Several people asked me what has been happening with the Senate hearings and the Health Canada scientists. I apologize that it is so long, but here are the facts:
You may recall that the Standing Senate Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders was investigating whether Health Canada committed Contempt of Parliament by retaliating against its own scientists (in the Human Safety Division of the Bureau of Veterinary Drugs (BVD)) for testifying before another Senate committee.
These scientists had previously testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee that they were being pressured and harassed to approve drugs and other products of questionable safety (including genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, or rBGH). Following their testimony before the Agriculture Committee, one of the scientists, Dr. Shiv Chopra, was suspended without pay for 5 days.
Other scientists told the Senate Committees that they were denied promotions, threatened, and harassed. In addition, they reported that less qualified individuals were being parachuted in from other departments, rather than appointing more qualified scientists in the department. One of the people mentioned as being parachuted in was Kelly Butler, who was brought in as Chief of the Human Safety Division of the Bureau of Veterinary Drugs. (Following the Senate meeting, Kelly Butler left the department.)
On Tuesday Feb. 29, 2000 the Senate Committee (on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders) questioned David Dodge, Deputy Minister of Health. On the subject of Dr. Chopra's suspension, Mr. Dodge referred the Senate committee to Andre Lachance, the Director of the Bureau of Veterinary Drugs. Mr. Dodge said that Dr. Lachance ordered the suspension of Dr. Chopra. The Committee then asked Dr. Lachance to appear before them, and the meeting was scheduled for March 29.
A few days after the Feb. 28 meeting, one of the clerks in the department was caught putting government documents on microfiche through a paper shredder. This incident is only the last of a series of incidents of document destruction. It appears that the government is destroying the documents because it is worried about anyone finding out about drugs of questionable safety that were approved or are still being pushed through the approval process.
This appears to be the same reason that the government is hesitant to promote one of the scientists to a senior position. If they were in a senior position, the scientists could expose the questionable drugs that have been approved. One of these drugs is Revlor-H, a hormone injected into cattle to increase weight. Previous research shows that the drug caused deformities in the ovaries, uterus, and prostate of the cows, and also damaged the thymus, which controls the immune system. The drug was not approved in Europe, also because it is linked to cancer. In Canada, Revlor-H was approved even though the Canadian scientists recommended it not be approved.
In any case, following the document shredding incident, Dr. Lachance disappeared from the department. A few days later, his lawyer sent a letter to the department saying that Dr. Lachance was on sick leave until at least June 1, and unable to attend Senate hearings or other meetings. This leave is clearly a tactic to prevent Dr. Lachance from testifying before the Senate, as his testimony could be quite embarrassing to Health Canada.
For instance, Health Canada insisted that Dr. Chopra was suspended because he spoke at a Heritage Canada meeting without approval from Health Canada, and because of allegations that Dr. Chopra spoke critically of Health Canada, alleging racism in the department. In fact, Dr. Chopra spoke on his own time and he did not represent Health Canada.
In addition, Health Canada administrators said that the decision to suspend Dr. Chopra was on the basis of an audio tape copy of Dr. Chopra's talk that they obtained from Heritage Canada. However, it is not known whether Heritage Canada supplied an audio tape or any other materials to Health Canada.
In addition, other scientists support the claims that Dr. Chopra was being unduly harassed because of his earlier testimony to the Senate Agriculture Committee. So there are clear holes in the decision to suspend Dr. Chopra, which could have been investigated by questioning Dr. Lachance.
After Dr. Lachance went on leave, the department replaced him (as Director of the Bureau of Veterinary Drugs) by Dr. John Dueck, indicating that Dr. Lachance would not be returning to the department. Dr. Dueck is a plant pathologist/physiologist from AgCanada, without experience in veterinary medicine or any related science.
Incidentally, Dr. Paterson, the former Director General of the Food Directorate recently retired. (The new Director-General of the Food Directorate, Marc Le Maguer, an engineer parachuted in from the University of Guelph, has already stirred up controversy by publicly attacking Dr. Ann Clark, Associate Professor of Crop Science at the University of Guelph, after she questioned the safety of GMOs). The Assistant Deputy Minister of the Health Protection Branch (Joe Losos) will be leaving in May, being replaced by Diane Gorman, who is without a science background. Therefore virtually all the people involved with Dr. Chopra's suspension have left the department.
In further events, on April 13, 2000 the Senate Committee on (on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders) announced that it did not have enough evidence to conclude whether Health Canada was in Contempt of Parliament by suspending Dr. Chopra, and the Committee indicated it would be ending its investigation. However, the Committee did add that this did not mean that there was no evidence, and stated that the situation in the department was "deplorable."
Another recent development is that the Deputy Minister of Health has announced that the entire Health Protection Branch of Health Canada (which the Bureau of Veterinary Drugs is embedded in) is being dissolved and replaced by another structure. The following press release by the National Farmers Union giveS further insights on these developments. These and other groups are urging the Senate Committee to continue its investigation of the suspension of Dr. Chopra.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE APRIL 17, 2000
National Farmers Union
Region 3, RR 1, Ompah, Ontario K0H 2J0
Tel. 613-479-2453 Fax. 613-479-0126
GANANOQUE, Ont: - "We are amazed that the Senate Committee abandoned its said Peter Dowling, Ontario Coordinator for the National Farmers Union. He was commenting on a report tabled Thursday in the Senate by the Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders.
The Committee was investigating whether Health Canada was in contempt of Parliament when it temporarily suspended scientist Dr. Shiv Chopra as a disciplinary measure last summer. The report states that the evidence provided did not "adequately prove" allegations that Dr. Chopra was suspended because of his testimony before another Senate committee.
Chopra, a science reviewer in Health Canada's Bureau of Veterinary Drugs, had testified before the Senate's Agriculture and Forestry Committee in its hearings on the controversial genetically engineered milk hormone, rBGH. His testimony pointed to cover-ups, managers over-riding the concerns of scientists, and undue industry influence on food safety decisions.
"Why didn't the Privileges Committee make sure they heard from the man responsible for Dr. Chopra's suspension?" Dowling asked. The Senators had questioned Chopra, six of his fellow scientists, and Health Canada's Deputy Minister David Dodge to try to determine the reason for the suspension. The next witness, scheduled for the week of March 13, was to be Chopra's director, Dr. Andre Lachance.
"The accumulated evidence up to then had raised major issues about food safety, employment discrimination, and government-industry collusion" Dowling explained. "That evidence led the Committee straight to Lachance. Yet when that key witness suddenly had to go on stress leave for several months, the Committee's determination to pursue the matter seems to have crumbled."
"Given that the Senators are aware of highly questionable tactics and manipulation by Health Canada management, it is surprising that they stopped investigating when that same management came up with another stalling tactic. Direct evidence is seldom readily available in such a case, and persistence is essential," said Dowling
The Senate will consider the report on May 2. The NFU is urging the Senators to accept it only as an interim report, and to call Lachance as a witness. "We hope Canadians will tell their Senators that if they accept this document as the final report, it leaves too many questions unanswered. This is of concern to everyone who cares about food safety, fair employment practices, the publics right to know, and ultimately, democracy itself," Dowling concluded.
For More Information:
Peter Dowling, NFU Ontario Coordinator: (613) 546-0869
Helen Forsey, NFU Ontario Office: (613) 479-2453
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes.
Greenpeace Press Release,
April 18, 2000
WASHINGTON n extensively peerreviewed report released today by a team of Swiss scientists shows that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) used inappropriate and scientifically questionable studies in approving the first genetically engineered (GE) insect-resistant corn for U.S. growers.
The EcoStrat report, commissioned by Greenpeace, reveals that tests submitted by the biotech companies Novartis and Mycogen to determine whether their GE corn could harm non-target insects were so poorly designed that there was virtually no chance that adverse effects would be observed.
Despite the flawed methodology, EPA accepted the tests as scientific evidence that the genealtered crop was harmless to nontarget insects, and continued to accept the same flawed testing procedures for approval of other companies' insect-resistant "Bt" crops.
"This is the first time scientists have critically assessed, one by one, the studies presented to the agency," said Doreen Stabinsky, a science advisor to the Greenpeace genetic engineering campaign. "We now know that EPA's approval of insect-resistant crops was based on false assumptions, shoddy methodology, and skewed results."
In the analysis, a "Review on NonTarget Organisms and Transgenic Bt Plants," authors Angelika Hilbeck, Matthias Meier, and Andrea Raps review five laboratory studies that Novartis and Mycogen submitted to EPA for approval of their Bt corn. Four of the studies were conducted by the companies and were not peer-reviewed or published. Of these studies: Only one tested long-term exposure to the Bt toxin. In the one chronic study, some adverse effects on non-target insects were observed.
None considered effects of the toxin in the food chain, in other interactions among plants, or on insects feeding on them and their natural enemies.
None used appropriate feeding methods or demonstrated that the Bt toxin was ever ingested by the target species.
All were modeled on tests used to assess the toxicity of industrial chemicals in the environment; none were designed to assess the risks of releasing organisms into the environment.
Despite obvious flaws in the industry studies, EPA accepted them at face value. For example, in a study on water fleas (Daphnia), it is questionable whether the fleas were able to ingest any of the Bt toxin. Similarly, earthworms were fed an unrealistic diet, and the study failed to provide evidence that the earthworms ingested any Bt. These tests were required because EPA uses them to assess new chemical pesticides. But as the EcoStrat team noted, "Testing procedures designed for pesticides and their mode of release alone are not sufficient for assessing effects of transgenic plants on nontarget organisms."
"When we heard that Bt corn might kill monarch butterflies, EPA was caught with its pants down," said Greenpeace Genetic Engineering Specialist, Charles Margulis. "Now we know why the agency was operating on an outdated approach that let industry hijack the term 'sound science.' The lesson seems to be that if we really want to hear sound science, we shouldn't listen to biotech companies or the EPA."
Today's release of the EcoStrat paper comes on the eve of the deadline for EPA's response to a lawsuit Greenpeace and a coalition of farming organizations brought against the agency in February 1999. Last month EPA missed the previous deadline for a response, but was granted an additional 30 days.
Background information is available on the Greenpeace USA website at: http://www.greenpeaceusa.org/media/press_releases/gmo-background.p....
by Peter Calamai, The Toronto Star, April 19, 2000 p. A6
OTTAWA The Canadian federal government has, according to this story, abandoned the idea of splicing foreign genes into durum wheat, the mainstay of pasta, partly because of a consumer backlash against genetically engineered foods.
The story adds that the decision, which has not been formally announced, could turn out to be a major turning point in the continuing debate about the appropriate use of biotechnology and adds that both industry and government researches have been increasingly skittish about genetically engineered food.
A senior executive of BioteCanada, the main national industry lobby group, wouldn't comment yesterday on the implications of the durum decision but noted that other federal agriculture biotech research was still continuing.
Federal agriculture officials were cited as acknowledging they have seriously considered a research program to introduce a herbicide-resistant gene into durum wheat, based on similar work that has already produced herbicide-resistant soybeans, corn and canola.
Brian Morrissey, who heads research at the agriculture department, was cited as saying that grain growers, brokers and distributors surveyed recently by the government advised against developing similar herbicide-resistant durum wheat and that some people in the grain sector expressed fears that herbicide-resistant durum could unleash a consumer backlash and risk trade barriers in Europe, where opposition to genetically engineered foods is high and mounting, adding, "If there were no market, there would be no sales."
As well, herbicide resistance is not seen as crucial on southern Saskatchewan farms where durum is mostly grown.
Gordon Dorrell, in charge of agriculture's research stations in the Western Canada, was quoted as saying, "Farmers weren't prepared to pay anything extra for the seed."
The durum project would have paralleled an existing partnership between Agriculture Canada and Monsanto to develop a hard red spring wheat that is resistant to Round up.
The genetically engineered wheat could be ready for sale to farmers by 2003, officials said.
Morrissey was cited as telling members of the Commons agriculture committee last week that the government signed the deal with Monsanto in 1997 when the world appeared to be embracing genetically engineered foodstuffs. adding, "But today, here and elsewhere, it's going in slow motion."
Reprinted with permission from the May 2000 issue of Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition
by Richard Wolfson, PhD
At the United Nations Biosafety Conference in Montreal earlier this year, the "Miami Group" of big agricultural countries (Canada, USA, Argentina, Australia, Chile, and Uruguay) pressured to allow genetically engineered (GE) foods freely on the world market. Europe and most of the remaining 134 countries represented were pushing for segregation, clear mandatory labeling, and the right to refuse GE crops.
Following intense negotiations and consumer pressure by hundreds of protesters, delegates agreed that GE shipments need be labeled, stating they "may contain" genetically-modified organisms. More specific labeling will take effect within two years. The delegates also agreed that countries may refuse GE crops because of unknown environmental risks, thereby instituting the precautionary principle. Environmentalists were cautious about expressing too much optimism until full details are worked out, including the relationship of this agreement to the World Trade Organization.
Dr. Ann Clark, Associate Professor of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph, recently reported that of the 42 genetically engineered crops approved in Canada, two-thirds weren't tested for toxicity and none of them were tested for allergenic effects. Even for the 30 percent studied for toxicity, the tests were quite limited. Dr. Clark was particularly concerned at the lack of testing, because foreign genes can affect other genes, produce unexpected toxic or allergenic effects, or weaken plants.
Several biotech advocates criticized Dr. Clark, saying she should not comment on topics outside of her specialty. However, other scientists at Guelph and across Canada came to Dr. Clark's support, citing freedom of speech and stating that Dr. Clark should not be muzzled.
Human gene therapy experiments were shut down at the University of Pennsylvania following investigations showing researchers repeatedly violated safety regulations. National Institutes of Health officials later found that hundreds of deaths and other "adverse events" in gene therapy trials went unreported to that agency, despite federal rules requiring such events be reported immediately. With gene therapy research largely backed by venture capital, critics claim that pressure for profit took precedence over safety.
Acting in response to consumer pressure, Frito-Lay will not use genetically altered corn in its corn chips and other products in North America. Seagram told Canadian corn growers that it would not accept GE crops this year.
In USA, the two largest natural foods retailers, Whole Foods and Wild Oats, are removing genetically engineered corn, soy, and canola oil from their own label foods. Sun Valley, Britain's largest chicken producer and one of the main users of GE soy in Europe, has banned biotech soy from its chickenfeed.
Because of his outspoken opposition to genetic engineering, support of the environment, and backing of organic farming, Prince Charles was named "most inspirational figure worldwide" in an award by the environmental magazine, Green Futures.
Cross-pollination of biotech canola with wild weeds (gene crossing) has resulted in superweeds that are immune to three major herbicides: Roundup, Liberty, and Pursuit. The weeds were found on a farm near Sexsmith, Alberta. Herbicide-resistant weeds force farmers to move on to more toxic chemicals, further dispelling the myth that genetic engineering is more environmentally friendly.
Fish have been genetically modified to grow faster and larger. However, these biotech fish are slower, less agile, and not as able to withstand conditions in the wild. Government and private scientists are concerned that whole populations of fish face likely extinction, due to the weakening of wild fish when they breed with transgenic fish that escape.
A new Agriculture Canada study shows that herbicide-tolerant canola does not consistently give greater yields than conventional seeds. Since biotech seeds cost more, farmers are worried they could lose money if they plant GE canola.
Monsanto, the transnational biotech giant, is merging with "the US-Swiss drugs group Pharmacia & Upjohn. The $50 billion (US) corporation will be known as Pharmacia. Monsanto's name became tarnished due to its association with GE crops, terminator technology, and related environmental and human safety concerns.
In response to concerns that insect-resistant biotech corn may cause environmental damage, the US Environmental Protection Agency is now requiring that farmers who grow GE corn plant 20 to 50 percent of their acreage in conventional corn. Farmers are wondering whether it is worth planting GE corn at all.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes.
The article is about retaliation against a Health Canada scientists, Dr. Shiv Chopra, after he testified to the Senate Agriculture Committee about genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH), its hazards, and the undue pressure on Health Canada scientists to approve the hormone.
George A. Neville, Ph.D , The Ottawa Citizen, Mon April 24, 2000, P. 24
The 13 April report by the Senate's Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders pertaining to its aborted hearings for contempt of Parliament by Health Canada's disciplinary measures inflicted on a group of veterinarian Regulatory Reviewers (principally Dr. Shiv Chopra) amounts to a total political cop-out. ("Senate panel tells Rock to fix work environment at Health Canada," April 14). I know because I attended each of those hearings.
The Committee, Chaired by Sen. Jack Austin, heard corroborating evidence from six additional scientists of the Bureau of Veterinary Drugs (BVD) detailing internal managerial intrigue, over-rulings of scientific evidence, shredding, destruction, and theft of documentation, and the release of a mysterious tape from the Department of Canadian Heritage of the CH meeting in which Chopra had participated as a private citizen on his own time as a representative of a non-governmental organization.
It heard the arrogant, erratic, and bombastic testimony of David Dodge, Deputy Minister for HC, who was not asked by the Committee Chair to give his testimony under oath like the other HPB witnesses. The Committee sought to have Dr. Andre Lachance, the Director of BVD, Health Protection Branch (the operative disciplinarian for the Department) appear on two occasions only to be thwarted by reported illness and non-availability.
The Committee, realizing that this case was getting too hot, obviously decided to abort its hearings and forgo calling additional important and key witnesses from Canadian Heritage and the Privy Council. It could have subpoenaed Dr. Lachance, but his testimony would have placed DM Dodge and HC Minister Rock in a worse situation, let alone the Privy Council and Prime Minister.
In prematurely and arbitrarily terminating its hearing, the Standing Committee on Privileges, Rules and Orders has simply chosen to "blast the minister and DM Dodge for the poor work environment" and told them "to fix the bad relationships between bureaucrats and scientists inside his department". In reality in the interim, the administrative relationships within the Bureau of Veterinary Drugs has seen further inappropriate and technically unqualified appointments: Lachance, trained as a metallurgical chemist, has been replaced by Dr. John Dueck, Acting Director BVD (for only seven weeks), a plant pathologist/physiologist from AgCanada and former special advisor to AgCanada. At the same time, Janet King, with a Ph.D. in geology, has been placed in the new post of Associate Director General of the Foods Directorate, and Ms. Diane Gorman, previously a Regional Director General from Winnipeg and formerly with the Treasury Board, has been named the new ADM for HPB to fill the vacancy from Dr. Joe Losos's departure.
These appointments exemplify the trend in recent years at HPB to place persons without appropriate qualifications and expertise relevant to the scientific and technological needs of BVD and HPB in high management positions responsible for the health protection of Canadians and regulation of foods and drugs at a time of increasing concern over the introduction of genetically modified foods and genetically engineered pharmaceuticals. First, there was deregulation, next came dismemberment of HPB; now we embark upon destruction of HPB with its total restructuring. Health protection by HPB is virtually non-existent, now resting on past laurels!
George A. Neville, Ph.D
Retired Research Scientist,
Health Protection Branch, HC
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes.
Call Kellogg at 1-888-876-3750 (Canada) or 1-800-962-1413 (USA) to let them know you will not eat their cereal if they use genetically engineered crops (containing foreign bacterial toxin genes).
http://www.kelloggs.com (from New York Times online www.NYTimes.com)
http://www.kelloggs.com April 28, 2000
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) Kellogg Co. shareholders overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to force the cereal maker to stop using genetically altered crops, despite claims from two groups of nuns that the crops are unsafe and put the company at risk for lawsuits. It looks like it might be something in the future, but right now it's not said Tom Fisher, a retired Kellogg employee and shareholder who was among the 94 percent voting against the proposal.
Kellogg is in the process of removing genetically altered ingredients from its products in Europe and Australia, where there has been increasing consumer backlash over the safety over genetically altered crops.
But the company has declined to do the same in North America, citing a lack of consumer interest ...
By PHILIP BRASHER,
AP Farm Writer,
April 27, 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) via NewsEdge Corporation -
Environmental groups asked the government Wednesday to withdraw its approval of genetically engineered squash because of concerns that it could cross with a wild relative and make it a hardier weed.
The squash is modified to make it resistant to plant viruses. A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences questioned whether the Agriculture Department had considered adequately whether the virus resistance could spread from the squash to its wild cousin, which is a pest to farmers in some southern states.
In a petition to USDA, the groups said the squash case showed that the department's process for approving genetically engineered crops is inadequate. In addition to seeking withdrawal of the squash, the petition asked the agency to require more testing and analysis of biotech crops, depending on the potential environmental risk. Given the potential risks of these crops nationally and abroad and the unique role that U.S. regulators play internationally, ... it is essential that USDA adopt a scientifically sound and systematic approach to regulating the potential ecological risks associated with genetically the petition said.
By ERIC PRIDEAUX, Associated Press Writer, April 27, 2000
TOKYO (AP) Tokyo has decided to demand safety tests for genetically altered food produced both at home and abroad but denied that the new move would hurt Japan's imports.
Under a proposal accepted by the government Tuesday, agricultural producers will be required to screen foods that contain genetically modified ingredients before they are sold on the market, starting next year.
Japan imports about 60 percent of its food, much of it from the United States. Last year, Japan imported from the United States 96 percent of its corn used for animal feed and other processing as well as 76 percent of its soybeans.
Noriko Iseki, an official at the Ministry of Health and Welfare, said Wednesday that the new screening requirement will probably not significantly affect imports since overseas producers have already been voluntarily testing their products before selling them in Japan.
Thanks to RBBAX@aol.com for posting this
By Scott Kilman., Wall Street Journal 4/28/00
Monsanto Co.'s genetically modified potato is falling victim to the consumer backlash over crop biotechnology. Fast-food chains such as McDonald's Corp. are quietly telling their french-fry suppliers to stop using the potato from Monsanto, the only biotechnology concern to commercialize a genetically modified spud.
So many food concerns are shrinking from the Monsanto potato that J.R. Simplot Co., a major supplier of french fries to McDonald's, is instructing its farmers to stop growing it. "Virtually all the [fast food] chains have told us they prefer to take nongenetically modified potatoes," said Fred Zerza, spokesman for closely held J.R. Simplot, headquartered in Boise, Idaho.
link to Wall St. Journal McDonalds story http://biz.yahoo.com/rf/000428/6.html
Altered crops: Battle goes on
The Des Moines Register, 2000-04-27
Washington, D.C. -The battle over genetically modified crops escalated Wednesday as six environmental groups petitioned the Department of Agriculture to intensify its reviews of possible ecological risks. ...
Just before that report was issued, about 50 environmental and consumer organizations asked the Food and Drug Administration to control genetically modified food ingredients, such as food additives, and require expanded testing before the products could be marketed. ...
Wednesday's petition was filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace, Center for Food Safety, Environmental Defense, Sierra Club and Union of Concerned Scientists.
The petition says genetic engineering may promote development of "aggressive, invasive weeds that displace a rich variety of local plants or, worse still, catastrophically reduce the genetic diversity" of natural crops.
By Andrea Babbington, UK - The independent, 29 April 2000
Heavy spring rain is putting government GM crop trials at risk, researchers claimed today.
More than 50 British farmers are preparing to carry out the tests, but BBC1 programme Countryfile found that most had failed to plant their crops because of recent heavy rains.
Unless the weather improves quickly, most of the farmers will miss the window for spring planting and risk delaying the experiments.
McDonald's has decided to put public relations before profit in rejecting the use of genetically modified potatoes for its famed french fries. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that McDonald's, Frito-Lay and other fast-food and snack-food companies are pulling genetically modified (GM) potatoes from the fryer and quietly telling their suppliers to stick to non-GM varieties.
In fact, potato wholesalers have received so many requests for non-genetically modified potatoes that they have asked farmers to stop growing the "NewLeaf" potato, developed by Monsanto, which is equipped with a gene that protects it from insects and disease. Heartier and cheaper to grow than conventional potatoes, GM potatoes also reduce environmental problems by eliminating the need for heavy use of pesticides."
by Gert E. de Vries, Trends in Plant Science 2000, 5:189, Vol. 5, No. 5, May 2000
A rat gene has been introduced in broccolini to enhance vitamin C levels. Broccolini is a cross between broccoli and a Chinese kale, and took eight years to develop. The new plants contain up to seven times the quantity of vitamin C, and it is thought that similar experiments would probably be successful with other plants such as rice and tomatoes. Broccolini retains color and stays fresh longer and could eventually help overcome vitamin deficiencies. Mol. Breed. (2000) 6, 73-78.
April 24, 2000,
SUMMERLAND, B.C. The provincial government in British Columbia won't, according to this story, be participating in any more genetic research into how to keep sliced apples from turning brown.
Organic fruit producers were cited as saying in a news release Monday the government has decided to scrap the project at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre and that Agriculture Minister Corky Evans was instrumental in ending the work aimed at genetically modifying apples so they wouldn't discolour when cut open, adding, "Corky has always understood that B.C. agriculture can best survive by being unique. In a time of one agricultural crisis after another and with farmers leaving the land in droves, organic farming is an expanding and viable way to make a living."
The story says organic growers were worried genetically-engineered trees would cross-pollinate with natural ones, ruining their organic status, with the release further quoted as saying, "There is no tolerance in the organic market for product affected by genetic engineering. The produce could not be sold as organic and the farm could become decertified."
Organic tree fruit production in British Columbia has increased from 16 hectares a decade ago to more than 400 today. Meanwhile, organic produce sales have increased 20 per cent a year.
Here is a letter sent to Kelloggs at its website http://www.kelloggs.com:
Others could use this excellent letter as a template to draft there own.
Now that your shareholders have voted to have Kelloggs continue using genetically engineered foods in its products sold in North America, please be informed that I and my family will no longer be purchasing Kelloggs products. You should also understand that I participated in a similar boycott against another irresponsible company 30 years ago and I still do not purchase their products. My boycott is for life.
Yours truly, name
Thanks to Dr. Robert Mann firstname.lastname@example.org for posting this
Excerpts from Agribusiness Examiner #72
It appears that a clear message is being sent to the nation's farmers that the markets for genetically engineered crops are closing. Joining Frito-Lay which has announced that it is asking its contract farmers to grow GE-free corn, McDonald's and Burger King are now telling their potato suppliers that they do not want genetically engineered (GE) potatoes.
The decision by two of the nation's major fast food restaurants was reported in the April 28 Wall Street Journal, based on initial background research by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).
McDonald's hopes to go entirely GE-free by the fall of 2000 with regards to potatoes used in its popular french fries. GE potatoes are designed to combat the potato beetle by splicing the bacterium Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) into every cell. Monsanto, the St. Louis, Missouri agricultural unit of Pharmacia Corp., calls its potato "NewLeaf."
So many food concerns are shrinking from the Monsanto potato that J.R. Simplot Co., who reportedly supplies nearly 80% of McDonald's french fries, is instructing its farmers to stop growing it. Officials at two other major Northwest processors McCain Foods and Lamb-Weston, a subsidiary of ConAgra Inc. say they won't accept biotech potatoes at harvest time this fall. Virtually all potatoes grown in Washington State go to processors, not the fresh market.
"Virtually all the [fast food] chains have told us they prefer to take nongenetically modified potatoes," said Fred Zerza, spokesman for closely held J.R. Simplot, headquartered in Boise, Idaho.
In Idaho earlier this year, Monsanto laid off 20 of the 30 employees who had launched the biotech potato. The Seattle Times Hal Bernton reports that farmers who worked with Monsanto to grow biotech-seed stock are struggling to find others who dare to plant it. The outlook is so bleak that one farmer may wind up dumping 30,000 pounds of seed into a ditch.
American Corn Growers Association,
May 2, 2000
Web site: http://www.acga.org
TULSA, Okla., April 30 /PRNewswire/ American farmers who expected domestic markets for their genetically modified (GMO) crops found another door closing in their faces with the announcement that major U.S. food outlets and processors are rejecting GMO potatoes. This action adds to recent announcements by Frito-Lay that they would not accept GMO corn from their contract growers.
"Markets for our farmers, both foreign and domestic, are falling by the wayside," said Gary Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA). "It is quickly becoming impossible to guarantee the marketability of genetically modified food products and this is affecting farmers' bottom line."
As European markets disappeared because of their insistence that the U.S. only sell non-GMOs, American farmers were told by the biotechnology industry and their agricultural supporters that domestic markets would remain open to their products. The decision by McDonald's not to use GMO potatoes for their french fries and Procter & Gamble not to use GMO potatoes for their Pringles brand potato chips sends just the opposite signal.
If this news wasn't bad enough for GMO advocates, two recent announcements coming out of Japan do not bode well for the future of GMO exports. Japan stated that mandatory safety testing would be required of all genetically modified crops coming into the country. In addition, they announced that non-GMO wheat is replacing GMO corn and soybeans in their food products. This is because there is very little commercialization of GMO wheat and because it is increasing difficult for Japan to find non-GMO corn and soybeans coming out of the United States. Japan is the single largest market for American corn producers, purchasing 15.891 million tons in 1999.
"U.S. farmers cannot afford to lose valuable markets for our commodities. The loss of the European market, the burdensome requirements to maintain the Japanese market and the growing number of domestic companies that are demanding non-GMOs are adding pressure on American farmers to turn their backs on genetically modified seeds. Add the concerns of on-farm segregation, testing and certification, and the uncertainty over cross-pollination, liability and labeling and it is no wonder that over 75% of all corn acres will be planted to conventional, non-GMO corn seeds this coming year," added Goldberg.
The ACGA has been using its Farmer Choice-Customer First Program to provide unbiased, honest and objective information about GMOs. This enables farmers to make educated decisions about what crops would work the best for their individual farming operations.
"Farmers are facing the facts that genetically modified crops are finding increasing resistance in our foreign and domestic markets. With commodity prices remaining historically low and greater pressures being put on exports, the continued planting of GMOs is jeopardizing the financial well being of U.S. farmers. These are the real reasons that so many agricultural producers have made the conscious decision to reject GMOs this year and will be closely watching market developments to determine what to do in future years," concluded Goldberg.
CONTACT: Gary Goldberg, 918-488-1892, or David Senter, 202-331-4348, both of American Corn Growers Association, or email@example.com
Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign, for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
500 Wilbrod Street Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
tel. 613-565-8517 fax. 613-565-1596 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our website, http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html contains more information on genetic engineering as well as previous genetic engineering news items. Subscription fee to genetic engineering news is $35 (USD for those outside Canada) for 12 months, payable to "BanGEF" and mailed to the above address. Or see website for details.