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March 30, 2000


Multiple Postings II


- http://www.agbioworld.org, http://agbioview.listbot.com

J Ralph Blanchfield
Gay Bradski wrote:

>Science does not solve problems that *SHOULD* be solved (world
>hunger), only >problems that *CAN* be solved at any given time
>(inserting a gene). This is a key to why any real progress is made
>at all, but the public does not understand this.

--- True up to a point, BUT what "should" be solved should serve, and
often does serve, as a spur to research leading to the acquisition of
the ability (the "can") to solve. Note, I wrote "a spur" not "the
spur", because of course there are other spurs (e.g. money, fame).

Regards Ralph
From: "John Mottley" Subject: negative buzz

Hi all you genetically friendly people!

Here are some terms that have been supplied by various individuals to
me to help in the propaganda 'war of words'. Sorry if I haven't
acknowledged everyone, but I can if they request it.

Biotechnology/genetically pesticide-free
Biotechnology/genetically enhanced/improved (GIP)
Biotechnology/genetically environment friendly
Plant/food biotechnology
Differently bred

Advanced hybridization or "AH" (Elliot Entis)

Genetically advantaged
Genomically enhanced
Allelically advanced
Transgenically hybridized
Developed by methods of transgenic selection (all
Arnold Sutterlin)

My favourite:

Shit free (John Hodgson)


Organic poisons
Organically destruction
Organic harm
Organic food poisoning

International Food Information Council provides lists of "words to
use" and "words to lose" when describing biotechnology to the public.
See http://ificinfo.health.org. (Kent Bradford)

Any more contributions - please send to list not to me.

With best regards,

John Mottley, University of East London.


From: "Terrance Hurley"
Subject: Counter productive quotes

Hi All,

I would like to call attention to an article I recently stumbled
across at

Though the article is obviously meant as another example of the
incredible promise of modern agricultural biotechnology, it is at the
same time subversive due to well-intentioned quotes from Professor
Maurice Ku. In particular, I call your attention to the quote:

"I would say it's very safe because what we are doing is taking maize
genes and putting them into rice. We are not taking virus genes or
bacteria genes. This process is very similar to conventional

While this quote is obviously meant to promote public confidence in
the safety of this new higher yielding transgenic rice, it does so at
the cost of implying other transgenic applications may be less safe
due to the source of the transferred gene. This quote could be easily
misconstrued by the public and further compromise trust in modern
agricultural biotechnology. Even worse, the quote will not likely
foster greater public trust in this transgenic rice because it does
not counter many of the critics' major points of contention. In
particular, the quote will not allay fears that transferring genes
between species is inherently dangerous and morally, ethically, and
religiously wrong (even though the gene used in the transformation was
taken from another plant).

I would like to urge caution in the reporting of new discoveries.
While it is important to promote safety to the public, it is
counter-productive to promote safety at the expense of other
applications of modern agricultural biotechnology.


From: "Ghislain, Marc"
Subject: RE: help with article to wired.com

Dear Gary,

The issue of poverty you raise is an important one and usually quite
controversial. On one side, the crop improvement crowd will say that
we will be 8 bilions in 25 years from now and hence they foresee a
food shortage and more hunger for the future. The solution is to
increase crop productivity. On the other side, anti-technology crowd
will say we do not need new improved varieties to solve hunger, it is
not a problem of lack of food, it is a problem of lack of income of
the poor who cann't afford to buy food.

As you can imagine things are not so simple. Hunger is not just
poverty (lack of money). Hunger exists also when crop productivity is
not high enough or worse reduced due to adverse production conditions.
There are in the Andes a lot of farmers and farmer communities that
suffer from hunger because of poor potato productivity. This is due to
many factors such as yield, pests and diseases. Hence, our experience
in working on these cropping systems is that crop productivity
increase is needed but at the same time we know that it is surely not
the only element of poverty alleviation.

I guess my point is crop produtivity increase through crop improvement
will contribute to reduce hunger but not eradicate hunger because in
some situations it is not a problem of local or temporal food shortage
it is as you said a problem of income to purchase available food.

Sincerely, Marc Ghislain, PhD International Potato Center (CIP)
Subject: RE: British Journalism

Rick and others: I, for one couldn't agree more, safe does not mean
risk-free! It is perfectly acceptable to use the English word "safe"
for many activities such as sitting at your desk, riding in an
airplane, or driving a car. All of which have varying degrees of
injury or even death!
Drew Klein
From: gromo@pronaca.com Subject: Perceptions due to semantics

My concern regarding journalists:

I and other scientists have dealt with journalists regarding GMO soy
and its use in animal feeds. All of us agreed that the way we
expressed our ideas made important differences in how journalists
perceived the issue. One question often asked in these interviews is:
Is feed coming from GMO plants dangerous? And our honest answer is,
there is "no evidence". And the usual follow up question is: That
means that there is a chance? And our honest answer is ......... of
course, who can say that there is no chance that in the future further
research may find something different.

I then find myself in this dilema: Either say "no, there is no
problem" and feel guilty as a scientist, or say "there is no evidence"
and open a door for missunderstandings and doubts.

German Romo R&D Director Pronaca Ecuador
From: "Heine J. Deelstra"
Subject: Re: ABC.Com on Labeling GM Food: Please Vote!

> An interesting question to add to this story would be to ask if
>consumers should be informed on the labels if crops were grown from
>seeds mutated to change their genetic structure through irradiation.

An editorial in Nature Biotechnology Vol 18, March 2000 entitled GMO
roundup, reports that in the UK newspaper, The Daily Telegraph a Matt
Ridley raises the specter of "atomic-GM", a form of genetic
modification which he found "so scary that the dangers posed by
ordinary GM pale by comparison" (see for more Nature Biotech.) The
article in TDT was also said to p