Mark Cantley is an Adviser in the Directorate for Life Sciences (Biotechnology, Agriculture and Food) in the Research Directorate-General of the European Commission, a position he has held since January 1999. According to Cantley , ' we in Europe are strongly committed to biotech, and have a clear
strategy for its promotion and diffusion'.
Cantley's background is in economics, accounting and finance. From 1993 to December 1998, Cantley headed the Biotechnology Unit within the Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development - OECD - and was Secretary of its Internal Co-ordination Group for Biotechnology. The OECD gives as its principal aim: 'to promote policies for sustainable economic growth and employment, a rising standard of living, and trade liberalisation.'
According to Cantley, GMOs are actually 'inherently safer and more precise' and so require no special regulation at all: 'I accepted fully the OECD report, published in 1986...which inter alia recognised, "that there is no scientific basis for specific legislation to regulate the use of recombinant DNA organisms".... Nothing that has occurred during the subsequent 12 years has invalidated those judgments'.
In a Spiked online debate on GM, Cantley proferred the view that GMOs were nothing new except that they involved greater knowledge and precision, 'Pretending "GMO" means something special - for seeds, vaccines, enzymes, pesticides, etc - is daft.'
In a letter to SciDevNet Cantley robustly defended Bjorn Lomborg, the controversial Danish author of The Skeptical Environmentalist. Lomborg's book has been widely criticised within the scientific community for its inaccuracy and was even condemned by the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty. According to Cantley, however, critical editorials in Nature, Science and Scientific American reflect little credit on the scientific community and 'come across as small-minded and drafted from a perspective of envy and irritation, rather than balanced judgement.' Cantley compares Lomborg to Socrates, noting 'it is he whom we remember and celebrate today. Not his judges'.