ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
E-mail campaign on the industrial alignment of the John Innes Centre, Europe's leading "independent" plant science institute
 

"The problem is that research at public institutions increasingly reflects the interests of private funders at the expense of public good research such as biological control, organic production systems and general agroecological techniques (Busch et al., 1990). Civil
society must demand a response of who the university and other public organizations are to serve and request more research on
alternatives to biotechnology." - Miguel A. Altieri, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Division of Insect Biology, University of California
 

A third of the research that the biotech industry draws on is being undertaken in the UK and the expert UK Plant Genetic Resources Group has described the applied work of John Innes, Europe's leading plant science centre, as underpinning biotechnology worldwide. Now,  in a £60 million link up, they have increased the industrial alignemnt of their research by getting into bed with 2 of the big biotech corporations.

If you agree with the letter below please participate in the e-mail petition.

[ For a report on the JIC and its science communication activities - click here
For detailed examples of grossly misleading GM propaganda from JIC scientists and others - click here
You can get more information on some of the issues relevant to this campaign from Genetic Network News 3  ]

To take part in the petition you need only:
1. click on the e-mail address below of Prof Chris Lamb, Director of John Innes
2. copy and paste the text of the letter below - delete any text above the line
3. edit the new e-mail so the subject line reads "Independence of John Innes" or something similar
4. remember to add your name(s) at the bottom
5. 'personalise' the e-mail to your liking

Very many thanks for your support and see also the second letter below

Prof Chris Lamb  <chris.lamb@bbsrc.ac.uk>
To: chris.lamb@bbsrc.ac.uk



Dear Prof Lamb

I write to express my concern at the involvement of the John Innes Centre (JIC) in the genetic engineering of food crops which could pose significant risks to the environment, to health, and to the developing world.

I am particularly concerned at the extent of industrial alignment of the biotechnology research at the John Innes Centre, a supposedly independent research institution.  In particular, I find deeply disturbing the JICís multi-million pound link up with DuPont and AstraZeneca and the extent to which the JIC's public funding body, the BBSRC, is aligned to industry both in terms of its strategic direction and through the number of industry associated figures on its boards.

Biotechnicians at John Innes present themselves as independent experts and so receive favourable access and treatment in the media, as well as by educators, and in regulatory and advisory circles. There is, of course, a great need for such independent expertise, not least at the cutting edge of new technologies, and itís obviously  important for this purpose that a scientistís livelihood, career development or research direction is not dependent on commercial intererests and investment.  Only then can we be secure that the public interest stands a chance of being properly represented and that our legislators are enabled to make fairly and fully informed decisions.

The work of biotechnicians at John Innes is clearly aligned with the biotech industry and increasingly not independent in any meaningful sense. One  result is that a number of John Innes scientists appear heavily overcommitted to this technology and to be promoting it through often biased and even grossly misleading "science communication" activities.

I ask you to please reconsider the role of your institution in the corporate alliance which is imposing an unwanted and unnecessary technology onto people around the world. Ample alternatives exist and it is high time for the John Innes Centre to begin promoting research directions that enjoy a public mandate.

Yours



 

If you also agree with the second letter below, please also participate in this e-mail petition.

1. send an e-mail to Vincent Watts (address below) with your own message, or copy and paste the text of the letter below into an e-mail
2. if you use the standard e-mail 'personalise' it to your liking (and don't forget to put your name(s) at the bottom!!)

Very many thanks for your support!

To: Mr Vincent Watts <v.watts@uea.ac.uk>
mailto:v.watts@uea.ac.uk


Dear Vice Chancellor

I am disturbed by what I have read in a new report* about the science communication activities of the John Innes Centre, an institute of which you chair the Governing Council as well as being a member of the Council of its Sainsbury Laboratory.

I am sure you would agree that institutions promoting scientific understanding, education and knowledge have a responsibility to make sure that their science communication and educational activities involve accuracy and balance. The report focuses on the way in which some scientists at the JIC may be seriously failing to live up to this responsibility.

I cannot help but feel that these problems directly reflect the extent of the industrial alignment of the biotechnology research at the John Innes Centre.  In particular, I find deeply disturbing the JICís multi-million pound links with such companies as DuPont and AstraZeneca and the extent to which the JIC's public funding body, the BBSRC, is aligned to industry both in terms of its strategic direction and through the number of industry linked figures on its boards, such as its Chairman who was untilrecently the Exective Director of Zeneca.

I ask you to help the JIC reconsider its role and the overcommitment of
the institute, and of many of its senior scientists, to one particular technology. Such scientific certainty and commitment are inappropriate when science is simply unable at this point to provide definitive answers about the safety of GMOs, given the deep uncertainties about their effects.

Such an overcommitment is also misplaced when attractive alternative applications of science in agriculture (such as traditional plant breeding assisted by gene mapping and molecular markers) are not only available but would enjoy far greater public support and marketability.

Yours
 
 

* The report is available at: http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/biospin.htm


Public investments in science should not serve to subsidise private interests and outcomes
that have no public mandate!
 

You may find many of the items in the Professor Bullsh*t section of the ngin website of interest

Professor Bullsh*t

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