Plant Genome Research Reception
September 23, 1999
Following are the draft remarks of senator Kit Bond (R-mo) on biotechnology for the 9/23/99 plant genome research reception held in the senate Dirksen building. The reception was attended by NSF plant genome research award recipients, congressional staff, officials from the executive branch and others. Aspp president Debby Delmer, Past President Ken Keegstra, and Executive Committee Member Vicki Chandler were among a number of ASPP Members who Attended. ASPP Cosponsored The Reception.
Remarks of Sen. Bond:
Together, we have been successful in building the political support for the federal scientific effort to promote genomics research and plant science. Those in agriculture have always been at the forefront of promoting new technologies.
As a cattleman told me, with hybrid breeding, sometimes you breed a greyhound to a pit bull and you get a dog that won't run or fight.
Biotechnology addresses this matter.
The benefits of biotechnology are to farmers, but also, to consumers, to the hungry, to the sick, to the environment, to our energy security, and to our economy.
For federal genomics research on the plant level, the first year, we provided $40 million, then $50 million last year, andI have included $60 million in the bill which is currently on the floor.
You have made the case, I have provided the obstinacy and the gavel, and the congress has, consequently, provided the money which i hope to increase in the years ahead.
I am very grateful for the professionalism and the cooperation of the research community - both public and private - and the people at the national science foundation.
More importantly, I am grateful that you are endeavoring to solve human problems that to now seemed unsolvable.
Regrettably, while you know that this technology will improve the lives of the world's citizens, the world's citizens don't know this.
Worse yet, the professional activist community and the luddites are spreading science fiction regarding biotechnology.
The European leaders are engaged in an effort to regulate u.s. productivity. They are behind and trying to catch up.
Further, law-breakers are tearing up test plots not just in Europe but here in the united states. That is against the law even in California.
More disappointing yet, opportunistic corporations, such as ADM and Novartis, to placate the activists and protectionists, are undermining our scientists and our trade negotiators.
ADM announced that grain should be segregated and Greenpeace put out a press release applauding their support.
Novartis develops, receives approval, promotes, and sells technology to our farmers that its subsidiary refuses to buy?
Furthermore, the US. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration are not defending publicly their findings that these products are safe.
They are not supporting the rigorous and science-based approval process that they conduct.
Professional regulators do the rigorous, costly, time consuming and duplicative analysis that is and that must be done to prove a product is safe.
When some activists suggests it is not safe -that should draw a response - an aggressive response from the regulatory agencies.
The highest priority of these regulatory agencies is to ensure safe food without harm to the environment and they have a tremendous record in this regard that deserves to be vigorously defended.
We should hear as much from EPA as from Jeremy Rifkin.
The USDA should be sending out strong signals of support for the products that are approved and not sending out mixed signals that we have seen the European tabloids use against us.
Yes there is a risk! A health risk and an environmental risk -that politics, tabloid sensationalism, science fiction, and corporate opportunism will undermine the most promising technology of the next century.
Many of us have heard more from the Washington Post editorial page than from the regulatory agencies. You are among the few and very special people who know the most about these issues.
Regrettably, politics and corporate opportunism has placed an additional burden on you to become more active and challenge the science when it is not sound.
Many of you have done so already, but we have a large-scale effort before us.
This issue is too easy to sensationalize and too easy to demagogue for the activist community to lose interest.
What you are trying to accomplish for people and for the environment are at stake if science does not prevail.
I am very proud of your accomplishments, your pursuits, your patience, your vision and your support and i welcome all suggestions as to how we can promote the triumph of science over politics.
Keep up your critical work and thank you for this honor.
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Last Updated on 10/16/99
By Karen Lutz