AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org
* Biofizzle 2001 in San Diego
* New Book by Florence Wambugu
* ISAAA Knowledge Center
* Human-bacteria gene transfer
* Report says biotech crops fare well
* American Corn Growers Federation's Goldberg
* Tense times for both sides
O, Fearful New World
Los Angeles Times
By Debra J. Saunders
June 26, 2001
FOOD is "hazardous" to your health. Or so argued Greenpeace activists
protesting the Bio 2001 biotechnology convention in San Diego as they
stormed a grocery store this weekend and stuck "hazardous" labels on foods
that may contain genetically modified (GM) corn, soy or cottonseed.
They call them Frankenfoods. They warn that GM foods are dangerous to
human health, even though there is not one documented case of someone
being hurt by eating Frankenfood. They complain that GM foods will result
in "monocultures" - - or a world with a single variety of crop. They
apparently don't know or care about seed banks, which exist to ensure
biodiversity of food crops. The anti- biotech crowd boasts that it is pro
The Anti's biggest beef with GM foods is that corporations develop them.
"The real violence being done here is being done every day by these
corporations up in their ivory towers," said Adam Hurtler, a spokesman for
the anti-Bio 2001 protest, Bio Devastation 2001.
Funny, Hurtler talking about ivory towers. He also told the Washington
"We have enough food. We have enough medicine. The real roots of the
global health crisis are inequality and injustice, and that's what the
biotech industry is perpetuating."
Some 150 million children suffer from malnutrition each year; yet Hurtler
said there is enough food. According to UNICEF, in 1990, 12 million
children died of preventable diseases; yet Hurtler said there is enough
One protest sign read: "Biotech Perverts Get Out of Our Genes." Which
explains the opposition to biotechnology perfectly. The anti-biotech crowd
is so afraid that they might get a gene they don't like in their corn
flakes that they would try to stop companies from putting Vitamin A in
rice. It matters not if Golden Rice (as the enriched grain is known) could
save millions of lives in the Third World. They've got their wheels, their
laptops and their frequent-flier miles, and they'll use them to make sure
some starving kid in Calcutta is never tainted with Golden Rice.
"The trouble is that if they admit there's one good genetically modified
product, then they would have to admit there might be others, and they
would be reduced to a rational discussion on the subject, like the rest of
us," said Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace who became disillusioned
with the movement's misanthropic extremism.
It especially rankles Moore that the "anti" activists don't see how
biotechnology can improve biodiversity. Moore sees three advantages.
First, increased farm productivity reduces "the way forests are converted
into crop production, which is in itself the biggest cause of biodiversity
GM seeds with greater crop yields can ease the need for tillage, which
reduces soil loss. Third, GM seeds that target hostile insects allow
farmers to use pesticides more discriminately.
"I use less pesticide on my crops and I am getting more food out of my
fields," Iowa soybean farmer Reg Clause said in a pro-biotech "Truth
Squad" statement. "If I had any doubts about the safety of these crops, I
wouldn't grow them and I wouldn't let my family work in the fields with
Moore believes that the anti-biotech movement will be short-lived because
his erstwhile colleagues are "against all genetic modification. That
completely goes against the grain of evolution, human history, basic logic
and the urge to discover."
The turnout for Bio Devastation 2001 suggests he is right. Activists
predicted as many as 8,000 demonstrators. Newspaper estimates range from
500 to 1,000. It seems as if the number of angry demonstrators anxious to
protest more food and medicine has a limit.
E-mail Debra J. Saunders at email@example.com.
Activists Cite Science Only if It's Convenient
The Atlanta Journal Constitution
By Barry A. Palevitz
June 24, 2001
Remember last fall's taco fiasco? An Iowa laboratory found a
genetically modified variety of corn called StarLink in tacos
distributed by Kraft Foods. The corn, which the Environmental
Protection Agency had approved only for animal use, somehow found its
way into the human food stream.
The resulting brouhaha lasted for months as the Food and Drug
Administration recalled hundreds of products; the company that
developed the corn, Aventis Seeds, added up a $1 billion cleanup
bill; and activist groups such as Greenpeace and Environmental
Defense went on the warpath.
EPA nixed StarLink because the agency couldn't rule out the
possibility that people might be allergic to it. The evidence for
allergy wasn't strong --- the offending protein, called Cry9C, isn't
quickly digested so the body has more time to react to it --- but
there was enough doubt to ban human consumption. Even more worrisome,
51 people reported getting ill after eating corn products. Scientists
were skeptical because StarLink levels were minuscule and the corn
had been around only a short time.
Still, the FDA asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
in Atlanta to test people who claimed the corn made them sick. From
the 51 reports, CDC culled 28 people with symptoms fitting a real
food allergy, then analyzed blood samples from 17 of them.
The results, reported on June 11, were striking. None of the samples
contained antibodies to Cry9C protein. That's important because if
the body doesn't make antibodies, it won't start the chain of events
leading to allergy. In other words, although some people got sick
after eating StarLink corn, it almost certainly wasn't from the
biotech protein. An independent laboratory confirmed CDC's results.
Environmental Defense wasn't convinced. Said ED spokesperson Rebecca
Goldburg, "The results are far from definitive. . . . CDC and FDA
only examined reactions of a small number of people who asked to be
assessed." But what better people to test than those reporting
allergies? If anybody could provide documentable evidence of harm,
Health arguments just a ruse
Environmental activists like ED have fussed over GM foods for years,
claiming the science behind them was faulty and calling for a halt to
sales pending more data. After the taco scare, Uncle Sam did the
right experiments, and the results agreed with earlier estimates that
the danger, if any, was low. Drivers are at far greater risk talking
on a cellular phone than snacking on GM corn chips.
ED says it advocates "solutions based on science, even when it leads
in unfamiliar directions." Apparently, its credo didn't apply in this
According to C.S. Prakash, director of the Center for Plant
Biotechnology Research at Tuskegee University in Alabama, ED "readily
debunks a study by the most respected public health organization in
the world which finally puts the allergy question of StarLink corn to
Why? Apparently the results didn't fit the group's agenda. Adds
Prakash in an e-mail interview, "no amount of scientific studies
showing the safety of biotech crops would satisfy environmentalists
because their opposition on human health and ecological grounds is a
facade for anti-development and anti-corporate platforms."
Remember the flap over monarch butterflies two years ago? According
to a brief report in the journal Nature, pollen from a GM corn called
Bt, which is related to StarLink, kills the "Bambi" of all insects.
ED was in a snit over that too, with Goldburg ominously warning "it
would be tragic if we fail to learn the lesson of DDT and devastate
butterfly populations using genetically engineered crops."
Months later, scientists concluded Bt corn wasn't much of a problem.
Says ecologist Orley "Chip" Taylor, head of Monarch Watch at the
University of Kansas in Lawrence, "the incidence of Bt toxin is
pretty low to kill monarchs in the field." For some reason, ED forgot
evidence in favor of a much bigger threat to monarchs: habitat
ED isn't alone in the way it uses science. Take Greenpeace. The
organization recently castigated President Bush for hiding behind
uncertainty in not supporting the Kyoto treaty on global warming.
Bush claimed that evidence for warming was incomplete.
All sides embrace uncertainty
I'm not a big fan of current environmental policy, but Greenpeace's
stand is puzzling --- when it comes to opposing genetically modified
crops, it has no problem with uncertainty, claiming the evidence
isn't in yet to justify approval.
Bush's stand is equally hypocritical. Science deals in probabilities
based on the best available information. For years, scientific
consensus has pointed to the reality of global warming caused by
greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. And where are those gases
coming from? Human activity is a principal source. A report just
issued by the National Academy of Sciences at the White House's
behest notes that carbon dioxide and methane are "more abundant now
than at any time in the last 400,000 years." The committee called for
more study but concluded that global warming due to greenhouse gases
"accurately reflects the current thinking of the scientific
community." This is old news to climatologists, so why is the
president still skeptical?
Science is the best tool for understanding the natural world. The
information it gathers is indispensable for judging important issues
such as biotechnology. But those who invoke science should remember
that it doesn't necessarily support pet ideas.
Ecologist Taylor thinks important questions remain about some GM
crops. Along with more research, he hopes "to bring policy-makers up
to speed, so when decisions are made at the political level, we make
them on the best information available."
- Barry Palevitz is a professor and science writer at the University
of Georgia in Athens.
Protesters Steamed Over Rice
By Kristen Philipkoski
2:00 a.m. June 26, 2001 PDT
SAN DIEGO -- Looking out upon a small group of protesters gathered outside
the Bio2001 meeting here, Ronald Cantrell of the International Rice
Research Institute said he was baffled by protests against genetically
Cantrell was miffed by the 30 protesters who gathered under a tent
festooned by a banner that read "Weird Science Betrays our Children."
"They must have some solution," Cantrell, director general of the
International Rice Research Institute in Manila, said during a press
conference on Monday. "And it's not just 'eat more green vegetables.' I
don't have a lot of time for people ... who don't have a better
Environmentalists Assure Us Their Purpose Is To Protect Life,
But Their Stand Against Technology Suggests the Opposite
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
June 22, 2001, Friday
By DAVID HOLCBERG
MARINA DEL REY, Calif.--Next week in San Diego we will witness a clash
crucial implications for America's future. That's when the annual meeting
of the Biotechnology Industry Organization will take place, amid mass
protests by environmentalists who want to prohibit genetic engineering.
This is a conflict between the creators of a technology that has saved
countless lives and improved countless more--and the movement that is
opposed to new technology on principle.
Consider one of the earliest genetically engineered inventions: bacteria
with human genes that produce insulin. These bacteria keep more than 10
million diabetic Americans alive.
Or consider "golden rice," genetically engineered to have an increased
content of beta-carotene, which our bodies transform into vitamin A. More
than 100 million people around the world suffer from lack of this vitamin.
Every year, half a million children become blind and another million die
from vitamin A deficiency. Golden rice may help prevent that.
Or consider potatoes, bananas and tomatoes genetically engineered to
contain vaccines against a variety of diseases, including hepatitis B.
These vaccines are easy to take, they have no need for refrigeration and
they are as cheap as a penny a dose.
Yet a Greenpeace member declares: "We view genetically engineered foods as
having the potential for the largest environmental disaster in human
history." The Institute of Science in Society, a London-based
environmentalist group, demands the prohibition of golden rice, calling it
a "most heinous abomination."
The director of the Organic Consumers Union says that the bio-engineered
vaccines are "a very bad idea. You don't want biotech vaccines out in the
environment ... causing unknown problems ... with unknown consequences."
But what about the known benefits people get from immunization against
disease or from vitamin-enhanced foods?
Why is the unknown something we have to assume is real, while the known is
something to be ignored? The opponents of genetic engineering are eager to
raise arbitrary fears that have no objective evidence behind them, yet
regularly evade clear-cut evidence of the value of genetically engineered
foods. What does this imply about the objectivity and the motives of the
By inserting human genes into animal embryos, scientists have enabled
various farm animals to produce proteins for the treatment of deadly
conditions such as cystic fibrosis, stroke, damaged tissues and infection.
Yet organizations like Resistance Against Genetic Engineering campaign to
ban these animals, which they call "hybrid genetic monsters." Monsters by
what standard? Surely not by the standard of human life.
Even more promising is the prospect of genetic improvements in human
themselves. One possibility being pursued is germ-line research, aimed at
removing bad genes and eliminating hereditary diseases before or 10 soon
Another is stem-cell research, which opens up a way to replace damaged
tissues and organs with newly grown ones. Both lines of investigation may
lead to an unprecedented improvement in human health and longevity. Yet
hostility (from religionists as well as environmentalists) toward this
research is astonishingly strong.
The organization Human Genetics Alert describes it as "immoral," and the
Sierra Club's former national director condemns the entire field of
research, claiming its implementation would "destabilize human biological
Imagine telling the parents of a child who is dying of leukemia or
that the disease could have been avoided through genetic modification, but
that the law forbids any tampering with the child's "biological identity."
Environmentalists try to assure us that their purpose is to protect human
life. But their stand against a technology that saves millions of lives
that can potentially eradicate disease from the face of the earth
demonstrates the opposite.
Environmentalists hold that man should not alter nature to serve his ends.
Nature, they believe, must be "protected" against human intrusion, and we
should learn to adapt ourselves to our environment rather than adapt the
environment to our needs.
From this philosophical perspective, genetic engineering is inherently
evil, since it rests on the premise that man is morally entitled to
nature to serve his ends. This is why environmentalists oppose it in any
form--and at any cost.
The targets of this environmentalist campaign need to grasp the nature of
the opposition--and need to mount an unequivocal moral defense of their
DAVID HOLCBERG, a former civil engineer, is a senior writer for the Ayn
Rand Institute in Marina del Rey, Calif. His views are not necessarily
those of BridgeNews.
Starbucks Target Of Protests - Again
By Allison Linn
June 25, 2001
SEATTLE (AP) - Starbucks President Orin Smith was not really surprised to
learn his company was to be the target of nationwide protests Monday and
Tuesday by the Organic Consumer Association - despite the coffee
retailer's previous pledge to meet many of the group's demands.
"We are, I guess, in some ways accustomed to being front and center on
some issues that I don't think we own," Smith said from his office Monday.
"But it is the price of being so visible." The consumer group, which
wants Starbucks to stop using milk and other foods with genetically
modified ingredients, concedes the hugely popular coffee retailer is far
from the worst offender.
In fact, Seattle-based Starbucks has made clear it agrees with the OCA on
many issues. It plans to offer milk free of genetic tinkering at its more
than 2,700 U.S. stores by the end of July.
But the advocacy group, which has a staff of just 13 and is based in
Little Marais, Minn., says Starbucks is still the best tactical choice.
"We believe that Starbucks is the weakest link in the chain because their
customer base cares about the environment and cares about social justice
and cares about their health," explains organizer Ronnie Cummins.
Starbucks is well aware of its customer base.
In March, on the eve of another planned OCA protest, Starbucks pledged to
begin offering milk free of genetically modified ingredients such as
bovine growth hormone - responding,it said, to customer concerns.
But the company is no stranger to the hot seat.
One of its downtown stores here was trashed during the 1999 World Trade
When San Francisco-based Global Exchange pressed Starbucks last year to
sell "Fair Trade" coffee - coffee grown in areas believed to have better
working conditions - Starbucks began offering the beans at its stores.
Last week, Starbucks was the target of a Seattle protest over the shooting
of a black man by a white police officer.
On Tuesday - in addition to the organic coalition demonstrations - the
company is to be the target of an anti-corporate globalization protest in
In many instances, the company has tried to work with protesters - in
fact, a meeting with the OCA is scheduled for later this week.
The company does not want to fight with the OCA or anyone else, Smith said.
"I don't care to battle these things, especially when there actually is
some alignment of interests," he said.
The OCA concedes that Starbucks has said it will meet many of the group's
demands, but says it wants action faster.
Starbucks is still on track to offer the option of hormone-free milk by
the end of July.
But Smith said the company - one of the nation's largest milk users - has
determined it will be more difficult than expected to move on to the next
step: using hormone-free milk exclusively.
Bovine growth hormone, also known by the scientific name of recombinant
bovine somatotropin (rBST), is injected in cows to increase the amount of
milk they produce. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said milk
containing bovine growth hormone is safe for human consumption. Critics
contend too little is known about the health and environmental effects of
this and other biotech products.
The main problem for Starbucks is that rBST-free milk is typically mixed
with other milks before market, Smith said. Finding a supply of untainted
milk - a supply that can meet Starbucks' enormous needs - will be costly
Cummins dismisses these details.
"If a company that size wants something, they can get it," he says, adding
that he believes Starbucks is being pressured by other large companies,
such as Kraft and Pepsi, not to offer rBST-free milk.
Not true, Smith says, although Starbucks has heard from some industry
groups promoting the merits of genetically modified foods.
"But you know, neither one of those things in the long run will affect our
policies," Smith said. "We are focused on our customers and if some of our
customers want this then we are going to provide this."
The OCA wants all of the food served at Starbucks to be free of
genetically modified ingredients. It wants Fair Trade coffee offered one
day a week as Starbucks' coffee of the day.
Smith said there simply isn't a big enough Fair Trade coffee for that - at
least not enough that meets Starbucks' quality standards. The company is
working with Fair Trade to increase the quality and supply, he said.
But Smith will likely have a long way to go before these battles are over.
"You pressure the marketplace leaders," Cummins said. "Starbucks is a
International Trade: Concerns Over Biotechnology Challenge U.S.
Report to the Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate
Getting Africa out of the mire of hunger and poverty
Thank you very much for visiting my website, dedicated to my new book
Modifying Africa: How biotechnology can help alleviate hunger and poverty
in Africa. I am honored by your visit and the time that you have taken to
find out what is happening to Africa, especially as concerns biotechnology.
As you are aware, the Internet has made each of us an important part of
the global family. Your voice matters! I would therefore encourage you to
get a copy of the book, so that you can get ?the other view? of
biotechnology, especially as it affects Africa. For a long time, those
opposed to biotechnology have advanced the dominant view. Indeed, most of
these people and institutions have deliberately kept from you the views
that are contained in this book. What I seek to do in this view is not to
attack or undermine these views, but to give the alternate view, so that
you, the reader, can make a decision for yourself.
Please give me a moment of your time to briefly explain why this issue is
I grew up on a small farm in the highlands of Kenya. When I was a young
girl, I came face to face with hunger and deprivation. Today, I know I was
one of the lucky ones. My poor mother?s decision to sell our family?s only
cow in order to raise enough money to send me to school made all the
difference. With a good education, I was able to pursue my dream to make a
real difference to the livelihoods of poor Kenyan people, through
scientific research and application of improved crop varieties. This is
what my book is all about. Seeing the results for myself has strengthened
my passionate belief in the power of biotechnology to boost food
production in Africa.
As you are aware, the biotechnology debate continues to rage. Scientific
research is coming under increasing attack from different quarters. Often,
this has tended to crowd out real issues and undermine the benefits of
science to mankind. But if we take a moment to stop and think what
biotechnology means for developing countries like Kenya, things become a
bit clearer. In my book, it is obvious that biotechnology ? more often
than not - represents the only lifeline of hope for most poor people in
In addition to having a major impact on poverty and hunger, biotechnology
has great potential to alleviate environmental degradation. In a friendly
and non-scientific language, I explain how fragile forest and rangeland
ecosystems of Africa are benefiting from biotechnology.
My theatre-of-operation is Kenya. I am a Kenyan. I know the country well.
I am a daughter-of-the-soil and have the professional authority to speak
on this subject. Kenya has moved further and faster than most sub-Saharan
African countries in developing and applying modern agribiotechnology. We
are one of the first countries in Africa to address the regulation of
biosafety and food safety, and our scientists are now successfully
tackling public relations issues through a collaboratory rather than a
This book should not merely give you a new perspective about biotechnology
from the eyes of a Kenyan and African, it should radically change the way
you see biotechnology. Please buy a copy and support the biotechnology
initiative in Kenya and Africa,
Dr. Florence Wambugu
Author ? Modifying Africa: How biotechnology can alleviate poverty and
hunger: A case study from Kenya
Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology
What is the latest information on crop biotechnology? Will farmers and
consumers benefit from using genetically engineered crops? How safe are
transgenic crops? Are they already available in developing countries?
These and many other questions on crop biotechnology are being asked daily
all over the world. Many do not even ask these questions because they do
not have available information about farming alternatives through more
advanced scientific tools like genetic engineering. The lack of
information on crop biotechnology is depriving many farmers worldwide of
the potential to increase their yields and income. Hence, less food on
the table and value-added products for an ever growing population.
Responding to the need for a transparent and informed public exchange of
information, the ISAAA has established the Global Knowledge Center on Crop
Biotechnology in association with the ISAAA SEAsiaCenter based in the
Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology
DAPO Box 7777
Phone: +63 2 8450563
Fax: +63 2 8450606
From: Shane Morris
Subject: one for Ho et al.
Quarrel over bacteria-to-human gene transfers resolved
Nature, 21 June 2001
Bacteria aren't as free and easy with their genes as some would have us
believe. Genes have not hopped directly from bacteria to humans but were
inherited from common ancestors, say researchers, whose evidence is now
settling an evolutionary row and allaying fears about genetically modified
organisms1,2. The human genome sequence contained some real surprises. The
public sequencing consortium's announcement that at least 113 genes were
likely to have jumped into the genome by 'horizontal transfer' from
bacteria caused a particular stir3.
But the assertion left evolutionary biologists sceptical. Now two research
teams in the United States have produced evidence to rebut the claim. The
original analysis assumed that genes shared by humans and bacteria, but
not by invertebrates such as fruit flies, yeast, roundworms and mustard
weed, are candidates for horizontal gene transfer.
But other organisms could have had the gene and then lost it, points out
Jonathan Eisen of The Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville,
Maryland. "It's a common event in evolution," he says. To back up this
theory, Eisen and his colleagues re-analysed the sequence data, increasing
the number of species in the comparison1. In many cases, similar genes
were found in invertebrates such as parasites, sponges and fungi, ruling
out direct horizontal transfer from bacteria to vertebrates.
But the gold standard for establishing whether horizontal gene transfer
has occurred is drawing up evolutionary trees to trace a candidate gene's
inheritance, admits Eisen.
Now publication of these trees has settled the matter. Drawn up for 28 of
the candidate horizontal transfer genes, the trees reveal that almost all
the genes are also found in other distant ancestors. So say Michael
Stanhope and his colleagues at GlaxoSmithKline in Pennsylvania2. "Our
study searches a more thorough representation of sequences," explains
Stanhope - from slime mould to mosquito. A gene's presence in humans can
therefore be explained by descent through common ancestors, he says.
Bacteria frequently exchange genes, including those for antibiotic
resistance, even between distant species. But horizontal transfer from
bacteria to vertebrates or other multicellular organisms is very rare.
Such a gene leap would have to take place from bacteria into either eggs
or sperm, and the gene would need to be incorporated into the genome to be
passed on to subsequent generations. "It's an extraordinary event," says
Stanhope - so it seemed unfeasible that it could have occurred 113 times.
"It's a tempest in a teapot," says Russell Doolittle, an evolutionary
biologist at the University of California, San Diego, of the scientific
squabble. He says that the current spate of results is simply "putting the
And it's an important record to set straight - the teams hope that besides
pacifying unhappy scientists, public fears about horizontal gene transfer
from genetically modified organisms will be allayed by their findings. "We
don't find any evidence for it," says Stanhope.
1. Salzberg, S.L., White, O., Peterson, AJ. & Eisen, J.A.Micorobila
genes in the human genome: lateral transfer or gene loss?. Science, 292,
1903 - 1906, (2001).
2. Stanhope, M.J. et al.Phylogenetic analyses do not support
horizontal gene transfers from bacteria to vertebrates.. Nature, 411, 940
- 944, (2001).
3. International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium.Initial
sequencing and analysis of the human genome. Nature, 409, 860 - 921
Report says biotech crops fare well
Virtual New York
By HIL ANDERSON
June 25, 2001
SAN DIEGO, June 25 (UPI) - Whatever the concerns may be about the safety
of genetically altered crops, the preliminary results of a study released
Monday by a Washington think-tank indicate the so-called Frankenfoods are
bad news for bugs.
The National Center for Food and Agriculture Policy found that
biotechnology has been applied to virtually every crop planted in the
States and has produced some dramatic results against viruses and insects
that have rampaged through U.S. fields in the past and pose potential
threats for the future.
"The technology has been working perfectly," Leonard P. Gianessi,
president of the association, said at a major biotechnology industry
conference in San Diego.
Critics of the biotech industry contend food grown through genetic
engineering may not be safe for humans and also may be toxic to monarch
butterflies and other wildlife that may wander into a field of such
Gianessi said his group's study, which was funded by the biotech industry,
didn't look at the environmental impact of biotech crops. It focused on the
effect the plants had on harmful insects and found some impressive
"The insects are still there and are still sucking out the juices from the
plants, but they can't spread the viruses," Gianessi said.
The result has been better quality crops produced with fewer applications
of insecticides -- the line the industry has used all along in touting the
benefits of overhauling foods in the laboratory.
It also has saved U.S. farmers from higher production costs and greater
"It will be in the billions of dollars," said Gianessi.
The center's report, which will be issued formally in September, covers 44
case studies of 30 varieties of crops ranging from the big-acreage
commodities such as cotton and corn down to Hawaiian papaya and the
raspberries of Washington state that were threatened by a virus that made
the delicate berries too brittle to stand up to the mechanical harvesters.
"It is fair to say that every crop grown in the United States has been
altered in the laboratory to make it more herbicide tolerant or to have the
'Bt' gene installed," Gianessi said.
The Bt (bacillus thuringensis) gene found in a common soil bacteria and is
particularly toxic to caterpillars, such as the fall armyworm and corn
earworm that have plagued Florida farmers for years.
Florida was unable to even have a sweet corn crop until the boom in
chemical pesticides in the 1940s, but the tender ears that are a popular
summer fixture on U.S. dinner tables require frequent spraying with
insecticides to hold off the voracious pests that thrive in the heat and
"They have to spray them right up to the day of harvest," Gianessi said.
Nevertheless, Florida growers have been reluctant to switch to Bt corn due
to fears that the public will be too worried about the possibility of
problems caused by eating a genetically altered food.
"They have no problem selling their regular sweet corn even though maybe
it has been sprayed 40 times," said Gianessi.
The potential savings for Florida farmers, however, are tempting. The
center estimated that switching to biotech corn would boost production by
million ponds per year and eliminate the need for 112,000 pounds of
insecticide worth around $1.3 million.
The biotech industry got some good news earlier this month when the
Centers for Disease Control issued a report stating there was no evidence
that reported allergic reactions were caused by eating Starlink corn, a
biotech corn that has been approved for animal feed but not for human
Nevertheless, farmers -- and investors -- are jittery about a backlash
that could leave them with nothing but a bunch of unsold produce. Gianessi
said the alternative is to continue the current farming methods at a time
when overseas producers are making greater inroads into the U.S. market.
"A lot of packers only care about buying from the cheapest sources," he
Gianessi said the Florida farmers decided not to take the risk and backed
away from Bt corn after a buyer asked if they were selling genetically
"It just took one question and they were able to answer, 'No, we're not,'
" he said.
Date: 25 Jun 2001 23:17:01 -0000
From: Stevens Brumbley
Subject: FW: Melbourne: GE forums, Gary Goldberg from US Corngrowers Found
Does anyone have any info on the Gary Goldberg fellow. Why is he
touring Australia and why is this staunch Anti-GM campaigner promoting him?
From: Bob Phelps [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
United States: GE FARM EXPERIENCES
Lessons for Australian farmers and the food industry
* Gary Goldberg, CEO, American Corn Growers Federation
* Bob Phelps, Director, GeneEthics Network
* Scott Kinnear (former Chair of Organic Federation of Australia) Lead
Senate Candidate for The Greens in Victoria
Gary Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer of the American Corn Growers
Federation, is in Australia to warn farmers about the negative effects of
GMO's in the U.S.
He says Australian farmers should be very concerned about the U.S.
experience. "We've suffered a loss of exports markets and there's been a
lot of confusion over legal liability brought about by pollen
contamination". He also says many opportunities await Australian farmers,
provided they can guarantee non-GMO commodities for export.
Mr Goldberg is the past President and former CEO of the American Corn
Growers Association which represents fourteen thousand corn producers
across 28 States in the U.S. He is also the author of the Farmer
Choice-Customer First Program which educates corn growers about the
dangers surrounding theplanting, growing and harvesting of genetically
engineered (GE) crops.
TWO OPPORTUNITIES TO HEAR GARY GOLDBERG ...
Date: 26 Jun 2001 03:31:30 -0000
From: "Red Porphyry"
Subject: Re: AGBIOVIEW: Bio-Fizzle; U.S. Congress; Truth Squad; China
Policy; Asian NGOs;
Mr. Don D'Cruz, in his article "Show Me The Money: Anti-biotech NGOs in
Asia", presents us with a rather long-winded and tiresome laundry list of
Asians NGOs and why they're all really bad news. Somewhere in the middle,
however, the following interesting paragraph appears:
policy makers, women?s groups, students, farmers and agricultural
workers. Themes of the program included the evils of pesticides and
GMOs, and the virtues of increased support for sustainable
agriculture, which is PAN AP shorthand for organic agriculture.
The above paragraph neatly sums up why there can never be any kind of
compromise between those in favor of agricultural biotechnology and
those who oppose it. The worldview of the respective sides are
fundamentally incompatible. The linkage between "sustainable agriculture"
and "organic agriculture" is the key to understanding this.
When those who oppose ag biotech speak of "sustainable agriculture",
what they mean is this: agriculture that ideally is free of dependence on
petroleum. No *petroleum-based* fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides,
planting, plowing, or harvesting. Why is opposing petroleum-based
agriculture fundamental to the anti-ag-biotech worldview? For the simple
reason that anti-ag-biotechers view agriculture through the lens of the
"Limits to Growth" paradigm. The text-based nature of this forum doesn't
allow for going into this paradigm in much detail (interested parties are
urged to read the book "Beyond the Limits--Confronting Global Collapse,
Envisioning a Sustainable Future" by Meadows, Meadows and Randers (1992).
The authors published the original LtG study in 1972 for the Club of
Rome; this book was the "update after 20 years"). Very briefly, they
assert three things: (1) whenever physical limits are very far off, growth
in nature is exponential, (2) the behavior of growing entities can be
described in terms of interacting feedback loops, both positive (growth
reinforcing) and negative (growth regulating), and (3) feedback loops are
very difficult to control due to significant delays in the response to
environmental signals. The consequence of these three things is that
growing systems often overerode their resource bases, thereby generating a
behavior known as "overshoot and collapse".
The LtG authors, both in 1972 and 1992, built a sophisticated computer
model to study the general behavior of the world economy (the 1992 model
being a significantly improved version of the 1972 one) based on the above
assumptions. To do this, they used the computer model to run lots of
"scenarios" by changing various parameters of the system, both
individually and together. Their conclusions were that most parameter
combinations resulted in "overshoot and collapse" behavior for the world
some point in the 21st century. The scenarios that are pertinent here are
Scenario 1 (business as usual), Scenario 2 (business as usual, but double
the natural resources of Scenario 1, or 200 years worth at 1990 rates of
consumption), Scenario 3 (double resources, pollution control technology
installed, beginning in 1995, to reduce worldwide pollution levels by
3%/year to that of 1975, the rest business as usual), and Scenario 4
(Scenario 3 plus deployment of ag yield enhancing technology (like
biotech!), beginning in 1995, that raises worldwide annual yields by
2%/year). Assuming it takes 20 years to fully implement a new technology
worldwide, all four scenarios lead to "overshoot and collapse" of the
world economy. In scenario 1, the collapse is caused by resource
depletion. In scenario 2, pollution is the culprit. In scenario 3, a
combination of decreased soil fertility and increased ag inputs causes
stagnant food production. Eventually, pollution abatement and the need for
continual increases in ag inputs starves industry, resulting in collapse.
In scenario 4 ("the Bt/Roundup scenario"), pollution abatement and ag
technology allow for extremely intensive agriculture, but results in
galloping soil erosion. As in scenario 3, more and more resources have to
be taken from industry and put into agriculture to maintain food
Again, collapse. How soon? In all cases, significant stresses are
observable by the common man around 2010 or so, with an accelerating
decline toward collapse clearly evident by around 2040.
It should be reasonably clear, I think, that anyone who accepts the
assumptions of the LtG paradigm is likely to look askance at those who
claim that ag biotech will successfully feed billions and billions of
people a nutritionally adequate diet indefinitely. The anti-ag-biotech
claim, ultimately, is that ag biotech can't solve the problem because it's
not sustainable, and it's not sustainable because it's dependent
physically on petroleum (a nonrenewable resource) and philosophically on a
growth paradigm that fails to recognize resource limits.
From a LtG perspective, sustainability requires the worldwide adoption of
"equilibrium" policies. Anti-biotech/pro-organic agriculturalists are
trying to drive the world towards the adoption of "equilibrium" policies
with respect to agriculture. Their ardent passion in the pursuit of this
goal is largely due to the claim by the LtG authors that sustainability
requires that "equilibrium" policies be implemented before the second
decade of the 21st century; after that it's not likely to matter (the LtG
ran scenarios where the policies were implemented in 1975, 1995, and 2015.
1975 and 1995
were OK (the growth curves leveled off to a sigmoidal shape). For 2015,
the result was overshoot and collapse). Their claim is that at this point,
29 years after 1972, there's very little time left to implement
"equilibrium" policies, maybe ten years at the most. The next ten years is
going to be a *very* tense time for both sides. Count on it.