Mark Henderson

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Mark Henderson is science editor of The Times. He is not a science graduate, having a degree in Modern History from Oxford University in 1996.[1] According to a biographical note: 'After a brief spell working for the Sunday Express he joined The Times as a graduate trainee. He spent time as a general reporter, a leader writer, and covering health education and social affairs, before being appointed science correspondent in August 2000. As well as covering science for the news pages, he writes the Saturday Junk Medicine column, which aims to cast an evidence-based eye over the latest health stories.'[2]


Henderson has written many pro-GM articles.[3]

"Only GM can save the banana"

Henderson is one of several journalists who have repeated the periodically recurring 'crisis narrative' story to the effect that the banana will become extinct without GM:

The banana claim was countered by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, which issued a statement saying that small-scale farmers around the world grew a wide range of banana species not threatened by the disease that has attacked the Cavendish type sold mostly on the world's supermarket shelves.[4]

Many of the articles quote the same scientist, Dr Emile Frison, who has links with several biotech industry-funded organisations (see Emile Frison).

For more banana-related scaremongering, see:

"GM crops help man and wildlife"

In 1998 Henderson wrote an article in The Times with the headline, "Modified crops help man and wildlife". Henderson wrote: "Genetically engineered crops can save farmers money, reduce chemical spraying and create a better habitat for birds and insects, scientists claimed yesterday."[5] When, nearly two years later, the Monsanto-sponsored study that was the subject of the article was published in Pest Management Science (April 2000), it turned out that the delayed herbicide application involved in the trials produced a massive yield penalty that farmers would be unlikely to accept.[6]


Henderson contributed to Sense About Science's publication, "Standing up for Science: A guide to the media for early career scientists".[7]

The purpose of this document is made clear in its introduction. It seems to be uniquely concerned with corporate-promoted technologies that the public has mistrusted, such as GM foods and nuclear power. It characterises this mistrust as "confusion" and falsely implies that there is scientific consensus that these technologies are safe:

discussions about science don't always go the way scientists expect them to. In the recent debates about GM foods, the MMR vaccine, nuclear energy and avian 'flu there has been public confusion and it has been important for scientists to speak out both in the media and in public.[8]

The guide, says the Introduction,

contains interviews and insights about how the media works, and practical tips about what you can do if your research area hits the news. Whether you’re worried about what your peers think of you speaking to the media or would not know what to say if a journalist called, this guide will help you decode the inner workings of the media and will help you stand up for science.[9]





  1. Sense About Science, Interview with Mark Henderson, acc 8 Mar 2011
  2. Sense About Science Contributors, accessed 8 March 2011
  3. A selection of Henderson headlines are here: GMWatch, Leave it to the experts?, 13 June 2003, acc 8 Mar 2011
  4. Agence France Presse, UN FOOD AGENCY SAYS BANANAS NOT THREATENED, Jan 30 2003, acc 8 Mar 2011
  5. Mark Henderson, "Modified crops 'help man and wildlife'", The Times, 25 August 1998
  6. Alan M Dewar, Lisa A Haylock, Kathy M Bean, Mike J May, Delayed control of weeds in glyphosate-tolerant sugar beet and the consequences on aphid infestation and yield, Pest Management Science, Vol 56, Issue 4, 2000. p 345-350 (April 2000), accessed 26 Jan 2010
  7. Sense About Science, Contributors, Oct 2006, acc 8 Mar 2011
  8. Sense About Science,Standing up for Science: A guide to the media for early career scientists 2006, acc 8 Mar 2011
  9. Sense About Science,Standing up for Science: A guide to the media for early career scientists 2006, acc 8 Mar 2011