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January 15, 2001


Pusztai, New technologies, GM rice,


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, hilighted 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 15 2001 21:47:52 EST
From: "Cory Bystrom"
Subject: new technologies with respect to GE


I've recently heard that "next generation" molecular biology technologies
will be capable of addressing some of the "negative" aspects of current GE
plants. For example, cloning strategies that would not require a
antibiotic selection step and inclusion of antibiotic resistance genes.

I was recently at a conference where a speaker discussed "non-transgenic"
transgenic plants. However, I can't remember any of the details. Can
anyone enlighten me with respect to some of these new technologies?


Cory Bystrom


GM rice 'best hope of feeding world'

The Daily Telegraph
By Charles Clover, Environment Editor
16 January 2001

THE best hope of feeding the world lies in genetically modified crops
because organic and other "sustainable" farming methods would not be able
to do the job, a conference at St James's Palace was told yesterday.

Professor Jules Pretty, of Essex University, an expert on organic farming
and "sustainable" agricultural methods, said it would be difficult to
tackle the malnutrition facing 800 million people without using
developments such as genetically modified rice with added vitamin A.

Professor Pretty, organiser of the conference on reducing poverty through
sustainable farming, said it was difficult to see how UN targets of
reducing world malnutrition by 2015 could be achieved without embracing
such technology.

He said: "Vitamin A rice will make a hell of a difference because these
people are suffering today and we can make a difference right away. It's
all very well to call for nice diverse diets but it will take us 20 years
to get there."

Dr Per Pinstrup-Andersen, of the International Food Policy Research
Institute in Washington, said a way of dealing most immediately with the
malnutrition facing the world's poor was to breed vitamin A and iron into
the foods they ate anyway.