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May 25, 2000


Australian legislation, transgenic canola, conference, ASCB


Date: May 25 2000 22:42:17 EDT
From: Stevens Brumbley
Subject: RE: Australian legislation

The attached strident message is forwarded to AgBioView by a secondary
recipient. The message is from Brigitte Muir, who has public influence by
virtue of her being the first Australian woman to climb Everest.
Australia is on the verge of introducing Gene Technology legislation
(refer to Drew Kershen, AgBioView May 19:
<http://www.health.gov.au/tga/gene/genetech/consult.htm#genebill> and
definitive food labeling legislation (http://www.anzfa.gov.au/GMO/)

It would assist informed decision-making if relevant information on both
of these issues could be sent by list members to:

The Hon The Prime Minister Mr John Howard
Fax: +612 6273 4100

The Hon Dr Michael Wooldridge MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
Eml: Michael.Wooldridge.MP@aph.gov.au

Brigitte Muir's source of information is Bob Phelps:

GeneEthics Network (Australia)
Ph: +613 9416 2222
Fax: +613 9416 0767
c/o ACF (Aust Conservation Foundation http://www.acfonline.org.au/index.htm
<http://www.acfonline.org.au/index.htm> )
340 Gore Street, Fitzroy VIC 3065
http://www.geneethics.org/ <http://www.geneethics.org/>

y important. I have been reading about GE stuff, and I
> am frightened by the extend it has invaded our world without much being
> known about it, and with us not being informed properly on the dangers of
> it. It is Evil stuff..take my word for it. And if you don't, check the
> GeneEthics Network website, or call Bob Phelps on 03 9416 2222.. and read
> on, please...
> Australian and New Zealand Health ministers all agreed last year to
> require labels on every food, food additive and processing aid produced
> using genetic engineering (GE). Their decision is under attack by Prime
> Minister John Howard, industry, and the Food Authority.
> To try and stifle calls for strong labelling laws, government is running
> $4,4 million supermarket and media campaign!
> In a nutshell, GE crops and food pose big risks to health and the
> environment, with no benefits for food buyers. They:
> * pollute soil, water, food and other plants
> * intensify destructive farming practices
> * spread antibiotic resistance genes
> * create monopoly control and higher prices.
> * 71% of GE crops are HERBICIDE TOLERANT, so growers can drench fields in
> more poison to kill weeds better but not harm there plants. Herbicide
> tolerant superweeds may result.
> * 28% of GE crops make an INSECT TOXIN ( Bt) which may be unsafe in our
> food, kill friendly insects, and create superbugs
> * 1% of GE crops are VIRUS RESISTANT, risking new viruses and diseases.
> So please, please, please, write or phone your State Health Minister and
> ask them for:
> * labels on all foods made using GE
> * GE labelling from January 1, 2001
> * no ' may contain' labels
> * no threshold for GE contamination
> * a five year freeze on GE crops and food
> Contact: The Health Minister, c/o Parliament State, in the capital city
> your state, or John Howard, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Tel 02
> 62777700.
> In Victoria, The Honourable John Thwaites, Minister for Health, Level 22,
> 555 Collins Street Melbourne 3000. ph 03 9616 8561 fax 9616 8566
> john.thwaites@parliament.vic.gov.au

> >
> I would really appreciate if you could forward this to anyone you know
> might be able to put pressure on our blasted American Lackey- Australian
> Prime Minister!
> Cheers, Brigitte
> Jon and Brigitte Muir
> PO BOX 153 Natimuk 3409 Vic Australia
> PH +61 3 53 871 530
> Fax +61 353 871 458

Stevens M. Brumbley
Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations
PO Box 86
50 Meiers Road
Indooroopilly, Queensland 4068

Phone: 61 (0)7 3331-3370
Fax: 61 (0)7 3871-0383
E-mail: sbrumbley@bses.org.au

Date: May 26 2000 03:02:37 EDT
From: Andrew Apel
Subject: Deep Frustration


By now you are all aware of the fact that Europe is in deep torment over
the fact that about one-half of one percent of a batch of seeds for
oilseed rape (canola) turned out to have transgenes.

What the world press has consistently downplayed is a claim that the seeds
bearing transgenes lack a restorer gene, and for that reason, will not
produce the pollen which Euros fear will pollute their countryside and
perhaps, according to a recent report in a chiropractic journal, interfere
with bees' sense of smell.

I am a reporter. I need facts and balance.

I have spent three days trying to determine the accuracy of reports that
the small proportion of seeds bearing transgenes do not produce pollen.

The result? Nothing. No response from Advanta, and I hope this open
accusation of Advanta's PR failure in this instance stings badly.

No wonder Greenpeace and their ilk get center stage.

If this is the best the seed industry can do, I recommend that it begin
talking about terms of surrender. If the
industry is going to give up, they might as well announce the fact and
spare everyone the agony of waiting for the end.

Date: May 26 2000 03:03:09 EDT
From: tgilland@easynet.co.uk (Tony Gilland)

The precautionary principle has been a major feature of the GM debate.
Many of us have been trying to understand precisley what it means and how
we should respond to it. I have co-organised the conference below with
Professor Susan Greenfield (Director of The Royal Institution) and Dr
Helene Guldberg (former publisher of LM magazine) to provide an
opportunity to address these questions more thoroughly. I hope many of you
will be able to attend and participate in this important debate (Friday,
14 July 2000,
London - please see below).

Kind regards

Tony Gilland
Co-ordinator, Interrogating the Precautionary Principle
+44 7970 658 979



Friday 14 July 2000
The Royal Institution of Great Britain

Many have criticised Prince Charles' recent pronouncement that we should
"restore the balance" between traditional "instinctive wisdom" and that of
scientific rationalism. Nevertheless, concerns about global warming, mobile
phones and genetic engineering, to name just a few examples, suggest that
society is increasingly nervous about the harmful consequences of its own
actions. The idea of precaution and risk avoidance is at the heart of
debate about the future of society.

At 'Interrogating the Precautionary Principle', eminent scientists, social
scientists and writers will question the premises of the "precautionary
principle", justify their views about its applicability to modern society,
and consider what it is that society has become so afraid of.

DATE: Friday 14 July 2000, registration 10.00-11.00am
VENUE: The Royal Institution, 21 Albermarle Street, London, W1
TICKETS: 25/20 (phone the RI box office on (020) 7670 2986)
CONVENED BY: Tony Gilland, Professor Susan Greenfield and Dr Helene


- Lisa Jardine, author, Ingenious Pursuits: building the scientific
- Norman Levitt, professor of mathematics, Rutgers University; author,
Prometheus Bedeviled: science and the contradictions of contemporary
- Professor Anthony Trewavas, Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology,
University of Edinburgh
- Professor Brian Wynne, research director, Centre for the Study of
Environmental Change, Lancaster University

Chair: Dr Helene Guldberg, former publisher, LM magazine

Scientific discovery was once celebrated for enabling greater prosperity,
health and knowledge. Now it is criticised for exposing us to new risks
with potentially catastrophic consequences. Are the uncertainties involved
in modern science of a new order of magnitude or has society lost its


- Simon Best, CEO, Geron Bio-Med Ltd
- Professor David Cope, director, Parliamentary Office of Science and
- Dr Douglas Parr, chief scientific adviser, Greenpeace UK
- John Vidal, environment editor, The Guardian

Chair: Anne Furedi, director of communications, British Pregnancy Advisory

How can public confidence in science and innovation be rebuilt? In a world
of political apathy, where governments are viewed as sleaze-ridden and
multinationals as greedy profiteers, who should decide what risks society
should take? Does the deference to consumer campaigns and media coverage
reflect an abdication of leadership, or an enhancement of the democratic


- Carl Djerassi, professor of chemistry, Stanford University; recipient of
the National Medal of Science (for the first synthesis of a steroid oral
- Dr Frank Furedi, reader in sociology, University of Kent at Canterbury;
author, Culture of Fear
- Judy Larkin, specialist in reputation risk management and partner of
Regester Larkin
- Michael Willmott, co-founder and director, Future Foundation

Chair: Professor Susan Greenfield, director, The Royal Institution

Risk and safety have become buzzwords for our time. They permeate
discussions of everything from child-rearing and personal relationships, to
economic development and new technologies. Is there a connection between
these fears?

This event has been organised in partnership with the Royal Institution as
part of THE INSTITUTE OF IDEAS: a Summer 2000 series of debates around the
themes of freedom, culture, science, thought and morality:

An Intellectual Map for the 21st Century
16 June to 16 July 2000

Tony Gilland on 07970 658 979 or via email: tgilland@easynet.co.uk. For
more information about THE INSTITUTE OF IDEAS, please call Tiffany Jenkins
on (020) 7269 9227 or visit www.InstituteOfIdeas.com

Associated INSTITUTE OF IDEAS events:

Friday 7 July, 10.30am-5.00pm, University College London
Produced by: Dr Peter Sammonds, (020) 7679 2422

Speakers include:
- Dr Bob Chaplow, NIREX
- Piers Corbyn, Weather Action
- Lord Julian Hunt FRS, professor of climate modelling, UCL, and former
director, Met Office
- Bill McGuire, professor of geohazards; director, Benfield Greig Hazard
Research Centre; author, Apocalypse; TV's 'Disaster man'
- Dr Mark Saunders, Mullard Space Science Laboratory


Wednesday 21 June 2000, 5.30pm, University of Newcastle
Produced by: Caspar Hewett, (0191) 222 5680

- Christopher Badcock, author, Psychodarwinism: the new synthesis of Darwin
and Freud
- Dr Helene Guldberg, developmental psychologist
- Matt Ridley, author, The Red Queen, The Origins of Virtue, Genome;
columnist, Daily Telegraph

Thursday 29 June, 10.00am, The Royal Commonwealth Society, London
Produced by: Reshmi Parag for WORLDwrite, (020) 8985 5435

Speakers include:
- Dr Bernard Dixon, European Federation of Biotechnology
- James Heartfield, assistant producer, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
- Kitty Warnock, Panos


Tony Gilland

T. +44 20 8809 5268
F. +44 20 8376 2566
M. +44 7970 658 979
E. tgilland@easynet.co.uk

Subj: American Society for Cell Biology: Statement in Support of Research
on GMOs
Date: Fri, 26 May 2000 6:44:10 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Art Chatroo

The following has been circulated regarding the ASCB position on "GMO"s.

Subject: ASCB statement supports research on GMOs

To ASPP Campus Contacts:

Following is a statement in support of research on GMOs that has been
issued by the American Society for Cell Biology:

The American Society for Cell Biology
Statement in Support of Research on
Genetically Modified Organisms

The American Society for Cell Biology represents about 10,000 basic
biology researchers across the country and throughout the world.

The ability to move individual genes into crops presents an enormous
opportunity for improving the quality and nutritional value of the food we
eat. Moreover, because plants are capable of performing diverse chemical
reactions, we anticipate that this technology will improve the production
and availability of pharmaceuticals, prevent environmental damage through
cleaner and safer chemistry, and facilitate environmental cleanup with
plants designed to detoxify hazardous waste. Genetic engineering has many
advantages over traditional breeding: it is faster, more precise, and can
introduce genes tailored to confer beneficial properties. The ASCB
vigorously supports research and development in the area of genetically
engineered organisms, including the development of genetically modified
(GM) crop plants.

In the United States, a regulatory network of multiple agencies controls
the introduction of new food products, whether they are produced
conventionally or through genetic engineering. The USDA regulates meat
and poultry products, the FDA regulates other foods, and the EPA regulates
pesticides. Agency approval requires testing for both human and
environmental toxicity. If the contents of a food product can affect
health risks or if they are likely to promote allergy, labeling is
mandatory. If companies wish to add additional labels to promote their
products, they bear the burden of proof to ensure that those labels are
accurate. The approval process includes evaluation of the following:

* The uses of the food, including both human and animal uses
* The sources, identities, and functions of introduced genetic material
* The purpose or intended technical effect of the modification, and its
expected effect on the composition or characteristic properties of the
food or feed;
* The identity and function of any new products encoded by the introduced
genetic material, including an estimate of its concentration;
* Comparison of the composition or characteristics of the bioengineered
food to that of food derived from the parental variety or other commonly
consumed varieties with special emphasis on important nutrients,
anti-nutrients, and toxicants that occur naturally in the food;
* Information on whether the genetic modification alters the potential for
the bioengineered food to induce an allergic response; and,
* Other information relevant to the safety and nutritional assessment of
the bioengineered food.

New products from genetically modified crops promise significant
improvement in human health and the environment. Some examples include:

* Soybeans that make three-fold higher levels of monounsaturated
fatty acids and ten-fold lower levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids,
providing healthier sources of vegetable oil.

* Soybeans that are even more likely to reduce harmful cholesterol
levels than ordinary soybeans, due to increased levels of particular

* Rice and corn that express high levels of vitamin A and promise
to dramatically reduce blindness in many developing countries.

* Vaccines that can be delivered through food to provide safe and
effective methods for disease prevention in much of the developing world.

* Soybeans that produce compounds useful as plasticizers, paint and
lubricants, eliminating the need for chemical modifications that produce
toxic byproducts harmful to the environment.

These are just a few ways that, far from presenting a threat to the
public health, GM crops in many cases improve it.

The use of genetically modified organisms can also improve our
environment. The use of GM corn, cotton, and soybeans has dramatically
reduced the use of chemical pesticides in the U.S. This is the result of
the introduction of crops expressing the BT protein, which is specifically
toxic to certain insect larvae. Many individuals and groups have raised
concerns about the safety of transgenic BT crops despite the fact that the
bacteria that naturally produce BT have been applied directly to crops as
a form of organic pest control for over 40 years. Transgenic BT crops
have passed rigorous testing in the US, Canada, and Japan, and they have
been found to pose no threat to other insects, animals, or humans. The
primary alternative to BT is large-scale spraying of pesticides which
kills both beneficial and harmful insects and has other negative
environmental consequences. Increased use of GM crops promises to further
reduce chemical pesticide use, minimize the exposure of workers and people
in neighboring communities to harmful chemicals, and increase profits for

Furthermore, GM crops will be instrumental in enabling farmers, for the
first time in history, to literally feed the world. The world's
population will likely grow by one to two billion over the next decades.
In order to feed this many people, grain production must dramatically
increase, perhaps by 40%. Traditional breeding methods are too slow to
meet this increased demand; instead, the rapid production of disease
resistant crops through genetic modification can enable rapid increases
in crop productivity. The
use of GM crops will make available farmland more productive, reducing
the need to bring additional forest acreage into production.

Despite the promise of new food production technology, fear and concern
both in Europe and the U.S., fanned by media coverage, have halted or
severely slowed the investment of the agricultural industry in
genetically modified products. In the past, the fate of recombinant DNA
technology was determined by the dispassionate consideration of scientific
facts a decision that led to numerous health benefits including the
production of new drugs and the diagnosis of genetic disease. Likewise,
agricultural biotechnology policy should be not dictated by unfounded
fears. The consequences of the recent fear campaign are evident in
Europe, and are threatening to spread in the U.S. Ultimately, all
biotechnology may be targeted, as many are becoming fearful of all
recombinant technologies.

Some in the U.S. support special labeling of food that is derived from
genetically modified crops. But, many experienced in public policy, as
well as those who have witnessed recent events in Europe, caution that
labeling may unnecessarily inflame public fears. Further, such labeling
would merely specify the technology used to create the product without
providing information on its contents. Mandatory labeling would also
impose significant production burdens on farmers and manufacturers who
would have to separate GM and non-GM goods from the field to the factories
to the marketplace. Farmers and food producers strongly oppose this, as
it would require costly storage and processing facilities and equipment to
be added at all stages of production. In many cases, there is no test
that can discern if a product, such as corn syrup, is derived from
modified plants. Consequently, the cost of complying with mandatory laws
could be so prohibitive as to invite dishonesty at several levels.
Finally, some argue that labeling provides consumers with a choice. In
fact, in Europe, labeling has had the opposite effect those who do not
object to purchasing GM food can no longer find suppliers bold enough to
sell it.

The ASCB has a strong commitment to educating the public about science in
general and the science of cell biology and genetics in particular. We
believe that better public education will help allay many unfounded
fears of non-existent dangers associated with genetic modification of
food sources. We recommend investments in resources in supporting such
educational efforts.

The ASCB believes it is important to protect research with GM crops from
unnecessary restriction. This research could have far-reaching benefits
for human health. In view of the current regulatory controls with
regard to GM products, it is critical to avoid legislation that would
slow the development of this important technology.

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