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Date:

July 18, 2003

Subject:

Technology To Save Lives; A Jesuit Scientist Speaks Up; Mastering

 

Today in AgBioView: July 19-20, 2003:

* Let Africa Grow 'Golden' Rice
* Mastering the Tools of Science and Politics
* Bogus on Biotech
* I Want Red Apples and Sweeter Tomatoes
* Lou Dobbs on Biotech and World Hunger
* Biotechnology Reaps Benefits
* GE Food Safe as Rest of Menu
* Consumer Choice Still an EU Illusion
* Biogemma Threatens to Leave France after GM Attack
* Stout Potatoes: Armed With a New Gene, Spuds Fend Off Blight
* Questions About GM - Analysis
* AgBioForum
* GM Rice May Pave Way for GM Acceptance
* Conko on Benefits of Biotech
* Anti-modern Movement
* French Clamp Down on "Email" Word
* Is GM Food A Poison? - A Jesuit Priest and Biotech Scientist Speaks Up
* GE - Christian and Ignatian Creation Spirituality Perspective

Let Africa Grow 'Golden' Rice

- Dr. Francis Nang'ayo, New York Post,July 19, 2003

http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/37982.htm

The focus of Americans in the aftermath of President Bush's trip to Africa
naturally is the prospect of U.S. troops being sent to Liberia. But for
most people on my continent, the primary question is whether his visit
ultimately will help advance the debate over biotechnology and genetically
modified foods, which have been stymied in Africa by Europe's objections
to them.

Per Pinstrup-Andersen of the International Food Policy Institute said
recently at a Congressional Hunger Center: "We need to talk about the
low-income farmer in Africa who, on. . . maybe an . . . acre of land, is
trying to feed her five children in the face of recurrent droughts,
recurrent insect attacks, recurrent diseases. For her, losing a crop may
mean losing a child. Now, how can we sit here debating whether she should
have access to a drought-tolerant crop variety?"

Africa's population stood at 200 million 30 years ago. It is now 620
million. At the current growth rate, it is projected to increase to 1.3
billion over the next 25 years. Africa adds the equivalent of five
Sacramentos every month!

Seventy percent of Africans are farmers who eke out a living from small
plots of family gardens with soils depleted from overuse in regions prone
to drought, soil erosion and floods. The little that is cultivated must
contend with epidemics of pests and diseases. Chemical fertilizers and
pesticides are prohibitively expensive and, where used, are not without
public and environmental health concerns.

No wonder the African people lack adequate food to eat and surpluses to
sell for income. No wonder they suffer from malnutrition. No wonder
numerous African children go blind due to vitamin A deficiency.

Europe and America have large food surpluses and enjoy the freedom and
luxury of choice never known in Africa. Their genetically modified food
fight doesn't mean hunger to their people. But if nothing is done to end
their squabble, the number of the poor and hungry in Africa will grow.
What is the likelihood that they will be fed?

Molecular biology-based research has developed genetically modified crops
with built-in protection against pests and diseases without the need of
vast amounts of costly pesticides. One class incorporates an herbicide
resistance gene. It allows farmers to spray herbicide on their fields to
kill weeds, such as Striga, or purple witchweed, that infests the root
systems of cereal crops, stunting their growth and leading to crops being
lost.

In addition to creating pest and herbicide-resistant plants,
genetically-modified technology can also produce plants with improved
nutritional qualities. One of the most exciting developments so far has
been the introduction of genes into rice that result in enhanced supply of
Vitamin A and iron. This "golden" rice would thus fight both childhood
blindness and anemia and reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.

No technology is absolutely risk free. But Europe's threat to close its
markets to African produce if genetically modified crops are introduced
won't promote safety. Only an exploration of relative benefits and risks
can protect consumers and ensure the needs of the world's poor are met.

As a scientist, I have yet to find any shred of evidence suggesting that
foods on the market today are unsafe to eat as a result of genetic
engineering. As University of California biologist Martina McGlooughlin
rightly observed, "Biotech products go through a more thorough testing
than conventional food ever has been subjected to . . . and no product of
conventional breeding could meet the data requirements imposed on biotech
products by regulatory agencies prior to approval."

The impact of biotechnology on food production, post-harvest losses and
nutritional value of food could improve the lives and livelihoods of
millions of poor people. It would be unethical to condemn millions to
hunger by denying them access to development and technology simply because
some activists imagine it is risky. Now that his trip is over, we can only
hope President Bush continues to press for acceptance of a technology with
the potential to save countless African lives.
---
Dr. Francis Nang'ayo, a principal research scientist in the Biotechnology
Research Programme at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, is a
contributing writer to TechCentralStation.com.

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

Mastering the Tools of Science and Politics

- Dean Kleckner, Truth About Trade & Technology, July 18, 2003,
http://www.truthabouttrade.org/

Too many people think science and politics don't mix. That's wrong - but
too many people think it anyway. That's why I was so encouraged so hear
that the title of Carl Feldbaum's address at the annual BIO convention in
Washington, D.C., was "The Politics of Science vs. the Science of
Politics."

"Lobbying for science might seem an easy job," said Feldbaum. After all,
who's against research and development? The federal government already
spends more than $100 billion on R&D each year. The budget for the
National Institutes of Health has doubled in the last five years. That's a
pretty big pie--enough for everybody, it would seem.

But it isn't an easy job. Science can be controversial because it can be
political. Sometimes the politics are mundane, such as when a congressman
is trying to secure extra dollars for a research institution in his
district and a taxpayer organization objects to it as "pork-barrel"
spending (which it may very well be). Other times the politics are
white-hot, especially when science intersects with moral matters, as we've
seen in the ongoing debates over human cloning and embryo research.

We farmers know better than most folks that science and politics mix
because we're forced to be both scientists and politicians. We're
scientists every time we practice the science of agriculture, which is to
say every day of our lives. We're forced to be politicians, too, because
so much of our business involves the politics of international trade.

President Bush made the point nicely in his own speech at the BIO
convention. With biotechnology, he said, farmers have developed a powerful
weapon in the war on starvation. "We should encourage the spread of safe,
effective biotechnology to win the fight against global hunger," he said.

Yet the science of biotechnology has plenty of political enemies. "Acting
on unfounded, unscientific fears, many European governments have blocked
the import of all new biotech crops," said President Bush. "Because of
these artificial obstacles, many African nations avoid investing in
biotechnology, worried that their products will be shut out of important
European markets. For the sake of a continent threatened by famine, I urge
the European governments to end their opposition to biotechnology."

That is a necessary first step. We've witnessed the horrible spectacle of
African countries, with starving people, turning away free food because
some was derived from biotechnology. They aren't scared of biotechnology.
Instead, they're scared of what European politicians say about
biotechnology, and therefore feel compelled to operate under a perverse
theory of "better dead than fed."

This is inhumane--and yet we've seen it happen in southern Africa within
the last year. How can this be? Feldbaum has the answer: "In politics,
passion can triumph over logic and numbers."

Indeed, all the logic and numbers are on the side of biotechnology. It's a
sensible scientific tool that boosts crop yields, allows smarter use of
the chemicals that are applied, and helps conserve land by reducing soil
erosion. And best of all - it's safe.

And yet the other side musters so much passion. Much of it comes from
misguided activists who don't know the first things about farming or
science. Some of it comes from organizations that have found a continuous
"cash cow' in contributions from a gullible public. A lot of it also comes
from special interests that want to close their markets and shut off
competition. They're fomenting fears of biotechnology to advance
protectionism.

"We must master the art of politics as well as we master our science,"
says Feldbaum. He's absolutely right about that. Politics is how we
counter our opposition--by embarking on public-information campaigns to
let people know the truth about biotechnology and legally challenging
unfair practices through the World Trade Organization.

I wish that science weren't so political. And yet that's the sad reality.
But just as biotechnology is a tool we use to advantage on our farms,
politics is a tool we can use to advantage off of them.

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

Bogus on Biotech

- Michael Fumento, Modesto Bee, July 17, 2003 Scripps Howard News Service
http://www.modbee.com/24hour/opinions/story/945635p-6608566c.html

The European Union has finally seen the light on genetically engineered
crops, with its Parliament approving a proposal to lift member nation
import bans that have cost North American farmers a fortune and denied
Europeans access to cheap, nutritious food.

Not!

All the EU has really done is to propose steps that MAY replace the ban,
which covers MOST types of biotech crops, with regulations that WILL
increase the cost of ALL imported crops, biotech and otherwise. Indeed,
some commodities may become so expensive that they're effectively banned
anyway.

Currently, six European countries with enough political clout are
preventing imports of all but two biotech crop varieties into the entire
15-nation EU. Allegedly they have not been demonstrated safe for
consumption, notwithstanding that U.S. and Canadian regulatory agencies -
with a much better reputation than their slipshod European counterparts -
have approved them.

In reality, there are many reasons for the moratorium, but health isn't
among them. Partly it's a trade restriction to protect inefficient
European farmers. Partly it's simple anti-Americanism - a backlash against
both a more productive agricultural system and a free-market economy that
puts Germany and France to shame. The recent cover of a French magazine
depicted a U.S. farmer carrying a huge ear of corn, with the headline:
"L'Invasion Americain."

"Chauvinism" is a French word, after all.

But international trade laws don't allow restrictions for economic reasons
or (Sacre bleu!) even jealousy. So, biotech food became a health concern.
Yet each year Americans have eaten more of these foods. About 70 percent
of our processed food now contains biotech ingredients. As a 2001 report
on biotech food commissioned by the EU itself declared, "The use of more
precise technology and the greater regulatory scrutiny probably make them
even safer than conventional plants and foods."

Yet still the ban continues, costing U.S. farmers alone more than a third
of a billion dollars yearly. Finally, the Bush Administration filed suit
with the World Trade Organization and the EU thereafter approved
regulations (pending ratification from member countries) that would allow
in biotech food but slap it with a label declaring "This product is
produced from GMOs," meaning "genetically modified organisms."

This is much worse than it might sound. Europeans have been brainwashed
against biotech foods by environmentalist groups like Greenpeace,
political demagogues and a media that routinely refer to them as "mutant
food" or "Frankenfood." A 2002 survey of all EU nations found, incredibly,
that half of those surveyed believed that genetically engineered fruit
would alter a person's own genes.

In such an atmosphere of ignorance and fear, a biotech label may as well
be a skull and crossbones. Yet that label will be stamped onto any
shipment containing anything more than 0.9 percent biotech product. That's
an incredibly low threshold considering how easily tiny amounts of
accidental mixing can occur. Pollen or grain can drift from fields despite
leaving unplanted buffer zones. Whole or ground grain can mix in
machinery, bins, driers and transportation unless they're scrubbed spick
and span between crop loads.

Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, professor of agribusiness at the University of
Missouri in Columbia, thinks meeting the 0.9 percent burden will be
difficult or downright impossible "depending on the crop and exactly what
type of product we're talking about."

For example, with seed corn accidental wind-borne pollination is a problem
so compliance costs will be extremely high, he told me. Prevention efforts
may be so expensive that exporters can't meet the 0.9 percent level and
make a profit.

"With soybeans," he says, "because the plants self-pollinate, you're going
to have lower costs." BUT, 81 percent of all soy now grown in the U.S. is
biotech, meaning only 19 percent could escape the label. Yet the potential
European market for soybean feed is huge.

Further, notes Kalaitzandonakes, "There's no science behind a 0.9 percent
level," considering that "This is a product the EU has said is completely
safe at any level." Japan uses 5 percent, which is equally arbitrary but
far easier to meet.

Perhaps as bad or even worse is that the proposed legislation demands
"traceability." There must be a paper auditing trail of each biotech crop
variety starting with the seed breeder, then the farmer, then the shipper,
all the way to the grocery store. It serves no purpose other than to add
tremendous expense.

For all this, there's no guarantee the current ban will be lifted if the
onerous new proposal passes.

That's why the U.S. has rightly signaled it has no intent to drop its suit
until the EU truly drops its trade restrictions, its illegal
counter-offensive against "L'Invasion Americain." How quickly they forget
our previous invasion - you know, the one in 1944.

---
Michael Fumento is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington
and a syndicated columnist with Scripps Howard News Service. His book on
biotechnology will be published this fall by Encounter Books. He can be
reached at fumento@pobox.com.

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

I Want Red Apples and Sweeter Tomatoes

- Anjana Ahuja, The Times (UK), July 18, 2003
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/

Never ask a scientist whether it's safe to cross the road. You won't get a
straight answer because there isn't one. There will be a long list of
conditions and caveats, ifs and buts, rounded off with a frustrating dash
of caution. Yet that doesn't stop scientists, and the rest of us, from
indulging in this dangerous activity every day.

Genetically modified (GM) foods don't come with a cast-iron safety
guarantee, either. But we have reason to be reassured. We have been eating
GM foods for centuries - traditional cross-breeding is simply the random
shuffling of genes to produce a more desirable fruit or vegetable. It has
furnished us with sweeter tomatoes, redder apples and seedless grapes. If
anything goes against Nature it is the last of these, rendered barren
solely for our pip-hating convenience. It is ironic that seedless grapes
are among the most popular gifts for hospital patients, given in the
belief that they will enhance health rather than diminish it.

These facts are unlikely to have informed the six-week debate about GM
foods, called GM Nation?, that has just ended. Its website,
www.gmnation.org.uk, says it is "the country's first nationwide public
discussion around GM issues". Next week Professor Sir David King, chief
scientific adviser to the Government and GM food consumer, will issue a
landmark review of the science surrounding GM, such as whether it is safe
to eat and whether GM crops present environmental perils. If ever there
was a time to know about GM foods, this is it.

GM Nation?, which comprised sparsely attended roadshows in six cities, is
unlikely to have enlightened you, according to some. "My colleagues have
been to a few events and they have been hijacked by NGOs such as
Greenpeace," says Chris Leaver, Sibthorpian Professor of Plant Science at
Oxford University and a member of the Government's advisory panel. He is
saddened by the backlash against GM science, which, he feels, is motivated
by public mistrust over other issues such as bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE). Yet Leaver believes it is a technology that offers
potential benefits, such as foods that contain vaccines.

Like Leaver, I don't go along with all the fuss. As a consumer I am
grateful for the choice. I want those sweeter tomatoes and redder apples.
So I am unmoved by "GM-free" labels that scream at me so righteously from
supermarket shelves. Neither do I seek out baby food that has GM-free
ingredients - I am far more worried about the salt and sugar content of
baby snacks. And, as far as I can see, non-GM cakes are no kinder to my
waistline and arteries than conventional treats.

Yet the public appears to hate GM foods, and I doubt that GM Nation? will
have made them feel any differently. Eloquent pressure groups, along with
the former Environment Minister Michael Meacher, have planted the
suspicion that GM foods may be harmful - not because there is proof, but
because scientists cannot guarantee that such foods are 100 per cent safe.

Moreover, the two issues - human health and the environment - appear to
have fused in the furore, meshing two distinct concerns into one cloud of
leguminous evil.

Meacher recently wrote two Sunday newspaper articles questioning the
safety of GM foods for human consumption. He was castigated by Lord May of
Oxford, the President of the Royal Society, for "quoting very selectively
from the Royal Society report on GM plants". The Royal Society's actual
conclusion was that "there is no scientific reason to doubt the safety of
foods made from GM ingredients that are currently available, nor to
believe that genetic modification makes GM foods inherently less safe than
their conventional counterparts".

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has made similar reassuring
pronouncements. Consumers, however, are largely boycotting GM foods;
supermarkets have responded by clearing their shelves of goods they cannot
sell.

Why? There are no pressure groups picketing off-licences, despite the
undisputed role of alcohol in filling hospitals - and morgues - on
Saturday nights. High-fat and sugary foods fatten children and fur
arteries. Where is the anti-sugar brigade? Yet not a single report
suggests that a GM food is riskier than its non-GM counterpart, despite
millions of consumers having eaten such foods. Why do we trust consumers
to make up their minds about some foods which we know cause harm, and deny
them the freedom to choose new ones which, as far as we know, do not?

I accept that other issues loom. The jury is still out on whether GM crops
will threaten the environment by, for example, contaminating non-GM crops.
I don't like the aggressive marketing tactics of companies selling GM
products. I'm cynical that, after companies failed to convince consumers
in Europe to accept GM, they have suddenly hailed their products as
saviours of the developing world.

GM has been marketed incredibly badly. Britain's first GM food was a cheap
tomato purée, which is rather sad. How different things might have been if
our first encounter had been broccoli manipulated to contain extra doses
of cancer-fighting chemicals. Or, as Lord May has said, an apple that
makes you thin and witty. We'd be queueing up to fill our trolleys.

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

Lou Dobbs on Biotech and World Hunger

- Lou Dobbs, CNN, July 17, 2003
http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0307/17/ldt.00.html-

And from fires to food, we continue our series of special reports on
genetically modified foods. Some argue that bioengineered foods could help
fight world hunger. Others say the dangers outweigh the benefits. Kitty
Pilgrim takes a critical look at the debate.

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every day, 11,000 children
die of malnutrition. More than 800 million people are hungry. But food is
plentiful, with drought-resistant crops that are insect-resistant and
grown with few pesticides, genetically modified crops. ANN VENEMAN,
AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: We have been modifying food crops for centuries by
crossbreeding. And one of the things about having the ability to use new
technologies to isolate and insert genes is, in many cases, you're doing
what you would have done with plant breeding.

PILGRIM: But there is a problem. The World Food Program last year
distributed food to 72 million of the poorest people in the world, much of
it genetically modified. Six African countries have reservations about
using genetically modified food: Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland,
and Zimbabwe. And last year, Zambia ultimately refused the food.

JUDITH LEWIS, U.N. WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: It does put us in a more moral
dilemma, in terms of trying to explain to hungry people why they can't
have that food that's in that warehouse, because we're trying to move it
out of their country, particularly when the mother is there with her
children who are desperately hungry and they don't understand the
scientific explanation.

PILGRIM: One reason for refusal is, if genetically modified foods are
distributed as food aid in a country, seeds could be mixed with other
crops. That would cross-pollinate the crops that are already grown there.

Dr. Calestous Juma is from Kenya and now studies the role of technology in
developing countries at Harvard. He says Africa's resistance to
genetically modified foods is political. Europe doesn't want African
nations to produce or sell genetically modified crops.

DR. CALESTOUS JUMA, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: It's not acceptable for any
countries either to impose their method of production on any other
countries, especially in cases where these countries face long-term
challenges related to food production.

PILGRIM: Some critics of genetically modified food say they are sometimes
unnecessary and expensive.

KOY THOMPSON, ACTIONAID: The last thing poor, vulnerable remote farmers
want is dependence on outside technologies that put them into debt.

PILGRIM: But not all countries are reluctant to try these new techniques
to strengthen crops. Scientific conferences have brought new techniques to
other countries.

KARIL KOCHENDERFER, GROCERY MANUFACTURERS OF AMERICA: We're just beginning
to see other countries, like South Africa, China, Argentina, Brazil,
experiment with this technology and begin to feel comfortable with how to
use it.

PILGRIM: Now, the population of the world is expected to explode in the
next decade, possibly even double. And scientists say new growing
techniques will be necessary to feed the world, allowing crops to thrive
in less-than-ideal conditions -- Jan? HOPKINS: Thanks, Kitty.

Tomorrow, we continue our series of special reports on bioengineered
foods. Bill Tucker will tell us what other foods are being modified and
what it means for consumers.

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

Biotechnology Reaps Benefits

- Doug Zellmer, Oshkosh Northwestern, July 16,2003

Biotechnology is changing the face of farming and has a lot to do with
keeping the cost reasonable for your morning bowl of cereal. Farmers are
planting disease, insect and drought-resistant corn and getting higher
yields per acre, which in turn have provided a more than ample supply of
grain for everything from cereal to cattle feed.

More supply than demand generally means consumers won't have to pay a high
price for the products they buy at the grocery store, said exhibitors
Tuesday at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days near Bear Creek. It costs more
for technology, but farmers and consumers reap the benefits, said John
Riemer of Golden Harvest Hybrid Corn. He was one of more than 600
exhibitors at the three-day agriculture expo that runs through Thursday.

He said based on $200 to plant an acre of corn and with a yield of 150
bushels an acre, farmers are looking at a per-bushel cost of $1.33. "As
new technology comes out it could cost $220 an acre to plant, but the
farmer will realize 180 bushels per acre and a $1.22 per-bushel cost of
production. That's 10 percent lower," said Riemer. "If the farmer can
lower the cost of production they can help maintain lower food prices."

The percentage of disposable income spent for food in the Untied States
has declined over the past 30 years, according to the United States
Department of Agriculture. Food is more affordable today due to a widening
gap between growth in per-capita incomes and the amount of money spent for
food, said the USDA.

Statistics from the USDA indicate the average American earned enough
income to pay for his or her family's annual food supply this year by Feb.
6, which is 37 days. In 1990 it took 42 days and 65 days in 1960. "Food
costs the past 10 years haven't changed much and I don't see prices
changing that much in the next 10 to 20 years," said Ron Stanke of Golden
Harvest Hybrid Corn. Stanke said what farmers are paid is only a small
part of the consumer food dollar. There are many other factors, including
processing, handling and transportation costs to get products onto store
shelves.

There are few that would argue biotechnology doesn't have benefits. The
European Union parliament on July 2 enacted a rule that would require
products containing more than 0.9 percent biotech ingredients to be
labeled as containing genetically modified organisms.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has called on the Bush administration
to continue to aggressively prosecute the case it filed last month in the
World Trade Organization against the EU's de facto ban on biotech imports.
"With this new labeling and trace ability requirement, the EU has only
made a bad situation worse," AFBF President Bob Stallman said in a written
statement. "It's commercially impossible to comply with the rule."

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

GE Food Safe as Rest of Menu

- Tasmanian Country, July 18, 2003

One of Australia's top scientists has admitted there were no guarantees
genetically engineered (GE) foods were 100 per cent safe. However,
Australian Academy of Science president Jim Peacock said they were as safe
as any other food on the market. He urged people to embrace gene
technology, saying it could be used to bolster people's health.

Dr Peacock, a gene technology expert, said there had not been a single
case of trouble with GE foods in the six years of their sale. "Although I
can't give you an absolute that there will never be any damage to anybody,
I can say that these foods are as safe as any other food on the market,"
Dr Peacock told the National Press Club on Wednesday. "And, as I
mentioned, in six years, with billions of meals having been eaten, there's
not a single case of trouble."

The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator is expected to make a final
decision within a week on a bid by Bayer to release a genetically altered
canola variety. If approved, it would be the first GE food crop released
for commercial use in Australia.

The move has brought strong opposition from many farmers who fear
contamination of non-GE crops. There is also concern among
environmentalists about potential damage to people's health, as the new
technology is being approved without further testing being carried out.

Dr Peacock said ready markets were found for the 58 million hectares of
transgenic crops grown in the past year, including canola, maize and
soybean, with no reports of adverse health effects. More than 30 billion
GE meals were eaten in the past six years.

Dr Peacock accused politicians and the media of peddling inaccurate
information, putting fear and emotion into the community. "The claims are
mischievous and misleading," he said. Regulatory bodies made sure every
potential hazard was examined, he said. Dr Peacock said food could be
used in preventative medicine. In Australia, tests show a barley plant
with a changed starch composition in its grain that could help treat
diabetics and eventually lower cholesterol.

Dr Peacock said the barley was not genetically modified but scientists
could produce the same change by genetic engineering. "Is it right for us
to reject this new level of knowledge that we have and this new safe
technology?," he asked. "I don't think so."

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

Consumer Choice Still an EU Illusion

Editorial, Western Producer, July 17, 2003 http://www.producer.com

THE European parliament has agreed to new rules it says will allow it to
end its de facto ban on genetically modified food and give consumers
choice in the food they eat.

This sounds good, but it is an illusion. For practical purposes the
European Union will still be closed to GM food imports and European
consumers will be denied choice. The EU says the strict mandatory new
food labelling and tracing system is needed to help build public
confidence in the new technology. But if anything, the new requirements
will reinforce European consumers' unfounded but dogged suspicion of GM
food.

The new rules say food or livestock feed with more than 0.9 percent GM
content must be labelled. Also, GM products must be tracked at each stage
of the market from farm to fork, and the information kept for five years.

The practical result is that no European food processor will touch GM
food. The segregation system, tracing and storage of the paper trail will
add greatly to the cost GM foods. Yet consumers won't pay more for GM
food and indeed in Europe the majority of consumers say they won't buy GM
labelled products.

This will deny all access to GM food because no processor wants to incur
extra costs for a product that it can market to only a fraction of the
population. It will also throw a global chill on adoption of GM crops
because to do so would mean losing access to the European market.

The rules are also hypocritical. They ignore EU cheeses and wines made
with the help of GM enhanced microbes, but heap regulation on vegetable
oil from GM canola or soybeans even though the oil contains no GM
material.

Indeed, the new EU rules are all about the politics of pleasing a skittish
electorate and not about science or health. The EU itself admits there is
no evidence that GM foods are dangerous.

Governments are responsible for providing systems that deliver safe food
to their citizens. They should not for political reasons put limitations
on a safe food production system simply because it is new.

Government should allow for consumer choice.

We support a system that allows voluntary labelling of GM-free products
and protects consumers against misleading claims.

This would give Europeans a real choice. The 60 percent who don't want GM
food would not be forced to accept it. But GM products would be available
for the 40 percent who might try it

We urge the Canadian government to work with the United States and other
like-minded countries to continue pressuring the European Union to end
discrimination against GM food and to provide real choice to European
consumers.

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

Biogemma Threatens to Leave France after GM Attack

- Sybille de La Hamaide, Reuters, July 17, 2003

PARIS, July 17 (Reuters) - French biotechnology firm Biogemma threatened
on Thursday to move its experiments in genetically modified organisms
outside of France, possibly to the United States, after a new wave of GM
field destruction in recent days.

One of Biogemma's GM maize fields in the southwestern town of
Saint-Sauveur de Meilhan was ransacked overnight last week just after
President Jacques Chirac agreed to cut a jail term handed to French
radical Jose Bove for earlier GM field attacks.

"Either we can work in decent conditions or we will have to move our
activities abroad, notably to the United States where we already have
experiments taking place," Biogemma Chief Executive Michel Debrand told
Reuters.

"The politicians now have to realise what is at stake," he said, stressing
that a halt in French biotech research would lead to a loss in jobs and
put France behind other countries in what could be a very important market
in coming years.

Biogemma, owned by the privately owned seed groups Limagrain and Euralis
and the financial arms of the grain and oilseed producers' groups, has
around 100 researchers in France. No group or individual has yet claimed
responsibility for the attack. Limagrain, with a 55 percent stake in
Biogemma, is one of Europe's biggest seed producers.

Biogemma is not the only company targeted. U.S. seeds giant Monsanto MON.N
said attackers also damaged one of its GM maize fields in southwestern
France. The destruction took place in Montech, close to Toulouse, on
Wednesday night, it said. While GM crops are common in the United States,
France and other European countries are dubious about using the new
genetic technology in agriculture. France grows experimental GM crops on
around 100 sites, all approved by the farm ministry.

Supporters say the crops could lead to the development of hardier strains
to help feed the world's poor. Opponents say they could trigger an
uncontrolled spread of modified genes, harming the environment and
people's health.

Bove was first sentenced in November to 14 months of jail for the attacks.
His sentence was then cut to 10 months by a local court in February and
last week Chirac granted Bove a partial pardon, leaving his final sentence
at just six months.

STATE PROTECTION. The maize being tested by Biogemma is hoped to be
resistant to an insect that attacks maize roots and causes major crop loss
in Europe. Debrand noted the attack on its field took place hours after
Chirac announced on July 10 he would lower the sentence for Bove who was
jailed last month for ripping up GM fields in 1998 and 1999. "In 2002, we
did not have any attacks because there were threats of sanctions and
lawsuits with severe jail sentences. But these (sentences) were not upheld
and now the attacks have started again," Debrand said.

He said he would contact the French goverment in coming days to seek state
protection for its remaining GM tests. "Let's stop presenting the fight
against GM crops as legitimate, it is now an issue of vandalism," Debrand
said.

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

Stout Potatoes: Armed With a New Gene, Spuds Fend Off Blight

- Sorcha McDonagh, Science News, July 19, 2003 http://www.sciencenews.org

It has been more than 150 years since the Irish potato famine, when the
funguslike disease called blight annihilated the staple food for millions
of people. But blight is still the most serious potato disease in Europe,
the United States, and the rest of the world. Farmers spend billions of
dollars annually on fungicides to keep blight at bay.

Now, genetic engineering may give potato crops built-in resistance to the
pathogen. By placing a gene from a naturally blight-resistant wild potato
into a farmed variety, researchers from the University of
Wisconsin–Madison and the University of California, Davis have made plants
that are invulnerable to a range of blight strains.

The scientists suspected that a four-gene cluster in the wild potato
species Solanum bulbocastanum was responsible for its resistance to
blight. They cloned the genes and spliced one gene into each of four
batches of potato plants. When they exposed these new cultivars to blight,
one group stayed healthy, suggesting that the gene it received was
conferring resistance. The scientists named the gene RB, for resistance
from bulbocastanum.

Lead researcher John Helgeson of Wisconsin says that S. bulbocastanum
probably developed resistance to blight because it coevolved with the
pathogen in Mexico, where blight is widely believed to have originated.
Helgeson and his colleagues publish their findings in the July 22
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"If what they have shown in the greenhouse really happens in the field,
this has major promise for creating resistance to blight," comments Autar
Mattoo of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's vegetable laboratory in
Beltsville, Md.

Blight is caused by various strains of the funguslike organism
Phytophthora infestans, which thrive under warm, moist conditions. All
strains infect the potato plant's foliage, scarring it with lesions and
blocking photosynthesis.

Scientists have known about S. bulbocastanum's resistance to blight since
the 1950s. But of the scores of potato varieties bred around the world for
frying, baking, boiling, and chipping, none has been successfully crossed
with S. bulbocastanum. Some of those varieties won't interbreed with their
wild cousin, while others lose their best culinary traits when crossed
with wild potato plants. Helgeson and his team decided to bypass these
difficulties using genetic engineering.

He says that the blight-resistant plant his group created could be ready
for field-testing within about a year.

As a genetically modified food, however, the ultimate acceptance of the
potatoes by the world community remains a big unknown. "That's not a
scientific question," Helgeson notes.

The environmental benefits of the modified plant are compelling, he adds:
"By transferring this gene from one potato to another, we can greatly
reduce the reliance on pesticides."

Helgeson and his colleagues now aim to unravel how the RB gene enables
potatoes to stand up to blight. If the researchers succeed, they might
even open a way to circumvent the row over genetically modified foods. It
might be possible, Helgeson says, to design a new antiblight pesticide
based on S. bulbocastanum's natural defenses.

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

Questions About GM - Analysis

- The Times (UK), July 18, 2003

What are GM foods and crops? The focus of concern is genetically modified
organisms or GMOs, usually plants which have had their genes altered or
had genes from another organism inserted into their genetic make-up. The
altered or added gene confers an extra quality, such as making the plant
resistant to rotting and so increasing crop yields. Genes that control the
softening and ripening of fruit can also be "switched off", meaning that
the produce is less likely to be past its best when it reaches the
grocer's shelf.

Genetic modification can theoretically involve inserting genes from an
animal into a plant, but no such foodstuff (containing animal, fish or
human genes) has been approved anywhere in the world. Neither is any
foodstuff involving cross species modification being considered for
approval.

How are genes inserted? The gene that confers the desired characteristic
is snipped out of its host plant and attached to a stretch of bacterial
DNA. Also attached is a "promoter", a biological switch that turns on the
inserted gene in its new setting, and a "marker" gene that flags up where
this added gene has ended up. The gene package is then inserted into a
bacterium, producing new copies of the gene package as it reproduces. The
gene packages are then fired at high speed into the tissue of the plant to
be modified, which catapults the new gene into the plant's DNA. This
modified tissue is used to grow GM plants, and several generations are
grown to ensure that the inserted gene is working as expected.

Are GM foods safe for human consumption? The broad scientific consensus is
yes.
The report next week should expand on this. To judge food safety,
scientists use the principle of "substantial equivalence", which compares
the GM foodstuff with its non-GM counterpart. This principle is approved
by the UN and the World Health Organisation. The GM version must be ruled
at least as safe as the non-GM form.

This scrutiny, applied to each GM food, is carried out for the Government
by the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, which is overseen
by the Food Standards Agency. The American public has been eating GM foods
for nine years, and there are no reports of ill-effects. However, critics
point out that there has been no systematic, large-scale comparison of the
health of those who consume GM produce and those who do not.

Which GM foods have been approved in the UK and how do I know if they are
in my shopping trolley? Tomatoes (sold only as puree), soya and several
varieties of maize have been approved, with tomato puree going on sale in
1996. Unlike in America, British and European law requires that foods
containing GM ingredients must be labelled. However, a non-GM ingredient
can contain up to 1 per cent of GM material without the requirement for
labelling.

Are GM crops safe for the environment? Britain is not growing GM crops
yet.
However, the Government is currently conducting four farm-scale trials at
secret locations in order to assess whether they could be grown here in
the future. These will look at, for example, the incidence of
cross-pollination of the GM crop with a non-GM counterpart, and whether
such hybrids can kill off native flora. There are also practical
considerations involved in farming GM crops alongside conventional ones,
such as creating separate seed storage facilities so that GM and non-GM
seeds do not mix by accident. Supporters say that GM crops that are
engineered to require less pesticide, for example, are better for the
environment than conventional ones. The trials end next month, and the
Government is expected to report in the autumn.

Can it feed the starving?
Opinions differ. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics said last month that GM
crops should not be dismissed because they could make a "useful
contribution" to developing countries. These benefits come in the form of,
for example, higher crop yields, crops that are designed to flourish in
drought, and those with perceived health benefits, such as golden rice.
However, charities such as Oxfam, ActionAid and Save the Children largely
oppose GM. They say that world hunger is not necessarily caused by a
shortage of food, and that a widespread move to GM farming leads to an
undesirable reliance on just a handful of big multinational biotech
companies.

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

AgBioForum

Latest issue of AgBioForum is now available online at
http://www.agbioforum.org/. Below is the table of contents for the issue.

1. An Ex Ante Analysis of the Benefits from the Adoption of Corn Rootworm
Resistant Transgenic Corn Technology - Julian M. Alston, Jeffrey Hyde,
Michele C. Marra, and Paul D. Mitchell

2. Impact of Biotech Grains on Market Structure and Societal Welfare -
Sergio H. Lence and Dermot J. Hayes

3. US Food Manufacturer Assessment of and Responses to Bioengineered Foods
- Mary K. Muth, Dominic Mancini, and Catherine Viator

4. Putting Bounds on Estimating Economywide Impacts from Adopting the
Renewable Fuels Standard - Stephen J. Vogel, Kenneth Hanson, J. Michael
Price, and Gerald Schluter

5. Consumer Acceptance and Willingness to Pay for Genetically Modified
Vegetable Oil and Salmon: A Multiple-Country Assessment - Wen S. Chern,
Kyrre Rickertsen, Nobuhiro Tsuboi, and Tsu-Tan Fu

6. Marketing GM Foods: The Way Forwarr - Peter W.B. Phillips and David
Corkindale
--
Glenn Rice, Technical Editor of AgBioForum

Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, Editor of AgBioForum

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

GM Rice May Pave Way for GM Acceptance

- Crop Biotech Update, Isaaa.org

The importance of rice in the developing world and the significant role
played by the public sector in providing new rice crop technology will
result in faster acceptance and adoption of genetically modified rice.
This is a view forwarded by Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot of PG
Economics in the United Kingdom in their report entitled "GM Rice: Will
This Lead the Way for Global Acceptance of GM Crop Technology?" It is an
abridged version of the June 2002 PG Economics Report made available to
the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications
(ISAAA) for publication.

This report is divided into four key parts covering the global importance
of rice, rice biotechnology developments, current and future economic
strategic issues, market dynamics and conclusions.

Report highlights include:
* There are a number of genetically modified (GM) rice traits that are
either ready for or close-to-ready for commercial use; they offer some
potentially substantial benefits that can contribute to enhanced food
security in developing countries.
* The application of GM technology is currently 'stalled' as result of a
combination of constraints associated with politics, intellectual property
rights, regulatory approval processes and opposition to the technology
from some international interest groups.

* GM rice technology is projected to play a significant role by 2012. The
driving force will come from the adoption of GM rice technology at the
national level. The largely public sector plant breeding and research
bodies in China, Vietnam and possibly, India, will make this possible
based on their respective governments' desire to reap the benefits of the
technology.
* If GM rice is made widely available across Asia (without undue
restrictions related to significant royalties/license fees), its rapid
intake in the region has the potential to demonstrate the benefits of the
technology to the world. This may make a valuable contribution to reducing
opposition to GM technology, facilitating regulatory approval and uptake
of the technology in all crops.

The full report is available at http://www.isaaa.org. The publication is
US$25.00 inclusive of postage. Free copies of the publication are
available to nationals of developing countries.

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

Conko on Benefits of Biotechnology

- Crop Biotech Update, Isaaa.org

"As the world's population grows, environmental stewardship will require
science to find ways to produce more food on less land," says Gregory
Conko, Director of Food Safety Policy at the Competitive Enterprise
Institute, in his paper entitled "The Benefits of Biotech" published in
the Spring 2003 issue of Regulation.

Due to the complexities that plant transformation entails, the attainment
of the potential benefits of biotechnology seems remote to some people.
However, the biggest threat lies, not in these technological complexities,
but on the misconceptions that the science itself poses grave threats.

According to Conko, "to gauge the value of individual applications or
agricultural biotechnology as a whole, we have to place their risks and
benefits into a broader context that does not ignore the risks posed by
conventional and organic production practices or our ability to manage
those risks responsibly." Conko concludes that if biotechnology is
evaluated on a level playing field, farmers, consumers, and regulators
would probably see that it has more potential benefits than its
competitors.

Download the article at http://muse.jhu.edu.

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

Anti-modern Movement

Thomas R. DeGregori reveals four faces of the anti-modern movement:

Making organic produce sound safer:
http://healthfactsandfears.com/featured_articles/jul2003/organic071703.html


Making organic cow manure sound magical:
http://healthfactsandfears.com/featured_articles/jul2003/agriculture071703.html


Making longer lives sound like a bad thing:
http://healthfactsandfears.com/featured_articles/jul2003/people071703.html

Downplaying modern gains in health -- and height:
http://healthfactsandfears.com/featured_articles/jul2003/diets071703.html

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

French Clamp Down on "Email" Word

- The Inquirer, July 18, 2003, http://www.theinquirer.net

In a desperate attempt to protect the French language from the linguistic
equivalent of genetically modified pollen (English), the government of
France has clamped down on the use of the sort of word email, CNN is
reporting.

All uses of the word email are gonna be banned from all government
departments, and instead the French bureaucrats want people to use the
phrase courrier electronique, which means email.

This is a lost cause, so perhaps we should call Saint Jude in to help the
bureaucrats out.

Other words the French government has attempted to impose diktats on, in
the past, include "le weekend".

Oddly, most words in English that relate to the army are French... But why
is the noun for beer in French feminine? That one's always puzzled the
irregulars at the INQ. µ

L'INQ Le CNN

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

Is Genetically Modified Food A Poison?

- Father Leo D’Souza,S. J., Promotio Lustitiae, Social Justice
Secretariat, Society of Jesus (Rome). 2003 http://www.sjweb.info/sjs

(From Prakash: Father Leo is a rare individual - the only Jesuit priest
that I know who is also a plant biotechnologist. Trained in Germany, he
heads a lab at a small college in India that employs biotechnology in
developing solutions to local problems in agriculture. He has also has
trained over three decades many students and scholars. A celibate priest
who understands the virtues of modern gene transfer that obviates the
hassles of sexual crossing in plants.)

I am writing this response as a Jesuit plant breeder and a Jesuit
Biotechnologist. Plant breeding is in principle modifying the existing
genome of plants using various techniques. Genes have been modified by
nature, plant breeders and, in recent years, by transgenic technology.

Genetic modification in nature. In nature genetic modification occurs due
to abnormal crosses i.e. crosses between plants belonging to different
species or even genera, which normally do not mate with one another. Hard
wheat and bread wheat are the result of introduction of genes of a wild
grass, Aegilops, into primitive wheat. Modern maize is the product of a
cross between primitive maize with Tripsacum a wild grass. Both wheat and
maize are therefore essentially genetically modified organisms.

Genetic modification in nature has also occurred as a result of various
stresses such as temperature, chemicals and radiations. This is
responsible for the vast divergent genetic pool that is presently
available in nature.

Genetic modification by classical plant breeders. Classical plant breeders
have used the same techniques to create new plants or to transfer a
desired gene from a wild relative to a cultivated plant. Triticale and
Secalotricum are crosses between wheat and rye and have been accepted and
cultivated in spite of being genetically modified organisms. Genes for
disease resistance, for dwarf or tall varieties, have been inserted into
cultivated plants. We would not have many of our present cultivars without
modifications being introduced into their genetic make up. The dwarf
varieties of rice and wheat that ushered in the Green Revolution were the
result of mixing and modifying the genomes of a wide variety of these
plants. The process of identifying and selecting the plants with the
desired character however is very laborious and time-consuming. As in
nature, plant breeders have created a wider gene pool by inducing
mutations using chemicals and radiation.

Genetic modification using molecular techniques. Molecular biologists have
helped to refine the techniques used by classical plant breeders. It is no
longer necessary to mate two individuals and to limit the mating to
plants, which are able to cross with one another. Specific genes can be
identified, isolated and multiplied by molecular methods and can be
transferred to another organism with the aid of tissue culture techniques.
The problem however is to identify and select plants which have the new
gene. For this, the desired gene is tagged on to a marker gene which can
be easily, that is, visually or chemically detected. The first marker gene
which biotechnologists hit upon was a gene inducing herbicide resistance.
Plants, which are putatively transformed, were grown in a medium
containing the herbicide. Only such plants which had the Herbicide
Resistance Gene (HRG), and with it the desired gene, survived.

This technique unfortunately has some drawbacks. It is possible that the
plants tagged with the HRG will eventually dominate, resulting in a
herbicide resistant race. A discovery that genes can be transferred
laterally and can be absorbed by organisms from the soil or water adds to
the fear that these genes may be transferred to other cultivars. However,
scientists are aware of the problem and are now using alternate marker
genes like the green fluorescent protein gene. Techniques have also been
developed to withdraw the marker gene once its function is over.

Another fear is that genes, which are introduced from other organisms,
could induce allergies in persons who use these as food. The basis of this
fear is a gene from a Brazilian nut, which enhances protein production but
causes allergy in some persons. People who were allergic to the nut fell
sick when they ate products from plants transformed with this gene. That
is why it is necessary to have a warning label while marketing food
containing foreign genes. This certainly does not mean that all people who
eat food with this gene will be sick.

A similar fear is that if a gene produces a substance that is toxic to
pests, as in the case of the Bt gene from Bacterium thuringensis, this
substance could also be a poison for people who eat the product of the
plants modified with that gene. This fear is the reason why many people
reject genetically modified maize which has the Bt gene. The residues of
this bacterial spray cannot be fully eliminated and so there is a chance
it might get into the food chain. But no one has yet protested against its
use as a spray on cultivated plants. In recent years the Bt gene has been
spliced and built into various plants. Insect larvae of some genera die
when they feed on these plants. The gene is however highly specific in its
action and requires for its expression a high pH environment18 which is
not available in humans. Studies made so far do not indicate that there is
any toxic effect on human beings when they eat food with a Bt gene,
whether sprayed on the plants or built into them.

Our Experience and Experiments
In India the only crop allowed to be cultivated is the Bt cotton. Our
visits to the farmers and interaction with them show that these farmers
are happy with the Bt cotton as it reduces the costs of spraying the crop
against the bollworm. Many farmers in their eagerness to grow Bt cotton
have bought spurious seeds from fake seed companies and the poor cotton
crop of this season has been used as a cudgel with which Bt opponents can
browbeat the Bt proponents. However the Bt gene is only an insecticide
and, like all other insecticides, is not directly responsible for the
quality or yield factors of any crop. The overall poor cotton crop is a
result of the prolonged drought and, to some extent, the use of spurious
seeds. Compared to genuine Bt cotton, plants without the Bt gene or from
spurious seeds have shown a much lower yield due to drought and insect
attacks

In our Laboratory we are working on the transformation of three species of
plants. Cashew is a commercially useful plant fetching much-needed foreign
exchange for the country. Besides, it provides work for a large number of
rural women. The cashew trees grown at present are low yielding, the yield
is further reduced due to pests, and the raw nuts produced are not enough
to meet the market demand and to provide regular work for women. We have
established a protocol for large-scale multiplication of elite, high-
yielding cashew trees using tissue culture techniques. We are now trying
to introduce an insect resistance gene into the cashew plant, for we find
that at present the plantations need to be frequently sprayed with heavy
doses of insecticides. Spraying brings down the insect attack to some
extent but constitutes a health hazard to people in villages around the
plantations. Cases of malformation of neonates, deformities and various
diseases in grown ups have been reported. An insect resistance gene built
into the plant will not only control insect attacks more efficiently but
will also help to avoid risks to the health of the people.

Chilli, Capsicum annuum, a condiment used by the people of this region, is
attacked by pests that bring the yield down considerably. Heavy doses of
pesticides are needed to prevent losses. Some pesticide residues remain on
the pods even after they have been washed and enter the food chain of
humans. We are currently engaged in experiments to transform the Chilli
plants by introducing pesticide resistance genes that will prevent loss of
the crop as well as contamination of human food through pesticide
residues.

Ragi, Eleusine coracana, a coarse grain, cultivated and eaten by the very
poor people of the state of Karnataka, is attacked by several insects that
destroy the crop, causing great losses to the poor farmers. We are
studying the possibility of inserting an insect resistance gene into Ragi
to control losses arising from insect attack.

My team members and I are convinced that our work is economically and
environmentally useful. It will not only help prevent crop losses due to
insect attacks, but will also minimize the use of pesticides, promoting
thereby a safer environment.

Conclusion
Introduction of genetically modified food has raised a number of fears,
some genuine and some irrational. Human fears, whether genuine or
irrational, have to be attended to. New pharmaceutical products are tested
for their efficacy as well as their side effects before being marketed.
Any new variety of plants is tested for its qualities before being
released. So too, genetically modified plants, before they are approved
for cultivation, need to be tested for their quality, and particularly to
ascertain whether they are in any way toxic to humans. Proper precautions
and controls have to be exercised before they are marketed. It is
certainly self-defeating if we wholly ban all genetically modified
organisms on account of certain problems and fears.

The author did his doctoral studies in plant breeding at the Max-Planck
Institute for Plant Breeding in Cologne, Germany. He is currently doing
tissue culture and molecular studies of some important crops of India. The
paper has been written in consultation with his team, Dr Smitha Hegde, Dr
A C Augustine, M Anuradha and Sashikiran Nivas.
---
Leo D’Souza, S.J., Laboratory of Applied Biology (Dr Küppers Biotech
Unit), St. Aloysius College
Post Box 720, Mangalore 575 003 INDIA

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

Genetic Engineering Evaluated from the Perspective of Christian and
Ignatian Creation Spirituality

- Roland Lesseps, S.J, Promotio Lustitiae, Social Justice Secretariat,
Society of Jesus (Rome). 2003 http://www.sjweb.info/sjs

Introduction: My Position Concerning GMOs
My position on the questions raised in the Introduction is that the
evidence we have now does not support promotion of GMOs in agricultural
systems. The present GE technology does not permit the insertion of the
foreign DNA into a particular location on the host chromosome, nor the
addition of the normal regulatory mechanism. Insertion of DNA can cause
deletions and rearrangements of the original DNA at the insertion site.
This information helps us understand that GE is significantly different
from conventional breeding techniques.

I think that our human family should, at the very least, follow the
precautionary principle and not adopt a technology that is still
inadequately tested. We already have many examples of serious problems
brought about by our not being able to see the undesirable consequences
caused by our use of what seemed to be a wonderful benefit, e.g the
insecticide DDT was later found to lead to death of bird embryos by
thinning the egg shells and to cause cancer. The refrigerant gas
chloroflourocarbon was found to be destroying the ozone layer, and the
tranquilizer thalidomide caused severe abnormalities in over 7000 children
born of women who took the drug during pregnancy.

I will not in this short article attempt to give elaborate answers to the
above questions about GMOs, partly because I am sure that most of these
questions will be addressed by others in this issue of Promotio Iustitiae.
Rather, what I will try to do is offer some reflections on genetic
engineering that arise from our Judaeo-Christian and Ignatian
spirituality.

Judaeo-Christian creation spirituality and GMOs
A fundamental principle to guide us in our reflection about GMOs is that
all of God’s creatures have intrinsic value, in and of themselves. Nature
is not just useful to us humans, but is valued and loved in itself, for
itself, by God in Christ. A scriptural basis for this appreciation of all
creatures is in Genesis 1: "God saw that it was good…God saw everything
that God had made, and indeed, it was very good." This is an amazing
statement, points out Sallie McFague: "God does not say that creation is
good for human beings or even, more surprising, good for me, God, but just
good, in fact very good. God is saying that nature is good in itself --
not good for something or someone but just plain good. God’s pronouncement
here is an aesthetic one: appreciation of something outside oneself, in
itself, for itself. The writer of the first chapter of Genesis leaves no
doubt that the goodness of creation is its message: it is repeated seven
times in the space of 31 verses. How have we missed this?"

If we are willing to shift from an anthropocentric view of other creatures
and recognise that other creatures have intrinsic value, then we will be
able to accept that these creatures also have rights including the right
of each species to preserve its genetic integrity. Sean McDonagh puts it
this way: "From an ethical perspective the nub of the issue revolves
around whether other creatures have 'intrinsic' value. If they do, then it
seems logical to argue that they have rights that their own 'specialness,'
especially the species boundary, be respected by another creature."

Thomas Berry attributes the cause of the present environmental crisis to
"the effort of western peoples to produce a civilization that recognizes
the rights of humans and grants no rights to any other mode of being."
Berry, however, claims that "every component of the Earth community has
three rights: the right to be, the right to habitat, and the right to
fulfil its role in the ever-renewing processes of the Earth community."
Fitting well with these rights is certainly the right of each species to
preserve its genetic integrity.

Ignatian creation spirituality and GMOs
God’s appreciation of creatures as very good is clearly reflected in
Ignatius' relation to creatures. It is striking that David L. Fleming
expressed this Ignatian thought as the obligation we have to appreciate
and use these gifts of God insofar as they help us toward our goal of
loving service and union with God. We who are made in God's image ought
to reflect God’s attitude toward nature: appreciation. We are to
appreciate things in themselves, for their intrinsic value. "Neither
Genesis nor the Exercises offer licence to misuse the things God made. On
the contrary, 'insofar as any created things hinder our progress toward
our goal, we ought to let them go' is freedom and respect, not abu