Media 22: Has BBC reporting effectively limited the damage done to the current corporate–political drive to promote GM crops in Britain?
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A formal complaint has been made about the BBC’s coverage of the recently reported peer-reviewed research published in the scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology – ” an “expert furore” smokescreen . . . Dr Brian John wrote:
“The BBC should have accorded this new Seralini study (in a top peer-reviewed American journal) great respect, instead of which it was buried, with no news coverage, and only a biased piece by Jonathan Amos put on the BBC web site.
“Amos’s article was lazy and unbalanced, flagging up the “scientific furore” angle and effectively demeaning both the article and its authors — under the clear direction of the Science Media Centre (Ed: which “promotes the voices, stories and views of the scientific community to the national news media”). The SMC “briefing” with comments from selected “experts” was widely circulated, and heavily used by Reuters, Press Association and many others – with what intention?
Two of Amos’ shortcomings listed by Dr John:
- He cited the views of unnamed “independent scientists” and “other researchers” – very bad practice: “But independent scientists criticised the work for its statistical methods and for using the wrong type of rat”.
- He quoted as an authority Maloney, a scientist who actually does no animal feeding experiments.
Another person asked Jonathon Amos for the name of the independent who said that the “wrong type of rats” had been used, but was not given an answer to that question. Is the independent authority Anthony Trewavas, Professor of Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh? He is widely reported to have said, elsewhere:
“The control group is inadequate to make any deduction. Only 10 rodents so far as I can see and some of these develop tumours. Until you know the degree of variation in 90 or 180 (divided into groups of ten) control rodents these results are of no value.
“These figures for normal appearance of tumours in these rodent lines are surely available and using a line which is very susceptible to tumours can easily bias any result. To be frank it looks like random variation to me in a rodent line likely to develop tumours anyway.”
Professor Anthony Trewavas
A search suggests that Prof. Trewavas, like ABC’s GM industry-affiliated Dr. Julian Little, appears to be one of the combine of vested interests very actively seeking to promote GM crops in this country:
- Prof.Trewavas played a leading role in Nature’s unprecedented withdrawal of a published paper on GM maize in November 2001.
- In October 2001 he was named in the High Court in London as the source of a letter making libellous allegations against Lord Melchett and Greenpeace in relation to organic farming and GM foods. Greenpeace wins damages over professor’s ‘unfounded’ allegations. He denied responsibility for the libel letter published under his name but admitted sending the material to, amongst others, a newspaper editor and a PR operative with this intent.
Investigative site Powerbase quotes many emotive outbursts against opponents of GM and organic farming but the real substantiation of Trewavas’ interest lies in his memberships of:
- the John Innes Centre,
- the government’s Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification,
- the Governing Council of the Scientific Alliance advisory board (‘boosting GM’), set up by the lobby firm Foresight Communications, amongst others.
Finally, another tactic used to cover tracks?
A check on links used found that many were obsolete; is the widespread revamping of some government and commercial websites a device so that many offering sensitive information cannot be opened and the evidence accessed?
Posted on September 21, 2012, in Conflict of interest, Corporate political nexus, Government, Lobbying, Vested interests and tagged BBC coverage, Dr Brian John, John Innes Centre, Powerbase, Professor Anthony Trewavas, Scientific Alliance, The government’s Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.