Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Russian super-myth resprouts-

From AgBioView : October 27, 2005

Genetically-modified Soy Affects Posterity?
- Christopher Preston

The following story is starting to do the rounds of the anti-GM websites. The original report was published in a Russian online newspaper in mid-October, but is only now starting to do the rounds. The story can be found at a variety of places including
and on the NAGS website

On the surface, this study appears to indicate a major danger with GM soy fed to rats. There was 6-fold increase in the number of deaths and the surviving progeny were significantly smaller. The study in question was conducted by Dr. Irina Ermakova of the Institute of
Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the results released at a conference organised byNational Association for Genetic Security. Dr. Ermakova is a researcher on brain function whose speciality is in the function neurotransplants into the brain, and who has published in both Russian and English journals.

From the report, it is hard to get a good sense of how the experiments were done. There is simply not enough information given in the report. The report states that the experiment consisted of 3 groups of 3 rats, but results are reported for 15 rats. The report also indicates that the three groups of rats were condensed to 2 groups after birth. It is not clear from the report why or how this was done. We are not told crucial points such as were there true
replicates or only pseudo-replication? Why did a third of the rats in each of the control and GM soy groups not give birth? What was the source of GM and non-GM soy and how much was included in the diet?
In the absence of answers to these questions, it is difficult to analyse the data further. One question that does come to mind is why the deaths are reported as total numbers instead of as means with an idea of the variance.

This report is a stark contrast with a previously published study by Brake and Evenson on mice (A generational study of glyphosate-tolerant soybeans on mouse fetal, postnatal, pubertal and
adult testicular development. Food and Chemical Toxicology 2004 42:29-36.) This study looked at a generational study of mice fed a diet containing GM soy or non-GM soy. They reported identical litter sizes for the two groups (7.3 per female in nine replicates for both groups) and nearly identical growth rates for the mice fed transgenic feed and for their progeny, compared to mice fed non-transgenic feed. The differences, where they occurred, favoured the mice fed
transgenic feed.

There are a number of other questions about the Russian research that come to mind. Firstly: What is a neurological scientist doing conducting feeding studies on GM food? This is always a question that arises when someone conducts research outside his or her speciality.
In this case, it is quite easy to determine the motivation. A visit to Dr. Ermakova's website (the English version as I can't read Russian, provides the clues. Under the section "Publications" is a list of popular articles by Dr. Ermakova. They include an open letter to the Russian President called "Stop transgenization of the country", and "Russian roulette.

Delayed-action mine, or why generically modified organisms are so dangerous". Under the section "Ecology and Life" is a list of "new articles" described as "Important information". These include links to anti-GM articles by Mae-Wan Ho and Beatrix Tappeser from 1997,
Arpad Pusztai from 2001, the "World Scientist's Statement" from ISIS, and from bio-integrity. Clearly Dr. Ermakova has concerns about the use of GMOs, but I suggest is quite selective in the views she promulgates.

Secondly: Why report the results at a conference organised by an anti-GM NGO? This is an important question as it is a good way of ensuring that mainstream scientists will take the research less seriously. The NGO involved is called 'The National Association of Genetic Safety (NAGS)'. According to their website (the English version again: ), their mission is described as "NAGS considers its top priority to protect the interests of citizens of the Russian Federation as an integral part of the international community and to facilitate the creation of a system of biological safety of humankind and the surrounding environment." Their goals are described as "participating in the development of legislation that would cover the entire complex of biological safety issues, facilitating the development of the National Genetic Safety Concept, taking part in international projects on the issues of biological and genetic safety, spreading the ideas of protection of genetic resources of the Earth, promoting
educational initiatives in the sphere of biological safety, creating the system of public control over the market of food and food industry raw materials, and cooperating with the media, government bodies, political parties and public organizations in Russia andworldwide." However, all of their public statements that have turned up in the Western media (and internet) are on GM foods. For example, NAGS organised a letter to the Russian President in October 2004 warning of the dangers of GM foods. In the press material, GM foods were described as "dangerous in their unpredictability" and as "biogenic terrorism". In March 2005, NAGS released the findings of a study of a Moscow meat market, claiming that 50% of vendors used GM feed. While this might be true, there is significant scientific evidence that GM feedstuffs are not dangerous (see the list of 42 peer reviewed studies I collated last year at
). The claim is disingenuous and made simply to frighten people about their food.

In June 2004, NAGS released claims about the use of GM products in baby food. Their claims as reported in the Western Press where that 70% of samples contained GM materials and some mixes were 100% genetically modified. Even allowing for the problems of translation from Russian to English, this is an unequivocal statement and certainly not true. This would leave no room for any other ingredients including water. Even worse, NAGS claimed that some of
the dairy and vegetable mixes were entirely made of GMO. This claim made when no GM vegetables were commercially available, unless one counts soybeans as a vegetable. The President of NAGS, Alexander Baranov, had claimed in 2003 that 70% of people in the US were
allergic to GMOs, a claim that hardly stands any scrutiny. With this record behind them, it is difficult to give NAGS much credibility.

This brings me back to the question I asked: Why would you report results of feeding studies at a conference organised by an anti-GM NGO? Surely, if the results were that striking they would be presented to health authorities rather than to a group of anti-GM activists? These were similar questions to those I, and others, asked when Terje Traavik reported his results on Bt corn at a Third World Network sponsored conference. Indeed, this whole exercise reminds me
a lot of that episode. Now 18 months down the track from Traavik's preliminary announcement in Kuala Lumpur, we have seen no more on the issue.

The answer to my question lies in how science is being used in these episodes. It is clear in both cases that the data available would not stand regulatory scrutiny. This is why it has not been delivered through normal channels. Presenting results such as these at an anti-GM conference containing true believers is a good way of ensuring affirmation of the research. The audience will believe it because they want to believe it, whereas a more sceptical audience might ask some difficult questions about the research. Even more importantly, it ensures the ability to apply political pressure with scientific research that would not stand the rigors of normal peer

GMO Pundit comments:
For a full list of safety concerns about GMO foods go here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Docket: T-1593-98
Neutral Citation: 2001 FCT 256 [Federal Court Trial, Canada]
[Note: The numbers at the beginning of each paragraph are the paragraph numbers within
the opinion.]
[2] On consideration of the evidence adduced, and the submissions, oral and written, on behalf of
the parties I conclude that the plaintiffs’ action is allowed and some of the remedies they seek
should be granted. These reasons set out the bases for my conclusions, in particular my finding
that, on the balance of probabilities, the defendants infringed a number of the claims under the
plaintiffs’ Canadian patent number 1,313,830 by planting, in 1998, without leave or licence by
the plaintiffs, canola fields with seed saved from the 1997 crop which seed was known, or ought
to have been known by the defendants to be Roundup tolerant and when tested was found to
contain the gene and cells claimed under the plaintiffs’ patent. By selling the seed harvested in
1998 the defendants further infringed the plaintiffs’ patent.
[38] As we have noted Mr. Schmeiser testified that in 1997 he planted his canola crop with seed
saved from 1996 which he believed came mainly from field number 1. Roundup resistant canola
was first noticed in his crop in 1997, when Mr. Schmeiser and his hired hand, Carlysle Moritz,
hand-sprayed Roundup around the power poles and in ditches along the road bordering fields 1,
2, 3 and 4. These fields are adjacent to one another and are located along the east side of the main paved grid road that leads south to Bruno from these fields. This spraying was part of the regular farming practices of the defendants, to kill weeds and volunteer plants around power poles and in ditches. Several days after the spraying, Mr. Schmeiser noticed that a large portion of the plants earlier sprayed by hand had survived the spraying with the Roundup herbicide.
[39] In an attempt to determine why the plants had survived the herbicide spraying, Mr. Schmeiser conducted a test in field 2. Using his sprayer, he sprayed, with Roundup herbicide, a
section of that field in a strip along the road. He made two passes with his sprayer set to spray 40 feet, the first weaving between and around the power poles, and the second beyond but adjacent to the first pass in the field, and parallel to the power poles. This was said by him to be some three to four acres in all, or “a good three acres”. After some days, approximately 60% of the plants earlier sprayed had persisted and continued to grow. Mr. Schmeiser testified that these plants grew in clumps which were thickest near the road and began to thin as one moved farther into the field.
[40] Despite this result Mr. Schmeiser continued to work field 2, and, at harvest, Carlysle Moritz, on instruction from Mr. Schmeiser, swathed and combined field 2. He included swaths from the surviving canola seed along the roadside in the first load of seed in the combine which he emptied into an old Ford truck located in the field. That truck was covered with a tarp and later it was towed to one of Mr. Schmeiser’s outbuildings at Bruno. In the spring of 1998 the seed from the old Ford truck was taken by Mr. Schmeiser in another truck to the Humboldt Flour Mill (“HFM”) for treatment. After that, Mr. Schmeiser’s testimony is that the treated seed was mixed with some bin-run seed and fertilizer and then used for planting his 1998 canola crop.
[102] The evidence of Mr. Schmeiser is that seed for his 1998 crop was saved from seed
harvested in 1997 in field number 2 by his hired man Mr. Moritz. That seed was placed by Mr.
Moritz in the old Ford truck, then located in field number 2, directly from the combine after it
was harvested from the area of that field previously sprayed with Roundup by Mr. Schmeiser.
That “testing” by him resulted, by his estimate, supported by Mr. Moritz, of about 60% of the
sprayed canola plants surviving in the “good three acres” that he sprayed. The surviving plants
were Roundup resistant and their seed constituted the source of seed stored in the old Ford truck.
[106] The 1997 samples, taken by Mr. Derbyshire from road allowances bordering fields number 2 and 5, were used for two grow-out tests, in 1997 at the University of Saskatchewan for Mr. Mitchell, and in 2000 at the university for Dr. Downey. In both tests, with the exception of one of six samples, of the seeds that germinated 100% of the plants survived spraying with Roundup herbicide, i.e., they were Roundup tolerant.
[107] The HFM samples of untreated and treated seed withheld from Mr. Schmeiser were
1) to Mr. Mitchell for Monsanto in 1998 and by him
a) were subject to a “quick test” which indicated to him that both samples tested
were positive for the presence of the patented gene;
b) were subject to a grow-out test by Prairie Plant Systems in January, 1999 with
germinating seed sprayed with Roundup and 30 samples of leaf tissue from surviving plants,
tested by Monsanto US, proved positive for the presence of the patented gene in the DNA of the
leaf tissue; and c) a subsample was sent to counsel for Schmeiser in April 1999 and by him to Mr. Freisen at Winnipeg for a grow-out test, in which 95 to 98% of germinating plants survived
spraying with Roundup; 2) to Mr. Schmeiser in July 1999 which he a) used in part for a grow-out test in his yard, results of which showed 63 to 65% germinating plants survived spraying with Roundup; and b) forwarded to University of Manitoba for testing by Mr. Freisen who recorded results generally similar to those of Mr. Schmeiser; 3) to Mr. Freisen directly from Saskatchewan Wheat Pool in April 2000 for grow-out test from which a very high portion, 95-98%, of germinating seed survived spraying with Roundup.
[116] In the course of their defence, it was urged by defendants that the source of contamination by Roundup resistant canola of their 1996 crop, from which seed was saved for 1997, was uncertain. Indeed so was the source of contamination in the 1997 crop.
[117] A variety of possible sources were suggested, including cross field breeding by wind or
insects, seed blown from passing trucks, or dropping from farm equipment, or swaths blown
from neighbours’ fields. All of these sources, it is urged, could be potential contributors to crossbreeding of Schmeiser’s own canola or to deposit of seeds on his land without his consent. Mr. Borstmayer, who farmed on the same grid road but further north from Bruno than Mr.
Schmeiser’s fields numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4, testified that in the winter of 1996-97 a bag of
Roundup Ready canola seed had fallen from his truck in Bruno and broken open, and some seed
was lost before he put the broken bag back on his truck to be hauled past Schmeiser’s fields to
his own. Further, after harvesting his 1997 crop he trucked it to the elevator on the grid road to
Bruno, past Schmeiser’s fields, with at least two loads in an old truck with a loose tarp. He
believes that on those journeys he lost some seed.
[118] It may be that some Roundup Ready seed was carried to Mr. Schmeiser’s field without his
knowledge. Some such seed might have survived the winter to germinate in the spring of 1998.
However, I am persuaded by evidence of Dr. Keith Downey, an expert witness appearing for the
plaintiffs, that none of the suggested sources could reasonably explain the concentration or extent
of Roundup Ready canola of a commercial quality evident from the results of tests on
Schmeiser’s crop. His view was supported in part by evidence of Dr. Barry Hertz, a mechanical
engineer, whose evidence scientifically demonstrated the limited distance that canola seed blown from trucks in the road way could be expected to spread. I am persuaded on the basis of Dr. Downey’s evidence that on a balance of probabilities none of the suggested possible sources of contamination of Schmeiser’s crop was the basis for the substantial level of Roundup Ready
canola growing in field number 2 in 1997.
[Note: The factual findings of the Federal Trial Court, Canada, set forth above in the excerpted
paragraphs, were upheld at the Federal Court Appeal, Canada and at the Supreme Court of
Canada. These factual findings are the facts of the case.]

The two opinions from the higher courts of Canada are as follows:
Federal Court Reports
Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser (C.A.) [2003] 2 F.C. 165
Date: 2002/09/04
Docket: A-367-01
Neutral citation: 2002 FCA 309 [Federal Court Appeal, Canada]
Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser
Neutral citation: 2004 SCC 34. [Supreme Court Canada]
File No.: 29437.
2004: May 21 [Date the opinion issued.]
The Supreme Court of Canada reversed the Federal Trial Court and the Federal Appeal
Court on the issue of remedies (damages). As a result, although Mr. Schmeiser was legally
found to have infringed the patent, Mr. Schmeiser was not ordered to pay damages to Monsanto
Canada, Inc.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Rats fed bad diets have lots of changes in their gut

DATA TABLE FROM THE LANCET • Vol 354 • October 16, 1999
GMO Pundit explanation of data: Rats were fed three different diets, plain potato, potato plus GNA, and GM potato making its own GNA. GNA is a plant protein from snowdrops that is expected to interact with the gut. Data showing differences in gut thickness are coloured yellow. There are many differences, not just due to GM pototoes containing GNA lectin (right col.) but also non GM GNA mixed with potato (middle col.). In fact changes in gut thickness are rather randomly distributed over all the different treatments

Comment by Harry A Kuiper, Hub P J M Noteborn, and A C M Peijnenburg, Wageningen University and Research Centre,Netherlands.
Stanley Ewen and Arpad Pusztai report that, when fed to rats, GM potatoes containing the GNA lectin have proliferative and antiproliferative effects on the gut. They suggest that several of these effects are due to alterationsin the composition of the transgenic potatoes, rather than to the newly expressed gene product. However data on the composition of the different diets are not reported in the letter. Pusztai has released some of these details on the internet ( ). These details indicate that the content of starch, glucose polymers, lectin[GNA], and trypsin and chymotrypsininhibitors in GM potatoes differed from that of the parental line.
Unfortunately, these differences have notbeen examined further by analysis of anextended range of lines, for evidence on whether these differences are attributable to the genetic modification or to natural variations.

Another shortcoming of the study is that the diets were protein deficient; they contained only 6% protein by weight. There is convincing evidence that short-term protein stress and starvation impair the growth rate, development, hepatic metabolism, and immune function of rats. Ewen and Pusztai say that the significant differences between diet groups invariables such as mucosalthickness or crypt length are evidence of the biological effects of the GM foods.

Such a claim is easy to make but difficult to prove, because no consistent patterns of changes were observed in the study.

Ingestion of potatoes may be associated with several adaptive changes in the gut because of the low digestibility of raw or partly refined potato starch. In rats caecal hypertrophy is a common response to short-term feeding of various poorly digestible carbohydrates, such as raw potatostarch. A physiological response of this nature is probably of little toxicological significance. Dose -response studies would
have helped in the assessment of consistency of response.

Effect of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine
Stanley W B Ewen, Arpad Pusztai, p1353
See Commentaries pages 1314, 1315 of same Lancet issue

Editorial comment in this issue of the Lancet:
"Pusztai’s work has never been submitted for peer review,much less published, and so the usual evaluation of confusing claim and counter-claim effectivelycannot be made". This problem was underlined by our reviewers, one of whom, while arguing that the data were "flawed", also noted that, "I would like to see [this work] published in the public domain so that fellow scientists can judge for themselves . . . if the paper is not published, it will be claimed there is a conspiracy to suppress information". Publication of Ewen and Pusztai’s findings is not, as some newspapers have reported, a "vindication" ofPusztai’s earlier claims. On the contrary, publication of a paper after substantial review and revision provides a report that deserves further scientific attention. Such wider appraisal begins in this week’s Lancet with the commentary byHarry Kuiper and colleagues.

Update October 2006

Extended citations and criticisms of the Pusztai study (with special thanks to Klaus Amann)

GM food debate. Lancet, 354, 9191, pp 1726-1726
Lachmann, P. (1999)

Health risks of genetically modified foods
. Lancet, 354, 9172, pp 69-69
Lachmann, P. (1999)

Lancet. 1999 Oct 16;354(9187):1314-5.
Genetically modified foods: "absurd" concern or welcome dialogue?
Horton R., The Lancet, London, UK.

Health risks of genetically modified foods
Vol 353 May 29, 1999 p 1811
THE LANCET Volume 353, Number 9167

Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Foods
Nina V. Fedoroff and Nancy Marie Brown Joseph Henry Press, Washington, D.C.
The increased public awareness of food allergy has arisen from a combination of three factors: reasoned concern, fear through ignorance, and political motivation.
—Bob Buchanan (2001)

On August 10, 1998, Arpad Pusztai was interviewed on the British TV show “World in Action.” Pusztai studied lectins, sugar-binding proteins found in peas and beans, cereals and potatoes. In his 35 years at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, he had written three books on lectins and published 270 research papers. Because of his expertise, he had been asked to test the safety of a potato variety that had been genetically engineered to produce its own pesticide. That pesticide was a lectin from a flower, the snowdrop.
Pusztai fed the genetically modified potatoes to rats. His experiments, he told the television audience, showed that the GM potatoes damaged the rats’ immune systems and stunted their growth. He himself would not eat GM food, Pusztai said. He found it “very, very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs.”...

Assessment of the food safety issues related to genetically modified foods

Harry A. Kuiper*, Gijs A. Kleter, Hub P. J. M. Noteborn and Esther J. Kok
The Plant Journal Volume 27 Page 503 - September 2001
Volume 27 Issue 6

International consensus has been reached on the principles regarding evaluation of the food safety of genetically modified plants. The concept of substantial equivalence has been developed as part of a safety evaluation framework, based on the idea that existing foods can serve as a basis for comparing the properties of genetically modified foods with the appropriate counterpart. Application of the concept is not a safety assessment per se, but helps to identify similarities and differences between the existing food and the new product, which are then subject to further toxicological investigation. Substantial equivalence is a starting point in the safety evaluation, rather than an endpoint of the assessment. Consensus on practical application of the principle should be further elaborated. Experiences with the safety testing of newly inserted proteins and of whole genetically modified foods are reviewed, and limitations of current test methodologies are discussed. The development and validation of new profiling methods such as DNA microarray technology, proteomics, and metabolomics for the identification and characterization of unintended effects, which may occur as a result of the genetic modification, is recommended. The assessment of the allergenicity of newly inserted proteins and of marker genes is discussed. An issue that will gain importance in the near future is that of post-marketing surveillance of the foods derived from genetically modified crops. It is concluded, among others that, that application of the principle of substantial equivalence has proven adequate, and that no alternative adequate safety assessment strategies are available.
See also
The Full Monty on Animal Feeding Trials of GM Food and Similar Studies

Lancet. 2001 Jan 27;357(9252):309-10.

Press before paper - when media and science collide. C. N Stewart Jnr. Nature Biotechnology Vol 21 p353 (2003)

European national laws for coexistence of crops – implications for Australia

Roger Kalla, Director Korn Technologies

1 Preamble:

EU lifted is ‘de facto’ moratorium on the authorisation of genetically modified (GM) crops for importation and cultivation in 2004 at the same time as Australian State Governments introduced moratoria on the cultivation and marketing of genetically modified (GM) canola. In the following I have compared different European national regulatory regimes aiming at achieving crop coexistence. They follow on from the adopted EU wide labelling standard for GM crops and foods. The alternative legislatory approaches taken by individual European member states to achieve coexistence, and the analysis of the underlying political aims of these enacted or drafted regulations, will serve to enlighten the Australian political debate on what important EU markets accept as thresholds for accidental presence of authorized GM crops in non-GM crops. Moreover they address the important issue of who should be held liable for any economic damage resulting from the accidental presence of authorized GM crops in conventionally grown crops.

2 Introduction

The EU is an opportunistic market for Australian canola. A number of individual EU member states prefer to import produce free of GM traits or in the years EU doesn’t produce enough canola for its internal market according to recent advice received from grain marketers and summarised in a Victorian State Government report 1.

To safeguard the coexistence and freedom of movement EU wide of authorised GM crops and the rights of farmers that choose to continue to produce non-GM crops several new regulations and directives and amendments to earlier Directives such as Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 on GM food and feed, Regulation (EC) No 1830/2003 concerning traceability and labelling of GM food and feed products derived from GMOs, and the amendment to Directive 2001/18/EC were adopted in 2003 and 2004. These regulations have implications for any country that wishes to export their produce into the EU2.

3 Different European coexistence models explained

3.1 GM regulation gain in Spain

Spain has been growing in the order of 25,000 -50,000 hectares of insect resistant GM maize annually since 1998 and the Spanish farmers has found a ready internal market for their GM produce within the animal feed industry3. It was only in July 2005 the Spanish government announced a new framework that aims to regulate the coexistence of genetically modified, conventional and organic crops. According to the proposed legislation the Spanish GM farmer needs to notify the local authorities one month in advance of planting what allowed variety he wishes to plant and what the introduced gene is in the culture of interest.

The farmer must adhere to specific rules for the preparation of the seed, the surveillance of fields, and the cultivation of the harvest in addition to any existing contractual obligations between the farmer and the GM seed provider. A crop exclusion zone of 50 meters has to be kept between the fields of GM crops and other crops. The anticipated period of flowering of the GM crops has to be declared in order to facilitate the prevention of accidental cross-pollination with conventional crops during flowering. In addition, a buffer area of four rows of conventional maize to act as a GM pollen trap, which is to be handled as GM, has to surround the GM field.

In addition the farmers must participate in education programs concerning GM crop cultivation. If a non-GM variety is deemed to be a source of GM seed at trace levels it could be cancelled from the national register of varieties that are traded and cultivated.

France is allowing 500 hectares of insect resistant GM maize to be grown this year for commercial use despite the resistance of the very vocal French anti-GM lobby enamoured with direct action as a method of choice in getting their message across 5.

3.2 The Danish Act on coexistence - based on science and applied to local crops

“Solutions on coexistence are in demand. But so is knowledge and science. In order to reach viable solutions we need to make facts and knowledge - not sentiment or affection - the basis for political decision making.”

Mariann Fischer-Boel, Danish Minister of Food, Agriculture & Fisheries, November 20036

Denmark was the first European country to enact new coexistence laws after the lifting of the moratorium. The Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Mariann Fischer-Boel, the present European Commissioner for Agriculture, successfully steered the new law on coexistence through the Danish Parliament in May 2004. The Danish coexistence laws have the dual aim to protect the non-GM farmers while allowing for continued development and breeding of Danish superior GM sugar beets and cultivation of two other crops7.

The Danish laws were based on a three years of intense and rigorous economic, legal and scientific study and evaluation of the preparedness of the Danish farmers and seed industry for an introduction of GM crops. This resulted in a comprehensive report to the Government including key recommendations 7.

3.2.1 The Danish Act – trusting the seed industry

An important conclusion from the studies performed was that the Danish seed industry was able to segregate different types of seeds of maize, potato, and sugar beet down to a tolerance level of 0.1 %. From this followed that the 0.9% threshold level of GM in the end product that reaches the consumer could be upheld through the use of simple and cost effective on farm measures such as appropriate separation distances based on the observed pollen spread of the GM crops under consideration.

3.2.2 The Danish Act – informed choice

The Danish GM farmer needs to notify neighbours of their intention to grow an authorised GM crop. This information is put on a public register. The GM farmer is also required to take an obligatory course for GM growers which will give them a ‘GMO licence’ required by law before any GM crop is cultivated. The cultivation of some GM crops (including rape seed, grasses and clover) where the seed industry could foresee technical problems in upholding the 0.1 % level of tolerance in segregation are temporarily blocked in Denmark.

3.2.3 The Danish Act – no fault compensation fund to protect non-GM farmers

Economic loss that occur as result of spread of GM crops to conventional and organic crops will be addressed through the establishment of a compensation fund based on a fee of 100 Danish krone ( AUD 21.5) per hectare to be imposed on GM growers. Compensation is only paid out in case of documented economic loss and under very specific conditions. Only the part of the non-GM crop grown in the centre of the paddock can be included in any claim. Areas of the paddock bordering other fields sown to other crops or roads are excluded. The testing for unintentional presence of GM crops can only be performed by the Danish Plant Directorate laboratory and is to be paid upfront by the claimant. The cost for the testing will be refunded if the testing reveals the presence of GM crop and it is above the threshold. The claim is time limited to one year after the harvest.

3.3 The German gene technology prevention law – caught in the act

“It is quite clear that our farmers desire agriculture free from GMOs.”

Renate Künast, German Federal Minister for Consumer protection, Food & Agriculture, May 2004.

The contentious German Act drafted under instruction from Renate Künast, the former Minister for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture, the present co-leader of the Green opposition party, was opposed by the Bundesrat (Upper House) when it was first debated in 2004 and was fiercely criticized by all major German research organizations which labeled it a ‘gene technology prevention law’8. The law was finally passed by the Bundestag (Lower House) in late 2004 bypassing legislatory scrutiny by the Upper House due to a technicality.

3.3.1 The German Act – in breach of the EU principle of proportionality

The German Act has been seen by some law experts to breach EC standards on proper authorization of marketing of GM crops and the free movement of authorized products.

In particular under Article 26a of Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms into the environment, Member States are entitled to take ‘appropriate measures’ to avoid the unintended presence of genetically modified organisms in other products.

However the same article specifically invokes the principle of proportionality, a fundamental principle of EU law. According to this principle, members of the EU may only act to exactly the extent that is needed to achieve its objectives, and no further. This principle applies to any nationally legislated restrictions of the free movement of goods (including GMOs). Any such restrictive regulation must avoid excessive interference with free use of authorized GMOs for its intended purpose.

Moreover EU legislation is very clear on the point that national prevention measures for avoidance, like the ones adopted in Germany for the protection of organic farmers, are only appropriate and proportional if they aim at a tolerance or threshold level that lies within the threshold established by the relevant EU regulation for labeling of GM products and crops. This level is set at 0.9% for authorized GM crops.

3.3.2The German Act - its asymmetric approach to coexistence

The aim of the German Act is to favour certain agricultural production and production methods over others by varying the threshold levels that apply for GM crops and linking this variable regime with strict civil liability provisions. Minister Künast made this clear while the bill was being debated. Not surprisingly, the German Act has been considered by one authoritative source as being “ inspired by a bias for certain forms of agricultural production” and “ imposing strict conditions on the cultivation of GM crops in order to give expression to underlying political aim of qualifying genetically modified crops as an undesirable use of authorized GM crops”9.

"I have no problem with liability, if you do something wrong, you should pay for it. But with this law, you have liability without blame. This is an absolutely impossible situation."

Mark Stitt, Managing Director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology 9

The political aim underpinning the drafting of the German Act is most clearly enunciated in the draconian civil liability provisions. For example, a German non-GM farmer that has signed a contract to deliver a product that contains less than 0.9% GM can according to the German Act hold neighboring GM farmers jointly liable for damages caused by accidental presence of authorized GM crop at trace levels down to 0.1% in his crop. Liability for accidental presence of authorized GM crops has thus been extended to voluntary assumed contractual obligations. The GM farmer is still held liable even if he followed all safety precautions and on farm segregation protocols to the best of his ability.

The contractual obligation of the non-GM farmer to grow a crop with lower tolerance than 0.9% does not have to be disclosed to neighboring farmers while the GM farmers will have to notify the authorities of his intentions to grow a GM crop. Moreover the location of the GM crops is required by law to be put on a publicly available register.

3.3.3 The German Act - introducing an incalculable and unpredictable liability regime

However the new provisions for liability for perceived loss due to presence of trace levels of authorized and safety evaluated GM crops are even more wide ranging. An organic farmer can hold neighboring GM farmers jointly liable for loss of “ethical” values as well as loss of future market opportunities or change in market perception.

Liabilities can thus arguably be attributed to anything that runs contrary to the subjective views on the perceived dangers with GM crops held by non-GM farmers and GM sensitive market segments.

These liabilities have been labeled “incalculable and unpredictable” by authoritative legal sources. Due to the inherent uncertainties of the practical application of such an ephemeral liability regime other jurisdictions, e.g. US and Canada, have deliberately stayed away from imposing GM crop liabilities except for physical harm causing significant economic damages, the same as for adventitious presence from any agricultural crop. The US and Canada do not allow pure economic loss claims with respect to GM crops10. Predictably, the German Act is being opposed by individual German States as well as other EU member states with a different view on how to achieve coexistence which balances the interests and rights of both GM and non-GM farmers.

4 Conclusion

The immediate result of the new EC directives and regulations and amendments to Directives on the labeling and cultivation of GM crops that came into place in 2003 – 2004 have been to end the ‘de facto’ moratoria on importation and authorization of new GM crops into one of Australia’s trading partners. It has done so through the enforcement of a 0.9% threshold level of adventitious or technically unavoidable presence of authorized GM crop. The EU specifically did so because in the production of food, feed and seed, it is practically impossible to achieve products that are 100% pure. The implementation of these directives has given European national governments some reference points for enacting their own legislation to ensure coexistence and freedom of movement of authorized products including GM crops or foods derived from GM crops across EU.

However in enacting their own legislation the individual EU member state has to take into account the principle of proportionality which prevents individual countries to overreach and put in place regulations that act counter to the freedom of movement of authorized goods in the whole of EU. Germany, on one hand, and Denmark on the other, have taken very different approaches to their coexistence legislation. While the previous German government arguably over stepped the mark, as articulated in the EU directives, driven by political motivation to favour one farming system over another, the Danish Government have taken in consideration both the interests of GM farmers and non-GM farmers and taken a evidence based approach to coexistence policy making. The new German coalition Government (minus the Green party influence) has made statements that it intends to repeal its’ coexistence legislation .


I thank Professor Drew Kershen, Oklahoma University for sharing his deep insights in comparative and international liability regimes with me.

Information sources quoted:








8) The coexistence of GM crops with other forms of farming. Herdegen, M. ( 2005) Journal of Int Biotechnology Law, Vol 02, pp 89-98.


10) Personal communication , Professor Drew Kershen, Oklahoma University , Law Faculty

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Do you know what hunger really is?

Notes on Hunger.

The Millennium Project of the United Nations and its Hunger Related Goals

The Millennium Project of the United Nations is a source of background information about the project and links to documents and related Web sites. The Millennium Declaration, adopted by 189 UN member nations on 18 September 2000, outlines the signatory countries' commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Millennium Project Web site summarizes the goals. The World Bank's Millennium Development Goals Web site, provides information about the goals and the partner organizations. The United Nations Development Agency provides a resource page on MDGs. The Development Gateway offers a special feature on the MDGs with a section on food access and availability.

The Earth Institute of Columbia University provides information about the Hunger Task Force of the Millennium Project. The Millennium Project Web site summarizes target two of MDG goal one and provides information on the Hunger Task Force and its members. The World Bank's Millennium Development Goals Web site provides information about the goal to end malnutrition and hunger. J. D. Sachs makes available in PDF format a February 2004 lecture titled "Meeting the Hunger Millennium Development Goal." The Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs makes available a November 2003 paper by T. W. Pogge titled "The first UN Millennium Development Goal." The presentations from the 5 July 2004 seminar titled "Innovative approaches to meeting the hunger MDG in Africa" are made available by the Millennium Project.

FORMAT OF LINKS is as follows:



The Hunger Links Collection:

Development Gateway

# food security.

HungerWeb Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University.

# collection of links

Bread for the World

# links to other anti-hunger and poverty organizations

BBC Broadcasting
# African hunger Crisis

Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 02:32 GMT
Africa's hunger - a systemic crisis
By Martin Plaut
BBC Africa analyst

The number of Africans needing food aid has doubled in a decade
More than half of Africa is now in need of urgent food assistance.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is warning that 27 sub-Saharan countries now need help.

But what appear as isolated disasters brought about by drought or conflict in countries like Somalia, Malawi, Niger, Kenya and Zimbabwe are - in reality - systemic problems.

It is African agriculture itself that is in crisis, and according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, this has left 200 million people malnourished.

It is particularly striking that the FAO highlights political problems such as civil strife, refugee movements and returnees in 15 of the 27 countries it declares in need of urgent assistance. By comparison drought is only cited in 12 out of 27 countries.

The implication is clear - Africa's years of wars, coups and civil strife are responsible for more hunger than the natural problems that befall it.

...Continues provides

# links to information and action on world hunger and poverty.

Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance (FANTA) Project

# Internet resources related to nutrition and food security.

Eldis Gateway to Development Information provides a

# food security resource guide.

The very respected International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) provides policy solutions that cut hunger and malnutrition.

# collection of publications related to its

# 2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment and a collection of #discussion papers on food consumption and nutrition and

# essay titled "Agriculture, food security, nutrition and the Millennium Development Goals."

Hunger Project is a strategic organization and global movement committed to the sustainable end of world hunger.

Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger is an international classroom for exploring the problems of hunger, malnutrition, and food insecurity.

M. M. Cody, Department of Nutrition, Georgia State University, offers resources for a

# course on world hunger.

Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Wisconsin, makes available

# lecture notes and other resources for a

# course on world hunger and malnutrition.


# Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future is a multimedia teacher

education program

# presentation on understanding world.

Viewpoint titled "Global food security: Challenges and policies" in12 December 2003 issue of Science

# collection of related Web resources.

Task Force on Hunger of the United Nation's Millennium Project of UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)

# Halving Hunger: It Can Be Done (full report in PDF format)

# State of Food Insecurity in the World 2004

Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture makes

# 2003 report titled "Food security assessment" and a

# 2003 report titled "Linking land quality, agricultural productivity, and food security."

UN Chronicle had an

# article by G. McGovern titled "The real cost of hunger" and

# other articles on world hunger.

Heifer International's November-December 2004 issue of World Ark

# article titled "We can end hunger now" and

# other articles related to world hunger.

J. D. Sachs, Earth Institute, Columbia University

# 2004 article from Brookings Papers on Economic Activity by J. D. Sachs et al. titled "Ending Africa' s poverty trap" (5).

IDPAS Iron Deficiency Project Advisory Sevice Webpage

......# 2003 Global Report

2002 World Food Summit, by FAO

# Documents and other resources from

GMO Pundit Hunger Related Links (Partial Listing)

......# More nutrition per drop
......# New Global Biosociety
......# End of Poverty Part I. The Positives
......# End of Poverty Part II. Reversal of fortune.
......# Blogging World Hunger.
......# European attitudes blocking Progress.
......# Plenty of Food, Not in Africa
......# Children in the developing world

......# Blogging World hunger

......# Eliminate What?

......# Eradicating Poverty Through profits

......# Technology reduces poverty.

......# Tackle Corruption

GMO Pundit African Links



The May 2003 issue of the UN's Africa Recovery

# special feature "Africa beyond famine" that included an

# article titled "New strategies needed to combat hunger, disease and rural poverty."

Cutting World Hunger in Half

Cutting World Hunger in Half

Science 21 January 2005: Vol. 307. no. 5708, pp. 357 - 35

Pedro A. Sanchez and M. S. Swaminathan*


There are 854 million people in the world (about 14% of our population) who are chronically or acutely malnourished. [HN4] Most are in Asia, but sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where hunger prevalence is over 30%, and the absolute numbers of malnourished people are increasing (3). More than 90% are chronically malnourished [HN5] (4), with a constant or recurrent lack of access to sufficient quality and quantity of food, good health care, and adequate maternal caring practices. Acute hunger [HN6] (the wasting and starvation resulting from famines, war, and natural disaster) represents 10% of the hungry yet receives most of the media coverage and attention. In addition, hidden hunger from micronutrient deficiencies [HN7] affects more than 2 billion people worldwide. Chronic and hidden hunger deserve much more global attention and support.

Roughly 50% of the hungry are in smallholder farming households; 20% are the landless rural; 10% are pastoralists, fishers, and forest dwellers; and 20% are the urban hungry [HN8]. The Task Force has identified hunger hot spots, defined as the subnational units where the prevalence of underweight children (4) less than 5 years of age is at least 20%. The 313 hunger hot spots identified (see the figure below) indicate priority regions, as they cover 79% of the hungry.

Some recommendations

Agricultural research has been a major driver of hunger reduction. The Task Force recommends doubling investments in national research to at least 2% of agricultural GDP by 2010. It also recommends that donors increase funding to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research to US$1 billion by 2010.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research is an alliance of countries, international and regional organizations, and private foundations supporting 15 international agricultural centers that has as its mission to contribute to sustainable improvements in the productivity of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries in developing countries in ways that enhance nutrition and well-being, especially for low-income people. IFPRI makes available an October 2003 discussion paper by R. Meinzen-Dick, M. Adato, L. Haddad, and P. Hazell titled "Impacts of agricultural research on poverty: Findings of an integrated economic and social analysis." The World Bank's Agriculture and Rural Development Department provides a resource page on agricultural research.

Increase agricultural productivity of food-insecure farmers. Small-scale farming families represent about half the hungry worldwide and probably three-quarters of the hungry in Africa. Raising the productivity of their crops, livestock, fish, and trees is a major priority. [HN15]

Restoring soil health and other measures to increase agricultural productivity. ITDG (Intermediate Technology Development Group) offers a presentation on food production. The 5 July 2004 seminar titled "Innovative approaches to meeting the hunger MDG in Africa" includes a presentation by P. Sanchez titled "Innovative investments in healthy soils and better land management." The FAO's State of Food Insecurity in the World 2002 includes a section on rehabilitating degraded lands. The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology makes available in PDF format a 2004 issue brief titled "Feeding the world: A look at biotechnology and world hunger." The FAO's Land and Water Development Division provides resources related to meeting present and future food and agriculture demands on a sustainable basis; the FAO gateway to land and water information offers country profiles. The 15 March 2002 issue of Science had a Policy Forum by P. A. Sanchez titled "Soil fertility and hunger in Africa" (9). The 21 February 2003 issue had a Policy Forum by G. Conway and G. Toenniessen titled "Science for African food security."

Improve nutrition for chronically hungry and vulnerable groups. Adequate nutrition lies at the heart of the fight against hunger.SNIPThe Task Force recommends that, where possible, locally produced foods be used, rather than imported food aid.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

What's Really Really Happening with GE Crops in the USA?

Also Posted to Agbioview

- Christopher Preston , Senior Lecturer, Weed Management University of Adelaide, Australia

"GE crops a flop in the USA." The GeneEthics Network makes this bold statement as part of their recent publicity for the upcoming visit of Dr. Charles Benbrook to Australia. Dr. Benbrook is apparently to tell us "what's really happening with GE crops in North America, and why we should say 'no' to them here". I don't know quite what Dr. Benbrook will tell us about how GE crops have flopped. I do know the claim that GE crops have stalled, flopped or are otherwise being given up by farmers in the US and elsewhere is not infrequently made in letters to the editor, press releases and other statements in the Australia media. However, whenever I look at the situation, I can find little support for the claims made.

We can look at how farmers perceive GM crops by looking at the levels of adoption. If after 10 years GM crops were a flop, farmers should have already decided to stop growing them. A quick look at the area of crops grown demonstrates this is not the case. The statistics on the area sown to GM crops are easy to obtain for soybean, cotton and corn (or maize). They are available from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (

In 2002 75% of all soybean acreage in the US was sown to GM soybeans. In 2004, that had risen to 85% of soybean acreage and to 87% in 2005. This year, 63.8 million acres of GM soybeans were grown. In 2002, 34% of the corn acreage in the US was sown to GM corn. By 2004, this had climbed to 47% and to 52% in 2005. That means 42.4 million acres of GM corn were grown. In 2002, 71% of the area of upland cotton was GM. This had also increased to 76% of the cotton area by 2004 and 79% in 2005. This year, 10.9 million acres of GM cotton were grown.

Data are not as readily available for the area of other GM crops grown in the US, papaya, canola and alfalfa. The primary source for information on the area of GM papaya, the Hawaiian Agricultural Statistical Service, gives variety information only up to 2002 ( In that year, between 44 and 48% of the area was sown to GM papaya. That would be just under 1000 acres. For canola, I have had to rely on a range of secondary sources (e.g.,, that normally cite "industry statistics". These suggest GM canola was planted on 60% of the area in 2002, 75% of the area in 2003 and 84% of the area in 2004. Colleagues in the industry have given me similar estimates for 2004. In 2005, there was 1.1 million acres of canola grown, of which at least 700,000 acres would have been GM. I could obtain no statistics on the area of GM alfalfa, which is being planted commercially for the first time this year. However, I have been told by weed scientists in both Colorado and California that most, and in some places all, of the seed available for 2005 has been sold. There are 22.1 million acres of alfalfa grown in the US, so even a small percentage of that will be a significant area.

Therefore, in total we have over 117 million acres of GM crops in the US. For those, who like me, are more familiar with the metric system, this equates to about 47 million hectares of GM crops. In my local perspective, this is twice the area of grain cropping in all of Australia. If this is a flop, what will Dr. Benbrook count as a success?

Not only is there a large area sown to GM crops in the US, the area sown is continuing to grow each year. This is even true for crops like soybeans and cotton where large percentages of the area have been sown to GM crops for some years.

Nonhost resistance

From Agnet 20 November 2005
Plants have a dual line of defence
November 18, 2005
Max Planck Society
Max Planck researchers in Cologne, Germany demonstrate that a multi-step defence system underlies the durable resistance of plants to fungal parasites.
Plants are exposed to many different pathogens in the environment. Only a few of these pathogens, however, are able to attack a species of plant and "make it sick". If a particular pathogen is unable to attack a plant, that means that the plant is resistant to it - in other words, it cannot host the pathogen. This durable type of immunity of a plant to parasites is called nonhost resistance. Although, in nature, nonhost resistance stops almost all parasite attacks, it has been the subject of little research. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, working with Volker Lipka, Jan Dittgen, and Paul Schulze-Lefert, and in co-operation with colleagues from the Carnegie Institution in the US, have uncovered the molecular components of nonhost resistance and described this system of defence in the current edition of the journal Science (November 18, 2005). In their findings, they draw parallels between the immune systems of plants and animals. This research could be central to the development of new "green" fungicides.
The Max Planck researchers were able to identify the gene known as PEN (penetration) as an important component of nonhost resistance. They isolated arabidopsis mutations, which are partially susceptible to powdery mildews. If these genes are defective, or if the protein they code is missing in the plant cells, the fungus can invade the leaf epidermis cells more frequently. For that reason the scientists looked particularly at the question of exactly which function the PEN2 protein has in the defence against pathogens.
PEN2 is an enzyme located in the membrane of what are called peroxisomes. These are spatially separated cell compartments, in which metabolic reactions often take place that would be dangerous for the organism at any place other than inside the compartments. If a fungus tries to invade a plant cell, the peroxisomes are led over to the entry site by the attached PEN2 protein. One or more sugar molecules can be separated from another cell component through the enzyme activities of the PEN2 enzyme, a glycosyl hydrolase. The substance released by it appears to have a fungicidal effect, which kills the pathogen.
The researchers, on the other hand, observed that when PEN2 is missing, the plants become more susceptible not only to grass powdery mildew fungi but also other pests - for example, the pathogens causing late potato blight. PEN2 is therefore a basic component of the plant s immune system with a broad range of effects.
However if PEN2 is missing, the plant is not completely helpless against fungal diseases. There is still another line of defence which they have to get through. If PEN2 is missing, the plant takes a drastic step: the cell dies together with its attacker, which protects the neighbouring plant tissue from infection.
In this deadly line of defence, very different proteins play a key role - particularly EDS1, PAD4 and SAG101. They were already known to researchers in other species of plants, which identify molecular traits only present in parasites by using immune receptors both on the cell surface and inside the cell. Only if this second mechanism also fails can the originally non-virulent grass powdery mildew fungus colonise the plant.
The Max Planck research has now demonstrated that the nonhost resistance of plants develops out of a defence system with at least two steps. These steps determine whether a plant is susceptible to a disease or not. The redundancy of the defence layers and the wide-ranging effects of PEN2 explain why, in nature, nonhost resistance is a durable and broadly effective defence mechanism. If a building block is missing from one defence layer, its function will be taken over by components of the next layer.
Until now, scientists had assumed that nonhost resistance is based more on "passive" mechanisms: for example, the structure of the cell wall, poisonous substances on the surface of the plant, or a lack of molecular entry sites for pathogens. But the researchers in Cologne have now shown that active immune responses make a key contribution to nonhost resistance - for example, the transport of PEN2 to the place of infection.
In further studies, the researchers hope to try to identify materials that are built up via PEN2 at the place of infection. They surmise that these materials could lead to the development of new kinds of "green fungicide" with a broad range of effects in the fight against plant diseases. Max Planck researchers in Cologne, Germany demonstrate that a multi-step defence system underlies the durable resistance of plants to fungal parasites.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Super sorghum

Biofortified sorghum project boosts African scientific capacity
November 16, 2005
Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International
JOHANNESBURG One of Africa's greatest challenges the twin problems of limited scientific infrastructure and human capacity is being addressed by the Africa Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) project, which is supported by the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative.
An essential goal of the ABS project is to build African scientific capacity through the training of African scientists. The first two scientists have begun research in the United States this week. Andile Grootboom and Luke Mehlo, two plant biotechnologists from South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), are being trained at Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., the world's leading agricultural seed technology company and subsidiary of DuPont in Des Moines, Iowa.
Africa has limited skills in science and technology and the ABS Project is designed to broaden skills in specifically in plant biotechnology.
"The expertise gained through the new technologies and cutting-edge research will benefit other African institutions and further enhance the quality of research in CSIR, a New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) Bioscience Center of Excellence," says Dr. Blessed Okole, strategic partnerships manager at CSIR Biosciences.
"As leader of the ABS project, I am proud that we have met the first important milestone. Not only have two African scientists begun research in the United States, we have lined up additional African scientists, to be trained both at the CSIR and Pioneer in the coming months," says Dr. Florence Wambugu, CEO of Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International.
Dr. Wambugu says "the start of the capacity building process is not only a crucial milestone of this project but also a confirmation that this is a project by Africans building Africa, for Africa with the help of friends in developed nations."
Over the course of the ABS project, scientists will spend time at both the CSIR and Pioneer. In the US, the scientists will mainly learn advanced scientific techniques, protocol and strategy designs for construction of plant transformation.
"We have designed a unique program to impart skills that will directly contribute to the ABS project with the goal of producing a new generation of nutritionally-enhanced sorghum with improved essential amino acid composition, protein and starch digestibility, iron and zinc availability, and elevated levels of select vitamins, including Vitamin E," says Dr. Paul Anderson, international end use senior manager, Pioneer, and the ABS project's principal investigator.
"We are delighted to work with African institutions in building capacity both for the ABS Project and the continent. This will ensure that Africa draws maximum benefit from the Intellectual Property donation, worth US$4.8 million, donated to the project by Pioneer," says Dr. Anderson
"It is an amazing opportunity to come to Pioneer and work alongside some of the world's best scientists," says Andile. "We are excited at being part of a project that will positively impact the lives of over 300 million poor people in Africa and the developing world."
Luke adds that they are looking forward to learning state-of-the-art research techniques. "This is high-level science with a precise goal of transforming the lives of people at the lowest level of society."
The African Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) Project is supported by the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, which focuses on harnessing the power of science and technology to dramatically improve health in the world's poorest countries, and is funded primarily by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The overall goal of ABS is to develop highly enhanced sorghum as a food source to help fight hunger, malnutrition and poverty. The ABS Project is designed to solve global challenges under the direction of a strategic consortium of public and private organizations led by Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International and its strategic partners the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa, and DuPont through its subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International. For additional information, please visit .