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May 25, 2000


Call to Action!


Subj: Call to Action!
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 6:07:50 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Dennis T Avery

Once again, the scientific and research communities have come under
attack, the latest salvo courtesy of Prince Charles. He has taken a cheap
shot at British scientists who are engaged in genetic research, suggesting
that their work presented dangers to the environment. Fortunately, the
scientists, led by Martin Bobrow, professor of medical genetics at
Cambridge University, and Richard Dawkins, the renowned Oxford zoologist,
have responded in kind, criticizing the Prince for his attitudes.

Agriculturalists know that even with a stable population in 2050 we will
have to harvest nearly three times as much farm output to feed affluent
adults, children and pets. The world is already farming 37% of its land
area. Unless we triple yields again, there will be little room for
wildlife in the second half of the 21st Century. Biotechnology is the
strongest yield enhancing approach that we have not yet used. We also know
that hundreds of millions of people in poor countries still lack adequate
calories, adequate protein and key micronutrients that could be cost
effectively supplied through biotech breakthroughs. It ill behooves the
leading research countries to turn their backs on these unmet needs. In
this country the biotech industry is also under attack.

The attack is being mounted by anti-biotech groups who are using the USDA
proposed National Organic Program regulations as a vehicle from which to
launch their broadsides. They are trying to persuade USDA and its
political appointees to put together a federal regulation that would allow
a zero tolerance level of biotech traits in organic crops. Of course,
while such a guarantee ignores natural pollen drift, it sets up liability
problems for the conventional farmers using GMO crops. This is a backdoor
attack on a technology that holds plenty of promise for the future.
Moreover, as you might imagine, if these views gain acceptance, political
and/or popular support could wane. Such an outcome could jeopardize
important funding for scientific research in biotechnology. Scientists
need to engage and respond to this situation NOW.

The USDA is accepting comments until June 12, 2000 which is just around
the corner and we scientists need to add our voices to ensure that these
standards are drafted precisely and fairly. Tens of thousands of form
letters have been received by the USDA from Green groups and only a few
dozen scientists have responded, according to the USDA. If the scientific
community does not respond, the Luddite point of view will prevail and the
proposed rules could be used to drive agricultural biotechnology off the

To submit comments directly, please go to or

There you will find pre-drafted comments, which you can submit, or you can
edit or erase the text, and write your own letter. It's time for
scientists to tell the Luddites here in the United States,enough is
enough. Please take time to make a difference.

Dennis T. Avery
Director of Global Food Issues
Hudson Institute
(540) 337-6354

Dennis T. Avery
Center for Global Food Issues
Hudson Institute
Ph: (540) 337-6354
fax: (540) 337-8593