[For further information on the Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and
Agriculture see the Forum website.
Note, participants are assumed to be speaking on their own behalf, unless they state otherwise.]
Sent: 26 June 2009 10:55
Subject: 71: Re: Biotech developments in Argentina in the past
This is Eduardo Trigo again.
I don't want this to become a discussion about Argentinian policies - or, actually, the lack of them - but I think that the country has a rich experience that should not go to waste. Alejandro Escandon (Message 70) rightly points up to the issue that technology does not happen in a policy vacuum: there are things that technology can do and there are others that it can't. Policies are always an essential item in the final outcome, and we should be very careful in not blaming technology for what are really policy failures (as the case here is), and this is what I have tried to stress in my previous messages.
Going to Viviana Echenique's comments (Message 64). I cannot argue with the "need to be careful and analyze..." But the issue is the very thin red line between "being careful" and overregulation. These are the most watched-over technologies in agricultural history and it seems to me that we are not making any progress in learning from 20 years of accumulated evidence. There are, and there will always be, risks and benefits, and we should start approaching the discussion in a more proactive way. How many public sector institutions and developing countries SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) are being left out of the game because they cannot afford the "getting to the market process" of their innovations? 20 years are only 10% of the 200 years mentioned by Viviana when referring to the work of our forefathers, but it is also true that our science has evolved a little since then. This story started with the idea that decisions should be science based. In my book - I may be wrong - that also means that we should also evolve with the accumulation of scientific evidence, and my feeling is that we are somewhat stuck with the idea that these technologies are intrinsically risky, even when all evidence seems to point otherwise.
Eduardo J. Trigo
Director, Grupo CEO SA
trigoej (at) gmail.com
Sent: 26 June 2009 11:22
Subject: 72: Nigeria - livestock
My name is Adebambo Ayotunde. I am a Nigerian citizen and specialist in animal breeding and genetics from the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. I work on molecular characterization of Nigerian indigenous animal species.
Kudos to everyone who's been contributing to this e-mail conference. From my point of view, crop improvement and adoption of new lines and knowledge in Nigeria has an appreciable wide and accessible product line, with special thanks to the crop institutes and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), though IITA's impact is fast dwindling. The problem in the sector is that most new innovations are never in touch with the end users and their demands. The innovations are mostly not people-driven or, when people-driven, they do not take cognizance of the total livestyle of the people, therefore they end up non adoptable.
The animal sector on the other hand is what I call "left behind". Anybody in the animal breeding and improvement line ends up meeting a wall. This is mostly because improving animals is quite capital intensive. And internationally, the perspective on animal improvement in Africa is considered "re-inventing the wheel!". So African farmers are adviced to import exotic breeds and the major research pressure is disease prevention in the poorly adaptable exotic stocks.
There is an urgent need to have a research drive for African livestock that goes beyond diseases prevention. Africa can never survive the future on importation! We need to address issues of description and census of African species before we can even get to the level of novel breeds and their adoption.
Present scientific drive from within the animal scientific community is on identification and characterization of stocks for furture improvement or conservation.
African livestock species needs urgent attention. The animal scientist needs national and international support or the continent becomes "left behind"!
Adebambo, A.O. Ph.D
Quantitative geneticist and breeder
University of Agriculture,
e-mail: tumininuadebambo (at) yahoo.com
Sent: 26 June 2009 17:01
Subject: 73: Re: Biotech developments in Argentina in the past
This is Viviana Echenique again.
From message 71, I interpreted that Eduardo Trigo thinks I said that genetic modification technology is intrinsically risky and this is not true. I think that it is not different from plant tissue culture and other biotechnologies. I know perfectly well the molecular basis of all these technologies. I think it is safe. When we cross two plants by traditional sexual crosses we are combining many thousand genes. With transgenesis we add only one to five genes, very well characterized, to the genome of the plant. What is the difference? There is no difference for me. The problem is not the technology and I was not talking about more regulation related to transgenics in my previous message 64. PLANNING THE AGRICULTURE IS A VERY DIFFERENT THING. And should be taken into account for every new technology. I am very far from the discussion about 'to eat or not to eat' transgenics. Transgenesis is not risky in this way I think. We use many pharmaceutical products derived from recombinant DNA technology and I use this as an example when I try to explain to my students that this technology is similar to others and not risky. I think that this was not the point in my message.
Dpto. de Agronomia (UNS)
San Andres 800
8000 - Bahia Blanca
email: echeniq (at) criba.edu.ar