Today in AgBioView from http://www.agbioworld.org - Jan 29, 2007
* EU Farmers Losing Out In Biotech Revolution
* GM Crops May Reduce Greenhouse Gases
* International Rewards via GM Cropping
* Frankenfood Redux - Europe Drags Its Feet on GMO Regulation
* Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology Ends
* Nobel Laureate James Watson supports rDNA technology in agriculture
* Study Explores Effect of GM Crops on Developing Countries
* Results from the FAO Biotech Forum: Background and Dialogue
* Worthwhile Gene Mission Lobbyism In Life Sciences: A Case Study
* Ron Phillips Share Wolf Prize In Agriculture
* Tracking GM Rice News with eRiceCooker
EU Farmers Losing Out In Biotech Revolution
- Anthony Fletcher, Food Navigator, Jan, 26, 2007 http://www.foodnavigator.com
European farmers are lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of access to agricultural biotechnology, according to the president of the European Federation of Biotechnology.
Marc Van Montagu, a well-known plant biotech pioneer, told journalists in Brussels this week that the technology, which has been oriented to helping developing countries, could also be of great benefit to European food production.
"Fighting the vicious circle of hunger and poverty is the most urgent task that faces our society, and will require a reformulation of current models of agriculture," he said.
But he also stressed that the technology has considerable benefits for Europe, despite what he described as "systematic attempts to deny European farmers the right to use a technology widely used in the rest of the world".
Montagu's comments follow the publication of new figures from The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). The new statistics show that in 2006 the number of hectares globally cultivated with GM crops increased by 12 million hectares. Most of this growth came from countries such as China and India, while most EU farmers "continue to be held back by a dysfunctional regulatory system and by disproportionate co-existence rules," according to Montagu.
The issue of GM approval within the EU is one of the most contentious in agriculture. The recent announcement that US authorities had traced amounts of unapproved genetically modified (GM) food in samples of rice prompted the EU to clamp down on all imports from the US.
The immediacy of this action illustrated the stringent controls the EU has in place to guard against unauthorised products entering the food chain, and also reflected consumer fears over the technology. These fears appear to be concentrated in Europe. According to ISAAA, interest in and acceptance of biotechnology is rapidly increasing as countries become "increasingly convinced of its benefits on an environmental and economic level".
As a result, most growth in biotechnology during the next ten years is expected to occur in key developing countries of Asia, led by China and India, as well as in Pakistan and Vietnam.
But growth also continues in Europe, where Slovakia became the sixth EU country out of 25 to plant biotech crops. Spain continues to lead the continent, planting 60,000 hectares in 2006; however, the other five EU countries reported a five-fold increase in plantings from 1,500 hectares in 2005 to about 8,500 hectares in 2006, said ISAAA.
Montagu however is convinced that in Europe too often the GM debate "centres on emotional arguments, rather than looking at scientific positives." As a result he believes that, despite increasing uptake, EU countries are missing out on the benefits offered by biotech crops. Hungary for example has refused to lift its ban on GM maize.
GM Crops May Reduce Greenhouse Gases
- New Scientist, Jan. 29, 2007
If 4 million cars were taken off the road in a single year, stopping 9 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide being discharged, most environmentalists would whoop with joy. But what if the same saving came from planting genetically modified crops?
This is the claim of an annual audit of GM crops by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), which is funded largely by the GM industry.
The audit, published on 18 January, bases its estimate on GM planting in 2005 in the US, Canada and Argentina. Graham Brookes of PG Economics in Dorchester, UK, who supplied the data, says 85 per cent of the savings come from the fact that farmers growing weedkiller-resistant GM crops don't have to plough their fields to get rid of weeds, so organic matter in the soil is not exposed to the atmosphere. This, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, prevents the release of 300 kilograms of CO2 per year per hectare. The rest of the figure is from fuel savings (Agbioforum, vol 9, p 139).
Gundula Azeez of the Soil Association, which represents UK organic farmers, says the ISAAA is only interested in promoting GM crops.
International Rewards via GM Cropping
- Tasmanian Country January 26, 2007
Genetically modified crops have delivered environmental benefits, put more money in farmers' pockets and helped combat global warming, a new report says. A review of the first decade of commercially grown GM crops, by UK-based consultants PGS Economics, has found large gains from reduced use of pesticides.
''Farmers used almost 224 million kilograms less pesticide with GM crops between 1996 and 2005, a reduction of seven per cent,'' the study said. ''This represents about 40 per cent of the annual volume of pesticides used in the European Union.''
The study found farmers earned higher incomes in every country where GM crops were grown. Higher productivity and lower costs had boosted GM crop incomes by $36 billion since 1996.
In 2005 alone, GM farmers earned $7 billion in extra income. The study also found GM crops had helped reduce greenhouse emissions. The use of low or no-tillage systems associated with GM crops had resulted in more plant residue being stored in the soil. This had saved the equivalent of eight billion kg of carbon dioxide emissions in 2005.
Lower pesticide use and less ploughing also meant less fuel was used, saving a billion kg in emissions. These carbon dioxide impacts were the equivalent of removing four million cars from the road for a year. Last year, GM crops were grown by 22 countries on 102 million hectares. The United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India and China were the leading GM producers, with soy bean, maize, cotton and canola the main crops.
Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran said Australia was falling behind by failing to adopt GM crops. Mr McGauran criticised moratoriums saying farmers faced higher costs while they remained in place. But Opposition Agriculture spokesman, Kerry O'Brien, said he wasn't convinced GM crops should get the commercial go-ahead. Senator O'Brien said there was still no general acceptance and environmental and human health issues had not been properly addressed.
Frankenfood Redux - Europe Drags Its Feet on GMO Regulation
- Reed Malin, Harvard Political Review, Winter 2007
A new specter is haunting Europe: genetically modified foods. GM crops, which are rapidly being accepted and planted across the world, continue to be met with protest and repulsion within the European Union. But with the end of a six-year moratorium in 2004 and an important ruling by the WTO earlier this year, Europe may finally be forced to confront its fears.
A History of Dissent
Since the arrival of GM foods on the European market, the politics surrounding their approval process have been vitriolic. The first major backlash against GM foods began in 1999, when a scientific study published in the UK suggested a link between GM potatoes and the death of laboratory mice. The study proved to be a rallying call for NGOs and consumer groups who waged vigorous campaigns to ban GM crops. The result was an import and farming moratorium that slammed the door in the face of biotech corporations and farmers alike.
This reaction is considered by some to be the result of misinformation. Dr. Henry Miller, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, told the HPR that "the public resistance to biotech foods is the result of clever manipulation," and that it is based more on fear than on science. GM foods are often a target of sensational media in Europe, which no doubt contributes to consumer unease, but surveys have consistently shown that a large majority of European consumers feel uncertain about biotechnology in general.
An Imperfect System
The political result of this wave of opposition has been a generation of EU policymakers who have been content to let the GM food issue be decided by the most zealous anti-GMO states, resulting in the six-year ban. But this attitude has essentially prevented any discourse in Brussels on the issue, even after the moratorium has been lifted. Now, when the EU's various environment ministers deadlock over the approval of a new strain of GM crop, the decision is automatically sent to the European Commission for approval. This process has meant that some products have taken up to a decade to get approval.
This February, the World Trade Organization issued a landmark ruling condemning the moratorium. In the ruling, which was made in response to a complaint filed jointly by the US, Canada, and Argentina, the WTO called the EU's monumentally slow regulation process "unjustified" and tantamount to a trade embargo. But the EU insists that this level of scrutiny is necessary to ensure that GM crops are not harmful to people or the environment. Indeed, the WTO's decision did not comment on what concerns consumers the most: scientific trials and tests that can determine a product's safety. Instead, the WTO's ruling focused on the de facto protectionism that the six-year moratorium brought with it.
Making Way For Change?
The WTO ruling, the longest in the organization's history, is a clear message to the EU to re-examine its regulation system. But critics like Miller are unconvinced that change is on the way. "The reality is that it is a partial and largely hollow victory," Miller told the HPR, "It is unlikely that the WTO's slap on the wrist will induce any major change in EU policy."
At the end of November the EU decided not to appeal the decision, with the European Commission spokesman saying that "the impact of that judgment is entirely of historical interest." The moratorium may be a matter of historical interest, but the burgeoning biotechnology industry that represents $5.6 billion a year and more than 1 billion acres of crops worldwide is an inescapable reality. The "frankenfood" has been patiently waiting at Europe's doorstep, but the EU seems in no rush to let it in. Unfortunately for the EU, it will keep doing exactly what it was designed to do: keep growing.
Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology to Conclude Work
- Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, Jan 26, 2007
The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology will conclude its work at the end of March 2007. Established by The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2001, the project has achieved its goals of illuminating policy issues arising from advances in ag biotech and serving as a credible "honest broker" that could bring together stakeholders of differing views to discuss the opportunities and challenges that ag biotech presents. Through its reports, fact sheets, polls and conferences, the project has served as a respected information source for policymakers, educators, the public and the media in the U.S. and globally.
"The Pew Initiative has played a unique role in bringing together diverse stakeholders to mutually explore common issues, and in highlighting key policy issues for consumers, industry and policymakers," said Michael Fernandez, executive director of the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology. "Through its balanced analysis of the opportunities and challenges posed by these emerging technologies, the Initiative highlighted strengths and weaknesses of the oversight system and pinpointed solutions to make it stronger."
"The Pew Initiative and its staff have done much to help change the tenor of the debate to one of constructive dialogue," said Jim O'Hara, managing director of policy initiatives and the Health and Human Services program at The Pew Charitable Trusts. "We are also pleased the Initiative has contributed to improving the quality of information about biotechnology and focusing attention on how the regulatory framework needs updating to keep up with advances in this technology and ensure its benefits for consumers. The materials developed by the Initiative will remain a critical resource for policymakers in the years to come."
Research and other materials produced by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology will continue to be available on the following website after PIFB closes: http://www.pewagbiotech.org.
Nobel Laureate James Watson supports applications of recombinant DNA technology in agriculture
- Monsanto, Jan 26, 2007; Via Agnet
Nobel Laureate Dr. James Watson - one of the most influential researchers in the field of genetics - expounds on his support for applications of recombinant DNA technology in agriculture in a brief and exclusive video made available today at the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site: http://www.monsanto.com/biotech-gmo
"I believe in technology. It improves things. I believe in progress. I don't believe, you know, in living in the past. Agriculture today is better than it was 50 years ago. Farming is easier," says Dr. Watson, who, along with Francis Crick, discovered the code for the double helix structure of DNA, for which they received the Nobel Prize in 1962.
This discovery made possible the application of recombinant DNA techniques used today in biotechnology.
Recombinant DNA technology is the technique of isolating a gene and inserting it into the DNA of another organism. The first commercial application of recombinant DNA technology was in 1982, when researchers produced human insulin for the treatment of diabetes. By the early 1990s, researchers could successfully transfer a gene that codes for a specific protein that produces a desirable trait - such as disease protection - in a plant.
"So recombinant DNA and plants is a way of having a more rational, dependable agriculture. ... Farmers having a better life and wanting to stay on the farm," continues Dr. Watson. "I think many people just want to make things better. It's part of human nature. You want to have a better agriculture. ... More income for farmers. More dependable farming. Cheaper food. ... All which can be produced through biotechnology."
Study Explores Effect of Genetically Modified Crops on Developing Countries
- Science Daily, January 26, 2007 http://www.sciencedaily.com
A new study in the February issue of Current Anthropology explores how the arrival of genetically modified crops affects farmers in developing countries. Glenn Davis Stone (Washington University) studied the Warangal District of Andhra Pradesh in India, a key cotton growing area notorious for suicides by cotton farmers. In 2003 to 2005, market share of "Bt cotton" seeds rose from 12 percent to 62 percent in Warangal. Bt cotton is genetically modified to produce its own insecticide and has been claimed by its manufacturer as the fastest-adopted agricultural technology in history.
Farmers buying cotton seeds at a shop in Warangal. Visible behind them are a few of the many hybrid seeds available at the shop. The man in the middle is paying Rs. 1600 a pack of RCH2-Bt (4 times the cost of conventional seed). When asked why he had chosen RCH2-Bt, he said it was what other farmers were buying. (Credit: Courtesy Glenn Davis Stone)Ads by Google Advertise on this site
Monsato, the firm behind Bt cotton, has interpreted the rapid spread of the modified strain as the result of farmer experimentation and management skill -- similar to mechanisms that scholars cite to explain the spread of hybrid corn across American farms. But Stone's multiyear ethnography of Warangal cotton farmers shows an unexpected pattern of localized cotton seed fads in the district. He argues that, rather than a case of careful assessment and adoption, Warangal is plagued by a severe breakdown of the "skilling" process by which farmers normally hone their management practices.
"Warangal cotton farming offers a case study in 'agricultural deskilling'," writes Stone. The seed fads had virtually no environmental basis, and farmers generally lacked recognition of what was actually being planted, a striking contrast to highly strategic seed selection processes in areas where technological change is learned and gradual. Interviews also provided consistent evidence that Warangal cotton farmers prefer trying new seeds -- seeds without any background information whatsoever -- to trying several strains on smaller, experimental scales and choosing one for long-term adoption.
The problem preceded Bt cotton, Stone points out; its root causes are reliance on hybrid seed, which must be repurchased every year, and a chaotic seed market in which products come and go at a furious pace and farmers often cannot tell what they are using. Farmer desire for novelty exacerbates the turnover of seeds in the market, Stone argues, and seed firms will frequently take seeds that have fallen out of favor, rename them, and resell with new marketing campaigns. For instance, one recent favorite seed in several villages is identical to four other seeds on the market.
Stone argues that the previously undocumented pattern of fads, in which each village lurches from seed to seed, reflects a breakdown of the process of "environmental learning," leaving farmers to rely purely on "social learning." Bt cotton was not the cause of this "deskilling," but in Warangal it has exacerbated the problem.
"On the surface, [Warangal] appears to be a dramatic case of successful adoption of an innovation," Stone explains. "However, a closer analysis of the dynamics of adoption shows that the pattern some see as an environmentally based change in agricultural practice actually continues the established pattern of socially driven fads arising in the virtual absence of environmental learning."
Strangely, in another part of India, a very different history of Bt cotton has led to an improvement in agricultural skilling. In Gujarat, the loss of corporate control over the Bt technology has led to an increased involvement of farmers in local breeding, and an apparent increase in knowledge-based innovation.
Sponsored by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Current Anthropology is a transnational journal devoted to research on humankind, encompassing the full range of anthropological scholarship on human cultures and on the human and other primate species. Communicating across the subfields, the journal features papers in a wide variety of areas, including social, cultural, and physical anthropology as well as ethnology and ethnohistory, archaeology and prehistory, folklore, and linguistics. For more information, please see our Web site: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/CA
Stone, Glenn Davis, "Agricultural Deskilling and the Spread of Genetically Modified Cotton in Warangal." Current Anthropology 48:67-103.
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Chicago Press Journals.
Results from the FAO Biotechnology Forum: Background and dialogue on selected issues
- J. Ruane and A. Sonnino, FAO Research and Technology Paper 11, Downloaded at
Summary excerpt: "From a global consideration of the conferences, it was concluded that there is a large demand for good quality science-based unbiased information regarding agricultural biotechnology in developing countries, and secondly, that people in developing countries have a great interest and willingness to participate in dialogues on this subject.
Regarding GMOs, there was no evidence of the intensity and polarization of the debate declining while regarding non-GMO biotechnologies, on the other hand, there was general agreement about the positive role that they can play in developing countries and that they should complement more conventional technologies. For both GMOs and non-GMO biotechnologies, intellectual property rights were perceived as an important issue and their consequences were generally seen as negative.
Finally, the conferences indicated that many developing countries currently lack the resources and capacity to minimize the risks and maximize the benefits of agricultural biotechnology and that capacity building should be prioritized."
Worthwhile Gene Mission Lobbyism In Life Sciences: A Case Study
- Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Jan 23, 2007 (Lohnende Gen-Mission Lobbyismus in den Biowissenschaften: Eine Fallstudie - Automatic translation Improved by Prof. Vivian Moses)
No doubts, no hesitating: Green genetic engineering offers "major opportunities for the developing countries". Food from approved gene plants is "safe for humans and animals", they represent "no danger for the environment". Rather it is "irresponsible, the way the very sceptical attitude of the Europeans reflects on the developing countries". Farmers and governments world-wide do not cultivate genetically changed plants because they "fear, their products will not be able to be sold in Europe". Result: "governments and NGOs" should stop their "campaigns against green genetic engineering".
These sentences are not taken from a press release of a manufacturer of genetically changed seeds. They originate from the pen of a working group of the Union of the German Academies of Sciences, the union of the eight honourable German science academies - from Bavaria, Berlin-Brandenburg, Göttingen, Heidelberg, Leipzig, North Rhine-Westphalia, Mainz and recently also Hamburg.
"Green genetic engineering" is the central topic of interest in the Newsletter dated 02-2006 of the Academic Union. Six articles carry inscriptions on how "campaigns against the green genetic engineering is without scientific basis", "less chemistry in the field" and "genetic research should not be obstructed." In the centre of the publication is a statement of thirteen scientists from nine countries about green genetic engineering in developing countries. It is the communiqué of a meeting in the spring of 2006 in Berlin. Originally it was to have been adopted in December 2006 in Egypt by the "Inter-Academy panel", a world-wide union of ninety-four science academies. But, to the disappointment of the German Academic Union, the resolution was shifted to autumn 2007. The member academies can still change the paper.
The consultation needs to be extensive. If one looks at the list of the signatories, it quickly emerges why the statement does not report that the risks of green genetic engineering are also scientifically disputed. At the end of the paper are names known for decades as industrial lobbyists. Only a minority of the signatories are active in research. Two thirds are emeritus scientists or full-time representatives of institutions with names such as AfricaBio, Egypt Biotechnology Information Centre or CropGen. These organisations are not engaged in scientific research but are sponsored by biotech companies such as DuPont, Bayer, Monsanto or Syngenta for the purpose of international PR.
Thus, the Indian Kameswara Rao is one of the signatories of the Academic Union's paper. In the western industrialized countries, an alliance of "eco-imperialists" and conventional seeds industry cooperate, announces Rao over the InterNet side of its Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education in Bangalore. The European "anti-tec lobby" is responsible for the "hunger and the death of millions of poor people".
Martin Chrispeels, San Diego, another signatory, is quoted with approval in publications of the American agrarian company Monsanto. Chrispeels argues against the "myths" of organic farming and instead praises genetic engineering. "Most myths, which are spread by environmental organizations, have been disproved years ago", says another signatory, the Swiss Emeritus Professor Klaus Ammann, former director of the Botanical Garden in Berne. What the newsletter conceals is that he sits on the advisory committee of GenSuisse, an institution financed by Novartis, Roche, Serono and other biotech companies, to clarify genetic engineering to the Swiss public.
In this country, one campaigner for green genetic engineering is also one of the four German signatories: Klaus-Dieter Jany, full-time director of the Molecular Biological Centre at the Federal Research Institute for Nutrition in Karlsruhe. In the year 2000, Jany founded the scientific group "Green Genetic Engineering e.V"., to promote "dialogue between society, science and the users of green genetic engineering". In the mid-1990s, the 63-year old biologist collaborated with a subsidiary of the seed manufacturer Monsanto on genetically modified "Roundup-Ready" soybeans, at that time highly disputed. An essay by him on "Novel Food - Safety Assessment" appears in the list of Monsanto publications for the year 2003. In 1996 Jany reviewed textual material for the company on request but without remuneration. He received only lecture fees from the GM seeds manufacturer which also occasionally accommodated a graduate student in their enterprise.
"Today you no longer find scientists without good contacts with industry. That is also encouraged politically," With those words Myriam Hönig of the Union of the German Academies of Sciences defended to this newspaper the selection of the experts.
Now there are well-known scientists who, from an uncommitted standpoint, examine the technology of green genetic engineering: for instance the biologist Beatriz Tappeser of the Federal Office for Nature Protection or Volker Beusmann, genetic engineering expert of the University of Hamburg. There is also the team around Armin Grunwald (Technical University of Karlsruhe), directors of the Office for Technology Assessment of the German Federal Parliament which is working on a study to "Transgenic seeds in developing countries", all of whom were ignored - just like the scientific consultants of the development organizations Misereor and FIAN which view the deployment of green genetic engineering in developing countries with scepticism.
An emeritus professor was responsible for the composition of the participants at the Berlin workshop: the former Göttingen chemistry professor Hans-Walter Heldt. He contributed to the genetic engineering emphasis of the Newsletters in an article which emphasizes the "unbelievable success history" of green genetic engineering. From a "global view" it is "not very important" if German farmers do not make use the benefits of the new strains and if they are rejected by consumers. He regrets only that much of German science suffers as a result. "The sorrow I feel for the these developments is my motive for involvement in this activity. I have never received funding from the industry" Heldt averred. Asked whether it is not unfortunate in view of the expressed requirement to obtain an assessment from "independent" experts that so many signatories of the Academy paper were connected with the industry, said Heldt in reply to this newspaper: "if one wants international cooperation in this field, one cannot know always everything about the background of those involved."
The German science academies should be aware of the fact that Heldt has a certain inclination bring together experts who think as he does. As early as 2002, Gerhard Thews, at that time publisher of the " Akademie-Journals " of the Academy Union, warned in a editorial that Heldt had invited no critics of the new technology to a workshop on green genetic engineering. Thews publicised in the minutes that Heldt had in mind a "subsequent symposium" at which ethical considerations and independent analyses of the economic interests in this sector should also be considered. "No such a meeting ever took place", Heldt admits today. "There were other things to do, and anyway I am chemist. Perhaps I am also not the right person for that."
The Mainz Academy of Science and Literature, a member of the union, does not for the time being want to take a position on the content of the genetic engineering paper. But the managing director Carlo Servatius is clear: "in Mainz, positions with respect to future questions of the society - such as genetic engineering - always involve extensive discussions process and state different opinions."
Something similar is fortunately demanded in a brochure of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. It documents the guidelines for scientific analyses in the political sphere which the chief scientific advisor to the British government compiled. These guidelines demand that the selection of experts should reflect the variety of opinion in a topic like green genetic engineering - this topic is expressly named in the brochure: "Potential ethical controversies should be delivered openly. Not only "industry and civil society" but also science have often a "polarising, openly interest-led view of the subject".
The chief of the press office of the Academic Union already quoted stressed that British scientists also considered green genetic engineering safe: "the British representative at our Workshop pleaded for even sharper formulations in the draft for the statement in favour of green genetic engineering." Now also this British representative is not a blank sheet: Vivian Moses, who retired from his chair in 1993, nevertheless in the year 2000 received £460,000 from the British biotech industry for leading of the PR agency CropGen. Also this commitment of a signatory is not mentioned in press release of the Academy Union.
The president of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy, Günter Stock, merely takes a position with respect to the whole procedure only personally. "A funded position presupposes that all arguments are brought in, not only selective ones, and that the sources are transparent and comprehensible", said Stock, whose personal record always prominently calls attention to his earlier work for the Schering AG. "I personally would plead for the American practice of the disclosure of the interests and hope that this is also practised in the future in Germany."
Belgian, American Scientists Share Wolf Prize In Agriculture
- Crop Biotech Update, isaaa.org
The latest winners of the Wolf Prize for Agriculture are Ronald Phillips and Michel Georges for their groundbreaking discoveries in genetics and genomics. Wolf Prizes are being awarded since 1978 by the not for profit Wolf Foundation in Israel, to individuals with outstanding contribution to agriculture, arts, chemistry, mathematics, medicine and physics.
Philips is affiliated with the University of Minnesota, USA. He was cited to be the first to generate whole corn plants from cells grown in culture. This subsequently helped in accelerating genetic modification of corn. Georges on the other hand, is with the University of Liège, Belgium. He is credited on developing tools and methods that helped in the identification and mapping of genes that affect economically important traits in livestock. These genes include those responsible for milk yield, fertility, and disease resistance.
The complete announcement can be found at
Tracking GM Rice News with eRiceCooker
[There is a video of the eRice cooker on this page.]
"eRiceCooker tracks Internet news about genetically modified rice. Whenever there is a new report about GM rice, a quarter cup of rice is dispensed into the cooker. When the cooker has enough rice for a meal, water is added automatically to the rice and the cooker is switched on. When the rice is done, an email is sent out to inviting people to eat the rice.
"The more news reports appear, the more rice is cooked, the more often invitations are sent out. The project is designed to create awareness to issues surrounding genetically modified organisms by producing excessive amounts of cooked rice and attempting to feed people with it. "
Hat tip - Andy Apel