GM industry's "disastrous domino effect" / Anti-GM campaign pledged to continue at South Asian farmers' leaders meeting / Science, hype, lollipops at BIO (8/6/2004)

The first item makes for an interesting contrast with the excerpts on the theme of the BIO 2004 conference in the other two. The latter pieces also contrast neatly with each other.

In the second piece biotech lobbyists, Henry Miller and Gregory Conko - the Vice President of Prakash's florid AgBioWorld organisation - spell out just what a bad way the GM crop industry is in.

We've excerpted their list of the "disastrous domino effect" besetting the industry, from an article which in more chraracteristic fashion argues that all the biotech industry is suffering from is over-regulation by demonic (and largely US!) bureaucrats egged on by misguided corporate executives.

If you believe that, you'll believe anything. The more typical character of the political/bureaucratic response is clearly indicated by San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom's message to attendees at the BIO conference who might be thinking of locating their businesses in the city (item 3).

"If there's anything you need, consider it done. You've got a parking problem you need taken care of, consider it done. I'll even give you my cell phone number," he quipped.

2.BIO 2004 Conference in San Francisco - Who created this monster?
3.BIO conference offers science, hype, lollipops

Star of Mysore, India

June 8 (KVV)- The farmer leaders of SAARC countries [The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka] met here and discussed for three days about the agro-food sovereignty, land reforms, bio-diversity and sovereignty of seeds.                                                                

They unanimously urged to spare the food and agro sectors from the purview of World Trade Organisation (WTO) treaty.

Except Pakistan, farmer leaders from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Indonesia took part in the preliminary meeting of the world farmers conference, said Ms. Chukki Nanjundaswamy, General Secretary (Foreign Affairs), Karnataka State Raitha Sangha, at a press conference on Thursday.

Ms. Nanjundaswamy (daughter of former Raitha Sangha President late Prof. M.D. Nanjundaswamy) further said that the World Summit held last year at Cancun on WTO failed as the farmers all over the globe were united. The next WTO World Summit scheduled to be held in Hong Kong next year should commit itself to safeguard the interests of farmers, she said.

Seed Bank

The Multinational Companies (MNCs) that have introduced Genetic Engineering Technology have created serious problems for the farming community. Efforts were on to open 'Seed Bank' to preserve traditional seeds. The motive behind opening of Seed Bank was to provide seeds to all the farmers free of cost, she said.

"We will continue our operation against Genetically Modified (GM) breed. As an alternative to this, we will extend National Seed Banks network," she explained.

Bangladesh farmer leader Mr. Badrul Alam, in his address, said that Agro-based economy should be formulated in the third world countries. It should be ensured that the traditional agriculture techniques must not fade away due to the competition between traditional and modern agriculture systems, he added.

Mr. Prema Prasad Dungal, farmer leader from Nepal, said that the present day farmer had no land and water. Attempts were being made to disturb bio-diversity. Proper information was not being provided to him. A movement to oust WTO from agro sector has to be launched and voice should be raised against gender discrimination, he said.

"The next SAARC Summit will be held at Dhaka in January 2005. At the same time, a public meeting is being planned. The organisations of farmers were planning to hold demonstrations during the next WTO Summit at Hong Kong. We are trying to formulate people's network quite different from NGOs. Let the WTO disclose its agriculture policy," he urged.

Sri Lanka's farmer leader Mr. Jayatilaka said that the laws were losing their prominence in the present era of globalisation and privatisation. It has failed in its mission of protecting those who were ought to be protected. The green revolution had spoiled everything. Land, water and resources were being sold, he said.

Mr. Yuddhavir Singh, Co-ordinator of the National Co-ordination Council of Farmers Organisations, said: "We are prepared for the fight. In the first instance, we request the State as well as the Union Government to safeguard the farmers' interests."

"If the Governments do not heed to our request, we will launch a direct operation. The Farmers Co-ordination Committee and the Jana Sanchalana were making arrangements for launching a movement. This movement would take regional, national and international shape," he said.

Farmer leader Mr. K. Chandrashekar, Nepal's farmer leader Mr. Darmadutta Deb Kota and Mr. Trusgoo of Spain's Environmental organisation were present at the press meet.

2.BIO 2004 Conference in San Francisco: Who created this monster?
Henry I. Miller, Gregory Conko
Tuesday, June 8, 2004 [EXCERPTS ONLY]

As one of the nation's largest and richest trade associations holds its annual meeting in San Francisco this week, it is worth noting that all is not coming up genetically engineered roses for the biotech industry. Although the biopharmaceutical sector is for the most part robust, biotechnology applied to agriculture, food production and environmental problems has a long row to hoe.

Many of biotech's travails can be traced back to two decades of unwise strategic decisions by individual companies and by the trade association itself -- the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

...a disastrous domino effect. In March, Mendocino County voters passed a referendum that prohibits any cultivation of gene-spliced organisms. In May, Monsanto announced that it was shelving plans to sell a gene-spliced wheat variety, attributing the decision to changed market conditions. That decision, however, was forced upon the company by the  reluctance of farmers to plant the variety and of food processors to use it as an ingredient...

Monsanto also announced last month that it has abandoned plans to introduce its gene-spliced canola into Australia, following consumer skepticism and environmental concerns. Other companies have acknowledged giving up plans to work on certain applications of the technology because of excessive regulations.

After receiving tentative approval from the British government for a gene- spliced variety of corn, Bayer CropScience decided not to sell it because additional regulatory hurdles would delay commercialization for several years.

3.BIO conference offers science, hype, lollipops
San Diego Union Tribune [EXCERPT]

SAN FRANCISCO - In the next 30 years we are going to see people's productive lifetime expanded by 10 years, predicted Leroy Hood, one of the world's leading experts in molecular biology.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson vowed during a luncheon speech to speed the regulatory approval process for combination drug treatments for AIDS, to get them to devastated African countries faster.

Such is the hype at the annual conference of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

More than 18,000 people from 56 countries are gathered this week in the city where the $40-billion-a-year industry began a little more than 25 years ago.

"It's funny this is celebrated as the city where it all began, but who's really located here," San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom told the attendees gathered for lunch yesterday. No publicly traded biotech is actually in San Francisco, he lamented.

He took the moment to pitch his city's new Mission Park, a 303-acre development built to house life sciences companies.

"If there's anything you need, consider it done," he said to those who might be considering leasing space in the complex near the University of California San Francisco. "You've got a parking problem you need taken care of, consider it done. I'll even give you my cell phone number," he quipped.

He might be new to the job, but Newsom caught on quick: this is the place to pitch a business, attract new business to a city or region and make those connections that could eventually lead to partnerships and funding opportunities.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is here touting the biotechnology cluster he thinks is going to sprout up on what is now citrus groves and wetlands in Palm Beach County with the expansion of the La Jolla-based Scripps Research Institute.

Corn-belt politicians are toasting Japanese businessmen, trying to forge friendships in a nation that has been resistant to genetically engineered food.

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