Genetically
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27 January 2000

Table of Contents

New talks on treaty for genetically altered products face major rifts
Prof. Anne Clark: Genetically Engineered Foods
ECUADOR: Activists Block Ship Carrying Transgenic Soy
EU Appeals for Better Food Labeling
Green Groups Hope to Influence Biosafety Talks
Nations Face Off in Montreal on Issues Including Genetically Modified Foods
Protesters Call For Labels On 'Modified' Food
America 'set to oppose GM food deal'
Groups march peacefully ahead of biosafety talks
Action opportunity: Biosafety Protocol Action
More internet URLs
Canadian Oppinion Poll
EU and US set for GM food clash
South Africa Sees Genetically-Modified Food
Engineered Crops Face Barren Season
British Patent on Cloned Human Cells Raises Ethics Concerns
Seagram Closes Door on GM Crops
Canada Under Fire For Stand On Genetically Modified Food
Association calls for labelling of genetically modified food
Farmers Seek Genetic Crop Controls
New food watchdog backs GM labelling
Genetic Engineering 'Most Menacing', Says Scientist
Scientists, academics create GM watchdog,
International GM Safety Rules in Danger -- No EU Sell-Out say Greens/EFA
Monsanto's name radically modified
Corn Growers Believe Farmers Are Being Deceived Over the Issue of Genetically Modified Crops
Greenpeace Demands Canada and the US Stop Blocking the Biosafety Protocol
Genetically modified food stirs up outcry over labels OTTAWA
GM Foods 'morally wrong': U.S. activist says

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Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 14:31:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

New talks on treaty for genetically altered products face major rifts

Source: Associated Press
http://cnniw.newsreal.com/cgi-bin/NewsService?osform_template=pages/cnniwStory&ID=cnniw&storypath=News/Story_2000_01_20.NRdb@2@2@3@51&path=News/Category.NRdb@2@23

TORONTO (AP) – What would happen if a genetically modified crop, such as corn made resistant to a certain pest, spread its seed through cross-pollination to mix with unaltered plants?

Might such tampering with the building blocks of life disrupt nature's fragile food chain? Hasten the extinction of species? Unleash a biological time bomb?

The possible ramifications aren't fully known, and that is the problem facing hundreds of government ministers, environmentalists and other delegates converging on Montreal to try to agree on regulating trade of genetically engineered plants and animals.

The Montreal meeting from Jan. 24-28 is an extension of failed talks 11 months earlier in Cartagena, Colombia, on what is called the Biosafety Protocol. The Cartagena meeting collapsed when the United States, Canada, Australia, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile blocked a draft accepted by 125 other countries.

Environmental groups and developing nations accused the United States of protecting its large and growing biotechnology industry by undermining a compromise agreement brokered by the European Union.

Distrustful of the powerful U.S. industry's motives, they say the unchecked tampering with nature inherent in gene-splicing has potential for environmental catastrophe.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 14:31:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Prof. Anne Clark: Genetically Engineered Foods

Radio Interview With Dr. Anne Clark, Associate Professor Of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph.

Ottawa Station: CBO-FM, Program: CBO Morning Time: 06:18, 20 January 2000

ANTHONY GERMAINE (CBO-FM):
A group of Canadians is looking to step up the debate over genetically engineered foods. The group is made up of scientists, academics, and farmers, and they call themselves G.E. Alert. Ann Clark is one of the members. She's also an Associate Professor of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph. Dr. Clark just published a review of the way that genetically engineered foods are tested by Health Canada, and she says the tests simply are not good enough. We reached Dr. Clark in Wooster, Ohio, where she's working on sabbatical. Good morning.

ANN CLARK:
(Member, G. E. Alert): Good morning to you.

GERMAINE:
Now Dr. Clark, what exactly did you examine when you set out to analyse the way Health Canada tests genetically engineered crops?

CLARK:
Well, we did something that I would really encourage your listeners to do, and that was go to the website for Health Canada where they have posted the decisions for each of the 42 genetically engineered crops which have been approved for use in Canada. And we looked specifically at how... let's put it this way, what information Health Canada regulators accepted from industry to indicate lack of risk of toxicity and allergenicity.

GERMAINE:
Okay. Toxicity and allergenicity?

CLARK:
Right.

GERMAINE:
You better explain those.

CLARK:
Well, some toxins, something that would be toxic to health, or something that would be a... create allergic responses.

GERMAINE:
Right. And what did you find?

CLARK:
Well, it was interesting and surprising. We found that, contrary to what industry has said all along, and what government regulators have said all along, seventy percent of the crops that have been approved were approved based on no laboratory or feeding trial tests for toxicity, and 100 percent of the approved crops had no feeding trial or laboratory tests for allergenicity at all.

GERMAINE:
So I just want to get this straight; you're telling me that two-thirds of the crops that have been approved weren't tested for toxicity and none of them were tested for their allergenic potential?

CLARK:
That's right. The conclusion of safety, based on toxicity and allergenicity for those crops was based entirely on inferences drawn from assumptions that we in G.E. Alert considered to be unfounded assumptions.

GERMAINE:
Well, when you talk about inferences that were drawn from unfounded assumptions can you be a little more explicit? What does that mean?

CLARK:
Sure. The central premise of the risk assessment system in Canada is that when you insert a transgene, any kind of a gene, into a new host, for example the gene for Round Up resistance, into a soybean, the only thing that is affected is the trait that you're inserting. In other words, you're conferring Round Up resistance to that soybean.

GERMAINE:
What's Round Up resistance?

CLARK:
Round Up is an herbicide. It's a very commonly used herbicide, and the advantage to this from a commercial point of view is you can then spray Round Up on a growing field, a field that has soybeans in it, and it kills everything except the soybean. So it's a vehicle for simplifying weed control.

GERMAINE:
Okay, so you make the plant resistant to it so you can just spray like crazy.

CLARK:
Well, I'm sure they don't spray like crazy because it costs money, but that's the idea, and it's something you couldn't do before because Round Up is a broad-spectrum herbicide and it would have killed the soybean. So it's... that's the logic behind the use of it. But what has actually happened is that when you insert a transgene you actually affect other traits, things that have no relationship at all to Round Up resistance. And this is a process problem. It results because of the process of the insertion of the transgene itself, which is done randomly. The transgene doesn't go into the same place each time; you don't know on which chromosome it's gonna go, you don't know where it's gonna go on the chromosome. And the order that it goes in makes a difference in other traits. So completely unrelated traits can be affected.

GERMAINE:
So just to be totally clear here, once you insert this transgene... you have an objective in mind in this instance with the soybean, to make it resistant to a pesticide...

CLARK:
That's right.

GERMAINE:
... you don't really know what other aspects of the plant that... that are going to be affected. Is that right?

CLARK:
That's correct. And you don't know unless you look. And the system that is used to assess in Canada is based entirely on the target gene and the single protein that is coded for by that target gene, and that's all that is tested. So, for example, on 30 percent of the crops, they actually do test for toxicity, they do laboratory tests, and they do feeding trial tests. But they don't feed the whole grain, or the whole potato. What they do is they purify a single protein, so a single purified protein is what is tested in a lab and what is fed to rats to test for acute toxicity. This is a very different thing than feeding the entire grain, in which these other side effects, potential side effects, could be detected. So by the protocol that's used using only purified proteins, really avoids the whole issue of secondary side effects. This is not a theoretical issue, and this is not something that is necessarily going to be caught before the product gets to market. A case in point is Round Up Ready Soybeans which were grown in Georgia for the last two years. Now the farmers growing this crop noticed that the stems on the soybean plants were splitting when the spring soils were very hot, which was unusual for them, and this happened only with Round Up Ready Soybeans. The original cultivar that the Round Up resistant gene was put in, this didn't happen.

GERMAINE:
The cultivar?

CLARK:
The original variety that the transgene was put into.

GERMAINE:
Right.

CLARK:
So you have an existing variety, and you insert this transgene. The existing variety didn't have the problem, but the transgenic variety did.

GERMAINE:
So the ones that they'd altered genetically were splitting.

CLARK:
That's right. And what happened then was the fungus... fungal pathogens invade the split and it dropped their yields by about 40 percent. So they took this concern to researchers at the University of Georgia and they looked into it and confirmed that in fact it was an interaction between the transgenic plant and the hot soils that caused this to happen. It doesn't happen in cool soils and it didn't happen with any other cultivar. In the other transgenic cultivar it didn't happen.

GERMAINE:
So if I understand what you're saying the genetic alteration meant that they had fewer successful plants.

CLARK:
It... well, what it essentially did is it affected traits other than the intended traits. And in this particular case it was a very obvious trait, the stems were splitting. And what we in G.E. Alert are suggesting is that many things could be affected and you will never know if you don't look for them. And we don't look for them in the risk assessment system that's used for either food safety or environmental risk in Canada. And keep in mind this problem with the soybeans, this escaped detection from the proprietors, the owners of the Round Up Ready Soybeans, and the regulators. They both missed it and it got out into commerce, and it has affected yields in soybeans in commerce.

GERMAINE:
Okay. You spent a fair time on this Round Up Ready Soybean example. What's the lesson there?

CLARK:
Well, the lesson is that when you insert a transgene more than one thing is affected, and so you have to look for that. You have to test for other things. And we're not testing. That's the criticism.

GERMAINE:
So what is it that Health Canada should be doing differently?

CLARK:
Well, what I would suggest, because this is not my field, I'm a pasture scientist, is they should go to the professional associations, the professional societies of entomologists or toxicologists or whatever it might be, and ask them to respond. What are the issues that you think should be considered in a risk assessment protocol? And how would you assess it? And I would go back to the professionals who were experts in the field who have not been consulted in developing this technology and get their opinion. That's how I would do it.

GERMAINE:
Now, finally, do we as consumers have anything at our disposal, anything at our means that we can do to actually put some pressure on Health Canada? What would you suggest that we as consumers of food do about this?

CLARK:
Well, you're getting a little out of my expertise 'cause we're all scientists and we're really just interested in insuring that the decisions that are made on genetically engineered food in Canada are based on sound science, and clearly they're not in this case. How consumers choose to take that information and use it is really to their discretion. But I think... I think there are many options that are available to them, and I guess I don't need to advise them how to do that.

GERMAINE:
Okay. Well thank you very much.

CLARK:
I thank you.

GERMAINE:
Okay, bye now.

CLARK:
Bye bye.

GERMAINE:
Dr. Ann Clark is an Associate Professor of plant agriculture at the University of Guelph and a member of G.E. Alert – it's a group of scientists, academics and farmers who are hoping to fuel a debate over genetically engineered foods.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 14:31:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

ECUADOR: Activists Block Ship Carrying Transgenic Soy

By Kintto Lucas

QUITO, Jan 12 (IPS) - Activists and small farmers in Ecuador blocked a United States ship from docking at the port of Guayaquil and unloading 30,000 tonnes of transgenic soya.

Fifty activists of the local environmental group Ecological Action and members of the National Peasant Coordinator used two small boats to cut off Frina'' Tuesday, board it and keep it from approaching the port.

Other environmentalists entered the offices of the port authority, along with People's Defender (ombudsman) Hern n Ulloa, and a civilian judge, and successfully demanded that port authorities refuse permission for the ship to dock, in accordance with Ecuador's ban on the entry of transgenic products.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 14:31:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

EU Appeals for Better Food Labeling

Source: Associated Press, Jan 21, 2000

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – Leading European health officials repeated calls Friday for the labeling of genetically modified foods, saying measures need to be taken to gain public support on the sensitive food-safety issue.

In an appeal at a biotechnology conference in The Hague, David Byrne, the European Union's commissioner for health and consumer protection, said Europeans consider safety "the most important ingredient of their food" and demand information about what they're eating.

Speaking at the conclusion of the two-day, U.S.-sponsored meeting, Byrne said consumers have "consistently demanded that foods be labeled ... in order to make an informed choice."

A legal framework for genetically modified products is being hammered out by European legislators to ensure that consumers are provided with "clear information and a choice between products," Byrne said.

The commission already has approved rules that would require companies to label foods when genetically modified ingredients make up more than 1 percent of the total.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 14:31:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Green Groups Hope to Influence Biosafety Talks

By Robert Melnbardis, Reuters, Jan 20/00

MONTREAL, - Groups opposed to the growing use of genetically modified organisms in crops and food products hope, according to this story, that their message will be heard at U.N. talks in Montreal next week, even though they will not be taking part.

The story says that environmental organizations and public interest groups such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the Council of Canadians are gathering in Montreal ahead of the Monday start of talks among 134 countries on a proposed Biosafety Protocol. An agreement, if reached, would establish rules for the international movement of genetically modified organisms. Public interest groups said on Thursday they will closely monitor the five days of negotiations being held under the auspices of the United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity. The outside groups will not have access to the negotiations, but will be allowed to monitor the delegates' working group discussions.

Louise Gale, political advisor for Greenpeace International, was quoted as saying, "One of the main reasons we're here is to make sure that governments know we're here and we are watching them. If we do hear that governments are perhaps doing dirty deals, then we will make sure that those dirty deals are exposed."


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Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 14:31:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Nations Face Off in Montreal on Issues Including Genetically Modified Foods

By MARK ABLEY, Front Line, The Montreal Gazette
January 20, 2000, A1

According to this story, what is at stake in the Montreal meetings is the power of nations to say no to imports of genetically modified foods, and to create rules for environmental protection that are not subject to the World Trade Organization. What may also be at risk is a serious disruption of the current trading system. We're afraid that Canada and its allies in the Miami Group are going to kill the whole deal. We're worried that the environment will lose out to trade interests, and that Canada will be the axeman. The U.S. is using Canada to

One member of the official Canadian delegation, speaking off the record, was cited as telling The Gazette that the fundamental problem is that the Departments of Environment and Health dropped the ball on the issue, leaving it largely in the hands of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

It's not even certain whether Canada's environment minister, David Anderson, will attend the conference. Canada's position is now seen by the vast majority of countries - including most of our North Atlantic Treaty The damage to our


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Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 12:51:20 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

The following is a news item posted on CBC NEWS ONLINE at

Protesters Call For Labels On 'Modified' Food

WebPosted Sun Jan 23 09:03:55 2000 http://www.cbcnews.cbc.ca

TORONTO – Hundreds of demonstrators, some dressed as Frankenstein and vegetables, demonstrated outside grocery stores in several Canadian cities Saturday.

They demanded all genetically modified food be labelled, so consumers know what they're eating.

They also called on governments to do more research to make sure altered food is safe for people and the environment.

The protesters, carrying placards and dancing to music, are planning more demonstrations when an international conference on genetically modified food gets under way in Montreal on Monday.

It's estimated that about 60 per cent of processed food in Canada contains ingredients made from more than 40 different genetically modified crops.

Advocates and opponents of such biotechnology are expected to clash at the meeting.


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Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 12:51:20 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

America 'set to oppose GM food deal'

Associated Newspapers(London), 22 January 2000

The US is threatening to block a new international deal regulating the trade and use of genetically modified organisms, wildlife campaigners warn.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said the proposed international Biodiversity Protocol aims to ensure the safe handling, transfer and use of GMOs that may have an adverse effect on the environment.

But the US Department of Agriculture claims the treaty clashes with US trade interests.


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Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 12:51:20 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Groups march peacefully ahead of biosafety talks

By Robert Melnbardis, Reuters Story, January 22, 2000

MONTREAL, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Groups opposed to the use of genetically modified organisms in food marched peacefully on Saturday to the venue of upcoming U.N. talks on a new international agreement to protect biological diversity.

Police estimated that roughly 300 people, including adults with children and university students, participated in the two-hour demonstration held in temperatures of minus 20 degrees Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit) and gusting winds.

"It went very peacefully. There were no incidents," said Montreal Urban Police Commander Andre Durocher.

The marchers returned to a local university for a conference on genetic engineering and trade hosted by Greenpeace and other environmental and public interest groups. Participants said they wanted to get their message across even though they will not be participating in the U.N talks, which begin formally on Monday.

"We are entitled as human beings to live in a world where we can choose what we can eat, as long as we don't interfere with other people's right," said protester Dominique Carrara, 54, who carried a placard reading: "No GMOs (genetically modified organisms) on my plate."

The protesters were hoping to bring pressure to bear on the delegates from 134 countries gathering in Montreal to try to finish negotiations on a U.N.-sponsored Biosafety Protocol. Heading into the talks, the United States is at odds with the European Union and developing countries on a range of issues.

The EU wants the protocol to cover food safety issues related to genetically modified crops, but the United States has tried to keep the talks focused on the environmental aspects of genetically modified organisms.

The United States also wants to ensure that the protocol does not override the rights and obligations of countries under other international agreements, in particular the World Trade Organization.

Jeremy Rifkin, the Washington-based environmental activist whose group backed a class action lawsuit filed against life sciences group Monsanto Co. over its handling of genetically modified crops, told Reuters the Montreal talks may well collapse or result in a watered down agreement.

"A collapse or less-than-full agreement works against the biotech industry in a major way because the clock is ticking against them," Rifkin said.

"If the talks collapse, that means more unpredictability because then countries will go their own way."

Meanwhile, Francois Clermont, of Biotech Action Montreal, which organized the march along with Greenpeace and the public interest group Council of Canadians, said the groups plan to hold daily vigils outside the biosafety talks at the U.N.-affiliated International Civil Aviation Organization.

But unlike the demonstrations against the World Trade Organization talks in Seattle last November that degenerated into riots as demonstrators prevented delegates from reaching their meetings, the nongovernmental groups in Montreal do not want to disrupt the biosafety talks.

"We will hand out pamphlets and other information to the delegates. It will be peaceful," Clermont said.


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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 11:02:57 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net

Action opportunity: Biosafety Protocol Action

Dear friends,

In the context of the international Biosafety Protocal meetings now going on in Montreal, Maude Barlow, Jeremy Rifkin, and other activists and scientists from all over the world are urging citizens to contact their government representatives and let them know about their grave concerns regarding genetic engineerings. Canadians can contact their MP's, Ministers, etc.

Here are some of the points, and the website where you can do this easily:

Re: Biosafety Protocol Action

FAX THE FEDS

Talks on the Biosafety Protocol have begun in Montreal this week, and it is paramount that we let our government know that the following issues of the Protocol should not only be addressed, but respected and implemented.

  1. The Advance Informed Agreement (AIA) Procedure The AIA Procedure should be the heart of this Protocol. This means that countries importing GMOs can demand that exporters give them prior notification about the GM product. This will allow the importing country to make a risk assessment of the GMO, before approving the trade.

  2. Precautionary Principle It must be clear that it is legitimate for states to refuse a GMO import on the basis of risks to human health, socio-economic and cultural factors and not just scientific evidence.

  3. The Biosafety Protocol should take precedence over the provisions of international trade rules, should there be conflicts between the two agreements.

  4. Liability Companies exporting GMOs should be strictly liable in the event of problems that arise and should provide adequate compensation for any damages to health, environment or livelihoods. The Protocol must include provisions on strict liability to recognise that GE is a new technology. Making companies liable is one way to ensure that they undertake adequate testing and minimise potential risks.

Another thing Maude Barlowe mentioned is that we should demand that our Environment Minister David Anderson attend these very important talks, and of course, that GM Foods should be clearly labelled as such!

An easy way to contact the feds via the Internet is: www.web.net/faxfeds


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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 13:46:17 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

========================================================
World Environment News - January 24th, 2000 from Planet Ark
========================================================
Here are today's Reuters 'World Environment News' headlines.

More internet URLs

Click on the link below the headline to check out the full story, or go to the Planet Ark news page at

http://www.planetark.org/news

Japan to ban unapproved GMO imports from 2001 http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=5522

Greenpeace atop cranes in Denmark to stop GM beans http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=5517

Groups march peacefully ahead of biosafety talks http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=5518

Delegates ready bio-safety food talks in Montreal http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=5521

NY Times article on the Montreal Biotech talks. http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/science/012400sci-gm-regulate.html

Canola growers watching the biotechnology debate closely; many won't decide what to plant until spring
LEANNE YOHEMAS-HAYES, The Canadian Press http://ca.dailynews.yahoo.com/ca/headlines/cpress/ts/story.html?s=v/ca/cpress/20000123/ts/health_819025_1.htm

Foodfight looms BBCwebsite http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_611000/611848.stm


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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 13:46:17 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Canadian Oppinion Poll

By Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen Saturday, January 22, 2000 A13

Three-quarters of Canadians fear that genetically modified food will damage their health, says an Environics poll.

And the poll, commissioned by the anti-GM group the Council of Canadians, found 95 per cent think consumers should be able to buy non-GM foods. That's almost impossible today because GM food isn't labeled.

As well, 94 percent said Canada should have the right to ban imports of genetically modified foods "if there are concerns about health or environment safety."

Environics says a poll of this type, conducted in 902 interviews nationwide over the past month, is valid within 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Environics blended the questions about GM foods into its regular "Focus Canada Report", a poll done every three months on current social and political issues.

It asked people what they though of the statement:"I worry about the safety of genetically engineered foods."

Seventy-five per cent agreed, 24 per cent disagreed, and only one per cent had no opinion.

Peter Bleyer, executive director of the Council of Canadians, said the poll shows an overwhelming wave of public opinion. The public is as worked up about this issue as it is about federal subsidies to professional hockey, he said.

And he said Canada should support countries that want the power to ban imports of GM foods. A set of international negotiations on this issue runs next week in Montreal.

Canada is one of a group of countries that produce genetically modified crops, such as corn, canola and soybeans, and that oppose restrictions on trade in these foods.


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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 13:46:17 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

BBC Business News

EU and US set for GM food clash

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/business/newsid_616000/616344.stm
Monday, 24 January, 2000, 06:49 GMT

The US will oppose "extreme proposals" in Montreal

The United States is set for a new trade clash with the European Union over the regulation of genetically-modified food. Talks open on Monday in Montreal about a new treaty which would make safety the priority when countries decide whether to allow the import of genetically-modified (GM) foods.

But the US is expected to oppose the deal. It has made clear it prefers to discuss the issue in the World Trade Organisation instead, where commercial considerations would loom larger in such trade decisions. The US is the world's largest exporter of GM foods and crops. Environmental campaigners want to ensure that countries have the right to block the import of GM products until they have been subjected to rigorous scientific tests. Clash at Seattle

The two sides last clashed on the issue at the Seattle trade talks in December. UK environment secretary Michael Meacher said on Saturday he remained "hopeful" a deal could be reached which would satisfy environmental campaigners.

But David Sandelow, who will head the US delegation at the meeting, said "extreme proposals" would be vigorously opposed. The proposed international Biodiversity Protocol is aimed at ensuring the safe handling, transfer and use of GM organisms which may have an adverse effect on the environment.

It was blocked by six countries, including the US and Canada last February amid concerns that it constrained free trade. But Mr Meacher told BBC Radio 5 Live there had since been "changes in the international climate". He said: "The US is changing, the financial markets are changing and Deutsche Bank have advised Monsanto to get out of biotechnology and reduce their exposure.

The agreement on GM products was rejected by six countries last year "That will make a difference to the attitude of the Americans. "The US agricultural secretary made what I think was a very brave speech in the middle of last year warning that the US cannot force consumers to buy products they don't want."

Mr Meacher said the impact on the environment or human health of GM organisms (GMOs) was not yet known. He said: "It is precisely for this reason Europe and the UK believes it is critical that countries should have choice in this matter." 'Reasonably balanced'


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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 13:46:17 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

South Africa Sees Genetically-Modified Food

CAPE TOWN (Reuters)

Policy Soon. – The South African government said on Monday it was pushing ahead with plans to introduce regulations this year for the labeling of genetically modified food.

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000124/sc/safrica_food_1.html


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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 13:46:17 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Engineered Crops Face Barren Season

By Peter Kendall Tribune Environment Writer
http://chicagotribune.com/news/printedition/article/0,2669,SAV-0001240052,FF.html January 24, 2000

Farmers Fear Controversy Over Genetically Altered Seed May Make Harvest Unmarketable.--

Last spring, half the soybeans Terry Wolf planted on his farm in central Illinois were genetically engineered, technologically wondrous crops that gave him an edge in the never-ending battle with cocklebur, water hemp and other pernicious weeds.

This year, though, he'll plant none of the high-tech beans.

As Wolf and other farmers across the state buy bags of seed and ready their tractors for spring planting, many are turning away from genetically engineered plants for the first time since the crops stormed the market in 1995.

They fear that the crops they sow might be hard to sell if controversy over genetically modified organisms grows over the summer along with their corn and soybeans.

"I would hate to raise 1,200 acres of soybeans and find out I can't deliver them anywhere," Wolf said. "The issue is going to be too volotile to take that risk."


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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 13:46:17 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

British Patent on Cloned Human Cells Raises Ethics Concerns

By Justin Gillis, Washington Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, January 25, 2000; Page A05

A patent newly issued by the British government appears to cover cloned human cells at the earliest stages of development, when they would in theory be capable of developing into a human being.

The patent, issued last week with little fanfare, is raising fears among a handful of anti-biotechnology activists that another ethical barrier has fallen, and that a nation has, in effect, countenanced the patenting of human life. This group, led by author and anti-biotechnology crusader Jeremy Rifkin, is preparing a challenge to the British patent, and will ask that it be narrowed or overturned.

Geron Corp., the California company that controls the patent, argues that it is necessary to protect the company's commercial interests.


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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 13:46:17 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Seagram Closes Door on GM Crops

By David Stonehouse, The Ottawa Citizen, January 21, 2000, A4

Corn growers in Manitoba say they have been told that distilling giant Seagram will not be taking any genetically modified crops next year.

Although the company is saying little about the decision, the association representing the farmers says a Seagram official in the United States confirmed the company would not be buying genetically modified crop.


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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 13:48:07 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Canada Under Fire For Stand On Genetically Modified Food

National Post, with files from The Canadian Press, Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Canada under fire for stand on genetically modified food Priority on trade; developing nations fear threat to crops

MONTREAL - Canada's position on genetically modified food came under fire yesterday at an international trade conference.

Delegates from about 130 countries are meeting in Montreal to set ground rules for the potentially enormous trade in genetically modified organisms –which include long-lasting tomatoes and chemical-resistant grain.

Canada wants the rules regarding the trade in modified food defined in terms of economics.

But some developing nations at the conference say genetically altered organisms may threaten their native crops and ecosystems.

Nations such as Nigeria want any protocol reached by the conference to reflect this concern for safety and environmental protection.

Protesters outside the meeting denounced the position taken by Canada and other big food-exporting countries. They set the tone with a puppet dressed as a genetically altered cob of corn, bristling with teeth and a Greenpeace banner proclaiming: "No to genetic pollution; Biosafety now."

Steve Shallhorn, spokesman for the environmental group Greenpeace, said the Canadian position reflects the needs of the biotech industry.

"They [the federal government] tried to pull a fast one on consumers, but once people realized they're eating food that's genetically altered, they've become quite concerned," Mr. Shallhorn said.

"They're saying: 'What benefit is there to me or the environment? The food is no more nutritious, it's not cheaper, we're taking all sorts of risks and we don't know what the long-term effects are of altering genes and taking genes from one species and inserting them into another.' "

Canada has a prominent role at the week-long meeting in part because it was the first country to sign the 1993 Convention on Biological Diversity, which forms the legal foundation for the proposed new protocol.

Canada is also chairman of the so-called Miami group – the U.S., Argentina, Australia, Chile, and Uruguay – which is seen as pushing for wide acceptance of genetically altered products.

Richard Ballhorn, a co-chairman of the Canadian delegation, denied that Canada was trying to subordinate environmental concerns to trade rules. "What we're looking to do is clarify the relationship of the protocol to other agreements, in particular, the world of trade since what we're dealing with is transboundary movement." Mr. Ballhorn says Canada doesn't want the new rules to run afoul of the existing trade rules, but that's not the emphasis many developing countries are looking for.

Delegates from about 70 developing countries have formed the Like-Minded bloc to push for a wider list of products to be covered by the protocol and for individual countries to be given rights to block imports of products they feel could be harmful to their environments.

"We represent 80% of humanity," said Dr. Tewolde Egziabher, an Ethiopian delegate. "And our views should not be taken to represent only one of five groups."

The European Union wants precise labeling for genetically modified crops and foods derived from them. It has been slower at approving new genetically modified products than the United States and Canada because of widespread consumer concerns about food safety.


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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 13:48:07 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

CBC website news

Association calls for labelling of genetically modified food

WebPosted Tue Jan 25
http://cbc.ca/cgi-bin/templates/NWview.cgi?/news/2000/01/25/geneticfood000125

OTTAWA - The Canadian Health Food Association wants the federal government to introduce mandatory labelling for genetically modified food.

The trade organization presented a petition Tuesday to the Minister of Agriculture, Lyle Vanclief, containing 31,000 signatures collected from customers at their local stores.

Association president Donna Herringer told reporters that her group is extremely concerned about "genetically modified organisms and ingredients in our food chain."

Herringer explains that there have been no clinical trials to determine the long term health consequences of foods that are genetically modified.

Brock Elliot owns a health food store in Halifax. He says he can't tell the difference between foods that are or are not genetically modified.

"Products that come into my store are not labelled. So consequently to the best of my knowledge, we do not really know what is on the plate in front of us."

Herringer says the government should have consulted Canadians on issues such as labelling years ago.


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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 13:48:07 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

http://cnniw.newsreal.com/cgi-bin/NewsService?osform_template=pages/cnniwStory&ID=cnniw&storypath=News/Story_2000_01_26.NRdb@2@19@3@1014&path=News/Category.NRdb@2@23

Farmers Seek Genetic Crop Controls

Source: Associated Press, Jan 26, 2000

MONTREAL (AP) – Small-scale farmers from around the world came to Montreal on Wednesday to ask for regulations limiting what they call "genetic pollution" – genetically modified crops spreading their altered genes into the environment around them.

"The problem is totally out of control," said Canadian farmer Hart Haiden.

He said that in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, genes from genetically engineered canola plants have already spread to unaltered varieties. And because European countries may ban imports of genetically engineered canola, that may shut Canada out of a major market.

Representatives from around the world are meeting in Montreal this week to negotiate the Biosafety Protocol, a set of rules that would protect the environment from damage caused by the spread of genetically engineered crops. The U.N.-sponsored talks continue through Friday.

While the United States and other major agricultural exporters are calling for relatively free trade, a coalition of developing nations wants countries to be allowed to say no to imports of the crops.

"Each country should have the sovereign right to ban the planting and import of transgenic plants," said Porfirio Encino, who represents an association of small farmers in Mexico's Chiapas state.

Organic farmers are especially concerned because plants are very efficient at spreading genetic information. Honeybees can carry canola pollen up to five miles, and under some conditions wind can blow tree pollen dozens of miles.

"The problem is that genetic pollution can't be contained, or even cleaned up afterwards," said Steve Gilman, an organic farmer in Stillwater, N.Y.

He charged that Bt corn, a variety genetically engineered to produce a natural insecticide, will cause irreparable harm to organic farmers.

Organic farmers use Bt because it is produced by a natural bacterium. But if Bt corn spreads it more widely in the environment, Gilman worries that pests will build up resistance, just as they have to some chemical insecticides.

"I worry that we will lose Bt altogether," he said.

To prevent that outcome, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently recommended that farmers plant refuges of non-Bt plants alongside their genetically modified varieties. Farmers who plant Bt corn say that is enough.

Robert M. Boeding, who grows corn in northeastern Iowa, said he plants 40 percent of his land in unaltered corn when he uses the Bt variety. And he plants the genetically altered corn only one or two years out of three.

"The longer I use it the more I believe in it," he said.

Bt corn actually protects the environment, Boeding said, because it keeps him from having to use toxic chemical insecticides to control pests.


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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 13:48:07 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

GM food: special report

New food watchdog backs GM labelling

By James Meikle, Thursday January 27, 2000
http://www.newsunlimited.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,129262,00.html

The chairman of the new food standards agency clashed with the industry yesterday when he backed the campaign for more detailed labelling of all ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms.

Sir John Krebs said consumers needed the extra information to make their own choices about what they ate but the manufacturers made clear they would fight any further rules - and would not agree to any voluntary codes.


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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 13:48:07 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Genetic Engineering 'Most Menacing', Says Scientist

by Kelly McAra, Waikato Times (Hamilton N.Z.) 00-1-27

A scientist has warned dairy farmers the hazards of genetic engineering rival those of nuclear war.

Speaking to about 100 people in Hamilton today, ecologist Robert Mann said GE was the "most menacing of modern technologies" and a poor bet for dairy farmers.

Dr Mann, speaking at the Dairy Expo, compared GE to nuclear science and the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.


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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000 21:48:55 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Scientists, academics create GM watchdog,

By James Baxter, The Ottawa Citizen, January 19, 2000, Wednesday,

A group of prominent Canadian scientists and academics has joined the battle against genetically engineered foods by creating a watchdog organization to oversee their testing and approval by Health Canada. fundamental reassessment of the process by which GE food is

Dr. Ann Clark, a professor at Guelph University, announced the formation of GE-Alert at a news conference yesterday. The group comprises 10 scientists and academics but includes other senior scientists who cannot be identified in order to protect their jobs, Dr. Clark said.

The news conference, organized by the Council of Canadians, was the latest in a series of announcements of opponents to genetically modified foods. Dr. Clark said the organization would publish on the Council of Canadians Web site a critique of the current risk-assessment approval system used by Health Canada to decide whether a genetically modified organism ( GMO) is considered safe for human consumption. Dr. Clark said current testing practices lack scientific rigour and are often rife with problems, including incomplete longitudinal studies and even leaps in logic.

One area in which the government fails to protect Canadians is in studying the allergenicity of GMOs, according to Dr. Clark. In her study, Food Safety of GM Crops in Canada: Toxicity and Allergenicity, she said toxicity was also overlooked, having only been examined in about 30 per cent of the Genetically modified foods may be However, critical analysis of the evidence publicly available on the Health Canada


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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000 21:48:55 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

International GM Safety Rules in Danger – No EU Sell-Out say Greens/EFA

Montreal/Brussels 26 January 2000

The resumed negotiations in Montreal to set international rules for transboundary movement of genetically modified organisms are reaching breaking point. Talks on the proposed Biosafety Protocol failed in Cartagena, Columbia, in February 1999 when the US-led Miami Group of grain exporting nations vetoed a deal even though the EU had given in to nearly all of their demands. Now it looks like an action replay, with the same issues causing deadlock.

"This time the EU cannot give way" said Paul Lannoye (Belgium), President of the Greens/EFA Group. "The US and its allies still want to make this Treaty subordinate to the WTO Agreements. After Seattle, it is inconceivable that the EU will be able to give in on this issue, which would be directly contrary to the mandate given to the Commission by the Council of Ministers.

This has to be a meaningful Protocol based on the precautionary principle for the protection of biodiversity and the environment. It cannot be turned into a Biotrade charter."

Green MEP Alexander de Roo (Netherlands), Vice-President of the Environment Committee, said that EU's Environment Ministers and the Commissioner, Margot Wallstrom, who will arrive in Montreal today must ensure that the EU supports the demands of the less developed countries. "The EU already has a set of GM safety rules - it is the developing countries which need this Protocol. They are home to much of the world's biodiversity and we need to support their demands that all living modified organisms (LMOs), whether for cultivation or for use in food or animal feed, are within the scope of this treaty."

"There cannot be a trade-off between trade and the environment" said Green MEP Hiltrud Breyer (Germany). "Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) such as this Protocol must take precedence as being the primary instruments in their regulatory field. Environmental risk assessments must be underpinned fully by a clear statement of the precautionary principle and signatory countries must be required to give their active consent before imports of any LMOs can take place."


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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000 21:48:55 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

GM food: special report

Monsanto's name radically modified

By Julia Finch Friday January 28, 2000, The Guardian
http://www.newsunlimited.co.uk/gmdebate/Story/0,2763,129762,00.html

The Monsanto company name, which has become synonymous with the genetically modified food business, is to be ditched, the company revealed last night.

The beleaguered American biotech company is merging with the US-Swiss drugs group Pharmacia & Upjohn and the $50bn corporation will in future be known as Pharmacia.

"We have chosen a name with power and global relevance," said Robert Shapiro, chairman of Monsanto, who will lead the new company. "This name and logo will create a strong new identity for our 60,000 employees and will build value with our existing customers worldwide."

Mr Shapiro, who championed GM food, was once regarded as a visionary who would mix nutrition, biotechnology, crop protection and medicine in one commercial venture. But the Monsanto name became tainted last year as the consumer backlash against GM food spread from Europe to the US.

In addition to food safety and environmental fears there were concerns that farmers in developing countries would never be able to afford the new Monsanto seeds.

Last month a shareholder campaign in the US unveiled a plan to target 24 companies, including Monsanto, demanding a moratorium on the use of GM food until independent testing had been completed. The campaign is being coordinated by 275 religious and other groups which claim to control $100bn of shares in US companies.

Monsanto, which had been a high-flying pharmaceutical stock and darling of Wall Street, fell swiftly from grace when its crop technology business, which little over a year ago was regarded as a world beater, turned into an albatross. Shareholders watched as their investments lost a third of their value.

The newly merged Pharmacia Corporation will use the names Searle, Pharmacia and Upjohn for its three sales divisions. Only an autonomous agricultural subsidiary will continue to use the Monsanto name.


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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000 21:48:55 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Corn Growers Believe Farmers Are Being Deceived Over the Issue of Genetically Modified Crops

SOURCE American Corn Growers Association
WASHINGTON /PRNewswire/ via NewsEdge Corporation - January 28, 2000
Web site: http://www.acga.org

In an attempt to protect the economic interests of America's agricultural producers, the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) is alerting farmers to the effort to deceive farmers into planting genetically modified (GMO) crops. This deception concerns the availability of foreign and domestic markets for GMOs.

A recent statement by a spokesman for one of the commodity associations stated that there is no clear indication of a cutback in planned GMO planted acres for this coming season. This same person went on to say that farmers whose grain is targeted for export may cut back on planting GMOs while those growing for the domestic market will more than likely increase their GMO planted acres.

"Farmers deserve better than to be misled by organizations that supposedly work on their behalf. Everyone knows that unless you are selling grain directly to an ethanol plant, feed lot, or feeding the grain yourself, there is no way to determine whether grain will wind up for export or be used domestically once it is delivered to a local elevator," said Gary Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA). "Giving farmers the suggestion that they should plant more GMOs for the domestic market is a cruel hoax that will continue to cost corn growers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales."

It is very clear that farmers are turning their backs on genetically modified seeds. A recent survey conducted at the American Farm Bureau Federation convention showed a 24% drop in Bt corn acres for this growing season. Other forecasts have consistently shown a sizable drop in GMO planted acres.

The uncertainty over market availability, both foreign and domestic, is driving agricultural producers away from GMOs. In addition, the questions over legal liability are weighing on farmers' minds, as they want to protect themselves from potential lawsuits stemming from contamination brought about by cross-pollination.

"Under its current structure, the grain market is unable to have the level of identity preservation for a typical farmer to know whether his or her grain will go into export channels or be utilized domestically. To suggest otherwise while farmers are making their seed purchases is geared to unduly influencing their planting intentions. Producers need to make their farming decisions on their own without false hopes and empty promises," concluded Goldberg.

CONTACT: Gary Goldberg, 918-488-1829, or David Senter, 202-835-0330, both of American Corn Growers Association, or acga@acga.org


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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000 21:48:55 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Greenpeace Demands Canada and the US: Stop Blocking the Biosafety Protocol

MONTREAL, January 27 /CNW/ via NewsEdge Corporation - January 28, 2000

Greenpeace today demanded that Canada and the US to stop their obstruction of the UN Biosafety negotiations and agree with the majority of countries to set up international rules to control genetically engineered organisms (GMOs). Activists dressed as butterflies stood behind a wall symbolising US and Canada The butterflies, symbolising the unintended victims of the toxic-creating GE crops, greeted the delegates and urged them to ignore the demands of the Miami group and take the decision millions of citizens world-wide, expect them to do. The 50 environment ministers starting the meeting today need to break the barrier created by the US and Canada and listen to the voice of the said Michael Khoo of Greenpeace.

According to Greenpeace the failure in Montreal would not only threaten the The lack of international regulation on GMOs would result in a multitude of protectionist national Not even US and

The US and Canadian-led Miami group still insists that genetically engineered food crops, which represent over 95 percent of all GMOs traded world-wide, be excluded from the Protocol. The group also insists that WTO rules should supersede the Protocol's regulations and it also continues to block adequate measures on labelling and traceability of GMOs. Furthermore, the group rejects the use of the precautionary principle and the ability of countries to say no to imports of genetically engineered food. The Biosafety discussions has so far taken more than two years without any consensus between the six rogue nations of the Miami Group and the rest In all democratic processes there is a time for discussion, but there is also a time for decision making. We have talked long enough. Now is the time to make these decisions and finalise

Heeding the call from the public, Environment Minister David Anderson We hope that minister Anderson will, heed the call from the Canadian public said Khoo.

For further information: Johanne Fillion, Press Officer: office(514) 933-0021, cell: 514-242-5772; Michael Khoo, Genetic EngineeringCampaigner: cell (416) 569-8408


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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000 21:48:55 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Genetically modified food stirs up outcry over labels

The Province (Vancouver, Canada), Wednesday, January 26, 2000, PAGE A26

-- Natural health-food retailers want the federal government to force companies to label genetically modified food.

The Canadian Health Food Association, a trade organization, collected 31,000 signatures of customers at their stores who want mandatory labelling and brought it to Ottawa yesterday to deliver to the minister of agriculture.

About 50 protesters, some dressed as corn cobs and tomatoes, shouted slogans outside, while the association called on Ottawa at a news We are extremely concerned about said president Donna Herringer. There has been no long-term testing to determine the impact of GMOs on human health and the environment, and no clinical trials have ever been held to prove that there are no health consequences. The association says it is creating labelling and signage for all natural health-food stores to identify foods that aren't genetically modified. We do not really know what is on the plate in front of us, whether it's said Brock Elliott, a health-food retailer in Nova Scotia.

Along with Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians, the organization has boycotted the federal committee on voluntary labelling, saying the best alternative is mandatory labelling.


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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000 21:48:55 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

GM Foods 'morally wrong': U.S. activist says

by Pauline Tam, The Ottawa Citizen January 26, 2000, page A4

DNA tampering a hindrance to religious freedom

MONTREAL – No one was more surprised than Steven Druker when, in 1996, his synagogue in Fairfield, Iowa, backed his bid to sue the U.S. government over genetically modified food. A wealthy member of the congregation was so moved when he heard Mr. Druker's religious objections to such food that he provided seed money to start the landmark lawsuit. Since then, Mr. Druker, 53, a lawyer-turned-activist, has rallied the support of religious leaders of other faiths.

Along with a coalition of scientists and consumer advocates, Mr. Druker and his religious supporters are forcing a U.S. court to rule on the controversial issue of genetically modified food. The suit, which ended hearings last July and is now in the hands of a judge, is aimed at forcing federal regulators to set higher standards for testing the potential impacts of genetically modified food on human health. It also demands that the Food and Drug Administration – the agency in charge of safeguarding what Americans eat – compel manufacturers to clearly label foods altered by biotechnology.

And Mr. Druker argues that by not telling consumers what genetically engineered ingredients are in their food, U.S. regulators are violating a constitutional right to religious freedom. In launching his legal challenge, Mr. Druker has opened a broader debate within religious circles about the ethical principles that should guide society's use of a powerful tool such as genetic engineering.

I really believe that any religious individual who understood the full facts about genetic engineering would develop great concern about what's he said in Montreal, where he is attending a UN- sponsored conference on genetically modified products and the environment. As a devout Jew who needs to avoid foods with substances from non-kosher animals, Mr. Druker says he fears the day when genes from pigs, shellfish or insects might be spliced into fruits or vegetables.

As consumers, we have the right to know what we're eating so that we can From Mr. Druker's point of view, this alteration through what's known as recombinant DNA technology not only the integrity of a – a religious principle founded in Jewish law.


Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign, for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
500 Wilbrod Street Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
tel. 613-565-8517 fax. 613-565-1596 email: rwolfson@concentric.net

Our website, http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html contains more information on genetic engineering as well as previous genetic engineering news items. Subscription fee to genetic engineering news is $35 (USD for those outside Canada) for 12 months, payable to "BanGEF" and mailed to the above address. Or see website for details.