INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED PANEL TO DISCUSS GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS
Ithaca College -- An internationally renowned panel of experts will
discuss genetically modified foods for a two and a half-hour taping of the
Ithaca Forum television program on the Ithaca College Campus. The event
will take place in Clark
Theater in Dillingham Center at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, October 29th.
Proponents and critics of agricultural biotechnology will discuss their
views before a 200-person studio audience. The inaugural taping of Ithaca
Forum is titled: Genetically Modified Foods: A Meeting of the Minds.
The panelists are:
Dr. Vandana Shiva - Physicist, ecologist, activist and director of the
Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy.
She is a winner of the Right Livelihood Award (1993), and author of
Biopiracy: The plunder of nature and knowledge, and Stolen Harvest: The
hijacking of the global food supply.
Dr. Ralph Hardy - Former President of the Boyce Thompson Institute for
Plant Research at Cornell University. He is now president of the National
Agricultural Biotechnology Council (NABC), and board member of the AARC
Corporation, a venture capital wholly-owned corporation of USDA.
Dr. C. S. Prakash - Professor of Plant Molecular Genetics and Director of
Center for Plant Biotechnology Research at Tuskegee University. He serves
on the USDA Agricultural Biotechnology Advisory Committee. Founder of
AgBio World which has received endorsements from more than 2,500
scientists from across the world for his declaration in support of
Dr. Philip Regal - Professor of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, College
of Biological Sciences, the University of Minnesota. He is an expert on
the scientific technicalities of evaluating the biology of and potential
risks from recombinant DNA organisms.
Tony Del Plato - Coordinator of the Safe Food Campaign/Organic Consumers
Association in Ithaca. A shareholder in the Moosewood Restaurant, he is
also a chef and co-author of numerous Moosewood vegetarian cookbooks.
Dr. Anatole Krattiger - International consultant with bioDevelopments LLC
and is active in the area of ag-biotechnology transfer to developing
countries. Until recently, he was Executive Director of ISAAA
(International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications);
an international nonprofit organization with centers in Africa, Southeast
Asia, Europe, and North America.
The Ithaca Forum television program was created to promote and foster
deliberative discussion of critical issues in the public sphere. Anthony
Tenczar, Assistant Professor in the Ithaca College Television-Radio
Department, created the Ithaca Forum concept. Genetically Modified Foods:
A Meeting of the Minds is co-produced by Jill Swenson, Associate Professor
in the Department of TV-Radio and Tenczar. The program is a production of
the faculty, students and staff of the Park School of Communications at
The event is free and open to the public. To assure seating, advance
tickets will be available at the Dean's Office of the Park School of
Communications at Ithaca College, the Moosewood Restaurant and the NABC
office at the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University beginning
October 23rd. Some tickets will be available at the door on October 29th,
but the event will begin promptly at 2:30 p.m.
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Jill Dianne Swenson, Ph.D. Associate Professor Dept. of TV-Radio Park
School of Communications Ithaca College Ithaca, NY 14850
607-274-3632 FAX: 607/274-7041
Subject: Seeking input
I am associate editor with Science & Spirit magazine, a bi-monthly journal
dedicated to exploring the intersection of science and religion. We
discuss scientific and theological research in terms of how it affects our
readers’ everyday lives. Right now we’re compiling information for a
special section on agbiotechnology and we would like to hear your views,
whether pro or con.
Please email me you name, telephone number or email address, and a brief
history of yourself. Include any questions you may have about the magazine
and the article’s focus and I’ll try to answer
them as quickly as possible.
Thank you in advance for sharing your views.
Colleen Cook, associate editor, Science & Spirit
From: "John Mottley"
Subject: organic junk food
Today I was interviewed by a BBC radio program concerning
processed organic food products. This is about to take off in a big
way in major supermarkets in the UK. One well-known chain has
an organic 'lemonade' drink containing only 1 ingredient that is
organic, but still qualifies as 'organic' and will carry the UK Soil
Association logo. This ingredient is sugar. It is added at a much
higher level than non-organic lemonade. This supermrket chain,
bye the way, declined to send a representative along to the
interview for comments. Other products to be introduced soon, also
with the Soil Association label, is 'organic' pizza and toffee.
This is organic food gone mad, targetted at mothers and children.
My fear is that busy mothers who want to provide the best for their
children will be duped into thinking that a junk organic processed
product is healthier than a fresh conventional portion of fruit or
vegetable. The UK Soil Association has a lot to answer for if it is
instrumental in ruining our children's health. If Greenpeace can get
away with ruining crops because it was deemed 'in the public's
interest' then doesn't the same apply to organic produce?
With best regards,
John Mottley, University of East London.
('We are born naked, wet, and hungry.Then things get worse').
From: "Tammisola Jussi"
Subject: Organic allergenicity
I continue with a couple of potential hazards of "organic" and "natural"
1) One of the most common immediate harms with "natural" medicines are
allergic and dermatological symptoms. My references are unfortunately
Finnish medical journals (in Finnish) (e.g. Hyvarinen H. Luonnon
laakekaapilla. Kotilaakari 10/2000). However, the problem is well known
and current articles should be readily found in respected international
2) Dr. Soili Makinen-Kiljunen from the Allergy Hospital of Helsinki
University writes (in Finnish) that organic products are not hypoallergic
but contain just the same protein allergens as conventional ones.
Therefore, these should be considered with equal caution. However, the
amount (content, number?) of
allergens may be greater in organic plants than in comparable conventional
ones, because due to inadequate control of pests and diseases in organic
production the plant is exposed to more injuries and consequently more
"protection compounds" are formed, she writes. Many proteins dealing with
such self-protection of plants have, according to the article, proved
allergenic. (Makinen-Kiljunen S (2000). "Luomu" ei tarkoita
allergeenitonta. Allergia & Ashtma 4/2000).
With best regards,
Jussi Tammisola, DrSc(Agr&For) Helsinki, Finland
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES CAN'T WAIT AND SEE
Recent world conferences on agricultural biotechnology have made it
unmistakably clear that if governments foil the growth of this technology,
mankind will be denied solutions to a host of problems that plague many
nations, particularly in the developing world. The biotechnology debate in
Europe is dominated by cultural and ethical issues, potential food and
environmental safety questions and an underlying skepticism with regard to
the role of multinational corporations and "industrialized" agriculture.
The case for biotechnology in developing countries can be made much more
easily: It is needs-based. Rich countries may engage in lengthy disputes
about real or imagined risks. We suggest that is largely a luxury debate.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world needs to focus on a rigorous risk-benefit
analysis. From the perspective of many developing and newly industrialized
countries, agricultural biotechnology's benefits are very real and
urgently needed today and indispensable tomorrow.
The developing world cannot afford to let Europe's homemade problems
negatively impact the future growth in our countries. In South Africa,
small-scale farming still is the norm rather than the exception. Field
trials with genetically modified crops have been taking place since the
mid-1990s, and commercial planting of crops with insect-resistant and
herbicide-tolerant traits started in 1998. The results are extremely
encouraging. The benefits are tremendous, especially in small-scale
farming. Studies in the Makatini Flats in the KwaZulu-Natal province in
1998 showed a 20% yield increase in cotton through the use of
insect-resistant, genetically modified cotton seed. Preliminary results
from the 1999 growing season even suggest a twofold yield increase in this
area. In the cases of some commercial farmers, operators were able to
forgo pesticide spraying completely. We also observed an increase in
beneficial insects in and around the fields planted with "Bt" cotton.
These field results stand in marked contrast to the fears in some
industrialized countries that such crops might endanger "non-target"
insects, such as the monarch butterfly in the United States. Biotechnology
offers farmers and consumers in South Africa more than just higher yields
and pesticide-free crops. The nation's geography and climate regularly
bring drought to large areas that otherwise could produce substantial farm
crops. Drought-tolerant seed research is making tremendous progress in
South African laboratories, promising improved production and economic
Half-way around the world, China has more than 20% of the world's
population and only 7% of the world's arable land. With the still-rapid
increase of its population and changing eating habits, as well as an
ongoing loss of cultivable land, food security is an imminent concern.
China turned to biotechnology to hit this concern head-on, beginning in
the mid-'80s. More than 100 laboratories across the country have been
involved in the effort. In 1997, China started to commercialize transgenic
crops, most of them with traits such as insect and virus resistances.
Roughly 1 million acres of transgenic crops were planted, making China one
of the world's top three countries growing transgenic crops. As Europe
hems and haws, China's research effort is moving forward at a brisk pace.
Scientists are now, or will be, focusing on bacterial, fungus and virus
resistance, salt and drought tolerance, nutritional enrichment and quality
improvement. Additionally, even more advanced applications,such as
"bio-pharming" for edible oral vaccines and recombinant pharmaceuticals,
are in the picture. Given the socioeconomic realities and needs in
countries like South Africa and China, it is almost trivial to discuss
whether they should use a technology that already has shown its benefits
to their populations. These countries cannot afford to limit themselves to
the industrialized world's narrow interpretation of risk assessment.
Likewise, they cannot afford to allow the Western debate to slow
developing countries' access to already existing and expected future
benefits of biotechnology.
Jennifer A. Thomson, Ph.D.
Chair of the Department of Microbiology, University of Cape Town, South
Greenpeace gets in bed with its foes
Jason Nisse and Louise Jury, The Independent (UK) October 15, 2000
GREENPEACE has struck a controversial alliance with the marketing services
group run by Lord Bell, adviser to Monsanto , British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL)
and General Pinochet, among others.
In the ground-breaking deal, the environmental lobby group is receiving
free advertising and marketing from HHCL, the advertising arm of Lord
Bell's Chime Communications. In exchange it will give free environmental
audits to HHCL's clients, which include Texaco, Tango and Egg.
But the deal may go further. Rupert Howell, founder of HHCL and chief
executive of Chime, said he was talking to Greenpeace's UK boss, Lord
Melchett, about extending the relationship to other parts of Chime. These
include Bell Pottinger, which works for two leading targets of
environmentalists - GM crops maker Monsanto and BNFL, the nuclear
reprocessing group. "Greenpeace said they would be fascinated to give
advice to Monsanto ," said Mr Howell.
John Sauven, campaigns director of Greenpeace, confirmed it would be
willing to do business with Monsanto , and revealed that the two arch
enemies had already struck one deal, when a Monsanto subsidiary made a
biodegradable credit card for Greenpeace.
He denied Greenpeace was being used to legitimise companies that were only
paying lip service to green issues. "We worked with BP but still felt free
to criticise its exploration for oil in the Arctic."
The thawing of relations between green lobby groups and industry is even
reaching Friends of the Earth. It is in talks with the international
advertising group D'Arcy, which works for Mars and Laura Ashley among
others, about a similar deal. "We've been happy to do it because we've
been able to challenge the com- panies, and the creative people in
particular, over the extent to which they are shapers of public opinion
rather than reflectors," said Tony Juniper, policy and campaigns director
of Friends of the Earth. "The advertising agency is a very strong force in
promoting the throw- away consumer society which is at the heart of our
But Mr Juniper warned of the risk of environmentalists being used to
legitimise big business practices. One company lauded by Friends of the
Earth for having a relatively good record on hardwood timber had tried to
capitalise on the endorsement misleadingly.
However, he added: "The things we are trying to do are hard enough without
cutting out the opportunities to create change in places where we think it
can happen. Greenpeace is a grown-up organisation that will use this
relation- ship to advance its agenda.
"But for a company like Texaco, the challenge is not so much talking about
giving renewable oil cans or the company recycling, but to get out of
fossil fuels which is its core business. That's the scale of the challenge
they have to face up to and they are not going to face up to it by giving
themselves a gloss by aligning themselves with green organisations."
BIO: EPA REPORT FINDS BIOTECH CROPS HAVE LITTLE IMPACT ON MONARCH
WASHINGTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reaffirmed
Thursday that a review of all available scientific information indicates
that monarch butterflies are at very little risk from Bacillus
thuringiensis (Bt) corn products, contrary to widely published reports.
EPA further found that "In fact, some authors are predicting that the
widespread cultivation of Bt crops may have huge benefits for monarch
Titled "Bt Plant-Pesticides Biopesticides Registration Action Document,"
the effort represents a preliminary draft risk assessment to evaluate the
health, safety and environmental risks, as well as benefits of Bt corn,
cotton and potato plants. This comprehensive scientific assessment is
under review October 18-20 by a peer review with the EPA's Scientific
Advisory Panel on the scientific issues in connection with this
assessment. According to the EPA, after incorporating peer review and
public comments, the agency will use this information to reach decisions
regarding renewal of registrations for several Bt products and development
of any necessary mitigation measures, if needed.
"This rigorous review of the vast array of scientific information about
foods and crops improved through biotechnology refutes once again the
claims of anti-biotechnology critics," said Dr. Val Giddings, vice
president for food and agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry
Organization (BIO). "The assessment confirms the findings of EPA and
numerous other regulatory agencies and scientific bodies around the world
that crops and food produced through biotechnology pose no adverse health
or environmental problems,"(2) he added.
The report notes that "significant benefits accrue to growers, the public,
and the environment from the availability and use of certain Bt plant-
pesticides," adding that direct benefits to growers in 1999 likely
exceeded $100 million (3).
BIO represents more than 900 biotechnology companies, academic
institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all
50 U.S. states and more than 27 other nations. BIO members are involved in
the research and development of health care, agricultural industrial and
environmental biotechnology products.
To review the report in its entirety go to:
http://www.epa.gov/scipoly/sap/ and scroll to the following: October
18-20, 2000: Issues pertaining to the Bt plant pesticides Risk and Benefit
/Web site: http://www.bio.org