The Science Media Centres: Ensuring the Success of Corporate Science under New Labour
The Left has always been a constructed phenomenon from the very top, and after Thatcher, it needed remoulding to ensure the elite, corporate agenda it works on behalf of would advance. The Science Media Centre played that role on behalf of the multinational biotech and pharmaceutical companies, and continues to do so.
The director of the UK’s Science Media Centre, Fiona Fox, runs with a pack of people who have presented a rather ideologically confusing front to the world over the years. These commonly include her sister Claire Fox, sociologist Frank Furedi and journalist Mike Hume among others. Their overt activities have run the gamut of political party involvement, ideas forums and media publications both independent and mainstream, and Fiona’s involvement in the longstanding Science Media Centre network, which may have deep state connections.
Fox and Friends
The first question that comes to mind concerning Fiona Fox (pictured below in 2013) is how on earth she got where she has. In other words, how does one go from a Catholic high school in a small North Wales community and a degree in journalism from a polytechnic (before Thames Poly became the University of Greenwich) to directing the first of several Science Media Centres with global reach and influence, culminating in an OBE for ‘services to science’ in 2013, not journalism, and being made an honorary fellow with the Academy of Medical Sciences at the end of last year. It is as improbable as it is remarkable.
Equally, how does one survive in the media business with any credibility when you have managed to deny not one but two acts of genocide. Writing for Living Marxist magazine in 1995, later to become LM, she published a piece titled ‘Massacring the Truth in Rwanda’ while working at the Catholic aid agency CAFOD as its press officer, an article which essentially denied, or at least downplayed the existence of, the Rwandan massacre in which 70% of the Tutsi population were exterminated during the civil war. This elicited outrage from various groups including those at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The second act of what is essentially holocaust denial came in an attack against two ITN journalists for allegedly fabricating photographic evidence of Serbian atrocities against Bosnian muslims in a piece titled “The picture that fooled the world”. ITN took them to court and eventually won a hefty sum, causing the closure of LM, but as Professor Campbell of Durham University notes, the most remarkable aspect of the case was the extent to which they failed to prove their case by, oddly, not vigorously cross-examining the ITN reporters involved for their alleged fabrication. The result was a severe loss of credibility, as well as depletion of funds and closure of the magazine. Campbell continues: “those who lied about the ITN reports have had no trouble obtaining regular access to the mainstream media in Britain, where they continue to make their case as though the 2000 court verdict simply didn’t exist’.
Indeed. Fox simply walked away from this, and started as the director of the first Science Media Centre in 2001, and would even be called upon by the Leveson enquiry in 2011 to advise on best practices.
Much of a querying, doubtful nature has been written about Fox, Claire Fox, Frank Furedi (pictured), and Mick Hume over 20 plus years – all one-time members of the Trotskyist Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) before its demise in 1997. Jenny Turner in her article aptly titled Who are they? describes them as a ‘group’ that ‘seems to have moved together, “as a disciplined unit”, in the words of Nick Cohen’. They, and the Revolutionary Communist Party to which they once belonged, have been persons of interest for George Monbiot since at least 1997. They seem to represent a curious shifting of values and ideas. Were they really once Old Left but reformed? To what – right Libertarian? Corporatist? Taking aim at the Left, from whence they allegedly originated, has certainly been a prominent feature of their approach, curiously enough.
Let’s throw three other elements into the mix upfront: science, British intelligence, and big-name pharmaceutical companies. Despite not having a science background, the RCP’s members and other affiliates have always had a curious interest in certain aspects of science, such as medicine, AIDS and the health service; human embryo research and human reproductive cloning; abolishing legal regulations; biotechnology and efficient agriculture; nuclear power, green and other environmental issues, all reflecting a distinctly political agenda.
The UK’s Science Media Centre, which Fox came to direct almost from its inception in 2000 and still does, is located in the premises of the Wellcome Trust, a biomedical research charity, on Euston Road. And this is where the intelligence connection comes in. The chair of this trust since 2015, beginning with her participation in its Board of Governors in 2008, is Baronness Eliza Manningham-Buller, former Director-General of MI5 and Co-President of Chatham House since 2015. The global footprint of the Science Media Centres currently mirrors, with two exceptions, the countries involved in the Five Eyes intelligence surveillance group – UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, substituting Japan and Germany for the US.
As for the Big Pharma connection, the Wellcome Trust was established in 1936 on the death of British pharmaceutical magnate Sir Henry Wellcome to utilize his massive fortune. The name of his pharmaceutical company, Burroughs Wellcome, disppeared after its merger with three other companies forming SmithGlaxoKline, the world’s sixth largest pharmaceutical company as of 2015.
The Wellcome Trust is the ‘second wealthiest charitable foundation in the world’ after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: ‘The Trust has been described by the Financial Times as the United Kingdom’s largest provider of non-governmental funding for scientific research and one of the largest providers in the world.’ ‘In addition to funding biomedical research’, the Wellcome Trust also ‘supports the public understanding of science’, which is (probably not coincidentally) the declared aim of the Science Media Centre.
With the Big Pharma-intelligence service connection as part of the equation, we’ll try to reconcile the left-to-right inconsistency in their history.
Baiting the Left, But Why?
Originally from the Trotskyist Left but turned to the libertarian right according to their detractors, this group has had a curious fascination with the Left and has a firm reputation for wanting to rile them.
This from Mike Small of Variant (emphasis added):
‘The perhaps more generous analysis is that they have been sent to discredit the left in Britain at a time when the anti-capitalist movement gathers strength and intellectual credibility. This analysis argues that they have been doing such for the last twenty years.’
Indeed, sister Claire Fox (pictured) mentions New Labour being an especial target in an interview she gave to Stuart Jeffries back in 2005. To his question ‘Why do they think you’re infamous?’, she offers the following (the Institute of Ideas is the think tank she founded and directs):
“Because the point of the Institute of Ideas is to challenge established orthodoxies. And they don’t like that.” They? “The liberal left.” Why wouldn’t they like orthodoxies being challenged? “There was such a sense of relief on the left when New Labour came to power that certain orthodoxies could not be challenged. People became desperate to hang on to the ascendancy of left ideas without really questioning what they were about.”
But why specially target the Left?
Before positing why the Left was such a target for this group, a rather long yet important preamble needs to be given indicating the wholly manufactured, manipulated nature of the Left in the UK by the powerful and influential.
The Left was constructed with ulterior motives
In a monograph titled The Milner-Fabian Conspiracy: How an international elite is taking over and destroying Europe, America and the World by Ioan Ratiu, he details how the Left as we know it today was constructed far back by an elite group of upper middle-class intellectuals to serve the interests of the industrialist-banking class, who would fund it, and to manipulate the working class to serve those ends. Starting at the end of the 19th century with familiar figures such as George Bernard Shaw (pictured), H.G. Wells, and Beatrice and Sidney Webb, the Fabian Society was formed by them to shape – by stealth and very gradually – the entire cultural, social, political, religious and economic fabric of the UK according to particular Fabian Socialist principles. [Hence the name Fabian after Roman General Quintus Fabius Maximus, whose preferred military strategy was to pursue smaller battles against the enemy in a war of attrition where the timeline had to be long enough to succeed.] Socialism was to be derived in a highly controlled, gradual way from the top, not by working class struggles at the bottom.
As Ratiu demonstrates, the influence was to be ultimately global as tailor-made Fabian institutions like the London School of Economics (LSE), and their counterparts in the United States such as Harvard, churned out the future graduates who would become the governing classes for many countries around the world, giving the Fabians vast geopolitical reach in many key countries.
Members of the aforementioned intellectual group were great admirers of Marx, Lenin and Stalin, and were actively involved in Russian communism and the Bolshevik Revolution. Lenin, in fact, was influenced by Sidney Webb and changed his style to the gradual approach of Fabianism. For Shaw, Stalinism was simply applied Fabianism and applauded as thus. Given the extraordinary cruelty toward ordinary Russians living under this system, resulting in the deaths of literally millions, one can see how Socialism was not being sought for the welfare of ordinary working people, far from it.
But the question needs to be asked: how does the extreme, intellectual Left find company with the monopoly-capitalist class? What can their common points of interest be?
Fabian policies at this time concentrated on the state nationalizing the country’s major industries. Note that the major industrialists would not lose their companies in this centralized, state-owned scheme but rather would have the masses forced into essentially slave labour conditions working cheaply for them, not the State. The industrialists would derive all the benefit from such a system, especially as its corollary – abolishing competitive capitalism – would wipe out any threat to their profit margins. This is exactly what happened to the workers in the Soviet system after the Bolshevik Revolution, a situation that Marx had encouraged. Marx had simply poo-poohed the desire of workers to return to an agrarian lifestyle and not be forced into the slum conditions of the cities and the slave labor conditions of the factories. Such reasonable desires he considered reactionary. Marx was simply an enabler of the ruling elites, producing the exact opposite of what his utopia promised.
The use of violence was also regarded as necessary to create compliance and subjugation of the masses. Bolshevik leaders and the Fabians were entirely on the same page about this. Shaw was, in fact, an advocate of eugenics and the extermination of those who were deemed ‘unfit’: to achieve a certain type of society and culture, those who won’t fit into it must be eliminated. Sidney Webb and other leading Fabians essentially advocated murder to obtain the ugly utopia they were quietly engineering. This article by Tyler Curtis titled George Bernard Shaw Was so Enamored with Socialism He Advocated Genocide to Advance It is well worth reading. Shaw had a desperately low opinion of the masses.
Further, nation states had to be disarmed, and completely abolished over time to be reformed into collectivist states, such as the EU, until World Government could finally be achieved. Empires such as the British one also had to go: the formation of the Commonwealth was the answer to that. What are termed ‘globalist’ institutions today – such as the League of Nations which in turn became the UN, the EU, and the financial institutions coming out of the Bretton Woods system – the IMF and World Bank – can all be credited to these people. The Fabian desire for World Government was, of course, what Communism aimed at.
Today’s Fabian Left social policies, shared by both centre left and centre right, focus more explicitly on destroying borders through mass migration, and ideological re-conditioning around both sexual identity and white identity. The destruction of the family had long gained ground through Fabian-sponsored contraception and abortion, as well as the acceptance of divorce and non-marriage for the rearing of children, and decades of feminism that have dangerously reduced western populations through declining birth rates. Christianity and its family imperative have long since lost their influence in our culture, most likely by design.
Multiculturalism is now the order of the day where, over time, the white indigenous population will simply be removed as the majority group, subject to the will of some other ethnic majority or some blending thereof. One only needs demographic calculations to know this, not conspiracy theory (see here, here, here and here). The preeminent power of culture – a single, unifying force over people’s lives which gives identity, purpose and political will – was regarded with deep suspicion by Communists. Multiculturalism, which renders people psychologically defensive and isolated within communities that are no longer their own, has essentially been a policy of the Labour party since the 60s, according to Ratiu. Shaw, in fact, did order the destruction of the white race back in the 30s and wanted the races to be fused into a mongrel one, much like the Coudenhove-Kalergi plan for Europeans. The Fabians and many of their contemporaries also had a strong affection for Islam and Sufism, whereas Christianity was simply despised; of course, much of British immigration over several decades has been drawn from Muslim countries. It is unnerving how the old Fabian/communist agenda can be seen so clearly woven into today’s mainstream social and political trends.
Financial backing for the Fabians came from certain magnates, including the Rothschilds and Rockefellers. They aimed at wealthy industrialists to convince them of the scientific basis of applied socialism, but they also got trade unions and government to finance them, too. And this is where the secret Milner group enters the picture.
The Fabians were situated in a network of groups, and a prominent node in this network was the Milner group, started by Cecil Rhodes (pictured), involving the Rothschilds, Astors, bankers such as JP Morgan, Cecil Rhodes himself, pro-Marxist Lord Alfred Milner, plus members of the American east coast establishment. The Fabians would dominate what was to become the British Labour Party, while the Milner Group dominated the Liberals and Conservatives. All, however, were working to achieve the same end.
Around the time the Fabians and Milner Group were getting going, industry and finance were centralizing in an unprecedented way in the hands of people like Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, the Astor family, the Rockefellers, Rowntrees, Cadbury, the Oppenheimers and Rothschilds. Wealth and power on both sides of the Atlantic were achieving monopoly status. And they were behind Fabianism. So this movement was essentially a power grab by a small powerful group of industrialists who were pulling power away from the monarchies. At exactly this time (1917), the monarchies of Germany, Austria and Russia were falling, most likely with the active participation of these people behind the scenes. ‘World peace’, ‘free trade’, universal brotherhood, philanthropy and the ‘public good’ were just empty slogans to advance their cause.
The Fabians infiltrated British life through a considerable network of organizations aimed at different groups in society, including the civil service, local government, the professions, trade unions, servicemen, the Church and an immense number of educational institutions. They ran an especially effective propaganda campaign led by Shaw’s proselytizing plays and writings. Out of this came the British Labour Party in 1893, initially named the National Independent Labour Party. As Fabianism had willing recruits across the upper echelons of society, especially within the Liberal party, the Labour party received special help in winning a number of Parliamentary seats in 1922, and later in 1924 when it formed its first government. ‘Conservative’ Churchill, a Fabian and former Liberal, had been a great help in this regard, inviting the Labour Party to join him in government in 1945, and included Fabian members in his war cabinet. With his help, Labour was able to take power in that year.
As is patently obvious by now, there is effectively nothing on the mainstream political landscape that genuinely serves ordinary people as an end in itself, individual Labour policies aside. It’s clear, furthermore, how rigged the entire political landscape is. Obviously years of the welfare state and the NHS have been of great value to ordinary British people, but we can now see how those generous systems, permitted by the elite to draw people away from the lure of Communism post-1945, have been ruthlessly targeted for privatization and profit over time.
The Neoliberal Era Begins
Things of course started to change when Thatcher came to power in 1975 with, rumour has it, an order from the CIA- and MI6-created Bilderberg group, the ideas arm of NATO, to deindustrialize Britain, crush the unions and financialize the economy, an era which is credited with the start of today’s neoliberal economic rot and growing impoverishment of ordinary citizens in the West. As we know, major industries have sought cheaper places to do business as the oligarchs now look globally, not nationally, to utilize their vast wealth. Curiously, Communist China and its now-flourishing middle class has been a major beneficiary of the decision to pull out of Western countries, whereas our middle classes are now suffering.
John Major continued Tory rule for seven more years after Thatcher’s ejection, making it 22 years that the Conservatives held power, until Blair and New Labour were elected in 1997 (the year the Revolutionary Communist Party disbanded). Blair, like Clinton and many others before and since, was Bilderberg-approved, so Blair would be a sure thing for the elites. His momentous revision of Clause IV of the Labour Party (originally drafted by Fabian Sidney Webb in 1917), which abandoned its traditional commitment to state-ownership of industry, would definitely have been made on behalf of the stupendously rich and powerful who were eyeing the possibilities of privatization in Britain. The Welfare state, instituted after WWII, needed dismantling and services put into the hands of the oligarchs for profit. As stated, much manufacturing was moving out to countries where production costs were a fraction of what they were in developed, Western countries, which has reduced vast swathes of the working class to unemployment, poorly-paid service sector work or zero-hours contracts, a situation made worse by mass immigration.
But a return to Labour would surely signal potential trouble for the ruling elites after 22 years of largely getting it their own way, as much as the zeitgeist of the time would permit. What about the rank and file Labour members, as well as ordinary voters, who hadn’t known a left-wing government in 22 years? Ratiu states that 50% of Labour MPs are Fabians with the leadership at 100%. However, only 3% of the rank and file are. There must have been considerable apprehension in certain elite quarters that a Labour government would revert, despite puppet Blair’s best efforts, to pre-1975 anti-capitalist, pro-union, anti-war positions. Indeed, as Claire Fox indicated above, people were relieved to have a Labour government back in power with certain received ideas and assumptions firmly in place.
Both Foxes and their friends were clearly there to change this, but who gave them this mission?
The Left Turns Right: ‘There’s no Alternative’
The orientation of the Left was, in fact, seismically shifted across the board during the ‘90s with New Labour’s adoption of the Third Way, a type of neoliberal rebranding that also shaped American democrats led by Bill Clinton, and the French Left. As a useful form of shorthand, we can think of the Third Way as, in Thierry Meyssan‘s words, ‘socialist rhetoric adapted to the free market.’
To see the end point of this rebranding, we need only look to today where centre Left politics no longer embrace any type of concern for the indigenous working class and their immense economic plight in a globalized economy. Also missing in action is the anti-war stance of yesteryear as continuous wars are waged – or threatened to be waged – against countries such as Iraq, Libya and Syria, now Russia, Venezuela and Iran, all of whom have posed no actual military threat. And the Left’s ‘intellectuals’ simply have no problem with this.
Instead, the official Left has become acquiescent to neoliberal (i.e. austerity) economics, with even Jeremy Corbyn attacked by some on the traditional Left for advising Labour councils not to oppose Tory spending cuts. Today, the average citizen from the established Left as well as Right (called ironically by some the ‘extreme Centre’) can expect any or all of the following:
- cutting and/or privatizing public and social services
- paying more in tax on whatever pretext (e.g. the climate, etc.)
- giving generously to the corporations through subsidies and free trade agreements, and bailing out the banks when a crisis hits
- spending lavishly on unnecessary, illegal wars (Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, etc.) thus feeding the defence industry with our tax money
- stagnating wages
- precarious working conditions such as zero hours contracts
Twenty percent (20%) of the UK population now live in poverty according to UN special rapporteur Philip Alston. Economic conditions for many ordinary people, created in favor of a globalized elite, are now dire across the EU and elsewhere, yet the Left has simply nothing to say about it. No need to go into the socially ‘progressive’ yet very divisive topics it prefers instead, such as identity politics, mass immigration, fourth wave feminism for middle class women and LGBT issues. It has simply abandoned traditional working class problems (that it has helped create), including legitimate economic and cultural concerns over mass migration.
Centre-right political parties have become nothing more than echo chambers for the same set of policies, rendering the Left/Right political paradigm no more than the charade that it ever was. Except now it’s much more obvious.
The concept of the Third Way was developed by figure of controversy Anthony Giddens, LSE(!) sociologist and a valued member of Blair’s team as a way to deal with ‘powerful global financial forces’. He argued that ‘reformist governments could no longer rely on traditional statist programmes’. Giddens declared the ‘old class-based divisions of left and right are now redundant’ and that political parties should gain ‘consensual support by campaigning from the centre’. Which is what Blair did. New Labour, he advised, should not be afraid of ‘being called conservative’. Indeed, according to Jeffrey Isaac, Third Way has been strongly criticized on the traditional left for being ‘capitulation to the status quo’ and ‘neoliberalism with a human face all dressed up in a language of post-ideological politics.’ Indeed it would seem to be.
From the Wikipedia entry for ‘Third Way’, we get this:
Major Third Way social democratic proponent Tony Blair claimed that the socialism he advocated was different from traditional conceptions of socialism and said: “My kind of socialism is a set of values based around notions of social justice…Socialism as a rigid form of economic determinism has ended, and rightly“.
So the Left turned its back conveniently on the entire working class. Social justice was replacing economics just as neoliberalism, starting with Thatcher, took away indigenous working people’s economic viability through deindustrialization and deunionization, and ramped up mass immigration driving down wages. Of course, it had all really started close to a century earlier with the Fabians.
The French are in on it, too
The Third Way’s French counterpart, Terra Nova, started in 2008 and was designed to make Dominique Strauss Kahn (pictured), the Parti Socialiste’s presidential candidate, attractive beyond the socialist party. This think-tank was designed to promote economic globalism in France, mimicking the Progressive Policy Institute of Bill Clinton.
Terra Nova wasn’t in fact a latecomer to the party: it came out of a progression of French think tanks, starting with the St. Simon Foundation in the early ‘80s, which sought to impose the thinking of Washington in France, to join up blue chip companies with academics and the media, with links to the Trotskyite Neoconservatives in Washington, who were providing some of the funding from the CIA-backed National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the US Institute for Peace. According to geopolitical analyst Thierry Meyssan, these two organizations ‘had been conceived as instruments to serve the “Five Eyes” (a co-operation agreement between the Secret Services of Australia, Canada, the United States, New Zealand and the United Kingdom).’
Today, Emmanuel Macron’s LREM party continues the alliance of the French ruling class with Washington’s deep state objectives. His own career trajectory includes links to the same people, groups and funding sources that started the Saint Simon Foundation in the ‘80s. In another of Meyssan’s articles on Macron, ‘Who does Emmanuel Macron owe?’, we learn that Macron was recruited by American Henry Kravis, the boss of one of the world’s largest financial companies, and [by] NATO’, which is linked to Bilderberg and organized by Kravis’ wife, Marie-Josee Kravis.
Thus the Anglo-French political world has been deliberately stitched up by a network of trans-Atlantic elites who, in Fabian fashion, have been covertly and steadily foisting globalist, neoliberal thinking on us through our mainstream political parties (not simply those on the ‘Left’), whose leadership is thoroughly complicit in the scam. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens – the Western working classes – have been completely abandoned through globalisation, experiencing greater and greater levels of impoverishment as the welfare state gets eroded and mass migration increases. Even those in the middle classes who jobs cannot survive in a globalised economy are suffering, producing what has been called the ‘squeezed middle’. And any legitimate protest is just sidelined with the irrelevant charge of racism. There is simply no option left for these people except to do what the Gilets Jaunes have done and mobilise en masse.
‘But what else can we do…?‘
Frank Furedi’s statement made in 1990 in Living Marxism echoes the Left’s paradigm shift away from traditional indigenous working class concerns: ‘For the first time this century there is no real sense of a working-class movement with a distinctive political identity anywhere in the world.’ Furedi states that the Revolutionary Communist Party’s new task was simply to ‘challenge the myths perpetuated by the system’. How convenient and how very lame. The Third Way and Furedi’s embrace of it do indeed sound like capitulation to (or embrace of) the globalist financial class’s interests. If you are sincere, then truly fight it and make the movement work for the working classes. Furedi’s job description for the RCP was surely no more than to maintain the confusing veneer of opposition while going along with the elite / deep state agenda.
That veneer is cultivated through online magazines like Spiked, which Furedi writes for, and Claire Fox’s Institute of Ideas. Recently, Spiked magazine ran an interview with Christophe Guilluy, the French geographer, who impressively predicted the rise of the Gilets Jaunes phenomenon in France (see image). The Gilets Jaunes are doing no less than to challenge the established globalist economic order – and they know they are. This is simply everything that the elite establishment in France and everywhere is opposed to and has no answer to, yet Spiked would run this type of piece. That is what I mean by ‘confusing’.
But how do we know that Furedi and crew were not sincerely fighting against the powerful global financial forces when challenging their myths? What evidence is there for the claim that Furedi and Fox were merely providing a dilettante media cover for their feigned opposition to the globalists, while actually supporting massive revenue-generation of the multinational business empires?
Cue the Science Media Centre as the propaganda arm for Big Pharma and the biotech industry or, as Ronan Bennett calls it, ‘a lobbying organisation’. Its lengthy list of current donors is an extensive who’s who of universities, organisations, large companies and multinationals. On its funding page the SMC declares itself to be an ‘independent press office that is not linked to specific institutional interests’ and declares how it restricts its donations so as to maintain its independence, but that is not surely the point: you need a stable of key scientific experts, especially those connected to corporations, and heavy-hitting media outlets who will go along with the agenda. The governance page, which lists the trustees and advisory committee, shows a strong presence of MSM players like the BBC, Times, Independent and ITV News, along with members of the Wellcome Trust. Few of these if any can claim to be ‘independent’.
The Science Media Centre Justifies its Existence Within Months
It was in the summer of 2002, just after the formation of the Science Media Centre, that it was able to do its first major smear job, against former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger (pictured below) and Ronan Bennett, who had written a 2-part drama called Fields of Gold for BBC broadcast.
This was the time of disturbing biological anomalies such as Dolly the sheep clone, and the mouse with an ear on its back. Further, antibiotic resistance in humans and animals was of growing concern in the medical, scientific and veterinary communities, especially in relation to the superbugs MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) and VRSA (vancomycin-resistant staphylococcus aureus).
Biotech companies, meanwhile, were using antibiotic-resistant marker genes in plant trials, raising public safety fears around biotech food production. Environmental activists were busy protesting GM trial sites amidst ‘mounting public concern about the contamination of ordinary crops by their genetically-modified near neighbours’. Further, it was posited that there might be a risk of ‘horizontal gene transfer’ – genes crossing over via bacteria from crops to soil and thence to humans and animals – specifically in relation to VRSA. Whether such gene transfer was possible was indeed up for dispute among the scientific community, the point being however that some did indeed think it was possible, including the authors of a University of Jena study from 2002 that Bennett quotes in his article. The possibility of gene transfer became the premise of Rusbridger’s and Bennett’s play Fields of Gold, which renders a community sick.
Interestingly, according to Bennett, Tony Blair was busy calling people Luddites who didn’t automatically go along with new technologies of the time. More on Blair’s role in a moment.
The role of the SMC was, according to Rusbridger, to help launch an ‘orchestrated pre-emptive strike on the series from some scientists’ with the Centre coordinating it, claiming that the writers had simply made up the science. The Daily Telegraph and Times were key players in the SMC-instigated demolition job with the help of, among others, Cambridge scientist Dr. Mark Tester. Tester had been privy to the script pre-production in 2001 and agreed that it was possible to get a vancomycin-resistant gene into a crop, and explained how. Later in a Times piece, Tester contradicted himself, saying that the horizontal transfer hypothesis was false.
Rusbridger and Bennett understand the value of communicating appropriately on dry, confusing subjects which they did in bravura style with a television drama. According to Rusbridger, which is worth quoting in its entirety (emphasis added):
Because these issues are so complex to grasp, they are difficult to project journalistically. Some editors chart an easy course in drubbing anything to do with GM produce ‘Frankenfood’. But the nitty-gritty business of trying to produce balanced and detailed coverage of the science is often rather dull. It does not often produce heated discussion around the water cooler. A peak-time drama on BBC1 is entirely different. If Fields of Gold is making some people nervous, it will be because it has taken the bare bones of the scientific predicament and projected it dramatically in a way which will – if it succeeds – engage a mass audience and make them question the issues behind it. That is an alarming prospect for those who would rather have restricted this debate to a small elite. It explains why Monsanto secured early copies of the drama and why people at the highest levels of government are known to be anxious about the fall out. And it explains why the Science Media Centre, extensively backed by the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, mimicked some of the clumsiest spin techniques of New Labour in trying to discredit it in advance.
And thus you have the rationale for the SMC right there. Sophisticated journalists and playwrights like Rusbridger and Bennett, who took their jobs seriously and did extensive research on this and related scientific areas before writing the play, gave the government and Big Biotech a massive headache, especially as much was at stake at this time in the GM field. To continue with Rusbridger:
An awful lot hangs on the outcome of the current trials in Britain and elsewhere of GM crops. It is difficult to think of any other period in science when so much was at stake.
At the most elevated level, pro-GM scientists and not a few politicians would argue that the entire future of the human race depends on this technology. They sincerely believe that, without biotechnology, the human race will be incapable of feeding itself within a generation or two. At a more pragmatic level, billions upon billions of dollars stand to be made or lost on this technology. The last thing some of these businesses want is a searching public debate. Since this is one of the themes of the drama, it is not without irony that some people have gone to such lengths to rubbish it in advance.
In fact, the Science Media Centre’s mandate on just this type of issue was given in the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology’s third report, to ‘promote more expert information, at times when science is under attack in the headlines’, especially referencing the public’s reaction to GM crops as being problematic. Fox as head of the SMC was doing exactly what her government-derived job description required of her.
Blair, the Energiser Bunny for Biotech
Around the time Blair came to power in 1997, the fate of new scientific research seems to have been a contentious thing in the public mind, as stated above. Prince Charles was even an opponent of GM-foods and had written to Blair about it in one of his private correspondences in 1998. Appearing to echo public sentiment, Charles ‘ told the prime minister that an unfamiliar technology was moving faster than public acceptance’. A major part of Blair’s agenda, therefore, seems to have been to shift public perception to supporting experimental fields such as biotech research, indicated by his abiding concern in his speech to the Royal Society in 2002 about the public’s ‘prejudice against science’. Citing some Indian scientists he had recently met, he said:
They said to me bluntly: Europe has gone soft on science; we are going to leapfrog you and you will miss out. They regarded the debate on GM here and elsewhere in Europe as utterly astonishing. They saw us as completely overrun by protestors and pressure groups who used emotion to drive out reason. And they didn’t think we had the political will to stand up for proper science.’
The competing tension on the industry side was to keep biotech research alive and profitable. In the same speech of 2002 he stated: ‘Biotechnology is at the forefront of these developments [proposed by his government]. The biotech industry’s market in Europe alone is expected to be worth $100 billion by 2005’ with clear pressure to compete with US industry that was ‘eight times the size of Europe’s’. And for this he was willing to spend serious sums of public money for industry gain.
He goes on:
When the government came to power science was suffering from a lengthy and disastrous period of underfunding and neglect. Scientists were increasingly going abroad to do their research … The government has taken major steps to improve the funding of science. In the 1998 comprehensive spending review, we increased the science budget by 15%, the largest increase of any area of government expenditure. And in the 2000 spending review we took further steps, so that today the science budget is increasing by 7% a year in real terms. As part of this increase, in a highly valuable partnership with the Wellcome Trust, we have invested 1.75bn pounds for the renewal of science research infrastructure in the last 2 spending reviews.
Stating what could have been said by the SMC, he added:
But this isn’t just about government and science. It’s crucially about society. We need better, stronger, clearer ways of science and people communicating. The dangers are in ignorance of each other’s point of view; the solution is understanding them. The fundamental distinction is between a process where science tells us the facts and …
He then goes on to announce a new emphasis on science teaching and facilities in schools, teacher training programmes, and new programmes partnering universities with business for R&D, with a lot of taxpayer funds made available for these new developments – and for the Wellcome Trust.
In an article by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, Blair was heavily criticised for a naive positivist view of science comprised of ‘neutral facts, divorced from ethics of politics and independent of how we observe at the fundamental level’, and for ‘throw[ing] lots of taxpayer’s money away.’ Blair’s vision, she continues, ‘appears to have come straight out of a biotech company’s PR brochure, based on the assumption that genes determine all.’
So Blair became the cheerleader for the biotech industry, which had already shown it was not profitable, and so was willing to invest a lot of other people’s money in universities, labs and industry to ‘keep the biotech bubble inflated.’
SMC influence goes trans-Atlantic
Ten years after Fields of Gold, Prof. Gilles-Eric Seralini’s (pictured) famous study was published showing serious health problems in rats exposed to a type of Monsanto corn (NK603) genetically engineered to withstand Roundup, the company’s glyphosate-based herbicide, as well as rats who had simply ingested small quantities of Roundup only. In both cases, the rats were ‘several times more likely to develop lethal tumours and suffer severe liver and kidney damage when compared to the controls’. This caused the SMC to orchestrate a full-scale media attack against Seralini immediately.
Jump in, silence the landscape, and let key outlets do the spin
A key feature of their strategy was to influence the English-speaking media as soon as possible with quotes from their own scientists hired for the purpose (a list of these people appears below), the general effect of this being to silence UK mainstream press in both print and TV news media. With, however, the notable exceptions of the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and Financial Times, who reported on the story in their print editions using the ready-made ‘scientific’ reactions. The Australian SMC then picked it up, using their own local ‘experts’; Monsanto and other GM lobby groups circulated these expert opinions with the result that the SMC’s spin got a fair amount of coverage worldwide. In the US, the New York Times published a report, and Forbes willingly obliged by publishing several hatchet pieces within the first 10 days, not just SMC-directed ones but also a piece labelling the research fraudulent and publicly demanding the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology retract the paper.
Of note is the truly impressive media reach the SMCs have.
The SMC also provided Monsanto with the ammunition it needed to fight back. This from Corporate Europe Observatory:
In an email seen by CEO (see below1), a Monsanto executive sent around the list of reactions compiled by a so-called “independent” science news resource, the London-based “Science Media Centre”. Under the objective-sounding title “Expert reaction to GM maize causing tumours in rats”, the Centre lists eight reactions by scientists about the study as well as 10 unattributed arguments on the same issue. Unsurprisingly, all the reactions dismiss the study.
Then an online petition allegedly representing the ‘scientific community’ was launched, demanding the study’s raw data be made available, as if the researchers were fraudulently hiding something. This was distributed throughout social media, with Reuters and New Scientist picking up the demand for retraction, using critical ‘expert’ comments provided by SCM.
A stable of willing ‘experts’
A key charge levelled against Seralini, easily demolishable, was of using Sprague-Dawley rats in the study, which are naturally prone to mammarian tumours. Prof. Anthony Trewavas and Maurice Moloney led the charge on this, claiming that Seralini used rats that would cause bias in the research, designed ahead of time to produce the negative outcome that was eventually found. Trewavas’ comments were passed onto over 20 publications globally.
Asymmetry of accountability
That Seralini used not only the same type of rat as Monsanto had done (Sprague-Dawley), but had also used precisely the same methodology should invite a comparison of the two studies and not a hypocritical, one-way condemnation of Seralini. The European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility did just that and logically concluded ‘that a careful comparison of the Seralini rat feeding trial with Monsanto trials shows that if the Seralini experiments are considered insuffficient to demonstrate harm, then those carried out by Monsanto cannot prove safety.’ As ENSSER said, double standards are used to judge those who find adverse effects of GM crops whereas those by Monsanto are taken at face value.
A list of SMC’s experts appears below. These people variously signed the online petition and/or sent a group letter to Food and Chemical Toxicology demanding that the study be pulled or provided critical comments on the SMC site. Several on the list sent their own letters to Food and Chemical Toxicology, which were published by the journal.
The list below shows their considerable industry-related interests, which of course the SMC never revealed. The first two work for AgBioWorld, which later claimed to be behind the petition:
- CS Prakash (GM scientist, co-founder of AgBioWorld)
- Bruce Chassy (emeritus professor of food science, AgBioWorld)
- Anthony Trewavas (GM scientist, member of the governing council for the John Innes Centre – JIC – which is funded by Syngenta)
- Maurice Moloney (inventor of 300 patents, his GM research underpins one of Monsanto’s main GM crops, founded his own GM company that Dow AgroScience invests in)
- Chris Leaver (GM scientist, advisor to SMC, former Sygenta consultant, member of the governing council of JIC)
- Wendy Harwood (JIC)
- Mark Tester (according to the University of Adelaide site, he has established private companies that work with Monsanto, Sygenta, Bayer and Pioneer-DuPont)
- Martina Newell-McGlouglin (her university programme is funded by Monsanto, Sygenta, DuPont and Bayer)
- Kent Bradford (Monsanto consultant)
- Lucia de Souza & Leila Macedo Oda (work for ANBio, the Brazilian Biosafety Association, funded by Monsanto, Bayer and DuPont)
- Andrew Cockburn (former director of scientific affairs for Monsanto)
- Val Giddings (former VP of Biotechnology Industry Organization)
- Sivramiah Shantharam (worked for Syngenta, former head of biotech industry’s main lobby group in India)
- Erio Barale-Thomas (toxicologist, principal scientist at Janssen Biotech, formerly worked for Bayer CropScience)
- Marc Fellous (human geneticist, head of French Association of Plant Biotechnology which lobbies for GM crops)
- Sir Colin Berry (pathologist, advisor to Scientific Alliance which is pro-GM, pro-nuclear, sceptical about the climate, shareholder in Furedi’s Spiked magazine)
- Martin Livermore (director of Scientific Alliance; head of agri-food PR consultancy; formerly did PR for DuPont)
- Tom Sanders (head of nutritional sciences research division at King’s College, London; professional consultant to Nutrasweet, owned formerly by Monsanto. Aspartame is made with genetically modified bacteria)
- Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter (Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge; ‘He has worked on clinical trials and drug safety, and consulted and taught in a number of pharmaceutical companies)
- Alan Boobis, a controversial figure (biochemical pharmacology, Imperial college, was VP of International Life Science Institute which took sizeable donations from Monsanto and CropLife International representing Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, etc.)
- Ottoline Leyser who is on the board of Trustees for the SMC (Dir. Of Sainsbury Lab, Cambridge; Chair elect of John Innes Centre JIC Science Advisory Board)
A few other players not listed above but who were also involved in the smear campaign against Seralini came from Exxon-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (Greg Conko), the Hoover Institution (Henry Miller), and the American Enterprise Institute (Jon Etine).
As Matthews notes, the SMC does not reveal the full scope of the interests of the experts they roll out, only giving their universities or public institutions. In fact, in SMC’s first media release, Blythmas notes that ‘seven out of eight are either evangelical advocates of GM food, or have received funding from, or worked with, prominent biotech corporations’. This pattern of undisclosed interests is a typical technique with all of SMC’s experts and the critics who rallied against Seralini.
There really isn’t one. The complicity and use of the MSM in supporting deep state, multinational agendas including that of biotech and Big Pharma is hardly headline news anymore.
And the moral turpitude of the Backroom Left in supporting the ruling elite agenda du jour – centred around multinational profitability and a one-party Big State while claiming to act in the people’s interests and mouthing social justice platitudes – goes on unabated in slow-motion Fabian style. The elite, with their aim of uniting people around one party / one agenda, as they have tried to do in France with Macron, have to be at desperation levels, however, as citizens in western countries are now exceptionally divided like never before. The rise of populist parties ahead of the upcoming European Parliament elections and the possibility that they will take around a 1/3 of the parliamentary seats are creating genuine fear in elite circles
And now we see the splitting off of a handful of members of the Labour party, led by the UK’s own Obama, Chuka Ummuna (pictured), a reportedly Blairite group with Israel Lobby funding who claim to be offended by anything to do with Corbyn and Brexit. This from Chatham House’s Matthew Goodwin from August of last year, suggesting the idea of centrism in the UK has been floated at the ‘top’ for quite some time. Several mentioned here are Fabians (highlighted, including Macron as an honorary member):
You don’t have to spend long in Westminster before you hear someone talking about the possibility of a new political party emerging in the U.K.
The idea, inspired by the rise of French President Emmanuel Macron’s successful En Marche movement, is usually pictured as a club of disillusioned social liberals drawn from across the political landscape — think Labour’s Chuka Umunna and David Miliband on stage with the Liberal Democrat Vince Cable and Conservative Remainers like Nicky Morgan and Anna Soubry [one of the defectors to Umunna’s new group], with a strategy overseen by veterans Tony Blair, Nick Clegg and George Osborne [a friend of the Rothschilds] and communications by Peter Mandelson [pictured with Jacob Rothschild; Mandelson is the grandson of Labour heavy hitter in the pre- and post-war period, Herbert Morrison; a key Fabian himself, and Blair mentor] and Alastair Campbell.
For many on Britain’s liberal left, the idea is incredibly enticing. After all, the 2016 Brexit referendum not only marked the moment when those who wanted to leave the EU won but also the moment when, for the first time, London-based social liberals lost. Now that the shock has faded, many want to fight back.
A real populism with a bold and informed citizenry, such as we find at the heart of the Gilets Jaunes, is our only hope of breaking away from and exposing this utterly duplicitous, manipulative and dangerous system.
It is curious that the book extensively cited above by Ioan Ratiu explaining the Milner-Fabian conspiracy (which rides on the back of other well established, credible research) has since been effectively removed from Amazon and other online booksellers: it is currently unavailable. Readers may be interested in the following links here and here.
The image of Mandelson with pal Jacob Rothschild can be found online with the caption, ‘Is New Labour a Rothschild invention?’ Sadly, the swamp is more extensive and longstanding than that.
* * *
Image of Fiona Fox: Jon Enoch