Wake-up Call

Resist the Corporate State

Scientists Concerned For Academic Freedom- biotech industry attacks

with 2 comments

The Institute of Science in Society  11/20/09

Open Letter to Premier of Western Australia

Background

Dr. Judy Carman, senior scientist working in the field of epidemiology in Australia and awarded a government grant to study the safety of GM feed, has been subjected to a sustained campaign of vilification by individuals associated withthe biotech industry, with the clear intention of preventing her from carrying out the research. Political pressure is nowbeing brought to bear on her research by the current Agriculture and Food Minister of Western Australia.

Dr. Carman is not an isolated case. A long string of scientists beginning with Arpad Puszati, Susan Bardocz, Shiv Chopra, Ignacio Chapela, Irina Ermakova, and more has suffered the same attacks when their research or laboratory findings are deemed unfavourable to thebiotech industry; they have also lost their grants or their jobs as a result.

It is important for scientists to make a stand for real science,and for the right of scientists to do research without being harassed and intimidated, or losing their grants or positions. The public will not be well-served unless this academic freedom to do research independent of industry or the whims of government is guaranteed.

Please add your name and affiliation to the letter below by sending an e-mail message to m.w.ho@i-sis.org.uk

Please forward for more signatures

Comment from Dr. Shiv Chopra, Canada

The same or worse is happening all across the world. For instance, a workshop at which I and another scientist were invited last week to discuss the pros and cons of vaccines at the First Nations (Aboriginal) conference in Ottawa was abruptly cancelled, apparently under threat from Health Canada officials. The same is happening with regard to the new consumer protection bills, presently under consideration of the Canadian and US politicians. In June 2009,  I heard of much the same happening during my visit to Australia and New Zealand and, of course, even worse during my last several visits to India.

Comment from Dr. Mira Shiva, India

Thank you so much for sending this letter. Many of us feel extremely agitated about the harassment of independent researchers and scientists whose findings are not in the interest of corporations. We have seen it in the pharmaceutical industry, and witnessed it with regard to food and agriculture.

I am committed to our right to safety and right to information as much as I am disgusted at the misuse of power to block the conduction of pro- public health, public interest research by independents researchers and scientists

I am also deeply concerned about researchers totally changing their conclusions under inducement. For those who have stood up for their research and faced pressures, we offer our deep appreciation and respect, and assurance of our continued solidarity.


From: Scientists concerned about academic freedom (see list of signatories below)

To:

Honourable Colin Barnett MEc MLA
Premier
Government of Western Australia
24th Floor, Governor Stirling Tower,
197 St Georges Terrace
PERTH
WA 6000

wa-government@dpc.wa.gov.au

Cc:

The Hon Kevin Rudd MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Hon Terrry Redman MLA
Minister, Dept of Agriculture and Food
Government of Western Australia
3 Baron-Hay Court
South Perth
WA 6151
minister.redman@dpc.wa.gov.au

Professor Mike Daube
President, Public Health Association of Australia
Keep Australia Beautiful Building
Units 2 & 3, 20 Napier Close
Deakin ACT 2600
m.daube@curtin.edu.au

Dr. Robert Williamson, AO, Ph.D, Hon MK (Turku), FAA, FRCPath, FRS
Australian Academy of Science
Ian Potter House
Gordon Street
Canberra 2601
eb@science.org.au

Dear Mr. Barnett,

In 2005, the Government of Western Australia awarded a research grant worth $92,000 toresearchers at theInstitute of Health and Environmental Research, nowbased in Adelaide, Southern Australia [1]. In announcing it, the then Agriculture Minister, Kim Chance, said that “the WA Government will fund an independent long-term animal feeding trial to gain data on the safety or otherwise of GM food crops”.

Far from welcoming the study, the biotech industry sought to block it, initially by writing to the WA government in an effort to get the government to reverse its funding decision, then by either refusing to supply GM crops to the research team or placing such onerous conditions upon the supply of the GM crops that the researchers could not sign up to the conditions [2]. In addition, the lead scientist has been subjected to a sustained campaign of vilification and harassment by commercial interests connected with the biotech industry.

The present Minister of Agriculture, Terry Redman, is now interfering in the research by demanding details about the location of the study laboratories, its research protocols and its progress to date. It is hard to see any legitimate reason for this interference. Information about the procedures was available when the grant was proposed, and it is most unusual for a government or indeed anyone else to demand to see the results of work that is not yet completed. The Minister’s hostility to the line of research is well known from when he was in opposition; he is wrong to use his current position to obstruct science which was commissioned before he took office.

It is wrong, though perhaps not surprising, that the biotechnology industry should be seeking to obstruct research into the safety of what they produce [3], and promoting the vilification and harassment of any scientist conducting such research [4]. It is indefensible for a government to do the same. We call on the Government of Western Australia to stop this unprecedented interference with the research it has commissioned and to ensure that the project will proceed unhindered. We also call on the Government of Australia to require biotechnology companies to make available to independent researchers the material they need for their work.

The citizens of Australia, like those of other countries, will not be well served unless academic freedom is guaranteed for scientists to work independently of biotechnology companies or the whims of governments [5]. It is not possible to take proper decisions on GMOs if the only evidence on which to base those decisions comes from scientists who work for or are chosen by the biotechnology industry.

Notes

1. “Long term feeding trials funded by WA to run in SA” Wednesday, November 30, 2005’ http://gmopundit.blogspot.com/2005/11/long-term-feeding-trials-funded-by-wa.html

Jenifer Eliot in The West Australian, November 28, 2005, reports that the study will be by South Australia’s Institute of Health and Environmental Research (IHER), http://www.iher.org.au/

2. Pro-GM scientists, some paid by biotech companies have been aiding and abetting in the harassment and vilification of independent scientists and researchers of IHER see Letter from 12 scientists to the Premier of Western Australia, The HonDr Geoff Gallop, BEc MA MPhil DPhil MLA 5  December 2005, http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/001067.html; also Food Safety Western Australia Style: A Note from Ian Edwards,  25 June 2007, http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/002115.html http://www.gmfreecymru.org/pivotal_papers/quotes.html

http://www.gmfreecymru.org/documents.htm

 “Call for inquiry into GM feed study funding”, Colin Bettles, Farm Weekly, Australia, 12 Nov 2009, http://fw.farmonline.com.au/news/state/grains-and-cropping/general/call-for-inquiry-into-gm-feed-study-funding/1675689.aspx

3. The biotech companies are notorious for their attempt to block research deemed unfavourable to GMOs. The following statement was submitted in February 2009 to the US Environmental protection Agency (EPA) by scientists who had been invited to submit comments on a meeting to discuss two new BM crops. They were protesting the ‘technology/stewardship agreements’ they have to sign, which inhibit them from doing research for the public good. As a result “no truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions regarding the technology.” We are not aware that any of the 26 is opposed in principle to GM crops. http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#documentDetail?R=090000648084de39

See  http://www.i-sis.org.uk/corporateMonopolyOfScience.php; also the article by Andrew Pollack, New York Times, 20 February 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/20/business/20crop.html?_r=1

And “GM Research Blocking GMO Scandal: The Long Term Effects of Genetically Modified Food on Humans Scientific Tests Must Be Approved by Industry First”, by F. William Engdahl, Global Research, July 29, 2009 http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14570

“Do Seed Companies Control GM Crop Research? Scientists must ask corporations for permission before publishing independent research on genetically modified crops. That restriction must end” By The Editors, August 2009 Scientific American Magazine, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-seed-companies-control-gm-crop-research

4. Harassment of independent researchers by pro-GM scientists is rife and takes place in the pages of ‘learned’ journals that  have become effectively trade magazines

What is Nature Biotechnology good for? The Bioscience Resource Project, 4 December 2007, http://www.bioscienceresource.org/commentaries/article.php?id=16

The Genetic Engineering of Food and the Failure of Science – Part 2: Academic Capitalism and the Loss of Scientific Integrity by Don Lotter Int. Jrnl. of Soc. of Agr. & Food, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 50-68, http://www.gmfreecymru.org/pivotal_papers/academic_capitalism.html

Systematic bias in favour of no adverse impacts from GM feed, ISIS, 7 January 2008,  http://www.i-sis.org.uk/NatureBiotechnologyLetterErmakova.php

Marshall, A. (2007) Nature Biotechnology 25: pp 981-98;

Heinemann, JA and Traavik, T, letter, Nature Biotechnology 25 (12), p1356, http://www.bioscienceresource.org/commentaries/article.php?id=16; http://www.gmfreecymru.org/pivotal_papers/rottweiler.htm; http://www.woz.ch/artikel/inhalt/2007/nr44/Wissen/15584.html; http://www.gmfreecymru.org/pivotal_papers/involvement_ermakova.htm

Ironically the same learned journals are decrying the vilification of independent researchers by pro-GM scientists. See “GM crops: Battlefield” by Emily Waltz, Nature 2009, 461, 27-32, http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090902/full/461027a.html?s=news_rss

5. On academic freedom, the Australian Academy of Science wrote as follows, in a submission to a Senate Committee Inquiry into academic freedom.

“1. Science makes the most significant advances in an atmosphere of free and critical   discussion. Therefore, academic freedom is of crucial importance, particularly in research at universities, institutes and CSIRO.

2. Governments and their representatives have a responsibility to set general research priorities on behalf of their citizens. However, it is inappropriate for governments and their representatives to interfere with scientific peer review processes or with details of academic debate. That is the role of the academic sector.

3. In very rare cases, it may be appropriate for government to implement ‘reserve powers’ to direct research. This may be the case with some research that has security implications. However, it is inappropriate for governments and their representatives to interfere in genuine academic debate and to intervene with the grant processes of the ARC, NHMRC or CSIRO.” (Letter signed by Professor Philip W. Kuchel, FAA, Secretary, Science Policy)

https://senate.aph.gov.au/submissions/comittees/viewdocument.aspx?id=b2d245b1-a179-4843-a909-8d45715de834

Signed:

Dr Michael Antoniou
Head: Nuclear Biology Group
King’s College London School of Medicine
UK

Dr. Barbara Ann Barrett
Scientists for Global Responsibility
UK

Prof. Ann Clark
Department of Plant Agriculture
University of Guelph
Canada

Dr. Shiv Chopra
Ex-Health Canada
Author of Corrupt to the Core, Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower
Canada

Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury
Gonoshasthaya Kendra
House 14E, Road 6
Dhanmandi R.A., Dhaka 1205
Bangladesh

Prof. Joe Cummins
Emeritus Prof. of Genetics
University of Western Ontario
Canada

Dr. Jose L. Domingo
Professor of Toxicology
Laboratory of Toxicology and Environmental Health
School of Medicine
“Rovira i Virgili” University
Catalonia, Spain

Dr. Irina Ermakova
Russian Academy of Sciences institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology
Russia

Dr. Stanley WB Ewen
Consultant Pathologist
Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
UK

Dr. Alan Fredeen
Nova Scotia
Canada

Prof. Adrian Gibbs FAA,
Yarralumla, Canberra,
Australia

Dr. Jack A. Heinemann
Director INBI
Prof. School of Biological Sciences
University of Canterbury
New Zealand

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
Director
Institute of Science in Society
London
UK

Prof. Vyvyan Howard MB. ChB. PhD. FRCPath.
Biomedical Science Research Institute
Ulster University
Northern Ireland
UK

Dr. Brian John
Retired Lecturer in Geography
University of Durham
UK

Prof. Sheldon Krimsky
Department of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning
School of Arts & Sciences
Department of Public Health and Community Medicine
School of Medicine
Tufts University
Medford
USA

Dr. Eva Novotny
Retired, Formerly Research Associate in Astronomy
Cambridge University
UK

Dr. Jose Ramon Olarieta
Lecturer in Soil Science
Universitat de Lleida
Spain

Prof. Dr. ER Oskov OBE FRSE
Director of International Feed Resource Unit
Macaulay Land Use Institute
UK

Dr. Michel Pimbert
Director
Sustainable Agriculture, Biodiversity and Livelihoods Programme
IIED, London
UK

Dr. Naheeda Portocarero
Animal nutritionist
Maesyronen Farmhouse
Glasbury-on-Wye
UK

Prof. Leda Raptis
Dept of Microbiology and Immunology
Dept of Pathology
Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario
Canada

Dr. Barry T Rubin
Davis Rubin Associates Ltd
Member of Scientists for Global Responsibility
UK

Prof. Peter Saunders
Emeritus Prof. of Applied Mathematics
King’s College, London
UK

Dr. David Schubert
Professsor
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
La Jolla Ca
USA

Dr Mira Shiva M.D
Director Initiative for Health, Equity & Society,
Chairperson Consumer Education safety of Food & Medicine
South Asian Focal Point
International Peoples Health Council
New Delhi
India

Dr. Vandana Shiva
Navdanya
Recipient of Right Livelihood Award
New Delhi
India

Dr. David Suzuki
Emeritus professor
Sustainable Development Research Institute
University of British Columbia
Canada

Dr. Enric Tello
Professor of Economic History and Institutions
Head of the Dept. of Economic History and Institutions at the Universitat de Barcelona
Spain

reposted with permission

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2 Responses

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  1. sorry about the crap/child porn comments that snuck in here while I wasn’t watching. WordPress is usually better at catching them!! I deleted all.

    laudyms

    October 1, 2011 at 11:14 am

  2. I’m doing an internship

    Cwnshiau

    September 4, 2012 at 8:51 am


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