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May 28, 2001


Organics, CAST report, No-till, Safety, New Zealand,


AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org

Date: May 26 2001 19:49:03 EDT
From: Andrew Apel
Subject: Pure Fools


There is an interesting new website called "Pure Fools" that has an
page at this link: http://www.purefoods.org/other/health.html

Date: 26 May 2001 20:34:09 -0000
From: gcouger@couger.com
To: agbioview-owner@listbot.com
Subject: GE Ag and global warming.

A CAST report http://www.cast-science.org/pdf/glo2_ip.pdf shows that
farming practices can increase amount of carbon stored in soils. It
relies on returning as much low productivity land to grass as possible and
minimum tillage farming to minimize oxidation of organic mater in the soil
from tillage.

No till can take this a giant step forward in using the soil as a
carbon sink making crop land almost as good a carbon sink as grass land
in some cases. High residue crops such as corn could possibly be a better
sink than some grasses.

Farmers have been trying no till since the first herbicides came on the
market. It met with limited success because the over the top herbicides
could only be used for a limited time early in the plants life without
seriously hurting the yield and the preplant herbicides didn't work well
because they couldn't get to the soil because of the trash cover and
relied on a timely rain to incorporate them. Round Up Ready crops
addressed most of these problems. All the problems of no till are solved.
Crops the are more disease resistant and germinate and thrive in cooler
soil are needed as well. But RR crops are a giant step for no till.

One place that RR crops can have a really large effect on global
warming is in rice farming. Replacing the traditional flooding of rice
paddies for weed control with herbicide as a way to control weeds would
reduce the amount of methane released into the environment. Methane being
a much more potent green house gas than CO2.

Yet Neue (1993) estimate that flooded rice produced between 20 and 100
million tons of methane or 6 to 29% of the total annual methane
emissions. http://www.ciesin.org/TG/AG/ricecult.html

Since it will never be possible to raise everything no till to retire
as much land as possible to grass and forest it is obvious that it is
necessary to maximize yields on the land that is farmed. It is obvious to
me and the agriculturist I know that our current course is the best hope
for a ecologically sound agriculture. The relentless growth of the
population and never ending emission of green house gasses present us with
problems that are increasing at an increasing rate. The longer we dally in
addressing these problems the more difficult they will be to handle.
Agriculture is not the solution to global warming but it can be a
contributing or a mitigating factor. GE Ag can contribute greatly to the

The CAST news release on Storing Carbon in Agricultural Soils to Help
Mitigate Global Warming follows.

Gordon Couger gcouger@couger.com
Retired Farmer www.couger.com/gcouger

Storing Carbon in Agricultural Soils to Help Mitigate Global Warming
(Issue Paper): | Issue Paper (PDF) | Catalog | News Release | Order
Workshop Proceedings
CAST News Release, Monday, April 3, 2000

World's Soils Can Store Carbon to Benefit the Environment Finds Paper
by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology

The same farming practices that promote soil conservation can also
decrease the amount of CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere and threatening
a global warming, according to a new issue paper by the Council for
Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST). Agricultural practices that
conserve soil and increase productivity while improving soil quality also
increase the amount of carbon-rich organic matter in soils,
therebyproviding a global depository for CO2 drawn from the atmosphere by
growing plants.

"We call it a win-win. Returning carbon to the soil in the form of
organic matter is good agronomy. On farmed land, carbon has been released
through practices that promoted organic matter oxidation, but it can be
restored. An even greater opportunity for carbon storage lies in the some
2 billion hectares of desertified and degraded lands worldwide (75% in the
tropics) where improved land management could benefit soil quality and
hold carbon.

A significant fraction of the 30% increase in atmospheric CO2 over the
past 150 years stems from the breakdown of soil organic matter after
forests and grasslands were cleared for farming. So there is room for
it to go back," says Norman J. Rosenberg who authored the paper along with
R. Cesar Izaurralde.

There are opportunities to store carbon in soils around the world,
according to Izaurralde. The soil's storage capacity for carbon has
limits, but sequestration of carbon in soils offers a unique strategic
opportunity to slow global warming especially in the next 30 to 40
years while new, energy-efficient low-carbon power generation and
transportation technologies are phased into use.

The CAST paper highlights results of a workshop organized by the
Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest and Oak Ridge National
Laboratories in conjunction with CAST. Nearly 100 Canadian and U.S.
scientists, agricultural representatives, policy makers, and others
attended the workshop. New scientific opportunities were identified at the
workshop to increase both the content and duration of carbon in soils. The
need for inexpensive instruments and other ways of monitoring changes in
soil carbon also was recognized. Workshop participants also discussed the
question of what would encourage farmers to adopt practices that lead
toincreased soil carbon storage.

The paper indicates that there are also energy costs associated with
capturing carbon in the soil -- through the production, transport, and
application of chemical fertilizers, manures, and pesticides; as well
as the pumping and delivery of irrigation water needed to increase plant
growth. But because these costs are primarily connected to food and fiber
production, the resulting increase in soil carbon storage might decrease
or even offset the net contribution of agriculture to global warming.

CAST is an international consortium of 38 scientific and professional
societies. Its mission is to identify food and fiber, environmental,
and other agricultural issues and to interpret related scientific research
information for legislators, regulators, and the media for use in public
policy decision making. More information on CAST and its numerous
scientific reports are available at http://www.cast-science.org. Copies of
the reports, including Storing Carbon in Agricultural Soils to Help
Mitigate Global Warming, are available from CAST at (515) 292-2152 or by
e-mail at cast@cast-science.org.

Contact: Norman J. Rosenberg, phone (202) 646-5029,
R. Cesar Izaurralde, phone (202) 646-5227, cesar.izaurralde@pnl.gov;
Richard E. Stuckey, phone (515) 292-2125, rstuckey@cast-science.org; or
Karen Coble Edwards, phone (703) 502-8980, karen@kcegroup.com

Date: 29 May 2001 10:26:42 -0000
From: cs@csams.demon.co.uk
To: agbioview-owner@listbot.com
Subject: Re: AGBIOVIEW: EPA Role; Sleepless in Seattle; 'No Smell' Pigs;
Global Poverty; Feel-Good Rice; Food Appeal

Well, both Alex Avery and Gordon Couger have called me to account on
soil erosion and assured me that modern no till farmers are building soil.
Stanley Trimble's research in one watershed in Wisconsin seems to be the
basis for Avery's comments. I suppose it comes down to whether you
believe the USDA figures that show a national average soil loss that has
declined since 1982 from 4.4 tons per acre down to 3.1 tons per acre as
'building soil.'

In Wisconsin, according to the USDA the soil loss is higher, at 3.7 tons
per acre. In Texas it's been steady at 2.6 tons per acre for the past two
decades. That's 52 tons of topsoil loss per acre in the past twenty years
in Texas, 86 tons per acre in Wisconsin, all since the introduction of
'no till' farming. Oh, and 180 tons per acre in Stanley Trimble's native
Tennessee. (It's a bit hillier in Tennessee than in Wisconsin or Texas)

While I am happy to be drawn into an argument about organic versus
agrichemical methods of preventing soil erosion that was not my point. I
was simply saying that 'no till' farming and herbicide use is not
sustainable. Either the USDA is totally incompetent or Alex Avery and
Gordon Couger are guilty of wishful thinking.

Land that has been farmed organically for a period of a few years
starts to increase in value. This is because its increased humus content
leads to better moisture retention, less need for irrigation and stronger
soil structure. If there is still net soil loss arising from organic
farms then that means organic farming is unsustainable too (I'm trying to
be fair here). I am not trying, as Gordon Couger suggest, to frighten
anyone, but perhaps I would be less frightened if I could ignore the USDA
figures and just listen to
Trimble. If an annual loss of 3 or so tons per 'acre' is 'building
soil' remind me not to ask him or Avery to 'build' me a house.

Craig Sams

Date: May 27 2001 22:09:52 EDT
From: "terry hopkin"
Subject: Safe

We begin to get a picture that says that all sources of food are about as
dangerous or as safe.But only one makes claims of a nature that mislead
and that is Organic

When one finds a teenager not washing fruit and asks why, the answer comes
back "It's ORGANIC so it's safe, there's no spray residue to wash off". Of
course, that the picker in the field never washed his or her hands after
defecation does not strike home any more, as ORGANIC is safe. We could go
through a thousand similar examples of basic food hygiene that seem to be
forgotten the moment the Organic label is used. I note that none of the
"Green" agencies seem at all concerned to right the matter, perhaps out
of a belief that the public will wonder, " if you have to wash it then
perhaps it aren't that different, or worth the extra money"

Then we have basic food risks such as fungus infections, rice, grains,nuts
etc which we have seen dismissed with what is either a frightening
knowledge dwarfism or unwillingness to allow ORGANIC foods to be labeled
with such risks. Again with meat products cheese and milk, we are told
there are no risks with ORGANIC foods. Or if we aren't told that, then
what we are told is near into being told such,and for many will be read
that way. Animals and plants have a horrible way of ingesting the worst of
things, only to revenge themselves on us when we eat their dead remains.
Heavy metals, diseases etc. are accidental risks in all food products. No
matter how good the system of production, the system of control is that
which is important for our food safety. But we hear that the GREEN
agencies are only going to accept their own controls as valid. Perhaps
again once the public realize that there are a whole mass of shared risks
with food regardless of source then they may well wonder if the cost is
worth it.

We are told we are entering into a period of Global Warming, and great
claims are made about the effects of CO2 but there is silence about
Methane, which is a much more potent holder of heat than carbon dioxide,
but there again we get masses of methane from compost,and manure

We should be trying hard to reduce methane levels just as hard as carbon
dioxide levels, if as claimed they are responsible for the present
temperature rises. We should discourage the increased use of manures and
composts as they increase the levels of methane in the atmosphere.

Artificial fertilizers have a fixed composition, whilst composts and
manures change in quality and content from period to period dependant on
what has been put in them, so to say. We have had reports of heavy metals
in manures, phosphates, etc as well as the fact that untreated manures can
cause infection cycles for parasites. What controls exist now to be sure
the manures and composts used on ORGANIC foods are safe.

Finally we come to processing, and then it really often seems that we are
told that something is ORGANIC because the producer of the product wants
us to believe so.

If the ORGANIC group of food producers is not willing to admit to the
basic common risks in all food stuffs and the few added ones that their
form of production brings, then we can assume that they are not interested
in food safety, only in profit on a fad

terry hopkin a0felan3@hotmail.com


New Zealanders Await GMO Report
Royal Commission's deliberative process over genetic engineering

New Scientist
By Dave Amber
May 28, 2001

Boycott Big Green, Not Big Business

Wall Street Journal (Europe)
By Julian Morris
May 29, 2001

LONDON -- In 1970, a group of antinuclear protesters in Vancouver formed
the "Don't Make a Wave Committee" to protest underwater nuclear tests the
South Pacific, which they claimed would lead to a tsunami. The French
ignored the protests and went ahead with their tests. The tsunami never
materialized and the protesters changed their name to the less
specifically misleading and catchier Greenpeace. And Greenpeace has been
making waves ever since.

The campaigners soon expanded its operations to other countries, including
the U.S., the U.K. and Germany, tapping an ample supply of recent
university graduates and unemployed, but "concerned" twentysomethings
willing to donate their time and money to the cause. Its campaigns also
became more grandiose and, in some cases, violent. In 1978 Greenpeace
bought an old fishing trawler with money donated by the World Wildlife
Fund as part of its "save the whale" campaign. The boat was refitted,
renamed the "Rainbow Warrior," and sent into battle against Iceland's tiny
whaling fleet.

For years Greenpeace harassed the Icelanders, claiming that traditional
whaling was threatening an endangered species. In reality, the whales near
Iceland are not endangered, but they do compete with humans and other
animals for fish (consuming up to 10% of the total annual catch). But
Greenpeace's species-specific campaign was blind to the wider dynamics of
the ocean ecosystem and Icelandic opinion. By fostering an image of Moby
Dick as cuddly toy and a series of well-placed articles by a largely
friendly press on several continents, Greenpeace was able to stir world
opinion and exert pressure on Iceland's government, which in 1989 banned
whaling. Oh, and Greenpeace made a pile of money from direct mail and
other sources over the same period. Greenpeace activists are far from
disinterested public servants; like the companies they oppose, they are in
it for the money.

Economically Illiterate

Greenpeace's operations now include a fleet of six ships, a helicopter,
and a hot air balloon, which it uses to promote its peculiar brand of
antiscientific, economically illiterate ecoimperialism.

Consider the Brent Spar fiasco. In June 1995 Greenpeace campaigners tied
themselves to the Spar, an oil rig owned by Shell that was due to be
submerged at sea. Claiming that the rig contained over 5,000 tons of oil,
Greenpeace demanded that Shell dispose of it in a more "environmentally
sound manner." But Greenpeace's claims had no basis in fact: The platform
contained only about 75 tons of oil, a trivial amount of oil by the
standards of deep-sea drilling, which would have dispersed harmlessly had
the platform been dumped. Following the firebombing of several Shell
service stations in Continental Europe, however, Shell caved in to the
protesters and, at huge cost, the platform was carved up and used as the
foundation of a Norwegian ferry quay.

For many years, Greenpeace campaigned vigorously against the use of DDT,
in spite the fact that the pesticide is still considered an essential
weapon in the battle against malaria in many poor countries. Both
Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund sought to have DDT banned under a
multilateral convention negotiated in Johannesburg, South Africa last
year. However, Greenpeace was forced into an embarrassing about-face by a
coalition of groups including the Save Children from Malaria Campaign,
which had launched a petition against the ban that was signed by many
prominent scientists.

Greenpeace has also campaigned vigorously against the cultivation of
genetically modified crops, even ripping up test crops planted on private
land. By preventing these experimental plantings, however, Greenpeace has
made it more difficult to understand the benefits and drawbacks of
genetically improved crops. Greenpeace even opposes experimental planting
of "Golden Rice," which may have enormous benefits for the 500,000
children who go blind each year simply because they lack sufficient
amounts of Vitamin A in their diet. Golden Rice will literally let them
see again, but Greenpeace can't see the point of "tampering with nature."

But the companies producing genetically improved crops have done little to
defend this technology. Think of Monsanto's million-dollar advertising
campaign to defend genetically improved crops, which had an advertisement
for Greenpeace at the bottom.

The truth is that Greenpeace is not interested in the real costs and
benefits of new technologies. One of the founders of Greenpeace, Dr.
Patrick Moore, now campaigns against the group, which he describes as
"eco-extremist," because he says it is "antihuman, antitechnology, and
antiscience." Paul Crutzen, another former member of Greenpeace and winner
of the Nobel Prize for chemistry (for his work on the ozone layer) has
said of Greenpeace: "They use bad data, both for the Brent Spar and for
the French nuclear tests. I am against nuclear tests, but one should use
scientifically sound arguments . . . . Greenpeace has harmed the
environmental case." Simon Wessely, professor of psychiatry at King's
College in London, argues that by fostering undue fear among the public,
Greenpeace is actually causing far more human misery than it is possibly

Greenpeace is now a multinational company, with offices in 42 countries
and global operating income of around $125 million a year. But with
operating expenditures of nearly $120 million -- ostensibly spent on
campaigns to "save the planet" -- and only $80 million in cash reserves,
it is clearly on a survival mission of its own. Unlike most multinational
companies, however, Greenpeace doesn't actually sell anything useful
(aside from the odd T-shirt or bumper sticker). Rather, it is in the
business of crafting scary stories, in the hope that the media will pick
these up and the public will give it money to campaign against the
supposed problems that it highlights.

'Face the Consequences'

One of Greenpeace's recurrent campaigns is global warming. This is an
issue steeped in controversy, both scientifically and politically, which
affords Greenpeace ample media opportunities. Most recently, Greenpeace
has been campaigning to "save the climate" following U.S. President George
W. Bush's decision to walk away from the Kyoto Protocol. Greenpeace sent a
letter to the top 100 U.S. companies on April 5. The letter asked the
firms to state publicly that they supported the Kyoto Protocol or face the
consequences. Encouragingly, only six companies responded. Pepsi, taking a
principled stance, replied only to say that it has no intention of
replying. ExxonMobil and Texaco said they fully support U.S. President
Bush. Coca-Cola and AutoNation said they take no stand on the issue. As
the Greenpeace press officer in London put it: "Perhaps these companies
have better things to do with their time than respond to Greenpeace."

Some companies have learned the hard way that Greenpeace cannot be
trusted; others have yet to learn. British Petroleum and Shell have gone
out of their way to placate Greenpeace but this has done little to quell
the group's attacks.

Greenpeace seeks to divide and conquer: To attack one part of an industry
while leaving the rest untouched. But companies that are unaffected in one
attack (and possibly even benefit while their rivals suffer) don't see
that sooner or later they will be under attack too. The best place to
start: Executives should pledge not to engage in any form of dialogue with

Seedlings of Fear

Wall Street Journal (Asia)
May 29, 2001

Sometimes you have to hand it to Greenpeace for self-parody. This week,
while the world's eyes are on Hong Kong's demonstrations surrounding the
anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, the group decided to siphon
off some attention for its own pet cause. To protest genetically modified
foods, activists bravely held hands and vowed to bodily prevent anyone
from going into the Nestle Chocolate factory.

The intrepid activists might have stayed in the background but for news
that Hong Kong is considering "voluntary" guidelines for the labeling of
genetically modified foods. And the rash seems to be spreading across
Asia. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand has promised to put a
stop to field trials of GM crops, Phillipines Senate candidates were
quizzed on their positions, and Indonesia has gotten embroiled in
controversy over whether to allow the planting of genetically modified

It seems clear where this is headed. In Hong Kong, after calls for
compulsory labeling failed last year, activists and legislators apparently
decided to try to ease people into it slowly. Earlier this year a working
group including the Retail Management Association and the Hong Kong
Consumer Council even considered guidelines suggesting the government make
a list of GM foods to be banned "for health reasons."

We'd like to find the person who can explain to us once and for all what
these "health reasons" are that consumers are being protected from. Europe
has already mandated labeling and Japan seems poised to do the same,
giving an "everybody's doing it" flavor to Hong Kong's crusade. But even
the U.S. FDA, which is well-known for its over-protective streak, has said
there is no difference worth labeling between old-fashioned corn and
genetically modified corn.

The question is always whether rationality can prevail. The Hong Kong
situation is worrisome in light of how the "Frankenfoods" campaign began
stalking Europe in the aftermath of the mad-cow outbreak. That Hong Kong
has just suffered through its second outbreak of chicken flu, means the
city may be feeling just skittish and vulnerable enough to give credence
to the scare tactics.

So far polls of Asians have indicated that they are not overly concerned
about GM foods. While Western elites may find status in having an
authentically wormy organic tomato, Asians are less charmed by the organic
food culture. Fly-swarmed fish sits on the sidewalks to dry, meat hangs in
the open air. Who's going to get upset about some imaginary concern about
food safety when real-life dangers are so readily available?

Voluntary or not, the effect of governments drafting guidelines for
"voluntary" labeling, preventing crop plantings or blasting biotech
companies is that it bestows an imprimatur of legitimacy on scare
campaigns that have no basis in reality. We hope Asia keeps its
perspective about what things are truly worth fighting for.

Ag Researchers In The United States Prepare To Harvest The World's
First Hypoallergenic Wheat

- Stephen Day, the Guardian 24-May-2001

If wondering why European consumers have taken to genetically
modified crops much like florists to turnips, biotech companies could
do worse than look at their product lists.

Amongst the many pest, disease and herbicide-resistant GM varieties
created for farmers, only stay-firm-for-longer tomatoes have been
offered to woo supermarket shoppers: once sold as puree here and
fresh in the US, even these are no longer available.

Now, however, something metaphorically closer to a rose than a root
vegetable is on the horizon - researchers in California are testing
what could be the world's first harvest of hypoallergenic wheat. In
the west, 90% of food allergies are caused by just eight food types:
wheat, soybeans, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, shellfish and fish.
These foods have little in common except for containing relatively
indigestible proteins. Many food allergies develop when fragments of
such proteins survive digestion for long enough to induce the
production of IgE antibodies, which trigger allergic reactions on
subsequent exposures to the culprit food.

The Californian researchers are hoping to exploit the flip side of
this process. As Bob Buchanan, a leading member of the group
explains: "In most cases, increased digestibility goes hand in hand
with reduced allergenicity." Buchanan and his colleagues at the
University of California at Berkeley are aiming to produce more
digestible and therefore less-allergenic crops. Proteins that resist
digestion often do so because they are folded too tightly for
digestive enzymes to gain access.

The researchers aim to tackle this problem using thioredoxin, a
non-allergenic protein found in all living organisms that
specifically targets chemical bonds that help hold proteins in their
folded shapes. Breaking these bonds allows proteins to unravel and so
makes them easier to digest, and the researchers have shown that as a
consequence, adding thioredoxin to wheat protein makes it less
allergenic in animal tests.

Since thioredoxin occurs naturally in seeds, where it accelerates the
breakdown of proteins to provide amino acids for the growing
seedling, the team reasoned that increasing the thioredoxin content
of wheat grains should make them less allergenic. Collaborating with
Peggy Lemaux and Lee Frick - both also at the University of
California and specialists in the genetic modification of cereals and
in allergy, respectively - the researchers inserted additional copies
of the thioredoxin gene into wheat and so produced lines whose grains
contain several fold more thioredoxin than normal. "We have the
grains and now we have grown them in the field," says Buchanan. "We
are still testing allergenicity and baking properties." Apart from
saying that they are "optimistic" , he can't yet give details of
their results.

Besides reducing wheat allergy, the thioredoxin-enriched grains could
have other benefits: in particular, they may help alleviate gluten
intolerance. Glutens are a large group of proteins that collectively
allow wheat flour to form dough.

Unfortunately, a class of gluten proteins called gliadins cause
intestinal damage in people with gluten intolerance, leading to
symptoms such as chronic diarrhoea, weight loss and anaemia.
"Thioredoxin targets the gliadins," says Buchanan, "and what we hope
is that they will be more digestible." The researchers are not yet
testing the effects of thioredoxin-enrichment on gluten intoler ance.
Since there is no animal model for the condition, such tests would
require gluten-intolerant volunteers.

Buchanan and his colleagues have other allergy targets, including soy
beans and peanuts. In a paper just published, for example, they have
shown that thioredoxin acts on two of the major allergenic proteins
in peanuts. "I think that the thioredoxin take on the problem is a
very good one," says Gary Bannon, a specialist on peanut allergens at
the University of Arkansas medical school in Little Rock. As with
wheat, thioredoxin-enrichment should lead to more digestible peanuts
and so help to prevent allergy from developing in the first place.

However, Bannon warns that this approach will not be enough to
benefit existing sufferers of peanut allergy, for some of whom even
traces of peanut can cause potentially fatal allergic reactions.
Bannon himself is working on this side of the problem. Using IgE
antibodies collected from allergy sufferers, Bannon and his
colleagues have identified exactly which parts of the main allergenic
peanut proteins represent IgE binding sites. For example, one
allergenic protein, called Ara h1, has 23 such sites. This has
allowed the researchers to produce modified genes that encode the
proteins in forms with far fewer IgE binding sites.

"We are not at the peanut stage yet," says Bannon. "We have produced
the proteins themselves [using bacteria] and we are right now in the
process of trying to reintroduce those modified genes into plants."
He stresses that even this will not make peanuts completely safe for
allergy sufferers. "If we can produce a hypoallergenic peanut, it
wouldn't allow allergy sufferers to eat ad libitum, but it could
prevent accidental exposure from being life threatening," he says.

Of course, the extent to which hypoallergenic crops will reduce food
allergies depends on how widely such crops are used. Ironically, in
this context, in the US public acceptance of GM crops has recently
been dented by fear of allergens. Last September, traces of the GM
maize variety, StarLink, were found in processed food on sale in the
US. StarLink is engineered to produce a pest-killing protein but only
registered as an animal feed because the introduced protein digests
relatively slowly - making it a potential allergen.

The discovery caused a massive recall of contaminated products and
lawsuits against StarLink's producer, Aventis CropScience, brought by
people saying that they have suffered allergies to StarLink. So
while the biotech industry holds its collective breath, the US Food
and Drug Administration is now testing blood from some of the 50 or
so people claiming such allergies. Meanwhile, allergies to
conventional foods cause about 2,500 emergency hospital admissions
and around 135 deaths in the US each year. When hypoallergenic GM
crops are available, how long before allergy sufferers sue companies
for using the conventional, allergenic varieties?

Iberia Grains-Feed Compounders Want GMO Inputs

May 28, 2001

LISBON, May 28 (Reuters) - Animal feed makers from Spain and Portugal said
at a weekend Lisbon conference they would welcome using more controversial
genetically modified (GMO) grains - if legislators would let them.

Many speakers at the two-day biotechnology conference, organised by
Portugal's Feed Compounders' Association (IACA), said they thought
consumer fears in Europe and protests by ecological groups against GMOs
were unfounded. Jesus Leon, head purchaser at Spanish compounder Vall
Companys, said he was keen to buy cheaper and higher-quality grain.

"We are not scientists, but if the legislators were to allow it, I would
say an unreserved yes," Leon said.

IACA president Jaime Picarra said Portugal was even more dependent than
Spain on imported soy and maize, which accounted for 47 percent of the
industry's raw materials, and needed to keep costs down to compete with
international peers.

Leon and other speakers said European Union rules forbade them to import
gene-spliced maize, but did allow them to buy GMO soya beans and meal from
the United States or Argentina.


Spain last year imported 1.7 million tonnes of soybeans and about one
million tonnes of meal, including 1.2 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans, of
which 96 percent were either genetically modified or mixed with GMOs.

Compounders said soy was an irreplaceable source of protein for animal
feed, of which Spanish and Portuguese consumers eat 70 kg per year on
average, up from 20 kg three decades ago.

"We can't fatten animals the way we do today without soya. The question
here is whether we want to go back to eating the way we did in the 1960s,"
Leon said.

Demand for soy protein received a boost in Europe at the end of last year
after the European Commission banned the use of meat and bone meal in
animal feed in a bid to stop the spread of mad cow disease.

Soybean meal prices soared to around 44,000 pesetas ($227.3) a tonne
earlier this year after the ban on meat and bonemeal, and later cooled but
have recently rebunded due to a rally in Chicago and a strong dollar, with
quotes on Monday at 39,000.


Farmers' representatives said they would also welcome the chance to grow
maize with higher yields promised by GMO makers, but which may neither be
imported nor planted in Europe.

"Either GMOs are good or bad, but they tell us we can import them (soya)
but not grow them (maize)," Agustin Marine, of the Spanish Maize
Producers' Association, told the Lisbon conference.

GMO import bans in recent years have caused Spanish and Portuguese
consumers to use their special cut-levy quota to buy two million tonnes of
non-EU maize from South America rather than the United States in recent


The French animal feed sector: protein ingredient use, implications of the
ban on use of meat and bonemeal and the use of genetically modified (GM)
or non GM ingredients
Source : Graham Brookes - (dated 29/05/01)

This paper examines the nature of ingredient use in the French animal feed
sector. It explores how this may be affected by the EU Commission?s ban on
the use of meat and bonemeal (MBM) in animal feed and the implications of
any significant move in favour of using soyameal ingredients that may be
derived from non genetically modified soya. It covers ingredient usage and
reasons for use, usage of meat and bonemeal (MBM), the main alternatives
to using MBM (and implications), the scope for France growing more
oilseeds and protein crops to offset the loss of MBM as an ingredient,
soyameal use and sources of supply and implications of a possible
significant move by European retailers to require the use of non GM
derived ingredients by livestock product suppliers.

Heart health to benefit from GM oils

Monday, 28 May 2001

The world's first cotton plants genetically modified to produce healthier
cooking oils and margarines have been developed by CSIRO Plant Industry.

Cottonseed oil is already used extensively as an ingredient in margarines
and cooking oils, particularly in the food service sector.

However, to make it suitable for these uses it is generally subjected to a
process known as 'hydrogenation' which can produce cholesterol-raising
trans fatty acids as a by-product.

"Oil from our improved cottonseed is suitable for cooking purposes without
the need for hydrogenation," says Dr Allan Green, leader of the research

"Products made from these oils will be healthier because they will not
contain trans fatty acids."

To produce the new oils, the scientists 'switched off' genes in cottonseed
that normally convert oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid, into
polyunsaturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturates are nutritionally valuable,
but break down under extreme heat, making them unsuitable for cooking

"The hydrogenation process converts the polyunsaturates back into
monounsaturates, but we have prevented their formation in the first
place," says Dr Qing Liu, the scientist who genetically modified the

"By turning off the gene that produces polyunsaturates we have produced
for the first time an inherently high-oleic cottonseed oil.

"We haven't added any foreign genes to the cotton to achieve this, but
have reintroduced a very small amount of the cotton plant's own DNA."

The healthy high oleic cottonseed oil will remain stable under high
temperatures, making it a suitable replacement for hydrogenated oils and
saturated oils in food service applications.

In a related development, the CSIRO research team has also successfully
used gene technology to alter the proportions of saturated fatty acids in
cottonseed oil. Saturated fatty acids provide the solid properties that
make cottonseed oil useful in margarine production.

About a quarter of cottonseed oil is made up of two saturated fatty acids,
called palmitate and stearate. Conventional cottonseed contains mostly
palmitate, with small amounts of stearate. Nutritionists believe that
stearate does not raise blood cholesterol, but palmitate does.

Dr Liu has modified the cottonseed so that it produces stearate instead of
palmitate, making it a healthier product for margarines.

"Preliminary testing of the high oleic and high stearic oils will be
undertaken by Food Science Australia at the end of the year," says Dr

"Following successful completion of the product testing and approvals from
the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, work will begin on developing
commercial varieties of the genetically modified cottons."

The first field trials could commence in 2002. If all progresses well,
commercial varieties could be available to growers by 2004 with the first
commercial harvest in 2005.

"This development will ultimately help the Australian food industry
replace our $50 million annual imports of palm oils with healthier,
locally produced oils," says Dr Green.

"The improvement in nutritional value of our food oils is an example of
how gene technology can be used to provide consumer benefits not
achievable with conventional breeding approaches."

All CSIRO Plant Industry gene technology research is conducted according
to guidelines set down by the Federal Government's Genetic Manipulation
Advisory Committee.

This research is supported by cotton growers through the Cotton Research
and Development Corporation.

Photographs available on request or from:

More information from:

Dr Allan Green, CSIRO Plant Industry 02 6246 5154

Dr Qing Liu, CSIRO Plant Industry 02 6246 4919

Sophie Clayton 02 6246 5139, 0418 626 860, sophie.clayton@pi.csiro.au


? Mr Nick Goldie
CSIRO National Awareness
PO Box 225
Dickson ACT 2602
Phone: +61 2 6276 6478
Fax: +61 2 6276 6821
Mobile: +61 0417 299 586
Email: Nick.Goldie@nap.csiro.au