Scientists Concerned For Academic Freedom
Open Letter to Premier of Western Australia

Now signed by more than 70


Dr. Judy Carman, senior scientist working in the field of epidemiology in Australia and awarded a government grant to study the safety of GM feed, has been subjected to a sustained campaign of vilification by individuals associated with the biotech industry, with the clear intention of preventing her from carrying out the research. Political pressure is now being brought to bear on her research by the current Agriculture and Food Minister of Western Australia.

Dr. Carman is not an isolated case. A long string of scientists beginning with Arpad Puszati, Susan Bardocz, Shiv Chopra, Ignacio Chapela, Irina Ermakova, and more has suffered the same attacks when their research or laboratory findings are deemed unfavourable to the biotech industry; they have also lost their grants or their jobs as a result.

It is important for scientists to make a stand for real science,and for the right of scientists to do research without being harassed and intimidated, or losing their grants or positions. The public will not be well-served unless this academic freedom to do research independent of industry or the whims of government is guaranteed.

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Please forward for more signatures

Comment from Dr. Shiv Chopra, Canada

The same or worse is happening all across the world. For instance, a workshop at which I and another scientist were invited last week to discuss the pros and cons of vaccines at the First Nations (Aboriginal) conference in Ottawa was abruptly cancelled, apparently under threat from Health Canada officials. The same is happening with regard to the new consumer protection bills, presently under consideration of the Canadian and US politicians. In June 2009,  I heard of much the same happening during my visit to Australia and New Zealand and, of course, even worse during my last several visits to India.

Comment from Dr. Mira Shiva, India

Thank you so much for sending this letter. Many of us feel extremely agitated about the harassment of independent researchers and scientists whose findings are not in the interest of corporations. We have seen it in the pharmaceutical industry, and witnessed it with regard to food and agriculture.

I am committed to our right to safety and right to information as much as I am disgusted at the misuse of power to block the conduction of pro- public health, public interest research by independents researchers and scientists

I am also deeply concerned about researchers totally changing their conclusions under inducement. For those who have stood up for their research and faced pressures, we offer our deep appreciation and respect, and assurance of our continued solidarity.

Comment from Dr. Allison Bleaney OBE

The integrity of science itself is in doubt if independent objective research cannot be assured.

This is a major issue and of concern to us all; the undermining of the researcher and their work along withthe deliberate policy of the ‘undone science’. Thank you for highlighting it publically.

From: Scientists concerned about academic freedom (see list of signatories below)


Honourable Colin Barnett MEc MLA
Government of Western Australia
24th Floor, Governor Stirling Tower,
197 St Georges Terrace
WA 6000

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The Hon Kevin Rudd MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House

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Hon Terrry Redman MLA
Minister, Dept of Agriculture and Food
Government of Western Australia
3 Baron-Hay Court
South Perth
WA 6151

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Professor Mike Daube
President, Public Health Association of Australia
Keep Australia Beautiful Building
Units 2 & 3, 20 Napier Close
Deakin ACT 2600

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Dr. Robert Williamson, AO, Ph.D, Hon MK (Turku), FAA, FRCPath, FRS
Australian Academy of Science
Ian Potter House
Gordon Street
Canberra 2601

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The Hon Tony B
Minster for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Parliament House
Canberra ACT2600

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Dear Mr. Barnett,

In 2005, the Government of Western Australia awarded a research grant worth $92,000 turke MP

oresearchers at theInstitute of Health and Environmental Research, nowbased in Adelaide, Southern Australia [1]. In announcing it, the then Agriculture Minister, Kim Chance, said that "the WA Government will fund an independent long-term animal feeding trial to gain data on the safety or otherwise of GM food crops".

Far from welcoming the study, the biotech industry sought to block it, initially by writing to the WA government in an effort to get the government to reverse its funding decision, then by either refusing to supply GM crops to the research team or placing such onerous conditions upon the supply of the GM crops that the researchers could not sign up to the conditions [2]. In addition, the lead scientist has been subjected to a sustained campaign of vilification and harassment by commercial interests connected with the biotech industry.

The present Minister of Agriculture, Terry Redman, is now interfering in the research by demanding details about the location of the study laboratories, its research protocols and its progress to date. It is hard to see any legitimate reason for this interference. Information about the procedures was available when the grant was proposed, and it is most unusual for a government or indeed anyone else to demand to see the results of work that is not yet completed. The Minister’s hostility to the line of research is well known from when he was in opposition; he is wrong to use his current position to obstruct science which was commissioned before he took office.

It is wrong, though perhaps not surprising, that the biotechnology industry should be seeking to obstruct research into the safety of what they produce [3], and promoting the vilification and harassment of any scientist conducting such research [4]. It is indefensible for a government to do the same. We call on the Government of Western Australia to stop this unprecedented interference with the research it has commissioned and to ensure that the project will proceed unhindered. We also call on the Government of Australia to require biotechnology companies to make available to independent researchers the material they need for their work.

The citizens of Australia, like those of other countries, will not be well served unless academic freedom is guaranteed for scientists to work independently of biotechnology companies or the whims of governments [5]. It is not possible to take proper decisions on GMOs if the only evidence on which to base those decisions comes from scientists who work for or are chosen by the biotechnology industry.


1. “Long term feeding trials funded by WA to run in SA” Wednesday, November 30, 2005’

Jenifer Eliot in The West Australian, November 28, 2005, reports that the study will be by South Australia's Institute of Health and Environmental Research (IHER),

2. Pro-GM scientists, some paid by biotech companies have been aiding and abetting in the harassment and vilification of independent scientists and researchers of IHER see Letter from 12 scientists to the Premier of Western Australia, The HonDr Geoff Gallop, BEc MA MPhil DPhil MLA 5  December 2005,; also Food Safety Western Australia Style: A Note from Ian Edwards,  25 June 2007,

"Call for inquiry into GM feed study funding", Colin Bettles, Farm Weekly, Australia, 12 Nov 2009,

3. The biotech companies are notorious for their attempt to block research deemed unfavourable to GMOs. The following statement was submitted in February 2009 to the US Environmental protection Agency (EPA) by scientists who had been invited to submit comments on a meeting to discuss two new BM crops. They were protesting the 'technology/stewardship agreements' they have to sign, which inhibit them from doing research for the public good. As a result "no truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions regarding the technology." We are not aware that any of the 26 is opposed in principle to GM crops.

See; also the article by Andrew Pollack, New York Times, 20 February 2009,

And "GM Research Blocking GMO Scandal: The Long Term Effects of Genetically Modified Food on Humans Scientific Tests Must Be Approved by Industry First", by F. William Engdahl, Global Research, July 29, 2009

"Do Seed Companies Control GM Crop Research? Scientists must ask corporations for permission before publishing independent research on genetically modified crops. That restriction must end" By The Editors, August 2009 Scientific American Magazine,

4. Harassment of independent researchers by pro-GM scientists is rife and takes place in the pages of 'learned' journals that  have become effectively trade magazines

What is Nature Biotechnology good for? The Bioscience Resource Project, 4 December 2007,

The Genetic Engineering of Food and the Failure of Science - Part 2: Academic Capitalism and the Loss of Scientific Integrity by Don Lotter Int. Jrnl. of Soc. of Agr. & Food, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 50-68,

Systematic bias in favour of no adverse impacts from GM feed, ISIS, 7 January 2008,

Marshall, A. (2007) Nature Biotechnology 25: pp 981-98;

Heinemann, JA and Traavik, T, letter, Nature Biotechnology 25 (12), p1356,;;;

Ironically the same learned journals are decrying the vilification of independent researchers by pro-GM scientists. See “GM crops: Battlefield” by Emily Waltz, Nature 2009, 461, 27-32,

5. On academic freedom, the Australian Academy of Science wrote as follows, in a submission to a Senate Committee Inquiry into academic freedom.

“1. Science makes the most significant advances in an atmosphere of free and critical   discussion. Therefore, academic freedom is of crucial importance, particularly in research at universities, institutes and CSIRO.

2. Governments and their representatives have a responsibility to set general research priorities on behalf of their citizens. However, it is inappropriate for governments and their representatives to interfere with scientific peer review processes or with details of academic debate. That is the role of the academic sector.

3. In very rare cases, it may be appropriate for government to implement ‘reserve powers’ to direct research. This may be the case with some research that has security implications. However, it is inappropriate for governments and their representatives to interfere in genuine academic debate and to intervene with the grant processes of the ARC, NHMRC or CSIRO." (Letter signed by Professor Philip W. Kuchel, FAA, Secretary, Science Policy)


Prof. E A Abergel
Department of International Studies
York University, Toronto

Prof. Miguel A Altieri
University of California, Berkeley

Dr Michael Antoniou
Head: Nuclear Biology Group
King’s College London School of Medicine

Dr. Alexander Baranoff
Institute of Developmental Biology
Russian Academy of Science
Moscow, Russia

Dr. Barbara Ann Barrett
Scientists for Global Responsibility

Dr. Henry A. Becker
Professor Emeritus
Queen’s University
Kingston, Canada

Michael Bending
Sydney, Australia

Claire Bleakley
Pigeon Bush
Featherston, New Zealand

Dr. Allison Bleaney OBE
Tasmanina, Australia

Adam Breasley
Graduate Student Human Rights
Australian Catholic University
North Sydney

Christopher Brewster
Operations and Information Management Group
Aston Business School, Aston University
Birmingham, UK

Steffan Browning
Soil & Health Association of New Zealand
Blenheim, New Zealand

Prof. Marcello Buiatti
Department of Evolutionary Biology
University of Florence

Dr. Shiv Chopra
Ex-Health Canada
Author of Corrupt to the Core, Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower

Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury
Gonoshasthaya Kendra
House 14E, Road 6
Dhanmandi R.A., Dhaka 1205

Prof. Bert Christie
Retired Agriculture and AGri-Food Canada
Prince Edward Island

Javier M Claparols
Ecological Society of the Philippines
Makati City, Philippines

Prof.  Ann Clark
Department of Plant Agriculture
University of Guelph

S. Loren Cole Ph.D.
Chairman & CEO
Inquiring Systems, Inc.

Stephanie Costa
Calgary, AB

Prof. Joe Cummins
Emeritus Prof. of Genetics
University of Western Ontario

Dr. Jose L. Domingo
Professor of Toxicology
Laboratory of Toxicology and Environmental Health
School of Medicine
“Rovira i Virgili” University
Catalonia, Spain

Dr. Elvira Dommisse
Former GM researcher
Now advocate of organics
Soil & Health National Council
New Zealand

Charles Drace
Member Canterbury Branch
Royal Society of New Zealand
New Zealand

Dr. Irina Ermakova
Russian Academy of Sciences institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology

Dr. Stanley WB Ewen
Consultant Pathologist
Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

Dr. Alan Fredeen
Nova Scotia

Prof. Adrian Gibbs FAA,
Yarralumla, Canberra,

Dr. Vernica Griffin M.Sc. Ph. D.

Odette Grille
Montreal, Quebec

Wil Heidt
Vice President
Soil Association of South Australia

Dr.  Jack A. Heinemann
Director INBI
Prof. School of Biological Sciences
University of Canterbury
New Zealand

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
Institute of Science in Society

Prof. Vyvyan Howard MB. ChB. PhD. FRCPath.
Biomedical Science Research Institute
Ulster University
Northern Ireland

Dr. Eva Jablonka
The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas
Tel Aviv University

Dr. Brian John
Retired Lecturer in Geography
University of Durham

Andrew Kimbrell
Executive Director
Center for Food Safety
Washington DC

David King MIET, FIENZ
Retired power engineer

Prof. Sheldon Krimsky
Department of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning
School of Arts & Sciences
Department of Public Health and Community Medicine
School of Medicine
Tufts University, MA

Dr. Marion Lamb
Formerly Senior Lecturer in Biology
Birbeck College
London, UK

Prof. Li Kang-min
Emeritus Professor
Asian Pacific Regional Research & Training Center
For Integrated Fish Farming FFRC
Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences

Glenda Lindsay
Community Food Systems network volunteer
Melbourne, Australia

Sky McCain
Wholesome Food Association Ltd,

Dennis McCalla
Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry
McMaster University
Hamilton, ON

Herminio Martins
Emeritus Fellow
St. Antony’s College
University of Oxford,

Prof. Joan Mencher
Emerita Professor of Anthropology
Lehman College of CUNY and CUNY Graduate Center
New York, USA

Dr. Eva Novotny
Retired, Formerly Research Associate in Astronomy
Cambridge University

Claire O’Connor
Managing Director, Manna Organic Store

Dr. Jose Ramon Olarieta
Lecturer in Soil Science
Universitat de Lleida

T & H Osburn
Redmond, WA

Prof. Dr. ER Oskov OBE FRSE
Director of International Feed Resource Unit
Macaulay Land Use Institute

Dr. David Packham
Materials Research Centre
University of Bath, UK

John Parfitt
Bristol UK

Dr. Michel Pimbert
Sustainable Agriculture, Biodiversity and Livelihoods Programme
IIED, London

Dr. Naheeda Portocarero
Animal nutritionist
Maesyronen Farmhouse

Prof. Leda Raptis
Dept of Microbiology and Immunology
Dept of Pathology.
Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario

Aruna Rodrigues
Sunray Harvesters, India

Hugh Rooney
Lecturer  in Reflexology
Edinburgh Napier University

Dr. Barry T Rubin
Davis Rubin Associates Ltd
Member of Scientists for Global Responsibility

Prof. Peter Saunders
Emeritus Prof. of Applied Mathematics
King’s College, London

Dr. David Schubert
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
La Jolla Ca

Prof. Gilles-Eric Séralini
President of Scientific Council of CRIIGEN
Risk Pole Co-Director CNRS-MRSH
University of Caen

Dr Mira Shiva M.D
Director Initiative for Health, Equity & Society ,
Chairperson Consumer Education safety of Food & Medicine
South Asian Focal Point
International Peoples Health Council
New Delhi

Dr. Vandana Shiva
Recipient of Right Livelihood Award
New Delhi

Gayle Boehm-Smith Psy. D.
Retired Pyschologist
WestCliffe, Co

Jaan Suurkula M.D.
Chairman of Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Applications of
  Science and Technology (PSRAST)

Dr. Maarten Stapper
BioLogic AgFood
Beconnen ACT

Dr. David Suzuki
Emeritus professor
Sustainable Development Research Institute
University of British Columbia

Dr. Roger Taylor
Retired Reader in Immunology
University of Bristol

Dr. Enric Tello
Professor of Economic History and Institutions
Head of the Dept. of Economic History and Institutions at the Universitat
de Barcelona

Dr. Terje Traavik
Scientific Director
GenØk-Centre for Biosafety

Dr David J. Tyler, MInstP, ACFI.
Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr. Peter Weish Univ. Doz
University of Natural Resources and
Applied Life Sciences,
Vienna, Austria

David Werner
Health Wrights
Palo Alto, California