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July 16, 2000


Ingo Potrykus, EU and GMOs, Elle, a Farmer's thoughts, GM Herbicides


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

Date: Jul 16 2000 21:34:40 EDT
From: Klaus Ammann
Subject: Debate 2000'0711 a: Prof. Ingo Potrykus from Zurich wins Kumho

Dear Friends,

Congratulations to Ingo Potrykus !

I am sure you agree that he deserves this prize, let alone for his work on
the golden rice . In my eyes he also deserves to be nominated and win the
World Food Prize.


itzerland, in May, in Korea. The award, US $30,000, is presented by the
Kumho Group and Kumho Cultural Foundation of Kwangju, Korea. Dr. Potrykus
was selected for the award by a committee appointed by the ISPMB. The
citation for the award drawn up by the committee reads as follows: The
Kumho award is presented to Ingo Potrykus, Professor of Plant Sciences,
Institute of Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)
for his groundbreaking work in plant biotechnology. A notable achievement
was his recent application of genetic engineering technology to produce
rice lines that contain greatly enhanced levels of pro-vitamin A. This
result promises to alleviate a major nutritional deficiency in hundreds of
millions of people who are dependent on rice as a primary food staple. By
making the improved rice freely available for distribution to subsistence
farmers, he has provided a compelling example of the use of the technology
in the service of humanity.

Dr. Potrykus, a long time member of the ISPMB, was on the Society's Board
of Directors 1989-1992.

Dear Friends,

Its high noon in Europe...


Restore this URL to full length on one line:


Brussels, 13 July 2000

Commission takes initiative to restore confidence in GMO approval process

The European Commission decided yesterday to propose to Member States a
strategy to regain public trust in the approval procedure for Genetically
Modified Organisms (GMOs). The objective is to resume the authorisation
process for GMOs in the near future whilst addressing public concerns on
GMOs as well as problems of legal uncertainty for stakeholders. The
Commission wants to give a clear response to political and legal concerns
over GMOs which favours consumer choice and legal certainty. The
Commission calls upon the Member States to play their part in paving the
way for a clearer and more comprehensive GMO strategy in Europe in the
future and promoting an open public debate. The Commission proposes to
apply the key provisions on the revised directive on the release of GMOs
in the environment to all new GMO approvals after agreement on its content
has been reached between the Council and the European Parliament. The
conciliation procedure is due to start on the 19 September. Further
measures on labelling
and traceability of GMOs will be put forward in the autumn.

The Commission's strategy aims to enable the relaunch of authorisations of
GMO products on the basis of a reinforced framework for approvals. It
entails the following:

- Anticipating the key provisions (labelling, traceability, monitoring
etc) of the revised Directive 90/220 before they are transposed in all
Member States. The new requirements will be incorporated into the
individual authorisations of GMO products granted on the basis of the
existing Directive 90/220. The notifying companies will need to put
forward voluntarily commitments in line with the new requirements as part
of their applications for authorisation. Such commitments would become
legally binding when the authorisation is granted. Authorisations would be
time-limited and control of approved products reinforced.

- A comprehensive set of labelling provisions which would cover GMOs and
GMO products to be submitted by the Commission by autumn 2000

- An initiative on a traceability system for GMOs to be submitted by the
Commission by autumn 2000

- Acceleration of work on related issues. This includes environmental
liability, the monitoring and study of possible long-term effects on
biodiversity; further research; as well as taking into account
developments (i.e. Biosafety Protocol)

The Commission firmly believes that it is crucial to all stakeholders to
assume their responsibilities and adopt a comprehensive perspective on the
issue of GMO authorisations.

Commenting on the Commission's debate, Environment Commissioner Margot
Wallström stated:

"The Commission in its discussion acknowledged that there is a need for
political leadership to take forward the debate on GMOs in the EU. We are
ready to take up that challenge, together with Member States. The approach
proposed by the Commission is a first step towards a more constructive and
responsible strategy on GMOs." She added: "Our role is first and foremost
to provide a framework for the authorisation and control of GMOs, which is
reliable and safe for consumers and the environment. We need to
re-establish confidence in our approval systems. Citizens must be allowed
to chose for themselves whether they want products containing GMOs or not."

David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection said: "The
objective of the Commission is to promote a balanced approach to
biotechnology and GMOs in particular. The public needs to be assured of
the highest protection of public health, and of the environment, including
the protection of biodiversity. At the same time they need to be able to
make an informed choice with regard to GMO products. I want to emphasise
that our approval system is strictly science-based. Consumers should be
assured and informed that we are paying attention to all questions they
have raised."

With this approach, the Commission wishes to signal to Member States,
other Community institutions, trading partners and civil society that it
is necessary to respond to public concern with concrete action. Not to act
does not constitute a solution, but would leave the EU unprepared and
lagging behind in the handling of GMOs.

The new approach should make it possible for Member States to act on a
different and stronger basis in the Regulatory Committee (consisting of
representatives of the Member States (considering products for approval
under Article 21 of Directive 90/220) as well as in the Council, while
restoring the confidence of consumers and trading partners.

The Commission also believes it is important to establish the conditions
necessary for the development of a sector that will play a crucial role in
the future economy and competitiveness of European industry.

In its debate, the Commission stressed the importance of maintaining the
dialogue with all stakeholders and interested parties consumers,
agriculture, industry, NGOs, science, governments, European Institutions
trading partners.


(see also background MEMO/00/43)

GMOs and the use of modern biotechnology in food and plants is currently
the focus of intense public and political debate. Growing concerns have
particularly focused on potential risks to human health and the
environment. A "de facto moratorium" applied by Member States has implied
that no new GM products have received approval under the EU procedure
since October 1998. Five Member States have banned already approved GM
products, under Art 16 of Directive 90/220. This article enables Member
States to ban or restrict use/sale of specific GMO products temporarily,
on certain conditions.

Approvals of GMO products in the EU is based on both general and specific
legislation. 18 products have been approved to date under the general
Directive (Directive 90/220/CEE), while 14 are pending approval. This
Directive is currently under revision. The second reading in the European
Parliament was completed in April, and a conciliation procedure between
Council and European Parliament is scheduled to be launched on 19

Rapid agreement between the European Parliament and the Council could
result in adoption of the revised Directive by autumn 2000 with
transposition in national law by spring 2002.

Date: Jul 16 2000 21:29:16 EDT
From: "Mitchell-ENV, Brad" (Brad Mitchell) (by
Subject: re: ELLE article in full

I have to say, other than the title, I did not find the Elle article
offensive in and of itself. I thought the author gave a fairly accurate
view of what lay consumers are facing when confronted with issues around
agricultural biotechnology, and how they respond. Perhaps I missed a key
point in the piece, but I did not read the article so much as being
against biotechnology, as a vignette on how the author, and presumably
many of his readers, reacts when faced with new technology which they
really don't understand much about. I greatly appreciated the author's
honesty when he stated that he knew little about where his food comes
from, and that his viewpoints on biotechnology might change at dinner time.

I do find it incredibly offensive that the public may be relying on a
glamour magazine for information about technology and agriculture.
Educating consumers about relevant science and issues should be a goal of
all of us. Attacking an article that demonstrates the need for education
seems much less important to
me than addressing that need. Too often I sense that members of this
group, myself included, are spending too much effort defending
biotechnology and reacting to it's critics, rather than educating
consumers about it.

Any time a new technology is introduced into society, that society must
create values around that technology. Look at the internet and issues of
privacy, etc. When ag biotech came into the mainstream a few years ago,
a huge vacuum of values accompanied it. In Europe, anti-biotech
organizations were very
effective in filling this vacuum with their own values. In my opinion,
this was made possible because:

1. A lot of euro-american trade friction exists, particularly
around agriculture
2. Most European's understanding of biotechnology comes from
science-fiction rather than science.
3. Scientists were asleep at the switch, assuming everyone shared
their trust and understanding of scientific principals.

The vacuum of values surrounding ag biotechnology has yet to be filled in
North America. If scientists are to influence the societal values that
fill this vacuum (and resulting laws and regulations), we need to realize
that the average consumer does not have a good understanding of science,
particularly of genetics. American societal values will never be in
agreement with the values of those of the scientific community unless the
general public is made aware of basic scientific principals and how they
What the percentage of Americans who responded to a recent poll that they
want "DNA Free Food"? Far too high for society to form a rational
consensus on agricultural biotechnology.

A longwinded prologue to my point, which is that Elle Magazine should not
be the target of our efforts. A quick glance at the cover should make it
clear that it is not the proper forum for this topic. The magazine's
readers should be our target.

Brad Mitchell
Director, Division of Regulatory Services
Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture


Like you I spent most of my life on the farm and I have never met so
called environmentalist that could make a living on a farm. I think most
would starve in a pen full of chickens.

From what I have see this year round up ready cotton may be the biggest
step in preventing erosion since terraces on cotton farms. I see fields
where the farmer let wheat get 8 to 10" tall and sprayed it with round up
an then planted cotton in the standing wheat. This totally stops wind
erosion and greatly reduces erosion by water. It's not a very pretty crop
but it sure beats the sand blowing.

I think that population stabilization has to come sooner or later. I would
be best if comes sooner. It is a very difficult problem that has many
practical pitfalls as well as innumerable political problems. I looks like
some groups would rather see Africa depopulated by AIDS than to spend a
few bucks or condoms and education. And other groups spend fortunes to
protect African wild life. I guess if enough folks die of AID's it will
protect the wild life.


I have discarded all of my emails about this ( Prof Gressel at
may be able to recover some of them)
but I have been informed by a journalist in the US that this story is wrong
on several counts, not least of which is that the so-called herbicide is
not GM.


>This was posted in a list of latinamerican agricultural scientists. Any
> comments?
> Jose Falck Zepeda
> Published on Sunday, July 2, 2000 in the London Observer
>Going Backwards: US Prepares To Spray Genetically-Modified Herbicides On
> by Ed Vulliamy in New York
>A torrent of potentially lethal herbicide is set to be unleashed across
>great swaths of Colombia as part of a new US aid package which was
>approved by Congress last week.