GM Free Cymru

GM flatulence from leading scientists and Royal Society

Letter from Dr Brian John, GM Free Cymru to Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society

21 December 2012

Dear Sir Paul

GM flatulence from leading scientists and Royal Society

I have just heard the piece from the Today programme in which John Pickett waxes lyrical about GM brussels sprouts without the side effects. I thought for a moment that it was April 1st… but then I thought that if this is the sort of thing that GM scientists are thinking about, God help us all.

I understand that you will be "promoting the science agenda" as guest editor of the Today programme on 27th December. Well, I wish you luck in that, since the public needs to be assured that scientists are both competent and honest.

However, it appears that one of your objectives is to examine how public hostility towards GMOs might be overcome, so that GM scientists can help in the noble task of feeding the world.

Why do you see it as part of your job to promote the interests of the GM industry? That industry, whose sole interest in feeding the world is linked to its own desire for total control of both the seed supply and the agrichemical supply, needs no help from anybody - and anybody who has eyes to see must realise that corporations like Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta fully deserve their black reputations. Do you really think that these corporations are good at science? They are indubitably good at technology, but they have absolutely no understanding of scientific ethics and they have long histories of involvement in scientific fraud, bribery, the vilification of independent scientists, and other deeply unpleasant activities. They have not the slightest idea what the Precautionary Principle is, and they are actively seeking to dismantle the regulatory system that (whatever its shortcomings may be) does try to protect public safety. You may not count these corporations among your friends, but if you are promoting GMOs you are also promoting their interests - and it would be disingenuous of you to pretend otherwise.

And why should you consider it as part of your brief as President of the Royal Society to seek to overcome public hostility to GMOs? Is it because you think that such hostility arises from scientific ignorance and from a resistance to change? Please think again. Public resistance to GMOs is a great deal more sophisticated than you pretend. People are not stupid. They actually do remember that the Government's own farm-scale trials showed that GM crops are bad for the environment. They know that GM foods bring NO consumer advantages in terms of product taste, nutritional value, shelf life, cost or anything else.

They know about super-weeds and super-bugs, and they are aware that GM monocultures are associated with massive socio-economic disruption. They know that there is accumulating evidence of harm to mammals which have consumed GMOs and residues of herbicides - and they are more than a little upset when the independent scientists who seek to draw this research to the attention of the public and the media are systematically vilified by the very scientific establishment which you are a part of. Nor do they forget the despicable role played by the Royal Society in the vilification and dismissal of Arpad Pusztai back in 1999.

Please get real here. The public is deeply suspicious about GMOs, with good reason. The only way in which that suspicion can be overcome by the science community is for that community to become more competent, to be less susceptible to vested interests, to show greater respect to scientists who discover "uncomfortable" things about GMOs, and to accept that matters like global food security, food sovereignty and long-term sustainability require social and political solutions, and not techno-fixes.

I will appreciate the courtesy of a reply.

With best wishes for a very happy Christmas.

Sincerely, Dr Brian John