AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org
Date: 4 Jun 2001 15:43:18 -0000
Subject: RR soybean
In the message below, the NLP Wessex brings out the yield drop that is
occurring in RR soybean, based on a study just published in Elmore et al,
Glyphosate-Resistant Soybean Cultivar Yields Compared with Sister Lines
Agron J 2001 93: 408-412. An earlier press release about this same study
was cited by Charles Benbrook in his recent diatribe on RR soybean.
Benbrook, like NLP Wessex, both claim the authors compared RR beans to
their non-engineered but otherwise isogenic lines.
THIS IS NOT THE CASE AT ALL. The study used sister lines -- just read the
title of the study, and if that is not convincing enough, read the paper
itself. Sister lines do not even come close to being isogenic lines.
The use of sister lines instead of isolines is not a trivial point --
even the authors of the study point out that it would have been better to
use isolines, but did not do so as these were not available. In the
absence of bona-fide near isogenic lines in replicated yield trials, it is
impossible to determine if the yield drag is caused by the RR gene itself
(perhaps an additional metabolic cost) or through linkage drag, that is,
the chromosomal segment around the RR gene from the donor parent is
getting carried along with the breeding process. Presumably, this
chromosomal segment has alleles on it which contribute to lowered yields.
Either way, I completely fail to see the relevance of the current yield
depression associated the Roundup Ready gene, because soybean has a long
and distinguished history of yield reductions whenever a new trait has
been bred into it. The example with which I am most familiar is insect
resistance -- to date, it has been impossible to breed an insect resistant
soybean variety which does not suffer from yield loss. It has been said
that, "The primary breeding problem in developing insect resistance has
been, and continues to be, in achieving yields equal that of existing
cultivars" (Lambert and Taylor, 1999). Thus, farmers planting
insect-resistant varieties must balance the cost of insect control against
the cost of yield losses due to insect damage. I predict it will take
about 5 more years of additional breeding effort to get around the yield
penalty associated with insect resistance (and we are not talking
In another example, soybeans with phytophthora rot resistance yield as
much as their counterparts in this day and age. But that has not always
been the case, as the early varieties with phytophthora rot resistance
bred into them all suffered from yield depression:
"Averaged over 110 field tests (J.L. Cartter et al., 1965. Results of the
cooperative uniform soybean tests, 1964. Part I. North Central States,
RSLM 220), the susceptible cvs. Harosoy, Hawkeye, and Lindarin each
yielded about one bushel per acre more than their respective resistant
backcross derivatives 'Harosoy 63', 'Hawkeye 63', and 'Lindarin 63'."
(Caviness & Walters, 1971)
"At Stuttgart (Arkansas) where damage from phytophthora rot was
negligible, Hill and Hood produced higher yields than their resistant
near-isogenic lines, although these differences were not significant at
the 5% probability level." The same paper goes on to show that with the
release of "Lee 68", yield depression associated with the presence of the
resistance allele was eliminated. (Singh & Lambert, 1985)
NLP Wessex expresses its amazement that the Nebraska study on lower RR
soybean yields was not widely reported by the farm press. Perhaps
because it is not news? As I said before, yield reductions associated
with a new trait are not at all new. Furthermore, this current yield
reduction has been well documented by all the state variety trials. Most
farmers depend on State variety yield trials to select varieties for
planting. In the end, farmers go for economic yield, not total yield,
and in the case of soybean, the savings in cost of production associated
with the use of Roundup Ready varieties more than compensate for the lost
yield. Otherwise, I guarantee farmers would stay away from RR soybean.
The NLP Wessex also expresses its amazement over "the relative paucity of
studies on their agronomic performance which have been published in
peer-reviewed scientific journals." Again, given the enormous volumes
of data on agronomic performance that are widely available from State
variety trials, yield data are not exactly the type of new and novel
information that goes into peer-reviewed journals.
Based on past breeding history, yield drag disappears as additional
breeding effort results in newer varieties. In the case of RR soybean, an
article to that effect has already been published, and distributed on this
list serve if memory serves me right: "Roundup Ready soybean yields are
catching up to conventional varieties, according to a recent study by the
National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy (NCFAP). University
variety trial results for 1999 showed an average 3% difference in yields
for Roundup Ready varieties relative to conventional soybean varieties,
compared to a 4% difference in 1998.
The analysis of 1999 variety trials is based on trials conducted in 8
states and is similar to an earlier analysis of the 1998 trials.
Nearly 9400 entries were included, 4443 conventional and 4955 Roundup
Ready. In five of the eight states included in the analysis, the disparity
in yields between Roundup Ready and conventional varieties was smaller in
the 1999 trials than in 1998, indicating the availability of the Roundup
Ready trait in higher yielding varieties."
By Congressman Nick Smith
May 27, 2001
A generation ago, Americans rightly began to support aggressive
policies-such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the creation of
the Environmental Protection Agency-to reduce pollution levels. These
policies, though often unnecessarily expensive, did lead to important
environment improvements. Today, the air and water are cleaner, and we use
30 percent less energy to produce a dollar of economic output than we did
30 years ago.
Now, however, activists are invoking the "precautionary principle" to
justify onerous regulations that provide little in the way of
environmental protection at disproportionate cost. The precautionary
principle asserts that governments may make political decisions to
implement environmental regulations even in the absence of scientific
evidence that a significant risk exists.
More and more, the environmental movement is using speculative science to
justify all sorts of expensive and unreasonable initiatives, such as the
Kyoto Protocol on carbon dioxide emissions, the ozone emission standards
struck down by the courts, and the determined opposition to power plants
that is causing blackouts in California and elsewhere. These overzealous
regulatory efforts threaten our economy and would unnecessarily reduce the
standard of living for many normal Americans.
Opposing these extremes does not mean returning to smokestacks belching
pollutants or industrial dumping in rivers and lakes. It does not mean
removing or loosening established protections. Rather, it means insisting
on a common-sense and unbiased analysis of the costs and benefits of new
regulations. To take a simple example, it would be unreasonable to ban
automobiles because they pollute. The costs in terms of lost convenience,
freedom, and autonomy far outweigh the benefits.
It also means that we must take stock of current regulations to see if
they are reasonable and effective. One large factor in the high cost of
gasoline, for example, has been the patch-work of environmental laws
governing fuels requirements. There are now 15 different "boutique" fuel
formulations sold in different markets throughout the country, and as each
is sold in three different grades, there is little margin for error in the
distribution and storage system. These mandates not only increase costs,
but limit the market's ability to move supplies around to respond to
shortages. The shutdown of the Wolverine Pipeline in Jackson last year
demonstrated how disruptions in the distribution system can lead to supply
shortfalls that could be met if there were not so many different fuel
While these regulations have increased costs, they may have done little to
protect the environment. Take the oxygenated fuels program, which is
supposed to decrease carbon monoxide air pollution in certain areas that
do not meet air quality standards. While there has been a measurable
decrease in carbon monoxide concentrations, researchers have determined
that it has been due largely to improved engine technology, not the
Over the last generation, we have proven that we can use technology to
protect the environment and achieve high levels of economic growth. We can
continue on this path in the future, but to do so will require that we use
good science-and more than a little common sense.
Environmentalism, Animal Rights Activism, and Eco-Nazism
Priorities for Health,
Volume 13, Number 2 2001
by Thomas R. DeGregori
Can Science Save Africa?
By Mohamed H. A. Hassan
1 June 200
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, science departments in many African
universities, including the University of Lagos in Nigeria, Dar-es-Salaam
in Tanzania, Accra in Ghana, and Khartoum in Sudan, were among the finest
in the developing world. Once heralded as beacons of progress on the
continent, these departments now suffer from a host of problems that have
made it all but impossible for them to meet even minimal responsibilities.
The difficulties encountered by Africa's science departments have impacts
that extend well beyond the departments themselves. Many of the continent's
most serious problems, including malnutrition, disease, and environmental
degradation, cannot be met without the presence of a critical mass of
African scientists working on issues of direct concern to the continent
itself. Science alone cannot save Africa, but Africa without science cannot
be saved. So what can be done to revive African science, and who is
responsible for leading such an effort·
Major responsibility for the future of African science rests in the hands
of Africa's governments. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, funding for
science and technology in Africa was driven by governmental commitments to
quality education and research. But years of political instability and
chronic socioeconomic problems have turned what became increasingly
neglected universities into destitute institutions. Whatever responsibility
Africa's political institutions bear for the current crisis in education
and research, they cannot be expected to overcome the situation on their
own. Lack of financial resources and skilled personnel will make such a
scenario virtually impossible. That means Africa's governments will need
help from national and international aid organizations.
Yet, when it comes to science and technology, Africa does have its own
internal pockets of strength. For example, such national and regional
centers of scientific excellence as the Immunology Biotechnology
Laboratories in Cameroon, the African Centre for Meteorological
Applications in Niger, and the African Centre for Technology in Senegal
could be transformed into international centers of excellence capable of
functioning even more effectively than they do now. Africa also enjoys
successful experiences in the application of science and technology for
development that too often have been drowned out by the din of dismal news
concerning Africa. The development of genetic molecular markers to improve
tea harvests in Kenya, ongoing efforts to examine alternative treatments
for river blindness in Uganda, sickle-cell research in Ghana, and studies
of the use of indigenous plants for the treatment of diabetes in Madagascar
are examples of science-based initiatives in Africa that deserve greater
And Africa's science academies must become more active in policy debates
related to science-based development. Currently, Africa, a continent with
53 nations, has only nine merit-based science academies. The need to
strengthen existing academies must be accompanied by strategies to launch
such institutions where they do not exist. Several African nations (among
them Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania) have recently invested in science
and technology programs and displayed a commitment to democratic principles
that bodes well for the future, regardless of how fragile their current
promising situations may be. The key question is whether these nations will
serve as models for others to follow or become part of a litany of examples
of hope unsustained.
Southern hemisphere cooperation could prove to be a key element in the
enhancement of science and technology. Advanced developing nations such as
Brazil, China, and India should forge strategic alliances with African
nations. Not only would such alliances among developing nations make them
less beholden to the "benevolence" of the North, but the kinship of
experience would also represent a more realistic and effective way of
addressing science-based development issues in Africa.
Beyond the issue of South-South cooperation is the issue of North-South
cooperation. Experts estimate that 30,000 Ph.D. holders of African descent,
many with science degrees, live and work outside their home countries. That
figure far exceeds the total number of African-born scientists with Ph.D.s
working in Africa. That is why it is important for all scientists, and
especially those of African origin living and working in the North, to
assist efforts to rebuild the capacities of Africa's scientific
communities. And that is why it is important for the governments of Africa
to nurture environments that not only provide sufficient financial
resources but also allow scientists from Africa and elsewhere to interact
freely and without constraints.
Mohamed H. A. Hassan is president of the African Academy of Sciences and
executive director of the Third World Academy of Sciences, Trieste, Italy.
THE DEADLY CHEMICALS IN ORGANIC FOOD
New York Post
By ALEX AVERY
June 2, 2001
IF you buy organic food because you think it's free of the cancer-causing
pesticides used on other farms, think again. "Organic" farmers routinely
spray their crops with naturally occurring pesticides - and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency has classified pyrethrum, a top organic
pesticide, as a "likely human carcinogen."
Feeling paranoid yet? Well, in fact, the EPA made that call in secret,
almost two years ago! The revelation about pyrethrum, with other recent
findings, calls into question the superiority of organic farming.
For decades, activists have claimed that organic food is healthier and
kinder to the environment than "chemically farmed" food. Organic farmers,
for example, didn't use synthetic pesticides.
What most people don't realize - and activists try to hide - is that
organic farmers are allowed to use a wide array of natural chemicals as
pest killers. Moreover, these natural poisons pose the same theoretical
(but remote) dangers as the synthetic pesticides so hated by organic
Last year, we learned that rotenone, a natural insecticide squeezed from
roots of tropical plants, causes symptoms of Parkinson's disease in rats.
Now we learn of the EPA's pyrethrum decision.
The EPA's Cancer Assessment Review Committee based its 1999 decision on
the same high-dose rat tests long used by eco-activists to condemn
synthetic pesticides. Because no one knows just how pyrethrum causes
tumors, the committee also recommended assuming that even the tiniest dose
can be deadly. (The same logic is used to brand hundreds of other
chemicals as carcinogens.)
Charles Benbrook, a long-time organic activist, notes that pyrethrum is
applied to crops at low rates and that pyrethrum degrades relatively
rapidly, minimizing consumer exposure. He's right, but all this is true of
today's non-persistent synthetic pesticides as well.
Pyrethrum and modern synthetic pesticides break down so rapidly that
consumers are rarely exposed to any at all. Two-thirds of all fruits and
vegetables tested as they leave the farm in the U.S. have no detectable
pesticide residues - despite our being able to detect chemicals at parts
per trillion levels. (That's equivalent to 1 second in 31,000 years!)
Pyrethrum is extracted from a type of chrysanthemum grown mainly in
Africa. It is literally a nerve poison that these plants evolved to fight
off munching insects. The dried, ground-up flowers were used in the early
19th century to control body lice.
In fact, many of the widely used synthetic pesticides are based on natural
plant-defense chemicals. Synthetic versions of pyrethrum (known as
pyrethroids) make it possible to protect a crop with one or two sprays
instead of spraying natural pyrethrum five to seven times at higher
Organic activists hold to the twisted logic that if a toxic chemical can
be squeezed from a plant or mined from the earth, it's OK - but a safer
chemical synthesized in a lab is unacceptable.
It is possible to farm without pesticides, as demonstrated by a farm
family recently highlighted in Organic Gardening magazine. They use a
Shop-Vac and a portable generator in a wheelbarrow to daily suck insects
off crops. Talk about labor-intensive! And even that won't fight fungal or
bacterial diseases, or insects that eat crops from the inside out. Organic
coffee growers in Guatemala spray coffee trees with fermented urine as a
Bruce Ames, noted cancer expert and recent winner of the National Medal of
Science, notes that more than half of the natural food chemicals he tests
come up carcinogenic - the same proportion as synthetic chemicals. These
natural chemicals are collectively present in large amounts in the very
fruits and vegetables that are our biggest defense against cancer.
Medical and health authorities are unanimous in their recommendation of
five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day to ward off cancer
- no matter how they are grown. Lesson: high-dose rat tests vastly
With global food demand set to more than double in the next 50 years and
one-third of the planet's wildlife habitat already converted to farmland,
humanity must responsibly use pesticides to produce more per acre.
There simply are no compelling reasons to demand chemical-free farming.
Alex Avery is director of research at the Hudson Institute's Center for
Global Food Issues in Churchville, Va.
WATCHDOG CRITICISES FOOD SCARE ADVERT
Press Association Newsfile
By Simon Mowbray, Consumer Affairs Correspondent
May 30, 2001
Environment campaigners were wrong to scare consumers into thinking
that all modern-day food was "laced" with harmful chemicals, advertising
watchdogs ruled today.
Friends of the Earth (FoE) was pulled up over the claims contained in a
In it, the campaign group asked readers "Do you really know what you're
eating?" before warning that "today's food is laced with dangerous hidden
FoE told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that many foods
contained Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) from residue from
pesticides, which could affect the hormone system.
They also claimed all major retailers "sanctioned" the use of
pesticides bytheir suppliers and refused to publish the results of
But the ASA, acting on a single complaint from a member of the public,
ruledthat readers would believe the claims applied to all food and not
just to non-organic products.
It disagreed with the complainant's claim that readers would believe
manufacturers covertly tampered with food after reading FoE's leaflet.
The Authority asked FoE to rewrite the claim with help from the
Committee of Advertising Practice Copy Advice team.
FoE spokesman Ian Willmore said the group accepted it had gone too far
with its claim, which was made in 50,000 leaflets last year.
"What we meant to communicate to people was that too much of our food
is laced with chemicals," he said.
"But we did not mean to say that all food is contaminated, although we
acknowledge the words we used were ambiguous.
"We accept we should have been more careful in checking the copy and we
will amend it in future to convey our message more clearly."
Date: Jun 01 2001 14:32:25 EDT
From: "terry hopkin"
Subject: SAY CHEESE
Was nice to see another trying hard to get some sense into this argument
about food sources'
But as any one who has dared to mention even normal every day risks with
all foods organic included, one finds very soon that for some fanatics
there is no risk with organic food, even though the stuff has been
produced since man first walked on the earth and making us ill now and
then ever since.
Another example less than a year ago as one can expect from time to time
regardless of source(not Gm) a soft cheese(notGM) produced in France
made lots and lots of Europeans very ill.
Who from France is screaming about how unsafe GM food is, now? One guess!
Sad that in the UK such large residues of insecticides etc have been found
in a wide range of salad products
Food needs to be safe regardless of source
terry hopkin firstname.lastname@example.org
p.s. If anyone has been getting spam like messages from me recently must
say sorry we have on our computor at home a system that divides it into
three, with a good deal of common programmes, well it seem's that one my
wife has on her part of the machine and one I had on my part didn't work
together well, and when certain addressses were selected (polbox) then any
sent mail was given extra addresses