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June 18, 2000


Feedback on Organic Food, GM Pollen and Food Safety


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

From: "Sathish P."
Subject: Re: Iceland Foods and Organic Economics

Dear Colleagues,

The news that Iceland has cornered 40% of the global
organic farm produce to sell in UK, impies that it
takes about 40% of the global organic farm produce to
just meet roughly 33% of the UK population's (given
that there are other grocery brands competing with
Iceland) need for frozen vegetables and fruits. This
should give us a rough idea as to how much land and
effort are needed to feed the entire human
race (discounting the fact that in some parts of the
world, people consume more vegetables and fruits than
the average Britisher.) Above that we have to add the
plant produce required to feed the animals maintained
by humans. Is Organic farming really up to the task
as some tout it to be?

Sincerely yours,

--- Andrew Apel wrote:

>Critical to the question of whether or not Iceland will
>always have to pay more for organic produce than for
From: Meredith Lloyd Evans - BioBridge
To: The Editor Independent
Subject: GM pollen

Dear Sir, Michael Meacher's statement about the spread of pollen from
genetically-improved plants (Wednesday 14th June) has been seized as
the biggest opportunity yet to demonise such crops. The attitudes and
statements of multinational eco-corporations such as Friends of the
Earth and Greenpeace exploit nameless fears about contamination. For
generations we have grown plants with hundreds of 'foreign' genes in
them, produced by conventional methods or by irradiation techniques,
without our countryside being transformed into an alien landscape of
'triffids'. One or at most a few additional genes are introduced by
precise gene technology. The genes are from a natural source - other
plants or bacteria that already exist in the environment. This is
followed by rigorous selection for stability and normal behaviour of
the crops. It is almost laughable that this could have a serious,
profound and undesirable effect on the wider environment. This
intolerance to genetically improved crops, which have so much to
offer, is to my mind exactly the same as racial intolerance - there
is no real scientific reason (though plenty of pseudoscience can be
cooked up) and it is surely time we stopped believing in these
scaremongers whose hidden agenda is anti-human, anti-progress and
ultimately will shoot our search for sustainability well and truly in
the feet.
Mr Meredith Lloyd-Evans
(Email content sent to the Editor, Evening Standard on 11th June 2000)

Dear Sir
Recent correspondence suggests, quite falsely, that crop
biotechnology has already caused disasters (Thursday 8th June) and
will not provide better security against starvation in the third
world (Friday 9th June). If higher vitamin A content in rice, better
yields by fighting virus and fungus in cassava and bananas, and
reducing exposure of third world women and children to pesticides by
making crops pest-resistant are such terrible and disastrous
developments, both your correspondents have their heads screwed on
backwards. The actions of a few groups in the third world,
orchestrated by anti-corporatists, anti-science (and ultimately
anti-people) groups like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, are now
being overwhelmed by support from agriculturalists and farmers who
are really in the thick of third world food security problems. Stone
age farming techniques are neither sustainable nor provide food
security, when farmers are forced to be 'organic'. If the benefits of
innovation can be put in the seed, then the crops have a better
chance of withstanding the difficult farming conditions without the
expense of inputs such as agrochemicals. GM crops and foods are not
being imposed on such communities, the benefits they bring are being,
one by one, offered, and if those benefits are proven in the third
world environment with third world strains of crops, as is occurring,
then farmers find the money to purchase them. The only forces that
third world farmers are at the mercy of are malnutrition and the
ecoimperialism of environmental groups, and this pressure will
increase unless we adopt all the promise that modern biotechnology
can bring.
Mr Meredith Lloyd-Evans,
GM foods are no third-world fix

YOUR leader ('I'he Royal war on GM foods, 6 June) declared that GM
seed producers such as Monsanto, have done terrible damage to their
own case by their incompetence and lame table publie relations..
However, the Evening Standard appears to have swallowed their
arguments about combating hunger in the developing

From: Matthew Metz
Subject: Re: Organic farming can 'feed the world' : BBC Science

Funny, sonds just like a call for GE crops...

>Dr Liz Stockdale, of the Institute of
>Arable Crop Research in England, believes organic farms could be
economically viable on a
>much larger scale (snip)
>But she says the lower yields of organic farms in any country could be
>increased as scientists learn more about controlling insects and
>disease without chemicals, and find the right crops to suit a particular
>pests and climate.


Dear Mr Vint:

My point is that your request is essentially if unintentionally
hypocritical, because little or no such research is carried out on any
foods in the human diet, including those that should raise all of the
concerns that have been instilled into the public (new genes, new
proteins, etc.) by activists. If tests are needed on GE foods, which at
least get some sort of safety assessment, would you also ask for the same
tests for all other foods being introduced to the broader human diet? When
I now visit San Diego where I grew up, my mother now serves fruits and
vegetables that were rare or non-existent in the American diet when I grew
up, and Australians consume Asian and Aboriginal fruits and nuts that have
never been part of Western diets or had safety testing. If for GE, why not
these? Each has thousands of new genes and proteins.

Why is it that customers need government reassurance for a GE crop, but
not an Australian quandong or macadamia?


>Dear Mr Roush,
>In response to your message, I represent many wholesalers and retailers
that are currently avoiding GM foods because their customers do not have
confidence in these products. These customers will need fairly substantial
factual reassurance (rather than government spin) before they would
consider eating the foods. I don't think they would be reassured by
statements that long-term safety tests are unnecessary. I don't know
whether conventional or organic foods have undergone long-term tests but,
bearing in mind how much money is spent overall on food research it would
be odd if no-one had done such tests. Such tests on conventional foods
would be welcome but, from the perspective of the business community, are
far less urgent than long-term tests on GM foods.
>The purpose of my request was to locate rigorous research of the kind
that would attract public confidence - i.e. independent, published,
peer-reviewed, long-term and preferably carried out with human volunteers.
If you know of any such research do please send details.
>Best wishes,
>Robert Vint.

>>Dear Mr Vint:
>>Can you outline any peer-reviewed research on the possible effects of
any specific food, including that which is organically grown, that has
been carried out over a five year period or more?
>>Robert Vint
>>Subject: GM Food Safety Research
>>Dear Dr Prakash,
>>I am trying to compile a summary of the independent and long-term
research that has been carried out to date on the possible effects of GM
foods on humans - especially children and those with allergies.
>>Could you send me references for any peer-reviewed research of this kind
that has been carried out over a five year period or more by scientists or
research institutes not financed by biotech corporations.
>>I would also welcome details of any programmes for monitoring the
general public to detect possible symptoms caused by GM foods.
>>Most of the research that I have been told about seems to have been
carried out by GM companies on animals such as fish over periods of weeks
rather than years.
>>Yours sincerely,
>>ROBERT VINT, National Co-ordinator