while there are only two more weeks until the opening of ABIC2004, latest
news show that AgBiotechnology will be remaining in the public focus for
a considerably longer time after the conference.
The German government, for example, which is not really known for it's
liberal policy towards modern sciences in general and plant biotechnology
in special, has last week (August 19th) been reproached with undermining
the EU guidelines by trying to pass it's law on genetically modified organisms
(GMOs). According to EU officials the German GMO-law defies the EU regulation
in several points, especially in respect to a too strict regulation of
coexistence rules and liability issues that put the full responsibility
on the GM-plant cultivating farmer.
Though the German ministry for Agriculture and Consumer Protection, run
by Renate Künast of the environmentalist party "Die Grünen" does not see
need for action, independent experts expect a revision soon.
Overly cautious regulations, which occur not only in Germany, are a very
typical symptom of an asymmetric risk perception. While everything labelled
"organic" is per se regarded as "healthy" and environmentally beneficial
by the public (in average), food associated with biotechnology is perceived
as potentially risky. There is, for instance, little public discussion
about contamination of organic crops with mycotoxins going on while the
environmental benefit of pest resistant crops (reduced pesticide strain
of soil) is rarely ever mentioned.
Elucidation of the actual risks and requirements for a feasible coexistence
of GM and non-GM plants and the actual ecological impact of GM plants will
be the major plenary topic "Co-Existence of Transgenic and Non-Transgenic
Crops" at ABIC2004!
The AgBiotech-Manifesto, publicized on August 6th, has meanwhile proven
a grand success. At the time of writing, more than 400 persons have signed
the online version, which is accessible at [Only registered users see links. ]