A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Warning for the Week.....

It has already started, and the scientific reports on the UK three-year GM trials (the farm-scale evaluations [FSEs]) aren't even published until this Thursday, October 16 (see 'Spoiling Science', below). Time to take all reporting on GM crops with a massive dose of ammonium glufosinate. Both the press and the broadcasting media are being blasted with pre-emptive strikes from green campaigners against the trials, whatever their outcome. Have your pick from the following:-

First, from a disappointingly-poor piece in the Church Times (October 10) (based to some extent on The Guardian's speculations scathingly criticised by the Royal Society!): "It is clear that the scope of the FSE findings will not be enough to finalise the debate." [Nothing ever would be!];

Secondly, for sugar beet and oil seed rape, it will be rumoured darkly that the trials have given these the thumbs down. [We actually have no idea and the science will be far more subtle, whatever the conclusions];

Thirdly, unfortunately, for maize, they don't think that this can be the case, so ... guess what? The trials will be presented as discredited because they were either wrongly executed or the EU-banning of the additional herbicide, atrazine, makes them invalid. The trials must thus be re-done completely before any decision on the commercialization of GM crops is taken, mustn't they (delay, delay, at all costs!)? But, for good measure, the government has wasted lots of money, hasn't it? [Even though the poor-old government was pressed to carry out the trials in the first place because of all the hype. It's amaizin'!];

Or, fourthly, whatever, - the trials are meaningless all round and they can tell you nothing, so GM can't be commercialized, can it? [Pity some of the experimental crops were vandalised by you lot then, isn't it?].

The envirospin will be ruthless, and, sadly, it will be uncritically pedalled by many media oulets, witness the dire Independent on Sunday, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, and, today, more depressingly, even The Financial Times and BBC News Online. And beware above all the dreaded Michael Meacher ........ from outside the tent. [For 'tis he! Remember he that initiated the trials when in office!];

So just keep those sceptical antennae waving - and wait until the science itself is published on Thursday. I will provide a link to the genuine articles as soon as I can. Then read them for yourself, and ignore the spin. Philip.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

WWW EnviroSpin Watch

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