ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
22 January 2003


Quotes of the week:

""The deal would be this: If the Americans would stop lying about us, we  would stop telling the truth about them." -  EU Development Commissioner  Poul Nielson quoted in 'EU's Nielson blasts U.S. "lies" in GM food row' (Reuters)

"Zambia is a sovereign country and makes its own decisions. Zambians do not need to be heroic to assert their sovereignty... GM-free supplies are available in surplus in southern Africa. Europe's policy is to provide food aid procured in the region, rather than as a means of disposing of domestic stocks." Pascal Lamy, the EU's trade commissioner quoted in The Case for Caution: 'We believe that citizens should have the right to choose' NEWSWEEK INTERNATIONAL,

Lamy's message has been put more bluntly by Alex Wijeratna of the development charity ActionAid, "The UN confirms there is enough non-GM food in southern Africa and on world markets... The US should [untie its aid] and stop putting a GM gun to the head of hungry Zambians."

1. Bananas are not suckers
2. Ugandan Farmers Fear Fake And GM Seeds


1.Bananas are not suckers
a friend of mine responded to the GM banana report in one of our newspapers. Worth reading. don't know if it was printed. Andrew Taynton

Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2003 11:30:55 +0000

Letter to the editor
Cape Argus [South Africa]
Dear Sir/Madam,
O venerable scientists, bananas are not suckers for your folly
I simply cannot allow the piece, "Pests could wipe out 'genetically decrepit' banana, scientists warn", (Cape Argus, Thursday, January 16), to go unchallenged.

Who pays you to print this shit?
Am I the only rational person left in the world to question this while everyone else says:  "Please o venerable scientists, save the banana with genetic engineering before we loose it."?  As if the banana which has survived tens of thousands of years of evolution is suddenly now "decrepit" because it hasn't been tampered with yet.
If, as is claimed, the traditionally resilient banana is being "invade by insects and plant diseases", then perhaps genetic engineering is to blame because this never happened before.  To compare the banana to the potato, as your so called "experts" do, is like comparing well; potatoes to bananas!  The potato blight was a disaster waiting to happen because potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) come from South America and to be grown in the completely foreign environment of Ireland, exposed them to conditions they had not evolved to cope with.  This further re-inforces my point that biological niches are highly sensitive things, honed over millions of years of evolution and should be respected, not messed with.  Anyway, the "potato famine" was dealt with by employing 'classical breeding', among other things, which could theoretically happen in nature and with which no-one has a quarrel.  Genetic engineering can never occur naturally without the splicing and inserting of genes, no matter how hard a banana and a flourescent leech try!
And if you think you are going to catch me out on the "contaminated seed" issue, you are wrong because I know, as well as everyone else does, that bananas reproduce by suckering and not seed, so the threat of contamination across plants doesn't apply here.  Pity we haven't got a million years to see the effects of your GE bananas on people!  Besides, how much does all this so called "crucial research" cost?  This money could feed the starving people of Africa and elsewhere, three times over so don't come with this bit about genetic engineering being essential to save the starving of the world.
Go play God on your own planet and leave ours alone.
Hamish Davidson (horticulturist)


2.Farmers Fear Fake And GM Seeds

Ronald N. Mukasa
The Monitor, (Kampala, Uganda), January 21, 2003

Traders of farm inputs have seen low sales for high-yield seeds as farmers are reluctant to buy them for fear of buying fake or genetically modified seeds.

The National Committee for Science and Technology is drawing up a policy on genetically modified foods. The current legal uncertainty has meant that some dealers have been importing genetically modified seeds for sale. This has left farmers unsure of what to buy.

The uncertainty has affected the trade of legitimate seed dealers. Three seed dealers interviewed by Money Monitor all said their sales have gone down as a result of the current controversy.

Mariam Kalule, the sales Manager of East African Seeds Company on Kafumbe Mukasa road, said that usually they record major sales of seeds in rainy seasons. However sales are lower.

"Apart from Okra, green pepper and French beans where local farmers had no substitute seeds, they are now buying small quantities of other seeds. Even the tissue culture improved seedlings, which they have been using, cannot be trusted by many of them. This has pushed our sales down," Kalule added.

Bosco Ochira, the sales officer of Kenya seed company which sells "Simlaw" branded seeds also accepted that seeds sales have been affected by fears that seeds on the market have been altered.

Ochira said the problem has been fuelled by unscrupulous traders who market fake seeds. "Although it is only six months since we opened our branch in Kapchorwa, we are extensively working with agricultural extension workers there to stop the wide spread sale of fake seeds in that region. We seriously need customer confidence," he said.

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