Today in AgBioView: November 21, 2003:
* Will The Ford Foundation Stop Bankrolling Violence?
* Close the African Biotech Gap
* Brazil Farmers Declare Plans for Genetically Modified Soybeans
* BT COTTON CONTINUES TO BENEFIT CHINESE FARMERS
* INDIA: BT Cotton Area Trebles
* German state tries to go ahead with genetically modified crops
* Prehistoric Farming
* Globally, GM plantings are on the rise
* UC Berkeley's research deal still a hot issue
* Science Museum Takes Brains-On Approach
* Exposing Eco-imperialism.....
* Killing Millions to 'Save' the Earth
* Plant-Made Biopharmaceuticals Are Biotech's Next Wave
Will The Ford Foundation Stop Bankrolling Violence?
November 19, 2003
The $9 billion Ford Foundation has announced new grantmaking policies that
would prevent future funding of some violent activist groups -- if Ford
takes its own guidelines seriously. On Monday the giant money machine sent
a letter to U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) admitting its support for groups
that promote anti-Semitic violence
"We now recognize that we did not have a clear picture of the activities,
organizations and people involved," Ford's president wrote. Now would also
be a good time for the Foundation to examine how its funds have been used
to advocate the destruction of restaurants, grocery stores, biotech crops,
and other mainstays of modern society.
Here's how the Ford Foundation describes its new policy changes:
The Foundation's standard grant agreement letter that grantees around the
world must sign to receive Ford funds will now include explicit language
requiring the organization to agree that it will not promote violence or
terrorism. This prohibition applies to all of the organization's funds,
not just those provided through a grant from the Ford Foundation.
Organizations unwilling to agree to these terms will not receive
Foundation support. (emphasis added)
Keeping in mind Ford's newfound opposition to the promotion of violence,
let's take a look at three recipients of Ford Foundation money: the
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Friends of the Earth, and the
As we pointed out yesterday, Friends of the Earth, the happy recipient of
more than $2 million in Ford money over the last 10 years, has signed on
to a campaign to destroy biotech crop fields. Moreover, the Chairman of
Friends of the Earth UK supports an organization whose motto is an open
invitation for violence against people: "The Earth is not dying, it is
being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses."
The original eco-vandals at Earth First! have adopted that same phrase as
their rallying cry. And guess what? The Ford Foundation has provided
funds, indirectly, to Earth First!.
The Tides Foundation, which takes money from major philanthropic
organizations and passes it on to activist groups that are perhaps too
radical for mainstream foundations to embrace officially, has received
more than $36 million from the Ford Foundation since 1989. One Tides
recipient is the Fund for Wild Nature (FWN), which used to be called the
Earth First! Foundation. FWN regularly supports the Earth First! Journal
as well as local EF! groups like Arizona Earth First!; FWN also funds the
Ecology Center in Missoula, Montana, which partially funded the legal
defense of convicted arsonist Rodney Coronado.
In addition, Tides financially supports the Independent Media Center
(IMC); in February, IMC published a screed by an Earth Liberation Front
arsonist who is serving a five-year sentence for setting fire to three
logging vehicles. It reads in part:
There are necessary evils if we want to be effective in our struggles,
such as the use of petro-fuels in igniting huge bonfires in which we can
watch corporations go bankrupt ... I hope I don't sound as if I'm
condemning these activities-by all means, burn the [expletive deleted] to
Lastly, Ford has given more than $2 million to the Institute for
Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), which has a close relationship with
recently paroled saboteur Jose Bove. IATP has sponsored events where Bove
was the primary speaker -- including one during the 1999 World Trade
Organization riots in Seattle where Bove called for protestors to
vandalize supermarkets. Bove, you may recall, went to prison after
attacking a McDonald's restaurant in France, and is perhaps the most
famous supporter of genetically enhanced crop destruction.
The Ford Foundation has some additional housecleaning to do.
Close the African Biotech Gap
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
Nov. 19, 2003
IBADAN, Nigeria -- African researchers attending a major biotechnology
conference have decried the lack of African capacity to conduct
leading-edge biotechnological science. While many African problems,
especially in agriculture, may be solved using biotech tools, too often
scientists in the developed world with access to more modern facilities
must be called in to do the real work. For many African researchers, that
is just not good enough.
In Ibadan, more than130 delegates from all parts of Africa with leading
researchers and development assistance partners from the United States
have attended the three-day conference at the International Institute of
Tropical Agriculture (IITA). The United States Agency for International
Development (USAID), with support from the Federal Government of Nigeria
and the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program, phase 2 (ABSP 2) of
USAID along with IITA sponsored the meeting. It was the third in an annual
series designed to highlight the USAID–Africa partnership in
biotechnology. The United States has greatly increased its support to
biotechnology in Africa (as well as to other parts of the developing
world) in the past several years.
African research teams have welcomed that support but point out that there
are still major gaps to be filled in both technological infrastructure
(laboratories and modern equipment) and in human scientific capacity. To
address such concerns and help close the biotech gap in Nigeria, IITA with
USAID has just begun a major biotech capacity building program.
The meeting also discussed recent progress in several biotech research
areas as well as the policies and legal frameworks that must be in place
(for example, effective laws on biosafety and legislation on intellectual
property rights) for countries to take full advantage of biotechnological
tools. Delegates deplored the lack of accurate information available to
both the general public and to African policymakers about genetic
enhancement in food products. They agreed they had an important job to do
in countering with truth any ill-informed anti-GMO campaigns. It would be
unfair if Africans, especially the rural poor, did not have the chance to
take advantage of the potentially huge benefits that genetically enhanced
crops could provide.
IITA is a center of excellence for agricultural research for the
development of Africa. Its goal is to enhance, in a sustainable and
environmentally friendly way, the livelihoods, wellbeing, and food
security of millions of Africans.
For further information contact:
(234) 02 241-2626 ext. 2770
Brazil Farmers Declare Plans for Genetically Modified Soybeans
Reuters, By Reese Ewing, November 19, 2003
At least 50,400 soy producers in Brazil have registered to plant
genetically modified soybeans in the 2003/04 crop year, the Agriculture
Ministry said on Friday.
The ministry said on Monday that only 11,900 producers had signed up to
plant GM, well below its expectation of 50,000 to 100,000 growers.
"In some locations, such as Chapada (in Rio Grande do Sul state) the
intention to plant GM reached almost 98 percent of the growers," the
Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on Friday.
Brazil, the last agricultural exporter of its size to ban GM foods,
recently legalized biotech soy planting and sales for the new crop, under
the condition that producers register their intention to plant GM with the
government by Dec. 9.
"Here, people don't have any fear of signing up because they know they are
planting a product that is not bad for health or the environment, because
they can spray less agrochemicals on the crops," said the mayor of
Chapada, Carlso Alzenir Catto.
Catto said the high rate of sign up, even by small farmers, in his region
was evidence of the advantages of GM over conventional soybean cultivation
Although roughly 50,000 of the signatures came from No. 3 soy state Rio
Grande do Sul, soy growers from nearly everywhere in Brazil's massive 20
million hectare soy belt we registering to plant the biotech seeds.
Brazil had by this week planted about 52 percent of its expected record 57
million to 60 million tonne crop. The country should become the world's
No. 1 soy exporter this year, displacing the long-time leader the United
States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Brazil is requiring produces to register their crops as GM or be subject
to fines of 16,100 reais ($5,600) plus 10 percent of the estimated value
of the quantity of the unregistered soy.
Rio Grande do Sul has long been known as Brazil's main GM soy market.
Monsanto Co.'s Roundup Ready Soybeans were smuggled in from across the
border with Argentina where GM soy makes up 99 percent of the planting.
Most of the GM soy is now duplicated domestically by black market seed
producers in Rio Grande do Sul.
BT COTTON CONTINUES TO BENEFIT CHINESE FARMERS
The adoption of Bt cotton by Chinese farmers continues to increase output
per hectare within two years time (2000-2001), and crop yield gains
(approximately 10 percent) extend to all provinces in China. Bt cotton
farmers also increased their incomes by reducing pesticide usage and labor
inputs. Says Jikun Huang, Director, Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy
of the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing, and colleagues who
re-examined earlier findings on the effect of Bt cotton in China.
Huang and his colleagues observed that Bt cotton also continued to have
positive environmental impacts due to reduced pesticide use. Farmers were
also found to have less health problems because of this.
In terms of policies, the results suggest that the Chinese government
should continue to invest in Bt cotton and other agri-biotech
technologies. Government investments in the regulation of biotechnology
will have to be increased to ensure that widespread use of Bt does not
lead to the rapid development of pest resistance.
The Chinese government was, likewise, seen as playing a role in reducing
pesticide use among farmers through information, extension related
training, pesticide price and marketing policies. A combination of Bt
cotton and integrated pest management activities was suggested to make Bt
cotton even more beneficial to the farmers.
The authors concluded that the experience of China with Bt cotton is not a
unique case, and that there are lessons, particularly on the importance of
local research on biotechnology, which other farmers in developing
countries can benefit from. The paper entitled “Bt cotton benefits, costs
and impacts in China” can be downloaded at
INDIA: BT Cotton Area Trebles
November 21, 2003
The area under Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton has almost trebled this
year and the prospects appear bright for further rise in the acreage. This
is because farmers have enjoyed a good harvest with Bt cotton, especially
in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
"We have had very good results with Bt cotton this year. As a result, area
under Bt cotton will rise next year," said a farmer of Nagaravi village in
Madhya Pradesh's Khargone district.
Bt cotton is a genetically-modified variety in which the plant has been
engineered to produce insecticidal toxin to protect cotton from bollworm
The toxin is produced due to the insertion of the genes of Bacillus
thuringeinsis, a soil bacteria.
The advantage of using Bt cotton is that growers need to spray fewer
pesticides than for the ordinary varieties. .
"Bt cotton acreage has increased in Madhya Pradesh this year. We have
distributed 3,200 packets of Bt cotton seeds for trial sowing," said Dr
G.S. Kaushal, Director, Agriculture.
"The performance of Bt cotton has been good this season. It has been
effective against bollworm," he said.
According to Ms Ranjana Smetacek, Director-Public Affairs, Monsanto India,
the area under Bt cotton has trebled this year to 2.16 lakh hectares from
72,682 ha last year.
Monsanto holds the licence to produce Bt cotton in the country along with
Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company with which it has a 50:50 joint venture.
The Government has permitted the cultivation of Bt cotton in Maharashtra,
Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
Farmers in Madhya Pradesh, in particular, are happy with the Bt cotton
crop. ``We have not had any problems with pests or insects this year due
to good rains,'' farmers said.
``Last year, problems were reported with Bt cotton due to the wilt
disease. But this was common with all cotton crop due to hot weather,''
traders and farmers said.
Farmers in parts of Khargone district have reported a yield of five-six
quintals an acre against less than four quintals last year. ``We have got
good yield and higher prices too,'' they said.
Ms Smetacek said the area under cotton in Madhya Pradesh had increased
ten-fold to 33,100 acres this year.
Meanwhile, Monsanto has said it will shortly commission a survey by a
``reputed research agency of world-class calibre'' on Bt cotton. ``This is
to collate data on the growers' experience in pesticide spraying, cotton
yields and income generated. We hope to have this data in January 2004,''
Ms Smetacek said.
This season (October 2003-September 2004), cotton production, including
the Bt variety, is estimated at a record 170 lakh bales (of 170 kg)
against 135 lakh bales last season.
State tries to go ahead with genetically modified crops
Saxony-Anhalt wants to attract investors
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, By Bruce Stafford, Nov. 21, 2003
The eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt is attempting to spur the federal
government into allowing the use of genetically modified crops in Germany,
while trying to get in on the ground floor should the controversial
technology finally get the green light in this country.
Saxony-Anhalt officials said this week that they were already looking for
potential investors under a plan announced earlier this month that would
see the state put up as much as EUR150 million, or $178 million, in
subsidies over the next five years to encourage the biotechnology sector
and the production of genetically modified crops in the state.
A problem for the state, one of Germany's most economically depressed,
with an unemployment rate of 19.3 percent, is that the federal government
has yet to establish a legal basis to implement a European Union law
passed in July that gives EU member states the authority on whether to
allow the use of so-called “GM technology“ on their territories.
There appears to be little support for the Saxony-Anhalt project in
Berlin, where the Greens are the junior partner in the government
coalition, and many consumers and environmental groups are mounting stiff
opposition to the legalization of the technology, though it is widely used
and deemed safe in many places, including North America.
Just last month, Berlin ordered a halt to field testing of genetically
modified apple trees at the Leibnitz Institute in Saxony-Anhalt and the
state's plan to subsidize the technology brought a reminder from the
federal government that any field trials would require its approval. A
spokesperson for the German Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture
Ministry said that, “questions upon questions“ remained open, and that
there was no legal foundation for the initiative.
Horst Rehberger, Saxony-Anhalt's economics minister, was undeterred. “We
are in desperate need of practical experience,“ he said, adding that his
state foresees itself leading the way when - and if - Germany embraces
biotechnology. Construction will begin next year on the “Biopark,“ an
industrial area in the city of Gatersleben that his government hopes will
attract biotech companies and give a boost to the state's struggling
A major reason for opposition to genetically modified crops being grown
even on a test basis in Germany is that the seeds from these fields could
cross-pollinate conventional and organic crops, making them worthless
because of strict limitations on the sale of genetically modified foods to
consumers. The German Farmers Union favors testing, but only if there are
adequate measures to protect farmers whose crops are affected by
“cross-contamination“ from experimental fields.
Newsweek, November 24, 2003
The maize that will soon be piled high on Thanksgiving tables throughout
the United States is a thoroughly human invention. It started as teosinte,
a wild grass with clusters of puny kernels. From each autumn harvest,
ancient Mexicans put aside the biggest kernels for planting in the spring.
Each year the crop's kernels got a bit bigger, until--at the hand of
humans, rather than natural selection--teosinte gradually "evolved" into
the magnificently fat, yellow cobs we now take so much for granted.
Scientists have long assumed that this process took place gradually,
perhaps over thousands of years. When geneticist Svante Paabo in Leipzig,
Germany, turned the tools of genetic analysis to this ancient question,
though, he got a surprise. His study of maize samples from the Balsas
River Valley in southern Mexico, published last week in the journal
Science, reveals that modern maize appeared on the scene far earlier than
scientists had thought--perhaps as early as 9,000 years ago, almost 3,000
years before the earliest archeological evidence.
The findings suggest that ancient humans were capable of causing rapid and
decisive changes in the genetic makeup of staple crops, even without the
tools of modern genetics. And they raise the possibility that ancient
Mexicans may have benefited from their own maize-fed green revolution,
similar to the one fueled in the 1960s and 1970s by high-yielding strains
of wheat and rice.
Paabo and his colleagues performed their DNA analysis on 4,300-year-old
cobs. They focused on three genes that control essential characteristics
of modern maize: one that represses the formation of branches, making the
plant easier to harvest, and two that reduce the protein and change the
quality of the starch in the kernels, making them more valuable as food.
The ancient cobs showed much less natural variation of all three genes
than teosinte--clear evidence of alteration by human selection.
John Doebley, a geneticist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a
coauthor of the study, speculates that the transformation took place in a
mere 100 years--a flash by evolutionary standards--though scientists won't
know for sure until they've tested further. Apparently genetically
modified maize has been shaking things up for thousands of years.
Globally, GM plantings are on the rise
The number of growers planting genetically modified (GM) crops and the
amount of land dedicated to them continue to grow globally, according to
Clive James, the chair of the International Service for the Acquisition of
Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), and the author of the group's annual
report on the global status of agricultural biotechnology.
According to the report, in 2002 there were 145 million acres planted in
GM crops, grown by 6 million farmers, including 5 million working small
areas in developing countries.
Growth in GM crop plantings as a percentage of total acres planted to each
crop, over the last three years are shown below:
Crop 2002 2001 2000
Soybeans (178 million acres planted) 51% 46% 36%
Cotton (84 million acres) 20% 20% 16%
Corn/maize (346 million acres) 9% 7% 7%
Canola (62 million acres) 12% 11% 11%
From a seven-year perspective, more than 580 million acres of GM crops
have been planted commercially and, according to James, "GM crops
delivered significant agronomic, environmental health and social benefits
to farmers and to global society, and contributed to a more sustainable
This year's report included a special feature that assesses Bt corn's
potential and performance to-date. In it, James says the 346 million acres
of corn planted in 2002 produced 600 million metric tons of grain, valued
at $65 billion annually. Among the 200 million corn farmers worldwide,
hybrids are the predominant seed type, with only 20% of seed being
farmer-saved. In countries with established seed distribution systems, the
proportion of hybrid seed is higher.
Two factors cited in the report helped motivate the assessment of Bt corn.
First, insect pests substantially increase costs a nd red uce yields in
approximately 50% of key growing countries, with an estimated loss of 52
million metric tons. It is estimated that the insects responsible for
half of this loss could be controlled by the first generation Bt corn, and
more of the loss w ould be eliminated with the added insect control of
Second, James projects in 2020 demand for corn will surpass demand for
wheat and rice. The reasons include population growth, a more affluent
global society and increased demand for meat, much of which is corn-fed.
James estimates an additional 266 million metric tons of corn will be
needed each year by 2020.
Extrapolating the increased use of first generation Bt corn, he estimates
an annual increase of 35 million metric tons of corn would be harvested.
With newer hybrids, that estimate would be higher.
James also points to increased food and feed safety due to lowered levels
of harmful mycotoxins. "From a global perspective, the potential for Bt
maize in the near to mid-term is substantial."
ISAAA is a non-profit organization formed with the mission of contributing
to alleviating poverty by increasing crop productivity and income
generation and bringing about a safer environment and more sustainable
agricultural development. One of its objectives is the transfer and
delivery of appropriate biotechnology applications to developing
The organization is funded by a donor support group consisting of public
and private sector institutions. Among the donors are Bayer Crop Science,
Monsanto Company, Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Cargill, and
UC Berkeley's research deal still a hot issue
The partnership with Novartis supplied welcome funds but raised concern
about control and secrecy.
Sacramento Bee, By Edie Lau, November 20, 2003
The deal was signed five years ago in an uproar. It expires Sunday with a
But the quiet by no means signifies peace over a controversial partnership
struck between the University of California, Berkeley, and a multinational
biotechnology company, Novartis.
The company gave researchers in Berkeley's Department of Plant and
Microbial Biology $25 million over five years and access to confidential
company data in exchange for campus brainpower and first dibs on
discoveries with moneymaking potential.
Supporters called it a creative way to obtain much-needed funding. Critics
denounced it as a deal with the devil. The contract was questioned in the
popular media, in scientific journals and in a state Senate hearing as a
possible sign of too-cozy relationships between industry and academia.
As the unique partnership comes to a close, opinions remain passionately
"I wish it would have gone on forever," said Robert Price, associate vice
chancellor for research. "If this was supposed to be a showcase for how
things could be done, it was a failure," said Jason Delborne, an
environmental science and policy doctoral student who opposed the deal all
The collaboration produced few splashy results, good or bad. Generally,
the company treaded lightly on the university scientists, not trying - as
some had feared - to steer their research. Each of the 23 researchers who
proposed projects received an award, ranging from $75,000 to $200,000 per
The contract also gave the company the right to ask researchers to delay
publication or presentations of their work, which it did - but only
infrequently. The absence of much secrecy, though, may have stemmed mostly
from the fact that the company ended up laying claim to few campus
inventions. To date, it has kept the option of taking to market only one
discovery, related to thwarting food and pollen allergies.
On that subject, secrecy rules. The faculty member who made the discovery,
Bob Buchanan, discussed it only in vague terms, citing the need for
Buchanan was chairman of the department when the agreement was forged, and
helped shape it. He would say only that without Novartis' support, he
would not have made the allergy discovery. He would not even disclose the
amount of that financial support.
The impact of the agreement will get a fresh look next year. Lawrence
Busch, a sociologist at Michigan State University, has been hired by the
university to assess the deal's effects in the department, on the
university and on major research universities.
Busch hopes to complete the review by early January.
Perhaps the only certain fact about the partnership between Berkeley and
Novartis is that it didn't play out the way anyone expected.
Novartis doesn't even exist today in the same form, making a simple
contract renewal all but impossible. Following the company's fortunes is
like tracing a family tree laden with divorces and remarriages.
The Swiss company originally dealt in health care, farming and food. In
2000, two years into the contract with Berkeley - with rising consumer
objections to genetically engineered food - Novartis spun off its
agricultural division. The division became part of a new company,
Syngenta maintained the contract with Berkeley, but in late 2002, it
closed the lab in La Jolla where scientists collaborating with Berkeley
were housed, stunting the relationship.
Steven Briggs, the Novartis executive who founded the La Jolla lab and
negotiated the Berkeley contract, said it was a good ride while it lasted.
"From my view, it was very successful," said Briggs, who now works at a
San Diego biotech company named Diversa Corp.
Briggs said one of his aims was to jump-start his lab, which at the time
had no staff: "It was just me and a telephone." By teaming with Berkeley,
Briggs said, "I had an instant research program."
That alone made it worthwhile for Briggs, although he said the alliance
would have benefited from a more stable business environment at Novartis.
When Briggs left the company last year, a Syngenta research manager in
England, Simon Bright, became Berkeley's company liaison. Asked why so
little intellectual property resulted from the deal, Bright cited recent
changes in patent rules.
He said basic findings such as the identities and functions of genes no
longer are eligible for patent. "The very fundamental things turn into
more inspiration than intellectual property," he said.
Bright added that he will lay claim to a few more Berkeley discoveries,
but not as many as expected. Early on, Novartis also considered building a
laboratory on campus, to ease collaborations with faculty. University
factions that disliked the Novartis deal were horrified by the prospect of
a physical presence, and said so.
The lab was never built. And now, Syngenta will not extend the contract,
although Bright said it plans to do projects with individual researchers.
It was the broad scope of the original contract that raised so many
eyebrows in 1998. Relationships between industry and faculty are hardly
new, but this arrangement swept up the entire Department of Plant and
Microbial Biology. Over its five-year duration, only four out of about 26
full-time faculty opted out.
Donald Kaplan was one of the four. From start to finish, the plant
biologist disagreed with giving one company first crack at university
"What we do is in the public realm," he said. "Why should they get some
advantage to get that information by buying it? I think it's corrupt."
Other faculty had reservations, but in the spirit of experimentation, they
participated anyway. Norman Terry, an environmental plant physiologist,
said it turned out to be a chance worth taking. Terry received $75,000 a
year for five years, which he used to genetically engineer Indian mustard
plants to more quickly clean up selenium pollution. (Selenium is an
element that has accumulated in toxic concentrations in Central Valley
soils because of farm irrigation runoff.)
Meanwhile, Novartis was virtually invisible. "I never had anyone looking
over my shoulder saying, you've got to do this or you've got to do that,"
Terry said. Louise Glass joined the Berkeley faculty a year into the
Novartis contract. She welcomed the money and found it even more valuable
than she expected.
Glass studies a type of fungi that produce compounds that can be useful as
medicine. She explores networks formed by the fungi as they grow. Using
$200,000 in Novartis funds over two years, Glass learned enough about the
organisms to win a three-year, $600,000 National Science Foundation grant.
Faculty throughout the department parlayed the Novartis money into bigger
grants from other sources, according to Robert Price, UC Berkeley's
associate vice chancellor for research. At the start of the agreement,
Novartis funding constituted 42 percent of the department's outside
funding. Now it makes up only 27 percent, Price said.
If faculty were largely pleased by the Novartis alliance, graduate
students were ambivalent. For them, the deal was more bruising, enduringly
so. More than a year into the contract, the UC Berkeley Center for Studies
in Higher Education surveyed 35 students and found a majority still angry
about being excluded from the negotiations that led to the alliance.
Nicholas Kaplinsky, a plant biologist at the Carnegie Institution in
Stanford, was a doctoral student at Berkeley at the time of the Novartis
At the beginning, he was angry. Someone asked him to represent students at
a news conference touting the agreement. Wary of corporate funding of
research, he didn't go.
Later, Kaplinsky found the collaboration professionally valuable. Using
access to Novartis' proprietary information on rice genetics and funds
awarded to his faculty adviser, Kaplinsky looked for similarities in rice
and corn DNA.
His findings ended up published in a prestigious journal. At the same
time, Kaplinsky was hit by political fallout.
Twice, fields of conventional corn he planted to study the genetics of ear
development were destroyed. The vandals left a note referring to Novartis.
Kaplinsky still has trouble sorting it all out.
"If the amount of effort put into finding the corporate money and dealing
with the political issues that came out of it had gone into increasing
public funding," he said, "I wonder if that wouldn't have been a better
Science Museum Takes Brains-On Approach
- Jacqueline Trescott, washingtonpost.com, November 18, 2003
The National Academy of Sciences plans to open a science museum in
Washington next spring that will showcase research sponsored by the
academy and dissect important policy and ethical questions facing
scientists, it announced yesterday. The 6,000-square-foot facility --
small compared with Washington's other museums -- will be at Sixth and E
streets NW, a block from the National Building Museum.
Daniel E. Koshland Jr., a biochemist, veteran of the Manhattan Project and
former editor in chief of Science magazine, gave the academy $25 million
in memory of his wife. Marian Koshland, a noted immunologist who did
groundbreaking work on a cholera vaccine and the behavior of antibodies,
died in 1997.
"We wanted to explain science a little more. We wanted to show how science
works, the science behind the headlines," said Koshland, 83, a professor
at University of California, Berkeley, and an heir to the Levi Strauss
fortune. During World War II, Koshland worked at the University of Chicago
and the laboratories at Oak Ridge, Tenn., as a chemist trying to purify
plutonium. The work of Koshland and others led to the development of three
nuclear bombs, including the ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In the last decade science museums have become enormous draws around the
country. Most of them are packed with bells and whistles, as well as
computer-generated interactive exhibits, to appeal to the school-age
visitor. "Museums are very tangible. They provide a place for people to
enter and experience," said Patrice Legro, director of the new museum.
The Marian Koshland Science Museum is deliberately trying a different
formula. The museum will be organized around a series of oversize panels
and interactive displays. The material will be based on reports of the
scientists, engineers and health professionals who work for private
research groups under the National Academy. The academy gets about 80
percent of its funds from the federal government; each year groups
associated with it publish more than 200 studies on topics such as
nutritional guidelines, the Human Genome Project, nuclear waste, medical
errors and science, and health and education issues.
The topics, the planners hope, will be timely. "The currency of what we
are trying to show is the hook," Legro said. The organizers have planned a
permanent exhibition on general science and two changing displays. The
latter will focus on climate change, specifically the global warming
phenomenon, and on DNA sequencing, examining the SARS outbreak, crop
improvement and criminal forensics.
"We are aiming our content at the non-scientist adult. We recognize our
content is complex," Legro said. The museum is being planned by the Bowman
Design Group, a firm based in Signal Hill, Calif. It created the Museum of
Flying in Santa Monica and the Children's Museum of Tampa. It also ran
events for the National Football League and soccer's World Cup.
Koshland thinks a boutique museum for science will attract those who want
more answers. "We are looking at what is the basic science you need to
understand, and then you read the newspaper and decide your position," he
- Philip Stott, Greenspin, Nov. 10, 2003
Here are the details of Paul K. Driessen's challenging new book, just
published: Eco-imperialism - Green power, Black death (2003). Direct links
to Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, etc., are all provided at the web site
This is Greenpeace Co-founder Patrick Moore's opinion of the book: "The
environmental movement I helped found has lost its objectivity, morality
and humanity. The pain and suffering it is inflicting on families in
developing countries must no longer be tolerated. Eco-Imperialism is the
first book I've seen that tells the truth and lays it on the line. It's a
must-read for anyone who cares about people, progress and our planet."
Powerful stuff - recalling the final words of Anna Bramwell's little
masterpiece, The fading of the greens (New Haven & London: Yale University
Press, 1994, p. 208): The environment "...is the 'Northern White Empire's
last burden, and may be its last crusade."
As Private Eye might say -"Green is the new Empire Red" or "Green is the
The less Said on that the better!
Cerebral coffee time.
Killing Millions to 'Save' the Earth
CNSNews.com, By Alan Caruba, November 21, 2003
From my childhood in the 1940s to today, one image has symbolized Africa.
It is the mother holding a child that is mere skin and bones.
This reoccurring image has been used by organizations to raise money for
starving Africans. Famine has always stalked that continent, but the other
big killer in Africa and other third world nations around the world is
malaria, a mosquito-borne disease.
So, when I received a copy of Paul Driessen's book, Eco-Imperialism: Green
Power ~ Black Death , the first thing I noticed was the familiar image on
its cover. "In 2000, say World Health Organization and other studies,
malaria infected over 300 million people. It killed nearly 2,000,000-most
of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Over half of the victims are children, who
die at the rate of two per minute or 3,000 per day."
In his introduction to Driessen's book, Niger Innis of the Congress of
Racial Equality, says, "This book should have been written years ago."
He's right, but it has taken years for the full picture of the evil
perpetrated by those claiming they want to "save the Earth" to emerge.
Many of us who have struggled to demonstrate the moral depravity and
corruption of the environmental movement have concentrated on various
elements of it. Driessen's triumph has been to present the full picture.
Capturing the theme of Driessen's book, Innis says, "The movement imposes
the views of mostly wealthy, comfortable Americans and Europeans on mostly
poor, desperate Africans, Asians and Latin Americans. It violates these
people's most basic human rights, denying them economic opportunities, the
chance for better lives, the right to rid their countries of diseases that
were vanquished long ago in Europe and the United States."
I count myself fortunate to call Paul Driessen my friend. He is one of
those doughty warriors among the small circle of those who fight the lies
of environmental organizations.
What are we up against? You may think of the movement in terms of its
books, calendars and stuffed animals it deems endangered. You may think of
it in terms of striving to "save" the rain forest and avoid "global
warming", but, as he points out, the environmental movement is a powerful
$4 billion-a-year industry in the US and an $8 billion-a-year
The truth behind the many false environmental claims was revealed in Bjorn
Lomborg's book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State
of the World." However, with $8 billion the movement is capable of
manipulating national and international public opinion and public policy
in ways that ultimately keep Third World nations mired in poverty and
unable to prevent the eco-murder millions of Africans, Asians, and Latin
Driessen describes just how they do that in one chapter after another. The
ban on DDT is perhaps the most dramatic and visible example of this. In
South Africa, the most developed nation on the continent, the continued
use of this life-saving pesticide has kept the incidence of malaria very
low. When, in 1996, environmentalist pressures convinced the program's
directors to cease using DDT, it led to one of the worst epidemics in the
nation's history with almost 62,000 cases in 2000. When DDT use was
reintroduced, malaria cases plummeted by 80%.
As Richard Tren, president of Africa Fighting Malaria, notes, "In the 60
years since DDT was first introduced, not a single scientific paper has
been able to replicate even one case of actual human harm from its use."
In a similar way, Driessen points out how the environmental movement's
rejection of genetically modified food crops, biotechnology, promises only
more famine worldwide. "The fact that a quarter of the developing world's
children under age ten are malnourished is of little apparent concern to
them," says Driessen and he's right. They would rather see millions of
Africans, Asians and others die than permit this remarkable advance in
food production to succeed.
In this and many other ways Driessen documents in his book, it is clear
that the environmental movement is the greatest threat to the Earth's
population and to any hope that developing nations have of ever breaking
through the imposition of restrictions said to represent "sustainable"
The only thing being sustained is the power of the environmental movement
to impose death on the peoples of those nations and the poverty that
arises from its loathing of capitalism and the technological advances that
Right now much of our attention is focused on the war that a relative
handful of fanatical Islamists are waging on the world to drag it back to
a dark ages of a seventh century religion. However, the larger war being
waged is that of the environmental movement to keep much of the world's
population without electricity, without clean water, without sufficient
food, without the opportunity to conquer disease, or to achieve the wealth
and prosperity of the West.
To learn more about this remarkable book, visit eco-imperialism.com.
Published by Merril Press, ($15.00), I promise that you will come at last
to understand why the environmental movement is engaged in the most
appalling example of genocide the world has ever known!
Is a Green Plant in Your Manufacturing Future?
Plant-Made Biopharmaceuticals Are Biotech's Next Wave
After many starts and stops, hype and disappointment, foreign protein
expression in plants is now routine and biopharmaceuticals produced in
green plants will soon be with us. Plants have been part of medicine for
thousands of years and pharmaceuticals still rely heavily on plant-based
materials: more than half of our pharmacopoeia is extracted from plants or
related to plant compounds ...