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Date:

March 10, 2002

Subject:

Scientists Reject Claims; FDA's New Top Brass is AgBiotech Expert

 

Today in AgBioView - March 8, 2002

* Scientists Reject Mexican Maize Claims
* AgBiotech Expert Appointed to Top Position at FDA
* FDA vs. New Foods
* Attitudes To GM See UK Miss Out
* Hypoallergenic Peanut May Be On The Horizon: USDA
* On "Environmental Effects of Transgenic Plants" and Fears of DNA
Pollution in Mexico
* The Environment, Natural Resources, and Modern Technology
* African Scientific Network
* Genetically Altered Traits in Crop/Food Products and Ingredients
* A Few Notable Quotes on Agricultural Biotechnology

Scientists Reject Mexican Maize Claims

- Andrew Apel, AgBiotech Reporter, http://www.bioreporter.com

A paper published in November last year in the science magazine
Nature claiming that GM maize had interbred with native varieties of
Mexican maize has sparked an uproar around the world and imperiled
agricultural trade between Mexico and the US. It now appears that the
paper, written by David Quist and Ignacio Chapela, is so deeply
flawed that it is virtually meaningless, and the science magazine
which published it is suffering increasing embarrassment at the hands
of critical scientists. The authors of the paper used tests prone to
false positives to identify gene fragments "associated with"
transgenes found in GM maize. However, these fragments are also found
in common microbes and it is now generally agreed that the tests
themselves, rather than Mexican maize, was "contaminated."

Chapela is a professor of mycology at the University of California
(Berkeley) and Quist, also at Berkeley, is pursuing a doctorate in
environmental studies. Both are outspoken critics of GM crops, first
coming to notice late in 1998 through their opposition to an
agreement between Berkeley and the Novartis Agricultural Discovery
Institute in the area of plant biology. A series of attacks on
experimental crops at Berkeley began later that year, and Quist was
suspected of taking part in one of them. The allegations were never
proved.

In October and November of 2000, Quist and Chapela trekked to the
Sierra Norte de Oaxaca in Southern Mexico for the purpose of
detecting transgenes, where they sampled whole cobs of native maize
from four standing fields in two locations.

The two say they first detected the transgenic DNA in October 2000
while working with the Mycological Facility in Oaxaca, where Ignacio
Chapela serves as the scientific director. Though Quist and Chapela
claim this work is the basis of their article in Nature, the work was
duplicated at Berkeley "to double-check the findings." According to
Klaus Ammann, noted scientist and director of the Berne Botanical
Garden, Chapela also had the maize tested by Urs Pauli of the Swiss
Ministry of Health in March 2001. When the tests were complete, Pauli
advised Chapela that the PCR tests he requested, designed to detect
the 35S cauliflower mosaic virus promoter, are prone to false
positives.

Nonetheless, authorities with Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Ecologia
(INE) and the Instituto Politecnico Nacional (INP) were notified the
following May that unnamed investigators with the Union
Zapoteco-Chinanteca (UZACHI) and the University of California in
Berkeley had detected transgenes in the native maize of Oaxaca.

The role the UZACHI played in the findings is as remarkable as it is
unusual. The group, said to represent Mexican farmers, has close ties
with Francisco Chapela, Ignacio Chapela's brother, who has an
agricultural consulting business. This consulting business often
shares the same telephone and postal address as the Mycological
Facility in Oaxaca and through this consulting business, Francisco is
interested in starting up a non-GM certification business.

To verify the UZACHI's claims, Mexico's Secretary of Environment and
Natural Resources (Secretar╠a de Medio Ambiente, Recursos Naturales y
Pesca, or SEMARNAP) ordered further tests. It later reported that the
"contamination" of native strains of maize had been reported by
Ignacio Chapela and confirmed. However, those tests merely duplicated
those carried out by Chapela, the tests prone to false positives.

After this announcement, Greenpeace joined the UZACHI in warning that
transgenes had crossed into native Mexican maize. The Amsterdam-based
group demanded that the Mexican government "develop an emergency
plan," including "de-contamination" of Mexican maize, a halt on the
import of transgenic maize, and legal action against companies
responsible for "transgenetic organisms." This had little effect.
However, a scientific paper was in the works.

On November 29, 2001, Greenpeace and the University of California
both issued press releases calling attention to a paper published on
the same date in Nature purporting to prove the presence of
transgenes in native strains of Mexican maize. The paper, authored by
Quist and Chapela, detailed the tests which led them to conclude
"that there is a high level of gene flow from industrially produced
[GM] maize towards populations of progenitor landraces." With that
paper, the activists finally got the attention they had been seeking.

One week later, the Mexican Congress unanimously demanded that
President Vincente Fox ban the import of GM maize. Fox declined to
take that step, and the Mexican government ordered a new round of
tests, the results of which are still pending.

Activist groups increased their pressure, presenting a petition
before the Mexico's Federal Attorney for Protection of the
Environment, (PROFEPA) over the alleged transgenic maize. They
claimed a failure to comply with several articles on the Convention
on Biological Diversity, national environmental law, and the Vienna
Convention on Treaties. They also demanded a ban on the import of GM
maize. The petition was presented by the National Farmer's
Association of Commercial Enterprises (ANEC), Greenpeace, the
Environmental Studies Group (GEA), the Center for Study of Change in
the Mexican Countryside (CECCAM), the National Union of Regional
Organizations (UNORCA) and Alejandro Nadal, an investigator with the
College of Mexico. With the possible exception of Greenpeace, it
appears that all of the petitioning activist groups are subsidized by
public funds: sources include the US and Dutch governments, the
United Nations and the European Union.

Early in December 2001, scientists began submitting rebuttals of the
Nature article to the magazine, and its editors responded by imposing
a "blackout" on the scientists. This prevented the scientists from
commenting publicly on their conclusions, namely, that the tests
performed by Quist and Chapela were flawed to the point of
uselessness. It also prevented them from speaking out against the
activists who exploited the article mercilessly. Some Mexican farmers
feared they would be prosecuted if their maize was found
"contaminated," or that the government would order their crops
burned. According to one report, "contaminated" maize was growing
everywhere in Mexico, and that it was so aggressive that it even grew
in concrete.

On the first of this year the International Maize and Wheat
Improvement Center (CIMMYT) reported that it had been unable to find
transgenes anywhere in Mexico, neither in its extensive seedbank nor
in samples newly collected from the field. Significantly, their tests
were designed to detect the 35S promoter from the cauliflower mosaic
virus-the same gene that Quist and Chapela claimed was widely present
in Mexican maize. This lent credence to growing concerns that the
Quist and Chapela findings were merely false positives. The report
was ignored by the mainstream press and more activist groups joined
the fray, some of them insisting that the CIMMYT seedbank itself was
"contaminated."

In the midst of the uproar, the scientific community remained largely
silent, with the exception of the staff of the journal Transgenic
Research. It published a scathing editorial dismissing the claims of
Quist and Chapela and expressing surprise "that a manuscript with so
many fundamental flaws was published in a scientific journal [Nature]
that normally has very stringent criteria for accepting manuscripts
for publication." The editorial also noted that members of the
editorial board of Transgenic Research and "a number of other
scientists with many decades of experience in the area of
transgenics, have provided comments that indeed demonstrate that the
data presented in the published article are mere artifacts resulting
from poor experimental design and practices."

In response, 89 activist groups and individuals collectively accused
scientists critical of Chapela's research of "academic intimidation"
and "a highly unethical mud-slinging campaign."

This provoked tremendous response from scientists around the world,
who denounced the claims of activists as "absurd," "annoying and
insulting," and as using "flawed data and bad science to push an
agenda forward." Nature also came increasingly under fire. "I find it
outrageous that Nature refuses to discuss the scientific basis of the
controversy," said Klaus Ammann. "Has Nature become a boulevard
science journal altogether?"

A clear consensus is emerging among plant molecular biologists that
the article by Quist and Chapela is inconclusive. Some have even
suggested that the authors may have intentionally used testing
procedures prone to false positives.

At the same time, a clear consensus is emerging that transgenes will
eventually be found in native varieties of Mexican maize and that,
contrary to Chapela's claims that "[t]he probability is high that
diversity is going to be crowded out by these genetic bullies,"
diversity will be unhurt by their presence. But that is another
fiasco, for another day.

Compiled from sources too numerous to mention, but with special
thanks to the contributors to AgBioView.

**********************************************

AgBiotech Expert Appointed to Top Position at FDA

I congratulate Dr. Les Crawford who has recently been named FDA
Deputy Commissioner and will be running the agency until a new head
is named.

See below for the press release from HHS .

I had the pleasure of working with Les on many occasions and proud of
his new appointment.

- Prakash

***************

Lester M. Crawford Jr. Named FDA Deputy Commissioner

http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2002pres/20020225.html

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today named Lester M. Crawford Jr.,
D.V.M., Ph.D., to serve as deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug
Administration. Dr. Crawford begins in the position immediately.

As deputy commissioner, Dr. Crawford will be the senior official at
FDA, pending the installment of a permanent commissioner of food and
drugs.

"Lester Crawford has devoted his career to promoting safer products
for the public, and he brings to the FDA valuable experience and
leadership skills," Secretary Thompson said. "With his help, the FDA
will continue to build on its successes in ensuring the safety of
foods, drugs and medical products for all Americans."

Dr. Crawford takes over from Bernard A. Schwetz, D.V.M., Ph.D., a
career FDA executive who has served as acting principal deputy
commissioner since Jan. 21, 2001. Dr. Schwetz, senior advisor for
science, will continue to work on public health and FDA issues within
the agency.

"Dr. Bern Schwetz has led the FDA during a challenging year, when the
nation faced its first bioterrorism attack," Secretary Thompson said.
"Forward-looking actions by FDA, like early and rapid approval of
effective drugs against anthrax, played a crucial role in saving
lives. I thank Bern for his service over the past year."

Dr. Crawford most recently served as head of the Center for Food and
Nutrition Policy at Virginia Tech. He also served as administrator of
the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection
Service from 1987 to 1991 and as director of the FDA's Center for
Veterinary Medicine from 1978 to 1980, and again from 1982 to 1985.

He received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Auburn University in
1963 and a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Georgia in
1969. During his career, he has also served as executive director of
the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, executive
vice president of the National Food Processors Association, as
chairman of the University of Georgia's Department of
Physiology-Pharmacology and as a practicing veterinarian.

With a budget of nearly $1.6 billion and more than 9,000 employees,
FDA assures that food is safe, wholesome and properly labeled; that
pharmaceuticals, biological products such as blood and vaccines, and
medical devices are safe, effective and properly labeled. FDA is the
nation's oldest and foremost consumer protection agency. Its mission
is to promote and protect the public health by helping to ensure that
safe and effective products reach the market in a timely way, and by
monitoring products for continued safety after they are in use.

*************

FDA vs. New Foods

- Dr. Henry I. Miller, Health Facts and Fears, March 5, 2002
http://healthfactsandfears.com/high_priorities/safe/2002/newfoods030502.html

After months of wrangling with Senate Democrats over a nominee for
head of the FDA, the Bush administration has appointed an academic, a
former federal regulator, to the number two job. Veterinarian Lester
Crawford will run the agency as deputy commissioner until a permanent
head is nominated and confirmed.

Crawford's previous experience at FDA (as chief of the Center for
Veterinary Medicine) and expertise on food issues (as head of USDA's
Food Safety and Inspection Service) will be useful. The FDA center
that regulates food safety, currently directed by a lawyer reputed to
be a bureaucrat's bureaucrat, is sorely in need of better
priority-setting and a more prominent role for science in
decision-making. For instance:

-A conspicuous example of these problems is a regulation proposed
earlier this year that would require the pre-market review for foods
prepared with very precise and predictable gene-splicing techniques -
but for virtually no other foods. The FDA asks for nine categories of
obligatory information whose level of detail is far greater than
would be required (or could possibly be met) for food products made
with less precise, less sophisticated techniques. Consider, for
example, Triticum agropyrotriticum, a man-made "species" constructed
decades ago by combining genes from bread wheat and a grass called
quackgrass or couchgrass. Possessing all the chromosomes of wheat and
one extra whole genome from the quackgrass - thereby adding tens of
thousands of genes - T. agropyrotriticum was independently produced
in the former Soviet Union, Canada, United States, France, Germany,
and China, and is grown for both forage and grain. But these new
genetic constructions are exempt from regulation, while under the
FDA's new policy the addition of a single quackgrass gene to wheat
with gene-splicing techniques would require an extensive (and hugely
expensive) pre-market review.

The FDA's new, nonsensical approach to biotech foods is tantamount to
regulators singling out cars with disk brakes, seat belts, and radial
tires for a punitive tax - and then imposing a lower speed limit on
them.

-Another targeted food is olestra, a cooking oil that is not absorbed
from the gastrointestinal tract, and which has been a resounding
success as a fat substitute used in chips, crackers, and other snack
foods. Since olestra was approved in 1996, Americans have bought more
than 3 billion servings of snacks cooked with it. If they had eaten
regular, full-fat chips instead, they would have consumed an
additional 245 billion calories and 36,000 tons of fat. However, the
FDA has declined even to consider applications for wider approval,
although olestra is uniquely versatile in that it can be used instead
of margarine, lard, butter, and other oils in frying, baking, and
sauteing.

As quickly as possible, consumers should be allowed access to a
broader spectrum of olestra-containing foods. Widespread use of
olestra could enable more Americans to adhere to the American Heart
Association's recommendation to consume less than 30 per cent of
total calories from fat. Olestra in our diets could be as great a
boon to public health as the recognition that lowering blood pressure
reduces heart disease and stroke.

-The FDA tests tens of thousands of domestic and imported foods
annually for pesticide residues, although relatively few are positive
and only a minuscule fraction exceeds the EPA-imposed (and overly
conservative) limits. Contrary to popular mythology, there is no
evidence that pesticides in or on food have been responsible for any
cases of cancer or other diseases in American children or adults.
Even if the FDA were to discontinue such testing (which costs tens of
millions of dollars annually), America's food supply would remain the
safest in the world. And this would free up significant resources for
projects that Crawford and other experts deem to be of high priority.

-Finally, the FDA needs to close the regulatory loophole enjoyed by
the overly broad class of products called "food supplements," which
can be marketed without their manufacturers having to prove that they
are either safe or effective. Even those that are "natural" products,
such as herbs, can and do pose the same kinds of dangers as potent
drugs. Many of them have significant side effects and have been
responsible for severe illnesses and deaths.

As scientists at the New York-based American Council for Science and
Health have recommended, the FDA should at least hold dietary
supplements to the same labeling standards as food products -
accuracy and "materiality," or relevance - and any interference with
other medications or potential side-effects, such as toxicity or
birth defects, should be disclosed. (In order to accomplish this
completely, Congress might have to pass new legislation, but the FDA
could unilaterally effect some improvements immediately.)

While at the FDA, Les Crawford was a competent administrator and an
exceedingly nice guy but seldom willing to take risks or make waves.
Therefore, both FDA's stakeholders and Crawford's political masters
will need to apply pressure to ensure that science will not be
trampled by the FDA's bureaucratic tendencies. "Dogs bark, cows moo,
and regulators regulate," a former FDA commissioner once quipped. The
challenge for Crawford will be to get regulators to regulate
according to good science and good sense.

Dr. Miller is a fellow at the Hoover Institution, a Director of the
American Council on Science and Health, and author of To America's
Health: A Proposal to Reform the FDA. He was an official at the FDA
from 1979-1994.

**********************************************

Attitudes To GM See UK Miss Out

- Vic Robertson, The Scotsman, Mar 07, 2002

Politicians were accused of being "disingenuous" in their approach to
bio -technology regulation, an industry conference was told
yesterday. The end result was the potential loss of a valuable
industry, the export of many jobs and a missed opportunity of
improving the environment through reduced chemical spraying.

"The overall message is one of lost opportunities in Europe," said
Professor Michael Wilson, director of Horticulture Research
International. "The effect of the intensive and obstructive
regulations, which are scientifically and intellectually
disingenuous, is causing massive reductions in the amount of research
and development activity and new business development.

"Europe as a whole, and Britain in particular, is simply losing the
industry because it can go elsewhere, such as Brazil, Argentina,
China and now India. They are all moving into these new technologies
now that they have been proven and are regulated on a case-by-case
basis. "Like a rabbit in the headlights, we have all become so
paranoiac about it we seem to be sitting down waiting for the truck
to hit us."

Speaking at a Royal Agricultural College conference in Cirencester,
Gloucestershire, Wilson said this was borne out by the five-fold
reduction - from 250 a year to 50 - in European approvals for GM
field trials. The problems were compounded by the tendency of people
to put technologies in boxes, according to Simon Barber, director of
the European bio-technology trade association EuropeaBio. This
applied equally to those who promoted organic or intensive farming
systems, both of which had their own inherent flaws.

"Nature does not put anything in a box. It might be more accurate to
say it puts things in bags which are open," he said. "For example,
plants of the same species exchange genes so we can collect a bag of
genes with certain characteristics that we like, and I think we need
to consider farming in a similar way - with a holistic view of all
technologies.

"We don't seem to have a grand vision of the objectives we want to
achieve and what we want our agriculture to be. There are all sorts
of groups having a go at each other. What we have got is ideologies,
which are boxes of some sort, so we don't make any progress. "We, as
a species, are innovators. W hat we think is beautiful nature in the
countryside... is managed.

"We have to realise that GM is one tool - (but) not the only tool -
to help us," he added.

GM crops are subject to all kinds of examinations that
conventionally-bred varieties are not. This creates a negative image,
with science largely unheard as "spin-doctoring" takes charge. But
Barber remains confident a positive message is gradually getting
through at European parliament level, with some progress at EC and
state levels.

**********************************************

Hypoallergenic Peanut May Be On The Horizon: USDA

- Keith Mulvihill, Reuters Health, March 6, 2002 Via
http://www.checkbiotech.org/

NEW YORK - Scientists at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) are
working on developing a hypoallergenic peanut, they reported here
Tuesday at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology's
annual meeting.

Peanut allergies are one of the most common fatal or near-fatal food
allergies. In sensitive individuals, the nuts can trigger a
potentially life-threatening swelling of the lips and airways,
accompanied by a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Experts estimate
that 1% of the population is allergic to peanuts--about 3 million
people in the US.

Previous research has identified certain varieties of soy that
naturally lack a protein that triggers a reaction in people allergic
to the food, explained Dr. Soheila J. Maleki of the USDA in New
Orleans, Louisiana, during an interview with Reuters Health.

"We thought, why not look at the peanut and see if we can find
natural varieties that lack some or all of the protein-causing
allergens," she said. "Then we could use conventional cross-breeding
experiments to see if we can develop a plant that would produce a
hypoallergenic peanut--a peanut that does not cause an allergic
reaction."

There are seven proteins in peanuts that have been identified as key
triggers of allergic reactions. Two of the seven, called Ara h1 and
Ara h2, are believed to be the cause of 95% of allergic reactions in
people with the nut allergy. The other five proteins only cause
allergic reactions in about 50% of people with peanut allergies,
Maleki noted.

Maleki and her team have begun screening peanut plants for the
presence of Ara h1. To simplify the process--because there are over
14,000 different varieties of peanut plants in the US--the
investigators are examining 100 varieties from a larger group of 800
plants that are thought to be genetically representative of all
peanut plants.

Ideally, the researchers are hoping to find a peanut with high
protein and low- or zero-levels of the Ara h1 or Ara h2 allergen
proteins, Maleki told Reuters Health. "If we find one variety with
low levels of Ara h1 and we find another variety with low levels of
Ara h2, then we can crossbreed those and have a plant that naturally
has reduced levels," she said. Although the researchers' preliminary
efforts are going well, Maleki said it could be a few years before
they have an appropriately hypoallergenic peanut.

**********************************************

On "Environmental Effects of Transgenic Plants" and Fears of DNA
Pollution in Mexico

- Allan S. Felsot {afelsot@tricity.wsu.edu}

I received my official copy of the recently released National Academy
of Sciences NRC report, "Environmental Effects of Transgenic Plants".
You may have noticed the headlines interpreting the report as
excoriating the USDA APHIS for lack of proper regulatory oversight.
At the time, I had only read the executive summary, but immediately
ordered the whole book. The headlines belie what was noted in the
executive summary. However, my quick scan of the book and more
detailed read of the case study section on corn, indicates the the
Precautionary Principle has infected the NRC team that put this
report together. While the NRC team was praiseworthy of APHIS'
ability to learn and implement new knowledge in the regulatory
process as it is gained, it posed so many unanswered or unanswerable
questions that if we did have to answer everything before a
technology was released, then we would be sitting with our hands
under our asses shaking in the cold because fire was too dangerous to
implement.

However, I did find some interesting tidbits in the book. For
example, did anyone know (I'm sure some people knew) that Dr. Chapela
was a member of the committee that put together the report? I'm
surprised that piece of information was not touted to support his
credibility.

The book contains detailed case studies of specific regulatory
decisions, including the ones made for Bt corn events 176 and Cry9c.

In another chapter folks will find the following very revealing and
pertinent quotes.

P. 31: "In the past few decades the planting of new varieties of
maize in Mexico that require the tools of modern industrial
agriculture has rendered such fields inhospitable to several native
taxa, most notably teosinte, the progenitor of maize (Sanchez and
Ruiz Corral 1997, Wilkes 1997). This outcome would be considered
desirable relative to the goal of maximizing yields." (I presume that
Dr. Chapela, as a co-author of the report, agrees with this statement)

P. 33, but then we find an obverse conclusion: "As noted above, the
introduction of modern maize genotypes in Mexico that have replaced
traditional maize varieties require agronomic techniques that
displace teosinte, leading to increased risk of its extinction." (As
a risk communicator dabbler, note the semantics and use of the word
risk. If the likelihood is very low to begin with, then increased
risk is still a low likelihood.)

Most importantly, however, note that both quotations above show that
agronomic practices, not DNA per se, poses the most significant
selection pressure on native plants.

And to top off that theme, the committee concludes the section with a
summary paragraph containing very telling quotes (p. 33): "In
summary, the vast majority of crop genotype and species introductions
do not persist in the environment and cause environmental damage. A
minority causes hardship to humans, agronomic ecosystems, and/or
natural systems. The examples reviewed here indicate that general
information on the amount or origin of genetic material cannot, on
its own, be used to predict the risk associated with a new crop
genotype or introduced species. In this regard the committee's
findings support those of other scientists who have examined this
problem of predicting risk and concluded that risk assessment cannot
depend on general characteristics such as the amount of new genetic
information introduced but must focus on the ecology of the specific
introduced organism (or both the donor and recipient in the case of
transgenic organisms) and the characteristics of the accessible
environment into which the organism will be released (e.g., NRC 1987,
Tiedge et al. 1989, Scientists Working Group on Biosafety 1998). This
does not mean that each introduction requires an equally intensive
assessment."

"With information on the ecology of the organism and the environment
in hand, it is possible to quickly rule out some introductions as too
risky and to determine that others are unlikely to pose any risks."

Hooray for the power of human deduction!!

But I'm not finished. I've had way too much coffee this morning. I
came across an interesting article by Wang et al. in Nature (1999).
The paper is about the tb1 gene that controls inflorescence
morphology in corn/teosinte and is believed to be the genomic region
that has been selected for that has brought us where we are today.
What is fascinating is that the transcribed region of the gene for
maize and teosinte are nearly equal with respect to the degree of
genetic variation. However, the nontranscribed regulatory region of
the gene shows that maize cultivars (both from Mesoamerica and the
U.S.) are very poor in variation in comparison to teosintes. Indeed,
the authors conclude that it was artificial selection of this
"region" over a course of at least several hundred years that led to
fixing of the maize tb1 that set the subspecies on their merry ways.

So what does this have to do with fears of DNA pollution in Mexico?
If it is the regulatory region of one or a few genes that is the
focus of selection in this case, and the transcribed portion retains
all of its genomic variability, then why is it that some people are
worried about the loss of biodiversity should a Bt gene or promoter
DNA flow here and there. Without appropriate selection pressure, that
gene (or piece of DNA) would be irrelevant. The relevant question is
not genetic pollution, yes or no, but if a Bt gene did introgress
successfully into a native species/landrace, are there Lepidopteran
species that are major herbivores that affect the reproductive status
(i.e., population ecology) of the recipient plant. Where am I going
wrong with this line of thought??

- Allan S. Felsot, Professor & Extension Specialist,
Entomology/Environmental Toxicology Washington State University,
Richland, WA 99352

**********************************************

The Environment, Natural Resources, and Modern Technology

- New Book By Thomas R. DeGregori (available April 2002)

A springboard for environmental discussion for years to come. The
most controversial book you'll read this year!

This controversial author presents a new perspective on today's
environmental issues. Taking on those who hail the natural lifestyle
as the healthy, politically correct path, DeGregori examines the
economics of green consumerism, the reality of saving the
environment, how historical cultures may have influenced
environmental damage, and why being ecologically correct may have a
more damaging effect on our environment.

Not just a regurgitation of theories, The Environment, Natural
Resources, and Modern Technology offers practical alternatives and
realistic strategies to enhance our natural resources and environment
in harmony with today's modern technology.

This book should be required reading in classrooms teaching biology,
history, forestry, agriculture, natural resources, agricultural
engineering, ecology, and other natural sciences. Readers interested
in the environment, natural resources, and green consumerism will
find this book to be a great information source filled with fresh,
innovative perspectives.

About the Author: Thomas R. DeGregori, Ph.D., is a professor of
economics at the University of Houston, Texas, and author of numerous
scholarly books, articles, and reviews. His fields of expertise are
economic development; technology and science in economic development;
and African, Asian, and Caribbean economic development. Dr. DeGregori
has served on many editorial boards and boards of directors and is
currently on the Board of Directors of the American Council on
Science and Health. Dr. DeGregori is a popular speaker, lecturer, and
consultant both nationally and internationally.

Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0813808693/qid=1015435910/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_3/102-8855309-8324913

Barnes and Noble
http://shop.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=4DHV0443ML&mscssid=2PW0B7L36LXR8NU0LR8KS5XXB33Q047A&isbn=0813808693

Our Price: $54.99; Readers' Advantage Price: $52.24

**********************************************

African Scientific Network: http://www.afmrs.org

An organization of educators without borders: Empowering the African
Faculty and Students Empowering the African Faculty and Students
through information and collaboration -- Website of African
Universities - From: Abebe {gutaye@ncat.edu}

I just made links to most of African Universities that have websites.
Please let me know if your university is missed. Also, our next step
is to develop profiles or links to profiles of biotechnology programs
to make it easier for people to collaborate. If you wish to
participate, please let me know. What we need is the following

1. Summary of research capability; 2. Faculty profile (resume) or
expertise; . Summary of Graduate and Undergraduate programs; 4.
Student profile

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Agbiotech: Genetically Altered Traits in Crop/Food Products and Ingredients

Contact: Malika Rajan; Email: publisher@bccresearch.com Telephone:
(203) 853-4266; ext. 309 http://www.bccresearch.com/press

The potential benefits derived from agricultural biotechnology are
plentiful and sometimes staggering. In addition to feeding an
increasingly hungry world, agbiotech products can add nutritional
benefits, provide a new alternative to pharmaceutical deliveries and
become an important source of renewable resources. Although several
types of biotech crops have been developed, only three primary crops
have gained widespread market acceptance, and these are crops
developed for crop protection. Insect-resistant corn and cotton and
herbicide tolerant soybeans account for nearly 100% of the biotech
crops planted in the U.S. Of these, soybeans and cotton have gained
the largest market share.

According to a soon-to-be-released updated study from Business
Communications Company, Inc. (www.bccresearch.com) RGA-104R
Agbiotech: Genetically Altered Traits in Crop/Food Products and
Ingredients, the total market for altered crops, food products and
ingredients with genetically altered traits is estimated at $17
billion. Expected to grow an AAGR (average annual growth rate) of
3.8%, this market is likely to reach $20.5 billion by 2006.

Herbicide-tolerant soybeans have the largest market share with sales
of $11.67 billion in 2001. This growth is expected to continue, but
at a slower pace, since it has already penetrated the market to a
large extent. BCC forecasts that herbicide-tolerant soybeans will
grow at an AAGR of 2.9% achieving total sales of $13.47 billion by
2006.

Insect-resistant crops will continue to gain market share as well,
largely due to cotton. Corn sales may decline slightly each year due
to export and consumer concerns. But since cotton does not enter the
food chain and continues to rise in favor year after year, this
segment of the market will increase by about 4.1% per year on average
and reach sales of $4.69 billion by 2006.

Of the three primary biotech crops, stacked trait varieties will have
the highest growth rate. This is due to the fact that seed companies
are beginning to incorporate more stacked trait varieties in their
product lines, and farmers will have the benefits of herbicide
tolerance and insect resistance in one crop, or other beneficial
combinations. Biotech seed companies are working to provide the most
effective combinations of traits to attract more producers to these
products. BCC predicts that they will grow at an AAGR of 8.7% and
sales will reach $2.25 billion by 2006.

A few crops altered for desired characteristics are on the market
but they represent less than 1 % of the total acres planted for each
type of crop. These crops have been altered to express traits for
easier food processing. While these products have not gained market
share, they are still relatively new to the market and are expected
to have the largest growth in the next five years. BCC predicts that
food ingredients will enjoy a large average annual growth rate over
the next five years of 14.9%, achieving sales of nearly $0.04 billion
by 2006.

(Table Not Reproduced.....CSP)

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A Few Notable Quotes on Agricultural Biotechnology - Pro and Con

* Jeremy Rifkin: on the introduction of bioengineered plants "the
most radical, uncontrolled experiment we've ever seen." In Siobhan
Gorman, "Future Pharmers of America," National Journal (February 6,
1999) p. 355.

* Mae-Wan Ho: biotech crop plants are "worse than nuclear weapons or
radioactive wastes." In Pat Murphy, "The Raging Debate Over Biotech
Foods," Environmental News Network (March 5, 2000) available at
<http://www.enn.com/enn-features-archive/2000/03/03052000/gefood_5991.as
p>.

* Miguel Altieri: "Most innovations in agricultural biotechnology
have been profit-driven rather than need-driven. The real thrust of
the genetic engineering industry is not to make third world
agriculture more productive, but rather to generate profits" (Miguel
A. Altieri and Peter Rossett, "Ten Reasons Why Biotechnology Will Not
Ensure Food Security, Protect The Environment And Reduce Poverty In
The Developing World," AgBioForum, Vol. 2, Nos. 3-4 (Summer/Fall
1999), pp. 155-162).

* Accion Ecologica, Ecuador Institute of Science in Society, UK Grupo
de Reflexion Rural, Argentina "Monsanto GE Cotton Can Make Gonorrhea
Untreatable According to UK Gov." Source:
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Monsanto-Cotton-Gonorrhea.htm

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Raeburn: "Margaret Mellon, what about the risks of superweeds or
genes jumping to other kinds of crops? Have we seen that yet? Is
there really any scientific evidence that says that that's more than
a theoretical threat? "

Ms. Mellon: "Oh, it's--there's no question that genes are going to
jump from transgenic crops into the wild and weedy relatives that are
growing nearby. There is no question about that." Talk of the Nation
(NPR) Host Paul Raeburn 8/13/99
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* Union of Concerned Scientists's Jane Rissler. She explains, "rDNA
technology reduces the natural gene pool of the world, which will
ultimately cause more harm than good." Environmental Nutrition, April
1, 1999, No. 4, Vol. 22; Pg. 1; ISSN: 0893-4452, by Julie Walsh

* ''The monarch butterfly experiment is the smoking gun that will be
the beginning of the unraveling of the industry,'' says Jeremy
Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends. Business
Week, John Carey, 6/7/99 - "Imperiled Monarchs Alter the Biotech
Landscape"

"Ricetec Paddy Whack" November 23, 2000 Houston Press

Vandana Shiva, whom many describe as a "visionary, author, activist
and eco-feminist," appeared briefly at a protest staged at the Alvin,
Texas headquarters of RiceTec, Inc. to decry bio-piracy and the
patenting of life. Before leaving Alvin to prepare for a 7 p.m.
lecture in Houston titled WTO, Basmati Rice & the Stolen Harvest,
Shiva walked across the road and looked out into a shaggy field.
"They look unhappy," she said. "The rice plants. Ours at home look
very happy." "That," RiceTec reports, "is because it is not rice.
That's our test field, it was harvested in August. That is weeds."
http://www.plant.uoguelph.ca/safefood/archives/agnet/2000/11-2000/ag-11-24-00-01.txt

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Vandana Shiva at a press conference ''The tests prove that the US has
been using the Orissa victims as guinea pigs for GM products which
have been rejected by consumers in the North, especially Europe,''
she adds. http://www.atimes.com/ind-pak/BF13Df01.html

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Shiva Again: "There is FAO data showing how small farms based on
biodiversity can, at times, have 3000 percent, 3000 times more yields
of food, more total output of food." ........ "In Nigeria, the home
garden's cultivated by women on two percent of the land provide 50
percent of the nutrition." ........ "It is not true that either the
industrial monocultures of the green revolution or the 25 percent
increase that was claimed helped because all these technologies are
systems of destroying food production." Source:
http://www.agbioworld.org/biotech_info/articles/chcbriefing.html

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Cyrus Ndiritu, former director of the Kenyan Agricultural Research
Institute, argues that, "It is not the multinationals that have a
stranglehold on Africa. It is hunger, poverty and deprivation. And if
Africa is going to get out of that, it has got to embrace
[biotechnology]" (In Florence Wambugu, Modifying Africa (Nairobi,
Kenya: Florence Wambugu, 2001), p. 5).

* "A lot of their information is exaggerated, and they're using it to
scare people," says Raymond S.C. Wong, an associate professor of
Biochemistry at Hong Kong's University of Science and Technology

* "It goes to show how quickly people forget," Borlaug said. A more
recent example is the food shortages that were the rule across North
Africa, India and Pakistan in the early to middle 1960s. "The
situation was even worse in China, but we didn't hear about then
because it happened behind the curtain (of Communism)," Borlaug said.
http://www.agjournal.com/story.cfm?story_id=326

* Ex. Ag Secretary Dan Glickman (USA): "Biotechnology is a powerful
tool in ensuring global food security. The last fifty years are
replete with stories of revolutionary innovations that increased
productivity and helped fight hunger. The wheat gene Norin 10, for
example, helped developing countries like India and Pakistan increase
their wheat harvests by 60 percent. At the wheat research center in
Mexico that conducted some of the Norin 10 research, there is an
inscription on the wall that reads: "A single gene has saved 100
million lives."

* Ingo Potrykus to Greenpeace on Golden Rice: If you plan to destroy
test fields to prevent responsible testing and development of Golden
Rice for humanitarian purposes, you will be accused of contributing
to a crime against humanity. Your actions will be carefully
registered and you will, hopefully, have the opportunity to defend
your illegal and immoral actions in front of an international court.
http://www.biotech-info.net/2_IP_response.html