Thriving plant life

November 7, 2003

Mark Tester ("GM's bitter harvest", THES , October 24) and other recent articles suggest that anti-GM sentiment is stimulating an exodus of plant scientists from the John Innes Centre and other UK centres of excellence. This is not the case. Science is a highly mobile profession, and many of the examples cited were unrelated to the GM debate.

The articles also ignore the flow of scientists in the opposite direction. Since the anti-GM campaign started in 1998, JIC has seen a net influx of faculty from abroad, myself included. Our recent recruitment of a British geneticist from Stanford University was made in the face of stiff competition from top US institutions, and we are negotiating with an Australian researcher to start a new programme in cereal research. These world-class scientists are excited about the cutting-edge programmes in the UK's vibrant plant research community, funded to the tune of £56 million by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Chris Lamb
Director, John Innes Centre, Norwich

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