GENTECH archive


Re: Wytze - please forward to Gentech

> Rick
> Thanks for this and I'm sorry that you feel I missed the real message of
> your article. On the broader point you raise, it would surely be
> somewhat fairer to compare like with like, ie scientists with scientists
> (whether supportive of GE, critical or whatever) and non-scientists with
> non-scientists (eg lobbyists, industry spin doctors, activists etc)
> Scientists, after all, claim to be in a special category of 'knowledge'
> in relation to certain issues and are thus often able to gain priveleged
> access and treatment by the political elite, the media, the farming
> community and the wider public, precisely because they are taken to be
> operating at a higher level of discourse. So I think it's a bit of a cop
> out, to be honest, to excuse the standard of discourse of pro-GE
> scientists, as illustrated in the article (eg making huge claims for GE
> on the basis of not only unpublished research but research which may
> very probably not even exist) by saying, in effect, that their behaviour
> is not as bad as that of some activists.
> You also make absolutely no reference to the role of industry and its
> supporters in all this, as if only scientists and activists featured in
> the disinformation equation. The truth is, as Steve Sprinkel has
> eloquently pointed out in correspondence with you previously, that GE
> has been promoted right down the line from the likes of Avery and his
> fellow corporate media columnists, syndicated I believe througout the US
> media and farming press, to the local farm bureaus and ag radio etc. The
> pro-GE role of public servants is yet another element in the equation
> that needs to be considered. I'm quite certain which side wins in
> quantative terms in the disinformation stakes - the problem for the
> biotech brigade is their lack of success rather than their lack of activity.
> And, by the way, are pro-GE scientists, bent on sound science and
> rational debate, busy lacerating the likes of Avery for their bogus
> research and wild assertions? No, they're busy repeating them in their
> speeches and comments to press (eg Alan Gray, Ben Mifflin in the UK), or
> even citing them in their papers (3 Avery citations in Trewavas's MUCH
> FOOD, MANY PROBLEMS Nature 402, 231 [1999]).
> So my view, I'm afraid, remains that when it comes to 'sound science'
> and 'integrity' the concern is decidedly more partisan than universal.
> Jonathan
> > ---------------- Begin Forwarded Message ----------------
> > Date:        25/11/99 12:01 pm
> > Received:    25/11/99 10:12 am
> > From:        Rick Roush,
> > To:
> > CC:          MichaelP, papadop@PEAK.ORG
> >    
> >
> > Especially for Jonathan Matthews of Norfolk  Genetic Info Network
> >
> > Dear Mr Matthews:
> >
> > As flattered as I am that you have decided to feature one of my articles
> > in
> > your writings, even playing on the title for your own, I was surprised to
> > see our paper described as "a recent pro-GM article in Nature
> > Biotechnology".  While I have come to realise that any correction of
> > misinformation spread by the anti-GM industry is interpreted to be pro-GM,
> > and that any one who dares to point out errors is cast as the enemy, our
> > intent was to encourage rational debate on both sides. Even after
> > re-reading my own paper, I don't see it as pro-GM, but pro-thought.  I'm
> > sorry that you missed the main message.
> >
> > You alledge that ours "is but one of many recent calls for strict
> > scientific rectitude in response to reports that are perceived as raising
> > concerns about GM." In fact, we were asked by Nature Biotechnology to
> > comment on three papers.  We found two of them wanting, while highlighting
> > the strengths of the third. We were moved to write about what these cases
> > implied for the use of science in public policy.
> >
> > In every case, the public deserves the facts, whether presented by
> > scientists or Greenpeace, FOE, and the Natural Law Party.  For me what is
> > really at stake here is the role of science and rational debate, and if it
> > can be abused in this case, what about at other times when the truth is
> > even more important?
> >
> > And in my humble opinion, Greenpeace, FOE, and the Natural Law Party can
> > hardly claim the moral high ground in presenting a rational debate to the
> > public. They have spread far more anti-GM misrepresentations than the
> > biotech supporters have done in the other direction.
> >
> > Rick
> >
> > ----------------- End Forwarded Message -----------------
> >
> > ----------------- End Forwarded Message -----------------