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Open Letter on GM Crops from International Scientists to HM Government

From scientists from around the world

The Right Honorable Tony Blair MP
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AS

CC: The Right Honorable Margaret Beckett MP
DEFRA, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR

The Right Honorable Patricia Hewitt MP
DTI, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET

Mr Nigel Griffiths MP
DTI, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET

Dear Prime Minister Blair:


You recently received a letter from a number of our esteemed colleagues (Professor Derek Burke and others) in the United Kingdom. We felt obligated to write you to offer our support to them and the sentiments they expressed in their recent correspondence.

The United Kingdom has always enjoyed a preeminent place in the world of science, and in the biological sciences in particular. From Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and natural selection to the Nobel Prize winning work at Cambridge University on the elucidation of the structure of DNA by Frances Crick, James Watson, Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin, the UK has always been the home of cutting edge biological research. It is distressing to us to see the impacts (as expressed in Professor Burke's letter) that anti-science efforts in the UK have had on the development of excellent basic research into new technologies as well as those engaged in it.

The treatment of the FSE results is just the latest example of how over-simplification and rhetoric can undermine rigorous scientific assessments. The FSEs were an extremely detailed look at the impact that weed management regimes in GM and non-GM crops may have on certain invertebrate and plant species. The summary conclusion that certain GM crops were "harmful to wildlife" is an inaccurate and misleading oversimplification of the extensive FSE database. In fact, the added flexibility of GM weed management systems provided a number of significant benefits in the crops studied. The broader environmental impacts of GM crops (reduced pesticide use, more environmentally desirable herbicide choices, positive effect on species diversity, such as beneficial insects in Bt crops, etc.) were cited in the FSE publications but were not reported in the summary documents and press coverage. Most importantly, GM crops have permitted the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices, such as no till agriculture, that has been documented to promote bird and animal habitats.

We have been able to see firsthand the positive impact that biotechnology is contributing to conventional agricultural practices in many parts of the world. GM crops are providing farmers with cost-effective means of controlling pests while using less pesticides and reducing the impact of agriculture in the face of increasing environmental pressures. We urge you not to lose sight of these broader impacts (some of which were cited in the FSE publications) when making the decision on how to move forward with GM technologies in the UK. Developing countries, such as India and China have undertaken research and are rapidly exploiting the economic and environmental opportunities from the adoption of GM crops. Future traits that are in development hold much promise to extend the benefits of biotechnology to provide preventative health benefits, tolerances to stresses and the use of plants as efficient environmentally friendly production systems.

It is indeed unfortunate that our UK colleagues reached such a point where they felt they had to write and express their dissatisfaction with the agricultural biotechnology research environment in the UK. We write to you to acknowledge the great contributions that the UK scientific community has made to the advancement of science and to the development of new leading-edge technologies, and to express our hope that your government can help to restore the luster by ensuring that decision-making is based on science-based policies that foster the development of demonstrated safe technologies with significant environmental and economic benefits in the UK.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Ingo Potrykus
Professor, "Golden Rice" developer

Dr. Gurdev S. Khush
World Food Prize winner
Davis, CA
Roger N. Beachy, Ph.D.
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
St. Louis, Missouri

James D. Watson, Ph.D.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Cold Spring Harbor, New York
Charles J. Arntzen
Florence Ely Nelson Presidential Chair
Director, Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology
Arizona Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University

Prof. Peter H. Raven
Department of Biology
Washington University in St. Louis
Director, Missouri Botanical Garden
Florence M. Wambugu, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
A Harvest Biotech Foundation Int'l (AHBFI)
Author of 'Modifying Africa: How Biotechnology
Can Benefit the Poor and Hungry'

Javier Verástegui
Director General, Research Support (Apoyo a la
National Counsel of Science & Technology (Consejo
Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología-CONCYTEC)
Lima, Perú
Mr. Patrick Luganda
Head of Agricultural Reporting
New Vision
Kampala, Uganda

Suresh B. Patel
Managing Director
Genetics Technologies
Evelyn Mae Tecson-Mendoza, PhD
Academician, National Academy of Science and Technology
Research Professor, Institute of Plant Breeding,
College of Agriculture
University of the Philippines, Los Baños College

Julieta Fe L. Estacio
Project Development Officer
Department of Science and Technology and Technical Secretariat
National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines

Oscar G. Gutierrez, Jr.
Food and Drug Regulation Officer
Bureau of Food and Drugs

Prof. Godwin Ogbadu
Director, Biotechnology Advanced Laboratory
Sheda Science and Technology Complex,
Abuja, Nigeria.
Ma. Inez Ponce de Leon
Former instructor of Molecular Biology, researcher
National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
University of the Philippines, Diliman

Rogrer Hull
Emeritus Fellow
John Innes Centre
Norwich, UK
Desiree M. Hautea (Ph.D.), Director
Insitute of Plant Breeding-College of Agriculture,
University of the Philippines, Los Baños

Georges Pelletier
Research Director, INRA
Rose Rita Kingamkono (Ph.D)
Director of Research Coordination
Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology

Jorge Ahumada-Barona, PhD,
Director, Fundación Tecnos
Bogotá, Colombia

Prof. Shirong Jia
Biotechnology Research Institute
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Beijing, China

Dr. Cynthia T. Hedreyda
National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
University of the Philippines, Diliman
Jared C. Ogunde
Chief Executive Officer
Scientific Advisory and Information Network
Nairobi, Kenya

Olusanya Olutogun, Ph.D.
Department of Animal Science
University of Ibadan
Prof. Walter S. Alhassan
West African coordinator of the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II and the Program on Biosafety Systems
Ibadan, Nigeria

Saturnina C. Halos, Ph.D.
Technical Consultant Biotechnology/Biosafety
Office of Policy and Planning
Department of Agriculture, Philippines
Muffy Koch
Golden Genomics cc
Kyalami, South Africa

Francisco G. Nóbrega, PhD
Universidade do Vale do Paraíba - IP&D
Wilhelmus Uitdewilligen, Ph.D
Plant Breeder

Leena Tripathi
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
Dr. Mrinal K. Maiti
Indian Institute of Technology

Shunnosuke Abe
Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology
Faculty of Agriculture, Ehime University
Dr. Wynand J, van der Walt PhD (Genetics)
Consultant Agricultural Biotechnologies
Member of the Board of Governors of Africabio
Biotechnology Stakeholders Association
South Africa

Julieta Fe L. Estacio
Project Development Officer
Department of Science and Technology
and Technical Secretariat
National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines
Dr. Moisés Burachik
Professor, Biotechnology
Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology and Biology
Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales
Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Prof. Dario Frisio
Dipartimento di Economia e Politica Agraria,
Agro-alimentare e Ambientale
Facoltà di Agraria
Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy
Professor C Kameswara Rao
Executive Secretary
Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education
Bangalore, India

Ambili Nair, PhD
Project Manager
BioBridge Associates
Cambridge, UK
Dr. Randy Hautea
Director , ISAAA Southeast Asia Center

Prof. Mario Pezzotti
Dipartimento Scientifico e Tecnologico
Università di Verona, Italy
Nor Chejanovsky, Ph.D.
Department of Entomology
Agricultural Research Organization
The Volcani Center, Israel

Dr. Chris Bowler
Laboratory of Molecular Plant Biology
Stazione Zoologica, Villa Comunale
Napoli, Italy
Teodoro Cardi
Senior Researcher
CNR-IGV, Institute of Plant Genetics

Patricia L. Traynor, Ph.D.
Biosafety Specialist in Agricultural Biotechnology
New AgriTech Strategies and
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Roberto Defez
Istituto di Genetica e Biofisica, A. Buzzati Traverso
Napoli, Italy

Prof. Gennaro Marino
Full Professor at Federico II University of Naples
Fellow of the Italian National Academy of Sciences
Ranajit Bandyopadhyay
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research

Mercy Mwangi
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
James DeGregori Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
Department of Pediatrics
Integrated Department of Immunology
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (UCHSC)
Denver, Colorado

Martina Newell-McGloughlin, DSc
University of California Systemwide Biotechnology
Research and Education Program
Co-Director, NIH Training Program in Biomolecular Technology
Member Board of Directors, Science Foundation Ireland
Peggy G. Lemaux, Ph.D.
Cooperative Extension Specialist
University of California

Dr. Milton P. Gordon
Professor Emeritus, Department of Biochemistry
University of Washington
Jean-Pierre Lafont
Directeur de recherches INRA
Département de Santé Animale
Centre de Recherches de Tours

Em. Prof. M. Van Montagu
Institute Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries
Ghent University
Tony Shelton
Professor, Department of Entomology, Cornell University
Professor and Associate Director of
International Agriculture

Dr. Sadik Tuzun
Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology
Auburn University, Alabama

Daniel F. Klessig
Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research
Ithaca, New York

Prof. Gian Tommaso Scarascia Mugnozza
Italian National Academy of Sciences
Rome, Italy
Thomas R. DeGregori, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
Department of Economics
University of Houston, Texas

Prof. Roberto Tuberosa
Department of Agroenvironmental Sciences and Technology
Bologna, Italy
Chris Somerville
Director, Carnegie Institution and
Professor, Stanford University

Steven H. Strauss, Professor
Department of Forest Science
Oregon State University
Robert Wager
Malaspina University College

Dr Philippe Joudrier
Donald P. Weeks, Ph.D.
Professor and Head
Biochemistry Department
University of Nebraska

Julian I. Schroeder
University of California, San Diego
Division of Biological Sciences
Dr Simon Poon
Research Fellow
School of Botany
The University of Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Isaac klein
Dept. of Breeding and Molecular Genetics
Institute of Horticulture, The Volcani Center
Henri Batoko
FNRS, University Lecturer
Catholic University of Louvain

Dr. Yehiam Salts, Senior scientist,
Department of Plant Genetics
Institute of Field and Garden Crops
The Volcani Center, ARO
Wayne Parrott
University of Georgia

Enrique Lopez-Juez, Ph.D. Lecturer
School of Biological Sciences
Royal Holloway, University of London

Ronald Sederoff
Distinguished University Professor of Forestry
North Carolina State University

Galen Dively
Profesor, Integrated Pest Management
University of Maryland
Jack Sommer, Ph.D.
MRSNZ, Fellow of AAAS
Political Economy Research Institute
Charlotte, North Carolina

Donald A. Holt
Professor Emeritus
National Soybean Research Laboratory
Senior Associate Dean, Retired
University of Illinois
Professor Bruce M. Chassy
Associate Director, Biotechnology Center
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Glenn B. Collins, Professor
Agronomy Department
College of Agriculture - University of Kentucky
Carlo Rosati, PhD
ENEA Trisaia Research Center

Mirella Sari-Gorla
Full Professor of Genetics,
Faculty of Science,
University of Milano, Italy
Joaquima Messeguer
Plant Genetics Department IRTA
Centre de Cabrils,
Barcelona, Spain

Catherine Borger
Research Officer
Dryland Research Institute
Department of Agriculture
Ralph S. Quatrano, Ph.D.
Spencer T. Olin Professor & Chairman
Department of Biology
Washington University in St. Louis

Dr. Chin Yi Lu
Principal Research Scientist
Dr Christian Walter
Forest Research, Rotorua
New Zealand

Dr Aaron Oakley BSc PhD
School of Biomedical and Chemical Sciences
University of Western Australia
Prof Tony Conner
Programme Leader - Plant Gene Technologies
New Zealand Institute for Crop & Food Research
Christchurch, New Zealand

David Cove
Clark Way Harrison, Professor
Department of Biology
Washington University in St. Louis
Dr. Govind C. Sharma
Chair, Dept of Plant and Soil Science
Alabama A&M University

Dr. Jeanne M.E. Jacobs
Plant molecuar geneticist
New Zealand Institute for Crop & Food Research
Maura C. Cannon
Research Associate Professor
Dept. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Lederle Graduate Research Center
University of Massachusetts

Mr James Mckenna
Research Scientist
Plant Cell Biology Research Centre
The University of Melbourne
Robert Welch, PhD
New Zealand Biotechnologies
Hamilton, New Zealand

Andrew Catanach
NZ Institute for Crop and Food Research
Christchurch, New Zealand
Paul G. Olin
Interim Director, Marine Advisor
University of California Sea Grant Extension
Santa Rosa, California

Michael J. Dalling
Group General Manager - R&D
James Anderson,
General Manager,
Crop & Food Research,
Lincoln, New Zealand

Dr Colin Eady
Plant Geneticist,
Crop & Food Research,
Christchurch, New Zealand
Jean-Louis Prioul
Institut de Biotechnologie des Plantes

Dr Bryan Whan, CEO
Molecular Plant Breeding Cooperative Research Centre

Francesco Sala,
University of Milano, Italy

Roberto Defez
Istituto di Genetica e Biofisica, A. Buzzati Traverso,
Napoli, Italy
Prof. Amedeo ALPI
Dipartimento di Biologia delle piante Agrarie
Università di Pisa

Prof. Giorgio Benedek
Dipartimento di Scienza dei Materiali,
Università di Milano-Bicocca
John Kaufmann

Prof. Graham Le Gros
Director of Research
Malaghan Institute of Medical Research
New Zealand
Prof. Boris A. Levenko
Alliance of Technology and Science Specialists of
Member of the Editorial Board of ATSS Journal
Toronto, Canada

Toby M Horn, PhD,
Scientist and secondary level school teacher
Author of 'Working with Bacteria and DNA in Pre-College Science Classrooms' (NABT, 1992),
Carnegie Institution of Washington,
Academy of Science Education, Washington, DC.
Dr. Gord Surgeoner, President
Ontario Agri-Food Technologies
Guelph, Ontario

David Marshall
Research Leader & Professor
USDA/ARS, Plant Science Research Unit
North Carolina State University
Dr. Richard A. Herrett
Plant Biochemist (retired)

Marita Gill
BSc (Hons - Genetics)
Fred Pontvianne
Laboratoire Génome et Développement des Plantes

Louis E.N. Jackai, PhD
Food Safety Specialist
Tuskegee University
Alan McHughen,
D.Phil. Plant Science, FACN
University of California, Riverside

David Altman, CEO
Hydration Technologies
Albany, Oregon
Tina Uchacz, M. Sc.
Performance Plants Inc.

Kevin Gellatly, Ph.D
Director of Strategic Alliances
Performance Plants Inc.
Steve Chandler

Dr Jonnie White
Potassium Development Agronomist
Canpotex / Agrow Australia

Jose Botella
Associate Professor
Head, Department of Botany
University of Queensland, Australia

David Tribe, Ph.D.
Coordinator of Biotechnology
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
University of Melbourne, Australia
Dr Erik Rikkerink
The Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand

Kent J. Bradford, Director
Seed Biotechnology Center
University of California, Davis
Richard Michelmore
Director, The Genome Center
University of California, Davis

Val Giddings, PhD
Vice President, Food & Agriculture
Biotechnology Industry Organization
Gregory C. Phillips, Ph.D.
Dean of the College of Agriculture
Editor-in-Chief, In Vitro Plant
Arkansas State University

Adrianne Massey, PhD
A. Massey and Associates
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Jesse M. Jaynes, Ph.D.
Neel Distinguished Professor of Biotechnology
Department of Biological and Physical Sciences
Kennesaw State University, Georgia

Dr. John E. Dille
Department of Biology
Winthrop University
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Drew L. Kershen
Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law
University of Oklahoma College of Law

Larry L. Murdock
Professor of Entomology
Purdue University, Indiana
Associate Professor Peter Gregg
School of Rural Science and Agriculture
University of New England
Armidale, Australia

J. S. F. Barker
Emeritus Professor (Genetics)
University of New England
Armidale NSW Australia
Dr Alan Moran
Director, Deregulation Unit
Institute of Public Affairs, Australia

Dr. R. Steven Conlan
Lecturer in genetics
University of Wales, Seansea

Andrew Apel
Editor of the AgBiotech Reporter

Dean Kleckner, Chairman
Truth About Trade and Technology
David Hildebrand,
Professor of Plant Biochemistry & Genetics
University of. Kentucky

Mark Guiltinan
Professor of Plant Molecular Biology
Pennsylvania State University
Virginia Walbot
Department of Biological Sciences
Stanford University, California

Henry I. Miller, MSc, MD
Fellow, The Hoover Institution
Stanford University, California
Dr. CS Prakash
Professor, Plant Molecular Genetics & Director
Center for Plant Biotechnology Research
Tuskegee University

James Opiyo Ochanda (BSc, PhD)Department of
Faculty of Medicine
College of Biological and Physical Sciences
Chiromo Campus, University of Nairobi
From the Research Institute for Vegetable Crops
Montanaso Lombardo (LO), Italy :

- Magnifico Vitangelo
- Mennella Giuseppe
- Onofaro Sanajà Vincenzo
- D'Alessandro Antonietta
- Palumbo Domenico
- Acciarri nazzareno
- Sabatini Emidio
- Schiavi Massimo
- Toppino Laura
- Rotino Giuseppe Leonardo
Dr. Julie Gray
Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
The University of Sheffield

Tawanda Zidenga
Plant Molecular Biology Research student
Ohio State University