Alan Malcolm is director of the Oxford International Biomedical Centre (as of February 2010). The following is his biography from the Centre's site:
- Alan Malcolm was Chief Executive of the Institute of Biology from 1998 until 2009 when he successfully led its merger with the Biosciences Federation. He is now leading Decibell Communications – an organization dedicated to enabling legislators, the media and the general public to understand the science behind the key decisions which society will need to make during the next two decades.
- He has recently been appointed as Director of the Oxford International Biomedical Centre.His background has been in academic biochemistry, with particular reference to medical applications, followed by seven years in food research. He held posts as Director of the Institute of Food Research and as Director General of the Flour, Milling and Baking Research Association. During his time as Chair of Biochemistry at Charing Cross and Westminster Hospital Medical School, he also held the chairmanship of the Biochemical Society and was Chair of the Scientific and Research Committee of the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council. Alan was a member of the COMA Committee on Folate in the Diet. He was Chairman of the British Nutrition Foundation from 1998 to 2000, and a member of the Government's Food Advisory Committee for seven years. More recently he was a member of the Advisory Committee for Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) and has also been Vice-Chairman of the Food and Drink Technology Foresight Panel for six years. He has been an expert adviser to Select Committees in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and is currently a Vice President of the Parliamentary Scientific Committee. He is a member of the European Commission Standing Group on Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, and also a Visiting Professor at the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. Alan has published more than 200 scientific papers and is a frequent contributor on radio, television and other news media. He is a member of the editorial boards of several review journals including Outlook on Agriculture and Science in Parliament and Biologist.
Malcolm has defended GM foods against the research findings of Dr Arpad Pusztai and the MMR vaccine against the findings of Dr Andrew Wakefield. The following is a letter he wrote to THE on these topics:
- Where these Fads Come From: Publicity for Untested Speculations
- Naive, Not Unethical
- Times Higher Education Supplement (UK), June 16, 2006
- I am among the very few people to know both Arpad Pusztai [GM Potatoes fame] and Andrew Wakefield [MMR Vaccine and Autism controversy] personally. From my limited knowledge of them, I believe both to be men of integrity. But that does not excuse their appalling naivety and over-interpretation of very limited scientific data. The consequences for genetically modified food and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination have been awful.
- All scientists make extravagant statements based on preliminary results and optimism, but we usually do it in the privacy of a laboratory to critical colleagues who demolish our enthusiasm and persuade us to go away and do more experiments until we can justify our hopes.
- Who on earth allowed these two innocents to expose themselves (and their nascent hypotheses) to the spotlight of the media, and why? Once you have told a few million enthusiastic readers and listeners, it is very difficult to withdraw or even qualify.
- Pusztai retired, but the perception that he was sacked remains, and the belief that he was martyred has (foolishly) strengthened the support for his irrational statements.
- Although I reject Wakefield's views on MMR, I am not confident that if the General Medical Council does bring him to book it will advance the cause of raising confidence in vaccination.
- Alan Malcolm, London
As for Pusztai's supposed "extravagant statements" about his research, here is his own paraphrasis of what he said on World in Action, in an interview with R. Rmiiandzan of Frontline India:
- Could you recount how the row over your research work began?
- It is now over two years. With the consent of my director and my Institute I gave a very, very short interview for television. It was all of 150 seconds. I simply said, and this is on record, that we had done some work with one particular GM crop we are not eating this and we found that when we fed this to rats, we had some problems. Some of the rats were not growing as well, some of the rats had problems in the development of the insides, the immune system. Our concern was that, even though this is not eaten, British public is already eating things that had not been tested by similar methods. Because of this, as a publicly funded scientist, I should really raise my concerns. And that was it.
Arpad Pusztai's co-researcher in the GM potatoes study was pathologist Dr Stanley Ewen. A talk he gave describing the findings of their research is on the GM-Free Ireland website, complete with photographs taken of the histological effects associated with GM feed.
Ewen and Pusztai's GM potato findings passed peer review and were published in The Lancet.
Member of the Advisory Committee for Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) -- his term expired on 31 Dec 2007
- Director: Prof Alan Malcolm, Oxford International Biomedical Centre website, accessed 4 Feb 2010
- Alan Malcolm, Where these Fads Come From: Publicity for Untested Speculations: Naive, Not Unethical, Times Higher Education Supplement (UK), June 16, 2006
- GM Foods and Denial of Rights and Choices: Interview with Arpad Pusztai, Frontline (India), November 10, 2000, accessed 4 Feb 2010
- First speech by Dr Stanley Ewen, Proceedings of the Green Ireland Conference, Kilkenny Castle, 16-18 June 2006
- Effect of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine. The Lancet V.354, N.9187 16 Oct 99. Stanley W B Ewen, Arpad Pusztai