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June 18, 2003


Protectionism Beneath Unfounded Fears; Robin Hood of GM; Thalidom


Today in AgBioView: June 19, 2003:

* Making Sure the Poor Stay Hungry
* Will Protectionism Trump Science?
* US Campaigns for Biotech Foods at WTO
* India's GM Seed Piracy
* On Thalidomide
* 'Independent' If No Funding from Monsanto; Pusztai Laments..
* GE Grass Good News for Hayfever Sufferers
* GM Grass
* Fitting Alternative to Controversial GM Foods?
* Coffee Without a Buzz?
* Precautionary Principle website by IUCN
* Testimony by FDA and EPA Officials in US Congresss
* Environmentalists Would Deny Flush Toilets to World's Poor
* Is Food Terrorism On Menu?
* Stay out of politics Prince Charles, says Lord Sainsbury

Making Sure the Poor Stay Hungry

- Deroy Murdock, Scripps Howard News Service, June 19, 2003

Don't be fooled by the scruffy beards and embroidered Guatemalan vests of
typical anti-biotech protesters. They only look like homespun, grassroots

In fact, they usually belong to an under-scrutinized network of
generously-funded activist groups, well-endowed charities and
self-interested organic food producers. They collectively hog-tie
companies that make genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). Nearly
invisible here are the citizens of developing nations who would benefit by
these advances if these Luddites would stand down.

Communications strategist Jay Byrne pays close attention to the men and
women behind this curtain. As he told the American Enterprise Institute on
June 12, these organics - among the fiercest agitators at global summits
from Seattle onward - hardly survive on the sales of veggie-burritos.

In 2001, 30 leading anti-biotech groups Byrne analyzed spent $341.4
million, including Greenpeace USA's $23,748,737, Environmental Defense's
$38,794,150 and the Natural Resources Defense Council's $41,625,882.

Between 1996 and 2001, this crusade's lavish underwriters included the
MacArthur Foundation ($11,906,500), the Ford Foundation ($39,978,020) and
the Pew Charitable Trusts ($130,996,900). Granted, these organizations
address numerous issues. But they spend plenty to allege the dangers of
"Frankenfoods:" primarily genetically-modified grains and produce. The
Sierra Club, for instance, wants "a moratorium on the planting of
genetically engineered crops." And anti-biotech guru Jeremy Rifkin calls
GMO proliferation "a form of annihilation every bit as deadly as nuclear

Frightened? Don't be. Agricultural cross-breeding began about 8,000 B.C.
Today, more than 34 percent of American corn is genetically modified, as
are 78 percent of U.S. soybeans and much of your grocer's produce. Some
3,500 international scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, have signed
the AgBio World Foundation's Declaration of Support for Agricultural

"Both scientific theory and two decades of experience with gene-spliced
crops and foods derived from them demonstrate the safety and usefulness of
these products," says the Hoover Institution's Dr. Henry Miller, M.D,
former director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology.

Some anti-GMO donors, meanwhile, are remarkably self-serving. "A
considerable part of the anti-biotech-activist bankroll comes from organic
and other 'natural' food marketers who relish the thought of injuring
their conventional competitors by supporting unscientific scaremongers,"
says David Martosko, research director at the Center for Consumer Freedom
in Washington.

These outfits include the Organic Trade Association, Wild Oats Markets and
Whole Foods Markets. These companies are reputed paragons of "corporate
social responsibility." Yet by subsidizing these superstitions, they
perpetuate the suffering of poor Asians, Latins and Africans.

--- Some 500,000 children go blind annually due to Vitamin A deficiency,
the World Health Organization estimates. "Golden Rice," bio-fortified with
Vitamin A-enhancing beta carotene, fights blindness, diarrhea, measles and

Golden, shmolden, Greenpeace responds. It called this innovation "Fool's
Gold" in a February 2001 communique from Manila. Greenpeace helpfully
added: "The only long-term solution is to work on the root causes of
poverty and to ensure access to a diverse and healthy diet." Why didn't
the Filipinos think of (ital) that (endital)?

This attitude has hobbled Golden Rice's development as the future for
thousands of destitute kids fades to black.

--- Brazilian farmers want herbicide-resistant soybeans whose cultivation
reduces soil erosion. Alas, Greenpeace's lobbying and local officials'
wishes to export produce to GMO-wary Europe have steered this product away
from Brazil.

--- Kenyan agronomist Dr. Florence Wambugu and Monsanto spent three years
producing a virus-resistant sweet potato that, as she told Forbes
magazine, "holds the promise of feeding some of the 800 million
chronically undernourished people in the world." Unimpressed,
eco-terrorists with Earth Liberation Front (ELF) destroyed her lab and
test crops.

"If they don't want it, they don't have to have it," Wambugu said. "We're
dying, so can we eat first?"

Like ELF, Greenpeace militants have killed GM crops. Ben & Jerry's,
Patagonia and Ted Turner have financed the Ruckus Society, a group that
trains eco-extremists.

Ironically, GMO seeds often require fewer pesticides and boost crop
yields, thus limiting property needed for farming. This liberates land for
flora and fauna. Even better, impoverished yellow, brown and black
children can reach adulthood. Rather than celebrate these dreams come
true, extravagantly-funded eco-freaks sabotage these breakthroughs.

Where's the social responsibility in that?

(New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard
News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford


Will Protectionism Trump Science?

- Rep. Nick Smith (US House of Rep), TechCentral Station, June 19, 2003

In the summer of 1999, the journal Nature published a study suggesting
that pollen from genetically modified corn might harm monarch butterfly
populations, sparking a worldwide controversy over transgenic food crops.
While follow-up studies have proven the pollen presents no danger to
monarchs, the foundations of fear had been set, and soon other allegations
regarding the safety of plant biotechnology emerged.

In response, the House Science Subcommittee on Research, which I chair,
held a series of hearings investigating the potential benefits and safety
concerns associated with plant biotechnology. Our findings, compiled in a
comprehensive report Seeds of Opportunity, showed that crops developed
through biotech were just as safe as those developed through conventional
means. We concluded that regulatory decisions should be based on the
characteristics of the product, not the process by which it was developed.

Today, more than three years since we released the report, its findings
still hold true, and are now backed by an even greater body of scientific
evidence supporting the safety of genetically modified crops. For these
reasons, the Bush administration was right to announce that the United
States would move ahead with a World Trade Organization challenge to the
European Union's import ban on genetically modified (GM) crops.

Since the announcement, many have focused on the potential of the move to
further damage already strained relations with European allies. Nature
opined that the United States action "opened hostilities" in a transgenic
trade war, and The New York Times said the move was "almost certain to
exacerbate the divisions between Washington and Europe that emerged before
the war in Iraq."

But any reasonable examination of the facts surrounding the challenge
reveal that, like U.S. efforts with the United Nations leading up to the
Iraq War, the Bush administration is simply working to see that rules
negotiated and agreed upon by an international body are enforced.

WTO rules, while allowing countries to reject imports on the basis of
health and environmental concerns, require that any such policy be
supported by scientific evidence. However, the EU has refused to process
new applications for trade of transgenic food crops since 1998 without
even attempting to demonstrate a compelling scientific reason for the ban,
effectively denying American farmers more than $300 million annually from
corn exports alone.

It is difficult to conclude anything except that the trade "hostilities"
originated with the EU's baseless protectionism. Even EU Environment
Commissioner Margot Wallstrom has admitted as much, saying almost three
years ago, "We have already waited too long to act. The moratorium is
illegal and not justified." Fortunately, unlike the United Nations, the
WTO is a respected and useful international body, largely independent of
the political influences that paralyze the U.N., and there is no reason to
believe that the United States and the 12 other countries supporting our
case will lose the challenge.

Enter Africa. While the EU stance on GM crops is simply an unfair economic
burden on American farmers, it is also, as President Bush rightly charged
recently, an unjust burden upon the world's poorest continent. With
approximately 180 million undernourished people, and perennial low yields
brought on by drought, insects, and other disasters, Africa stands to
benefit tremendously from GM crops.

Yet, the EU is exploiting Africa's dependency on the EU as a trading
partner to stall acceptance of GM crops. For example, with its population
literally starving last year, Zambia rejected 23,000 metric tons of U.S.
food aid because of fears that Europe would respond by rejecting its
future corn exports. Perhaps more importantly, there is also at least some
evidence that EU pressure is impeding research on new transgenic crop
varieties critical to bringing Africa closer to sustainability. In Uganda,
where pests have devastated banana crops in recent years, a biotech
variety ready for field trials was left in the freezer because of trade
concerns. The House Research Subcommittee will be examining the barriers
to biotech R&D in Africa in more detail at an upcoming hearing.

Sound science, not protectionism masquerading beneath a thin veil of
unfounded fears, should drive trade and regulatory decisions associated
with transgenic food crops. The U.S. challenge moves us one step closer to
removing the unfair barriers that hurt American farmers and deny the
people of Africa a powerful tool for combating hunger.

Rep. Nick Smith, R-Mich., is chairman of the House Science Subcommittee on
Research and a member of the House Agriculture and International
Relations. Committees.


Following is the discussion of readers of TechCentral Station on above

A Politican Arguing on this site... - Dano

Well! I'm not sure why a politician is arguing for something on TCS, a
git-rid-of-gummint site. Politicians are bad, after all. Oh, wait: this
isn't a gummint argument. Never mind.

Sound science, not protectionism masquerading beneath a thin veil of
unfounded fears, should drive trade and regulatory decisions associated
with transgenic food crops. The U.S. challenge moves us one step closer to
removing the unfair barriers that hurt American farmers and deny the
people of Africa a powerful tool for combating hunger.

Interesting boilerplate. Rep. Smith is going to replace the ineffectual
politicians in Africa who caused this mess. He then is going to replace
the ag. infrastructure, including giving them rain and a distribution
network. Rep. Smith is going to cure AIDS so the farmers stop dying so
they can work the land and drive distribution vehicles. He then is going
to remove the American tariffs on foreign crops to make a Free MarketTM so
we buy all those African crops, including hemp.

After all, we wouldn't expect countries to remove their tariffs without
removing ours in good faith, right? Right? Rep. Smith will ensure we buy
African GM crops - crops that we already have as a surplus, already have
to give away to Africa. Crops that we grow here, but now want to purchase
because they are grown halfway across the planet. Sure.

Rep. Smith is then going to remove Intellectual Property restrictions on
GM seed so dirt-poor African farmers don't get sued by Monsanto for
planting seed. I think that's where the money will be made, if in fact
chemical companies want to make money off of GM crops (and not, say, have
gene flow into the gene pool). Rep. Smith will also ensure Monsanto
lowers the price on their IP seed so African farmers can afford it - it is
hard to tell how likely this is, with the pharma cartel's past actions.

Rep. Smith will ensure Murrican farmers continue to get their price after
African crops flood the market (presumably after the 'high-yielding' GMOs
miraculously feed the hungry of Africa after the crops harvest and
distribute themselves). Rep. Smith has a lot of big plans - too bad they
sound like they are packaged in a bottle of snake oil. Another politican's

Response From Raymond:
Dano, your level of cynicism is frightening. Even politicians get to
participate in public debate. Regardless of all of Africa's problems, pest
resistant, disease resistant, higher yielding crops would certainly reduce
famine there to some extent. As for our over production the Archer Daniel
Midland subsidy boondoggle will soon seem far sighted. As South East
Asia, China and India constinue to develop their energy demands will
increase stretching current oil demand. While some of this will be met
with new exploration as currently uneconomical reserves become profitable
to tap, at some point the ethonal will become economical and we already
have a nascent infrastructure in place for it.
From Frank
No Dano, Rep Smith is presenting, you are arguing. Hmm, on second
thought, Dano ISN'T arguing. Does anybody remember the classic Monty
Python skit? 'You're not arguing, you're just disagreeing with everything
I say' 'On no I'm not!'

From Kyle: Another fine example of what passes for liberal thought. Most
of this post snidely lists Africa's many problems as a smokescreen for the
lack of an argument regarding GM crops. The rest is either snide remarks
about TCS's 'anti-gummit' philosophy or complete red herrings like African
crops soon flooding the global market. Dano has exemplified the poverty of
'liberal thought' twice in one day.
From: J. Keen Holland -- Dano, I'm disappointed. You are capable of more
effective argumentation.
' ... crops that we already have as a surplus, already have to give away
to Africa.'

Do you mean to say that the US should not attempt to provide food aid to
starving people in Zimbabwe, or just that we should not buy the grain we
offer them on the American market? Or maybe all the handwringing about
starving Zimbabweans is just propaganda ploy by the 'Murricans' to
embarass the wonderfully successful, efficient and productive economy
there under the enlightened, scientific socialism of Robert Mugabe?
Science: A strange double standard. We were willing to go to war on pretty
thin 'proven science' but not willing to apply 'judgement' to unknown long
term consequences of genetically modified food.

From George - You just admitted that you don't either. Review the
pronouncement of the Club of Rome, in the 1970's, when that predicted that
we would be freezing and starving by 2000. Get real, your intellectual
model, is useless. Life goes on ever when hecklers freeze and die, in
belief which are not have no usefulness.


US Campaigns for Biotech Foods at WTO

- Marie D. Ricciardone, Ph.D., BusinessWorld, June 18, 2003

European Union (EU) policies over the last five years have undermined the
development and use of agricultural biotechnology and consistently
violated World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. The WTO Sanitary and
Phytosanitary (SPS) agreement recognizes that countries are entitled to
regulate crops and food products to protect health and the environment,
but stipulates that countries must have "sufficient scientific evidence"
for such measures and must operate their approval procedures without
"undue delay." In clear violation of these rules, EU member states have,
since 1998, blocked regulatory approval of new agricultural biotechnology
products without presenting any scientific evidence of danger to human

Thus, on May 13, the United States, Argentina, Canada, and Egypt filed a
WTO case against the EU over its moratorium on approving agricultural
biotechnology products. Australia, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras,
Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Uruguay, and others quickly joined the
scientifically and legally supported suit. The US and its allies do not
expect the EU to approve agricultural biotechnology products
automatically, but only seek to ensure that it applies a scientific,
rules-based review and approval process.

Scientific studies have shown that bio-engineered foods currently on the
market are as safe as conventional varieties. The Vatican's Pontifical
Academy of Sciences has endorsed biotech crops, declaring that "there is
nothing intrinsic about genetic modification that would cause food
products to be unsafe." Even the French Academy of Sciences noted that 300
million Americans have been eating bioengineered corn and soybeans for
years without adverse health effects.

In fact, bioengineered foods have many positive benefits. They are good
for the Earth: by reducing soil erosion and pesticide use, they create
more hospitable environments for wildlife, and because they can thrive in
poor soil and yield more from the land, they discourage encroachment on
rainforests. But biotech crops are also good for people: in Africa, where
80% of some crops are lost to lack of rain, bioengineered drought-tolerant
crops would help feed hungry and malnourished populations. And looking
ahead, we expect biotechnology will soon deliver a second wave of crop
varieties that will enhance the nutritional quality of our food, such as
the vitamin A-fortified "golden rice."

Agricultural biotechnology continues a long tradition of innovation in
farming. Historically, humankind has harnessed science to boost
agricultural productivity, quality and choices. Bioengineered food, the
latest scientific advance, promises tremendous benefits for health,
nutrition, and the environment - in both developed and developing

Unfortunately, the EU moratorium on approving these potentially helpful
crops impacts countries far beyond Europe. In the fall of 2002, some
famine-stricken southern African nations refused US food aid because of
ill-informed health and environmental concerns and fears that their
exports to Europe would be jeopardized by "contamination" of local crops.
The poor should not go hungry because of a scientifically unjustified
trade barrier.

Those who claim that the US is trying to force biotech foods on consumers
have actually reversed the situation. It is the EU's unilateral and
illegal actions, taken without any scientific, health, or environmental
basis, that constrain choice and opportunity. Farmers worldwide have
recognized the economic, agricultural, and environmental benefits of
biotech crops, but the EU has erected a trade barrier that impedes
widespread use of a technology that could benefit producers and consumers
everywhere, especially in the developing world. In bringing this case
before the WTO, the US and others are seeking to enforce regulations that
maximize consumer freedom while simultaneously protecting consumer health
and safety.

The US and the Philippines have adopted sound science-based approaches to
regulating agricultural biotechnology. Approval of Bt corn - the first
biotech crop assessed for safety under the rigorous commercialization
guidelines - is an important milestone for sustainable agriculture in the
Philippines, and indeed in the entire region. In-country field trials for
Bt corn demonstrated higher production yields, increased farmer income,
and control of the Asiatic corn borer without harmful insecticide
spraying. Filipino farmers, small and large, now have access to a
technology that will increase productivity and reduce dependence on

Farmers, consumers, and the environment will all benefit.
Marie D. Ricciardone, Ph.D., is a molecular biologist. She directs the
US-Asia Environmental Partnership at the US Agency for International


India's GM Seed Piracy

- Pallab Ghosh, BBC News, June 17,2003


The farmers here like genetic modification (GM). In fact, they like it so
much they are illegally cross-breeding Monsanto's insect-resistant cotton
with local plants to create their own GM varieties. A BBC investigation
has confirmed widespread use of pirate seeds.

Our Delhi correspondent, Geeta Pandey, and I went to the town of Mansa,
which is the centre of the trade, to see if we could track down some of
the illegal material. The market town is in the agricultural heart of
Gujarat; it is in the wild west of India with its own set of rules and its
own set of values. Last year, Gujarat was one of first Indian states to
grow Monsanto's novel cotton crop.

Local requirements. The plant contains genetic material taken from a
bacterium. The modification makes the cotton plant's tissues lethal to
insect pests, including the economically damaging bollworm. But farmers
here claim to have been using their own illegal versions of this so-called
BT Bollgard for several years. And it is thought that a half of all the GM
seed now sold in the state is pirated.

As we walked along the bustling high street, we came across a stall
belting out the latest indie hits - no doubt the usual pirate copies. This
is very much the chaotic Indian way: pirate tapes, pirate designer clothes
and now pirate GM seeds.

We continued on until we came to one of the many seed shops in Mansa.
Geeta applied her charm and persuaded the manager to bring out some of the
pirated seed, supposedly "bought from a nearby stall". The seed is made
from cross-fertilising the Bollgard plant with local cotton varieties more
suited to the unique Gujarat climate - or so it is claimed.

Old ways, new ways. The pirate seed was half the price of the Monsanto
product - and as the shop owner became less coy, he explained how last
year the illegal varieties had done better than the US agro-giant's
original version. He said he had begun planting illegal seed himself and
took us off to see his two-hectare (five acres) farm.

As we walked along the fields, one of the manager's friends told us there
were now several illegal varieties containing the bacterium gene. The
fields around us had become an unregulated, open-air laboratory for
genetic engineering. Eventually, we arrived at the manager's small plot.
The seed had just begun to sprout and to be frank it looked less healthy
than the official Monsanto crop planted in a neighbouring field. But as he
emphasised to us, his seed was cheaper and he was a poor farmer.

The leader of the Gujarat farmers, Lalshankar Upadhyay, is pressing the
state government to legalise seed piracy. As far as he is concerned,
farmers have been creating their own varieties to suit their needs for
centuries. It is just that now they are doing it with GM. We asked him if
he could take us to the man who is alleged to have started seed piracy in
India - DB Desay. He has become known as the "Robin Hood of GM".

Unforeseen consequences. We followed Mr Upadhyay's car as it hurtled along
at 100 kilometres per hour to an unknown location. We met Mr Desay, who
said he was not able to give an interview for legal reasons - but he did
serve us a very pleasant cup of tea.

I asked him if he liked being called a Robin Hood. "I don't know," he
said. "All these legal problems I have..." I interjected: "But you are
popular." He replied: "No one can doubt that." And he laughed.

The trade in illegal seed has become a major issue of concern for
Monsanto. The company's director of communication here, Ranjana Smetcheck,
said it feared unregulated GM planting could lead to crop failures.
Monsanto's Indian partner has now lodged an official complaint with the
Gujarat government, asking it to clamp down on seed piracy.


On Thalidomide

- Jeff Hall

Thomas DeGregori's comments on thalidomide in his article "But Scientists
Are the Ones Who Said..." are well put, but incomplete. His final
statement "But who wants the tough job of rehabilitating thalidomide's
public relations status?" has actually been answered by the American
biotechnology company Celgene who for the last 4 years have been
successfully selling thalidomide as an FDA approved drug to treat leprosy,
and who also have it in clinical trials for several cancer indications
including multiple myeloma.

A great book which details the entire history of thalidomide including
it's current successful rehabilitation is the 2001 book "Dark Remedy" by
Rock Brynner and Trent Stephens. This drug has great benefits and it has
risks as well, which can be mitigated by careful monitoring of any women
of child bearing age who are taking it. It has become a successful product
and treats an import (and mainly 3rd World) disease. Regarding this type
of risk/benefit scenario, it seems to me there may be parallels between
thalidomide and the use of DDT today.

It is also of note that thalidomide was being widely used in Europe in the
late 50s/early 60s while it's approval in the US by the FDA lagged and
fortunately it's teratogenic side effects were caught before approval to
market the drug was granted. Thus good science and good regulatory
mechanisms prevailed, another lesson which the anti-GMO crowd might do
well to consider. This example also shows the error of the idea that
Americans are somehow less cautious than Europeans in their regulation of
businesses and in their concern for the public health and well being.

-- Dr. Jeff Hall, Genoptix, Inc. San Diego, California


'Independent' If No Funding from Monsanto

- Chris Gliddon, UK

Dear All, I have just seen the summary of a report compiled by a so-called
panel of independent scientists at http://www.i-sis.org.uk/

For those of you whou know this site, you will not be surprised to see
that the panel of scientists are defined as being 1) not sullied by
connections with the 'Monsantos of this world' and 2) be friends of Mae
Wan Ho. There may be one or two other members but my categorisation is
pretty robust.

I have two questions:
1) How can this panel be described as any more independent than a set of
scientists part funded by the agrochemical industry?

2) Has anybody got more than a view of a summary of this report since the
link to it on the i-sis web site gives an Error 404: page not available
and their webmaster has not replied to my report of this.

Yours in continued exasperation, -- Chris (Dr. Chris Gliddon, School of
Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor, UK)

More From Chris:

Here is a quote from Arpad Pusztai, a member if the 'Independent Science
Panel' and published on their site at http://www.indsp.org/

Dr. Arpad Pusztai, formerly of Rowett Institute, Scotland: "Many
scientists and the lay public hungry for information have been struck by
the scarcity of published data relevant to the safety of GM foods. Not
only that, the scientific quality of what has been published is, in most
instances, not up to the usually expected standards of good science."

Need he say more?
From Prakash:

Dr. Pusztai can visit


GE Grass Good News for Hayfever Sufferers

- Royal Society News, June 19, 2003; via Lifesciences Network (NZ)

Scientists in Australia have developed genetically engineered grass that
could ease the woes of hayfever sufferers. The GE hypoallergenic grass
has been altered so it lacks two common hayfever allergens, which should
reduce itchy eyes and stuffy noses.

"The beauty of this grass is that it will benefit the wider public,"
German Spangenberg, of the Plant Biotechnology Centre at La Trobe
University in Melbourne, Australia, told New Scientist magazine on
Wednesday. He and his team modified ryegrasses which are used for lawns
and pastures around the world and are the main cause of hayfever in Europe
and Australia. In the United States ragweed is the main culprit.

The scientists plan to begin field trials of the GE grass in the United
States in November to determine how far its pollen travels and whether it
pollinates other grasses. Contamination of natural crops by GE organisms
is one of the major worries about the technology.

"Safeguards will be included to minimise the chances of the grass and its
pollen escaping," the magazine said, adding that it will be at least five
years before the sniffle-free grass is on the market.


On GM Grass

- Gordon Couger

{Note From Prakash: Now, before some of our whactivist friends get too
excited, Gordon is not talking about the THC type that they like so much
;) }

I have been after Monsanto to develop a Round Up resistant buffalo grass.
This is low growing fine bladed grass that is very drought resistant. It
one of the climax grasses in eastern New Mexico and needs far less water
then almost any other turf grass. There are varities that make a lovely
lawn and it reseeding. In good gowning conditions it only needs mowing 1/3
to 1/2 as much a most grasses and yet it will out compete them in dry

All that would be need to seed the law would be to spray it with round up
and seed it, keep it watered and kill the weeds with Round Up. A process
anyone can make work and could reduce the water need of the west a very
great deal. Using a different strain of buffalo grass pastures could be
renovated at an affordable piece for buffalo grass is like ice cream to
cattle carrying it nutrients well into the winter.

The real benefit would be water savings in the drought prone west. No
matter how funny the joke laying a half inch pipe like from Los Angeles to
the Mississippi River will not solve southern California's water problem
no matter how bad L.A. sucks. The detractors call attention to the
profits to farmers, cooperators, but fail to mention the benefits to the

Cotton uses 25% of the insecticide in the world and first generating BT
cotton can cut that to 12% or more. RR crops can remove a plethora of
persistent farm chemicals that issue forth form the vomitoriums of the
chemical companies of the world with a herbicide that is inactive as soon
as it touches the soil and kill only what it contacts. The life of the
break down product in the soil are short had so far no one has found them
to cause any harm.

The biggest benefits for the environment are derived form minimum tillage
an not till faming were steel never stirs the plow or only stirs small
part of it leaving the bulk of the soil undisturbed and not oxidizing the
organic material in the soil, kill the soils organisms and waste moisture
by producing a dry layer as deep as you till if it doesn't rain soon.

Instead you get a soil surface immune to wind erosion with greatly reduced
exposure to water erosions and all the silt and fertilizer and any other
chemical in the soil out of the water and save 50 to 80% of the fuel to
raise the crop. Finally it provides a carbon sync that is close to meeting
the abandoned Kyoto CO2 standards for the US.

I drove my dad to our home place on father's day and he had the best stand
of cotton in the area, that means it burns up first, the wheat was cut and
his tenant had it looking better than any place in the area. I stopped
buy a sandy ridge that is real bad about blowing and found the cotton
planed in trash and stand wheat stubble. http://www.couger.com/farm The
cotton was just this size for blowing sand to kill it and the ground was
ready to work and there was not a sand fighter reuniting any were because
the sand in those no till and limited till fields won't blow. Another
piece of steel won't touch that soil unit after harvest and only then when
the stalk shrewder hits a rough spot and digs in the ground.

Soybeans are over 70% of soybeans no till and limited till. That lots of
fuel not burned and a lot of carbon tied up in the soil for at least 15

The organic methods that the greens promote accelerate erosion on every
acre over GM arecas and for ever GM acre it takes 2 organic acers to
produce the same crop. The cherry picked studies that publish look better
than that but I remember farming wiht organic methods and just a few
pounds of fertile doubted he yields. They feed you bull shit about animal
manure taking the place of man made fertilizer it may do it but we ran a
500 head feed lot on 240 acres and all the manure it produced didn't
provide enough fertilizer for he farm. If we hired 2 or 3 hands to spread
the manure every day it would have don better but the money for their
wages would buy fertilizer for 3 more places.

I famed organically and learned better ways. I famed next to farmers that
stayed with the old ways, I rented land from people that didn't believe in
fertilizer and would pay for it the first year. There never was one that
wasn't asking when do we fertilize the second year and ready to pay their

A reasoned debate requires reasonable people. The people opposing modern
agriculture are not using reason but the methods of Hitler and Gerbils
combating lies, sabotoge and organized disinformation attracts do not call
for a reasoned response. They require for showing the promoter of the
message for what they are. Treating them with reason gives them standing
that they don't deserve.


That is as civil as I care to be.

As a long time farmer, retired, precision agriculture researcher, retired
and active land lord of land that has been in the family since 1874. I
have real intersted in the care of the land and it being in a as good or
better shape for my great grand children than it is for me.

If the greens have their way there won't be any productivity left by the
end of my life and I am 60 years old. The only thing regularly practice
that is more damaging on the land that organic agriculture is slash and
burn tropical agriculture. Organic methods accelerate erosion, unbalance
fertility and fail to take modern methods that could help them as being
wrong because they are new. Remember I farmed this way an know what
happens out on the Great Plains were the only manure comes from antelope
and 30 cows to the square mile.

I can make organic farming work on Washita River bottom land by making
Alfalfa my number one case crop and using wheat an wheat and cotton to get
ground ready for hay ground.


Fitting Alternative to Controversial GM Foods?

- FoodNavigator.com, June 18, 2003

Low-saturated fat foods, enhanced flavours, foods without allergens – all
this is possible without any tampering of DNA material. US company Anawah
has received several million dollars to support its work that combines
molecular biology and traditional plant breeding to develop improved food
products. Unlike genetically modified foods, the products produced by
Anawah contain no foreign DNA.

The food and agricultural research and development company announced
recently that it has secured $6 million in financing from CMEA Ventures,
Milepost Ventures and German-based BASF Venture Capital, the VC arm of the
leading chemical company.

Founded in 2000, [ http://www.anawah.com ]Anawah uses a proprietary
screening process to discover plant characteristics and to deliver what it
calls better tasting food.

"Anawah’s proprietary process enables the development and introduction of
higher-value whole food products for consumers more rapidly and
cost-effectively that any other method available today," said Anawah’s CEO
Ken Hunt.

The company has received $10 million to date to use its process – an
alternative to much-criticised transgenic techniques – that focuses on
discovering superior and highly valuable traits in plants which could
ultimately lead to improvements in food.


Coffee Without a Buzz? - Plants genetically modified to lose caffeine

- ALEX DOMINGUEZ, Associated Press, June 18,
2003 http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/news/6115818.htm

For those who love the full flavor of real coffee but can't handle the
kick, the genetics revolution may have a solution.

Researchers say they have genetically engineered coffee plants that have
70 percent less caffeine than usual in their leaves. The crucial question
for brewing coffee - whether beans from those plants will have less
caffeine - won't be known for three to four years when the plants mature,
said study author Shinjiro Ogita.

However, the results indicate it should be possible, according to the
researcher's report in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. The
researchers at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology in Japan used
RNA interference - an increasingly popular genetic tool - to manipulate
the plant, interfering with the gene responsible for an enzyme used to
make caffeine.

Experts contend a caffeine-free bean would be an improvement over current
decaffeination processes, which use water or organic solvents to remove
the stimulant from the beans before they are roasted, taking out some
flavor and aroma as well. Alan Crozier, a University of Glasgow researcher
who has worked on genetically modifying coffee, said the Japanese group is
the first to engineer the plants to produce less caffeine.

However, concerns about genetically modified foods and a lack of interest
by the coffee industry could slow development, Crozier said. "I suspect it
will come in first at the boutique end of the market and grow from there,"
Crozier said. "If it were to take over, clearly it's a much cheaper way to
produce decaffeinated coffee."

Pablo Dubois of the London-based International Coffee Organization, which
includes coffee-producing and consuming nations, said genetically modified
foods "are regarded with wide suspicion in Europe" and current
decaffeination processes are well established.

John Stiles, a scientist working to develop a caffeine-free coffee plant
for Waialua, Hawaii-based Integrated Coffee Technologies Inc., said the
Japanese researchers have not yet reached the commercial decaffeination
level of 97 percent.

Stiles said the Hawaiian company hopes to have plants ready for field use
in a year. While the Japanese researchers used the robusta variety of
coffee plant, Stiles said the Hawaiian work uses the more commercial
arabica variety. Ogita said the Japanese researchers are also working on
arabica plants and should be able to eventually remove all caffeine.

Coffee plants make caffeine in a three-step process. The targeted gene in
the modified plant normally prompts the plant to produce an enzyme that
carries out the second step, said Hiroshi Sano, one of the paper's
authors. RNA interference eliminates the chemical messenger the targeted
gene sends to the cell's protein-making machinery.

The researchers are also working to induce plants other than coffee to
produce caffeine, which would act as a pest repellant, Sano said. At the
Daily Grind in Baltimore, some welcomed the news of the genetically
modified coffee plant and others were as lukewarm as a half-finished

Marcia Sternbergh, 52, of Baltimore said she prefers regular coffee for
the taste, "and the jolt." At night, though, she would drink the
non-caffeine kind. Harold Cones, 60, of Newport News, Va., who has to
drink decaf because of an irregular heartbeat, said he would welcome the
new coffee because he could avoid caffeine and get the flavor.

"Oh, that would be good. There's a difference," Cones said, sipping a
decaf. "Every now and then I have a cup of real coffee and it's really
nice." While some decaf is good, Cones said it tends to get stale because
it's not ordered as much. The real thing is still the best, however.

"Sometimes, you get that cup of coffee," Cones said, "and you think you're
high in the mountains, in an old hotel, and the aroma goes up into your
sinuses and you say, 'That's a good cup of coffee.'"


IUCN Site on the Precautionary Principle

- Julian Morris

I rather enjoyed the apparent inconsistency in the following two
paragraphs on this new IUCN site on the precautionary principle ---

"Such uncertainty underpins the arguments both of those exploiting
resources, who demand evidence that exploitation causes harm before
accepting limitations, and those opposing, who seek to limit exploitation
in the absence of clear indications of sustainability.

The immediate and obvious importance of precaution in the context of NRM
and biodiversity conservation, where impacts can clearly be both serious
and irreversible, has been recognised through its endorsement by all major
biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), as well
as myriad policy and legislative instruments at all levels."

The first seems quite reasonable (and essentially negates the whole
concept of the precautionary principle, or at least implies a Goklanyesque
approach), whilst the second implies that precaution justifies (e.g.) the
arbitrary restrictions that would result from implementation of the
biosafety protocol.

BTW the site contains a links section for organisations and articles; I
encourage everyone engaged on this issue to send details of relevant
articles to the site coordinator, Rosie Cooney:

Launch of Precautionary Principle website

- Rosie Cooney June 11, 2003

Dear Colleagues, Today IUCN, Fauna & Flora International, TRAFFIC, and
ResourceAfrica launch a new website focussed on the precautionary
principle, at www.pprinciple.net. We encourage you to take a look, and to
bookmark this page, as over the coming months this site will regularly be
updated with information, announcements, calls for expressions of
interest, and publications.

This site forms part of an ongoing collaborative inititiative focussed on
assessing the operation and impacts of the precautionary principle in
natural resource management and biodiversity conservation, and developing
"best-practice" guidance for its effective and equitable application.
Currently the site provides background information on the precautionary
principle in NRM and conservation, and information about the project's
themes and activities. Towards the end of 2003 this site will be expanded
to provide a range of resources on the precautionary principle. We
encourage you to submit any relevant papers, reports and publications to
make available on this site (copyright permitting).

You are receiving this email as you have expressed interest in this
initiative, or your name has been suggested by a colleague. If you would
prefer not to receive further contacts, in order to announce project
activities or to solicit your input, please do let me know. Please reply
only to me directly.

Many thanks for your attention and cooperation,

- Dr Rosie Cooney, Coordinator, The precautionary principle project:
sustainable development, natural resource management and biodiversity
conservation (UK), A joint project of IUCN, ResourceAfrica, Fauna & Flora
International and TRAFFIC International


FDA Says No Evidence Biotech Food Unsafe

- Checkbiotech, 18 June 2003

Because of its increased precision over traditional forms of genetic
modification, bioengineering increases the predictability that a trait
introduced into a food would be desirable and reduces the risk of
introducing a detrimental trait, a senior U.S. official says.

Testifying on 17 June before a House of Representatives subcommittee,
Lester Crawford, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deputy commissioner,
said the agency has found no evidence that the more than 50 bioengineered
foods on the market are unsafe to eat.

"The evidence shows that these foods are as safe as their conventional
counterparts," he said. "Bioengineered foods and food ingredients must
adhere to the same standards of safety under the [Federal Food, Drug and
Cosmetic] Act that apply to their conventionally-bred counterparts," he

Crawford noted that scientists have been changing the genetic make-up of
plants since the late 1800s. Hybrid corn, nectarines (which are
genetically altered peaches) and tangleos (a hybrid of a tangerine and
grapefruit) are examples of such cross breeding, he said.

The FDA has guidelines and a consultative process to help food product
developers meet U.S. requirements for bioengineered foods they intend to
market, Crawford said. FDA wants to assure that compounds in the food are
safe for consumption, that no new allergens or higher levels of natural
toxicants have been introduced and that there is no reduction of nutrients
in foods being developed for market, he said. The agency also looks to see
if the food has been changed in any substantive way to require special
labelling to inform consumers.

However, the agency does not require labelling to indicate simply if a
food or ingredient is a bioengineered product, he said. FDA and other
U.S. agencies involved with international affairs and trade are working to
clarify who has authority to regulate genetically engineered crops used
for food, pharmaceuticals and industrial products, making sure crops for
those purposes are kept separate from each other, Crawford said.

The agency also is working with the Codex Alimentarius Commission's
Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology to
develop international standards for ensuring the safety of genetically
engineered foods, he added. Codex is a joint body of the U.N. Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) focused
on food safety. ce:


Statement By Lester M. Crawford, D.V.M., Ph.D., Deputy Commissioner Food
And Drug Administration
Department Of Health And Human Services Before The US Subcommittee On
Conservation, Credit, Rural Development, And Research Committee On
Agriculture United States House Of Representatives; June 17, 2003

Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I am Lester Crawford, Deputy
Commissioner of Food and Drugs. Thank you for the opportunity to testify
today on the regulatory program of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA
or the Agency) for foods derived from plants using the tools of
biotechnology, also known as genetically engineered, or bioengineered,
foods. Background

Within FDA, the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN)
oversees bioengineered plant products and ingredients intended for human
consumption. Our Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) oversees
bioengineered plant products used as animal feed or as an ingredient in
animal feed, as well as bioengineered products used to improve the health
or productivity of animals. My testimony this morning focuses on
bioengineered plant products. We believe it is very important for the
public to understand how FDA is regulating the new bioengineered foods
being introduced into the marketplace and to have confidence in that
process. Therefore, I appreciate this opportunity to describe our policies
and procedures.

First, let me state that FDA is confident that the bioengineered foods on
the U.S. market today are as safe as their conventional counterparts. This
conclusion was echoed in both a 2002 General Accounting Office report and
a report published in 2000 by the National Resource Council of the
National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The NAS report stated, "The committee
is not aware of any evidence that foods on the market are unsafe to eat as
a result of genetic modification."

Let me also clarify that in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C)
Act, food is defined as food for man or other animal. So, when I talk
about food, it also encompasses animal feed unless stated otherwise. FDA
has reviewed the data on more than 50 bioengineered food products, ranging
from herbicide resistant soybeans to a modified canola oil. To date, the
evidence shows that these foods are as safe as their conventional

In a 1992 policy statement on bioengineered foods, FDA announced that the
Agency was "not aware of any information showing that foods derived by
these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or material
way, or that, as a class, foods developed by the new techniques present
any different or greater safety concern than foods developed by
traditional plant breeding." This 1992 statement and its scientific
underpinnings still reflect FDA's thinking about bioengineered foods.

Read this document at Agnet Archives:


Testimony by EPA Official

Biotechnology In Agriculture - Stephen L. Johnson And Toxic Substances;
June 17, 2003

Statement of Stephen L. Johnson Assistant Administrator, Office of
Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency ; Before the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on
Conservation, Credit, Rural Development and Research

Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. I am pleased
to appear before you today to discuss the Environmental Protection
Agency's (EPA) role in the assessment and regulation of products produced
through biotechnology. I welcome the opportunity to participate on this
panel and explain what the Agency is doing to regulate biotechnology
products. We are working closely with our partner agencies, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) to ensure that crop plants created using biotechnology, and food
from such plants, are safe to both people and the environment.

Biotechnology holds great promise. For example, it can reduce our reliance
on some older, potentially more risky pesticides, while also reducing
potential risks to farm workers and the environment. Given these and other
potential benefits, the Agency is committed to ensuring that our
regulatory decisions are based on rigorous scientific information, the
highest scientific standards, with a high degree of transparency to ensure
our decisions are available to the public for understanding and oversight.
By following these principles, our program ensures the protection of
public health and the environment, while promoting consumer confidence in
our regulatory decisions. Biotechnology is a rapidly evolving field, and
requires that the federal government`s regulatory program similarly
advance to ensure the continued protection human health and the
environment. The Agency believes that regulated biotechnology products are
safe, provided they are used according to the approved labeling. Given our
intellectual and scientific investment in regulating biotechnology, the
Agency stands ready to meet the future challenges.

Thank you for allowing EPA to share its experience with biotechnology. The
Agency`s biotechnology program is based on five important principles:
sound science, transparency in decision making, consistency and fairness,
collaboration with regulatory partners, and building public trust. EPA
believes that the regulatory system is based on the most rigorous
scientific information available, is credible, is defensible, and will
serve to protect the environment and public health, and can evolve to meet
the important challenges that lie ahead. It is important that all parties
work together to ensure the proper oversight and management of
biotechnology so its considerable potential can be fully realized.


Elitists Would Deny Flush Toilets to World's Poor

'Environmentalists fret that this convenience will create a water crisis'

- TOM RANDALL, Knight Ridder/Tribune, June 19, 2003

CHICAGO - Environmental elitists -- friends of the Earth, but not of
mankind -- first denied developing countries the mosquito-killing benefits
of DDT. Millions of Asians and Africans have died as a result.

Then they joined forces with protectionists in Europe to persuade African
leaders not to accept shipments of genetically modified corn from the
United States that might have eased that continent's current widespread
famine and saved millions from slow death by starvation.

Now, it seems, they're intent on stepping from the cruelly absurd to the
utterly ridiculous.

A growing number of environmentalists are pushing to deny several billion
African and Asian poor people the hygienic benefits of Sir Thomas
Crapper's most famous invention -- the modern flush toilet.

Although the industrialized nations of Europe and North America have
enjoyed the convenience of the flush toilet for more than a hundred years,
the elitists who lead the environmental movement prefer that the world's
poor continued to be saddled with unsanitary outdoor toilets.

Allowing the 2 billion or so people who subsist on $2 a day to exchange a
compost toilet for a Kohler, they fret, would create an international
water crisis. The environmentalists will push their latest cause celebre
at the first annual International Dry Toilet Conference in Tampere,
Finland, in late August. Flush toilets in developing nations like China,
India and Nigeria "will just be an environmental disaster," warns Larry
Warnberg, a featured speaker at the conference. "I think it is a mistake
to inflict that costly convenience on a developing country without
realizing what the consequences are."

Eco-activists maintain that developing nations in Africa don't have the
sewage infrastructure or the water supplies to sustain a sharp increase in
flush toilets. Only 13 percent of Africa's 840 million people use flush
toilets connected to a sewer system. That compares to 100 percent of the
United States and Canada's 312 million people and 92 percent of Europe's
728 million residents.

Warnberg, who will address his fellow anti-flushers on the topic "Reducing
Regulatory Barriers to Compost Toilets," also -- perhaps not so
coincidentally -- markets a manual on how to build a do-it-yourself "dry"
toilet from his Nahcotta, Wash.,-based Web site.

Dry toilets cost about $1,000 plus labor to build using Warnberg's plans.
They cost about $2,000 to buy already manufactured. They operate by
collecting human urine and feces in a container, but require emptying by
humans on a periodic basis.

Environmentalists claim they are wonderful device for poor people in
Africa and Asia because the waste materials can be used as fertilizer to
produce larger yields from soil that lacks rich nutrients.

Gushes Tittina Repka, the secretary of the coming Finnish conference: "A
proper dry toilet system that recycles urine and feces as a compost
product brings more productivity to crops and improves the quality of the
land. It literally can help people feed themselves."

But critics like Dennis Avery, director of Global Food Issues for The
Hudson Institute and a former agricultural expert at the State Department,
says compost toilets are hazardous to humans -- and especially so in hot,
humid tropical areas. "It's dangerous," Avery asserts. "You're talking
about all kinds of bacterial perils because human manure has pathogens in
it. Those pathogens can be transferred to crops, and the flies that
compost toilets breed can spread them."

Think of your own neighborhood, Avery suggests. "Can you imagine everyone
on your block dumping their household's human waste in their backyard on a
daily basis? Think for a moment about the odor, the swarms of flies, the
public health risk."

There's more than enough water to go around. Huge amounts of rainfall like
that occurring in the Eastern part of the United States this year more
than make up for occasional droughts.

More and better reservoirs, pumping stations and pipelines to transport
water can solve the needs of developing nations without denying them the
advantage of modern sewage systems and flush toilets.
Tom Randall is a senior partner at Winningreen LLC, a consulting firm in
Chicago. Write him at trandall@winningreen.com.


Is Food Terrorism On Menu?

- Western Morning News (UK), Letter to the Editor, June 17, 2003

Barry Grundon (WMN, June 3) raises a very interesting point in the GM food
debate. Referring to the precedent of the Indian Mutiny, he speculates
that strict believers in Islam could be very upset and alarmed at the
thought of genes from forbidden foods like pig-meat being introduced into
other permitted foodstuffs.

The potential capital to be made from this by Dr al-Zawahiri, the brain
behind bin Laden, and his Islamist followers around the world, is immense.
No matter whether true or false, the accusations would be impossible to
counter in an age given to conspiracy theories.

This need not to be confined to Moslems. Many faiths and communities have
strict dietary prohibitions, and could feel profoundly offended if they
believed that these were being surreptitiously infringed by GM. This
strongly reinforces your editorial on the same day calling for effective
labelling. It made a refreshing change to see the EU position on an
agricultural subject receiving editorial support.

The biotech industry and the governments which back it could be in for a
devastating blow from an unexpected quarter. Their scientific and
materialist frame of thought is unlikely to have comprehended the possible
force of feeding which could be ranged against them on these grounds, and
have forgotten that feelings are often far more powerful than reasoning.

If the radical ayatollahs and imams take this up in a serious and
sustained campaign, then food terrorism in some form could be on its way.
As a stick to beat the secular West it would fit perfectly in their hand.

- J Ward-Hayne, Modbury, South Devon, UK

Brit Humor Continues...

'Stay out of politics Charles, says Lord Sainsbury (the unelected
billionaire Minister andmajor Labour donor)'

- Daily Mail, June 17, 2003

PRINCE Charles has been told to keep his nose out of politics - by an
unelected billionaire Minister. The Prince was criticised for getting
involved in public debates on issues such as genetically-modified foods,
organic farming and the development of nanotechnology science.

But the intervention, from 'Tony's Crony' and Science Minister Lord
Sainsbury, was attacked as ' breathtaking arrogance'. Lord Sainsbury, who
has poured pounds 11.5million into the Labour Party, has championed GM
foods in the face of overwhelming public opposition. He criticised Prince
Charles for By Jo Butler Home Affairs Correspondent making public his
opposition to GM foods on environmental grounds.

The Minister said Charles would do well to follow the Queen's record of
staying out of politics. 'It is at least debatable that these issues are
political and therefore the Royal Family should not get involved,' he told
Saga magazine Critics said it was 'a bit rich' for an unelected Minister
to tell the Prince of Wales he had no right to speak up for ordinary

It was also pointed out that Lord Sainsbury retains a financial interest
in GM foods through a blind trust. Tory MP Michael Fabricant said: 'I do
not understand how he feels so well placed to attack the Prince of Wales
over remarks which generally have more to do with the safety of the planet
than any party political matter.' Liberal Democrat environment spokesman
Norman Baker added: 'If Prince Charles should keep his nose out, so should
Lord Sainsbury.' The peer has previously criticised the Prince for warning
that there was a danger that nanotechnology, the science of the very
small, would reduce the world to 'grey goo'.

The Minister said the idea was 'science fiction'.