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Date:

September 20, 2001

Subject:

Consumer Hostility Myth; Crying Wolf; Regrettable EU

 

Today's Topics in AgBioView.

* Mexican Tomatoes and British Consumers....
* Biotech Protesters: More Crying `Wolf'
* EU Stance on Biotech Regrettable: Belgian ex-Ag. Minister
* GM Decision Will Show Govt's Economic Mettle
* Fruits of Filipino Biotech
* Facts on Biotech Crops – Impact on Meat, Milk and Eggs
* Biotech Online High School Resource On Gene Technology

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Mexican Tomatoes and British Consumers....

(From: mark.cantley@cec.eu.int)

A slight correction to the item about a news item on Mexico posted on AgBioView (Sept 19, 2001), which in passing implied that FlavrSavr tomatoes were marketed in the United Kingdom. This was not the case, although the basic technology (suppression of polygalacturonase activity) was the same. Zeneca's tomatoes, grown in California indeed, were processing tomatoes, for canned tomato purée; FlavrSavr were fresh tomatoes. The Zeneca product was very successful commercially when sold in the UK, launched February 1996, through leading supermarkets Safeway and Sainsbury's. The cans of tomato purée were clearly labelled as genetically modified produce, and gained up to 60% market share within that business segment.

The story is important, illustrating that consumer hostility to "GM foods" is a myth. The whole exercise was meticulously planned with all links in the production/distribution chain, and the choice of purée as a first product was careful and deliberate. Alas, their further plans were derailed by several factors which you know only too well - the spread of BSE to humans as new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was announced in the UK parliament in March 1996, campaigns were launched against GM foods, and authorisation for production in Europe was refused. A sad but important story, which should not be forgotten.

- Mark Cantley, Brussels

>"Corn underpins so much of the world's farming economy. And yet, in the past
>five years Mexico has not licensed any new biotech crop technologies.
>It's interesting to note that the very first biotech crop, the Flavorsaver (sic)
>Tomato, was first grown in Mexico in the mid 1990s. At the same time it was
>grown in California, it was grown in Mexico because of the late growing season.
>That tomato was marketed to Great Britain. It was clearly labeled as a
>genetically modified food in Britain, and yet it flew off the shelves."

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Biotech Protesters: More Crying `Wolf'

- Intertec Publishing Corporation, A PRIMEDIA Com; Delta Farm Press via NewsEdge Corporation' hbrandon@primediabusiness.com

They're at it again: eco-terrorists in France, wielding scythes and sickles, waded into a research plot of genetically modified corn and hacked it to the ground. Then they took the plants and dumped them outside the city hall in the nearby village.

This demonstrated, their spokesman said, "the local feeling" about genetically modified crops. Destroying the plots, he said, "feels really good." Although France's coalition government has half-heartedly denounced the ongoing protests and destruction of GMO fields, it has had little impact, particularly since the agriculture department made public a list of areas where GMO plots are located.

Needless to say, it all received extensive coverage in the media. At about the same time, the Greenpeace organization, never at a loss for ways to get media attention, was stirring the scare pot with claims that a newly-completed, more detailed analysis of the genetic code of Roundup Ready soybeans showed "junk" bits of DNA that, it said, represent unknown but potentially serious health and environmental hazards.

Which the non-profit Center for Global Food Issues labeled, in so many words, as outright bunk, noting that the soybean varieties and the DNA "have been fully scrutinized through an extensive battery of health and environmental safety tests and there is no evidence of human health or environmental problems." The center said the discovery of inactive or "junk" DNA fragments in biotechnology-improved soybeans is just another attempt by political activists "who seek to create public fear to promote alternative agendas.

The real mystery is why anyone continues to pay attention when these groups cry `wolf.'? While the protesters in the extremely well-fed countries of Europe and the United Kingdom are opposing the scientific advances that hold the potential to produce more and better food on fewer acres with less environmental impact, a new report from the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute says more than 100 million of the world's children are expected to live with hunger over the next 20 years.

The problem is predicted to be particularly acute in developing nations and sub-Saharan Africa, where lack of adequate land, water, and other resources limit crop production.

A recent article by Dr. Florence Wambugu in the Washington Post addresses the GMO tempest in a teapot from a less Olympian perspective than that of the protesters: "As one in a family of nine children growing up on a small farm in Kenya's highlands, I learned firsthand about the enormous challenge of breaking the cycle of poverty and hunger in rural Africa," she writes. "The reason I became a plant scientist was to help farmers like my mother, who sold the only cow our family owned to pay for my secondary education -- a sacrifice in more ways than one because I, like most children in Kenya, was needed on the farm."

Ms. Wambugu, who is now director of the non-profit International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications-AfriCenter, has made it her mission to alert others to the urgent need for new technology in Africa to help counter hunger, environmental devastation, and poverty. "African growers desperately need access to best management practices, fertilizer, better seeds, and biotechnology to help improve crop production -- currently the lowest in the world per unit area of land. Traditional agricultural practices... will not be sufficient to feed the additional millions... who will inhabit the continent 50 years from now."

Thanks to assistance from U.S. biotech scientists, she notes, new sweet potato varieties are being developed that are resistant to the virus that previously decimated yield. Soon African farmers may realize a 90 percent improvement in yield of this key crop.

Why aren't these types of biotechnology applications more readily available to poor farmers in Africa and elsewhere, Ms Wambugu asks. "I believe blame lies with the critics who claim that Africa has no chance to benefit from biotechnology...(and)... who have never experienced hunger and death on the scale we sadly witness in Africa...

"The people of Africa cannot wait for others to debate the merits of biotechnology," she says, urging President Bush and other world leaders to "make it a priority" to bring the benefits of biotechnology to developing countries.

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EU Stance on Biotech Regrettable: Belgian ex-Ag. Minister

EU/AGRICULTURE COUNCIL/ Mr Gabriels hopes debate on biotechnology scheduled for Tuesday's informal Council meeting will stimulate research

September 20, 2001 ; Agence Europe September 17, 2001

Genk, 17/09/2001 (Agence Europe) - The former Belgian Agriculture Minister, Jaak Gabriels, the initiator of the debate on biotechnology scheduled for this Tuesday's informal Agriculture Council, has told EUROPE that he hoped the EU would commit itself to making greater investment in research into genetically modified plants and producing energy from biomass. He felt it was regrettable that the EU (unlike the United States, or more particularly Argentina and Canada) had deliberately refused to exploit the commercial potential of biotechnology applications in agriculture since the moratorium on the authorisations for marketing and spreading GMOs in the environment. He maintained that the European Parliament would be prepared to request that the moratorium be lifted, as long as harmonised rules ensuring the traceability of food containing GMOs were put in place (which is what the European Commission hopes to do with its new proposals, see EUROPE of 27 July, p.5). Mr Gabriels also hoped that this debate would b

The discussion between the EU15 Agriculture Ministers should begin around 10h30 after five scientists representing the five continents have addressed the ministers. At this point, Mr Gabriels will leave the current Belgian Agriculture Minister, Annemie Neyts, to exercise her role of Council President alone, while he reports to the press on the content of the speeches delivered by the experts. While insisting on the need for and the safety of genetically modified foodstuffs,

Chinese Professor Zhang-Liang Chen, from the national laboratory for protein engineering and plant genetics (Beijing University), is expected to recall that, in 1998, China marketed genetically engineered plants, mainly Bt cotton resistant to insects as well as varieties of virus-resistant sweet pepper and tomatoes. The putting into circulation of such products was, however, slowed down because of the debate on environmental issues and food safety raised by genetically modified crops. China has therefore not given the go-ahead for the marketing of any genetically modified plant variety belonging to the main food crops, such as rice, corn, maize and soya. African

Professor John Monyo, from FAO, believes rapid and highly significant progress has been made in the application of modern biotechnology to food crops and forests (techniques for plant reproduction, diagnosis concerning parasites and diseases, the creation of GM plants with increased output and better resistance to diseases, and recourse to genetic maps and identification, the genome and information technology in genetic selection). In his view, 24% of genetically modified plants grown, such as soya, maize, colza and cotton, are located in developing countries. He is expected to stress that, among the countries opposed to genetically modified crops, there are mainly 'those where one has never had to fall asleep with an empty stomach'. 'One has not to refuse developing countries the possibilities offered by biotechnology and genetic engineering (better crop tolerance to drought, salinity, and low soil fertility), we read in his planned speech.

Karen Dodds, Director General of the Directorate General for health food products of Canada and whose country is playing an important role in aligning at world level assessment methods of the harmfulness of foods to emerge from biotechnology, will explain that since 1994, 50 genetically modified plant products (wheat, soja, potatoes) have passed all the stages of the national regulatory procedure. British Professor Philip Dale of the John Innes Centre (Norwich, UK), who should be placing emphasis on the environmental consequences of genetically modified crops, will brief ministers on an experiment currently underway in the United Kingdom, which consists in comparing the indirect effects of three genetically modified plant rendered tolerant to certain herbicides.

'Genetically modified crops could attenuate or aggravate the agricultural impact on the environment. They will aggravate it if they make farming move towards mono-culture. They could reduce the harmful effects thanks to a targeted control of parasites, diseases and weeds and if genetically modified crops are integrated in health farming practices, that play in favour of natural life and soil fertility on farmland. We cannot for that rely on market forces', he should add. Finally, Paul Dymock, Oceania representative will place emphasis on the potential, limits and promotion of the biomass produced from wood, beet, wheat and sorghum.

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GM Decision Will Show Govt's Economic Mettle

- Bob Edlin. , Independent Business Weekly 19-Sep-2001

The (NZ) government's response to a warning sounded last week will test the strength of its commitment to economic transformation. The warning came from Craig Norgate, chief executive of Fonterra Corporation, perhaps better known as the dairy industry's Global Co. If New Zealand is to build a knowledge society, it must allow biotechnology in all its forms, Norgate said. Genetic modification research cannot be excluded.

Braying about transforming New Zealand's traditional economic base and shaping a knowledge economy, government ministers and back-benchers met leading international bankers, scientists, economists and policy experts at the 'Knowledge Wave' conference in July. The government can now show whether it aims to propel the economy forwards or drag it backwards.

Norgate was urging the government against extending a moratorium on genetic modification research. An extension would make it impossible for the New Zealand industry to remain competitive with developments in that field of science without moving its research operations offshore, he said. An extension would have a negative impact on the dairy business here. It would also nudge our scientists into leading their junior colleagues and students offshore.

Norgate referred to his industry's 'extraordinary pool of world-class scientific knowledge and talent.' Our international competitors would be cheered hugely if we crippled this talent with a moratorium. Investment in biosciences, on the other hand, would be deterred. Norgate nevertheless insisted: 'This does not mean that we wish to use genetically modified ingredients in our products.'

This inevitably must raise suspicions among those hell-bent on delaying, if not stopping, GM research. If Fonterra doesn't intend using GM ingredients in its products, why bother pressing for the right to do GM research? The answer is that the dairy industry wants to be sure it can make sensible choices about the commercial application of genetically-modified organisms in the future.

Underpinning its concerns is the reality that this country is overwhelmingly dependent on biological products, including dairy products, meat, wool, fish, and fruit and vegetables. To maintain and enhance our standard of living, we must maintain and enhance the competitiveness of our primary industries. The dairy industry is the biggest of these; the meat industry is not far behind. Like the others, they must operate in an era of biotechnological revolution which critically includes genetic modification.

Fodder improvement serves as one important example. Production cost is a critical area of economic advantage enjoyed by the dairy industry over its competition, but in recent years New Zealand has been losing ground. Breeding better grasses and fodder crops would give the industry the means to ensure it stays ahead of the others.

This does not necessarily mean genetic manipulation but it does involve understanding gene sequences and the hugely complex technologies involved, so that better crops can be bred naturally. Therefore the government must do what the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification recommended, and allow the responsible use of genetic modification. The commission warned that caution is needed and urged strict controls on field trials. Our primary industries do not disagree. More critically, the commission rejected as impractical the notion that New Zealand could be 'GE-free.'

Its recommendations dismayed critics of genetic modification, some of whom fear their food will be contaminated by the technological consequences. Market realities should keep the lid on, however. Companies like Fonterra must, above all, keep their customers happy. When the royal commission's report was published some two months ago, spokesmen from both the Meat and Dairy Boards emphasised the importance of keeping GM product out of the food chain until it is demonstrably safe and consumers have accepted it.

Customers are unlikely to accept it if it is not demonstrably safe and their perceptions of wholesome food will limit the nature of GM research until they give the green light for more extensive work. While meat and dairy industry leaders agree with the need for caution because they accept there are uncertainties and unknowns, they also believe there is huge potential for genetic research and say each issue should be considered on its own merits.

The dairy industry is only too aware that genetic modification is being embraced eagerly by its competition. If New Zealand does nothing, it will be left behind. It must do the laboratory research needed to keep up with the technological play, so that if and when consumer perceptions change, it is not left standing at the starting gate. This approach will help to tap the huge potential from improved pasture and animal breeding and new product development.

As Dairy Board spokesman Neville Martin cautioned in July: 'We must move cautiously, conservatively, always listening to the concerns of the market.' Allan Frazer, group executive special projects at Meat New Zealand, similarly said his organisation believes it is important that New Zealand gains intellectual property protection in key areas and to keep top scientists here. But the overriding consideration he emphasised was to avoid upsetting consumer perceptions of New Zealand's product.

Regardless of whether a particular application of genetic modification is shown to have minimal risk, in terms of food safety and environmental harm, Meat NZ promotes the principle that New Zealand is marketing internationally and the majority of consumers must accept any process adopted. This means genetically modified meat products won't be put into the food chain until a through assessment had been undertaken and consumer acceptance had been won.

As in the dairy industry, this principle does not rule out supportive research that eventually might lead to GM product being put into the food chain. When the royal commission report was released, Prime Minister Helen Clark encouragingly said the Labour-Alliance government was committed to a more dynamic economy driven by education, innovation, research and technology. 'But we will not allow the health and safety of New Zealanders to be compromised in pursuit of that,' she said.

So far, so good.

As well as weighing up the economic and social benefits and the risks of genetic modification, however, Clark said her government 'will have regard to the cultural, ethical, environmental and international implications.' The 'cultural' element of this caveat is perturbing. It extends to the 'spiritual issues' mentioned by the royal commission, which recommended they be given a formal place in ministerial decision-making procedures under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.

The commission was particular about these spiritual issues. They are 'mauri,' defined as 'the life energy or soul shared by all living things. Even inanimate objects like cliffs, stones and especially water have their own mauri.' Giving formal recognition to these beliefs in our GM laws can result only in judgments based on science being over-ruled by sentiments rooted in superstition.

It is a chilling prospect, sure to turn the economy around and drive it back into the Dark Ages.

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Fruits of Filipino Biotech

BusinessWorld (Philippines) via NewsEdge Corporation : 09/14/2001 Financial Times Limited September 17, 2001

Believe it or not, local researchers are now involved in DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) cloning - not in humans, though, but in plants and other agricultural products. Very soon, genetically modified (GM) papaya, corn, mango, sugarcane, and even the native hito will grace dinner tables, courtesy of scientists from the University of the Philippines-Los Banos, Laguna, the country's center of biotechnology education and research.

Biotechnology is touted as the ultimate solution to the global problem of food security. With world population expected to reach 8.5 billion in 2025, and agricultural land area - which is only 1% of the earth's land mass - expected to further decrease, the World Bank estimates that the gap between food supply and food demand will reach 228 million tons in 2025 from only 94 million tons in 1993.

This is where biotechnology can be of significant use due to its vast economic potential. Biotechnology is the application of scientific techniques in biology, the science of life. One of the tools of biotechnology is genetic engineering, now widely used in agriculture all over the world.

Through genetic engineering, it is now possible to develop, in a short span of time, hybrid plant species that can grow bigger, better, and faster. Plants can now have built-in resistance against disease and harmful insects, dramatically increasing production and reducing the use of chemicals and pesticides. This is done by inserting a gene known to control a particular trait (such as resistance to a harmful virus) into the cells of a plant. This beneficial trait will now be "expressed" in the regenerated plant.

And how does one insert a gene into each and every plant cell? It's a complicated process, but in simple terms, a genetic engineer has two options. First, he can use a bacterium to introduce the gene into a plant. Or he can use a "gene gun" loaded with micron-sized tungsten or gold particles coated with the DNA.

A total of 44.2 million hectares of land worldwide is now devoted to these genetically modified or "transgenic" crops, according to a report by the New York-based International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA). In fact, over a third of the total land dedicated to soybeans - the number one GM crop - are transgenic areas, which indicates the growing popularity of genetic engineering among farmers.

In the Philippines, the most promising GM crop is papaya. During the Industry-Academe Conference on Biotechnology last Septe. 7 at the APEC Center in UP Los Banos, researchers from the university's Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) discussed the prospects of a newly developed papaya variety that is resistant to the papaya ringspot virus (PRSV), found to be widespread in Luzon, Negros, and Leyte. The virus has resulted in consistently low yields, with the national average at only 17.4 tons per hectare.

Genetic engineering was needed to solve the problem. "In the case of the (PRSV), there is no resistance. Resistance is found in the wild relatives that are not crossable with the cultivated papaya. So, the trait is very difficult to transfer," Dr. Violeta N. Villegas, director of the IPB, said during the conference.

Ms. Villegas said it would take a long time to incorporate the trait in the cultivated papaya using the conventional cross-breeding method. "In the conventional method, we cross two parents and if there are 25,000 genes in one parent, we are actually mixing 50,000 genes together. But our interest is only in one gene. That's why it takes a very long time to develop a variety."

"In rice where you have three generations a year, it will take a minimum of six to eight years to develop a new variety. In papaya, it took us 14 years to develop a hybrid variety. For perennial crops, it will take more than one lifetime," Ms. Villegas added.

The technology is not new, however. Hawaii had commercialized its rainbow papaya, a transgenic papaya, in 1998. But the variety is resistant only to the Hawaiian virus strain, so the UPLB researchers had to develop a local PRSV- resistant variety.

"You know how we treat our farm produce? We harvest them, we throw them in the truck. The ripening is hastened and the fruits rot even before they reach the market. So we want to shorten the ripening process," Ms. Villegas said in the forum.Again, the solution is in genetic engineering. UPLB scientists have already cloned the gene ACC synthase, which is responsible for the ripening process, and regenerated transgenic papaya plants. "They are now in the greenhouse. They look much bigger now, and we shall evaluate and harvest the fruits in the greenhouse this year and early next year," she told the audience.

Critics contend that GM crops may be harmful not only to humans, by causing allergic reactions, but also to the environment. The release of these GM crops to the field, observers say, may destroy the natural ecological balance by wiping out even the beneficial insects. They may even cross-breed with non-GM species and create new and totallly unpredictable properties in plants.

But scientists and GM food manufacturers argue the technology is safe and its impact on the environment insignificant. Still, anti-GM food advocates are not impressed. The Supreme Court last year struck down a petition which sought to stop the field testing of the transgenic Bt corn in Gen. Santos City due to a technicality. Today, Bt corn is being tested in 10 sites nationwide.

Developed abroad, the Bt corn crop has a built-in pesticide against the destructive Asian corn borer. The trait comes from Bt or Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium commonly found in soil. But scientists can use some caution. The Hawaii experiment, in fact, had its own share of technical lapses.

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FASS Facts On Biotech Crops – Impact on Meat, Milk and Eggs

Federation of Animal Science Societies has produced a colorful brochure addressing the safety issue of biotech feeds. You can download this at http://www.fass.org/geneticcrops.pdf or request printed brochures directly from fass@assochq.org. The text appears below.

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Are the meat, milk and eggs from livestock fed with biotech feeds safe to eat? ...Yes!

The term “biotechnology” has sparked controversy in recent years. Much of the controversy is fueled by activist groups who perceive genetic enhancement as somehow “unnatural.” There are also concerns about introduction of genes that may produce allergenic responses or have adverse effects on the environment. However, biotechnology is a remarkable technology that has produced many benefits to consumers. Unfortunately, Americans don’t have the information they need to sort facts from fear about this technology and its benefits. Today’s biotechnology is simply a more precise means of doing what has been done for centuries through conventional breeding – striving to develop crops and foods that have desirable characteristics.

These characteristics might include protection against insect pests, which minimizes the need for pesticides; higher crop yields; or improved nutritional properties. Conventional plant breeding was done through trial and error. Scientists could spend 10 to 15 years crossing plants and growing them to bring out certain characteristics from the tens of thousands of genes that each plant possesses. Oil seed rape (the progenitor of canola) was one of the successes of this type of crossbreeding. In fact, rapeseed oil was an industrial lubricant unfit for human consumption until canola was genetically modified to become low erucic acid rapeseed oil, which eliminated some of its anti-nutritional properties. Today, it is one of the healthiest oils on the market. Most foods consumed today – like corn, wheat and tomatoes – are long-term, conventional breeding success stories. And now, through genetic modification, desirable traits can be selected and more quickly incorporated rather than waiting a decade for results.

Do Livestock Consume Biotech Feeds? Yes, livestock have been fed biotech feeds since biotech crops were first introduced in 1996. Recently, livestock feeds have been improved using modern methods of agricultural biotechnology, such as recombinant DNA technology. The application of recombinant DNA technology frequently has been referred to as genetic modification. Crops developed using modern methods of agricultural biotechnology are referred to as biotech crops as opposed to crops developed using conventional plant breeding. Two important types of commercially available biotech crops include crops tolerant to herbicides and crops protected against insect pests. Both conventional and biotechnology techniques have benefited agriculture immensely because they make feed more plentiful and affordable. When inputs are less costly, so are the outputs purchased by consumers: meat, milk and eggs. In fact, we spend significantly less of our disposable income in the United States on food than any other nation in the w

Why Do Farmers Raise Biotech Crops? Farmers raise biotech crops because they are more reliable and profitable than conventional crops. First, the amount of insecticide applied to insect-protected crops is reduced.Yields of corn, cotton and soybeans are increased in many instances. The majority of these cost savings are enjoyed by the grower. Overall, the cost of producing an acre of the crop is reduced and some of these cost savings ultimately can be passed on to the consumer. Since seeds for biotech corn and soybeans were first sold in the United States in 1996, farmers have continued to plant increasing acreage. More than one-half of the soybeans and more than one-third of the corn planted in 2000 were biotech crops.

Farmers and Consumers Enjoy the Benefits of Biotech Crops Consumers have reaped the benefits of biotech crops in the form of higher quality products. In the future, consumers will see expanding benefits of biotech crops as the use and sophistication of biotechnologies grow. For example, a corn called Bt corn has been bred to be protected against a common pest called the European corn borer. This results in less damage to the corn plant which, in turn, reduces the infection by a fungus that produces a mycotoxin called fumonisin. Bt corn varieties therefore contain less fumonisin. Fumonisin has been shown to be a carcinogen in humans, so risk of human exposure to fumonisin from corn-based products is being reduced thanks to biotechnology.

There will be many biotech crops with enhanced levels of nutrients or other beneficial substances in the plant. For example, “golden rice” is being developed with increased levels of vitamin A and iron. Golden rice could be a significant addition to the diet and health of many persons throughout the world who are currently deficient in vitamin A. Other plants will produce nutritionally enhanced oils, or will improve the shelf life of the food.

Are Nutrients or Anti-Nutrients in Biotech Crops Different? No, both the levels of nutrients and anti-nutrients in the current biotech crops are the same as in conventional crops. As stated above, some crops are being developed which will have increased levels of nutrients, including feeds, like the lysine and methionine content in corn grain. Likewise, anti-nutrients, or undesirable proteins, such as trypsin inhibitor in soybeans or gossypol in cotton, are unchanged in biotech crops compared to conventional crops. Livestock feeds such as corn grain, whole-plant chopped corn, corn stover and soybeans from the current biotech crops have been compared with conventional feeds to measure any changes in feed composition.The research clearly shows that the levels of nutrients – such as protein, carbohydrates, fat, energy, amino acids, fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and other components of biotech and conventional feeds – are substantially equivalent and are well within the normal range of values reported in the

Are Biotech Feeds Safe for Livestock? Yes, biotech feeds are safe for livestock. Livestock digest and absorb nutrients from biotech feeds in the same way they do conventional feeds. The digestive process in all livestock breaks down the nutritional components in feeds and uses these nutrients for the growth and development of the animal. In addition, livestock growth, milk production, milk composition and health are not different, whether fed conventional or biotech feeds. Over 30 different animal feed performance studies have been conducted. All of these studies have shown that corn grain or soybean meal from biotech plants performs similarly to the grain or meal from conventional plant varieties.

Are Nutrients in Meat, Milk and Eggs Different? Nutrients in meat, milk and eggs from livestock fed biotech feeds are the same as those from livestock fed conventional feeds. Because most components of feeds are broken into smaller components during digestion by the animal, plant proteins have not been detected in milk, meat or eggs. The introduced DNA and newly expressed protein(s) from biotech crops have not been found in the meat, milk or eggs from animals fed biotech crops.

Are Meat, Milk and Eggs Safe to Eat? Yes, meat, milk and eggs from livestock and poultry consuming biotech feeds are safe for human consumption. By 2020, global protein consumption from meat, milk and eggs is predicted to increase dramatically, a “Livestock Revolution.” Therefore, with biotech crops and animal food products, we will benefit the nutrition and well-being of the world’s population, especially children in developing countries.

U.S. Government Agencies Heavily Regulate Biotech Crops by Requiring Extensive Field and Safety Tests FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION (FDA) The FDA ensures that any human food or animal feed derived from new plant varieties are safe to eat. After completion of the voluntary FDA consultation process, more than 40 crops have been developed for market. The FDA has recently proposed to change the process from voluntary to mandatory. Foods derived from biotechnology must be labeled only if they differ significantly from their conventional counterparts. For example, if the nutritional value or the potential to cause an allergic reaction is altered.

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA) The USDA is the U.S. government’s lead agency regulating the safe field-testing of new biotech plant varieties. Impact on the environment, on endangered or threatened species and on “non-target” species are all considered.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA) The EPA has authority over all new pesticides, including biotech plants, which produce their own protection against pests. In deciding whether to register a new biotech product, the EPA considers human safety, impact on the environment, effectiveness on the targeted pest and any effects on other endangered and threatened species. Recently StarLink corn, which was approved only for animal consumption, was found in human foods. The EPA now has a policy of not approving biotech crops intended for animal feeding without simultaneously approving the crops for human use. This action is taking precautions against a recurrence of a StarLink situation.

Should We Label the Meat, Milk and Eggs? FASS recognizes the significant logistical problems that labeling incurs for meat, poultry, egg and milk processors. FASS does not support labeling of food derived from animals fed biotech crop materials because the scientific evidence consistently indicates that meat, milk and eggs derived from animals fed biotech feeds are equivalent to products from animals fed conventional feeds. FASS supports food labeling that is meaningful to the consumer and serves a specific purpose. FASS supports food labeling if a food product is substantially changed in nutritional composition or safety.

Conclusions The Federation of Animal Science Societies has reviewed the scientific information concerning the consumption of biotech feeds by livestock.We conclude that: • Acceptance of biotech feeds for livestock must be based on sound science; • The use of biotechnology techniques will be essential to improving agricultural plants and animal products; • Agricultural biotechnology is capable of improving supplies of livestock feeds and healthful animal and plant food products; • The safety of meat, milk and eggs is adequately assured by the science-based risk assessment procedures used by government agencies and developers; • The DNA introduced in biotech plants and the proteins encoded by this DNA have not been detected in the meat, milk or eggs from animals fed these products; and • Meat, milk and eggs from animals fed biotech feeds are safe for human consumption. For more information, contact the Federation of Animal Science Societies. The Federation of Animal Science Societies (FASS) is a professional

- Federation of Animal Science Societies, 1111 North Dunlap Avenue, Savoy, IL 61874
Phone: (217) 356-3182, Fax: (217) 398-4119, fass@assochq.org, http://www.fass.org

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The Biotechnology Online High School Resource On Gene Technology

- From: "Cormick, Craig"

Thanks for the list of educational web sites on genetics, but please
don't forget what exists in Australia at:

http://www.biotechnology.gov.au/biotechnologyonline

Craig Cormick, Manager, Public Awareness, Biotechnology Australia


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From: "craig sams"

While Dennis and Alex Avery have provided a review of the Soil Association's report on Organic Farming, Food Quality and Health, some subscribers might wish to actually review the evidence in the report, which is far more compelling than the narrow and selective insights that the Averys provide. Many of their criticisms are already reflected in the balanced tone of the report (i.e. On 'picture forming methods' for example no claims are made, just that consistent differences exist that merit further research).

Many organic supporters regularly review the AgBioWorld website in order to ensure that they are not ignorant of attitudes and motivations for advancing the cause of those who seek through patents and technology to get a commercial handle on the food supply business. It would make equal sense for AgBioWorld enthusiasts to find out for themselves about organic food and not rely on the Averys, whose unsupportable pronouncements on E.coli, mycotoxins, ploughing up the wilderness and the safety of pesticides have long since weakened their credibility.

For the actual report contact the Soil Association at http://www.soilassociation.org. Mercifully they are not yet on Andrew Apel's list of terror groups who should be relentlessly pursued to their caves in Afghanistan (or Wales). - - Craig Sams