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Date:

June 21, 2001

Subject:

Too Safe; Spreading Fears; Bacterial Genes 'R Us; Indian

 

AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org

Today's Topics

* We Are Too Safe for Our Own Good
* Warning/ "Biodevastation" Activists Spread False Fears About Safe Foods
* Malthus
* "Bacteria Genes" In Humans Are All Part Of Evolution
* Grants for Biotechnology and Biodiversity Interface
* India: Transgenic Cotton Fails To Get Environmental Nod
* Genetic Engineering and Water
* Emerging Market Biotech Seminars Influence Key Philippine Stakeholders
* Biotechnology and Food Security
* The Myth of Golden Rice: Greenpeace's Misinformation Campaign
* Technological Evils: A Thorough Defense
* New eJournal on Patents in Agbiotech
* New Maine Law on Genetic Engineering
* Flatulence Levy Is Gone With The Wind
* Scientific Journal Articles: Safety Assessment of GM Crops

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

We Are Too Safe for Our Own Good
Radical environmental groups have prevailed upon governments to assail
and intimidate industry

- Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, LA Times 21 June 2001

Risks are ubiquitous in everyday life, and we are constantly forced to
make decisions about them. Whether to eat street food in Tijuana, for
example, or whether to choose to drive a motorcycle or a giant SUV. We
don't make those decisions alone: Society imposes
sometimes-controversial regimens to mitigate risks. Underlying the
controversies about various products or activities ranging from
nuclear power to gene-spliced foods is a fundamental question: How
should regulators, acting as society's surrogate, approach risk in the
absence of complete certainty about the likelihood of potential harm?

Proponents of a more risk-averse approach have advocated a so-called
precautionary principle, which might be stated as: For fear that
something harmful may possibly arise, do nothing. Use of this
precautionary principle is sometimes represented as "erring on the
side of safety." A corollary is that a little "over-regulation is
harmless," but that assumption is false and dangerous. The way the
precautionary principle is typically applied to research and
development and to commercial products can actually increase risk.
Radical environmental groups brandishing the precautionary principle
have prevailed upon governments in recent decades to assail and
intimidate the chemical industry and, more recently, the food
industry. Potential risks should be considered before proceeding with
any new activity or product.

But the precautionary principle focuses solely on the possibility that
technologies might pose unique, extreme or unmanageable risks, even
after considerable testing already has been conducted. What is missing
is an acknowledgment that, even when technologies introduce new risks,
most confer net benefits. That is, their use reduces many other, far
more serious hazards. Examples include blood transfusions, MRI scans
and automobile air bags, all of which offer immense benefits and only
minimal risk. The danger in the precautionary principle is that it
distracts consumers and policymakers from known, significant threats
to human health and diverts limited public health resources from those
genuine and far greater risks.

An example is the environmental movement's misguided crusade to rid
society of all chlorinated compounds. By the late 1980s, environmental
activists were attempting to convince water authorities around the
world of the possibility that carcinogenic byproducts from
chlorination of drinking water posed a potential cancer risk. Peruvian
officials, caught in a budget crisis, used this supposed threat to
public health as a justification to stop chlorinating much of their
country's drinking water. That decision contributed to the
acceleration and spread of Latin America's 1991-1996 cholera epidemic,
which afflicted more than 1.3 million people and killed at least
11,000. Applying the precautionary principle to biotechnology is a
high priority for the anti-technology activists who plan to protest
during June 24-27 BIO 2001 conference in San Diego, but as is the case
for chlorine, the real issue is not safety at all. Most proponents of
precautionary regulation are more anti-business and anti-technology
than they are pro-safety.

Many groups do not stop at demanding illogical and stultifying
regulation or outright bans on product testing; they advocate and
carry out vandalism of the very field trials intended to answer
questions about environmental safety. Such arrogance illustrates that
the metastasis of the precautionary principle generally, combined with
relentless opposition to innovative new products, stems from a social
vision that poses serious challenges to academic, commercial and
individual freedom. Application of the precautionary principle
frequently results in unscientific and discriminatory policies that
inflate the costs of research, inhibit the development of new
products, divert and waste resources, and restrict consumer choice.
Its encroachment into additional areas of domestic and international
health and safety standards will create a kind of "open sesame" that
government officials could invoke fearlessly whenever they wished
arbitrarily to introduce new barriers to trade or simply to yield
disingenuously to the demands of a radical, anti-technology constituency.
- - -
Henry I. Miller Is a Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Gregory Conko
Is Director of Food Safety Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute

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

Warning/ "Biodevastation" Activists Spread False Fears About Safe
Foods/ Misleading Attacks on Milk Cause Unnecessary Concerns For
Parents and Consumers, Says The American Council on Science and Health

SAN DIEGO and NEW YORK, June 21 /PRNewswire/ via NewsEdge Corporation -

Caveat Emptor. Consumers and Journalists beware -- Biodevastation
activists aim to target you over the next few days with false and
misleading information about food safety, nutrition and the
environment. The same people who brought you a long list of other
false health and environmental scares -- including the infamous Alar
in apples scare, the Dow-Corning breast implant campaign -- and dozens
of other debunked fears are at it again. This time the scaremongers
are targeting such safe foods as milk and other dairy products in your
local supermarket and at food retail outlets such as Starbucks.

Like the misleading Alar in apples scare, activists use products
associated with children -- like milk and ice cream -- and falsely
link these products with horrible ills such as cancer to evoke the
greatest fear among parents and the consuming public. The harm and
cost to consumers and farmers alike can be significant.

In 1989 environmental activists and their public relations firm Fenton
Communications claimed that the use of the plant growth regulator Alar
by apple growers was causing cancer in children who eat apples and
drink apple juice. The claims made national headlines and were
highlighted on news programs like "60 Minutes." They turned out to be
false, but they cost apple farmers hundreds of millions, increased
consumer food costs, and caused a significant spike in consumer
purchases of organic produce. Conveniently, this public relations firm
also represented the benefiting organic food industry interests, who
were also conveniently funding the environmental activists.

When the science and health community responded and showed that the
offending "cancer-causing" chemical was, in fact, less carcinogenic
than bacon, tap water or peanut butter (Bruce Ames, University of
California Berkeley), it was too late. The public relations firm had
celebrated achieving their goal; "the PR campaign was designed so that
revenue would flow back to the (client) from the public." (Source:
Fenton Communications memo published in the Wall Street Journal,
10/3/1999). And when confronted over a decade later when the false
"cancer in children" fears failed to materialize, the PR firm referred
inquiries to their client, the Natural Resources Defense Council,
which stated, "The message of that report might have been muddled by
the media, and the public might have over-reacted, because we never
said there was an immediate danger from Alar ..." (Source: PR
Central's Inside PR Monday, September 4, 2000)

Today, more than a decade later, the same public relations firm and
the same activists are in San Diego and at local supermarkets and
corner coffee shops across the country spreading false fears about the
safety of milk from cows supplemented with protein-based bovine growth
hormones (rbST). This time Fenton Communications represents ice cream
manufacturer Ben & Jerry's and a variety of other "organic" and
"natural" products companies whose sales benefit from these scares.
Fenton is also representing the activists attacking the safety of
dairy products derived from cows that are supplemented with rbST. Once
again, these activists are receiving funding from the benefiting
organic industry interests.

These slick public relations professionals (often claiming to be from
the "non-profit" Environmental Media Services) promote speeches by
evolutionary ecologist Michael Hansen or fired Fox journalists turned
activists Steve Wilson and Jane Akre. These supposed experts proclaim
that such dairy products cause cancer, harm cows, and hurt small dairy
farmers. But check the facts from the hundreds of real experts who
have published and commented on these issues:

American Cancer Society: "There are no valid findings to indicate a
risk of human carcinogenesis."

Children's Nutrition Research Center (Baylor College of Medicine):
There is "no scientific basis for claims regarding bovine somatotropin
and IGF-1 ... if (these claims) were true, then human colostrum, human
breast milk, and indeed, all milk would be incriminated as a cause of
cancer ... women and their children have nothing to fear regarding the
nation's milk supply."

The American Medical Association: "BST is a protein hormone that is
produced naturally by cows to help them make milk. Supplementing cows
with small amounts of BST has been shown to increase their milk
production by 10 - 40 percent per cow without harming the animal or
altering the nutritional value of their milk."

National Institutes of Health (Journal of the American Medical
Association): "rbST-treated cows experience no greater health problems
than untreated cows."

Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop: "Unfortunately, a few
fringe groups are using misleading statements and blatant falsehoods
as part of a long-running campaign to scare consumers about a
perfectly safe food. Their long-range goal is to prevent the benefits
of biotechnology from reaching the public. Because dairy foods are an
important, widely consumed source of nutrition, it is necessary to
condemn these attacks on the safety of milk for what they are:
baseless, manipulative and completely irresponsible."

So, next time you look at a pint of eco-friendly Ben & Jerry's,
remember, all milk contains bovine growth hormones -- they are
naturally produced by all dairy cows. Supplementing dairy cows to help
them maintain their natural peak levels of this hormone does not
change the milk in any way -- but it does help protect our environment
by enabling family dairy farmers to produce more milk with fewer cows.
This results in significantly less water and fuel use, less grain and
land under the plow, and less animal waste. This safe product -- used
by more small dairy farmers than large -- also helps family farmers
remain profitable and ensure they can afford to pass along their farms
to future generations.

Biotechnology helps farmers produce more safe and nutritious food,
using less land and less input. This is good for consumers, good for
the environment and good for farmers -- misleading fear campaigns, on
the other hand, are not.

The American Council on Science and Health is a consortium of more
than 350 scientists and physicians dedicated to consumer education on
public health issues, such as the environment, nutrition, and
pharmaceuticals. ACSH differentiates between real health risks and
hypothetical or trivial health scares.

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

From: Gordon Couger
Subject: Malthus et. al.

When we forecast the future we are limited by what we know and what we
can reasonably expect to happen in the given time frame. For short
time frames we can be pretty accurate but as Malthus has shown as the
time frames get longer the our expectations are less than what comes
to pass. The problem is our limited imagination.

My grandmother was born in 1886 and died in 1998 and was forever
amazed at the change she saw and the progress made in agriculture in
her life. She quit running cattle in 1976. There has been more
progress in raising cattle since she quit the cattle business when she
turned 90 than there was from the time she was born until she quit.

My point is that change and progress are increasing at an increasing
rate. We can predict with pretty good expectation of being right what
agriculture will be like in 5 years but we will probably sell it very
short on a 25 year time scale because none of use can see the whole
picture of all the progress that going on. Genetic engineering is just
one piece of the puzzle, smarter machines, better irrigation
techniques, better management and factors that we haven't even
considered will all have a super additive effect on agriculture. If we
can keep greed, politics and fools from destroying the goose that laid
the golden egg. The poor third world have the most to gain from the
process. Small gains such as adding enough protein to yams so children
get enough protein to develop properly, a worm resistant chick pea or
barley that can grow in sea water can make a life and death difference
in some parts of the world.

It is ironic that the US that needs improvement in agriculture the
least leads the world in agricultural research and many of the
countries that can't feed themselves shun the it's fruit.
- Gordon

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

"Bacteria Genes" In Humans Are All Part Of Evolution

Agence France Presse June 21, 2001

PARIS - Scientists led by Michael Stanhope and James Brown of the
pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline were cited as saying in a study
published Thursday in the weekly Nature they had evidence to ease
fears that bacterial genes similar to those used in engineered crops
had jumped into the human gene pool.

The story says that in February, full publication of the human genome
-- the chemical code for human life -- showed 113 genes that were
astonishingly similar to genes found in bacteria. That gave rise to
worries that humans were vulnerable to "horizontal transfer" of genes
from bacteria, perhaps through disease or crops that have been
genetically modified to exude microbes that kill insect pests. But a
team that they can put such fears to rest.

They concluded that humans and bacteria have a common ancestor:
genetic material that millions of years ago wallowed in the primeval
swamp but went on to take different evolutionary paths. Stanhope was
quoted as telling AFP that, "These genes are shared between us and
bacteria, not because they jumped from bacteria to us, but because
they were shared in the very distant past, in the very early stages of
life, between bacteria and eukaryotes."

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

Grants for Biotechnology and Biodiversity Interface

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is
announcing a new competitive grants program, Biotechnology and
Biodiversity Interface (BBI), being initiated this fiscal year. This
five-year program will support research that provides information for
assessing potential risks to natural biodiversity associated with
agricultural biotechnology and design risk management strategies for
developing country agricultural systems. The primary aim of the
program is to fund research likely to inform and assist regulatory
bodies in making science-based decisions about the effects on
biodiversity of introducing genetically engineered organisms into the
environment.

The RFA can be downloaded from the USAID web site and has been posted
at http://www.usaid.gov/ftp_data/pub/OP/RFA/mop011084/

For additional information on the program, please contact: Dr. Bhavani
Pathak, U.S. Agency for International Development, G/EGAD/AFS,
Washington, D.C. 20523-2110; Telephone: (202) 712-4939 ; Fax: (202)
216-3579 e-mail: bpathak@usaid.gov
or Dr. Josette Lewis; Telephone: (202) 712-5592; Fax: (202) 216-3579;
e-mail: jlewis@usaid.gov

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

India: Transgenic Cotton Fails To Get Environmental Nod

The Economic Times, Thursday Jun 21 2001

NEW DELHI : IN A major triumph for environmentalists, the Genetic
Engineering Approval Committee has withheld environmental clearance
for large scale cultivation of transgenic Bt.cotton. Instead, it has
called for fresh largescale field trials under the direct supervision
of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research under their Advanced
Varietal Trials of the All India Co-ordinated Cotton Improvement Project.

GEAC, which met yesterday, has also sought comprehensive data from the
field trials which would be conducted in multi-locations under
different agro-climatic conditions. The demand for such data has been
a long-standing one from anti-GMO NGOs like Greenpeace and other
environmental agencies. The trials would also address field level
integrated pest and varietal management issues, the impact on soil
micro flora and nontarget insects of cotton as well as the spread of
Cry protein resistant bolworms.

A statement issued by the ministry of environment and forests said
that the field trails would be monitored through a committee set up by
ICAR with representatives from the ministry of environment and
forests, department of biotechnology, department of agriculture &
co-operation and ministry of health. After an in-depth and careful
consideration, GEAC observed that Bt cotton hybrids `generally
performed better? in terms of a nearly three month decrease in
frequency of sprays and insecticides required.

However, since the date of planting was late ( as much as three
months) the insect-pest load too was low. Hence it was possible that
the yield data and the net agronomic advantage derived from the
earlier trials `could not reflect the true values?. In addition,
Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company which had sought to commercialise
Bt.cotton has also been asked to conduct field trials on farmers?
fields in an area of about 100 hectares under close supervision of
GEAC and the monitoring and evaluation committee.

As the matter thus passes on to the Agriculture and Health ministry,
sources in the Department of Biotechnology termed the move as a
`setback? to India. "The questions raised by GEAC ? on whether the
aaD gene present in Bt cotton confers resistance to streptomycin (an
antibiotic commonly used in the treatment of Tuberculosis) and on what
would be the implications of gene flow by bees ? are questions that
will not find answers in 20 years, leave alone another year of
trials," said a top DBT source.

The source said the agronomic questions asked (on yield levels and
decrease in spray) had been posed earlier and would still remain even
after a year. "If our findings over three years has not satisfied
them, another year of trials will not provide any miracle answers."

Meanwhile, the sources were worried over the signal given worldover
about India?s attitude towards technology adoption. They pointed out
that US which leads in cotton production had Bt.cotton cultivates
across 2 million hectares, while India had the largest acreage of land
deployed for cotton at 7 million hectares.

Still its average produce stood at 250-300 kg per hectare while China
was making giant strides with 900-1,000 kg per hectare produce. Bt.
cotton contains a foreign gene obtained from a micro-organism called
Bacillus thuringiensis which is supposed to protect plants from
bollworm, a major cotton pest. While proponents like Mahyco and
Monsanto think it would help farmers save money on chemical pesticides
and improve yields, critics claim it would pose an environmental and
agricultural hazard in the long run.

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

Genetic Engineering and Water

- Chris Somerville and John Briscoe, Science 2001 June 22; v292: p2217

During the next 25 years, world population is expected to increase by
about 2.5 billion people, with most of this projected population
growth expected to occur in developing countries. The food
requirements in the developing world are expected to double by 2025.
However, there has been a progressive decline in the annual rate of
increase in cereal yield, so that at present, the annual rate of yield
increase is below the rate of population increase.

There are limited options for increasing the amount of land under
cultivation for production of food crops without imposing undesirable
environmental costs. Thus, the increased demand for food and fiber
must be met primarily by increasing production on land already under
cultivation. In addition to the limitations of intrinsic yield and
available land, there is a significant water problem. Of the water
that is available for use, about 70% is already used for agriculture.*
Water systems are under severe strain in many parts of the world. Many
rivers no longer flow all the way to the sea; 50% of the world's
wetlands have disappeared; and many major groundwater aquifers are
being mined unsustainably, with water tables in parts of Mexico,
India, China, and North Africa declining by as much as 1 m per year.
Approximately 40% of the world's food is produced from irrigated land,
and 10% is grown with water mined from aquifers. There is growing
competition for water between cities and industry, with agriculture
being the user of lowest value and last resort. Thus, the projected
doubling of food production must largely take place on the same land
area and using less water. More effective management of water requires
a series of institutional and managerial changes in addition to a new
generation of technical innovations that includes advances in genetic
engineering of plants.

hotosynthetic carbon dioxide fixation by plants is associated with a
large amount of water loss through transpiration. Thus, to prevent
desiccation-induced growth arrest and injury, most plants require
adequate soil moisture. The production of one pound of cotton by
irrigated agriculture requires 17,000 pounds of water; production of a
pound of rice requires about 4700 pounds of water. Recent advances in
understanding the genetic control of drought tolerance offer new
opportunities to develop crops that are less damaged by short periods
of low soil moisture. This might enable the use of less water for
irrigation and reduce drought-induced yield reduction caused by the
vagaries of weather in rain-fed agriculture. In addition, there is a
promising opportunity to increase the average water use efficiency of
agricultural systems by minimizing losses to pests and pathogens.

Although many innovations in modifying plant water use are
theoretically possible, one opportunity is related to the focus of
this special issue of Science on plant pathology. It has been
estimated that up to 40% of plant productivity in Africa and Asia, and
about 20% in the developed world, is lost to pests and pathogens.
Approximately one-third of the losses are due to viral, fungal, and
bacterial pathogens, and the remainder is due to insects and
nematodes. Much of the loss occurs after the plants are fully grown: a
point at which most or all of the water required to grow a crop has
been invested. Thus, reducing losses to pests and pathogens is
equivalent to creating more land and more water.

Most plants are resistant to most pests and pathogens. Knowledge of
the mechanisms by which plants naturally resist pests and pathogens is
rapidly increasing. As knowledge about the molecular mechanisms for
such resistance or susceptibility advances, it will become possible to
transfer the genes responsible for resistance mechanisms from one
species to another. The success of the genetically modified
insect-resistant corn and cotton plants grown on a large scale in the
United States provides a first example of the feasibility of the
approach. Plants engineered for pest and pathogen resistance could be
distributed without cost to subsistence farmers in the developing
world by the International Crop Research Centers. The benefits of such
developments would be substantial in terms of income and food for the
poor, reduced demand for water, and limiting the expansion of land
area under cultivation, all of which would also generate environmental
benefits.

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

Emerging Market Biotech Seminars Influence Key Philippine Stakeholders

Trade and Investment Program/FID/ICD in conjunction with FAS Manila
and local pro-biotech partners have just completed four days of
educational seminars and technical assistance outreach activities in
Manila (June 11 - 15). These seminars mark the flagship overseas
activity under the newly funded Emerging Markets program on
agricultural biotechnology which will reach more than a dozen
countries over the next two years. The Manila events were heavily
attended by a variety of stakeholders including key legislative staff
from the Batasan Pambansa, the Philippine House of Representatives,
the Philippine news media, consumer and agribusiness representative
groups, and, notably, senior officials of the Roman Catholic Church
including his eminence Bishop Jesse Varela of Sorsogon. Highlights
from the event included presentations by Dr. C.S. Prakash of Tuskegee
University, Andrew Benson of the International Food Information
Council, and USDA experts (APHIS and ARS) complementing local experts.

One important outcome of the event was a commitment by legislators to
emphasize science-based sources of information in their current
efforts to draft a Philippine policy statement on agricultural
biotechnology. In addition, public clarification of support for the
judicious, ethical, and moral application of agricultural
biotechnology was made at the conference by attending clergy who are
widely recognized a key force in determining the direction of grass
roots level acceptance of this new technology in the country. For
more information contact Steve Beasley, 202 720-1347.

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

Biotechnology and Food Security

- Lorraine Mitchell, USDA/ERS
http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/aib76511

USDA's new Food Security briefing paper describes ERS research on
biotechnology in improving agricultural productivity and the role of
research institutions to facilitate access to biotechnology in
developing countries to produce more food for their growing population.

Issue. Population increases, especially in developing countries,
create the need for an ever-larger food supply. Many observers have
suggested that biotechnology has the potential to increase world food
output and reduce food insecurity by improving crop yields and
reducing crop loss. As with any improvement in technology, farmers in
developing countries must find the new advances profitable. Consumers
in developing countries will benefit if biotech crops are less
expensive or more nutritious than traditional crops.

Background. Food Availability: By adding genes to conventional crops
to help them resist pests, disease, or drought, producers of biotech
seed can make crops that use less of an expensive input or crops that
produce higher yields. Any one, or several, of these improvements can
be tailored to make individual crops more likely to thrive in a
particular country?s growing conditions, and can potentially allow a
wider variety of innovations.

A number of economic criteria must be met to unleash the potential of
biotechnology. Farmers must be willing to plant biotech varieties, and
those varieties must be suited to local conditions. Most of the
research in biotechnology thus far has been done by the private sector
for temperate-climate crops. Some research on the staple crops of
developing countries is in progress, but this market has developed
more slowly, in part because of concerns related to farmers? ability
to purchase the inputs and the lack of protection of intellectual
property in developing countries. Some developing-country farmers are
already cultivating biotech crops. Developing countries account for
about 24 percent of the 44.2 million hectares planted to biotech crops
in 2000, although most of that production is in one country?Argentina.

As with any technological innovation, growing biotech varieties
requires farmers to change their production methods. Farmers will
adopt the new varieties if the gains from the higher yields or lower
costs of producing biotech varieties outweigh any new costs associated
with the technology, like the need to purchase more expensive seeds,
to purchase seeds more frequently, or to use more expensive inputs.
Developing countries also have fewer institutions to cushion the risk
of adopting new technology. Financial and technical assistance to
ameliorate some of these risks could encourage farmers in developing
countries to use biotech varieties.

Adoption by small farmers is important because, in many lower income
countries, a large percentage of the population is engaged in
agriculture, which must provide not just adequate quantities of food,
but adequate incomes that allow farm families to purchase adequate and
nutritionally complete diets. During the ?Green Revolution? in Asia,
many farmers clearly gained by adopting new technology in the form of
high-yield grains. Countries/farmers who did not take advantage of the
new technology saw little gain in production and income. With any new
innovation, non-adoption can be costly in the long term, because when
a new technology is adopted widely, output will increase, leading not
only to a reduction in prices, but to reduced incentives to invest for
those who have not yet adopted the technology. Those price reductions
can also diminish the initial increases in profits experienced by
those who adopt the technology early.

Food Consumption: Consumers in developing countries may also benefit
from biotechnology. If domestic food production rises, food prices
will decrease, making an adequate diet more affordable. Even if
biotech-induced increases in food production occur outside the
country, world prices could fall, making food more affordable. Crop
varieties can also be altered to provide greater nutrition.
Biotechnology can be used to alter conventional crop varieties to
enhance their micro-nutrient and protein con-tent. Several research
institutes are developing ?Golden Rice,? which will have a higher
Vitamin A and iron con-tent. This development could help to reduce the
incidence of diseases like blindness and anemia that are related to
vitamin deficiencies. Such varieties might be well received in
developing countries. Governments in the developing world will also
need to feel confident about using foods produced through
biotechnology. Several countries are considering regulations to
require labeling of foods produced with biotechnology, and other
countries are developing safety regulations for biotechnology.

Alternatives. Public agricultural research agencies such as
governments, universities, and non-governmental agencies can make
biotechnology more accessible for farmers in developing nations,
chiefly by targeting innovations to their needs. Some governments,
notably that of China, are actively engaged in research. The
International Rice Research Institute is working on several varieties
of rice, including one that increases yields substantially. The
Rockefeller Foundation has been actively involved in developing
?Golden Rice? and in training scientists in developing countries.
Michigan State University, Scripps College, and Cornell University all
have partnerships with Egypt?s agricultural research institute to
develop genetically engineered varieties of vegetables.

Public support can also reduce the cost of seeds for crop varieties
developed via biotechnology. Research costs of developing biotech
varieties are very high, especially as some of the technology used is
proprietary and must be licensed from private companies. It is
difficult for low-income countries, and even for public institutions,
to afford the development costs. The CGIAR centers (Consultative Group
on International Agricultural Research) spend $25- $35 million per
year on agricultural biotechnology. By comparison, Monsanto?s 1998 R&D
budget (mostly for agricultural biotechnology) was $1.3 billion. Some
public-private partnerships have already begun to facilitate access to
biotechnology and the design of new crop varieties for developing
countries. The Mexican Government received some technology free of
charge from Monsanto. Through Michigan State, the Rockefeller
Foundation, and USAID, several U.S. companies are working with the
governments of Indonesia, Kenya, and Egypt to develop new crop
varieties. How widespread these partnerships are and how many of them
will concentrate on varieties relevant to developing nations will
affect the usefulness of the biotechnology revolution for developing
countries.

Other policies can also facilitate small farmers? access to
technology. When hybrid corn varieties were first introduced in
developing countries, wealthier farmers could afford the expensive
seeds and inputs. Output rose, and consumer prices declined. Some
smaller farmers, those who did not or could not buy the new seed, did
not experience the higher outputs and incomes. Often, it was not the
nature of the technology itself, but a lack of credit and extension
for small farmers that impeded their access to the new technologies.
Policies that help developing-country farmers buy and implement new
technology will enhance biotechnology?s ability to improve food
security. South Africa, for example, has used extension schemes to
help farmers grow varieties propagated by tissue culture.

Developing countries would also benefit from aid in developing safety
regulations governing research and marketing of products of
biotechnology. The World Bank?s Global Environmental Fund will provide
some technical assistance; the program is still in the design phase.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Myth of Golden Rice

- Wall Street Journal Europe (6/19/01), Letters to the Editor

Julian Morris asserts ("Boycott Big Green, Not Big Business," May 29)
that the genetically modified crop, so-called Golden Rice, could save
500,000 children from blindness and "let them literally see again."
There is no substantiation for this misleading claim. Here are the
uncomfortable facts that demonstrate the industry's selective use of
science in this case: Golden Rice does not deliver any acceptable
levels of provitamin A at present. A two-year-old child would need to
eat a staggering three kilos (dry weight) of this "Golden Rice" every
day to get the required daily amount of provitamin A.

Furthermore, the beta-carotene contained in Golden Rice is only one
component required to convert it into vitamin A: the body also needs
some fat, sufficient levels of zinc and iron, together with the right
sanitary conditions, especially clean water. All must be available to
avoid the beta-carotene being flushed through the body with no
beneficial effect.

Despite the fact that not a single grain of "Golden Rice" exists
outside laboratories, the industry is keen to talk about its
hypothetical unproven "benefits." Yet there are no valid scientific
means to properly assess the risks of releasing it into the
environment. It is time to ask: Who really benefits and who'll pay the
cost of potential damage?

The current promotion of "Golden Rice" only diverts attention away
from creating a genuinely sustainable future for agriculture in both
the developed and developing worlds and distracts from the real
problems of vitamin A deficiency.

Greenpeace opposes all releases of genetically engineered crops
because the technology is unpredictable and the fundamental
environmental-safety issues remain unresolved. Our position is based
on the precautionary principle -- that any action should be proved to
be environmentally safe before it is taken. Ignoring this argument is
undoubtedly less scientific than observing it.

- Rod MacRae, Communications Director, Greenpeace International, Amsterdam

-----
Response: Dear Editor of the Wall Street Journal (Europe):

Greenpeace has responded again with misinformation on Golden Rice in
their rebuttal (WSJ 6/19/01) of an excellent commentary by Julian
Morris (WSJ 5/29/01) . The developer of the Golden Rice Dr. Ingo
Potryrkus has repeatedly challenged Greenpeace's assertion that Golden
Rice has low levels of provitaminA to be useful and that their
calculations are based on "luxurious recommendations, representing a
'nice to have'-supply." One does not need large amounts of this
nutrient to prevent the vitamin A deficiency (VAD) . The current
level of provitamin A in Golden Rice provides for up to 40 percent of
the daily allowance of this nutrient and has been judged by experts to
be fairly sufficient to prevent severe problems of VAD
(http://www.agbioworld.org/pr/rebuke.html).

Greenpeace's continued opposition to biotechnology including Golden
Rice is a testimony to its short sighted activism opposing
technological developments based on its self-serving but dubious
claims to protect the environment. Golden Rice will be developed
further and scientists will surely further enhance the provitaminA
level to provide 100% RDA and will also address bioavailability issues
through further research, unless eco-terrorist organizations stand in
their way.

Sincerely yours,

C. S. Prakash, Professor, Tuskegee University

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

New eJournal on Patents in Agbiotech

From: Anatole F. Krattiger

A free eJournal has just been launched, entitled: IP Strategy Today
Purpose of IP Strategy Today: The purpose of IP Strategy Today is to
provide a forum to share creative, innovative and pragmatic analysis
and ideas in intellectual property (IP) strategies and management
issues, particularly as they affect the transfer of proprietary
technologies to developing countries, developing countries access to
proprietary technologies in agriculture, and the international
exchange of genetic resources. Emphasis on the implications of
biotechnology are specifically encouraged. Papers must have a problem
solving orientation and demonstrate originality and innovation in
thinking, analysis, methods or application. Issues related to research
investments and management, bilateral and multilateral donor policies,
extension, teaching, public-private partnerships are equally
encouraged, as is interdisciplinary research with a significant IP and
international development component. Manuscripts, review articles and
working papers that offer a comprehensive and insightful survey of a
relevant subject, consistent with the scope of IP Strategy Today, are
welcome. All articles published, regardless of their nature, will be
reviewed anonymously by members of the editorial board.

Visit http://www.bioDevelopments.org to download this and future
volumes, or send an email with your name, institution and country in
the text (information we will not share with anyone else)

First Volume: The first volume of IP Strategy Today is a very
thoughtful and detailed paper by Derek Byerlee and Ken Fischer on
access options to proprietary biotechnology applications for
developing countries and the CGIAR system as follows:

Byerlee D. and and K. Fischer. 2001. Accessing Modern Science: Policy
and Institutional Options for Agricultural Biotechnology in Developing
Countries. IP Strategy Today No. 1-2001.

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

Technological Evils: A Thorough Defense

- Jim Barlow, Houston Chronicle. Copyright 2001 June 20, 2001

A recent survey of Americans by an environmental organization found
that 90 percent believe chemicals, pollution and waste are responsible
for problems like asthma and chronic diseases. If that's your
viewpoint, may I suggest a slim book by University of Houston
economics professor Thomas DeGregori. It's called Agriculture and
Modern Technology -- A Defense (Iowa State University Press, $54.95).
Actually: The National Academy of Science found last year that
asthma mostly is caused by mites and cockroaches. Using pesticides to
kill them helps, not hurts. In the past few decades, pollution has
declined, not increased. Diseases like cancer are increasing simply
because most cancers develop slowly, and we are living longer. "The
alleged dangers of modern life have become conventional wisdom to
large segments of the population," DeGregori argues. "I believe the
attack is a manifestation of an anti-technology elitism." Since Plato,
we've seen the intellectual elites look down upon those who use use
their hands as well as their minds to solve problems. DeGregori
chooses one of the most unpopular areas to take on the
anti-technologists -- modern agriculture. The elites in Europe have
risen against what they called Frankenfood. They're encouraged by dim
bulbs such as members of the British royal family, and aided and
abetted by the European governments that see the crusade as a way to
stop imports from more efficient American farmers.

Technology's victims? Modern agriculture has confounded the
doomsayers. It has fed the world. Today, those who starve have the
misfortune to live in countries where the government has so messed up
the economic system that there's no money for people to buy food. At
the same time we've allegedly become technology's victims, a strange
thing has happened. In the 20th century, average life expectancy in
the world more than doubled from 30 years to 64 years. Lifespan is
much longer in the developed world. From 1955 to 1995, life expectancy
increased 10 years from 67 to 77 years. Of course there have been
setbacks. Strangely enough, many of them came not from technology but
from its abandonment. Take malaria, which experts concede once caused
more health problems than any other disease. It was the leading cause
of sickness and death in the world in 1940. Then came DDT, which
reduced or nearly eradicated the mosquito which carried the disease.
Followed, of course, by the anti-DDT hysteria. Now malaria deaths are
headed up again in the world. Not your problem, you say. Well then
better not travel to tropical areas, including ones in nearby Mexico.
Fortunately, that very biotechnology that Prince Charles so hates may
rescue us from malaria. Scientists have genetically bred a superior
strain of the malaria-carrying mosquito that won't transmit the
disease. Breed them, turn them loose and they crowd out the disease
carriers.

Impressive documentation Of course, for anti-technologists that's all
heresy. I suggest they read DeGregori's book. Now to be fair, your
eyes won't exactly race across the page. DeGregori is an academic and
writes like one. But like anyone in that particular profession who
wants to be taken seriously, he's big on documentation. DeGregori took
10 years to write it, and that research shows. It's thick with
footnotes and references. If you would like more documentation, check
out his Web site, www.uh.edu/~trdegreg. "I invite the reader to check
out these sources," DeGregori writes. "Most of them can be found
online." But he's ready to take on all the anti-technologists,
including those who rail against using animals in medical research.

He recommends that those who really feel that way carry a little card
in their wallet that says, "So as to not violate my animal rights
principles, I hereby request that in the event of accident or illness
all medical treatments developed or tested on animals be withheld,
including, but not limited to, blood transfusions, anesthesia,
painkillers, antibiotics, insulin, vaccines, chemotherapy, CPR,
coronary bypass surgery, orthopedic surgery, etc."

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

New Maine Genetic Engineering Law

The new Maine bill on genetic cross-contamination proposed by the
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and introduced by
Representative Linda Rogers McKee (D-Wayne) has been signed into law.

L.D. 1266 requires manufacturers or seed dealers of genetically
engineered plants, plant parts or seeds to provide written
instructions to all growers on how to plant, grow, and harvest the
crops to minimize potential cross-contamination of non-genetically
engineered crops or wild plant populations. Copies of the instructions
must be filed with the Maine Commissioner of Agriculture at least 20
days in advance of any sale of the GE plants in Maine. The bill also
requires the manufacturer or the seed dealer to identify and maintain
a list of the names and addresses of all Maine growers of its GE
plants (except for seeds sold at retail level in packets weighing less
than one pound), and to permit the Commissioner of Agriculture to
inspect the list when requested to facilitate an investigation into a
claim of cross-contamination.

Failure to comply with the requirements of the Act may result in a
civil fine of up to $1,500, or loss or suspension of the violator's
license to do business in Maine.

The text available on the Maine Legislature's website is the original
MOFGA proposal, not the final amended version. Requests for the final
text may be directed to Sharon Tisher, sharon_tisher@umenfa.maine.edu,
(207)581-3158.

MOFGA's original proposal would have made manufacturers strictly
liable for any damages due to cross-contamination. That provision
dropped out of the amended version after extensive negotiation in
order to secure a unanimous "Ought to Pass" vote from the Joint
Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Sharon Tisher, chair of MOFGA's Public Policy Committee, observed
that, "We are delighted that this legislation passed. It's not all
that we asked for, but it takes an important and necessary first step
toward ensuring that manufacturers address the problem of cross
contamination, and that growers are aware of the problem and are
instructed in how to prevent it."

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

Flatulence Levy Is Gone With The Wind

Nature, May 31, 2001. v 44; p 515

WELLINGTON] Plans to combat climate change by raising a 'flatulence
tax' on cows and sheep were dropped last week by the New Zealand
government. Instead, it called for more research to improve the
animals' digestion.

A ministerial group on climate change has targeted the methane
released by New Zealand's 9 million cattle and 46 million sheep in a
bid to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels. But proposals
for a tax of NZ$15 (US$6.4) per sheep and NZ$60 per cow were greeted
with fury by farmers, who argued that it would force many farms into
bankruptcy.

Pete Hodgson, the science minister, now says that research into bovine
digestion and pasture composition is the best way to cut emissions
from the animals.

=======================

Scientific Journal Articles: General Safety and Safety Assessment of
Specific Genetically Modified Crops

http://www.agbioworld.org/articles/gen_safety.html

(May I request the readers to forward me at
any missing references from this list so that we can update
it?....Thanks......CSP)

General
Betz, F.S., B.G. Hammond and R.L. Fuchs (2000) Safety and Advantages
of Bacillus thuringiensis-Protected Plants to Control Insect Pests.
Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 32:156-173

The Institute of Food Technologists (2000) IFT Expert Report on
Biotechnology and Foods: Human Food Safety Evaluation of rDNA
Biotechnology-Derived Foods. Food Technology 54 (9):53-61

Soybeans

Burks AW, Fuchs RL (1995) Assessment of the endogenous allergens in
glyphosate tolerant and commercial soybean varieties. J Allergy Clin
Immunol 96:1008-1010

Carpenter J (2001) Case Studies in Benefits and Risks of Agricultural
Biotechnology: Roundup Ready Soybeans and Bt Field Corn. National
Center for Food and Agricultural Policy.
http://www.ncfap.org/pup/biotech/benefitsandrisks.pdf

Carpenter J (2001) Comparing Roundup Ready and Conventional Soybean
Yields 1999. National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy.
http://www.ncfap.org

Fuchs RL, Re DB, Rogers SG, et al. (1996) Safety evaluation of
glyphosate-tolerant soybeans. In: Food safety evaluation. OECD
Documents, Paris, pp 61-70

Hammond BG, Vicini JL, Hartnell GF et al. (1996) The feeding value of
soybeans fed to rats, poultry, catfish and dairy cattle is not altered
by incorporation of glyphosate tolerance. J Nutr 126:717-727

Harrison LA, Bailey MR, Naylor M et al. (1996) The expressed protein
in glyphosate-tolerance soybean, 5-enolpryruvyl-shikimate-3-phosphate
synthase from Agrobacteriuin sp. Strain CP4, is rapidly digested in
vitro and is not toxic to acutely gavaged mice. J Nutr
126:728-740

List et al. (1999) Characterization of phospholipids from
Glyphosate-tolerant Soybeans. J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc 76(1):57-60

Padgette SR, Kolacz CH, Delannay, X (1995) Development, Identification
and Characterization of a Glyphosate-Tolerant Soybean Line. Crop
Science 35 (5):1451-1461

Padgette SR, Re DB, Barry GF et al. (1996) New weed control
opportunities: development of soybeans with a Roundup Ready? gene. In:
Duke SO (ed) Herbicide-resistant crops: agricultural, environmental,
economic, regulatory and technical aspects. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp
53-84

Padgette SR, Taylor NB, Nida DL et al. (1996) The composition of
Glyphosate-tolerant soybean seeds is equivalent to conventional
soybeans. J Nutr 126:702-716

Taylor NB, Fuchs RL, MacDonald J et al. (1999) Compositional analysis
of glyphosate-tolerant soybeans treated with glyphosate. J Agric Food
Chem 47:4469-4473

Teshima R, Akiyama H, Okunuki H et al (2000) Effect of GM and non-GM
soybeans on the immune system of BN rats and B10A mice. J Food
Hygienic Society of Japan 41:188-193

Potatoes
Anon.(1999) Health risks of genetically modified foods. (Editorial)
Lancet 353:1811

Ewen SWB, Pusztai A (1999) Effect of diets containing genetically
modified potatoes expressing Galanthus Nivalis Lectin on rat small
intestine. Lancet 354:1353-1355

Horton R (1999) Genetically modified foods: ?absurd? concern or
welcome dialogue? (Commentary) Lancet 354:1314-1315

Kuiper HA, Noteborn HP, Peijenburg AA (1999) Adequacy of methods for
testing the safety of genetically modified foods. [Commentary] Lancet
354:1315-1316

Lavrik PB, Bartnicki DE, Feldman J et al. (1995) Safety assessment of
potatoes resistant to Colorado potato beetle. In: Engel KH, Takeoka
GR, Teranishi R (eds) Genetically modified foods, safety issues. ACS,
Washington DC, pp 148-158

Love S (2000) When Does Similar Mean the Same: A Case for Relaxing
Standards of Substantial Equivalence in Genetically Modified Crops.
HortScience 35:803-806

Rogan GJ, Bookout JT, Duncan DR et al. (2000) Compositional Analysis
of Tubers from Insect and Virus Resistant Potato Plants. J Agric Food
Chem 48: 5936- 5945

Tomatoes

Finn RF, Leimgruber RM, Boyle DM et al. (1996) Purification and
biochemical comparison of 1- amino cyclopropane -1-carboxylic acid
(ACC) deaminase proteins expressed in delayed ripening tomato and E.
coli: studies for a food safety assessment. J Agric Food Chem 44:381-387

Redenbaugh K, Hiatt W, Martineau B et al. (1992) Safety assessment of
genetically engineered fruits and vegetables: a case study of the
Flavr Savr? tomato. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton

Redenbaugh K, Hiatt W, Martineau B et al. (1994) Amino glycoside
3?-phosphotransferase II (APH(3?)II): review of its safety and use in
the production of genetically engineered plants. Food Biotechnol 8:137-165

Reed AJ, Magin KM, Anderson JS et al. (1995) Delayed ripening tomato
plants expressing the enzyme 1-amino cyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid
deaminase: I. Molecular characteristics, enzyme expression and fruit
ripening traits. J Agric Food Chem
43:1954-1962

Reed AJ, Kretzmer AJ, Naylor MW et al. (1996) A safety assessment of
1-ainocyclopropane-l-carboxylic acid deaminase (ACCd) protein
expressed in delayed ripening tomatoes. J Agric Food Chem 44:388-394

Corn

Carpenter J (2001) Case Studies in Benefits and Risks of Agricultural
Biotechnology: Roundup Ready Soybeans and Bt Field Corn. National
Center for Food and Agricultural Policy.
http://www.ncfap.org/pup/biotech/benefitsandrisks.pdf

Masoero F, Moschini M, Rossi F et al. (1999) Nutritive Value,
mycotoxin contamination & in vitro rumen fermentation of normal &
genetically modified corn (CRY1A(b)) grown in Italy. Maydica 44:205-209

Munkvold GP, Hellmich RL, Showers WB (1997) Reduced fusarium ear rot
and symptomless infection in kernals of maize genetically engineered
for European corn borer resistance. Phytopathology 87:1071-1077

Munkvold GP, Desjardins AE (1997) Fumonisins in maize: can we reduce
their occurrence? Plant Dis 81:556-565

Munkvold GP, Hellmich RL, Rice LG (1999) Comparison of fumonisin
concentrations in kernals of transgenic Bt maize hybrids and
nontransgenic hybrids. Plant Dis 83:130-138

Munkvold GP, Hellmich RL (1999) Genetically modified, insect resistant
corn: Implication for disease management. APSnet Feature, October
15-November 30, 1999 - http://www.apsnet.org/online/feature/top.asp

Pimentel DS, Raven PH (2000) Bt Corn Pollen impacts on nontarget
Lepidoptera: Assessment of Effects in Nature. Proceedings of The
National Academy of Sciences 97:8198-8199
http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/97/15/8198.pdf
Pollak LM, White PJ. Corn as a food source in the United States: Part
I. Historical and current perspectives. Cereal Food World 40:749-762

Sanders PR, Lee TC, Groth ME et al. (1998) Safety assessment of the
insect-protected corn. Thomas JA (ed) In: Biotechnology and safety
assessment, 2nd edition. Taylor and Francis
pp 241-256

Sidhu RS, Hammond BG, Fuchs RL et al. (2000) Glyphosate-Tolerant Corn:
The Composition and Feeding Value of Grain from Glyphosate-Tolerant
Corn is Equivalent to that of Conventional Corn (Zea mays L.) J Agric
Food Chem 48:2305-2312

Cotton

Berberich SA, Ream JE, Jackson TL et al. (1996) Safety assessment of
insect-protected cotton: the composition of the cottonseed is
equivalent to conventional cottonseed. J Agric Food Chem 41:365-371

Fuchs RL, Berberich SA, Serdy FS (1992) Regulatory considerations for
pesticidal plants: insect resistant cotton as a case study. In: Kim L
(ed) Advanced engineered pesticides. Marcel Dekker, Inc. New York,
Chapt 23 pp 393-407

Jing-Yaun X, Jie CJ, Li-hua M, et al. (1999) The Role of Transgenic Bt
Cotton in Integrated Insect Pest Management. Acta Gossypii Sinica 11
(2):57- 64

Nida DL, Patzer S, Harvey P et al. (1996) Glyphosate-tolerant cotton:
the composition of the cottonseed is equivalent to conventional
cottonseed. J Agric Food Chem 44:1967-1974

Nida KL, Kolacz KH, Buehler RE et al. (1996) Glyphosate-tolerant
cotton: genetic characterization and protein expression. J Agric Food
Chem 44:1960-1966

Sims SR, Berberich SA, Nida DL et al. (1996) Analysis of expressed
proteins in fiber fractions from insect-protected and
glyphosate-tolerant cotton varieties. Crop Sci 36:1212-1216