The National Research Council (NRC) is embarking on a new study about GMOs and recently announced the names of the scientists it has chosen to author this influential study. If you remember Food & Water Watch’s conflict-of-interest concerns last time NRC convened a GMO study, then you probably know where this entry is going.
We recently filed a letter of complaint with the NRC, detailing how nine of the 13 scientists working on the new study have ties to the biotechnology industry, work on biotechnology development or have pro-GMO perspectives. One member works directly for the biotechnology industry and another previously did (Dow Agrosciences, in both cases). Not a single industry opponent or strong critic was invited to sit on the panel, though many such scientists and experts exist—and were nominated.
You should also know that you are paying for this one-sided study with your tax dollars. The study was commissioned by the Food & Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture. These agencies have asked the NRC to provide the federal government with scientific advice about an incredibly important public policy matter—how to update our broken regulatory system around GMOs, synthetic biology and other new biotechnology products.
Based on the current committee composition, there is no way this panel can provide impartial, independent scientific advice to the federal government. And that’s where things get interesting.
Congress has actually written a rule—the Federal Advisory Committee Act—that says that the federal government cannot use the advice of NRC unless its scientific work is conducted by a “balanced” committee of scientists where conflicts-of-interests are avoided or, if absolutely necessary, publicly disclosed.
But NRC’s work is neither balanced nor is it transparent about conflicts of interests. This is troubling and unfortunate because there is a desperate need for good, independent science on GMOs, a scientific topic that is endlessly dogged by industry influence conflicts of interest.
Food & Water Watch has already called on the NRC twice to scrap its one-sided panel, but it needs to hear from you, too. If industry-aligned and pro-development scientists are going to be on the NRC’s scientific committee, why can’t industry critics and advocates of precaution also be invited?
Click here to tell the National Research Council that one-sided GMO science is not acceptable.