GENTECH archive


frankenfoods: BBC sez: Clinton pressured brit head of state

The BBC is a curious organization. It has never been privatized. Since its
creation in the 1920's it has been a corporation funded by listener
license fees;  but in spite of its governmental links, it has always
claimed its editorial policies to be independent of the govenment. [I
think there was a time when Mrs. Thatcher acted to put the BBC in its
place, but it still astounds me when I see/hear the difference in content
between the BBC and the U$  National Public Radio  in its news offerings.]

Anyway, today, in so many words the BBC accuses the brit. Prime Minister
of taking a position favouring genetically manipulated
food simply because he was personally persuaded to do so by Pres. Clinton.

Apart from reading what's posted below, take a look at 

BBC News | Food under the microscope | Special report: Food under the

This covers several topics - it looks as though it will remain available
for some time

BBC (London)Wednesday, February 17, 1999 Published at 19:04 GMT

GM foods: What's the hurry ?

By Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby

Science is generally a better guide than superstition, and the message
from many - though not all - scientists in the debate over genetically
modified food is that they could be an enormous benefit to humanity.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, for instance,
"rejects the arguments of those calling for a blanket moratorium".

And while English Nature, the government's wildlife adviser, wants a
moratorium for at least three years on certain sorts of GM crops, it also
rejects any suggestion of a blanket ban.

What does unite many scientists is a belief that there should be more
research, and that that will take time.


So why does the government insist on pushing ahead with GM foods without
conceding that a pause of a few years could help everyone?

The government is not in fact united. Environment Minister Michael Meacher
is noticeably more cautious than some of his colleagues.

One of the most combative is the Cabinet Office Minister, Dr Jack
Cunningham. But he is involved in a dialogue with organic groups like the
Soil Association.

He has not so far changed his mind. But it would probably make little
difference if he did.

The driving force for pushing ahead with GM technology straight away is
the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Last year Mr Blair is reported to have
had a telephone conversation with President Clinton about GMOs.

[But an official source] "absolutely and categorically denies that Bill
Clinton has ever raised the subject of GMOs with Tony Blair".

But two  [other]sources have told BBC News Online that they believe such a
conversation did take place and that it led to the prime minister changing
his mind on GMOs.

He is now resolute in arguing that there is no need for a moratorium, or
for any other policy change.

And the government welcomes Monsanto and the other biotechnology firms.


But there may be another reason for it refusing to change its line.

It is estimated that 60% of products on supermarket shelves already
contain GM crop products.

They may well be as safe as their supporters say they are, although the
BSE scandal should have taught politicians that "absolutely safe" is a
phrase they should never, ever use.

But if the government now conceded that a moratorium was necessary, it
would in effect be admitting that its confidence had been dented.

Politicians say the science supports them. To an extent, it does.

But the scientists are not unanimous. That is no way to restore public

And a question mark remains over the government's independence of pressure
from Washington.

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