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Nobel winner reflects on work in food research
- Alvin Benn; Montgomery Advertiser April 26, 2001
Science-based agriculture is essential to fighting world hunger and should
not be considered a frightening concept, Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman
Borlaug said Wednesday while in Tuskegee.
The 87-year-old scientist, who has been called the father of the "Green
Revolution" because of his work in food genetics, said research into grain
production is nothing new. He said it dates back to the 1940s "and
before." "India and Pakistan are becoming self-sufficient," Borlaug told
students and faculty at Tuskegee University. "I consider it a privilege to
be have been involved in guiding this program."
Borlaug, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work in
agriculture, spoke at a luncheon following a roundtable discussion with TU
students, many of whom were in awe of someone with his scientific
credentials. "It's a great honor to have someone like him here," said
Audrey Means of Mobile, who attended the luncheon. "It adds to the
prestige of our school."
Walter Hill, who directs the university's college of agricultural,
environmental and natural sciences, said descriptive words such as
biotechnology and cloning can create fear and confusion among those
unfamiliar with the subject. "One of our biggest problems is terminology,"
Hill said. "There has been research into food production for hundreds of
years. We're just learning now how to do it in a better way."
Hill said medical research is accepted because of lives that are saved as
a result of advances in equipment. He said the same benefits can be
derived from agriculture if research is conducted "carefully and "We have
a problem of obesity in America, but there is hunger in Africa and Asia,"
Hill said. "Agricultural research is vital to survival and is just what we
do here at Tuskegee University."
Borlaug, who described himself a product of a "one-room country school" in
Iowa, joined the Rockefeller Foundation in 1944 and was assigned to help
Mexico improve its wheat and maize production. He soon led a team of
international scientists who began work on improving the yield of wheat
and rice. The team also trained technicians from around the world. The
result was a strain of wheat characterized by higher protein content and
higher yield. Much of his speech involved technical reflections and, when
he saw some in his audience begin to look around the room or down at their
plates, he offered a solution. "Go ahead with your salad and I'll ramble
on," he said.
Benefits of Biotech Crops Abound
- Martina McGloughlin Omaha World Herald; April 26, 2001
As one who considers myself an environmentalist, I have been dismayed that
many environmental groups, unlike scientific societies worldwide, continue
to withhold support for biotechnology.
Crops improved to ward off insects have demonstrated that they can
increase yields and greatly reduce the amount of chemical pesticides that
farmers need to grow the food and fiber the expanding global population
demands. For example, more than 2 million pounds of cotton insecticides
have been eliminated since the introduction of biotech cotton.
This is a significant benefit for the environment, because chemical
insecticides can be harmful to more than crop pests - they also wipeout
beneficial insects, which provide food for birds and other wildlife
species. The ability to reduce chemical use on farm fields also means
fewer chemicals can potentially wash off into streams and drinking water.
Despite these proven benefits, some groups were ready to ban biotechnology
when Monarch butterfly caterpillars, forced in a laboratory to eat high
doses of biotech corn pollen, were harmed. However, two years of actual
field research at several universities has shown, in the words of the
Environmental Protection Agency, "a low probability for adverse effects."
With the butterfly issue essentially resolved, opponents of biotechnology
resorted to their old bugaboo, saying that biotech crops might turn into
uncontrollable "superweeds." Now, a newly published study conducted over a
10-year period by researchers at Imperial College in London has shown that
biotech crops survive no better in the wild than their conventional
counterparts. We cosset our crops like babies. They fare very poorly when
they must compete outside our carefully nurtured fields. Adding a gene for
insect resistance or herbicide resistance does not make the plants anymore
The study did not examine whether crops can transfer genes to wild plants,
but the researchers called that a non-issue. Even if genes were
transferred, they said, there is no evidence the hybrids would fare any
better than the parents.
It is also important to understand that for any gene to spread, there must
be successful hybrid formation between a sexually compatible crop plant
and a recipient wild species. The two species must flower at the same
time, share the same insect pollinator (if insect-pollinated) and be close
enough to one another spatially to allow for the transfer of viable
pollen. The EPA, responding to environmentalists' concerns about
insect-resistant corn,cotton and potatoes, stated: "There is no
significant risk of gene capture and expression ... by wild or weedy
relatives of corn, cotton or potato ....Most of the wild species in the
United States cannot be pollinated by these crops." In the few instances
where wild relatives do exist, such as wild relatives of cotton in Hawaii
and southern Florida, the planting of insect-resistant cotton is
Other crops, including soybeans and canola, have been improved to tolerate
a herbicide. This allows farmers, in many cases, to use one herbicide
instead of two or more to control both grassy and broadleaf weeds.
Herbicide-tolerant soybeans have resulted in a net reduction of 16 million
acre-treatments of herbicides, according to a study last year. Soybeans,
like corn, cotton and potatoes, have no sexually compatible wild relatives
in regions where soybeans are grown, so out-crossing, again, is not an
With canola, an oilseed crop grown in the northern states and Canada,
there are some wild species capable of receiving pollen. When sexually
compatible species are present, the question is not whether gene flow will
occur but rather under what conditions could it pose a serious problem.
The "superweed" risk concept regarding herbicide-tolerant crops is grossly
exaggerated. If and when a wild relative should develop resistance to one
particular herbicide, there are many other herbicides that could be used
to control the wild plants, should anyone see reason to do so. As the new
study has shown, imparting herbicide resistance to a plant would not give
that plant an ecological edge over other plants in the environment. Giving
a farmer a herbicide-resistant crop, however, gives him tremendous
advantages over weeds that can threaten his crop and livelihood.
Two governmental agencies - the EPA and the Department of Agriculture -
require many studies to determine if adding a new gene is likely to alter
the plant's ability to compete. Biotech crops have been studied for nearly
25 years with more than 25,000 field trials. Biotech crops are now planted
on nearly 110 million acres in 13 countries, covering a land area equal to
three Iowas. None of the imagined adverse effects have been seen, but many
benefits - both economic and environmental - are being realized. Everyone
except some extreme environmental activists seems to realize that.
- The writer is director of the Biotechnology Program at the University of
California-Davis and serves on several international biotechnology panels.
No Difference Found in Animals Fed GMO Corn and Soybeans
- News Release, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Jimmy Clark
URBANA : Currently, in the United States genetically modified corn and
soybeans that have reached the marketplace are approved for use in animal
feed. But what does that genetically modified corn and soybeans do to the
animals who eat it? According to recent research nothing significant.
Jimmy Clark, a professor of ruminant nutrition in Animal Sciences at the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, reviewed the results from 23
research experiments which were conducted over the past four years at
universities throughout the United States, Germany and France. In each
study, separate groups of chickens, dairy cows, beef cattle and sheep were
fed either genetically modified corn or soybeans or traditional corn or
soybean as a portion of their diet.
Each experiment independently confirmed that there is no significant
difference in the animals' ability to digest the genetically modified
crops and no significant difference in the weight gain, milk production,
milk composition, and overall health of the animals when compared to
animals fed the traditional crops. Clark concluded, "Based on safety
analyses required for each crop, human consumption of milk, meat and eggs
produced from animals fed genetically modified crops should be as safe as
products derived from animals fed conventional crops." Clark added that
approximately 70% of the genetically modified soybeans produced in the
world and 80% of the genetically modified corn produced in the United
States are used as animal feed. "Since these genetically modified crops
were grown beginning in 1996, they have been fed to livestock and no
detrimental effects have been reported," Clark said.
In the experiments that Clark reviewed, the corn used was genetically
modified with a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a soil bacterium
that produces protein that kills the European corn borer, a common and
very destructive pest in corn fields. Corn borers reduce the quality and
yield of corn and damage the plant tissue which results in an increased
opportunity for fungal growth. The fungi can produce a dangerous toxin
that can kill horses and pigs and cause esophageal cancer in humans. So,
eliminating the corn borer from corn, reduces the chance for growth of the
fungi from the corn plant, improving the safety of corn for animals and
humans. The soybeans used in the studies were produced by inserting a gene
that causes the plant to be tolerant to the environmentally friendly
herbicide glyphosate. This tolerance to glyphosate allows farmers to spray
and kill weeds without killing the soybeans.
In other studies the nutritional value of genetically modified corn and
soybeans was compared to that of traditional crops. These studies showed
no significant difference in the nutritional composition of the grains
themselves. Along with many other scientists working with biotechnology,
Clark believes that biotech crops hold the answer to how the growing
population of the world will continue to be fed. "It has been estimated
that the supply of food required to adequately meet human nutritional
needs over the next 40 years," Clark said, "is quantitatively equal to the
amount of food previously produced throughout the entire history of
humankind." With the current world population at about six billion, and
the estimated 10 billion people expected by the year 2040, Clark believes
that modern methods of biotechnology must be used to produce enough feed
for livestock and food for humans.
- Debra Larson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; 217-244-2880
Kudos to Alan McHughen, Author of 'Pandora's Picnic Basket'!
Toronto, April 23, 2001, Canada Book Day : The Canadian Science Writers'
Association/ Asscoiation canadienne des rédacteurs scientifiques has
announced the winners for books entered in the national 2000 Science in
Society Book Awards competition in two categories: 1) General Audience
(Adult), and 2) Children's Books.
* 2000 General Audience Winner: Alan McHughen, Pandora's Picnic Basket:
The Potential and Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods, Oxford University
* 2000 Children's Books Winner: Valerie Wyatt, FAQ Weather, Kids Can Press.
The winner in each category will receive a $1000 cash prize at a gala
awards banquet Saturday evening, June 2, 2001, at the Hotel Gouverneur
Place Dupuis in downtown Montreal. For more information contact: Andy F.
Visser-deVries ; Canadian Science Writers' Association ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Forum: Products In the Pipeline: Future Applications of
- Presented by The Gene Media Forum and The Pew Initiative on Food and
Even as the debate about genetically modified foods continues, scientists
are applying gene modification technology to other agricultural products.
Panelists with a wide range of views will discuss the products in the
pipeline and outline the issues that need to be addressed as we prepare
for the next round of genetically modified organisms.
Wednesday, May 23, 2001 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. The Graduate Center/City
University of New York Elebash Recital Hall 365 Fifth Avenue at 34th
Street New York, New York. Please contact Akiko Takano at (212) 826-0261
or email@example.com to reserve a seat in advance. http://www.genemedia.org
--- 'About the Gene Media Forum' - Promoting Public Dialogue of Genome
Research and Its Impact on Science and Society
What We Are: The genetic revolution is upon us. It is creating vast new
possibilities for us to both understand and influence the essence of life
on Earth, from increasing crop production to curing terrible diseases. At
the same time, it has created public controversy over possible
environmental impacts, food safety, privacy issues, and fears that genetic
manipulation could lead to eugenics. MIT's Eric Lander said at a Forum
event recently, "...the science does move very much faster than the
society in catching up with it...that's where we come back to the need for
this communication...Over the course of a century, this is going to have a
transforming effect on society."
Most people rely on the media for their information once they are finished
with formal education. Television is particularly important, although all
media play a role in shaping the debate. As a non-profit, non-partisan
organization, we provide media access to both public discussions and
individual experts - and always with a diversity of views - to help ensure
the fullest coverage of the social and political issues, as well as the
science, of the genetic revolution. Our program encourages interaction
between journalists and leading scientists, ethicists, economists and
What We Do: Our program encourages interaction among scientists, ethicists
and similar professionals and journalists. GMF does this in a variety of
* Discussion sessions where journalists and genetics professionals can
talk with one another about all aspects of the genetic revolution. Session
topics have included genetic screening and privacy, the promises and
perils of plant biotechnology and DNA and justice. * An expert referral
service, where journalists can access by phone and/or on-line leading
experts in all aspects of the genetic revolution. * A digitized image
library, providing television journalists with images that can be
downloaded and incorporated into their news stories. * An interactive web
page, where journalists and the public can access basic information, ask
questions and be referred to the best sources of genetic information. *
Workshops, seminars and story sessions for journalists, to help them
develop strategies and ideas for reporting the genetic revolution. Many of
these will be held in conjunction with professional news associations.
Norman Borlaug's Lifelong Learning Company http://www.nbulearn.com/
Johnston, Iowa-Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug announced today
(September 20, 2000) the launch of Norman Borlaug University (NBU), an
Internet-based lifelong learning company for agriculture and the food
"If we are to have a well-fed world in which future generations can live
in peace and prosperity, we must use science and technology to ensure that
knowledge translates to plentiful and nutritious food," Borlaug said. "The
Internet is a powerful tool for delivering knowledge across the food
system, regardless of time or place, and we must put it to work."
Borlaug predicted that in the next five years, e-learning will begin to
break down the barriers to learning that have prevented many stakeholders
in the food system from increased productivity. "Whether you are a farmer
trying to make a living on a few acres in a developing country, a manager
at a food company, a teacher, or a consumer leader, you will be able to
have access to science-based knowledge through NBU without leaving your
home or business," he said. "When I look back over my career fighting
global hunger, I can only guess how much more progress we would have made
had the power of the Internet been available to us early on."
NBU's first program offerings will be available January 2001. A list of
the courses, along with enrollment information, will be available in
October at the company's online campus at www.nbulearn.com. The new
e-learning company was made possible through initial funding from DuPont
Crop Protection. NBU anticipates additional funding from other stakeholder
companies in the food system.
"We see great potential for Internet-enabled learning throughout the food
system," says William F. Kirk, DuPont Group Vice President, head of the
company's agriculture and nutrition businesses. According to Kirk, NBU
represents a critical step forward in achieving "new levels of efficiency,
productivity, and accountability, from the farm gate to the dinner plate."
Kirk sees the formation of NBU as part of a natural progression of Dr.
Borlaug's achievements. "We are proud that Norman Borlaug went on from his
years at DuPont to sow the seeds of the Green Revolution. It is fitting
that the world's first e-learning company for agriculture and the food
system bear his name."
Norman Borlaug University's program offerings are based on collaboration
with the leading brick-and-mortar institutions of higher learning, as well
as leading-edge thought leaders in the food, business and agriculture
communities. "NBU does not seek accreditation or to otherwise compete with
the Land Grant universities and other providers of education," said Earl
Ainsworth, CEO of the new company. "Instead, NBU's core competency lies in
making courses Internet-ready to extend the reach of current educational
institutions, as well making leading-edge information available in the
form of online seminars and problem-solving exercises."
NBU will work closely with the American Distance Education Consortium
(ADEC) in accessing content for its e-learning products. ADEC's membership
includes 60 land grant universities in the U.S. NBU will also contract
with industry thought-leaders to create seminars and just-in-time problem
solving to meet the food system's needs.
Norman Borlaug University is dedicated to providing lifelong learning for
the agriculture and food system. Its purpose is to become a global leader
in providing, through the Internet, knowledge in the form of courses,
learning modules, seminars and other information to businesses and
individuals involved in food production, processing, distribution and
consumption. NBU will eliminate the constraints of time and place that
have, until now, limited access to knowledge. NBU is a for-profit
NBU's namesake and co-founder, Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, is
internationally credited with beginning the Green Revolution, and with
breaking down barriers that prevent access to knowledge and productivity
in the food system. The philosophical model for NBU stems from Dr.
Borlaug's distinguished reputation and career.
Public Response and Debate on PBS: 'Harvest of Fear'
Visit http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/harvest/talk/ to see a raging debate and
diverse viewpoints on this PBS Documentary. A few of them appear below:
Dear FRONTLINE: As a race, human beings are so ridiculously arrogant and
incredibly lazy . Instead of correcting the cause of these problems at the
source, ie. not planting thousands of acres in monocultures and giving
back to the earth what we take, we decide to treat nature with a dangerous
amount of disrespect . There is so much we don't know. Is it worth risking
our future on this planet for cheap cereal? I don't think we have the
choice anymore. - Nancy LaRowe, norwich, vermont
There is a lot of criticism about uneven reporting, missed topic matter,
the evils of Monsanto, the failure of the USDA/FDA/EPA, and how Frontline
misreported the whole problem. All of this criticism is ridiculous and
simply biased whining by people withe huge chips on their shoulders about
the government, big business, or other random, phantom evil. I thought I'd
put in my two cents as I feel that I am at least somewhat even handed.
1.) The complaints about the "evils" of Monsanto, Adventis, and other
firms and their pursuance of the dollar using GMOs are ridiculous. We live
in a capitalist society, companies create to make money, plain and simple.
The techniques of streilizing their GMOs to force repeat customers,
although bad for the consumer, is good for the companies who spend the
money and time to MAKE the product. It is how our R&D based how our
economy works. Monsanto is not developing things out of the kindness of
their heart, they to it for profit. Except it, if you don't like the
capiticalist foundation, China is still a communist society, feel free to
2.) GMOs are not evil. Taking advantage of technology to improve products
(whether that be to sell more or to irridicate combatants) is how we have
improved our society for years. More resilient fruit is an improvement. TV
is a form of genetically alter communication. Don't watch PBS if you think
its too biased. Don't type on your computer if you are too concerned about
the long term effects of technological improvement.
3.) Labeling of GMOs on food products is the one thing that I think is a
legitimate complaint. Labels probably should be on products that contain
GMOs. The Monsanto COO mentioned that labeling products would be like
putting a poison sign on products. I disagree and in fact think that one
of two things would occur both would not harm any big business. #1 -
people would notice that almost everything has GMOs in them so the shock
effect would be completely dilluted by the comonal existience of the
label. More importantly though #2, General Mills, Kellogs, Kraft, etc.
could actually use the labelling to their advantage. Think about the idea,
Frosted Flakes with GMOs costs $3.99, Frosted Flakes without costs $39.95.
The choice could be used to stick it to the complainers.
GMOs improve overall life of the world. Being that one time I was very
poor, when the only thing you have to eat for 3 days is a loaf of bread,
the last thing you care about is whether that bread had GMOs or not!
Perspective from most of the people who posted to this site would be a
breath of fresh air. - Earl McAlear, scottsdale, az
The main interest of the biotech industry is short term profit. The
massive experiment they are conducting now will have lasting and
irreversable consequences on the enviorment and our health. They are
unwittingly leading us down a biotechnology treadmill that will be very
difficult to get off and these experiments may so distort our natural
world that in short order it will no longer be recognizable. The world
they are bringing us is one in which all life is a commodity to be owned,
bought and sold to the highest bidder. I for one would like to see a
different world. - Peter Hines ogden, ut
I doubt any of us, including the scientists at Monsanto, have enough data
to predict accurately where this technology will lead. However, I noticed
an uncanny resemblance to the plot of Jurassic Park. . . .Another point:
one of the Monsanto scientists stated, "we must use this technology,
because in less than 20 years there will be 9 billion people on the earth
to feed." Does this send a little chill down anyone's spine but mine? -
Laura Weisberg denison, texas
I have been trained as a naturopathic physician and as a result have the
philosophy that we are not separate from nature. In fact, it can be said,
that the further we move from nature , the more sick and out of balance we
will become as individuals. Clearly, crossing specie lines with GMO falls
into the category of "moving away from nature". - Deborah Turvey panama
I think it is wrong that these large corporations do not want to tell us
which food has been modified. This makes me question the ethics and
motives of these corporations, and for many reasons, I do not want to
support them. The program has shown that these companies are trying to
control not only what we see, believe, wear, think, etc. but also what we
put into our bodies. Before we even consider the risk and benefits of
biotech food, we should first look at who is behind it and the amount of
power that these companies have. -Alissa Singletary tampa, florida
I work in a food-related job, dealing with many of the fruit and vegetable
companies that will be bringing GMO varieties to market. I wouldn't
hesitate to feed these foods to my 5 children. There is little difference
in the way these products come about and conventional breeding - just a
lot faster and more efficient. We need to stop technophobes from
shackeling the rest of us.
Organic Farming? Sure, I know the largest organic growers. They do it for
the money. It's a marketing gimic for those who will pay more money for
crops without pesticides. That's choice, but I feel sorry for those who
are scared into paying more.
Buy your food with confidence. The backyard grown stuff is what you should
be afraid of. - Keith Christensen modesto, ca
I believe you may have represented the activists in a reasonable manner,
but you failed to include views from more credible opponents of
biotechnology. For example, many scholars in the social sciences devote
entire careers to the economical, sociological and philosophical aspects
of this controversy without burning buildings or participating in
theatrical performances. By including these views, you could have offered
a story that was balanced in a credible manner. - Katherine Canada
I was quite disturbed by the lack of impartiality “Harvest of Fear”
displayed. As I watched more of the episode it became increasingly clear,
through the continual use of such terms as "genetically modified
organisms" and even through the programs title, this program was designed
with the single purpose to scare and enflame the public against
In addition I felt it highly unprofessional that the editors of the
program attempted to tie unrelated tragedies such Mad Cow disease to that
of genetically engineered foods. I am eager to hear a discussion on the
negative effects of biotechnology advances in foods, but this discussion
must be based on data collected by scientists instead of fear perpetuated
by journalists. - Daniel Nemiroff folsom, ca
Thanks for airing a thoughtful, balanced and well researched show on an
issue that has become so politicized that most lay people don't know who
to believe. I especially appreciate your effort to bring in the
perspective of the developing world where this issue is a matter of life
We in the developed world can afford the luxury to demand near-zero risk
in biotech crop introductions while delaying potential benefits
indefinitely. After all, our stomachs are full to the point where many of
us spend huge sums of our money on figuring out how to reduce, not
increase, our caloric intake.
Let's not forget that the rest of the world has a fundamental right to
feed themselves in the most efficient way possible. The idea that
"organic" or "subsistence" agriculture is going to solve the world's
hunger problem and is an alternative to technology innovations in farming
is so ludicrous it doesn't even warrant discussion. On applying biotech,
let's be safe, but let's get real! - laurel, md
What has got me worried most about GM soy beans is that the gene that
Monsanto implanted in them gets them Roundup Ready. Which means that the
farmer can soak the field of this Monsanto herbicide and the soy will not
die. How much of that extra herbicide gets into my morning cereals ( I use
soy milk ) is what's worrying me.
Not only did your program not say a word about that use of GM crops, but
it said several times that Monsanto is doing GM to lower the world's
dependance on chemicals. Which is not what is happening, it encourages it.
I had hoped that Frontline/Nova would have helped me get more information
about this. It was a disappointment. - alain martineau montreal, canada
It appears that those most militant against genetically altered foods
appear to be white, middle/upper class with full bellies. Walk the walk
before talking the talk and spend some time in a subsitance farmed region.
PS I'm white, middle class with a full belly but don't suffer from tunnel
vision. - scott martinez long beach, ca
In teaching issues of technology and foreign affairs I have long sought a
balanced report on the myriad of issues surrounding food. One of these,
GMO, is an increasingly important foreign policy debate. As you point out,
these are issues which divide not only the US from Europe, but also
activists in the developed world and producers in the developing world.
Congratulations of filling a major gap in fair, balanced reporting.
You handled a controversial subject with balance and good science. The
issue is ultimately a political one. I am reminded that in the 1930s the
United Kingdom took much the same attitude towards the issue of smallpox
vaccination. In their opposition, UK scientists warned of the potenial
risks of an "unproven" technology, a position which cost them dearly as
thousands of British troops were exposed to smallpox during WW II. The UK
reversed its position overnight.
The only element I would have added would have been a deeper analysis of
the origin and subsequent funding of anti-GMO organizations in Europe,
some of which (perhaps unknowingly) were used by farm lobbies who saw a
largely American technology as posing a serious competitive threat to
inefficient European farming practices. The EU ban on US beef which
contains artificial growth hormone is an example of an artificial barrier
to trade that originally had nothing to do with health and everything to
do with maintaining protection for local producers. So, too, I believe
with GM foods.
- Ambassador David Fischer san francisco, ca
As a citizen and a scientist from an Third-World country, it is scarry to
realize that the people of the most influential nation in the world are so
ignorant about this complex issue.
Increased food production will not solve hunger worldwide. Giving out
food or money will not address the causes of hunger: unjust distribution
of land and resources, huge unequal access to education, health services,
corruption. And, yes, even though they might have more children than they
can support, they still have their pride. Having many kids might mean that
one will survive to take care of his parents. Such are "life stiles" out
of your (narrow) world of internet and malls, you know? I cannot help to
simphatize with the Kenyan scientist: certainly, these people don't know
what they are talking about !! - Miguel Villegas oxford, ms
After the anti-GMO advocates in Europe had just about ruined Monsanto's
business and tanked its stock price, Monsanto had to be bought out by a
European pharmaceutical company, Pharmacia. Almost immediately, the
European Union changed its tune and began to support GMO.
It is obvious that a lot of the falderol was anti-US based and not really
concern over the technology, because as soon as the Europeans got control
of the biotechnology, they became proponents of it.
This was the longest commercial I've ever seen. You posed what you tried
to formulate as a "scientific" argument against a carefully-constructed
view of your opponents as hysterical fear-mongerers. The worst half-truths
were in the segment on third world food production. You chose to describe
failed farm practices ignoring successful ones; you ignored the long
history of colonialism and western invasion that altered the many
sustainable cultures of the African, South American and Asian lands,
destroying their forests and wetlands, depleting their soils and forcing
the people to adopt unsustainable, depleting, western-influenced
market-oriented farming displacing the family/community-based food
production. You ignored the history of desertification and
mass-displacement of populations. You ignored the deliberate overthrow of
indigenous societies that have been replaced by corrupt regimes designed
to feed the needs of our industrialized nations. Next most obnoxious was
your attack on organic farming (not unconnected with the above
discussion). You failed to present the viewpoints of the many organic
growers' organizations which could have shown the economic and nutritional
advantages of locally-grown and marketed foods. We, my husband and I,
would like to know who funded this outrageously-biased commercial for the
Monsanto Corporation and its ilk. Before viewing this program, we were
commenting and laughing about the advertisements on this previously
non-commercial station but this "Harvest of Fear" program proves that it
is no laughing matter. Shame! - Mitzi Bowman new haven, ct
What was particularly striking about your program is that it presented
creators and destroyers. The Kenyan scientist got it exactly right: any
hooligan can knock down a building. Rifkin and Greenpeace, THEY are the
hooligans. When was the last time Rifkin was right about anything?
Greenpeace needs to stir up fear to keep their donations coming in. If
anyone in this story is prostituting themselves for money it is the
opportunists who stoke up public fear for their own enrichment. - George
Purcell Jr. austin, tx
Why should we take the word of companies whose only goal is profit
maximization that GM foods are safe. These companies would use slave labor
if it wasn't illegal and against popular opinion. I think foods can be
GMed but the testing required to make sure they are ok is nearly
impossible. All possibilities cant be accounted for. Untill we know
exactly what every gene we are using does and how it affects every other
gene I don't want anything GMed. These large corporations are saying they
are ending world hunger but how many farmers are selling their crops to
the third world? Most of the profit is from the first world. Chemicals,
pesticides and GMOs are all worse for the world than traditional methods
of living. They cannot be fixed once they are released into the
environment. There's no going back - Seth Borg worcester, ma
The American Indians made their tribal decisions based on the effect it
would have on the seventh generation. Monsanto makes global decisions
based on the effect it will have on the next twenty years. The Kenyan
scientist argues that Kenyans have the right to feed their children
because it's a matter of pride. Where was the Kenyan pride when they
decided to have children in an environment that they KNEW could not
sustain them. It's argued that Genetically Manufactured food is necessary
to sustain the growing population. I argue that the lack of food is
evidence that the population should STOP GROWING. - ronda fulfer fort
Although I have mixed feelings about this topic, I do agree with the
Kenyan scientist. Many Americans (including myself) can not understand the
horror of people dying of hunger. The more I watch this program, the more
it seems that the people fighting GMO development are not humane. - Mary
Mataragas chicago, il
Everything has risks and benefits. Without the modern farming used in the
U.S., half the world would be starving. We now unquestioningly consider
DDT to be harmful, but its use all but eliminated death from malaria.
After DDT was eliminated, malaria deaths returned to the pre-DDT level of
over 2 million per year. Much of the current environmental movement is
more about fighting capitalism, with the side goal of collecting money for
the environmental groups' employees, rather than helping the environment.
- Steve Burns fernandina beach, fl