ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

13 November 2002

UK DEBATE AND SYNGENTA TAKE OVER OF CGIAR/SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT GM INQUIRY STARTS TODAY

Andrew Bennett mentioned in item 1 is the official who before going through the revolving door to Syngenta used his position inside Clare Short's Department for International Development to attack the carefully conducted citizens' jury in Andra Pradesh that totally rejected British backed plans for corporatisation of their agriculture, GMOs and mass displacement of landless labourewrs and small farmers. Since joining Syngenta he continues to damage the interests of the poor.

The Health Committee of the Scottish Parliament launches its enquiry into the health effects of GM today. You can submit your concerns to health@scottish.parliament.uk up till the 18th November. More information on the enquiry:
http://ngin.tripod.com/291002b.htm
More information on the health dangers of GMOs:
http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/gmoquote.htm

1. Eco Soundings on the UK debate and Syngenta take over of CGIAR
2. Health Committee of the Scottish Parliament inquiry starts today

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1. Eco Soundings on the UK debate and Syngenta take over of CGIAR

http://society.guardian.co.uk/societyguardian/story/0,7843,838495,00.html
Eco Soundings
Paul Brown and John Vidal
The Guardian, Wednesday November 13, 2002

False start

So whatever happened to the great British public debate on GM crops promised by the government in July? Wait and see, is the official line from the hapless Central Office of Information, which has landed the task of organising it on the cheap. In the meantime, the senior independent academics hauled in to advise say that the whole thing is absurd. In a stinging eight-point letter to the government, they say that the process is deeply flawed, the government's position "is ambiguous and the object of suspicion" and there are "several specific and serious failings" in the way the debate has been designed. It bodes rather ill.

Inside job

Andrew Bennett, former head of environment at Clare Short's Department for International Development, has pulled off a coup within months of joining the Syngenta Foundation, charitable arm of the biotech giant, by gaining a place on the governing body of the consultative group on the international agricultural research centres (Cgiar). This is the network of international public research institutions which have been the target of biotech companies for years but, until now, escaped infiltration. Critics are appalled. "Cgiar has unabashedly adopted the corporate research agenda, thereby accepting that it ceases to follow the original mandate of conducting agricultural research for 'public good'," says one NGO.

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2. Health Committee of the Scottish Parliament inquiry starts today

MUNLOCHY GM VIGIL:
PRESS RELEASE: Embargoed until 00:01 Wed 13th Nov

In response to the petition from the Munlochy Vigil, signed by over 6500 people and with complete cross-party political support, the Health Committee of the Scottish Parliament has set up an inquiry into the health effects of GM crops.

This inquiry starts on Wed 13th November at 9:30am, with the petitioners and Bayer Cropscience giving evidence.

The petitioners will be represented by: Anthony Jackson and Linda Martin

They will put the case that due to there being no known scientific testing on the health implications of GM crops and food, it is encumbent on the Scottish Executive to ban the growing of GM crops in the open environment.

They will also be critical of the regulatory procedures surrounding GM crop approval. This will include the concept of substantial equivalence (1) and the fact that the risk assessments are carried out by the Biotech companies themselves and do not take into account scientific uncertainties.

Anthony Jackson states:

"Without independent, peer reviewed scientific tests into the health effects of GM crops and food, GM should not be allowed into either the open environment or the food chain. We have constantly asked to see any tests that have been done on the health implications of GM and have yet to receive one. It is widely believed that no testing has been done. As such it is impossible and disingenuous to state that GM is safe. No evidence of harm is not equal to evidence of no harm.

There is no demand for GM produce, hence there is no need to take risks on human health. We should not repeat historical mistakes where commercial power took precedence over the precautionary principle.

We are asking for more science and more research of a rigorous nature, and until then there should be a moratorium on GM crops and food."

Press Contact:
Anthony Jackson  07720 817 847

Notes to Editors:
(1) Substantial Equivalence asserts that plants whose fundamental genetic structure has been permanently altered are no different from naturally occurring varities.

The Royal Society of Canada has deemed substantial equivalence to be "scientifically unjustifiable". (Elements of Precaution: Recommendations for the Regulation of Food Biotechnology in Canada. Jan 2001)

ENDS.

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