Dear Claire and Jonathan,
I thought that I should write to you on the 10th anniversary of my 150 seconds of TV “fame” and tell you what I think now. It is very appropriate to write to you because you have provided the most comprehensive service to inform people about the shenanigans of the GM biotechnology industry and its advocates.
On this anniversary I have to admit that, unfortunately, not much has changed since 1998. In one of the few sentences I said in my broadcast ten years ago, I asked for a credible GM testing protocol to be established that would be acceptable to the majority of scientists and to people in general. 10 years on we still haven’t got one. Instead, in Europe we have an unelected EFSA GMO Panel with no clear responsibility to European consumers, which invariably underwrites the safety of whatever product the GM biotech industry is pushing onto us.
All of us asked for independent, transparent and inclusive research into the safety of GM plants, and particularly those used in foods. There is not much sign of this either. There are still “many opinions but very few data”; less than three dozen peer-reviewed scientific papers have been published describing the results of work relating to GM safety that could actually be regarded as being of an academic standard; and the majority of even these is from industry-supported labs. Instead we have the likes of Tony Trewavas and others writing unsupported claims for the safety of GM food and defaming people like Rachel Carson who can no longer defend herself; not that she needs to be defended from such nonentities.
In normal times one would not pay much attention to such people desperately trying to be seen as the advocates of true science, but these are not normal times. The mostly engineered (GM engineered) food crisis gives the GM biotech industry and its warriors an opportunity to come to the fore with claims that GM is the only way to save a hungry world; a claim not much supported by responsible bodies, such as the IAASTD. The advocates of GM also now think that they have found a chink in the armoury of people’s resolve that they can exploit by telling us that we would not be able to feed our animals without GM feedstuffs. In this way, they hope to bring in GM by the backdoor. Please remember that whatever our animals eat, we shall also get back indirectly. Rather ominously, there has been no work whatever to show the safety of the meat of GM-fed animals.
We must not underestimate the financial and political clout of the GM biotechnology industry. Most of our politicians are committed to the successful introduction of GM foods. We must therefore use all means at our disposal to show people the shallowness of these claims by the industry and the lack of credible science behind them, and then trust to people’s good sense, just as in 1998, to see through the falseness of the claims for the safety of untested GM foods.
Let’s hope that on the 20th anniversary I shall not have to write another warning letter about the dangers of untested GM foods!
Best wishes to all,
Let’s hope change happens well before the 20th anniversary.