Home Page Link AgBioWorld Home Page
About AgBioWorld Donations Ag-Biotech News Declaration Supporting Agricultural Biotechnology Ag-biotech Info Experts on Agricultural Biotechnology Contact Links Subscribe to AgBioView Home Page

AgBioView Archives

A daily collection of news and commentaries on

Subscribe AgBioView Subscribe

Search AgBioWorld Search

AgBioView Archives





May 24, 2000


Fishy fruit, Trade matters and cartoons


Date: May 25 2000 04:33:34 EDT
From: "Michael Fumento"
Subject: Fishy Fruit

I found this, unfortunately it doesn't say WHAT "related article" it's
from. But you could contact DNAP.

Copyright 2000 Sussex Publishers, Inc.
Mother Earth News
April 1, 2000

SECTION: Pg. 54 ; ISSN: 0027-1535
BYLINE: Lamb, Marguerite; Martin, Sam; Mather, Mort; Scanlon, Matt;
Seeber, Michael

BODY: Will genetically modified crops save us or sink us?


Perhaps no GMO story has raised more eyebrows than the fish gene in
the tomato story. Who hasn't been warned of (and repulsed at the thought
of) fruit that will stare up at us from our plates? Yet Dan Verakis,
spokesman for seed giant Monsanto, calls the story a "myth," insisting
that "fish genes in tomatoes just don't exist."

It is these kinds of fish stories, says Verakis, that "fuel the
uncertainty" surrounding GMOs. The fact, he says, is that all of
Monsanto's products--on the market and in development--use "naturally
occurring genes from other plants or, in the case of the insect-resistant
products, a gene from Bt." Verakis also says that he knows of no other
companies currently working to move animal genes into produce.

But Jane Rissler of the Union of Concerned Scientists says otherwise:
"The fact is, it has been done ... DNAP [DNA Plant Technology of Oakland,
California] was the company that put the fish gene in a tomato." Rissler
acknowledges that the experiment was halted before any products were
brought to market, but, she insists, "that is because of the uproar.
Believe me, they would be doing it if people were not objecting to it."

The truth, it seems, lies somewhere in between. According to Scott
Thenell, director of regulatory affairs for DNAP, there was an experiment,
begun and finished four years ago, that involved an attempt to insert a
flounder gene into a tomato to increase the fruit's frost -tolerance.
But the results were so pitiful, the experiment was scrapped in the
earliest phases. "The initial experiments showed insufficient technical
effect to proceed with further experimentation and development," says

Thenell acknowledges that the fish experiment is often raised by
opponents of biotechnology in an attempt to shock consumers. But he
assures, "This was a product concept that was dropped four years ago, is
not under development, nor is it likely to be under development in the
future, since it showed so little
promise. It simply was not worth pursuing."

Date: May 25 2000 05:53:19 EDT
From: Andrew Apel
Subject: Trade Matters

Dear Colleagues,

US seed companies are moving their top-producing maize, soybean and cotton
technology into South America, China and India. Technology collaborations
are afoot in these countries, as well as in Africa and the rest of Asia.

These seed companies, by moving elite germplasm around, some of which is
high-end biotech product which needs far fewer inputs like herbicides and
pesticides, are putting these countries in a position to compete with
North American export markets. Essentially, the seed companies appear to
be taking advantage of markets with low capital for investment in chemical
crop protection, but hungry for additional grain and an improved balance
of trade, at the cost of North American exports.

Nobility of purpose aside, and the fact that activists don't want
developing nations to have access to top-producing germplasm, what are the
implications of this trend?

It is possible that seed companies are gradually abandoning the US market
for seed because of slender margins on sales for domestic production, and
looking to overseas markets where advances in modern genetics can allow
locals to feed themselves, thereby justifying and generating a more
significant margin on sales.

Commodity grain markets worldwide are already badly depressed by
production from the US, Canada and Brazil. I cannot get seed companies or
associations to comment on whether the US should allow the export of elite
germplasm to developing nations, who might turn around and become net
exporters and further depress global grain markets.

I would like to develop an article around this theme. Those who would like
to contribute insights and facts to such an article are kindly invited to
get back to me. Comments with attribution will be most highly prized.

I realize the topic is cynical in the extreme, but I believe it is
relevant. After all, this is business.

Kindest regards,

Andrew Apel, editor
AgBiotech Reporter

Subj: Cartoons
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 2:23:23 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Gordon Couger

I have decide that the best contribution I can make to the cause is
political cartoons. I need pictures of the players in the anti GM debate.
Particulary the head of Greenpeace.

My first effort is at http://www.couger.com/gcouger/gmo/starveorganic.gif
This is model for an ink drawing and is made up of copyrighted pictures.
But I thought I would pass it along for a start.

Any cartoons I draw will be freely distrubuted.

I am also looking for ideas for cartoons. Here are some of the ideas I
have recived. They are a little crude but cartoons are crude.

Do feel that all small children should be sacrificed to the pagan god of
organic farming " ESAD" ( Eat S**t and Die) Every third child is a good
idea, once selected they could be ran through a scredder and fed to the
crops. Just be sure the child doesn't have anything to eat for about 24
hours before going into the scredder, wouldn't want any s**t on the

A really dirty woman, skinny, with three skinny children kneeing in a
muddy field, a field showing only a few heads of wheat here and there.
Before her stands ESAD, Lord of Organic Farming in the year 2500 A.D. She:
Give us the seed of our grandfathers so that we can feed our children.

ESAD: Had you practiced organic birth control ( the old fig leaf between
the knees trick) you would not have to choose which child will become
organic material for the new crop.

Just one more twist before going to bed: Same situation but this time
the mother is a really rich bitch.
ESAD: You must pick one child to become organic material so that the
other two may live.
Mother: Just grab one and go, I've got a business to run!


Gordon Couger gcouger@couger.com

Stillwater, OK www.couger.com/gcouger
405 624-2855 GMT -6:00

Subj: Re: 7 contributions
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 1:28:25 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Curt Hannah

Dear all,

A point touched on in the recent correspondence concerns the "unknown
nature of random insertions". This is in reference to transgenes being
inserted at random into plant genomes. The anti-biotech argument goes
something like this: "Since insertions are random and since we don't know
what most of the DNA does and since we don't understand pleiotropic
effects, transgenics represent a unique danger not found in foods produced
via conventional breeding."

While this sounds good, what people fail to remember is the vast
amount of work on transposable elements, starting with Barbara McClintock.
It is natural to have random insertions. In fact, the vast
majority of the DNA in plants and virtually all organisms probably arose
from transposable elements and DNA over-replication.

I found that this fact takes the wind out of the sails of those
who want to argue about the "unique danger" of random insertions of
transgenes. I hope some of you find this useful.

Curt Hannah

See AgBioView Archives at