Monday, December 27, 2004


The European Commission has recently asked five member states to lift their bans on genetically modified (GM) crops and foods. Nevertheless, the future of agricultural biotechnology in Europe looks bleak. Supermarkets do not stock GM food. Regulatory obstacles make commercial production of GM crops uneconomical, except in Spain. In the US, by contrast, three-quarters of food in supermarkets contains ingredients from GM plants and Americans have been eating food with a GM content for more than seven years without harm and even, significantly, without a single lawsuit alleging harm.

More than 80 percent of the soya bean crop grown in America, 70 percent of cotton and 38 percent of maize is now genetically modified. But in an important book Henry Miller and Gregory Conko show that in the US, too, biotechnology is threatened*. An unholy alliance of big companies and green pressure groups has created a burden of over-regulation that stifles innovation and hamstrings research.....

Field trials with GM crops are now 10 to 20 times more expensive than experiments with similar conventional crops. Over the past 20 years the time to develop a significant GM crop variety has increased from six to 12 years and the cost has risen from $50m to $300m. Competition has been suppressed and so has innovation because neither small start-up companies nor academic institutions, two big sources of innovation, have the resources to comply with the regulatory burdens. For example, an allergen-free GM wheat variety developed at the University of California, Berkeley, will not be tested in the field because the cost of compliance is prohibitive. Products that would benefit the poor and hungry have been hit particularly hard because only field trials of high-volume products for rich markets can be justified commercially.

In Europe, regulatory burdens are even greater and their effect is felt worldwide. Regulations that impose rules for mandatory labeling and traceability are a case in point. They go far beyond any reasonable requirements to provide consumers with choice. The traceability rules alone may finally exclude all GM crops from EU markets because, in practice, they will require exporters to maintain separate grain elevators, freight wagons, barges and drying and processing facilities. Costs will double.

GM plants already help the developing world. More than 5m small farmers in China, India and South Africa now grow GM cotton and the reduced need to use pesticides has greatly increased their income and improved their health. Yet excessive regulation is holding back one of the most promising technologies of modern times.

More here:


The Bush administration issued broad new rules Wednesday overhauling the guidelines for managing the nation's 155 national forests and making it easier for regional forest managers to decide whether to allow logging, drilling or off-road vehicles. The long-awaited rules relax longstanding provisions on environmental reviews and the protection of wildlife on 191 million acres of national forest and grasslands. They also cut back on requirements for public participation in forest planning decisions. Forest Service officials said the rules were intended to give local foresters more flexibility to respond to scientific advances and threats like intensifying wildfires and invasive species. They say the regulations will also speed up decisions, ending what some public and private foresters see as a legal and regulatory gridlock that has delayed forest plans for years because of litigation and requirements for time-consuming studies. "You're trying to manage towards how we want the forest to look and be in the future," said Rick D. Cables, the Forest Service's regional forester for the Rocky Mountain region. The rules give the nation's regional forest managers and the Forest Service increased autonomy to decide whether to allow logging roads or cellphone towers, mining activity or new ski areas.

Environmental groups said the new rules pared down protection for native animals and plants to the point of irrelevance. These protections were a hallmark of the 1976 National Forest Management Act. "The new planning regulations offer little in the way of planning and nothing in the way of regulation," the conservation group Trout Unlimited said in a statement. Martin Hayden, a lawyer with Earthjustice, a law firm affiliated with the Sierra Club, accused the administration of watering down protections "that are about fish and wildlife, that are about public participation, or about forcing the agency to do anything other than what the agency wants to do.".. "What you are left with is things that are geared toward getting the sticks out," Ms. Hayden said.

The original 1976 law on forest management was intended to ensure that regional managers showed environmental sensitivity in decisions on how the national forests would be used. During the 1990's, the Clinton administration sought major revisions in the rules governing how the act was carried out. But the Clinton-era regulation was not completed in time to take effect before President Bush assumed office.

The new rules incorporate an approach that has gained favor in private industries from electronics to medical device manufacturing. The practice, used by companies like Apple Computer, allows businesses to set their own environmental goals and practices and then subjects them to an outside audit that judges their success. These procedures are called environmental management systems. When the Forest Service started investigating these systems, said Fred Norbury, a deputy associate chief at the Forest Service, "what we discovered to our surprise is that the U.S. is a little behind the rest of the world and we in government are a little behind the curve." In the case of the Forest Service, the supervisors of the individual forests and grasslands will shape forest management plans, and the effects of those will be subject to independent audits. The auditors the Forest Service chooses could range from other Forest Service employees to outsiders, said Sally Collins, an associate chief at the Forest Service. She said the auditors could come from an environmental group or an industry group like timber "or a ski area, local citizens or a private contractor."

Forest supervisors are appointed by the Forest Service to manage national forests and report to regional managers. Some are more supportive of pro-timber policies, while others are more steeped in the environmental ethos. One of the ways the new rules give forest supervisors more power is that they are allowed to approve plans more quickly for any particular forest use - ranging from recreation to logging to grazing - and to adjust plans with less oversight.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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