The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development - OECD - has 30 Member countries and gives as its principal aim: 'to promote policies for sustainable economic growth and employment, a rising standard of living, and trade liberalisation.'
It has been working on biotechnology-related topics for almost 20 years. The OECD operates a Biotechnology Unit within the Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. From 1993 to December 1998, this was headed by Mark Cantley who has strongly promoted the view that GMOs are actually 'inherently safer and more precise' than seeds, vaccines, enzymes, pesticides, etc that have not been genetically engineered. Cantley also headed the OECD's Internal Co-ordination Group on Biotechnology (ICGB), established in 1993, to facilitate internal co-ordination among the sectors of agriculture; science, technology, and industry; environment; and trade.
From 28th February - 2nd March 2000 the OECD held a conference in Edinburgh on the Scientific and Health Aspects of Genetically Modified Foods. The conference was chaired by GM proponent and head of the UK's Food Standards Agency, Sir John Krebs FRS. Dr Arpad Pusztai was the only GM-sceptical scientist invited and he was the subject of repeated and vociferous attack during the conference. He commented that, 'I was left with the impression that the Conference was not an impartial, objective and scientific forum for discussions on food safety. To most impartial observers and participants, and certainly to me, it appeared to be more of a propaganda forum for airing the views and promoting the interests of the GM biotechnology industry.'
In July 2001 another major OECD conference was held in Bangkok entitled 'New Biotechnology Food and Crops: Science, Safety and Society' was held . According to a UK Foreign Office press release this conference was intended 'to take forward the international debate on new biotechnology'. Like the previous OECD conference held; and the Bangkok OECD was chaired by a leading Fellow of the UK's Royal Society - GM proponent and chairman of the UK Chemicals Stakeholders Forum, Lord Selbourne. The Bangkok conference fully endorsed the controversial 2001 UNDP report, which recommended GM crops as a solution to poverty, and to which 290 grassroots and farmers groups publically objected.