Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

31 March 2000

Table of Contents

Participants to differ on safety standards for GM foods
Fantasy and fact
Who owns your DNA?
Support needed for State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazi,
Anti-GM foods campaigners vow int'l cooperation for safety
EU's highest court to rule on French GM crop ban
Food industry rises to the demand for non-GM food
US green groups prod FDA to tighten biofood rules
Genetic ID's New GMO Tests Can Save U.S. Corn Exports to Japan; Restore Exports to Europe
USDA Betrays Public Trust with Two New Terminator Patents
Terminator 2 Years Later: Suicide Seeds on the Fast Track
Bank Warns Against Biotech
Japan Firms Switch
Bugs Love "Poison" Crops
Shareholders Demand Ban
Animal Feed Safety
Canadians Mobilize
Corn Growers Say No
Italy Suspends Seven Crops
Woolworths S. Africa bans GE foods
Europe to act on GM pollution of organic farms
Thousands of Protesters Rally Before Start of Biotech Convention
1,500 March in Boston to Protest Biotech Food
Protesters Rally Against Biotechs
Magazine insert leaves a bad taste: Ottawa pushes safety of bio-engineered food
Modified Food Vote in Mexican Senate
Modified-food policy hypocritical
GM Canola Allegedly Dumped
DYSFUNCTIONAL SCIENCE: Towards a "pseudoscientific world order"?
National Poll And Cross-country Protest Demonstrate Consumers Won't Be Fooled By Ge Foods
Farmers Shy Away From Biotech Crops

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Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 21:10:31 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Participants to differ on safety standards for GM foods

Kyodo News Service/Associated Press Mar 13, 2000, © 1999, NewsReal, Inc.

TOKYO, March 13 (Kyodo) – Members of an international commission on food standards are expected to clash on safety standards for genetically modified (GM) foods during a four-day meeting from Tuesday in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, Japanese government sources said Monday.

In the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Codex Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology, a body under the 165-member Codex Alimentarius Commission, nations such as Denmark will insist GM food products should not be commercialized unless their safety is guaranteed, while the United States will object to singling out such foods and screening them, the sources said.

Denmark and some other European countries will stress the need to label GM foods in order to protect consumers. They will propose a "precautionary principle," which would ban the commercialization of products if their safety is not guaranteed, the sources said.

The U.S., the world's largest exporter of GM products, however, will point out that ingredients of foodstuffs are altered not only by genetic modification but also by growers' selection of desirable crops. The U.S. will express opposition to special safety checks being conducted only on GM crops, the sources said.

South Africa will suggest labeling of GM foods should be a major issue on the meeting's agenda, but New Zealand will try to exclude the labeling issue from discussions on the safety of GM foodstuffs, the sources said.

Japan will attest to the efficiency of biotechnology, but will seek the careful application of that technology to secure products' safety and to win public confidence, according to the sources.

Tokyo will suggest promoting the disclosure of information related to the safety of GM foods and creating an international database on allergens and genes.

The ad hoc task force, whose creation was decided upon during the commission's plenary session in Rome last July, aims to draw up scientific safety standards for GM foodstuffs by 2003. It will meet every year with the participation of nongovernmental organizations as observers.

The Rome-based commission was jointly established by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization in 1962. Its food standards are treated by the World Trade Organization (WTO) as de facto international criteria, and WTO members are required to follow the standards in principle.


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Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 21:10:31 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Fantasy and fact

by Dr. Robert Mann, Mulgoon Professor Emeritus of Environmental Studies,
University of Auckland, Waikato Times, Hamilton, NZ, 00-3-14

Your outspoken right-wing Hamilton City Councillor and ACT candidate Gary Mallett continues to assert that biotechnology will help solve Third World starvation.

Readers should be made aware that he speaks fantasy rather than fact in his claim "biotechnology addresses environmental degradation, hunger and poverty in the developing world by improving agriculture productivity and better nutrition".

The genetically-engineered crops to date are almost entirely in the USA. They are only a few species - soybean, corn and cotton - jigged to resist a particular herbicide or to produce a modified version of an insect-poison. None of these is to help the poor.

Mr Mallett says they require fewer herbicides. He should be more careful where he gets his propaganda. In the couple of seasons of commercial testing to date, the Roundup-resistant soybeans have actually had several times more herbicide applied than ordinary soybeans - and have averaged 7% lower yield.

The main attempt to help the Third World with GE is 'golden rice' which is to produce beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A). Its originator declines to tell me whether it is yet real; and when it is, it will bring its own set of side-effects {(as has every technical fix in history, even before GE)}.

Many well-proven methods of helping the poor are being assiduously shunned by us rich countries. Those who really care about them will offer genuine help now, rather than using them as a cynical excuse for GE by big First World corporations { such as Monsanto}.


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Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 21:10:31 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Who owns your DNA?

Genetic research that can save lives is often stymied by biotech companies' greedy patent claims.

By Arthur Allen, salon.com Health & Body March 7, 2000
http://www.salon.com/health/feature/2000/03/07/genetic_test

For years, the parents of children suffering from an implacable genetic disorder called Canavan disease dutifully packed off their blood and tissue samples to Dr. Reuben Matalon, a researcher at Miami Children's Hospital. These shipments were an altruistic, volunteer effort by a devastated group of people – their own children were dead or dying, but they hoped to prevent the births of more children with the disastrous, inevitably fatal brain disease.

In 1993, their donations paid off when Matalon, parsing the families' DNA, was able to identify a series of gene mutations on chromosome 17 that appeared to indirectly cause the disease, which has mainly affected Ashkenazi Jews. His work raised hopes that Canavan would go the way of Tay-Sachs, a related illness that has nearly disappeared in the Jewish population since couples began routine screening for Tay-Sachs in the early 1970s.

But the Tay-Sachs screening program, apparently, belonged to a kinder, gentler era in medicine. In November 1998, Miami Children's Hospital announced plans to strictly license its patent on the Canavan gene. Not only did Miami Children's demand that clinicians pay a $25 royalty (eventually lowered to $12.50) each time they performed the test; it also put a cap on the number of tests any academic lab could do.

The hospital's stringent licensing agreement is part of an alarming trend in biomedical research. Some biotech companies, universities and even hospitals are seeking to recoup their costs quickly by patenting discoveries that many believe shouldn't be patented at all. The patent license disputes threaten to close off research and clinical applications of some of the biomedical discoveries that Americans have paid billions to enable.

Some of the leading genetics labs in the country would not accept Miami Children's licensing terms and as a result had to stop testing for Canavan disease. "It's a wretched contract and we refused to sign it," says Debra Leonard, director of the molecular pathology laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania hospitals in Philadelphia. Shocked patient groups and scientists could only watch in dismay as bickering lawyers put a squeeze on information they'd worked long and hard to generate.

"We gave our DNA and that of our children to help develop testing and prenatal diagnosis. We sent our blood and skin samples to a doctor at Miami Children's Hospital," says Dr. Judith Tsipis, a Brandeis University biologist whose son, Andreas, died of Canavan disease in 1998 at age 22. "Is it right that they use our genes – given to help others – in a way that restricts access and increases cost to testing?

"It's shocking," she says.

"My understanding from the hospital was we needed to file the patent just so I could work with the gene myself," says Matalon, who has since moved to the University of Texas hospital system, where he continues to work on Canavan disease. "I had nothing to do with their licensing decision and I got no penny from any patent."

Canavan disease is one of a growing number of conditions in which patent fights have intruded into genetic medicine. Ninety percent of the 150 U.S. clinical genetics labs in a recent survey reported having withheld tests because of onerous patent claims. Genes for early-onset Alzheimer's and breast cancer are among the most common DNA sequences saddled with restrictive licenses.

Doctors whose clinical practice involves devising means to detect disease-causing genetic mutations are being told they can only perform such tests under licensing agreements that are often so strict the doctors' institutions refuse to sign them.

"This is my medical practice. I can't do what I was trained to do, and I spent a long time training to do it," says Leonard, who is also president of the Association for Molecular Pathology.

The problem will only grow with the approval of thousands of additional gene applications currently pending before the U.S Patent and Trade Office. "This is just the tip of the iceberg," says Leonard. The conflicts over genetic testing – the first clinical application of the Human Genome Project – are probably just an opening skirmish in a multisided war for control of the information, drugs and therapies that may arise from the genome discoveries.

Thanks to robots, supercomputers and brainy scientists, the government-led genome project is expected this year or next to finish its sequencing of the estimated 100,000 genes in human DNA. But the mapping of the human chromosomes is really just the start of a new kind of biological understanding. Although scientists now know the DNA sequences of many human genes, they don't understand how most of them work.

While the rest of us await the integration of these molecules into an intelligible language of life, scientists, businessmen and the government squabble over what value to assign the millions of information snippets.

James Watson, who won the Nobel Prize in 1953 for discovering DNA's double-helix structure, resigned as the first director of the NIH genome institute in 1992 in a dispute over whether to patent DNA sequences that a scientist named Craig Venter had discovered. Venter also quit the NIH and formed a gene sequencing partnership with William Haseltine, a Harvard AIDS scientist. Haseltine and Venter now lead competing biotech firms that are racing a government-led consortium to decode vast quantities of human DNA.

Haseltine, Venter and other scientific entrepreneurs have submitted patent applications on millions of bits of DNA, many of whose function isn't clearly understood. The patent office recently raised the bar of knowledge it requires before issuing patents on genes, but Francis Collins, Watson's successor, worries that premature claim-staking on the genome could end up snarling research in legal battles for years.

Using the sophisticated databanks, most of them designed and run by the government, genome-analyzing companies have described possible functions for about half the gene sequences discovered so far. John Doll, who heads the U.S. Patent and Trade Office's biotechnology division, says his office will grant patents for genes when applicants can describe a plausible function for them based on computer searches.

A prime example was the patent awarded last month to Human Genome Sciences for a gene that codes for a protein involved in introducing the HIV virus into cells. When Haseltine filed for the patent in 1995, he didn't know the function of the gene, but was savvy enough to guess it might be a cell membrane receptor. In the meantime, AIDS researchers doing painstaking science uncovered the actual role of the gene. The awarding of the patent –worth millions if the gene is used to create AIDS drugs or vaccines -- infuriated these scientists as well as patient groups that supported their research.

"Doesn't it bother you," Collins asked Doll during a conference in Washington on Thursday, "that your standard would allow patent protection for roughly 40 percent of human genes, and yet if you ask any working scientist what percent of human genes they know the function of, you'd get, maybe 2 percent?"

"Everybody's filing for these patents," said Doll. "Not just the Incytes of the world; zillions of universities are taking the same approach."

"I don't doubt it for a second but it doesn't make me feel any different," an exasperated Collins responded. "When there's a gold rush, a lot of people go to California."

Other scientists are less restrained in their attacks on the biotech industry. "The idea of patenting DNA sequences is abhorrent to me, but in particular, the way it's being done now is intellectually dishonest," says Robert Nussbaum, a molecular biologist at NIH.

Nussbaum, who works on Parkinson's disease, said the kind of gene patent applications that Doll's office has decided to approve are likely to be shaky in their claims. Even if correct, he said, such claims are based on searches of public databases and "are being done on the backs and shoulders of research funded by the public and charitable foundations. It doesn't seem right that these sequences should be taken and locked up for the purpose of profit making."

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 it for research and educational purposes.


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Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2000 15:50:27 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Thanks to jim jim@niall7.demon.co.uk for forwarding this

Support needed for State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazi,

Tue, 14 Mar 2000

Sections:
Message
Manifesto:

The government of Rio Grande do Sul has declared its entention to stay free of genetic engineering. The state faces an attempt to remove the right of its government to make decisions to protect health, the environment, and the consumer with regards to genetically engineered organisms

Here is a message from the State of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, which has taken a brave stand against genetic engineering in agriculture and also wishes to become free of pesticides and herbicides.

They need our support right now! Here is their message:

Message

Friends,

We are launching the Manifesto, IN DEFENCE OF LIFE, which goes beyond mere party positions, in support of the Governor of the State, Olivio Dutra. He has decided to veto an attempt to introduce a legal project which seeks to remove from the State of Rio Grande do Sul the right to make decisions on issues related to genetically engineered organisms.

We are counting on your participation to disseminate this Manifesto and get as many people to support it as possible within the State of Rio Grande do Sul, and in other Brazilian states and other countries around the world.

Please send your name and organisation BEFORE 16th March 2000, the deadline for the veto. Please send it to: agapan@ax.apc.org.br or by fax to 00 51 211 5546.

Thank you!

Manifesto:

IN DEFENCE OF LIFE

We wish to endorse the initiative of Olivio Dutra, Governor of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, to veto the proposed law which has been designed to remove from the State of Rio Grande do Sul its constitutional competence to make decisions on health and environment with respect to activities involving genetically modified organisms.

We re-affirm that it is the duty of the public authority of the state to protect health, the environment and the consumer and to fully adopt the precautionary principle which now has international recognition.

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 it for research and educational purposes.


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Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 23:41:08 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Anti-GM foods campaigners vow int'l cooperation for safety

Kyodo News Service/Associated Press

CHIBA, Japan, March 15 (Kyodo) – By: Maya Kaneko Civic group members against genetically modified (GM) organisms from Japan, South Korea and the United States vowed Wednesday to fight for consumer protection by sharing experiences in pressuring their governments.

"I think it's critically important that we support each other...and that we share experiences, energies and knowledge," Philip Bereano, professor at the University of Washington, told campaigners at a meeting in Chiba, east of Tokyo.

"Hopefully that's the way we would influence the deliberations of the Codex committee here and biotech foods," he said.

Bereano's remark was welcomed by some 150 citizens, farmers and consumer group representatives at the meeting aimed at influencing a four-day conference of the Codex Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology, which kicked off at Makuhari Messe convention complex in the Chiba Prefecture capital on Tuesday.

About 250 participants from 37 countries and 24 institutions have been discussing measures to draw up safety standards for GM foods in the task force's first meeting. In Tuesday's session, they agreed on creation of two working groups to work on regulation of GM products.

Michael Hansen, a U.S. biotech expert and member of Consumers International, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) observing the conference, indicated Japan will likely chair one of the two working groups and urged citizens to keep up pressure on the government so that it can "move into the right direction."

Kwang Mo Chung, president of the Consumers Union of (South) Korea, also stressed the importance of international cooperation between NGOs, and urged the Japanese government to act independently of the United States, which she said tries to hamper the efforts of other, mainly European, countries to set strict standards for GM foodstuffs.


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Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 23:41:08 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

EU's highest court to rule on French GM crop ban

Reuters Company News - March 20, 2000 08:54

BRUSSELS, March 20 (Reuters) - The European Union's highest court is set to rule whether France had the right in 1998 to suspend approval of three genetically modified (GM) maize strains already cleared at EU level.

A spokeswoman for the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice said on Monday the final ruling was expected to be released early on Tuesday.


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Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 23:41:08 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Food industry rises to the demand for non-GM food

The Guardian 2000-03-20
http://cnniw.yellowbrix.com/pages/cnniw/Story.nsp?story_id=953311....

The food industry is to advise supermarkets and processing companies how to secure supplies of conventionally grown crops in response to the consumer demand for products without genetically modified ingredients.

It hopes to encourage new deals with soya and maize growers in the US who have resisted pressure to switch to GM production, in order to ensure a broad range of products remains free of GM material.


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Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 23:41:08 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

US green groups prod FDA to tighten biofood rules

By Julie Vorman, Reuters Company News - March 21, 2000 18:24

WASHINGTON, March 21 (Reuters) - Some 50 U.S. consumer, environmental and farm groups on Tuesday demanded the Food and Drug Administration adopt rigorous safety testing and labels for genetically engineered foods, and vowed to deluge the agency with letters and e-mail to show Americans want action.

The groups filed a formal petition with the FDA for safety testing and labels as the agency winds down its own review of eight-year-old FDA regulations for gene-spliced soybeans, corn, potatoes, squash and other foods.


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Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 23:41:08 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Genetic ID's New GMO Tests Can Save U.S. Corn Exports to Japan; Restore Exports to Europe

March 24, 2000

FAIRFIELD, Iowa – (BUSINESS WIRE) – March 23, 2000 via NewsEdge Corporation -

Variety-specific tests help exports comply with Japan's severe restrictions

Genetic ID, Inc., the pioneer and world leader in testing foods for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), has developed cost-effective tests that could help save hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. corn and corn-based food exports to Japan and restore stalled U.S. corn exports to Europe. The tests, which screen for specific unapproved varieties of GMOs, promise to protect U.S. exporters from risks of refused shipments and legal penalties.


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Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 23:41:08 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

RAFI - Rural Advancement Foundation International rafi@rafi.org www.rafi.org

News Release - 24 March 2000

USDA Betrays Public Trust with Two New Terminator Patents

Will USDA's Biotech Advisory Board Demand Accountability?

The Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), an international civil society organization based in Canada, announced today that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) holds two new patents on the controversial Terminator technology, the genetic engineering of plants to render their seeds sterile. If commercialized, Terminator would make it impossible for farmers to save seeds from their harvest, forcing them to return to the commercial seed market every year.

"The US government is advancing research and squandering taxpayer dollars on a technology that has been universally condemned because it is bad for farmers, food security, and biodiversity," says Pat Mooney, Executive Director of RAFI. "It's an egregious misallocation of public resources for the sole purpose of maximizing seed industry profits," adds Mooney.


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Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 23:41:08 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

RAFI COMMUNIQUE February/March 2000

Terminator 2 Years Later: Suicide Seeds on the Fast Track

'We've continued right on with work on the Technology Protection System [Terminator]. We never really slowed down. We're on target, moving ahead to commercialize it. We never really backed off.' - Harry Collins, Delta & Pine Land Seed Co., January, 2000

ISSUE

Despite mounting opposition from national governments and United Nations agencies, work on Terminator and Traitor (genetic trait control) moves full speed ahead. After Monsanto and AstraZeneca publicly vowed not to commercialize suicide seeds in 1999, governments and civil society organizations were lulled into thinking that the crisis had passed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Last year AstraZeneca conducted its first field trial on genetic trait control technology in the UK. According to industry sources, it is not the first company to conduct field tests. Can commercialization be far behind?

PLAYERS

Delta & Pine Land, the world's largest cotton seed company, proudly asserts that it is 'moving ahead to commercialize' Terminator. Monsanto and AstraZeneca have each merged with other companies since they pledged not to commercialize suicide seeds. The Gene Giants collectively hold over 30 Terminator-type patents. Corporate commitments to disavow Terminator are short-lived and virtually meaningless in light of the eye-popping pace of corporate takeovers and makeovers.

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 it for research and educational purposes.


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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 17:30:48 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson April 2000 Alive

Reprinted with permission from the April 2000 issue of Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition, 7436 Fraser Park Drive, Burnaby, BC V5J 5B9

Biotech News
by Richard Wolfson, PhD

Bank Warns Against Biotech

Credit Suisse, one of the world's largest financial advisers, recently sent out several reports warning that the progress of biotech appears doomed due to consumer concern. Analysts stated that food manufacturers are running scared of genetically engineered (GE) crops, and that key questions about the technology may not be answered for several years. These reports from Credit Suisse, whose clients include some of the world's top biotech firms, follow similar warnings by the influential Deutsche Bank in 1999.


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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 17:30:48 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson April 2000 Alive

Japan Firms Switch

Many food firms in Japan are substituting corn and soybeans with wheat and other grains to ensure their products are free of genetically engineered ingredients. Nisshin Flour Milling Co., Japan's largest flour miller, has replaced corn starch by wheat starch and soy protein by wheat protein.

Kibun Food Chemifa Co., Japan's largest soybean milk maker, has also removed all GE ingredients. Sugar is being derived from sources other than corn syrup.


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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 17:30:48 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson April 2000 Alive

Bugs Love "Poison" Crops

Corn genetically engineered to produce a toxin to kill insect pests is only working on some pests. While this toxin is killing European corn borers, other insects are still surviving and attacking the plants. Consequently, biotech companies are advising farmers to spray the corn with other pesticides. These and other findings negate claims by industry that biotech crops will reduce the need for pesticides.


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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 17:30:48 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson April 2000 Alive

Shareholders Demand Ban

Shareholders have begun pressuring corporations worldwide by introducing resolutions to demand a moratorium on GE foods until proper testing is done. This international shareholder campaign is coordinated by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), an umbrella body for 275 religious and other groups, which claims to control $100 billion of shares in US companies. Corporations initially targeted include Coca-Cola, Heinz, Safeway, McDonald's, and Monsanto in USA, as well as Diageo, Pillsbury, and Burger King in Europe.


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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 17:30:48 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson April 2000 Alive

Animal Feed Safety

Tesco, the largest food retailer in the UK, has removed all genetically modified ingredients from animal feed. Tesco's decision is impacting Canadian markets since Canada is a major exporter of crops to UK, and animal feed accounts for 80% of GE crop sales. Greenpeace Canada campaigner Michael Khoo said "If Tesco can take GMOs out of animal feed, Loblaws can get them out of human food."


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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 17:30:48 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson April 2000 Alive

Canadians Mobilize

Over 170,000 Canadians have signed petitions demanding mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Individual petitions were distributed by the Canadian Health Food Association (25,000 names), Biotech Action Montreal (35,000 names), the Natural Law Party (54,000 names), Action Réseau Consommateur & the Bloc Quebecois (40,000 names), and Council of Canadians (16,000 names), with the support of hundreds of health food stores nationwide. Many groups including Gene Action (Toronto), Biotech Action Montreal, Council of Canadians, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, EarthSave, and Canadians Alert on Genetic Engineering (CAGE) have organized actions across the country alerting Canadians about the hazards of genetically engineered foods.


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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 17:30:48 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson April 2000 Alive

Corn Growers Say No

The American Corn Growers Association is warning farmers not to plant genetically modified crops in order to prevent loss of foreign and domestic markets. Gary Goldberg, CEO of ACGA, said: "Everywhere we turn, our customers are rejecting GMOs [genetically modified organisms]."


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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 17:30:48 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson April 2000 Alive

Italy Suspends Seven Crops

The Italian government recently banned seven genetically-modified varieties of corn and canola oil. Portugal halted production of two genetically modified strains of corn, with 15 other strains expected to be not approved. Human safety and environmental concerns were cited as the reasons.


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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 17:30:48 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson April 2000 Alive

Woolworths S. Africa bans GE foods

South African retail chain Woolworths is removing all known genetically modified foods from its shelves until they were proven safe. Other chains are expected to follow.

Note from the publisher (in South Africa): Woolworth is related to Marks & Spencer in the UK. They are learning from their overseas' experience – the full implementation of the committment to ban GE food is still to be seen first!

Franz


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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 17:30:48 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson April 2000 Alive

Europe to act on GM pollution of organic farms

BY Geoffrey Lean, Environment Correspondent
THE INDEPENDENT, London, 26 March 2000
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/UK/Environment/2000-03/gmpoll26....

Ministers want Britons to have the power to sue GM companies, and force them to pay massive damages if they harm health, the environment or livelihoods. They are backing moves in the European Parliament to make Monsanto and other giant firms financially responsible for any ill-effects of their activities. They are particularly keen to safeguard organic farmers, who face ruin if their crops are contaminated with pollen from GM crops. The measure would dramatically shift the balance of power in the management of GM foods and crops to the public, while calling the bluff of the firms, who have long claimed GM produce is harmless.

Last week the European parliament's environment committee passed an amendment to an EU directive imposing full liability on the companies for damage done by their products. The amendment goes before the full parliament next month and, if passed, will be sent to EU environment ministers for approval.


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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 17:30:48 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Rally Against Biofoods

Thousands of Protesters Rally Before Start of Biotech Convention

Reuters, B O S T O N, March 26

Opponents of biotechnology march up Boylston Street to the Hynes Convention Center in Boston during a carnival-like rally. The convention center is hosting the Bio2000 conference, the industry's biggest conference in this country.

In what organizers said was the largest demonstration ever held in the United States to protest genetic engineering of foods, up to 3,500 people marched today in Boston at the opening of Bio2000.

Boston police had geared up for Seattle-style protests that disrupted the World Trade Organization meeting in December. But after a four-hour rally and march by what police said was between 2,500 and 3,500 people, there were no arrests.

"Everything was remarkably peaceful," a Boston police spokesman said.

'Don't Ask, Don't Find'

Costumed as mutant vegetables and animals, the demonstrators complained of the lack of testing and information available to consumers about genetically modified foods especially in corn and soybean that are key components of many processed foods.

"Government and industry attitude appears to be 'Don't Ask, Don't Find,'" Ricarda Steinbrecker, a professor from the University of Liverpool in England, told the crowd gathered at Copley Square before they marched to the Hynes convention center about a quarter-mile away. The center is hosting Bio2000, a biotechnology industry convention where some 7,000 researchers and business executives are gathered.

Steven Drucker, one of the protest organizers, estimated that 60 to 70 percent of the processed foods in the United States use genetically altered crops. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require such foods to be labeled.


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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 17:30:48 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

1,500 March in Boston to Protest Biotech Food

By CAREY GOLDBERG New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/news/national/boston-biotech.htm.... March 27, 2000

BOSTON, March 26 – In what organizers called the largest American demonstration against genetically engineered food, more than 1,500 protesters marched through downtown Boston today and ended up outside a major biotechnology industry convention, where they pointed their fingers at the suited scientists watching from the windows and shouted, "Shame on you!"

City officials and police officers, concerned about a possible repeat of the fracas at the protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle last fall, had prepared assiduously for the demonstration. But all passed peacefully in an atmosphere something like an Earth Day festival.

In fact, the demonstration was not wild but wildly creative. Street theater abounded; several protesters ran around dressed as white-coated fanatical scientists wielding giant syringes and several others fluttered about as butterflies to symbolize the monarchs that a study has shown were harmed by genetically altered corn. A man in a Frankenstein costume pushed a shopping cart bearing genetically engineered "Frankenflakes," and another wore a papier-mâché killer tomato on his head.

The protest was timed to coincide with Bio2000, a record-setter for the other side: its organizers call it the largest biotechnology conference in the United States, gathering about 7,000 participants for five days, beginning today, to share the latest news on promising drugs and techniques. Its speakers include the actor Christopher Reeve and Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.


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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 17:30:48 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson

Protesters Rally Against Biotechs

By STEVE LEBLANC, Associated Press Writer, Monday March 27 3:47 AM ET
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000327/tc/biotech_conference_2.....

BOSTON (AP) - A carnival atmosphere prevailed as more than a thousand outside the biotechnology industry's conference.

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 it for research and educational purposes.


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Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2000 16:38:59 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN3-31

Magazine insert leaves a bad taste: Ottawa pushes safety of bio-engineered food

By Mark Abley, Montreal Gazette, 2000.03.28, PAGE: A1 / FRONT

The federal government is paying two of the largest consumer magazines in the country, Canadian Living and Coup de Pouce, to publish supplements asserting the safety of genetically engineered food.

The supplements are due to hit the newsstands in early June, packaged into the July 2000 edition.

The supplements are sponsored by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which falls under the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food. The agency's to provide safe food, consumer protection and market

... Yet critics charge that the CFIA has other agendas in mind apart from providing adequate information to the public. said Bradford But they're blatantly promoting biotechnology. It's a conflict of interest and an inherent


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Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2000 16:38:59 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN3-31

Modified Food Vote in Mexican Senate

"MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexico's Senate voted unanimously Thursday to require the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients."

full story:
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000330/wl/mexico_genetically_mo....

MEXICO-GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD

March 30, 2000, The Associated Press/Dow Jones

MEXICO CITY – Mexico's Senate was cited as voting unanimously Thursday to require the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. The stories say that the measure appears to generally agree with the U.N. biosafety protocol adopted at a meeting of 140 national representatives in Montreal, Canada. Several countries, notably in Europe, already require such labels.

Under the Mexican measure, genetically modified foods would have to bear a label reading "transgenic food." Those containing some genetically modified ingredients would need a label reading: "Food made with transgenic products."

The measure approved by the Senate now must be approved by the lower house of congress, the Chamber of Deputies, before going to the president for his signature.

The Mexican branch of the environmentalist group Greenpeace was cited as issuing a news release late Thursday welcoming the decision, saying it "recognizes the concerns expressed by diverse social sectors."


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Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2000 16:38:59 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN3-31

Modified-food policy hypocritical

The Edmonton Journal Fri 31 Mar 2000, SECTION Opinion, P. A14

The federal government has repeatedly denied it has a conflict of interest on the issue of genetically modified foods, even though its agencies are responsible for both promoting and ensuring the safety of such products.

Its own scientists have said the government doesn't have sufficient resources to adequately test such foods and therefore can't confidently endorse them. Just last month, the government appointed an independent panel of experts to research the issues around biotechnology and genetically modified foods and make policy recommendations.

Now we find out the government is buying advertising supplements in two large consumer magazines, Canadian Living and the French-language Coup de Pouce, to promote the use of genetically altered products. The optics are poor, to say the least.

While the government may legitimately believe such foods are safe for both consumers and the environment, it is hypocritical to pretend to be researching the issue in good faith, then turn around and pay to promote genetically modified foods to Canadians.


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Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2000 16:38:59 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN3-31

GM Canola Allegedly Dumped

ABC radio, March 28, 2000
http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/stories/s113606.htm

Federal and State agencies have signalled they will begin investigating Australia's first claim of an improper disposal of experimentally genetically modified crops.

It's alleged bags of material from genetically modified canola plants were dumped at an open rubbish tip in Mount Gambier in South Australia.


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Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2000 16:38:59 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN3-31

Here is an excerpt from an article by Jaan Suurkula M.D. Chairman of Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of Science and Technology (PSRAST)

DYSFUNCTIONAL SCIENCE: Towards a "pseudoscientific world order"?

by Jaan Suurkula M.D.

Excerpt:

"The successful launch of genetically engineered foods with the aid of a useless safety assessment principle endorsed by leading scientists in national and international expert committees is a very serious warning for us all. It may indicate that we are already on the way towards a "new pseudo-scientific world order" where the short term interests of powerful industrial interests override global long term ecological and health safety considerations. - Scientists in this scenario are degraded to voluntary or involuntary hostages exploited to provide pseudo-scientific legitimacy for the industryís release of products regardless of long term safety."

The full article is found at http://www.psrast.org/crisisofsci.htm


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Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2000 16:38:59 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN3-31

Press Release - Council of Canadians

National Poll And Cross-country Protest Demonstrate Consumers Won't Be Fooled By GE Foods

March 31, 2000

OTTAWA – As activists across the country prepare for a day of protest against genetically engineered (GE) foods, a national poll released today reveals that a consumer revolt on GE foods may be brewing, says The Council of Canadians.

According to the poll conducted for The Council of Canadians by Environics Research Group, three-quarters (75%) of Canadians familiar with GE foods are worried about their safety and almost all (95%) want GE foods labeled as such. A similarly high number (95%) want consumers to be able to buy non-GE foods, and over two-thirds (71%) would even be willing to pay more to get them. Moreover, most respondents (56%) are not confident in the federal government's ability to protect their health and safety when it comes to GE foods.


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Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2000 16:38:59 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN3-31

Farmers Shy Away From Biotech Crops

By PHILIP BRASHER, AP Farm Writer, Friday March 31, 5:26 pm Eastern Time

WASHINGTON (AP) – Farmers are turning away from genetically engineered crops, especially a biotech corn that's toxic to insects, amid consumer resistance that started overseas and is now being felt in the United States.

Plantings of the gene-altered corn are projected to drop 24 percent this year, according to findings of an Agriculture Department survey released Friday. The report also suggested declines in biotech varieties of cotton and soybeans. ...

Europeans were the first to balk at buying biotech grain, which wary but there is also resistance in Asia, and a handful of U.S. companies now are turning them down, including baby food makers and snack-food giant Frito-Lay Inc.

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 it for research and educational purposes.


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.