GM Free Cymru


Date Added to website 20th February 2014

We are getting increasingly concerned about the unwillingness of the EC's Chief Science Advisor, Anne Glover, to accept that there is abundant evidence on the record, in the peer-reviewed literature, which demonstrates harm associated with the growing and use of GMO crops and foods. This harm is both direct and indirect. We would not be so concerned if she was to say "There is evidence purporting to show harm in the scientific literature, but I do not find it convincing." That sort of statement is the privilege of any working scientist -- who might then be challenged, in the ebb and flow of scientific debate, to cite her sources and expound on her arguments. But to actually DENY the existence of evidence in the scores of papers written on GMO health and environmental impacts is quite extraordinary -- and has to call into doubt Glover's grasp of what science is, and how it works. More seriously, it displays a level of arrogance that must be profoundly upsetting for all of the honest working scientists whose work she so studiously ignores and dismisses as irrelevant to the GMO safety debate. (1)

The concerns about Glover's competence and integrity which we are now expressing mirror those of MEPs including Corinne Lepage MEP and many representatives of NGOs who have been dismayed, since her appointment in 2012, about her unashamed promotional work on behalf of the GMO industry. The new article in GM Education, reproduced below, articulates these concerns most effectively.

It appears that Glover does not understand what "scientific evidence" actually is. Here are two extracts from Wikipedia (not the most learned of sources, but concise and on the ball):
Evidence in science:

"In scientific research evidence is accumulated through observations of phenomena that occur in the natural world, or which are created as experiments in a laboratory or other controlled conditions. Scientific evidence usually goes towards supporting or rejecting a hypothesis. One must always remember that the burden of proof is on the person making a contentious claim. Within science, this translates to the burden resting on presenters of a paper, in which the presenters argue for their specific findings. This paper is placed before a panel of judges where the presenter must defend the thesis against all challenges. When evidence is contradictory to predicted expectations, the evidence and the ways of making it are often closely scrutinized (see experimenter's regress) and only at the end of this process is the hypothesis rejected: this can be referred to as 'refutation of the hypothesis'. The rules for evidence used by science are collected systematically in an attempt to avoid the bias inherent to anecdotal evidence."
Scientific evidence:

"Scientific evidence is evidence which serves to either support or counter a scientific theory or hypothesis. Such evidence is expected to be empirical evidence and in accordance with scientific method. Standards for scientific evidence vary according to the field of inquiry, but the strength of scientific evidence is generally based on the results of statistical analysis and the strength of scientific controls. Philosophers, such as Karl R. Popper, have provided influential theories of the scientific method within which scientific evidence plays a central role. In summary, Popper provides that a scientist creatively develops a theory which may be falsified by testing the theory against evidence or known facts. Popper's theory presents an asymmetry in that evidence can prove a theory wrong, by establishing facts that are inconsistent with the theory. In contrast, evidence cannot prove a theory correct because other evidence, yet to be discovered, may exist that is inconsistent with the theory."

By these definitions, and all others we have seen, empirical evidence, honestly obtained, has to be the currency of scientific debate; and where there is dispute there must also be a degree of respect for the evidence presented by opponents. That evidence, under scrutiny, may over time be shown to be faulty or defective, or even fraudulent; but is is nonetheless EVIDENCE. Glover does not apparently understand this, and on these grounds we question her competence. When it comes to the philosophy of science, including the thoughts of luminaries like Karl Popper, we cannot understand how any scientific endeavour could ever make sense in Glover's world, since the only sort of science which she apparently accepts is that which confirms a ruling hypothesis...............

It has always been our view within GM-Free Cymru that the claim of "no evidence of harm" associated with GMOs is the first resort of charlatans and fools. That is because the claim is a straightforward lie.

Here is another extract from Wikipedia:
What is a Lie?

"A lie is a false statement to a person or group made by another person or group who knows it is not the whole truth, intentionally. A barefaced (or bald-faced) lie is one that is obviously a lie to those hearing it. A Big Lie is a lie which attempts to trick the victim into believing something major which will likely be contradicted by some information the victim already possesses, or by their common sense. To bluff is to pretend to have a capability or intention one does not actually possess. Bullshit is often used to make the audience believe that one knows far more about the topic by feigning total certainty or making probable predictions. An emergency lie is a strategic lie told when the truth may not be told because, for example, harm to a third party would result. An exaggeration (or hyperbole) occurs when the most fundamental aspects of a statement are true, but only to a limited extent." "A fabrication is a lie told when someone submits a statement as truth without knowing for certain whether or not it actually is true. A half-truth is a deceptive statement that includes some element of truth. The statement might be partly true, the statement may be totally true but only part of the whole truth, or it may employ some deceptive element, such as improper punctuation, or double meaning, especially if the intent is to deceive, evade, blame, or misrepresent the truth. An honest lie (or confabulation) is defined by verbal statements or actions that inaccurately describe history, background, and present situations. Perjury is the act of lying or making verifiably false statements on a material matter under oath or affirmation in a court of law, or in any of various sworn statements in writing. White lies are minor lies which could be considered to be harmless, or even beneficial, in the long term."

We are sure that the reader can work out what sort of lie is being told by Glover when she says, with respect to the growing and consuming of GMOs: "there is no substantiated case of any adverse impact on human health, animal health or environmental health............" Little white lie? Misunderstanding? Half-truth? Fabrication? None of those -- in our view Glover, in her position as Scientific Adviser to the EC and to President Barroso, owes it to herself and to the rest of us to be in full possession of the facts before opening her mouth on any controversial topic. We cannot therefore accept any naivety or ignorance on her part -- she does after all have a team of scientists to guide her and ensure that she says nothing out of line. So she has told a lie, quite deliberately, and repeated it on other occasions, with the full intent of seeking to create an impression of scientific certainty where there is none (2). Although we have sought to obtain from her a recognition that there is valid evidence on the record that she might find inconvenient, she had said most recently: "I do not see the evidence that leads you to your conclusions." She does not understand. She does not even look (3) (4).

That is both dishonest and dangerous -- for the bottom line here is the wellbeing of EU consumers. She is paid by European taxpayers rather than by Monsanto or EuropaBio. She therefore carries a responsibility to safeguard the health and safety of Europeans, just as the EC Commissioners do.

On this basis we ask for her resignation or dismissal. It would be better for her and her family, and for the rest of us, if she were to return to Aberdeen and continue her invaluable work in molecular biology, out of harm's way.



(1) Dr Rosa Binimelis Adell, board member of ENSSER, said, "It seems that Anne Glover chooses to listen to one side of the scientific community only – the circle of GMO producers and their allied scientists – and ignores the other. Thus she is giving biased advice to the EU Commission. For a science adviser, this is irresponsible and unethical."

Corinne Lepage MEP said: "Glover's statement is simply inaccurate. It is all the more surprising that it comes from someone who complains about politicians' lack of trust for scientific evidence. The first requirement to be expected of a scientist, especially one who has the task of advising the European Commission, a risk management institution, is to submit real evidence."

Corinne Lepage MEP said: "regarding the environmental impact of GMOs, the evidence is overwhelming and completely concrete." ".........her exaggerated stance is not in keeping with science, which progresses through doubt and research."

Adam Smith, ANH: "Frankly, we think it would be impossible for an impartial and knowledgeable scientist to reach Prof Glover's conclusions on GM if they performed a genuinely wide-ranging consultation among the spectrum of opinion on the topic." "It looks rather as if a fanatically pro-GM EC President has chosen a fanatically pro-GM scientific advisor to provide a respectable, 'evidence-based' public face for the EC's policy......"

(2) " ......... the totality of scientific research outcomes in the field of GM crop safety is nuanced, complex, often contradictory or inconclusive, confounded by researchers' choices, assumptions, and funding sources, and in general, has raised more questions than it has currently answered." ENSSER Statement signed by 297 scientists.

(3) "Especially critical is the recent review by Dona and Arvanitoyannis (2009), who remarked that results of most studies with GM foods would indicate that they may cause some common toxic effects such as hepatic, pancreatic, renal, or reproductive effects, and might alter the hematological, biochemical, and immuno- logic parameters........." "........ some authors are still concerned by the safety of GM soybeans and recommend to investigate the long-term consequences of GM diets and the potential synergistic effects with other products and/or conditions....." (Jose Domingo and Jordi Bordonaba, 2011)

(4) Professor David Schubert, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, CA, USA: "I am convinced that there is significant evidence, like that presented by Séralini, that some GM foods are hazardous to human health. In order for data supporting this possibility to enter public discourse, scientists must place their ethical responsibilities above corporate profits and cease their continual assault on the science relating to GM safety. The protection of scientists' right to publish their findings without censorship or retribution must be preserved."

Peddling GMOs to Africa: EU Chief Scientist faces sharp criticism as she heads on GM sales trip.

GM Education web site (18th Feb 2014)

Anne Glover - off to promote GMOs in Ethiopia - is being heavily criticised for the claims she is making for GM technology. Next week Prof Glover will join other pro-GM evangelists in Addis Ababa selling their rusted "silver bullets" and snake oil technology packages to African researchers, governments and the "civil society" elites.

In recent years her pronouncements on the safety of genetic engineering technology and the need for it have led to ferocious criticism from European Parliamentarians (MEPs) and NGOs.

But her forthcoming trip – originally to be alongside the rabidly pro-GM UK government minister Owen Paterson – has sparked the sharpest attacks on her to date.

Integrity questioned

Dr. Brian John of GM-Free Cymru has raised questions about Prof Glover's scientific integrity over her denial of evidence for health and environmental risks from genetic engineering technology.

Glover has repeatedly said there is no evidence of such risks and has written that "this has been confirmed by thousands of research projects".

In a letter which has been posted on several websites, Dr. John asks her to retract these statements and apologise to those independent researchers who have been working hard to gather information about these risks.

Prof Glover has replied - in an email exchange which has not been posted – reaffirming her position.

Doubts about responsibility and trust

The former French Environment Minister and leading MEP Corinne Lepage has been a stern critic of Glover's position.

"Glover has as such taken on a heavy amount of personal responsibility, going so far as to say the precautionary principle is no longer applicable. If in the coming years, evidence on the toxicity of GMOs comes to light, European citizens would be entitled to ask her for an explanation.

Only time will tell. Meanwhile, her exaggerated stance is not in keeping with science, which progresses through doubt and research, nor what European citizens expect of the European institutions, in which they must put their trust to protect their health and environment, nor is it in the interest of Europe."

GMO regulators hand in glove with industry

Professor Glover's perspective would be more convincing if the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA), the body responsible for licensing GM crops in the EU, was genuinely independent, impartial, transparent and evidence based.

Its GM advisory panel has been dominated by GM industry sponsored people.

In the recent past the panel's chairperson was forced to resign after her close ties to the industry were exposed and the European Parliament refused to sign off the EFSA accounts because of its repeated failures to establish robust protocols to deal with overly cosy industry relationships.

There is a systemic lack of transparency and independent research verification in its evaluation procedures; a working presumption in favour of GM applications and an unwillingness to adopt new investigative methodologies.


Professor Glover is being remarkably disingenuous to say that there is no evidence that GM has any impact on the environment.

The emergence of "superweeds" and the contamination of non-GM crops in the US are clear to see; evidence of pest resistance is now being reported; as are examples of health disorders in laboratory animals.

At present this does not amount to a conclusive case against GM but it is enough to maintain precaution and is certainly enough to require that publicly funded officials - which Professor Glover is - and EFSA, take a more sober and considered view about GM technology.

Since when has the job description of the EU's Chief Scientist included the role of lead cheerleader and saleswoman for the GM industry?

Professor Glover says she wants less politics, less emotion and more science in the GM debate. It is ridiculous of her to suppose that decisions about this technology can - or should – be based solely on a scientific perspective.

Citizens deserve honesty not falsification

There is clear emerging evidence of problems and declaring that GM is risk free is profoundly unscientific.

According to Dr John: "The fact of the matter is that there is a powerful case showing that GMOs are harmful, with the findings of many early papers substantiated and confirmed by subsequent research. To deny that case is to perpetrate a falsehood."

Which is what critics fear will happen in Addis Ababa

Citizen stakeholders and small farmers will not be at the workshops in Addis Ababa – nor will any other dissenting voices.

The workshops have been organised by the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) which purports to be one of the world's leading scientific bodies.

But it increasingly looks and sounds hand in glove with the GMO industry.

The denial of evidence; and misleading to the point of falsification is almost becoming the standard currency of scientists promoting genetic engineering technology.

There are obviously notable exceptions but the overall perspective is profoundly disturbing.

Citizens in Africa, in the EU and indeed throughout the world deserve better.

Lawrence Woodward



(5) On 18 Feb 2014 at 09:50 in response to the letter below

Dear Professor Glover,

I think that you and I might disagree on the "independence" of the scientists to whom you refer. Those who work on the EFSA GMO Panel are no more independent than those who work in a Monsanto laboratory, since they know exactly what is expected of them.

On the matter of evidence, it is true that I am unconvinced by the evidence which you seem to hold dear, and which you claim points to the complete safety of GMO crops and foods. On the other hand, I do accept that it is evidence, in that it is on the record, and is cited in support of a scientific theory or hypothesis -- ie that GMOs and the herbicides used with them are harmless.

What I find quite extraordinary, and frankly beyond my comprehension, is that a senior academic in your position can simply declare that another body of empirical scientific evidence -- based upon observations and experimentation and cited in support of the hypothesis that GMOs and toxic chemicals are hazardous -- SIMPLY DOES NOT EXIST.

Where I come from, you look at evidence collected in good faith by those who might be your academic opponents, and you might disagree with it and argue about it, and even seek to disprove it. But you do not deny its existence except in a world of Stalinist scientific orthodoxy.

So you "do not see the evidence".......... and you are the one who advises President Barroso. What a sad state of affairs........

Yours sincerely,

Brian John

(4) In response to the already published correspondence

On 18 Feb 2014, at 09:01, wrote:

Dear Dr John

I am sorry that you reject the evidence of a broad range of independent scientists (your reference to EASAC and EFSA) and I do not see the evidence that leads you to your conclusions.

It seems that we can agree on one thing, "that scientists should think critically, reject nonsense and respect the scientific process".

Yours sincerely

Anne Glover