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July 26, 2000


Activists and Superfish


There needs to be a bit of clarification here. I have a copy of the
court's one-sentence decision in the Greenpeace vs. EPA suit. The court
did NOT dismiss the Greenpeace action by making a determination on the
merits of the case; Greenpeace simply gave up. Greenpeace, on its own
motion, asked the judge to drop
the case, and the judge agreed to the request.

Speaking from experience, I will point out here that it is quite rare for
plaintiffs to ask that their lawsuit be tossed out. I will also point out
that in US Federal court, there can be severe consequences for lawyers who
press frivolous claims; this is likely the motivation behind the
dismissal. If Greenpeace had a credible claim, it is axiomatic that it
would never have asked the court to dismiss its case.

> From: Barry Hearn
> Subject: Court dismisses Greenpeace lawsuit against Bt crops
> http://www.agweb.com/news/news.cfm?id=9111&breakingnews=1
> 7:41 AM - Jul 26, 2000 EDT
> Court dismisses Greenpeace lawsuit against Bt crops
by Julianne Johnston

Date: Jul 27 2000 12:37:42 EDT
From: Andrew Apel
Subject: Who Supports Activists?

Activists Sponsored By Chemical Companies, Says Minister

Brazilian Minister of Agriculture Marcus Vinicius Pratini de

Moraes feels that the debate over introducing transgenic products into
Brazil is just one more chapter in a trade war for a global market, the
British Broadcasting Company (BBC) reports. In addition, he accuses
activist groups that oppose biotechnology of being sponsored by
multinationals that will lose ground if the use of herbicides on farms is
reduced, and of serving the interests of countries in competition with
Brazilian producers for a share of the global agricultural market.

"Basically, basically, the nongovernmental organizations [NGOs] are being
sponsored by the manufacturers of herbicides and agricultural chemicals,"
he told the Jornal do Brasil in an interview. "Agricultural chemicals are
a business worth $40 billion globally. Brazil uses 6.2 per cent of those
chemicals. It is a $2.5 billion-dollar business in Brazil. When the
production of transgenic soybeans began in the United States, consumption
of agricultural chemicals dropped in half. The same thing is
going to happen here. If consumption drops in half, $1.25 billion dollars
is going to disappear from the market."

The minister foresees a loss of competitiveness for Brazilian agriculture
if producers do not begin adopting
transgenics in their farming. He feels that the country has nothing to
gain by remaining a country free of genetically modified organisms.

"In Argentina, costs have dropped by 25 per cent," said de Moraes, "and
productivity has remained the same. The biggest farming cost after land is
agricultural chemicals."

The minister also dismissed the notion that keeping Brazil as a source
free of GMOs would be financially advantageous.

"Transgenics reduce cost, and since our competitors are producing
transgenics, we will be left out of the market if we do not do the same.
Unless people are willing to pay more for nontransgenics," he added.

"The only problem is that no one wants to pay more," he noted. "Everybody
wants to buy nontransgenics in Brazil but will not pay even a penny more
than he would for the other product, which costs 25 per cent less [to
produce]. So it would mean condemning Brazilian producers to less income
and making it impossible to operate small farms, which cannot produce at
a lower cost."

Date: Jul 27 2000 11:34:38 EDT
From: Andrew Apel
Subject: Super Fish

The other goofy thing about the super fish discussion is determining the
degree of terror one should experience at the notion of releasing such
creatures into the environment. It is known that Nature constantly
experiments in order to find unexploited niches in the environment, and to
select in favor of what is best adapted to local conditions. If there is
an unexploited niche in the environment for super fish, or if super fish
are truly superior in some environment, and super fish thrive, what is a
credible argument for disagreeing with the verdict of Nature?

Perhaps it is written that Nature may experiment, while Man may not. This
appears to be a recrudescence of the notion that God has reserved to
Himself certain things which humans should not know, or do.

> From: Malcolm Livingstone
> Subject: fish
> Dear All,
> Re: Andrew Apel's message on transgenic fish.
> Andrew I read the article in Nature by the two scientists involved and
wrote to one of them with a few questions.

Subj: Re: Super Fish, GMO Detection Course
Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2000 12:05:45 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: EEntis@aol.com

I would like to add one additional point to my response to the superfish
debate. Not only are our transgenic salmon no larger than the
non-transgenics at mating period, we are seeking approval to grow only
all-female triploids (sterile) animals. While sterilization cannot be
guaranteed to be 100% succesful in all cases - even though all of our
evidence shows that in 20 years of history using this process not one
animal has remained fertile - we can promise 100% success in creating an
all-female line. This is a well known
technique in which genotypical females are changes into phenotypical
males. They produce "female" sperm, which while capable of fertilizing an
egg, does not contain a Y chromosome. Therefore all offspring are female.
This removes the heart of the Muir arguement based on the male advantage,
since these fish do not engage in male mating behaviour, whether or not
they are sterile.

For further discussion on the issue of how lab indiced mutations may
effect wild populations, I recommend an article by Wayne Knibb, "Risk from
genetically engineered and modified marine fish" (Transgenic Research, 6,
59-67, 1997). Dr. Knibb's conclusion, based on a review of empirical
evidence and evolutionary theory is that unless there are repeated and
large releases of any transgenic, all effects would be local and
short-lived. His conclusion comes about from the evidence that all
purposefully induced mutations have been shown to be less adaptive to the
wild than the locally established populations; that none have ever
survived beyond the immediate time frame, even where the mutation was
intended to survive (e.g., certain insects); and that the degree and
number of naturally occuring mutations, virtually all of which do not
survive, far exceed the number of single-point mutations created by man.

Elliot Entis
Aqua Bounty Farms