Many of the mainstream agricultural scientists, especially at the agricultural schools, but at all of our major universities, are tied into all sorts of contractual relationships and consulting relationships with the life science companies.
That's a sea change in less than 50 years.
The 10 largest antitrust law firms in the United States have gone into the federal courts charging Monsanto with creating a global conspiracy in violation of the antitrust laws, to control the global market in seeds.
It may be that everything the life science companies are telling us will turn out to be right, and there's no problem here whatsoever. That defies logic.
The antitrust litigation currently in the federal courts in the U.S. against Monsanto will be the test case in the life sciences, just as the Microsoft case was the test case in the information sciences.
Back in the mid-1980s, congressional hearings were held after we brought this litigation, and held up the first experiment. At that time, I went in front of Congress, along with the major agencies involved with this.
I wanted to make sure that this be the first scientific and technology revolution in history in which the public thoroughly discussed all the potential benefits and all the potential harms, in advance of the technology coming online and running its course.
When you introduce a genetically modified organism into the environment, it's not like introducing a chemical product, or even a nuclear product.
These new genetically engineered food crops are the first wave of a generation of 'Brave New World' foods that are going to have serious health and environmental repercussions,
Europe's strength is that each culture is a gift to share.
The fact is, we know that with traditional foods, 8 percent of children and 2 percent of adults have allergenic reaction to traditional foods.
The American public is not aware that there might be potential allergenic and toxic reactions. With regular food, at least people know which foods they have an allergy to.
The position I took at the time was that we hadn't really examined any of the potential environmental consequences of introducing genetically modified organisms.
You can't get a guarantee that genes are going to turn on and off the way you want them to. You're dealing with life. It's too unpredictable.
When you do classical breeding, you cluster for hundreds of genes in a plant that allow it to be resistant to a particular insect.
We are already producing enough food to feed the world. We already have technology in place that allows us to produce more than we can find a market for.
We are entering a new phase in human history - one in which fewer and fewer workers will be needed to produce the goods and services for the global population.
The other major problem with introducing GMOs is gene flow. This is as significant as buildup of resistance, probably more significant.
What the public needs to understand is that these new technologies, especially in recombinant DNA technology, allow scientists to bypass biological boundaries altogether.
What I'm suggesting to you is that this could be a renaissance. We may be on the cusp of a future which could provide a tremendous leap forward for humanity.
We now have an opportunity, though, to do something we didn't do in the industrial age, and that is to get a leg up on this, to bring the public in quickly, to have an informed debate.
It should be a tipping point, I hope this is a tipping point,
Back in 1983, the United States government approved the release of the first genetically modified organism. In this case, it was a bacteria that prevents frost on food crops.
The public reaction was instant and overwhelmingly in opposition, and Blair was caught by surprise. Here's a man who was wildly popular.
The industry's not stupid. The industry knows that if those foods are labeled "genetically engineered," the public will shy away and won't take them.
The electronic media introduced this idea to the larger audience very, very quickly. We spent years and years and years meeting with activists all over Europe to lay the groundwork for a political response, as we did here.
They're now turning those seeds into intellectual property, so they have a virtual lock on the seeds upon which we all depend for our food and survival.
Still, Rifkin said that while the United States shows little sign of cutting emissions of greenhouse gases or otherwise dealing with global warming, in Europe record flooding attributed to climate change has speeded up legislation aimed at promoting renewable sources of energy. The legislation is to be announced tomorrow. Nobody in America wants to hear that we may be the problem, ... that it may be our profligate lifestyle and our greed that contributed to Katrina.
Here we are 17 years later. Those agencies never did come through.
One thing I've learned over these last 30 or 40 years is that people make history. There's no fait accompli to any of this.
If your corn has a herbicide-tolerant gene, it means you can spray your herbicides and kill the weeds; you won't kill your corn because it's producing a gene that makes it tolerant of the herbicide.
The real issue here is why are some people becoming ill and even dying after they are subjected to gene therapy. Until we get the answer to that question, we ought to have at least a partial moratorium on some of these experiments.
You can eliminate, for example, a Brazil nut gene if you know that it will create an allergenic effect.
A refuge is supposed to prevent what? The genes from flowing out of sight? This refuge idea won't stop insects from moving across boundaries. That's absurd.
What's different here is that we have now technologies that allow these life science companies to bypass classical breeding. That's what makes it both powerful and exciting.
The youth of former Eastern bloc countries can play a key role in this transformation. The young people here can be the new blood, the new vitality for Europe that can help bridge the European and the American Dream and provide Europe with fresh, new energy, ... We need young Europeans asking what they can do to make Europe a global public square.
The public should know that the liability issues here have yet to be resolved, or even raised. If you're a farmer and you're growing a genetically engineering food crop, those genes are going to flow to the other farm.
When we seed millions of acres of land with these plants, what happens to foraging birds, to insects, to microbes, to the other animals, when they come in contact and digest plants that are producing materials ranging from plastics to vaccines to pharmaceutical products?
In this country, the health concerns and the environmental concerns are as deep as in Europe. All the surveys show that. But here, we didn't have the cultural dimension. This is a fast-food culture.
The insurance companies aren't covering that. Should Monsanto be liable for these losses? Should the state government? Who's going to cover the losses? The fact is, here's an industry with no long-term liability in place.
Many of the genetically modified foods will be safe, I'm sure. Will most of them be safe? Nobody knows.
We were making the first step out of the age of chemistry and physics, and into the age of biology.
Europe will not accept genetically modified foods. It doesn't make any difference in the final analysis what Brussels does, what Washington does, or what the World Trade Organization does.
I know quite a few farmers all over the United States who have tried this and have said the opposite, that they have to use more herbicides, not less. The same holds true with BT.
So my attorneys brought litigation in the U.S. federal courts. The judge ruled in our favor.
The interesting thing is, while we die of diseases of affluence from eating all these fatty meats, our poor brethren in the developing world die of diseases of poverty, because the land is not used now to grow food grain for their families.
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