Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

4 February 2000

Table of Contents

New Protein Discovered
What is Sustainable / Organic Agriculture
Labour In Food System
Conflict of interest
GE Soydiesel - "Educate the public on GMO benefits"
Re: GE Soydiesel
A lawyer writes... (about Monsanto)
100 Molecular Millionaires
GMO's and academic freedom
The Soybean Connection - A Worldwatch Institute Brief
More Diverted Research Funds Found, CDC Misleads Congress

Top NextFront Page

Date: 1 Feb 2000 07:47:08 U
From: Colleen Robison crobison@mnsinc.com

New Protein Discovered

© 2000 The Washington Post Company , Tuesday, February 1, 2000; Page E01
http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/business/feed/a57641-2000feb1.htm

Human Genome Sciences in Rockville and an institute in Scotland said they have discovered a new protein that may point the way toward better control of asthma and allergies. In a paper to be published today in the Journal of Immunology, scientists from the two organizations said the protein appears to operate as a brake on eosinophils, a type of immune cell involved in allergic reactions.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 1 Feb 2000 11:58:48 U
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk

What is Sustainable / Organic Agriculture

Sections:
Sustainable agriculture
Colonialism
Quiet Revolution
Over-Production Always Preceeds, Recession
So-Called, Green Revolution
Sustainable Farming
The Loss Of Genetic Diversity
So who survives today?
Sustainable developments
Food security
Natural Ecological-processes
Bio-pirates
References
Magazine Articles
Tables and Charts
Internet references.

There seems to be some confusion on this list as to the word Organic and it's relevance. Whether it be for the consumption of 'certiifed', food or a means of survival , organic encompasses many different and diverse philosophies and cultures. That the statement 'there is no market for organic food in India', is made, shows that this point needs some consideration.

It is the intention of this article to discuss the development and range of alternative or sustainable farming systems, and their place in a contemporary society.

Sustainable agriculture

Sustainable agriculture has been described as; "ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just and humane,(Gips,1987). It encompasses many different philosophies, or traditions and goes by different names, those of organic, low impact, low input, bio-dynamic, permaculture, all are different styles on similar themes. First and formost it is a biological process. A passive system, having no rigid or concrete rules, it recognises that all locations are different and so require different husbandry techniques. Also that over time needs and duties will change, and so will the husbandry, ever evolving together.

In a world of decreasing resources and a future of industrial, agricultural and thus, economic, uncertainty, it is surely an important task to consider alternative agriculture? In the western, so called developed world, our conventional high input agriculture is in crisis. Market forces set prices and ignore costs. Even with massive subsidies conventional farming is failing. Our value exchange system, that we have sought to impose on all other nations and cultures, is virtually bankrupt. Many now question the wisdom of, market driven, consumer society, and are looking to more egalatarian alternatives, which though not as developed economically as ourselves, could surely show us how to live within nature and not without it.

The second law of thermo dynamics predicts that "resource intensive and resource wasteful economic development must become a threat to the survival of the human species".(Shiva 1989), a statement, to which, clearly ,we should pay attention.

We are told we are in the post industrial or post modern period of history. Until now the industrial and science revolutions of the developed world have united hand in hand to envelop the globe in what was previously a united desire, for all,through development, to have equal oppurtunities. However, the green revolution of the sixties and seventies has not worked, for the developing countries it has been a disaster.

Colonialism

Development was to have been a post colonial project, a choice for accepting a model of progress in which the entire world remade itself, on the model of the colonising modern west, without having to undergo the subjugation and exploitation that colonialism entailed. Yet as Rosa Luxemburg has pointed out "early industrial development in western Europe, necessitated the permanent occupation of the colonies by the colonial powers and the destruction of the local, natural economy. She goes on to say, "colonialism is a constant necessary condition for capitalist growth, without colonies, capital accumalation would grind to a halt. Thus the commercialisation of economies, for the sake of surplus and profit, though providing wealth to some, the few, also simultaneously guaranteed poverty and dispossession to many. Rapid industrialisation requires access to cheap resources and a dependable surplus of agriculture at low cost, which the north has always freely taken from the south, constantly.

The North may hold the technology, but the South holds all the diversity. Diversity is the key to sustainability, it is the basis for mutuality and reciprocity, the law of return,based on the right of all species, to freedom from suffering(Shiva,V, 1996). This century has seen the loss of 75% of plant biodiversity, currently 7% of the earthis surface is home to 95% of our remaining biodiversity,(Mooney,P,1990)

To-day we are in the throws of the genetic revolution, patents and intellectual property rights, are the new protectionist barriers, the new colonialism. Genetically engineered plants, which are modified to be resistant to patented herbicides, are the new miracle fixes, tying farmers into new dependence cultures, closely followed by resistant pests and diseases, which have, yet to be marketed, chemicals to deal with them.

Quiet Revolution

Now is the time for, as Jules Pretty, calls it,in his book, The Living Land, for the quiet revolution. In the years of this closing century we have seen a remarkable transition, old ways are being challenged,those farmers who have been quiet throughout the BSE and commodity price crashes, and constant food scares in british farming, are joining together, with the consumer and demanding change, not the quck fixes of the past, not the genetic engineering of unknown consequence, but safe and natural food production processes, which have respect for our enviroment, not destructive and ecologically unsound ones. An idea whose time has come possibly?

According to Joan Thirsk in her novel, Alternative Agriculture,A History, "An alternative agriculture never emerges out of a cloudless sky". This statement could not be more true, than at present, as the new surge in alternative thinking, finds agriculture in general in this and many other countries, in crisis. Organic, low input, sustainable agriculture though, today is having an unprecedented rise in interest.

Over-Production Always Preceeds, Recession

Why may we ask, is there such an interest in this low-tech, form of food production? The answer to that question lies in many different quarters. For one according to Thirsk, over production always preceeds, recession, which is surely true today, bankruptcy abounding, with many close to the edge. Previously in history,as now though, times of alternative thinking produce actions of diversification. Extreme diversification, involving a readiness to consider a multiplicity of enterprises, and to give much attention to detail. History surely shows that major changes are usually anticipated by a few idealists, patient individuals who have been following their personnel convictions for many years before any crisis arose,(Thirsk 1997).

According to Thirsk, this is not the first time, that alternative agriculture has made a wide presence. Previously, there have been four periods in modern history when, land use has changed dramatically following, either man made, or natural disaster. The first period was in the fourteenth century, following the, Black Death, commencing in the 1350's and lasting until 1500. The second came in the early modern period lasting between 1650 and 1750, when Charles1 was executed and his lands confiscated. Beef and grain prices and the need, during wars, for supply, drove markets in Britain, after which crashes in prices were the norm. The third period of change was between 1880 and 1939. The present fourth, such period of alternative thought, began in the nineteen eighties.

The precursor to change, this time, came , in the shape of over production in the nineteen eighties. Protectionist policies in Europe, helped, to create commodity mountains, inside which those few farmers who could survive and grow, became very wealthy. Since that time, though, milk quotas and set aside schemes, to take land out of production, are surely signs of alternative thinking once more. Political struggles, based on ecology, in industrially advanced countries are rooted in the conflict between, long term survival options and short term over production and consumption,(Shiva 1996).

Commodities are created for exchange value systems, where something that is of,use, value, becomes something of,exchange, value. In the developing world, farmers are coaxed into this system, called, cash crops, from the relative security of self sufficiency. It becomes a means of raising capital, or money, to purchase other commodities. However, as this necessitates the use of their land for the growing of non-essential, commodities for foreign markets, it takes out of production, massive areas previously used for food production, robbing poor people of access to cheap food, and depleting resources further. In India

So-Called, Green Revolution

Historically, the transition from pre-industrial, self sufficiency to full industrial capitalist farming, has been regarded as inevitable, and wholly desirable, but if pesticides and seeds continue to rise in cost,in India the cost of fertiliser rose 600% between 1960 and 1980,(Lappe,1998),it has been predicted, that Monsanto's BT cotton seed will cost 20 times that of local, (Indian) cotton seed and 10 times that of hybrid cotton seed,(Mooney 1996), then there are many third world farmers who may seek to stay off the treadmill, something that they know plenty about. Also many commodity prices are destabilised, by the dumping of subsidised over production, onto world markets. This leaves third world farmers in debt, were the only way out is to produce more and intensify further the already declining, resource base, adding to dessertification and erosion. Last year in India, 500 cotton farmers committed suicide,(Shiva 1998), many drinking pesticides, the debts for which they could not pay.

During the so called, green revolution, western fully industrial, capitalist, agriculture was imposed on semi or pre-industrial indigenous cultures. This entailed the use of dwarf varieties of hybridised staple crops developed by Borlaug,,(see table 1, below), which replaced the indigenous land-races that had been passed down through many generations. In India at the turn of the century ten thousand varieties of rice were grown,(Shiva 1997). Ironically, those same land race varieties were located and their resistant parent lines, crossed back into hybrid strains to develop resistant varieties, when the hybrid varieties began to fail to diseases that local varieties, through generations of natural selection and good husbandry, were immune to. A good example being the hybrid rice IR-8.

Sustainable Farming

Fifty years ago, Sir Alfred Howard, the father of sustainable farming, wrote in his classic "An Agricultural Testament, "the agriculture practised in the Orient have passed the supreme test - they are almost as permanent as the primeval forest, of the prairie, or the ocean." Howard saw in India's peasants a knowledge of farming far more advanced than that of the west,(Shiva 1996). He was able to learn from the peasants, then he returned to the west to teach them how to do likewise.

The Loss Of Genetic Diversity

The loss of genetic diversity is one of the most irresponsible consequences of the green revolution. Sustainable areas, that had been productive for thousands of years, were systematically converted to the mono-cultures of the west. High input demand and a susceptibility to most diseases soon led, after a few years of high outputs, to major problems. Indigenous seed, their one main ability to feed themselves, was rejected. Their destiny was sealed.

The high response or so called high yield varieties, were dependent on vast quantities of herbicides and pesticides and huge quantities of water, all things that in the third world are expensive or near impossible, to aquire. (see table 1).

Table 1. Comparison of productivity of native varieties and Borlaug varieties of wheat

Grain Yield Kg/ha Water demand Fertilizer demand Productivity with respect to water use (kg/ha/cm) Productivity with respect To fertilizer use (kg/ha/kg)
Native variety 3291 12" - 5.3cm 47.3 620.94 69.5
Borlaug variety 46903 36" 4 16cm 88.55 293.1 52.99

Traditional crops of millet, lentils and rice for consumption,were replaced with hybrid cotton. If India's farmers were to apply fertilizer at the same rate as Dutch farmers their needs would amount to one third of global consumption, (Lappe 1998).

As the second law of thermo dynamics predicts that "resource intensive and resource wasteful economic development must become a threat to the survival of the human species".(Shiva 1989). This makes us realise that, instensive, irresponsible use of resources may bring us one day soon, to having ,"no alternative",but, having, to use sustainable means of production.

So who survives today?

Two different groups:

  1. Those farmers who choose not to buy into industrialised agriculture.

  2. Those able to keep expanding their acreage to make up for lower, per/acre/ha, profit.

It is in the poorest parts of the world that the, sustainable, message has hit home loudest. Intensifying production has been a means of staving of mounting debt in many developing countries ,this has had the effect of advancing erosion and desertification. Increasing population and social pressures have multiplied the demands to the point of turning poor soils into useless ones. This causes more immediate problems and a willingness to try alternative ideas.

Ourselves we are still in the infant stages of this kind of development. There is only one country on earth with a national policy, which includes organic/sustainable, agriculture, that country is Cuba. Who over thirty years ago suffered a trade embargo, and sanctions from the US, that has prevented that country having access to any of the inputs or technologies that we take for granted. It is hardly then surprising to see that Cuba has one of the most developed sustainability programs on earth. Rationing and price ceilings on staple foods kept basic prices to within the reach of the poor from the 1959 revolution until the food crisis of 1989. All citizens were guaranteed 2,000 cals a day. As universal health care and education were made available to all, birth rates fell from 4.7 to 1.6,(Lappe 1998). Cuba at one time provided more doctors for the third world, per/capata, than any other nation.

Sustainable developments

Sustainable development is about getting more for less from our rural economies by using fewer resources, (Pretty, J 1999). The state of both national resources and rural societies is vital for our welfare and economic growth. It is also about developing social capital. As the stocks of natural and social capital diminish it becomes more difficult to make a living from what remains. Throughout Europe and North America there are initiatives underway that are not only repairing, the damage, but also showing that alternatives are economically viable, (see Tables No 2 and 3). Data available shows that organic systems there, build soil fertility, the top 25% showed better yields than conventional farms, resulted in more crops grown, more jobs created and more money reinvested locally, and of course resulted is much less chemicals used.

In the developing world also there many examples of sustainable development re-empowering local communities:

  1. Mucuna,(velvet), bean cover cropping in Benin. There are some 100,000 farmers using the legume mucuna (Macuna pruriens), for suppresion of the aggressive weed imperata, and for fertility building in Benin. Soils are nearing exhuastion, fertilizer use is low, and even if fertilizers were available, the benefit ffrom their use is declining because of a degrading soil resource base. Mucuna as an intercrop provides more than 100kg N/ha to maize, 5.5 tonnes of biomass per year. Farmers adopting mucuna cover-cropping benefit from higher yields of maize, with less labour input for weeding. Maize following mucuna yields 3-4 t/ha without the application of nitrogen fertilizer (similar to yields normally obtained with recommended levels of fetilization at 130kg N/ha). The benefit:cost analysis over a period of 8 years indicates a ratio of 1:24 when mucuna is included in the system, and 0.62 for the system without mucuna The ratio is as high as 3.56 if mucuna seeds are sold. (Pretty J, 1999). 220,00 farmers in the third world have increased yields from between 2 to 5tonnes /ha. Napier grass is being used to control soil erosion and dessertification,( Landmark 99).

  2. Organic farming practices have been documented in Eygypt for over five thousand years. Today three of it's nine provinces are organic. Parts of it's highlands have an unbroken tradition of sustainable land use and today there is a fast growing realisation that low input agriculture can pay dividends. As well as giving people food to eat, it allows people with extra to sell or exchange for trade. Eygypt is fast becoming a major exporter of organic food, (Source: IFOAM Jan99).

  3. A recent study of sustainable farming in 17 countries, Benin, Burkino Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Cameroon, Lesotho,Madagascar,Malawi,Mali,Niger,Senegal,Sudan,Tanzania, Uganda,Zambia, and Zimbabwe, found: In total an area of 600-900,000 ha, was under sutainable agriculture, and that 730,000 farm households were involved. The yields recorded included: Lowest yield increases 5-10%. And the additional production of dry season cropping, through the use of mulches and green manures. Fish production introduced as secondary crop into rice paddies. Land restored for cereal production,(Source; Landmark 99).

  4. Some 223,000 farmers in Brazil using green manures and cover crops of legumes and livestock integration have doubled yields of maize and wheat to 4-5 tons/ha.(Source Pretty,1998).

  5. Some 45,000 farmers in Guatemala and Honduras have used regenerative technologies to triple maize yields to some 2-2.5 tons/ha and diversify their upland farms, which has led to local economic growth, that has in turn resulted in remigration back from the cities, (Source Pretty 1998).

  6. More than 300,000 farmers in southern and western India, farming in dryland conditions, and now using a range of water and soil management technologies, have tripled sorghum and millet yields to 2-2.5 tons/ha,(Source Pretty 1998)

  7. 100,000 small coffee farmers in Mexico have adopted fully organic production methods and yet increased yields by half. (Source Pretty 1998).

  8. USA: 40,000 farmers using sustainable agricultural techniques grow twice as many crops as conventional farmers, use 60-70% less fertilizers, pesticides and energy, and their yields are roughly comparable; they also spend more money on local goods and services. Please see table No 3.

  9. A study of two rice growing villages in the Philipines, during the Green Revolution dramatises the reality. In both villages large and small farmers alike adopted the new seed (hybrid, high response varieties).In the villages where land owners were relatively equal and a tradition of community solidarity existed, the new technology did not polarize the community by disproportionately benefiting the better off. But in the village dominated by a few large landowners, their greater returns from the Green Revolution allowed them to advance at the expense of the small farmers. After ten years the large farms in the village had grown in size by over 50%. Green Revolution farmers now face the fact that outlays for pesticides and fertilizers and seed (most soon to be GM),growing faster than yields,suggesting a cost-price squeeze,(Lappe 1998)

Land, and access to it, are very crucial to survival in the developing world. Much depends on the political organisation of the landless. In the Indian state of Kerala, where agricultural workers are well organised, real wages of the farm workers rose in contrast with many other parts of India. In fact , Kerala is the state with the largest drop over the last thirty years in the percentage of the population living in poverty, far outstripping green revolution areas like Punjab and Utter Pradesh, (Lappe 1998). In Kerala also, 11,000 government run fair price shops kept the price of rice within reach of the poor. It is population density is 3 times that of the rest of India yet commonly used indicators of hunger and poverty, infant mortality, life expectancy and death rate are all considerably more moderate than the rest of India. Also the birth rate is one third the rest of India,(Lappe 1998). Land reform is surely one of the world's most pressing problems.

Food security

Food secusrity dominates thinking in many poor countries, and most of their time is spent securing it. So how can sustainable agriculture provide this? It has been shown that in North America, it is financially viable, and that organic farming there is no, yesterday's agriculture, as it:

In the developing world, complex cropping systems, with large variety enables.

Natural Ecological-processes

They must rely on natural ecological-processes to perform many functions within the farm system. This is because resources are not available to dominate and control nature in the manner of high input farming. They try to build a self regulating eco-system where pests and disease incidence is limited:

Food security must be built upon a sustainable and productive agriculture as a first step. The use of crops like sweet potato, are recommended, it is an excellent crop for improving food security as it is drought tolerant, grows during the dry spell and is harvested during the hungry gap, and also as mosaic virus is plaguing cassava crops. Sorghum has a lower yield than maize but's more tolerant to poor or acidic soils and has an ability to become,idormanti, in spells of drought.

Bio-pirates

Today, bio-pirates are searching every quarter of the globe, for what is left. Plants now are the new plunder, their genes the new gold. Patents, once registered, confer ownership of that plant to the Biotech company wishing to exploit it, without regard for indigenous knowledge. Some of these plants are staple foods like, Quinoa, a South American plant. It has been eaten and cultivated by Indian farmers, for thousands of years. It is a big part of their diet supplying carbo-hydrates. A US University, registered a patent on it. After the threat of huge legal recourse the patent was revoked. But as many other patents on, for instance, Basmati rice are pending, it remains to be seen how this will evolve, but a situation where staple foods are in some way patentable, not genetically engineered varieties, but actually whole plants that are not even genetically manipualated, this is an imjustice, which in the future will result in confrontation.

Genes are the new frontier, the west has the technology the south has the diversity. Last year the North imported billions of dollars worth of germplasm from the South. That they do not pay for it is surely an afront to the starving nations of the world. Throughout the Ethiopian famine, wheat germplasm was exported and as, at the time wheat was being atacked by new diseases, itis ironic,that the answer was found at the point of man made famine.

References

  1. Sustainable Agriculture Thirsk,J.(1997)Alternative Agriculture, A. History. Oxford University Press. London.

  2. Lappei F,M.Collins,J. Rosset,P. World Hunger- 12 myths.( 1998) Earthscan Publications Ltd; London.

  3. Shiva,V. (1989) Staying Alive. Zed Books

  4. Shiva,V.The(1991) Violence of the Green Revolution. Zed Books

  5. Shiva, V.(1998), Biopiracy-The Plunder of Nature an Knowledge. Green Books. London

  6. Fowler ,C.Mooney,P.The Threatened Gene-Food Politics and the Loss of GeneticDiversity(1990), .The Lutterworth Pres. UK

  7. Pretty,J The Living Land. (1998), Earthscan Publications, London

  8. Bayliss-Smith, T.P. (1982),The Ecology of Agricultural Systems University Press, Cambridge.

  9. Luxemburg, R. (1951), TheAccumulation of Capital. Ruotledge abd Kegan Paul.London.

    Magazine Articles

  10. Pretty,J. (Aug/Sep, No 31,1999).Can Sustainable Agriculture feed Africa.? Landmark.

  11. El Araby,A. (Jan, 1999), Egypt's Story. Ecology and Farming. International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements.

  12. Martin, M. (June/July 990). Organic Farming Brings Food Security in Kenya. GM Free Magazine. Vol, No2.Khi Publications. Skelsmesdale.Lancs

Tables and Charts

Internet references.

  1. Norfolk Genetic Information Network, http://members.tripod.com/-ngin/article2.htm : Feeding the world,(Pretty,J).

  2. Achive of Discussion Messages on,"Paticipatory Learning for Integrated Farming", with Dr Jules N Pretty (UK), In: Internet Conference on Integrated Bio-systems,1998. Eds: E.L. Foo and Delta Senta. : http://www.ias.unu.edu/proceedings/icbs/jules

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 1 Feb 2000 12:49:47 U
From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz

Labour In Food System

Dear Elbert,

Your latest 'Corner Post' prompts me to point out two studies published a quarter-century ago on labour in the USA food system. They proceeded in parallel but independently, so the fact their conclusions were very similar tended to suggest they were reliable.

John Steinhart of the U of Wisc (Madison) in _Science_ and Eric Hirst in a special report from Oak Ridge Natl Lab (!) independently concluded that over many decades the number of workers in the USA had NOT changed.

"Yesterday's field hand is today's tractor mechanic, canning factory worker, or fast-food carhop" was a memorable summary by Steinhart. (He must be emeritus if not deceased by now, but you could try to contact him. I haven't been in touch since the mid-70s.)

I know of no more recent studies on this question, but I sure believe it is important. The claimed liberation from labour by mechanisation is - or anyway was - false.

We may not be in a position to assert 'yesterday's pollen-transfer technician is today's gene-splicer, DNA sequencer technician, or PR agent', but it might well be that an up-to-date study of labour in the USA food system since Steinhart and Hirst would reach some such conclusion. Indeed, I suspect the labour force has increased thru these deviant trends.

I find your column always interesting and thought-provoking. This is just an attempt to reciprocate!

R

--------------------
Robt Mann, consultant ecologist
P O Box 28878 Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand (9) 524 2949


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 1 Feb 2000 19:25:37 U
From: Marcus Williamson marcus_williamson@ibm.net

Conflict of interest

Here's another scientist going on about "risks of faecal contamination" from organic food :

http://news2.thls.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/scotland/newsid%5F626000/626969.stm

Quote : "A leading Scottish scientist has warned that organic farming poses considerable risks to human health.

Professor John Hillman, director of the world-renowned Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI), also said the debate on GM food had been "obscured" by unhelpful language.

His comments are contained in the SCRI's annual report released on Tuesday." etc etc etc

John Hillman is Director of the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI), but is also...surprise, surprise...on the Board of Directors of the BioIndustry Association, as can be found from this list here :

http://www.scri.sari.ac.uk/Document/AnnReps/99Indiv/49Extern.pdf

The BioIndustry Association is here :

http://www.bioindustry.org

and a list of whose members can be found here :

http://www.bioindustry.org/members/memlist.html

The tagline for the BioIndustry Association is

"Encouraging and Promoting the Biotechnology Sector of the UK Economy"

So, no surprises why he's trying to trash the organic sector then...!

regards
Marcus Williamson
http://www.connectotel.com/gmfood


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 2 Feb 2000 00:39:45 U
From: Judy_Kew@greenbuilder.com (Judy Kew)
From: jasonab@kdsi.net

Comment from:
From: "Jon Campbell" jon@cqs.com

Has anyone pointed out to them that growing GMO crops is more expensive and has lower yield than ordinary hybrids? (To say nothing of not being able to save seeds...).

Jon


Written by Lou Honary, a University of Northern Iowa associate professor and Ag-Based Industrial Lubricants (ABIL) Research Program director.

GE Soydiesel - "Educate the public on GMO benefits"

By Lou Honary, The Des Moines Register
January 25, 2000, Iowa View, Op-Ed, p. 9A:

While the battle over GM food may be temporarily lost in Europe, it's just beginning in the U.S.

American agribusiness is confronted with a crisis over Europe's rejection of foods containing genetically modified organisms. A diverse group of European environmentalists attempting to attack genetic engineering in humans somewhat accidentally ran into an easier target: GM foods. Others, such as European farmers who grow organic food and feel threatened by GM crops, encouraged an all-out ban of GM foods.

Before leaving for the World Trade Organization's November meeting in Seattle, Senator Charles Grassley chastised European farmers for taking advantage of consumers to block imports of American crops. Using fear of the unknown, the environmentalists persuaded European consumers to say no to GM foods without regard for the need to improve production for a growing world population.

Now, some environmentalists such as Washington activist Jeremy Rifkin predict that the European strategy will work in the United States. In fact, he claims it's already a "done deal."

While the battle over GM food may be temporarily lost in Europe it's just beginning in the United States. Agribusiness and awakened U.S. farmers have realized they must move quickly to counter the scare tactic used in Europe by investing in public education and by highlighting the benefits of biotech, the long-term success of GM foods and GMO-based pharmaceuticals.

Researchers at the University of Northern Iowa's Ag-Based Industrial Lubricants (ABIL) Research Program have been testing GM vegetable oils as a petroleum substitute in industrial lubricants for nine years.

Unmentioned by many environmentalists, researchers have found diverse uses for GM seed oils in non-food areas, thus negating the impact of human health-scare tactics. If the impact on human health is not an issue, then other issues will be much less effective in building opposition to GM crops.

The market size for industrial and automotive lubricants is about 2.5 billion gallons per year, or about 60 million acres of soybeans. If 1 percent soy diesel were mixed with every gallon of the several billion gallons of diesel fuel sold each year, that would utilize millions more acres of soybeans.

Millions of gallons of petroleum-based transformer cooling oil can easily be replaced with environmentally friendly GM crop oils. These products already are on the market. Conclusion: We can grow as many GM crops as we need or want and have markets for them in the non-food arena.

UNI-ABIL research has shown that high-oleic varieties of GM soybeans are best for hydraulic and transformer cooling fluids, while high-palmetic varieties, for example, are great for lubricating greases. The genetically modified varieties actually reduce the need for chemical additives needed in many lubricants. They are renewable, biodegradable and less toxic. They help preserve the environment and are in line with the mission of many environmental groups.

During this decade, farmers will grow "identity preserved" GM crops geared to non-food markets. One farmer may grow GM soybeans for production of automotive bearing grease, while another will grow high-linolenic varieties for soy ink or soy adhesive. Farmers will grow GM crops for biodegradable plastics, biobased particleboard and or plant-based paper. All of this is in support of environmentally sound progress.

What about the immediate future? That is a tough one. GM crops will probably take a beating this growing season. Farmers are confused and worried about the news of the GMO battle in Europe. What is grown will have to be earmarked for predetermined non-food use and/or for markets that are open, such as the United States and non-European countries.

With a concerted effort by growers and agribusiness to educate the public, diversification in new non-food uses, and a bit of time to recover Europe, GM crops can become a major source of food, fiber and pharmaceuticals for a world with growing needs. In time, the world will thank American farmers and agribusiness for improving production and speeding the natural modification of these crops.

Focusing on non-food will flush out the radicals who insist on a closed-minded approach.

People around the world now are benefiting from the GMOs used in biopharmaceuticals and biobased lubricants.

We can't allow misguided scare tactics to delay or divert research and marketing of legitimate products that will boost the American farm economy and help meet the food, fiber and health needs of a growing world.

Date: Tue, 01 Feb 2000 09:27:52 -0500

---------------------------------------
Green Homes For Sale: http://www.greenbuilder.com/realestate
Green Building Pros: http://www.greenbuilder.com/directory
Calendar: http://www.greenbuilder.com/calendar
Bookstore: http://www.greenbuilder.com/bookstore


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 2 Feb 2000 18:14:01 U
From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz

Re: GE Soydiesel

This line of propaganda is internally confused (fuel v. lubricants) but also generally dubious.

The concept of 'energy farming' became briefly trendy two decades ago. It never stood a chance, economically, against petroleum. Plants grown for the purpose of using their biomass for energy are not a good idea.

Those who have noticed 'gasohol' (petrol with about 10% ethanol dissolved) made from US midwest cereal crops may think it constitutes an exception. It isn't, because

  1. byproducts of that industry are an important part of its economics

  2. it is a pork-barrel US political arrangement, not a rational way to get good petrol.

  3. land capable of producing such cereals should be used to feed humans.

Oilseed rape has similarly been investigated for about 20y as a source of diesel fuel. It does more or less work, but is similarly unjustified.

Plant oils have been used for lubricants, notably the castor-bean oil crucial in the WW1 rotary aeroengines. But today no oil company much bothers with them. I happen to run a classic motorbike using castor lubricant, but I do so only for the nostalgic scent - it is on the whole not a rational lubricant.

I would tentatively dismissed this stuff as propaganda designed to add to the list of claimed future benefits of GE.

R


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 2 Feb 2000 02:05:22 U
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk

Dan Bennett is a lawyer with the London solicitors Leigh Day and Co, who act for individuals against corporations. http://www.leighday.co.uk

A lawyer writes... (about Monsanto)

By Dan Bennett, The Guardian, Wednesday February 2, 2000
http://www.newsunlimited.co.uk/society/story/0,3605,131220,00.html

What's in a name? The news that Monsanto is soon to be known as Pharmacia is part of an old Monsanto strategy, intended to allow a fresh start. Other sales divisions of the corporation will now be known as Searle and Upjohn, with the name Monsanto retained solely for an independent agricultural subsidiary.

In 1997, I was in the process of issuing legal proceedings against Monsanto plc (the UK arm of the US-based multinational) for 165 neighbours of a rubber chemical factory. We had settled claims for about 120 neighbours who suffered chemical poisoning following a leak of hydrogen sulphide gas. Monsanto refused to settle any further claims and so litigation was inevitable.

My final check for the address for service of the writ revealed the alarming fact that Monsanto plc was in liquidation and had changed its name to Globalstrike plc. The liquidator told me that it was a company reorganisation. I threatened to intervene and disrupt the liquidation unless we were told who would meet the claims.

The next day, I was informed that Monsanto Chemicals UK Ltd would be responsible. A company search revealed that this company was a "shelf" company called Flextrex Ltd, created on December 20, 1996. A "shelf" company is created by company agents so it can be sold on to anyone in the future who wants a company. It saves them the time of creating one themselves.

The shelf company was bought by Monsanto International Holdings Inc, of St Louis, US, in March 1997. The company changed its name to Monsanto Chemicals UK Ltd on March 14, 1997. By September, its name had changed to Solutia UK Ltd.

The share transfer documentation on company records states that Monsanto Int. Holdings Inc paid for the shares with "assets transferred to the company pursuant to the Business Transfer Agreement between (1) Monsanto plc [another shelf company], (2) Globalstrike plc [the old Monsanto plc which had changed its name], and (3) Monsanto Chemicals UK Ltd [subsequently Solutia]".

Company records revealed that Solutia did not own anything except for responsibility for this legal action and any other legal actions brought against the non-life science divisions of the "old" Monsanto. The "new" Monsanto owned only the life science/GM business.

And so our case progressed against Solutia, with the company eventually agreeing to settle all but four of the 165 claims. A further claim we brought for a later leak at the same chemical factory is brought against Flexsys, which now owns all the rubber chemical factories in the UK that Monsanto used to run. It was also a shelf company and is also ultimately owned by Monsanto. This claim against Flexsys should come to trial this summer for 306 people.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 2 Feb 2000 03:30:53 U
From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz

100 Molecular Millionaires

The 1999 edition of Genetic Engineering News
http://www.genengnews.com/news1.htm

Biotechnology companies are used to the ups and downs of an entrepreneurial business fraught with risk. Depending on the financing environment, life often seems like a roller coaster ride to them. But for many biotech stockholders, particularly those with doctoral degrees, 1999 is proving to be a memorable year.

The 1999 edition of Genetic Engineering News 100 Molecular Millionaires includes a record number of doctorates - 89! This compares to 69 last year and 72 in 1997. It looks like years of dedication to research and hours upon hours of work in the lab or clinic are finally paying off for those with a Ph.D., M.D., or Sc.D. This is made very clear when you consider that our list included only 63 doctoral millionaires in 1996 and 64 in 1995.

William K. Bowes, Jr., is our top millionaire with $286,134,875 of Amgen stock. Our number one doctoral millionaire is Endre A. Balazs, Ph.D., with $109,281,795 of Biomatrix stock. The value of the biotech/pharmaceutical stock held by all 100 of our 1999 millionaires totals $1.41 billion. This compares to $1.76 billion last year, $1.97 billion in 1997 and $2.05 billion in 1996. The equity markets for the biotech industry experienced one of their worst years in 1998. Large public financings were negligible as investors looked elsewhere to invest their money.

Nevertheless, our list of Molecular Millionaires demonstrates that significant awards await many of those who remain bullish on biotech. The industry posted bioproduct sales of over $13 billion in 1998 and saw 24 biodrugs approved. There are over 1,000 products in clinical trials and about 80 are already being sold on the market.

With the ongoing evolution of the new drug discovery paradigm, which is characterized by the novel technologies of high-throughput screening, genomics, proteomics and pharmacogenomics, the bioindustry appears poised for rapid growth in the new millennium. Since many of these techniques are based on the advances of laboratory researchers and, increasingly, computer scientists, we can expect to see the number of new molecular millionaires to grow in the near future.

*Lindsay A. Rosenwald, Ph.D., owns shares in eight different companies. These include:

  1. Procept ($7,948,876);
  2. Neose Technologies ($7,043,451);
  3. Biocryst Pharmaceuticals ($3,545,753);
  4. Cytoclonal Pharmaceuticals ($3,241,838);
  5. Interneuron Pharmaceuticals ($2,724,279);
  6. Avax Technologies ($1,874,026);
  7. Titan Pharmaceuticals ($1,324,733); and
  8. Ribogene ($1,107,215).

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 2 Feb 2000 06:12:58 U
From: wytze geno@zap.a2000.nl

"John Henning, Eco-Echo, McGill U., Montreal, Ca" wrote:

I pass on for your information this very regretable piece of news. I heard about it last week and just managed to put my hands on it.

John Henning, McGill University.

GMO's and academic freedom

University Dismisses Modified Food Study

By: Stuart Laidlaw, The Toronto Star January 19, 2000, Wednesday, Edition 1

A University of Guelph scientist challenging the safety of genetically by her boss and by a colleague. an outspoken professor and threatening her academic freedom.

The scientist, Ann Clark, published a report reviewing the safety research about genetically modified food that is posted on the Health Canada Web site. In a democratic society, one of the purposes of universities is to said James Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.

Rob McLaughlin, dean of the agriculture college at the University of Guelph, said Clark is a specialist on pasture management for livestock and she should not comment on genetically modified foods. The University of Guelph hires her and pays her to do research in pasture management and she's very good at it, but at the end of the day we do not hire her, and she is not considered by us to be an McLaughlin said. ''I think her behaviour is ludicrous'' for the university to suggest that Clark should only comment on a narrow area of expertise. One of the ways in which there have been attempts to deny people freedom of expression and to cut back on academic freedom is to say, 'Well, academics should only be able to comment on the area in which he said. If one took that seriously, it would muzzle most academics speaking about most subjects in this country if you define their areas of

Clark has written numerous studies and given speeches challenging claims by seed companies that genetically modified crops cut pesticide use, increase crop yield and are safe to eat.

Yesterday, she released a study saying that research posted on the Health Canada Web site into the safety of genetically engineered crops grown in Canada is based on unfounded assumptions and inadequate research.

Another professor at her school immediately challenged the report. If she actually had a report of any substantive nature, she would said Doug Powell, food safety expert at the University of Guelph. Powell said.

Powell said he has seen studies conducted by seed companies that are much more in depth than those posted on the Health Canada Web site.

He would like to see companies making their studies more widely available. he said.

Clark said she volunteered to research and write the report on her own time, and did not receive any funding from the Council of Canadians, which set up a Web site to post the report.

Her study, Food Safety of GM crops in Canada, says that because the proteins found in 17 genetically modified crops do not share characteristics with proteins known to be toxic, those crops are assumed by Health Canada not to be toxic.

The same assumptions are made for allergens.

The report calls into question the substantial equivalence test used by governments around the world to approve genetically modified foods.

Under that test, if a genetically modified food is deemed more or less similar to that of unmodified food, it is assumed to be safe and is approved for sale without further testing.

Clark said she is not saying the food is unsafe, just that further study is needed.

To Unsubscribe: Email majordomo@ces.ncsu.edu with the command "unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command "unsubscribe sanet-mg-digest". To Subscribe to Digest: Email majordomo@ces.ncsu.edu with the command "subscribe sanet-mg-digest".


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 2 Feb 2000 06:48:50 U
From: wytze geno@zap.a2000.nl

Klaus Wiegand wrote:

For Immediate Release November 09, 1999

Worldwatch News Brief
"THE SOYBEAN CONNECTION"

LESTER R. BROWN [1] is president of the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, DC-based research organization.

The Soybean Connection - A Worldwatch Institute Brief

The United States and China: The Soybean Connection

Lester Brown

While reading some months ago about the alleged theft of U.S. nuclear weapons technology by the Chinese, my thoughts turned to an earlier transfer of technology from China to the United States: the soybean. Exactly who the conspirators were in this earlier transfer remains murky, but whoever spirited the handful of soybeans out of China and into the United States in 1804 could not have dreamed that in 1999 the U.S. soybean harvest would be worth $13 billion.

The soybean, which was originally domesticated by early farmers in central China some 5,000 years ago, has come into its own during the last half century. The U.S. harvested area of soybeans eclipsed that of corn for the first time in 1999, moving into first place ahead of all other crops, according to recently released U.S. Department of Agriculture data. In value the soybean is now second to corn, which had a 1999 harvest worth $19 billion. It has long since surpassed wheat in both area and value.

The United States today accounts for half of the global soybean harvest, dominating production on a scale that is unique among major crops. And China, which was once the leading soybean grower, now produces only one tenth of the total harvest.

The United States is now also the leading exporter of soybeans, while China is a leading importer. Not surprisingly, nearly two thirds of China's 1998 soybean imports came from the United States. In per capita terms, the four billion kilograms of U.S. soybeans imported into China last year amounted to nearly three kilograms for each of the country's 1.3 billion people.

For nearly a century and a half the soybean languished in the United States, grown largely as a garden novelty crop. But just before the middle of this century, farmers began to expand production at an extraordinary rate. That expansion continues today. This year, the U.S. harvested area of soybeans, of some 29.5 million hectares, exceeded the 28.7 million hectares of corn by 3 percent and the 22 million hectares of wheat by 34 percent.

Within the United States, most of the soybeans are produced in the Corn Belt, often in an alternate-year rotation with corn. Rotating the crops helps control insects and diseases. And since the soybean is a legume, it fixes nitrogen, a nutrient for which the corn plant has a ravenous appetite. If the Corn Belt were being named today, it would be called the Corn-Soybean Belt.

Growth in world production of soybeans dwarfs that of any other major crop over the last half century. The 1999 world soybean harvest is projected at 159 million tons, a nine-fold increase over the 17 million tons harvested in 1950. This compares with a tripling of the global grain harvest during the same period.

Because soybeans supply their own nitrogen, yields are not as responsive to the use of fertilizer as are those of corn, wheat, and rice. As a result, although soybean yields are rising gradually, the growth in the harvest comes largely from expanding the planted area. Worldwide, the area planted to soybeans expanded from 15 million hectares in 1950 to 72 million hectares in 1999, a five-fold increase.

The driving force behind this phenomenal growth in soybean output is the expanding global appetite for animal protein. World meat consumption has expanded five-fold since 1950. As the demand for beef, pork, poultry, eggs, and dairy products has soared, so too has the demand for protein meal to supplement grain in livestock and poultry rations. A modest amount of soybean meal added to grain fed to animals greatly enhances the efficiency with which they convert the grain into animal protein. When we eat pork, beef, chicken, eggs, cheese, yogurt, or ice cream, we are often indirectly consuming soybeans.

The soybean saga is the story of the right crop in the right place at the right time. By 1999, the world soybean harvest exceeded that of all other oilseeds combined, including peanuts, sunflower, olives, rapeseed, cottonseed, and coconuts. Although coconut oil looms large in the vegetable oil economy of Southeast Asia, and olive oil has long been a table oil standby in the Mediterranean countries, it is the soybean that dominates the vegetable oil economy.

Worldwide, less than one tenth of the soybean crop is used for food. The bulk of the harvest is crushed to produce soybean oil and soybean meal. The meal that is left after the oil is extracted was once the secondary product, but because of the strong demand for animal protein, and hence for protein feed supplements, the meal that is left after the bean is crushed to get the oil is now worth more than the oil itself.

Today the leading user of soybean meal is the United States at 27 million tons per year. In China, which is in second place with 11 million tons, soybean meal use is doubling every five years, tracking the surge in meat consumption. Much lower in meal use are Brazil, France, and Japan.

Soybeans are also the source of soy sauce, a ubiquitous ingredient in Asian cuisine, especially in Japan and China. The brown soy sauce is produced by crushing a mixture of soybeans and wheat that then undergoes yeast fermentation in saltwater for several months. For vegetarians, soybeans are often consumed in meat substitutes, such as veggie burgers. The consumption of tofu, a leading soybean product that was once confined to Asia, is now a worldwide phenomenon. In China, nearly two thirds of its 1998 soybean harvest of 14 million tons was eaten directly by people.

Although the soybean originated in China, it has found a welcome ecological and economic niche in the United States. U.S. farmers are deeply indebted to the Chinese farmers, who improved the soybean through selective breeding over several millennia, making it a leading source of farm income.

As incomes continue to rise in China and as a projected 300 million more people are added to the country's population, the Chinese will consume more and more pork, poultry, and eggs, requiring ever-expanding imports of soybeans. China is almost certain to become progressively more dependent on U.S. soybeans in the years ahead, making the soybean connection between the two countries even stronger.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

Worldwatch Institute
1776 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: 202 452-1999    fax: 202 296-7365
e-mail worldwatch@worldwatch.org     or visit our website http://www.worldwatch.org

Worldwatch News Brief 99-12

-----------------------------------------------------
Klaus Wiegand

I won't take any religion from a man, who works but with his mouth.

(Talluah Bankhead)

To Unsubscribe: Email majordomo@ces.ncsu.edu with the command "unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command "unsubscribe sanet-mg-digest". To Subscribe to Digest: Email majordomo@ces.ncsu.edu with the command "subscribe sanet-mg-digest".


Top PreviousFront Page

Date: 2 Feb 2000 07:36:04 U
From: Colleen Robison crobison@mnsinc.com

More Diverted Research Funds Found, CDC Misleads Congress

CDC Misled Congress on Spending, Records Show

By Joe Stephens and Valerie Strauss, Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 2, 2000; Page A1
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A60473-2000Feb1.html

[Note last paragraphs of articles:]

<snip>

Researcher Phil Pellett echoed the sentiments of many scientists. He does not condone misleading the public but said it sometimes would be a "bigger crime" to follow Congress's direction rather than spend money where science dictates.

Pellett grew furious when an auditor questioned the propriety of funding his herpesvirus research with chronic fatigue money.

According to the auditor's notes, Pellett demanded, "How can some congressman know better than we what the important public health issues are?"

<snip>