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Date:

July 22, 2003

Subject:

Freedom Fighters or Charlatans?; EU - One Step Forward and Two B

 

Today in AgBioView: July 22, 2003:

* It's Time To Cotton On
* Freedom Fighters or Charlatans?
* EU Backs Farmers Who Want to Grow GMO Crops
* EU Adopts New Rules on GM Food Labelling, Clearing Way for Lift of Ban
* EU Labeling Rule Not Supported by Science
* EU Rules on GMOs to Ignite Trade War
* Coexisting With GM Crops- EC Publishes Guidelines
* Plants DO Contain Trans Fatty Acids & Food Labeling
* Scientists Respond to GM Science Review
* China Leads World In Colored Cotton Development
* Food for Thought From Scotland's Top Diet Expert
* Model Act: Effective Biosafety Regulatory Framework
* Greenpeace Activists Protest in front of WTO in Geneva
* GM Is Food For Thought
* Farm Gate to the Dinner Plate - Conference on Food Safety
* Burkina Faso Considers Use of Genetically Modified Cotton
* Bt Cotton In India: Need for Clarity
* In Europe, Modified Foods are a Menace
* Biotechnology's Transatlantic Divide

It's Time To Cotton On

- Jim Peacock, Herald and Weekly Times (Australia), July 23, 2003

'Governments must get their facts straight on genetics, argues JIM
PEACOCK'

AUSTRALIA is in a puzzling position in regard to genetically modified
crops. Transgenic cotton has been a part of Australian agribusiness for
the past six years and has been a major success, bringing a number of
benefits. It has saved an industry that was under threat from pests
resistant to available insecticides and it has transformed the industry
into one that is sustainable and profitable.

Another transgenic trait is tolerance to the herbicide, glyphosate, or
Round-up. Transgenic cotton has eliminated the need for labour-intensive
removal of weeds.

Apart from the environmental and health benefits, farmers now enjoy a
better lifestyle and increased profits. And regional economies are
stronger. So why aren't we repeating this success story with other crops?
Six years after the introduction of GM cotton, we now have moratoria or
freezes in five states and one territory against commercial GM canola.

The major issue driving governments to apply a moratorium seems to be
market access, both for transgenic and non-transgenic canola crops. This
concern is without factual basis.

Canada grows 85 per cent of its crop as transgenic canola and has no
difficulty selling it. Most of it goes to Japan, a country that accepts
both transgenic and non-transgenic canola. It enjoys the increased yields
of hybrid canola associated with the transgenic trait.

Australia could find itself in great difficulty in maintaining a future
position in the global market if we don't soon introduce the new
technology. Who is to blame for this situation? The politicians, the
public, media, farmers, the activist groups or scientists? Probably all
must bear some blame.

The politicians faced pressures over concerns of pollen contamination, the
need for crop segregation and other market matters. But there is a
suspicion some of the moratoria rest on political issues.

It is odd that some states are claiming to be champions of biotechnology,
seeing it as a driver of future industries, while at the same time
rejecting the use of some of the most powerful and beneficial
biotechnologies available. The public has concerns about the technology,
driven largely by media reports, often fed by activist groups who, for one
reason or another, speak ill of GM crops. In most cases their messages
are not supported by facts.

Scientists, generally, have not been effective in helping the public
understand what gene technologies can do for our industries, our food
supply and our environments. But they haven't failed in every case. Let's
look at why cotton was successful.

Extensive communication ensured good community awareness of the
development of the crop and its potential advantages. The regulatory
bodies in Australia made sure every potential hazard was examined. We
have native cottons in this country and CSIRO was required to do thousands
and thousands of tests to determine whether there was any possibility of
gene transfer to our native cotton species. There wasn't. There was a
complete genetic block. Every aspect of safety was thoroughly worked
through.

I believe cotton provides a model example for the successful entry of this
new and sustainable technology into productive agriculture. Our cotton
crop isn't alone in the world, with 58 million hectares of transgenic
crops grown in the past year, All of them found ready markets. They
include cotton, canola, soybean and maize. Most of these crops entered
the food chain.

I have calculated that at least 30 billion meals involving these crops
have been eaten in the past six years. This is a lot of food consumed by
a lot of people and there is not a single report of adverse health
effects. Nor is there a single case of negative effects on biodiversity
or on other aspects of the environment in which these crops were grown.

The claims often made that GM foods are potentially harmful to our health
and to the environment simply have no factual basis. They are mischievous
and misleading. I'd say that in the case of canola, in contrast to the
cotton, we didn't have all the bits of the jigsaw together. But it should
be possible to put everything in place within the next season or two.

GMOs do not deserve to have a reputation as something to be avoided or
feared.

We have an ethical obligation to explore the benefits of GM food, both to
alleviate suffering in the developing world and to maximise the benefits
of gene technology for environmental, economic and health reasons in
societies like Australia. By getting the facts straight about transgenic
crops, I believe our political masters will see that as far as
biotechnology is concerned, we can have our cake, and we can safely eat
it, too.
----
Dr Jim Peacock is president of the Australian Academy of Science and Chief
of CSIRO Plant Industry. This is an edited version of his address to the
National Press Club last week.

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

Freedom Fighters or Charlatans?

- Chris Preston

Dear David,

Yes the vitriol gets a bit thick at times; however, the vast majority of
questioning by Agbioview writers of claims made by some anti-GM groups is
entirely justified. One thing scientists usually do is examine the
original sources for stories. Where some of the more celebrated anti-GM
stories are concerned, the original sources do not justify the hype given
to the stories and in some cases contradict the conclusions reached by the
anti-GM activists.

David, it depends how conclusive you want to be. We have an activist in
Australia claiming that scientists are unwilling to say that GM food is
safe. In fact plenty of scientists are willing to say that, but what the
activists want is proof that no ill effects will ever occur - this is how
they have decided to define safe. This is a good strategy because science
is unable to prove a negative. So while we believe that current GM foods
are no less safe than non-GM foods, the activist will trumpet that we are
unwilling to state they are perfectly safe and, therefore, they must be
unsafe. This logic makes good sense to an under-informed public, but I
think you can see the way things are being twisted.

Your letter from Teresa of consumers international lauds in particular
four "freedom fighters". Teresa subscribes to a conspiracy theory where
big bad corporations are forcing scientists who oppose GM technology out
of jobs. There is in fact no such conspiracy afoot, however much Teresa
and others would like to believe it.

Tenure at Universities is dependent on excellence in teaching and
research. I do not have detailed knowledge of the process at UC Berkeley,
but it is abundantly obvious that the best thing Dr. Ignacio Chapela could
do would be to concentrate on demonstrating his teaching and research were
of the highest calibre in which case the University would have to hire
him. Instead we have the strange situation where a public campaign is
being used to apply pressure in a tenure process.

Dr. Arpad Pusztai made the error of publishing his results in the public
press before they had been peer-reviewed by his fellows. His area is not
my own, so I can't comment on the specifics of his research. Suffice to
say if you are going to the news with your scientific results you need to
be absolutely sure you are right. You need to ensure there are no problems
with experimental design that you might have overlooked (this is a major
consideration of the peer review process). Otherwise there will be serious
embarrassment when any faults are exposed. If you get this wrong, are past
normal retirement age and cause significant embarrassment to your
employer, I guess you can expect to be asked to leave.

Percy Schmeiser has told so many obvious fibs that it staggers me that he
can be held up as a paragon without everybody falling over laughing. As
one of my Canadian colleagues described it "He was caught with his hand in
the till and is now crying foul". He has given three different accounts of
how the canola got onto his land (only one of which could explain 90%
contamination), but never denied he grew almost 1000 acres of RoundupReady
canola without a license. He now claims that his 50 year's of canola
breeding have been contaminated by Monsanto's genes. It is obvious that
even this is a fiction as canola has not been around for 50 years. Percy
Schmeiser was taken on a visit to Australia last year and the stories he
told got larger and larger as the tour continued. He finished by stating
that Monsanto was dropping Roundup "bombs" on canola fields to determine
whether or not they contained RoundupReady canola.

Yet these are the people that Teresa of consumers international would have
you believe. It is perhaps this more than anything else that gets us
scientists riled. We, who devote ourselves to careful research to
determine the truth of matters, get ignored while charlatans like
Schmeiser get lauded as being the purveyors of truth simply because they
follow the anti-GM line.

It is all very well for Teresa to claim that "biotechnology corporations
feel the need to destroy the reputations of anyone who dares to speak out
to keep the world GM-free", but this is the very tactic that the anti-GM
movement uses as it main means of stopping scientist speaking out. A
number of my colleagues are well aware that many claims of the anti-GM
movement are bogus, but refuse to take a stand because they come under
personal attack if they do so. I can't blame them. Why should a scientist
have to put up with personal attacks simply because activists would have
the public believe something else?

Only last week I was talking about my own research at a meeting. This
research debunks one of the anti-GM movement's favourite Trojan horses -
superweeds. I was less than five minutes into the presentation when I was
interrupted by an anti-GM activist who wanted to know whether I was being
paid by Monsanto. This was despite my having at the beginning stated my
affiliation and my reasons for interest in the topic.

Cheers, Christopher Preston, Senior Lecturer in Weed Management,
University of Adelaide, Australia

--
>> GM Freedom Fighters? - David Simpson, Zambia
>
>> Despite efforts by Agbioview readers to assure me that GM foods are on
>> balance "good", it seems to me to be just one side's view against the
>
**********************************************

EU Backs Farmers Who Want to Grow GMO Crops

- Reuters, July 23, 2003

Local or national governments cannot ban farmers from planting genetically
modified crops, the European Commission said on Wednesday, supporting
those farmers who want to embrace the controversial technology.

The Commission's new guidelines -- part of a push to lift the five-year
moratorium on GMO crops that is under attack from the United States --
spell out how crops made from genetically modified organisms can be grown
alongside organic and conventional crops within the European Union. "It is
not possible for regions or national governments to introduce GMO-free
zones," European Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler told a news conference.

But while authorities cannot prohibit farmers from planting GMO crops,
Fischler said farmers in a certain area were free to get together and
decide against planting GMO crops, possibly using this as a marketing
tool. The reason that authorities cannot ban farmers from using GMO crops
is that it violates EU law that gives farmers the freedom to choose.

The provincial government of Upper Austria has banned genetically modified
organisms but the European Food Safety Authority recently said there was
no justification. But farmers in that region may now be able to take
action. "In case you are from Upper Austria you can go to the European
Court and say you disapprove of what Upper Austria is doing and feel that
your rights have been violated," Fischler said.

The Commission will take a final decision on the Austrian case in
September. The co-existence debate is seen by many in the biotech industry
as another way for GMO-sceptical countries to postpone lifting the
five-year ban on most GMO crops. It follows the adoption in principal of
rules to label all GMO food and feedmeal earlier this month, giving
consumers the choice between GMO and non-GMO products on supermarket
shelves.

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

EU Adopts New Rules on GM Food Labelling, Clearing Way for Lift of Ban

- Agence France Presse, July 22, 2003

European agriculture ministers on Tuesday adopted new rules on the
labelling of genetically modified foods, paving the way for the EU to lift
a four-year-old ban on GM products that drew sharp criticism from the
United States.

The official adoption follows a July 2 vote by the European Parliament in
Strasbourg to require food and animal feed to be labelled if they contain
at least 0.9 percent of GM ingredients.

There had been hope the parliament decision would ease the transatlantic
row over GM foods, but the United States has vowed to pursue its complaint
to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), arguing the new rules make the
issue even more complicated. Consumer rights and environmental groups have
welcomed the measure, pointing to public concern over GM products, as most
consumers want proper labelling when shopping for food.

There is widespread distrust of GM products in Europe, where seven
countries -- Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy and
Luxembourg -- have made their support for lifting the moratorium
conditional on better information for consumers and agriculture producers.
The US government and agriculture companies there have in turn been
pushing hard to allow GM products into Europe, to boost its burgeoning
biotechnology food industry.

European Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstroem and Health and
Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne hailed the decision by
agriculture ministers, calling it a step forward in increasing consumer
confidence over GM foods. "Consumers now have a clear choice," Byrne said.

The new rules will come into effect three weeks after their publication in
the official EU gazette. Food producers and distributors then have six
months to apply the new procedures. Opinion polls suggest that European
consumers are deeply suspicious of so-called "Frankenfoods". Advocates of
GM foods argue that modifications to genes allowing, for example,
resistance to certain pests, could greatly increase yields and alleviate
global hunger.

However opponents say the technology is being pushed forwards by big
corporations without sufficient knowledge as to how GM plants might affect
the rest of the environment. The United States is leading a group of 12
countries, including Argentina, seeking to overturn the EU obstacles to
genetically-modified foods.

As a first step, the countries in mid-May requested a 60-day consultation
period at the WTO. Since by mid-July in their view there had been no
resolution to the dispute, they could next demand a WTO dispute settlement
panel hear the arguments.

The biotechnology row is one of many issues clouding talks ahead of a
meeting of the world's trade ministers in Cancun, Mexico in September to
take stock of stalled WTO negotiations to free up trade. Agricultural
subsidies are expected to be one of the main obstacles confronting
policymakers.

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

EU Labeling Rule Not Supported by Science

'GMA Says Biotech Traceability, Labeling Rule Will Inhibit Trade

- www.gmabrands.com July 22, 2003

Washington, DC, - A decision by the European Council of Ministers to
approve plans for the traceability and labeling of biotech food is not
supported by science and will inhibit trade, the Grocery Manufacturers of
America said today.

"This decision flies in the face of sound science," said GMA Director of
Environment and Technologies Karil Kochenderfer. "Not only has the
European Commission found biotech foods on the market today to be as safe
as, if not safer than, conventional foods, so have numerous other
scientific bodies, including the Codex Alimentarius, the World Health
Organization and the French National Academy of Sciences."

The European regulations require labeling for all foods derived from
biotechnology regardless of whether any modified DNA or proteins are
detectable. In addition, the regulations require extensive documentation
by farmers, transporters, grain handlers, ingredients suppliers and food
processors regarding whether their products contain, may contain, or were
derived from biotechnology at each stage of the production cycle. However,
the regulations exempt two categories of products - cheeses and wines -
which use biotech enzymes, and that are major European products.

"GMA believes regulatory policies for biotech products around the world
must be based on scientific principles," Kochenderfer said. "By dismissing
the science showing the safety of biotech foods on the market, the EU is
sending mixed messages to European consumers by saying biotech foods are
safe, but still requiring distinct traceability and labeling for these
safe foods."

European officials have claimed that this traceability and labeling scheme
is required in order to end the de facto moratorium on approvals of new
varieties of biotech foods and crops.

"These regulations neither enhance consumer understanding nor facilitate
trade," Kochenderfer said. "They simply replace one trade barrier with a
worse trade barrier."

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

EU Rules on GMOs to Ignite Trade War

http://www.foodnavigator.com July 23, 2003

US food manufacturers this week spoke out against new European rules on
the labelling and traceability of GMOs, describing the legislation as "a
brick wall blocking international trade". Cutting straight to the quick,
John R. Cady, president and CEO of the National Food Processors
Association (NFPA) claimed that the new traceability requirements "are so
complex and detailed that they equate to the process for handling nuclear
waste".

Europe's Council of Ministers this week formally adopted the two European
Commission proposals on genetically modified organisms which establish a
tough new system to trace and label GMOs and to regulate the placing on
the market and labelling of food and feed products derived from GMOs.

The controversial rules - overwhelmingly welcomed by European consumer
associations and environmental groups - aim to address consumer concerns
in europe over the environmental and health effects of GMOs.

Products containing more than 0.9 per cent GMO material will be clearly
labelled. In addition, in a bid to tighten up traceability the food
industry must - when using or handling GM products - transmit and retain
information at each stage of the placing on the market.

Speaking this week, Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David
Byrne asserted: "Europe will now have a comprehensive and transparent
system of authorisation and labelling that can only enhance business and
consumer confidence."

But the NFPA is not in agreement. According to the trade group, the
draconian rules will be seen by consumers as a 'warning label'. The
requirements ensure that these products are unlikely to enter the European
market, thereby actually denying consumer access to the products of
agricultural biotechnology, said Cady.

The voice of the $500 billion US food processing industry made no bones
about warning Europe of the repercussions linked to the new legislation.

"This is a bad decision by the EU," continued Crady. Adding that the NFPA
will work with the US trade representative to ensure the World Trade
Organisation "understands the problem these new requirements will pose,
and request the WTO to take appropriate action to resolve this issue."

US companies such as Monsanto and DuPont have a lot riding on European
acceptance of GM products having invested billions in agricultural
biotechnology. US soy exports to the EU have declined dramatically over
the past five years.

In May this year the US filed a case with the WTO against the EU 'over its
illegal five-year moratorium on approving agricultural biotech products'.
Europe has blocked all new GM crops since 1998, but the rules on labelling
and traceability cleared this week by the Council are largely recognised
as a step towards lifting the moratorium. Far from appeasing US farmers
and industry trade bodies, it would seem that Europe is in for a lengthy
trade battle over GMOs.

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

Coexisting With GM Crops- European Commission Publishes Guidelines

Brussels, 23 July 2003: Today the European Commission published guidelines
(1) which set out agricultural management practices for growing GM crops
along side other crops (coexistence). "These guidelines will help to
widen the choices we offer to European farmers, processors and consumers,"
says Simon Barber, Director of the Plant Biotechnology Unit of EuropaBio
(2). "GM crops offer clear benefits to rural communities and rural
environments and to the 6 million farmers who are growing GM crops around
the world."

Link to EuropaBio press release -
http://www.europabio.org/upload/articles/article_206_EN.doc

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

Plants DO Contain Trans Fatty Acids & Food Labeling

- Denis Murphy, Biotechnology Unit, University of Glamorgan, UK

Plants DO contain trans fatty acids - but in very low amounts. Kim Nill
(AgBioView 7/22/03) is correct in challenging the assertion that
non-hydrogenated soy oil contains trans fats - it does not. However, it
is not true that "No genes within soybeans, or any other plants, have EVER
"PRODUCED TRANS FATS"".

To the contrary, all plants contain a very important trans fatty acid,
called trans delta-3 hexadecenoic acid, that is esterified to phosphatidyl
glycerol (PG) and appears to be involved in photosynthetic membrane
function. As much as 35% of the fatty acid esterified to PG can be this
trans 16:1. Incidentally, this means that all green vegetables contain
trans fatty acids, albeit in small quantities.

Trans fatty acids are also found in some seed oils, eg it is 14% of seed
oil in Grindelia oxylepsis and 10% in Helinium bigelowii. However, there
are virtually no trans FAs in the oils from common oil crops like soy, oil
palm, sunflower or canola. The take home message is that plants make small
amounts of trans fatty acids, like many other "undesirable" products.

Should we label trans fatty acid foods? The high levels of trans fatty
acids, that apparently concern some consumers, are found mainly in
chemically hydrogenated fats. I have seen some very curious alleged
linkages between trans fatty acids (which we have been consuming for about
100yrs) with conditions like obesity
(http://www.globaltechnoscan.com/28thFeb-6thMarch01/food.htm). Which
brings us to the issue of food labeling - what is the scientific purpose
of labeling foods as containing trans fatty acids? Is it for health
reasons and if so exactly how good is the evidence here?

What about GM foods? By the way, I also note that the US government is now
mandated to introduce compulsory "Country of Origin" food labeling by
retailers (http://192.91.159.19/government/issues/agriculture/origin.htm).

From a consumer choice perspective, it may be argued that this is OK -
that is unless you accept that food labeling should be done on a strictly
scientific basis. If we really believe that olives from Italy are
substantially equivalent to olives from Spain, what is the point of a
compulsory "Country of Origin" label - unless you want to discriminate
against a particular nation? The analogies with GM food labeling are, I
hope obvious.

Either we label all food on a strictly scientific basis, or we go with the
potentially discriminatory (but perhaps consumer popular) practice of
using "Country of Origin" or "contains GM" labels - you cannot have it
both ways. This is not to say that retailers shouldn't be able to
voluntarily label any way they wish (as long as the label is true) but we
should be wary of government compulsion and apply consistent standards.

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

Re: Gurts and Developing Countries

- Drew Kershen

I thank both Dr. Jonathan Gressel and Dr. MacGregor for their comments on
Gurts and developing nations. I agree with their comments. When I
presented the idea that Gurts could facilitate the diffusion of
agricultural biotechnology in developing nations, I did not mean to state
or imply that I was thinking of developing nations becoming dependent upon
transgenic crops developed elsewhere. As Dr. Florence Wambugu has
consistently stated, the key for African farmers (or poor farmers
anywhere) will be access to the seeds because agricultural biotechnology
is the technology in the seed. [Dr. Wambugu once again made this point
explicitly in her recent talk in Australia as reported by Graeme O'Neill,
Sunday Herald Sun (Australia), July 20, 2003].

Access to the seeds for poor farmers can come from a developed domestic
seed market as Professor Gressel suggests, governmental research and
extension services from domestic biotechnology capacity as Dr. MacGregor
suggests, or (as an alternative) from international seed trade which may
include segmented markets with concessionary terms for certain farmers. I
favor all these because what I most favor is what Dr. Wambugu emphasizes -
poor farmers in developing nations must not be excluded from the benefits
of agricultural biotechnology.

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

Scientists Respond to GM Science Review

- UK Science Media Centre Press Release

Dr Mark Tester, Head of the Stress Physiology Group, Department of Plant
Scientists, Cambridge University said: "We cannot generalise about GM
crops - the risks and benefits depend on the genes you put in. This is a
completely logical position, and it is reassuring to see the Science
Review state this so clearly, and with the authority of a large and
eminent group of both pro- and anti-GM scientists. Surely we can now move
forward towards the establishment of a system where crops are approved on
a case-by-case basis."

Prof Peter Shewry, Associate Director, Rothamsted Research, said: "The
report is logical and well-balanced. It is important to consider GM crops
and foods on a case-by-case basis, in the same way as other novel foods
and processes. GM technology offers the opportunity to deliver real
benefits to consumers in terms of food safety, quality and, in particular,
nutritional and health-giving properties: these must not be ignored in the
debate which currently focuses on the environmental impact of first
generation agronomic traits such as insect resistance and herbicide
tolerance."

Dr Guy Poppy, Reader in Ecology and Head of Biodiversity and Ecology,
Southampton University, said: "This is a very balanced and thoughtful
review which has addressed both scientific and public concerns relating to
GM crops. I am in total agreement about the need to consider GM crops on a
case-by-case basis, as the variety of plants and traits make "all or
nothing" decisions almost impossible. Similarly, I feel that it would be
foolish to throw the "baby out with the bathwater" due to specific GM
crops - GM technology is a toolkit which can produce many things and the
secret is to ensure that we maximise the production of products where the
benefits outweigh any risks. This review has done an excellent job in
addressing seventeen areas of public concern and hopefully will start
re-establishing public confidence in scientific development and the
scientific process."

Professor Chris Lamb, Director of the John Innes Centre, said: "Through a
careful analysis of the scientific evidence this report addresses issues
raised by the public about the use of GM in agriculture and food. I
welcome its clear endorsement of the potential benefits of GM crops and
the safety of existing GM foods.

The report recognises that GM is one crop improvement technology among
several, and that the products of all these technologies should be
assessed on a case-by-case basis. In this context I regret that the report
does not make it more clear that the major environmental impacts of any
new or existing crop are determined by how it is managed.

Together with the economic review report, which recognised the short and
long-term benefits of GM crops in UK agriculture, this report provides the
evidence base on which the government can make its political decision on
the re-introduction of GM foods and use of GM crops in the UK."

Professor Johnjoe McFadden, Professor of Molecular Genetics, Surrey
University, said: "This report is yet another piece of scientific evidence
that shows that GM food is safe. There is now a mountain of scientific
evidence to indicate that GM food is safe and nothing to indicate it might
do us harm. GM technology can provide great benefits to both farmers and
consumers in providing food at lower costs with less damage to the
environment. A new generation of GM food may even be healthier than
conventional food. And in the developing world, GM technology may protect
crops from pests and disease and thereby help to feed the millions of
people who are starving each year. It is about time the anti-GM lobby
either found evidence that GM food isn't safe, or abandoned their campaign
against GM food and allowed British consumers, farmers (and the rest of
the world) to benefit from this technology."

Dr Rosie Hails, Ecologist, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Oxford, said:
"This report has pulled together a substantial body of scientific research
on the potential impact of GM crops. In doing so it has drawn on
established bodies of scientific knowledge spanning a wide range of
disciplines, including microbiology, epidemiology, agricultural science
and ecology. It has appropriately seen the key issues in the context of
the impact of conventional agriculture, for which it has identified the
need for better baseline data. Also highlighted is the continued necessity
to review GM technology on a case-by-case basis, and that environmental
impacts may well depend upon how farmers apply the technology in the
field. I would hope that this report will form the basis of ongoing
research and decision guided by sound scientific evidence."

Dr John Pidgeon, Director of Broom's Barn Research Station, said: "We
welcome this impressively balanced report; particularly its conclusions
that each proposed introduction should be looked at on a case by case
basis for the specific crop trait, associated agrochemicals and broad
farmland ecosystem involved; also that crop management by farmers will be
important in determining environmental outcomes, and that there is need
for further research on management options. Clearly there is a need for a
changed climate where careful research on potential environmental problems
and benefits can be carried out without vandalism of trials by minorities
seeking to impose their own beliefs on society. This report provides
welcome encouragement for a consensual way forward building the knowledge
base necessary to ensure that GM crops are introduced, with appropriate
regulation and advice on management, where there are demonstrable benefits
for agriculture and the environment."

Professor Ian Crute, Director of Rothamsted Research, said: "This is a
thorough, authoritative and objective scientific review of all the issues
that have been raised as concerns about the cultivation in the UK of
varieties of crops improved using GM technologies. It emphasises the
scientific rigour of the regulatory process and the need to divorce the
application of a specific technology from the actual characteristic
altered in a new variety including the way this may affect cultivation
practice. While more scientific information is always a good thing, the
public should be assured by the conclusion from this expert panel that we
are not running any significant risks by growing today's GM crops and
consuming products derived from them. "

Professor Vivian Moses, Visiting Professor of Biology at University
College London, commented: "The GM Science Review has reached very
sensible conclusions: blanket judgements of GM technology are quite wrong
and each product must be judged on a case-by-case basis; foods and crops
already approved are as safe as they can be for eating and growing; and we
can now go forward cautiously, taking as much care with future products as
we have in the past. The collective views of 24 scientists working for
nearly a year have not, however, stopped politicians and spokespeople for
the organic industry immediately contradicting some of the findings in
pursuit of their own commercial and other interests. If they want us
sometimes to listen to them, it's high time they started listening to us."

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

China Leads World In Colored Cotton Development

- Shanghai Daily, July 23, 2003 http://english.eastday.com

China is leading the world in the development and research of colored
cotton, announced Zhang Zhennan, an established cotton researcher and head
of the Genetically Modified Colored Cotton Institute of northwestern
China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Zhang was in Shanghai for a fair to promote garments made of colored
cotton. A total of 27 countries have been conducting the relevant
researches and development of colored cotton, including the United States,
China, Brazil, Egypt, Peru and India.

Nine strains of colored cotton have been approved by governments of
different countries for patent rights or naming and have been authorized
for mass production. Of the nine widely recognized colored cotton strains,
five were developed by Chinese research organizations, primarily the
Xinjiang cotton research institute.

China was capable of turning out brown and green cotton, said Zhang,
adding that researchers from the institute had been working with the
hereditary Science Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) to
produce red, blue and black cotton by transferring an external colored
gene into naturally grown white cotton with genetic engineering
technology.

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

Food for Thought From Scotland's Top Diet Expert

- Mike Merritt, The Express (UK), July 21, 2003

Scotland's top food expert has backed GM meals and denied that organic
produce is healthier. Professor Hugh Pennington also said that people
"sussed out" that the scientists who warned that thousands could be wiped
out by the human form of mad cow disease were wrong.

Speaking on the eve of his retirement the professor said obesity is a far
greater danger than food poisoning and called for children to be given
food safety lessons at school. The Professor adds that the E-Coli 0157
outbreak in Lanarkshire - which killed 21 people - had together with BSE
paradoxically revolutionised Britain's food industry.

Mr Pennington, who has been professor of microbiology at Aberdeen
University since 1979, was particularly scathing about the previous Tory
Government and experts like Professor Richard Lacey over the BSE crisis.

Professor Lacey, a Government adviser, warned the world that BSE and
variant CJD could wipe out a generation.

"In principle he was right to blow the whistle and say there should not be
any complacency but he blew his case by adding about three noughts to the
figures he was talking about, " said Professor Pennington. "I think
everybody sussed him out eventually. He was just going so far over the top
that you could not pay attention to this guy any more."

Professor Pennington headed the Government's probe into the E-Coli 0157
outbreak in Lanarkshire in 1996. His new book When Food Kills is published
by Oxford University Press in September when he retires. The book
examines both the E-Coli and BSE crises and is critical of how the
Government takes advice from its experts and how it handles it.

Professor Pennington says all poultry flocks should be made free of the
campylobacter bug, even though that would push up the cost to the shopper.
"Organic food is just as likely to give you food poisoning, " he said.
"Research in Denmark has shown that organic chickens are significantly
more likely to have campylobcater because the birds are older when they
are slaughtered.

"I don't think organic food is healthier. It may use less pesticides but
the amount of pesticides used in non-organic food is unlikely to do
anybody any harm. It is about zero."

Professor Pennington also believes schools should teach pupils food
safety. "You would couple that with a broader approach to food -
including what a good diet is and obesity, which is a much bigger problem
than food poisoning. EColi only kills a few people over a year while
obesity is killing thousands."

The professor is also in favour of GM food. "I think each GM product
should be looked at on its own merits, " he said. "The key for producers
of GM food is to make it cheaper, nicer and safer than the natural
product. "If they do that the argument will wither because at the end of
the day people vote with their purses."

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

Model Act: Proposed Provisions for a Transparent, Effective and Workable
Biosafety Regulatory Framework

- Stanley H. Abramson (Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn, PLLC), Laura M.
Reifschneider (International Environmental Resources)

Download this 50 page document that provides technical help for developing
countries to adopt a biosafety policy in line with the Biosafety Protocol
at

http://www.agbios.com/docroot/articles/03-120-001.pdf

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

Greenpeace Activists Protest Against GMO in front of WTO Head Office in
Geneva

- Swiss News Digest English, July 21, 2003

Activists of the international environmental group Greenpeace gathered in
front of the head office of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva,
southwestern Switzerland, to protest against genetically modified
organisms (GMO) on July 21, 2003.

The Greenpeace activists were dressed up in an Uncle Sam manner. They tied
up a group of people to symbolise a genetically modified corncob.The
protestors also replaced the sign of the World Trade Organisation with
World Transgenic Order.

The move was provoked by a complaint lodged at WTO by the United States on
May 13, 2003 against the moratorium on GMO, imposed by the European Union.
According to the protestors, the WTO is defending the interests of the
U.S. industry, to the detriment of the consumers. The preliminary talks on
the issue between the WTO and the United States have not been finalised.

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

GM Is Food For Thought

- Derby Evening Telegraph(UK), July 21, 2003

In the autumn the Government will be deciding whether or not to allow the
commercial growth of genetically modified crops in Britain. I am
extremely concerned about this and urge everyone who is against it to make
their feelings known.

Why do we need to take the risk of interfering with Mother Nature and the
natural way of the world when we already produce perfectly adequate fruit,
vegetables and grains.

As for the argument that GM varieties would yield greater crops to feed a
hungry world, we already have mountains of unused, undistributed foods.
The problem lies with the political and economical way of the world.

The planet is already suffering the consequences of pollution, overuse of
poisons and chemicals. To unleash the GM monster is a sure way to
disaster.

- Andrea Spurling, Suffolk Avenue, Chaddesden

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

Food Fight

- G MacFarlane, Mirror (UK), July 23, 003

I was shocked to hear that government scientists have planted genetically
modified plants in the wild in Scotland to see whether they would
pollinate or interfere with plants nearby. Luckily the plants died and no
cross pollination was recorded but surely this whole experiment was
grossly irresponsible.

It could have led to mutations in the genetic makeup of various plants and
affected our natural environment in a host of unknown ways. The
scientists are tinkering with our natural world without any clear idea as
to the outcomes. - G MacFarlane, Aberdeen.

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

From the Farm Gate to the Dinner Plate - Conference on Food Safety

- November 2-4, 2003; Edmonton, Alberta

For Canada to maintain its competitive advantage as a leader in quality
food production, both at home and abroad, excellence in food-related
research must continue to be integrated with the vast knowledge and the
wealth of practical experience that exists with farmers, producers,
government, industry and other stakeholders in Canada's agriculture and
agri-food industries.

http://www.aic.ca/aicf/conference

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

Burkina Faso Considers Use of Genetically Modified Cotton

- Brahima Ouedraogo

Bobodioulasso, Burkina Faso, Jul 23 (IPS) - The impoverished West African
nation of Burkina Faso is giving serious consideration to planting
genetically modified cotton due to the destruction of nearly half its crop
seeds annually by caterpillars resistant to pesticides.

The use of transgenic seeds will also boost cotton production. Sixty
percent of Burkina Faso's export receipts come from cotton, which is the
lifeblood of 2.5 million farmers.
The National Institute of the Environment and Agricultural Research
conducted two tests on BT cotton in the east and west of Burkina Faso
early this year.

Bacillius Thurengiensis (BT), an insecticidal gene, is injected in the
cotton to make it resistant to pests.
At a workshop last week, on genetically-modified organisms and
genetically-modified cotton, in Bobodioulasso, 360 kilometres west of
Ouagadougou, the country's capital, provisional results of the tests were
released. And an announcement was made that the use of genetically
modified cottonseed was being considered.

''If we have regulatory laws and bio-security to minimise the risks and
concerns related to GMOs (genetically modified organisms), we could be
looking at the use of genetically modified cotton in Burkina Faso in the
near future,'' says Georges Yameogo, director of the state-run cotton
firm, the Societe Fibres et Textiles de Burkina (SOFITEX).

Local researchers, who are working with Monsanto, the main developers of
GMOs, will soon sign another contracts with the Swiss firm Syngenta, which
specialises in GMOs. ''We should not stay in the sidelines of GMO
research. Because one day we may be invaded by plants which are smuggled
in or be forced to use other people's products,'' says Hamidou Boly,
director of the National Institute for Agronomic Research.
Boly describes Burkina Faso's decision to conduct research on GMOs as
''courageous and justified''.

''However'', he warns, ''before any final decision is made we must conduct
detailed economic and sociological studies to accompany the scientific
studies on how the plants adapt to climactic conditions, the quality of
the fibre produced, and the net advantage for producers''. Mourad
Abdennadher, Monsanto's technical director, says the direct benefits of
genetically modified cotton include a 30-to-60-percent increase in yields,
as well as lesser need for pesticides, which reduces health risks to
farmers. ''The water table will also be safe from contamination by toxic
substances,'' he explains.

Each year, Burkina Faso imports more than four million litres of
pesticides, whose long-term use is considered toxic to the environment,
the soil, and human beings. The authorities in Burkina Faso hope to
reduce the 30 billion CFA (about 52.6 million U.S. dollars) that are spent
each year on crop additives, of which 10 billion CFA (around 17.5 million
U.S. dollars) go to insecticides.

Once GM farming is introduced, SOFITEX hopes to reduce the number of times
cotton is treated - from eight to two. The SOFITEX hopes that GM cotton
will fight pests, especially the helicoverpa armigera caterpillar, which
is the main destroyer in countries of the sub-region such as Benin,
Senegal, and Mali.

Researchers insist that Burkina Faso, a signatory to the Cartagena
Protocol on the Prevention of Biotechnological Risks, will respect safety
measures by demanding that the BT gene be transferred only in the local
variety of cotton. Farmers in Burkina Faso are looking to South African
farmers who, since 1998, have improved their production by using
transgenic BT cotton. The Burkinabe farmers hope to increase their yields
by 30 percent.
Phenas Gumade, a South African farmer who started using BT cotton in 2000,
says his yield increased by 75 percent, and often reaches two metric
tonnes per hectare. His use of insecticides has dropped by 40 percent.
''The quality and quantity of the fibre today makes local farmers real
entrepreneurs. They employ a workforce and are able to send their children
to school,'' he says.

In Burkina Faso, the yield per hectare is 1.2 tonnes because of the
destruction caused by the caterpillar, and an increase to 1.5 tonnes is
regarded possible with the transgenic plants. According to researchers
from Monsanto, the yield per hectare could go up 33 to 80 percent when
climactic conditions are favourable. Celestin Tiendrebeogo, the president
of SOFITEX, urged the government to move fast before farmers get
discouraged and turn to something else. ''In 10, 15 years, we will have no
choice but use GMOs given the increasing rate of resistance to pesticides.
We can't hold on much longer, because the small farmers may stop growing
cotton,'' he warns.

''Cotton is vital for the country today. So we must explore every avenue
which offers us the opportunity to boost revenues to the rural population
by fighting the pests,'' he adds. Frederick Perlak, an advisor on
farming, says Burkina Faso's example will probably be followed by other
West African countries. ''The introduction of technology makes producers
more competitive,'' he says.

For government officials, the new technologies should create a chain
reaction which will not only increase cotton and fibre production, but
also cattle fodder and cotton oil. The government intends to clarify
patent issues and property rights so that no party involved in the project
is left out. The government says Burkina Faso must not lose out in such
transactions.

But anti-GMO activists are demanding that the government trod with care.
''It's important to wait and take off time to reflect on the technology
since the risks to humans have not yet been fully studied,'' warns Father
Jacques Simpore, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life at the
Vatican. ''More research must be done before this technology is widely
disseminated,'' he says. ''Our concerns must be listened to, otherwise, we
will not be there to enjoy the profits,'' warns Francois Traore, president
of the National Federation of the Small Farmers of Burkina Faso.

In spite of assurances from the researchers on the conclusive results of
experiments in Australia and South Africa, Burkina Faso's small farmers
fear that genes from BT cotton could contaminate food crops grown near the
cotton fields.

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

Bt Cotton in India: Need for Clarity

- N. Suresh, Editor, BioSpectrum India, April 11, 2003
http://www.biospectrumindia.com/content/editorial/10304111.asp

Bt cotton seems to have a unique place among seeds in India. When it had
almost faded from public memory after formal approval was granted for its
use by the government last March, the campaign against it had subsided.
Now a year later, a virulent campaign against Bt cotton has started. The
latest episode was the ugly protest by a coalition of opponents from non
government organizations (NGOs) led by Greenpeace at Monsanto's research
center in Bangalore.

The protests are also fueled by lack of accurate information about the
results of the first year's crop yield from Bt cotton. The only definite
statement by the government in Parliament indicated that the Bt cotton
yields were satisfactory. However, ministers in various states have issued
contradictory statements. Cotton farmers in Andhra Pradesh have hinted at
Bt cotton failure and have even attributed some farmer suicide cases to Bt
cotton crop failure. They have even talked about lower cotton yields and
increased use of pesticides in Bt cotton crop.

On the other hand, Monsanto, the developer of Bt cotton, is firm that the
first year's crop was not a failure. After all, the transgenic seed
provides good resistance against the major cotton pest, Bollworm, and does
not claim to act effectively against other pests or increase crop yields.
Opponents of Bt cotton have demanded compensation from Monsanto to Bt
cotton farmers. As public protests and debates continue, the Bt cotton
episode has raised some serious issues.

Which is the correct forum to debate what is essentially a scientific
issue? The streets or research labs or Parliament? In this case, all these
three fora have failed to be on any help. Food policy expert Devinder
Sharma laments the fact that the Indian scientific community has so far
failed to offer an independent view on the controversy, perhaps weighed by
the lack of funding mechanisms independent of the government or private
companies.

In a country with a functioning legal system, the streets are certainly
not the place to debate such a controversial issue. After all, Monsanto
has marketed the Bt cotton seed after complying with all regulatory
processes and farmers have bought it not under any compulsion. Parliament
has yet to debate the issue meaningfully and the blame for this should be
placed at the doors of the regulatory agency, the Genetic Engineering
Approval Committee (GEAC) of the Ministry of Environment. The onus is on
the GEAC to share the relevant data with the public and clarify the
correct position amidst the claims and counterclaims.

It will be better if the opponents of Bt cotton and other genetically
modified products force a debate involving the GEAC and other government
agencies such as the Department of Biotechnology and the Indian Council of
Agricultural Research (ICAR) who have the expertise on this topic. As
public interest is the paramount issue here, the Bt cotton debate could be
the forerunner of the government initiative to engage the people in
decisions that affect their lives.

Geneticallly engineered products are here to stay. The march of technology
can at best be slowed down and not stopped. Let us set an example to the
world by debating this issue in a civilized way and not decide these
things on the basis of street power.

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

In Europe, Modified Foods are a Menace

- St. Petersburg Times (Florida) July 23, 2003

During a recent trip to Europe, I ate baguettes just minutes from the
oven, cherries only hours off the tree and goat cheese a mere two days
old. Sampling fresh breads and cheeses and luscious local fruit were
experiences I had looked forward to.

But I never expected to stand in the milking room of a small goat farm in
the south of France staring at a poster decrying genetically modified
foods. Nor did I imagine I would have a discussion with a French
journalist in a chic boutique about "Frankenfoods." "A food writer?" she
said. "You must have so much to write about with all the GM food."

Likewise, I was surprised when the topic arose over breakfast in our
guide's home in Cornwall, England. Verdant hills rolled seemingly forever
in the pasture behind Howard's house, but he was not as bucolic. "They
don't know what this stuff will do to us," he said gruffly.

"They" are scientists and government officials, and "this stuff" is food,
such as corn and tomatoes, that has been altered genetically to stand up
to debilitating bugs and, in some cases, weather. GM crops also are
developed to resist pesticides.

Doesn't it make you wonder, as we eat ever-more processed food and ignore
warnings about chemically laden meals, if they know something we don't? It
does me. A European tourist could spend weeks in the United States,
talking to dozens of people in cities East to West and never hear anyone
utter the phrase "genetically modified organisms." "Biggie size," yes.
"Roundup Ready seeds," no.

In Europe, GM food is a biggie-size issue. Europeans have been successful
at blocking GM food proliferation in the European Union, so far. They are
afraid that sustainable farming will be wiped out by wayward seeds carried
from GM crops by wind and animals. Farmers who save seeds from their most
successful crops to plant next season are the most nervous. Once their
seeds have mingled with biotech seeds, all the crops become GM, whether
the farmer wants them to or not.

Europeans also are suspicious of claims that say there are no long-term
health effects. This month, the EU approved legislation that would require
hundreds of new American-made foods to be labeled as having been
genetically modified. (Large-scale American farmers and an unhappy Bush
administration view the move as a trade block rather than real concern for
consumer health.) And Jose Bove, a French environmental activist (some
say terrorist), is in jail there for destroying a test field of GM rice.
Some 200 people a day reportedly show up at the prison gates to sign a
petition for his release.

Even starving countries in Africa have rejected U.S. food aid, fearing
trade problems and contamination of local crops. Many people around the
world remain unconvinced that biotech food is safe despite its potential
to reduce pesticide use and increase productivity.

In the United States, by contrast, GM foods are pervasive. The tortilla
chips in your grocery cart may contain corn whose genes were manipulated
to kill insects. GM ingredients have been found in everything from baby
food to McDonald's veggie burgers. Modified soybeans and corn are in more
than half of all packaged foods, according to the Environmental News
Network. Yet many Americans are unconcerned. An initiative sponsored by
Floridians for Health Rights that would have required labels on GM foods
failed to get enough signatures to make the state ballot last year.

Why do we see things so differently from the Europeans?

Partly because we like to believe that our government looks out for us and
partly because of our disconnect with food sources. Our children, and many
of their parents, don't have a clue that mayonnaise is made from oil and
egg yolks or that cheese comes from animal milk. We want asparagus in
January when its North American season is spring, so we pay $6 or more a
pound for Chilean stalks.

And how many people know that 75 percent of the nation's soybean crop is
genetically modified? The cure-all food of the new millennium is part what
nature gave it and part chemical cocktail, inoculated with an herbicide to
build resistance to Monsanto's Roundup. (Some non-GM soy products, such as
milk or tofu, say so on the label.)

With all this agricultural alchemy going on around us, we remain
stubbornly transfixed by fat grams and carb counts. Never mind recent
research that fried and baked starchy foods, such as french fries and
potato chips, contain significant amounts of the carcinogen acrylamide.

We get excited when Kraft announces it is excising fat from cookies, but
what's in what's left? A mouthful of chemicals that will reap a pocketful
of money for the big food conglomerate.

Maybe the question isn't what's making us fat, but rather why don't we
care about the quality of our food? We are paranoid about stuffing the
Thanksgiving turkey for fear of bacterial contamination but hardly
question the antibiotics injected into the bird.

Yes, Europeans still smoke too much and the French invite their poodles to
the table. And when temperatures soar into the 90s, a tepid soda with a
lonely chip of ice hardly refreshes. We've got them on convenience,
quantity and largely price, for sure.

But I am afraid we're giving up on the quality to which European consumers
cling.

Honestly, when was the last time you ate a tomato that tasted like one?

***********

Biotechnology's Transatlantic Divide

www.whybiotech.com

Differences in culture and recent food scares help explain differing
attitudes toward biotechnology between Europe and the United States.

With the United States' challenge of the European Union's (EU) de facto
ban on approvals of biotech food products before the World Trade
Organization, the unanswered question is how two cultures with a common
heritage can have such different opinions about food?

North Americans, by and large, are accepting of the technology - or at
least indifferent to it. Europeans, on the other hand, remain skeptical of
biotechnology, although opposition appears to be softening.

Why the transatlantic divide?
Experts say there are probably three broad reasons that explain the
divergent opinions:

* Food scares: Europeans have endured a flurry of food scares in recent
years - from mad cow disease to dioxin-tainted animal feed. Food safety
has become a major political issue in Europe while in the United States it
remains a lower-priority issue.

* Confidence in food safety regulatory agencies: The decentralized
European system is heavily influenced by political pressure and shifts in
public opinion where the centralized U.S. system operates more
independently and relies more heavily on science in reaching decisions.

* Culture: Food and eating play a central role in traditional European
life, and in the view of Europeans, biotechnology represents yet another
encroachment of American cultural hegemony. Europeans generally live to
eat where Americans eat to live; they resent the American fast-paced
approach toward food production and consumption. (The United States
accounts for about two-thirds of global biotech plantings.)

Differences in opinion
So how different are opinions between the United States and Europe, where
more than a century ago Austrian monk Gregor Mendel first explored how
genetic traits are passed from one generation to the next?

Americans are more likely than Europeans to agree that biotechnology is a
benefit to society that will help make foods better, according to recent
public opinion surveys by Agricultural Biotechnology Europe and the
International Food Information Council.

While 70 percent of Americans say they'd buy produce genetically enhanced
to need less pesticide, for example, only one in three Europeans support
using biotech to develop improved crops - and most would stop buying a
favorite product if they learned it had biotech ingredients.

Nearly 60 percent of Americans favor the U.S. system of specially labeling
biotech foods only when there's a health- or safety-related reason, 4
while Europeans want mandatory across-the-board labeling.

One reason for the differences in opinion, according to author Daniel
Greenberg, is that while Europe is as technically advanced as the United
States, its attitudes about food are more conservative. "The transatlantic
difference may be that Americans are accustomed to a steady stream of
novel products from a highly competitive food industry," Greenberg told
the Washington Post, "whereas Europeans tend to be more traditional in
what they eat."

Food scares in Europe
Europe's also been rattled by food safety scares, including one that was
headline news in November 1996, when the first biotech soybeans arrived in
Hamburg, Germany, on the freighter Ideal Progress.

Public health authorities in the United Kingdom, who had denied for
several years that "mad cow" disease was a threat to the public, admitted
in 1996 that eight people had died from eating tainted beef. Eventually
there were more than 100 deaths and farmers slaughtered $5.5 billion worth
of cattle.

Mad cow and other food emergencies that have hit Europe over the last
several years - including E-coli, contaminated soft drinks and a scandal
involving dioxin-tainted animal feed that brought down the Belgian
government - weren't caused by biotechnology. In fact, biotech foods,
which most North Americans eat every day, have a solid safety record.

But in the wake of these scandals, "there is this perception among people
that scientists want to mess up the environment and make people ill," says
Peter Cotgreave of Save British Science.

Anti-technology, anti-biotech organizations like Greenpeace and the Green
Party gained influence particularly in France and Germany. Environmental
groups, consumers' unions, even the media rank above industry and public
authorities in surveys of who the public trusts in the debate over
biotechnology.

Regulatory agencies: U.S. and Europe
That's key because unlike in the United States where the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) operates independently and approves or rejects new
foods based on science alone, the European system is heavily influenced by
political pressures and shifts in public opinion.

"The U.S. system is characterized by strong central institutions such as
the FDA, heavy reliance on science in decision-making and considerable
independence of regulators from political pressure - all of which is in
stark contrast to the relatively decentralized and politicized food safety
system in the EU," according to professors Mark Pollock and Gregory
Shaffer of the University of Wisconsin.

In 2001 the European Commission (EC), which is the executive branch of the
EU, released a summary of 81 research projects it had funded over 15 years
on the safety of genetically modified crops. 9 Like the FDA, the United
Nations and the World Health Organization, the EC concluded they're as
safe as, if not safer than, conventionally grown crops.

The restrictions on biotech crop planting and food products have stayed in
place, however, while legislators craft strict label and "field-to-fork"
commodity tracing laws they hope will mollify the concerns of the public.
While the rest of the world has made biotechnology the most rapidly
adopted technology in the history of agriculture, biotech research and
development in the European Union has declined dramatically in recent
years.

Cultural differences: fast food v. foie gras
"The Jimmy Buffet hit says 'I wish lunch would last forever,' but the
thought is much more European than American," writes British journalist
Peter Pringle, 10 suggesting another dimension to the Europe/U.S. split
over biotechnology.

If most Americans eat to live, generally preferring low-cost, mass
produced foods you can eat on the run, Europeans live to eat. They're
likely to spend more time at the market and the table, and to favor local
products. Like organic food eaters in the United States, they're pickier
about where a food is from, what's in it and how it was grown - and are
willing (and have the means) to pay extra for their preferences.

European farms reflect those preferences. They're smaller than American
farms (the average size is 25 acres), closer to where most people live,
and they grow much less. Many farms produce specialty niche foods
identified with their p