AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org
* Further Discussion on Genoa, Sams, Organics...
* Views on GM Food and Animals Differ by Religious Beliefs
* Research Needs Identified In Forest Biotech
* NZ Green Party Protest Shows Contempt For Own Royal Commission
* Conference Biotechnology: Ethical, Legal And Social Issues
* Golden Rice: A Golden Chance for the Underdeveloped World
* Should Consumers Be Concerned about Bio-engineered Crops? Yes and
No- FOE & BIO
* Are rDNA Products Less Safe?
From: Andrew Apel
>From: "Dario Panzeri"
>Subject: Reply to Andrew Apel, Martyrs
> I'm an Italian ag. biotechnology student. Apel's was wrong in may
aspects of his analysis about Genoa..
I appreciate the fact that the main protest in Genoa was against
"globalization" rather than biotechnology. However, I prefer to
designate these protesters as "eco-reactionaries" since they use
ecological metaphors to excuse their reactions against things, while
not being in favor of much in particular.
I also appreciate the fact that most protesters were non-violent. This
neglects the fact that these people have the option of taking part in
their democratic structures in their home countries and have rejected
that option, >preferring instead to invade someone else's country and
demanding far, far more than the one person - one vote paradigm which
is the foundation of democracy. While I would not deny the non-violent
protesters their right to say what they will, I would nonetheless
class them with the violent contingent, because violent or not, they
are demanding more than even the most enlightened democracy would allow.
I also appreciate that police may have engaged in illegal behavior.
They are human, and can be counted on to respond as humans will, when
they are under attack. From everything I have seen, the police in
Genoa never did anything other than defend themselves and what they
saw to be civil order ordained by an elected government. If their
measures were extreme, even illegal - well, if activists feel their
rampages are excused, activists should allow others, equally
well-meaning, to avail themselves of the same excuses.
Fundamental fairness requires that the police and the activists, as
humans, be held to the same moral standard. Do we wish to hold the
activists to a moral standard as high as police? Perhaps we should, as
activists presume to know more about what governments should do than
do its voting citizens. Do we wish to push the moral standard so low
that the activists' actions are laudable, and thereby excuse police
misconduct to a similar degree?
With respect to police leaving vandals undisturbed while attacking
'peaceful' demonstrators, that is a bit of clever propaganda. Police
were instructed to use minimum force while protecting the exclusion
zone that surrounded the democratically-elected leaders of the most
powerful countries on the planet. Accordingly, the police put up with
the vandals who operated outside the exclusion zone, while quelling
less-serious mayhem near the exclusion zone that may have erupted into
an invasion of the summit venue.
Police are dangerous people, that is why they are hired for the job
they have. Only a fool goes against them, and in Genoa many fools have
received their due. Thank goodness that democracy has such valiant,
though imperfect, defenders.
From: "Gordon Couger"
Subject: Mr. Sam's Ag Economist in his own mind
Mr. Sam's self serving views of the US agriculture landscape and his
organic agriculture would make Herr Goebbels proud that his methods
are still used unchanged long after his death. The big lie is as
effective today as it was 80 years ago. If organic agriculture told
nothing but the truth about their products they wouldn't have a
market. Very few industries trash each other to advance their
products. The willingness of the organic groups to attack conventional
agriculture and make false claims about their products and methods
speaks volumes about the organic industry.
Implying that the US government controls agriculture is a sham. US
farmers are free to farm any way they see fit. Most choose to continue
their traditional crops and rely on the government safety net in bad
years but most of them are diversified in cattle and other crops as
well. There are very few one crop farmers in the US. The supported
crops only represent about 30% of US agriculture and the support
represent about 11% of US agriculture. Hardly a government monopoly.
Mr. Sam's you need get out from behind his desk and out in the field
and do some of your own research and learn something about what you
are talking about.--- Gordon
Sams and organic zero tolerance policy
> craig sams wrote:
>Alex Avery refers to the 'irrational and tiny minority of organic
>farmers' who think they own the air and sky."
Because Mr. Sams completely failed to address my point about the tiny
minority of UK organic farmers (far fewer than 5% of UK farmers and
well below 3% of farm acres) being able to demand that GM crop trials
be moved because of their zero-tolerance GM pollen policy, I'll ask
him again: Since when did organic farmers gain ownership of the air
and sky? What law gives them the legal right to demand shelter from
pollen from fellow farmers' crops? No other farmers in history have
had such legal power, so where did this new power come from?
Instead, Mr. Sams attempts to divert the discussion to other topics.
Subsidies--we agree (although European organics are heavily subsidized
and demanding greater subsidies). Labelling--we can have a civil
discussion about (although I think that the greens and organics demand
labelling so they can distort it as a "safety warning" to gin up
organic sales). Free enterprise--all for it (i'm not demanding a ban
on organic, as your side is demanding!)
But the topic on hand is pollen and the organic's zero tolerance
policy--a policy I think is both impossible, irrational, and a
deliberate ploy by organics and greens to claim economic victimhood
status. I think it's irrational because organic is fundamentally a
production standard--ie, how a crop was produced. An
organically-produced non-GMO crop is such, regardless of whatever
stray bits of DNA float in on the wind.
As Rick Roush noted: Why the difference in treatment between trace
environmental contamination with synthetic pesticides vs. GM pollen,
ie. an allowance for some level of pesticide residues but an
impossible zero-tolerance for GM pollen? Please, without deliberately
side-tracking the discussion, address this question Mr. Sams.
Finally, I must address the last paragraph of Mr. Sams response:
>"The organic industry, contemptibly tiny and
>irrational as Alex Avery perceives it, has its roots entirely in the
>free enterprise sector.
The roots might by free enterprise, but now UK and European organic
farming is HEAVILY subsidized. And they are demanding even heavier
subsidies--I refer to the lobbying of the UK Soil Association this
year in particular.
>In Russia, before 1989, >'tiny and irrational' minorities ended up in
the gulags. Those who
>differed from Soviet policy were called 'traitors' and 'terrorists' by
the Kremlin and 'freedom fighters' by their supporters in the West,
>who included Herman Kahn, founder of the Hudson Institute. Plus ca
This is actually quite funny. Organic farmers and green activists are
now "freedom fighters" and "anti-communists" and I'm equated with
Soviet-era commisars that would like to see organic farmers put in the
gulag! When you can't win an argument, slander your opponent . . .
Plus ca change right back at ya, Mr. Sams.
- Alex Avery, Hudson Institute
P.S. Mr. Sams, care to comment on the Advertising Standards
Authority's new guidelines restricting organics from claiming
"pesticide-free," "chemical-free", healthier, tastier, safer, or
better fo r the environment? :^)
Views on Genetically Modified Food and Animals Differ by Religious Beliefs
July 26, 2001 The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology
Washington, D.C. -- Although the debate over genetic engineering of
food and animals has focused mainly on relative benefits and risks,
many Americans also have ethical or religious views that significantly
affect the way they think about this new technology, according to a
Zogby International poll released today by the Pew Initiative on Food
When asked specifically about their own religious or moral views in
regards to agricultural biotechnology, a majority of Christians
(Protestants, born-again Christians and Catholics) and a plurality of
Muslims say they are opposed to moving genes from one species or
organism to put into another, the poll found. Jews were the only
religious group polled that had a majority that supported this technology.
Overall, 57 percent of Protestants (62 percent of Evangelicals) oppose
the technology based on their religious or ethical views while 37
percent are in favor; Catholics followed closely behind with 52
percent opposed and 42 percent in favor. Among Muslims, 46 percent
said they are opposed, with 32 percent in favor. Jews were the most
favorable of the technology, with 55 percent in favor and 35 percent
However, a majority in all religious groups believes that humans
should use their knowledge to improve the life of other humans. When
probed on the question of whether man has been empowered by God to use
science to improve life or whether man is "playing God," a majority of
all those polled felt humans have been empowered by God to improve
life. Jews and Muslims agreed the most strongly with the statement on
empowerment (62 percent and 61 percent agreed, respectively), followed
by Catholics (55 percent) and Protestants (54 percent).
In addition, most of those polled, regardless of religion, felt it is
important to improve the world or strike a balance between improving
and preserving it. Jewish adults feel most strongly that humans have
an obligation to improve the world (60 percent). Protestants are more
likely than other religious groups to say that humans should strike a
balance (43 percent), with nearly half of born-again Christians (48
percent) saying humans should strike a balance.
The poll was released as part of a panel discussion hosted by the
Initiative titled "Genetically Modifying Food: Playing God or Doing
God's Work?" Margaret Warner, senior correspondent for the PBS
NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, moderated the panel, which explored the
religious, moral and ethical considerations that play into the debate
over agricultural biotechnology. Speakers included: Jaydee Hanson,
General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church;
Dr. Robert Gronski, National Catholic Rural Life Conference; Rabbi
Avram Israel Reisner, Baltimore Hebrew University; and Prof. David
Magnus of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.
"The debate over this technology has largely centered on the science
issues, but there is clearly an ethical side to it as well that is
shaping American hearts and minds," said Michael Rodemeyer, executive
director of the Initiative. "This survey shows that while Americans
have concerns about moving genes between different species, they also
support the idea that we have been empowered by God to understand
nature and use science and technology to improve the human condition."
Research Needs Identified In Forest Biotech
Sources: By David Stauth, 541-737-0787 ; Hal Salwasser, 541-737-1585;
teven Strauss, 541-737-6578 (Forwarded by Terri Lomax
STEVENSON, Wash. - Carefully monitored and controlled research should
proceed in order to evaluate the potential benefits, costs and risks
of forest biotechnology, experts concluded this week at an
international conference on this evolving and controversial science.
Genetic engineering of trees in forest plantations holds the promise
of increased productivity, reduced pressure on natural forests,
increased carbon sequestration and other social and environmental
benefits, conference participants said. But there are valid concerns
about the ecological role of forest plantations and gene transfer to
non-target plant species, and the only way to really understand the
risks and benefits is for properly regulated research to be expanded,
"We have to feed, clothe and house the people of the world while
protecting the environment," said Hal Salwasser, dean of the College
of Forestry at Oregon State University, a co-organizer of the event
along with the University of Washington. "To meet this challenge we
need to balance a legitimate concern for precaution with a bias for
boldness. Studies suggest that within 10 years about 40 percent of the
world's wood supply may come from intensively managed forest
plantations. It remains to be seen if genetically modified trees need
to be a part of those plantations."
"In the field of forest biotechnology we're hearing too many arguments
without very much data," Salwasser said. "We need experiments and
long-term research to produce good scientific findings that can then
help guide decisions made through an open social and political process."
Salwasser was one of dozens of experts from around the world who spoke
at this conference, which included university researchers, government
regulators, private industry, ethicists, ecologists, and
representatives of environmental activist groups. Some environmental
spokespersons at the meeting raised what they believe are serious
"Trees live a long time, are relatively undomesticated, disperse their
seed and pollen widely, and it's very difficult to gauge ecological
impacts," said Sue Mayer, an executive director of GeneWatch and a
member of the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission in
the United Kingdom. "The current problems with agricultural
biotechnology had their root in the late 1980s as a result of
inadequate risk assessment and use of too many flawed assumptions.
There was a fracturing of trust."
Biotechnology critics at the meeting raised questions about the need
for engineered trees, inadequate regulations, gene flow to other
species, potential for ecological damage and ethical concerns. Other
researchers said that continued and even expanded research is the only
way to answer the many questions in this area and ensure public
confidence if forest biotechnology is used in the future.
"I think it's possible to start the research and educational process
without making a wholesale endorsement of biotechnology," said Steven
Strauss, a professor of forest science at OSU and a leading researcher
in this field. "I would urge against making a global 'yes or no'
decision about all genetically modified organisms. What we need to do
is get away from the conjecture, get on with carefully planned studies
and report the results to the public. We need to get past the
polarization and develop trust."
Industry representatives at the meeting said that forest biotechnology
is largely undeveloped compared to its counterparts in agriculture or
biomedicine, but that it holds great promise to develop trees that
grow faster or can more economically be grown in large plantations,
much like an agricultural crop. In the final analysis actual use of
this technology will be driven by economic return, environmental
performance, and social and market acceptance, they said.
The benefits of biotechnology are not confined to faster tree growth,
conference participants noted. The use of genetically modified trees
compared to conventional forest plantations, they said, could also
include less use of chemicals, drought resistance, protection of soil
health, an increase in insect biodiversity, significantly less
pressure to use native forests for production of wood or fiber and
more land freed up for other uses such as wilderness or watershed
protection. Several participants also suggested that a major step
forward might be formation of a federally funded commission to study
ethical, legal and social issues in forest biotechnology.
Other conclusions and observations of meeting participants included: *
More work needs to be done to establish proper goals and methods for
risk assessment. * The use of forest plantations raises concerns about
their ecological role and impact on biodiversity that are separate
from, and often much greater than, concerns about their use of genetic
engineering. * Careful monitoring and research needs to be done in the
area of gene flow to non-target species, especially when inserting
genes that might possibly be favored by natural selection processes. *
Research into tree genetics may uncover basic knowledge about how
organisms and ecosystems work that is unanticipated and unconnected
with the current perception of risks and benefits. * The analogy of
genetically modified trees to "invasive species" is not fair or
accurate, because genetic alterations usually affect only a single or
limited number of genes, and pose far smaller risks than introducing a
non-native plant species that has never before existed in that
ecosystem. * Creation of sterility in genetically modified trees may
hold the key to their safe and publicly accepted use in a natural
environment. * Genetic engineering of trees holds the potential to
help rescue some declining tree species that are clearly at risk, such
as the American chestnut. * The use of genetically modified trees
might actually increase the interest in and monitoring of conventional
genetic cross-breeding that has been done with trees and plants for
hundreds of years.
"The potential for forest biotechnology is huge," Strauss said. "We
need the right kind of research and the proper regulatory mechanisms.
The more we know, the better we should be able to control this whole
process and decide where we, as a society, want to go with it."
Green Party Protest Shows Contempt For Own Royal Commission
Press Release by New Zealand National Party at 27 Jul 2001 11:27
"Today's Green Party protest demanding a GE Free New Zealand shows
total contempt for the Royal Commission which, on the very same day,
is presenting its report to the Governor General," National's
Environment spokesperson Dr Nick Smith said.
"It is an insult to the intelligence of ordinary New Zealanders who
have paid $6 million for the four-volume report. "This pre-emptive
strike by the Greens shows they have closed minds. Considering they
claimed credit for the Royal Commission, had input into the terms of
reference and appointment of Commissioners, and commended the
Commission for its thorough process, it will be totally hypocritical
of them not to support its conclusions.
"The real reason for the protest is that the Greens know their 'fear'
campaign on GE has not stood up to the scrutiny of their own Royal
Commission. They are getting nervous about being hung by their own
dreadlocks. "It is my prediction that the Greens' claims for a GE Free
New Zealand, an ongoing moratorium on field trials, a prohibition on
GE food and a prohibition on GE vaccines will all be rejected. All
will be revealed when the report is released on Monday.
"The Greens have had a field day with slogans like 'No toad genes in
potatoes', but on Monday, their chickens will come home to roost.
"The Greens should call off their protest and recognise the Royal
Commission report as an opportunity to move the issue on to reasoned
debate. Their Party will be dismissed as 'Extreme' rather than Green
if it does not change tack," Dr Smith said.
Conference Session Biotechnology: Ethical, Legal And Social Issues
Oct 14 - Oct 21, 2001 at Schloss Leopoldskron,
Salzburg, Austria (Forwarded by : Shane Morris )
Advances in biotechnology are proceeding at a breathtaking pace. The
human genome has been sequenced; animals have been cloned; genes have
been patented; crops are being modified genetically; therapeutic drugs
are being developed using new genetic information. These
biotechnological developments hold great promise for improvements in
the areas of human health and agricultural production. At the same
time, many of the ethical, legal, and social issues raised by these
dramatic scientific developments remain largely unarticulated,
under-examined, and unresolved.
This session will convene scientists, private industry
representatives, legal professionals, legislators, policy-makers,
ethicists, journalists, healthcare professionals, regulators, and
leaders of non-governmental organizations for an in-depth examination
of the ethical, legal, and social implications of biotechnology.
Discussions will focus on: differing cultural, moral, ethical,
philosophical, and religious responses to advances in biotechnology;
the public understanding of and reaction to biotechnology and genetic
research; the role of the media in communicating between the
scientific community and the public; appropriate and safe uses of
genetic information; the development of legal and regulatory
frameworks at the national and international levels; and, the
identification of ways in which the private sector, the scientific
community, and the public sector can work together to assure the
responsible advancement of biotechnology while protecting and
fostering the public good.
Golden Rice: A Golden Chance for the Underdeveloped World
By Michael Fumento http://fumento.com/ American Outlook, July-August
2001; Hudson Institute
American Outlook talks with geneticist Dr. Ingo Potrykus about the
Third World, Greenpeace, and golden rice.
According to the United Nations, anywhere from 140 to 250 million
preschool children donít receive enough vitamin A. Improving vitamin A
intake could reduce childhood deaths by as much as a third in
highest-risk developing countries and eliminate half a million cases
of blindness. Rice is a staple food for people in over a hundred
countries but provides virtually no vitamin A. So scientists
transferred into it two genes from the daffodil (thus giving the rice
a gold color), plus one from a bacterium. By doing so they fortified
the grain with beta-carotene, which the body breaks down into vitamin
A. This is called golden rice.
Unfortunately, environmental groups fearful of the increased spread of
genetically modified foods are fighting the introduction of golden
rice on the grounds that it is a hoax and that the nutrients it
provides are essentially worthless. For the real dope on this story,
AO's Michael Fumento, a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute, went
straight to golden riceís chief creator, Dr. Ingo Potrykus. Potrykus
was born in Germany in 1933. He began his scientific career at the
famous Max-Planck-Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Koln, from
where he moved to the Max-Planck-Institute for Plant Genetics,
Heidelberg; then to the Friedrich-Miescher Institute, Basel,
Switzerland; and finally, in 1986, to the Swiss Federal Institute of
Technology, Zurich. His research concentrated on contributions to food
security in developing countries by developing and applying genetic
engineering technology to crop plants such as rice, wheat, sorghum,
and cassava. Since his retirement in 1999 he has focused on the
promotion of golden rice for developing countries.
AO: Do you believe biotech companies have "overhyped" the value of golden
Potrykus: I did not follow the advertisements of the industry, but it
is difficult to overhype the value of golden rice.
AO: How many companies had to grant you licenses for golden rice to be
Potrykus: As our partner AstraZeneca [now its spin-off, Syngenta Crop
Protection] took care of many IPRs [intellectual property rights], we
ultimately needed free licenses from only four companies.
AO: Isn't it true that golden rice not only contains added iron but
has been engineered to make the iron already present in rice more
readily absorbed by the human body? Has Greenpeace or the Union of
Concerned Scientists [UCS] made any mention of this?
Potrykus: This is true and the opposition has, so far, ignored this.
However, the golden rice we can currently give out has only
beta-carotene. For the iron traits we again first have to settle the
AO: I have heard that research is already being conducted on a new and
improved version, which will express vitamin A at a higher level. Is
there any truth to that? Also, what about the claims that people must
have a diet rich in fat and protein in order to absorb beta-carotene?
Potrykus: The golden rice that everybody is talking about is the first
prototype, and we are, of course, continuously working on its
improvement. It is true that uptake of beta-carotene requires fat
(though not protein), but there is oil in rice endosperm [the
nutritive, starchy mass in the center of grains] that will be studied
to see whether it alone is sufficient for efficient uptake.
AO: To your knowledge, has Greenpeace, other advocacy groups, or any
other biotech company, misrepresented your words on the nutritional
value of golden rice?
Potrykus: Greenpeace has a strategy to convince people that golden
rice provides so little beta-carotene that it is useless. This group
and its allies base their argument on 100 percent of the recommended
daily allowance [RDA], thus hiding the fact that far lower values are
effective against mortality, morbidity, and blindness. The golden rice
that the public will receive will provide true benefits at just 300
grams [10.5 ounces] per day.
AO: Greenpeace and the UCS claim that the timing of the announcement
of golden rice was "suspicious," intended to give the agbiotech
[agriculture biotechnology] multinationals a needed publicity boost.
Can you refute this?
Potrykus: This is so stupid. When we initiated our work ten years ago,
agbiotech definitely had no acceptance problems.
AO: Do you see golden rice as "the answer" to nutritional problems in
the underdeveloped world where rice is a staple, or is it merely a
tool to be used alongside others?
Potrykus: Golden rice is meant only to complement traditional
interventions and to improve the vitamin A intake in poor populations.
That said, it will probably be the cheapest and most sustainable
AO: Do you see a role for golden mustard, golden canola, or other
transgenic plants in providing more vitamin A and more nutrition in
general to people in underdeveloped countries?
Potrykus: Of course I see a role for further food crops providing
beta-carotene. Weíve already had discussions with scientists who want
to introduce the trait into wheat, maize (white maize of Africa),
cassava, sweet potato, banana, and so on. Naturally, the work with
mustard and canola helps also. What I want is not only the addition of
beta-carotene but nutritional improvement in general. Thatís why I
have also added the iron trait, and I am working on a high-quality
AO: Do you concur with the assertion that simply by raising nutrition
levels of underdeveloped nations, we can help them become less poor,
leading to overall better nutrition?
Potrykus: Yes, I certainly do.
AO: What do you think of Greenpeaceís insistence that it reserves the
right to take "direct action" against golden rice test plots?
Potrykus: If Greenpeace does this, they will be guilty of a crime
AO: What measures were taken in the past to address vitamin A
deficiency, and what were the problems with those alternatives? Do you
think that Greenpeaceís suggested plan of mass distribution of vitamin
pills make sense in terms of distributing them to hundreds of millions
Potrykus: There is a need for distribution, fortification, dietary
diversification, and education. All of these are important. These
interventions have used an impressive amount of funds that have been
spent over the last twenty years and have been very helpful. But we
still have 500,000 blind children and millions of vitamin A deficiency
deaths every year. The problem with vitamin A pill distribution is
that it does not reach many of those who need it.
AO: Greenpeace has declared the rice to be "foolís gold." How do you
respond to their accusation that it would take an incredible amount of
golden rice consumption to give children the recommended daily
allowance of vitamin A, plus prevent blindness?
Potrykus: This is not true. The golden rice that will finally be given
out to the public will be effective on 300 grams of rice in the diet
AO: In many parts of the world, people who eat rice value its
whiteness. It has a special meaning to them. Will they eat rice that
is not very white? Hasn't this been a barrier to previous efforts in
adding supplements to rice?
Potrykus: This is a problem in some parts of the world, although
probably not in India. People will have the freedom to decide whether
they want healthy children or white rice. We are, however, working on
a solution for the color problem, and we believe that we know how to
AO: Critics insist that $100 million was spent researching golden
rice, but others claim that this figure was total Rockefeller
Foundation spending on rice research over ten years to hundreds of
scientists. Can you clarify this?
Potrykus: The total cost for golden rice development was $2.6 million,
spent over ten years in the lab of Peter Beyer and myself. These funds
were from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Swiss Federation, the
National Science Foundation, and the European Union. The investment
was approximately one-fourth of 1 percent of the money spent on
traditional interventions. Compared to the $100 million plus
Greenpeace spends per year, this was a very small investment.
Q: Should Consumers Be Concerned about Bio-engineered Crops? Yes and No
Washington Times' Insight Magazine 8/6/01
Yes: Genetically Altered Corn Has Contaminated Foods And May Make
By William Freese, Friends of Earth
In less than a decade, biotechnology companies have transformed much
of the American food supply with genetic engineering. This
transformation has occurred unbeknownst to the majority of Americans,
who only now are waking up to the fact that they and the environment
are guinea pigs in a vast and uncontrolled experiment. The biotech
industry's goal is to expand the scope of this experiment as quickly
as possible so that there is no turning back. In the words of biotech
consultant Don Westfall, "The hope of the industry is that over time
the market is so flooded that there's nothing you can do about it. You
just sort of surrender." This appears to be the strategy of Aventis
CropScience, which now is urging the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) to approve residues of its genetically engineered StarLink corn
in the food supply. StarLink has never been approved for human
consumption (only for animal feed) because some of the nation's
leading allergists fear that its Cry9C protein might cause serious
allergic reactions. In fact, at least two of the people with suspected
reactions to StarLink experienced life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
Meanwhile, more than 200 people suspect that they have suffered
allergic reactions to StarLink. At least 94 of these individuals
sought medical attention; 20 of them visited emergency rooms. But the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tested the blood of only 17
people for the telltale antibodies indicating an allergic reaction had
occurred. Contamination is so widespread, Aventis says, that there is
no choice but to approve it. Cry9C nevertheless contaminated tens of
millions of supermarket products due to the negligence of Aventis,
which failed to inform many farmers that StarLink could not be sold
for human consumption. As a result, U.S. farmers have lost millions of
dollars in corn exports to Japan and Korea, which have turned to
Brazil, China and other countries that offer nongenetically engineered
This cynical strategy of surrender has been accompanied by three other
tactics: an adamant denial of the public's right to know that it is
eating genetically engineered foods; a successful effort to undermine
the government's regulatory system; and a $50-million-per-year
public-relations campaign to convince Americans that genetically
engineered foods are beneficial. Numerous polls show that 80 to more
than 90 percent of Americans want genetically engineered foods labeled
as such. More than 100,000 citizens have voiced their support for
labeling to Congress and the FDA. The European Union (EU) and eight
other nations already require labeling of genetically engineered foods.
If these novel foods really are as safe and beneficial as claimed, why
does the industry object to this simple measure? Why the secrecy? One
possible reason is fear of liability: A growing number of doctors
support labeling to permit assessment of whether their patients have
experienced adverse health effects because of engineered foods.
Secrecy extends from the supermarkets into the fields. Thousands of
open-air field trials of genetically engineered crops currently are
being conducted nationwide. Some of these involve plants that produce
drugs, vaccines or industrial enzymes. Yet the public has no way of
knowing where these trials are being conducted or which drugs the
plants produce. In most cases, the foreign gene is kept secret as
"confidential business information." Neighboring farmers, whose own
crops could become contaminated, also are left in the dark, unable to
defend themselves against the cross-pollination that could turn their
sweet corn into corn that produces blood thinner or a rabies vaccine.
With more than 80 seed brands now contaminated, the StarLink fiasco
clearly demonstrates that cross-pollination occurs at much greater
distances than once believed.
One problem is that government agencies that regulate genetically
engineered crops - especially the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) and the FDA - have fallen completely under the sway of
industry. According to Henry Miller, head of biotech for the FDA from
1979 to 1994, "In this area [biotech-foods regulation], the U.S.
government agencies have done exactly what big agribusiness has asked
them to do and told them to do." When regulations were being
formulated in the early 1990s, FDA scientists voiced numerous
objections to the policy of treating genetically engineered foods as
"substantially equivalent" to their conventional counterparts. One
frequently cited concern was that genetically engineered genes could
exert "pleiotropic," or unintended, effects. Unfortunately, these
sensible objections by FDA scientists were overridden by higher-ups at
the agency. Their major concern was not food safety but rather making
the process for market introduction of genetically engineered crops as
quick and inexpensive as possible for the biotech companies.
This bias gave rise to an Orwellian world where the meaning of words
is twisted to prejudge the outcome of testing and regulation. The
dogma of "substantial equivalence" between genetically engineered
crops and their conventional counterparts exempts the overwhelming
majority of biotech foods from the stringent testing that otherwise
would be required under the food-additive provisions of the Federal
Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Richard Burroughs, an FDA scientist who
was fired after demanding additional testing of Monsanto's genetically
engineered bovine-growth hormone, pointed out that the FDA's review
process had morphed into an "approval process." The same bias is
evident in the very name of an FDA agency that deals with biotech
foods, the Office of Premarket Approval.
The industry often claims biotech foods are the most thoroughly tested
foods in history. Yet industry testing of biotech crops invariably is
conducted not on the genetically engineered protein actually produced
in the plant but rather on a surrogate protein produced by bacteria
such as E. coli. The same foreign-gene sequence engineered into plants
is inserted into bacteria, which can produce large quantities of the
foreign protein more cheaply for studies of its potential
allergenicity and toxicity. The trouble is that the bacterial-produced
proteins often differ markedly from their plant-produced counterparts.
For instance, plants often attach sugar molecules to proteins in a
process known as glycosylation. Bacteria, on the other hand, do not
glycosylate the proteins they produce. These sugar molecules often are
critical to the protein's structure and function, and they also can
alter its immunologic properties. Recognition by the immune system is
a critical factor in whether a protein can cause allergies - one of
the major concerns about genetically engineered crops.
In the case of StarLink corn, Aventis and the government have known
since 1997 that StarLink's Cry9C protein probably is glycosylated.
Nevertheless, nearly every study has been conducted on unglycosylated
bacterial Cry9C. As the FDA acknowledges, this critical difference
casts doubt on recent allergy tests the government conducted on people
with suspected allergic reactions to StarLink corn.
The StarLink investigation also is flawed by the FDA's failure to
investigate details about hundreds of corn-related allergy complaints
reported to the food industry. Instead, the government has
investigated only those people who directly called the FDA. Finally,
the government's investigation fails to account for the extra
susceptibility of children to allergies. To the best of our knowledge,
only one child was tested. Even if no concerns about the health
impacts existed, there still is the question of whether engineered
crops really offer the benefits claimed by industry. Biotech foods are
supposed to permit less pesticide use while delivering increased
yields and better nutrition. Some proponents even contend that biotech
foods are needed to feed a hungry world.
The truth, however, is that biotech foods currently on the market
offer none of these benefits. By far the most common genetically
engineered trait - herbicide resistance - has led to increased use of
toxic chemicals such as Monsanto's Roundup weed killer. Roundup kills
conventional soybeans and just about any other plant it contacts,
which is why farmers are limited to application before the seeds
sprout. With "Roundup-Ready" soybeans, farmers can apply Monsanto's
patented herbicide at any time. The yield statistics for
"Roundup-Ready" soybeans also belie the myth of increased yields. A
survey of more than 8,000 field trials shows an average 6 percent
decrease in yield versus conventional soybeans. Finally, independent
research suggests that Monsanto's genetically engineered soybeans
contain lower levels of phytoestrogens - important nutrients
associated with reduced risk of cancer - than conventional soybeans.
The most manipulative biotech-industry myth, however, is the supposed
need for genetic engineering to feed a hungry world. The industry has
heavily promoted so-called "golden rice" - an experimental crop at
least five years from commercialization - which is genetically
manipulated to produce minute quantities of Vitamin A precursor, as a
solution to Vitamin A deficiency, a serious condition that causes
blindness in many parts of the developing world. Yet the industry hype
leaves out important facts.
For instance, a woman would need to eat at least 16 pounds of cooked
"golden rice" every day to get her minimum daily requirement of
Vitamin A. In addition, malnourished people in the developing world
often lack other critical nutrients necessary for the body to absorb
and utilize Vitamin A. Most importantly, the $100 million already
spent on golden rice could have been applied much more effectively to
proven, low-tech solutions to malnutrition - including promotion of
home-vegetable gardens - that would address a wide range of critical
vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Far from being a panacea, genetic engineering represents the latest
phase in the relentless industrialization of agriculture that has
degraded our farmlands and environment, laced our foods with toxic
chemicals and forced millions of family farmers off the land. But
there is hope. More consumers are turning to healthy, organic foods
that are grown without pesticides or genetic modification and are
often available at local farmers' markets. The growing number of
farmers who serve this market are reclaiming their rightful share of
the food dollar. The future of agriculture lies not in manipulating
genes to "improve" upon creation, but in sustainable-farming practices
that preserve the Earth's bounty for our children.
Freese serves as a senior policy analyst for Friends of the Earth,
which is a nonprofit environmental-advocacy organization that has
affiliate groups in 69 countries.
No: These Crops Pass Multiple Tests Before Approval And Are A Boon To
The World's Hungry.
By L. Val Giddings, BIO
Based on the overwhelming body of scientific evidence supporting the
safety of bioengineered crops, the answer is resoundingly "no." James
Watson, Nobel Prize-winning biologist and codiscoverer of the DNA
double helix, said it best years ago: "When considering the risks of
recombinant DNA, we shy at kittens and cuddle tigers."
Critics of agricultural biotechnology harp on a series of myths and
misstatements to support their position that these foods and crops are
unsafe. Let's examine the most prevalent.
The first myth is that we should be fearful and cautious - even to the
point of moratoriums or bans - of innovations brought to agriculture
through biotechnology because "no one is minding the shop." According
to this thesis, companies haphazardly develop and commercialize what
they want with inadequate regard for consumer safety or the
environment. Not true. Crops and foods improved through biotechnology
have been subjected to more scrutiny - in advance, and in more depth
and detail - than any foods in history. An open and abundant record
documenting this scrutiny is available to anyone who is curious.
Three federal agencies share responsibility for ensuring, in advance,
that foods and crops developed through biotechnology are at least as
safe as their "conventional" counterparts. The U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversee crops and foods according
to a road map laid out in 1986 - known as the "Coordinated Framework."
According to this framework, the USDA handles any potential threats to
U.S. agriculture and the environment, the FDA safeguards the food
supply, and the EPA deals both with crops improved to resist insects
and with environmental issues not covered elsewhere. In the course of
this regulatory oversight, the typical crop developed through
biotechnology travels a research, development and regulatory pathway
that takes, on average, 12 years and generates volumes of analytical
and safety studies. During this process, every reasonable question
related to food safety imaginable is asked and answered. If any of the
answers reveals material differences between the biotech and
conventional crop or food, the differences guide the further
examination required before a finding of safety can be reached.
The first biotechnology-enhanced whole food - the Flavr Savr tomato
produced by Calgene in 1992 - generated enough regulatory-review
documents to occupy 6 feet of shelf space. Compare this with the
regulatory oversight visited upon a tomato produced through
conventional breeding. The contrast is telling. Another myth is that
farmers adopt the technology only because they have no choice and are
backing away from it in the face of customer rejection. The facts
again tell a different story: USDA statistics show that for the 2001
growing season, the proportion of U.S. acreage devoted to crops
improved through biotechnology continues to increase. It currently
stands at 68 percent for soybeans (up from 54 percent last year), 69
percent for cotton (up from 61 percent) and 26 percent for corn.
Recent reports from an independent agricultural analyst confirm the
benefits biotechnology has brought, is bringing and can bring not only
to these major-commodity crops, but also to other crops, including
some in desperate need of help (see www.ncfap.org). Family farmers are
not fools. They carefully weigh and evaluate their planting choices
and hedge their bets. Their strong, rapid embrace of biotechnology
provides eloquent testimony to the benefits of these crops. There are
a host of other myths. Critics claim, for example, that the industry
is opposed to labeling foods because it has something to hide, that
biotech corn kills monarch butterflies and that the StarLink-corn
episode shows biotech crops are unsafe and cannot be controlled.
Let's begin with food labels. Who possibly could be opposed to
providing consumers with information labels relating to health, safety
and nutrition? The answer is, of course, nobody. But advocates of
labeling for biotech foods are not calling for labels that tell
information about health, safety and nutrition that is accurate and
informative. Such labels are required by law, have been supported by
the biotech industry, and have included foods improved through biotech
since 1992. Those clamoring for special labels simply want to
stigmatize foods improved through biotech, while they misrepresent the
rigorous regulatory process and proven safety of these products. Such
labels will allow them to organize boycotts and economic blackmail.
They argue that special labels are required to ensure "consumer
choice" for those who want to stick to "natural" foods. Never mind
that 10 millennia of artificial selection by humans means that
virtually nothing on a dinner plate in the industrial world would be
recognized by our hunter-gatherer ancestors of not so long ago. Those
ancestors would marvel at the blessings crude genetic modification
have brought to humanity through improved crops and livestock.
"Natural" corn has an ear the size of the last digit of your little
finger. "Natural" tomatoes are the size of a grape, and a stunted one
at that. "Natural" wheat appears to be a cross between at least three
grass species. And poodles are nothing less than genetically modified
wolves. Products of modern biotechnology, by contrast, result from
manipulations with specific intent from the greatest base of human
knowledge and understanding in history, with the greatest degree of
precision and predictability - and therefore safety assurance - that
we have ever had.
Another myth: monarch butterflies. One quick-and-dirty lab experiment
resulted in numerous stories about threats to "the 'Bambi' of the
insect world," indeed to all biodiversity, from toxic clouds of
biotech corn pollen. The dramatic images again are contradicted by
reality. But here is the crux - even if biotech corn pollen killed
monarchs outside the laboratory and in the field (for which there
still is no evidence), the question should be: Does it kill more or
less than the alternative? Of the nearly dozen available corn
varieties containing Bt (a naturally occurring soil bacteria that acts
as an insecticide), only one (now retired at the natural end of its
commercial life) had the potential to be toxic to exposed monarch
larvae. That one variety was never grown on more than 2 percent of the
U.S. corn acreage. And even then, it was in places where the potential
was extremely low for corn pollen occurring while monarch larvae were
If the alternative to Bt corn is pesticide sprays, there's no contest.
Insecticide sprays are nonselective, killing almost all insects -
adults and feeding larvae - whenever applied. Bt corn pollen, at
worst, would be a problem for only a small portion of the monarch
larvae present throughout the breeding season and only in limited
areas. Two years of field research confirmed that not only were the
risk assessments preceding introduction of Bt corn correct in
concluding minimal risk to monarchs but that, because of various
factors a Bt cornfield actually might be the safest place for a
monarch to lay its eggs! Another myth debunked.
And finally, StarLink. Here is a genuine black eye for the industry.
There is no getting around it. The fact that a variety of corn not
approved for human use entered the human food supply may be
understandable, but it was inexcusable. But let us keep the matter in
perspective. Even after StarLink, the reality is this: Although humans
around the world during the last decade have eaten hundreds of
millions of tons of foods derived from crops improved through
biotechnology, there still is not so much as a single, solitary
sniffle or headache positively linked to their consumption. This
safety record is the envy of conventional- and organic-food production.
StarLink represents a rare failure of the regulatory system, not a
threat to human health. It is a failure the industry united to pledge
would not be repeated, even before the federal regulatory agencies
moved to close the regulatory gate through which it had slipped - the
possibility of "split approvals" (i.e., approval for animal feed but
not human food use) for major-commodity crops. It never should have
happened, and it will not happen again. The recent report by the FDA
and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that individuals
claiming allergic reactions to eating foods containing corn had no
antibodies to the StarLink protein further reinforces the argument
that even had it been an allergen, the exposure level was too low to
result in allergic reactions.
Many other myths collide fatally with reality once rhetoric is set
aside and the facts are considered dispassionately. The question then
arises, "How many questions have to be answered before the critics
will withdraw their objections to biotechnology in agriculture?"
The answer now is apparent: For some, no answers are sufficient
because the questions are only a means to an end. The end is
opposition to what is seen as increasing concentration and corporate
control of agriculture. I would respond with a simple thought
experiment - wave a magic wand and make biotechnology go away. How
many of the problems of concentration and economic transformation in
agriculture vanish with biotechnology? None.
Biotechnology is, at least in part, a solution to many problems. But
it is inarguable that the companies applying biotechnology to
agriculture are leaving untouched many opportunities, especially those
that would benefit the poorest of the poor. A constructive resolution
might be had: If more of us joined in a rational, fact-based debate
about biotechnology and got behind increased public-sector support for
biotechnology (and all effective appropriate technologies) aimed at
areas corporate research is unlikely to cover, the possibilities for
progress would improve substantially. In the end, we could leave our
children a much greener, richer, healthier world than we found. Why
not do it?
Giddings is vice president for food and agriculture at the
Biotechnology Industry Organization. It represents biotechnology
companies and centers, and academic institutions.
Are rDNA Products Less Safe?
From: "Gord Surgeoner"
In Canada the debate on labelling of genetically modified foods
continues. About 50 groups have been engaged in this process including
very importantly the definition of what constitutes "genetically
modified." A number of groups who have been supportive of
biotechnology and Canada's unique definition of genetically modified
presented the attached information to Canadian parliamentarians. In
Canada regulatory oversight is triggered not by method e.g. r-DNA
technology but rather creation of novel proteins in food crops whether
by r-DNA, mutagenesis, species out crossing etc. There is increasing
pressure to harmonize with other jurisdictions (U.S./E.U.) so that
labelling and regulations reflect r-DNA technology only. I would
appreciate comments on the attached and whether there is any
"scientific" reason that r-DNA technology should be considered less
safe than novel proteins created by mutagenesis or species out
crossings. Also please note that Canada's regulatory framework for
"genetically modified" was initiated in 1994 so that products
developed by mutagenesis and out crossing prior to 1994 would not be
considered. However, since 1994 "novel traits" have been regulated.
Gord Surgeoner , President, Ontario Agri-Food Technologies
Regulation and Labelling Issues: Genetically Modified Foods
Presentation to Parliamentarians; May 30-31, 2001
Agricultural Groups Concerned about Resources and the Environment (AGCare)
AGCare is a coalition of 17 Ontario farm organizations concerned with
environmental and farm resource issues. We welcome the opportunity to
discuss concerns related to the regulation and labelling of
genetically modified foods/crops. We are pleased to do so in
cooperation with representatives from the Consumers' Association of
Canada, the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors and Ontario
We have two specific issues to address:
Issue 1. The integrity of the Canadian regulatory system for
foods/crops with novel traits must be maintained.
Since 1994, under a regulation of the Food and Drugs Act, all new
'genetically modified' crops (i.e., crops that have been genetically
altered to express novel traits) must be thoroughly assessed to ensure
their safety for human and animal health and for the environment
before they can be grown in Canada or used in foods marketed here.
This system is more comprehensive than that used in most other
countries. It is also more scientifically sound, recognizing that the
potential risks of genetic modification are equal, regardless of the
technique by which it is achieved, whether through recombinant DNA
(r-DNA) technology, where single genes are changed and/or transferred
between species, artificial mutagenesis (random genetic change caused
by nuclear bombardment or chemical mutagens), artificial wide-crosses
between species created using sophisticated lab methods, or other
means. There is broad recognition within the international scientific
community of the benefits of regulating new crops/foods based on the
traits they express, rather than on the process by which those traits
are created - supporters include the U.S. National Academy of Science,
the American Medical Association, OECD and the FAO/WHO (see attached).
Consumers have also indicated their support for Canada's current
regulatory approach to genetically modified foods/crops. For example,
a 1999 survey of Ontario and Quebec consumers conducted by Ontario
Agri-Food Technologies found that most consider 'genetic engineering'
(the term is used interchangeably with 'genetic modification') to
include much more than just recombinant DNA techniques. And they were
just as concerned about changes made by the other techniques as they
were with those made through the application of r-DNA technologies.
Similar results were found in focus group discussions held across
Canada by the Consumers' Association of Canada in early 2000.
Although the Canadian approach to regulation of genetically modified
crops/foods and other forms of novel traits is clearly superior,
several groups are currently attempting to narrow the scope of the
Canadian regulatory process so that it aligns more closely with the
lower standards used in other countries. These groups include large
companies and institutions interested in having crops modified through
techniques other than r-DNA registered more easily, international
grain and oilseed traders interested in having the designation of
'genetic modification' restricted to as few crops and foods as
possible, and some food manufacturers that want to reduce the number
of foods designated as 'genetically modified'.
A major threat comes in the form of Bill C-287, An Act to amend the
Food and Drugs Act (mandatory labelling for genetically modified
foods), which would reduce the scope of the GM definition to match the
lower standards prevalent in other countries. Bill C-287 would limit
the regulatory scope to products of r-DNA or the widest forms of 'wide
crosses'. Crosses within plant families could be exempted from the
current level of regulatory scrutiny: crossing corn with bananas or
barnyard grass, soybeans or peas with peanuts, and potatoes or
tomatoes with deadly nightshade are all examples of such potential
crosses. The integrity of the Canadian approach must be maintained,
and we must strive to make the system better, not worse.
Issue 2. Voluntary labelling makes more sense than mandatory labelling.
Various polls say many Canadians want mandatory labelling of foods
containing or derived from genetically modified crops/organisms.
Unfortunately, the pollsters rarely or never tell Canadians what this
means, nor what the costs might be.
Mandatory labelling does exist or is being introduced in several other
countries. As their regulators struggle to develop workable labelling
systems under which all foods are designated as either GM or non-GM,
the result is proving to be, invariably, large numbers of exemptions
and loopholes to address many of the difficulties inherent in such a
process - those associated with complex manufactured foods, for
example, or abilities to detect, or rules for minor ingredients where
non-GM sources are almost impossible to secure (vitamin B12, as an
The Europeans, for example, are exempting ingredients made from GM
crops if evidence of the modification cannot be detected through
currently available testing procedures. Examples are sugars, starch
and oil from corn, and processed oils and manufactured products made
from canola and soybean oil. The Japanese are targeting only the top
three ingredients in processed foods and ignoring ingredients where
direct detection is impossible. They are also using very high
tolerance limits (5%) for GM ingredients. And all of these countries
are exempting genetically modified crops/foods developed through
processes other than r-DNA technology, despite the fact that
scientifically, these products carry equal or greater potential risk.
The voluntary approach being developed by the Canadian General
Standards Board (CGSB), upon request from the Canadian Council of
Grocery Distributors, is highly commendable. Rather than force all
food or food ingredients to carry a GM or non-GM designation, such an
approach allows labelling to be reserved for instances where the
origins of food ingredients can be clearly determined. As a result,
labelling can be expected to be both more honest and more meaningful,
with little need for the exemptions and loopholes instituted within
present mandatory labelling regimes elsewhere. It will also be much
less costly -- those who trust the regulatory system to ensure food
safety will not be required to pay the extra costs associated with GM
or non-GM food production, segregation, marketing and labelling. Those
who wish to purchase foods produced without GM ingredients, and are
willing to pay the associated costs (as is now the case with organic
foods), will be able to do so.
That the CGSB process has taken longer than initially expected is a
function of the complexity of issues to be addressed in achieving
truthful and meaningful standards. And this complexity is nothing
compared to what would be required with a mandatory system.
Our request is that Parliamentarians: S Refuse to allow the superior
Canadian approach to regulation of novel crop/food traits and the
associated definition of 'genetic modification' to be undermined S
Give the CGSB process the opportunity to work given the superiority of
the voluntary approach to GM food labelling.
Regulation of Genetically Modified Foods: International Opinion on
Product vs. Process
We found no strict distinction between the health and environmental
risks posed by plants modified through modern genetic engineering
techniques and those modified by conventional breeding practices. In
other words, the breeding process is not the issue; it is the product
that should be the focal point of regulation and public scrutiny .
This is why government regulation of these plants must continue to
focus on their individual properties. Perry Adkisson, Chair Committee
on Genetically Modified Pest-Protected Plants National Research
Council, National Academy of Sciences 5 April 2000
Because both [conventional breeding and transgenic] methods have the
potential to produce organisms of high or low risks, the committee
agrees that the properties of a genetically modified organism should
be the focus of risk assessments, not the process by which it was
Genetically Modified Pest-Protected Plants: Science and Regulation
National Research Council, 2000
The safety assessment of genetically modified foods requires methods
to detect and evaluate the impact of unintended effects, such as the
acquisition of new traits or the loss of existing traits. The
potential occurrence of unintended effects is not unique to the
application of recombinant DNA techniques, but is also a general
phenomenon in conventional breeding. Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert
Consultation on Foods Derived from Biotechnology Geneva, Switzerland
29 May - 2 June 2000
Federal regulatory oversight of agricultural biotechnology should
continue to be science-based and guided by the characteristics of the
plant, its intended use, and the environment into which it is
introduced, not by the method used to produce it, in order to
facilitate comprehensive, efficient regulatory review of new
genetically modified crops and food.
The AMA believes that as of December, 2000, there is no scientific
justification for special labelling of genetically modified foods.
- Policy statement of the American Medical Association adopted as AMA
policy at the 2000 Interim AMA Meeting
There is a widespread scientific consensus that in assessing risks, it
is not the process applied in breeding but the genetic outcome and
the trait it confers to the plant that matters. All plant breeding
methods, traditional and modern, have the potential to lead to
unexpected or unintended changes in concentrations of various
substances in the plants. It is important that all new varieties be
evaluated, in order to reduce the likelihood that unexpected changes
will produce adverse health effects.
The risks associated with biotechnology-derived foods are not
inherently different from the risks associated with conventional ones.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Report
of the Task Force for the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds 17-May-2000
178. We recommend that there should be triggers other than genetic
modification which bring the assessment and management system into
action, as is the case for novel foods. We recommend that, from now
on, any crop with novel traits which may have the potential to impact
significantly on the environment should be subject to an oversight
system (paragraph 91).
- Recommendation of the House of Lords Select Committee on the
European Communities Report on EC Regulation of Genetic Modification
Should biotech's creations, especially those produced through
recombinant DNA techniques, be regulated on the basis of the sort of
products they are or on the basis of how they were produced? The
latter approach opens the door to regulatory burdens based not on
actual risks but on fear of the science. One result is that two
identical organisms, be they simple microbes or complex plants, may be