Home Page Link AgBioWorld Home Page
About AgBioWorld Donations Ag-Biotech News Declaration Supporting Agricultural Biotechnology Ag-biotech Info Experts on Agricultural Biotechnology Contact Links Subscribe to AgBioView Home Page

AgBioView Archives

A daily collection of news and commentaries on
ag-biotech.


Subscribe AgBioView Subscribe

Search AgBioWorld Search

AgBioView Archives

Subscribe

 


SEARCH:     

Date:

October 2, 2006

Subject:

WTO Final Ruling - EU's Biotech Ban Illegal; Controlling Insects; Vitamin A Boost; Gene switch for drought-resistance; Pharming in Denmark

 

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

* Ruling in WTO Case on Agricultural Biotechnology
* WTO Finds EU's Five-Year Biotech-Seed Ban Was Illegal
* WTO sides with U.S. in GMO dispute with EU
* WTO condemns EU's genetic food ban
* Transgenic plants for insect pest control: a forward looking scientific perspective
* Rodents Get Vitamin A Boost from New Biofortified Maize
* Evaluation of allergenicity of genetically modified soybean
* Gene switch makes crops drought-resistant when needed
* Transgenic crops in the pipeline: Pawar
* Pharming in Denmark
--

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns Announce Favorable Ruling in WTO Case on Agricultural Biotechnology

09/29/2006

WASHINGTON - U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab and Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled in favor of the United States, Argentina, and Canada in their WTO case against the European Union (EU) over its illegal moratorium on approving agricultural biotech products and unjustified EU member - state bans of previously approved products.

"The WTO has ruled in favor of science-based policymaking over the unjustified, anti-biotech policies adopted in the EU," Ambassador Schwab said. "After eight years of legal wrangling and stalling by Europe, we are a step closer to clearing barriers faced by U.S. agricultural producers and expanding global use of promising advances in food production."

The United States brought a WTO challenge in May 2003, after five years of delays by the EU in complying with WTO rules as well as its own procedures and the recommendations of its own scientists. The WTO report issued today is the longest in the history of the WTO.

"Today’s decision affirms what the world’s farmers have known about biotechnology for many years," Johanns said. "Since the first biotechnology crops were commercialized in 1996, we’ve seen double-digit increases in their adoption every single year. Biotechnology crops not only are helping to meet the world’s food needs, they also are having a positive environmental impact on our soil and water resources. Farmers who grow biotechnology crops in 21 countries around the world, including 5 in the EU, stand to benefit from today's decision."

In addition to the EU’s across-the-board moratorium on product approvals, the WTO case challenged product bans imposed by six EU Member States (Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Luxembourg) on seven of the biotech crops approved by the EU prior to the adoption of the moratorium. In each case, the panel upheld the United States’ claims that, in light of positive safety assessments issued by the EU’s own scientists, the Member State bans were not supported by scientific evidence and were thus inconsistent with WTO rules.

Although the EU approved a handful of biotech applications following the initiation of the case in 2003, the EU has yet to lift the moratorium in its entirety. Some biotech product applications have been pending for 10 years or more, and applications for many commercially important products continue to face unjustified, politically-motivated delays.

"I urge the EU to fully comply with its WTO obligations, and consider all outstanding biotech product applications, and evaluate their scientific merits in accordance with the EU’s own laws, without undue delay," Schwab added.

Despite the EU’s moratorium, there is considerable support for agricultural biotechnology within the EU. The United States looks forward to working with European trading partners to enhance the availability of this technology to farmers and consumers throughout the world.

Agricultural biotechnology promotes economic development, and has delivered on its promise to feed a hungry world, increase product yields, reduce pesticide use, improve nutrition and disease prevention, enhance food security, and increase incomes of farmers—most of whom are in the developing world. Agricultural biotechnology is a continuation of the long tradition of agricultural innovation that has provided the basis for rising prosperity for the past millennium.

Numerous organizations, researchers and scientists have determined that biotech foods pose no threat to humans or the environment. These include the French Academy of Sciences, the 3,200 scientists who cosponsored a declaration on biotech foods, and numerous scientific studies – including a joint study conducted by seven national academies of science (the National Academies of Science of the United States, Brazil, China, India, and Mexico, plus the Royal Society of London and the Third World Academy of Sciences).

Worldwide use of biotech crops has continued to grow. About 222 million acres were planted with biotech crops in 2005, up from 200 million acres in 2004. Of this, over one-third was in developing countries. Biotech crops were grown by approximately 8.5 million farmers in the same year, with about 90 percent from developing countries.

Leading producers of biotech crops include the United States, with approximately 123 million acres under cultivation in 2005, followed by Argentina, with 42 million acres; Brazil, with 23 million acres: Canada, with 14 million acres; and China, with 8 million acres. Other countries growing biotech crops include India, Iran, Philippines, Australia, South Africa, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Czech Republic, Romania, Portugal, Spain, France, and Germany.

Background:
Since the late 1990s, the EU has pursued policies that undermine agricultural biotechnology and trade in biotech foods. First, six member states (Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Luxemburg) banned biotech crops approved by the EU, and the EU Commission refused to challenge the illegal bans. After October 1998, the EU adopted an across-the-board moratorium under which no biotech application was allowed to reach final approval. This moratorium has caused a growing portion of U.S. agricultural exports to be excluded from EU markets, and has unfairly cast concerns about biotech products around the world, particularly in developing countries.

In May 2003, the United States, Argentina, and Canada took the first step in the WTO dispute by requesting consultations with the EU. The consultations did not result in a resolution of the dispute. In August 2003, the United States, Argentina, and Canada requested the establishment of a dispute settlement panel. Over the three-year course of the dispute, the disputing parties submitted hundreds of pages of briefs and dozens of factual exhibits. The panel also called upon a slate of six independent scientific experts, who submitted hundreds of pages of materials and spent two days with the panel and the parties to opine on scientific issues related to the dispute. The result is a comprehensive panel report of over 1,000 pages in length, with additional hundreds of pages of annexes. The report is publicly available on the WTO website, www.wto.org. In addition, the submissions of the United States in the dispute are publicly available on the USTR website here.

Under WTO rules, the panel report will be adopted by the WTO membership within sixty days, unless one or more of the disputing parties decides to initiate an appeal. If the report is appealed, the WTO Appellate Body will issue its report within approximately 90 days of the appeal.

The WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) recognizes that countries are entitled to regulate crops and food products to protect health and the environment. The WTO SPS Agreement requires, however, that members have sufficient scientific evidence for their SPS measures and that they operate their approval procedures without "undue delay." Otherwise, there is a risk countries may without justification use such regulations to thwart trade in safe, wholesome, and nutritious products.

Before 1999, the EU approved nine agriculture biotech products for planting or import. It then adopted a moratorium under which no applications were allowed to reach a final decision. The WTO Panel report issued today upholds the claims of the United States, Argentina and Canada that the EU had adopted a moratorium on approvals from 1999 through August 2003 (when the case was initiated); that the moratorium was not justified by any valid scientific or regulatory concerns; and thus that the moratorium violated the EU’s WTOobligations to consider product applications without "undue delay."

==

WTO

DISPUTE SETTLEMENT Reports out on biotech disputes 29 September 2006

The WTO, on 29 September 2006, issued the reports of the panel that had examined complaints by the United States, Canada and Argentina, respectively, against “European Communities — Measures affecting the approval and marketing of biotech products” (DS291, DS292 and DS293).

Full panel report at http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news06_e/291r_e.htm

**********************************************

WTO Finds EU's Five-Year Biotech-Seed Ban Was Illegal

- Warren Giles, BLOOMBERG NEWS, September 29, 2006 http://www.bloomberg.com/

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- World Trade Organization judges said a European Union ban on new gene-altered seeds was illegal and backed off their earlier conclusion that the bloc's five- year moratorium on new products has ended.

The ruling reaffirms preliminary decisions in February and May finding the ban, in place from 1999 to 2004, on new biotech seeds from companies such as Monsanto Co., DuPont Co. and Syngenta AG broke international trade laws. The EU has said the ruling doesn't challenge its current food approvals system because the 10 new products licensed since 2003 prove the ban is no longer in place.

The WTO decision may discourage nations ranging from India to Japan to Russia from writing stricter regulations stipulating the labeling of foods with gene-altered ingredients. The case was brought by the U.S., Argentina and Canada.

"This ruling is important, but market demand is driving accelerated adoption of biotech crops around the world,'' said Howard Minigh, former vice president of DuPont and president of Brussels-based CropLife International, which represents biotech companies. "Regulations based on political expediency and excessive precaution encouraged by propaganda from anti-biotech groups'' put producers of farm goods at a disadvantage, he said.

The EU ban, headed by nations including France, Austria and Italy, cost American exporters $300 million a year in the $5.5 billion global biotech market, U.S. industry groups have said.

Order to Comply
Today's 1,087-page report, posted on the WTO's Web site, orders the EU to comply with global trade rules because the bloc's moratorium "resulted in a failure to complete individual approval procedures without undue delay.'' Arbitrators don't question the right of the EU to carry out risk assessments before approving seeds.

Since May, when the WTO decision was completed, the EU has vowed to maintain its current system for approving genetically engineered seeds. Calls to Peter Power, trade spokesman for the European Commission, the EU's executive arm in Brussels, haven't been returned.

The U.S. argued that the EU's approval process for imports of biotech foods led to unnecessary delays resulting in a trade barrier. The EU said popular opposition -- more than half of the region's 450 million consumers consider genetically engineered foods to be dangerous, according to a June 2005 EU poll -- meant consumers were already avoiding modified foods.

'Many Losers'

The case "has created no clear winners but many losers,'' said Adrian Bebb, a campaigner against gene-modified foods at environmental group Friends of the Earth. "This trade dispute has been a pointless exercise that will change absolutely nothing'' because "Europeans will continue to reject genetically modified foods.''

The 25-nation EU grows less than 1 percent of the world's genetically modified crops, has 98 million hectares (242 million acres) of global arable land, second only to the U.S. More than 90 million hectares are sown with biotech crops, in 21 countries, with 55 percent of that total grown in the U.S.

When the initial ruling came out, the commission described it as "largely of historical interest'' and blamed national governments for continuing to obstruct new approvals.

In August, EU governments backed emergency measures requiring U.S. exporters to certify their long-grain rice shipments free of a gene-engineered variety made by Bayer CropScience AG. Bayer detected trace amounts of a biotech rice variety that was field tested between 1998 and 2001 and which tainted the 2005 crop.

The contamination prompted Japan, which bought 291,000 tons of U.S. rice in the year ended March 31, or almost half its total imports, to ban all rice from America starting Aug. 19.

**************

WTO sides with U.S. in GMO dispute with EU

- AGWEB.com http://www.agweb.com 29/9/2006

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled in favor of the United States, Argentina, and Canada in their WTO case against the European Union (EU) over its illegal moratorium on approving agricultural biotech products and unjustified EU member-state bans of previously approved products.

"Today's decision affirms what the world's farmers have known about biotechnology for many years," USDA Secretary Mike Johanns said. "Since the first biotechnology crops were commercialized in 1996, we've seen double-digit increases in their adoption every single year. Biotechnology crops not only are helping to meet the world's food needs, they also are having a positive environmental impact on our soil and water resources. Farmers who grow biotechnology crops in 21 countries around the world, including 5 in the EU, stand to benefit from today's decision."

The United States brought a WTO challenge in May 2003, after five years of delays by the EU in complying with WTO rules as well as its own procedures and the recommendations of its own scientists. The WTO report issued today is the longest in the history of the WTO.

"After eight years of legal wrangling and stalling by Europe, we are a step closer to clearing barriers faced by U.S. agricultural producers and expanding global use of promising advances in food production," U.S. Trade Rep. Susan Schwab said. "I urge the EU to fully comply with its WTO obligations, and consider all outstanding biotech product applications, and evaluate their scientific merits in accordance with the EU's own laws, without undue delay."

In addition to the EU's across-the-board moratorium on product approvals, the WTO case challenged product bans imposed by six EU Member States (Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Luxembourg) on seven of the biotech crops approved by the EU prior to the adoption of the moratorium. In each case, the panel upheld the United States' claims that, in light of positive safety assessments issued by the EU's own scientists, the Member State bans were not supported by scientific evidence and were thus inconsistent with WTO rules.

Although the EU approved a handful of biotech applications following the initiation of the case in 2003, the EU has yet to lift the moratorium in its entirety. Some biotech product applications have been pending for 10 years or more, and applications for many commercially important products continue to face unjustified, politically-motivated delays. Despite the EU's moratorium, there is considerable support for agricultural biotechnology within the EU.

**************

WTO condemns EU's genetic food ban

- Frances Williams, FINANCIAL TIMES, http://www.ft.com/ 29 September 2006

The World Trade Organisation on Friday finally made public a dispute panel verdict that the European Union's six-year moratorium on imports of genetically modified food and crops broke international trade rules.

The panel also condemned the ban by six EU members Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Luxembourg on a number of individual products previously approved by Brussels as safe.

But the 1,000-page report, the longest in WTO history, failed to uphold the main charges levelled by the US, Canada and Argentina, the world's biggest producers of genetically modified crops, and will not result in any change in current EU policy, according to officials in Brussels.

The panel decision, which largely confirms an interim ruling in February, does not touch on the key issues in the transatlantic dispute, in particular whether GM foods are safe. Nor did it question EU controls on imports of GM foods and crops or the right of countries to ban such foods or crops on health or environmental grounds.

While US consumers readily buy genetically-modified products, European consumers are generally suspicious of what have been dubbed "Frankenfoods".

Environmental groups said the report showed the WTO was not fit to judge disputes of this kind. "This trade dispute has been a pointless exercise that will change absolutely nothing," said Adrian Bebb, GM food campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe. "Europeans will continue to reject genetically modified foods."

US and EU officials said they would study the report before deciding on any appeal. They have 60 days to do so. However, diplomats said they thought an EU appeal was unlikely since the ruling left its current system of GM approvals in place.

The de facto EU moratorium, which operated between 1998 and 2004, has been lifted, since when 10 GM products have been authorised, according to the European Commission. More than 30 applications are being examined.

Most of the products involved in the dispute have been voluntarily withdrawn from the market. However, since it was brought to the WTO in 2003, Hungary, Greece, Austria and Poland have introduced new bans on GM products.

**********************************************

Transgenic plants for insect pest control: a forward looking scientific perspective

- Ferry, N., Edwards, M., Gatehouse, J., Capell, T., Christou, P., Gatehouse, A., TRANSGENIC RESEARCH, vol. 15, pages 13-19, 01 Sep 2006 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=16475006&dopt=Abstract


One of the first successes of plant biotechnology has been the creation and commercialisation of transgenic crops exhibiting resistance to major insect pests. First generation products encompassed plants with single insecticidal Bt genes with resistance against major pests of corn and cotton. Modelling studies predicted that usefulness of these resistant plants would be short-lived, as a result of the ability of insects to develop resistance against single insecticidal gene products.

However, despite such dire predictions no such collapse has taken place and the acreage of transgenic insect resistance crops has been increasing at a steady rate over the 9 years since the deployment of the first transgenic insect resistant plant. However, in order to assure durability and sustainability of resistance, novel strategies have been contemplated and are being developed. This perspective addresses a number of potentially useful strategies to assure the longevity of second and third generation insect resistant plants.

**********************************************

Rodents Get Vitamin A Boost from New Biofortified Maize

- Via Crop Biotech Update, issaa.org

Scientists from the University of Wisconsin report that maize bred to contain high concentrations of beta-carotene has indeed increased the Vitamin A status in gerbils. The study, published in the October issue of the Journal of Nutrition, reports that liver Vitamin A levels were 150% greater in gerbils fed with the maize than those of the control group, and equaled that of the group receiving the beta-carotene supplements.

The authors, Julie Howe and Sherry Tanumihardjo, also suggest that this biofortified maize could be used to tackle Vitamin A deficiency (VAD), a serious health problem in more than 50% of all countries, especially in Africa and South-East Asia.

Read the complete press release at http://www.nutraingredients.com/news/ng.asp?n=70826-
syngenta-beta-carotene-vitamin-a-deficiency-biofortication. Subscribers to the Journal of Nutrition can read the complete article, "Carotenoid-Biofortified Maize Maintains Adequate Vitamin A Status in Mongolian Gerbils" at http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/abstract/136/10/2562.

**********************************************

Evaluation of allergenicity of genetically modified soybean protein extract in a murine model of oral allergen-specific sensitization

- Gizzarelli, F.et al, CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL ALLERGY, vol. 36, pages 238-248; 01 Sep 2006 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=16433863&dopt=Abstrac

With the development of genetically modified crop plants there has been a growing interest in the approaches available to assess the potential allergenicity of novel gene products. For additional assessment of the potential allergenicity of expressed proteins, informative data can be generated using animal models. Soybean is one of the major source of protein in human and animal nutrition, and has also been well characterized as a major allergenic source. Advances in biotechnology have resulted in an increasing number of genetically engineered foods, and among these soybean is one of the most widespread.

Objective
To develop and characterize a murine model of IgE-mediated soybean sensitization induced by intragastric immunization, in the presence of Cholera Toxin, with wild-type soybean extract (wt-SE) or with genetically modified soybean extract (gm-SE). Methods Balb/c mice born in our animal facilities, from females fed on soy-free food, were fed with the same soy-free food and used in all the experiments. Mice were sensitized by gavages with soybean extracts, and allergen-specific IgE and IgG responses were studied by direct ELISA and ELISA inhibition. Antigen-specific cell proliferation and cytokine production were evaluated in spleen cell cultures. Results Sensitization with both soybean extracts induced high levels of antigen-specific IgE and IgG1 and low levels of specific IgG2a. Both wt-SE and gm-SE were able to inhibit the binding of specific IgE from mice immunized with gm-SE to the same antigen used for the ELISA coating. A comparable proliferative response was obtained with the homologous as well as with the heterologous extracts. Conclusion In sensitized mice, we observed a predominantly T-helper type 2 (Th2)-type immune response, with increased soybean-specific IgE and IgG1 antibodies and a concomitant increase of IL-4 and IL-5 production. Results obtained by specific IgE ELISA inhibition and by antigen-specific T cell proliferation demonstrated that wt-SE and gm-SE shared B and T epitopes. The present murine model of soybean sensitization established by the oral route should provide valuable information about risk assessment for food allergy from new proteins of genetically modified foods.

**********************************************

Gene switch makes crops drought-resistant when needed

- AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, September 30, 2006

St. Paul, Minnesota, - A unique type of transgenic crop could benefit food growers worldwide by turning on a gene that would resist drought -- but only when the plant begins to dry out, agricultural and food leaders in the US learned at a symposium here.

"You can make plants which are drought-resistant fairly easily," David Dennis, president and chief executive of Performance Plants, a leading Canadian plant biotechnology firm based in Kingston, Ontario, said Friday.

"The problem is that most of these drought-resistant plants don't give you a good yield when grown under good conditions, with plenty of water," he said.

Farmers would shy away from using such biotechnology because they figure if they have plenty of good weather, they will lose yield, Dennis said.

"We have a technology, a gene, that gives you a plant that's drought resistant," he said. "The system that we've developed switches on only during drought. During normal growth, if a plant's got water, the system is switched off, as if the gene wasn't there."

The technology improves the efficiency of water use under all conditions, Dennis said.

Biotech crops could help ease the annual worldwide drought loss of eight billion dollars, said Russ Sanders of Pioneer High-Bred International, based in Des Moines, Iowa.

The two seed experts spoke at a symposium on the next generation of biotechnology, sponsored by the Canadian consulate and biotech interests, the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council and the University of Minnesota. The meeting was held in St. Paul, the capital of the north-central state of Minnesota.

In the United States, Sanders said, 52 to 61 percent of farmers use biotech corn seeds, and 87 to 89 percent use biotech soybeans.

But some US consumers, and many more in Europe, have expressed concern about "Frankenfood." Still, farmers the world over are adopting such technology, and farmers in Europe are finding they cannot ignore it, Dennis said.

"Transgenic plants have now been grown on more than a billion acres around the world, and farmers are growing them on more than 200 million acres of year," Dennis said. "At some point people are going to have to say all these fears you've got, which are unfounded, are just not coming true. And the benefits are great."

Tests by Performance Plants show a surprising result: these transgenic plants could provide up to 25 percent more yield under tough drought conditions, compared to plants that did not have much drought stress, Dennis told AFP.

By modifying a single gene in the plants, Dennis said, this new kind of crop can improve yields, improve tolerance to drought and heat stress, and improve yield quality.

He expects that in three or four years, the new transgenic crops could be available to corn farmers as well as consumers who want lawns and ornamental plants that stay green, despite drought and heat. The technology could be incorporated in oil seed and other crops after that, he said.

Field tests over four years show this firm's "yield protection technology" works in canola, as well as in petunias and a tiny weed, called Arabidopsis, by creating drought-tolerant mutants, Dennis said.

"The way we are doing it certainly is certainly unique, and I don't know anybody so far who has got a crop out that is drought-resistant," Dennis said. "We are not growing it as a crop yet, but we've shown that we can get drought resistance in canola growing in the field."

Seventy percent of the world's water is used for agriculture. Water shortages, he said, are going to become a "huge" problem in the future, with global warming exacerbating the situation, he told AFP in St. Paul.

"We're hoping to develop plants which actually need less water, so they need less irrigation," he said, "and we'll be able to save water."

"If you get drought from the time you put seed in the ground, there's no way you can protect the plant," Dennis said. "The plants need some water to grow. We are protecting them at the most sensitive time, when they are flowering."

**********************************************

Transgenic crops in the pipeline: Pawar

- Sharad Pawar, THE HINDU (India), 1st october, 2006 http://www.hindu.com

Technology significant in addressing critical problems

# Food safety to be carried out on "strict scientific basis" # Confidence needed to be built among consumers that GM foods are safe and eco friendly

New Delhi: Disregarding protests against genetically engineered foods and crops, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has said that besides Bt cotton, there are several transgenic crops in the "pipeline." These include pigeon pea resistant to bollworm, Bt brinjal, tomato resistant to leaf curl virus, tomato with delayed ripening and improved shelf life and potato with enhanced levels of essential amino acids.

"Many genes of agronomic and nutritional importance have already been cloned and are being introduced into an array of crop species including cereals, pulses, oilseeds, fruits and vegetable crops," he told a conference on agriculture biotechnology here on Friday.

"Tremendous potential"

Transgenic technology was significant in addressing critical problems in improvement of crop plants particularly in the context of over-dependence on pesticides and other chemicals and lower production and productivity. Biotechnology offered a "tremendous potential" to tackle the issue of food security as well as nutritional security. "If used in a responsible manner, it can help reduce poverty and improve the livelihoods of the rural poor."

Adding a note of caution, Mr. Pawar said food safety and environmental risks assessments should be carried out on genetically modified (GM) crops on a "strict scientific basis." It was necessary to analyse benefits and cost to determine the socio-economic feasibility of implementing the technology.

The data generated "so far" had not shown genetically modified foods to be different from the conventionally bred food in terms of safety to human health and to the environment.

"However, confidence is needed to be built among the consumers that GM foods are safe and eco friendly."

Key issues

In this context, some key issues that needed immediate attention were strengthening and streamlining the transgenic research programme, capacity building and human resource development for effective utilisation of genetic transformation strategies for crop improvement and ensuring proper flow of scientific and technical information, genetic materials and other critical components related to development and testing of transgenic crops.

Mr. Pawar said the development of a strong capability in plant biotechnology was an "absolute priority" for the national research programme.

It was likely that genes and gene functions would increasingly be transferable among crops and between agricultural environments.

**********************************************

Pharming in Denmark

- from Andy Apel

Friends,

I came upon an interesting blog which presents the possibility that Denmark could transform its agriculture and national landscape by adopting pharming on a large scale. It does this science-fiction style, as though it had already happened and the result is a utopia.

The blog is at http://pruned.blogspot.com/2006/09/pharmland.html

and if you scroll down to the bottom, you'll see "For more on this wondrously pragmatic utopia, view the presentation slideshow" and the slideshow link,
http://www.nord-web.dk/pharmland_2.htm

Takes you to a new website where you can view a "documentary" movie online presented by a fictitious Minister of Health and Agriculture at [ http://www.nord-web.dk/pharmland_movie.htm ]http://www.nord-web.dk/pharmland_movie.htm

Quite interesting!

==

"What if Denmark farmed pharmaceuticals?" [ http://www.nord-web.dk/pharmland.htm ] asked NORD. What if Denmark -- no longer encumbered by the dichotomy between the natural and the manmade -- began to cultivate fields of mine sweeping plants and vaccine-laden tomatoes just outside of Copenhagen?

What if Denmark -- two-thirds of which is devoted to low value traditional farming -- reprogramed its agricultural production landscape to include high value biotech agribusiness?

What if Denmark -- with the ability to generate more revenue from less land -- returned all the unnecessary farmlands back to the people?

And what if Denmark also transformed some of them to "Wilderness," a new landscape that covers 20% of the country and is more or less continuous?

And here's another intriguing question: what if Denmark -- by lessening its dependence on massive EU agricultural subsidies -- fostered a freer global market, allowing Third World countries to enter the market and begin self-sustaining economies?

For more on this wondrously pragmatic utopia, view the presentation [ http://www.nord-web.dk/pharmland_slideshow.htm ] slideshow or download the [ http://www.tooperfect.dk/pdf/02.pdf ]catalogue.