The Regulation Of GM Crops And Foods
The Role of The Biotech Industry And Advocacy Science

"This letter is a response to the piece by Mick Willoughby in the June issue [of CLA Land & Business magazine], which in my view was full of unsupported assertions and bullet points dressed up as facts. Those presumably came directly from the Monsanto Corporation, passed on to Mr Willoughby during his visit to their St Louis headquarters. He should not believe everything he is told, and he might find it educational to view the recent French film The World According To Monsanto which carefully documents the corporation's methods of conducting science and doing business. I found it terrifying.... There is a 'revolving door' between the GM industry and the state-funded bodies that are supposed to regulate its activities and protect the public. Most of the approvals for GM crops are based on 'advocacy science' provided by the GM companies and protected from public scrutiny."
'Star Letter' - Why The Genes Don't Fit - Jim Bowen
Country Land & Business Association (England and Wales), Land & Business Magazine, July 2008

On This Page

What Is GM Advocacy Science?
Comments By GM-Free Cymru (Wales)

Working The Political System
How The Biotech Sector Operates

New Labour
And The Biotech Industry

GM Food - 'No Obvious Ill Effect'
Don't Look, Don't Ask

The Documentary Most Americans
Will Likely Never See

"Researchers have found that a large share of scientific studies on genetically modified (GM) crops were tainted by conflicts of interest, mostly because of having an employee of a GM producing company as one of the authors or having received funding from the company. Out of the 579 published studies on GM crops that were analysed, about 40 per cent showed such conflict of interest, the researchers affiliated to France's National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) found. Their study is published in the journal PLOS ONE this week. "We found that ties between researchers and the GM crop industry were common, with 40 per cent of the articles considered displaying conflicts of interest," said the study. They also discovered that studies with conflict of interest had much more likelihood of presenting a favourable outcome for GM crops compared to those with no conflict of interest. "In particular, we found that, compared to the absence of COI (conflict of interest), the presence of a COI was associated with a 50 per cent higher frequency of outcomes favorable to the interests of the GM crop company," the study said. Common crops like corn, soybean etc. can be made resistant to certain pests by introducing genes from a bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis, hence the name 'Bt'. Considerable research has been devoted to charting efficacy and durability of Bt crops. Thomas Guillemaud, director of research at France's National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), told AFP that the team originally looked at 672 studies before narrowing down to the pool to 579 that showed clearly whether there was or was not a financial conflict of interest. "Of this total, 404 were American studies and 83 were Chinese," he said. "The most important point was how we also showed there is a statistical link between the presence of conflicts of interest and a study that comes to a favorable conclusion for GMO crops," Guillemaud said. "When studies had a conflict of interest, this raised the likelihood 49 per cent that their conclusions would be favorable to GMO crops." Among the 350 articles without conflicts of interest, 36 per cent were favorable to GM crop companies. Among the 229 studies with a conflict of interest, 54 per cent were favorable to GM companies. "We thought we would find conflicts of interest, but we did not think we would find so many," Guillemaud told AFP. One limitation of the study was that it investigated only direct financial conflict of interest. As the authors point out in the study paper itself, "authors may have affiliations to GM crop companies of other types, such as being members of advisory boards, consultants, or co-holders of patents, and this could also have a significant impact on the outcomes of studies on GM crops." They said that such non-financial interests are very difficult to trace."
Many studies on genetic modification biased because of authors' links to companies
Times of India, 17 December 2016

What Is GM Advocacy Science?
Comments By GM-Free Cymru (Wales)

A Proposal for Urgent Action by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on GM Science
'EFSA is not fit for purpose'
Science Ethics Code And The Blocking Of GM Research
Company Research on GM Foods is Systematically Rigged
Exposed: Monsanto's fraudulent safety tests for GM Soy
How 'Inconvenient GM Research Is Stifled, Starved, Marginalized And Patronized

Working The Political System
How The Biotech Sector Operates

"And certainly when I became Secretary [of Agriculture], given the fact that I was in charge of the department regulating agriculture, I had a lot of pressure on me, not to push the [GM] issue too far, so to speak. But I would say that even when I opened my mouth in the Clinton admininistration I got slapped around a little bit by not only the industry, but also some of the people even in the administration. In fact I made a speech once saying that we needed to more thoughtfully think through the regulatory issues on GMOs and I had some people within the Clinton administration, particularly in the US trade area - they were very upset with me. They said 'How could you, in Agriculture, be questioning our regulatory regime?'."
Dan Glickman, former US Secretary of Agricuture
The World According To Monsanto
ARTE Documentary (YouTube), 11 March 2008

Working The System

The Center for Responsive Politics award winning web site lists US political donations by special interest groups, lobbyists, and industries. Many political donors make simultaneous payments to both Democrat and Republican election campaigns so that influence can be exerted on both sides of the aisle, irrespective of the overall outcome of an election. It is not for nothing, therefore, that some people refer to America as being run by a two-headed one party state, and why many Americans do not bother to vote.

The web site can be searched by name of politician, industry/sector, special interest group, or company, to see who pays whom. For example, the top 20 contributors to the political campaigns of Senator McCain and Senator Obama are listed for the 2008 election cycle. In the case of both of these Presidential candidates the top 20 contributors include donors affiliated with Citigroup Inc, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Bros, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley, and UBS AG, demonstrating the strong influence of Wall St on the American political system.

For the 2008 election cycle, Monsanto 'Political Action Committee' donations have been made to the campaigns of 35 House federal candidates, and 19 Senate federal candidates, with sponsorship split more or less evenly between Democrats and Republicans.

Monsanto also typically spends (see chart below) somewhere between $2 and $5 million dollars each year on political lobbying. No other company in the Agricultural Services/Products industry currently spends more.

monsantolobbying.JPG (12573 bytes)

"Britain plans to force pharmaceutical companies to share more information with regulators about clinical trials after an investigation recently concluded that GlaxoSmithKline PLC deliberately withheld information about an antidepressant.....The GlaxoSmithKline case underlines a growing concern among many health experts that drug companies' tendency to hide damaging data could have disastrous consequences....Kirsch and colleagues looked at nearly all the research submitted to the FDA. If that was only a small subset, experts wonder what other data might be out there....Until a drug has been used by millions of people, the rarest and deadliest side effects may remain unknown. Licenses are granted for drugs based on limited testing, Eichler said. Post-license monitoring should help sort out which drugs may be particularly risky, he said."
UK To Force Drugmakers To Share Info
Associated Press, 24 March 2008

[Excerpt From]

Time for 'Glasnost' and 'Perestroika'
in Modern Science

Tearing Down Biotech's 'Berlin Wall'
The Fundamental Scientific Error
of Pursuing Transgenics Before Competency in Genomics

....In August 1998 the public controversy over GM in the UK hit the headlines in dramatic fashion as a result of a documentary programme by Granada TV's 'World In Action'. It featured Dr Arpad Pusztai who told the programme of his concerns regarding the food safety of GM potatoes which he had been testing as part of a government contract. Shortly thereafter Dr Pusztai was suspended from his research post, despite (or perhaps because of) his reputation as a world authority in the research area being executed.

The man charged with sacking Dr Pusztai, the Director of the Rowett Research Institute Professor Phillip James, had previously been commissioned by Tony Blair to produce a paper on the then proposed Food Standards Agency. Ironically Professor James was quoted in a Scottish Newspaper six months before Pusztai's dismissal as saying: "The perception that everything is totally straightforward and safe [with GM food] is utterly naive. I don't think we fully understand the dimensions of what we're getting into." Given such views it begs the question as to what kind of external pressure he was placed under to dismiss Pusztai.

If elements of the governmental apparatus should be involved behind the scenes in discouraging an open scientific debate, then what does this situation say about the modern-day relationship between government, commerce and science?

The fact that the BBSRC operates under the auspices of the Department of Trade and Industry may provide a clue. Is it relevant that the Minister of Science in the DTI, Lord Sainsbury, is the largest single donor to the Labour party? Is it relevant that he holds major financial investments in plant genetic engineering? Is it relevant that his own charitable foundation (the Gatsby Foundation) funds a major part of the transgenic plant research at the Sainsbury Laboratory on the John Innes campus? Is it relevant that it is Lord Sainsbury who is a member of the Cabinet committee which advises the Prime Minister on GM related issues?

Even the Royal Society, science's most august institution in the UK at one time presided over by Sir Isaac Newton, now receives financial sponsorship from the ag-biotech company (Aventis) that has been responsible for most of the farm scale trials of GM crops at the heart of the national controversy. This is to say nothing of the funding the Society receives from Lord Sainsbury's Gatsby Foundation which pumps so much money into the JIC campus.....

This commercial pressure is one of the most important factors at play behind the regular denial of the basic difficulties associated with transgenic technology, and it is probably the most dangerous.

The net result of this disturbing scenario is that products are brought to the market without the necessary science having been done, and a pretence is instituted that the science developed so far is adequate. Just as has being going on in the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries for decades, the commercial interests concerned simply cannot afford to publicly acknowledge all the scientific realities. It is too destructive to share price - so modern science has its own version of the Iron Curtain.

According to one report from a meeting held jointly by the British Medical Journal and the Lancet published in the London Times, 1st October 1999 "Drugs companies hold back unfavourable results because they make their stock prices plummet" leading to "thousands of unnecessary deaths". If such industries have a known track record of concealing damaging research why should ag-biotech be any different?

As it happens Europe's largest ag-biotech company is drug-chemical giant Bayer, the recent purchaser of Aventis. It is worth remembering that it is the GM corporations themselves that usually do the safety tests on transgenic foods, not the regulatory authorities. Some recent press reports give an insight into the culture of 'corporate responsibility' which appears to operate at companies like Bayer. On 16 April 2003 Bayer and another pharmaceutical company were required to pay $344 million in a US Medicaid fraud case, the largest ever such settlement. The settlement included a criminal fine and an agreement by Bayer to "admit that it engaged in this conduct with the intent to defraud or mislead".

According to a report by Associated Press/ABC News 7 March 2003 "A $100 million lawsuit against Bayer Corp has yielded e-mails and internal documents that suggest the drug company let marketing and PR concerns trump safety, disregarding disturbing research on the cholesterol drug Baycol before it was pulled off the market because of dozens of deaths.... Internal documents and e-mails released by the plaintiff's lawyers show executives discussing potential dangers long before sales were halted.... Other documents show that Bayer executives worried about studying possible side effects of the drug because any results would have to be reported to the FDA. In June 2000, an e-mail to a vice president noted that 'there have been some deaths related to Baycol,' and that people at its marketing partner, SmithKline Beecham, knew it. 'So much for keeping this quiet,' the e-mail said. 'How will marketing spin this?' another e-mail wondered."

Most of the GM crop trials in the UK are by Bayer Cropscience. Under their earlier management by Aventis these crops were found to include unauthorised transgenic material. On another occasion contractors were caught falsifying data from agronomic trials of Aventis's GM maize. The data was being collected for British seed authorities as part of the official approval process.

Just how comfortable do we feel with the biotechnology industry itself being responsible for carrying out the testing of its own GM crops and foods, especially when it comes to safety issues? Such a leap of faith runs contrary to longstanding previous experience with life-sciences companies if the British Medical Journal and the Lancet are to be believed. As one editorial in the Lancet in 2000 states: "All policymakers must be vigilant to the possibility of research data being manipulated by corporate bodies and of scientific colleagues being seduced by the material charms of industry. Trust is no defence against an aggressively deceptive corporate sector."

Not surprisingly in this 'real world' context of human error or fraud, many people have become deeply concerned about the shaky science and business ethics surrounding GM technology. Those concerned include some of the more forward thinking and responsible members of the scientific community even if many still choose to keep their heads below the parapet.

These individuals are the much needed scientific 'dissidents' of the early 21st century. They are urgently required perhaps in something of the tradition of Barbara McLintock who was one of the most notable figures in the biological sciences of the last century to swim against the established academic tide of her time. Ironically it was she who demonstrated the role played by chromosome position in gene function in 1951, only to be greeted with derision from the scientific establishment. It was not until 1983 that she was awarded a Nobel Prize for this discovery after the rest of the scientific community had finally accepted the validity of her understanding.....

Interestingly the Royal Society, in its own review of Pusztai's data and analysis, emphasises importance of peer review for such safety testing and that: "It would be necessary to carry out a large number of extremely complex tests on many different strains of GM and non-GM potatoes."

So where are all the examples of such complex tests in relation to any GM food, let alone potatoes, which the Royal Society apparently regards as necessary? A subsequent literature review by Pusztai himself in June 2001 makes fascinating reading. On the whole such tests for GM foods of any kind are rare, if they exist at all. An earlier literature review published in the journal Science June 2000 revealed at that time (i.e. several years after the introduction of GM foods into the global food chain) a general lack of proper experimental studies on GM food safety. The deficiency that was identified resulted in a title for the article of 'Health Risks of GM Foods: Many Opinions but Few Data'.

In his own literature review Dr Pusztai states that "In fact, no peer-reviewed publications of clinical studies on the human health effects of GM food exist". However, just a few weeks later the results of work carried out by scientists commissioned by the UK's Food Standard Agency were announced. The Guardian reported on these 17 July 2002 stating: "British scientific researchers have demonstrated for the first time that genetically modified DNA material from crops is finding its way into human gut bacteria, raising potentially serious health questions.... many of the controversial crops have antibiotic-resistant marker genes inserted into them at an early stage in development. If genetic material from these marker genes can also find its way into [bacteria in] the human stomach, as experiments at Newcastle University suggest is likely, then people's resistance to widely used antibiotics could be compromised. The research, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency, is the world's first known trial of GM foods on human volunteers".

Notably the uptake of GM DNA by gut bacteria discovered in this study was evident after volunteers had taken just one meal with GM soya in it (although the presence of bacteria containing GM material could have reflected previous exposure to GM food already consumed by the subjects).

More worryingly, however, the Food Standards Agency has tried to downplay the significance of the findings. It maintains that because no GM material was found in the stools of the subjects, the study "showed in real-life conditions with human volunteers, no GM material survived the passage through the entire human digestive tract". Clearly such an observation is not inconsistent with the take up of GM DNA material by gut bacteria as found in the study, yet the agency ducks the issue with its own irrelevant conclusion. This is a situation which smacks of 'Thought Police' style obfuscation on the part of the FSA, a body which has also tried to block EU proposals for more stringent GM food labelling.

New Labour
And The Biotech Industry

Lord Sainsbury

"Lord Sainsbury, the supermarket billionaire and science minister, yesterday said he did not own the patent rights of the gene used in the research which has highlighted the potential risks to human health of genetically modified food. But he accepted that he does own the rights to a genetic enhancer that, according to patent application papers, was developed to act as a booster to the key gene used in GM food technology....Diatech, the biotechnology company which Lord Sainsbury put into a blind trust last year, submitted a 60-page patent application in June 1987 describing a genetic sequence taken from the tobacco mosaic virus. The application looked at how this genetic sequence could enhance the development of protein in a genetically modified organism. During research leading up to the application, the gene sequence was attached to the cauliflower mosaic virus promoter to act as a booster to Monsanto's promoter, which is used in most GM foods available worldwide and found in an estimated 60 per cent of processed foodstuffs available in British supermarkets."
Key GM gene is owned by Monsanto
Guardian, 17 February 1999

"According to some reports the supermarket tycoon has already given more than £3m to Labour coffers since Tony Blair became party leader in 1994. This sum is said to have included £1m to help clear the party's overdraft after the victorious 1997 General Election campaign....However, his financial interest in the development of genetically-modified food has aroused controversy at a time when the government has come under attack for not banning GM crops. An invitation to join the government came in July 1998. Lord Sainsbury accepted and transferred control of his business interests to a blind trust - a standard practice for ministers to prevent any suggestion of a potential conflict of interest. That portfolio included his holding in Diatech Ltd, the company which owns world-wide patent rights over a key gene used in the process of GM crops.....The future government minister once said that if a fairy godmother were to grant him a wish it would be to become a Nobel Prize winner in plant genetics. This passion for genetic research led him to donate £200m of Sainsbury shares to the Gatsby Charitable Foundation which funds work into genetically improving the resistance of plants to disease."
Profile: Lord Sainsbury
BBC Online, 8 September 1999

"The Science minister Lord Sainsbury of Turville faced calls to resign last night after announcing that he is to donate pounds 2m to the Labour Party. The Tories claimed there was a conflict of interest because Lord Sainsbury, a passionate advocate of genetically modified crops and foods, was in a position to influence policy on one of the most sensitive issues facing the Government. Lord Sainsbury, former chairman of the supermarket chain, gave Labour pounds 2m before the 1997 general election. The party was thrown on to the defensive last night over his new donation, and appeared surprised by the controversy it provoked. The code of conduct for ministers says they 'must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests'. Lord Sainsbury's shares in the family firm, and those in a company that possessed the patent rights to a key gene used in the GM process, were put into a blind trust when he became a minister. The Government insists he plays no part in formulating policy on the issue. But the Tories are to demand an investigation into whether Lord Sainsbury has breached the ministerial rules. 'Lord Sainsbury should now resign,' John Redwood, the shadow Environment Secretary, said. 'Either someone helps a political party by giving large donations to it, or helps on policy and can serve as a minister. You cannot do both - especially if you have investments in the area of your ministerial responsibilities.' Bob Marshall-Andrews, Labour MP for Medway, described the donation as a dangerous development. He said: 'When someone is the recipient of such massive patronage and also a donor of massive funds, then that obviously affects a perception of democracy. That is what is so corrosive and damaging.'"
Sainsbury faces calls to go after pounds 2m gift to Labour
Independent, 9 September 1999

"The Science Minister Lord Sainsbury was plunged into fresh controversy last night after it emerged that the government funding body he controls has given more than £1m to the Sainsbury Laboratory to finance research into genetically modified food. The Observer has learned that since July 1998, when Sainsbury became a Minister, the Sainsbury Laboratory has been awarded six government grants worth £1.1m by the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council. The council comes under the umbrella of the Office of Science and Technology, which answers to the Science Minister. Lord Sainsbury founded the laboratory to research plant genetics in 1987. It receives money from the Department of Trade and Industry and £2m a year from Sainsbury's charitable Gatsby Trust. The revelations that significant amounts of taxpayer's money are being channelled into GM research at a laboratory created by the Minister will lead to further calls for his resignation. Sainsbury's statement that he has given a further £2m to the Labour Party reignited concerns last week that he was buying favours from the Government.... The Observer has learned that the Sainsbury Laboratory is linked to the controversial genetic modification process at the centre of the research carried out by Dr Arpad Putszai in Scotland. Last year Pusztai suggested that rats fed with potatoes with an insecticide gene derived from snowdrops suffered damage to their internal organs and immune systems. Pusztai was later sacked and his research was dismissed by the Government and other scientists. In February Sainsbury angrily dismissed claims he owned the key gene involved in Pustzai's research. It has now emerged that Dr Iain Cubitt, a director of the Sainsbury Laboratory, ran Prestax, the biotech firm which owned the patent in the 1990s but sold it recently. Sainsbury also has links with Cubitt through the BioIndustry Association, the lobbying group for the GM industry in Britain. Diatech, the GM firm once owned by Sainsbury and now in his blind trust, is a member of the association. When Sainsbury went to the US to research a report into biotechnology, recently, he was accompanied by members of the BioIndustry Association. The DTI helped fund the association's costs."
Storm over £1m GM grants to Minister's lab
Observer, 12 September 1999

"Lord Sainsbury has been a well-known supporter of the party. Now a government minister, he had made donations in 1996 and 1997 before receiving his peerage."
Labour's 11 ennobled donors
BBC Online, 2 January 2001

"Lord Sainsbury gave £2 million to the Labour Party in 1996, £1 million in 1997 ..... Lord Sainsbury was given his peerage in 1997 and made Government Minister for Science in 1998, at which point he resigned as Chairman of the Sainsbury's supermarket chain. He put his £1.3 billion worth of shares (a 13% stake in Sainsbury's) into a 'blind trust' run by Judith Portrait of Portrait Solicitors (who have been solicitors for Sainsbury's since 1988). During his six years as Chairman of Sainbury's, he championed Genetically Modified (GM) food, although since his resignation the company has dropped GM food completely. He owns 2 genetics companies, Diatech and Innotech Investments (his shares in these companies were also put into a 'blind trust' when he became a minister). He backed the study of Genetically Modified organisms (GMO) through his Gatsby Charitable Foundation (Judith Portrait is a trustee), set up in 1987 and which gives £2 million a year to the Sainsbury Laboratory/John Innes Institute in Norwich."
Friends of The Earth, Press Release 4 June 2001

"In July 2002, the [UK] Government announced that it would have a broad public debate on the future of GM crops and food in the UK which was called 'GM Nation?'.... The results of this public debate were intended to be taken into account in the decision-making by the Government for any future GM policy.... GeneWatch believes that these findings of the 'GM Nation?' debate are robust and represent a valid and useful body of information to inform policy making. Importantly, they largely reflect the findings of other studies on public attitudes. Whilst it makes uncomfortable reading for government and the biotechnology industry, there is little to be gained from ignoring its findings..... The public's rejection of commercialisation was discounted and any potential public benefits from biotechnology left to emerge from the vagaries of the market. 'Jam tomorrow' was the message with no explanation of how this might be achieved..... Industry, like Government has to learn that in a complex area of risk driven by commercial industrial interests, 'jam tomorrow' will never make a convincing case for risks arising for no good reason today. So the Government has proved unable to deal with the scope of public questioning about the trajectory of GM technology. Whilst it had the courage to hold a public debate, it did not have the maturity to deal with the outcomes in any depth..... We advised that if the Government sought to downplay the outcomes of the public debate, this could increase public suspicion that the debate was never intended to be more than a PR exercise, and further undermine confidence in the Government and its institutions to act fairly in complex matters of assessing risks to the public and the environment.... The outcomes of the public debate, 'GM Nation?', showed that people are suspicious and sceptical about GM crops and have little confidence in Government and the agro-biotechnology industry. They do not reject the technology entirely, but want further research and demonstrated benefits. They also want to know more. The seven key messages that were communicated during this process... [included] The more people engage in GM issues, the harder their attitudes and more intense their concerns become."
Avoiding the difficult issues - GeneWatch UK report on the Government.s response to the 'GM Nation?' public debate
Study funded by Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, June 2004

"The Labour Party has always been easy prey for the rich. Senior ministers are touchingly naive about the motivations of those with very large fortunes, and only too easily impressed by those prepared to write a large cheque in favour of their party. From Bernie Ecclestone to the Hindujas, Lakshmi Mittal to David Abrahams, donors and their cash have proved nothing but trouble for Labour. But one man has, since 1997, given more than any other: Lord (David) Sainsbury, former chairman of the High Street grocer, science minister for eight years under Tony Blair, and Labour donor to the tune of £16million....Lord Sainsbury is not merely another rich businessman. He is the prime example of how, under Labour, it is apparently possible for the rich to buy their way to power. Surely no one believes that he would have been made a peer and become minister for science - the one job he craved in Government - if he'd never written a single cheque to Labour? .... As a minister, Lord Sainsbury was popular with the scientific community, but he had a controversial agenda which his position in Government gave him ample opportunity to advance. He is a long-term supporter of genetic modification for crops, and before going into Government had invested substantial sums in GM companies. Although he always claimed to stand aside from discussion of GM matters, his role as science minister for eight years gave him huge influence inside and outside Government to advance the GM cause. Of course, he claimed that when he went into his ministerial job, he placed his assets - including those in GM firms - in a so-called blind trust, administered by a solicitor, and had no control over them. But since he knew quite well what assets he had placed in the trust in the first place, it wasn't in fact in the least bit blind. That claim was just a polite fiction, which protected him from accusations of profiting from his position, while allowing the profits from his shareholdings to continue to accumulate."
How ripe! Labour's rich friends want US to pay higher taxes which THEY then do their best to avoid
Daily Mail, 2 April 2008

"Labour has pulled itself back from the brink of bankruptcy by restructuring its loans and persuading the bulk of its backers to give the party until 2015 to repay the money. Party officials have been locked in frantic negotiations with more than a dozen businessmen who lent Labour £15 million in the run-up to its 2005 election campaign. The loans, which were due to be repaid next year, threatened to sink the party. Officials are due to announce the new loan agreements next week.... Many of the existing lenders were embroiled in the cash-for-honours scandal. Insiders said that party officials had desperately tried to persuade the lenders to convert their loans into gifts. But only two of the tycoons — Lord Sainsbury of Turville, the supermarket heir, and Sir Gulam Noon, the curry magnate — were prepared to write off their money. Lord Sainsbury, a Labour peer, lent the party £2 million, and Sir Gulam lent £250,000."
Lenders save Labour from bankruptcy with 7 year reprieve to pay £15m
London Times, 13 August 2008

"Listening to the backlash against the Prince of Wales's warning about excessive industrial farming, it becomes clear that there is a clique of Labour MPs who regard themselves as champions of genetic modification....Given their passion for official intervention, it's no surprise that they condemn the Prince as a posh pagan. His view that 'clever' genetic engineering is driving us down a road to ruin is ridiculed and abused."
Genetically modified politics - the answer to Labour's prayers
Daily Telegraph, 15 August 2008

Lord Drayson

"Lord Paul, the multi-millionaire ally of Gordon Brown, was made a privy counsellor by the prime minister after pledging to donate 'as much as he could afford' to Labour’s election campaign.... It is unusual for party donors to be made privy counsellor unless, like Lord Drayson, they also become government ministers."
Row over Gordon Brown donor’s new honour
Sunday Times, 13 December 2009

"Lord Drayson, the biotech millionaire who becomes a Defence minister, is among Labour's most generous donors. Within six weeks of being made a Labour peer last year he handed over £500,000 - on top of two £50,000 donations he gave Labour previously. He is highly rated by the Prime Minister but is seen as a controversial figure by some at Westminster. His former company Powderject secured a £32m contract to supply the Department of Health with smallpox vaccine. Two inquiries cleared ministers and Powderject of impropriety over the award of the contract and Lord Drayson has since severed executive links with his former company. Like the Prime Minister he is an enthusiast for bioscience and made his maiden speech in the Lords championing Britain as a home for biotechnology. He is very wealthy, having shared £100m with his family when Powderject , a vaccines company, was sold to the American drugs company Chiron. Lord Drayson is believed to have pocketed about £40m from the sale. Lord Drayson's father-in-law, Brian Bellhouse, who invented the initial needless injection technology, is believed to have got £18m for his stake in the business."
Ex-Tory joins Government as Biotech tycoon takes defence job
Independent, 10 May 2005

"Those who thought that Tony Blair could never outdo his choice of an unelected biotech investor and food industrialist as his Science Minister will be reassured to know that the man tipped to be Lord Sainsbury's successor is Lord Drayson, the former head of the BioIndustry Association (Motto: 'Promoting UK Biotechnology'). Just as the Sainsbury-Blair relationship has brought allegations of corruption and cronyism, the Drayson-Blair relationship has also been mired in accusations of sleaze. In September 1997 Sainsbury gave Labour its biggest ever single donation. On October 3 1997 he was made a life peer by Blair and a year later Minister for Science. The former head of the BioIndustry Association, Paul Drayson, is also a Labour Party donor, and has also been given a peerage by Blair in highly controversial circumstances. The controversy began when Drayson, previously an admirer of Mrs Thatcher, made a substantial donation to Labour while the government was deciding who should be awarded a smallpox vaccine contract. Drayson gave a further donation of half a million pounds to Labour just six weeks after the PM made him Lord Drayson. Controversially, the Blair government awarded Drayson's company, PowderJect, the smallpox vaccine contract without any competition. It is said that after meetings between Drayson's BioIndustry Association and a Treasury minister, Blair's Chancellor, Gordon Brown, uncharacteristically approved a tax reform which would save Drayson's company an immediate £2m on its tax bill. After selling his company for a very considerable profit, Lord Drayson described himself as 'a very successful guy through my own hard work'.  Drayson's company, while he still headed it, was a financial supporter of the pro-GM Science Media Centre – a pet project of Lord Sainsbury's. PowderJect's support for the SMC dried up following Drayson's departure. Drayson has also served on a working party of the controversial pro-GM lobby group 'Sense About Science'.While Drayson was the head of the BioIndustry Association, it proposed sweeping new restrictions on the right to protest. The introduction of such legislation would make it difficult to legally conduct a boycott or protest against a corporation. In explaining the reason for the legislation, Drayson said his vision was for the UK to be the life sciences hub of Europe, and the bridge between the Europe and the States."
Corporate Watch, Newsletter 23 April/May 2005

"The UK has a new science minister - the third in two years. Lord Drayson takes up the post in the recently created Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. It is a quick return to government for the multi-millionaire businessman who quit a position in defence in 2007 to pursue his interests in motor racing. The scientific community, however, will welcome the appointment of 'one of their own' - Lord Drayson holds a PhD in robotics. The government, on the other hand, has a man who knows how to exploit innovation for the benefit of UK PLC. Lord Drayson helped set up the Oxford-based Powderject company, which developed a revolutionary needle-free injection system. The firm was acquired by the Chiron Corporation for more than £500m in 2003. 'I'm delighted - it's my absolute dream job,' the new minister said....Lord Drayson succeeds Ian Pearson, who held the science brief for 14 months; and Malcolm Wicks who himself was only in position for eight months. Before them was Lord Sainsbury who was science minister for a remarkable eight years. Sainsbury, like Drayson, has been a big donor to the Labour Party."
Lord Drayson takes science brief
BBC Online, 3 October 2008

New Labour And The Pusztai Affair

"One blustery day six years ago - at the start of The Independent on Sunday's successful GM campaign - I travelled to Aberdeen to meet a man who had been sent to Coventry. Dr Arpad Pusztai was then the bogeyman of the British scientific establishment. No less a figure than Lord May - then the Government's chief scientific adviser, now president of the Royal Society - had accused him of violating 'every canon of scientific rectitude', and ministers and top scientists had queued up to denounce him. His crime had been to find disturbing evidence that the GM potatoes he was studying damaged the immune systems, brains, livers and kidneys of rats - and to mention it briefly in a television programme before his research was completed and published. His punishment was draconian; his research was stopped, his team disbanded and his data confiscated (see box). He was ostracised by his colleagues, forced into retirement and gagged for seven months, forbidden to put his case. I was the first journalist to interview him at length, spending six hours with him..... the Government refused to undertake the normal scientific process of repeating Dr Pusztai's experiments in order to either confirm or disprove his findings. Top officials at the then Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food told me that it would be 'wrong', 'immoral' and 'a waste of money' to do so - an extraordinary attitude given the potential threat to public health, should he be right..... I have found, time after time, in covering controversial environmental issues over the past 35 years, that lone scientists, stubbornly raising concerns in the teeth of entrenched opposition from industry and the scientific establishment, have often proved to be right. Professor Derek Bryce-Smith of Reading University was ridiculed and marginalised for decades after warning of the dangers of lead in petrol in the 1950s - but it is now being phased out all over the world. The now much honoured Alice Stewart came under similar attack for first warning of the hazards of radiation to the unborn child. And I well remember one of Britain's top officials solemnly informing me a quarter of a century ago that Dr Irving Selikoff, who did more than anyone to sound the alarm on asbestos - now one of the main causes of premature death in Britain - was 'evil'. I have sat in the august halls of the Royal Society and been told that acid rain caused by pollution did not exist. I have been lectured by one of Britain's top meteorologists - now travelling the world to warn about global warming - that the climate never changes, and that human activities could not possibly cause it to do so. And who can forget the constant reassurances from the political and scientific establishments that BSE could not spread to people?"
When fed to rats it affected their kidneys and blood counts. So what might it do to humans?
Independent, 22 May 2008

"It is not often that you meet a scientific pariah, so my recent interview with Dr Árpád Pusztai was a fascinating experience. Pusztai was at the centre of a huge media storm in 1998 over research in which he fed GM potatoes to rats. He purportedly found that rats fed a GM diet did not grow as well as rats on the control diet and that they had immune problems. Part of his work was eventually published in the Lancet, but the affair effectively killed off his research career. I had always been sceptical of claims that the scientific establishment allied with dark political and commercial forces conspired to destroy him, but after looking into the history of the events that surrounded his dismissal and from talking to him I have begun to change my view..... Rumours of political interference have surrounded the decision by the director of the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen Prof Philip James - who is now chair of the International Obesity Task Force - to suspend Pusztai after first congratulating him. One allegation is that James received two phone calls from the prime minister's office the day after the screening of a World in Action documentary in which Pusztai expressed his fears about the safety of GM food. In the most far-fetched version, those phone calls are supposed to have come at the behest of President Clinton who had been lent on by the biotech industry. James has always denied this, including during an appearance before a Science and Technology Select Committee hearing into the Pusztai saga..... When I talked to James about the Pusztai affair he told me he had been phoned by someone he described as 'the science officer in the Department of Agriculture in the Scottish Office' on either the Tuesday or Wednesday - one or two days after the documentary. '[They] told me how dissatisfied they were with the research that was being undertaken by Árpád Pusztai,' he wrote in an email to me. At the time, the Scottish Office was still part of central government because devolution had not yet happened. That department was funding Pusztai's research. Then things started to get a bit strange. I asked James why he had not told the Science and Technology Select Committee about this phone call when he appeared before them in March 1999....In direct contradiction to his previous email, James then wrote to me, 'I was not contacted - or lobbied - to my knowledge by the Scottish Office of Agriculture - who so specified? If so I was and am now unaware of it.' When I pointed out that it was him who had told me about the phone call, he changed tack again, saying the contact had occurred after his decision to suspend Pusztai had been taken so it had not had any influence on him..... Make of that what you will. At any rate, James denies any political influence over his decision-making. He agrees that he phoned Pusztai immediately after the programme was broadcast to congratulate him on his performance, but he later changed his mind and decided to suspend the scientist."
Did Downing Street ruin anti-GM scientist's career?
Science Blog, Guardian, 18 January 2008

"The affair finished off Pusztai's research career (although at the time he was already 69) and affected his health. His supporters were appalled by his treatment at the hands of the publicly funded Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, which he had served with distinction for most of his career. He was regarded as a world expert on plant lectins - defensive proteins that kill insects and other invaders - with over 300 scientific papers, including two in the prestigious journal Nature. 'I would have characterised [his treatment] as disgraceful. I don't see how any reputable scientist ... could be treated in this way,' said Dr Stanley Ewen, a pathologist who was then at the University of Aberdeen and who worked with Pusztai. Having said of GM food in 1998: 'If I had the choice I would certainly not eat it', and that 'I find it's very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs', it's easy to imagine Pusztai was ideologically opposed to GM. But this is far from the truth, he tells me. 'I'm strictly science-based ... It is not an ideology for me.' Still, he confesses that his opposition to the technology has hardened over the years, and he still won't eat it. 'Even now, I am not a campaigner. I have never belonged to any organisation campaigning for or against it.' He felt he had a duty to speak out, 'just to inject some caution into this business', he says. 'Make no mistake, this is an irreversible technology. It is no good 50 years later to say: 'We should have known.' Pusztai clearly wanted his concerns to be aired publicly, but he does not come across as a man who relished or courted publicity. He was very happy, for example, that the institute's director, Philip James, shielded him from interview requests. 'I was quite happy with this ... I am an academic scientist. I've never been exposed to this,' he says, 'I'm really not a very media person.' Pusztai says James, on the other hand, was anxious to exploit the media attention. 'The director kept running around like a blue-arsed fly. This was a tremendous public relations business for him.' James even put in a complimentary phone call to Pusztai that August evening. 'I telephoned Pusztai immediately after the broadcast to congratulate him on the modest way in which he had presented the evidence on the programme,' says James, although he denies relishing the publicity. He says he had grave doubts about the interview going ahead in the first place....The day after the World in Action programme, Pusztai's boss changed his mood from congratulation to condemnation. 'My change in attitude was dramatic because I discovered that Pusztai ... had never conducted the studies which he had claimed,' says James, an accusation that Pusztai strongly denies. He says he never claimed to have done the jackbean experiments. 'He just simply wanted to put a real cap on it,' says Pusztai. 'The simplest way to do it was to suspend all research activities into this business.' Pusztai's supporters claim that James came under pressure from Downing Street to put a lid on the affair. James suspended Pusztai and used misconduct procedures to seize his data. Pusztai's rolling annual contract was not renewed and he was banned from speaking publicly. Pusztai says he wanted to publish his results but was concerned that James would veto any approach to an academic journal. In 1998, if James had hoped that gagging Pusztai would make the affair go away he was wrong. Continued media speculation was doing considerable damage to public confidence in GM food and this prompted the Royal Society - the UK's premier scientific academy - to enter the fray. Although none of Pusztai's results had yet been published, it set about reviewing the information that did exist - an internal report written by Pusztai, an audit of the data produced by the Rowett, and an independent statistical analysis carried out by Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland. The data was sent to six anonymous reviewers. The subsequent report savaged Pusztai's results, but he remains defiant. The Royal Society putdown was predictable. The reviewers had placed a hotchpotch of lab reports and statistical analyses that were never intended for publication under intense scrutiny. 'There was practically nothing in it but numbers,' says Pusztai. He and Ewen point out that peer reviewers had praised the methodological details of the experiment when their application for a £1.6m research grant from the Scottish Office was given the go-ahead. Some of the disputed data did eventually see the light of day in October 1999, when Ewen and Puztai published a paper in the prestigious medical journal the Lancet. Because of its controversial nature, the data paper was seen by six reviewers - three times the usual number. Five gave it the green light. The paper - which used data held by Ewen and so was not subject to veto by James - showed that rats fed on potatoes genetically modified with the snowdrop lectin had unusual changes to their gut tissue compared with rats fed on normal potatoes."
Arpad Pusztai: Biological divide
Guardian, 15 January 2008

"As we search for answers as to whether GM foods are safe, two questions stand out. Given such a huge controversy over Pusztai's experiments, and the preliminary nature of their findings, why were the political and scientific establishments so intent on rebutting him? More importantly why have the experiments never been repeated?..... having finished his doctorate in biochemistry and post-doctorate at the Lister Institute, he [Pustai] was invited to join the prestigious Protein Chemistry Department at the Rowett Research Institute, which has become the pre-eminent nutritional centre in Europe.  Dr Pusztai was put to work on lectins, plant proteins that were going to be central in the GM controversy years later.   Over the intervening years, Pusztai became the world's leading expert on plant lectins, publishing over 270 scientific studies, and three books on the subject... In 1995, the Scottish Office Agriculture Environment and Fisheries Department commissioned a three-year multi-centre research programme under the coordinatorship of Dr Pusztai into the safety of GM food. At the time there was not a single publication in a peer-reviewed journal on the safety of GM food [note: incredibly, this was despite GM food already having started to enter the market with the Flavr Savr tomato in 1994, and soon Monsanto's GM soya in 1996]  ....  The idea was that the methodologies that they tested would be used by the regulatory authorities in later risk assessments of GM crops. For the first time, independent studies would be undertaken to examine whether feeding GM potatoes to rats caused any harmful effects on their health, bodies or metabolism....The thinking was that, if you could genetically modify a potato with the lectin gene inside it, the potato could have an inherent built-in defence mechanism that would act as a natural insecticide, preventing aphid attack. Because it looked promising, the snowdrop gene had already been incorporated into several experimental crops, including rice, cabbages and oil-seed rape. But by late 1997, the first storm clouds were brewing at the Rowett. Preliminary results from the rat-feeding experiments were showing totally unexpected and worrying changes in the size and weight of the rat's body organs. Liver and heart sizes were getting smaller, and so was the brain. There were also indications that the rats' immune systems were weakening... Finally in August 1998, Pusztai expressed his growing concerns on World in Action in a 150 second interview. So what did he say? 'We're assured that this is absolutely safe,' said Pusztai. 'We can eat it all the time. We must eat it all the time. There is no conceivable harm, which can come to us. But as a scientist looking at it, actively working in the field, I find that it's very, very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs. We have to find guinea-pigs in the laboratory.' He continued: 'If I had the choice, I would certainly not eat it till I see at least comparable experimental evidence which we are producing for our genetically modified potatoes. I actually believe that this technology can be made to work for us. And if the genetically modified foods will be shown to be safe, then we have really done a great service to all our fellow citizens. And I very strongly believe in this, and that's one of the main reasons why I demand to tighten up the rules, tighten up the standards.' On the evening of the broadcast, the head of the Rowett Professor James 'congratulated,' Pusztai on his TV appearance, commenting on 'how well Arpad had handled the questions'. The following morning a further press release from the Rowett noticed that a 'range of carefully controlled studies underlie the basis of Dr Pusztai's concerns'..... When Pusztai spoke out in August 1998, the new Labour administration was already beginning to shape government policy for its second term. It was looking for drivers of the economy that could be trusted to deliver the growth and hence results that Labour needed. Hightech industries, such as biotechnology, were to be the central cogs of the engine that would drive the Blairite revolution, and deliver the coveted second term. What Pusztai was saying could literally derail an entire industry and with it many of the hopes and aspirations of New Labour..... Although banned from talking to the press, he was not banned from talking to other scientists outside the Rowett. In February 1999 30 international scientists from 13 countries published a memo supporting Pusztai that was published in the Guardian which sparked a media frenzy over GM. A week after the international scientists backed Pusztai, a secret committee met to counter the growing alarm over GM. Contrary to reassurances by the government that GM food was safe, the minutes show the cross departmental committee formed to deal with the crisis, called MISC6, knew the reassurances were premature. It 'requested' a paper by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and the Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA) on the 'human health implications of GM foods'. What would happen, the minutes asked, if the CMO/CSA's paper 'shows up any doubts? We will be pressurised to ban them immediately. What if it says that we need evidence of long-term effects? This will look like we are not sure about their safety'....However Pusztai and Ewen had submitted a paper to the Lancet, which was finally published in October 1999..... four out of the six reviewers were for publication. 'A clear majority of The Lancet's reviewers were in favour,' says Richard Horton, the editor of the Lancet. Then came the 'threats'. Three days after The Independent article, Richard Horton received a phone call from Professor Lachmann, the former Vice-President and Biological Secretary of The Royal Society and President of the Academy of Medical Sciences. According to Horton, Professor Lachmann threatened that his job would be at risk if he published Pusztai's paper....the fundamental flaw in the scientific establishment's response is that in 1999 everyone agreed that more work was needed. Three years later, that work remains to be undertaken. A scientific body, like The Royal Society, that allocates millions in research funds every year, could have funded a repeat of Pusztai's experiments. Is it that it is easier to say there is no evidence to support his claim, because no evidence exists, than it is to say that no one has looked?"
Media Lens, 15 July 2003

"The initial response [to the TV broadcast regarding the work at the Rowett Institute by Dr Pusztai on GM potatoes] was moderate praise for those concerned but plaudits were soon to be replaced by a complete 'U turn'........The results seemed to be treated as fraudulent enabling the Audit mechanism to be commenced under Biotechnology and Biology Science Research Council rules. Four eminent persons were selected without recourse to Dr Pusztai and he was left defenceless. He was immediately gagged and his great reputation nullified at a stroke.... His friends and colleagues felt a real sense of outrage that Dr Pusztai, a Hungarian refugee from KGB dominated Hungary in 1956, had been treated in this heavy handed manner."
Memorandum submitted by Dr Stanley William Barclay Ewen, Department of Pathology, University of Aberdeen
Select Committee on Science and Technology, House of Commons, 26 February 1999

With Power Draining From New Labour Sainsbury Seeks A New Vehicle For His Influence

"He’s the supermarket baron who has bankrolled the Labour Party for more than a decade, Tony Blair’s most loyal minister, who survived more reshuffles than almost anyone else and has donated £4.5 million under Gordon Brown. Now Lord Sainsbury of Turville is helping David Cameron to prepare for power. The Institute for Government, which he set up last month, is running training sessions for Shadow Cabinet members. His staff are acting as match-makers between senior Tories and the Civil Service. There have been breakfast briefings for Conservative frontbenchers with retired permanent secretaries, and seminars for serving mandarins on how to handle a new government. On the day we meet him at the institute’s white stuccoed house overlooking St James’s Park, 15 permanent secretaries, including Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, have just been there for a meeting, according to the visitors’ book.... It is rather extraordinary that Labour’s biggest donor is now training the Tories.... Senior Conservatives and mandarins have been attending a series of seminars on public spending cuts, organised by the institute....His only motive for giving money to Labour was, he says, public service — the reason he is also spending £15 million of his family fortune on the institute. 'My main interest in life is that the country is run better,' he says. So will he give more money to Labour before the next election? 'I’m sure that’s a question they’re interested in too,' he replies."
Lord Sainsbury turns back on Labour to help David Cameron win power
London Times, 18 July 2009

Would Life Be Any Better Under The Tories?

"A senior member of David Cameron’s frontbench team was last night forced to pull out of an appearance as the guest of honour at a reception for a corporate lobbying firm at the Tory conference. Francis Maude, who recently issued a tough warning to lobbyists that they must clean up their act or face statutory legislation, had agreed to meet 'clients and friends of APCO Worldwide' at a private suite in the Midland Hotel in Manchester on Tuesday. A party spokesman said: 'Francis Maude is not attending the APCO event at conference.' The effort to avoid a potential conflict of interest follows last week’s disclosure in The Times that dozens of Conservative parliamentary candidates have been working as lobbyists, with some admitting to having arranged meetings for clients with frontbenchers. Despite claims by the Conservative leadership that it has been keeping lobbyists at arm’s length, commercial interests are still boasting about their ability to gain access to policymakers. An invitation to the APCO event obtained by The Times said that the firm was 'very pleased that this year we will be joined by Francis Maude MP'. Listing his titles as the Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Leader of the Conservative Party’s implementation team, it added: 'His important brief includes responsibility for prioritising policy objectives across different departmental portfolios should the Conservatives be successful at the next election.' APCO clients include British Airways, foreign governments, HBOS and Microsoft, as well as defence and oil firms. A spokesman said that it always arranged meetings for clients at party conferences where a 'senior member of the respective party is invited to speak'. Many of the private interests will be represented in Manchester next week where, according to one party insider, 'wealth and power is stampeding in a way not seen since the collapse of the Berlin Wall'. Such comments reflect the unease felt by some senior members of the party at the bombardment from firms seeking to influence the next manifesto."
Francis Maude cancels lobbying appearance at Tory conference to avoid conflict of interest
London Times, 3 October 2009

"Dozens of Conservative parliamentary candidates are working in the lobbying industry that seeks to influence their party’s leadership. An investigation by The Times has found that 28 prospective candidates who have a good chance of becoming Tory MPs are working as lobbyists or public relations consultants on behalf of businesses and other interests. More than a quarter got their jobs after being selected to fight seats. Several acknowledged that they had set up meetings for clients with Shadow ministers, MPs and officials. More said that they had been asked to provide advice on the party’s direction. A few admitted to having pressed clients’ cases to Tory frontbenchers. The disclosure challenges David Cameron’s promise to usher in a 'new politics'. More than a fifth of his 150 candidates most likely to win seats for the first time will have done public affairs work, although a handful have since left the industry. By contrast, only seven Labour and three Liberal Democrat prospective candidates with realistic hopes of victory have jobs in public affairs or communications. The influence of paid consultants was thrown into sharp relief this year when President Obama announced that he would block the revolving door through which lobbyists moved in and out of US administrations. Neither Labour nor the Conservatives have issued any such edict....Last night the party declined to comment on the disclosure that so many candidates were working in the industry or the evidence that lobbying firms were keen to build bridges with a party on the cusp of power. Senior Conservative sources have told The Times of their unease over how former party advisers have moved into lobbying before the election. Several firms now advertise their Tory credentials; others have been hired to change policies on gambling and home improvement packs."
Hired guns take aim at target Tory seats
London Times, 25 September 2009

"President Obama spelled it out on his first morning in office. 'As of today lobbyists will be subject to stricter limits than in any period of history,' he said. An executive order put a two-year ban between working as a lobbyist and in his Administration, blocking the revolving door between the two worlds. In Westminster, successive governments have seen promises to clean up the muddy patch where politics meets business overrun by scandal. In 1994, the cash for questions affair rocked the Conservatives. The lobbyist Ian Greer was reported to have said that 'you need to rent an MP just like you rent a London taxi'. In 1997, Tony Blair said: 'One of the reasons we were elected was because people believed there was a need to clean up standards in public life and we will do that.' But political relationships with the lobbyists did not remain as pristine as Martin Bell’s white suits. By 1998, Derek Draper, a former adviser to Peter Mandelson and lobbyist, was boasting of friends in high places. 'There are 17 people who count ... To say that I am intimate with every one of them is the understatement of the century,' he told The Observer. His departure from lobbying did not stem calls for reform. But enforcing a code proved difficult. In his 2000 mayoral campaign, Ken Livingstone said: 'No lobbyists will be granted passes to the GLA headquarters, nor be allowed to meet with GLA staff.' Two months later, he was forced to back down and City Hall was soon inundated with practitioners. But a shift in power signifies a shift in alliances. Today, anyone with a working knowledge of the Conservatives is in demand. The Tories know the dangers and are backing greater transparency of lobbyists’ client lists. They have not, however, followed Mr Obama. The President’s order created a shortage of staff — his Administration has empty seats. The revolving door can hit back."
Shift in power signifies a shift in alliances for lobbyists
London Times, 25 September 2009

GM Food - 'No Obvious Ill Effect'
Don't Look, Don't Ask

"Americans have consumed food derived from GM crops for the past decade, with no obvious ill effect on public health"
GM crops: not against nature
London Times, 14 August 2008

"The media has inflamed public fears about the risks of genetically modified crops for human health and biodiversity. But many responsible scientists agree on the need for more research to identify potential long-term problems....Even among ardent supporters of GM foods, however, calls are being increasingly heard for more research on health risks, and for the introduction of monitoring systems that would allow the early detection of any long-term problems.... several scientists say there is also a strong argument for labelling to facilitate epidemiological studies to detect any increases in allergies or diseases that might be linked to GM foods. The need for careful monitoring is urgent, given that the introduction of thousands of GM foods on a global scale appears imminent, says Suzanne Wuerthele, a risk assessor at the US Environmental Protection Agency, speaking in a personal capacity. This view is supported by Ben Miflin, former director of the Institute of Arable Crops at Rothamsted, near London, who is a proponent of the potential benefits of genetic modification of crops. He argues that, under current monitoring conditions, any unanticipated health impact of such foods would need to be a 'monumental disaster' to be detectable."
Long-term effect of GM crops serves up food for thought
Nature, Volume 398:651, April 22, 1999

"The only published trial of GM foods on humans was carried out by Newcastle University [in the UK] for the Food Standards Agency, and published in 2004. It was designed to study what happens to transgenic DNA in the human gut and whether it could pass out and enter bacteria in the body, a long-standing concern. It found that .... portions of transgenic DNA had ‘horizontally’ transferred from GM food into the intestinal bacteria of some of the volunteers, which was a shocking discovery with implications for the long-term impacts of GM consumption. Just as shocking, however, was the fact that at the time the FSA chose not to mention this key finding in its communications on the study, thus widely giving the impression that horizontal gene transfer had not been identified in the study."
GM Crops - The Health Effects
Soil Association, February 2008

"For the first time, it has been proved that bacteria in the human gut can take up DNA from genetically modified food....Harry Gilbert and colleagues at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne made the discovery, after feeding volunteers with a burger and a milk shake containing GM soya. To see how the GM food was dealt with by different parts of the digestive system, he gave the food to 12 healthy volunteers and to seven volunteers who had previously had their colons surgically removed....Crucially, in three of the seven, he found that bacteria had taken up GM DNA from the soya."
GM crop DNA found in human gut bugs
New Scientist, 18 July 2002

"British scientific researchers have demonstrated for the first time that genetically modified DNA material from crops is finding its way into human gut bacteria, raising potentially serious health questions. Although the genetically modified material in most GM foods poses no health problems, many of the controversial crops have antibiotic-resistant marker genes inserted into them at an early stage in development. If genetic material from these marker genes can also find its way into the human stomach, as experiments at Newcastle university suggest is likely, then people's resistance to widely used antibiotics could be compromised....Michael Antonio, a senior lecturer in molecular genetics at King's College Medical School, London, last night said that the work was significant. 'To my knowledge they have demonstrated clearly that you can get GM plant DNA in the gut bacteria. Everyone used to deny that this was possible.'"
GM genes found in human gut
Guardian, 17 July 2002

"The 35S cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) promoter is commonly used to drive transgene expression in the genetically engineered (GE) crop plants that have been commercialized so far. Whether, and how far, the 35S promoter might be active in mammalian cells has been scientifically unsettled and controversial. Very recently it was established that the 35S promoter is transcriptionally active following transient reporter gene transfections in continuous cell lines of human [J Biotechnol 103:197–202, 2003] and hamster ovary [Environ Biosafety Res 3:41–47, 2004] fibroblasts. The initial exposure of a human organism to DNA from GE food takes place in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). Hence, we have now investigated the promoter capacity of 35S in human enterocyte-like cells. We constructed expression vectors with 35S promoter inserted in front of two reporter genes encoding firefly luciferase and green fluorescent protein (GFP), respectively, and performed transient transfection experiments in the human enterocyte-like cell line Caco-2. It was demonstrated that the 35S CaMV promoter was able to drive the expression of both reporter genes to significant levels, although the protein expression levels might seem modest compared to those obtained with the strong promoters derived from human cytomegalo virus (hCMV) and simian virus 40 (SV40). Furthermore, computer-based searches of the 35S CaMV DNA sequence for putative mammalian transcription factor binding motifs gave a high number of hits. Some of the identified motifs indicate that transcriptional activation by the 35S CaMV promoter may be stronger in other human and animal cell types than in those investigated so far."
The 35S CaMV plant virus promoter is active in human enterocyte-like cells
European Food Research and Technology, Volume 222, Numbers 1-2, January 2006

"We present for the first time a comparative analysis of blood and organ system data from trials with rats fed three main commercialized genetically modified (GM) maize (NK 603, MON 810, MON 863), which are present in food and feed in the world. NK 603 has been modified to be tolerant to the broad spectrum herbicide Roundup and thus contains residues of this formulation. MON 810 and MON 863 are engineered to synthesize two different Bt toxins used as insecticides. Approximately 60 different biochemical parameters were classified per organ and measured in serum and urine after 5 and 14 weeks of feeding. GM maize-fed rats were compared first to their respective isogenic or parental non-GM equivalent control groups. This was followed by comparison to six reference groups, which had consumed various other non-GM maize varieties. We applied nonparametric methods, including multiple pairwise comparisons with a False Discovery Rate approach. Principal Component Analysis allowed the investigation of scattering of different factors (sex, weeks of feeding, diet, dose and group). Our analysis clearly reveals for the 3 GMOs new side effects linked with GM maize consumption, which were sex- and often dose-dependent. Effects were mostly associated with the kidney and liver, the dietary detoxifying organs, although different between the 3 GMOs. Other effects were also noticed in the heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic system. We conclude that these data highlight signs of hepatorenal toxicity, possibly due to the new pesticides specific to each GM corn. In addition, unintended direct or indirect metabolic consequences of the genetic modification cannot be excluded."
de Vendômois JS, Roullier F, Cellier D, Séralini GE. - A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health
Int J Biol Sci 2009; 5:706-726

The Testing Of GM Foods In The United States Is Voluntary

"Biotechnology companies can market genetically engineered (GE) foods without notifying the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or obtaining its approval, thanks to regulatory gaps in a system that consumer and environmental groups today asked Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson to fix.... HHS could begin fixing that system, the groups say, by finalizing a rule stalled at the FDA for more than a year. The period for public comment on the rule ended a year ago today. The proposed rule would require premarket notification of bioengineered foods. And while the rule would not require government approval for GE foods, consumer groups say the rule would be a small step in the right direction.... Currently, the FDA only reviews safety data on biotech crops provided by seed companies on a voluntary basis.... 'The public shouldn’t have to rely entirely on the word of a big biotech company when it comes to the safety of food,' [said Gregory Jaffe, director of CSPI’s biotechnology project] 'But under the current rules, companies can bypass the FDA with impunity.'..."
CSPI Press Release, 3 May 2002

The Documentary Most Americans
Will Likely Never See

"French journalist Marie-Monique Robin takes a scattershot approach in her exposé of Monsanto, an American multinational chemical and biotechnology company responsible for some of the most toxic and environmentally damaging products ever sold. Monsanto's list of accomplishments includes production of Agent Orange, PCBs, recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone and genetically modified crops such as Roundup Ready soybeans ....One of her interviewees, author and activist Jeremy Rifkin, talks about how 'we were trying to say these things [GMOs] should be considered food additives.' They weren't. In a 1987 film clip, then vice-president George Bush is seen touring a Monsanto bioengineering lab. Should Monsanto encounter any difficulties in winning approvals for its products, he tells his hosts, they can 'call me. We're in the de-reg business.' Nothing was to get in the way of the United States becoming a world leader in biotechnology. ..... the film documents the passage of numerous Monsanto executives back and forth between the corporation and U.S. regulating agencies. The documentary visits scientists in Britain and Canada who mysteriously lose their jobs after making findings injurious to Monsanto. The company is shown to have falsified scientific findings....Now that The World According to Monsanto, which aired on European television this year, is available in English, it might reach the American public. But the likelihood is that this company will continue to do what it has always done: exactly what it wants."
The World According to Monsanto: A toxic tour
Toronto Star, 1 August 2008

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'The World According To Monsanto'
March 2008 Franco-German TV Channel ARTE Documentary
To view English language internet version of this extraordinary 109 minute exposé on YouTube Click Here

(or if it gets taken down just Google 'World According To Monsanto' to find it elsewhere)
European Format DVD is also available for purchase in English
Click Here

Interview with programme maker Marie-Monique Robin - Click Here

View Documentary Broadcast Excerpts On Line - Click Here

American Format DVD Now Available For Purchase In USA
Click Here

"Monsanto's controversial past combines some of the most toxic products ever sold with misleading reports, pressure tactics, collusion, and attempted corruption. They now race to genetically engineer (and patent) the world's food supply, which profoundly threatens our health, environment, and economy. Combining secret documents with first-hand accounts by victims, scientists, and politicians, this widely praised film exposes why Monsanto has become the world's poster child for malignant corporate influence in government and technology. 109 minutes"

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"With the exception of commercial (for-profit) showings in theaters  and post secondary institutions (colleges and universities), permission is granted for individuals and groups to show home DVD of The World According to Monsanto in public, whether a fee is charged or not.  Please view the Detailed Policy. Inform others! Organize a public showing or house party. Download the Monsanto Film Showing Guide to help you with organizing, and channeling audience enthusiasm into effective community action."

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