Sense About Science conceals vested interests of pro-GM scientists
GMWatch Press Release, 9 February 2009
The lobby group Sense About Science's new publication "Making Sense of GM: What is the genetic modification of plants and why are scientists doing it?", launched 9 February 2009, reads like a who's who of undeclared vested interests and affiliations with GM firms.
The publication fails to declare the vested interests in GM of the people and groups involved in the "working group" that produced it. Instead, individuals are misleadingly described in terms of their academic positions in universities or seemingly publicly-funded research bodies.
Campaign group GMWatch has stepped into the knowledge gap by providing the media and the public with a list of the corporate affiliations and vested interests in GM of the individuals involved in "Making Sense of GM".
To take just two examples, Prof Chris Lamb is presented simply as the director of the John Innes Centre (JIC) without any indication of the huge vested interests the JIC has in the uptake of GM food and crops, including having entered into multi-million pound deals with the major biotech corporations. In fact, Lamb is himself the co-founder of a private biotech company (now defunct) which has collaborated with the JIC (see profile below).
Prof Vivian Moses is presented simply as emeritus professor of microbiology at Queen Mary & Westfield College without any mention of his also heading the biotech industry-funded lobby group CropGen which exists "to provide a voice for crop biotechnology".
Said GMWatch director Jonathan Matthews: "We are giving the public the information that Sense About Science failed to provide. We hope it will allow people to make an informed judgment on issues relating to bias that may affect the claims for GM made in the publication.
"These undisclosed affiliations may explain why Sense About Science's misleading claims for the supposed benefits of GM crops and foods are neither science nor unbiased information, but more akin to advertising.
"The small amount of actual scientific research cited in the Sense About Science document is highly selective. There are now a number of animal feeding studies that show ill health effects from GM foods, along with studies showing environmental harm and agronomic problems with GM crops. The Sense About Science document doesn't even mention them. It's actually a piece of 'nonsense about science'."
For the truth about GM crops and foods (in publications written by independent scientists and other experts who volunteered their time for no pay), go to www.bangmfood.org/publications.
CORPORATE AFFILIATIONS AND VESTED INTERESTS of the individuals who contributed to Sense About Science's publication "Making Sense of GM: What is the genetic modification of plants and why are scientists doing it?"
*Sense about Science
Its directors, Ellen Raphael and Tracey Brown (Managing Director), are part of the extreme "LM" political network which eulogises GM, human cloning and nuclear power, and is involved in denial of climate change resulting from human activity.
Funding derives from "corporations and learned societies". Funders have included:
* Amersham Biosciences plc
* Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry
* AstraZeneca plc
* BBSRC (the major public funder of biotech research in the UK)
* BP plc (now engaged in biotech research on biofuels)
* ISAAA (biotech industry-funded body)
* John Innes Centre (partly biotech industry-funded)
* The John Innes Trust
* Martin Livermore (a PR man who previously worked for biotech company DuPont and whose activities attracted controversy. His PR firm, Ascham Associates, has done PR work for a number of biotech firms and organizations.)
* Oxford GlycoSciences plc
* Pfizer plc
* Dr. M. Ridley (Matt Ridley is the disgraced ex-chairman of Northern Rock, as well as chairman of the International Centre for Life, which seeks to foster the life sciences. He is on the Advisory Council of Sense About Science.)
* Social Issues Research Centre (food and drinks and pharmaceutical industry-linked lobby group.)
*Prof Derek Burke
Chair of the UK regulatory committee on GM foods (Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes - ACNFP) for almost a decade (1988-97), during which time the first GM foods were approved for the UK (so he's hardly likely to admit that GM foods are problematic).
He was Vice Chancellor of the University of East Anglia (1987-1995) and chairman of the governing council of the John Innes Centre (JIC) 1987-1995. Both institutions have benefited from investment in GM research, with the JIC enjoying multi-million pound investments from biotechnology corporations like Syngenta and Dupont.
He is a former member of the Advisory Council of Sense About Science.
*Prof Ian Crute
Director of Rothamsted Research, which in 2003 listed Aventis, DuPont, Novartis and Syngenta, as among its commercial "partners".
*Prof Mike Gale
Prof Mike Gale is the former Head of the Comparative Genetics Unit at the John Innes Centre, which receives funding via Lord David Sainsbury's Gatsby Trust and the BBSRC as well as via several of the major biotech corporations (see Prof Derek Burke, above). He was briefly head of the JIC prior to the appointment of Prof Chris Lamb. Gale is on record as saying of a ban on GM food that "It would be very, very serious for us. There's no doubt the Norwich Research Park and Norwich would suffer".
*Prof Jonathan Jones
Prof Jonathan Jones is Head of the Sainsbury Laboratory (funded by the former science minister and biotech investor Lord Sainsbury) of the John Innes Centre (JIC). See Prof Mike Gale and Prof Chris Lamb for the JIC's corporate affiliations.
*Prof Chris Lamb
Director of the John Innes Centre (JIC), which has received funding from all the major biotech companies, including multi-million pound deals. In 1998 the JIC announced GBP10m of investment by Dupont and GBP50m by Syngenta (the original commitment in '98 was made by Zeneca).
This investment led to the construction of a Syngenta laboratory (now closed) to aid the close cooperation of JIC scientists with up to 40 Syngenta colleagues. According to Chris Lamb, "Collaborations with companies, such as Syngenta, is one way to ensure science is converted into products that benefit end-users." In December 1999 Lamb was appointed co-chair of the scientific advisory board of plant biotechnology company, Akkadix, based in San Diego, California which he co-founded. Akkadix (now defunct) was acknowledged as a notable collaborator with the John Innes Centre in an annual report.
*Prof Chris Leaver
His declaration of interests on the GM Science Review website (http://www.gmsciencedebate.org.uk/panel/members/leaver.htm) lists paid consultancies with GM companies: Rhone Poulenc (1993-1998) and Syngenta (1998-2002). Leaver is a Trustee of Sense About Science.
*Prof Vivian Moses
Chairman of CropGen, the biotech-industry funded lobby group. He is on the advisory council of Sense About Science.
Director, Sense about Science (see funders of Sense about Science, above). Prior to working for SAS, she worked for the PR company Regester Larkin, which numbered several biotech corporations and bodies amongst its clients (Aventis CropScience, Aventis Pharma, Bayer, BioIndustry Association, Royal Pharmaceutical Society).
*Prof Alison Smith
Has worked at the JIC for 25 years (see Prof Chris Lamb for the JIC's corporate affiliations)
*Prof Mike Wilson
Formerly in the Department of Virus Research at the John Innes Centre (see Prof Chris Lamb for the JIC's corporate affiliations). Holds a number of GM-related patents. His aggressive promotion of GM crops at the expense of alternative agricultural approaches has attracted considerable controversy.