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March 29, 2001


Starbucks, Killer Tomatoes, Monarchs,


Dear Starbucks:

You should not yield to the eco-terrorists and professional protest
industry over the milk question. Why let Ronnie Cummins and his gang
trample on your business? Why don't you turn to valid scientists and food
technologists, to university experts and scientific panels instead of the
bally-hoo and whine and shouts of the protest industry?

Don't you know that the entire issue of boivne somatatropin use in milk
production was settled about a decade ago? When offered a choice in the
supermarkets, consumers overwhelmingly chose healthful refreshing
conventional milk. Few cared, or would pay even a few cents more, when the
product in the jug was exactly the same. Only the process is different!
Ask a grocer which stays on the shelf and ends up being thrown out because
it's date expires. Most will tell you that they rarely have throw out
normal milk but the more expensive, BST-free milk does not sell as well.
Why would
it? Chemically it's exactly the same. After all, BST is natural and
present in all dairy cows, therefore in all milk, whether or not they have
received supplemental injections of BST.

Cummins, like his mentor Rifkin, probably tells you that he's got gangs in
hundreds of cities to protest the recombinant nature of BST. They do that
because that's become a job, a way to collect money, and to sell books.
Greed and power are their motivations.

Do you know that insulin is a product of recombinant-DNA technology.
Unlike milk, which only incrementally adds health and pleasure to life,
insulin saves countless human lives. Without recombinant-DNA production of
insulin, people who need insulin would have to take the old-style insulin.
That was more costly and much less pure than recombinant insulin because
it could not be manufactured. It could only be obtained from slaugthered

You show your weakness when you yield to the protest industry's
subversive, anti-corporate and anti-American pressure. Up to now, I felt
that your company's only weakness was customer service deficiency ---that
is that too often you don't have enough workers to handle the long lines
waiting for coffee or cappuccino at your stores. That should put you in a
strong position to fight a boycott. Why don't you act like a real business
and survey your customers to find out whether they really care about what
a few raging radicals think versus how many just want a costly cup of joe,
java or

Tony Minnichsoffer


Attack of the killer tomatoes

The Washington Times
By Henry Miller
March 30, 2001

Eleven senators from both parties have asked the president to create
a "biotechnology coordinator" who would ensure that policy at a veritable
alphabet soup of government agencies is consistent and sensible. But dogs
bark, cows moo and regulators regulate, and the Bush administration will
have a difficult time crafting and implementing needed regulatory reform.
A biotech coordinator would have to be part diplomat and part Lord High

Current federal regulatory policy is relentlessly negative toward
biotechnology. The FDA last year repudiated its 20-year commitment not to
discriminate against gene-spliced products, by abandoning its 8-year-old
policy on new plant varieties which applied irrespective of whether the
plant arose from gene-splicing or "conventional" genetic engineering
methods. The agency now requires that all gene-spliced foods come to the
agency for pre-market review.

Characteristically, the EPA has been the worst of all. The agency´s
oversight is flagrantly unscientific and discriminatory, focusing on the
most precise and predictable techniques of biotechnology while ignoring
genuinely hazardous products. A regulation under the Toxic Substances
Control Act that regulates products made with the most precise techniques
of the new biotechnology has halted critical research into gene-spliced
microorganisms that might be used to clean up oil spills and toxic wastes.

In addition, EPA issued a regulation rammed through in the last
hours of the Clinton administration that would require the review of the
testing of gene-spliced crop and garden plants that have been modified for
enhanced pest- or disease-resistance. These genetically improved plants,
such as corn, cotton, wheat and marigolds, would be subjected to the same
sort of lengthy, hugely expensive review as chemical pesticides. EPA´s
policy is so potentially damaging and outside scientific norms that it has
galvanized the scientific community: Eleven major scientific societies
representing more than 80,000 biologists and food professionals published
a report warning that the EPA policy would discourage the development of
new pest-resistant crops and prolong and increase the use of synthetic
chemical pesticides.

The government has been busy creating mischief internationally as
well. The "Cartagena Biosafety Protocol," finalized last year under the
auspices of the United Nations´ Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD),
established a global scheme for regulation of biotechnology products. It
embraces the bogus "precautionary principle," which holds that every new
technology should be proven absolutely safe before it can be used. This
erects an almost insurmountable barrier against new products because
nothing can be proved totally safe.

The protocol will hobble the work of academic researchers and small,
innovative companies, ultimately delaying or denying the benefits of the
"gene revolution" to much of the world. U.S. government negotiators
collaborated aggressively in crafting these unscientific and illogical
regulations, in spite of the Senate´s explicit unwillingness to ratify the
CBD itself.

Similarly, with full U.S. support and collaboration, three panels of
the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the United Nations agency concerned
with international food standards, are now working toward holding
biotech-derived food and food ingredients to standards that are
unscientific, far beyond those that any other products can or should meet,
and that will prevent all but a handful from having a fair chance to
compete in the marketplace.

The flawed Cartagena Protocol and Codex rules are worrisome for two
reasons. First, they legitimatize the flawed precautionary principle,
offering cover to incompetent, overzealous or corrupt regulators who wish
to obstruct research and development or to create trade barriers to
certain products. Second, once this United Nations-based international
oversight becomes established and regulators taste unaccustomed (and
unwarranted) power, there is little likelihood that the regulations will
be rolled back or eliminated.

Even with good intentions, the Bush administration will find it
difficult to rationalize this public policy chaos. The new secretary of
agriculture, Ann Veneman, has spoken of the importance of agbiotech, but
her praise of agbiotech "products that make farmers more productive and
consumers more healthy and satisfied" falls far short of a commitment to
bring about needed regulatory reform.

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman will find biotech issues arcane,
but will get little constructive help from her deputy, Linda Fisher, who
actually crafted many of the agency´s flawed biotech policies during the
previous Bush administration. She and the EPA career staff have defended
wrong-headed policies like a dog with a favorite bone.

The international miasma may be the most difficult problem of all.
It should be met uncompromisingly. The Bush administration´s mantra should
be that good science trumps everything else; that arbitrary, capricious,
unscientific policies will not be tolerated whether they originate in
Brussels, Washington or U.N. headquarters.

There are plenty of empirical data and scientific theory to support
regulatory policies that focus on the actual risks of products, instead of
merely on the use of certain in this case, superior techniques. What we
need now is the political will to insist on them.

Henry Miller is a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Competitive
Enterprise Institute. He is the author of "Policy Controversy in
Biotechnology: An Insider's View."

"As evidence began to come in from their investigations, a picture emerged
of deaths due to habitat destruction and a cold winter, not murder by


By Fiona Ortiz
March 30, 2001

CERRO SAN ANDRES, Mexico - Just before the annual Monarch butterfly
festival in February, Rodolfo Fuentes, the cultural director for the town
of Maravatio in Michoacan state, hiked up steep San Andres mountain
searching for hibernating butterflies to, according to this story, show
them to a group of visitors.

To his horror, high on the mountain, in a grove of trees surrounded by
signs of fresh logging and by the devastation of an earlier wildfire, the
story says he found no colony of living butterflies, only an
orange-and-black carpet of thousands upon thousands of dead butterflies 50
yards (metres) wide by 200 long.

In one of nature's most stunning migrations, tens of millions of Monarch
butterflies leave Canada every year for the warmer climate of Michoacan,
where they winter from November to late March and reproduce. The great
majority of the gorgeous Monarchs gather in huge colonies within the
protected Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacan, where tourists
gawk at trees dripping with butterflies and the air thick with the flying

A few relatively small colonies gather outside the reserve, such as on San
Andres mountain, which was not included when the reserve was expanded by
presidential decree last year to 133,400 acres (54,000 ha) from 39,540
acres (16,000 ha).

Knowing the importance of the butterflies to the community, Fuentes spread
the alarm about the apparent death of the entire colony. He and other city
officials told environmentalists they suspected that loggers sprayed
pesticides deliberately to kill the butterflies so they could cut trees
with impunity.

Environmental organization Grupo de los Cien, ardent butterfly advocates,
were cited as picking up the pesticide theory and spread the alarm through
press releases. As the story of the mass butterfly deaths spread, other
environmentalists and scientists from Mexico's environmental enforcement
agency, known as Profepa, visited the site to investigate. As evidence
began to come in from their investigations, a picture emerged of deaths
due to habitat destruction
and a cold winter, not murder by pesticide.

Although police who investigated the site after Fuentes reported smelling
pesticides, Fuentes told Reuters he had not actually smelled any chemicals
at the site. Profepa biologist Liliana Muniz was cited as saying in a
report in March that laboratory studies found no traces of pesticides on
dead butterflies from the site. She said a cold snap killed them.

Another Profepa scientist, Jesus Cerecero, who investigates wildlife
crimes, was cited as saying he was doing more research to complement hers,
and if a crime was found the agency would go after those responsible. But
after visiting the site he said it was clear "there is not the vegetation
cover they need. For a lot of reasons the optimum conditions for
butterflies do not exist."

Roberto Solis, director of the Monarch reserve, also said poor conditions
on the mountain were to blame for the deaths.

Farmers to boost plantings of gene-altered crops, USDA says

Associated Press
Philip Brasher
March 30, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) - Farmers will sharply boost their plantings of
genetically engineered crops this year, despite opposition to
biotechnology overseas and signs of unease among U.S. consumers, the
government said Friday.

About 63 percent of this year's soybean crop, or about 48 million acres,
is expected to be genetically engineered, up from 54 percent in 2000,
according to the Agriculture Department's annual survey of farmers'
planting intentions. The biotech soy is immune to a popular weedkiller.

Nearly two-thirds of the this year's cotton crop also is expected to be of
biotech varieties.
About 24 percent of the 2001 corn crop will be genetically engineered,
compared to 25 percent last year, USDA said.

The biotech industry was embarrassed last year when a gene-altered variety
of corn, known as StarLink, was found in the food supply without being
cleared for human consumption.

StarLink, one of the least used of the various biotech corn varieties, has
been withdrawn from the market. But farmers are concerned that stray seeds
from last year's StarLink crop may sprout in their fields and have been
encouraged to plant biotech soybeans on that acreage. Any wild StarLink
plants will die when the genetically modified soybeans is treated with

Although there is strong resistance to biotech food in Europe and Japan,
most U.S.-grown corn and soybeans are consumed domestically.

Yield-robbing weeds have long been a problem for soybean growers, so
development of the biotech varieties has made it much easier to grow the
crop. Sixty-four percent of the cotton that farmers will plant this
spring, or slightly under 10 million acres, is expected to be biotech,
USDA said. Biotech cotton is either resistant to insect pests or
herbicides, or both.

The USDA report also confirmed that farmers are cutting back on overall
corn acreage this year largely because of higher energy and fertilizer
prices and switching to soybeans.

Farmers are expected to grow about 76.7 million acres of both crops this
year. That would represent a decrease of 4 percent in corn plantings from
last year and a 3 percent increase for soybeans.

In Iowa, which ranks No. 1 in both corn and soybeans, farmers will plant
an estimated 11.9 million acres of corn this year, down from 12.3 million
in 2000. They are increasing their soybean acreage from 10.7 million to 11

This year's wheat acreage is estimated at 60.3 million, a 4 percent
reduction from 2000 and the lowest level since 1973. Production of
spring-planted varieties, however, is expected to increase, with acreage
of 15.5 million, up 2 percent from 2000. Most wheat is planted in the

This year's cotton acreage is estimated at 15.6 million, an increase of
less than 1 percent from 2000.