Talk:Philip Stott in his own words

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Hi Philip,

I'm very glad that you have joined in personally!

I don't know if you are intending to follow this, but in case you are, I thought I'd clarify a couple of things about my interpretation of your position. I'd really like to read your response. As I can't email you I am posting here.

I don't doubt your motives and sincerity in your writings. What I am fascinated by is the way that your own position is co-opted by industry interests, and the extent to which your position is undermined (not contradicted!) through association with them.

For example, although you are anti-tobacco and left-wing, your opinions have been supported (financially?) by the IEA, which is pro-tobacco (in the sense that it shares enough of an agenda with the tobacco industry to be funded at least in part by Philip Morris) and very right-wing. I want to make it clear that I'm not saying that to call yourself left-wing you must on principle disagree with the IEA. I'm just asking: is it not intriguing that you should find yourself in this position?

Another example: you were a signatory to the Sense about Science letter to Tony Blair. You are, I am sure, aware that this organisation has close links with a PR company which works for the biotech industry, and that it is funded largely by industry. The organisation presents itself as a neutral body which is pro-science, yet essentially they deal in "anti-anti-GM" spin. The tactic of associating people who are anti-GM with the idea that they are all anti-progress is a deliberate smear, and one I feel you engage in yourself.

The tactic is an old one used by, among others, FOREST. "Expose" the people with legitimate concerns as crazy leftwing loons and thereby discredit their entire position. To paint environmentalists as luddites and anti-americans is a gross generalisation which has the effect of obscuring the many strong arguments. It is exactly the same as labelling you a right-wing industry apologist: this has the effect of obscuring your very valid observations about "grand narratives". Yet I fear this is a tactic of which you could stand accused. I want to avoid this. To this end, I hope we can collaborate on an entry for you which is balanced: I would like it to reflect my concerns while still doing your own arguments justice.

My question is, do you view this as a legitimate tactic to counter anti-GM spin (which of course exists)? I suggest that taking part in any spin undermines your stated goal of presenting arguments impartially. I suggest that through your language and some of your chosen collaborators, you are slipping into exactly the tactics which you profess to be trying to expose, and I think this undermines what you are trying to say.

By the way, I very well understood your arguments about the "virgin rainforest" "grand narrative" right from the start. I just think that adjectives like "barthesian" are not meaningful to a general readership, and I think the phrase "believes that 'virgin rainforests' are a myth" is a caricature, but a reasonably accurate one. Especially when accompanied by references.