ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

26 February 2003


in the struggle against indigenous knowledge first came Pol Pot, now comes Monsanto...
1.Rural education can cut pesticide deaths - report
2.Royal Society wants balance


1.Rural education can cut pesticide deaths -report

Source - Reuters Securities News (Eng), Wednesday, February 26, 2003  13:00
LONDON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Agrochemical giants must make amends for pesticide-caused deaths by funding rural education in the developing world and phasing out their most dangerous chemicals, an environmental group said on Wednesday.

The Environmental Justice Foundation, a non-governmental organisation funded by green groups, said in a report that pesticides are linked to a host of cancers, birth defects and neurological disorders.

"The range of human health problems associated with such exposure is truly frightening," said Mike Shanahan of EJF.

Leading biotech companies contend that their investment in new technologies is reducing the damage done by pesticides.

The London-based EJF, citing World Heath Organisation data from 10 years ago that pesticides poisoned three million people per year, said it feared the same number was falling sick now.

The foundation said the developing world bore the brunt of this malaise and children were particularly vulnerable.

However, industry giants such as Monsanto have said genetically-modified crops combat pesticide poisonings by reducing the number of sprays needed.

The company says it makes the safety of communities where it operates its highest priority. It has spearheaded programmes in Indonesia and China that reduce pesticide usage through insect-resistant plants.

However, Shanahan told Reuters that teaching forgotten traditional farming methods could solve the crisis in developing world villages.

"In Cambodia people were taught from scratch knowledge lost in the Pol Pot era. They learned to avoid the perils of certain pests by planting at different times of the year, water management and crop rotation," he said.

He added that Cambodians had to relearn which creatures were their allies in the field, such as which snakes kill rats and how dragonflies eat parasitic flies.

EJF has started field-schools for farmers in the hope that this vital knowledge will soon become common currency.

Shanahan urged the EU and other Western countries to help fund such schemes, and to help phase out the most deadly, Class I, pesticides.


2.RS wants balance (includes letter from RS + original article)

From: "Jean Saunders" <>
To: "GM Action" <>

It would appear that the Royal Society are now regular readers of the Eco Soundings column (Guardian, Society pages).  This is good ..... they might learn something about what it takes to protect the environment as they clearly don't have much of a clue.

In response to last weeks condemnation that the Royal Society showed lack of balance in their choice of panel members at their public discussion on GM plants, the Chief Executive of the RS has replied.  Stephen Cox writes that the RS "remains committed to informed and balanced public debate about GM issues.  What about you?"

Letters Page
Society Guardian
26 Feb 2003

"Debatable Balance

Eco Soundings unfairly cast doubt on the balance of our recent public meeting on GM plants and health (Panel bleating, Feb 19).  You seem disappointed that the discussion did not degenerate into the rather sterile slanging match that has masqueraded as public debate on this issue so far, with opposing sides arguing that GM is either inherently dangerous or entirely problem-free.

Instead, the panel members and audience engaged in vigorous debate about both the potential problems and benefits of GM, with the chair, an experienced and respected journalist, allowing everybody who wanted to express a view to do so.

The Royal Society remains committed to informed and balanced public debate about GM issues.  What about you?"

Stephen Cox, chief executive, The Royal Society


 Society Guardian
Eco soundings

John Vidal
Wednesday February 19, 2003
The Guardian


Panel bleating

Is the Royal Society really balanced when it comes to GM? Last week, the august body held a curious "panel discussion", entitled GM Plants and Health - What are the Benefits? One bemused audience member commented that it was the first time he had attended any discussion where the whole panel (Julian Ma, of Guy's Hospital, Dr Charles Arntzen, of Arizona State University, and Adrian Dubock, of Syngenta) as well as the chairperson, Vivienne Parry, seemed to hold exactly the same viewpoint.

ngin bulletin archive