13 October 2003
Nomination not by URC

In your front page article in the issue of September 22 you state that the University Research Committee (URC) nominated the trio of successful women scientists for the annual Distinguished Woman Scientist. This is not strictly accurate with respect to Professor Jennifer Thomson. The URC nominated her for the Frances Ames Lecture Series. HERS-SA nominated Professor Thomson for Distinguished Woman Scientist award. You will also see in the attached nomination letter that I use the words "passionate", "personal passion" and "becoming involved in agricultural committees and lobbying with organisations such as the United Nations". Professor Thomson is certainly not "best known for her 'cautious' advocacy of genetically modified foods" as stated in your article.

Lesley Shackleton


Thank you for your letter. It must be pointed out however, that the word "cautious" with regards to Prof Thomson's advocacy of genetically modified foods was not taken from your nomination letter but from commentary on the Science in Africa website report (www.scienceinafrica.co.za), which is why we used the word in quotes.

Though she is undoubtedly passionate about GM technology, Prof Thomson has also underlined the responsibility scientists have to further research the field and to monitor developments closely, especially from an environmental perspective. In this sense we agree with the description.

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