Natalie Bennett was leader of the Green Party from September 2012 until September 2016. She stood as the party's candidate in Holborn and St Pancras in the 2010 and 2015 general elections, and in the 2012 London Assembly elections as a London-wide candidate.
She has a degree in Agricultural Science.
Ms Bennett did a Reddit AMA in February 2015: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2uez88/i_am_natalie_bennett_leader_of_the_green_party_of/. It included questions on nuclear power, GMOs, biomedical research and alternative medicine.
Genetically Modified Crops
In an interview with the Pod Delusion podcast in September 2012, shortly after being elected Green Party leader, Ms Bennett was asked about her stance on GM crops. She responded:
- "I think that GM crops, and the release of GM crops into the environment, is the wrong way to go, because, the fact is GM crops, as currently instituted, represent a further expansion of industrial agriculture - enormous scale, corporate agriculture, that's just utterly the wrong direction to be going in, in terms of the future of farming that we need. I have a particular obsession with soils, and we're utterly trashing the planet's soils. And soils are absolutely critical, and it's essential, and we barely understand what's going on with them, and we can't replace them easily. And huge industrial scale agriculture that's just ploughing across the landscape in huge fields, that relies on a few, very small handful of seed companies, who don't allow farmers to save their own seeds. It's entirely the wrong model of agriculture. So GM, for me, is tied up with an entirely wrong model of agriculture, and is entirely the wrong way to go. And there are safety concerns in terms of the risk factors of what you could be releasing without really understanding what you're doing.".
When asked about the actions of the Take the Flour Back group, and their attacks on GM crop trials at Rothamsted, Ms Bennett said:
- "The nature of that experiment was, you were letting loose something into the environment. There'd been experiments in greenhouses that no-one had problems with. But as soon as you… it's a genie that once you've let it out of the bottle, it's out there. And, I know the scientists were claiming that there was a very, very, very tiny chance of cross-contamination. But actually there were some other figures produced from different peer-reviewed papers published in journals that said the figures were a considerable order of magnitude higher than they were saying. And there simply wasn't the evidence that this was necessary, or pointing us in a direction that was useful."
When then asked directly if she thought Take the Flour Back were doing the right thing in attempting to smash the experiment up, she replied "Yes".
When asked about how Greens and "GM science folk" could have a dialogue about looking at GM crops for environmental benefit she replied:
- "I'd be very happy to talk to them. And I've got the foundation that I think we could talk the same language. And I'm always happy to talk to scientists and people of good will who are coming from a place where they want to solve the sort of problems he's talking about. What I'd say is that plant breeding, is terribly important, but there's also issues of the way you manage the land, the way you insure you that haven't got soil erosion. It's huge numbers of issues that simply aren't being tackled. And that focus simply on plant breeding, comes from a very strong focus of commercial focus."
In a comment on a blog post in 2010, Ms Bennet stated of homeopathy that "The claims it makes for how it works are of course nonsense". However she went on to say that it could be used on the NHS as a placebo, noting "if it is used through the NHS, it does mean people have been checked for cancer etc first". In parentheses she then compared it to conventional medicine: "I suspect that in the right trials, it would come out as an effective treatment – and unlike many “conventional” medicine, guaranteed no side effects".
In an interview in September 2012 she again stated that she does not believe in homeopathy as it is claimed to "work" and described it as a "scientific nonsense". However, she stated that she believed there was a "very small and limited" place for homeopathy within the NHS under controlled conditions as a placebo, for people who have already been tested for serious conditions.
As part of a wider policy against Government funding of private education, she doesn't support funding of faith schools.
Party press release, August 2013: http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2013/08/25/green-party-condemns-start-of-badger-cull-as-inhumane-and-unscientific/
- "This government, whether it’s on energy policy, on welfare benefits policy, or on drug laws, far too often ignores the evidence. It’s this policy – and approach to policy-making - that should be culled, not the badgers."
- http://poddelusion.co.uk/blog/2012/09/06/episode-152-7th-september-2012/ (The whole interview is worth a listen and covers many topics of skeptical interest.)
- http://philobiblon.co.uk/ - personal blog started in 2004
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