INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF ENGINEERS AND SCIENTISTS FOR GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY
NEWSLETTER NO. 30
The GM food debate A personal crusade, Arpad Pusztai
Agreement to form an International Network of Whistleblower Protection Organizations, Günter Emde
Challenges for Science and Engineering in the 21st Century, Impressions of a participant, Valery Petrosyan
Audit of INES accounts 1999
A word from the chairman, Armin Tenner
INES 2000 Conference Statement, Science Engineering and Social Responsibility
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nucler War, Statement on the Conclusion of the 2000 NPT Review Conference
Statement of the INES Working Group on Biological Weapons, Control and the Project Network Preventive Arms Control
INES student Network 1999
The GM food debate - A personal crusade
Dr. Arpad Pusztai is Professor in Biophysics at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
In 1995 the Science Advisory Unit of the Scottish Office realised that even though the introduction into the food /feed chain of some genetically modified (GM) foodstuffs was imminent, no nutritional or toxicological evaluation of their potential health effects on human/animal consumers has ever been carried out. To rectify this, the then Scottish Office Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries Department (SOAEFD) announced a major programme of research work. The main objective of this unique 3-year project was to find novel and effective testing methods which could be used for establishing whether the effects of GM crops on pests, beneficial insects, the environment, nitrogen re-cycling and other bacteria, and human and animal consumers, were beneficial or harmful. Our proposal and competitive tender to SOAEFD was written by myself and Dr Susan Bardocz of the Rowett Research Institute (Aberdeen) with the help of scientists at the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI; Invergowrie) and University of Durham (UD). It was favourably peer-reviewed by the Biotechnology and Biology Science Research Council and was selected by SOAEFD for funding over that of 27 other proposals. I was chosen by the scientists involved in the project to coordinate the work. The value of this and a following connected programme was £1.6 million.
In line with its great importance for the UK, most of our work was done on potatoes, "Desiree," which had been genetically engineered by scientists of a Cambridge-based biotech company (Axis Genetics) to have increased pest resistance using a gene from the snowdrop bulb. The product of this gene (GNA) was previously shown to be toxic for potato pests but not for animals (rats).
We made significant advances during the three years. Thus, it was established that our GM-potatoes which had successfully been field-grown in the UK were indeed more resistant to aphids and nematodes and appeared to have no or only minimal harmful effects on soil bacteria. However, SCRI and UD scientists also run into problems, the most important of which was the demonstration that GM potatoes were not only harmful for aphid pests but also for ladybirds which under natural conditions control aphid damage. Even more worrying was our findings at the Rowett that, as a result of genetic engineering, the composition of the potatoes changed for the worse and young rats fed on potato diets grew less well on some of the GM potatoes than on non-GM potato diets. Moreover, some organs, including the digestive tract, and the immune system did not develop normally in the young rats eating GM potatoes. However, most worryingly, many of these effects could not be accounted for by the gene (from snowdrops) used for genetic engineering but the main culprit appeared to be the GM technology itself which may have been responsible for the damage by introducing changes in the plants own genes.
Early in January 1998 I first voiced my concern in a BBC 2 Newsnight programme that we shall soon be eating GM foodstuffs with genes in them which we have never eaten before and whose consequences cannot be predicted. There was very little media and public response to this programme because for most people this appeared to be a distant possibility. However, coming closer to the end of the three-year projects the seriousness of our findings put me into an increasingly difficult situation. My concern became amplified by the then general realisation that several GM foodstuffs, including GM soya and GM maize, whose health effects have never been tested and which are found in 60-70% of all ready-made food, have meanwhile been allowed into the food chain and sold in the supermarkets. The question was what to do? How could I reconcile my duties to fellow citizens who after all funded my research and indicate my concern to them while at the same time adhering to the unwritten rules of the scientific tradition of not talking about unpublished results in public? Eventually my quandary was resolved when the Granada "World in Action" team approached us for an interview. With the full backing of the Rowett I gave a short interview that was broadcast on 10 August 1998. In the 150 seconds of the TV programme, without disclosing experimental details I indicated my serious concern about the introduction of GM foodstuffs into the food chain because our novel and rigorous testing methods revealed that feeding of diets containing GM-potatoes damaged the health of our young rats. I also emphasized in the TV programme that "it was unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs in a botched human experiment," we therefore very urgently need to extend the same rigorous testing methods as we used for GM potatoes to GM soya and GM maize which we have by then been eating for over 18 months.
The aftermath of the TV broadcast was sensational. Some politicians, the biotech industry and a number GM scientists did read the danger signals and realised that our results with GM potatoes might have had implications for GM food generally. Even though my comments were confined to our GM potato work, because we used the same genetic engineering technique for our potatoes as the biotech scientists had used for creating most if not all of the present GM crops, none of which were tested by methods similar to ours openly and independently, a concerted campaign was started up to destroy my scientific credibility. It was hoped that by shooting the messenger bringing bad news the message will also be destroyed. Politicians, ministers, advisors to the government, practically all committees of the scientific establishment including the Royal Society competed with each other to rubbish our experiments and spread misinformation through the media. Nothing was sacred and every angle was explored to ruin our reputation. They got hold of internal reports of our work which were for our collaborators in the programme and never meant to be published. The results were taken out of context and the various committees were falling over each other to condemn our work with their "scientific criticisms." Fortunately, this steam hammer approach was so much out of all proportion and was not only unfair but also seen to be unfair by most people in the country that the campaign misfired and did more damage to the establishment than to my reputation. For most Britons I was the little David guy who stood up to the Goliaths of politics, industry and scientific administrators and who was not given a fair chance to defend himself and what he stood for. I was seen by people as the scientist who honestly tried to cooperate with the Royal Society Working Group and its Chairperson to establish the truth about GM but who, despite all the promises, never in fact got in touch with me. I was the guy who was given 35 minutes while I was doing an experiment in Norway, to respond the last referees criticisms to internal reports on our work placed on the internet by the Rowett against my wishes. It is of no great surprise that as I was not given a fair chance to defend myself by properly publishing our work, The Lancet editor called the Royal Societys attitude and treatment of me as "breathtaking impertinence." In the British publics mind I represented those other true scientists who before me tried to warn society about the dangers of BSE, nuclear power or DDT and were ridiculed by the same or similar establishment figures and politicians.
I now more than ever believe that our pioneering work, particularly as some of it has been published in high-profile peer-reviewed scinetific journals, will stand the test of time. Even though we were not allowed to complete some of our experiments and could not therefore establish the reasons for the damage caused to the rats by feeding them on GM potatoes, as said by 24 independent scientific experts, we have started something worthwhile on which future studies of GM food could and should be based. My invitation to the OECD Conference in Edinburgh on the "Human Health Aspects of GM Food" has indicated to many people that the time for the sterile debates of the last 18 months whether GM food is safe or not for consumers and the environment is over. The present GM technology, and particularly the use of viruses, bacterial plasmids, antibiotic resistance genes, etc is in the opinion of many people, nutritional scientists and geneticists, unpredictable and therefore potentially dangerous. The possible risks of creating superweeds, superbugs and new viruses and damaging the development of the young, the immune system and generally the health of both humans and animals, particularly as these changes are likely to be irreversible, is unacceptable to most people. The sooner it is accepted by the biotech industry that without proper, double-blind, placebo-controlled drug type biological testing done openly, independently and transparently on GM foodstuffs before they are approved (but retrospectively also including the ones which are already in the food chain), the general public will have none of it. It is not good enough to use these words as slogans. GM scientists must understand that the science base of GM food must be broadened by including physiologists, nutritionists, immunologists etc, because molecular biologists have no such expertise. They also must understand that the conflict of interest, such as the one shown up by the revelation that the much heralded field trials of GM crops will be overseen by scientists who are receiving pay from companies promoting the interest of the GM biotech industry, is not likely to be acceptable by most fair-minded people. These scientists must appear to be above board to all people and accepting honoraria from biotech concerns is a handicap in that respect. It is reckoned by most that what is good for members of Parliament, namely that they ought declare their interests, should also be good for the scientists who control these field trial experiments which may determine the future of our countryside. The same ought to apply to those scientists who will be carrying out human health safety assessment on GM crops. They must not only be independent of the GM biotech industry but also be seen to be independent. One of the reasons for my public support was that nobody could accuse me of having a vested interest in whether the GM potatoes we worked with were found safe or unsafe. Indeed, I have lost everything as a result of publicly revealing my concern over their safety.
There is a crying need for starting up major large-scale trials on the safety of GM food on human/animal health on a case-by-case basis. This is more than topical now that even Tony Blair seems to have realised that GM crops may not only bring benefits but can also present considerable dangers to human health and the environment. It is also imperative that, till the results of these tests are known, the GM foodstuffs already in the food chain should be withdrawn and no further releases allowed. It has to be pointed out that the planned farm-scale field trials of GM crops are irrelevant in this respect because they will not address the human health safety concerns. Moreover, many people think that these field trials are, at best, also irrelevant for the environment and, at worst, they will contribute to the genetic pollution of our countryside and therefore they ought to be abandoned or re-designed in such a way that any pollution may be contained. Accordingly, we need a moratorium to allow an open debate in which all these safety issues are discussed that an agreed programme of biological testing of GM crops and foodstuffs can start up. For food safety assessment our work with GM potatoes and young rats and the novel testing methods we developed could be used as a starting point. If these show up no major animal health problems we can progress to clinical trials with human volunteers. The methods and protocols are available and only the political will and the money is needed as I said in my closing sentences at the Edinburgh Conference. As we are in the process of setting up the new Food Standard Agency under Sir John Krebs, one of its main tasks ought to be creation of an independent, state-funded food safety laboratory, perhaps funded by a levy on the GM biotech companies planning to get their GM products included in the food/feed chain but without their direct involvement in the funding. To increase the credibility and public acceptability of this new food laboratory it should be made mandatory for its scientific personnel to declare their possible conflicts of interest before they are hired and make it compulsory for them to report any changes which might affect their independence. It is my belief that the right way to follow with GM food that I outlined in this personal crusade document would go a long way to restore the publics faith in science which has been severely dented by finding scientists on the wrong side of the arguments concerning BSE, nuclear mishaps, DDT, etc.
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Agreement to form an International Network of
Whistleblower Protection Organizations
Whistleblower organizations of several countries have agreed to form an international network cooperating for the promotion and protection of whistleblowing in public interest. Common goal is to offer assistance to individuals who take responsible action and who suffer or fear reprisals because of their ethically motivated, unselfish efforts in the public interest.
This is one result of the workshop "Towards a Culture of Individual and Institutional Responsibility" having taken place at the INES 2000 Conference in Stockholm, from 14th to 18th of June, 2000.
The participants intend to exchange:
Tom Carpenter (GAP-USA) will establish an internet home site www.whistleblower.org/international including:
The network is open for other organizations which agree with these goals. We will try to get partners in every country worldwide. Future common actions are envisaged.
Founding participants (Country, Organization, Representative, Email address):
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Challenges for Science and Engineering in the 21st Century
(Stockholm, 14-18 June 2000)
IMPRESSIONS OF A PARTICIPANT
In the welcome appeal by the organizers of the conference it has been stressed that "INES Challenges 2000" intended "to promote a broad dialogue between different actors in science and engineering: individuals, professional societies, institutions, international associations, non-governmental organizations, governments and industrial companies."
If I would be forced to make the conclusion about the results of the conference in only few words, I would say that in general the organizers have succeeded in accomplishing their principal goal. But, fortunately, I do have more space and it will be my pleasure to share with the readers my broader and deeper impressions.
The organizers have chosen to focus on four distinct key areas:
1) Developing the culture of science and engineering; 2) Science and engineering for a finite world; 3) Humanizing the economy in a global context; 4) Steps towards comprehensive security and lasting peace and both plenary presentations and working groups have been devoted to these subjects.
The first day of the conference I did enjoy the plenary lectures given by Sven Widmalm (Uppsala University) "Four hundred years of western science evolution and impact" and Pentti Malaska (Club of Rome) "Science and Technology for Eight Billion People What do we need in the Future?" and greatly acknowledged the presentation by Susan George (Transnational Institute, France) "Confronting and transforming the international economic and financial system a task for global governance."
I do share the statement of Sven Widmalm that "we, who often tend to associate science primarily with technological development, should understand the meaning of scientific knowledge in a different way than during that period, when science was still steeped in religion." I also support his idea that "the understood meaning of science depends in important ways on the impact of science on society and the environment."
Pentti Malaska believes that "the main question of science and technology today is what kind of relation they will enable us to build and maintain between the life supporting ecosystem and creation of well-being and fulfillment of human potentiality within the technosystem, the question concerning sustainability" and I think most scientists and engineers will support his belief.
There were stormy applauds in the lecture hall, when Susan George has proclaimed that "the transformation of the international economic and financial system towards more sustainability and social responsibility will be a key challenge of the next century" and I was happy to see that those applauds were mostly by younger participants of the conference.
At the end there was a performance "Science on Stage," introducing Swedish science theatre, concentrated on modern science, bringing real live professors, top researchers in their respective fields, on stage together with the actors. That particular performance has been presented by actors Peder Falk and Johan Paulsen, with the professor in theoretical astrophysics Bengt Gustafsson from Uppsala University.
The reception for the participants of the conference has been organized at restaurant "Quantum" at the Royal Institute of Technology and was quite enjoyable, specifically for those, who did not understand the announcements in Swedish that the second and the further drinks had to be paid extra! And the folk music was fabulous!
The second day of the conference started with the workshops (almost 20!), which were going on before and after the brilliant reception at the Stockholm City Hall, which was given at lunchtime by the Mayor of the city. The atmosphere in the gorgeous Hall was fantastic (having in mind that dinner for the new Nobel prizes winners is taking place here!) both when the Mayor and the INES Chairman Armin Tenner exchanged greetings and afterwards when the very good wines and the excellent food were served.
I enjoyed very much my participation in the workshop "Risk assessment of technologies in a larger context" convened by Per Sørup, because both scientific and pragmatic aspects of the problem were discussed in detail by the participants of the working group, consisting on one hand of university professors and students and on the other hand of research and administrative staff of the European Commission.
There was a brief opportunity for me to participate also in the workshop "Towards a culture of individual and institutional responsibility" and I did like very much the spirit of that discussion. Because of having a real pleasure to share my bed and breakfast with British participants Arpad Pusztai and his wife, I did get from Arpad the strong support for my impression of that workshop, in which he participated.
I was told by many colleagues from various countries that they have enjoyed in general their participation in the workshops, but most of them share with me the opinion that there was not enough time for cross-disciplinary discussions. The organizers of the conference had this in mind (what is evident from their welcome appeal), but could not arrange it, first of all because of time shortage. I think after the reception by the Mayor, the participants could better have had the poster session, walking around posters, digesting the big lunch and meeting colleagues from the other working groups.
In the evening there was a Public Forum on nuclear issues, moderated by David Krieger (Nuclear Age Peace Foundation president and INES vice-chairman, Santa Barbara, USA). The first talk by Alla Yaroshinskaya (INES Executive Committee member and Environmental Charity Fund, Moscow) was very informative and gave to the participants of the Forum the possibility to learn the state-of-the-art situation in nuclear non-proliferation problem. The former naval officer Alexander Nikitin (St Petersburg) told the public how the radioactive wastes from the atomic submarines contaminate the aquatic environment and what should be done to prevent this dangerous contamination. The final appeal of David Krieger was highly emotional and has been addressed mainly to the young participants of the Forum and was met very warmly by them.
The third day in the morning I have enjoyed very much the talk by Walter Stahel (Institut de la Durée, Geneva) "Complexity, technology, sustainability," which started from the statement, that "future technology paths will be confronted with increasing systems complexity and with the need for sustainability." The well known Buddhism and Taoism definition "Happiness = Goods / Wishes" and the statement by Seneca "If you want to be happy do not increase your property and cut your wishes" have been reminded to the listeners. The speaker opposed to Malaskas disbelief "that a structural shift of the whole economy toward strong dominance of services will play an important role in the pursuit of sustainability." According to Stahel, "the drivers of this shift are business and technology issues, not the environmental ones."
In the afternoon I did not attend two lectures on "gender problems," because in my Laboratory of Physical Organic Chemistry at the Lomonosov Moscow State University and in my Department of Environmental Control within the Institute of Nature Protection in Moscow all women and men have absolutely equal rights and obligations, and I do not like to participate in this type of discussion.
Contrary to that, in the end of the day there was a report from the student pre-conference "Future of Science and Technology as the Students see it," which took place13-14 June 2000 in Uppsala. For me it was a real pleasure to be in a Student Pub, to drink beer and to eat salad, listening very attentively how students see their perspectives in scientific and engineering communities.
The fourth day in the morning I did my best following the attempts of Martin OConnor (New Zealand) in his lecture "Science, Ethics and Economics" to answer the question, which has been put by Groucho Marx: "What has the future ever done for me&." At the end I couldnt get the pragmatic answer, but it was interesting to see how the speaker is trying to create the equivalent of carrying capacity in considerations of sustainable development on regional and global scale.
After the working groups made their conclusions and presented them at the poster session there was a Panel Discussion "Science, education and future of universities," which in my opinion, was not a successful event, mainly because the moderator and the panelists were not well prepared for the discussion. This is why the young participants in the audience have shown (at least, twice!) their dissatisfaction with what was going on in the hall.
The first plenary lecture "New paradigm for the engineering sciences" on the last day of the conference was presented by Mona Dahms (Aalborg University, Denmark), who underlined the need of modern society "for engineers who are aware of and take responsibility for the impact of technological development on human welfare, social integrity and ecological sustainability, at the global level as well as at regional, national and local level."
I did enjoy also what Barbro Westerholm (President of the Swedish Federation of Senior Citizens) was saying in her lecture "The culture of responsibility from individual to institutional responsibility." I strongly support her statement that the researcher cannot be "morally responsible for the application of the knowledge he or she has produced," particularly because "the application of the knowledge might come generations later."
The lecture "Science by whom, science for whom: a southern perspective" has been brightly presented by Ana Maria Cetto (INES Council Member, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico), in which the attempt was made to answer the following questions: 1) What are the contributions of developing countries to science? 2) How do we want to develop and are we doing so? 3) What kind of science do we need? 4) What role do we as scientists have in the future change?
In conclusion of the conference, Bengt Gustaffson made some final remarks, conclusions and outlook. In his opinion the workshops were more interesting than the plenary lectures. On the other hand, he also believes that no connections between working groups and lack of time for discussions are important shortcomings of the conference. I have mostly enjoyed the photo he showed: the building in fire, but people do not care, because they watch football in front of that building. I better leave to the readers the interpretation of this photo and will give you more of my impressions of the conference.
First, I wish to emphasize that the role of education in the development of science and engineering has been shown clearly and what is very important that the further development of universities, particularly in bringing the modern knowledge to the public at large has been stressed. Second, student participation made the conference live and higher standard. The Student Pub and Student Newspaper were two attractive things for many senior participants of the conference. Third, the Swedish colleagues did a lot to make the conference successful in general, but many foreign participants told me they were missing the cultural events (excursion around the city, concert, etc).
In the end I wish to express my satisfaction with the efforts of INES in organizing big and small meetings of engineers and scientists who really feel their responsibilities at the global, regional and local level for peace, security and sustainable development.
Dr. Valery S. Petrosyan, Professor of Chemistry, Lomonosov University, Moscow, 119899 Russia
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Audit of INES accounts 1999
An examination of the INES books over the year 1999 has been performed by Dieter Meissner, treasurer, Andrea Bonertz-Jacobs, bookkeeper, and Armin Tenner. All expenditures have been checked on correctness and relevance. The books have been found in a perfectly correct condition. The balance of INES income and expenditures in 1999 will be published in the INES Annual Report.
Editor: Armin Tenner, Buziaustraat 18, 1068 KN Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Tel/Fax: , Email:
Printing: Jürgen Heinze, Dortmund, Germany
There is a pure ASCII version available from the editor on request.
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A WORD FROM THE CHAIRMAN
The INES conference in Stockholm came to its conclusion. In this Newsletter you may read reports of the conference from different points of view. We now will have to evaluate the results of the conference and find the lines along which these results may strengthen our organization and our future effort.
The culture of responsibility was in the title of a workshop and was the subject of several plenary presentations. The presence of two prominent whistleblowers, Alexander Nikitin and Guillermo Eguiazu showed the real life of whistleblowing to the conference. The creation of an international network of whistleblower organizations, as announced in the present issue of the Newsletter is one of the concrete results of the conference. It will intensify the effort of the INES project group INESPE.
Very important was the performance of the younger generation during the conference. Starting with a pre-conference in Uppsala, they migrated to Stockholm to take an active part both in the organization and in the discussions of the main conference. Interesting younger people for the work of INES has been one of the main goals of INES in the last years. The Stockholm conference yielded a most encouraging result.
There are various activities being planned for the coming months. From September 29th till October 1st, a workshop will be held at Kaliningrad State University. The title is Regional Aspects of Sustainability and the Role of the Universities." The workshop will give us the opportunity to meet Russian colleagues and discuss their local and global problems. A program for this meeting has been published in issue 29 of this Newsletter. In addition, in that Newsletter the conference about Africa was announced, concentrated on the problems of the Great Lake area and to be held in Dakar. We think that we can realize this project in the next year.
From to May 2001, the annual INES Council meeting will be held, this time in Berlin. The program for this meeting and the connected activities before and after the meeting will be announced later.
Armin Tenner, Amsterdam, July 2000
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INES 2000 CONFERENCE STATEMENT
SCIENCE, ENGINEERING AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
At the edge of the 21st century science and engineering have provided humanity with keys to knowledge and to improved quality of life. Despite these achievements, never before have so many people suffered from poverty and disease. Unfortunately, having the keys does not assure that the doors will be opened for all.
The 20th century has awakened us to the opportunities inherent in organized science and engineering, but also brought us to the brink of utter devastation by developing ever more powerful weapons of mass destruction. Such weapons remain acute threats to humanity and demand a response from society in general, and scientists and engineers in particular.
Science and engineering are challenged by the complexities of nature and modern societies. Challenges also arise from the need to overcome poverty, assure sustainability and promote social learning and responsive innovation.
Science and engineering have both positive and negative potentials and effects. To support the positive and prevent the negative consequences of science and engineering requires a culture of responsibility, which must embrace both individual scientists and engineers and the institutional framework within which they operate.
Science and its technological applications should not be allowed to serve destructive ends. Scientists and engineers have a responsibility to society in seeing that science and its products are not misused. They also have a responsibility to engage in and promote beneficial uses of science and engineering.
Meeting these complex and demanding challenges will require changes in the relationship of science to society, the institutional structure of science and engineering, and the ethical standards and value orientations of scientists and engineers.
Appropriate education in general and education and research programs in science and technology in particular, require corresponding changes and sustained support. It is also important to enhance communication about the process of science and its actual and potential outcomes, especially through improved linkages to policymakers as well as through dialogue with the public at large.
Assuming society wants to use all resources of creativity, we call for equal gender opportunity at all levels of science and technology, especially at the decision-making level. Similarly, the inclusion of all cultural groups and sectors of society will enrich the diversity and responsiveness of science and engineering.
New priorities have to be sought in applied research and development by asking: How can science and engineering contribute to satisfying basic human needs? How can the demands arising from public interest be met? Answers can be found through a wide dialogue of stakeholders. This implies in particular a change in the professional roles of engineers from disciplinary technical experts to broad-minded ethically and ecologically responsible agents of social and material change.
We call upon scientists and engineers everywhere to exercise personal responsibility for ideas, products and services and to contribute to building institutional responsibility. Such responsibilities are an important key to focussing science and engineering on constructive ends in the 21st century.
Stockholm, June 18.2000
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International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
Statement on the Conclusion of the 2000 NPT Review Conference
For four weeks in April and May, the 187 state parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) met in New York for the 2000 NPT Review Conference. The parties meet every five years to review the status of international efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons, assess compliance by the parties with their treaty obligations, and to chart future courses of action to realize the goals of the treaty, among them the elimination of nuclear weapons.
At the conclusion of this years NPT Review Conference, the first since the NPT was, indefinitely extended in 1995, a considerably detailed final consensus document was issued by the parties to the NPT. This document, which followed long and difficult negotiations, provides an important basis for measuring the success, and/or shortcomings, of the 2000 NPT Review Conference. In our view, the Review Conference produced some modest victories for those who advocate the prompt and complete abolition of nuclear weapons. It was also, for reasons explained below, a political success for the New Agenda Coalition (NAC), a group of middle powers (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden) seeking to advance the goal of a nuclear weapons free world.
Deeds, not words, however, will ultimately determine whether the 2000 NPT Review Conference, and indeed the NPT itself, has succeeded in its avowed purpose. Some aspects of the final document are very encouraging. Advocates of abolition, both NGOs and states, must now use the leverage provided by the final document to push, prod and compel all NPT parties to fulfill their commitments.
We are also cautious in our appraisal of the NPT Review Conference at this stage because of an issue that loomed over the conference without being addressed directly in the final document, and that is the possible U.S. deployment of a national missile defense system (NMD). Russia, China and even many NATO allies are firmly opposed to NMD. Indeed, Russia has threatened to withdraw from all existing nuclear arms control treaties if the U.S. proceeds with deployment and has made its recent ratification of START II conditional on non-deployment. We are, therefore, mindful that any progress on non-proliferation and disarmament that may have been made in New York could be undone if U.S. President Clinton, or his successor, decides to proceed with NMD.
Enforcing compliance with Article VI of the treaty is particularly important to IPPNW. Article VI contains the core promise, the essential quid pro quo that lies at the heart of the NPT: a promise from the nuclear states (the U.S., Russia, the U.K., France and China) to eliminate their own nuclear arsenals in exchange for the non-nuclear weapon states pledge not to acquire nuclear weapons.
Below is a brief overview of what we consider to be the key elements of the 2000 NPT Review Conference final document.
1. Unequivocal Undertaking
Throughout much of the NPTs history the nuclear powers, especially the United States, have stated that the abolition of nuclear weapons was an "ultimate goal." These words, "ultimate goal," were used as a rhetorical shield by the nuclear weapon states against accusations that nuclear disarmament was not proceeding quickly enough. They allowed the nuclear status quo to remain in effect for three decades and had the effect of postponing, perhaps indefinitely, the principal objective of the NPT: the establishment of a world without nuclear weapons.
The word "ultimate" was dropped from the Review Conference final document to describe the goal of elimination of nuclear weapons. Instead, the final document, in referring to Article VI, speaks of "an unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals..." This is the strongest political statement on abolition by the nuclear weapon states to date. While no timetable is established, this wording narrows the "wiggle room" available to the nuclear powers, particularly the U.S., to indefinitely defer their full compliance with Article VI. The statement further asserts that "the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons." Again, however, deeds, not words, are needed to turn rhetoric into reality.
2. Preserving and Strengthening the ABM Treaty
NMD was implicitly addressed at the NPT Review Conference when the parties called in the final document, again referring to implementation of Article VI, for "preserving and strengthening the ABM Treaty." Without modifications, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty would prohibit NMD and the U.S. is seeking to negotiate such modifications with Russia. The language of the document ("preserving and strengthening") is ambiguous in that it allows Russia and the vast majority of NPT state parties to argue that the ABM Treaty must remain unchanged. Our concern, however, is that the U.S. might argue that modifying the ABM Treaty qualifies as "preserving and strengthening" a transparent and, in our judgment, disingenuous argument that would undermine the basis of consensus that led to the final document. Abolition advocates, and opponents of NMD, must vigorously support the majority view.
3. Nuclear Doctrines
The final document also included an unprecedented commitment toward "a diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies to minimize the risk that these weapons ever be used and to facilitate the process of their total elimination." This provides a basis for challenging the nuclear doctrines of the nuclear weapon states and NATO.
Another first for the NPT was agreement on the "principle of irreversibility to apply to nuclear disarmament, nuclear and other related arms control and reduction measures." This means that once weapons are dismantled or destroyed they should not be rebuilt or replaced.
5. Increased Transparency
The final document calls, for the first time in the history of the NPT, for "increased transparency by the nuclear-weapon States with regard to their nuclear weapons capabilities and the implementation of agreements pursuant to Article VI..." Although there are no specific examples of how the nuclear weapons states are to fulfill this obligation, there is now a bona fide basis for demanding it.
6. Further Reductions of Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons
Again, for the first time, the NPT parties have explicitly called for the "further reduction of non-strategic nuclear weapons, based on unilateral initiatives..." This part of the final document explicitly asserts the expectation of the parties that the nuclear weapons states will move unilaterally to reduce tactical or theater nuclear weapons. This assertion takes on particular significance in light of current NATO practice as well as Russias new nuclear doctrine, which lowers the threshold for nuclear weapons use to deflect a conventional attack on its territory, and the potential introduction of tactical nuclear weapons into regional conflicts. Again, the language provides leverage for pushing the nuclear weapons states to act on their own to reduce non-strategic nuclear arsenals.
IPPNW, as a member of the Back from the Brink Campaign, has been advocating that the nuclear states should take a variety of measures to take their nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert. Although the final document does not explicitly call for the de-alerting of nuclear weapons now on high alert, it does call for "concrete agreed measures to further reduce the operational status of nuclear weapons systems." This is, effectively, a call for de-alerting nuclear weapons to help avoid nuclear war by accident or miscalculation. This language provides potential leverage for abolition advocates who view de-alerting, as we do, as a high priority.
8. De-linking Nuclear and General Disarmament
The nuclear weapon states, and the U.S. in particular, have historically argued that the language of Article VI only contemplates nuclear disarmament in the context of general and complete disarmament. This interpretation has allowed the nuclear weapon states to essentially defer forever their obligation to eliminate their nuclear arsenals since general and complete international disarmament is, at best, a goal that may only be achieved in an unforeseeable future. The final document now clearly de-links nuclear disarmament from general disarmament while re-affirming "that the ultimate objective of the efforts of the States in the disarmament process is general and complete disarmament under effective international control."
The final document urges all states not party to the NPT (Cuba, India, Israel and Pakistan) to accede as non-nuclear weapon states "promptly and without condition." The document also explicitly states that despite their nuclear test explosions in 1998, India and Pakistan are not considered by the NPT state parties to be nuclear weapon states, and it calls upon India, Pakistan, and Israel to place their nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. The final document also calls upon India and Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (which Israel has signed).
10. Fissile Materials Ban
The final document recognizes that fulfillment of NPT Article VI requires a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices..." and "regrets that negotiations have not been pursued on this issue." Progress in the Conference on Disarmament on a fissile materials cut-off treaty has been non-existent since 1995, when the NPT Review and Extension Conference recommended such negotiations.
11. Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
In several paragraphs the final document reaffirms the importance of nuclear weapon free zones in the nuclear disarmament process and urges the continued creation of such zones "around the globe."
In our view,
these are among the most significant developments to arise from the 2000 NPT Review Conference. We see the final consensus document as further support for the view that abolition is a legitimate and achievable goal and that possession, use, and threatened use of nuclear weapons are, as the World Court has said, illegitimate and illegal under international law. We believe the final document provides rhetorical and political leverage for our efforts to de-alert nuclear weapons, to prevent deployment of NMD, to bring about prompt, dramatic reductions in nuclear arsenals, and, most importantly, to advance the complete elimination of nuclear weapons through negotiation and implementation of a Nuclear Weapons Convention.
At the same time, we recognize that the signing of the NPT some thirty years ago raised similar hopes that were dashed as the years passed. Nuclear disarmament has proven an elusive goal. Accordingly, we take a guardedly optimistic view of the outcome of the 2000 NPT Review Conference. The NPT remains intact and the parties have evinced a commitment to try and realize its full promise. For that promise to be fulfilled, however, IPPNW and other NGOs, as well as the non-nuclear parties to the NPT must be prepared to wage a constant and energetic campaign.
The 1996 World Court Advisory Opinion on Nuclear Weapons, which IPPNW was instrumental in securing, played a significant role in the deliberations of the 2000 NPT Review Conference and is cited in the final document as a legal basis for some of the commitments the parties have agreed to undertake with regard
to nuclear disarmament. The New Agenda Coalition (NAC) countries provided critical leadership at the Review Conference in the face of nuclear weapon states pressure on non-nuclear weapon states during the deliberations. The NAC countries were steadfastly outspoken advocates of the need to move more quickly towards complete nuclear disarmament. IPPNW has supported the NAC directly and through the Middle Powers Initiative, which is headquartered at IPPNWs headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In summary, the 2000 NPT Review Conference produced a final document that reflects many important and favorable developments. Since the late 1980s, IPPNW has been a staunch advocate of the abolition of nuclear weapons. Our understanding of the health and environmental consequences of nuclear warfare, and our solemn obligation as physicians to protect and preserve life and health make abolition, for us, a moral imperative. Thousands of nuclear warheads remain on hair-trigger alert and tens of thousands more could be launched in hours. Just one of these weapons is capable of slaughtering millions. And explosion of just a few could have devastating and long-lasting effects on the environment, disrupt transportation and delivery of food, fuel, and medical supplies, and possibly trigger famine and mass starvation.
The NPT remains vitally important to efforts not only to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, but also to achieve a nuclear weapons free world. It is now up to IPPNW, the NGO community, and sympathetic state parties to the NPT to make the abolition of nuclear weapons, the promise of the NPT, a reality.
Contact: Merav Datan, <>
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Statement of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility
Working Group on Biological Weapons Control and the Project Network Preventive Arms Control
Cooperative Initiatives with Respect to the Commitments in Article X of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)
Infectious diseases today are recognized as global health problems, with the emergence of new pathogens or the re-emergence of old ones reflecting a tendency that is becoming more and more apparent. Factors contributing to this situation are increased international travel and commerce, human population shifts and behaviour, microbial adaptation and variation, breakdown of public health measures, and abnormal natural occurrences that upset the delicate balance of host-parasite interactions . According to a study compiled for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), there is a renewed interest today in international cooperation in infectious disease control, spurred on by the fact that "health risks anywhere can pose a threat everywhere" .
Biological weapons control must be viewed within this global context, where international cooperation is essential for countering health risks due to infectious agents and their pathogenic products.
Article X of the BWC  commits States Parties to participate in "the fullest possible exchange of equipment materials, and scientific and technical information" with regard to the use of biological agents and toxins for peaceful purposes. This has particular relevance for developing countries who have to make considerable sacrifices in joining a compliance protocol and at the same time have deficits in the technology resources needed to establish and maintain health security. In the recognition that health security is a global problem, the Ad Hoc Group has considered various proposals for implementing Article X through provisions stated in Article VII of the rolling text of the Protocol to the BWC  calling for the Organization to develop a framework for activities promoting scientific and technological cooperation and exchange, as well as providing technical assistance to States Parties: "Such a framework may include activities conducted in collaboration with relevant international organizations and agencies.. including, but not limited to, the FAO, ICGEB, IVI,, OIE, OPCW, UNEP, UNIDO, WHO, and the Secretariat of the CBD."
Alliance Against Infectious Diseases (AIIAID))
In this spirit, an initiative called the Alliance Against Infectious Diseases (AllAID) has been formed . This is an "open-ended consortium of technical partners with complementary capabilities" that has the aim of bringing together the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), the International Clinical Epidemiology Network (INCLEN), the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), the Training Programmes in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET), and the World Health Organization (WHO) to build a program designed to better counter infectious disease through global monitoring, research and training. To fill conspicuous gaps in infectious disease control, the initiative plans to concentrate resources on critical regions and critical services to support regional health self-sufficiency. It is thought that long-term training and research will help build regional capacities for disease recognition and management.
INES and the Project Network Preventive Arms Control welcome and heartily support this initiative.
Genetic profiles on pathogenic microorganisms through multilocus sequence typing
We would further like to point out one type of activity that we feel could contribute significantly to the AllAID initiative in the area of global infectious disease surveillance.
The need for effective methods of identifying microorganisms with increased virulence or transmissibility as well as antibiotic-resistant strains has prompted a novel approach to molecular typing primarily designed for global epidemiology. This approach is called multilocus sequence typing (MLST)  which involves using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify DNA fragments (approximately 450-500 base pairs long) of a limited set (for example seven) of designated genes of a particular bacterium and then sequencing the PCR products either manually or by using an automated sequencer. For each gene, deviating sequences in different isolates of the bacterium are designated as alleles of that gene and the alleles of the seven loci provide an allelic profile, which unambiguously defines the sequence type of each isolate. The accumulation of nucleotide changes (mutations) in conserved genes is relatively slow, and the allelic profile based on such slowly evolving genes is stable enough over time for the method to be well suited for global epidemiology. Genes that change more rapidly may be useful for short-termed, local epidemiology to determine, for example, if different isolates from a localized outbreak of disease are the same or different strains .
The technique has been successful in identifying antibiotic resistant clones of Streptococcus pneumoniae isolated from an outbreak in Taiwan, and in tracing the origin of these clones . A data base for pneumococcal multilocus gene sequence typing has been set up and the active participation of all scientists working with this microorganism has been solicited  for continuing studies. Another successful application has been made in the case of Neisseria meningitidis strains . Especially pertinent to BWC compliance, a similar approach was recently used to study genetic relationships within Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax . Even though this bacterium is one of the most genetically homogeneous pathogens known, the authors of the study were able to determine genomic regions containing enough variability to allow discrimination among different Bacillus anthracis isolates.
Multilocus sequence typing is a fairly simple procedure requiring only the ability to carry out PCR and to sequence the PCR fragments after amplification. These are techniques that are readily learned and already are or will soon be available to public health laboratories in the developed world and to an increasing number of laboratories in the developing world . The approach is applicable to most bacteria and to many other haploid microorganisms as well . Since the work would be carried out in the framework of established research projects, there would be very little additional costs involved in the program. The applicability to particular microorganisms of relevance that have not yet been examined in this context will of course have to be rigorously tested. We feel that the method has proved its usefulness in several cases and has tremendous potential with regard to cooperative measures in the area of disease surveillance and tracking of pathogenic organisms. As such it could contribute decidedly to the promotion of transparency and building confidence in a BWC compliance regime.
It is proposed that States Parties to the BWC call upon their scientists who work with pathogens to determine allelic profiles of isolates in their locations and submit the genetic profile sequences to open MLST databases. It would be most efficient if there were a central database sponsored by an international organization, such as the ICGBB.
1. Madigan, M.T., Martinko, J.M., and Parker, J. (2000) Brock Biology of Microorganisms, Ninth Edition, Prentice Hall International, Inc., New Jersey.
2. Zacher, M.W. (1999) Global epidemiological surveillance. International cooperation to monitor infectious diseases, in I. Kaul, I. Grunberg, and M.A. Stern (eds.), Global Public Goods. International Cooperation in the 21st Century, Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford, pp.266-283.
3. United Nations (1972) Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling Bacteriological (Biological of) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, General Assembly resolution 2826 (XXVI), New York: United Nations.
4. United Nations (2000) Ad Hoc Group of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, Procedural Report, BWC/AD HOC GROUP/51, April 6, Geneva.
5. AllAID (2000) Alliance Against Infectious Diseases proposal for global monitoring, research and training to control infectious diseases. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY. .
6. Maiden, M.C.J., J.A. Bygraves, E. Feil, G. Morelli, J.E. Russell, R Urwin, Q. Zhang, J. Zhon, K. Zurth, D.A. Caugant, I.M. Feavers, M. Achtrnan, and B.G. Spratt. (1998) Muitilocus sequence typing: a portable approach to the identification of clones within populations of pathogenic microorganisms. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 95, 3140-3145.
7. Enright, M. C., and B.G. Spratt (1999) Multilocus sequence typing. Trends in Microbiology 7, 482-487.
8. Keim, P., L.B. Price, A.M. Klevytska, K.L. Smith, J.M. Schupp, R. Okinaka, P.J. Jackson, and M.E. Hugh-Jones (2000) Multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis reveals genetic relationships within Bacillus anthracis., Journal of Bacteriology 182, 2928-2936.
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INES student Network 1999
The tale of the student network activities during 1999 is the tale of how five non-suspecting Swedes get drawn into a project much, much larger than they had intended. It is a story of how you get five innocent students to work, grow, communicate and pull together a network of INES students.
Generation shift is a problem of all organizations. For student organization it just comes quicker. Drawing upon the last efforts of the (senior) students our first victim was drawn into this tale. A paid air ticket is not the sort of invitation you turn down. To the inexperienced, the prospect of a weekend in Amsterdam overweighs the unknown workload of some 2-3000 emails that were to come. At the same time a technology-ethics study group in Uppsala was being infiltrated with vague suggestions of helping out with a one day meeting for a (as we thought) already financed conference.
At last, the five were brought together and an extraordinarily creative process was set in motion. We wanted to gather all the students to prepare them for the conference. We wanted sufficient time to explore the topics of the conference. We wanted participation from the south and east. We wanted not only academic discussions, but also down to earth experiences in sustainable practice. We wanted to have fun while arranging the meeting. Once started we found ourselves standing alone, with a budget as black as a black hole. Five innocent students wondered in despair if there was money behind the words and if the student participation was still a high priority on the agenda, now that they had us safely in their trap.
Meetings took place, email servers where overloaded and we got down on our knees to beg institutions and companies for money. More than once we asked ourselves if it was all worth it; the late nights, the endless telephone calls and that Swedish mobile phone manufacturer declaring that they had no need to come in contact with environmentally interested students. But you let us into the council and gave us insight to all your meetings, and we gradually found out that we could do this at least as good as the seniors.
So was it worth it? Well, you caught us in a good mood. We managed to raise 50 of the 70 000 D-marks that were needed. We got participants from Africa, North and South America, Eastern and Western Europe. So if you ask us if it was worth it we will say YES! If you ask us we would do it again we will say DEFINITELY NOT!!!!! But give us DM 70 000 and we will help you find another bunch of innocent students who can repeat our mistakes& But first we will all sit on our behinds in very quiet places, staring into the sky in order to recover from lack of sleep, overload of stress, old worries and sore muscles that appeared after all the fun we had.
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