from Claire Robinson, WEEKLY WATCH editor
Resistance to GM crops continues to grow, with events organised around the globe for the International Day of Action (17 April) of the international farmers' movement Via Campesina. See HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - GLOBAL.
The GM rebellion is not only now spreading across the US but has exploded in America's "back-yard" with Venezuela's President both banning GM and terminating a big Monsanto GM contract (see HIGHLIGHTS - GLOBAL). Here in the UK, the biotech empire continues to crumble, with UK science minister Lord Sainsbury's two biotech firms in deep trouble (HIGHLIGHTS - UK).
We also have a highly revealing biopiracy report from Devinder Sharma on exactly how the US Dept of Ag ended up sitting on the world's largest collection of germplasm - most of it collected at public expense but destined to make profits for corporations (REPORT OF THE WEEK).
Watch out too for all the latest news on the corporate take-over of science and our "lobby watch" section on biotech promoters.
www.ngin.org.uk / www.gmwatch.org
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - GLOBAL
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - UK
McSCIENCE: Chapela/McScience/Biotech's rich list
LOBBY WATCH: ISAAA/Prakash/Moore/Henry Miller
REPORT OF THE WEEK: The Great Gene Robbery
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: 'Bad Things' on diarrhea rice
DONATIONS - We need them!
HEADLINES OF THE WEEK
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - GLOBAL
+ VIVA VENEZUELA--GM BANNED IN VENEZUELA-- MONSANTO TERMINATED!
Venezuala's President Hugo Chavez Frias has announced that the cultivation of GM crops will be prohibited on Venezuelan soil, possibly establishing the most sweeping restrictions on transgenic crops in the Western Hemisphere. Though full details of the administration's policy on GMOs are still forthcoming, the statement by President Chavez will lead most immediately to the cancellation of a contract that Venezuela had negotiated with the US-based Monsanto Corporation.
Before a recent international gathering of supporters in Caracas, President Chavez admonished GM crops as contrary to the interests and needs of the nation's farmers and farm workers. He zeroed in on Monsanto's plans to plant up to 500,000 acres of transgenic soybeans in Venezuela. "I ordered an end to the project," said President Chavez, upon learning that transgenic crops were involved. "This project is terminated."
President Chavez emphasized the importance of food sovereignty and security - required by the Venezuelan Constitution - as the basis of his decision. Instead of allowing Monsanto to grow its transgenic crops, these fields will be used to plant yuca (an indigenous crop), Chavez explained. He also announced the creation of a large seed bank facility to maintain indigenous seeds for peasants' movements around the world.
Let's hope this doesn't trigger another US-inspired coup attempt!
+ EU BIOTECH LABELING AND TRACEABILITY REQUIREMENTS "WILL BE A SERIOUS BARRIER TO INTERNATIONAL TRADE," SAYS NFPA
Commenting on the European Union's new requirements for labeling and traceability of foods and feeds that contain GM ingredients, which became effective on April 18, John R. Cady, President and CEO of the US's National Food Processors Association (NFPA), made the following statement:
"These new requirements establish a serious trade barrier that will keep many U.S. food products out of the European market. European consumers will see such labels on food products as 'warning labels.' ...the traceability requirements are a classic case of regulatory overkill, putting complex and detailed new requirements on food companies, with no benefit - but with added expense - for consumers. NFPA has long opposed these labeling and traceability requirements by the EU. We strongly urge the World Trade Organization to address this issue, and take action to block these new, unnecessary barriers to trade.
NFPA is the voice of the food processing industry http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3288
+ GERMANY'S MINISTER K” NAST INTENDS TO EXPAND COMPULSORY GMO LABELING
German federal minister for consumer affairs, Renate KÅ¸nast, wants compulsory GMO labelling on products made from animals that were raised on GM feed. The focus is on meat, eggs and dairy products. KÅ¸nast told [German TV network] ZDF that she had tried to achieve acceptance for this with the EU Commission but that EU Commissioner David Byrne had rejected it.
+ ANTI-GM CAMPAIGN HEIGHTENED
Greenpeace has announced plans to step up its campaign against GM foods, as new laws come into effect across the European Union. The latest directive (EU Regulation 1829/2003), which covers traceability and labelling, does not require meat or milk from an animal fed on GMOs to be labelled as GM-produce - a condition opposed by campaigners.
+ CALL FOR IMMEDIATE GLOBAL BAN ON GM FOOD
Read Mark Griffiths' powerful document, "Immediate Global Ban of GM Food - 'A Call For Wisdom in World Agriculture" at
http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3291 or for links, see
GM foods could not have come to market if the facts about their unique risks had been acknowledged and if national laws had been honoured. Their introduction depended on systematic deception by both the biotech industry and the United States government, and their continued presence depends on continuation of the deception.
...it is time to choose between a food supply that has had its genetic blueprints radically restructured through invasive laboratory techniques or one that preserves the natural sequence and integrity of those blueprints. It is not possible to adequately maintain the latter while proceeding with the former.
+ BASQUE MONSANTO GMO PROTEST
Farmer group EHNE organized a symbolic burning of GMO seed in the main public square of Gasteiz, capital of the Basque Autonomous Region on 16 April, eve of International Farmer Protest Day. The seed burnt was Syngenta's (formerly Novartis) Bt maize authorised for commercial sowing in 1998. The seed bags we burnt were from both Syngenta and Monsanto (the PR33P67 810 Bt maize from Monsanto authorised for commercial sowing in the Spanish Member State in 2003 in a controversial interpretation of the EU moratoria). The action attracted a large media presence.
The only place in the EU with any significant GM crop cultivation is Spain, where Bt maize is being grown.
+ FARMERS PROTEST AGAINST GMOS AT US/CANADA BORDER
Over fifty American and Canadian farmers rallied at the border today to mark the 17 April International Day of Farmers' Struggle with a festive array of puppets, placards, and a giant banner hung from the Interstate 91 overpass above the border crossing saying no to GMOs in English, French, and Spanish.
79 Vermont towns have passed measures calling for a Time Out on GMOs, and the House & Senate have now approved a measure to label all GM seeds sold in the state. Today's rally coincides with farmer protests in over 26 nations around the world to stand up for farmer's rights and food sovereignty, and say no to GMO crops and corporate 'free'-trade.
"We are here at the border to demonstrate the global solidarity of farmers in the face of corporate globalization," said Hillary Martin, a farmer from Burlington, Vermont. "The corporate takeover of agriculture has impoverished farmers, starved communities, and force-fed us hazardous genetically engineered crops, only to line the pockets of a handful of multinational corporations like Monsanto at the expense of farmers who are struggling for land and livelihood around the world!"
More on the vote in the Vermont Senate:
+ NORTH DAKOTA GMO BALLOT MEASURE APPROVED
A ballot measure that would restrict biotech wheat plantings in North Dakota is ready for circulation. Supporters of the initiative must gather petition signatures from at least 12,844 North Dakota voters to put the measure to a statewide vote. They have a year to do so.
The measure would give North Dakota's agriculture commissioner authority to decide whether farmers could plant GM wheat. The commissioner would have to appoint a six-member review panel to study the question, and hold at least one public hearing.
Backers of the proposal say North Dakota's export markets for hard red spring wheat and durum would be slammed by the introduction of biotech wheat here, because customers in Japan and Europe do not want it.
+ BRAZIL'S LULA ACCUSED OF SELLOUT
In the wake of new figures that show deforestation in the Amazon increasing for the third consecutive year, Brazil's greens are seeing red. "Lula has been dazzled by power," said Fernando Gabeira, a former Green Party legislator who joined Da Silva's Workers' Party before the election but resigned last year because, he said: "Lula was talking like someone who wants development at all costs.
"He cheated us in that he gave us the impression that we were allies and today he is much more allied with our adversaries. But then again he cheated many sectors. He got into government and changed positions."
A former shoeshine boy and union leader who won a landslide victory by promising to make Brazil a kinder and fairer nation, Lula was elected in large part because of his integrity. Now, though, with the economy stagnant and unemployment high, Brazilians are starting to question both his credibility and competence. They claim he has caved into big business interests, in particular soya and beef farmers.
+ LULA'S LATEST BETRAYAL - GM LABELS
Prof Luiz Eduardo Carvalho in Brazil has explained that claims that Brazil has improved its GM labeling laws are fraudulent. Instead of labelling all ingredients over 4% GM, as under the previous law, the new 1% GM label law only applies to the WHOLE product - thereby ensuring that fewer products are labelled than before. This is to help big food interests that process a lot of soya.
No wonder Lula won a Captain Hook award for deceit and betrayal!
+ AUSTRALIA: GREENPEACE TARGETS GM SHIP
Activists painted a sign on the side of a container ship in Brisbane in protest against the importation of GM food. Three Greenpeace protesters painted the words "Stop GE Imports" in letters stretching for 25m along the side of the container ship Rhein at its berth in Fisherman Islands. The ship had been carrying 13,000 tonnes of GM soy meal from the US.
Wenzel said the soy meal cargo was just a fraction of the 300,000 tonnes of GM soy product entering Australia each year for use in chicken feed. "Basically, this is letting people know this is coming into the country unlabelled and ending up on people's dinner plates," she said.
+ RONALD MCDONALD QUITS OVER GE CHICKEN FEED
Ronald McDonald entered a New Zealand branch of McDonalds and handed in his resignation. The dramatic action was taken by the infamous fast food clown in protest at McDonalds use of chicken fed on GE soy meal.
Some great pics are available relating to this Greenpeace action - go to
http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/PO0404/S00138.htm for cartoons and http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/photos/21April04/
to see Ronald McDonald being forcibly removed by the management.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - UK
+ LORD SAINSBURY'S BIOTECH FIRMS HIT THE ROCKS
Two biotech firms linked to science and innovation minister Lord Sainsbury of Turville are facing serious financial difficulties. Diatech Limited, which holds several patents for techniques which could be useful to the GM food industry, has gone into liquidation, while biotechnology investment firm Innotech is making huge losses.
Innotech Investments is still trading but its most recently filed accounts, for 2002, reveal that it made a pre-tax loss of GBP7.4m compared with a loss of GBP4.1m the previous year. Innotech's net asset value per share tumbled to GBP1.24 from GBP2.72.
During that year, the company was propped up with GBP25m of financing from the blind trust set up to oversee Lord Sainsbury's financial interests when he became a minister. The company's accounts show that the trust has provided the company with GBP62m in financing over the past three years.
Lord Sainsbury has been Science Minister in Blair's government since 1998. He is also a member of the cabinet Sci-Bio committee, and as such is a key adviser to Blair on biotech. He is also a donor to Blair's Labour Party.
He gave Labour its biggest ever single donation in September 1997. On October 3 1997 he was made a life peer by Blair and a year later Minister for Science. By 2003 Lord Sainsbury had given over GBP11 million to Blair's Party. Mark Seddon, a member of Labour's National Executive Committee, told the BBC, "In any other country I think a government minister donating such vast amounts of money and effectively buying a political party would be seen for what it is, a form of corruption of the political process."
+ "DON'T YOU KNOW THAT DNA IS JUST DNA IS DNA?"
Among the supposedly scientific arguments advanced as to why there's no reason to be concerned about tampering with an organism's DNA is this: "Don't you know that DNA is just DNA is DNA?" The implication is, "What does it matter if we randomly insert a bit extra from some other organism? After all, the foreign DNA inserted is made up of just the same basic constituents as any other DNA." The following letter to the Sunday Times exposes this for the specious nonsense it is. The letter was not published:
Is GM Food Good for You?
The argument advanced by Charles Pasternak for the safety of GM food is false [News Review, Sunday 14th March, page 2, article entitled "GM food could be good for you"]. Yes, the DNA of all living organisms is made up of just four nucleosides, and yes, virtually all proteins are made up from just 20 amino acids. But this does not imply that everything containing these basic building blocks is without risk to human beings. The same units, arranged in different ways, are contained in the smallpox virus, bubonic plague and influenza, deadly nightshade and other poisonous plants, creatures such as poisonous jellyfish, scorpions, deadly snakes, sharks - and people who talk absolute nonsense.
G.D.W. Smith (Professor), FRS
Professor of Materials, Oxford University
McSCIENCE - CORPORATE TAKE OVER!
+ "THE SAD SAGA OF IGNACIO CHAPELA"
How to destroy Mexican corn, reap maximum profits, and buy a university in one easy lesson...
Read an excellent article with the above title at
One morning in early 1997, Dr Chapela was summoned to his dean's office and informed that the university was about to announce a five year $50,000,000 grant from Novartis. In return, Chapela's old company would get a first look at all research papers produced by the department. Since the grant accounted for a third of the department's budget, Novartis would get first dibs on a third of the department's research. "My gut reaction was that the company was trying to buy the university."
Ignacio was flabbergasted by the university's shameless hucksterism. "The faculty had not even been told of the Novartis grant and the Chancellor's office was already putting out press releases claiming that we supported it."
Ignacio Chapela had stepped on other toes even more life threatening than those of the Brahmans of Berkeley. The Mexican government had learned of the impending Nature publication and went ballistico. Under-secretary of Agriculture Victor Villalobos fired off a furious letter accusing the microbiologist of "doing incalculable damage" to the nation's agriculture and economy. "We hold you personally responsible," Villalobos wrote in an epistle that still retains a place of honor on Chapela's crowded desk.
The director of Mexico's bio-security commission, Dr. Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, summoned Ignacio to a meeting in an abandoned building in a wooded zone just outside Mexico City. "'You have gotten yourself into some serious shit this time,' he told me, 'but you will not stop us - no one will stop us!' I had the impression he was threatening my life. Was he going to rub me out? This was like a bad Mafia movie."
+ TENURE JUSTICE NOW! NEW WEBSITE SUPPORTING CHAPELA
An important new website, 'Tenure Justice' has been launched in support of the researcher Dr Ignacio Chapela: www.tenurejustice.org
It was Ignacio Chapela who with his graduate student, David Quist, exposed the Mexican maize GM contamination scandal, causing international uproar. And now as a result of subsequently being denied tenure at UC Berkeley in the most extraordinary of circumstances, Chapela has just 2 more months to go until his contract there is terminated.
Among the many interesting items on the site is a video of a student protest at Chapela's denial of tenure while UC Berkeley's Chancellor was delivering his Charter Day speech last Thursday. A group of students interrupt the speech chanting: "Academic Freedom, Tenure Justice now!" while holding a banner bearing Chapela's name. They were quickly removed by police. The video can be seen at http://www.tenurejustice.org/pages/charterday2004.html
+ LANCET EDITOR WRITES ON CORPORATE TAKEOVER OF BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH
An interesting book review by Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, details the corporate takeover of universities and research labs, is at
Excerpts: "Even scientific journals, supposedly the neutral arbiters of quality by virtue of their much-vaunted process of critical peer review, are owned by publishers and scientific societies that derive and demand huge earnings from advertising by drug companies and from the sale of commercially valuable content. The pressure on editors to adopt positions that favor these industries is yet another example of the bias that has infiltrated academic exchange. As editor of The Lancet I have attended medical conferences at which I have been urged to publish more favorable views of the pharmaceutical industry."
"Universities have sacrificed their larger social responsibilities to accommodate a new purpose 'the privatization of knowledge' by engaging in multimillion-dollar contracts with industries that demand the rights to negotiate licenses from any subsequent discovery... Science has long been ripe for industrial colonization. The traditional norms of disinterested inquiry and free expression of opinion have been given up in order to harvest new and much-needed revenues.... Universities have reinvented themselves as corporations."
+ BIOTECH'S RICH LIST - COMMENT FROM PROF JOE CUMMINS
On April 1, Genetic Engineering News put out their list of biotech millionaires. The leaders included first P. Frost of Ivax, followed by L. Rosenthal of a number of companies. William Gates III [yes, Mr Microsoft] is fourth on the list with USD220 million in Icos Corp. of Bothell, which makes Cialis, the most popular drug among spammers [Cialis is a drug for erectile dysfunction!]. Gates may not be happy about the spammers on windows but he takes Cialis to keep a stiff upper lip :-). Bill Rutter is number five on the list.
Sam Waxsal of Imclone has dropped to 12 on the list. He was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for securities fraud, obstruction of justice, perjury, bank fraud and tax evasion. He is expected to spend his jail time in a Florida prison, the home for rich swindlers.
+ EUROPE MUST JUMP ABOARD GM BANDWAGON: ISAAA HYPE IN EUROPE
Dr Clive James, chair of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), has been in Brussels selling GM. Europe is missing out, according to Dr James and his eye-catching statistics, and needs to hurry up and jump aboard biotech's ever-accelerating bandwagon.
But there are reasons to doubt ISAAA's facts and figures and particularly the way they are framed by James and his colleagues. We have noted before the analysis made by development specialist Aaron deGrassi of the figures claimed for the area of Bt cotton being grown in South Africa. ISAAA gives a figure 20 times greater than even that provided by a fellow industry source.
In ISAAA's most recent report James tells us, "In 2003, the three most populous countries in Asia - China, India, and Indonesia... are all officially growing GM crops." - James, C. 2003. Preview: Global Status of Commercialized Transgenic Crops: 2003. ISAAA Briefs No. 30. ISAAA: Ithaca, NY. ISBN: 1-892456-34-6
But are they? According to Indonesian sources, Monsanto stopped supplying GM seed there in December 2002 and formally closed its GM cotton sales operations in early 2003 amid complaints over yields and pricing from the previous two years. See "South Sulawesi wants permit of GMO producer suspended", The Jakarta Post, Indonesia, http://www.ecologyasia.com/NewsArchives/mar2003/thejakartapost.com_20030315_1.htm
And while GM cotton is undoubtedly being grown in India, ISAAA frames this as India being among the world's top ten GM cultivators, whereas a government report describes the area under GM cultivation in 2003 as insignificant in relation to the overall area of cotton cultivation, concluding that this reflects Indian farmers' assessment of the crop.
But what is clearly marginal or non-existent GM crop acreage in these two Asian giants is hyped by James and ISAAA as "the three most populous countries in Asia - China, India, and Indonesia (total population 2.5 billion and a combined GDP of over $1.5 trillion) ... are all officially growing GM crops".
For the latest article showcasing James' hype see http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3306
For more on ISAAA: http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=66
+ PRAKASH & CO TRY TO HIJACK EARTH DAY!
AgBioView editor and GM enthusiast C S Prakash and cronies are holding an Earth Day (April 22) event at the National Press Club, Washington which they hope will "address the implications of eco-imperialism: policies that seek to protect the environment, but deny people in impoverished nations economic opportunities, the chance for better lives, and the right to rid their countries of diseases that were vanquished long ago in the United States and Europe."
Their press release says,
"Aspects of eco-imperialism to be discussed" include:
* Energy development in developing countries - [lots more big dams please, etc.]
* The use of DDT and other pesticides to control malaria - [this lot can't think of anything better and condemn even WHO and USAID as dangerous extremists for not saturating the Third World in the stuff].
* The value of biotech to increase yields and reduce malnutrition [implying hundreds of millions could be benefiting if only GMOs were being grown everywhere]
* Environmental programs that negatively affect poor people in the United States. [?]
* "The human rights implications of laws and policies that stifle progress in these areas."
- etc. etc.
Participants, apart from Prakash, include the usual suspects:
Niger Innis (Congress of Racial Equality - black far- right front group)
Paul Driessen (author of "Eco-Imperialism" - the book, connects to Ron Arnold's mad-dog Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise)
John Meredith (national advisory council member, Project 21 - another far-right black front group)
Dr Sallie Baliunas (environment-science host, TechCentralStation.com - far-right journo-lobbyism)
Dr Roger Bate (fellow, American Enterprise Institute and Africa Fighting Malaria - money from Big Tobacco and connects to about half a dozen other pro-corporate lobby groups)
For the rundown on these folks, why they are there, and what happened on their previous jolly on "eco-imperialism" in New York, see
+ "BUSH A PIKER [WIMP] AT MANIPULATING SCIENCE", SAYS HENRY MILLER
You may have thought that the US under Clinton was almost every bit as suspect on biotech as Bush. Not so! The Clinton administration was, in reality, marked by "politically motivated, anti-science, anti-technology, anti-business eco-babble".
So says Henry I. Miller in an opinion piece, "Bush a Piker at Manipulating Science, Compared to Clinton, Gore", circulated on the pro-GM Prakash list (AgBioView). Apart from being a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution, which champions the free market and limited government, Miller is on the board of directors of both the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) and the anti-regulatory Consumer Alert. Miller was also part of the rabidly pro-GM/anti-organic "No More Scares" group with Michael Fumento, Steven (the Junkman) Milloy and ACSH's Elizabeth Whelan.
He is also an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and regularly co-authors pro-GM pieces with CEI colleague Greg Conko, co-founder and Vice-President of Prakash's AgBioWorld campaign. And we're now told, "His latest book, The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution, co-authored with Gregory Conko of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, will be published later this year."
Clearly something to look forward to, but although Miller is a significant cog in the incestuous network of far right pro-biotech lobby groups in the US, Henry can't be dismissed as just another far-right flake. He's a key player in the Bush administration and a member of the UN's Codex Alimentarius committee on GM foods. He was an official at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for fifteen years (1979-1994), during which time he served in a number of posts involved with biotech regulation.
According to Miller's Hoover Institution home page, "He was the medical reviewer for the first genetically engineered drugs evaluated by the FDA and was instrumental in the rapid licensing of human insulin and human growth hormone. He served in several posts, including special assistant to the FDA commissioner, with responsibility for biotechnology issues; from 1989 to 1994, he was the founding director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology."
Miller's vision of the ideal regulator seems to be one who determinedly looks the other way! After all, he argues, GM is especially safe and precise so that means GM products should actually require less regulatory oversight rather than more. Thus, the US's send-us-some-info-if-you-feel-like-it regulation of biotech - widely regarded as extremely regulatory-lite - is viewed by Miller' as unnecessarily burdensome, officious and heavy-handed.
Miller doesn't, however, blame this supposed over-regulation entirely on the likes of Clinton/Gore and their left-wing cronies. Revealingly, he once told the New York Times, "In this area, the U.S. government agencies have done exactly what big agribusiness has asked them to do and told them to do".
It has been suggested that for Miller, bringing a product to market swiftly is more important than ensuring its safety. But as far as Miller is concerned, industry has shot itself in the foot by being over-cautious. He told the New York Times, "Food biotech is dead. The potential now is an infinitesimal fraction of what most observers had hoped it would be."
But at least those anti-science, anti-technology, anti-business eco-babbling commissars are out of office!
Read Miller's latest offering at
Among Miller's anti-technology eco-babblers is Carol Browner, former head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A quite different perspective on Browner's green cred comes from Peter Montague of Rachel's Health and Environment News: "Within a month of taking office, Ms. Browner appears to have adopted, or at least defended, the same odious behavior - lies, deceptions, and cover-ups - that characterized her predecessor."
Specifically, Browner's EPA stands accused of withholding information on a toxic incinerator in Cleveland, Ohio from the public, and of trying to relax the Delaney clause, a US law that prohibits government from approving the addition of cancer-causing chemicals to processed foods. http://www.rachel.org/search/index.cfm?St=1
+ MOORE, MONSANTO AND BIO - "TALENTED ACTORS IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL ARENA"
Science/medical conference organisers Biomedex hosted a conference on the environment on 15 April in Montreal, Canada featuring what it calls "talented actors in the environmental arena". These are
*Astroturf "green" Patrick Moore, who just wrote a book, The Battle for BioProgress, which details his view of Greenpeace as a "morally and intellectually bankrupt" organization
*A man from Monsanto
*Industry group BIO
Topics include "the environmental benefits of biotechnology research". Not for nothing does Biomedex use the term "actors".
+ GREENPEACE RESPONDS TO MOORE: WHY OPPOSITION TO GE IS BASED ON SOUND SCIENCE
Patrick Moore, in his article "The blindness of the greens", describes opponents of genetically engineered crops as "anti-science, anti-technology, and anti-human". But if Moore applied the logic he claims is missing from the arguments of opponents of GE crops, he would realise that such crops are no more "science" than refrigerators, nuclear weapons or washing machines.
GE crops are commercial products that result from the application of one specific technology from within a much broader field of scientific inquiry. GE crops are commercial products, not science - and there are sound scientific reasons for opposing them.
Read on at http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3300
REPORT OF THE WEEK
+ DEVINDER SHARMA ON THE GREAT GENE ROBBERY
The world's largest collection of plant germplasm, some 6,00,000 plant accessions, are in a safe custody under the control of the US Department of Agriculture. These genetic resources that lie stored at Fort Collins/Fort Knox in the United States are outside the purview of any international treaty. The countries from where these were collected have no control or say over these resources, nor do they get any benefit from providing these valuable resources.
It was in the mid-60s and early '70s that the same language and expression was used to seek monopoly control over the plant germplasm resources of the developing countries. At the height of the green revolution, with the land grant system borrowed from the United States well in place, we were told that plants were a mankind's heritage but were being lost in the process of development. Letting the plant germplasm disappear would be at the world's own peril. So what needs to be done is to collect whatever is available and keep these safely in gene banks.
We did it. We made plant expeditions and picked up, classified and put the germplasm resources in the gene banks. It was then that we were told that the society would gain if, for instance, all the rice-growing countries were to keep their rice collections at an international centre, which in turn would act as a custodian of the invaluable genetic wealth. We did it again in good faith. India provided a copy of its rice collections for a common custody at the International Rice Research Institute, Manila, in the Philippines. The wheat collections were kept at the International Research Centre for Maize and Wheat (CIMMYT) at Mexico City. The other collections went to the 14 other international agricultural centres under the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
We were then told that these collections are not safe at Manila or Mexico City. After all, there is a distinct probability that a terrorist group can blow the gene banks with the result that these resources would be lost forever. So what do you do? You keep a copy of these collections in safe custody. And where is this safe custody? At Fort Knox and Fort Collins in the United States. We did it again and of course in good faith.
The US has these plant genetic resources, has the finances for research and has the mastery over genetic engineering. But what is coming in the way is what to do with these genetic resources. After all, you cannot work out the chemical composition and find out the pharmaceutical properties of each and every plant stored at Fort Collins. The best way is to revert back to the countries, which originally had these plant resources. To find out from the local communities as to how and what uses they were putting these plants to. And that would give the companies the chemical route to decipher the knowledge, draw industrial uses, seek patents and market the product back to those countries where it has been traditionally been used for centuries.
At a time when there exists so much of anger over biopiracy, sending a bio-prospecting team from a western university or a company would invite the wrath of the civil society in the developing world. The best way to legitimise biopiracy, therefore, is to encourage researchers, NGOs, and the public sector institutes to document the traditional knowledge. Give them a little research grant and you will have the civil society and cash-starved research institutes documenting the traditional knowledge virtually free for you.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
+ "BAD THINGS" BLOG ON BIOPHARMING
"...A final thought on biofarming inspired by the delay in approving Ventria's diarrhea rice in California. After the purely reflexive "no GMOs whatsoever" response, it is not hard to envision a position that admits the utility of cheaply producing useful drugs with plants. The problem, of course, is that all these companies are using crop plants, and they want to grow them in the same place the crops are widely planted for food (obviously, because they do well there). Some "reasonable" people have suggested that if they just switched to non-food/feed crops, everyone would be happy. But that's not going to happen, because the biopharm people need crop plants. They need the benefit of millennia of careful selection to produce yields big enough to pad their profit margin. And no matter what anyone says about the miracle of science, and its "precision", they can't do that themselves, not from scratch, and not even, probably, with a long-domesticated non-crop plant like tobacco. Because if they could, they would. They would love to fly under the radar. But they don't have the skills. So instead they are going to battle it out in the court of public opinion and anemic regulation, and they will win eventually. And then we're in trouble."
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HEADLINES OF THE WEEK: from the GMWATCH archive
21/4/2004 GM banned by Venezuela's president - Monsanto's contract terminated
21/4/2004 GM Protest in Basque Autonomous Region
21/4/2004 Ronald McDonald quits over GM chicken feed
21/4/2004 The Dawn of McScience
21/4/2004 The Emperor's ever-accelerating bandwagon - ISAAA hype
20/4/2004 Anti-GM campaign heightened/Farmer protests around the world / Lula's latest betrayal
20/4/2004 Berkeley protest - Tenure Justice Now! Important new website
20/4/2004 Farmers Protest at US/Canada Border
20/4/2004 Moore, Monsanto and BIO - "talented actors in the environmental arena"
20/4/2004 Response to Dr Kameshwar Rao from Dr Suman Sahai
19/4/2004 Contaminated seeds are no small problem / 'Bad Things' on pharma crops, GE etc.
19/4/2004 GM ship targeted
18/4/2004 Biotech's rich list / Lula sellout as rainforest disappears
18/4/2004 Great gene robbery II
17/4/2004 'Bush a Piker at Manipulating Science'
17/4/2004 Eco-Imperialism: Reflections on Earth Day in Washington
17/4/2004 GM rebellion spreading in America
17/4/2004 Immediate Global Ban of GM Food - 'A Call For Wisdom in World Agriculture'
16/4/2004 "Don't you know that DNA is just DNA is DNA?"
16/4/2004 GM soya 'miracle' turns sour in Argentina
16/4/2004 Lord Sainsbury's biotech firms hit the rocks
16/4/2004 The Sad Saga of Ignacio Chapela
16/4/2004 US Big Food lobby calls on WTO to take action on EU labeling/Brazil labels GM food
15/4/2004 Argentina's bitter harvest
15/4/2004 Despairing GM firms halt crop trials
15/4/2004 GM farmers "destroying neighbouring produce and causing sickness"
15/4/2004 Nightmare of the GM weeds
15/4/2004 Seed Giants Accused of Sabotage in Kenya
15/4/2004 THE WEEKLY WATCH number 68
FOR THE COMPLETE GMWATCH ARCHIVE: http://www.gmwatch.org/archive.asp
WEEKLY WATCH number 69
from Claire Robinson, WEEKLY WATCH editor