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June 7, 2000


7 contributions


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

Subj: Re: Organic food
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 9:00:12 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: w.pilacinski@att.net

If "method of production" is a sufficient criteria for a USDA label, then
why not a USDA label for Kosher, or any other food production method
based on personal or religious belief?

Joseph Houseal wrote:

> This is FALSE. Organic is a production method, free of chemicals and
> pesticides. That's not marketing, that's agricultural method. You might
> want to add " no claims can be made about nutritional superiority by
> standards", but to say organic is the same as conventional food is
> and irresponsible.

Date: Jun 07 2000 10:48:31 EDT
From: George Thomas (by way of C. S. Prakash)
Subject: Re: Vandana Shiva's Opposition to Food Aid

Re: Vandana Shiva's Opposition to Food Aid

Dear Prakash:

I get hopping mad when I see this kind of crap. What do these people mean?

They think they are talking for the suffering people of Orissa. (They also
feel that they are mouth pieces of the Indian farmer who is being cheated
by multinationals with TERMINATOR seeds!!) Would they rather let the
victims die than eat this food? I would like to know what the victims feel

This food may be rejected by the Europeans because they have their
reasons. They have too much food. Food is too sacred for some of them.
They don't need GM food now. But the same food is consumed in the US. It
is not as if this is poison, or some fungus infected product. It is good
food and it can save many lives. But, oh the protectors of all Indians
prefer hunger death to eating food that is not liked by the Europeans, but
eaten by the Americans.

Why this cry of guinea pigs and all? Those who don't like this food need
not eat it (if they can afford not to). But pray tell me, who is doing
experiment on whom? And who are these "diverse women" to decide for the
victims of the cyclone, what they should eat? As if we eat such great food
in India- Adulteration with poisonous oils and brick powder (in chilly
powder) and deadly red dyes+saccharin (injected into water melons).... the
list just goes on. Man, GM foods are a thousand times safer than some of
the junk that we eat in India.

And if the saviours of India were doing some biodiversity regeneration in
the cyclone hit areas- why did they bother to test the supplies? Clearly,
they were only interested in proving that GM food is dumped in Orissa (as
if that in some way damages the delicate biodiversity of the cyclone hit

When Jim Watson used some harsh and unprintable words against the greens
in a public meeting at MSSRF during his visit to Chennai, I felt a little
bad for Shiva who was in the audience. But the more I hear about their
activities and false propaganda, I feel that Shiva and her lot fully
deserve the accolades Watson showered on them.

(The situation is like a beggar refusing a hamburger offered by a kind
soul saying that it is bad for his heart! He can jump around and create a
scene on the street saying that the kind soul is trying to kill him by
feeding unhealthy food which is not consumed by a lot of health conscious
Europeans. And why is this kind man not labelling the hamburger that it is
dangerous to helath? And why is the kind man promoting MacDonalds under
the pretext of helping a homeless hungry man? He is only interested in
promoting American business. The beggar will not be a party to such
devious plans. Hey, I may be a beggar, but I would rather die than eat the

I am not implicating that India is begging or anything, it is just an


George Thomas
Centre for Biotechnology
SPIC Science Foundation
111 Mount Road, Guindy
Chennai-600 032 (Madras)

Phone: 91-44-235-0902 or 91-44-230-0280 or 91-44-235-2332Extn301
Fax: 91-44-235-1504 or 2163
email: gt@biotech.smi.ernet.in

Date: Jun 07 2000 14:37:07 EDT
From: "Frances B. Smith"
Subject: Greenpeace's new anti-biotech web site

Greenpeace has established a new anti-biotechnology web site. The link is
listed below. The site is very grassroots action-oriented with "action
guides" for readers to petition major food companies, etc. against using
foods produced through biotechnology.


Frances B. Smith
Executive Director
Consumer Alert
Phone: 202-467-5809

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Date: Jun 08 2000 07:27:10 EDT
From: "C. S. Prakash"

(from Agnet)

June 5, 2000
The Associated Press
Mike Glover
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Mark Berg, president of Foundation EARTH and a
soybean farmer from Tripp, S.D., was, according to this story, touring the
state with a former state lawmaker, circulating a petition declaring
support for biotechnology and its benefits to health and the environment,
adding, "As farmers are planting soybeans, corn and other crops this year,
we think it is important for the general public to hear directly from
growers about why we use biotechnology." Berg said that much of the
argument over genetically modified crops has been dominated by critics who
warn about uncertainty over long-term health
consequences and the dangers of modifying natural products, but that
misses important points.

Allen Borlaug, a former state senator and farmer from Protivin and a
cousin of Norman E. Borlaug, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his
work in developing high-yielding grain and who was along on the swing, was
quoted as saying, "The use of biotech is going to revolutionize farming
and make it
possible to raise food with less impact on the environment."

Foreign Affairs, May/June 2000

New technologies often provoke strong resistance-even when their benefits
vastly outweigh their potential harms. As Wellesley professor Robert
Paarlberg shows, nowhere is this better seen than with genetically
modified crops. Transgenic food has no proven downside, but
scare-mongering consumer groups in Europe continue to lead a global
backlash against this new technology. The battle has pitted rich American
farmers against rich European consumers. The real losers, however, are the
poor farmers and underfed citizens of the tropics, who desperately need
all the help that gene science can deliver.

"In the tropics, many consumers are not yet well fed and most farmers are
not yet wealthy. Larger investments in the genetic modification of some
crops could open a new avenue of escape from poverty and malnutrition for
hundreds of millions of citizens in Asia, African, and Latin America. Yet
far too little is being done to make that happen."

Date: Jun 08 2000 09:36:33 EDT
From: "Frances B. Smith"
Subject: Fw: GM foods and the Torah

Dear Colleagues, By way of Howard Feinberg of STATS, in which Howard
replies to a May 19
letter to the editor of the Times (UK) re GM foods and Torah restrictions.

Frances B. Smith
Executive Director
Consumer Alert
Phone: 202-467-5809

>>From Mr Stephen Shaw
>Sir, The call by the Prince of Wales for an injection of spiritual values
>into genetic engineering (reports, May 18) coincides with a reading this
>coming sabbath from Leviticus (xxv) by Jewish communities all over the
>The reading requires farmers to work the land in seven-year cycles,
>the land to lie fallow on the seventh year. There are also biblical
>restrictions on mixing and cross-grafting of species (Leviticus xix, 19).
>One need not be a believer to sense the rationale behind these
>Whilst it is easy for research scientists, whose vision may not always be
>objective, to dismiss the Prince's concerns, he is surely right to
>the debate.
>Lamb Chambers,
>Temple, EC4Y 7AS.
>May 18.
From Howard Feinberg,
>So now I can offer a religious refutation, which I thought ought to be
>shared widely.
>First of all, the Leviticus 19 commandment not to mix seeds is normally
>interpreted to mean using two different kinds of seed on the same field
>the same time. Literally, mixing seeds. It has never been interpreted to
>have any bearing on either cross-breeding or genetic modification. If it
>been, observant Jews would not be allowed to consume most crops in the
>nor in the present, because they would not be kosher (clean under the
>of kashrut, the most well known of which is no pork, and no mixing of
>and meat).
>Second of all, the restrictions on mixing seeds and the Leviticus 25
>restrictions on farming in seven year cycles are commonly interpreted to
>only applicable in the Holy Land - Israel. People elsewhere need not get
>their genetically modified knickers in a twist...
>Howard Fienberg hfienberg@stats.org
>Research Analysthttp://www.stats.org
>The Statistical Assessment Service
>2100 L. St., NW (202) 223-3193
>Suite 300 FAX: 872-4014
>Washington, DC 20037 ICQ#: 38550600
>The Statistical Assessment Service is a nonprofit, nonpartisan
>dedicated to improving public understanding of scientific and social

Subj: RE: article
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 12:15:44 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From:"Clothier, Jeffrey"


I am aware and sympathize with the differing attitudes toward commerce in
the UK, however, the message needs to get out that not all companies
operate the same. Many, such as my own - whose Bt corn event has been
shown in a peer-reviewed field study NOT to harm non-target lepidoptera
(http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/130202097v1) - have been extremely
responsible, developing trust among our customers and consumers alike, and
in the process, turn a fair profit. This enables us to pay our workers
well, continue to research safe, quality products and bring them to
market, and do the advance regulatory science which provides for the
approval both in the US and the European Union of the majority of our
genetically-enhanced product line. I understand the need to be sensitive
to your audience's predilections, however, I don't think you necessarily
have to play to them, particularly if the sentiments you feel you must
express are not your own.

Best regards,

Jeff Clothier
Web Coordinator
Employee Communications
Pioneer Hi-Bred Int'l, Inc.
Des Moines, IA 50306

-----Original Message-----
From: Tony Trewavas [mailto:trewavas@srv0.bio.ed.ac.uk]
Sent: Wednesday, June 07, 2000 4:02 AM
To: Clothier, Jeffrey
Subject: article

Dear Jeff

Thank you for your comments about my article/speech. I am afraid the
reason i have to say that I regret the commercialisation is that in teh
UK it is a major problem and anything I say will be discounted if I have
large commercial grants. I do regret it because I recognise that it is
the world in which I live but I also know that commerce has not been
clear on its markets for GM. Monsanto tried an advertising schedule
claiming GM would basically feed mankind in the UK and it went down like a
bomb because transparently that is very unlikely that companies will
bother very much. If Monsanto had at the beginning stated that one third
of their profit on GM soya would go towards producing a casava free of
cyanide which they would then give away it would have been excellent
business sense and teh populace here would have felt they were
contributing towords something of intrinsic moral value. The attitudes to
business in the UK and in the USA are different. So in order to be heard
at all I have to take a neutral stance. Sorry I know you company people
feel aggrieved but you have to rely on my feelings about my audience who
can be very aggressive. If you want to see how the opposition feels about
my article read the FOE site circulated by Prakash.

Kind regards

Anthony Trewavas FRS
Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology
Mayfield Road
University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh EH9 3JH
Phone 44 (0)1316505328
Fax 44 (0)1316505392
email Trewavas@ed.ac.uk
web site http://www.ed.ac.uk/~gidi/main.html
To view the web site simply click on the address

Subj: Re: Bees and butterflies
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 7:08:56 PM Eastern Daylight Time

I guess I'll add to the horse's carcass, since I also sent along my
complaints about the story. The points are no different from those that
have come before, except that I would note 75% of the complaints have come
from the Research Triangle are of NC.

Dear All Things Considered:

While listening to John Nielsen's report on the Monarch butterflies,
I wasbothered by the focus he brought to component of the story dealing
with thepotential perils of genetically modified crops (GMOs). The
discussion was exclusively on whether the larvae ever made it to the upper
surface of the plant, which is where he claimed most of the pollen would
be deposited. I am writing because of the apparent lack of understanding
that Nielsen either has or has bothered to learn about this issue. The
"site of deposition/location of larvae" issue is, at best, a distant
third among the reasons cited as to why Bt corn is not a significant
problem for Monarch larvae (outside of certain artificial laboratory
settings in upstate NY). Bt corn is not viewed among most scientists as a
problem for Monarch butterfly larvae for two primary reasons. First, in
much of the US, there is little or no temporal overlap between the time of
appearance of Monarch larvae and corn pollination. Second, corn pollen is
sufficiently heavy that lethal levels would not be expected at distances
more than roughly five feet beyond the edge of the corn field. All of
this can be found on a Website that came out of a symposium held last
November in Chicago to look
at research findings on the topic in the wake of the letter to the
journal Nature published Losey et al.
<http://www.fooddialogue.com/monarch/environ.html>. The conclusions
reached at that symposium were the same as those reached originally in
1995 by the EPA that Bt corn did not present any "unreasonable adverse
effects" to butterflies.

As critical, and one of the things that gets lost in the shrill
nature of the ongoing debate over GMOs is the fact that Bt corn represents
a far more sustainable form of agriculture than the practices it is
designed to replace. Wholesale spraying of insecticides on a field kills
every insect within and near the confines of the field. As noted, not
only is Bt corn likely to have little negative effect on Monarch larvae
(and none on the
adult butterfly because it does not feed on milkweed), but it is without
effect on a large number of agriculturally beneficial insects, including
ladybird beetles, honey bees and green lacewings that are all imminently
susceptible to current insecticide practice. Indeed, while anecdotal,
there is indication of a greater level of insect diversity and population
density around Bt cornfields, relative to fields treated with conventional
insecticides (as would be expected).

In summary, I found Nielsen's reporting on a topic that has a clear
and long-standing body of scientific evidence to be distinctly shoddy
and/or biased, neither of which should be acceptable to NPR. This is not
the level of objectivity that I have come to expect of NPR. If Nielsen is
not capable of reporting objectively on science-related issues, perhaps he
should not be assigned them. I would also note that there are a number of
professional scientific societies that would be happy to give your
reporters the names of scientists who are both untainted by industry money
and qualified to help your reporters understand the science behind these
very important issues. I serve as Chair of the Public Affairs Committee
of the American Society of Plant Physiologists and would be happy to help
your reporters any time to find qualified and objective scientists who can
speak on the subject of genetically modified crops.

This is far too important an issue to let Nielsen's report go
unchallengedto my mind. There are critical issues associated with the
introduction of genetically modified crops that require further study. It
is indeed sad to see the voices of eco-extremism drown out those of
objectivity when it comes to a technology that not only will be essential
(albeit not alone) in helping to feed the population in the 21st Century,
but also offers the possibility of a far more sustainable and
environmentally friendly approach to agriculture than that currently

Sincerely yours,

Jim Siedow
Professor of Biology

James N. Siedow Ph: (919) 613-8180
DCMB/Botany FAX (919) 613-8177
B354 LSRC E-mail: jsiedow@duke.edu
Research Drive
Box 91000
Duke University
Durham NC 27708-1000