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May 22, 2008


French pass GM bill; Swiss may extend ban; Politics, farming and food


* French pass bill on GM crops
* Swiss want to roll over biotech ban
* Targeting Farmers for Political Gain
* Genetic "Fix" for Sweet Corn Hybrids
* Composition of MON 89034 Corn
* GrainGenes Speeds Gene Discovery
* First Draft of Oil Palm Genome
* Pakistan on Ug99 High Alert
* Greens and Hunger
* Rice and Baloney
* Impact of Rising Food Prices - EU 27
* 2nd World Botanic Garden Scientific Congress


French lawmakers pass bill on GM crops

- Emile Picy, Reuters, May 21, 2008


PARIS - French legislators passed a bill on genetically modified crops on Tuesday, after blocking the same text by a single vote last week in what had been an embarrassment for President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The bill, which will regulate the cultivation of GM crops in France, passed by 289 to 221 after the ruling right wing UMP party achieved an almost unified front along with centrists.

Last week, the right had been split and many deputies were absent for the vote on the bill, a thorny issue which stirs strong passions in France.

At one point on Tuesday, clerks had to intervene to stop deputies coming to blows. Pro-GM members see the bill as too restrictive and opponents call it overly lax.

France is the European Union's main agricultural power and its largest exporter of farm products. The bill has drawn criticism from a wide spectrum of interest groups on both sides.

France's upper house of Parliament, held by a UMP majority, will examine the bill on Thursday and still has to approve it before it becomes law.

Opposition Socialists, left-wing parties, and environmental campaigners oppose the bill, which they say is too favourable to the interests of biotech companies such as U.S. giant Monsanto.

Environmentalists say it blurs the line between natural and GM foods to the detriment of farmers and consumers, while advocates of GM crops say it does not go far enough in protecting biotech companies from sabotage.

Opinion polls show a vast majority of French people are opposed to GM crops because they have not seen enough proof that such crops pose no risk to consumers and the environment.


Swiss government wants to roll over biotech ban

The Swiss government intends to roll over the national ban on the use of agricultural biotechnology for three more years until 2013.

- GMO Compass, May 21, 2008


Switzerland's agriculture will stay "GMO-free" until 2013 when the outcome of a National Research Programme (NRP59) on the benefits and risks of genetically modified plants has been concluded and the outcome is known. Programme results are expected by mid 2012.

The research programme was initiated shortly after the adoption of the current national moratorium in 2005. This ban prohibits the cultivation of genetically modified plants and the market placement of transgenic animals for food production. However, unless further action is taken, the moratorium will expire in November 2010.

The Swiss government has questioned the sense of beginning commercial agro-biotechnology before research results on the particularities of local agriculture and the environment are known. Solely on the basis of the results of NRP59 would it be possible to institute regulations for the growing of GM crops that guarantee the biosafety of genetically modified plants as well as co-existence between GM, conventional and organic production systems. The administration intends therefore to prolong the national moratorium, which also ensures that the research programme be conducted and concluded without political pressure.

Furthermore, the Swiss government sees no reason to lift the ban at all, since it has caused no problems in agriculture, in research or in international relations. Swiss agriculture rather has been enabled thereby to distinguish itself in a positive manner from competitors as GMO-free.


Targeting Farmers for Political Gain

- Vern DeLong, Bangor Daily News, May 20, 2008


As a person who works with farmers every day, I take issue with the recent column "Counter-revolutionaries in Montville" (BDN, May 2), which praised the Montville town meeting vote to ban the planting of genetically modified crops, calling it a "distant echo of the American Revolution." But instead of targeting red coats from away, Montville has taken aim at its own citizens - farmers who are just trying to survive. Instead of throwing off the yoke of oppressive government, Montville's ordinance banning genetically modified organisms creates more government by requiring farmers to clear their planting decisions with town officials.

No amount of talk about "idealism and independence" can conceal what really happened in Montville. Since 2005, two activists who came here from Vermont have been trying to launch a town-by-town campaign to ban GMOs similar to the effort that failed in Vermont. After two years of intense lobbying, Montville finally bit.

There are two problems with the Montville ordinance. First, it violates Maine's right to farm law. The Maine Department of Agriculture and the attorney general have sent letters to the town to let them know Maine towns are prohibited from banning farming practices that are "best management practices." The law was passed to make sure Maine farmers have access to all farming methods so they can stay competitive.

But the biggest problem with Montville's action is that it targets farmers just to make a political statement. This battle isn't about food safety as the activists want you to believe. Foods with genetically modified ingredients have been on our grocery shelves for more than a decade and not one single health problem has ever been documented. It's not about protecting organic farmers either. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that not a single organic farmer has lost certification because of GMOs. This is a political battle being run by people who have no stake in Maine farming, but who are willing to use our farmers to "send a message."

Farming is a tough business, and it isn't getting any easier. The rising price of oil is pushing up the price of fertilizer and fuel. This year, some Maine farmers will experience losses. Some may have to give up farming altogether. To remain competitive, farmers need to be able to choose the crops and farming methods that best suit their situation.

For example, some Maine potato farmers plant canola as a rotational crop. Canola is used to make cooking oil. At first we thought conventional canola would fetch a premium in the marketplace. It turned out this wasn't the case. So some farmers switched to planting genetically modified canola, looking for higher yields.

Dairy farming is in flux too. In past years, a number of Maine dairy farmers switched to organic production to capture higher organic milk prices. Now some of them are switching back because the higher cost of organic feed for their cows is wiping out the price difference. The point is farmers need more options, not fewer.

Coexistence is a tradition in farming. Just because I choose to farm organically doesn't mean you have to, and vice versa. Differences are worked out over the fence. Coexistence is also the state's official policy on organic, conventional and GMO farming methods.

Montville residents have an opportunity to right the wrong done at town meeting. Repeal the ordinance. And if they still want to send a message, find a way to do it that doesn't victimize farmers who are just trying to make a living in hard economic times.

Vernon DeLong is executive director of the Maine Agricultural Bargaining Council, which negotiates produce contracts on behalf of its members.


Researchers Identify Genetic "Fix" for Problem in Some Sweet Corn Hybrids

- Jan Suszkiw, USDA Agricultural Research Service, May 21, 2008


A genetic quirk discovered in some sweet corn hybrids by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and University of Illinois (UI) scientists is helping plant breeders make critical "repairs" to the crop's herbicide-degrading machinery.

Several herbicides registered for use on sweet corn kill weeds but not the crop, thanks to protective enzymes in corn that rapidly degrade the chemicals. But some sweet corn hybrids aren't so lucky; they harbor a genetic defect that impedes the enzymes, causing herbicides to linger in the plants, which suffer stunted growth or other harm.

Now, with the defect known, plant breeders have begun using a technique called backcrossing to eliminate this herbicide-sensitivity from germplasm used to develop commercial hybrids. This should greatly reduce the risk of injury to sweet corn from registered herbicides, notes Marty Williams, an ecologist in the ARS Invasive Weed Management Research Unit in Urbana, Ill.

Together with UI colleague Jerald Pataky, Williams elaborates on the problem of herbicide sensitivity in sweet corn, and the benefits expected from discovering its genetic cause, in two articles in Weed Science. One article identifies the genetic cause of sensitivity to tembotrione, a new corn herbicide available this year. The other article - written with UI colleague Dean Riechers; Jon Nordby, formerly with UI; and General Mills' Joe Lutz - details the genetic basis of sensitivity to several existing herbicides.

The team found that a cytochrome P450 gene, which regulates metabolism of nicosulfuron and bentazon, is also responsible for protecting corn from other unrelated, P450-metabolized herbicides. By examining offspring plants derived from a cross between a herbicide-sensitive sweet corn inbred and a herbicide-tolerant inbred, they concluded that a defect in the P450-gene - or a very closely-linked P450 gene - results in damage to plants from five distinct herbicide classes.

The team's subsequent evaluations of 54 sweet corn hybrids and 40 inbred lines found the faulty P450 gene is widespread in both processing and fresh-market types of sweet corn grown throughout North America, but that it can eventually be eliminated with selective breeding.


Composition of Forage and Grain from Second-Generation Insect-Protected Corn MON 89034 Is Equivalent to That of Conventional Corn (Zea mays L.)

- Suzanne M. Drury, Tracey L. Reynolds, et. al., J. Agric. Food Chem., May 20, 2008



Insect-protected corn hybrids containing Cry insecticidal proteins derived from Bacillus thuringiensis have protection from target pests and provide effective management of insect resistance. MON 89034 hybrids have been developed that produce both the Cry1A.105 and Cry2Ab2 proteins, which provide two independent modes of insecticidal action against the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) and other lepidopteran insect pests of corn. The composition of MON 89034 corn was compared to conventional corn by measuring proximates, fiber, and minerals in forage and by measuring proximates, fiber, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, antinutrients, and secondary metabolites in grain collected from 10 replicated field sites across the United States and Argentina during the 2004-2005 growing seasons. Analyses established that the forage and grain from MON 89034 are compositionally comparable to the control corn hybrid and conventional corn reference hybrids. These findings support the conclusion that MON 89034 is compositionally equivalent to conventional corn hybrids.


GrainGenes Website Speeds Gene Discovery

- Marcia Wood, USDA Agricultural Research Service, May 20, 2008


Even though there's much about wheat that's familiar and ordinary, one feature of this ancient crop - its genetic makeup - remains relatively unknown. In fact, the everyday wheat plant doesn't just have one genome; it has several. In all, wheat's genetic makeup is gargantuan and complex. And it isn't yielding easily to scientists' probing.

To help accelerate discovery of this familiar crop's mostly unfamiliar genes, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Albany, Calif., and Ithaca, N.Y., developed GrainGenes. This specialized website provides some of the newest and best research information for a range of viewers interested in wheat, barley, oats, rye and triticale.

For example, it offers content useful not only to those who are investigating the structure and function of cereal crop genes, but also to those who carry out traditional crop breeding to develop superior plants for tomorrow.

Located on the Web at http://wheat.pw.usda.gov, GrainGenes garners enthusiastic repeat visits from researchers worldwide. That's because the site is comprehensive, user-friendly and packed with interesting, helpful information.

Olin D. Anderson, research leader of the ARS Genomics and Gene Discovery Research Unit, along with plant geneticist Gerard R. Lazo and bioinformaticist David E. Matthews, manage GrainGenes. Anderson and Lazo are based at the Western Regional Research Center in Albany. Matthews works in Ithaca.

This ongoing assignment includes collating, cross-indexing and curating the more than 2 million pages that make up the site. Every business day, the team adds "need-to-know" text and graphics, including findings from the research team's own laboratories.

Read more about this research in the May/June 2008 issue of Agricultural Research magazine: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/may08/genes0508.htm

Visit GrainGenes: http://wheat.pw.usda.gov/GG2/index.shtml


First Draft of Oil Palm Genome Completed by Synthetic Genomics Inc and Asiatic Centre for Genome Technology

Partners Announce Progress on Sequence and Analysis of Jatropha Genome

Knowledge of the plant and environment genomes will foster the development of improved plant feedstocks, biofertilizers, plant disease diagnostic and control solutions and renewable fuels

- Asiatic Centre for Genome Technology and Synthetic Genomics Inc. (press release), May 21, 2008


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia and LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Asiatic Centre for Genome Technology Sdn Bhd (ACGT), which is focused on the commercial application of genome technology to improve oil palm and other crops and Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI), a privately held company dedicated to commercializing genomic-driven solutions to address global energy and environmental challenges, today announced the completion of a first draft assembly and annotation of the oil palm genome. The organizations also announced that they have made progress in sequencing and analyzing the jatropha genome. The oil palm and jatropha genome projects represent the first stages of research undertaken through a joint venture between SGI and ACGT which was announced in 2007 and is aimed at developing more high-yielding and disease-resistant plant feedstocks. ACGT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Asiatic Development Berhad, an oil palm plantation company listed on Bursa Malaysia (Malaysian Stock Exchange) and a member of the Genting Group.

The oil palm genome is approximately 1.8 billion base pairs in size, about four times the size of the rice genome and two thirds the size of the maize genome. The groups sequenced a combination of two oil palm races -- tenera and dura, to produce seven-fold coverage of the plant's genome, which represents the most comprehensive sequence and analysis of this genome. SGI and ACGT will continue to do additional sequencing and analysis of the oil palm genome and when completed, this will become the reference genome.

The Companies are also conducting an in-depth genomic, physiological and biochemical analysis of jatropha, a robust oil seed crop whose oil is suitable for conversion into cleaner, renewable fuels. Jatropha readily grows on marginal lands not used for food production. Since jatropha is a non- domesticated crop with few published studies, it has significant potential for improvements in yield and agronomic properties. The jatropha genome is 500 million base pairs in size, similar to the size of the rice genome. The organizations will continue to sequence and analyze the jatropha genome to achieve ten-fold coverage.

"The genome sequences of these highly productive oilseed crops will enable the in-depth understanding of genes encoding for plant yield and health and foster the development of improved plant varieties. We are also characterizing the important microbes living in the environments around these plants," said J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Synthetic Genomics. "Our goal is to harness this knowledge to produce improved feedstocks, renewable fuels, biofertilizers, and disease-control solutions."

The draft oil palm genome is already yielding important information including unique genetic variations linked to traits that differ in the two races. One example of this pertains to kernel shell thickness which differs between the two. Since fruits with thinner kernel shells yield more oil, the groups are seeking to understand the genetic basis for shell thickness. These molecular markers and others can be used in breeding and tissue-culture based approaches to address plant yield, oil quality, growth and height and other important properties, including fertilizer requirements and stress and disease tolerance.

"The completion of the first draft sequence of the oil palm genome and progress on the jatropha genome are significant milestones towards the genetic improvement of these inherently high yielding oil crops. Unlocking the knowledge encoded in the genomes could further increase our understanding of these important crops which could lead to substantially improved oil yield. With such enhanced productivity, growing oil palm and jatropha could be the sustainable solution to fulfilling the world's need for a wide variety of products," said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chief Executive of Asiatic Development Berhad.

SGI and ACGT are also using environmental genomic techniques to sequence and analyze the root, soil and leaf microbial communities surrounding the oil palm and jatropha plants. Understanding the oil palm and jatropha genomes and their environments will enable the groups to develop diagnostic tests for plant diseases as well as agents for their control, leading to healthier and more productive crops. These genomic-based interventions will contribute to more efficient land usage with higher agricultural yield and more sustainable development with improved stewardship of the plantation environment.


Pakistan on Ug99 High Alert

- USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, May 21, 2008


Pakistan is on high alert following detection of the deadly Ug99 wheat stem rust disease in Iran in March 2008. Initial steps have already been taken by the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council and the National Wheat Program to develop wheat varieties with resistance to the deadly disease. It is predicted that Ug99 could reach Pakistan within 2 to 3 years. To date, Ug99 has not been detected in Pakistan's 2008 wheat crop. The Government of Pakistan has allocated 40 million rupees (USD 645,000) for agricultural research to combat the threat to the domestic wheat crop. Two Pakistani plant scientists will attend training this year on Ug99 at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico under USDA's Borlaug Fellowship Program.

View the Acrobat version: http://www.fas.usda.gov/gainfiles/200805/146294600.pdf

View/Download the MS Word version: http://www.fas.usda.gov/gainfiles/200805/146294600.doc


Greens and Hunger

- John Tierney, The New York Times, May 19, 2008


Farmers and consumers in poor countries are now paying the price now for decisions made by well-fed Westerners, as reported by my colleagues Keith Bradsher and Andrew Martin in their front-page article on cutbacks in financing for agricultural research. They explain how the Green Revolution faltered after Western governments and agencies slashed funds for agricultural research, partly to shift money to other areas, like environmental projects, and partly because of opposition to high-yield agriculture from advocacy groups.

If you find it hard to imagine how anyone could be opposed to growing more food for poor people, read Gregg Easterbrook's 1997 Atlantic Monthly article on Norman Borlaug, the agronomist whose achievements through the Green Revolution may have saved a billion lives. Mr. Easterbrook wrote:

The Ford and Rockefeller Foundations and the World Bank, once sponsors of his work, have recently given Borlaug the cold shoulder. Funding institutions have also cut support for the International Maize and Wheat Center - located in Mexico and known by its Spanish acronym, CIMMYT - where Borlaug helped to develop the high-yield, low-pesticide dwarf wheat upon which a substantial portion of the world's population now depends for sustenance. And though Borlaug's achievements are arguably the greatest that Ford or Rockefeller has ever funded, both foundations have retreated from the last effort of Borlaug's long life: the attempt to bring high-yield agriculture to Africa.

Pressure from environmentalists was the chief reason for these cutbacks, Mr. Easterbrook reported:

[By]the 1980s finding fault with high-yield agriculture had become fashionable. Environmentalists began to tell the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations and Western governments that high-yield techniques would despoil the developing world. As Borlaug turned his attention to high-yield projects for Africa, where mass starvation still seemed a plausible threat, some green organizations became determined to stop him there. "The environmental community in the 1980s went crazy pressuring the donor countries and the big foundations not to support ideas like inorganic fertilizers for Africa," says David Seckler, the director of the International Irrigation Management Institute.

Environmental lobbyists persuaded the Ford Foundation and the World Bank to back off from most African agriculture projects. The Rockefeller Foundation largely backed away too - though it might have in any case, because it was shifting toward an emphasis on biotechnological agricultural research. "World Bank fear of green political pressure in Washington became the single biggest obstacle to feeding Africa," Borlaug says. The green parties of Western Europe persuaded most of their governments to stop supplying fertilizer to Africa; an exception was Norway, which has a large crown corporation that makes fertilizer and avidly promotes its use. Borlaug, once an honored presence at the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, became, he says, "a tar baby to them politically, because all the ideas the greenies couldn't stand were sticking to me."

Dr. Borlaug didn't disguise his anger in summarizing his feelings about greens to Mr. Easterbrook:

"Some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things."

This issue is timely today not just because of the current food shortages but because greens are calling for vast sums of money to be spent off future climate change. And just as money was diverted from agricultural research for environmental projects in the 1980s, there's a danger that immediate problems in poor countries will be shortchanged by pursuing the long-term agenda of wealthy Westerners, as Bjorn Lomborg has been arguing. When I wrote about Dr. Lomborg's proposal to focus less on climate change and more on problems like malnutrition and disease, he told me: "I don't think our descendants will thank us for leaving them poorer and less healthy just so we could do a little bit to slow global warming. I'd rather we were remembered for solving the other problems first."

What do you think? Are we in danger of repeating the mistakes of the 1980s when it comes to financing research? And does the current hostility in Europe to genetically modified crops seem reminiscent of the 1980s opposition to high-yield agriculture - an ideological stance that appeals to the wealthy but hurts the poor?


Rice and Baloney

Irrational Policies the World Over Are Making the Food Crisis Worse

- Sebastian Mallaby, The Washington Post, May 18, 2008


We are now several months into the global food crisis, which is a much bigger deal than the subprime meltdown for most people in the world. Food prices have almost doubled in three years, threatening to push 100 million people into absolute poverty, undoing much of the development progress of the past few years. The new hunger has triggered riots from Haiti to Egypt to Ethiopia, threatening political stability; it has conjured up a raft of protectionist policies, threatening globalization. And yet the response to this crisis from governments the world over has been lackadaisical or worse.

Start with the lunatic story of rice stockpiles in Japan. A new paper from the Center for Global Development describes how Japan's government imports rice in order to comply with its global trade commitments but withholds most of that rice from consumers lest they decide they prefer it to the local sort. Japanese traditionalists view the consumption of sticky, short-grained rice as a patriotic duty. So rather than letting Mrs. Watanabe corrupt her children's dietary habits, Japan stores much of its imported rice until it has become unfit for human consumption, whereupon it is sold to feed livestock.

From the perspective of Japan, stockpiling rice is a costly exercise in chauvinism, but Japan can afford that. From the world's perspective, the stockpiling is more serious. More than 3 billion people depend on rice as their daily staple, and half of them are very poor. Japan could save many of them from hunger if it released its stocks.

The scandal is not just Japanese, however. In order for Japan to sell its rice outside its borders, it needs permission from the countries that supplied it -- the United States, Thailand and Vietnam. A bit of U.S. leadership could deliver that permission easily, but the Bush administration is apparently worried about a backlash from American rice growers who see no downside in high prices, thank you very much. Not for the first time in Washington do the fat welfare queens of the farm lobby trample on the poorest people in the world.

Speaking of welfare queens, Congress passed a farm bill last week with thunderous bipartisan support. The bill includes reasonable subsidies for low-income Americans hit by high food prices, but it also sprays money at farmers who already earn more than the average taxpayer and contains shockingly little for the world's poor. Congress is considering a separate bill that would boost international food aid more substantially. But that measure has been met with shameful indifference by lawmakers and consequently has stalled.

Congress won't even act on a common-sense proposal from the Bush administration that food aid be reformed. If the United States bought some of the food that it donates from other countries, it could get aid to the needy faster and more cheaply. But that would upset American farmers and shipping interests, as a new Council on Foreign Relations paper emphasizes. The president's proposal has few takers on the Hill.

The Europeans, for their part, have their own way of entrenching hunger. Just as Japan is wedded to its rice culture, Europe is irrationally hostile to genetically modified food. Study after study has found no danger in seeds that have been manipulated to grow better, withstand insects or survive in arid soil. But the Europeans still feel squeamish, and their hang-up deters Africans from taking advantage of crop science lest their exports be barred from European markets. Again, a peccadillo that to Europeans is affordable starves people in the poor world.

Finally, poor countries themselves have made things worse. Panicked at the prospect of food riots, countries with crop surpluses have forbidden exports in an attempt to bottle up supply and keep prices down. More than 40 countries have imposed some kind of export restraint, with the result that countries suffering food deficits have seen prices hit the roof. This nationalized hoarding is frustrating international relief efforts. The World Food Program has sought to buy food from countries with surpluses, such as Pakistan, to ship to desperate neighbors such as Afghanistan. But Pakistan drags its feet about selling.

Part of the solution to the food crisis, as the Oxford economist Paul Collier has written, is to promote large-scale commercial agriculture in the poor world. But for that to happen, investors have to know that there will be a market for their exports. They won't risk their money if Congress is going to subsidize their American competitors. They won't risk their money if European prejudice is going to prevent them from using the best seeds that scientists offer. And they won't risk their money if the governments of developing countries short-circuit their profits with crazy export bans.

In short, the governments of the world are conspiring to undermine farming in developing countries. Do they mean to inflict hunger on tens of millions of people?


Impact of Rising Food Prices - EU 27

- USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, May 21, 2008


Rising food and commodity prices have been the subject of heated political debate among the governing bodies of the European Union. This report summarizes some of the basic elements of this debate within the context of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). As the EU-27 Member States collectively help shape the CAP, and often implement it within the context of local conditions, this report should be read in conjunction with other GAIN reports from EU Member States Capitals.

View the Acrobat version: http://www.fas.usda.gov/gainfiles/200805/146294609.pdf

View/Download the MS Word version: http://www.fas.usda.gov/gainfiles/200805/146294609.doc


Guest ed. note: According to the report, "Historically, EU food production has been heavily influenced by the CAP. However, through successive CAP reforms, farm support payments have become increasingly decoupled from production." This is because the CAP, which establishes heavy subsidies for European farmers (the average cow gets more money than many Africans), increasingly pays farmers for "environmental protection" instead of food production. It's still a farm subsidy, but it's "green" enough to pass scrutiny. This brief on Europe's odd, expensive governance of farming is well worth reading.


2nd World Botanic Garden Scientific Congress

Challenges in Botanical Research and Climate Change

- Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Delft, The Netherlands, 29 June - 4 July 2008


Botanical Garden TU Delft

Opening lectures and debate on Sunday 29 June 2008 on Climate Change Bjørn Lomborg & Andreas Fischlin

* Lomborg: Author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist" and "Cool It", director of Copenhagen Consensus Center, Denmark

* Fischlin: Head of Terrestrial Systems ecology group, co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize 2007, Switzerland

Dear Colleagues and Friends

On behalf of Botanic Gardens Conservation International and the Delft University of Technology we are delighted to inform you that the 2nd World Botanic Garden Science Congress will be held in Delft, the Netherlands, on 29 June - 4 July 2008.

The title of the Congress is Challenges in Botanical Research and Climate Change and the main themes are Conservation and Climate Change, Bionics, New Systematics and Future Issues. We invite you all to join us at this exciting Congress.

The Congress will provide opportunities to share experiences and research findings from botanic gardens around the world. The programme will include talks by influential scientists and environmental leaders, facilitated discussions and practical demonstrations. A wide range of social events is also being planned. More details will follow on this website later.

*by Andrew Apel, guest editor, andrewapel*at*wildblue.net