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December 27, 2001


Aluminum tolerance, Indian cotton, Alternative Xmas, Hope,


Today in AgBioView

* Indian cotton farmers
* Alternative Xmas
* Hope for Earth, Hungry This New Year


December 27, 2001
ARS News Service
(Via Agnet)

Increasing wheat yields at the present rates, on the world's richest soil, may not be enough to provide adequate nourishment to people in countries with rapidly growing populations, according to an Agricultural Research Service geneticist in Columbia, Mo. The world's less productive soils must also produce much higher wheat yields to feed the world population, projected by the United Nations to hit 9 billion people in 2040, according to J. Perry Gustafson at the ARS Plant Genetics Research Unit in Columbia. Increasing dependence will be placed on acidic, high-aluminum soils. Aluminum, found mostly just below the topsoil, impairs plant growth on nearly 2.5 billion of the world's 8 billion acres of cropland, including 86 million U.S. acres. When soils are acidic, more aluminum is available in the soil and plant growth is restricted. Gustafson wants to help plant breeders develop new wheat varieties with genes enabling plants to yield abundantly on this type of soil. Another way to increase yields, beside
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

Date: 27 Dec 2001 15:59:34 -0000
From: "Bob MacGregor"
To: AgBioWorld-feedback-1290@lb.bcentral.com
Subject: Re: India: Nath Seeds, China Firm In Transgenic Cotton Pact

If, over the remainder of this decade, Indian farmers double-- or even
triple-- their yields by adopting Bt cotton varieties, what impact will this increased output have on world cotton prices? Has anyone even done estimates of the effect of an additional few billion bales of cotton on world price? Claiming that increased yield will gain $5 billion for Indian farmers is probably overstating the benefits of GM cotton's introduction there; world demand isn't likely to increase as rapidly as supply, so the only way for the excess to be absorbed by the market is if the price falls (perhaps precipitously?).


Alternative Xmas

Liverpool Echo
December 26, 2001

AS MOST of us enjoyed the festive season at home with families, a group of anti-GM crop protesters had a very different experience.

They spent Christmas holding a vigil on the site of controversial crop trials. A makeshift camp was set up close to the field in the Scottish Highlands at which oilseed rape has been genetically modified at Roskill Farm, at Munlochy, on the Black Isle.

Spokesman Anthony Jackson said earlier this week I'm actually quite looking forward to this. After all, nobody really likes Christmas, do they?

Statement by International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources President: Hope for Earth, Hungry This New Year

US Newswire
December 27, 2001 11:58 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec 27, 2001 (U.S. Newswire via COMTEX) -- The following is a statement by Stephen S. Boynton, president, International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources:

Between our traditional day of giving on Christmas and the New Year, families gather to celebrate and share in the abundance, no matter how great or small, associated with our individual circumstances and to hope for even greater joy over the coming year. Such moments, respites from the toil and the turmoil of daily life, are needed, welcome and in most cases well deserved.

However, this holiday season, for all the hope and care demonstrated by so many, underscores the tremendous want so characteristic of so much of the world. From Afghanistan to Africa to the Amazon, poverty perpetuates the social and environmental blight that tempers our pretensions of human progress and fuels our resolve to make our earth a better place for future generations. Toward that end countless appeals from advocacy groups espousing precisely that goal appear in our mail slots daily.

Throughout the past 30 years, first from my position as a young lawyer working on Capitol Hill for a U.S. Senator and now as an advocate for the wise and sustainable use of Nature's resources, I've had the dubious honor of seeing first hand the power and influence of many individuals and organizations publicly proclaiming their concern for the Earth's poor, whether human, plant or animal. Some call themselves animal rights groups; some environmental groups. Each lays claim as spokesman for the public interest. Often they give the appearance of a hodge-podge of disparate would-be saviors. But, beneath the surface there is more unity and cooperation among these groups than the Allied nations mustered to end World War II.

Their seasonal appeals begin with a universally laudable premise such as ending abuse of animals or the environment, then detour via tortuous logic into rhetoric and action aimed at seeking an end to agricultural and medical biotech research, consumption of meat or the use of fur, private firearms ownership, capitalism, and the current en vogue theme, the demise of economic globalization, etc.

>From the literally hundreds of millions of dollars from individual, foundation and, yes, corporate donors flowing into their coffers, their rhetoric obviously hits responsive cords within the public. They spin visions of a simpler, more environmentally organic, more natural life free of chemical pesticides and the machinations of unrestrained, greed-driven corporate traders and scientists bent on sucking the life from the planet. Or so their appealing stories go.

Behind the dooms day rhetoric and the sad-eyed images of young animals on slick, direct mail solicitations remains an indisputable truth. Poverty exists and wherever its footprint appears, the earth with its forests and animals, rivers, streams, and ocean coasts are as barren, diseased and wasted as its human inhabitants. Our human population is expanding. Our land and water masses are not. So the question before us is how to maintain equilibrium between human growth and environmental sustainability. To that end the best minds of science work to produce more nutritious crops that produce in greater abundance on less land with less dependence upon toxic herbicides and insecticides.

Well aware of the global time crunch before areas of the world are irretrievably reduced to wastelands, these Life scientists push Nature's ways of evolving into heartier, healthier food sources by accelerating the hybridization process so common and vital to our ability to feed our selves and our families. What took generations, now takes a single growing season. They found a way to make Rachel Carson's dream of using Nature's own insect repellents as replacements for Earth-toxic chemicals. We are poised at the edge of what may well be humankind's greatest achievement, a practical, ethical, and environmentally friendly way to end world hunger.

So why are environmental and animal rights advocacy groups rampaging about the globe destroying field tests of these new crops, vandalizing the research facilities, and waging highly public campaigns condemning this new research as Frankenscience and attempting to cause a knee-jerk consumer reaction against anything labeled GMO (Genetically Modified Organism). With the exception of the blue and North Atlantic right whales, the world's whale species number in the tens of thousands, even millions, their cries of Save the Whales have given way to Beware GMOs. They employ the tactics of strong-arm extortionists and thugs against retailers such as Trader Joe's grocery outlets for stocking products containing even trace amounts of biotech-enhanced hybrid foods, developed and safety tested for the past decade.

Their campaigns of negativity equate human interaction with nature as cruel and abusive. Some of these groups toe harsh ideologies calling for strict vegetarian (vegan) life styles that condemn the use of meat, milk, fish, poultry, cheese, and eggs for food. Others espouse seemingly more moderate variants promoting organic over conventionally grown foods. Virtually all condemn modern science's attempts to feed, clothe, shelter and heal an ever more population-strained world. Why?

Certainly evidence exists that many within their ranks thrive on the power, wealth and popularity that comes with the celebrity of posturing as the Earth's and its animals' Messiah. Others act as rebellious offspring of the privileged who shun the benefits that accrued from the work of earlier generations. Many appear to take our responsibility for Nature too seriously. They forget every human's penchant for foibles and the importance of forgiveness and of a life-sustaining sense of humor.

Too many of these groups speak of maintaining eco-balance yet have no balance in their approach to life. They condemn trapping and hunting and fishing despite their proven effectiveness in maintaining equilibrium between wild life and wild habitat. They talk of ridding the world of toxic chemical pesticides. Yet when scientists find ways of incorporating nature's insect repellants into crops in order to reduce pesticide use and to produce more food without putting more wild places to the plow, agents of these groups destroy the crops and condemn the farmers. They take in hundreds of millions of dollars to save elephants and tigers and rhinos, none of which are native to the United States. They say most of those millions are spent to educate the public to the animals' and the environment's plight. Yet, barely pennies, if that, are invested in sound solutions.

Their concept of social justice is to sever ancient cultures -- whether Inuits of the frigid circumpolar region or coastal and island people of more temperate and tropical climates -- from their traditional life styles among land or marine mammals. Their campaigns of economic and cultural destruction against those who use Nature's bounty as the basis for traditional diets, clothing, or healing is nothing short of racism. Humanity has no place their world. In the end, that will be their downfall. As we enter the New Year, may intolerance be replaced with hope, understanding and acceptance of all who inhabit the Earth: humans, plants and animals alike.

CONTACT: Stephen S. Boynton of the International Foundation for
the Conservation of Natural Resources, 703-281-0702;

e-mail: boytop@erols.co


INDIA, RUSSIA JOIN HANDS TO SET UP BIOTECHNOLOGY CENTRE (at the Indian Institute of Information Technology in Allahabad)

India Business Insight via NewsEdge Corporation

India and Russia have set up a joint centre of excellence in biotechnology at the campus of the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in Allahabad.

The Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, and the Russian Academy of Sciences will be jointly co-ordinating the activities of the centre. Scientists from both India and Russia have been interacting in the field of biotechnology for the past 13 years.

An official agreement to set up the joint centre of excellence in India was, however, concluded during the recent visit of the Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to Moscow.

The biotechnology centre will focus on issues concerning food, nutritional and health security. To begin with, the centre will have bio-informatics as its main thrust.

The Government plans to set up biotechnology facilities at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and IITM in Gwalior and other select regional engineering colleges (RECs) and Indian institutes of technology (IITs). India is considering more tie-ups with Germany, Sweden, Britain, Poland, the US, Switzerland and other countries in biotechnology.