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GM debate forum records

This page presents a chronology of the GM debate discussions by mostly Agro-biodiversity and Biotechnology Programme (ASARECA) and Bedsidereading email list participants following a lecture by Mike Lynas, a former anti-GM activist now turned a pro-GM activist explaining why he changed camp. The lecture concided with the publication of the only long-term study udertaken and published on the subject (by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini’s team at the University of Caen, France), which found that rats fed GM maize and tiny amounts of the Roundup herbicide it is designed to be grown with suffered severe organ damage, increased tumours, and premature death.

From: Mike Wach

Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2013 19:14:03 +0000

Greeting, Clet.

Here is the link to an article from the New York Times about an anti-GMO activist who has completely changed his position and now supports the technology.

Perhaps there is some hope.

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/04/new-shade-of-green-stark-shift-for-onetime-foe-of-genetic-engineering-in-crops/?smid=tw-nytimesscience&seid=auto

From: Clet Wandui MASIGA

Sent: Sunday, 6 January 2013, 7:29

Dear all,

Mike Wach, a parter of ASARECA in environmental risk assessment of GMOs has just shared with me the link below. It links you to an article about Mark Lynas a British author, journalist and environmental activist who for several years has promoted ant-GMO crusade worldwide. He has completely changed his mind and he has said sorry for misleading the world. He now believes that GM technology is a critical tool to reduce hunger and improve humanity. Find attached his own article which was presented at the Oxford Farming conference. I hope many others will see this light and help improve humanity. The article has certainly warmed up my morning.

From: Anthony Bende

Sent: Sunday, 6 January 2013, 13:40

Dear All,

I have been and still remain open minded with the GM debate.

As Clet has stated, this makes very interesting reading from a general perspective.

However, when one digests the contents in relation to the topic at hand, GMs (the lecture has no title), it becomes evident how hollow and unfocused the lecture is.

Mark claims he read peer-reviewed scientific articles and discovered the following facts (on page 2) which changed his views on GMs:

  • GMs need less insecticide.
  • Farmers accrue billions of dollars benefits from needing fewer inputs in GMs.
  • Terminator never happened in GMs.
  • Farmers are eager to use GMs.
  • GMs are safer and more precise than conventional breeding.
  • Viruses, plants, insects and humans already mix genes between unrelated species.

Upon reading the above main points, I expected Mark to explicitly address each of them using his newly acquired peer-reviewed scientific evidence and facts.

I was however disappointed when it became evident to me that most of the lecture (pages 3 to 9) is instead devoted to:

  • population growth – almost to a point of using it as a justification for GMs irrespective of any other consequences.
  • the role of technology – almost misconstruing GMs to mean technology, instead of treating it as a minute part of science and technology.
  • Green Peace activities, organic productivity and cost of regulatory red tape.

My understanding on the GM debate (which I initially expected Mark to address) is that it is more focused on the potential risks to human health (see for example questions 4 to 8 at WHO’s 20 questions on genetically modified foods):

  • toxicity – direct health effects,
  • allergenicity– tendencies to provoke allergic reaction,
  • specific components thought to have nutritional or toxic properties,
  • the stability of the inserted gene,
  • nutritional effects associated with genetic modification, and
  • any unintended effects which could result from the gene insertion.

A smaller school thought expresses concerns onthe tendency of commercial seeds to drive out traditional, locally adapted varieties – a pattern that has been intensifying since the introduction of hybrid corn in the 1930s.

I find Mark’s statement in paragraph 2 of page 2 very disturbing, i.e. ‘So I lectured them about the value of peer-review, about the importance of scientific consensus and how the only facts that mattered were the ones published in the most distinguished scholarly journals’.

A fact is fact. It shouldn’t matter where it originates from. How can a fact from only one source be the one that matters? Isn’t this evidence to suggest that Mark is a biased individual on this topic?

One wonders what Mark is up to. Put it another way, what is in it for Mark? With a degree in politics and modern history, Mark first became a Green Peace activist. He then turned a global warming researcher through leaning how to read scientific papers, understand basic statistics and become literate in very different fields from oceanography to paleoclimate. Has Mark exhausted publication avenues in global warming and is now laying ground for a new cash cow – GM related publication?

From: Juma, Calestous
Sent: Sunday, 6 January 2013, 15:32

Happy New Year to All!

The defection of one guerilla fighter does mean the battle is over. Last year we were treated to spectacular antics by anti-technology activists brandishing the Seralini paper. It was heralded as the final truth that justified the faith they had against the technology. The paper has been roundly debunked mostly by European scientists and regulatory authorities. Those who were peddling it have not come back to explain what happened. Because their anti-biotechnology faith is unshaken they will just lie low until something else that fits their belief system comes along. Then they will be on a warpath against. I have seen this over and over again since I published my first book on the subject in 1989. I saw it played in real like when I headed the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in the late 1990s.

Mark Lynas is not the first person to change his mind. A year ago we heard former UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher say his earlier position had gone too far http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17147649 This wasn’t picked up very much but there are many people from that era who have changed their positions or have simply walked away from the debate and are now focused on something else.

Mark was a hero when he helped to destroy GM crops and saw the seeds of rejection. Horrible things are now being said about him by anti-biotechnology group. Many are questioning his motive and even going as far as suggesting he must have been bought. They see him as traitor and so he will be subjected to even harsher attacks to more people do not change their minds.

The same happened to Patrick Moore, one the founders of Greenpeace, when he changed his position on nuclear power. The fundamental point is not about the gap in his one public lecture, but that he had the courage to revisit the evidence and to question the foundations of his faith. Sadly, many will not and continue to pander to the same rhetoric that he helped to propagate.

I visited a number of research institutes in the UK last April and was very impressed by how much GM research is going on there, including some of the direct relevant to African countries. This is research that could otherwise be done by Africans if they had not been influenced by the movement Mark represented. My guess is that not so far away many European countries will enter become a significant source of agricultural biotechnology that will make its way to Africa. This will be the fate for those who have outsourced strategic thinking to others.

In the meantime, many dogmas are being demolished by scientific advances. The latest is the finding that DNA jumps between vertebrates, for example from snakes to cows http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/33829/title/DNA-Jumps-Between-Vertebrates/

By the way, while we continue to debate GM technology, the world is moving into nanotechnology!

From: Juma, Calestous

Sent: Sunday, 6 January 2013, 16:34

Agricultural biotechnology: looking back

http://www.inderscience.com/info/ingeneral/cfp.php?id=2046

Nanotechnology: looking ahead

http://www.inderscience.com/info/ingeneral/cfp.php?id=2061

From: sam nzabandora
Sent: Sunday, 6 January 2013, 19:25

Clet, thanks, but   no thanks.Facts: 1. Mark Lynas   is an author.
2. After “The God Species” was   published, Lynas explained his shift..; in other words “Mark   Lynas is promoting his book.”So the question is this: Could it be that he is just driven by his vested   financial interests in promoting his book ” The God Species”?Some how Mr. Mark Lynas’ new revelation to the human race is: “nine   ‘planetary boundaries’ that humanity must not cross if the Earth is to   continue to support life and our civilisation”.When there are some financial gains to be achieved directly or indirectly in   any form, be it job, research, religion, or any other area, even in politics,   it has been established that judgement neutrality gets compromised.Just to name a few, Case in point:

-New research accuses Big Pharma of interference and influence in Poland
-After UConn Picks Coach, Donor Asks   for His Money Back-Buying Influence at Universities

Is corporate philanthropy an opportunistic behavior by executives?

-Big Oil Goes to College: BP,   ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell Fund & Influence Research at Major   Universities

In our real life when it comes to money, the “David and Goliath   story” turns out that Goliath wins, when Goliath is 6 times bigger than   David. Prop 37: food companies spend $45m   to defeat California GM label bill.

Mr. Mark Lynas seems to be a shrewd business man with a good nose for dough.

1.-Vandana Shiva: Seed patents ‘are   a fraud’

2.-Dr. Vandana Shiva goes at length   to debating and breaking it down for easy understanding in debunking the myth   that GM crops produce better yield.

From: Juma,   Calestous
Date: Sunday, January 6, 2013, 2:42 PMDear Sam,We are going to see a lot of   innuendo masquerading as facts in the coming months. He was a hero when he   was ripping up crops. Now he is a villain and traitor.From: sam nzabandora
Sent: Sunday, 6 January 2013, 20:36Prof. Juma,GM’s stand against diversity through patents using hundreds of millions of dollars   through lobbying is suspect and to think otherwise defies logic.Heroism is never achieved through destruction   including ripping up crops. May be that says a lot about Mark Lynas’ need for   personal attention in general. But, this topic shouldn’t be reduced to people   who rip up crops. Instead, I think that people like Dr. Shiva who is promoting   diversity have some thing more valuable to offer.

From: Juma, Calestous
Date: Sunday, January 6, 2013, 3:44 PM

Sam,

When I headed the UN Convention on Biological Diversity we sought evidence on this claim from all member states. There was none to support the hypothesis. It is yet another myth that sounds right from an ideological standpoint but could not stand scrutiny. It is used to whip up political hysteria and fuel opposition. Let us separate political games from the scientific enterprise and replace innuendoes with evidence.

The fact that a lot of people believe something does not necessarily make it true. It is a fallacious argument used in politics.

From: sam nzabandora
Sent: Monday, 7 January 2013, 3:48

Prof. Juma,Thank you, but I beg to differ. May be we can both agree that everyone   has their biases.Your message is clear. You are a professional person who has taken   time looking into all types of Biases of validities such as External,   Construct and Statistical Conclusions etc.I hope look at this example of gender bias in a professional   environment, will help illustrate my point:-

If I asked you as a professor whether or not you are gender biased and   if you are, whether or not your biases would influence you in hiring an applicant   for a lab manager position, my expectation of your answer would most likely   to be just like the rest of the professors:“No and not at all, I am objective   and my truck record proves so”.Now let us look at a study research that looked into the above question:   A situation where all variables other than the one of   interest are held equal except that which we have interest in was done   and the results were not only shocking to professional men, but women as   well.

I believe the reason for those professors’ surprise was because they   had come to believe that they were part and parcel of another system and now   they had to come to terms with the fact that they are no different from those   other people after all, those whom they had always accused or suspected of   being biased because one reason or another which for them they were above.

People who happen to believe that Monsanto always wins because of its   better scientific research and that it is driven by ethical morals for   eradication of hunger in African and dismissing those with different opinions   as un-informed political propagandists with selfish motives, may one day wake   up to realism of their biases.

In five years, one full profit company does not spend over $36.6   million lobbying law makers without intentions of influencing the re-shaping   of laws in place already and/or those to be pasted.

When $46 million is spent by GM companies in one state to influence   voters that labeling a GM crop a GM product is   bad for them, you wonder what they are hiding. 21And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put   under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?

Why Does Monsanto Always Win?,   may shed some light as to the reasons why.

Happy New Year.

Sam.

P/S,

I am one of those who don’t believe that GM crops are a solution to   Africa’s food shortage or economic problems.

For your information these are facts of what is happening right now:

Institutions including Harvard and Vanderbilt are   reportedly involved Africa Land Grab using hedge funds to buy land   in deals that may force farmers out.

We need a Sheriff more than GM Companies:- Land deals in Africa have led to a   wild west – bring on the sheriff, says FAO

Corruption especially in high   government positions from within and without as well as poor governance and   mismanagement are our demise.

From: Juma, Calestous
Sent: Monday, 7 January 2013, 4:20

Sam,

I spend a lot of time looking at the evidence as an editor of a scholarly journal on the subject. I also teach a course on the topic. In both cases l would not fare well if l brought biases to such a serious issue. Of course this is not a useful discussion since we are not looking at a specific case.

It won’t to debate the leap of logic in your message below because it intended to score rhetorical points by relying on innuendo and false analogy. It doesn’t illuminate a specific topic.

I am happy to engage on a substantive theme otherwise this is my last comment on this tired issue. The world is moving on.

From: Jacob Byamukama
Sent: Monday, 7 January 2013, 4:37

Ladies and Gentlemen, Please please continue with the debate. Bring out some specific cases so that people learn from your wealth of knowledge and experience.

From: Nakkazi Esther
Sent: Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 20:43

Thanks Prof. Juma. Done it.

From: Juma, Calestous
Sent: Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 22:53

Thanks! I also wanted to thank you for your excellent story on COMESA.

From: Juma, Calestous
Sent: Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 23:07

Assessment of GE food safety using ‘-omics’ techniques and long-term animal feeding studieshttp://bit.ly/R7vEcu

From: David Hafashimana
Sent: Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 9:02

Dear Anthony,

Having read the Article of the new convert indeed, I am very inclined to totally agree with your analysis as most of the questions you raise had also arisen in my mind.

Reading his article indeed and looking at his training background, he looks one of those “Activists” who were opposed to GM technology without having even the slightest idea on what it was all about! In short, he did not know what he was actually worried about. It reminds me of one such an “activist” I have been meeting in global Biosafety meetings who was very opposed to GM technology and on one evening she told me that she had left her good job to come and save the World from the effect of GM. When I asked her what the good job was, she shocked me saying she had “a good job as a cook”!

Whereas I am also open minded about GM technology and aware that it has some good benefits if properly and judiciously applied; I am also aware that there are potential Risks if safety concerns are swept under the carpet to suit the drive for profits for the technology owners (just like any other technology).

I think we should remain focused on reason and treat the technology as one of the possible tools that can help solve some of the challenges facing the world (not as a panacea for all our problems), using a Case – by case Risk Assessment and applying the necessary Risk Management measures, rather than being carried out by sentiments of either those whose minds are either compromised or are not capable of a sensible analysis to come out with meaningful conclusions.

Finally, let us concentrate on promoting only safe and profitable, sustainable technologies (be they GM or otherwise) as this world is not ending with our generation. Our children will also need it to pass onto their future children.

From: Charles Mugoya
Date: Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 8:36 AM

Dear Sam Zabandora

I am coming late into this debate but I beg to differ with your views. First, I would like to start by supporting earlier statements made by Prof Juma and I implore you to appreciate the fact that advances in science and technology have contributed greatly to the current food security and wealth we enjoy today. If you have followed closely the science of plant breeding, you would know that these days, we hardly talk about landraces! (Original copies of crops that we call varieties or cultivars today). To put it in a lay man’s language, If you hear a crop being referred to as a variety, chances are that its genetic profile has been tampered with over and over again through conventional breeding or genetic engineering. In fact, in the first quarter of the last century, Russians made very good advances in breeding new varieties of wheat using mutation breeding procedures where mutagenic chemicals were used to increase the frequency of mutant plants– which according to modern standards, are not acceptable, yet this did not bring about the environmental or health catastrophes being talked about.

I have a lot of questions and I am not sure whether all of us understand this subject in equal measure. Are we confident that we equally understand any existing plant/animal architecture i.e. entire genomic DNA constitution as found in plants and animals?. Do we have a good understanding of gene sequences among existing GM crops and how these differ from conventional crops/animals? How many of us can authoritatively interpret the specifics of nucleic acid research (bedrock of GM research) as we make these serious conclusions about the “eminent” harm by GMOs to human health and environment? How many of us in this debate understand GMOs with respect to conventional crop biology with special reference to its taxonomy, anatomy, morphology, floral biology, qualitative/quantitative genetics, cytology and cytogenetics, physiology, breeding, ecology etc. The question that begs therefore is: “ if we do not understand the basic GM alphabet, how well shall we be able to construct words from that alphabet” ?.

I believe that knowledge is power and therefore, I propose that in the interest of a more informative discourse, let’s ALL invest in time, read and understand the biology/science behind GM crops. There are many resources available. The following basic topics are a good sample for beginners and can be goggled with any search engine:

· Components of Plant/Animal cell

· Basic genetics -Cell divisions though Mitosis and Meiosis

· Genotype and phenotype

· Mendel’s laws of inheritance

· What is DNA – How are genes made from DNA and why is DNA of ALL organisms chemically identical and how gene parts can be interchanged?

· How do genes code for proteins through DNA, RNA and amino acids?

· How restriction enzymes and plasmids permit manipulation of genes

· How DNA from one organism can be introduced into the genome of another organism

· Biosafety of GMO research and how it can be ensured to avoid undesirable/unintended traits in GM crops

I wish also point out that all Universities worldwide (including ours in Africa) are training students the fine science of genetic engineering. The Eastern and Central African region currently has an estimated population of (our own) – no less than 1,200 Ph.D and Msc trained brothers and sisters in Genetic engineering and are busy developing new varieties of crops for food security and income generation . They are scattered in our universities and agricultural institutions, although some work with multinational corporations like Monsanto as high profile scientists. Indeed some of you in this debate know could be having a friend, brother, sister or cousin working as such scientist and you are proud of them.

Finally, the socio-economic and trade issues including the issues of patents around GM crops should not blind fold us in appreciating the scientific benefits of GM crops. These are political issues and they come in different outfits and mean different things in a socioeconomic and political contexts but they can addressed through national policies and laws.

Therefore let’s welcome new knowledge to permeate and saturate us and in this case of Mark Lyna’s I wouldn’t refer to the change of heart as a “defection”, I would call it attainment of “truth”.

From: sam nzabandora
Date: Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 2:49 PM

Dr.   Charles Mugoya,Thank   you for stating your reasons for your stand.I   consider your statement “I have a lot of   questions and I am not sure whether all of us understand this subject in   equal measure”, reasonable.

I think   the problem in discussing GM crops or Biotechnology comes about when some   people feel that just because they have academic knowledge of modifying   genetics of crops, then the buck stops with them.Honestly,   I commend you for your candidness in your open letter to me.

First   and foremost, I will start off by pointing out what I consider to be the   fundamental source of our disagreement. You believe those who disagree with   you on GM crop issues, that they are doing so because of lack of academic   knowledge in Biotechnology, you even offer us help such as “ read and understand the biology/science behind GM   crops”, and then you go on to offer basic topic resources for   beginners.Here is   the reason why your argument does not hold water and should be dismissed:

It is   based on a false premise that there are no Biotechnology scientists   who disagree the safety of GM crops. What about scientists such as Dr   Gilles-Eric Séralini and his colleagues? Are you telling us that their   academic expertise in biotechnology is lacking just because of their   scientific researches keep revealing safety   issues with GM crops?

Analogous   to your statement about Mark Lyna; Dr Gilles-Eric Séralini and his   colleagues, you would say:- ” I would call it   attainment of “falsehood”.”

However,   the most myopic approach to this topic I see, is that some people have come   to personalize this topic of GM crops to the level of being analogous to   building a personal house. GM crop issue is not like building a personal   house, at least, it is like building a huge apartment complex that houses   many people including me.

Anybody   who eats has vested interest in this topic in one way or another, whether   they know it or nor, like it or like not, there are unlimited consequences to   all of us if Dr Gilles-Eric Séralini and his colleagues are right. Dr.   Mugoya, when there is a disagreement on issues of importance such as life and   death isn’t it that “Err on the side of caution” is the standard in the   medical field?

Dr.   Mugoya, I don’t think you have any ulterior motives and I would like to side   with you, because of what you tell me. Now, just be in my shoes and look at   this dilemma and tell me what you would do if faced with a life or death   situation. If I don’t take your advise, and yet you are right, I won’t die,   may be go hungry some times, but if Dr Gilles-Eric Séralini is right and I don’t   take his advise, I may die; both of you are confident in what you believe and   call it the Truth. Be honest and tell me which choice you would take?

Listen to Vandana Shiva: Earth Democracy at PCC speech. I   hope you will find it enlightening and not defect, but attain “truth”.

Once   again, thank you for your candidness.

From: Anthony Bende
Sent: Wednesday, January 09, 2013 1:40 PM

Dear All,

Yahoo is giving me problems. I have had to break down the email list. So please excuse me if you receive duplicate emails.

Dear Dr Charles Mugoya (my best friend in Primary 7!),

Thanks for your positive approach.

Evidently, there are both pro- and anti-GMs ‘activists’. But there are also a significant proportion of people including myself who remain opened minded and have not yet jumped camp. Some of us are still digesting the evidence from the debate with the hope that it will eventually ‘objectively’ assist us to make an informed decision.

As Dr David Hafashimana has pointed out in the most recent post, we believe that just like any other science and technology, GMs (and whatever) have both pros and cons. The question that remains is whether on the balance the pros outweigh the cons or vice-vasa. Moreover, in certain cases, the pros and cons have to be evaluated on a case by case basis.

The problem, as you have already pointed out already is that a good proportion of us are not at the same level playing field when it comes to understanding the mechanics of the subject. Many of us are in fact at the lower end of the GMs knowledge spectrum. But, this doesn’t mean that we are completely illiterate on the subject. It also doesn’t imply that those at the higher end of the spectrum should ignore us and move on for example into nanotechnology, as Prof Juma might have implied earlier. Those of us at the lower end of the GMs knowledge spectrum are still yearning for general rather than specific understanding of the subject. That is why, although I appreciate and understand where he is coming from, I was a bit disappointed with Prof. Juma’s decision to disengage on the the grounds that he viewed the issue at hand as being ‘tired’. Nonetheless, I commend him for being willing to engage on more specific issues.

Charles, you have been kind enough to suggest a list of topics which we can potentially search on the internet. As you have rightly pointed out, some us might require this information in layman’s language. To be fair to Mark, his lecture was presented in a layman’s language. Unfortunately, as I pointed out in my earlier emial, the contents of the lecture were a disappointment. In the name of promoting an informative discourse (to use your own words), I request you to go a step further. Can you spare some time, as and when, and present to us the main points/facts on the subject areas you have proposed. You could either present it on this forum, or I could post them for you on bedsidereadings if you want.

At the same time I request the opposing school of thought (Sam, Opiyo Oloya etc) and even the ‘unconverted’ like me, to also present simplified facts and arguments underpinning their believes.

Let us promote this debate debate and in the process improve our understanding of the issues at hand.

From: Charles Mugoya
Sent: Thursday, 10 January 2013, 12:33

Dear Dr Anthony Bende-Nabende (my very best friend in Primary 7 !),

Thanks for your email and the constructive comments on the subject.

Regarding your specific request, find attached some very interesting easy to read modules recently published by FAO on the subject. I recommend that you post them to the bedside reading team if it will help in bridging the knowledge and perceptions gap.

From: Anthony Bende
Date: Friday, January 11, 2013, 2:09 PM

Dear All,

I have dedicated a page on bedsidereadings for the GM debate.

The initial idea is to have an easily accessible simplified summary which people can digest before deciding whether to read (or not read) the detailed original paper/article/lecture at a link which is also provided on the website.

I have started with one resource from WHO which is accessible here. Due to obvious constraints, additional resources will be posted gradually – keep checking.

I am looking for individuals to volunteer and summarise the key points/issues in specific papers/articles/lectures as I have done for WHO above. These are high level summaries can simply involve copying text from the executive summaries. Please drop me an email if you are willing to offer a hand.

From: sam nzabandora
Sent: Saturday, 12 January 2013, 23:46

Dear all, I support Biotechnology.The only way to dispel these falsehoods that being against GM crops is   being anti-science is to present the evidence for your to hear, the truth on   what went on behind doors and what happened to anyone who stood up for human   safety (because of the length of the videos, I’ll point out which part I’m   referring to):The World According to Monsanto part 2 of 10:

(a). Monsanto’s Salesman says “round up   ready” saves time and money: (staring from 7:29 – 8:40)

(b). Genetic structure encoding (starts   from 7:40 – 8:41)

( C). Secretary of Agriculture (1995-2000)   slapped for his stand (from 8:58 – 10:40)

The World According to Monsanto part 3 of 10:

(a).Policy based on politics not   science: (starts from 01:00 to 01:31)

(b). Substantially equivalence Science   denounced ( starts at 2:40 – 5:23)

(c ). The deregulation – ( *at 7:19) call   me, we are in “dereg”.business ( 5:44 – 7:23)

(d). May 16 1992, Policy written by   Monsanto put into place (7:25 – 8:12)

The World   According to Monsanto part 4 of 10:

(a). rGBH hormone in Milk and its dangers   (* 6:54), by a neutral scientist Dr. Samuel Epstein: (3:49 – 7:10)

(b). What happens to those who stand up   and tell the truth against Monsato? (8:23 – 9:48)

And if you think that there are changes to come, think again: Revolving Door

Now, be the judge on who is spreading propaganda and suppressing   science.

 

From: Clet Wandui MASIGA
Sent: Saturday, 12 January 2013, 23:57

Dear Sam,

Hopefully I will debate tonight on this issue. But the most important issue that all need to know is that the basis for sound decision making in science is data that is statistically significant.

From: “Juma, Calestous”
Sent: Sunday, 13 January 2013, 2:02

http://www.technologyandpolicy.org/2013/01/11/persecuting-biotechnology/#.UPISkORX2Ty

I have received a few comments but the most interesting was a claim that I was poisoning young minds. This made me think of the arguments that led to Socrates being given hemlock. I do not know if the genome of hemlock (Canium maculatum) has been sequenced but if you know of anyone who has developed a diagnostic kit for the fatal alkaloids, please me know. I need to be testing my drinks and drinks.

From: Clet Wandui MASIGA
Sent: Sunday, 13 January 2013, 11:38

This is excellent Prof. Juma. One day they will realise when its too late and the technology has passed us.

From: Clet Wandui MASIGA
Sent: Sunday, 13 January 2013, 11:29

Dear all,

Thanks to all those that have contributed to this debate following Mr. Mark Lynas defection from ant-GM to pro-GM technology. I have copiled the debate as captured following my first email and I thank all those that have contributed. In the attachment there are the key messages and to whom they were addressed. I have done this as some of you missed out on credible issues as they kept unfolding.

After bringing that information to all of you, which I guess you have all read and internalised I now give my personal opinion about this matter. Antony who has now been complemented by Sam and David notes that Mark is a kind of person who does not belong anywhere and may not be compentent enough and that risk issues are there among GM and its generally the issue of life and death.

Secondily Prof. Juma and Charles notes clearly that GM technology is a result of natural evolution just like any technology that has naturally come into existence and I thus add that those that are capable of adapting will survive and those that are incabale may degenerate and die. This is backed up partly by an opinion I did last year and published in the New vision ON 25th July 2012 which I have also attached. Since 1973 when GM technology was discovered occuring naturally in Plants and first used commercially in Medicine and latter in the early 1980 when it was used to breed the first commercial crop that was sold globally in 1990’s Europe inclusive, to date we still have a large population of Elite people thinking its a dangerous new technology yet they have consumed it before without any notable problem. surely, we should not continue confusing people in this manner. Let us leave the issue of transforming agricultural production to the professionals.

Dr. David Hafashimana commented that Lynas looks like that”Activists” who were opposed to GM technology without having even the slightest idea on what it was all about! Dr. Hasfashimana continues and says he is open minded about GM technology and aware that it has some good benefits if properly and judiciously applied and also aware that there are potential Risks if safety concerns are swept under the carpet to suit the drive for profits for the technology owners. Dr. Hasfashimana was quickly praised by Mr. Sam Nzabandora. I remind those in favour of these arguments that decision on GM approval are based on data on transformed compared to consensus biology documents of the crop/species in question. A historian/non scientists who realizes this fact and changes his mind to support the truth should therefore not be abused. Anyone who forgets that scientific decisions are based on data is bound to make mistakes and mislead people and that is how the Kenyan cabinet banned GM imports and the basis for their decision is being challenged.

Dr. Hasfashimana need also to be reminded that before any GM crop is commercialized safety studies are conducted and the data form part of the approval dossier. I am therefore wondering why do you at this stage bring in the issue of potential risks. There is no GM crop that has been released without considering potential risks. This argument is supported by Prof. Calestus Juma who shared a link to Agnès E. Ricroch,s recent paper in Assessment of GE food safety using ‘-omics’techniques and long-term animal feeding studies which indicated that transgenesis results in fewer unintended impacts than conventional breeding and No adverse health effects were reported in long-term studies. Prof. Juma had only been praised by Esther Nakkazi for providing this link.

Mr. Sam Nzabandora on reacting to Dr. Charles Mugoya’s contribution stated “I think the problem in discussing GM crops or Biotechnology comes about when some people feel that just because they have academic knowledge of modifying genetics of crops, then the buck stops with them”. Dr. Charles Mugoya had a thorough approach on the subject and has advised that to engage constructively in discussing GM issues one needs academic knowledge in Biotechnology and has suggested basic topic resources for beginners. Mr. Sam Nzabandora instead of searching for more knowledge on the subject as per Mugoya’s advise he dismissed Dr. Charles Mugoya’s submission stating “It is based on a false premise that there are no Biotechnology scientists who disagree the safety of GM crops quoting Dr.

Séralini as a key biotechnologist opposed to GMO. Mr. Nzabandora concludes by stating that “anybody who eats has vested interest in this topic in one way or another” and referred us to listen toDr. Vandana Shiva speeches and many others that touch on Monsanto. Listening to all the video links referred to by Mr. Nzabandora, they are against GM technology.

There are a few facts that Mr. Sam Nzabandora needs to know as per his reactive statements above. Dr. Seralini and Dr. Vandana may be biotechnologies but are not breeders and have very limited understanding on breeding. But they are biotechnology entrepreneurs whose business survives by creating panic to the public. Soon there might be a legal proceedings to them in creating this unnecessary panic and misleading people who relied on their statements and publication.

Dr. Mugoya has clearly advised you to educate yourselves on this subject before commenting on this subject further. I advise that you adhere to this piece of advice like what Mr. Mark Lynas did. The fact that many people can talk about GDP and economic growth and recession etc does not qualify them to be economist. I therefore ask you a question, how many non economist can clearly use economic models in analysis of any economic problem.

Any one who is not trained and examined in a subject can only be knowledgeable but will never be a professional in that subject. Please, you therefore need to respect professionalism. That is the reason most of you are blindly following Dr. Seralini and Vandana because you cannot analyze the basis for their decision. For example how can a movie be a basis for decision making? Dont you know how mavies are made?I thought this is some very easy for non-professionals to know!

On the other hand Prof. Juma enriched the debate by providing credible information to rely on and build momentum to invest in the GM technology. He cited two proverbs: “If you are building a house and you keep talking to people who do not want you to build the house, you will end not finishing it and they win” and the other is that “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.” As a strategy to continue building the momentum Juma has promised to include a CHAPTER in his forth coming book on GM technology for development.

I commend Prof. Juma for reminding us. Because we are not using technology due to unnecessary fears and as such we will continue to lag behind. To date it’s still poor countries that have a majority of their people in farming and the basic technology we use is still a hand hoe. Can four billion people make such a grave mistake to invest in GM if it was that risky? That is why in his earlier submissions Prof. Juma had indicated that Mr. Nzabandora has no specific issues to bring to debate and its note worthy continuing the debate after Mr. Nzabandora continuously referred to internet links that are against GM, statements which no longer applies. I wonder where Mr. Sam Nzambandora has been while answers to those links where provided to the global community. What is this thing called bed side reading. I thought members are avid readers. It appears members of bed side reading don’t actually read and this exponses genral lack of knowledge on this issue of GM.

Meanwhile Dr. Mugoya had been very informative in his contribution, among other key statements were that advances in science and technology have contributed greatly to the current food security and wealth we enjoy today. Dr. Mugoya reminded us that If you hear a crop being referred to as a variety, chances are that its genetic profile has been tampered with over and over again through conventional breeding or genetic engineering. I entirely agree with Dr. Charles Mugoya and attached is an article I published in the new vision last year on similar subject. Sam and others, did you know that snakes and cows have many genes in common? Did you also know that the modern pig shares many genes with the African wathogo?

Dr. Wach on reading through the issues being submitted commented that “it seems like there are many people still very suspicious of GM technology and its benefits for Africa. In reality, no one is forcing Africa or any other region to grow these crops. If the opponents of the technology have ideas as to how to feed our ever-growing population, I’d like to hear them”. Unfortunately Dr. Wach preferred to share that information with me alone. This comment was mainly provoked by Mr. Nzabandora when he stated that “GM’s stand against diversity through patents using hundreds of millions of dollars through lobbying is suspect and to think otherwise defies logic. He had continued in his submission that Heroism is never achieved through destruction including ripping up crops. May be that says a lot about Mark Lynas’ need for personal attention in general. But, this topic shouldn’t be reduced to people who rip up crops. Instead, I think that people like Dr. Shiva who is promoting diversity have some thing more valuable to offer”.

On these issues he had a very satisfying answer from Prof. Juma who informed him that “when he headed the UN Convention on Biological Diversity they sought evidence on this claim from all member states. There was none to support the hypothesis. It is yet another myth that sounds right from an ideological standpoint but could not stand scrutiny. It is used to whip up political hysteria and fuel opposition. Let us separate political games from the scientific enterprise and replace innuendoes with evidence. The fact that a lot of people believe something does not necessarily make it true. It is a fallacious argument used in politics”. This submission by Prof. Juma is straight and clear. If Mr. Nzambandora is still in doubt, please let me know so that you can get the truth.

On Lynas defection from ant-GM to pro-GM Mr. Nzabandora noted that Lynas is an author and he is promoting his book. Mr. Nzabandora believes that Lynas could be driven by his vested financial interests in promoting his book ” The God Species”? and that is why he is now supporting GM. He stated that in our real life when it comes to money, the “David and Goliath story” turns out that Goliath wins, when Goliath is 6 times bigger than David referring us to Prop 37: food companies spend $45m to defeat California GM label bill. If people are about to make a grave mistake and you have the capacity it’s your role to stop them from making that mistake. Recently, we were debating this article on labeling since it is in both contained in the Kenyan bill and the Uganda draft bill, it’s just very impractical though its too late to remove it, we will continue to revise until it is removed. It’s a subject we can discuss in detail if you need further education on this issue.

We were also reminded by Prof. Juma that discussing agricultural biotechnology is looking back otherwise we should be debating Nanotechnology which is looking ahead. Very interesting reads were provided as a link. Please read these links. Otherwise it’s us who position ourselves as enlightened people who are making our peasants backward. We are confusing them. None of us in this debate go to bed hungry but the peasants do. Let us be human on this issue and let us help the poor peasants produce enough for eating and sale to transform their lives.

Prof. Juma had earlier warned that the defection of one guerilla fighter does mean the battle is over. Last year we were treated to spectacular antics by anti-technology activists brandishing the Seralini paper. It was heralded as the final truth that justified the faith they had against the technology. The paper has been roundly debunked mostly by European scientists and regulatory authorities. Those who were peddling it have not come back to explain what happened. Because their anti-biotechnology faith is unshaken they will just lie low until something else that fits their belief system comes along. I add that we do not need to waste time with these ant-technology activists and let us do all we can to promote this technology for the good of human kind and we need to put in place an international regulation regarding those challenging technology since we have one for those promoting it.

Mr. Anthony Bende, the first to react to the defection of Mr. Mark Lynas stated that with a degree in politics and modern history, Mark first became a Green Peace activist. He then turned a global warming researcher through leaning how to read scientific papers, understand basic statistics and become literate in very different fields from oceanography to paleoclimate. Has Mark exhausted publication avenues in global warming and is now laying ground for a new cash cow – GM related publication? I congratulate you Antony for this analysis, the fact that he was not professional and successfully used his skill in publication to confuse and influence many including you, you should realize that this guy was intelligent enough. Now that he has discovered that he did not know that he was confusing people you should commend him. I am looking forward when all of you will leave this subject to the professional and support this technology. However, it will be too late. Some other technology will have come into place.

Good day and thanks for all those that have been party to this debate.

From: Anthony Bende
Sent: Sunday, 13 January 2013, 21:07

Dear Clet,

Thanks for your summary.

Please allow me to make comments on two observations.

Second last sentence:

‘I am looking forward when all of you will leave this subject to the professional and support this technology.’

Clet, that day is only possible if the human race is cloned into only two distinct categories, geno-scientists and non-geno scientists without the capability of thinking independently and asking the W-questions – i.e. what, why, when, where, who questions.

Fortunately enough that remains wishful thinking. Every discipline requires some kind of check to stop it from the potential dangers that can arise when certain professionals in the discipline become are overzealous. One of the handful forms of checks starts with independent mind people outside the discipline asking the W-questions.

I find the very thought of desiring the subject to be left to the profession bordering stereotyping. I stated in my earlier email to Dr Charles Mugoya that not being a professional in the discipline doesn’t imply total ignorance in it.

Fourth last sentence:

‘I congratulate you Antony for this analysis, the fact that he was not professional and successfully used his skill in publication to confuse and influence many including you, you should realize that this guy was intelligent enough.’

Clet, it is important as professionals to respect each other even when we disagree on certain issues. One of the many ways of demonstrating respect is by using a measured approach to the language we use and the conclusions we draw.

I didn’t know of Mark Lynas existence in this world until I received your email. As an independent minded person, I presented my views on Mark’s lecture based on the evidence you presented to me – i.e. a copy of his lecture notes. My views were specifically case- (Mark) based. Under no occasion did I generalise them –please re-read what I stated. I questioned his motives using a set of questions. I believe that any neutral person will both understand and appreciate why I posed those questions.

My views and questions appear not to have bedded well in your quarters and I was as a consequence labelled to have been confused and influenced by Mark! How do any of the above qualify me to have been confused or influenced by Mark – a Mark I didn’t know in the first instance until you sent an email? Can you prove that I am confused? Don’t you think you have used the words ‘confused’ and ‘influenced’disproportionately? In addition, I believe that your reference to Mark’s level of intelligence is of no consequence to this debate.

From: sam nzabandora
Sent: Tuesday, 15 January 2013, 1:10

Clet,You have said so much in response to what I wrote and missed the very basis   logic behind my arguments.

My arguments were based on these facts and basic logic: We have Biotechnology Scientists who have carried out Safety Research on GM   crops. One group (call it X) did only short term research studies on GM crops   then another (call it Y) did both short term and long term research studies.

Conclusions of the short term research studies of 3 months were the same for   both group X and Y, but for long term research study which was only done by   Y, there was a difference, indicating that the crops were not safe.Basic Logical conclusion: “Error on side of caution”, was my argument. This is basic   standard in medicine and Dr. Mugoya knows it. However, Dr. Mugoya knowing   very well that I was right and couldn’t challenge me as long as he accepted   the logical premise of my argument, he had to disqualify Y to be able to re-battle,   and he did.

Since you accepted Dr. Mugoya’s position as pure fact, you saw it fit and   right to attack me since I have not educated myself like Mark Lyna did and   those the Scientists I quoted as follows:-

” *There are a few facts that Mr. Sam Nzabandora needs to know as per   his reactive statements above. Dr. Seralini and Dr. Vandana may be   biotechnologies but are not breeders and have very limited understanding on   breeding. But they are biotechnology entrepreneurs whose business survives by   creating panic to the public.

**Soon there might be a legal proceedings to them in Dr. Seralini. Dr. Mugoya   has clearly advised you to educate yourselves on this subject before   commenting on this subject further. I advise that you adhere to this piece of   advice like what Mr. Mark Lynas did.”

Clet, let me correct you. *I never said that Dr. Vandana Shiva is a   biotechnologist. Re-read my e-mail to Dr. Mugoya. Now, about them being   “biotechnology entrepreneurs whose business survives by creating panic   to the public”, that is for you to say, I don’t know it so I can’t   comment either way on that.

**As relates to taking legal proceedings against Dr. Seralini and Dr. Vandana   Shiva for what you term ” creating this unnecessary panic and misleading   people who relied on their statements and publication”, all I can say to   that is this: “I wish you luck.”

Regarding Prof. Juma, he has a right to his views. I happen to agree with him   that there is propaganda and politics driving GMO biotechnology, where we   don’t agree is on who is behind it and why.

African countries just like any other country, should also be allowed to make   their food policies as they see them best fit for their citizens without   being put under pressure and pedicured by those who are scientists, one   doesn’t have to prove harm first, it is safety that has to be proven before   altered food is allowed for consumption, but then again that would be   agreeing with me that “Error on side of caution” is logical.   After all, it is not the scientists, but the elected politicians who are   answerable to those who elected them.

To Clet and anybody who wants to silence others, I will leave you with Dr.   Anthony Bende’s words of wisdom in response to your wishes stating that “I   am looking forward when all of you will leave this subject to the   professional and support this technology.”

“Clet, that day is only possible if the human race is cloned into   only two distinct categories, geno-scientists and non-geno scientists without   the capability of thinking independently and asking the W-questions – i.e.   what, why, when, where, who questions.
Fortunately enough that remains wishful thinking.

Every discipline requires some kind of check to stop it from the potential   dangers that can arise when certain professionals in the discipline become   are overzealous. One of the handful forms of checks starts with independent   mind people outside the discipline asking the W-questions.

I find the very thought of desiring the subject to be left to the profession   bordering stereotyping. I stated in my earlier email to Dr Charles Mugoya   that not being a professional in the discipline doesn’t imply total ignorance   in it.”

Sam Nzabandora.

In the end the truth always comes out.

P/S, check out Bedsidereadings blog, and fill free to make   comments, you don’t have to have a PHD to air your views.

A wise man once said: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll   defend to the death your right to say it” – Voltaire.

From: Rwakakamba Morrison
Sent: Tuesday, 15 January 2013, 12:08

Dear Colleagues,

Is GMO same us bio-technology? Is the former a subset of the later? What is the position of Uganda National Council for Science and Technology on GMOs? I was encouraged by results of water efficient maize trails in Kasese district- looked like a panacea to adjuncts of climate change on small holder farmers. How about the terminator wilts decimating farmers coffee and banana plantations? Can we find a biotech solution? Like we say at Agency for Transformation, learning hydrates Transformation. I am keen to learn.

On Tue, Jan 15, 2013 at 3:20 PM, Anthony Bende wrote:

Dear Morrison,

We are compiling resources on bedsidereadings – we have just started.

Please use this as your starting point- click Here

From: Rwakakamba Morrison
Sent: Tuesday, 15 January 2013, 12:33

Thank you Anthony.

From: Peter Wamboga
Date: Thursday, 10 January, 2013, 14:49

Dear friends,

Happny New Year.

Here is a new development in the anti-biotechnology/GMO world, where a leading founder of one of the movements in the world, a journalist and an abrasive activist who admits he has been unfairly demonising a science and technology, has apologized to the world.

Perhaps its just one of the latest lessons for many of us, to learn from [or not like many have done already!!] that is if we hold some misgivings against modern biotechnology as a science, technology and an innovation, not against the users, promoters and researchers, we need a re-think.

Yes, GMOs have to be judiciously regulated and approved on a case-by-case basis, which is largely the case the world-over by those who have due regard for the established regulatory measures and standards. However, even in regulated and approved [safety-proven] cases, the antis are still not satisfied and opposed!!.

But please read on Mark Lynas’ confessions and apology, and let the debate rage on. Thank you.

From: Richard Mugisha
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 1:48 PM
Thanks Peter, for sharing this testimony.

Generally, technology is good and if well applied can yield into significant results.
However, technology that has to interfere with food systems should not promoted as fast as it is the case here in Uganda.

Recently (towards the end of Nov 2012), I was in Malaysia for a Scientific conference on Modern Biotechnologies. One thing that I learnt was that, even some researchers at the center of GMOs, because of the risks involved were not sure, if GMOs will in any way contribute to the Agricultural development. An indicator, that GMO business is still a myth.

I managed also, to interact with another scientist from Brazil where GMOs are already commercialized, he told me people that in Brazil do not eat GMOs; instead they export them to poor countries, refugee camps and are also given to livestock. Does that mean Uganda is in dare need, that without GMOs Uganda can’t survive?

As Ugandans we need to note that, it is important to promote Ecological Farming Systems, for it enables a balance between land use and conservation of biological diversity as opposed to promoting GMOs.

Developing countries like Uganda, need to first undertake risk assessment before allowing any GMOs in order to ensure safety of the environment and consumers. Am afraid, that field trials are already being carried out without a Law in place.

Economically, am not sure if promoting GMOs will significantly contribute anything to Uganda’s GDP.; One would say lets produce and export GMO products, yet our major business partners like Europe, Kenya (recently banned GMOs) don’t consume GMO products. So where will GMO export earnings come from. Even recently, said “If you develop a GMO crop in Kenya, you go to jail for 10 years”

Let’s,
• Learn from other countries that have refused GMOs like Europe
• Government to play a big role in safeguarding its citizens for a healthy Nation
• Encourage good technologies that are environmentally friendly and promote sustainable Agriculture without mixing it with biotechnology

Also to note, GMOs have become a global issue, so one man’s (Mark)’s apology is not enough to convince the general public that it is something we should wholesomely embrace.

From: sam nzabandora
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 5:06 PM

Sorry Richard for jumping in, I want to thank you for Thinking Outside the Box.

The only problem is that some of us never learn from the past. Just check it out for yourself and tell me. As an Insecticide Makes a Comeback, Uganda Must Weigh Its Costs

Ask yourself who makes DDT and why was it banned and still is in the very country of the Corporation that makes it. Does it make sense to say that these damages are now going on in Uganda?

The same corporation messing with the environment is the same one complaining about it and is the one providing solutions at a price. Of-course some people will try to convince us that the track record is irrelevant..

Take care Richard.

From: Clet Masiga
Sent: Tuesday, 15 January 2013, 13:57

Dear Richard Mugisha,

Welcome to this debate though quite late. Your submissions remind me of the famous story of the Batwa people in Western Uganda. During a resettlement plan, it is reported that iron roofed houses were constructed for them and when it started drizzling, they all moved out, abardoned the iron roofed houses and returned to the forest. Apparently they behaved like this because they are not used to noise and sound of rain drops on their shelters. Some people supported this move. The question to you is “with this kind of behaviour do you see Batwa people developing?

Recently I was in India, helping the Indians design a policy plan for conservation and utilisation of plant genetic resources, I visited areas of highest diversity of plant resources. The communities in these areas have been blinded to think that their lives are better than other areas since they have diversity of plant genetic resources and have refused to adopt modern technologies such as improved seeds and use of fertilizers and machinary for farming. This community is so poor that even when there is free primary education, they still do not see the value of their children going to school. By the way they do not have pit latrines. They do not even have enough to feed themselves.

What is the point am making? In 2011 we attended a conference in Kigali-Rwanda on challenges and opportunities for agricultural intensification in the humid highland of sub saharan Africa. This conference was attended by nearly 500 participants and I did a presentation in the prenary session. In the end we agreed on four recommendations after a very heated discussion. Among them was the greater use of agroecological processes. I differed with this opinion and I was supported by a few other people including the Rwandan minister of Agriculture who had come to close the conference. Following this I did an opinion that was published in the new vision (please see attachment). My view was that other technologies and options are needed.

Our population growth is ahead of food production increases and every other day we are having less people getting invloved in farming as the returns from it are always in negatives. Please do any cost benefit analysis of any given farming practice in Uganda including family labour? These peasnts will soon realise that they are better off working for some one and earning less than a dollar a day than doing their own non-productive farming. By the way most of these peasants are relying on approaches that some of you call sustainable. But what is sustainability if you are making losses and cannot afford to feed yourself sustainably to the extent that without relief food you cannot live into another growing season.

Back to the issue of biotechnology and GMO. Let me start by educating you. GMO is one product of biotechnology and therefore biotechnology is wider. And since it appears you have no understanding on this subject I refer you to read the emails below very carefully and return to me if you need more clarification on the subject.

Since last week I am attending a conference on plant and animal genomes. This conference is being attended by over 1300 scientists from around the world. Representation from developing countries is probably less than 5%. This is a clear sign that we will lag behind advances in technology. Our lack of participation in this conference is either because we are poor and cannot afford the cost of participation or because we are not knowledgeable in this subject so we have left it to those that know it. I urgue you to try to find out how much land is needed to feed 10000 people in subsaharan african and compare to how much is needed to feed the same number in the G20. We have locally adapted breeds of cattle in Uganda. We require 1000 herds of milking cows to get one ton of milk. Meanwhile in the G20 they require an average of 50 cows to get 1 ton of milk every day. You should be reminded even non-contraversal technologies like the highly praised conventional breeding and use of tractors, fertilizers etc have been resisted in the past and the result is what we see today. It will take 20 man days to work an acre of land using a hand hoe while some one else requires one person using a modern tractor to work 500 acres of land in less than 8 hours.

The people you interacted with against GMO technology in Malasyia are like yourself who has no simpliest idea on how GMO technology envolved and how it is regulated. I request you to read further on this subject before making a public statement about GM technology and risks associated.

From: Clet Masiga
Sent: Tuesday, 15 January 2013, 14:31
Dear Sam, Antony and Richard,

Biotechnology stewardship requires us to provide those who are not knowledgeable in GM information to guide their decisions.

Please find attached one of my presentations I did on the infrastructure and information required by the regulatory authorities before you conduct transformation and before your application for research and commercialization is issued.

Enjoy

From: “Ogero, Kwame”
Sent: Tuesday, 15 January 2013, 15:30

Dear Richard Mugisha,

It is unfortunate that you make reference to Kenya without doing requisite research on the country’s status in regard to agricultural biotechnology. It is good that you noted our government’s ban on the importation of GM foods PENDING SAFETY ASSESSMENTS. You however seem to have overlooked the fact that this was temporary and a taskforce was set up to look into the safety of GM foods and advice accordingly. The taskforce has two months to submit their report to the cabinet and the beauty of this is that it will contribute towards enhancing public understanding of the technology. Additionally, you erroneously reported that anyone found developing a GM crop will be jailed for 10 years- where did you get this? For your information Kenya has made great achievements as far as GM research is concerned (see the attached handbook)- we currently have a number of ongoing GM projects with some of them e.g. Bt cotton, nearing commercialization. In addition we have the necessary biosafety framework to facilitate commercialization- we have a law, implementing regulations and a National Biosafety Authority. You also mention that Europe does not consume GM foods yet 8 European countries are in fact not only consuming but also planting GM crops. Remember science thrives on credible evidence. GM technology is not new and has been in use for over two decades, first in medicine and later in agriculture. Why is that no one has opposed its application in medicine if indeed it is a bad technology?

Also for your reference and the rest of the team please find attached a compilation of global scientific perspectives on the study by Seralini et al. that claimed GM maize causes cancer in rats.

From: Pr Gilles-Eric Séralini
Sent: Wednesday, 16 January 2013, 19:12

See three papers joined.The best.

From: sam nzabandora
Sent: Thursday, 17 January 2013, 10:32

Pr Gilles-Eric Séralini,Personally I would like to commend you for joining this conversation/debate.   Your expertise will definitely enrich this debate. Let me bring you to speed   on this debate.

(A). The Debate and its back-ground:
As African Scientists embark on a quest to solve food shortages faced by many   African countries, they have joined in Biotechnology research of GM crops,   hence this debate.Whereas the debate stated some years back in various forms, it took a new   direction last year with your “CRIIGEN study: Long-term health   impacts of GM and Roundup” findings reported on Sept 19th, 2012.

I wrote an Open letter to ASARECA Board of   Directors, expressing my concerns and requesting that at least   they disclose your findings on their website.A friend requested a profession in Biotechnology to weigh in and he was kind   to accept as replied as follows: “I am going to follow up on this issue. This is not the first time have   had a major controversy surround a single study. A study with such   implications will be thoroughly scrutinized but this is not possible since   the authors have not made available the data used in the research. I will   share what I find out.”

Note the key words “authors have not made available the   data used in the research”.

Releasing your RAW data for scrutiny is not only the right thing to do, but   by doing so you set a higher standard that should be followed by all your   critics.

(B). The trend the debate took and where it shouldn’t go at least for   us:

Your critics attacked you viciously, as you very well noted on your website.
Unfortunately, among our debaters, just a few crossed the line. You posted   that you have already initiated legal proceedings against your critics for Defamation,   which you have a right to do and one can understand why, however,   personally would like to kindly request that you exempt anyone in this   debate in your lawsuit that may have offended you in any way. I would like to   apologize on their behalf.

Your contribution to this debate is greatly appreciated once again. And we   hope that your contribution to Biotechnology will be put to a better use in   Africa.

From: Richard Mugisha
Sent: Thursday, 17 January 2013, 13:57

Dear Clet,

I would like to thank you for your response.

I like the story of the Batwa people that you used to deliver your point home.
Am sorry that, like you misunderstood my response, you misunderstood the story of Batwa.
It could be that, whoever constructed for them the roofed houses had not consulted and sensitized to their agreement. Something that for long has happened in our communities. Doing the right thing, in a wrong place at a wrong time. I don’t think Uganda is a right place for GMOs, nor is it the right time nor is it the right way.

We are not against modern technology, but rather specifically not comfortable with the issue of GMOs. Until, the public is convinced beyond doubt that Ugandans need GMOs. Its therefore, our duty to objectively inform the public what the truth is. A would therefore, like to advise that, instead of concentrating on me as an individual, rather we should concentrate on educating the public the truth which will in the end set them free as well as set free our Uganda’s Food Sovereignty

The push for GMOs is unfortunately using the route of Seeds. Seed is Food and Food is Life!! So we need to jealously guard it. Our lives in Africa are totally dependent on seeds. Are you aware that; GMOs are highly unsustainable?!
I understand that, GMO seeds would be patented, this will definitely affect farmers’ right to have access, save, multiply and share seeds. Replanting would also be problematic, thus leaving the farmers at the mercy of and/or dependent on the patent rights owners. Tell me how this will address the challenges the farmers are already faced with? It would be like “jumping from a frying pan into the fire”

You very well know that, if GMOs are therefore; allowed in the environment, it is impossible to protect community/peasant crops from being contaminated. Even if, GMO crops are planted in isolated locations, the birds and other insects that carry out cross pollinations will carry the GMO pollen from the GMO supposedly isolated gardens and take them to non GMO gardens. So GMOs crops will spread throughout the country and no one will escape any negative consequences of GMO genetic crop transformations.

Uganda expects to take its first genetically modified crop to the market in 2014. For example, it is planned to commercialize GM cotton in 2014, cassava 2016 and drought resistant maize by 2017. Now, this 2013, one year to go. The question is how much are the farmers informed about these initiatives and plans, because they are the primary targets of whole issue?

I think we should be seen strongly supporting farmers to save and multiplying their indigenous seeds to protect agricultural biodiversity for the future generation. This is very important because farmer saved seeds are suitable for their local eco-systems, taste and climate.

From: Juma, Calestous
Sent: Thursday, 17 January 2013, 22:41

Colleagues,

I do not say anything in private I cannot say in public. The person referred to by Sam below in regard to access to data was me. I figured at the time a paper with such extraordinary conclusions would attract extraordinary scrutiny.

I agree with Prof.Séralini regarding propaganda. It comes from both sides, which makes it extremely important to adjust public policies in light of scientific evidence. The GMO debate is still young and we have ways to go. The fight over whether coffee was safe for human consumption lasted about 300 years and we can still hear echoes it today. We are not done with it yet so I think the GMO one will be fought “technique-by-technique”, “trait-by-trait”, “organism-by-organism” and “environment-by-environment”–which makes generalizations irrelevant and strengthens validity of taking a case-by-case approach.

When I published my first book on the subject in 1989, I used to advise my colleagues in the field to start thinking about how they will prepare their grandchildren for the debate. It was often treated as a joke but I was serious. I think I can safely offer the same advice to members of this list, without prejudice to age or marital status. In the meantime, I will return to me latest work on how to build the engineering capacity needed to bolster Africa’s foundational infrastructure (energy, transportation, irrigation and broadband technology).

My advice to everyone: keep it civil! Avoid ad hominen attacks. If in doubt of the rules of logic, I recommend thishttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies Every debate has its Middle Ages but I think we can rush through it quickly.

From: Clet Masiga Wamdui
Sent: Friday, 18 January 2013, 0:41

Dear All,

Thanks for input from professors Seralini and Juma and to Sam-the consistent debater as well. I like the submissions as this shows us credibility of the statements we make. I am still looking out for the details of the press meeting and to know who attended. This will guide my further input into the debate.

From: Juma, Calestous
Sent: Friday, 18 January 2013, 1:03

What press meeting?

From: Clet Masiga Wamdui
Sent: Friday, 18 January 2013, 22:40

Dear Prof. Juma,

Prof. Seralini had sent out invitations for a press discussion on jan 15th, 2013 at the European parliament in France

From: Anthony Bende
Date: Friday, January 18, 2013, 6:59 AM

Dear All,

I expressed disappointment in one of my earlier emails with Prof. Juma’s decision to disengage on the the grounds that he viewed the issue at hand as being ‘tired’. I am however, now delighted that he considers the GMO debate to be young – I am not sure, but Prof Juma probably implies that although the GMO science and technology may be ‘tired’, the debate itself is young.

As a person who is yet to take sides in this debate, I have still have concerns about certain issues:

Length of study

It doesn’t matter which side of the debate one is on. I am indeed surprised that ALL except the Seraline conclusions have been based on short-term studies (i.e. 90 or so days). I don’t understand (and I am left wondering) why the geno-scientists have not considered the need to conduct long-term studies particularly given the fact that they are dealing with an issue which involves food – eaten on a daily basis throughout an individual’s life span. Would it in part be attributed to the pressure for publication?

Certain drugs (i.e. DDT, thalidomide, etc) have in the past been introduced prematurely and then withdrawn later after human safety issues have been identified during their actual application. The scientists behind some of these discoveries often don’t show any remorse at all even when it is eventually proved that they were wrong. For example, thalidomide, a morning sickness drug, was marketed by Grünenthal Group, in the 1950s and early 1960s. It was withdrawn in 1961 after it was linked to birth defects, including shortened arms and legs, and in some cases no limbs at all. Campaigners say it affected 10,000 babies around the world, mostly in Australia, Canada, Europe and Japan. The chief executive of the Grünenthal Group finally offered an apology last year following 50 years of campaign by the victims.

Human safety is at the centre of this debate. The hypothesis tested under GM studies, I presume is whether they have adverse health risk effects on mammals (mice), and by induction the human species. The short-term studies have found no sufficient evidence to suggest any adverse harmful effects on mammals (mice). ‘No sufficient evidence to suggest….’ doesn’t mean that the studies qualify GMs to be safe. The safety hypothesis on humans is only tested during its application –i.e. in the thalidomide case.

I would like the pro-GM geno-scientists to convince me beyond reasonable doubt about the health implications of GM by subjecting themselves to scientific tests instead of using mice. If they do that and publish their findings, and share the data plus the human specimen, then I will have no hesitation on which side of the debate I should be. For as long as they continue using mice, I will believe that they still have some doubt, however small it is. That small doubt can turn out to be true. In that event, I will play it safe and wait for longer-term studies –which like it or not, are a now a must.

Kwame wondered why some people are not opposed to its application in medicine if indeed it is a bad technology. Kwame forgot that the consumption of medicine is ‘regulated’ – i.e. medicine is given in specified doses and if taken in excessive quantities at once or over a long period of time can lead to serious side effects and to fatalities in some instances.

The consumption of food is however un-regulated. Other factors being equal, one can eat as much as they can and for as long as they want. Taking corn (maize) as an example – some people in East African for instance eat it (in one form or another) almost on a daily basis. If there were to be a dosage problem with a GM corn, how would it be regulated? Hence the importance of studies which are based on both quantities and long periods of time.

Transparency

Critics of the Seralini studies are demanding for data. This is fair enough and they have a right to do so. The study has to be as transparent as possible by sharing data. But from what I read, Monsanto a key pro-GMO Transnational Corporation, appears to have withheld data for some of its studies. I am of the view that the scientific community should not only be fair, but consistent as well and demand data from both sides. If the discipline can’t have internal self-regulation which enables it to access ALL research data, how can we ‘outsiders’ be confident of its delivery on human safety issues?

Choice

As a person who has not yet decided whether GMs are safe for me or not, I believe I need to have a choice. For example, when I go to buy food, I need it to be clearly labeled. This is yet another ongoing battle. Why/how can labeling a product be an issue? I would expect it to be automatic.

I have read discussions on several fora where people have commented that ‘you (I) have already eaten GMOs without your (my) knowledge’. This is a fact which I can’t deny. I have eaten them partly because the organic foods have been contaminated by the GMOs. I have also eaten them partly because some food containers have not been correctly labeled.

Having been forced to eat GMOs (I hope in small quantities), can I be blamed if I complain that my human rights have been violated. Don’t I have freedom to have a choice on what I should eat.

From: sam nzabandora
Sent: Friday, 18 January 2013, 15:54

Anthony, Good points. (1). Length   of study; (2). Transparency; (3). Choice.“He who pays the piper calls the tune.” And when you read this article you ask yourself “Is   there a conflict of interest?” That is the very reason why if you watch those videos I linked to, there is no doubt   on who wrote the GMO policies.“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander

The very people advocating for releasing “RAW data” from long study   trials have not demanded that Monsanto releases its long study trials. (that   is if Monsanto has conducted any long term studies and if not, why not?).

Some corporations are scared of transparency because they know that if people   got information, then they would be informed consumers and make up their  minds on the choices that are best for them. They go to any length to stifle   information and misinform by joining politics in spending millions of dollars   to keep their customers in the dark. Matthew 5:15 “No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.   Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the   house”.

Funding Disclosures in totality would reveal even more conflict of interest in many of those GMO projects in influencing and shaping policy , but them   again, millions were spent to keep Californians in the dark, so what does one   expect from Monsanto ant its branches under different names.

From: “Juma, Calestous”
Sent: Friday, 18 January 2013, 16:45

Sam,

The EU has released the data pertaining to this transformation:http://blogs.nature.com/news/2013/01/european-food-authority-to-open-up-gmo-data.html

It only makes sense that there is a common standard on data release and many of us have made this point for over a decade and have made it on many scientific committees I have served. There have been some legal stumbling blocks related to how to deal with “confidential business information” but the key point is the EU has released the data as requested so one can have this discussion on the basis of the best available information.

This field is moving so quickly and it might help if someone kept this list updated on the latest developments. This will improve the quality of discussions.

From: Pr Gilles-Eric Séralini
Sent: Friday, 18 January 2013, 17:13

These data released by EFSA are only in pdf and not statistically workable. Moreover they do not cover Roundup. See our websitewww.criigen.orgI am sorry but my free time is over and I cannot participate to this list anymore, although I respect your dialogue, please remove my name from the list.

From: Juma, Calestous
Sent: Friday, 18 January 2013, 19:43

Mine is up too so please remove me from the list.

From: Clet Masiga Wamdui
Sent: Friday, January 18, 2013 6:15 PM

Dear all,

I wish to officially announce that this debate has ended. We may reconstruct the list if something new crops up otherwise for now, I request that we end here as demand has shown so.

I thank all for contributing and making a contribution as we strive to get a billion people who sleep hungry out of this state.

Mean while the plant and animal genome conference in San Diego, California has been a great success and it’s amazing there has been a lot of advances in gene technology in 2012.

With this speed we will soon be able to know the roles of all the genes in each of the genomes that have been sequenced and unfortunately for some people we will continue moving genes within and between species for the sake of improving humanity.

Bye bye until research comes up with something new.

From: Juma, Calestous
Sent: Friday, 18 January 2013, 23:19

Good decision, Clet. Thank you again for the opportunity to contribute. I will continue to monitor scientific trends in the field and happy to correspond directly with those interested.

 

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