For those of you who feel - as I do - that the organic industry has
created a lot of consumer fear for the sole purpose of marketing its
products, here's a chance to call one of organic's own on the carpet. Ask
her about fear marketing, or about Fenton Communications (a public
relations firm), which is behind much of the anti-GM scares the organic
industry promotes. (Fenton is also responsible for the alar scare a
number of years ago, as well as the fear campaign against rbST.)
"The best thing about technology," says Maria Rodale, creator and editor
of Organic Style magazine, "is that it has enabled all of us to feel
closer together, though we may live far apart." On Wednesday, September 20
at 9 p.m. (EST), you can meet and chat about all things organic with
Maria, whose mission is to redefine what "organic" means for the 21st
Century. Please come to join the fun, ask questions and share your
insights, passions and dreams. All from the comfort of your own home.
To chat with Maria on Wednesday (TODAY), go to:
Date: Sep 19 2000 17:14:35 EDT
From: Reynaldo Dela Cruz
Subject: FW: Senate Comm.on Agri. & Food Report on GMO field testing
ATTN: Dr. Prakash,
Please find below some interesting development in the Philippines
concerning legislations that tend to restrict GMO activities.
Thanks and Regards.
Rey de la Cruz
From: "BARIA, ARTHUR R [AG/5330]"
Subject: FW: Senate Comm.on Agri. & Food Report on GMO field testing
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2000 11:54:12 +0200
FYI. rgds, Art
Subject: Senate Comm.on Agri. & Food Report on GMO field testing
The Senate Comm.on Agriculture and Food Chaired by Sen.Sergio Osmena
submitted their report on the Privilege Speech of Sen. Pimentel taking into
consideration Resolution No. 282 (Honasan) and 297 (Jaworski).
It says that "the proposed moratorium on activities related to
and GMOs would in effect stifle the impetus of human innovation and
inventiveness and exclude the Philippines from the tide of technological
advances now prevalent elsewhere in the world."
1. The strengthening of the Charter of the NCBP (or amend EO No. 430) with
a view to further strengthen its powers, such as in the planned release and
commercialization of the products of modern biotechnology.
2. The enactment of a law prescribing penalties for the unauthorized use,
introduction, or release of GMOs and other materials according to the
mandate of the NCBP.
3. Making the NCBP a permanent office that would concentrate on its
regulatory functions, and leave advocacy work to appropriate agencies. At
present, NCBP does not even have full-time staff.
4. Information dissemination should be conducted by appropriate agencies,
in coordination with local government units, on modern biotechnology to
enable farmers and consumers to make intelligent decisions regarding their
The report was signed by the following Senators:
Chairman : Sergio Osmena III
VChairmen : Rodolfo Biazon & Nikki Coseteng
Members : Robert Barbers, Juan Flavier, Robert Jaworski, Loren
Legarda-Leviste, Ramon Magsaysay Jr., (John Osmena was
not available to sign)
Ex-Officio Members : Blas Ople, Francisco Tatad, Teofisto Guingona
(Franklin Drilon was not available to sign)
Below is summary published in Business World, Sept. 15 - 16, 2000 Economy
Section, Norman P. Aquino
SENATE FARM COMMITTEE NIXES MORATORIUM ON BIOTECHNOLOGY
The Senate agriculture committee has thumbed down a proposed ban on
genetically modified organisms (GMO) as it ruled the benefits from genetic
engineering are greater than the risks.
In a 13-page report, the Senate body specifically dismissed public
opposition to field testing of Bt corn in General Santos City, which it
claimed is a relatively safe exercise.
Eleven senators led by committee chairman Sergio R. Osmena III signed the
"The proposed moratorium, if implemented, would prevent Philippine farmers
and consumers from sharing in the benefits of biotechnology, even as many
the Philippines' neighbors are already actively involved in such work," the
It also pointed out that the ban would deprive farmers of a valuable
alternative to continued farm chemical use, which could be harmful to human
health and the environment.
"A moratorium on biotechnology research would also deny consumers,
especially the poor, access to cheaper, better quality and more nutritious
foods," the committee said.
Biotechnology allows the incorporation of novel genes in plants that make
them more resistant to drought, salt stresses, toxic metals, pests and
Bt corn contains a gene from the soil-based bacterium bacillus
(Bt) which makes it pest-resistant. The gene allows it to produce its own
pesticide against the corn borer pest.
Local groups are lobbying against the experiments since the natural
insecticide in Bt corn allegedly poses health hazards. Moreover, the
altered genes allegedly wreak havoc on the environment.
Bt plants including Bt corn were first developed in the US in the early
1980s and were commercialized in 1996, after more than 10 years of
scientific study and evaluation.
Global production of Bt corn in 1999 covered 7.5 million hectares, 19% of
total world corn output.
In its report, the agriculture committee cited previous field trials of Bt
corn, where it was supposedly shown that the GMO is harmless to both humans
and the environment.
Specifically, the Bt gene produces an insect-specific toxin that does not
harm humans in any way.
"Several studies show that this Bt toxin is not toxic to animals and does
not cause allergic reactions in humans," the report said.
Moreover, the Bt corn variety cannot transfer an antibiotic-resistant gene
since it does not contain such gene.
The Senate body further noted that gene transfer to wild relatives is
since the only corn relative in the country is coix lachyryma, which does
not hybridize with corn even by hand pollination.
Moreover, pollen from field trials with Bt corn cannot spread since the
flowers or tassels that bear the pollen are usually cut off.
Pursuing the issue further, the Senate committee said the benefits of
biotechnology are becoming more obvious in the country's leading research
The Philippine Rice Institute, for example, developed a genetically
rice variety that withstands bacterial blight, one of the major rice
The Philippine Coconut Authority is also part of an international effort to
map the coconut genome. It has developed the technology for detecting the
dreaded cadang-cadang virus in coconuts.
Likewise, the Bureau of Plant Industry uses biotechnology to detect viruses
in banana to assure farmers of clean planting materials.
"Worldwide, modern biotechnology is acknowledged as the cutting-edge tool
which developing countries could be enabled to compete squarely with
developed countries," the committee said.
Still, the Senate body wants the charter of the National Committee on
Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) strengthened given the planned release
and commercialization of modern biotechnology products.
The committee also sought the enactment of a law penalizing the
use or release of GMOs.
Subj: Reply: AGBIOVIEW: Greenpeace Demands Food Removal from Stores;
Inaccurate Remarks about McClintock
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2000 3:12:15 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Gurumurti Natarajan
> Subj: Re: junk science??
> From: David Tribe To:
> email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
> Neo-Vitalism versus Reality:
> >On 14 Sep 2000, at 4:32, David Tribe wrote:
> >>Well what specifically is this old research that points to
> functions that the establisment have supposedly ignored. Why not tell us
> what it >>is?
> wytze replied
I can fully appreciate this seeming dichotomy between whether or not
McClintock was understood, given her due or whether she was ahead of her
times and so on.
I like to share with you a ring side perspective of the rage that was
transposable elements during the era both before and after the conferment
of the Nobel on McClintock for her unique discovery. Several other unsung
heroes belong to this genre and the names of Professor Peter A Peterson
and Professor JRS Fincham come to mind.
An excerpt from my Ph D dissertation (The En Transposable System of Maize :
Mutable Allele bz-m 826301 of the bz Locus; Iowa state University, Ames,
Iowa,pages 165-169; 1987) and I copy here parts of Chapter 5.5 from that
work: Transposable Elements in The Scheme of Things : A Contemplation
According to one author, Keller, the study of plant transposable elements
today graduated out of the draconian days of ignorance, disbelief and even
disdainful contempt that it first met (Keller, 1983) soon after its
initial discovery by Barbara McClintock in 1946. Some of the uncharitable
response meted out to the then burgeoning facet of genetics emanated, in
part, because "McClintock was ahead of her times": even the concept of DNA
as the hereditary material had not gained currency, let alone acceptance,
and to a certain degree McClintock's own personality that precluded her
from telling her story in a convincing manner with dogged pursuit to an
unbelieving audience. It was not until Brink and Peterson joined forces
in the 1950s by not only elucidating the complex mechanisms involved with
the mystiques of transposable elements but also confirming and discovering
aspects anew and independently of this phenomenon and educating their
peers one step at a time, in small doses, that this new branch of science
gained a modicum of respect among the scientific community (Fincham,
1983). The onset of modern
methods in biochemistry that included techniques as digesting genomic DNA
restriction endonucleases and adaptations of electrophoretic techniques
transferred fragments of DNA from an agarose gel onto a firmer
base has led to the vindication of the molecular prophesies made through
genetic research. The study of transposons which was once fashionable to
lampooned at (Keller, 1983) has now been transformed into a band-wagon for
many an investigator that has set his eye on fame and/or fortune......."
"It is only fair to indicate here that some reputable scholars of genetics
have taken exception to Keller's (Keller, 1983) viewpoint (see Fincham,
Laughnan, 1984) of McClintock being 'initially consigned to obscurity' and
to have been 'rehabilitated only fifteen or twenty years later after
molecular evidence fortransposable sequences in bacteria had become
indisputable" (Fincham, 1983). In fact, Laughnan (1984) believes that
McClintock's initial work and publications on this phenomenon were both
understood and appreciated by maize geneticists from the beginning."
Fincham, J. R. S. 1983. Genetics at first site. Nature 304:377-378.
Keller, E. F. 1983. A feeling for the organism. The life and work of
McClintock. Freeman, San Francisco.
Laughnan, J. R. 1984. A career in genetics. Science 223:482-283.
Dr. Gurumurti Natarajan