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May 3, 2000


Combined Contributions May 4, 2000


AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org, http://agbioview.listbot.com

(Eight postings below)

Two plant molecular biologists have just been elected to the National
Academy of Sciences. Details at www.nas.edu

Dr. Steven Briggs, President of Novartis Agricultural Discovery
Dr. Jeff Palmer, Professor at Indian University

Dr. Rita Colwell, Director of the US National Science Foundation has
also been elected to NAS

Congratulations on this great honor!

- Prakash
From: Greg Conko
Subject: RE: More on Labeling

Dear Estanislau,

The labeling issue is not a debate about science, it is a debate about
public policy. Though I think most of us believe that science should play a
role in developing public policy, science alone can not be dispositive in
cases such as these.

You also appear to misunderstand my view of voluntary labeling. I think
agricultural biotechnology is something to be proud about, and I am
disappointed that the biotech industry did not take greater advantage of it
ability to develop high-value-added products that conferred greater benefits
for consumers -- such as the delayed ripening tomato, which, by the way, was
affirmatively labeled when first introduced. That strategy would have given
them good reason to voluntarily label agbiotech products affirmatively. I
understand, however, the financial reasons for the industry not doing so. I
am also convinced that, if producers are compelled to introduce labeling at
this point in time, it could be quite damaging to both the technology and to
overall consumer welfare.

Next, while you may find the US legal system to be confusing or silly, it is
a demonstrable fact (not propaganda) that, within certain boundaries, US
courts support the view that enterprises have rights, and that those rights
include the freedom to speak and the freedom to not speak. Exceptions to
the latter include situations where legislators and regulators can
demonstrate a compelling health and safety reason to require enterprises to
include information on labels, or where information is necessary to prevent
fraudulent activities.

Such health and safety reasons include information about ingredients.
Information regarding measures of volume or weight are justified as
necessary to prevent fraud. See, for example, United States v. Sullivan,
332 U.S. 689, 693, 92 L. Ed. 297, 68 S. Ct. 331 (1948), upholding federal
law requiring warning labels on "harmful foods, drugs and cosmetics";
Zauderer, 471 U.S. at 651, finding that disclosure requirements are
permissible "as long as [they] are reasonably related to the State's
interest in preventing deception of consumers."; R.M.J., 455 U.S. 191, 201,
102 S. Ct. 929, 71 L. Ed. 2d 64 (1982), finding that "warnings or
disclaimers might be appropriately required . . . in order to dissipate the
possibility of consumer confusion or deception."

However, absent a demonstration that rDNA-engineered foods pose a unique
health risk, US courts have found that mandatory labeling statutes for
rDNA-engineered foods are unconstitutional. I refer you to two specific
cases involving rDNA-engineered food: IDFA et al. v. Jeffrey Amestoy, 1996,
US Second Circuit Court of Appeals, 92 F.3d 67; and John Stauber et al. v.
Donna Shalala, 1995, US District Court for the Western District of
Wisconsin, 895 F.Supp. 1178.

I offer the following passage from the IDFA case for clarification:

"Were consumer interest alone sufficient, there is no end to the information
that states could require manufacturers to disclose about their production
methods. ... Absent, however, some indication that this information bears on
a reasonable concern for human health or safety or some other sufficiently
substantial governmental concern, the manufacturers cannot be compelled to
disclose it. Instead, those consumers interested in such information should
exercise the power of their purses by buying products from manufacturers who
voluntarily reveal it."

Again, you may find this to be propaganda, but in the United States, we must
view this as the law.

Finally, I do not believe, as you seem to claim, that the
"free-market-can-solve-all-the-problems." I am not so naive as that.
However, I am also not naive enough to believe that government activity can
solve all the problems. What I believe, is that there should be a
compelling reason for the government to involve itself in private
transactions between individuals and enterprises. In this case, I am not
convinced that such a compelling reason exists.

-Greg Conko

-----Original Message-----
From: Estanislau Fons i Solé [mailto:estanis@tecal.udl.es]
ial double-issue on "Seed/Food Policy & Law",
and cover emerging aspects of intellectual property rights, seed
import/export/international agro-economics, legal bio-technology,
legal aspects of genetic engineering, etc.

I invite the interested colleagues to contribute to this volume. I am
also looking for an expert "Guest Editor" for this special issue.
Expression of interest or recommendations are solicited.

Thank you,
Amarjit Basra, PhD
Editor, Journal of New Seeds
From: Gordon Couger
Subject: Re: contaminated potato chips

Using the precautionary principle as proof. It is possible to be
alergic to one variety of corn and not another. I want the
variety and absolute chemical make up on lables so I can
deterring which variety of corn cases my problems. I want the
breed of cattle on all my meat and the inspectors name on
all my chicken so I know who to sue if I get food posining.

I most defiantly want organic produce labeled that it may contain
bacteria and aflotoxin. Also I want all EU beef products labeled,
"May contain BSE". That should give them a dose of their own medicine
and be very
profitible for folks that print labels.

For the humor impaired this is satirical.

A sane labeling method is to do it like we do organic produce. The
people that grow and consume these "value added products" agree
on what they want and produce a GMO free labile. Then they
can pay the price for labeling not the producer that want to
raise food for the vast majority of the people that want safe, nutritious,
inexpensive food. Let the Eco freaks buy what they want and label
it any way they want. Don't impose what ever passes for reality
for them on the rest of the world.


Gordon Couger gcouger@couger.com

Stillwater, OK www.couger.com/gcouger
405 624-2855 GMT -6:00
From: Malcolm Livingstone
Re: contaminated potato chips

This proposed scenario (GM chips + non-GM chips) highlights one important
issue with regards to agricultural biotechnology. Many biotech plant
From: "Alan H.Hall M.D."
Subject: Re: [Re: [Comments from Ann Oaks]]

One of the things I completely advocate and practice whenever possible when
engaging in a rational debate is that all parties should clearly state who and
what they are and what their training/potential biases/background/ideology or
whatever that is relevant to the discussion truly is/are. We don't, of
course, have to post our resumes/CVs, but without some open frank discussion,
as the cartoon of two dogs, one of whom is at the keyboard, says: "On the
internet, nodody knows you're a dog."

Yours truly,

Alan H. Hall, M.D., FACEP
Medical Toxicologist
From: gunther ruckl
Subject: Re: Bias
To: "C. S. Prakash"

Dear Dr. Prakash:

Thank you for your response.

I commend you for admitting to bias on issues of your field. ALL scientists
have a bias in their fields but few are aware of it; that is why healthy
critique often comes from different corners of society.

You write, ".... I am certainly biased in believing that technological
progress is important...". This opinion of yours does NOT reflect a bias
and I dearly hope ALL members of society, scientists or not, support
technological progress. It IS important.

As to biotechnology, not every viable GM product will turn out to be a
blessing to us or the environment. I personally am very skeptical to change
passages in a book whose messages we have only just begun to partially
understand. We might know how many chapters the book has and into which
sections it is organized. I strongly believe Nature is a better bioengineer
than human can ever dream of becoming. That's why my prime thrust for the
future is in the area of population growth control, not expansion of food

G. Rückl

----- Original Message -----
From: "C. S. Prakash"
To: "gunther ruckl"

> Dear Sir:
> I thank you for taking time to write to me express your views and for
> sending me the New York Times article. I am certainly biased in believing
> that technological progress is important and biotechnology represents a
> great hope in improving food supply and quality. There will be issues
> need to be addressed and that is why we need individuals like you who
> question this and helps ensure equitable path in this journey.
From: sterling stoudenmire
Subject: Re: 3 Messages + New York bill would ban biotech crop production for

Once again, i say, no one trust government, no one..

At 09:48 AM 01/01/1970 -0600, you wrote:

>New York bill would ban biotech crop production for five years


(Note from the Moderator: Please send response to Ann Oaks directly
to her as she has now unsubscribed from the list)