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[Duurzaamlijst] "Biotech's Generation 3."

On 19 Dec 2000, at 19:03, jim mc nulty wrote:

19 December 2000

RAFI announces the release of a new RAFI Communique, entitled:
"Biotech's Generation 3." Highlights from RAFI's new 18-page 
report on
Generation 3 (genetically modified products that will offer perceived
health and nutrition benefits for consumers) appear below. The full
text with footnotes and graphics is now available on the RAFI web
site: http://www.rafi.org

        ** Biotech's "Generation 3" **

What's in the GM pipeline? How will it work?  Who will control it?
What does it mean for farmers, consumers and policymakers?

The Issue: After choking on its first generation of genetically
modified (GM) crops - and frantically fearful that its second
generation is equally indigestible, the biotechnology industry is
desperately seeking a success story - a genetically modified 
that will have broad consumer appeal and obvious nutritional 
GM crops were planted on approximately 43 million hectares in 
but GM foods have not proven to be cheaper, better tasting, safer or
more nutritious. With nothing to gain, it's not surprising that
consumers, processors, retailers and farmers have retreated from 
biotech bandwagon. Now, the biotech industry is hoping that the next
generation of biotech products, Generation 3, will dazzle consumers
and dissolve societal concerns.

What is Generation 3?  Broadly speaking, biotech's third generation
refers to GM products that will offer perceived health and nutrition
benefits for consumers - primarily affluent people in industrialized
countries. Already in the pipeline are genetically modified plants and
animals that produce drugs, vaccines, and plastics; Generation 3 also
includes Vitamin-fortified fruits, vegetables and grains such as
AstraZeneca's highly-touted "Golden Rice."

Financial Stakes: Industry analysts predict that the global market
($2.5 billion in 1999) for GM seed will be relatively "flat" for some
years, and could even drop to $2 billion by 2003.   Nevertheless, many
analysts still expect the GM market to recover and soar to $25 billion
by 2010. Global sales of nutritionally-enhanced food products are
currently $65 billion (without genetic engineering). The combined
science-driven bio-based market  (including healthcare, personal care
and food as well as specialty manufactures) could exceed $15 trillion
by the year 2027 - the largest consolidated economic power on earth.

Who will control Generation 3?  The lure of a
technologically-integrated $15 trillion system will attract whole new
corporate configurations. The Gene Giants (Monsanto, DuPont, Aventis,
Syngenta, Dow, etc.) may slip down the food chain when the food &
beverage corporations and/or the grocery retailers buy into Generation
3.  Massive consolidation makes it difficult to predict who will
gobble whom in the binge buying now underway. Even the life insurance
industry could become a player. RAFI examines several scenarios for
the "Food Chain Gang" of the future.

Implications: Generation 3 is the disassembly of the food chain. 
Plant parts become component chips in an "agriceutical" system capable
of generating "identity-preserved" ingredients from numerous and
diverse GM commodities that are increasingly climate and season
insensitive.  The practical and policy impacts for civil society
organizations, farmers and governments are enormous and far-reaching:

* Patents and Plant Breeders' Rights could become irrelevant when
processors or retailers exercise global brand (trademark) control over
food/health products.

* The Biosafety Protocol could become meaningless as the distinction
between farm and pharma blurs in a "dis-aggregated" economy where
biosafety becomes a tool for corporate control, and when transgenics
becomes "intra-genics."

* Anti-trust and trade regimes, in a market dominated by global
technopolies, must be completely re-thought in order to protect
farmers and consumers. Commodity associations and unions could be
rendered useless in an era of BioSerfdom that will include consumers.

RAFI (the Rural Advancement Foundation International) is an
international civil society organization based in Canada. RAFI is
dedicated to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and
to the socially responsible development of technologies useful to
rural societies. RAFI is concerned about the loss of agricultural
biodiversity, and the impact of intellectual property on farmers and
food security.

RAFI International Office
110 Osborne Street, Suite 202
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3L 1Y5, CANADA

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