Oh, well, if Richard Lewontin says it's a sham, it must be a sham. After
all, appeals to authority always trump evidence, right?

For those interested in a balanced treatment of the issues involved, based
on an actual investigation, you can try the attached article.


On Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 9:48 PM, mart <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> an obscure biologist at an obscure university named lewontin and harvard
> wrote an entire book on gm rice and vit. a,  he said its a sham.
> --- On *Thu, 8/5/10, Phil Gasper <[log in to unmask]>* wrote:
> From: Phil Gasper <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: Regulation must be revolutionized
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Date: Thursday, August 5, 2010, 12:31 PM
> Yeah, we should simplify matters by banning it completely. The idea that GE
> crops will save millions from starvation is straight out of the agribusiness
> propaganda handbook. What we need is to stop financial speculation in
> agriculture (, but—oops—that
> will require more regulation. --PG
> On Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 11:10 AM, Michael Balter <[log in to unmask]<http:[log in to unmask]>
> > wrote:
> The writer argues that genetic engineering is subject to too much
> regulation, with examples. Could he be right in some cases?
> MB
>  <>
>  Regulation must be revolutionized
>    -  Ingo Potrykus<>
>  Nature  466,  561  (29 July 2010)  doi:10.1038/466561a Published online  28
> July 2010
> Unjustified and impractical legal requirements are stopping genetically
> engineered crops from saving millions from starvation and malnutrition, says
> Ingo Potrykus.
>   Article tools
>    - print<>
>    - email<>
>    - download pdf<>
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>    - order reprints<>
>    - rights and permissions<>
>    - share/bookmark<>
>   See online collection.<>
> Genetically engineered crops could save many millions from starvation and
> malnutrition — if they can be freed from excessive regulation. That is the
> conclusion I've reached from my experience over the past 11 years chairing
> the Golden Rice Humanitarian project (, and
> after a meeting at the Vatican last year on transgenic plants for food
> security in the context of development1<>
> .
> Golden rice will probably reach the market in 2012. It was ready in the lab
> by 1999. This lag is because of the regulatory differentiation of genetic
> engineering from other, traditional methods of crop improvement. The
> discrimination is scientifically unjustified. It is wasting resources and
> stopping many potentially transformative crops such as golden rice making
> the leap from lab to plate.
> More defensible — on scientific and humanitarian grounds — and more
> practical would be for new genetically modified crops to be regulated, not
> according to how they are bred, but according to their novelty, as are new
> drugs. All traits, however introduced, should be classified by their
> putative risk or benefit to the consumer and to the environment. Researchers
> and regulators could then focus on cases in which risks are real and
> fast-track crops urgently needed in the developing world.
> Golden rice is a series of varieties modified with two genes (phytoene
> synthase and phytoene double-desaturase) to produce up to 35 micrograms of
> vitamin A precursor per gram of edible rice. Within the normal diet of
> rice-dependent poor populations, it could provide sufficient vitamin A to
> reduce substantially the 6,000 deaths a day due to vitamin A deficiency, and
> to save the sight of several hundred thousand people per year1<>.
> None of the existing varieties of rice has even low levels of the vitamin A
> precursor in the part that is eaten, so conventional breeding cannot
> increase it. Golden rice was possible only with genetic engineering.
> The crop was stalled for more than ten years by the working conditions and
> requirements demanded by regulations (see 'From bench to belly'). For
> example, we lost more than two years for the permission to test golden rice
> in the field and more than four years in collecting data for a regulatory
> dossier that would satisfy any national biosafety authority. I therefore
> hold the regulation of genetic engineering responsible for the death and
> blindness of thousands of children and young mothers.
> Our experience is far from unique. It generally takes about ten times more
> money and ten years longer to bring a genetically modified crop to market
> than a non-genetically modified one. This keeps public research institutions
> out of the game and has given a handful of companies a de facto monopoly on
> the technology. Private ventures justifiably focus on the most profitable
> opportunities — industrial crops such as corn, cotton and soya beans.
> Genetic engineering, however, has massive potential to also address
> food-security problems — to increase yield by protecting subsistence food
> crops from pests and diseases, to strengthen crops' competition with weeds
> and to improve plants' nutritional value.
> Running the gauntlet
> Existing regulation demands many years' worth of molecular and biochemical
> safety tests. Yet multiple international agencies have found
> genetic-engineering crop technology to be benign. There have not been any
> substantiated cases of harm to the environment or to humans, even in the
> litigious United States where the adoption of genetic engineering is
> widespread.
> Meanwhile, a new plant created by traditional breeding methods — which also
> modify the genome — requires no safety data, only the demonstration that it
> performs at least as well as others. It is a quick and cheap process. This
> imbalance allows non-scientific opponents of genetic engineering to raise
> unfounded concerns, which a nervous public cannot properly evaluate,
> especially in Europe.
> All of this means that engineering varieties for the public good depends —
> ironically — on the private sector.
> Golden rice is a prime example1<>.
> Only within the framework of a public–private partnership with Syngenta was
> our team able to navigate the product-development morass. Without Syngenta
> we could not, for example, have reduced the number of patents involved,
> secured free licences, established managerial and marketing structures or
> developed plants that are optimized to meet regulatory requirements and to
> express high levels of desired traits1<>.
> Yet it is the responsibility of the public sector to address the crop needs
> of poor people. And it is wiser to spend public funds on feeding the world's
> growing population than on jumping through regulatory hoops, or worse on
> spurious, politically expedient research into hypothetical risks for the
> environment or the consumer, which have already been studied carefully over
> the past 25 years.
> A good next step would be for a country with political and economic
> independence to recognize the arguments in favour of reducing the current
> regulatory burden for genetically engineered crops. Such a country would
> gain enormously by freeing funds, time and energy for research, development
> and deployment of many more genetically engineered crops for poor people;
> its public sector and small enterprises would be able to compete with the
> larger industries. Without compromising safety, that nation would easily
> progress faster than those continuing to focus on hypothetical risks, and it
> would provide some much needed leadership. Perhaps then, lab-ready varieties
> from the public domain such as golden cassava, golden banana, iron-, zinc-
> and protein-rich rice might get from bench to belly in 5 years, rather than
> 15, if at all.
> --
> ******************************************
> Michael Balter
> Contributing Correspondent, Science
> Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
> New York University
> Email:  [log in to unmask]<http:[log in to unmask]>
> Web:
> NYU:
> ******************************************
> "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the
> poor have no food, they call me a Communist." -- Hélder Pessoa Câmara

Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
New York University

Email:  [log in to unmask]

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor
have no food, they call me a Communist." -- Hélder Pessoa Câmara