Science in Society Archive

Open Letter in Support of Scotland’s Ban on GMOs

To counter a letter orchestrated by the pro-GM pressure group Sense about Science (,  the following open letter was sent to Richard Lochhead, The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment in the Scottish Government

20 August 2015

Dear Mr Lochhead:

Like many others, I was very relieved to hear of the decision of the Scottish Government not to allow the cultivation of GM crops in Scotland.

I have to say I was not surprised at the open letter that was sent to you, neither by its content nor by its dismissive style. Those who signed are of course entitled to their own opinion on the safety of GM crops, but they are quite wrong to imply as they do that this is the only possible scientific view, let alone a tenable one.

It is simply not the case that GM has a 20 year track record of safe use worldwide. There is ample evidence from both farms and laboratories to the contrary. And while we are promised all sorts of wonders in the future, so far the major beneficiaries of the technology have been the biotech industry, not the farmers and certainly not the consumers. What is more, the vast majority of GM crops being grown today have been modified specifically to promote the greatly increased use of glyphosate, which has recently been classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

To claim that Scotland will be “consigned to continued use of the old” is to ignore all the progress that is being made in improving agriculture by non-GM means, including modern techniques such as marker assisted selection.

In the interests of brevity I won’t go into detail in this message, but refer you instead to three publications that can be downloaded:

Another useful source is Steven Druker’s book “Altered Genes, Twisted Truth”; you can get a flavour of it from the review in Science in Society. This is attached, and an electronic version is available at:

If you do decide to meet with scientists to discuss their concerns, I trust it will not be only with those who support the view put forward in the open letter.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Saunders
Co-director, Institute of Science in Society.

Article first published 26/8/15

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There are 9 comments on this article so far. Add your comment above.

David Llewellyn Foster Comment left 1st September 2015 06:06:49
Corporate agribusiness is not "feeding the world" ~ it is preventing the world from feeding itself. Food imperialism is indeed the prescriptive living nightmare that Dr Ho so clearly described back in the 'nineties. It is a salient commentary on our times, that this abomination has already endured this long. Either we overcome this oligopolist corporate tyranny of neoliberal market manipulation, or we shall all find ourselves experiencing the total collapse of the civilized world; a world that is being mismanaged by experts into agonizing ecological catastrophe.

Ken Conrad Comment left 26th August 2015 23:11:02
Well said Peter, Thanks

iris jarrett Comment left 26th August 2015 23:11:56
Dear members of the Scottish government, regarding this ban on genetic modified material . If you only effect two things in government, being known and recorded for banning grossly harmful, totally unnecessary and potentially environmentally disastrous emanations such as genetically modified crops and also standing up against the madness of Trident, then you as a government will have done very well. These two things are enormous madnesses. Please don't cave in on this one, because people insult you when they say you are only banning G M because Westminster are for it. They say it's childish flag waving. They will say all manner of things to get their own way. Its even going to be apocalyptic, if they don't get their own way. It's a common device of spoiled neurotic children that have too much. . We as a society throw out so much food which in my opinion ought to be an illegal act. Why would we pretend to need a technology to feed the world when we are throwing so much away anyway? Why are we claiming to desperately need a technology which does not work? The unfortunate citizens of America have been fed on this insult to their poor inflated bodies without being informed. That is taking away choice and amounts to force feeding. How sad and how frankly sinister is that, and to worry about governments feeding their citizens harmful substances such as GM, this is NOT called paranoia. This is self preservation kicking in. The clever genetically modified scientists that know better than nature claim it is all so beneficial and harmless. Well the Americans must be super fed and super fit, eating all that force fed genetically modified substances that I would not even call food.! Yummy Yummy eat up all your nice gm, your hormones and your antibiotics and make all those businesses big and strong. Money money money, wealth creation and stuff the people! We're waving the flags and saving the world you know. We will have to be investing much more in people- lifting cranes if we want to be more like America. Good for some businesses anyway. iris jarrett

Rory Short Comment left 27th August 2015 01:01:51
GM foods are an emotive topic because their promoters are pushing them onto the public. The thinking person is naturally suspicious of the motivation of the promoters of any product the benefits of which, for them as a consumer, are uncertain. The benefits of GM products are not only uncertain but peer reviewed research has shown that the GM products themselves are harmful to life as are the pesticides used in their cultivation.

Len Winokur Comment left 27th August 2015 04:04:37
Apropos Ken Conrad's comment - ditto

dan p. warren Comment left 27th August 2015 15:03:29
Why would anyone knowingly agree to being poisened. If these GMO products are so great, where are the studies (long term 120days plus) that compare GMO Natural (organic) foods? There are none because Monsanto, Sargenta, Dow won't do them because they know full well what the result would be.FAILURE !!! Money always buys politicians.

iris jarrett Comment left 27th August 2015 20:08:04
Why does President Obama eat organic foods and strenuously avoids genetically modified"food". Why do the staff of Monsanto refuse to eat genetically modified or chemically sprayed "food" in their canteens? Why do the GMO scientists eat organic foods only? WAKEY!WAKEY!

Dianne Cobb Comment left 27th August 2015 23:11:59
GMO seeds are very expensive for farmers. Crops are not rotated and super weeds have developed around soy and corn crops requiring airborn pesticides that have adverse affects to all who live near and wide. Corn borers have resurfaced meaning it was a failure. Nature is nature after all. I first became aware in 2011. At that time, I have not eaten GE soy, corn, canola, chemical sugar or their derivatives including meat and chicken and fish that are fed GE crops. My health improved. I know I am not any more aware than the millions who support labeling of GE foods. We all know the pressure your country is facing. We also know Monsanto has far to much support from USA politicians, FDA and courts. Please be one with the people and continue your ban on Monsanto seeds. Your farmers will be better off. We also know, Monsanto's methods are not needed to feed the world. That is the smoke screen GE supporters who stand to gain in the corporate world.

Todd Millions Comment left 13th September 2015 00:12:05
The release by the Scottish government is quite weaselly in its content and line. No specifics on testing nor penalties .No mention of rescinding patent rights. References too Scotlands 'green' reputation. Mainly due too oil mafias finding a repurposing for off shore platforms for wind turbines. The subsidy soak up for this and ownership I do question. Actual green would start with a blanket ban on the herbicides for any use for starters. Even when called -Desiccants. The ammonia fertilizer used with this to 'improve' contamination via penetration of plant walls could also be taken care of via a blanket ban . Any nitrate that can't be provided by manure and legume is a loser game in mid and long term. I would also await news that these actual measures (not perception management),would not be traded away with Brussels for permission to hold another referendum-as was the retrial of the Pan Am bombing for the last one.