|Biotech corporations use fear to kill off "inconvenient" research (10/3/2007)|
An interview just published on a Russian news-based web site (1) has provided chilling evidence of how the biotechnology industry kills off "inconvenient" GM research and ensures that independent scientists are silenced.
The subject of the interview was Dr Irina Ermakova, whose published results arising from GM soya feeding studies hit the world headlines in 2005 (2). She showed that rats fed on GM soya had organ damage, a reduced bodyweight, a vastly increased death rate compared with rats in the control group, and also a dramatic decline in fertility linked to the GM feed. Immediately the GM industry and its supporters in GM regulatory bodies around the world dismissed her work as flawed and accused her of manipulating her results and of being a green activist. There were echoes of the vilification in 1998-99 of Dr Arpad Pusztai and the brutal attacks on his research findings by the scientific establishment, including the Royal Society (3). It is to her credit that Dr Ermakova is still fighting to defend her integrity and to repeat and improve her feeding experiments.
The article on the "MK" website reveals how independent researchers working in the GM field are systematically marginalized, threatened, intimidated, patronized, denied access to raw materials for their experiments, and starved of funds when they find things that are "inconvenient" to the GM corporations. Some are simply "encouraged" to move into other areas of work. Other scientists who have been targetted include Ignacio Chapela, Mae-wan Ho, Terje Traavik, Judy Carman, and Manuela Malatesta (4). The biotechnology firms operate in a shadowy way, often out of sight, leaving the dirty work to "respectable " academics and scientists who act nonetheless as stooges for the GM industry. Personal vilification via the pro-GM web sites and blogs is also par for the course.
Commenting for GM Free Cymru, Dr Brian John said: "We are pleased to have assisted in bringing this Russian interview to the notice of the English-speaking world. That having been said, we were genuinely shocked by the information emerging through the interview about the tactics employed by Monsanto and other corporations in pursuit of their aim to push as many GM crops and foods into the market as possible, whatever the consequences may be."
Some quotes from the interview are appended below.
Dr Brian John, tel: + 44 1239-820470
"The authorities rapidly stopped the financing of my experiment. As soon as the work started, there was pressure on the Institute from the GM product lobby. And they recommended to me that I should not persist with this study. I was also told that in this interview I should not mention the full name of the Institute where I work."
"Two academicians, lobbyists for the GM industry, approached the presidium of RAS [Russian Academy of Science] with a requirement that I should terminate my studies. This was connected with the fact that there is already a large flow of transgenic products into our market, that nothing can be done to stop it, and that it is not desirable to disturb people. Their position is this: you are being targeted, and we will stand to one side."
"That money (for new research) is already allocated, but our Institute has rejected our application for investigations on this theme. So now studies will continue in other scientific research institutes."
"It is almost impossible to obtain funding for such studies by grants, but even if it is possible to find resources and do the work, it is almost impossible to publish the results in the peer- reviewed scientific publications. Companies refuse to allow GM material for studies, or they require instead complete control over the experiments. When farmers buy in a companyís GM seeds, they have to sign a contract saying that they may not pass them on for research purposes. "
"I have obtained many letters from scientists from the different parts of the world. And all acknowledge that they do not have the possibility to conduct truly independent studies. Thus, an Austrian scientist wrote: "I just wish you much luck in the future, because such results will mean that you will have a hard conflict with a lot of western industry interests. Industry-affiliated scientist will lobby against you - and for sure a lot of so-called scientific panels for food-safety and 'competent' authorities will try to ignore your results or will try to hinder the publication of your papers."
"It was desirable to further investigate the heart, brain, spleen and other organs, but we did not have the resources at that moment. I did not expect that the results obtained by me would cause such stormy discussion. But it is still more surprising to me, that these simple experiments have not been repeated by anybody in one-and-a-half years. So I have been conducting a new series of experiments using again, mainly, my own money. "
"They put pressure not only on us as researchers, but also on those who supported us. But I do not want to speak about this."