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For further information on the Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and
Agriculture see Forum website.
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Sent: 06 July 2002 11:08
Subject: 111: Re: The gene flow discussion
I find the remarks by Mr. Blanchfield (message 109, July 5) highly offensive to the participants of this debate who in my opinion have mainly focused on geneflow in what I consider a valuable and rather respectful exchange of thoughts. It is a pity to see this spoiled at the last day by the remarks of mr. Blanchfield. Side points that were made were, in my opinion, oftentimes needed to explain the rationale behind the thinking. For example: some proponents of GE see no problem in GE geneflow because, for them, GE is similar to classical breeding. In such a situation it is justified to point to the difference of transgenes and to remark that the used gene constucts in GE are really fundamentally different from classical breeding. It is disgraceful to refer to this as "prejudices and unshakebly fundamentalist positions by people from political groups". This certainly does not help to get a rational debate!
It is amusing to see that mr. Blanchfield does exactly that which he unjustifiably reproaches others for: rather than talking about geneflow, he starts about the subject of HACCP, by the way an instrument that hinders and destroys many tradional methods and practices of foodmaking and is conveniently used by the EU to block imports from Southern countries. Talk about using this forum as a parade for an agenda!
Wytze de Lange
De Wittenstraat 43-45
1052 AL Amsterdam
Sent: 06 July 2002 11:16
Subject: 112: Geneflow and Sustainable Agriculture
This is Patrick Mulvany, a so far silent reader of this very stimulating e-conference.
I just want to inform you that you can continue this debate on the impact of geneflow on agriculture in the Sustainable Agriculture (SARD) E-Conference, next week. It will focus on Access to Genetic Resources and Agricultural Biodiversity in relation to sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD). Geneflow of patented and modified organisms is a crucial process that may restrict access to genetic resources and could disrupt genetic integrity.
More information is given below
Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG),
Patrick_Mulvany (at) compuserve.com
From Monday through Wednesday (8-10 July) and continuing, there will be a discussion on Access to Genetic Resources in the context of SARD - sustainable agriculture and rural development. I am co-chairing this section with IPGRI.
The inital discussion will focus on limits to access through IPRs, GMOs, changes in agricultural systems, cultures, tastes, markets, policies, governance and so on. We are looking for examples of how access is being limited and how agricultural biodiversity is being eroded, thus by definition decisively limiting access. The second discussion period (22-24 July) will look mainly at positive solutions, proposals and ways forward.
Do register by going to this page:
< http://www.fao.org/wssd/SARD/eforum_en.htm > and click on "Have you registered?". You will receive background papers and information......and can contribute ideas, case studies, provocative thoughts...whatever...The output from this e-conference will be presented at the WSSD in Johannesburg in August. This is a potentially useful tool for promoting the issues we are campaigning on and have highlighted in the World Food Summit process. If you are having difficulty registering, let me know... there are ways of doing this via email only, rather than through the internet. If you want more information, please let me know.
Welcome to the Electronic Forum on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) in preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).
An Electronic Forum on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development
In preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization in collaboration with members of Major Groups invites you to participate in an Electronic Forum to promote SARD (land, water, genetic resources and food security) and to invite, explore and develop SARD implementation initiatives related to: Access to Resources; SARD Good Practices, Principles and Case Studies; and Fair Conditions for Employment in Agriculture. The E-Forum will be implemented from June 24 to August 17 2002. We look forward to your participation in this event!
Sent: 06 July 2002 11:18
Subject: 113: Re: The gene flow discussion
Prof Blanchfields suggestion (message 109, July 5) to adopt HACCP processes is flawed due mainly to that system being focussed on production systems and not on the complexities of genetics per se. However, HACCP processes may be useful for assisting in Identity Preservation (IP) regulation for tracking transgenic crops, especially picking up where, and if, gene flow has occurred between commercial crops. This may, however, result in a de facto non-tariff barrier that prejudices developing nations due to lack of capacity. HACCP is fine for developed nations with well established agro-industrial systems but in less developed nations may remain problematic for many years hence.
ekogaia (at) iafrica.com
Sent: 06 July 2002 11:24
Subject: 114: We must consider reciprocal gene flow between GM and non-GM populations
My name is Dr. Hyoji NAMAI, and am a retired professor of Plant Breeding, Institute of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Tsukuba, Japan. At present I am a part-time lecturer of Faculty of Agriculture, Tamagawa University.
More than 30 years ago, I started to study pollination biology in brassica crops, common buckwheat, cultivated rice, etc. Based on the studies, I could find a simple conclusion on plant reproductive systems as follows:
It is strongly said that most plants are mixed pollinating ones (mixer) instead of self-pollinating (selfers, autogamous plant) and cross-pollinating (outcrossers, allogamous plant). There are wide inter- and intra-varietal variations in every cultivated species we studied. Each flower of a plant should perform different breeding systems depending upon the inner and outer conditions of the plant. Sexual reproductive systems in the plant kingdom are easily variable.
The theme of the conference is "Gene flow from GM to non-GM population", but reciprocal gene flow could easily occur between GM and non-GM plants, regardless of reproductive systems (allogamous vs autogamous) as well as whether insect pollinated or wind pollinated, etc. So, we must consider reciprocal gene flow between GM and non-GM populations as well as the isolation distance between them. Otherwise, even if the GM variety is completely safe, it can easily be polluted by non-GM pollen and its unique characteristic may be ruined in the course of time.
Dr. Hyoji Namai
15-18 Nakaarakawaoki, Tsuchiura, 300-1175
e-mail: hyohyon (at) jcom.home.ne.jp
Sent: 06 July 2002 11:29
Subject: 115: Developing countries, risk assessment and biotechnology
This is Tom Nickson, and I wish to make two points as my final contribution.
Some members of this forum have questioned the appropriateness of risk/benefit analysis as a basis for prudent making decisions regarding GM crops in developing nations. I have thought much about this, and still fail to see the logic of the argument. The two basic elements required to conduct a risk/benefit assessment are scientific capacity to interpret experimental science and some form of public policy to assesses criteria for acceptability (i.e., define benefit and risk). It is inconceivable to me that a country in this world does not have people with the scientific and public policy capabilities. As such, I firmly believe that a scientifically based, risk assessment that integrates social aspects is the appropriate tool for decision making anywhere in the world.
Finally, it has not surprised me that the opinions expressed in this forum were emotionally charged and highly polarized, reflecting deep-seated personal beliefs. Many of the contributions I read gave me cause to reflect on my own fundamental beliefs that are the basis of why I do the work I do. I share these with the forum so that those who care to better understand may do so.
I firmly believe that biotechnology is a valuable tool that will enable people produce food more efficiently anywhere in the world. Two quotes from M. Ghandi are relevant and inspiring to me:
First, "Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you have seen, and ask yourself, if the steps you contemplate are going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore to him control over his own life and destiny?"
And second: "Note down these words of an old man past the age of three score and ten: In the times to come the people will not judge us by the creed we profess or the label we wear or the slogans we shout, but by our work, industry, sacrifice, honesty and purity of character. They will want to know what we have actually done for them. But if you do not listen, if taking advantage of the prevailing misery and discontent of the people, you set about to accentuate and exploit it for party ends, it will recoil upon your head and even God will not forgive you for your betrayal of the people."
I feel that if I didn't work toward the safe and prudent development of improved agricultural production systems, I would not be true to my beliefs.
Thomas E. Nickson, Ph.D.
Ecological Technology Center
Monsanto Company, V2B
800 N. Lindbergh Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63141
thomas.nickson (at) monsanto.com
Sent: 06 July 2002 11:34
Subject: 116: Gene flow - IN or OUT
It appears to me that all the discussions in this conference is about the flow of gene from GM to non-GM populations, because that was the way the conference topic was designed.
If I take the liberty of defining - "Gene-flow IN" as - Flow of the 'transgene' which hitherto did not exist in the gene pool of a species from outside of its gene pool, through genetic engineering by human intervention. Human intervention is necessitated due to the sexual barriers which prevent the gene flow IN.
"Gene-flow OUT" as - Flow of the 'transgene' from a GMO to outside its gene pool due to lack of sexual barriers or existence of a very low level of out crossing.
Many of the concerns expressed so far on the "gene-flow OUT" may be true, may not be true, may be hypothetical, or may be real but yet to happen, etc. Whatever they may be, it is a MUST that the gene-flow, both IN and OUT, are safe to the recipient species and to the environment in which they live - be it animals or plants.
One thought that runs in my mind is that if the Bio-safety protocols currently regulating the determination of the safety of a transgene in the recipient species include tests on the expression of transgene and its environmental effects in the related (naturally crossable) species, then the Bio-safety concerns will cover both gene-flow IN and OUT. This should apply to both animals and plants. I believe in this matter, there are no apparent differences between developing and developed countries.
Dr M J Vasudeva Rao
e-mail: vasrao (at) advantaindia.com
Sent: 06 July 2002 11:40
Subject: 117: Developing countries and biotechnology
Swapan Datta from IRRI, Philippines
The comments made by Juan F. Gallego-Beltran about developing countries and biotechnology (message 108, July 5) is interesting as his final comment was "sorry for not commenting with any research "FACTS or DATA"
In fact, technology (GE) not only developed or created mostly by the developed countries is also being used in their countries too. See the data of Clive James (ISAAA Briefs 2001, 2002) on how much GE improved crop products produced and commercialized in USA and other countries. Many scientists from the developing countries, including plant breeders, are not much concerned regarding gene flow nor they would be so much interested to spend money on a project to see how gene flow works or if there is any negative impact in the environment. Rather, they would be interested to use some useful genes to improve their crops so that more and improved nutritious foods can be produced for their real need and consumption. In my opinion, they are not passive readers rather active in judging things from the practical and realistic point of view. Many transgenic crops are now in the field of China, similarly Bt cotton, Bt rice, BB rice and several other crops are now being field tested in India and other Asian countries. It is a positive move and I believe, it will continue like that.
Nevertheless, all food safety, biosafety, positive and negative impacts should be studied so that people can have the right information which is applicable for all people irrespective of their origin or use in place and improved foods are any way good for all (Please also see my earlier comments in message 7, June 3).
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI),
S.DATTA (at) CGIAR.ORG
Sent: 06 July 2002 11:58
Subject: 118: Gene flow is ubiquitous
Whenever a new plant variety is released, gene flow occurs, since the new variety has new genes and/or new combinations of genes. Such gene flow has been occurring for centuries and has affected landraces, germplasm banks, farmer-saved seed, etc., worldwide. Gene flow is expected, predicted and in almost all cases, uneventful.
When we released the first biotech crops, we had spent several years conducting safety (risk) assessments to determine whether the transgenes would have an adverse effect on the environment. In all cases, we knew that the transgenes would move to wild relatives and to fields containing the conventionally-bred crop. Our risk assessments generally gave such gene flow a probability of 1. We then calculated what the effect of such gene flow would be. So, by demonstrating that the transgene had no adverse effect, we expected that this transgene would become just another new plant gene (and that once the patents expired in 17-20 years, would be available for everyone to use however they wished).
However, various countries and production/trading groups decided that they wanted to exclude transgenes from their products, regardless of the results of safety studies and approvals by various government agencies. The developers and farmers who use biotech seeds are willing to meet reasonable product tolerances, such as those established for field corn "contamination" into sweet corn. Unfortunately, those who oppose the use of biotech crops have not established tolerances which can be achieved.
Gene flow evaluations will continue to be done on existing and new biotech crops. There is no argument that this should be done, although those who profit from conducting such studies may continue to assert that not enough studies have been done. To date, however, the only difference between transgene and conventional gene flow is that the former can be easily tracked.
Unfortunately, with the creation of the concept that transgene gene flow is "contamination" which must be avoided, we now have an untenable situation without a reasonable solution. No amount of gene flow studies will convince biotech opponents that a transgene is safe. There is one curious "solution," however, that has spread from Argentina to India to Mexico to Thailand (1,2): farmer activism, in which farmers are choosing to grow biotech crops prior to official approvals by their government.
1. Purvi Mehta-Bhatt and Joaquim Machado , LMOs & the Environment, 11/01 Durham, NC [refers to the OECD-organised conference "LMOs and the Environment: An International Conference: Raleigh-Durham, the United States, 27-30 November 2001 - http://www1.oecd.org/ehs/raleigh/programme.htm ...Moderator]
2. E. Todd, IFT Annual Meeting, 6/02 Anaheim, CA [refers to the annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists held in Anaheim, Canada...Moderator].
Dr. Keith Redenbaugh
Associate Director, Regulatory Affairs
Seminis Vegetable Seeds
37437 State Highway 16
Woodland, California 95695
530 669 6170
530 666 4426 fax
keith.redenbaugh (at) seminis.com