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Scientists supporting biotechnology

Despite bitter and unprincipled attacks by enviro-extremists, more and more reputable scientists and surveys are attesting to the need for and utility of genetically engineered crops.

Most recently, the results of a survey by Ag Bio View came out with the following headline, "Americans Say Hunger More Urgent World Problem than Global Warming." "More than Two-Thirds (of the survey responding) Support the Use of Food and Agricultural Biotechnology as a Tool to Help Solve Problems."

The survey results were released on Oct. 16 at the World Food Prize meeting in Des Moines, Iowa.

The survey conducted for the Alliance for better foods, queried 1,000 adults who ranked world problems in order of their "urgency."

Seventy-five percent ranked hunger and malnutrition on top; 68 percent said disease and epidemics; 66 percent for pollution and environmental damages and only 43 percent for global warming.

By a margin of more than two to one - 69 percent to 26 percent - Americans support the use of biotechnology in food and agriculture and nearly three out of every four adults, 71 percent, believe biotechnology can help resolve problems of world hunger and malnutrition.

Our gut reaction is that this survey closely represents the views of most Americans and that radical fringe groups are providing most opposition - and naturally they attract disproportionate media attention.

Our courts are slowly throwing out "junk science" legal challenges. Most recent was the adjudication of a suit by the "eminent scientists" Jeremy Rifkin and his cohorts, which attempted to force FDA to set special and difficult standards for genetically enhanced crops.

Even the most recent adverse incident heralded by the "Antis" that of finding minuscule amounts of a not yet approved for human consumption genetically modified corn in Taco chips and possibly other items is of little real significance. Approval by FDA of the corn in question was only awaiting clarifications and refutation of some suspicions that the material might be allergenic.

This is making mountains of molehills for fear mongering and political effect. The producing company and EPA & USDA have bent over backward and gone to excess to maintain public confidence through their responsible actions. Watch the "plaintiffs" attorneys go after this one!

It is most unfortunate in our opinion that our national media and even worse in Europe seem to be willing to rundown scientific programs and breakthroughs which will have great benefit to mankind as a whole and are catering to fearful exaggerations and adverse claims by a Luddite anti-science minority.

These organizations play upon this media penchant to a fair- the- well. As a result, the fear monger gets far more media coverage than those who search for progress.

These same organizations distort science through extreme demands for exercising the "precautionary principle". When pushed to the extreme, this can be used to demand zero risk for any unknown.

This could stifle any scientific program in an impossible catch-22 situation.

Where risks are uncertain the same approach is used to demand unachievable safety factor multiples above those, which are already built in.

Demands for excessive surety, i.e., 99.9999 percentile of test results and exaggerating the Q superscript * (q-star/carcinogenic potential) factor used in scientific risk studies.

All this can be used to "manipulate" real science in a particular direction if those making the determinations have a predilection toward a certain direction.

Despite efforts by extremists and over cautious (possibly politically motivated) regulators, good old John Q. Farmer knows a good thing when he sees it - use of selected GMO seed continues increase.

We have yet to see the real potential of genetically engineered seed in the third world where it is really needed.

But that too will come at a rapid pace - If we maintain reasonable common sense and don't allow those who want to play "stop the world-let me get off" have the upper hand.

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