Official Magazine of the
International Association of Students in Agriculture and Related Sciences
2003 Vol. 1 March â€“ May Free of charge for IAAS members
Content: Biotechnology 2
Biotechnology Seminar in Denmark
Towards Sustainable Agriculture for Developing Countries: Options from Life Sciences and Biotechnologies
What is biotechnology?
Biotechnology and food quality
Life "in vitro"
Bacteria and computers
Biotechnology in Indonesia
10 Promises, benefits and risks of GMOs 14 Patenting and IPR 16 GM-food aid, a controversial debate
Welcome to the World Congress!
15 Join the topic mailing list of IAAS! 18 Arranging the EDM – all work, no fun? 19 XIII CLACEEA, Guatemala 20 How to participate in ExPro? 23 IAAS and Higher Education in Europe 24 Chocolate and Cheese Seminar in Switzerland 24 The Mountain, the cow and the farmer 28 A candidate for the Executive Committee 28 Thoughts and acts towards a better future for IAAS 29 How to join IAAS? 29 Agenda of upcoming activities 29 List of abbreviations
Other topics 16 Hunger in Africa 20 World Social Forum shouts for peace and change! 21 Agribusiness and Agroindustrial improvement in Indonesia 22 UNESCO Pre Conference on Higher Education 25 Water Quality 25 Natural Mineral Water of Vittel 27 Lights and Shadows: World Contrasts
JOIN the IAAS World Redaction! Be part of a dynamic international group writing, searching, selecting and correcting articles! Be part of the vivid discussions about the topic and the content of IAAS World! Every help is more than welcome!
Dear reader, Already for a long time, humanity is not able to solve its biggest problems as there are starvation, environmental degradation, poverty and war. The last decades, the consequences of this disability of the modern society to turn the planet in a sustainable and fair world are becoming increasingly clear through the processes of cultural globalisation and internationalisation. The wide gap between rich and poor is only deepening, the all-importance of economy and profit threatens the sustainability of the system, the egoism and geopolitical behaviour of imperialistic superpowers dominate the international scene, especially now considering the controversial second Gulf War, which illustrates clearly the suffocating economic and military domination of the world by a powerful minority. In the same time, big and all-destroying wars as the African ‘World War’ in Congo are simply neglected by the media and forgotten by the international society. Still, we do believe that another world is possible, a sustainable world without hunger and poverty, with equal opportunities for all, based on respect for the environment and cultural diversity, a fair and peaceful society that is able to guarantee the continued existence of the earth. And we are not the only ones: more and more people all over the world are fed up with the selfish attitude and the possessive mentality of the current system. Many movements call for more solidarity and equity, for sustainability and decency. That another world is possible is shown by the successful World Social Forum of which the third edition took place in Brazil in January of this year. As students in agricultural and related sciences, we have an important role in this struggle for a better world, as we are the future within the wide range of important life sciences, providing humanity with basic resources such as food and clothing, energy and wood, essential for all societies in the past and in the future. Students from all over the world need to be made conscious of the causes, consequences and solutions of the problems our world is facing, through adequate information spreading, debates and pluralistic discussions, in order to acquaint an open-minded and respectful attitude, ready to face the challenges of tomorrow. IAAS takes its responsibility and wants to become one of the pillars of this worldwide social sustainability movement in the struggle for a better world. In your hands you have a copy of IAAS World in a new consecutive evolutionary stage, on its way from small leaflet, Newsletter and former shapes of IAAS World, as a part and strong contributor of overall IAAS evolution. During its permanent involvement in IAAS everyday existence IAAS World has been evolving through both troublesome and joyful moments and it must keep doing so in order to maintain an ever increasing consciousness of those who are reading and writing, of those who will learn, think and act. This first issue deals with biotechnology, one of the promises of this century, but very controversial in many aspects. It is not our aim to shape your mind on this issue, but to initiate multilateral pluralistic discussions by addressing different perspectives of biotechnology. Enjoy reading! Your Redaction, Andreja Rajkovic Mirjana Andjelkovic Wim Schalenbourg
Contact: email@example.com Next issue: topic: Food Quality. Please send your input to firstname.lastname@example.org
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
Biotechnology Seminar in Denmark December 27, 2002 to January 3, 2003 In Denmark, during the European Directors Meeting (EDM, the most important European IAAS Meeting) we ended 2002 and started 2003 with an elaborate seminar introducing and discussing the different aspects of Biotechnology throughout five thematic workshops. These five thematic workshops were the following ones:
Introduction to biotechnology Professor Henriette Giese of the KVL in Denmark, discussed the concept and definition of biotechnology with examples of the wide range of uses of this technology in research and daily life. For more details on this workshop, read the article ‘What is biotechnology?’ in this issue of IAAS World.
The use of biotechnology in agricultural and related sciences The second workshop in this series of five was reserved for Birger Lindberg Møller, professor in plant biochemistry and Head of Center for Molecular Plant Physiology. He is a biochemist by training, and is interested in life functions of plants to find out how plants are able to adapt their defending arms. In that way, he hopes to understand better important processes in order to design plants which are better as a crop plant. Merete Fredholm is professor at the division of Animal Genetics. She is working with the pig as a model to identify genes that are of importance to health and production. She and her co-workers have been doing research in the pig since 1987 and the first international co-operation around genome mapping, was set up in 1989. At this very moment they are working towards sequencing the pig genome together with China. IAAS World: what kind of projects do you have in Third World countries? Birger Lindberg Møller: We have this cassava programme to study the cassava plant and we want to find out why this crop is so tolerant. Is cassava the only plant that can grow on acid soils where you can grow nothing else? Why does this plant produce these very toxic constituents? Is that a part of its ability to survive or what are its functions? When you study these kind of things in cassava, you have to use a lot of molecular tools, like libraries, gene probes, a cassava gene map. This all would be very helpful to us as scientists to do much of the work in such a plant, which is not well studied by others. If you are able to remove those toxins, then you can produce a much better food product. IAAS World: What are your practical challenges for the next ten years in your both fields? Merete Fredholm: I think there is a lot of new development in terms of technology and a lot of new tools that you will be able to use. One very important aspect for us at least is to go more into the field of bioinformatics, to really try to combine in silico analysis of genes and genomes with the biological analyses we do in the lab. So, for the future, I think, it will be extremely important to be able to go much more across disciplines. Because in that way you will get to the bottom of biological questions. Birger Lindberg Møller: Indeed, you have to combine lots of different technologies to be competitive in the future. I think people will be really surprised what comes out of research the next ten years. You talked about the Green Revolution, but you will see a new Green Revolution now which you did not imagine. I think that will solve a lot of problems, but it will also raise a lot of issues. Specifically in our lab, we would like to understand how plants make natural products to defend themselves, how these products can be used by humans to design a new drugs for instance. We would like to identify genes of many of these pathways and put them into micro-orga-
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
nisms so that micro-organisms produce these compounds. Then we would like to try and hope to influence the politicians and discuss these issues in society. As Merete also said, because there are lots of misunderstandings and lots of fears, these surely are topics that need to be discussed. IAAS World: You as researchers in the field of biotechnology with a long time of experience, do you feel that in those many years the public perception concerning this hot item has experienced an evolution? I mean, are people more open to the debate than before? Are you positive about the future, and if not, all your research work might have been in vain if the consumer says no in the end. Merete Fredholm: I think there are different levels and I think it is important that to understand that for example, you will not find many human beings that are against combating genetic diseases. Even in the terms of animals, I think it’s very difficult to get anyone to say it’s a bad idea to try to get rid of a gene that would give a pig diarrhoea, for instance. So at that level there is no problem. In respect to human beings, they would be willing to take a heart from a pig any day if they were told this to be possible. So the problem is consumption of GMOs and that goes probably both for meat and plants. In the context of meat, there is no real interest in making Genetic Modified Products. So, it is a plant problem, and some of these biotechnology companies try to sell GMOs in the wrong way having brought up some projects that were really not a good idea. Birger Lindberg Møller: I think the dialogue within society has improved in some ways but in other ways there is no change. And I am also starting to think whether the dialogue actually should be improved just because it’s nice that people understand what goes on. There are many things in this world which I have no clue how it functions, I have no clue how the signal from my mobile phone gets to somebody into the US one second later and honestly, I don’t care. So the reason why we care so much about food is because it is something that we put in our mouth. We digest it in our body and I can see it’s a difference, but eve then, when you really try to explain to people, they don’t care. When you have the labels on food, 3% of people read the labels, the rest doesn’t care, they have confidence. In the eurobarometer test 33% of the people answered ‘no’ when you ask them if there are genes in a normal tomato. So people are worried when you ask them, but I think in the back of their mind a lot of people think somebody else should take care. I do not agree with that attitude, but I think that attitude will stay. Because otherwise people would involve themselves a bit more. And they don’t. Everybody is busy doing their own things. You should not determine development depending on what helps each person, you should determine development and research to make the maximum of the total output. And if the society determines, it is based on individual opinions, on what helps me, not necessarily on what is good for this planet. So it is a very complex issue, and there are a lot of politics in this: there are big multinationals, there are a lot of political discussions…
Ethics in biotechnology Peter Olesen, Chief Science Officer at the biotech company Christian Hansen. The word biotechnology often makes people think about Genetically Modified Organisms and cloning, issues that can be perceived as controversial. But biotechnology is much more than this, which we got to hear during the lecture of Peter Olesen. The biotech company Christian Hansen works with natural food ingredients and has developed several products through the use of gene technology. The research done at Christian Hansen addresses making novel cultures for the dairy, meat, wine, health and nutrition industries by isolating new strains of micro-organisms from nature. During the past few years there has been an enormous increase in known sequences
of genes. Christian Hansen’s concern is to use this information in a practical way.
between public and private. The only way to live with this technology and its good and bad sides is to take it into the open.
The challenge from Peter Olesen’s point of view is what to use biotechnology for. For a company like Christian Hansen there is a "business pull", the need to face competition and make a profit, but also an "ethics push", the demand from consumers for healthy, safe and environmentally neutral products. The company is trying to balance between these two demands.
Kathrine Hauge Madsen: It is also a problem that risk is the only thing put forward in the regulation. There is no assessment of usefulness, which could have been a major contribution and would have been a better way to create a common platform for discussion.
It is obvious that the public is concerned about the use of biotechnology. From Peter Olesen’s point of view, there is logic and emotions in the debate. The information chaos gives the view of biotechnology as making "Frankenstein food". The current debate has the wrong focus, namely the technology and not what it can be used for! Kathrine Hauge Madsen, Associate Research Professor at the Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment, KVL. The centre focuses on ethical issues arising in connection with the use of genetic engineering and other forms of modern biotechnology in relation to food, plants, animals and micro-organisms. Kathrine Hauge Madsen describes the work as putting words on people’s worries about biotechnology, identifying ethical aspects and providing a basis for dialogue.
Peter Olesen: One of the reasons why people don’t want to manipulate food is that a lot of people in the Western world have a romantic picture of how food is made. Food production today is not very romantic, it is an extremely tough and profit oriented large-scale industry. There is nothing romantic about it. IAAS World: A lot of people seem to worry about the long-term effects that we can’t see today. How do you defend your work towards such criticism? Peter Olesen: How can you guarantee that your products do not have any bad effects? As long as you talk about biological systems, you cannot talk about guarantees. It is all about statistics. One aspect of developing the new genomic technologies is that you get more and more knowledge on how, on the population level, certain foods are better for some people than for others. If you develop a global product, it will be good for a lot of people and less good for some people.
Denmark had a legislation on environment and gene technology already in 1986, four years before the EU-directive was introduced. GMO fodder beet has been approved in Denmark and field trials are in place. Nevertheless, surveys have shown that the Danish public is critical to the concept of GMO’s. When asked if there ought to be a ban on GM-crops in Denmark, 60 % of the Danes said no in December 1996.
Kathrine Hauge Madsen: I think that one of the problems concerning long-term consequences is that science and the administrators doing this risk assessment have been asked to guarantee safety. Of course we need risk assessment, but there are no guarantees. Meanwhile, there are other important questions to be asked, such as: Are the benefits high enough? Do we want this?
One might wonder where this resistance comes from. Yet another survey showed that the public was not against gene technology as such. It showed acceptance to gene technology for the purpose of genetic testing and medical purposes but was more negative to cloning and GM-food.
Cooperation between universities and biotech companies
Kathrine Hauge Madsen made clear that the public in general is very concerned about the use of GM crops, however, interestingly, people are not concerned about gene technology as such, e.g. when it is used for producing medical products. Several surveys have tried to explain this concern. One model states that it is a lack of knowledge that causes the scepticism. However, surveys stated that lack of knowledge about GM crops does not make people more sceptic towards them. The prerequisite for acceptance would the usefulness, low risk, the possibility of a choice for the consumers and the absence of moral concerns. The concept of risk is difficult to define. One definition used is that risk = occurrence x hazard. However, there is a difference between risk shown as a number and the public perception of risk. This makes risk assessment difficult. Even if scientists can draw the conclusion that GMOs do not represent a threat to public health, biodiversity or the environment, the public can perceive the use of GMOs as a risk. The purpose of the centre for bioethics and risk assessment in this is to put words on people’s worries and identify ethical aspects within the use of science. This should thus give the basis for a dialogue between scientists, politicians and the population. Kathrine Hauge Madsen and Peter Olesen have been interviewed about ethical issues in biotechnology. IAAS World: Sometimes the debate on GMOs is almost polarised into public and private interests. Do you agree that there is such a polarisation and what do you believe that the debate could be made more nuanced? Peter Olesen: I’m not so sure that there is any polarisation between public and private interests. Gene technology and GMOs are so basic that it should be left to individual choices and discussion between individuals. We should discuss openly rather than making a polarisation
Grith Mortensen presented the rather new concept of Industrial PhD Program, a program of which the objectives are: to educate PhD researchers with knowledge of business aspects of research and development, to establish personal networks for the exchange of knowledge between enterprises and research institutes, to enhance the development and innovation of trade and industry. Christian Tangkjær explained the participants of the seminar about the challenges and difficulties in creating the Øresund region, an innovative region in becoming.
Patenting Jesper Levin from Høiberg (European Patent and Trademark Attorneys) explained and discussed different aspect of patenting during this interesting lecture. What is a patent? When can an invention be patented ? What are the consequences and costs of patenting an invention? What are the differences within patenting regulation in different countries? What are the major problems and controversies involving patents? For the answers on these and other questions, read the section about patenting and intellectual property rights in this magazine. The IAAS World crew on the Seminar: Andreas von Felten – Switzerland Aurélie Daudré – France Camilla Ohlsson – Sweden Hannelore Coene – Belgium Heleen Neirynck – Belgium Ida Elken Sønderby – Denmark Karel Havelka – Czech Republic Luís Dias Pereira – Portugal Sophie Rattier – France
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
Towards sustainable agriculture for developing countries: options from life sciences and biotechnologies Life sciences discussion platform – under the aegis of the European Group on Life Sciences, European Commission – Research DG On this free conference, organised 30-31 January 2003 in Brussels, Belgium and presented as a pluralistic and informative debate, IAAS students from both the Netherlands and Belgium were present. Astonished by the luxury of the event – not mentioning further details on toasts, wine and desserts – especially because we were all there to discuss about how to reduce world poverty and hunger, we arrived with high expectations in the Charlemagne Building, knowing that a lot of big names from the agricultural research world were coming to share their knowledge and experience with us. The two day program looked impressive, starting with a morning of introduction lectures, continuing with a wide variety of case studies overwhelming the audience with the glitter and glamour of the biotechnology heaven and ending with an interactive pluralistic debate in the afternoon of the second conference day. The conference started well, with a nice introduction of Ismael Serageldin (Director of the Library in Alexandria and former vice president of the World Bank) who was supposed to set the scene. Prof Serageldin stressed that within the definition of food security, production alone is not sufficient, also access and process are very important, so we must focus on the smallholder farmers. Increase in productivity is important, and environmental and social concerns may not be neglected. He again praised the benefits of the green revolution and claims that what we need now is a doubly green revolution. Florence Wambugu (Executive Director of Harvest Biotech Foundation International in Kenya) was also very enthusiast about that green revolution, and her lecture can be summarised in the following simple reasoning: biotechnology can guarantee an extra income which can be invested and will lead to wealth, based on agriculture. Louise Fresco, assistant Director General of the FAO’s Agricultural Department, presented a very strong, critical and balanced view in an interesting way. She started by questioning where we aim to go, which is to a world without hunger, with good food, equity and sustainability. Biotechnology is not the only road leading there, and should not be the only point of investment while neglecting other promising technologies, especially because biotechnology involves some concerns. One of the biggest problems concerning biotechnology is the big molecular divide: the gap between rich and poor countries making investment by private companies irrelevant to solve the world hunger problems. The fact that the majority of investments in agricultural research is performed by the private sector is pointed out as being a major issue of concern, according to most lecturers at this conference, irrespective their opinion on GMOs. Unfortunately, the remainder of the lectures were less relevant to the topic that focused on helping the poorest of the globe. Some lectures could have been interesting, but were completely screwed up, such as the one of Dr. Peter Hartmann (Director-General of IITA, Nigeria) doing his best to entertain the audience with as little as possible relevant content. And he came all the way from Nigeria to do this! Another example was professor Toong Jin Lam (National University of Singapore) talking about aquaculture and genetically engineered fish. One of the undignified listeners asked the following question: "Instead of creating much bigger fish through genetic manipulation, wouldn’t it be easier and more effective in order to reduce hunger, to manipulate and create much smaller humans that require only little amounts of food? It is just as crazy as your work and even smarter."
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
Professor Paulo Arruda (University of Campinas, Brazil) talked about the use of genetically engineered sugar cane in large-scale industrial plantations for sustainable energy production. Not a bad initiative, but pretending that international ethanol fuel use means that there are no more poor farmers an Brazil is a very straightforward conclusion, especially if you now that the biggest cause of poverty among Brazilian farmers and landless workers is a land tenure problem. We heard case studies from other developing countries such as Australia (sic.), where the mechanised large-scale cultivation of Bt-cotton yielded great results. Dr. Jim Peacock considered this system of great potential with social and health benefits for developing countries as it would be suitable for every agricultural system in the world, even subsistence farming, and he wasn’t even being ironic! One starts wondering whether the man ever saw a subsistence farming system… Some case studies were more relevant, such as the lecture of Dr. Luis Estrella-Herrera (Mexico) dealing with new GM maize research for improved production on poor acid soils with problems of Al and Mn toxicity and P unavailability. The two case-studies of Prof. Tilahun Yilma (International Laboratory of Molecular Biology for Tropical Disease Agents at the University of California) and Dr. Olivier Hanotte (International Livestock Research Institute, Kenya) about tropical live stock management also showed very useful aspects of biotechnology in the fields of diversity conservation, mapping of disease tolerant genes for crossbreeding and vaccine development, showing very clearly that biotechnology is much more than the controversial GMOs. A speech of the European Commissioner of Development Poul Nielson was good to get back to the real point of the conference that sometimes got lost throughout the show of glimmering case studies. Fighting poverty is the basic principle that has to be kept in mind in all discussions! In this perspective it is important to realise that biotechnology is not the solution, but rather a tool, important among others and that biotechnology is more than just GMOs. Besides some strong remarks on the ongoing GM Food Aid controversy, Nielsen emphasised the importance of the international society having a minimum of decency: we want a market economy, not a market society, referring to the commercial products of the private sector not really contributing to the reduction of poverty and inequality in the world. The final lecture was supposed to be given by the IAAS honorary member Dr. Per Pinstrup-Andersen (International Food Policy Research Institute), but unfortunately we were not given this opportunity, as he could not be present and had to be replaced by Prof. Timothy G. Reeves (former Director of the CIMMYT, Mexico). During this interesting presentation, he explained in a clear way the importance of public research funding, the need of attention for small farmers living in poor resource conditions and the necessity of an effective safety evaluation as appropriate legislation often lacks. The last afternoon of the conference was reserved for a pluralistic debate options from life sciences and biotechnologies. However the
debate was interesting, it soon turned into an ordinary quarrel between those in favour and those against biotechnology. The European Community had invited and sponsored students, professors, researchers and some farming representants from the whole world to attend this conference, but one starts to question the selection procedure used as the audience appeared to be one of blind and short-sighted proponents instead of a more balanced representation of today’s society, listening and taking into consideration the arguments used by all parties. Wise words said during the last lectures were completely ignored and the lonely greenpeace debater – trying to bring the debate back to the point – was buried under loudly applauded comments of others. One of the conclusions one could draw from the conference is that if Europe does not change its conservative attitude to biotechnology and life sciences soon, we are going to miss out big time. At least that was the joint opinion of the European scientists and politicians that were present on this conference. Not only will Europe have little to offer to developing countries in the not so distant future, it may even come to a reversed dependency relationship. As developing countries are starting to invest in biotechnology and life sciences, and are creating open and functioning playing fields, their expertise will soon rise above Europe’s. For part of the audience this was not an appealing idea.
An important fact that was overlooked at the conference was that in the fight against poverty and hunger, developing countries is best helped by modest forms of biotechnologies. This at least was the opinion of Dr Guido Ruivenkamp, a researcher from the department of Technology and Agricultural Development from Wageningen Agricultural University. He was disappointed by the fact that during the conference the emphasis was on the ‘high profile’ biotechnology, like genetic manipulation. He also felt that too little discussion was generated on the topic of adaptation by small holder farmers of new technologies. While leaving the fancy building, one could not help thinking where the world was going if this assembled academic public, somehow deprived of self-criticism and blinded by the miracles of super technology, would convince the world that they really can save the world from poverty and hunger… Anne Bruinsma – the Netherlands Wim Schalenbourg – Belgium For more information on the conference: http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/conferences/2003/sadc/ind ex.html
What is biotechnology? This was the first question asked during the introduction on the IAAS biotechnology seminar in Denmark, a lecture given by Henriette Giese, professor in Genetics at the KVL university of Denmark. Since biotechnology is not exactly her field, the dictionary was there to help her remember the definition of biotechnology. But first, what did we, students from all over Europe, think biotechnology is all about? • • • • • • • • • •
Modifying organisms/ GMO's Cloning: genes/humans Medical possibilities Food - quality/quantity Combinations of sciences in biology/biochemistry Use of biological processes Diagnostics/ monitoring Basic research – application Production organisms Tools
food, mostly as a limiting factor on the quantity in beer, bread and wine production. Lactococcus lactis is more important in assuring the quality in cheese production. Further on, micro-organisms are important in bio-control, and are, as an example, important in the identification of bacteria that inhibit plantpathogenic fungae. After the lecture, IAAS World reporters had the chance to have a little talk with Professor Henriette Giese. IAAS World: You were saying that everybody has a very limited or even wrong idea about what biotechnology is. What can be done by university lecturers and researchers to change people’s minds, specially the ones applying for a degree in science?
It is clear that the general idea about biotechnology is not really covering the wide field of aspects as defined in the dictionary: 'biotechnology is the industrial use of living cells'.
Henriette Giese: I don’t know whether among the people working in biotechnology there is that much of a misconception. But from what people came up with here on the biotechnology seminar, it appears that few are aware that wine making actually also is biotechnology. In general, the focus will always be on GMOs. But I think at university level, people are clear about the concept. At the governmental level, there is also some concern, mainly on the ethical issues.
We can use micro-organisms in a direct way to produce enzymes and products or as a tool in biotechnology (as cloning and expression vectors).
On the European Community Conference in Brussels, commissioner Poul Nielson also stressed that we should not forget that biotechnology is a whole lot more than just GMOs.
Then how can we define the difference between molecular biology and biotechnology?
Professor Timothy G. Reeves also explained that modern biotechnology is a broad concept, covering a whole range of issues that require different policies. According to him, these main issues are: - genomics - marker assisted breeding - DNA fingerprinting - Tissue culture and cloning - Wide hybridisation - Genetic engineering
As an example, we took the process used by the company 'Novozymes': 1. 2. 3. 4.
looking for useful enzymes form bacteria/fungae and worms get hold of the gene (cloning) characterize the gene (sequencing /bio-informatics) large scale production of the product;
and actually, only the fourth stage in this process can be defined as biotechnology, whereas the second and the third are rather micro-biological aspects of the process. The first step can be seen as biodiversity. Here again it is clear that we should be very aware of the limited character of the public perception on biodiversity.
As Professor Giese made clear, we can conclude that biotechnology all turns back to the use of micro-organisms, and must be seen as much more then only GMOs or cloning. Hannelore Coene – Belgium Luís Dias Pereira – Portugal Wim Schalenbourg – Belgium
After this general case-study, professor Giese explained more about different organism used in biotechnology (yeast and Lactococcus lactis). Yeast stress is an especially important aspect in production systems of
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
Biotechnology and food quality The term Biotechnology was first introduced by Karl Ereky, a Hungarian engineer in 1917. Until 1961, we referred to biotechnology as "the production of goods and services using biologic systems". Since the discovery of DNA structure by Watson and Crick in 1953 and the isolation of the first restriction enzyme in 1970, an important revolution in molecular biotechnology occurred. Genetic engineering became an important element in biotechnology, especially in upstream processing, for example in strain improvement for fermentation, and in bio transformation. Food production is a good and complete example of biotechnology process. Biotechnology can involve in the food production from the very beginning, such as the improvement of raw material (plant breding, animal breeding, etc.). In upstream processing, strain improvement is a classic example in this complicated step. Bacteria, yeast and mould play the principal role in fermentation and bio transformation. Finally, in order to get pure product, the purification is carried out during the downstream processing. Now, we have to try not to confuse the genetic engineering and molecular biotechnology. We use genetic engineering since a long time ago, for example to breed two varieties of plants to obtain a better one. For example, in Asia, rice is the principal carbohydrate source and in a lot of research for improvement of the rice quality genetic engineering is used. Fruits without grains are also consumed worldwide. Those examples show that until now we have consumed a lot of genetically modified products. Of course, finally, every country decides whether the distribution of these products is allowed or not.
amplified in 2-3 hours to be analysed thereafter. If we extract bacterial DNA from a food samples, we can amplify the DNA and then identify to which bacteria it belongs. It means in less than 24 hours we will find out whether our food samples are contaminated by dangerous bacteria. In food processing, for example in meet, cheese and other diary products or smoked fish production, it is important to monitor the microbiological evolution during the production in order to detect the presence of pathogenic bacteria, or in the contrary , the presence of useful bacteria. The endogenous bacteria that exist naturally in food are not dangerous. In some cases, they are able to produce some chemical compounds that give a better flavour to the product. That’s why it becomes interesting to encourage their growth. The detection results allow us to eliminate the dangerous bacteria and to improve the development of useful ones. Although there are a lot of pros and cons concerning Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), there are a lot of examples in which molecular biotechnology plays a useful and important role in food production and quality control as mentioned above. I think it will be wiser to find out whether a product is really genetically modified, how it was modified, and whether there are negative impacts to our health before judging that they are harmful for our life. Cinta Nuranisa Rachman Indonesia
Molecular biotechnology offers a rapid solution to modify genetic characteristics of organisms with the help of micro organisms such as bacteria. Bacteria propagate rapidly which reduces the experimentation time. The discovery and improvement of molecular biotechnology equipment allow faster detection which gives immediate results. For example, the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique has changed much impossibility to daily routines. A small quantity of DNA can be
Welcome to the World Congress ! To all of you interested in the different aspects of Food Quality, known to be a challenge, both in the North and the South: The moment has arrived now! We can announce the World Congress in Belgium to be the next big international meeting of our association. During the past EDM, the trend has been set, more topic oriented discussions will mark our association in the future. During the upcoming General Assembly, the wonderful surroundings of the Abbey of Maredsous will provide us with energy and inspiration to discuss on topics as there are Biotechnology (as a follow up of the EDM), Higher Education (with the UNESCO asking specifically for our opinion as an international student association), Free trade vs. Fair trade, Europe (which location is more appropriate for this than its very own hart?) and many other things YOU want to discuss about. You, because we are not doing this on our own. The General Assembly is the legislative meeting of our association, and it is not up to the Belgium committee to decide on your wishes. Your wishes regarding our association, regarding the subjects you think an international student association should cover, regarding the social activities, enabling us to feel at ease amongst all those people we will be discussing with tomorrow. At this moment, many social activities amongst us as members of the organising committee have brought us to discussions full of inspiration. Join us in the inspiration-flow, on the GA-preparation week-end in May. The official invitation will follow as we approach the date. But what would you be giving input for? or, the structure of the meeting explained in detail for you:
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
July 16th – July 29th: General Assembly of IAAS in the Abbey of Maredsous …starring: working groups and plenaries on IAAS a survival day in the Ardennes topic-oriented discussion days the Europe-day trade fair, national evening, international evening, sports and games….. July 30th – August 10th: Seminar on ‘Food Quality, a Challenge for North and South’ …starring: Forum: July 30th: introduction day on Food Quality, divided as agriculture – food industry and food policy July 31st: first day of lectures: agriculture and food industry August 1st: second day of lectures: food policy, followed by a discussion session Visits to companies and firms Visits to the jewels of Belgium Lots of nice food. However, there is no need to wait until that very moment to give your input. You can already start preparing a poster or a lecture on Food Quality, for which you will get the chance to present it during the World Congress. More info is available on our website. The subscription for this big happening is open until we are full. Do subscribe today, and you will profit a reduction, this until March 31st. The participation fees are available on www.iaas.be, where you will also find the subscription-form.
Take your chance, and be part of what we are preparing all together! Go to www.iaas.be! And warm us with your presence from July16th onwards to August 10th in Belgium!
Your participation to the upcoming World Congress! Write a paper The ambition of the IAAS World Congress, edition 2003, is not to be finished at the moment when everybody goes home. Food Quality is such a broad theme, that it is impossible to cover all the aspects it involves. This 2003 edition will deal with three important ones, but time and money will not be enough to let every interesting subject let pass the revue. It is also an utopian dream that every possible lecturer will be able to attend the Forum or a study day at the Seminar. Not even every student will have the possibility to make the trip to Belgium. For those many reasons, there will be the publication of a book on 'Food Quality, a Challenge for North and South' that will assemble papers from experts and students. It is the aim that IAAS can publish a book that is also interesting for people not studying in food-related fields of agriculture or not even studying in agriculture at all. Moreover, it should deal with relevant insights in food quality for the future, challenges for North and South. To give an idea what kind of articles we are expecting, the following topic list may be your guide: GENERAL Definition of food quality: is there a difference in North and South? What & how we eat What's in a name: food quality, food safety, food security The perception of consumers on food quality H/Wealthy food AGRICULTURE Food production world wide Biological, Physical and Chemical Food Safety GMOs in agriculture The future is organic
FOOD INDUSTRY Historical evolution of the food industry Integrated Chain Management as a solution for food safety problems Food conservation Food crises Image building in the food industry The future: convenience food, functional food and novelty food FOOD POLICIES Potential of food policies in assuring food quality, the role of the FAO, WTO & EU Towards a balance between Northern abundance and Southern shortage Labelling of food products Organising Integrated Chain Management on local, national and international level The practical procedure to get your paper published in the book is as follows: The book will be presented in an edition of 1000 copies at the opening ceremony of the Forum that will be held at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. To ensure that printing deadlines are met, abstracts of papers are requested before March 31, 2003. After a review and selection you will be informed about acceptance in a short time after submission. The deadline for selected manuscripts is May 1, 2003. The manuscript you submit will appear unedited so it is essential that it is error free. Submit the abstract and eventually the full paper written in English to the commissariat of IAAS Belgium, preferentially by e-mail on email@example.com. Alternatively, papers submitted on a diskette including a hard copy via ordinary mail will also be accepted on the address below: IAAS Belgium Kasteelpark Arenberg 20 B-3001 Heverlee Belgium Prepare a lecture. As students, we are learning to present our knowledge. Take this chance, to present some of your ideas or findings on the central topic. During the GA, you will be given the opportunity to present your lecture and afterwards there will be a voting on the 'best' lecture. This lecture will than serve as the introduction lecture for the poster session on the forum, where more participants will be present. Create a poster. To enlarge the active participation of the IAAS-members to our upcoming world congress, we ask you to present a poster concerning the topic 'Food Quality, a Challenge for North and South' related to your country. As you wish, you can do this per local committee or per national committee. We look forward to a range of posters that will be presented during the poster session on the forum. Hannelore Coene â€“ Belgium
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
Life â€žin vitro" Biotechnology, pro or con, is an issue that can be discussed over and over, scanning it from as many angles as possible. The discussion seems to be an endless story leaving the consumer population either in fear or in restless convenience. Rarely someone can say that he or she feels absolutely comfortable with the fact that biotechnology occupies a bigger and bigger part of the production base, that is energy, food, feed, clothing and even the service business, such as IT. The difficulty is also posed by the fact that criteria of what has been considered under the term biotech are by far too broad and therefore seriously difficult to be framed and for simple minds to be defined once and for all. Naturally, biotechnology and its bases biology and technology are developing together with human knowledge in those fields. The first one grows on the bases of our getting to know our "mother nature" and the second one by learning how to use those generously given potentials. As long as the know-how is based on the policy of giving, getting and sharing there should be no misinterpretations of the benefits of this symbiosis. Being clear, like never before, that the sustainability can not be reached just by preaching, just has to be complemented by actions founded on the profound understanding of form and base, defined under sustainable development. This term of sustainable development, used in so many occasions, could be easily translated into the existence condition. No other way can guarantee that hopes for long and prosperous future of mankind have a solid base. The logic behind it is to talk about it, learn about it and become able for competent work under the defined conditions. It is of utmost importance to realise that judgment on biotech can not be made in a simple black and white way, but rather according to the wide spectra of what is considered under its umbrella. Very often substituted with biotech, genetic engineering occurs as a synonym evoking different reactions in the audience. Discussing parties defend their own approaches, while still leaving a vague picture to the less competent public, whether we should be scared or blessed by the possibility of "playing" with genomic properties of organisms, mostly microbes, so far. Many benefits mankind have already been gained through this DNA manipulation, but it is also clear that in the long run we can not predict how the heredity will behave if the decision is placed to test this knowledge on other taxonomic categories.
lective action of environmentalists and more skeptic population being scared for the unknown effects on human health and the environment. Reasons of both sides are strong and the only issue that may bring a decisive weight on the balance is actually a reason for each of the sides for their approach. Is it really the desire to help the mankind that is behind large multinationals in the biotech business or is it the large profit margin that drives their actions? But the same question may be asked for groups lobbying against the biotech? Mankind indeed suffers from the lack of food (or better say wrong distribution of the food) and lack of medicaments (wasnâ€™t the use of antibiotics to help bacteria to build up resistance, which is also becoming a genetic change, induced indirectly by humans and science?), but is biotechnology the answer or just another way to make a gap between societies deeper, while still keeping novel cures available just for those who can afford it? From what history has taught us, it is a bit hard to believe that pure humanity is what stands behind any of those arguments. The fact is, there is a large potential to be exploited in the field of biotechnology and genetic engineering, but there are many unknown parameters and the relatively short period so far didnâ€™t yield convincing and reliable statistical interpretations. While it is up to every individual to have personal opinion, it is up to IAAS to create an atmosphere for discussions and debates, facing pro and con arguments in the best manner trying to reveal as many facts as possible and putting them into the brain digestion that will create better understanding of the issue, in its overall terms. As IAAS we can work on the info flow and try to make students aware of this complex issue with all possible examples of its benefits and drawbacks, putting a light into the core of the question and that is its purpose to serve the mankind. Andreja Rajkovic - Yugoslavia
Whatever the arguments on this sensitive issue may prove or disapprove it is evident that biotechnology has evolved from a science fiction motive to the very real and overall present issue. Controversies in ethical, scientific and economical attributes of this no longer novel technology have been storming the ocean of dispute. Strong influence of the industry lobbying against the fear of transgenic stuff and promoting positive use of DNA research in curing hitherto incurable diseases, in feeding the hungry and reducing the poverty was opposed by the col-
Bacteria make the computer smarter... (taken from Microbiology by Tortora, Funke and Case, 1997) An interesting member of archaea Halobacterium lives where very little else can grow. This bacterium is found in salt lakes, salt licks on ranches, salt flats or any other environment with a concentration of salt that is five to seven times that of the ocean. Halobacteria are easy to detect because they turn their environment purple. These bacteria can not ferment carbohydrates and do not contain chlorophyll, so it was assumed that all their energy comes from oxidative phosphorilation. The exciting discovery of a new system of phosphorilation arose through the study of plasma membrane of Halobacterium halobium. Researchers found that the plasma membrane of H. halobium fragments into two fractions (red and purple) when the cell is broken down and its components are sorted. The red fraction, which comprises most of the membrane, contains cytohromes, flavoproteins and other parts of the electron transport chain, which carries out oxidative phosphorilation. The purple fraction is more interesting. This purple membrane occurs in distinct patches of hexagonal lattices within the plasma membrane. The purple color comes from a protein that makes up a 75% of the purple membrane. This protein is similar to retinal pigment in the
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
rod cells of human eye, rhodopsin, so the protein was named bateriorhodopsin. At the time it was discovered, its function was not known. Further studies showed that H. halobium can grow in the presence of either light or oxygen but cannot grow when neither is present. The unexpected result suggested that Halobacterium can obtain energy by using either of two systems, one that operates in the presence of oxygen (oxidative phosphorilation) one that operates in the presence of light (some kind of photophosphorilation). The rate of ATP synthesis by H. halobium was found to be highest when the cells receive light that is 550-600nm in wavelength; this range exactly corresponds to the adsorption spectrum of bacteriorhodopsin. Researchers hypothesized that bacteriorhodopsin, like chlorophyll-containing system, acts as a proton pump to create a proton gradient across a cell membrane; in this case the gradient is created across the purple membrane. The proton gradient can do cellular work-can drive the synthesis of ATP or transport solutes.
Halobacterium replaces the silicon chip At Syracuse University’s Center of Molecular Electronics, Robert Birge grows Halobacterium for five days in 5-liter batches and than extracts bacteriorhodopsin from the cells for a novel use. Bridge has developed a computer chip made of thin layer of bacteriorhodopsin. Conventional computers store information on thin wafers of silicon. Computer process information by "reading" a series of zeros and ones produced as electrons flow through switches etched in the silicon. Electrons passing through a switch represent a one; a switch that stops the electron flow represents a zero. However, silicon can’t hold enough information or process information fast enough for such applications as artificial intelligence and robot vision.
At present, the protein chip needs to be stored at .4°C to maintain its structure, but Birge and his coworkers are hopeful they will solve this problem. Russian scientists have made a protein processor for military radar, and U.S. military is apparently using the protein chips in their combat planes. If such a plane crashes, the cooling system will go off, thus destroying the chip and keeping classified information from being stolen. Eventually, these smaller, faster and higher capacity chips will probably make it possible to develop computers perform functions closer to human intelligence, such as acting as eyes for blind people. Andreja Rajkovic-Yugoslavia
In contrast, the bacteriorhodopsin chip will be able to store more information than a silicon chip and process the information faster, more like a human brain. The bacteriorhodopsin chip works with light, which of course moves faster than a follow of electrons. Green light causes the protein to fold; a folded protein is read as one, whereas unfolded protein represents a zero. Laser light is used to "see" the configuration of the protein.
Biotechnology in Indonesia In Indonesia, there are still many pro and contra of the implementation of the transgenic products among the society, scientist and industry. They are discussing about it for several years and they decided to build an institution, namely ‘National Biotechnology Institute’ to investigate all aspects. Often dialogues among scientists, the industry, the government and NGOs are organised. The disagreement about transgenic product development in Indonesia is not productive at all. While the other countries already talk about bio informatics and bio ethics, we still doubt about the biotechnology, and that is blocking the progress of the transgenic technology research in Indonesia. Meanwhile biotechnology has an important role for the biological resources exploitation.
This experiment is prepared on 1500 hectares paddy field in Bekasi, West Java. They also plan to cultivate 6000 hectares more with Bio M and propose this project for the National Budget if the first experiment has good results. The capital for this project came from an institution that belongs to the Army and co-operated with a farmers’ association also administered by the Army. Erika Aswin - Indonesia Source: Kompas Daily News
Transgenic cotton One of the pro and contra case was the transgenic cotton in south Sulawesi. The National Consortium of the Forest and Nature Conservation suggests the government to stop temporarily the planting of transgenic cotton until there are clear and exact rules about bio safety. There are already some companies and farmers who use the transgenic technology although there is not yet any legal permission from the Agricultural Department. They even harvested the cotton. This issue made the society worry about the progress of the transgenic research. Moreover the policy which controls the genetic change (especially about the bio safety) is so lax that people can abuse it easily.
Paddy Plantation with the Bio-M technology The Indonesian army started planting paddy rice massively with the Bio-M technology. This technology can improve the soil texture and increase the rice production to 10 ton per hectare. It is believed that if we plant the paddy with this technology massively in all paddy plantations in Indonesia, we will reach food self sufficiency in 2004. This example of biotechnology has been studied during more than 16 years. The technology is a combination of enzymes, subtracts, and electrolyte salts that are believed to improve the soil texture. After being treated with this mixture, the ‘hard’ soil can become loose and fertile. Another advantage of this technology is that the soil does not need any pesticide or any chemical fertiliser. The Bio M can reduce soil acidity, for example the pH of the soil in Bekasi was 4,3 – 4,7, but after the treatment it became 5,3 – 5,5.
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
Promises, benefits and risks of GMOs Biotechnology continues to have great proponents and furious critics, often pretending and saying contrary things, which leads to a very black and white debate, making it hard to have an objective opinion and even to defend the truth which must lie somewhere in between. According to professor Timothy Reeves, biotechnology (and more specifically GMOs) has the following potential benefits: - higher productivity and lower unit costs - reduced risks, input - better food - biodiversity - sustainable use of natural resources He also distinguishes a number of risks associated with genetically modified organisms: - allergens - new toxins - gene flow (cross fertilisation) - biodiversity loss - reduced farmer access Professor Reeves especially stressed the last point as being very critical, particularly for poor farmers.
ENVIRONMENT Proponents say that genetically modified crops greatly reduce the need for pesticides and hence reduces harm to the environment and to the farm workers, whereas critics consider this as propaganda from the biotech industry, because recent studies have found that GMO farmers in the USA are using just as many toxic pesticides and herbicides as conventional farmers, and in some cases even more. Another very important discussion point is the risk of gene flow between GM crops and wild or cultivated relatives, where opponents say that contamination is irreversible which means that in case of problems the impact would be disastrous and it would be hardly impossible to remove this introduces GM plant. Not much is known of the occurrence of this process of gene flow, although quite some research has already been performed on this matter. Very recently, evidence has emerged from the UK government's GM crop trials of widespread gene flow between GM crops and non-GM crops, and between GM crops and wild relatives. The investigation, conducted between 1994 and 2000 by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany and the Laboratory of the Government Chemist, indicates that GM oilseed rape cannot be grown in the UK without massively contaminating non-GM and organic rape. A big controversy is now going on in which the main question remains why the UK Government Environmental Department (Defra) only released a summary of this research some two years after completion. If findings of widespread and irreversible contamination of oilseed rape crops and related weeds by GM crops is information which has been known since the early 1990s as said in a governmental report, why didn’t the UK Government show more caution in the Farm Scale Evaluations of GM crops? Research results published in the science journal Nature by the scientists Quist and Chapela, revealed GM contamination of indigenous Mexican maize. This "maize scandal" drove the battle over genetically modified (GM) crops to new heights of acrimony and confusion. Now that a recent article in Nature has admitted the role of Monsanto's PR firm, Bivings, in initiating and fuelling the attacks on Quist and Chapela, what is there to be believed? Quist and Chapela reported that transgenic maize genes had skipped from one gene pool to another —with traditional strains (landraces) of maize in remote areas of Oaxaca. The highlands of Oaxaca, Chiapas, and adjacent Guatemala are one of seven centres of origin that gave birth to several of today’s most important crops. To protect this diversity, an invaluable resource for future food production, the Mexican government declared a moratorium in 1998 on planting transgenic maize anywhere in the country. Now the article in Nature was claiming "a high level of gene flow" from illegally planted trans-
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
genic maize to local landraces—a process that Quist and Chapela argued could exert "a major influence on the future genetics of the global food system." "World food security depends on the availability of this diversity, having it contaminated is something humanity should worry about." Even Quist and Chapela’s most strident critics agree with one of their central points: Illicit transgenic maize may well be growing in Mexico. Mexico already imports 6 million tonnes of maize from the US every year, and around one third of that is GM. There are also thousands of acres of GM soybeans being cultivated in Mexico, despite there being a supposed ban on growing GM crops. However, professor Estrella-Herrera says that the same problem al-ways existed with introduction of improved (non GM) varieties), which appeared not to be a big threat for the local landraces as those still continue to exist. These two examples clearly illustrate that the world needs standar-dised, effective and widely accepted procedure to monitor GMO introductions. As Professor Fresco says, we need a global database with objective data and developing countries need assistance to develop a clear national policy on biotech. Another hyped research was the one the British Royal Society published about how GM crops help bird populations. The research compared non-GM weed management with a new technique for GMsugar beet weed management which involved only spraying the rows of plants and leaving the gap between rows unsprayed until later in the summer. The research team reported that GM sugar beet yield was potentially higher than under the conventional system and potentially produced more weeds, which they claim to be beneficial to wildlife. There would be more food for birds in the GM plots, together with a saving in labour for the farmer, because weeds could be left unsprayed until after the birds' breeding season. The research was commented as a sound piece of science that suggests that GM technology could be one of the tools to allow farming to move in the direction society wishes. However, the Soil Association pointed out that contrary to what the media was told it actually states in the published research that delays in glyphosate treatment had a significant effect on final sugar yield. The environmentalists of Friends of the Earth were surprised because sugar beet farmers were sold the idea of GM crops in the mid 1990s on the basis that they were good for weed control and to produce clean ground. Several scientists criticised the research because the strongest claims are not conclusively demonstrated. The system just compares the wildlife impact of one chemical-based farming system with another. Some question whether the research doesn’t show that organic farming is very beneficial, not just removing some herbicides from parts of the field at some periods of the year as GM might do. And the debate continues again. Environmental risks are not feared in plant biotechnology, also genetically manipulated salmon varieties would challenge diversity by breeding with wild salmon. The US government is currently deciding whether to approve a GM salmon that grows at double the normal rate, however, a study of the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology says the US government is ill-equipped to judge the risks that GM fish pose to the environment.
RESISTANCE By using one herbicide excessively on fields of crops genetically manipulated to be resistant to that pesticide (as Roundup Ready soybeans), or by planting GM crops that produce their own insecticide (such as Bt-cotton), pest species (both weeds and insects) have appeared to adapt rapidly and develop resistance, causing rapid failure of transgenic plants. Weeds resistant to glyphosate, the active component in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, are now one of the major concerns among farmers in the United States. Monsanto's Roundup herbicide is beginning to lose its effectiveness in controlling weeds, reports the New York Times. The problem, crop scientists say, is the widespread use of herbicide resistant GM crops.
Bt crops violate the basic and widely accepted principle of integrated pest management (IPM), which is that reliance on any single pest management technology tends to trigger shifts in pest species or the evolution of resistance through one or more mechanisms. In general, the greater the selection pressure across time and space, the quicker and more profound the pests evolutionary response. Voluntary resistance management schemes with having refuges of at least 10% of the fields planted with non GM, non sprayed crops are recognised to be a first necessity to overcome rapid Bt-resistance in the short run. Bacillus thuringiensis is a natural pesticide relied upon in organic farming and IPM methods already for many years.
CONSUMPTION & HEALTH Danger for human consumption of GM food would be inexistent according to many proponents, because the existing regulatory systems have an excellent track record for a safe food supply. What’s more, current science shows that foods made from biotechnology are safe to consume. On the other hand, although it is recognised that biotech foods need to be tested thoroughly, most government testing relies on the biotech companies themselves….Indeed there have been some cases in the past, in Japan and the USA in the late eighties, of engineered food products that appeared to be lethal and passed the control system anyway. As professor Richard Lacey of Leeds University writes, it is virtually impossible to even conceive of a testing procedure to assess the health effects of genetically engineered foods when introduced into the food chain, nor is there any valid nutritional or public interest reason for their introduction. Eating GM food could give you cancer, says Dr Stanley Ewen, a consultant histopathologist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Dr Ewen says that the cauliflower mosaic virus promoter used in GM foods could increase the risk of stomach and colon cancers. He is calling for the health of people who live near the farm-scale GM crop trials to be monitored. Their food and water will be contaminated by GM material, he said, which could hasten the growth of malignant tumours. Dr Arpad Pusztai says that GM food often contains foreign genes and their products that may not have ever been eaten before and whose effects on health and metabolism of mammals are unknown, unpredictable and untested. Although most nutritional journals are full of papers of animal feeding studies in which the nutritional value and potential harmful effects of plant based conventional feedstuffs are evaluated, only a handful of such studies with GM-crops have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Dr Pusztai’s own largely attacked research demonstrated a negative effect on the development of young rats fed on a diet containing GM potatoes, in comparison to those fed on non GM diets, suggesting that the method of genetic transformation and/or the disturbances in the potato genome made major contributions to the potentially harmful effects observed. Excessive levels of harmful compounds could show up in GM foods because the government has failed to put sufficient safeguards in place to catch them, according to a report from The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI - previously cautiously pro-GM), which contends that the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) missed "obvious errors" in reviewing some GM crops. The group said the FDA's procedures are so full of holes that safety cannot be ensured. CSPI argues that the voluntary system of regulation must be scrapped. CSPI also said the FDA cannot guarantee the safety of GM foods because it is unable to obtain all the scientific data it needs from companies like Monsanto, Syngenta and Dow which have all declined to provide requested scientific data to the FDA. CSPI's findings were more than confirmed by Consumers International when Dr Michael Hansen revealed that the FDA has never actually safety tested GM food for human consumption but has simply accepted whatever it is told by the
companies. Dr Hansen says the FDA does not even do a thorough review of the data that is provided. This is despite the FDA having admitted that there is a fundamental difference between conventional breeding and the genetic engineering of foods and the risks it generates, as e.g. new allergens. After listening to the evidence from all sides, including all the UK's official advisory committees and the Royal Society, the Scottish Parliament's Health Committee, composed of members of Scotland's political parties, has published a comprehensively damning report on the lack of health controls surrounding GM crops and food, and effectively calls for a moratorium on the planting of GM in Scotland. The report, which has been warmly welcomed by the British Medical Association, makes clear that existing safeguards are seriously inadequate and there is also a request that ministers do more to monitor the health of those who live nearby. The report also has obvious international implications, because if GM crops are not safe in Scotland, they are not going to be safe anywhere else in the world either. The full report can be viewed at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/official_report/cttee/health03/her03-01-01.htm Genetically engineered animals - which could be in US food markets by next year - could pose hazards to human health and the environment, according to experts convened by the National Academy of Sciences. "We don't know as much as we'd like to about potential unexpected changes that can occur in animals with genetic enginering," said Douglas Gurian-Sherman, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington. The Center for Food Safety in Washington says that elevated levels of growth hormones genetically engineered into salmon and other animals could create risks or unintended effects. This brings us to the following point considered as risk of genetically modifying organisms, namely the unexpected consequences of inserting strange DNA within the genome of a plant or an animal. In their controversial article in Nature, Quist and Chapela suggested that transgenes are unstable. The foreign genes, they wrote, often "seemed to have become re-assorted and introduced into different genomic backgrounds." In other words, when transgenic maize hybridised with landrace maize, the novel genetic material broke up into chunks that jumped around the genome. The implications were profound: Because a gene’s behaviour depends on its place in the genome, the displaced DNA could be creating utterly unpredictable effects. Some scientists believe that the assumption that genes can be moved with precision by genetic engineering between totally unrelated organisms is basically wrong. Genetic engineering, either in an animal or plant context, they say, always has unpredictable outcomes and they are frequently greater than the intended change. This is because it is wrong to consider genes as independent units of information, which can be accurately slotted into the genetic code of any organism. Genes have evolved within a given organism to work in combinations in the context of an immensely complex genetic, biochemical and ecological environment. David Schubert, professor of neurobiology, wrote in Nature Biotechnology that repeated observations in his laboratory confirm that the slightest genetic modification of a cell often leads to completely unpredicted phenotypes. As conclusion of this part about risks of GMOs, we could quote professor Louise Fresco, who says that we need to separate emotion from science. Although there is little convincing evidence of adverse effects on human health, she says that we need an international system of science-based evaluation procedures for risk assessment. Also professor Reeves thinks that an effective evaluation of bio safety is essential, especially because legislation often lacks.
GOLDEN RICE: A MIRACLE? Vitamin A is a highly essential micronutrient and widespread dietary deficiency of this vitamin in rice-eating Asian countries has tragic undertones: five million children in South East Asia develop an eye disease
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
called xerophthalmia every year, and 250,000 of them eventually become blind. Golden rice is a rice genetically engineered rice strain producing beta-carotene, the precursor to this vitamin, and is claimed to have the potential to prevent blindness in millions of children whose diets are deficient in Vitamin A. However, this ‘golden rice’ has been subject to quite some discussion, as a simple calculation based on recommended daily allo-wance figures show an adult would have to eat at least 12 times the normal intake of 300 grams of rice to get the daily recommended amount of provitamin A from 'golden rice'. Moreover, Vitamin A availability would depend upon fat absorption ratio. Those who are hungry and malnourished do not have adequate fats to absorb Vitamin A that is being made available. Critics also says that one must realise that Vitamin A deficiency is not best characterised as a problem, but rather as a symptom or a warning sign. It warns us of broader dietary inadequacies associated with both poverty and agricultural change from diverse cropping systems toward rice monoculture. People do not present Vitamin A deficiency because rice contains too little Vitamin A, or beta-carotene, but rather because their diet has been reduced to rice and almost nothing else, and they suffer many other dietary illnesses that cannot be addressed by beta-carotene, but which could be addressed, together with Vitamin A deficiency, by a more varied diet. There would be readily available solutions to Vitamin A deficiency, such as (re-)introducing into the diet some of the many wild and cultivated green leafy vegetables growing in the periphery of the paddy fields, providing a whole range of missing vitamins and micro-nutrients. Other ‘magic’ rice strains with increased iron and lowered anti-nutrients have been developed through genetic engineering.
TALE OF DISAPPEARING BANANAS Recently, newspapers reported that a global consortium of scientists was fighting to save the banana from impending extinction due to two fungal diseases, the panamadisease and the black sigatoka. They are working to solve the problem through genetic engineering, but as producers are reluctant to invest in the project, and consumers are still wary of genetically modified foods, the consortium warned that within 10 years, it could be a choice between genetically engineered bananas, or none. However, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has denied reports that commercial bananas are on the verge of extinction. They called rather for growers to promote greater genetic diversity to protect the fruit. Eric Kueneman, head of FAO's Crop and Grassland service, was quoted as saying, "What is happening is the inevitable consequence of growing one genotype on a large scale." But FAO said small-scale farmers around the world grew a wide range of banana species not threatened by the disease currently attacking the Cavendish type sold mostly on the world's supermarket shelves. "The Cavendish banana, mostly found on western supermarket shelves... accounts for only 10 percent of bananas produced and consumed globally," FAO said.
Recent research at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines revealed that we do not need GMOs for this. The scientists have developed a "dream rice" that they claim is an answer to malnutrition. The new nutritionally fortified variety has been created through traditional breeding and contains over twice the normal amount of iron along with Vitamin A and Zinc. The Indian NGO Navdanya prepared a register of traditional rice varieties that could supply all special traits claimed for GM varieties, such as tolerance to flooding, drought and salinity, contingencies that have been used to enhance acceptance of GM technology by third world countries.
PROTEIN POTATOES A protein-rich genetically modified potato is being developed currently to combat malnutrition in India. This transgenic potato that is under field trials, has a gene called AmA1 from amaranth that gives it some 50 per cent more protein than normal, including substantial amounts of the essential amino acids lysine and methionine. The potato is part of the common Indian diet and is priced so low that it can be afforded by even the slum-dwellers. Potato is very low in proteins. Opponents of this new GM crop, such as the Indian scientist Devinder Sharma, say that even if the protein availability has been enhanced by 50 per cent, the percentage of protein in potatoes comes to 3 per cent. How will this 'protein-rich' potato help solve malnutrition in the country? Some reports point to another flaw as the protein would be more expressed in the leaves than in the potato itself. Some scientists say that inserting amaranth protein genes into potatoes, and promoting the potato as a protein-enriched staple, is a decision not to promote amaranth and pulses, the most important sources of protein in India. According to Devinder Sharma, it must also be ascertained as to what has been the cost involved in producing and developing the transgenic potato. Isn't it time the civil society questions the wisdom of such expensive research projects when simple and adaptive technological solutions and the right policy mix can make a monumental difference. If only the plant scientists had focused more on the policy framework that needs to be put in, hunger and hidden hunger would have disappeared by now.
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
Biotechnology claims to be the solution for world hunger in which often the link with the high yielding varieties of the green revolution is made, having fed millions and served as basis of economic transformation. The ‘gene revolution’ is defended as having the capacities to lead to a doubly green revolution, with increased productivity without further environmental harm, enabling the poor to ascend from poverty. Ismael Serageldin, one of the big defenders of this doubly green revolution is fully aware that one cannot forget the dimension of vulnerability within food insecurity. Food production alone is not sufficient, also access and process are very important, and therefore the focus of biotechnology research must be on the smallholder farmers. On the other hand, delegates from 20 African countries to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations made the following statement some five years ago: "We strongly object that the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations to push a technology that is neither safe, environmentally friendly nor economically beneficial to us. On the contrary, we think it will destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and the sustainable agricultural systems that our farmers have developed for millennia and that it will thus undermine our capacity to feed ourselves." Poverty is considered to be used as fig leaf for a system designed to maximise corporate profit, not public well being. Even biotech companies admit that the benefit of more food is difficult to sell today in the midst of oversupply and historic low prices. As Vandana Shiva, Director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy, puts it quite straightforward, GE foods were never meant to eliminate hunger, only the advertisements were about hunger. But, GE has always been and will always be, a technology to generate profits for the handful of corporations that call themselves "lifesciences" corporations, which is an insult to life. They should rather be called "death-sciences" corporations.
Florence Wambugu however is convinced that biotechnology can guarantee an extra income for the poorest which can be invested and hence will lead to wealth, based on agriculture. This indeed could be true, but under the prevailing conditions of private investments, research and market competition, it seems rather naïve to believe that biotechnology is the miracle solution to solve the world’s biggest problems. When Peter Olesen was asked about the scepticism of the Western world against gene technology when it comes to the developing countries, he answered: "There is a certain Western world arrogance. We here in Europe can discard the technology giving cheaper food, because we do not need cheaper food, we need better food and we can buy it because we have a choice, but the rest of the world does not have that choice. The rest of the world is going to starve! So the technology can make better food available for those people. That is a very important ethical point!" Most proponents of GMOs acknowledge the roots of hunger in inequality and not in insufficient food production, but the general opinion remains that, even if more food is not needed today, it will be in the future. This is correct, yet we have to learn from the paradox clearly revealed during past decades that more food is often linked to greater hunger. Because lack of access due to poverty and inequality is the real cause of hunger, any technology change boosting food production that deepens inequality is bound to fail to reduce hunger. In the same way, only those methods that cause fairer redistribution of wealth, income and assets, only those methods that are specifically focussing on the poor, can truly reduce hunger. Scientists such as Miguel Altieri believe that such technologies do exist and can be grouped in the discipline of agro ecology. The solution could even be easier: attacking inequality head-on via true land reform holds the promise of productivity gains far outweighing the potential of agricultural biotechnology. Professor Louise Fresco (FAO) explained in a very clear way that our society has a strong commitment to the future since Rio 92, a future without hunger, with health, equity and sustainability. Nevertheless, even now, more than 10 years later, there are 2 000 000 000 deficient people, 1 200 000 000 persons living in extreme poverty, 800 000 000 human beings in hunger. She says that it is very clear that commercial crops are designed to reduce labour and/or input costs, not to reduce food insecurity. And the major food crops, important to developing countries are being left aside, mainly because the investments take place in the private sector and in research in biotic stresses instead of a-biotic stresses. Hereby a big molecular divide is created, and this is certainly not the way that will lead to a better future! A social contract is needed within the society, characterised by an open dialogue, redirecting science to the real needs and guaranteeing access and benefits to the poor. Indeed, also European Commissioner Poul Nielson stresses that the basic principle of fighting poverty has to be kept in mind in all discussions, the interests of the developing countries must be fully taken into account and one must acknowledge that biotechnology is not the solution, merely a tool, important among others. Professor Reeves suggests that research should focus on crops and animals relevant to small farmers and poor consumers and on appropriate traits important to resource poor conditions such as drought tolerance, nutritional value and tolerance to pests and plagues. If not enough resources are directed into this way, the exciting science and technology will bypass poor people just as the conventional high yielding varieties did.
CORPORATE CONTROL Like most scientists, both opponents and proponents of biotechnology, Ismael Serageldin states that the problem is economic concentration, as 62% of global research funding is by the private sector. Louise Fresco points out that science is considered as a danger now, a threat because a lack of consultation and democracy in deciding where to go and how to go there. For her it is also very clear that we need much more resources of public research as the focus of the private sector is commercial. Poul Nielson compares the situation with medical research on diseases such as malaria and many others, for which there is no strong incentive and for which public funding is more than
needed. He says yes to a market economy but opposes the idea of a market society; we need to have an international society with a minimum of decency. In these conditions, it is scary that public investment is falling away so rapidly in both North and South, and it is of primordial importance that public investment is expanded as the private sector has different priorities. Not only the investments are to much concentrated in the private sectors, but, worse, these private corporations try to exert influence on public perception and policies in order to safeguard their own business. In a report by an independent consultant to the World Health Organisation, published in the Guardian, it is described that food and biotech companies would attempt to place scientists favourable to their views on WHO and FAO committees and financially support nongovernmental organisations which were invited to formal discussions on key issues with the UN agencies. They even would finance research and policy groups that supported their views and finance individuals who would promote an "anti-regulation ideology" towards the public, for instance in newspaper articles.
DO WE NEED GMOs? GMOs clearly have a great potential, but the way of GMOs seems not to be a very easy one. The question can and should be asked, do we need GMOs to reach our goals of reducing poverty and hunger, and even to increase productivity in such a way that also the poor benefit? Professor Fresco stresses that biotechnology is not the only way. She deplores that international research has no attention for other options such as IPM (Integrated Pest Management), local knowledge and ecology, all is focussed on genetics. Also post harvest technology and food quality disserve more attention. According to Fresco, short term progress in developing countries is in non GM crops, hence we should not forget the potential of non GM crops. The biotechnologist Denis Murphy also wrote on BBC’s science message board that "...more immediate and dramatic crop improvements [for the Third World] will probably be forthcoming by using the increasing arsenal of other (non-transgenic) biotech methods to facilitate advanced breeding programs... Many dramatic yield benefits may be possible by simple improvements in management practices and by better use of existing germplasm." Opponents of GMOs indeed believe that integrated farming systems based upon ecology and organic farming can be worthy and accessible alternatives to reduce poverty and inequality while increasing the sustainability of local food production systems. On the other hand, other scientists doubt whether organic agriculture will be able to increase yields in such a way that the projected world population of 9 billion humans in 2050 can still be fed. Research results on organic methods (often also using microbial biotechnology and recognising the importance of soil microbiology) reveal that in this direction the potential benefits can be great, by e.g. increasing yields of crops grown in marginal conditions and on poor soils. All this indicates that the a shift in research is needed, to more publicly funded investigation, focussing on the real needs of the poor, and to a more balanced equilibrium between the possibilities of GMOs and the potential of ecology and indigenous knowledge, valuing both for their promises and combining them into a real solution that can make this world a better place to live for all. Wim Schalenbourg – Belgium Sources: AgBioWorld: www.agbioworld.org NGIN website: www.ngin.org.uk Friends of the Earth: www.foei.org Food First: www.foodfirst.org AG Biotech Infonet: www.biotech-info.net Future Harvest: www.futureharvest.org
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
Patenting and Intellectual Property Rights "I've taught patent law for most of the past 20 years, and during that time, my course has increasingly concerned genetic and other biotechnology patents. The first time you expose law students or lawyers without any background in the topic to the idea that you can actually patent genes, they all have the same reaction: 'You've got to be kidding! You can't do that.'" Dr. John M. Conley, professor of law at University of North Carolina In Denmark, on the Biotechnology Seminar of IAAS, a very comprehensive and interesting lecture was given by Jesper Levin. In our society the main goal is to make as much profit as possible, and to reach this we need some new products, inventions. But what happens when we find something new? Our invention will be copied as soon as it gets on the market. So we need some tools to protect our inventions from being copied, and the best tool for that is patenting! Of course not everything can be patented. There are tree basic criteria for patentability. An invention must be: - novel - associated with an inventive step - subject to industrial applicability It takes about approximately 3 years from the invention until you can get a patent. That is not a short time and it is not cheap either, it costs about 100 000 to 200 000 euros. Another fact is that the patent is only valid in the countries in which the invention has been applied for. Major differences exist between patent laws in different countries. Although efforts are being done on the international level by institutions such as the VIPO, these difference still lead to many problems, especially between the European Union and the USA. In some countries, people still use and commercialise patented invention, but are not allowed to export it to other countries. So, on the first sight everything seems fine with this patenting system. But there are still a lot of problems: - Who says what should be patented? There are several inventions which should be open for everybody and not only for the people who invented it or the people who can afford to pay! - Not every country respects the patents - Third world countries should not be kept out - There is much to do about patents on traditional crops and indigenous knowledge.
Biopiracy "History has many records of crimes against humanity, which were also justified by dominant commercial interests and governments of the day... Today, patenting of life forms and the genetic engineering which it stimulates, is being justified on the grounds that it will benefit society, especially the poor, by providing better and more food and medicine. But in fact, by monopolising the 'raw' biological materials, the development of other options is deliberately blocked. Farmers therefore, become totally dependent on the corporations for seeds". Professor Wangari Mathai of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. Patents are supposed to be granted only for new inventions on the basis of novelty and non-obviousness. When dealing with indigenous knowledge and use, it is clear that these are no new inventions, but have been developed through centuries by groups of people. Companies discovering this indigenous use still are allowed to patent these discoveries, invented by indigenous people, monopolise it and make huge profits, a practise often referred to as biopiracy. Dr. Vandana Shiva of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in India says that biopiracy and patenting of indigenous knowledge is a double theft because first it allows theft of creativity and innovation, and secondly, the exclusive rights established by patents steal economic options of everyday survival on the basis of our indigenous biodiversity and indigenous knowledge. Overtime, the patents
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
can be used to create monopolies and make everyday products highly priced. Most scientists recognise overaggressive patenting and the current legislation on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) as major concern when it comes to access to seeds and technology by the poor. Professor Fresco (FAO) says that, although IPR are needed for innovation, the distinction between invention and discovery is blurred and not enough attention is paid to farmersâ€™ rights. Professor Reeves considers IPR as a major barrier to getting better investment and use of technology in the developing world. Sometimes it is suggested that biopiracy happens because indigenous knowledge is not documented, but systematically documented knowledge as in India even makes piracy easier. Local knowledge as held orally by indigenous communities deserves to be recognised as collective, cumulative innovation. Vandana Shiva writes that if a patent system systematically rewards piracy and fails to honestly apply criteria of novelty and non-obviousness in the granting of patents related to indigenous knowledge then the system is flawed, and it needs to be changed. It cannot be the basis of granting patents or establishing exclusive marketing rights. She opinions that the protection of diverse knowledge systems requires a diversity of IPR systems, including systems which do not reduce knowledge and innovation to private property for monopolistic profits. Systems of common property in knowledge need to be evolved for preserving the integrity of indigenous knowledge systems on the basis of which our every day survival is based. Recently the European Union proposed that companies seeking patents should say where they found any natural product they are appropriating, so as to allow indigenous peoples to share in profits. Poor farmers should be free to continue their traditional practice of saving and exchanging seeds, even the ones already patented. The proposals will be discussed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Andreas von Felten â€“ Switzerland Wim Schalenbourg â€“ Belgium
Join the IAAS Topic Mailing List! IAAS@listserv.cc.kuleuven.ac.be Despite of all efforts in the past, the major world problems are not solved at all. Millions of persons still do not have access to basic rights such as food, housing, education and basic medical assistance. The enormous gap between North and South, and between rich and poor both in North and South, still gets bigger every day. Even worse, now in this globalising world, economic growth and profit is considered as being more important than the situation of the majority of the world. Although we are warned by climate changes, natural disasters and the greenhouse effect, economic urge dominates our environmental conscience. We, the students of agriculture and related sciences of today, are the future responsible people on the international, national and local level in the areas of agriculture, food safety and food security, biotechnology, environmental conservation, forestry, agricultural economics, food policies, sustainable development, etc.
That’s why it is of utmost importance that IAAS encourages students from the whole world to discuss about these topics and therefore this mailing list exists. Subscribe to the mailing list by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org In the message body you write: subscribe IAAS ‘your first name’ ‘your last name’ If something is going on in your country, don’t hesitate to tell it to the rest of the world. We want everybody to send interesting articles and news to this list. A selection of contributions to this list will be published in IAAS World.
As international student association it is the responsibility of IAAS to inform students from the whole world about what is happening. Students have to be aware of the world problems and of the consequences of the current situation, so that these students have a good vision on the world situation, and will contribute to a better world, in their future professional life.
Transcript of role play on the IAAS Biotech Seminar in Denmark A Biotech-company developing Nutrifood to a poor farmer in a developing world: "In your time of need we have come to offer you new solutions to an old problem. Accept our modified seeds, and your diet will be enriched with the needed vitamins and minerals. Also we offer you seeds that can grow in places, where now nothing is grown. Our technology will make agricultural produce more efficient, also for you!" Poor farmer: "I do not understand your technology, but it sounds interesting. My children are starving; this is my first and most important problem. Although, to my grandfather has been made the same promise, and to my father, and now to me. But never any real improvement has come to our life’s...What is different this time?" Greenpeace to the poor farmer: "Nothing is different time! For years there has been a global excess of food production: the problem lies with the distribution. This is the area where our energies and money should be focussed on! The United Nations should be held respon-sible for coordinating the worldwide food distribution. Biotech in food production is just another fata morgana, which wrongfully proclaims to have (amongst others) new solutions to the problem of world hunger. It does nothing to aid worldwide distribution of agricultural produce." American farmer: "Come on; let’s be realistic now. The alternative for you is starvation. Let us help you: you can trust us. We are producing and eating the same produce. We believe in this technology! It is a scientific breakthrough, with a lot of potential to bring solutions to existing and future problems." A European consumer concerned about the risks of biotechnology, to the company: "What about the risks? Is this all just one big experiment? Show us results of short-term risk assessments! And what can you say about the long term? What guarantees can you give? And how will you manage the problem, if GM produce proves on the long term to be a hazard to human health and to the environment?"
Greenpeace: "Your technologies will only lead to an increase in production in those areas where the farmers can afford your technologies. And above that, the extra produce will lead to lower prices, only worsening the position of small farmers in developing countries." Poor farmer: "Well, food prices are not my main concern. Most of my produce, I use for me and my family. An increase in production is my first priority." Biotech company to poor farmer: "In that way this new technology can even offer new means to development. Without food security, there will never be any development. Of course, nothing comes for free; we also need to survive in an open market. But where the money comes from, we do not care, as long as every player on the market faces the same rules. If you want, with the help of your NGOs, you can make this a political issue." Poor farmer: "This sounds a little bit too familiar. You are all pointing to each other to take responsibility, and I am left empty handed. I do not have any money. Not yesterday, not now, not tomorrow. I need my self sustainability: who will help me?" European consumer: "Be aware also, that we are very concerned about these new technologies. And we do have alternatives. Once third world countries accept GM food aid, we fear their GM free status. Without guarantees, these countries will probably loose the European market." Anne Bruinsma – the Netherlands
Biotech Company: "Of course, never any watertight guarantee can be given when a new technology is introduced. But we provide a case to case risk assessment, and at any time we regard the going regulation. Why is it so hard to believe that maybe the safest and most efficient way to produce food is with the aid of laboratory work?"
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
GM FOOD AID: A CONTROVERSIAL DEBATE The food crisis in Southern Africa is still deepening and attention focuses on the highly polarised political debate whether the recipients of aid should accept unsegregated genetically modified maize. Most countries have accepted the GM food but countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe are reluctant to take seed which, if planted, may affect both the environment and future food exports. Milling the seed would remove these risks, if not the possible health impacts, but takes time and costs money. The US, the largest food aid donor in the region, is being accused of taking advantage of the crisis to dump unwanted GM food on Africa. Meanwhile the World Food Programme (WFP) has had to admit that it has been shipping unsegregated GM 'contaminated' food aid to the region for years. On the other hand, many question whether it is acceptable that European skepticism to GM crops causes starvation in the developing world because it influences these countries in their decision not to accept GM food aid. Ambassador Hall (US Ambassador to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies) remarked that African leaders who reject genetically engineered food aid should be tried "for the highest crimes against humanity in the highest courts of the world." A number of governments and organisations from USAID to the WHO have been putting pressure on Southern African governments to accept GM food aid saying the choice is either take the food or watch your people starve. But others are questioning this emotive stance arguing either that sufficient non GM food aid could be sourced locally in time or that non GM grain is available from the US. Despite the fixation on maize brought about by its promotion during the Green Revolution, the Zambian government says there are more than enough traditional grains to feed the hungry, including a surplus of over 300 000 tonnes of cassava ''crying out'' for a market.
The biggest concerns are not just the health risks to the hungry in Africa, but more the real fear that if GM grain is planted it will contaminate domestic varieties of maize. This could have serious long term environmental and food security implications in the region. It could affect export towards Europe and therefore limit future trade prospects. Internationally the Cartegena (Bio safety) Protocol enshrines the sovereign right of countries to be informed of, and to take precautionary decisions on, imports of GMOs. But there are problems with this. There is a potential conflict here with WTO trade rules and there are questions over the capacity of these countries to effectively develop and implement bio safety regulation at all levels. Finally precautionary decisions require a lengthy process of scientific risk assessment and testing which is incompatible with emergency situations. In the US media, the rumour was spread that "environmental radicals and the European Union are screaming 'genetic pollution' and threatening to withdraw aid and ban agricultural exports from any countries that plant or distribute the [GM] grains." In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, denying that either the EU, or member states, have ever made their aid for African countries contingent on those nations banning GM crops, EU Trade Commissioner Lamy accused the US of using its foreign aid programme as a means to "dispose of its genetically modified crop surpluses. The simple solution is for the US to behave as a real aid donor," he said. European Development Commissioner Poul Nielson waded in with, "This very negative lie has been circulated and repeated recently by [US Trade Representative] Robert Zoellick." Nielson told the EC conference in Brussels that he wanted to propose a deal to the Americans which would create a more normal situation. "The deal would be this: if the Americans would stop lying about us, we would stop telling the truth about them." Wim Schalenbourg â€“ Belgium
The debate turns more and more into a war between US and EU, as lately EU trade commissioner Lamy hit out in an interview with Newsweek: "Zambia is a sovereign country and makes its own decisions. Zambians do not need to be heroic to assert their sov reignty... GM-free supplies are available in surplus in southern Africa. Europe's policy is to provide food aid procured in the region, rather than as a means of disposing of domestic stocks."
HUNGER IN AFRICA "With some 780 million people suffering from chronic hunger worldwide, and with 40 million people at risk of starvation on the African continent alone, it is ironic that the people with the power and financial resources to do something about it are feasting 21 times a week. They are themselves dying, succumbing to the diseases that once afflicted only overindulgent kings and queens." Jackie Alan Giuliano http://ens-news.com/ens/dec2002/2002-12-06g.asp
The state of Food Insecurity in the World (FAO, 2001) What is the progress the community of nations is making towards the World Food Summitâ€™s goal of reducing by half the number of undernourished people in the world? Progress is being made in providing greater access to food, but it is not nearly sufficient to meet the 2015 target. In updating its estimates of the number of hungry people around the world, FAO now finds that 815 million people do not have enough to eat â€“ 777 million in developing countries, and a total of 38 million in industrialised and transition countries. Again, this represents only a modest reduction in the numbers recorded in the previous years (1999, 2000). During the period between the Summit baseline (1990-92) and the latest estimate (1997-99), FAO concludes that the aggregate decrease in the number of undernourished people has been 6 million a year. In order to reach the numerical target set for 2015, it will be necessary to cut the rolls of undernourished by 22 million a year.
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
With each year that passes, it is becoming clear that a "business as usual" approach will not suffice to meet the set target. Where there is a will, there is a way, as it can be seen from the fact that some countries managed to reduce their undernourished at much faster rates than others. But, it is not only a will that matters. The African food crisis is still aggravating, while their is little reaction from the rest of the world. There are about 40 million people at risk of starvation on the continent, which makes Africa facing an immense hunger crisis that threatens peace and security. These food shortages in southern Africa are "the world's worst humanitarian crisis in years". As governments, international agencies and NGOs struggle to save lives and livelihoods, there is concern that unless the causes are identified and tackled, the current crisis will not be the last. The hunger situation in the third world especially Africa has reached a disturbing state. Many households are unable to provide adequate nutritious food for all family members, which has led to increasing malnutrition, and especially childhood malnutrition. Its consequences, such as wasting and stunting, are widespread because of poor diet, short birth intervals and rampant diseases.
Aids and hunger As a result of HIV, the worst-hit African countries have undergone a social breakdown that is now reaching a new level: African societies'
capacity to resist famine is fast eroding. Hunger and disease have begun reinforcing each other. As daunting as the prospect is, we will have to fight them together, or we will succeed against neither.
Food Insecurity and Food Quality Human beings can not survive for long period of time without food. Food is very important requirements of life. But the quality of food that is being consumed by individuals is of more importance than the quantity of the food itself. Food quality has been perceived to be a ''complex term'' without a general universal definition. However, food quality can be determined by the constituents of the food and the constituents refer to be nutrients available in the food items, which are necessary for proper growth and healthy maintenance of the human body. The hunger situation in Nigeria can be traced commensurately with the household food insecurity that can be defined as the lack of access at all times to a sufficient quantity and quality of safe and nutritious food for an active and healthy life. For instance, a nutrition survey conducted by the Nigerian government and UNICEF in 1993 revealed that Kano state in the northern savannah zone of the country was facing worsening food insecurity . It had the highest prevalence in the country of stunting and chronic malnutrition among children under 5 years of age, and alarming statistics for micronutrient deficiencies of iron, vitamin A and iodine in both adults and children. As a result of deficient food quality in Nigeria, there are rampant cases of kwashiorkor, malnutrition, oedema, retarded and stunted growth especially in infants.
Poor leadership The major cause of acute hunger situation in Africa can easily be traced to poor leadership styles on the continent. The corruption index of most governments on the continent is very high and the after effect is easily identified on the faces of the common man on the street. Most African leaders enjoy "sit -tightism" in which they find it hard to relinquish power even through the ballot box even when it is glaring that they've lost election! For example, Nigeria has abundance of land, oil and natural resources, but many of its people are still very poor .Why? Your guess is as good as mine. Nigeria earned almost U .S $ 200 billion between 1970 and 1990 from oil alone, but this has made little impact on the welfare of the people. Nigeria's oil wealth has not been wisely invested to provide a sustainable stream of benefits to the poor. Education and health ser-vice, which grew rapidly in 1973 - 83, started to decline in the mid - 1980s with falling government revenues. Do I need to link government's poor economic policies and corruption to the decline in quality of services, which had a huge negative impact on human development and welfare?
Poor education Another contributory factor to hunger problem in Africa is illiteracy. For example, Nigerians are not receiving good quality and job related education which results in low educational achievement in general and low literacy rate, especially for women, hindering capital development and economic growth. Gross enrolment for primary school fell from 93 percent in 1982 - 83 to 78 percent in 1990 - 1991 according to FOS and this was over ten years ago. More than 20 percent of primary school aged children and 80 percent of secondary school aged children are not enrolled in schools. Of those enrolled, no more than half complete primary school and only half of them continue to secondary education. In the northern part of Nigeria, Koranic schools attract more attendance but, for cultural reasons, girls are seldom enrolled in any school! The declining rate is still visible up till today.
Devaluation, inflation and the effect of overpopulation The acts of lowering the exchange value of a currency by lowering the number of units of a foreign currency required to buy the same unit of the local currency known as devaluation is also another cause of food crisis in the country and continent as a whole. The purchasing power or the number of local currency required to buy the same amount of goods and service a foreign currency would buy is lowered by the devaluation which put the bulk of the population in the country below the poverty line. The increase in the amount of money needed to purchase the same basket of goods and services as time passes by also known as inflation is another major cause of food crisis in the continent. The increase is generally reflected in a sharp increase in the price level and the cost of living. Irrespective of the problems highlighted above, the problem of overpopulation is still rampant in most African countries, which does stress the lean resources and directly or indirectly lowers the GNP (Gross National Product ) per capita.
Students and famine It has been observed also in university environments that an average student can not afford to eat three-square meal in a day, without even considering the nutrition level of the meal. The devastating occurrence of this situation is due to money constraints, the university management authority and the state of the nation economy as a whole. This situation has affected adversely the physical fitness and consequently academic performance of university students. There is no way the students in the country especially those in tertiary institution and universities will not be affected since they all live in the country. The majority of the students depend on their family and relatives for funding and if the family and relatives can be affected by food problems owing to the above reasons, what does one expect in terms of the dependant? If a student cannot feed nutritiously and quantitatively how can he or she be viable in his or her academic work? An average tertiary student in the country sometimes go as low as engaging in odd jobs in order to make ends meet! Sometimes it is not impossible to find some female students prostituting! What an alarming situation!? The students have been and will continue to be the major constituent of the forces against the government's anti - people policies. The students organise themselves in protests against all policies that are not favourable for the average man on the street. Although in Nigeria these protests had a lot of stiff opposition from the government in the past owing to the fact the government of the day then was a dictatorial military one, now there is light at the end of the tunnel since the country has a democratically elected government in place. The students have been active in the past and are still engaged in information spreading, discussions, debates and voluntary help. Andreja Rajkovic - Yugoslavia Andrew Erakhrumen - Nigeria Oluwafemi Adebayo - Nigeria Wim Schalenbourg - Belgium
The government, which allocated paltry 3% of the budget to education in 2002 fiscal year, reduced it to about 1.3% in this fiscal year, when only the University of Ibadan needs about 30.7 percent of the said sum to pay salaries for just 3 months! This is responsible for the crisis in the academic circle in the country.
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
Arranging the EDM - all work, no fun? Or... You could almost feel all the expectation hanging in the air. The Danish OC was ranging from panic: "We don’t have control over anything" to the calm: "What’s there to worry about? Everything will be perfectly fine". It was on the evening the day before the start of the EDM. Planning had been going on for twelve months now – soon it would be show-time! It all started out as a, some prefer to call it, "crazy idea" at the SRM in Russia autumn 2001. Christina and Jane were sure it was going to be a success: Denmark should definitely host the EDM 2002/03! The rest of the Danish committee was far from being enthusiastic; sure that arranging the EDM would be no fun, all hard work. But the two of them were determined - Denmark SHOULD arrange the EDM and if none else was going to do the work, they would! Arriving home from the EDM in Yugoslavia 2001/02 after having won the right to host the EDM, spirits were high. Now was the time to dig in. A whole new concept within the organisation of IAAS-Denmark was introduced: Deadlines. (Don’t know how the rest of the IAAS committees works, but starting a meeting on time is definitely a rare thing in Denmark!) I.e. deadlines for writing the introduction on the seminar that should help us raise money for the whole project. The original subject of food technology was quickly abandoned for the subject of biotechnology as our university was launching a new education within this field and also the newspapers were flooded with articles on the subject. All of us joined different groups so we were sure that the work within all the different fields (finances, registration, the biotech-seminar, boarding/lodging, transportation, culture etc) was covered. Some groups were bigger that others (Guess many of you have been in touch with Charlotte for registration?). Raising money turned out to be the hardest part. In the middle of November it was still fun to turn up to the weekly IAAS meetings – UNTIL, and this has to be admitted, the talk came upon money. Still enough money hadn’t been raised - were we going to cancel or? The strategy of applying for funds within foundations was changed – their consideration time was too long. Instead hopes were turned toward private sponsors where the money would arrive instantly. People’s approaches before calling a potential sponsor were some-what different: Some sweated profusely, hands and body were shaking helplessly and they looked as if they were going to die… But they DID survive and most were pleasantly surprised at the helpfulness with which they were met – the companies might not be interested in sponsoring but only a few had bad experiences… One of the more amazing things was a firework company offering to make the fireworks of our choice – when they were doing all the things for Tivoli (big amusement park in Denmark), it would be no trouble to make a bit for us as well – vow! In order to keep in touch with these sponsors (potentially getting more money), a newsletter on e-mail was sent out every two weeks to inform them on what was going on. Input was received from other places as well. E.g. participants were signing up steadily until the limit of 100 was reached. The more experienced IAAS’ers said to overbook – if we gave 115 a place, approximately 100 would show up, was their claim… During December Charlotte, the person in charge of handling applications, was shaking when she sent the last confirmations to the sign-ups… Considering the close contact she had with many, she expected them all to turn up - and we didn’t really have room for them. Charlotte, by the way, also had some amazing struggles with the school’s fax machine sending visa applications back and forth – never thought we should experience the sweet-looking girl swear so much! November was also the time for EDM-preparations at Headquarters. 11 of us travelled the long way to Leuven in a minibus – a trip of 12 hours, playing cards, chatting – basically having great fun, arriving in Leuven in the middle of the night, doing the preparation document and checking out the Belgian bars at night. On the way home the only one being awake the whole trip was the driver (at least we THINK he was awake).
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
On the day of arrival, rain was pouring down heavily on us, Denmark and none the least the participants – they arrived soakingly wet – what a way to experience Denmark for the first time! The last minute preparations were being done – boxes were carried all around the school – often in the wrong direction at first. For most of us the school where we and 100 other IAAS’ers would spend the next 8 days was just as unfamiliar as to everyone else. Fortunately the "oldies" turned out to be the wiser ones after all (as a freshie I’m not glad to admit that (red.) J ): The number of participants actually arriving was extremely close to 100 so no-one had to sleep on the floor... Fortunately things went smoothly – at least most of the time… The fact that there was only one key to the OC office, the lecture hall etc. did cause some trouble – Charlotte (Andersen), key responsible, did not get to sleep that much – every time she fell asleep, some cheery person would knock on the door because the key was needed – didn’t think we’d see that sweet girl swear that much either! J Our daily metings ensured that that kind of information (plus some other) was exchanged. The participants actually did show up on time (praise you all!), the food (in our humble opinion) was magnificent – and the best thing: we didn’t have to worry the least thing about making it – everything was being taken care of – that can really be recommended! Riding home on the train from Haslev, you could see relief in many’s eyes – but most of all, faces were numb… The experience had been magnificent - so many good memories, so many interesting people. None of us could believe that what we had been planning for so long was over now. Christina and Jane’s idea might have been crazy, but I don’t think anyone in the OC would have been without it! It IS true that there was a lot of work involved – but the things you get in return: the incredible comradeship being built among us, the laughs shared, the gifts (thanks a lot), the expectations, the friends made, the experiences etc., etc. So in spite of the fact that money is still an issue (fighting with a small deficit), believe us when we say: Do it, it’s worth it! And Christina and Jane? They are already talking about arranging the EDM 2004/05… Ida Elken Sønderby – Denmark
XIII CLACEEA, January 12 – 25, 2003, Guatemala. « ALCA, EDUCACIÓN, SOBERANÍA ALIMENTARIA Y HAMBRE: GLOBALIZAR LA LUCHA, GLOBALIZAR LA ESPERANZA, POR UN MUNDO SIN IMPERIOS ». The CLACEEA is the annual congress of CONCLAEA, the Latin American and Caribbean confederation of agricultural students. CONCLAEA unites the numerous active student associations of the Latin American subcontinent. Students from about 15 countries constitute this umbrella association, with as broader aims exchanging ideas, knowledge and experiences, increasing awareness among students and other parts of the society and bundling forces and minds in order to improve living conditions in their countries, both for students and farmers, as for the people as a whole. Besides the IAAS delegation, students from 8 countries were present on this annual congress; these countries were: Belize, Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador and Venezuela. Within the CLACEEA, not the technical and organisational matters come on the first place but rather the topic discussions. The (translated) title of this CLACEEA was: ALCA (the Pan-American Free Trade Zone), Education, Food Security and Hunger: Globalise the Struggle, Globalise the Hope for a World without Empires. The title reflects the three big themes of the congress: free trade; food security (and relation with GMOs) and higher education. Creative and colourful wall paintings confronted us directly with the reality of the Guatemaltecan society. The civil war and armed struggle resulted in the death of 150 000 people and the disappearing of 50 000 more during the past 20 years. If you openly show your opinion, if you criticise the government, if you struggle for more justice, you must fear for your life. Students and professors, priests and indigenous leaders, have been murdered ferociously by forces of the army. This situation has an enormous effect on the daily life in Guatemala, presses continuously on the education system and influences a lot how people see life and how people see the world. Guatemala has one of the worst land tenure situations of the world, with most of the fertile lands in hands of a few rich and mighty giants, drowning the rest of the rural society in misery and poverty, lack of access to basic rights such as food and education.
Yes, children often die of starvation. This and other social, cultural, political and economical injustice is the base of student associations being part of a larger people’s movement, and as such it is also one of the most important pillars of CONCLAEA. If you do not know this, it is very hard to understand CONCLAEA, especially for people living in countries or classes of prosperity and relative peace, ignorant of the extent of the unequal global situation. One of the most important aspects of CONCLAEA and of the local and national student associations is in this prospect, increasing awareness among students, shaking and waking them, showing them what is happening in their country and in whole Latin-America, learning from the reality and discussing about it. It is important to realise that this is not just the case for some parts of Latin-America! In the whole world we find numerous regions and countries with similar conditions! Do you know, for example, that every three minutes someone dies of starvation? Not caused by a lack in world food supply, but rather by an enormous poverty, invoked by an everlasting injustice imposed upon the world’s poor and vulnerable. In these times of sophisticated technology and enormous progress in informatics, communications and medicine, how is it possible that so many people are still illiterate, dying of easily curable infection diseases or of food shortage, while a small minority is living as blindfolded the glamour and glitter of modern media and violent advertising by profitaiming transnationals. It is not only the responsibility of CONCLAEA to bring this awareness to the student populations, as this problem is not limited to their subcontinent. In these days of globalisation, these issues should, more than ever, be the concern of the whole world population, the first priority in all important international programs. Also and especially in IAAS! Wim Schalenbourg - Belgium
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
World Social Forum shouts for peace and change! From January 23 to 28 the third World Social Forum took place in Porto Alegre, Brazil. More than 100,000 people from around the globe, mostly young, debated, shared their problems, pointed out solutions, and managed to subvert the global debate agenda.
This year's edition of the WSF has also shown that the South is thinking about itself, about its own models. Throughout the demonstrations, the message became increasingly clear that corruption, inequality and social injustice would not be tolerated by civil society.
The World Social Forum is an open meeting place where groups and movements of civil society opposed to neo-liberalism and a world dominated by capital or by any form of imperialism, but engaged in building a planetary society centred on the human person, come together to pursue their thinking, to debate ideas democratically, for formulate proposals, share their experiences freely and network for effective action. The WSF proposed to debate alternative means to building a globalisation in solidarity, which respects universal human rights and those of all men and women of all nations and the environment, and is grounded in democratic international systems and institutions at the service of social justice, equality and the sovereignty of peoples.
The participants headed home with precise objectives to be met before the fourth annual global gathering of social movements, to take place next year in India.
All three editions of the World Social Forum were held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on the same dates as the World Economic Forum was meeting in Davos. By proposing to strengthen an international coalition of the widest range of social movements and organisations, on the principle of respect for differences, autonomy of ideas and forms of endeavour, the WSF ceased to be a single locus of convergence for the struggle against neo-liberal globalisation and sought to become a world process. The third WSF that ended Tuesday in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre sent out a strong message against war, injustice, and social inequality. With more than 100,000 participants and large attention in the international press, the organisers can be more than satisfied. The Palestinian conflict and especially the threatening war in Iraq dominated the Forum. Numerous observers estimate the chance that the movement will effectively change something higher after this edition. While the first WSF meeting in 2001 was about analysing the world situation, the second one about proposals for changing the situation, this third one focussed on devising strategies to achieve those changes. Ignacio Ramonet, a WSF organiser, said the forum's main message to the world this year was 'No to War!' -- a reference to the U.S. and British preparations for a military strike against Iraq.
Ramonet said the results of this year's forum will materialise during the coming months, when everything that has been discussed will be compiled and organised in documents and proposals that will be sent to governments, non-governmental organisations, political parties and trade unions. The documents and proposals will contain the message of hope generated in those days by around 100,000 people in debates, seminars and panels, who concluded that 'another world is indeed possible,' the WSF slogan. Wim Schalenbourg – Belgium Sources: http://www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/home.asp (Official website Porto Alegre) http://www.weforum.org (Official website of Davos) http://www.portoalegre2003.org/ (WSF news of Inter Press Service and Le Monde diplomatique) http://www.focusweb.org (website of the famous southern NGO Focus on the global south)
Participate in the IAAS Exchange Program! The IAAS Exchange Program gives you, students from all over the world, the unique opportunity to go abroad, experience a magnificent practical training while living with local people, to increase your practical skills while getting to know another culture and life philosophy, broadening their own views and helping to create open and internationally-minded people. This activity is fundamental for IAAS and that is why we want to inform you and motivate you to take part in this fantastic program. Two different training programs exist within IAAS: Ceres – for farm work exchange – and Archimedes – for research and trainings in the agro-industrial sector. For Ceres, the whole application procedure happens online and the whole year through, which means that you still can apply for ExPro right now: surf to http://www.iaasworld.org and click on ExPro. For the moment there still are places available for the next half year within the following countries: Togo, Ghana, Kenya, Indonesia, Thailand, Belarus, Ukraine, ... About what you can do in Georgia, read the following article!
Development of new technologies in Imerety region (Georgia) The name of our country and the legend on Argonauts proves that Georgia is a country of people working on the land. It is a country of crops and viniculture.
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
Traditional fields are animal production and fruit and vegetable growing. Due to the lack of land there is mixed farming disseminated in our country. Georgia, as a post-communist country, is developing independently in the field of Agriculture for 10 years now . The purpose of the ,,Agribusiness and Agro-ecology" college of Tskaltubo is to develop agriculture in regions. The Imerety zone is within a moist and sub-tropical district. Its orthographical peculiarity determines the climate conditions of the region. The complex climate, geography, difference of vegetable cover with the influence of the humans and technology made the diversity of the coverage of soil. The years that have passed away showed that the dissemination and implementations on the base of scientific researches are the most important. Many farmers, especially new farmers do not have experiences in holding the technical equipments in agriculture and to hold the farming system independently. They can not fight against nature, disease and so on... Integration of agricultural research, education and training-consultation spheres and structural changes should promote development of new scientific-educational-consultation-extension system, able to solve strategic problems of agriculture. This year in our organization, on the training plot of the college planting material and production technologies are being developed for nut and Feijoa in Imereti. It means the introduction of new technologies with the use of local fertilisers, financed by World Bank. Roza Lortkifanidze – Georgia Nino Pirosmanashvili – Georgia
AGRIBUSINESS AND AGROINDUSTRIAL IMPROVEMENT: Changing machines for a better future. (Indonesian Case Study) Since the economy and monetary crisis stroke Indonesia and other countries in Asia, such as Japan, South Korean, Singapore, Philippines and Malaysia, a lot of socio-economic problems arose in almost all development sectors. The Directorate of Foreign Information Services (2000) reported that with an economic growth of 4.7% in 1997, the 1998/99 State Budget envisaged a minus 12% economic growth with an inflation of 66%, which gradually developed into an economic crisis. The country's economic order and national financial institutions were proved unable to withstand these violent tremors against the nation's economic foundations. It is not an exaggeration to say that the achievements of the national development of the last three decades have been wiped out by a crisis of only several months, and the situation worsened when the local currency lost its value. The Government was, in fact, caught by surprise with the unbelievable large private sector debts, which had accumulated in the last five years. However, agriculture was the only sector with positive growth (about 0.26 %) that still could survive in such crisis conditions. This shows us that agribusiness and the agro-industrial sector do not only contribute more to the national income than the other sectors in Indonesia, but also gain more workers to stimulate the economic growth and reduce the poverty. Agribusiness and agro-industry can provide a huge contribution on the national development through the quantity and the value of the exports. The national income was primarily gained from estate crops (crude palm oil, olein, cacao, coffee, tea, etc.), fisheries (shrimp, tuna, cakalang, sea weed, pearl, etc.), and foods and horticultures (especially vegetables and fruits). It indicates that agribusiness and agro-industry have to be developed and stimulated to reach its optimal performance (Gumbira-Sa’id, 2001). For the purpose, Indonesian Government has developed an integrated dimension, namely development of agricultural systems, management of productive forests, and the development of management and marketing systems to accelerate the process of industrialisation, especially in the rural areas. However, Gumbira-Sa’id (2002) explained that there are still some barriers on the Indonesian agribusiness/agroindustrial development as mentioned below. 1. Huge land conversion from farming yard to non-agribusiness yard. The land conversion was estimated about more than one million hectares. 2. The farming inputs (such as seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, machinery) are not distributed effectively, which depletes the productivity of the farming system. 3. The slow growth of investment in the agricultural sector leads to unsustainable development. 4. Ineffective monitoring of the agribusiness development program harms the sustainability of primary food supplies. 5. The Agribusiness Development Planning is designed centrally, which makes it difficult to accommodate the characteristic needs of the local areas. 6. Disintegration between plans and implementation of the agribusiness development program. 7. Management ability of the farmers is still not recognised yet. 8. The low degree of utilisation of the agribusiness/agro-industrial technologies. 9. Accessibility of marketing information for the farmers remains relatively low. 10.Almost all of the traditional farmer paradigms are unchangeable, whereas business orientation farmers are practicing the agribusiness system consistently. However, the restrictive needs, the global market, and the national income support have created challenges towards better performance of agribusiness and the agro-industry. It is very clear that there is an increase of national staple food demand. The problem is how the government can fulfil the national demand. Therefore, agriculture and rural development strategies have been changed whereby environmental considerations are integrated into agricultural practices, with the final objective being the sustainable provision of food, which is safe for public health. There are about six Program Areas in the Indonesian Agenda 21, which have been appraised to be of priority importance for the implementation of sustainable development in agriculture, as mentioned below (Government of Indonesia, http://www.un.org/ esa/agenda21/natlinfo/countr/indonesa/natur.htm).
1. The development of agricultural policy, planning and integrated programs to promote food security and sustainable development. 2. Improvement in agricultural products and farming systems through diversification of farming and development of supporting infrastructure. 3. Enhancing community participation and the quality of human resources. 4. Conservation and rehabilitation of agricultural land. 5. Integrated pest control. 6. Nutrients for increasing food production. As the reason for gaining better prospect of Indonesian agribusiness/ agro-industrial development in the future, there should be core competencies (Australian Trade Commission, http://www.austrade.gov.au/) that need to be implemented, especially in the post harvest section. Those core competencies are listed below. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Ability to protect intellectual property Process technology Product quality Keeping delivery times After sales service Work organisation Purchasing techniques Favoured access to parent technology Economies of scale Product diversification Parent reputation Industrial relations Worker skill Materials quality Management style and skill
After all, by the implementation of those core competencies in agribusiness/agro-industrial sector, it is specifically expected that Indonesians can raise their life standards and wealth, as they can also perform better in the future. Somehow, this is a big challenge for the students to develop their abilities and to improve the foundation of a nation facing rapid globalisation. Galuh Chandra Dewi – Indonesia
REFERENCE • Australian Trade Comission. http://www.austrade.gov.au/. • Directorate of Foreign Information Services, Department of Information, Republic of Indonesia. 2000. Indonesia’s Economy: Economic Growth and State Finance. Department of Information. Jakarta, Indonesia. • Government of Indonesia. Natural Resource Aspects of Sustainable Development in Indonesia. http://www.un.org/esa/agenda21/natlinfo/ countr/indonesa/natur.htm. • Gumbira-Sa’id, E. 2001. The Export Potencies of the Indoensian Agribusiness Products. Workshop of Indonesian Horticulture Exports. 16th – 18th May 2001. Jakarta, Indonesia. • Gumbira Sa’id, E. 2002. Analysis of Agribusiness Development Policies in Indonesia. Paper of Environmentally Agribusiness Development Workshop. Indonesian Ministry of Home Affairs. Depdagri. 15th – 20th July 2002. Bogor, Indonesia.
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
UNESCO – Pre-Conference on Higher Education 8th UNESCO/NGO Collective Consultation on Higher Education, Paris, 13 – 15 January, 2003. Five years ago, UNESCO organised a World Conference on Higher Education (WCHE), which was attended by around 4000 people representing 182 countries. There were ministers of education, people from parliaments, the private sector, NGOs, professors, teachers, rectors, students, etc.
between university and the society. The elite that leads the world right now came from ‘post-war’ period. The economy was unstable, people needed money and there were lack of production. Thus they built the university system to create people who know how to manage everything in efficient ways. It was the period of efficiency in management. (That’s the vision of everything). The question now is what are we going to do with this "efficiency of management"? This vision has a vague impression for the future of the society.
The conference dealt with how Higher Education (HE) can face the challenge of the 21st century. A vision about HE for this century was built: "HE should form a better society".
Crises and challenges
The question was, what kind of better society do we want to build through HE?
Lately, we are facing 3 kind of crises in the society: the relation crisis between human beings, the relation crisis between societies, and the relation crisis between the human being and the atmosphere (or the environment).
Now, after 5 years of projects, collecting information and feedback, UNESCO will evaluate again its visions and projects. They will organise the WCHE +5 next June. UNESCO realises the key role played by NGOs during the preparation of the WCHE in 1998 and places big importance to the civil society and NGOs, especially concerning their contribution to development and plans to reach "Education for all". The goal of this pre-meeting was to see the situation changes since last WCHE and to evaluate the main trends that appeared. The pre-meeting started with two introducing lectures, of which you can read the summary here.
Pierre CALAME, Director General of the Foundation "Charles Leopold Mayer pour le Progrès de l’ Homme" Gap between the future and the past Pierre Calame oriented his speech towards strategies to change HE and the ways to accelerate them. If we are talking about HE, it is not only science and technology, but also humanity. The most important issue is not anymore to promote the HE, but what the contract between university and the society is (which has been evolving really fast). Nowadays in our society there is a big gap between the future and the past… The people that lead and decide the system in the societies are the product of the past; they were young and learned about life around 30 years ago. Now they are trying to think about the future with their own experiences in their period. They build the HE which will create the leaders of the next 30 years with their own experiences in the past 30 years, "today life is thought with ideas of yesterday"). Science, technology and economics have been changing really fast in the last 50 years, but the ideologies, the concepts and the values in the society changed less fast. This caused an un-balanced rhythm in our lives. When we know the speed our world is going, we can question about the pertinence and the adaptability of this system. Who is going to change this and to what is it going to change? How can the universities change this situation and with what kind of strategy? Social contract between universities and society Pierre Calame stressed the necessity of a big change on the base of a new social contract between universities and society. This will allow taking into account the realities of the evolution of the society, which take place under pressure of sciences and techniques. Consequently, humanity will be more able to cope with crises, to react and to build relations of partnerships. Universities will create the ‘elite’ that will lead this world in the future. It’s the challenge of the university to create the leader of the society that can think about the future with the situation of the present, not always thinking about their period (which will be past when they graduate and start leading the world). That is the social contract
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
Another question that Pierre Calame raised was about the mission of University. He underlined that after 50 years speaking about rights, it is time now to put forward the concepts of individual and collective responsibilities of the coming generation. The obligation of university now is to provide the future leaders with an education having 3 priorities: • an ethical dimension : which appears essential in our future with issues such as GMOs or cloning of human beings, • a dimension of knowledge : to be able to think within the complexity of our world in terms of economic, social , scientific and educational aspects, • a dimension of cooperation: skills to work together beyond a national level in a more and more globalising world.
Marco Antonio Dias, Former director of the Division of Higher Education, UNESCO and consultant of United Nations University In October 1998, at the time of the WCHE, all countries had the same idea concerning HE, such as Education for All, no more discrimination for HE and the importance of the women participation in HE. In spite of the conscience and the motivation to promote HE in their country, many representatives confirm that HE issue is still a problem to be solved on the long term. Before talking about the HE, they should solve the problem how the whole population can reach education. HE is mostly the responsibility of the government, but in fact it is very rare that a country can pay the HE cost by public finance alone, they mostly need the private sector. Globalisation: GATS The biggest question mentioned by this speaker is about the influence of the globalisation on HE. Globalisation mostly impacts HE through cultural values and ethics. For the WTO (World Trade Organisation), globalisation means business, and when education becomes a business commodity, there will be no more "Education for all" – like one of UNESCO’s slogans says – but there will be "education only for those who can pay" (and we haven’t talk about the quality yet…). When the agreements in the WTO influence the education, they can make education to become a profitable commodity. How far can the agreements made by the WTO influence HE (especially the GATS – General Agreement on Trade and Service) and what should we do about it…? What is Quality of HE? Continuing about globalisation, up to now the transfer of technology and education systems are from the developed countries to the developing or poor countries. We should ask ourselves is the technology and the education system in the developed countries pertinent in the developing or poor countries? Is that really what their societies need? Is that appropriate with their culture? How do you measure the quality of an education system and the cur-
riculum in a faculty? What is the base of the measurement? Why can the ‘prestigious’ universities such as Stanford, Oxford, Sorbonne or Harvard say that they don’t acknowledge the diploma from university X in Brazil, or university Y in Thailand or university Z in Kenya? Why can’t they do the opposite way? Because people always say that the HE from USA and Europe is the best? What is the base of the accreditation?
society towards which the university will form the leaders? Again about the social contract between universities and the society, HE should enhance sustainable economic and socio-cultural development of the society, based on human rights, democracy, tolerance and mutual respect. That is quality! Baptiste Rosset – France Erika Aswin - Indonesia
Quality is multidimensional; there is no unique model of the quality. In the accreditation system, we have to think first about who is going to accredit the quality of the system and curriculum in universities? What are the model and the standard? Does the standard consider the difference of culture? Does it consider the local and regional needs of the
IAAS and Higher Education in Europe On the European Directors Meeting (EDM) in Denmark, a working group was held to discuss current issues in the field of higher education, mainly within Europe. Most of the discussion focused on the Bologna process, studying abroad through the Socrates/Erasmus program and on what topics IAAS should concentrate when discussing with e.g. UNESCO, ICA and CEDIA.
Bologna process In 1997 the European ministers of education gathered in Bologna and approved a declaration considering the structure of higher education in Europe. It was decided to harmonise the European university system so that within some time all the universities in Europe will have same kind of structure in their degrees. This new system aims at increasing the international mobility of academic people (teaching staff, researchers as well as students). The new structure will be the so-called 3+2+3 model. That is three years of studying for a bachelor's degree, after that two years for a master's degree and still three years of studies for those who want to go on with doctoral studies. With this new structure there was also introduced (or actually it is little bit older) the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) to make studies abroad measurable in students' home universities. One ECTS means studying 30 hours and in one semester one can do studies for 30 credits.
The discussion went on with the language problem and in some the universities there are English courses but in some there is none. In KVL there is some 90 courses in English and in Norway the course will be lectured in English if there is an international student participating. In France all the courses are in French and in Slovenia all the courses are in Slovenian but all the books are in English. In Czech Republic there are some English courses. In Switzerland English courses might be a problem because for quite many students English may be the fourth language they learn. The mentioned problems or topics: • Why are there only bilateral agreements between universities, couldn't there be a common Socrates-database to get abroad? • Transferring the credits obtained abroad to one's own degree should be made easier. • There should be more possibilities to study in English when going abroad. • Economical situation of exchange students should be better. • IAAS could also co-operate with universities • Local committees could help exchange students in housing and with other practical stuff. • There should be more promotion and information available about the possibilities to study abroad. Teemu Halme - Finland
Some years after the Bologna meeting the ministers gathered again, this time in Prague and noticed that also students should participate in planning this reform.
Socrates/Erasmus program After a discussion on common problems that student may face when studying abroad and on how international affairs are arranged at different universities, the main conclusion of the topic was that in most cases the availability of information is a problem. The students just do not get to know the possibilities of going abroad.
The Opinion of IAAS Two years ago ICA and UNESCO invited IAAS to discuss current issues on the field of higher education. Since then the President of the association has been representing the agricultural students mainly with his own ideas and opinions. Lately the things that IAAS has been telling as the opinion of agricultural student have been: 1. It is important to get the credits transferred properly. 2. Going abroad is usually expensive and students should get proper grants. 3. There should be a common language within universities - the main suggestion has been all the time English. 4. To arrange accommodation is hard, especially in big cities.
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
Let me give you an idea of how our program will look like:
Cheese & Chocolate Seminar in Switzerland, 15-20 June 2003 Have you ever dreamt of a Cheese & Chocolate Seminar in Switzerland? Of sleeping in the straw? Visit some of Switzerland’s most interesting sightseeings? Then yet your time has come to pay us a visit! After two successful seminars (Milk seminar in 1996 and Meat Switzerland! Seminar in 1998) IAAS Switzerland is back organising a third seminar for you. We try to give you an insight into the famous Swiss Cheese & Chocolate production. First, we will have a Forum Day at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zürich). In the first part of this Forum Day YOU are expected to bring a poster with you about either the Cheese or/and the Chocolate production in your country. You will be given 10 to 20 minutes to make your presentation. You can use your poster, which will be used later for a poster session, or you can make a PowerPoint presentation. You are completely free, but you are encouraged to bring some Cheese & Chocolate specialities from your country with you. In the afternoon there will be lectures, one of them held by Prof. Dr. Windhab who invented a new Chocolate technique.
During the seminar we will visit two Cheese and Chocolate production sites each.
• Sunday (15.6.): Arrival in Zofingen • Monday (16.6.): Forum Day at the ETH Zürich (see above) • Tuesday (17.6.): Visit to Chocolat Frey AG (Buchs), one of Switzerland's biggest and most modern Chocolate production plants. Visit to Lucerne, trip to Lungern, "sleeping in the straw" • Wednesday (18.6.): Hiking in the heart of Switzerland (in the Alps of Canton Obwalden), visit to an Alpine Cheese Factory • Thursday (19.6.): Visit to Wander AG (Ovomaltine production in Neuenegg near Berne), Swiss Federal Parliament Building, sightseing in Berne, farewell party in Kiental • Friday (20.6.): Visit to the Emmental Cheese Factory in Affoltern i.E., trip to Zurich, end of the seminar. Additional facts of the Seminar: Participant number: There is a limit of 30 students Limit per country: max. 4 students Costs: approx. 70 Euro/100 CHF for A/B countries approx. 110 Euro/150 CHF for C/D countries For accomodations, more precise and updated details go to our homepage: www.iaas.ethz.ch (There, we will soon announce when we start to accept your enrolment!). We are looking forward to welcoming you this June! Felix Hug – Switzerland OC "Cheese&Chocolate Seminar" email@example.com
THE MOUNTAIN THE COW and THE FARMER protecting nature by farming This Seminar will take place in one of the Austrian’s National Parks from June 1 till June 8, 2003. We are doing our best to plan a week full of interesting lectures, adventure, and fun. At the beginning we will hear something about National Parks and farming in this area. How to combine agriculture and environmental protection? After that you will have the opportunity to put the theoretical knowledge into practice. We will make a trip of 3 days through the National Park. After our trip we will visit the BAL-Gumpenstein, which is a centre for agricultural research and development in the alpine region. Apply soon to get a place (there is a limit of 25 places)! Information about registration, program, participation fee, email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
Water Quality Here is an article in continuity with a meeting that took place in France (October 2002) where we talked about water quality. In fact, my purpose is to talk about water quantity and more precisely about its management. Indeed, as everybody knows, water is rare and precious. A lot of persons are still suffering from thirst while others are wasting their water just because they don’t care. In industrialised countries, the most important use of water is the irrigation (it usually represent 90 % of the water takings). But as we hear more and more about global warming, some management systems begin to be developed. About that point, in a lot of countries, farmers can control their water inputs by subscribing to information services. Those can be either part of a national institution or a private company. Thanks to meteorological stations, they collect information about hygrometry, rainfall, … all over the country so that you can know exactly how much water need your fields. That way, farmers can avoid to waste a lot of water
For big exploitations, the management of water can be based on spatial imaging. For example, in some tropical regions, the evapotranspiration of sugar cane is measured in that way and it permits to manage correctly the irrigation water as needed. OK. So we know how to save water… The problem is that countries which are able to save water are generally those who less need it. So what do we do now? The solution would be to take this water from a region to an other but there are no structure in place at international scale so it would be necessary to build them. And on that point, there are two major problems. First, the cost : would each country have to pay the part of web on its ground (despite the difference of money available)? The second problem is that it doesn’t seem evident that developed countries will accept to help developing ones by giving "their" water. Indeed, it’s possible that they want to prevent them from "taking off" at the economical level. So, finally we can say that water piping can be a quite realistic solution at a local scale in a few regions of the world. For the other countries, wells and inverted osmosis seem to be the only alternatives for the moment. As you can see, lots of things are still to be thought and done. Please never forget that we are the ones who can make this situation better in the future. Lucile Orliac – France
Natural Mineral Water of Vittel All people who went to the SRM in Nancy saw that France is not only a country of wine but also of natural mineral water. But, it’s true, we are more famous because of vine than water!!!
If you are engaged in strenuous physical activity, or you are living in a hot and humid climate, you will need to drink more water than the amounts shown above in order to keep yourself properly hydrated.
There are 1200 springs in France, especially in mountains and during the SRM we visited the exploitation of three of them at the Vittel site (in the North-East of France). We discovered that for natural mineral water the following aspects are important:
Drinking water is indeed essential to health, and drinking alkaline water with ionic coral calcium is even better. It helps restore the proper pH balance in your body, you get over 99% of the calcium you need in a 100% absorbable form, plus over 70 trace minerals.
We do not drink water just to quench our thirst on a hot day. Proper hydration is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. It allows your body to eliminate toxins and waste products. It relieves fluid retention. It suppress your appetite. It helps your body getting rid of excess sodium. It helps reduce fat deposits by assisting in fat metabolism. Drinking enough water is one of the best ways to prevent the formation of kidney stones. Water is a natural diuretic, and it can help reduce high blood pressure by decreasing water retention in our blood.
The gain of minerals during its filtering through the soil. The protection during the rise of the water levels by the rocks. Constancy of mineral content Therapeutic properties.
But every spring of mineral water has its own properties. For example, in Vittel, Grande Source is moderately mineralised and with a diuretic power, Hépar is for liver complains and head aches, and Bonne Source is moderately mineralised. And we noticed it when we were tasting water from the different sources, they really didn’t taste the same! In order to protect all this water, Vittel has taken different security measures around the springs within a 15 km radius: - thermal weeding and use of ladybugs so that they don't need to use chemical pesticides. - Insertion of prey birds that kill small rodents. - Limited livestock farming. - Installation of tarpaulin under the roads so that the petrol cannot end up in the water. While reading this refresh yourself with a nice, cold glass of water and do not forget that you need about specific amount of water a day. Your Weight in Pounds 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 200 210 220 230 240
Daily Water Consumption Oz. 8 Oz. Glasses Quarts 40 5 1 45 6 50 6 1_ 55 7 60 7 65 8 2 70 9 75 9 80 10 2_ 85 11 90 11 95 12 3 100 12 105 13 110 14 3 1/2 115 14 120 15 4
Water is needed for hydrolysis, the essential chemistry of life. This is where the water molecule (H-2O) separates into hydrogen (H+) and hydroxyl (OH-), which in turn react with countless amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that keep us alive. Water is also a reactant in intracellular reactions and it helps us keep our body's electrolytes in proper balance. An average person normally looses about two quarts of water a day through exhalation, sweating and relieving ourselves. This increases during hot and humid weather, and during physical activity and certain illnesses. Cheers!!! Andreja Rajkovic – Yugoslavia Céline Boutin – France
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
Lights and Shadows: World Contrasts Our world is a great paradox that turns around in the universe Half of the population of Brazil lives in poverty or in extreme poverty, yet Lula's country is the world's second market for Mont blanc fountain pens, and the ninth largest buyer of Ferraris. Armani shops in Sao Paulo sell more than in New York.
The best-known line attributed to Don Quixote ("They are barking, Sancho; it's a sign that we are moving") does not appear at all in Cervantes' novel. Humphrey Bogart does not say the most famous line ("Play it again, Sam") attributed to him in the movie Casablanca.
Allende's executioner, Pinochet, paid homage to his victim every time he spoke of the "Chilean miracle." Pinochet never confessed it, nor has it been mentioned by the democratic rulers who came after him, when the "miracle" became the "model"--but what would happen to Chile if its copper were not Chilean? The copper industry--the central roof beam of the Chilean economy--was nationalized by Allende, never to be privatised again.
Contrary to what is commonly believed, Ali Baba was not the leader of the 40 thieves, but their enemy; and Frankenstein was not the monster, but its inventor.
Our Indians were born in the American continent, not in India. Turkeys and corn are also American, despite the name the English language has given this bird, and the fact that corn is called "Turkish grain" [granoturco] in Italian. The World Bank praises the privatisation of public health in Zambia: "It is a model for the rest of Africa. There are no more waiting lines at hospitals." The Zambian Post daily completes the idea: "There are no more waiting lines at hospitals because now people die at home." Four years ago, journalist Richard Swift arrived in the fields of western Ghana, where cheap cocoa is harvested to be shipped to Switzerland. The journalist carried some chocolate bars in his backpack. The native harvesters had never tasted chocolate before. They loved it. Rich countries, which subsidize their agriculture at the tune of millions of dollars per day, forbid agricultural subsidies in the poor countries. A record harvest by the Mississippi river floods the world cotton markets and causes prices to collapse. A similar harvest near the Niger river pays so little the corn is not even worth picking. The cows of the North earn twice as much as the peasants of the South. The subsidies received by each cow in Europe and the United States double the average salary earned by peasants in the poor countries for a whole year of work. Producers from the South go to the world markets in disunity, while sellers from the North impose monopoly prices. Since the World Coffee Organisation disappeared, ending production quotas, the price of coffee has hit rock bottom, and lately it's been worse than ever: in Central America, those who sow coffee reap hunger. But the price one pays for drinking it hasn't dropped at all. Charlemagne, founder of the first great European library, was illiterate. Joshua Slocum, the first man to sail solo around the globe, did not know how to swim. The world contains as many hungry people as obese. The hungry eat garbage from garbage cans; the obese eat garbage from McDonald's.
On first thought it seems incomprehensible, and on second thought as well: in the places where progress has progressed the most, people work the longest hours. The illness caused by too much work leads to death. It is called karoshi in Japanese. Now the Japanese are adding yet another word to the dictionary of technological civilization: karojsatsu is the name given to suicides caused by hyperactivity, an increasingly frequent occurrence. In May of 1998, France reduced the work week from 39 to 35 hours. Not only did such a measure prove effective against unemployment, but it also provided a rare instance of sanity in a world that has got a screw loose--or several, or all of them. For what is the use of machines if they can't reduce the amount of time humans spend at work? But the Socialists lost the elections and things in France went back to normal, so a law that had been dictated by common sense is already on its way out. Technology produces cubic-shaped watermelons, featherless chickens, and a lifeless labor force. In a few hospitals in the United States robots already take on some nursing tasks. According to the Washington Post, robots work 24 hours a day, but they cannot make decisions because they lack common sense--an unwitting portrait of the ideal worker in the world to come. According to the Gospel, Christ was born during the reign of king Herod. Since Herod died in 4 BC, Christ was born at least four years before himself. Christmas Eve is celebrated in many countries with thundering salvos. Silent night; holy night! The sound of the fireworks drives dogs insane and deafens women and men of good will. The swastika, which the Nazis identified with war and death, had been a symbol of life in Mesopotamia, India and America. When George W. Bush suggested that forests be cut down in order to end forest fires, he was misunderstood. The President seemed a bit more incoherent than usual, but he was being consistent with his ideas. These are his holy remedies: to cure a headache, we shall behead the sufferer; to save the people of Iraq, we will bomb it to a pulp. Our world is a great paradox that turns around in the universe. At the rate we are going, the owners of the planet will soon outlaw hunger and thirst in order to forestall shortages of food and water. Eduardo Galeano Taken from www.portoalegre2003.org
Progress causes bloating. Rarotonga is the most prosperous of the Cook islands, in the South Pacific. It has amazing economic growth rates. But even more amazing is the growth of obesity among its youth. Forty years ago, eleven out of 100 of them were fat. Now all of them are fat. Ever since China opened up to the so called "market economy," its traditional menu of rice and vegetables has been speedily overtaken by hamburgers. The Chinese Government had no choice but to declare war on obesity, which is now a national epidemic. The advertising campaign publicizes the example of Liang Shun, a young man who lost 115 kg (253 lbs) last year.
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
A candidate for the Executive Committee To be a candidate for the presidency of a worldwide association like IAAS with the responsibility and the changes it takes requires weeks of thinking. To vote for a person to lead a world-wide association of which you are member requires even more thinking. If you then haven’t met this person before and you don’t know what his or her qualifications for this job is, then it’s almost impossible. Therefore I would already now use this first issue of the new IAAS world to announce my candidature for the presidency of IAAS for the year 2003/2004. In the time since the spring 2002 I have at several occasions been asked if I would like to run for the presidency of the International Association of Students in Agriculture and Related Sciences (IAAS). I have all the time seen this as a great honour that some of my fellow students in this association believe in me and see me as a person who they consider to be a good representative of IAAS. Last year I didn’t see myself as experienced enough and with enough insight in IAAS to contribute to the development of our association. Now I have been a member for one more year, grown one year older and am more secure than ever before. All this together tells me that I’m now ready for being a part of the executive committee (EC) and as the president the first official representative of IAAS. In the latest years we have had in IAAS the situation that only one person wanted to run for each position in the EC. Last year we had a very difficult situation in Indonesia, when we didn’t have anyone to candidate for the EC upon arrival. In a situation like that it is very difficult to have proper questions ready for the candidate presentation. In this way I hope that the EC candidate presentation this year is going to have a wider range of questions than the previous years, since as I know in the writing hour of this article that two persons by now have officially announced their candidature for the EC.
To give you the best possibility to value me as a possible future president of the association I would like to tell you about myself and my experience in IAAS. During the last three and a half year I have been studying at The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Copenhagen, Denmark. Here I’m a student of agronomy and I’m going to finish my bachelor this summer. My IAAS career started in my second semester, with being a part of the Baltic Sea Project. Since that I have attended the Sub-Regional Meetings (SRM) in Estonia, Russia, Finland and Norway, the GAs in Portugal and Indonesia and two exchange weeks in Belgium and Slovenia. Further I have been in the organising committee of the just passed EDM in Denmark, a seminar we organised in Denmark two years ago and the preparation meeting for the GA in Indonesia and the EDM in Denmark. In the time from September 2001 to September 2002 I was the National Director of IAAS-Denmark, which I this year passed on to my successor and changed my engagement with IAAS into being a part of the international group and was elected for CC at the GA in Indonesia. When you vote about the presidency at the GA I do not want you to vote only on the past activities in which I have participated and organised. I want you to think about the future of IAAS and what would be best for our association. In the next issue of IAAS World I will present you to my view on the future of IAAS and what I would like to make a priority the next year. In this article I would now ask you for your opinion about the IAAS future, which you could tell me when I meet you around the world. Martin Nielsen – Denmark Candidate for President
Thoughts and acts towards a better future for IAAS Some time ago, the following piece of Malinese wisdom caught my attention:
"Brothers and sisters, hear me! Do not be prisoners of your desires Everyone has a right to aspirations But I beg you to stop dreaming May villas, airplanes, cars and ranches be relegated to fantasy We must go back to the basics Bringing our children to school and cultivating our land to achieve selfsufficiency." This is indeed what is needed, we must reconsider and revalue the basics of IAAS as an active network of students in agriculture and related sciences. Let’s sit together and think freely about how an ideal IAAS would look like, which kind of things our local committees should do, what the most important international activities could be and then how all this can be coordinated in a way to maximise continuity, local involvement and cost efficiency. This kind of thinking exercise, by going back to the basics, hasn’t been practised in IAAS for a long time, and is a good way leading to quick democratic results in developing a vision for IAAS, the base for a concrete action plan for the following years. The situation in IAAS as outlined in the Manifesto was rather negative, with accumulating experiences of bad leadership and lack of continuity, superficial meetings and lack of interest and motivation to really do something about it. But the conclusion is positive.
IAAS World - 2003 Vol. 1 March - May
In this kind of situation there are two things you can do. Or you can stop worrying, give up, enjoy the cultural and social activities and quit IAAS a few years later. Or you can be brave and ambitious, try to tackle these problems through some radical changes hoping for a positive result and beneficial effects on the association as a whole for current and future generations. I chose the second option, and started with this new magazine you have in your hands now. I hope you like its new style which fits within a wider vision towards the future of IAAS as engaged international student association. It doesn’t finish with IAAS World, as I will be candidate for the post of Secretary General for next year. During the next months, my ideas and dreams will be shared with you to be discussed and criticised in order to decide together about the best possible future for the Association. So take a broom and fly with me! Wim Schalenbourg - Belgium Candidate for Secretary General