Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin)
http://members.tripod.com/~ngin
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Here's an article on the Royal Commission on GMOs now underway in NZ. I
love this bit:

'Asked if his company would be liable should something go wrong,
[Dupont's representative] said: "Most of us use automobiles. Do we hold
the
automobile company liable for . . . providing safe products, absolutely
tested? I feel we all have the freedom to operate and choose." '

Freedom to choose?!!!!!!!!

As consumers and as societies, we've all knowingly and freely bought
into this technology, have we? I don't think so! Even GM food labelling
is still pending in NZ.

But while there's precious little freedom to choose for us, there is of
course plenty of freedom to operate for the biotech companies --
freedom, in fact, to drive the biotech juggernaut wither they will and
freedom from comebacks for any damage done during the spree.

But then that's a small price to pay for crops that can solve every
problem known to man:

> Aventis argued that modified
> production would benefit the world's huge population ... would be
> resistant to drought, cold and damp and foods would have
> improved nutrition and shelf life.... would  combat anaemia, child
blindness and juvenile
> diabetes [what about juvenile crime?!] and protect against heart
disease and cancer

> DuPont said modified crops could increase
> productivity, reduce pesticide use, reduce insect harm
> where pesticides were not used, provide new products such as
> fuels, polymers and pharmaceuticals, and add nutritional
> value.

More to the point might be some protection from the arrogance that makes
us think we can rearrange the world of nature at will and engineer our
own futures. Here's a couple of quotes - the first from David
Ehrenfeld's "The Arrogance of Hunmanism":

""Our most glittering improvements over nature are too often a fool's
solution to a problem that has been isolated from context, a transient,
local maximization that is bound to be followed by mostly undesirable
counter adjustments throughout the system"

And here's one from Rene Dubos on hi-tech quasi-solutions and the
residual problems:

"If we follow this course we shall increasingly behave like hunted
creatures, fleeing from one protective device to another, each more
costly, more complex, and more undependable than the one before..."

And of course to date there's precious little proof that GMOs can do any
of the many things listed even at the outset!

Incidentally, the man from AVENTIS NZ who says even a 400m buffer might
not be enough seems to be singing from a somewhat different hymn sheet
to Judith Jordan from AVENTIS UK at the Greenpeace trial, let alone
AVENTIS OZ who reportedly won't even respect a 15m buffer zone!.

Read on...
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> The Dominion (Wellington) October 17, 2000 SECTION: NEWS;
> NATIONAL; Pg. 2 LENGTH: 657 words HEADLINE: No guarantees
> from gene-food giants BYLINE: SAMSON Alan BODY: THE world's
> first substantial inquiry into genetic modification began in
> Wellington yesterday with a concession by two genetic
> engineering multinationals that it was impossible to
> guarantee containment. Two of the "big six" multinationals
> put their case on the first day of the 14-week Royal
> Commission on Genetic Modification. They emphasised that it
> was impossible to give absolute guarantees in any endeavour.
> Any risks were negligible, they said. First up before the
> commission was Aventis SA -- a newly-formed merger of
> Rhone-Poulenc and AgrEvo. Aventis argued that modified
> production would benefit the world's huge population -- six
> billion, and growing rapidly. The company's public affairs
> head, Naomi Stevens, said that future crops would be
> resistant to drought, cold and damp and foods would have
> improved nutrition and shelf life. There would be plants
> that would combat anaemia, child blindness and juvenile
> diabetes and protect against heart disease and cancer, she
> said. The next company, DuPont, accepted there were public
> concerns about the technology. "While much of these
> concerns arise from misinformation or alarmist
> exaggeration, we nevertheless believe that we should
> proceed with caution," it said. "A scientifically
> impeccable process is needed and as much information as
> possible should be made available publicly. "In these
> circumstances, we consider that a regulatory regime must be
> established and robustly administered." Both companies
> faced tough cross-examination from the Green Party,
> Greenpeace, an organic industry group and the Nelson
> GE-free Awareness Group. An Aventis product safety manager,
> Robert MacDonald, was asked about the effect of any escape
> on organic groups' ability to certify their products as
> free of genetic modification. He said that more controls
> "would be required". He conceded that cross-pollination and
> cross-hybridisation could occur from his company's modified
> canola to related species. Pressed on the effectiveness of
> regulatory requirements that plots be separated from
> related species by 400 metres, he said, "rare pollination
> events can occur at greater distances, yes". To questions
> about the need for long term clinical testing to rule out
> allergenic effects from modified foods on humans, Ms
> Stevens said she was "not sure" these would provide a
> complete answer. DuPont United States representative Clive
> Holland said that, to date, no introduced dna had been
> transferred into meat or milk from an animal feeding on a
> modified product. "But we can't give you guarantees,
> particularly with crops, because nothing in life is risk
> free," Professor Holland said. "But all our data shows we
> are comfortably way above the line on safety."
>
>  Asked if his company would be liable should something go
> wrong, he said: "Most of us use automobiles. Do we hold the
> automobile company liable for . . . providing safe
> products, absolutely tested? "I feel we all have the
> freedom to operate and choose."
>
>  In its submission, Aventis approved of strong regulatory
> processes but argued strongly against the high costs of
> hearings and duplications between approval and monitoring
> authorities. It recommended a national biotech strategy to
> help New Zealand "realise the potential benefits" of
> biotechnology. DuPont said modified crops could increase
> productivity, reduce pesticide use, reduce insect harm
> where pesticides were not used, provide new products such as
> fuels, polymers and pharmaceuticals, and add nutritional
> value. Opportunities for New Zealand included
> increased-energy oil corn for stock, low-bloat clover and
> lucerne, pest control and herbicide-tolerant varieties of
> corn, and an expansion of soy protein and fibre products.
>

highlights
from the ngin bulletin list