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Sent: 16 June 2004 07:23
Subject: 2: Traditional fermentation in developing countries // GE microorganisms
This is from Suzanne Wuerthele. I have worked for 20 years as a toxicologist and risk assessor at a US regulatory agency. My educational background is in biology, teaching science and pharmacology.
The Background Document does not use much detail in describing the use of traditional fermentation processes in developing countries, but this is necessary to allow an informed judgement of whether, and in what situations, commerical genetically engineered (GE) microorganisms might be beneficial. The document only stated that traditional processes are "uncontrolled and are dependent on microorganisms from the environment or the fermentation substrate for initiation of the fermentation processes. Such processes, therefore, result in products of low yield and variable quality", and that fermented foods made by traditional means "nevertheless, find wide consumer acceptance in developing countries and contribute substantially to food security and nutrition."I have two suggestions:
First, perhaps participants who have actually seen the use of traditional fermentation in developing countries could help the rest of us get a better understanding of where it is working and, where it is not, why it is not working. Certainly a problem must be understood before an appropriate solution can be chosen.
Secondly, it would be helpful if there were some discussion of potential environmental, human health and especially social (e.g., economic) effects of the use of commercial GE microorganisms. Even if such an organism were very useful in a particular application, it is important to be able to anticipate the entire ramifications of that use.
Suzanne Wuerthele, Ph.D., D.A.B.T.
U.S. EPA Region 8
Denver Place, Suite 300
999 18th Street
Denver, CO 80202
1-800-227-8917 (in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah,Wyoming)
e-mail: Wuerthele.Suzanne (at) epamail.epa.gov
[Regarding traditional fermentation in developing countries, it might be worth pointing out that in the years 1998-2000, FAO published three important documents on food fermentations in developing countries as part of its Agricultural Services Bulletin series. The three publications document information on fermentation technologies which are rapidly being lost, and highlight potential areas for the development and improvement of fermentations in developing countries. The first in the series (nr. 134) is entitled "Fermented fruits and vegetables: A global perspective" by Mike Battcock and Sue Azam-Ali. The second (nr. 138) is entitled "Fermented cereals: A global prespective" with chapter 1 by Norman F. Haard; chapter 2 (Africa) by S.A. Odunfa, chapter 3 (Asia-Pacific) by Cherl-Ho Lee and chapter 4 (Latin America) by Rodolfo Quintero-Ramírez, Argelia Lorence-Quinones and Carmen Wacher-Rodarte. The third (nr. 142) is entitled "Fermented grain legumes, seeds and nuts: A global perspective" with chapter 1 by S.S. Deshpande and D.K. Salunkhe; chapter 2 (Africa) by O.B. Oyewole; chapter 3 (Asia-Pacific) by Sue Azam-Ali and Mike Battcock and chapter 4 (Latin America) by R. Bressani. The first 2 publications are available free on the web - see http://www.fao.org/ag/ags/resources/en/bulletins.html ...Moderator]