Biotechnology and Farming

Hamburg/Pinnebog, MI(Zone 6a)

I thought you would all like to look at some Q & A on Bio & Farming and also maybe it will help those here that do not fully understand what we talk about at times. See if you agree with what is being put out.

Biotechnology FAQ Scientists at the American Feed Industry Association put this list together to address current questions.
What is biotechnology? Biotechnology is the use of living organisms or biological techniques to make new products such as bread, cheese, wine and beer, which has occurred for centuries. Modern biotechnology or genetic engineering involves the transfer of DNA from one living organism to another.
Do consumers benefit? Yes. Consumers will likely see higher quality and greater availability of food products. Improvements include iron- and vitamin A-enriched rice and canola oil, firmer apples, sweeter bananas, lower-cholesterol eggs and milk with "good" fats, as well as low saturated fat and higher performance cooking oils.
Do biotechnology benefits outweigh potential risks? Products on the market today--following rigorous scientific and government review--demonstrate almost no risk to consumers. The so-called potential risks of biotechnology are generally speculative. Foods derived from biotechnology are as safe, if not safer, than traditional foods.
Will biotechnology have an adverse environmental impact? Based on reviews by USDA and EPA, there is no reason to believe biotech plants will negatively affect the environment.
Isn't biotechnology disrupting nature's balance? For more than 200 years man has been enhancing the genetics of plants and animals by selectively cross-breeding for the best traits.
Are there sufficient long-term tests to see how safe biotech ingredients are? Yes. Hundreds of field tests have been performed routinely, some lasting years, and there is continuous monitoring of the crops, food and environment to determine any unforeseen concerns.
What government agencies regulate biotechnology? FDA regulates the food and feed uses of biotech-developed plants. USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulates the environmental impact of crop and grain production. EPA regulates the plant-expressed protectants, cross pollination and crop protection aspects.
Where can I get reliable information about biotechnology? The federal government's policies can be found at www.fda.gov/, www.epa.gov/, www.aphis.usda.gov). The life science seed companies developing these products provide information on the science behind their products, or you can contact your county extension agent or land-grant university for more information. Many trade associations also provide information like the International
Food Information Council; Biotechnology Industry Organization; and National food Processors Association. What does the rest of the world think of biotechnology? By the end of 1999, the European Union (EU) had approved four corn varieties, one soybean variety and three canola varieties. There is now a moratorium on approvals, primarily for political reasons. EU scientists agree with U.S. regulators that biotech products are safe. Canada has approved 53 all-plant varieties; Japan, 31. In the United States, there are 16 corn varieties, 11 soybean varieties, six canola varieties, 17 potato varieties, five cotton varieties and two beet varieties. Globally, there are more than a dozen countries with regulations in place and many others where these products can be sold (imported) without formal regulations.
Won't new human allergies develop as crops and ingredients are changed? The likelihood is low. In fact, studies show there's as much likelihood of any allergic reaction to a GM plant as there is to a conventional plant. Testing for allergenicity is included in the safety studies prior to offering the product.
Why not ban GMs? To arbitrarily ban a new technology makes no sense. Everyone loses. That attitude stifles innovation and research. Three federal agencies agree these GM products and co-products are safe. The federal government does not regulate products based on theoretical risk.
Is biotechnology safe for humans and animals? Yes. Three independent government agencies--FDA, USDA and EPA--(in an integrated regulatory framework) reviewed the science behind all biotech products in the marketplace. They are confident biotech products and co-products, such as corn oil and corn sweetener, are safe for both humans and animals.
Is it true that genetically altered corn killed monarch butterflies? If so, will it harm my children or me? Scientists and government regulators are confident in the safety of biotech products. Recent scientific studies show pollen from biotech grains is not any more likely to cause harm to butterflies than pollen from non-biotech corn. Won't pollen from biotech crops contaminate other plants? According to EPA, this issue has been addressed by farmer agreements to build buffers around their fields and agreements to limit plantings until more is known about the likelihood of this particular situation. Studies also show pollen will only survive a short time in soils and is dependent on wind velocity, etc. Thus, the chance of inadvertent cross-pollination is lowered.
How can a biotech ingredient be called a natural food when it isn't natural? FDA does not define "natural" for food products, except for pet food. USDA has a definition of "natural" for meat, but none for fruits, grains and vegetables. USDA has announced GM products will be excluded in the definition of "organic" products.
Why are Europeans against biotech products? European concerns are basically activist driven. Recent food safety scares have heightened consumer skepticism. When FDA, USDA and EPA were asked if additional regulatory safeguards are needed, each agency told a Senate committee "no." Currently, most genetically engineered crops directly impact farm economics.
What crops are planned to directly benefit consumers? Direct consumer benefits are admittedly limited today, but in the future, life-science seed companies envision varieties of fruits and vegetables that will have longer shelf life, more or different flavors, more important nutrients (like iron, vitamins, calcium), or nutrients impacting quality of life (trans-fatty acids, better fat balances). Some foods may even deliver vaccines or medicines.
Why is it taking so long to develop and market foods with consumer benefits? Farmers are the primary customers of these companies, so they were first asked what traits they needed in their crops and which varieties they would plant. This is the first generation of biotechnology crops. Many of the next generation of biotech crops will have traits benefiting consumers.
Are activists and the media overreacting to the biotech issue? A small and vocal group of activists are raising the most concern--most of it speculative. According to surveys done in the United States, most of the public is either unaware or unconcerned by these issues. In Europe, a survey of 16,000 adults found biotechnology near the bottom on their list of environmental concerns. The overwhelming majority of the scientific community supports biotechnology and the safe use of these products in our food. The media needs to be educated to be able to report accurately and objectively on the benefits, promises and limits of biotechnology.





Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Hi Tom,
The last questions do rather get to the crux of the problem, like the , er, "gentleman" who has the Milk Sucks web site, there is very little actual investigation into the research that is being done, and very little knowledge on the part of those who yell the loudest. The aforemention, um, person has admitted to the media that he tells lies if they further his particular agenda and that he makes these lies available to the public through his site and media campaigns.

did you see the spot on 60 Minutes 2 last week. Of course, 60 Minutes has always had a definite bias, but even when they try to display an evenhandedness, they destroy it with the wording of the questions.

Also telling is the way surveys are worded. "Unaware" and "Unconcerned" are not the same thing, unless your setting up a computer model from survey results.

Thanks for putting this up.

Kathleen

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Tom, the easiest way for me to comment is to take the Q&A apart and reply to each of them. I'll try to condense. :)


"What is biotechnology? ...... which has occurred for centuries. Modern biotechnology or genetic engineering involves the transfer of DNA from one living organism to another."
That's stretching the truth just a tad don't you think? Especially the part about occurring for centuries. Nature, and not the manipulation of genes, has changed the makeup of our environment for centuries.

"Do consumers benefit? Yes."
All I can say is we'll see about that...eh? ;)

"Do biotechnology benefits outweigh potential risks? Products on the market today--following rigorous scientific and government review--demonstrate almost no risk to consumers. The so-called potential risks of biotechnology are generally speculative. Foods derived from biotechnology are as safe, if not safer, than traditional foods."
I jusy LOVE this one. Notice the word "almost" as in "almost" no risk. As for the so-called potential risks being speculative. That's true. It's true because not enough testing has been done to actually KNOW if they are as safe as they seem to think they are.

"Will biotechnology have an adverse environmental impact? Based on reviews by USDA and EPA, there is no reason to believe biotech plants will negatively affect the environment."
Oh really? Maybe they need to go read their own workshop proceedings. I posted the link to some workshop proceedings and field tests on the topic "GM foods continued".

"Isn't biotechnology disrupting nature's balance? For more than 200 years man has been enhancing the genetics of plants and animals by selectively cross-breeding for the best traits."
Cross breeding yes...gene splicing NO. Look at transgenic crops. I guess that jellyfish just happened to meet a potato one day and they fell in love?

"Are there sufficient long-term tests to see how safe biotech ingredients are? Yes. Hundreds of field tests have been performed routinely, some lasting years, and there is continuous monitoring of the crops, food and environment to determine any unforeseen concerns."
IMHO,this is a very misleading statement. Notice that "some" field tests last for years NOT all. The "years" they are referring to are frequently 2 years. Go read for yourself the field tests on the link I provided in GM foods continued.

"What government agencies regulate biotechnology? FDA regulates the food and feed uses of biotech-developed plants. USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulates the environmental impact of crop and grain production. EPA regulates the plant-expressed protectants, cross pollination and crop protection aspects."
Guess who's in bed with the USDA? That's right...Monsanto. How convenient for Monsanto don't you think?

"Where can I get reliable information about biotechnology? The federal government's policies can be found at www.fda.gov/, www.epa.gov/, www.aphis.usda.gov)......"
Expect to hear their ONLY what they want you to know. You'll find nothing negative about anything there.

"What does the rest of the world think of biotechnology? By the end of 1999, the European Union (EU) had approved four corn varieties, one soybean variety and three canola varieties. There is now a moratorium on approvals, primarily for political reasons. EU scientists agree with U.S. regulators that biotech products are safe. Canada has approved 53 all-plant varieties; Japan, 31. In the United States, there are 16 corn varieties, 11 soybean varieties, six canola varieties, 17 potato varieties, five cotton varieties and two beet varieties. Globally, there are more than a dozen countries with regulations in place and many others where these products can be sold (imported) without formal regulations."
Next they'll be telling us that the rest of the world is wrong about biotech crops. Pathetic isn't it?

"Won't new human allergies develop as crops and ingredients are changed? The likelihood is low. In fact, studies show there's as much likelihood of any allergic reaction to a GM plant as there is to a conventional plant. Testing for allergenicity is included in the safety studies prior to offering the product."
The likelihood of problems is low unless you're allergic to it of course. Can you believe this BS? I guess they've forgotten about the Brazilian nut fiasco. They must be suffering from short term memory lost.

"Why not ban GMs? To arbitrarily ban a new technology makes no sense. Everyone loses. That attitude stifles innovation and research. Three federal agencies agree these GM products and co-products are safe. The federal government does not regulate products based on theoretical risk."
Everyone loses? You mean the USDA and companies like Monsanto and others lose....M-O-N-E-Y. It's the same old story of greed and power, IMHO.

"Is biotechnology safe for humans and animals? Yes. Three independent government agencies--FDA, USDA and EPA--(in an integrated regulatory framework) reviewed the science behind all biotech products in the marketplace. They are confident biotech products and co-products, such as corn oil and corn sweetener, are safe for both humans and animals."
Excuse me but didn't they leave some products off the list?
Yes, I know so!!!

"Is it true that genetically altered corn killed monarch butterflies? If so, will it harm my children or me? Scientists and government regulators are confident in the safety of biotech products. Recent scientific studies show pollen from biotech grains is not any more likely to cause harm to butterflies than pollen from non-biotech corn."
(yawn) Again, they need to read their own reports.

"Won't pollen from biotech crops contaminate other plants? According to EPA, this issue has been addressed by farmer agreements to build buffers around their fields and agreements to limit plantings until more is known about the likelihood of this particular situation. Studies also show pollen will only survive a short time in soils and is dependent on wind velocity, etc. Thus, the chance of inadvertent cross-pollination is lowered."
Limit plantings until more is known? What? I thought they said they had dome thorough field studies for years and everything was just hunky dory!!! Why would a person limit plantings? Didn't they say "don't worry be happy"???

"How can a biotech ingredient be called a natural food when it isn't natural? FDA does not define "natural" for food products, except for pet food. USDA has a definition of "natural" for meat, but none for fruits, grains and vegetables. USDA has announced GM products will be excluded in the definition of "organic" products."
Why is the USDA excluding GM products? Hmmmmmmm.

"Why are Europeans against biotech products? European concerns are basically activist driven. Recent food safety scares have heightened consumer skepticism. When FDA, USDA and EPA were asked if additional regulatory safeguards are needed, each agency told a Senate committee "no." Currently, most genetically engineered crops directly impact farm economics."
Activist driven? PULEEZE, spare me the hype! I guess all of Europe and countless other countries have rejected GM foods for no reason at all...right?

What crops are planned to directly benefit consumers? Direct consumer benefits are admittedly limited today, but in the future, life-science seed companies envision varieties of fruits and vegetables that will have longer shelf life, more or different flavors, more important nutrients (like iron, vitamins, calcium), or nutrients impacting quality of life (trans-fatty acids, better fat balances). Some foods may even deliver vaccines or medicines.
Benefits are limited today? What? I thought they were supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread and safer too!!! Vaccines and medicine may be delivered in crops??? STOP right there!!! You're scaring me!!!

"Why is it taking so long to develop and market foods with consumer benefits? Farmers are the primary customers of these companies, so they were first asked what traits they needed in their crops and which varieties they would plant. This is the first generation of biotechnology crops. Many of the next generation of biotech crops will have traits benefiting consumers."
Wait a darn minute!!! Wouldn't biotech crops benefit consumers indirectly? I thought they said they were safer. Farmers are the primary customers? Yup, you're right. Farmers (and the general public) are the guinea pigs for your little experiments. Of course, your charging an arm and a leg for them though aren't you? When they don't work, I'm sure you'll say "sorry, folks, you're SOL."

"Are activists and the media overreacting to the biotech issue? A small and vocal group of activists are raising the most concern--most of it speculative. According to surveys done in the United States, most of the public is either unaware or unconcerned by these issues. In Europe, a survey of 16,000 adults found biotechnology near the bottom on their list of environmental concerns. The overwhelming majority of the scientific community supports biotechnology and the safe use of these products in our food. The media needs to be educated to be able to report accurately and objectively on the benefits, promises and limits of biotechnology."
Did you say "MOST" of it is speculative? What about the part that's NOT speculative? Not enough testing has been done to really know the impact of biotech prodects.

Well, that's my 2 cents. Now do you want to know what I REALLY think? ROFL

Terri



New Paris, OH

I think in a country that is so into labelling, products that contain GMO's should be labelled as such. If GMO's are such a great thing why aren't the companies who sell willing to let the public know which foods have GMO in them? We know that the biotech folk have marvelous spin doctors as is evidenced by the above. i meaqn according to Monsanto What can't GMO do? They almost will walk your dog and i am sure they have such a plant in the works.

What they don't tell us is that scientist use a gene gun to splice DNA into a gene. This means the removal of some of the native DNA, which is referred to as junk DNA. We call it junk because we don't know what it does, not because it really is junk. We are just starting out in biotech, the science was born in the 50's. And already we have commercialized crops that have brpought on problems bith in the field of geneitcs and in the infrastructure. until the Starliunk debecale there was no segrgation and the convetional; wisdom was that segregation is impossible (and yet organic farmers do it all the time). Now we are beginning to have grain segration. we were told RoundUp resistant weeds wouldn't happen but now there are two. Now Monsanto claims these weeds will never be a problem-one of the weeds is quackgrass, I will like to see them keep that under control. There are just too many claims by this industry that are not true, including the use of pesticides/herbicides. it takes a 10 year study to proove these claims and GMO have been in common use less than 5.

I keep hearing how the activists always lie but the multinationals are always truthful. Yeah...right.

GMO's are also making the American farmer more economically stable, is this true? Have RUR beans, cotton and corn/Bt cotton/corn helped your bottom line for real? it seems to me you are paying more for seed, you are locked into buying certian chemicals usually not the cheapest and you are getting less back per bushel. I don't see how this helps out the farmer. i see how Novartis et. al. makes money but not the farmer.

[ Removed per member request. - Admin]

Santa Barbara, CA

Tom,

I am just amazed that that group would publish such a puff piece and expect thinking people to swallow such a slanted and self-serving statement. Pete2 and the others hit most of the most serious deficiencies and probable motives.

A FDA survey this past fall found a majority of consumers do not want gmos and a larger number wanted labeling. Other parts of the world has similar sentiments because agribusiness has not proven the case that gmos are needed or add value to the food supply.

What about resistance issues for Bt and RR crops? At least the industry is being forced to address this issue immediately, but what about longer term safety testing, human and environmental...there has not been any, or very few done by independent researchers and publiished in referreed journals? A growing number of researchers are moving away from current GE technology because of the unpredictability over the long run of its gmos derived from rDNA horizontal transfers, interspecies.

I am reading "Against the Grain" written by to toxicologists, Marc Lappe and Britt Bailey, publ. in 1998...a pretty good and clear outline of the history and current trends in biotechnology, mostly focusing on the role of agribusiness in promoting gmos at a rate beyond the ability of science to judge longer-term effects.

To do this subject properly, we would need to have a separate thread for each aspect and have the discipline to stay on thread.

Marsh

Hamburg/Pinnebog, MI(Zone 6a)

Kathleen,I did not see the 60 minutes your are talking about but then I don't watch much commericialize shows.
Terri, that is some good input on the questions.
Me and F-in-L do everything possible to farm safe,crop rotation,cultivation,tank mixes,etc. but we do have to make a living at what we do although its harder to keep up with everything everybody wants from us. Thats why the serious thought to changing to small and different.
If you are all wondering what my thoughts are about all this Bio,GMO,etc. I think that we will not see the real trouble until probably another 5 to 7 yrs from now that is when the second round will kick in and crop diversity will be much more lost. I mean without a agriculture system that is adapted to a community and its environment,self-reliance in agriculture is impossible and then you become more dependent on outside sources of seeds and the inputs needed to grow and protect them and also dependent on which way to grow them.
All genetic engineering has done is made possible the extension of the private ownership and patenting of life forms right down to the level of the gene. The new patenting and intellectual property regulations that I see will permit seed/biotech corp's to continue to freely appropriate unpatented seeds,to modify a single gene of these seeds and then acquire exclusive rights over them.
Seed/biotech corp's have been buying out or taking control of seed banks and smaller seed companies in order to reduce the availability of unpatented and non-hybrid seeds.
there are 2 strategies now being used to prevent farmers from being able to save and replant their seeds from previous years. 1st, seeds may be engineered to be biologically sterile,like hybrid seed of the Green revolution.Hybrid seeds produce high yeilds but do not perform well when saved and replanted making sure farmers have to buy year after year. a technique called "Terminator Technology", (where scientists deliberately engineer any crop variety to be sterile or non-reproducible) has been patented in the US & will be used to target important crops like wheat,rice,soybeans,etc. Also ways are available to engineer directly into the seed's DNA the interests of the corporation,( that where you get what they were talkig about vaccines and medicines)
2nd, all patented seeds will now be legally sterile. The new patenting and plant breeding regulations give patent holders rights which will prohibit farmers from saving and replanting. farmers will have to rebuy or if they save seeds then to pay a royalty to the company.
And if you think how will they find out? to help enforce these GOVERNMENT/CORPORATION regulations,new DNA "finger-printing" techniques will be used to identify the genetic stucture of the plants and therefore OWNERSHIP of the crops growing in the farmers fields.
All of this is taking place without very much knowledge of it on the GP part. But eventually this will effect all growers whether commericail,organic,convential,or just a home gardener. I know I have been rather long on these posts and I'm sorry for that but let me say one thing that is for certain from all the farm info I receive and that is all these laws are only for one thing and that is to put OWNERSHIP & CONTROL of the world's seeds and food into the hands of First World Corporations and right at the moment they are way ahead of all of us and winning the game and 99% of the general public don't even know it.

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Bingo!!! Scary isn't it?

Terri

New Paris, OH

It is scary. Right now something like 5 companies control about 95% of all seed stocks.

Santa Barbara, CA

In the interests of raising the basic understanding of this biotechology and its uses, I'm continuing to post what I think to be useful materials. This is a link with four-part series on the basics of biotechnology published by Rachel's weekly news on environment and technolgy:

http://rachel.org/bulletin/index.cfn?St=3

Tom,

Thank you for your outlining of issues and great analysis on origins and trends. Be aware that the industry sees its future in "traitor technology" in which the crop or animal would require a chemical promoter or suppressor to complete its lifecycle. So the agrochemobiotech company would sell the seed and also the needed properietary material. Also rushing into the scene is apomixis which is to create "seed" asexually, free of endemic viruses and other bad things. These are not necessarily transgenic in origin since apomixis in inherent in lots of species which can reproduce sexually or asexually as conditions dictate.

Along side, of course are "GURTs" (genetic use restriction technologies). Terminator is a V-GURTs which restricts the variety from fully functioning without technological help. The Australian group, CAMBIA, is working on T-GURTs, or trait-specific control of crop. In order to use, let say, cold tolerance trait added to the crop, the farmer would have to apply a patented material. He could decide not to and still get a crop, assuming a freeze didn't come one -- sort of an insurance value-added gene. The farmer could then save the seed or not, depending upon whether or not the original seed would breed true like an OP or a F6 (stable) hybrid.

So you can see that the current level of applied technology is very primitive and crude as well as untested for effects on humans and the environment. Biotechnology itself is only a set of tools and "machine parts". How they are applied makes all the difference.

Marsh

[ Removed per member request. - Admin]

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

I've been reading about traitors and GURTS. (sigh) :(

Hamburg/Pinnebog, MI(Zone 6a)

Patty, go to http://www.competitivemarkets.com

Marshseed,keep up the good work on your posting I can see you are a little more involved in it then I am,as I have just became interested just the last 6 months or so. The reason for me is that at 50 yrs old I have been put into the situation of having to determine what to do with a lifestyle that has provided for 3 generations and 2 separate
families. As for technology being primitive at this stage it is but it is gaining by leaps and bounds as more money is pumped into it by the big corp's.

Santa Barbara, CA

Tom,
At 64 and only 5 intense months on this...but I had a head start with advanced degrees in sciences many years ago. You will notice that I have a tendency to post both sides (even though I don't think "sides" are really involved.) I am looking for as good science as we can get and as good public policies as we deserve.

There is no real hurry to introduce rDNA varieties except for accelerating financial returns on massive investments required for these crash programs. A more worrysome issue is that the industry is coopting major research facilities and abilities in many universities away from other equally or more rewarding research projects. This is not right. Now as western scientist start to look into health and environmental factors, the industry is pushing research in other regions of the world, emphasizing "feeding the world" with a multimillion dollar US advertising campaign. Lots of money being made in the name of agriculture out there,

Narsh

Santa Barbara, CA

I bring this over from my last thread at GW. I need to have it at hand when we deal with these heavy issues.

The Peace of Wild Things

"When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free."

Wendell Berry

Santa Barbara, CA

Tom and all, here is a case of heavy GM pressure on less developed countries, here Indonesia:

THE JAKARTA POST March 17, 2001
Genetically modified cotton seed arrives in Makassar from S. Africa

MAKASSAR, South Sulawesi (JP): A total of
40 tons of genetically modified Bollgard cotton seed
arrived at the Makassar airport from South Africa on
Thursday amid strong protests from environmentalists. The
cotton seed, belonging to U.S.-based Monsanto, was imported
by Jakarta-based PT Monagro Kimia. The seed will be
distributed to seven regencies based on the recommendations
of Minister of Agriculture Bungaran Saragih. A number of
activists, waving banners reading "Reject Genetically
Modified Cotton in South Sulawesi", tried to intercept the
convoy of trucks carrying the cotton seeds, which contain
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), and block them from leaving
the airport. A sign reading "Logistic Depot Rice" was
placed on the front shield of the trucks. The activists
said that genetically modified products should be
prohibited from directly entering the province, because the
goods were still controversial. They should be quarantined
for detailed examination before being distributed, the
activists said. The Ministry of Agriculture issued decree
No. 107/2001 on Feb. 6, 2001, allowing limited sales of
genetically modified seed in Sulawesi. This decree was,
however, criticized by State Minister for the Environment
Sonny Keraf. Sonny has said that his office had to take
precautionary measures as nobody could assure the safety of
such crops (which are scientifically developed). The
authorities had apparently concealed the seed's arrival
from the press. The provincial plantation office denied
reports of the seed's arrival on Thursday morning, but at
approximately 1 p.m. on Thursday The Jakarta Post noticed a
Russian Ilyusin transport plane, with body number IL-76T,
unloading the seed in the airport's military area. The
wide-bodied plane, chartered by Norse Air Charter from
Johannesburg, was tightly guarded, and reporters and
photographers were barred from approaching the plane.

Members of the Indonesian Air Force guarding the area said
that reporters must back off for security reasons. Four
Monsanto officials, president director for Indonesia Hans
Bijlmer, communications manager Tri Soekirman, regional
manager Edwin Mudahar and public affairs officer Wahidin
Alauddin eventually spoke to reporters in the airport
canteen. Tri Soekirman said that the cotton seed was
imported to meet the needs of the province's farmers. "It's
the first import of such seed into the country. There are
at least 400,000 hectares of cotton plantations to be
developed by the farmers here," Tri Soekirman said.

Responding to the environmentalists' protests, he said
that his office had been approaching the non- governmental
organizations. "Apart from the fact that we hold the permit
from the Ministry of Agriculture, we are also taking
precautionary measures. Pros and cons are common in the
world."

"People should not worry about the negative impact of the
crops. There have been no complaints from the U.S., South
Africa, China and Argentina (where genetically modified
cotton has been grown)," he said, adding that Australia had
cultivated genetically modified cotton for the past five
years.

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Marsh, I love "The Peace Of Wild Things"!!! How beautiful!!! :)

Terri

Santa Barbara, CA

Thanks, Kiddo

Wendell Berry is our Agrarian Philosopher and Poet giving voice to those values and communities lost and decrying modern life and times. Pick up one of his numerous books sometimes...helps to ground me when I get too full of myself and my times.

Marsh

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Have you seen this?

"Scientists working for Swiss food giant Novartis have developed and patented a method for 'switching off' the immune systems of plants, to the outrage of environmentalists and Third World charities who believe the new technology to be the most dangerous use so far of gene modification.

Patents filed by Novartis, manufacturers of Ovaltine, reveal that its scientists expect to be able to use the radical biotechnology for almost every crop on Earth.

Novartis claims that the new use of genetic modification will give farmers greater control over disease and boost production. But critics insist that it will make Third World farmers dependent on buying the company's chemicals each year to produce healthy harvests.

A spokeswoman for Novartis said: 'We are trying to help farmers, not hinder them. We are looking at ways to improve the way plants fight disease.'

She agreed that the company had discovered a way of genetically modifying crops so that their immune systems were disabled, but stressed that this was for 'research purposes' only.

The process involves transferring a single DNA molecule, described by the firm as the 'NIM gene', to the plant. This gene then reacts with the plant's immune system, allowing it to be switched on selectively by the use of chemicals when disease threatens. But the patent also describes plants where the entire immune system has been switched off, making them highly prone to disease.

Environmentalists fear the new technology could have a disastrous ecological impact if crops with their immune systems suppressed are allowed to cross-pollinate with surrounding plant life. The use of GM technology, which uses chemicals to activate genetic traits, was specifically condemned by the UN earlier this year. It recommended that the technology should not be field-tested and called for a moratorium on its development until the impact had been fully assessed.

The patent documents seen by The Observer suggest that Novartis intends to use the new GM technology on 'barley, cucumber, tobacco, rice, chilli, wheat, banana and tomato'.

The company cites an extensive list of more than 80 crops, including several cereals, dozens of fruit such as apples, pears and strawberries, vegetables like beans and lentils, and cash crops like cotton and tea.

Alex Wijeratna of Action Aid, a development charity that works with farmers in developing countries, said: 'We find it extremely frightening that such a powerful multi-national is working on this type of technology, which seems aimed at protecting their profits by threatening the rights of poor farmers.'

Dr Sue Mayer, director of Gene Watch, said: 'These companies should halt development of these potentially dangerous products until there has been a proper assessment of whether they are good for agriculture.'"
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4073649,00.html

.

Santa Barbara, CA

Yes, one of the T-Gurts I was talking about, one of the negative possibilities, I am afraid. Breed a crop with suppressed immune system which would require an application of a proprietory material to activate an enhanced immune system. May not even have to introduce alien DNA to do this. Equally scary is to breed into plants the biochemical wherewithall to shut down the immune systems of predators and parasites (pest and diseases). Of course we will be told that eating these foods would pose no danger to us or the environment --NOT!

Marsh

Santa Barbara, CA

Tom,

I visited the OCM website but found it pretty sparse other than litigation stuff and a great set of papers by retired Prof. Ikert from Univ. of Missouri on sustainable and alternative farming. But I couldn't even find out who runs the organization or who is on the board of directors. Wish I had the $200.00 to become a member but cashflow is a bit tight right now. You know anything more about the outfit?

Santa Barbara, CA

Tom,

Have you visited with the Family Farmer.org groups which sends out frequent ag-related alerts and a free Rural UPdates weekly summary:

http://familyfarmer.org/

Marsh

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