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Sent: 14 June 2002 09:42
Subject: 45: Re: Gene flow in centers of origin and diversity
In response to the contribution by Rainer Krell (message 41, June 12):
The question: "What is more compromising to a farmer's future: risk of a concrete loss or risk of unkown benefit?".
What is the evidence that a concrete loss to biodiversity has been experienced by the deployment of the technology? I am not aware of any, but would like to be enlightened.
Secondly, the benefits are hardly unknown. One only has to point to the example of the benefit to poor farmers in Hawaii resulting from the deployment of PRSV papaya as a concrete example. [Transgenic papaya have been commercialised that are resistant to papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) in Hawaii and which contain the coat protein of a PRSV isolate...Moderator]. Also, one cannot ignore the concrete benefit that could be gained by the deployment of virus resistant cassava if it were to be developed. In 1994, 3,000 deaths in Uganda were attributed to famine-related illnesses caused by African Cassava Mosaic virus (see http://www.idrc.ca/reports/read_article_english.cfm?article_num=558).
Another concrete example of benefits: Bt cotton being grown by poor farmers in South Africa is providing added income and increasing their standard of living. Benefits of this same technology in China has also been shown.
Crop Technology Consulting, Inc.
2524 East G Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49004
hdquemada (at) croptechnology.com
Sent: 14 June 2002 09:48
Subject: 46: Participants in developing nations
Now the conference has reached its half way mark.The focus of the ongoing conference is especially on the developing nations, but to my disappointment the number of participants from these countries are not that much. Because participants from these nations could give valuable messages to the conference on gene flow from GM to non-GM organisms, that would enable to address the issue in much broader spectrum.
M.Sc- in Biotechnology
Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture,
University of Peradeniya,
muhunthan_r (at) yahoo.com
Sent: 14 June 2002 10:24
Subject: 47: Barbaric pollution
I am Glenn Ashton, an independent analyst and researcher of GMOs and related issues based in Cape Town, South Africa.
On the issue of semantics and emotive language, it seems there remains a great deal of sensitivity, especially from commercial, research and academic interests, toward anything perceived as negative, such as the term "genetic pollution". The Oxford dictionary defines pollute as; contaminate or defile, or destroy the purity or sanctity (of the environment). Under this definition it is clear that the term "genetic pollution" is neither emotive nor misleading, as demonstrated by the Mexican maize contamination saga. The centre of diversity has been polluted in exactly the terms that frame this discussion. Recognition of this pollution, coupled to an assumption of responsibility by corporate promoters of genetic engineering would be more than welcome at this late stage, as would be an attempt to curb the public relations spin and slanted language of which they are far more guilty than those they accuse of emotive cant.
In this light it is worrying to note the ambivalent and rather misleading posting about transgenic experimentation in the centre of potato diversity. This is precisely the sort of confused logic that led to the Mexican maize pollution. We must also be beware of the duplicity behind the suggestion that GMO pollution somehow improves the landraces it has polluted. This is biological barbarism, not enhancement.
Perhaps it would be useful to broaden this discussion away from the focus on existing recombinant technology. Much of the discussion about GURTs/terminator, male or female sterilisation and other mechanisms to deal with the inevitable problems of genetic pollution, ignore modalities that would be far more acceptable than the present crude and problematic genetic barbarism. [GURTS = Genetic Use Restriction Technology...Moderator]
The potential of marker assisted breeding (MAB) and other genomic mapping and tracing presents a preferable route of exploiting our expanding knowledge of genomics and proteomics. The genetic instability inherent in viral and "gene gun" transfer vectors is precisely the problem that needs to be controlled, with evidence of pleiotropy and other instability becoming problematic, despite denials from Monsanto and others (that will continue ad nauseam). If we instead concentrate on genetic enhancement mechanisms that are acceptable in terms of environmental pollution, health risks and stability, there is a far greater chance of not only success, but also of acceptance by farmers, the public and regulatory agencies.
The present crude forms of recombinant genetic transfer hold significant risk. With the examples of gene stacking in canola and other weedy relatives, the problem is real, denials notwithstanding. Many less developed nations have greater biodiversity coupled to inadequate monitoring that amplifies the risk of inadvertent gene flow. The concept of "botanical files" [referred to by Niels Louwaars in message 19 of June 6...Moderator] offers some solutions, but again, capacity is an issue.
Genetics does hold promise for food security. However, powerful corporate pressures threaten progress in an apparent determination to dismiss relevant social, scientific, environmental, economic and other concerns. Contrary to assumptions and postings on this list and elsewhere, these concerns extend far beyond the scientific arena. Genetic pollution/flow is only one of the things that can, has and will continue to go wrong with the present generation of GMOs. There are better, safer and proven ways to increase food security, as well as far more promising genetic methods, like proteomics and MAB. Unfortunately the present thrust risks much, simply for short-term profit at our collective long-term cost, with insufficient attendant responsibility.
Genetics is a nascent field of science. In the early days of this science, the public was promised consultation and inclusion. Instead marginalisation, ignoral and overridden concerns became the norm. This must change if this technology is to be accepted as truly beneficial. Gene flow is one aspect of concern that is primarily relevant to GMOs; moving beyond GMOs will result in a diminution of these concerns.
ekogaia (at) iafrica.com
Sent: 14 June 2002 13:21
Subject: 48: Gene flow in Africa
I am Gurling Bothma, working for the Agricultural Research Council - Roodeplaat, South Africa.
With regard to Rajaratnam Muhunthan's message (46, June 14) regarding gene flow in the developing world, I think there is silence from the side of Africa because only South Africa grows GM crops commercially and Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Mauritius and Egypt are doing GM trials.
In the case of South Africa, none of the crops have compatible weed crops, so the only gene flow consideration is that from the GM crop to a non-GM crop. At my institute, we are beginning field trials with sorghum to investigate gene flow of a crop in its centre of origin. I don't believe much research has specifically gone into gene flow in GM crops in Africa.
Gurling C Bothma
Vegetable and Ornamental Plant Institute
e-mail: gbothma (at) vopi.agric.za
TEL: +27 (0)12 8419659 or 8419611
FAX: +27 (0)12 8081499