As a member of the public who had a GMOSR Field Scale Evaluation
situated near my house I read through the Science Review with
interest and dismay. I had expected a review of available
science from a balanced panel but this was not what I read.
The major obstacle with GM crops is the fundamental belief
from your panel that we know about the technology and it's
effects. This at a time when gene splicing and it's effects
are being raised by many in the scientific community. The
review quite correctly states there are gaps in knowledge
and understanding but the major problem is that it accepts
the technology per se and looks at issues surrounding the
premise that genetic engineering is wholly understood. This
is not the case.
The second major problem I had with the review is the composition
of the panel. At a time when the general public has made it
plain that they do not trust either scientists or the biotech
industry on the GM issue, the chapter on food safety is written
by a gentleman who works for Monsanto. Given his profession
he's hardly likely to say that there are any food safety problems
is he? No wonder people are refusing to respond to the Science
Review. I would hope that when you come to review any new
science published in the intervening period that other scientists
are brought on to the panel to do this. Otherwise, any integrity
the review might have is lost.
The impact on human health is not covered in enough depth,
in fact it is glossed over. The Scottish Parliament's Health
Committee found investigation carried out on the effects of
GMOs on human health to be lacking in both general and specific
terms. The Minister for the Environment, Michael Meacher recently
expressed concerns on the potential health effects over a
timescale of 10 to 30 years (Ecologist Magazine, March edition).
The health section could use work already carried out by
the Scottish Parliament's Health Committee (including submissions
made by many eminent scientists)and should refer to the BMA's
policy paper on GM crops and their submission to the Scottish
An Expert Advisory Group should be set up to fully research
the area of health and should include representatives from
the BMA, the Medical Research Council and independent scientists
in the field of toxicology (as mentioned in the Parliament's
Health Report e.g. Vyvyan Howard. Other scientists who have
expertise in the health effects of GM include Dr Stanley Ewen,
Aberdeen and Dr Harash Narang, Leeds University.
I hope you find these points useful and look forward to seeing
a summary of this stage's consultation input.