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August 18, 2000


Environment regulations hinder biotech industry;Pasteurized


Dr. Parish is only partially correct. Unpasteurized, or raw juice is not
inherently "organic," but FDA data from as recent as 1999 certainly
confirm that it is less safe than pasteurized juices.

The last time someone got sick from Salmonella in raw juice was, according
to the FDA, was last summer. On July 10, 1999, FDA issued a nationwide
health warning to consumers against drinking a particular brand of raw
juice products distributed by an Arizona company after 104 people were
sickened by Salmonella Muenchen. The company subsequently began to
pasteurize its juices.

There were three other outbreaks involving pathogens in raw juice products
in 1999, two of which involved Salmonella (imported frozen raw Mamey
puree, 13 sickened, and 435 cases of illness from Salmonella from raw
orange juice in Austraila).

The good news is there is a Good Manufacturing Practices regulation on the
books (21 CFS Part 110.80(a)(2): "Raw materials and other ingredients
shall either not contain levels of microorganisms that may produce food
poisoning or other disease in humans, or they shall be pasteurized or
otherwise treated during manufacturing operations so that they no longer
contain levels that would cause the product to be adulterated within the
meaning of the Act."

Unfortunately, FDA isn't fully enforcing it's own regulations. Efforts to
supplant pastuerization (or an equivalent process) with a mandatory HACCP
program don't seem to be working -- the Arizona company mentioned
previously was part of an FDA pilot program on Juice HACCP when their
outbreak occured.

FDA estimates that these raw juices cause about 6,000 to 6,200 annual
cases of illness. In recent years, there have been no reported outbreaks
resulting from pathogens in pasteurized juice products. There are scores
of other outbreaks of illness from unpasteurized juices in recent years,
including the death of a 16-month old infant girl in Colorado in 1996.

Kelly Johnston, Executive Vice President Government Affairs and
Communications, National Food Processors Association
From: Malcolm Livingstone
Subject: Marcus Williamson

Dear All,

At last Alex Avery has managed to tease out of Marcus Williamson his true
paranoid agenda. I suggest that we can all safely ignore Marcus from now
on. Indeed it really is a waste of time to do otherwise. It is just a real
shame so many took so much time out of their busy lives to explain why GM
crops are safe to a person who thinks the world is about to end. I wonder
if he was one of those few misguided individuals holding placards to
announce the end of the world on New Years Eve? Marcus you desperately
need to go to University and learn some science. I wonder how you would go
in advanced molecular biology classes?

Malcolm Livingstone
The views expressed in this email are entirely my own and in no way
reflect those of my employer.
From: "Henry I. Miller"
Subject: Letter to Nature re Flawed NAS Report

Nature 406, 560 (2000) Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
Environment regulations hinder biotech industry

Sir Your recent Opinion article "Critics of 'gene foods' report are
avoiding the real issues" (Nature 404, 689; 2000) neglects several
essential points. It referred to a US National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
report on a proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policy,
regulating plants manipulated with recombinant DNA for resistance to
disease or pests.

The academy's report is flawed, but not in the ways suggested by critics
of recombinant DNA technology. It is internally inconsistent and conflicts
with previous reports by the academy and other prominent scientific
groups. It paves the way for the EPA to introduce an illogical, burdensome
scheme that has been repeatedly condemned by the scientific community.

The report's authors ignored the crucial aspects of its brief: "to examine
the existing and proposed regulations to qualitatively assess their
consequences for research, development, and commercialization of
[recombinant plants modified to enhance
pest-resistance]" and to "provide recommendations to address the
identified risk/ benefits, and, if warranted, for the existing and
proposed regulation of [such plants]".

This point is essential because every other major analysis has found the
EPA's regulatory approach to be scientifically insupportable and
potentially damaging to agricultural research. In 1987, an academy report
concluded that there is no evidence that unique hazards exist either in
the use of recombinant DNA techniques or in the movement of genes between
unrelated organisms.

In 1989, another NAS study went further, stating that genetic modification
by molecular methods creates more predictable results. That report also
commented that the method used was not a useful criterion for deciding
whether the product needed more supervision.

Nor is it only academy committees that have objected to the EPA approach,
which circumscribes only recombinant DNA-manipulated plants for
case-by-case review of field trials, and subjects each variety to onerous
pesticide-registration procedures. In 1996, a report by 11 scientific
societies excoriated the EPA's approach and warned of negative
consequences if the EPA's policy were to be implemented. Two years later,
the Council on Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), an
international consortium of 36 scientific and professional groups,
strongly reiterated these criticisms.

It was extraordinary, therefore, to find in the academy's report that "the
committee has chosen to take EPA's proposed rule and the overarching
[federal governmental] coordinated framework as given". How could the NAS
have gone so far wrong in its assessment of the EPA policy?

The answer is that the committee was 'stacked' but not in the way
alleged by anti-biotechnology critics. Panel members and invited reviewers
included well-known ideological opponents to biotechnology and people who
had worked on the regulatory approach under discussion while employed at
the EPA.

The main consequence of this flawed report will be to promote unwarranted
regulatory barriers to the development of much-needed pest-control
strategies that can reduce farmers' reliance on chemical pesticides and
enhance productivity. If the report is implemented, the costs of research
on and commercialization of new plant varieties will be inflated. And it
will be another barrier to wide application of cost-effective
biotechnology to assist agriculture and increase world food production.

Henry I. Miller
Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-6010,


IFPRI is now accepting applications for three one-year postdoctoral
fellowships for the year 2001. The fellowships are designed to generate
sustained capacity to undertake food and agricultural policy research in
developing countries. Applications will be accepted until October 30,
2000. For information on eligibility and application procedures, go to:
For more information, contact Suresh Babu at S.Babu@cgiar.org.

(From Agnet Douglas A Powell )


When I was editor of the monthly magazine SeaFood Business I saw plenty of
news come in from environmental organizations. But I wasn't prepared for
the amount of green propaganda that I've seen since I've started reporting
daily on the Web. At times, I am amazed (and impressed) with how effective
environmental groups are in getting their messages out to the media. We
get news feeds from all over the world. Of the news flowing in, it is safe
to say a third is generated by one environmental group or another. Members
of the seafood industry often admit to me their frustration with the
amount of "bad press" this industry receives in the mainstream media.
Well, the bad press is due in large measure to the inexhaustible downpour
of information fed to the mainstream press by environmental groups. By
flooding the newsrooms around the world with "their side of the story,"
green groups end up controlling the debate on many issues important to the
seafood idustry. At the very least, they help set the agendas of newsrooms
everywhere. My shift from publishing a monthly magazine to publishing a
daily e-newspaper has helped me better understand why green groups have
been so successful in limiting access to the ocean's marine resources. By
controlling perception of the issue, the green groups control the issue.
Isn't it time the seafood industry took control of its destiny? We
appreciate the news tips that keep coming in from the industry and
encourage you all to keep it up. Perhaps by publishing the industry's
"side of the story" we can begin to have a greater impact on the debate.