>>>"Genetic engineering is not a solution to world hunger." CUSO Regional
Director Cindy Moriarty stated. "Lack of food is not the underlying cause
of world hunger. It is lack of money to buy food, lack of access to land
or water to grow food, inequitable food...<<<<<
These folks are both right and wrong. All of these contributors to
hunger are valid. It is also true, however, that many food-deficit
countries have the land base to produce a lot more than they currently
Examples in the FAO report for cassava in Ghana and Nigeria show that
improved technology CAN contribute to improved ability to source food
A lot of the recent GE improvements have been done for first-world
producers; that is nothing new-- it is also true of most conventional
plant breeding work. 20
However, a significant amount of work is also being done on sweet potato,
cassava, rice and any number of other typical "third world" crops by
non-commercial research organizations (like the CGIAR institutions) and
government-funded, developing-world research labs.20
GE is certainly not THE solution to world hunger, but it is a sort of
Swiss Army knife technology for crop improvement. I really resent the
assumption that GE is not a sustainable technology. The same folks that
claim this will, with the next breath, claim it is dangerous because it
self-replicating. That latter characteristic is probably the single most
important element of sustainability! Generally speaking, it might be
argued that the more human attention and input required on an ongoing
basis, the less sustainable a technology is; where does this leave
and other, similar, crop production techniques/philosophies that demand
intensive labour and/or mechanical inputs?
Subj: Re: Biotech won't feed the world
From: Rick Roush
>From: Susan Smith
>Subject: Oxfam, Greenpeace: Biotech won't feed the world
> Did anyone see the information below? Wondering what kind of response
>pro side has to this.
I think the ICCS Statement-World Food Day, posted on the same day, largely
answers the question. "Biotechnology is not the solution to the world's
hunger problems, but it could be a vital resource." At least
will contribute the solutions. We have known for 30 years at least that
real problems are, but are no closer to solving them.
However, I feel that the statement from the three Canadian organisations
distracts the debate from the main accomplishment of GM crops to date:
reducing the use of more persistent and more toxic pesticides, with
improvements to the environment and farm worker safety. I continue to be
amazed that Greenpeace won't see that.
Subj: Salmonella and molting in chickens
From: Alex Avery
Tom DeGregori wrote:
> If it is a myth that starving chickens to increase egg production is the
>cause of salmonella in the eggs, it ought to be publicly reputiated as
>actions (such as the recent agreement with McDonalds) are being based
>this "belief." If it is true, we all ought to know about it. Our position
>is so strong that we can tolerate the truth even on those rare occasions
>where it helps the other side.
I just asked a colleague at the United Egg Producers and this was his
>Thank you for your excellent presentation at our annual meeting.
>Now to answer you about feed withdrawal (induced molting) and food
>Two animal rights groups (United Poultry Concerns and the Association of
>Veterinarians for Animal Rights) have tried to make the case that molting
>increase public health risk by increasing SE in hens. As a side note,
>AVAR organization only has a very small number of veterinarians as
>They have tried to communicate that USDA/FSIS and Dr. Peter Holt at the
>USDA/ARS Lab have confirmed this. In both cases this is not the truth.
>We still do not know for sure if molting increases SE except under
>laboratories conditions. However, a recent NAHMS report indicates that
>field studies indicated that while hens are in the molt the likelehood
>increases. If this is the case it would be at a time when the hens are
>producing eggs. Even if eggs were being produced at the time these eggs
>being shipped to egg breakers for pasteurization. Again if SE is more
>likely at that time we have a vaccine that can be used.
>The animal rights groups have tried to use this as a scare tatic and have
>written letters to all the major restaurant chains. Their real mission
>to stop using animals for agricultural purposes.
>Hope I have helped.
More scare tactics from the professional fear mongers.
Alex Avery, Hudson Institute
OPPOSING BIOTECHNOLOGY HELPS FRENCH ECONOMY
The Morning Call (Allentown) August 6, 2000
By H. Douglas Walker
I may have a possible explanation for the French government blocking any
meaningful development and use of biotechnology in regards to agriculture
within their country. The issue is not over safety or over any potential
danger with the genetically modified seeds. The issues are economical as
well as political. There is presently a worldwide surplus in grain. Prices
for corn, soybeans and wheat are at almost historic lows. Farmers across
world are receiving lower prices for their grain crops, because of this
surplus, than they did 30 or 40 years ago. In most cases these prices are
below the farmer's cost of production.
Unlike the United States, France subsidizes its farmers. This means the
French government pays the difference in price between what the farmers
receive for their crops and the price the grain should be if the world did
not have an overabundance of grain. By paying the difference in price,
France keeps their farmers in business. What the French government fears is
not the new technology but the potentially adverse effects of this new
technology on the agriculture in France. There is the potential for a
massive increase in the harvest and the yields per acre that the farmers
could receive from their crops by using these new biotech seeds. The
increased yields, without an increase in demand for these grains, could
depress the grain prices even more than they are today. If grain prices
become even more depressed, France, as well as the other Western European
nations that subsidized their farmers, could no longer do so. If these
governments tried to continue to subsidize their farmers, it could bankrupt
The social unrest caused by any large-scale farm bankruptcies within their
agricultural communities, as well as the potential political repercussions
within France resulting from these bankruptcies, could be more than the
French government is willing to pay. By keeping the biotech seeds out of
France, the French government believes that they are reducing the potential
for creating even higher grain yields within Europe but even lower grain
prices for their farmers.
The writer, H. Douglas Walker, is president of Northampton County Seed Co.
Inc. in Lower Nazareth Township, Pennsylvania.
Here's snippet of a report from Argentina by Mae-Wan Ho. Mae-Wan should
know that there has not been any reduction in GM Crop acerage in the U. S
nor has there been any 'collapse of the international market' ; in fact
according to ISAAA.org, the global acerage increased from 40 million Ha in
1999 to 43 Million Ha in 2000.
Argentina Cools to GM Crops
Mae-Wan Ho reports on a week in Buenos Aires (Sept 24 - 1 Oct, 2000)
"On the last day of my sojourn in Buenos Aires, we went to San Andres de
Giles in the suburbs. There, I met Juan Carlos, a 'small' farmer with 500
hectares. He has indeed planted GM soya and found it
more profitable compared with non GM soya. It was not because GM seeds were
less expensive, for they cost more; nor because GM soya yielded more,
because it actually yielded less (confirming University-based studies done
in the US). The reason it worked for Juan Carlos was because he had
previously used three different expensive herbicides with non GM soya, and
is only using one with the GM soya, Roundup, which Monsanto is selling
cheap. Another reason is that farmers in Argentina have been allowed to
the GM seeds, while farmers elsewhere are prevented from doing so under the
threat of draconian legal action from the company.
Juan Carlos was taken aback when I told him that, as a result of world-wide
resistance to GMOs and the collapse of the international market, the United
States has drastically reduced planting of GM crops in the past year. "Be
sure to tell people about that", he said to me quietly before we headed to
the village cinema for a conference with farmers and farming
(Source: AGNET; Interview with Richard Jefferson of CAMBIA)
SEEDS OF DISSENT October 21, 2000
New Scientist, Interview
This interview begins by asking, is the party over for genetically modified
crops? Some scientists are afraid it might be. But molecular biologist
Richard Jefferson thinks the GM revolution is only just warming up.
Jefferson heads CAMBIA, a non-profit plant biotechnology research centre
Thirteen years after conducting the world's first release of a transgenic
food crop, Jefferson, 44, is turning conventional ideas about plant
on their head. For instance, he says you can get top-quality GM crops
without introducing foreign genes into plants. Or, wait for it, that
sequencing genes of plants like rice or maize is a
waste of time.
Ehsan Masood spoke to the man who's challenging researchers to think
You launched CAMBIA a decade ago promising to do science differently.
What's the difference between CAMBIA's approach to research and that
at any other biotech lab?
There's a tendency in science to ignore the development of methods and
make it secondary to the elite act of gathering knowledge. Even a cursory
inspection of the history of science will show that the vast majority of
scientists exhibit a lemming-like tendency—which I'm told that lemmings
do not have—to define problems in terms of what they can solve, not what
needs to be solved. CAMBIA is there to provide an example of what's
possible. We're there to invent, and to provide the disenfranchised with
tools and technologies they themselves help to design. It's basically what
we call "democratising innovation".
Fair enough, but how would you want to do things differently?
The classic example that I've been harping on about for years is
apomixis, or obtaining seeds without sex. Apomixis is the natural ability
many plants—dandelions, blackberries, you name it—to reproduce
asexually, but through the seed. If a crop can reproduce from apomixis, it
could mean that farmers don't necessarily have to purchase new seeds
every year for replanting. Also, and very importantly, it would greatly
reduce the propagation of diseases from crops such as potato and cassava
that carry viruses with each cutting planted. It is essentially the
antithesis of the terminator, the technology that attracted so much
it was aimed at causing seed not to reproduce after one planting.
Terminator was developed so that seed companies could compel farmers
to buy new seed every year. Apomixis means that farmers will never
need to buy seed again. Surely, seed companies will never support it.
I thought that too. But I've discovered that some of their top people
dream of apomixis. It means they would no longer have to make such
massive investments in seed improvement technology, and then worry
about recovering it. Seed innovation and production is a costly and
time-consuming business, whether it's biotechnology-based or
conventional. Apomixis would cut the time needed to evaluate new lines,
and dramatically reduce the cost of hybrid seed production. You could be
releasing hundreds of new varieties a year, each adapted to localised
conditions. But it needs a big rethink in terms of intellectual property.
one of the seed companies had exclusive control of the technology it
would be a nightmare for others. They'd be out of business in a flash. It's
a classic example of where sharing a technology is crucial.
You're a critic of that other holy grail: sequencing the genes of important
crops like rice. Why?
Imagine the keys of a piano. There are 88 keys on a piano. But they tell
me absolutely nothing. I know what every key means but it doesn't tell me
how to do Beethoven. It doesn't tell me how to do Brahms or Mozart. Yet
all of that is locked up in those keys. The secret is not in the keys by
themselves, but their combinations, the order, the duration and intensity.
It's the same way for genes. We're not going to get to the secret that's
locked up in the genome from DNA sequencing. That's just like looking at
the keys of a piano. I sometimes liken DNA sequencing and the hugely
fashionable work lumped into the term "genomics" to a drunk guy
underneath a street light late at night. He's crawling on his hands and
knees looking for his car keys, when someone walks by and says, "Hey
buddy, what are you up to?" The guy looks up at him and slurs. "Well, I'm
looking for my car keys." The passer-by bends down to help and they both
spend 10 minutes looking, when he says to the drunk: "Are you sure you
dropped them here?" The drunk guy says, "Jeez no, buddy, I dropped
them farther down the street but it's too dark to see there." We're doing
DNA sequencing because we can do it, not because it's going to necessarily
give us what we want.
But what about all the effort going into sequencing plant genomes, like
rice and maize. Can't it be put to good use?
Of course it will be put to use. But the question is: is it anywhere near
useful as having a different style of doing science? People will say: "Look
at all the things that have come out." But that's because you have got lots
and lots of people doing sequencing, and lots and lots of money being
thrown at it.
I'll give you another example. There's a great maize geneticist at the
University of Wisconsin at Madison called John Doebley—I don't even know
him but his work's great. He's looking at the genetics of maize and
teosinte, the ropy little weed-like thing that happens to be the very same
species as the big, proud corn plant of the American Midwest. It turns out
that almost all the differences between the two are caused by only a few
genes, and a huge amount of the difference in shape between the two
plants is associated with just one, single gene. After exhaustive
back-crossing, Doebley sequenced that gene and what did he find? Much
to everyone's amazement, he found that the protein sequence of the
teosinte gene is exactly the same as in the maize gene. There was a
difference between the two, of course, and that was in the way each gene
was expressed. In other words, how each gene regulates other genes. But
you'd never find that information from a gene sequence.
Can you give an example of developing a useful GM crop without using
gene sequence information and without inserting foreign genes?
There are plenty, using a method we've developed called transgenomics.
Imagine you want to cultivate a rice plant that has wide leaves instead of
skinny leaves. Now you might ask why you'd want to do such a thing?
Here's why. In West Africa, where rice is becoming a very important crop,
there's a serious problem of weeds. Because of this, West Africans tend to
grow Oryza glaberrima rice, because its wide, droopy leaves shade out the
weeds. O. glaberrima is not, however, their preferred rice. Many people
prefer classic Asian rice, a different species called Oryza sativa, but
don't grow it because Asian rice has skinny leaves which allows weeds to
proliferate. But what if we could get Asian rice to grow wide leaves?
This is where transgenomics comes in. It allows us to manipulate plant
genomes in a whole new way. Because, unlike the current system, it
doesn't introduce a pre-defined DNA from a foreign species into the plant.
Instead, we manipulate expression patterns in the plant's own DNA to get
a better result by simulating what a plant naturally does in evolution.
Any other examples?
Suppose you want to obtain wheat with very deep roots. If you use
conventional plant breeding, you'll need to cross different types of wheat
for many years before finally getting wheat with the desired traits. Even
then, you might still end up with wheat that contains other traits of the
plant that you didn't want. So the challenge is this: can we speed up the
process of targeted breeding? At the same time, can we rapidly and
efficiently transfer only desirable traits? And here's the really
challenging bit: can we do this without using expensive DNA sequence
After banging on doors for years, we're finally at the point where it is
about to happen. My colleague Andrzej Kilian has led the way. We're
calling his method "diversity array technology" or Dart. The method is
phenomenal. Andrzej and his team can pretty much produce a genetic
map overnight, a job that might take one or two people a year. And it
doesn't require any gene sequence information. I can't go into too much
detail now as Andrzej is about to submit a publication. But as far as we
tell, it's gone through most of its teething pains, and we're now ramping
up its use for important tropical crops.
What do you make of the current GM controversy?
Let me tell you a story I think you'll find particularly amusing. I had a
meeting recently with the top R&D manager for a big multinational biotech
company. We were talking about the GM crisis and he laughed when I
asked him about whether they were worried. You know what he said? "My
bean counters are delighted about the GM crisis." They're making a lot
more money by selling herbicides and pesticides now. The GM crop crisis
has nothing to do with food safety or environmental safety. Let me tell you
about a food that kills hundreds of people every year. It's a known
allergen—causing many thousands of reactions a year. It's not banned.
It's not always labelled, even though its oils are used in countless foods.
What is it?
It's called peanuts. But we know that it's ludicrous to talk of banning
peanuts. There's a legitimate gripe behind the public disquiet over GM
crops. But it's about faceless capital, excessive control by
loss of communities, and that modern R&D is no longer being guided by
principles of "public good". Food and agriculture have been taken out of
the hands of the small businesses and the family farmers and are now a
small part of a faceless empire of capital. That frustrates a lot of
including me. The core problem is not that these companies are evil,
many of them have some very good ideas. But there needs to be a
capability for smaller innovators to be real players—to contribute to
local-scale agriculture, science and business. The current climate of
consolidated patents for the key enabling technologies is making this
seem hopeless, so naturally people are upset.
What other kinds of innovative applications can we expect to see in the
How about this idea? Most farmers would love to know whether or not
they've put enough nitrogen in their crop. What if we invented a sentinel
plant, a biological instrument? And what if it could give you information
about nitrogen by changing colour? If that colour was, say, a bright yellow
or bright orange, it would mean "your field of crop needs more nitrogen".
You could use a similar system to indicate if a soil had other nutrient
deficiencies or latent pathogens. And it will allow you to breed without
expensive instrumentation. Or how about letting farmers decide when and
where to turn on a gene in their fields? Perhaps even turning a gene on or
off by pissing on a plant. Seriously. Urine contains compounds called
glucuronides, which are the main way our bodies detoxify compounds. At
CAMBIA, we have invented a technology that uses glucorinides to turn a
gene on or off. The idea of engineering such a system means you don't
have to buy chemicals that would otherwise do this for you.
Remarks of Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman
International Food and Nutrition Conference
Tuskegee University Tuskegee, Al
- October 10, 2000
" Thank you Dr. Payton for that kind introduction and for inviting me here
today. And I want to thank you and Dr. Hill and your staffs for putting
together this very important and visionary conference.
" Next Monday is World Food Day, an appropriate time to highlight the
magnitude of the food security challenge that we face. The simple fact is
that world population will reach 9 billion people by mid-century. That's 3
billion more mouths to feed and, when you consider that today over 800
million people are chronically malnourished, that fact presents a fearsome
challenge. With all that humankind has achieved, we have never been able
to defeat hunger and malnutrition. So how are we going to cope with 3
billion more people?
" I was in Africa this past summer -- Kenya and Nigeria. We've all seen
the pictures of starving, malnourished children and families...and we're
all familiar with the hunger statistics. But I had the chance to see first
hand the suffering, the sheer magnitude of the hunger problem. I went to
the feeding camps and met many children with frail bodies and eyes begging
for salvation. For me this experience wasn't just that I gained an
understanding of the mechanics of the problems hungry people face day in
and day out, but I came away with a feeling of their sense of despair, and
a feeling for how hunger and poverty steal people's hope and perpetuate a
defeatist sense of self. And I also saw people who were getting an
adequate quantity of food, but not getting enough of the right nutrients.
" But amidst the despair and disillusion I also saw people taking charge,
working to take control and make life better for themselves and their
families. In Kenya some members of our delegation visited the
Nutribusiness Development Project, a woman-owned and operated co-op that
produces nutritious baby food. This project was made possible not only by
a grant from the United States, but by know-how provided by Tuskegee
University and Penn State University. So I want to thank the folks at
Tuskegee for the work you do not just in the United States but around the
" And in Nigeria we visited the Institute for Tropical Agriculture where
scientists from Africa and the United States are working side by side to
develop higher yielding crops with greater pest resistance that can grow
in the climate conditions of Africa.
" These kinds of efforts are a start, but we'll need thousands more just
like them all over the world. The sad truth is that meeting the challenges
of the world food crisis is only going to get tougher. I'm not saying that
we can't do it. I am saying that, if we are going to succeed, we've got to
ramp up our efforts quickly and forcefully.
" The first step in fighting hunger is for developed countries to get
surplus food to people who need it, especially in times of crisis.
Recently, the United States has dramatically increased food donations
around the world -- over 16 million tons over the past two years. The
United States is by far the largest supplier of world food assistance --
64% last year. I'm not here to pat ourselves on the back. That's what we
should be doing. The magnitude of the U.S. share suggests that this is one
one area where other developed nations need to step up to the plate and do
more -- a lot more.
" But, as everyone in this room knows, supplying food to alleviate
critical shortages or respond to natural disasters like flood or drought
that precipitate famine is at best a band-aid approach. Supplying surplus
food is not the way to cure hunger but merely to alleviate its symptoms in
the short-term. Long-term solutions to hunger and malnutrition involve
" I'm of the belief that promoting new technologies - biotechnology,
advances in irrigation, water management, pest management, soil treatment
and more - will continue to be the cornerstone of our efforts to feed a
growing world population. There is no one answer, no single miracle that's
going to solve these problems. It is advances in technology will help us
to find the many answers we need.
" Two weeks ago at the Agriculture Department we inaugurated a Hall of
Heroes - men and women who've had a profound impact on food, agriculture,
forestry and nutrition. One of our first four charter members was George
Washington Carver. Now, certainly, in this room I don't have to get into
his long list of accomplishments, but I cite Dr. Carver to illustrate a
significant point. Along with Hugh Hammond Bennett, a pioneer in soil
conservation, two of the four honorees were scientists. The others were
Smokey Bear and Senator Bob Dole.
" It tells you something about the impact of science and technology on
agriculture and food production in the 20th Century, a phenomenon that I
think is too casually treated when looking back at the last 100 years. We
hear a lot about the invention of the automobile, space exploration,
nuclear energy, computer technology and so much more, but lost somewhere
in technology's heralded century is the accomplishments brought about in
agriculture - the most prominent being the exponential increase in farm
productivity. In the United States we've gone from approximately half the
population working in farming at the beginning of the century to under 2%
today. That fact alone is hugely significant because the end result is it
freed up the rest of the population, even as it grew, to pursue other
interests and professions and develop the greatest economic engine the
world has ever seen.
" On this subject of hunger and technology I'm reminded of a visit I made
to the world renowned International Maize and Wheat Research Center
(CIMMYT) in Texcoco, Mexico -- as most of you know the birthplace of the
Green Revolution which brought about the massive technological advances
that enabled us to feed a rapidly growing world without destroying our
environment. When I toured this facility, I was stunned into silence by a
sign on one of the walls. It had to do with Norin 10 --the dwarfing gene
for wheat. The sign read: "A single gene ... has saved 100 million lives."
" Next week I will be at the United Nations for the presentation of the
World Food Prize to two extraordinary scientists from CIMMYT, Dr.
Evangelina Villegas and Dr. Surinder K. Vasal, for their work in
developing maize with higher quality protein -- a discovery which is
helping to save millions of children worldwide.
"The point here is that challenging the frontiers of science and
technology is where we are going to find our answers. During my tenure as
Agriculture Secretary I have been out front talking about the remarkable
potential of biotechnology to battle hunger, improve nutrition and empower
farmers in developing countries. I have also been very forceful in calling
for rigid controls on new technologies so that we may realize their
potential and avoid the roadblocks that sometimes befall new technologies.
"A few weeks ago Nigeria's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development,
Hassan Adamu -- whom I had the chance to meet when I was over there --
wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post forcefully making the case
for what biotechnology can mean to Africa, not only as a means to beat
back hunger and improve nutrition, but to aid in developing African
agriculture and their move toward greater self-sufficiency. He argued, and
I agree with him, that it is "paternalistic and morally wrong" for those
of us in developed countries to presume to know what is best for
developing nations. For those of us in the developed world, our task
should be to help provide the tools so that nations that can use a helping
hand can make the best choices of what will work for their own people.
" But if we're really going to find ways to feed 3 billion more people in
the next 50 years, then we're going to have to apply that same level of
ingenuity and innovation that we find in science and technology to policy
making. We simply can not afford to stay the course.
"That's why when Ambassador George McGovern and Senator Robert Dole
suggested to President Clinton an international program based on the U.S.
experience with the School Meals program - to try it around the world to
help feed children -- the President immediately took to the idea. Within a
matter of months we moved to get it off the ground. Not only would it
fight hunger and improve nutrition, but studies indicate it would improve
school attendance and education - a major contribution to local economies.
So the Global Food for Education Program was born and the United States
committed $300 million to fund the first year's pilot effort - and we
sincerely hope other developed nations will join in this effort. The fact
is there's no way any single nation can do this alone, but the United
States is willing to get out front, test the waters and lead the way.
"Something else we have to consider is not only how much food people are
getting, but also the quality of that food. The irony of the American
experience is that even though we have all the food we need, we're not
necessarily consuming it in the healthiest ways. Last week, the Centers
for Disease Control announced that half of all Americans are overweight
and that nearly one in five Americans is obese - in most cases about 30
pounds overweight. This is not a cosmetic issue. It's not about competing
with the covers of Vogue or GQ. This is a serious health issue. Obesity
has been directly linked to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis,
cancer and other diseases. This is not a precedent that other countries
would want to import.
"In the United States we are asking ourselves what are we doing wrong and
how do we change it. It won't be easy, because in part it means altering
dietary habits that have been formed over many years and are being passed
from one generation to the next. Hopefully, we can help other nations
avoid some of these nutritional pitfalls.
"But, in the rush to produce enough nutritious food for a growing world
population, we must avoid creating new problems that threaten our health
and well being such as in food safety.
"In the new models of food production, where one meat packing plant can
produce upwards of a million pounds of ground beef in a single day and
ship it virtually overnight anywhere in the country, we test our ability
to maintain the safety of our food supply. In addition to having the most
abundant food supply in the world, the United States also has the safest.
But we are not without challenges. Mass production of food increases the
likelihood of major disease outbreaks. That's why we've instituted a
science-based inspection system in our meat and poultry plants. Already,
in just two years we are seeing dramatically positive results - for
example, the incidence of salmonella is down up to 50%. Our experience
with maintaining a safe, farm-to-table food supply can be of great benefit
to other nations as their food production systems grow.
"You know, many people come at the issue of hunger and malnutrition from a
moral perspective or even out of religious conviction. They view it as the
right thing to do, to help others in need. I couldn't agree more. But
there's more here than pure altruism. Investing in people, in a better
world, and in developing economies serves to improve the world in which we
live for all of us. After World War II the United States helped to rebuild
Europe and Japan. Today those nations are our friends and allies
contributing to peace, stability and democracy all over the world. The
same is true for individuals as it is for countries - help them, empower
them, give them a hand up, and they will become productive, contributing
members of our world community. The challenge for all of us in this room
and beyond, is to find ways to create a liveable world for all. That must
be our commitment. Thank you."
CBI Communications Update - October 20, 2000
The Washington Post yesterday reported that there is a possibility that
StarLink(TM) corn may be found in a wide array of foods, beyond just taco
While this corn has not yet been approved for human consumption,
government officials and scientists alike do not believe there is any
cause for concern over human health or safety.
In a statement to the EPA today, noted allergy specialist Dr. Steve Taylor
of the University of Nebraska says that he does not believe there has been
any risk to the public. His comments can be found at:
John Wichtrich, vice president and general manager of Aventis, the
producer of StarLink corn, was quoted by the Washington Post as saying,
"We’re working with the grain elevators, the flour mills and processors to
identify the commingled corn, and we’re getting it out of the food chain."
USDA officials stated that while there is "a plausibility" that some of
this year’s crop had made it into food products, "there is an enormous
effort underway to pull back as much of the corn as possible."
Officials have stated that StarLink corn represents no immediate health
concern to people.
The Environmental Protection Agency, in a statement on October 12, said,
"EPA does not have any evidence that food containing StarLink corn will
cause any allergic reaction in people..." The agency statement is attached.
Dr. Steve Taylor (see statement to the EPA above) does not believe there
has been any risk to the public from the presence of Cry9C in taco shells,
nor does he believe that Cry9C would be present in any corn products at a
level of concern.
StarLink corn was the only biotech crop that had been approved by the EPA
for animal, but not human, consumption. All other agricultural biotech
products on the commodity market have been approved by Federal regulators
for human consumption.
Aventis, which developed the StarLink corn seed, has voluntarily withdrawn
its registration, which means that no new StarLink corn can be grown
without future approval by the EPA.
Concerned parties throughout the food chain are currently working to
locate any other StarLink corn that may have entered the food supply.
The biotechnology industry is committed to the safety of biotech products,
to increasing public understanding of industry products and practices, and
to working with the three US regulatory bodies to adhere to the rigorous
science-based regulations for biotech products. Attached is a statement
released by BIO earlier this month outlining this commitment.
Under current US regulations, it can take up to 10 years to bring a
biotech plant to market, and there are 10 separate points at which federal
regulators can question and/or halt development of a biotech plant
variety. (Plant Biotechnology Regulation: Science based & consumer
accessible from plow to plate, ACPA)