ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  10 November 2000


Anyone who was intrigued by our recent posting of the’s attacks on the likes of Christain Aid and the Five Year Freeze as far-left leaning future-fearing flakes in the employ of the organic multinationals, will be pleased to see that such colourful attacks are not limited to just one side of the Atlantic, as is all too evident from the “enraged” Lewis Wolpert’s hystrionics about Prince Charles below.

Wolpert tells us, without any apparent sense of irony, that Charles “cannot be challenged because he’s a royal” - this in the midst of just the latest anti-Charles rant!  Some might suggest that it’s bad science and its reckless technological application that cannot be challenged - at least not without all hell breaking loose from the company of the “enraged”.

Consider, for instance, the following attack on Guardian columnist George Monbiot’s concerns about GE, from Prof Jonathan Jones, a biotech researcher at the Sainsbury Laboratory at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK.

Jones tells us that as the Guardian “didn’t see fit to reply to my request to respond in print” to a Monbiot piece, he has decided to post his reply on the JIC’s website.  Prof Jones’ picturesque (or should that be pique-aresque?) piece is titled ‘Georgie’s porkies’ [’porkies’ being a Brit euphemism for lies!] and Jones refers amongst much else to:

- George Monbiot’s periodic eruptions of green bile...

- ...George Monbiot and his bigoted, myopic, mystical, anti-scientific, organic farming          business interest friends
- ...the Soil Association, which stokes the fires of anti-GM frenzy in order to increase the organic market share.
-  ...fear of science and the new, scurrilously fanned by Monbiot and chums.

*  *  *
Prof Jones, you may not be surprised to hear, was reportedly an advisor to No. 10 during the GM crisis brought on by a group of international scientists expressing their support for Prof Pusztai in Feb ‘99.  We previously gave Prof Jones a ‘Best Bull’ award for a piece he wrote at that time, in which he said of the Pusztai affair:

“The future benefits [of GM] (for consumers and the environment) will be enormous and the best is yet to come. In the meantime, let’s have more information and less rhetoric.

In making the award, the Prof Bullsh*t team commented: “Brilliant spinning here from JJ, the boy wonder!  Notice how he demands a different standard of discourse from his opponents (no grandstanding, stick to the facts etc) to the one which he himself employs!

Note too the particularly priceless juxtaposition of the deployment of a rhetorical device with his demand that the critics cut out the rhetoric and stick to the science!  Undoubtedly, Bull of the highest order and a worthy winner of a Best Bull award.”

Like many GE promoters Jones’ own myopia with regard to double standards is remarkable. This is also well captured in his Monbiot rant by, on the one hand, complaining that in linking GE to big business Monbiot is guilty of “Guilt by association; the cheapest and crudest trick in the rhetorician’s handbook” while, on the other hand, as we have seen busily associating Monbiot with a ragbag of mystical science-haters and organic business interests!

Jones also quotes the well-known geneticist and green-hater Prof Steve Jones’ infamous attack on Monbiot: “Is he a fool? Or a liar? Probably both”

But JJ naturally makes no reference to the fact that Steve Jones has himself expressed profound environmental concerns about GE.  Indeed, Steve Jones complains about  the reckless myopia and bad science underlying the technology:

“So confident are the [bio]technicians of the safety of their products that each one is seen as no more than an  arbitrary mix of independent lengths of DNA. Their view takes no account of the notion of species as interacting groups of genes, the properties of one ... depending upon the others with which it is placed.”
[ ]

And in Steve Jones’ view things could go disastrously wrong:

“Those genes are going to get out into other plants. Everybody knows that. And we have no idea what is going to happen... A tiny accident, one gene leaking out, can have massive consequences” [Leading geneticist urges GM caution ]

Clearly, Prof Jones’ namesake (SJ not JJ) has failed to appreciate that in JJ’s immortal phrase, “The best is yet to come”!  Steve Jones must be yet another future-fearing flake.

The problem is that it is the likes of JJ, whose lab benefits substantially from the largesse of Lord Sainsbury and the likes of Zeneca (now Syngenta), who gets to advise No. 10, while the ‘enraged’ Lewis Wolpert (see below) gets to advise the media - with BBC support - on how to report science at the invitation of the food-industry funded SIRC [see:]
*  *  *
Scientism is clearly the order of the day
- The Ottawa Citizen, 9 November 2000

Prince Charles ‘arrogant, ignorant’: Scientists angry prince blamed man for horrific storms - By Craig Clarke    SOURCE: The Times of London

Prince Charles was branded “arrogant” and “ignorant” by a leading British scientist over a speech in which he blamed mankind for the deadly storms and floods that have lashed Britain.

Lewis Wolpert, a professor of anatomy and developmental biology, accused the prince of “abusing” his position. “I feel the prince is very arrogant and he speaks from a position of
ignorance,” Mr. Wolpert said.

“He is anti-science and anti-technology. He abuses his position. He talks about things he knows nothing about ... and he cannot be challenged because he’s a royal. If he wants to debate science, he should leave the Royal Family or consult more widely.

Mr. Wolpert also blasted the prince over his remarks about genetically modified food and mad-cow disease. The prince told the British Medical Association’s Millennium Festival of Medicine on Monday that the severe weather was the result of “mankind’s arrogance” and disregard for the delicate balances of nature.

Mr. Wolpert said he was “enraged” when he heard the speech, which took the “high moral position.”

“To say the current weather is caused by global warming is  absurd,” Mr. Wolpert said. “He is using his privileged position to make statements for which there is no evidence. “This is a very, very complex issue and anybody who is absolutely confident about this is not to be trusted. I don’t think any respectable scientist would lay their hands on their heart and say it was due to global warming."

John Butler, a climate researcher at the Royal Armagh Observatory, has added his weight to Mr. Wolpert’s comments, saying: “The world’s climate has always been variable. It is premature to jump to the conclusion that this is a man-made factor.

? Possible explanations for the storms were changes to the sun or Earth’s patterns, Mr. Butler said. But last night respected climatologists and environmentalists rallied to the prince’s defence. Phil Jones, a professor with the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia, said: “I think Prince Charles is being fair. He is just saying it in a simple way ... to a lay audience. There are scientists who are skeptical about the evidence of global warming, but I think they would be in the minority.”

John Lawton, chief executive of the Natural Environment Research Council, said the prince had “got it right.  Human-induced global warming is a reality. We cannot attribute one single weather event to global climate change but long-term trends have predicted what we are experiencing.”

Stephanie Tunmore, with the environmental group Greenpeace, accused Mr. Wolpert of being among a small group of “denialists.”

“Scientific evidence indicates that the Earth is warming with the 1990s being the hottest decade on record,”  Ms Tunmore added.

Many experts believe that rising temperatures may be the result of increased carbon dioxide levels. The Earth’s atmosphere acts like the glass of a greenhouse, letting light through to the surface and preventing heat from radiating back into space. Carbon dioxide increases the atmosphere’s ability to conserve heat, warming the Earth and contributing to unpredictable weather.

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