GM Free Cymru

The Royal Society is wrong: GM technology will never deliver food security

Press Notice from GM Free Cymru 21 October 2009

GM Free Cymru has issued a strong condemnation of the Royal Society for arguing that GM crops are needed to prevent a catastrophic food crisis by 2050 (1). The eight authors of the Report say that where GM has been proved effective at either increasing yields or else proving to be resistant to diseases, it should be used in the UK; and that GM crops and foods must be used to avoid "catastrophic food crises" by the year 2050.

Commenting on this Report, GM Free Cymru said that it was part of a coordinated attempt by the Government and the GM industry to force GM crops and foods on a British public which has said, over and again, that it wants nothing to do with them. Speaking on behalf of the organization, Dr Brian John said: "This is a cynical and opportunistic campaign, involving the Food Standards Agency, the UK Government, Prof John Beddington and the organizations promoting GM, using the threat of climate change and food shortages to make claims for GM that are clearly fanciful. For more than twenty years the GM industry has made wild promises of "wonder crops" that will increase yields, prove resistant to droughts and saline growing conditions, and bring benefits to small farmers. And what has it delivered, after the wastage of many million pounds of taxpayers's money? Nothing. Not a single food product that is safer, more nutritious, tastier, cheaper, or easier to process than conventional or non-GM counterparts. The great GM enterprise has headed up a blind alley, and that is where it is stuck."

GM Free Cymru also pointed out (2) that there are no yield increases with any crop, anywhere in the world, that are associated with an introduced GM trait. The only traits introduced thus far have been directed at herbicide resistance and toxicity for certain target (and non-target) insects. Where there have been apparent yield increases, they have been a direct result of selective non-GM breeding and the use of the most productive varietal lines. The organization says that the suggestion that GM lines are "high yielding" is a confidence trick perpetrated by the GM industry -- one which should never fool any serious scientist.

Dr John also highlighted the Royal Society's appalling record in using corrupt and fraudulent science in the course of its long-standing pro- GM campaign (3). he said: "The Royal Society pretends that it is an august scientific organization with a reputation for objectivity and sound science. Some of the science it supports may be just that, but in the GM field the Society has been involved in the vilification of scientists whose experiments have shown up the deficiences and the dangers of GM, and it has displayed a massive bias in favour of the GM industry. Quite frankly, any Report conducted or commissioned by the Society deserves to be closely scrutinized and taken with a hefty pinch of salt. GM will do nothing whatsoever to enhance global food security; it will simply enhance the profits of the GM corporations, impoverish the developing countries, reduce biological diversity, negatively affect man's capacity to adaptation to climate change, and increase the risks of food-related catastrophes in the future. "


Contact Dr Brian John Tel 01239-820470


(1) In the report entitled ‘Reaping the benefits: towards sustainable intensification of global agriculture’ the authors, led by Chairman Sir David Baulcombe, of the University of Cambridge, outline the steps which governments need to adopt to ensure that in coming decades farmers in the developed and the developing world are fully equipped to feed their growing communities. Professor Baulcombe is reported as saying: “If we are to take full advantage of the benefits which science can offer to food production, then we must act now, by identifying valuable science technologies, investing in research, and by laying the regulatory framework to bring these technologies to market.” In contrast, the IAASTD report, produced by 400 international scientists and supported by 60 governments, including the UK, backed organic agriculture and similar 'agro-ecological' approaches as part of a 'radical change' in the way the world produces food.

(2) A lecture given by Prof Ann Clark which shows that there are NO yield increases associated with the GM traits introduced into GM crops -- yield increases, where they occur, are down to conventionally bred characteristics which are deliberately incorporated into the same "GM packages." The non-GM isolines (which would boost yield anyway) are then deliberately not released onto the market -- which is something Monsanto and the other GM corporations can decide on quite cynically because they control the seed trade. This point is deliberately ignored and misrepresented by the biotech industry. The spokesmen still pretend that they insert "yield enhancing" genes, which they patently do not.

(3) In 2001 the Royal Society made this fraudulent citation: "the only way to clarify Dr Pusztai's claims would be to refine his experimental design and carry out further studies to test clearly defined hypotheses focused on the specific effects reported by him. Such studies, on the results of feeding GM sweet peppers and GM tomatoes to rats, and GM soya to mice and rats, have now been completed and no adverse effects have been found (Gasson & Burke, 2001)". That was a deliberate and carefully constructed deceit. Gasson and Burke did not refine or repeat the Pusztai experiments. Dr Pusztai has repeatedly pointed out that neither the Gasson-Burke paper, nor the papers they cite, may be used to support the contention of "no adverse effects". The Royal Society was also heavily criticized in 2003 for attempting to "rig" the GM science debate at that time, and for seeking to misrepresent the findings of the Government's FSE programme of GM field trials. The Society made no proper arrangements for public involvement in its GM discussion process, and actively discouraged the participation of "outsiders" in meetings. It was also accused of orchestrating a press campaign to "flag up" a series of very dubious conclusions about the supposed environmental benefits of a GM crop management system developed at Brooms Barn Research Station, in spite of the demonstrable inadequacies of the brief scientific paper on which these conclusions were based. It also attempted to "sabotage" the publication of the Report on the Health Impacts of GM Crops published by the Scottish Parliament's Health Committee, by issuing its own press release on the Brooms Barn study on the same day.