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November 5, 2000


More on Rotenone; Response to Henry Miller; Perception of


Thanks to Shane Morris for the full report on the new finding re rotenone
and Parkinson's disease. A few corrections and an added observation.
Rotenone is known as a toxic, disruptive insecticide in organic circles
and is not used routinely by organic farmers, nor conventional farmers. It
is used mostly on vegetables; I am unaware of a single fruit crop on which
use is 1% of bearing acres (the level of use triggering reporting by
USDA). It is used on a small number of vegetables: e.g., 1% cabbage in
1998 (USDA vegetable crop chemical use survey), 4% of lettuce; 7% spinach.
It is applied at very low rates, i.e. 0.003 to 0.005 pounds a.i. per acre,
and almost always once per crop. Most other insecticides are applied at
rates 100 to 1000 fold higher, and 2 to 6 applications are common. Plus, I
believe the registrants in the U.S. have all decided not to produce the
data needed to retain the registrations, and hence the labels are on their
way out. Perhaps it is used more widely in Canada and is not in regulatory

Rotenone is not the first insecticide researchers have targeted as
possibly implicated in Parkinsons, Alzheimer and other degenerative
neurological diseases. Despite suggestive evidence, EPA has taken no
regulatory action against these other pesticides because the dose levels
at which the effect was found in animal models was so high compared to
exposures from agricultural uses. I suspect the same is true in the case
of rotenone uses, with the possible exception of water uses, about which I
know little.

Accordingly, I agree with Morris that the significance of this work is
likely as a new animal model for the study of the disease. There remain a
number of widely used pesticides that are in need of further study on this

Charles Benbrook Ag BioTech
InfoNet <http://www.biotech-info.net>
Benbrook Consulting Services CU FQPA site <http://www.ecologic-ipm.com>
5085 Upper Pack River Road IPM site <http://www.pmac.net> Sandpoint, Idaho

Subj: Miller's nonsense
From: Thomas Leustek

Henry I. Miller's article discrediting Al Gore on his Biotech policies is
utter nonsense. All the situations described by Miller as
anti-biotechnology stances can also be interpreted as wise policies
intended to address the safety of biotech products. The question of
whether AgBiotech will advance over the near future will be tested in the
court of public opinion. From recent poles it is clear that the US public
trusts US safety oversight agencies, notwithstanding the minority of
vocal, environmental extremists. We should be crediting Al Gore for
maintaining the public's confidence that government is doing a good
oversight job. Without the public's trust the US will quickly follow the
disastrous trends in Europe.

Regarding the silence of the candidates on Agbiotech- as sad as it is for
we academics the reality is that food production policies are not a very
hot political issue. Is it any wonder that the candidates spend little
time on them? Moreover, from what I've read, Gore and Bush are very
similar in their views. The public wants to know about the candidates
views on abortion, military spending, social security, and other really
important matters on which the candidates differ.

Tom Leustek

Thomas Leustek Associate Professor
Rutgers University Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the
Environment 59 Dudley Road New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901-8520

Subj: ; Perception of risk;
From: "Bob MacGregor"

The calculus of precaution is quite different for a commercial enterprise
than it is for EPA and FDA. In the case of the government agencies, public
health and safety can be the only concerns; however, a commercial food
company must also consider the marketability of its product-- where health
and safety can easily be trumped by an adverse public perception. This
injects a whole 'nother level of uncertainty into the evaluation of risk--
one that governments tend to ignore.

So, from this perspective, the action by UK grocery chains to ban GM
ingredients can also be seen as a business application of the
precautionary principle. In the US, the food companies (so far) have
decided that they can retain consumer confidence with a quick and decisive
recall of the specific, offending product (ie Starlink)-- as has been done
in the past with other contaminated foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, etc. If,
however, the anti's are able to build momentum as they did in Europe, the
food companies here could cave in quite precipitously, in a competitive
cascade of caution.

This is not a good time for the industry to make mistakes that provide
ammunition for the anti's.


From: Roger Morton
Subject: Mae-Wan Ho's research

Dr Mae-Wan Ho from the Department of Biological Sciences Open University
Milton Keynes UK runs the Institute of Science in Society where she
provides "scientific" reasons why GM foods are very dangerous. I thought I
would share some of Mae-Wan Ho's published research with the list and hope
to get some feed back on it. I found this paper a useful way to judge Dr
Ho's scientific credentials. This is from a paper Ho M.-W. (1997) Towards
a theory of the organism. Integr Physiol Behav Sci 32:343-363.

The introduction starts:

"Organisms are so enigmatic from the physical, thermodynamic point of view
that Lord Kelvin, co-inventor of the second law of thermodynamics,
specifically excluded them from its dominion (Ehrenberg, 1967, Scientific
American 217:103-). As distinct from heat engines, which require a
constant energy supply in order to do work, organisms are able to work
without a constant energy supply, and moreover, can mobilize energy *at
will*, whenever and wherever required, and in a perfectly coordinated way.
Similarly, Schrodinger (1944 What is life? Cambridge UP) was impressed
with the ability of organisms to develop and evolve as a coherent *whole*,
and in the direction of increasing organization, in defiance of the second
law. He suggested that they feed upon "negative entropy" to free
themselves from all the entropy they cannot help producing. [Snip] "...
the idea that open systems can "self-organise" under energy flow became
more concrete in the discovery of *disipative structures* (Prigogine,
1967: Introduction to thermodynamics of irreversible processes. John
Whiley) that depend on the flow and dissipation of energy, such as the
Benard convection cells and the laser (Haken 1977: Synergetics. Springer
Verlag). In both cases, energy input results in a phase transition to
global dynamic order in which all the molecules or atoms in the system
move coherently.

From these and other considerations, I have identified Schrodinger's
"negative entropy" as "stored mobilizable energy in a space-time
structured system" (Ho 1993 The rainbow and the worm: The physics of
organisms, World Scientific; Ho 1994 Towards and indigenous western
science - the organism as a coherent space-time structure In: New
Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, Institute of Noetic Sciences;
Ho 1995: Bioenergetics, S327 Living Processes, An open University Third
Level Science Course, Open University Press) which begins to offer a
possible solution to the enigma of living organization.

In this article, I outline a theory of the organism as a dynamically and
energetically closed domain of cyclic nondissipative processes coupled to
irreversible dissipative processes. This effectively frees the organism
from thermodynamic constraints so that it is poised for rapid, specific
intercommunication, enabling it to function as a coherent whole. In the
ideal, the organism is a quantum superposition of coherent activities over
all space-time domains, with instantaneous (nonlocal) noiseless
intercommunication throughout the system."

About the journal:

<http://www.websciences.org/totts/research/publications.html>http://www.webs ciences.org/totts/research/publications.html For the past three years
Stewart Wolf has been editor of Integrative Physiological & Behavioral
Science, the official journal of the Pavlovian Society. It was formerly
known as the Pavlovian Journal of Biological Science, and before that as
Conditional Reflex. The journal was founded by Horsely Gantt in 1965. Its
aim, as expressed in its current title, is to integrate the viewpoints of
disparate specialities to encourage a more comprehensive perspective on
issues of human biology and medicine.

To Dr Ho I offer a solution to "the enigma of living organization". It can
be found in probably any first year biology text book. The first one I
picked up was "Biology" NA Campbell, 3rd Edition, 1993, Benjamin Cummings
Publishing. Page 95: "How can we reconcile the second law of
thermodynamics ... with the orderliness of life? The key is to remember
that organisms are open systems that exchange energy and materials with
their surroundings. Cells create ordered structures from less organized
starting materials. ... But this high degree of organization in no way
violates the second law, because the entropy of a particular system, such
as an organism, may actually decrease, as long as the total entropy of the
*universe* - the system plus its surroundings -increases. ... The
evolution of biological order is perfectly consistent with the laws of

More science from Dr Ho can be found at:
which includes the statement

"But as there need be no entropy generated in adiabatic processes - which
occur frequently in living systems (see below) - the division into
available and nonavailable energy cannot be absolute"

Am I mistaken, or does Dr Ho claim to have discovered a situation where
the second law of thermodynamics is broken?

Opinons expressed in this posting are personal and do not reflect the
position of my employer


From: Julian Morris Subject: Lecture 21 November IEA
Public Lecture:

Paracelsus to Parascience: The Environmental Cancer Distraction


Professor Bruce Ames


Tuesday 21 November 2000

6.00 – 7.15pm (followed by a reception)
Gustav Tuck Lecture Theatre, UCL, Gower Street, London

Professor Ames will explain why cancers arise, emphasising the role
vitamin deficiencies play in breaking chromosomes, and why the concern
with pesticide residues and GM food is a distraction from important risks.
Controversially, Professor Ames argues that pesticides and GM food are
good for health and the environment.

The talk will be chaired by John Blundell, General Director of the
Institute of Economic Affairs and a vote of thanks given by Professor John
Adams of the Department of Geography at UCL. The talk will be followed by
a reception in the North Cloister.

About Bruce Ames

Dr Ames, inventor of the Ames test, is Professor of Biochemistry and
Molecular Biology and Director of the National Institute of Environmental
Health Sciences Center, University of California, Berkeley. He is a member
of the National Academy of Sciences and was a member of the National
Cancer Advisory Board of the National Cancer Institute (1976-82). His many
awards include: the Tyler Prize for environmental achievement (1985), the
Gold Medal Award of the American Institute of Chemists (1991), the
Lovelace Institute’s Award for Excellence in Environmental Health Research
(1995), the Honda Foundation Prize for Ecotoxicology (1996) and the Japan
Prize (1997). His 380 publications have resulted in his being among the 25
most-cited scientists in all fields.

Julian Morris, Director, Environment and Technology Programme Institute of
Economic Affairs London SW1P 3LB England, email: jmorris@iea.org.uk