Today in AgBioView from* AgBioWorld, http://www.agbioworld.org March 14, 2007
* Ban on genetic alfalfa could hurt
* Hawaii Seed Crop Industry is Technology Incubator for Agriculture Worldwide
* Agricultural Productivity in the United States
* The role of agricultural biotechnology in hunger and poverty alleviation
* Global Ocean Sampling Expedition
* Let Them Eat Precaution: Nearly Sold Out
UW prof: Ban on genetic alfalfa could hurt
- Star Tribune (Jackson Hole), March 14, 2007, http://www.jacksonholestartrib.com/articles/2007/03/14/news/wyoming/92b1f4debc351a3a8725729e0000242d.txt
A decision temporarily halting the planting of genetically engineered alfalfa could affect Wyoming production, according to an alfalfa breeder and University of Wyoming professor.
Robin Groose, who teaches plant breeding and genetics, said the preliminary injunction issued Tuesday by a federal judge in response to a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture could cut into production of alfalfa in Wyoming.
Farmers who already have purchased the herbicide-resistant alfalfa seed must plant it by March 30. No new sales of the seed will be allowed, according to U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer's preliminary injunction order.
San Francisco-based Breyer ruled last month that federal authorities had failed to fully consider the public health, economic and environmental consequences before allowing the sale of Roundup Ready alfalfa. The Center for Food Safety had sued on behalf of farmers who complained the genetically engineered seed could contaminate organic and conventional alfalfa. The seed, produced by Monsanto Co. and Forage Genetics International, is resistant to herbicides including the Monsanto-produced Roundup weed killer.
Wyoming, according to statistics provided by the USDA, annually produces 1.5 million tons of high-quality alfalfa for forage, grown on approximately 600,000 acres.
"It's unclear what the effect (of this ruling) would be at this point, but it is our most important crop," Groose said, adding that the genetically produced seed would help in weed control. "From an economic standpoint, (Roundup Ready) seed would benefit the growers who would want to use it."
The decision was hailed by some opposed to the genetically produced seed.
"Roundup Ready alfalfa poses threats to farmers, to our export markets and to the environment," said Will Rostov, spokesman for the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group.
A call to the Idaho-based Forage Genetics seeking comment was referred to Monsanto, where a spokesman said he's disappointed by the temporary injunction but hopeful it wouldn't stand.
"We are hopeful that a reasoned approach in this matter will address questions about the regulatory approval process for Roundup Ready alfalfa," said Jerry Steiner, a Monsanto executive vice president.
Oral arguments on the Center for Food Safety's request for a permanent injunction were scheduled for April 27.
Monsanto spokesman Andrew Burchett said the company would not be hurt financially by the prohibition on the sale of the seed because "this is not one of our major crops."
About 200,000 acres of genetically modified alfalfa already has been planted across the United States. The judge, in Monday's order, did not require those crops to be removed.
Roundup Ready Alfalfa can be grown only for hay and forage. Seed production is prohibited.
Alfalfa, which is used for livestock feed and can be planted in spring or fall, is a major crop grown on about 21 million acres in the country. California is the nation's largest alfalfa producer, growing the crop on about 1 million acres, primarily in the San Joaquin Valley.
Visiting Corn Farmers Say Hawaii Seed Crop Industry is Technology Incubator for Agriculture Worldwide
Hawaii's Contribution Is Critical To Success of Farmers Throughout the World
- Frank Santana, Hawaii Reporter, March 13, 2007, http://www.hawaiireporter.com/story.aspx?8f562a73-e8c4-417e-b82d-e61f39b88f0f
Honolulu, HI: - Hawaii is playing a critical role in the development of biotech agriculture worldwide and success depends on it, according to two mainland corn farmers visiting the state this week.
The farmers are guests of the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association (HCIA), who invited them to explain their views to state legislators, community leaders, and local farmers. Forums included a public briefing in the state capital and visits with farmers throughout the state.
"There are real benefits to biotech corn, which is why so many American farmers have been quick to adopt the technology," says Fred Yoder, a former president of the National Corn Growers Association and a farmer from Plain City, Ohio. "Since most of the corn planted around the world--including biotech corn--spent at least some portion of its development time in Hawaii, we want elected officials to understand how important Hawaii is to our industry as a technology incubator. We need to be able to continue counting on their support," Yoder explained.
"Biotechnology offers corn growers improved efficiencies and potential profits when managed wisely and with regulatory oversight based on sound science. The introduction of new varieties and their proliferation across the Corn Belt is critical to our success. The crop biotech R&D currently being done in Hawaii is indispensable for farmers to succeed not only in the U.S but around the world," he added.
Agreeing with Yoder was Leon Corzine, a farmer from Assumption, Illinois, and also a former president of the National Corn Growers Association. "We believe consumer acceptance and confidence in crop biotechnology is growing, which is essential. That's why we want to talk about our success with biotech crops and how much we depend on Hawaii for the continued flow of new and improved crops."
The HCIA sees reason for residents of Hawaii to celebrate. "As one of the primary biotech research and development centers on the planet, Hawaii is playing an increasingly critical role in helping to ensure that the U.S. and the world have enough food and energy to meet demands in the future," says Paul Koehler, past president of HCIA. Koehler is Monsanto's manager of scientific and community affairs for Hawaii, and is based at the company's site on Kihei, Maui. "This is an unusual contribution that comes from the talent and brain power of our local workforce, so it is one for which residents of Hawaii may feel justifiably proud," he explained.
Hawaii seed companies use both conventional breeding practices as well as advanced plant-breeding technologies that includes genetic engineering to create parent seed lines. These seed lines are used to produce commercial quantities of hybrid seeds for new and/or improved crops. The seeds developed in Hawaii are mainly shipped to other parts of the world for commercial scale up. Roughly 4,000 acres of land are planted in crops at any given time. About 2,000 acres, or half of the total acreage, is dedicated to conventional breeding methods, and the other half to genetic engineering methods.
The agricultural seed crop industry in Hawaii consists of seed corn, soybean, sunflower, cotton and others. Seed corn currently comprises 92 percent of the current value of the Hawaii seed industry.
Hawaii has a unique competitive advantage over other agricultural locations in the U.S. due to its moderate weather and year-round growing conditions. This favorable climate permits multiple crops to be harvested in a single season. As a result, new plant varieties can be developed in Hawaii more quickly than on the U.S. mainland and elsewhere. In addition, seed producers can do so in a more stable political and economic environment relative to many other countries.
The farmer's visit to Hawaii follows a January study showing that global acceptance of biotech crops is at a ten-year high, which is driving the growth of Hawaii's seed industry.
The study, which was widely reported across the nation, said total biotech crop acreage worldwide reached 252 million acres in 22 countries-representing slightly more than a 13 percent increase over 2005. The study was conducted by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).
"This marks the tenth consecutive year of double digit growth in the worldwide adoption rate of biotech crops since they were first introduced to the marketplace in 1996," says Yoder.
According to the ISAAA report, a record 10.3 million farmers are growing biotech crops--a 21 percent increase in the number of farmers who have adopted this technology since 2005. About 9.3 million of those farmers--fully 90 percent of the total--are subsistence farmers in 11 developing countries. And, farm income has increased cumulatively by $27 billion during this past decade, according to a recent study by PG Economics.
"The increasing acceptance of biotech crops is evident in the rising number of acres of biotech crops planted each year and the increasing number of farmers who have chosen to use this technology--particularly resource--poor farmers-because of the many benefits it brings them," said Corzine.
Studies by the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy (NCFAP) concluded that in the U.S. alone, in 2005 biotech crops improved crop production by 8.3 billion pounds, reduced production costs by $1.4 billion, and increased farmer revenue by $2.0 billion. Additionally, American growers reduced pesticide applications by 69.7 million pounds simply by planting biotech crops.
"Agricultural biotechnology enables people to grow more food on their own and feed themselves more efficiently than ever before-and to do so in a way that contributes to a cleaner environment," explained Corzine.
He added that new biotech crops currently in development are expected to help farmers produce food that is healthier, more nutritious and better tasting.
Biofuels Drive Demand for New, Better Seeds
Another factor driving increased demand for new and better crop seeds is the trend towards biofuels.
"The corn used to produce biofuels is increasingly coming from biotech crops," said Yoder. "American farmers are willing and able to meet market demands, and the crop biotech R&D being done in Hawaii is playing an increasingly important role in our ability to do so."
The increasing demand for biofuels has been propelled by major provisions of the 2005 Energy Policy Act that became effective at the beginning of the year.
These provisions include a Renewable Fuel Standard calling for four billion gallons of domestically produced biofuel and the elimination of methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) as an additive to gasoline. In response, ethanol production facilities increased production to nearly five billion gallons in 2006. Within the next two years, planned growth will double production capacity of ethanol to more than 10 billion gallons.
As a result, it is estimated that corn production on the U.S. mainland will reach nearly 90 million acres planted in 2007, up 10 million acres from 2006. A portion of this crop will be converted into ethanol and, in the process, will help to reduce the U.S. dependence on imported foreign oil.
From 2001 to 2005 corn use for ethanol more than doubled, and in 2006 approximately 14.6% of the total U.S. corn production was converted into ethanol. This number is expected to grow with more than 112 bio-refineries in operation and over 70 more currently under construction. These bio-refineries added approximately 5 billion gallons of domestically produced, renewable fuel to the U.S. gasoline supply in 2006.
The Hawaii Crop Improvement Association (HCIA) is an industry association representing member seed producers for over 40 years, which together plant an estimated 8,000 acres on four islands. They contribute approximately $144 million of economic activity annually to the state through direct and indirect inputs. This translates to $7 million in annual taxes to the state, $53 million in annual labor income, and over 2,000 jobs.
Agricultural Productivity in the United States Overview
- US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, web dated March 3, 2007, http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/AgProductivity/
Increased productivity is the main contributor to growth in U.S. agriculture. This data set provides estimates of productivity growth in the United States for 1948-2004, and estimates of productivity growth and relative productivity levels across States for 1960-1999. Note that this data series has been revised with this release (see the complete documentation for details, or go to the data tables).
The level of farm output in 2004 was 167 percent above its level in 1948 for an average annual rate of growth of 1.74 percent. Input use actually declined in aggregate (labor has been departing the sector and land use has declined slightly, while capital influx has been modest), so the positive growth in farm sector output is wholly due to productivity growth. This contrasts with a 3.7-percent annual output increase in the private nonfarm sector, with productivity growth accounting for a little more than a third of the economic growth. But what exactly is productivity?
Single-factor measures of productivity, such as corn production per acre (yield or land productivity) or per hour of labor (labor productivity) have been used for many years because the underlying data are often easily available. While useful, such measures can also mislead. For example, yields could increase simply because farmers are adding more of other inputs, such as chemicals, labor, or machinery, to their land base. USDA produces measures of total factor productivity, taking account of the use of all inputs to the production process.
Specifically, annual productivity growth is the difference between the growth of agricultural output, minus the growth of all inputs taken together (methods for combining inputs are described in the documentation). Productivity therefore measures changes in the efficiency with which inputs are transformed into outputs. USDA also produces State-level productivity measures - annual productivity growth rates as well as cross-State differences in levels of productivity, or differences in output per unit of combined inputs. Input measures are adjusted for improvements in input quality associated, for example, with improvements in the efficacy of chemicals and seeds, the demographics of the farm workforce, or innovations in machinery design. As a result, agricultural productivity is driven by innovations in onfarm tasks, changes in the organization and structure of the farm sector, research aimed at improvements in farm production, or random events like weather.
Major findings of the data include:
* Agricultural output did not grow during 1999-2002, and productivity showed no growth in 2000-02. But the return of good weather in 2003 and 2004 led to sharp increases in output and productivity, with productivity growing by 4.4 percent in 2003 and 6.0 percent in 2004. On average, then, productivity continued to grow rapidly in 1999-2004, by 2.8 percent per year (see table).
* U.S. agricultural productivity growth compares favorably to agricultural productivity growth in other industrialized countries, and to productivity growth in the overall U.S. economy.
* Every State exhibited a positive average annual rate of productivity growth over 1960-99. Average annual rates ranged from 2.6 percent for Michigan to 0.9 percent for Wyoming. Florida and Georgia had the highest levels of productivity in 1999 (see table).
USDA has been monitoring the agricultural industry's productivity for decades. In 1960, USDA was the first to introduce multifactor productivity measurement into the Federal statistical program. ERS produces total factor productivity measures for the aggregate farm sector from production accounts that distinguish multiple outputs and inputs, adjust for quality change in each input category, and recognize that some farm production (e.g., breeding livestock) is an investment good as well as an agricultural output. See the complete data documentation... http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/AgProductivity/methods.htm
The role of agricultural biotechnology in hunger and poverty alleviation for developing countries
- AfricaBio (press release via SeedQuest), March 13, 2007, http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2007/march/18674.htm
Top of the agenda for world leaders today is the alleviation of poverty and hunger, with the goal to cut poverty 50% by 2015. However, as Prof. Diran Makinde, from the School of Agriculture, Rural Development and Forestry of the University of Venda in South Africa, pointed out in his presentation to Biovision, ten years after the 1996 World Food Summit, which promised to reduce the number of undernourished people by half by 2015, there are more hungry people in 2006 than there were in 1996. Prof. Makinde called for new approaches to ensure sustainable food production in developing countries; especially in Africa because the majority of least developed countries are in Africa.
Biovision heard that the estimated overall global economic benefit of GM crops from 1996-2004, amounted to $27 billion, and that 90% of the farmers benefiting from this are resource-poor, small-scale farmers. GM crops have directly contributed to the alleviation of poverty for some 7.7 million farmers.
Makinde referred to a study carried out in South Africa in 2002 in which Bt maize and Bt cotton were compared to non-Bt crop varieties and the Bt varieties, in both cases, were found to produce a higher yield and generate more profits. Two farmers using the technology in South Africa further substantiated these findings, Mr. Motlatsi Musi, a small-scale farmer in Olifantsvlei, South Africa said "I plant Bt maize because it has increased my yield and my income. I earn R3000.00 [$430.00] more from a Bt crop than from a non-Bt crop". Ms. Thandiwe Myeni, a small-scale farmer from Makhatini Flats, South Africa has been planting Bt cotton since 1999 and said "I get more than double yield per hectare from my Bt cotton than from my non-Bt cotton and I am also saving on pesticides by spraying only twice before harvest for Bt cotton, but weekly on my non-Bt cotton".
GM crops are so useful to farmers because they can be engineered to be resistant to diseases and pests and to have increases nutritional value, 'Golden Rice', rice enriched with vitamin A, is an example of this. Most importantly though, is the development and commercialisation of drought-tolerant crops, Makinde said drought-tolerant maize has just been approved to undergo field trials in South Africa and in the next 2 to 3 years drought resistant wheat could be ready for commercialisation in Egypt. The list of benefits doesn't end there, GM crops are also beneficial to the environment, reducing pesticide use for the period 1996 to 2004 by an estimated 172 500 MT, and advances in biotechnology are making it possible to genetically enhance plants to produce pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
Makinde questioned the EU's stance on GM crops asking why, in light of all the aforementioned benefits, they have adopted a 'go-slow' approach? Present EU policies and perceptions make R&D, product development and commercialisation in agricultural biotechnology difficult, especially in developing countries that engage in agricultural trade with the EU. European consumers generally perceive GM foods to be 'contaminated' and therefore developing countries that are dependent on the markets in Europe do not wish to grow them and are losing out on vast socio-economic benefits. There are also issues regarding the strict traceability requirements specified in the EU regulations, which most developing countries will find difficult and costly to implement and are unlikely to measure up to.
Makinde concluded in his Biovision presentation by noting that although EU policy has been developed to protect European consumers and the environment from potential dangers, after a decade of use, there have been no cases of GM crops being harmful to human health or the environment. Therefore, there is a considerable imbalance between the hypothetical benefits of non-adoption afforded by the EU policy for its own citizens, and the real and substantial benefits that could be afforded to developing countries. The EU has not taken into account the negative effect that its policies and attitudes are likely to have on those working in the agricultural sector in developing countries.
Global Ocean Sampling Expedition
- PLoS Biology (press release), March 7, 2007 http://www.alphagalileo.org/index.cfm?_rss=1&fuseaction=readrelease&releaseid=518771
Can we ever know the true measure of microbial diversity in the sea or of proteins in nature?
In three new metagenomic studies published online in the open-access journal PLoS Biology, Craig Venter and his team take advantage of the vast amount of microbial sequence data collected during their Sorcerer II Global Ocean Sampling (GOS) expedition to reveal an unprecedented level of genetic and protein diversity in marine microbes.
Venter's team combined the expedition's latest bounty, 6.5 million sequencing "reads," with data previously collected during a pilot study in the Sargasso Sea. The result is a geographically diverse environmental genomic dataset of 6.3 billion base pairs - twice the size of the human genome.
The first paper and accompanying poster by Douglas B. Rusch and colleagues describe the immense amount of microbial diversity in the seas, and discuss how - or if - that diversity is structured and what might be shaping that structure. The second paper by Shibu Yooseph and colleagues studies the 6.12 million proteins identified in the GOS sequences to see if we're close to discovering all the proteins in nature. In the third study, Natarajan Kannan, Susan S. Taylor, Gerard Manning, and colleagues present their classification of 45,000 kinases (including 16,000 from the GOS dataset) into 20 distinct families, revealing their structural and functional diversity and an unexpected role for kinases in prokaryotic signaling.
This collection also includes an accessible and nontechnical summary of the broad significance of this research by Liza Gross. Some unexpected intellectual property challenges have arisen from this project, and these are explored in a feature by Henry Nicholls. A "challenge series" essay by Jonathan Eisen provides insight into the issues surrounding the field of metagenomics today.
To host all the additional metadata that surround metagenomic studies, a new database, CAMERA, has been established, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The GOS data are publicly available and ready for mining in CAMERA. You can read about the capabilities of CAMERA in a Community Page article by Rekha Seshadri and colleagues.
Citation: Yooseph S, Sutton G, Rusch DB, Halpern AL, Williamson SJ, et al. (2007) The Sorcerer II Global Ocean Sampling expedition: Expanding the universe of protein families. PLoS Biol 5(3): e16. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050016.
Let Them Eat Precaution: How Politics is Undermining the Genetic Revolution in Agriculture (Hardcover) by Jon Entine
Only 2 left in stock--order soon (more on the way).
Book Description This book brings together experts from a variety of perspectives on bioengineered food, which holds the promise of radically reducing hunger in the third world but which is mired in political controversy.
From the Publisher More than one million of the world's poorest children die each year from a lack of Vitamin A. Another 100 million children suffer from Vitamin A deficiency, which increases the risk of blindness, infections, and diseases such as measles and malaria. Yet a revolutionary solution to this malignant crisis - a vitamin-enhanced rice--remains unutilized, the victim of anti-science advocacy groups.
The sad fate of Golden Rice, the genetically modified version of the world's most popular staple, is one of many revelations in Let Them Eat Precaution: How Politics Is Undermining the Genetic Revolution in Agriculture (AEI Press, January 2006). Bioengineering has created new kinds of soybeans, wheat, and cotton that generate natural insecticides (making them more resistant to pests and drought and increasing yields); nutrition-added fruits, vegetables, and grains; and futuristic "farmaceuticals" - life-saving medicines made by melding agricultural methods with advanced biotechnology. Countless scientific studies have found that biotech farming can dramatically reduce reliance on costly and environmentally harmful chemicals, and the products that result are safe and healthy.
Editor Jon Entine, along with ten experts from the United States and Great Britain, explain why cultural politics and trade disputes, not science, pose the biggest hurdles in developing these products. Instead of meeting the desperate needs of the world's poor with new medicines and vitamin-fortified crops, anti-biotech campaigners offer liberal doses of the "precautionary principle" - the controversial notion that innovation should be shelved unless all risks can be avoided. Well-funded environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth; organic advocates; religious groups such as Christian Aid; and "socially responsible" investors exploit anxiety about science, caricaturing genetic technology as inherently unpredictable and a "genetic Godzilla" that could usher in an age of "Frankenfoods."
Among the other findings in Let Them Eat Precaution:
--Some 40,000 people--half of them children--die every day from hunger or malnutrition-related causes that genetically modified products could alleviate.
--International advocacy groups have intimidated the Zambian and Zimbabwean governments into rejecting donations of bioengineered grain that would have helped feed the 10.1 million undernourished people in those two countries.
--Biopharmaceuticals such as potatoes transformed into edible vaccines against diarrhea--a leading cause of death in the developing world--and tobacco modified to fight dental cavities, the common cold, and diabetes are caught in a regulatory jungle.
--Anti-biotechnology groups funded by tax-exempt foundations, the social investment community, and the organic and natural products industry masterfully exploit the Internet to spread their message.
--The misinformation campaign has turned one of the founders of Greenpeace into a determined spokesperson for the promise of biotech farming and farmaceuticals.
The anti-biotech industry's admonition of "Don't tamper with nature" may be superficially seductive, but a blanket rule that nature's course is always preferable to scientific innovation is a prescription for paralysis. The authors of Let Them Eat Precaution believe that proponents of biotechnology must reorient their strategy to address the political, social, moral, and economic arguments raised by biotech opponents, rather than relying simply on the scientific evidence. While not a universal panacea, genetically modified technology offers a unique opportunity to address international health and nutrition needs, especially in countries with increasing populations, widespread poverty, and limited funds for expensive and environmentally harmful chemical pesticides.
Let Them Eat Precaution includes --"Beyond Precaution" by Jon Entine, scholar in residence at Miami University of Ohio, and adjunct fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. --"Global Views on Agricultural Biotechnology" by Thomas Jefferson Hoban, director of the Center for Biotechnology in a Global Society and professor in the departments of sociology, anthropology, and food science at North Carolina State University. Mr. Hoban is also a member of the Advisory Committee on Agricultural Biotechnology at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). --"Agricultural Biotechnology Caught in a War of Giants" by C.S. Prakash, professor of plant biotechnology at Tuskegee University and president of AgBio World Foundation; and by Gregory Conko, senior fellow and director of food safety policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. --"Trade War or Culture War? The GM Debate in Britain and the European Union" by Tony Gilland, science and society director at the British Institute of Ideas. --"Hunger, Famine, and the Promise of Biotechnology" by Andrew S. Natsios, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). --"Let Them Eat Precaution: Why GM Crops Are Being Over-Regulated in the Developing World" by Robert L. Paarlberg, professor of political science at Wellesley College; associate of the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University; and consultant for the International Food Policy Research Institute, USAID, USDA, and U.S. State Department. --"Can Public Support for the Use of Biotechnology in Food Be Salvaged?" by Carol Tucker Foreman, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America and former assistant secretary for food and consumer services at the USDA. --"Deconstructing the Agricultural Biotechnology Protest Industry" by Jay Byrne, president of v-Fluence Interactive Public Relations (dealing with issues management, including biotechnology). --"'Functional Foods' and Biopharmaceuticals: The Next Generation of the GM Revolution" by Martina Newell-McGloughlin, director of the Systemwide Biotechnology Research and Education Program at the University of California-Davis; co-director of the NIH Training Program in Biomolecular Technology; member of the Genomics Panel on Technology of the WTO; and member of the Technology Discussion Panel on Sustainable Agriculture at the UN. --"Challenging the Misinformation Campaign of Antibiotechnology Environmentalists" by Patrick Moore, founding member of Greenpeace and former director of Greenpeace International. Mr. Moore now heads the environmental group Greenspirit in Vancouver, Canada.
Praise for Let Them Eat Precaution
"Let Them Eat Precaution does a superb job of educating the reading public on the basic issues of genetically modified foods. The distinguished authors provide a devastating point-by-point refutation of the anti-GMO activists' false claims, providing a reasoned, scientifically grounded perspective on this critical issue. As the Marie Antoinette title implies, though the affluent may be leading the charge against GMO foods, it is the poor who are most likely to suffer the effects of activists that falsely claim to speak for the world's poor." --Thomas DeGregori, professor of economics, University of Houston, and author of Origins of the Organic Agriculture Debate. "A well-funded global antibiotech activist campaign, abetted by European Union regulators more interested in political pandering than good science, threatens to starve millions of the world's poorest people by denying them access to environmentally safer and higher yielding biotech crops. The distinguished experts assembled in Let Them Eat Precaution make it abundantly clear that humanity's health and well-being depend on innovation, not a technological freeze in the name of the "precautionary principle," which demands perfect safety from all new technologies. The contributors carefully document not only the policy challenges facing agricultural biotechnology but the real benefits--from a massive reduction in pesticide use to a slew of new pharmaceuticals and vitamin-enriched foods--that may never come to fruition if antiscience advocacy groups prevail in this battle of ideas." --Ronald Bailey, author of Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution and science correspondent for Reason magazine "This fine volume fills a very useful role in the ongoing debate over the use of biotechnology in foods and pharmaceuticals. Let Them Eat Precaution covers every aspect of the issue, catalogs what is known about GM crops, and helps us understand the ideological basis for opposition to the use of this life-saving technology. The antibiotechnology campaigns are denying food to starving millions--a high price to pay for ideology." --Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Mo.
*by Andrew Apel, guest editor, andrewapel+at+wildblue.net