Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has 30 member countries and describes its aims as being to "Support economic growth, Boost employment, Raise living standards, Maintain financial stability, Assist other countries’ economic development [and] Contribute to growth in world trade"[1].

Biotech role

The OECD operates a Biotechnology Unit within the Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. From 1993 to December 1998, this was headed by Mark Cantley[2] a strong proponent for the use of GM foods. Cantley was also the Secretary for OECD's Internal Co-ordination Group on Biotechnology (ICGB), established in 1993, to facilitate internal co-ordination among the sectors of agriculture; science, technology, and industry; environment; and trade[3].

From 28 February-2 March 2000 the OECD held a conference in Edinburgh on the Scientific and Health Aspects of Genetically Modified Foods. The conference was chaired by GM proponent and head of the UK's Food Standards Agency, Sir John Krebs FRS[4]. Dr Arpad Pusztai was the only GM-sceptical scientist invited and he was the subject of repeated and vociferous attack during the conference. He commented: 'I was left with the impression that the Conference was not an impartial, objective and scientific forum for discussions on food safety. To most impartial observers and participants, and certainly to me, it appeared to be more of a propaganda forum for airing the views and promoting the interests of the GM biotechnology industry.'[5]

In July 2001 another major OECD conference was held in Bangkok entitled 'New Biotechnology Food and Crops: Science, Safety and Society'[6]. Like the previous OECD conference held the Bangkok OECD was chaired by a leading Fellow of the UK's Royal Society - GM proponent and chairman of the UK Chemicals Stakeholders Forum, Lord Selbourne[7]. The Bangkok conference fully endorsed the controversial 2001 UNDP report, which recommended GM crops as a solution to poverty[8], and to which 290 grassroots and farmers groups publicly objected[9].



  1. ^OECD About the OECD
  2. ^European Molecular Biology Laboratory 2004-2007 1st EMBL/EMBO Joint Conference 2000 Session IV
  3. ^Ibid
  4. ^OECD Chairman's Report
  5. ^Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of Science and Technology Report about professor Pusztai at the OECD/Edinburgh Conference on the Scientific and Health Aspects of Genetically Modified Foods on 28 February - 1 March 2000.
  6. ^OECD Rapporteurs Report for the Conference on New Biotechnology Foods and Crops: Science, Safety and Society (Bangkok, Thailand, 10-12 July 2001)
  7. ^OECD Bangkok Conference on Biotechnology
  8. ^UNDP 2001 Human Development Report 2001 Oxford University Press, New York
  9. ^Guardian News and Media Limited 2007; Special Report: GM Debate; July 11, 2001 UN agency backs GM food crops John Vidal and John Aglionby