WEEKLY WATCH number 109 (27/1/2005)

from Claire Robinson, WEEKLY WATCH editor

Dear all:

Important news from almost every continent this week. Look out, in particular, for an incisive new article from Dr Ignacio Chapela and John Garcia entitled, "A New Chapter in Biotech History is not Written in English".

They write, "For English-speakers, the history of the transgenic transformation of the Biosphere is 'going underground', and the battles of resistance are slipping out of record in a multitude of tongues, just as the transgenic infiltration of the environment moves from the familiar maize, soybean, canola and cotton and into the innumerable species of real-existing biology..."

Chapela and Garcia look at what is currently happening in Mexico and how it is part of the planned "transgenization of the developing world". (THE AMERICAS)

LORD OF THE SEEDS was The Economist's headline this week, reporting Monsanto's billion dollar acquisition of seed company SEMINIS (COMPANY NEWS).

And a new ActionAid report shows how the power of multinational companies like Monsanto threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of poor farmers and undermines basic rights.

And funny how the Royal Society suffers from selective blindness. When it comes to climate change, they can spot "a lobby of professional sceptics" in the form of the Scientific Alliance. But when it comes to GM, they are eager to support such lobbyists in their pro-GM stance and never dream of questioning their motives or funding. We have the lowdown. (LOBBYWATCH)

Claire [email protected]
www.gmwatch.org / www.lobbywatch.org



President of the UK Royal Society Bob May has warned in The Guardian about lobbyists targeting the UK to promote scepticism over climate change. May says a "a lobby of professional sceptics who opposed action to tackle climate change" is turning its attention to Britain because of its high profile in the debate.

This is an interesting development, because the Royal Society has been only too happy to work hand in glove with such lobbyists over the GM issue.

The lobby group identified by the Guardian as the centre of concern - the Scientific Alliance - has an "advisory forum" stuffed full of avidly pro-GM scientists.

In fact, advisor to the Scientific Alliance, Prof Anthony Trewavas, is not only a Fellow of the Royal Society but has been listed by the RS in its media directory for journalists wishing to check out their science stories.

Like Trewavas, several of the Scientific Alliance's advisors are also advisors to the lobby group Sense About Science with which the Royal Society and a number of its leading Fellows have had extremely close relations.

A list of some of the Scientific Alliance's advisors with links to their GM WATCH profiles, or profiles of the organisations to which they connect, is at
They include Profs Vivian Moses, Anthony Trewavas, and Michael Wilson.

The following comes from Bernardo V. Lopez's (Upshot) column in the Philippine publication Business World (20 January):

The Filipino farmer who spoke in support of GMOs in San Francisco and who hit the front page news was given a junket and a host of other benefits by the GMO multinationals. Talk of costly but effective PR. They can afford it. But people are not born yesterday. They know.
Bernie Lopez is almost certainly referring to Edwin Paraluman who was used recently by the industry-backed GM lobby group ISAAA in its annual media fest about GM crop expansion around the globe. Paraluman turns up with surprising regularity. Last autumn, he popped up supporting GMOs at the conference: "Feeding the World: The Moral Imperative of Biotechnology", held in the Gregorian University in Rome. Father Sean McDonagh, who was there, commented:

"One of the farmers, Mr Edwin Y. Paraluman, is from Mindanao. I was interested to hear his fulsome praise for GE crops which he is growing in the vicinity of General Santos City. I lived with T'boli people in that area for over 12 years and I never heard of SARGEN, the non-government organisation which Mr Paraluman chairs... I am familiar with many farming organisations in the Philippines... It is legitimate to ask why some of the numerous independent farmers' organizations in the Philippines were not asked to send representatives to the Conference?"
More of Monsanto's farmers: http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=4826

Anyone 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").

And 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 Drayson has 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 GBP2m 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


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