Home Page Link AgBioWorld Home Page
About AgBioWorld Donations Ag-Biotech News Declaration Supporting Agricultural Biotechnology Ag-biotech Info Experts on Agricultural Biotechnology Contact Links Subscribe to AgBioView Home Page

AgBioView Archives

A daily collection of news and commentaries on
ag-biotech.


Subscribe AgBioView Subscribe

Search AgBioWorld Search

AgBioView Archives

Subscribe

 


SEARCH:     

Date:

March 18, 2001

Subject:

How Much Rice to Eat?; Fate of DNA in Food; Unfair Coffee;

 

Following posting is from Dr. Peter Beyer of Germany, co-developer of
Golden Rice with Prof. Ingo Potrykus (Comments and modifications of
Potrykus incorporated below)
------
From: Peter Beyer

Dear friends and colleagues

Ingo asked me to send my tables on provitamin A amount.

All these tables do is to respond to sloppy thinking and over-simplistic
calculations made by opponents by another (probably) over-simplistic
calculation.

At the end, the message should be: let us peacefully do our work and
test the rice lines available plus develop new ones (which in part are
already growing).

All the best,

Peter Beyer
====

How much Golden Rice has a child to eat, to prevent vitamin A-deficiency?

- Here is a modification of a calculation from Peter Beyer.

Best regards,
Ingo Potrykus
-------
RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of vitamin A for children: 0.3 mg/day.

RAE (Retinol Activity Equivalence): conversion factor of provitamin A:

a) x12 : US Natl. Acad. Sci. Inst. of Medicine (IOM) January 9, 2001.
b) x 6 : FAO/WHO, 1988.
c) x 4 : Indian Council of Medical Research.

Current prototype Golden Rice lines contain 1.6-2.0 mg/g = 1.6-2 mg/kg

Assuming 100% bioavailability ( 50% bioavailability) leads to following
values:

A child would have to eat the following amount of Golden Rice per day to
meet the RDA requirement:

a) 1,800 - 2,250 g, (3,600 - 4, 500 g)

b) 900 - 1 125 g, (1,800 - 2, 250 g)

c) 600 - 750 g. (1,200 - 1 500 g)

However:
Nutritionists confirm that RDA represents a luxurious recommendation and
expect that 30-40% of RDA would successfully defeat mortality, morbidity,
and blindness.

a) 540 - 675 g, (1,080 - 1, 350 g)
b) 270 - 337 g, (540 - 674 g)
c) 180 - 225 g. (360 - 450 g)

And further:

Golden Rice is not supposed to provide 100% of the vitamin A-supply, but
to help surpassing the border line between malnutrition and sufficient
vitamin A supply by complementing other dietary components. According to a
rough estimation it should supply 50% of the daily intake (fortification
level: 25-30%, Natl. Nutritional Monitoring Board, Hyderabad).

a) 270 - 337 g, (540 - 674 g)
b) 135 - 168 g, (270 - 336 g)
c) 90 - 112 g. (180 - 224 g)

And further:

Golden Rice is at the "proof of concept" state and under further
development. We have carried out further transformations aiming at an
increase in the provitamin A content. An increase factor of 3-5 appears
feasible. Using a factor of 3 leads to:

a) 90 - 112, (180 - 224 g)
b) 45 - 56, (90 - 112 g)
c) 30 - 38. (60 - 76 g)

And further:

Golden Rice technology will be transferred into further basic food crops,
and thus probably contribute to further reduction in the amount of rice
necessary.

Reliable data will, of course, become available only from nutritional and
bioavailability studies with the Golden Rice varieties resulting from the
breeding efforts with the local breeding lines, and from field-grown
material. This requires undisturbed field experiments

Therefore:

What is already clear to date, is the fact, that the Greenpeace argument
that Golden Rice will not contribute to a solution of the vitamin
A-deficiency problem, and, therefore, does not pose a moral challenge to
the radical Greenpeace position against field release experiments with
Golden Rice, is not more than a fake argument to save a radical position.
The moral challenge gains additional weight because Greenpeace has, so
far, not presented any concrete scenario for an environmental hazard from
Golden Rice beyond the unsubstantiated notion that "release of transgenic
plants into the environment poses an unacceptable risk to the
environment". In view of the foreseeable benefit from Golden Rice,
Greenpeace can be expected to be a bit more concrete with its
environmental argument.

What is the risk from Golden Rice, which has no selective advantage in
whatever environment, and which produces just a few micrograms more of an
environmental neutral substance (b-carotene) in the endosperm, in addition
to the same substance being present in large quantities in all other parts
of the natural plant? How does such a (so far undefined, hypothetical)
risk compare to the expected benefit? I believe that the public has a
right to a more concrete answer from Greenpeace.

-Ingo Potrykus (and Peter Beyer)

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Response to Red Porphyry (AgBiovew 13/03/01) on cost of vitamin A
supplement and Golden Rice:

From: C Kameswara Rao

The estimate for an ideal requirement of the body (both as a coursce of
vitamin A and to serve as an antioxidant) of beta-carotene at 5 mg/day
comes from Greenwald, P., 1996. Chemoprevention of cancer. Sci. American,
275:96-99. The cost of purified betacarotene I quoted is actually a couple
of years old. Now it costs over US$200. Check Sigma catalogue 2000.

What is the parity of IU and SI Units such as micro- and milligram?
Betacarotene and vitamin A are not the same. Plants have a carotenoid
pool, a mixutre of different carotenoids. Only betacarotene is
physiologically economically as it yields two molecules of vitamin A per
molecule, in the liver. Alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin yield only
one molecule, while lycopene does not yield any vitamin A. Separating
beta-carotene from the others in the pool makes it expensive. Is it
possible to check how much of actual beta-carotene occurs in what passes
of as beta-carotene? Pills and capsules that contain very small
quantities of the active principle, contain other material to make the
body. Vitamin A and beta-carotene are not one and the same.

Nutritionists make a difference in the body's response to a compound
coming through diet and one is that is given as a chemical. The body
can absorb only a certain amount of chemical supplements
(neutraceuticals) and the rest is seen in the urine, the next day.
Supplying what is available on the market may seem cheaper than the
expenses of a research product. Like all medicines get cheaper over
time, the costs of GM products also will come down.

Making beta-carotene as an integral part of the staple grain is certainly
a better option. Golden rice can get on to the Public Distribution
System in countries like India, where it is subsidized. It is
impractical to supply nutraceuticals by the same route. If you provide
money for these, it will not be spent on it. A paltry 7.5 cents per
child/day to provide capsules does not seem much, but it is well over
Indian Rs. 30, which is a third or even half of daily wages (or even
worse) for most poor people. Then one needs some education to take
pills/capsules regularly and properly.

Dietary sources of nutritional supplements are a better option and Golden
Rice is an attractive option.

C Kameswara Rao

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

ON THE FATE OF PLANT OR OTHER FOREIGN GENES UPON THE UPTAKE IN FOOD OR
AFTER INTRAMUSCULAR INJECTION IN MICE

Molecular Genetics and Genomics 2001 March 17, 2001 (Via Agnet)
U. Hohlweg1 and W. Doerfler1, [Contact Information]
(1) Institute of Genetics, Department of Medical Genetics and Virology,
University of Cologne, Weyertal 121, 50931 K÷ln, Germany

Abstract. Uptake and persistence of the DNA of bacteriophage M13 and the
cloned gene for the green fluorescent protein (GFP) as test genes for
food-ingested DNA have previously been traced from the intestinal
contents, via the gut wall, Peyer's patches and peripheral white blood
cells to spleen and liver, and via the placenta to fetuses and newborn
animals. We have now chosen a natural scenario and fed soybean leaves to
mice. The distribution of the plant-specific, nucleus-encoded
ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase (Rubisco) gene has been studied in
the mouse. The Rubisco gene or fragments of it can be recovered in the
intestine from 2 h up to 49 h after feeding, and in the cecum up to 121 h
after ingestion. Thus, plant-associated, naturally fed DNA is more stable
in the intestinal tract than naked DNA. Rubisco gene-specific PCR products
have also been amplified from spleen and liver DNA.

There is no evidence for the expression of orally administered genes, as
assessed by the RT-PCR method. Moreover, mice have been continuously fed
daily with GFP DNA for 8 generations and have been examined for the
transgenic state by assaying DNA isolated from tail tips, occasionally
from internal organs of the animals, by PCR. The results have been
uniformly negative and argue against the germline transfer of orally
administered DNA. Upon the intramuscular injection of GFP DNA, authentic
GFP DNA fragments have been amplified by PCR from DNA from muscle for up
to 17 months post-injection, and from DNA from organs remote from the site
of injection up to 24 h post injection. GFP fragments can also be
retrieved from the intestinal contents up to 6 h post injection. The
organism apparently eliminates injected foreign DNA via the
liver-bile-intestinal route.

*-*-*-*-*-*-**-*-*-*-*-*-*

Coffee
From: Andrew Apel

Could Mr. Redick or any other attorney on this discussion list give us a
brief opinion on this? As many of you likely know, a coalition of
eco-reactionary groups plan to target Starbucks coffee shops across the US
and Canada on March 20.
(http://www.purefood.org/Starbucks/starbucks.html).

The activist groups include Friends of the Earth (FOE), Center for Food
Safety, Pesticide Action Network and Sustain
(http://www.purefood.org/Starbucks/links.htm). The activist groups, which
promote organic farming and scare consumers with hypothetical and
sometimes bizarre portrayals of the risks of GMOs, are demanding that the
company, among other things, eschew products with GM ingredients and
instead promote Fair Trade, shade-grown, organic coffee.

Ronnie Cummins, the head of the umbrella group Organic Consumers
Association (OCA), promised that this will be the largest consumer
campaign ever mounted against a major US food and beverage company and
warned that Starbucks will run a significant risk of damaging their
worldwide reputation and profitability unless the company capitulates
completely. This campaign against Starbucks will continue until they meet
all of our demands, Cummins said. If necessary we will extend this
campaign internationally to Europe and Asia.

The Minnesota-based OCA is linking the protest to Minnesota-based organic
coffee interests such as Peace Coffee
(http://www.peacecoffee.com), through which the anti-biotech Institute for
Agriculture and Trade Policy (http://www.iatp.org/) sells Fair Trade,
shade-grown, organic coffee, and Cloudforest Initiatives
(http://www.hwpics.com/cloudforest-mexico/), a Minnesota-based outfit
which also offers to sell such coffee
(http://www.hwpics.com/cloudforest-mexico fair_trade_products_coffee.htm).

The OCA alleges that genetically modified ingredients are present in
Starbucks products, and says those products are ýcontaminated.

This is not the first time coffee interests have targeted Starbucks.
(http://www.oregonlive.com/business/00/03/bz032506.html)

Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act governs many types of unfair competition
by forbidding... false descriptions or representations, in connection with
the sale of goods or services.
(http://www.seedandberry.com/competio.htm). Section 1125 of the act
(http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/15/1125.html) seems to require the
same, making it illegal to make any false or misleading representation of
fact, which... in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the
nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or
another person's goods...

In the 1995 case of Raybestos v. Younger, the US Court of Appeals (Seventh
Circuit) found that, as between competitors, defamation can constitute a
violation of both the Lanham Act and the Indiana Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute.

The law of unfair competition is primarily comprised of torts that cause
an economic injury...
(http://www.law.cornell.edu/topics/unfair_competition.html). Disparagement
and interference with the lawful business of Starbucks could be considered
at least as a tort, which is defined as unintentional violation of
another person's rights, usually due to negligence. It is different than a
crime, which generally is an intentional violation of another's rights. A
tort is subject to civil action and subsequent judgement for damages
payable to the wronged party, whereas a crime is subject to criminal
action and subsequent penalty.
(http://www.lcgroup.com/explanations/tort.htm)

There are, however, intentional torts resulting in economic harm which the
law recognizes. (http://www.lectlaw.com/def/i084.htm) Note that the OCA
has threatened economic harm to Starbuck's.

My questions are:

1. If the OCA carries through with its threats, will a provable connection
between it, its cohorts and organic coffee interests show a violation of
the Lanham Act?
2. If the OCAÝs campaign goes ahead, can it be sued in tort without
reference to the Lanham act or proof of any connection to organic coffee
interests?
3. If the OCA and its cohorts disparage conventional farming to serve the
economic interests of organic farming interests, could that show a
violation of the Lanham Act?
4. Could a concerted trade disparagement effort such as described on the
OCA website and related websites establish a violation of the Federal RICO
statute?
5. If any of 1-4 above are colorable claims, why are they never pressed in
the courts?
6. Why is doing legal research on the net so egregiously difficult? It
should be the ideal medium.

*-*-*-*-*-*-**-*-*-*-*-*-*

4th Biotechnology Roundtable--Assessing the Impact of the Biosafety
Protocol

From: "Jonusaitis, Dana"
May 10, 2001 Washington Court Hotel, Washington, DC

The Roundtable will once again bring leading scientists, lawyers, and
other stakeholders together for an interdisciplinary discussion of science
and law in search of "win-win" options to the complex issues surrounding
supporting approval of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Discussions
will include the impact of new international rules regulating GMOs,
imports of which are regulated as "living modified organisms" (LMOs) under
the newly approved Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (an addendum to the
Convention on Biological Diversity). An emerging "precautionary approach"
to approval requirements in overseas trading partners should lead
manufacturers of LMOs (e.g. seeds, aquaculture fish, trees etc.) to plan
well in advance for overseas approvals for crops entering the U.S.
marketplace. Seed companies, growers and the entire chain of agricultural
commerce will need to implement "identity preservation" for crops and
lines of communication that create an interdependent marketplace.
Overseas, countries will need to develop the capacity to expedite
approvals of seed and commodities imports to avoid massive disruptions in
U.S. trade. The legal issues raised by this quest for harmonized
international standards and the potential impact of the biosafety protocol
will continue to perplex industry, attorneys, policy makers and other
stakeholders for many years to come.

Speakers:

Richard A. Stuckey. Council for Agricultural Science and Technology
Sivramiah "Shanthu" Shantharam, International Food Policy Research
Institute (IFPRI)
Gabrielle Persley, The World Bank
Bernalyn McGaughey, Compliance Services International, Inc.

Margaret Mellon, Union of Concerned Scientists
David Sandalow, World Resources Institute
Edith Brown Weiss, Georgetown University Law Center

Mark Mansour, Keller & Heckman, LLP
Steven Censky, The American Soybean Association
Joyce Cacho, Rabobank
Stanley H. Abramson, Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn, PLLC

More information soon on:
http://www.abanet.org/environ/programs/calendar/.
Questions?, please call: 312/988-5724 or email environ@abanet.org.

*-*-*-*-*-*-**-*-*-*-*-*-*

Subject: Conventional Attack
From: Andrew Apel

"PBS airs trade secrets of chemical industry: On March 26 PBS will air
"Trade Secrets," a report on the chemical industry produced by the Peabody
Award-winning duo of Bill Moyers and Sherry Jones. A newly formed
environmental campaign hopes to use the broadcast to spark national
awareness and action on the issue."

http://www.enn.com/news/enn-stories/2001/03/03152001chemicals_42515.asp

"This pending terror campaign brought to you by Coming Clean, which is
a joint project of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, the
Environmental Health Fund, the Environmental Working Group and Women's
Voices for the Earth." -- http://www.junkscience.com

*-*-*-*-*-*-**-*-*-*-*-*-*

INDEPENDENT PANEL COMPLETES BIOTECHNOLOGY REPORT

(Forwarded by: Barry Palevitz )

A panel of independent scientists convened by EPA has completed work on
its report which provides input on EPA's preliminary comprehensive
reassessment of all Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn, cotton, and potato
plant incorporated protectants. EPA solicited advice from the Scientific
Advisory Panel (SAP) during a public meeting held October 18-20, 2000, to
ensure that the Agency's reassessment of currently-registered
biotechnology products utilizes the most current scientific understanding,
and meets the most stringent public health and environmental safety
standards.

Existing EPA registrations for corn and cotton Bt products (also called
"plant incorporated protectants") will expire in September, 2001. These
products are regulated by EPA as pesticides because they have been
engineered to contain a naturally-occurring substance called Bacillus
thuringiensis (Bt) which acts to combat insect pests. EPA included this
time-conditional provision for plant incorporated protectants to ensure
that these products be reevaluated regularly for safety to human health
and to the environment. SAP review is an integral element of the Agency's
overall efforts to ensure that its regulatory decisions are based on the
most current scientific information, and are reached through an open and
transparent process.

EPA's next step is to proceed with its comprehensive evaluation of the
existing Bt registrations, taking into account all data available to the
Agency, the SAP's recommendations, any newly submitted information and
public comments. EPA will then publish the revised reassessment for public
comment, which will include proposed registration decisions on the Bt
products.

The SAP's report is available on-line at
http://www.epa.gov/scipoly/sap/2000/october/octoberfinal.pdf
e-mail: deegan.dave@epa.gov David Deegan 202-564-7839
----
Barry A. Palevitz, Professor; Contributing Editor, The Scientist
Department of Botany University of Georgia

*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Geneticist calls for broader GM debate

The Herald (Glasgow) 15/03/2001, UK (Online)

by VIC ROBERTSON

A PLEA for more reason in the debate on biotechnology and genetic
modification was issued by one of the world's leading authorities on the
subject yesterday. The debate had become one of emotion rather than of
more substantive issues, said Professor Channapatna Prakash, director of
the Centre of Plant Biotechnology Research at Tuskegee University in
Alabama, US. "We have done more than 25,000 field tests with these crops
so far and not one single issue of alarm has been raised and we have very
high standards of food safety regulation in the US," he told an invited
audience at the US embassy in London. It had adopted a science-based
approach and found that the risks attached to GM material were no
different from conventional stock. He acknowledged there was considerable
opposition to GM technology but claimed this was due to the "vested
interest" of certain groups, such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and
the organic community. "I think we need to engage in dialogue with these
groups. "For example, Christian Aid is worried about socio-economic
inequities that may follow on from the use of these technologies. But
these are not clear cut, black-and-white issues and they need to be
discussed."

He said the current state of genetic technology was equivalent to the
Model T. Progress in the study of genomics in plants and animals would
eventually lead to advances that consumers could relate to, such as
improvements in food safety, reduced toxins and allergens and improved
nutrition.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Subject: Re: Bt corn
From: ThomasRedick@netscape.net

Marcus, Thank you for your url -- the posting seems incomplete. For more
complete information on health benefits in the pipeline, add a link to
direct fungus disease resistance. USDA/APHIS webpage
http://www.nbiap.vt.edu/cfdocs/fieldtests1.cfm allows a search for all the
fungus resistance field trials being done with GM crops in the US today.

I do not have a compilation of the publicly available data you seek on
food safety for B.t. Corn. As I tried to make clear in my last message, I
am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the United States Food and
Drug Administration. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a spokesman or
lawyer for any agbiotech companies. Those who distrust the industry and
the FDA about the safety profile of rDNA modification process, due to gene
transfers not subjected to extensive clinical trials, should seek out food
that does not contain mutated DNA. To be consistent, however, that would
include many "traditional" varieties mutated with the aid of radiation,
chemicals, or natural processes for moving DNA between species (e.g. viral
transfers).

Just be careful what you wish for --- the FDA has a way of using
scientific logic to extend its reach. Your organic foods may become more
limited if the FDA were to adopt your program for rDNA and apply it
consistently to all food.

Good luck!

Tom
marcus@myrealbox.com wrote:>
> Hello Tom
> Does the evidence that Bt corn is safe really exist?
---cut---
> Marcus Williamson
> http://www.gmfoodnews.com/
----
(Note From Prakash: Mr. Marcus Williamson has been badgering some
individuals who post to this group through spamming, and I have recently
learnt that he has also been sending unpleasant emails to potential
speakers of biotech meetings. My advice to those of you in this group who
get email from Marcus is to please ignore it.)

*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Subject: GM science in crisis
From: "NLP Wessex"

"We're in a crisis position where we know the weakness of the genetic
concept, but we don't know how to incorporate it into a new, more complete
understanding. Monsanto knows this. DuPont knows this. Novartis knows
this. They all know what I know. But they don't want to look at it because
it's too complicated and it's going to cost too much to figure out." - Dr
Richard Strohman --- Crisis Position Richard Strohman, Ph.D., Professor
Emeritus, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of
California at Berkeley

Full article at: http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Strohman-Safe-Food.htm
-------
The report below identifies about thirty unresolved questions on the
present nature and (potential) use of current genetically modified =
crops, including a dozen controversial issues, as seen from the standpoint
of natural science.

Crops of Uncertain Nature? Controversies and Knowledge Gaps Concerning
Genetically Modified Crops An Inventory; Plant Research International
B.V., Wageningen r.12 Aug00 A.J.C. de Visser, E.H. Nijhuis, J.D. van Elsas
& T.A. Dueck

The full text of Plant Research International paper is now available on
line at:
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Knowledge-Gaps-Greenpeace-Wageningen.htm