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Get the facts on biotech from several Web sites

The public debate continues to heat up in Sonoma County where the radical anti-biotech element is making another stand — hopefully like the one Custer made. The radicals are facing stiff opposition from a initiative-opposing coalition out of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau.

A Bay Area CBS Television affiliate put out an article recently detailing how the group led by Lex McCorvey, executive director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau is responding effectively to the scare-monger tactics from the anti-GE bunch. McCorvey did a good job of pointing out, for example, that the GE moratorium initiative to appear on the November ballot in Sonoma County would prohibit the sale of West Nile Virus vaccine in the county.

All the anti-GE crowd could argue back was the killer tomato ruse that allowing GE crops in the county would overrun the countryside, and the only people who benefit from GE crops are Monsanto stockholders.

My e-mail supply from the radicals has dried up so I am having to rely on the lame arguments they peddle to the mass media. They have decided — correctly — that I am either not convincible or they know I will print their whacko comments.

However, I still receive e-mails on the subject and recent ones have been civil and inquisitive about some of the claims regurgitated by the anti-GE crowd on subjects like pollen drift. For the most part, people are asking for scientific resources to do their own research.

I have given them Dr. Patrick Moore's Greenspirit Web site as well as asking them to search on the Web for Norman Borlaug's comments about the current anti-GE movement.

There are some excellent Web sites that can provide solid, scientific information on the subject, including the Web site of the University of California Seed Biotechnology Center, the Biotechnology Program at UC Davis, International Food Information Council, UC Biotechnology Research and Education Program, California Science Teachers Association, AgBiotechNet and many others. Google or Yahoo any of these for information as well as links directing you to more reputable Web sites.

On one site, there is an interesting analysis piece authored by Kent Bradford, head of the UC Seed Biotechnology Center. The report notes the cost of meeting regulatory requirements and market restrictions guided by regulatory criteria are “substantial impediments to commercialization of transgenic crops.”

The scientists did not want to toss caution to the wind when it comes to GE crops, however, they argue that some regulatory requirements prudent initially could now be changed without compromising safety.

“Long-accepted breeding methods of incorporating new diversity into crops, experience from two decades of research on and commercialization of transgenic crops, and expanding knowledge of planting genome structure and dynamics all indicate that if a gene or trait is safe, the genetic engineering process itself presents little potential of unexpected consequences that would not be identified or eliminated in the variety development process before commercialization.”

That represents quite a different viewpoint than the anti-GE crowd's “needs more study” argument.

As you go to these Web sites, it becomes obvious that GE crops have been scrutinized like no other agricultural technology. Literally thousands of scientists have looked at the technology and there is unanimity that the benefits far outweigh risks.

Anti-GE radicals counter that the huge body of scientific research that has found no fault with GE crops is all from scientists in Monsanto's hip pocket.

Monsanto must have one heckuva payroll is all I can say.

Check out those Web sites.

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