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June 22, 2000


Anti-GM Society in Finland; Writing to the Newspaper Editor; More


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

From: "veli kauppinen" To:

An anti-GM "society" has been founded in Finland: " Society for the
citizens biosafety". Its first appearance in the Internet was to attack
the systems developed to control the import and use of GM-plants/seeds in

One of their accusations against the "GM-administration" was that there is
no clinical study made to show that eating GM-foods has no risk. They
claimed that the analysis can be made analogous to the clinical study of
of new drugs. I have problems understanding this. I have so far not found
any kind of clinical analysis on anything just to show that nothing
happens. Not with drugs and not with food or feed.

If someone has more knowledge ( and possible references) to this type of
studies, I would appreciate the information eg. at this web-site. The
method could be most useful for all new foods and feeds, including organic

Best regards,

Veli Kauppinen
Subject: Letters to the Editor of Newspapers

Dear all,
I noticed that a number of people are writing to newspapers (both with
articles and opinion letters) etc which is an effective way to educate the
general public and refute a large amount of miss-information and innuendo
that is being published (examples in Australia include blaming of bean and
tomato failure in home gardens on GMO geneflow, suggestions that products
from animals fed GMO's are somehow tainted even though ANZFA disagrees
with this). I will say that in Australia, most scientists are not writing
letters to newspapers as frequently, which is unfortunate. We are losing
out in this debate as people, even if sceptical of the information in the
letter, will take that information in as it is associated with a risk to
health and well being, regardless of if it is real or perceived. The
writers of the anti-biotechnology letters are the same people that are
pro-active and approach Shires and local councils with miss-information,
resulting in a number of Shires banning trialing and use of GMO's. Once
they have made this political decision, it is hard to backtrack once the
science is explained following the initial decision.

From people I have talked to, letters should be kept to about 500 words
(otherwise you could be asked to edit it, or they will do it for you).
Most papers etc will provide you with guidelines if requested.

If there is anyone that has (knows of) a list of general rules that should
be used in written communicating with the media, linking or providing this
information to this list might be helpful.

Scott Carpenter
Regulatory Affairs Specialist
Seeds/ Crop Improvement
Aventis CropScience
391-393 Tooronga Road
East Hawthorn, 3123
From: Andrew Apel
Subject: Re: GM crop production in developing countries

The US also capitulates to the Luddites.

The EU capitulates to the Luddites because it amounts to a protectionist
restraint of trade which the WTO is powerless to restrain; this eases the
tax burden which member nations must impose on their citizens in order to
subsidize an agricultural sector which otherwise would go bankrupt in one
growing season, due to its tremendous inefficiency. Political leaders know
it is, at bottom, a food security issue.

The US capitulates to the Luddites because increased regulatory burdens
are readily borne by giant multinationals, who believe that increased
regulation will reassure the consumer (read: reassure the activists, who
reject any and all reassurances). At the same time, these regulatory
burdens, which run about half a million dollars per new product, ensure
that small companies with new technology do not emerge to challenge the
market positions of the large corporations. It's ideal.

If you look carefully, you will see that there are some real economic
benefits here and there to be gained by capitulating to Luddites, and it
is only the least of these which aid the growth of the organic food

That being the case, it is tempting to suspect that there might be some
odd 'conspiracy' afoot; but the fact of the matter is, it's just plain old
politics and economics, and each will seek an advantage wherever one can
be found.

Tom DeGregori wrote:

>As an American, I have contempt for the European commissioners who have
cravenly capitulated to the Luddites on any number of issues and there-by
ignored their own scientific advisory groups.

>Let me add, that I have equal contempt for any American who capitulate to
the Luddites. They are either ignorant or cowardly and either of these
should disqualify them from exercising any leadership role.
>As a general rule, I have an aversion to conspiracy theories. Obviously,
among the groups that I just mentioned, there is considerable potential
for venality.

From: Gordon Couger

>From: "Paul Geiger" Subject: A couple of questions
>2. "Organic Tastes Better" postulate. Experiment: I suggest a panel of
tasting experts, perhaps some well known, respected chefs taste a

As most of you know I think organic farming is impossible to use on a
world wide scale, but it is a great inch market. Organic growers that sell
close to home can select varieties for taste with out regards to picking
and shipping problems. Part of the taste problem is very little taste
tasting is done when test for shipping and even maturity are done. So the
conventional grower that is going to ship his produce cross country has to
select for taste, even maturity and shipping qualities while the local
organic grower can ignore shipping and even maturity. I think that slower
growing crops particularly tomatoes have more taste than fast growing
ones. The organic grower can also use this to his advantage.

As long as there are folks that organic has some unmeasurable advantage
there will be someone growing crop to fill that need. If the EU wants to
go all organic it would be a great thing for the rest of the world. Not
only would we gain all their export markets someone would have to raise
organic food to fill their short fall. This would take a lot of land out
of production and raise prices of both organic and conventional crops.

I have a new cartoon posted


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

It is not clear if the following is from Korff-Rodrigues or from Sleugh.

I have a comment on the statement,
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. I have pointed out this
fact earlier in this group. However, many comments from those who oppose
GM foods voice a general unwillingness or discomfort with any human
activity that changes what we find in nature.

These ideas of human interference with nature runs through much of their
argument. See for example the note in the same mailing from Thimmaiah
Sudhir, a research scholar at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi who
wrote, "But I wish to ask what right have you got to modify this beautiful
nature. ... Producing safe, nutritious food without affecting the
different entities and within the orders of nature should be the aim. ...
Biotechnology creates unrecoverable damages in nature and for such
misdoings the blame should be put on people like you who are enemies of

This being true, it is likely that these opponents would also be opposed
to the work of 'traditional' plant breeders if they knew more about the
techniques used in 'traditional' breeding. These include such manipulative
procedures as emasculation, selfing, wide hybridizations, the
identification and exploitation of rare natural mutations etc. These
techniques are merely the human extension and control of genetic events
that can occur in nature, but then so are our new GM methods.

If they start to learn more about them, it seems likely that our opponents
will take offense to the old methods as well. Do we really want to tell
them our secret? I say this only partly in jest: I am going to predict
that some of the anti-GM crowd will start demanding not just organic food
but wild food. Perhaps they have already. Saint John the Baptist may have
had the same idea, but then he didn't demand that everyone share his diet,
as do the anti-GM crowd. John W. Cross<
From: Andrew Apel
Subject: New Organic Risk Identified

June 21, 2000 NAPLES, N.Y. (Reuters) - Naples, New York is teeming with
thousands and thousands of houseflies that hatched after damp weather
combined with hundreds of tons of chicken manure spread on an 18-acre
(7-hectare) farm as fertilizer. Officials have declared part of the town
of 1,200 people a public health hazard, and some residents have fled their

“It’s just a horror, a plague. It’s biblical,” resident Ervin Paulsen told
a local television station, NewsSource 13, late on Monday. The flies enter
through every crack and crevice and keep people from sleeping, he said.

“When you come home from work, your whole life is flies. Taping up
windows, taping up doors, taping up chimneys,” he said. “Fly swatters,
pest strips, vacuuming, cleaning counters. You do fly work until you go to

Farmer Mark Adams, who spread the manure, said he was abiding by
environmental regulations when he plowed his fields with the fertilizer in
late May. Now he says he is offering to pay for a private pest control
company to treat the nearby infested homes.

Some residents of Naples, located about 40 miles (64 km) south of
Rochester, say they are considering legal action against the farmer.
From: "Paul Geiger"
Subject: Antibiotic resistance

Man vs. Bugs: Whose Side is WHO On?


An anxious middle-aged man came into my medical office last week
complaining that it burned when he urinated. A quick "dip" of his .urine
showed scant bacteria but nothing more. There was no discharge. There was
no swelling. There yeas no pain on palpation. In short, there was nothing
remarkable about his physical exam, no clear cause for his pain.

He could have had a simple urinary tract infection or a more sinister bug
embedded deep in, his prostate gland. Although he said he was faithful to
his wife, he might have picked up a sexually transmitted disease. I could
have subjected him to any one of several painful and costly workups-or all
of them. A swab inserted deep into his urethra could test for gonorrhea
and chlamydia. A massage of his prostate, followed by a urine sample,
could unmask a prostate infection. Each of these tests, and others, is
notoriously inaccurate.

Under the best circumstances, I might have narrowed my search to one
inciting bug and treated him for it. Instead, I opted to treat him for all
of them. Levaquin-a powerful and well-tolerated new antibiotic taken once
a day for two weeks-would cover my bases.

To the World Health Organization, I am part of a growing problem among
American physicians who overuse advanced antibiotics only to see the bugs
we treat develop elaborate defenses. The WHO likens it to a deadly game of
chess. The industry develops a powerful antibiotic; the bacteria counter
by developing resistance. Doctors try another new drug to knock them out,
and the bacteria devise new strategies for survival as ingenious as any we
have thought of to destroy them. Some at the WHO say several harmful
organisms have nearly checkmated medical researchers.

The WHO officials blame medical science. They argue that doctors have
irresponsibly overused our strongest weapons: They are wrong, Withholding
the best medicines from ,our patients is no answer. Only continued
progress in drug development will effectively, combat these bugs. For the
current~problem; blame not. doctors legislators and liberal dogooders who
are saddling drug companies, with costly burdens.

Why do physicians,prescribe powerful antibiotics? Generally not because
our patients ask for them. Most people who come in with a sore throat
Would be just as happy leaving my office with a prescription for
Chloraseptic as clarithromycin. But each time we see a patient we must
consider the worst case the chance that a patient already ailing from
multiple medical problems might be hiding an infection that will worsen if
left poorly treated.

Scarier than my prescription pad is the relative dearth of new antibiotics
in the pipeline during much of the 1990s, particularly those with novel
modes of action that,would be more difficult for bacteria to circumvent.
Part of the problem is cost. The Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association
estimates that a new antibiotic takes anywhere from 12 to 15 years to
develop and costs a pharmaceutical company $500 million.

Patients inevitably bear these costs, and that has led the Clinton
administration to launch a crusade against drug companies. Health and
Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala has ordered a federal investigation
into what the government claims are unfairly high prices charged to
government health programs. In the meantime, federal and state prosecutors
are considering legal action against drug companies, alleging that they
purposely inflate prices reported to the industry guidebooks. Drug
companies have denied wrongdoing, saying the government has 'long known
that guidebook prices are only rough estimates.

Another. problem is social politics. In the mid-1980s, many drug companies
and federal agencies decided to shift resources from antibiotic to
antifungal and antiviral compounds. That's why many of the new
antimicrobial agents are corning from Japan. Until, very recently, only a
comparatively small fraction of research money went to addressing problems
of antibiotic resistance. Available funding is usually earmarked for
diseases favored by activists, such as AIDS and breast cancer, leaving
little to deal with problems that cut across disease categories: Resistant
microbes don't attract the attention of Hollywood types or pop stars.

People who already are sick will continue to receive the best medicines
available. And there are some encouraging new drugs in development. One of
them, Linezolid, works against methicillin-resistant staphylococci,,
vancomycin-resistant enterococci, and penicillin-resistant streptococci.
Another new way to attack antimicrobial resistance is to design drugs that
disable the antibioticresistance mechanisms in bacteria. These bugs have
developed "pumps" that eject the medicine from the cell. Each bacterium
can have as many as four variations of the basic pump. Many companies are
screening a variety of chemicals that inactivate the pumps.

Antibiotic resistance is as old as the dirt that coats our planet. Many of
today's most promising drugs are derived from the soil, where these
naturally occurring antibiotics have existed for years, killing various
microbes, and inducing others to develop elaborate ways to flourish.

If drug research during the past decade had been less politicized, there
would be more advanced antibiotics under development today. The more cans
the Clinton administration hitches to the industry's caboose, the fewer
new antibiotics we're likely to see. Left to its own devices, the industry
would have little problem making up lost ground.

Dr. Gottlieb is a resident in internal medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in
New York.