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Date:

July 9, 2000

Subject:

CHC Briefing, ACGA, RAFI, Labeling, Sainsbury

 

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

Date: Jul 07 2000 17:09:31 EDT
From: Alex Avery
Subject: Re: CONGRESSIONAL HUNGER CENTER BIOTECH BRIEFING

Here was my question at the end of the Congressional Hunger Center's
Biotech Briefing, Can Biotechnology Help Fight Hunger, to Dr. Vandana
Shiva/Antoinette regarding her opposition to the golden rice. There
wasn't time for me to reply to Dr. Shiva/Antoinette at the briefing, but
I've included a short reply here.

We all owe our thanks to doctors Prakash, McGloughlin, and
Pinstrup-Andersen for their great defense of a much needed technology as
well as their honest and candid opinions. They did a fantastic job.
-------------------------

ALEX AVERY, Center for Global Food Issues, Hudson Institute: Ms. Shiva,
you specifically downplayed the importance of golden rice, based upon the
example of women farmers in Bengal and the wide variety of green leafy
vegetables that they utilize in their traditional diet. I actually spoke
with a couple of nutritionists at UNICEF on the vitamin A Global
Initiative, and they told me that the bioavailability of vitamin A in
those green leafy vegetables is actually quite low, and they seriously
question whether it would be physically possible to meet vitamin A needs
based solely on eating these native green leafy vegetables, and that
vitamin A rice and supplementation are very important. What do you have to
say to these UNICEF scientists and nutritionists and their question about
the green leafy vegetables?

DR. SHIVA: First, the green leafy vegetables are not the only source of
vitamin A. There are tremendous fruit varieties that are also sources of
vitamin A. It is now recognized by every nutritionist that the areas where
we are getting vitamin A deficiency, iron deficiency, calcium deficiency,
are in regions where the impact of the green revolution has wiped out the
biodiversity sources.

The reason I addressed the hype on vitamin A rice is because when it was
presented, it was as if all these children who are going blind will go
blind if this rice is not produced. That is not true. The
increase in vitamin A deficiency is a result of agricultural systems that
destroy biodiversity and easy access to wide variety of sources of food
with the balanced nutrition. Now that I think is something we can't get
away with. We also know UNICEF is pushing micronutrients, as if we didn't
have capsules children would never have micronutrient deficiency met. We
know UNICEF and WHO and FAO have a history of functioning with a little
bit of nudging from where power lies; we experience that. And I go by the
nutritional analysis of our National Institute of Nutrition, (technical
difficulty) nutrition in the various states, and you just have to see that
data that they are
laying out and you just have to map the depletion of biodiversity, the
expansion of industrial agriculture and chemicals in agriculture,
especially herbicides, that's absolutely 1 to 1 with the deficiencies of
the kind that we're talking about in vitamin A.

I think it is time for us to recognize that the poorest of women can have
a home garden. All we have to do is once again allow them to be major
actors on this issue of nutrition and food and food rights for their
children. I think any system that lets four companies and six scientists
be the educators of nutritional literacy in the world will create
tremendous threats to nutritional security.

AVERY'S RESPONSE: Dr. Shiva, you scoff at the WHO, FAO and UNICEF for
"nudging from where power lies" capsules and food fortification to fight
micronutrient deficiencies that you believe would dissappear if we simply
had diverse enough diets. According to the experts at UNICEF and
nutritionists I've spoken with, the only reason we here in North America
don't suffer from some of these deficiency-linked diseases is exactly
because we fortify our food with vitamins and critical nutrients. Food
fortification simply will not work in areas where people mostly grow their
own food and where there is little processed food and few stores. That is
why the golden rice was
created, because it can reach populations where other solutions to these
very real problems have simply not been able to work.

Alex A. Avery
Director of Research and Education
Center for Global Food Issues
Hudson Institute
P.O. Box 202
Churchville, VA 24421
(540) 337-6354
fax: (540) 337-8593
email: aavery@rica.net

www.cgfi.org
=====================================================

Date: Jul 07 2000 18:39:40 EDT
From: "Meredith Lloyd Evans - BioBridge"
Subject: Re: Inside the American Corn Growers Association

Dear Paul,

I am not a researcher, though I am an independent consultant who has
looked at the scientific, regulatory and commercial issues to do with a
wide range of innovations from new vaccines for livestock, through GM
crops and foods to tissue engineering for humans. Open and fair-minded
discussion is vital. What is unforgivable is the close-minded propaganda
that demonises all GM developments and the people who carry out the R&D
and also farmers and food providers who have accepted the use of GM.

This terrorism, that relies on half-truths and twisted facts, or even
blatant scaremongering that bears no relationships to likelihood, cannot
be tolerated. It inevitably inspires strong reactions from scientists and
corporate employees. They may not be defending their pay-packets, they may
be defending what they see as the truth and the right thing to do.

As for the Agricultural Apartheid preached by the Soil Association and
other 'organic farming' movements, this is the sickest form of
self-interest and protectionism around at the moment, and anyone who sees
even the slightest grain of benefit in biotech just has to stomp on these
people, as firmly and gently as they can.

Regards and thanks for your contribution to the debate.

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

----- Original Message -----
From: Paul Ebert
To: AgBioView
Sent: 06 July 2000 23:15
Subject: RE: Inside the American Corn Growers Association

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
===================================================================

Subj: ACGA
Date: Sat, 8 Jul 2000 1:30:51 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Andrew Apel

Colleagues:

It bears mentioning that the American Corn Growers Association dropped
out of the CropChoice consortium shortly before the story broke.

> http://www.guestchoice.com/051600_acga.htm
> Inside the American Corn Growers Association
> The American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) caught the media

> ACGA has now affiliated itself with activist and organic groups, and
formed CropChoice (http://www.cropchoice.com) to disseminate "news
===================================================================

Date: Jul 07 2000 17:45:11 EDT
From: "Jill Lenne and Dave Wood" <113077.3244@compuserve.com>
Subject: The Apel/Shand exchange on RAFI

Andrew Apel is not so much delivering a diatribe against RAFI as being
genuinely puzzled over the apparently illogical position advocated by
RAFI, a Canadian-based NGO.

With no Plant Varietal Rights/Patents over varieties, as advocated by
RAFI, there will be no stimulus for domestic or multinational private
sector investment. Countries will have to rely entirely on their own
public sector (or on the international public sector, with institutes such
as IRRI - characteristically attacked by RAFI): this won't work -
countries will need to import food (from Canada?).

With no PVR, all genetic resources will be `global heritage', freely
available to all (including Canada). BUT there will be no private sector
anywhere to use them, and certainly no incentive to conserve them
nationally. As Canada has no native crop genetic resources, it might be
tempted to freeload the genetic resources of others for a time - but
without incentives for development and maintenance, the supply - mainly
from developing countries - would soon dry up.

Using Hope's own words (on biopiracy) - trying to get others (not your own
country) to reject PVR `isn't necessarily illegal--but it is immoral and
unacceptable'. If you don't like this sort of thing, campaign at home,
where at least you are not going to starve to death it things go wrong.
And Andrew has spotted signs of `eco-colonialism' and denial of choice to
developing country farmers. If North American farmers would laugh RAFI
off the farm, I expect third world farmers and their governments will
increasingly do the
same.

Hope's claim that the act of seed-saving is `fundamental ... to survival
on this planet' is simply not so: this is dogma run wild. Seed supply
networks ARE fundamental, but these include a far wider sector -
neighbours, stores, seed companies, the state, genebanks, the CGIAR,
multinationals etc., the more the better. All farmers have these
contacts, and all the evidence points to a rapid turn-over of traditional
varieties, and an overwhelming reliance on the varieties of other farmers
(and the formal sector), rather
than home-bred varieties. For RAFI to deny farmers access to new
varieties in the hope they will conserve old varieties is sheer folly -
farms will suffer economic collapse and the whole lot will go. And nothing
ever stops farmers saving seed of their own varieties if they wish to. But
RAFI seems to want to MAKE farmers save seed, by banning access to new
seed technology.

The RAFI fuss about `terminator' also can be seen as Canadian
self-interest: don't allow a technology loose into the world that could
encourage multinationals to breed wheat varieties for countries outside
Canada.
(Varieties of wheat, a non-hybrid crop, hitherto could not be protected in
countries with weak or no varietal protection legislation and therefore
were not attractive to multinationals. `Terminator' would provide genetic
protection, and encourage breeding for a wider range of countries). But
farmers will not get to choose now - farms will become museums of obsolete
varieties. And Canada may be getting into a weak position diplomatically
if, as noted by Hope, a Canadian institution, IDRC, sponsors RAFI.

RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation International) seems to be going a long
way in the wrong direction since its origin as the Rural Advancement Fund
with the objective of directly helping poor farmers in the US. RAFI needs
to return to its moral roots at home rather than continue to target the
agricultural policies of developing countries. And to return to Andrew's
arguments: is RAFI now believable?

Dave Wood
=====================================================

Subj: Labeling
Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2000 11:22:15 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: "MERRITT, COLIN R [AG/8050]"

Paul Ebert wrote the apparently reasonable statement:

"The real question is why not label genetically engineered (or modified)
agricultural products? What are you afraid of? If the science is so
sound then your efforts would be better spent informing the public of the
risk/benefit ratio of using your products, rather than attempting to keep
your products indistinguishable from there non-biotech alternatives.
Organic farmers have gone to great lengths to get there products labeled."

Well, the real reason that such labelling is so dangerous is that many,
sadly including lobbyists in Mr Ebert's sector, use such labels to create
unfounded fear. The comparison with organic labels is not valid. Instead,
consider what would be the reaction if all food had to carry a label
stating "sprayed with xxxx pesticide", or for that matter "treated with
cow (pig, or chicken) manure, which may contain the deadly bacteria, E.
Coli (or salmonella)", or "untreated so containing (low?) levels of fungal
diseases which may produce toxic and carcinogenic mycotoxins in the
product". This is why labelling is such a difficult issue: if we are to
avoid exploitation by scaremongers who may do more harm to people through
uneccessary anxiety about safe food, or find themselves under false
pressure to opt for poor diets or to waste too much money on uneccessarily
expensive food, even though there is still no proven harm from
conventionally produced food.

Consumer's right to know says label foods with whatever we may all wish
for, but in that case soceity should ensure that the full force of law is
brought to bear on anyone making false claims about food hazards (or
unproven benefits)as a result.

Colin Merritt
========================================================

Subj: Re: Sainsbury to be applauded
Date: Fri, 7 Jul 2000 11:24:43 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Nick Carpita

You might hold your applause for Sainsbury for the time being. My support
note to them prompted the following reply:

"Dear Dr. Carpita,

Many thanks for your email, and please accept my apologies for the delay
in replying to you. Thanks for your comments on GM food. Sainsbury's
eliminated GM ingredients from its own label foods and petfoods in July
1999 following customer demand for non-GM foods and continue to operate a
non-GM policy. I must stress that this is purely due to customer pressure,
and not based on solid scientific investigation.

We have reacted to what our customers want to see on our shelves, so if
the majority of public opinion changes, we may consider investigating this
area again. I hope this isn't too disappointing to you,

Kind regards
Pippa."
feedback@sainsburys.co.uk
-----
Nick Carpita
Dept. Botany & Plant Pathology
Purdue University

On Friday, June 30, 2000, AgBioView wrote:
>AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org,
>http://agbioview.listbot.com
>
>Friends,
>
>I encourage scientists to send their encouragement to Sainsbury for =
having
>the courage to support research into biotechnology-improved vegetables.
>In the current anti-progress hysteria fomented by narrow-minded interest
>group activists in the U.K., Sainsbury's should be applauded for taking
>responsible measures to look into the benefits of GM; however, Sainsbury
>should also be asked to stop their anti-biotech advertising campaign as =
it
>contributes to ignorance and fear.
>
>Please send comments to: feedback@sainsburys.co.uk
>
>
>You can also phone them at 0800 63 62 62.
========================================================

Date: Jul 06 2000 15:25:31 EDT
From: "Meredith Lloyd Evans - BioBridge"
Subject:: your letter of 13 June

Dear All, including Jamie Bishop,

The text to my letter that was recently distributed got truncated and the
addressee was missed off! The person I was responding to was Clare
Devereux of the 'Five Year Freeze'
grouping. She sent some material to me, with many of the usual claims
about lack of testing, lack of safety and lack of need, and I responded.
Apologies if this mystified you or made you feel I wasn't of sound mind
etc.

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

----- Original Message -----
From: Jamie Bishop
To: 'Meredith Lloyd Evans - BioBridge'
Sent: 05 July 2000 23:02
Subject: RE: your letter of 13 June

Hi. Your note was interesting, but this paper doesn't address any
sentiment I hold, so
I was wondering if perhaps it was destined for another correspondent.

Take care.


Jamie Bishop
Bader Rutter & Associates
825 M Street, Suite 200
Lincoln, NE 68508
Phone 402-434-5307
FAX 402-477-2354
jbishop@bader-rutter.com
==========================================================================

Date:Jul 07 2000 15:10:28 EDT
From: Andrew Apel
Subject: Re: FW: RE: EPA approves Monsanto's GE potato


One effective way to fight this is to determine how many humans have
fallen ill from these viruses. Answer: zero.

"Kershen, Drew L" wrote:

> Here's a quick reply that I pass on from Prof. Joe cummins. The main
thing
> is that the Figwort Mosaic Virus promoter is very similar to the CaMV
> promoter, and it has not been proved to be safe beyond reasonable doubt.
> One effective way to fight this is to opt for organic and boycott
non-organic.