4 April 2000

Table of Contents

GM safety tests defective !!! - EU regulator breaks ranks
GM Regulation, Law & Economics
Biotechnology companies ready to launch joint advertisement campaign
Field Trials of GM crops in the developing world
Insect Population Control using a Dominant, Repressible Lethal Genetic System
a magical tree: Moringa
Monsanto fined $250 Million
Antibiotics in Animal Feed--A Growing Public Health Hazard
GM crops and deformities
one level of explanation of GE delusions
Monsanto'S New Boss Is Bullish
Troubling backlash | Biotech companies worry
Cloning: Britain leads again!!!!
More protests against genetically modified food
Survey says Canadians worry about GM foods
Washington Post on the A16 Mobilization
Loan Practices Of World Bank, IMF Targeted

Top NextFront Page

Date: 31 Mar 2000 02:40:51 U
From: wytze
From: Biotech Activists
From: "NLP Wessex"

GM safety tests defective !!! - EU regulator breaks ranks

Thanks to NGIN for forwarding the very significant piece below confirming major reservations on GM food safety testing as expressed by Professor Bevan Moseley. Professor Moseley cannot be dismissed as a 'fringe' scientist, just as the British Medical Association - which has expressed similar reservations - cannot be dismissed as a 'fringe' professional body.

Currently the chair of the Working Group on Novel Foods in the European Union's Scientific Committee on Food Professor Moseley is also a former member of the UK's GM food safety regulatory committee, the ACNFP (Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes).

Even when previously a member of the ACNFP Professor Moseley was already expressing reservations about the reliability of the safety approval system for GM foods.

When in February 1998 he was asked by Charles Colett of Radio Wey Valley, Hampshire, UK in relation to GM foods: "So how can we know that something isn't really going to go horrendously wrong?", Professor Moseley responded frankly:

"Well, I agree with you in the sense that when you use these methods you don't know what part of the chromosome that the new gene is being introduced into and that is, you know, what I would say is a drawback to the technology."

Professor Bevan Moseley is former head of the Institute of Food Research, Reading. He is to be congratulated for his courageous on-going openness concerning the risks associated with GM food. He is not alone in his concerns:

"Why don't we require a pharmaceutical type analysis of the safety of these foods with proper trials?", asked Jack Cunningham, then UK cabinet minister with overall responsibility for biotechnology, when raising a variety of issues in relation to GM crops and food in a leaked internal memo to one of his civil servants, February 2 1999.

It is especially interesting that Professor Moseley indicates it is likely that the next generation of GM foods aimed at producing 'benefits' for consumers - the so-called 'neutraceuticals' or 'functional foods', such as vitamin A 'enriched' rice - will provide even greater health risks than those GM foods currently in the system because of their added complexity.

As Professor Moseley says on behalf of his fellow scientists regarding any food safety incidents that may arise from inadequate testing: "The public won't forgive us."

Please read on .... (next article)



Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 31 Mar 2000 02:40:51 U
From: wytze
From: Biotech Activists
From: "NLP Wessex"

GM Regulation, Law & Economics

By Pat Phibbs, Thursday March 23, 2000 [shortened]
Copyright © 2000 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., Washington D.C.

Unexpected Problems?
'Burned' by Mad Cow Disease


Genetically Modified Food Sales 'Dead' In EU Until Safety Certain, Says Consultant

PHILADELPHIA –ales of genetically engineered foods are 'dead' in Europe until manufacturers can convince consumers that the benefits outweigh any potential risk, a food safety consultant to the European Union said March 21.

Bevan Moseley, a molecular geneticist, disputed the safety of genetically modified food during a debate between the Society of Toxicology and European Society of Toxicology (EUROTOX) held during SOT's meeting March 19-23.

Moseley represented EUROTOX. He also chairs the Working Group on Novel Foods in the European Union's Scientific Committee on Food.

Moseley opposed the idea that traditional tests, which show genetically modified foods are as safe as their traditional counterparts, are an appropriate way to assess the foods' safety.

Ian Munro, who represented SOT, argued in favor of traditional tests.

SOT asked both men to focus on food safety, not ecological issues that also are part of the debate.

Unexpected Problems?

"I support the technology," Moseley asserted. However, unless manufacturers conduct multigenerational safety studies that examine a multitude of possible risks, unexpected problems may occur, he said.

Currently, companies that develop GM foods test the toxin and allergen levels of the new food as well as the safety of the genetic trait they are implanting, Moseley said. If both are safe, the companies assume the new food must be safe, he added.

However, it is not that simple, Moseley continued. Creating genetic variations within a crop is not as specific a process as consumers are led to believe, he said. When companies introduce a genetic trait into a plant, they do not know where it will be added in the plant's DNA, so they do not know what effects it may cause, he said. Further, part of a transferred gene may be "lost," possibly causing later unforeseen effects, he said.

This means companies must conduct tests to detect unanticipated problems, Moseley said. Because he is not a toxicologist, Moseley said he did not know exactly which tests are needed. However, he said, "we have to be ready."

If companies are not prepared, problems may emerge, and "that would kill the whole science of genetically modified food," Moseley said. "I don't want that to happen. ... The public won't forgive us."

Moseley described several problems companies face as they try to convince the public, particularly the European public, to buy genetically modified foods.

'Burned' by Mad Cow Disease

First, Europeans do not trust scientists who tell them food is safe, because in the early 1990s scientists assured them British beef was safe, Moseley said. Since then 50 people have died and 12 people have been diagnosed with a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), which has been associated with beef contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly called "mad cow disease."

"We don't know if this is the tip of the iceberg or most of the iceberg," Moseley said. That experience has made European consumers worried about chronic illnesses they fear they may contract from food, he said.

Genetically modified foods benefit farmers, but they offer "no perceivable benefit" to consumers, Moseley argued.

Consumers would see a benefit if GM foods were cheaper or the quality significantly better, but most GM foods do not offer such advantages, he said.

Developing "functional foods" might offer such advantages, Moseley said. He referred to foods that would be modified to have more vitamins or antioxidants. However, developing such foods will involve inserting multiple genetic variations into a plant, he said. Today, most GM foods involve only a single genetic modification, he added.

As companies move toward these more complicated endeavors, Moseley said, he would be "very surprised" if they did not create inadvertent, unexpected health problems in these foods.


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

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 31 Mar 2000 09:02:01 U

This is a carbon copy of what they did last year and the year before in Europe.
Jim Mc Nulty

Biotechnology companies ready to launch joint advertisement campaign

By Tim Todd, Bridge News, March 31, 2000

San Diego – A coalition of seven, competing biotechnology companies is poised within the next several days to launch an unprecedented multi-media, multi-million dollar advertisement campaign to better explain the controversial genetically modified organisms (GMO) technology, a member of the organization coalition's outreach effort said Wednesday.


The Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI) is in the final stages of readying a North American campaign that will include a television commercial, print advertising, a web site and more, Randy Krotz told members of three National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) committees during a meeting here.

Krotz is director for industrial affairs at Monsanto Co, one of the largest US pharmaceutical and agricultural company.

The CBI, which comprises funding from such US industry giants as DuPont de Nemours, Monsanto and others that manufacture genetically modified seeds, was formed late last year amid growing global debate about genetically modified foods.

Seeds that have been genetically modified to grow corn able to resist pests, or soybeans able to withstand some chemical applications, have become a focal point of concern in some parts of the world. Some environmental activists oppose such technology, saying they are afraid of yet untested side-effects which they say could harm humans and plants.

The CBI advertising effort is expected to last 3 to 5 years, initially starting with a 60-second television spot that will be "very low key, but fast paced" said Monsanto's Krotz. Monsanto is just days away from merging with US drug maker Pharmacia & Upjohn.

The coalition's television spot poised to start airing early April will not feature the logos of the specific firms involved in the effort, but will refer viewers to a web site that will list sponsoring companies, Krotz explained.

Responding why the campaign zeroes in on North America first instead of Europe, where the debate on genetically modified organisms has been more vocal, Krotz said it was an issue of timing. The coalition wants to see how the communications campaign develops before taking the effort to Europe.

He declined to specify how much the companies were dishing out for the campaign, conceding only it entails "several million dollars."

The group is seeking associate support from industry groups and others, although biotechnology firms will continue being prime donors to the advertisement campaign, Krotz added.

Although the matter came up during a separate NGFA committee meeting later Wednesday, the organization's leadership has yet to take a position on any kind of alignment with CBI. NGFA leaders, including grain handlers, shippers and others in the grain industry, however, stressed the group supports the genetically modified foods technology. The group's annual convention ends Fri day.

The CBI commercial comes only a few months after GMO products were one of the targeted, hot-button issues of protestors outside the World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings that convened in Seattle late last year.

Among other recent events, American snack-food giant Frito-Lay Inc., manufacturer of popular brands Fritos, Doritos and other chips products, earlier this year told its corn suppliers to stay away from the altered crops. The move came after announcements late last year by Gerber and Heinz that their baby foods will be GMO-free. All three companies, however, note they still believe GMO products are safe for consumers.

With US farmers, meanwhile, the corn and soybean products that provide such traits as built-in insect resistance and the ability to apply weed killers have been popular, accounting for about one-third of last year's corn crop and more than half of last year's soybeans. End

By Bridge News, Tel: (913) 323-8017 Send comments to Internet address:

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 31 Mar 2000 12:02:23 U
From: wytze

I forward this message from the FAO list.

Field Trials of GM crops in the developing world

Biotech-Mod1 wrote:

I agree whole-heartedly with the point of view expressed by Dr. Vijaya Kumar.

A code of ethics must precede serious field studies, and a code of enforcement must be cleary established. "Gene flow," "genetic drift" are only two of many possible undesirable effects of studies in the field. "It's interesting to note that while biotechnology depends for its power on the ability to move genes freely among species and even phyla, its environmental

safety depends on the very opposite phenomenon: on the integrity of species in nature and their rejection of foreign genetic material." As Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin has observed: "[In an ecosystem] you can always intervene and change something in it, but there is no way of knowing what all the downstream effects will be or how it might effect the environment. We have such a miserably poor understanding of how the organism develops from its DNA that I would be surprised if we DON'T get one rude shock after another." [New York Times Magazine, Oct. 25, 1988, p. 49]

The unprecedented challenge for us is that certain environmental mistakes during the trial-and-error phase (the fast-growing herbicide-resistant weed,

cited as an example) may not remain a localized problem.

Jeffrey Reel

[To contribute to this conference, send your message to
For further information on the Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and Agriculture see ]

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 31 Mar 2000 12:08:45 U
From: wytze
Biotech Activists wrote:

Biotech Activists Posted: 03/31/2000 By

Insect Population Control using a Dominant, Repressible Lethal Genetic System

Science Volume 287, Number 5462 Issue of 31 Mar 2000, pp. 2474 - 2476

Dean D. Thomas, 1 Christl A. Donnelly, 2 Roger J. Wood, 3 Luke S. Alphey 1* A major modification to the sterile insect technique is described, in which transgenic insects homozygous for a dominant, repressible, female-specific lethal gene system are used. We demonstrate two methods that give the required genetic characteristics in an otherwise wild-type genetic background.

The first system uses a sex-specific promoter or enhancer to drive the expression of a repressible transcription factor, which in turn controls the expression of a toxic gene product. The second system uses non-sex-specific expression of the repressible transcription factor to regulate a selectively lethal gene product. Both methods work efficiently in Drosophila melanogaster, and we expect these principles to be widely applicable to more economically important organisms.

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

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 31 Mar 2000 16:15:11 U
From: Paul & Katrin Davis

With all the shouting about vitamin A enriched GM rice, it was a relief to read this full page article in a German newspaper today. Mother Nature gives us everything, but no doubt those who think they can improve will rapidly be trying to clone and isolate 'active' ingredients!!! But not for long, I feel. When this paticular newspaper, largest mass circulation (I think???) prints this, it is a sign for me of the slumbering masses waking up.

Dear GM propogators please note : 3 teaspoons of powdered leaves (of the Moringa tree) contain 3 times as much Vit A as a child needs each day.

a magical tree: Moringa

Bild Zeitung 31.3.2000

A very normal tree. But with enough magical properties to solve the problems of the Third World - malnutrition, blindness, bad medical supplies. And 13 types of Moringa oleifera grow exactly where they are needed - in Africa, South America and Asia.

Three teaspoons of powder from its leaves contain more than three times as much vitamin A as a child needs each day. In addition half the protein requirement, 125% Calcium, 71% Iron and 22% vitamin C, all the important minerals and amino acids.

An example of the magical property of the Moringa tree - In Senegal a baby is born prematurly. It weighs less than three pounds and the mother has no milk. Both are given Moringa powder. The baby rapidly recovers and is soon bonny. The mother can soon breast feed.

International aid agencies are sponsoring Moringa projects in Africa, Brasil, India. In India one city is planting trees for the use of the leaves, blossoms, seeds and fruits.

Moringa - a cure for everything? In the villages on the Nile it is used to purify drinking water. In Jamaica it is used to produce blue dye. It is even used to oil machines. It can also be used as fertilizer and animal feed.

Doctors in West Africa use it to treat diabetes. In India it is used to treat high blood pressure. And it protects children from blindness (Vitamin A). It can even be used as a cooking oil and as a sauce.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 31 Mar 2000 21:08:02 U
From: (Judy Kew)
From: Robert Cohen
From: Betty Martini

Monsanto fined $250 Million


MONSANTO fined $250 Million.
FDA sets five year moratorium on genetic engineering:

Green Homes For Sale:
Green Building Pros:

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 1 Apr 2000 13:33:37 U
From: "Jackie Leve"
From: Organic Consumers Association

Worries Rise Over Effect of Antibiotics in Animal Feed

Antibiotics in Animal Feed – Growing Public Health Hazard

By Marc Kaufman, Washington Post Staff Writer Friday , March 17, 2000 ; A01

Antibiotica resistance
Drugs in the Food Chain
Resistant infections
Possible health risks

Antibiotica resistance

A 66-year-old woman was recovering from a heart bypass in a hospital near Detroit when she suddenly developed respiratory failure and a serious infection. Doctors quickly gave her an antibiotic that usually works. Thism time, however, it didn't. The bacteria causing the woman's infection were resistant to the drug.

The woman's doctors immediately turned to a newly approved antibiotic, a powerful one designed specifically to attack the kind of dangerous antibiotic-resistant microbes that had infected her. But her physicians were dismayed to find that drug didn't work either –he bacteria in her body were resistant to it as well. The woman died soon after.

Cases like this around the country have caused rising alarm among infectious disease doctors and public health experts. They are also at the center of an increasingly acrimonious dispute now before the Food and Drug Administration over how antibiotics are used in this country –pecifically, how farmers use them to promote the growth of livestock. Experts have long known that the overuse of antibiotics by doctors and their patients has reduced the ability of those drugs to cure infections. Now there is mounting evidence that the antibiotics widely used on farm animals are also diminishing the power of important antibiotics to help people.

Giving animals antibiotics in their feed can cause microbes in the livestock to become resistant to the drugs. People can then become infected with the resistant bacteria by eating or handling meat contaminated with the pathogens. "Many of us believe there is a tremendous overuse of antibiotics for animals," said Marcus Zervos, an infectious disease specialist at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich., who was involved in the Michigan case. "There is some very strong opposition to our view that animal antibiotics are undermining antibiotics for people, but this whole area has to be reconsidered."

Most of the antibiotics used on the farm are not administered to treat sick animals. Instead, farmers feed livestock a low-level diet of antibiotics to attack bacteria that might require the animal's body to expend energy to kill off. This allows animals to grow more quickly and, from a producer's point of view, more efficiently.

But this practice has increasingly become the focus of concern. Researchers have already found evidence that the use of antibiotics on farms has led to an increase in antibiotic-resistant cases of food poisoning caused by campylobacter and salmonella bacteria in people.

Now, doctors and researchers point to the antibiotic the Michigan woman received –ynercid, an important drug-of-last-resort in fighting life-threatening infections –s a case study illustrating why they are so concerned.

While Synercid was approved for human use only last fall, a closely related drug called Virginiamycin has been used on livestock since 1974. Researchers have found Virginiamycin-resistant bacteria in as much as 50 percent of supermarket chicken, turkey and pork. That alone causes concern that the effectiveness of Synercid is already significantly reduced in humans.

"It's clear that the use of Virginiamycin to promote the growth of food animals is a hazard to human health," said Frederick J. Angulo of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "It's difficult to track the chain of evidence we need to say for certain that the Virginiamycin in animals results in resistance to Synercid in humans. But we do believe the seeds for Synercid-resistant [bacteria] were planted on the farm, and are likely to blossom in hospitals."

Defenders of animal antibiotics say the scientific evidence linking Virginiamycin resistance in animals to Synercid resistance in humans remains inconclusive, and that animal antibiotics in general pose no immediate danger to people. Studies have found Synercid resistance in 1 percent to 4 percent of humans tested, they point out, and that is far below the rate of Virginiamycin resistance found in animals.

"We're not at all convinced, based on the data, that Virginiamycin is the cause of the Synercid resistance, however minimal, in the human population," said Carl Johnson of Pfizer Inc., which developed Virginiamycin and later sold the rights to Synercid to Aventis Pharmaceuticals. "We believe it is coming from hospital use."

Others see a need for immediate action. In Europe, officials have already banned the farm use of Virginiamycin and three other growth-promoting antibiotics, following recommendations from the World Health Organization. Legislation to impose a similar ban in the United States was introduced in Congress last year by Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). And consumer and public health groups petitioned the FDA last year to stop the use of any drugs used as animal growth promoters that are also used to treat diseases in people.


In response, the FDA is trying to fully understand and quantify the risk to humans posed by antibiotic use in animals, and will undertake a formal risk assessment of Synercid and Virginiamycin this spring. "Experts are saying they're seeing resistance to Synercid, and that it must be coming from the animal use of Virginiamycin," said Sharon Thompson of the FDA's Center of Veterinary Medicine. "That is exactly the concern we are looking at. We're collecting information now and there will be a thorough review."

More than a year ago, the FDA proposed new guidelines to limit the spread of antibiotic resistance, and late last year claimed authority to require drug companies to prove any new animal antibiotics won't dangerously increase antibiotic resistance in humans. In the future, FDA officials said, the agency will also review some animal antibiotics already on the market, and will require new testing and new standards for those closely related to vital human antibiotics.

The FDA's actions have left drugmakers and livestock producers worried and angry. They say that animal antibiotics have been safe and very useful for decades, and that farmers need them to keep their animals healthy and growing as fast as they can. Without them, American meat and poultry would not be as safe from disease-causing organisms, and prices would rise as well, they say. And they complain that the FDA has already imposed a "de facto moratorium" on new animal antibiotics while the proposed guidelines are debated.

The FDA "is adding new requirements for resistance information never asked for in the past, and almost impossible to actually gather now," said Richard Carnevale of the Animal Health Institute, which represents pharmaceutical companies that supply farm drugs. "In essence, we can't get products approved because we can't learn what we have to prove," he said. "One company has been working for more than a year on a protocol [to test antibiotic resistance], and the FDA is never satisfied and just tells them to keep tweaking." Carnevale asserted that the FDA slowdown in animal antibiotic approvals has discouraged drug companies from investing in the costly development of new antibiotics for humans, too.

Livestock growers also are fighting efforts to limit antibiotic use. They consider the medications essential to their business, and are rushing as well to protect the FDA from what they consider to be nonscientific influences. "Unlike Europe, we want to make sure decisions are based on science alone here," said Gary M. Weber of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. "At this point, we don't see any evidence of an identifiable problem regarding antibiotic resistance from animal feed. And in the absence of good science showing that, we think it would be a real blunder to ban or limit its use."

The European Union asserts that governments can take action when they believe a health danger is present, even if it cannot be scientifically proven at the time. But the U.S. Trade Representative has opposed the ban –upporting the U.S. industry position that the risks of animal antibiotics have not been scientifically assessed –nd has threatened to take its case to the World Trade Organization.

Researchers agree that many aspects of antibiotic resistance remain unresolved. But they say that more precise methods of studying bacteria on the molecular level have recently allowed them to demonstrate that resistant forms of at least two common bacteria –ampylobacter and salmonella –re being passed from animals to humans. These organisms have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones –hich include the most widely used antibiotic to treat food-borne infections, Ciprofloxacin.

Researchers found that chicken treated with fluoroquinolones were being colonized by campylobacter bacteria resistant to the drug, and that those bacteria were being passed to humans. An FDA-commissioned risk assessment concluded in December that at least 5,000 Americans will suffer longer bouts of campylobacter food poisoning annually because of fluoroquinolone resistance passing from chicken to people. The threat from Synercid-resistant bacteria is potentially greater, because the drug generally is used to control infections when a patient's immune system is already severely compromised –uring organ transplants and chemotherapy, for instance. But the pathway from Virginiamycin resistance in animals to Synercid resistance in humans is more complex than with campylobacter or salmonella.

Virginiamycin in feed produces resistance in bacteria called enterococci, which inhabit the intestines of humans and animals. They generally do not cause disease, and so there is no inherent risk involved with their development of antibiotic resistance. They can, however, become very dangerous if their resistance transfers to other enterococci that inhabit human wounds, catheter infections and other hospital-acquired contagions. Synercid was approved to attack a dangerous form of enterococci resistant to the antibiotic that used to be doctors' last resort, Vancomycin. Researchers believe that animal resistance to Virginiamycin is appearing as Synercid resistance in those now very dangerous enterococci. But the scientific debate over this is fierce, and the newest scientific methods have not conclusively traced Synercid resistance in humans from Virginiamycin resistance in animals.

"The Synercid story is just starting to play out," said J. Glenn Morris of the University of Maryland in Baltimore, a specialist in the field. "We know we have a major problem on our hands in terms of antibiotic resistance in our hospitals. The question about Synercid is whether we'll act to protect it now, or just accept the risk that it and other important antibiotics may become ineffective sooner because of this animal use."

Drugs in the Food Chain

Farm animals treated with low levels of antibiotics are developing drug-resistant forms of bacteria, posing potential health risks in humans.

Resistant infections

Researchers are concerned that animals fed the antibiotic Virginiamycin are passing along antibiotic-resistant forms of enterococci (shown) to humans.

Possible health risks

Food poisoning

Bacteria from farm animals, such as salmonella and campylobacter, have been causing antibiotic-resistant cases of food poisoning in people.

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Jackie 'Flutterby' Things to do today: Exhale, inhale, exhale. Ahhhh

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 1 Apr 2000 17:11:52 U
From: (Judy Kew)

GM crops and deformities

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 08:49:24 +0800
From: Marguerite Wegner
Subject: GM crops and deformities

Hi Bob,

Someone sent me this email that suggests that there is evidence of deformities, possibly caused by GM crops, in North American wildlife on the following webpage:

This seems a really good page. If you are able, can you forward this on to any of the GE lists that may not already have seen this information? Also, let me know what you think of the site.

This person wrote:
"I'm wondering why the American authorities have looked at other possible causes for the outbreak of deformities over the past few years but have apparently not even considered GM crops as a cause.

GM crops were planted in American fields and then a year/two years later there are are deformed amphibians being found in the same regions. Yet American Monsanto and Novartis officials claim there is no evidence of any transgenic problem occurring."

Kind regards,


Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 19:42:49 -0800 (PST)
From: Bob McCroskey
Subject: GM crops and deformities (fwd)

Green Homes For Sale:
Green Building Pros:

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 2 Apr 2000 04:08:25 U
From: Robert Mann

one level of explanation of GE delusions


I am gravely concerned by recent pretences to 'know better than nature' what's best in the way of primary structures of proteins.

Of the 37 amino-acid residues in amylin, a human hormone now being tested on a few thousand diabetic Yanks, 3 were alanine in the real thing but are proline in the noo improved chemically-synthesised commercial version. One in every dozen is a large difference, especially when a 'swivel' residue such as alanine is replaced by proline which imposes a rather rigid corner, a considerable change in the secondary structure. This was done because the modified version showed much less tendency to form fibrils as found in amyloid disorders including Alzheimer's syndrome –in a particular test-tube assay. (I regret to have to report this caper was mounted by two Kiwis, in San Diego. I can assure you, having taught them in med school, that they are very clever.)

Please note that this altered version of amylin is not synthesised by GE but by chemical methods. Not all the dangerous chemicals are GEd! But the theme of "improvements" on primary structures arises in some GE cases, e.g. R Cohen's claim that several aa residues in Monsanto's rBGH are "freak" variants.

A more subtle, and better established, case is the subtle change of reversing the primary structure at just one point in a GE insulin made by Novo Nordisk. Simply reversing the order of two neighbouring aa residues gave some useful properties, so this modified insulin was organised for production. At the last minute before mass sale, test animals were noticed to have developed extra cancers so often as to rule it out from human use.

I propose that these attempts to improve upon nature are an important category within the wider deluded mentality of your typical ectual gene-jockey.

I personally would go further and suggest that this is perhaps the most important level on which GE goes wrong, not merely in slack science but more importantly in a modern reenactment of what went wrong in Genesis 3 – man pretending to know better than God how this world should be.

I realise that in saying this I part company from the modern atheistic majority. But I do wish to argue that this is the most important explanation of what has gone so wrong.

It is evident that the unprecedented role of email in this particular controversy is stimulating the creation of novel modes for communicating science to the people. My type of brief note differs from your typical CumminsGramA: it lacks refs, but is more or less properly spelt. Let a hundred flowers flourish!


Robt Mann consultant ecologist P O Box 28878 Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand (9) 524 2949

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 3 Apr 2000 00:55:59 U

Monsanto'S New Boss Is Bullish

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 2000-04-02

The New Jersey-based executive has championed the new subsidiary of Pharmacia Corp. in the face of hostility to bioengineered food in Europe and a chilly reception on Wall Street.

St. Louis' old Monsanto Co. went out of existence Friday. The new Monsanto will be shaped over the next few months by a chief executive in New Jersey who says he believes in Monsanto's strategy for developing agricultural biotechnology.

That man is Fred Hassan who, beginning Monday, will be chief executive of Pharmacia Corp., Monsanto's new parent company.

In a telephone interview recently, Hassan said that he had been to St. Louis just once during three months of merger preparations but that his priority now is to familiarize himself with Monsanto's agricultural business.

The agricultural company will still be called Monsanto. It will operate as a St. Louis-based subsidiary of Pharmacia. Hassan said that he remains committed to a stock offering of up to 19 percent of the agricultural company but that he has no target date for that offering.

Financial analysts have said an agricultural biotechnology company would face a chilly reception on Wall Street right now, given a slump in world agriculture and the strength of the anti-biotechnology movement in Europe.

Hassan said the stock offering would be an agenda item at the new Pharmacia Corp.'s first board meeting this month but that, "to me, the performance of the (Monsanto) agriculture business is far more important than the ag IPO. . . . We know that it's a very good business, a first-tier business."

During a "road show" to sell the merger to Wall Street, Hassan said, analysts repeatedly encouraged him to distance himself from the farm side of Monsanto.

"We repeatedly said we remain committed to this business," Hassan said. "It's a very exciting area. We believe this whole area has been unfairly beaten down by some very unfortunate events, including the protests in Europe."

Hassan said he even sees advantages to having a large drug company and a leading agricultural company under the same corporate roof.

"I think there are some positive benefits in terms of knowledge transfer," he said. "The pharmaceutical business is much closer to its end customers. When there is a public policy issue, the pharmaceutical companies . . . are pretty well-equipped to deal with the concerns of 100 million households, not just of a few thousand farmers."

Monsanto announced Dec. 19 that it would combine with Hassan's company, Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc., in what both sides called a merger of equals. And the deal was equal in some ways -- shareholders of both companies are getting proportional treatment, with neither side paying a buyout premium to the other, and the top management team will consist of half Monsanto executives, half Pharmacia executives.

But Hassan will clearly be in charge, and Monsanto people here will report to his headquarters in Peapack, N.J. Robert Shapiro, CEO of the old Monsanto, will be chairman of Pharmacia for 18 months and then will retire.

Hassan, Monsanto President Hendrik A. Verfaillie and other executives will help christen the new Pharmacia Corp. on Monday morning in a first-trade ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange. For those who want to check the price on the Internet or watch for trades on CNBC, the ticker symbol is PHA.

Monsanto's old stock ended trading Friday at $51.50, up $1.81 1/ 4, compared with $41.75 before the merger was announced. The old Pharmacia & Upjohn closed at $59.50, down 25 cents, compared with $50.25 before the deal. All the upward movement in both stocks has come in the past two months, after Hassan and other executives hit the road to sell Wall Street on the virtues of the merger.

Most of their sales pitch concentrated on pharmaceuticals. Combining Monsanto's drug business with Pharmacia's creates the 11th- biggest – and fastest-growing – drug company in the world.

One of the first challenges for the new company, Hassan said, will be launching Monsanto's blockbuster arthritis drug, Celebrex, in Europe. Merck & Co.'s competing drug, Vioxx, has a head start there, but Hassan said that the merger will make the Celebrex launch easier.

"The combined strength of our two companies will match up very well with Merck in Europe," he said.

Pharmacia also has other important drug launches coming up. Zyvox, a new antibiotic, is getting a priority review by the Food and Drug Administration, and an FDA advisory committee recently recommended approval of Camptosar, a drug for treating colorectal cancer.

But Hassan promised that the St. Louis-based agricultural business will be at the center of his attention. In the road show, he said, "we made some very important projections. . . . We now have to follow through on what we said."

Among other things, he told analysts that Monsanto's farm business remains profitable and is growing even while rivals struggle, and that the combined company will show annual profit growth of more than 20 percent for the next three years.

Hassan said the deal is "a merger of growth, not a merger of cost- cutting," but he did promise analysts $600 million in cost savings by 2002. Some of that is "cost avoidance," he said, such as the fact that Monsanto won't have to hire a big new sales force to launch Celebrex in Europe.

Hassan declined to say how many jobs would be eliminated, either in St. Louis or in total. He said reductions would be concentrated in overhead and research functions. Such jobs represent the majority of Monsanto's 3,500 workers in St. Louis. But Hassan said he didn't expect steep cuts in agricultural employment because the Monsanto farm business will be a stand-alone subsidiary and will still need a corporate staff.

Fred Hassan's resume


* President and chief executive, Pharmacia Corp., beginning Monday.

* Chief executive, Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc., May 1997 to March 2000. Turned around a drug manufacturer that had been struggling after a merger of U.S. operations, Sandoz Pharmaceuticals Corp., 1972- 89.


* Bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, University of London (Imperial College), 1967.

* Master's in business administration, Harvard University, 1972.

Publication date: 2000-04-02 © 2000, YellowBrix, Inc.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 3 Apr 2000 01:00:32 U

Troubling backlash | Biotech companies worry

The San Diego Union-Tribune, 2000-03-28

BOSTON – A massive protest this week against bioengineered food, the largest such demonstration yet in the United States, has given new urgency to the biotech industry's efforts to make sure a European backlash against the products does not spread to the United States.

A crowd of well more than 1,000 people greeted industry leaders who arrived Sunday for the Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual meeting with chants such as "Mutant food equals mutant people," as dozens of police stood guard to prevent riots like those at last year's World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle.

There was no violence, but organizers of the protest said the success of "Biodevastation 2000" suggests that their movement is gaining momentum, just as European activists who oppose the use of genetic engineering on food have succeeded in virtually eliminating such products from store shelves and restaurant menus there.

"I think we'll get rid of it," said Jonathan Campbell of Cambridge, Mass., a leader of the group Toxic Alert. "This movement will grow to be a mass movement."

Those are troubling words for executives at agricultural biotech companies, including several major players with labs in San Diego, who are investing heavily in research they hope will yield new crops with better nutrition and the ability to prevent or cure diseases.

The industry has taken note. Earlier this year the industry began airing television commercials with the theme, "Biotechnology – a big word that means hope," to promote the benefits of new drugs the industry has produced and alert the public to the potential for bigger things in the future.

Biotech companies also are trying to change the terms of debate. While activists describe biotech food as "genetically modified" and often mock it as "Frankenfood," this week's meeting will feature a session on what organizers are calling "value-added biotech food."

Dan Eramian, a spokesman for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, said he was not convinced that the size of Sunday's protest – which continued yesterday on a much smaller scale – indicated that growing numbers of Americans were turning away from biotech food.

Indeed, while a small number of stores such as Whole Foods have said they will try to avoid biotech foods, a majority of processed foods that Americans eat contains bioengineered ingredients and that has been true for several years. A third of American corn is bioengineered, as are more than half of American soybeans.

"There's some people you could never persuade," Eramian said. "But all the polls I have seen show that once the American people learn about the benefits of the technology, they accept it." Yesterday, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., spoke at the conference, pledging political support to the biotech industry and saying genetic engineering has the ability to dramatically improve people's lives – if it's done right.

"We want to work with you to make sure we are going to have decisions and judgments based on science," Kennedy told the 1,500 chief executives and researchers at the convention. "Too often when decisions are being made, they are based on philosophy or ideology."

There is no evidence of any health risks from bioengineered food, though opponents say it is impossible to say what could happen in the future. Opponents also charge that the use of biotech crops could reduce biodiversity, make farmers dependent on biotech companies and cause unforeseen damage to the ecosystem.

Previous protests against bioengineered food have been small, including a few dozen protesters when the Biotechnology Industry Organization met last year in Seattle and a hundred or so when the Food and Drug Administration held a hearing on the topic last fall in Oakland.

But after the WTO riots, Boston police prepared to deal with confrontations. Mounted officers ringed Copley Square, where the protest started, and a few stood watch on the roof of the adjacent Fairmont Hotel. Police remained in position outside the Hynes Convention Center yesterday and screened convention attendees as they entered the building.

The protesters Sunday, however, were peaceful as they marched down Boylston Street to the convention center and chanted at biotech executives who watched from the building's windows.

Among the protesters who filled the square was a contingent of Midwestern farmers who said they want no part of biotech crops. While many farmers have planted bioengineered seeds in recent years, some are backing away out of fear that European resistance will reduce the market for such crops.

"Farmers have a great deal of concern that if they have genetically modified corn in their bin that it might not be marketable," said Bill Christison, whose family has farmed in northern Missouri since 1869.

At least a few politicians have taken up the issue, with several congressmen calling for additional research on the possible risks of the technology as well as labels on bioengineered items. On the eve of this week's meeting, the Boston City Council also passed a resolution calling for labeling and additional tests.

Though Boston like San Diego is a center of the biotech industry, Councilwoman Maura Hennigan appeared at the protest Sunday and said residents of the neighborhood she represents were worried about the technology. "We just want to make sure our food is safe and that we have appropriate dialogue," Hennigan said.

Publication date: 2000-03-28 © 2000, YellowBrix, Inc.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 3 Apr 2000 13:42:26 +0100
From: Paul & Katrin Davis

Cloning: Britain leads again!!!!

Last week the leader of the Welsh Assembly (a Tony Blair clone) ignored the advice of her own committee and gave the green light for GM seed approval.

This week the UK Govt will take the opposite course and take the advice of another committee and allow the cloning of human embryos. Amongst the reasons .. the panel is concerned that Britain will be left behind in the scientific race if the ban remains!!! Also the panel was full of 'experts' - don't you just love these scientists..

And now Ministers want to launch a public debate to try to persuade people that cloning embryos for research is not the same as creating a carbon copy of a human being. Well done Britain....!!!!


Ban on human spare parts cloning research to be lifted

By Rachel Sylvester, Monday 3 April 2000, UK Daily Telegraph

THE cloning of human embryos for medical research, which could allow scientists to create spare parts for the body, is expected to be approved by the Government after an inquiry concluded that the potential benefits outweighed the ethical problems.

A panel of experts led by Dr Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer, has agreed to recommend changes to the law to allow the use of cloned embryos to create tissue to treat the sick. Whitehall sources say that ministers are almost certain to end the ban on the "therapeutic cloning" of embryos for research that could eventually cure kidney, liver or heart disease.

Ministers want to launch a public debate to try to persuade people that cloning embryos for research is not the same as creating a carbon copy of a human being. They want to emphasise the difference between the cloning used to create Dolly the sheep and using embryos for tissue engineering. The move will infuriate pro-life campaigners and reignite debate on how far scientists should interfere with nature.

The Roman Catholic Church insists that "harvesting an embryo" can never be acceptable. The Government is already facing a public backlash over trials of genetically modified crops and the use of genetic information by insurance companies. The inquiry has concluded that the potential benefits are so great that it would be foolish to outlaw research at this stage. Scientists believe that they could treat a wide range of diseases if they are allowed to develop the technique.

They would create an embryo clone of a sick person and extract cells genetically identical to the patient's for use in treatment. The aim is to use the cells to grow parts of the body that could be used to replace damaged organs, such as the bone marrow of a child with leukaemia or heart tissue damaged in a heart attack. The panel, which is putting the finishing touches toits recommendations, is concerned that Britain will be left behind in the scientific race if the ban remains.

One member said that maintaining the ban because of public concern about scientific developments would be "throwing the baby out with the bath water". The source added: "The potential is enormous. This could allow us to regrowa heart muscle or bone marrow and that is not a threat to humanity. It is too early to say whether it will work, but if the research is illegal we will never know."

The report, expected to be published next month, will lay down strict rules, specifying the circumstances in which human embryos can be cloned. Sources close to the panel said there was an overwhelming case for using human embryos that were going to be destroyed in any case - for example, extra embryos created for in vitro fertilisation - - if research could save human life.

An insider said: "There will be strict rules. We would not want people to do this sort of work for trivial purposes."

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 3 Apr 2000 14:49:53 +0100

More protests against genetically modified food

WebPosted Sun Apr 2 11:03:39 2000 ET

TORONTO - Demonstrators in several Canadian cities donned funny costumes Saturday to protest against a trend they say is anything but laughable: genetically modified food.

In Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver they marched in front of grocery stores chanting about the dangers of what they call "Frankenstein food."

They also passed out leaflets listing products that may contain genetically modified ingredients. It's part of a one-week campaign around the world called "resistance is fertile."

In what's becoming a tradition at such protests, some people were dressed as mutated fish, fruit, or vegetables to try to get people's attention.

There was also a freakish tiger with a sign that said "They're Grross," mocking a popular breakfast company's cartoon character who boasts about its cereal being "grrrreat."

A few demonstrators went inside at least one supermarket and slapped labels on cereal boxes and other food, warning people not to eat them.

They demanded the government force companies to indicate which products contain genetically modified ingredients.

"I want to know what it is before I give it to my kids," said one man.

The Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors maintains that labelling is not realistic right now.

But a new poll commissioned by opponents of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) suggests more than nine out of 10 Canadians want mandatory labelling.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 3 Apr 2000 14:49:53 +0100

Survey says Canadians worry about GM foods

In the poll, conducted by Environics for the Council of Canadians, 75 per cent of the people surveyed also worry about the safety of GMOs.

On Saturday, Greenpeace called on consumers to boycott companies that use genetically altered food in their breakfast cereals.

"It's irresponsible, and it should stop," said Peter Tabuns, the organization's executive director in Canada.

Some people think the protesters are going too far by making blanket statements about all genetically modified food.

Prof. Eduardo Blumwald, who teaches botany at the University of Toronto, says he has engineered a tomato plant that can survive in extremely salty soil.

"This plant, or other plants like that, are going to feed a lot of people who today cannot grow anything" in harsh climates around the world, he argues.

Blumwald says it will be years before anyone eats his tomatoes because the modified plant must undergo rigorous testing before being declared safe.

But critics say we can never be certain of the health risks of molecular changes being made to our basic food supply. They want all genetically modified products pulled from store shelves.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 4 Apr 2000 00:31:08 +0100
From: jill davies

Washington Post on the A16 Mobilization

By David Montgomery and Arthur Santana
Washington Post Staff Writers, Sunday , April 2, 2000 ; A01

D.C. Gets Ready for World Bank, IMF Meetings

The last time opponents of global capitalism confronted the ranks of domestic law enforcement - in Seattle, Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 - the results were clouds of tear gas, volleys of rubber bullets and the makings of a mass protest movement whose energy and appeal have surprised even some of its organizers.

Round 2 is scheduled for April 16 and 17 in Washington, but protesters will begin arriving from across the country Saturday. Both sides are immersed in preparations. The region is about to take a ringside seat for a turn-of-the-century spectacle: Arcane economic institutions now spark as much outrage in some people as the Vietnam War, civil rights and nuclear weapons did during the storied demonstrations of yore.

The protesters – activists of all ages concerned about an array of issues from the environment to worker rights – are drilling in nonviolence and street blockades. They plan a communal kitchen to feed thousands, medical clinics to care for anyone who is injured and bicycle couriers to ferry food, supplies and intelligence. They are also scouting the streets, making maps and trying to figure out what the police are up to.

Law enforcement agencies also are busy. Some were in Seattle to observe the demonstrations and have been gathering intelligence since. Now, 60 D.C. police officers a day take a course at a Lorton training center to build a force of 1,500 for the demonstrations. They are watching videos of how Seattle police lost control, and practicing scenarios such as how to handle 5,000 protesters trying to block Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Hundreds of officers from local and federal agencies also will be standing by.

"We anticipate this to be very peaceful," said Executive Assistant Chief Terrance W. Gainer. "We think we can manage this so the protesters can strut their stuff, pound their chests and we can also keep a city running." For Gainer and Chief Charles H. Ramsey, the stakes are high. The Seattle police chief and his deputy, under bitter criticism for their operations, have decided to retire.

The protesters' target in Seattle was a summit of the World Trade Organization, which was disrupted by more than 30,000 demonstrators. In Washington, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are being cast as the villains. Their meetings April 16 and 17 are routine, but protest organizers decided to use them to sustain the Seattle momentum. They launched a plan to block delegates from entering the buildings.

How have these institutions become so notorious? Their opponents charge that loan policies of the bank and the fund impose harsh conditions on poor countries and favor Western creditors and U.S. corporations. The allure of the movement also lies in connections protesters draw to many other concerns. In their view, a pipeline through the rain forest in Chad, sweatshops in Singapore, the high price of AIDS drugs in Kenya, flat wages in Washington and the ubiquity of Starbucks and the Gap are facets of the same problem.

"This mobilization is part of a much larger movement globally that is raising a question: Who governs? Is it money, or is it people?" said Kevin Danaher, a San Francisco-based organizer of the D.C. campaign. It's a battle cry that resonates with people such as 16-year-old Sam Junge, hanging protest posters at Wilson High School in the District. "This struggle seems more like good versus evil than any other struggle I know," he said. "I could have easily been born some other kid in some other part of the world and be suffering and starving because these corporations want to have a pile of money."

And the struggle attracted Peter Kent, 50, a retired federal worker from Silver Spring, who was in Seattle and will rally April 16 – his first big demonstration since the Vietnam War. "In terms of the environmental crisis and the whole growth in the power of big corporations, we're moving down the wrong road," he said.

Police and protesters say they hope to avoid tear gas and a trashed downtown, the way Seattle fell victim to a small faction of vandals and looters among the more peaceful demonstrators. The protesters pledge nonviolence and no vandalism, but they acknowledge that they can't control everyone, and they refuse to condemn vandalism outright. "We're saying, 'You're not welcome at our demonstration if that's the tactic you choose,' " said Nadine Bloch, a local organizer of the Mobilization for Global Justice, as the campaign is called. "I'm not saying whether it's right or wrong." In Web site postings, self-styled "autonomists" and "anarchists" assert the right to use unspecified tactics of their own choosing.

Gainer said one of his concerns is small factions of violent protesters running amok. Fanned in part by police preparations and media fascination, the possibility of violence has raised alarm in the region. "The thing I'm concerned with is what happened out there in Seattle," said Fred Barnes, business manager of the local Iron Workers Union. "Here's an excellent chance for a troublemaker who doesn't even know what global fairness is, who is just down there for a riot." Citing safety concerns, the March of Dimes canceled its WalkAmerica fund-raiser scheduled for April 15 downtown.

The "tens of thousands" predicted by organizers to participate in the protest are to begin arriving Saturday for a week of teach-ins and rallies. They will join a strikingly organized community of radicals, ruled by consensus and lacking charismatic leaders. As in Seattle, interlocking committees with rotating spokesmen make key decisions. There are guidelines for everything, from facing down the police to avoiding gender stereotypes in committee debates. "You could call the guidelines ground rules, but that sounds too authoritarian," said Elliott Caldwell, facilitating a meeting on how to facilitate meetings.

Some go so far as to call it a new kind of revolution – prizing both radical democracy and conservative accounting. Another guideline: The budget ($105,000, so far) shall be balanced. "You had the last century, we get this one," said Matthew Smucker, 22, a local organizer and rain forest advocate. "It's a structure where instead of preplanning a demonstration and advertising for bodies to come join it, we are putting out a call for minds to participate in creating an event."

Yet the revolution is struggling to live up to its ideal of diversity. Nearly all participants in planning meetings are white. Most live in the District. They are aware they are inviting thousands of visitors to break the laws of the predominantly African American city. So they are trying to organize in black and Latino neighborhoods. "It's always a struggle to make bridges of this type, particularly when the issue appears to be a little removed from your daily life," said the Rev. Graylan Ellis-Hagler, pastor of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, a protest supporter who is black.

In their quest to turn out crowds April 16 and 17, the organizers may get a boost from unions and religious groups coming to Washington for other rallies April 9 and 12 to cancel Third World debt and to block trade relations with China. To extend the appeal to those who want to avoid civil disobedience and arrest, they have arranged a separate "permitted" rally – with approval from the National Park Service – for April 16 on the Ellipse. Michael Moore, the satirical corporate critic, will be the master of ceremonies. This overture to the mainstream may be succeeding. After hesitating for weeks, the AFL-CIO just endorsed the permitted rally.

The protesters are promising plenty of street theater, music, prayer and giant allegorical puppets. The police are promising arrests if they block traffic. "It's not just a party in the streets, although it's going to be that," said Robert Weissman, an organizer with Washington-based Essential Action. "It's a real chance to change the world."

D.C. police, supported by federal and local law enforcement agencies, plan to ensure that the world doesn't change too dramatically on the streets of Washington. One recent Thursday morning at the Lorton training facility, police officers and some U.S. Secret Service agents assembled for classroom training and field drills. The officers wore old riot helmets and carried batons while they practiced marching in formation. "If [protesters] exercise peaceful demonstrations in areas that don't block vehicle or pedestrian traffic, then everything's fine," Gainer said. "But if they block thoroughfares that are critical to keeping the city moving, then we are prepared to . . . make arrests if they fail to move."

Failing to move is what protesters were practicing the night before the police training. It was a clinic on nonviolence in a renovated factory building on Florida Avenue NW. After a couple of hours talking about nonviolence, 16 protesters acted out a scenario in which they blocked the entrance to a Metro station. They played all the roles – police, blockaders, reporters, bystanders. Such a scene may or may not be part of the real demonstrations. The point was to try to empathize with all the characters they'll meet on the big day. One by one, the "police" were able to carry away the blockaders, except for bike courier Luke Kuhn, who explained his technique: "I think I came up with something new, namely, locking down directly to an officer's leg." Across the city, in nooks and crannies donated by Greenpeace and other nonprofit organizations, such preparations are underway. Newcomers are taught the "consensus process," a kinder, gentler Robert's Rules of Order.

On Saturday, mobilization headquarters are to open in an alley warehouse off Florida Avenue, where thousands of protesters are expected to check in. Training will run from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Members of the Ruckus Society from Berkeley, Calif., and the Direct Action Network from Seattle will teach civil disobedience skills, including something called "Climbing for Activists."

The activists will not set details of their strategy until next week, so that supporters from out of town can participate in the planning. Early on the morning of the 16th, they will gather not far from the World Bank and the IMF. Secret Service agents will have jurisdiction inside and just outside the buildings, because both locations have been declared temporary diplomatic missions for the protests.

While everyone is talking nice, everyone is dressing for trouble. D.C. police purchased $1,million worth of riot gear for the event, including helmets with neck protectors and arm, chest and shin guards. In addition to service weapons, officers will carry gas masks, and some will bear arms that shoot rubber bullets or can deliver tear gas. No one may deploy tear gas without orders from Ramsey or Gainer, who will roam the area.

Protesters have vowed to carry no weapons. On the advice of their medical team, they will bring bandannas soaked in vinegar for tear gas, shatterproof goggles for rubber bullets, and a change of clothes in case the first set is contaminated with gas or pepper spray. "Do not wear contact lenses!" warned an e-mail sent to the protesters' listserv. "Trapped chemicals may cause eye damage."

Last year, as every year, a demonstration was called during the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington. Twenty-five people showed up. "Something has changed," said Njoki Njoroge Njehu, director of the Washington-based 50 Years Is Enough Network, a leading critic of the World Bank and IMF. "We may fancy ourselves good organizers, but I don't think we could have planned for this." Global justice is now fashionable. At universities, classes on globalization are oversubscribed.

Having served in the battle for Seattle can be a mark of status. One activist in Washington shows off a souvenir rubber bullet. At meetings, everyone hushes while those who were there tell war stories. But it's not a passing fad, organizers insist. Njehu says that a decade of grass-roots educating, including the failed campaign against the North American Free Trade Agreement in the early 1990s, led to this moment in history.

Every meeting of the revolution ends with a different closing ceremony. One Sunday afternoon, a couple dozen tired and wired people took turns offering a few words to sum up their expectations for D-Day, April 16.

This time, there was no consensus. "Logistical nightmare." "Happiness." "Rockin'." "Jail time." "Empowerment." "Peaceful anarchy."

Top PreviousFront Page

Date: 4 Apr 2000 00:31:08 +0100
From: jill davies

Loan Practices Of World Bank, IMF Targeted

By David Montgomery, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday , April 2, 2000 ; A14

Posted in large letters inside the vast glass lobby of the World Bank building is the motto, "Our dream is a world free of poverty." Across 19th Street NW is the beige building where the International Monetary Fund pursues its mission to promote a stable world economy and to aid countries suffering economic crises.

Both institutions were founded near the end of World War II to help build a better world, and their directors point to records of loans, construction projects and technical assistance that they say have helped millions in developing countries.

The bank has traditionally funded huge projects, such as dams and steel mills. It has provided loans for such purposes as teaching new farming techniques and is experimenting with aid to community groups instead of only backing government initiatives. It is directed by governors from 181 member countries.

The IMF has 182 member countries that contribute money to the pool. Only members can qualify for loans, which are intended to help correct balance-of-payment problems. Countries that contribute the most, such as the United States, have the most influence over decisions. For many countries, the IMF is the lender of last resort, after they have been refused credit elsewhere.

So why all the outrage? Some complain that too many development projects funded by the bank have hurt the environment. They say loans from the bank and the IMF come with conditions that force countries to cut social spending or to open themselves to Western corporations, destroying local industries.

Some protesters want the bank and fund radically changed so that residents in developing countries have greater say in the world economy. Others want poor countries' debt canceled.

Leaders of the bank and the IMF concede that not all their policies have been successful and say they have instituted reforms, including debt relief. An IMF spokeswoman pointed out that membership is voluntary, and she said the fund does not interfere with sovereign decisions over local economies.

Bank and fund officials say they are willing to discuss differences with their critics but warn that blocking the April meetings is against the best interests of the world's poor. For example, a key item on the World Bank's agenda April 17 is a discussion of the HIV crisis. How ironic that some protesters, who favor greater access to AIDS drugs, would try to stop that, said bank spokeswoman Caroline Anstey.

"We hope we can debate around tables rather than in the streets," she said. "The problem with street democracy is that it isn't always very democratic. There are a whole lot of voices, most importantly the voices of the 1.2 billion [people in the world] who live on less than a dollar a day whom the bank is there to serve and who may not be represented in the streets."


~~~~~ Jill Davies ~~~ River Care ~~~~
To study the Way is to study the self.
To study the self is to forget the self
and to be enlightened by all things.