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Sound Science Must Prevail in Sacramento

Contact: C.S. Prakash at 1-334-444-7884 ; prakash@tuskegee.org

June 20, 2003; Tuskegee, Alabama - International leaders attending the Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology in Sacramento, California next week should let sound science determine the future of agricultural technologies in developing countries, according to the AgBioWorld Foundation, a global coalition of academics and scientists which includes over 21 Nobel Prize winners.

"Special interest group activists have been planning to disrupt the conference for months by promoting fear rather than science," said Dr. C.S. Prakash, AgBioWorld's president. "The voices of protest must not be allowed to deny starving people access to technologies which can improve the lives of over 1.3 billion people who live on less than one dollar a day."

These technologies include crops improved through biotechnology which have already been proven to increase yields, reduce pesticide use and curb soil erosion in developed countries, while other crops currently under development will provide enhanced nutrition and offer salt tolerance and drought resistance - valuable traits in parts of the world where water resources are scarce.

"The people protesting plant biotechnology are the same ones who protest the use of fertilizer and pesticides, who want all farming to be low yielding organic," said Prakash. "But that is precisely why there is so much hunger in developing countries - they already are organic, not by choice, but because they lack modern agricultural inputs and advanced seed varieties."

Support for the safety and benefits of crops derived through biotechnology has been voiced by dozens of respected organizations such as The British Royal Society, the US National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the French Academy of Medicine and the American Medical Association. The benefits of biotechnology improved crops are already being realized in China, South Africa, Argentina, India, the Philippines and other developing countries.

"It is easy for well-fed activists in wealthy industrialized countries to denigrate new agricultural technologies because they face no risks by doing so," said Dr. Prakash. "But for farmers in developing countries, shunning improvements in agriculture can mean the difference between life and death for themselves and their children. Their future success hinges first on improved agricultural production."

The thousands of AgBioWorld members strongly urge the protesters and the organic industry interest groups which fund them to abandon their campaigns of fear, and encourage them to instead support the application of all our best tools and science, including biotechnology, toward alleviating the ravages of hunger and malnutrition. The annual budget for Greenpeace alone redirected to science-based crop research could help improve the lives of millions. Spending that money on food-fear propaganda and campaigns which promote the destruction of agricultural research in the face of global hunger is an affront to human decency.