Scientists' union calls for informed public GM debate
11 Jun 2003
Prospect, the scientists’ union today (Wednesday) called on the government to extend the national debate on the safety and usefulness of genetically modified (GM) crops until the autumn to allow the public to take into account the results of the field scale trials currently under way.
On behalf of 25,000 members in the scientific community, many of whom are responsible for conducting the trials, the union said that a debate without informed scientific fact amounted to little more than a public relations exercise.
Nigel Titchen, President of the union’s Science, Engineering and Technology group, said: "Prospect neither supports nor opposes genetically modified crops. As scientists, we see our role as honest brokers of information. But it is impossible to have an open, public debate when the crops have not yet been harvested and the facts are not available.
"This debate has been over two years in the making and it would be a grave mistake if the only scientific study of what actually happens when GM crops are grown in Britain does not form part of it."
The union is calling for a second round of talks to take place in September after the findings of the field trials, currently taking place at over 250 sites, have been published.
The subject is one of a number of topics scientists will debate today at the annual delegate conference of the union’s Science, Engineering and Technology group, taking place at the National Liberal Club, London.