Press Release -- 14th March 2009
The controversial Golden Rice Project has admitted on its web site that it was involved in a number of projects involving the feeding of unauthorized GM rice to both adults and children in China and the USA.
The admission was made following a formal protest from a group of scientists from across the world (1) on the grounds that Golden Rice is inadequately characterized in the literature, unauthorized anywhere in the world, and untested on animals. The protest letter, signed by 32 senior scientists from a number of disciplines and sent to the Tufts University Medical School in the USA , claimed that the feeding trials were in breach of the Nuremberg Code (2), brought in at the end of the Second World War to prevent any repetition of the obscene experiments conducted by Nazi scientists including Dr Josef Mengele -- many of them involving innocent children. The Code, which underpins national and international conventions on medical ethics to this day, stresses that clinical trials and other experiments may not be conducted on children since they are unable to give fully informed consent; and that even adult experiments must be based upon the results of prior animal tests and must be subject to the most rigorous protocols ensuring that subjects are made fully aware of all risks as well as potential benefits. Neither must the experiments be "frivolous" in the sense of being premature or being over-promoted in terms of likely humanitarian benefit. The signatories to the protest letter have been unable to gain sight of the experimental protocols used by the researchers, and the research team has refused to enter into any communication or to justify their actions. In the key information about the child trials posted on the US Clinical Trials web sites, there is not even a mention of the fact that Golden Rice is a GM crop.
The protest to Tufts University (which organized the feeding trials) has apparently been dismissed by the University's Institutional Review Board, which is supposed to oversee ethical issues, but it immediately triggered a very aggressive response from the Golden Rice Project, suggesting that it was from the beginning the real sponsor and instigator of the trials (3). In a letter Dr Adrian Dubock, the Project Manager of the Golden Rice Project, accused the 32 scientists of being "libellously disrespectful" and of contravening the Universal Declaration on Human Rights by seeking to delay the acceptance of Golden Rice, thereby condemning thousands of human beings to early deaths related to VAD. On the Golden Rice website the scientists were accused of being "technophobes" and "die-hard Luddites." This was heavy enough, but it was then followed by a letter (submitted but not published in the Daily Mail) from six "reputed professors" and Lord Dick Taverne (4) which accused the scientists of being led by "dedicated anti-GM campaigners who will stop at nothing to block the adoption of GM crops." Further, they accused the scientists of "mock moral outrage" and of "morally obscene antics." In another message from the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board, Dubock referred to the concerned scientists as "a failed bunch of cranks" and as "degenerately immoral." Childish abuse of this sort is of course routinely directed at any scientist who has the temerity to oppose or question the activities of the GM industry (5); and the 32 scientists have declined to respond to it.
The information now posted on the Golden Rice web site confirms the following: 1. There have been at least four human feeding trials thus far, in China and the USA, involving around 50 people. 2. The Golden Rice Humanitarian Board is closely involved in these trials. 3. There have been no animal feeding trials prior to the use of human beings.
Commenting on the new revelations, GM Free Cymru spokesman Dr Brian John said: "The aggressive and disrespectful behaviour of the Golden Rice Project towards a group of honest scientists asking for information and raising ethical concerns comes as no surprise. Neither do the new revelations indicating the full extent of involvement in these feeding trials by a so-called "Humanitarian Board." We are now more convinced than ever that the Golden Rice Project is simply a Trojan Horse being used by the GM industry in general, and Syngenta in particular, to breach the GM defences of poorer countries and to place moral pressure on NGOs who dare to express reservations. The ultimate goal is the blurring of distinctions between GM and non-GM crops and the dismantling of GM regulatory regimes in those poorer countries in which the biotechnology corporations are concentrating their efforts. We continue to view the Golden Rice Project as cynical and opportunistic, and unlikely to bring any real benefits to the millions of people worldwide who are suffering from Vitamin A deficiency. On the contrary, it is quite possible that serious medical harm will be done if this GM product is ever introduced into the food supply (6). The Golden Rice Project is also diverting millions of dollars which could be used much more cost-effectively on food aid and food security programmes."
Contact: Brian John GM Free Cymru Tel: 01239-820470
British scientists condemn using children in GM food trials as unacceptable. Daily Mail. By Sean Poulter http://www.i-sis.org.uk/SPUCTGM.php
(3) http://www.goldenrice.org/ Reputed British scientists stand up for Golden Rice. Scientists and Lord Taverne react to unwarranted attacks by die-hard luddites. And here is also what the Golden Rice management has to say about these attacks.
(4) The "reputed" scientists were: Professor C.J. Leaver CBE, FRS,FRSE, Professor Jonathan Jones FRS, Professor Donald Grierson FRS, Professor C.J. Lamb FRS, Professor M. Gale FRS and Professor A.J. Trewavas FRS, FRSE.
GM SCIENCE -- SUPPORTED BY A TISSUE OF LIES Revealed -- how the GM industry kills off "uncomfortable" research http://www.gmfreecymru.org/pivotal_papers/involvement_ermakova.htm
NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY FACILITATES PREMEDITATED GM ROTTWEILER ATTACK How a well-known scientific journal "set up" an honest scientist through a conspiracy of lies and deception
(6) The Problem with Nutritionally Enhanced Plants, by David R. Schubert JOURNAL OF MEDICINAL FOOD J Med Food 11 (4) 2008, published on line http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2008.0094?prevSearch=allfield%3A(schubert)