babble home - news for the rest of us
today's active topics

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
FAQ | Forum Home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» babble   » right brain babble   » humanities & science   » Biotech and the developing world

Email this thread to someone!    
Author Topic: Biotech and the developing world
Terry Johnson
Babbler # 1006

posted 27 September 2002 10:21 PM      Profile for Terry Johnson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A survey of top scientists conducted by two U of Toronto scientists and published in Nature Genetics, says the developing world could be the biggest benefiiciary of biotechnology--but that the bulk of current research in the area is directed at the developed world.

You can find a Reuters article on the report is here.

Personally, I think the left needs to shift its criticism of the biotech industry--and ag biotrech in particular--from the safety of the technology itself, to the broader, more critical issues regarding who benefits from the technology and the barriers to its broader application in the developing world.

From: Vancouver | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 1292

posted 27 September 2002 11:06 PM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The biggest problem facing bio-tech is that it is not organized by scientists for the benefit of humankind but is organized by corporations for the benefit of bottom lines.

Let's look at GM foods for a moment. The scientists in this report say foods can be genetically modified for better nutrition. Personally, I would be willing to trust a scientist, who is independent of corporate influence, who tells me a treatment is safe for both the environment and the consumer. I would also be willing to accept this product being distributed to eliminate hunger and malnutrition.

Now, the way bio-tech is really used is companies, like Monsanto, produces a GM food that is modified not to improve nutritional values but to witstnad heavy doses of a specific chemical. A chemical potentially harmful to both the environment and consumers. They patent their seeds and sue farmers should the seeds, which can't be controlled, end up in the fields of unsuspecting farmers but claim no liability when the same seeds become weeds.

The problem is not with the left, Terry. The problem is with the corporate friendly right and why they continue to champion corporate rights over human rights.

From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Terry Johnson
Babbler # 1006

posted 28 September 2002 09:31 PM      Profile for Terry Johnson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Agriculture is probably a good example of the process at work.

You're right that most GM crops have been modified for pesticide resistance. But there is nothing wrong with that per se. They actually reduce pesticide use, by allowing farmers to spray a broad spectrum herbicide selectively, after their crop has emerged, rather than at seeding. And they've made it easier for farmers to shift to soil conservation farming techniques like zero-till, which reduce soil erosion and fossil fuel use. In Canada, the number of farmers using zero- or minimal-till techniques on the prairies has tripled since the introduction of Roundup-ready canola, for example.

That's where I think the left has gone astray. By concentrating its attacks on the technology itself, and promoting unjustified fears about the safety and environmental effects of GM crops, it has missed the real target: corporate control of the technology.

Take the Percy Schmeiser case you allude to. Schmeiser didn't end up with a few Roundup Ready plants in his fields. The courts found that he had deliberately propagated and sown an entire crop of Roundup Ready canola. Why? Because it was better than the non-GM seed varieties he could have planted. But Schmeiser, instead of playing dumb, could have made an important argument: Monsanto requires farmers who buy Roundup Ready seed to use Roundup, and not generic glyphosate, as part of their licensing agreement, which is clearly counter-competitive.

Even more importantly, the attacks on GM technology have muddied the international debate about intellectual property rights. Companies like Monsanto have won patent protection for many of the most valuable genetic sequences. Which is incredible in itself. But they are only interested in using them in those crops common in North America, where farmers have the money to buy the seed. So in Africa, for example, where more than half the annual crop is lost to insect pests and weeds, public researchers have been prevented from using GM technology to produce Roundup-ready cassava, say.

The combination of broader patent protection and the steep decline in public spending on agriculture research has gone, I think, largely unnoticed. So far the GM debate has focused on safety, instead. The real debate--and the key political question--is whether GM crops will be developed by public institutions or by private companies.

From: Vancouver | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged

All times are Pacific Time  

Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | | Policy Statement

Copyright 2001-2008