ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

6 October 2002

PUBLICLY FUNDED GM DEBATE TURNS INTO FARCE

'Commissioned responses' have now been added to the 'Spiked' debate on the theme of 'UK farm-scale trials: why are we having them?'
http://www.spiked-online.com/Sections/Science/Debates/GM/

'Spiked' launched this debate on the 16 September. As previously noted, the 'Spiked' website is run by the strategically far right and environmentalist-hating 'Living Marxism' (LM) group who are fanatically pro-GM. [http://ngin.tripod.com/180902a.htm]

The online debate is being sponsored by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). As a UK government funded agency, the NERC is using public money for this and others in a series of "debates" on environmental issues being conducted by Spiked.

Despite their known agenda and alarming track record (see;
http://ngin.tripod.com/180902a.htm), Marion O'Sullivan of the NERC told us, "NERC is satisfied that there is no evidence suggesting that, on environmental matters, spiked have any particular agenda"!!!

O'Sullivan also told us, "We have edged towards balanced and pro-GM views to start off this debate because those views are less well aired than the anti-GM views." She failed to tell us how the NERC justifies such an assertion.

Logically the 'Commissioned responses' could have been an opportunity to balance the mainly pro-GM views used by Spiked to initiate the debate. But instead the 3 responses commissioned actually reinforce the initial bias. They are from:

*the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC) - the biotech industry's PR front in the UK. Their piece is called, "The benefits of GM";

*John Conroy, an expatriot Spiked supporter in Brazil known for his hatred of environmental NGOs. Conroy's piece on the trials is titled, "European precaution punishes Brazil". His views inevitably chime with those of fellow Spiked supporter, Tony Gilland whose earlier piece, entitled "Let the sowing begin", described the farm-scale trials as "an unnecessary obstacle to the introduction of this beneficial technology";

*Prof Alan Gray, the head of ACRE, who writes, "It beggars belief to imagine that any group of responsible scientists anywhere in the world would approve of such trials ('using the wider environment as an experimental laboratory') were there a single shred of evidence from many years of trials and commercial cultivation that they posed a risk to human health and the environment."

If you have any concerns about the public funding of this exercise in bias, you may like to contact NERC via Marion O'Sullivan <mjo@nerc.ac.uk>

You might wish to point out to the NERC that quite apart from the complete unsuitability of Spiked to act as a credible host for environmental debates, and the ludicrous bias shown in the conduct of the GM debate to date, NERC sponsorship also serves to increase Spiked's public credibility and provides it with a platform to put forward the extreme views of its own spokespeople.

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