David Baulcombe

Prof David Baulcombe is Head of the Sainsbury Laboratory of the John Innes Centre (JIC), Norwich, UK, and of its Plant Molecular Virology Department.

The JIC is often described as Europe’s leading plant biotechnology institute. It represents itself as an independent, charitable and mainly publicly funded institution. It has, however, received tens of millions of pounds in funding from major biotech corporations such as Syngenta and DuPont. It has also received millions in donations from the pro-biotech billionaire Lord Sainsbury, after whom the Sainsbury Laboratory is named.

In 1999 Professor Baulcombe told a public meeting on GM crops that US government research 'to be released shortly' had shown that GM crops brought enormous environmental benefits. However, what Baulcombe presented as official US research has been shown subsequently never to have existed.

Prof Baulcombe also claimed with regard to Dr John Losey’s Monarch butterfly study (which showed that Monarch butterfly larvae were killed by eating GM pollen), that 'it was actually that non-genetically modified maize pollen had damaged the butterfly'. He further claimed that 'there were no real differences' between the damage caused to the Monarch butterflies by the GM maize pollen and the non-GM pollen. Losey has pointed out that Baulcombe’s claims are 'completely without merit'. Losey notes, 'Caterpillars fed on milkweed leaves with untransformed [non-GM] corn pollen suffered NO mortality while 44% of those that fed on leaves dusted with Bt-corn pollen died within 4 days.' Losey concludes, 'I assume the person who actually made this quote did not read the paper.' For more on this.

Prof Baulcombe has been far from alone at the John Innes Centre in promoting GM crops by means that bear little scrutiny. More on this.  

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