ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

13 September 2002


It is more than depressing to see the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), a UK government funded agency, lending its name and credibility to the sort of exercise described in the press release below. The NERC's partner organisation in this online debate is 'Spiked' - a website run by the same Living Marxism clique that ran LM magazine, until it was sued out of existence by ITN, over its attack on their journalists as part of LM's denial of Serbian genocide.

The ITN case wasn't any sort of one off. LM also ran a series of articles denying the Rwandan genocide - articles co-authored by Fiona Fox, the current director of the Science Media Centre.

Although the LM brigade are very good at staging events which make it appear that they are interested in open debate, often by getting others to lend their name to the event, in reality they are fanatically pro-GM and anti- almost all environmental concerns and organisations, as all the public statements and media activities of members of the group make abundantly clear.

Also out of the LM stable are:
* LM-supporting TV director Martin Durkin, condemned by the Independent Television Commission for having "misled" contributors to his anti-environmentalist 'Against Nature' TV series and for having distorted their views via selective editing.
* The Institute of Ideas - - directed by Claire Fox, sister of the Science Media Centre's director.

The line up of people that NERC/Spiked have assembled to kick off their GM debate clearly reflects their bias. Greg Conko works out of the CEI which is basically a pro-corporate rightwing set up renowned for its pro-GM propaganda (Dow chemicals are amongst its funders). Prakash runs a fanatically pro-GM campaign - AgBioWorld - which has been shown to work hand in glove with Monsanto's PR people. Gilland is part of the LM clique - see above. So that's 3 fanatical supporters + 1 cautiously pro-GM scientist, Firbank, + 1 sceptical social scientist, Grove White.

Is that the NERC's idea of balance???


Thursday 12 September 2002

Genetically modified (GM) crops have been the subject of intense debate. Yet there has been far less discussion about the purpose or desirability of the UK's ongoing farm-scale evaluations.

On Monday 16 September 2002, the online publication spiked and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) are launching a debate on the theme of 'UK farm-scale trials: why are we having them?'

To initiate the debate, five experts have put forth their views:

- DR LES FIRBANK, who leads the farm-scale evaluations, explains that they 'do not address all the questions surrounding the possible commercialisation of GM crops', but claims that they 'will provide clear evidence that will be important when decisions about the commercialisation of GM are made'.

- PROFESSOR ROBIN GROVE WHITE, of the UK government's Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission, says that 'the trials were born out of political necessity in 1998, and as the results start to come in, they will become political again'.

- GREGORY CONKO, director of food safety policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, and DR CHANNAPATNA S PRAKASH, director of the Centre for Plant Biotechnology Research at Tuskegee University, argue that 'farm-scale evaluations of GM crops have accomplished few of their intended goals'.

- TONY GILLAND, editor of 'Science: Can We Trust the Experts? ', argues that 'an unquestioning acceptance of negative assumptions about the destructive nature of modern farming practices has delayed the commercial use of a benign technology'.

These statements will be followed by responses from experts in the field and from the public. This is the third in a series of online debates about the environment published on spiked and sponsored by the NERC.


The spiked-debate on farm-scale trials for GM crops will be published online, on Monday 16 September 2002, at:

For further details, contact:

Sandy Starr at spiked

Tel: +44 (020) 7269 9234
Fax: +44 (020) 7269 9235

Marion O'Sullivan at NERC

Tel: +44 (0)1793 411 727
Fax: +44 (0) 1793 411 510

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