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January 11, 2010


Regulatory Bias; Scare Mongering; Bt Brinjal Circus; Bt Crops Non-target Effects11/01/2010


* The Regulatory Bias
* Long History of Scare Mongering on GM Technology
* India's Bt Brinjal: Jairam Ramesh to Hold Meetings
* Bt Crops and Invertebrate Non-target Effects
* Oops, Sorry! Those Darned Machine Translators --
* Vandana Shiva - reliable links?
* Food Security Expo

The Regulatory Bias

- David Leyonhjelm , AGRIBUZZ (Australia) DEC 21, 2009 http://www.businessspectator.com.au/

Genetically modified crops differ from conventionally-bred crops by a single gene or, in a few recent cases, two or three genes. In the context of a total gene count of tens of thousands, 30,000 for corn and over 40,000 for rice, for example, it's pretty tiny. The changed gene alters a particular characteristic of the plant. To date this has mostly made it either resistant to a particular insect pest or insensitive to a certain herbicide.

Everything else is the same. The developers must nonetheless submit the plant for regulatory approval supported by scientific data showing no health risk to consumers or threat to the environment. It cannot be released into the environment or sold to consumers without exhaustive scrutiny. When pest or herbicide resistance is achieved through conventional cross breeding, which was the only approach available until a couple of decades ago, no regulatory approval is required. Moreover, cross breeding changes a lot more than a single gene. Indeed, hundreds of genes are altered in the process of achieving that one change.

The bias also favours those growing and handling conventional crops. If a GM crop contaminates a conventionally grown crop, either in the field or during post-harvest handling, those responsible for the GM crop are liable. However, if a GM crop is contaminated by a convention crop, no liability arises. In the US, Bayer CropScience was recently ordered to pay some $US2 million in damages to two rice farmers as a result of contamination in 2006 of their crop with GM rice. The 'contaminant', for want of a better word, was rice that had been modified to tolerate the common herbicide Basta (glufosinate). Its only crime was that it had not yet received regulatory approval.

Discovery of the contamination caused public controversy and disrupted rice exports for a while, inevitably attracting the lawyers. Although the source of the contamination was never identified, and the rice was actually quite harmless, Bayer was blamed because it had developed the rice and is a large multinational chemical company. Anti-GM fundamentalists like Greenpeace have been using the case for propaganda purposes ever since.

Which brings us back to the regulatory bias. If the rice had been developed with herbicide tolerance through conventional means - and there are canola varieties that have been developed this way - the situation would have been quite different. Contamination of the neighbouring crop would not have been viewed as a problem unless it caused an actual, provable loss. Regulatory approval would not be relevant. Export markets would be unconcerned. There would be no public controversy, and Greenpeace would have no scary monster story to tell.

The underlying factor in all of these issues is regulatory. That is, rules and regulations have been imposed by governments that intrude into a field that is essentially scientific.

This reflects the success of Greenpeace propaganda far more than science. Imagine how much better the world would be if governments simply left these things to the market place, so we could each decide for ourselves. And how much lower our taxes would be.


Long History of Scare Mongering on GM Technology

- Shane Morris (University College Cork), Irish Farmers Journal, Jan 9, 2010 pg 12

Dear Sir, While the Christmas period is often described as the silly season in media circles Mr. Anthony Deegan's letter (Dec 26th) successfully brings it to new levels of ridiculousness. His weak attempts to correct and rewrite Nick Cullen's falsehoods not only fail dismally but create yet more misinformation.

The fact exists that Mr. Cullen and others in the organic food sector have a long history of scare mongering on GM technology. Mr. Cullen's last letter attacking the GM food/feed approval systems was just another example of his regular use of falsehoods and disinformation. For example, Mr. Cullen claimed that approved GM feed has caused "considerable organ damage to laboratory animals". If this is true why then, as Minister of State responsible for food, does Green Minister Trevor Sargent allow such GM feed on Irish farms and within the agri-food chain? Why has Minister Sargent stated an Irish "GM free zone is not about banning imported GM feed" (Irish Dept. of Agriculture,Press Release April 19, 2008)?

Why have the Greens in Government not introduced their pre-election promise to "prohibit the use of GM ingredients in animal feed"? Why do the World Health Organisation, the FAO, the National Research Council of the United States, the UKRoyal Society, the British Medical Association, the European Food Safety Authority, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the US National Academy ofSciences, Third World Academy of Sciences and many more agree that approved GMfood is as safe as non-GM food? The answer to all is simple: the scientific evidence concerning approved GM food and feed is clear and robust. The levels of ridiculous to which the GM debate in Ireland has fallen (including the letters pages of the Irish Farmers Journal) would be considered humorous if it was not such a serious matter.

The cost of the GM policy mess is costing Irish livestock farmers dearly. At the same time, Irish tillage farmers are being denied their full choice of farming options in an ever more competitive market. Irish public research has it hands tied as state research trials of GM crops are now forbidden thus making a mockery out of Ireland's so-called 'knowledge based economy'. Irish public policy on GM has been decided without public consultations or official scientific input. If the GM issue is left as is, the situation will only get worse in the future and solutions will certainly not be found in denying reality or scaremongering tactics. The future is to recognize some key elements in the GM debate. Some of these elements are old, such as scientific work on GM crops should continue but within a framework which puts the public good and the integrity of the environment first (Eamon Gilmore, Dail speech, March 25,1999).

Others are simply common sense, such as the need to have open and transparent consultation on Governmental GM policy changes. However, there are three that are absolutely fundamental. Firstly, not all GM foods/crops are equal as the risks and benefits depend on the GM application in question. As a result, claiming that all GM crops are bad or all are good is overly simplistic, outdated and ultimately useless. Secondly, regulation should be rational, consistent and focused on the function of new traits in a crop or food not simply the technology used is to create a novel crop/food. Thirdly, the ethicaland social concerns of the public concerning emerging technologies that are based on evidence and not scientifically unfounded narratives need to be expressly acknowledged and addressed in regulatory oversight. Until there is serious consideration given to these elements, both Irish farmers and the public at large will be left swinging in the wind at the mercy of the whims of those who wish to use the GM issue to promote their own agendas via scare mongering and disinformation.

India's Bt Brinjal: Jairam Ramesh to Hold Meetings

- The Hindu (India), Jan 11, 2010

The meetings are being held in view of a controversy over the decision of Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) allowing commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal. The meetings are being held in view of a controversy over the decision of Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) allowing commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal. File Photo: M. Govarthan

Environment Minsiter Jairam Ramesh will from Wednesday hold a series of public meetings across the country on the controversial Bt brinjal which was cleared by the country's bio-technology regulator last year for its commercial cultivation.

Besides the first meeting on Wednesday in Kolkata, the next will be held in Bhubaneshwar on January 16, in Ahmedabad on January 19, Hyderabad (January 22), Bangalore (January 23), Nagpur (January 27) and in Chandigarh on January 30, a senior Environment Ministry official said.

The meetings will be attended by various stakeholders including scientists, agriculture experts, farmers' organisations, consumer groups and NGOs who have been opposing the genetically modified brinjal.

Genetically modified food is that which undergo genetic modification by gene transfer making it pest-resistant. The meetings are being held in view of a controversy over the decision of Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) allowing commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal.

Ramesh had after the controversy decided to hold the meetings on the issue. t is being promoted by Mahyco Monsanto biotech, joint venture between Hyderabad based Mahyco and US-based Monsanto, along with University of Agriculture Sciences, Dharawad, and Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Coimbatore


Bt Crops and Invertebrate Non-target Effects

- Revisited Source: ISB News Author: Steven E. Naranjo

This article says the debate continues on whether the insecticidal toxin produced by Bt crops has a negative effect on non-target insects, but meta-analysis has the potential to "focus the debate" by providing a robust and quantitative framework for combining results from multiple independent studies. Several meta-analyses of the existing scholarly literature have been conducted, and "have largely shown the expected lack of effect of Bt proteins on non-target invertebrates," the article reports. The article can be viewed online at the link below.



'Oops, Sorry! Those Darned Machine Translators --'

From: Mª Mercedes Renobales Scheifler

Dear Dr. Prakash:

I have just read in the last bulletin of AgBioView (January 6) the notification of the International Society of Bioethics Award to my paper "More sustainable foods: genetically engineered seeds in organic farming". Apparently the note has been machine-translated. I would appreciate your correcting the name of one of the members of the jury which is totally wrong: Margarita Salas, professor of biochemistry and member of the Academy of Sciences USA is NOT Daisy Rooms (a mistake that only a machine can make!).

This is paragraph in which this bad mistake appears:

The jury who has evaluated works been has formed by Marcelo Palaces, president of the Scientific Committee of the SIBI; Daisy Rooms, biochemistry and member of the Academy of Sciences of EE.UU.; Erwin Deutsh, director of the Institute of Medical and Pharmaceutical Right in the German University of Goettingen; and Santiago Dexeus, director of Investigation in Obstetrics and Gynecology of the Independent University of Barcelona.

Thank you very much!

Wishing you a good 2010, best regards,

Mertxe de Renobales, Ph.D. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Pharmacy Univ. País Vasco / Euskal Spain


Vandana Shiva - reliable links?

A reader wanted to know some reliable web links on Vandana Shiva. Our ever-resourceful and eager Andy Apel jumped in: Shiva the Destroyer? http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/articleprint.php?num=17

One Hand Clapping: Organic Farming in India http://www.cgfi.org/2002/12/12/one-hand-clapping-organic-farming-in-india/

Dr. Strangelunch -- Or: Why We Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love Genetically Modified Food http://agbioworld.org/biotech-info/topics/dev-world/strangelunch.html

Cult of the Amateur

RiceTec Paddy Whack <---my all-time favorite-----------<<<<< http://www.houstonpress.com/2000-11-23/news/ricetec-paddy-whack/print

The Villainous Vandana Shiva A False Environmental Prophet http://www.fumento.com/shiva.html

"Did genetically modified foods reach India?" http://www.junkscience.com/dec00.html

"Shiva's Little Green Book" (Book Review) http://www.junkscience.com/mar01.html

May I have the shovel, please----?

SPECIAL REPORT: Springtime in Luddite Land http://www.consumerfreedom.com/news_detail.cfm/h/1912-special-report-springtime-in-luddite-land

Hope these help! Andy.


Food Security Expo

- April 11-12, 2010, Kuwait http://www.warahglobal.com/food/index.html

Food security represents a great challenge for many countries which suffer from the scarcity of agricultural crops and the low production rates. As a consequence, they have considerable weakness in food manufacturing to meet the needs of the local market. Food security is a concept that is directly related to the security of each country. The reports of the FAO indicate that there are millions of people who are threatened of hunger or disease due to the rarity and lack of diversity of food.

Kuwait Food Security Expo 2010 aims to:-Building a Local Food Industry; Improve the efficiency of local; Finding suitable and fast solutions for the rarity of Agricultural lands; Finding solutions to provide supporting and alternative water sources to support agriculture; The need for legislations of the Parliament to support food security; The role of the Governmental bodies (Municipality + Agriculture + The Industrial Bank) in supporting food security ; Establishing International partnerships for the purpose of development and their role as International Organizations in the field of Agriculture.; Seeking to process and establish new Agricultural Technologies; Ensuring environmental sustainability and its paramount importance for Food Security (Agriculture - Fish - Animals) ; Fodder and the importance of erecting fodder industry in Kuwait.; Providing immediate support for the agricultural production and trade in agricultural products.