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June 21, 2000


Africa biotech; What corporate Greed?; Misinformation; More


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

Dr. Calestous Juma of Harvard University ( a member of this group) has
just produced a booklet "Science, Technology and Economic Growth: Africa's
Biopolicy Agenda in the 21st Century" published by the United National
University. The book examines Africa's position in the international arena
and its commitments to biopolicy, its biopolicy agenda with emphasis on
agriculture and medical biotechnology, and presents science and technology
policy strategies to achieve this agenda. I clearly recommend this book
which can be downloaded freely at:


From: "Karl J. Kramer"

Evidence against corporate greed in biotechnology:

JB FalckZepeda, G Traxler, RG Nelson
Surplus distribution from the introduction of a biotechnology innovation.
American Journal of Agricultural Economics 82, 360-369 (2000)

This article contains data indicating that the surplus distribution
($240.3 million) from the introduction of Bt cotton in the US in 1996 went
to US farmers (59%), corporate developer (21%), US consumers (9%), other
consumers (6%) and germplasm supplier (5%). The largest share went to the
farmers growing Bt cotton, not the corporate developer.

From: "Geoffrey Wollaston"

Yes. Prince Charles. Presumably he can provide this.

But of course "organic" like all plant production requires water and
nutrients, traditionally in the form of manure from animals. This is a
costly way of producing fertiliser, particularly when more and more
farmers find animal husbandry unprofitable as a result of reducing demand
for animals, meat or dairy products. So it is nonsense to talk of a return
to the days when each farm was mixed and had sufficient stock to keep the
land supplied with manure as a byproduct. In the absence of artificials,
"organic" producers must as a minimum use the long-winded and less
effective method of growing nitrogen fixing crops like clover to be
ploughed in, and other mysterious but acceptable means of supplementing
phosphates, potash and other elements. I would also much like to know
comparative figures per season for individual example crops, of production
values per acre , by each method for a given input cost.

I do not think there can be any question that "organic" methods are less
productive and are prone to giving crops of inconsistent quality, if only
because of the required prohibition on the use of pesticides and
artificial fertilisers, which enormously multiplied U.K.farm production
after 1945. That is, if you believe that the "organic" regime is enforced
and enforceable at home, let alone on a worldwide basis. How big a staff
of inspectors has the Soil Association, and how do they carry out their
supervisory duties? Is it all credible? Now Iceland's greed in collaring
40% of World production of "organic" vegetables has in my view put them
several stages worse than any "multinational" targeted by the opponents of
GM. They have acted in the worst monopolistic manner to enhance their
business. i.e. their motivation is MONEY not CHOICE as they wish to
pretend. They have in so doing contributed nothing whatever to the welfare
of mankind, and have I suppose forced some of those wretched people in far
off lands to part with the "organic" food they are used to having, for
MONEY! Maybe these people will as a result be left without enough of their
own stuff, and will have to import "Non-organic" food from us. I find it
indefensible and the height of hypocracy for a company led by a prominent
GM opponent and Greenpeace man to act in so selfish a way and then boast
about it.

Geoffrey Wollaston.

-----Original Message-----
From: Andrew Apel [mailto:agbionews@earthlink.net]

>Critical to the question of whether or not Iceland will always have to
pay more for organic produce than for conventional produce is the
economics of production.
From: "Izquierdo, Juan (FAORLC)" Subject:

As we are starting the preparation phase of REDBIO2001, any suggestion on
how to interact and integrate common ideas are welcome. To know more on
REDBIO/FAO please look at

Three recent papers:
-Plant biotechnology and food security in Latin America and the Caribbean

-Biotechnology can help crop production to feed an increasing world
population. Positive and negative aspects need to be balanced: a
perspective from FAO http://www.rlc.fao.org/redes/redbio/cuba.pdf

-Under-utilized Andean food crops: status and prospects of plant
biotechnology for the conservation and sustainable agricultural use of
genetic resources


Juan Izquierdo, Ph.D.
Plant Production Officer
FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean POBox 10095
Santiago CHILE
From: thimmaiah sudhir Subject: Biotechnology
To: Prakash@Tusk.Edu

Dear Dr Prakash,

I am a research scholar at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
Regarding your research on biotechnology it is excellent. But I wish to
ask what right have you got to modify this beautiful nature. I really feel
sorry that you people monkeying with genes are going to create all sorts
of problems in this world.Mere food production should not be the aim.
Producing safe, nutritious food without affecting the different entities
and within the orders of nature should be the aim. Pesticides which are
proclaimed as the major problem is not a problem in reality.It is the
healthy soil which is required for the healthy growth of the plant. It's
simple that if you are healthy you do not succumb to any diseases. Even if
diseases occur they have to be mitigated through natural means. I think as
a great scientist popularising biotech in agriculture is just peddling
with nature and wiping off our rich biodiversity. I think you should
change your way of thinking which would benefit science but also to the
entire humanity, though the research may not be remunerative.
Biotechnology creates unrecoverable damages in nature and for such
misdoings the blame should be put on people like you who are enemies of

I am really ashamed of your propaganda on biotechnology. The problem is in
your thought process. Unless and untill you have naturally grown organic
food your thought process will never improve and will talk only on biotech

looking forward to hear from you.
From: "Korff-Rodrigues, J. Michael"

Misinformation on genetically modified foods


WITH AMUSEMENT and some concern, I read the recent articles about
genetically modified (GM) foods being sold in Jamaica. A Marva Hewitt,
writing in The Gleaner (June 6) suggests that Jamaica should "label our
foods properly including GMO, similar to other developed countries".

In case her reference was meant to include the US, it would be
instructional to note that the US does not require labelling of GM foods.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), US Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), and the US Food and Drug Administration have all
said there is no evidence to prove that these foods are not safe. We rely
on the judgment of these agencies for almost everything else we eat or use
as medication, so what is the problem here? There are however, numerous
'consumer advocate' groups that are pushing for labelling and a few
European countries that have began labelling products.

Why is it that we get upset and downright confrontational when it comes to
GM foods? A lot of it has to do with misinformation. Now would be a good
time to point out that there is no such thing as non-GM foods.

Every single crop that we now cultivate has been genetically modified in
one way or another. The only difference in some cases, is the process.
What molecular biologists are now able to do quickly in a lab used to take
years of breeding by traditional plant breeders.

Case in point, what we now plant and enjoy as corn was developed from the
teosinte plant, a plant that looks and yields nothing like the corn of
today. Corn plants with erect leaves to allow more sunlight into the
canopy and stronger shanks to hold larger ears were all developed by
traditional breeding. If a plant molecular biologist were to cause the
plant to overexpress an enzyme that led to greater photosynthesis and
greater yield he or she would be doing what a plant breeder would take
12-15 years to do by travelling all over the world trying to find a corn
plant that naturally overexpresses the enzyme of interest.

We routinely use things everyday that are products of genetic modification
of different organisms. Insulin for diabetics and the enzyme chymosin used
to make cheese are produced by genetically modified bacteria. We use
dozens of medicines that are made by genetically modified bacteria in
fermentation vats in pharmaceutical companies.

Will labelling solve the problem? In the US cigarettes carry a label that
basically says smoking will kill you. Even so, almost 500 billion
cigarettes were sold in the US last year. Do GM foods have some risk
associated with them? Probably. But there are risks associated with
walking down a busy street, flying on an aeroplane, and eating a mango and
not washing it. Still we do those things without even thinking.

Perhaps a wide scale educational campaign that shows both sides of the
issue is in order.

I am etc.,

E-mail: byron.sleugh@wku.edu
Department of Agriculture
Western Kentucky University
1 Big Red Way, Bowling Green
Kentucky, USA