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October 31, 2000


Inventory of Agbiotech in Africa; Optimistic Report on


I have now placed the complete text of the Biotechniques paper
'Transgenic Plants and Biosafety: Science, Misconceptions and Public
Perceptions" by Stewart, C.N. Jr. ,Richards, H.A. IV, & Halfhill, M.D.
BioTechniques 29:832-843 at our website... See below ...CSP.
Thanks to Neal Stewart for sending me the text.



New News Service for 'ProBiotech'

Hi All, Just to let you know:-

The 'ProBiotech' Web Site (http://www.probiotech.fsnet.co.uk) now has a
minute-by-minute Rolling Daily News Service, with clickable links,
covering biotechnology, agriculture, and biology, as well as the main
headline pieces as of old. Top of the 'News' Page on the Site.

As ever,

Prof Philip Stott

From: Andrea Johanson
Subject: An Inventory of Agricultural Biotechnology for Eastern andCentral


In response to a request by USAID's Africa Bureau on behalf of the
Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central
Africa (ASARECA), the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project (ABSP),
based at Michigan State University has produced a report containing an
'inventory' of transgenic crops applicable to the Eastern and Central
Africa region. While not exhaustive, this inventory lists transgenic crops
that are potentially available for field testing or commercial release
within the next 2-5 years.

Primarily this document was prepared for ASARECA in order to provide that
organization with some of the background information required to enable
them to develop their strategy for biotechnology research in the Eastern
and Central Africa region. Our hope is that an additional outcome of this
report will be to demonstrate the potential benefits, in the short and
longer term, of agricultural biotechnology to Africa.

In order to produce this report we have contacted many individuals and
institutions in the agricultural development community including the CGIAR
Centers, the private sector, universities and donor organizations. We are
very grateful to all those who have responded to our requests for
information. In particular the authors would like to thank the ASARECA
Committee of Directors, and the ASARECA Network Coordinators for their
valuable input.

The report is now available for download in .pdf format from the ABSP
website at http://www.iia.msu.edu/absp/inventory1.html

We would be happy to receive comments and feedback on the report.

Andrea Johanson Assistant Director, ABSP, Michigan State University

From: "Anatole F. Krattiger"

Extraordinary Growth in Biotechnology Market Is Sustainable According to
Ernst & Young's Millennium Report

Convergence of Life Sciences Triggers Public Interest and Financial
Updated 8:28 AM ET October 30, 2000

PALO ALTO, Calif., Oct. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Biotechnology will become this
century's most dynamic industry -- affecting disciplines from agriculture
to chemicals, drug discovery to computer nanotechnology -- creating
platforms for new products and markets according to a just released
report, "Convergence: Ernst & Young's Biotechnology Industry Report,
Millennium Edition." Ernst & Young LLP will unveil the new study at the
CALBIO Summit on Tuesday, October 31, 2000 in San Diego, CA.

Ernst & Young reveals that innovations and a convergence in finance,
market sectors, technologies and products, and public awareness are
breathing new life into biotechnology stocks. According to the study, in
the first six months of 2000, 19 companies went public raising $2.2
billion with an average of $114 million per initial public offering (IPO).
In the same period, follow-ons for 27 companies raised an additional $7
billion. The Millennium report also reveals that advances in genomics are
directly tied to a rise in biotechnology stock prices, spurring investment
and IPO activity. This news is contrary to its last report in 1999 titled
"Bridging the Gap," in which Ernst & Young lamented that the market was
severely undervaluing the biotechnology industry.

"For the full year ending June 30, 2000, market capitalization of the
biotech industry was $353 billion, a 156 percent increase," states Scott
Morrison, Ernst & Young's National Director of Life Sciences and an author
of the report. "In the calendar year 2000, the industry is certain to
raise in excess of $30 billion -- more than three times the 'best-ever'
record of just under $9 billion."

Convergence Brings Innovation and Investment

Convergence -- the cross-industry spread of technology and market
strategies -- is playing a larger role in the growth of the biotech sector
and other industries than ever before. As noted in the report, convergence
of the high technology and healthcare industries and with broader
industrial sectors has led to a flood of new technologies, new company
formations and new business models that have the potential to
revolutionize the entire sector.

"In a meaningful way, the biotechnology industry is becoming an
information science," added Morrison. The human genome project as well as
the genomic and proteomic research efforts at academic institutions and
biotechnology companies have generated vast amounts of data which will
enable the drug discovery and development process as never before.
Advances in computer technology have driven much of this progress with
high technology companies now participating in the biotechnology
revolution both as suppliers and through direct entry to specific markets.

"The biotechnology industry has become the intersection for convergence in
the healthcare marketplace, helping to fuel our economy and accelerate the
drug discovery process. As a result, new growth opportunities are created,
while at the same time, improving the quality of life by bringing new
medical therapies to the public," noted Morrison. As of June 2000,
according to the Ernst & Young report, biotechnology companies had almost
300 products in pivotal trials with cancer, infectious diseases and
neurology studies leading the way. Advances in genomics, proteomics and
the drug discovery process should lead to an explosion in the pipeline in
the next decade.

Regional Differences Exist

New England, the San Francisco Bay area and San Diego have the largest
concentration of public and private biotechnology companies with several
areas of the country having increasingly larger concentrations. The
companies do, however, vary greatly in size and market capitalization.
"One thing of which we can all be certain is that biotech will continue to
grow and affect our business ventures, our communities and our population.
Those who can leverage and understand the opportunities at hand will
discover unlimited possibilities," concludes Morrison.

To order a copy of "Convergence: Ernst & Young's Biotechnology Industry
Report, Millennium Edition" at $50.00, call 800-SCOREEY (800/726-7339),
code number O00254. (Note to Editor: first digit is the letter O, the
second and third digits are the number 0). You can also go to Ernst &
Young's Web site at www.ey.com/industry/health to gain additional
information on the concepts and companies highlighted in the report.

Ernst & Young, a global leader in professional services, helps clients to
quickly and confidently make financial decisions designed to enhance
value. Its 77,000 people in more than 130 countries have the industry and
financial experience to provide fresh perspectives on operating
successfully in the new economy. Ernst & Young offers traditional audit
and tax services, as well as customized services in corporate finance,
online security, risk management, the valuation of intangibles and
e-business acceleration. In addition, legal services are available in
various parts of the world where permitted. A collection of Ernst &
Young's latest ideas on the new economy can be found at
www.ey.com/thoughtcenter .

Ernst & Young refers to the U.S. firm of Ernst & Young, LLP and other
members of the global Ernst & Young organization. Contact: Keith Hark of
Ernst & Young LLP, 212-773-5299, or keith.hark@ey.com; or Colleen
Reinhart, 706-369-3474, or creinhart@fischerhealth.com, or Jeannie Whited,
310-577-7870, or jwhited@fischerhealth.com, both of Fischer & Partner


From: Tony Shelton
Subject: Cornell Conference on Ag Biotech

Attached is information on a Conference we are having on Nov. 15-16 at
Cornell. It is widely publicized and will have considerable press.

Cornell to host conference on agricultural biotechnology and genetically
modified organisms, Nov. 15-16

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The controversy over genetically engineered crops and the
foods derived from them will be examined by speakers from organizations
ranging from Greenpeace to Monsanto Nov. 15-16 at a Cornell University
symposium on agricultural biotechnology and genetically modified
organisms. The event, hosted by the university's New York State College of
Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), will be held at the Biotechnology
Building on campus.

The two-day symposium also will feature speakers from the U.S. Department
of Agriculture, the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, the
Center for Science in the Public Interest, food-processing companies and
from Cornell and several other universities.

The Nov. 15 morning sessions will focus on food and food safety, while the
afternoon sessions will focus on genetically modified organisms and the

The Nov. 16 morning sessions will examine food systems and feature
presentations from food-processing companies and organic agriculture
organizations. The afternoon session will focus on growing crops in the
developing world, featuring speakers from foundations and non-governmental

"Agricultural biotechnology, including the use of genetically engineered
organisms, is the most important issue in agriculture today," says Anthony
Shelton, a Cornell professor of entomology and the associate director of
research at CALS. "This conference will examine the issues surrounding the
debate and provide a forum for presenting various sides of the issues
within an educational setting. There is an urgent need to provide such a
forum and we believe this will be a unique conference because of the
breadth of the issues covered, the prominence of the speakers and the
opportunity for discussion through a series of moderated town-hall


President Hunter Rawlings
Dr. Peter Day
Dr. Dennis Miller
Ms. Jeanette Glover Glew
Ms. Jane Andrews
Mr. Tony DelPlato
Dr. T. P. King
Dr. Marjorie Faust
Mr. Michael Jacobson
Dr. Bruce Chassy
Dr. Bruce Lewenstein,
Dr. Richard Harrison
Dr. Susan M Koehler
Dr. Steve Kresovich
Dr. Rick Hellmich
Dr. George Kennedy
Mr. Leonard Gianessi
Dr. Doreen Stabinsky
Mr. Stephen Strauss
Tony Shelton: ams5@cornell.edu Associate Director of Research Associate
Director, Agricultural Experiment Station Cornell University, 245 Roberts
Hall Ithaca, NY 14853-4203 ph 607 255-2552 FAX 607 255-9499


Subject: Organic Farming -- A Discussion/References

Some good sources on organic farming include:

(1) Scottish Crop Research Institute report on organic farming and their
annual report

(2) The Center for Global Food Issues http://www.CGFI.org (various
articles and reports)

(3) Report entitled: Organic Marketing available at

(4) Report from the world-renowned Scottish Crop Research Institute
(http://www.scri.sari.ac.uk) exposes in great detail the science and myths
of organic agriculture. This report sheds light on potential economic
pressures that may be behind organic industry opposition to other
sustainable agriculture techniques, including biotechnology, that are not
intrinsic to the basic tenets of organic production. The report highlights
inconsistencies with rigid application of standards, arguably designed to
protect premium-priced market niches rather than promote best agricultural
practices. In addition, it clearly demonstrates safety, economic and
environmental claims by organic interests are at best overstated and in
several cases demonstrably false.

The Directors report (available at the web site noted) specifically notes
a decline in U.K. self-sufficiency in food production during the same time
at which the U.K. has been subsidizing a conversion to less productive
organic methods.

While noting certain benefits with aspects of organic methods, the report
organic highlights production methods that present measurable health and
safety risks as well as damage the environment. In addition, the report
notes that the beneficial aspects of organic production are available, and
in many cases, also practiced by conventional producers. For example,
comparing conventional practices, including the use of pesticides, the
report concluded that, "These findings would seem to suggest that the
ecological benefits of eliminating pesticides may be more apparent than
real... It is almost certain that a more flexible approach to reduced use
of pesticides could achieve the treble aims of lowering chemical inputs,
not damaging the environment, and maintaining profitability."

Regarding health and safety, SCRI highlights the concern: "Consumers
should beware of mission-directed disinformation from pressure groups."
and the report notes, "There are many claims made of organic food, most
unsubstantiated and many unwarranted. For example, common claims include :
"Organic food is better for you." Adding that major reports, " found no
evidence for or against the safety of organic products. Conventional and
organic are equally safe. Further, the evidence given to them by the

Nutrition Foundation was that "the nutritional value of organic crops is
likely to be the same as that of conventionally grown crops" The balance
of environmental advantages and disadvantages in the organic system is not
clear. SCRI explored organic environmental claim and found "that less
intensive application of conventional methods achieves the same results."
In fact, the organic standard recommendation to compost manures before
using them is a practice that ensures significant loss of nitrogen to the
atmosphere as ammonia. It is ecologically unsound.

In particular, the organic practice of using "Bordeaux mixture" was
clearly cited as unhealthful and damaging to the environment. This
copper-based fungicide was applied to potatoes up to three times a
year....". The justification for the use of Bordeaux mixture - a simple
solution of inorganic salts - in 'organic' systems appears to have been
that it was hallowed by time. In fact, it is not at all environmentally
friendly and copper is toxic at the levels used in Bordeaux mixture - that
is why it was devised. Bordeaux mixture is a known molluscicide, it repels
slugs and snails and is toxic to earthworms, and its use within the EU
will be banned in 2002 nothing to do with organic farming, rather the
environmental concerns of the 'conventional' farming community.

And, the SCRI explored the organic food industry drive to guaranteed their
products as free from genetic 'tampering' noting, "This was not part of
the original principles and opposition to genetic modification appears to
be a hitchhiker or a stowaway cadging a ride on a respectable movement."
This opposition has to be recognized as a contradiction of the underlying
principles of the organic movement. No-one objects that there is no food
for the caterpillar of the cabbage white butterfly where cereals are
grown. Why should they complain if they couldn't feed on a cabbage crop?
They may still feed on wild relatives of the cabbage. Where is the
ecological benefit of rampant late blight of potato? No other organism
feeds on the fungus causing the disease.

Genetic engineering would appear to be compatible with the principles of
organic farming even if the proponents of the movement do not presently
recognize it as such. The relation between genetically modified organisms
(GMO) and organic farming will be discussed again in the next section. By
opposing biotechnology, the Soil Association would appear to be opposing
the very means by which many of its ends could be achieved.

"Sustainable agriculture should not imply a rejection of conventional
practices but the combination of the best opportunities from modern
science with a re-adoption of traditional opportunities to conserve
resources... Organic farming does not require best use of the options
available, but the best use of the options that have been approved. These
options are usually more complex and sometimes less effective than
conventional ones." Reasonable people will conclude that the economic
sustainability of the organic retail industry seems to be playing a larger
role in defining standards than does real environmental sustainability and
consumer benefits.


Subj: AGBIOVIEW: Misguided Western Activism
From Leina Mary Joseph

Dear Mr. Chengal Reddy,

Your article on Misguided western activism is enlightening as it brings
out the hardships faced by farmers in the developing world against the
backdrop of the developed nations.

However, I would like to point out a few exaggerations made in the
article. Such as this;

1. "In poor countries people eat only about 30 percent of what is consumed
in the West. In Europe and the USA, per capita consumption of meat is 70
>kilos and 200 eggs per year, whereas an Indian consumes 1700 grams of
meat and 28 eggs per year."

This "Meat consumption" statistics comparison cannot be made between
Europe/USA and India. This has no relevance in the Indian context as much
of the countries population are vegetarians and even those who do eat meat
and egg do so only occasionally. This is not due to financial constraints
but due to social and moral values in our culture. So comparing the
quantity of meat consumed in Europe or USA where it is one of their staple
food with that of Indians is incorrect.

2. >Farmers are forced to spend billions of rupees on crop
>protection management. The net result is that farmers are in permanent
indebtedness. Neither God nor the Government is helping them. Every year,
thousands of farmers commit suicide.

The last statement that thousands of farmers commit suicide EVERY YEAR is
exaggerated and a fiction. Such incorrect statements may stir up
sentiments to help emphasise the drastic need to adopt biotechnology, but
it is unethical.

Leina Mary Joseph

From: SatishKumarV@nagarjunagroup.com

I would like to have details of scientists / institutions working on :

1. plant nutrient management
2. new ways of delivering plant nutrition, enhancing absorption,

can someone please help??