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Date:

June 10, 2003

Subject:

Scientists Vouch Safety; Ignoring A Moral Imperative; Breeders' R

 

Today in AgBioView: June 11, 2003

* Scientists Find Modified Foods Are Safe to Eat
* Europe's Stand on GM Crops 'Hitting the Poor'
* GM Potatoes' Set to be Approved in India
* GM Crops Worth £50 Million A Year'
* GM Crops Promise Great Benefits, says Breeders' Report
* GM Research Withers Away in Europe
* US House Passes Bill Supporting WTO Biotech Case
* Use Biotech to Develop Drought Resistant Crops: Expert
* Re: Public Surveys on Biotech
* Virus Attack on AgBioview Members
* Glyphosate Risk? Then, Being a Treasury Secretary Causes Cancer
* Let's Throw Some Dirt at Monsanto
* 'E' Who? The Elusive EU identity
* Organic 'Chutzpah'
* AgBioView Losing Its Only EU Insider? Hope Not..
* FAO Conference on Regulation of GMOs
* OECD - Accessing Agiotech in Emerging Economies
* From Persist
* Biotechnology: Strategies for Growth
* Science Informing Society
* Job Searching in Biotech

Scientists Find Modified Foods Are Safe to Eat

- John Mason, Financial Times; Jun 11, 2003

Genetically modified crops are safe to eat but scientists have more doubts
over their long-term environmental impacts, according to the largest-ever
review of the evidence surrounding agricultural biotechnology. Regulators
will also have to tighten loopholes, improve monitoring and become more
transparent to maintain public confidence in the technology, says the
report, published yesterday.

The study, by the International Council for Science (ICSU), says:
"Additional research is needed to assist in the continued development of
regulatory approaches that keep abreast of new scientific advances. "For
example, there is a need for continued development of food safety
assessment methods to deal with emerging products such as nutritionally
enhanced foods and other complex traits controlled by multiple genes.
"There is also a need for the development of internationally agreed
standards for the assessments of environmental risks and benefits."

Another report, by the UK's Nuffield Council on Bioethics, also gave
cautious backing to the development of GM crops, saying they could have
significant benefits for developing countries if properly managed.
However, it warns that the European Union's proposed labelling regime,
intended to give consumers choice, could damage agriculture in developing
countries, many of which lack the infrastructure to separate GM and non-GM
crops. This could restrict small farmers' freedom of choice. To avoid
controversies over emergency food aid, as happened last year when Zambia
rejected a US shipment of GM maize, developing countries should have a
choice whether to receive GM or non-GM aid, it says.

The findings of both reports are likely to feed into debates about the
role of GM technology in world farming, such as those instigated by the
World Bank and the British government.

ICSU represents more than 100 science academies, including the US National
Academy of Science and the UK's Royal Society. Its study draws together
evidence from all leading reviews of GM crops to see where the consensus
lies.

It concludes:
* GM foods are safe to eat with no adverse effects reported since their
introduction in 1995. It warns "this does not guarantee that no risks will
be encountered as more foods are developed with novel characteristics".
Stronger safety testing will be needed. * Although GM crops will alter the
environment as their pollen spreads there is no evidence current species
have caused harm. But scientists are more divided over the long-term
environmental impacts than health effects. * Regulation will have to
improve and become more transparent. International forums for examining
environmental risks need to be expanded to cope.

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

Europe's Stand on GM Crops 'Hitting the Poor'

- Mark Henderson, Science Correspondent, The Times (of London) June 11,
2003

The European Union is ignoring a "moral imperative" to promote genetically
modified crops for their great potential for helping the developing world,
Britain's most respected scientific ethics group said yesterday.

Tough import and labelling regulations are deterring poor countries from
growing GM produce, even though their farmers stand to gain more from the
technology than any other group, according to the Nuffield Council on
Bioethics.

Although GM crops alone will not solve the problem of world hunger, they
can make an important contribution to fighting poverty and malnutrition,
the independent and influential body says in a report. The benefits would
be greatest for small-scale farmers whose livelihoods could be transformed
by some transgenic products. European GM policies, however, were
jeopardising the prospects for improved agriculture in Africa and Asia.
Poor countries were reluctant to approve GM varieties for fear that they
would be shut out of European markets, and groundless health concerns were
being repeated in the developing world as if they were fact.

Sandy Thomas, director of the Nuffield Council and chairman of the working
party that prepared the report, said the European moratorium on GM crops
was having a negative impact on poor countries.

"We believe EU regulators have not paid enough attention to the impact of
EU regulations on agriculture in developing countries," she said. "We
recommend that the British Government and non-governmental organisations
should monitor this closely. We recognise that we are discussing only part
of a much larger picture. We do not claim that GM crops will eliminate the
need for economic, political or social change, or that they will feed the
world. However, we do believe that GM technology could make a useful
contribution, in appropriate circumstances, to improving agriculture and
the livelihood of poor farmers in developing countries."

A 1999 Nuffield report found a "moral imperative" for making GM crops
available in developing countries that wanted them, and the case for this
had strengthened in the past four years. "We have no hesitation in
affirming, and expanding, our previous conclusions," Dr Thomas said.

The report, published in draft form yesterday, is to be submitted to the
Government's national debate on the future of GM crops in Britain. The
council, which brings together scientists, ethicists, philosophers and
lawyers to discuss ethical questions raised by medicine and biology, is
inviting comments ahead of a final version in the autumn.

The council's verdict was rejected by anti-GM groups, which questioned
whether GM crops could make any contribution to world hunger. "World
hunger is not an argument for GM products, and shouldn't be exploited to
try and sell them," Pete Riley, of Friends of the Earth, said.

"The problems poor countries face should be tackled through the promotion
of appropriate sustainable agriculture, and economic, social and political
reforms. We were hoping for more analysis from the Nuffield Council on
alternative solutions to these very serious problems."

Knotty problem. A four-year research programme has been set up to find
natural ways of controlling Japanese knotweed in Britain. The plant can
crack concrete and grows an inch a day. The work will be carried out by
CABI International at a cost of £500,000.

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

GM Potatoes' Set to be Approved in India

- Irish Examiner, Jun 11, 2003, http://www.online.ie/

A genetically modified potato containing extra nutrients is expected to be
approved for sale in India within six months, it was reported today.

Dr Manju Sharma, head of India's Department of Biotechnology, told the BBC
the potatoes would be handed out free to millions of poor schoolchildren
in a bid to reduce malnutrition rates. "There has been a serious concern
that malnutrition is one of the reasons (for) the blindness, the vitamin A
deficiency, the protein deficiency. So it is really a very important
global concern, particularly in the developing world," she told the BBC.

The potatoes, which contain a third than normal, were created by adding a
gene from the protein-rich amaranth plant. The "protato", as it has become
known, is said to be in the final stages of being approved by the
government in New Delhi.

But critics told the BBC they saw the plan as risky, naive and a
propaganda tool to promote GM foods in India. (Prakash: Eh? ... See
'Chutzpah' scroll below)

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

GM Crops Worth £50 Million A Year'

- The Scotsman (UK), June 11, 2003

The great debate the government is encouraging on whether GM crops should
be grown on a commercial scale moves to Glasgow this evening. According
to a report published in Edinburgh yesterday, GM technology is safe,
compatible with conventional farming and has the potential to boost the
income of UK agriculture by at least GBP 50m.

The report was compiled by the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) and
commissioned by the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), an umbrella
organisation representing six firms involved in the breeding of GM crops.
Dr David Oglethorpe, of the land research group at SAC, and two colleagues
base their findings on an economic computer model that involved six
months' work considering all the possible variations of yield and price.

Dr Oglethorpe said: "GM is a workable and viable option. The technology
provides opportunities for farmers to improve returns from market-based
agriculture rather than subsidised production." Dr Paul Rylott, the
acting chairman of ABC, said: "The consensus is that GM crops are at least
as safe as those grown conventionally. The debate now needs to be widened
as to whether GM crops can co-exist with conventional and organic systems
and what, if any, are the benefits."

He pointed out that over the past four years farm-scale trials at 260
sites across the UK have shown that the protocols attaching to GM crops
were workable and that there had been no instances of organic producers
losing their status.

He added; "We know that co-existence can occur, but should it, and what
are the benefits? We in ABC wanted to try and move the issue to find some
answers and believe that the SAC report does that. We appointed SAC
because it is independent with widespread practical knowledge, including
in the organic sector."

The results from the SAC model, which built in a yield increase of about
12 per cent for GM winter oilseed rape and more than 20 per cent for
spring sown crops - based on trial results - suggests that even with no
cost savings the financial advantage will be just more than GBP 40 per
hectare at the same sale value of conventional crops. Where cost savings
of 10 per cent can be achieved as a result of lower chemical inputs, the
advantage rises to more than GBP 70 per hectare.

Even if the value of GM crops are reduced to 90 per cent of conventionally
grown ones, the system is still viable to the extent of an additional GBP
6.45 per hectare. That rises to GBP 70.31 per hectare when GM and
conventional crops are sold at the same value.

Dr Rylott said: "We did a survey of more than 100 farmers before the
trials started and found that 19 per cent were convinced of the merits of
GM. After the trials that figure rose to 90 per cent.

"The system offers the opportunity to farm more efficiently and more
profitably. I also think GM offers a way for farmers to improve the
environment and provides an opportunity to farm in a more sustainable
manner."

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

GM Crops Promise Great Benefits, says Breeders' Report

- The Herald (UK), June 11, 2003

THE great debate on whether genetically-modified crops should be grown on
a commercial scale moves to the Quality Hotel, Gordon Street, Glasgow,
this evening.

However, according to a report - published in Edinburgh yesterday on
behalf of six companies with interests in breeding GM crops - the
technology is safe, compatible with conventional farming and has the
potential to boost the income of UK agriculture by at least £50m. The
report was compiled by the Scottish Agricultural College and commissioned
by the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, an umbrella body for Monsanto,
Bayer, Dow, BASF, DuPont and Syngenta.

Dr David Oglethorpe, of the land research group at SAC, and two colleagues
base their findings on a computer model which involved six months of work
considering variations of yield and price. Oglethorpe said: "GM is a
workable and viable option. The technology provides opportunities for
farmers to improve returns from market-based agriculture rather than
subsidised production."

However, Dr Paul Rylott, acting chairman of ABC, which invested a
five-figure sum in the SAC project, said: "The debate now needs to be
widened as to whether GM crops can co-exist with conventional and organic
systems and what, if any, are the benefits."

The results from the SAC model, which built in a yield increase of around
12% for GM winter oilseed rape and more than 20% for spring sown crops
based on trial results, suggests that even with no cost savings, the
financial advantage will be some £40 per hectare at the same sale value of
conventional crops. Where cost savings of 10% can be achieved as a result
of lower chemical inputs, the advantage rises to more than £70 per
hectare.

Even if the value of GM crops are reduced to 90% of conventionally-grown
crops the system is still viable to the extent of an additional £6.45 per
hectare. That figure rises to £70.31 per hectare when GM and conventional
crops are sold at the same value, the study said.

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

GM Research Withers Away in Europe

- The Dundee Courier UK) , June 11, 2003.

The majority of farmers in this country will back the genetic modification
of crops but they may not get the chance as European-based research on the
science has withered away.

A survey of those farmers involved in trial work with genetically modified
crops has revealed that while only one in five of them were in favour of
the new science prior to their involvement, this percentage had risen to
90% after seeing the crops grow and yield.

However, a leading proponent of genetic modification admitted yesterday
that 60% of all bio-tech projects in Western Europe had disappeared in the
past year. This was not to say that they had been abandoned, said Dr Paul
Rylott, but that they had been moved to areas of the globe where GM work
is supported. This year there has been an 11% increase in the area of GM
crops grown throughout the world and an estimated six million farmers
worldwide will be benefiting from the new technology.

Two thirds of those working with GM varieties and crops are in the
developing world, with the majority of the rest working land in the United
States. One of the big growth areas for GM cropping is China, where Dr
Rylott said the science was "forging ahead" and research work linked to
this was now creating a major industry.

Dr Rylott, who later today will be involved in the main Scottish debate on
the future of GM, said that the phenomenal change in attitude by practical
farmers to the new crops was largely down to increased yields combined
with reduced crops. He said that GM varieties of winter oil seed rape had
shown an 11% to 15% increase in yield and there were less pesticide costs
with these crops.

The increase in yield was even higher in spring-sown crops, with a 21% to
22% improvement.
On these yields, a survey has estimated that UK farmers’ income could rise
by £50 million annually through using existing GM varieties of oilseed
rape, maize and sugar beet.

However, with a UK moratorium on planting field-scale GM crops and a
licensing agreement to be negotiated at EU level, there seems little
immediate likelihood of any commercial growing of GM crops in this
country. Dr Rylott, who is head of bio-science with Bayer CropScience,
said he expected there would be a change of attitude by the public on the
new science, with the vast majority of the population not having GM "on
their radar screens."

He was speaking in Edinburgh at the publication of a study carried out by
the Scottish Agricultural College into the co-existence between GM crops
and other forms of farming, including organic. The work, carried out by
computer modelling, showed there to be no adverse effect on the
organically cropped area and no widespread changes in the types and areas
of the crops grown.

Dr David Oglethorpe, who headed up the SAC team, said he saw GM cropping
as a workable and viable economic option. He pointed out that the current
talks on the reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy were going to
split farming into two groups.

There would be those who took their foot off the production pedal and
concentrated on achieving environmental objectives, and those who would go
all out for production, with GM technology helping them achieve that goal.

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

US House Passes Bill Supporting WTO Biotech Case

- Reuters, June 10, 2003

Washington, June 10 (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives on
Tuesday overwhelmingly passed legislation expressing support for the Bush
administration's filing of a World Trade Organization complaint against
the EU's policy on approving new genetically modified products.

The symbolic measure, which will have no formal bearing on the WTO case,
was opposed by some House members who argued the United States should not
encourage the WTO to overturn any country's food safety laws. It was
approved on a vote of 339 to 80.

Proponents of the legislation, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a
Republican from Illinois, said the WTO complaint would help "end the
European Union's protectionist and discriminatory trade practices of the
past five years regarding agriculture biotechnology."

But Rep. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said the measure "goes to the
fundamental issues of sovereignty and of shifting power from
democratically determined public health laws and rules to corporate
interests." Brown has been a vocal opponent of trade legislation.

U.S. corn farmers lose an estimated $300 million in sales to the EU
because European countries have blocked new biotech corn varieties. Last
month, the United States announced it intends to seek a WTO ruling
overturning the EU's moratorium on new biotech goods unless there it
quickly abandoned the policy.

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

Use Biotechnology to Develop Drought Resistant Crops: Expert

- The Press Trust of India Limited, June 9, 2003

Bangalore,Jun 9 (PTI) Eminent agricultural expert Dr M S Swaminathan
Monday urged scientists a "dynamic" project to develop drought resistant
crops using Biotechnology, even as the world is staring at "global warming
and rise in sea level."

"There are uncommon opportunities opened up by BT due to sea level rise in
future owing to global warming...we have to have a dynamic project
involving drought resistant crops," Swaminathan said in his keynote
address at the inaugural of the World Seed Congress, organised by the
International Seed Federation here.

Swaminathan said a team of researchers led by him had isolated genes from
"mangroves" and developed saline resistant rice strain. He said the
country's rich diversity like medicinal plants should be harnessed by
Indian scientists. Swaminathan, architect of the Green Revolution, called
for setting up of "low water farm parks" in which water retention through
harvesting is adopted and high yield varieties of crops are grown.

He asked the private sector to play an important role in helping farmers
association through capacity building and buy-back arrangements. "Our
food security challenge now relates to economic access caused by
inadequate purchasing power. So, overriding priority will have to be given
to generating new avenues for remunerative self-employment in rural
India," he said.

**********************************************
Re: Public Surveys on Biotech

- Bob MacGregor

We frequently see reports that some survey has revealed that a large
proportion of the public wants products of genetic engineering to be
labelled. I am curious to know if these surveys have ever put their
questions in the context of "conventional" plant breeding practices.

AgBioView participants are well aware of crop breeding using induced
mutation, wide crosses, embryo rescue and any number of other conventional
techniques, but I wonder if the public would call for labelling of plant
products that have endured these sorts of manipulation-- if they were ever
asked!

Certainly, it looks impressive when 70% to 90% of respondents call for
labelling GE products, but it would be less impressive if they also called
as strongly for process labelling of common, everyday breeding techniques
that have been in use for decades. Such a response would just indicate the
level of common ignorance of agriculture and would pretty much invalidate
the response on the GE foods question.

So, have the GE labelling questions ever been asked in the context of
conventional breeding practice (eg, "Should the products of crop varieties
including nuclear radiation induced mutations be labelled")?
---

Response from Prakash: Last year, the Center for Science in the Public
Interest (CSPI) from Washington, DC while surveying public attitudes about
biotechnology. See below an earlier discussion on that issue:

---
From: "Wayne Parrott" Date: Mon, 22 Jul 2002
Subject: Re: Public Distrust and Labelling

>> Greg Conko wrote: .... About survey research regarding the public's
>desire to label mutation-derived foods. I don't know about
>mutation-breeding, but in a survey commissioned by the Center for Science
>in the Public Interest (http://www.cspinet.org/new/poll_gefoods.html)
>completed in the Spring of 2001, 40 percent of respondents said they
>favored mandatory labeling of products containing hybrid corn. Only 44
>percent of respondents said that they would buy products containing
>hybrid corn. And more respondents wanted food labels to mention pesticide
>residues than wanted labels to mention genetic engineering (provided that
>they could add only one item).
-------

Wayne Parrot responds:

The above answer illustrates why it is *not* correct to say that surveys
show that the public demands GM labeling. Bottom line is that the question
"should GM foods be labeled?" predisposes people to a positive answer
because the very fact it is asked implies that there is reason GM foods
should be labeled, and thus opposing it is perceived as irresponsible or
morally wrong. The question then falls into the same category as "Do you
think wife-beating should be prohibited?" Who would ever answer no????

There are ways to survey the public without biasing the answer. I use as
an example, a question that IFIC (International Food Information Council),
uses, and which may be found on their web site at
http://ific.org/proactive/newsroom/release.vtml?id=19801.

The question is: Can you think of any information that is not currently
included on food labels that you would like to see on food labels? And
what types of information would that be? Asked in this fashion, only 1-2%
of consumers bring up genetic engineering. The vast majority (abt 75%)
don't want anything else on the label.

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

Virus Attack on AgBioview Members

- Gordon Couger

Has anyone contacted the FBI about the virus attack? Strictly speaking
that was a terrorist action. I have been involved in international
tracking of things that affected far fewer people.

The FBI has a task force that works on computer security matters and I
think things like that are part of their mission.

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

Glyphosate Risk? Then, Being a Treasury Secretary Causes Cancer

- John W. Cross

Regards glyphosate risk mentioned in Guardian article by George Monbiot,
June 10 (reference 1):

This seems to be another example of the Guardian's mixed-up reporting.

I found the abstract of 1997 article, but the correct journal citation is
"Cancer" (reference 2). The results for glyphosate were not deemed by the
authors significant enough to mention in the published abstract.
Apparently the authors of this study used the same retrospective "memory
of use" methodology that has been the cause of numerous scare stories over
the years. Coffee causing heart attacks, for example.

For perspective, the (conservative) European Union has a document
(reference 3), published more recently than the 1999 article, which states
categorically that in the case of glyphosate there is, "No evidence of
carcinogenicity." The same document also stated that glyphosate is not
genotoxic.

After seeing the another headline today, "Former Reagan Insider Donald
Regan Dies of Cancer", I wonder if they'll next report that being a
Treasury Secretary causes cancer.

References:
1. George Monbiot. The Guardian 6/10/03:
"There is, however, some evidence of possible indirect effects. In 1997
the Conservative government quietly raised the permitted levels of
glyphosate in soya beans destined for human consumption by 20,000%.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient of Roundup, the pesticide which
Monsanto's soya beans have been engineered to resist. "Roundup Ready" GM
crops, because they are sprayed directly with the herbicide, are likely to
contain far higher levels of glyphosate than conventional ones. In 1999,
the Journal of the American Cancer Society reported that exposure to
glyphosate led to increased risks of contracting a type of cancer called
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma."

2. Cancer Volume 85, Issue 6, 1999. Pages: 1353-1360.

3. European Commission, Standing Committee on Plant Health. "Review report
for the active substance glyphosate" Finalised 29 June 2001. URL:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/ph_ps/pro/eva/existing/list1_glyphosate_en.pdf


***********

Facts v. Fiction: Let's do a Monsanto

- Letter sent to the Editor of The Guardian

Sir, It was helpful of you to publish George Monbiot's article (Let's do a
Monsanto, 11 June) the same day the independent Nuffield Council for
Bioethics released their draft paper on how GM crops can aid the poor. It
made for easier comparison, given that one was demonstrably based on fact
and the other wasn't.

George complains about misinformation, while unwittingly repeating the
same fiction your paper has previously seen proper to correct in this
column. On 6 March 2000 my letter pointed out this alleged "20,000%
increase in the permitted levels of glyphosate in soya beans" was nothing
of the sort. It's little wonder glyphosate residues on GM soy every year
are less than the permitted maximum; the harvested part of the crop isn't
sprayed.

Monbiot also talks of "the field trials designed to determine whether or
not the crops are safe". Everyone else knows they would never have been
used to measure any effect on biodiversity and the environment unless they
were safe in the first place.

And as for Monsanto's "GM investments being valued at $96bn (£60bn)" in
1998. Come come, Mr Monbiot please check those press cuttings you tell me
you use for accuracy. There seems to be a decimal point missing.

The link to my letter in 2000 is
http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,3604,233414,00.html

- Tony Combes, Director of Corporate Affairs, Monsanto UK Ltd, London

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

'E' Who? The Elusive EU identity

- Margalit Edelman, The Christian Science, Monitor June 10, 2003 (Sent by
Andrew Apel)

London - The recent transatlantic split over Iraq found America at odds
with much of Europe. But what exactly is Europe? Europeans are still
trying to define that identity. And some will posit an answer mid-June,
when the European Union constitutional convention in Brussels comes to a
close.

The EU began in the 1950s as a humble steel and coal trading community
among six countries: Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, and
Luxembourg. Over the years, it expanded its membership and political and
economic activities, officially becoming the European Union in 1992.
Today, 12 of its 15 members have replaced their national currency with a
common one, the euro. And 10 countries from Eastern and Central Europe are
poised to join next year.

The establishment of a European constitution should be a momentous
occasion - the pinnacle of 50 years of postwar reconciliation and
cooperation that also heralds a 21st century power to rival the dominance
of the US. Instead, the convention is headed for anticlimactic closure
without having engaged and energized the Europeans it represents, and
without having generated significant interest outside the EU. The document
that emerges is unlikely to define Europe categorically because it can't
possibly reconcile the very real political, economic, and geographical
divisions that exist among member countries.

The Constitution, intended to clarify and codify the EU's role and
responsibilities, has failed to inspire Europeans because its institutions
remain distant, physically and metaphorically, from the people they
represent. The buildings that house the European Commission, Parliament,
and Council - steel and glass behemoths easily mistaken for large
corporate offices - are far from the Brussels city center. It's also
difficult for citizens to visit their European parliamentary
representatives (the only directly elected EU officials), because
Parliament meets in Strasbourg, Brussels, and Luxembourg.

Moreover, many Europeans simply don't feel that they have control over the
institutions and "Eurocrats" that are increasingly governing them.

The Commission, Parliament, and Council formulate and implement a variety
of rules and regulations. This acquis communitaire, now some 80,000 pages,
governs food and safety laws - regulating everything from teeth-whitening
procedures to genetically modified organisms - as well as common customs
procedures, economic policies, and many other areas.

This harmonization has certainly brought benefits to member states and
their citizens; it is easier for them to study, travel, and do business in
Europe. But some worry that European regulations have trumped local laws.
The European Commission refuted a persistent rumor that EU safety
regulations might do away with Britain's double-decker buses, insisting
that such laws would only apply to new buses. But some rules have required
substantial and costly changes in domestic policy.

For example, an EU directive on the disposal of refrigerators required
Britain to use special recycling plants. The absence of such plants caused
the growth of a "fridge mountain" of abandoned appliances (estimated
disposal cost between £40 million and £75 million). Similarly, prospective
countries have undertaken costly reforms to bring rules and regulations in
line with the EU standards.

Constantly evolving, the major responsibilities of the EU's three
institutions - and the political and economic domains they cover - remain
in flux. But few Europeans could possibly explain the minor and major
adjustments wrought by various treaties over the past 15 years. The
convention will have utterly failed if it cannot consolidate the changes
into an approachable document.

Though Europeans may define themselves in contrast to the US - on the
death penalty, the welfare state, and the Middle East - serious political
and economic differences among EU countries remain. The war in Iraq
illustrated divisions among European leaders, highlighting the
difficulties of implementing a common foreign and security policy. The EU
negotiates as a body in the World Trade Organization, but the Britain and
others have butted heads with France and Germany over agricultural
subsidies and various trade-related issues. And the US directs diplomatic
overtures at individual countries, rather than EU officials, demonstrating
that while the EU wields enormous economic power (its combined GDP far
exceeds that of the US), it lacks cohesive political power (usually
associated with greater military force).

The prospect of 10 new EU members raises questions about Europe's
geographic composition. Might former Yugoslavian countries join, or
Russia, a neighbor to several candidate countries? And what about Europe's
cultural identity? The convention's president, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing,
offended many by suggesting that the Islamic nature of Turkey might pose a
serious obstacle to EU membership.

The European Community was created to ensure that the wars of the 20th
century would not be repeated. And more recently, the prospect of EU
membership eased the democratic transition and political reforms in many
candidate countries. But as it takes on more countries and more
responsibilities, an all-encompassing European identity becomes ever more
elusive.

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

Organic Chutzpah

- Joe Rosen

Alex Avery's "Organic Bed Getting Uncomfortable" (in which U.S. organic
farmers complain about not being able to sell their produce because they
set the "contamination" bar too low) brings to mind the Yiddish word,
"chutzpah", which can be loosely defined as balls or outrageous nerve.

A good example of "chutzpah" is the man who admits to murdering his
parents but then demands that the court not punish him because he is now
an orphan.

--
From Prakash:

The American Heritage Dictionary (www.bartleby.com) - chutzpah - Utter
nerve; effrontery: "has the chutzpah to claim a lock on God and morality"

Merriam-Webster OnLine (www.m-w.com) - "chutz·pah ; also chutz·pa;
Yiddish khutspe, from Late Hebrew huspAh - supreme self-confidence :
NERVE, GALL"

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

AgBioView Losing Its Only EU Insider? Hope Not..

- Anders Buch Kristensen

Dear Mr Prakash

I send you this letter proving that your book have some major errors: "It
is not a fair way you have for discussing matters in agbioworld. Every
point from me is in the same issue "answered" by some nonsense from you
who run the system.

In the mail dated 6. June Mr Conko claim that I have confirmed his point
"Similarly, a state in the EU can not commercialise a GMO on its own". But
this was not your point in your book, which I objected against. In this
book you wrote:

"Further problems stem from the fact that new bio engineered plant
varieties must be approved by all 15 member nations in the European Union
before they can be grown by farmers or sold as food. The objection of any
one government can prevent the new variety from being granted EU
approval".

Even through I agree with agbioworld in the main point: that GMOs
generally are safe and necessary in order to feed the world and improve
the life of farmers in less favoured areas of the world, I am disappointed
with the one sided way that nearly all contributors contribute to the
discussion."

Without publishing this letter you let Mr Conko answer: "I think the
disagreement between Kristensen and me stems from his nit-picking over
word usage. If I had it to do over again, I would change the wording of
the two sentences Kristensen objects to, because I can see how someone
might get the wrong impression. That said, I've made it clear over and
over again what it is that I believe, and Kristensen just won't give in.
He wants to find something to complain about, so he continues to believe
that I meant something different".

Well he kind of admits the error, but make me a "nit-picking over word
usage" and let the reader believe that it is me who will not give in. This
nonsense is exactly what I reacted against. Now you have lost your only
participant from inside the EU decision making process and can continue to
tell its other that your are right and clever, and by making false
representations of the EU point of view make every body else look stupid.

- Kind regards, Anders Buch Kristensen PhD
--
From Prakash: I have written to Anders expressing my regret and apology
for the oversight in not posting his earlier email which was essentially
the first part of his email above.

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E-mail Conference on Regulation of GMOs

- From FAO Biotech News, http://www.fao.org/biotech/index.asp

The FAO e-mail conference entitled "Regulating GMOs in developing and
transition countries", which began on 28 April, finished on 1 June 2003.
There was a large number of excellent contributions, covering a wide
breadth of key issues such as why developing countries need regulations
covering GMOs, what kinds of regulations they should be, what risks should
be assessed within the regulatory framework, how GMOs should be regulated
compared to conventional crops and whether economic aspects should be
included in the GMO regulatory framework.

The messages are available at http://www.fao.org/biotech/logs/c9logs.htm
or can be requested as a single e-mail (size 154 KB) from
biotech-admin@fao.org.

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OECD - Accessing Agricultural Biotechnology in Emerging Economies

- From FAO Biotech News, http://www.fao.org/biotech/index.asp

This 112-page publication entitled "Accessing agricultural biotechnology
in emerging economies", published by the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD) in May 2003, brings together two
framework papers that were presented and discussed at a workshop entitled
"OECD Global Forum on the Knowledge Economy: Modern Agricultural
Biotechnology in Non-Member Countries", held on 18-19 November 2002 in
Paris, France.

The first paper, by J. Falck-Zepeda, J. Cohen and J. Komen, discusses
methods to assess the impacts of modern agricultural biotechnology, The
second paper, by E.J. Trigo, focuses on designing a country and policy
typology for developing countries based on their capacities in the field
of agricultural biotechnology. Both papers were discussed in the workshop
and were revised and updated based on the discussions and written comments
received from participants.

See http://www.oecd.org/pdf/M00041000/M00041637.pdf (559 Kb) or contact
icgb@oecd.org for more information.


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From Farm to Fork, Risks Persist

- Barry James, International Herald Tribuen, June 11, 2003
Full Story at http://www.iht.com/articles/99161.html

'How safe is your food? The dangers lurk in the unlikeliest places..In
dishcloths, for example'.

A recent survey of restaurants and cafés in Britain recently found that 9
out of 10 dishcloths were contaminated with potentially harmful microbes.
.On supermarket meat counters. When scientists investigated ground beef,
turkey, chicken and pork in Washington supermarkets a couple of years ago,
they found salmonella in one-fifth of the samples, with 85 percent of
those pathogens resistant to at least one kind of antibiotic. .No wonder
eggs sunny side up and rare hamburgers are now officially unsafe.

But just how dangerous is the food we eat? .The Centers for Disease
Control in Atlanta estimates that food-related illnesses kill 5,000
Americans each year and that 76 million Americans a year get some form of
food poisoning, 325,000 of them seriously enough to need hospital
treatment. .In Europe, nobody knows the extent of the problem because
figures are not collected centrally, but it is serious enough for Romano
Prodi to have made it his top priority when he took over as president of
the European Commission, the European Union's executive body, four years
ago. At the time, many people were traumatized by food scares, including
mad cow disease and dioxin contamination.

Even without taking genetic modification into account, defining food
becomes ever more difficult at a time of rapid technological change. There
is, for example, the fast-food strawberry milk shake that has more than 40
chemical ingredients, or the meat made from fungus, or the fake fat that's
supposed to let you eat junk food without putting on weight but caused an
outbreak of gastrointestinal distress in the United States.

Jim Murray, the director of the European Consumers Organization, says the
commission's record on food safety is "not bad, although there is still a
lot to be done." He places the responsibility for shortcomings not so much
on the commission as on the EU member governments, which are often accused
of putting the interests of the agricultural and food-processing
industries ahead of those of consumers.

"Very significant levels of food poisoning seem to be largely attributable
to the fact that people just don't take the kind of precautions our
grandparents used to," Podger said. "They don't wash their hands. They
don't store food at the right temperature. They don't stop raw chicken
dripping on the cooked meat. They don't throw things out of the fridge
when the time is up. I think the real truth is that because we live in a
gadget society, people think gadgets do everything for us."

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Biotechnology: Strategies for Growth

- Kellogg Executive Education, Technology Management, Sept 21-24, 2003
http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/execed/course/biotech/biotech.htm

To succeed in today's hyper-competitive marketplace, biotechnology
companies must develop corporate strategies for the identification,
capturing and creation of value drivers. This program offers you the
principles you need to develop, assess and communicate value-based
strategies in the complex biotech environment.

Topics include building value through capital, joint ventures, alliances,
mergers, and acquisitions. The challenge is to know when and how to
implement different tools to create a highly dynamic and resilient
strategy. The Kellogg School of Management's world-class faculty will help
you to answer both of these questions so that you will be more equipped to
lead your biotech company to success. Case studies, group discussions and
special guest speakers complement the frameworks presented by the Kellogg
School faculty.

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Science Informing Society

- The National Council for Science and the Environment
http://www.ncseonline.org/

The Council envisions a society where environmental decisions are based on
an accurate understanding of the underlying science, its meaning, and its
limitations. In such a society, citizens and decisionmakers receive
accurate, understandable, and integrated science-based information. They
understand the risks, uncertainties, and potential consequences of their
action or inaction.

The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) has been
working since 1990 to improve the scientific basis for environmental
decisionmaking. For its efforts, the Council has earned a reputation for
objectivity, responsibility, and achievement.

The Council believes that comprehensive and integrated science can help
society achieve its environmental goals in the most effective manner,
recognizing economic, social, and security implications. The Council ’s
approach to science is embodied in the new phrase ‘sustainability
science.’

Supported by over 500 academic, scientific, environmental, and business
organizations, and by federal, state and local government, the Council
works closely with the many communities that create and use environmental
knowledge to make and shape environmental decisions. As an organization
where diverse communities can find common ground, the Council focuses on
the role of science but does not take positions on environmental issues
themselves.

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Job Searching in Biotech

http://www.sciencejobs.com/

From Prakash: This is run by the New Scientist magazine and in association
with Cell, BioMedNet and ChemWeb.com. It helps posts job announcements and
graduate assistantships from employers primarily in biology, and has a
good search profile and email alert system.