Alternative Agriculture News
For January 2000, from the Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture.
New Wallace Center Created at Winrock International
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New Wallace Center Created at Winrock International
The Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture has become the Henry A. Wallace Center for Agricultural & Environmental Policy at Winrock International. Founded in 1983 and named after Henry A. Wallace, former Secretary of Agriculture and U.S. Vice President during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, the Wallace Institute has been instrumental in defining alternative agriculture in the United States.
Winrock International is a private, nonprofit organization that works with people around the world to increase economic opportunity, sustain natural resources, and protect the environment. Based at Morrilton, Arkansas, Winrock offices are located in Arlington, Virginia; Salvador, Brazil; Beijing, China; New Delhi, India; and Manila, Philippines.
As a voice for alternative agriculture in Washington, DC, the Wallace Institute has provided strong leadership, sound policy research, scientific analysis, and reliable information for the sustainable agriculture movement. It has influenced national agricultural policy and has worked with government agencies, educational and research institutions, producer groups, farmers, scientists, advocates, and other organizations that provide research, education, and information services.
"Winrock International has long sought to increase its capabilities in policy research and analysis to strengthen our programs in agriculture and natural resource management," commented Frank Tugwell, Winrock president and chief executive officer. "With creation of the Wallace Center, we will be able to address both domestic and international policy issues, and tackle some of the complex challenges that face agriculture and development around the world. Our shared desire to help people and do so in sustainable ways makes the two organizations a good fit."
Kate Clancy, director of the Wallace Institute's Agriculture Policy Project, is the new director of the Wallace Center at Winrock. Former Executive Director Garth Youngberg will continue to assist the Center on a part-time basis. Wallace Institute Board Chair, Dr. Cornelia Butler Flora, has been elected to Winrock International's Board of Directors.
The Wallace Center will relocate from Maryland to Winrock's Arlington, Virginia, offices by mid-spring. The 10- member staff will continue its ongoing projects and will participate in the development of new programs at Winrock: Kate Clancy, Chantal Line Carpentier, Suzanne DeMuth, David Ervin, Elizabeth Higgins, Joanna Hildebrand, Lydia Oberholtzer, Nessa Richman, Rick Welsh, and Garth Youngberg.
The Wallace Center will maintain its policy analysis programs and will continue to publish Alternative Agriculture News, a monthly newsletter covering policy and scientific developments and activities in the alternative agriculture community, and the quarterly American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, a peer-reviewed, scientific journal on alternative agriculture.
Winrock International matches innovative approaches in agriculture, natural resources management, clean energy, and leadership development with the unique needs of its partners. By linking local individuals and communities with new ideas and technology, Winrock is increasing long-term productivity, equity, and responsible resource management to benefit the poor and disadvantaged of the world.
Winrock International staff implement projects in 40 countries, including the United States, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union. Activities are funded by grants, contracts, and contributions from public and private sources.
Anti-Biotech Forces Start to Receive "Serious" Foundation Money
"Serious money is starting to flow to the anti-biotech movement in theU.S., even amid debate over whether the opposition is mostly about a scientific threat, an aversion to big business or a wariness of the unknown," according to The Wall Street Journal (December 14, 1999).
Although opposition to genetically engineered food has been primarily concentrated in Europe, "demonstrations at the World Trade Organization forum in Seattle and elsewhere showed [that] the issue . . . is capable of arousing an emotional response in the U.S. too," the article said.
"The funds to attack bioengineered food, as well as biotechnology in general, are still coming in fitfully and are modest compared with the millions of dollars producers of genetically modified seeds have pledged for their own public relations offensive. But what is striking is the number and nature of the donors that have begun to take notice and dive in---from Ms. [Elizabeth] Wilcox's small Common Counsel fund to the mighty Rockefeller Foundation."
According to the article, Rockefeller Foundation President Gordon Conway says he is earmarking $3 million for a new effort that will, pending board approval, include "funding a mediation and conflict-resolution firm to study how warring factions can be brought together; funding consumer activists who want strict labeling of products containing genetically modified ingredients; supporting bioethicists to study the ethical implications of bioengineered food (as well as other biotech issues such as cloning); and sponsoring a global 'dialogue' about genetically modified food geared mainly toward giving the opposition a public forum."
"Brand Name Product List" Now Available from OMRI
The Organic Materials Review Institute has made available its "Brand Name Product List," which represents OMRI's recommendations and opinions regarding the acceptability or unacceptability of products used in organic production, processing, and handling. Manufacturers may apply to have their brand name products reviewed by OMRI's technical staff, after which a review panel of experts votes on the product's status.
Also available are 16 Technical Advisory Panel reviews that were conducted for the U.S. National Organic Standards Board, against criteria approved by the NOSB. The Brand Name Product List and the reviews are available on the Internet at www.omri.org.
Study Links Chemicals and Pancreatic Cancer
A new report published in the scientific journal The Lancet (December 18, 1999) suggests a link between exposure to organochlorine compounds, which have been used in pesticides, and cancer of the pancreas. Researchers investigated the link between concentrations of the most common organochlorines, such as DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and mutations of the pancreatic cancer gene in patients with pancreatic cancer. They found that patients with high concentrations of DDT and three major PCBs were over five times more likely to have a mutation of the pancreatic cancer gene than patients with low levels.
"The Lancet article provides the first link between the most common genetic alteration in pancreatic cancer and an environmental substance," according to the journal. According to one of the researchers, Miquel Porta, "Although the results require replication, and do not prove a direct causal link between the chemicals and the mutation, they suggest new roles for organochlorines in the development of cancers in human beings." More information is available on the Internet at www.thelancet.com.
Monsanto Sued Over Genetically Engineered Seeds
Anti-trust lawyers last month filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of six farmers against the Monsanto Company, accusing it of "rushing genetically engineered seeds to the marketplace without properly testing them for safety and of forming an international cartel that conspired to control the world's market in corn and soybean seeds," according to The New York Times (December 15, 1999).
The suit "contends that Monsanto is at the hub of an international conspiracy to control a large part of the world's seed supply" and "accused Monsanto of giving farmers false and fraudulent guarantees about the safety and marketability of a new breed of bio-engineered seeds," the Times article said.
According to The Washington Post, "the 55-page complaint claims that St. Louis-based Monsanto defrauded farmers when it told them the seeds were safe and that the public would accept genetically modified crops because--according to the plaintiffs--the company should have known that no nation's standards of testing are adequate to guarantee such safety."
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