Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


HARD NEWS 13/07/02 - Having Calmed Down

HARD NEWS is first broadcast in Auckland on 95bFM around 9.30am on Fridays and replayed around 5.15pm Friday and 10am Sunday on The Culture Bunker. You can listen to 95bFM live on the Internet. Point your web browser to You will need an MP3 player. Currently New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of GMT.

This issue of HARD NEWS is also available in MP3 form at and in text form at You can subscribe to the 95bFM Hard News mailing list at

I feel that this week's Hard News was a little too emotional. It was written in the hours after I interviewed Dr Poulter, and I was angry about what had happened. I remain convinced by him and his view that there was no reliable evidence of GM seed presence and that the right thing was done.

So the book's central pillar - that there was a GM release - remains unsupported by any known scientist. Lindie Nelson, co-author of one of the controversial ERMA memos, has been tracked down - it is amazing how many key players on both sides of this are away on holiday - and says her concerns were "very substantially allayed" in subsequent meetings, which seems to be scientist-speak for being convinced. MAF's biosecurity manager Richard Ivess says Hager or his expert just mistook a bunch of non-positives for positives.

One of the book's other main themes is that government decisions were heavily influenced by the PR representatives of interested companies. Nicky Hager actually admitted in Wednesday's interview with Dean Williams that he had no proof that that was the case. Marian Hobbs, the minister "running" the issue, says she never met with the PR people.

Hager has now said that Nelson has been got at, and I've had it suggested to me that Poulter is in on the conspiracy - Greenpeace put out a press release to that effect - but there's no evidence of either. How far a paper trail can lead you to claim that multiple individuals are lying, I'm not sure.

But, as a well-conducted interview by Mary Wilson with Bas Walker showed last evening, there are still some questions to be asked about the way decisions were made at a time when GM seed presence was suspected. We'll see.

I still strongly believe that the way two media organisations went out very hard with a story-on-a-plate that they were unable to sustain in the two days following was dreadful. It conspired against reason. Everyone went for the big end of the story when it would better have been developed from the little end.

Ambushing Helen Clark with the question guaranteed a confrontation - but it also meant an interview that was incapable of producing any information. Independent advice should have been taken, even if it meant forsaking the big bang.

It's been a weird episode. John Roughan's point in the Herald today about what happened to the GM issue the moment an election was called is well made.

Anyway, my original comment stands, but I'll enjoy my weekend more if this stands along with it.


© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The Brexit Vote Aftermath

So, what happens next? Normally when a major policy like this gets so crushingly rejected – by 230 votes, when Theresa May had reportedly been hoping for a defeat by “only” 70- 100 votes – the PM would resign and/or a fresh election called. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our History Of Selling Out The Kurds

For the past 100 years, the West has sold out the Kurds over and over again. So much so that it came as a surprise yesterday when US National Security advisor John Bolton appeared to walk back the latest act of betrayal... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Reactionary Politics Of Fear

What do you call a situation where the state tries to create panic among its own people for party political gain? As practiced by Theresa May and her faction of the Conservative Party, this has become a well-honed form of state terrorism… More>>

Viva Scoop 3.0! Rounding Up 2018 And Looking Ahead

2018 has been quite a year for Scoop. We are so thrilled to have successfully met the funding target for the first stage of the ‘Scoop 3.0’ plan raising $36,000. This means we can now proceed with the planning phase for the delivery of this bold vision for a community-owned, participatory, independent newsroom... More>>