11 May 2000

Table of Contents

USDA to validate biotech grain tests and accredit labs
Cohen: Direct result of genetic engineering: human sickness
Info-editorial on GM foods
GM medicine 'risks the lives of diabetics'
Biotechnology and Development Monitor
The Actual Evidence of Avery's Lie
Illegal genetic research exposed (NZ)
Genetic engineering will never cure cancer
Italy to Scientists: No GM Gelato
Genetic food warning labels denied
GE Foods: Science and Nature Don't Necessarily Mix
GeneWatch UK's new online database
Convention exposes rift over genetically altered foods
Panel discusses biotech food
(US) Food makers try odd ideas to win U.S. consumers
GEF for Cuba?
EMS and fibromyalgia
Greens victory in Anti-BioPiracy Case
Bees & GM

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Date: 5 May 2000 05:04:33 +0100

USDA to validate biotech grain tests and accredit labs

By Bill Tomson, BridgeNews May 5, 2000

Washington – May 4 – USDA Secretary Dan Glickman said Thursday that the department will help evaluate the testing of grains for genetically modified organisms, as well as provide accreditation for laboratories doing the testing.

* * *

Glickman said the USDA, through its Grain Inspection and Stockyards Administration, is preparing to do its part in President Clinton's biotechnology initiative, announced Wednesday.

The Clinton proposal would give the Food and Drug Administration more power to regulate genetically altered crops and allow producers to label food as GMO-free once it meets USDA-approved standards, which are being developed. The proposal would also allow the FDA to require a six-month evaluation period before the marketing of any biotech crop.

The USDA will hold a public comment period later this summer to gather feedback on how it should go about testing for genetically altered grains. End [Begin BridgeLinks]

Bill Tomson, Bridge News, Tel: 202-220-3730

Send comments to [End BridgeLinks]

© Copyright 2000 Bridge Information Systems Inc. All rights reserved.

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Date: 6 May 2000 08:17:02 +0100
From: "Ericka "
From: "David Rietz"
From: Robert Cohen

This week's New England Journal of Medicine (April 27, 2000, Vol. 342, No. 17) is more proof of biotechnology's failure.

Cohen: Direct result of genetic engineering: human sickness

By Robert Cohen

Friday, May 5

Today is the 181st day of my hunger strike and the 11th day of my drinking just water.

I have written about this story many times, but publication in a peer-reviewed journal now confirms what I have been saying for many years. This message bears repeating.

In 1989, Monsanto was aware that cows in test herds treated with the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone developed sores and lesions on their udders that were collectively called mastitis. Milk from rbST-treated cows contained increased levels of pus, blood, and virulent bacteria.

In order to deal with the problem, Monsanto's top dairy scientist, Margaret Miller, left the firm and became FDA's Monsanto "plant." Once at FDA, Dr. Miller arbitrarily changed the existing antibiotic standard. She increased by 100 times the allowable level of antibiotics that farmers could put into milk.

The consequences of her action were that new strains of bacteria developed in dairy cows that were immune to existing antibiotics, which no longer worked when they were needed. People drank milk containing increased amounts of antibiotics and new species of bacteria with immunities to those antimicrobials.

The latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine contains a study by Paul Fey, et al, confirming the emergence of a new strain of salmonella that was isolated from a 12-year-old boy who was admitted into a hospital with fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

That salmonella strain is resistant to a new wonder drug, Ceftriaxone, which has also been used on dairy cows. We wonder why few scientists have previously noted why wonder drugs are no longer so wonderful.

Sophisticated methods of plasmid analysis were performed on the bacteria obtained from the child and from the cattle, and they were found to be indistinguishable. In addition to the resistance to Ceftriaxone, the bacteria had developed resistance to thirteen other antibiotics.

The study raises extreme health concerns, and provides evidence that disease is directly related to antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella that have resulted from overdosed farm animals. Such errors do not develop in the natural scheme of things. This error is a direct result of Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone.

How much more evidence must FDA and Congress examine before government regulators once again show concern for the health and safety of the American people?

Robert Cohen

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Date: 6 May 2000 10:39:34 +0100
From: MichaelP
From: "Jim Riddle"

To whom it may concern - I will be in Ottawa, CN, at the Codex meeting May 5-11, and can be reached at 613-238-1616.


James A. Riddle and Joyce E. Ford
Rt. 3 Box 162-C, Winona, Minnesota, USA 55987-9514
Ph/Fax: 507-454-8310    E-mail:

Des Moines Register, Guest Editorial, May 4, 2000

Unanticipated Ecological Impacts
GE crops are bad for the U.S. economy:
GE crops are having a negative impact on family farmers:
Genetically engineered foods are being rejected by consumers:
Genetic engineering raises a host of unanswered questions:

My name is Jim Riddle. I am a native of Colfax, Iowa. I now live near Winona, MN. I have been an organic inspector for 14 years, and was founding president of the Independent Organic Inspectors Association. I have trained hundreds of organic inspectors worldwide. I am a member of the U.S. delegation to the Codex Commission on Food Labeling, and chair the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Organic Advisory Task Force.

I am writing today because I am very concerned about recent remarks made by Iowa Gov. Vilsak in support of genetic engineering. In this article, I will enumerate some of the environmental, economic, and societal concerns associated with the GE crops that have been released.

Unanticipated Ecological Impacts

Science is now showing that GE crops have unanticipated ecological impacts:

GE crops are bad for the U.S. economy:

GE crops are having a negative impact on family farmers:

Genetically engineered foods are being rejected by consumers:

Genetic engineering raises a host of unanswered questions:


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

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Date: 7 May 2000 02:49:07 +0100

GM medicine 'risks the lives of diabetics'

By Antony Barnett, Public Affairs Editor
Sunday May 7, 2000 The Observer,,6903,218250,

The lives of thousands of British diabetics were put at risk by multinational drug companies that 'intentionally and maliciously' suppressed information about the potentially lethal side-effects of a genetically engineered medicine, according to claims in US court documents.

An American lawsuit launched in April against two drug corporations will embarrass Tony Blair, who this year cited synthetic insulin as an example of the benefits of genetically modified technology in producing 'life-saving medicines'.

Yet lawyers representing a victim of the man-made insulin in a class action case in New Mexico claim the genetically engineered medicine leads to 'confusion, distress, coma and even death'. The diabetic bringing the case, Susan Kawulok, said the product caused 'unbearable pain and loss of most use of my arms'.

Although no evidence has yet been put to substantiate claims that the firms acted improperly, the case could send shock waves through the pharmaceutical industry, which has invested millions in genetically engineered products.

Diabetics do not naturally produce enough insulin - a vital hormone that controls the level of sugar in the blood. Hundreds of thousands of British diabetics have to inject insulin each day to survive. Until the Eighties, this insulin came from pigs or cattle, but US drugs giant Eli Lilly and a Danish company, Novo Nordisk, developed a synthetic insulin using genetic engineering. The new medicines were hailed as a scientific breakthrough and branded as 'human' insulin to distinguish them from the animal-derived product.

Some 150,000 diabetics in Britain were switched to the new medicine and currently around 500,000 use these products. Although most diabetics have never had problems with the genetically engineered insulin, a significant minority have complained of serious side-effects.

Unlike the case with natural insulin, some diabetics do not get any warning their blood sugar level has fallen and are more likely to go into comas, known as hypoglycaemic episodes or 'hypos'. Some become violent or pass out while driving.

In February, a diabetic, Mervyn Fletcher, crashed his car in Wolverhampton, killing his mother-in-law, a passenger. He blacked out and swerved, ploughing across a roundabout and shunting another car 20 yards along a grass verge. Only later when he took glucose tablets did he realise what had happened.

Fletcher, a diagnosed diabetic for 15 years, had kept his driving licence. But two years ago his doctor had switched him from animal insulin to the genetically engineered product. At the inquest, Fletcher said: 'I didn't get any warning. I was devastated afterwards that this had happened. I've lost my mother-in-law.'

Last June Alasdair Padmore, a diabetic civil servant, stabbed his friend through the heart during a 'hypo'. He was cleared of murder because of his condition. He 'fought like a man possessed' with police when they tried to arrest him and told them he had no recollection of the incident.

Scientists defending man-made insulin claim there is no scientific evidence it presents a particular risk, and both Eli Lilly and Novo Nordish deny it has harmful effects. But last year it emerged that the British Diabetic Association suppressed a report highlighting the problems of those using synthetic insulin. The report was never published in full because the association believed it was 'too alarmist'.

A spokesman for the British Diabetic Association said: 'We will be watching this case with great interest. It highlights the need for manufacturers to supply animal insulin for the many who need it to survive.'

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Date: 7 May 2000 16:24:13 +0100
From: "j.e. cummins"

Biotechnology and Development Monitor

May 7, 2000 Prof. Joe Cummins e-mail:

An Official device turning public relations trickery into `SCIENCE' approved by academe

I just received my copy of the March 2000 issue of Biotechnology and Development Monitor. That publication is from the Department of Political Science of the University of Amsterdam , it is funded by Netherlands's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Swedish Internal Development Cooperation Agency.

The publication promotes genetically modified (GM) crops to be used in developing countries. The magazine's e-mail: and its URL is please contact them to try to correct the misrepresentation in their publication. The article Organic myths: The retreat from science by Roger Bate (Bate is described a former Director of the European Science and Environment Forum) makes unfounded claims about organic agriculture and, funnily enough, try to palm off Dennis Avery as the author of a scientific study showing that people consuming organic food were eight times greater risk of contracting the potentially deadly E. coli (E coli O157). The article mysteriously deleted the reference to the alleged study and publication by Avery.

Most literate individuals now know that Dennis Avery publicized false claims such as that organic farmers employ manure harboring the toxic E coli. In fact organic standards require that manure be composted and composting eliminates E coli O157. Mainly the claim that Avery conducted a scientific study does not agree with comments in his articles and public statements that simply quotes a Center For Disease Control (CDC-USA)Report. My understanding is that the CDC-USA report cannot be located and its existence is not acknowledged by the government agency.

The editors of Biotechnology and Development Monitor should have checked to insure that Dennis Avery had conducted a peer reviewed scientific study on risks of consuming organic foods. Instead they seem to be involved in an effort to make the Avery study a legitimate scientific publication de novo. The Monitor as a publication of Amsterdam University seems to try to legitimize claims about a study of questionable origin. Please contact the Editors of Monitor to urge them to investigate the factual basis of the Bate report and the primary Avery report (presented as a peer reviewed scientific investigation). The Monitor should publish the facts in this matter.

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Date: 7 May 2000 16:56:25 +0100

The Actual Evidence of Avery's Lie

"j.e. cummins" WROTE:

Roger Bate tried to palm off Dennis Avery as the author of a scientific study showing that people consuming organic food were eight times greater risk of contracting the potentially deadly E. coli (E coli O157). The article mysteriously deleted the reference to the alleged study and publication by Avery.

Dear friends,

The first EVIDENCE of this LIE appeared in the Wall Street Journal on December 8, 1998. I wrote about it the following week.

20-20 did POOR research in having Avery on their show. I am sorry they did not read my column first.

Please use this to nail the LIARS to a wall. HERE IS MY ORIGINAL COLUMN OF 12/15/98

Dairy Education Board Newsletter


Many years ago I was a tourist in Jerusalem and stayed with a friend who lived near the Wailing Wall. I visited the same site at the famous wall twice each day for a week. Each time I came there I saw the same man praying. He reminded me of my uncle, but not being fluent in Hebrew, I held back my curiosity and did not approach him. On the day I was to leave the country I could no longer contain myself so I asked my Israeli friend to act as translator. I addressed my friend who turned to the old man and asked, "I have seen you come here to this same spot every day for a week. How long have you been doing this and what do you ask for in your prayers?" His Hebrew response was translated back to me. "I have come here every day for eleven years. I ask the Lord for peace. I ask that all men be brothers so that we can live together. Then I go home, have lunch and come back to pray again. In the afternoon I ask that the Lord cure all illness and make our foods healthy and nourishing."

I was impressed. I can remember that moment as if it had just happened. Perhaps that man had an influence on the work I do today. Before departing, I asked one last question of my friend. "Ask him how he feels to come here every single day for eleven years." My friend did just that and the old man turned to me and responded in perfect English: "I feel like I'm talking to a wall."

Well, if you read last week's column, you can see why I feel like I'm sometimes talking to a wall. Private industry, government and schools have been promoting a message that I feel to be unhealthy. Their message? Don't eat fresh fruits, vegetables or raw apple cider. What's next, organic foods? A few years ago a study came out claiming that canned fruits and vegetables contained more vitamins because they were processed at their peak of freshness while supposedly fresh produce might sit for a long time on supermarket shelves. That did not make sense to me then and it makes even less sense now. Last week, parents of my school were sent a letter advising them not to drink unpasteurized apple cider because of E. coli outbreaks, despite the fact that there has never been a case of E. coli in the state of New Jersey from drinking unpasteurized apple cider.


After writing my column I received a copy of an article that was published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). On page A22 of the 12/8/98 edition, a WSJ editor wrote:

"According to recent data complied by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), people who eat organic and "natural" foods are eight times as likely as the rest of the population to be attacked by a deadly strain of E. coli bacteria (0157:H7)."

I have learned not to trust everything I read, even in respected journals that represent the foundations of American business and science so I called CDC and was connected with spokeswoman Sharon Hoskins (404- 639-7290). "What's going on?" I asked. She had heard about this article in the WSJ and responded "CDC has never done such a study. This is pure unadulterated nonsense."

It took me a few days, but I got to the bottom of things. WSJ quoted an "authority" with an agenda, Dennis Avery. Mr. Avery has a long established reputation as a supporter of powerful pesticides. He is the author of "SAVING THE PLANET WITH PESTICIDES AND PLASTIC." Avery recently did an interview on a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation program criticizing organic farming because in his words: "Organic farmers use manure to fertilize their fruits and vegetables."

Avery was once a vocal supporter of DDT and wishes that we were still using it in America. The WSJ journalist made up his numbers and did not base them on fact. Wall Street Journal did an enormous disservice to its readers. I do not imagine that organic farmers are regular advertisers in WSJ but I do suppose that companies like Dow Chemical and Monsanto oftentimes exert their influence.

After calling WSJ I felt like I was "talking to a wall!"

Robert Cohen
Executive Director, Dairy Education Board

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Date: 7 May 2000 17:09:47 +0100

Illegal genetic research exposed (NZ)

Source: The Evening Post, 2000-05-05
New Zealand Press Association, © 2000, YellowBrix, Inc.

Victoria and Massey universities are among five research institutes recently uncovered performing illegal genetic engineering experiments.

Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma) has given New Zealand researchers less than three weeks to ensure all GE research is approved, or they will face fines.

At issue is a requirement under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act to obtain approval from Erma for GE research. Researchers had been carrying out low-risk GE experiments without approval, Erma chief executive Bas Walker said yesterday.

The other institutes were Waikato and Canterbury universities and Crown research institute Environmental Science and Research.

The discoveries followed an investigation into New Zealand's research institutes after it was revealed last month that unapproved GE research had occurred at Christchurch School of Medicine and Land Care's research centre in Auckland.

Dr Walker said Erma had suspended its delegated authorities to institutions to make their own approvals on low-risk genetic engineering, pending completion of its investigation.

* The ethical implications of genetic engineering will be discussed at a national conference in Wellington this weekend. The Erma conference at the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa will include sessions on religious, ecological, health, cultural, animal welfare and agricultural issues. - NZPA and Post reporter

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Date: 7 May 2000 21:02:11 +0100
From: "Gerard Owmby"

Genetic engineering will never cure cancer

Genetic engineering will never cure cancer. Drugs will never cure cancer. Killing animals will never cure cancer. I for one am not an advocate of "proper testing". The solution to the dilemma is to eradicate genetic engineering, embrace the proven formulas of Ayurveda, and not kill anything.

But this will require a magnitudinous world awakening as we watch the gene rats leave the sinking ship.

-- Gerard Owmby

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Date: 8 May 2000 02:38:53 +0100
From: Robert Mann

Italy to Scientists: No GM Gelato

Italy to Scientists: No GM Gelato (Technology 7:00 a.m. PDT),1282,36151,00.html?tw=wn20....

Italy's new Green agriculture minister declares war on genetically modified foods. He says he'll join forces with France to lobby the U.S. about the risks of GM foods. From the Environment News Service.

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

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Date: 8 May 2000 17:37:59 +0100

Genetic food warning labels denied

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, 2000-05-04

Genetically modified foods will not need to carry warning labels, the Clinton administration said Wednesday in a new policy applauded by the food industry.

"We think it's a very positive development," said Brian Sansoni of the Grocery Manufacturers of America. "Warning labels would imply a safety concern that isn't there."

Biotech opponent Charles Margulis of Greenpeace called the policy "an outrageous betrayal of the American people's trust in the government's oversight of our food supply."

At issue are hundreds of foods made from crops containing genes from other species. Genetically modified corn contains a bacteria gene that protects the crop from insect pests. Soybeans contain a petunia gene that enables the crop to withstand herbicides. Under development are genetically engineered animals such as lean pigs and fast-growing salmon.

Industry groups and the Food and Drug Administration say genetically modified foods are essentially the same as regular foods, and therefore require no special labels or safety tests. Biotech opponents say the foods haven't been proved safe because the FDA does not require they be studied for toxins or tested on lab animals.

Bills pending in the House and Senate would require manufacturers to label foods containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Three Illinois Democrats, Luis Gutierrez (Chicago), William Lipinski (Chicago) and Janice Schakowsky (Evanston), are among the 51 co- sponsors of the House bill, introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D- Ohio). A Time; CNN poll last year found that 81 percent of consumers believe genetically engineered food should be labeled as such.

The administration said it will develop guidelines for food companies that voluntarily disclose on the label whether their foods contain GMOs. Several natural food companies have begun promoting their products as GMO-free. The guidelines will ensure labels on such foods are "truthful and informative, rather than confusing," the administration said.

Similar guidelines have limited the marketing of milk that's free of genetically engineered growth hormones. Milk labels must state that tests can find no difference between regular milk and treated milk. The milk rule could be a good model for labels of GMO-free foods, Sansoni said.

Critics say the guidelines will discourage companies from labeling their foods GMO-free. "If you run a responsible food company that avoids genetically modified ingredients, FDA will make you jump through all kinds of hoops to inform your customers of that," Margulis said. "But if your company wants to hide its secret (GMO) ingredient from consumers, the FDA says `Fine.' "

The administration will require companies to notify the FDA four months before introducing new genetically modified crops or foods. The FDA will post safety data on its Web site, Currently, companies routinely notify the FDA on a voluntary basis.

Publication date: 2000-05-04 © 2000, YellowBrix, Inc.

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Date: 9 May 2000 05:37:34 +0100

GE Foods: Science and Nature Don't Necessarily Mix

May Issue of Journal of the American Chiropractic Association Explores Health Hazards of Genetically Altered Foods, Chiropractic and Occupational Health And The Frustration of Fibromy, May 9, 2000
Web site:

ARLINGTON, Va., May 8 /PRNewswire/ via NewsEdge Corporation -

GE foodw were introduced quietly
Chiropractic and Occupational Health
Fibromyalgia: Still No Silver Bullet

GE foodw were introduced quietly

Many genetically-engineered (GE) foods are released onto the market before adequate studies are done to test their risks to humans, according to the May 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Chiropractic Association (JACA). Alarmingly, scientists warn that the long-term health impacts of the novel genes introduced into these foods are impossible to predict, because they contain blueprints for proteins never previously consumed by humans in the quantities produced in GE crops, according to the article.

"According to most estimates, 60 to 70 percent of all processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients, including proteins previously absent from human diets," write Shirley Watson, DC, director of education for the American Chiropractic Association's (ACA) Council on Nutrition, and Barbara Keeler, a journalist and health and nutrition expert, in the JACA article. "Some hazards from the GE process could directly impact patients who ingest the food. Other hazards are indirect, operating through pollution of other food species or through unintended effects on local and global ecosystems."

Genetically engineered foods were quietly introduced into the marketplace in 1996. In the past four years, they have spread rapidly. Three varieties of soy, ten varieties of corn, papaya, yellow neck squash, canola, potatoes, tomatoes, dairy and animal products are already on the tables of most consumers – with more than a hundred expected soon.

Among the hazards of genetically engineered foods revealed in the article:

Getting Workers Back on the Job:

Chiropractic and Occupational Health

Each year, approximately 13.2 million workers sustain non-fatal injuries, such as low-back pain and fracture, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and 862,000 suffer from work-related illnesses – at a cost of $171 billion. Industry leaders are beginning to look for alternative methods to stem these rising health costs and deal with a rapidly changing workplace. The May 2000 JACA takes a look at occupational health and how chiropractic is a natural solution to these industrial-strength woes.

"About 70 percent of all workplace injuries and disorders involve the neuromusculoskeletal system," says Joseph Sweere, DC, chairman of the Department of Occupational Health at Northwestern Health Sciences University. "That's precisely the area of expertise for chiropractors. We have more technical skills and training than any other professional to prepare us for this role."

The article reports on the successes experienced by companies with on-site chiropractors who can educate employees on occupational health issues and help prevent work-related injuries before they occur. Also featured are factors that traditionally have not been taken into consideration when dealing with occupational health issues – factors that doctors of chiropractic are just now beginning to address – such as the use of anthropometrics, or measurement of body parts, to increase the understanding of how the human framework dictates the body's ability to efficiently exert force and leverage.

Since World War II, women have been steadily entering the job market and now constitute half the workforce. In addition, the workplace is made up increasingly of Asian and Hispanic workers, and employees are working long past the traditional age of retirement. In spite of these demographic changes, workstations and task assignments often remain as they have been for years – designed for the six-foot, 180-pound male.

Fibromyalgia: Still No Silver Bullet

There is still no simple cure for fibromyalgia, a rheumatic syndrome that causes pain in certain tender points in the body. However, the health care community is finally beginning to recognize that this frustrating and painful condition is very real, and doctors of chiropractic have been successful at helping many patients find relief, according to an article in the May issue of JACA.

In most cases, fibromyalgia symptoms interfere with normal daily activities, while some patients actually find themselves disabled by it. Patients can't know ahead of time how debilitating their illness will become. But much of what happens after fibromyalgia is diagnosed will depend on how willing patients are to work with their health care practitioners. For best results, they may have to make changes in how they move, eat, sleep and think.

"I've had patients who don't want to comply with an exercise program. They'd rather search for something that will make their condition just go away," says Urscia Mahring, DC, an ACA member who practices in Alexandria, VA. "I understand how they feel, but I have not come across any such 'silver bullets' for fibromyalgia."

The JACA article discusses how to spot fibromyalgia, as well as chiropractic's natural approach to this condition.

For a copy of the May issue of JACA, call the American Chiropractic Association at 800-986-4636.

SOURCE American Chiropractic Association

CONTACT: Teri Howell or Felicity Feather of American Chiropractic Association, 800-986-4636

Web site:

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Date: 9 May 2000 05:52:17 +0100
From: (Carol Kearney)

GeneWatch UK's new online database

GeneWatch UK's new online database contains information about genetically modified (GM) crops and food. Below is a brief list of the kinds of information you are likely to find at Details of all the crops which currently have experimental field trial

consents in the UK and those for which marketing consent has been applied for in Europe. How the crops have been genetically engineered - what new traits they have and exactly which gene constructs have been used to create these new traits.

Carol Kearney
Campaign Assistant, Real Food Campaign, Friends of the Earth
020 7566 1602 or 1716 (telephone) 020 7490 0881 (fax)

*****Check Out Our Web Site*****

REAL FOOD is food we can trust. It is free from contamination by antibiotics, pesticide residues, genetic modification, hormones, and pathogens such as e coli and salmonella. Real Food is produced on real farms, not factories. It is produced/processed locally and protects wildlife and the environment as well as human health.

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Date: 9 May 2000 15:04:53 +0100
From: Robert Mann

Convention exposes rift over genetically altered foods

Tucked behind the big Nabisco exhibit at this year's Food Marketing Institute convention in Chicago is a small, sedate booth where the product is policy. Visitors receive position papers, not cookies or beer or beef

Full Story:

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Date: 9 May 2000 15:04:53 +0100
From: Robert Mann

Panel discusses biotech food

Delegates from around the world begin meetings today in Ottawa take another stab at creating United Nations-approved rules for labeling genetically modified foods.

Full Story:

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Date: 9 May 2000 23:31:27 +0100
From: "Maynard S. Clark"

(US) Food makers try odd ideas to win U.S. consumers

ingredient as companies raced to cash in on recent health claims. Studies show adults who eat a total of 25 grams daily of soy protein could see a significant lowering of their cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart disease. Alongside the more traditional soy burgers and milk were flavored tofu spreads, soy loaves and soy cheese. CONVENIENT, BUT NOT TOO CONVENIENT"

"Thomas Hoban, a sociology professor at North Carolina State University who has researched Americans' attitudes toward genetically modified food, said U.S. consumers generally trust regulatory agencies to ensure a safe food supply and place little faith in anti-biotech activists seeking to ban genetically modified crops."

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Date: 10 May 2000 01:23:26 +0100
From: Robert Mann

GEF for Cuba?

Hey yanks

I just heard on the BBC that a US Senate cttee has voted that the embargo on selling food to Cuba should be ended.

Isn't it likely that this recommendation, if adopted, would be used to dump surplus GEF on the despised Communists?

Face it - McCarthyism is always just below the surface in the USA.

Take a look in the DC phone book. Aren't any of those numerous 'Center For . . . ' outfits on this case? It's your government that's been trying to break Communism by its sustained ban on trade with Cuba, so we should be careful before we accept that this long-time McCarthyism is really ending.

This same concern of export dumping arose a couple months ago with respect to food aid to the starving. No news on that? Anybody looking into these rather obvious concerns please?


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

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Date: 10 May 2000 04:09:05 +0100
From: Robert Mann


Snuck onto the end of a good piece on GEF was the chiropractic propaganda reproduced below.

I happen to have been looking into the Showa Denko tryptophan disaster for many months. One detail of that fascinating history is that, before the new disease got named (eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome) in 1989, cases of EMS were called various pre-existing names. One of these names is used in the chiropractic stuff: fibromyalgia.

I am not a medico, but I have numerous good contacts in their realm, and continue to cooperate with med-sch colleagues. I can assure you that "fibromyalgia" is printed thus, in inverted commas, by leading rheumatologists. That the chiropractors use it as if it were a valid, respectable category in diagnosis reflects on their understanding of medicine. But then, I was never convinced by that latter.

Anyways, what is the point of drawing attention to a dubious illness which you then confess you haven't a treatment for? Do you get people hooked on endless useless therapy sessions, as some psychiatrists have done?

Your scientific reputation will not do well if you go on saying bacillicus thuringiensis when you mean Bacillus thuringiensis. Some members of the genus Bacillus are pathogens, and scientific names are worth getting right anyhow.

I for one dislike insertion of such irrelevancies as this "fibromyalgia" furphy on this Ban-GEF list. Please, chiros, no more propaganda. You have a superior grasp of GEF, judging by that good summary piece. Please join us in opposing GEF, but please don't sneak in irrelevant stuff.


See GE Foods: Science and Nature Don't Necessarily Mix

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Date: 10 May 2000 07:19:28 +0100
From: "j.e. cummins"

EMS and fibromyalgia

EMS is the disease caused by consuming GM tryptophan. The paper below from a highly reputable medical facility shows that there is a scientific basis for relating EMS and fibromyalgia.

There were several hundred abstracts on fibromyalgia in medical journals in a scan of the medline between 1994 and 2000. "Is there any relationship between eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS) and fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS)? An analysis of clinical and immunological data." [In Process Citation]

Adv Exp Med Biol 1999;467:487-496 (ISSN: 0065-2598)

Barth H; Berg PA; Klein R
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Tübingen, Germany.

The eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) caused by intake of contaminated L-tryptophan resembles in its clinical presentation the fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). We, therefore, analysed clinical and immunological parameters in 16 patients with chronic EMS and 100 patients with FMS in order to see whether there may be a relationship between both disorders.

From 12 FMS patients and 12 controls also peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were obtained. Myalgia and arthralgia was observed in chronic EMS in the same incidence as in patients with FMS (81%). Also antibodies to serotonin, gangliosides and phospholipids were present in both groups. In vitro stimulation of PBMC with different L-tryptophan preparations revealed in six of the 12 FMS patients but only two of the control individuals a production of type 2 cytokines (IL-5, IL-10). We, therefore, conclude that EMS may have developed in patients suffering primarily from FMS as an allergic reaction towards a more immunogenic L-tryptophan preparation.

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Date: 10 May 2000 08:26:48 +0100
From: "Ericka "


---May 4, 2000---


Environmental Research Foundation
P.O. Box 5036, Annapolis, MD 21403
Fax (410) 263-8944; E-mail:

The agricultural biotechnology industry's situation is desperate and deteriorating. To be sure, genetically engineered (GE) food is still selling briskly on grocery shelves in the U.S. but probably only because GE products are not labeled, so consumers have no idea what they're buying.

At present, an estimated 2/3rds of all products for sale in U.S. grocery stores contain genetically engineered (GE) crops, none of which are labeled as such.[1] However, polls show that U.S. consumers overwhelmingly want GE foods labeled. In a TIME magazine poll in January, 1999, 81 percent of respondents said genetically engineered foods should be labeled.[2] A month earlier, a poll of U.S. consumers by the Swiss drug firm Novartis had found that more than 90% of the public wants labeling.[3] The NEW YORK TIMES reported late last year that a "biotech industry poll" showed that 93% of Americans want genetically engineered foods labeled.[4] Legislation requiring labels on GE foods was introduced into Congress last November by a bi-partisan group of 20 legislators.[5]

For five years the GE food industry has been saying GE foods couldn't be labeled because it would require segregating GE from non-GE crops – a practical impossibility, they said. However, in December, 1999, Monsanto announced that it had developed a new strain of rapeseed (a crop used to make canola cooking oil) that might raise the levels of vitamin A in humans.[6] How could consumers identify (and pay a premium price for) such a product if it weren't labeled? Obviously labeling will become possible – indeed, essential – when it serves the interests of the biotech corporations.

Many food suppliers seem to have figured out for themselves how to segregate GE crops from non-GE. According to the NEW YORK TIMES, Kellogg's, Kraft Foods, McDonald's, Nestle USA, and Quaker Oats all sell gene-altered foods in the U.S. but not overseas.[7] Gerber and H.J. Heinz announced some time ago that they have managed to exclude genetically modified crops from their baby foods.

For its part, the U.S. government has steadfastly maintained that labeling of GE foods is not necessary – and might even be misleading – because traditional crops and GE crops are "substantially equivalent." For example, the government has maintained that Monsanto's "New Leaf" potato – which has been genetically engineered to incorporate a pesticide into every cell in the potato, to kill potato beetles – is substantially equivalent to normal potatoes, even though the New Leaf potato is, itself, required to be registered as a pesticide with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (See REHW #622.)

Now the government's position has become untenable. In February of this year, the government signed the international BioSafety Protocol, a treaty with 130 other nations, in which all signatories agree that genetically modified crops are significantly different from traditional crops. Thus with the swipe of a pen, the U.S. government has now formally acknowledged that GE crops are not "substantially equivalent" to traditional crops.

Meanwhile, a groundswell of consumer protest reached a crescendo last year in England and Europe, then spread to Japan and the U.S. where it has severely eroded investor confidence in the industry. Major U.S. firms that had invested heavily in the technology are now being forced to pull back. As we reported earlier (REHW #685), Monsanto, Novartis, and AstraZeneca all announced in early January that they are turning away from – or abandoning entirely – the concept of "life sciences" – a business model that combines pharmaceuticals and agricultural products. The NEW YORK TIMES reported in January that American Home Products – a pharmaceutical giant – "has been looking for a way to unload its agricultural operations." At that time the TIMES also said, "Analysts have speculated that Monsanto will eventually shed its entire agricultural operation."[8] In late February, DuPont announced that it was returning to its traditional industrial chemical business to generate profits. The WALL STREET JOURNAL said February 23, "But the big plans DuPont announced for its pharmaceuticals and biotech divisions fizzled as consolidation changed the landscape, and investor enthusiasm cooled in the face of controversy over genetically engineered crops."[9]

Investors are not the only ones turning away from genetically engineered foods. The WALL STREET JOURNAL announced in late April that "fast-food chains such as McDonald's Corp. are quietly telling their french-fry suppliers to stop using" Monsanto's pesticidal New Leaf potato. "Virtually all the [fast food] chains have told us they prefer to take nongenetically modified potatoes," said a spokesperson for the J.M. Simplot Company of Boise, Idaho, a major potato supplier.[10] The JOURNAL also reported that Procter and Gamble, maker of Pringles potato chips, is phasing out Monsanto's pesticidal potato. And Frito-Lay – which markets Lay's and Ruffles brands of potato chips – has reportedly asked its farmers not to plant Monsanto's GE potatoes. A spokesperson for Burger King told the WALL STREET JOURNAL that it is already using only traditional potato varieties. A spokesperson for Hardees, the restaurant chain, told the WALL STREET JOURNAL that Hardees is presently using Monsanto's pesticidal potato but is considering whether to abandon it.

Earlier this year, Frito Lay also told its corn farmers to abandon genetically-modified varieties of corn for use in Doritos, Tostitos, and Fritos.[7]

According to the NEW YORK TIMES, U.S. farmers have sustained a serious financial blow because they adopted genetically engineered crops so rapidly. In 1996, the U.S. sold $3 billion worth of corn and soybeans to Europe. Last year, those exports had shrunk to $1 billion – a $2 billion loss. The seed sellers like Monsanto and DuPont got their money from the farmers, so it is the farmers who have taken the hit, not the ag biotech firms. [11]

The WALL STREET JOURNAL reported April 28 that, "American farmers, worried by the controversy, are retreating from the genetically modified seed they raced to embrace in the 1990s... government and industry surveys show that U.S. farmers plan to grow millions fewer acres of genetically modified corn, soybeans and cotton than they did last year."[10]

The ag biotech firms dispute this assessment. They say demand for genetically modified crops has never been better. Less than a year ago Robert Shapiro, the chief executive officer of Monsanto, said bravely, "This is the single most successful introduction of technology in the history of agriculture, including the plow."[12] This year a spokesperson for Monsanto says, "We're seeing a very stable market. There's no major step backward; it's now a matter of how much we'll grow." [11] But Gary Goldberg, president of the American Corn Growers Association, told the NEW YORK TIMES recently that he believes that genetically modified (GM) corn plantings will be down about 16% this year, compared to last. He indicated that the ag biotech firms are resorting to deception to maintain sales: "The [ag biotech] companies are deceiving farmers into thinking their neighbors are planting G.M.," he told the NEW YORK TIMES.[11]

In coming days, genetically engineered (GE) food is likely to get more attention from the public. Last month the National Academy of Sciences issued a report confirming what critics have been saying about GE crops: they have the potential to produce unexpected allergens and toxicants in food, and the potential to create far-reaching environmental effects, including harm to beneficial insects, the creation of super-weeds, and possibly adverse effects on soil organisms.

The Academy said there was no firm evidence that GE foods on the market now have harmful effects on humans or the environment, but the Academy also indicated that testing procedures to date have been woefully deficient.[13] Indeed, the present regulatory system is voluntary, not mandatory, so it is possible that the government may not even know about all of the genetically engineered foods being sold in the U.S. today.

The Academy pointed out that roughly 40 GE food products have, so far, been approved for sale in the U.S. but approvals have also been given for an additional 6,700 field trials of genetically modified plants.[13,pg.35] And a NEW YORK TIMES story May 3 about super-fast-growing GE salmon noted that "a menagerie of other genetically modified animals is in the works.... Borrowing genes from various creatures and implanting them in others, scientists are creating fast-growing trout and catfish, oysters that can withstand viruses and an 'enviropig,' whose feces are less harmful to the environment because they contain less phosphorus."[14]

The TIMES went on to say that, "...[C]ritics and even some Clinton administration officials say genetically engineered creatures are threatening to slip through a net of federal regulations that has surprisingly large holes.... United States regulators interviewed could not point to any federal laws specifically governing the use or release of genetically engineered animals."

The Clinton/Gore administration announced last week that it will "strengthen" the regulatory system for genetically engineered foods but said the new regulations will definitely not require GE products to carry a label, despite overwhelming public demand for labels. Thus the government's latest regulatory initiative makes one thing crystal clear: what the Clinton/Gore administration and the biotech companies fear most is an informed public.

It will take years before anyone knows what the new regulations entail, or how effective they prove to be. By that time, there may have been hundreds of genetically modified plants and animals introduced into the environment with little or no regulatory oversight. The public is legitimately concerned about this.

In response to these legitimate concerns, the biotech corporations have begun to spend tens of millions of dollars on a public relations campaign because "the public has the right to know more about the benefits of biotechnology." Details next week.



  1. Carey Goldberg, "1,500 March in Boston to Protest Biotech Food," NEW YORK TIMES March 27, 2000, pg. A14.

  2. Marian Burros, "Eating Well; Different Genes, Same Old Label," NEW YORK TIMES September 8, 1999, pg. F5.

  3. Marian Burros, "Eating Well; Chefs Join Effort to Label Engineered Food," NEW YORK TIMES December 9, 1998, pg. F14.

  4. Marian Burros, "U.S. Plans Long-term Studies on Safety of Genetically Altered Foods," NEW YORK TIMES July 14, 1999, pg. A18.

  5. David Barboza, "Biotech Companies Take On Critics of Gene-Altered Food," NEW YORK TIMES November 12, 1999, pg. A1.

  6. Bloomberg News, "New Crop is Said to Aid Nutrition," NEW YORK TIMES December 10, 1999, pg. C20.

  7. "Eating Well; What Labels Don't Tell You (Yet)," NEW YORK TIMES February 9, 2000, pg. F5.

  8. David J. Morrow, "Rise and Fall of 'Life Sciences'; Drugmakers Scramble to Unload Agricultural Units," NEW YORK TIMES January 20, 2000, pg. C1.

  9. Susan Warren, "DuPont Returns to More-Reliable Chemical Business – Plans for Biotech, Drug Divisions Fizzle as Mergers Change Landscape," WALL STREET JOURNAL February 23, 1000, pg. B4.

  10. ] Scott Kilman, "McDonald's, Other fast-Food Chains Pull Monsanto's Bio-Engineered Potato," WALL STREET JOURNAL April 28, 2000, pg. B4.

  11. ] David Barboza, "In the Heartland, Genetic Promises," NEW YORK TIMES March 17, 2000, pg. C1.

  12. ] David Barboza, "Monsanto Faces Growing Skepticism On Two Fronts," NEW YORK TIMES August 5, 1999, pg. C1.

  13. ] National Research Council, GENETICALLY MODIFIED PEST-PROTECTED PLANTS: SCIENCE AND REGULATION (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2000). ISBN 0309069300. Pre-publication copy available at

  14. ] Carol Kaesuk Yoon, "Altered Salmon Leading Way to Dinner Plates, But Rules Lag," NEW YORK TIMES May 1, 2000, pg. A1.


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. Environmental Research Foundation provides this electronic version of RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY free of charge even though it costs the organization considerable time and money to produce it. We would like to continue to provide this service free. You could help by making a tax-deductible contribution (anything you can afford, whether $5.00 or $500.00). Please send your tax-deductible contribution to: Environmental Research Foundation, P.O. Box 5036, Annapolis, MD 21403-7036. Please do not send credit card information via E-mail. For further information about making tax-deductible contributions to E.R.F. by credit card please phone us toll free at 1-888-2RACHEL, or at (410) 263-1584, or fax us at (410) 263-8944.

– Peter Montague, Editor

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 10 May 2000 16:04:38 +0100

Greens victory in Anti-BioPiracy Case


Brussels, 10 May 2000

European Patent Office Rejects Neem Tree Patent

Greens Victory in Anti-BioPiracy Patent Case

The European Patent Office in Munich today upheld objections from the Green Group in the European Parliament to a patent granted in 1994 to the transnational W.R. Grace company and the US Department of Agriculture for a claimed invention of the fungicidal properties of the Indian Neem tree. The Examining Division held that the technique used was well-known to local farmers, lacked any inventive step and that such indigenous knowledge could therefore not be patented.

The case was brought in the name of Magda Aelvoet, at that time President of the Greens in the Parliament and now the Belgian Environment Minister, together with the Indian Research Foundation led by Vandana Shiva and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). The Neem tree has been used for centuries by Indians for its medicinal insecticidal and contraceptive properties and is known locally as the 'free tree'. It is also venerated in the culture, religions, and literature of the region.

Green MEP Hiltrud Breyer (Germany) said "This action was brought to illustrate how the patent system is being abused by companies and even by governments from the North. Genetic resources, which are freely available in the South are being expropriated without reward or recognition for their traditional custodians. We have long warned of the iniquities of such licensed theft. This is Biopiracy at its crudest."

"We know of around 40 other Neem patent applications at various stages in the European Patent Office, and there are about 90 such patents world-wide" commented Paul Lannoye MEP (Belgium), Co-President of the Greens/EFA Group. "At a time when national authorities are supposed to be transposing the EU Biotech. Patent Directive into law, there is renewed concern at the obvious defects in intellectual property rules and we must take this opportunity to protect genetic resources from such uncontrolled privatisation."

European Parliament - room PHS 2C85
rue Wiertz, 1047 Brussels, Belgium
ph: 32 2 284 51 35, fax : 32 2 284 91 35
email :    http//:

Top PreviousFront Page

Date: 10 May 2000 22:14:31 +0100
From: Robert Mann

Bees & GM

As an amateur beekeeper of a decade's experience, I feel this U of Fla bulletin is a distinctly mixed bag (even ignoring Shapiro!).

I'm glad to see the UCS website recommended; along with they're a top scientific site.

But I do think the hazards to bees are understated somewhat in this item.

I can imagine several ways for bees to be harmed by GM plants. The most obvious is implied by the Losey et al. expts at Cornell proving that pollen from Bt corn killed monarch caterpillars. Pollen is the main feed for honey-bee larvae, so I would be surprised if they are not harmed by Bt pollen.

I am very sceptical of the notion 'transgenic technology could well allow for development of plants particularly attractive to honey bees'.


Transgenic Plants And Bees: Further Implications

Dr. Guy Poppy, research entomologist at Institute of Arable Crops Research (IACR) Rothamsted, UK, has written an editorial concerning transgenic plants and honey bees in Bee World (Vol. 78, Nol 4, 1998). I reported on this phenomenon in both the January 1998 and February 1998 APIS .

Indeed, it is so prevalent that the suggestion has been made I make a separate topical index for this issue alone on the APIS web site

The purpose of his editorial is to provide a "more complete" account of the implications of this technology, according to Dr. Poppy. He recognizes several kinds of genetically modified crops, both insect-resistant and herbicide-resistant varieties. Significantly, in studies of the former where protein inhibitors are used, there is no effect on bees until the dose tested is 100 times that found in genetically modified crops, and these were not detectable in nectar and pollen. Dr. Poppy also mentions that use of insect-resistant crops can lead to reduced pesticide use and less subsequent damage to honey bees and other nontarget organisms. Any risk from transgenic crops, therefore, must also be weighed against those posed by conventional insecticide use.

Several risks involved in transgenic technology could affect humans/bees, Dr. Poppy says. One is the use of antibiotic-resistant genes that could lead to development of antibiotic resistance pathogens elsewhere. Thus, advisory committees are now recommending that alternatives be developed to obviate this risk. Another problem involves flow of pollen (genes) vectored by bees from transgenic plant species through hybridization to those that humans don't want to be resistant, so-called "weedy" species. Finally, attractiveness of nectar to honey bees and usefulness of pollen from transgenic crops is also a concern. As a direct benefit, Dr. Poppy says transgenic technology could well allow for development of plants particularly attractive to honey bees.

In a related article in The Futurist, April 1999, Robert Shapiro, CEO of Monsanto Corporation, discusses the use of transgenic organisms in "How Genetic Engineering Will Save Our Planet." With an increasing population that wants to eat better, Mr. Shapiro says that new technology is the only alternative to two possible disasters: not feeding people or causing ecological catastrophe. This is because humans cannot continue to increase yields with what he calls "stuff:" pesticides, fertilizers, etc. He says it is impossible to greatly increase stuff on this finite planet, but it is possible to do so with the stuffis information component.

This includes the genetic material DNA, which is information at a basic but important level. He predicts that in the early 21st century there will be a struggle between information technology (biotechnology) on the one hand and environmental degradation on the other. This appears to be a variation of saying that working smarter, not harder will be more efficient. As Mr. Shapiro concludes, the substitution of information for stuff is essential to sustainability

The Union of Concerned Scientists has developed a World Wide Web site that discusses the risks and benefits of biotechnology. It describes the process as going beyond traditional plant and animal breeding, and a radically new technology for altering the traits of living organisms by adding genetic material that has been manipulated outside of cells.

Since gene transfer occurs by artificial means without regard to natural boundaries, genetic engineering permits combinations of genes and traits not found in nature, the site says. The technology, therefore, allows scientists to rearrange and modify genetic material before transfer and may one day encompass the routine addition of novel genes that have been wholly synthesized in the laboratory

In conclusion, Dr. Poppy says honey bees are so far being carefully considered in the debate on the environmental impact of genetically modified plants or organisms (GMOs). As yet, there have been no serious effects discovered affecting honey bees when working with real plants or diets containing naturally occurring levels of the foreign protein found in transgenic plants. However, it is important to understand that the insects encounter the whole transgenic plant, Dr. Poppy says, not just a single or subset of proteins, and this must be taken into consideration.

Thus, it is vital to consider all facts about GMOs when determining the possible benefits and/or potential detrimental effects. Therefore, Dr. Poppy says, it is imperative that more research is undertaken on honey bee-transgenic plant interactions. We must try to ensure that ecological studies do not become the poor cousin of biotechnological ones.

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