Biotech firms thwarting GM research, say scientists

13th April 2009
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Biotech firms are abusing their trademark controls to stop scientists fully investigating the environmental and health impacts of GM crops, a coalition of US scientists has claimed.

In a statement submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency, the 26 scientists say that because biotech crops can only be grown with the explicit permission of the producing company, ‘no truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions’.

Agreements allowing farmers to grow GM crops specifically forbid them to conduct research on the plants. No such contracts exist for conventional seeds.   

‘If a company can control the research that appears in the public domain, they can reduce the potential negatives that can come out of any research,’ Ken Ostlie, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota, told the New York Times.

Ostlie also told the paper that Syngenta had withdrawn its permission to allow him to compare one of its rootworm-resistant GM maize varieties with other manufacturer’s plants after the company decided that ‘it was not in its best interest’ to allow the trial to go ahead. 

This article first appeared in the Ecologist April 2008


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