1.What the Australian Government's ABC3 TV Kids 'News' show said to our children
2.Background on the cassava issue

NOTE Both items are courtesy of MADGE Australia who also note that the Donald Danforth Centre was co-founded by Monsanto. In fact, the Center was launched with a $70-million pledge from Monsanto, which also donated the Center's 40-acre tract of land, near Monsanto's home town of St. Louis, valued at $11.4 million. Monsanto's CEO is also a trustee.
1.What the Australian Government's ABC3 TV Kids 'News' show said to our children
MADGE Australia



When you sit down for LUNCH today... ask yourself what FOOD will look like in the FUTURE.

It's a question scientists are asking themselves... as they try to find ways to make our FOOD more healthy.

Imagine eating CHOCOLATE that's as healthy as a banana... or a HAMBURGER without any FAT...

Thanks to GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD... that might one day be possible.

But as Sean found out... it's technology that not everyone's got an appetite for.


This is the AMERICAN city of ST LOUIS... It's famous for being a world leader in genetically modified food.

It's where a company called MONSANTO... is hard at work trying to make our FOOD more nutritious.

So how do they do that?

Genetically modified food or GM for short .. is food which scientists have been able to change genetically.

All living things are made up of genes ... which determine their every feature....

The shape of a carrot .. the redness of a tomato .. the sweet watery taste of a watermelon.

But now ... scientists are learning how to cut and paste those genes from one organism to another .. to change its qualities.

In this case, SOY BEANS have been altered ... by adding a gene that produces OMEGA THREE acids.

Omega 3s are normally found in fish and algae, but the Monsanto scientists used an unusual source.

[MADGE: Dr David Stark Monsanto Vice President of Consumer Benefits Program - he was supered]

DR DAVID STARK: The genes actually come from a mushroom and a petunia so we tried algae because everything we do in GM we learn how nature does it and then we take it into the plant that we want to grow and consume. The algae genes didn't work as well in soybean but we found that the mushroom and petunia versions did so that's where we went for our gene sources.

The end result is a soybean that is much better for the heart.

DR DAVID STARK: It helps prevent the arrhythmia in the ventricle part of the heart and that's what kills you from a heart attack it's not the clogged artery it's the arrhythmia.

But those who could really benefit from more NUTRITIOUS FOOD... live in poorer countries.

One of the most widely grown crops in AFRICA... is CASSAVA.

[MADGE: Dr Martin Fregene Director, Bio Cassava Plus Program - Donald Danforth Plant Science Cente - African, and according to ABC Corp Affairs he was not supered]

DR MARTIN FREGENE: It came to Africa with the Portuguese traders 500 years ago and it displaced every other staple crop, it displaced yams, it displaced everything and today if you look at Cassava's production figures in Africa is going like that (points upwards) almost vertical.

Unlike most crops... CASSAVA can grow well in drought conditions and poor soil.
In fact, you can keep it in the ground for TWO years before harvest.
But it's not exactly a MIRACLE of NUTRITION.

[MADGE: Dr Nigel Taylor Core Team Member, BioCassava Plus Program ILTAB/Donald Danforth Plant Science Center - According to ABC Corp Affairs he was supered]

DR NIGEL TAYLOR: This is an excellent source of calories full of starch, but the roots here are devoid of protein, almost no protein whatsoever in here, there's no vitamin A, very little vitamin E, no iron or zinc, so it means that if you rely on this crop as your staple foods you'll suffer from malnutrition.

So back in ST LOUIS... researchers are genetically modifying CASSAVA... by adding genes to increase PROTEIN, VITAMIN A... and IRON.

DR NIGEL TAYLOR: So that if you eat cassava for your breakfast then you'll be receiving all of these nutrients that you require for the whole day in one meal.

To make it all happen... the PLANTS are grown in high-tech greenhouses which can simulate just about any environment on EARTH.
Success here... could have a big impact on LIFE in the THIRD WORLD.

[Dr. Paul Anderson, Executive Director, Office of International Programs (OIP)
Co-PI and Core Team Member, BioCassava Plus Program - According to ABC Corp Affairs he was not supered]

DR PAUL ANDERSON: This really isn't all about just making a couple of new lines this is about improving the nutritional value of a crop for ever worldwide so that its always going to have a better nutrient content and a person eating that is always going to have the benefits of that regardless of where they are or when they're eating it.

DR MARTIN FREGENE: In Nigeria for example you save 39 thousand children from dying you know every year from provitamin A deficiency.

But not everyone reckons Genetically Modified food is the best way to feed an increasingly hungry planet.

BOB PHELPS: the Food and Agriculture Organisation reports that there's enough food currently produced in the world to feed 12 billion people, and we have a population of six billion so we could feed everyone well twice.

[This next was shown as a shot of MADGE protesting over GM labelling with red blindfolds]

Some critics of GM food are also worried about the health and environmental risks. They argue we don't know enough about nature to be messing with its designs.

DR MARTIN FREGENE: If you've never been hungry then you can get involved in all those kind of debates but if you've really been hungry then it's not an argument you know it's so clear it's so obvious.

It'll be FOUR years before the GM CASSAVA can leave the lab... and begin its journey to FARMERS.

But until then, there'll still be plenty of MOUTHS to feed!
2.Here's a bit of background on the cassava issue.. (in slightly extended tweets)
MADGE Australia

Ӣ Reading through the B&M Gates Foundation grants for Agricultural Development

... time passes ...

Ӣ [Introducing] Nagib Nassar, Geneticist, Botanist and Plant Breeder <- Years of [non-GM] research in cassava [Brazilian, 50 years of research, Emeritus Professor]

Ӣ 2009: Nassar reports finding a cassava so rich in beta-carotene (Vit A precurser) that 100g gives 4-fold greater than human daily needs.. [from diverse Amazon stock]

Ӣ Nassar reports this very high Vit A cassava has excellent palatability. It could be planted directly or bred.

Ӣ In May 2010 Scientific American publishes an article about Nassar and high nutrient & yield cassavas via @GMWatch

Ӣ Nov10 Gates Foundn grants (Monsanto-founded) Danforth centre $5.3M to develop high iron, protein, Vit A cassava for Africa

Ӣ In Jan11 Danforth (Mon-founded) reports proof of concept towards development of GM cassava for supplying "products"

Ӣ Danforth working towards GM Cassava capable of supplying "plant-based proteins for food, feed & industrial applications"

Ӣ So.. Nassar has found a cassava with incredible Beta-C, more than many renowned Vit A foods, eg golden sweet potato. Excellent palatability

Ӣ Gates Foundation gave Danforth another $8.3M a few days ago for it's GM cassava a few days ago via @pdjmoo

Ӣ I'm not getting the impression the Gates funded Danforth GM cassava project is a philanthropic gesture with sole objective of African nutrition

Ӣ 2004 Nassar is praised "Your work has contributed in feeding millions of Africa people.." & brought Nigeria to No1 producer

Ӣ Gates funded, Monsanto-founded Danforth developing GM cassava for Nigeria and Kenya.

Ӣ And a few days ago we read how 98% of Thailand's cassava chips exported to China as biofuels

Ӣ For the interested, the Gates Foundation has granted $19 million to Danforth since 2008, and $70 million to the IRRI. Just in 2010/11 the money has been described as being for Vitamin A products.

Ӣ Past 'successes' of Danforth.. from GM Watch "GM cassava "our only hope"".

Ӣ Nassar had already trumped Monsanto on cassava yields in 2006, also from GM watch: item 2 from link above

Ӣ Gates Foundation Officers have been drawn from Monsanto

Background info on the SDA soy. The two coding genes were derived from Neurospora Crassa (red bread mould - wiki it) and Primula juliae (a primula), not 'mushroom' and 'petunia' as Dr David Stark from Monsanto said. I suppose the TV image of the red bread mould wouldn't be as attractive as sweet little mushrooms in a forest.

Also the SDA soy DOES NOT MAKE the omega 3 oils that are so publicly prized in fish (EPA and DHA). Thus Monsanto had to do studies to demonstrate extent of conversion of SDA to these oils in humans.

Also, we can get EPA and intermediary DPA and some DHA through eating products from animals raised on grass/pasture/hay etc. O3 values much lower in grain fed animals.