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August 25, 2004


Myth of GM Invasion; Potato in S.Africa; Biopharm Field Disclosure; UN Seed Tax Threat; Why Europe Doesn't Like Biotech; Thailand May Overtake Philippines


Today in AgBioView from www.agbioworld.org , August 25, 2004

* Myth of GM Invading Other Crops
* South Africa: GM Potatoes May Benefit Many
* Biopharm Field Disclosure Is Security Issue, Not Safety
* 'UN Seed Tax' - a Threat to US Farms
* Biotech: One Step Forward, Two Back
* Uganda: There are Losses and Gains In Biotech
* Why Europe Doesn't Like Biotech
* Thailand May Overtake Philippines In Biotech Race
* India: ICRISAT to Promote Transgenic Tech
* The Truth About Organic Food

Myth of GM Invading Other Crops

- Andrew Lake, The Advertiser (Australia), August 21, 2004

I am a plant breeder and geneticist of more than 25 years' professional standing and experience, both locally and internationally. I stand to gain nothing from genetic modification and, in fact, if it were banned, my company would do very, very well. Hence my views in support of GM technology are in no way coloured by the prospects of personal gain, or gain for my company; quite the opposite.

The "facts" claimed in the letter from M. Scott of Mt Barker (The Advertiser, 14/8/04) about fields being invaded and effectively taken over by GM are a direct regurgitation of the claims originally made by the defendant in the Monsanto v Schmeiser case to which your letter writer refers.

These claims indicating that Schmeiser's fields were taken over by GM canola from pollen blowing in from a neighbour's place are the genetic equivalent of creation theory. They defy all current scientific knowledge of genetics and statistics. Recognising this, the defendant had a very different story for the courts; one which had considerably greater plausibility, but which was still rejected.

However, the original stories about fields being invaded and taken over by GM are now parroted world wide by green groups.

As a concerned scientist and citizen, it thus brings me much grief to see such scientifically unsustainable claims being spread through the community.


South Africa: Genetically Modified Potatoes May Benefit Many

- Pretoria News, August 25, 2004

In reply to the article by Melanie Gosling entitled "Secret tests on GM potatoes to go ahead", we wish to point out that Potatoes South Africa, the representative organisation of South Africa's potato producers, supports the use of modern biotechnology to improve the production of potatoes in South Africa provided it is done in a safe, responsible and ethical manner.

Furthermore, Potatoes South Africa has full confidence in South Africa's GM Act, the manner in which applications are reviewed and evaluated as well as the officials who administer the Act. Potatoes South Africa will not support the production or sale of any genetically modified potato unless it has passed all official and legal requirements for general release. Potatoes South Africa also wishes to point out that no GM potatoes are grown commercially or marketed in the country at present.

Potatoes South Africa is disappointed at the manner in which various activists and activist organisations are attempting to derail the efforts by the Agricultural Research Council and Michigan State University to develop a potato variety that is resistant to tuber moth, a major pest of potatoes in South Africa.

The arguments posed by the activists are largely speculative and misleading and have no foundation in fact. Potatoes South Africa is of the opinion that the development of a GM potato should be allowed to proceed, subject to objective and scientific evaluation as provided for by current legislation.

The cultivation of a tuber moth resistant potato will benefit both the small-scale farmer and the consumer in that it will not only help reduce production costs but will also reduce the need for pesticide applications, resulting in less environmental pollution and lower pesticide residues.

South Africa has a tradition of excellence in genetic plant breeding and is highly regarded in scientific
research at a global level. Together with traditional and conventional techniques, modern biotechnology can help us become more competitive in an ever-more demanding world.

Dr DJ Theron, Chief executive officer, Potatoes South Africa, Pretoria.


Biopharm Field Disclosure Is Security Issue, Not Safety

- Honolulu Advertiser, August 22, 2004 http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2004/Aug/22/op/op25aletters.html

Eloise Engman's Aug. 16 response to Judge David Ezra's ruling requiring the disclosure of research fields for pharmaceutical crops misses the point. This is not an issue of human health and the environment.

Maintaining the confidentiality of the locations of these valuable research plots is about guarding these potentially lifesaving plants from vandalism and securing competitive information. The protection of confidential business information is not unique to biotechnology, but it is vital to any business engaged in new product development.

Hawaii's agricultural biotech industry has a great safety track record. In addition to our own product-safety testing, our industry is overseen by three federal agencies that create a coordinated framework to oversee the management and test the safety of the crops from research to commercialization. The Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency ensure the products that reach commercialization are not only safe for the environment and human hea>lth, but they also regulate the testing, some of which occurs in Hawaii, to ensure that the crops are contained.

Our beautiful island environment is safe. While large amounts of land may be used for seed research, the actual test plots for plant-made pharmaceuticals are extremely small and are surrounded by wide buffer zones.

In addition, the research and commercial crops grown here, mainly corn, soybeans and sunflower, do not have plant relatives in Hawaii, making it impossible for them to pollinate or breed with any Hawaiian plant life.

Public disclosure of test field locations could significantly interrupt research and delay the development of innovative treatments for patients with a wide variety of diseases. For millions of people, plants that produce therapeutic proteins may be their only chance for treatment.

This is not a safety issue. It is a business security issue.

- Rick Klemm, Executive director, HARTS Hawai'i


UN Seed Tax a Threat to US Farms

- Dave Wood, AgBioView, August 25, 2004, www.agbioworld.org ; Genetic Resource Policy Analyst

On June 29th this year, the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources entered into force under the auspices of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. This Treaty is a threat to US agriculture and will reduce the international competitiveness of US farming.

The Treaty sets up rules for access and benefit sharing for millions of crop samples conserved in national and international genebanks. These seeds, mainly of farmers’ varieties, have been and will be essential raw materials for plant breeders. Global food security and a vast international trade depend on advances in plant breeding of crops such as wheat, rice, corn and sorghum, which are covered by the treaty.

In future, the US or any other country or person needing access to seed samples stored by any Treaty member must accept the terms of a standard Material Transfer Agreement. These MTAs set international conditions for the future use of seed samples in plant breeding.

The purpose of each MTA is to generate funding by taxing the use of samples by developed countries such as the US. Taxes will then be applied to a UN crop conservation and development program for any developing country that is a member of the Treaty.

Whether or not the US ratifies, the Treaty disadvantages US agriculture.

Dangers for US agriculture
The first danger for US agriculture is that the trigger for tax generation depends on just which legal system of plant varietal protection is in use by those countries and individuals who obtain samples from the Treaty. For example, many countries, including the US, protect plant varieties under an International Agreement known as UPOV 1991. This will trigger an international tax for the funding mechanism of the new Treaty (under its Article 13.2.d.ii). Whereas varieties protected under UPOV 1978, which does not include a dependency clause, will not be taxed.

This will discriminate against US plant breeders, farmers, and consumers. As the US has signed up to UPOV 1991, US crop breeders will be forced to pay the international tax on new varieties derived from Treaty samples. This could increase domestic food prices, reduce farm income and disadvantage the US in the global export market. In contrast, competitors in the international grain trade, such as Canada, Argentine, and Brazil, will not be taxed, as these countries accept the earlier UPOV 1978. The final cost to US agriculture cannot be calculated, as the level of the international tax has not yet been decided. The US cannot escape this tax when it needs access to samples from the Treaty -- yet major competitors can.

There is similar discrimination for other countries. The United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden must pay the tax, yet Ireland, France, and Norway will not. Australia must pay, New Zealand will not.
The second danger for US agriculture is that the former free exchange of seed between US breeders and breeders in the International Agricultural Research institutes will end soon. These institutes, sponsored by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), hold over 600,000 samples -- the most important resource for plant breeders globally. About 15 percent of these samples were donated by the US Department of Agriculture.

Yet if US breeders wish to obtain duplicates of these US samples or any other samples, the same restrictive MTA is required and the same international tax must be paid if breeders wish to protect varieties developed from the samples.

The Treaty applies mainly to the raw material of genetic resource samples, stored in genebanks. But there is even worse news. The US and other developed countries fund the CGIAR institutes with over one quarter of a billion dollars of taxpayers' money each year. With this support the CGIAR breeders have had enormous success in variety improvement for major food security crops such as rice, wheat, corn, sorghum, chickpea and peanut. Center-improved varieties of these crops have until now been freely available to all, including US crop breeders and farmers. Derivatives of such varieties have added more than a billion dollars a year to the value of US crop production. These varieties, improved with public funding, are also a major resource for global agriculture and once widely regarded as `international public goods’.

Yet the CGIAR plans to place their improved varieties within the new International Treaty. Plant breeders worldwide will have to sign restrictive MTAs to use these valuable varieties, and these MTAs will be everlasting. This is a new form of international tax, more stringent than any form of current intellectual property protection.

Any derivatives of any CGIAR variety with any parental line protected by MTAs will incur a full tax if protected by US Plant Varietal Protection law. As before, US agriculture will suffer penalties in relation to Canada, Brazil and Argentina, whose laws will not trigger taxes.

For the US agricultural biotechnology industry there is a third danger. The Treaty does not tax the use of Bt and herbicide-resistant genes sourced from bacteria (which are not included in the Treaty). However, inserting these resistances and anything else through biotechnological manipulation into varieties that are in any way covered by restrictive MTAs will incur a full liability to pay an international tax. MTAs can be expected to spread like viruses throughout major crops, first on parental material, then on almost every variety.

What to do
Firstly, the US must use its financial and diplomatic muscle to keep the CGIAR out of the Treaty. The CGIAR is managed from the World Bank and funded by many countries whose agriculture will be damaged by the planned taxes on derivatives of CGIAR improved varieties and also the raw materials of plant breeding in CGIAR genebanks. Yet the CGIAR involvement with the new Treaty is wholly voluntary – the CGIAR cannot be a party to the Treaty and Treaty rules cannot as yet bind the CGIAR institutes. The CGIAR could pull out in a minute but must do so before a key meeting of the Treaty governing council in November, which will lock the CGIAR varieties into the Treaty forever.

The key to making the Treaty more equitable and less discriminatory for US agriculture is exclusion from the Treaty of the samples and varieties held by CGIAR institutes. To maintain a level playing field for global agriculture, the CGIAR improved varieties must remain a global public good – which has been CGIAR declared policy for the past thirty years.

Secondly, US diplomats should "walk softly and carry a big stick" to their counterparts in Canada. A major and hitherto successful campaign to browbeat the CGIAR into the Treaty has been masterminded by the Canadian NGO RAFI (now hiding behind its new name ETC). A Canadian directed the CGIAR negotiations for entry into the Treaty. A co-founder of RAFI was the main negotiator for the CGIAR. Canadian plant breeders hope to benefit from free access to CGIAR varieties, while US breeders will be taxed. Some assurance will be needed that Canada has not been playing tricks on the US by funding RAFI.

Thirdly, the US should insist that duplicates of all past samples supplied by the US to the CGIAR genebanks and breeders should be available forever to US breeders without restrictive MTAs, as now required.

Finally, US agriculture is heavily dependent on access to genetic resources internationally. Ninety-six percent of US crop production is from introduced crops. To assure genetic resources for the future, the US should now stockpile and safeguard all past samples and varieties sourced from the CGIAR. This stockpile will be needed in case the CGIAR does not listen to reason and instead proceeds with a deeply divisive taxation policy on international collections entrusted to it over the past 35 years.


Biotech: One Step Forward, Two Back

- Greg Lamp, Corn & Soybean Digest, August 1, 2004, Primedia Business

What was heralded as a turning point for accepting biotech crops in the European Union (EU), now almost appears to be a farce. When the EU decided to allow imports of Syngenta's biotech Bt-11 sweet corn last spring, many breathed a sigh of relief. It was the first biotech approval in six years. Was the EU finally making strides to end its five-year moratorium on approval of new biotech crops?

The U.S. had earlier asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to force the EU to end its ban. The U.S. claims the EU policy violates global trade rules. The EU, of course, claims its not violating any trade laws.

Have we been duped?
Now, with the new Bt-11 sweet corn approval, it appears the EU, indeed, is following the rules. That is, unless you dig deeper. Syngenta submitted the regulatory dossier for Bt-11 sweet corn as food in the EU in Nov. 1998.

According to WTO rules, says Kim Nill, technical issues director for the American Soybean Association, "If the EU approves one new biotech product, they're no longer considered to be blocking biotech's progress. "In this case, they (EU) knew Syngenta wasn't going to actively market sweet corn there," he says.

BT-11 is still being marketed here in the U.S., but very, very little is being exported, says Sarah Hull, Syngenta spokesperson. "It's not a commercially significant event (biotech product) for us in Europe," she adds. "It did not have major financial implications for us - at all."

The fallout, then, is that the EU has as much as two to three more years before they'll have to fully approve another biotech product to remain in compliance with WTO rules, Nill explains. Since the EU approved the sweet corn, it essentially ends the offending action which ends the moratorium. "The farce Bt-11 approval has given them (EU) breathing space," says Nill. "This whole approval issue has taken a step backward. It's a joke."

The EU regulatory system seems to be moving forward at a quicker pace, says Helen Inman, chair of the National Corn Growers Association Biotechnology Working Group and farmer from Bancroft, IA. "But," she says, "we've been frustrated at the slowness of the process and have a long way to go before the moratorium on biotech products is effectively ended."

Currently, there are about 30 genetically engineered products and foods in the pipeline awaiting approval for import into the EU. "Even if they march forward at one every six months, it's just too slow," says Nill. "The products are already outdated in the U.S. by the time they get through the approvals."

What makes the whole approval process even more frustrating is that once products are approved, they have a 10-year shelf life and then need to be renewed. "Since Roundup Ready crops were introduced in 1996, those products are up for renewal in 2006," Nill says.

Fair trade continues to be the issue here. Still, being an optimist, I'd like to think any forward movement is progress. Stay informed and support associations that work to get you a fair shake.
Second Corn Approval

At press time the EU was on its way to approving the second corn event, Monsanto's NK603 for feed and industrial use in the EU. NK603 cannot be marketed until the commission approves the application for food use, which could be delayed until October or November.


There Are Losses and Gains In Biotechnology

- Andrew Muganga Kizito, The Monitor (Uganda), August 23, 2004

In agricultural research, biotechnology has helped to developed modified or improve agricultural crops also called transgenic plant varieties by taking DNA sequences from other organisms and inserting them in economically desired plants. This process which has existed for hundreds of years has gained prominence in 3 crops of corn (maize), cotton and soyabeans.

Scientists have discovered a way of inserting (a gene from) Bacillus thuringensis (Bt), a natural soil microorganism and the most important natural pesticide, into these 3 crops. For example, a gene that kills the corn borer has been inserted in some maize varieties to produce what is called Bt Corn, which does not require application of chemical pesticides. There is also roundup ready maize, which does not require weeding. This means that farmers who plant this corn do not need to apply chemical pesticides.

If you are a cotton farmer, you probably know how much pests and weeds you have to deal with before you harvest a good crop. After spraying cotton, for example and it rained, you have to re-spray, let alone the fact that some pests have developed resistance to pesticides.

The laborers weed poorly too, by covering the grass in order to finish their pieces first and demand for their money. Scientists have developed what they call RoundUp Ready Cotton. This allows you to spray to control all weeds but cotton. By planting this genetically modified cotton, farmers can save money and time in terms of buying pesticides and labor, among others.

On the second front, Africa, including Uganda, has the highest number of staving stomachs due to poor yields attributed to many factors including weather, pests and weeds. What would be wrong one day if our scientists in Serere Agricultural Research Station, say, come up with a variety of millet that can not be eaten by worms? In addition, they discover the gene that makes Olumbugu more drought resistant and put it millet and sorghum, to ensure that even in prolonged dry spells, Ugandans whose staple food is millet have sufficient stocks in their granaries?

For scientists to be able to do this kind of research they need resources in terms of money and time and most importantly regulation to enforce what is called Intellectual Property Protection for Plant Research and Development. The private sector usually provides the former and government the later.

For example, if scientists at Serere, say, came up with drought resistant millet, they need to be protected and given a chance to sell the seed until they recover the money they spent developing the seed. This should be done carefully not to end up with total monopolies in these areas of R&D and requires proper set up and control of patents, performance and policy.

The disadvantages of biotechnology in agricultural research have been mostly worries from especially European consumers who are skeptical of GM products. Some people are allergic to GM foods, just as there are millions allergic to other foods such as nuts, fish, and milk. The solution to these in America is a food inspection and labeling system that people trust. If you do not want to eat GMs do not buy them. Go and pay a dime more for non-GM food.

The second fear has been that the genes might flow by wind or be carried by animals to contaminate nearby plants. The companies that sell GM seed here also provide extension services, which are adhered to by farmers. There is a buffer zone, which is usually maintained by farmers. This might me a limitation for poor farmers on fragmented land in Uganda.

Some people have argued that Bt crops may be poisonous to wildlife including the monarch butterfly. This was because someone published results from a small laboratory trial, which was not replicated under natural conditions, that appeared to indicate that the pollen of genetically modified Bt corn presented a threat to monarch caterpillars. Otherwise if you drive on a highway for a couple of miles, you probably kill more butterflies than Bt Corn for the equivalent hectares.

Scientists are worried that plant-eating insects and weeds will develop resistance to Bt crops leading to the creation of super-bags or weeds that can not be destroyed. But this is normal. Pests always overcoming whatever mechanism we use to control them. Even malaria is now resistant to chroloquine and quinines. And that is why technology has to keep step ahead.

In summary, GM crops will help control pests and weeds. The farmers will spend less time putting their hands on the hoes and wrecking their backs weeding if they adopted zero tillage by planting RoundUp ready crops, this could increase the life expectancy of a the Ugandan farmer if not by a year, at least by a day. The soil will become more fertile since crops are drilled into last harvest stubble. There will be me more conservation of soil moisture and reduction in soil erosion. More Ugandans would get food and therefore fight malnutrition. We should tailor our own biotechnology research to our setting. We should encourage the private sector to invest in agricultural research in Africa by setting up appropriate environment such as agricultural financial institutions and enabling legislature. We should continue to trust in technology which will help ensure a good food supply for the future.


Why Europe Doesn't Like Biotech

- Don Curlee, Monterey County Herald, August 21, 2004

Farmers in California and the researchers who serve them by exploring new and better ways of producing food, fiber and floral crops have embraced genetic engineering and the biotech concept to a much greater degree than their European counterparts.

Because the same approach is true for farmers and researchers in the corn and soybean regions of mid-America, the biotech revolution has a distinctly red, white and blue appearance. And that has a certain irritation value for Europeans.

Two agriculture and resource economics researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have explored the European reluctance to accept biotech applications to agriculture. They found that it originates more with the suppliers of conventional agricultural chemicals than with consumers.

That will probably surprise American consumers and environmentalists who have resisted the biotech movement in agriculture, thinking the opposition to it in Europe must have widely appealing logic. Biotech research and the advancements it has produced were recognized early by the European manufacturers of agricultural chemicals, but their commitment to established research parameters handicapped them from running strong in the biotech derby.

The corporate suspicions of biotech have received wide coverage in European markets, influencing consumer attitudes. But researchers Gregory Graff and David Zilberman conclude that "the European rejection of agricultural biotechnologies cannot be explained as simply a case of consumer preferences; it also reflects the self-interests of the European agricultural inputs industry and farmers."

The European farm community is substantially more beholden to their governments than U. S. producers are, mostly because European farmers are so highly subsidized by their governments. European farmers can't afford to buck the trend set by government, in turn influenced by agricultural chemical lobbying.

But Graff and Zilberman say that European consumers and perhaps even the chemical companies will have to fall in behind the biotech revolution when conclusive proof is offered that biotech products significantly enhance consumer well-being while helping the environment -- a day that seems to be approaching rapidly.

The widespread acceptance of biotech by major agricultural producers such as China, India and Brazil will exert continuing pressure on European attitudes. Even if biotech were to stumble, allowing alternative technologies to surge ahead, the Berkeley researchers expect the new knowledge and tools of molecular biology to continue to be decisive in the future of world agriculture.


Thailand May Overtake Philippines In Biotech Race

- Manila Standard, 24 August 2004

Thailand has lifted a three-year ban on planting genetically modified organisms by allowing the crops to grow in open-field trials with non-GMO plants, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Saturday. Thailand is set to join other Asian leaders in the modern agricultural biotechnology following the lifting of a three-year ban on the planting of GMOs in that country, a move which may place the Philippines in the "laggard" category.

Benigno Peczon, a scientist and a holder of a PhD from Purdue University, aired the warning, saying the apparent lack of resolve by the local agriculture sector to address the issue of food security and sufficiency may hamper the growth of the application of modern technologies in food production.

The Philippines made headway in December 2002 by being the first country in Asia to allow the propagation of GM corn, a biotechnologically processed food crop. Peczon cited the "firm stand of the Thai government regarding the application of biotechnology in their food production sector."

In a radio interview, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said, "If we (Thailand) don't start now, we will miss this scientific train and lose out in the world." "We are technologically capable of developing GMOs," Shinawatra said. His statement followed an order allowing GMO crops to be grown in open-field trials with non-GMO crops. The decision spelled a head-on collision with anti-GMO activists.

Peczon said the Philippines "cannot afford to ignore the growing support for biotechnology from various Asian governments." China, India and Indonesia have earlier supported the expansion of the use of modern agricultural biotechnology. Peczon noted, however, that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has already pushed for the domestic propagation of corn varieties developed through the biotechnology process. The pest-resistant varieties have proven to be able to increase farm production and farmer revenues while decreasing the use of toxic chemical pesticides.

Peczon said the government "must now examine its own position on the use of modern agricultural technology, particularly biotechnology." It must aggressively push for greater domestic use of the technology if the country intends to develop the capability to feed its exploding population, he said.

He said agriculture officials "must adopt the Shinawatra approach in dealing with anti-GMO groups." The implementation of food security policies must not depend on the intensity of the propaganda by these groups, but on the realities hounding the food production sector, he added.

He lauded the move by the Thai government, saying this will "send positive signals across Asia, and encourage other governments to adopt a more solid stand in the battle against hunger and poverty with use of modern technologies."


ICRISAT to Promote Transgenic Tech

- Ashok B Sharma, Financial Express (India), August 23, 2004 http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=66656

NEW DELHI, AUG 22: The inter-governmental research body, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), has become proactive in promoting transgenic technology in India. The main agenda of ICRISAT in this connection is to generate awareness among the mediapersons about the possible benefits of the transgenic technology.

ICRISAT has recently in collaboration with the US-based International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) has launched a ‘knowledge centre’ in India. This ‘knowledge centre’ will be housed in ICRISAT’s liaison office in Delhi and will become operative from mid-September, this year.

ICRISAT has also signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre of India (AMIC-India) for jointly conducting a series of workshops for training mediapersons in their reportage on modern biotechnology. A three-day media seminar-cum-workshop has been planned from October 11, this year. ISAAA and UNESCO are the co-sponsors of the event. The seminar will focus on reporting on agricultural science through face-to-face interactions and online programmes.

Several such workshops will be planned in other Asian countries as well. The speakers at the media workshop includes several scientists working in multinational companies and public sector research institutes and government officials. It may be recalled in context that ICRISAT is busy developing a range of transgenic crops suitable for cultivation in drought prone area. The ICRISAT varieties of transgenic groundnut and chickpea are in various stages of clinical trials. ICRISAT is the only organisation of the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) to be headquartered in India ie in Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh.

ICRISAT director-general Dr William D Dar said "the MoA with AMIC-India is a significant milestone for ICRISAT. It will help the institute link its scientific excellence to the media communication strength of AMIC-India. Through this partnership we hope to link to specialist media practioners in Asia".

Mr Vijay Menon of AMIC-India said "the MoA gives AMIC-India to strengthen its understanding on agri-biotechnology. The challenge for both our institutions is to communicate the challenges and opportunities that agri-biotechnology offers."

ICRISAT with its core strength in scientific research will provide technical expertise in science while AMIC-India will share its media network and expertise in science reporting and journalism. The two organisations will also identify and contact funding agencies to support this initiative. Although this MoA is between ICRISAT and AMIC-India, it is hoped that it will be the building block for future collaboration between ICRISAT and the the AMIC headquarters in Singapore for other related projects, said Mr Menon.


The Truth About Organic Food: Rutgers Food Scientist Organizes National Meeting Symposium

- Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey August 23, 2004

Rutgers food scientist Joseph D. Rosen asks, "Is organic food healthier than conventional food?" - the title of a day-long symposium targeting consumer health and economics he has organized for the 228th American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting in Philadelphia on Monday, Aug. 23.

"The truth is out there," says Rosen, a professor of food science at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, borrowing from "The X-Files." While many Americans believe that organic food is healthier than conventional fare, the scientific evidence does not necessarily support that belief, Rosen contends.

"Because of genuine concerns about health and the environment, consumers are drawn to the organic food movement and are spending unnecessary dollars on wishful thinking – dollars that some might not be able to afford," said Rosen. "Seemingly authoritative sources such as Consumer Reports have encouraged this behavior with erroneous pronouncements that may not be in the best interest of their readers."

Rosen is bringing together a dozen experts from across the nation to critically examine the scientific basis for this growing consumer trend that has spawned an international growth industry. The speakers will address myths and misconceptions about pesticides, preservatives and other chemicals, as well as irradiation, organic farming and nutrition.

Detailed symposium agendas with links to individual abstracts can be found at: