23 May 2002
GM WAR OF WORDS: GUARDIAN LETTERS
Phil Campbell's letter is given below this response. For the background:
The GM war of words
Letters, The Guardian, 23 May 2002
The editor of Nature, Philip Campbell, can't get away with claiming that his disowning of a paper on GM maize contamination in Mexico published in his journal had nothing to do with the hate campaign waged against its authors (Letters, May 15).
Campbell's assertion that this unprecedented step was prompted purely by the paper's technical deficiencies fails to explain not only the paper's successful completion of Nature's stringent peer review process in the first place, but also why only one of three reviewers of the subsequent exchanges between the paper's critics and its authors called for its retraction.
In the past Campbell has editorialised against an "industrial-biotechnology complex out of control". The tracks of this runaway juggernaut now run right across the editorial pages of his own journal.
Letters, The Guardian, Wednesday May 15, 2002
George Monbiot wrongly states that I was forced to withdraw our endorsement of a paper that we had published by a campaign of character assassination against the authors (The fake persuaders, May 14).
The retraction was necessitated by technical flaws in the paper that came to our attention after its publication (which we should have picked up), and by the authors' decision not to retract the paper themselves. Our decision to make the statement had nothing to do with the fact that the paper was about genetic modification. It must have been Murphy's law that ensured that our technical oversight, embarrassing in itself, was in relation to a paper about one of the most hotly debated technologies of our time.
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