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Sent: 31 May 2003 10:55
To: '[email protected]'
Subject: 87: Regulation of GMOs in the livestock sector
This is a joint contribution from Dr Clemens B A Wollny (Animal Breeding and Husbandry in the Tropics, Georg-August University, Goettingen, Germany) and Dr Ronny R Noor (Animal Breeding and Genetics, Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia).
We would like to highlight some aspects regarding livestock. We have to differentiate between use of GMOs as feed ingredient and use of genetically modified animals.
The current big issue in transition countries is the use of GM maize as a feed for poultry and pork or by-products of cash crops, which are fed to various species of farm animals. In general, trials conducted in developing countries are often poorly controlled and implementation of regulations is difficult to enforce. Also, monitoring and data analysis is rarely conducted by independent researchers but by governmental institutions. This may affect the credibility of reports or decisions taken by the general public and non-governmental organizations. The weakness is not the regulation policy as such but its implementation and control. Our experience from African and Asian developing countries is that the consumer perceives a risk, that products derived from livestock, which consumed GMOs-based diets, poses a hazard. We therefore recommend to analyse the food chain in regard to the prevailing production systems very carefully and to integrate the issue of any possibility of GMO products processed by farm animals. This is especially important in emerging large-scale peri-urban systems.
The second issue is the future existence of GM livestock. From historical data we know that indiscriminate crossbreeding threatens locally adapted farm animal populations resulting in the extinction of local breeds or strains. Loss of genetic diversity could be an irreversible result. At present, the debate and regulation regarding livestock is lacking far behind the scientific and public discussion in crops. Possible positive or negative effects of products derived from GM livestock on consumer health are not yet known - at least in most of the developing countries. On the other hand, a very strict policy, which would impose a ban on all GMO-related applied research in livestock would negatively affect the use of molecular genetics for, e.g., breed and trait characterisation. This area of research is very important to conserve and to utilize indigenous livestock. The exchange of genetic material for research between countries could also be negatively affected and is complicated further through the ongoing debate on property rights. Therefore, it is important that this area of research remains in the public and is regulated and controlled in a transparent way. Enforcement of objective regulation criteria can be easily set up between equal partners in developed countries but existing political dependencies between developed and developing countries require complementary measures. Strengthening of international public agricultural research is one important strategy to control and develop facts-based decision criteria for GM livestock.
Prof. Dr. Clemens B. A. Wollny
Animal Breeding and Husbandry in the Tropics and Subtropics
Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics
Georg-August University Goettingen
phone: +49 551 39 3448
cell: + 49 171 907 1848
fax: +49 551 39 3099
email: cwollny (at) gwdg.de
Sent: 31 May 2003 11:04
To: '[email protected]'
Subject: 88: Regulations in developing nations should be rigourous for some more time
I am E.M. Muralidharan from India again.
Since the conference is about to end, I would like to take the opportunity to make my position clear on the main issue. I believe that my position is somewhere in between the opposing groups in the debate on GMOs. In my view, GMO releases need to be rigorously regulated in the developing countries for some time to come and the regulatory systems need to be more transparent and should take into consideration the innumerable factors that don't fall within the purview of scientific research. In the angst concerning the developing world we should not prop up any fledgling technology (not all of GM) without having spent time and effort to understand all the implications. The comparison of recombinant DNA techniques with traditional breeding is not justified nor is the parallel drawn with the early efforts of the automobile or aircraft industry. On the other hand, I am sure GMOs are here to stay and indeed can offer specific solutions that cannot be achieved by any other way. Biotechnology itself is going to provide the tools for overcoming many of the features of GMOs that have given rise to the doubts among the anti-GMO lobby. For example, wound-induced promoters are an elegant way of ensuring that non-target insects are not affected by genes for insect toxins. We are sure to eventually find means of targeting the genes to specific locations in the host DNA and ensuring that non-intended effects are avoided. But this will take time. We are far too early in this technology to be claiming that a fairly good assessment of the risks has been done.
The regulatory system needs to be tailor-made for the developing countries since the chances of unanticipated outcome is greater. Most of such nations do not have, or cannot have in the near future, an appropriate regulatory system. GMOs and their products can be put to unintended uses and regulations breached unwittingly or for purely economic reasons. Examples that come to mind are cottonseed oil and oilcake being used as food and animal feed and illiterate or poor farmers with small plots of farmland ignoring the need for refuge crops. In a developed country the implementation of regulations can be ensured to a much greater extent and better guarantee provided for legal redress for any detrimental consequences resulting out of GMOs. The likelihood of entire communities being taken for a ride with false promises by the unscrupulous corporate interests is far greater in a developing country.
It appears feasible that the developing nations can pool their resources or institute a mechanism under the auspices of an international body like the FAO or CGIAR to take care of the risks of introducing GMOs.
Kerala Forest Research Institute
Peechi 680 653 Kerala,
emmurali (at) kfri.org