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Sent: 28 June 2002 10:09
Subject: 83: GM Contamination of Maize in Mexico
[NB...A final reminder that the last day for participants to send messages is 28th June. I will post the last messages on Saturday morning (Rome time) and the conference will then be closed....Moderator]
I am Peter Rosset. I have a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology and have spent many years studying agricultural systems. I presently reside in Mexico, where the contamination of maize (see below, a new report from my Institute) is quite alarming, to say the least, and speaks eloquently to a moratorium on releases in centers of origin and centers of present-day diversity until we know far more than we do today.
According to a new report, "Genetic Pollution in Mexico's Center of Maize Diversity" (http://www.foodfirst.org/pubs/backgrdrs/2002/sp02v8n2.html) released by Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, the Mexican government has verified the contamination of Mexico's traditional maize varieties in the states of Oaxaca and Puebla, with transgenic material coming from outlawed genetically modified (GM) varieties.
"Maize is one of the world's four major food crops," said Dr. Peter Rosset, co-director of Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, and an expert on this issue. "Farmers and crop breeders worldwide depend on the genetic diversity stored for all of humanity in the local maize races developed over 9,000 years by indigenous people and peasant farmers in Mesoamerica," he said. "Any threat that this contamination poses to those local varieties would be a threat to the future food security of all humankind."
According to the Action Group on Erosion, Technology, and Concentration (ETC group, http://www.etcgroup.org), which produced the report for Food First, the verification on genetic pollution confirms the peer-reviewed findings of University of California researchers David Quist and Ignacio Chapela, which were first published in the scientific journal Nature last year. The researchers faced a barrage of criticism from biotechnology proponents, who pressured Nature to disavow the article contrary to the recommendations of the journals' own scientific advisors.
"This is by far the world's worst case of contamination by genetically modified material because it happened in the place of origin of a major crop," said Dr. Jorge Soberon, Secretary of Mexico's National Biodiversity Commission, who is quoted in the report. "It is confirmed, there is no doubt about it." This comes despite Mexico having outlawed genetically modified (GM) maize in 1998 to protect the Mexican center of origin and center of present-day diversity of this crucial food crop.
According the authors of the report, "the location of the contamination is one of the world's most valuable reservoirs of genetic material for plant breeding and a foundation for global food security." The genetic pollution is believed to have come from the six million tons of unlabeled United States maize imported into Mexico every year.
The report demonstrates the inability of regulatory bodies or industry to manage and contain genetically modified organisms. This reflects a broader conflict over control of genetic resources and security of the food supply in a time when biotechnology is increasingly dominated by corporate interests.
The authors state that this genetic pollution poses "significant potential risks" that have not been fully and independently studied, such as genetic effects on local maize varieties as a result of cross-pollination by genetically modified plants, the largely unexplored health risks of eating GM foods, and potential ecological and crop management problems which may arise as modified traits pass from the GM crops to wild relatives.
The contamination could also potentially expose Mexican farmers to the risk of lawsuits for infringement of monopoly patents, and could threaten future opportunities to export untainted maize to GM-free markets in Europe and elsewhere.
In response to these threats, more than 144 farmer and civil society organizations from 40 countries recently signed a joint statement demanding that action be taken on a local, national, and international level to prevent GM contamination of centers of diversity; to help farmers restore their fields, and to ensure the costs for restoration and compensation are paid by the manufacturers of the offending GM products.
Peter M. Rosset, Ph.D., Co-Director
Food First/The Institute for Food and Development Policy
e-mail: rosset (at) foodfirst.org
Street Address of Office in Mexico: (mail address below)
Diego Duguelay No. 38, Casa Mariposa
Colonia El Cerrillo
29220 San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
NEW Tel/fax: +52-967-678-9707
eFax: +1-253-295-5257 (USA fax number which automatically bounces to me at no extra charge)
For Mail and Courier service (DHL, FEDEX, UPS, etc.) in Mexico:
c/o Hotel Casavieja
María Adelina Flores No. 27
Barrio de Guadalupe
29230 San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas
NEW Telephone no. to give courier service: 011-52-967-678-6868
Sent: 28 June 2002 10:22
Subject: 84: Gene flow from GE to non-GE populations, focusing on developing countries
Wally Menne, South Africa
The narrow approach taken to this topic by most of the participants has served little purpose. The debate around scientific theory has detracted from the pertinent issue - i.e. how developing countries will be affected. Gene flow contamination cannot be separated from the irresponsible deliberate act of introducing an unnatural organism into the environment before there is a thorough understanding of how to control or eliminate its unwanted side-effects. In my view, the conference has failed to address the broader implications of the release of genetically engineered (GE) crop plants into the environments of "developing" countries, and the subsequent genetic pollution that could arise as a result.
These implications and their associated consequences can be broadly categorised into four headings: Economic, Ecological, Sociological, and Cultural.
Economic includes items such as:- loss of markets; the financial and regulatory costs associated with labelling and separation; additional inputs such as technology fees, licences and chemicals; the need to purchase new seed every season; effective control of community land by corporations.
Ecological embraces the threat to non-target organisms (Bt cotton & maize); the possibility that closely related wild species (such as Gossypium herbaceum by Bt cotton) may suffer contamination; the likelihood that new types of weeds might emerge in response to increased exposure to herbicides (herbicide resistant crops).
Sociological relates to the effects on communities sucked into debt incurred in the course of following the advice of GE seed companies; forced to abandon their lands and migrate to the cities in search of menial employment; suicide, prostitution and alcoholism; unemployment exacerbated by mechanisation.
Cultural takes in the loss of traditional plant varieties; loss of agricultural diversity; the end of close relationships with nature and the land, that have moulded peoples identities over centuries.
The technical ability to interfere with the intrinsic design of an organism does not justify its doing. I am not saying this on moral grounds although there is sufficient basis. Honest analysis of the costs, benefits, and potential impacts of all the GE experiments that have been let out of the lab prematurely is needed as a matter of urgency. It is my wish that the FAO will use its considerable resources to see that this is done, and that those responsible will be taken to task.
PLANTNET - The Indigenous Plant Network
plantnet (at) iafrica.com
P.S. Some guidance on word-usage: The word "modification" means: "a small change or adjustment" (Collins). For example, "modification", used correctly would refer to the type of changes that may be made to your computers desktop appearance - as opposed to the physical change involving exchanging your hard drive to increase data storage space. Modification of a living organism involves the slow process of sexual breeding and selection, whether natural or otherwise. It is therefore incorrect to refer to the deliberate or accidental alteration of a living organism by gene transfer or insertion as "modification". 'Transformation' would be more appropriate. I trust the FAO will take the necessary steps to rectify all incorrect word usage in their documentation, including "forest", where what is clearly meant is 'industrial timber plantation'.
Sent: 28 June 2002 10:29
Subject: 85: Explaining gene flow to 'the consumer'
I sat on the sidelines in this conference because, although I am an educator and scientist, I found my background in genetics to be insufficient to participate. However, my research arena is risk perception and consumer education and so I am concerned as to how we can explain gene flow and its implications or consequences (to use a more neutral term) to 'the consumer' whether it be in Northern Europe, Africa or the United States.
The disagreements over implications and terminology that emerged would make an interesting public issues factsheet for consumers. Would any of you be willing to work on an outline for such factsheet or pass on your ideas about what you think the public should know about this to me at the address below? Thanks for interesting reading.
J. Lynne Brown
Associate Professor, Food Science
Penn State University
205 A Borland
University Park, PA 16802
email: f9a (at) psu.edu
Sent: 28 June 2002 10:44
Subject: 86: An international committee to conduct evaluations on a case by case basis
I have followed this conference with considerable interest, not least of which is because the direction of the animal production and health sub-programme of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division is very much towards support for the use of gene-based technologies in the future; and because the dilemmas and debate that are now focussed on plant GMOs will soon focus on the livestock area (in fact this has already occurred!).
What is clear to me from the considerable diversity of the opinions given in this conference, is that there is no YES or NO to the development and use of GMOs. As things stand, and are likely to continue for the foreseeable future, each GMO must be considered on a case by case basis. To ban all GMOs is impossible, inappropriate and too late. But we do need to evaluate each new situation involving either the development, release or use of a GMO (of whatever form) in terms of safety and benefit. What is missing is an agreed format for this evaluation.
I, of course, appreciate that many countries have committees and procedures in place to carry out such a risk evaluation, but I am unaware of any agreed international guidelines and standards for this. Given that the risks cannot be limited by national boundaries, it would seem essential that we have a set of principles and procedures to provide for a transparent, open and informed evaluation. Clearly, the process will change over time as we become more knowledgeable, as GMO complexity changes and as new technologies become used. But I would see that what is now required is an international committee (or similar structure) that can conduct evaluations on a case by case basis. This will have to involve all key stakeholders including industry, government and research institutes and will require some innovative approaches to ensure that both those in industry, as well as the consumers, feel confident in the system. How we seek consensus on this approach will be key if it is to succeed.
This conference has been excellent but needs to achieve more than an airing of the dichotomy of views on GMOs. I would like to propose the formation of such a committee as a way forward.
Head, Animal Production & Health Section
Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture
Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications
International Atomic Energy Agency
P.O. Box 100
A-1400 Vienna Austria
Telephone: (+43 1) 2600-26052
Fax: (+43 1) 26007
e-mail: M.H.Jeggo (at) iaea.org
Sent: 28 June 2002 11:24
Subject: 87: Policy options when there is no consensus
This response to Roberto Verzola (message 82, June 27) is from Chris Wozniak, a regulator of plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs; pesticidal traits expressed in plants and the genetic material necessary for their production) in the United States with responsibility for gene flow analysis and product characterization.
In his message, Mr. Verzola implies that the regulation of GMO crops in the U.S. is guided by the principle that these genetically modified plants are treated as equivalent to conventional and therefore assumed to be safe i.e. "The first option is based on the substantial equivalence principle (GE and non-GE versions are considered substantially equivalent and equally safe unless shown otherwise), which guides United States regulators." Response: If this were the case, then why would so much effort, money and debate go into the regulation of these crops? As I mentioned in a previous message [number 25, June 7...Moderator], we look at numerous aspects of PIPs including mammalian toxicity, characterization of the gene product for homology to toxins and allergens, compositional analysis of the plants expressing the novel traits, molecular analysis of the insertion and heritability of the transgene, potential for gene flow to wild or feral relatives,etc... (for more detail please see http://www.ostp.gov/html/012201.html and the analysis of case studies (MON 810 maize; and http://www.epa.gov/oppbppd1/biopesticides/).
All of the PIPs are evaluated because they are not considered the same as conventional crops. The vast majority of their properties and basic biochemistry are identical to conventional or non-engineered crops, but the pesticidal trait(s) that it is transferred to the crop is evaluated because it is novel. While Mr. Verzola is not comfortable with the degree of consensus on GMO safety and thereby the potential risk presented by gene flow to wild relatives or other crops, my observations have been the opposite. The overwhelming majority of the scientists I interact with (and these are mostly plant molecular biologists, pathologists and toxicologists), do not have a safety issue with the PIPs released to date. A true consensus among all scientists is not likely to ever occur as the issue has become so polarized that I am not certain science is ultimately going to be the measure or determinant of the value of this technology. Performance over time of GMO crops and public perception will write the story for the history books."Thus, we want a higher level of consensus on safety issues. Unlike nicotine or pesticides, GM crops can pollinate non-GM fields; GM fish and animals can escape into the wild." Response: While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken steps to mitigate the potential for gene flow from Bt-cotton to wild and feral relatives, this does not a priori imply that the d-endotoxin encoded in this novel variety is necessarily a hazard in itself. A cautious approach was chosen for the sake of biodiversity of these wild relatives, since it is not possible to say with any certainty what the impacts on these wild populations might be if this novel Bt insect resistance trait were to introgress. Some recent research bears out the potential for impacts, at least in a preliminary assessment of potential weediness impacts for sunflower in the U.S. (http://www.biosci.ohio-state.edu/~lspencer/home.html). What is really needed to proceed, is further investigation of the fate of introgressed genes in wild populations and a comparison to the impacts already occurring from non-engineered cultivated varieties that hybridize with related species or wild populations. Unlike nicotine (which is a registered insecticide) or some other conventional pesticides, which have demonstrated toxicity in many instances, assessment of gene flow from genetically engineered crops is not simplistic or straightforward.. "These, rather than reckless releases, non-traceability, and non-labelling, are the better policy options for decision-makers, especially in developing countries." Response: I don't know of any regulatory group that allows for 'reckless releases' when it comes to genetically engineered crops. Perhaps Mr. Verzola could provide documented examples of such.
"It is worse in poor countries like the Philippines where the few scientists working on GM issues often also serve as consultants for biotech firms, blurring the line between scientific inquiry and corporate marketing." Response: An equally contentious blurring is also occurring in the U.S. and most other countries where the debate over genetically engineered crops takes place. That is, the political, religious and 'philosophical' discussions/beliefs, which should never be confused with scientific debate, are being taken as the bases for assessment. They are different fora based upon different principles and criteria.
Chris A. Wozniak, Ph.D.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, 7511C
Washington, DC 20460
703-308-7026 - fax
wozniak.chris (at) epa.gov
Sent: 28 June 2002 12:43
Subject: 88: Re: Gene flow from GE to non-GE populations, focusing on developing countries
This is from Keith Hammond, senior officer animal breeding, FAO, Rome.
Re Wally Menne's (message 84, June 28) useful partitioning into 4 categories the "broader implications of the release of genetically engineered (GE) crop plants [and animals] into the environments of "developing" countries," and his plea for "Honest analysis of the costs, benefits, and potential impacts of all the GE experiments..." and his "wish that the FAO will use its considerable resources to see that this is done," (my square brackets, for perhaps his comments are not kingdom-specific):
No doubt such analyses could be considered as an appropriate task for FAO in its "honest broker" role as the intergovernmental technical secretariat for food and agriculture. Wally rightly referred to "benefits" as well as costs but his list of elements in each of his 4 categories seemingly are only cost elements! It may be very useful if, before the conference ends, participants could identify all benefit elements in each of the 4 categories of "broad implications" to help ensure any such future analysis has balance. I copy below Wally's original 4 categories containing his list of elements for participants to develop:"These implications and their associated consequences can be broadly categorised into four headings: Economic, Ecological, Sociological, and Cultural.
Sent: 28 June 2002 12:54
Subject: 89: Starting afresh with agricultural biotechnology
I am Denis Murphy, for 10 years a biotech researcher at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK and now a professor at University of Glamorgan, UK. More recently I have written several lengthy reviews (in press) & I am currently working on a book on agriculture biotechnology. I also run a schools outreach program on biotechnology for 15-18yr olds.
What has struck me most forcefully, both as an insider in biotech research and technology (R&D) and as a more detached observer of the general debate, is the way the whole of agbiotech has been overwhelmingly technology driven, rather than market led, over the past decade. Time after time, lab researchers have come up with new techniques that have then been commercialised "because they are there".
We should be honest enough to admit that there was no thought about feeding the world or improving stress tolerance in crops when we embarked on our research in the 1980s. In my own field, the emphasis was all on biodegradable plastics & other oil-based industrial products, all of which have proved to be a lot more difficult to achieve than we originally thought.
The modification of input traits (herbicide & pesticide tolerance) came a little later & turned out to be scientifically very easy and potentially quite profitable - so Monsanto et al commercialised the technology at breakneck speed (e.g. compared to the introduction of hybrid maize in the US in the 1920s & 30s). There was no thought about the long term consequences, e.g. did we really need such crops & how would global markets or the environment react. This is where we find ourselves today.
In my opinion, civil societies in developing & industrialised nations should not simply accept whatever the researchers & agbiotech companies come up with and then try to deal with the consequences. Rather, society, via bodies like FAO, should take a broader view & ask - "what do we really need from agriculture over the next 25 yrs?" Is it really more yield? Perhaps salt tolerance? Maybe enhanced vitamin contents in crops?
Next, we ask "how can we best achieve this?" can we improve existing crops by introgressing traits from land races or wild relatives? Can marker assisted selection (MAS) help here? Can we domesticate new crops (also using MAS)? Or do we absolutely have to go down the transgenic route? If the latter is the case (& I am far from against GM technology in principle), then there are new methods of plastid transformation, removal of selectable markers etc that should rule out the possibility of transgene spread in the future.
Personally, I'd like to see all the first generation of transgenic crops (that were produced by the early & rather primitive techniqes we had available in the late 1980s) thrown out & to start afresh with a consumer-led drive to agricultural improvement.
Professor Denis J Murphy
School of Applied Sciences
University of Glamorgan
Cardiff CF37 1DL
email: dmurphy2 (at) glam.ac.uk
phone: +44 1443 483 747
fax: +44 1443 483 554
Sent: 28 June 2002 13:47
Subject: 90: Transgenic forest trees
This is from Rajaratnam Muhunthan in Sri Lanka.
The social discussion about risks versus benefits of GMOs must move from a generic consideration of GMOs to the merits of modifying trees with specific traits to be used in specific environments and management regimes. Similar to traditional breeding, genetic engineering can produce completely innocuous consequences or it can produce substantially modified organisms.
We all must look at the "Transgenic Forest Trees" phenomena in the context of the following FAO report. (The world's demand for renewable energy, fiber, and building materials from wood is growing rapidly. Plantation area in the developing world doubled from 1980 to 1995, and is expected to double again by 2010. World fiber production increased roughly 100% between 1970 and 1994, and per capita consumption increased 50% in the developed world and 300% in the developing world (FAO 1997: http://apps.fao.org).)
[The forest plantation area quotation seems to be from the 1997 edition of FAO's biennial publication State of the World's Forests (SOFO) (http://www.fao.org/docrep/W4345E/w4345e00.htm). This stated "In the developing world in 1995, the total 'net' forest plantation area (i.e., reported totals of annually planted areas adjusted by a survival coefficient) is estimated at some 81 million hectares (ha) out of a total forest area of 1961 million ha, i.e., 4.1 percent. In 1980, it was assessed at about 40 million ha." and "Many developing countries, provided updated information on their present and future plantation programmes to FAO in 1996. Most of the countries with large plantation estates indicated that they intended to double their plantation areas between 1995 and 2010". SOFO 2001 (http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/y0900e/y0900e03.htm) indicates that forest plantations worldwide now total 187 million hectares, representing 5 percent of the global forest area, although forest plantation definitions and basis of deriving area differ between the various assessments. SOFO 2001 reports that Asia has by far the largest forest plantation estate of any region, accounting for 62 percent of the world's forest plantations. Plantations account for over one-fifth of all forests in Asia. About 60 percent of forest plantations are located in only four countries: China, India, the Russian Federation and the United States...Moderator]
Transgenic trees could grow faster and straighter and require fewer chemicals and less energy to pulp. Doing so, it could also reduce the industry's reliance on logging national forests and other treasured areas. Pest-resistant GM trees would also reduce the need for biocides, another environmental and cost-saving advantage to the industry. Trees could be engineered to grow in polluted landfills and absorb poisons, or even be designed to capture more carbon dioxide, diminishing global warming and also increasing the biomass, which could be the possible alterative to the fossil fuel in future. Also, using genetic-engineering techniques to help resurrect wild forest species that have been devastated by an exotic pest (e.g. American chestnut of eastern United States).
Plantations of genetically engineered trees could help to increase wood production, and thereby reduce pressure for exploitation of native forests. Because of population pressure and the imperative that large areas of native forests be set aside from intensive exploitation to preserve their environmental values, research is needed to identify scientifically prudent alternatives, including the use of GM trees, that improve wood quality and yield. (All these characters are desired and have to be addressed in the context of the above FAO report and also in terms of preservation of biodiversity)
Newton's third law of motion has been expressed: "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction". It would be applicable to all the reactions that have taken place on earth. Even from the days of old civilizations, man is interacting with his surroundings "nature". The man's interaction with nature is inevitable or else he has to die. Any form of human interaction with the surrounding will bring some good as well as some bad effects. Any practices that are "intensive" will be detrimental to the biodiversity and ecosystem. But, anything, that is "sustainable" or " integrated," sounds nice. In agriculture, "intensive" agricultural practices, irrespective of organic/chemical or transgenic in one way or the other, will be harmful to the ecosystem. Only the degree of damage to the ecosystem varies. In India in the late sixties, the "Green Revolution" enabled it to overcome hunger. But, in the meantime, it has also brought a new problem in the form of soil, water and air pollution and posing immense danger to the man's health and to biodiversity. Because it was "intensive".
Antibiotic resistance built up in gut micro flora well before the introduction GMOs. Gut E. coli acquired resistance to multiple antibiotics, not because of the introduction of antibiotic selection marker in GMOs, but because of the "intensive" use of antibiotics in medicine. "Integrated" has allowed doing agriculture while preserving ("with minimized damage") the ecosystem.
Why could GM crops and forest trees not be a part of "Integrated crop/forest management"? Yes, I feel it could be a part of it and also make it more effective (again in the context of the FAO report). In forestry, if GM trees are likely to be used primarily in "intensive", it will also do have the same effect like others.
M.Sc- in Biotechnology
Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture,
University of Peradeniya,
muhunthan_r (at) yahoo.com
Sent: 28 June 2002 14:31
Subject: 91: Consequences of geneflow for developing countries
My name is Wytze de Lange and I work for XminusY Solidarityfunds, a Dutch North-South funding NGO. Many of our contacts in the South are poor small farmer and indigenous peoples.
I have followed this debate with interest but unfortunately the focus of the debate has indeed been rather limited to some technical aspects. What seems to have been overlooked by many is the spiritual dimension which is very real for most, if not all, indigenous peoples. Maize, for example, is considered by Mexican and other meso-american indigenous peoples as Sacred. Apart from all other dimensions (food safety, environmental safety, patents etc.) the transgenic contamination of Mexican indigenous varieties is considered as Spiritual Pollution. Indigenous people's representatives who tried to raise this point at the recent COP6 and ICCCP conferences in The Hague (Netherlands) were not given the floor. [The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity held its 6th meeting in The Hague, 7-19 April 2002 while the 3rd Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (ICCP) took place in The Hague, 22-26 April, 2002...Moderator].
Also, much of this conference (and also a new study on geneflow from canola in Australia, Science this week) seems to focus on pollen flow, whereas gene flow by GE seed dispersal may be a much more important way of geneflow. (For example, the Mexican findings of transgenes along roadsides or the spread of GE canola in Canada). Seed dispersal, not only through plants in the field, but especially also during transport.
Another question is what the effect of geneflow will be on the medicinal effects of the plants involved. For example, indigenous healers have expressed grave concern about the effects of transgenic papaya on the use of various parts of papaya in traditional healing practices. Similarly for many other foods, of which we in the North have long forgotten that they can be used medicinally.
It is obviously important what the spread of (parts of) GE constructs will mean for biodiversity, health, environment, socio-economics etc and there are indeed many unanswered question in these fields. In that respect the spread of GE corn kernels through US food aid is "showing who the real enemy is", as one commentator from Kenya recently said in an article.
However, with all this I hope we (and especially FAO) do not forget to take the Spiritual dimension into account, since in the North this may have been almost completely lost altogether; this is certainly not the case for most indigenous peoples in the South.
Wytze de Lange
De Wittenstraat 43-45
1052 AL Amsterdam
Sent: 28 June 2002 14:50
Subject: 92: Re: Gene flow from GE to non-GE populations, focusing on developing countries
This is from Marco Toppino. I'm the responsible person for GMO analysis in Nestlè Regional Lab, Milan, Italy.
I'd like to contribute to this conference adding the "benefits" to Wally
Menne's 4 categories (message 84, June 28):
1. Economic benefits could be: higher yelds, higher nutritious content, decreasing costs for production, less pesticides, less fuel cost, etc....
2. Ecological benefits could be: less tillage practice - and so less soil erosion, less water pollution by chemicals, less risk due to pesticide spraying for farmers, less deforestation, cultivation of salty soils, cultivation of semi-desertic soils.....
3. Sociological benefits could be: increased economical power (more money for the farmer) for example, and this leads to a huge amount of possible positive effects (better nutrition, health, medicines, education, etc...)
4. Cultural benefits could be: possibility to maintain varieties now attacked by viruses or other diseases, less deforestation to obtain more land to cultivate (and this is maintaining ecological variety), less impact on non-target organisms (insects and birds for example) due to reduced chemical use....and so on.
In my opinion a good science-based debate has to consider both positive and negative effects to obtain something useful. And nowadays this is not the case of GMOs. At the moment, the debate is too polarized, and (this is the worst part) not made by scientists, but by politicians and media. I agree with who says that GMOs can be a big problem, but I also think that they can be a possibility to take away some of the big problems we are facing in this millenium (hunger, desertification, soil impoverishment, etc...)
Dr. Marco Toppino
Nestlè Italia S.p.A.
Via Bergognone, 46 20143 Milano
Tel. 02 - 81817181
Fax. 02 - 47710740
e-mail. marco.toppino (at) it.nestle.com
Sent: 28 June 2002 17:11
Subject: 93: Gene flow from GM canola
This is from Peter Jenkins, International Center for Technology Assessment in Washington, DC, in response to Tom Nickson's (message 24, June 7) statement that "the current biotech products have shown no measurable risks compared to the risks already present from their traditionally grown counterparts" and his later defense of that statement.
An Agriculture Canada study suggests that more than half of the canola seed samples tested showed some level of genetically modified presence. The study's authors conclude that means almost every canola field planted with conventional seed will contain some genetically modified plants. (see a recent report from the Canadian Broadcasting Company on this subject - http://cbc.ca/stories/2002/06/27/gncanola020627 )
Peter T. Jenkins, Policy Analyst
International Center for Technology Assessment
660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Suite 302
Washington, DC 20003
Tel: 202.547.9359 ext. 13
Email: peterjenkins (at) icta.org
Sent: 28 June 2002 17:17
Subject: 94: Gene flow is a natural phenomenon even in so-called self-pollinating plants
My name is Dr. Hyoji NAMAI, and I am interested in plant breeding and pollination biology.
According to the messages contributed to the conference, transgene flow problems of GMOs seem to be understood to not happen in autogamous (self-fertilising) species by most contributers. However, even in cultivated rice plants, some crossed seeds are obtained under natural condition. Moreover, sexual reproductive systems in plants are very variable depending upon the inner and outer conditions of plants.
Dr. Hyoji Namai
15-18 Nakaarakawaoki, Tsuchiura, 300-1175
e-mail: hyohyon (at) jcom.home.ne.jpm