position of chief scientific advisor to the President of the European Commission to be abolished did so largely on the grounds that the advice that the CSA gives is secret and not transparent.
Sense About Science sprang to the defence of the position in general and Glover in particular. On 26 July on the BBC's Today programme, Sile Lane of Sense About Science claimed Glover was a model of transparency. Lane said:
"The process of forming and shaping policy has to be open and transparent and accountable, of course it does. Professor Glover has always been a really open and public figure since she's taken up her post. She's gone anywhere and everywhere to talk about how she works, and what her plans are for the role. She's gone to NGO meetings, to see research organisations, policy meetings, parliamentary meetings, here [in the UK] as well, with the chief scientific advisors here, and she's said again and again that she wants the entire process of gathering evidence and shaping policy to be completely transparent."
- Today Programme, BBC Radio 4, Sat 26 July 2014
Dr Doug Parr, replying for Greenpeace, one of the signatories of the original NGO letter asking for the CSA post to be abolished, pointed out on the programme that whatever Glover might say, her advice to the Commission President has not been transparent.
And subsequently, in an article for Euractiv aptly entitled "Glover: EU chief scientist should stay in the shadows", Glover said that her opinions to the European Commission should remain independent from politics and therefore “not transparent” and immune from public scrutiny.
Asked by EurActiv to reveal the areas on which former Commission President Barroso had sought advice during her two-year mandate, she refused to answer in detail, arguing that the process was meant to be occluded.
Glover said: “Why is it not transparent? Because if it is transparent, then everybody will try to defend their position. And I’m not interested in that, I’m interested in getting the best evidence possible.”
The understanding between her and Barroso always was to maintain confidentiality, she continued, “so I’m not going to tell you”.
We await Sense About Science's apology for misleading the public in claiming that Glover is transparent in her role.