Ivor Catt,

St. Albans AL3 4JR,


Pat Grimes,

Elder, St. Albans PM,

Dear Pat,

Genetic Engineering and the Quaker Quagmire

I brought the problem of the Quaker Quagmire to PM and thence to MM, where it was blocked. Sheila Holderness, Elder, wrote to me telling me to take it back to my own Elders. My only recourse now is to put my concerns onto my website, including this letter.

It is unfortunate for the sludge in Friends House that the Concern that they managed to slow down for ten years exploded in such a way into all the media. However, sludge probably fails to notice such a development.

What we are witnessing is one of the greatest revolts against a new technology in history, dwarfing the European protests against Shell over Brent Spar and Nigeria. - John Vidal, We're gagging on GM. Monsanto must face up to meltdown; Guardian, 19mar99, p20.

It is also clear that the massive efforts, started in our PM ten years ago (but not by me), have been rendered futile by the sludge in Friends House and elsewhere. There is no sign in the media discussions of Quaker involvement. For those Quakers who worked so hard for ten years, this is a bitter pill to swallow.

Elsa Dicke writes to me that she has not come across censorship in the Society of Friends, so we are in for a long wait under her leadership before we get a chance to address the problem of the Society continuing to betray its social witness.

Jill Kenner, elder, was surprised that I broached the subject (of the fish that got away) in Meeting while our children were still in Meeting. This was not an accident. Our children need to be warned that they are getting involved with a decadent institution. They also need to be warned that our new leadership has no intention of trying to put things right. I promise them that Quakers who push forward a social concern will be obstructed and delayed at every stage. The well developed philosophy of these people is that Quakers should pursue their social witness elsewhere than in the Society of Friends, as one of our Elders said to me last Sunday after I had spoken.

My particular concern is the blocking of communication of factual information, which is much more fundamental than the higher layers of social witness - communication of opinion; presentation of a corporate position on social issues. These latter will have to wait for a long time after the more fundamental obstruction of factual information flow has been obviated. In the case of Genetic Engineeeing, the Society of Friends could have served a valuable role even at the basic, factual level, without worrying about taking a position on the issue. However, the bolshie sludge even blocked that role for the Society.

Best wishes, Ivor 

cc Jill Kenner, Elder

cc Elizabeth Fowler, Elder,

cc Elsa Dicke, Clerk of Yearly Meeting,

Friends House, Euston Rd.,

cc William Randles, Elder,

cc Sheils Holderness,

cc Joy Bell,

cc Amber Carroll