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May 17, 2000


3 contributions


AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org, http://agbioview.listbot.com

Date: May 17 2000 19:29:10 EDT
From: "Geoffrey Wollaston"
Subject: Reith Lectures. Final Debate. BBC..17.05.00.


So far as GM is concerned, what has come out of this fascinating series of
lectures for me is that GM continues to be treated with unreasoned scorn
and fear, not only by the media and those reaping extra profits from
growing and sale of dearer "organic" food, but by a few influential people
able to influence large numbers of people through their position.. But
the view they propound seems to hinge largely on the meaning attached to
the catch-phrase "Sustainable Development" which Prince Charles amongst
many others put forward as the main prerequisite for the future of
agriculture. He and some of the participating lecturers, seem to be
motivated by a belief that nature unaided and "organic farming" are the
only moral way of acting as responsible caretakers of the Earth whilst
feeding the growing world population and ensuring the maximum survival of
biodiversity. Is it really necessary to maintain 20,000 separate poor
varieties of rice? Is such a figure provable anyway? Their view presents
GM and "organic" farming as opposites which of course they are not. The
choice remains to be taken by the grower. . There is nothing which ordains
that a GM plant must be artificially fertilised or treated with chemical
pesticides. But how can they dare to imply that an agricultural system
based upon GM plants is less sustainable than one based on mediaeval type
seeds and the agricultural practices of subsistence farmers. GMOs,
hybrids and selected strains of plants can and must be allowed to exist
side by side, and for some to seek to inhibit or worse still prohibit, the
development of novel and better food plants through GM should leave them
deeply ashamed on moral grounds that they will have assisted in adding to
the human death toll through malnutrition and disease. Population control
is of course even more important, and was never mentioned in the final
debate. Best thanks Dr.Prakash, for running this discussion group,
which to a novice, is proving of enormous

G Woolaston.

Date: May 18 2000 04:11:37 EDT
From: "N.R. CLARK"
Subject: Letters to the guardian

It worked, they published letters from Alex Avery, Prof Anthony Trewavas
and Roger Franklin.
They might not do a lot to rectify the damage that the orginal article did
but it is a start, and from a very anit GMO paper better than nothing.
They also has responses to Prince Charles, 'reasoning' eight
letters, all saying he talking gibberish.

Nicholas Clark
N Clark bgy7nrc@leeds.ac.uk

Date: May 18 2000 08:26:58 EDT
From: Lin Edo
Subject: RE: PSRAST scientists and Dr. Joe Cummins

I think Dr. Koch is absolutely right to be cautious with PSRAST. Even
stronger sentiments are needed if we consider the invitation to sign their
petition for a moratorium which was circulated by their main
organizer Jan Surkuula in March. See the text below.

To invite scientists and other qualified professionals to sign on an issue
which is "simple and takes only a few minutes to understand" seems
suicidal to any credibility you might want to establish!

It is therefore interesting that PSRAST claims 200 signatures but that
there is no list available of those who have signed.

At least Prakash can show a list of people who have nothing to hide.

Edo Lin


Below a number of objections and brief counter arguments with links to

I am not a specialist on this field. I don't feel competent to sign.

1. The issue is very simple and does not require any specialist competence
to understand. It takes only a few minutes of study of the facts to
realize why withdrawal is necessary.
a) It is very obvious that "substantial equivalence" is an invalid
unscientific safety criterion (actually being a judical invention to
facilitate rapid GE food approval), see http://www.psrast.org/subeqow.htm
("Substantial equivalence versus scientific food safety assessment").
b) It is a scientifically established fact that artificial insertion of
genes may cause completely unexpected metabolic disturbances that may
result in harmful substances, see http://www.psrast.org/defknfood.htm
("Is there enough knowledge about effects of GE foods to make it possible
to estimate their safety?"). Recently unearthed secret documents show that
this has been recognized even by FDA and EU experts, see
c) It is a fact, recognized by all experts, that it is much more difficult
to assess the safety of food than to assess drug safety. Over 10% of drugs
that "pass" billion dollar safety assessment programs still turn out to
have serious side-effects, see http://www.psrast.org/molbreli.htm ("No
safety assessment methods are fully reliable"). Only very careful long
term studies can detect harmful substances in GE foods. - The very
superficial testing, accepted in the case of substantial equivalence is
completely unreliable. Yet, all GE foods on the market have been approved
on the basis of such testing. "Potentially disastrous effects may come
from undetected harmful substances in Genetically Modified Foods." (Dr
Andrew Chesson, vice chairman of European Commission scientific committee
on animal nutrition and formerly an ardent advocate of food biotechnology.
Daily Mail, UK, 13 Sept 1999).
2. This open letter is meant to be a demonstration by qualified
professionals with academic background. Biotech advocates and PR firms
have worked hard to make governements believe that GMO resistance is
only an expression of consumer ignorance and irrational fears for new
technologies. Our letter disqualifies this key argument and points to
scientific reasons for withdrawal.
3. Very few specialists dare to sign because a large part of the research
related to the issue is sponsored by the biotech industry. To backup them,
we need the participation of a large number of qualified professionals
with academic background.

> -----Message d'origine-----
> De: Muffy Koch [SMTP:mk000005@pixie.co.za]
> Date: mercredi 17 mai 2000 09:25
> : AgBioView
> Objet: PSRAST scientists and Dr. Joe Cummins
> AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org, http://agbioview.listbot.com
> I would encourage readers to be cautious about the credibility of some
> of
> the PSRAST scientists and give the following personal experience as an
> example: