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October 22, 2001


Consumer Group Approves Agbiotech; New RAFI; Indian Cotton


Today's Topics in AgBioView.

* Genetically Engineered Foods on The Market Appear to be Safe
* Graduate Student Interested in AgBio Public Policy Issues
* Dave Wood on 'Rebadging RAFI'
* Illegal Bt Cotton in India - Comments from Dr. Rao
* Protocols with NGOs: The Need to Know
* Consumers Unaware of Emerging Technologies
* Good Science, Not Emotion
* Raleigh OECD Meet on LMOs and The Environment:
* GMFs and the Ban Issue in Sri Lanka
* Monsanto Works In Developing World To Expand Biotech's Reach
* Free copies of "Foods from Genetically Improved Crops in Africa"
* Abstracts from Italian "Economics of Ag Biotechnology" Conference
* Wan to Work for Mae-Wan Ho?

Genetically Engineered Foods on The Market Appear to be Safe
Stricter Government Oversight Recommended

- CSPI Press Release, October 22, 2001

WASHINGTON - Foods currently on the market, such as corn flakes and salad dressings, that are made from genetically engineered (GE) crops, are safe to eat, according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). However, that group recommends stricter government oversight to ensure that future crops and foods will be safe for consumers and the environment.

The cover story in the November issue of CSPI's Nutrition Action Healthletter advises that people should not be nervous about eating food that contains genes from another plant or bacterium. "We eat foods with new genes and proteins all the time," said Gregory Jaffe, co-director of CSPI's Biotechnology Project. "The tomatoes, potatoes, and wheat we buy in the supermarket have been drastically altered by breeding them with wild relatives, and those products are considered safe."

Current genetically engineered crops, which include soybeans engineered to resist herbicides and corn and cotton engineered to kill insect pests, benefit farmers and the environment by increasing yields, reducing the use of pesticides, and lowering costs.

"Genetically engineered crops could be a boon to farmers and consumers, especially in developing countries," said CSPI Biotechnology Project co-director Doug Gurian-Sherman. "For example, scientists are working on crops that resist pests and droughts and contain more nutrients. The U.S. Government needs to support that research because if left primarily in the hands of large corporations, such products will not be developed for the impoverished countries that need them."

Engineered crops, along with genetically engineered animals, could possibly contain unwanted new allergens or toxins. "That's why biotech companies must demonstrate that engineered foods are safe before they reach the market," said Jaffe. "Current GE crops have been tested voluntarily, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should require safety testing and formally approve fuure crops before they are used in food for humans or animal feed. Any crop that contains a new allergen should not be approved."

"Biotech crops potentially could harm the environment," said Gurian-Sherman. "The new genes could spread to other plants to create 'superweeds.' Plants with built-in pesticides might harm beneficial insects like ladybugs or lead to insects resistant to the pesticidal protein. In many cases, the solution is not banning those crops, but minimizing and eliminating these risks."

"All engineered crops should be subject to a thorough environmental review before approval, and EPA should require more field testing of those crops both before and after approval," said Jaffe. "EPA should also ensure that the measures it requires to prevent insects from becoming resistant to Bt crops are enforced."

Nutrition Action Healthletter's cover story also advocates that the U.S. government fund more research on genetic engineering and help developing nations benefit from that technology.''


From: "Andrew Miller"
Subject: Interested Graduate Student

To whom it may concern at Agbioworld,

I am a graduate student at the Monterey Institute of International Studies pursuing a Master's degree in International Environmental Policy. I have lived and worked in developing countries, all of which have food security issues as well as problems with basic agricultural production. I have developed a deep interest in the appropriate use of agricultural biotechnology as a possible solution to a plethora of environmental issues.

However, I have also come across a large number of opponents who have recycled old observations and criticisms pertaining to potential problems with its development and use. I am beginning a project for an environmental policy course where we as students are required to write a research design. I would like to design an agricultural biotechnology project that is realistic and that could have the potential to be researched in the next 12 months (hypothetically). Are there particular areas or knowledge gaps in the field that could be adequately addressed by developing a research design in the realm of public policy?


Andrew Miller, MAIEP Candidate '03
Monterey Institute of International Studies


From: Dave Wood <113077.3244@compuserve.com
Subject: Rebadging RAFI

The recent search for a new name for RAFI was another gimmicky diversion: Mooney's 1999 essay in Development Dialogue had already come up with ETC and a new Mooney 'law of technology introduction': "Erosion is created by Technology introduced in the context of corporate/class power Concentration. For every 'Luddite' trying to establish social controls over the introduction of untested technologies, there is a more powerful 'Elite' using social controls to impose new technologies. Any major new technology introduced into a society which is not, by its nature, a "just' society will exacerbate the gap between rich and poor."

I like the last cadence - but who decides which society is naturally just? I worked in agricultural development in Ethiopia in the 70's - the very unjust Mengistu regime - but we had to stop people starving. Why should anyone subscribe to this paternalistic rubbish specifically designed to deny farmers any choice?

And the generalization in Mooney's first sentence is demonstrable rubbish. The language we are all communicating in was not Eroded by the introduction of superior military Technology by the Norman class/power Concentration of William the Conqueror in 1066. Just the opposite: it was enriched in a blend of Saxon and French and all the rest into a superb instrument of communication (despite Mooney always butchering it by horrible punning). The same happens to agricultural technology: the hard graft and old traditions and varieties move into gardens and the whole food production system is richer and more diverse for it.

It seems that I was right about RAFI policy years ago: Canadian promotion of its wheat exports through preventing technology transfer and also maintaining free access to genetic resources.

This pretentious new creed is designed to cloak the fact that RAFI is determined to prevent the spread of seed-based ag. technology that can help countries feed themselves rather than import surplus and subsidized grain from Canada. In a recent interview Mooney asserts that USDA and Monsanto 'have argued that the Terminator was designed with Third World farmers in mind. They have also specifically identified crops like wheat and rice in countries such as India, China and Pakistan. The inventors claim that Terminator will give companies with proprietary genetic traits confidence to risk selling their seeds abroad.' Exactly so: a threat to Canadian grain exports, rapidly and correctly identified as such by RAFI, and subject to a ferocious blitzkrieg, apparently funded by Canadian foundations, to stop the export of technology to help others feed themselves.

And I think he is smarting a bit about me making fun of RAFI with the 'trans-national Luddite' label. He is now putting a gloss on Luddism, but getting it wrong. The Luddites in England (protecting the stocking knitters) failed not because of 'elites' but because clever inventors - often working class - made production vastly more efficient. And if the Luddites had delayed the introduction of new technology in England, the growing German industry would have taken over; England would have imported stockings; and both the knitters and the national interest in trade would have been lost. It was the probability of international hi-tech competition that doomed English Luddism and cottage industry, not national elites.

Having got that all wrong will not stop Mooney urgently trying to prevent the 'black beasts' of multinationals such as Monsanto exporting 'his' technology. But technology will move anyway, despite trans-national Luddites. The Lancashire cotton industry was finished from the day in 1887 when the "Empress" cotton mill (ironic name) was established in Nagpur by J.N. Tata - a combination of technology transfer and good cheap labour. Nothing in the great Raj could stop it.

Mooney also got badly wrong the second plank of the RAFI agenda: 'free access to genetic resources'. Thanks to his 'biopiracy' campaign the movement of genetic resources is now stalled with the stand-off in the revision on the FAO International Undertaking. Now the IU is a lose-lose situation for everyone: no soybean samples for the US breeders from China; no groundnut germplasm from Brazil; and even Canada can get no more wild wheats for extracting stem and leaf-rust resistances - a real Mooney-mess with (and I still find this difficult to believe) a former RAFI Director representing the CGIAR in negotiations. In the IU Mooney first pushed, then dropped (by redefining) the concept of 'Farmers Rights', thereby undermining the IU. But RAFI and the RAFI clones are still trying to manipulate the IU debate to prevent IPP on all genetic resources in the Third World (but not, of course, in Canada).

Mooney will characteristically sweep these failures under the carpet and move on (RAFI becomes ETC etc). His sponsors must have rocks in their heads to continue paying for all this theatricality and incompetence and policy jumps. But who pays? Andrew has already identified the McConnell Foundation influence: the fortune of Canadian farm-boy turned capitalist and media baron. Rockefeller - another capitalist fortune - gave RAFI $364,000 last year for enhancing 'participation' of the South in the biotech/ag. research debate (i.e. sponsoring RAFI-clones and sidelining the real NGOs).

If Mooney wants to promote Canadian exports, at least let him be honest about it, rather than all this cant and pretension that he is acting in the interests of the Third World. And Andrew's point about what RAFI will get up to in the US is interesting: RAFI had a strong go at Australia (the chickpea fuss) and Australia has the least subsidized and most efficient agriculture in the world, but of course competes with 'Mother Canada' - as too does the US. And the 'Frankenfood' hysteria of over-sensitive Europeans damages US exports of feedstuff (corn and soya) rather than Canadian grain exports. The US-based multinationals - exporting 'our' technology to the third world masses - may have a rough ride, but the Canadian wheat exporters should be safe. Why should anyone in the US want fund this loose Canadian cannon?

Mooney is an intelligent and at times eloquent man: more the pity that he treats much of the rest of the world as idiots unable to match the cleverness of his thoughts; plays down through his circus to what he thinks is the low level of intelligence around him; and patronizes Third World farmers and politicians as needing him to think things through for them. He is now the worst kind of agro-nationalist, taking big chances with human lives. Rather than Juvenal's 'Bread and Circuses' we will now have the ETC 'Circuses and No-Bread'.

How about ETC standing for Exports, Triage and Cant (the triage when all those people starve to death waiting for international food hand-outs with political strings attached - what is it now, 24,000 dead a day?).

- Dave Wood


Illegal Bt Cotton in India

- C. Kameswara Rao,
Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education, Bangalore , India

1. The unauthorised cultivation of Bt cotton in Gujarat is bad for the future of GM crops in the country on at least three counts:
a) it will encourage similar misadventure in other parts of the country;
b) it gives a new whip for the NGOs to ridicule the regulatory measures and GM crops; and
c) it will further delay the introduction of GM crops into India by generating fresh controversies.

2. Mahyco has spent a lot of time and money fulfilling the governmental regulations and has been patiently waiting for permission for the release of Bt cotton for growing in the country. The Bt patent holder Monsanto and the licensee Mahyco have an immense lot to lose if they get involved in illegal trade of the yet unauthorised seed. Monsanto and Mahyco should follow the Canadian example and start punitive legal proceedings to sue Navabharat Seeds Ltd., and the farmers involved, in order to discourage repeats of such unauthorised sale of GM crop seed and also to clear their own name. The Government of India and the Government of the State of Gujarat (of other States, if victims of similar mischief), should join in taking such legal measures as necessary, to prevent repetition of similar incidents, which are a clear violation of the environmental protection laws of the country.

3. An enquiry should be instituted to find answers to the following questions: a) How did the unauthorised reach Gujarat? b) How many farmers and in how many other states (for example, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra) are involved in similar Bt seed transactions? c) How did Navabharat Seeds Ltd., procure the seed of Bt cotton and multiply it to be able to supply such a huge quantity of nearly 6,000 kg of seed? d) What is the role of Dr D B Desai, supposedly a former employee of Mahyco?

4. Suitable action should be taken against the farmers too, since they cannot wriggle out on grounds of ignorance of the illegality of the seed transaction. Certainly many farmers are ignorant of legal provisions in these matters but possibly not those who know of Bt cotton and those who can pay for the expensive Bt seed.

5. The mischievous talk that this unauthorised Bt crop contains the terminator gene should immediately be dispelled.

6. It does not sound right if two departments of the Government of India speak differently and it is certainly not nice to find the Department of Biotechnology trying to wash off their hands by saying that there is absolutely no problem from their side, meaning that the villain of the piece is the Ministry of Forests and Environment.

7. In the final analysis, the Government of India have dragged the issue far too long and should in future decide these issues with far greater alacrity than in the past, so that no one claims desperateness as the cause for adventurism.

8. If the farmers have to be paid compensation, liability rests with the Navabharat Seeds Ltd., who in all probability did not warn the farmers of the implications, and not with the Governments. If compensation claims on Governments are acceded, that only will set a dangerous precedent. On extension of a similar logic, some one caught with a pirated version of a software package or a newly released feature film, should be paid compensation by the Governments, when the CD is ceased and the purchaser fined.


Protocols with NGOs: The Need to Know

- Hon. Dr Gary Johns, IPA Backgrounder, Institute of Public Affairs, Australia

Download the protocol at http://www.ipa.org.au/pubs/backgrounddocs/13-1summary.html

Among a number of competing concepts of democracy, two stand out for the purposes of this paper: democracy as a body of active citizens working together for public and private purposes; and democracy as a set of constitutional arrangements designed to disperse and balance power. Where, in practice, these are in balance, democracy is healthy.

In those societies where constitutional arrangements are weak, for example, where governments may be unaccountable to the people, corporations unaccountable to owners and customers, and corporate--government relations corrupt, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), consisting of active citizens, may be an important force for democracy, an opposition where none exists. They may restore the constitutional deficit with an activist surplus.

In democratic societies with accountable government, strong regulation of the corporate sector and an absence of endemic corruption in business--government dealings, the role of NGOs is problematic. NGOs compete with other people for access to government and other centres of power. Democracy as an institutional concept needs to balance the interests of the organized and the unorganized. An organized and active citizenry on some issues may be good for the activists; but it may be bad for everyone else.

In the interests of an open and informed policy arena, and as a contribution to balance the two concepts of democracy, this Backgrounder proposes the use of protocols for the management of relations between NGOs and democratic governments, and between NGOs and corporations (and charitable foundations). The purpose of a protocol is to ensure that provider organizations---government, corporations, foundations---assess the standing of an NGO before granting the NGO access to resources. The providers should insist on this NGO information on behalf of the primary 'owners' of the organization---citizens, shareholders, trustees---and make it available so that those owners may assess the use made of their resources. In this way, unorganized interests may reclaim some of the power that government and corporations sometimes cede to organized interests.


Consumers Unaware of Emerging Technologies

- Feedstuffs, October 23, 2001

DES MOINES, IOWA-- Consumers are largely unaware of emerging technologies that farmers have adopted to enhance their productivity or add value to their production, according to CMF&Z Marketing Communications' eighth annual Food Safety Survey.

CMF&Z conducts the survey to assist its agriculture and food industry clients in identifying emerging issues and trends in food safety. The survey asked consumers to define several food-related terms, including "biotechnology," "genetically modified organisms (GMO)" and "functional foods." Most consumers responding were uncertain about the terms.

Almost 40% of survey respondents said they could not define "biotechnology." Seventeen percent defined it as "involving genetic alterations or engineering," and fewer than 10% said it "involved an altered or enhanced product." Although GMO was more readily understood than other terms tested in the study, only 29% of consumers responded correctly that foods from GMOs have been subject to a change in DNA. Roughly one-fourth couldn't define GMO at all, and nearly one-half offered definitions that were vague or incorrect.

Natural, organic foods rated safest The survey also revealed that consumers believe natural and organic products are the safest types of food, ranking above both food bought at grocery stores or at restaurants and irradiated foods.

More than two-thirds of respondents said natural foods are "very safe," and 58% gave the same rating to organic foods. Only one-third felt food eaten at full-service restaurants is safe, and one in five said irradiated foods are "very safe." "The survey data suggest that consumers believe the 'safest' foods are those which have been exposed to minimal processing and have had minimal exposure to chemicals -- safer than the foods they buy every day in grocery stores or order at restaurants," said Bill Brewer, senior vice president of CMF&Z.

The nationwide survey, conducted in May 2000, questioned 401 randomly selected consumers and had a margin of error of [+ or -] 4.9 percentage points. CMF&Z offers communications services for agribusiness, food, technology, healthcare, finance, telecommunications, utility and manufacturing clients.


Good Science, Not Emotion

- October 21, 2001, The Dominion (Source: Agnet)

New Zealand Labour governments have, according to this story, always prided themselves on their willingness to innovate. When Prime Minister Helen Clark and her Cabinet make their decision on the future of genetic modification in the next few days, they should remember that tradition, and not allow themselves to be spooked by the Luddite hysteria of the Greens.

The story says that once the royal commission had done its work -- and Miss Clark among others welcomed its findings as "balanced and thorough" -- the expectation was that the Government would use its three-month digestion period to work out how to put its key recommendations into effect. Chief among these was that New Zealand should follow a strategy of "preserving opportunities and proceeding selectively with appropriate care".

The Green Party, having called vociferously for the $6.2 million inquiry, having then failed to convince the commission with its arguments, and having rejected the findings because they did not match its own tunnel vision on the issue, has used the three months to foment anxiety among the public and to pressure the Government to stop the clock on "the biotechnology century". Labour's Maori caucus also opposes field trials of GE crops and any mixing of plant or animal genes with human DNA. If they were to prevail, all the Government's fine talk of riding the knowledge wave and building a knowledge economy would turn to dust.

The story says it is a nonsense to advocate that the research could continue in the laboratories as long as no one tests or applies it in the field. The point of the research is to apply it and reap the benefits by producing, for example, foods with enhanced nutritional value, vegetables that remain fresh longer, plants that will not emit asthma- stimulating pollen, pharmaceutical products, and biodegradable plastics from plants.

The benefits of a biotechnological future have been calculated as adding $1.4 billion year to the economy by 2010 and creating 19,000 jobs. While there must always be a place for GE-free farming -- and the commission was clear that further research will be necessary to ensure it can co-exist along with genetically modified options -- to impose that on the whole farming sector would be to jump on a down escalator to the Third World. The Government must now determine its strategy based on good science, not hype and emotion.


LMOs and The Environment: OECD International Conference

October 22, 2001; OECD - News release (Source: Agnet)
Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, 27-30 November 2001

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the government of the United States will hold an international conference to assess the impact on the environment of organisms that have been modified by modern genetic engineering ("living modified organisms" LMOs). OECD Secretary-General Donald Johnston and the Conference Chairman, Rita Colwell, Director of the US National Science Foundation, will welcome some 300 experts in environmental assessment from governments, academia, industry, environmental groups and intergovernmental organisations.

Answers will be sought to the following questions:
What are the current trends and future prospects for applications of LMOs?
What are the potential benefits and risks?
What are the current scientific data, information and hypotheses underlying
the assessment of LMOs in the environment?
What are the particular issues with respect to the environmental assessment
of transgenic crops? What are the similarities/differences between
environmental assessments conducted on transgenic crops and other types of
What future work on scientific environmental assessment is necessary?

The conference will promote a dialogue between developed and developing countries in order to identify unique assessment needs and experiences of different countries and regions. The emphasis will be on transgenic crops because these are the most common applications at the current time. However, other applications will also be considered, such as the use of transgenic trees in forestry, fish in aquaculture, and organisms used in bioremediation. Complete conference details, including speakers, topics, and the agenda, are available on the web at: http://www.oecd.org/ehs/raleigh/ A report of the meeting will be posted on this site following the conference. For further information, journalists are invited to contact Helen Fisher, OECD Media Relations Division (tel. 33 1 45 24 80 97 or mailto:helen.fisher@oecd.org).


From: Muhunthan Rajaratnam
Subject: GMFs and the Ban Issue in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Government has banned the importation of GM foods.In Sri Lanka the Food Advisory Committee, which recommended the ban on GMFs coming under the Ministry of Health, eventhough there is one separate Ministry for Foods.The Food Advisory Committee is almost dominated and represented soley by Medical Professionals.They look only at those mysterious Health Risks involving GM.

If the Food Advisory Committee to be efficient, it should comprise Food Technologists,Biotechnologists, Molecular Biologists, Agriculturalists, Microbiologists, Economists,Environmentalists and Medical Professionals. The Sri Lanka Government has issued the ban order without any laboratory facilities to test the foods,whether they are GM or not.It has requested the importers to produce certificate from an accredited laboratory or competent Government Authority.What will happen if an importer bring in a GM food with a forge certificate stating it not GM.

Following the Sri Lanka Government ban order, several Debates and Seminars have been organised by various institutions.On July 20, 2001 Biotechnology Students of the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, organized a debate on the theme of " Debate on Genetically Modified Organisms -their Advantages and Concerns".The debate was well attended by scientists, researchers, professors,lecturers and postgraduate students from various institutions.

Interestingly at the end of the debate questionnaires were distributed among the participants. Some important information collected from them are:

1. Will GMOs be a threat to human health? Yes-36% No-47% Undecided-18%
2. Can GMOs help in solving our agriculture problems? Yes-65% No-23% Undecided-12%
3. Should we (a) Ban all GMOs-17% (b) Use them freely-3% (c) Ban some (e.g.-food) -80%
4. Should we undertake research in genetic engineering? Yes-97% Undecided-3%
5. Should GM products be labeled? Yes 97% Undecided-3%
6. Should government invest more in GM research? Yes-67% No-17% Undecided-15%
7. Should we wait and see? Yes 8% No-92%

Scientists should take these points into account when they consider ban in Sri Lanka.

- Sincerely, R.Muhunthan, Postgrad Inst of Agric, Univ of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.


Monsanto Works In Developing World To Expand Biotech's Reach

- David Scott, Associated Press, 20 Oct 2001

ST. LOUIS (AP) - In the debate about the use of biotechnology in agriculture, the name "Monsanto Co." usually isn't far from mention.

Pioneers in the burgeoning industry, scientists at the St. Louis-based company spent decades developing techniques allowing the genetic modification of plants, including American cash crop stables like corn and soybeans. Such modifications allow the plants to withstand sprayings of the company's Roundup herbicide, or protect themselves against certain insects. The results, witnessed in the lab or field, are impressive and have convinced tens of thousands of farmers to embrace the technology. "Roundup Ready" soybeans account for 68 percent of those grown in the United States, and seeds containing Monsanto biotechnology traits were planted on 103 million acres in 2000.

But despite the success of the company's products here, reaction oversees has been markedly different - especially in Europe, where there remains a moratorium on the approval of any new genetically modified crops. The critics in the U.S., while often not as vocal as those in Europe, are no less dedicated. More than 1,000 gathered outside a large biotech conference in San Diego earlier this summer, focused on what they felt were potential health hazards in bioengineered foods and a lack of research on their safety.

Monsanto concedes it was blinded by its own enthusiasm for its technology and products.
We missed the fact that this technology raises major issues for people: issues of ethics, of choice, of trust, even of democracy and globalization," said Monsanto CEO Hendrik Verfaille in a 2000 speech. That address included the company's remodeled "pledge," in which Monsanto promised to bring the efforts of its research to "resource-poor farmers in the developing world." Chances are, those efforts won't ever turn the kind of profit that Roundup Ready soybeans do.

Still, those efforts - such as developing a papaya that's resistant to Ringspot Virus, which can devastate entire plantings of a papaya crop and return even after infected orchards are clear-cut and burned - make good on the company's desire to make biotechnology as commonplace as the hoe or combine in a farmer's field. "Long term, we're talking about business position. A rising tide floats all boats," said Robert Horsch, the company's vice president in charge of product and technology cooperation. "And we have a pretty big boat."

To be sure, the company's work in the developing world is a far cry from its mainstream seed and genomics business, which accounted for $1.6 billion in sales last year. Monsanto vigorously protects the science created its genetically modified seeds, requiring farmers who plant them to agree not to "replant" seed saved from their harvest. Monsanto has sued farmers who violate the agreement, but it also has a directed effort to share certain parts of the company's research and work with scientists in developing countries.

"We have a variety of crops and products that we're not going to invest in commercially," Horsch said. Last year, for example, field tests began in Kenya on a virus-resistant sweet potato developed after 10 years of joint research between Monsanto and the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute. The work was started in part by Florence Wambugu, a Kenyan scientist invited by Monsanto to work at the company while completing postdoctorate study.

Because sweet potatoes are easy to grow and can be stored underground indefinitely, they're a staple in the diet of millions of people in the developing world. But the virus that attacks the plant can reduce yields by up to 80 percent. "Breeding wasn't going to do it," Horsch said of efforts to naturally fight the virus. "It just looked hopeless." But while the crop fits into the area of biotechnology and Monsanto had no plans of investing in for commercial sales, it "was just a natural fit" for its sharing program, Horsch said.

Critics of biotechnology in foods often object to their use in the third world, arguing they fail to address food and nutrition problems created by abject poverty. But in Wambugu, the company also gets an ardent ambassador for biotechnology in Africa. She's gone so far as to write a book, "Modifying Africa," that touts biotech's potential for her home continent. Monsanto has set up similar relationships with researchers in Mexico working on virus resistance for potatoes and in Southeast Asia for papaya. Its decision to release its technology free of charge to researchers working on Vitamin A-enhanced rice - as well as posting its "rough draft" of the rice genome on the Internet - has received much attention - from both protestors and proponents.

"This is a model that seems to work," said Gerard Barry, director of research in the sharing program. "It's a process that is getting things done."


Free copies of "Foods from Genetically Improved Crops in Africa"

The San Diego Center for Molecular Agriculture now has hard copies available of the 16-page color brochure "Foods from Genetically Improved Crops in Africa". The brochure can be viewed at the SDCMA website (http://www.sdcma.org).

The SDCMA has sufficient funds obtained from the American Society of Plant Biologists to distribute 1500 free copies to African addresses of individual scientists. The brochures can be sent in lots of 20 only. People (organizations) wishing larger numbers have to pay for the brochures at a rate of $ 2 per brochure plus mailing costs.

- Maarten Chrispeels, Director of the SDCMA


International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Conference

Non-technical abstracts of the fifth International Conference on the Economics of Biotechnology (Ravello, Italy in June, 2001) are posted at:


The Conference was organised by The International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology (ICABR ) in cooperation with the University of Rome " Tor Vergata ", The Economic Growth Center of the University of Yale, New Haven and the Center of Sustainable Resource Development of the University of California at Berkeley. The next Conference will take place in Ravello, Italy in July, 2002. -Santaniello Vittorio


Institute of Science in Society -Vacancy

We are looking for someone to join us as science monitor in molecular genetics and biosafety and deputy editor for ISIS News, the official approx. quarterly publication of ISIS. The candidate will work from home base, and need not be located in the UK, but must have access to computer and the internet. Minimum qualifications: undergraduate degree in molecular genetics, IT literate and good writing skills, interest in science and science policy. Responsible and demanding job, but great opportunity to develop. Remuneration: 15 000 to 20 000 pa. Please send cv and three letters of recommendation to Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, Director of ISIS by e-mail: m.w.ho@i-sis.org.

- The Institute of Science in Society ; www.i-sis.org ; PO Box 32097, London NW1 OXR


From: Prakash

My Dear Mae-Wan:

How about some additional straightforward job description to help you really find the right candidate?

Here are a few suggestions: "Candidate must have innate disdain for any application of molecular biology to benefit the society. Creative skills to orchestrate scares using non-comprehendible scientific terms very essential. Must have strong desire to oppose scientific progress at any cost. Must be proficient in the selective use of scientific data to support irrational claims. Illogical reasoning a plus. Command of slanderous language to attack biotechnology scientists a bonus. Recommendation from Rifkin, NGIN or Shiva a sure shoo in "

With warm regards, .....Prakash