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August 2, 2000


Rissler and Mellon


Eastern Daylight Time
I have known Rissler and Mellon for nearly nine years. I was invited in
1991 by Rissler and Mellon when they were with the National Wildlife
Federation to serve on a scientific panel that resulted in their book "The
Ecological Risks of Engineered Crops". Inspite of my concerns then and
now about some proposed GE crops, I was also one of three scientists on
the panel who asked not to be named in the cknowledgments of the book
because of the deep concerns we had over the claims made in it, in my case
particularly because of their selective citation of the available and
undisputed facts. Whatever one's philosophical views, I think that
critics who deserve our respect should be completely honest about the
facts on which their arguments are based.

I would still generally agree with Val Giddings comment: "Among those who
are opposed to ag biotechnology I have found them to be highest in
personal integrity. I cannot speak so highly of the strength or grounding
of their logic or the rigour of their arguments."

However, I am also concerned about Rissler's and Mellon's apparent
unwillingness to see the arguments about GE crops in shades other than
black and white. I asked them on several occasions if there is any type
of GE crop that they saw as being acceptable, or in the net benefit of the
environment, that is, if there could be any redeeming value (I would
suggest that insect tolerant cotton is such an example, inspite of concerns
about the evolution of resistance in the targeted insect pests). The
question was always evaded.

In the history of mankind, I cannot think of any technology that was
without merit in some circumstances. I still find it disturbing that
Rissler and Mellon apparently cannot accept that there are any societal
benefits to at least one or a few GE crops. The real world is always
colored in shades of grey; I still wonder if Rissler and Mellon will ever
be able to come to grips with it.

I agree with Giddings; it is on substantive grounds that philanthropic
support of Rissler and Mellon should be challenged. I would add that I
believe that unwillingness to take a balanced view, one focused on
significant risks rather than blanket opposition, should be a part of that


Subj: Re: UCS
Date: Wed, 2 Aug 2000 5:05:23 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Dennis R Keeney

I agree that Margaret's views are socioeconomic in nature. But in her
defense, that is what is on the minds of many farmers these days, do I
stay in business or not? Do GE crops offer any economic advantages? And
if I and my neighbor go and are replaced by megafarm units, what happens
to my kids and my community? We have to go beyond science to find many of
the issues to GE crops.

Dennis Keeney
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