Today's Topics in AgBioView.
* Web Page on Bt Corn Risk to Monarch Butterflies
* U.S. and Europe Heading for a Food Fight Over GM Food?
* The Safety of GM Feeds
* Craig Sams (Yes..he's back..) - Spells Out His Interests and
Conflict of Interest
* Imogen Young: the Garbling Environmentalists?
* Designer Crops Benefit Humans and Environment
* Genetic Enhancement Guards Against Food Allergies
* Plant-based Vaccines Show Promise Against Infectious Diseases
* World Without Hunger May Be Within Reach
* Biotechnology Offers Significant Benefits To Diverse Crops
USDA/ARS Web Page Available on BT Corn Risk to Monarch Butterflies
M2 Communications; Wednesday October 10, 2001
Information about Bt corn's impact on monarch butterflies is now
available on a web page http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/br/btcorn from the
Agricultural Research Service. The core of the web page is research
coordinated by ARS and recently published in the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences.
That Bt corn might present a risk became a matter of scientific and
public concern when a small study in 1999 indicated caterpillars
suffered when given no choice but to feed on milkweed leaves heavily
dusted with Bt corn pollen. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a soil
bacterium used as an effective alternative to chemical insecticides
for controlling moth pests.
Two major questions needed to be scientifically answered to establish
whether Bt corn actually posed a threat to monarch caterpillars--the
direct toxicity of Bt pollen for caterpillars and the likelihood that
caterpillars might be exposed to that much pollen, according to
entomologist Richard L. Hellmich with the ARS Corn Insects and Crops
Genetics Research Unit in Ames, Iowa.
The studies found monarch caterpillars are not very sensitive to
pollen from most types of Bt corn, and that caterpillar exposure to
Bt pollen is low. It took pollen levels greater than 1,000 grains of
pollen per square centimeter (cm2) before there were any toxic
effects in monarch caterpillars, and even greater levels before the
effect was significant. Caterpillars were found on milkweed in
cornfields during the 1-2 weeks pollen is shed by corn, but corn
pollen levels on these plants were found to average only about 170
pollen grains per cm2. Less than 1 percent of the milkweed leaves in
cornfields had pollen levels exceeding 1000 grains per cm2 during
pollen shed. One variety of Bt corn--Bt 176--did have a toxic effect
with pollen doses as small as 10 pollen grains per cm2. Bt 176 is one
of the earliest forms of Bt corn and has never been planted on more
than 2 percent of the corn acres. It will be completely phased out by
Are the U.S. and Europe Heading for a Food Fight Over Genetically
Modified Food? - Policy Dialogue
Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology To Conduct National Policy
Forum Trade, Cultural and Economic Issues Regarding Genetically
Modified Food To Be Discussed Washington, D.C. (October 11, 2001)
-The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology announced today that it
is hosting a policy dialogue, "Are the US and Europe Heading for a
Food Fight Over Genetically Modified Food?" on October 24, 2001 at
9.30 am at the National Press Club. David Gergen, counsel to four
presidents and author, Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership
from Nixon to Clinton will moderate the lively discussion with senior
representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the
"We hope to stimulate a informative discussion about the political,
economic and cultural differences that have led the European Union
and the United States to adopt such divergent approaches to the
regulation of genetically modified crops and food," said Michael
Rodemeyer, executive director of the Initiative. "Recent EU proposals
to require labeling and traceability of genetically modified crops
and food have created uncertainty for the international trading
system and raised concerns in the US business community. The dialogue
will also examine the cultural roots of this food debate, and
additionally ask how American farmers are affected by European
attitudes about genetically modified food. We hope the Initiative's
participation will help frame the international debate and help put
it in a deeper context," Rodemeyer concluded.
- David Hegwood, Trade Advisor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Julia A. Moore, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson
International Center for Scholars, who has written and spoken
extensively about consumer attitudes in the US and in Europe toward
- Tony Van der haegen, Minister/Counselor for Agriculture, Fisheries
and Consumer Affairs, the European Commission Delegation
- Fred Yoder, president-elect of the National Corn Growers
Association, who will discuss how the EU proposal would affect
The Policy Forum will take place in the Murrow Room of the National
Press Club. Note: The dialogue will be presented via a live Internet
webcast. Members of the media can submit questions just prior to and
during the event. To watch or submit questions go to
http://www.ConnectLive.com/PewAgBiotech. To register, please contact
DJ Nordquist at (202) 347-9132 or via email at
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology is a nonprofit,
nonpartisan research project whose goal is to inform the public and
policymakers on issues about genetically modified food and
agricultural biotechnology, including its importance, as well as
concerns about it and its regulation. It is funded by a grant from
The Pew Charitable Trusts to the University of Richmond.
The Safety of GM Feeds (AGBIOS Briefing Note):
(Forwarded by: Javier Verastegui )
This module is intended to provide information on the regulation of
livestock feeds containing products derived from genetically modified
(GM) crops in Canada and the United States, and on the studies that
have been carried out to assess the safety of these novel feeds. The
in this module include:
1 - the regulatory and safety assessment process;
2 - the nature of GM crops currently used as livestock feed components;
3 - the safety of new protein introduced into GM crops;
4 - comparing the nutritional composition and efficacy of novel and
conventional livestock feeds;
5 - the metabolic fate of ingested protein and DNA, including the
fate of novel proteins and DNA introduced through genetic engineering
From: "Craig Sams"
Thanks for the biography. Andura Smetacek knows more about me than I
do. There is a little factual inaccuracy. I don't 'jet around the
world campaigning against agricultural biotechnology' in fact I don't
jet around anywhere, preferring train travel. The trip to Seattle was
my only air travel in the past two years and the visit to Craig
Winters was fortuitous, as he happened to be based in Seattle and we
had a good visit while I was between meetings on a business trip. I
do have a vested interest in organic food, and regard it and the
macrobiotic diet as two key factors in the lucky fact that I have not
had to resort to medical advice or prescription or over the counter
drugs (apart from a maybe a dozen aspirin) in the past 35 years. The
stringent ethical standards of the AgBioView website are, as far as I
can tell, bent from time to time to allow people with a vested
interest in a subject to participate in the discussion without losing
credibility and I have never made a secret of my commercial or
charitable activities. Sometimes helps to have a molecular biologist
to make a point about genetic engineering or an organic foods
processor to make a point about organic food. Although I am not a
party member, I was invited to speak at the Natural Law Party
conference and did so, along with Patrick Holden, Director of the
Soil Association. We do use the Genetic ID test - it was the first
and best test available at a time when everyone else said there was
no way to test at all as there was no difference.
As you kindly published my swansong last week I feel I shouldn't
really be here, but I cannot leave the copper sulphate questions
The discussions regarding copper sulphate take place within the EU,
where the organic regulations are amended and modified under what is
called Article 14. The current situation is that no organic producer
may apply more than 8 Kg per hectare per annum (7 lbs per acre). Not
all EU member states allow it and it is permitted under the EU
regulation to apply higher standards if a member state or certifying
body so wishes. Hence in Denmark its use is totally prohibited. I
think that other Scandinavian countries also ban its use. Any country
that does permit its use must have an active research programme into
alternatives. There are also maximum soil residue limits and any
organic farm that reaches such limits is prohibited from further use.
In conventional agriculture (in Europe) there are no similar
restrictions on copper sulphate use and it is also widely used in
tropical agriculture, particularly cacao production.
As far as sulphur dioxide in organic food. It is only permitted in
wine and only at a maximum residue level that is one third of the
level permitted in conventional wine. It is not permitted in dried
fruit such as apricots and raisins or in fruit juices or beer,
sausages or pickles, where it is commonly found in conventional foods.
I hope that the above will appeal to those who seek rationality
rather than fanaticism in the organics vs GM debate that has emerged.
It surely shows that, while organic supporters are cautious and apply
more rigorous standards that apply in conventional agriculture and
food processing, they are not rigid fanatics who are totally paranoid
about moderate use of an extremely limited selection of chemicals.
When you consider that sulphur has been used since Roman times in
wine production it is impressive (is it not?) that an increasing
number of organic wine producers are now producing wines, in response
to customer demand, that are 100% sulphur free, thanks to modern
winemaking technology and high standards of process control and
Organic farmers respect and support organisations like LEAF (Linking
Environment and Farming) who develop integrated management approaches
that reduce pesticide use and support biodiversity. There is a middle
ground out there, it may not include GM crops but things are not
quite as black and white as some of AgBioView subscribers might like
it to be.
President Whole Earth Foods Ltd
President Green & Black's Organic Chocolate (available at a natural
store near you)
Hon. Treasurer Soil Association
Chairman Ceres Bakery Ltd
Member, Lower Torfield Allotments Association
Member Royal Society For the Protection of Birds
Fellow Royal Geographical Society
Friend Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Friend Chelsea Physic Garden
Member, Groucho Club
Member Wagner Society
Parishioner, All Saints Church, Hastings
(That should be enough to provide a conflict of interest about just
But I am not anything to do with Whole Foods Markets,as suggested in
Andura's biography, a common error. Or Al Qaeda, for that matter, as
suggested by Andrew Apel.
From: "Imogen Young"
Subject: Let's All Be Anti-GE: Let's Ban All 'Garbling Environmentalists'
I'm sorry I can't let such ramblings go unchallenged. I am a near
neighbour of a GM Trial farm scale trial site of Oilseed rape
(canola) and I can tell you that they (so called professional
scientists) are not monitoring the extent of the pollen rain out
with the field amongst other key variables. This trial by design is
flawed and set up to avoid 'discovering' contentious issues. If there
was not the stench of big business and vested interest behind the
methodology, design, monitoring and implementation of these trials
then perhaps the quality of the science would be improved and we
would all be the wiser.
Reassured by good science we ( the Garbling Environmentalists) would
not need to take to the streets or lobby to counter the false claims
being made in the interest of progressing science and feeding the
many. This is pseudo science and experimentation on a massive scale.
On a recent door to door poll in the nearby village (400 M away) 95%
of people where against the trial. That's in a dominantly
agricultural community in the Scottish Highlands. Have they been
consulted in this experiment. Nearby organic farmers may lose their
livelihood when volunteer GM crops appear in their fields - they were
One final point on the recent marches I've attended the vast
majority of protesters were ordinary people who were genuinely
concerned that, as with the many so called benign technologies
foisted on us over many years (agro chemicals, nuclear energy,
etc..), this is yet another one from Pandoras box with a low risk
attached to it by so called scientists!
Rock on in New Zealand!!!, - Paul Young, Black Isle, Scotland, UK
Designer Crops Benefit Humans and Environment
Food may one day be customized for an individual's genetic makeup
NEW YORK (Oct 4)-The same tools that were used to analyze the human
genome can now be used to evaluate crops and to improve their
nutritional benefit, according to Prof. Martina McGloughlin, a
leading expert in agricultural biotechnology.
"Biotechnology provides an incredibly diverse set of tools to improve
the quality of our crops while minimizing the impact on our
environment. It also offers an extraordinary opportunity for
increased healthfulness among the public and among our animals," says
Prof. McGloughlin, director of the Biotechnology Program at
University of California Davis and the University of California
Systemwide Life Sciences Informatics Program, which covers all nine
campuses and the three national Laboratories. "These crop enhancing
tools are very powerful and they are allowing us to do things that
mean we are no longer dependent on some pretty nasty chemicals we've
relied on in the past to help grow our crops."
Prof. McGloughlin spoke today at an American Medical Association
media briefing on food biotechnology.
"In the future, we will focus more and more on individual diets to
maintain health. Genomic progress, agriculture and food biotechnology
will allow us to use our diets to address specific individual
problems that personalized diet modifications can address. I think
the day will be coming when we can actually customize our food to
suit our genetics and optimize the quality of our lives," Prof.
McGloughlin predicts. "At a base level, all foods will contain genes
to protect them against disease. Additionally, there will be
value-added components, such as increased levels of micro- and
macro-nutrients that will improve the quality of our lives by
modifying our diets to keep us more healthy."
"People have adopted food biotechnology to grow stronger, healthier
crops. It has lead to an enormous reduction in chemical use because
these crops are using a DNA approach as opposed to one based on the
use of chemicals,"Prof. McGloughlin explains."Despite the clear
environmental advantages, I think that consumers are going to want to
see better quality foods, whether it be extended shelf-life or more
nutritional value packed into foods. Biotechnology has several
applications in the nutritional arena, not only improving the
nutrient content of foods, but also removing potentially damaging or
toxic substances from food."
"Scientists are developing crop plants that have complete proteins
instead of partial ratios of essential amino acids, the building
blocks for basic proteins. These new foods will be especially
beneficial for vegetarians and people who do not have regular access
to animal protein, who, instead, rely on plants for their protein
source," explains Prof. McGloughlin. " For example, scientists are
also looking at increasing lysine in corn for a better ratio of
essential amino acids. Studies are being done to increase sulfur-rich
amino acids in soybeans."
"Safety is a major concern in the development of these new crops.
Originally Brazil nuts were being considered as the source of
protein, but the protein that would have been transferred was the
exact one that causes people to be allergic to the nut, so that
project was immediately abandoned. I believe the checks and balances
are securely in place to address this type of problem," Prof.
Now that infectious diseases are under control, inherent diseases of
a metabolic nature are a primary threat. Vitamins, minerals and
antioxidants are gaining increasing recognition for their protection
against these late-onset diseases. Several scientists are using the
tools of genomics to look for ways to increase plant creation of
certain types of phytochemicals-primarily the carotinoids, flavinoids
and phytoestrogens, which have all been identified as powerful
"The other side of this issue is that plants produce a lot of
antinutrients [agents that interfere with the availability and/or
absorption of a nutrient] and potential toxins and allergens.
Biotechnology can be used to eliminate those," explains Prof.
McGloughlin. One example is phytate, which is found in animal feed.
Because phytate is an antinutrient that has phosphorous in a bound-up
form and furthermore chelates zinc and iron, making them
non-bioavailable, the feed needs to be supplemented. The
supplementation leads to additional phosphorous in animal feces,
which leads to pollution of the environment. Prof. McGloughlin says a
gene is being introduced into corn that breaks down the phytate so
that the animal feed does not have to be supplemented. In addition,
pigs have now been engineered that express the phytase gene
themselves, making them capable of using phosphorous from many
sources which were previously non-bioavailable.
Genetic Enhancement Guards Against Food Allergies
Rigorous testing provides necessary safeguards
NEW YORK (Oct 4) -Biotechnology holds promise for producing
allergen-free foods, but before these genetically enhanced foods are
introduced, they must undergo strict scientific safety assessments
and regulatory approvals from around the world, according to Steve L.
Taylor, Ph.D., a leading expert in agricultural biotechnology.
"I think in the long term, we will have foods that are less hazardous
because biotechnology will have eliminated or diminished their
allergenicity," says Dr. Taylor, head of the department of food
science and technology and director of the food processing center at
the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
Dr. Taylor spoke today at an American Medical Association media
briefing on food biotechnology.
In addition, Dr. Taylor says biotechnology is the only new technology
that holds any promise of being able to fulfill global nutritional
needs in the face of decreasing agricultural land and growing
population."I think we are going to increasingly need this technology
and I believe it will become the standard in the long term."
Virtually all allergens are proteins. When a food is genetically
modified, a new, novel protein can be introduced into the resultant
food."Fortunately, very few proteins in nature are allergens. There
are perhaps 50 to 100 known allergenic proteins in foods. Most
commonly allergenic foods contain more than one allergenic protein.
We have perhaps identified half of the major allergens that exist in
allergenic foods but many of the unidentified food allergens are
likely, in my opinion, to be very similar to already identified
allergens from other related foods. For example, the trout allergen
is unlikely to be very different from the salmon allergen because
these two species are cousins. Consequently, the chances of creating
an allergen are quite small," according to Dr. Taylor.
"Therefore, the allergenic risk of genetically modified foods is
quite low," states Dr. Taylor."There are good ways of predicting the
potential allergenicity of a genetically modified food, and these
methods have been subject to considerable discussion around the
world. Some agreement is being reached on approaches that can and
should be taken. As a participant in those discussions, I am an
advocate for commercial enterprise undertaking appropriate
allergenicity assessments using approaches that have been discussed
internationally and agreed upon."
The greatest risk for creating an allergen occurs when a gene is
taken from a source that is known to be allergenic. The gene from the
allergenic source could produce a novel protein in the new food that
contains the allergen from the original source."However, it is quite
easy to determine if a known allergen has been introduced. The blood
serum of subjects who are allergic to the source material can be
tested to see if the allergen has been transferred. I find it
difficult to believe that we are going to introduce known allergens
through biotechnology," Dr. Taylor asserts.
"Modifying foods with genes derived from nonallergenic sources is the
common circumstance in commercial biotechnology. Scientists compare
the structure of the novel protein to the structure of known
allergens. If similarities are found, they should discard it because
it is going to be costly to develop," comments Dr. Taylor."If the
novel protein passes these rigorous tests, I believe it is safe to
add them to the food chain, from an allergenicity point of view. If
it fails any one of these tests, then I would vote against including
it in the food supply for human or animal consumption."
"There is active research underway at Alabama A&M University to
decrease the allergenicty of peanuts by removing one of the three
major peanut allergens. This would not make peanuts hypo-allergenic,
but it would decrease the likelihood of infants becoming sensitized
to peanuts. Biotechnology may also be used to alter food allergens in
a way that they can be used to make vaccines that promise to perhaps
lead to cures for food allergies. However, much research remains to
be done in this area," Dr. Taylor cautions.
"Scientists are also trying to completely remove food allergens
through biotechnology. Unfortunately, we have no current examples
because this is a rather difficult thing to do," explains Dr.
Taylor."Progress is being made with the peanut. It will likely take
some years before there any real results to report. More research
funding and emphasis on this area would be helpful to speed progress."
Plant-based Vaccines Show Promise Against Infectious Diseases
Benefits include heightened vaccine safety and lower cost
NEW YORK (oct 4)-Scientists are developing safe, inexpensive,
plant-based vaccines to protect against diseases such as human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B and rabies, according to
Alexander V. Karasev, Ph.D., a leading expert in biotechnology
"Plant-based vaccines represent the way of the future primarily
because of two considerations - cost and safety," says Dr. Karasev,
an assistant professor in the department of Microbiology and
Immunology Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University
in Philadelphia and part of the Biotechnology Foundation Laboratories
at Thomas Jefferson University.
Dr. Karasev spoke today at an American Medical Association media
briefing on food biotechnology.
"When fully developed, plant-based vaccines will be much less
expensive than current vaccines. Today, fully immunizing one person
against hepatitis B can cost as much as $450. In the future, thanks
to plant-based vaccines, the same immunization will cost a fraction
of that and, therefore, be available to more people."
"Plants are also the safest vaccine delivery vehicle imaginable. When
produced in animal tissue culture and in human cells, each vaccine
lot requires extensive testing for safety reasons. One concern is
contamination by unknown pathogens," Dr. Karasev explains."These
necessary safety measures add to the cost of our current vaccines."
"Plant-based vaccines are more like a prescription drug than a food.
When people think about drugs, they are less concerned about genetic
manipulation, and their main concern is whether it works or not," Dr.
Dr. Karasev is a member of a scientific team working under the
direction of Hillary Koprowski, M.D. Their laboratory is focused on
developing vaccine components in edible plants - primarily spinach,
lettuce and soybeans - that can be grown in developing countries
fighting infectious diseases, according to Dr. Karasev.
The laboratory is readying spinach to administer a HIV vaccine."If
the magic bullet for HIV is found, we can quickly incorporate it into
our production system. So far the two best targets for HIV-1 are the
envelope protein and the HIV-1 transcriptional trans-activator
protein (tat), which is a small regulatory protein that is a key
component to the replicative machinery of the virus. We expressed the
small tat protein in the virus vector, and we can produce it in a
very high yield in plants. At this particular point we are testing
these plants as antigens," Dr. Karasev reports.
The researchers have successfully cloned the standard gene currently
used in the recombinant hepatitis B vaccine into the lettuce genome
using traditional methods of transgenic plant generation. The
transgenic lettuce was fed to a group of volunteers in Poland who
demonstrated a good immunization boost response after the initial
application of the lettuce. The vaccine is about two to three years
away from being fully developed.
"The current hepatitis-B vaccine is expensive and requires three
different injections at $150 each. Eliminating even one injection
decreases the cost of delivering the vaccine by 30 percent," Dr.
The laboratory has created a rabies vaccination using spinach. Dr.
Karasev says study subjects have demonstrated a good response to
three doses of the spinach-delivered rabies vaccine. The first human
trial involved eight people and the second trial involved 16 subjects
divided into a control group and an experimental group that ate about
150 grams of spinach leaves. When tested, their antibodies were
boosted. The rabies vaccine will be fully developed in the next two
to four years.
"There is a great need to develop a relatively simple vaccine for
rabies, especially in India. The current vaccine is an old Pasteur
vaccine that is used for post-exposure treatment only after someone
has already been bitten by a rabid animal," states Dr. Karasev.
Agribusiness and agriculture can produce a large volume of
inexpensive vaccines in edible plants. Dr. Karasev says pills will be
made from dehydrated vaccine plants to assure delivery of constant
amounts of the vaccine."Eliminating infectious diseases through
plant-based vaccines will tremendously help people in developing
countries," notes Dr. Karasev. "We have to support it as a government
and as a people in order to help developing countries plagued with
these pestilence and their dramatic sicknesses and emotional
World Without Hunger May Be Within Reach
Food biotechnology may provide an answer to overcoming forces of
malnutrition and starvation
NEW YORK (Oct 4) -Development of food biotechnology, if strategically
targeted, can help nourish the poor in developing nations, according
to Channapatna S. Prakash, Ph.D., a leading expert in agricultural
"Agricultural development will be critical in meeting future world
food needs, reducing poverty and protecting the environment," says
Dr. Prakash, professor of Plant Molecular Genetics and the director
of the Center for Plant Biotechnology Research at Tuskegee University
in Alabama."To further increase agricultural productivity equitably
in an environmentally sustainable manner in the face of diminishing
land and water resources is a highly challenging task."
Dr. Prakash spoke today at an American Medical Association media
briefing on food biotechnology.
"Science has brought profound benefits to humanity, especially in the
past century and has doubled the lifespan of people even in the
poorest countries. Continued applications from science, especially
those that target poor countries in their ability to produce more
food in an environmentally sustainable manner, is going to be
critical in the future," Dr. Prakash asserts.
Developing countries can produce more food from crops enhanced
through biotechnology and achieve the following:
* Diminish crop loss from pests and diseases
* Decrease amounts of fertilizer and pesticides used
* Stem destruction of tropical rainforests and enhance biodiversity
* Increase shelf-life of food by curtailing spoilage
* Improve food quality and nutrition
* Strengthen crops to better tolerate adverse conditions such as
drought and poor soil
* Boost local food production
* Bring profitability to farming through novel products; including
industrial and pharmaceutical products
Approximately 774 million people go to bed hungry nightly, and nearly
30,000 people-half of them children-die every day due to
hunger-related causes. By 2020, the number of undernourished people
in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to increase dramatically, according
to Dr. Prakash.
Development of high-yielding grain varieties has improved conditions
in parts of the developing world by creating an enhanced, affordable
food supply and boosting incomes for millions of farmers. It has also
reduced the incidence of famine and starvation despite the population
growth in the past few decades. Nevertheless, insecurity regarding
food supplies and malnutrition persists in much of the developing
world, according to Dr. Prakash.
Biotech corn, already widely used in the United States, produces its
own protection against the corn borer. Research is under way on sweet
potatoes that protect themselves against viruses, and on rice, beans,
cassava and other staple foods with enhanced natural tolerance to
diseases, pests and physical stresses, says Dr. Prakash.
"We are also helping to eliminate nutritional deficiencies through
biotechnology. Biotechnology can expedite the development of new
varieties and enhance marginal crops like millet, plantain, grains,
legumes, cassava and sweet potatoes that are important staples in the
developing world," comments Dr. Prakash." In 1997, the World Bank
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research estimated
that biotechnology could help improve world food production by up to
Golden Rice, which is genetically fortified with vitamin A, may soon
address vitamin A deficiency, a condition for which 200 to 400
million children are at risk. About a half-million children lose
their vision yearly as a result of vitamin A deficiency, according to
Dr. Prakash. People living in poverty are especially at risk for
vitamin A deficiency because they have access to very few fruits and
vegetables and consume mostly rice. Golden Rice will eliminate at
least a part of this problem without changing crop patterns, eating
habits or implementing expensive logistical interventions.
Biotechnology can partially help eliminate hunger by simply
increasing the availability of locally grown, affordable food.
Technology can help reduce hunger, poverty, malnourishment and
micronutrient deficiencies, while potentially empowering
people."Biotechnology by itself will not eliminate hunger or
poverty," Dr. Prakash cautions."It is only a tool that, along with
other options, can be a powerful element of change and can help
catalyze developing nations to advance."
"The challenge of the future is helping policymakers move forward.
Information, hope and optimism will provide a base for responsible
change. The first step will be the biggest challenge. The elements
that are needed to put policies in place in food biotechnology are
money, technical expertise, biosafety and intellectual property laws,
and mechanisms to facilitate technology transfer and generation,"
concludes Dr. Prakash.
New Study Shows That Biotechnology Offers Significant Benefits To Diverse Crops
Preliminary findings of 30-crop study, shows significant savings in
NEW YORK (Oct 4) -Preliminary research results confirm the major
benefits biotechnology has already brought to growers of crops such
as soybeans, corn and cotton, reducing pesticide use and lowering
grower production costs, according to Leonard Gianessi, a leading
expert in pest management.
"For the first time, the study ['The Potential for Biotechnology to
Improve Crop Pest Management in the United States'] begins to
quantify the potential value and benefits of biotechnology for
growers of a wide range of other important U.S. crops, including
papaya, citrus and raspberries among others," says Gianessi, Senior
Research Associate at the National Center on Food and Agricultural
Gianessi spoke today at an American Medical Association media
briefing on food biotechnology. Gianessi says that the economic and
environmental benefits of agricultural biotechnology have been widely
publicized for several years, focusing on commodity crops such as
soybeans, cotton and field corn. Gianessi's study, co-authored by
Cressida S. Silvers, leads this conversation in a new direction -
with an analysis of many novel crops, regions and applications.
Overall, the study encompasses 30 different crops and 44 separate
case studies. The final report will be released in December; Gianessi
showcases eight of the case studies at the AMA media briefing.
"We've established that biotechnology can deliver substantial
benefits to growers of corn, soybeans and cotton," Gianessi
explains."This new study confirms that these benefits can also be
realized by growers for a wide range of crops across diverse growing
regions. In many cases, biotechnology may even save an entire
industry in a state or region, such as the papaya industry in Hawaii
or the citrus industry in Texas."
Case histories illustrate variety of crop benefits
Gianessi's preliminary findings indicate a wide array of current and
* Herbicide tolerant soybeans: 30 States
Genetically engineered herbicide tolerant soybeans have decreased
growers' annual costs by $15 per acre, which represents $735 million
across 49 million acres.
* Herbicide tolerant tomatoes: California
Growers could realize savings of $30 million per year in handweeding,
cultivation and pesticide costs and a 4.3 million pound per year
reduction in pesticide use.
* Insect resistant cotton: United States
U.S. growers have earned an additional $99 million in annual net
revenue by producing an incremental 260 million pounds per year of
insect-resistant cotton, eliminating 2.7 million pounds of pesticide
* Insect resistant sweet corn: Florida
Florida growers could see increased production of 22 million pounds
per year, with an increased value to growers of $3.9 million per
year. This would result in a 79% percent reduction in insecticide use.
* Virus resistant papaya: Hawaii
Biotechnology is credited with saving the Hawaiian papaya industry,
which produces 53 million pounds with a value of $17 million annually.
* Virus resistant citrus: Texas
This technology is likely to help prevent the loss of the Texas
citrus industry, which annually produces a total of 622 million
pounds with a value of $48 million.
* Virus resistant raspberry: Oregon/ Washington
Using biotechnology, growers could save 10 million pounds of
raspberries per year from viral damage, add $11 million of production
value, and reduce fumigant use by 50 percent (371,000 pounds per
* Virus resistant tomatoes: Florida
Biotechnology could reduce insecticide use by 88,000 pounds per year,
with a savings to growers of $10.7 million/year.
"This study confirms biotechnology's important role in food
production. It can contribute to growing high quality food in ways
that are environmentally attractive to growers and consumers alike.
It also can help enhance the sustainability of farmers in many
regions who are threatened with difficult economic and environmental
pressures," Gianessi concludes.