Science in Society Archive

Monsanto Coming to British University

Monsanto, the world's leading producer of GM crops, has held meetings with a British university over potential support for research on GM food.

Nottingham University recently founded the Institute for the Study of Genetics, Bio-risks and Society. Part of the institute's research includes the study of "public attitudes" to GM crops; as though the worldwide rejection means nothing!

In an e-mail message to staff, marked "strictly confidential", Robert Dingwall, a sociology professor who heads the institute, states: "I have been asked to a meeting on March 1 arranged by the vice-chancellor with representatives of Monsanto. They are interested in a briefing about IbiS [the institute]. However, it would be naive to assume that there is no possibility that this could lead to discussions about financial support."

Nottingham already attracted widespread condemnation recently when it accepted £3.8m from British American Tobacco to fund the study of ethics. A number of staff has quit the university in protest, including Professor David Thurston, a leading cancer researcher, who took his team to London University, while the Cancer Research Campaign dropped plans to raise £1.5m for new university buildings.

A university spokesperson confirmed Nottingham had held talks with Monsanto, but only about "scientific innovations". Monsanto denied it was in talks about funding.

Monsanto runs 26 farm-scale trials in Britain, including two at Meden Vale in Nottinghamshire. The University has been at the forefront of GM food science. One of its professors produced the first GM food, a GM tomato.

Source: "University in talks with GM food firm", by Robert Mendick, The Independent on Sunday, 1 July, 2001,