[To contribute to this conference, send your message to [email protected]
For further information on the Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and
Agriculture see Forum website.
Note, participants are assumed to be speaking on their own behalf, unless they state otherwise.]
Sent: 16 May 2003 09:33
To: '[email protected]'
Subject: 53: Re: The Precautionary Principle
This is from Tracey McCowen, Canada.
Dr Rao (Message 52, May 14) writes, "In the face of pressure from anti-technology lobbies, regulatory authorities take shelter behind the PP and defer decisions on the deployment of GEOs, as is the case in India with GE mustard". [GEOs = Genetically Engineered Organisms...Moderator].
I would have thought that the use of the Precautionary Principle (PP) in the field trial phase of GE mustard would be an example of the necessity for the clause since GE mustard (canola or rape) has shown a propensity towards weediness in the countries where it has been approved. Furthermore, referring to "anti-technology lobbies" is a derogatory and offensive term used to describe those people in science questioning the way the technology is being applied. Is the professor then suggesting that there is no longer a need for peer review?
Tracey McCowen MBE
1314 King-Vaughan Rd
Maple, ON L6A 2A5
tmccowen (at) yahoo.com
Sent: 16 May 2003 11:56
To: '[email protected]'
Subject: 54: Re: The Precautionary Principle
This is from C Kameswara Rao, Bangalore, India, responding to Message 53, May 16, of Tracey McCowen.
Peer review is certainly very necessary. I know of technologists opposing some aspects of biotechnology. But most people who agitate against technology do not qualify to be called 'peers' since they have no background of scientific and technical aspects of the issues and implications. They have reasons other than the risks of technology, to oppose technology. Then, for peer review, the data should be made available to the scientific community and the interested public, and not considered only by a closeted committee, shrouded in secrecy, and not giving reaasons for deferring decisions or asking for extended trial periods.
I do not mean any offense to the scientific community that has reasons to oppose technology. I myself oppose a number of aspects of biotechnology.
I am surprised that Dr McCowen understands the term 'anti-tech lobbies' as being used to describe those people in science questioning the way the technology is being applied. This assumption is not correct. There are anti-tech lobbies throughout the world, constituted of people with no science background and they pressurise the governments and regulatory committees, directly or indirectly, at every step, from import of GE products, permitting for field trials and to release for commercial cultivation, when the safer option is deferrment.
I cited examples from the Indian situation to indicate the frequent and unwarranted use the Precautionary Principle. In the case of GE mustard in India, the Review Committee for Genetic Modification had no negative observations on the performance of GE variety but the approval for field trials was deferred twice. [Presumably, the reference is to the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation under the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, see Message 14, May 5, by Ramesh V. Bhat...Moderator]. Factors such as gene flow, weediness, yield in terms of seed and oil content, have all been examined and nothing that warrants extended field trials was evident. The Bt cotton variety for north Indian states has been deferred twice, the second time on account of it being susceptible to leaf curl virus, which is the case with every variety of cotton grown in India, including the isogenic of the Bt variety in question. If the logic is extended, no variety of cotton should be grown in India. Bt technology has nothing to do with inducing or preventing the disease caused by the leaf curl virus.
I support the application of the Precautionary Principle during regulatory processes but not its overuse or misuse.
Professor C Kameswara Rao
Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education
Bangalore 560 004,
krao (at) vsnl.com