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July 6, 2000


SF Examiner, Veggie Cancer, Labeling


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

Subj: Re: Microarrays, testing, antibiotic markers, RAFI
Date: Fri, 7 Jul 2000 9:11:22 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Rick Roush


What research would you find adequate and why? Every offer I have heard
previously would require a level of testing never before applied to any
food (eg., kiwis, insect or disease resistant non-GM cultivars).


>Date: Jul 05 2000 13:52:18 EDT
>From: "Robert Vint"
>Subject: Re: City panel fights 'Frankenfoods' : LETTERS TO THE EDITOR of
>SanFrancisco Examiner

>Should we not attempt to end the deadlock by trying to get the two sides
>in this debate to agree on the kind of research that is needed to restore
>public confidence?
>Yours sincerely, Robert Vint.

Date: Jul 07 2000 10:48:51 EDT
From: David Lineback
Subject: Re: Microarrays, testing, antibiotic markers, RAFI

Dear Dr. Prakash:

Dr. Vint is apparently having some difficulty distinguishing between a
research program and a testing program. The statement in your letter to
the SF Examiner correctly implies that genetically improved foods
have undergone testing relative to issues of safety, substantial
equivalence to the common counterpart, and environmental concerns. This
is clearly a testing program, as it should be, not a research program.

The results of testing programs are usually not subjected to peer review
and publication of the results for they do not contribute new knowledge in
the sense of the results of research programs. It is the results of the
latter that are peer reviewed and published.

The results of testing programs are reviewed by regulatory authorities in
reaching decisions concerning introduction and marketing of the
genetically-improved product. This is part of a sound, justifiable risk
analysis approach to such decisions.

The approach requested has little basis in reality. If we follow this
line of reasoning, should we then require such testing of all foods? Most
of the foods we consume have never undergone such testing. Or should we
only test those with which "consumers" are not "satisfied?"


David Lineback

Date: Jul 07 2000 07:38:07 EDT
From: Andrew Apel
Subject: Veggie Cancer

This is probably very scary news for people who preach about 'jumping
genes' and 'gene escapes' and 'unknown consequences.' Is it time to apply
the 'precautionary principle?'

Cancer gene related to fruit and vegetable growth

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The genetic mechanism that through millennia of evolution
has created plump and juicy fruits and vegetables could also be involved
in the proliferation of human cancer cells.

Plant biologists and computer scientists at Cornell University have
essentially made a direct genetic connection between the evolutionary
processes involved in plant growth and the processes involved in the
growth of mammalian tumors.

Studying the genetic map of the tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum), the
researchers found a "plumping" characteristic in a single gene called ORFX
-- traits that are expressed early in the plant's floral development. The
protein sequence obtained from the gene was predicted by computational
data to be similar to the human oncogene c-H-ras p21, suggesting a common
mechanism in the cellular processes
leading to large, edible fruit in plants and cancer in humans.

For the rest, visit:


Date: Jul 07 2000 11:25:23 EDT
From: Alan McHughen
Subject: Re: Inside the American Corn Growers Association

> Paul Ebert wrote:
> The real question is why not label genetically engineered (or
> modified) agricultural products?

The short answer is: labels don't work and mandatory labels will satisfy
no one, even (perhaps especially) those demanding mandatory labels.

The long answer (detailing *why* they don't work, and too long to copy
here) is in the 30 pages of Chapter 12 in 'A Consumer's Guide to
Genetically Modified Food: from green genes to red herrings' (OUP, ISBN
019 8507143), aka 'Pandora's Picnic Basket' (OUP North American title:
ISBN 019 8506740).
(Please excuse the shameless self promotion)

> The pharmaceutical industry labels the medications that are marketed.
> This labeling allows people to make informed choices. (snip)
> Most patient prefer the recombinant version. I do not
> attempt to hide the fact that these are biotechnology medications.

Most patients don't know the drugs are recombinant. More importantly, they
don't care. I asked a nurse practitioner who teaches MS patients how to
self- inject (rDNA) Betaseron (which is described in the second sentence
of the patient guide as being a product of biotechnology) how many of her
patients asked about the biotech nature of the drug. She said "None".

Pharmaceuticals are labeled to distinguish one drug from another, say
insulin from Betaseron. By the same reasoning, soybean oil is labeled as
soybean oil to distinguish it from safflower oil. But how do you
distinguish GM soybean oil from non-GM soybean oil?

> You must accept that there is great skepticism about
> new technology today amongst both the laymen and scientist alike.


Alan McHughen DPhil CBiol MIBiol
Professor and Senior Research Scientist
University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, Sk S7N 5A8
tel +1 306 966 4975
fax +1 306 966 5015

Date: Jul 07 2000 14:00:48 EDT
From: "J. Bishop Grewell"
Subject: Re: Inside the American Corn Growers Association

My two cents in response to Paul Ebert's queries regarding 'why not label
genetically modified foods.'

There is a difference between the mandatory labeling of goods and
voluntary labeling of goods. Yes, it may make sense for companies to label
their products and provide information about the product.
They may even be able to convince consumers that a premium price is
deserved as organic labelers have done. If there is really the demand for
informed choice out there, companies that provide that
information should be able to make more money from voluntarily labeling.
Worried about honesty and validity of the labels, get them independently

Mandatory government labeling, however, has at least two main
problems. One, it leaves the company no choice in the matter. The company
cannot choose the option of not labeling if it is costly
to do so (and labeling is not costless). As I've said, at the same time,
if consumers really want non-GMO foods, then it should pay a premium for
those without GMOs in their products to voluntarily label their products
as such. Same result, no mandatory decision. Secondly, mandated labeling
leaves the question of what exactly must the label include. If all the
label has to say is GMO or not-GMO, then can companies put a disclaimer
regarding the safety of GMO's on the label as well? Regulations are never
as simple as they might appear. Mandated labels often either tell the
consumer so much that they won't read it or so little that the information
lacks value.

Bishop Grewell
Research Associate
Political Economy Research Center

Paul Ebert wrote:

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

This is all simple modern political lobbying, everyone has an agenda
including you. You choose what is
posted on your list and it is obviously bias. Any intelligent person
recognizes this - after all you wish to
continue your research which no doubt requires the continued support of
your specialty. We are all bias
myself included. Is it any surprise that public interest lobbyists have
adopted the tricks of the corporate
interest lobbyists.