23 January 2000

Table of Contents

Glufosinate In Water
"The Problem with Genetic Engineering" Organic Gardening Magazine
Genetic Engineering Should Be Taken Slowly: Professor
Court affirms Pioneer Hi-Bred's patent rights
OTA Calls for Moratorium on Using GMOs in Agriculture
National Organic Standards Ready
Sir Robert May
USDA Biotech Panel Named
Greenpeace Wins First Round in EPA Lawsuit to Ban Bt Crops
Gore and Bradley's responses to a GMO question
US Embassy lobbys for GE foods
"Democracy is unpredictable"
Dutch Minister of Agriculture calls for support organic farming
U$ objects to treaty regulating GM-organism trade
Gene Therapy Ordered Halted at University
Good news: The Ban-GEF Archive with Search Engine!

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Date: 20 Jan 2000 14:22:33 U
From: "j.e. cummins"

Glufosinate In Water

Ron Baxter wrote about his legitamate concern that glufosinate will contamiante water supplies if GM crops resisting the herbicide are introduced into Britain.

The herbicide glufosinate is used extensively with GM crops including corn,canola and soy.The level of planting is comparable to roundup ready crops in US and Canada. The EU analysis of the hazards of glufosinate ignores clear evidence that the herbicide causes nerve damage and birth defects (there is evidence that glufosinate causes birth defects caused by exposure of the human father).

The US and Canadian risk analysis of the herbicide also denegrates or ignores the evidence on nerve damage or birth defects.Local authorities must be reminded of these effects because the governemnt experts seem to be biased in favor of the chemical company that manufactures the herbicide and patents the GM crops.

Below is a current brief reference list:

  1. A toxicokinetic analysis in a patient with acute glufosinate poisoning. (Hirose Y; Hum Exp Toxicol, 1999 May)

  2. Developmental and dysmorphogenic effects of glufosinate ammonium on mouse embryos in culture. (Watanabe T; Teratog Carcinog Mutagen, 1996)

  3. Neurological effects of glufosinate poisoning with a brief review. (Watanabe T; Hum Exp Toxicol, 1998 Jan)

  4. Apoptosis induced by glufosinate ammonium in the neuroepithelium of developing mouse embryos in culture. (Watanabe T; Neurosci Lett, 1997 Jan 24)

  5. Two cases of glufosinate poisoning with late onset convulsions. (Tanaka J; Vet Hum Toxicol, 1998 Aug)

  6. Cardiovascular effects of a herbicide containing glufosinate and a surfactant: in vitro and in vivo analyses in rats. (Koyama K; Toxicol Appl Pharmacol, 1997 Aug)

  7. Stereospecific production of the herbicide phosphinothricin (glufosinate): purification of aspartate transaminase from Bacillus stearothermophilus, cloning of the corresponding gene, aspC, and application in a coupled transaminase process. (Bartsch K; Ap

  8. Hemodialysis and hemoperfusion in the successful treatment of a poisoning with a herbicide containing glufosinate ammonium and a surfactant [letter] (Shinohara M; Clin Nephrol, 1997 Jul)

  9. Paternal exposure to pesticides and congenital malformations [see comments] (Garc=B4ia AM; Scand J Work Environ Health, 1998 Dec)

  10. A high efficiency technique for the generation of transgenic sugar beets from stomatal guard cells [see comments] (Hall RD; Nat Biotechnol, 1996 Sep)

  11. Transgenerational effects of maternal exposure to chemicals on the functional development of the brain in the offspring. (Fujii T; Cancer Causes Control, 1997 May)

  12. Burial and seed survival in Brassica napus subsp. oleifera and Sinapis arvensis including a comparison of transgenic and non-transgenic lines of the crop. (Hails RS; Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 1997 Jan 22)

  13. T-DNA integration into genomic DNA of rice following Agrobacterium inoculation of isolated shoot apices [published erratum appears in Plant Mol Biol 1997 Nov;35(4):537] (Park SH; Plant Mol Biol, 1996 Dec)

  14. Male sterility in transgenic tobacco plants induced by tapetum-specific deacetylation of the externally applied non-toxic compound N-acetyl-L-phosphinothricin. (Kriete G; Plant J, 1996 Jun)

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Date: 20 Jan 2000 23:41:59 U
From: (Judy Kew)
From: Patricia Dines,

Thursday, January 20, 2000 3:37:04 PM Subject: Genetic engineering story, OG magazine

* Please feel free to forward to others who might be interested in this topic. *

"The Problem with Genetic Engineering" Organic Gardening Magazine

Hi all -

You might want to check out the story in the Jan/Feb 2000 issue of Organic Gardening (pages 42-7) "The Problem with Genetic Engineering" - "Lax regulation, hidden ingredients, and a plethora of unknowns make this brave new technology a bad beet." By John Grogan and Cheryl Long. It includes:

I like how they pull this information together in a meaningful but readable way. For instance:


"A rising chorus of scientists, academics, and ethicists is voicing alarm at this exploding, and largely uncharted, technology. Jane Rissler, PhD, a former biotechnology regulator with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) how is now with the Union of Concerned Scientists, says, 'We're skeptical of the benefits of this technology, and we're concerned about the risks. We think there are better alternatives to solving challenges in agriculture, and the public should have a say in how the technology is used and developed.' "


"Around the world, protests continue to mount against genetically modified 'Frankenfoods,' as they have been dubbed. The European Union has banned virtually all genetically altered corn imports, effectively freezing out all US corn until recently because modified varieties were not separated from the rest of the crop. The cost to American farmers was about $200 million in 1998."

Now why didn't we see that last little fact on the evening news, or in other major periodicals...?


"For these and other reasons, we at _Organic Gardening_ believe the risks of genetically engineered foods vastly outweigh the benefits. Biotechnology may indeed prove to be to the twenty-first century what the steam engine was to the nineteenth century and what the computer was to the twentieth. But nothing inherent in this technology assures that the changes will be good. The biggest concerns is not what society knows about genetic manipulation but what it does not know. History, from DDT to Love Canal, has been strewn with the inadvertent consequences of 'progress.' It would be the height of hubris to assume that tinkering with evolution, in all its complexity, could have no unforeseen fallout.

"The results of 50 years of chemical-based 'high-tech' agriculture have made clear that we must rethink the way we grow food. The answer, we believe, lies in a return to sustainable, organic growing practices. Biotechnology is merely the next rung on the chemical-farming ladder, providing yet another artificial tool to help perpetuate the shortsighted and unsustainable practices of monoculture agriculture. Monsanto says its herbicide-tolerant crops reduce the need for tilling, preventing erosion. But smart organic practices - employing cover crops, mulches, and other natural techniques - control erosion just as efficiently without the use of dangerous chemicals, and they create healthy soil in the process.

Traditionally farmers have had the closest connection to the natural world, and the deepest understanding of human dependency on the diversity of wild plants and animals. Yet genetic engineering, like the generation of chemical-based solutions before it, perpetuates an agricultural model far removed from nature.

Today, the conventional farmer sits upon a giant tractor, inside an air-conditioned cab, moving through huge fields of a single crop. If the birds stop singing, will he hear the silence. If the monarch butterflies stop fluttering over the milkweed in the fencerow, will he even notice?

Our children and grandchildren have just one future. Are we willing to risk it?"



I hope you enjoy the article!

P. Dines

NOTE: There is some other information on GE at their website , but not this article, except a few little parts.

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Date: 21 Jan 2000 02:56:50 U

Genetic Engineering Should Be Taken Slowly: Professor

Source: Waikato Times, Jan 19, 2000
© 1999, NewsReal, Inc.

Some radical new steps in the genetic engineering of crops should be approached "very slowly and cautiously", Otago University biochemist Warren Tate warns.

Professor Tate said genetically engineered crops offered pest and weed management benefits, with reduced need for agri-chemicals, and could extend the shelf life of food products, reducing waste.

However, some aspects of the proposed technology "must be challenged scientifically", he said on Monday. "I believe that we should proceed very slowly and cautiously, particularly when radical new additions to the tried and true genetic engineering technology for plant modification are being considered.

"Environmental concerns, such as cross pollination of other plants by genetically modified strains, the development of herbicide- resistant pests and the effects of pest-resistant plants on friendly, beneficial insects must be studied with increasing intensity."

Information on those issues was at best sketchy, often contradictory, and more scientific studies were of "paramount importance", he said. A proposed "terminator technology", which would prevent seeds being used again, was fraught with serious potential problems.

Fortunately, Monsanto – the biggest player in the genetically modified food business – had announced it would no longer use this technology, he said.

Genetically modified crops would not have a disastrous effect on the environment if development was measured, and there was proper trialling to ensure there were no "hidden, new or unacceptable risks" for each crop under consideration.

"There must be time for appropriate controls to be put into place, and for consumer-friendly policies such as labelling to be introduced," Prof Tate said.

Consumer resistance to genetically modified food in New Zealand and in Europe "will have the very positive benefit of slowing the whole process down", providing more time to assess potential risks, he said.

In the meantime, New Zealand could benefit from being GM free, but only in the short term. It would eventually hurt New Zealand economically not to be part of the new way of modifying plants, he said. – NZPA

Supplied by New Zealand Press Association

Publication date: Jan 19, 2000 © 1999, NewsReal, Inc.

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Date: 21 Jan 2000 03:55:29 U

Court affirms Pioneer Hi-Bred's patent rights

By Owen Corrigan, Bridge News, January 21, 2000

New York –Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. received a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals affirming the patentability of seeds and plants from seeds.

. . .

The following is the text of today's announcement with emphasis added by Bridge News. BridgeStation links to company data have been inserted at the end:

Federal Appeals Court Affirms Pioneer's Right to Patent Seeds and Plants

Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 19 – Pioneer Hi-bred International, Inc., won a key decision on the patentability of seeds and plants from seeds in the u.s. court of appeals today. the decision ensures continued investment in the development of plants for the benefit of farmers, consumers and the environment.

The U.S. court of appeals for the federal circuit affirmed a district court in iowa's ruling that seeds and plants from seeds can be patented. that ruling was part of a suit pioneer had brought against an iowa farm supply company for re-selling pioneer brand seeds.

"This is an important ruling for plant breeders everywhere," said Herb Jervis, Pioneer chief intellectual property counsel. "It provides a conducive environment for the development of new varieties that will bring benefit to farmers, consumers, and the environment."

The court also ruled that plant breeders could use multiple forms of intellectual property protection - both utility patents and protection through the U.S. Plant Variety Protection Act.

Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., a DuPont company, is the world's leading supplier of plant genetics and technology, delivering science-based solutions in a global industry. With headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer develops, produces and markets a full line of top-quality seeds, forage and grain additives and provides services to customers in over 70 countries.

DuPont is a science company, delivering science-based solutions that make a difference in people's lives in food and nutrition; health care; apparel; home and construction; electronics; and transportation. Founded in 1802, the company operates in 65 countries and has 97,000 employees.

Forward-Looking Statements: This news release contains forward-looking statements based on management's current expectations, estimates and projections. All statements that address expectations or projections about the future, including statements about the company's strategy for growth, product development, market position, expected expenditures and financial results are forward-looking statements. Some of the forward-looking statements may be identified by words like "expects," " anticipates," "plans," "intends," "projects," "indicates," and similar expressions. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions.

Many factors, including those discussed more fully elsewhere in this release and in DuPont's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, particularly its latest annual report on Form 10-K, as well as others, could cause results to differ materially from those stated.

These factors include, but are not limited to changes in the laws, regulations, policies and economic conditions of countries in which the company does business; competitive pressures; successful integration of structural changes, including acquisitions, divestitures and alliances; failure of the company or related third parties to become Year 2000 capable; research and development of new products, including regulatory approval and market acceptance, seasonality of sales in its Agriculture & Nutrition segment.

SOURCE Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.

NOTE TO EDITORS: DuPont's logo is available via Wieck Photo DataBase,972-392-0888

CONTACT: Doyle Karr of Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.,515-270-3428, or

Web site:

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Date: 21 Jan 2000 06:48:16 U

OTA Calls for Moratorium on Using GMOs in Agriculture

SOURCE The Organic Trade Association, GREENFIELD, Mass., Jan. 17 /PRNewswire/

Citing the adverse impact of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on organic production, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is calling for a moratorium on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in all agricultural production.

"More independent research and regulation are necessary before any more GMOs are allowed in agriculture. As long as GMOs continue to be allowed, organic producers are at risk from background levels of GMOs," OTA said in a position statement released today.

Genetic engineering works by moving DNA between species in ways that are not possible in nature. The use of this technology in agriculture has the potential to cause unintended effects on the environment and on human health, OTA pointed out. Organic certification organizations already prohibit the use of GMO seeds or other products of GMOs in organic production.

Although the certified organic label means GMOs are not used, OTA noted that some organic products could inadvertently contain small amounts of GMO material from exposure to pollen from GMO crops in the field or incidental GMO ingredients in processing. Minor ingredients made from corn or soy, in particular, must be carefully sourced to avoid GMO by-products.

At the very minimum, OTA said, there should be mandatory labeling of GMO foods, with the real goal of an outright, worldwide moratorium on GMO use in all agriculture.

For an extended version of this release and additional information, visit:

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the business association representing the organic agriculture industry in North America. Its more than 1,000 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. Founded in 1985, OTA encourages global sustainability through promoting and protecting the growth of diverse organic trade.

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Date: 21 Jan 2000 06:48:16 U

National Organic Standards Ready

By MARTHA MENDOZA, © The Associated Press

PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. (AP) - Consumers who are gobbling up organic products at an unprecedented rate should have a better idea of what they're eating when the nation's first organic labeling rules roll out this year, a federal agriculture official told farmers Thursday. This will not be a perfect rule, a holy grail, but it's a place to start so that farmers and consumers and the government can have some agreement on what said Keith Jones, who heads the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program.

Jones said the rules - expected to take effect this summer - will require organic producers to go through a mandatory planning process, use materials off a restrictive list and get their farming practices verified by an authority.

Enforcement, he said, will be handled by state, county and private agencies that currently oversee the industry with a hodgepodge of rules and guidelines. We have empowered certifiers in this rule. But we're also going to ask said Jones, speaking at the Ecological Farming Conference in Pacific Grove, Calif., the nation's largest annual gathering of organic farmers. guidelines 10 years ago. But earlier proposals included irradiated and genetically engineered food in the organic categories, drawing more than 280,000 protest letters from consumers and organic farmers.

Jones said the revised rules now match industry standards that exclude irradiated and genetically engineered products.

Katherine DiMatteo who heads the Greenville, Mass.-based Organic Trade Association said that despite existing self-regulation, her industry needs the promised federal regulations. Without the government, we would not be able to enforce this program she said.

While the USDA has been grappling with how to define organic, the industry has boomed. Sales reached $6 billion last year, and industry organizations project growth of 20 to 25 percent a year as organic products become mainstream, according to the Organic Trade Association.

Bob Anderson, who chairs the a national organic advisory board and heads the 54-year-old organic farming network Walnut Acres in Penn Creek, Pa., said consumers have a lot to gain. There will finally be a consistent standard, and therefore the consumer he said.

The USDA submitted its proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget last fall. The OMB is required to publish the rules in the Federal Register in February.

After that, there will be a 60-day Congressional review, followed by an expected 18-month implementation period.

AP-NY-01-20-00 1700EST

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Date: 21 Jan 2000 09:12:34 U
From: wytze

Sir Robert May

Today I met Sir Robert May for the first time in my life. At the US GE congress in the Hague. Is he not a topadviser to the gov on GE? I had not heard this news yet, but he exactly worded this arrogant and unacceptable position on GE -organic contamination.

He throws his own judgment on what is organic on the farming community, blaming the organic farmers for being so stupid not to accept GE, an "irrational position", so would he, as a very rational person deal with that? Could this be called state-terrorism?

Indeed it deserves an outcry of outrage. A report on the Congress follows soon.


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Date: 21 Jan 2000 15:52:03 U

USDA Biotech Panel Named

Dear Health Freedom Fighters,

Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman, today announced the names of the members of the new USDA Advisory Committee on Agricultural Biotechnology.

We are pleased to report that this 38 member panel does seem pretty diverse with quite a few people on it that are in favor of labeling genetically engineered foods. Many even support a moratorium on the planting of genetically engineered crops.

When we first heard this advisory committee was being formed, The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods was concerned it would be primarily made up of people who support the continued marketing of unlabeled genetically engineered foods. While many people opposing labeling are on the committee, such as Linda J. Fisher, Vice President for Government and Public Affairs for Monsanto, there are a good number of people on the committee who are sympathetic to our labeling efforts. They include:

Several people on the committee have served on the National Organics Standards Board. The first meeting will be held March 29-30 in Washington DC. The meeting will be open to the public.

Posted below is an article from Associated Press followed by the press release from the USDA that includes the complete list of committee members.

Craig Winters
Executive Director
The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods

The Campaign
PO Box 55699, Seattle, WA 98155
Tel: 425-771-4049    Fax: 603-825-5841
E-mail:    Web Site:

Mission Statement: "To create a national grassroots consumer campaign for the purpose of lobbying Congress and the President to pass legislation that will require the labeling of genetically engineered foods in the United States."

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Date: 21 Jan 2000 23:54:59 U
From: (Judy Kew)
From: Mark Graffis

Greenpeace Wins First Round in EPA Lawsuit to Ban Bt Crops

WASHINGTON, January 19, 2000 – A top court has agreed to hold the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accountable for its decision to legalize the planting of genetically modified crops. In the opening session of Tuesday's oral hearings against the EPA, Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer of the Federal District Court of Washington, D.C., stated he would "hold [EPA's] feet to the fire" and ordered the agency to respond to Greenpeace's charges within 60 days.

Last February, Greenpeace and a coalition of over 70 plaintiffs, including the Center for Food Safety and the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements, sued the EPA, charging the agency with the wanton destruction of the world's most important biological pesticide – Bt. This natural pesticide has been used sparingly by organic farmers for years but is now under threat from genetically engineered crops.

Scientists warn that corn genetically engineered with the Bt pesticide in each of its cells could lead to insect resistance within 3 to 4 years, thereby wiping out the effectiveness of Bt for organic farmers. By aiding in this process, the EPA may force the use of more and newer pesticides in the near future. Studies also have shown pollen from Bt corn to be toxic to monarch and other butterfly larvae.

"This is a great, first legal victory for the environment and for farmers who do not plant genetically modified seed," said Beverley Thorpe of the Greenpeace GMO campaign. "It is essential we get these gene-altered crops off our fields and out of our environment."

Market rejection of Bt corn has cost U.S. farmers more than $200 million in export revenue last year. A recent Reuters poll of 400 farmers (taken at the annual meeting of the nation's largest farm organization, the American Farm Bureau Federation) predicted a 24 percent decline in the planting of Bt corn and a 26 percent decline in the planting of Bt cotton this year. Currently, Bt corn is grown on approximately 20 million acres in the U.S., and Bt cotton on about 7 million acres.

Greenpeace is calling on the EPA to halt all new and current licenses for genetically engineered crops in the U.S., and to urgently reevaluate the promotion of genetically engineered agriculture with an eye toward focusing funding on sustainable agriculture.

Beverley Thorpe, (202) 319-2412
Charles Margulis, Greenpeace, (202) 258-3029 (mobile)
Andrew Kimbrell, counsel and director of Center for Food Safety, (202) 547-9359.

Mark Ritchie, President
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Ave. South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404 USA
612-870-3400 (phone)    612-870-4846 (fax)    cell phone 612-385-7921

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Date: 21 Jan 2000 23:59:16 U
From: (Judy Kew)
From: Cameron Griffith
From: "Biotech Activists"

Gore and Bradley's responses to a GMO question in their January 8 debate in Johnston, Iowa

It was recently pointed out to me by one of our colleagues that, during their January 8 debate in Iowa, the Democratic presidential candidates responded to a question about genetic engineering. In November, the Consumer's Choice Council sent letters to all of the presidential candidates, including Gore and Bradley, requesting an opportunity to brief them and/or their campaign staff on our concerns regarding biotechnology, as well as our support for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food. To date, none of the candidates or their campaigns has responded to this request.

Cameron Griffith

Gore and Bradley's responses to a GMO question

Following is an excerpt of the Democratic presidential debate on January 8 in Johnston, Iowa, involving Vice President Al Gore and former Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey, as recorded by The New York Times:

Show Master RYERSON:
Thank you. Here's an agriculture question from David Shoenbaum who lives in Iowa City. He writes, "Candidates from both parties have told the Des Moines Register that they support genetic engineering, something Iowa agriculture is heavily invested in. We're also heavily dependent on exports, as both of you know.

But genetically engineered products meet heavy resistance in west – in European countries and in Japan. Now a century ago, we could deploy our ships and threaten to shoot if other nations didn't open up their markets. What can we do today?" Senator Bradley, you're first on this one as well.

I think the most important thing we can do is to use our authority under the World Trade Organization in order to petition to get access to markets. When, for example, Europe blocked our beef because of beef hormones, we went to the W.T.O. We farmedCQ a dispute settlement mechanism, we presented our case and they ruled in our favor.

They're still delaying the entry of that beef into Europe, but the decision was made. I think we have to continue to push under the remedies that are available to us under the World Trade Organization to get access to markets for our agricultural goods. But we all know that the problem of agriculture in this country is serious. In Iowa it's dead serious. I've talked to thousands of family farmers over the last year. And it means we have to change policy. It means we have to get the anti-trust division to get after these large packers that are discriminating against family farmers. It means that we have to have a conservation reserve program expanded. It means that we have to provide income supplement to farmers based upon the relationship between price and their costs and it has to go to them with a cap so it only goes to family farmers and not to big corporate farmers.

And then we have to help our family farmers get a bigger chunk of the food dollar. Now they only get 20 cents of the food dollar. They should get more, I was down in Delaware County not so long ago talking to some hog producers and they had an idea, they butchered their own meat. They didn't sell it to a big hog producer and when they did that they were able to sell it. we need to help family farmers move further up that chain and get a bigger piece of that food dollar.

Mr. Vice President.

Well, if I recall the question is about genetically modified organisms and you know the key point is we can't let Europe and Japan determine our farm policy. The decisions on G.M.O.'s as they're referred or hormones in livestock really ought to be based on sound science, not science controlled by people working for the companies that profit from these new technologies, but neutral dispassionate experts who will give us the best and most accurate conclusions about their safety. If they're safe and if they enhance productivity at no risk, then we ought to be able to use them.

Now, the decision on beef, you know, actually what happened is that they decided to accept compensating tariff increases on cheese and a lot of products that are important to them. But now, I've personally been involved in trying to persuade France and the European Union, Japan to take a scientific, reasonable, rational approach on these new products.

Now, with consumer preferences emerging and evolving at some point we've really got to take a hard look and look at our hold cards here, because we don't want farmers to be out on a limb and left holding the bag. But the best approach is to use sound science and make the careful and correct decisions and not let Europe and Japan make them for us. Now of course, we have got to also address these other issues, including it's time to get rid of almost all of the so-called freedom to farm act, because it's been the freedom to fail and it's not working.


Mark Ritchie, President
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Ave. South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404 USA
612-870-3400 (phone)    612-870-4846 (fax)    cell phone 612-385-7921

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Date: 22 Jan 2000 05:21:06 U
From: wytze

US Embassy lobbys for GE foods

By Rik Nijland, Summary Volkskrant 21-1-2000

The Hague- She herself would never threaten with a bomb, says Trix kruger, spokesperson Trix Kruger of the Dutch Platform on Genetechnologies But the fact that the 400 participants of the biotechnology congress, organised by the US embassy, are standing outside the building because of an anonymous bombthreat, is "rather funny", she says. Such an action is an important signal in the battle against these damned GE foods, that especailly American agro biotech industry tries to force through the consumer's throat.

Ambassador Cynthia Schneider in her opneingsspeech does not hide the fact that the Embassy has the task to promote America's way of thinking and to plead industry's case. From everything on the congress speaks the American hope that the unwilling Europeans will abandon there resistance to the tampering with genes, if alone to avoid spreading of this European disease. Thursday it was memorized that several countries in the Third World, like Mexico and Thailand have been caught by the suspicion-virus: if they don't trust it in Europe, than we don't want it either.


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Date: 22 Jan 2000 05:39:14 U
From: wytze

"Democracy is unpredictable"

The Hague.

"Democracy is unpredictable, and that is not in industry's interest or need" was the most remarkable line from the speech of Matthias Kummer, PR organiser for Swiss Biotechbusiness, at the US conference in the Hague. Kummer explained and unfolded the industry strategy in the two years campaign in Swiss for the referendum on a ban on GE. "We did everything to avoid the foodissue and focused entirely on medical benefits".


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Date: 22 Jan 2000 05:46:46 U
From: wytze

Dutch Minister of Agriculture calls for support organic farming

The Hague

Dutch Minister of Agriculture Laurens Jan Brinkhorst in his speech at the US GE conference in the Hague, stressed the importance of consumer choice, labelling of GE foods, need to support organic farming and, when asked on the subject of contamination, acknowledged that organic farmers need to be protected and that the problem needs to be adressed. Brinkhorst however, does not oppose genetechnology. He called for free technologytransfer to Southern Countries.


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Date: 22 Jan 2000 05:54:10 U
From: MichaelP

[Thanks karlW]

The U$ wants to subordinate safety concerns to WTO "free-trade" rules. –Just a taste of things to come !!


U$ objects to treaty regulating GM-organism trade

By Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby
BBC Saturday, 22 January, 2000, 07:03 GMT

"A deal without America's signature would be largely ineffective"

Fears for GM treaty
A chilly outlook in Montreal, say environmentalists

The UK Government has said talks on a treaty to regulate the trade in genetically-modified organisms could fail to reach agreement - because of US objections. The treaty would allow countries to stop the import of produce with safety concerns and has been five years in the planning.

UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher said there were pretty narrow limits for the negotiations. "We enter into them in good faith. We are keen to have a conclusion, but not at any price."

The talks, in Montreal, Canada, are due to start on 24 January. A previous attempt to reach a deal, in February 1999, failed.

Six countries - the US, Canada, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Australia - known as the Miami group opposed the draft protocol, arguing it would constrain free trade. But the draft did receive the backing of most developing countries and the European Union.

The text to be debated in Montreal defines the protocol's aim as ensuring "an adequate level of protection in the field of the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms" (LMOs) that could have an adverse effect.

But the US Department of Agriculture says the draft protocol clashes with US trade interests. It demands that the treaty should be subject to the rules of the World Trade Organisation. Mr Meacher said: "If it's subordinate to the WTO, there's little point in having a protocol. One of our key positions is that the WTO should be on a par with multilateral environmental agreements, and we are unwavering on that".

The US has not signed or ratified the biodiversity convention, but as the principal trader in GMOs it wields great influence in the protocol negotiations. Mr Meacher said it was "an extraordinary situation - but that's the way the world is". One leading UK conservation group, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, says the key issues in Montreal include:

Pete Hardstaff, of the RSPB, said: "It's beginning to sound suspiciously as though the US Government is preparing to pull the plug on this crucial treaty for a second time".

Many environmental groups see the protocol talks as important not only in their own right, but also as an indicator of how governments will seek to resolve the potential conflict between trade and environment after the collapse of the WTO talks in Seattle.

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Date: 22 Jan 2000 12:53:43 U

Related Articles Issue in Depth: The Human Genome Project

Gene Therapy Ordered Halted at University


WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 – The Food and Drug Administration temporarily shut down human gene therapy experiments at the University of Pennsylvania today after an inspection uncovered "numerous serious deficiencies" in ensuring patient safety during a clinical trial that cost an 18-year-old Arizona man his life.

The decision to place the entire program – eight experiments, including five active clinical trials in diseases ranging from cystic fibrosis to breast cancer – on "clinical hold" is highly unusual. The hold is indefinite, agency officials said, and will not be lifted until the agency is convinced that the university's Institute for Human Gene Therapy can follow federal rules designed to protect study volunteers from harm.

The agency notified the Penn scientists of the decision in a two-page letter today. In response, the university's president, Judith Rodin, pledged to appoint a committee of outside scientists to review the institute's work. In a statement, she said Penn "has cooperated fully with all aspects of the F.D.A.'s investigation and would continue to do so."

The agency's action comes two days after its investigators completed a detailed inspection of patient records and laboratory data from the experiment that killed the Tucson man, Jesse Gelsinger, on Sept. 17. Mr. Gelsinger died of multiple organ failure caused by a severe immune reaction to an infusion of corrective genes and is the first person to have died as a direct result of gene therapy.

Some of the findings, including evidence that Mr. Gelsinger was ineligible for the experiment and that the scientists had failed to report serious side effects in other patients that could have put a halt to the study, were made public last month during a meeting of the Recombinant D.N.A. Advisory Committee, the panel that oversees gene therapy research for the National Institutes of Health.

But the final inspection report, which cited 18 specific violations, also turned up new problems. It found, for instance, that the Pennsylvania scientists had enrolled all 18 patients without filling out eligibility forms. Instead, the Food and Drug Administration said, the scientists created the forms after Mr. Gelsinger died, leaving them unsigned and undated. By that time, the agency's inquiry had already begun.

"This is one of the many concerns that we have had about the conduct of the study," said Dr. Philip Noguchi, the agency official in charge of gene therapy research. 'It indicates to us that the sponsor was not following rules, was not following our regulations and in general was not reporting to F.D.A. in a timely fashion."

Dr. James Wilson, the director of the gene therapy institute, did not take telephone calls today. But in the past, he has strongly defended his work, including the decision to treat Mr. Gelsinger.

The death rocked the nine-year-old field of gene therapy, a field that has had few treatment successes, and today's announcement was another blow. Dr. Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, said the move could hurt gene therapy programs across the country.

"If there are violations and problems it can have a devastating impact across the board, for all gene therapy research, at every institution," Dr. Caplan said. He predicted a "loss of funding and a loss of enthusiasm."

Congress has already indicated its concern. Senator Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee, has called a hearing for next week to examine whether there is sufficient oversight for patient safety in gene therapy experiments.

One of the speakers at next week's hearing will be Paul Gelsinger, Jesse Gelsinger's father. Until now, the elder Mr. Gelsinger has supported the scientists at Penn, even as the Food and Drug Administration released its highly critical preliminary results last month. But today Mr. Gelsinger indicated he had changed his mind and said he had hired a lawyer, although no suit has been filed.

"Everybody was wrong," Mr. Gelsinger said sadly in a telephone conversation from Tucson. "Even me."

He declined to elaborate, referring questions to the lawyer, Alan Milstein, who said he was not surprised by the agency's move. "It seems appropriate in light of what happened to Jesse," Mr. Milstein said.

In interviews today, leaders in the gene therapy field also appeared to be backing away from their support of Dr. Wilson.

"All I can say is we are surprised at this," Dr. Savio Woo, president of the American Society for Gene Therapy, said in a telephone interview.

"But that being said, we support the F.D.A.'s action as being appropriate. If there are all these numerous violations then any situation would need to be put on hold until they can clean up their act."

Among the agency's findings were serious flaws in the way Penn scientists explained the benefits and the risks of the experiment to patients, a process known as informed consent. For 9 of the 18 patients, the agency said, "the consent process was not well documented." Investigators could not always determine who had conducted the informed consent discussions and who had answered the questions; in one case, for example, a patient and a witness signed the informed consent document on

March 17, 1997, but the investigator signed it on June 5, a week before the gene therapy was administered.

While those failures may sound like minor details of recordkeeping, Dr. W. French Anderson, a gene therapy scientist at the University of Southern California, said the agency took them seriously, especially when a pattern emerged.

Dr. Noguchi said today that the investigation was continuing. The next step, he said, is for Dr. Wilson to respond to the inspection.

One reason Mr. Gelsinger's death has generated so much controversy is that he was not particularly sick before he died. He suffered from a relatively mild form of ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency, an inherited disorder in which the liver is unable to process ammonia, a toxic breakdown product of protein. The disorder was kept in check through diet and drugs.

The experiment in which Mr. Gelsinger participated was designed to test a treatment for babies with a fatal form of the disease. It involved an infusion of trillions of particles of the ornithine transcarbamylase gene, tucked inside a weakened cold virus.

Dr. Wilson has consistently maintained that the Penn scientists had no evidence that would have led them to predict Mr. Gelsinger's death, and Dr. Noguchi, of the F.D.A., would not say whether the agency thought the death could have been prevented. "I'm not going to speculate on what these things really mean," he said.

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Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2000 18:25:14 -0600

Good news: The Ban-GEF Archive with Search Engine!

Hi all,

I have some good news for you...

I've put all the archives of Ban-GEF mail since late 1997on the web (finally) . I've set up a search engine and it's being crawled right now.

So, sometime tonight you should be able to go to and get to the search page.

To see the individual digest archives for each year, add the two digit year to the end of that URL. for example: and (give it a minute to build the list).

Let me know if you find any major problems with it. The robot may take a while to finish its crawl, so don't expect to find everything available immediately.

Bill Christensen

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