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June 4, 2000


CID, IFIC, biodiversity, Africa


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

Subj: [tech.cid] Technology Update
Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000 2:38:23 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: "derya honca"




Assessing the precautionary principle
Ed Soule, Ph.D., Assistant Professor,
McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Are the policy implications of the precautionary principle coherent?
Gary Comstock, Ph.D., Program Coordinator of the Bioethics Program,
Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa


Perkins Room, 4th floor, One Eliot Street, 12:00-2:00 p.m.
(From the corner of JFK and Eliot Street, turn onto Eliot and enter the
KSG Courtyard. Go to the back building on the right. The address is marked
over the main entrance.)

**June 5, 2000
Will Masters, Visiting Scholar, Center for International Development
Technical change in African agriculture

**June 21, 2000
Ortwin Renn, Professor and Chair of the Center for Technology Assessment,
Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Public perception of biotechnology in Europe: Resistance to modernization?

**June 23, 2000
Frank Rijsberman, Director-General of the International Water Management
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Global Water Scarcity and Food Production: Public Policy Challenges and

**September 22-23, 2000
Biotechnology in the Global Economy: Science and the Precautionary



The aim of this is to announce updates to our website and forthcoming
hosted by the Science, Technology and Innovation Program, a joint
activity of
the Center for International Development at Harvard University and the
Science, Technology and Public Policy Program at the Belfer Center for
Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.

Subj: IFIC Announcement
Date: Sat, 3 Jun 2000 10:17:39 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Cheryl Toner

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) is pleased to announce
the release of a new biotechnology communications tool for leaders in food
and agriculture:

Food Biotechnology: A Communications Guide to Improving Understanding

This speaker's manual is designed to help communicators effectively
address questions and concerns about the future of food biotechnology in
the United States. Included is a pre-/ post-assessment of understanding,
an overview of key messages, a concise Power Point presentation, tips for
interacting with the media and a wide range of resources for speaking
publicly about food biotechnology.

For more information, contact Cheryl Toner at IFIC: (202) 296-6540.
Further information about the manual and other IFIC educational and
communications materials are also available on the IFIC web site:

Subj: Re: food distribution, science and belief
Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000 3:41:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Bob MacGregor

I enjoyed the article by Jonathan Jones and want to comment on the
biodiversity issue. I remember reading last year some comments from
British anti-GE folks who feared loss of wild diversity if farmers
acquired better tools for managing weeds and insect pests. At the time,
I wondered if these folks might advocate a sort of environmental tithe for
farmers wherein they would accept a loss of productivity in order to
assure that corn worms and potato beetles, and the things that feed on
them, have a home. It is inconceivable that food for 6 billion humans
could be produced without intensive, monotype cropping. If we wish to
minimize the impact on non-crop nature, we need to assure the most food
produced on the smallest area; organic agriculture will not move us toward
that goal. Finally, I want to quote the last paragraph from a recent,
short New Scientist article on the resurgence of boll weevils in the
American South: (pg. 17, 15 April 2000; entomologist from Clemson
University in South Carolina Mitchell Roof)..."stresses that extra
vigilance is a small price to pay for the benefits of GM cotton.
Beneficial insects such as ladybirds, which kill pests, have returned in
droves to the fields where the GM cotton
is grown. Coupled with the effects of the Bt toxin, this has let farmers
reduce the typical number of pesticide applications from 14 to 2 per

'The pluses far outweigh the minuses.' "
This kind of technology is a step which lets us maximize the efficiency
of output that is desirable for humans (ie, food and fiber) without
unnecessarily harming those species which aren't competing with us for our
crop or the land it grows on (ie, crop pests and weeds). It is a false
environmental economy to create an inefficient, extensive agriculture in
order to support a crop-pest-based ecology.

Subj: Re: Biotech for Africa
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2000 12:59:24 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Muffy Koch

In response to Abigail and Gale re Food production and Food distribution:

The best biotech can do for Africa (and perhaps other developing lands) is
help us develop farming systems that enable us to grow our own food. I
have no doubt that GM seed will make a major contribution to this

However, the best germplasm for Africa resides primarily in African
collections. This will necessitate technology transfer and public-private
partenerships for major and minor crops. It is probably unfair to say the
multinationals are not interested in biotech for crops favoured by
developing countries. Off the top of my head I can think of at least 6
technology transfer projects directed at developing country crops using
technology donated by multinationals. These projects arise where the crop
is of no major economic importance to the company, but critical to food
security in the region.

Once North American farmers have the option of producing high volume, low
value commodities or high volume, high value specialist crops (nutrition,
pharmaceuticals, bioplastics, etc.), which do you think they will grow?
This suggests that we can expect a major switch to non-commodity crop
production in the West in the future. As developing countries, we need to
assess what impact this will have on us. Even more reason to ensure that
we use biotechnology to improve food production in Africa.

The major stumbling block to securing GM seed/planting material for
African crops will be the cost of the biosafety proceedures we see as
essential for the safe implementation of the technology.

Mrs Muffy Koch
South Africa