|From genocide revisionists to biotech apologists – pt 2 (6/4/2004)|
This week marks the tenth anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide and we're taking this opportunity to take a closer look at those who led the revisionist charge in the English-speaking world - the Living Marxism (LM) faction. (see Genocide? What genocide? From genocide revisionists to biotech apologists http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3164)
LM's lengthy campaign on the issue was memorably described by one commentator as, the articulation of a lie perpetuated by other more powerful interests. Nearly a decade on the LM network continues to articulate lies on behalf of powerful interests, but it has now made promoting biotechnology its central preoccupation. Disturbingly, it no longer promotes its agenda just from the fringes of society but with the open support of major multinational companies and from within the very heart of the science-media establishment.
Take the 2-day Genes & Society Festival which took place in London in 2003. This LM-network directed event took place with sponsorship from biotech giant Pfizer and with assistance from CropLife International, a global federation led by companies such as BASF, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta.
Among the contributors was the German author of the 'Lexicon of Genetic Engineering', Thomas Deichmann. Deichmann chides the media over the inaccuracy of their reporting on GM. Prior to his reinvention as a GM expert, Deichmann was an apologist for crimes against humanity.
Thomas Deichmann - a GM WATCH profile
Thomas Deichmann is the editor of Novo, the German sister publication to Living Marxism (LM), the monthly review of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP).
He has also co-authored a book on biotechnology with Thilo Spahl, Das Populäre Lexikon der Gentechnik: Überraschende Fakten von Allergie über Killerkartoffel bis Zelltherapie (The Popular Lexicon of Genetic Engineering: Surprising Facts from Allergy and Killer Potatoes to Cell Therapy), which has been published by Novo.
In April 2003 he was one of the speakers at a Genes and Society 'festival' in London organised by the the Institute of Ideas, where he was involved in debate on GM crops and the Third World.
Deichmann has also contributed articles to Novo and Spiked on Percy Schmeisser, the Canadian famer who has been in a long-running legal battle with Monsanto over patent issues and GM crops. In his Spiked piece Deichamnn chides the German media over what he claims is the inaccuracy of their reporting: 'there is a striking difference between the issues raised by the case and the way Schmeiser has been represented in sections of the German media - which indicates that, in the GM debate in Europe, scaremongering often has more purchase than science.'
This is not the first time Deichmann has taken the media to task. Prior to his reinvention as a GM expert, Deichmann was best known for an article on Bosnia he contributed to LM, in which he accused British journalists of fabricating evidence of imprisonment and atrocities at the Trnopolje camp in Bosnia. As a result of the article, LM was sued out of existence with the court finding, as did war crimes tribunals at the Hague, that Trnopolje was 'a camp where Muslims were undoubtedly imprisoned' and where 'many were beaten, tortured, raped and killed by their Serb guards'. (High stakes in battle over Serbian guilt)
Deichmann also published an interview in LM with the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, who had by then been charged with genocide and crimes against humanity (see Poison in the well of history). Deichmann also put in an appearance as the final defence witness at the trial in the Hague of Dusko Tadic. The war crimes tribunal clearly did not find Deichmann's evidence convincing as it convicted Tadic of crimes against humanity, including 'killings, beatings and forced transfers' of civilians, as well as a particularly horrific sexual mutilation. These crimes were found to have been committed in Trnopolje as well as at two other detention camps, Omarska and Keraterm. (see the Tadic judgement)
Deichmann also played a leading part in the RCP/LM front organisation the London International Research Exchange (LIRE), directed by fellow Living Marxism contributor Joan Phillips. LIRE and Living Marxism worked together to deny the genocidal nature of the conflict in Bosnia and to present Serbia as merely the West's latest whipping boy - a victim of Western imperialism. (The Serbian Unity Congress and the Serbian Lobby: A Study of Contemporary Revisionism and Denial)
One of Deichmann and Phillip's principal targets was the Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Roy Gutman. In a letter to the journal Foreign Policy, Michael Sells points out how Gutman's award-winning articles 'ultimately forced the closing of several notorious concentration camp complexes (Omarska-Keraterm, Manjaca, Trnoplilje).' Sells notes that if those who sought to undermine Gutman's credibility had succeeded, Omarska, the worst of the camps, 'may have operated for months, even years. How many would have perished there: 50,000, 80,000, 100,000?' Sells draws a parallel with the second world war, 'The systematic killing of Jews in WW2 was known as early as 1942, but denials - very similar to the Joan Phillips reports - allowed people to persuade themselves that it couldn't be true, until it was too late.'
According to German journalist Paul Stoop of the Berlin Tagesspiegel nobody had ever heard of Deichmann before the editor of Novo reinvented himself as a fully-fledged Bosnia expert (The Guardian, 12 March 1997) . As the battle of ideas over Bosnia has receded, Deichmann has been reinvented as an expert commentator on biotechnology.
In effect, Deichmann has been transformed from an expert exposer of 'myths' about Serb nationalist atrocities into an expert apologist for biotechnology. The platforms that have made this repackaging possible - Novo, Spiked and the IoI - are all part of the same network. However, when the IoI present him as, 'Thomas Deichmann editor, Novo magazine and co-author of The Popular Lexicon of Gene Technology', there is nothing to indicate that Novo is a sister publication of LM or that Deichmann's book was published by Novo's publishing house. This is an incestous and self-perpetuating world of undisclosed affiliations in which truth is consistently subjugated to ideology.
The ideological position of the Living Marxism network to which Deichmann belongs is that it is vital to support genetic engineering in order to champion 'science' and 'human endeavour', and that all restictions on genetic technologies or big business should be strenuously opposed