*From the press release below:
Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson [has] been backed up diplomatically by the UK government, which has an appalling record in voting for GM authorizations and in disregarding consumer interests. But we cannot escape the conclusion that the consents have been cynically put in place at the insistence of the Americans.
*From John Le Carre interview, The Guardian, October 6, 2005:
"Mussolini's definition of fascism was that when you can't distinguish corporate power from governmental power, you are on the way to a fascist state. If you throw in God power and media power, that's where we are now." Is he saying Britain is a fascist state? "Does it strike you as democratic?"
*From interview with former Daily Mirror editor, Piers Morgan, Radio Times, October 8-14, 2005:
Radio Times: Who is really running the country, by the way?
Morgan: Rupert Murdoch runs the country. Tony Blair is his tool. The media can bring down the PM, but the PM can't bring down Rupert Murdoch.
Radio Times: Does that worry you?
Morgan: No. I feel much happier with Rupert Murdoch in charge.
MANDELSON ACCUSED OF "TAKING ORDERS FROM AMERICANS" ON GMO APPROVALS
GM Free Cymru Press Release 6.10.2005
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has been accused of "taking orders from the Americans" in pushing through two approvals for the import of GM products in the face of massive opposition from European consumers (1).
The accusation has come from GM Free Cymru, a GM watchdog group based in Wales which has been trying for the last few years to uncover the truth about the workings of the GM authorisation process within Europe. It has had to resort to the use of Freedom of Information legislation in order to obtain the release of key GMO information into the public domain, and played a key role in forcing the publication of the full 90-day rat feeding study on MON863, which Monsanto sought to keep away from full scientific scrutiny(2).
The two authorizations issued by the Commission in August(3,4) caused great anger among consumer groups and NGOs all over Europe, since they followed a long period of disagreement among the representatives of the EU countries. Neither the EU Regulatory Committee nor the Environment Council could agree on the authorizations for GM oilseed rape GT73 (December 2004) or GM maize MON863 (June 2005), and when votes were cast only 6 countries voted for approval of GT73 (as against 13 who voted against) and only 7 voted for approval of MON863 (as against 14 who voted against).
"Those were not exactly ringing endorsements for either of those GM varieties," says Dr Brian John, spokesman for GM Free Cymru. "There are huge concerns about both of them in the independent scientific community. Furthermore, there are currently no laws in place relating to coexistence or liability for losses arising out of GM crop plantings or GM food consumption. The EU rules which allow the Commission effectively to over-rule a majority of EU nations, and to disregard both science and the wishes of EU consumers, are patently absurd, and they must be changed. Why has the Commission acted in this provocative and illegal way? According to the key legislation (Directive 2001/18/EC) there is considerable doubt about the safety of both varieties, and both of them are associated, beyond reasonable doubt, with direct and indirect environmental damage.
"Therefore the Precautionary Principle should have been invoked, and neither consent should have been issued. And yet the Commission has acted as if it has never heard of the Precautionary Principle, and as if it has never read its own key Directive. The decisions are not science-based, in spite of what the Commission may claim (5). Furthermore, the EFSA is a corrupt organization, which can patently not be entrusted with the health and safety of EU consumers." (6) (7)
GM Free Cymru has now written to Peter Mandelson, Jose Manuel Barroso and other Commissioners to complain about their actions. The organization is convinced that in the absence of sound science favouring the approval of MON863 and GT73, and in the face of grave concerns among the EU community of nations, the Commission has simply based its authorizations upon political expediency. The EU trade dispute with the USA over GM authorizations is still rumbling on (8), and there is a widespread perception that the EU has been desperate to demonstrate to the Americans and the WTO that there is no longer a moratorium on GM authorizations in Europe.
"The Commissioner most likely to have pushed this line is Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson," says Brian John. "He has certainly been backed up diplomatically by the UK government, which has an appalling record in voting for GM authorizations and in disregarding consumer interests. But we cannot escape the conclusion that the consents have been cynically put in place at the insistence of the Americans. And in this, Mr Mandelson must carry the bulk of responsibility."
(1) Three approvals have been issued within the last year or so, effectively ending the EU's moratorium on the authorization of GM products. One of these approvals (19th July 2004) was under the Prodi Commission; the other two (August 8th and August 31st 2005) were under the Barroso Commission, with Peter Mandelson as Trade Commissioner. GM Free Cymru has recently written to Mr Mandelson and other Commissioners, accusing them of "riding roughshod over the wishes of those whom you claim to protect, in a grubby and despicable attempt to ingratiate yourselves with the biotechnology multinationals and the US Administration." Letter available on request.
(2) On the controversial 90 day rat feeding study on MON863: for the review comments commissioned by the German authorities from Dr Arpad Pusztai see:
MON 863 90 day rat study, Monsanto, June 28, 2005
(3) On MON863, see this briefing:
(4) On GT73, see this briefing:
(5) The EC "spin" on these two authorizations maintains the pretence that they are "backed by science" and that the applications from Monsanto have been subjected to rigorous scientific scrutiny by the EFSA. See this:
This is absolute nonsense, since EFSA sees its brief as the "facilitation of consents" and undertakes no independent scientific research into the varieties in the application pipeline. If EFSA does not like a piece of scientific work (as with the work submitted by the German competent authority on MON863), it may simply disregard the research and commission some more, until it gets the result it wants.
(6) In November 2004 Friends of the Earth published "Throwing caution to the wind, a detailed critique of the EFSA and its work on GM foods". The report can be downloaded here:
(7) Greenpeace Europe has just published a tightly-argued condemnation of the operating practices, lack of scientific rigour, and bias of the EFSA. The report can be downloaded at: