World Scientists' Statement

Calling for a Moratorium on GM Crops and Ban on Patents

We the undersigned scientists call upon our Governments to:

  • Impose an immediate moratorium on further environmental releases of transgenic crops, food and animal-feed products for at least 5 years.
  • Ban patents on living organisms, cell lines and genes.
  • Support a comprehensive, independent public enquiry into the future of agriculture and food security for all, taking account of the full range of scientific findings as well as socioeconomic and ethical implications.

1. We are extremely concerned over the continued release and commercialization of transgenic crops, food and animal-feed products in the face of growing scientific evidence of hazards to biodiversitv, food safety, human and animal health, while neither the need nor the benefits of genetic engineering agriculture are yet proven.

1.1 New scientific evidence have convinced us of the need for an immediate moratorium on releases.

1.1.1. Herbicide resistant transgenes have spread to wild relatives by cross-pollination in both oilseed rape and sugar beet,1 creating many species of potential superweeds. One study shows that transgenes may be up to 30 times more likely to escape than the plant's own genes2

1.1.2. Bt-toxins engineered into a wide range of transgenic plants already released into the environment may build up in the soil and have devastating impacts on pollinators and other beneficial insects3

1.1.3. Serious doubts over the safety of transgenic foods are raised by new revelations on the results of animal feeding experiments. Potatoes engineered with snowdrop lectin fed to rats caused highly significant reduction in weight of many organs, impairment of immunological responsiveness and signs suggestive of viral infection.4

1.1.4. Research from the Netherlands show that antibiotic resistant marker genes from genetically engineered bacteria can be transferred horizontally to indigenous bacteria at a substantial frequency of 10-7 in an artificial gut5

1.1.5. Researchers in the US found widespread horizontal transfer of a yeast genetic parasite to the mitochondrial genome of higher plants6, raising serious concerns over the uncontrollable horizontal spread of transgenes and marker genes from transgenic plants released into the environment.

2. The patenting of living organisms, cell lines and genes under the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights agreement are sanctioning acts of piracy of intellectual and genetic resources from Third World nations7, and at the same time, increasing corporate monopoly on food production and distribution. Small farmers all over the world are being marginalized, threatening long term food security for all8.

3. The Governments of industrialized nations, by voting for patents on organisms, cell lines and genes, including human genes, are in danger of allowing corporations unrestricted exploitation of their citizens and natural resources through the treaties being negotiated in the WTO and other fora Environmental standards, food safety standards and even basic human rights will be sacrificed to corporate financial imperatives9.

4. Governmental advisory committees lack sufficient representation from independent scientists not linked to the industry. The result is that an untried, inadequately researched technology has been rushed prematurely to the market, while existing scientific evidence of hazards are being downplayed, ignored, and even suppressed10, and little independent research on risks are being carried out.

5. The technology is driven by an outmoded, genetic determinist science that supposes organisms are determined simply by constant, unchanging genes that can be arbitrarily manipulated to serve our needs; whereas scientific findings accumulated over the past twenty years have invalidated every assumption of genetic determinism11. The new genetics is compelling us to an ecological, holistic perspective, especially where genes are concerned. The genes are not constant and unchanging, but fluid and dynamic, responding to the physiology of the organism and the external environment, and require a stable, balanced ecology to maintain stability.


1. Brookes, M. (1998). Running wild, New Scientist 31 October; Snow, A. and Jorgensen, R. (1998). Costs of transgenic glufosinate resistance introgressed from Brassica napus into weedly Brassica rapa. Abstract, Ecologicil Society of America, Baltimore, Aug. 6, 1998.

2. Bergelson, J., Purrington, c.B. and Wichmann, G. (1998). Promiscuity in transgenic plants. Nature 395, 25.

3. Crecchio, C. and Stotzky, G. (1998). Insecticidal activity and biodegradation of the toxin from B acillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki bound to humic, acids from soil, "Soil Biology and Biochemistry 30", 463-70, and references therein.

4. Leake, C. and Fraser, L. (1999). Scientist in Frankenstein food alert is proved right. UK Mail on Sunday, 31 Jan.; Goodwin, B.C. (1999). Report on SOAEFD Flexible Fund Project RO818, Jan. 23, 1999.

5. MacKenzie, D. (1999). Gut reaction. New Scientist 30 Jan., p.4.

6. Cho, Y., Qui, Y.L., Kuhlman, P. and Palmer, J.D. (1998). Explosive invasion of plant mitochondria by a group I intron. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 95, 14244-9.

7. See Shiva, V. (1998). Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge, Green Books, London; also Latin American Declaration on Transgenic Organisms, Quito, 22 Jan. 1999.

8. The Corner House (1998), Food? Health? Hope? Genetic Engineering and World Hunger, Briefing 10.

9. See Mander, J. and Goldsmith, E. eds. (1996). The Case against the Global Economy and for a Turn toward the Local, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco.

10. See note 4.

11. See Ho, M. W. (1998, 1999). Genetic Engineering Dream or Nightmare? The Brave New World of Bad Science and Big Business, Gateways Books and Third World Network, Bath and Penang.

Scientists involved in the Statement:

Signed (136 scientists from 27 countries):

Update on 21st October 1999

DI Gertrude Kaffenbock. Ph.D. candidate, Agricultural Economist, St. Polton, Austria

Angela Fehringer, Anthropology Student, Sydney, Australia

Margaret Jackson, BSc.Genetics, National Genetics Awareness Alliance, Australia

Dr. Ted Steele, Molecular Immunologist, U. Wollengong, Australia

Stephen Glanville PDC, ECOS Design, Australia

Dr Farhad Mazhar, Ecologist, New Agricultural Movement, Bangladesh

Renata Menasche, Agronomist, Federal Un. of Rio Grand du Sul, Brazil

Paulo Roberto Martins, Research Institute of Technology, Brazil

Dr Thomas R. Preston, Un. of Tropical Agriculture, Cambodia

Prof. David Suzuki, Geneticist, U.B.C., Canada

Prof. Joe Cummins, Geneticist, University of Western Ontario, Canada

Dr Warren Bell, MD, Canad. Assoc. of Physicians for the Environ., Canada

Prof. Abby Lippman, Epidemologist & Geneticist, McGill Un. Canada

Prof. Ronald Labonte, Population Health Research Director, Ontario, Canada

Prof. Marijan Jost, Plant Geneticist, Agricultural College, Krizevci, Croatia

Prof Anton Svajger, Un Zagreb Medical School, Croatia

Vesna Samobor, M.Sc. Agricultural College, Krizevci, Croatia

Damir Magdic, M.Sc. Food Scientist, Osijek Un, Croatia

Damjan Bogdanovic, PhD candidate, Un Zagreb, Croatia

Dr. Zora Matrovic, MD, MS, Vice-President, Croatia Natural Law Party, Croatia

Dr. Tewolde Egziabher, Agronomist, Min. of the Environment, Ethiopia

Dr. Herve Le Meur, Biomathematician, Univ. Paris, France

Dr. George Capouthier, Biologist, Univ. Paris, France

Dr. Christine von Weisaeker, Ecoropa, Germany

Dr Christiane Boecker, MCommH, Community Health, Haiti

Prof. Ervin Laszlo, President, The Club of Buddapest, Hungary

Dr. Vandana Shiva, Research Institute for Science and Ecology, India

Dr. Muhua Achary, Environmentalist, St. Joseph's College, Bangalore, India

Dr. Thomas S. Cox, Research Geneticist, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture,

Manhattan, KS (retired) - present address Hyderabad, India.

Dr. Bruno D'Udine, Behaviour Ecologist, University of Udine, Italy

Dr Giorgio Cingolani, Agricultural Economist, Italy

Prof. Atuhiro Sibatani, Molecular Biologist, Osaka, Japan

Dr Shiron Sugita, Plant Geneticist, Nagoya U. Japan

Dr Noeoru Tagishita, Plant Geneticist, Jap. Assoc. Agro-Nature, Tokyo, Japan

Dr. Shingo Shibata, Biosafety and Environmental Sociologist, Japan

Dr Machiko Yasukohchi, PLAN - International Japan Public Relations Team,Japan

Jaroen Compeerapap, Environmental Law and Development Center, The Netherlands

Dr Robert Mann, Ecologist, Auckland, New Zealand

Dr Peter R Wills, Theoretical Biology, Uni. Auckland, New Zealand

Prof. Terje Traavik, Virologist, University of Tromso, Norway

Dr Ingrid Olesen, Senior Research Scientist, Institute of Aquaculture Res. Ltd, Norway

Prof. Oscar B. Zamora, Agronomist, U. Phillipines, Los Banos, Phillipines

Dr. Pamela G. Fernadez, Agronomist, U. Phllipines, Los Banos, Phillipines

Dr. Marirada Silva, Molecular Biologist, Portuguese Catholic Univ., Portugal

Glenn Ashton, Director, Ekogaia Foundation, and Green Party, South Africa

Dr Gregorio Alvar, Biotechnologist,. Computense U. Madrid, Spain

Dr. Javier Blasco, Aragonese Ctr Rural European Information, Spain

Dr. Katarina Leppanen, History of Ideas, Gothenburg Uni, Sweden

Florianne Koechlin, Biologist, World Wildlife Fund, Switzerland

Verena Soldati, Biotechnologist, Basler Appell, Switzerland.

Dr. Daniel Amman, Cell Biologist, Tech. Switzerland

Dr. Ruth Goseth, Dermatologist, ISDE, Switzerland

Yves Schatzle, Agronomist and Economist, Switzerland

Prof. Omboom Luanratana, Pharmacologist, Univ. of Mahedol, Bangkok, Thailand.

Dr. David Bellamy, Biologist and Broadcaster, London, UK

Prof. Arpad Pusztai, Biochemist, Formerly from Rowett Institute, UK

Dr. Susan Bardocz, Geneticist, Aberdeen, UK

Dr. Colin L.A. Leakey, Plant Geneticist, Cambridge, UK

Dr. Harash Narang, Pathologist, BSE expert, UK

Prof. Richard Lacey, Microbiologist, Leeds, UK

Dr. Michael Antoniou, Molecular Geneticist, Guy's Hospital, UK

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, Geneticist and Biophysicist, Open University, UK

Dr J. M. Kerr, Bioethics, Winchester College: Oxford U. UK

Fatima Pelica, Biochemist, PhD Candidate, JII, UK

Dr. Jerry Ravetz, Philosopher of Science, London, UK

Dr Tom Wakeford, Biologist, U. of East London, UK

Peter Preston Jones, MSc, Environomental Campaigner, UK

Prof. Brian Goodwin, Biologist, Schumacher College, UK

Patrick Holden, Director, Soil Association, UK

Dr. Eva Novotny, Astrophysicist, Univ. Cambridge (retired), UK

Prof. Ian Stewart, Biomathematics, U. Warwick, UK

Dr. Vyvyan Howard, Toxipathologist, U. Liverpool, UK

Lynda Birke , Biologist, Liverpool Uni. Veterinary School, UK

Prof. Peter Saunders, Biomathematician, U. London, UK

Prof. Tim Ingold, Anthropologist, U. Manchester, UK

Dr. Robert C. Poller, Organic Chemist, U. London, UK

Gordon Daly P.hD student, Gene Therapist, Kennedy Inst. London, UK

Stuart Daly P.hD student, Transgenic group, Charing Cross Hosp. UK

Dr. John E. Hammond, Engineer, Highfeild, UK

Dr. Philip Kilner, Cardiologist, Royal Brompton & Harefield, UK

Dani Kaye M.Sc. Scientists for Global Responsibility London, UK

David Kaye M.Sc. Scientists for Global Responsibility, London, UK

Angela Ryan, Molecular biologist, Open Univ. UK

Prof. David Packham, Material Scientist, U. Bath, UK

Dr. David J Heaf, Biochemist, Wales, UK

Dr. Alan Currier, Taxonomist, IRBV, UK

Dr. Gesa Staats de Yanes, Veterinarian Toxicologists, U. Liverpool, UK

Barbara Wood-Kaczmar, M.Sc., Science writer, UK

Dr. Gene S. Thomas, Agriculturist, UK

Dr. David A.H. Birley, General Medical Practitioner, Swindon, UK

Dr. Brian Hursey, ex FAO Senior Officer for Vector Borne Diseases, Neath , UK.

Prof. Martha Crouch, Biologist, Indiana University, USA

Prof. Ruth Hubbard, Biologist, Harvard University, USA

Prof. Phil Bereano, Council for Responsible Genetics, U. Washington USA

Prof. Martha Herbert , Pediatric Neurologist, Mass. Gen. Hosp. USA

Prof. David Schwartzman, Geochemist, Howard Uni. Washington DC USA

Prof. John Garderineer, Biologist, U. Michigan USA

Dr. Samuel Epstein, School of Public Health, Univ. Illinois, Chicago, USA

Dr John Fagan, Genetics ID, Washington, USA

Dr. Britt Bailey, Senior Researcher, CETOS, Ca, USA

Dr. Marc Lappe, Geneticist and Director CETOS, Ca, USA

Dr Michael W Fox, Veterinarian & Bioethicist, Washington DC, USA

Dr Walter Bortz, Physician, Palo Alto, USA

Anne-Marie Mayer, Ph. D. candidate, Nutrition, Cornell Univ., USA

Dr. Catherine Badley, Biologist, University of Michigan USA

Dr. Gerald Smith, Zoologist, U. Michigan, USA

Vuejuin McKersen M.Sc, Natural Resource Manager U. Michigan, USA

Dr. John Soluri, Historian of Science, Carnegie Mellon U USA

Juiet S Erazo PhD student U. of Michigan USA

Dr. Juette Peufecto, Biologist, U of Michigan USA

U.V. Kutzli Ph.D. Candidate, U of Michigan USA

Kristin Cobelius M.Sc. Student, U. Michigan USA

Lena S Nicolai PhD Student University of Michigan USA

Marial Peelle, Biol./Anthropologist Undergrad. Swarthmors College USA

Dr. Ty Fitzmorris, Ecologist, Hampshire College USA

Dr. Caros R Ramirez, Biologist, St Lawrance University USA

Rosa Vazquez Student in Biology, Ohio State University USA

Sean Lyman Student Gettysbury College USA

Ryan White Student St Lawrence University USA

Dr Jack Kloppenburg, Un. Wisconsin, Rural Sociologist, USA

Dr. Nancy A Schult, Entomologist, U of Wisconsin-Madison USA

Dr. Brian Schultz, Ecologist, Hampshire College USA

Dr. Douglas H Boucher, Ecologist, Hood College USA

Dr. Timothy Mann, Geographer, Hampshire College

Chris Picone M.Sc. Soil Microbiologist, U. Michigan USA

Dr. Peter M. Rosset, Ins. for Food and Development Policy, USA

Dr. Ignacio Chapela, Microbiologist & Ecologist, U.C. Berkeley, USA

Dr. Ingrid C. Northwood, Biochemist, Simon Fraser University, USA

Prof. Ed Daniel, Health Sciences Centre, McMaster University, Ca, USA

Dr Linda Jean Sheperd, Biochemist, Gaia Blessings, USA

Dr Herve Grenier, Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Change, Univ. Washington,USA

U.V. Kutzli Ph.D. Candidate, U of Michigan USA

Alex Jack, Planetary Medicine, Jushi Institute, Becket, Mass, USA

Philip H Howard, Ph.D candidate, Rural Sociology, Uni. of Missouri, USA

Dr. Arthur Rybeck Jr D.D.S. Dentistry and Organic Farmer, Wheeling, USA

Contact: Mae-Wan Ho/Angela Ryan, Institute of Science in Society
               Tel/Fax: 44-181-441-6480

To sign on to the Statement, please also visit the website of  ISIS:

ISISInstitute of Science in Society at The Institute of Science in Society is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to research and education. Its aims are to develop and promote sustainable science, socially responsible science, science for public good and the integration of science in society.