Lobbyists rally around wormy corn scientist (13/9/2007)

EXTRACT: Government action against Mr. Morris would have a chilling effect on the freedom of speech of Canadian scientists, and of scientists around the world.

COMMENT from GM Watch: This open letter to the High Commissioner for Canada and Peter Melchett from various well known GM proponents has been circulated on AgBioView. It is a response to Peter Melchett's earlier letter to the High Commissioner (see Soil Association condemns Canadian attack on UK and Irish free speech).

Their claim that it is Shane Morris's free speech that is under attack is hilarious, given that his actions not only led to our website getting taken down but he also threatened legal action against GM-free Ireland if they failed to remove *all* GM Watch material that made any reference to him.

And given their strong concern over "the freedom of speech of Canadian scientists", it's curious that we do not remember a single protest from this group of scientists in support of the freedom of speech of Canadian Government scientists, like Shiv Chopra, who were gagged and sacked when they flagged up their concerns on biotech and drug safety.

Nor do we remember any protests from these people over the gagging and enforced retirement of Dr Arpad Pusztai, or the denial of tenure to Dr Ignacio Chapela.

Seems "freedom of speech" for these people equates solely to freedom to lobby for GMOs.

BACKGROUND: On the wormy corn study http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/09/would_you_eat_wormy_sweet_corn.php

On the lobbyists below

Open Letter to James Wright and Peter Melchett

Sept. 13, 2007

Mr. James Wright
High Commissioner for Canada
MacDonald House
1 Grosvenor Square
London W1K 4AB

Mr. Peter Melchett
The Soil Association
South Plaza, Marlborough Street
Bristol BS1 3NX, UK

Dear Mr. Wright:

It has come to our attention that Peter Melchett, the Policy Director of The Soil Association, has written to you a letter dated Sept. 4, 2007 asking that the Government of Canada 'take action against' Shane Morris.

Mr. Morris is an Irish national, and a scientist employed by Agriculture and AgriFood Canada. We, the undersigned, wish to condemn in the most unequivocal terms possible this inappropriate and unwarranted intrusion into his employment relationship.

Scientists have a personal right, and an obligation, to communicate with the general public on scientific matters. This allows the public and its representatives to make informed policy decisions. It is precisely because of egregious, fundamentally ad hominem attacks such as that made by The Soil Association that many fear to speak out.

As scientists and scholars, we utterly denounce this effort by The Soil Association, which is only the latest in a series of attacks on Mr. Morris' employment status and professional standing. Some of the personal attacks have been so extreme that legal experts deem them to be libelous, prompting retractions by those circulating them.

It would be odious in the extreme for the Government of Canada to lend aid or credence to such scurrilous, contemptible tactics by taking action against Mr. Morris under these circumstances. Furthermore, Government action against Mr. Morris would have a chilling effect on the freedom of speech of Canadian scientists, and of scientists around the world.

By use of this tactic, The Soil Association reveals itself to be partisan in the extreme, and no champion of free speech whatsoever. It wishes to present its complaint in the context of a scientific debate over an award-winning research paper published four years ago, but that debate does not have, and should not have, any legitimate bearing on Mr. Morris' employment. Furthermore, the nature of his employment should not be held to circumscribe his personal rights.


Alan McHughen, D.Phil.
Biotechnology Specialist and Geneticist, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of California - Riverside*

Alex Avery
Director of Research, Center for Global Food Issues, Hudson Institute*

Andrew Apel, J.D.
Guest editor, AgBioView*

Bruce Chassy, Ph.D.
Professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign*

Channapatna S. Prakash, Ph.D.,
Professor, Plant Molecular Genetics, Tuskegee University*

Prof. C Kameswara Rao
Executive Secretary, Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education, Bangalore, India*

Dr. Christopher Preston
University of Adelaide*

Prof. David McConnell
Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland*

David Tribe, Ph.D. B.Sc.
Senior lecturer, Institute of Land and Food/Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne, and blog author, GMO Pundit*

Drew L. Kershen
Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law, University of Oklahoma College of Law*

Gregory Conko
Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC*

Henry I. Miller, M.D.
The Hoover Institution, Stanford University*

Dr.Dr.Dr. Ingo Potrykus
Emeritus Professor in Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)*

em. Prof. Dr. Klaus Ammann
Delft University of Technology, Botanic Garden and Biotechnology Department, The Netherlands*

L. Val Giddings, Ph.D.
President & CEO, PrometheusAB, Inc., former Vice President for Food & Agriculture, Biotechnology Industry Organization*

Mark Cantley
Former advisor to the Life Science Directorate, DG Research, European Commission, former hea


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