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July 4, 2000


More (serious) replies to Marcus


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

Subj: Re: Engineering Environmental Disaster
Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2000 8:12:43 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Rick Roush

Marcus, in the interests of space and time, let me just address this one
example. I think you can see the point by extrapolation.

Don't you think that if vitamin A deficiency could be easily solved by
fixing "the problem of monoculture" that it would have been done already?
Do you think people in developing countries such as India are not
sufficiently intelligent to realise that they have to consume more
vegetables? The issue is that "the problem" is not easily fixed and in
most cases has more to do with people being able to afford vegetables than
"monoculture" per se. Where does a poor person in Mumbai grow his own

Perhaps "the problem" could be easily fixed if people in developed
countries would devote more of their disposal income to those in less
developed countries, but frankly, I see little evidence that most wealthy
folks care that much.

In absence of other realistic solutions that no one wants to fund,
Vitamin A rice could at least keep some poor kids from going blind.
What's your solution?


>From: Marcus Williamson
>Cc: Neal Stewart
>Do you see a pattern?
>GM plants to "fix" the problem of landmines.
>GM rice with added vitamin A to "fix" the problem of monoculture,
>which is causing a lack of green vegetables in developing countries.

Subj: problems with fixing the world
Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2000 2:05:50 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: "Meredith Lloyd Evans - BioBridge"

Dear Marcus,

We all know that prevention is better than cure. However, pragmatism is
usually better than romanticism. We know there are many many
'appropriate' technologies that should be delivered to all parts of the
world (note, not just the developing, underfed and disorganisation-rife
'third' world). We hear so often that it is infrastructure, storage,
distribution, greater political equity, liberation of women from
capitalist anti-feminine plots, etc. that is needed. What I see the agbio
companies doing is pragmatic. I expect it will reap them some profits,
though at the moment it seems that few if any are even breaking even on
an overall scale. What they are doing is saying that neither they nor, it
seems, the activist envirogroups, are able to persuade governments in
deprived parts of the world to redirect themselves, remove their
disorganisation and/or corruption and pay for the enormous societal and
structural changes that might be necessary to achieve the rosy-glowing
view of the perfect world that we are encouraged to believe is the only
proper, ethical, non-capitalist and non agbiotech one to achieve.
Instead, they are saying that farmers and subsistence families will be
buying and, yes even saving, some seed to grow their food, and even to
grow food that someone somewhere else might want, and if so, it makes
more sense to give them a benefit actually in that seed. I cannot
understand why you are so reactive to these advances, given that they
will be able to improve environments, reduce pesticide use, enhance
yields per area, allowing restrictions on requirements for farmed land,
and might even overcome the slash and burn problems by encouraging
reduced land disturbance.

I happen to believe that biotech will not always be a 100% cure for
everything that is now 'wrong' (or perhaps sad, unfortunate, inadequate,
inefficient) in the world but I cannot see how it can ever be the
enormously vicious, catastrophic event that it is painted to be.20 regards

Mr Meredith Lloyd-Evans, Managing Partner BioBridge Associates & Arcadia
International eeig; 45 St Barnabas Road, Cambridge CB1 2BX tel +44 1223
566850, fax +44 1223 470222

Subj: Re: Engineering Environmental Disaster
Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2000 6:53:50 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: "Paul Geiger"

Dear All:

Marcus W. is clearly very, very scientifically naive. Apparently he is
also innumerate regarding statistics. Evidently he is quite innocent of
the lengthy, well reasoned discussions that have already taken place on
this list.

He wants Neal (see below) to give proof of safety testing? Look around at
how long GMs have been eaten by the public. Think how long a prospective
study would take (if it's even feasible to design) to be "absolutely sure"
as Marcus wants to be. Such "Precautionary" tests would effectively kill
progress and I suspect that's what he and his ilk really want owing to
their faith in the "GreenPeace Religion."

He asks the impossible. He wants to live with No risks, Nohow.

Please, Marcus, read Prof. Trewavas long, informative article on GM,
evolution, and all, and digest it before wasting our time with anymore

Paul Geiger