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EU fires pro-GMO scientific adviser who wanted to deny nations the right to ban GMOs

GMO ban

(NaturalNews) The president of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, has fired a pro-GMO professor as part of plans to permit countries within the EU to ban genetically modified crops, despite some scientific and industry claims that they are safe.

Jean-Claude Juncker, who is also the former prime minister of Luxembourg, dismissed Prof. Anne Glover, Britain's The Telegraph reported, because he felt that her pro-GMO views were themselves controversial, though not everyone supports his action.

"It's a sad day for science, policy, politics and the public in Europe," Prof. Colin Blakemore of the University of London said.

Dr. Roberto Bertollini, chief scientist and the World Health Organization's representative to the EU, also criticized Juncker, accusing him of an "unwillingness to accept independent scientific opinion," the British paper said.

"Ideology and vested interests continue to dominate the public debate in Europe and elsewhere irrespective of the attempts to bring knowledge and science based advice in the picture," said Bertollini.

'She's controversial'

Juncker's decision to dismiss Glover came as the French government made it clear that her pro-GMO stance on genetically modified biotechnology was not acceptable and that her position should be eliminated.

"She's controversial because of her views on GM. Juncker doesn't like the idea of GM crops being approved by the EU on scientific grounds. Even worse, she had upset the French," one EU source told The Telegraph.

Luxembourg has joined France, Austria, Greece and Hungary in banning GM crops on political grounds. As for his opposition to GMOs, Juncker's position is well-known, the paper said.

The Telegraph reported further:

On taking the post as commission president, despite opposition from David Cameron, the [British] Prime Minister, Mr Juncker has announced plans to review EU rules on authorising biotechnology in order to allow countries to ban their use.

Mr Juncker has also come under intense pressure from France, MEPs, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and lobby groups to abolish Professor Glover's post because of her views.

"The current chief scientific adviser presented one-sided, partial opinions on the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture, repeatedly claiming that there was a scientific consensus about their safety," said a letter signed by Greenpeace and other groups in July. "We hope that you as the incoming commission president will decide not to nominate a chief scientific adviser."

In September, Glover angered countries with anti-GMO policies when she told a Scottish scientific conference that there was "not a single piece of scientific evidence" that would support GMO bans on safety grounds.

"No other foodstuff has been so thoroughly investigated as GM," she told the conference. "Opposition to GM, and the benefits it can bring, is a form of madness I don't understand."

No transparency or accountability

Conservative Minister of the European Parliament Julie Girling said Juncker was ignoring a previous promise provided by him to the EU parliament in July that Glover's job was secure.

"I fear Mr Juncker has caved in to the green lobby. They have been very vociferous," she said. "He has reneged on promises he gave to us."

British farmers have also criticized Juncker's decision, calling it "deeply troubling."

"At a time when we need to address serious concerns around food security, energy security and the collective EU response to the threat of climate change; it is deeply concerning that the voice of science should be stifled," Meurig Raymond, the president of the National Farmers Union, said, as reported by The Telegraph.

Pro-science groups like GM Watch praised Juncker's decision to eliminate Glover's position, largely because the group said it lacked transparency and accountability:

The groups said it gave too much power to one person by enabling them to bypass and pre-empt the scientific decision-making processes already in place in the Commission. They were also concerned that the post was vulnerable to corporate lobbying and co-option.




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