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August 20, 2000


Fenton, Extinction, ELF, Hazards


The organic pushers from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) claim,
“Stossel lied and threatened an entire industry by disseminating false and
damaging information.” The group has been calling for Stossel’s head and
getting a lot of press for the organic industry in the process. What is
EWG and what connection does it have to the people who brought you Alar?

The attack on Stossel certainly appears to be coming from PR mastermind
David Fenton of Fenton Communications, famous for introducing us to Alar
during a 60 Minutes interview. In a Washington Times interview after the
Alar scandal was discredited, Fenton said: “We designed [the Alar
Campaign] so that revenue would flow back to the Natural Resources Defense
Council [Fenton client] from the public, and we sold this book about
pesticides through a 900 number and the ‘Donahue Show.’ And to date there
has been $700,000 in net revenue from it.”

In a letter to his clients, Fenton added: "A modest investment repaid
itself many-fold in tremendous media exposure and substantial, immediate
revenue." Fenton said as a result of the Alar campaign, "Lines started
forming in health food stores. The sales of organic produce soared. All of
which we were very happy about."

The links to another Fenton attempt to boost organic sales couldn’t be


· EWG is a project of Tides Foundation/Tides Center.

· Arlie Schardt is Project Director for The Tides Center and also
happens to be the head of Fenton Communications’ Environmental Media
Services (EMS and Fenton are housed in the same office!).

· The Tides Center earmarked over $975,700 for EMS in 1999 and more
than $400,000 for EWG in 1998.

· Fenton Communications did $169,920 of business for Tides in 1997.

For all of today's headlines -- plus a look at GCN's bright new format --
point your browser to www.nannyculture.com.

Date: Aug 21 2000 09:37:32 EDT
From: Andrew Apel
Subject: Is Extinction The Answer?


Numerous anti-biotech, pro-organic and environmental movements tout the
notion that the human race is the worst planetary disaster since a
meteorite wiped out the dinosaurs. Well, at least one activist group has
stumbled upon the "final solution" (Endloesung) to the "human problem:"
the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. To learn more about a new way to
return Earth to a "natural" state, visit http://www.vhemt.org/.


Date: Aug 21 2000 10:20:48 EDT
From: "Bob MacGregor"
Subject: ELF, et al

In recent press releases, the ELF folks bragged about their destruction of
test crops and experimental trees (supposedly both GMOs). I have often
wondered why these folks, who claim to believe that all GMOs are evil and
deserving of destruction, haven't taken their show on the road, where the
_real_ GMO action is. There are millions of acres of Bt corn and cotton
and RR soybeans planted around the country. It seems strange that the
elves are content with destroying a few, symbolic acres of university
researcher corn (not always GMO, either!) when there vast fields of the
stuff just sitting there, unguarded all over the US midwest.

Although it may be strategically wise to take this tack, it shows lack of
ideological purity and zeal.

In a recent drive across this corn desert, I noted the milkweed plants
growing in the road right of way alongside the cornfields; I was struck
by the irony that I probably killed more monarch butterflies with my car
than all that Bt corn could do.


Subj: misinterpreting unique hazards
Date: Sat, 19 Aug 2000 4:36:57 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: "Bob Bowden"

Quote from Henry I. Miller:

> "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
> 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."

Henry, you are making a mistake when you misinterpret the unique
hazards statement. When the academy stated that there are no
unique hazards, they meant that there are no completely new
hazards. Plants are not going to become sentient and take over the
world. People who eat GM food are not going to be transformed
into green monsters. In fact, risks are not different than we already
face with the intercontinental movement of pests and the natural
toxins and allergens in our food supply. (But of course those risks
can be considerable; e.g. the zebra mussel, fire ant, aflatoxin, etc.).
Although GM risks are not unique, they certainly exist. We have
seen allergen transfer from Brazil nuts, unintended side effects on
monarchs, and gene flow to weedy crucifers. That is enough to
justify a regulatory system for GM crops. But even more important is
that many of our trading partners are dubious about GM crops.
Rather than waving our arms and saying "trust me", the best
approach is to have a credible regulatory system in place. The
Europeans already think we are pushy and arrogant. Arrogance and
seed contamination errors have probably set back GM acceptance
in Europe several years. I don't think decreasing regulations will
improve their attitudes nor improve our biotech business prospects.

Another quote from Henry I. Miller:

> Nor is it only academy committees that have objected to the EPA
> which circumscribes only recombinant DNA-manipulated plants for
> case-by-case review of field trials, and subjects each variety to
> 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
> the Council on Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), an
> international consortium of 36 scientific and professional groups,
> strongly reiterated these criticisms.

Miller suggests that CAST is firmly against regulation of biotech
products. However a recent report from CAST seems to contradict that view.

Applications of Biotechnology to Crops: Benefits and Risks. Issue Paper
12, December, 1999.

Here is the entire section entitled "Regulatory Systems" Risks and
opportunities associated with GM foods may be integrated into the general
food safety regulations of a country. The regulatory processes are a
matter of continuing scrutiny and debate at the national and international
levels as more products of biotechnology come close to market. A
science-based, efficient, transparent regulatory system, which enjoys the
confidence of the public and the business and farming communities, is
essential in enabling the effective use of biotechnology.

This system should be closely associated with existing regulatory
arrangements for new pharmaceuticals, foods, and agricultural and
veterinary products. National regulatory systems are complemented by
international technical guidelines. National food safety and biosafety
regulations should reflect international agreements, a society’s
acceptable risk levels, the risks associated with not introducing modern
biotechnology, as well as alternative means to achieve the desired goals.

CAST says that a regulatory system is "essential".

Bob Bowden

Department of Plant Pathology
Kansas State University