miércoles, septiembre 23, 2015

From GM Watch: Critics of Alliance for Science gonged into silence

The Alliance for Science is a campaign of Cornell University that claims to want to "depolarise the charged debate" around GMOs. Supported by a $5.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and with the GMO industry as its partners, the real aim of the campaign appears to be to promote GMOs and silence critical voices.

This became crystal clear on 10 September, when the Alliance hosted a panel discussion titled, "Ask Me Anything About GMOs", at the Unitarian Church in Ithaca, New York. Ithaca is also home to Cornell.

The Bioscience Resource Project has posted a video recording of the event, which appears to have been most memorable for being extraordinarily boring, thanks to all critical voices having been excluded from the panel. The Bioscience Resource Project has also chronicled some of the background to the Ithaca event.

Two highlights particularly stand out. At 29 minutes into the video, the pro-GMO scientist Kevin Folta, who was recently exposed as having received a $25,000 grant from Monsanto despite repeated claims of never having had a dime from the company, says, "I am one of the most fiercely independent people you will ever meet". Interestingly, emails between Folta and Monsanto, released by the New York Times, discuss setting up “Ask Me Anything" events at US universities with Folta on their panel, i.e. they set out the PR formula followed in Ithaca.

Then at 38 minutes, the director of the Bioscience Resource Project, DrJonathan Latham, questions the claims being made by the panel on pesticide use due to GMO crop adoption. Just as Dr Latham is getting into his stride, supporters of the Alliance for Science start banging a gong to drown him out!

Perhaps the event should have been titled, "Ask Me Anything About GMOs, As Long As It Doesn't Successfully Challenge Our Pro-GMO Claims".

This bizarre episode helped prompt a letter to the editor of the Ithaca Times from Trevor Pinch, reproduced below. Prof Pinch is not only a musician and author of The Golem: What You Should Know About Science; he is also the Goldwin Smith Professor of Science & Technology Studies at Cornell.

Letter: For whom the bell tolls

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