Archive for AgBioView: Message #729
Aug 19 2000 15:54:39 EDT
AGBIOVIEW: Biotech Glossary Online; Food Safety & Public Perception
Net; Greens Profit Net; NY Times
The popular Biotechnology Glossary book by Kimball Nill published by
Technomic Publishing is now online. I found it very easy to use. This site
will be of use to students, teachers, scientists and any one interested in
From: Jane Patukas
New Biotechnology Glossary Available Online Over 2,000 Terms defined --
from Abiogenesis to Zymogens
Lancaster PA (August 18, 2000) -- Technomic Publishing Company Inc. and
The Bivings Group announced today the unveiling of
The site is a fully searchable version of Technomic's Glossary of
Biotechnology Terms, Second Edition by Kimball R. Nill. The Glossary is
designed for use by anyone with an interest in biotechnology, including
executives interfacing with the biotechnology industry -- particularly
those who may not be formally trained in biotechnology. Clear, concise
definitions are provided for quick reference.
A unique feature of this online glossary is a reference chain that allows
visitors, after finding a term's definition, to immediately identify and
find other definitions of related terms. This allows the expert to read as
little as necessary and the novice to learn as much as he or she cares to.
In addition, links within the online Glossary of Biotechnology Terms
enable users to search for other occurrences of a term within the
The online Glossary of Biotechnology Terms will be updated by the author
in the coming months, and soon visitors will be able to submit suggestions
for new terms and definitions. Technomic will be rolling out a third
edition of the printed volume in the near future, which will include 500
new term as well as updated definitions.
The Bivings Group (http://www.bivings.com), who created the web version
from data provided by Technomic, serves a number of Fortune 100 clients in
biotechnology, chemical, food, consumer products and telecommunications
industries. They also provide consulting and technical services to trade
associations, government agencies, non-profit industries and e-commerce
start-ups. Technomic Publishing Co., Inc. is an academic and scientific
publisher specializing in the areas of Pharmaceutical Science,
Environmental Science, Material Science, Food Science and other scientific
and technical fields. The Technomic website is http://www.techpub.com/.
The online Glossary of Biotechnology Terms Site is sponsored by Monsanto
as part of their ongoing support for biotechnology education.
For further information contact:
Technomic Publishing Co., Inc.
851 New Holland Avenue
Lancaster PA 17604
Tel: (717) 291-5609; Fax (717) 295-4538
From: Andrew Apel
Subject: Re: Environment regulations hinder biotech industry
Many have voiced the suspicion that the "protest industry" is motivated by
profit. By now, we have all seen the Greenpeace numbers which show that
the group has a margin on operations that rivals many other multinational
corporations with which it competes. But what about the other "protest"
capitalists? I found a wonderful site. If you want to look at the profit
margins of various "environmental concerns," visit:
and do a search on the names of activist groups. You will get numbers on
their gross and net incomes... and their profitability is astounding.
Makes one wonder: some people feed others for a living and have to
scramble and scrimp to do it; these folks merely need to invent shocking
allegations to bring in cash by the bushel.
Please remember to sign our anti-SAFeAGE campaign, a link to which can be
found on the main AfricaBio page
Albe van der Merwe
Subj: Greenpeace (again)
For updated info on everybody's favorite enfant terrible of the Green
movement, check out:
(From Agnet; Douglas A Powell )
THE BIG CITY; THE APPLE AND THE SINS OF JOURNALISTS John Tierney The New
York Times August 18, 2000
The topic of today's quiz is, according to this story, "Ethical Quandaries
of Two New York Journalists in the Supermarket Produce Aisle." The first
is John Stossel of ABC's "20/20," who did a report earlier this year
comparing organic produce with regular produce.
Most of it reflected conventional wisdom among scientists: organic food
has no nutritional advantages and, the story says, poses a greater risk of
bacterial contamination because it is grown in manure. He also reported
that pesticides are not a danger in either kind of produce, which is not
controversial either. The Food and Drug Administration regularly tests
produce and finds pesticide residues in both organic and regular produce
that are well below dangerous levels.
But, this story says, Mr. Stossel erroneously believed and reported that
ABC itself had tested samples and found no pesticide on either kind of
produce. The samples analyzed by ABC had not been subjected to that
particular test. After Mr. Stossel's confusion over the testing data came
to light, as organic growers and environmentalists were demanding he be
fired, ABC reprimanded him and and suspended his producer. Last week he
went on the air to correct the error and apologize.
Things were handled differently in 1989 after Ed Bradley informed viewers
of CBS's "60 Minutes" that Alar, a chemical used by some apple growers,
was "the most potent cancer-causing agent in the food supply today." The
report was illustrated with a skull and crossbones superimposed on a red
apple. Scientists denounced the CBS report as inaccurate (there were more
potent carcinogens than Alar), alarmist and possibly carcinogenic itself
because the ensuing panic caused people to eat less fruit. Dr. Richard
Adamson, then director of the National Cancer Institute's division of
cancer etiology, was cited as calling the cancer risk from eating an
Alar-treated apple nonexistent.
Apple growers, who lost more than $100 million in the national panic that
resulted, demanded a correction and apology. So did the American Council
on Science and Health, a consumer education group in New York, which
repeated its request last year on the 10th anniversary of the scare. But
CBS stood by its reporter and its story. What conclusions can you draw
from these two controversies?
A) Organic farmers and environmentalists have more clout than apple
growers and scientists. B) The need for accuracy is inversely related to
the scareworthiness of a story. C) Journalists don't mind getting the
whole story wrong, but they are passionately fastidious about details. D)
Pay no attention to any news about pesticides.
The story says that the simplest choice would be the last. Worrying about
pesticides made sense in the 1960's and 1970's, when some scientists
wondered if the new chemicals would lead to a surge in cancer rates. But
the cancer epidemic never arrived, except in cigarette smokers and sun
worshipers. From 1950 to 1997, the age-adjusted death rate for all forms
of cancer except lung cancer declined by 19 percent, according to the
National Cancer Institute. Most Americans don't know about that decline,
in no small part because journalists prefer to focus on hypothetical
scares based on animal studies or popular fears. They lavish attention on
"cancer clusters"-like football players in the Meadowlands or
breast-cancer victims on Long Island-even though clusters continually turn
out to be be unrelated to environmental pollutants.
The other crucial statistic that Americans haven't learned from the media
is the one discovered by Bruce Ames, a biochemist at the University of
California at Berkeley, who was one of the early crusaders against
synthetic chemicals. He devised a simple test for detecting the
carcinogenic potential of chemicals, and helped get some dyes and flame
retardants banned. But then Dr. Ames and a colleague at Berkeley, Dr. Lois
Swirsky Gold, found that natural chemicals tested positive for causing
cancer as often as synthetic ones. Plants and fruits had evolved with
their own organic built-in pesticides. It turned out that 99.99 percent of
the pesticides in the human diet occur naturally in food.
If our bodies can cope with the 99.99 percent, Dr. Ames asked, why devote
so much effort to worrying about the remaining .01 percent? "Pesticide
residues are a nonissue as far as cancer prevention goes," Dr. Ames said
Accuracy is always an issue for reporters, and Mr. Stossel blundered by
reporting the results of a nonexistent test. But the worst journalistic
mistake has been giving the impression that the test even mattered.
NEW ON THE FOOD SAFETY NETWORK WEBSITE: PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF
BIOTECHNOLOGY Sophia Kamaldeen and D.A. Powell
Biotechnology is a powerful tool that presents a range of potential
environmental, social and economic benefits and demands rigorous
oversight. However, in recent years, modern biotechnology has been under
public scrutiny and is currently the focus of intense public and political
debate. Many supporters of the technology are worried that the benefits of
the technology may be overshadowed by the potential risks magnified by the
media and opponents of the technology. On July 11, 2000 seven academies of
science from around the world, issued a white paper spelling out the
promise of agricultural biotechnology to alleviate hunger and poverty in
the Third World.
This report was part of an international move to persuade the public that
genetically engineered crops have a potential for good (Derbyshire, 2000).
In democratic societies, public perceptions can both promote and hamper
commercial introduction and adoption of new technologies. Public
perceptions of biotechnology have received extensive attention in recent
years in most Western countries (Powell, 1998), including articles
(Albrecht, 1992), book chapters (Fleising, 1991), conferences (Burke,
1993; MacDonald, 1993), a public perception bibliography series (Cabirac
and Warmbrodt, 1993), studies of social implications and public concerns
about biotechnology (Lacy et al., 1991; Kemp, 1992) and entire books
(Batra and Klassen, 1987). There have been several surveys on public
perceptions of biotechnology (NSF, 2000; Angus Reid, 2000; Angus Reid,
1999a; IFIC, 2000; IFIC, 1999; Hoban, 1996; FMI, 1995, Hallman and
Metcafe, 1994; Hoban and Kendall, 1992; Miller, 1992; Hoban 1990; Berrier,
1987; Russell et al., 1987; U.S. Office of technology Assessment, 1987).
Several such surveys have also been conducted in Canada (Angus Reid, 2000;
Pollara and Earnscliffe, 1999; Angus Reid, 1999a; Angus Reid, 1999b;
Einsiedel, 1997; Angus Reid, 1995; Powell, 1994; Optima, 1994; Decima,