*SAT JULY 14TH: THE GM-FREE WALES RALLY - details at end*
BANGKOK CONFERENCE -
1. Business as usual blands out in Bangkok -- NGIN
2. BANGKOK CONFERENCE ON BIOTECH CALLS FOR GREATER TRANSPARENCY ON GMOS -- OECD
3. Scientists told share findings: Academics 'should disclose funding' -- Bangkok Post
4. THE KIND OF HEAD THAT PUBLICLY FUNDED BIO-SCIENCE HAS: biography of Dr Peter Doyle -- Red Star Research
1. Business as usual blands out in Bangkok
It seems to have been business as usual in Bangkok this week for the Earl of Selborne, the OECD conference chair who for years has been involved in greenwashing the products of the agrochemical industry. We're told:
"Governments should retain an acceptable balance between public and private research funding for biosafety application."
So when is corporate research funding appropriate for "biosafety application"? Still more critically, how are the public to have confidence in "independent" "public" science when public science has itself been so systematically industrially aligned?
After all, what does "independent" "public" science really mean in Lord Selborne's UK - the prime mover behind this week's OECD conference?
*the strategic direction of the public funding of the biosciences being determined by corporate figures and corporate interests
[and see below item 4]
*The Royal Society, of which Lord Selborne is a leading Fellow, co-ordinating the cheer leading for the biotech industry
*bare faced lies and propaganda in the media, at public meetings, and to our children
*biotech enthusiast and entrepreneur David Sainsbury sitting in the Dept of Trade and Industry as UK Science Minister
That's what public science in the UK currently represents.
In other words, if some of the funding of bio-safety research came exclusively through our industrially aligned public funding body what evidence is there that it would make one iota of difference? Wouldn't it be just business as usual?
As one UK bio-scientist commented this week in relation to the call by Craig Ventner, the President of Celera Genomics Corporation, for a ban on genetic discrimination: "Venter is making much more sense than our publicly funded scientists. I am truly ashamed for my colleagues in universities and other public institutions."
2. BANGKOK CONFERENCE ON BIOTECHNOLOGY CALLS FOR GREATER TRANSPARENCY ON GMOS
July 12, 2001
OECD - News release
NEW BIOTECHNOLOGY FOOD AND CROPS: SCIENCE, SAFETY AND SOCIETY Bangkok, 10 July - 12 July 2001
Bangkok Conference on Biotechnology Calls for Greater Transparency on GMOs
A three-day international conference in Bangkok on "New Biotechnology Food and Crops: Science, Safety and Society" concluded with recommendations that all stakeholders commit to greater transparency on genetically modified organisms and that governments increase their support for independent and publicly funded scientific research into the risks and benefits of GM foods and crops.
"Independent scientific investigations could contribute to greater understanding of the risks, by developing improved methodologies, techniques and protocols for measuring the constituents and the behaviour of GM food and crops," a draft summary of the proceedings stated. "This would also lead to increased credibility of regulatory processes."
The conference, organised by the United Kingdom and the OECD in co-operation with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Environment Program, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Government of Thailand, brought together more than 300 participants from over 50 countries in five continents, including scientists, government officials and representatives of industry, agriculture and civil society and the media.
Discussions covered topics ranging from the role of stakeholders, including consumer and environmental groups, in national and international decision-making, to the need for assistance for all countries in building relevant research, production and regulatory capacity in this area. A final summary will be published on the conference website (www.oecd.org/bangkok/) following a further round of comments from participants over the next few days.
OECD Deputy Secretary-General Herwig Schlsgl noted that the conference had enabled participants to find common ground in some areas despite a continuing broad divergence of views on many issues. The fact that differences remain "is quite understandable," he added. "We are dealing with issues which will determine our future: the future of human beings and the future of our environment."
Summing up, the Earl of Selborne, the conference chair and Chairman of the U.K. Chemicals Stakeholder Forum, emphasised the need for greater transparency on the part of all participants in the interests of a constructive dialogue on the risks and benefits of new biotechnology.
In particular, he stressed the importance of high quality, accessible and relevant science in support of risk assessment, and the desirability of increased involvement by governments in this area. "Several speakers have drawn attention to the decline in publicly funded research, and the increasing dependence that society has on research data that might not be considered impartial," he noted. "Publicly funded research provides greater confidence and might be easier to channel into regions for which no financial return on the research investment can be expected."
Lord Selborne closed the conference with six recommendations for promoting increased transparency and improved stakeholder confidence. Specifically, he suggested that:
Governments and industry should in future prepare dossiers not just for satisfying the regulatory process but also to meet in part their duty of accountability to society.
Intergovernmental organisations and national bodies concerned with new biotechnology should make a commitment to attend appropriate stakeholder fora.
Organisations should review their own approaches to transparency as well as the approaches of other organisations with which they relate.
Research should be done to elaborate methods to monitor GMOs in the environment and intergovernmental organisations should be proactive in harmonising guidelines in this field.
An accelerated, internationally coordinated programme of capacity-building activities should be initiated.
Governments should retain an acceptable balance between public and private research funding for biosafety application.
The conclusions of the conference will be presented to the G-8 Summit of Heads of State and Government in Genoa later this month. They will also support other discussions, notably at the OECD, FAO, WHO, UNEP and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. For more information, visit the conference website at www.oecd.org/bangkok/
3. GMO CONFERENCE: Scientists told to share findings
Academics 'should disclose funding'
Scientists at the international conference on biotechnology yesterday called on colleagues to be more open with the public about information on genetically modified organisms as well as their funding sources.
"Currently, most university scientists receive funds from the biotechnology industry to carry out their research. That's why the public do not trust them and their information on GM crops and products," said a delegate from Britain.
The three-day conference was held by Britain and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development at the United Nations building.
Most of the 200 participants from around the world were scientists specialising in genetic engineering technology. Some work for NGOs. Debate yesterday focused on biotechnology information. Many scientists urged their colleagues, who worked for biotechnology companies, to provide well-rounded information on GM products and to share information with other scientists.
"The risk assessment information that scientists provide to the companies on GM products should be available to the public," said Walter van Hattum, a European Commission expert.
Michael Hansen, of the Consumers Union of the United States, agreed.
"Scientists must tell the public everything about GM technology, including any uncertainty, what they know and what they don't know," he said.
Jan Van Aken, a biologist from Greenpeace International, said biotechnology companies should do more to publicise scientific information on the technology and give consumers access to the information.
He said information on GMOs should no longer be stamped as "confidential data". Chebet Maikut, of the Uganda national farmers association, said biotechnology knowledge should be publicly and freely available.
He said farmers were afraid that transgenic crops and other GMOs were unsafe and might contain dangerous chemicals. They were also suspicious that multinational corporations such as Monsanto and Cargill would use developing countries as a dumping ground for GMO products. "There is also a fear of large biotechnology companies undertaking research alone and claiming all the patents. Global seed and agro-chemical business could be consolidated into a few monopolies," he said.
4. THE KIND OF HEAD THAT PUBLICLY FUNDED BIO-SCIENCE IN THE UK HAS: a biography of Dr Peter Doyle
The following biography of the Chairman of the UK's public funding body for the bio-sciences: The Biotechnology and Biological Research Council (BBSRC), comes courtesy of Red Star Reseach: http://www.red-star-research.org.uk/subframe3.html
Dr Peter Doyle is the former Executive Director of the Zeneca Group plc. He was paid $740,000 in 1998 ($593,000 in 1997). He is also a Non-Executive Director of the Oxford Molecular Group (with Tony Marchington). Zeneca, a GM food business, featured twice on Friends of the Earth's '50 Filthiest Factories' list for 1996. Its plant in Thornton Clevelys spewed out 39 tonnes of cancerous chemicals into its surrounding area, according to Environment Agency figures.
Their plant in Huddersfield was even worse, producing 276 tonnes of carcinogenic pollution. In 1998 the Huddersfield plant released 26,883 tonnes of toxic waste to landfills and incinerators. Peter Doyle is a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.
The Zeneca Science Teaching Trust is a £20 million programme for 'training teachers and improving classroom resources'. In 1996 Zeneca introduced the first GM food into supermarkets, with its tomato paste made from GM 'Flavr Savr' tomatoes. In 1999 Zeneca merged with Swedish pharmaceutical company Astra, to form AstraZeneca, in a £53 billion deal. It is the biggest agrochemical company in the UK. They have patents on seeds which use a 'Verminator' gene (using Brown Rat DNA) which switches off plant growth unless sprayed with chemicals supplied by AstraZeneca. They are also pushing hard to be allowed to introduce GM bananas and rice. The Chief Executive of AstraZeneca is Sir David Barnes. Peter Doyle left Zeneca at the time of the merger with a $602,000 pay off to add to his $158,000 salary and $223,000 bonus for 1999 (plus $434,000 pension per year).
On leaving AstraZeneca Peter Doyle joined the board of Oxagen Ltd, a genomics company (research into human genetics, including genetic analysis, gene discovery and targeting individuals with 'the appropriate genetic makeup' for their drugs). Their aim is to develop genetic techniques they can sell on to major pharmaceutical companies. Their work on Cardiovascular programmes is being done in partnership with AstraZeneca. Christine Soden is the Chief Financial Officer of Oxagen.
Dr Peter Doyle is Chairman of the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council (BBSRC), part of Lord Sainsbury's Government department. Zeneca have invested £50 million in the John Innes Centre in Norwich, which is funded by the BBSRC and Lord Sainsbury through his Gatsby Charitable Foundation. He also sits on the Government's Competitiveness Working Party on Encouraging Innovation and the North West Regional Competitiveness Working Party (alongside Sir David Barnes).
Until 1993 he worked at ICI, as Group Research and Technology Director, then Deputy Chairman and Technical Director of ICI Pharmaceuticals (alongside David White, then General Manger of ICI Pharmaceuticals, who is also on the board of Oxagen) and finally as Executive Director of ICI.
SAT JULY 14TH: THE GM-FREE WALES RALLY
Farm Scale Trials in Wales.....
The Welsh assembly has declared Wales a 'GE-Free Zone'
The Welsh farmers union almost unanimously oppose GM-crops
People of Wales, England, Europe and the rest of the world again and again have demonstrated their disgust at Genetically Modified food. Against this unwelcome picture Aventis have yet again planted a farm-scale trail of liberty-link T25 maize at Sealand in Flintshire. After farmers in Pembrokeshire pulled out of their planned site, this is the sole Genetically Modified crop in Wales.
The local people of Flintshire are again planning to demonstrate their opposition to the crop. They are a small group and need your support
SAT JULY 14TH: THE GM-FREE WALES RALLY
The day starts (bright and early) with :
SEMINAR AND QUESTION-TIME
with EXPERT SPEAKERS from Britain and Europe
CONNAHS QUAY Civic Hall, off Wepre Drive, Connah's Quay Shotton Station
10.30 - 11.00 am
And followed by :
A CITIZENS INSPECTION OF THE SITE
bring music, banners, fancy dress, your friends, family and affinity groups.
2.30pm ish, SJ 697 862