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January 11, 2001


Pusztai, GM in India, Law, GM web site


One point that Roger didn't mention has baffled me: how can one leap to
the conclusion that a difference -- even a statistically-significant one
-- between intestinal weight with one variety versus another is evidence
of harm? Data are sparse, but I would hazard a guess that similar,
small differences could be found between different conventionally-bred
varieties of pea; perhaps even between different batches of the same
variety produced under varying field conditions.

A recent report on the concentration of beneficial compounds in broccoli,
that was summarized on Agnet, highlighted the extreme variability between
varieties and within a variety grown under different conditions. So,
given this natural range of variability, what basis is there for saying
that an observed difference in gut response observed in a feeding trial
between only two trial batches isn't within the normal range of
variability for innate characteristics of the plant rather than due to
some characteristic unique to the targetted (ie, suspect) variety?

This isn't to say that such differences between conventional varieties and
GM varieties do not exist; but data are too sparse to leap to the
conclusion that they do. So far, I haven't seen any convincing evidence
that would suggest these (except those specifically engineered to be
different) are anything but "substantially equivalent" in all important


Date: Jan 12 2001 10:50:39 EST
From: "Kershen, Drew L"
Subject: Pustzai-Morton exchange

Dr. Morton asked whether in the United States anybody producing a
food from genetically improved plants must present data of its safety
before the food may be marketed.

The answer, as Dr. Morton correctly surmised, is "YES"
(purposefully in capital letters). The FDA does use an approach to food
regulations which asks first whether the GMO food is substantially
equivalent. This FDA approach is fully endorsed in the following recent

FAO & WHO, Safety aspects of genetically modified foods of
plant origin (Geneva Switzerland, 29-May to 2 June 2000).

The document came from the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Foods
Derived from Biotechnology.

The documet is on the Internet at:


Best regards,


Drew L. Kershen
Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law
University of Oklahoma College of Law
300 Timberdell Rd.
Norman, OK 73019-5081 U.S.A.
Ph.: 01-405-325-4784
FAX: 01-405-325-0389

Engineering Crops in a Needy World


An excellent web site about India's impassioned debate over
genetically modified seeds.

Date: Jan 12 2001 09:40:09 EST
From: "Kershen, Drew L"
Subject: Website recommendation

Dear AgBioiView readers:

My research assistant, while browsing the Internet, found the
following fantastic website:


This site has significant amounts of information (primiarly legal)
about agriculture. I recommend it highly. The sponsor of the site is the
Washington, D.C. lawfirm of McLeod, Watkinson & Miller. It is an
exceptionally well-done, informational site.


Drew L. Kershen
Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law
University of Oklahoma College of Law
300 Timberdell Rd.
Norman, OK 73019-5081 U.S.A.
Ph.: 01-405-325-4784
FAX: 01-405-325-0389

January 12, 2001

Experts differ on GM foods at Bright Sparks

MUMBAI - "We must give people the right to choose. The Indian people must
decide for themselves whether they want GM foods or not," says Janet
Bainbridge, scientist at the University of Teeside, UK. Bainbridge is
Chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes an
independent body of experts which advises the UK government on novel

Bainbridge regrets the absence of this choice in her own country. The UK
government has imposed a complete ban on GMOs or genetically modified
organisms after canned foods suspected to contain GMOs found their way on
to store shelves all over the country.
GMOs are life forms- usually plants- genetically engineered to contain
characteristics like drought and salinity resistance, higher protein
content and so on. Companies like Monsanto of the US have invested huge
sums backing research in this area.

Currently, some six varieties of GM crops have been approved by the
British government only for the purpose of clinical trials. They have not
been commercialised. But Bainbridge believes the best way to deal with the
technology is to just make it available with adequate and reliable

"Nothing is one hundred per cent safe. But in the United States where GM
foods are freely consumed no adverse effects on health have been reported.
As for environmental safety, you can answer that question only by
performing the experiments," she says.

Bainbridge participated in a panel discussion on GM Foods organised by the
British Council as part of 'Bright Sparks', an annual festival of
Indo-British partnerships in science.
Fellow academician Tom Wakeford who also participated in the discussion
however differed from Bainbridge. Wakeford, a member of the London Centre
for Governance, Innovation and Science, says GM crops are the last thing a
developing country like India needs.

"GM crops could benefit the relatively prosperous farmer who can afford to
keep aside a portion of his land to try it out. But most farmers in India
are marginal. A marginal farmer would have to substitute his subsistence
crop with this," Wakeford says.

This would increase costs as GMOs come at a price, he said. They also
needed more intensive use of chemicals in the long term, he claimed.

Wakeford is actively involved with a non-governmental organisation
ActionAid which works with farmers in the areas of subsistence farming.
Dismissing the argument that GM crops would increase production, he said,
"there is enough food in the world, the problem is that of distribution
and the resources to access the food," he said.

Date: Jan 11 2001 13:51:29 EST
From: Susan Smith
Subject: New GM Web site needs your submissions

The following news release was emailed to me, I pass it along for what
it's worth. It sounds to me like there might be some interesting
possibilities here.


Announcing an educational Web forum about genetically modified foods for
teachers, scientists and concerned

Are you concerned about eating genetically modified
foods? Are you interested in learning more about the
issues? The appearance of genetically modified foods
(GMF) in the food supply has resulted in a firestorm
of public debate, scientific discussion, and media

For the first time in history, crops can be
specifically designed to be more frost or drought
tolerant, more nutritious, or less dependent on the
constant spraying of pesticides. Yet, a variety of
ecological and human health concerns come with the new
advances made possible by genetic modification.

Do you have a position in the GMF debate? Do you have
questions about GMF? Or are you an educator who wants
to teach about GMF in your classes?

The SCOPE Project would like to announce an on-line,
educational forum focused on the issues associated
with genetically modified foods. The SCOPE GMF Forum
is being designed to serve as a comprehensive learning
resource about genetically modified foods and the
underlying science associated with genetic

You can access the SCOPE GMF Forum at the following
location on the Web:


The SCOPE GMF Forum includes free access to:

* EMAIL LISTS dedicated to discussion of GMF
science and news,
* WEB-BASED CURRICULA on a range of GMF-related
* INSIGHTS about how students learn about GMF,
genetics, and scientific controversies,
* ORIGINAL COMMENTARIES from scientists about hot
GMF topics,
* POSITION STATEMENTS by major stakeholders about
aspects of the controversy,
* A REFERENCE DATABASE listing GMF research
publications, news articles, web sites, and

Teachers, scientists, and concerned citizens can make
use of the GMF resources provided and to join the
email list discussion groups. Using the educational
resources in the forum, students can explore the
actual scientific evidence, build arguments, and
debate about these issues in the classroom.

The web site and email lists are designed to
facilitate an even-handed exploration of the potential
risks, issues, and possibilities associated with GMF.
We encourage you to participate in this forum and let
us know what you would like to see included.

This is a design preview period for the SCOPE GMF
Forum. Additional educational resources will continue
to be added over the coming months.

The "Science Controversies On-Line: Partnerships in
Education" (SCOPE) Project is a research collaboration
between the College of Education at the University of
Washington, the Graduate School of Education at the
University of California-Berkeley, and the journal
SCIENCE published by the American Association for the
Advancement of Science (AAAS).

A central goal of the SCOPE project is to investigate
how new information technologies can promote better
understanding and communication of science at a
variety of levels, ranging from active primary
researchers to the public at large to middle school
students learning science.

Previously developed SCOPE Forums have focused on the
global decline of amphibian populations and the
treatment and control of malaria.

With funding provided by the National Science
Foundation (NSF), registration and access to the SCOPE
GMF Forum is free to all interested individuals.
Curriculum projects and activities can be used free of
charge in all classroom settings.

We welcome your feedback and suggestions for the GMF
Forum. Please send all comments and questions to
or call Dr.
Philip Bell at (206) 543-1846.