AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org
* Brazil nut
* NLP and markers
* GMO Corn Vs. Non-GMO Corn? No Difference, Researchers Concludes
* PLANET IS HEALTHY, GREENPEACE EXILE ARGUES IN NEW BOOK
* Genetically Modified Soya in Brazil
* Court Case Against GM Crop Protesters Thrown Out
* Precision Farming Need Of The Hour, Says Swaminathan
* China Cotton Area to Increase 17 Percent
* The Stephen King Paradox
Date: 11 Jun 2001 17:59:33 -0000
From: Wayne Parrott
Subject: Re: AGBIOVIEW: Science, MAS, Allergies, What's Organic?, Sri
Lanka, Skptical Environmenalist, Singapore,
Please read the statement on Brazil-nut soybean carefully. This is one
incident that has been so misrepresented by various groups, to where it
has almost achieved the status of an urban legend. This soybean **never**
reached commercial development. This soybean was developed with the
intent of increasing the methionine content of soybean. At the
development stage of the product, as per the FDA regulations of 1994, this
soybean **was tested** for allergenicity, given that the transgene came
from a common food allergen. The transgenic soybean was found to be an
development on it was stopped long before reaching the commercial stage.
>Questions: why this transgenic soy was developed as a commercial
>in the first place? why wasn't the allergy issue assesed or
>the developmental stage of that project?
Date: 11 Jun 2001 17:21:36 -0000
From: Wayne Parrott
Subject: Re: AGBIOVIEW: Science, MAS, Allergies, What's Organic?, Sri
Lanka, Skptical Environmenalist, Singapore,
Thanks to Bob for pointing out a omission on my part!
Anyway, there are two main reasons for vegetative propagation
1) the plant being propagated is sterile, and there is no other choice
2) the plant being propagated is fertile, but will not breed true to
Date: Jun 11 2001 22:20:52 EDT
From: Malcolm Livingstone
Subject: NLP and markers
I have looked at the site recommended by the NLP in their attempt to
convince us that markers will solve all agricultural problems.
Interestingly the article is not one about markers at all but about the use
of variety mixtures in conventional agriculture. For example that the use
of 3 varieties of barley in the same field can increase yield and disease
resistance. In fact this approach is another example of agricultural
science looking for ways to address real agricultural problems. This is
exactly the rationale for developing GM crops. I have reproduced a section
of text from the article below. If you replace the word "mixtures" with "GM
crops" you have an example of the message many of us have been trying to
get across on this site.
"Mixtures may not be the full answer for farming needs, but could make a
very significant contribution which is being neglected for the wrong
reasons..... Mixtures should be regarded as an approach based on sound
scientific principles applicable to many agricultural situations. There are
many benefits to their use in low input and organic situations where there
are a lack of alternative approaches for controlling disease. Their
potential and economic impact however is likely to be far greater, however,
in mainstream agriculture, where benefits from using the best products of
modern breeding programs and crop production techniques can be further
enhanced both in their direct yield response and reliablity...... Mixtures
do not remove the need for pesticides but may enhance their effectiveness
and reduce the level of active ingredient required for reliable effect."
Thanks to the NLP for pointing this site out to us.
I would like to point out that for the past 3 years I have worked in a lab
full of marker people and their work is extremely useful and will mesh with
transgenics and genomics very nicely in the future.
GMO Corn Vs. Non-GMO Corn? No Difference, Researchers Concludes
by Dan Murphy
Sound bite: The ability of the animals to digest genetically modified feed
did not appear to be different.
-- Jimmy Clark, Ph.D., professor of ruminant nutrition, University of
Animals who eat genetically modified corn and soybeans showed no
difference in weight gain, efficiency, milk composition or overall health
when compared with animals fed traditional feed, according to a literature
review conducted by an animal science specialist.
Jimmy Clark, Ph.D., professor of ruminant nutrition at the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, reviewed results from 23 research
experiments conducted over the last four years at universities in the
United States, France and Germany. Each of the experimental studies
reviewed independently confirmed that there is no significant difference
between animals raised on feed containing GMO ingredients and animals
maintained on traditional feed, Clark told The Meatingplace.com.
?Nutrient composition [between the two groups] was substantially
equivalent,? Clark. ?The digestibility of the meat animals was the same.?
More importantly, Clark concluded that the consumption of meat, milk and
eggs from these animals should be as safe as products derived from animals
fed on traditional animal feed.
The majority of genetically modified soybean and corn produced around the
world is used as animal feed. In his review of research, Clark confirmed
that no detrimental effects on animals has been reported in the literature.
To obtain a copy of the study, contact Deborah Larson at the University of
Illinois Information Technology and Communications Service at (217)
333-0123 or contact Clark via e-mail at email@example.com
GREENS PREACHING 'PHANTOM PROBLEMS': PLANET IS HEALTHY, GREENPEACE EXILE
ARGUES IN NEW BOOK
June 11, 2001
By Mary Vallis
Bjorn Lomborg, a professor of statistics at Denmark's University of Aarhus
and former member of Greenpeace, was cited as saying in his new book, The
Skeptical Environmentalist, that nearly every grim prediction
environmentalists have made about the Earth's future is wrong, and that
the environment is actually improving: Canada's temperate forests are
expanding; the air in London is the cleanest it has been since the Middle
Ages; the world's species are not disappearing at the alarming rates that
animal welfare groups would have you believe. Mr. Lomborg was quoted as
writing that "Mankind's lot has improved in terms of practically every
The story says that Mr. Lomborg's book, which is bolstered by statistics
from internationally recognized research institutes and 2,500 footnotes,
is a direct attack on what he says are environmental organizations
selectively twisting scientific evidence and statistics to cultivate
public support for their causes. He says such tactics convince people to
invest resources and attention to help solve "phantom problems" that never
materialize while they ignore more pressing concerns.
The Skeptical Environmentalist met with a swell of protest when it was
originally published in Scandinavia and it is already attracting media
attention in Britain, where Cambridge University Press is to release it in
August. Also in August, the book is to be available from Amazon.com.
Genetically Modified Soya Gains A Foothold In The South
South American Business
June 8, 2001
While the legal debates go on, soya producers in Rio Grande do Sul state
are about to plant the largest ever crop of genetically modified soya,
without government authorization. Unofficial figures put the planting at
around 45% of the total area devoted to soya cultivation or 1.4mil
hectares. In spite of prohibition in Brazil, the use of modified soya is
being increased by means of seeds arriving from Argentina. This is
reflected in the marked decreased in sales of conventional seeds. Another
indication is in increased sales of glyphosate based herbicides, used in
genetically modified cultivation, and sales of which have grown between
20-30% during the last two growing seasons. The cost of these herbicides
is considerably less than conventional ones and this is the major
attraction of the genetically modified crop for producers. The question
remains as to where the modified harvest will be sold, as the agricultural
industry in Rio Grande do Sul is completing the certification process for
the sale of non-modified soya beans and bran.
Court Case Against GM Crop Protesters Thrown Out
June 12, 2001
Environmental protesters who cut down and trampled genetically modified
maize during a protest against government trials were celebrating after
the case against them was thrown out of court today.
Charges of aggravated trespass against seven protesters who invaded the
33-acre field at Tolbridge Farm, near Sherborne, Dorset, on July 16 last
year were dropped after Weymouth magistrates found no case to answer.
Simon Fairlie, 50, who was among the group being prosecuted, said: "It
shows a recognition that people have the right to protest peacefully about
something that has been imposed upon them from above without
The case collapsed after arguments that as there were no people present in
the field at the time of the protest, the charge of aggravated trespass
did not stand up.
Along with Mr Fairlie, fellow organic farmers David Cooper, 37, Michael
Zair, 58, both of Stoke sub Hamdon, Somerset, Christopher Black, 45, of
Glastonbury, Somerset, Rowan Tilly, 43, of Brighton, Jacob Hooker, 25, of
Chard, Somerset, and Julie Horn, 37, of Salisbury, Wilts, protested
outside the court after the case collapsed.
About a third of the crop was destroyed in the non-violent protest, which
saw protesters in white protective suits and others dressed as the grim
reaper carry out their action in front of police cameras.
The trial of the genetically modified maize, which covered half the field,
was organised by Aventis as part of a test of herbicide resistance.
After the case was dismissed this morning following a full day of trial
yesterday, protester Rowan Tilly said: "Protesting is not only right, it
is our responsibility if the people meant to be looking after our affairs
are not doing it for us."
The maize trial was one of 13 last year, with a further 28 this year.
India: Precision Farming Need Of The Hour, Says Swaminathan
June 9, 2001
HYDERABAD, JUNE 9. Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, UNESCO chair in Ecotechnology,
here on Saturday suggested precision farming as an important component of
sustainable agriculture and said soil health care, water quality, plant
health care, genetic homogeneity, abiotic stresses and post-harvest
management were major issues that must be given particular attention.
Delivering Acharya Ranga Memorial Lecture on "Science and Our
Technological Future" organised by the Indian Peasants Institute he said
that most of the current biosafety and environmental concerns associated
with genetically modified crops would be satisfactorily addressed
scientifically during the next few years. It would mean that precision
breeding had become an important factor of an economically and
ecologically efficient precision farming system, he said. The tendency to
decry all advances in the breeding of transgenic crops would not be in the
interest of sustainable food and nutrition security. He emphasised on the
points of availability of food (production), access (purchasing power),
absorption (from the viewpoint of safe drinking water, hygiene, primary
health and education), vulnerability (to transient hunger) and
sustainability (of production).
Dr. Swaminathan said that livelihood and income- earning opportunities,
health care facilities, education, sanitation and hygiene factors were as
important for food security as factors relating to availability of
foodgrains in the market and access to clean drinking water.
The Governments must not desist from investing in research facilities
though private and individual participation was essential. The farmer was
not the beneficiary in any sense of Government programmes as the latter
was the real beneficiary of the former. In fact, the entire nation was the
beneficiary of the farmer as it was he who gave us food.
He said the country's national capability in frontier areas of science and
technology - biotechnology, information, communication and management
science, had opened up uncommon opportunities for achieving an evergreen
revolution and not just green revolution.
There should not be a mismatch between production and post- harvest
technologies leading to the Government undertaking "trade relief"
operations on lines similar to those of cyclone, flood and drought relief,
he said. The local panchayat raj institutions and other forms of local
bodies should be fully involved both in identifying constraints that limit
production and in removing them, he said.
Dr. Swaminathan said there was an urgent need for convergence and synergy
among programmes so that land and water conservation and usage could be
dealt with in a scientific and holistic manner. The existing State landuse
boards should be revitalised and reorganised in such a manner that they
could give proactive advise to farm families on land using during the
monsoon periods, he said.
He sought reorganisation of extension services and launching of
imaginative community grain bank movement. Jobs which were livelihoods for
Indians must be the bottom line of all our economic and development
He said the opportunities for new employment included production of
ecofoods, biological software, bio-pesticides and vermi- culture,
bio-processing, health foods, herbal medicines, recycling of solid and
liquid wastes and agricultural and agroprocessing machinery.
China Cotton Area to Increase 17 Percent
by Kristin Danley-Greiner
12 Jun 2001
The increase comes despite the central government?s efforts to keep
production stable, and is the result of high cotton prices and falling
production costs. The decline in production costs is attributed in part to
increased use of GM cotton.
China?s MY 2001 planted area is now forecast to increase more than 17
percent to 4.7 million hectares, with production rising to 4.75 MMT.
According to the attaché in China, increases are believed to be greatest
in the Yangtze River Valley, which is where the sharpest decreases
occurred when cotton prices were liberalized. Further increases are also
expected in the Yellow River Valley, while area in Xinjiang is forecast to
remain relatively stable. The increase comes despite the central
government?s efforts to keep production stable, and is the result of high
cotton prices and falling production costs.
The decline in production costs is attributed in part to increased use of
GMO cotton. GMO cotton has spread rapidly, and is now in use in all major
cotton producing provinces. Yields are forecast to fall due to poor
weather and a shortage of quality planting seed. Sales of surplus stocks
have continued at a rapid pace, but have not prevented high prices from
undermining textile exports.
Even with the drop in yields, the MY 2001 crop is forecast to be the
largest since 1995, according to the attache. It is rumored that China?s
National Statistical Bureau (NSB) will soon increase cotton production
estimates for MY 2000 a second time, bringing total production up to 4.42
MMT. Many trade sources continue to dispute the higher estimate.
Cotton imports are forecast to remain low due to restrictive import
quotas. While imports have increased, they remain extremely low compared
to two years ago. Imports are limited mainly by the extremely small import
quotas issued by the Chinese government, which prefers to liquidate
domestic stocks of cotton prior to entry into the WTO, the attaché noted.
For MY 2001, imports are forecast to remain low, due to continued delays
in China?s accession to the WTO.
Total exports for MY 2000 are now estimated at only 100 TMT. Though buyers
remain interested in Xinjiang cotton, the past failure of exporters to
honor their contracts will undercut some of this interest, the attaché
Analyze This: As Good Times Roll, What Are Americans Worried About Now?
Fresh Low-Grade Anxieties Seem to Pop Up Anew; Frights to Fill the Void
The Stephen King Paradox
The Wall Street Journal
By Jonathan Eig, Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal
Not so long ago, the sources of fear in America were as visible as darkly
gathered clouds. Now the skies have cleared. Americans are living longer,
making more money, and investing with imperial confidence in the
ever-soaring stock market. Corporations still lay off workers from time to
time, but, in today's cheery economy, unemployment is often seen as the
first step toward a better job.
Crime rates are so low that if there's a mugger in Times Square, it's a
likely bet that Disney propped him there to make the street scene more
real. The communist threat? It seems almost as droll now as the Y2K
nightmare. Remember that one? "Never before," said President Clinton in
his State of the Union address two weeks ago, "has our nation enjoyed, at
once, so much prosperity and social progress with so little internal
crisis or so few external threats."
Yet, despite all this good news, a collective calm has not blanketed the
nation. Fear has been scattered, not erased, and for some, that makes the
world more frightening than ever.
"The nuclear holocaust is a rational fear," says Christopher McCullough, a
San Francisco psychotherapist and co-author of "Managing Your Anxiety."
But with rational fears in retreat, he says, irrational fears -- often
fueled by media and politicians -- have gathered force.
"Anxiety is a condition of the privileged," Dr. McCullough says. "When
we're not busy dealing with real threats, we have this luxury of looking
inward." Anxiety has overcome depression to become the nation's most
prevalent mental-health problem, and anxiety-fighting drugs have become
some of the pharmaceutical industry's hottest commodities. The industry
that equips homes and offices with alarms and such tallied $72 billion in
sales and services last yeartwice the total in 1990 -- even as burglaries
and most other crimes steadily fell. Meanwhile, the only things spreading
faster than gated communities are razor-wire-topped gated communities,
otherwise known as prisons.
People who study fear have never seen a period in which rational sources
of it were in such short supply. In response, politicians, interest groups
and the media have served up a smorgasbord of overblown frights to fill
the American appetite. In the past few years, the options have included
Y2K, anthrax, flesh-eating bacteria, genetically modified foods, road
rage, child abduction, carjacking, acid rain, and the ebola virus. How
many people do you know who have suffered from even one of these problems?
Psychiatrists call it symptom substitution. When one fear vanishes,
another takes its place. And when the most obvious bogeymen have
disappeared, as they seemingly have today, people dig deeper to find
substitutes. Something in human nature, it would seem, insists that people
cling to fear even during times of prosperity.
"It is very easy to engage in fear based on stories, and very hard to calm
people based on what appear to be dry statistical records," says Steven E.
Hyman, director of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda,
Md. In other words, the fact that novelist Stephen King was hit by a van
last year terrifies people; the fact that the rate of auto accidents
involving pedestrians has been steadily dropping does little to calm those
fears. Nothing frightens quite like the unknown, which helps explain why
so many Americans canceled their vacation plans and stayed home guarding
their bottled-water collections and why so many bosses required their
employees to man the battle stations on the eve of Y2K. More than 2,500
people phoned 1-800-THERAPIST for help in calming their millennial fear,
says Kevin Grold, president of 1-800-THERAPIST.com, a psychiatric referral
"They were saying, `Is the power going out? Will I have food? Should I
move away from the coast? Should I move to the coast?'" recalls Dr. Grold.
"People really were afraid." With that scare over, he says, people may be
searching for a new worry to fill the void. Terrorism might do the trick,
says Dr. Grold, who recently bought 20 Israeli-made gas masks as gag gifts
for friends. Some fears are valid, of course. People who live in
low-income neighborhoods remain far more vulnerable to crime than wealthy
People who don't have enough to eat tend not to worry much about the ebola
virus. And even in a roaring economy, fear is a very real thing for many
of the men and women recently fired by Coca-Cola Co. Some fears are
useful, too. Fear helps maintain a strong military, it helps keep
motorists buckled up, and it helps business leaders avoid unnecessary risk
and costly lawsuits. At least in moderation, fear of singing or speaking
in public usually helps sharpen performance. But all that aside, the
American landscape of fear has been immutably changed by this era of
success and affluence.
Not many people have more first-hand experience with fear than 51-year-old
Ellen Isaksen of Tarpon Springs, Fla. It has ruled her life since
agoraphobia struck at age 13, rendering her terrified of leaving the
house. Over the years, the intensity of her disorder has waxed and waned,
to some extent according to conditions in the world outside. Her own fears
aside, she says she thinks that for most people, "when things are OK,
that's when you're waiting for the other shoe to drop." Indeed, that's
when many people are most vulnerable to irrational fears. Psychiatrists
and sociologists have long speculated that symptoms of irrational anxiety
increase when political and economic systems are most stable. In times of
war or economic depression, the struggle to survive overwhelms all else.
In times of peace, it's open season.
When Melissa Woycechowsky, a 30-year-old San Diego real-estate agent and
recovering hypochondriac, heard President Clinton say that Americans were
never more secure, her response was quick: "Dream on," she says. "They
used to say that one nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day. Now all you
need is one little virus."
Ms. Woycechowsky treats her condition with Prozac, one of many
strong-selling prescription drugs that have transformed the treatment of
anxiety disorders over the course of the decade. "Imagine being allergic
to people," suggests the new campaign for Paxil, a drug manufactured by
SmithKline Beecham PLC. Last year, the federal Food and Drug
Administration approved Paxil as the first prescription drug targeting
For people with general anxiety disorder, which is characterized by
excessive worry on any number of concerns, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. offers
a drug called BuSpar. Darlene Jody, senior medical director for
neurosciences at Bristol-Myers, says that everyone suffers fear and
anxiety. The symptoms don't qualify as an illness unless they are
persistent and strong enough to impair function.
Over the course of a year, regardless of the crime rate or the economy,
17% of Americans will suffer from an anxiety disorder, Dr. Jody says. "It
seems there's a pretty consistent prevalence," she says. "This global
sense of well-being doesn't seem to reduce the prevalence of these
In a perverse way, the global sense of well-being that Dr. Jody refers to
may raise a new set of low-grade fears, fears not strong enough to qualify
as mental illness. "Maybe what replaces fear is a generalized, low level
of worry," says Northwestern University sociologist Bernard Beck in
Evanston, Ill. "Worry about what you're eating, whether your water is
safe, about your health." Investors don't appear terribly worried about
the rise of the stock market, says Dr. Beck, but there may be a great deal
of anxiety about missing out on the economic rally. These are some of the
fears that most concern Barry Glassner, professor of sociology at the
University of Southern California and author of "The Culture of Fear."
"We live in just about the safest time in human history, and yet we're
filled with a lot of overblown fears," Dr. Glassner says. "We waste
billions of dollars on fears that are blown way out of proportion." Fear
sells, Dr. Glassner says, whether the product is an antibacterial soap, a
television news program, or a new prison compound. Most of the time, the
money could be better spent elsewhere.
In the wake of the shootings at Columbine High School, for example,
schools all over the country spent heavily for new security systems. In
reality, a child is far more likely to be hit by lightning on a playground
than shot in a classroom, Dr. Glassner says. Meanwhile, the metal
detectors greeting students further spread the fear. Television and
newspaper accounts accomplish the same effect. When crime is down, every
isolated murder receives exaggerated treatment, which in turn keeps fear
of crime from falling.
More recently, the Internet, with its powerful ability to spread rumors,
has become a vital tool for the transmission of fear, says Dr. Glassner.
Air travel, for example, is remarkably safe, he says, but fear of flying
grows with every crash and every ensuing rumor that terrorist bombs or
errant missiles brought down the plane. Simple psychology compels us to
expect the worst, particularly in the best of times, says Wes Craven,
director of the films "Scream," "Scream 2" and "Scream 3."
"I think America will always be afraid, in a sense, exactly because of its
great success," Mr. Craven says. In the end, death, in one form or
another, will never fail to frighten, he says. Here, at last, is a
perfectly rational fear. No matter what the social conditions, he says,
the thought of a psychotic killer or the boy next door lurking in the
dark, waiting to "take your wife, life and Lexus," will always give a
"I'm not worried about running out of either relevant material or a
receptive audience," Mr. Craven says.