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Date:

June 26, 2009

Subject:

Is the German Suspension Justified?; Organic-Biotech Nexus; 1 Billion mark; GM Blue Rose Approved; Feeding the Hungry

 


* Is the German Suspension of MON810 Maize Cultivation Scientifically Justified?
* India - Proposed ban on GM food crops not desirable: Expert
* The Unexplored Potential of Organic-Biotech Production
* UN: World hunger reaches 1 Billion mark
* Germany: Biotech Field Destructions Continue
* Mrs. Clinton: Remarks at the 2009 World Food Prize Announcement Ceremony
* Australia Approves GM Blue Rose
* Feeding the Hungry

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Is the German Suspension of MON810 Maize Cultivation Scientifically Justified?

- Agnès Ricroch (AgroParisTech), Jean Baptiste Bergé (INRA) & Marcel Kuntz (CNRS), France

In a recent publication, we examined the justification used by the German government in April 2009 to suspend the cultivation of genetically modified maize varieties containing the Bt insect-resistance trait MON810. We critically examined the alleged « new data » concerning the potential environmental impact of these varieties: namely two scientific papers describing laboratory force-feeding trials on ladybirds and daphnia, previous data on Lepidoptera and on aquatic and soil organisms.

We demonstrate that the suspension is based on an incomplete list of references and ignores the widely supported case-by-case approach. The German arguments confuse two different types of Bt maize, MON810 and Bt176. In addition, the potential hazard is confused with proven risk in the scientific risk assessment procedure.

Furthermore, we did not find any justification for this suspension in our extensive survey of the scientific literature regarding possible effects under natural field conditions on non-target animals. The vast majority of the 41 articles published in 2008 and 2009 indicated that Bt maize had no impact on these organisms and only two articles indicate a minor effect, which is either inconsistent with the planting season or represents an indirect effect. Publications from 1996 to 2008 (376 publications) and recent meta-analyses do not provide any evidence of a consistent effects either. The lower abundance of some insects is confined mainly to specialized enemies of the target pest, the European corn borer (an expected consequence of its control by Bt maize). In contrast, Bt maize varieties have generally a lower impact than insecticide treatment.

The present review demonstrates that the German government used selected individual studies supposed to confirm its thesis and ignored the available meta-knowledge on MON810 maize already available. For example, supposedly new results on ladybirds (2009) were previously published in 2004 by the same authors in a german journal (in German).

Additionally, we note that the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) of the German Federal Government (in charge of providing « scientific justification » for the MON810 suspension) is also joint author of a report called BEETLE recently available on Internet, which shows the extent of the knowledge acquired on GMO environmental safety and which contradicts its own justifications for the MON810 ban.

The original publication is available at :
http://www.springerlink.com/content/r6052757667ng364/fulltext.pdf

==============

India - Proposed ban on GM food crops not desirable: Expert

- Harish Damodaran, Hindu Business Line, June 23 http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2009/06/23/stories/2009062350421600.htm

“Transgenic technologies are not a substitute for conventional methods of plant breeding. At the same time, ruling out this option or saying it is okay for cotton and not so for mustard or rice does not make sense for a country like India”.

The Centre’s reported move, to restrict genetic modification (GM) technologies to non-food crops and not permitting them in food crops, has drawn flak from a leading plant biotechnologist.

According to Dr Deepak Pental, Professor of Genetics and Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University, the new policy, apparently under consideration, is not in the interest of the country’s long-term food security.

“Transgenic technologies are not a substitute for conventional methods of plant breeding. At the same time, ruling out this option or saying it is okay for cotton and not so for mustard or rice does not make sense for a country like India”, he pointed out.
Mustard hybrid

Dr Pental’s team at the Delhi University has bred DMH-11, a GM mustard hybrid currently awaiting regulatory approval for open field trials. Mustard – unlike maize, cotton or tomato – is a self-pollinating plant in which the individual flowers contain both the female and male reproductive organs.

The absence of a natural hybridisation system (allowing the egg cells of one plant to be fertilised by the pollen discharged from the male stamen of another plant) restricts the scope for developing hybrids in mustard. Hybrids, i.e. the first-generation progeny resulting from crossing two genetically diverse plant varieties, usually yield more than what either of the parents is individually capable of giving.
GM technology

Dr Pental’s team has basically deployed GM technology to create a viable hybridisation system in mustard, for which they have even obtained a patent (No. 6,833,494) from the US Patent and Trademark Office. Their process has involved inducing male sterility in mustard plants through introduction of a ‘barnase’ gene (from a bacterium, cillus amyloliquefaciens) that produces toxic proteins impairing pollen production. The male sterile plant is crossed with a (fertile) parental line, containing, in turn, another bacterial gene called ‘barstar’ that blocks the action of the ‘barnase’ gene.

The resulting progeny, having both these foreign genes, is a hybrid mustard plant that is not only high yielding, but also fertile and capable of producing seed (courtesy the ‘barstar’ gene in the second fertile line).

The DMH-11 hybrid bred at the Delhi University has already undergone contained multi-location field trials under the aegis of the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM).
Trials

The trials, conducted during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 rabi planting seasons, showed the GM mustard to yield around 30 per cent more than the best national check variety, ‘Varuna’. “We have not been able to take our trials to the open field stage. This is mainly because of a Supreme Court ruling that makes completion of bio-safety studies a pre-requisite for carrying out any such trials in farmers’ fields. And being a public sector institution, we do not have the kind of resources to do these safety analyses, which cost lot of money”, Dr Pental noted.

Compounding these problems are recent statements from top Government officials hinting at a ban on use of GM technologies in food crops. “Our country is spending precious foreign exchange in importing edible oils, pulses and many other food crops. How can we have a policy that rules out GM technologies as an option, particularly in crops where there are no hybridisation systems existing in nature or where the germplasm pool is rather limited for pure line breeding?

On the contrary, we must encourage more public-funded research in this area”, Dr Pental added.

=====================

The Unexplored Potential of Organic-Biotech Production

- USDA, GAIN Report Number: IT9014 Office of Foreign Service Operations (OFS); Approved By: Jim Dever
Prepared By: Cyndi Barmore. May 6, 2009. http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Recent%20GAIN%20Publications/The%20Unexplored%20Potential%20of%20Organic-Biotech%20Production_Rome_Italy_5-26-2009.pdf

Report Highlights: The organic movement rejects biotechnology as inherently contradictory to its fundamental goal of promoting environmental protection in agriculture. European organic promoters in particular stress respect for nature over yield maximization, campaigning for a return to traditional production methods and inputs. [1] In reality, the divide between organics and biotechnology is an artificial construction maintained by ideology rather than science. A governmental decision to change organic regulations to permit the use of biotechnology could have far-reaching policy implications for global agriculture. Allowing producers to gain organic certification for biotech crops could encourage the development of a new type of environmentally sustainable agricultural production with greater benefits for the consumer. [1] Isabel Rosa, GAIN Report: Organic Agriculture in Italy, 2008 (Foreign Agricultural Service: Rome, 2008) 5.

General Information: The Debate over Biotechnology Organic promoters are primarily concerned that incorporating biotechnology into agriculture will create unpredictable long-term problems for consumers and the environment. Greenpeace, a leader among non-governmental organizations committed to environmental protection, describes its global campaign against biotechnology as a fight “to protect the public’s health and prevent the contamination of the environment.” [1]

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the leading umbrella organization for organic organizations worldwide, rejects biotechnology on grounds of uncertainty. In laying out organic agriculture’s fundamental principles, IFOAM states that “Organic agriculture should prevent significant risks by adopting appropriate technologies and rejecting unpredictable ones, such as genetic engineering.” [2] Due to such concerns, organic lobbies in the United States, the European Union, and elsewhere have successfully outlawed biotechnology in organic certification standards.

The scientific community consistently responds that biotechnology has not created new ills for humanity or the environment. Agricultural biotechnologists contend that health and environmental concerns are unfounded worries based on unjustified fears.

Independent EU food safety panels unanimously report that Bt-corn, a biotech crop including an insecticide gene derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, is equivalent in safety to conventional corn. [3] After six years of scientific examination, an EU commission declared in 2002 that there was no scientific basis for the EU’s ban on new biotechnology. [4] The commission reported that the primary difference between conventional plant breeding and biotechnology is the higher precision inherent in the latter.

The National Research Council argues that the accuracy with which plant biotechnologists alter a plant’s genes makes the process even safer than conventional breeding. [5] Biotechnology supporters argue that biotech crops are not only safe, but potentially more nutritionally beneficial to the consumer than conventional varieties. For example, Golden Rice is a variety of rice fortified with vitamin A. Its widespread adoption could supplement the nutrition of the 120 million children deficient in vitamin A and prevent 1 to 2 million deaths annually. [6] There is a significant variety of health additives that could improve the nutritional quality of crops, ranging from fatty acid omega-3 in canola for cardiovascular and mental health, to the antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes. [7]

Proponents of biotechnology also contend that such crops are better for the environment than conventional varieties. Some biotech crops are pest resistant, thereby reducing the amount of pesticides farmers require. Bt-corn, for example, repels insects that would normally feed on the crop. Farmers who grow Bt-corn on a single hectare use 75 percent less pesticides, essentially receiving the benefits of chemicals without releasing them into the environment or leaving residue on the final product. [8] Similarly, Roundup Ready soybean farmers in the U.S. spent $753 million less on herbicide in 2001. [9] The Economic Research Service of the USDA compared pesticide use for Bt maize, Bt soybean, and Bt cotton to pesticide use for conventional varieties, and the biotech group used 7.6 million fewer acre-treatments in 1997. By 1998, savings were 17 million acre treatments, and Bt protection reduced mycotoxin contamination by 92 percent. [10] By 2002, 40 case studies of 27 biotech crops revealed pesticide use had fallen by 163 million pounds. [11]

Biotechnology also contributes to the fight against deforestation, as most unused potential farmland today is under tropical forest. From 1800 to 1950, farmers increased production by ploughing new land, razing forests, and clearing virgin pastures. With the advent of the Green Revolution, farmers adopted new technologies that increased yields 300 percent without expanding agricultural land use. Proponents argue that biotechnology would allow producers to increase yields on existing farms as well as cultivate suboptimal land. Salinity has rendered 40 percent of global irrigated land non-arable, but researchers Zhang and Blumwald developed technology that would allow farmers to grow plants in soil with 50 times more salt than normal water. [12] New plant varieties are also able to produce citric acid in the roots which enables growth in soil with a high aluminum content. [13]

The Potential of a New Organic-Biotech Movement
Organic regulations do not yet allow for organic-biotech production. In 2007 the EU adopted new organic legislation, Council Regulation 834/2007, that created a ceiling of five percent for the unintentional mixing of conventionally produced ingredients in organic products. In contrast, the EU will only tolerate biotech ingredients if they compose less than 0.9 percent of the final organic product. By indicating that biotech crops hold a different and greater danger than conventional varieties, the EU organic legislation seeks to make a pariah out of this technology.

There is no scientific reason to stigmatize biotechnology, and doing so threatens to cripple an agricultural movement that could help the environment, increase yields, and improve nutrition worldwide. The policy implications of changing governmental organic regulations to permit the organic cultivation of biotech crops would benefit consumers and the environment while reducing the stigma currently attached to biotechnology. The two systems have compatible nutritional and environmental goals, and together they could create a new form of sustainable production agriculture. Large-scale organic-biotech production would give organic consumers a more affordable product that is better for their health and the environment. Introducing biotechnology into organic agriculture would increase organic yields and contribute positively to the global food supply.

Combining biotechnology and organic methods would allow producers to maintain high yields while still catering to consumers who demand organic products. Pests, diseases, and spoilage – problems that biotechnology can counter – destroy almost 40 percent of global food crops annually. [14] For example, African maize is susceptible to stem borer beetles that destroy 15 to 40 percent of the crop each year, and a new biotech variety is resistant. [15] The disparity between American and European agriculture demonstrates the potential impact of biotechnology on yields. In 1996 when biotech crops were first introduced into commercial agriculture, grain yields in Europe equaled those in the United States. European grain production has since fallen behind the U.S. by 1 to 2 percent annually, implying that Europe could grow 15 percent more grain if it lifted its ban on biotechnology. [16]

High yields should not be dismissed as only for the benefit of growers. The current system of organic production discourages attention to productivity, and as more land comes under organic cultivation, doing so may encourage deforestation. In 2007, 32.3 million hectares globally were certified organic, a 1.5 million hectare increase from 2006. [17] Organic farmers, like conventional farmers, could use biotechnology to increase yields on existing farms or cultivate land that salinity previously rendered unsuitable for production. A rejection of modern technology represents a return to pre-1950, wherein further production will necessitate deforestation to satisfy the growing demand for organics. Diverting agricultural land to organic production could also have dangerous implications for the world food supply if growers reject yield-enhancing biotechnology.

World food prices rose 83 percent from 2005 to 2008. [18] They have recently crashed along with the world economy but are unlikely to remain low. A rising global population requires increasingly more food, and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that global food demand will at least double from 1990 to 2030. [19] High yields will ultimately benefit the hungry poor who need a larger global food supply to keep prices down. Currently, drought threatens the yields of global leaders in both conventional and organic production. As global climate change alters rainfall patterns across much of the world, farmers will need to use biotechnology to combat drought. Australia is the leading producer of organics, with 10 million hectares and 39% of total organic surface area in 2005. [20] It is currently afflicted by historic drought. Latin America, one of the fastest growing organic producers, had 19% of organic surface area in 2005. [21]

Argentina is the second largest organic producer with 3 million hectares, [22] and its total food production is forecast to fall 50 percent in 2009. [23] Drought has led Brazil, the 5th largest organic producer [24] and the world’s third-largest corn exporter, to forecast a drop in its corn harvest from 58.7 million tons in 2008 to 50.3 million tons in 2009. [25] Monsanto has developed a drought-tolerant variety of maize to help producers better combat the effects of drought. The new variety can survive in conditions of drought for eight to twelve days, and it will enter the North American market next year.

Organic-biotech production could also help organic farmers meet their goal of creating the healthiest food possible. Eliminating pesticide use is beneficial to the environment, but doing so allows pests to flourish. Poor pest control has led to measurably higher levels of aflatoxin in organic grains than in conventional varieties, and this poses a health threat to consumers. Bt crops have lower aflatoxin levels than organic or conventionally grown varieties, because they carry a gene that inherently repels pests. Utilizing biotechnology could thereby allow organic farmers to abandon pesticides not from ideology but from obsolescence. The final product would be healthier for consumers without harming the environment. There are some problems inherent to organic production that biotechnology cannot yet fix. Manure is the largest source of organic fertilizer, and the Institute of Food Science and Technology published a 2002 report highlighting the danger of disease-causing microorganisms, such as e. coli, that manure may transfer to the crop. [26]

Weed control is another problem. Farmers in the United Kingdom find that weeds increase 300% when they convert from conventional to organic, thereby necessitating the plough. [27] By mechanically weeding their fields, they use fossil fuels, increase runoff, decrease soil carbon, and damage nesting birds, worms, and invertebrates. [28] There are organic mulches that can suppress weed emergence, such as winter annual llegume hairy vetch, but these require herbicides – 0.5 pound of metribuzin per acre – to be effective. [29] Governments should change their regulations to allow producers to gain organic certification for biotech crops grown with organic methods. Such a system would better achieve the organic movement’s stated goals of environmental sustainability and the promotion of human health.

At the very least, regulations should not include different standards for the unintentional addition of conventional and biotech ingredients in organic products. Doing so unnecessarily increases the stigma of biotechnology, stifling global technological development without scientific justification.

References at http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Recent%20GAIN%20Publications/The%20Unexplored%20Potential%20of%20Organic-Biotech%20Production_Rome_Italy_5-26-2009.pdf

=====================

UN: World hunger reaches 1 billion mark

- ALESSANDRA RIZZO – June 19m 2009

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iOVOJrAbfKGbFx_EpjIORH3QAU0AD98TTT882

ROME (AP) — The global financial meltdown has pushed the ranks of the world's hungry to a record 1 billion, a grim milestone that poses a threat to peace and security, U.N. food officials said Friday.
Because of war, drought, political instability, high food prices and poverty, hunger now affects one in six people, by the United Nations' estimate.

The financial meltdown has compounded the crisis in what the head of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization called a "devastating combination for the world's most vulnerable."
Compared with last year, there are 100 million more people who are hungry, meaning they consume fewer than 1,800 calories a day, the agency said.
"No part of the world is immune," FAO's Director-General Jacques Diouf said. "All world regions have been affected by the rise of food insecurity."
The crisis is a humanitarian one, but also a political issue.

Officials presenting the new estimates in Rome sought to stress the link between hunger and instability, noting that soaring prices for staples, such as rice, triggered riots in the developing world last year.
Josette Sheeran of the World Food Program, another U.N. food agency based in Rome, said hungry people rioted in at least 30 countries last year. Most notably, soaring food prices led to deadly riots in Haiti and the overthrow of the prime minister.

"A hungry world is a dangerous world," Sheeran said. "Without food, people have only three options: They riot, they emigrate or they die. None of these are acceptable options."
Even though prices have retreated from their mid-2008 highs, they are still "stubbornly high" in some domestic markets, according to FAO. On average, food prices were 24 percent higher in real terms at the end of 2008 compared to 2006, it said.

"Malnutrition kills through the fact that it weakens the immune system of a child," said Andrei Engstrand-Neacsu, a Nairobi, Kenya-based spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in East Africa. Some 22 million of the 1 billion hungry people counted by the United Nations are in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa, he said.

============

Germany: Biotech Field Destructions Continue

- USDA GAIN Report Number: GM9026 6/9/2009 http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Recent%20GAIN%20Publications/Biotech%20Field%20Destructions%20Continue_Berlin_Germany_6-3-2009.pdf


Report Highlights: Anti-biotech groups have continued their destruction in 2009. By the end of May 2009, the German Plant Breeders Association (BDP) already reported six cases of research plot destructions and occupations in Germany this year. Since there is no commercial cultivation of biotech crops allowed in Germany, activists are concentrating their destructive work on research fields and research installations.

General Information: Biotech Opponents Continue their Destructive Work in 2009

Anti-biotech groups continue their destruction in Germany in 2009. By the end of May 2009, the German Plant Breeders Association (BDP) reported six cases of research plot destructions and occupations in Germany. Since there is no commercial cultivation allowed in Germany activists are concentrating their destructive work on research fields and research installations.

In 2008, BDP reported 26 cases of field destructions and six cases of field occupations. Ironically, a group of anti-biotech activists also destroyed several bee hives in the neighborhood of a biotech barley field of the University of Giessen.

==============

Mrs. Clinton: Remarks at the 2009 World Food Prize Announcement Ceremony

- Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, Washington, DC, June 11, 2009. Excerpted.

Full text at http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2009a/06/124659.htm

"So the question is not whether we can end hunger, it’s whether we will. For years, brilliant and determined people have dedicated their lives to the fight against hunger. They have worked for breakthroughs in the science of agriculture. One, of course, is Norm Borlaug. His green revolution transformed farming in many parts of the world and saved millions of lives. Dr. Borlaug earned a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, but his work was also the work of men and women who labor unnoticed in labs and fields and factories around the world, who invent better ways to raise, sell, and ship food, so that the abundance of our world’s harvest can be enjoyed by more people."

"Dr. Ejeta began his journey in a hut in Ethiopia, where he was born to a mother who was passionately committed to his education. He walked 20 kilometers every Sunday to attend school. He boarded in town for the week, and then he walked home to his family every Friday. Eventually, he made it to college, where he planned to study engineering, but his mother convinced him he’d do more good for the world if he studied agriculture."

"By working together, I believe we can show the will necessary to end the hunger crisis, to usher in a new era of progress and plenty. That is our goal. That is our challenge. And it’s wonderful to look out, see many of you whom I know, others whom I don’t. But I understand every one of you is committed to this goal. Ending hunger, providing food security will bring us together across all the lines that too often divide us. And if we do what we should and are capable of doing, by next year and the years after, when we meet here to award this prize, we’ll be able to mark our progress, and most importantly, the lives of millions of women, men, and children will be the better for our efforts."

==========

Australia Approves GM Blue Rose

- Crop Biotech Update, isaaa.org

Florigene Pty Ltd has received approval from Australia's Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) for the commercial release of a genetically modified (GM) hybrid tea rose variety. The GM rose, which sports blue flowers, expresses the flavonoid 3'5'-hydroxylase gene from Viola and the anthocyanin 5-acyltransferase gene from Torenia for altered flower color. These genes cause the production of delph inidin, a blue pigment found in a range of edible plants including blueberries and blackcurrants. The GM rose was created by Florigene and Japan-based Suntory Company after 12 years of joint research.

Parent plants and plants for cutflowers will be grown by commercial growers registered with Florigene. Flowers that are produced will be sold through normal commercial distribution channels to the public, Australiawide. The risk assessment paper prepared by OGTR concluded that the commercial release poses negligible risk to human health and environment safety.

For more information, read the Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan prepared by OGTR at http://www.ogtr.gov.au/internet/ogtr/publishing.nsf/Content/dir090-4/$FILE/dir090rarmp.doc

=================

Feeding the Hungry

- Terry Wanzek, AgWeb, June 25, 2009 http://www.agweb.com/Blogs/BlogPost.aspx?src=TheTruth&PID=05d775aa-9436-4bd0-949b-4717659e7f64

There are some people around the world who think religion and science shouldn't get along. For some reason, they believe the men of the cloth should disagree with the men of the lab coat, now and forever.

They’ll be disappointed to learn that the Pontifical Academy of Sciences--an arm of the Vatican--has given its blessing to genetically modified crops. At a conference last month in Rome, it praised GM food for holding “a great potential to improve the lives of the poor.”

This is a welcome marriage of religion and science--two powerful forces joining for the good of all.

That’s certainly how I view it, as a Roman Catholic farmer in North Dakota. Growing up, I served as an altar boy and learned the Mass in Latin. Today, I read scripture, as a proclaimer, from the pulpit on Sunday mornings.

When I’m in the fields, planting seeds or harvesting crops, I’m in the business of nourishing bodies. When at church, we nourish spirits--my own and those of my family, friends, and others. Everybody needs both forms of sustenance.

Farming is my profession. But it’s more than a job--it’s a vocation. The Catholic Church teaches us to show benevolence toward the poor, and to feed them when they are hungry. One of the best ways I can realize this goal is to grow as much food as possible and to make it available at the most reasonable prices. I believe it is important that all farmers, especially the resource-poor smallholders, have the right to choose the best technology available, including biotechnology when appropriate, to improve their hope of producing more food for themselves.

Biotechnology allows farmers to do well and do good at the same time. It has certainly made it easier for me to earn a living, because GM seeds reduce the amount of time and resources I devote to each acre of crops. Simultaneously, it has allowed farmers to grow more food than ever before. If farmers are going to feed a booming global population, we’re all going to have to get a lot more out of our existing farmland.

Farmers have an economic incentive to meet this challenge--and we also have a moral obligation. The story of Genesis teaches that our Creator had endowed us with gifts. One of them is our dominion over plants and animals. We must utilize this resource but not waste it, in order to take care of ourselves as well as the less fortunate. Our intellect--another one of our great gifts--lets us come up with creative solutions for achieving this objective. One of the best recent solutions is agricultural biotechnology.

The Pontifical Academy’s embrace of biotechnology doesn’t carry the full weight of an official church teaching, but it’s instructive. At a time when many of the Vatican’s European neighbors are turning their backs on biotechnology, and strangling innovation with the red tape of bureaucracy, the academy’s position is a model of common sense.

Are GM foods dangerous, as so many Europeans have been told? “No substantiated environmental or health risks have been noted,” says the academy. “Opposition to biotechnology in agriculture is usually ideological.”

Don’t we have to make sure GM foods are carefully regulated? Yes, but the current threat doesn’t come from under-regulation. It comes from over-regulation: “The huge potential of plant biotechnology to produce more, and more nutritive, food for the poor will be lost if GMO-regulation is not changed from being driven by ‘extreme precaution’ principles to being driven by ‘science-based’ principles.”

This is not the academy’s first foray into the politics and science of agricultural biotechnology. In recent years, it has issued a series of favorable statements about GM foods. The occasion for this latest utterance was a conference organized by German scientist Ingo Potrykus, the inventor of golden rice--a GM crop that contains extra vitamins that people in the developing world often lack.

Critics of the Catholic Church often accuse it of hostility toward science--a claim they’ve been making since the days of Galileo, if not earlier. They will have trouble squaring this prejudice with the facts of today, as the Pontifical Academy shows how a faith can use the scientific tool of biotechnology to reach the religious aim of feeding the poor.

This is more than a positive example. It’s an inspiration.

-----
Terry Wanzek grows corn, soybeans, and wheat on his family farm in North Dakota.
Mr. Wanzek serves as a North Dakota Senator and board member of Truth About Trade and Technology (www.truthabouttrade.org)