I share Dan Manternach's frustration and dismay over this development.
However, I think the danger goes well beyond destruction of test plots of
GM material. Why couldn't GM opponents use exactly the same argument to
defend destruction of approved, commercial plantings of GMO corn, cotton,
soy, etc.? After all, if anything, the risk to neighbouring non-GM farm
fields and "wild nature" must be considerably greater from open-planted
GMO maize, soy or canola than from a carefully controlled, monitored and
isolated test field. This widens the scope for legally-defensible
vandalism to many millions of acres in the US and Canada. Somehow, I
don't think that American farmers would sit idly by while some zealots
hacked down their crops.
Subj: Re: AGBIOVIEW: UK Legalizes Sabotage
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2000 9:10:53 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Barry Palevitz
You can find the EPA preliminary report on the safety of Bt crops issued
this week at:www.epa.gov/scipoly/sap/
Scroll down past the first meeting schedule to the Bt committee report,
then click on the hotlinks.
Date: Sep 22 2000 03:08:42 EDT
From: Ted "Fjällman"
Subject: Lack of Organisation in Pro-Biotech
I am a doctorate student at the beginning of my scientific career in
Gothenburg, Sweden.After following AgBioView for about two months now, it
strikes me that there seems to be a lack of organisation on the
Pro-Biotech side (or a lack of publicity). Whether you are pro or con (or
undecided), if you are sincere about the truth, and you are in the
position to change the current one-sidedness, I would be one of many young
scientists more able to support an ongoingdebate actively.
Subj: Re: AGBIOVIEW: GM Soy, Starlink question, Biosafety Data
Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 5:48:34 PM Eastern Daylight Time
In a message dated 9/21/00 3:12:42 PM Central Daylight Time,
<< By planting soybeans tolerant to glyphosate, farmers are able
toimplement low- or no-till farming, a practice that minimises soil
erosion and run-off. It was estimated that ca 37 million tons of topsoil
will have been preserved by 2020." "Reduced working of the soil saves 33
litres of fuel per hectare, translating into a reduction of 400 000 tons
of carbon entering the atmosphere as carbon dioxide over the period to
I always find it amusing that anti-GM forces would rather discuss
'potential' environmental harms of GM technology rather than the real
environmental benefits of reduced petroleum usage, reduced synthetic
chemical usage, reduced soil erosion (which will be of critical concern
later), and an increase in arrable land (which helps spread out
agricultural production). There is an aweful lot of potential
environmental damage that GM crops unquestionably reduce. To give all
this up for some yet to be documented potential future harm. Amazing!
Now, I am no scientist, but if a harm arose from GM crops such as
allergies, mutant crops, damage to the ecosystem. . . wouldn't we be able
to quickly put the clamps on GM production without any long term residual
environmental effect (again, I ask that you assume that the worst that the
opponents of GM predict comes true, well those that aren't completely
insanely based). Thus, to get rid of a known set of benefits for a harm
that we could quickly squash or curtail seems positively absurd. Perhaps
the best way to combat the public relations myth is to teach people how
easy it would be to counteract any problem with GM plants as they develop
and can be documented scientifically and until such time why not enjoy the
obvious benefits? The question is: Can you really put the cat back in
the bag (assume that a problem such as allergies or mutant crops that
resist chemicals arise)?
Subj: Re: AGBIOVIEW: Taco Terrorists, EPA Report, False attacks
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2000 11:56:53 AM Eastern Daylight Time
In a message dated 9/22/00 10:30:25 AM Central Daylight Time,
AgBioViewemail@example.com writes:<< Note particularly the "outside lab"
far better than to have "insiders" provide all the info?
In a message dated 9/22/00 10:25:37 AM Central Daylight Time,
<< I wish I was accused of being pro-GM because of my beliefs, rather
than my supposed greed. >>
I am happy at last to see an admission that pro-GM advocates most
certainly do labor under a set of beliefs. JH
Date: Sep 21 2000 16:13:34 EDT
From: Mary Ellen Jones
Subject: Gore means stronger EPA
As I was reading an editorial in this morning's Wall Street Journal ("The
Gore Market" by James Glassman, which proposed that the current
stagnationin the DOW and Nasdaq is due to fear that "Al Gore could win and
drag in aDemocratic Congress"), it occurred to me that this particular
electionpresents Land Grant Ag biotech researchers with a dilemma.
Typicallyliberal academics would probably want a Democrat in the White
Housebecause, aside from the Democrats' reputation for throwing money
ateducation with both hands, the next president will likely be choosing
threenew Supreme Court Justices. Important social issues aside, the
SupremeCourt will also likely be dealing with other issues important to
biotech,such as patenting of life, patient privacy, and anti-trust cases.
While he was never opposed to biotech per se, Al Gore has as much
asdeclared war on big business (ex. pharmaceuticals and tobacco) and he
hastraditionally had very, very tight connections with the EPA, which he
hasalways promoted as the best place to put regulation of
biotechnology.Still recovering from the devastating budget cuts it
suffered under Reaganand Bush, EPA does not exactly have a reputation for
having a large staffof the best and brightest molecular biologists. I
predict that if Gore winsthe election we can almost be guaranteed an EPA
with more formidable powerthan we have ever seen, and every Land Grant
University will be forced toconsider the added costs and delays of dealing
with inevitable new EPApolicies regarding biotech research. I hope I'm
wrong, but how would LGUshandle it if I'm right?
Mary Ellen Jones, Ph.D.Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
PPWS Glade Rd. Research FacilityBlacksburg, Virginia
Union-Tribune (San Diego)
September 20, 2000
Foes of biotech vandalize UCSD field station, kill unaltered plants
Union-Tribune (San Diego)
September 20, 2000
Vandals who raided a facility at UC San Diego in a protest against
genetically engineered crops dealt their worst blows to basic plant
biology, researchers say.
The protesters trampled experimental maize, snapped sorghum stalks and
ruined oak seedlings at the university's Biology Field Station the night
of Aug. 25 in the underground movement's first ever attack in San Diego
County. But scientists whose work was ruined said very few of the plants
contained lab-altered DNA.
"It's a cowardly act," said Robert Schmidt, a UCSD biology professor. "The
real crime of it is that so much damage was done to research that they
know nothing about. Grad students and post-doc (researchers) lost a lot of
Bissrat Ghebru, a visiting scientist from Eritrea, was studying genetic
diversity in sorghum but her plants are now dead. Her work was to be one
step in a long-term effort to improve growing techniques for an important
crop in her home country.
Ghebru said she was studying the plants with molecular biology techniques
unavailable back home. "They are not genetically modified . They came
directly from farmers' fields."
The incident was kept quiet until protesters, calling themselves Los Ninos
del Maiz (Children of the Corn), bragged about it on an Internet Web site,
"Genetix Alert Press Office."
The university hired a night watchman and is considering other security
steps in response to the incident in an isolated corner of campus at a
facility originally protected by little more than a gate and a chain-link
The protesters spray-painted a variety of slogans in English and Spanish,
including "No GE!" and "Te estamos vigilando" ("We are watching you").
In a communique posted on the Internet, the protesters assailed a "loss of
biodiversity on the Earth" that it said is exemplified by research on
genetically altered, or transgenic, maize.
Schmidt said the group destroyed only a small amount of transgenic maize
and rice in the greenhouses. These "first generation" crops in which
foreign DNA has been introduced as a way of learning how certain genes
work will have to be re-engineered from scratch, he said, a process that
will take six months to a year.
Transgenics is used to gain insights into how cells function and how
plants grow and develop, Schmidt said.
Much of the other work at the UCSD station, including controlled
pollination of maize in an outdoor field, is not much different from what
farmers have been doing for centuries, he said.
Wayne Hewitt, a nursery technician at the UCSD field station, said the
vandalism was haphazard, destroying native plants and succulents grown for
use in classrooms.
Researchers applying modern biotechnology to food and crops in recent
years have faced a rising tide of vandalism around the world by those
opposed to the work or its corporate sponsorship.
Research facilities belonging to UC Berkeley and UC Davis were the subject
of five assaults in 1999, said Peggy G. Lemaux, cooperative extension
specialist for the University of California system. At an "eco-terrorism"
conference in January, she said, UC officials agreed they could not allow
the threat of criminal acts to disrupt research.
In the communique posted on its Web site the group said "UCSD is only 45
minutes from the Mexican border so it shouldn't be hard to understand why
we targeted GE research on maize.
"Maize was traditionally grown in Mexico by local farmers who knew that it
yielded better, more reliable crops if beans and squash vines were
interplanted with it. Only 20 percent of local maize varieties reported in
Mexico in 1930 are still known due to genetic erosion caused by hybrid and