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March 25, 2001


IATP Terrorists?, OSU Vandalism, Organic peanuts,


A lot has happened since I first posted this last week to Agbioview:

To summarize, the IATP group called SUSTAIN owns the domain name for the
Genetic Engineering Action Network (GEAN), and a simple WHOIS search
revealed that the address listed for GEAN was the same mailbox that was
listed at the eco-terrorist Earth First's web site.

After this was made public, the GEAN address was changed at Network
Solutions and all address pages on Earth First web sites have been
removed, so somebody is obviously trying to cover something up.

The IATP's Ben Lilliston wrote on their Biotech Activists Listeserv that
they have "never had a post office box in Chicago, nor have we ever shared
one with Earth First or any other organization there." But the records say

And Dale Wiehoff, the IATP Vice President for Communications, is calling
this a crazy conspiracy theory, depite all of the evidence.

To see the full string of lies go to

For more info see http://www.geocities.com/bigjmacd/.


(OSU Press Release)

CORVALLIS, 3-23-01 - Hundreds of poplar trees at Oregon State University
that were being field tested in scientific research projects, some of
which were

A representative of a group called GenetiX Alert, which works with
anti-genetic engineering organizations, said they received a communication
Thursday from a group claiming to be "concerned OSU students and alumni"
who took responsibility for the act of vandalism.
The Oregon State Police are investigating the incidents.

The destroyed trees, at sites near Corvallis, were mostly part of
the research program of Steven Strauss, a professor of forest science at
OSU. Strauss said that they were a mixture of trees that were genetically
engineered and those produced with conventional hybrid breeding
techniques. At one site, nearly 500 one-year-old trees were cut down and
others were girdled, including 62 several-year-old trees that were
conventional hybrids and 30 that were transgenic trees. At another site,
between 100 and 200 young trees, a mixture of conventional hybrids and
transgenic, were damaged or cut down.

About 70 trees in a research plot at an OSU Agricultural Experiment
Station in Klamath Falls, which were conventional hybrid trees, were also
destroyed. The trees were part of a different research project.

"The damage to our research program is actually fairly modest,"
Strauss said of the Corvallis projects. "Most of the older trees had
already provided the data we needed and were ready to be removed. The
research was coming along quite well and the results are very promising."

Strauss and his research team were mostly studying ways to control
flowering, fertility and cross pollination with this research project.
The ultimate goal is to develop hybrid poplar trees, through genetic
engineering or other techniques, which can be used in an outdoor
environment without newly introduced traits being passed to wild plants
when this poses environmental concerns. Some studies also related to
herbicide resistance, which they believe can improve economic efficiency
of weed management while providing environmental benefits via reduced
tillage and use of the most environmentally benign herbicides.

Hybrid poplars, which include cottonwood and aspen trees, are
increasingly being used in plantation agriculture to take advantage of
their extraordinarily fast growth characteristics. They provide sources of
timber as an alternative to wild forests.

Plantations have been recognized by several leading environmental
organizations as being a valuable way to take the pressure off of native
forests while still meeting society's need for pulp and other wood
products, Strauss said.

"Our research was essentially being done with a goal of environmental
protection," Strauss said. "That's what makes the actions of these vandals
difficult to understand and impossible to accept."

The research program and the field tests being conducted had been
reviewed and approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Oregon
Department of Agriculture. Independent scientists had determined that the
tests would be both useful and safe. Funding was provided by the National
Science Foundation, USDA, EPA, U.S. Department of Energy and private

Strauss is director of the Tree Genetic Engineering Research
Cooperative at OSU, a collaboration of academia, government agencies and
private industry working to bring some of the advances in genetic
engineering to modern forestry. Possible goals of poplar genetic
engineering include developing trees that grow faster; produce wood that
is less costly and less environmentally harmful to process into paper,
energy and wood products; remove pollutants from soil; allow the
controlled use of the most desirable herbicides - or are designed to
prevent gene flow into other plant species.

Hybrid poplar trees - as well as other intensively managed species
such as pines, firs and eucalypts - hold great promise to meet the world's
demand for pulp, timber and other wood products in an environmentally
benign way without having to rely so heavily on natural forests, Strauss
said. Some poplar species are produced almost like agricultural crops and
can grow up to five feet per year, and have become the basis for a
blossoming industry both in the United States and around the world.

OSU is a state and national leader in fundamental and applied
research on biotechnology. In one recent year, about 90 faculty from six
colleges and more than 17 departments were doing gene research. Members of
the OSU Center for Gene Research and Biotechnology held more than $50
million in long-term grants, primarily from state and federal agencies,
for studies that address a broad range of issues in biomedicine,
agriculture, animal science, toxicology, disease prevention and other

Terri Lomax, director of the OSU Program for the Analysis of
Biotechnology Issues, says that like any new technology, genetic
engineering has the potential to provide important benefits or can also be
misused. The emphasis at OSU is in assessing and averting potential risks
associated with biotechnology.

"As a land grant university, our responsibility is to make sure that this
technology is used responsibly and for the best interests of the public,"
Lomax said. "We must be able to work with these plants to be able to
assess and manage possible risks and capitalize on the potentially immense
benefits these techniques may provide."
For example, crop plants that have been genetically engineered to make
them resistant to insect damage have already reduced pesticide spraying in
the U.S. by millions of tons per year, Lomax said.

By David Stauth, 541-737-0787
SOURCES: Steve Strauss, 541-737-6578
Terri Lomax, 541-740-6870

Date: 24 Mar 2001 02:40:27 -0000
From: "John W. Cross"
Subject: "Organic" peanuts healthier? Where is the data?

Recently in this news group, I described a literature search in Medline
and Agricola which identified three peer-reviewed articles that had
reported the same or higher levels of mycotoxins in "organic" and "health
food" peanut butters, compared with conventional products.

Mr. Craig Sams, a businessman with interests in "organic" food stores,

"The research quoted on aflatoxin in peanut butter didn't even use the
word 'organic.' It was only the subsequent interpretation by those who
quoted it that gave it that spin."

However, Lislivec et. al (1) explicitly stated that their samples were
"labeled organically grown." Gilbert and Shepherd (2) and Mortimer et.
al. (3) obtained their samples from "specialist Health Food outlets."

Mr. Sams goes on to write that he has data for mycotoxins in "organic"
peanut butters. However, unlike the above authors, he has not actually
submitted his methods and data for peer review. In a previous message Mr.
Sams also claimed that the "organic" peanut plants were healthier than
conventional peanut plants, but he has not revealed his basis for making
such a statement. The burden is on Mr. Sams to support his statements by
submitting his methods and results to a reputable journal.

John W. Cross

1. Mislivec et al. (1979) Appl Environ Microbiol 37(3):567-71
2. Gilbert and Shepherd (1985) Food Addit Contam 2(3):171-83
3. Mortimer et al. (1988) Food Addit Contam 5(2):127-32

The Charms of Duckweed


March 2001 ERS Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 762. 64 pp, (

(Via Agnet

Robbin Shoemaker, Joy Harwood, Kelly Day-Rubenstein, Terri Dunahay, Paul
Heisey, Linwood Hoffman, Cassandra Klotz-Ingram, William Lin, Lorraine
Mitchell, William McBride, Jorge Fernandez-Cornejo
This report analyzes the economic aspects of several key
areas--agricultural research policy, industry structure, production and
marketing, consumer issues, and future world food demand--where
agricultural biotechnology is dramatically affecting the public policy

Chapters are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

Full report available at: http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/aib762/


Consumers and GM Crops - "Consumption Effects of GM Crops:
What if Consumers are Right?" (USDA, 21 March 2001)


USDA Related: See http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/biotechnology/
USDA Related: See http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/aib762

This paper develops a model of differentiated consumers to examine the
consumption effects of genetic modifications to food (GMOs) under
alternative labeling regimes and segregation enforcement scenarios.
Analytical results show that if consumers perceive GM products as being
different than their traditional counterparts, genetic modification
affects consumer welfare and, thus, consumption decisions. When the
existence of market imperfections in one or more stages of the supply
chain prevents the transmission of cost savings associated with the new
technology to consumers, genetic modification results in welfare losses
for consumers. The analysis shows that the relative welfare ranking of
the "no labeling" and "mandatory labeling" regimes depends on: (i) the
level of consumer aversion to genetic modification, (ii) the size of
marketing and segregation costs under mandatory labeling, (iii) the share
of the GM product to total production; and (iv) the extent to which GM
products are incorrectly labeled as non-GM products.

(From: http://scope.educ.washington.edu/mailman/listinfo/gmf-news)


The North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station is releasing two new
soybean varieties, Walsh and Sargent, that contain genetic resistance
to phytopthora root rot. The soybean varieties are named for counties
in eastern North Dakota. Walsh is similar in maturity to the North
Dakota State University (NDSU) soybean variety Traill and matures about
six days earlier than Council, another NDSU variety, according to Ted
Helms, an NDSU soybean breeder.



Rice Scientists Excited by Technology Transfer Trend

IRRI scientists have expressed excitement about the recent mapping of the
rice genome, predicting that this could have a significant impact on a
range of previously intractable problems in the developing world.

The Brantford Expositor Editorial (Via Agnet)

Donald L. Page, Executive Director, Industry Task Force II on 2,4-D
Research Data, Swansboro, N.C., writes in this letter that Werner
Broschinski's response ("Herbicide era must come to an end,'' March
20) to his earlier letter is the typical activist response when
confronted with sound science and documented facts. They resort to
shrill rhetoric and unsubstantiated but highly emotional allegations.

Page writes that Mr. Broschinski does raise a point worth discussing.
He tells us, almost breathlessly, that 2,4-D was "originally
developed for use in chemical warfare,'' which suggests that it
belongs in the same category as nerve gas, anthrax and the Ebola

This is a popular myth in Canada promoted by activists more
interested in psychological impact than facts. Mr. Broschinski goes
so far as to suggest that weed killers are worse than nuclear bombs.
Page says that the original patent on 2,4-D (U.S. Patent No.
2,390,941) was issued to Franklin D. Jones, a plant physiologist
working for a small research oriented company in Pennsylvania. Page
says he later worked for the same company, and knew Dr. Jones. He was
working with the naturally occurring plant growth hormone (auxin)
indoleacetic acid (IAA). IAA is present in all plant matter, and we
consume it daily whenever we eat fruit, vegetables, cereals etc.

Dr. Jones was attempting to use the growth hormone to stimulate plant
growth and ultimately increase the yields of food crops. He was
convinced he was playing a role in the continuing fight against world
hunger, a noble idea, at least at that time. However, IAA is
chemically unstable, which made his work difficult. So he began
looking at more stable IAA analogs (compounds with very similar
molecular structures), including the IAA analog, 2,4-D. This analog,
however, killed the broad leaved crops (dicots) in his tests, but
didn't harm the grasses (monocots). So he discovered a herbicide
which could selectively control broad-leaved weeds in cereal crops,
sugar cane, pastures and turf grasses.

While his invention was not what he was initially seeking, it
never-the-less has had enormous impact on world food production. His
research, however, had absolutely nothing to do with chemical
warfare. Page adds that Mr. Broschinski might be alarmed to learn
that when the naturally occurring IAA is fed to rats, it is seven
times more toxic than its analog, 2,4-D (LD50 = 100 mg/kg/body weight
versus 699 mg/kg). Perhaps that will worry him the next time he faces
a salad or nice vegetable dish; after all, anti-pesticide activists
insist upon a zero-risk world.

The hope and the hype

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
March 25, 2001

LIKE many darlings of the media, Golden Rice -- genetically modified to
contain vitamin A -- soared to celestial heights, only to be shot down in

Developed by Ingo Potrykus and other European scientists to help prevent
blindness and malnourishment in poor Asian children, the rice became
ammunition in the war over genetically modified food. The promise of
golden rice was hyped by the beleaguered biotech industry and glamorized
by the press only to be demonized by industry critics.

The truth is that Golden Rice will not solve the world's nourishment
problems. But it is not the hard-hearted sham portrayed by some whose
agenda is to create fear and halt all genetic modification of crops.

In its slick television ad campaign, the biotech industry presents Golden
Rice as a prime example of how biotechnology benefits mankind, holding out
the possibility of helping to nourish the planet's billions. This was the
first modified food the public had heard of that was not developed
specifically to benefit farmers or the biotech industry.

Having feasted on the StarLink corn debacle, critics of genetically
engineered foods were in a quandary over opposing Golden Rice -- until it
was discovered that the rice did not contain enough vitamin A to satisfy
minimum daily requirements set by the FDA? Even the Rockefeller
Foundation, which funded the rice's development, said the PR uses of
golden rice "have gone too far."

Still, any possibility of getting even small amounts of vitamin A into
poor Third World children is worth pursuing. Golden Rice is a work in
progress that may be improved. The larger point is that genetic altering
of crops has vast potential as the population explodes toward 9 billion by
2050. It is difficult to imagine feeding all those people without
marshaling all the capabilities of modern science. Even a cofounder of
Greenpeace, ecologist Dr. Patrick Moore, has strongly criticized the
group's contention that modified plants offer "zero benefit," saying, "the
campaign of fear now being waged against genetic modification is based
largely on fantasy and a complete lack of respect for science and logic."

It is unfortunate that Golden Rice got caught in this brutal crossfire.
The biotech industry and its detractors are battling, not to convert each
other, but the vast majority of Americans dangling in between. A great
deal of money, and a great many lives, may hinge on Americans' acceptance
of the technology. At risk is not just Golden Rice but the development of
crops that deplete less soil, use less pesticide and thrive in poor soils
and climates.

Any perception of using starving children to make inflated claims and
advance the industry is a problem that has to be taken seriously. The
industry should know by now that the fight is not so much about food as it
is about trust.