Embargoed until 00.01 6th September 2000
A confidential internal report leaked to GeneWatch UK reveals that Monsanto is involved in a global campaign to promote GM foods by influencing which experts get on international scientific committees, promoting their views through supposedly independent scientists and gaining influence with key decision makers in government departments in developing countries.
Monsantos ten page internal report, headed company confidential, summarises the activities of its Regulatory Affairs and Scientific Outreach teams for May and June 2000. It describes developments in the regulation of GM crops in 20 countries world-wide and Monsantos efforts to influence them. The countries include Japan, Bulgaria, Thailand, Mexico, Brazil and Korea as well as the USA and the European Union.
"The leaked report shows how Monsanto are trying to manipulate the regulation of GM foods across the globe to favour their interests," said Dr Sue Mayer, GeneWatch UKs Director. "It seems they are trying to buy influence with key individuals, stack committees with experts who support them, and subvert the scientific agenda around the world."
"The scale of their campaign shows just how desperate Monsanto is to save its business," said Dr Mayer. "The report shows that they have virtually given up trying to influence the debate here in the UK, having failed to convince the public of their case. But it is worrying that Monsanto has clearly stepped up activity elsewhere, particularly in developing countries. And whilst Monsanto often claim they want to listen and engage in dialogue, it is quite clear from this leaked report that this is just window dressing for a behind-the-scenes campaign to promote their products come what may. Governments and scientists are going to have to take precautions against such pressure if they are not to lose even more consumer confidence."
The following extracts from the leaked internal paper illustrate how pervasive the Monsanto campaign is:
"Global: Scientific outreach and Ag Regulatory was instrumental in assuring that key internationally recognized scientific experts were nominated to the FAO/WHO expert consultation on food safety which was held in Geneva this past month. The consultation and final report were very supportive of plant biotechnology, including support for the critical role of substantial equivalence in food safety assessments, antibiotic resistance markers used in these products, and the reservation of animal feeding studies to address specific questions rather than for routine safety"
"Thailand: A GMO detection lab was established by the Ministry of Public Health to develop methods to certify exports to Europe. The lab director Dr. Pakdi is a key player in international CODEX activities and has requested Monsantos assistance to train technicians and provide reference samples. Cooperation with this request is likely given the importance of the lab and Dr. Pakdis position."
"Global: Contacts were made with the directors of Poison Control Centers (PCC) in many countries which should be especially useful to facilitate rational regulation because the Poison Center directors are relied upon heavily by state and local agencies;.. an editorial was drafted by Dr John Thomas, (Emeritus Professor of U.Texas Medical School in San Antonio) to place in a medical journal as the first in a planned series of outreach efforts to physicians; a meeting was held with Prof. David Khayat, an internationally well known cancer specialist, to collaborate on an article demonstrating the absence of links between GM food and cancers .."
"Global: Monsanto representatives were successful at the recent Codex Food Labelling Committee meeting on maintaining two labelling options for further consideration by the committee "
View the full text of the leaked document Full text
Thai response to leaked document Full text
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Notes to Editors:
- The FAO is the UNs Food and Agriculture Organisation
- The WHO is the UNs World Health Organisation.