You can win $1,000 just for writing to the EPA about the safety of
Starlink corn. It will take less than a minute and please go ahead!
Subj: Re: AGBIOVIEW: Feeding or controlling burgeoning population? From:
I'm not entirely clear what Mary Ellen Jones is talking about - or quite
how serious she is - but I'd like to make a couple of comments.
I've heard a lot of people respond in this way to the idea of
biotechnology improving agriculture in developing countries, and it always
seems seems like a slightly more sophisticated version of "Why don't the
poor simply control themselves (like us) and have less children?" I've
even heard people say that starvation in poor countries is a mechanism for
controlling overpopulation. It's nasty rubbish. Hunger and birth control
are intertwined, along with culture. If people are confident about their
future, then perhaps they can start to think about other stuff. And if you
can feed your family, it may not matter how big it is. If people in the
west honestly think they are morally superior consumers because they
'choose' to have one child or no children, they are deluding themselves.
Rather than telling other countries to stop reproducing, perhaps we should
just tell Americans to eat less.
Subj: Re: AGBIOVIEW: Feeding or controlling burgeoning population? From:
Dear Mary Ellen,
You are absolutely right that too many people on the planet is one of the
reasons resources are stretched to their limit (the other being excessive
use of them by ourselves - middle class westerners). However the
estimations on population levels by 2050 are based on the fact that
populations seem to be self-limiting when a certain degree of wealth is
achieved. Australia's population would now be falling if we had no
immigration. Surely then if we can defeat poverty in less developed
countries the population crisis will lessen. If, as predicted, it
stabilizes at 8 to 10 billion we will finally have achieved a measure of
sustainable development. If this is the case then we only need to find
some way of feeding the extra 3 to 4 billion in the next 50 years. I'm
sure biotechnology will achieve this if it is given a chance.
However there are potential uses for biotechnology other than basic
sustenance. Disease will always be with us and foods that are better
nutritionally will play a major role in promoting the health of future
generations (eg oils containing perfect combinations of healthy oils,
foods with perfect amino acid balance, and maybe even the elimination of
the need to kill and butcher our fellow animals).
At a deeper level the understanding of how genomes function combined, with
ever more sophisticated manipulation of molecules and bioinformation may
finally eliminate many diseases and ease human suffering. Surely this is
It has not been shown, throughout the entire span of human history, that
people can be successfully manipulated to reduce population. It is clear
that people voluntarily do so when they reach a certain (I guess yet to be
decided) level of security and wealth. Biotechnology can reduce the level
of subsistence farming and this is the first step towards security in a
sophisticated society (this is why many third world farmers plant cash
The views expressed here are entirely my own and in no way reflect those
of my employer (who don't have a view).
Subj: Re: AGBIOVIEW: Rotenone
From: "John W. Cross"
To: "Gundula Meziani"
Dear Mr. Meziani:
Please identify the synthetic pesticides that you claim have the same mode
of action as Rotenone (check your spelling). Other pesticides that also
affect the mitochondria via a different mechanism should not count. If you
can't, I think you should stop making these arguments.
At 04:07 PM 11/18/2000 +0000, you wrote:
>Subj: Re: Rotenone
>From: "Gundula Meziani"
>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
From: Francis Wevers
Subject: Greenpeace reaction to Greenpeace founder giving evidence to RCGM
Dirty tricks call as defector flies to GM inquiry
NZ Herald 19.11.2000
A former founder of Greenpeace who has since become a vocal critic of
environmentalists is being paid to come to New Zealand to testify before
the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification. Greenpeace is accusing the
pro-GE Life Sciences Network of using "dirty tactics" by flying Dr Patrick
Moore from Canada to appear before the commission this month.
"Moore has no credibility in respect of genetic engineering," said
Greenpeace spokeswoman Annette Cotter. "The sole purpose in bringing him
here seems to be to paint the environmental movement in an unsavoury
light." After almost 10 years at the forefront of high-profile Greenpeace
campaigns on whaling and sealing, Dr Moore defected to become an outspoken
supporter of clearfelling forests in British Columbia.
He has so enraged environmental groups that they have devoted a website to
him, which includes personal attacks. Dr Moore left Greenpeace in 1984
after what the organisation calls "internal disagreements," and set up an
alternative environmental group called Greenspirit.
The 53-year-old has said the GE debate is being influenced by "pagan
beliefs and junk science," and believes the tide is turning against the
"anti-science extremist element" among environmentalists.Life Sciences
executive director Francis Wevers defended bringing Dr Moore here by
saying the GE debate was not just about science."It's an ethical issue,
it's an economic issue . . . and Patrick Moore has been saying important
things about this debate for a long time."
The network, an umbrella organisation of at least 30 industry and science
groups that support genetic engineering, was paying airfares,
accommodation and "a very small grant" to bring nine overseas witnesses
here, Mr Wevers said. "You can't expect people to take that sort of time
and not pay them something."
The organisation's budget for the hearings was "internal information," he
said.Network membership cost $3500 a year.Ms Cotter said Life Sciences was
"throwing huge resources and time" into the hearings."It seems the burden
of proof is on the anti-GE groups. There's no way we can compete with the
kind of resources they have," she said.
Greenpeace was bringing four expert witnesses from overseas and was paying
airfares and accommodation for three of them. The commission has been
asked by the Government to investigate where New Zealand should stand on
genetic technology and must deliver its report by next June.
Patrick Moore will give a public address in Wellington on Tuesday 28
November at 5.30 pm in the Urban Crank Theatrette (formerly BP Theatrette)
in BP House, 20 Customhouse Quay, Wellington.
Bt corn Monarch fears overblown: Risks low to butterflies according to new
Saturday, November 18, 2000 Minneapolis Star Tribune By Sharon Schmickle
CHICAGO -- Fears that genetically modified (GM) corn is killing monarch
butterflies are not supported by new research, scientists reported this
week at a national meeting in which they shared results of their
The research represents the first comprehensive review of risks to the
butterfly where they matter -- on farms and near country roads and
forests. Most previous research had been done in laboratories.
The outcome of these new studies is expected to influence decisions about
the varieties that farmers can plant of one of Minnesota's biggest crops.
They also provide important information about the well-being of the
monarch, which the Minnesota Legislature designated this year as the state
butterfly. The researchers stress, however, that their results are
preliminary and still under review by other experts.
Comparisons of butterfly survival in conventional cornfields and in plots
of GM corn turned up no significant differences in Minnesota, Iowa,
Maryland, Michigan and southern Ontario near Guelph, scientists said at
the workshop organized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
"If there are any differences out there, they aren't very profound," said
Richard Hellmich, a USDA research entomologist at Iowa State University in
Indeed, the monarchs fared better at the edges of one Minnesota GM
cornfield than they did in a nearby wooded area, said William Hutchison,
an entomologist at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. Likely
explanations are that more predators lurked in the woods and that overall
conditions were more hospitable in the corn, he said.
While reassuring, the findings don't fully erase the concerns that erupted
in early 1999 when a study at Cornell University showed that monarch
caterpillars died after they were fed GM corn pollen in a laboratory.
Scientists said it is important to continue looking for more subtle
effects, such as whether the butterflies are weakened or produce smaller
progeny after eating pollen from the corn.
One reason for the continued caution is that -- contrary to assumptions
made by government regulators who set rules for the use of the crops --
the monarchs in the studies seemed to prefer cornfields to other areas for
laying eggs. In one Iowa study, the eggs found in cornfields outnumbered
those along country roadsides 7-1. Minnesota researchers reported similar
Scientists don't quite know the reason why. Karen Oberhauser, a monarch
expert at the University of Minnesota, said she won't relax about the
possible risk from the crop until the importance of cornfields to monarchs
is better understood.
The corn at issue is fortified with genes from a soil bacterium that is
lethal to corn borers, a major pest in farm fields. The bacterium,
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), produces a protein that ruptures cells in the
guts of borers, killing the insects. The Bt corn contains the protein
throughout the plant and in its pollen.
Humans, other animals and most insects don't have the specific receptors
to connect with the protein, so it doesn't affect them.
But because butterflies are closely related to the borers, it can kill
them if they eat enough of it. Following reports that butterfly
caterpillars did, indeed, die after they were fed Bt pollen in
laboratories, the USDA and an industry group awarded $200,000 in grants
for studies at several major research universities and private labs.
The studies focused on butterflies in the caterpillar stage, when they
feed on milkweed plants -- their sole source of food -- on which corn
pollen might land.
One finding is that pollen rarely collected on milkweed leaves in lethal
concentrations, and what did land on the leaves often was washed away by
rain or blown off by wind. The concentrations found in the Iowa studies
were too low to impose even minor effects on the monarchs, said Hellmich
at Iowa State.
The picture that is emerging from that aspect of the research is that
"this is not a very big issue," said Eldon Ortman, associate director of
agricultural research at Purdue University.
In one Minnesota study near Rosemount, researchers placed potted milkweed
plants at the edge of a cornfield, on a strip of soil around the field and
close to a nearby wooded area. They monitored caterpillars on the plants
and found no significant differences between those near Bt and non-Bt
corn, Hutchison said. But they were surprised to find that more
caterpillars died near the forest than near the corn.
Most of the Midwestern studies focused on field corn, which is used for
processing and animal feed. But in Maryland, researchers studied sweet
corn, which generally is heavily sprayed with synthetic insecticides as an
alternative to Bt corn. They found the caterpillars quickly died in
sprayed fields. But in non-sprayed fields, there was no difference between
Bt corn and the conventional varieties, said Galen Dively of the
University of Maryland in College Park.
President confers Indira peace prize on M S Swaminathan NEW DELHI, Nov 19
(Press Trust of India)
President K R Narayanan today conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace,
Disarmament and Development for 1999 on agriculture scientist Dr M S
Swaminathan for his outstanding contribution in the field of plant
genetics and ensuring food security to hundreds of millions of people in
the developing world. The award, carrying a cash prize of Rs 25 lakhs
($70,000) , was presented to Dr Swaminathan at a function held at the
Rashtrapati Bhawan on the occasion of the 83rd birth anniversary of the
late premier. Recalling the services of Ms Gandhi, the President said she
had assumed the office of the Prime Minister in 1966 when India was
leading literally what has been called a "ship to mouth existence".
But within five years of Ms Gandhi's assuming office, India proclaimed her
self-sufficiency in foodgrains, he said, adding "at the heart of this
success lay our strategy of focusing on agriculture". Mr Narayanan said Dr
Swaminathan was an integral part of this developmental effort and remained
in the forefront right from its beginning and was now spearheading a
movement towards what he calls the "evergreen revolution". He said the
scientist played a crucial role in stirring rural people and made Green
Revolution a farmers' movement.
Eulogising the services of Dr Swaminathan, Vice-President Krishan Kant
said today Indian agriculture was a proud and substantial contributor to
the growth of the country's economy.
"It has exhibited remarkable core-strength and resilience in standing up
to the challenge of global competition, lopsided patent laws and
intellectual property rights and increasing cost of input-resources", he
said. Stating that around 35 per cent of India's population was today
considered food-insecure, Mr Kant said, "if we are to be counted among the
key members of the international community, we have very little option but
to improve our agricultural productivity and, with that, make a decisive
dent on poverty". Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who is also the
Chairperson of Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust, said though India's public
distribution system was amongst the most widespread in the world, there
were many weaknesses in it that needed a review.
The liberalisation of trade controls under the new WTO regime threatened
both farming and the food processing industry unless such liberalisation
was fine-tuned with care and all permissible safeguards were deployed in
an optimal manner, she cautioned. Accepting the award, Dr Swaminathan said
he believed that hunger and deprivation could be substantially reduced by
April 15, 2007, if the country launched a community-led food and water
security system with the help of elected local bodies. Stating that
biotechnology, space, nuclear, information and communication technologies
and energy technologies were impressive, he said, "if technology has been
a cause of economic and social inequity in the past, we now have an
opportunity for enlisting technology as an ally in the movement for
social, gender and economic equity".
"Modern information technology provides this opportunity. Knowledge and
skill empowerment can now be achieved at a fast pace, if we shift our
approach from patronage to one of genuine partnership with the poor in the
design of rural knowledge centres", Dr Swaminathan said.
Recalling his experiences, the scientist said imparting greater economic
value to the time and labour of the poor through technological and
knowledge empowerment should receive overriding priority.