Today in AgBioView: September 30, 2003:
* French Nobel Laureate Signs on to AgBioWorld Declaration
* GM Opposition is Not Based on Understanding
* Legal Liability Opinion
* SAVE THE SEED - Addendum
* Lomborg in Australia
* Jimmy Carter Speaks Out Against Anti-Biotech "Propaganda."
* EU moves closer to lifting ban on GMOs
* Fischler urges EU states to lift modified-crops ban
* GAO Report: Biotech Foods 'As Safe as Conventional Foods'
* Taste the Future
* Ethanol from Genetically Modified Corn
* Alan Wood: 'Discredited' by propagandists
French Nobel Laureate Signs on to AgBioWorld Declaration; List Climbs to
Professor Jean-Marie Lehn (Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, and
College de France, Paris, France) who won the 1987 Nobel Prize in
Chemistry joins 23 other Nobel Laureates in endorsing the declaration in
support of agricultural biotechnology from http://www.agbioworld.org/.
Prof. Lehn was cited for the 'development and use of molecules with
structure-specific interactions of high selectivity'.
AgBioWorld is proud to receive this support from Prof. Lehn and thankful
to the esteemed scientist for his support. Prof. Lehn has recently
endorsed a French petition calling for end to destruction of biotech crop
trials. See below.
Autobiography of Prof. Lehn is at
http://www.nobel.se/chemistry/laureates/1987/lehn-autobio.html and his
Nobel lecture is at
Full list of twenty-four AgBioWorld-Nobel laureates is at
French Scientists Call for End to GMO Destruction
- Reuters, Sept. 16, 2003
PARIS, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Around 1,500 French scientists, including two
Nobel prize-winners, have signed a petition demanding an end to the wilful
destruction of genetically modified (GMO) crop trials, organisers said on
Tuesday. They said almost half the experimental fields of GMO strains in
France were destroyed this summer, ruining years of research.
One of the petition's organisers, Alain Toppan, said signatories came from
the public and private sector and included Nobel prize-winners
Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (physics) and Jean-Marie Lehn (chemistry).
"We have to stop this waste," said Toppan, director of research at French
biotech firm Biogemma, a company that in July threatened to quit France
because of attacks on its fields. "We have to return to scientific
criteria. These acts of destruction are not part of the debate, that's why
scientists are mobilised," he told Reuters.
GM Opposition is Not Based on Understanding - Anthony Trewavas, Financial
Times; Sep 29, 2003
Your editorial "The popular verdict on GM crops" (September 25) omitted to
mention that GM Nation? involved only 40,000 people out of an estimated
30m-40m UK citizens. In my experience and that of others, those attending
were 90-95 per cent activists, as fundamentalist and unchanging in their
views as the equivalent Christian versions are about Genesis.
The result was as predictable from the start as night follows day. Malcolm
Grant, chairman of the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology
Commission and organiser of GM Nation?, did say that focus groups were
more open but when told to go away and read what newspapers had to say,
merely hardened their opposition. Since the majority of newspapers have
routinely (and in some cases deliberately) reported only negative views of
genetically modified crops this was hardly surprising.
If this survey is used to construct government policy then we surely enter
an era in which policies based on knowledge and understanding are replaced
by clamour, assertion and slogan. Despite what your editorial tries to
imply, the public does not understand food. That is why we are approaching
30 per cent obesity.
If it understood farming methods it would have seen through the
foolishness of paying double for an equivalent organic product. And it
would have viewed GM as a useful device for introducing the
well-established environmental benefits of no-till agriculture that are
far better than those offered by organic farming.
- Prof. Anthony Trewavas, Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology,
University of Edinburgh EH9 3JH
Legal Liability Opinion
- Prof.Drew Kershen
Last week, this list carried several newspaper articles about a decision
rendered on September 19, 2003 by the United States Federal District Court
for the Eastern District of Missouri in a case styled Sample v. Monsanto
Co. The case involves tort claims for legal liability related to
transgenic crops and antitrust claims related to transgenic crops.
In the decision, United States District Judge Rodney Sippel dismissed the
tort claims founded on negligence and public nuisance. Mr. Sample, as a
class action representative, plead that by introducing transgenic crops
into the American agricultural market that Monsanto had adversely affected
the market price for the harvests of non-transgenic crops, especially in
light of international markets. Judge Sippell dismissed these tort claims
with prejudice stating that this allegation did not state a valid cause of
action under United States law.
In the same decision, District Judge allowed antitrust claims against
Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, and Pioneer Hi-Bred to proceed to trial. The
antitrust claims allege that these companies conspired to fix the prices
for transgenic seeds by agreeing to the amount to charge as technology
fees. Judge Sippel ruled that this claim (as plead) stated a cause of
action that could proceed further towards trial.
SAVE THE SEED - Addendum
- Tom DeGregori
One obvious point that neither I or anyone else has mentioned is that
those who for whatever reasons have never gone into the market to buy seed
or are unable to do so, will not be buying GM seeds and signing contracts
not to replant seeds or will not be planting seeds with a "terminator
gene" even if such a seed were possible to create and actually produced
In other words the SAVE the SEED campaign seeks to "protect" those who
already find it advantageous to enter the commercial market for seeds ie.
who do not always save seeds - while pretending to protect those who would
not likely be buyers of it. It would be like organizing a huge
international campaign to protect vegetarians from the perils of eating
meat. There would seem to be more than a whiff of dishonesty here.
Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2003 22:35:25 +0300
Subject: Re: AGBIOVIEW: Save the Seed;
From: "Jonathan Gressel"
on seed saving;
Just remember the movie "The Bad Seed" - don't save bad seed, including
psychopaths - Farmers know better than to listen to who promote keeping
badseed instead of obtaining good. The commercial seed supplier typically
coats seed with insecticide and fungicide, and has safe facilities to do
so, facilities unavailable to most of the world's farmers. I have seen
farmers coat themselves while coating seed with pesticides - not
environmentally sound agriculture. Good seeds are produced by pros. - for
the same reason that most of use do not bake our own bread...., make our
own movies, or brew our own beer - we leave it to pros to make a certified
product, and theregulators (or healthy competition) to watch over their
Professor Jonathan Gressel
Weizmann Institute of Science
Rehovot, Israel IL-76100
department office: +972-8-934-3585
Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2003 23:06:57 +0200
From: "Ferdinand Engelbeen"
Subject: Re: Lomborg in Australia
The accusations against Bjorn Lomborg for the Danish Committee on
Scientific Dishonesty were in depth investigated by a group of scientists
in The Netherlands, which came to the conclusion that at least 25 out of
27 accusations were not substantiated or are simply invalid. The remaining
two were, even if substantiated further, of minor interest.
The comment about the decision, a critique on several misleading
interpretations of Lomborg's book by his opponents and the results of a
world survey can be found in several parts at:
Jimmy Carter Speaks Out Against Anti-Biotech "Propaganda."
Former U.S. President Carter Backs Biotechnology for Africa
Growing biotech crops in Africa has gained another voice of support in
former U.S. president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter.
In a speech in September at the United Nations University in Tokyo, Carter
spoke about the need for further aid for sub-Saharan Africa. His goal in
speaking was, "to address perhaps the most basic human right of all: for
food to eat."
Carter spoke at length about the need for more aid targeted for
agricultural development in Africa. He also made clear his objections to
those who would keep the fruits of biotechnology out of the hands of
people who need it most.
"We must combat the false propaganda of some European extremists who
condemn the use of genetically modified seeds," Carter said. "Their
misleading statements have been extremely damaging to Africa, where some
misguided leaders have rejected such imports."
In 2002, several African countries debated whether to accept food aid ó
including corn developed with biotechnology ó from the United States. In
the end, only one country, Zambia, rejected the food aid outright. But the
debate over the safety of biotech food that is eaten every day by North
Americans continues as hunger becomes even more widespread in Africa.
In 2003, more than 21 million people in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe face the
risk of "imminent famine" and about 4 million more people in Eritrea,
Mauritania and Mozambique are at risk of becoming "highly food insecure,"
according to the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID)
Famine Early Warning Systems Network.
While a continuing drought is responsible for But the underlying cause of
widespread hunger is Africa's below average agricultural productivity. The
continent's average crop production is the lowest in the world, at 1.7
tons per hectare - less than half the global average of 4 tons per
To help improve agricultural productivity, Carter called for more aid for
agricultural development. In recent years, lending by international public
sector institutions for agriculture and rural development in poor
countries continues has been declining: * Annual World Bank lending has
dropped 47 percent over the past 12 years. *Annual foreign aid by
governments to agriculture has fallen by 57 percent between 1988 and
1996.5 * USAID funding for agriculture has fallen by 48 percent between
1992 and 2001.
Biotechnology is recognized as one way to boost productivity. As Andrew
Natsios, administrator of the USAID has stated, "Low yields due to pests,
diseases, drought and even poor soils can be boosted by application of
readily available tools of biotechnology."
To date, South Africa is the only country on the continent that has given
farmers the green light to grow biotech crops. The income and productivity
gains have been substantial.
One study of the 1999-2000 growing season said average yields in the
Makhathini Flats area of South Africa were 93 percent higher for biotech
cotton than for conventional varieties -- with an average earnings
increase of 77 percent. The farmers with the smallest plots saw even
bigger gains. Emerging farmers also said yields for genetically enhanced
white corn were 220 percent higher than for conventional corn.
Any yield increase can make a significant difference in regions where half
the people survive on less than $1 per day, and three-quarters on less
than $2 a day.10 According to a 2001 study by the United Kingdom's
Department for International Development, even a 1 percent increase in
yields would help raise the incomes of 6 million people above $1 per day.
"In low-income developing countries, agriculture is the driving force for
broad-based economic growth and poverty alleviation," wrote Per
Pinstrup-Andersen and Marc Cohen in an article titled Modern Biotechnology
for Food and Agriculture: Risks and Opportunities for the Poor.
In his speech, Carter condemned those who portray biotechnology as a
threat to safety and to the environment without offering any facts to back
up such claims. "There has never been any evidence of a hazard to humans
or animals," he said. "Many of the most widely used medicines have come
from the same process of utilizing genetic diversity."
Carter plants biotech seeds Carter offered further evidence of his support
for biotechnology. A lifelong farmer who continues to till land that has
been in his family since 1833, he said he grows biotech crops himself.
"Almost all the seeds (including cotton, soybeans and corn13) planted on
my own farm have been genetically modified, to protect the plants from
disease, insects and weeds, and to provide higher nutrition," Carter said.
"My own yields have increased greatly." While Carter is known as a peanut
farmer, he does not plant genetically enhanced varieties because no such
peanuts have been approved for commercial planting in the United States.
Carter's own humanitarian aid group, The Carter Center, has worked for 17
years with the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) and The Nippon Foundation
to assist agricultural development in Africa. His involvement with The
Nippon Foundation's SG2000 pilot program has convinced him of the need to
provide African farmers with the technology and education to improve
agricultural yields. "SG2000 has proven that farmers are eager and
competent, and that with good seed, contour rows, conservation tillage,
moderate chemical fertilizer, weed control and some guidance they can
triple production," he said.
The Nippon Foundation, a private humanitarian aid group based in Japan,
joined forces 19 years ago with the Sasakawa Africa Association, a private
nonprofit group working toward developing agriculture in Africa. SAA,
founded by Japanese statesman Ryoichi Sasakawa, specifically sought to do
for Africa what the Green Revolution had done for India and Pakistan.
The Green Revolution that spurred agricultural development in India,
Pakistan and many other regions in Asia largely bypassed sub-Saharan
Africa because it's too dry for the high-yielding varieties of wheat, corn
and rice that thrive in irrigated plots. Nor did the revolution focus on
Africa's other staple crops -- yams, cassava, sorghum and cowpeas.
Carter said increasing agricultural production is the only lasting
solution to end hunger and malnutrition in Africa. "African people have
proven their eagerness and ability to correct their own problems if given
the chance," he said. And the current stakes are high. Malnutrition
contributes up to 50 percent of the deaths in African children, according
to the World Health Organization. Child mortality under five years of age
is 157 out of every 1,000 -18 times the rate of wealthy nations.
"There is hope for a better future in Africa," Carter concluded in his
speech in Tokyo. Providing farmers with the tools they need - including
biotechnology - to boost agricultural productivity is the surest path to
reach that better future.
EU moves closer to lifting ban on GMOs
EUOBSERVER / STRASBOURG - MEPs gave their go-ahead for the lifting of the
European ban on Genetically Modified Foods by introducing a labelling
system which would enable consumers to choose whether or not to buy GM
The EU hopes that by lifting its moratorium, it will ease tensions between
the EU and other countries, particularly the US, and the World Trade
The US has been hoping for the past 5 years that the EU will lift its
moratorium. Until the ban is actually lifted, the US will persevere with
its request to the WTO that a panel be set up to debate the moratorium.
Greek Conservative MEP Antonios Trakatellis, who drafted one of the
legislation texts approved on Wednesday, (2 July) by the European
Parliament, told EUobserver that Europe’s ban on GMOs has caused the
European biotechnological industry to lag behind.
Although he is pleased with the vote, he would prefer to see improved
techniques to detect traces of GM in food and feed.
Foodstuffs containing more than 0.9% GM to be labelled
MEPs are therefore calling on the Commission to submit a report after the
implementation of this regulation to check whether loopholes exist and
whether it is effective.
Mr Trakatellis is confident that EU ministers will accept the text adopted
by the European Parliament, thereby opening the door for this legislation
to come into force by next autumn.
The new scheme will extend mandatory labelling to products such as oil and
sugar, which do not require labelling under the current rules. The
legislation will also allow EU countries to take measures to prevent
contamination of conventional and organic crops by genetically modified
MEPs have also backed EU ministers in calling for any foodstuffs
containing more than 0.9% GM to be clearly labelled.
However, some think this level is too high. Friends of the Earth had
campaigned for much stricter levels of closer to 0.1%.
EU agriculture ministers are set to approve the new legislation some time
later this month.
Fischler urges EU states to lift modified-crops ban
By Tobias Buck
September 30, 2003
Franz Fischler, the European Union farm commissioner, yesterday pleaded
with member states to lift their moratorium on the approval of new
genetically modified organisms, although some countries insisted further
legislation was needed to shield consumers and farmers from potential
hazards linked to the technology.
His call comes as Brussels faces strong international pressure to restart
authorisations of GMOs following its five-year de facto ban on new
approvals, imposed by a coalition of member states.
The ban faces a legal challenge by the US and other countries at the World
Trade Organisation. The European Commission has pushed hard to make sure
the moratorium is lifted before a WTO panel rules on the case, which could
be next year at the earliest.
However, the Commission's efforts have run into opposition from some
member states as well as from environmentalists, whose hostility to GMO
technology reflects fears about food safety and animal health.
The EU this year passed two tough laws dealing with the labelling and
traceability of GMOs, a move the Commission argued would lead directly to
the removal of the ban.
However, countries such as Austria and Luxembourg said at a meeting of
farm ministers in Brussels yesterday they would not back any new GMO
authorisations without EU-wide rules on the "co-existence" of
conventional, biological and GM farming.
Such rules would include measures aimed at preventing cross-pollination of
GM and non-GM crops and would establish under what circumstances farmers
would have to pay damages in case of such contamination. The Commission
wants such rules to be established at a national level, to prevent any
Mr Fischler told the ministers yesterday: "It is important to note that
the co-existence debate should not be misused for causes that will further
delay the authorisations of new GMOs."
Although EU officials present at the talks said Austria and Luxembourg had
failed to win broad support, Josef Pröll, Austria's farm minister, said
there were "several countries leaning towards our position". Germany, for
example, had backed Vienna's call for EU-wide rules setting out liability
for farmers responsible for contaminating other farmers' crops.
Despite Mr Pröll's remarks, Commission officials said they remained
optimistic that the ban would be lifted in time. "Austria has not caused a
domino effect," said a spokesman for Mr Fischler.
GAO Report: Biotech Foods 'As Safe as Conventional Foods'
The investigative arm of the U.S. Congress says biotech foods pose no
long-term health threats and that safety tests are adequate.
A recently published U.S. government report concludes that foods produced
using biotechnology are as safe as conventional foods. There is no
scientific evidence to suggest that they pose a long-term health risk to
consumers, the General Accounting Office (GAO) report said.Ý
The report "Genetically Modified Foods: Experts View Regimen of Safety
Tests as Adequate, but FDA''s Evaluation Process Could Be Enhanced"
recommends modest changes to the process used by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) to evaluate new biotech foods.
A cross-section of experts- from consumer groups, research and academic
institutions, regulatory bodies and industry - contributed to the report
published by the GAO, Congressí independent investigative arm.
"Biotechnology experts believe that the current regimen of tests has been
adequate for ensuring that GM foods marketed to consumers are as safe as
conventional foods," said the report.
Its conclusions support the consensus view that while biotech foods are
not risk-free -- since all foods pose at least some potential threat to
human health -- the risks are the same as those posed by nonbiotech food
products. Through their own research, the National Academy of Sciences and
other respected scientific groups have reached similar conclusions. "Foods
from GM plants pose three types of risk to human health: they can
potentially contain allergens, toxins, or antinutrients," the GAO report
said. "ěThese risks are not unique to GM foods. People have consumed foods
containing allergens, toxins and antinutrients throughout history"
Every new biotech food undergoes rigorous testing by its manufacturer and
review by the FDA to ensure itís safe within those three categories of
risk, the report notes. This process can take anywhere from 18 months to
three years, depending on how similar the food is to other products that
have already been approved.
FDA review is managed by a 'biotechnology evaluation team' composed of a
consumer safety officer, molecular biologist, chemist, environmental
scientist, toxicologist and nutritionist. Among the experts contributing
to the GAO report, even those opposed to biotechnology on ethical or other
nonscientific grounds agreed that the FDA evaluation process is adequate
for assessing safety.
In fact, the report points out that biotech foods may be safer than
conventional foods in that theyíre more thoroughly tested. Many naturally
occurring toxins, for example, such as the substance tomatine in tomatoes,
are often disregarded in conventional foods but carefully measured in the
premarket safety assessment of biotech varieties.
Proposed FDA Enhancements The report recommends that the FDA enhance its
oversight role in two ways: first, by randomly verifying the raw data
companies provide about new products (currently the agency reviews
summaries of that data) and, second, by doing a better job of informing
the public about its evaluation process and the scientific rationale
behind its decisions.
The FDA has proposed changes to make its approval process clearer to the
public. The agency also wants to make FDA review mandatory for all new
biotech foods entering the marketplace. FDA review is currently voluntary,
but all manufacturers have voluntarily submitted their products for
As biotech foods grow more complex with multiple beneficial traits ó corn,
for example, that is both insect resistant and contains higher levels of
vitamin E ó premarket testing procedures will need to improve as well. The
report concludes that thereís no reason to specially monitor biotech foods
long-term because thereís no evidence of heightened risk.
Monitoring the long-term health risks of GM foods is generally neither
necessary nor feasible, according to scientists and regulatory officials
we contacted. In their view, such monitoring is unnecessary because there
is no scientific evidence, or even a hypothesis, suggesting that long-term
harm (such as increased cancer rates) results from these foods
Taste the Future
Learn how plant biotechnology is being used to develop more nutritious
food in this 26-page publication.
Biotechnology may sound like a daunting subject, but it's made easy to
understand in a new publication called Taste the Future. Developed by the
Council for Biotechnology Information, the new publication is intended to
introduce the potential of food biotechnology to an audience that has
heard about the subject and wants to learn more.
The issue is designed to look like a food magazine and includes front
cover promotional headlines such as "High Octane Foods: Are More
Nutritious Foods Coming to Your Grocery Store" and "Eating Yourself Young:
Do Stronger Plants Mean Stronger Bodies."
Inside the 26-page issue are feature stories on how biotechnology helped
save the papaya industry in Hawaii and how the technology could be used to
save the banana industry in India and Asia. Also included are stories
about how biotechnology is being used to reduce allergic reactions to
food, how it's being used to develop cost-effective ways to administer
vaccines, a comprehensive Q & A about biotechnology and short biographies
of plant biotech experts who are available to answer media questions.
And, perhaps most importantly to some, the issue contains an assortment of
recipes - all using at least some crops developed with biotechnology -
from a "papaya smoothie" to a "roasted root vegetable Napoleon."
Download this colorful pdf brochure at
Ethanol from Genetically Modified Corn
September 29, 2003
Biotechnology industry giant Monsanto, best known for their somewhat
contentious Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) is teaming up with
General Motors and the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) to
deliver what the company calls "improved" corn for the dry mill ethanol
industry, which aims to drive increased fuel ethanol demand and expand
fuel ethanol infrastructure to support that demand.
"This announcement underscores Monsanto's commitment to strengthening the
demand for bioenergy in the United States and, in turn, creating new
markets for our customers' products," said Kerry Preete, lead of
Monsanto's U.S. Crop Production business. "This collaboration is a major
step forward for the industry and we feel that it will aid in the
development of rural economic growth."
Monsanto said the collaborative would provide a major boost to the U.S.
ethanol industry, through Monsanto's Fuel Your Profits program, by
generating a multi-million dollar investment over the next two years. This
investment will be aimed at fueling ethanol profits from corn planting to
ethanol processing and beyond.
The Fuel Your Profits program takes advantage of Monsanto's research
capabilities by promoting improved corn hybrids for the dry mill ethanol
industry offered through the Processor Preferred High Fermentable Corn
(HFC) brand. However, the Fuel Your Profits program is about more than
just providing products to the industry, Monsanto notes.
"We wanted to provide a way for corn growers and ethanol plant owners to
take advantage of Monsanto's advancements while increasing ethanol demand
and expanding the ethanol fuel infrastructure in our country," said Amy
Rutherford, Processor Preferred business manager. "The Fuel Your Profits
program is designed to increase the profitability potential of both corn
growers and ethanol plants."
Participants in the Fuel Your Profits program will be eligible for reward
certificates off of a negotiated purchase price of General Motors' E85
vehicles as well as incentives to increase the number of E85 fuel pump
stations that are located throughout the country.
"Monsanto has responded to corn growers' requests for programs that
provide value added opportunities with Fuel Your Profits. This is a sound,
sensible way to help grow the ethanol industry," said National Corn
Growers Association President Fred Yoder. "The program offers a
science-based analysis by which the Processor Preferred system determines
a list of High Fermentable Corn. Ethanol plants and corn growers can
utilize this list to their mutual benefit.
According to John Gaydash, General Motor's Director, Marketing of GM Fleet
and Commercial Operations, "General Motors has more than one million
vehicles on the road today capable of burning E85. We have demonstrated
our interest in increasing ethanol demand through our E85 awareness
efforts with NEVC. Fuel Your Profits ties nicely with these efforts."
To date, there are 17 dry mill ethanol plants participating in the Fuel
Your Profits program. These plants are located throughout the country, and
will collectively consume grain from 1.5 million acres of the 2004
Through the Fuel Your Profits collaboration, Monsanto will also provide
ethanol plants access to and use of a Near Infrared proprietary
measurement tool developed under ISO 17025 compliance by Monsanto's crop
analytics scientists. The tool will help plant managers and growers
understand which corn hybrids yield more ethanol in the dry mill process.
Such information allows ethanol plants to optimize efficiency and output
by providing an indicator of the fermentability of corn at the front end
of their process. Grower enrollment in the Fuel Your Profits program is
currently underway, and ends February 1, 2004.
Alan Wood: 'Discredited' by propagandists
September 30, 2003
Like established religion, the scientific community rarely responds well
to criticism of its orthodoxies. When religion and science combine, as
they do in the environmental movement, the reaction to critics can be
The heretic of the hour is a Danish statistician named Bjorn Lomborg,
author of The Skeptical Environmentalist. He has challenged the
conventional wisdom that says the world's environment is steadily
deteriorating and can only get worse, unless we embrace the anti-growth
religion of the greens and many scientists.
Lomborg is on a lecture tour of Australia as a guest of the Institute of
Public Affairs and delivers the H.V. McKay lecture in Melbourne tonight.
Already the ecowarriors are at the barricades.
The ABC's Earthbeat program had a panel discussion a week ago on Lomborg's
The program's presenter, Alexandra de Blas, introduced the discussion this
way: "Lomborg's book has been discredited by some of the world's premier
environmental scientists." Get the picture? Why would you want to listen
to this bloke?
But the claims that Lomborg's book has been discredited should not pass
unchallenged. Too often the attacks have consisted of little more than
abuse and denigration, with no attempt to come to grips with Lomborg's
research. A common evasion is to say Lomborg is not a scientist, ergo he
doesn't know what he is talking about, unlike his critics.
But what about the credentials of those who so savagely attack Lomborg's?
Four of Lomborg's prominent critics are Paul Ehrlich and Stephen Schneider
of California's Stanford University, John Holdren of Harvard University's
John F. Kennedy School of Government and Ian Lowe of Queensland's Griffith
University. Two of these, Schneider and Holdren, were part of a savage
attack on Lomborg in the Scientific American of January 2002, which is the
source of most claims that Lomborg has been discredited.
He wasn't. The Economist correctly described the Scientific American's
authors as "strong on contempt and sneering, but weak on substance".
Schneider, Holdren and Ehrlich all have a history of making apocalyptic
predictions of environmental, economic and population crises.
For example, in 1972 Ehrlich and Holdren attacked a book called The
Doomsday Syndrome by the editor of Nature, John Maddox, which had the
temerity to suggest the population scaremongering they peddled was "a damp
squib". Maddox had noted, among other things, the tendency of populations
in developed countries to stabilise, and suggested this would spread to
developing countries as education and wealth increased.
Ehrlich and Holdren accused him of an "uninformed assault on the concerns
of environmentalists", and went on to put forward projections for massive
population growth and, at least in Ehrlich's case, imminent mass
starvation. These predictions have been completely discredited and
Maddox's views are now unremarkable.
Ehrlich has gone on making apocalyptic claims which have also proved false
yet has the gall to dismiss Lomborg's book as junk. This from the
As for Schneider, in an article in Dialogue, the journal of the Australian
Academy of Social Sciences, Ian Castles, a distinguished Australian public
service economist and former commonwealth statistician, caustically
remarked it was fortunate for Schneider that Lomborg did not review his
contributions to the debate on global change during the past 30 years.
Had he done so he would have found that Schneider, now an advocate of
immediate action against global warming, used to worry about global
cooling and a little ice age. He is also responsible for an infamous quote
about the need for scientists to capture the public's imagination on
"That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage, so we have to
offer up scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and make
little mention of any doubts we might have."
A central proposition of Lomborg's that environmental scientists have
great difficulty with is that economic growth and rising incomes, once
they reach a certain level, are associated with less, not more,
environmental degradation – at least in democratic market economies.
This, according to Castles, is because many scientists have become so
accustomed to thinking of growth and the environment as opposites that
they are unable to accept the clear message of the empirical evidence
Lomborg presents on this fundamental point.
Castles quotes Ian Lowe, from an earlier ABC debate on Lomborg, who
asserts that to claim environmental problems will be solved by greater
wealth and private property rights is economic dogma.
"Professor Lowe is mistaken. To deny that problems of the environment can
be solved by greater wealth and private property rights is dogma, not
science," Castles says. An important reason for the association between
growth and an improved environment is that growth facilitates new
technology which allows higher average incomes and improvements in the
Understanding this link is crucial and Lomborg deserves a fair hearing on
this and other issues, rather than attempts to suppress debate with
ill-founded claims that he has been discredited by a bunch of