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GE - Lord Sainsbury's GM World Tour 98

Lord Sainsbury's GM World Tour 98 

SLOW BOAT TO CHINA? Lord Sainsbury's GM World Tour '98 
Friends of the Earth has received evidence of Science Minister 
Lord Sainsbury's involvement in discussions of GM crop links 
between Britain, China and Korea. The news comes only days after 
Lord Sainsbury claimed that he had no role in Government in 
relation to GM food policy and that he had "left the room" when 
this was discussed.
The newssheet of the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council 
(BBSRC) includes a report from BBSRC Chief Executive Roy Baker. It 
states that, in September 1998
"I was pleased to accompany the Minister for Science, Lord 
Sainsbury, on his recent visit to Korea and China. The 
ministerial discussions were an important milestone in UK links 
with Korea ... Biotechnology was an important feature of the 
ministerial in China. A UK/China collaborative fund is to be 
launched, that will include biotechnology as one of three priority 
During the Chinese trip, visits were made to various biotech 
bodies in China, including the Institute of Plant Physiology in 
Shanghai. In Korea, Professor Baker reports signing an agreement 
with the Korean Institute for Biosciences and Biotechnology, and a 
photograph of Lord Sainsbury and Professor Baker at the signing 
ceremony is printed in the newsletter.
An internal office note from the BBSRC, sent to Friends of the 
Earth, refers to a mission by the BBSRC "with FCO sponsorship, to 
China. The focus is on genetically modified plants ... this is a 
follow-up to the visit by Professor Baker and Lord Sainsbury last 
September and will feed into a ministerial meeting between the UK 
and China in March." The BBSRC Newsletter offers further 
information on the nature of the visits, from Ms Fiona Clouder 
Richards, Head of International Relations at the BBSRC (Tel: 01793 
FOE has previously revealed Lord Sainsbury's personal links with 
the ISAAA, a body funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation 
(which Lord Sainsbury controls), the BBSRC, Monsanto, Novartis, 
and AgrEvo. The aims of the ISAAA include "the transfer and 
delivery of appropriate biotechnology applications to developing 
countries and the building of
partnerships between institutions in the South and the private 
sector in the North " 
Commenting, FOE Executive Director Charles Secrett said:
"Last week, we were told that Lord Sainsbury leaves the room when 
GM food is discussed. Yet here we have evidence of his 
ministerial visits overseas to promote biotechnology. We need the 
full details of these visits - in particular we need to know 
whether and when GM food and crops were discussed. Did Lord 
Sainsbury run out of the door whenever the subject came up? I am 
writing to Tony Blair today asking that full details of these 
visits be made public. It may well be that much of the content of 
these visits was beneficial, for example in discussions on 
biosafety. However, given Lord Sainsbury's personal interests in 
GM companies, as well as his involvement with the ISAAA, the 
visist may be yet further evidence of an apparent conflict of 
interest. Lord Sainsbury may the right man, but he is certainly 
in the wrong job. Mr Blair must act to resolve this mess at 

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