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Date:

December 17, 2001

Subject:

First GM Food Crop in S. Africa; Precaution Demands GM

 

Today in AgBioView:

* Green Light For First GM Food Crop To Be Produced in South Africa
* Precautionary Principle "Demands GM Use"
* Growth of GM Crops Greatest in Developing Countries
* More Farmers Turn To Producing GM Crops
* Philippines Bt Corn Field Tests Show Increased Corn Yield
* Europeans Want Right to Choose on GMOs
* Environmental Regulations and Income Distribution
* Legal and Policy Implications of Advancements in Biotech
* ABIC 2002 Conference - Saskatoon, Canada
* Biotech & Development: Challenges and Opportunities for Asian Region
* Rare Lynx Hairs Found In Forests Exposed As Hoax
* A Bioterrorist Caught-But Not Punished
* Growers Planting Pioneer Hybrids Win in Corn Yield Contest

Green Light For First GM Food Crop To Be Produced in South Africa

- Claire Bissekerm, Financial Mail, Dec 14, 2001

Government has given the green light for the first genetically
modified (GM) crops to be produced and sold in SA for human
consumption, and is planning a huge public awareness campaign to
allay consumer fears about GM food.

Unlike the European Union, which has imposed a five-year moratorium
on the commercialisation of GM crops, the SA government is not biased
against GM technology. It regulates the release of GM crops through
strict legislation. The onus is on the applicant to prove the product
is safe, failing which it will not be approved. The recent approval
by the Executive Council for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) of
Roundup Ready soya brings to four the number of transgenic crops
cleared for commercialisation in SA. The others are: Roundup Ready
cotton, Bt (or Bollgard) cotton and Bt (or Yieldgard) maize, which is
a yellow maize used for animal feed. All four have been developed by
US biotechnology giant, Monsanto.

Since being approved in SA three years ago, transgenic cotton has
taken off despite being almost three times more expensive than
conventional cotton seed. Monsanto's cotton and soya biotech team
leader, Andrew Bennett, says 55%-60% of all cotton sold in SA is now
transgenic. Monsanto believes it can capture up to 70% of this
market. Over the next three years, Monsanto hopes its Bt soya will
capture 30%-40% of the local market. As about 70% of soya sold
worldwide is transgenic, local consumers have unwittingly been
ingesting imported transgenic soya for years. Government is planning
legislation that will require food to be labelled so that consumers
can choose between GM and GM-free products.

Bt maize and cotton are resistant to the stalk borer caterpillar and
the bollworm respectively. Bt stands for bacillus thuringiensis, a
common soil bacterium. In the early 1900s, scientists in Thuringia,
Germany, discovered that this bacterium produces proteins with
insecticidal properties. By spraying plants with the bacteria they
were able to control pests. Monsanto has identified the proteins that
are toxic to the stalk borer and bollworm (the most serious pests to
cotton and maize) and inserted the related genes from the bacterium
into cotton and maize plants, making them resistant to the pests.

The advantage for farmers is that they use less insecticide and
labour. This is particularly so for small-scale cotton farmers who
are typically forced to spray insecticide by hand 10 times a season
to ward off bollworm. Danie Olivier, CE of Delta & Pineland seed
distributors which sells transgenic and conventional seed, says
farmers have taken well to the new GM varieties. Since 1998, the
number of small-scale farmers on the Makhatini Flats in KwaZulu-Natal
using Bt cotton has risen from 75 to 1184.

Being a farmer today is tough. Whatever technology is available to
make life easier and eliminate risk is very useful to them, says
Olivier. There's been a clamour for Bt cotton. The black subsistence
farmer has taken to it particularly well. Some report yield increases
of 100%. Cotton Farmer of the Year, Gabbie Cravits, says he owes the
award to transgenic cotton: My yields have increased by at least
1000kg/hectare (23% on average) due to transgenic cotton. I wouldn't
take conventional seed if it were free. Roundup Ready crops are
resistant to Roundup Ready herbicide which kills all green plants and
is widely used to kill weeds that compete with crops for water and
nutrients. A farmer who plants Roundup Ready soya or cotton can spray
this herbicide all over a field and it will kill only the weeds,
eliminating the laborious process of physically cutting them out. But
though farmers are flocking to the new technology, consumers are far
from convinced.

A recent attitude survey by Pretoria Technikon across all race and
income groups in Gauteng found that of the 1022 people interviewed,
30% thought that GM foods were safe, 25% thought they weren't and 45%
were uncertain. The green lobby has long argued against GM foods,
citing alleged toxicity, allergenicity, lower nutritional value and
antibiotic resistance.

The existing testing procedures are just not stringent enough, says
Safe Food Coalition spokesman Andrew Taynton. There are serious
safety concerns regarding GM food. Until it is proved safe to eat, it
should be banned from the shelves. The case against GM food was
weakened in October, however, when the European Commission released a
report stating that GM food may be safer than regular food. It
summarised 81 research projects into GM crops financed by the EU over
the past 15 years and concluded that no new risks to human health or
the environment could be found beyond the usual uncertainties of
conventional plant breeding.

Indeed, the use of more precise technology and the greater regulatory
scrutiny probably make them even safer than conventional plants and
foods, it stated. The EU Commission is seeking to increase public
acceptance of GMOs and is reviewing its two-year-old moratorium. It
appears that consumers' fears have managed to delay but not halt the
inevitable GM foods are here to stay.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Precautionary Principle "Demands GM Use"

- Agbiotechnet, http://www.agbiotechnet.com/news/database/guestnews.asp

While the precautionary principle has been invoked to defer the
introduction of transgenic crops, a true application of the principle
means that such crops must be used, argues Indur Goklany. In his
book, The Precautionary Principle - A Critical Appraisal Of
Environmental Risk And Assessment, he argues that a ban on GM crops
would increase risks to public health and the environment.

The book considers the complex nature of risk perception for
individuals and governments. "We know that an individual's perception
of risk depends on the individual's gender, race, culture, and social
standing, as well as number of other factors, such as whether the
risk is self-imposed, familiar, or catastrophic by nature, " says
Goklany. "Hence, an individual's perception of (and willingness to
accept) a particular risk is inevitably subjective. An individual may
smoke and jump out of planes, yet be unwilling to countenance
exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF)." Different government
agencies have different levels of risk-acceptance too, he says.

"I think the major source of friction between government and
individuals is that an individual (or various groups of individuals')
perception/acceptance of risk is oftentimes unconstrained by the need
to bear the costs of reducing or eliminating the (perceived) risk",
he says. "Although democratic governments have a variety of
mechanisms to transfer these costs (through, for example,
regulations) they can't be totally oblivious of costs because,
ultimately, the chief executive (Prime Minister or President) has to
answer to both groups: those who perceive the risks are as well as
those who bear the costs of reducing those risks. So I would say that
major problems occur when the benefits and costs of risk reduction
are borne by different parties."

Goklany points out that in evaluating risks associated with GM crops
we need to recognize if we don't use GM crops, we'll use something
else. "Given today's world, that "something else", at least for the
next several decades, will, I believe, probably be conventional
agriculture (which may or may not include organic agriculture)." The
consequences of have to be compared with the consequences of
"something else", that is, conventional agriculture, says Goklany.
Compared to this "GM crops will reduce some existing environmental
and public health risks, create some new risks, and prolong yet
others. Moreover, some of these consequences, whether positive or
negative, will be more severe, greater in magnitude, more certain to
transpire, or pushed back in time, and so forth. So we need a set of
hierarchical criteria-or a framework-that will allow us to compare
and rank the various positive and negative consequences of using GM
rather than conventional agriculture, based on their characteristics,
including their degree of certainty."

"Fundamentally, I believe in truth-in-packaging", says Goklany.
"Therefore, if one applies a precautionary principle or a
precautionary approach, that ought to, at worst, ensure that
environmental and/or public health risks are not increased. At best,
it ought to reduce those risks. And if the PP is used to choose
between several different policy options, the PP should select the
one that reduces overall risks the most."

What should be done when there are risks and benefits?
"Unfortunately, most policy options fall into this category," he
says. "There are very few black and white situations; most have
varying shades of grey." However, Goklany believes the logical
approach for the precautionary principle is to examine risk-risk
(RR). "Many people insist that the PP and RR approaches are
incompatible. But you can't hope to have precaution without employing
risk-risk assessment." He concludes that "the precautionary principle
would require the use of GM crops, provided due caution is exercised.
This result contradicts conventional environmental wisdom."

Over 800 million people suffer from hunger and undernourishment, and
over 2 billion suffer from malnutrition worldwide, and Goklany says
GM crops will increase the quantity and nutritional quality of food
supplies faster than would conventional crops. "Therefore, banning GM
crops would retard reductions in global hunger, malnutrition, and
diseases of affluence, and would cause mortality and morbidity rates
worldwide to be higher than they would be otherwise. On the other
side of the ledger, the health effects of ingesting GM crops, if any,
are uncertain, at best. Therefore a GM crop ban is likely to increase
net harm to public health, and probably condemn large numbers to
premature death."

Goklany also thinks biodiversity impacts need rethinking. "I would
rank agriculture as the single largest threat to biodiversity
worldwide" he says. "Considering that global population will almost
inevitably increase by 20-50% by mid-century, the most critical
question for the future of biodiversity is how much more land and
water will have to be converted to agriculture. Of course, the amount
of land conversion could be reduced if agricultural productivity is
increased, but conventional agriculture often extracts a heavy
environmental price for such productivity increases by increasing
nutrient and pesticide loadings."

The book points out that "despite an increase in agricultural
productivity at the rate of 1% per year from 1997 to 2050, we will
need an additional 325 million hectares of new cropland in 2050.
However, if productivity increases by 1.5% per year, then humanity
could return cropland to the rest of nature." Goklany is convinced
that "in the long run this productivity is more likely to increase,
and faster, with GM crops than with conventional crops. Also, there
is a much greater likelihood that these productivity improvements can
be obtained without resorting to increases in inputs, such as water,
nutrients and pesticides." He concludes "GM crops would reduce net
risks to the environment, in general, and biodiversity, in
particular."

Referring to the Referring to the pollution of maize landraces in
Mexico, "I suspect that habitat conversion is also their number one
threat. In any case, I am not sure this example indicates that GM
maize is any worse in this regard than non-GM maize from elsewhere.
This case illustrates that caution ought to be exercised if one wants
to contain gene flow/genetic pollution to protect sexually-compatible
wild or native relatives."

The Precautionary Principle - A Critical Appraisal Of Environmental
Risk And Assessment is published by The Cato Institute

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Growth of GM Crops Greatest in Developing Countries

- Agbiotechnet, http://www.agbiotechnet.com/news/database/guestnews.asp

The growth in the area of transgenic crops in developing countries
was five times greater than in developed countries (3.6 million
hectares, compared to 0.7 million hectares) between 1999 and 2000.
This is one of the trends identified by the Annual Global Review of
GM Crops for 2000 (ISAAA Briefs 23 -2001), conducted by Clive James,
Chairman of the ISAAA Board of Directors. Approximately 125 million
hectares of GM crops, equivalent to over 300 million acres, have been
planted cumulatively by millions of farmers in 15 countries in the
first five-year period 1996-2000. The survey estimates that in 1999
the economic advantage for the 2 million farmers who planted GM crops
was estimated to be of the order of $700 million, with the additional
benefits to consumers worldwide likely to bring the total benefits of
GM crops in 1999 to $1 billion or more.

Bulgaria, Germany and Uruguay grew transgenics crops for the first
time in 2000. However, Portugal and Ukraine, which grew GM crops in
1999 did not in 2000. The largest areas of GM crops were in the USA
(30.3 m ha), Argentina (10.0 m ha) Canada (3.0 m ha) and China (0.5 m
ha. The biggest growth was in transgenic soyabeans. 4.2 m ha between
1999 and 2000, followed by 1.6 m ha for cotton. GM maize and oilseed
rape declined by 0.8 and 0.6 m ha, respectively. In 2001 the number
of farmers planting GM crops is expected to grow substantially to 5
million or more, and global area planted to transgenic crops is
expected to continue to grow by 10% or more.

+++++++++++++

More Farmers Turn To Producing GM Crops

- Chang Ai-lien, The Straits Times, December 15, 2001

Report says genetically-modified crops are on the rise worldwide as
they increase yields, lower production costs. More GM food could be
finding its way to dinner tables here, with farmers worldwide
stepping up production of crops which have foreign genes inserted in
them. Last year, GM crops covered 44.2 million ha of land, compared
to 39.9 million ha in 1999, according to a report released yesterday
by the nonprofit International Service for the Acquisition of
Agri-Biotech Applications.

More farmers are turning to GM crops because they increase yields and
lower production costs, according to the report. The number of
farmers who grew GM crops increased by 75 per cent compared to 1999,
to 3.5 million last year. The Manila-based organisation, sponsored by
public-and private-sector institutions, helps transfer agricultural
biotechnology applications to developing countries, particularly
proprietary technology from the private sector. In a teleconference
with reporters yesterday, the chairman of its board of directors, Dr
Clive James, gave details of the organisation's new study on the
status of transgenic crops worldwide.

GM technology was another weapon in the war against poverty and
starvation, he said. 'GM crop technology is not a panacea, but, by
combining conventional technology with biotechnology, it's building
on a solid foundation.' Soya bean, corn, cotton and canola are the
four major GM crops being grown around the world, he said, and they
have been modified to be insect-resistant or tolerant to herbicides,
or both. GM soya bean made up more than one-third the 72 million ha
planted last year, while GM corn accounted for 7 per cent of the
total of 140 ha of corn.

In China, high-yielding GM cotton was one reason why a bumper crop
was expected for the 2001-2002 harvest, the largest cotton crop in 10
years, said the study. This year, it said, the number of farmers
planting GM crops is expected to reach at least 5 million, with the
area planted growing by 10 per cent or more. GM crops have won
acceptance among many farmers and have been endorsed by many
scientists, who believe that such foods have been tested stringently
and are safe.

But consumers in Europe and parts of Asia, still unconvinced, have
pushed for labelling, more testing, regulation or total bans.
Singapore has yet to make a stand on labelling, but its position is
likely to follow guidelines laid down by the World Health
Organisation and the United Nations' Food and Agriculture
Organisation.

No stand yet. Singapore has yet to make a stand on GM labelling, but
it is likely to be based on the Codex Alimentarius standard
sanctioned by the WHO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Philippines Biotechnology Bt Corn Field Tests Show Increased Corn Yield

- USDA Foreign Agricultural Service GAIN Report Global Agriculture
Information Network; Voluntary Report - public distribution Dec 7,
2001 GAIN Report #RP1064 (From: "Andrew Apel"
)

Report Highlights: Bt Corn field tests by Monsanto during the wet
season reveal an average yield increase of 40 percent over
traditional corn varieties on top of additional savings as a result
of reduced pesticide applications.

Monsanto Philippines, Inc. has reported a 40 percent average increase
in yield with Bt corn compared to traditional hybrid corn varieties
planted based on six field tests conducted in several locations in
the country. The field tests were conducted during the wet season
wherein corn borer infestation is higher compared to the dry season.
The harvested corn ears reportedly were of better quality with less
fungal infections. Monsanto is currently preparing for the field
testing of Bt corn during the dry season and is still waiting for the
GOP to formulate and approve the commercialization guidelines on GMO
products before it markets Bt corn seeds.

The average 40 percent yield advantage of Bt corn over the
traditional corn varieties translates to a potential P12,000 ($235)
per hectare additional income for farmers based on a farm gate price
of P6 ($0.12) per kilo of corn. In addition, according to a Monsanto
representative, the use of Bt corn likewise will reduce, if not
eliminate the cost of traditional pesticides which is usually applied
twice in a planting season. Each pesticide application costs around
P1,000 per hectare on top of an additional labor cost of around P150
per application.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Europeans Want Right to Choose on GMOs

- Agbiotechnet, http://www.agbiotechnet.com/news/database/guestnews.asp

A Europe-wide survey indicates that 94.6% want to have the right to
choose whether to eat GM food or not. The Eurobarometer survey, which
addressed a wide range of issues on science and society, also
indicated that 85.9% wanted "to know more about this kind of food
before eating it", and a similar proportion (85.8%) said that GM
foods should only be introduced if it is scientifically proven that
they are harmless. The research showed that 70.9% agreed with the
statement "I do not want this type of food, with 16.9% inclined not
to agree. Most respondents (59.4%) agreed with the suggestion that
GMOs may have negative effects on the environment, while 11.9%
disagreed.

Asked if the dangers of GM food had been exaggerated by the media,
around a third (33.1%) agreed, and 44.3% disagreed. Over half (54.8%)
disagreed with the suggestion that "this kind of food does not
present any particular danger", with 14.6 agreeing, and 30.6 saying
they didn't know.

A more detailed analysis of the responses showed that there was no
"knowledge/education effect": although it is generally observed that
the more knowledge people have the more favourable they are to
scientific and technological progress. This not true with GMOs -
those ranked as having the greatest knowledge of science based on
other evaluations still tended to say they did not want this type of
food (65.4%). People interviewed could have a high level of knowledge
and still believe that biotechnology should be subject to more
control and demand more safety studies, etc. In this case information
is not enough and could even be counter-productive. For the same
question, young people (15-24 year-olds) were less negative (64.3%
rejection) about GM food than older people (65 years or over)
(74.8%), but this was not related to level of knowledge. Young men
were relatively less hostile (60.7% compared to 68.1% for women). The
survey analysts speculate as to whether young people tend to be more
acceptant of new technology and this generation will continue to be,
or whether as they age, they will become more resistant.

Talking about the survey as a whole, EU Research Commissioner
Philippe Busquin said "Our society continues to have a positive
perception of science, but we must address the concerns and
scepticism that people express about some specific issues. The
results of the survey show that Europe must invest in knowledge at
all levels, and especially in scientific information. I am struck by
the large number of people saying there is not enough science on TV.
People want to learn and want to have information. A clear challenge
for all is to become more professional in the way science is
communicated."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

From: "Kershen, Drew L"
Subject: Environmental Regulations and Income Distribution

In the debate about agricultural biotechnology, proponents and
opponents have debated the amount of environmental protection desired
and agbiotech's impact upon income distribution within a society
Today, I read an article that addresses these issues in a
non-agbiotech context. K. R. Tefertiller, Govenmental Environmetnal
Regulations and Income Distribution: Where You Stand Depends upon
Where You Sit, CHOICES pp. 15-19 (3rd Q. 2001). CHOICES is a
quarterly publication of the American Agricultural Economics
Association.

On p. 20, Professor Tefertiller writes, "Two [prior] empirical
studies found the cost of environmental regulations to be regressive
over a wide range of income levels. The results of this [present]
study suggest that the government's role in making and implementing
environmental policy intensifies the income gap between rich and
poor. Unless special measures are sued to offset the negative impact
on the poor, governmental regulations may widen the income gap."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Legal and Policy Implications of Advancements in Biotechnology

- Canada Dept. of Justice Biotechnology Conference - Ottawa
http://www.canada.justice.gc.ca/en/news/conf/biotech/overview.html

The conference takes place in Ottawa at the Westin Hotel, February
21-22, 2002. It brings together legal and policy decision makers from
government, academia, and private sectors in Canada and beyond.
Participants will have the opportunity to discuss and debate critical
issues and acquire new insights into biotechnology issues which
impact the federal government, the Department of Justice and society.

This conference is an opportunity to connect with some of today's
most accomplished national and international biotech leaders. It
will also be an opportunity to compare the experience (legislative,
regulatory and policy approaches) and lessons learned from other
countries.

Opening Plenary: What are the big challenges of the next 10 years?
Dr. Prakash, Ph.D., Professor, Tuskegee University. Genetic privacy
- keep your hands off my genes- Mark Rotherberg - Executive Director
Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic) U.S.A. ; Reproductive
Technology - Lessons from the UK - Hugh Whittall, Deputy Chief
Executive, British Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, UK.
Glenn Rivard, General Counsel, Justice Canada (chair)

Forensic DNA - What does the future hold - Implications for Criminal
Law - Panel Discussion * Ron Fourney, Royal Canadian Mounted Police,
Central Forensic Laboratory * Jack Walsh, Queens Counsel, New
Brunswick * Stanley Cohen, Senior General Counsel, Justice Canada *
Michael E Zigayer, Senior Counsel, Justice Canada

Innovations in Biotechnology - Public perceptions and cultural
attitudes - Drew L. Kershen, Professor, University of Oklahoma;
Managing biotechnology * Holly Penfound, Greenpeace International; *
Ottawa Health Research Institute; * Tim Plumptre, Managing Director,
Institute On Governance

Public Policy and Emerging Socio-Ethical Issues In Biotechnology -
Bartha Maria Knoppers, Professor, Université de Montréal; Dr. Duff R.
Waring, Bio-Medical Ethics Unit, Faculty of Medicine, McGill
University (discussant)

Indigenous perspectives on biotechnology: Key Issues Violet Ford,
Consultant, Inuit Circumpolar Conference; Environmental
sustainability and Biotechnology; Professor Brian Ellis, Faculty of
Agricultural Sciences and the Biotechnology Laboratory, University of
British Columbia (to be confirmed); EU legislation review - EU
directives on biotechnology: current and future -Christophe Bail -
European Commission - The protection of vulnerable populations and
future generations; current and future liabilities - Mark Rotherberg
- Executive Director Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic)
U.S.A. (tentative) *Julien Delisle - Executive Director, Privacy
Commission of Canada

Genetically engineered foods - Regulatory and policy issues - Doug
Powell, Professor, University of Guelph; Trade and international
rules - the International Regulatory Environment
Mark Mansour, B.S. M.A., L.L.B ; The way of the future - more rules
or voluntary compliance? Margaret Somerville, Director, Centre for
Medical Ethics and Law, McGill University ; Nathalie Des Rosiers,
President, Law Commission of Canada; Positioning ourselves for the
future; Stephen Owen, Member of Parliament.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ABIC 2002 Conference - Saskatoon, Canada

http://www.abic.net/index2.html

September 15-18, 2002; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Plenary Session - Introducing the Opportunities; Keynote Speakers:
Dr. Ralph Hardy, Dr. C.S. Prakash, Dr. Hubert Zandstra; Public Forum
- Ask the Experts

Health: Active Molecules from Plants - Plants as Factories/Products
to Improve Health & Wellness
Bioeconomy - Useful Products from Biomass; Health: Animal Products to
Enhance Human Health - Beyond Traditional Roles; Environmental
Biotechnology; New Scientific Tools - Rocket Science Meets
Agriculture; Bioeconomy - Fibres & Fuels from Field & Forest; New
Scientific Tools - Pigs, Plants, Pentiums & Pharmaceuticals; The
Business of Technology Transfer - Doing the Technology Transfer
Two-Step
PLENARY - Dr. Anatole Krattiger; Public Perception - Building Public
Trust - Dr. Vivian Moses
Stewardship - Toward Benefits for All; Biotech Communicators'
Workshop - The Interface Between Scientist and Public

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Biotechnology and Development: Challenges and Opportunities for Asian
Region

- February 26 and 27, 2002, New Delhi, India.

Hosted by: Research and Information System for the Non-Aligned and
Other Developing Countries Zone IV B, Fourth Floor, India Habitat
Centre Lodi Road, New Delhi 110003; supported by UNESCO and Govt of
India (DBT) (Contact: Sachin Chaturvedi )

In the last decade or so Asian biotechnology industry has grown many
folds. The area of coverage both, in pharmaceutical and agriculture,
has diversified and applications of this technology have found new
vistas of growth. A feature of this expansion of the biotechnology
industry has been the growing presence of developing countries
particularly those from Asia. This region has also witnessed
biotechnological revolution from close quarters only in last few
years.

A number of issues have been raised as the biotechnology industry has
expanded. These issues can be broadly divided into two groups. On the
one hand, debates have raged over the growth prospects of this
industry, particularly in the developing world. Two factors have been
focussed in this context. The first is the squeeze on the R&D
spending because of the tight fiscal situation that most developing
countries face at the present juncture. The second is the impact of
the stronger regime of intellectual property protection that is now
being adopted in these countries on the growth of their biotechnology
industry. At another level, questions have been raised about the
larger implications of genetic engineering on the environment, in
other words, the biosafety issues. These issues need to be given
careful consideration and therefore the necessity of having public
forums in developing countries for discussing these issues is being
felt more than ever before.

It is with the intention of reviewing and analyzing these
developments in the Asian region that RIS has decided to hold an
'Asian Conference on Biotechnology and Development', on February
26th and 27th, 2002. The idea is to engage researchers,
policy-makers, international organisations and private institutions
on the above mentioned issues.

This occasion would also be used to launch the RIS Biotechnology and
Development Review (BDR) as Asian Biotechnology and Development
Review, focussing more sharply on the Asian region. In last few years
BDR has emerged as an effective forum of debate and dissemination of
information about biotechnology related issues.

The BDR has a cross-sectoral approach and attempts to transcend the
boundaries between natural and social sciences. The BDR was
started as a newsletter in 1992 and later this newsletter was
subsequently launched as a journal in 1997. This is a bi-annual
journal but now in new form it would come out thrice a year. This is
being brought out with the support from Department of Biotechnology,
Government of India.

RIS and its Biotechnology Programme: The Research and Information
System for the Non-Aligned and Other Developing Countries (RIS) is an
autonomous research institution established with the financial
support of the Government of India. RIS is India's contribution to
the fulfilment of the long-felt need of the developing world for
creating a 'Think Tank' on global issues in the field of
international economic relations and development cooperation. RIS has
also been envisioned as a forum for fostering effective intellectual
dialogue among developing countries.

RIS is also mandated to function as an advisory body to the
Government of India on matters pertaining to multilateral economic
and social issues, including regional and sub-regional cooperation
arrangements, as may be referred to it from time to time. RIS
functions in close association with various governmental bodies,
research institutions, academicians, policy-makers, business and
industry circles in India and abroad. RIS has conducted policy
research and other activities in collaboration with other agencies,
including United Nations - Economic and Social Commission for Asia
and Pacific (UN-ESCAP), United Nations Conference on Trade and
Development (UNCTAD), United Nations University (UNU), Group of 77,
Non-Aligned Movement, SAARC Secretariat, Asian Development Bank
(ADB), The World Bank, and the South Centre.

One of the major mandates of RIS has been to provide analytical
inputs to policy makers in India and in other developing countries on
contemporary issues of development policy and international
negotiations. In order to fulfill this mandates, RIS has, over the
years, consciously attempted to build analytical capability in key
areas of development policy, especially those pertaining to
international relations.

Asian Conference on Biotechnology and Development
Inaugural Session : Chair: Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, Swaminathan
Foundation, Chennai
Keynote Address: Dr. William G. Padolina, DDG, IRRI,
The Philippines "Global Trends in Biotechnology and Challenges for
Development"
Role of Biotechnology in Development; Financing of Biotechnology:
Learning from Experiences
*Israel *EU * US
GMOs: Issues and Options : "Economic benefits, International Trade
and GMOs" "Environment, Health related concerns and GMOs" "
Commercialisation of GMOs"
Initial Discussions on Networking of Institutions for Asian
Biotechnology and Development Review

DAY II: Thematic Sessions, Agricultural Biotechnology ; China/Sri
Lanka: The Philippines, Malaysia: Thailand, Bioprospecting:
Interests of Developing Countries ; Medical Biotechnology
Convergence of Technologies: Implications for Economic Development
Bioinformatics: Bio-nano Technology:; Networking of Institutions for
Asian Biotechnology and Development Review

For More information: Contact: Sachin Chaturvedi


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Rare Lynx Hairs Found In Forests Exposed As Hoax

The Washington Times, Dec 17, 2001 (From: Andrew Apel:
agbionews@earthlink.net)

Federal and state wildlife biologists planted false evidence of a
rare cat species in two national forests, officials told The
Washington Times. Had the deception not been discovered, the
government likely would have banned many forms of recreation and use
of natural resources in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and
Wenatchee National Forest in Washington state.

The previously unreported Forest Service investigation found that the
science of the habitat study had been skewed by seven government
officials: three Forest Service employees, two U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service officials and two employees of the Washington Department of
Fish and Wildlife.

The officials planted three separate samples of Canadian lynx hair on
rubbing posts used to identify existence of the creatures in the two
national forests. DNA testing of two of the samples matched that of a
lynx living inside an animal preserve. The third DNA sample matched
that of an escaped pet lynx being held in a federal office until its
owner retrieved it, federal officials said.

After the falsified samples were exposed by a Forest Service
colleague, the employees said they were not trying to manipulate or
expand the lynx habitat, but instead were testing the lab's ability
to identify the cat species through DNA analysis, said Joel Holtrop,
a Forest Service official. "Even if that is the case, it was
inappropriate," Mr. Holtrop said.

Forestry officials, conservationists and retired federal officials
said they were outraged that the data were tampered with and said
they are skeptical it was an attempt to test the lab. "I would find
the evil-twin argument more plausible," said Rob Gordon, executive
director of the National Wilderness Institute. "That would be like
bank robbers taking money from a bank and saying they were just
testing the security of a bank, they weren't really stealing the
money. That's beautiful, but I don't think it will fly," Mr. Gordon
said.

Retired Fish and Wildlife Service biologist James M. Beers called the
false sampling amazing but not surprising. "I'm convinced that there
is a lot of that going on for so-called higher purposes," Mr. Beers
said. The employees have been counseled for their actions and banned
from participating in the three-year survey of the lynx, listed as a
threatened animal under the Endangered Species Act. Federal officials
would not name the offending employees, citing privacy concerns.

The lynx listing and habitat study began in 1999 during the Clinton
administration and concludes this year. It was criticized by
Westerners as a political move to impose restrictions on public
lands. Radical environmental groups felt the restrictions didn't go
far enough. To protect the habitat of the felines, roads would have
to be closed to vehicles, and off-road vehicles, snowmobiles, skis
and snowshoes would have been banned. Livestock grazing and tree
thinning also would have been banned.

"It was rigged from the word go; it was full of bad biology and bad
politics," Mr. Beers said. "It gave them the federal government carte
blanche to go after ski resorts, stop road building and go after
ranchers and tree cutters."

When the Vail Ski Resort announced an expansion of trails into
possible lynx habitat, the radical animal-rights group Earth
Liberation Front (ELF) torched five buildings and four ski lifts in
protest. The Oct. 18, 1998, fire caused $12 million in damage and was
the largest act of eco-terrorism in the United States. No arrests
were made, and the statute of limitations expired in October.

This past summer, ELF planted spikes in hundreds of trees to sabotage
a timber sale and protect the lynx and spotted owls in the Gifford
Pinchot National Forest - one of the forests where the false samples
were planted,

This isn't the first time forestry officials have encountered
questionable studies to identify the presence of lynx in the
Northwest. In 1999, a scientist hired by the federal government
submitted lynx hair samples supposedly found in the Oregon Cascades,
farther south than where the animals were thought to exist, said
Chris West, spokesman for the American Forest Resource Council.
Federal officials spent thousands of hours and tens of thousands of
dollars trying to duplicate the finding but found no evidence of the
creatures.

The hairs were never validated, the samples were thrown out, and the
contractor was never paid, Mr. West said. "These are cases of rogue
biologists trying to influence natural-resources policy," Mr. West
said. "There has clearly been some shenanigans going on here," he
said of the false sampling in Washington.

Forest Service officials say this year's errant sampling was caught
and therefore did not affect the integrity of the sample survey. "We
have looked at it carefully and feel the overall integrity of the
sampling effort is in place, and the ongoing results will have valid
scientific and sound results," said Heidi Valetkevitch, Forest
Service spokeswoman.

However, the incident has damaged the integrity of the federal
agencies within their own ranks and in the communities they serve.
"It destroys the credibility of the hard work we are trying to do to
track these animals," said one retired Forest Service employee. Mr.
Gordon said the false sampling aggravates an already distrustful
relationship between Westerners and the federal government. "This
revelation makes all the projects these offices and individuals were
involved in suspect, and may merit review," Mr. Gordon said.

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A Bioterrorist Caught-But Not Punished

- Dennis T. Avery, December 5, 2001

Washington, DC - A bioterrorist has been caught. An American
scientist who terrified the U.S. public, hoodwinked the scientific
press, and panicked the congress has been found out. The Federal
Office of Research Integrity just ruled that Steven R. Arnold, a
former researcher at the Tulane University Center for
Bioenvironmental Research, "committed scientific misconduct by
intentionally falsifying the research results published in the
journal Science and by providing falsified and fabricated materials
to investigating officials."

Arnold claimed that the U.S. food supply was dangerously
contaminated, and sent federal authorities off on a costly wild goose
chase that continues to this day. He used high-level political allies
to publicize a scientific fraud that imposed untold amounts of
anxiety on the public. He cost the United States economy billions of
dollars, with the toll still mounting. His punishment? He will not
be allowed to receive any federal scientific grants for five years.

It is one of the most dramatic scientific frauds of modern times. A
major scientific laboratory published remarkable new information in
the world's top science journal, confirming one of the public's worst
fears. The Tulane Center said it found that various pesticides, safe
when tested individually, were 1,000 times more dangerous when tested
together. It raised the specter of modern agriculture's chemicals
undermining the health of the human population and the natural
ecology through a blind spot in our regulatory testing.

The environmental movement claimed for decades that this danger
existed, but never produced any evidence. A book was published in
early 1996, with a remarkable title-Our Stolen Future: Are We
Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival?-A Scientific
Detective Story. The book speculated that man-made chemicals were
causing ailments ranging from cancer to attention deficit disorder by
disrupting our endocrine systems. The book's forward was by then-Vice
President Al Gore, who called it a legitimate sequel to Rachel
Carson's famed Silent Spring.

Our Stolen Future was widely noted in the media-and just as widely
criticized by respected scientists. Even the book's author, Theo
Colbert, admitted she had only suspicions linking anecdotes. But
then, in June 1996, came the Tulane study, claiming that combinations
of pesticides were radically more dangerous endocrine disrupters than
we had known. Carol Browner, the Administrator of the Environmental
Protection Agency said, "The new study is the strongest evidence to
date that combinations of estrogenic chemicals may be potent enough
to significantly increase the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer,
birth defects and other major health concerns." The EPA's pesticide
chief, Lynn Goldman, noted, "I just can't remember a time where I've
seen data so persuasive . . . the results are very clean looking."

The U.S. Congress was just then writing rewriting pesticide law, and
the Tulane study stampeded near-unanimous approval in July 1996, for
a statute that established an expensive new set of tests for
pesticide endocrine disruption. The EPA was also given dramatically
increased authority to tighten residue limits for any pesticide which
the agency though might endanger the health of children.

The EPA is currently using that authority to drive off the market
safety-proven pesticides that for decades have protected our fruits
and vegetables from bugs and bacteria, and our homes from termites.
The resulting increases in termite damage alone are probably costing
billions of dollars per year. Because of the EPA's new FQPA
authority, we're currently in danger of losing a host of effective
minor-crop chemicals that help protect cancer-fighting fruits and
vegetables from voracious pests.

By scientific standards, the Tulane fraud began to unravel quickly.
Within six months, other scientists were reporting that they couldn't
reproduce the Tulane results. The Tulane lab director was forced to
sign a Science retraction in August 1997, admitting that Tulane
couldn't reproduce its own results. But Arnold still did not admit
his fraud. He merely said, "I can't really explain the original
findings." In August 1999, an expert committee of the National
Research Council-a panel that included representatives of the
activist community as well as mainstream scientists-reported there
was no evidence that chemicals in the environment were disrupting
hormonal process in humans or wildlife.

Arnold not only committed scientific fraud, he lied about it
afterward. To this day, activists still loudly warn that pesticides
have been "linked" to endocrine disruption; and American consumers
needlessly worry about the healthiness of their food. The flawed Food
Quality Protection Act remains on the books. And, farmers are losing
still more of the tools that have allowed them to feed more people on
less land. Is this really a victimless white-collar crime, calling
for nothing more than a federal tap on the wrist? Is bioterrorism a
harmless prank when committed by a "scientist"? If the answer is
"yes, " it's a dangerous precedent.
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Dennis T. Avery is a senior fellow for Hudson Institute of
Indianapolis and DENNIS T. AVERY is a senior fellow for Hudson
Institute of Indianapolis and was formerly a senior policy analyst
for the U.S. Department of State. Readers may write him at Hudson
Institute, 1015 18th Street NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20036.

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Growers Planting Pioneer Hybrids Win 26 of 27 Categories in 2001
NCGA Corn Yield Contest

Pioneer growers win first place in -- all contest categories, while
one grower tops 400 bushels. Details: Jerry Harrington; 800-247-6803,
ext. 6908 jerry.harrington@pioneer.com

Des Moines, Iowa, Dec.14, 2001 - Growers producing Pioneer® brand
corn hybrids won 26 of 27 categories in the 2001 National Corn
Growers Association (NCGA) Corn Yield Contest, including one grower
who broke the 400-bushel per acre mark for the first time in contest
history.

Farmers growing Pioneer hybrids finished in first-place in all nine
classes. Among second-place winners, those growing Pioneer hybrids
won all nine categories and, among third-place winners, growers
producing Pioneer hybrids won eight of nine categories.

The highest yield within the contest was Francis Childs of
Manchester, Iowa, who planted Pioneer’ brand 34M95 with a yield of
408.22 bushels per acre. Winning in the national AA non-irrigated
class, the hybrid contained the YieldGard* gene, providing resistance
to European corn borer. Childs has made NCGA contest history as the
first grower to win with a yield above the 400 bushel-an-acre hurdle.

"We're pleased to see the tremendous results that growers achieved in
the NCGA contest this year" says Bill Fleet, Pioneer regional
director for North American sales. "And we congratulate Iowa grower
Francis Childs, who continues to show that diligence and careful
production planning can result in getting the most value from each
acre of land."

The NCGA Corn Yield Contest is an annual national competition among
corn producers with the goal of producing the highest yields.
Growers compete within a broad range of nine corn production classes,
including conventional, no-till/strip-till non-irrigated,
no-till/strip-till irrigated, ridge-till non-irrigated, ridge-till
irrigated and irrigated classes. For more information
http://www.pioneer.com