Pro-GM Bias in FSA ‘Dialogue’ Contractors: Heads Should Roll
Immediate release (27 May 2010)
Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065
GM Freeze has described to the news that the Food Standards Agency’s GM Public ‘Dialogue’ could be conducted by a consultancy already working for a biotechnology company as a “breathtaking, arrogant and cynical attempt to manipulate public opinion on GM crops”.
The FSA was asked to carry out a public dialogue by the Labour Government in 2009 and established a Steering Group to oversee the project. Today Dr Helen Wallace of GeneWatch UK resigned from the Steering Group, revealing that tender documents from one of the companies bidding to run the GM Dialogue showed they have been working with a multi-national agrochemical and seed company “to develop concepts which link agri-business with important global issues (such as climate change, water scarcity, deforestation, etc) and position the company as a positive force”. 
The same company’s tender sets out how they will avoid engaging with anyone with strong views on GM and avoid publicity.
Former Labour Minister Lord Jeff Rooker now chairs the FSA and is well known for his outspoken remarks in favour of GM food and crops in recent years.  Three of Labour’s major funders in the 1990s and 2000s had substantial investments in biotechnology. 
Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:
We have always been concerned about the motives behind the FSA’s GM ‘Dialogue’, and now we have clear evidence that a company asked to carry out the work is already working for a biotechnology company to help them overcome public concerns and opposition.
Thank goodness the truth is out before this breathtaking, arrogant and cynical attempt to manipulate public opinion in favour of the GM industry got started.
The Coalition Government needs to take careful note of the behaviour of the previous government and FSA in this respect. Heads should roll. For more than a decade they have attempted the ride roughshod over public concerns about GM food and crops.
There is no justification for the GM dialogue to proceed – it would be a complete waste of public money. What is needed is a wide-ranging debate about how we can grow enough food to feed people without wrecking the planet instead of a very narrow ‘dialogue’ about a technology that has failed to deliver on its promises.
1. From Helen Wallace’s resignation letter from GM Dialogue available at www.genewatch.org/uploads/f03c6d66a9b354535738483c1c3d49e4/resignation.doc.
3. Lord Sainsbury is reported to have donated £11 million to Labour under Tony Bair, whom he served as Science Minister from 1997-2006. He is also reported to have made 1 million loans. Sainsbury’s charity the Gatsby Foundation has made substantial donations to the John Innes Centre (one of Britain’s main GM crop research centres) where the Sainsbury Laboratory is named after him. Sainsbury also owned a biotech company called Diatech.
Sir Chris Evans a biotechnology entrepreneur loaned Labour £1 million.
Lord Drayson donated £1.1 million before 2006 was appointed Minister of Science. He was formerly head of the Bioindustry Association and owned several biotech companies such as PowderJect.