ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

23 August 2002


1. NAS on GM animals - report url + article links
2. FAO on world ag - report url + articles


1. NAS on GM animals

for the NAS report, Animal Biotechnology: Identifying Science-Based Concerns

the foillowing page, NAS - Animals May Pose Risk

includes the following coverage of the report:

Genetically Modified Animals May Pose Environmental Risks
JILL CARROLL and ANTONIO REGALADO / Wall Street Journal 21aug02
Scientists seek more control over bioengineered beasts
TOM ABATE / SF Chronicle 21aug02
Potential Environmental Problems With Animal Biotech Raise Some Concerns; No Evidence Cloned Animals Are Unsafe to Eat, But Data Still Lacking
NAS Press Release 20aug02
Animal Biotechnology: Science-Based Concerns
National Research Council Public Briefing August 21, 2002
Opening Statement by John G. Vandenbergh
Professor of Zoology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh and Chair, Committee on Defining Science-Based Concerns Associated With Products of Animal Biotechnology


2. FAO on world ag

The new report:

World agriculture: towards 2015/2030

2 articles follow:
*FAO study: World population headed for 8 billion
FAO study: World population headed for 8 billion

(Aug. 21, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- While it predicted that 8.3 billion people will inhabit the Earth by 2020, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, in its study, "World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030," foresees a better fed populace. It does warn about continuing problems in many countries and regions, particularly in Africa.

The study cautiously endorsed biotechnology, but only "if the environmental threats from biotechnology are addressed, and if the technology is affordable by and geared towards the needs of the poor and undernourished, genetically modified crop varieties could help to sustain farming in marginal areas and to restore degraded land to production."

But such technology is part of the industrial farming model that the report predicts will accelerate, possibly harming the hundreds of millions of people who sustainably farm fruit, vegetables, legumes, grain and who raise livestock on their family farms and plots.

"If we do not take measures to correct the situation, the poor will be unable to compete on the food market."

Source: Agence France Presse
[via The AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER August 22, 2002 #184]

PAUL BETTS, THE FINANCIAL TIMES: The operations of large food multinationals should be more actively regulated by developing nations heavily reliant on agriculture, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Monday.

An FAO study, released Tuesday, warns that globalization "has led to the rise of multinational food companies with the potential to disempower farmers in many countries." Developing countries thus needed "the legal and administrative framework to ward off the threats while reaping the benefits." But it concludes that the overall benefits of globalization are likely to outweigh its risks and costs.

The call for greater regulation, contained in a lengthy study on world agriculture and food trends during the next 30 years, coincides with the growing debate on regulating big multinational enterprises expected to feature at the World Summit on Sustainable Development which opens in Johannesburg next weekend.

The report says the negative impact of globalization can be mitigated by a combination of measures, including openness, investments in infrastructure, promotion of economic integration and limits on market concentration and control, to make globalization work for the benefit of the poor.

Multinational companies, which have launched a big campaign ahead of the summit to show that their corporate goals are compatible with sustainable development, are lobbying the UN to endorse their plans for voluntary self-regulation.

But Jacques Diouf, the FAO's director-general, on Monday told the Financial Times that self-regulation was often based on the "immediate interests" of big business. He said the FAO also felt genetically modified organisms should be subject to international regulation. GMOs could prove a "good scientific tool" to improve life, but they had to be controlled.

Another issue likely to dominate the summit was the need for developed countries to make a greater financial effort to assist poorer countries. Although the latest FAO report predicts that there will be enough food for a growing population by 2030, "hundreds of millions of people in developing countries will remain hungry."

The FAO recently launched an anti-hunger program that would require an additional annual public investment of $24billion (£15.6bn).

Mr Diouf argued the additional funding from developed countries was a modest amount considering OECD countries as a whole currently spent $1 billion a day supporting their domestic agriculture even at a time of low economic growth.

For Mr Diouf, the priority was to develop fresh water resources in poor countries, especially in Africa. "Fresh water is the number one problem," he said, adding that water rather than energy risked becoming the main source of conflict in the new millennium.

The world population will grow from around six billion people today to nearly 8.3 billion by 2030. "Unless we find a technology to use water of the seas, we will have serious problems of sharing scarce fresh water resources," he warned. About 40% of fresh water involved transboundary resources. This offered an opportunity either to bring countries together or to lead to conflict.

The FAO report also predicts a decline in the number of hungry people in developing countries from 777 million today to 440 million in 2030. It notes patterns of food consumption are becoming more similar throughout the world, shifting towards higher-quality and more expensive foods such as meat and dairy products.

Though many companies acknowledge risks to their reputations from failing to take social and environmental sustainability into account, fewer have much clue how to go about it, according to a new report, Alan Beattie reports from Washington.

PwC, the business services company, said that while nearly two-thirds of large U.S. companies rated sustainability as important, nearly three-quarters did not incorporate such risks into their formal project evaluation procedures.

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