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February 15, 2001


Ingo, Carson, BT spray dangerous, ISAAA award, Backpacker,


Wow, what a response from Ingo!!!!!



Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2001 11:41:35 -0600
From: Tom DeGregori

RE: From: Chuck Benbrook Subject: Unfair to
Rachel Carson

Reply by Tom DeGregori


Rachel Carson would not have favored Bt corn. After all, this is the same
Rachel Carson about whom I have written the following:

"Rachel Carson, in her highly influential book, Silent Spring (seen by
friends and foes alike, as the founding treatise of the modern
environmental movement), compares the "endless stream of synthetic
insecticides" to the "simpler inorganic insecticides" of pre-World
War II days. The latter were "derived from naturally-occurring minerals
and plant products, compounds of arsenic, copper, lead, manganese, zinc
and other minerals, pyrethrum from dried leaves of chrysanthemums,
nicotine sulfate from some of the relatives of tobacco." The "new
synthetic insecticides" are set apart from the earlier "naturally
occurring" ones by their "enormous biological potency" and their "immense
power not merely to poison but to enter the most vital processes of the
body and change them in sinister and often deadly ways" (Carson 1962, 5).
The reader of Silent Spring might take this to be extremely naive
endorsement of the earlier pesticides. Carson does go on throughout the
book to indicate the dangers of arsenic and lead, but the above statement,
even in context, either gives the farmer no choices in protecting his crop
or would favor using the more "natural" pesticides, as they are allegedly
less potent and less insidious in the dangers that they

Yes Chuck, you are right on this one. Anyone who would prefer arsenic and
lead among other natural products to synthetic pesticides like DDT for
which there is yet no evidence of any harm to humans, would unlikely be so
rational as to favor Bt corn. May I add though, that
of all the opponents of Bt corn, you certainly present arguments that
force us to stop and think about them. Have you have stopped and thought
about the fact that the level of discourse in which you engage us as
vastly more rational, measured and based on science and
fact than that of those with whom you agreed?

Think about that Chuck, maybe you ought to defect and join us?

Thomas R. DeGregori, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
Department of Economics
University of Houston
Houston, Texas 77204-5882
Ph. 001 - 1 - 713 743-3838
Fax 001 - 1 - 713 743-3798
Email trdegreg@uh.edu
Web homepage http://www.uh.edu/~trdegreg

Date: Feb 15 2001 17:55:29 EST
From: "Kershen, Drew L"
Subject: Bt plants and resistance

Reports from entomologists in Mississippi (Michael Caprio), Arizona
(Bruce Tabashnik), and Australia (Rick Roush) indicate that there has been
no increased insect resistance since the introduction of Bt-crops into
their geographic regions. I cite these reports in my article THE RISKS OF
GOING NON-GMO that will be in print in about three weeks. As Andrew Apel
correctly stated, the only know insect resistance to Bt comes from
Bt-sprays. Bt crops, following the high dose and refugia strategy, are
doing precisely what our Finnish correspondent stated, in theory and in
practice, reducing the selection pressure for insect resistance to Bt as a


Drew L. Kershen
Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law
University of Oklahoma College of Law
Norman, Oklahoma 73019-5081 U.S.A.
Ph.: 1-405-325-4784
FAX: 1-405-325-0389

Date: Feb 16 2001 00:55:35 EST
From: Roger Morton
Subject: One more reason why Bt crops more safe than Bt sprays

One more reason why Bt crops are more safe than Bt sprays

GM crops with Bt genes are many times safer than crops with Bt sprays
(which must be very safe themselves because organic farmers have been
using them for years - and the organic industry is very interesed in
protecting farmers and consumers health).

What is the evidence for this? This is based on the fact that there are
reported cases of food poisoning (2) and human infections (3) from Bt
sprays and none from Bt crops.

It is impossible to catch an “infection” from a Bt crop because such a
crop only has one gene from a pathogen. In contrast crops sprayed with Bt
have thousands of genes from a pathogen. In fact they have
nearly all the genes from the pathogen that causes Anthrax (1) – a
pathogen that is reported to have been used by Sadam Hussein.

Yes Bt crops contain a single Bt toxin. This is the toxin that is active
against insects but not mammals. In contrast Bt sprays carry both the Bt
toxin that is active against insects but also another toxin called
enterotoxin and this is the toxin that causes food poisoning symptoms in
mammals. As far back as 1997 scientists had cloned the gene for
enterotoxin and have suggested that the gene
should be removed from Bt sprays by genetic engineering to “eliminate a
human health concern” (6). However, as I understand it, this has not
happened. As I also understand it, if it did happen, the organic food
industry would not be able to use this safer alternative form of Bt
because of the ban on the use of “genetically modified orgnanisms” in
organic food production.

According to Carrie Swadener.(3) from the Northwest Coalition for
Alternatives to Pesticides, Eugene, OR. “a man working on a spray program
splashed B.t.k. on his face and eyes. He then developed skin irritation,
burning, swelling, and redness. B.t.k. was cultured from a sample taken
from his eye. Ground-spray applicators using Foray
48B reported symptoms of eye, nose, throat, and respiratory irritation.
The frequency of their complaints was found to be related to the degree of
exposure. Workers with similar preexisting health problems were more
likely to report adverse effects from the ground

“Human volunteers suffered from nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, colic-like
pains, and fever after eating food contaminated with one B.t. strain, B.t.
var. galleriae. This indicates the close relationship between B.t. and
disease-causing pathogens. “

“Feeding studies of pure Bt toxin to mammals show no ill health effects
indicating that the toxic effects of B.t. sprays are due to the fact that
the spray is a live spore producing organism”

There is no confirmed evidence that any insect has developed field
resistance to any Bt crop so far (5) despite the crops being used for 4
years. In contrast there is definite evidence of field resistance to the
foliar B.t sprays used by the organic industry (4).

Professor Joe Cummins (who is a co-author on some publications with
M.-W.Ho whom many of you will know from ISIS) has this to say on this web
site http://www.vcn.bc.ca/stop/warning.html:

Bt May Cause Toxic Shock and/or Anthrax outbreak.

"... government and public health officials should be horse whipped if
they allow the aerial spray in a populated area. Old animal holding cites
such as Fort Lawton would have anthrax spores in the
soil from before 1914 and Bt would mobilize anthrax. Anthrax is the Gulf
War biotoxin. Bt shouldn't be allowed near such sites."
---END Cummins Quote---------


In conclusion the Bt sprays are not substantially equivalent to the GM
crop form of Bt. The spayed form is much more dangerous and should
possibly be banned under the precautionary principle – until it can be
proved to be at least as safe as the GM form of the Bt. Or if this is
unacceptable the FDA and EPA should mandate that only enterotoxin deleted
strains (genetically engineered) be allowed to be used in any agriculture.


1. Helgason,E., Okstad,O.A., Caugant,D.A., Johansen,H.A., Fouet,A.,
Mock,M., Hegna,I., Kolsto,A.B., 2000. Bacillus anthracis, bacillus cereus,
and bacillus thuringiensis-One species on the basis of genetic evidence.
Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 66, 2627-2630.

Abstract: Bacillus anthracis, Bacillus cereus, and Bacillus
thuringiensis are members of the Bacillus cereus group of bacteria,
demonstrating widely different phenotypes and pathological effects. B.
anthracis causes the acute fatal disease anthrax and is a potential
biological weapon due to its high toxicity. B. thuringiensis produces
intracellular protein crystals toxic to a wide number of insect larvae and
is the most commonly used biological pesticide worldwide. B. cereus is a
probably ubiquitous soil
bacterium and an opportunistic pathogen that is a common cause of food
poisoning. In contrast to the differences in phenotypes, we show by
multilocus enzyme electrophoresis and by sequence analysis of nine
chromosomal genes that B. anthracis should be considered a lineage of B.
cereus. This determination is not only a formal matter of taxonomy but may
also have consequences with respect to virulence and the potential of
horizontal gene transfer within the B. cereus group

2. Jackson,S.G., Goodbrand,R.B., Kasatiya,S., 1995. Bacillus cereus and
Bacillus thuringiensis isolated in a gastroenteritis outbreak
investigation. Letters in Applied Microbiology 95, 103-105.

Abstract: During investigation of a gastroenteritis outbreak in a chronic
care institution, Norwalk virus was found in stool specimens from two
individuals and bacterial isolates presumptively identified as Bacillus
cereus were isolated from four individuals (including one with Norwalk
virus) and spice. Phage typing confirmed all Bacillus clinical isolates
were phage type 2. All clinical isolates were subsequently identified as
B. thuringiensis when tested as a result
of a related study (L. Leroux, personal communication). Eight of 10 spice
isolates were phage type 4. All B. cereus and B. thuringiensis
isolates showed cytotoxic effects characteristic of enterotoxin-producing
B. cereus. An additional 20 isolates each of B. cereus and B.
thuringiensis from other sources were tested for cytotoxicity. With the
exception of one B. cereus, all showed characteristic
cytotoxic patterns

3. Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t). Journal of Pesticide Reform 14, 13-20.

4. Ferre,J., Real,M.D., Van Rie,J., Jansens,S., Peferoen,M., 1991.
Resistance to the Bacillus thuringiensis bioinsecticide in a field
population of Plutella xylostella is due to a change in a midgut
membrane receptor. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci U. S. A 88, 5119-5123.
Abstract: The biochemical mechanism for resistance to
Bacillus thuringiensis crystal proteins was studied in
***a field population of diamondback moths *** (Plutella xylostella) with
a reduced susceptibility to the bioinsecticidal spray. The toxicity and
binding characteristics of three crystal proteins [CryIA(b), CryIB, and
CryIC] were compared between the field population
and a laboratory strain. The field population proved resistant (greater
than 200-fold compared with the laboratory strain) to CryIA(b), one of the
crystal proteins in the insecticidal formulation. Binding studies showed
that the two strains differ in a membrane receptor that recognizes
CryIA(b). This crystal protein did not bind to the brush-border membrane
of the midgut epithelial cells
of the field population, either because of strongly reduced binding
affinity or because of the complete absence of the receptor molecule. Both
strains proved fully susceptible to the CryIB and CryIC crystal proteins,
which were not present in the B. thuringiensis formulation used in the
field. Characteristics of CryIB and CryIC binding to
brush-border membranes of midgut epithelial cells were virtually identical
in the laboratory and the field population


6. Asano,S.-I., Nukumizu,Y., Bando,H., Iisuka,T., Yamamoto,T., 1997.
Cloning of novel enterotoxin genes from Bacillus cereus and Bacillus
thuringiensis. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 63, 1054-1057.

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

From: "Wambugu, Florence"
Subject: GDN Metal Award - Press Release

Below is a press release annoucing a first place medal award to ISAAA
facilitated tissue culture banana project "Biotechnology to Benefit
Small-scale Banana Producers in Kenya". The project enjoyed this unique
distinction in December 2000 when it was awarded the coveted first place
in the Medal Prize Award at the Global Development Network (GDN)
Conference in Japan, an initiative of the World Bank and the Japan
Government. The awards recognize projects that make outstanding
contributions to research and development. The Project was awarded first
prize and selected from 500 projects worldwide.

Kind Regards,
Florence Wambugu

First Place Global Development Network (GDN) Medal Awarded to
ISAAA-Facilitated Kenyan Agricultural Biotechnology Project

Nairobi - The Global Development Network (GDN), a World Bank initiative,
awarded the International Service for the Acquisition of
Agri-biotechnology Applications (ISAAA) facilitated project "Biotechnology
to Benefit Small-scale Banana Producers in Kenya" first place medal and a
cash award of $10,000 under one of the five GDN's categories. A
collaborative effort between public/private sector institutions:- the
Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), the Institute of Tropical
and Sub-tropical Crops (ITSC) of South Africa, and two private companies
DuRoi laboratories (SA) and Genetic Technologies Limited (GTL) - Kenya,
the project is delivering tissue-cultured banana plantlets to Kenyan
farmers, who are doubling and even tripling their banana yields. These
gains are changing the lives of poverty-stricken banana farmers, most of
whom are women, by increasing food supplies and incomes. "We are very
pleased that our facilitated project to help African banana farmers was
recognized," stated Dr. Florence Wambugu, Director of ISAAA AfriCenter.
"It sends a message that everyone needs to hear: agricultural
biotechnology works in developing countries. Farmers here desperately want
access to these new technologies, and we must do all that we can to
include them in this agricultural revolution." The Banana project is
funded by the International Development Research Center (IDRC) of Canada
and the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) of USA.

GDN Medals are awarded by a distinguished international committee, whose
members include Nancy Birdsall of the Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace and Amartya Sen of Cambridge University. The awards recognize
projects that make outstanding contributions to research on development.
Selected from over 500 entries, semi-finalists were invited to present
papers describing their projects at the Global Development Network
Conference in Tokyo, Japan, held December 10-14, 2000. The paper was
awarded a first prize medal in the category of "Science and Technology for
Development." Awards were based on the "degree of innovation and the
quality of content" and were announced by Japan's Minister of Finance.
Information about the GDN prize can be found at

ISAAA is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to
contribute to poverty alleviation by increasing crop productivity and
income generation, particularly for resource-poor farmers, and to bring
about a safer environment and more sustainable agricultural development.
ISAAA's objectives are the transfer and delivery of appropriate
biotechnology applications to developing countries and the building of
partnerships between institutions in the South and the private sector in
the North, and the strengthening South-South collaboration.

For more information on ISAAA, write to isaaa@isaaa.org or visit our web
site at http://www.isaaa.org

Dr. Florence Wambugu Or David P. Alvarez
Director, ISAAA AfriCenter Director of Administration, ISAAA
Phone:+254-2-632054 Phone: +1-607-255 1724
Fax:+254-2-630005/631599 Fax: +1-607-255 1215
E-Mail: F.Wambugu@cgiar.org E-Mail: dpa1@cornell.edu

From: Mike Ernest
Subject: Re: Social Responsibility --
To: agbioview-owner@listbot.com

I have been following this list for a short time and found it provocative.
I am a medical physician from Tanzania studying in the United States.
This biotechnology debate and the challenges by "green" groups requires
more input from peoples in the
developing world who can speak of our important food and agricultural
needs and not have people like Greenpeace or American corporations (such
as Whole Foods) speak for us.

Reading an outdoor magazine, "Backpacker," this month, I find a disturbing
advertisement from a company called Patagonia. The company makes claims
(false if everything I read from the various science journals is true)
claiming biotechnology is dangerous to humans and butteflies.

This company promotes their "organic" cotton products as an alternative.
In the southern regions of Tanzania, where I am from, and in Mozambique
the governments told people to stop cultivating cotton because of problems
controlling insects. We cannot farm cotton organically or conventionally
due to these concerns. Biotechnology-improved cotton, which according to
your U.S. Department of Agriculture, has reduced the needs for chemical
insecticides by millions of gallons, would enable us to grow cotton
again in a manner safe for the environment and good for our local economy.

The full-page ad by Patagonia has a scary picture of a dying Monarch with
the caption: Killer Pollen. The ad, text is noted below.

In addition, Patagonia's web site makes scary claims of biotechnology
(they use the word "frankfood" and "franken trees") with no direct
evidence of harm and directs their customers to web sites run by groups
cited by Dr. Smetacek (Greenpeace, Natural Law Party,
etc..) Patagonia uses their web site to ask visitors to lobby government
agencies to ban biotech. I have copied their web site content below as

While it may not make a difference to Patagonia or Backpacker, I believe
scientists and health professionals should let them know about the
misleading nature of their ads. Backpacker, is a publication of Rodale's
Organic -- unfortunately, as I have learned on this discussion group, they
too share the same public relations firm (Fenton Communications) and
public positions attacking biotechnology as do Whole Foods, Patagonia and
the others listed by Dr. Smetacek.

I have copied the editor at Backpacker magazine "editor@backpacker.com" so
they can review their advertising policy with regard to the misleading
nature of Patagonia's message. According to their masthead, their
advertising manager is a Mr. Nicholas Freedman at
nicholas.freedman@rodale.com. I have
copied him as well. Patagonia lists "John Sterling" as responsible for
their environmental policies. His email address is

Please consider sharing any other scientific and personal views with these
people. It may help change their positions on this important issue.

Text of PATAGONIA AD IN February edition of

"Killer Pollen!"


Unintended consequences: DDT nearly wiping out pelicans, massive radiation
leaks at Chernobly, butterflies killed by genetically modified corn. The
list of environmental damage caused by new
technologies is long. With genetic engineering unleashed on the world the
list may grow much, much longer. Don't let genetic engineering become our
next environmental disaster. Find out more at


Photo: Jim Arneson (c) Patagonia Inc.
Circle 89 on the Reader Service Card

Patagonia's web site makes even strong claims attacking biotechnology:

Why Patagonia? Why now?
by John Sterling
I once followed a pick-up truck down the dirt road that leads to my
favorite ishing hole on the Deschutes River in Oregon. On it was a bumper
sticker that read "Cows Kill Salmon." I pictured a bovine predator
streamside stalking its salmonid prey. But as I drove
on, mulling over the slogan, I made some connections. Cows don't eat
salmon. They trample riverside habitat, which muddies precious clean
gravel beds that salmon need to lay heir eggs. "Cows Kill Salmon" was
the message, but the lesson is: everything is connected.

Everything is connected. Patagonia has fought for 25 years to protect wild
forests and salmon streams, and to stop pesticide spraying on
agricultural lands. Each of these habitats affects the other. Now
we face an environmental menace that threatens them all. That menace is
genetic engineering: the scientific process of forever altering wild
organisms by rewriting their genetic code. Supporters say
genetic engineering may cure some diseases and increase farm efficiency,
but at what cost? Eminent scientists warn that genetically modified
organisms should stay in the laboratory until we know how they will affect
human health and the environment. Industry
has ignored this warning.

One-third of the corn and half the soybeans grown in the U.S. are
genetically modified. Much of the food you buy contains genetically
engineered ingredients: sodas, milk, baby food. These products are not
labeled, and nobody knows what hidden effect their genetic modifications
might have on human beings.

At the same time, nobody knows what will happen when those industrial
mutants interact with native wild animals and plants. This unregulated
manipulation of nature is a dark threat to the essence of what is wild...

Point: A decade ago we learned that farmers used dozens of different
pesticides and defoliants to grow the cotton that we used in oursportswear.

So, we committed to using only organically grown cotton. But genetically
modified crops present a threat more menacing than chemical applications.
A Cornell University entomologist recently found that monarch butterfly
larvae that ate pollen from genetically engineered corn died within days.
As we speak, farmers are growing crops that could kill dependent species.

What happens when wind carries toxic corn pollen into neighboring habitat?
Nobody knows. Yet the USDA has considered allowing genetically engineered
products to be labeled as organic. We cannot allow industry to force
genetically engineered products into the market and our environment
without knowing what will happen
when these altered organisms interact with the wild. Science, says Huston
Smith, "only measures those aspects of reality we can control, leaving out
all those aspects of reality that are beyond our ability
to control." Science cannot measure how genetic engineering will impact
uncontrollable wildness. And we desperately need that wildness to keep our
hubris in check. When faced with the enormity of
Nature, I feel humble.

I feel relieved that I can't understand everything about wild nature,
norshould I try. I cannot control Nature, but it is a great honor to seek
and find my place in its wild plan. Genetic engineering
represents an attempt to cast off humility and to rewrite Nature's plan.
This is arrogance of the worst kind.

John Sterling is the environmental programs director at Patagonia.

Don't Domesticate Wild Nature Take Action! We must protect wild nature
from the unknown effects of genetically modified organisms. Patagonia
believes that these organisms should be considered
harmful until proven otherwise, and should therefore remain in the
laboratory to avoid contact with the wild. Please write to the Food and
Drug Administration commissioner ( www.fda.gov
<http://www.fda.gov/> ) AND the U.S. Department of Agriculture (
www.usda.gov <http://www.usda.gov/> ); tell them that genetically
engineered food ingredients or crops should not be allowed on the market
or into the wild unless:

1) Independent safety testing demonstrates they have
no harmful effects on human health or the environment,

2) They are labeled to ensure the consumer's right to
know, and

3) The biotechnology corporations that manufacture
them are held responsiblefor any harm these organisms

Go Organic! Only certified organic food is guaranteed
to be free of genetically engineered ingredients.

Genetically Engineered Food Alert www.gefoodalert.org
Center for Food Safety www.centerforfoodsafety.org
Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet
Organic Consumers Association www.purefood.org
Greenpeace True Food Network www.truefoodnow.org

Understanding human life to be but one form among all
others is the world view that underpins our argument
against GMO proliferation. In his essay, "The
Essence of Wild," Jack Turner shares his musings on
our role in the community of living organisms.

Date: 13 Feb 2001 19:43:51 -0000 Top of Form 1 &&
From: Duane Jeffery |
Subject: correction, concern Bottom of Form 1

A correction and concern re. recent posts:

1. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy is not caused by a virus, as
indicated in one of our posts. The infective agent carries no nucleic
acid as viruses must. Rather it appears to be a prion, a mis-shaped

2. It is indeed of interest that the human genome contains many genes
apparently obtained originally from bacteria and viruses. But in the
interest of maintaining credibility, let us not make too much of that
fact; we clearly are subject to a sampling bias. It is conceivable that
such horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in the past did indeed cause some
pretty huge catastrophes, and we won't see the results of that; the
'evidence' is long gone. We will see only those transfers that have
survived to the present; we cannot insist that the process has uniformly
been either benign or beneficial. Like everything else in evolutionary
biology, it may have carried considerable cost.

Date: 16 Feb 2001 08:36:26 -0000
From: Red Porphyry
Subject: Re: AGBIOVIEW: A Not Happy Soybean Farmer

Advocates of ag biotech don't need to get out into the U.S.
countryside to know what's happening to the family farm in the U.S.
Everyone knows it's dying out. The point of ag biotech is to increase
crop yields, not save the family farm. As the StarLink fiasco showed,
family farmers can't be counted on to properly follow the complex
procedures needed to grow GM foods. The proper venues for GM foods in
developed countries are large corporate farms and plantations that
use hired agricultural workers for labor and modern industrial
managerial practices for organization. This is necessary in order to
ensure that all procedures are followed correctly and rigorous
quality control standards are maintained. Given the triumph of this
new paradigm in U.S. agriculture, trying to enlist ag biotech
advocates to help "save the family farmer" makes about as much sense
as trying to enlist them to help "save the buggy whip industry". It's
not going to happen. Simple as that.


Date: 16 Feb 2001 08:06:09 -0000
To: AgBioView
From: Red Porphyry
Subject: Re: AGBIOVIEW: Whole Foods and Unions, Biotech Quislings
There's no question that John Mackey, the founder and owner of Whole
Foods opposes labor unions. He has repeatedly and gleefully stated
this publicly. However, I think it's unwise for pro-biotech
scientists and biotech advocates to hold this particular view of his
against him, particularly given their own resolutely anti-union and
generally pro-business political opinions. It's entirely appropriate
for pro-biotech scientists and biotech advocates to condemn Mackey
for being anti-ag biotech, but condemning him for opposing unions is
over the top. Pro-biotech scientists and biotech advocates are loyal
and faithful friends of business--and so is John Mackey. The AFL-CIO
is not.

What should be of more concern to the members of this list is the
willingness of certain well-known biotech companies to offer "GMO
test kits" for sale (use Google to search for "GMO test kits" to see
all the sordid details). By selling such kits, these biotech
companies are willfully strengthening the hand of those who claim
that genetic modifications of food crops are "pollution" and
"contamination". Can anyone say Vidkun Quisling?