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2-Plants: GE crops: End hunger, cure disease, protect America



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TITLE:  Bush has tall order for biotech: End hunger, cure disease,
        protect America
SOURCE: St. Loius Post-Dispatch, USA, by Rachel Melcer
        http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/News/686126D2
        A785BDAC86256D4F00187080?OpenDocument&Headline=Bush+has+tall+order+
        for+biotech%3A+End+hunger,+cure+disease,+protect+America
DATE:   June 23, 2003

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


Bush has tall order for biotech: End hunger, cure disease, protect America

WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush said Monday he expected the
biotechnology industry to cure diseases, end global hunger and protect
America from biological attack. And he'd like the industry to lobby
Congress, too.

Speaking at the 10th annual meeting of the Biotechnology Industry
Organization, or BIO, Bush told more than 5,000 scientists, civic and
business leaders, "I need your help."

The president asked them to speak out on three initiatives:

Project Bioshield, his plan to spend $6 billion over 10 years on
biodefense. The money would speed research, production and availability
of vaccines and treatments for smallpox, anthrax, botulin toxin, Ebola
and other diseases which could be used in terror attacks.

A Medicare reform package that would give retirees prescription drug
coverage and access to private health insurance. And tort reform
proposals, to change the way medical liability and class-action suits are
handled.

The United States' case against the European Union regarding
commercialization of genetically modified, or GM, crops. The United
States filed a dispute last month with the World Trade Organization,
saying the EU's five-year freeze on accepting new GM foods is an
unacceptable barrier to American imports.

Each of the initiatives could help the industry with funding, access to
markets and the ability to innovate, Bush said. And that's just what many
of the biotech leaders wanted to hear.

"He said all the right things," said Richard C.D. Fleming, president of
the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association.

St. Louis, along with about a dozen other cities and states represented
at BIO 2003, is pegging its economic future on a biotech industry. The
area hopes to become known as the BioBelt, a hub of agriculture and life
sciences. To make that happen, it will need a steady stream of federal
research dollars, and public-private partnerships.

More than a half-dozen speakers from St. Louis dot the BIO 2003 agenda
this week, talking about the industry's potential. Several
representatives of Monsanto Co., the agrochemical and biotech giant based
in Creve Coeur, are promoting their products' abilities to improve the
lot of farmers around the globe.

The sentiment was echoed both by speakers from developing African
countries, who want greater access to biotech seeds and genetic traits
for crops, and by Bush.

While they did not mention Monsanto by name, the company is the clear
industry leader in GM crops. Its herbicide- and insect-resistant seeds
cover the bulk of U.S. corn, cotton, soybean and canola acres, and their
use is spreading around the globe.

"Yet the great advantages of biotechnology have yet to reach developing
countries in Africa" and other parts of the world, Bush said. Some
African nations have refused to plant GM crops, because they fear losing
access to lucrative European markets, where they are banned.

A few countries even have turned down U.S. food aid grown from GM seed.
Because of the same concerns, others are turning away from developing
indigenous GM crops, which could resist local pests or withstand drought.

"America and other wealthy nations have special responsibility to combat
disease and hunger in desperate lands," Bush said.

The United States will spend $1 billion on food aid next year, but the
long-term solution lies in sharing crop technology and science, he said.

"For the sake of a continent threatened by famine (Africa), I urge the
European governments to end their opposition to biotechnology," the
president said.

Bush also set lofty goals for biotechnology to achieve in health care.

"The future of medicine in the United States of America is incredibly
bright because of your work and your skill and your research," he said.
"Our biotechnology industry is the strongest in the world, and we need to
keep it that way."

The industry needs to ensure that changes in Medicare and other
government programs won't undermine its potential, Bush warned.

"Millions of people are in your debt. The American people are grateful
for your many achievements," he said. "And we look forward to the many
achievements yet to come."




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