AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org
* Pondering Biodevastation 2001
* MAS vs Transformation
* Africa needs Biotechnology Tools
* CropGen's Response To Friends Of The Earth PR
* Military Foods Could Enhance Soldiers' Performance
* Bangladesh Science Minister Calls for Biotechnology
* India: GM Revolution vs Languid Government Policies
* Let's Stop Using Shoddy Statistics
* The Campaign Against GMOs In The Philippines
From: Andura Smetacek
Subject: Pondering Biodevastation 2001
Activists from Greenpeace to the "Organic Consumers Association" and
the Earth Liberation Front have proclaimed this to June 20-27 to be a
week of "Biodevastation."
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is on alert for acts of
eco-terrorism, universities have redirected scant resources to beef-up
security, and companies are forces to issue warnings to employees and
their families to be cautious in opening packages from unknown sources.
When will we say enough is enough? When will the media ask the
so-called "mainstream" environmental and consumer actists to take
responsibility, end all links and support, and denounce these
organizations? Why do the boards of directors of such corporations
like Ben & Jerry's, Patagonia, Working Assetts and Whole Foods Markets
allow their shareholders money to be used to fund and support these
Biodevastation activists have assaulted public officials, researchers
and executives with everything from pies and paint to razor blade
rigged packages and pipe bombs. There is no fine line here. Whether it
be a simple pie or life-threatening booby-trap, these are criminal
assaults which threaten people (not the so-called faceless
corporations) and their families.
When they are not engaged in personal terrorism, arson and property
damage are considered perfectly acceptable "direct actions." While
their targets range from biotechnology research to a coffee company
which represents the evils of globalization (Starbucks) they often
miss their intended targets and destroy or cause damage to unrelated
neighbors. Their response? Acceptable collateral damage in their war
to prevent people from harming their view of the natural order.
The Biodev.org web site provides activists with information on how to
engage in these so-called "non-violent direct actions" against people
who disagree with their views and public and private property used in
any to promote research or commerce relating to technology they
oppose. The "teach-ins" here and those sponsored by the Ruckus Society
are attended by such well-known defenders of the public as consumer
rights guru Ralph Nader, organic agriculture advocate Jim Hightower
and anti-milk activists Steve Wilson and Jane Akre. These trainings
provide instruction on how to conduct these assaults, avoid arrest
while engaged in illegal acts and how to hinder prosecution if caught.
So how is it that the media allow these organizations and individuals
to go unchallenged on such issues as these illegal tactics, unfounded
claims of health and environmental damage and who funds them in these
This week please take a public stand. Take five minutes and write a
letter to the editor of your local paper, call your favorite local
elected official or send an e-mail to one of the companies which funds
these groups to ask them to denounce the terrorism, stop the
misleading fear campaigns against technology an d expose the interest
groups which fund them.
From: Paul van Sant (firstname.lastname@example.org) ; Friday, June 15,
As a former member of Greenpeace in Europe I could not agree more with
your recent postings citing concerns about the direction and
leadership of the so-called ecology movement. The ecological movement
today has been coopted by radical extremists who use issues like
biotechnology to achieve anarchist and socialist causes. Their use of
criminal and violent means to achieve these has caused me to cancel my
membership in Greenpeace.
These radicals masquerade as defenders of health and the environment,
but their real causes are political and economic. I am not sad to have
been a member as the people and causes of Greenpeace 20 years ago were
just -- nuclear arms, war...
However, attacks on science which can help the environment, allieviate
poverty (the major cause of war) and improve lives is a sick
distortion of a positive history of social concern.
Other former members of Greenpeace, such as former President Patrick
Moore, share these concerns. I am sure they too appreciate your comments.
Thank you again for sharing your views.
Dr. Paul van Sant, United Kingdom
From: Thomas Bjorkman
Subject: MAS vs Transformation
Rick Roush wrote:
>However, marker assisted selection is not an alternative to all
This does seem to be widely unappreciated. MAS can be really useful
when the trait you want is in your breeding population. Selecting for
hard-to-score traits with MAS can give a better product more quickly
than can transgenic introduction of a gene whose effect on hundreds of
economically and environmentally important criteria are unknown and
However, transgenic applications are the only practical choice if the
trait of interest is not in the breeding population. It is for
extremely valuable traits that the enormous expense of producing a
commercially viable crop variety is justified.
It should rarely be difficult to choose the better strategy if you are
familiar with the sources of traits that are available.
>Marker assisted selection and probably all manner of "classical"
>breeding have been underfunded relative to their public benefits for
>decades, and perhaps even more so as governments and university
>administrators have seized on transgenic crops as the latest thing.
An perhaps this is changing somewhat as the once derided "classical
breeding" becomes a central part of the hot new "genomics."
Africa needs Biotechnology Tools to Aid in Sustainable Development and
- Joint AfricaBio-EuropaBio Press Release
Brussels, 21 June 2001. - The ability of African countries to access,
assess and utilise biotechnology, is crucial for future economic
development in Africa. Agricultural biotechnology projects for
small-scale cotton farmers in South-Africa show that this technology
has a role to play in sustainable agriculture. Dr John Wafula said
during a visit of African biotechnology stakeholders to the EC, "We
want the European Union to aid Africans in the utilisation of
biotechnology in a responsible and safe way, thus improving the
livelihood of the communities in Africa." Dr. Wafula is the Deputy
Director of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), and his
sentiments are echoed by AfricaBio - the Biotechnology Stakeholders'
Over 70% of Africans are involved in agriculture. Says Dr Jocelyn
Webster, the Executive Director of AfricaBio: "Agricultural
biotechnology allows African farmers to have access to new technology
packaged in the seed and does not require costly mechanised systems."
Bananas are a staple diet in large parts of sub-Saharan Africa. KARI
developed a technique of tissue-culturing bananas to ensure seedlings
are free of harmful fungi and bacteria and thus a useful way of
increasing productivity. Dr. Wafula refers to projects like these as
key to agricultural development in Africa: "African countries need
biosafety structures in place so that each nation can assess the
technology and make informed decisions about its safe and responsible
application. However, African nations need to ensure that their
legislation is not so restrictive that the benefits of biotechnology
can not be realised."
To Hugo Schepens, Secretary-General of EuropaBio, the visit of the
African biotechnology industry delegation was a unique opportunity to
show that we should encourage African solutions for Africa. "Your
visit confronted EU policy-makers with a set of authoritative voices,
speaking directly for the continent they represent," Schepens said,
"Information about the problems of Africa should not only come from
European groups and their political supporters who claim to speak for
AfricaBio, the African Biotechnology Association for Food, Feed and
Fibre through the safe and responsible application of biotechnology,
represents 90 members: retailers, processors, growers, producers,
related associations and forums, as well as research organisations and
EuropaBio represents 40 corporate members operating world wide and 13
national biotechnology associations (totalling around 700 SMEs)
involved in research and development, testing, manufacturing and
distribution of biotechnology products. EuropaBio, the voice of
European bioindustries, aims to be a promoting force for biotechnology
and to present its proposals to industry, politicians, regulators,
NGOs, and the public at large.
For further information please contact: Dr Jocelyn WEBSTER, Executive
Director AfricaBio, ph. + 27 12 667 2689, fax: +27 12 667 1920, or
e-mail: email@example.com Paul MUYS, Communications Manager
EuropaBio, ph. + 32 2 739 11 74, fax : +32 739 11 80 or e-mail :
CropGen's Response To Friends Of The Earth Press Release
The Friends of the Earth statement (see below) flies in the face of
all available evidence. No GM product is licensed for human food sale
until it has satisfactorily passed years of testing for possible
untoward health hazards. Indeed, only GM foods undergo such testing,
so they are in fact, the safest of all. The statement makes the
fashionable claim that government regulations sacrifice human health
safety to company profits. As usual with such statements, there is
assertion without foundation. There has not been one single
substantiated instance of danger to human health from GM foods, in
spite of hundreds of millions of people having eaten them for years.
Professor Vivian Moses, Chairman of CropGen Panel
For more information / to arrange a telephone interview with Prof
Vivian Moses about this, this afternoon, please call Dr Mike Brannan
on 0207 853 2237. CropGen is an information initiative designed to
make the case for crop biotechnology. It is funded by industry but
operates independently of it. Website: www.cropgen.org
FOE: The Great Food Gamble: New GM Report Questions Safety Claims
The way GM foods are approved is not sufficient to protect human or
animal health, a new report by Friends of the Earth concludes . "The
Great Food Gamble" shows that current procedures are unlikely to pick
up unexpected health effects, such as toxins or allergens, that may be
created by GM foods. This problem is likely to be made worse by future
GM foods, which are likely to use more complicated modifications.
In particular the report highlights: The Challenges of GM food
Imprecise and blunt methods are currently used to insert new genes,
which contrasts with the tight and precise control of native genes.
Unexplained alterations in the composition of GM crops have already
been observed for GM foods already on the market.
"Substantial equivalence" This concept is used as a baseline for GM
safety tests. If the company can show that the GM food is similar to
conventional food then it does not need to carry out proper safety
testing. However a number of foods that show significant differences
in composition have unexplainably been accepted as "substantially
equivalent". In addition, there are differing definitions around the
world and foods that have been approved for example in the USA, have
been rejected or severely criticised by the EU.
Lack of scientific scrutiny Very few of the safety studies carried out
by biotech companies have been published and made available for
scientific scrutiny. In addition some companies refuse to put key
safety data into the public domain whilst publicly stating that their
products have gone through "extensive safety trials."
Higher risks in developing countries: Many GM foods show changes in
composition to their conventional counterparts. The impacts of this on
developing countries where sometimes a single food makes up a
substantial part of the diet is a major concern. For example maize
provides up to 59% of the daily protein for people in Central America.
Richer people eat a more varied diet.
The US's GM guinea pigs : Until May last year there was no statutory
oversight for GM crops in the US, only a voluntary consultation
procedure. Over 45 foods are thought to be on the market with no
monitoring or labelling. Any attempts to monitor for health effects at
this stage would be extremely difficult if not impossible.
Adrian Bebb, GM Food Campaigner for Friends of the Earth said: "This
report sounds the alarm bell over GM food safety. There is clearly a
large difference between our ability to create GM crops and foods, and
our ability to test whether they are safe to eat. If there was ever a
case for a freeze on GM foods then it would be now.
With a new food ministry in the UK there is a real opportunity for
the Government to rethink it's previous enthusiasm for GM foods and to
put human safety before the profit margins of the biotech companies."
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. For example, Aventis' T25 herbicide tolerant maize shows
differences in amino acid composition and significant differences in
fatty acid composition. Novartis' insect-resistant Bt 176 maize shows
"sporadic statistically significant differences between the
genetically modified maize and control maize" (Novartis Safety
2. For example, Novartis has refused to release the data of its safety
tests for Bt176 maize.
The Great Food Gamble can be found on the Friends of the Earth website
Adrian Bebb 0113 242 8153 (Dir.) 0771 2843211(Mobile) 07654 664973 (Pgr)
Neil Verlander; Press Office; Friends of the Earth; 020 7566 1649 (t)
020 7490 0881 (f)
Military Foods Could Enhance Soldiers' Performance By 2025
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. As Napoleon Bonaparte was preparing to invade
Russia in 1809, one of his largest obstacles wasn't firepower or
fortifications, but food. His challenge to find a method to keep food
fresh and transportable gave rise to the famous dictum, "An army
travels on its stomach" and to the technology of the tin can.
Today's modern army is just as concerned about feeding the troops as
Napoleon was two centuries ago. But the U.S. soldiers of 2025 will be
eating foods that are a combination of hometown comfort and space-age
wizardry. "Opportunities in Biotechnology for Future Army
Applications," a report released today (Wednesday, 6/20) by the
National Research Council's Board on Army Science and Technology, lays
out a vision of foods and agricultural activities that will keep
future warriors fed, disease-free and even safe from friendly fire.
The report was prepared by a 16-member committee of university and
industry scientists. Purdue University's Michael Ladisch,
distinguished professor of agricultural and biological engineering and
distinguished professor of biomedical engineering, chaired the NRC
The committee's report states that genetically engineered foods could
play a major role in reshaping how the U.S. Army feeds its troops.
"Biotechnology and biological materials have potential to greatly
improve the logistical support of the Army," Ladisch says.
"Genetically engineered foods have a role to play, not only through
functional foods, but also through foods that can grow quickly." One
example mentioned in the report is the creation of plants that could
grow in days instead of weeks, foods that are already being developed
for use on space missions to Mars. "These plants may not be used to
create gourmet meals, but these could be critical in a survival
situation," Ladisch says.
One of the most serious problems in combat is the potential for what
the military calls unintentional fratricide, and is known to the
public as friendly fire casualties: confused troops firing on their
own comrades. The NRC report recommends that soldiers' food could
contain edible compounds, called biomarkers, that would be used to
identify U.S. soldiers in combat or in peacekeeping actions. The
report states: "The presence of particular biological organisms or
attributes could be used to help identify, trace or track
individuals." Tagging soldiers through their food could allow them to
be tracked on the ground or even via remote sensing satellites. The
report notes that being able to accurately distinguish between
friendly forces and units could significantly improve the Army's
command and control. The report also suggests making foods more
digestible by including edible enzymes. "More efficiently digested
foods would mean that more calories could be transported to troops for
the same amount of weight," the report states.
Robert Love, director of the NRC study, says that food is a major
logistics consideration on the battlefield. "The Army is always
concerned about logistics because it translates into being more
effective in combat with fewer resources," he says. "A lot of the
advances in biotechnology are going to have the effect of making
things smaller and lighter, and that includes the food that a soldier
eats." Another important area of inquiry for military research is in
functional foods, which are foods that can deliver extra nutrients or
other healthful ingredients. Since antiquity, as many soldiers have
died from disease as have perished in combat. The NRC report suggests
that edible vaccines, which are currently being developed, could also
be used by soldiers in the field to fend off common ailments or
diarrhea caused by intestinal viruses.
A common, serious problem for combat soldiers is dysentery, which is
an irritation of the colon that can be caused by chemicals, bacteria,
protozoa or intestinal worms. Dysentery could also be lessened through
functional foods containing specialized components, the report states.
Field rations would also contain antimicrobial factors that would
reduce or eliminate the need to send power refrigeration equipment
into the field, or could be used to fend off common diseases that
soldiers might be exposed to. The report suggests that such
anti-infection agents would be made from edible proteins or peptides
instead of pharmaceuticals. Even a soldier's comfort would be
increased by the food they eat: The report envisions candy bars with
specialized nutrients that could elevate body temperatures in cold
weather or reduce susceptibility to detection by enemy sensors. "There
is a great deal that can be done with foods through biotechnology to
enhance a soldier's performance on the battlefield," Love says.
Bangladesh Science Minister Calls for Biotechnology
Biotechnology is the cutting-edge of science. The tools of
Biotechnology are poised for both a challenge and tremendous
opportunity for growth and development of mankind. The world is
facing over increasing and tremendous challenges of hyperbolic growth
of population, environmental degradation including loss of
Biodiversity at alarming rate, deforestation and desertification and
depletion of natural resources.
With the development of biotechnology there arise great hope and
aspiration to use this tools of Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology to
boost the world food production aiming at food security as well as to
enhance the quality of life through sustainable agriculture practice
and sustainable use of other natural resources.
We need to tap the full potential of Biotechnology. To this end with
the installation of National Institute of Biotechnology, one requisite
has been fulfilled; however, there also exists a need for a regulation
or guideline for safer handling of GMOs and smooth conduct of
Biotechnology research. I am happy to note that Biosafety Guideline
of Bangladesh has already been formulated. It will serve the purpose
of the research scientist, entrepreneurs and Industrialists who are
interested in Biotechnology and its commercialized products.
I wish to thank all the experts, the institutions, and the Ministries
which provided valuable inputs for the formulation of the guideline.
I am confident that our scientists and entrepreneurs will come forward
to make a headway in biotechnological research and product development
for the benefit of the vast impoverished people of the land.
Muhammad Noor Uddin Khan, Minister, Science & Technology, Bangladesh
The second half of this century is the era of molecular biology as
analogously the first half is the age of atomic physics. The dawn of
the coming century will be embraced with the biotechnology revolution.
The developed world due to their predominance in Science and
Technology, already find ways to equip themselves with this tool which
is evident from the multibillion dollar project of Human Genome.
Paradoxically, the need of this untapped technology is more crucial,
more pressing for the developing world in order to cope with ever
increasing and culminated problems of malnutrition, scarcity of food
and lack of health care.
Bangladesh is a least-developed country where man-land ratio is
acutely adverse to the whole of ecosystem and natural resources.
Obviously for us the need of the hour is sustainable use of natural
resources as well as of the ecosystem. Challenges of the poverty,
degradation of the environment and momentum of the population growth
are interwoven and interlinked. In order to stop depletion of natural
resources and to achieve eco-friendly environment we need to come out
of the trap of abject poverty.
Biotechnology has a great prospect to alleviate poverty by increasing
agricultural productivity and the development of new foods sources
through plant breeding, with simultaneous stimulation to other
sectors. Bangladesh, being a tropical and riverine country, this tool
has also great potential in exploring aquaculture, in conservation and
in bioprospecting of our rich biodiversity.
It is well understood that biotechnological guideline is a
prerequisite of initiating biotechnological research in a country in
order to achieve the status of safe handling of GMOs and to protect
environment from any anticipated adverse impact of GMOs. It is a
matter of satisfaction that we have been able to prepare a Biosafety
Guideline for Bangladesh which got the approval of highest authorities
and entails the views of different stakeholders. We hope that with
the adoption of this guideline a fundamental bottleneck in pursuing
the biotechnological research has been removed.
This event will be marked as a watershed in the field of biological
research in Bangladesh. In this opportunity I would like to thank all
the members of the task force and the workshop on formulation of
Biosafety Guideline, who have made relentless efforts to accomplish
this task. We also cherish that scientific community will now take more
- M. Fazlur Rahman, Secretary, Ministry of Science & Technology,
Government of Bangladesh
Telephone: 88-02- 866144; Fax: 88-02-869606; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
India: GM Revolution vs Languid Government Policies
By Gurumurti Natarajan, Hindu Business Line, June 19, 2001
GENETIC modifications and the selection of favourable traits have been
the fountainhead of agricultural advancement over thousands of years.
Ever since the days man turned a settler-domesticator, he has been
consciously or otherwise indulging in observation, selection,
preservation, conservation and perpetuation of favourable traits in
animals and plants.
The rediscovery of Mendelian genetics a hundred years ago provided the
requisite impetus to usher in empiricism in agricultural evolution,
leading up to the transgenics of today. The 1960s' Green Revolution is
now paving the way for the Gene Revolution. The genetic improvement of
plants and livestock has helped farmers the worldover to reap a
bountiful harvest despite periodic natural disasters and the perpetual
degradation of soil, air and water, and shrinking natural resources.
In 1953, the discovery of DNA comprising the double helix provided the
biochemical basis of the mechanism of heredity. This provided further
understanding of the genetic manipulation leading to the improvement
of the species. In 1973, the discovery of restriction enzymes
facilitated the cutting and insertion of DNA, leading to more precise
genetic transformations in organisms. The reorganisation of the
genetic code in organisms has been exploited to add, enhance or
suppress traits at will.
Meanwhile, commercial applications of genetic modifications have
created a flood of novel products. The result, cows have started
producing more milk for the same inputs of feed and water. Insulin can
be produced in a laboratory rather than harvesting it from pigs.
Cotton, soya, corn, canola, papaya and melons are more resistant to
insect or viral attacks, or may require less herbicides.
Thus, GM in plants has resulted in better pest control or lesser
chemicals use. The higher yields in plants, besides introducing new
traits in these species, are definite advantages. Consequently, the
rampant degradation of nature is reduced, in addition to conserving
fossil fuels used to for manufacturing farm chemicals.
From its very inception in 1996, farmers in the Northern Hemisphere
have embraced GM crops. So much so that within four years of its
introduction, roughly half of all soya and a third of the corn crop in
the US in 1999 were raised on the new generation GM crops. Canada and
Argentina also followed suit. However, Europe has taken a distinctly
antagonistic stand against GM crops, while Japan has sitting on the
fence. Though China took its time to evaluate the new technology, in
the last two years it has been promoting the commercialisation of GM
crops with a vengeance. Interestingly, it has few takers among the
developers in the North.
Approximately 80 per cent of the world's population lives in
developing countries. Despite a conscious effort to retard population
growth, it will very likely touch the 10 billion-mark in 2050 from the
6 billion now. Here, subsidised food imports from the North are not
the solution to sustenance. Yet, for rice alone, it is estimated that
a 70 per cent increase in productivity from the current levels would
be required to keep pace with the food requirements of the enhanced
population in 2025!
Developing countries have been subject to growing pressure from
international agencies, MNCs, donor organisations, NGOs and other
interest groups to go one way or the other in accepting or rejecting
GM technology. Nearly 80 per cent of the world's biodiversity, the
very backbone of genetic manipulations and improvements, is harboured
in the least developed and developing countries.
Economic crunch: Most of the enabling DNA technologies and gene
transfer protocols have been developed in North America and Europe at
enormous cost and are, therefore, the subject of patents and related
litigation. Over the last two decades, much of the funding in food
crops in the tropics has come from private initiatives rather than
government-funding or public resources. Consequently, the majority of
the energy-providing crops of the developing countries -- rice,
cassava, banana, sorghum, millet or pulses -- have been starved of
funding and deprived of the benefits of modern research.
The political fallout: Powerful new technologies mandate new policy to
implement, administer and manage them. Policy relating to GM
technologies can be reviewed under intellectual property rights (IPR),
biosafety, food safety, global trade and public research. These are
reviewed here from the historical perspective and their overriding
impact under the new dispensation of the World Trade Organisation.
Intellectual property rights: Traditionally, research and development
in India fell under the purview of public-funded research institutes
such as CSIR, ICAR, ICMR, and academic institutions such as IITs,
RECs, IISc, state and central universities, or specialised
institutions as HAL, BHEL, BARC and so on, with government appointed
extension agents charged with the dissemination of the benefits that
emanated from them. However, there were hardly any private initiatives
in these areas. The pharma and seed industries broke ranks by setting
up indigenous R&D efforts, the former from the overwhelming profits
they raked in, and the latter lured by the prospects of a bigger share
of the growing market where biotic and abiotic stress factors that
needed addressing were local in nature and mandated indigenous
solutions to improve the crop yields.
The New Policy on Seeds, 1988, heralded the entry of MNCs into the
seed trade business and also IPR concerns. The MNCs cleverly
restricted their trade to such crops as were difficult to save seeds
for the succeeding generation. Seeds of improved crops of maize,
sunflower, sorghum, cotton and such vegetables as tomato, cabbage and
cauliflower hit the market in a big way. These crops exploited the
hybrid vigour engendered by crossing two or more parents. Such
self-pollinating species as rice, groundnut and pulses were met with
disdain because the seed companies' profits came only from repeat
sales that could not be enforced in the absence of laws that precluded
farmers from saving seeds for the next crop.
In 1991, the government wrote the Plant Variety Protection Bill,
modelled after the UPOV 1978 convention, which the private industry
criticised as being inadequate. Some NGOs claiming to represent
farmers interests found this legislation equally objectionable on the
grounds that traditional knowledge and conservation efforts of local
varieties and races by breeder farmers would be usurped by plant
breeders and private seed companies for monetary gain. This Bill was
then revised to include the concerns of ``Farmers' Rights'' in 1996,
but has been stalled in Parliament more due to the unfounded fears
raised on the ``Terminator'' gene bogey raised by some activists, and
has highlighted the irresponsibility of the media. In its present
form, our IPR policies are obstructionist and forbidding and do not
promote a healthy integration into the world order for ushering in
modern technologies for crop improvement into the country. Some
glaring examples are the patents filed overseas on neem, turmeric and
Biosafety: Guidelines for handling GM organisms have been in vogue
since 1989. These biosafety norms have been liberally borrowed from
the US system and mandate screening of GM crops for scientifically
demonstrable risks. These guidelines have created two committees with
policy authority: The Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM)
and the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC). The former
approves or rejects applications for all small-scale research on GM
crops, while the latter approves or rejects applications for
large-scale research activities and industrial use or environmental
release. Unfortunately, these two committees work under the Department
of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Ministry of Environment and Forests
respectively, which does not contribute to smooth operations.
The Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBSC) is the nodal point of
interaction within an institute, university or commercial organisation
where a recombinant DNA work is to be carded out and serves to
appraise and approve all recombinant experiments other than those of a
high risk magnitude (Category 3). Genetic engineering experiments are
classified in three categories, depending on the nature of the work
and where it would be carried out such as laboratory,
greenhouse/net-house or open field. The District Level Committee (DLC)
and the State Biotechnology Co-ordination Committee (SBCC) interact
with each other and provide inputs pertaining to the local issues
while the latter also coordinates with the GEAC. The Recombinant DNA
Advisory Committee (RDAC) has an advisory role and functions within
the DBT. This committee reviews developments in the area of
biotechnology in the country and abroad, besides recommending
appropriate safety regulations in the country. The national policies
on biosafety presently obtaining are circumspect.
Food safety: As the country has not approved the commercial
cultivation of any GM foods yet, the issue of GM foods versus non-GM
foods does not arise. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954
and the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, predates the advent of GM
crops. Yet, the RCGM policies have adequate provisions to screen
seeds, plants, foods and feeds emanating from GM crops for
allergenicity and toxicity. Labelling is not a serious issue in the
country and is governed by the Food Processing Order, which only
identifies the contents and packing details. Food safety policies on
GM foods are tentative and come under the group of `non-existent to
Global trade: Since no GM crop has been allowed to be cultivated
commercially in the country, no imports of GM foods have been allowed
into the country. However, GM seeds could be channelled through the
RCGM via the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, which has a
definitive research slant. Indian exporters have sought to leverage
the `non-GM crops' policy of the government to garner a premium in the
export markets with little success because much of the export from the
country (de-oiled meal of soya, cotton and groundnut) are channelled
to animal feed markets rather than for human consumption. Our current
policies are deemed circumspect and perhaps will in course of time
make a transition to the assenting or even supportive band as we edge
towards meeting the mandates set by WTO-set deadline of the year 2005.
Public research: The Department of Biotechnology is the nodal agency
for GM research and spent Rs 27 crore between 1989 and 1997 on plant
and molecular biology research with a focus on developing transgenic
crops. The DBT's cumulative budget in 1988-99 for both agriculture and
non-agriculture areas was Rs 104 crore. Nearly 15 per cent of this (Rs
15.3 crore) was spent on plant biotechnology, a third of which was
invested in transgenics. Given the limited budgetary allocation,
tangible commercial benefits are slow to come by.
GM: A comparison Table 1 is a brief comparison of the state of affairs
of GM in India, China, Brazil and Kenya. Interestingly, China relented
to provide plant breeders rights, modelled after UPOV 1978, only in
1997. China's IPR regime is not satisfactory, has weak regulations and
even weaker enforcement. Beijing's compliance with WTO mandates are
frustrated by having to rewrite hundreds of outdated laws, train
several thousand officials and strong resistance from the old order
that has a major vested interests.
Yet, China has forged ahead with the commercialisation of GM crops.
Apparently, China's huge market is the lure for western companies to
cash in on their research investments despite the lacunas in the IPR
regime. The biosafety policy is based on demonstrated risks rather
than perceived risks and affirms that GM plants were not substantially
different from non-GM counterparts. NGOs have no freedom of expression
and this is perhaps one of the major enabling features facilitating
the quick adoption and implementation of policies in China. Lack of
awareness and interest among consumers and the wide-scale ignorance of
English perhaps allow for lax labelling requirements. However,
financial support to public-funded applied research has been
impressive starting at Rs 54 crore spread over 15 years ending in
2001. These funds are now Rs 162 crore over the next ten years.
Brazil and Kenya have policies that range from circumspection to
assenting but are seen to be forbidding where biosafety is concerned.
However, Brazil might make a virtue out of its slow progress in GM
crops considering the backlash its major grain exporting competitors
the US and Argentina face from Japan and Western Europe's rejection of
GM grain. Anti-GM activists in Europe are also working overtime to
keep Brazil out of the GM umbrella lest the overwhelming pervasiveness
of GM crops in the major agricultural economies compels Europe to
accede to these technologies and crops without demur. And with good
reason, considering that the inefficiency of their farming systems,
long suspected to have survived on fat subsidies, will likely cave in
from the GM grain that the US (and other big growers) would dump on
them at lower prices.
GM crops in review: The first wave of products in GM, soya, cotton and
corn, had single gene modifications that enabled farmers to reduce the
costs of pesticides, herbicides and other indirect inputs such as fuel
and labour. Farmers in the North lapped up these products hoping to
reduce costs, increase productivity and improve profits. GM cotton
alone met the entire aspirations of farmers. However, GM soya was a
different story. Roundup Ready soya produced by Monsanto, which could
withstand the application of a powerful herbicide glyphosate (trade
name is Roundup), helped the soya crop grow vigorously in the absence
of competition from weeds. Both the seed and the herbicide were
produced and marketed by the same company. Economic studies have shown
that half of the gains flowed back to the company, with the farmer and
the consumer splitting the other half.
However, with growing concerns of biosafety of these crops for human
consumption in the large importing markets of western Europe and
Japan, US farmers are becoming wary of import embargoes and the
consequent accumulation of unsold surpluses. The first generation of
GM foods has thus cast a long shadow over future development, notably
also because they have largely benefited the innovators and the
producers. The European Union is also raising the bogey of
``precautionary principle'' to deter large-scale dumping of North
The second wave of GM crops is likely to be different. Nutrition
enhancement as in the `Golden Rice' that is enriched with vitamin A,
vital vaccines through the ubiquitous banana fruit and virus-free
sweet potato, which is a major food staple in Africa, but suffering
field losses in excess of 80 per cent from the scourge of the virus,
are interesting scientific developments that address concerns of the
developing world. Yet, these developments are fraught with greater
technical challenges as they deal with the transfer of more than one
gene. However, they are more under the public domain which should
augur well for the ease of transfer to the governments of developing
economies without the limitations of patents and IPRs of the
innovations of private initiatives.The scientific developments in the
creation of GM crops and foods have generated enormous political
controversy. The polarisation between the technologically-superior but
genetically-poor North, and the genetically-rich but
technologically-poor South has been decisive. Strangely, Japan and the
European Union have also been drawn into the vortex.
Globally, GM crops and foods technology has come to an important
crossroad. The regulation of risks, public investment, public
acceptance, and conformity with international trade norms are the
major issues that Indian administrators have to grapple with. Farmers
and consumers stand to benefit from cheaper and safer products and so
too our strained natural resources.
Several pieces of legislation relating to plant variety protection,
biodiversity, patents and other IPRs have been gathering dust. It
calls for a political will on the part of our elected representatives
and administrators to take advantage of emerging technologies for the
larger benefit of all.
Let's Stop Using Shoddy Statistics
- Ian Castles, Australian Financial Review, 21 June 2001, p. 63
'Despite widespread claims of ever-widening global inequality, the
relative gap between rich and poor nations is narrowing, claims Ian
Last September James Wolfensohn, the Australian-born chief of the
World Bank, visited Sydney for some days before the annual meetings of
the Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Prague. In between
Olympic events, he gave an exclusive interview to the AFR.
Wolfensohn said that he agreed with many of the concerns of the 20,000
protesters who were expected to demonstrate at the forthcoming
meetings in Prague. Such events helped to create 'an awareness among
young people of global problems'.
Central to these problems, said Wolfensohn, was a 'fundamental
inequity' in the distribution of the world's income. 'At the moment',
he said, 'we have 20 per cent of the world's population with 80 per
cent of the world's GDP'; the other 80 per cent of the world's people
therefore 'have to' live on 20 per cent of the world's output.
Unless poor people got 'a better shake', he said, 'you simply won't
have a peaceful world.'
Wolfensohn's figures were wrong. As I argued in these pages at the
time, he had used the long-discredited method of converting nominal
values of GDP into a common currency using exchange rates, grossly
understating the developing countries' share of global output
('Wolfensohn had wrong figures', September 29, 2000).
There was no reaction to my criticism, and the Bank president repeated
the same numbers in media interviews around the globe. On October 13
the Bank's Development News highlighted Wolfensohn's claim, in an
interview with L'Express (Paris), that 20 per cent of countries
'control' 80 per cent of world GDP. This posed a 'grave threat to
world peace'. The remarks were reported under the headline 'An Unjust
World is a Dangerous World: Wolfensohn'.
The use of shoddy statistics to bolster such propositions is not a
trivial matter. The System of National Accounts, which was welcomed
and unanimously approved by the Statistical Commission of the United
Nations in 1993, is explicit that 'exchange rate converted data must
not be interpreted as measures of the relative volumes of goods and
The World Bank itself was a prime mover in the development of the SNA,
and has subsequently advised the Commission that 'there is unanimous
agreement among researchers and theoreticians [that] proper cross
country comparisons can only be made once values have been adjusted to
eliminate differences in price levels using purchasing power parities'.
Even more serious than Wolfensohn's statistical errors are his
inflammatory language and the falsity of his world model. The people
of the developed world are not relatively rich because they 'control'
most of the world's GDP, but because they produce most of it. It is a
fallacy to view the world economy as a fixed pie, from which poor
countries 'have to' accept less if rich countries prosper.
Of course, Wolfensohn was correct in his basic point that the
distribution of global income is very unequal. But there is nothing
new in this. The Australian economist Colin Clark invented the
purchasing power parity technique in the 1930s to measure real incomes
in all countries, rich and poor. He was astonished at his own results,
which he saw as showing that the world was a 'desperately poor place'
in which most people lived 'in a condition of collective poverty so
profound and long-lasting that many despair of any escape from it ever
But the experience of the past 30 years shows that escape is possible.
From about the time that the Pearson Commission reported that 'the
widening gap between the developed and the developing countries has
become the central problem of our times', the statistical evidence
shows that the relative gap between rich and poor has in fact been
Of the developing world's 4.8 billion people, two-thirds live in
countries that have achieved faster growth rates in GDP per head than
the United States since 1973. Further evidence that global inequality
has been decreasing is presented in the essay on global income
distribution in the centenary edition of the Australian Treasury's
James Wolfensohn either does not know or does not care about this
evidence. In the foreword to the latest World Development Report, he
claims that 'Widening global disparities have increased the sense of
deprivation and injustice for many.'
Highlights from the 2001 edition of World Development Indicators, now
available on the Bank's website, include the rhetorical question 'How
do we bridge these huge and growing income gaps?' and the claim that
'For most of the second half of the 20th century, growth was slowing,
in both high-income and developing countries.'
In fact, growth has been accelerating in the most populous developing
countries. Two-thirds of the population of the developing world lives
in countries which enjoyed higher per capita growth rates in the final
quarter of the century than in the so-called 'golden age' between 1950
and 1973. And, as World Development Indicators shows, over
three-quarters of the population of the developing world lives in
countries which achieved faster growth in the 1990s than in the 1980s.
Wolfensohn knows the power of the internet to influence opinion. As he
has put it, the internet 'allows you to hit people with information or
disinformation globally'. And in his address at the annual meetings in
Prague, he saw the information and communications revolution as
offering 'an unprecedented opportunity to make empowerment and
participation a reality.The village elder or the aspiring student will
have access to the same information as the finance Minister.'
But will it be sound information? On May 19, the World Bank announced
that its Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics in Europe had
been suspended in the face of threats from anti-capitalist groups. The
meeting, at which 200 World Bank officials and academics had planned
to discuss strategies for poverty reduction, was to have commenced in
Barcelona on Monday.
So the movement that James Wolfensohn sees as stimulating awareness of
global problems has succeeded in preventing free discussion of plans
for attacking the most chronic problem of all. And if current trends
continue there is every reason to fear that not only village elders
and aspiring students, but also ministers in national governments,
will be poorly informed about the world's problems.
- Ian Castles is vice-president of the Academy of the Social Sciences
in Australia. The views expressed here are his own.
Attack Of The Mutant Watermelons: The Campaign Against GMOs In The
By Don D'Cruz
Is has often been said that biotechnology will feed a hungry world.
That may very well be the case in the future. But at the moment,
biotechnology is only feeding hungry activists. As this paper shows,
opposing biotechnology is not so much of a cause these days, as it is
an occupation. And anti-biotech NGOs have begun to resemble an
industry more than a movement.
As the Philippines case study amply illustrates, genetically modified
organisms (GMOs) are being assaulted by a sophisticated,
well-resourced and co-ordinated campaign conducted by a small clique
of highly-networked, media-savvy, professional activists funded by
foreign money. The campaign against biotechnology in the Philippines
is not a spontaneous grassroots movement, but a carefully planned and
This analysis will, illustrate some of the strategies, tactics,
international and domestic networks, linkages, key personnel and
funding sources of the anti-biotech campaign in the Philippines. The
activists' ability to obtain foreign funding helps to show why
Third-World NGOs have so aggressively sought to stop any research
into, let alone any eventual introduction of, GMOs. Because just as
multinationals have a financial motive for developing biotechnology,
so too have the activists in opposing it.
While many of these activists may very well be totally committed and
prepared to fight against biotechnology for nothing, the indisputable
fact is that there are not. They are being generously compensated for
their time and money, and opposing biotechnology is every part a job
(one they may feel passionately about), just as it is for the
scientists who are working to find solutions to the world's great
problems like hunger and environmental degradation.
The source of this funding from abroad also raises some fairly
interesting questions. For much of Filipino history, the desire to
resist various forms of imperialism has been a recurrent theme. The
question that must be posed here, which has been first posed by
respected scholar Deepak Lal, is whether we are witnessing the
emergence of a new form imperialism? Not corporate imperialism, or
American imperialism but the ecological or eco-imperialism of western
environmentalists as propagated by their Filipino proxies? And
whether western environmentalists are the new colonialists?
Put simply, biotechnology is simply too important to be used as a
fundraising tool for NGOs. Filipinos deserve better than this. For
that matter, humanity deserves better than this given biotechnology's
enormous potential to do good.
Introduction: In the Philippines, SEARICE, GRAIN, MASIPAG, PAN and
IPAR are among those leading the crusade against the research,
importation and eventual commercialisation of GMO or biotech products.
Portraying themselves as the voice of the people, such groups have
become ever more strident in their efforts to influence the present
administration. Yet nothing about their own structures is transparent.
How do they operate? Who are behind them? The present analysis should
shed some light on these questions.
Doing so is not an easy task. After all, in the Philippines ? as in
most countries of the world ? no laws exist requiring NGOs to disclose
foreign funding. NGOs in the Philippines apparently do not even need
to provide documents to justify their tax-exempt status.
Strategically, the Philippines is an especially important battleground
for biotechnology, because of the presence in that country of the
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). IRRI has been among the
most important research institutions that developed the technology for
the Green Revolution. This role has made it an important symbolic
target for the NGOs, with their opposition to GMOs as well as to
modern agriculture more generally.
The main anti-biotech NGO in the Philippines is the South Asia
Regional Institute for Community Education (SEARICE), which is based
in Quezon City.
At a local level, SEARICE is an NGO focusing on community-based
conservation and development of plant resources. It engages in policy
'advocacy, lobbying and networking on the issues related to
biotechnology, agriculture diversity, intellectual property rights,
bio-diversity and plant genetic resources at the national, regional
and international levels.' According to what appears to be its
website: 'The organisation is an outcome of consultations and
exchanges among development workers in Indonesia, Malaysia,
Philippines, Singapore and Thailand who decided to enhance each
other's grassroots work in their respective countries.' More
information can be found at
SEARICE says that it was registered with the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC) in December 1981, as a non-stock and non-profit
organisation, and re-registered in 1996. The Manila Times cast
considerable doubt over this allegation on 6 November 2000. In that
issue, an article by Manolo Jara revealed that 'a diligent search' had
produced no evidence for SEARICE having been re-registered in 1996. In
the words of the report: 'SEARICE does not have a ?legal personality?
to speak of.' Admittedly, this report came out at the end of last
year. Since then, SEARICE may well have carried out its necessary
re-registration (indeed it would have been utterly foolish not to).
Yet such revelations raise many interesting questions, not only about
the methods of SEARICE, but about those of other anti-biotech NGOs in
the Philippines, and about NGOs in the developing world more generally.
Headed by Executive Director Elenita 'Neth' Dano, SEARICE is governed
by a Regional Board of Directors, which meets twice annually.
SEARICE's members come from different South-East Asian countries.
SEARICE claims to be active to 'varying degrees' in the Philippines,
Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
SEARICE has relationships with all of the other major anti-biotech
players in the Philippines. It also has strong links with the Catholic
Church's Justice for Peace organisation, particularly in Mindanao.
Though these connections should never be confused with having
imprimatur of the Catholic Church. Such connections are not unusual in
the Philippines, where elements of the Catholic Church have a fairly
distinctively radical character; and where the Catholic Church is a
significant donor to NGOs.
Perhaps the next most active SEARICE partner in the Philippines is the
Community Based Native Seed Research Centre (CONSERVE). Both SEARICE
and CONSERVE are involved in projects funded by the Development Fund
of Norway, which appears to be one of SEARICE's most regular donors.
As far as other countries go, SEARICE is closely affiliated with the
Canadian-based NGO Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI),
one of the leading global anti-biotech NGOs. Former co-ordinator of
the SEARICE network on genetic conservation and use, Rene Salazar,
sits on the RAFI's Board of Trustees. Moreover, RAFI has been a source
of funding for SEARICE. Aside from providing SEARICE with invaluable
counsel on technical advice, strategies, research and policies, RAFI
is also important to SEARICE because of the potential funding sources
that it can put SEARICE's way.
RAFI, though, is not the only source of SEARICE's income. Its other
funding comes from a variety of foreign sources: such as Diakonia or
Diaconia, which is an English Church organisation, as well as the
World Wide Fund for Nature and GRAIN (to be discussed later).
A particularly significant donor for SEARICE is the Svenska
Naturskyddsforeningen: or Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
(SSNC). This body gives funds to a number of NGOs (and anti-biotech
NGOs specifically) in the region apart from SEARICE. These NGOs are:
MASIPAG; Consumers' Association of Penang and Third World Network
These projects have been funded jointly with the Swedish International
Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA), which is the Swedish
Government's aid arm, since 1990; and now they involve 'some 40
organisations and focuses on questions of biodiversity, consumer
issues and information exchange between the North and the South.' In
1998 and 1999, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation gave around
US$1.2 million to NGOs in the developing world through an
international program, partly funded by SIDA.
The exact amounts which the SSNC supplies are not stated in its annual
reports, though SEARICE is mentioned there as receiving special
'networking' support from the SSNC, in addition to the programme
discussed in the previous paragraph. Such support for networking is
important for the developing world's NGO, not only because of the
opportunities networking gives them to exchange ideas, strategies and
plans with each other, but because it gives them the chance to raise
funds from Western anti-biotech NGOs and foundations.
Catholic Relief Services is yet another source of funding for SEARICE.
It has given more funding than any other group in the Philippines for
a 'NO GMO' campaign, which involves education through mass production
and distribution of anti-GMO, anti-biotech propaganda. Some of this
material appears in English, but it is also produced in local dialects
such as Cebuanao, Chavacano and Ilongo. It includes not just
conventional pamphlets, but illustrated magazines and comics, also in
the local languages. Other donors for this campaign include RAFI and
the Development Fund of Norway, both mentioned earlier. There are
other possible connections in contributions between SEARICE and groups
in nearby lands: including the Consumer International's Regional
Office Asia-Pacific Regional Headquarters (CI-ROAP), which is based in
The RAFI Annual Report credits a German NGO called GTZ with giving
SEARICE aid, though this aid is unlikely to have been financial, and
most probably consisted of technical support of some kind (see
The Dutch NGO known as the Humanist Institute for Development
Co-operation or, HIVOS admits on its own website to giving support to
SEARICE, which it lists as one of its 'counterparts', since 1 February
1991. Exactly how much funding, the website does not say
Its website says that HIVOS provides financial and political support
to over 800 local private organisations, which it refers to as
'counterparts', in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin
America and South-Eastern Europe.' The European Union is a significant
funder of HIVOS' activities.
A particularly interesting NGO, HIVOS is involved in a large number of
joint projects such as its Biodiversity Fund, which is funded by the
Environmental Department of the Dutch Ministry for Development
Co-operation (DGIS). The fund is managed by HIVOS in league with
NOVIB, Oxfam's Dutch affiliate; and it lists the International
Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) as a 'partner.'
The IFOAM is the worldwide umbrella organisation of the organic
GRAIN, or Genetic Resources Action International Network, is an
international NGO established in 1990 to fight the spread of
genetically engineered plant varieties, which it views as a threat to
the environment. GRAIN is a Spanish organisation, based in Barcelona,
but has networks all over the world, the Philippines included.
Its principal contact in that country is ostensibly Dr Lina Briones of
the University of the Philippines in Los Baños. In fact, operations
are actually run by a European: Renée Vellvé, who is listed as GRAIN
Philippine's program officer. GRAIN's Spanish headquarters essentially
fund the Philippines operations. Moreover, GRAIN is one of the primary
funding sources of the SEARICE's campaign against GMO's.
Where GRAIN's Barcelona-based secretariat gets its money from is
uncertain. GRAIN has promised to post its annual report on its website
( http://www.grain.org/ ) by the middle of 2001, but thus far there
has been no sign of it. According to that website, GRAIN's work is
financed by grants from 'NGOs, governments and inter-governmental
organisations.' Just which NGOs and governments are involved, GRAIN
does not say.
GRAIN may be considered an extremist organisation, when it comes to
its views on genetic engineering. Together with RAFI, it believes that
technology cannot be value-neutral; that there is always an ideology
behind even the most innocent-seeming technology, and that genetic
engineering represents the ideology of capitalist exploitation. This
means that for GRAIN, nothing can be done which will make commercial
application of GMOs acceptable.
The two individuals identified most closely to GRAIN in the
Philippines are Dr Oscar B. Zamora (who is a member of GRAIN's board)
and Dr Lina Briones, mentioned above. Both these figures are also very
active in MASIPAG, another anti-biotech NGO (to be discussed later)
and also happen to be members of that body. In fact, GRAIN and MASIPAG
have a very close working relationship.
GRAIN started with a campaign against the high-yielding rice varieties
being developed by the IRRI in Los Baños. As a consequence of this
start, GRAIN makes operating in this region of the country a priority.
More broadly, GRAIN is active within the so-called 'anti-imperialist'
movement. In 1996, it initiated La Via Campesina, a Honduras-based
NGO, comprising an international alliance of peasants, farmers and
rural workers in the Third World (http://ns.rds.org.hn/via/)
Another member of the same alliance is the Kilusan ng Mga Magbubikid
ng Pilipinas, or Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP). It
describes itself on its own website (http://www.geocities.com/kmp_ph/)
as 'the most militant peasant federation in the Philippines', and it
lays claim to having 'effective leadership over a total of 800,000
rural people.' KMP is a prominent player in the global movement of
'anti-imperialist' groups. Its website contain numerous references to
the evils of American imperialism.
The Chairman of the KMP, Rafael Mariano, enjoys a good working
relationship with most of the other anti-biotech organisations. He has
regularly criticised companies such as Monsanto, Cargill, Sandoz,
Upjohn, Pioneer Hi-bred, Agracetus, Biotecnica, Nestlé and Ciba-Geigy,
to name a few. Like GRAIN, the KMP directs much of its attention to
IRRI, which it regularly targets with hostile demonstrations, such as
those which it timed to coincide with the IRRI's 40th anniversary in
the Philippines. For a self-avowed anti-imperialist organisation, it
works very intimately with organisations that operate an imperialism
of their own ? eco-imperialism.
The full title of MASIPAG is Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa
Kaunlaran: in English, Farmers & Scientists for Development. A genuine
grassroots organisation, MASIPAG has a membership estimated to be as
large as 30,000. MASIPAG currently employs seven full-time staff,
headed by Emanuel 'Manny' Yap.
The organisation was a product of a 1985 event, the three-day
conference of BIGAS (a peasant organisation) that assessed the effects
of the Green Revolution. In that conference, participants called for
an alternative to IRRI's high-input agriculture. The alleged failure
of IRRI and the Philippine government of the time to respond to the
farmers' challenge provided the impetus for the emerging coalition of
farmers, scientists and NGOs that organised the conference, and
thereby formed MASIPAG.
By 1986, the farmers and scientists had launched a campaign to raise
funds and their research-partnership. They secured funding in 1987
from Misereor, an agency of the Catholic Church in Germany
(www.misereor.de), which gave MASIPAG P6.8 million (US$130,000) over
three years. In 1997, it gave MASIPAC another P2.4 million (US$46,000)
as a bridge fund, before the next three-year program began. The new
program obtained for MASIPAG a further P12 million (US$230,000) from
Misereor, and it ended in the year 2000. Since then Misereor has
continued to subsidise MASIPAG, as has the aforementioned Swedish
Society for Nature Conservation.
Because of the similarity of their organisational aims, their
interlocking volunteer and member bases, and their offices' proximity
to each other (both are in the same apartment complex), GRAIN and
MASIPAG have been collaborating in various projects.
The relationship between GRAIN and MASIPAG is a fairly simple one.
GRAIN relies heavily on the wide network of MASIPAG, while MASIPAG
depends on GRAIN for funding and international contacts.
GRAIN also enjoys has a strong working relation with FIAN Philippines.
FIAN or, Food First International Action Network has its headquarters
in Germany, but also maintains offices in Austria, Belgium, Brazil,
Honduras, Mexico, Sweden, Switzerland, India and the Philippines
(www.fian.org). Like GRAIN, FIAN was involved in the formation of La
Via Campesina. FIAN is the 'action a