5 April 2000 – South African edition

Table of Contents

Terminator and Traitor Technologies Target Global Seed and Food Supply
Commodifying Human Experience: An Interview with Jeremy Rifkin
Ontario Farmers Slash their Use of Insecticides
GE Soy Contaminates Organic Food
Southern Africa After the Year 2000 Floods: Seed-initiative
Reportback from Biodevastation 2000
South Africa: Please comment on Marie Claire GE article NOW
Concerns Regarding The Use Of Biotech In Developing Countries
"Glyphosate (Round-Up) a Few Useful References"

Top NextFront Page
Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2000 17:21:11 +0200
From: "ekogaia" BIOWATCH: Traitor Technology

Here is a longish post about Traitor Technology. If you dont know about this development please read on.

All the best


Copyright 2000 by Geri Guidetti
All Rights Reserved This Update may be reposted or reprinted intact and unedited only, including contacts.

Terminator and Traitor Technologies Target Global Seed and Food Supply

Part II: Traitor Technology

Food is Power
Meet the Traitors
The Bigger Picture Raises Many Questions

Food is Power

Nature can be cruel sometimes. With broad geographic brushstrokes, floods, severe droughts, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions can wipe out the food and drinkable water supplies for communities or whole regions in hours, even minutes. Within days and weeks following a disaster, competition for whatever resources remain can be fierce, even deadly. The formerly complex rules of community life are quickly simplified to one: Food is Power. Whoever has it, survives. Whoever controls it has virtually complete power over those who don't.

Throughout human history, man has learned to manipulate that simple, natural truth to starve out pockets of ideological resistance, to gain control of strategic ports, or to turn whole populations into serfs for a handful of powerful masters. Last week I discussed efforts and patents by our own U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and an ever-smaller handful of global gene giants to create and commercialize genetic seed technologies designed to render food and fiber seeds sterile. The seed embryos are genetically programmed to commit suicide.

These first generation Terminator technologies are designed to prevent farmers from raising and saving their own seed for future crops. Please note, from my original, June 1998 Terminator article, that the USDA clearly expects to profit monetarily from this patent. Dependence for food seed on a handful of powerful global giants and a U.S. agency ensures profits, but strips farmers and, eventually the people they feed, of food security and freedom.

Yet, the now 30-plus Terminator-type technology patents are apparently not enough profit insurance for these powerful multinational seed and agrochemical companies or, for that matter, for the USDA. It has now been learned that two more seed sterilization patents were issued to the USDA and development partner, Delta & Pine Land. Patent No. 5,925,808 was issued on July 20, 1999 and patent No. 5,977,441 on November 2, 1999. According to RAFI Executive Director, Pat Mooney

"The U.S. 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. It's an egregious misallocation of public resources for the sole purpose of maximizing seed industry profits."

RAFI Programme Officer, Silvia Ribeiro, commented: "Despite mounting opposition from national governments, United Nations' agencies, farmers, scientists, and civil society organizations around the world, USDA continues to ignore the public outcry at home (Maryland just introduced a bill to ban the Terminator this month G.G. and abroad."

Meet the Traitors

If you think it is difficult to imagine a more ruthless technology than the Terminator, meet the Traitors, a collection of (so far) 29 patents that introduce genetic traits to food plants that make those plants dependent on the external application of a corporation's proprietary chemicals to bring in a crop. What a perfect business plan! Sell them the seed, and then you get to sell them all of your own chemicals, too! If they don't buy and apply the chemicals, they don't eat! Here is a look at some of the Traitors:

AstraZeneca's (Seed and chemical giant, Novartis, has patents that also create chemically dependent plants, but with a different, perhaps more sinister twist. They target plants' innate, natural pest and disease resistance genes, eleven of them, and then genetically modify them so they can be turned on or off externally.) Verminator II patent, WO 9735983 (The Verminator got its name because a rat gene was used to create specific genetic controls in the plant): Plants' genes are modified to create chemical junkies. Plants will need continuing exposure to specific chemicals to germinate and grow. Killer genes will direct the seed or plant to commit suicide unless the killer compound, barnase, is inactivated by another pair of genes turned on by the company's chemical(s). The junkies must have their chemical fix or they die. The fix is only temporary, and it is inherited. Seed saved from these plants are also junkies. No chemicals, no food. The company says the technology can be used in all plants, especially in wheat, barley, rice, maize (corn), apples, peaches, pears, carrots, cabbage, onions, lettuce, melons, bananas, strawberries, tomatoes, tobacco, sunflowers, canola and sugar beets. They said they will seek patent approval in 77 countries.

"...Novartis explicitly claims the introduction of traitor traits by the deactivation of essential, natural resistance functions of plants. By linking this deactivation to inducible promoters, patented plants can be sold that will not exhibit natural positive traits like germination and pest resistance unless exposed to a chemical. Novartis blandly calls it 'inactivation of endogenous regulation.' According to the company, the technique results in plants in which 'genes which are natively regulated can be regulated exclusively by the application to the plant of a chemical regulator.' In other words, the plants are effectively drug addicted." (See reference #1 at end of article.)

Traits that Novartis proposes for chemical control are germination, insect resistance, herbicide resistance, flowering, nutritional qualities and flavor. Will innate, natural flavor and nutrition be disabled unless the plants are continuously dressed with proprietary chemicals?

Novartis's patents are also designed for most vegetables, some grains, clover, alfalfa, tobacco and cotton. Note that pasture and hay crops are now also targets for the creation of chemical dependencies in plants. So far, patents for this family of technologies have been issued in Australia, Poland, Portugal, the USA. Patents are pending in Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Israel, Norway, New Zealand, South Africa and many others. A total of 76 countries are targeted.

The Bigger Picture Raises Many Questions

Terminator technologies were designed to ensure that farmers must come back, year in and year out to the company to buy seed, but growing seed is a huge task for these companies, a task fraught with all kinds of weather, transportation and handling challenges. Why bother? What if they could get you, the farmer, to grow your own seed for future crops but still have to pay them for it every year? What if they had a way to hook you permanently to their pipeline of chemicals? This is now possible with Traitor technologies.

The combined technologies will unwittingly ensnare many farmers, especially those highly targeted but not as well informed, in Second and Third World countries, in a tangled web of chemical purchases, spray schedules and licensing fees. U.S. farmers are already reeling from the high cost of hybrid, genetically engineered seed and chemical inputs. In bad weather years when there is little or no harvest, they teeter on the brink of bankruptcy. Many are already bankrupt and have been forced to sell out to corporate, factory farms. These technologies will drive the nails in the coffin of the family farmer.

There are many uglier, potentially more dangerous sides to this seed issue that few are talking about yet. Every gene creates a protein. Many of the genes inserted into plant genomes to create Traitor and Terminator technologies create proteins that have simply never been tested as food in humans! No one can say that they are safe for human consumption! Most human allergens are proteins. If a protein is recognized by a person's immune system as "foreign", the body launches an attack which many of us recognize as allergies.

Some of the most severe attacks are life threatening anaphylaxis and asthma. How will we know which food or food component in our complex diets of fast and processed foods caused the illness or death of a child? What if severe reactions and deaths take months or years to occur as our bodies build up levels of novel metabolic byproducts of these chemicals that we are unable to excrete? Will we merely say that serious allergies and allergic asthma are sadly becoming more common? A sign of the times?

What about the potential carcinogenicity of grains, fruits and vegetables that have now been bathed throughout their entire growth cycles with a vast array of herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics and even fertilizers, the gene/agrochemical giants' "saviors" that will remove the artificial locks they have placed on natural, God-given germination, disease resistance, nutrition and flavor? What about the effects of all of these novel proteins and chemicals on the farm animals who will eat the engineered clover and alfalfa that are bathed in proprietary chemicals? What about the run-off from these pastures and farms, run-off that ends up in our already highly contaminated creeks, rivers and drinking water. Given our own USDA is the co-originator and has been granted a profitable patent on at least three of these technologies, my guess is these will be commercialized without doing a single study on potential health and environmental effects.

One last big unknown: many biologists have come forward worldwide to say that there is a clear danger of pollen from these plants infecting related species in neighboring fields. If you refuse to grow their seed, a percentage of the pollen will get your plants anyway. If it's a Terminator, your seed will be terminated for next year. If it's a Traitor, perhaps it will be disabled, made suddenly disease susceptible, and languish or die. We will not know how high the frequency of this genetic drift is until it happens. This has already happened using other technologies.

Here's another thought speculation that we should consider. What if the pollens of natural, open-pollinated, non-hybrid seeds are portrayed to government bodies, in corporate PR and in legal complaints as "contaminants" of a corporation's "better", genetically engineered seed? What if they are able to convince governments that native crops grown by local farmers now threaten the patented, proprietary genes growing in Traitor and Terminator fields ? Who do you think will win such legal and legislative battles? The little guy with patches on his jeans or the multinational with the deep pockets in his? Will our natural heritage our wealth, our only real food security, our non-hybrid seeds be taken away from us? Will smaller seed companies be told they can no longer grow and sell it? The latter is probably moot. Most small seed companies have now been bought out by the big ones. Consolidation continues. It will be very easy to engineer the disappearance of the rest of our natural seed heritage from the catalogs and stores.

This is madness! It deserves your questions, your study, your opinions. Here are some addresses and resources you might find useful:

RAFI, the organization that is taking the international lead on this issue: is an outstanding resource. Emails and phone numbers here, too. Or , by mail: RAFI International Office, 110 Osborne Street, Suite 202, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3L 1Y5 Canada

Secretary Dan Glickman, USDA, 200-A Whitten Bldg., 1400 Independence Ave.,SW, Washington, DC 20250 Email: Tel: 202-720-3631 Fax: 202-720-2166

The Ark Institute, PO Box 142, Oxford, OH 45056. ***The Ark Institute will provide free non-hybrid, open pollinated vegetable and grain seed to individual and community growers as part of our preservation work. Please contact us by email at or at the address, above. Put "Free Seed" on the subject line or at the top of the envelope and we will contact you with details.

Thank you.......Geri Guidetti, The Ark Institute

Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 11:08:15 GMT + 2:00
From: "Dr David Fig" Biowatch

Jeremy Rifkin believes one day soon you will wake up and find that your entire life has become a paid-for experience. Sound frightening? It should, Rifkin explains in a thought-provoking interview.

Commodifying Human Experience: An Interview with Jeremy Rifkin

By Tamara Straus, AlterNet

Jeremy Rifkin believes one day soon you will wake up and find that virtually every activity outside your immediate family has become a paid-for experience. Almost everywhere you turn, almost anything you do will be based on an arrangement that involves forking over cash: think cable subscriptions, fitness club memberships, monthly installments on a leased car. On this near-dawning day, your life, in effect, will have become someone else's mini-mart, a storehouse of commercial relationships with companies that base their worth not on what they produce but on how much of your time they own.

Sound frightening? Well, it should, according to Rifkin, a fellow at the Wharton School Executive Education Program and the author of such dystopian polemics as "The Biotech Century" and "The End of Work." In his latest book, "The Age of Access" (Tarcher/Putnam), Rifkin charts the development of what he calls "the new culture of hypercapitalism," in which owning material goods becomes secondary to paying for access to them – and a customer's "lifetime value" becomes the ultimate market commodity.

Rifkin is an economist by trade. He lectures to CEOs about the social ramifications of their business practices and runs a nonprofit in Washington, D.C. called the Foundation on Economic Trends. His foundation, among other things, is currently suing Monsanto for not adequately testing their agricultural products.

But what Rifkin really is – when he puts fingers to keyboard – is a social science polyglot. His new book is a distillation of current thought on psychology, cultural anthropology, economics and philosophy. It is, in many ways, a popularization of the ever-elusive theory of postmodernism. Rifkin uses such favorite pomo terms as immateriality and decenteredness to describe how cyber networks, electronic commerce and lifestyle marketing are resulting in a final, nightmarish stage of capitalism. In this last stage, the commercial sphere wallops the cultural one, and homo erectus is reborn a time-stressed consumer whose most powerful tool is his credit card.

There is not much new in this quasi-Marxist approach to 21st-century socioeconomics. Yet unlike the postmodern treatises of Frederic Jameson and Jean-Francois Lyotard (both of whom are literary philosophers with a penchant for apocalyptic vitriol), Rifkin's book is a mostly sober analysis of how capitalism is restructuring itself, backed up by close observation of the business world and hard statistical evidence.

Whereas Jameson writes without great substantiation about "the great global multinational and decentred communicational network," and Lyotard poetically bemoans the "disappearance of the Idea that rationality and freedom are progressing," Rifkin writes plainly and backs up his postmodernist arguments with economic data. In "The Age of Access," we learn, for example, that the average American visits a mall every 10 days for approximately an hour and 15 minutes; that the service industry now accounts for more than 77 percent of employment of the U.S. workforce; and that a typical U.S. citizen is bombarded by more than 3,500 advertising messages a day, thanks in part to U.S. television networks which now broadcast 6,000 commercials per week.

"What I was trying to do with this book is wade through all this postmodernist stuff and take what I thought was real and eliminate what I thought was bull, and get down to how this relates to economics," says Rifkin. "What people don't understand is that we are entering a totally different form of capitalism."

Rifkin's main point is that the new era we are entering is as different from market capitalism as market capitalism was from mercantilism. Power is no longer based on property but on access to services. Business is no longer determined by place but by the decentered nature of cyberspace. Markets, the mainstay of industrial capitalism, are giving way to what Rifkin calls networks.

"In a market, you have a seller and a buyer and you exchange property, which is the way we've defined capitalism since Adam Smith," says Rifkin. "In networks, there aren't any sellers and buyers. There's no exchange of property. There are servers and clients, suppliers and users and 'just-in-time' access to what you need, but the property never alienates. In other words, it stays in the hands of the suppliers and they lease it."

Rifkin hopes not only to influence social and cultural critics with his book. He also has spent the last six months introducing business leaders around the world to his Age of Access theories because, as he puts it, "they haven't really thought about what they're doing."

"One of the things that really hit me while writing," he says, "is it's all been just about the hardware and software until now. Bill Gates and Alvin Toffler and my friend John Nesbitt – none of them have a social vision that's powerful enough to share these fruits in a way that's a leap forward for humanity. It's all about cell phones and e-mail."

For Rifkin, what corporate leaders are failing to understand is that cultural capitalism, as he calls it, is threatening the very foundation of modern life. Rifkin points out that historically culture has always preceded commerce, yet now we are in a situation where commerce has become the primary institution – and culture, coopted and commercialized, is derivative. This, he believes, is leading to a breakdown in social trust that could have dire consequences for the very idea of freedom and the workings of a healthy civil society.

"Unfortunately, the market has become the defining presence in our lives," says Rifkin, "and it is decontructing that whole civil and cultural sector. The AOL-Time Warners, the Bertelsmanns and the Sonys, what they're really selling is the cultural diversity of thousands of years of human life -- everything from travel and tourism to destination entertainment centers."

Opponents of Rifkin's book will probably say that he is a technophobe and a neo-Luddite whose economic theories are skewed from spending too much time reading about postmodernism and fulminating about the Internet. To some degree, his main argument – that people's very life experience is being commodified – seems an impossibility for those of us who know the difference between Disneyland and a walk in the park. Yet his historical analysis of economics is ultimately persuasive, for in the new economy access to consumers, whether it be an Internet magazine or a car company, is becoming more important to a company's bottom line than selling actual products. Branding and marketing are key to the success of a business – as is customer loyalty. The AOL-Time Warner deal, which took place while Rifkin's book was at the printer, is item number one in defense of his arguments.

Moreover, no one can accuse Rifkin of jumping to conclusions or not doing his homework. "The Age of Access" took him six years to write. It is a based on 350 books and 1,000 articles, assembled from 50,000 index cards and 2,000 pages of notes. It is, above all, the most accessible summary to date on how corporate capitalism – gone global and now virtual – is affecting business, society and individual identity.

Yet there are dubious arguments in his book. One of the weaker sections follows too close on the heals of postmodern philosophers in describing what Rifkin calls the "protean persona." In his view, men and women in the Age of Access do not define themselves in terms of having a good character or strong personality as their grandparents did, but in terms of being "creative performers" who "move comfortably between scripts and sets as they act out the many dramas that make up the cultural marketplace." This postmodern person is constantly on the hunt for new experiences in the form of paid-for performances, entertainment and fantasies. He is even, as a result, beginning to exhibit multiple personalities, particularly in cyberspace, where donning and discarding identities can be accomplished in a blink of an e-mail.

Like Jameson and his postmodernist-in-arms, Jean Baudrillard, Rifkin seems to believe that 21st-century man will emerge functionally schizoid as in a sci-fi novel. As opposed to his forefathers, who sought to be autonomous and self-sufficient, this new person will be dependent on others – via telecommunications – to confirm the various parts of his fragmented identity. This argument smells strongly of an intellectual's rush to connect up the dots. I wonder whether Rifkin is really serious when he writes that this new person, a networking junkie, will live by the belief that "I am connected therefore I exist."

Rifkin realizes he may be somewhat out of bounds in describing the psychological consciousness of the dot-com generation. "The jury is out," he says. "You can also make the case that kids are multi-tasking, their parallel processing, they're more connected with the rest of this planet." In the end, he says his main concern is that young people be aware that their "postmodern play" is taking place in a commodified cultural marketplace.

One might ask at this point: Whither progress in Jeremy Rifkin's brave new world of hypercapitalism? Are there no upsides to the Age of Access? Are we doomed to fulfill the postmodernists' screeds of 20 years ago, to live a life of short-lived connections, virtual realities and commodified experiences?

According to Rifkin, the way out of the hypercapitalist conundrum is through social movements, such as the campaigns for biodiversity and cultural diversity, that underscore the local and the cultural. "If we lose the sense of place, the sense of being, if you will, we may lose our sense of responsibility to intimate relations," says Rifkin. "The contrarian rallying cry of our time should be 'Geography counts, culture matters!'"

Rifkin is hopeful that those cries will grow louder. "I think Seattle was the beginning of a powerful coming together of movements that can provide an antidote to the forces of global cultural production," he says. "Suddenly we had the biodiversity groups coming together with the cultural diversity groups and organized labor – and these groups are all lodged in geography, which is where intimacy and empathy and real solidarity happens."

Rifkin – ever the activist, ever quick to deconstruct a trend – will certainly champion this solidarity. Yet he is skeptical about the future of social progress. In the same breath that he mentions Seattle, he adds: "It is not out of the question that cultural diversity can be exhausted. If you lose the rich cultural diversity of thousands of years, it's as final and devastating as losing biodiversity." Rifkin's postmodernist colleagues are undoubtedly nodding in agreement. The question now is will business leaders, or better, politicians, pay any attention.


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Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2000 22:48:03 +0200
From: "ekogaia" BIOWATCH

29/2/00 White maize makes a come-back

Source: Country Guide, Canada

Thanks to the controversy surrounding biotech products, white maize (widely grown in the USA in 1940) could re-emerge from obscurity. Besides being easily identifiable as a non-GM variety, white maize is of high quality and gives good results when grown, explained Art Schafsma of Ridgeton College. It could therefore offer an excellent economic resource for farmers.

Ontario Farmers Slash their Use of Insecticides

by Stuart Laidlaw, The Toronto Star, March 17, 2000, Friday, Edition 1

Farmers have drastically cut their insecticide use over the past 15 years, according to an Ontario government study. They've done it through such age-old techniques as rotating crops and more selective application in their fields. Most of the drop, outlined in the study, came before the introduction of genetically modified crops, which are designed to eliminate the need for insecticides. Over the same period, however, the use of weed killers has increased by more than half, as genetically modified crops tied to them were introduced...

Roundup Ready allows a farmer to spray a field with chemicals without worrying about killing his crop, said Fred Wagner, a corn and soybean It leaves nothing else out there except the soybeans." Farmers are using four times the amount of glyphosate they did in 1988, the Ontario study said.

Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2000 22:48:03 +0200
From: "ekogaia" BIOWATCH

GE Soy Contaminates Organic Food

The Herald, Mar 01, 2000

Dutch food safety expert Dr Harry Kuiper told the [OECD] conference: "We have carried out tests in our laboratories on organic food and found traces of GM soya. It is everywhere."

Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000 12:21:59 +0200
From: Glenda Lindsay Southern Africa Seed-Initiative: Year 2000 Floods

** please circulate widely **

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

the crucial question after the floods in Southern Africa is, how to rebuild agriculture to restore food security in the affected regions.

Thus, in order to restore a sustainable agriculture an initiative started from civil society in the Southern African region, issueing the Open Letter attached – an appeal to the regional and international community to prevent the importation of inappropriate seeds to the region, and to support efforts to reconstitute locally adapted planting material and quality seed. Moreover it suggests options - short-, medium- and longterm.

As a first response to the disaster, an immediate review study on local seed reserves for relief purposes in the region is actually being compiled.This study will probably be available at the beginning of April 2000 to those who may want to purchase such local seed for relief purposes.

Please consider the following open letter and share it as widely as possible.

The open letter can also be downloaded at:

Thank you.
Ute Sprenger

SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre (SPGRC), Zambia
Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT), Zimbabwe

Southern Africa After the Year 2000 Floods: Seed-initiative

Open Letter from the Southern African region addressed to regional and international bodies in disaster relief and developmental assistance

March 2000


The Southern African region is currently reeling under the havoc inflicted by cyclone Eline and Gloria, and uncounted communities in the flood stricken areas of Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe have already lost most of their food, shelter, seed material and livestock. This is a tragedy for the livelihoods of families and communities in affected rural and urban areas, and will undoubtedly have serious economic implications, as most countries will try to come to terms with the reality of these devasting floods.

In this context, we applaud the efforts being made by various local and international organisations as they battle to bring in assistance in an endeavour to save lives and provide the immediate necessary relief supplies to the flood victims.

However, with regard to the restoration of a sustainable agriculture in future, we appeal to the regional and international community, and to organizations in disaster relief and developmental assistance to take precautions:

  1. to prevent the importation of inappropriate seeds to the Southern African region which can undermine agrobiodiversity and thus food security for years; and

  2. to support efforts to reconstitute locally adapted planting material and quality seed material/varieties, like indigenous landraces or famers' varieties appropriate to the various ecosystems.

This will need to be done RIGHT NOW in order to ensure food/nutrition security for all those affected by the floods in the region.

As pointed out by the FAO's "Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture": "Food aid, combined with the importation of often poorly adapted seed varieties, can lower yields and keep them low for years. While addressing the immediate crisis, such practices can exacerbate hunger conditions, undermine food security and increase costs of donor assistance well into the future."

In our view, the disaster in Southern Africa requires the co-operation of governments, private sector, NGOs and Civil Society in the region and beyond in an effort to put in place a co-ordinated initiative and mechanisms at the national and sub-regional level, which are able to deal fast and sustainably with this unfortunate situation.

Therefore we propose the following steps to be taken:


  1. There is need to initiate country specific seed requirements assessment by crop and quantity. In this context we are appealing to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Food Security Co-ordinating Unit to:

    1. immediately start specific initiatives in collaboration with other SADC sectors, seed companies and NGOs to put in place a framework which should start right away to work on the seed needs of each country affected by the floods;

    2. find out about the capacities of the flood affected Member States to meet the seed demands of farmers and communities, as well as their abilities to contribute to sustainable solutions.

  2. From April onwards wintercrops can be sown in fields in Southern Africa. There is an urgent need to compile current seed stocks/reserves held by the public, and private sector, by local breeders, and farmers and NGOs in the region by crop and possible by variety in-order to determine what is locally available. This will enable those who would like to purchase and assist flood victims, to initiate contacts and purchase appropriate relief seed supplies in time. Such information needs to be shared within the region and abroad to form the basis of the regional seed strategy requirements.

    As a first and fast response to the disaster an immediate review study of seeds stock in the region is actually being initiated by Community Technology Development Trust and SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre and conducted in order to compile a database of the reserves by country and institution. This study will probably be available at the beginning of April 2000 to those who may want to purchase such local seed for relief purposes.


  3. The next step would be the identification of those countries and stakeholders with the capacity to multiply such seed during this coming winter season, that is May to October 2000. Local, national and regional initiatives and institutions, of the formal as well as informal seed sector, have to be included in this effort as they do possess local knowledge as well as necessary contacts.

Ways to restore agricultural production in the flooded areas:

Commercial agriculture For most large scale commercial farming, recovery will be based on financial assistance to enable purchase of inputs for the next farming season as well as rehabilitation of the damaged infrastructure.

Small-Scale Farming For the rural smallholder farming communities, the majority in the region, recovery will be much more complex. The floods have resulted in the complete loss of their ways of life. The types of seed lost are not easily replaceable. This is because each community and household normally maintain their own distinct types of varieties nurtured through generations of selections and maintenance.

Short-term Solution The immediate solution would be to restore farming which forms a livelihood as quickly as possible. This entails distribution of even those varieties that are not familiar, but are from similar areas in the region. However, the choice should be for open-pollinated varieties of a wide range of varieties. This way the seed can act as a base for farmers to make future selections and the larger the number of varieties the more future stability is ensured.

Long-term Solution Variety types preferred in these areas may be known and in some cases small representative samples of some varieties may be available from local seed companies, research institutions and genebanks. In this case a seed multiplication programme should be started to increase seed to required amounts for re-introduction in areas where they are lost.

We suggest that this will be the ideal and appropriate route to take as this will avoid seed importation with regard to the sowing/planting season from October 2000 onwards. We urge the regional and international community, and disaster relief/developmental assistance organizations to consider the suggested route particularly - otherwise there is always the risk of bringing in seed materials which are not adapted to the regional eco-zones, farming practices, cultural and food habits of the communities.

Concern related to genetically modified varieties

Moreover, the major concern of the plant genetic resources conservation community is another current threat associated with seed importation: as there is the possibility of receiving hybrids, unadapted cultivars and genetically modified crop varieties related seeds as relief, without prior approval by the flood-affected countries.

In the case of GENETICALLY MODIFIED crop varieties, donating countries and other bodies must declare them before providing such assistance. This will protect our region from becoming a testing ground or a dumping ground for such genetically modified seed materials. The same applies to food aid imported from countries growing such varieties.

In addition to local and regional producers/breeders and farmers, institutes related to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), such as the SADC/CIMMYT, SADC/CIAT, SADC/IITA and SADC/ICRISAT programmes for maize, bean, cowpea, sorghum and pearl millet should be involved in the winter seed production of cereals and grain legumes. This will enable the region to be able to cope with the seed requirements of these countries well ahead of time and avoid panic when the 2000/2001 cropping season approaches.

Secondly, the aspect of importing seed materials which are not suited to our region and PARTICULARLY GENETICALY MODIFIED CROPS SHOULD BE AVOIDED.

We are calling on the international and regional community assisting the flood affected countries and communities to join hands in an effort to restore sustainable agriculture in the Southern African region after the floods. We emphasize establishing a system that will strengthen local farmers' and communities' abilities to restore food security and agriculture.

The Southern African Seed-Initiative is initiated by:
SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre (SPGRC), Zambia and Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT), Zimbabwe

Undersigned by (individuals and/or organizations):

24 March 2000

The review study on reserves of local seed for relief purposes will most probably be available at around the beginning of April 2000. Requests by organisations who may want to access this briefing in order to purchase appropriate seeds should be directed at CTDT.


Open Letter download:

SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre (SPGRC), Zambia E-mail:
Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT), Zimbabwe E-mail:

Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000 12:54:15 +0200
From: Glenda Lindsay Inside Info from the GE world....
From: (by way of Debbie Ortman

Dear All

Having just returned from Boston from the (GE activists)Biodevastation 2000 workshops/teachins/demos (which continue through this week) I thought the following 'inside info' would be of interest. (I'll have demo photos, workshop info & contact details available next week when I've cleared my email backlog and sorted out my office....HELP - I'm drowning in useful information that desparately needs sorting/filing!!..any volunteers?)

GE-free hugz


Reportback from Biodevastation 2000

From: (by way of Debbie Ortman Subject: Biodev 2000
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 21:28:45 -0600

I was really thrilled by the BIODEV2000 conference and I feel blessed to now feel so much more well informed on this urgent issue.

So, it turns out that I work at the Park Plaza Hotel, where a lot of the Bio2000 conference participants (GE developers/promoters)are staying. Yesterday, the day of our protest, I was working in the lobby bar and overheard some of the things that the people wearing badges were saying about the protests. Several times I heard them remarking in surprise on the number of people that were there, (yay us!) and they were also talking about the costumes. I heard one guy say to the bartender "the music was actually really good, and there were all these people dancing on top of a bus from Vermont." The bartender asked him what the protesters were protesting exactly, and the guy said, "oh, they're worried about cloning people, but that's really not an issue. There might be a few companies that would do that, but that can't really happen."

(Think again, mr. biotech!) I heard four of them discussing the protests and they said, "I guess they were protesting genetically engineered food. Well what does that have to do with Biotech?" And they all shrugged their shoulders and said, "I don't know." (Well, it's all really the same thing, isn't it? Aren't we concerned about any issues having to do with the manipulation of our gene pool as living beings?) I was talking to one guy directly and I asked him what the conference was really all about, since he said it didn't have much to do with the genetic engineering of food, and he said, "It's all just making deals." Let it be known too that these people have tons of money. They were buying the most expensive champagne, schmoozing, etc.

Well, I actually got my hands on one of the programs for the conference, and here are some of the titles for the speeches, workshops and symposiums:

"It's a complicated world, but someone's got to feed it. Shoppers have a lot to think about as they choose foods for their families. What are consumer priorities? As foods with better nutrition, taste and variety come to market, how will the role and acceptance of biotechnology fare? What are the implications for providing meaningful consumer information and education around the world?" (I don't want to eat off your plate!)

"The speakers will explore how public perceptions of the biotechnology industry will affect government policies and the adoption of new products. Recent events in Europe and the U.S. have shown that the public's fascination with new technologies can quickly turn to fear and misunderstanding. After the opening talks, speakers will lead an interactive discussion exploring how corporate leaders and scientists can help resolve the fears, enhance public understanding of science and maximize the benefits of new technologies for all concerned." (I think we understand perfectly!) And here's my favorite:

It seems pretty clear that the goal of BIOTECH mainly is to keep the machine of globalization growing with power, money, and merges. It's all about deals, making deals, making itself bigger and bigger, more and more powerful and influential. It's going to be an uphill battle against the corporate machine, especially when they have government officials on their side. (Some of the featured speakers at the convention are people from the FDA and the U.S. Patent office and the USDA.) The more these machine people exert control the more they medicate their fears.

Freedom, expression, nature, the wild of the wilderness - these are the fears of the machine. The machine fears the unknown. Nature in all of it's beauty and unpredictability is intolerable to this machine. The machine must be in control, it must be supreme, it must be the only thing that understands life and must be the ultimate authority. The machine must conquer the world of the unknown in order to sustain itself As long as the machine keeps finding ways to make things new and to make new things that it created and owns then it is securely in power. It must convince or force people to believe that the machine improves on what exists and if people believe this there is no need for the unknown. Then its fear will go away. The machine will force its will on the world and nothing will be powerful enough to stop it.

We must say NO to the machine! Make the machine very afraid! Express yourself! Don't be afraid of not being "normal"! Being normal is having the disease! We are not machines and we won't let our planet be turned into a machine that uses the sacred life of our earth as its fuel!

If you like this e-mail send it along. Much love to my brothers and sisters at the biodev 2000 gathering.

love from a newly-made-aware activist

Alissa Ferranto

Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Fri, 07 Apr 2000 16:06:55 +0200
From: Glenda Lindsay

South Africa: Please comment on Marie Claire GE article NOW

Dear All

Please read the cautionary article on GE foods in the current edition of MARIE CLAIRE

......The usual suspects from the pro-GE lobby (AfricaBio, Jennifer Thompson, Kele Lekoape, Muffy Koch, Jocelyn Webster, people from Meropa - AfricaBio's PR company and others) have already INUNDATED the magazine with objections.....and the magazine staff are naturally somewhat alarmed.

SO......WE need to inundate Marie Claire with congratulatory
phone calls (011) 889 0600.....
faxes (011) 889 0611....
and letters -

to Prina Fenster, Editor, Marie Claire 2nd Floor Caxton House 368 Jan Smuts Avenue Craighall 2196

to applaud their integrity in raising reasons for caution. There have already been instances here and overseas where pro-GM /industry pressure has prevented this type of information from being made public. The media need to know we support their freedom of speech if they are to help raise public awareness of important issues.

Although some info in the article is different from info I had (and I will be writing to raise this), overall it is a well-researched and well-written article advising caution and encouraging people to contact the Consumer Institute, The Safe Food Coalition, the Organic Agriculture Assn and the Dept of Agriculture if they are concerned about safety or want to lobby for labelling.

Please be AT LEAST as pro-active in letting your views be known to MarieClaire as the well-funded and strategically organised pro-GE lot are !!! We stand to lose a lot of time, effort and credibility by not responding - not to mention the continuing 'invisible' and irreversible spread of GE crops and foods.

Yours for a just and sustainable future


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Fri, 07 Apr 2000 17:42:59 +0200
From: "taynton" BIOWATCH: (Excellent stuff)Fwd: Concerns about GM food crops
From: Biotech-Mod1

If you have not linked up to this FAO email conference, you might like to, see this posting from them: "CONCERNS ABOUT GM FOOD CROPS" below.

See bottom of this email how to join the conference.



"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."

George Orwell

"Non-cooperation with injustice is a sacred duty."

Mahatma Gandhi

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good people (men) do nothing."

Edmund Burke

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Margaret Mead


  1. "Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of Science and Technology (PSRAST)",

  2. The Natural Law Party:

  3. The Genetically Manipulated Food News:
*********************************************************************** THIS EMAIL FROM:
Andrew Taynton, Safe Food Coalition , P O Box 665, Linkhills, 3652, KwaZulu-Natal, Republic of South Africa;
tel: 031-763 2634, Cell 083 662 0411, e-mail:

From: Biotech-Mod1
Date: Fri, 07 Apr 2000 16:35:16 +0200
Subject: Concerns about GM food crops

Concerns Regarding The Use Of Biotech In Developing Countries

My concerns regarding the use of biotech in the growing of GM food crops in developing countries are:

Jeffrey Reel
Planetary Food Council, a division of One Peaceful World Becket, MA, USA

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

Top PreviousFront Page
Date: Fri, 14 Apr 2000 10:49:07 +0200
From: "taynton" BIOWATCH: Round-Up and Health Hazards

In response to a question on the health implications when using Round-Up on crops Prof Cummins sent me the following.



10 April 2000
Prof. Joe Cummins

"Glyphosate (Round-Up) a Few Useful References"

People have asked me to provide references on Glyphosate ( round-up) so I prepared a list that may over-lap with information available elsewhere. The list below may be useful for people engaged in public reviews and debates on pesticides or on genetically modified (GM) crops.

A number of studies show that Glyphosate is genotoxic ( gene damaging) , such findings suggest that the herbicide may cause gene changes leading to cancer or to birth defects. DNA adducts are formed after exposing mice to glyphosate (Peluso et al 1998). Such adducts lead to mutation causing cancer. Glyphosate was found to damage DNA of frogs (Clements 1997).

Glyphosate caused chromosome damage in bovine cells in culture (Lioi et al 1998). The herbicide caused decreased libido, semen volume and sperm death in rabbits (Yousef et al 1995). Glyphosate was among herbicides whose exposure was related to non-Hodgkins lymphoma (Hardell and Eriksson 1999).

Glyphosate caused reduced immunity in Tilapia fish (el-Gendy et al 1998).

Glyphosate caused lung hemorrhages and lung cell damage in rats (Adam et al 1997).

Glyphosate added to raw cotton and to finished fabric was found to transfer from fabric into and through human skin to cause toxic effects ( Wester et al 1996).


  1. Adam,A,Marzuki,A,Abdul Rahman,H,and Abdul Azziz,M " The oral and intratracheal toxicities of roundup and its components in rats" 1997 Vet Hum Toxicol 39,147-51

  2. Clements,C,Ralph,S and Petras,M "Genotoxicity of selected herbicides in Rana catesbeiana tadpoles using the alkaline single-call gel DNA electrophoresis (comet) assay" 1997 Environ Mol Mutagen 29,277-88

  3. elGendy,K,Aly,N,and elSebae,A " Effects of edifenphos and Glyphosate on the immune response of bolti fish (Tilapia nilotica)" 1998 J Enviro Sci Health N 33,135-49

  4. Hardell,L and Eriksson,M "A case control study of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and exposure to pesticides" 1999 Cancer 15,1353-60

  5. Lioiu,M,Scarfi,M,Santoro,A,Barbieri,R,Zeni,O,DiBerdino,D and Ursini,M "Genotoxicity and oxidative stress induced by pesticide exposure in bovine lymphocyte culture in vitro" 1998 Mutat Res 403,13-20

  6. Peluso,M,Munnia,A,Bolognesi,C and Parodi,S " 32P-postlabeling detection of DNA adducts in mice treated with the herbicide Roundup" 1998 Environ Mol Mutagem 312,55-9

  7. Wester,R,Quan,D and Mailbach,H "In vitro percutaneous absorption of model compouns glyphosate and malathion from cotton fabric into and through human skin" 1996 Food Chem Toxicol 34,731-5

  8. Yousef,M,Salem,M,Ibrahim,H,Helmi,S,Seely,M and Bertheussen,K "Toxic effects of carbofuran and glyphosate on semen characteristics in rabbits" 1995 J Environ Sci Health B 30,513-34


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