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Information about bfahome

Published on October 4, 2007

Author: Moorehead


Biotechnology in Food and Agriculture:  Biotechnology in Food and Agriculture Ethics Science and technology International Issues Regulatory Issues Since the 1980’s we have been able to::  Since the 1980’s we have been able to: Find the genes for some specific traits Place genes in organisms where they did not originate Get those genes to work in their new location Why is this different?:  Why is this different? Before, we could only move huge groups of genes by plant or animal breeding This meant genetic progress was slow, and not very specific Mutagenesis was accomplished through chemicals or radiation to “make” new genes in an organism. Gamma field for radiation breeding:  Gamma field for radiation breeding Researchers at this facility in Japan use radiation from Cobalt to induce mutations in plants, then they breed the favorable mutations Animal breeders use detailed records and analysis:  Animal breeders use detailed records and analysis In crops, two main kinds of genes have been commercialized:  In crops, two main kinds of genes have been commercialized Insect resistance genes, called “Bt” Bt specific for corn borers Bt specific for rootworms Herbicide resistant genes Resistance to the herbicide “Roundup” Resistance to the herbicide “Liberty” Three major crops are involved:  Three major crops are involved Corn Soybeans Cotton Slide8:  From one million acres to ninety million acres in just five years. Soybeans 54%* Cotton 61%* Corn 25%* I N C R E A S E D U S E *32 % intended 2002 *74% intended 2002 *71% intended 2002 Trade presents major problems:  Trade presents major problems Europeans have (mostly) zero tolerance for biotech crops. As a result, Europe is not buying much corn or soybean from USA. Corn or soybean bought by Europe still decreases total supply. Fine points to GMO trade::  Fine points to GMO trade: Europe wouldn’t buy much corn anyway Even in Europe, concern is more over certification than actual test levels Level of resistance to GMO crops still differs by country Most US corn sellers have not been getting a premium for non-GMO corn US still supplies more non-GMO corn than market requires ---Randall Fortenbery, UW-Madison Ag Econ Soybeans are different:  Soybeans are different Non-GMO soybeans are getting to be hard to find Europe buys its Soybean from Brazil which SAYS it is a non-GMO producer Much of Brazil’s Soybean production is GMO in reality China, a big customer for US soybeans, still working out terms of trade re GMO ---Randall Fortenbery, UW-Madison Ag Econ Social impacts of Agricultural Biotechnology:  Social impacts of Agricultural Biotechnology US consumers haven’t been as resistant as Europeans US consumers may trust their food supply more; Europeans have had some bad experiences (Mad Cow) In farm country, developing separate streams of grain and beans has caused some disruption in markets. Pollen Drift:  Pollen Drift Pollen from GMO corn can drift onto silk of corn headed for non-GMO markets Kernels resulting from that drift will be detectable as GMO at the elevator 660 feet is the normal set-back in seed corn production, but seed corn is allowed a small tolerance, non-GMO corn is not Pollen drift problems might be avoided:  Pollen drift problems might be avoided Neighboring corn farmers COULD talk to each other about planting intentions Most GMO producers plant some non-GMO, they COULD plant them where they will serve as a buffer to neighboring non-GMO fields. BGH or rBgh or BST:  BGH or rBgh or BST Injectable protein made by genetically engineered bacteria Cows give more milk, maintain peak production longer in lactation Increased milk production has to be met with increased feed intake No evidence use patterns depend on size of farm; scale neutral BGH or rBgh or BST:  BGH or rBgh or BST Issue has been percolating in Wisconsin Farm Community for 15 years Approved in 1994, product has found its place in the market. Neither glowing predictions nor dire forecasts have come to pass. No evidence of human health risk has emerged. Genetically Engineered Wheat:  Genetically Engineered Wheat Wheat genetically engineered to resist herbicides is probably ready for market Because wheat is open-pollinated, there is concern among non-GMO and organic producers Wheat is a more important export to Europe, so there is concern about potential loss of market share Wheat, continued:  Wheat, continued Monsanto executive testified before North Dakota legislature in March, 2002 that it would be 2005 before biotech wheat hits market, if then Monsanto official stated that the company would not market product if there was no place to sell the grain The terminator gene:  The terminator gene Terminator gene, called Technology Protection System by USDA, which holds the patent with a private firm It makes it possible to market a generation of seeds which will grow crop plants, but seeds on the crop will be sterile. Could be used “To protect a company's investment in technology and prevent the spread of transgenic traits into the environment,” according to Mel Oliver, USDA scientist. “Terminator” coined by opponents:  “Terminator” coined by opponents Opposition groups such as ETC of Winnepeg Manitoba say such technology would harm small farmers around the world who plant their own seeds. ETC claims opponents “won the PR war” by naming the technology ‘terminator.’ Ethical question on Terminator Technology::  Ethical question on Terminator Technology: If it’s bad that new crop varieties with genetically engineered traits can reproduce on their own and spread those traits, Why is it bad that these new crop varieties also have a gene to prevent reproduction, and accidental “gene flow?” Golden Rice:  Golden Rice Engineered to produce more vitamin A precursor, beta-carotene In Southeast Asia, 70% of children under the age of five suffer from vitamin A deficiency Vision impairment and increased disease (diarrhea) are the result of deficiency Variety will be released to subsistence farmers, may correct deficiencies in diets Golden Rice opponents::  Golden Rice opponents: Doubt the ability of golden rice to eliminate vitamin A deficiency Say “GE strategy at the expense of more relevant approaches.” Say “better use the inexpensive and nutritious foods already available” Golden rice is merely “a marketing event” Poor farmers “have long been deprived of the right to choose their means of production and survival. Golden rice is not going to change that, and nor will any other corporately-pushed GE crop. “ Any further attempts at the commercial exploitation of hunger and malnutrition through the promotion of genetically modified foods should be strongly resisted. Coalition of anti-golden rice groups from several countries, Feb, 2001 Non-cross pollinating corn:  Non-cross pollinating corn Developed by UW-Madison Agronomist Jerry Kermicle Derived from non-cross-pollinating teosinte (corn ancestor) plants in Mexico Can be bred into corn using traditional breeding methods. Non-cross pollinating corn:  Non-cross pollinating corn Promoted as a way to solve pollen drift problems. Could be bred into “non-GMO” varieties to protect them from “GMO” pollen. Opponents ask “Is it right for non-GMO and organic producers to be asked to pay to protect themselves from GMOs?” Contamination of nontransgenic crops:  Contamination of nontransgenic crops Questions to ask: Contamination of seed has long been a problem in production of corn, other field-pollinated crops. Why is this different? Is the problem caused by the pollen, or by the definition of GMO genes as contaminants? Does a “no-tolerance” rule make sense? How similar are today’s crops to what your grandfather planted? Could “neighbor notification” of planting intentions ease problems? Animals:  Animals No genetically engineered animals in general production of food. (some in labs) Many species have been cloned; cows, sheep, mice, etc. No routine cloning of production animals --yet What’s the controversy?:  What’s the controversy? Gary Comstock, a University of Iowa ethicist, divides the objections to biotechnology into two categories Greenpeace simply says biotechnology is not proven safe. Other groups claim biotech crops are dangerous without bothering to provide proof. Iowa State’s Gary Comstock observes two kinds of objections to GMOs::  Iowa State’s Gary Comstock observes two kinds of objections to GMOs: Extrinsic GMOs are too risky. Harms outweigh benefits. Intrinsic GMOs are unnatural. It is inherently wrong to make GMOs, even if benefits outweigh harms. Risk Assessment - Basic Concepts:  Risk Assessment - Basic Concepts GMOs are self replicating No quantitative risk assessment possible Traditional methods not applicable Risk = Likelihood x Hazard Ethical Objections to Genetically Modified Foods:  Ethical Objections to Genetically Modified Foods Gary Comstock To make ethicial headway, we should know what we are comparing to what:  To make ethicial headway, we should know what we are comparing to what Unless one is calling for mass starvation, one must look for improved productivity Unless one is calling for crop failures due to pests and weeds, or increased use of chemicals, one must be in favor of better pest control Slide33:  (Gary Comstock slide) Top row = GM pototoes with coat protein gene Bottom row = non GM potatoes Both rows exposed to common potato virus. Agriculture itself is ‘unnatural’:  Agriculture itself is ‘unnatural’ Many things which are “natural” are harmful to man Snake, spider toxins Some bacteria, viruses Plant and mycotoxins In tearing up the land for agriculture, we’re doing something “unnatural,” as Comstock points out: Intrinsic objection::  Intrinsic objection: Do not change the world (CW) Counter-intuitive result: We should have remained hunter-gatherers. (Comstock slide) Biotechnology should address legitimate concerns:  Biotechnology should address legitimate concerns Monarch butterflies Presence of engineered genes in native races of corn in Mexico Food allergenicity (Star-Link) Development of resistant pests or super-weeds. Starlink --regulation that worked?:  Starlink --regulation that worked? Crop, with an insect-resistance protein, was approved for animal feed only, but got into the human food supply. Thousands of tons of food were pulled from the shelves Crop was voluntarily withdrawn and now cannot be planted at all. Slide40:  In July, 2001, an EPA press release stated that “an independent Scientific Advisory Panel reaffirmed key conclusions from their previous report on StarLink, including that there is a ‘medium likelihood’ that StarLink protein is a potential human allergen, and that there is sufficient evidence that there is a "low probability of allergenicity" in the exposed population based on levels of StarLink in the U.S. diet. The Panel also stated that, since there is inadequate information to establish a reasonable scientific certainty that exposure would not be harmful to public health, they could not recommend establishing a specific tolerance level for StarLink. Therefore, based on the panel's recommendations and the available scientific assessment on dietary exposure and allergenicity, establishing a tolerance (legal residue limit) for StarLink in human food products is not currently supported. Allergens: Brazil Nut Soybean:  Allergens: Brazil Nut Soybean In April 1993, Pioneer discontinued its research program aimed at enhancing the nutritional content of soybeans through introduction of a gene from the Brazil nut. The goal was higher levels of methionine, for feeding poultry. The program was dropped because a Pioneer-funded study at the University of Nebraska suggested people with allergies to Brazil Nut would be allergic to the soybeans. Allergens: Brazil Nut Soybean:  Allergens: Brazil Nut Soybean Results of the full study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March 1996. Pioneer destroyed all plant material and seeds not held for laboratory study. No seed or material was ever intended for, or entered, the human food supply. No soybeans with the Brazil nut protein are currently, or have ever been, in animal or human food streams. Allergens: Brazil Nut Soybeans:  Allergens: Brazil Nut Soybeans Questions to ask: Was Pioneer responsible? Can corporate-sponsored research be relied upon to provide negative info about biotech crops? Will other crop research projects be found to have risks to humans? If so, will the system stop them from reaching the market? Allergens: Questions to ask::  Allergens: Questions to ask: Should allergic response of a tiny population make a beneficial protein unavailable? Peanuts and peanut products are still sold even though a fairly large group of people have severe peanut allergies…labeling is presumed to provide protection. Aspertame, the sweetener in NutraSweet®, is still used, even though people with phenylketonuria, a severe metabolic disorder, cannot tolerate it . Economic Concentration in Agriculture:  Economic Concentration in Agriculture Has been going on for centuries Each new technology, genetic or not, contributes to trend Actual slope of the decrease in number of farms has leveled out in the 90’s. US has never restricted the use of technology for social policy reasons Economic Concentration in Agriculture:  Economic Concentration in Agriculture Economic Concentration in Agribusiness, questions::  Economic Concentration in Agribusiness, questions: How about the shift of profits from farmer to supplier (corporation)? Farmers won’t use new technology if they don’t see a benefit to themselves. Biotech seed does cost more; If companies don’t see potential profit in new products, they won’t invest in development The very scrutiny all parties demand of biotech adds to the cost of development Economic Concentration in Agribusiness, questions::  Economic Concentration in Agribusiness, questions: Is there something inherently wrong with a corporation making a profit supplying inputs to agriculture? If there is, what about John Deere? New Holland? The corporation that built your pickup truck? If profits are excessive, won’t competitors come along and knock prices down? Resistant weeds and insects:  Resistant weeds and insects There are weeds resistant to some herbicides There are bacteria resistant to antibiotics There are insects resistant to insecticides Some insects resist Bt preparations applied in the field Why won’t resistance to biotech genes develop? Resistant Weeds and Insects:  Resistant Weeds and Insects More efforts (‘refuges’ and other practices) underway to prevent resistance from developing, unlike with chemical approaches In-plant pesticides inherently will cause less resistance, since pest populations which do not attack the plant are not under selective pressure from the pesticide Resistant Weeds and Insects -- the concept of ‘gene flow’:  Resistant Weeds and Insects -- the concept of ‘gene flow’ The gene for roundup resistance could get into a weed genome if: A weedy relative of the crop plant (with which it could naturally cross) is present in the same area This is true of wild mustards related to Canola This is NOT true of corn or soybeans Resistance, continued:  Resistance, continued In short, the story of pest organisms developing resistance is part of natural history and selection and it will continue to happen. No dramatic problems have ever occurred as a result of plant breeding, nor yet as a result of gene transfer technology With previous technologies such as herbicides, the possibility of resistant pests was never used as a reason to avoid the technology altogether. Slide set developed in part through SEE Biotechnology:  Slide set developed in part through SEE Biotechnology Consortium to address the social, economic and ethical implications of agricultural Biotechnology

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