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Harry Cline and the KKK / California State University biotech staff attack ban (13/10/2004)

"A report by The Bee in June found that U.S. universities are linked closely to biotech firms and do relatively little research about the possible negative impact of genetic engineering." (item 1)

"I apologize for the neo-Nazi comment about renting a city hall or a board of supervisor chambers to this anti-society, anti-science crowd being tantamount to renting a public building to a neo-Nazi group or the KKK. I could have made my point without the Nazi comment......... I think there is a strong anti-societal, exclusivity sentiment in this anti-biotechnology movement just like the KKK." (item 2)

1.Biotech staff at California universities attack GM ban
2.Harry Cline says sorry about the nazi/kkk jibe but... they're like the KKK anyway!!!
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1.CSU unit in biotech battle
Propriety of group's opposition to ballot issues is questioned.
By Mike Lee -- Bee Staff Writer
Sacramento Bee, October 13, 2004
http://www.sacbee.com/content/business/story/11073585p-11990317c.html

California State University's systemwide biotechnology program is taking a stand against efforts to ban genetically engineered crops in four counties - the first political foray of its kind for the 17-year-old program.

While the announcement gives a boost to opponents of four November anti-biotech ballot measures, it also raises questions for some about publicly funded institutions taking sides on an issue that divides Californians.

"It's predictable but continually disappointing and, I think, outrageous," Renata Brillinger, campaign coordinator for Californians for GE-Free Agriculture, said Tuesday of the CSU endorsement.

Biotech prohibitions already are in place in Mendocino and Trinity counties. Proposals to ban the growing of biotech crops are on Nov. 2 ballots in Butte, Marin, Humboldt and San Luis Obispo counties, making this election critical for an emerging technology with substantial implications for California agriculture.

"These initiatives narrowly and selfishly serve the purposes of the anti-biotech community by attempting to prohibit the cultivation of biotech crops that have been proven to be beneficial to agriculture in general, and to farmers and the environment in particular," according to a statement made public this week by CSU's Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology.

The program promotes biotechnology and has invested heavily in laboratories and related research. Roughly 750 CSU faculty members and thousands of students statewide study aspects of the fast-growing and high-paying industry that Bay Area professors helped launch in the 1970s.

"When we see ballot measures coming out of this type where there is very little scientific reasoning taking place ... we feel compelled to voice our opinion," said A. Stephen Dahms, executive director of the CSU biotech program in San Diego.

The CSU executive council of campus presidents declined to lend its support to the biotech statement but encouraged the biotech program to make its views known.

The council "decided that it would be most appropriate for the faculty (biotech) group to support their own resolution since faculty can advocate on behalf of political issues," according to a council report provided by Dahms.

Dahms said the program's public position would not squelch debate on CSU campuses or undermine the university's role of testing ideas.

Emily Robidart, who tracks biotech issues for the California Farm Bureau Federation in Sacramento, said the CSU support should help defeat the ballot measures without damaging university credibility.

"The way I see it, the science is there and scientific institutions are backing it," she said.

But anti-biotech spokeswoman Brillinger raised concerns about industry interests infiltrating public universities and said the CSU position paper overstated biotech's benefits. "This looks to me like ... biotech advertisements I have seen," she said.

A report by The Bee in June found that U.S. universities are linked closely to biotech firms and do relatively little research about the possible negative impact of genetic engineering.

The University of California also has a systemwide biotechnology program, and biotech companies fund scholarships and research at several campuses. Director Martina Newell-McGloughlin, whose office is in Davis, said the UC program likely will remain neutral on the proposed biotech bans.

She is working with university officials to offer science-based public forums about biotechnology after the fall election.

"It's education as opposed to advocacy," she said. "We are trying ... to provide information for people to make an informed decision (about biotechnology)."

By cutting and pasting DNA, genetic engineering allows scientists to create novel plants, the most popular of which withstand weedkillers or kill pests.

Biotechnology also was used by a Sacramento company to design a rice that grows human proteins - a proposed product that sharply split the state's rice industry and unsettled consumers.

Genetically engineered corn, cotton and soybeans are popular with some farmers around the world, including in the Central Valley. These farmers say they make weed control easier and reduce dependence on toxic chemicals. Biotech crops were planted on an estimated 167 million acres in 2003, up 15 percent from the previous year.

Commercial biotech crops have not been proven dangerous to human health, although it's still too early to write their environmental legacy.

Biotech foes typically oppose control of the food supply by a few multinational biotech companies and question the long-term safety and environmental consequences of the products.

About the Writer
The Bee's Mike Lee can be reached at (916) 321-1102 or mflee@sacbee.com
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2.Four anti-GMO initiatives next month firefight leading to larger war...
By Harry Cline
Western Farm Press, October 12, 2004
http://westernfarmpress.com/news/10-12-04-column-four-anti-GMO/

It should come as no surprise that Western Farm Press has been dropped from "Californians for GE-Free Agriculture" media mailing list.

Couple points about last issue’s commentary. I apologize for the neo-Nazi comment about renting a city hall or a board of supervisor chambers to this anti-society, anti-science crowd being tantamount to renting a public building to a neo-Nazi group or the KKK. I could have made my point without the Nazi comment.

Secondly, some who support biotechnology say I was off base in criticizing public and private entities for renting to anti-GE groups so they could parade their anti-GMO charade as informational forums. That may have been harsh, but this is a serious issue that has far reaching societal consequences if these radicals are successful in banning GMO crops in a few counties in California. No one objected to my KKK comment because I know of no one who would support the philosophy of the Klu Klux Klan. I think there is a strong anti-societal, exclusivity sentiment in this anti-biotechnology movement just like the KKK.

This anti-biotech movement is not about biotech — it is about right-to-farm. It is a free choice issue. Who is to say this group will stop at banning GMOs? What would be next; no tractors more than 10 horsepower in farming; everyone must plant a certain percentage of organic crops, regardless of the economic consequences; dairyman can milk only a limited number of cows per day. If these groups are only marginally successful, they will not stop at banning GMOs.

Or the most absurd of all, that farmers can be arrested for growing herbicide-tolerant corn. That is exactly what the anti-GMO measure would demand if passed in Humboldt County, one of four counties where anti-biotech measures are on the ballot next month. Humboldt has the highest percentage of biotech crops of any other county in the state. It is all herbicide resistant corn, and this group of anti-science whackos want to arrest farmers for growing biotech corn.

Third-generation Ferndale, Calif., Dairyman Dennis Leonardi grows genetically engineered corn to feed his 400 cows. Leonardi was quoted in a recent Associated Press article that the anti-GMO measure in his county has "gone over the edge. It’s absolutely ridiculous to make criminals out of farmers."

It is so absurd it is frightening because these radical groups who want to dictate how producers farm may actually win one or more of the ballot measures. They have succeeded in Mendocino County. They also count Trinity as in their win column, but that is only until the board of supervisors there decides to modify or toss out the anti-GMO ordinance. There was no ballot initiative in Trinity, only a county ordinance passed and it can be rescinded by the same supervisors vote as it was passed.

The strongest opposition to this anti-science movement seems to be in Butte County where farmers are organized and successfully fighting back. San Luis Obispo County agriculture is just now getting up a head of steam; however, it may be too late there. Marin is probably a lost cause. Agriculture is playing catch up. The four county initiatives represent a firefight — win, lose or draw the battle is far from over.

The anti-GMO crowd will not stop with these four counties. They want a statewide anti-GMO initiative and with the distortions they freely regurgitate, they just may fool enough Californians to sign petitions to call an initiative. Remember, groups behind this movement are well-funded because raising money to sustain their radicalism is what they are really all about.

Farmers had better catch up quickly, or the war will be over before they are in the fight. Some have stepped up already; rice growers, cotton producers, cattlemen and others. However, conspicuous by their absence in this fight are grape growers, almond producers, vegetable producers, unfortunately, California Department of Food and Agriculture and others.

My passion on this issue is not just from the hope that some day biotechnology can find a cure for diabetes for my granddaughter or at least make her insulin-dependent life easier. I have also seen biotechnology work in the field even beyond expectations of scientists. I have seen it dramatically reduce the use of pesticides. I have seen it improve the environment. And, this is only the beginning if this anti-science crowd does not win.

Disregard my passion and convictions. Read what two of the most influential men of this generation have to say. In this edition of Western Farm Press are two articles, one from Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr. Normal Borlaug and the other from the quintessential environmentalist, Dr. Patrick Moore

Borlaug has been credited with saving billions of lives through his successful efforts to breed drought-resistant grains. Moore brought the environmental movement into public view as one of the founders of Greenpeace. You cannot find two more different scientists, yet they agree totally that to ban biotechnology would be a crime against humanity.

Clip the articles and send them to your friends and neighbors.

I realize that I have been largely preaching to the choir in my tirades about this anti-biotechnology injustice being palmed off on California by outsiders, but it must be the choir, farmers and ranchers, who sing the loudest to get the congregation, Californians, to hear the message. It must be farmers who stop this movement.

e-mail:hcline@primediabusiness.com
© 2004, PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc.

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