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April 18, 2000


Advice to US Scientists from a British Scientist


- http://www.agbioworld.org, http://agbioview.listbot.com

From: "Tony Trewavas"

Subject: advice to US scientists

Dear Prakash

You mentioned last week that 30 chefs had come out against GM. Now
the first thing you have to learn is that none of this is
spontaneous. It is all carefully organised by Greenpeace and in some
cases by FOE. The idea is to make the whole thing look spontaneous
and it is a trick used by authoritarian groupings both right and
left in the early part of the last century. In fact one of their
best propagandists said the trick is to make the lie as big and
outrageous as possible because then people think there must be
something in it.This is why you have apocalyptic visions of genes
released into the environment lasting to the end of time etc. Damage
to human health damage to cows fed GM etc. It is all pretence by
these groups actually the big chiefs don't believe a word of it.

The way these organisations work is this. They look down
their membership lists and target an individual in a particular
occupation. They write to him with apocalyptic visions etc
misinformation and suggest that isn't this dreadful and he could do
his bit for the cause by writing to others in the same occupation and
he will know a number and circulate the information they provide.
The circulated group then meet or the group are
recirculated to see if they agree with a petition; most people are
fairly passive after all it hardly makes any difference to any of
them. There are not the political organisations available to
counter this approach(i.e. proGM) so GM opponents have a field day.

The crucial thing is the greenpeace or FOE do not own up to
organising the whole thing. That gives it the feeling
that this is spontaneous actions by members of teh public about this
"dreadful" thing. IT NEVER IS. After 30 chefs it will be 80
physicians and then 200 food magazine writers and then one hundred
automobile workers and so on. These will be in process at the
moment and thie petition will be released only under central command.
The Sisters of Mercy thing is classic. How did they get to know
about which British supermarkets dont take GM? But in this case they
have more of a problem. If they are RC then the pope has given his
blessing to GM and declared it not against God and christianity.
They could easily be undermined by that but it needs someone to
point it out. But notice how the same misinformation comes up each
time. Yes indeed to be cynical the Sisters of mercy are scientists
and know all about Bt and its accumulation in the soil. Of course
they dont they have just been given the same document as all the
others and asked only to emphasise certain parts.

It is not easy to counter this political campaign. We are
scientists not politicians but you have been given a useful document
by Patrick Moore which we in teh UK did not have and you should use
it. Take the gloves off. What is needed here is knowledge of who
the actual organiser was. You can ignore him/her and write to one
of the others personally, stating that the information he/she was
circulated with was grossly inaccurate and that the source of the
information is now known to be an organisation which ten years ago
was full of well intentioned people but is now controlled by
extremists/nihilists and other subversives (use Andrew Apels
excellent summary of Moores document) whose only interests is in
destroying business/damaging trade and who have no solution to world
population problems except to let people die. These organsiations
are opposed to profit and have romantic attachments to some supposed
golden nirvana which never existed. Enclose a copy of Moores
document inviting them to open their eyes to how they have become a
fellow traveller to extremism. Als invite them to ask to remove
their name from the list. If not would they object if you
leafletted their restaurant customers with the details of the
organisation which they now clearly support. Money talks usually.

Secondly write to newspapers whenever you see critical comments.
Editors usually read all the letters even if they dont publish them.
I reckon about half the letters I have written have been published.
They let the opposition know they wont get away with it. Learn that
newspapers like short pithy statements to the point. Ring up TV
stations when you see critical comments on GM, complain that they are
damaging US business and being anti-patriotic by subscribing to
European hysteria.

Finally contact some of your most reactionary congressman the order
of Helms if you can stomach it. Use Andrew Apels summary of
Moores document and say that a subversive organisation directed
from Europe is attempting to destroy US agriculture and US
farming. Send the Moore document highlighted and ask for
assistance in this matter. I am sorry it has to come this but I
think we have no choice in the matter.The opposition is bloody
minded, anarchist and frankly merely destructive. Their sole interest
is in destroying US agribusiness and while I have caveats about the
commercialisation of GM this is the world we live in and demonising
the whole technology will have serious repercussions for the future.
I have met Haerlain, organiser worldwide of GM opposition from
Greenpeace. Frankly as authoritarian and conservative as they come.
Put another label on it if you wish. The comments about not
bothering about a few Indian and African lives seem pretty well to
fit the character even if now denied. I dont think the reporter
was lying.

All of these things are only too familiar from my own early
days when I campaigned for CND until someone suggested to me
that Sadaam Hussien might have an A bomb then I changed my
attitude to the deterrent rather quickly.

Finally organise yourselves in groups to undertake various
responsibilites. One to letter write one to phone etc. share the
burden. In the UK the burden was shared without organsiation but
devolved on to no more than ten or twelve of us. We did what we could
in the face of an unparalleled onslaught. Learn who is good at
dealing with opposition in meetings and learn simple rebuttals of
hysterical points of view. Most of us are worn out with the effort
of keeping two jobs going. I will send the two articles recently
published in newspapers on the net and they can be used as anyone
wishes. Good luck


Anthony Trewavas FRS
Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology
Mayfield Road
University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh EH9 3JH
Phone 44 (0)1316505328
Fax 44 (0)1316505392
email Trewavas@ed.ac.uk
web site http://www.ed.ac.uk/~gidi/main.html