Leicester Scientist in National GM Debate
University of Leicester geneticist is a founder member of a GM Science Review
Panel launched recently as part of a Government initiative to promote public
debate on genetic modification and review the scientific evidence relating to
the impact of genetically modified plants on food and the environment.
issue has proved highly contentious, particularly in relation to the impact GM
crops may have on our environment, and the GM Science Review provides a forum
for scientists and members of the public to air their views and share knowledge.
The scientists involved will expect the interests and
concerns of the public to drive the review, and bring together evidence-based
knowledge which can assist understanding of these issues. Where relevant,
additional research can be recommended, and the impact of doing nothing about
modern agriculture and food production can be considered.
Pat Heslop-Harrison, of the University of Leicester Department of Biology is a
member of the panel of highly distinguished scientists invited to take part in
this independent scientific review examining the extent of current scientific
knowledge behind GM, particularly in relation to crops.
The panel is
chaired by Professor Sir David King, the Government’s Chief Scientific
Adviser, working with Professor Howard Dalton, Chief Scientific Adviser at DEFRA
and the Food Standards Agency.
open debate carried out through public meetings and the review website – www.Gmsciencedebate.org.uk
– the panel will publish a final report in the summer 2003, which will aim to
explain the outcome of the science review in terms the public can understand.
to be discussed include: GM food safety;
gene flow and detection; environmental impacts of GM crops; future developments;
and the regulatory process.
of Plant Cell Biology and Molecular Cytogenetics at the University of Leicester,
Professor Heslop-Harrison has major interests in the origins and evolution of
genetic variation, characteristics of crop plants and their wild relatives, and
biodiversity. He has recently been involved in international research to
establish molecular biology techniques for the improvement of the banana, a
vital source of food in many parts of the developing world, and been involved in
the hybridization of cereal plants to combine the best characteristics,
particularly with respect to disease resistances, of wild species and cultivated
“The GM Science Review is a very welcome development. It is vital that
there is a publicly accessible review of the range and nature of science
underpinning decisions about the introduction
of genetically modified crops. The decisions will influence the direction of the
changes taking place in agriculture and the environment, not only in the UK but
in developing countries too. The highest standard of science must be used to
drive the recommendations, which cannot be deferred indefinitely while the
environment degrades, climate changes and people starve.”
Professor Sir David King comments that
the broad ranging review of GM technology that is being conducted in the public
domain through the Science Review Panel will form basis of his advice to
Further information is available from Professor J S (Pat) Heslop-Harrison,
Professor of Plant Cell Biology and Molecular Cytogenetics, University of
Leicester, Department of Biology, telephone +44 (0)116 252 5079 / 3381,
facsimile +44 (0)116 252 2971, email firstname.lastname@example.org
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.