23rd November 2012
In its submission to a Government consultation on agricultural research and technology today, GeneWatch UK argues that decisions on what research to fund should be more open and accountable (1). GeneWatch also highlights that lobbying by the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, which represents the major GM crop companies, has led to an agreement in which taxpayer-funded researchers promote the industry's agenda to try to encourage more rapid approval of the companies' GM crops in the EU (2). As a result, UK taxpayer-funded research institutions are acting as the PR wing of the large multinational companies which market GM seeds. They are paid not to produce anything useful but to go on the media and claim that they will produce something useful using GM at some point in the future: and that therefore GM regulations must be weakened and retailers must put GM foods back on their shelves.
"Agricultural research is critical to tackling many problems that we face in Britain and around the world" said GeneWatch UK's Director, Dr Helen Wallace, "These decisions are too important to be made in dodgy deals behind closed doors. Taxpayers' money should not be wasted on unfulfilled promises and hype about GM, rather than accepting reality and funding things that work. We need research that helps farmers and consumers and provides genuine solutions to problems with our food supply, environment and diets."
GeneWatch's response to the BIS consultation warns against misallocating resources to unrealistic GM projects and highlights the opportunity costs associated with investing taxpayers' money in research that is unlikely to deliver on its promises.
The agricultural industry has made its own submission to the consultation and is inviting comments on it (3). The industry has held workshops with producers to help inform its proposed research priorities but has not included the wider public who fund most of the research.
For further information contact:
Dr Helen Wallace: 01298-24300 (office); 07903-311584
Notes for Editors:
(1) GeneWatch UK response to the BIS Consultation, Shaping a UK Strategy for Agri-Tech, November 2012. http://www.genewatch.org/uploads/f03c6d66a9b354535738483c1c3d49e4/BISconsul_GWresponse.pdf
(2) GeneWatch UK and GM Freeze Press Release: Monsanto meets ministers to push return of GM crops to Britain. Thursday 25th October 2012. http://www.genewatch.org/article.shtml?als[cid]=569457&als[itemid]=571449