Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

20 February 2000

Table of Contents

Scientist backs system for labelling GM foods
Novartis withdraws application for German GM corn sales
Monsanto official says biotech will not feed world
Scientists say demands for financial gain threaten public health by concealing dangers.
Germany Bans Novartis Bt Corn In Antibiotics Move
Benbrook AAAS Paper Posted
Minnesota first to introduce a bill in support of a moratorium
Farmworker Community Poisoned by Pesticide Drift
KFC: Does anyone know if these "ex-chickens" are really GMO's?
Monsanto Under Attack - Setbacks from Brazil, to Canada, to the U.K.
US Legal: Softly moving in the dark of night
No evidence of toxic bacteria in organic produce

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Date: 18 Feb 2000 03:04:56 U
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk

Scientist backs system for labelling GM foods

South China Morning Post, Feb 18, 2000

A leading local bio-technologist yesterday backed a mandatory labelling system for genetically modified food.

But Hong Kong University's dean of science, Professor Fredrick Leung Chi-ching, added that the content threshold would be hard to determine.

He was commenting a day after the new Food and Hygiene Department said it would take at least three years to start a labelling system for genetically modified foods.

The threshold issue stems from an international debate started by the European Union on what percentage of modified ingredients in a food product would qualify it as a genetically modified product.

The European Parliament originally demanded a 0.1 per cent content would require labelling. New regulations now require a one per cent threshold.

Professor Leung said the threshold issue was difficult as there was no scientific consensus on how to calculate it.

"Most processed foods contain a large number of ingredients. To work out the genetically modified percentage while keeping track of the supply chain is very complicated," he said.

"I am not saying it should be one per cent or 0.1 per cent but government, business and consumers will have to use common sense to work that out together in Hong Kong."

Greenpeace campaigner Lo Sze-ping said threshold measurement was a last resort. He said modified crops should be separated from natural crops.


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Date: 18 Feb 2000 04:32:31 U
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk

Novartis withdraws application for German GM corn sales

By Bridge News, February 18, 2000, Tel. +49 40 808 09 44 50, grain@bridge.com

Hamburg – Swiss life sciences group Novartis has withdrawn its application to the German Federal Seeds Agency for approval of its Bt-176 genetically-modified corn for general cultivation and sale in Germany, agency president Ralf Juerdens told Bridge News. This follows the German government decision to stop use of the seed and commission more research into health risks from GMO crops (stories .15934 and .12707).

Germany's Health Ministry had made the announcement before the end of a meeting Thursday of a specialist committee of the seeds agency into whether Bt-176 should be approved.

On Wednesday, Germany's Robert Koch research institute had issued a report that GM products could have more health hazards than previously thought, such as a possible impact on human resistance to antibiotics plus a danger to insect life.

"We were informed Thursday evening by Novartis that it has decided to suspend its application for approval of GM maize in the light of the Robert Koch institute report," said seeds agency president Juerdens. " In the light of this we have made no decision on whether they can be used in Germany."

No comment was immediately available from Novartis.


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Date: 18 Feb 2000 04:34:48 U
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk

More rubbish from the man at Monsanto

Monsanto official says biotech will not feed world

By Charles H. Featherstone, Bridge News, February 18, 2000, Tel. +49 40 808 09 44 50, grain@bridge.com

Washington – Genetically engineered crops by themselves will not end world hunger, though in concert with other sustainable farming techniques, biotechnology can help alleviate hunger in the developing world, according senior Monsanto official Robert Horsch.

Speaking at forum held here by the Worldwatch Institute, Horsch – a senior Monsanto official for sustainable agricultural development and the holder of several biotech patents – agreed with several critics of genetic engineering who said there is more to world hunger than the lack of food, such as poverty.

While Horsch disputed the risks some believe that GM crops and foods pose to the environment, he said the industrial societies of the West have not properly discussed what kind of risks they are willing to take when technology poses significant benefits as well.

"What do we need to have for the future?" Horsch said. "We still have to work as a society in so far as to what kind of criteria we use."

Per Pinstrup-Andersen, director general of the International Food Research Policy Institute, said GM foods may also be essential for agriculture in the developing world. But he said governments would have to shoulder the burden of research in developing countries since private companies have been unwilling to invest in research beneficial to poor farmers.

Pinstrup-Andersen cited the example of so-called "Golden rice," or vitamin A-enhanced rice, an example often cited by the biotech industry touting the benefits of GMO crops.

Almost all of the $20 million development cost for golden rice was paid for by governments and international NGOs, Pinstrup-Andersen said. Since the rice will be given away to farmers, there would be almost no way for private companies to recoup the investment.

But Pinstrup-Andersen said biotechnology has to be one possible solution available to farmers in developing countries, since the promise of the technology is so great.

"IFPRI does not take a stand for or against," Pinstrup-Andersen said. " We must not withhold any potential solution."


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Date: 18 Feb 2000 11:48:54 U
From: wytze geno@zap.a2000.nl

===================================================
From List: Biotech Activists biotech_activists@iatp.org
Date Posted: 02/18/2000
Posted by: mritchie@iatp.org
===================================================

Scientists say demands for financial gain threaten public health by concealing dangers.

By LISA M. KRIEGER, Mercury News Staff Writer
San Jose Mercury News, 02/17/2000
http://www.sjmercury.com/svtech/news/indepth/docs/gene021700.htm

Sections:
Rampant Commercialization And Carelessness.
Experimental Therapy
Regulatory Changes

Rampant Commercialization And Carelessness.

PACIFIC GROVE – The genetic-research pioneers who 25 years ago warned of public-health and environmental catastrophes if their science went awry are debating a new threat: rampant commercialization and carelessness.

A quarter-century after they first gathered at the rustic Asilomar retreat, these now-graying scientists have returned for a three-day conference. And they are warning that pressures on researchers to compete and on biotech firms to earn profits, while withholding information about their failures, are undermining a tradition of scientific integrity established at the original Asilomar Conference of 1975. The major thing we achieved (in 1975) was . . . public said Paul Berg, who convened the original conference and is now director of the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine at Stanford University's School of This led to public acceptance of the belief that science was in In retrospect, very few . . . foresaw the pervasive, complex, robust and rich ramifications of recombinant DNA technology. Nor could most have predicted the pace at which fundamental understanding of biology Berg said.

Dr. Donald S. Fredrickson, the former director of the National Institutes of Morality has been soiled. Entrepreneurs are repressing any information that suggests an unfavorable outcome as Fredrickson said. We need a re-awakening

Although the three-day symposium will not result in a formal statement about current issues, it has triggered heated debate about a world of biology that has profoundly changed in 25 years.

Biotech has grown from a field dominated by academic researchers to one driven by companies with millions of dollars at stake. The industry has developed a wide array of life-saving therapies.

But there is growing tension between the tradition of openness and the demand for greater privacy by commercial biotech companies, according to the 50 participants from throughout the United States and several other countries.

This tension boiled to the surface in September when Jesse Gelsinger, 18, died of complications of gene therapy at University of Pennsylvania. The incident increased public concern about whether scientists could be trusted.

Experimental Therapy

Gelsinger had been undergoing experimental gene therapy developed at the Institute for Human Gene Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania. The institute was directed by James M. Wilson and was financed partially by a biotech company that Wilson founded – an arrangement that has drawn the interest of government investigators. The university has admitted mistakes and administrative lapses but denies liability for the death.

Since the incident, medical centers have reported to the NIH 691 cases of serious adverse effects in gene therapy experiments, the agency disclosed last week. Many of these reports, required by law, were delayed weeks, even months.

A review by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, found that 652 of the 691 cases were reported late; fewer than 6 percent were filed on time. Moreover, at least some of the previously unreported deaths remained unexplained, raising the possibility that Gelsinger was not the first to be killed by gene therapy complications.

The prestigious Pennsylvania gene research program has since been charged That disciplinary action follows similar transgressions, although no deaths, at Duke University, the Los Angeles Veterans Administration Hospital, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Genetic research is going through a significant transition, said the scientists at Asilomar, where they once met to ponder the risks of a gene-splicing technique that has now become routine.

In 1974 – long before the ethical quagmire of human cloning, embryo research and other technologies now on the horizon – they were so jittery about the impact of their science that they called for a self-imposed moratorium on some research.

The Asilomar agreement, brokered by leading molecular geneticists such as NIH's Maxine Singer and Stanford's Berg, marked the first time that any major branch of science had voluntary suspended its work.

In the early years, almost all research was federally funded, with expectations of open disclosure of results and research plans. The scientists held the moral reins, creating a tough advisory committee to oversee research. In recent years, there has been a shift away from the culture of civic said Parris Burd, director of regulatory affairs for the Redwood City-based biotech firm Maxygen. We need to educate our young scientists of their civic responsibilities and obligation to

Now debate rages over whether scientists should be required to report biotech research failures to the NIH, which can disclose them to the public, in addition to the Food and Drug Administration, which keeps such information confidential.

Regulatory Changes

The Biotechnology Industry Organization is seeking regulatory changes that could decrease public reporting of adverse events the organization considers proprietary.

But consumer advocates such as Dr. Peter Lurie of Public Citizen's Health one cannot conduct quality or ethical research in an environment in which other scientists' experiences are hidden. Denying information can be hazardous; this may be the real lesson of We did not foresee the emergence of venture capital . . . and researchers who invest in and oversell the promise (of their research) and keep adverse effects quiet . . . and who advance their careers with little time spent on said Singer, then a research biochemist at the NIH and now president of the Carnegie Institute in Washington, D.C. While this creates exciting and constructive some


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Date: 18 Feb 2000 11:48:54 U
From: wytze geno@zap.a2000.nl

Germany Bans Novartis Bt Corn In Antibiotics Move

Author: "Mark Ritchie" mritchie@iatp.org Date: 02/18/2000 4:33 AM

Greenpeace Press Release, February 16, 2000
http://www.greenpeaceusa.org/media/press_releases/00_02_16.htm

Germany bans Novartis Bt Corn in move to protect public health, environment Presence of antibiotic resistance gene cited as key factor in decision.

WASHINGTON – Germany's minister for health announced today the suspension of approval for Novartis' Bt 176 corn on the grounds that the action was necessary to protect consumers and defend precautionary health protection. According to Minister Andrea Fischer, who holds full responsibility for approving Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), the key factor in the decision is that Novartis' insect-killing Bt corn contains an antibiotic resistance gene. She also hinted at unresolved questions about detrimental effects on non-target species and dispersal of the Bt toxin in soil.

"We had to act now," explained Fischer, "as we learned that Novartis has applied for unrestricted approval of the seeds of these (corn) varieties. With the suspension of the approval for the release [of Bt] as GMO, such seed approvals are automatically stalled as well." Fischer confirmed that any planting of Novartis Bt corn is banned in Germany immediately. Fischer also said that she intended to open a new round of risk assessments of GMOs and invited all stakeholders to participate in this discussion.

"The German Minister's decision is a step in the right direction and is an important signal to industry, the public and the European Commission," said Benedikt Haerlin of Greenpeace. "We are confident that we will be able to prevent the planting of GE corn in the rest of the European Union. Nobody wants this GE corn in the fields, except Novartis. We appreciate that now another important member state of the EU has recognized that this corn is a threat to human health and the environment."

Fischer confirmed that the German government was applying Art.16 of EU Directive 90/220, which allows any member state to withdraw a GMO approval if it has concerns about possible health or environmental impacts of the GMOs. The suspension would last at least until there was a decision of the European Commission on Germany's objections.

Germany joins France, Luxemburg, Portugal and Austria in formally banning the planting of Novartis Bt corn. The corn was approved by the EU Commission in 1997 against massive protests held before the EU moratorium on GMO approvals came into effect in 1999. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency has been challenged in court for its pesticide registration of Bt corn. Greenpeace and a coalition of over 70 plaintiffs sued the EPA, charging the agency with the wanton destruction of the world's most important biological pesticide? Bt. 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.

Market rejection of Bt corn cost U.S. farmers more than $200 million in export revenue last year. A recent Reuters poll of 400 farmers 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.

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
mritchie@iatp.org    http://www.iatp.org

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Date: 18 Feb 2000 16:17:56 U
From: wytze geno@zap.a2000.nl

Biotech Activists wrote:

===================================================
From List: Biotech Activists biotech_activists@iatp.org
Date Posted: 02/18/2000
Posted by: benbrook@hillnet.com
===================================================

Benbrook AAAS Paper Posted

We have posted the final version of my AAAS ag genomics-biotech paper on the Ag BioTech InfoNet site in two formats. The pdf version is best for printing and reading in hard copy, and is at --

http://www.biotech-info.net/AAASgen.pdf

The electronically enhanced HTML version is best for reading on line, since we have live links to either abstracts or full texts for about 80% of the references. It is accessible at --

http://www.biotech-info.net/AAASgen.html

Thanks to the dozen-plus people who provided excellent comments and suggestions for improvement.

chuck benbrook


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Date: 19 Feb 2000 09:38:10 U
From: wytze geno@zap.a2000.nl
From: Debbie Ortman debbie@organicconsumers.org

Biotech Activists wrote:

===================================================
From List: Biotech Activists biotech_activists@iatp.org
Date Posted: 02/19/2000
Posted by: mritchie@iatp.org
===================================================

Minnesota first to introduce a bill in support of a moratorium

History has just been made. I believe that Minnesota if the first state in the country to introduce a bill in support of a moratorium on all GE crops!!!

HF 3654, sponsored by Rep. Dale Swapinski, Margaret Kelliher and Mike Jaros calls for a 5 year moratorium on GE crops in Minnesota until additional safety testing has been done.

HF 2614, sponsored by Rep. Phyllis Kahn and co-sponsored by 16 other legislators is a liability bill which holds the seed companies accountable for genetic drift, not the farmers.

We need to put pressure on the Chair in the House Ag. Policy Committee: Rep. Tim Finseth rep.tim.finseth@house.leg.state.mn.us to hold a hearing before March 1st!!! After March 1st, bills that haven't had a hearing are dead for this session.

Action:

  1. Please phone and call your representatives and ask them to help sponsor both of these bills and also to demand a hearing!!!

  2. Phone, call and email Tim Finseth and demand a hearing!!!

  3. We are trying to plan a press conference for next week.

More later.

Companion bills in the Senate are being worked on but for now the focus has to be the House.

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
mritchie@iatp.org    http://www.iatp.org


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Date: 19 Feb 2000 11:39:56 U
From: "Ericka & Rich Dana" doodles@netins.net

P A N U P S
Pesticide Action Network Updates Service

Farmworker Community Poisoned by Pesticide Drift

February 18, 2000

In early November 1999, mist from a sprinkler application of the soil fumigant metam sodium blew into Earlimart, a small town in California's San Joaquin Valley. About 150 people, nearly all farmworkers, were forced to evacuate their homes. At least 24 people were sent to local hospitals complaining of nausea, vomiting, headaches, burning eyes and shortness of breath.

After their exposure, residents were scared and humiliated when local authorities ordered them to take their clothes off and be sprayed with water by men wearing masks and green splash suits – the hazardous materials team. Only a small plastic tarp was held between the victims and a crowd of at least 100 emergency personnel, television crews and other spectators.

County agriculture officials said it appeared the company, Wilbur-Ellis Co., followed county regulations in applying the pesticide. For three days, the product was applied and then sprayed with water to activate the chemicals. Water reacts with metam sodium to form a gas that kills nematodes, fungi, weed seeds and other organisms in the soil. One of metam sodium's break down products is methyl isothiocyanate (MITC), a powerful irritant of soft tissue such as eyes and lungs.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to this pesticide can cause acute skin irritation and serious irritation of respiratory mucous membranes, eyes and lungs. EPA lists metam sodium as a probable human carcinogen. The state of California lists the chemical as causing both cancer and birth defects in laboratory animals.

After the incident, it took nine days – and organized community pressure – before a county health team came to Earlimart to treat poisoning victims who could not afford medical care. Residents also had to pressure the local health clinic to bill for services instead of demanding up-front payments to treat poisoning victims. Billing, however, did not resolve the victims' financial burden. Josefina Murgia, a mother of three, received a $6,000 bill for her trip to the hospital. "I don't have that type of money," she said. "Paying the bill would mean my family would go hungry."

This was not the first large-scale problem with metam sodium in California. A mid-1990s train wreck dumped metam sodium into the Sacramento River, killing all fish for miles downstream. A subsequent state study found elevated rates of both new and more severe cases of asthma among residents in the area of the spill. In May 1999, students were evacuated from New Cuyama elementary school near Santa Maria after exposure to the pesticide. A previous poisoning occurred at the New Cuyama school in 1992. In 1996, there were two major incidents in Stockton and Fresno where metam sodium drifted from fields where it was applied resulting in a total of 41 reported probable poisoning cases. From 1991 to 1998, use of metam sodium in California increased from less than 5 million pounds to nearly than 14 million pounds.

A coalition including the United Farm Workers, AFL-CIO and community representatives are urging Tulare County to prohibit sprinkler application of metam sodium. They are also calling on the Director of California EPA to re-evaluate use of metam sodium in light of its health effects on farm workers and other rural residents and to conduct a thorough investigation into the full health impacts from the Earlimart community's exposure to this dangerous chemical. California's Department of Pesticide Regulation has recently agreed to move enforcement authority in this case from the county level to the state level where fines for violations may be substantially greater.

Contact: United Farmworkers of America, AFL-CIO; 326 No. Third Street, Porterville, CA 93257; phone (559) 783-8390; fax (559) 783-8393; http://www.ufw.org/releases/earlimart.html.

Sources:

  1. "Pesticide mist forces evacuations," Associated Press, Nov. 15, 1999;

  2. "Residents sickened by pesticide cloud: Ag officials consider changing rules," Associated Press, Dec. 7, 1999;

  3. "California community humiliated in pesticide scare," Associated Press Dec. 9, 1999;

  4. "Earlimart residents present county leaders with 183 sickness complaints," Associated Press, Dec. 9, 1999;

  5. the Fresno Bee. November 16 and November 18, 1999; the Bakersfield Californian, Nov. 15 and Dec. 8, 1999.

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To subscribe, send a blank message to: panups-subscribe@igc.topica.com

Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)
49 Powell St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94102 USA
Phone: (415) 981-1771    Fax: (415) 981-1991
Email: panna@panna.org    Web: http://www.panna.org
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Date: 19 Feb 2000 15:06:05 U
From: Judy_Kew@greenbuilder.com (Judy Kew)
From RJ Lewis aipl@flash.net

My suggestion is just don't eat there anymore! Actually, it is Tyson Foods that is raising and processing the GMOs. This is also happening with a lot of other foods.

KFC: Does anyone know if these "ex-chickens" are really GMO's?

From RJ Lewis aipl@flash.net, Editor, Global Preparedness News, http://www.eprovisions.com

KFC has been a part of our American traditions (for many years). Many people (day in and day out) eat at KFC religiously. Do they really know what they are eating?

During a recent study (of KFC, done at the University of New Hampshire), they found some very upsetting facts. First of all, has anybody noticed that recently, the company has changed their name? Kentucky Fried Chicken has become KFC.

Does anybody know why? We thought the reason was because of the "FRIED" food issue; it's not.

The real reason why they call it KFC is because they can not use the word chicken anymore. Why? KFC does not use real chickens. They actually use genetically manipulated organisms.

These so called "chickens" are kept alive, by tubes inserted into their bodies (to pump blood and nutrients throughout their structure). They have no beaks, no feathers and no feet.

Their bone structure is dramatically shrunk, to get more meat out of them. This is great (for KFC); because, they do not have to pay so much for their production costs. There is no more plucking of the feathers or the removal of the beaks and feet.

The government has told them to change all of their menus; so, they do not say chicken anywhere. If you look closely, you will notice this.

Listen to their commercials; I guarantee you will not see or hear the word chicken. I find this matter to be very disturbing. I hope people will start to realize this and let other people know. Together, we make KFC start using real chicken again!

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Date: 19 Feb 2000 15:45:21 U
From: JTGardens@aol.com
Subject: Re: BAN: (?)Yum, Yum...How Does That Genetically Modified Organism Taste?

Come on everyone, lets tune up our crap detectors...this story about KFC is an urban legend, I've heard it a dozen times lately. It took me about 3 minutes to find the real scoop on this story. All I did was put "urban legend" in my search engine, and quickly found this website:

http://www.ulrc.com.au/html/report.asp?CaseFile=ULRR0050&Page=1&V....

I don't eat chicken anyway, but my reason is that I know how chickens are really raised here in Iowa and I just can't get the meat past my lips, not because they are some kind of weird genetic mutants (I wouldn't eat those either, if they existed!)

Sincerely Green,

Jean Thompson, Editor Green Acre News
4222 Harmony Lane SE, Iowa City, IA 52240-9385 USA 319/337-7722    JTGardens@aol.com

For a complimentary issue of GAN, send your snail mail address to us. We're an ink reader. A 1 year subscription (12 issues) is only $20. Cheap! Help us keep on keepin' on.


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Date: 19 Feb 2000 15:47:17 U
From: "Ericka & Rich Dana" doodles@netins.net

------------------------------
Ronnie Cummins
Little Marais, Minnesota
------------------------ http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/monprob.html

Monsanto Under Attack - Setbacks from Brazil, to Canada, to the U.K.

Sections:
Iowa, Kentucky & Illinois farmers fined for seed saving...
on Robert Shapiro getting "pied"...
canola (rapeseed) contamination...
RAFI's Terminator Tech Boycott support...
Brazil trying to "stay clean"...
on rBGH damage to prostate and thyroid in rats...

Iowa, Kentucky & Illinois farmers fined for seed saving...

In the United States Monsanto has begun receiving adverse publicity for prosecuting farmers for saving Monsanto's patented herbicide-resistant "Roundup Ready" soybean seeds. According to press reports Monsanto has hired Pinkerton detectives to harass more than 1800 farmers and seed dealers across the country, with 475 potential criminal "seed piracy" cases already under investigation. A group of seed-saving farmers in Kentucky, Iowa, and Illinois have already been forced to pay fines to Monsanto of up to $35,000 each. Besides the cost of the seed, a $6.50 technology fee is charged by Monsanto for each 50 pound bag of Roundup Ready seed. As Monsanto told the Associated Press October 27, "We say they can pay (either of) two royalties said Scott Baucum, Monsanto manager for intellectual property protection.

on Robert Shapiro getting "pied"...

In San Francisco on October 27, Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro was confronted by anti-GE protestors who smashed a tofu vegan cream pie in his face. According to a press release by the "Anti-Genetix" splinter faction of the Biotic Baking Brigade (BBB) issued on October 27 "The chief executive of one of the world's biggest corporations was struck in the face with a tofu creme pie on Tuesday night at the 'State of the World Forum' conference in the Fairmont Hotel. The incident occurred after Shapiro gave a keynote address on the brave new world of genetic engineering." According to "Agent Apple" of the pie-throwers:

"Monsanto has engaged in ruthless intimidation of critics; embarked upon an aggressive global takeover of seed, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies, with an aim to control world food distribution; and is conducting an intensive PR "Greenwash" campaign in order to promote itself as an eco-friendly corporation. We will not be fooled, and we will wage our gastronomical struggle with epicurean passion" said Agent Apple.

"Monsanto and its subsidiaries have spread chemical death across every continent through products such as PCBs, Agent Orange, Bovine Growth Hormone, Nutrasweet, Equal, and Roundup (the world's biggest selling herbicide). The corporation's toxic Superfund sites poison workers and community members, and its dioxins will continue to cause birth defects and major health problems for generations to come." The EPA has designated Monsanto as a "potentially responsible party" at 93 Superfund sites.

canola (rapeseed) contamination...

According to the Daily Mail (Oct 25, 1998) in the U.K., the British government is considering charging Monsanto with violating environmental pollution laws for a Roundup-resistant rapeseed (canola) farm test site in Lincolnshire, where GE rapeseed plants contaminated an adjoining non-GE rapeseed plot.

RAFI's Terminator Tech Boycott support...

Following in the wake of mounting worldwide criticism of Monsanto's "Terminator Technology," the CGIAR organization, the world's largest international agricultural research network, announced that they would boycott all Terminator Technology seeds.

According to RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation International) Director Pat Mooney, a leading critic of the Terminator Technology, "It's (CGIAR's) the right decision and it is also a courageous decision," "Since the (Terminator) patent was granted in the United States last March, it has attracted unprecedented opposition from farmers' organizations, environmentalists, and agricultural scientists. More than 1,850 individuals from 54 countries have written personal protests to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture demanding that the technology be banned.

Brazil trying to "stay clean"...

In Brazil a judge at least temporarily blocked Monsanto's efforts to get approval for farmers to plant Roundup Ready Soybeans. According to a September 20 story by Bill Lambrecht in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, "Monsanto discovered an unsettling reality last week: Anti-biotechnology sentiments that are widespread in Europe are sprouting in South America. Hours before a government agency met to approve Monsanto's request to plant gene-altered soybeans, a Brazilian federal judge granted an injunction blocking the application.

For St. Louis-based Monsanto, the ruling is a setback that would be a real defeat if the company misses the Brazilian planting season in October and November. Brazil is a potential market worth tens of millions in profits. With 165 million people and a thriving economy, Brazil is a vital cog in the drive by Monsanto and its rivals to change the genetic codes of crops – and food – around the world."

on rBGH damage to prostate and thyroid in rats...

In Canada, the controversy surrounding Monsanto's strong-arm tactics to get government regulators to approve their controversial recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH or rBST) has reached new levels of intensity. Recent revelations that Monsanto apparently concealed troubling rBGH safety tests on rats (rats fed high levels of rBGH showed damage to thyroid and prostate tissues –otential danger signals for cancer) from government regulators in the U.S. and Canada have led to renewed calls by farmer and consumer organizations in North America to have rBGH pulled from the market.

In the October 6 Rutland Herald newspaper in Vermont, spokespersons for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Monsanto flatly contradicted one another -- with Monsanto claiming they gave the controversial rat studies to the FDA prior to rBGH approval in 1993, while the FDA stated "We do not have the data from that study."

for more go to: http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/monprob.html


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Date: 19 Feb 2000 16:34:31 U
From: MichaelP papadop@peak.org

US Legal: Softly moving in the dark of night

WASHINGTON, Feb 16 (IPS) - In a major boost for the forces of economic globalisation, US President Bill Clinton has decided to back multinational corporations in a key court challenge to a Massachusetts law designed to promote democracy in Burma.

In a brief quietly filed with the Supreme Court Tuesday, Clinton's Justice Department charged that cities and states which make it more difficult for companies doing business in repressive countries to win procurement contracts "impermissibly intrude into the national government's exclusive authority over foreign affairs."

Joining a coalition of some 600 major multinational corporations, the European Union (EU) and Japan, the administration asked the Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments on the case March 22, to declare the Massachusetts law unconstitutional. A final judgment by the nine-member court is expected in June.

The case, called "Natsios versus the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC)," has major implications for grassroots human rights and other US activist groups, which over the past 25 years have used state and local "selective-purchasing" laws to influence the behaviour of multi-national corporations abroad.

Selective-purchasing laws are designed to force companies to choose between continuing to do business with repressive foreign governments and bidding on often-lucrative state or local government contracts. The Massachusetts law, for example, adds 10 percent to any bid by a target companies - foreign and domestic - on a state procurement contract.

Such laws were used most successfully during the late 1970s and 1980s to force scores of US multinationals - including such giants as Coca-Cola, IBM, and General Motors - to withdraw from South Africa because of apartheid. The resulting divestment, according to most experts, played a crucial role in bringing about majority rule.

Similar laws in New York, California, Pennsylvania and other states and cities targeting Swiss banks and insurance companies which had failed to adequately account to Nazi Holocaust victims and their families helped prompt a settlement of outstanding claims in 1998.

Some two dozen states and cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco - which each year put hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts up for bids - have enacted selective-purchasing laws against companies doing business in Burma, where a military junta has repressed the democratic opposition led by Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Multinationals naturally oppose these initiatives because they curb their freedom to do business where they like. But until now, they were reluctant to challenge the laws in court due to the negative publicity that could result from a company claiming a right to do business with abusive governments.

In 1998, however, the NFTC filed a case in federal court challenging the 1996 Massachusetts law on the grounds that it violated US constitutional provisions which gave the federal government the power to regulate foreign commerce and foreign policy. In an unprecedented step, the EU and Japan filed amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs on the NFTC's behalf.

At the same time, Brussels and Tokyo also filed their own challenges to the law with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva. They claimed that Massachusetts, by enacting the law, had violated the WTO's 1995 Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), which forbids states from using non-economic criteria in deciding contract bids.

The Clinton administration, deeply split on the issue, stayed out of the case. While strong supporters of globalisation, like the Treasury and Commerce Departments, argued for backing the NFTC, other offices, especially in the State Department and the National Security Council, opposed taking any position.

In a letter to state officials in April 1998, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright expressed the administration's deep ambivalence.

"Our challenge," she wrote, "is to ensure that America speaks with a single voice." She also noted, however, that "President Clinton and I recognise the authority of state and local officials to determine their own investment and procurement policies, and the right - indeed their responsibility - to take moral considerations into account as they do so."

The latter position is the one taken by Massachusetts in the case. "The states should be free...to apply a moral standard to their spending decisions," according to a brief filed by the state, which, in a rare breach of legal protocol, was not informed in advance by the administration - apparently to avoid publicity - of its own submission.

"Nothing in the federal Constitution...requires the states to trade with dictators," argues the Massachusetts brief, which is supported by amicus briefs from more than two dozen states and cities, some 24 members of Congress, and a plethora of human rights and labour groups.

The Clinton administration brief stresses that it, too, strongly opposes the current government in Burma and has imposed trade and other sanctions against it.

"The disagreement," according to the brief, "is only over whether the State could permissibly take the sort of action reflected in the Massachusetts Burma Act."

Citing complaints against the law by the EU, Japan, and the Association for Southeast Asian Nations, the administration goes onto argue that it has "complicated (US) efforts to develop a multilateral strategy" and thus "impermissibly infringe(s) upon the national government's exclusive authority to conduct foreign affairs."

"Indeed, if the (Act) were sustained, a multitude of different, and differing state and local measures sanctioning foreign governments could be expected," the brief states, adding that similar selective-purchasing statutes have been or adopted or considered against companies doing business in China, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Morocco, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Switzerland, Tibet, Turkey, and Vietnam.

The administration's arguments echo those made by the two courts which have considered the case to date. In November 1998, US federal court judge Joseph Tauro ruled that "State interests, no matter how noble, do not trump the federal government's exclusive foreign affairs power."

Last June, in a more sweeping decision, a three-judge federal appeals court in Boston found that "the conduct of this nation's foreign affairs cannot be effectively managed on behalf of all the nation's citizens if each of the many state and local governments pursues its own foreign policy."

But supporters of the Act remain confident. "This could actually backfire against the administration," noted Robert Stumberg, a professor at Georgetown Law Centre. "Some justices who might have been more sympathetic to the administration's case may now be more inclined to see in this a major extension of federal power at the expense of state and local authorities."

The Court's majority consists of justices appointed by Republican presidents, who generally have been more solicitous of state and local rights. Ironically, President Ronald Reagan's attorney-general, a strong supporter of apartheid South Africa, opposed a constitutional challenge to the selective-purchasing laws against Pretoria for precisely that reason.

"The administration's brief amounts to an unparalleled attack by the federal government on state sovereignty and local democracy and really makes a sharp contrast with even the Reagan administration's view that selective-purchasing laws were constitutional," says Simon Billeness, a financial analyst in Boston who has led the anti-Burma campaign there.

Whatever the Supreme Court decides, however, the case's main impact may actually work against the WTO, which was already badly wounded by the debacle of its Seattle meeting last December, according to Stumberg.

In 1994, when the administration was negotiating with Congress over Washington's membership in the WTO, it offered assurances to the attorneys-general of all 50 US states that private corporations could not sue states in connection with WTO agreements, including any constitution-based challenges to state laws.

"To get it through Congress, that's what the US Trade Representative agreed to," said Stumberg. "Now the fact that the administration is lining up with the corporations will not help the USTR's credibility when new trade agreements come up." (END/IPS/EF/HD/jl/ks/00)

*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. ***


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Date: 19 Feb 2000 17:17:36 U
From: "j.e. cummins" jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

No evidence of toxic bacteria in organic produce

By Prof. Joe Cummins, 19 February 2000, e-mail: jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

Escherichia coli 0157:H7 is not a Problem Linked Exclusively to Organic Produce

The page: http://safetyalerts.com gives a good compilation of government safety alerts in food products. The numerous alerts on Escherichia coli 0157:H7 (E coli) the shiga toxin producing bacteria that causes kidney damage and death in children and older people. The numerous incidents reported are mainly from eating undercooked hamburger or in one case a major outbreak was caused by people picnicking in a cow pasture.

I have searched the science literature and found that most incidents of E coli poisoning are related to hamburger or other meat. Slutsker et al (1998) did a case controlled studies of E coli infection in the United States and their multivariante analysis showed only eating undercooked hamburger remained associated with infection .Ackers et al (1998 ) reported Montana E coli outbreak infecting 40 residents who ate lettuce purchased in stores from producers in Washington State and Montana, the lettuce was not identified as certified organic produce.

Hillborn et al (1999) studied an outbreak of lettuce associated E coli associated with mesclun lettuce in Connecticut and Illinois from a single producer. The contamination was linked to cattle in a pasture near the lettuce field. The report did not indicate that the lettuce was certified organic produce nor was there use of manure from the cattle on the lettuce field, runoff from the cow pasture was suggested.

A British study investigated whole lettuce from supermarkets, shops and market stalls and found all were acceptable microbiological quality in a search for fecal bacteria including E coli 0157:H7(Little et al 1999). Currently the peer reviewed scientific literature has not recorded evidence that organic produce is a source of E coli contamination. The best evidence indicates that the manure composting required for organic certification is fully adequate to eliminate E coli 0157:H7.

However, organic farmers should take care that poo pollution in runoff from nearby pastures is avoided . At any rate, pastures near produce fields should be required create low berms around their fields to limit runoff, whether the produce fields are organic or not.

References

  1. Ackers,M.,Mahon,B.,Leahy,E,Goode,B.,Damrow,T,Hayes,P,Bibb,D. and Barrett,T. An outbreak of Escherichia coli 0157:H7 infections associated with leaf lettuce J Infect,Dis 1998,177,1588-93

  2. Hilborn,E.,Mennin,J,Mshar,P,Hadler,J, Voetsch,A, Wojtkunski,C, Swartz,M,Mshar,R,Lamber-Fair,M.,Farrar,J,Glynn,M. and Slutsker,L.A multistate outbreak of Escherichia coli 0157:H7 infection associated with consumption of mesclun lettuce Arch Intern Med 1999,159,1758-64

  3. Little,C,Roberts,D,Youngs,E and de Louvis,J. Microbiological quality of retail imported unprepared whole lettuce J Food Prot 1999 62,325-8

  4. Slutsker,L,Ries,A,Maloney,K,Wells,J, Greene ,K and Griffin,P.A nationwide case controlled study of Escherichia coli 0157:H7 infection in the United States J Infect Dis 1998,177, 962-6

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The word for a group of tigers is a STREAK
The word for a group of toothless tigers is a ROYAL SOCIETY