< Back to GM Spin Doctor links


Scientists infuriated by influence of protesters.  By Steve Connor, Science Editor. 10 June 2002

Britain is in danger of being left behind in the race to develop new medical treatments because of the influence of protesters against genetic modification, the UK's leading scientific body said yesterday.

Pressure groups are drowning out the debate over the future direction of GM research by exaggerating the suffering to animals and minimising the benefits to society, the Royal Society said.

Speaking before a meeting today to discuss the pros and cons of GM research on animals, Professor Patrick Bateson, vice-president of the society, said protest groups were trying to persuade government advisers to recommend the rejection of such experiments.

"Those who are morally opposed to this research attempt to impose on the rest of society their views that GM technology is a sinister new twist in humanity's quest to conquer nature," Professor Bateson said.

"Animals that can be genetically modified are increasingly important for human diseases, such as cancer, muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis, and in assessing new therapies that one day may relieve the suffering of millions of patients," he said.

Opponents of genetic modification are trying to persuade the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission to reject GM animal research in its report to the Government later this year, the Royal Society said.

"Scientists share the concerns of the rest of society that GM animals should be subject to the same stringent regulations that govern the welfare of any animals used in research, and that their uncontrolled release into the environment should be prevented to protect our existing wildlife," Professor Bateson said.