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July 5, 2000


UCS, RAFI, and Frankenstein image


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

I once contemplated joining the Union of Concerned Scientists since after
all I am a concerned scientist and thought I might be better able to
influence theiropinions as a member. I soon discovered that membership in
this union does not require that you be a scientist. In fact they don't
even ask whether you are a scientist. What they do ask is "Will that be
VISA or Mastercard?"

Mark Rose, Ph.D.
Novartis Agribusiness Biotechnology Research, Inc.
3054 Cornwallis Rd.
PO Box 12257
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2257

Date: Jul 03 2000 01:31:04 EDT
From: Roger Morton
Subject: Re: final reply to Ryan. Phew!

Dear Tony and list members,

You make a good point about the ISIS petition. I have taken a careful look
at the petition and noted that not only are the vast majority of the so
called scientists on the ISIS list without any obvious expertise in the
field of plant molecular biology at least 85 of the 310 names on the list
are not scientists at all. See
http://www.netspeed.com.au/ttguy/world-ns.htm to see a sub list of the
ISIS list which reveals that much of the ISIS list consists of
anthropologists, socialogists, general medical practictioners, economists
and psychiatrists.
We also have a podiatrist, a linguist, a wholistic practitioner, a PR man,
a chiropractor and the director of the UK Soil association on the "world
scientists statment".

Dr Roger Morton 02 6246 5069 (ph)
CSIRO Plant Industry 02 6246 5000 (fax)
GPO Box 1600 roger.morton@pi.csiro.au

Date: Jul 05 2000 18:25:57 EDT
From: Andrew Apel
Subject: RAFI

Ms. Shand and all,

Much of RAFI's credibility with the eco-reactionary community and others
results from having bullied its way to the bargaining table with
respectable international groups, a feat many in the protest industry
yearn to achieve.

RAFI is quite obviously in favor of intellectual property in developing
nations. If these people have no rights to their indigenous seeds, then
obviously they have no right to complain if the germplasm is 'borrowed'
and taken elsewhere for other uses. The fact that RAFI contradicts itself
in this way does not result from my confusion. If RAFI truly believes
seeds should be available to all, then RAFI cannot complain if germplasm
is exported from developing nations.

If RAFI truly believes that seeds should be available to all, RAFI should
champion the rights of all farmers to choose their seed, and if they
discover that it's worth it to purchase modified seed, even seed with the
'terminator' gene, that should be the farmer's right. Farmers have enough
indigenous wisdom to know what works for them.

RAFI can champion the right of farmers to save their own seeds all it
wants--that right will never go away. If farmers want to stick with
low-tech seed and save it, they can and will. Championing the right to
someone else's seed, on the other hand, is bizarre.

Patent laws make it impossible to patent the knowledge and innovation of
indigenous peoples. Patents are only issued for new inventions; what is
obvious or already in use cannot be patented. RAFI plays on ignorance of
patent laws in an unabashed manner.

To my knowledge, there is no law anywhere, nor any proposed legislation or
technology, designed to prevent farmers from breeding their own seeds and
saving them. The billions who are hungry and relying on low-production
farm-saved seeds can continue to do so, if they wish.

Biodiversity of crops from around the world is preserved in vast
collections of germplasm, so if farmers decide they would rather have
high-producing germplasm, the old germplasm will still be around.

RAFI is merely trying to dictate terms to third-world farmers, in an
anti-choice crusade. I'd like to see RAFI to try and sell North American
farmers on the idea of doing breeding and saving all their seeds and
refusing to deal with the "giant multinational corporations."

You'd hear a lot of laughter.

The developing world is called that because it is developing, and wants to
be developed, like the developed world is.

Unfortunately, the developing world is easy prey for RAFI's ideas, a group
working to prevent its development. Development requires the adoption and
use of developed technologies, there is no way around that.

If they want development, Ms. Shand, I think it would be much better to
advocate letting them have it.

> From: Hope Shand
> Subject: RAFI, property rights, Divine and Sacred
> This message is in response to Andrew Apel's diatribe against RAFI -- the
> Rural Advancement Foundation International,

Date: Jul 06 2000 09:43:28 EDT
From: "Clothier, Jeffrey"
Subject: (No Subject)

Time to kill altered foods' Frankenstein image.
(Brief Article)
Business First-Columbus, June 16, 2000 v16 i43 p36
By Tracinski, Robert W.

Full Text
The Food and Drug Administration's decision May 3 to formally impose
regulations on genetically modified foods was supposed to be a step
forward for scientific objectivity -- but it will actually serve to
perpetuate an anti-biotech crusade fueled by an irrational hatred of
science and technology.
The ostensible purpose of the FDA's rules is to "reassure consumers" about
the safety of genetically modified foods. But it will merely serve to give
an undeserved legitimacy to anti-biotech environmental activists, by
treating their scare tactics as scientific claims to be answered with
scientific evidence.
In reality, these claims are based not in science but in a superstitions
fear of science and technology. It is revealing that environmental
activists have chosen to smear genetically modified foods with the term
"frankenfood," invoking Frankenstein, the classic horror story of a mad
scientist who tampers with nature's secrets and unleashes a monster.
But this Frankenstein myth, and its theme of the dangers of science, has
been thoroughly refuted in the nearly 200 years since it was first
Science and technology have improved human life in countless ways, from
the steam engine to the pasteurization of milk, from electrical power to
antibiotics. And genetically modified foods are just the latest step in
this march of progress.
Farmers have long modified the genetic makeup of their crops and livestock
through selective breeding -- choosing to breed the prize bull, for
example, or planting seeds from the highest-yielding stalks of wheat. But
genetic engineering has made this process much easier and faster.
Scientists discovered how to alter genes directly, to take advantages
possessed by one species of plant or animal and splice them into the genes
of another species.
So, for example, one popular variety of genetically engineered corn
contains a gene taken from a bacteria; that gene produces a chemical toxic
to caterpillars, giving the corn an inbuilt defense against harmful
This new technology is already providing farmers bigger harvests and lower
costs for American farmers. And scientists have also begun engineering
plants that grow better under difficult conditions, such as drought --
promising a new "green revolution" for the Third World.
Genetically modified foods are not merely safe -- they are an enormous
advance, and we should be applauding the heroes of science who invented
But that's not what the environmentalists are doing. Instead, they have
concocted a pseudo-scientific scare campaign against these foods. Here is
a sampling of the claims against genetically modified foods, as summarized
in a U.S. News & World Report article last year: "Though no scientifically
valid study has shown that altered foods are toxic, some researchers
believe it's possible that genetic manipulation could enhance natural
plant toxins in unexpected ways."
The basis for all of these claims is the "unexpected," the
"unpredictable," the "unknown" -- in other words, not evidence, but the
lack of evidence.
This gimmick could be used to prove or disprove anything. By the same
logic, anyone could be hauled into the police station and charged with
murder, on the grounds that he might have killed an unknown person using
an undetermined murder weapon and then hidden the body in an undiscovered
location. Of course, such an arbitrary assertion would be thrown out of a
court of law -- and it should also be dismissed from any scientific
But for the environmentalists, this debate is not really about science.
They approach this issue with the pre-established conviction that science
and technology must create monsters. They believe in the Frankenstein myth
-- and they refuse to let any amount of evidence, or lack of it, shake
their belief.
The proper response to this anti-science campaign is not more regulation
of biotechnology, but a total rejection of the alleged need for such
regulation. It is time to expose arid reject the primitive fear of
technology that lurks behind the attack on genetically modified foods. It
is time to kill the Frankenstein myth.
Robert W. Tracinski is a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute in
Marina del Rey, Calif. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand,
author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

Jeff Clothier (515) 270-3989
Web Coordinator
Corporate Communications
Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.
Des Moines, IA 50306