Dateline: November 5, 2003

This is the weekly electronic information service of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility

Editor: Tobias Damjanov, e-mail: 
WNII is archived at: http://inesglobal.org/archive.htm    
INES homepages: http://inesglobal.org       http://www.inesglobal.com/
INES International Office   
INES Chair: Prof. Armin Tenner    [Please note that the first "1" in q18 is the number one, while the last "l" is an "L"]

CONTENTS of WNII No. 33/2003


UK: Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) on genetic modification (Source: SGR Press Release, 4 November 03)

Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) is an organisation of some 600 UK scientists concerned by the use and misuse of science and technology, and we would like to comment on some of the points made by the 114 biotechnology scientists in their letter to Tony Blair ("Scientists complain GM debate was mishandled", 1st November), with which we disagree.

Genetic modification of crops was introduced by multinational companies as an initiative for making potentially huge profits, leading ultimately to the control of the food chain. It has been seized upon by the Government as a significant contributor to the British economy. Unfortunately, the products were developed and then sold to American farmers and put upon the plates of the American public without making clear the nature of the technology that had been used. By the time these companies were ready to repeat their marketing operations in Europe, many of the scientists and the general public in Europe were already informed about the technology. They had also gathered information about the uncertainty, unreliability and the many failures of the modification process itself and of the performance of genetically-modified crops in the field. Europeans said 'No' to allowing such crops to be grown here. Free-marketeers might ask why a new kind of food should be inflicted on a population if some 90% does not want to buy it.

Scientists who have spent the last several years pointing out the dangers of genetic engineering, only to have their warnings dismissed by Government advisory bodies, will be surprised that the signatories to the letter feel that the Government has not been doing enough to support them. The Government has, in fact, been keen to promote genetic modification, even appointing a Science Minister who has made great contributions to the industry and who has himself a large vested interest (in a blind trust) in its success. Advisory and regulatory bodies are weighted with pro-GM members with close connections to the GM industry and, as recently seen with the GM Science Review Panel, members sympathetic to arguments against GM crops may be subjected to harassment.

It is understandable that scientists who have for several years enjoyed a bonanza of funding for research on genetic engineering should be dismayed when a threat to the continuation of their good fortune suddenly emerges. In response to public disquiet about the entire issue of GM crops and foods, the Government that was their patron and which provided enormous sums of money for their work, commissioned studies designed to allay the fears of the public and to convince them of the benefits of accepting GM technology. Unfortunately for the pro-GM scientists, and to the surprise and embarrassment of the Government, the studies have provided evidence supporting many of the arguments made by anti-GM campaigners. The letter from the 114 scientists is a plea to the Government to save them, in spite of ever more evidence of the damage resulting from their research.

Science has reached a point where the imagination and technical capabilities of scientists are running ahead faster than society can evaluate and control the outcome of their achievements. The perception of many scientists is that all that can be done in science should be done - and if we do not do it, a competitor will. But their theoretical models of the natural world do not encompass the complexities of the real natural world. Nature works in profoundly subtle, intricately balanced and interconnected ways that the human race does not yet fully appreciate. It is for this reason that independent scientists urge caution before we release into the environment and into our own bodies, crops and foods that have been developed by crossing not only dissimilar species but even kingdoms. The long-term consequences cannot be predicted.

We have already begun to see some of the adverse effects of genetic engineering, such as the creation of several kinds of superweeds with multiple herbicide-resistance in Canada (a fact, not a 'claim'); spread of GM genes to wild plants in the United Kingdom; damage to organs and the immune system of experimental animals given GM feed; transfer of GM DNA to bacteria in the human gut. Experiments showing harm to animals and transfer of GM material in human gut have not been repeated or carried further. This is not surprising, as scientists who present evidence of harm of a controversial process have been pilloried in the past. This has been true not only in the case of GM crops but also in the crises of BSE and foot-and-mouth disease, for example.

The obligation of the Government must not be to protect the interests of the 114 (and other) scientists who have unfortunately been led up an unfruitful path but rather to look beyond and to step back from a rush to engage fully in a technology that already shows signs of threatening human health and the environment. Let the molecular biologists turn their attention to genuinely advantageous uses of their knowledge and abilities in ways that do not invade the genome. Scientists must work in partnership with nature, avoiding further stress and disruption of life and the environment on which life depends. Only under such conditions can we be confident that science will lead us to a better future.

USA: Nuclear Age Peace Foundation: "Waging Peace" Fall 2003 http://www.wagingpeace.org 

The Fall 2003 issue (Vol. 13, No. 2) of NAPF's print magazine "Waging Peace" carries the following:


Abolition 2000 homepage: http://www.abolition2000.org  Grassroots News: http://www.napf.org/abolition2000/news/ 

Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons

Meeting in Manchester, UK on October 17 and 18, the Executive Committee of Mayors for Peace approved an Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons.

The high points of this campaign are:

The World Conference of Mayors for Peace was established by the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1982 to promote solidarity and cooperation among cities in arousing the collective international will to create a peaceful world free from nuclear weapons.

For more information about Mayors for Peace visit:  http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/mayors/english/ 

New French nuclear military doctrine by 2004?

French President Jacques Chirac "will announce a new doctrine of nuclear deterrence which "incorporates the risk posed by the 'rogue states'", according to the French daily "Liberation," which says that Chirac "should confirm this in the next few weeks."

Officials at the Elysee Palace have been denying any "shift in doctrine" ever since 8 June 2001 when Chirac had redefined France's strategic doctrine for the 21st century at a speech at the Institute of Advanced Studies for National Defense (the IHEDN). He spoke then clearly of the possible use of nuclear weapons against "regional powers possessing weapons of mass destruction" who could be threatening France's "vital interests" - in other words "rogue states."

The daily Liberation, which presented this dossier on its front page and two inner pages, writes that "French nuclear deterrence is being revolutionised" and that "Jacques Chirac should confirm this is the next few weeks."

In an article entitled "The 'madmen' targeted by France's nuclear arsenal," Liberation explains that "the shift in doctrine will be definitive at the start of 2004," quoting "a high military source."

"Long set in concrete, the Gaullist doctrine of the deterrence by the weak against the strong seems to have ended its life (...) For the first time, France's nuclear forces do not only target states possessing atomic weapons, but also powers potentially able to launch chemical or biological weapons against France" says Liberation.

Since 2001, the doctrine "has been clarified and the investments are continuing with the development of new missiles and warheads," says Liberation, adding that deterrence "represents 20% of the equipment budget of the armed forces," with a fourth new-generation missile-launching submarine on the menu, and a ballistic missile M51 capable of reaching Asia, and another medium-range air-to-ground missile (Asmpa) fired by fighter-bombers, plus a programme of simulated tests,

In this speech at the IHEDN in June 2001, Chirac had spoken of "the development by some states of ballistic capabilities that could give them the means, one day, of threatening European territory with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons."

"Dissuasion must permit us to confront the potential threats to our vital interests that could come from regional powers possessing weapons of mass destruction", declared the President, pointing out that the leaders of these states "would expose themselves to damage they would find unacceptable."

Up to 40 countries might be capable of manufacturing nuclear weapons

Up to 40 countries are believed to be capable of manufacturing nuclear weapons, underlining the need to reinforce and update the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei told a French newspaper.

The number of countries believed to be able to create such weapons "is estimated at 35 or 40," he said.

"And under the current regime, there is nothing illicit for a non-nuclear state to conduct uranium-enriching activities ... or even to possess military-grade nuclear material," he said.

Should any one of them decide to break their commitment to the non-proliferation treaty, experts believe it "could produce a weapon in just a few months."

He added: "We are already on the verge of catastrophe with North Korea."

Elsewhere in the interview, ElBaradei said his agency was at work verifying Iran's nuclear programme, and said a report would be made at the next UN Security Council meeting.

To cope with the increasing risk of other countries developing nuclear arms, the agency head said a beefed-up version of the non-proliferation treaty was needed, beyond the tweaking that it went through in 1995 after the first Gulf War.

"We have to reach agreement on limiting the construction, in civilian programmes, of nuclear material for military ends by confining this to installations under multilateral control."

A "new safety system" that would treat the causes of international insecurity, not just their symptoms, also should be created that would not be based on "dissuasion, but on fairness and universality," he argued.

=== > NOTE in addition ElBaradei being interviewed by "Arms Control Today" (November 4, 2003): http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2003_11/ElBaradei_11.asp 

New publications


UNEP Finance Initiative: latest newsletter

The latest newsletter from the Finance Initiative of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP FI) is now available online:  http://unepfi.net/0.618/0618_tokyo_200310.pdf 

Articles deal with: 


General Assembly of the Global Anti-War Movement

Despite the opposition of the world’s majority, the United States and its allies went on to invade Iraq in an illegal war that has so far killed up to 10,000 civilians and soldiers. But while the weapons of mass destruction have not been found, the Iraqis’ resources have been put on sale as part of a wholesale imposition of neo-liberal economic policies. State-owned corporations will be privatized and trade will be liberalized through massive reductions in tariffs. With all the official reasons now proven to be lies, it is clear that this was a war for oil, for market, and for empire. " Meanwhile, the endless global "war on terror" rages on in various countries, giving the US a pretext for its military interventions across the globe and providing repressive governments an excuse for clamping down on legitimate dissent.

In the face of these distressing developments, a number of NGO's and anti-war coalitions from various countries are calling on the anti-war movement to come together and act.

The Assembly will have five component events:

For more details, contact Mary Lou Malig: <> 

International Conference Against US Bases

This conference hopes to be the first in a series of international meetings to prepare for an international campaign against US bases, one of the key initiatives endorsed in the Jakarta Peace Consensus. It hopes to assemble representatives from communities affected by US bases around the world, national and regional coalitions and NGOs, as well as academics and researchers working on this issue. Various regional campaigns are already in the process of consolidation and this conference is an effort to bring them together. It is expected to lay the ground for the formation of an international anti-US bases network as well as come out with a concrete campaign plan that could eventually be fleshed out further in subsequent meetings.

The World Social Forum in Mumbai this January 2004 is seen as the most practical occasion and venue for this urgent initiative. It is proposed that the conference will have two 3-hour sessions spread over two days. The first should be educational, with presentations from researchers studying the issue and activists immersed in the campaign as well as testimonials from affected communities. The next is for strategizing, in which the participants are expected to discuss the aspects of the campaign, brainstorm on specific projects, and debate on priorities. As a self-organized event, the conference will be part of the larger WSF Anti-War General Assembly.

For more details, contact Herbert Docena: <> 

Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapons in an Unstable World

International speakers and experts from the media, politics, science and activist groups will cover a range of topics including: new US nuclear weapons, nuclear testing, the Russian nuclear economy, wars about energy resources, the effects of Chernobyl and the Sarcopharg, local resistance, the nuclear energy „consensus" in Germany, nuclear history, the manipulation of data and obstruction of scientific research, childhood cancer and nuclear power plants, uranium weapons, press independence, dependence and influence, globalisation, opposition through shares, nuclear energy in space, Eastern Europe and nuclear power, the plutonium economy, alternative energy, disaster protection, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology and much more.

For more information, visit the following URL and go there to the English version:  http://www.atomkongress.de 

International Conference on Politics and Information Systems: Technologies and Applications (PISTA '04)

Conference details can be found at: http://www.confinf.org/pista04 

Answers to specific questions can also be requested by e-mail: <>  <> 


No new or changed email or web addresses in this issue.  All INES e-mail addresses and homepages are available upon request from: