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Date:

July 10, 2008

Subject:

Widespread calls for GM research; Substantial equivalence in raspberries, DNA from artificial parts

 


* China approves big GMO R&D budget
* Lugar Suggests Increase in GM Seed Research
* The Scientific Solution
* High prices nudge Europe nearer to GM food
* 29 Countries Cut Food Exports
* Report: Food Security in Developing Countries, 2007
* Labeling comes to Moldova
* Comparison of GM and non-GM Raspberries
* DNA molecule mostly from artificial parts
* David Tribe - Australia's Leading GM commentator
* Video: Paul Collier, author of "The Bottom Billion" discusses the food crisis.
* Video: Actions against Gene-maize
* Spoof: New GM Crops acknowledged as a complete failure

-----------------------------------

China approves big budget for GMO amid food worries

- Niu Shuping and Nao Nakanishi, Reuters, July 10, 2008

http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSPEK11727520080710?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's cabinet has approved a huge budget for research of genetically modified crops amid growing concerns over food security, a move scientists say may speed up commercial production of GMO rice or corn.

The State Council, or cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao, gave the green light on Wednesday to a program aimed at promoting indigenous genetically modified crops (GMO), Xinhua news agency said.

Although the Xinhua report gave few details of the program, Chinese scientists said it included a large increase for GMO research, including a big portion to develop safety measures for GMO crops until the year 2020.

"There is significant growth in budget at between 4 to 5 billion Yuan ($584- 730 million) in the coming years," Lu Barong, a professor with Fusan University and also a member of the country's biosafety committee with the agriculture ministry, told Reuters.

"Particularly a large budget was allocated on GMO safety research," said Lu.

Xinhua said the program aims to obtain genes with great potential commercial value whose intellectual property rights belong to China, and to develop high-quality, high-yield and pest-resistant genetically modified new species.

"The plan's approval is a very positive signal to the future research and commercialization of more GMO crops," said Huang Jikun, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The cabinet also urged relevant authorities to "waste no time to implement the program and understand the importance and urgency of the program".

"I think the sensitive issue such as (the commercial use of) GMO rice will come back to the agenda again," Huang Dafang, a researcher with Biotechnology Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

China, the global leader in developing GMO rice, has put off commercialization of such varieties due to global consumer concerns over safety of transgenic crops, partly fuelled by GMO contamination also in rice products exported from the country.

FOOD SAFETY CONCERNS

The Beijing move was in line with steps taken by other countries addressing concerns over rising food prices and worsening supplies that threaten to push more of the world's people into poverty.

Rising food inflation has also led consumers in Europe and South Korea to accept what opponents call "Frankenstein foods".

"Food security is one consideration," said Xue Dayuan, chief scientist on biodiversity at Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences.

Xue said the programme also included research for livestock.

The program's approval came ahead of the country's biosafety committee meeting at the end of this month to evaluate the safety of at least one strain of GMO corn.

Chinese researchers with the Biotechnology Research Institute told Reuters earlier that it hoped to get approval for commercial production of domestically developed phytase corn.

Some scientists, though, say Beijing will still hold off approval of GMO rice.

The cabinet last week approved a long-term grain output blueprint, which aims to increase grain production to more than 540 million tonnes annually by 2020 so it can be 95 percent self-sufficient in feeding the country's growing population of more than 1.3 billion people.

But analysts say that because China's arable land is shrinking every year due to industrialization, the country has no option but to turn to genetic modification technology to increase yields.

"GMO technology is the only solution right now for the country to raise yield and reduce use of pesticide, which is harmful for the environment," said Huang Dafang.

China aims to produce 500 million tonnes of grain a year by 2010, but demand -- estimated at 518 million tonnes this year -- is projected to outstrip the pace of grain output.

Still, China will likely not have to import grain in the next year or two because it has ample grain reserves.

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

Lugar Suggests Increase in Genetically Modified Seed Research

- Andy Eubank, Hoosier Ag Today, July 3, 2008

http://www.hoosieragtoday.com/wire/news/5279988_lugarAEIspeech_192512.php

Earlier this week Indiana Senator Richard Lugar sent a letter to President Bush outlining his recommendations for responding to the current world food crisis by the international community. Lugar's suggestions were meant to serve as a US agenda for the G8 summit next week. Speaking before the American Enterprise Institute Wednesday the Senator expanded on his memo, including his call for more research on genetically modified seeds.

"An irrational opposition to gm crops and food by many European nations is literally starving people in Africa and other parts of the world. G-M seeds have been demonstrated to dramatically increase yields and hold great promise to reduce poverty. Yet some nations with chronic food insecurity have turned away emergency food assistance because it might contain gm foodstuffs. Others have refused to cultivate gm crops for fear and not being able to export to Europe."

Lugar said the G8 Summit needs to address the numerous regulations and labeling requirements placed on genetically modified crops and food, and instead, let consumers and the international marketplace decide the issue. He also wants to see promotion of policies that stabilize energy markets and promote alternative fuel sources.

"The link between oil prices and global food inflation is clear. Rising energy prices affect food prices all along the food to market chain. Mediating the effect of energy on food will require aggressive energy policies to boost alternative supplies and increase efficiency. In the near term major progress can be made in accelerating advanced biofuel derived from agriculture, forest and municipal waste. Energy security and food security need not be a zero-sum game."

Senator Lugar's complete address can be seen online: http://lugar.senate.gov/energy/

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

The Scientific Solution

- Rachel Sixsmith, Red Orbit, July 8, 2008

http://www.redorbit.com:80/news/business/1467098/the_scientific_solution/ Red Orbit

Dr. Julian Little, Chairman, Agricultural Biotechnology Council

This season, hundreds of potato growers are tentatively watching their crops for signs of one of the most virulent strains of blight to have so far evolved in the UK - genotype 13.

Its presence has prompted the Potato Council to step up its Fight Against Blight (FAB) and Blightwatch alerting services and is a reminder of the increasing threat that diseases and pests pose to UK horticulture and agriculture.

Given these circumstances, a genetically modified (GM), blight- resistant crop could be a saviour to many potato growers - as could other kinds of GM crops to a number of growers.

But controversy still surrounds this technology - despite the fact that countries such as Canada and the US have been using it for years.

A blight-resistant potato crop is currently being trialled in Leeds, but it was vandalised two weeks ago. One man who was particularly disappointed to hear of this crime is Dr Julian Little.

As chairman of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), it is his job to educate the sceptics on the benefits of GM food by promoting the role of biotechnology in sustainable agriculture. Given that GM crops have been accused of being "Frankenstein foods" over the past decade, this is not an easy task.

But Little insists that, despite the vandals, there has been a "fundamental change" in the public's overall attitude towards GM.

"I have been lucky as I took up the role of chairman [in autumn last year] at a time when people's views of these technologies changed considerably.

"The world is looking at reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture and trying to increase food production because of food security issues and inflation. So it's now about whether or not we want GM to help. People are saying: 'Which bits of this technology are we interested in?'

"If they want to safeguard crops from pests and diseases - or from drought and other stresses - then GM is one of the options."

Little, who is also the public and government affairs manager for Bayer CropScience, could be right in his observation. Last month, the BBC ran a series of programmes on how GM foods can help us. Meanwhile, newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph are running articles on "Why We Need GM Foods".

The current media interest no doubt stems from the alarming issue of global food security - a matter which, earlier this month, was the focus of the Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations conference in Rome.

The resounding conclusion of this conference was that securing world food security, in light of the impact of climate change, may be one of the biggest challenges we face in this century.

So why is Europe still so reluctant to embrace these new technologies?

For the past 10 years, the EU has put a "freeze" on growing GM crops and, in 2004, the UK government announced that no GM crops would be grown in the country for the "foreseeable future".

The EU is now under increasing pressure to ease up its policies, and some politicians are pro-GM. But the general consensus is that EU ministers are still uncomfortable with the idea.

Little explains what he believes is the root of this Europe-wide hostility: "GM technology came out at a time when there were a lot of scare stories [such as BSE] and when there was plenty of food available. Things like set-aside were introduced as ways of reducing production and so people were asking: 'Why do we need a crop that yields more at a time when we are reducing crop yields?'"

He also blames non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like Greenpeace for taking advantage of this Zeitgeist. "They were in a situation where they could see an opportunity to promote organic farming... and demonise some of the more scientific parts of agriculture."

Little is a reminder that this technology stems not from monsters and demons but from scientists who want to help solve the world's problems. "What most people are not aware of is that GM technologies have been a fact of life for over 10 years," he says. "Some 12 million farmers are growing GM crops in areas well over twice the size of the UK [100 million hectares]."

So when are GM crops likely to become a regularfixture in the UK? "Sometime between now and never," jokes Little. Traditionally, he says, the UK has been at the forefront of everything - but now, its scientific legacy is being held back by politics.

On a more serious note, he says: "I would anticipate that within five years we will be growing them relatively quickly. I say that with my fingers crossed, though, because NGOs have to take a more relative view.

"When you are talking about droughtresistant crops, that is just as relevant to farmers in East Anglia as farmers in East Africa. Places like that suffer from drought or too much water. Drought resistance is about keeping yields high whatever the weather. I hope we see these sorts of crops available by 2013."

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

High prices nudge Europe nearer to GM food

- Sam Cage, Mantik Kusjanto, and Nigel Hunt, Reuters, July 8, 2008

http://uk.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUKL0256084320080708?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

ZURICH - Like many in Europe, Switzerland's Coop supermarkets do not specify whether goods are genetically modified -- none are. But a wave of food inflation may help wash away resistance to "Frankenstein foods".

"I think there's a lot of resistance in Switzerland," said shopper Beatrice Hochuli, picking out a salad for dinner at a bustling supermarket outside Zurich's main station.

"Most people in Switzerland are quite against it."

Consumers are rarely first in line to adopt new technologies: even with food prices up more than 50 percent since May 2006, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's Food Price Index, relatively wealthy Europeans remain wary of foods derived from tinkering with the genetic make-up of plants.

But policy-makers and food companies are pressing the GM topic in a bid to temper aversion to biotech crops like pesticide-resistant oilseed rape and "Roundup Ready" soybeans, which tolerate dousing of herbicide.

These are already common in the United States and other major food exporters like Argentina and Brazil.

The European Commission has said it believes biotech crops can alleviate the current crisis in food supply, although it added in June that expediency should not overrule strict scientific scrutiny of the use of GMO technology.

The chairman of Nestle, the world's biggest food group, has said it is impossible to feed the world without genetically modified organisms and the British government's former chief adviser Sir David King said this week GM crops hold the key to solving the world's food crisis.

"If you take the pressure of burgeoning population ... we need a third green revolution," he told the Financial Times, referring to two waves of innovation that helped increase crop yields sharply in Asia in the past 50 years.

Climate change and increasing concern about fresh water supplies are helping to fuel interest with new GM seed varieties likely to be more resistant to drought and able to produce reasonable yields with significantly less water.

GM technology still has many opponents, who fear biotech crops can create health problems for animals and humans, wreak havoc on the environment, and will give far-reaching control over the world's food to a few corporate masters.

Yet a European Commission-sponsored opinion poll last month showed a creep in knowledge and acceptance of the technology.

"For me it is just a matter of time before we get our head around GM," said Jonathan Banks at market information company AC Nielsen.

"The way people will learn to live with GM is to say 'we do it product by product and make sure everything is OK.' At the moment we have a knee-jerk reaction which thinks of Frankenstein foods," Banks said.

BIG OPPORTUNITY

The European Union has not approved any GM crops for a decade and the 27 member countries often clash on the issue. Outside the EU, Switzerland has a moratorium on growing GM crops, though authorities have granted permission for three GM crop trials between 2008 and 2010 for research.

The market represents a substantial opportunity for GM companies: the European seeds market is worth $7.9 billion (4 billion pounds) from a global total of $32.7 billion, according to data from consultancy Cropnosis. The global GM seeds market was worth $6.9 billion in 2007 and is set to grow further.

Agrochemicals companies are riding a wave of high food prices and roaring demand for farm goods -- and Monsanto, DuPont Co and Switzerland's Syngenta AG have all raised 2008 earnings forecasts already this year.

Although high prices are a boon for farm suppliers, much of the cost has been passed on to consumers, sparking protests in many countries including Argentina, Indonesia and Mexico.

Others also see opportunity: in June, chocolate maker Mars Inc, computer giant IBM and the U.S. Department of Agriculture said they would map the DNA of the cocoa tree to try to sweeten the crop's $5 billion market.

In a Eurobarometer opinion poll in March, the number of EU respondents saying they lacked information on GMs fell to 26 percent, compared with 40 percent in the previous, 2005 survey.

But 58 percent were apprehensive about GM use and just 21 percent in favour -- down from 26 percent in favour in a 2006 Eurobarometer survey on biotechnology.

"People do change attitudes, just gradually, because they become used to technologies," said Jonathan Ramsay, spokesman for Monsanto, the world's biggest seeds company. "Consumers are looking at prices, consumers hear the stories about food production, growing population in the world, and I think people do understand that agriculture needs to be efficient."

Friedrich Berschauer, chief executive of the world's fourth-biggest seeds producer Bayer CropScience, believes acceptance of GM will be gradual.

"Long-term, I am certain that GMOs will be accepted. But I dare not give a forecast whether that will be in five years or in ten," Berschauer told Reuters.

But critics charge that the technology does not bring its promised benefits.

A recent report by organic group the Soil Association concluded that yields of all major GM varieties are equivalent to or less than those from conventional crops.

"GM chemical companies constantly claim they have the answer to world hunger while selling products which have never led to overall increases in production, and which have sometimes decreased yields or even led to crop failure," said Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director.

Geert Ritsema, a genetic engineering campaigner at Greenpeace International, said proponents of biotech crop technology are using high prices to scare consumers that their food will become too expensive.

More awareness of the technology could also reinforce wariness, argues Jean Halloran, head of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union.

"I think that if consumers become really educated, that's the point they'll end up at and say 'why should I mess around with this technology when it has no benefits to me?'," she said.

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

29 Countries Cut Food Exports

- Farm Chemicals International, July 7, 2008

http://www.fc-international.com/viewitem.php?ItemID=1228

Recent high food prices have caused at least 29 countries to sharply curb food exports, reports the New York Times. In recent months, India, Vietnam, China, and 11 other countries have limited or banned rice exports, while Pakistan, Bolivia, and 13 other nations have reduced or completely stopped wheat exports. More than a dozen have limited corn exports, and Kazakhstan has restricted exports of sunflower seeds. "The restrictions are making it harder for impoverished importing countries to afford the food they need. The export limits are forcing some of the most vulnerable people, those who rely on relief agencies, to go hungry," reports the Times.

The export bans have been implemented to ensure that citizens in these countries will have enough to eat at affordable prices; however, national and human disasters such as Australia's drought and Argentina's strikes are causing countries used to exports from these nations to depend upon those still exporting large amounts - such as Thailand, Brazil, Canada, and the US.

'It's obvious that these export restrictions fuel the fire of price increases,' said Pascal Lamy, the director general of the World Trade Organization.

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

Food Security Assessment, 2007

- Stacey Rosen, et. al., USDA Economic Research Service (Outlook Report No. GFA-19), July 3, 2008

http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/GFA19/

The number of food insecure people in the 70 lower income countries covered in this report rose between 2006 and 2007, from 849 million to 982 million. Food insecure people are those consuming less than the nutritional target of 2,100 calories per day. The food security situation of these countries is projected to deteriorate over the next decade. The distribution gap - an indicator of food access - is projected to rise from 44 million tons in 2007 to more than 57 million tons in 2017. This is more than seven times the amount of food aid received by these countries in 2006. Sub-Saharan Africa, already the most vulnerable region with the lowest calorie intake levels, will suffer the greatest deterioration in food security.

In this report ...

Chapters are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

* Report summary, 108 kb.

* Abstract, Preface, Acknowledgments, Contents, List of Figures and Tables, and Summary, 827 kb.

* Overview: Food Security in Developing Countries, 2007-17, 630 kb.

* Global Diet Composition:Factors Behind the Changes and Implications of the New Trends, 160 kb.

* Appendix - Food Security Model: Definition and Methodology, 113 kb.

* Entire report, 1,538 kb.

[follow link above for access to the report]

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

Presence of genetically modified organisms in food products must be declared

- Moldova Azi, July 3, 2008

http://www.azi.md/news?ID=50032

The presence of genetically modified organisms in food products must be included compulsorily in customs declarations from now on, Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Violetta Ivanova told journalists after a Government sitting on Wednesday.

She said that it is envisaged by the regulations on issuing authorizations on all kinds of activities, approved by the Government, to give the concentration and type of such products, when they are imported or exported.

Ivanova remarked, if importers or exporters do not observe this rule, fines will be imposed on them.

In the Minister's words, Moldova does not produce genetically modified organisms for the time being. And according to the testing laboratory of Moldovan State University, no such products have been revealed.

The National Commission for Biological Diversity proposed to grow tobacco in an artificial environment for experimental purposes, but this issue is being studied for the time being.

In her words Moldova ratified a respective convention, which obliges our country to fulfill the convention's provisions, though there has been no evidence in the world that such products are harmful for human health. Genetically modified products will not be forbidden, but they must be marked in a compulsory order.

Soya (61%), maize, rape and cotton may be among genetically modified products. When such products are used as food, they can cause allergic reaction or intoxication.

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

Comparison of Sugar, Acids, and Volatile Composition in Raspberry Bushy Dwarf Virus-Resistant Transgenic Raspberries and the Wild Type 'Meeker' (Rubus Idaeus L.)

- Sarah M. M. Malowicki, et. al., J. Agric. Food Chem., July 4, 2008

http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/abstract.cgi/jafcau/asap/abs/jf800253e.html

Abstract: Raspberry bushy dwarf virus (RBDV) causes a significant reduction in yield and quality in raspberry and raspberry-blackberry hybrid. Genetic modifications were made to 'Meeker' red raspberries to impart RBDV resistance. The RBDV-resistant transgenic and wild type 'Meeker' plants were grown in Oregon and Washington, and the fruits were harvested in the 2004 and 2005 growing seasons. Year-to-year and site-to-site variations were observed for the °Brix and titratable acidity, with Oregon raspberries having slightly higher °Brix and lower titratable acidity than Washington raspberries. Twenty-nine volatile compounds were quantified using stir bar sorptive extraction (SBSE) paired with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). There were very few differences in volatile concentrations between the transgenic varieties and the wild type 'Meeker'. Much larger variations were observed between sites and harvest seasons. Raspberries grown in Oregon appeared to have higher concentrations of ?-octalactone, ?-decalactone, geraniol, and linalool. Chiral analysis of ?-ionone, ?-pinene, linalool, terpinen-4-ol, ?-octalactone, and ?-decalactone demonstrated a much higher percentage of one isomer over the other, particularly ?-ionone, ?-pinene, ?-octalactone, and ?-decalactone, with more than 90% of one isomer, while a racemic mixture was observed for linalool. The isomeric analysis revealed very little variation between varieties, locations, or years. The flavor compounds tested in this study did not show any difference between the transgenic lines and the wild type 'Meeker' raspberry.

Download the full text:

PDF http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/asap.cgi/jafcau/asap/pdf/jf800253e.pdf

HTML http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/asap.cgi/jafcau/asap/html/jf800253e.html

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

First DNA molecule made almost entirely of artificial parts

- PhysOrg.com, July 07, 2008

http://www.physorg.com/news134643648.html

Chemists in Japan report development of the world's first DNA molecule made almost entirely of artificial parts. The finding could lead to improvements in gene therapy, futuristic nano-sized computers, and other high-tech advances, they say. Their study is scheduled for the July 23 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

In the new study, Masahiko Inouye and colleagues point out that scientists have tried for years to develop artificial versions of DNA in order to extend its amazing information storage capabilities.

As the genetic blueprint of all life forms, DNA uses the same set of four basic building blocks, known as bases, to code for a variety of proteins used in cell functioning and development. Until now, scientists have only been able to craft DNA molecules with one or a few artificial parts, including certain bases.

The researchers used high-tech DNA synthesis equipment to stitch together four entirely new, artificial bases inside the sugar-based framework of a DNA molecule. This resulted in unusually stable, double-stranded structures resembling natural DNA.

Like natural DNA, the new structures were right-handed and some easily formed triple-stranded structures. The unique chemistry of these structures and their high stability offer unprecedented possibilities for developing new biotech materials and applications, the researchers say.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja801058h

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

David Tribe - Australia's Leading GM Agriculture commentator.

- Agmates News, July 10, 2008

http://www.agmates.com/blog/2008/07/10/david-tribe-australias-leading-gm-commentator/

Agmates welcomes David Tribe, Land and Food Resources, University of Melbourne as our regular GM in Agriculture columnist.

Agmates strives to bring you totally independent news and comment and David is widely acknowledged as Australia's leading commentator / blogger on Genetically Modified Crops (GM) - Visit Davids blog GMO Pundit - Here http://gmopundit.blogspot.com/

Over to David

Keep the door open to drought tolerant crops

Photo of David TribeRecent media stories about wheat varieties giving up to 20% better yield performance when hit by drought are just the tip of the iceberg of a vast amount of modern plant science directed at understanding and better managing water stressed plants.

Yes, water stress, and plant responses to it are complicated topics.

And yes too, the idea of using modern genetic tricks to improve on nature as far as drought tolerance is concerned is a really big ask.

So why on earth should growers give any credence to these latest results, announced by Premier John Brumby and plant scientist German Spangenberg in Victoria just this last month?

Well for a start, the GM based insect protection trait Bt-protein already insulate US maize growers from drought damage. This practical experience of many US corn-growers with rootworm protected maize planted in the US for several seasons now is well documented. Root development and drought protection are intimately linked, worm damage to roots means, unsurprisingly, worse corn performance, and Bt stops that damage.

But many other benefits leading to drought protection have been obvious to the plant science community for since at least 1996, which was when Xu and colleagues reported good results from transformation of rice with HVA1 drought tolerance genes from barley.

There's been a treasure trove of highly exciting plant science on the topic since them. By about 2004, plant scientists (e.g. Chaves and Oliviera) were saying that practical drought protection breakthroughs were almost certain.

It's just taken about 5 years for scientific progress in the lab and greenhouse - to turn this basic science into field trials which are needed to demonstrate practical effectiveness greenhouse discoveries into farming practice.

Perhaps the most exciting of these basic science discoveries some ten years back was identification of genetic switches controlling whole sets of genes, for instance genes turned on by water stress having a drought-responsive-element nicknamed by biologists DRE.

These discoveries of switches and water stress signaling system and the genes controlling them have given breeders ways of orchestrating whole sets of genes that are needed for drought protection with a only small number of genetic changes. It this that's enabled German Spangenberg and his co-workers in Vic-DPI to be successful with wheat in Victoria.

With coordinated orchestration of plant stress management, deliberate breeding for drought tolerance has at last became achievable in practice. That's exactly why GM-technology detractors in Australia are in full-on denial mode about these breakthroughs.

And now Drought-tolerance genes have been trialed successfully in several crops, including both wheat and corn, they are worth paying serious attention to as a future farmer's option. If the climate change-doomsayers are right, these events will a Godsend for Ozzie growers.

The whole GM debate up till now has not been simple about getting GM canola varieties on the market. It's been about keeping the door open to the numerous technological flow-ons that can only occur if there is a clear path to market for seed-company innovators.

If the GM canola bans had continued in the Southern States, Ozzie farmers would have seen drought-tolerant crops years, if not decades, after their competitors in North and South America had been growing them in their paddocks and earning good dollars from them. Now they've at least got an even break, provided that the keep their local political reps informed of how they feel about grower freedom to choose the best technology for themselves.

Agmates readers can help each other by working hard to keeping the door open for grower choice. They need to keep on pushing and shoving to preserve farmer choice about which seeds they can sow, and what types of technology they can try out.

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

Paul Collier, author of "The Bottom Billion" discusses the food crisis.

- The 2008 Aspen Ideas Festival, June 30 - July 6

http://www.aifestival.org/index2.php?menu=3&sub=1&title=360&action=full_info

For more than 50 years, the Aspen Institute has been the nation's premier gathering place for leaders from around the globe and across many disciplines to engage in deep and inquisitive discussion of the ideas and issues that both shape our lives and challenge our times.

Paul Collier is professor of economics and director of the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University. Former director of development research at the World Bank and advisor to the British government's Commission on Africa, he is one of the world's leading experts on African economies. His past and current research has centered on developmental challenges facing low-income countries, including research on the economics of conflict, governance, and macroeconomics and the effects of aid, exchange rates, and trade policies. His most recent book is The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can be Done About It.

Paul Collier, author of "The Bottom Billion" discusses the food crisis.

This is the quick clip of this session. To see the entire session, which is between 60 and 90 minutes, download [at the link] below.

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

Aktionen gegen Gen-Mais

- Kanal8 (TV, Germany), June 30, 2008

http://www.kanal8.de/default.aspx?ID=1775&showNews=244086

[partial translation]

Actions against Gene-maize

Of the original 111 hectares (274 acres) in the German district of Kitzingen, which were declared as planted to genetically modified maize, there are only 9 (22 acres) which remain.

"Field liberation" is what the environmental activists call their actions, since they "liberate" a field from genetically modified plants.

[Video coverage is available below the article on the page at the link above]

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

New GM Crops acknowledged as a complete failure

6th July 2008

- Steddy Eddy, TheSpoof.com, July 6, 2008

http://www.thespoof.com:80/news/spoof.cfm?headline=s1i37841

Despite the debate and discussion explaining the benefits of GM crops, a major producer had admitted that its crop might have been a total failure, offering as it does a calorific and food value content of nil.

The first crop grown by General Motors (GM) in Devon has been found to be 'lacking' by the Food Standards Agency. GM Chairman, Rick Chevrolet has said that while he can see where the FSA is coming from, he does feel there is an element of tabloid media frenzy creeping in, associated with the findings.

He said: "GM is the largest motor manufacturer not only in the World, but in parts of Merseyside. We're bigger even than Skoda, or for that matter Primark, who don't make cars at all.

"My board and I thought that seeing as the motor industry is in a spot of bother, and seeing that our initials "GM" are used everywhere, we should capitalise on this and get in on this GM thing.

"We undertook major research and decided that the time was ripe, pardon the pun, for GM to enter the GM crop arena and capitalise on our name and our ability to do anything.

"However, I will concede that our first crop may have left a little to be desired. We tried to grow GM wiper blades, brake linings, clutch housings and bonnet seals. But, after careful planting, weeding and fertilising, nothing appears to have grown.

"We have not given up hope though. Oh no. We realise we may have been trying to grow the wrong crops, and this time we will be planting GM dashboards, floor wells and windscreens, which I firmly believe will be more successful."

-----------------------------------
*Andrew Apel, guest editor