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Date:

March 2, 2006

Subject:

Clinton to Speak at BIO; Hysteria is Not Helpful; God and the GM; Liability Legislation Woes; Bullsh!t Video on Vandana

 

Today in AgBioView from http://www.agbioworld.org - March 2, 2006

* Bill Clinton to Speak at BIO 2006
* Frankenfood? Hysteria is Not a Helpful Criticism
* God and the New Foodstuffs
* Proposed Liability Legislation for Transgenic Crops
* China Intends to Push for GM Crop Studies
* United Nations Biosafety Meeting in Brazil
* Bangalore Bio 2006
* Bullsh!t - Documentary on Vandana
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Former President Bill Clinton to Speak at BIO 2006

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is pleased to announce that the Former President Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, will deliver a plenary address in Chicago at BIO 2006, the world's largest biotechnology convention.

"We are honored that President Clinton will address the delegates who come from across the globe to our conference. President Clinton is a tireless advocate for many of the challenging issues that face mankind such as global health, and ending poverty and hunger in developing nations," said Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

To register http://www.bio.org/events/2006/reg

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BIO 2006 to Highlight the Future of Plant and Animal Biotechnology Benefits

As farmers enter the second decade of commercial plantings of biotech crops, the BIO 2006 Annual International Convention will highlight the future of agricultural biotechnology. Conference attendees will learn how new applications of biotechnology will increase food production, improve plant and animal health, and provide consumers with healthier foods during the 14th annual international convention, April 9-12, 2006 at McCormick Place in Chicago, which is sponsored by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

"In the ten years since biotech crops have first been grown, the environment, farmers, and consumers worldwide have enjoyed many new benefits," said Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of BIO. Biotech crops are widely accepted by farmers in 21 countries, and have had an enormous global economic impact. Few technologies have had the extraordinary acceptance and growth rate that biotech crops have enjoyed.

"Agricultural biotechnology has changed the way farmers grow crops, and raise and breed livestock and poultry. The next generation of biotech products will offer consumers increased nutrition and health benefits, such as cereals and corns with improved protein quality, and soybeans that produce healthier oils with reduced saturated fat and trans fats."

The following sessions on food and agriculture issues will take place http://www.bio.org/events/2006/speakers/sessionlist.asp?id=13

Monday, April 10, 2006
A Decade of Experience with Plant Biotech: What’s Been Gained, What’s Been Learned, What Does the Future Hold? — 9:15 – 10:45 a.m.
Impact of Genomics on Animal Agriculture — 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
What’s In Store: The Next Generation of Biotech Benefits — 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Agricultural Biotechnology and the Consumer — 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Consumer Opinion’s Impact on Regulation, Marketing, Finding and Business Survivability in Animal Biotech — 9:15 – 10:45 a.m.
Agricultural Applications of Transgenic Livestock — 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Livestock Cloning: Producer Applications, Consumer Benefits — 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Development of Food and Agriculture Biotechnology in Three Latin American Countries — 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Adventitious Presence — Global Reality Behind the Forces of Nature — 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Animal ID and DNA Verification: Their Role in Health, Safety, Quality and Consistency — 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Plant-Made Pharmaceuticals — Challenges and Opportunities — 9:15 – 10:45 a.m.
Future Directions for Ag Biotech: Keys to Successful Partnerships — 9:15 – 10:45 a.m.
Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop for Crops — 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Driving New Vaccine Technologies from Concept to Market: The Animal Health Model — 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Measuring the Value of Agricultural IP: What’s It Worth? — 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Stem Cells in Plant Biotechnology — Industrial Use and Scientific Value — 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Charting a Course to the Global Marketplace: A Dash of Clarity, a Dose of Complexity and a Boatload of Biotech Grain — 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

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Frankenfood? Hysteria is Not a Helpful Criticism

- Nima Sanandaji & Tomas Brandburg, New Libertarian, March 2006
http://www.neolibertarian.net/articles/sanandaji_20060301.aspx

Plant breeding through modern genetic methods is a technology that has many clear advantages to consumers, farmers, the food industry and also to nature. Through genetic modification plants can gain improved resistance against vermin, produce enhanced harvests and become more nutritious. Genetic modification of plants can also increase the productivity of farming land.

Hundreds of millions of people have consumed genetically modified (GM) products, and there is no substantial indication that this technology might be harmful to consumers. Indeed, from a theoretical perspective, there is no reason to assume that the consumption of genetically modified crops would be more risky than consumption of crops developed by traditional breeding methods.

Although genetically modified plants have been successfully marketed in the United States, consumers in the European Union have shown little enthusiasm. A plausible explanation is that genetically modified foods challenge traditional European ideas about food. People have powerful cultural attachments to food and are sceptical towards products from genetically modified organisms (GMO), even though science and experience tells us that these products are safe. The cultural barriers against GM foods are something that one might expect would decline with time. Since European consumers still remain sceptical towards GM foods one must look at another factor - the constant attacks from environmental anti-GMO organizations.

Scare tactics
The scare tactics of the environmental movements have played an important role in forming a mental picture of genetically modified crops as "Frankenfoods". One of the best illustrations of this is how Greenpeace Nordic has a tomato with a human embryo inside it as their 'logo' for their anti-GMO agenda. This picture clearly demonstrates the strategy to rely on people's lack of knowledge in order to attack GM foods. Most people have very little knowledge about genetic modifications and can thus be convinced that there is something terribly 'wrong' with GM foods.

This logo might be distasteful and of course very provoking for pregnant women (not to mention women who have recently had a miscarriage), but it is also very unscientific. Human genes are not inserted into tomatoes and even if they were, there would be absolutely nothing "human" whatsoever about the outcome. A prerequisite for human life is at the very least one human cell. Genes cannot be considered as life, since they consist of large but chemically uncomplicated chains of acids.

It is true, however, that scientists can transfer some genes from an organism into another. However, genes have been transferred between organisms billions upon billions of times in the course of evolution. It is also worth mentioning that traditional breeding of plants involves massive mixing of genes and also frequently induction of random mutations.

Perhaps anti-GMO organizations would change their minds if their members understood that many genes that we have in our bodies are in nearly identical forms present in thousands of other species. We even have many genes in common with plants cells. This is not a coincidence, since the chemistry of life is similar in all living organisms and we have all evolved from a common ancestor.

But is there ever a reason to insert human genes inserted into other organisms? Yes. Particularly in order to produce medicine for humans. For instance, a hormone that some people lack in their bodies has been inserted into a microorganism that produces it in excess. The hormone can thus be extracted from the cells. This is a very useful technique, which turns small organisms into biological "medicine factories". One cannot produce average size proteins in a sterile laboratory, only living organisms can do that. The same people that attack GMO when it comes to food items should consider if they are ready to abandon modern medicine based on GMO technology as well.

The ecological society
But doesn't genetic modification of organisms go against the vision of an ecological society? This really depends on what you mean by an ecological society. As stated above, genetic modification is very important in medicine production. There are, as mentioned above, significant advantages with transgenic crops and further improvements may in the long run be very beneficial to for instance developing countries. For instance, new applications may in the future allow for cultivation of arid areas, which would be interesting for many poor countries.

However, to many environmentalists, an ecological society is based on a romanticized image of returning to more primitive farming technology. It should be noted that there are many problems with returning to "traditional" farming techniques, such as more expensive food and harder work load for farmers. Not least would it be more difficult to feed the world population if less modern farming methods were applied. Returning to more traditional farming technology means that much more farming land has to be used in order to produce a certain amount of food.

If the aim is to reduce the impact of humans on nature, one should actively support modern farming technology. This is particularly true for the promising field of GMO foods, where enhanced biological qualities of plants might lead to less chemicals used in farming and more harvests gained. Again, environmentalists seem to base the critics against GM foods on emotions rather than facts, otherwise they should at least be partially in favour of them due to environmental concerns.

The safety issue
Perhaps the most popular claim from anti-GMO groups is that GM foods are not safe to consume. Considering that a large portion of the global population has been consuming GM foods for many years and that the technology has never been proven to be harmful to consumers, organizations such as Greenpeace find it difficult to make a strong case.

However, the anti-GMO groups resort to psychological strategies. If merchandise seems somehow new or unnatural and you know very little about the science behind it, a campaign from an anti-GMO may convince you that there is something suspicious about the item. The feeling that the food we consume aught to be safe is very strong and many consumers will stay away from GM foods if constantly "warned", even though there is no real science behind the warnings.

The need to communicate the facts
The anti-GMO environmentalist lobbies and the fear that they have created, have affected EU policies. There are today stringent, time demanding and costly approval procedures for genetically modified corps before they can be sold to European consumers.

Europe is today in danger of rejecting the new science of genetic modification of crops despite its benefits. It is important to communicate the message to European consumers that genetically modified crops are not mysterious, and alongside their economical benefits have potential in reducing the strain of agriculture on nature.

It is also important to communicate scientific facts about genetically modified foods to consumers and politicians, debunking the myths spread by anti-GMO lobbyists and activists. It is not unethical or wrong to develop and market safe and beneficial products. Neither is it strange or unusual to use genetic technologies, since genes are constantly modified and passed on to other species in nature and in traditional breeding methods.

The European success story has so far depended on our ability to embrace new technologies and the freedom of entrepreneurs to make the most of new innovations. If we allow the fears created by political lobbyist alongside bureaucratic regulations to hinder genetically modified products in the European marketplace, we will be at a significant disadvantage compared to our international competitors.
_____
The responsible genetic modification of plants is neither new nor dangerous. Many characteristics, such as pest and disease resistance, have been routinely introduced into crop plants by traditional methods or sexual reproduction or cell culture procedures.
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The addition of new or different genes into an organism by recombinant DNA techniques does not inherently pose new or heightened risk relative to the modification of organisms by more traditional methods, and the relative safety of marketed products is further ensured by current regulations intended to safeguard the food supply. The novel genetic tools offer greater flexibility and precision in the modification of crop plants.
-The Declaration of Support for Agricultural Biotechnology, signed by 3,400 international scientists
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Nima Sanandaji is a PhD student in biochemistry at the University of Cambridge and the president of the Swedish freemarket think tank Captus. Tomas Brandberg is a doctor in biotechnology and assistant editor of the Captus Magazine.

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God and the New Foodstuffs

- Trey Popp, Science and Spirit, March 2006
http://www.science-spirit.org/new_detail.php?news_id=573

'Genetically modified organisms are generating a good deal of scientific and economic debate. How organized religion values this technology is anyone's guess.'

It's hard to think anything would be less controversial than a proposal to plant 150 acres of rice in the rich soil of southeastern Missouri. But last year, when a company called Ventria Bioscience won approval from the Department of Agriculture to sow a genetically engineered strain of rice containing human genes, winds of protest began to swirl. Objections sprouted up from a variety of sources--local farmers, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the brewing giant Anheuser-Busch--making allies of groups that otherwise have little in common. The prospect of a crop rejiggered to produce a protein found in human breast milk was enough to make a lot of people very uneasy.

Over the past decade, agribusiness companies have been investing heavily in recombinant DNA, or rDNA, technology, which enables them to transplant genes from one species into another. They've used this technique to make plants grow faster, produce their own pesticides, and synthesize vitamins they otherwise wouldn't. Proponents of genetically modified, or GM, organisms are aiming even higher—and some of the species combinations can seem outlandish and somehow unnatural. Arctic flounder genes, for instance, have been spliced into tomatoes to allow them to flourish in colder climes. Corn has been engineered to produce compounds that can be used in pharmaceuticals.

Some scientists and environmentalists fear GM crops may have unforeseen consequences. Many organic and small-scale farmers see the new crops as an economic threat; there have been cases in which GM corn has contaminated nearby fields, ruining the market value of neighboring crops. Some social justice activists assert that a precious few wealthy companies reap the benefits of GM crops at the expense of farmers and consumers. Opposition to GM rice has, for the moment, thwarted Ventria's plans in Missouri, as well as California--and the onset of winter postponed further arguments--but GM food remains an issue that is complicated and hotly contested, qualities that make the relative silence emanating from religious organizations all the more peculiar.

From the Vatican to the National Association of Evangelicals, mum seems to be the word on what many observers consider to be one of the most pressing ethical and spiritual questions of the day, leaving those looking for guidance on the issue at a bit of a loss. For the most part, the debate is currently limited to theologians and ethicists in the academic world, who have yet to reach a consensus on what criteria should be used to judge the appropriateness of using this rapidly advancing technology.

There is a considerable diversity of approaches to be found among these thinkers, but two major fault lines separate them. Curiously, the fault lines do not reflect the intellectual border separating liberals from conservatives, or even the divide between judgements based on Scripture and those informed by pragmatism. Instead, what's emerging is a faith-based fissure separating people who generally trust technology from those who express skepticism, as well as a divide separating the interests of industrialized countries from the concerns of developing ones.

Sam Gregg, whose perspective is shared by many others who look to the Bible for counsel on ethical issues, finds a mandate for the agricultural application of rDNA technology in the book of Genesis and believes it may be a powerful tool to help the least fortunate among us.

"Using and altering things of the world for use by human beings, be it food or animals or minerals or whatever, is, in principle, what humans are supposed to be doing," says Gregg, who has written extensively about the intersection of theology and economics and is currently research director of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, a think tank that promotes individual liberty and limited government. "There's an imperative in Christianity in particular, but also in Judaism and Islam, of helping the poor and dealing with questions about poverty and hunger. Hunger is something that afflicts the developing world in particular. Genetically modified food has the potential to radically transform that situation."

Gregg is well aware that GM foods are neither the only nor the most crucial solution to poverty and hunger. Challenges like ending corruption, establishing rule of law, and protecting private property in the developing world are more fundamental, he says. Furthermore, he unambiguously places his faith in the private sector rather than in sovereign states when it comes to controlling the means and methods of GM food production.

But that's not the only way to interpret Scripture. Calvin DeWitt, president of the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, which designs curricula for Christian universities, sees things in a radically different way. "I think both from an evolutionary biology standpoint and from a standpoint of the Scripture, the belief is that moving genes across taxa--across species, genera, and families--is a kind of abuse of our knowledge of genetics, generally driven not by respect for how creation operates or how biological systems operate, but strictly driven by questions of greed or hubris," he explains.

As a conservationist and an avid student of evolutionary biology, DeWitt feels that science and Scripture coincide strongly in the case of GM foods. "What you discover as you study biotic communities and the ecosystems of which they're a part is that this whole assemblage of different species has historically worked together through time," he says. Pointing to instances in which invasive species have destabilized ecosystems and pushed outmatched competitors to extinction, DeWitt is highly skeptical that humans have the wisdom to play God by shifting around genes in ways that are impossible in nature.

DeWitt, like Gregg, draws from Genesis to inform his judgement on rDNA technology. But where Gregg privileges the book's instruction to "fill the earth and conquer it," DeWitt turns to the story of Noah and the ark to make the opposite case. "There is not much concern for individuals when Noah is asked to put animals on the ark two by two," he observes. "The emphasis is on lineage. And although, at the time that was written, there wasn't the terminology to say that these are genetic lineages, they in fact are, of course. These lineages are creations of the Creator, and they are…gifts to the whole of creation."

For all the possibilities of grounding judgements about rDNA technology in strictly scriptural terms, practicality seems to outweigh pure theology for other religious thinkers. Avram Reisner is a member of the Rabbinical Assembly's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards and its subcommittee on biomedical ethics. In the late 1990s, he wrote an influential opinion about GM foods and the laws of kashrut, the dietary regulations of Judaism. Using the analogy of medical organ transplants, he argued that injecting an insect gene into a tomato, for instance, does not necessarily render the vegetable unkosher.

"Judaism is very pragmatic. It believes in medicine. It believes in bettering the human condition," Reisner says. "The [question] is: Are you being sufficiently cautious about seeing the ramifications and determining what is beneficial and what is harmful?"

The concern over being sufficiently cautious is widespread. "In one way, this is a matter of science, to determine whether or not what's being done is harmful to the human species or to animals," says James Walter, a theologian and chairman of the Bioethics Institute at Loyola Marymount University. "Doing things precipitously is always, in my mind, a moral failure."

Here, the matter comes back to whether rDNA technology really is an effective way to alleviate hunger--bringing us to the gulf between rich and poor countries. "It's not really an issue of genetically modified foods," Reisner asserts. "It's really an issue of the nature of capitalism and commerce, about the wealthier strata of society capitalizing on the progress that we make and shutting out the poor."

In some instances, companies are using rDNA technology as part of a strategy that makes farmers even more beholden to them. The most commonly cited example is the so-called "terminator gene," developed by Monsanto, which renders the seeds of one of the company's patented plants sterile and prevents farmers from sowing next season's crop from last season's seeds. Obviously, a plan to turn a farmer's one-time investment in seeds into a yearly purchase is not going to do much good when it comes to easing the burden on the poor or alleviating global hunger.

"The corporate imperative was clear, and the needs of the farmer were clear, and they were clashing," Reisner observes. "But those aren't problems that stem from technology, they're problems that stem from inequality of power in the system that the world's doing business in."

For similar reasons, Roland Lesseps has been outspoken in his support for the ban on GM crops in Zambia. While proponents of GM organisms emphasize the potential to increase global food production, Lesseps, a Jesuit scientist at the Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre in Zambia's capital city of Lusaka, counters that there need not be a shortage of food in the first place.

"The surest path toward elimination of hunger and malnutrition is to eliminate poverty and the unjust social structures that underlie it," he says. "These social and economic inequalities will not be remedied, but will only be made worse, by [GM] crops." While Gregg considers increased corporate control of agriculture in a place like Zambia to be a forward step, in Lesseps' view, it is a development that could spell ruin.

If neither a scriptural nor a pragmatic approach to the rDNA technology debate leads to a coherent and consistent determination about GM foods, perhaps the more fruitful course is a paradoxical one: to take the focus off the technology altogether. That is the forceful recommendation of Robert Pollack, a molecular biologist and director of the Center for the Study of Science and Religion at Columbia University in New York.

"We sin deeply by not caring for the poorest of the world. Against that sin, this is just a boutique side issue. It is of no interest in religious terms. Nothing bad is done if these tools are used to help people who can't help themselves," he says.

But Pollack's agnosticism toward rDNA technology is complemented by a religious commitment whose strength rests in its unflinching call for us all to take responsibility, on a global scale, for both the actions of the rich and the plight of the poor. "A religion's guidance comes toward a proper act; it does not come toward a judgement of the tool," he declares. "We are the tool."

GM food has already become a multibillion-dollar business. It has reared its head in both small-claims legal disputes and world trade negotiations, in which the different stances of various countries have made it a frequent point of contention. Thus far, companies with vested interests in the technology have largely determined its development and application.

A more well-rounded and considered approach will require continued input from scientists, environmentalists, and policymakers--but also from ethicists, theologians, and philosophers, drawing from a wide array of moral traditions. When the stakes include hunger, poverty, ecological risks, and unforeseen consequences, the more guidance we have toward the proper act, the better.
---
Trey Popp is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia and a regular contributor to Science & Spirit.

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Playing God or Improving Human Lives?

Religious, Moral and Ethical Perspectives on Food Biotechnology

A Collection of articles and postings from the AgBioView Newsletter
http://www.agbioworld.org/biotech-info/religion/index.html

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Proposed Liability Legislation for Transgenic Crops

- Drew L. Kershen, ABA Agricultural Management Comm. Newsletter, Vol 10 (2), 7-11 Feb. 2006
Full doc. at http://www.abanet.org/environ/committees/agricult/newsletter/feb06/agmgmt0206.pdf

During the legislative sessions that began in January2005, the legislatures of several states (e.g., California,Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota and Vermont) dealt with bills that, if they were enacted into law, would have imposed liability for transgenic crops upon the manufacturer of the transgenic crop. While each of these bills had wording unique to the individual states,the pattern, key definitions and the substantive provisions of the bills were very similar overall and, quite often, contained identical specific language.

Each of these bills emerged from the Center for Food Safety (CFS) founded by Andrew Kimbrell, a long-time opponent of agricultural biotechnology who previously worked with Jeremy Rifkin at the Foundation for Economic Trends. Joseph Mendelson, legal director at CFS, was the lead drafter of the "model" bill. The Center for Food Safety then sought sponsors to introduce the bill into the legislatures of the several states.

For purposes of this article, the author focuses on California Assembly Bill (A.B.) 984 (introduced by Member Laird, using the April 25, 2005 version) and Vermont (Senate Bill) S. 18 (introduced by Sen. Campbell, using the version referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture in February 2005) to discuss their provisions and their impact upon agriculture.

If these proposed bills were to be enacted, the impact upon transgenic agriculture would be great because it is not clear that manufacturers would be willing to bear the legal liability risks that these bills impose. Upon careful reading of these bills, it becomes clear that the Center for Food Safety sees these bills not necessarily as a mechanism for obtaining legal redress for pure economic loss. Rather, the Center for Food Safety sees these bills as having the potential of driving transgenic agriculture completely from the agricultural sector. The real issue of these bills is not about liability.The real issue of these bills is about the future of agricultural biotechnology and, more broadly, the future of technological innovation for our society.

--
Drew Kershen is Earl Sneed Centennial Professorof Law, University of Oklahoma, College of Law.

(Editor's Note: As this issue went to press, Vermont'sHouse of Representatives rejected strict liability language and adopted a bill codifying existing right to farm case law. See, BIO Statement: Vermont House of Representatives Affirms Protection for Farmers, www.bio.org).

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China Intends to Push for GM Crop Studies

- Jia Hepeng, China Daily, Feb 14, 2006, Via Vivian Moses. Full article at http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2006-02/14/content_519769.htm

China will work towards finding wider applications of agricultural biotechnology in the next five years because the sector's growth is important to the country's overall development. The country has already worked out its biotech development strategy for the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10), according to Qi Chengyuan, director of the High and New Technology Department under the National Development and Reform Committee.

Within the strategy are efforts to develop the biotechnological seeding of major crops, also called genetically modified (GM) crops. China will also increase its investment in safety monitoring. A more comprehensive and accurate safety evaluation is required for the further commercialization of GM crops.

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United Nations Biosafety Meeting in Brazil

Cartagena protocol on biosafety meets in Curitiba, Brazil from 13 to 17 March, 2006

The five-day meeting of the treaty's governing body is scheduled to take a decision on the detailed documentation requirements for bulk shipments of genetically modified corn, soybean and other agricultural commodities that are intended for food, feed or processing.

Adopted in January 2000 as a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity Biosafety, the Biosafety Protocol aims at ensuring that the transboundary movement of living modified organisms or LMOs, also commonly known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) does not adversely affect biological diversity. Risks to human health are also taken into account.

The Protocol entered into force on 11 September 2003 and so far 131 countries as well as the European Community have ratified it. The first meeting of the Parties to the Protocol, which was held in Malaysian city of Kuala Lumpur in February 2004, adopted detailed information requirements for GMOs (such as genetically engineered seeds and fish) that are destined for direct placement into the environment. The second meeting of the Parties, which took place in Montreal ended without agreement on the shipping documentation requirements for bulk shipments of living modified organisms.

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Further details at: http://www.biodiv.org/doc/meeting.aspx?mtg=MOP-03

CBD Web site: http://www.biodiv.org/biosafety and
Biosafety Clearing-House: http://bch.biodiv.org/Pilot/Home.aspx

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Bangalore Bio 2006

- June, 07-09 Bangalore, INDIA http://www.bangalorebio.in/

Bangalore Bio, India 's biggest Biotech Show, has emerged as the global destination for the entire Biotech fraternity to come together and explore networking and business opportunities. The Biotech fraternity leverages this exciting forum to showcase their products and services, transform concepts into markets, explore investment and partnering opportunities and forge new alliances in the Biotech industry globally.

Agri-Biotech Day - After a successful green revolution of the 1960s, for the first time in years, India is once again facing a food deficit and the trend is likely to continue. To meet this challenge we need to focus on Agri-Biotechnology. We can find answers to the burgeoning problems of India's Agri-tech sector by embracing Agri-biotechnology without associated ecological harm. Its thrust areas in seed, plant, soil, fertilizer etc can ensure that our country becomes a food surplus nation and also makes meaningful contribution in Bharat Nirman, the ambitious initiative taken up by the Government of India to strengthen the Rural Sector.
Keeping this in mind, Bangalore Bio 2006 will give special thrust to Agri-biotechnology, with a full day special session.

Agri-Biotechnology in India: Current Challenges and Future Opportunities: Transgenic crops and Agri-Biotechnology ; Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals; Bio Energy and Bio Fuels; Bio fertilizers and Bio pesticides; IPR, Safety and Regulatory issues


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Bullsh!t

- Documentary, 73 min 2005, Swedish Film Institute

http://www.idfa.nl/idfa_en_filmdescription.asp?filmid=17952

Barun Mitra, an ardent lobbyist for neo-liberal globalisation, once presented the Indian alternative globalist Vandana Shiva with the Bullsh!t Award for Sustaining Poverty, because she was talking "bullsh!t" about the negative consequences of globalisation. Shiva mockingly retorted that "cow dung is the most beautiful material." In her ecological training institute Navdanya in India, which counts 20,000 members, the roof is made of cow dung. Starting there, the filmmakers follow the tireless activist for two years in her worldwide battle against the leaders of globalisation.

She attends the unsuccessful summit of the World Trade Organisation in Cancun, Mexico, visits the Tibetan community in exile in Indian Dharmsala, and attends a meeting of the European Union in Copenhagen. At the European Patent Office in Munich, she successfully contests a patent on an Indian seed that was granted to the multinational Monsanto. In addition, she holds this company responsible for the high suicide rate among poor farmers who are indebted to it.

The filmmakers interview the farmers' surviving relatives, but also introduce Shiva's opponents, including the vice-president of Monsanto, a directing manager of Coca Cola and Barun Mitra, who meets Shiva once more in front of the camera.

More on Bullsh!t - http://www.navdanya.org/earthdcracy/food/bullshit.pdf

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