Today in AgBioView: August 4, 2003:
* Vatican says GM food is a blessing
* RESOLUTION SUPPORTING US TRADE ACTION AGAINST EU ON AG PRODUCTS
* Greenpeace finance
* U.S.-Europe Brawl on Genetically Modified Food Uses Africa as a Pawn
* Response to Lance Kennedy and Alex Avery
* Greens' drugs man jailed for growing dope
* Why farmer scrapped GM trial
* Adoption of Corn Rootworm Resistant Transgenic Corn Technology
* GM cotton crops halve pesticide use
* Diversity in food technology
* Sugar Cane
* Rachel Carson's Ecological Genocide
Vatican says GM food is a blessing
By Richard Owen
August 05, 2003
THE Vatican has stunned opponents of genetically modified foods by
declaring they hold the answer to world starvation and malnutrition.
Until Sunday's statement the Vatican had been neutral in the European
Union-US confrontation over GM food.
Archbishop Renato Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and
Peace, said the Vatican was preparing an official report on biotechnology,
to be published next month, which would come down in favour of genetic
modification. The document will coincide with a debate on GM by EU farm
Archbishop Martino said the Pope was greatly interested in new
technologies for food development as part of a policy of sustainable
agriculture. He noted that 24,000 people died every day from starvation.
Archbishop Martino, who until last year was the Vatican representative at
the UN, said he had lived for 16 years in the US "and I ate everything
that was offered to me, including genetically modified products. They had
no effect on my health. This controversy is more political than
The Vatican study will argue that the future of humanity is at stake and
that there is no room for the ideological arguments advanced by
One Vatican official said: "The Book of Genesis clearly establishes the
domination of man over nature. God has entrusted mankind to preserve
nature but also to use it."
Archbishop Martino said the Pope had been influenced by the growing weight
of advice from the Vatican's scientific advisers. "The Pope ardently
desires to do something for the billions of people who go to bed hungry
every night," he said.
Archbishop Martino said freedom from hunger was one of the fundamental
rights of man. The Vatican's stand was consistent with its belief in "the
right to life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural
Vatican officials said many in the West had made up their minds about
genetic modification while ignoring the benefits to the world's hungry.
Velasio De Paolis, a professor of canon law at the Pontifical Urban
University, said it was "easy to say no to GM food if your stomach is
Scientific progress was part of the divine plan, he said. "The
introduction of new and more efficient technologies such as second and
third-generation GM foods, in harmony with sustainable development, is not
a threat but a benefit."
Carlo Bernardini, editor of Italy's leading scientific magazine, Sapere,
said he hoped Italy, which holds the rotating EU presidency, would take
its lead from the Pope.
But Alfonso Scanio Pecoraro, head of the Italian Greens and a former
agriculture minister, said he was horrified by the Vatican's intervention.
"The church is using its authority to support a scam by the US
multinationals," he said.
He suspected the administration of US President George W. Bush had put
pressure on the Holy See.
RESOLUTION SUPPORTING US TRADE ACTION AGAINST EU ON AG PRODUCTS
(5/22/03 Floor Statement by Senator Bond)
MR. BOND. Mr. President, I come to the floor today in strong support for
this bipartisan resolution and in strong support for President Bush's
decision to stand up for our trade rights before the World Trade
Organization. Mr. President, this action is right on principal, right on
law, right on science, and morally right. The European Union, for reasons
rooted in old fashioned agricultural protectionism, have placed an illegal
moratorium on U.S. crops produced with new approved biotechnology and this
illegal moratorium should be confronted.
Two years ago, European Environment Commission Margot Wallstrom told a
news conference the following: "We have already waited too long to act.
The moratorium is illegal and not justified. The value of biotechnology is
poorly appreciated in Europe and there's a risk the biotechnology industry
will not develop." In short, we couldn't have said it better ourselves and
I appreciate the Commissioner having the courage to be so candid.
Mr. President, three years ago, I was honored to have an editorial
published in "Science" magazine entitled, "Politics, Misinformation, and
Biotechnology." In it, I noted that "The development of this technology is
not recreational. Through biotechnology, scientists are attempting to
solve the real-world problems of sickness, hunger, and resource depletion.
The hysteria and unworkable proposition advanced by those who can afford
to take their next meal for granted have little currency among those who
are hungry. It will be up to the policy-makers, advocates for the needy,
scientists, the media, and others to ensure that reason, not hype,
Since reason has not prevailed in Europe, it is time for our over-taxed
patience to give way to the need to exercise our rights before the WTO. If
the Europeans had been satisfied to exist as a "plant technology free
zone" without aggressively attempting to influence other nations, this
action would not have become as imperative as it is.
This European ban is a lesson about the serious harm that can come in the
form of unintended consequences. Too-clever politicians in Europe coupled
with hysterical and anti-commercial activists decided that they could whip
their public into a frenzy and shield EU producers from U.S. competition
by suggesting that new technology is not safe. Now that the politicians
are listening to their scientists and realize that the technology is safe,
they say that they cannot accept it because their public is against it. In
other words Mr. President, they now claim to be hostage to the
misinformation that they created.
Consequently, we now have a major trade infraction, our farmers have lost
$300 million a year in corn exports, the European public doubts the
credibility of their science community, European investment in new plant
science is in sharp decline, their farmers do not have access to new
technology, and, most tragically, some countries in the developing world
are refusing to feed their starving people because they would rather
follow the hysterical European model than permit U.S. food aid to prevent
I do not believe this is where the Europeans wanted to be when they
started this nonsense, but this is where it has predictably taken them. It
is regretful and it is a shame that a continent that has produced some of
the world's leading technology would suddenly decide now to focus 50 years
behind rather than 50 years ahead. If they want to go backward, that is
their right but they do not have a right to drag the rest of the world
back with them.
A critical defining driver in this world between the "haves" and the "have
nots" is access to technology. Not all technology is good which is why
this country has a strict and science-based regulatory review process to
sort out what has value from what does not and what is safe and what is
unsafe. Our science-based system has been in existence for nearly a
century and it works because it is science-based and it is thorough, and
it is NOT political.
We demand that our agencies determine if it is or is not safe. They do not
take a poll. They answer the question. In the case of corn, for example,
we first field tested Bt corn in 1992, it was reviewed and approved in
1996, and planted beginning in 1997 on some 86 million U.S. acres. It was
re-reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 and re-approved
and re-registered for another seven years. In the case of Bt Cotton, it
was first field tested in 1991, it was reviewed and approved and
registered in 1995 and planted beginning in 1996 on over 27 million acres.
It was subsequently re-reviewed, re-approved and re-registered in 2001. In
the case of new soybeans, we first field tested it in 1990, and it was
reviewed and approved and registered in 1995 and has since been planted on
over 217 million acres.
So Mr. President. This was developed, studied, tested, reviewed, approved,
planted on several hundred million acres, re-reviewed, and re-approved
using a strict and science-based system. We are basing our review on
science and on experience - lots of experience. This is not hypothetical
or theoretical. No technology will ever be perfectly safe and we must
regulate this and other technologies aggressively but this has been the
most scrutinized new food technology of our age and it has been planted on
several hundred million acres around the world for many years and the
naysayers still have not identified a single stomach ache despite their
Our findings are not unique in the world. The case we have taken against
the EU to the WTO is joined by the governments of Argentina, Canada,
Egypt, Australia, Chile, Columbia, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, New
Zealand, Peru and Uruguay. I repeat, two years ago, European Environment
Commission Margot Wallstrom told a news conference the following: "We have
already waited too long to act. The moratorium is illegal and not
justified. The value of biotechnology is poorly appreciated in Europe and
there's a risk the biotechnology industry will not develop."
The World Health Organization said that, "WHO is not aware of
scientifically documented cases in which the consumption of these foods
has had negative human health effects."
France's Academy of Sciences said it "found no evidence to date that GMOs
presented any danger." It said further that, "There has never been a
health problem regarding consumers or damage to the environment."
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences completed a report that, "emphasized
it was not aware of any evidence suggesting foods on the market today are
unsafe to eat as a result of genetic modification."
The American Medical Association passed a resolution saying "It is the
policy of the AMA to endorse or implement programs that will convince the
public and government officials that genetic manipulation is not
inherently hazardous and that the health and economic benefits of
recombinant DNA technology greatly exceed any risk posed to society."
The French Academy of Medicine Medicine said in December that "GM use has
been a generally positive experience," and that "the moratorium should be
A joint report by the Royal Society of London, the U.S. National Academy
of Sciences, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of
Sciences, the Indian National Science Academy, the Mexican Academy of
Sciences and the Third World Academy of Sciences concluded that, "steps
must be taken to meet the urgent need for sustainable practices in world
agriculture if the demands of an expanding world population are to be met
without destroying the environment or natural resource base. In
particular, GM technology, coupled with important developments in other
areas, should be used to increase the production of main food staples,
improve the efficiency of production, reduce the environmental impact of
agriculture, and provide access to food for small-scale farmers.
The Royal Society of London in a report last year concluded that, "Given
the very long history of DNA consumption from a wide variety of sources,
we conclude that such consumption poses no significant risk to human
health, and that additional ingestion of GM DNA has no effect."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that "We have seen no evidence
that the bioengineered foods now on the market pose any human health
concerns or that they are in any way less safe than crops produced through
Mr. President, additionally, there is overwhelming support from individual
scientists and scientific organizations. Twenty Nobel Laureates have all
signed a letter supporting Agricultural Biotechnology. This endorsement
includes Dr. Norman Borlaug, known as "the father of the Green
Revolution." Dr. Borlaug has concluded that "We Need Biotech to Feed the
Over 3,200 other scientists have signed this endorsement.
Other supportive science organizations include: the American Council on
Science and Health, the American Dietetic Association, the 10,000-member
American Society fo Cell Biology, the 42,000 member American Society for
Microbiology; th Genetics Society, the 1,200-member Society for In Vitro
Biology, the 5,000-member American Society of Plant Physiologists, the
Deans & Administrative Heads of Agriculture and Public Universities and
many other leading science bodies.
Even Dr. Patrick Moore, who is a founding member of Greenpeace and a
trained biologist agrees that they fear is misguided. In a New Scientist
interview, he said directly that "I believe we are entering an era now
where pagan beliefs and junk science are influencing public policy. GM
foods and forestry are both good examples where policy is being influenced
by arguments that have no basis in fact or logic."
Scientists who are always reluctant to stand before the public and the
media understand that the EU action is not just an assault on U.S.
agriculture, but it is an assault on science. We rely on our scientific
community in this country not just to produce solutions to challenging
problems but to answer difficult questions. If we allow politics to
compromise their integrity, then we lose their value which has been
indispensable to our progress as a world leader.
Mr. President, the scientific consensus on this matter is overwhelming. In
this country, farmers, scientists, regulators, courts, shareholders,
elected officials, editorial boards and consumers have all ratified the
product and process and future of biotechnology in their own ways. For all
practical purposes, it is a settled issue and will remain so, so long as
our system remains science-based and our regulators remain diligent.
I had a South African cotton farmer in my office last week who said that
new technology in a seed has changed his life. He now has a harvest, he
produces profitably, he has a savings account, and now all his neighbors
are using the new technology.
U.S. agriculture continues to be on the forefront of the application of
modern science to improve the production and quality of food for the
public. Plant technology coupled with hard work has made it possible for
the U.S. farmer, who in 1940 fed 19 people, to feed 129 people today.
Tragically, 800 million children in the world remain hungry. The
population continues to grow as does the stress on the world's limited
land. This new revolution of biotechnology will be necessary to help
address the challenges of this century.
New beta-carotene-enriched rice created by Dr. Ingo Potrykus hope to
prevent 500,000 children in the developing world from going blind. New
varieties will be more drought and disease tolerant which make the
difference between a successful crop and a total loss in many places in
Asia and Africa. According to a recent study by the National Center for
Food & Agricultural Policy, eight new applications of biotechnology in the
U.S. have increased crop yields by 4 billion pounds, saved growers $1.2
billion and reduced pesticide use by 46 million pounds in the year 2001
Investment in the U.S. is increasing while according to a recent article
in "Nature Biotechnology", "Europe sees sharp decline in GMO research." So
much for their desire to better understand the technology. Field trials
have plummeted by 87 percent since 1998 according to a European commission
investigation. Requests to start European field trials of GM crops have
fallen from the 1998 peak of 254 to only 61 in 2001 and an estimated 33 in
2002. By contrast, according to the article, notification of GM trials in
the US are running at between 900 and 1,100 a year. Joyce Tait, director
of Edinburgh University's Center for Social and Economic Research on
Innovation in Genomics said, "We are beginning to see early-stage research
in Europe moving overseas and I expect that to continue. And multinational
companies will probably not keep their R&D headquarters in Europe if they
don't see a market here...."
In Missouri, world renowned plant scientists such as Dr. Roger Beachy and
Dr. Peter Raven are hiring European scientists whose services are no
longer welcome in Europe. Regrettably, Europe's fasted growing exports are
hysteria and under-appreciated plant scientists. We want Europe to join us
in our efforts to help feed the world, not scare the world. This case may
be as much for the good of Europe as it is for the U.S. and its farmers
and technology providers. Most importantly, it will be of assistance to
the world's most desperate who are sick and hungry and poor because they
do not have access to technology or are discouraged from using it.
If wealthy citizens in Europe want to shop at trendy new expensive food
boutiques, that is their right but their government should not be
preventing their public from choosing their diet and it most certainly
should not be discouraging those in the developing world of trying to eat
and grow and live a better life.
Mr. President, I am proud of President Bush, Ambassador Zoellick,
Administrator Natsios, Under Secretary Larson, Ambassador Hall and many
others who are trying to preserve the viability of new technology for the
good of producers, consumers in this country and for the world's most
The EU made agreements with us to abide by rules that they are now
flagrantly ignoring. They made promises that they should keep and the U.S.
and its partners should press their rights before the WTO for the good of
everyone including the EU. It is not legal for the EU to prevent safe food
from entering their country on some trumped up baseless charge that it is
not safe. The science and the law are clear on this matter. The EU
Environment Commissioner said so herself. If the officials of the EU will
not listen to their Environment Commissioner or their scientists, then I
hope they will listen to the WTO.
I appreciate the leadership of Senators Talent and Lincoln, Lugar, Baucus,
Grassley and other cosponsors of this resolution and the strong support of
farm groups including the National Corn Growers Association, Missouri Farm
Bureau and the Missouri Soybean Association.
Mr. President, my favorite short summary of this issue was authored by our
U.S. Trade Ambassador, Robert Zoellick and was published in Wednesday's
"Wall Street Journal." I ask unanimous consent that this be made a part of
Again, I commend the President and his team and am grateful that they plan
to press this issue aggressively before the G8 meeting next week in
From: "Lance Kennedy"
Subject: Greenpeace finance
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 2003 12:01:40 +1200
I have been suspicious for some time of the motives of the leadership of
Greenpeace and other large multinational environmental mega-million dollar
organisations in opposing genetically enhanced crops and foods.
As I understand it, most such campaigns began in 1997 after Arpad
Putztoi's reports on GE potatoes and laboratory rats. My understanding is
also that, by the time this work was discredited by other scientists, the
major opposing organisations had discovered that this campaign was the
perfect forum for tapping public paranoia and fear, and hence tapping a
major new market for members and their money.
I would like to confirm this. I would also like to find out what
Greenpeace International's global income was year by year for the last ten
years, so I can tie it in with the start of their anti-GE campaign.
Can anyone help with suggested sources for this information?
From: "Paul Christensen"
Subject: U.S.-Europe Brawl on Genetically Modified Food Uses Africa as a
Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2003 16:38:07 -0500
Reply to Susan H. Bragdon.
U.S.-Europe Brawl on Genetically Modified Food Uses Africa as a Pawn,
Susan H. Bragdon, The Oregonian, July 24, 2003
Thanks for your interest in African Ag development.
Commercial development of agriculture is important. It was blocked by the
involvement of African nations with socialism following independence.
This socialist reaction has led to very poor governance with respect to
agricultural policy, as well as in other areas. Interventionist
government was easily subverted by dictators to serve their own interests.
African leaders are increasingly coming to understand the nature of this
problem and changing policy to encourage the development of small business
and use free market incentives to develop markets for agricultural
products. The role of democratic empowerment is increasingly recognized as
a stabilizing force.
Biotechnology is has been blocked by groups that feared the political
influence of major corporations. These groups have their origins and
centers of power in European politics. Regulatory controls have an issue
used by environmental groups favoring government intervention in the
economy to accumulate political power. Use of regulatory issues to
achieve political ends is damaging to economic growth potential in both
the developed and developing world. In the developed world it is not a
mater of life and death, but in Africa it can be and is when relief
shipments are blocked.
With appropriate changes in policy and peace, the development of
commercial agriculture can occur in Africa. The current extent of
subsistence agriculture in Africa is large because of poor policy and
instability. It is not an inevitability that has to be accepted.
Acceptance of the current extent of subsistence agriculture will lead to
perpetuation of poverty and dependence.
It is true that there is an important role for public sector agricultural
research in Africa. Seed is special because it reproduces itself. Public
development of varieties can contribute to the general welfare. Public
support for agricultural research takes advantage of theses needs and
justifiably serves the people who practice subsistence agriculture. The
role depends on continuing government support. This government support
may not be politically sustainable, publicly supported agricultural
research can have problems with continuity, and needs to be focused to
areas that are the most important.
Where there are well developed markets for agricultural products and
inputs, the private sector, large and small, can also make a contribution.
Agricultural policy does not always support this possibility. With well
conceived agricultural policy and governance that encourages business
initiative and innovation free markets can provide services to farmers
which are sustainable: most importantly new varieties and the information
about how to use them, and supplies of fertilizer that can maintain the
quality of African soils against the degradation that has occurred in
It is true that Major global corporations can not justify large levels of
spending for African Agricultural needs. The private sector can not
substitute completely for public sector support for rural development is
needed in Africa. Neither the public or private side should be neglected.
It is important to recognize that one of the main reasons that the
substance sector is so large and public sector involvement so necessary
has been the existence of poor public sector agricultural policy in the
past. The current need is to learn from the failures of interventionist
policy, adopt policies that lead to the growth of efficient commercial
grain, livestock, seed and fertilizer markets and phase public sector
involvement out of functions that can be provided by large or small firms
in the private sector.
Both public and private sector agricultural research have roles to play in
research to be used in Africa. Both deserve more support than they are
getting. Both the problems with acceptance of biotechnology and the
problems of African agriculture have origins in groups who propose strong
interventionist government. Socialist intervention, frequently
appropriated by dictators with selfish agendas, has lead to many
dysfunctional rural economies in Africa. Activist environmental
interventionist involvement with African agricultural policy will
contribute to environmental degradation in Africa through policies that
are all too similar to those of the Socialist and restrict the development
of sustainable rural economies. Subsistence agriculture can lead to
resource mining and overuse of natural habitat.
It is not a misuse of American power to stand up for American interests.
It is not a misuse of diplomacy to point out common interests between
Africa and the US. It is not even a misuse of American power to send up
for the interests of Europeans when they do not understand that they are
missing opportunity because they have been given bad information by
environmentalist groups who have let their political aspirations interfere
with effective consideration of environmental issues. The important
changes that need to be made in Africa need to be made by Africans. The
acceptance of biotechnology happens to be one issue where the US initiated
outside change can have a positive impact.
It would be incorrect to imply that biotechnology could prevent starvation
in African on its own. I do not think that the Bush administration has
said that. Africa first needs peace, political stability and good
governance. Changes in agricultural policy are part of the changes that
need to be made to improve governance. With change in political stability
and governance, the technology of the last green revolution and the
current new one can be put to work in ways that will benefit the poor and
The use of science based regulation of biotechnology is just one example
of favoring economic opportunity with good governance. Although it is not
the only example and economic growth is not the only goal, we should not
avoid the biotechnology issues just because they happen to be in our
interest as well as those of Africa and Africans.
Former Hillsboro Resident
Veteran of Six Years in Africa
Currently Seed Industry Consultant
2736 Greenwood Acres Dr.
DeKalb, IL 60115
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2003 13:23:11 -0500
Subject: Response to Lance Kennedy and Alex Avery
From: "Bruce Chassy"
Lance, I think we agree that the organics see their doom in biotech -- a
view that I articulated that in the final two paragraphs of my piece. The
main point I was trying to get across, and one which the editors of Nature
aparently agree with in their editorial from July 31, is that the zero
tolerance policy on "genetic contamination" is an arbitrary "phony
bastion" that they've created on purpose. We know they're doing it on
purpose and that it is phoney because it is contrary to 50 years of
organic being a process-based standard, not a content standard.
You couldn't be more right! I doubt that most readers remember what the
USDA explicitly said on this point in their final rule-making for the
National Organic Policy. It's worth quoting from the NOP:
"When we are considering drift issues, it is particularly important to
remember that organic standards are process based. Certifying agents
attest to the ability of organic operations to follow a set of production
standards and practices that meet the requirements of the Act and the
regulations. This regulation prohibits the use of excluded methods in
organic operations. The presence of a detectable residue of a product of
excluded methods alone does not necessarily constitute a violation of this
regulation. As long as an organic operation has not used excluded methods
and takes reasonable steps to avoid contact with the products of excluded
methods as detailed in their approved organic system plan, the
unintentional presence of the products of excluded methods should not
affect the status of an organic product or operation."
Simply put, there is no commercial reason for organic producers to even be
concerned about pollen drift or GM contamination. It is not necessary to
show that organic products are pesticide free, so why must they be
absolutely GM free? As you stated, organic is a process. It is hard to
escape the conclusion that a double standard is being applied here. Lance
and Alex have identified some possible reasons for that. It should be
noted, however, that most consumers of organic products would strongly
prefer not to eat either GM foods, or products that they view as
"contaminated" with them. There is sometimes a difference between what the
rule requires and what the consumer wants.
I would take issue with Lance Kennedy on one point. One shouldn't
oversimplify the objectives of consumers with regard to organic
agriculture. There are those who believe passionately that organic
agriculture is more environmentally friendly and more sustainable than
conventional agriculture. This forum, and agricultural researchers in
general, might contribute greatly to the setting of future agricultural
policy here and abroad by focusing their rigorous scrutiny on all of the
faith-based assertions about organic agriculture.
Harkening back to a comment Peggy Lemaux made in the recent AgBioView
special edition on Communication on the responsibility of scientists to be
more forthcoming on issues like the biotechnology controversy, the
putative benefits of organic agriculture may also be issues on which
science and scientists have been far too quiet for far too long.
From: "Duncan Edlin"
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2003 11:45:16 GMT0BST
Subject: Greens' drugs man jailed for growing dope
I realise that drug laws are a separate issue to the GM debate but isn't
it hypocritical to demand a ban on GM because it's perceived to be
'unsafe' whilst at the same time demanding that cannabis be legalised?
Anybody care to compare the health implications for the estimated 3
million+ dope smokers in the UK against say a diet of GM crops?
Greens' drugs man jailed for growing dope
LONDON (Reuters) - The Green Party's drugs spokesman has been jailed for
growing cannabis at home, the group says.
Police charged Shane Collins with possession and cultivation of the drug
after finding 19 cannabis plants in the basement of his south London home.
Collins, who stood unsuccessfully for the Greens in the 2001 general
election, began a six-week jail term on Monday.
"Putting someone in jail for doing something that has manifestly caused no
one any harm is ridiculous," Darren Johnson, Green Party leader in the
London Assembly, said in a statement.
"This just reinforces our view that the law is in urgent need of reform."
The Green Party advocates the legalisation of cannabis to follow the Dutch
system of regulation and decriminalisation of recreational drugs such as
amphetamines and ecstasy.
From: "Murphy D (SApS)"
S ubject: Why farmer scrapped GM trial
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2003 12:31:15 +0100
Below is a story from todays local paper here in Cardiff, capital of Wales
in the UK.
You will see at first hand the kind of pressure that farmers are being
subject to by retailers, especially the major supermarkets. Is it any
wonder that they are reluctant to grow GM crops?
It was the supermarkets that initially banned GM foods in the UK in 1999,
even though a labelled GM tomato paste from Zeneca had captured 60% market
share, i.e. consumers liked it (see AgBioView: June 24, 2003).
Now we hear that food retailers are even interfering with scientific
research into the environmental effects of GM crops (that's what the
farmer's field trials were for - it was not even a commercial crop). It
beggars belief to understand the logic of linking GM canola with a crop of
blackberries - I really wonder what planet these guys are on!
University of Glamorgan,
Why farmer scrapped GM trial
Aug 1 2003
THE FIRST farmer in Wales to grow a genetically modified crop was told by
a major high street brand the rest of his produce would be worthless
unless he scrapped the trial.
Former Monmouthshire High Sheriff James McConnel grew 37 acres of GM
oilseed rape at Whitehouse Farm, Newcastle, Monmouth, in 1997 and another
45 acres the following year.
He also received a licence for a further trial crop in 1999 but he
abandoned the plans when he learned that growing public disquiet with GM
crops would make it impossible for him to sell his crop of blackcurrants
to a major high street brand.
"I grow 100 acres of blackcurrants and the processor was quite happy about
the GM crop for a while, but then the GM debate got a little bit silly,"
said Mr McConnel. "Because there was a feeling within the public that this
new technology was a dangerous thing I was told that if I continued they
could not accept my crop.
"I had no alternative but to stop and the processor was probably right
because they were responding to public perceptions."
Mr McConnel said there were no secrets about the trials at Whitehouse
Farm, which were listed on the government website.
"I made no secret of it and told our customers from the start that I was
growing it, but they eventually responded to public perception and said
they could not have this taking place on the same farm," he said.
The GM variety Laurate Canola is an industrial oilseed rape containing a
gene that produces a higher percentage of commercially viable oil.
"I was attracted by the profit," Mr McConnel said. "They gave us a premium
because the oil produced was more valuable than a conventional crop.
"How that can affect the environment is beyond me."
He said that "volunteer" plants - those that grow the following season
from seed left in the ground - were carefully monitored and removed.
"GM crops don't on the whole cross pollinate with near relatives - in this
case the cabbage family - and we had very few volunteers after the crop,
which completely disappeared within six months," he said.
"We grow a lot of weeds here, including wild mustard which is a near
relative of oilseed rape, but I have never seen a hybrid and I understand
that it's very rare."
Mr McConnel said he would not describe himself as either for or against GM
"Each bit of GM technology has to be treated as an individual case," he
"If you can produce drugs to cure certain types of cancer by genetically
modifying a crop I'm sure that the majority of the public would actually
welcome this sort of thing.
"On the other hand, if you go and blanket plant crops that are pesticide
and insect resistant, that can't be right for the environment because you
are sterilising an enormous area of land of insect life and that leads to
Mr McConnel said he believed it would be irresponsible to grow GM crops
that are resistant to insects or to the herbicide glyphosphate, known
commercially as Roundup.
Overuse of glyphosphate has already encouraged common weeds to develop
resistance to the chemical in many parts of the world.
"We are a very highly populated country and so many people's interests are
involved that it would be irresponsible to grow these crops here," he
said. "But to bracket all GM together and say it's wrong is crazy."
Mr McConnel said the technology was very complicated and some aspects of
it were better left alone.
"But there is an enormous amount of good that GM could do to this country
and to other parts of the world.
"They have developed a drought-resistant wheat, for example, and if this
could be put into arid areas it could revolutionise world hunger and to
stop that kind of thing would be quite wrong.
"And knowing what I do now I would be quite happy to grow GM oilseed rape
to produce a more economically viable oil but because of the way the
public debate has developed I don't know whether it would be possible to
The farmers' campaign group farm says it is puzzled to know who actually
does support-the introduction of GM crops into Britain.
Group board member Peter Lundgren said the public won't buy them,
supermarkets won't knowingly stock them, there appear to be few economic
benefits and possible risks to the environment and human health remain
"As farmers who would have to contend with all these negatives we're
baffled as to why the Government is still considering commercialising
these crops," said Mr Lundgren.
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
University of California, Davis; The Pennsylvania State University; North
Carolina State University; Texas A&M University
If a new corn rootworm resistant transgenic corn technology had been
adopted on all of the United States acres treated for corn rootworm in the
year 2000, the total benefits in that year alone would have been $460
million: $171 million to the technology developer and seed companies, $231
million to farmers from yield gains, and a further $58 million to farmers
as nonpecuniary benefits associated with reduced use of insecticides. Our
nationwide survey of corn producers suggests that initial adoption might
be as low as 30%, implying first-year benefits of about $138 million.
Full report at http://www.agbioforum.org/v5n3/v5n3a01-alston.htm
GM cotton crops halve pesticide use
Sydney Morning Herald
August 1, 2003
SYDNEY - The introduction of genetically modified cotton crops to
Australia has cut the use of chemical pesticide by about half, the
country's leading science organisation said yesterday.
Pesticide use had fallen by about 50 per cent where US-based Monsanto Co's
Ingard GM was planted, compared with conventional cotton, the Commonwealth
Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation said.
Ingard GM was introduced in 1996 to Australia, one of the world's largest
cotton exporters and a key supplier to Asian markets.
Bollgard II, a new version of Monsanto GM cotton that will be commercially
available in Australia this year, promises even less insecticide use, said
the organisation's Plant Industry cotton breeder Greg Constable.
"Three years of field trials show Bollgard II [reduces] pesticide use by
up to 75 per cent compared to conventional cotton. Furthermore, cotton
fibre yield and quality in Bollgard II varieties is equivalent to that in
conventional cotton varieties," he said.
Bollgard II was developed by inserting two insecticidal genes from the
soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into cotton, killing cotton's major
insect pest Helicoverpa when it eats the crop.
Helicoverpa is the Australian equivalent of the worldwide scourge of
cotton crops, the boll weevil.
General release of Bollgard II was approved by the Government last year
and in 2003-04 it would comprise about 15 per cent of the total crop,
By 2004-05, Bollgard II could supply 80 per cent of the cotton crop as
Ingard is phased out of production to minimise the risk of developing
resistance to the bacterium.
Use of Ingard was restricted to 30 per cent of Australia's cotton-growing
area, or about 120,000ha in 2001-02, mainly for insect resistance
Use of Bolgard II is not capped and officials say it could lead to at
least a doubling of Australia's GM crops.
Diversity in food technology
Nature 424, 473
31 July 2003
A scientific review, farm-scale trials and extensive public consultations
on genetically modified crops should pave the way for greater benefits and
choice for consumers — provided that the organic movement abandons
Last week in England, the Lake District National Park Authority, like
other British regions before it, declared itself a GM-free zone. This came
close on the heels of a meeting between Margaret Beckett, the British
secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, and heads
of major retail chains. She was left in little doubt of the retailers'
resistance to stocking genetically modified (GM) foods on their shelves,
given customers' antipathy.
Ironically, these events coincided with the publication of a rather more
positive scientific assessment of GM crops (see Nature 424, 358; 2003).
The review emphasized that, provided appropriate testing and regulation
are in place for consideration on a case-by-case basis, GM crops hold out
significant promise and leave little grounds for fear.
The next steps in the great British GM saga, which is being watched
closely by many other countries, will be the publication of results of the
farm-scale evaluation of oilseed rape, beet and maize, and the publication
of the results of a major public consultation, both due in September. A
final scientific review will then be produced for ministers. As the
recently published review emphasizes, information from farm-scale
evaluations is important in answering key questions about the effects of
agricultural processes on wildlife.
The public debate warrants close scrutiny. The processes of consultations
(some 40,000 responses) and public meetings (nearly 500, in all) are
complete. But only now has the scientific review addressed an agenda of
concerns set by initial public consultations. The succinct information
provided on the website of the public debate and at meetings does not do
justice to the messages now available from the science review. Although
much public concern is focused on issues of ownership and equity, the late
timing of the science review limits the value of the public consultation
on science-related issues.
More worryingly, open meetings in the public debate have been subjected to
campaigning tactics by anti-GM lobbyists, leading to complaints from other
members of the public that discussions have been compromised. So
particular attention should be given to the independent evaluation of the
The review left little doubt that the coexistence of GM and organic
farming (assuming that approval for GM use is granted) will prove
difficult to maintain. But the problem is an artificial one, based in
essence on an ultimately arbitrary and self-defeating definition of
'contamination' by the organic movement.
Consider, for example, late blight in potatoes, a major problem for both
conventional and organic farmers. Organic farmers contain the problem by
applying copper sulphate-based preparations, which can harm the soil.
Attempts to breed potatoes that are more resistant to the pathogen,
Phytophthora infestans, have consistently failed to yield a marketable
product. The best solution probably lies several years down the road in
the next generation of GM crops.
British organic farmers — or at least the Soil Association, their
campaigning organization — will resist seemingly to their dying breath the
idea that inserting genes using molecular biology could be as ethical as
the often less reliable but nevertheless technological approaches of
conventional organic plant breeding and management. One can but hope that
the messages from science will continue to be reassuring about the impacts
of GM crops, and that they will combine with organic farmers'
self-interest to demolish such phoney bastions, and allow both approaches
to agriculture to prosper, in the ultimate interests of consumer benefits
There will be some thicker, genetically modified sugar cane stalks in some
South Louisiana fields this year.
Researchers hope it will be more resistant to the heavy wind and rain that
flattened large swaths of the state's sugar cane crop last year. The U.S.
Department of Agriculture, the LSU Agricultural Center and the
Louisiana-based American Sugar Cane League are working together to get the
new sugar cane out for farmers to sample this season.
Cane stalks knocked over in the fields are tougher to harvest than cane
standing straight. That means more wear and tear on fields and farm
equipment, which ultimately means higher costs. Experts say this new
variety could offer can stalks that stand up better to wind and rain.
Rachel Carson's Ecological Genocide
By Lisa Makson
July 31, 2003
A pandemic is slaughtering millions, mostly children and pregnant women --
one child every 15 seconds; 3 million people annually; and over 100
million people since 1972 --but there are no protestors clogging the
streets or media stories about this tragedy. These deaths can be laid at
the doorstep of author Rachel's Carson. Her1962 bestselling book Silent
Spring detailed the alleged "dangers" of the pesticide DDT, which had
practically eliminated malaria. Within ten years, the environmentalist
movement had convinced the powers that be to outlaw DDT. Denied the use of
this cheap, safe and effective pesticide, millions of people -- mostly
poor Africans -- have died due to the environmentalist dogma propounded by
Carson's book. Her coterie of admirers at the U.N. and environmental
groups such as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the World Wildlife Fund and
the Environmental Defense Fund have managed to bring malaria and typhus
back to sub-Saharan Africa with a vengeance.
"This is like loading up seven Boeing 747 airliners each day, then
deliberately crashing them into Mt. Kilimanjaro," said Dr. Wenceslaus
Kilama, Malaria Foundation International Chairman.
"[M]ost politicians today are more concerned about getting re-elected
rather than doing what is right. [M]any of them have very poor scientific
backgrounds and do not understand the impact of the policy decisions they
are making . [and] are not able to teach their constituents that there
be severe consequences to their decisions," said former Surgeon General
and retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Dr. Harold M. Koenig.
"These poor public policies [i.e. prohibiting use of DDT] are being
implemented because it is easier for politicians to go along with the
noise coming from the hysterics rather than to learn the whole story and
educate the general electorate that there are ways agents like DDT can be
safely," said Koenig, who is currently president of the Annapolis Center,
a nonprofit educational organization that "promotes responsible
environmental, health, and safety decision-making by applying a science
foundation" to the public policy process.
Although DDT "provides the most effective, cheapest, and safest means of
abating and eradicating" infectious diseases, all changed with the 1962
publication of Carson's tome Silent Spring. And just as the world's
leading scientists predicted 30 years ago, Carson's crusade against DDT
caused the world's deadliest infectious diseases such as typhus and
malaria, which "may have killed half of all the people that ever lived"
according to the World Health Organization, to make a deadly comeback that
will soon threaten the United States and Europe again.
"The resurgence of a disease that was almost eradicated 30 years ago is a
case study in the danger of putting concern for nature above concern for
people," said Nizam Ahmad, an analyst from Bangladesh that focuses on
problems affecting developing countries.
"It's worse than it was 50 years ago," said University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill malaria expert Dr. Robert Desowitz said.
According to the WHO, "more people are now infected [with malaria] than at
any point in history," with "up to half a billion cases [being reported]
every year." The National Institute of Health reports that "infectious
diseases remain the leading cause of death" in the world and is "the third
leading cause of death in the United States." WHO estimates put the number
of people in Africa dying from malaria annually is equal to the number of
AIDS' deaths over the last 15 years combined!
"Carson and those who joined her in the crusade against DDT have
contributed to millions of preventable deaths. Used responsibly, DDT can
be quite safe for man and the environment," Koenig said, summing up what
many infectious disease experts believe.
The discovery of DDT by scientist Paul Herman Muller, who was awarded the
Nobel Prize in 1948, was originally hailed as a major public health
success because DDT kills mosquitoes, lice and fleas, which are carriers
for more than 20 serious infectious diseases like the bubonic plague,
typhus, yellow fever, encephalitis and malaria.
"To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT. It is
estimated that, in little more than two decades DDT has prevented 500
million human deaths, due to malaria, that would otherwise have been
inevitable," a statement from the National Academy of Sciences said.
Before DDT, infectious diseases spread like wildfire, leaving millions
dead in their wake. During World War I, typhus epidemics killed 3 million
Russians and millions elsewhere in European. But during World War II,
before it was blacklisted by Carson and her crew, DDT saved millions of
Allied troops from becoming ill and/or dying from infectious diseases such
as malaria, typhus and the plague. Plus, DDT also saved the lives of
recently liberated Nazi concentration camp survivors by killing off
Other reasons for DDT being hailed as a modern day miracle are legion. For
starters, it is extremely cheap to produce, costing $1.44 to spray one
house for a whole year. Alternative pesticides being pushed by the U.N.
and environmentalists are 10 to 20 times more expensive.
"DDT is the best insecticide we have today for controlling malaria," said
malaria expert Dr. Donald Roberts of the Uniformed Services University of
the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. "DDT is long-acting, the alternatives
are not. DDT is cheap, the alternatives are not. End of story."
Another reason DDT is such a blessing is that it enables developing
countries to make significant economic progress, thanks to plunging
infectious disease rates. According to the U.S. Center for Disease
Control, "The unparalleled benefits stemming from [public health] programs
[in developing countries] are due almost entirely to the use of DDT. DDT
provides the only safe, economically feasible eradication measure
available today [that helps to promote economic development."
The nation of India provides an illustrative example. Before the World
Health Organization began its worldwide malaria eradication program in the
1940s, India had more than 100 million cases of malaria and 2.5 million
deaths annually; produced less than 25 million tons of wheat per year; was
host to widespread starvation; and spent 60 percent of its GDP on malaria
control. But by the '60s, India's malaria cases dropped to fewer than
100,000 reported cases, with less than 1,000 deaths. Thanks to this
stability, India produced more than 100 million tons of wheat annually.
But most importantly, DDT is also not hazardous to humans or the
environment -- despite all the propaganda to the contrary. According to
tests conducted by Dr. Philip Butler, director of the Fish and Wildlife
Service's Sabine Island Research Laboratory, "92 percent of DDT and its
metabolites disappear" from the environment after 38 days. (See
Environmental Protection Agency's DDT hearings transcript, page 3,726.)
Plus, humans have nothing to worry about small exposures to DDT.
"DDT is so safe that no symptoms have been observed among the 130,000
spraymen or the 535 million inhabitants of sprayed houses [over the past
29 years of its existence]. No toxicity was observed in the wildlife of
the countries participating in the malaria campaign," said the WHO
director in 1969. "Therefore WHO has no grounds to abandon this chemical
which has saved millions of lives, the discontinuation of which would
result in thousands of human deaths and millions of illnesses. It has
served at least 2 billion people in the world without costing a single
human life by poisoning from DDT. The discontinuation of the use of DDT
would be a disaster to world health."
The only reason millions of lives are being lost to infectious disease is
because of Carson's crusade against DDT in her 1962 doomsday book "Silent
Spring." Carson predicted that pesticides -- namely DDT -- would cause
"practically 100 percent" of the human population would be wiped out from
a cancer epidemic after one more generation. This would come about because
a race of super-insects, impervious to pesticides, would come about
threatening U.S. farms. Desperate farmers then would triple the amount of
pesticides they were using so they could stop the super-bugs from
destroying their crops. As a result, DDT would eventually work its way up
the food chain, killing off first the bugs, then the worms, then the birds
(hence her title), the fish and finally mankind.
Although this sounds pretty scary, all of this was mere speculation on
Carson's part, based upon erroneous analysis of data (junk science). For
example, Carson argued that the rise in cancer rates from 1940-1960 was
proof that DDT was the cause because spraying began in 1940 and continued.
However, if Carson would have looked at Center for Disease Control data
from the 1900-1960, she would have noticed that her theory was way off the
mark because cancer rates started to skyrocket in direct correlation to a
surge of tobacco use.
"Sure more people are dying now of cancer than did in the past, because
they are no longer dying of other causes at earlier ages, especially
infectious diseases. The longer people live, the greater chances they have
of dying of cancer," Koenig said. "We know of some things that have
greater association with cancers. These include the use of tobacco in any
form, excessive sun
exposure, obesity, stress and lack of exercise. There are a few chemicals
that are suspected to be carcinogenic. As far as I know there is no known
association between DDT or any other insecticide and cancer. To categorize
Carson's work as research is a big stretch. It was really just hysterical
Despite the constant banshee call of environmentalists that DDT causes
cancer -- their main reason for justifying a worldwide DDT ban -- there is
no scientific data to back that up.
"The scientific literature does not contain even one peer-reviewed,
independently replicated study linking DDT exposures to any adverse health
outcome [in humans]," said Dr. Amir Attaran, who is with Harvard
University's Center for International Development and is a former WHO
expert on malaria who used to support the environmentalists' call for
using alternatives to DDT. Attaran changed sides on the DDT debate after
he witnessed what happened when South Africa. After intense U.N. and
environmentalist pressure, South Africa stopped using DDT and switched to
the U.N. Environmental Program's alternative pesticides as a way to
control malaria. But the mosquitoes quickly developed resistance to the
new pesticides and malaria rates increased 1,000 percent. And despite UN
threats to cut off funding for South Africa's public health programs, the
nation started DDT again because its politicians could not stand idly by
and allow millions of its citizens to become sickened and/or die from
malaria. "They really tried to phase this stuff out, and had the budget to
afford the alternatives," Attaran said. "[But if] South Africa can't get
by without DDT, it's pretty much as if to say that nobody can."
In addition to Carson's unfounded cancer claims, Silent Spring is also
chock full of other "untruthful and misleading" statements that have
absolutely no grounding in scientific reality whatsoever, said San Jose
State University entomologist Dr. J. Gordon Edwards. Edwards is an
environmentalist "with a desire to keep truth in science and
environmentalism." He has even has a book published by the Sierra Club.
Edwards at first supported Carson but quickly changed his mind once he
began checking her sources. What he discovered was not only did Carson
rely upon "very unscientific sources," but she cited many of the same
sources over and over again in order to make her book appear
incontrovertible. Even more startling is that Edwards "found" many of
Carson's statements based upon sound, scientific sources were actually --
his word -- "false."
"They did not support her contentions about the harm caused by
pesticides," Edwards said. "She was really playing loose with the facts,
deliberately wording many sentences in such a way as to make them imply
certain things without actually saying them, carefully omitting everything
that failed to support her thesis that pesticides were bad, that industry
was bad, and that any scientists who did not support her views were bad.
It slowly dawned on me that Rachel Carson was not interested in the truth
about those topics, and that I really was being duped, along with millions
of other Americans."
For example, Carson wrote that the Audubon Society's annual bird census
from 1940-1961 showed widespread declines in the bird population so since
this was the same time period that DDT spraying began, DDT was to blame.
However, Edwards noted that the Audubon census figures actually show the
inverse -- bird populations were increasing! In fact, some birds were
benefiting so much from DDT, such as the blackbird and redwings, that they
had become "pests."
"The phenomena of increasing bird populations during the DDT years may be
due, in part, to (1) fewer blood-sucking insects and reduced spread of
avian diseases (avian malaria, rickettsial-pox, avian bronchitis,
Newcastle disease, encephalitis, etc); (2) more seed and fruits available
for birds to eat after plant-eating insects were decimated [by DDT]; and
(3) Ingestion of DDT triggers hepatic enzymes that detoxify carcinogens
such as aflatoxin," stated a May 1967 Virginia Department of Agriculture
Yet, despite Carson's research inconsistencies and dearth of solid
scientific evidence, DDT was eventually banned in the U.S. This is due to
the work of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William
Ruckelshaus, an attorney with ties to the Environmental Defense Fund.
Ruckelshaus ordered a hearing on a possible ban of DDT after EDF, which
was started and financed by Audubon, and Audubon launched a lawsuit
against the U. S. Department of Agriculture and the newly created EPA
because of DDT.
After seven months of hearings, which produced 9,362 pages of testimony by
125 witnesses, EPA Judge Edmund Sweeney ruled against EDF, Audubon and the
Carson coterie, saying that according to the evidence, "DDT is not a
carcinogenic hazard to man...is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to
man...[and the] use of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have
a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds
or other wildlife." But Ruckelshaus quickly overruled Sweeney and banned
DDT on Jan. 1, 1972. His decision had nothing to do with science or
concern for the American people -- Ruckelshaus never attended a day of the
hearings and admitted that he never read the transcripts. Instead, it was
due to Ruckelshaus' ties to EDF and environmentalists.
"The ultimate judgment [on DDT] remains political," Ruckelshaus wrote to
American Farm Bureau Federation President Allan Grant on April 26, 1979.
"Decisions by the government involving the use of toxic substances are
political with a small 'p.' In the case of pesticides in our country, the
power to make this judgment has been delegated to the administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency."
Although the ban was appealed, Ruckelshaus' ban on DDT remained intact
because Ruckelshaus stacked the deck in the environmentalists' favor -- he
appointed himself as the appeal judge. After the appeal was foiled,
Ruckelshaus began soliciting donations on behalf of EDF on his personal
stationery, writing: "EDF's scientists blew the whistle on DDT by showing
it to be a cancer hazard, and three years later, when the dust had
cleared, EDF had won." Scientists decried the decision.
"The news that the Environmental Protection Agency of the U.S.A. has now
imposed almost a total ban on the use of DDT may be welcomed by partisans
of the antipollution movement, but will cause concern to well-informed
public health workers, since it increases the difficulty of controlling
several tropical arthropod-borne diseases," said Dr. L. J. Bruce-Chwatt in
the British medical journal, The Lancet. "The rich countries, preoccupied
with their own environmental problems and degenerative illnesses related
to affluence should be reminded of the fact that the old plagues have not
been banished from the world and that any apparently beneficial move may
have an unexpected rebound effect and jeopardize the health gains achieved
elsewhere over the years."
Thirty years later, Ruckelshaus' legacy is alive and well. The Green
lobby, lead by the WWF and Greenpeace, refuse to stop Carson's crusade
against DDT until DDT is banned worldwide. They almost succeeded in 1999
when Germany, which held the European Union presidency, threw its weight
behind the issue and began lobbying the UN Environmental Program. Although
the resulting Persistent Organic Pollutants treaty never passed, in the
meantime, environmentalists and UN politicians from the West are
determined to do what they can to stop DDT use.
For example, Mexico, which was one of the few remaining producers of DDT
in the world, was forced by the Clinton Administration to stop producing
DDT if it wanted the North American Free Trade Agreement to pass. The U.S.
State Department's Agency for International Development, under intense
pressure from environmentalists, even changed its funding priorities in
developing nations, noting that DDT funding would no longer be supported
(but birth control would).
The reason for this shift away from DDT towards an emphasis on population
control reveals the Malthusian philosophy behind the anti-DDT movement.
"[Any known alternative to DDT] only kills farm workers, and most of them
are Mexicans and Negroes. So what? People are the cause of all the
problems. We have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them and
this is as good a way as any," said Dr. Charles Wurster, chairman of the
Environmental Defense Fund's Scientific Advisory Council and a key
promoter of the DDT ban.
Another anti-DDT Malthusian is Sierra Club director Michael McCloskey, who
said that the "Sierra Club wants a ban on pesticides, even in countries
where DDT has kept malaria under control...[because by] using DDT, we
reduce mortality rates in underdeveloped countries without the
consideration of how to support the increase in populations."
This rationale of the anti-DDT crusaders is much like Carson's Silent
Spring -- it is based on nothing more than a pack of unscientific