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Leading scientist fights back over GM claims


A leading UK scientist yesterday fought back criticisms from former environment minister over the safety of genetically modified organisms.

In an article for the UK national newspaper, Independent on Sunday, Michael Meacher accused the government of deliberately undervaluing negative research findings on the safety of GM foods, citing a recent report from the UK Royal Society on GM plants.

But Lord May, current president of the Royal Society, and former Chief Scientific Adviser to the government, spoke out this week, asserting that Meacher presented a "severely distorted account of the scientific facts and uncertainties surrounding GM foods," to support his anti-GM stance.

Crucially, says Lord May, Meacher put his own spin on the facts and avoided the key findings of the report."He conspicuously fails to mention its principal conclusion that there is no scientific reason to doubt the safety of foods made from GM ingredients," continued Lord May.

But anti-GM campaigners have welcomed Meacher's comments. Pete Riley of Friends of the Earth said they confirmed the fears of those who suspected the government-funded debate on the GM issue was a mere PR exercise aimed at getting the go-ahead for GM crops to be grown in the UK.