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November 17, 2000


Population Problem; Rotenone and Organic Assoc; UK's


I think you will find that in countries that can produce enough food to
feed them selves and have an economy and a stable goverment that provides
minimally acceptable standard of living for the elderly the population
growth rate starts to fall. Both these things have to be internal to the
country. Feeding them is probably easier than providing them with a stable
goverment unless we want to renew the colonial methods of 150 years ago.
Some how I don't think that would be well received either.

Mother nature and civil war are adjusting the Sub Saharan African
population back to a sustainable level. While we can't agree on a solution
I think we can all agree that almost every thing we have done has at best
had little positive effect compared to the effect of AIDS and the endless
civil wars.

Properly treated sewage is excellent fertilizer. It needs nitrogen and
some other nutrients added and it need to be treated in some way to kill
pathogens. Good sense says that the treatment is not likely to be perfect
so the fertilizer should go on crops that are fed to livestock or on crops
that are cooked before they are eaten. It can be applied untreated to the
fields but in times of flood it tends to cause out breaks of many

As far a direct use of sewage a feed stuff it is very unpalatable. It is a
good source of B vitamins. Chicken litter is a fair source of protein for
ruminants. The palabity issue and cost to kill pathogens make it a
marginal proposition.

I agree that the ultimate solution is not to find was to produce more food
but to find ways to produce less people. The models have that happing
sometime in the middle of this century. If we are lucky. The current
political climate won't support any methods that will have any real impact
on the over all out come of the population growth. To many of the people
influencing these decisions have not seen what the harsh realities of the
results of their well meaning action produce. They don't know that a
democracy in a country that has be ruled by tribal councils for every
won't just work over night. Or that western concepts of land ownership are
meaningless to a nomad. They think that the whole world works just like
their bridge club.

Gordon Gordon Couger gcouger@couger.com Stillwater, OK

>From: Mary Ellen Jones Subject: Feeding burgeoning


Subj: Re: AGBIOVIEW: Feeding or controlling burgeoning population? From:
steef van duin

hmmmm, well, someone had to start with the statistically probably most
important factor: the demographic variable. I could not agree more with
you. read your story with great intererst

Drs. Steef van Duin Groningen, Holland.


Subj: Rotenone From: Rick Roush

Dear All:

I wrote the following to Craig Sams on 9 Nov. He
has since forwarded the message to , who then
passed it on to "Michele Burton" , none of
whom have been able to give me the name of EVEN ONE "synthetic pesticide
used widely in food production" that works like rotenone. My message to

>(Craig): Allow me to focus on one point (in the fact sheet you posted
from the Soil Association) : >>This research has opened up a more worrying
prospect as Rotenone works in a similar way to many other synthetic
pesticides used widely in food production but which do not break down as
easily. It acts by causing the mitochondria - which power the cell - to
produce free radicals, reactive chemicals that produce oxidative damage in
a variety of contexts and which have been implicated in many degenerative
diseases. >(Craig,) Can you or the authors in the Soil Association
identify some of these chemicals? In actual fact, I believe this statement
is wrong. The must be fewer than 10 synthetic pesticides with this mode of
action, and I can't think of any that are still in widespread use.


Since the Soil Association can't shed any light here, I'll help them.
There are NO herbicides that work on mitochodria (like rotenone) in any
fashion, eliminating over half of all the pesticides used. I have searched
my notes and find perhaps 6 fungicides or insecticides that may still be
used on food crops and are thought to affect mitochondria in some fashion,
not necessarily with the same effects as rotenone. None of these has
widespread use on food crops to the best of my knowledge. By far, most
insecticides affect the insect nervous system.

For me, the issue here is that the Soil Association has implied that
conventional agriculture could be responsible for Parkinson's. Unless the
Soil Association has information to back up that claim, it is clearly a
misleading statement that can seem to have only one purpose; to induce
people to buy organic products for which the Soil Association has a clear
conflict of interest. So far, the Soil Association has not been able to
provide the name of a single pesticide that acts like rotenone, much less
any that are now or ever have been in "widespread use". I call on them to
publicly retract their statement unless and until they can identify such


The original post from Sams:
>Subj: Re: Rotenone backgrounder
>From: Craig Sams

>I am forwarding this press statement from the Soil Association regarding
rotenone which you may wish to circulate to the list. Craig Sams

>FACT SHEET : The uses of the pesticide Rotenone | Research in America [1]
has linked exposure to the pesticide Rotenone to Parkinson's disease.
Rotenone is an insecticide used to control aphids as well as the raspberry
beetle and sawflies. It breaks down easily in the environment and
therefore the issue is of exposure to the operator from applying the
insecticide directly, not of residues in food.


Subj: Re: Rotenone
From: "Gundula Meziani"

Dear Mr Roush,

You seem to be worrying unnecessarily about the content of our briefing:

(i) You yourself have confirmed that are are other pesticides that are
understood to work in a similar way to Rotonene ("I have searched my notes
and find perhaps 6 fungicides or insecticides that may still be used on
food crops and are thought to affect mitochondria"), ie. confirming that
that part of our briefing is correct.

(ii) You say we should not be saying these products are used widely. Well,
following your advice, this is not in the briefing. Did you not notice the

(iii) We have sent you the article from Nature Neuroscience (Dec. 2000),
"Chronic systemic pesticide exposure reproduces features of Parkinson's
disease". If you have read this, you will see that not only does this
refer to the particular mode of action of certain pesticides as being
suspected as a cause but it says "epidemiological studies suggest an
association with pesticides".

(iv) Refering to a direct quote we provided to you from this article, you
said in another e-mail "I doubt that ... the authors of the Nature
Neuroscience article... know what they are talking about in terms of
pesticides that work like rotenone". We do not know who you are or what
your expertise is in this area, but why do you think your knowledge on
this is more advanced than the authors and, presumably, peer reviewers?
You must understand that we cannot just adopt your point of view which is
contary to the latest evidence, for no reason other than that is what you
would like. If you have a concern about this Nature Neuroscience article,
I suggest you take it up directly with them. If you are able to clarify
the reasons for your differences, we would be interested to know what they

(v) Our briefing only refers to the "possibility that exposure to these
chemicals would be linked to Parkinson's disease" and says more research
is urgently required. Considering the available information, this is
clearly completely reasonable, and certainly not over the top. We are
currently waiting the two people who originally advised us on this to
return, and will further clarify or substantiate the briefing when we have
taken their further advice.

Should anything like this occur again, it would help us greatly if you
gave us references or directed us to your sources of information. It could
be that when knowledge is changing in an area, that there is different
information around and this may explain our differences on this subject.
As a general principle, however, we feel we should use the latest
published scientific information together with advice, which is exactly
what we have done.

Yours sincerely, Gundula Meziani

From: Susan Smith

Britain's Anti-Biotech Food Lobby Loses Some Bite
David Walker; Knight Ridder November 14, 2000

NORWICH, England--Those campaigning in Britain against genetically
engineered food could be forgiven for expecting the American Starlink corn
episode to further their cause.

The incident, however, seems to have been of limited value to them.
British activists have not been falling over one another to preach their
gospel that any food containing imported American corn is a health hazard.
Or that this "escape" was proof positive that, once this biotech genie was
out of the bottle, it was uncontrollable.

They have, of course, been successful in keeping the genetically modified
crops issue in the news through a variety of headline catching stunts such
as trashing trial plots and environmental test crops. They have also until
recently been aided and abetted by the major British supermarket chains,
which have used the promotion of GM-free foods in their fight for market

It is always possible that, even after more than 10 years of testing and
five years of commercial production elsewhere in the world, evidence will
be uncovered that will put an end to the debate. In Britain, nothing of
real significance has been unearthed by the activists during over two
years of headline news. The first of three years of field scale
environmental trials have been completed without any particularly damning
scientific evidence coming to light.

But the outcome is more likely to be decided by public perception of
scientific evidence than the actual facts. It will, of course, not be
scientists but politicians, with an eye on public opinion, who will
decide. Here things are less clear cut.

The British biotech industry is now faced with the onset of the silly
season, which will naturally precede the next British general election,
predicted by political pundits for the spring.

To date, the government has stuck by its science-based policy, much to the
frustration of the activists. The fear is that this might be abandoned in
the run up to an election to curry the support of the large percentage of
the population that is at least uneasy about genetic engineering.

On this issue, the U.S. experience with the Starlink incident is
paradoxically reassuring. From a British perspective, it was astonishing
that it never became a major issue in the U.S. presidential and
congressional election campaigns.

This should perhaps not have been a revelation, as environmental arguments
have not featured prominently in the ongoing British fuel taxes debate. It
is increasingly evident that while there is considerable depth in
individual conviction on the genetic engineering issue by some, its
breadth is not politically significant.

That the British government does not, for the moment, intend to be
stampeded by public opinion was evident by a House of Commons response by
the prime minister, Tony Blair, to a question relating to mad cow disease,
where there is also often a gap between public opinion and science. Blair
called for "informed public debate" on the balance between risk and public
protection across a range of subjects faced by government.

Opponents of this biotechnology have also been inhibited by the perception
they have created about the U.S. regulatory environment-- namely, that the
adoption of the technology in North America was only possible because of
minimal testing and regulation.

The Starlink episode has demonstrated the converse--a good understanding
of the potential allergy related food risk associated with Starlink, the
reason why it was only licensed for livestock feed and a sophisticated and
sensitive, though not perfect, regulatory environment.

But more interestingly, the Starlink episode has uncovered a change in the
attitude of British food retailers who in the past have played a major
role in popularizing the issue.

In the past, they have actively used GM-free food promotion in their
battle for market share. This weapon has been much less evident of late.
This may in part be the result of threatening noises from the newly set up
British Food Standards Agency about false GM-free claims by supermarkets
back in April.

This was followed in July by the British Advertising Standards Authority
upholding four out of five complaints regarding the merits of organic
food, including claims over taste, health, environmental and animal
welfare benefits. The implications of this are that, even if retailers can
justify GM-free labels, their promotional value is limited.

The current stance of supermarkets was, however, only tested when the
British cell of Friends of the Earth, copying their American counterparts,
announced they had found illegal genetically modified content in national
and store brand corn chips.

In view of the U.S. experience, when products were immediately withdrawn
from store shelves, it was surprising that the British supermarket chains
were not finessed.

Despite being warned by the Food Standards Agency of the consequences of
selling food products with unlicensed genetically engineered content, the
supermarkets chose not to remove the products. Rather, they challenged the
group to produce the evidence that was supposed to have been produced by
laboratory analysis in Germany.

The group has been slow in responding, but quick to move onto other
issues. The question now may be whether they will be charged with public

DAVID WALKER, an agricultural economist, lives on his family's farm
outside Norwich, England. He recently served as senior economist in London
for the Home-Grown Cereals Authority and previously was executive director
of the Alberta Grain Commission in Canada. He also maintains a Web site at
www.openi.co.uk. His views are not necessarily those of BridgeNews, whose
ventures include the Internet site www.bridge.com.

News Gavin Cordon, Whitehall Editor, PA News

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was cited as telling the European Bioscience
Conference in London yesterday that there are dangers of slipping into
"anti-science" attitudes which could rob Britain of the huge benefits of
new cutting-edge research and technology, ackowledging that there were
"legitimate concerns" about new technologies such as genetically modified
foods, but these should not prevent scientists carrying out research in
these areas.

Blair added that the Government would not tolerate "blackmail and
intimidation" by protesters who tried to wreck research projects, stating,
"There is a danger, almost unintentionally, that we become anti-science.
Our conviction about what is natural or right should not inhibit the role
of science in discovering the truth -- rather it should inform our
judgment about the implications and consequences of the truth science
uncovers. ... this Government will not tolerate blackmail, even physical
assault, by those who oppose it. To do so would be to give in to
intimidation. To stand by as a successful British science once more ends
up being manufactured abroad." He said he had an "open mind" on GM foods
and accepted there were legitimate concerns. He added however: "To make
heroes of people who are preventing basic scientific research taking place
is wrong. It is to substitute aggression for argument." said Mr Blair
needed to consider the impact of biotechnology, especially genetically
modified foods, on the environment.

Senior real food campaigner Pete Riley of Friends of the Earth was quoted
as saying, "The Government has gone to great lengths in the past to
support the development of GM crops -- against the wishes of the majority
of people in this country. They need to be sure of what they are doing,
and with this new and untested technology they are putting all their eggs
in one basket." But Mr Riley stressed that Friends of the Earth was not
"anti-science" and welcomed developments in medicine and other
biotechnology fields.
onference in Vancouver that advances in food
biotechnology offers one tool to help the world's malnourished and hungry
people, adding, "It disturbs me greatly that while many North Americans
ruminate on what developing countries need or don't need to address their
problems of malnutrition and starvation, every day 800 million people go
to bed hungry.''

Prakash was further cited as saying there is no single solution to this
very complex problem, but advances in agriculture biotech offers great
hope and he defended the industry's record and says it is stringently
regulated -- as it should be, stating, "Historically there has always been
anxiety about new science, especially when it comes to food which is often
seen as personal and sacred.''

Eileen Inrig, director of communication for BIOTECanada, was quoted as
saying in Canada, biotech foods have to pass stringent rules for Health
Canada, Environment Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and
that regulations governing so-called ``novel foods'' are more stringent
than those governing conventional foods and less than one per cent have
been deemed commercially viable.

(from Agnet archived


Chidambaram Subramaniam, India's 'Green' Rebel, 90, Dies

The New York Times November 10, 2000, Friday CELIA W. DUGGER NEW DELHI,
Nov. 9

Chidambaram Subramaniam, the political architect of the "green revolution"
in India, which made the nation self-sufficient in wheat production, died
Tuesday in Madras. He was 90.

Mr. Subramaniam employed his formidable skills as a political persuader
and administrator to spread the use of a new wheat variety to more than a
million Indian farmers in the mid-1960's, when he was minister for food
and agriculture. India had been heavily dependent on wheat imports, but
the green revolution produced sharp increases in harvests that enabled
India to better feed its rapidly growing population.

Mr. Subramaniam's singular achievement was to convince the prime minister
at the time, Lal Bahadur Shastri, and other political colleagues that
seeds for a wheat variety with dwarfing genes, which were developed by the
scientist Norman Borlaug in Mexico with support from the Rockefeller
Foundation, could transform Indian farming. Even with larger applications
of fertilizer to increase the number of grains on each stalk, dwarf wheat
could hold up grain, while the stalks of taller varieties broke.

Mr. Subramaniam's son, then just a boy, had to give up his cricket playing
field to help his father prove the new seeds would work in India. "Our
house in Delhi had five acres of land where I played cricket," his son, S.
S. Rajsekar, recalled today. "He found it difficult to convince his
colleagues that the Mexican wheat could be grown in Indian conditions. So
our lawns were converted into wheat fields overnight." His father talked
Prime Minister Shastri into supporting a major new program to sell the
hybrid seeds, fertilizers and pesticides at heavily subsidized prices.
"Subramaniam in effect created the entire subsidy system for farmers,"
said V. Balaji, a researcher at the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation
in Madras.

Mr. Swaminathan, a plant geneticist who established the foundation and the
scientific brains behind the green revolution in India, credited Mr.
Subramaniam -- affectionately known as C. S. -- with India's success in
raising its wheat crop to 17 million tons in 1968, from 10 million in

"The steps C. S. took helped Indian farmers to achieve in a period of four
years the same amount of progress witnessed during the preceding 4,000
years," Mr. Swaminathan wrote today in The Indian Express.