Today in AgBioView - July 26, 2002
* U.S. Expert Urges Zimbabwe To Drop Restrictions On Corn Imports To Avert
* Biotech Could Lead To Dramatic Green Revolution In Africa
* Are Organic Farms Reservoirs of Pests And Plant Diseases?
* Re: Fish Gene in Strawberry
* Another piece on the Oaxaca saga on the Mexican corn gene
* Lost In The Maize
* GM Papaya Research Team Receives Von Humboldt Award
* 21st Century PR: The War for Ideas and Ideals
* Food labels on Oregon ballot
* Petition For Altered Food Labels Gets On Ballot
* Golden Rice
* UK Farmer Speaks Up on Field Trials!
* The Future of Food And Nutrition With Biotechnology
U.S. Food Relief Expert Urges Zimbabwe To Drop Restrictions On Corn
Imports To Avert Famine
- Michael Hartnack, Associated Press, July 24 2002
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - An American food relief expert urged the
Zimbabwean government to drop restrictions on the import of corn that
could not be certified free of genetically modified material, saying the
food was the only way to avert starvation in the country.
The U.S. corn was safe, Roger Winter, a senior USAID official who visited
food relief distribution centers in northeastern Zimbabwe, said Tuesday.
"It is the same food that Americans eat every day. It is the same food
that has been approved by our Environmental Protection Agency," he said.
"We want to help in this food emergency but we don't have a substitute
(for the corn) and the volumes are not available anywhere else."
Aid agencies have warned that almost half the country faces starvation as
a famine looms, caused in part by President Robert Mugabe's conterversial
land redistribution program to transfer the country's white-owned farms to
landless blacks. The violence and chaos accompanying the seizures has
brought commercial agriculture to a standstill.
Erratic rainfall has also contributed to the food shortage. The U.S.
government has been outspoken in its criticism of the land seizures.
On Tuesday, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe accused western nations of
using aid to try and pressurize the government to change its policies.
"We certainly abhor sinister interests, which seek surreptitiously to
advance themselves under cover of humanitarian assistance," Mugabe said.
Winter declined to respond, saying the United States was only interested
in preventing famine. "If there is inadequate action to prevent famine,
people will die because there is nobody to make up for the role the U.S.
is prepared to carry," he said. "President Bush ... has told us he does
not want famine on his watch." There was no immediate government response
to Winter's appeal.
In May the government rejected a 10,000 ton donation of corn from the
United States because it could not be certified that it was not
genetically modified. Zimbabwean officials have not said specifically why
they object to genetically modified food. But some scientists have been
concerned that genes from modified field crops would so thoroughly invade
nearby fields that no field crops could ever be completely free of the
effects of the new gene manipulation techniques.
Zimbabwe has to date bought 500,000 tons of corn from South Africa,
Brazil, China and Kenya without questioning whether it was genetically
modified. Much of the corn is still in transit due to logistical problems.
Zimbabwe had accepted all other food shipments to the country without
reservation, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in South Africa said. No
other countries in southern Africa receiving U.S. aid expressed concern
that shipments may contain genetically modified food, the spokeswoman
Biotech Could Lead To Dramatic Green Revolution In Africa
- Crop Biotech Update http://www.isaaa.org/kc July 26, 2002, (Via Agnet)
The judicious deployment of biotechnology and other improved technologies
could lead to an agricultural revolution in Africa even more dramatic than
the 'Green Revolution' of the mid-twentieth century". This is according to
the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa's report entitled "Now
is the Time - A Plan to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa".
The Partnership was formed in early 2000 out of concern that the US
response to rising poverty and hunger in Africa was not enough. It has a
broad membership consisting of African presidents and ambassadors, current
an d former US public officials as well as corporate and interest group
CEOs , university presidents, representatives of multilateral and
non-government organizations and humanitarian assistance groups.
The report sets forth a strategic framework and action plan that is the
product of deliberations in Africa and the US over the last two years. It
discusses why past development strategies have not reduced hunger and
poverty, grounds for optimism due to a changing environment for African
development, basis for a new strategy and the Partnership's plan.
The Partnership recognizes that new science and technology products hold
great potential for Africa including information technology and
biotechnology. The report further said, "biotechnology - and other
science-based agricultural technology - hold potential to help Africa
achieve higher yields, improved pest control, greater drought resistance,
reduced dependence on chemical fertilizers, shorter growing seasons and
increased nutritional value of crops. The report is available at
Are Organic Farms Reservoirs of Pests And Plant Diseases?
From: "Kershen, Drew L" ›
Subject: Request for information
I have heard conventional farmers complain that organic farms are
reservoirs of pests and plant diseases. Does anyone know of any studies or
discussions of this issue? I would like to know whether this conventional
farmer complaint has scientific validity.
To my mind, an analogous situation would exist if a farmer were to refuse
to participate in a governmentally-sponsored boll weevil eradication
program, screw worm eradication program, or a similar program. Can anyone
provide studies or discussion the impact of "refusal to participate" in
eradication programs. Thank you in advance for your assistance.
Re: Fish Gene in Strawberry
To my knowledge, antifreeze proteins have been used in lab level
experiments with strawberries in the UK. I don't think it has gotten any
further than the lab. No doubt the media will report that they are in the
market killing off the "real" strawberries and destroying the economy of
- Elliot Entis, Aqua Bounty Farms, Waltham, MA
From: "Kershen, Drew L"
Dear AgBioView Readers:
I read Professor Roush's excellent comments on Percy Schmeiser.
He stated, "I am aware of a newspaper report ... that Schmeiser was
entitled to replant it as an 'ancient right of a farmer.' I am not
counting this at present because there is no independent corroboration."
I send to AgBioView the following one documents in .pdf format: 1.
Appellant's (Percy Schmeiser) Memorandum of Fact and Law in the Appeal in
the Canadian courts; <>
(Note from Prakash: I am unable to forward the .pdf file and so I request
you to please contact Prof. Kershen directly if you wish to receive this
I also have Respondent's (Monsanto) Memoradum in the same appeal,
Appellant's (Percy Schmeiser) Reply Memorandum to Respondent's Memorandum,
and Judge McKay's opinion (the trial court opinion that Schmeiser has
appealed. Judge McKay's opinion is the opinion that the appellate court
will affirm, reverse, affirm in part/reverse in part, etc.
I do not think readers need to read (other than for general knowledge and
curiosity) the last three mentioned items. Readers should read the
Schmeiser Memorandum of Face and Law, particularly the following:
paragraphs ## 13-21, 38, 41, 59-67, 124-127.
Best regards, Drew; Drew L. Kershen, Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of
Law, University of Oklahoma College of Law, Norman, Oklahoma 7301
Debate 2002'0726 b: Another piece on the Oaxaca saga on the Mexican corn
- From: Klaus.Ammann@ips.unibe.ch
Dear friends, here a status summary of the present day debate about the
Mexican corn gene flow case, written by Wil Lepkowski (
Here my additions:
- We should also mention the role of Greenpeace in the case. They have
done everything to inflame the debate, first by using outrageous
comparisons such as: the gene introgression is worse that the destruction
of the old Oaxaca cathedral etc. I know of eye witnesses who saw Mexican
farmers deeply frightened and willing to leave their land because they
thought that their soil has been contaminated for the next 100 years.
- The mud-slinging has also a component on the opponent side: The
circulation of the joint NGO statement, which was targeted at scientists
who dared to critizise the Nature publication.
- I have not seen one single critical statement about the Nature paper
which questioned basically that the introgresson would (or will) happen.
- In the heat of the debate we often forget that this is what science is
all about: publish the data in a transparent way and let it have
critizised. But this does not mean that a scientist having published a
flawed paper should be denigrated - it is after all just a flawed paper
and when you consider that even Nobel Prize winners sometimes come out
with flawed science....
- Again I am amazed that in this article of Wil Lepkowski given below as a
link there is no mention of previous experience in Mexican gene flow,
where in some papers it is demonstrated that the wild relatives and also
the land races did 'not fall apart' genetically by receiving some modern
Wil Lepkowski text:
Center for Science, Policy and Outcomes 1 Thomas Circle, NW, Suite 1075
Washington DC 20005 +1 202 776 03 07 tel. +1 202 776 07 75 fax
Biotech's OK Corral
Number 13, posted July 09, 2002
Lost In The Maize
- Toby Andrew, Spiked July 17, 2002 (VIA Agnet)
After yet another round of scare stories about genetically modified
Mexican maize, it seems that media campaigners are more interested in
promoting worst-case scenarios than pursuing the truth. The original
furore kicked off at the end of 2001, with the publication of a paper in
Nature magazine by David Quist and Ignacio Chapela, who claimed that GM
corn in Mexico was contaminating indigenous 'landraces'.
Prior to that, in September 2001, there was a stir when Dr Chapela, an
environmental campaigner and assistant professor of microbial ecology at
the University of California, notified the
Mexican authorities that his studies revealed the presence of scattered
plots of illegally grown transgenic maize in the states of Oaxaca and
Puebla. Although Mexico annually imports more than five million tonnes of
transgenic corn from the USA for consumption purposes, a ban has been
imposed on planting GM crops following a government moratorium in 1998.
After a series of increasingly bitter accusations and counter-accusations
over claims that indigenous Mexican maize is being 'genetically polluted'
by genetically modified maize and is 'in danger of extinction', the row,
dubbed the 'maize scandal', has been flaring for almost a year now.
'I've never seen anything like it', says Peggy Lemaux, a US molecular
biologist and one of the most public critics of the Quist and Chapela
paper that appeared in Nature. 'There's been a lot of fighting about
transgenics, but this is something else.'
In the Nature paper, Quist and Chapela claimed that their laboratory
tests confirmed worst fears about GM maize having been found growing
alongside traditional maize varieties in Mexico. Specifically, they made
three claims - each with potentially serious implications. The first was
that cross-fertilisation or hybridisation between the two types of maize
varieties had already taken place. Secondly, that the transgenic DNA from
the GM corn had introgressed into traditional maize - meaning that the
transgene had become thoroughly bred into a number of traditional
varieties through a process of repeated breeding between hybrid and
original varieties. Thirdly, the authors claimed that the transgene,
rather than remaining at the same locus in the GM maize, seemed to have
appeared at a number of new locations in the genome of Mexican varieties.
And this, argued Quist and Chapela, suggested either the possibility of
multiple introgression events or that the transgene had fragmented or even
relocated in the genome. It was this third claim that got alarm bells
ringing. As one microbiology research group put it, 'the discovery of
transgenes fragmenting and promiscuously scattering throughout genomes
would be unprecedented'.
But all three of the claims, including evidence that cross-pollination had
occurred, have been widely condemned by microbiologists. They claim that
Quist and Chapela's findings were the result of inadequately conducted
laboratory experiments. Subsequently, a more rigorous series of tests have
failed to find any transgenic DNA in any of the 152 Mexican varieties
screened. Critics claim the study is a poor piece of work that should not
have been published in the first place. Indeed, in April 2002, Nature
issued an editorial, unprecedented in its 133-year history, stating that
'the evidence available is not sufficient to justify the publication of
the original paper'.
Despite the lack of evidence, the 'no smoke without fire' sentiment seems
to persist. In June 2002, BBC2's current affairs programme Newsnight
accused the editor of Nature, Phillip Campbell, of conspiratorially
overriding the advice of two of the three critical reviewers in order to
censor the paper with a statement of retraction, after coming under
'strong pressure from sections of the scientific-business community'. The
decision to withdraw the article was not a conspiratorial act of
censorship. It was a decision based on science. The original paper was
flawed on many counts - but the central problem was that the transgenic
traces detected in the maize samples were so tiny that the authors had to
conduct two rounds of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), greatly enhancing
the possibility of low levels of contamination introduced during the
handling of samples causing a positive result. Key control data results
were withheld with the woolly statement that control tests were
'invariably negative', raising the suspicion that control samples (by
definition containing no transgene) were also yielding positive results.
Indeed, the research was so poor that some scientists suspected that
editor Campbell's environmentalist sympathies might be one reason why such
speculative research was published. Although there is currently no
evidence that cross-pollination, introgression or transgene relocation has
occurred, it is widely accepted by scientists that transgenes will sooner
or later move into other maize varieties. After all, corn is a
So the question then becomes: would this matter? Environmentalist claims
that transgenic transfer would lead to a loss of biodiversity are
disingenuous. Despite the use of the term 'landraces', portraying an image
of diverse wild strains, traditional Mexican varieties are in fact all
closely related. They have all been highly cultivated and, like GM corn,
they are all thought to have descended from the wild grass Teosintes. And
in this case, fears over potential super weeds being created are misplaced
- since hybrid maize would not be a weed, but merely a GM crop with
Environmentalists' biggest fear in the Mexican maize story is an
underlying concern about (uncontrolled) horizontal gene transfer (HGT) -
the direct uptake and incorporation of foreign DNA into cells, by
mechanisms other than natural breeding. The potential danger posed by
'jumping genes' was first illustrated in the 1950s with the fruit-fly
Drosophilia, in which a DNA fragment, known as the P element, somehow
(perhaps via a blood-sucking mite) managed to transfer between a
laboratory and a wild fruitfully species in South America. No harm
occurred, since the DNA fragment simply remained as a harmless passenger.
This is partly why Quist and Chapela's claim of transgenic fragmentation
and relocation in the maize genome caused such widespread concern. Genes
introduced into a genome by genetic engineering are invariably introduced
by researchers using a modified, harmless virus. For example, the viral
promoter used to deliver the gene that expresses the insecticide Bt is the
commonly used cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV). Current delivery methods
are hit and miss, but once successfully delivered and the host plant
subsequently bred, the transgene tends to stay put at the same location in
One possibility is that the very cellular mechanism that allows a
transgene to be inserted into a genome may also facilitate it to 'jump
out' again, since the process is naturally reversible. What happens then
is subject to speculation. Insects with sharp mouthparts might visit the
transgenic maize and landraces in succession and deliver the transgene to
the new host genome - which then may or may not be passed on to succeeding
generations. Once introgressed, the transgene might then move around the
genome causing other genes to be read incorrectly. Or the introduced viral
promoter might 'wake' previously dormant proviruses known to exist in the
'junk' DNA of all plants and animals, which might then go on to
malignantly infect other organisms - including humans.
Veteran anti-GM campaigner Mae-Wan Ho asserts that any genetic engineering
technology is inherently dangerous, as it increases the potential for
horizontal gene transfer. She claims that HGT inevitably leads to new
viral and bacterial pathogens, new diseases, cancer and ecological
destruction. Indeed, Ho even blames genetic engineering technologies for
already causing the recent rise of anti-bacterial resistance, based upon
the laughable observation that both phenomena have been on the increase
since the 1980s.
Scientists do not dismiss the potential problem of horizontal gene
transfer lightly. But although there is a potential risk that HGT might
occur, the dangers put forward by campaigners can only be realised by
piling one worst-case scenario upon another. So while, in principle, each
event might conceivably be plausible, as a chain of consecutive events it
is a practical impossibility. So science fiction tends to be promoted as
There are three lessons from the Mexican maize row. Firstly, it is wrong
to always assume the worst. Secondly, critics that object to biotechnology
per se should be criticised for their refusal even to contemplate whether
the potential benefits might outweigh the potential costs. Thirdly, wise
policy decisions can only be based upon the best available evidence.
Continually anticipating the worst, as Nature discovered to its cost,
yields unanticipated hazards of its own.
GM Papaya Research Team Receives 2002 Von Humboldt Award
- Crop Biotech Update, July 26, 2002, www.isaaa.org/kc (Via Agnet)
The research team that developed the papaya ringspot virus
(PRSV)-resistant papaya will receive the prestigious 2002 Alexander von
Humboldt Award for Agriculture.
Led by Dennis Gonsalves, former Cornell University Hyde Bailey professor
of plant pathology, the team produced two disease-resistant varieties,
Rainbow and Sun-up, expressing the PRSV coat protein gene through genetic
engineering. Commercialized in 1998, this research effort saved the $ 45
million Hawaiian papaya industry from widespread and severe disease
damage. "The efforts of the team clearly portray the potential benefits of
biotechnology in agriculture and have led to further scientific
discoveries that will impact the development of disease resistance in
other valuable crops throughout the world" said Susan A. Henry of the
Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life
Richard Manshardt of University of Hawaii, Maureen Fitch of the US
Department of Agriculture and Jerry Slightom of Pharmacia-Upjohn Co. are
the key players in this breakthrough project. Named in honor of Alexander
von Humboldt, the 19th-century German naturalist and geographer, the award
is given annually to the person or team judged to have the most
significant contribu tion to American agriculture during the
previous five years.
21st Century PR: The War for Ideas and Ideals
- "Ross S. Irvine" ›
The big PR battles of the 21st century will not be about the current
fiscal quarter or the next news cycle. They will be about ideas and
ideals. They will have a profound impact on business and society.
The current battle over genetically modified foods is an example from
which other businesses can learn. It also illustrates why modern conflict
theory and practice -- not risk communications -- provide insights and
tools to deal effectively with activists.
Read "21st Century PR: The War for Ideas and Ideals" at
Food labels on Oregon ballot
- Brad Cain, Seattle Post-intelligencer. July 24, 2002 (Forwarded by "John
W. Cross" )
SALEM, Ore. -- A measure to give consumers the right to know whether the
food they purchase has been genetically engineered will appear on Oregon's
statewide ballot this fall. State election officials said yesterday that
sponsors of the food labeling measure turned in more than enough
signatures to qualify for a spot on the November ballot.
That sets the stage for a high-profile campaign -- Oregon is the only
state voting on such a measure -- that could prompt agricultural and food
industry interests to spend millions to defeat the measure. If approved by
voters, the measure would require labeling of all food and food additives
that have been genetically engineered.
The requirement would apply to all foods sold in Oregon -- including
stores and restaurants -- as well as foods distributed from the state. At
issue is food that has been engineered with genetic material from a
different plant or animal. Proponents say genetic engineering can boost
the nutritional content of food, for example, or allow farmers to grow
more pest-resistant crops that require less chemical treatment. But
sponsors of the labeling measure say too little is known about the
long-term health effects of genetically engineered foods, and Oregon
consumers should at least be able to know what they are eating.
"Science gave us asbestos as a wonderful insulating material, but then we
found out it gives you lung cancer," said Katelyn Lord, co-chief
petitioner for the measure. "I don't know why we as consumers have to be
involved in an experiment." Agricultural and food industry groups have
hired a Portland consulting firm to help them defeat the measure this
Pat McCormick, spokesman for the firm, said there's already plenty of
government regulation of food quality and the measure's broadly written
labeling requirements would be overly burdensome. Most processed foods
contain genetically modified corn, soy and canola ingredients, and all
would have to be labeled under the measure, McCormick said.
That creates unnecessary expense, he said, because "there's really no
difference between a can of soda pop that was made with genetically
engineered corn syrup and one that was made with conventional syrup." Lord
said, however, that such labeling requirements already exist in Japan and
parts of Europe. "Why shouldn't we be able to know what people in other
parts of the world get to know?" said Lord, a Wilsonville resident who
works at a food cooperative in northwest Portland.
Petition For Altered Food Labels Gets On Ballot
Opponents Say The Proposed Measure Would Hurt Oregon Farmers
- Michael Rose, Statesman Journal, July 24, 2002
Expect a food fight this November. Oregonians may be the first in the
nation to vote on a labeling law for genetically modified foods. Backers
of the labeling law have turned in enough valid signatures to get it on
the ballot, the Secretary of State's office said Tuesday.
Should the initiative become law, few food processors and farmers would be
untouched. A bewildering array of products could require new labels,
ranging from soft drinks sold in vending machines to prepared foods served
at supermarket delis. "I'm a mom and have two kids; that's my motivating
factor," said Donna Harris, the chief petitioner. People should be
informed about what they're eating, and now they have no idea, she said.
Oregon Concerned Citizens for Safe Foods gathered 67,544 valid signatures
to get the issue placed before voters. Lining up to block the labeling
law: the Grocery Manufacturers of America, the Oregon Grocery Industry
Association, Associated Oregon Industries, and the farm lobby.
"This is not a consumer right-to-know initiative; this is an
anti-agriculture initiative," said Jean Wilkinson of the Oregon Farm
Bureau. The agriculture industry views the labeling law as an attempt to
stop all biotechnology by running up costs. Oregon grows only a smattering
of genetically engineered crops, such as Roundup-resistant canola and corn
with a built-in insecticide to kill pests.
Terri Lomax, an Oregon State University scientist who specializes in
biotechnology issues, said 70 percent of the processed foods on
supermarket shelves contains some genetically engineered components. The
big three crops that come from genetically altered seed are corn, soybeans
and canola oil. Eat a candy bar containing corn syrup and lecithin, Lomax
said, and the odds of consuming a genetically altered product are high.
Would out-of-state food processors change their labels just to serve the
Oregon market? she asks. Food costs for consumers certainly would rise as
an outcome of the labeling requirements, Lomax said. Meanwhile, Oregon
business would be at an economic disadvantage.
"This is too Draconian," Lomax said.
Terry Witt, executive director of Oregonians For Food and Shelter, a trade
group supported by agri-businesses interests, said the labeling law could
extend to dairy products and meats because vaccinations or feed used in
raising farm animals may contain bioengineered components. The Oregon
Department of Agriculture would be charged with enforcing the law, and
taxpayers would pick up the bill.
The lion's share of the money behind the labeling effort in Oregon has
come from Emerald Valley Kitchen, a Eugene maker of organic salsas and
bean dips. Mel Bankoff, president of Emerald Valley, said his company has
contributed nearly $50,000 to the cause. "If any state has the gumption to
forward this into the mainstream of the American public, let it be
Oregon," Bankoff said. While many in the food industry complain the law
would be too expensive, Bankoff said the cost would be "innocuous."
He denied that his organic foods company, which has 18 employees, was
trying to gain a marketing advantage by backing the initiative. Even
Emerald Valley might be forced to alter its label because genetically
modified crops, such as corn and soybeans, are so pervasive, he said.
Few things are more critical than ensuring that children, particularly
infants, receive the right balance of nutrients needed to grow up healthy
and strong. Just ask any parent, anywhere. However, not all parents have
the options or the resources, most notably within developing countries.
Lack of essential nutrients is more than just unfortunate - in many cases,
as with vitamin A deficiency (VAD), it can cause blindness, xerosis,
xerophthalmia, and even death. In fact, VAD alone is responsible for at
least half a million cases of childhood blindness and a startling one to
two million deaths each year. Moreover, UNICEF estimates that some 124
million children around the world are dangerously deficient in vitamin A.
This is this health crisis that triggered the development of Golden Rice.
Because rice accounts for an extraordinary 80 percent of the world's diet,
it was only logical that it became the focus of an intense research effort
that began in 1982. Initial funding came from the Rockefeller Foundation,
which continues to support the project in a variety of ways.
The primary goal of its inventors, Professor Ingo Protrykus and Doctor
Peter Beyer, was to produce rice with enhanced beta-carotene and other
carotenoids, the nutrients the body converts into vitamin A. This is
critical, as unmilled brown rice contains a negligible amount of
beta-carotene, and then only in the green tissues of the plant, which are
inedible. So, even though rice is a staple in most of the world's diet, it
is seriously deficient in a critical nutrient. Advances in biotechnology
will ensure that Golden Rice, which was given the name because of its pale
yellow hue, will be able to help deliver some of the vital, life-saving
nutrients children around the world need. The guiding force behind the
creation of Golden Rice was humanitarian, a spirit that has now been
carried over into the area of distribution. From the outset, its inventors
were determined to see that this technology reached those who needed it
most, quickly, safely and efficiently.
The Rockefeller Foundation, Greenovation, and Zeneca (now part of
Syngenta, Ltd.) share this conviction, which led to a comprehensive
agreement between all parties to guarantee that this is done, at no cost
to those in need. Syngenta has been supporting the European Union's
carotenoid research project since 1996, while Greenovation, a German-based
university biotech company that both performs and funds numerous such
projects, has been involved for almost two years.
According to Dr. Gary Toenniessen, Director for Food Security at the
Rockefeller Foundation, "this collaboration will speed the process of
conducting all appropriate nutritional and safety testing and obtaining
regulatory approvals, [and] help assure that Golden Rice reaches those
people that it can help most as quickly as possible. We look forward to
following the progress of this agreement as a possible model for other
public-private enter-prise partnerships designed to benefit poor people in
Golden Rice began arriving in the Philippines in January of 2001, where it
is undergoing a comprehensive set of tests to determine its efficiency,
safety and usefulness for people in the developing world. The testing is
being made possible by a joint effort that includes the Philippines-based
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Syngenta, and the
Rockefeller Foundation. IRRI has been doing rice breeding for decades, and
has been on the front lines of the Green Revolution, developing and
releasing new rice varieties with improved productivity (and increased
dependence on fertilizers and pesticides). Their services are provided
without charge to the farmers they serve, and are supported by
philanthropic foundations in the developed world (including the
Rockefeller Foundation). Many people regard this development as an example
of how biotechnology can be used to help developing nations, while others
consider it a smokescreen to divert attention from the fact that
biotechnology companies are trying to dominate the food supply.
At the same time, Syngenta will explore commercial opportunities for sale
of Golden Rice into expanding markets for healthy foods in more developed
countries, with particular focus on Japan and North America. Syngenta will
also provide regulatory, advisory and research expertise to assist in
making Golden Rice readily
available to developing nations.
There are several questions surrounding golden rice, including when, if
ever, it will be ready for commercial use and whether it might have
unpredictable, untoward, health effects on those who eat too much of it.
As many experts agree, from researchers to health-care and nutrition
specialists, "Golden Rice" is an exciting and potentially revolutionary
development, one that could make a lasting difference for millions of
malnourished children across the globe.
More information on ethical, social, environmental, and political issues
at the website http://www.missouri.edu/~freyerms/105_LE/goldenrice.html
UK Farmers should be allowed to grow GM crops after properly regulated
trials; A Farmer Speaks Up!
Vote on this issue at: http://www.robertkey.com/rk-voting/
Other than its ability to tolerate one additional weed killer, the new
sugar beet is in every way exactly the same and as safe as ordinary sugar
beet. The GM beet does not contain 'anti-biotic resistant' genes. The GM
beet does not contain animal or fish genes. The GM beet does not contain
any new allergenic or harmful components.
The gene inserted into the GM beet and the protein produced by it that
confers the resistance to the herbicide, originates from a common,
harmless soil bacterium. The gene and protein are therefore widespread in
the natural environment and naturally break down into the same chemical
building blocks as all other genes and proteins.
Throughout the trial, from April to September, the crop will be very
closely monitored by independent scientists from leading research
institutes across the country - the Institute of Arable Crops Research,
the Centres for Ecology and Hydrology and the Scottish Crop Research
Institute. At intervals, the crop site is systematically sampled for
insects and other creatures including snails and slugs by scientists who
will record and analyse the results as part of the trial.
As sugar beet and fodder beet are biennial plants they only flower in the
second season Most such plants will not normally flower or produce pollen
in the first year when grown as a root crop. But a small number of plants
always flower in the first year - known as 'bolters'. As required by the
strict rules and protocols of the trials, every 10 to 14 days the bolters
are removed, by hand, before they flower. So there should be no
possibility of pollen release from the crops in this trial.
There is no risk to wild plants or to neighbouring farm crops or gardens.
Sugar beet and fodder beet have no wild relatives, other than the maritime
beet around our coastline. Just like 'ordinary' sugar beet, this crop does
not contaminate the soil or leave behind any residue. Even if it flowers,
sugar beet and fodder beet do not cross with any other farm crops or
The GM crop on trial will not be used for food or animal feed because the
crop has not yet been approved for commercial use. All of the crop from
the trial will be harvested and removed from the field. It will be
disposed of by burial in an Approved landfill site, where it will compost
like any other plant waste.
Before this new variety of sugar beet was first grown in UK field trials
in 1990 (yes, that long ago) it had been investigated for more than five
years in laboratory and glasshouse tests, down to the level of molecular
characterisation, until both the scientists who had developed it and all
the international regulatory authorities were completely satisfied that it
was in every way as safe as ordinary sugar beet. Small-scale field trials
of this beet have been held in the UK for more than ten years now, and in
1999 the variety was trialled in over 20 countries around the world. In
that time the regulatory authorities of all those countries have not
recorded a single adverse effect of any kind whatsoever.
The Future of Food And Nutrition With Biotechnology
- 'Special Issue', Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Vol. 21,
No. 3. June 2002.
Full Text of all following articles at
The Application of Biotechnology to Nutrition: An Overview
The Evolution of Modern Agriculture and Its Future with Biotechnology
››Susan K. Harlander
Food Safety Evaluation of Crops Produced through Biotechnology
››Bruce M. Chassy
The Impact of Consumer Food Biotechnology Training on Knowledge and
››Charles R. Santerre and Krisanna L. Machtmes
Enhancing Mineral Content in Plant Food Products
››Michael A. Grusak
Fighting Iron Deficiency Anemia with Iron-Rich Rice
››Paola Lucca, Richard Hurrell, and Ingo Potrykus
Enhancement of Vitamin E Levels in Corn
Increased Production of Nutriments by Genetically Engineered Crops
››Robert S»venier, Ingrid M. van der Meer, Raoul Bino, and Andries J.
High-Oleic and High-Stearic Cottonseed Oils: Nutritionally Improved
Cooking Oils Developed Using Gene Silencing
››Qing Liu, Surinder Singh, and Allan Green
J Am Coll Nutr 2002. 21: 205S-211S. [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF] [Figures
Foods as Production and Delivery Vehicles for Human Vaccines
››Schuyler S. Korban, Sergei F. Krasnyanski, and Dennis E. Buetow
Expression of Human Milk Proteins in Plants