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June 10, 2001


Science, MAS, Allergies, What's Organic?, Sri Lanka,


AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org

Today's Topics:

* Free Science Magazines
* Allergies
* What is Organic?
* Sri Lanka Puts Off GM Food Ban
* Engineering Crops in a Needy World
* "The Skeptical Environmentalist" by Bjørn Lomborg
* EU Sees New Genetic Food Proposals
* GM trials face delay as crops destroyed
* Plans lodged for more GM oilseed rape sites
* Singapore Scientists Produce Long-Life Fruit With Modified Genes
* GMO Alternatives

Date: 11 Jun 2001 15:27:09 -0000
From: Beant Ahloowalia
Subject: Free Journals
To: AgBioView

I have the following issues of Science for free. Any library or university
in the third world country can have them, but must pay for their

Science 1970-1978
Volumes 169-204
Issues from No. 3945 to 4390

Missing issues
1970 Vol. 169 No. 3949
1970 Vol. 170 No. 3954
1971 Vol. 172 No. 3995
1971 Vol. 173 No. 4000
1971 Vol. 174 No. 4007, 4009
1972 Vol. 176 No. 4035
1973 Vol. 179 No. 4074
1974 Vol. 184 No. 4143
1974 Vol. 186 No. 4162, 4169
1976 Vol. 193 No. 4252
1977 Vol. 195 No. 4283
1979 Vol. 203 No. 4379
Total missing issues 14

B.S. Ahloowalia
Agriculture and Food Development Authority
Kinsealy Research Centre, Dublin 17
Tel.: 353-1-846 0644 ext.130
Fax: 353-1-846 0524
E-mail: bahloowalia@kinsealy.teagasc.ie

Date: 11 Jun 2001 14:53:10 -0000
From: "Bob MacGregor"

I wanted to add a couple of observations to Wayne Parrot's comments on
MAS. First, Wayne didn't note that MAS won't allow easy
deletion/inactivation of characteristics (as can be done with antisense

Second, I think Wayne meant "vegetatively propagated" rather than sterile
in point 3-- at least, I don't think Russet Burbank potato is sterile;
though it is only grown from (true) seed in breeding programs.
Periodically, we need reminders like Wayne's that this isn't a case of
choosing one technology exclusive of another; each has its role.


Date: Jun 10 2001 10:18:13 EDT
From: "Frederic Abraham"
Subject: Questions

(Hi, I'll repost the following since I posted it at the wrong address...)

As I was reading the latest post about "the allergy issue", one question
came to my mind. I think that it deals a lot with what is beneath the GM
food debate.

About the following from "the allergy issue" post:
>"Interest in the allergy issue has been heightened by knowledge that a
>protein known to be an allergen in one species remains an allergen when
>transferred by genetic transformation to a second species. An example of
>such a protein, now widely known, is the Brazil nut allergen (2S protein)
>transferred to soybean. The allergenicity associated with the original 2S
>protein in Brazil nut was found to be retained after it was
>in soybean (Nordlee et al., 1996). Although not surprising, this example
>reassuring in documenting that the scientific community is capable of
>detecting and identifying a known allergen that has been transferred from
>one species to another by genetic engineering. As a result of the allergy
>tests, the transgenic soy product in question was not further developed
>a commercial product."

Questions: why this transgenic soy was developed as a commercial product
in the first place? why wasn't the allergy issue assesed or questionned at
the developmental stage of that project?

Personnaly, I think that, as far as scientific inquiry was of concern, the
selection amongst priorities was handicaped there. I guess this is one of
the differences between the lately so called "good science" and the very
well known "techno-science": today in the world of scientific research,
when mainly driven by interests of the industry and the international
market, one can easily cross that line between scientific inquiry and...
well that other thing which is but science.

Frederic Abraham

Date: Jun 10 2001 05:35:01 EDT
From: "terry hopkin"
Subject: what is organic? What's good what's bad

Again the mystery of what is organic pops it's sweet little head up again
when one reads that a UK supermarket chain had to withdraw an advert about
it's organic food that claimed that there where no insectisides etc used,
when the EU said but this is not true;- certain man-made products are
allowed to be sprayed onto crops //added to soil, and the result still be
called ORGANIC !!!!

Of course the soil association did not like the judgement: why should
they? It just shows another of these good and bad tricks. We now know that
there are good man made pesticides, they are the ones the organic
movement find it nescessary to use, those they dont are of course bad!

I mentioned a few days ago about methane without getting any
response from Greenpeas. Greenpeas in an article about hydro electricity
were worried about the excessive amounts of methane which would be
produced by flooding a forest, as they pointed out methane is a more
pontent green-house gass than carbon dioxide. But when I point out just
how much extra methane will be produced from compost and manure big
silence, of course the methane from hydo-electricity is bad methane, that
from compost and manure, is good methane

Greenpeas, if you want to be called Greenpeace explain yourselves.

terry hopkin

Sri Lanka Puts Off GM Food Ban

Agence France-Presse
June 11, 2001

COLOMBO, June 11 (AFP) - Sri Lanka has deferred a ban on the import of
genetically modified (GM) food after traders sought more time to comply,
officials said Monday.

The ban was due to go into effect on May 1 but was put off till September,
officials said adding the government was launching an awareness campaign
on GM food. A spokesman for food importers, S. R. Balachandran, of the
National Chamber of Commerce said they asked for more time to clear food
that had already been ordered when the ban went into effect.

Officials said Health Minister W. D. Seneviratne had accepted the

Last month, a US official slammed Sri Lanka's move.

Weyland Beeghly , the agricultural counsellor for India, Sri Lanka and
Bangladesh, said Sri Lanka was the only country to have imposed a total
ban on GM food.

"Even though it will affect only four percent of US agricultural exports
to Sri Lanka, we believe it is totally unwarranted," Beeghly said.

Sri Lanka's ban on GM food applies to all imports of raw and processed
food in 21 categories.

To comply with the ban, importers must obtain proof from exporting
countries' health authorities that their products are non- GM.

Both GM preservatives and additives are blacklisted, along with
genetically modified soya beans and tomatoes, potatoes, corn or maize
flour, beet sugar, yeast and cheese.


Engineering Crops in a Needy World



Recovering Earth

Environmentalists said our planet was doomed to die. Now one man says they
are wrong. Anthony Browne reports

The Observer
By anthony.browne@observer.co.uk
Sunday June 10, 2001

It hardly needed explanation. 'Everyone knows the planet is in bad shape,'
thundered a Time magazine article last year. The seas are being polluted,
the forests devastated, species are being driven to extinction at record
rates, the rain is acid, the ozone layer vaporising, and the rivers are so
poisonous fish are floating on the surface, dead. As Al Gore, former US
vice-president, put it in his book Earth in the Balance : 'Modern
industrial civilisation is colliding violently with our planet's
ecological system.' We inherited Eden and are leaving our children a
depleted rubbish tip.

But there's a growing belief that what everyone takes for granted is
wrong: things are actually getting better. A new book is about to overturn
our most basic assumptions about the world's environment. Far from going
to hell in a handcart, it is improving by almost all measures. Those
things not getting better are getting worse at a slower rate.

Rivers, seas, rain and the atmosphere are all getting cleaner. The total
amount of forests in the world is not declining, few species are being
made extinct, and many of those that were endangered are thriving again.
The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjørn Lomborg, professor of statistics
at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, is a scathing attack on the
misleading claims of environmental groups, and the 'bad news' culture that
makes people believe everything is getting worse, when by almost all
indicators, things are getting better.

When it was first published in Scandinavia, it caused a deafening storm of
protest, and transformed the nature of the debate. The book is part of a
growing backlash against green groups, and potentially the most dangerous.
Most previous criticisms have come from right-wing think-tanks hostile to
the environment agenda.

Now the attacks are increasingly coming from left-wing environmentalists
such as Lomborg, a former member of Greenpeace. The accusation is that,
although the environment is improving, green groups - with revenues of
hundreds of millions of pounds a year - are using increasingly desperate
scaremongering tactics to sustain donations.

Lomborg's book, to be published in September by Cambridge University
Press, doesn't deny global warming - probably the biggest environmental
threat - but demolishes almost every other environmental claim with a
barrage of official statistics.

Many of his arguments were given added credibility last week by the
European Environment Agency's annual report, which pointed out just how
much things were improving across the continent.

In 1997, the WWF's international president Claude Martin made a desperate
plea: 'I implore the leaders of the world to pledge to save their
remaining forests now - at the eleventh hour for the world's forests.' The
Worldwatch Institute claims that 'deforestation has been accelerating over
the last 30 years'.

But Lomborg says that is simply rubbish. Since the dawn of agriculture the
world has lost about 20 per cent of its forest cover, but in recent
decades depletion has come to a halt. According to UN figures, the area of
forests has remained almost steady, at about 30 per cent of total land
area, since the Second World War. Temperate forests in developing
countries such as the US, UK and Canada have actually been expanding over
the past 40 years.

Britain has more forest now than 200 years ago, and the growth is all
broadleaf natural woodlands, not pine plantations. Tropical forests in
developing countries are being cut down or burnt, but at a slow rate; and
despite all the dire warnings the Amazon rainforest has only shrunk by
about 15 per cent. Lomborg concludes: 'Basically, our forests are not
under threat.'

Nor are all our species dying out. In the 1979 book The Sinking Ark ,
campaigner Norman Myers claimed that each year 40,000 species were being
made extinct. Others have suggested a figure of 250,000, and claimed that
50 per cent of all species will have died out within 50 years.

But Lomborg cites other studies that show only 0.08 per cent of species
are dying out each year. The IUCN - the world conservation union that
officially recognises which species are endangered - said recently that
'actual extinctions remain low'.

Conservation efforts have been spectacularly successful. Whales are no
longer threatened with extinction, elephants are being culled because
their numbers are so high, and the bald eagle is off the endangered list.
Never has so much of the habitat of the developed world been protected -
the number of officially protected areas in Europe has risen from a
handful 20 years ago to more than 2,000 now.

But the most dramatic improvements are elimination of most of the main
forms of pollution. Cleaner fuels and clampdowns on emissions mean the
last time sulphur dioxide emissions in London were so low was in the
sixteenth century. Getting rid of lead from petrol means that in the US
lead concentrations in the air have dropped 97 per cent.

The same is true of almost all other main forms of pollution, including
soot, ozone, nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide. According to Lomborg: 'Air
pollution is not a new phenomenon that has been getting worse and worse,
but an old phenomenon that has been getting better and better, leaving
London cleaner than it has been since the Middle Ages.'

The oceans have also been getting cleaner. According to the European
Environment Agency, in seas around Europe in the past 10 years the amount
of cadmium, mercury and lindane has fallen by around 80 per cent.

Many environmental scares have simply failed to happen. Despite repeated
fears about a looming 'energy gap', the world now has more energy than
ever. In 1980, it was predicted we only had 30 years of oil left but, 20
years on, we know we have at least 40 years left. Improvements in
exploration techniques mean the known oil reserves are at record levels.

In the Eighties, there was alarm that acid rain would destroy Europe's
forests. Ten years later the fears had evaporated: studies showed acid
rain rarely affected trees. It did, however, affect life in lakes, and
emissions of acid-making gases were curbed.

'Acid rain does not kill the forests, and the air and water around us are
becoming less and less polluted,' says Lomborg. The UN said in 1997 that
'the widespread death of European forests due to air pollution which was
predicted by many in the Eighties did not occur.'

'Mankind's lot has improved in terms of practically every measurable
indicator,' concludes Lomborg. A recent study by the right-wing Institute
of Economic Affairs backed the claim. It produced indicators for most
forms of environmental damage and concluded: 'Contrary to public opinion,
in most instances, objectives for protecting human health and the
environment are being met.'

Environmental groups claim, with justification, that many of the
improvements are the results of the success of their campaigns. Stephen
Tindale, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: 'There are important
examples, such as acid rain and ozone, where things weren't as bad as
predicted, and that's because behaviour changed.

'The ozone layer is beginning to recover because ozone depleters are being
very rapidly phased out. It's a tri umph of the environmental movement.'
Charles Secrett, director of Friends of the Earth UK, insisted that the
environment was facing new threats: 'The more obvious and simple
environmental issues have by and large been tackled. But we have replaced
smelly pollutants you can see with invisible, sneaky pollutants that
affect you over the long term.'

But this change of emphasis comes under heavy fire. Patrick Moore, one of
the co-founders of Greenpeace who fell out with the organisation over its
radical tactics, said that having been victorious in its early battles the
environmental movementhad invented new ones.

He said: 'At the beginning, the environmental movement had reason to say
that the end of the world is nigh, but most of the really serious problems
have been dealt with. Now it's almost as though the environmental movement
has to invent doom and gloom scenarios.'

Environmentalists admit that there has been a change in emphasis - from
problems that have actually occurred to warnings about those that might,
such as genetically modified foods. 'It is not scare-mongering to draw
attention to a risk that could have very serious consequences if it comes
to pass,' said Tindale.

Indeed, some potential risks - such as climate change - end up becoming
reality if nothing is done. Secrett said: 'Very few environmental groups
are doom and gloom merchants. What we say is based on science.'

Critics such as Moore claim that environmental groups have a vested
interest in exaggerating problems, because alarming people helps to raise
funds. But Lomborg warns it can have serious consequences: 'It makes us
scared and it makes us more likely to spend our resources and attention
solving phantom problems while ignoring real and pressing, possibly
non-environmental, issues.'


EU Sees New Genetic Food Proposals

The Associated Press
Sunday, June 10, 2001; 2:34 PM

BERLIN ?? The European Union's top consumer protection official expects
the EU to present new proposals for regulating genetically modified foods
in June, a newspaper reported Sunday.

EU commissioner David Byrne, in an interview with the Berliner Morgenpost
daily, said the proposal would include provisions allowing consumers to
sue if genetically modified food is not properly labeled.

"If the labeling is inadequate, consumers will be able to sue," he told
the paper. "In addition, new laws for genetically modified animal feed and
seeds are planned."

Under pressure notably from the United States, EU officials have been
seeking ways to end a three-year EU suspension on the marketing of new
genetically modified foods while also addressing deep suspicions among the
European public about such foods.

In February, the European Parliament approved new rules on labeling and
monitoring genetically modified food. Some EU members said the rules don't
hold makers of genetically altered food liable


GM trials face delay as crops destroyed

Company examines damage to six test sites

The Guardian
John Vidal
Saturday June 9, 2001

Six out of 13 of Britain's GM oil seed rape trials have been covertly
destroyed by opponents in the past few weeks, potentially delaying for at
least a year the future commercialisation of the controversial crop.
The pharmaceutical giant Aventis yesterday admitted that the attacks, all
of which were on seeds developed by the company, had taken place but
declined to say whether the damage would affect the data they were
designed to collect. The trials are a legal step before the crops can be
given a commercial licence.

A spokesman for Aventis said the attacks were "unhelpful" and that
evaluations of the damage were still being made. Opponents claimed that
five trial sites were destroyed and one was 80% damaged.

Two more are believed to have failed naturally, reducing the country-wide
testing programme to just five oil seed rape trial sites, all of which are
now believed to be in danger. Government scientists may be forced to
declare that they have not received enough data to recommend

With more than 30 of the government's 104 large scale GM crop trials
opposed by local communities, organic farmers and national organisations,
Friends of the Earth (FoE) predicted that many more crops could be
destroyed over the next few months. "Most of the large scale trial sites
have only just been planted and there are a lot of very angry people out
there," said Adrian Bebb of FoE. "It's hard to see how the anger will
subside. GM will not go away."

Yesterday, the only trial site in the Highlands, near Inverness, was
damaged for the second time in two weeks following strong local and
national opposition . A campaigner for Scottish Genetix Action said the
action was "an inevitable consequence of the government ignoring local

The destruction of crops in Britain, which has been mirrored in Belgium in
the past month, follows several high profile abandonments of trials by
farmers in south Wales and near Coventry.

Community challenges to crops proposed near Mathry in Pembrokeshire and
one near the Henry Doubleday organic research station in Warwickshire have
set a precedent, and a legal case to prevent GM crops being grown near
organic farms is being considered by the Soil Association. Research by
Greenpeace and the association has shown that 31 of this year's trials are
near an organic farm.

Yesterday the government was accused of ducking the GM issue by refusing
to send a minister or civil servants to an EU environment meeting in
Brussels today where the European commission will present controversial
proposals to allow foods containing traces of GM ingredients to be sold in
Europe with GM-free labels. It is believed that Britain supports the

The commission's plan follows heavy lobbying from the US, the world's
biggest producer of GM crops.


Plans lodged for more GM oilseed rape sites

June 10, 2001 1:13am

Aberdeen Press & Journal (UK)
June 09, 2001

Plans lodged for more GM oilseed rape sites

NEW applications have been lodged with the Scottish Executive to trial
genetically-modified oilseed rape in the North-east.

Aventis Crop Science hopes to plant strains of GM rape near Udny Station
and Daviot.

The company says the sites would form part of a UK-wide farmscale
evaluation of new strains of the crop.

The applications relate to winter oilseed rape which has been modified to
be tolerant to the herbicide glufosinate-ammonium. The crop will be
destroyed at the end of the trial and will not be put into the human or
animal feed chain.

A number of GM oilseed rape trial sites for Aventis and the Scottish
Agricultural College have already been approved in the North-east at
Daviot and Tillycorthie, and at Munlochy and for potatoes at Invergowrie
in Perthshire.

Police are continuing to investigate damage caused to a field of
genetically-modified crops at Munlochy on polling day. A section of the GM
crop trial field of oilseed rape appeared to be trampled and pulled into a
giant X on Thursday at Roskill Farm.

A Northern Constabulary spokesman said last night the cost of the damage
was thought to be minimal, but they were continuing their investigations.

No one has yet come forward to take responsibility for the action, but
organic farmer Donnie M- Leod, from Ardersier, said he had been telephoned
in the early hours of Thursday by Glasgow-based eco-warriors Scottish
Genetix Action to say that locals had made a huge cross in the GM field to
show their opposition to the trials.

Singapore Scientists Produce Long-Life Fruit With Modified Genes

Agence France-Presse
June 9, 2001

SINGAPORE, June 9 (AFP) - Researchers at Singapore's National University
are reported to have developed a system of modifying genes to delay fruit
ripening by up to four months.

They have cloned and modified the genes which fruits and plants use to
produce ethylene, the gas which causes ripening, the Straits Times said

Pua Eng Chong, associate professor of the biological sciences department,
said fruit with doctored genes produces 90 percent less ethylene, and the
flow on effect could mean savings of millions of dollars.

Researchers are initially focusing on bananas, a 1.5-billion US dollar a
year industry.

"The problem with bananas is that they are highly perishable and can't be
transported unless you use expensive refrigerated storage systems," Eng

"By stopping ethylene production in the fruit, we can do away with
refrigeration and still get the bananas to market before they are

Eng said researchers can time exactly when they want the genetically
modified fruit to ripen.

"A few days before they are sold, the bananas are simply treated with
ethylene gas and will ripen normally," he said.

However, the university has so far only successfully developed the system
with the mustard plant, and Eng said it could take another two years
before the technique for bananas is perfected.

Date: Jun 09 2001 05:25:36 EDT
From: "NLP Wessex"
Subject: Seed mixtures - 2001: Year of Alternatives to GMOs

The article below is all the more interesting for appearing in a
publication from Bayer, a major agrochemcial company.

For more on this see SCRI report on seed mixtures at:

SCRI describes this approach as "a method of production that benefits the
farmer who will receive direct economic benefit from increased yields and
reduced pesticide inputs".

SCRI also postulates an interesting potential relationship with modern
marker assisted breeding techniques: "Markers could similarly be used for
marker-assisted component selection for designing mixtures, as favourable
components may combine in similar manner to favourable alleles in a single

For more on the use of marker assisted conventional plant breeding as an
alternative to genetically engineered crops see: