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Date:

April 25, 2001

Subject:

Plant Biology Statement; Codex Meet; Prince in Canada; Food

 

ASPB Statement on Genetic Modification of Plants Using Biotechnology
http://www.aspp.org/public_affairs/issues.htm

The American Society of Plant Physiologists/American Society of Plant
Biologists (ASPP/ASPB) (with 6,000 members) Executive Committee
approved on February 24, 2001 a statement on genetic modification of
plants using biotechnology. The Committee on Public Affairs
recommended an earlier draft version of this statement to the Executive
Committee. The approved statement notes many benefits of research using
biotechnology and calls for continued responsible regulation and oversight
of genetic modification of foods. Founded in 1924, the American Society of
Plant Physiologists (ASPP) has the new name of American Society of Plant
Biologists (ASPB) beginning in 2001. Following is the approved Statement
of ASPB on Genetic Modification of Plants Using Biotechnology:

Statement Of The American Society Of Plant Biologists On Genetic
Modification Of Plants Using Biotechnology:

Technical advances in agriculture, coupled with time-honored methods,
provide the best opportunity for world food supplies to meet the demands
of an ever-growing world population, while protecting our environment and
natural resources. The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) submits
this statement supporting the continued, responsible use of new
technologies, such as recombinant DNA technology (hereafter referred to as
"biotechnology"), which can add effective tools to those needed to combat
hunger and maintain a healthy environment. ASPB also supports the
continued use and further development of rigorous and responsible
science-based procedures to assess the risks and benefits of the
technology and its products.

The use of biotechnology to modify plants represents a significant advance
in plant science, building on centuries of human involvement in the
genetic modification of crop species. It allows for the transfer into a
plant of specific, characterized genes under known regulatory control. The
precision of this technology and the knowledge of the specific nature of
the manipulated genetic information make the effects of this type of gene
transfer more predictable than the random mixing of genes that occurs
during classical breeding.

The rapid adoption of the first generation of these crops, made tolerant
to certain pests or herbicides, underscores the benefits that can accrue
to users. Early data indicate that some farmers have realized reduced
pesticide use, increased crop yield and easier weed control, leading to
reduced soil tillage. Such advances can complement other sustainable
agricultural practices and lead to significant environmental benefits,
such as lowered soil erosion and reduced use of synthetic pesticides.

Modified crops resulting from plant biotechnology should provide major
health benefits to people throughout the world. Examples include enhancing
the vitamin and mineral content of staple foods, eliminating common food
allergens, developing higher protein quality and quantity in widely
consumed crops and modifying edible plants to contain vaccines against
many illnesses. In many cases, conventional breeding cannot achieve such
improvements. Specially selected and modified plants are also being used
in nonfood applications, such as phytoremediation, where plants remove
contaminating pollutants from soils and water resources. Modified plants
can also serve as biofactories to make compounds presently made using
nonrenewable resources, e.g., industrial oils, fuels and plastics.

Responsible use of new plant biotechnologies could contribute to a more
sustainable and environmentally compatible agriculture. Responsible
development and use of modified plants is essential to protecting the
quality of life and the environment for an ever-growing world population.

Concerns raised by some interests about this technology and its products
include food and environmental safety issues and socioeconomic and ethical
matters. To the extent that scientific data can be gathered to address
these concerns, the ASPB supports and encourages such investigations.
Regulatory agencies now mandate extensive safety testing of new
biotechnology-derived food products, testing which far exceeds that of
foods created by classical breeding. Consumer confidence is paramount to
the acceptance of the products of biotechnology. It is imperative that the
extensive federal regulatory framework presently in place be maintained
and regularly reviewed to determine whether additional scientific data are
needed to address consumer concerns.

A number of expressed environmental concerns currently raised as potential
problems with modified plants also should be considered. A number of these
concerns also must be addressed with conventionally bred plants and
traditional agricultural practices. Scientists and regulators must
continue to guard against gene transfer to compatible wild species,
development of pesticide-resistant insects and possible adverse effects on
genetic diversity. Regulators, scientists and farmers should continue to
maintain sufficient monitoring to assess the environmental effects of
large-scale growth of crops modified through biotechnology. In addition to
the oversight of modified crops by federal regulatory agencies, ASPB
encourages rigorous independent studies by third-party researchers.

No technology is risk-free, and fear and mistrust often accompany the
introduction of new processes and products. Growing crops utilizing
organic practices or high-inputs of pesticides and fertilizers have both
benefits and tangible risks. Modifying plants using traditional breeding
practices is not risk free and neither is the application of
biotechnology. The United States has adopted acceptable standards for the
safety of organic production, high-input farming, conventional breeding
and biotechnology.

To ensure the continuation of these standards of safety, ASPB strongly
endorses the continued responsible development and science-based oversight
of biotechnology and all food production technologies and practices. ASPB
is dedicated also to providing science-based information needed for the
government, the private sector, individuals, and other stakeholders to
make informed choices about the products resulting from biotechnology. The
ASPB believes strongly that, with continued responsible regulation and
oversight, biotechnology will bring many significant health and
environmental benefits to the world and its people.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Subject: Re: China Ban
From: "Andrew D. Powell"

China: A "cold winter" for GM Crop Commercialization / Full steam ahead in
R&D

Speaking at this week's meeting in Beijing on China's Challenges in Crop
Protection, Biotechnology and Food Safety, Professor Chen Zhang-Liang,
vice president of Beijing University, described the current situation for
commercialization of GM crops in China as a "cold winter."

Professor Chen, who is also Director of the National Laboratory of Protein
Engineering and Plant Genetic Engineering, went on to say that any
commercialization of GM food crops (including rice, wheat, corn and
soybean) crops is unlikely in the near future and that the lull in
commercialization may last as long as 3-5 years. The reasons cited for the
"cold winter" were the heated debates on environmental and food safety
issues of GM and plants, and the problems that China has had with exports,
e.g. the rejected soy sauce exports to Europe. Other speakers at the
conference indicated that the most likely next commercialization project
would be poplar, grown in agroforestry, and to assist in the project to
reduce soil erosion in the desert areas around Beijing. The slow down in
commercialization has not diminished the commitment to R&D in GM crops and
agbiotechnology in general, however. Research funds from government
agencies is pouring in to support public research institutions at levels
in excess of funds granted for the last 10 years combined.

From Andrew D. Powell, Ph.D.
Singapore. Email: adpowell@pacific.net.sg

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Subject: US draft position on the labeling of biotech foods
From: "Barbara Rippel"

The US Delegation to the Codex Committee on Food Labeling has posted the
US Draft positions for the upcoming meeting in Ottawa, Canada (May 1-4) on
the labeling of biotech foods and food ingredients at
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/codex/new.htm

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Filipino Double U Turn: Julian, It was a 360-degree turn, after all!

CORRECTION -- 'PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT REVERSES COURSE ON TRANSGENICS' April
23, 2001; Cropchoice news; http://www.cropchoice.com

Cropchoice must eat humble pie (no gene-modified ingredients, of course).
Our story on Friday about Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
making a 180-degree turn on transgenic foods was premature, if not wrong.
She has not herself announced any change in her stand against the sale of
transgenic foods. It is true that the Crop Protection Association of the
Philippines (CPAP) and members of the National Academy of Science and
Technology of the Philippines (NAST) want her to reconsider her position.
Macapagal-Arroyo did instruct the Agriculture, Health and Trade and
Industry departments to develop mandatory labeling policies for transgenic
foods so that consumers know what they're buying.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

BEFORE A TOUGH CROWD
April 25, 2001 Globe and Mail (From Agnet)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/gam/Editorials/20010425/EPRINCE.html

Prince Charles, according to this editorial, faces a hard sell in trying
to persuade Prairie farmers to embrace his brand of small-scale organic
farming, which he explained in an essay published in The Globe and Mail
yesterday. During his visit to Saskatchewan this week, the Prince will
undoubtedly, the editorial says, discover that most farmers are not
especially hostile to organic farming. But he will find that many believe
it still serves a small market niche, making it seem irrelevant to
large-scale grain operations geared for international export.

Unlike Britain these days, the editorial says there is not a broad
perception in Canada that agricultural methods are fatally flawed. While
Canadian grain farmers complain of an economic crisis in agriculture --
with low grain prices and high foreign income subsidies for farmers --
there is no perceived production crisis. This is partly because Canada has
not had the same disease and health scares as Britain, where emotions
about safe farming are at a pitch not remotely matched in Canada. Also,
most Canadian grain farms have seen yields and productivity grow under
current methods, leaving most farmers feeling little pressure to change
what works -- especially when change is an economic gamble. Prairie
farming is a large-scale business, requiring enormous capital outlays for
equipment. If Charles has a chance to talk to farmers, he will find them
fixedly bottom-line oriented.

This is not to say there is no interest in organic food and farming in
Canada, or that the Prince's ideas about farming have no merit. We simply
wonder whether Prairie grain growers are a natural audience for his
agricultural message.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Food Fight; PBS Tackles Issue of Modified Crops
Megan Rosenfeld, The Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com

Genetically modified food is the perfect issue for our self-involved,
rightfully paranoid age. And we might as well acknowledge now that there
is no right response to it -- we can't put the technological genie back in
the bottle, as some would have us do, but we can't let all the genies run
around loose, either. It is, as a two-hour "Frontline"/"Nova" special
airing tonight at 9 on Channel 26 says, "a moral quagmire."

Producer, writer and director Jon Palfreman has clearly put a lot of
effort into this primer on the controversy about creating new foods
"improved" with genetic additions. (The strawberry injected with a fish
gene to prevent frost damage is one of the most famous.) The science is
made simple -- but not quite simple enough -- for the layman, and the
discussion is reasonably balanced. I came away believing that Monsanto was
not necessarily an evil empire, that the eco-terrorists who set fires and
destroy crops are not helping anyone, and that I would eat the Vitamin
A-enriched "gold rice" but not the fast-growing cultivated Atlantic salmon.

The program is constructed a little clumsily, with the most compelling
moral dilemmas coming in the second half. An ongoing story about papayas
in Hawaii is threaded throughout, an attempt at a unifying story line that
is visited too sporadically to work as such. Palfreman's attempt to remain
balanced seems to have made him more methodical -- i.e., plodding, a
problem that is easier to avoid if you are pushing a particular viewpoint.

In one of the more interesting vignettes, Florence Wambugu, an agronomist
from Kenya, describes how all farming there is "organic" and has produced
low yields and hungry people. She spent three years at Monsanto in the
United States developing a genetically modified sweet potato to help the
farmers in her country, where the crop has been nearly destroyed by a
virus. The engineered sweet potato is virus-resistant, requires no
pesticides and holds the promise of feeding some of the 800 million
chronically undernourished people in the world. Wambugu is scornful of the
environmental "hooligans," whom she sees as trying to tear down many years
of work on behalf of romantic notions and bad science. "They don't have a
clue," she says. "They get food in the supermarket."

The Greenpeace-promoted idea that the solution to Third World malnutrition
is to simply provide food from elsewhere ignores the cultural significance
of pride in the ability to feed your family, she says. The view of the
Earth Liberation Front, which claimed responsibility for a fire at
Michigan State University that destroyed the offices and laboratories
where the Kenyan sweet potato was developed, is that Monsanto is trying to
get rich by coercing developing countries to abandon traditional farming
methods. It doesn't sound that simple.

On the other hand, the prospect of those engineered salmon is unnerving.
They are bred in ponds and have been fixed somehow to grow from eggs to
maturity more quickly than regular fish. But according to calculations
made by Charles Arntzen of Cornell University, the fish mate more often
but no eggs survive, meaning if even one got out of its pond and started
swimming with the real salmon, there would eventually be no fish at all.
"It's a potential catastrophe," he says. The math doesn't work for me, but
it sure sounds scary. And to a public that remembers asbestos, tobacco and
Chernobyl, assurances from Elliot Entis of Aqua Bounty Farms that this
scenario could never happen are hardly reassuring.

And this, of course, is one of the underlying problems in the debate.
Nobody trusts official guarantees of safety anymore. StarLink corn, which
is injected with a pesticide, was supposed to be used only for animal
feed. But somehow -- economic pressures, sloppy management -- it ended up
in Taco Bell's tacos. Nobody knows whether it harmed anyone, but it cost
the product's manufacturer $1 billion to deal with the problem, and traces
of the corn were still found all over the world. Although numerous
products contain genetically modified corn, manufacturers are not required
to label them as such. Thus, points out Jane Rissler of the Union of
Concerned Scientists, if anyone did have an allergic reaction, no one
would connect the problem to the product. Although surveys show that
Americans would feel far more friendly toward genetically engineered food
if they could choose when they eat it, the Grocery Manufacturers'
Association is fighting labeling proposals.

We should appreciate the doomsayers like Jeremy Rifkin, author of "The
Biotech Century" and a longtime opponent of the new miracle foods, who
says the unknown effects could be irreversible. People like him have at
least slowed down the process, and that seems like a good idea.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Comments on Tracing Tort Liability

From: prakash@tusk.edu

Dear Attorney Redick: I commend you for enlightening us with the legal
implications of pursuing the non-biotech path of plant improvement when
the biotech avenue was clearly a better and safer choice. I wish we
scientists could express the ideas so well as you in the legal profession
can do! I clearly agree with your point on the DNA signature of the
introduced gene. However, the ease of traceability of introduced genes
also brings much problem to biotech crops.

Take the case of Starlink corn mix up that has cost Aventis close to a
billion dollars and has done untold damage to the agricultural
biotechnology, and keeps itself dragging into news media every day. One
kernel of this corn in a huge grain elevator is enough to 'contaminate'
tons of processed food products and can be detected months after the
product is on shelves. A small mix up of corn varieties is a normal
occurrence through pollen drift and co-mingling, and has never been an
alarming issue (So is the regular mix up of nuts with 'real' allergen
proteins in snacks). However, if the 'culprit' is a variety developed
through biotech, then just because we can detect it, it spawns much
anxiety and furor without taking into account the actual possibility of
hazard even if all the evidence so far points to lack of any hazard.

This issue transcends the issue about organic farmers worrying about
traces of biotech content in their products because of the self imposed
zero tolerance or threshold when the product safety is not in question. If
I were growing a biotech corn, hypothetically I could worry about
'contamination' from my neighbor's non-biotech organic corn too and surely
this would occur at the same rate. But he is able to detect the presence
of my corn in his product and then may even sue me while I cannot do the
same to him.

We must develop benchmark data on how much of this gene flow and
co-mingling occurs naturally, and then ask the question if this is
heightened because of biotechnology-developed crops. Just because the
variety of corn has been developed by biotech does not make its gene flow
faster but surely makes its detection easier thus inviting much headache
and the legal quagmire.

Yours,

Prakash

--
>Tracing Tort Liability for Allergy in the 21st Century
>by Thomas P. Redick, Esq. ( From: ThomasRedick@netscape.net)
>The tort liability landscape in the age of genetic engineering is
>changing in many ways, if I may expand upon the commments of Kershen......

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

A Dissenting Opinion
25-Apr-2001 Delta Farm Press

Proponents and opponents of biotechnology may have more in common than
meets the eye, according to Owusu Bandele, an organic farmer and a
professor at the College of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences, at
Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. Both groups, he says, tend to
share ideas only with those who believe as they do, and often fail to
appreciate other points of view.

Bandele, who spoke recently at the joint meeting of the Louisiana Plant
Protection Association and the Louisiana Association of Agronomists,
admits that his cynical view of genetic engineering is different from most
people in the agricultural industry. However, he says, "That doesn't mean
we can't use the opportunity to learn from each other."

It has been his experience, he says, that there are often obstacles
involving open dialogue between the two opposing viewpoints when it comes
to genetic engineering, and biotechnology in general. "Many of us,
including myself, often find ourselves in the company of those who share
our own ideas and we are, in essence, preaching to the choir," Bandele
says. "Sometimes, we're so caught up in our own point of view that we
fail to recognize even any truth in some of the criticisms that are
stated," he says. "There are different ways of looking at the same
information, and this lack of appreciation is even worse when there is
name-calling involved. A lot of times when scientists who are pro-genetic
engineering discuss the opposition, so to speak, they refer to them using
terms like `radical environmentalists,' regardless of the nature of their
criticism. This name-calling cuts off any type of real discussion."

Communication between those on both sides of the issue is imperative,
Bandele says, because as the adoption of biotech crops increases, so to do
the concerns by those who question the safety of the science behind the
technology. Biotechnology, in its broadest sense, is the application of
biological sciences for uses by people. However, many of those people
voicing their opinions both for and against biotechnology equate it with
genetic engineering.

"Is genetic engineering an extension of traditional breeding? Most
proponents will tell you that it is. However, many critics think that
genetic engineering is really in direct opposition to traditional breeding
in that it enables crosses to be made that would never occur in nature,"
he says. In spite of his concerns, Bandele is cognizant of the reported
benefits of genetic engineered crops. These benefits, he says, include an
increased tolerance to unfavorable climactic conditions and insects, an
increased plant nutrient status, increased production efficiency, and the
potential health benefits to humans through the use of animals as sources
of drugs or organs.

On the other side of the coin, those opposing the use of biotechnology
fear, among other things, the possibility of creating altered life forms,
the inadvertent production of new allergens or toxins, and the ability to
transfer genetic traits without affecting other characteristic traits.
Opponents of biotechnology are also concerned about antibody-resistant
marker genes leading to antibody resistance, the possibility that the use
of genetic engineering could reduce animal and plant diversity because of
similarities in genetic makeup, and the further monopolization of global
food supplies due to the worldwide use of transgenic crops.

More specifically, those vocal in their opposition to glyphosate-tolerant
crop varieties believe the technology will result in an increased use of
herbicides, the production of `super weeds,' cross-contamination of
conventional crops, and increased pesticide residues.

Similarly, opponents of Bt crops believe the opportunity is there to harm
non-target organisms and insects and develop resistance to Bt with
transgenic crops. Ironically, many organic farmers use Bt formulations for
insect control. "Any new technology is likely to produce both proponents
and critics," Bandele says. "It's not always a cut-and-dry situation, and
the scientific basis for safety decisions are not always as extensive as
are needed.

Questioning whether the "good science" yet exists for genetic engineering,
he says, "There are scientists who believe that unfortunately right now we
lack the necessary data to predict the consequences of widespread planting
of transgenic crops, largely because the technology itself is so new. In
addition, the people who deal with the safety of these crops are often
also the people who manufacture them, so there is a possible conflict of
interest problem there."

In the final analysis, the public should determine the fate of genetic
engineering in agriculture, Bandele says. "These decisions should be based
on the gathering and assessing of pertinent information. That's not to say
that even the majority of transgenic crops are unsafe, but the public
should decide. And, market demands for non-genetically modified products
should be respected, regardless of the reasons for that demand, and
regardless of whether or not it's founded in science.

"There may be some unscientific reasons why people prefer one type of crop
to another," he says. "There's no scientific reasoning for the fact that
some people prefer a Toyota over a Ford for example, but we respect their
right to choose. Shouldn't we take advantage of those niches in
agriculture as well?"
*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Nobody knows what the long-term effects of GM will be

(South Africa, The Natal Witness, 24 April 2001)
http://www.witness.co.za/feat_sherriffs20010423.htm

IT'S not hard to understand why a group of Italian activists (if they were
responsible) decided to burn down a storage place suspected of harbouring
genetically modified (GM) seeds recently. When your opponent - in this
case, the biotechnology industry - seems to have unlimited money and
limited scruples and to be winning the battle overwhelmingly, then
guerrilla warfare is one of few options left open to you. What's perhaps
harder to understand is why so little anti-GM guerrilla warfare is going
on, considering that the difference in outlook between the extreme pro and
anti movements is as fundamental as that of any political revolution.

I once interviewed an anti-GM environmental lawyer who had just come out
of a meeting with a group of pro-GM salesmen and scientists. She said she
hadn't felt so utterly estranged from other South Africans since the bad
old days of the security police. The mental distance between them was so
great they might as well have thought she was a kommunis. In fact, they
probably did.

What is this difference, this underlying philosophical divide that can
create such strength of feeling about a bunch of seeds among so many
people, half of whom have probably not set foot on a farm in decades, if
ever? It's much deeper than whether you believe GM foods will cause
disease or not. It's a way of seeing the planet and people's place on it.

On the "instrumentalist" end of the spectrum are people who think that all
of nature is here for humans' benefit. Humans have the right, the
intelligence and the ability to use and abuse nature as we see fit, and
those parts of nature that don't profit us are worthless and can be
destroyed. On the other end of the spectrum are people who think that all
nature has intrinsic value, regardless of whether it obviously benefits us
or not; that humans do not have the right or the wisdom to interfere with
nature more than is necessary for survival and that we should proceed with
caution, humility and constraint before we destroy the web of life further
than we already have.

The biotechnology industry is clearly on the instrumentalist end of
things. Ironically, though they often portray their opponents as
reactionary and old-fashioned, it could be the approach of the GM industry
itself that is the more outdated. Author Jeremy Rifkin describes genetic
modification as "primitive 19th century applied science going under the
rubric of the frontier. You take this little corn and arm him with genetic
weapons and you send him out there to fend off the environment. In physics
and chemistry they're way beyond that, at least theoretically. They're
talking dissipative theory, complexity theory, intermathematics. The
molecular biologists are back in the 19th century as engineers". On the
"intrinsic value" end of the spectrum, many people in the anti-GM movement
(which is as much a shared instinctive discomfort as an organised
political group) believe that there's no such thing as a free lunch in
nature and that technological "solutions", like genetic modification, tend
to cause more problems than they solve.

Benefits from one part of the system eventually turn up as costs somewhere
else. Cut down a forest and the soil erodes into a faraway lake, murking
the water and stopping fish from recognising each other enough to breed.
Dam a major river and (apart from the more obvious effects like siltation
and disruption of the river's ecosystem) you change the nature of a small
ocean, which affects the temperature of ocean currents, which might cause
glaciation on another continent.

Nobody knows what the long-term effects will be of releasing genetically
modified organisms into the environment. (Least of all the biotechnology
industry. They claim that the ecological impacts are neglible or
controllable but the U.S. insurance industry refuses to insure against
potential ecological damage, saying there is no way to predict or measure
it. Also, the small print in contracts which sell GM seeds to farmers says
that the farmers themselves are legally responsible for any environmental
damage that might occur, not the suppliers of the seeds.)

Only a fool, wrote Aldo Leopold, father of the fledgling science of
ecology, more than 50 years ago, would discard seemingly useless parts of
the biotic pyramid. Genetic engineering discards all sorts of parts. In
agriculture, it accelerates the loss of wild crop varieties and species
through the promotion of monocultural farming methods. It also discards
genes or bits of genes whose functions it does not understand or value.
(These are sometimes referred to as "junk DNA".) From a holistic
perspective, even getting rid of something as seemingly unwelcome as the
gene for sickle cell anaemia is potentially problematic. Research suggests
that while it makes people susceptible to sickle cell anaemia, the gene
might also make them resistant to malaria.

Why, when the risks of GM are high and poorly understood, is it so rapidly
colonising the world? Partly because it can do some very clever things (in
the short term, anyway; we don't know how clever it will turn out to be).
Partly because there's enormous money to be made from it. But also because
it fits into the "reductionist" scientific paradigm that has been dominant
in the west for centuries and which we hardly ever question.

In this way of thinking, the smaller and more basic the part you are
looking at, the closer to reality you are. The bigger the microscope, the
better the science. Though this paradigm has been spectacularly successful
in some ways, many people are beginning to realise that nothing happens in
isolation, that there's a bigger picture out there which we have hardly
begun to understand, although we have already done it a lot of damage.

By the time the changing paradigm makes its way through schools and
universities and industries - if it does - it will be too late for many of
the species and ecosystems that have lost out in the GM age. Many
ecologists believe it could be too late for us as well. Through
short-sighted tinkering, including GM, we might have upset the balance of
the planet so much that it is no longer comfortable for us, and there will
be no way to reclose Pandora's Box. Maybe in their own way, those Italian
activists were trying to keep the lid down a bit longer.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Southern Agbiotech Consortium for Underserved Communities (SACUC)
http://www.SACUC.org/

The Southern Agbiotech Consortium for Underserved Communities (SACUC) is a
four-year (2000-2004) joint effort of eleven 1890 institutions, industrial
partners governmental agencies, and farm organizations to promote
agbiotech outreach to farmers and consumers and strengthen K-Life science
education. The consortium will lower disparities in dispersal of
science-based information and aid in rural sustainability. Over 40
counties and schools in ten states have been identified as the primary
outreach areas, based on income levels and rural isolation.

The objectives of SACUC are: (1) Educational Outreach will focus on
primarily K-12 activities, paramount among them is teacher/student
training using the Biotechnology Kit Loan Program; (2) Commodity Outreach
outlines efforts that include crop identification, critical analysis,
demonstration plot establishment and, later, on-farm demonstrations of
agbiotech crops and agbiotech pest management approaches; (3) Community
Outreach is achieved by organization of field days coupled with small
farmer and professional worker training and; (4) Socioeconomic Studies
will assess the educational effectiveness as well as public perception,
acceptance and adoption of biotechnology by underserved consumers,
producers and agribusiness groups. Evaluation of results is integral to
each task and a tested management plan is adopted to insure success and
continuation of activities beyond this submission. The expected benefits
include utilization of promising (bio)technology in rural development,
small farm sustainability and in enhancement of formal and public science
education. This program is supported by a grant from the USDA/CSREES/IFAFS
program.