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July 30, 2004


Safely Feeding the Hungry; The Green Gene Revolution; China GM Rice; Biggest Pest of Al; Face of the Anti-biotech Movement


Today in AgBioView from www.agbioworld.org: July 30, 2004

* Safely Feeding the Hungry
* The Green Gene Revolution
* China May Approve Biotech Rice In One to Two Years
* Consumer Acceptance of GM Food Products
* Bambawale et al Bt Cotton study in Current Science
* The Biggest Pest of All
* Back to the Future of Cereals
* Top Six Technological Advances of the Past 50 Years
* Biotech Training For High School Teachers In Kenya
* The Face of the Anti-biotech Movement


Safely Feeding the Hungry

- Editorial, The Washington Times, July 30, 2004, www.washingtontimes.com

Greens and others of like mind repeatedly raised phantom fears about the safety of genetically-engineered (GE) foods, even when it meant pulling food from the mouths of malnourished babes. While it will not stop the scaremongering, a recently published report from the National Research Council (NRC) and Institute of Medicine Academy adds much needed perspective.

Researchers, charged with assessing the health risks of genetically-modified foods, properly began by declaring that conventional breeding and genetic modification are variations on the same theme. "Hazards associated with genetic modifications, specifically genetic engineering, do not fit into a simple dichotomy of genetic engineering versus nongenetic engineering breeding. Not only are many mechanisms common to both . . . but also those techniques slightly overlap each other," the report said. There are good grounds for that statement, since regardless of where they come from, plant genes are made of the same stuff -- DNA -- and produce similar protein end-products.

Genetic engineering can introduce novel substances, which can cause unexpected, unhealthy effects, but so can conventional breeding. As the brief of the report declared, "Any technique, including genetic engineering, carries the potential to result in unintended changes in the composition of the food." Since all foods contain potentially harmful substances, researchers recommended that safety assessments be done on a "case-by-case" basis.

Any such assessments should not be roadblocks to sating hungry children. A few days ago on the opposite page, Lauren Bush, an honorary spokesperson for WarOnHunger.org, reminded us that many children in Guatemala suffer malnourishment and, "the ravages of hunger are even more devastating in dozens of African countries, and in Afghanistan and North Korea."

Some of that hunger has been inflicted by fears of GE foods. Even though nearly half of Angola's children are malnourished, earlier this year its government banned imports of GE foods, which stopped a shipment of 19,000 tons of U.S. corn from arriving. During a drought last year, Zambia rejected GE food, out of fear that it could lose its trade with Europe if traces of the modifications were found in its agricultural exports.

No hungry child should be denied a mouthful of food, regardless of what the genes of the plant that it came from look like.


The Green Gene Revolution

- Editorial, Scientific American; August 2004, Vol. 291, Issue 2, p8, 1p

As millions of people in Zambia and Zimbabwe faced famine in 2002, their governments rejected corn donated by the United Nations, calling it "poison" because it contained some genetically modified kernels. Similar scorn sounded this past June outside a Biotechnology Industry Organization meeting in San Francisco. There protesters blockaded the street, shouting predictions that GM crops would devastate human health, the environment and the welfare of small farmers.

Yet only a month earlier the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)--traditionally a champion of the small farmer--had concluded that the ongoing "war of rhetoric" about agricultural biotechnology may pose a greater threat than the technology itself does. In its refreshingly apolitical report, State of Food and Agriculture 2003-2004, the FAO assessed a growing body of scientific and economic data on GM crops.

One of the worst things about GM crops, the FAO argued, is that too few farmers are planting them. The science, it determined, says overwhelmingly that the GM food plants currently on the market pose no risk to human health, although multiple-gene transformations now in development need further study. It also notes that more research should be done on the environmental impact of GM crops but that widespread cultivation of the plants in North and South America has so far led to no environmental catastrophes.

At the same time, the FAO pointed out that the technology's benefits could be huge for farmers in the developing world. When four million small-scale cotton farmers in China switched to planting insect resistant GM cotton, they reaped 20 percent higher yields while using 78,000 tons less pesticide -- and enjoyed a substantial drop in the annual death toll among farm workers from pesticide poisoning.

So why don't more farmers in the developing world adopt GM crops ? One reason is that few are tailored to their needs. Outside China, ag-biotech research is overwhelmingly dominated by corporations, not academic centers, and the companies understandably focus their efforts on crops that deliver big profits in industrial countries, namely, corn, soy, canola and cotton. Unlike the 1960s green revolution, which was for the most part publicly funded and targeted to helping poor farmers, the gene revolution has yet to reach Third World staples such as sorghum and wheat.

European agriculture risks being left out, too, warned another study, issued in May by the European Academies Science Advisory Council. Public mistrust of GM crops has cast a pall over any plant science with the word "genetic" in its description, and state funding for agricultural research has been anemic for years. As a result, even the basic genomic studies that could improve crop traits through traditional breeding [see "Back to the Future of Cereals," by Stephen A. Goff and John M. Salmeron, on page 42; See below...CSP] are increasingly left to corporate curiosity. But facing a political climate that is generally hostile to ag-biotech, companies have grown pessimistic about their commercial future in Europe and have begun moving their plant biotechnology divisions elsewhere.

Around the world, nations cannot keep ceding ag-biotech research to big business and then complaining that corporations control it. Serious public investment by industrial countries -- both at home and in the developing world, to help scientists there build their own research infrastructures -- could serve both commercial and humanitarian ends.

It's time to call an armistice in the war of words over ag-biotech.


China May Approve Biotech Rice In 1-2 Yrs - Analyst

- Charles Abbott, Reuters News, July 29, 2004

China was likely to approve the planting of biotech rice in the next year or two, potentially starting a global stampede for genetically modified crops, including wheat, the author of a report on Chinese agriculture said on Thursday.

Commercial versions of rice and wheat are not on the market, although research was under way in a number of countries. Biotech varieties of corn, cotton and soybeans are popular in the United States, but have met resistance in some areas such as Europe. Monsanto Co. - (MON.N), a U.S. biotech pioneer, said in May it would not introduce the world's first biotech wheat because of widespread opposition to tinkering with a key food crop.

Scott Rozelle, an agricultural economist at the University of California-Davis who focuses on China's farm sector, said China was in the fifth year of field trials of biotech rice. "We're fairly confident that, within one or two years, they will" commercialize insect-resistant rice, Rozelle said at a presentation sponsored by the International Institute on Economics.

Rozelle wrote a policy analysis on Chinese agriculture for the institute with Dan Rosen, a consultant on Asian economic development, and Jikun Huang, an economics professor in China. "Almost certainly," China will follow gene-altered rice with the release of biotech wheat and corn, said Rozelle.

Biotech crops typically have a special gene inserted to help a growing plant fight destructive insects, or to tolerate a herbicide product known as Roundup. In May, the head of the International Rice Research Institute said it would be three to five years before the first biotech rice crop was grown. China, India and the Philippines were running field tests, he said.

India also was conducting field trials of biotech mustard, potato and cauliflower. It approved transgenic cotton in 2002. Chinese adoption of GMO rice and other crops could prompt other countries to approve biotech varieties as well to remain competitive with varieties credited with a 20 percent increase in productivity. "This is another way China is going to have a big impact on world trade," said Rozelle.

In their policy analysis, "Roots of Competitiveness: China's Evolving Agriculture Interests," Rosen, Rozelle and Huang said most of China's 250 million farm families would benefit from freer world trade in agriculture. Because of that, China could support smaller farm subsidies and removal of trade barriers during ongoing world trade talks, said Rosen.

About 20 million Chinese farm families, mostly inland growers of corn, cotton and soybeans, would suffer an overall 7 percent loss in income from freer trade, the report said. Trade rules give China enough latitude to make up the loss through direct aid or other steps.


Consumer Acceptance of Genetically Modified Food Products

- Cheryl J. Wachenheim, AgBiotchNet, August 2004 http://www.agbiotechnet.com/

Abstract: Acceptance of genetically modified food products is considered. Revealed is that consumers are not well informed about food production processes in general and about biotechnology applications in agriculture in particular, although they perceive themselves to be more well informed than is demonstrated. There is some resistance to the practices and products of biotechnology but such depends on how the applications or the results of such are described. Resulting consumers' perceptions about the benefits and risks are particularly important.

Risks associated with biotechnology that are perceived as involuntary can be especially troublesome to consumers, thus providing support to the value of labelling of products either through a mandatory or voluntary strategy. Providing information about biotechnology and, in particular, the benefits of such, either in general terms or as applicable to specific products, can increase acceptance and willingness to pay, at least as tested among Americans. There is also evidence of market segments more accepting of the products of biotechnology. Firms and other marketing channel participants may therefore focus on benefits of importance to unique market segments in both new product development and in marketing existing and new products. Indeed, more research is needed, especially identification of to whom and under what conditions are genetically modified products acceptable, however measured.


Comments on the Bambawale et Bt study in Current Science

-- Drew L. Kershen, Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law, University of Oklahoma College of Law

Thanks to Shanthu Shantharam for describing the Bambawale et al study on the performance of Bt cotton in India. Shantharam’s comments provided descriptive information but did not give precise figures on how much the Bt cotton improved yields and net returns. I read the Bambawale report to see if the report gave this information. Table 6 p. 1632 provided the information but did not give percentage improvements in yields and net returns. Hence, I did the figures.

Using Table 6 information, the yield increased as follows: IPM Bt MECH-162 (+28.7%) versus IPM Non-Bt MECH-162; (+ 62.8%) versus IPM CC; and, (+ 234%) versus Non-IPM CC.  Using Table 6 information, the net returns increased as follows: IPM Bt MECH-162 (+ 30.5%) versus IPM Non-Bt MECH-162; (+54.5%) versus IPM CC; and, (+1619% ) versus Non-IPM CC. These yield increases and net return increases favoring the Bt cotton are very impressive.


The Biggest Pest of All

- Henry I. Miller, Regulation, Summer 2004, #13

'The USDA's plan ensures, yet again, that it will get wrong what it is trying to regulate'.

The U. S. Department of Agriculture's biotechnology regulations have been a shambles for more than 15 years. Its compulsory case-by-case review, costly field test design, and other requirements have made gene-spliced plants disproportionately -- and unnecessarily -- expensive to develop and test. A field trial with a gene-spliced plant may be 10–20 times more expensive than the same experiment performed with a plant that has identical traits but that was modified with less precise genetic techniques.

The USDA's approach to biotechnology regulation is internally inconsistent and contradicts official federal policy (developed during the previous Bush administration with the explicit concurrence of USDA), which stipulates that oversight of biotechnology products should be "risk-based," "scientifically sound," and focused on "the characteristics of the biotechnology product and the environment into which it is being introduced, not the process by which the product is created."

The USDA has crafted exactly the opposite: regulation that arguably has an inverse relationship to risk and is triggered by the use of gene-splicing techniques. USDA regulators announced last January 23 that they plan to revise their approach to oversight of gene-spliced plants. Is that good news? Not really. Their plan ensures that they will get the scope of what they regulate wrong yet again, and that they will spend years and tens of millions of dollars on a gratuitous environmental impact statement.

Better Approach - The USDA's strategy is unconscionable, an example of a flawed, unnecessarily complex government solution to a problem that regulators created in the first place. Ironically, a scientifically sound and risk-based regulatory approach, grounded on the well-established model of the USDA's own plant quarantine regulations, has already been proposed by several academics, including this author. Almost a decade ago, the Stanford University Project on Regulation of Agricultural Introductions began work on a widely applicable regulatory model for the field-testing of any organism, whatever the method or methods employed in its construction. It is patterned after national quarantine systems, including the long-standing USDA Plant Pest Act regulations, the approach of which is essentially binary: A plant that a researcher might wish to introduce into the field is either on the proscribed list of plants pests -- and therefore requires a permit -- or is exempt.

The more quantitative and nuanced "Stanford Model" is based on the ability of experts to stratify organisms into several risk categories. It closely resembles the approach described in the federal government's handbook Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories, which specifies the procedures and physical containment that are appropriate for research with various microorganisms, including the most dangerous pathogens known. The microorganisms were stratified into risk categories by panels of scientists. Interestingly, and in contrast to the USDA's approach to gene-spliced organisms, the handbook does not -- even for the most dangerous pathogens -- dictate mandatory requirements, but only offers guidance to researchers.

Evaluation - The Stanford Model was validated in a proof-of-principle project in 1997. (That demonstration applied only to plants, but the model can be readily applied to accommodate other kinds of organisms, as well as regional and local preferences for greater or less stringent regulation.) The project assembled a group of approximately 20 agricultural scientists from five nations at a workshop held at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Bańos, Philippines. The goal was to develop a risk-based, scientifically defensible approach that would evaluate all biological introductions, not just those that involved gene-spliced organisms. The need for such a broad approach was self-evident: There was already abundant evidence that severe ecological risks can be associated with plant pests and "exotic," or non-coevolved, organisms. As part of the pilot project, the IRRI conference participants evaluated and then, based on certain risk-related traits, stratified a variety of crops into risk categories. Such traits included the ability to colonize, ecological relationships, effects on human health, potential for genetic change, and ease or difficulty of risk management. Consensus was reached without difficulty, suggesting that it would be similarly possible to categorize other organisms as well.

Each of the organisms evaluated during the conference was assessed for all five factors, which enabled the group to come to unanimous agreement about the organism's risk category. Most of the common crop plants addressed were found to be of negligible risk, while a few were judged to be of low but non-negligible risk. One plant (cotton) was judged to be of negligible risk if it were field tested outside its historical center of origin, but of low (but not negligible) risk if tested in the vicinity of its center of origin.

In the evolution of this Stanford Model, the factors taken into account were indifferent to any genetic modification techniques employed, or to the source(s) of the introduced genetic material. The participants agreed that the use of conventional breeding techniques or gene-splicing methods to modify an organism was irrelevant to risk. They also agreed that whether DNAs were combined from distantly related organisms -- that is, organisms from different genera, families, orders, classes, phyla, or kingdoms --was irrelevant to the risk of an organism.

In other words, the group's analysis supported the consensus view of the wider scientific community that the risks associated with field-testing a genetically altered organism are independent of the process by which it was modified and the movement of genetic material between "unrelated" organisms. The Stanford Model proves the utility and practicality of an approach in which the degree of regulatory scrutiny over field trials is commensurate with the risks -- independent of whether the organisms introduced are "natural," "exotic," or have been genetically improved by conventional methods or gene-splicing techniques.

Operation - What are the practical implications of an organism being assigned to a given "risk category"? The level of regulatory oversight faced by a field trial investigator could include complete exemption, a simple "postcard notification" to a regulatory authority (without affirmative prior approval required), case-bycase review and required assent by regulators, or even prohibition (as is the current case of experiments with the Foot and Mouth Disease virus in the continental United States).

A key feature of the Stanford Model is that it is sufficiently flexible to accommodate differences in regulatory authorities' preferences for greater or lesser regulatory stringency. Various national regulatory authorities can choose the level of risk-aversion that best suits them by selecting different regulatory requirements that correspond to the various risk categories, some leaning more toward exemption and notification, others toward case-by-case review. However, as long as regulatory requirements match the relative risk of each category and do not discriminate by treating organisms of equivalent risk differently, the regulatory methodology will make scientific (and common) sense.

This regulatory model makes it possible to perform accurate, scientific determinations of the risks posed by the introduction of an organism into the field — and to match regulatory requirements to those risks. Consequently, it fosters enhanced agricultural productivity and innovation while protecting valuable ecosystems. It offers regulatory bodies a highly adaptable, scientific paradigm for the oversight of plants, microorganisms, and other organisms, whether they are "naturally occurring," non-indigenous, or have been genetically improved by either old or new techniques.

Under such a system, some currently unregulated introductions of traditionally bred cultivars and exotic organisms considered to be of moderate or greater risk would likely become subject to regulatory review, whereas many gene-spliced organisms that now require case-by-case review would likely be regulated less stringently. The introduction of such a risk-based system would streamline the regulation of field trials and would reduce the regulatory disincentives to the use of gene-splicing techniques that currently exist.

The Stanford model is ready to roll. But the USDA's roadmap makes it clear that regulators intend to continue to single out gene-splicing for discriminatory regulation. When it comes to regulatory reform, the USDA cannot seem to find the on ramp. The feds who regulate plant pests are still the biggest pests of all.

Henry I. Miller, a doctor and molecular biologist, is a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. His latest book, 'The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution', will be published later this year by Praeger Publishers. He headed the FDA's Office of Biotechnology from 1989 to 1993.


Back to the Future of Cereals

- Stephen A Goff and John Salmeron, Scientific American; Aug 2004, Vol. 291 Issue 2, p42, 7p.

Genomic studies of the world's major grain crops, together with a technology called marker-assisted breeding, could yield a new green revolution

For thousands of years, farmers have surveyed their fields and eyed the sky, hoping for good weather and a bumper crop. And when they found particular plants that fared well even in bad weather, were especially prolific, or resisted disease that destroyed neighboring crops, they naturally tried to capture those desirable traits by crossbreeding them into other plants. But it has always been a game of hit or miss. Unable to look inside the plants and know exactly what was producing their favorable characteristics, one could only mix and match plants and hope for the best.

Despite the method's inherent randomness, it has worked remarkably well. When our hunter-gatherer ancestors started settling down some 10,000 years ago, their development of agriculture allowed human society to undergo a population explosion. It is still expanding, demanding continual increases in agricultural productivity.

Yet 99 percent of today's agricultural production depends on only 24 different domesticated plant species. Of those, rice, wheat and corn account for most of the world's caloric intake. Each of these three extremely important cereals is already produced in amounts exceeding half a billion tons every year. To keep pace with a global population projected to reach nine billion by 2050, while maintaining our present average daily consumption of between 0.9 and 3.3 pounds of these grains per person, cereal crops will have to yield 1.5 percent more food every year and on a diminishing supply of cultivated land.

Plant scientists believe that crop yields have not yet reached their theoretical maximum, but finding ways to achieve that potential increase and to push the yield frontier still further is an ongoing international effort. Encouragingly, a new set of tools is revealing that some of the answers may be found by exploring the origins of the three major cereal crops.

Molecular and genetic studies are showing that wheat, rice and corn, as well as barley, millet, sorghum and other grasses, are far more interrelated than was once thought, so fresh insights into any one of these crop species can help improve the others. Further, many of these improvements may come from tapping the genetic wealth of our crops' wild ancestors by breeding useful traits back into the modern varieties.

Although the cereal crops are descendants of a common ancestral grass, they diverged from one another some 50 million to 70 million years ago, coming to inhabit geographically distinct regions of the world. Beginning around 10,000 years ago, farmers in the Mediterranean's Fertile Crescent are believed to have first domesticated wheat, and perhaps 1,000 years later, in what is now Mexico, farmers began cultivating an ancestor of modern-day corn. The ancient Chinese domesticated rice more than 8,000 years ago.

As our ancestors domesticated these plants, they were creating the crops we know now through a process very much like modern plant breeding. From the wild varieties, they selectively propagated and crossbred individual plants possessing desirable traits, such as bigger grains or larger numbers of grains. Plants that did not disperse their seeds were appealing, because harvesting their grain was easier, although this characteristic made a plant's propagation dependent on humans. Early cultivators also selected plants for their nutritional qualities, such as seeds with thin coats that could be eaten easily and maize varieties whose starch consistency best lent itself to making tortillas. In this way, crop plants became increasingly distinct from their progenitors and eventually rarely crossed with their wild versions. Corn became so dissimilar to its ancestor, teosinte, that its origin was commonly disputed until very recently.

This human modification of cereal plants through selective propagation and crossbreeding begun during prehistoric times has never stopped. Over the past century, crops have been selected for larger seed-bearing heads to increase their yields. These higher-yielding seed heads are heavy, so shorter plant heights were also bred into rice and wheat to prevent the plants from being bent to the ground by wind. Breeding for disease resistance, environmental stress tolerance and more efficient utilization of nitrogen fertilizers dramatically increased yields and their consistency, producing the green revolution of the 1960s. Corn's average yield per acre in the U.S., for example, has risen by nearly 400 percent since 1950.


Top Six Technological Advances of the Past 50 Years

- Rich Adams, Cheboygan Daily Tribune, July 30, 2004 http://www.cheboygannews.com/articles/2004/07/30/news/opinion/opinion2.txt

Here's how author Paul Boutin rated them:

6: Organ transplants. In 1954, Dr. Joseph Murray transplanted a kidney in identical twins. It worked. Today almost any organ can be transplanted from one to another.

5: Robots and artificial intelligence. The first industrial robot was built in 1954 by George Devol. Today you can find robots in lots of industrial settings. Computers can even be considered robots of sort because they take on tasks humans used to do.

4. Nuclear power. The Calder Hall plant in northern England was opened in 1956. Today about 100 nuke plants in the United States account for 20 percent of the nation's electricity.

3. Space flight. Americans from 50 years ago thought the sky was the limit, figuratively speaking. Unfortunately, manned flight never got past the moon. And now even the space shuttle program is iffy. At least we're considering a return to lunar exploration.

2. Genetic engineering. Everyone knows Watson and Crick, who unraveled the secret of DNA in 1953. Since then scientists have been messing with genetics. Today 70 percent of processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients, such as soybeans or corn engineered for higher crop yields.

1. The Internet. The government began contemplating scientific advances in computers in the mid-1950s when the Soviet Union put Sputnik in orbit. The idea for the Internet first surfaced in August of 1962 when J.C.R. Licklider of MIT discussed a "Galactic Network." As a result, this column was written on a computer with much help from the Internet.


The Face of the Anti-biotech Movement

- Harry Cline, Western Farm Press, July 30, 2004 http://westernfarmpress.com/news/7-30-04-anti-biotech/

FRESNO, Calif. -- My apology up front for the length of this commentary. It is longer than usual and will jump to another page. The reason is I received a series of disturbing e-mails from a man who represents a segment of a so-called environmental activist group attempting to ban biotechnology from California agriculture. The e-mails are worth reading if California agriculture is to understand the challenge it faces in turning back this emerging statewide biotech ban battle.

The Mendocino County resident is part of the group that successfully passed an anti-Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) initiative last spring in Mendocino County and is backing similar initiatives that will appear on the November ballot in several other counties. There is an article in this issue about that effort.

It was a bitter and hateful Mendocino County campaign waged by the elements of the anti-biotech campaign against those who opposed what was called Measure H. Political consultants hired by agriculture to manage the opposition to Measure H said it was an unusually vicious campaign. It was so vile the president of one agricultural organization cut his vacation short because his staff was fearful for their safety in the organization’s office because of the hate mail they had received from those supporting the Mendocino County initiative.

California is infamous for its initiative process where anyone can get just about anything on a city, county or statewide ballot to create laws city councils, board of supervisors or the state legislature will not. Initiative debates are often heated and factually distorted. However, seldom have they been as acrimonious as the one in Mendocino County.

Some of the people behind Measure H -- which has been called by the anti-biotech group "The H Bomb" -- have been linked to destruction of student crops at UC Davis several years ago in a failed attempt to destroy biotech crops. They have been compared to PETA, the animal rights group with a reputation for violence. I believe it from the e-mails I received.

One comment before the e-mails. I interviewed Doug Mosel, a leader of the Mendocino County measure who will be playing a key role in the other initiatives. The man who wrote the following e-mails copied Mosel, who fervently and without hesitation apologized for the e-mails. He called them personal, inappropriate diatribes.

In interviewing Mosel, it was obvious he is sadly ill informed about agricultural biotechnology. While passionate and argumentative about his cause, however, he was courteous and respectful of people of differing opinions. He knows the e-mail writer, Jack Hayward II, as a fellow Mendocino County resident who joined the anti-biotech effort late in the campaign. However, Mosel said he does not represent the proponents of the anti-biotech movement. Nevertheless, he is part of the movement and that is troubling.

Let me set the stage for the e-mails. I attended a grape field day in Madera County where UCCE farm advisor George Leavitt commented about biotechnology research in Australia that may genetically improve the powdery mildew resistance in varietals highly susceptible to powdery mildew. However, Leavitt said getting such technology into California would be impossible if the anti-biotechnology group succeeded in its statewide effort to ban plants that had been genetically modified.

I wrote a small article that first appeared on the Farm Press Web site and Farm Press Daily. My e-mail address was on both. The article is also in this edition of this Western Farm Press. It was a news article, not a commentary. The following is a series of e-mail exchanges between me and Hayward about the article he read on-line.

First e-mail: "Do you really think that all your money and all your lies are going to stem the tide that is running against the continued untrammeled contamination of the earth by the bio-tech corporations and industry?

Environmental radicals include folks across the political spectrum as you perfectly well know, neighbors, friends, people who are coming to trust one another more and more in face of the cancerous nature of big business in the world today. Don't you people have children or grandchildren? Do you feel good about the world your brainwashed greed will leave them? (signed) Jack Hayward II

My Response: Yes, I have children and grandchildren and I pray for the day when my 16-year-old granddaughter does not have to inject herself with insulin every day because a biotech corporation perfects a way to put insulin in the egg whites of chicken eggs so she can get the daily insulin she needs to stay alive from eating a pair of healthy eggs each morning rather than injecting a needle into her stomach every day. (signed) Harry Cline, Editor, Western Farm Press

Hayward’s Response: "Oh, please, spare me the sanctimony. And don't hide global fascist greed behind your poor granddaughter. Didn't you take simple logic in school? Do none of you industry and corporate people?

What your granddaughter needs can be developed in secure laboratory conditions. In the laboratory, where all such radical experimentation, Dr. Frankenstien (sp.), must take place before corporate and industry interests complete the destruction of agriculture set in motion by the agribusiness and petrochemicals industries.

Biotech is corporate not science, stupid, says a sign I carry at demonstrations. The interests of human kind and the natural world and those of the corporate world are on a devastating collision course. No matter how dogmatically ingrained you are, if you are smart enough to use a word processor, surely you are smart enough to grasp the simple fact that is so apparant (sp.) to millions on millions around the world.

Wake the f… up before you bring it all down!" - Jack Hayward II

My Final Response: You have got to be kidding...your "logic" and thinking would have us still rubbing sticks together to create fire and living in caves. Don't bother sending any more e-mails....they don't serve the effort to hit the delete key.

Mr. Hayward’s final diatribe: "Soon you will be claiming the corporations created fire, that the First Big Corporation, not God, created it all. Some theology. As for deleting, Snoopy, DELETE you and your masters. Down, boy."

I receive a fair share of e-mails from my commentaries and I sincerely appreciate getting them -- agree or disagree with me. However, I have never received anything like Hayward’s e-mails and certainly not from any article I had written.

Unfortunately, agriculture must now confront the mentality expressed by Hayward as they are forced to defend biotechnology in an arena where decency is non-existent. It is such an unnecessary exercise. Biotech crops have undergone unprecedented government, academic and corporate scrutiny. Biotechnology is accepted by agriculture worldwide. The barriers erected by the radicals are coming down.

This exercise is not only ludicrous, but scary if Hayward represents a significant segment of the anti-biotech movement.