Thursday, May 3, 2012


cc: "NGP List" <>, "UEA Green Party List" <>
date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001 12:10:01 -0000
from: "Rob Tinch" <>
subject: [norwichgreenparty] Save British Science meetings
to: <>

<x-charset ISO-8859-1>Hi -- this is a draft of the 5-minute speech I'll be giving tonight at the
Save British Science meeting in Norwich. I'm sending it here firstly
because it might be useful to others speaking at one of the SBS meetings,
and secondly because any quick comments you might have would be very

(Copy to Norwich lists -- any comments? Hope to see some of you tonight,
5.30pm, LT4!)



Perhaps because of the name, many people have the misconception
that The Green Party is a single issue party focused entirely on
environmental protection. This is simply untrue. We are however
different from the other main parties in that we place equity and
sustainability at the heart of our policy making, rather than
aiming primarily for economic growth. Ours is essentially a
humanist philosophy. In our "Core Values" we state "Progress
should be measured in terms of quality of life for all the world's
peoples: personal freedom, human fulfilment and spiritual growth
rather than centralised power, uniformity and material wealth."
Around our basic philosophy, we have a full suite of integrated
policies which would achieve these goals.

So where does science fit in to this? The Green Party is NOT
anti-science or Luddite: quite the opposite. Our policy on
science and technology states in its principles firstly that
"research is a worthwhile cultural activity in its own right" and
secondly that "science and technology are deeply integrated into
our society and will play an important role in a Green society"

Our policy then sets out that fundamental research in science
should be funded from central and regional resources -- through
Universities, research councils, and the technology and
environmental commissions which we will establish. These bodies
will be encouraged to ensure that a wide range of projects were
funded, and that unconventional ideas were given fair
consideration. Special emphasis will be placed on
interdisciplinary research, flexibility in funding, and funding of
individuals as well as projects.

We will reduce the funding for military research to a low level,
sufficient to sustain the country's defensive conventional forces.
The substantial research resources released would be converted to
civilian use. We will substantially increase funding for
fundamental and applied ecological and environmental research, in
particular to facilitate the long-term and multi-disciplinary
research required for understanding human-environment
interactions. We will also target research funding on improving
technology for renewable energy, waste recovery and disposal,
integrated pest management, organic agriculture, forestry
ecosystem management and many other essential components of a
sustainable socio-economic system.

By funding research from tax revenues, we will ensure that the
research conducted is serving the wider community. The other
parties are placing increasing emphasis on funding from private
industry. Business funds research which leads to a saleable
product, leading to a situation in which the balance of research
is seriously skewed towards marketability and increasing use of
resources. This balance must be redressed.

I think a good example is given by our policy on genetic
engineering. While we are opposed to the patenting of living
matter, we are not intractably anti-GM. Rather, our policy states:
"The Green Party accepts that certain aspects of genetic
engineering may be benign and may lead to enhanced quality of
life, but feels that there is an urgent need for informed public
debate on the issues raised because of the economic, environmental
and social control aspects of this technology. Pending research
into the effects of the release of genetically engineered
organisms into the environment, the Green Party seeks a moratorium
on such releases through agreement between industry, research
establishments and government, as well as a ban on importation of
such organisms into the UK." This is a sensible approach to a
complex issue which fully incorporates the Precautionary
Principle, a principle enshrined in European Law.

There are so many more examples of an urgent need for focused
basic research into our production systems: for example, BSE,
Listeria, Salmonella, antibiotic resistance. But, according to
Save British Science, the Ministry of Agriculture has cut its
research budget year on year for at least 13 years.

Research into health is dominated by drug companies, holding the
NHS to ransom, and willing to fight in the courts to stop
developing world governments using affordable generics to save
lives. They claim they need their huge profits for reinvestment
in research. And yet they spend twice as much on marketing as on

The new Science Research Investment Fund will require Universities
to find 25 per cent of project costs from external sources: in
most cases this means industrial sponsorship. Save British Science
have said that "the research community will need to be vigilant in
ensuring that this does not prevent fundamental, blue-skies
research from receiving its fair share of the new investment." But
how is this vigilance to be used? Universities and researchers
are increasingly turning to industry for funds, because
they have been given little choice. I am sure that the vast
majority of researchers would far rather have access to adequate
public funds and the freedom to conduct research for society
rather than for industrial paymasters. The Green Party will not
stand by while UK research is privatised.

Neither will we stand by while education is set back a century or
more to become again the preserve of the elite. It is bad enough
that a Conservative government started the impoverishment of
students by cutting grants, removing housing benefit and
introducing loans. That a Labour government has presided over the
continuation of this process with the expansion of loans and the
introduction of tuition fees is nothing short of shameful. The
Green Party will reinstate grants, abolish tuition fees and once
again allow students access to housing benefit. When we introduce
our Citizen's Income scheme, students will be fully integrated
within it, with additional consideration for the special
requirements of studying.

Research continues to be a male-dominated and in many cases
inflexible career. The Green Party has a commitment to
facilitating non-standard career structures, including movement
across disciplines and re-entry into research from other
activities, without artificial constraints on age. Professional
bodies will be encouraged to avoid domination by male hierarchies
and closed sub-cultures, facilitating equal participation of women
in science and technology.

Another oft-cited problem for the UK research community is that of
low wages and "brain drain". Yes, wages are low compared to the
private sector, and this is particularly true for research
students, support staff and junior research staff. Clearly a
better deal is essential here to attract people into science
careers. For starters, Green party taxation and welfare policy
will benefit these people: for example, the 47 year-old technician
who wrote to Save British Science about the problems of providing
for his wife and family on �18,500 pa will be at least �3000 pa
better off under our Citizens Income scheme. We will also push
for a fundamental review of these lower salaries, aiming to cut
the gap between these and private sector equivalents.

We must recognise, however, that academics, certainly at senior
lecturer level and above, are well paid compared with average
incomes. And as academics we have the great privilege of
following challenging, interesting careers, teaching motivated
students, researching subjects about which we are passionate. I
don't think we can solve the problem of brain drain by throwing
more money into the higher academic salaries. We will solve it by
an holistic approach to creating a better society - a green
society - in which public services and financial security are
provided for all, in which workers' rights are respected, in which
parents do not need to worry for the future standard of living of
their children or their own retirement. In short, we will solve
this problem if we build a Britain in which people want to live. Research,
science and technology have a vital role and a healthy future in a Green

Rob Tinch
Lecturer in Ecological Economics
School of Environmental Sciences
University of East Anglia
Norwich NR4 7TJ
tel 01603 593174
fax 01603 507719

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