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Date:

July 11, 2003

Subject:

GM in Poor Countries; Patents; Peanut Allergy; GM Sugarbeet

 

Today in AgBioView: July 12, 2003:

* india-ag.biotech-reg
* Biotech Crops May Go to Poor Countries
* 'As a farmer, I'd consider growing them - but people won't accept it'
* The Politics of Confusion
* Researchers to Keep Some Biotech Rights
* Biotech crops get third-world boost
* NGOs: More than flower power
* GM vaccine for peanut allergy shows promise
* GM sugarbeet to improve crop profitability
* Sowing Seeds of Destruction
* Why People Still Starve

Date: Sat, 12 Jul 2003 05:57:06 -0700 (PDT)
From: "ze tan"
Subject: india-ag.biotech-reg

Dear Sir

with ref to the note of Mr Chengal Reddy, I have to tell that India does
not have any authantative information or results on geographic
experimentation of GM cotton. However this can be denied by the Farmers.
But there is lack of education of the Farmers by any farmers association
except paper statements. There is no rescue too to the farmers needs and
crises by these association. If not they can sucess very well banning any
application not suitable for the farm and farmer.

The major role of politics is one of the region wherein taking timely
advantages. Even Mr Reddy too applicable for polity but critics because of
opposition party to the existing Govt.

However the question of Ag. university can involve by these politics. But
due to lack of approachin scientific and peace manner quite often in India
and specifically in AP state many association/s fails.

Although we have requested many occations to M./s Monosanto to provide
seed tomake text under our lab and field conditions but failed by them
even giving aseed itself thinking any negative results.

But we are one of the poineer in Research to give authentative result in
any mode, and we are founds that ^ agroeconomy is super economy under
transitional economy^ eg. India after making research of the first decade
transitional economy and still on going.

Hence India problem to curtail farmers association/s should act
effectively and firmly.
with kind regards
K.B.N RAYANA., DIR.GEN., IAMMA., HYD/INDIA
www.iamma.8m.com
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/breaking_news/6274099.htm

Biotech Crops May Go to Poor Countries

Associated Press
EMILY GERSEMA
July 10, 2003

WASHINGTON - State agricultural universities and research foundations are
launching a project to get high-yield, genetically engineered crops to
countries faced with starvation but too poor to pay biotech licensing
fees.

The project, announced Thursday in Science magazine, will allow
universities to share developments on genetically engineered plants with
each other, international researchers and governments. Companies may also
access the research as long as they use it to help needy countries.

The effort is led by the Rockefeller and McKnight foundations, and by
state agriculture universities from California to Florida. Some research
institutes also are participating.

The project "provides a mechanism for those researchers in developing
countries like Nigeria, and Ghana and Kenya or Ethiopia to get access to
technology in the public sector," said Robert Goodman, the chairman of
molecular biology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Goodman also
serves on the McKnight Foundation.

The schools and foundations also will create a database of patented
research and regulations and later will make developments available for
public use, said Gary Toenniessen, director of food security at the
Rockefeller Foundation.

"Initially, it's going to be mainly information (sharing)," said
Toenniessen. "But in time, it will be perhaps materials and germplasm that
would be shared."

For years, developing countries and biotech researchers have cited
licensing fees as a barrier to expanding the use of biotech materials and
crops to feed people in areas troubled by bad weather or poor soil.

Additionally, research has lagged on small crops like cassava and
chickpeas in Africa.

Major biotech firms have focused on engineering the genetic makeup of the
biggest market crops - corn, soybeans and wheat - to resist pests or be
tolerant to weedkillers.

Besides the Agriculture Department, state agriculture universities lead
the public sector in biotech research on plants of all kinds, from corn to
potatoes and tomatoes - but they often give up their patented research to
private companies.

The report said more than 40 different patents and contracts were involved
with golden rice, making it difficult to obtain the right to a product
that is genetically packed with vitamin A to prevent blindness in
malnourished children.

Such cases prompted biologists at Cornell University last fall to declare
that their drought-resistant rice would remain available for study in the
public sector.

Bryan Hurley, a spokesman for biotech leader Monsanto, said the company
supports the new project and believes it won't interfere with commercial
competition.

"Overall, we see that it's a recognition of the importance of biotech and
it brings important new resources to ensure that biotechnology continues
to develop and the benefits are applied more broadly," Hurley said.
Monsanto has donated its work on a virus-resistant sweet potato to
researchers in Kenya, he said.

Hunger advocates view the project as a step forward, but still worry that
other obstacles to growing crops aren't being addressed.

"It's very much a positive step to make the technology or intellectual
property available, but you also have to have the investment in research,"
said Charles Riemenschneider, director of the U.N. Food and Agriculture
Organization of North America. "You've got to have the research taking
place at centers in those (developing) countries."
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,996705,00.html

'As a farmer, I'd consider growing them - but people won't accept it'

The Guardian
By Helen Carter
July 12, 2003

Mark Leggott, 39, farms 250 hectares (620 acres) just north of Boston on
the Lincolnshire fens. He has been farming for 21 years and his crops
include wheat, sugar beet, potatoes, vining peas (for freezing) and
cabbage.

"As a grower I would consider GM crops," he said. "But only when I am sure
that they are safe to the environment and there is no problem with
cross-pollination. At the moment the government is trying to make sure the
technology is safe.

"I would not consider these crops at the moment because they are not
acceptable to the British public. Consumers do not accept GM food and the
problem for me, with sugar beet, is if I were to grow GM next to non-GM is
that you cannot guarantee the two have not been mixed when you lift the
crop in autumn.

"As a consumer, I have eaten genetically modified food in the US and
Canada and I have not sprouted wings, cloven hooves or dropped dead. I am
not at all worried about eating the food. All this talk of Frankenstein
food is misleading.

"All scientists are doing is speeding up the process of natural selection.
If there is a proven margin for growing this food, then I will consider
it.

"But there has to be some thing in it for the grower - if I can grow it
more cheaply.

"Many pharmaceutical pills and vitamins are made using modified starch
from North American sources. Many people have unwittingly consumed GM
crops without any health problems. When GM tomato paste was first
introduced on the shelves people were pleased that it would last two to
three times longer than non-GM.

"The problem at the moment is that the consumers cannot see the benefits
of GM food. Once they can see the benefits, they will be able to accept it
more readily."
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://www.truthabouttrade.org/1071/wrapper.jsp?PID=1071-40&CID=1071-071103C


The Politics of Confusion

Truth About Trade and Technology
By Tim Burrack
July 11, 2003

I'd like to slap a label on what the European Union decided to do last
week: "Unfair."

Europe now will require any food product carrying microscopic amounts of
biotech ingredients to display a label designed to scare consumers away
from buying it. Even items whose makeup is less than 1-percent biotech
will receive the EU's equivalent of a skull-and-crossbones or a scarlet
letter.

Food will need to be labeled irrespective if there is any GMO protein or
DNA that can be detected - that's the case with fully refined oils. Or,
like the case with corn starch - if the corn starch in a baked product
came from corn with over 0.9% GM, the whole product would have to be
labeled - even if the corn starch was only a minor ingredient.

With new rules like this, I can see why representatives from both Unilever
and Nestlé's announced they have no alternative but to permanently exclude
all soybean oil derived from U.S. and Argentine soybeans from all their
products. The traceability requirements would be impossible for them to
meet

This move has nothing to do with science or public health. We know it
doesn't - because it can't. There isn't a shred of scientific evidence
anywhere that suggests biotech foods are anything but perfectly safe to
eat.

What we're witnessing here is the politics of confusion at work. Ron Heck
of the American Soybean Association put it well. "Europeans are being
mislead into believing they will have a safer food supply, when in fact
these new rules will lead to a dramatic decrease in food safety," he said.
"In the end, the EU's new rules will lead to greater reliance on
conventional and EU-grown crops, which means more pesticide use, greater
environmental impact, less conservation of topsoil and fuel, and overall
decreased food safety."

At bottom, this is just another trade barrier. The Europeans apparently
want to look accommodating, perhaps because they're worried about the
United States challenging them before the World Trade Organization over
their longstanding ban on new biotech food approvals.

Yet this business about labels is no accommodation. Led by Greenpeace and
other fear-mongering groups, European activists have been whipping people
into a frenzy over biotech foods. The continent's politicians have stood
by in silence and let this happen. A few lonely voices have spoken
out--British Prime Minister Tony Blair seems to grasp the importance of
biotech foods, and scientific organizations such as the French Academy of
Sciences and the French Academy of Medicine and Pharmacy have had positive
things to say as well. Yet they have not been able to persuade the EU to
give up its relentless crusade against a critical technology for farmers
and consumers that has worldwide benefits.

One of the EU's goals is to allow for "traceability"--that is, the ability
to trace a particular food ingredient back to its source, such as the acre
of land upon which it was grown. That's not a bad motive, except that much
of this can't be done, such as when the product in question is soybean
oil. The EU isn't establishing reasonable regulations - it's trying to set
up standards that can't possibly be met.

This is protectionism by other means, because one potential result is that
many food companies will stop buying biotech foods. They may even quit
buying American corn and soybeans entirely, on the grounds that so many of
these crops in the United States are genetically modified (about a third
of all corn and nearly three-quarters of all soybeans), that there's no
way they can meet the EU's ridiculous threshold requiring a "purity" of
more than 99 percent.

Buyers might shift away from the United States and toward Brazil, a
country with a lot of farm acreage and an official policy against biotech
crops. There's only one problem with this - Brazilian farmers are already
planting biotech seeds on a large scale. In fact, at a biotech conference
in St. Louis last week, a Brazilian farmer said that if his government
stopped him from planting biotech soybeans, his wife would keep on
planting them. And, if she was stopped, his son would keep on planting the
biotech seeds. The message was clear - Biotech crops have come to Brazil
and they're there to stay. Brazilian farmers recognize their value, no
matter what the government or the EU has to say.

The EU's policy defies logic. The obvious answer is to treat biotech food
as no different from other kinds of food. In truth, it's better, because
it hasn't been sprayed with as much pesticide and it protects the
environment.

Now that I think about it, my label for this EU policy needs to be a bit
bigger. In addition to "unfair," it will say: "unscientific," "confusing,"
"protectionist" - and "wrong."
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A40413-2003Jul10.html?nav=hptoc_tn


Researchers to Keep Some Biotech Rights
Plant Patents Could Be Used to Aid Poor

Washington Post
July 11, 2003
By Justin Gillis

The nation's leading centers of plant research launched a plan yesterday
to share the benefits of agricultural biotechnology more widely,
particularly with farmers growing subsistence crops in poor countries and
with specialty farmers growing fruits, nuts and vegetables for the
American table.

Under the plan, announced in the journal Science, top universities and
other research centers said they would manage their biotechnology patents
more carefully than in the past. When they license patents on new
techniques to corporations, they said, they will reserve rights to use
those techniques for humanitarian projects in poor countries, and to apply
them to specialized crops that are grown in the industrial world but are
too small to interest large agricultural companies.

Parties to the agreement said it was an attempt to restore some balance,
and a keener sense of the public welfare, to an agricultural-research
system increasingly dominated by large corporations.

At the same time, they emphasized that the plan is not an attempt to
undermine the patenting of genetic techniques or stop the
commercialization of crops developed using those patents. "We are not
interested in diminishing the commercial opportunities of this
technology," said Alan B. Bennett, a plant biologist who is also executive
director of research administration and technology transfer in the
University of California system, which is participating in the new plan.

Rather, the organizers said, they want to be sure an increasingly
complicated thicket of patent issues in the world of plant research
doesn't slow or halt public interest projects that the big companies have
little or no interest in supporting.

Like biologists in other disciplines, plant researchers have been
wrestling for several years with a welter of complex patent difficulties.
The definitive case study for those who see problems in the current system
is a biotechnology invention called golden rice.

Ingo Potrykus, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology,
and his collaborators moved genes from the daffodil plant into rice,
creating a type of rice that can make a precursor chemical to vitamin A.
The crop holds potential for alleviating life-threatening vitamin A
deficiency among poor children in many parts of the world.

But to create the plant, Potrykus had to use numerous patented or
proprietary technologies, many of them created at universities but
licensed to more than a score of companies. Those companies had no
particular interest in blocking golden rice, but a keen interest in
protecting their patents. Potrykus had nearly despaired of solving the
patent mess when the agricultural biotechnology companies, in an unrelated
flap, came under fire in Europe for pushing genetically modified crops
like corn and soybeans.

Suddenly eager for an exhibit to showcase the potential of genetic
engineering to help the poor, companies tripped over one another to donate
their patent rights and help Potrykus win the many permissions he needed.
Golden rice is now under further development and could, in the long run,
be planted widely in rice-consuming countries.

As that brouhaha was unfolding several years ago, many people noted the
problem might never have occurred if the universities that developed the
technologies in the first place had, in granting licenses to corporations,
retained the right to use their technologies for humanitarian purposes.
More recently, small companies and plant breeders have been complaining of
a similar problem in their attempts to work on specialty crops, like
strawberries or walnuts.

Such crops generally don't interest big agricultural companies like
Monsanto Co. or Syngenta AG, which spend their energy on crops grown on
millions of acres, such as soybeans and corn. But the corporations control
patent rights to technologies that could be used to improve smaller crops
important to farmers in particular regions of the country. Once again,
many universities have licensed away those rights in their entirety,
without seeking to protect the interests of the specialty farmers.

While the difficulties have prompted some critics to mount broad attacks
on the patent system, one leading sponsor of public-interest agricultural
research, the Rockefeller Foundation of New York, has focused recently on
finding pragmatic solutions. A few months ago, it announced a plan under
which ag biotech companies agreed to donate their technologies for use in
Africa. The new plan creates a somewhat similar scheme for universities.

"A lot of what this is all about really boils down to just smarter
licensing on the part of the universities," said Gary Toenniessen,
director of food security programs at the Rockefeller Foundation. "They're
reluctant to say that, because nobody wants to say, 'We haven't been doing
it smart up until now.' "

With prodding from Rockefeller and another foundation concerned about the
issue, the McKnight Foundation of Minneapolis, several major research
centers devised the plan in recent months. In yesterday's Science
announcement, they said they would create a consortium called the
Public-Sector Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture. It will
track the details of agricultural patent licensing and create a set of
"best practices" for universities to follow in their deals with commercial
companies.

Eventually, participants said, the consortium may be able to pool the
rights of numerous universities and offer them as a package to small
companies that want to work on particular specialty crops. And the group
also hopes to offer licensing packages to researchers working to improve
staple crops, such as cassavas or bananas, grown by small farmers in poor
countries.

Signatories to the plan include the presidents or chancellors of Cornell
University, Michigan State University, North Carolina State University,
Ohio State University, the University of California system, the University
of California at Riverside, the University of California at Davis, Rutgers
University, the University of Florida, the University of Wisconsin, the
Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, and the Donald Danforth Plant
Science Center. These are the major plant research centers in the United
States, but many other universities and laboratories conduct such work,
and they will be invited to join the new consortium.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://www.globetechnology.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20030711.gtbiofoodjuly11/BNStory/Technology/


Biotech crops get third-world boost

Associated Press
July 11, 2003

WASHINGTON — U.S. state agricultural universities and research foundations
are launching a project to get high-yield, genetically engineered crops to
countries faced with starvation but too poor to pay biotech licensing
fees.

The project, announced Thursday in Science magazine, will allow
universities to share developments on genetically engineered plants with
each other, international researchers and governments. Companies may also
access the research as long as they use it to help needy countries.

The effort is led by the Rockefeller and McKnight foundations, and by
state agriculture universities from California to Florida. Some research
institutes also are participating.

The project "provides a mechanism for those researchers in developing
countries like Nigeria, and Ghana and Kenya or Ethiopia to get access to
technology in the public sector," said Robert Goodman, the chairman of
molecular biology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Goodman also
serves on the McKnight Foundation.

The schools and foundations also will create a database of patented
research and regulations and later will make developments available for
public use, said Gary Toenniessen, director of food security at the
Rockefeller Foundation.

"Initially, it's going to be mainly information (sharing)," said Mr.
Toenniessen. "But in time, it will be perhaps materials and germplasm that
would be shared."

For years, developing countries and biotech researchers have cited
licensing fees as a barrier to expanding the use of biotech materials and
crops to feed people in areas troubled by bad weather or poor soil.

Additionally, research has lagged on small crops like cassava and
chickpeas in Africa.

Major biotech firms have focused on engineering the genetic makeup of the
biggest market crops - corn, soybeans and wheat - to resist pests or be
tolerant to weedkillers.

Besides the Agriculture Department, state agriculture universities lead
the public sector in biotech research on plants of all kinds, from corn to
potatoes and tomatoes - but they often give up their patented research to
private companies.

The report said more than 40 different patents and contracts were involved
with golden rice, making it difficult to obtain the right to a product
that is genetically packed with vitamin A to prevent blindness in
malnourished children.

Such cases prompted biologists at Cornell University last fall to declare
that their drought-resistant rice would remain available for study in the
public sector.

Bryan Hurley, a spokesman for biotech leader Monsanto, said the company
supports the new project and believes it won't interfere with commercial
competition.

"Overall, we see that it's a recognition of the importance of biotech and
it brings important new resources to ensure that biotechnology continues
to develop and the benefits are applied more broadly," Mr. Hurley said.
Monsanto has donated its work on a virus-resistant sweet potato to
researchers in Kenya, he said.

Hunger advocates view the project as a step forward, but still worry that
other obstacles to growing crops aren't being addressed.

"It's very much a positive step to make the technology or intellectual
property available, but you also have to have the investment in research,"
said Charles Riemenschneider, director of the U.N. Food and Agriculture
Organization of North America. "You've got to have the research taking
place at centers in those [developing] countries."
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0711/p06s01-wogi.html

NGOs: More than flower power
Nongovernmental groups that wield nearly $1 trillion shift tactics to work
with business for fair trade. By Peter Ford | Staff writer of the
Christian Science Monitor

Christian Science Monitor
July 11, 2003

PARIS - When Global Exchange decided to make Starbucks sell "fair trade"
coffee, the nongovernmental organization campaigning for more thoughtful
and fairer ways of running the world economy planned dramatic
demonstrations outside the chain's outlets nationwide.

Within days of the first televised protest, Starbucks executives were
visiting the group in San Francisco to discuss how they could offer
consumers coffee made from beans grown under more humane conditions, and
sold at more remunerative prices for poverty-stricken growers.

Today, Global Exchange and Starbucks work together to make "fair trade" a
reality.

The deal is one in what a new report on the future of NGOs calls "early
tremors" that "represent warning signs of seismic shifts" in the way
increasingly powerful NGOs are operating.

With a turnover approaching $1 trillion a year, according to one study,
and a reservoir of public trust much deeper than either governments or
business enjoys, the international NGO sector could become "amongst the
most influential institutions of the 21st century," in the words of John
Elkington, coauthor of the study published by SustainAbility, a British
consultancy company.

And signs indicate that many leaders in the field are "moving beyond a
culture of criticism to one of engagement with business and other partners
in a search for solutions" says Gavin Power, a spokesman for the UN Global
Compact, which helped draw up the report.

But the shift, spurred by recognition of the power of market forces, is
risky, the study warns. NGOs that have earned international credibility as
watchdogs could be in danger of becoming lapdogs. Businesses that have
concentrated on the short-term bottom line have now to focus on long-term
prospects. Both sides have to ally themselves with people they once
treated as enemies.

"We had to psychologically shift gears" in discussions with Starbucks,
recalls Kevin Danaher, a cofounder of Global Exchange. Instead of
confronting a corporation, and shaming it, "we were saying 'We want to
help you.' "

The rewards are tempting, both for NGOs to inculcate their human values in
the business world, and companies looking to grow their economic value.
"Successful companies plan for the long haul," says Mokhethi Moshoeshoe,
who runs the African Institute of Corporate Citizenship in Johannesburg.
"If you are not acceptable in the communities where you operate, your
business will fail and shareholders will not be happy."

SustainAbility's report, "The 21st Century NGO: In the Market for Change,"
points to cases where NGO cooperation with business has had mutual
benefit. Amnesty International's section in Norway helped train employees
of Statoil to spot and resolve human rights issues in the oil company's
third-world operations, for example. In the Canadian province of Alberta,
energy companies and NGOs work from the outset of every project on
limiting environmental damage, giving NGOs a decisive say in planning,
while the companies have an easier time with regulatory authorities.

"Greenpeace is a company's best ally," said John Passacantando, an
official with the NGO at a business conference last year. The group can
help "bring companies into port before the storm."

NGOs that set themselves the task of civilizing capitalism through markets
seek to hold that system in check in a world where globalization is
weakening the grip of governmental regulation.

Raymond van Ermen, who once lobbied European Union officials for stricter
environmental safeguards, found the process "long and difficult." Though
regulations are still needed, he says, the European Partners for the
Environment, a firm he runs from Brussels, sets up "a fast track to
influence the market" by working directly with business leaders,trade
unions, and NGO activists. "In the last two or three years, we have seen
impressive changes in the way stakeholders can influence the business
agenda," he says.

A similar trend is evident in the way antiglobalization protesters - so
violently visible in Seattle or Genoa - are shifting their approach to
promote "alternative globalization." Rather than demanding an end to this
historical process, they are seeking to shape it by globalizing labor
rights and high environmental standards. But government regulations are
still important to sanction companies that don't take the ethical bait
NGO's offer, say some NGO activists, and noisy campaigns have a place
alongside quiet persuasion.

The prospect of a public campaign can be just what a company needs to heed
an NGO's complaints, says Mr. Danaher. "We tell them we know how to make
their lives miserable but we'd rather not," he explains. "If they want us
to go bother some other company, they just have to do the right thing."

And NGO negotiators in suits find their job easier if they seem to be
struggling to make their voice of reason heard over the cacophony of
protest in the street. "Inside or outside, we are all on the same side,"
Danaher says.

Beyond the carrot-and-stick tactics that Danaher employs, the nature of
NGOs' long-term relationship with corporations is at stake. In many cases,
says Mr. Moshoeshoe, that relationship goes little further than
philanthropy. Huge companies that treat workers appallingly and devastate
the environment "outsource their conscience," he scoffs, by donating money
to NGOs.

"Our work is to make the business case for corporate social responsibility
- if a business is to be sustainable it needs to integrate social and
environmental issues into its structure," he says.

That attitude is gaining ground, says Seb Beloe, a coauthor of the report.
Ratings agencies are springing up that measure companies' financial
performance as well as a "triple bottom line," which takes account of
their social and environmental record, as well as their profit margins.
Though only a few hundred companies have drawn up "triple bottom lines" so
far, that is "massively more than a few years ago," he says.

And on the other side of the activist-corporation divide, a matching
change of mood points to some new directions. "Instead of just railing at
capitalism," advocates Danaher, "let's see if we can't use some market
savvy."
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

GM vaccine for peanut allergy shows promise

CheckBiotech.org
July 10. 2003
By Kurt Kleiner

A new vaccine based on genetically modified peanut proteins could protect
people with peanut allergies from developing a life-threatening allergic
response, suggests a new study.

Researchers successfully used the vaccine in mice, and human trials could
begin within a year, they say.

Many allergies such as hayfever are treated through desensitization - that
is, allergic people are exposed repeatedly to the allergen, and eventually
their immune systems learn not to overreact to its presence.

But because peanut allergy is potentially fatal, doctors have not been
willing to risk this approach with peanuts.

The US team altered the allergenic proteins in peanuts in such a way that
they could be recognized by the immune system without provoking a
life-threatening reaction. They used the altered proteins to build up a
tolerance in the mice's immune systems which carried over to natural
unaltered peanut proteins.

About 2 percent of people are sensitive to peanuts to some degree. Peanut
allergies kill about 50 people a year in the United States alone, and
account for 15,000 emergency room visits.

Weaker response

The allergic reaction happens when antibodies called immunoglobulin E
(IgE) detect a foreign particle or allergen in the body and prompt the
release of histamine molecules - which make the airways constrict and the
blood vessels dilate. Although this is part of a normal immune response,
in allergic people the body overreacts, causing a potentially fatal
condition called anaphylaxis.

The researchers genetically altered three allergenic peanut proteins so
that they did not have the receptor that IgE recognizes. Then they created
a strain of Escherichia coli bacteria that produced these proteins, killed
the bacteria, and administered the GM proteins rectally to mice. Because
IgE could not recognise the altered proteins there was no allergic
reaction.

However, other parts of the immune system do recognize the proteins, and
respond by turning down the IgE response and turning up a reaction from
another part of the immune system mediated by a white blood cell called
TH1. Later, when the immune system detects regular peanut protein, the IgE
response is much weaker than before and the TH1 response is stronger.

It is not clear yet why this happens. But it seems that a strong response
from the TH1-mediated part of the immune system dampens a response from
the other part of the immune system, which is mediated by white blood
cells known as TH2 cells.

Hugh Sampson, at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and one
of the team says they plan to begin human trials within about a year. If
approved, the treatment might provide only partial protection, but
importantly it will still prevent an allergic reaction from being fatal,
he says.

William Cookson of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetic Disease in
Oxford, UK cautions that a therapy that works in mice still might not work
in humans. He said a similar approach to treating cat allergy had recently
been a failure.

Journal reference: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (vol 112, p
159)
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

GM sugarbeet to improve crop profitability

CheckBiotech.org
July 11, 2003

Planting genetically modified sugarbeet in Europe may offset the potential
adverse effects on crop margins in the light of the European Union
Commission's proposal to reform its current agricultural policy. This is
the conclusion of Leonard Gianessi and colleagues in their report on
"Plant Biotechnology: Potential Impact for Improving Pest Management in
European Agriculture: Sugarbeet Case Study."

One of a series of case studies recently completed by the National Center
for Food and Agricultural Policy, Washington, DC, the sugarbeet case study
provides a summary of the potential impacts of herbicide
(glyphosate)-tolerant sugarbeet in Europe.

The research team estimates the aggregate cost savings for herbicides and
their application for UK sugarbeet growers at (20 million from planting
the herbicide tolerant sugarbeets which is roughly equivalent to £13
million. The projections are similar to a previous UK study that estimated
that the total economic benefit to UK sugarbeet growers would consist of
savings on herbicides and their application taking into account the cost
of the herbicide tolerant technology fee and herbicide cost.

The study, however, noted that although European sugarbeet farmers could
achieve even higher yields with early overall applications of glyphosate
than with conventional herbicides, they may opt to use banded glyphosate
applications early in the season followed by late broadcast applications.
Yields would then be equivalent to conventional herbicides.

The report is available online at
http://www.ncfap.org/reports/Europe/Sugarbeet.pdf
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/11/opinion/11BENB.html

Sowing Seeds of Destruction

New york Times
By CHARLES M. BENBROOK
July 11, 2003

Though President Bush deserves praise for going to Africa and talking
about hunger, his proposals for addressing the problem are likely to make
it worse. American farm and trade policies - particularly the promotion of
American-style agricultural biotechnology - will do little to alleviate
hunger.

In the weeks before the president's trip, the administration stepped up
its efforts to promote biotechnology and genetically modified food. In
May, the United States filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization
against the European Union for its moratorium against the approval of
genetically modified crops. The administration claimed that European
policies have turned some African nations against biotechnology, thereby
undermining American efforts to help Africa. In a speech last month to
biotech leaders, the president said, "We must help troubled nations to
avert famine by sharing with them the most advanced methods of crop
production."

The president is right that African farmers will benefit from new
knowledge and technology. But he's wrong about which technologies we
should be offering. African farmers neither need nor want to produce
American-style genetically modified crops.

It is easy to understand Africa's lack of enthusiasm. The first generation
of genetically modified food crops - corn and soybean seeds - were created
to make pest management simpler on America's large, mechanized farms. The
technologies would be far less effective on African farms, which are small
and diversified and rely largely on human labor.

These technologies don't make economic sense. In the United States, most
farmers planting genetically modified seeds break even - the increase in
seed costs, approximately 35 percent, is covered by reductions in
pesticide expenses or marginally higher yields. In stable, well-irrigated
environments, these crops enable individual farmers to cultivate more
land.

In Africa, however, these benefits can be burdens. For cash-poor farmers,
the cost of genetically modified seed would be prohibitive. Moreover,
genetically modified crops need near-perfect growing conditions. In dry
areas, they require irrigation systems and the water to run them. They
also need to be managed with special care. For example, crops are
engineered to work with specific herbicides; the wrong herbicide can ruin
an entire crop. In Africa, where pesticides are often misbranded, sold in
unmarked containers or handled by people who cannot read, this can be a
problem.

Governments will also bear increased responsibilities and costs in
carrying out and assessing health and environmental safety testing for
these crops, a task few African nations are able to take on.

Africans recognize these drawbacks and that's why American efforts to
promote genetically modified crops have backfired. The initiative to
introduce genetically modified corn to Zambia through American food aid
donations in 2002 clearly did not work out the way the administration had
hoped. The Zambians were vocal in their refusal. And the move brought
simmering global tensions over biotechnology to a boil at last summer's
global environmental summit meeting in Johannesburg and raised questions
about American motives, priorities and understanding of the roots of
hunger. Despite a full-court press by the Bush administration and some
members of Congress, the Zambians have stood by their decision to reject
such food aid.

African farmers face a multitude of challenges. Drought is a recurrent
problem. Soils are often worn out. Depressed commodity prices undercut
human enterprise. Land tenure systems and reluctance to direct financial
and technical assistance to the women who do the majority of the work on
many farms are social issues that undermine farm productivity, as are
civil strife and AIDS. For these problems, biotechnology has little to
offer.

The only way Africans can afford today's genetically modified seeds is for
us to give the seeds or technology to them no strings attached, a highly
unlikely scenario. Before contemplating this approach, though, Americans
should know that their money and expertise might be better directed doing
the things that Africans themselves might actually find useful.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/13/magazine/13AFRICA.html?pagewanted=print&position=


Why People Still Starve

New York Times
July 13, 2003
By BARRY BEARAK

Late one afternoon, during the long melancholia of the hungry months,
there was a burst of joyous delirium in Mkulumimba. Children began
shouting the word ngumbi, announcing that winged termites were fluttering
through the fields. These were not the bigger species of the insect, which
can be fried in oil and sold as a delicacy for a good price. Instead,
these were the smaller ones, far more wing than torso, which are eaten
right away. Suddenly, most everyone was giddily chasing about; villagers
were catching ngumbi with their fingers and tossing them onto their
tongues, grateful for the unexpected gift of food afloat in the air.

Adilesi Faisoni was able to share in that happiness but not in the
cavorting. For several years, old age had been catching up with her, until
it had finally pulled even and then ahead. Her walk was unsteady now, her
posture stooped, her eyesight dimmed. As the others ran about, she
remained seated on the wet ground near the doorstep of her mud-brick
hovel. It was the same place I always found her during my weeks in the
villages of Malawi, weeks when I was examining the mechanisms of famine.
''There is no way to get used to hunger,'' Adilesi told me once. ''All the
time something is moving in your stomach. You feel the emptiness. You feel
your intestines moving. They are too empty, and they are searching for
something to fill up on.''

Hunger was the main topic of our talks. Most every year, Malawi suffers a
food shortage during the so-called hungry months, December through March,
the single growing season in a predominantly rural nation. Corn is this
country's mainstay, what people mainly grow and what people mainly eat,
usually as nsima, a thick porridge. Ideally, the yield from one harvest
lasts until the next. But even in good times the food supply is nearing
its end while the next crop is still rising from the ground. Families
often endure this hungry period on a single meal a day, sometimes nothing
more than a foraged handful of greens. Last year's food crisis was the
worst in living memory. Hundreds, and probably thousands, of Malawians
succumbed to the scythe of a hunger-related death ......

Full article at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/13/magazine/13AFRICA.html?pagewanted=print&position=