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July 9, 2000


EU standards, Scientist?, labeling


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

Subj: Re: EU Food Standards Are a Global Health Hazard
Date: Fri, 7 Jul 2000 6:06:16 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: "Ewer, J, Jonathan, Mr"

> More recently, the European Union has attempted to frighten its own
> consumers about the safety of modern farm inputs that raise yields:
> pesticides, beef growth hormones, antibiotics that protect the health of
> livestock and poultry, and most recently biotech foods.

I must say the EU is quite right in 'frightening' consumers about the
use of anibiotics to raise yields. Is this not one of the major reasons
why there is so much anitbiotic resistance around? Have we forgotten
about this in our frenzy to defend agbiotech?

Subj: (Fwd) Re: Who is a scientist
Date: Sat, 8 Jul 2000 2:24:50 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: "Garth Coffin"

Dear List Members

In the context of the discussion of who is a scientist and who isn,t, I
feel obliged to caution our biological scientist colleagues not to be too
exclusive in their definition of who qualifies as a scientist and, by
extension, who has standing to comment on biotech. There are, after all,
different kinds of scientists, each of whom can bring something to bear
on this debate. I cite the example of social scientists, of which
economics is one, who have a good deal of legitimate argument to offer
about these developments and their impact, if not on the technicalities
of food safety or gene expression. Some economists are able to see, for
example, that there is a market for both biotech and organic foods and
that the debate may be more about market share than about food safety or
who is going to save the world. Arguing over which group has credibility
to join the debate is not a winning strategy, however enlightening it
might be to know how various groups are constituted.

I do not condone anyone claiming to be something they are not, or posing
as experts beyond their field of expertise, but it is also a bit
high-handed to declare certain categories of professionals as something
other than "real" scientists because they do not have the same degree. As
someone whose first degree was a
B.Sc.(Agr.) before doing graduate studies in economics, I feel like
somewhat of a "hybrid" (intellectually but not genetically modified) who
can appreciate the merits of both the social and the biological sciences.
I simply urge prudence in how we categorize others.

Garth Coffin

Subj: Re: SF Examiner, Veggie Cancer, Labeling
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000 8:49:34 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: "Robert Vint"


The important question is not what research I think needs doing, its what
research the public will see as reasonable before they eat GM foods.
David Lineback, below, seems to be asking if we should test foods
specifically in response to consumer fears - well what practical
alternative is there if you want to sell the products? As the
decision-makers have already decided that these foods are safe and
therefore are confident that the results of research would be positive
what is there to lose? Such research would seem to be sensible PR.


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
>in this debate to agree on the kind of research that is needed to
>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