Monsanto's World Wide Web of Deceit



Letters, The Guardian, Tuesday 20 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.

Jonathan Matthews


GM: And yet it moves

Letters, The Guardian, Friday 24 May 2002

From his position as editor of Nature, Philip Campbell has provided the world with measured and intelligent leadership in biology, at a time of radical transformations in our discipline. It is puzzling that he would have chosen to side with a vociferous minority in obfuscating the reality of the contamination of one of the world's main crops with transgenic DNA of industrial origin (Letters, May 15).

Perhaps the key lies in his tacit acknowledgment, albeit by dismissal, of the enormous pressures on anyone working in or around the biological sciences ever since we were set on a collision course with commercial interests. He is right in pointing out that modern science should not be - and is not normally - carried out through the obscurantist practices exposed by George Monbiot (The fake persuaders, May 14). But Philip Campbell's participation, however reluctant, in these practices seems to be further evidence of the insidious challenges facing open discourse in biology.

Our discovery of transgenic DNA in Mexican landraces of maize has never been seriously challenged and continues to be confirmed. There is no legitimate reason why we should have acquiesced in Nature's insinuations for a retraction, or why Nature should have taken the unprecedented measure of unilaterally withdrawing its support for our paper, which its own peer-review system recognised as valid and important.


Neither of the two letters published by Nature, purportedly showing fatal flaws in our paper, ever questioned our main discovery. All results to date from our laboratory, as well as those from independent studies using a variety of methods, continue to support our statements (Mexico's vital gene reservoir polluted by modified maize, April 19). It is perplexing that Nature would have chosen to side with the opinion of a single critic, against the concordant indications of a tandem of independent reviewers appointed by the journal itself, and against all empirical evidence.

Science has progressed in modern times by the presentation of results which are subsequently refined or rectified by further empirical work. As Nature well knows, the self-perpetuating genetic contamination of our crops will remain as an undeniable ecological reality for others to confirm. But will we, as a society, have the independent, public infrastructure to confront this and other similar challenges derived from our transformation of the biosphere?

The coordinated attempt to discredit our discoveries in the public piazza sends a chilling message to those who would dare ask important but uncomfortable questions and find their truthful answers. It is an assault on the very foundation of science.


Against those who would like to bury from public view the reality of the uncontrolled movement of transgenic DNA in the environment, I can only echo the words of Galileo: "Eppur si muove" [And yet it moves].

Ignacio H Chapela

Berkeley, California 

Web of Deceipt Index


Letters, The Guardian, Wednesday 15 May 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.

Philip Campbell
Editor, Nature


Web of Deceipt Index