[Fwd: Plant biotech letters in national newspaper <fwd>]

Gerald F. Deitzer gd3 at UMAIL.UMD.EDU
Wed Oct 27 14:52:48 EST 1999


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Subject: Plant biotech letters in national newspaper <fwd>
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--- Begin Forwarded Message ---
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 14:59:11 -0400
From: "Brian M. Hyps" <bhyps at mail.aspp.org>
Subject: Plant biotech letters in national newspaper
Sender: "Brian M. Hyps" <bhyps at mail.aspp.org>
To: ASPP_Campus_Contacts at ftp.aspp.org

Reply-To: "Brian M. Hyps" <bhyps at mail.aspp.org>
Message-ID: <3.0.3.32.19991026145911.00ebc498 at mail.aspp.org>



To: ASPP Campus Contacts

Chair of the ASPP Committee on Minority Affairs C.S. Prakash, who is active
internationally in explaining the benefits and safety of modified foods,
wrote a letter on research using plant biotechnology published in the
October 25 issue of The Wall Street Journal.

In the letter, Dr. Prakash explains that modified food products are no less
safe than traditional counterparts.  He notes that modified food products
have been subjected to hundreds of tests on safety, toxicity,
allergenicity, nutritional value and other important traits.

Dr. Prakash notes that the furor over GM products in Europe is driven by
sensationalism and scare tactics, and by trade protectionist motives. It
has nothing to do with food safety or risk, he added. The irrational
decision of food companies to stop using GM ingredients is also not based
on science but a sheepish reaction to protect their market from the
consumer perception manipulated by opponents of the technology, Dr. Prakash
concluded.

In the same issue of the Wall Street Journal is a letter from Congressman
Nick Smith (R-MI), Chairman of the House  of Representatives Subcommittee
on Basic Research which recently held three hearings on plant genomic
research and modified foods.

Congressman Smith points out that, today, scientists are developing the
knowledge and techniques to produce plant varieties with a precision
unheard of a generation ago. He said that not only are these techniques
more precise, but because much more is known about the genetic traits
introduced into the plant, they can be safer. This was one of the
conclusions of a 1996 report by 11
scientific societies, Congressman Smith noted.

 An important fact that has been lost in the debate over agricultural
technologies is that traditional cross-breeding is genetic modification,
Smith added. Yet for some reason, plants developed using this method--which
we eat every day--are dubbed "Frankenfoods" by anti-technology activists.
The reason? Congressman Smith asked. As Dr. Norman Borlaug, Nobel
Prize-winning agronomist and father of the Green revolution, said in a
recent interview, "It's political. It's not scientific."

ASPP Past President Ken Keegstra, ASPP Committee on Public Affairs Member
Jim Cook and ASPP member Mike Thomashow, testified before the Basic
Research subcommittee during the series of three hearings chaired by
Congressman Smith. ASPP Immediate Past President Brian Larkins has
submitted requested written comments for the record to the Subcommittee.
(Larkins also testified on benefits of research using biotechnology October
6 with seven more ASPP members who were witnesses before the Senate
Agriculture Committee.)  Some of the points made by ASPP member witnesses
at the Basic Research subcommittee hearings were also made in the
Congressman's letter to the editor.

(ASPP members in the state of Michigan are encouraged to send letters to
Congressman Smith commending him for holding his three plant genome
research hearings and for writing the October 25 letter to the editor of
the Wall Street Journal.  The hearings and letter contribute to a more
science-based understanding of food products of plant biotechnology.
Congressman Smith's address is U.S. House of Representatives, Washington,
DC 20515)

The anti-biotech campaign sponsored by international activist organizations
is becoming more visible in the U.S. Science and editorial writers at
newspapers in your community will likely be hearing from anti-biotech
activists if they haven't heard from them already. Your letters to your
local newspapers are needed.  For a newspaper editorial page editor's
advice to ASPP members on getting your letters to the editor published
please see the ASPP home page at http://aspp.org/pubaff/editor.htm


Brian Hyps
Public Affairs Director
American Society of Plant Physiologists
15501 Monona Drive 
Rockville, MD 20855
301-251-0560 (phone)
301-309-9196 (fax)
bhyps at aspp.org

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----------------------
Elisabeth Gantt
Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics
Microbiology Building
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
FAX: 301-314-9489
Phone: 301-405-1625
eg37 at umail.umd.edu


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