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Date:

June 17, 2001

Subject:

GM crops - Outside God's will?; Burying Rice; Ingham

 

AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org

Today's Topics

* Correct Website for "Limits to Growth"
* More Discussion on Sams, Organics, Food Safety and Varietal Mixtures
* GM crops - Outside God?s will? (Theological Perspectives on Biotech
Food)
* Burying of 5 Million Pounds of GM Rice
* GMO Safety and the Ingham Affair
* On the Menu: Modified Genes - Letters to NY Times
* Activists Destroy More GM Crops Trials - Idaho
* Not-so-green Grocer: Comments on Labeling
* World Famous Biologist Visits SW China Province
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

From: Neil Wilson

Red Porphyry wrote: .....
A very useful introduction to the "Limits to Growth" scenarios can be
found at the following URL:
http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/onlcourse/chm110/limits.html
It does not work.

This one does (as of 18/6/01) ....
http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/onlcourse/chm110/labs/limits.html

- Neil Wilson, Executive Secretary to Gerrard Eckhoff MP
Bowen House, Parliament Buildings, Wellington, NZ
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

From: Rick Roush
Subject: Reply to Sams

With due respect, I think you have still evaded my main questions. Put
in other terms, can you accept that organics are not the answer for
all (even most) situations? Nitrates may reduce soil biota in the
short term, but most of the 10 million hectares of grain cropping
soils in Australia are so poor that without nitrates you can't get any
biomass to support farmers or that biota! I am very pleased for people
to be organic in England where they can probably do it, but alarmed at
the lack of understanding and sympathy for growers in places like the
midwestern US and western Canada for whom herbicides are the most
environmentally sensible and economically viable means to reduced
tillage. You can't afford steam or flame on 10,000 hectares of wheat.

As a grandchild of (and frequent visitor to) Iowa corn farmers, I am
sympathetic with Andrew Apel's recent post. The use of herbicides and
minimum till allowed my uncles to reduce soil erosion without economic
hardship and far better than any other tactics I've seen, even as my
grandmother practiced the most organic of methods in her highly
productive garden!

- Rick
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

From: Craig Sams

Andrew Apel seems determined to miss the point of my last posting, the
Public Health Laboratory Service report that gave organic vegetables a
clean bill of health. He comments: "So, all we know from this report
is that they found one-half of one percent of the organic veggies had
unacceptable levels of microbes. Too bad a comparison was not made
with conventional veggies, but this result just sitting by itself
leaves me distinctly un-reassured. One contaminated serving of organic
veggies out of every 200 should certainly alarm vegetarians who seek
out organic produce."

There were no contaminated servings, not one in 200, not even one in
all 3200 samples. There were 'indicator organisms' but this is a very
different thing.

The PHLS report states: "We also looked for evidence of high levels of
what are known as "indicator organisms". The fact that we found
permissible levels of these organisms in 99.5% of the samples in this
study also suggests high levels of good practice.

The AgBioView website often contains complaints that 'the organic
brigade' are guilty of blinkered thinking and an unrealistic approach
to risk. Andrew Apel might consider this before he goes out on a limb
in his determination to cling to the outmoded and now totally
discredited "manure fertilizer = E.coli in organic food" theory. Even
the Averys have given up on it.

- Craig Sams
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
From: Rick Roush
Subject: Cereal variety blends

Bob:

I was once perhaps the leading advocate for seed mixes with Bt
varieties. Unfortunately, the target insects generally move too much
between plants, especially in corn and cotton. Too many susceptibles
are killed because they move suicidally to transgenic plants, and too
many heterozygous larvae can move to susceptible plants and avoid a
high dose. No one was more disappointed than me.

For further reading, see
Mallet, J., and Porter, P., 1992, Preventing insect adaptation to
insect-resistant crops: are seed mixtures or refugia the best
strategy?, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 250,
165-69.

Tabashnik, B. E., 1994b, Delaying insect adaptation to transgenic
crops: seed mixtures and refugia reconsidered, Proceedings of the
Royal Society of London, Series B, 255, 7-12.

R.T. Roush. 1996. (submitted 1993!) Can we slow adaptation by pests to
insect transgenic crops? pp. 242-263 In Biotechnology and Integrated
Pest Management, G. Persley, ed. CAB International, Wallingford UK

Roush, R. T. 1997. Managing Resistance to Transgenic Crops. pp.
271-294, in Advances in Insect Control: The Role of Transgenic Plants,
N. Carozzi and M. Koziel, eds. Taylor and Francis (London)

- Rick
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

From: "terry hopkin"
Subject:
safe?

In Norway last year (food-borne illness statistics)

Salmonellae - 2 deaths 1236 infected (mostly abroad)
Campylobacteriose - 2326 infected
Yersiniose - 140 infected
Listeriose - 18 infected
EMEC: infected
Tuberculoses- 238 infected
Brucellose - 1 infected
Toxsoplasmosemany thousands; not a reportable sickness

This is out of a population that is over 4 million so we are in the
realm of per 10,000 or per million. This is always the problem with
food safety- it is with correct cooking and correct hygiene safe, The
over driven safe label for Organic foods is where the danger lies, in
that people may well think it's organic so I don't have to wash it,
etc. But you do! A survey in England showed that 31% of all men
didn't wash their hands after visiting the toilet women were a bit
better but 17% were also not very hygienic. 25% men and 17% women
before handling food. 42% never wash their hands after patting a pet
or animal even though a risk for zoonose infection exists [translated
from article in VGWednesday 19 june 2001 who source from Norsk
Zoonosenter, writer >alexander.nordby@vg.no<

So I also don't see the survey on organic food as much to shout about
the scale used is percent and not promill, Further the survey does not
say if organic products have higher heavy metal content than other
products grown without the use of manure or compost which is said to
probably have higher content of heavy metals than that of the food
eaten by the animal or existing in the plant before decomposition Any
food needs to be treated with respect and hygiene must always be of
the highest order. - Terry Hopkin

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

GM crops - Outside God?s will?

I excerpt here a section of talk delivered by Prof. Joe Perry
of the Rothamsted Experiment Station in UK at
the XVth 'Christ and the Cosmos' Conference on
Genetic Engineering. (Published in Genetic Engineering, Volume XV in
the 'Christ and the Cosmos' series. Edited by Brenda Beamond;
Proceedings of the 15th Christ and the Cosmos Conference, London
Colney, Herts., 20 - 22 April 2001. 2001 Conference Co-ordinator:
Professor Alec Garner, 33 Rosslyn Road, Billericay, Essex CM12 9JN)..

I am exploring with the author of placing the complete document soon
on Agbioworld website
- Prakash

-----
1. Introduction

But, my son, be warned: there is no end of opinions ready to be
expressed. Studying them can go on forever, and become very
exhausting. (Ecclesiastes 12: 12)

My spoken talk focuses on a description of the Government's Farm Scale
Evaluations (FSE) of genetically-modified herbicide-tolerant (GMHT)
crops, begun in 1999 and now about halfway through their planned
duration. In this much longer written version I shall cover the FSE
in the second section. In the third section I try to shed some light
on the way that the scientific world works and how this interacts with
the intense public debate on GM issues. In the next section I address
briefly a previous paper in this Christ & the Cosmos series from the
1999 Oxford Conference by Dr Glyn Jones. In the fifth section I try
to discuss some of the theological, ethical and socio-economic
aspects, always bearing in mind the overarching question of whether
the creation of GM crops is, or is not in line with God?s will.
Finally, in section six, I look to the future. Throughout, I base my
arguments on published evidence, and hope that those coming to the
subject fresh will find the reference list a useful source of further
information. However, although the material from section three
onwards contains my personal views on wider aspects concerning GM
crops. I should stress that these personal opinions do not represent
the views of my employing institute or the Research Council that funds
it ? and in a few cases may depart significantly. Biblical references
are usually from the Living Bible Edition.

I am struck often by how many facts in the GM debate are either
unexpected, or are capable of a dual interpretation which both sides
in the argument, both pro- and anti-, may marshal in their defence.
In science, the particle physicist and priest John Polkinghorne (1998)
has characterised such a situation as marking periods where old and
new ideas stand in unresolved tension prior to a breakthrough. In
life, they remind us that our knowledge is always imperfect, of our
need for humility, of the foolishness of dogmatic stances, and that
neither side has all the answers. In theology, Jesus spoke so many of
his truths in the form of parables, and we are told that to understand
these most fully we should look in them for that which is unexpected,
upon which the meaning of the parable often hinges. I have not
indicated these dualities explicitly, but you will find many in the text.

5. Theological, Ethical and Socio-Economic issues
Wisdom shouts in the streets for a hearing??You simpletons!? she
cries. ?How long will you go on being fools? How long will you scoff
at wisdom and fight the facts?? (Proverbs 1: 20-22)

GM crops - outside God?s will?
In this section I address the most important issue raised by GM crops:
can we discern whether their development is or is not in accordance
with God?s will? The verses above from Proverbs, while true, do not
help us; both sides of the argument would claim to have true wisdom on
their side. Prince Charles (2000), in his response to the year 2000
Reith Lectures, claimed that discernment in this area could be
achieved by using our hearts and our minds, that the instinctive,
heart-felt awareness buried deep within each one of us would provide
the most reliable guide. Although this phraseology is deliberately
inclusive of many faiths, for the Christian the sentiment is
especially attractive because of its allusion to the need to be guided
by the Holy Spirit. While it is important to pray for guidance, I
believe that with such a complex issue, we need to base our judgement
on a full knowledge of the evidence for and against. I give a greater
weight than does the Prince to the measured, rational approach.

The Prince?s article ignored much of the extensive and balanced work
done by Christian organizations to meet the challenge of GMOs. There
is no need to restate all that here, but readers are encouraged to
look at the output of bodies such as the Environmental Information
Network of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, Dr Donald Bruce?s
Science, Religion & Technology Project of the Church of Scotland (and
see Bruce & Bruce, 1998), the John Ray Initiative, the
Eco-Congregation Project (launched September 2000 at St Pauls?s
Cathedral) and Christian Ecology Link. Christian ecologists such as
the Rev. Dr Michael Reiss have written extensively on the issue (see
e.g. Straughan & Reiss, 1996). Other Christian bodies who have
considered the problem are the Church of England Ethical Investment
Advisory Group and Christian Aid. The report of the Nuffield Council
for Bioethics (Ryan, 1999), while not explicitly Christian in
standpoint, is highly relevant. Of course, in this volume readers
will also find Professor Derek Burke?s lecture The Ethics of Genetic
Engineering. Indeed, so much has already been written that I will try
to focus on new aspects of the debate.

For me, there are three main arguments. Are the processes of
manufacture of GM crops explicitly forbidden in the Bible? If not, is
the whole concept tainted through the unwarranted usurping of the
Creator?s function in having created life? Thirdly, if neither of
these apply, do GM crops have consequences that must of necessity be
outside God?s will.

Regarding explicit commandments, this is one of many challenges that
could not have been conceived at the time the Bible was written.
Perhaps the closest the issue is to being addressed specifically is in
Leviticus 19: 19: ?Do not mate your cattle with a different kind;
don?t sow your field with two kinds of seed??. Such laws in
Leviticus, addressing the need to avoid ?boundary-crossing? and to
keep things separate, often for reasons of health, purity or
cleanliness, are not kept by Christians but are stringently observed
by Jews. Yet the issue of GM crops seems not to present a problem for
the Office of the Chief Rabbi (Ryan, 1999, section 1.38). An article
during Autumn 2000 by Rabbi Rashi Simon and Professor Edward Simon in
the Jewish Chronicle, gives considerable detail as to why GM food is
considered kosher. (One interesting point raised is that even if the
act of genetic modification of the original DNA were forbidden, which
they argue it is not, the resulting plants would still be kosher
because, as is often unappreciated, the genetic transformation event
happens only once. After the initial GM plant is generated, all
subsequent seed used is manufactured through the perfectly standard
crossing techniques of plant breeding.)

The second question cannot be considered without consideration of
whether God created plant species as some immutable set. Such a view
would be challenged immediately by evolution, which I regard as fact
not theory. On the other hand, the divisions between species, which
in general do not interbreed, appear sharp ? but are they really?
Biologists would contend that species boundaries are actually
indistinct and difficult to define easily (e.g. Straughan & Reiss,
1996, and see section 2 above on horizontal gene transfer). Davies
(2000, 2001) explains in detail how Darwin?s concept of a population
stresses the uniqueness of every living thing in the world (something
no Christian would challenge, at least in the human context) and how
Darwin viewed the species as a statistical abstraction. By contrast,
Davies traces back the view of a species as an unchangeable type with
a ?defining essence? to Plato and Aristotle. He believes the Platonic
view of ?eternal and ideal forms?, doctrinal for over 2000 years, is
deeply ingrained within our collective psyche. He argues that because
of this ?it is not surprising that many people today find the mere
thought of taking a gene from one species and placing it another as
abhorrent?. Perhaps Christians have another inner battle to fight
before being able to resolve this further implication of Darwinian
evolution for our theology? Antisthenes? response to Plato that ?I
can see a horse, but I cannot see horseness? is perhaps too flippant,
but Popper?s question ?why cannot there be as many ?essences? in
things as there are things?? challenges us to extend further our
belief in human uniqueness, towards animals, plants and all life
forms. Note again that the contrast is between the reductionist and
individualistic (Darwinian) and the holistic (Platonic).

Often, this argument is restated in GM debates in terms of whether the
technology is ?natural? or not (Ryan et al. 1999, sections 1.32-1.40).
Of course, some of the most telling ripostes to Prince Charles?
(2000) lecture was to point out that the landscape over which he loves
to hunt is completely unnatural and that we have been ?tampering with
nature? by practising agriculture for over 5,000 years. Examples
abound from within ?conventional? plant breeding of successive
techniques being developed that have pulled at the boundaries of
species and forced reproduction to occur between two usually separate
species. Chronologically they include: the first cereal hybrid,
formed in 1799; the creation in 1876 of the Triticale hybrid between
wheat and rye, now the world?s principal cereal variety, grown on over
2m hectares; protoplast fusion in 1906; mutagenesis via X-rays in
1927, which has yielded the UK?s favourite barley variety for brewing;
and embryo hybrid rescue in 1960. Additionally, many very similar
genes are shared in common between unrelated species, such as those
that promote resistance to fungal infection (see
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/HomoloGene/ for similarities between the
zebrafish, human and rodent genomes). When we realise to what extent
this applies to humans (e.g. Lander et al., 2001) we can perhaps begin
to understand why some biologists are puzzled as to why we place so
much emphasis on these questions of ethics, morals and theology. I
refute any suggestion that these questions should be avoided, but I
note that Beringer (2000b) and Ryan et al. (1999) have reported
scientists as being ?genuinely baffled? why GM crops are deemed
intrinsically more likely to cause more environmental problems or be
more damaging to health than those bred traditionally. The argument
is often offered that GM technology moves a single gene with
confidence in the outcome, whereas conventional breeding shuffles tens
of thousands of genes with little idea, pre-screening, of possible
results.

The third question, to some degree linked to the second, concerns to
what degree we are permitted or encouraged to use our creative and
intellectual gifts to alter our environment and to intervene to affect
life and enhance its quality. Very many commentators in both the
Judaic and Christian tradition point to Genesis 1: 28-30, and Psalm 8:
6-8, as providing God?s blessing for intervention, with the strict
proviso that ?to have dominion? should be properly interpreted as to
be custodian or steward, not master. Many remark on Genesis 2: 15,
where God places Adam in the Garden of Eden as gardener, to tend, care
and work. Again the image often quoted (e.g. Berry et al., 2000) is
of God giving freedom to humans to help to actively mould the Creation
to their needs, so long as the Creation is respected by not harming
the environment unduly. Given this, permission to grow GM crops would
seem to receive plenty of biblical support from both traditions, so
long as they are used to help feed the hungry (e.g. Isaiah 3:14-15,
Amos 2:6, all of Matthew 5 & 6, Matthew 25:14-25, etc.). Arguments
against such use of GMOs in agriculture is not helped by the fact that
neither the public at large nor even most activist organisations seem
to be against the use of GM technology in medicine. To take an
example from within this Diocese, a debate at Christ Church,
Chorleywood, on 3 November 2000, ?that we believe that Genetic
Modification represents a positive step forward for humanity? was
passed overwhelmingly, mainly on grounds of the benefits of medical
research (McLeish, 2000).

To summarize the above, I have answered my own question by concluding
that, for me, GM crops are not, of necessity, outside God?s will.
However there are three important provisos. Firstly, GM issues for
humans are completely different from GM issues in animals and those in
plants. Our belief in the human soul and that we are created in God?s
image rule out, for me, human cloning and certain related
technologies. Secondly, the only GM crops considered in depth in this
article are GMHT. As is repeated often above, each separate construct
must be considered separately. Thirdly, I have not dwelt on the
socio-economic aspects of GM crops. I have focused on the technology
itself because that is what I am best qualified to do, but that does
not mean that we should not be equally thorough in questioning the
socio-economic aspects, i.e. the use to which that technology is put.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Burying of 5 Million Pounds of GM Rice Begins
- U.S. had approved Liberty Rice as a food, but not Liberty herbicide
for treatment of rice

- by Tom Hargrove, PlanetRice Editor-in-Chief May 22, 2001
http://www.planetrice.net/newspub/newstory.cfm?ID=877

ALVIN, TEXAS, USA--Sixteen-wheel trucks and bulldozers began burying
almost 5 million pounds--2,272 metric tons--of genetically modified
rice in a landfill in southeastern Texas on May 21. Aventis
CropScience, the company that had contracted growing of the rice,
ordered it destroyed.

"The rice has been approved for food or feed consumption, [but] it has
been treated with a herbicide which has not yet received approval for
use on that crop," Margaret Gadsby, an Aventis spokeswoman, explained.
The new rice is called "Liberty Rice" because it carries genes from a
soil microbe that confer resistance to the non-selective herbicide
Liberty, or glufosinate.

Farmers may someday use Liberty Rice to protect fields from "red
rice," one of the most serious weeds of rice in the southern United
States. Red rice, ironically, is also rice. That makes it tough to
control because herbicides that kill red rice also kill its domestic
cousin.

Liberty Rice has genes that make it resistant to Liberty herbicide, so
the weed killer can control most weeds--including red rice, because it
doesn't have the resistance gene. "Liberty prevents weeds from
detoxifying ammonia, a product of plant metabolism," an Aventis press
release explains. "When ammonia builds up to a critical point, the
weeds die."

Liberty-resistant varieties of corn, canola, and cotton are on the
market. But Liberty has not yet been approved as a rice herbicide.
Aventis had U.S. governmental approval to apply Liberty to the rice,
for experimental purposes. But such rice is not allowed to enter the
food chain until it gets governmental clearance.

"It's part of the agreement we have with the experimental use
permit...seed has to be disposed of or kept out of the channels of
trade. It's really just part of our normal development process,"
Aventis spokeswoman Gadsby said. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration has approved Liberty Rice for food and feed, but other
countries have not.

Aventis drew bad publicity worldwide, and was sued, last year after
its genetically engineered StarLink corn mistakenly reached consumers.
A coalition of environmental and consumer groups discovered StarLink
in taco shells. Government regulators had approved StarLink only for
animal feed and industrial uses because of unresolved questions about
whether it can cause allergic reactions.

Jacko Garrett, the farmer who grew Liberty Rce under Aventis contract,
said it was the highest-yielding, most-weed-free rice he planted last
year. Jacko and wife Nancy own Garrett Farms, a major rice seed
company near Danbury in southeast Texas. "The rice was being grown for
seed increase," Garrett told PlanetRice.

Aventis had hoped to make Liberty Rice available to U.S. rice growers
by 2003, PlanetRice reported on Jan. 10. Aventis decided to destroy
the rice rather than risk that it be shipped outside the United
States, the Houston Chronicle reported on May 18. The company does not
want the potential liability if some Liberty Rice should reach markets
not approved for the technology. "They're doing what they consider a
prudent thing, not taking the chance that this rice could get into the
food chain until it's approved," said Garrett, who said he understood
Aventis' legal concerns. "They don't want to create unnecessary problems."

But the rice farmer, who is also a humanitarian, added, "I wish the
rice could have been used to feed hungry people or for other
beneficial purposes. The food is as safe as can be." Garrett founded
the nonprofit Share the Harvest foundation through which Texas rice
farmers donate grain to the poor. He wishes the rice could help the
needy. "It just bothers me so bad when I'm sitting here trying to find
food to feed people and I've got to go bury 5 million pounds of rice
when we know it won't hurt a soul."

It will take 95 truckloads to take all of the Liberty Rice from seven
bins on Garrett's farm to the landfill, PlanetRice reported on May 18.
"And here I could be sending it to USA food banks or foreign countries
in famine," Garrett said. "They're dying, because there's no food and
here we are burying food, simply because it's genetically modified."

Garrett also discussed the controversial golden rice with PlanetRice.
"It's a shame that golden rice is not being accepted. It provides
vitamin A that people need in underdeveloped countries where
malnutrition is prevalent, and 1 to 2 million children go blind yearly
because of vitamin A deficiency. "We need to make people aware that
technology advances have been happening for years, and more will come.
Ninety percent of our insulin is bioengineered.

"Technologies will come to both improve rice yields and control
insects and diseases without pesticides. That will help feed the world
in an environmentally sustainable way. "Somehow, we need to educate
consumers, worldwide, of the benefits of biotechnology," the rice
farmer added. "It will be a long, hard battle, but it must be done."

A recent poll shows Americans generally do not have strong opinions
about genetically modified food, but opposition is strong in Europe
and Japan. Genetically altered corn, soybeans, and cotton have been
grown in the United States for more than 5 years and the Grocery
Manufacturers of America estimate that 60 to 70% of all processed
foods may contain biotech soy or corn. Aventis announced in November
that it plans to divest itself of its agricultural interests and focus
on pharmaceuticals, the Houston Chronicle reported. The company,
formed in 1999 by a merger of French and German companies, had US$22.3
billion in sales last year.

Editor's note. Having worked with rice in Asia, Africa, and Latin
America--where rice truly means life itself--for more than 25 years,
watching a bulldozer plow under truckloads of rice in a Texas land
fill was emotional. It reminded me of a poignant scene in the movie
Hud, set in my native West Texas, where the honest and traditional
rancher Homer Bannon allowed his cattle herd, built up over decades,
to be shot because of foot and mouth infection. I knew that Jacko
Garrett felt that way about his rice. Tom Hargrove

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

GMO Safety and the Ingham Affair

- The Editor, Agribusiness Examiner (forwarded by Francis Wevers
)

In his letter to the Editor (Issue #119) regarding the safety of GMOs
in the environment, Dr John Ikerd made a grave error in speculating
that those scientists who refuted Dr Ingham's story were in any way
connected with or likely to be rewarded by the biotech industry. To
set the story straight, none of us are directly linked in any
substantive way with the biotechnology commercial sector, and do not
receive any financial compensation nor expect any from the industry;
nor are we likely to be "richly rewarded" for our time and efforts by
our peers or by the industry. None of us has been contacted by Dr
Ikerd to check whether there is any basis for his speculations.

The fact is that as independent publically-funded scientists we
individually attempted to access a non-existent publication for the
purposes of understanding the nature and limitations of what appeared
to be an unlikely claim made by Dr Elaine Ingham before the Royal
Commission on Genetic Modification in New Zealand earlier this year.
Official transcripts reveal that it was stated by Ingham that the
likely effects of release of Klebsiella planticola, geneticfally
modified to produce alcohol, "would have been to destroy terrestrial
plants" and that this organism "is potentially lethal to the continued
survival of human beings".

According to Ingham, a "regrettable typographical error" led to the
non-existent publication, with title, journal, volume, pages and year
- all facbricated. A published paper eventually substituted for the
non-existent one did not support the claims made by Ingham.
Furthermore, over 8 weeks, the number of GM soil organisms declined
from 100 million per gram to 100 indicating ecological inferiority of
the GM organisms under the conditions, and that the organisms were
unlikely to attain the numbers that would be detrimental to plant
growth. Further, Ingham fails to acknowledge that a very similar
naturally-occurring strain of Klebsiella planticola that produces
alcohol yet has none of the effects predicted by Ingham has been
described in the New Zealand environment.

Science demands high standards of quality and integrity and when these
are compromised, science is the looser and public confidence in
science suffers.

Mike Berridge, Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, Wellington, New
Zealand; mberridge@malaghan.org.nz Christian Walter, Forest Research
Institute, Rotorua, New Zealand.;
christian.walter@forestresearch.co.nz David Tribe, Department of
Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne, Australia;
detribe@unimelb.edu.au +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

On the Menu: Modified Genes

Letters in Response to NY Times "As Biotech Crops Multiply, Consumers
Get Little Choice (June 10, 2001)" June 17, 2001
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/06/17/opinion/L17BIOT.html

To the Editor: It would be a tragedy if protests and legal challenges
destroyed the viability of the agricultural biotechnology industry
(front page, June 10). Genetically modified food products must be
introduced carefully, but their development should be welcomed and
encouraged.

Biotechnology offers a new universe of possible solutions to the
world's problems of hunger, malnutrition and pollution. We must not
allow neophobia to slam the door on these possibilities. ? - TAD
BLAIR, New York, June 11, 2001; The writer is a researcher, Center for
Neural Science, N.Y.U.

-------

To the Editor: A June 10 front-page article discusses the prevalence
of genetically engineered crops and their potential risks, but it
doesn't explain this technology's benefits to farmers and the
environment. For instance, cotton engineered to kill pests has reduced
farmers' use of toxic insecticides, resulting in reduced costs,
increased yields and probable reduced harm to non-target species
(including farmers).

Soybeans engineered with herbicide resistance have encouraged no- till
farming that reduces soil erosion, water pollution and costs. Corn
engineered to kill pests has increased crop yields by decreasing
harmful plant pest damage. Those benefits without any evidence of harm
to humans or the environment partly explain why engineered crops are
spreading so rapidly.

- GREGORY JAFFE, Washington, June 13, 2001 The writer is co-director
of the Biotechnology Project, Center for Science in the Public Interest.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Activists Destroy Thousands Of Round-up Ready Peas In Idaho

June 15, 2001 Genetix Alert News Release (From Agnet; archived at:
http://www.plant.uoguelph.ca/safefood/archives/agnet-archives.htm )

Filer, ID - On June 10th, 2001 anti-biotech activists destroyed
thousands of Round-up ready peas at Seminis research center. According
to the communiqué "A bunch of us around here doing farming and
trucking crops decided to find out anything we could about Seminis.
And then the information we got made us take things into our own hands
and go out into their field one night and rip out their pea plants."

The communiqué continues "These peas weren't normal. They had
theirgenes changed to make the plants stay alive when sprayed with
glyphosateherbicide. That's like the brand Roundup for people who
don't know." This anti-biotech action is the 5th of 2001. Since
November 1998 there have been over 40 anti-genetic direct actions in
North America. The direct actionists continue to maintain that
biotechnology is completely unnecessary and is being developed at the
expense of human and ecological health solely to increase the profits
of large multinational corporations. With the North American growing
season at hand it is likely that direct actions against facilities
producing and testing genetically engineered organisms will resume.
The communiqué concludes "We hope this story will be interesting to
people, especially people wondering what's going on right down the
road from them. Why don't we take things into our own hands at this
point and take out these crops?"
--
Begin Communiqué
To Whom It May Concern at the Genetix Alert Press Office,

We came across your business on the internet. Can your service help
get news out about what's happening here in Idaho:

There's a company called Seminis Vegetable Seeds in Filer and we would
pass it's research center everyday. We started wondering what kind of
research they were doing. There is a lot of agriculture around here
but everything is bigger and bigger companies who don't say what's
being grown or how.

A bunch of us around here doing farming and trucking crops decided to
find out anything we could about Seminis. And then the information we
got made us take things into our own hands and go out into their field
one night and rip out their pea plants. The night was June 10 and we
yanked out over 20 small plots of peas, It must have been thousands of
plants. These peas weren't normal. They had their genes changed to
make the plants stay alive when sprayed with glyphosate herbicide.
That's like the brand Roundup for people who don't know.

The Internet was how we looked up a lot of information. You can get
addresses there and find out businesses have going on. We did a search
and find Seminis's web site. We also went to the USDA, that's the US
Dept. of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
[APHIS]web site:
<http://www.aphis.usda.gov/biotechnology/permits.html>. They do
permitting for gene-modification research. If you click on "How Can I
Check on an Application to Import, Move, or Field Test or a Petition
to Deregulate? (Biotechnology Database)" you can find records about
who's testing wha tkind of altered plants. We found Seminis's permit #
01-065-01N # 321 for peas, saw the peas in their field and it went
from there.

These gene-altered plants can cross-breed with regular plants and we
don't know what they will do to people, animals, the soil, or
anything. It was really easy work to take them out of the picture and
didn't take very long, once we got used to the dark and relaxed into
the work.

We hope this story will be interesting to people, especially people
wondering what's going on right down the road from them. Why don't we
take things into our own hands at this point and take out these crops?
Seminis's place is right on Highway 30, at the 2300 Rd. corner, next
to the highschool. --
GenetiX Alert is an independent news center that works with other
above-ground, anti-genetic engineering organizations. GA has no
knowledge of the person(s) who carryout any underground actions. GA
does not advocate illegal acts, but seeks to explain why people
destroy genetically engineered crops and undertake other nonviolent
actions aimed at resisting genetic engineering and increasing the
difficulty for entities which seek to advance genetic engineering or
its products. GA spokespeople are available for media interviews. An
archive of anti-biotech direct actions can be found at
http://tao.ca/~ban/ar.htm Reporters and other interested parties may
contact GenetiX Alert at: cell phone: 901.438.9907 office phone:
901.458.9907 email: genetixalert@tao.ca Web:
http://tao.ca/~ban/gapo.htm 787 Ellsworth Memphis, TN 38111 USA
contact: Denny Henke

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Not-so-green Grocer; Re: Loblaws Orders GMO-Free Labels Removed -- June 13
Globe and Mail June 16, 2001 (From Agnet)
http://www.globeandmail.com/gam/Letters/20010616/SALETT-4.html

Alan Mchughen, professor and senior research scientist, University of
Saskatchewan, writes that organic and other suppliers of foods
produced without GM ingredients are indignant at the recent decision
by Loblaws and other supermarkets to restrict "GM-free" labels. They
should be thankful, because Loblaws is doing them, and all consumers,
a favour. As a research scientist, Mchughen says he has the lab
facility to test food products for the presence of GM ingredients. The
extreme sensitivity of these tests allows Mchughen to detect some
constituents in parts per million (that's less than the allowable
amount of arsenic in most foods). This degree of sensitivity means
that, just as arsenic can be detected in minute amounts in almost all
foods, sooner or later (he's betting sooner), GM ingredients will be
detected in foods labelled "GM free". What happens then? Historically,
whenever a food is shown to contain an undeclared GM ingredient, the
company ends up paying millions in cleanup costs, and suffers the
permanent loss of a good portion of its customers.

A company whose market niche is based on non-GM, and whose products
are found to contain GM ingredients in spite of labels indicating
"GM-free" will likely go out of business. Consumers demand and deserve
labels are that meaningful, accurate and not misleading. In an age of
increasingly sensitive lab tests, there is no such thing as zero
content of anything. Does "sodium free" on a label mean the product
contains no sodium? Just look at the label on a bottle of Perrier
water, just above the line declaring "sodium-free." (It gives the
actual sodium content.) Until standards are set for GM content
tolerances and allowances, as we have for other constituents,
"GM-free" has no real meaning.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

World Famous Biologist Visits SW China Province

GUIYANG, Jun 16, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- World famous biologist
Niu Man Chiang, a Chinese American, arrived in southwest China's
Guizhou Province Saturday for a seven-day visit.

Niu, founder of the theory of epigene, has successfully created a kind
of genetically modified corn, which, for its' high nutrition and
economic value, is believed to be the best choice for
poverty-alleviation projects.

Last year, the Niu Man Chiang Foundation donated some seeds of
genetically modified corn to Guizhou and the pilot cultivation there
has proven to be satisfactory. This kind of corn is sown in some 67
hectares of land in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region near Guizhou
this year, and the acreage is expected to increase to 67,000 hectares
there, according to sources with the foundation.

Guizhou's Deputy Governor Mo Shireng told the 89-year-old Niu at a
meeting Saturday evening that the province attaches importance to the
test cultivation of the genetically modified plant and will expand the
growing of it.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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*libertarian coordination* We hope to foster a network of libertarian
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