More on the attack on GM Watch (8/10/2007)

1.PETER MELCHETT TO SHANE MORRIS (in reply to item 2)

NOTE: For the background see:
Award-winning paper 'a flagrant fraud'


Dear Shane Morris,

As you requested, I have read the 'open letter' you sent me.

You say you did not try to close down any website, but simply 'asked for defamatory allegations against me to be removed'. I assume that these are the same 'allegations' that you had yourself reproduced (the article and the title) some time ago on your own blog, saying at the time that the supposed author 'still refuses to claim I committed fraud'.

As you know, GM Watch did recently change the title that you now object to, without any admission of fault or liability, because it was the simplest way to get their site back up.

I understand that you also made legal threats against GM Watch's web host over what you considered 'continued and persistent acts of defamation'. This included their referring to you as a 'lobbyist', their saying your research was 'deliberately skewed', and their saying that they found the evidence you had presented for the 'wormy sweet corn' sign having been removed unconvincing. Such statements you claimed were 'defamatory untruths' and were made in breach of their web host's usage agreement. Yet I have not heard that the ISPs of other websites which have used identical - or even more robust - language have been asked to remove these statements. For instance, on three science sites you are in turn: described as a 'lobbyist'; you are accused of 'making untrue statements about the 'wormy corn' sign being removed'; and your research is dismissed as 'obviously rigged'.


In addition, the current edition of the magazine Private Eye quotes a leading expert on research ethics at Cambridge University, Dr Richard Jennings, who describes your research as 'flagrant fraud'. The same article refers to your 'heavy-handed libel threats'.

The other group you have charged with defamation, GM Free Ireland, can answer you for themselves, but I understand that they did not apologise to you, despite a public statement you put out that implied that they did. I also understand that you wrote to them in August saying, in part: 'You will note that the GM Watch website in the UK has been disabled. As a matter of urgency please remove the (sic) all the GM Watch material on GM Free Ireland's website that you have reproduced in connection with me.....If this is not done by close of business today, August 17, 2007, I will have to further instruct my legal representatives on the matter'.

You may underestimate the impact that the threat of legal action by a Government employee has on small, voluntary organisations. I do not.

I am afraid that I am always reluctant to debate with people who resort to personal abuse, and I note that on your blog you said the following about Dr MacRae, after Dr MacRae stated that he had seen the 'wormy corn sign' at the farm store your original paper was about: 'has GMWatch (or their big funders) bought lies in Canada??? In a desperate attempt to gain creditability (sic) GMWatch has rolled out a anti-GM consultant, Rob McRae to contradict me. McRae is a long time paid lackey of Greenpeace. In a hilarious farce McRae claims, without any evidence, all sorts of things about his visits to Birbank Farms......Just shows that anyone can be bought...oh well, I ain't going to argue cos I'm sure he is 110% correct!!!(wink)'. I'm afraid I do not recognise this sort of personal abuse as part of a reasonable debate, nor the sort of behaviour the Canadian Government should be associated with.

In my letter to them, I asked the Canadian Government to do three things - disassociate itself from your paper, encourage the British Food Journal to withdraw your paper, and to disassociate itself from attempts by you as one of their employees to undermine the wishes of the democratically elected Irish Government. I still think it is reasonable to ask the Canadian Government to disassociate itself from your research and subsequent threats, given that your employment by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada suggests to me and others that you are speaking on their behalf.

Yours sincerely,
Peter Melchett


Dear Peter,
I hope you take the time to read this letter, as I am afraid you have been terribly misled.
Your recent suggestion in a letter to my employer (below) that I have 'tried to close down one of the most respected websites dealing with information about GM, farming and food' is a lie. In fact, I simply and politely asked for defamatory allegations against me to be removed. As a scientist and a private citizen this is my right. The subsequent failure of others to remove defamatory comments and any actions taken thereafter by their internet service providers is hardly my business.
To equip you with all the facts I would add that the websites in question (i.e. GM WATCH and GM FREE Ireland) have removed their defamatory remarks and one has issued the following retraction that states:
Gmfreeireland.org would like to correct a claim previously made that Shane Morris made 'fraudulent scientific claims'. Gm freeireland.org acknowledges such a claim has no legal basis and would like to point out that:
- No findings of fraud were ever made by the British Food Journal in regards to the claims in the publication in question.
- The paper in question remains published as a valid piece of scholarly research.
- The academic award for the paper remains valid.
- A letter of explanation on the matter was published in the British Food Journal 2006 Vol 108, Issue 8 (accessed Sept 8, 2007)
Also your suggestions that I, as an Irish citizen, via the expression of my scientific opinion am 'undermining the wishes of a democratically elected government', denies my democratic right to freedom of speech. This is something I find very surprising from you. Open democratic scientific debate may not be something you respect but it is something I and my trade union hold dear.
Kindest regards,
Shane Morris
(Private citizen and scientist)

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