Today in AgBioView
* African Scientists Shed Lab Coats To Fight Hunger
* Potato Raid Strikes at Core of Beliefs
* GM Vandalism
* Activists Reject Terrorism
* Largest Ever World Wide Project to Promote Biosafety Launched by UNEP
* India: Nath Seeds Ties Up With Chinese Firm For Transgenic Tech
* Biotech Soybeans Benefit Environment
* Underinvestment Is Major Block on South's Biotech
* Veneman Says Precautionary Principle "Not Objective"
* Replies to : Let's NOT Leave Science to Scientists
* Genetic Science Learning Center
* Int Society of Plant Mol Biology - Congress
* Clueless In San Diego: The Antibiotech Crowd is Afraid of the Truth
* Petition to Demand that Jose Bove Serve his Full Sentence!
African Scientists Shed Lab Coats To Fight Hunger
- The People, Sept 17, 2001,
Bitten by the pains of a whirlwind hunger, African scientists are
shedding their lab coats to don a food security gear. In a rear
retreat in Nairobi last week, they broke up nuptials with the labs to
announce that they will spearhead the onslaught on starvation. The
"Agricultural biotechnology has the potential to make significant
contributions in Africa to the regional priorities of poverty
alleviation, rural development, strengthened trade and economic
competitiveness, agricultural sustainability and improved food and
fibre quality to the end user," said Dr Romano Kiome, the director,
Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) in a keynote address.
A cloud of uncertainty has been hanging over the prospects of
producing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the continent.
This is despite the fact that biotechnology has stimulated the
production of food surpluses in Europe. Ironically, the loudest
voices against GMOs have resonated from Europe. The critics have
linked the technology to an array of environmental and health risks.
So frenzied have been their shouts that for a long time now the
whispers of local proponents have remained drowned.
Two months ago, Margaret Karembu, a lecturer of environmental studies
at Kenyatta University was quoted in the authoritative Newscientist
magazine as having cried foul over the designs of Europe-based
environmental organizations. Singling out the Greenpeace, Karembu was
concerned that misleading propaganda peddled by the lobby was holding
back Africa's attempts to combat hunger.
"Greenpeace has a very loud voice, but much of what they say is not
factual, and they do not provide alternatives. We cannot make policy
based on people's opinion," said a bitter Karembu. But the African
scientists have now indicated that the rag will not be pulled from
under their feet any more. The good tidings of biotechnology for a
pathetically improvised people, they reasoned, are far greater than
the bad omen. Consequently, the resolve to rally behind the technique
of food production was solid and strong.
"This paper is intended to signal Africa's position of support for
safe, fully regulated and effective utilization of biotechnology in
the region and its commitment to pursue, establish and support
partnerships targeted to achieving this goal." Indeed such clarion
calls may as well have come earlier. Drudgery has been blamed for the
poor yields from farms especially in Africa, south of the Sahara.
For instance, at a time when agriculture is heavily mechanized in
Europe, America and Asia, African farmers continue to toil under the
scorching heat of the sun, scratching barren soils with the hoe. Not
surprisingly, paltry harvests have defied such enormous effort.
Earlier, the continent sadly missed out on the chance to fill its
food basket in the 1960s when the era of green revolution dawned in
Asia. The world's most populous countries of China and India grabbed
that opportunity to develop high yielding varieties of rice and
wheat. And today China perches at the top of the world as the leading
Nobel Laureate, Borlaug, echoed this sentiment during the 30th
anniversary of his prize, last year, at the Nobel Institute, in
Norway. Like many other agricultural scientists, Borlaug, who was in
1970 honoured for his work towards expanding food production,
described food situation in the sub-Saharan Africa as catastrophic.
"More than any other region of the world, food production in south of
the Sahara is in crisis. High rates of population growth and little
application of improved production technology has resulted during the
last two decades in declining per capita food production, escalating
food deficits and deteriorating nutritional levels," said Borlaug.
But the revered agricultural expert remained buoyant that Africa has
a real chance of kicking out hunger. The star of the continent in
food security, he was emphatic, would rise if it tapped into the
benefits of biotechnology. Thanks to biotechnology, European farmers,
for instance, are producing more food than they need. And while
famine holds a huge chunk of the African population under its grip,
Europe and America cherish this opportunity to dispose of its surplus
in form of famine relief.
Borlaug's only worry was whether this promising technique would be
placed in the right hands. "ŠThe world has the technology, either
available or well advanced in the research pipelineŠ. to feed, on a
sustainable basis, a population of 10 billion people. The more
pertinent question is whether farmers and ranchers will be permitted
to use this new technology."
He subsequently raised pertinent questions, which he said must be
answered if the gains of biotechnology were to be realized. "How will
resource-poor farmers of the developing world be able to gain access
to the products of biotechnology research? How long and under what
terms should patents be granted for bio-engineered products? Is the
high cost of biotechnology research desirable?"
These, without any doubt are policy questions. They are food for
thought for national governments, which must henceforth create an
environment where biotechnology can thrive. And faced with a wave of
wild hunger, the work should be done sooner than later.
"Further delays on the part of African countries in the assessment of
biotechnology and the formulation of appropriate policy can only
serve to extend the technological and economic differences between
the regions. National governments have the primary responsibility for
putting the enabling factors in place," warned Dr Kiome, underlining
the urgency with which the governments must act.
It might be too early to tell whether African governments will move
at the right place so that their citizens can reap the benefits of
biotechnology. But pointers are that they know the button has been
passed to them. "My views on this is that strategies of creating an
environment for strengthening social understanding of biotechnology
be put in place for Africa so that various governments and all
sectors of the society take the necessary informed decisions and
provide support biotechnology development," said Kenya's Science and
Technology minister, Gideon Ndambuki.
Well, what a hopeful note to close the symposium! For the unsettled
scientists and the many people staring death in face due to hunger,
Ndambuki's words inspire the urge to live longer.
Potato Raid Strikes at Core of Beliefs
- Colin James, New Zealand Herald, Jan 15 2002.
Francis Wevers )
Nandor Tanczos, of the Greens, refused to condemn the vandalising of
genetically modified potatoes in a Crop and Food Research Institute
laboratory. This is a matter of profound importance.
Note that Greens co-leader Rod Donald approved "civil disobedience"
in some cases in respect of GM crops when the Government announced
its position on the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification -
although on Monday co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons explicitly condemned
this particular act.
Set aside Tanczos' excuse that this was non-violent political protest.
Such action has a proud history. Gandhi used it to great effect to
free India from British rule. This country's most celebrated example
is Parihaka in 1881, an ineradicable stain on the British escutcheon
and a brilliant feather in the cloak of Maori history. Protest in
1981 - mostly non-violent - put a stop to official rugby with
apartheid South Africa.
But is the smashing of private property non-violent? Is the
destruction of research work non-violent? Is the damage done to a
No, it is not. Destroying the potatoes was an act of violence, the
act of terrorists. "Intellectual theft", Marian Hobbs called it. No
villages or glass towers were bombed, no babies slaughtered, women
raped or men tortured and killed. But it took three years out of a
life's work by a law-abiding citizen. That is violence as surely as
taking an eye or a tooth.
A parallel might be to spray an aspirant organic farmer's crops with
conventional pest-killer just before certification was due after
years of work. But there was another and deeper violence. Life
Sciences Network chairman William Rolleston pinpointed it.
The attack was on knowledge - more accurately, on the pursuit of
It was an act of the Dark Ages. It was an attack on what has driven
the huge improvement in the human condition in the past
A distinction between humans and animals is that humans create
wealth. They accumulate capital: economic, cultural, social and human
(knowledge). Societies that neglect any one of these suffer for it.
This was not understood, for example, by Karl Marx. He devoted a
life's work to analysing economic capital, but overlooked human
This hole in his analysis led millions of followers up an
intellectual and eventually social and political cul-de-sac. Human
capital, accumulated by inquiry and imagination, is a critical factor
in increasing economic wealth. The sad history of pre-1990 China
demonstrates the price of rejecting new knowledge.
Western Europe's great social improvement over the last
half-millennium demonstrates the value of pursuing, acquiring and
using new knowledge, of building human capital. Medieval Catholicism
stamped on new knowledge. Some versions of modern-day Islam do, too.
Western European protestantism celebrated it.
The problem with new knowledge is that it has a dark side as well as
a light side, a destructive dimension as well as a constructive one.
For 500 years or so the societies that have done best have punted
correctly that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Now we have
in our midst some who believe some forms of knowledge are so
potentially dangerous that we must close our minds to it. The
medieval popes would have approved. Not many ordinary folk today
Go back a couple of centuries. A dangerous substance was being
inquired into and experimented with. No one knew what it might be
capable of. There were fears of serious damage to our bodies and even
possibly our souls if it was unleashed. And in fact, this substance,
once understood and put to use, has done a great deal of damage,
killed many people and enabled the construction of devices of great
It also turned out to be one of the greatest liberating forces and
one of the most potent facilitators of economic and social advance.
It was electricity.
No one knows where GM will lead. We can be sure some damage will
result, but also some good. Modern-day medievalists say we must not
even inquire. They claim a moral right to destroy the work of the
inquirers. The potato raid is not just GM or not GM. It goes to the
core of our belief system.
That is why it is so profoundly important.
- The Christchurch Press, Letter, Jan 14 2002
Sir - Nandor Tanczos, speaking about the destruction of genetically
modified potatoes at Crop and Food Research (Jan 12), says that such
vandalism is legitimate when the grievances of the people are not
being addressed by the Government.
Such an attitude is disturbing coming from a member of Parliament
sworn presumably to uphold the law of the land. I would also point
out that despite gains in the polls the Green Party is far from
having a majority mandate to speak for the people. The environmental
fundamentalism for which Mr Tanczos expresses approval is no less
hysterical and ideology driven than the religious fundamentalism that
regards bombing abortion clinics as a moral imperative.
Militant Greens would be better employed ensuring the observance of
the safeguards that are in place for genetic modification rather than
indulge the paranoia of greenie Rambo wannabes convinced that the
stealth-attack potatoes are coming to kill us all.
- Darren A. Saunders, St Albans
Activists Reject Terrorism
- The Evening Post (Wellington) January 12, 2002
(From: "Andrew Apel"
Anti-GE group changes heart A group that less than three months ago
advocated ripping out genetically-engineered (GE) crop field trials
is no longer urging direct action. A spokesman for the
Canterbury-based group Groundswell, Tremane Barr, said last night
that the lobby had changed its policy because of the September 11
terrorism in New York. The group was not now advocating destruction
of GE field trials or the unlawful tampering with other GE
experiments, he said.
Largest Ever World Wide Project to Promote Biosafety Launched by UNEP
UNEP Press Release, (Forwarded by Don D'Cruz )
Nairobi, 16 January 2002 - A multi-million dollar project to help
developing countries assess the potential risks and rewards from
genetically engineered crops will be at the centre of an African
Regional Workshop on biosafety that opens today.
The project, financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), will
help up to 100 countries develop the scientific and legal skills for
evaluating the health and environmental issues surrounding imports of
so called Living Modified Organisms (LMOs).
The three year, $38.4 million, scheme, is seen as a key initiative to
elp developing countries prepare for the entry into force of the
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety which was adopted in January 2000.
Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP) which is to carry out the project, said: "Industry
is convinced that genetically engineered crops are the key to
boosting yields in a more environmentally friendly way. But others
are concerned that the new technology may actually pose environmental
as well as health risks".
"The Cartagena Protocol is an attempt to reconcile these trade and
environmental protection issues. It not only is the first legal,
environmental treaty, to institutionalise the precautionary approach,
but establishes the advanced informed agreement proceedure. This
requires those nations exporting LMOs to inform countries who import
them so that the receiving country can decide whether or not to
accept the shipment, " he added.
"Crucial to the success of this is developing countries having the
skills and systems in place for evaluating these imports and for
safely handling them. This is why this multi-million dollar, capacity
building, project is so important," said Mr Toepfer. To date, 107
governments have signed the Protocol and 10 countries have ratified
it. 50 ratifications are required for its entry into force.
Christopher Briggs, the project's manager, said: "It is a direct
response to the need for building capacity for assessing and managing
risks, establishing adequate information systems, and developing
expert human resources in the field of biosafety. And the key to
achieving this goal is pooling together the scarce institutional,
financial, technical, and humanresources within the region and
sharing ideas and information amongst local and international
experts. To this end more than 20 regional and sub-regional workshops
will be convened in the near future."
Representatives from more than 46 countries are attending the
three-day workshop, taking place at UNEP's headquarters in Nairobi,
which runs to 18 January. They will be discussing how to implement
the new project through National Biosafety Frameworks as well as how
to promote collaboration regionally, sub-regionally and between
Mr Charles Gbedemah from Ghana, who is the project's task manager for
the Africa region, added: "It is no coincidence that the first
activity under this major biosafety, capacity building, initiative is
taking place in Nairobi for the benefit of the African continent.
Indeed Africa is one of the five priorities of UNEP's operations.
Africa has played a leadership role during the negotiation of the
Cartagena Protocol and we hope that the implementation of this
project will assist the African countries in playing a similar role
throughout the implementation phase of the Protocol".
Mr Ahmed Djoghlaf, the Chief of the GEF Coordination Division in UNEP
stated: "This is a unique project in the history of the GEF and will
benefit greatly from the experience gained by the implementation of a
pilot biosafety capacity building project of $2.5 million, involving
18 countries, which is also financed by the GEF and successfully
implemented by UNEP. It will also build synergy with the
implementation of eight on-going national biosafety demonstration
projects, worth $ 4.5 million, aimed at implementing already existing
National Biosafety Frameworks".
Note to journalists: The project is being implemented by UNEP as one
of the three Implementing Agencies of the Global Environment
Facility. The GEF was established in 1991 as a partnership between
the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations
Development Programme and the World Bank Group. Under its GEF
activities, UNEP is working in more than 144 countries The Biosafety
Protocol seeks to ensure the safe transfer, handling and use of
Living Modified Organisms that may have adverse effects on the
conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also
into account risks to human health. The United Nations Environment
Programme is providing the secretariat of the Protocol as well as the
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity located in
India: Nath Seeds Ties Up With Chinese Firm For Transgenic Tech
- The Economic Times, Dec 26, 2001
NATH Seeds has forged a strategic alliance with the Biocentury
Transgene (China) Company, a Chinese biotechnology company, to
introduce transgenic technology in cotton crop in India. The tie-up
aims at significantly reducing the cost of cotton production for the
farmer, his dependence on pesticides and improving cotton yields,
company officials said at a press conference on Friday.
Biocentury has patented technology for Bt and Bt+ genes developed by
the Biotechnology Research Institute (BRI) of the Chinese Academy of
Agricultural Sciences. Nath Seeds has the license for the exclusive
use of Chinese Bt+ genes in India. The gene will be incorporated into
the parent lines of cotton hybrids bred by Nath Seeds for the Indian
market once genetically modified crops are allowed in India. With
this alliance, Nath Seeds hopes to compete in the area of transgenic
technology for seeds, which is currently a monopoly of multinations
such as Monsanto, Novartis, and Dupont, officials said.
On whether equity participation from the Chinese company would be
considered, Nandkishor Kagliwal, Chairman of Nath Seeds, said the
company was open to this at a future date. The alliance covers
cotton, paddy, vegetables (cabbage and tomatoes) and maize. Nath
Seeds is looking for similar alliances in the areas of nutrition
enhancement and drought resistance, Mr Kagliwal said, adding that
discussions with prospective partners had already begun.
Through this technology, the company plans to boost the top and
bottomline of Nath Seeds as it has the right to sub-license Bt to
other seed companies, besides using Bt gene in its own hybrids. Nath
Seeds expects its bottom line to grow by Rs 25 crore ($7 m) and
topline to grow by Rs 35 crore ($10 M) in the first year of operation
respectively, assuming a 20 per cent market share. The first
commercial sale is expected in 2004.
It is estimated that about Rs 1,100 crore ($300 million) worth of
chemical pesticides are used for the control of cotton boll worm in
India. However, the cotton boll worm has developed resistance against
most of the conventional pesticides. According to Dr. Guo, Director
of BRI, an estimated 10 per cent of world cotton were of the
Biotech Soybeans Benefit Environment
- Bart Ruth , Omaha World Herald. Jan 16, 2002; The writer, who
farms near Rising City, Neb., is president of the American Soybean
It has been said that farmers are the original environmentalists.
Today, new agricultural tools such as biotechnology are allowing
farmers to continue their legacy of preserving and protecting the
environment. In the last five years, thanks primarily to improved
weed control through herbicide-tolerant soybeans, we have more than
doubled the amount of soybean acres in conservation tillage.
Instead of plowing and disking our fields, we are leaving a blanket
of leaves, stems and stalks from each previous crop on the surface of
our fields. This protective layer of crop mulch minimizes chemical
runoff and soil erosion, conserves fuel and benefits wildlife.
As a farmer who grows 750 acres of reduced-tillage soybeans, I've
observed firsthand a reduction in fuel consumption and a return of
birds and other wildlife to my fields. Studies also show that
conservation tillage results in improved water quality in lakes,
streams and rivers and reduced emissions of greenhouse gases.
A new survey by the American Soybean Association proves what many
farmers already know - biotech soybeans are driving reduced tillage
practices. According to the survey results, 63 percent of growers say
the advent of herbicide-tolerant soybeans was the one development
that enabled them to reduce or eliminate tillage on their fields.
The main reason farmers would till their soil was to plow under weeds
and weed seeds. We applied herbicides to the soil to prevent weeds
from coming back. With the new Roundup Ready soybeans, we can apply
herbicide over the top of our soybeans and get rid of weeds without
harming the plants. Instead of applying multiple herbicides in
multiple passes across the field, we are usually able to make a
single application that contains Roundup herbicide.
A study by the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy has
shown that soybean growers are making 19 million fewer herbicide
applications per year than in 1995, before herbicide-tolerant
soybeans were available.
Reduced-tillage practices also eliminate the need for a half-dozen or
more trips over the field with farm equipment. According to the ASA
survey, 45 percent of soybean growers are making zero tillage passes
over their field. It is estimated by the Conservation Technology
Information Center that these reduced passes conserve nearly 3.5
gallons of fuel per acre or 1,750 gallons on a 500-acre farm.
Reduced-tillage practices also benefit wildlife. Leaving organic
matter on fields provides nourishment and cover for pheasants, quail
and other animals. And when soil is undisturbed, the number of
earthworms increases dramatically, creating healthier roots and
plants. Most important, precious topsoil remains in the field instead
of washing off into streams, forming sediment that could harm fish
and aquatic plants and create additional work for water treatment
These benefits explain why farmers who were surveyed told the ASA
that 49 percent of their soybean acres are no longer tilled at all.
An additional 34 percent of soybean acres are managed with a
reduced-tillage system. Only 17 percent of soybean acres are still
managed the old-fashioned way, with farmers plowing and disking
Since the introduction of Roundup Ready soybeans five years ago,
growers have moved to these crops in a major way. Biotech soybeans
currently make up 68 percent of total soybean acres, according to the
U.S. Department of Agriculture, or about 74 percent according to the
ASA survey. Nebraska is among the leading states, with 76 percent of
acres planted in herbicide-tolerant varieties, according to USDA.
We can only expect more growers to adopt the technology and improved
tillage practices as they realize they can do better for the
environment while improving their bottom line.
Underinvestment Is Major Block on South's Biotech
- AgBiotechNet, http://www.agbiotechnet.com/news/database/guestnews.asp
There is comparatively little investment in biotech for Southern
agriculture and without very substantial increases in those
investments, Southern benefits will remain miniscule. This is the
view of agricultural economist Philip Pardey. Pardey is the editor of
a new book "The Future of Food" - Biotechnology Markets and Policies
in an International Setting" published by the International Food
Policy Research Institute. Pardey has just left IFPRI for the
University of Minnesota.
"Cold fusion didn't work as an idea in physics and so too will there
be little biotech for Southern agriculture without investing in it!,"
reasons Pardey. "Much of this investment will need to be public (as
many of the markets for food staples are not especially attractive to
the private sector for a host of reasons that will take time to fix),
he says. "Public funds and other incentives may be used to more
effectively mobilize private R&D in new and creative ways with the
Pardey believes that intellectual property rights are likely to
become more of an issue for the South as the jurisdiction of it
extends, but currently it is not a constraining factor.
"Economic analyses often focus on the tradeoffs involved in any
policy choices and the size and incidence of the costs and benefits
arising from technical changes," says Pardey. "Usually it is the size
and distribution of the benefits and the costs that lie at the heart
of peoples views on the desirability or not of a new technology."
In a chapter of the book, Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Marc J. Cohen
note the different perspectives of citizens in developed countries of
the risks and benefits of GM technology. "The biggest threat is that
low-income countries will have to adopt policies and standards
appropriate only for high income country situations, " they say.
Decisions in poor countries are often made by the nonpoor, and
developed country research usually focuses on problems primarily of
importance in rich countries. Concerns about access to developed
country markets may also affect decisions by developing countries.
"Modern biotechnology is not a silver bullet for achieving food
security. But used in conjunction with traditional knowledge and
conventional agricultural methods, it may be a powerful tool in the
fight against poverty," they conclude.
Contact: Philip Pardey, Dept of Applied Economics, Univ of Minnesota
Veneman Says Precautionary Principle "Not Objective"
- AgBiotechNet, http://www.agbiotechnet.com/news/database/guestnews.asp
The precautionary principle underlying risk assessment in Europe "is
not based on any objective standard" said US Agriculture Secretary
Ann Veneman at the 66th Annual Oxford Farming Conference, and "could
easily block some of the most promising new agricultural products".
"Over the longer term, it could deny the benefits of new technology
to developing countries and stymie progress in our efforts to feed a
growing global population and eradicate age-old diseases."
She noted that the World Trade Organization had agreed in 1994 the
WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary or SPS Agreement. "The SPS Agreement
establishes clear rules that allow governments ample flexibility to
fulfil their central role of protecting health and safety of the
public and the agriculture industry, while at the same time
preventing the abuse of SPS measures for protectionist ends."
"Farmers, policy makers and consumers everywhere have a vital stake
in ensuring not only a safe food supply but also maintaining
confidence in regulatory systems and ensuring consistent standards
based on the best available science. Use of standards not based in
sound science carries the serious risk of confusing consumers and
eroding public confidence in the food system.
"Britain has been our staunchest ally in the war on terrorism,
standing shoulder to shoulder with us, evidence of the strong
historical ties that bind us. Market access, trade expansion and
trade reform are also critical goals in which we have a common
interest. They are critical goals for global trade and economic
growth, for helping the developing world reduce poverty and hunger,
and for the long term, viability and strength of British, American
and European agriculture," she concluded.
From: Alex Avery
Re: Barry Commoner
Barry Commoner been riding the eco-wave for years. Pretty wacky guy
and it doesn't seem to me too hard to make scientific mincemeat out
of him. He's got no more credentials to analyze biotech or GM
technology safety than Ho or Shiva or any of the other Hacks. He
gets into Harpers because he has a Ph.D before his name and has
written more than a dozen environmental books.
From: Francis Wevers
Subject: Re: Let's NOT leave science to the scientists
Adrian Picot should make sure he compares apples with apples. But
then again, if you want to stifle debate, discussion and finally
understanding, there's no better tactic than attacking your opponent
on specious grounds.
The only fascism in the GM debate comes from those who shelter behind
fundamentalist slogans which accuse biotechnology of almost every
crime ever known. Those same people deny the opportunity of others
to develop solutions to many of the most pressing problems facing a
growing population and reducing land for food production. The only
fascism comes from people who would solve perceived population
problems by reducing the world's population - through lack of ability
to apply scientific knowledge to the problems of hunger and health.
Who is denying the right of minorities to choose to eat organic food?
No-one. Organic food production will, in future, benefit from new
cultivars developed using GM technology. What we do deny is the
attempts of anti-GM fundamentalists to impose their Talebanic
rigidities on the rest of us.
- Francis Wevers, Life Sciences Network, New Zealand
>From: "Adrian Picot"
>Subject: Let's NOT leave science to the scientists.
>Science has certainly changed since my graduate days. Then
>intellectual dissent was permitted, even encouraged. Now it seems
>that anyone who disagrees with Big Science is a Luddite, Terrorist
From: Theresa Klein" |
Reply to Adrian Picot.
If Mr. Picot is so concerned about the stifling of dissent, I wonder
how he feels about the treatment of individuals like Bjorn Lomborg,
who dared question environmentalist orthodoxy. Or, for that matter,
the many scientists who have had their research vandalized and
destroyed or whom have received death threats because of their
support of genetic engineering. Apparently, criticizing anti-GE
scientists is supressing dissent, but bombing GE laboratories is
freedom of expression.
Sincerely, Theresa Klein
From: "Alex Avery"
Adrian, there is only one side of the ag biotech debate that is
demanding totalitarian actions--your side. I am a very outspoken
proponent of ag biotech, but I have never once argued that organic
farming should be banned. Your side continually argues ag biotech
should be banned. That's fascism.
Our side hasn't forced ag biotech anywhere. Our side waits patiently
while the EU dithers, India dithers, New Zealand dithers. We're
willing to work within democratic institutions and civil society,
peacefully. Your side destroys, burns, tramples, and vandalizes--all
highly illegal and violent actions that are the hallmark of
totalitarianism and fascist regimes.
Most on Agbioview agree with you that you have the right to choose
untampered food, even organic food, if you want. We both live in free
democracies and I'll defend your "right" to that freedom of
commercial choice. But apparently you also believe you have the
"right" to veto GM technology without even cursory evidence of
environmental or human health harm. THAT is fascism. We--that is
those of us who support ag biotech--believe that organic and ag
biotech can peacefully coexist. In stark contrast, your side wants to
impose its narrow extremist ideology on the rest of us.
But now to the substance of your post: please enlighten us all as to
the "scientific case against GM technology" and please give me five
examples of the "many of the best and brightest of the last 50 years
of science" who are against biotechnology. Agbioview has put its
money where its mouth is and has a huge list of scientists that have
signed on to the declaration in support of ag biotech. Where is your
- Alex Avery, Hudson Institute
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ISPMB 2003- International Society of Plant Molecular Biology - 7th
Barcelona, Spain. June 16-21, 2003. Details at
Clueless In San Diego: The Antibiotechnology Crowd is Afraid of the
Truth, and for Good Reason
- Alex Avery, American Spectator
In what was supposed to be a huge gathering of the common man against
big, bad, multinational, biotechnology corporations bent on taking
over the world's food system, several large biotech companies held
their annual meeting in San Diego, California, this past June.
Antibiotech activists held a counter-conference to spoil the party.
Predictions were that four to eight thousand demonstrators would fill
the streets in raucous protest ŕ la Seattle, Montreal, and Genoa,
where hodgepodges of protesters assembled to demonstrate against
technology and globalization. In preparation, the city of San Diego
spent nearly $3 million training police in crowd and riot control.
The predictions were way off. Barely one hundred activists showed up
for the first two days of the protest meeting. Even the
much-publicized street demonstration held on the opening day of the
biotech industry's conference failed to attract more than a few
hundred people-many of whom were just spectators, regular San Diegans
out for a Sunday afternoon stroll along the waterfront. They were
understandably attracted to the scene by the noise of hippie drum
circles and the sight of colorful costumes, large street puppets, and
a huge banner that read "Biotech Perverts Keep Your Hands Off My
Read Full article at
Petition to Demand that Jose Bove Serve his Full Sentence!
To: French Government
Wherease terrorist Jose Bove has, once again, been convicted of
criminal acts including property destruction and vandalism, we demand
that he serve his full eight month -- while certainly not sufficient
-- jail sentence.
If the French won't enforce their laws and keep Bove in prison, they
should revoke his passport to prevent him from spreading his violence
and destruction as he did in launching the riots and destruction in
Seattle during last year's WTO conference.
José Bové is a veteran activist and promoter of violence who poses as
a French farmer. His most recent caper involved the destruction of a
field trial of biotechnology-improved rice at a test laboratory near
Montpellier, in southern France. He had previously been found guilty
of the demolition of a half-built McDonalds in Millau.
During his trial he threatened that a guilty verdict would bring even
more violence. "It would astonish me greatly if the judge dares to
order us to be arrested after the trial," he said. "If so, the state
would be making a great mistake, triggering an unprecedented
situation. . ."
Bové claims to be a "family farmer" but how he finds the time to
"farm" with all his international travel and activism is beyond any
reasonable person's comprehension. He grew up in Berkeley, California
where his scientist parents were 'studying' at the University of
California for seven years during the Sixties. Not exactly a family
farm history. In fact, France's Elle Magazine, noted Bové as "the man
who fooled us most, who perpetuated fraud" in 1999 by pretending to
be a farmer. (Dec. 20, 1999 issue).
In 1968, Bové moved back to France and at the age of 19 started his
career as a professional activist protesting against the French
military. According to Time Magazine (December 6, 1999), Bové refused
to perform his military service and dropped out of university to
immerse himself in various leftist political and ecological
movements. In 1975, Bové moved to Larzac, France with a group of
like-minded activists as part of the French "Flower Power" movement
to start a farming commune. This commune raised sheep and produced
Roquefort cheese (the type he smuggled into the US and illegally
distributed in Seattle to protest world trade) with government
subsidies. However, Bové was never a full-time farmer; rather, he
spent his time working with a local peasant movement organizing
against the planned extension of an army base in southern France.
Arrested for "invading" the base during a 1976 protest, Bové spent
three weeks in prison.
Following his prison time, Bové attended 'direct action' training
camp in Libya sponsored by dictator Muammar Quadafi. After this
training, in 1987 Bové founded the radical Confederation Paysanne, a
leftist peasant farmers union, and began launching targeted commando
actions against the government in support of increased socialism and
French peasant-style subsistence agriculture.
In Feburary 1988 he was one of the leaders who organized a protest
called "Plowing the Champs Elysees" in Paris against the European
set-aside policies. In September 1990 he led protests and hunger
strikes demanding more government subsidies for sheep farmers (he
must have needed more money to fund his political programs, and was
unable to sustain them from his group's unsustainable Roquefort farm).
In September 1991, he picketed the airport of Lazac and prevented
French Prime Minister Jospin's plane from landing. In August 1995, he
joined Greenpeace on the Rainbow Warrior to protest nuclear trials.
Also, in 1995, Bové led protests in France destroying property and
attacking French government offices smashing windows, setting fires
and charging local police office gates with tractors.
In 1997, Bové began mounting his protests against biotechnology
crops. Since that time he has been implicated in the destruction of a
Novartis seed production facility and the greenhouses of a public
research center. Bové and his group are also credited with hijacking
shipments of biotechnology-grown corn. Bové spent another three weeks
in prison in 1999 after he lead activists in the destruction of a
McDonalds in Normandy.
Bové is now the darling of the organic and anti-biotechnology
movement. In Seattle he was hosted by Ralph Nader's organization at a
rally, conveniently held in front of a local McDonalds. The McDonalds
was, of course, vandalized. Bové has also been the guest of
anti-technology, organic farming advocate Mark Ritchie and his IATP
group. During the WTO meeting in Seattle, a US farm group sent Nader
a letter asking that he disavow the violence started by Bové and
cease sponsoring street rallies in front of such targets as
McDonalds. (Nader never responded.) Bové supports government control
of agriculture, high subsidies and tariff barriers to protect his
form of agriculture and has called for the creation of an independent
world court protect this system.
Well, the French courts have justly seen fit to send him to jail.
There he should go (and stay) and serve his full term.