6 September 2000
Monsanto ‘subverts science forums’

By FWi staff

BIOTECHNOLOGY giant Monsanto is involved in a global campaign to influence the make up of international science committees, it has been claimed.

Monsanto is seeking to promote genetically modified technology through supposedly independent scientists, says environmental watchdog Genewatch.

But Monsanto says that in providing nominations for international expert panels it is only following a well-established practice by both sides of the debate.

Genewatch says a confidential Monsanto document it obtained describes how the company tried to influence regulation of GM crops in more than 20 countries.

The leaked report shows how Monsanto is trying to manipulate the regulation of GM foods across the world, said Genewatch UK director Dr Sue Mayer.

It seems they are trying to buy influence with key individuals, stack committees with experts who support them, and subvert the scientific agenda around the world.

The leaked confidential paper summarises the work of Monsantos Regulatory Affairs and Scientific Outreach teams for May and June 2000.

It appears to show that the company was instrumental in ensuring that key internationally recognised scientific experts were nominated to influential Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Health Organisation consultation.

The paper also says Monsanto would probably look favourably on a request from a Thai scientist for assistance with staff training, given that he is a key player in international CODEX activities.

But in a statement Monsanto said the document illustrates the extensive effort the company makes to comply with stringent and evolving regulations around the globe.

It says it is standard procedure for industry and non-government organisations to nominate candidates to ensure that all stakeholders are represented.

And Monsanto insists that it offers assistance to scientists in order to help standardise detection methodologies.

The company added: We have been in conversations with many organisations worldwide to hear their concerns about biotechnology.

It is unfortunate that rather than enter into a meaningful dialogue, Genewatch has chosen to resort to this type of innuendo and attack. No one benefits from this.