Palaces For The People
Saturday, December 27, 2003
Why we don't publish the authors of the soil ecology article:
"Genetically Engineered Crops - A Threat to Soil Fertility?"
The article was drafted already in spring 1999. Initially a leading soil ecologists promised to contribute, finding the hypothesis very important. But due to pressure from a colleage at the same institute, this scientist withdrew. We then contacted several other leading soil experts. Only one of them was critical to the article, but in a very indiscriminate and emotional way. Three of those whom we contacted contributed with important viewpoints. One of them, recognized as a world authority in this field, actually made the most extensive and important contributions of all co-authors.
However none of the soil experts wanted to contribute openly even if they supported the article. This is understandable as the article presents a hypothesis that gives a reason to stop the cultivation of all GE plants, which would mean multibillion losses to the biotech industry. Even if, from a strictly scientific standpoint, it is fully justified to propose this hypothesis, there is a risk that especially the soil experts will be persecuted for doing so. - The biotech proponents have already created a "warning example" in the treatment of the world leading food safety expert, Dr. Arpad Pusztai, who similarly threatend their interests by warning for GE foods on scientifically fully justifiable grounds (critique of the principle of substantial equivalence), see "World renowned scientist lost his job when he warned about GE foods - The Pusztai case".
This is an instance of the powerful tacit censoring influence of the mighty corporations that sponsor science to a rapidly growing extent (for more about this serious problem, see "Dysfunctional science")
The special competence of the non-soil ecology experts (their fields were a/o microbial ecology, horizontal gene transfer, genetics, gene flow and agriculture) has been necessary and valuable, because the nature of the issue requires an interdisciplinary team. Still it has been impossible to publish their names in an article, where no specialist in the main subject field of "soil ecology" has contributed, without risking their reputation. So therefore we been unable to publish it.
Because of the potentially serious complications warned for in the article, we feel we cannot take the responsibility to wait any more for willing soil ecologists to turn up. Therefore it is published now, without disclosing the names of any of the authors. This is no doubt a highly unusual measure. We hope that nevertheless the facts and ideas presented will be seriously considered.
It is, after all, the message and not the messengers that is really important in scientific literature.
On behalf of PSRAST
Jaan Suurk�la M.D.,
editor of the article
Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of
Science and Technology (PSRAST)