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





February 21, 2005


Profit Motive in Science; Left Coast at Cutting Edge; Public Sector Woes; Green Brit Supports Biotech; Kicking Greenpeace


Today in AgBioView from www.agbioworld.org : February 21, 2005

* Careless Science Costs Lives
* The Cutting Edge
* Public Sector Initiatives in Biotechnology
* Productivity of Biotech Crops in Developing Countries
* Biosafety Course in Belgium: Scholarships Available!
* China Planning Large-Scale Introduction of GM Rice
* StarLink in Latin American Food Aid Corn?
* FAO E-mail Conference Messages on Public Participation and GMOs
* UK Environmentalist 'Confident' About Philippine Biosafety Regulation
* New Biotech Outreach Program at Orgeon State University
* University of Florida Tech Alert Program
* Greenpeace Protestors Get Kicked and Punched by Petrol Traders

Careless Science Costs Lives

- Dick Taverne, The Guardian, February 18, 2005

The public is wrong to regard all profit-driven research as suspect

In science, as in much of life, it is believed that you get what you pay for. According to opinion polls, people do not trust scientists who work for industry because they only care about profits, or government scientists because they suspect them of trying to cover up the truth. Scientists who work for environmental NGOs are more highly regarded. Because they are trying to save the planet, people are ready to believe that what they say must be true. A House of Lords report, Science and Society, published in 2000, agreed that motives matter. It argued that science and scientists are not value-free, and therefore that scientists would command more trust "if they openly declare the values that underpin their work".

It all sounds very plausible, but mostly it is wrong. Scientists with the best of motives can produce bad science, just as scientists whose motives may be considered suspect can produce good science. An obvious example of the first was Rachel Carson, who, if not the patron saint, was at least the founding mother of modern environmentalism. Her book The Silent Spring was an inspiring account of the damage caused to our natural environment by the reckless spraying of pesticides, especially DDT.

However, Carson also claimed that DDT caused cancer and liver damage, claims for which there is no evidence but which led to an effective worldwide ban on the use of DDT that is proving disastrous. Her motives were pure; the science was wrong. DDT is the most effective agent ever invented for preventing insect-borne disease, which, according to the US National Academy of Sciences and the WHO, prevented over 50 million human deaths from malaria in about two decades. Although there is no evidence that DDT harms human health, some NGOs still demand a worldwide ban for that reason. Careless science cost lives.

Contrast the benefits that have resulted from the profit motive, a motive that is held to be suspect by the public. Multinationals, chief villains in the demonology of contemporary anti-capitalists, have developed antibiotics, vaccines that have eradicated many diseases like smallpox and polio, genetically modified insulin for diabetics, and plants such as GM insect-resistant cotton that have reduced the need for pesticides and so increased the income and improved the health of millions of small cotton farmers. The fact is that self-interest can benefit the public as effectively as philanthropy.

Motives are not irrelevant, and unselfish motives are rightly admired more than selfish ones. There are numerous examples of misconduct by big companies, and we should examine their claims critically and provide effective regulation to control abuses of power and ensure the safety of their products. Equally, we should not uncritically accept the claims of those who act from idealistic motives. NGOs inspired by the noble cause of protecting our environment often become careless about evidence and exaggerate risks to attract attention (and funds).

Although every leading scientific academy has concluded that GM crops are at least as safe as conventional foods, this does not stop Greenpeace reiterating claims about the dangers of "Frankenfoods". Stephen Schneider, a climatologist, publicly justified distortion of evidence: "Because we are not just scientists but human beings as well ... we need to ... capture the public imagination ... So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we have."

But in the end motives are irrelevant to the validity of science. It does not matter if a scientist wants to help mankind, get a new grant, win a Nobel prize or increase the profits of her company. It does not matter whether a researcher works for Monsanto or for Greenpeace. Results are no more to be trusted if the researcher declares his values and confesses that he beats his wife, believes in God, or is an Arsenal supporter. What matters is that the work has been peer-reviewed, that the findings are reproducible and that they last. If they do, they are good science. If not, not. Science itself is value-free. There are objective truths in science. We can now regard it as a fact that the Earth goes rounds the sun and that Darwinism explains the evolution of species.

A look at the history of science makes it evident how irrelevant the values of scientists are. Newton's passion for alchemy did not invalidate his discovery of the laws of gravitation. To quote Professor Fox of Rutger's University: "How was it relevant to Mendel's findings about peas that he was a white, European monk? They would have been just as valid if Mendel had been a Spanish-speaking, lesbian atheist."

Lord Taverne is chair of Sense About Science and author of The March of Unreason, to be published next month


The Cutting Edge

- Dean Kleckner, Truth About Trade & Technology http://www.truthabouttrade.org/article.asp?id=3363

I've always been told that California is on the cutting edge of everything. Sometimes I've even believed it.

But now I'm starting to wonder. While growing numbers of farmers are rushing to adopt agricultural biotechnology all over the world, three counties in California have passed bans on it. Now Sonoma County, in the heart of the Golden State's wine country, may approve a 10-year moratorium on biotech plantings later this year.

Nothing turns back the clock like opposing biotechnology, which is already transforming our lives for the better in too many ways to count. One of the most important benefits, of course, is in the area of food production. Agricultural biotechnology is helping farmers feed a growing world, as the Green Revolution transforms into a Gene Revolution.

And now some misguided activists want to outlaw our progress. They know their radical plans can't possibly succeed at the federal or state level, so they've devoted their efforts to a few counties in California. They've failed as often as they've succeeded. Last November, voters in the counties of Butte, Humboldt, and San Luis Obispo had the common sense to reject anti-biotech initiatives. They understood the practical problems of a ban, including the important question of who pays the expensive cost of enforcing it.

But the enemies of biotechnology have experienced some success as well. In the last 12 months, three California counties have banned biotech crops: Marin, Mendocino, and Trinity. Sonoma now threatens to become the fourth county to deny freedom of choice to farmers.

That would be unfortunate, because biotechnology eventually may have much to offer the grape farmers of Sonoma County. Although there's no such thing as a commercial biotech grape right now--there probably won't be such a thing for at least a decade--the promise of biotechnology is considerable. Imagine a grape vine that naturally defends against Pierce's disease, a bacterial infection that certain leaf hopping insects spread from plant to plant. How about protection in the form of nematode resistant rootstock or the ability to fight fungal diseases like bunch rot? This would be a tremendous boon to Sonoma's farmers. And yet the county's anti-activists would preemptively remove it from their reach.

Anybody who understands grapes knows that farmers have improved them. They are one of mankind's oldest crops--the Bible says they were grown at the time of Noah. They've also been altered over the millennia. One of the most important developments came in 1872, when William Thompson introduced seedless grapes to California.

The Sonoma activists like to say that biotechnology is somehow "unnatural." But what could be more unnatural than a seedless grape?

The enemies of biotechnology are simply on the wrong side of history. Every year, more farmers plant more biotech crops than they did the year before. This year, a farmer somewhere on earth will plant the one-billionth acre of biotech crops.

Supporters of the Sonoma ban say that they aren't extremists, and point to the fact that their moratorium "supposedly" carves out a limited exception for research--i.e., under certain excessively stringent conditions, plant breeders would be able to study genetically enhanced plants in Sonoma. I can't imagine why the R&D division of any company or university would want to invest a single penny in a jurisdiction that is so hostile to biotechnology.

Biotechnology belongs to everybody, including farmers. For people who work the land, it simply is one of many tools they have at their disposal, like tractors and seeds. All farmers, including Sonoma's vinters, should have the freedom to decide on their own whether biotechnology is right for them.

I look forward to the day when we can all take biotechnology for granted. At the same time, I'm concerned that some people are taking it for granted prematurely. I just returned from the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif., and the folks out there were much more interested in talking about water, pollution and irrigation equipment than county politics.

I can't blame them, but I also worry they'll become victims of complacency. We're constantly reminded of how much damage the anti-biotech crowd has done in Europe. If their influence in the United States becomes even a small fraction of what it's been in Europe, then we're all in trouble.

In the meantime, I hope the voters of Sonoma County will keep California on the cutting edge of technology, rather than force it into the dull hinterlands of fearfulness.


Public Sector Initiatives in Biotechnology

- Klaus Ammann

Dear friends, This is about the new Public Sector Initiative, read the introduction:

Countries and organisations throughout the world have invested considerably in public sector research, and are continuing to do, so in order to develop biotechnological applications that meet a variety of crucial needs such as strengthening the sustainable production of food, feed and fibre, addressing water shortage, and improving health care and environmental protection. The extent to which modern biotechnology will be able to achieve these goals will depend to a large extent on the regulatory regimes that apply to biotechnology and on the way in which they are implemented.

These national regulations in turn are strongly influenced by international agreements, particularly the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. This Protocol was negotiated between 1995 and 2000, adopted in January 2000, and came into force in September 2003. The first Meeting of the Parties (MOP1) took place in February 2004 in Kuala Lumpur and MOP2 is scheduled for May - June 2005.

A central aim of the negotiations was to involve all stakeholders. Records of the negotiations show that NGOs and the private sector were indeed well represented. However, the public research sector involved in developing biotechnological applications, which includes over a hundred thousand researchers of thousands governmental, academic and international research institutions in developing and developed countries, was not represented in any significant or organised way during the negotiations or during mop1.

As a result, the public research sector has been not able to provide scientific input for the benefit of the negotiations nor to express its views about the effectiveness and workability of the provisions of the Protocol. Another consequence of the absence of the public research sector during the negotiations is the persistence of the misconception that modern biotechnology, and in particular its agricultural application, is the exclusive domain of a handful of big, western multinationals. The initiative described below proposes to offer a forum for the public research sector to be involved in the forthcoming Meetings of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in May 2005 and related meetings.

This is why Piet van der Meer and Willy de Greef have launched the initiative, with a kickoff meeting at the Danforth Institute in St. Louis, hosted by Roger Beachy.

The programme:

The outline of the initiative:

and a pertinent article in Nature Biotechnology from Joel Cohen: http://www.botanischergarten.ch/PublicSector/Cohen-Naturebiotech-2005.pdf

visit the new website of the Bern Botanic Garden, now frequently updated http://boga.unibe.ch/home.html


Productivity of Biotech Crops in Developing Countries

- Ross Korves, Feb 4, 2005; Truth About Trade & Technology http://www.truthabouttrade.org/article.asp?id=3323

Biotech crop acreage in developing countries like China, India and South Africa continued to increase in 2004 according to the ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications). Chinese acreage, mostly cotton, increased 31.9 percent from 6.9 million acres to 9.1 million acres. India's acreage increased from 250,000 acres in 2003 to 1.24 million in 2004, a 400 percent increase. South Africa's biotech acreage increased 25 percent in 2004 to 1.2 million acres. The slow progress of the regulatory process in developing countries has allowed agronomic and economic researchers to accumulate data from farm trials and estimate what may happen to productivity as biotech crops become more widely used.

Adoption of U.S. biotech crops occurred so rapidly in the United States that decisions to plant more biotech acreage were driven more by on-farm, real time experiences rather than responding to years of third party research plots and on-farm test results. For example, adoption of biotech soybeans increased from 17 percent of total acres in 1997, to 68 percent in 2001 and 84 percent by 2004.

A 2002 study by the Agricultural Economics Research Institute in The Hague, Netherlands on Chinese adoption of Bt cotton in 1999 by 282 cotton farmers in an area with severe bollworm problems reported no changes in fertilizer and machinery use. Adopters of Bt cotton sprayed 60 percent fewer times (from an average of 20 times to an average of 8 times) and reduced insecticide expenditures by 82 percent. Seed costs for Bt cotton were 100-250 percent higher, but follow-up research showed that seed costs declined over time. Yields for 1999-2001 increased by 7-15 percent, with an average of 10 percent, compared to conventional cotton.

From the three years of on-farm experience (1999-2001), the researchers estimated that by 2010 yields for the nation as a whole would be 7 percent higher, pesticide costs would be 67 percent lower, labor costs would be 7 percent lower and seed costs would be 120 percent higher for those using Bt cotton versus conventional cotton. In the three growing regions studied, one had a 10 percent increase in projected yields, a second had a 7 percent increase and a third area with less pest pressure had a 3.6 percent increase. The researchers projected that the benefits to producers would be large enough so that by 2010 over 90 percent of the cotton acreage in China would be biotech, with one region at 95 percent adoption and the other at two at 90 percent. This would be higher than the adoption rates in the United States in 2004 for biotech soybeans at 84 percent and cotton at 76 percent.

The ISAAA published work in late 2003 looking at the yield increases expected for biotech rice. They estimated that if herbicide tolerant rice were available in 2004 followed by bacterial leaf blight resistance and insect resistance in 2005, then yields would increase by an additional 10 percent above yield increases for other reasons. They also considered a more optimistic scenario with yield increases of 15 percent. If these agronomic traits were combined with the 'Golden Rice' vitamin A gene in 2007, they estimated that by 2012 about 40 percent of the world rice crop would be biotech. The earlier cited work on China estimated that adoption of biotech rice could reach 95 percent in China within 10 years of its commercial availability. The ISAAA analysis also expected China to be a rapid adopter of biotech rice.

Kym Anderson, an agricultural economist at the University of Adelaide, Australia and now on leave at the World Bank in Washington, DC, has looked at studies from around the world and developed some estimates of percentage increases in productivity for factors of production. In a 2004 study on biotech rice (without the Golden gene), he used a 6 percent increase in the productivity for land, an 8 percent increases in productivity for skilled and unskilled labor and a 5 percent increase in productivity for chemical inputs. In another 2004 analysis on biotech food crops for sub-Saharan Africa, he used productivity increases for all factors of production of 7.5 percent for course grains, 6 percent for oilseeds, 5 percent for wheat and 5 percent for non-Golden rice. The actual increases in productivity for each factor will obviously vary by regions within Africa, but these estimates provide some sense of why biotech crops are likely to be adopted.

Researchers have also looked at the economic benefits of "output traits" such as Golden rice. In 2002 the Center for Development Research at the University of Bonn, Germany analyzed the impact on the economy in the Philippines. The analysis estimated that vitamin A deficiency costs the Philippine economy 0.5 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) each year. They estimated economic gains of $23-137 million per year and an internal rate of return of 81-152 percent for the money spent to encourage consumption of the new rice. The researchers pointed out that food choices and health care are influenced by a complex set of characteristics and Golden rice should not be seen as the easy cure for diet and lifestyle choices. Despite those caveats, the researchers concluded, "Micronutrient-dense crops are an efficient way to reduce deficiency problems among the poor, and related research projects should receive higher political priority."

Broad acceptance of biotech crops in developing countries will be based on economic efficiencies in specific locations and the effectiveness of the local knowledge transfer process. Productivity increases may increase total output of crops like cotton or may allow acreage to shift to other crops while total cotton output remains unchanged. Regardless of the cropping tradeoffs, the economic benefits appear large enough to encourage rapid adoption of biotech crops.


Summer School on Biosafety in Belgium: Scholarships Available!

- Prof. M. Van Montagu, University Gent, Belgium

The Institute Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries (University Gent, Belgium) is announcing their second summer school on "Biosafety assessment and regulation of agricultural biotechnology" from August 9-20, 2005.

There are 12 scholarships available for participants from Developing Countries supported by the VLIR (Flemish Interuniversity Council) to cover the cost of the course (course, travel and stay included). More information on the course and the forms to be filled can be found at the website: http://www.ipbo.ugent.be under the heading in the main frame

Summer course 2005" Scholarship applications should be in before March 1st.


China Planning Large-Scale Introduction of Genetically-Engineered Rice

- Agence France Presse, Feb 17, 2005 http://story.news.yahoo.com

China is on the verge of introducing genetically-engineered rice on a large scale as it seeks ways to adequately supply the basic staple to its people. "It would boost China's rice output by 30 billion kilograms (66 billion pounds) a year. That's enough to feed 70 million more people," Yuan Longping, head of China's super hybrid rice scheme, told the Changsha Evening News.

Yuan said the new rice strains still have to pass state appraisal, expected to be conducted later this year, before they receive vigorous promotion. Shrinking acreage, falling water tables and a population that is expected to grow significantly beyond 1.3 billion are factors that have led China to explore other ways to feed its masses.

According to supporters of the rice, it will enable farmers to do away with widespread use of dangerous pesticides that effect their health and harm the environment. They also make much of the fact that it will result in better yields and higher quality grain that will spur farmers' incomes.


StarLink in Latin American Food Aid Corn?

- Alex Avery

I note that leftist, anti-capitalist groups (Friends of the Earth, etc.) are trying to stir up a tempest in the tea pot with the announcement that they "detected" starlink corn in food aid from the World Food Program. – Corn which they warn is "illegal" in the U.S.

I would like to remind reporters and Agbioviewers that the testing for "GMO presence" was conducted by our old friends, Genetic ID, run by the Maharishi cult in Iowa. Genetic ID uses DNA Polymerase Chain Reaction for its testing, which the company notes is "at least one hundred times more sensitive than other methods."

With PCR methods being so extremely sensitive (in fact, false positives being a real challenge with PCR), if you test enough samples from enough bags – or test ground corn meal, which includes tiny bits of perhaps hundreds of thousands of separate corn kernels – then it isn't at all surprising that they "detected" traces of Starlink corn. They don't announce the levels at which they detected Starlink, but it is no doubt orders of magnitude below meaningful levels – i.e. levels at which theoretical allergy risks occur. Even then, we know that Starlink was at least 800 times less allergenic than peanuts. So, mere detection at an unreported (no doubt absurdly low amount) of Starlink "material" in one out of 77 samples tested and consumers are supposed to be worried?

Please remind all that the PCR methodology will find even the tiniest traces of DNA and means absolutely nothing in terms of food quality or safety. This is another attempt at Genetic ID (whose owners are tightly linked to organic food retailers and activists) and FoE at create fear from nothing.

Spread hope and truth

Cheers, Alex Avery, Center for Global Food Issues, Hudson Institute


FAO E-mail Conference on Public Participation and GMOs

- From FAO Biotech News, http://www.fao.org/biotech/index.asp

The FAO e-mail conference entitled "Public participation in decision-making regarding GMOs in developing countries: How to effectively involve rural people" began on 17 January and finished on 13 February 2005. Over 500 people subscribed to this moderated conference and 116 messages were posted, from 70 people living in 35 different countries. Half of the messages posted were from people in developing countries.

The wide range of issues raised included e.g. the need for relevant and reliable information; whether and why the public (rural or not) should be involved in decision-making regarding GMOs and, assuming they should, how they could be effectively involved (including topics such as appropriate media and communication strategies, local languages, who should pay, indigenous peoples, international agreements/guidelines etc.).

The messages are available at
http://www.fao.org/biotech/logs/c12logs.htm or can be requested as a single e-mail (size 200 KB) from biotech-admin@fao.org


UK Expert 'Confident' About Philippine Biosafety Regulation


An environmentalist from the United Kingdom cited the Philippine biosafety regulatory system being on a par with the whole European biosafety regulatory system.

Dr. Brian Johnson, senior adviser and head of the Biotech Advisory Unit English Nature in the UK, told Filipino scientists and the academe in a roundtable held at Annabel's restaurant in Quezon City, that he is confident about the Philippine biosafety regulatory system.

'I have been looking at your regulatory system over and over again,' Johnson told the audience. 'I have watched your regulatory system develop and I can tell you that I am confident about the Philippine regulation as I have in the ability of the whole European regulatory system.' Johnson said that the country's biosafety regulatory system uses the same technique and demand the same quality of scientific information as they do in Europe.

He said that all genetically modified (GM) plants and their products must undergo risk assessment before these are commercialized in Europe. A leading Filipino scientist cited the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety from which the Philippines is a signatory.

Dr. Saturnina Halos, head of the Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology Advisory Unit said that the country's biosafety regulatory system, which is being strictly enforced by the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines, has very stringent processes compared with its European counterpart.
Experts say that it was made that way to ensure that the new biotech products that will be introduced into the country are safe for human health and for the environment.
She said the country's regulatory system has become a model for Asean member-countries which are now emerging biotechnology producers.

'We always do risk assessment on any biotechnology or GM plants and products before they are allowed to be commercialized,' Halos said. 'This is required from whoever would like to work with GM crops. [They] should come up with scientific evidence that their products are safe.'

Halos said that biotech producers are required to show data that their plants or products are safe to be eaten by humans and animals, and harmless to the environment.
She also said that GM producers should ensure that their plants will not adversely affect the beneficial population of the insect world.

When asked by a student on why biotechnology or GM plants are still being opposed by some groups, Johnson said that it is natural that some people are apprehensive on biotechnology simply because it is a new technology. 'People tend to be apprehensive and, often times, opposed to a technology because it is new,' Johnson said.

He mentioned a case in England in the 19th century when majority of the population were against the entry of electricity and the electric bulb. 'People were afraid to use the bulb fearing it will kill them. There was even a riot in England against a company who was about to set up a generator to light up the town.'

He also cited the first time the automobile was introduced in London and people thought that their body parts would fall apart once they travel at more than the 20 miles per hour in an automobile. 'Lack of pertinent information and the general fear caused by disinformation are the reasons why people are apprehensive about biotechnology,' Johnson said. 'People need to be reassured that in the next 10 years this new technology will eventually prove safe and beneficial to man.'


New Biotech Outreach Program at Orgeon State University

- Dawn Marie Woodward, February 17, 2005 http://www2.kval.com/ (Via checkbiotech.org)

Oregon State University has created a new Outreach Program in Resource Biotechnology to work with policy makers, the science community, educators, students and the general public in understanding the use of biotechnology in agriculture and natural resources.

The program will build upon some similar educational initiatives operated by OSU several years ago, and respond to the continued and persistent public debate about biotechnology issues and genetic engineering, said Steve Strauss, a professor of genetics and forest science, and program director.

"Most of our crops already are genetically engineered via conventional means," Strauss said. "But the use of recombinant DNA methods, also called gene splicing, raises many new conundrums with its new opportunities.

"It's important to listen to all viewpoints and help to identify the factually and contextually accurate information," he said. "There are many strong ideological views, new and complex gene science to understand, rapidly evolving agricultural and food production practices, and vested interests in outcomes. This makes it essential to have referees that the public and decision makers can rely upon."

The new program will focus on the scientific dimensions of benefit, risk and ethics of biotechnology, Strauss said, and will also closely track the many important issues that go beyond the realm of science, including legal, financial, cultural, psychological, and religious perspectives. It will develop a network of scientific contacts to help inform the public and decision makers.

Funding for the program will be provided by the College of Agricultural Sciences and the College of Forestry at OSU, and may later include charitable grants, federal research support, or educational grants available through the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education or others.

The program responds in part to needs identified in a new, independent report on existing outreach programs on these topics, said Kirstin Carroll, who will serve as the full-time coordinator. "This study indicated that there are no programs like this established in the Pacific Northwest, and only two similar ones in the entire nation, at Cornell University and the University of California," Carroll said. "There's a real deficit of active outreach in biotechnology by academic organizations, especially in the area of crop genetic engineering, which is highly complex and controversial.

"Several core guidelines have been defined for the program. They include:

Respect and common ground: The program will mediate discussion and identify common ground between widely differing views about biotechnology. Although scientists say that the safety of genetically modified organisms resides with the end product rather than the process of creating them, the process itself clearly creates alarm and social concerns for many. These differing views must be explored.

Context: Discussions about biotechnology should include the historical context. Genetic modification has been done for millennia, and included the use of new species, wide hybridization, inbreeding, cloning and chemical or radiation mutagenesis. Some aspects of biotechnology are new and have risks or benefits that are difficult to estimate. Other products are familiar in their properties and may be safer than the products they replace, for example by reducing pesticide use or damage to soil.

Holism: Considering a full range of alternatives may help achieve environmental and humanistic goals in a growing and resource limited world. Difficult choices and possible tradeoffs among goals must be identified, and over-simplifications and distortions of science and technology avoided.

Humanitarian issues: The widely differing levels of wealth, food security, and environmental health among people around the world can lead to very different perspectives about the kinds of technological benefits and risks they are willing to assume. In their social debate, developed nations should consider how strict regulations that are imposed on trade, agricultural subsidies, biodiversity, and food safety can have powerful effects on the poor.

"There's a lot we can do to improve the level of understanding about biotechnology," Strauss said. "According to recent surveys the majority of Americans don't even know that tomatoes have genes, let alone any of the details of gene technology. A lack of understanding of the science in this area leaves the public prone to confusion and alarm."

Public outreach will be a key goal of the program, possibly including museum exhibits, radio or television programming, community or after-school programs or materials, and web-based information. Collaboration may also be sought with existing K-12 outreach programs that OSU operates or is involved with, such as Science Education Partnerships, the Rural Science Education Program, Discovery Days, Saturday Academy, SMILE, and Science Connections with the Portland public schools.

Workshops and professional continuing education programs can be created for business leaders, natural resource professionals, Extension agents and others. Presentations will be made to national and international panels, and publications prepared for national audiences.

An advisory board is being set up to guide the actions of the new program, with experts from agriculture, biotechnology of animals, ethics in natural resource biotechnology, policy development, business, economics, science education, and agricultural Extension.

Educators say the new program should also aid more than a dozen undergraduate and graduate degree programs at OSU, in which students should be informed on a broad range of biotechnology issues.

Text and Information provided by OSU News & Communications.


UF Tech Alert: Exciting Free Service for Identifying Cutting-Edge Technologies

In order to capitalize on the high-performance products of tomorrow, agri-biotech and agribusiness companies must identify the latest, cutting-edge technologies of today. The University of Florida is proud to announce a new service to its commercial partners and interested investors: UF Tech Alert is a simple, free, web-based service that instantly notifies subscribers of University of Florida technologies available for licensing in their specific areas of interest. UF Tech Alert generates a text-only email to subscribers with a web link to a description of the new discovery and contact data for more information. The service will help recipients identify groundbreaking technologies in the agri-biotech industry and agribusiness in order to improve cultivation and manufacturing processes, enhance the output, flavor, and nutritional value of crops, as well as bring new varieties to market. Along with an extensive portfolio of intellectual property related to both GM plants and non-GM plants, the University of Florida owns patents on a number of environmentally safe insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, attractants, repellants and plant therapeutics. To subscribe to UF Tech Alert, simply visit http://apps.rgp.ufl.edu/otl/tech_updates1.cfm


Greenpeace Protestors Get Kicked by Petrol Traders

Read full story at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1487741,00.html

Kyoto protest beaten back by inflamed petrol traders

- Laura Peek and Liz Chong

WHEN 35 Greenpeace protesters stormed the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) yesterday they had planned the operation in great detail.

What they were not prepared for was the post-prandial aggression of oil traders who kicked and punched them back on to the pavement.

“We bit off more than we could chew. They were just Cockney barrow boy spivs. Total thugs,” one protester said, rubbing his bruised skull. “I’ve never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view.”

Another said: “I took on a Texan Swat team at Esso last year and they were angels compared with this lot.” Behind him, on the balcony of the pub opposite the IPE, a bleary-eyed trader, pint in hand, yelled: “Sod off, Swampy.”