Leader: No honour in this list

December 19, 2003

The machinations of the British establishment are a mystery to even the most seasoned observers. Who is in and who is out may be obvious to those who pore over honours lists and party invitations, but the reasons behind those decisions are a different matter. If all that is at stake is an OBE or even a knighthood, perhaps we should not care. But if prejudice at the highest levels runs the risk of depriving the state of the services of an outstanding scientist, the apparently trivial becomes serious in the extreme.

There are debates to be had at all levels of society about vivisection and GM foods, but there can be no justification for the anonymous blackballing of those who already suffer unpopularity and intimidation to push forward the boundaries of science. We should not be surprised if those who pursue valuable and entirely legal research choose to do so in a more hospitable environment if they cannot rely on official protection and support at home.

British science and the economy will be the losers if that is allowed to happen.

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