GENTECH archive 8.96-97


Re: Survey Shows Americans Want Labels On Genetically Altered F

While I agree with Peter when he asserts of companies selling 
genetically engineered products:

>They want to argue that cross species genetic
>engineering of food is the same thing as
>traditional reproductive crossbreeding that has been going
>on since time immemorial.

But, I wish to comment on:

>Genetic engineering is actually a new and radical technology
>of dubious "benefit" for consumers.

While I agree that Genetic engineering IS a new technology, quite 
distinguishable from traditional breeding practices, I wish to comment 
on the view that there are no benefits to be had from the technology for 
the public, the environment or for consumers and that the only benefit 
is to be enjoyed in terms of profit by the companies involved.  It is a 
view quite often expressed by posts to this list.  But take for example 
these projects:

Comsumers in the UK have been quite impressed with the (clearly 
labelled) "genetically modified" tomato paste.  They have commented on 
the superior taste of the product, are pleased that it costs less, and 
the fact that in now occupies 17% of the paste market is testimony to 

"Bt cotton" in Australia has led to decreased spraying of cotton fields 
with chemical pesticides (from between 6 and 16 spray runs a season down 
to 2) - surely an environmental benefit.  (I spoke to a farmer recently 
who said he was very pleased with this aspect and would use the cotton 
again next season despite that it offers no  cost savings to him - 
though Monsanto IS making a profit !!).  Similiarly, potatoes 
genetically engineered to be resistant to viral attack are decreasing 
the need for chemical spraying proviously used to control aphids which 
transmit the virus.

Various projects worldwide aimed at changing oil compositions in canola 
and other common vegetable oil providers to increase the amounts of 
unsaturated fats - a health benefit to those eating the product.

Various projects aimed at increasing the nutritional value of various 
foods or increasing the levels of natural anti-cancer agents produced in 
some fruits.  I'm think comsumerrs will be interested in the benefits of 
such products.  

While Big Companies ARE making Big Money with genetic engineering, let's 
face it, the technology wouldn't go ahead if there wasn't a buck to be 
made.  And there ARE benefits to be found in the new technology - for 
the general good (even if that is not what motivates the Big Companies).

It is unfortunate that the first genetically engineered organism 
generally released (in the US) is the RoundUp ready soybeans - the 
benefits to consumers, to the environment (while expoused by Monsanto) 
ARE,in this case, DUBIOUS.  But let's not tar all genetic engineering 
with the same brush.  It's a technology that can be used for a wide 
variety of purposes.  Each needs to be assessed individually before it 
is condemed or accepted.  Some are "beneficial", others will not benefit 
society and only make a quick buck for those with plenty already.  It's 
a big ask, but  thought, understanding and individual assessment is 

I think I've said enough !!

Cheers,  Janelle
Life comes with no instruction book. 
						- Some make their own rules, 
										Others enjoy the freedom.

Janelle L. Kennard
CRC for Plant Science
PO Box 475
Australian National University.
Canberra  ACT 2601

Phone 249 2878