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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

Chief Scientist’s Misleading GM Claims: GM Freeze calls for a public apology

Immediate release (17 Dec 2007)

Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065

GM Freeze has written to retiring Government Chief Scientist Professor David King calling upon him to make a public apology after making a “grossly misleading” comments comment about GM crops on the BBC’s Today Programme on 27th November. [1]

Professor King finished the interview with the following:

I wonder if I could give you one example and this is the use of intercrop planting in Africa which has increased grain yields already around Lake Victoria very substantially. And this is done by discovering what the pheromone in the root of the grain plant that attracts root borers and destroys them. And if you snip that gene into the grass so that the grass attracts root borers, the root borers does not feed well on the grass and dies. You interplant the grass with the grain and it turns out the crop yield goes up 40-50%. Very big advantage.

GM Freeze have pointed out to Professor King that the “push pull” project [2] he described does not involve GM crops at all. In an article in the Independent on Sunday (16th December) [3], Professor King is quoted as saying his comments were “an honest mistake”.

In the their letter to Professor King [4] GM Freeze point out that the Push Pull project is an excellent example of how scientists have found solutions to a major weed and a significant pest of maize in Kenya without the use of pesticides or GM crops.

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

We find it quite staggering that Professor King made such misleading comments on prime time radio. The “push pull” project in fact illustrates how the problem pest and weeds, which plague farmers in the Global South can be tackled by well researched crop management techniques. These have the advantage of being cheap to apply and being free of the potential environmental and health impacts of GM crops or pesticide usage. If Africa is to become more self reliant in food supply without locking farmer into very expensive GM seeds and their associated herbicides then the Government need to be funding more projects like “push pull”. In view of the grossly misleading nature of what he said we call upon Professor King to make a public apology.


Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065.

[1] Interview with Sarah Montague 27th November 2007 BBC Today Programme.

[2] See and 3. 4 Letter available on request to