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June 11, 2000


Environmental Concerns; Consumer Survey of Biotech, and more


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

From: "Robert L. Manning" Subject:
Thoughts on AgBiotech

Dear Prakash

Thanks for your nice note. I'll look forward to getting further ideas
from you. I should clarify, though, where I really stand at the moment
- and I hope I'm open-minded enough to move as I learn more. Here are
some of my present opinions based on the little I know about a vastly
complex subject.

First, I am more concerned with the possible environmental effects of
rDNA deployment than with the health effects. I may be entirely wrong
about this, but that's how I see the situation.

I am not concerned about "tinkering" with nature. We've been doing
that (not me, of course - I'm old, but not that old) for a few tens of
thousands of years, both on purpose and incidental to our collective
activities. The unintentional impact we've had over these many years
has grown more and more significant. The Industrial Revolution really
picked up the pace and power of our technology and its effects on the
natural environment we'd inherited from several billion years of

But it's only recently that we've gotten really good at it. Now many
of us have come to believe we are smart and powerful enough to mold
nature to our human needs and wishes. Trouble is, I don't think we
know enough about the workings of humans, other fauna and flora, the
biosphere, or the universe to be clear about what those human needs
really are - or how to meet them even if we did know. And when it
comes to wishes...well, they seem to be quite fluid, subject to all
kinds of influences of the moment or the decade. They also seem very
fragile as a guide to building a new world, brave or otherwise.

I, too, believe we have become very powerful (for such small, strange
creatures). I'm just not sure we're very smart. So it's not a question
of tinkering, but a matter of knowledge and power and prudence and
ambition and restraint and faith and doubt - and much more. And I
believe it's ultimately about the survival of the human species in the
wonderful and mysterious process we call the universe.

That's the way it looks to me right now.

Bob Manning
===================================================== (From Agnet)

June 8, 2000 Jeff Cavanaugh, Agrinews

Research sponsored by the Philip Morris company and the Farm Bureau
suggests that there are several differences between how farmers and
consumers perceive biotechnology, chemical use, and other critical
farming practices. The study polled 1002 consumers and 704 U.S.
farmers on agricultural issues during July and August of last year.

Specifically, it asked consumers what they thought of contemporary
farming practices and to asses the nationís farmers as to how well
they were doing in producing the countryís food and fiber. Farmers
were asked to rate their own performance, and to estimate public
opinion on various farming practices.

The major results of the study, conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide,
show that most consumers do not have a favorable view of agricultural
chemicals, animal antibiotics, or the addition of hormones to increase
production of milk or meat. According to the survey, only eight
percent of consumers said adding hormones was an acceptable farming
practice; fully 46 percent said it was never acceptable; and 32
percent said it was sometimes acceptable. Farmers were, in general,
much more accepting of the practice. On feed antibiotics, consumers
were again, on the whole, negative. Only eight percent of consumers
said adding antibiotics to feed for growth purposes was acceptable. 42
percent said it was never acceptable, and 35 percent of polled
consumers said it was sometimes acceptable. Farmers were, as in the
case of hormones, much more accepting of the practice.

For chemicals, however, the gap between consumer and farmer acceptance
of the practice was much wider. While 34 percent of consumers said the
use of herbicides and pesticides was never acceptable, only three
percent of farmers said the practice was never acceptable. Research
also shows that consumers are willing to ante up in order to avoid
herbicides and pesticides. 57 percent said they would accept higher
prices in order to assure their food was free of chemicals; 68 percent
were willing to accept a smaller food selection; 72 percent said they
would be content with foods available only seasonably; and fully 73
percent said they were willing to use biotechnology if the practice
would reduce chemical use.

Furthermore, consumers are much more likely than farmers to think
farming practices are an environmental problem. Fully 68 percent of
all consumers believe that agriĖchemical contamination of groundwater
and surface water is a major problem. 56 percent of consumers also
thought that erosion caused by farming was a problem. Consumers,
however, admitted that, in general, they were ignorant of or heard
very little about most farming practices or technology. 41 percent
said they were ignorant of biotechnology; 41 percent had heard little
about irradiation; 31 percent had little knowledge of the use of
animal antibiotics; and 28 percent did not know anything about the use
of hormones in dairy cows.

However, the majority of consumers have heard about the use of
chemical herbicides and pesticides, but the majority - 61 percent -
had heard only about the drawbacks associated with the practice. The
good news for farmers, however, is that biotechnology has seemingly
not been tarred as an unacceptable farming technology. Over half of
all consumers - 68 percent - said using biotechnology was an
acceptable way to increase food production. 69 percent said
biotechnology was acceptable if it improved the nutritional value of
food, and 57 percent said biotechnology was acceptable if it was used
to improve the taste of food. The number of consumers accepting
biotechnology jumped to 73 percent when given a choice between
chemicals or biotech. "Some of the results really surprised us," notes
American Farm Bureau Federation President, Dean Kleckner. "Itís clear
that the agricultural industry has not done a good job of educating
consumers about the benefits of pesticide use. Itís important that we
donít make the same mistake with biotechnology and other new farming
practice," said Kleckner.

The survey results back up Klecknerís poor view of agricultureís
efforts at educating consumers. Fully a quarter of polled consumers
said agriculture was doing a "poor" job when it comes to informing the
public. Just under half of consumers - 47 percent - said agriculture
was doing a "fair" job. "While no one should be too surprised to learn
that most consumers donít understand what farmers do to produce their
food and clothing, this research shows that many of us in agriculture
have miscalculated where consumers most pronounced concerns exist,"
said Jay Poole, vice president of external affairs for the Philip
Morris family of companies. "One of the things the agricultural
industry can do is to inform and educate consumers about modern
agricultural production practices," notes Poole. "Consumers have a
huge influence on agricultural policies. We must address the gaps and
identified in this study if we want to establish sound farm policies,"
said Poole.

Despite consumer concerns over some agricultural practices, the study
did show that the public thought farmers were doing a good job of
producing the nationís agricultural products. Fully 91 percent of
consumers agree that Americaís farmers produce food that is
nutritious. 92 percent said farmers produce food that looks good. 84
percent said farmers produce affordable food. 82 percent said the
fruit of the farmerís labor was safe to eat, and 79 percent said
farmers produced flavorful food. Copyright 2000 Agrinews All Rights
Reserved. Content, unless specifically noted as sourced from Monsanto,
is from the source noted and does not necessarily reflect views or
positions taken by Monsanto Company.
============================================= From: Gordon Couger
Subject: Criticism of Prince Charles and Shiva

I have no problem what they eat, wear or drive. I do care when they
tell me what I can eat, wear and plant. With attitudes like theirs we
would still be debating the use of fire for cooking.

You will find I am very critical of them both.
http://www.couger.com/gcouger/gmo/starveorganic.gif The one on Shiva
is not finished yet.


Gordon Couger gcouger@couger.com, Stillwater, OK
www.couger.com/gcouger, 405 624-2855 GMT -6:00

>I am rather disturbed by the over criticism of Prince Charles and
Shiva. As
From: Gordon Couger Subject : Negotiating

Negotiating with pigs, fools, and eco freaks wastes your time and
annoys the pigs, fools and eco freak