GM Free Cymru

Chief Scientific Adviser's role should be reduced, not enhanced

Date Added to website 4th August 2014

Chief Scientific Adviser's role should be reduced, not enhanced

In the mainstream and social media there is a heated debate just now relating to the office of the Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the Commission. This message has gone to President-Elect Juncker on behalf of GM-Free Cymru. We can afford to be somewhat more forthright than some of the larger NGOs......

Links to very good articles by George Monbiot and Paul Johnston are also appended.


George Monbiot
Beware the rise of the government scientists turned lobbyists

Paul Johnston
Beware the omniscient scientific adviser


Attn: President-designate Jean-Claude Juncker
European Commission,

24th July 2014

Dear Mr Juncker,

Chief Scientific Adviser's role should be reduced, not enhanced

We note that you have recently received a good deal of correspondence relating to the post of Chief Scientific Adviser to the EC President. This correspondence was triggered, we believe, by a letter from a group of NGOs (1) who were concerned both about the concentration of "scientific advice" in one office (with all the dangers of bias and abuse of power) and about the manner in which the present incumbent, Prof Anne Glover, has fundamentally misunderstood the nature of science.

The letter from the NGOs was then responded to by that rather shady organization called "Sense about Science" which purports to represent the science community but which actually seeks to promote a scientific orthodoxy which has more to do with politics than science. Their letter is here (2), signed by many of the "establishment" organizations whose views Glover has promoted, and by many of those who have been pushing GMO crops and foods in the face of consumer opposition from all over Europe. Powerful commercial and academic vested interests of course underpin the attitudes of many of those who have signed the SAS letter. They want GMO crops and foods, and GM research, to succeed, and they need somebody like Anne Glover to be an advocate for their cause behind the scenes within the Commission.

We would like to draw your attention to the fact that Anne Glover has little understanding of the way that science works. Indeed, she has actually lied over and again, on an EC web site, about the supposed "lack of evidence of harm" arising from the growing and use of GM crops and foods. We have flagged up her lies on the GM-Free Cymru web site (3) and have indeed called for her to resign if she will not correct some of the falsehoods she has been perpetrating. Sadly, she seems to think that she has a right to decide what is evidence and what is not evidence, and to declare that anything that happens to be inconvenient to her point of view is not worth a moment's thought. In another move which we see as quite sinister, she has made a carefully-timed pitch for more power for her office and greater control of the scientific agenda (4). Sad to say, an image comes to mind of a Stalinist situation in which a scientific orthodoxy is rigorously enforced, with mavericks or dissenters vilified and victimised, and with somebody like the Chief Scientist telling the scientific community -- and the politicians -- what to believe and what not to believe.

This is not the way in which science works. Science proceeds through observation, experimentation and disputation, and as Popper declared many years ago, the falsification of inadequate hypotheses has to be the principle that guides all scientists. Glover seems to want a world in which a scientific elite (maybe based in European scientific academies) decides what is "true" and what is not "true" -- and exists to perpetrate ruling hypotheses. One of those hypotheses is that GMOs cannot possibly be harmful either to the environment or to public health. God help European science if that view prevails, in the face of a huge literature demonstrating actual harm......

We therefore urge you to take the letter from the NGOs very seriously indeed. This is about something much more profound than the success or failure of the GMO enterprise. It is about the nature of science itself.

Please also see this article on Spinwatch (5).

On the basis of the above points, we urge you to reduce, rather than enhance, the role of the Chief Scientific Adviser, and to provide mechanisms for scientific advice to come from organizations which do NOT have vested commercial or other interests in the perpetration of particular views. We also urge to to ensure that the person you appoint has at least a working knowledge of how science works, and a respect for evidence that might not be very convenient from a political standpoint.

With all good wishes to you when you take over the reins from President Barroso.


Brian John
for GM-Free Cymru (Wales)


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