Filling in the Gaps on the NRC Panel Investigating GE Crops

The National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council recently announced the proposed members of a committee that will carry out a study of the history of GE crops and their supposed negative and positive effects on farmers around the world. Unfortunately, the proposed committee lacks the expertise and diversity necessary to carry out such a study. Phil Bereano, a founding member of AGRA Watch, along with 63 other scientists and researchers from around the world have publicly questioned the NRC’s selection of committee members, and the proposed committee’s ability to provide objective, independent, and nonpartisan credible advice to U.S. policy-makers and others.

A Letter sent to the NRC on behalf of this group highlights the gaps in expertise and lack of diversity represented on the proposed committee. The group feels that based on the tasks of the study, and the complexity of the effects that GE crops have on farmers and rural populations, it is clear that the committee needs experts from a wide range of fields, almost most importantly from the social sciences. The group urges that it should include experts on the history of agri-food systems, health, anthropology and development, political economy, and it should include women and actual farmers. However, of the 19 members of the proposed committee, only one member has expertise in the social sciences, few have experience in occupational and community health, few have experience working in international contexts, zero are farmers, and only one is a woman. The vast majority of proposed members are experts in plants on the cellular or molecular level, some of whom come from institutions and agencies that promote technological approaches to achieving food security. The group finds the lack of expertise, and the potential for bias within the committee unacceptable, and urges the NRC to diversify it.

A second letter from the group of concerned scientists and researchers provides a list of experts who they say can contribute the expertise and diversity that the committee lacks. They encourage the NRC to invite these experts to present at the first public meeting and to join the committee.

The first public meeting of this study committee will be on September 15-16, click here to register to attend or view the webcast.

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