This blog continues discussing the issues from the BBC Horizon programme presented by Sir Paul Nurse, called Science Under Attack.
It covered many topics in such a biased and ‘unscientific’ manner that I am dealing with the issues separately in a small series of blog entries.
You can watch the Horizon programme from this link HERE
This blog discusses the highly contentious topic of genetic engineering.
Admittedly the GM section of the Horizon programme was very short, but that didn’t stop Sir Paul from making some very generalised sweeping statements.
For example, Sir Paul Nurse made the following comments:
“The GM debate once again raises the issue of public trust in science. There’s a gap between the fears of some sections of the public and the opinion of scientists that what they are doing is both useful and safe.”
“There have been angry protests against the use of genetically modified foods.”
“Part of the problem may be due to past controversies where mainstream science has failed to win over the public.”
The implication is that the scientists have produced something that is both safe and good for us and that we, the public, are just too stubborn, or possibly just too stupid, to understand about genetic engineering and that we have just let our feelings overtake our reason.
This attitude is insulting.
The programme shows ‘activist’ protestors, who angrily claim “we don’t want their new technology” and are seen destroying crops that presumably are part of GM trials.
However, only showing these activist protestors is a gross misrepresentation of the type of people who strongly protest against genetic engineering, because many people object to GM from a scientific perspective based on strong scientific evidence of the dangers of GM products.
The objections to this part of the programme have been clearly laid out in an open letter to Sir Paul Nurse, written by Dr Brian John, that you can read HERE
I strongly recommend that you read this letter as it details the problems with the whole GM industry, none of which Sir Paul refers to in the programme, clearly displaying his bias on the topic.
Dr Brian John’s letter contains the following extracts, which counter Sir Paul’s comments listed at the beginning of this blog:
“I am intrigued by your apparent belief that scientists are always truthful and honest, and that they are all signed up to an unbreakable code of ethics. If only that were true…………..The conspiracy of connivance and silence that we have uncovered is truly appalling – and something of which the scientific community should be truly ashamed.”
“You will be aware that there has never been a single piece of epidemiological research to back up the claims that GM foods are entirely safe to eat.”
Is Sir Paul Nurse so naive? Did he really not do his homework properly on these subjects before presenting the Horizon programme? Or was he just selective about what he chose to present?
His attitude to this topic displays his hypocrisy, because being biased in one’s ideas without viewing the whole of the scientific evidence is precisely the problem he complains about in the programme.
The title of the Horizon programme is Science Under Attack, but just to show the GM science that IS under attack, a film has been made called Scientists Under Attack, with the subtitle, Genetic Engineering in the Magnetic Field of Money.
Although the ‘Scientists Under Attack’ film has not been on general release, you can read a review about it HERE
You can watch a short clip HERE
The film is mainly about two scientists, Dr Arpad Pusztai and Dr Ignacio Chapela whose researches uncovered negative effects of GM foods and crops. It details how these previously respected scientists were subsequently ill-treated by their academic institutions and the GM industry, and how dreadfully one of them was treated by British Prime Minister of the time Tony Blair.
It also includes interviews with other respected researchers including Jeffrey M Smith, who is an expert in the field of GMO as well as the founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology and a bestselling author.
The website for the Institute for Responsible Technology contains a wealth of scientific information about the dangers of GM that you can access HERE
In the film, Scientists Under Attack, it is shown that the scientists are being attacked because they don’t agree with the ‘consensus’, which seems to be dictated by industrial giants like Monsanto that have heavily invested in GM products.
So the question for Sir Paul is, why is he trying to promote a pro-GM view, is it just because he wants it to be true?
Again, the consensual view is not necessarily the correct view.
He states in the programme that “The controversy surrounding GM was something I really wanted to understand.” but what he presented on the programme had very little to do with understanding the controversy and very much more to do with promoting the industry propaganda.
A pertinent quote by Mahatma Gandhi comes to mind, “An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody will see it.”
If you read the information available from the links in this blog you will see that the weight of the scientific evidence shows that GMOs are very far from being either good for us or safe.