Today in AgBioView:
* UK: Soil Association suppresses report claiming organics in supermarkets are overpriced
* Debunking Green Myths - An environmentalist gets it right.
* "Franken Food"
* Dutch business petitions Parliament on biotech
* Largest Ever World Wide Project To Promote Biosafety Launched By UNEP
* Genetically Modified Organisms in Food and Agriculture: Where are we? Where are we going?
* UN launches project on genetically engineered food
UK: Soil Association suppresses report claiming organics in supermarkets are overpriced
21 Jan 2002
A report accusing the UK’s leading supermarket chains of overpricing organic goods has been suppressed by organic foods body the Soil Association, it was claimed this weekend.
The study, which was authored by Dr Anna Ross, senior economist with the University of the West of England, compared prices for organic goods in local farm shops and the leading retailers. The same basket of vegetables bought in a sample of farm shops were found to be 63% more expensive in market leader Tesco; 59% more expensive in Sainsbury's; and 38% more expensive in Waitrose.
Meanwhile, Ross found that organic meat cost on average 64% more in supermarkets than on local farmers' markets.
The study was due to be published in the Association's quarterly magazine, Living Earth, but director Patrick Holden admitted on Saturday that he ordered it withdrawn from the newsletter.
Holden told the Independent On Sunday that he was concerned that the study gave out the wrong message. He maintained that if supermarkets squeeze prices any further, farmers will see their profits fall unreasonably and many will risk bankruptcy.
Dr Ross however accuses the Soil Association of being “too busy trying not to upset the supermarkets” and encouraged consumers to shop elsewhere for better value organics.
Supermarket currently control 80% of the organic foods market in the UK, which grew by 33% last year to reach £802m (US$1.151bn).
Debunking Green Myths - An environmentalist gets it right.
By Ronald Bailey
The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World, by Bjorn Lomborg, New York: Cambridge University Press, 496 pages, $27.95
The publication of The Skeptical Environmentalist, a magnificent and important book by a former member of Greenpeace, deals a major blow to that ideology by superbly documenting a response to environmental doomsaying. The author, Bjorn Lomborg, is an associate professor of statistics at the University of Aarhus in Denmark. On a trip to the United States a few years ago, Lomborg picked up a copy of Wired that included an article about the late "doomslayer" Julian Simon.
Read full article at http://reason.com/0202/cr.rb.debunking.shtml <http://reason.com/0202/cr.rb.debunking.shtml>
From: Shunnosuke Abe
Thanks a lot for the AgBioNews every day.
I have an opinion that traditional bred products should be best to
call "Franken Food" because they made from just crossing and
reorganizing a macro basis: patch works of chromosome or individual
phenotype like organ (based upon only visible levels) without having
molecular details. This is really the same criterion in Frankenstein.
One also should be realized that the time when Frankenstein was born
is just the time the traditional way has been established.
We should appeal that Frankens Food is not the term for GM foods to
public, and we should claim that the term should be used for
All the best, Shunnosuke
Shunnosuke Abe, Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology, Faculty of
Agriculture, Ehime University, Matsuyama, Japan
From: "Adeline Farrelly"
Subject: Dutch business petitions Parliament on biotech
Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 12:48:22 +0100
Today, a wide array of the Dutch Business life presents a biotechnology petition to the Temporary Biotechnology Commission of the Dutch Parliament (the Terpstra Commission). Ms. Terpstra will accept the petition.
Today (January 21) and next week, the Dutch parliament will decide on the Biotechnology issue and business climate, discussing several Biotechnology memoranda on issues like Biotechnology and Food, Genomics etc.
This unprecedented business action has the objective to flag the importance of careful, but unambiguous stimulation of the Dutch business climate for biotechnology.
For more information, please contact
Jeroen van Seeters, Hill and Knowlton (on behalf of Niaba - the Dutch Biotech Association), +31-6290 44055 e-mail email@example.com or Ellen de Jong, Hill and Knowlton, +31-20-404 4707
EuropaBio - the European Association of bioindustries
Avenue de l'Armee 6
B-1040 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 739 1174 (Direct)
Tel: +32 2 735 0313
Fax: +32 2 735 4960
Largest Ever World Wide Project To Promote Biosafety Launched By UNEP
Abstract: World Wide Project To Promote Biosafety Launched By UNEP
The project will help up to 100 countries develop the scientific and legal skills for evaluating the health and environmental issues surrounding imports of Living Modified Organisms (LMOs).
(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 help 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 human resources 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 the 18 of 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 regions.
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 Montreal, Canada.
Genetically Modified Organisms in Food and Agriculture: Where are we? Where are we going?
Keynote Address –Conference on "Crop and Forest Biotechnology for the Future Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Falkenberg, Sweden 16 to 18 September 2001(ref.2396)
Louise O. Fresco, Assistant Director-General Agriculture Department Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a fact of modern agriculture, and are here to stay. GMOs are also a fact of public preoccupation and opinion, which politicians must take into account. FAO recognizes the great potential and the complications of these new technologies. We need to move carefully, with a full understanding of all the factors involved. In particular, we need to assess GMOs is terms of their impact on food security, poverty, biosafety, and the sustainability of agriculture. Will GMOs increase the amount of food in the world, and make more food accessible to the hungry? Clearly, GMOs should be seen not in isolation as technical achievements. Hence, I will discuss not the specifics of GMO technology, but the context in which they are developed and deployed, and about how public opinion and government policy on GMOs are formed.
The public in many countries distrusts GMOs. They are often seen in the context of globalization and of privatization and even as “antidemocratic” or “meddling with evolution”. There are as yet few perceived advantages for the public, because GMO applications to date have concentrated on reducing costs for producers without direct consumer benefits. In particular, it has been a tactical error of the industry to concentrate on pesticide-resistance as one of the earliest applications, as this has stimulated environmental concerns. The public often confuses the industry with the science. And consumers worry about risk, not about scientific freedom.
Scientists in both the private and public sectors clearly see genetic modification as a major new set of tools. They are also participants and spectators in a major shift of research from the public to the private sector, which will undoubtedly influence the future direction of research and research investment. As shareholders in the GMO debate, scientists must recognize that there is also a substantial public distrust of science.
Obviously, the industry looks at GMOs as opportunities for corporate profit yet, at the same time, recognises that public acceptance may be a stumbling block. In turn, governments often lack coherent policies in relation to GMOs, and have not yet developed and implemented adequate regulatory instruments and infrastructures. As a result, in most countries, there is no consensus on how biotechnology and GMOs in particular can focus on the key challenges of the food and agricultural sector. Governments need to be more proactive in addressing these questions and, in this, the role of scientists in public service will be crucial.
UN launches project on genetically engineered food
Times of India
JANUARY 19, 2002
NEW YORK: The UN Environment Programme has launched a multi-million dollar project to help developing countries assess the potential risks and rewards of genetically engineered crops.
The project, financed by the Global Environment Facility, will help up to 100 countries develop the scientific and legal skills for evaluating the health and environmental issues surrounding imports of Living Modified Organisms.
The three-year, 38.4 million dollar initiative is seen as a principal element in helping developing countries prepare for the entry into force of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety adopted in January 2000.
"Industry is convinced that genetically engineered crops are the key to boosting yields in a more environment friendly way, but others are concerned that the new technology may actually pose environmental as well as health risks," UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said.
"The Cartagena Protocol is an attempt to reconcile these trade and environmental protection issues," he said, adding the treaty established a procedure requiring countries that export LMOs to inform importing States so that the receiving nation can decide whether or not to accept the shipment.
The announcement was made as representatives from more than 46 countries gathered at UNEP's Nairobi headquarters to attend a three-day African Regional Workshop on Biosafety.