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October 27, 2000


Starlink update by Aventis; Golden Rice is a Hoax says


To obtain detailed information on the new risk assessment of StarLink
corn, here is the link to the 70-page Aventis "StarLink information page"


where you can access the full "Updated safety assessment in
support of the pesticide petition for a time-limited exemption from the
requirement of a tolerance for the plant-pesticide "Bacillus thuringiensis
subsp. tolworthi Cry9C...." and other background information from Aventis.

Subj: Re: AGBIOVIEW: trans-species organisms
From: "Paul Geiger"

To Drew Kershen:

A classic example (but not a crop plant) is the Shasta daisy created by
Luther Burbank at the turn of the century, 1901. He worked perhaps 15
years crossing several different species to get a new, hardy hybrid. It
was acknowledged to be a truly new species at the time. Currently there
are said to be some 300 varieties world wide. The best reference is Walter
Howard's 1945 monograph "Luther Burbank's Plant Contributions" reprinted
in the 1993 ed. of "A Gardener Touched With Genius" by Peter Dryer,
published by The Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, Santa Rosa, CA. You can
see their website also.


Paul Geiger, PhD Assoc. Prof. Emer. USC Sch. of Med.

From: Gary L Comstock
Subject: Postdoc in ethics and ag biotech

IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY, Ames, IA. Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Ethics
and Agricultural Biotechnology. Ph.D. by start date, June 1, 2001. Three
responsibilities: (a) Research in ethical issues associated with genetic
modification of plants, foods, and/or animals; (b) Teach one section each
semester of the introductory ethics course in the Philosophy Department;
(c) Develop and teach new curricular materials in life science ethics for
educators of high school students and non-university adults. $35,000 plus
full benefits and $2,500 travel fund. One year. Possibility of renewal up
to three years. For more information and application, click here or
contact Dr. Gary Comstock, Bioethics Program Coordinator, 402 Catt Hall,
Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011. 515 294 5400. bioethics@iastate.edu
Deadline is Dec. 15, 2000, or until position is filled. Iowa State
University is an AA/EEO employer.

Subj: GM Labeling
From:Andrew Apel


There is one very big reason for opposing food labeling, mandatory or
voluntary. As we all know, from the recent news, activists are running
around everywhere testing foods for GM content. In such a climate, any
food company with a "GM Free" label, mandatory or not, risks an expensive
recall and a class-action lawsuit.

The current situation, of course, is near to putting the activists in an
idea lposition. If they get labeling, they will hold food manufacturers
and other companies accountable for failures in identity preservation and,
eventually, hold the stewards of the land (farmers) in their thrall. Lord
Melchett, the retiring head of Greenpeace UK, says that coercion of
farmers is the ultimate goal. (I said months ago that farmers would be the
"Jews" in the eco-fascism movement.)

Everyone in the food chain faces massive legal and financial liability the
moment GM food labeling occurs, and becomes a pawn to the activist groups,
who might spring new test results at any time.

When science-based decision-making is abandoned... well, Shakespeare said
it best. "Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war."

from "Henry I. Miller"

Angeles Times Henry I. Miller Page B9

As Joe Six-pack guzzles a brew during the World Series, does he care what
variety of yeast was used to make the beer or whether the fermentation was
done in stainless steel or wood tanks? Should he? Should labels be
required to tell him?

Of course not. But anti-biotech activists are demanding that the Food and
Drug Administration require food labels that make as little sense. And now
these radicals have friends in high places: Vice President Al Gore and his
protege, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner. In a
"statement of priorities," Gore has promised to "commit to a mandatory
labeling program for genetically engineered food" if he is elected
president. On the CNN program "Worldview," Browner said, "We require food
manufacturers to tell Americans how much fat, sugar, protein,
carbohydrates are in a product. We require food manufacturers to tell
Americans whether an ingredient is natural or artificial. So why not tell
Americans whether the ingredients in their food are natural or genetically
engineered?" There are lots of good reasons. For a start, what does
"natural" mean? The mutant peach we call a nectarine? The
tangerine-grapefruit genetic hybrid we call a tangelo? Or how about the
standard commercial varieties of wheat, which contain hundreds or even
thousands of genes from distantly related wild grasses? In fact, mandatory
labels would convey irrelevant information, imply incorrectly that the
buyer needs to be warned of unspecified dangers, vastly inflate costs and
reduce profits to everyone in the distribution pathway. And, they would
reduce consumers' choices. Britain's new mandatory-labeling law, touted by
a senior regulator as "a question of choice, of consumer choice," has had
the opposite effect. It sparked a stampede by food producers, retailers
and restaurant chains to rid their products of all gene-spliced
ingredients so they wouldn't have to introduce new "warning" labels and
risk losing sales. A broad scientific consensus holds that modern
techniques of genetic engineering are essentially a refinement of the
kinds of genetic modification that have long been used to enhance plants,
microorganisms and animals for food. Because of the precision and
predictability of the technology, the products of gene-splicing are even
more predictable than—and as safe as—the genetically improved foods that
have long enriched our diets, such as seedless grapes, sweet corn and
high-yield grains. (Except for wild berries, virtually all the fruits,
vegetables and grains that we eat have been genetically improved by one
technique or another.) Following long-standing precedents in food
regulation, the FDA already requires that a food be labeled if it raises
an issue of safety or appropriate usage—for example, if it contains a
substance that is new to the food supply, an allergen presented in an
unusual or unexpected way (such as a peanut protein transferred to a
potato) or increased levels of toxins normally found in foods—or if there
are changes in the levels of major dietary nutrients.
The FDA's current approach was upheld indirectly by a federal appeals
court, which found in 1996 that there exists no consumers' "right to know"
obscure information about food. That case involved a Vermont law requiring
labeling of dairy products from cows treated with a gene-spliced protein
to increase their productivity. "Were consumer interest alone sufficient,
there is no end to the information that states could require manufacturers
to disclose about their production methods," the court wrote. Some
California activists have demanded labels to identify machine-harvested as
opposed to handpicked tomatoes. Where will it end?
Just the possibility of consumers rejecting "produced by biotechnology "
foods already has had repercussions. Take Mr. Six-pack's six-pack, for
example. In North Dakota, which leads the nation in the production of
barley for beer, the 1999 crop was the smallest in more than a decade,
reduced by a fungal disease called scab. But following the example of
Japanese brewers Kirin and Sapporo and American baby food manufacturers
Gerber and Heinz, which have rejected gene-spliced ingredients in their
products, U.S. brewers are reluctant to turn to gene-spliced,
scab-resistant barley, which is under development. The result? Uncertainty
about supplies, higher costs of production and scab-infested barley used
for brewing, which gives beer an off taste.
If enough people really want to avoid gene-spliced food, niche markets
will arise, as they have for kosher and organic products—assuming that
consumers are willing to pay a premium for foods certified to be
"gene-splicing free." No government mandate is needed.


From: "Gordon Couger"

I relay want to see a nitrogen balance on this one.



from: geno@zap.a2000.nl
Subject: Re: B-GE:The Golden Rice Hoax by Dr. Vandana Shiva

From: Laurel Hopwood
Subject: excellent article: The Golden Rice Hoax

The Golden Rice Hoax--When Public Relations Replace Science by Dr. Vandana

"Golden Rice": A technology for creating Vitamin A deficiency.

Golden rice has been heralded as the miracle cure for malnutrition and
hunger of which 800 million members of the human community suffer.
Herbicide resistant and toxin producing genetically engineered plants can
be objectionable because of their ecological and social costs. But who
could possibly object to rice engineered to produce vitamin A, a
deficiency found in nearly 3 million children, largely in the Third World?

As remarked by Mary Lou Guerinot, the author of the Commentary on Vit. A
rice in Science, "One can only hope that this application of plant genetic
engineering to ameliorate human misery without regard to short term profit
will restore this technology to political acceptability."

Unfortunately, Vitamin A rice is a hoax, and will bring further dispute to
plant genetic engineering where public relations exercises seem to have
replaced science in promotion of untested, unproven and unnecessary

The problem is that vit. A rice will not remove vitamin A deficiency
(VAD). It will seriously aggravate it. It is a technology that fails in
its promise. Currently, it is not even known how much vit. A the
genetically engineered rice will produce. The goal is 33.3%
micrograms/100g of rice. Even if this goal is reached after a few years,
it will be totally ineffective in removing VAD.

Since the daily average requirement of vit. A is 750 micrograms of vit. A
and 1 serving contains 30g of rice according to dry weight basis, vit. A
rice would only provide 9.9 micrograms which is 1.32% of the required
allowance. Even taking the 100g figure of daily consumption of rice used
in the technology transfer paper would only provide 4.4% of the RDA. In
order to meet the full needs of 750 micrograms of vit.A from rice, an
adult would have to consume 2 kg 272g of rice per day. This implies that
one family member would consume the entire family ration of 10 kg. from
the PDS in 4 days to meet vit.A needs through "Golden rice".

This is a recipe for creating hunger and malnutrition, not solving it.

Besides creating vit. A deficiency, vit. A rice will also create
deficiency in other micronutrients and nutrients. Raw milled rice has a
low content of Fat (0.5g/100g). Since fat is necessary for vit. A uptake,
this will aggravate vit. A deficiency. It also has only 6.8g/100g of
protein, which means less carrier molecules. It has only 0.7g/100g of
iron, which plays a vital role in the conversion of Betacarotene
(precursor of vit. A found in plant sources) to vit. A.

Superior Alternatives exist and are effective.

A far more efficient route to removing vit. A deficiency is biodiversity
conservation and propagation of naturally vit. A rich plants in
agriculture and diets.

Table 1 gives sources rich in vit. A used commonly in Indian foods.

Source Hindi name Content (microgram/100g)

(Amaranth leaves) Chauli saag=266-1,166 - (Coriander leaves) -
(Cabbage) Bandh gobi=217
(Curry leaves)-Curry patta=1,333
(Drumstick leaves)-Saijan patta1=283
(Fenugreek leaves)-Methi-ka-saag=450
(Radish leaves)-Mooli-ka-saag=750
(Spinach)-Palak saag=600
(Pumpkin (yellow))-Kaddu=100-120
(Mango (ripe))-Aam=500
(Tomato (ripe))-Tamatar=32
(Milk (cow, buffalo))-Doodh=50-60
(Egg (hen))-Anda=300-400
(Liver (Goat, sheep))-Kalegi=6,600 - 10,000 Cod liver oil=10,000 - 100,000

Inspite of the diversity of plants evolved and bred for their rich vit. A
content, a report of the Major Science Academies of the World - Royal
Society, U.K., National Academy of Sciences of the USA, The Third World
Academy of Science, Indian National Science Academy, Mexican Academy of
Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Brazilian Academy of Sciences -
onTransgenic Plants and World Agriculture has stated,

Vit. A deficiency causes half a million children to become partially or
totally blind each year. Traditional breeding methods have been
unsuccessful in producing crops containing a high vit. A concentration and
most national authorities rely on expensive and complicated
supplementation programs to address the problem. Researchers have
introduced three new genes into rice, two from daffodils and one from a
microorganism. The transgenic rice exhibits an increased production of
betacarotene as a precursor to vit. A and the seed in yellow in colour.
Such yellow, or golden rice, may be a useful tool to help treat the
problem of vit. A deficiency in young children living in the tropics.

It appears as if the world's top scientists suffer a more severe form of
blindness than children in poor countries. The statement that "traditional
breeding has been unsuccessful in producing crops high in vit. A" is not
true given the diversity of plants and crops that Third World farmers,
especially women have bred and used which are rich sources of vit. A such
as coriander, amaranth, carrot, pumpkin, mango, jackfruit.

It is also untrue that vit. A rice will lead to increased production of
betacarotene. Even if the target of 33.3 microgram of vit. A in 100g of
rice is achieved, it will be only 2.8% of betacarotene we can obtain from
amaranth leaves 2.4% of betacarotene obtained from coriander leaves, curry
leaves and drumstick leaves.

Even the World Bank has admitted that rediscovering and use of local
plants and conservation of vit. A rich green leafy vegetables and fruits
have dramatically reduced VAD threatened children over the past 20 years
in very cheap and efficient ways. Women in Bengal use more than 200
varieties of field greens. Over a 3 million people have benefited greatly
from a food based project for removing VAD by increasing vit. A
availability through home gardens. The higher the diversity crops the
better the uptake of pro-vitamin A.

The reason there is vit. A deficiency in India in spite of the rich
biodiversity a base and indigenous knowledge base in India is because the
Green Revolution technologies wiped out biodiversity by converting mixed
cropping systems to monocultures of wheat and rice and by spreading the
use of herbicides which destroy field greens.

In spite of effective and proven alternatives, a technology transfer
agreement has been signed between the Swiss Government and the Government
of India for the transfer of genetically engineered vit. A rice to India.

The ICAR, ICMR, ICDS, USAIUD, UNICEF, WHO have been identified as
potential partners. The breeding and transformation is to be carried out
at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, Central Rice Research
Institute, Cuttack and Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana and
University of Delhi, South Campus.

The Indian varieties in which the vit. A traits are expected to be
engineered have been identified as IR 64, Pusa Basmati, PR 114 and ASD 16.

Dr. M.S. Swaminathan has been identified as "God father" to ensuring
public acceptance of genetically engineered rice. DBT & ICAR are also
potential partners for guaranteeing public acceptance and steady progress
of the project.

Genetically engineered vit. A rice will aggravate this destruction since
it is part of an industrial agriculture, intensive input package. It will
also lead to major water scarcity since it is a water intensive crop and
displaces water prudent sources of vit. A.

Transferring an Illusion to India.

The first step in the technology transfer of vit. A rice requires a need
assessment and an assessment of technology availability. One assessment
shows that vit. A rice fails to pass the need test.

The technology availability issue is related to whether the various
elements and methods used for the construction of transgenic crop plants
are covered by intellectual property rights. Licenses for these rights
need to be obtained before a product can be commercialised. The Cornell
based ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech
Application) has been identified as the partner for ensuring technology
availability by ensuring technology availability by having material
transfer agreements signed between the representative authority of the
ICAR and the "owners" of the technology, Prof. I. Potrykus and Prof. P.

In addition, Novartis and Kerin Breweries have patents on the genes used
as constructs for the vit. A rice.

At a public hearing on Biotechnology at U.S. Congress on 29th June 2000,
Astra-Zeneca stated they would be giving away royalty free licenses for
the development of "Golden rice".

At a workshop organised by the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Dr
Barry of Monsanto's Rice Genome initiative announced that it will provide
royalty-free licenses for all its technologies that can help the further
development of "golden rice".

Hence these gene giants Novartis, Astra-Zeneca and Monsanto are claiming
exclusive ownership to the basic patents related to rice research.
Further, neither Monsanto nor Astra - Zeneca said they will give up their
patents on rice - they are merely giving royalty free licenses to public
sector scientists for development of "golden rice". This is an arrangement
for a public subsidy to corporate giants for R&D since they do not have
the expertise or experience with rice breeding which public institutions

Not giving up the patents, but merely giving royalty free licenses implies
that the corporations like Monsanto would ultimately like to collect
royalties from farmers for rice varieties developed by public sector
research systems. Monsanto has stated that it expects long term gains from
these IPR arrangements, which implies markets in rice as "intellectual
property" which cannot be saved or exchanged for seed. The real test for

Monsanto would be its declaration of giving up any patent claims to rice
now and in the future and joining the call to remove plants and
biodiversity out of TRIPS. Failing such an undertaking by Monsanto the
announcement that Monsanto giving royalty free licenses for development of
vit. A rice like the rice itself can only be taken as a hoax to establish
monopoly over rice production, and reduce rice farmers of India into

While the complicated technology transfer package of "Golden Rice" will
not solve vit. A problems in India, it is a very effective strategy for
corporate take over of rice production, using the public sector as a
Trojan horse.