Date: 25 May 2000 02:44:37 +0100
GM food: special report
By John Vidal and James Meikle, The Guardian, Thursday May 25, 2000
International seed suppliers and scientists last night admitted that contamination of crops by genetic modification was probably widespread, threatening to further undermine the government's claim that it is in control of the spread of the new technology.
French suppliers of seed for Britain's maize crop have said they cannot guarantee it is free of GM material, while US testers warned that much of the American conventional seed supply may have been contamination by GM pollen.
Greenpeace, the environmental campaigners, raised the stakes further by claiming that 5% to 15% of the European maize crop might be contaminated - an allegation denied by seed companies.
An article in today's New Scientist reports that low level contamination of seeds sold to Europe appears widespread. Pioneer Hi-Bred, the world's largest supplier of GM and conventional seeds, acknowledged that a low level of mingling between the types was "inevitable".
"In 1998 the UK imported 491,000 tonnes of soya beans from North America. If 1% was GM, roughly 5,000 tonnes of GM soya beans were imported", says New Scientist.
A spokesman for the Brussels-based European Seed Association said yesterday that there had been one or two incidents last year when conventional maize had been found to be contaminated with GM.
"Everyone knew about it", said a spokesman, Garlich von Essen."There was no legal provision for this so French growers guaranteed there was not more than 1%. The guarantee does not mean there is GM, but it guarantees there is not more than 1%." France supplies most of the UK's maize seeds, said Mr Essen. He denied Greenpeace's claim of up to 15% contamination.
US scientists added to the furore by saying there was "widespread" GM contamination of all conventional seeds. "It's across the board", said Cheryl Ryan of Genetic-ID, a private firm which screens agricultural produce for GM contamination.
"Some US companies have taken great strides to eliminate contamination. But up to 50% of the seeds we test can be contaminated", she said.
"The level of contamination can be up to 2%. "We've seen this level but we cannot say if they are samples from small seed producers or large."
Charlie Kronick, of Greenpeace, said: "The government should stop plotting with industry about how to allow contamination and instead act to eliminate the pollution."
The deputy prime minister John Prescott told the Commons there was no evidence that Britain had suffered from any imports of contaminated seed after last week's revelation that thousands of acres of oilseed rape containing GM material had been unwittingly planted by UK farmers.
But last night the Ministry of Agriculture could not say how much seed Britain imported to grow its 11.6m acres of crops, or name the major sources of supply, except for maize grown on about 110,000 acres for animal feed or sweetcorn. This came mainly from France, the US and Spain.
Since there is as yet no testing in Britain, no one knows the extent of the problem. The ministry's central science laboratory in York will start random sampling on June 1.
Mr Prescott said yesterday the government had responded as quickly as possible to the oilseed rape "mix-up". He told Tory backbencher Robert Syms, he had "no evidence and no information" about other crops "and you can be assured that if we do have some information, we shall certainly be telling the house about it".
The Tory agriculture spokesman Tim Yeo said he was "deeply concerned" by the revelations and demanded quick answers from the agriculture minister Nick Brown.
"A delay of the sort which followed the German warning about oilseed rape communicated to the British government on April 17 will mean confidence in Labour's handling of GM issues is destroyed."
The Ministry of Agriculture insisted the measures the government was taking , including trials of "real" GM crops before they can be sold , were strong compared to other countries but admitted "from time to time GM seed might be found in conventional seed".
"We are seeking concerted international action to have new standards for seed purity."
The latest problems for the government follow disclosures that the European Seed Association had this week faxed letters to EU governments stepping up the pressure for international rules that would allow for the accidental cross-contamination of seeds by up to 1%, the same percentage of GM material that is allowed in foods before they have to be declared as containing GM ingredients. At present, there are no regulations.
Date: 25 May 2000 06:15:52 +0100
From: wytze firstname.lastname@example.org
Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Here is the industry letter that's trying to get GM contaminated seeds accepted as GM FREE and some suggestions for IMMEDIATE ACTION
A couple of interesting quotes from the letter. Quote (1) indicates that a policy of allowing GM contaminated seed to pass as GM free is already being operated with maize seed; and (2) indicates that it is the complacency of the UK and other authorities that is making this seed industry pitch possible.
Michael Meacher on the radio this morning indicated that seed purity levels were not a matter for him but for consumers and he went on to say: we need to know what consumers consider gm free - PERHAPS WE HAD BETTER LET THEM KNOW
IT IS VITAL THAT WE LET THE GOVERNMENT KNOW THAT ZERO CONTAMINATION IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE PURITY LEVEL AND IT IS TIME TO FOLLOW SWEDEN IN DIGGING UP ANY CONTAMINATED CROPS
Writing via your MP and MEP is probably the most effective means. PLEASE GET WRITING!
You can also write directly to Michael Meacher at Eland House, Bressenden Place, London, SW1E 5DU. Telephone: 020 7944 3000
or the Prime Minister The Right Honourable Tony Blair 10 Downing Street London SW1A 2AA Tel : 0171 930 4433
It may also be useful to support the opposition parties in opposing the threshold: Conservative Party (Central Office) Tel : 0171 222 9000 Liberal Democrats (Head Office) Tel : 0171 222 7999
European Seed Associations (ESA)
ESA position on The presence of GMO in non-GM rape seed of ADVANTA
Members of European Parliament Committee for Agriculture Members of European Parliament Committee for Environment and Consumer Protection Governments of EU Member States Ministries of Agriculture of EU Member States European Commission; Commissioners Fischler, Byrne, Wallstrom European Commission; Directorate General SANCO, Mr Del Bino Mr Bernard le Buanec FIS/ASSINSEL (c/o FIS Rome)
With a view to the current discussion about the presence of GMO in non-GMO rape seed in the UK, France, Germany and Sweden and the debate within European as well as national politics whether or not to this event does pose a serious threat to the environment and/or consumer protection, the ESA European Seed Association, representing all European seed industry would like to point to the following facts:
- Already in October / November 1999, ESA/COSEMCO had urged the Commission to come up with concrete proposals for thresholds for the "adventitious presence" of GMO in non-GMO seed for all different crops. A respective official letter was send to the responsible Commission service, which at that time was with Directorate General VI Agriculture and has now been transferred to Directorate General SANCO Health and Consumer Protection. In this letter, ESA also pointed to the possibility of using the already agreed 1% threshold for the compulsory labelling of GMO food products as a reference also for seeds. So far, ESA has not received an official reply from the Commission. In a reaction to the rape issue the authorities in the United Kingdom and other affected Member States now confirm that regulatory provisions are urgently needed.
- In various talks with the Commission, ESA representatives ?in particular of the ESA Working Group eGMO thresholdsi- have emphasised that situations are likely to occur, in which traces of GMO will be found in non-GMO seed and goods. This merely constitutes common sense since a completely separated production of GMO and non-GMO varieties as well as their separate use is not only unrealistic but also does not seem necessary if the GMO varieties have been cleared for production by the responsible national and European authorities. At the same time, it is obvious that a set of rules is needed to regulate when and how and with what consequence testing of seed and goods for the adventitious presence of GMO in non-GMO production is to be carried out.
In its White Paper on Food Safety [COM (1999) fin. Of 12.01.2000], the Commission has announced respective legislative activity [in particular v. annex, no. 77., of the White Paper] but so far no official consultation with the seed industry has taken place and no draft legislative proposal has been discussed.
- In order to compensate for this lack of a concrete, clear and usable legislative environment, the French Seed Association has agreed a voluntary common standard of a 1% threshold for the adventitious presence of GMO in non-GMO maize seed. This threshold has been agreed as a "code of conduct" and is guaranteed by all French and international maize breeders for all maize seed produced and sold to customers. This French position has been endorsed by COSEMCO and with that by all European seed associations of the European Union. It is therefore to be expected that this voluntary code of conduct is currently being applied by all seed companies for the sale of maize seed in Europe.
Still, ESA European Seed Associations is of the opinion that only a respective legislative environment providing for differentiated thresholds according to crops and a common testing and measuring standard will guarantee the free movement of seed within the European Union including imports into and exports from the EU as well as safeguard the interests of farmers, food industry and consumers.
- Concerning the immediate reaction to the current event, ESA firmly believes that a common, i.e. European position is to be taken. A different approach by the four governments of Germany, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom, e.g. with a view to the further growing, harvesting, marketing and further use of the concerned rape would lead to further uncertainties for all concerned parties, i.e. seed industry, farmers, food and feed industry and the consumers. ESA therefore again urges the Commission to fulfil its obligation expressed in the White Paper on Food Safety and ?after consultation with industry- to present legislative proposals for differentiated thresholds according to crop for the adventitious presence of GMO in non-GMO products, including a proposal for standardised and non-discriminatory testing methods and schemes.
At the same time, ESA is of the opinion that a destruction of the concerned rape or its products would be out of proportion since only traces of far less than 1% of GMO have been detected and with that the possible food products derived would under current EU legislation qualify for non-labelling as containing GMO. Furthermore, large areas of the concerned GMO rape variety are currently grown in Canada without any indication as being harmful to either the environment or public health.
The authorities in the United Kingdom and other countries involved have confirmed that these minor levels of GMO impurities present neither health nor environmental risks.
For any comments, further information or discussion, ESA remains at your disposal.
With kind regards,
Joachim Winter, - Secretary General
Date: 25 May 2000 09:55:23 +0100
Not the first time for this article, but a couple of updated points,from
Jim Mc Nulty
By PA news reporters
Greenpeace claims between 5% and 15% of the European maize crop planted this year is contaminated with genetically modified organisms.
And they immediately called on the government to identify, contain and destroy all contaminated crops and seeds.
The latest row over GMOs follows the disclosure that on May 22 and 23 the European Seed Association sent faxed copies of a letter about GM contamination to a variety of public bodies, including the European Commission, EU governments and MEPs on the agriculture and environment committees of the European Parliament.
In this letter there is a two-line reference to a problem with the European maize crop.
Greenpeace said they understood that for the maize seed planted this year, a total crop area of up to 975,000 hectares across the EU was affected.
There was also a lesser degree of contamination of the 1999 planting of maize in Europe and illegal GMOs entered the food chain as a result.
UK and European Commission officials have been meeting seed industry representatives to try to establish voluntary rules that would allow up to 1% of any batch of seeds to be GM contaminated.
At present European rules allow zero contamination of GM seeds.
Greenpeace said by changing these rules widespread commercial growing of GM would be given official blessing, in contravention of clear government promises to the contrary. This is a monumental breach of public trust. In the face of a major GM outbreak that will affect farmers, consumers and the environment, the Government have turned for support to the very GM industry that caused the problem. They handed them what they have always wanted: permission to pollute. The Government should immediately stop plotting with industry about how to
Shadow agriculture minister Tim Yeo urged Agriculture Minister Nick Brown to give to the latest claims that GM contaminated maize seed had inadvertently been planted over hundreds of thousands of hectares of EU farmland. about the claim. It now appears that another crop may contain significant amounts of he added.
He demanded to know what action the Government was taking to establish whether it posed a threat to the environment and what steps have been taken to warn farmers whose crops may now be affected. After Nick Brown's month-long cover-up of the seeds of contaminated oilseed rape, a full explanation must be given today. A delay of the sort which followed the Germans' warning about oilseed rape communicated to the British Government on April 17, will mean that public
Date: 25 May 2000 11:06:16 +0100
From: "Gerard Owmby" email@example.com
I believe Prince Charles has the right approach. Here is an excerpt from a wonderful speech by Bryon Rigby that underscores Prince Charles' remarks.
by Byron Rigby, MBBS MRCPsych, President, Australian Association of Ayur-Vedic Medicine
The crisis of genetic engineering is not a crisis of biological science, it is a crisis of consciousness. What kind of consciousness can knowingly perpetrate the dangerous interventions in life that we have detailed in this article and in this edition? One can't talk to such people. Closed off, hermetically sealed from the world of other people's lives, concerns, rights, and safety, their response is unreachably self-interested and overconfident. The mind is blinkered, the imagination extinguished. Only by a transformation of consciousness can such a mind be awakened to the reality of what it is doing.
And it is not a matter of individual consciousness. It is a matter of collective consciousness. Genetic raiding is proceeding rapidly. The realization of the truth is proceeding at a snail's pace. Enlightened warnings are unheeded. At the present rate, by the time the true seriousness of the situation has been realized, it will be too late. The world will have been infected with genetic alteration, irreversibly. Even the consciousness of people themselves will be altered by what they ingest.
In this situation, and many like it, there is only one solution: to create a mass awakening of the collective consciousness of the world.
This is possible. It has been shown in over 47 studies that group practice of the TM-Sidhi program, in particular Yogic Flying, transforms the collective consciousness of whole populations within a matter of days. In Washington DC, in a formal experiment carried out in July-August 1993, this procedure reduced crime rate by 20%. In Mozambique its introduction resulted in the resolution of a bloody 20-year civil war. In cities throughout the world, including crisis areas, it has proven time and again that it is both possible and easy to transform the collective consciousness of a nation from violence, disorder, and insensitivity to survival, to harmony, order and farsighted consensus.
To this author, at least, it is obvious that the solution to the dangers of genetic engineering will come not through scientific and technical discovery, but through the transformation of our consciousness to a calm, life-loving, mature and wise awakening to the great potential and delicate responsibility for all future generations involved in all handling of scientific knowledge.
© Copyright: Byron Rigby
Date: 25 May 2000 15:15:54 +0100
From: Robert Mann firstname.lastname@example.org
The dangers from antibiotic-resistance marker genes have never seemed to me so serious as several other aspects of plant-GE.
If I am right about that, it then becomes unsurprising that this big GE-gang appears willing to forego antibiotic-resistance genes.
That they furthermore admit there was some danger implies they expect other gangs to be required to pay them for this new system.
By STEPHEN D. MOORE, The Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2000,
According to this story, Novartis AG plans to unveil a new marker-gene system for development of transgenic plants that could allay public fears about the potential spread of antibiotic resistance from genetically modified crops.
Public concern has persisted that livestock fed such genetically modified crops and later consumed as food somehow might transfer antibiotic resistance to bacteria which flourish in the human digestive system, breeding a new lethal type of superbug immune to modern antibiotics.
The new Novartis technology, known as Positech, replaces antibiotic- and herbicide-resistant genes with a new marker enabling plants to metabolize mannose, a sugar they normally can't convert into energy. So scientists wanting to genetically change plant cells would test the success of the change by putting the cells into a mannose-rich mixture. Plant cells that carry the Positech marker would grow in such a mixture, while those without it would languish.
Novartis acquired exclusive commercial rights to the product in the mid-1990s.
In the article, Wallace Beversdorf, head of resarch at Novartis's seed unit, was quoted as saying that "herbicide-tolerant genes can move around if related varieties are grown in proximity and bees are carrying pollen around."
Reuters, May 23, 2000 by Alice Ratcliffe
BASEL, Switzerland Novartis Seeds AG was cited as saying on Tuesday it had developed a new "genetic marker" and called it a breakthrough that could boost sales and influence the debate over genetically modified food crops. The story says that the trademark technology is called Positech.
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To get off the CONS-SPST-BIOTECH-FORUM list, send any message to: CONS-SPST-BIOTECH-FORUM-signoff-request@LISTS.SIERRACLUB.ORG
Robt Mann, consultant ecologist, P O Box 28878 Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand (9) 524 2949
Date: 25 May 2000 16:31:27 +0100
From: wytze email@example.com
From: Biotech Activists firstname.lastname@example.org
From: GENETNL email@example.com
Biotech Activists wrote:
Tewolde is the charismatic leader of the "Like-Minded Group" of Third World countries which stood up to the US, Canada, and Australia (and, on some occasions, also to Switzerland, Japan, the EU, etc.) during the biosafety negotiations process. The Talmud says God forebears from destroying the world because of the merit of 36 people ("lamed-vavniks", from the Hebrew for 36)--I am absolutely sure tewolde is among that group.
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 07:52:23 +0200
----------------------------- GENET-news -----------------------------
TITLE: Biosafety Protocol statement of Ethopia
SOURCE: Environmental Protection Agency, presented by Dr. Tewolde Berhan G. Egziaber
DATE: May 24, 2000
-------------------- archive: http://www.gene.ch --------------------
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
in the name of the Ethopian delegation, I would like to thank the people and Government of Kenya for making us feel at home. We are nearly at home any way. Please permit me to make my comments personal. But of course, it will also be global, befitting the occasion. For, what is the point of an aggregated global trait without a personal role in it?
I came first to Gigiri [name of the UNEP Center] about 10 years ago, to join the negotiations of the CBD. I had already been teaching and doing research for over one and a half decades in ecology and related fields of botany. Science was then objective and universial, and humans strived to achieve that objectiveness and to partake of that universality.
I was born to a peasant family, in global terms very poor: they had 5 bits of land scattered on mountainous terrain. Though materially poor, they were the poorest in cynicism. That was what Gigiri abounded in. I now recognize cynism, the instant I see it. But I would like to believe that I am still poor in it.
In my first immersion into negotiations, Veit Koster of Denmark was chairing a Working Group. He was not endowed with cynicism, but the hall was brimming with it. In 1993, we were again in Gigiri with Veit Koster, working in the now famous infamous Panel IV. We both continued to be, I believe, poor in cynicism and we both wanted a biosafety protocol. But the Miami Group, though not yet so named, was already present, and pushing the same line of cynical argument now so well known to all of us.
It took an united Africa. I thank my African sisters and brothers for that unity. We pushed. It took an united South. I thank my Southern sisters and brothers in suffering. We pushed.
The mountain of cynicism was still there. This mountain proved to be too heavy for Cartagena in 1999. But the low pressure of low Africa, and the majority of the low South America and the Carribean in the Seattle Conference Rooms, and the movement for a fairer deal in the streets of Seattle started winds that unleashed their erosive force. By Montreal, only less that 2 month later, the erosion made the mountain scalable. And now, the Cartagena Protocol of Montreal in Nairobi.
That is globalisation for you.
It makes sense that, while we await the coming into force of the Cartagena Protocol, we have a gobal moratorium on the transboundary movements of GMOs.
Will this globalisation lead life, as the naive would have it, into a safer world or, as the cynics would have it, into safety and comfort for themselves? I would invite everyone to join with my simplicity and work for a fairer, and thus safer, world. Those who want to enjoy mountains of wealth seperated by huge depressions of poverty will find that it is not only the mountain forming earth moving process, but more so the eroding wind process also that globalize. And in global wind, my children will be far from collapsing mountains. Beware those who live on mountains and foothills.
!!! NEW ADDRESS !!!|
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D 38116 Braunschweig
Philip L. Bereano
Professor, Department of Technical Communication
College of Engineering, Box 352195, University of Washington
Seattle, Wash. 98195
phone: (206) 543-9037 fax: (206) 543-8858
The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
"Americans recognize fewer than 10 plant species, but over 1,000 corporate logos."
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Date: 25 May 2000 16:39:56 +0100
By Nick Nuttall, Environment Correspondent, May 25 2000
FARMERS in Britain may have been unwittingly planting a range of genetically modified crops for several years, according to a seed-testing laboratory in the United States.
Genetics ID, based in Fairfield, Iowa, screens agricultural produce for genetic modifications, including seeds exported to Europe. Its latest tests show that more than half of 20 random samples of what are supposed to be conventional seeds contain some level of GM produce.
Referring to the disclosures last week that around 600 farms in Britain have been planting oilseed rape contaminated with GM seeds for two years, Jeffrey Smith, vice president of the company, told New Scientist magazine: "My guess is that it happens all the time". Mr Smith said that 12 out of 20 samples of maize, which in North America has been modified to be herbicide or pest-resistant, contained up to 1 per cent of GM produce.Small amounts of maize is grown in Britain as sweetcorn with more grown for livestock.
Greenpeace said yesterday that it had evidence that between 5 and 15 per cent of the European maize crop may be contaminated with GM. The group refused to release its evidence, claiming it would compromise its source.
Another imported crop which may be affected is soya beans. Of 491,000 tonnes of soya imported into Britain, 5,000 might have been genetically modified. The exact number that may have been sown is unknown because the Ministry of Agriculture does not keep records of how much is turned into food and how much goes to farms. A spokeswoman for the ministry said that it would not dispute Genetic ID's claims: "We cannot be sure that imported seed is not contaminated," she said.
The Government, in the wake of last week's news that 600 farms may have planted GM oilseed rape, has called for tighter international regulations and will start carrying out spot checks on imported seed early next month.
The Marquess of Lansdowne, who has a 540 acre arable farm near Dunkeld, Perthshire, yesterday revealed that he had destroyed some 250 acres of GM-contaminated oilseed rape. In a letter to The Times he said that the cost of weedkiller, labour and replanting the land would cost him at least £5,000 and demanded that the Government pays compensation. He said that the Ministry of Agriculture could have informed farmers on or around the April 17, which was two weeks before he sowed his crop.
Sweden and France also obtained the contaminated oilseed rape from Canada. In Sweden yesterday, the agricultural board said that all GM oilseed rape would be destroyed by July 7 unless farmers obtained a special permit. By allowing some to keep it, the board was "respecting the views" of genetic experts. The French Government will decide this week whether to order the destruction of 600 hectares of GM oilseed rape.
The British Government has lost another farmer from its GM trials after objections from local residents. John Moore abandoned plans to grow GM oilseed rape in Warwickshire.
Date: 25 May 2000 23:20:42 +0100
From: James firstname.lastname@example.org
The kids web site address is http://www.oneworld.org/penguin/genetics/home.html
Date: 25 May 2000 23:39:27 +0100
From: Judy_Kew@greenbuilder.com (Judy Kew)
From: "Leonard Pike" HORT-FOREST.LPIKE@taexgw.tamu.edu
Dr. Leonard Pike is famous in Texas. He developed the popular "1015 Onion" and the sweet, extra-nutritious maroon carrots through patient crossbreeding. He says that the GE scientists at Texas A&M get all the funding, leaving crossbreeders like himself with little help to carry on their work. He sent this out in case anyone has any leads.
May 23, 2000
Writer: Kathleen Phillips, (979) 845-2872,
Contact: Dr. Leonard Pike, (979) 862-4521, email@example.com
Houston - Cultivation. It's one of the things that friendship and plant production have in common. Horticulturists at Texas A&M University now hope to throw research into the mix.
"An Evening of Cultivation" will take place June 3 from 6-11 p.m. at the Houston Farm and Ranch Club in order to foster relationships between supporters and scientists at the Texas A&M Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center.
Dr. Leonard Pike, developer of the maroon carrot and 1015 onion and director of the center, hopes the event will "sprout more healthy varieties of fruits and vegetables" for consumers.
The Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center was established as a joint effort between research and industry to develop fruits and vegetables, through traditional breeding techniques, with higher nutritional values aimed at improving human health.
"The center continues to plant new and innovative techniques that yield a better future for all," Pike said. "We've planted the seed. Now others can help it grow."
The "Evening of Cultivation" will include dinner and entertainment by Danny Kristensen aka "The Maroon Carrots." It is sponsored by Kroger, Randalls, Rogers, and Seminis. Individual tickets are $75, couples are $150, and corporate groupings of six are $500.
For more information, contact the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center at (979) 862-4521.
Leonard M. Pike,
Director and Professor
Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center
1500 Research Parkway Ste. 120, Texas A&M Research Park, College Station, TX 77845
409/845-7012 409/862-4522 (fax) firstname.lastname@example.org (email)
Green Homes For Sale: http://www.greenbuilder.com/realestate
Green Building Pros: http://www.greenbuilder.com/directory
Date: 26 May 2000 03:16:28 +0100
From: "NLP Wessex" email@example.com
"The Minnesota Farmers Union and its 20,000 members support the efforts of British farmers to seek fair compensation for an Oilseed rape crop that never should have been planted in the United Kingdom......your fellow farmers across the sea believe that farmers who unknowingly planted GM-contaminated seed deserve fair compensation. The law is the law and it must be followed- for England's farmers, for England's environment and for England's people".
President Minnesota Farmers Union and member of the US Department of Agriculture's Biotechnology Advisory committee.
Could this be the start of a global revolt by farmers against the GM companies and those goverments who support and protect them?
In recent days there seems to be some kind of new global awakening to the damage this technology is doing to farmers and their land across the globe.
Not content with violating natural law with its approach to GMOs, the UK government has now even descended to breaking its own laws. Even farmers in foreign countries can clearly see this violation of human rights.
The world's reaction to this new GM crisis is surely the start of a clarion call for a new direction for global agriculture.
NATURAL LAW PARTY WESSEX
The following statement in support of British oilseed rape farmers comes from David Frederickson, President of the Minnesota Farmers Union in the USA, who also serves on the US Department of Agriculture's Biotechnology Advisory committee.
The Minnesota Farmers Union and its 20,000 members support the efforts of British farmers to seek fair compensation for an Oilseed rape crop that never should have been planted in the United Kingdom. You- the people of this country- have convinced your lawmakers to enact a law that says no GM crops can be planted for commercial use.
Regardless of the reason for what has happened- ignorance, an innocent mistake or premeditation- the English government should not force its own farmers and its own people to compromise a law of the land. Resolving this situation is a domestic matter for the people of the UK to settle. But your fellow farmers across the sea believe that farmers who unknowingly planted GM-contaminated seed deserve fair compensation. The law is the law and it must be followed- for England's farmers, for England's environment and for England's people.
David Frederickson, President Minnesota Farmers Union
Director Public Affairs: Pete Takash on (US) 651.639.1223 extension 301. firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 26 May 2000 10:17:01 +0100
From: wytze email@example.com
From: Biotech Activists firstname.lastname@example.org
From: "Bill Mott" email@example.com
Biotech Activists wrote:
Agence France Presse, STOCKHOLM, May 25
Norwegian-bred salmon may have been genetically modified and exposed to cancer-causing vaccines, a former inspector of fish in Norway alleged Thursday in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.
"The salmon of the (Norwegian) fjords is not a wild fish," Odd Lindberg. "It is the result of a cross between the genes of various kinds of wild salmon in order to produce a quick yield and a short reproductive cycle."
He added that Norwegian salmon farms were environmentally conducive to the spread of viruses, bacteria and lice whose potential threat to the fish population often led farmers to introduce carcinogenic insecticides into the water.
However, Lindberg's allegations were dismissed Thursday as "nonsense" by Norway's salmon farmers.
"The production of salmon is the best documented and the best controlled of all kinds of food production in Norway," said Kjersti Bruheim, a spokesman for the country's salmon breeders.
Lindberg is no stranger to controversy. He raised eyebrows at the beginning of the 1980s when he made a series of allegations relating to the hunting of seals in Norway.
SeaWeb Aquaculture Clearinghouse
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.seaweb.org/campaigns/sac
Mark Ritchie, President
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Ave. South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404 USA
612-870-3400 (phone) 612-870-4846 (fax) cell phone 612-385-7921
Date: 26 May 2000 13:00:39 +0100
From: "Ericka " email@example.com
From: PANUPS firstname.lastname@example.org
P A N U P S|
Pesticide Action Network Updates Service
China one of the world's largest pesticide producers
PAN North America's Work in China
May 26, 2000
According to Chinese government officials, Chinese herbicide demand is expected to increase to between 67,000 to 86,000 tons in 2000-representing 30 to 40% of total pesticide demand. China exported 147,000 tons of pesticides in 1999, an increase of more than 35% over the previous year. Exports are forecast to rise by 20 to 30% in 2000. Imports were estimated at 48,000 tons in 1999.
Chlordane and heptachlor were listed among those chemicals targeted for elimination by China's State Economic and Trade Commission in April 1999. However, the government announcement did not make clear whether China will ban these pesticides or simply consolidate their production.
According to Chinese agricultural experts, pesticide use is relatively high in China's wealthy, developed areas on the southeast coast, while poor areas, such as the Northwest, Sichuan, and Guizhou, use the least. Farmers in grain growing areas in the North China plain who have been using pesticides for many years are increasing their applications in response to development of pesticide resistance. Crops receiving the highest pesticide applications are fruit, cotton, corn and wheat. Pesticide use is highest in greenhouses, where the chemicals are applied at up to ten times the rate of application in fields. In the field, it is not uncommon for farmers to double the recommended dose of pesticides.
A potentially huge pesticide market has attracted many foreign agrochemical companies to China, including AgrEvo, DuPont, Mitsubishi, Monsanto, Novartis, Reilly Chemical, Rhone-Poulenc, Rohm and Hass Chemical, Rotam and Zeneca. They have moved in quickly to take advantage of a relatively cheap and unregulated location for production.
Some key joint ventures include:
Growth of the agrochemical industry in China has been accompanied by problems related to quality control, unsafe application of chemicals, and pesticide residues. Many products are sold under the wrong name, and in some cases, banned pesticides such as DDT are sold under the name of legal pesticides. The press has covered several cases where farmers were poisoned using mislabeled products. Farmers also face the problem that the chemicals sold as pesticides may not be pesticides at all. In addition, they rarely receive training to use new products that come on the market.
According to a report from the Chinese National Statistics Bureau, 48,377 pesticide poisoning cases, including 3,204 fatalities, were reported in 27 provinces in 1995. Another government estimate placed total farmworker fatalities due to pesticides at 7,000-10,000 annually.
Pesticide residues in food greatly exceed Chinese government standards, which do not cover the full range of pesticides on the market. The government's capacity to test food for pesticide residues is insufficient due to technical and financial constraints. Nevertheless, Chinese consumers are aware of the problem, and their demand for safer food has created a market for food marketed as organic, Green Food, and "wu gong hai" (not harmful). Organic is the only designation with rigorous certification standards.
The recent increase in pesticide production and use, coupled with a lack of quality control and pesticide poisonings and residues, is cause for serious concern. Fortunately, the Chinese agricultural extension system has partnered with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Programme to train farmers to eliminate their use of broad spectrum insecticides and cultivate natural enemies of pests in their rice fields. PANNA is working with these organizations and other local partners in China to research the potential for expanding IPM activities into areas served by World Bank supported development projects. This work is part of a larger PANNA program that monitors impacts of World Bank financed projects in Asia, especially regarding pesticide use and pest management.
------------------------ Contact: PANNA. -----------------------
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Date: 27 May 2000 03:03:33 +0100
Gene patenting: special report GM food: special report
By Patrick Wintour, chief political correspondent The Guardian, Saturday May 27, 2000
The government is planning to establish a number of powerful people's watchdogs which will be able to block commercial use of controversial new technologies, according to official papers obtained by The Guardian.
Documents prepared for endorsement by Labour's national policy forum this summer include the establishment of 'citizens' commissions' as an extension of plans to introduce a consumer voice into the regulation of GM technologies and human gene research.
Ministers have admitted that purely scientific advisory committees have lost the confidence of the public, and they are determined to take on board consumer views.
The environment commission paper which contains the watchdog plan is one of six prepared under the direction of cabinet ministers, such as Stephen Byers and Gordon Brown, and gives a broad insight into the direction of a second term Labour government.
Other second term ideas raised in the six documents include measures to bring more working class people into university education, a single safety body for transport, voting on the internet, expansion of the role of the UN, an end to the dogmatic belief in mixed ability teaching in secondary education and regulation of the converging communication technologies.
The confidential papers also reject union calls for renationalisation of the railways.
To the relief of supporters of electoral reform, the papers retain the commitment to hold a referendum, saying: "The final decision on changing the electoral system for the House of Commons will rest with the British people in a referendum."
But it is also pointed out that the party conference in 1993 committed the party to support first past the post.
A separate consultation paper hints the party will give all party members, including ministers, freedom to express their personal views on PR during a referendum campaign.
The papers again insist Labour will make a judgment on a single currency early in the parliament, but stress the benefits, including elimination of exchange rate risks on almost 50% of trade which British industry does.
But Labour's plans for a new citizens' commission will raise most interest.
The paper states: "To address public concerns, Labour could set up a citizens' commission, or other publicly trusted machinery, such as our two new commissions on biotechnology, to give consumers a voice within government and consider and publicly debate risks, and if necessary suspend the activities while further knowledge is gained."
Admitting the public is concerned about the risks produced from new technologies and science, and citing the example of GM foods and mobile phones, the environment paper concludes there are likely to be other examples in the future.
The government has already started to move to give greater credibility to its scientific regulatory bodies with the new human genetics commission, which reports to health and science ministers, and a new agriculture and environment biotechnology commission.
The bodies are made up of lay members as well as ethicists, consumers and industrialists, but they have no regulatory power and are meant to give advice to ministers on "the big picture". The government has to approve plans for their work and will also have the power "where appropriate" to direct them not to take on work.
The new "citizen's commissions" would have scientists as well as consumer champions on board and would crucially have the power to affect the dispersal of new technology and processes throughout the country.
The need for such a body follows the controversies over the safety of mobile phones and GM crops.
Only this week it was revealed that hundreds of farmers had unwittingly planted thousands of acres with GM seeds.
The government is well aware of the worries among consumers, and the environment policy paper is cautious about the effect of GM technology, acknowledging it must address public suspicion.
"If in the course of our tests we discover that any GM crops damage health or the environment more than conventional crops we will not allow commercial planting to succeed"
Meanwhile demands grew yesterday for the resignation of Nick Brown, the agriculture minister, over his handling of the genetically modified crops crisis.
The calls came from opposition MPs at Westminster and in the devolved Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly.
Tim Yeo, the shadow agriculture minister, accused Mr Brown of a "lack of communication" following the accidental planting of GM contaminated oilseed rape at 600 farms.
Environment campaigners urged the government to follow the lead of France and Sweden and order the destruction of affected crops.
The Conservatives claimed Mr Brown failed to inform his Scottish and Welsh counterparts about the problem of GM contaminated oilseed rape crops for more than three weeks after the agriculture ministry in London was advised that such crops were growing.
Date: 27 May 2000 17:31:57 +0100
From: MichaelP firstname.lastname@example.org
By Geoffrey Lean, Volker Angres and Louise Jury, INDEPENDENT (London) 28 May 2000
Genes from genetically modified crops can spread from plants into other forms of wildlife, new research shows. The research, which is the result of a three-year study at the University of Jena in Germany, supports environmentalists' warnings and raises the possibility that people who eat GM foods may also be affected.
Beatrix Tappesser from the Ecology Institute in Freiburg said: "This is very alarming because it shows that the cross-over of genes takes place on a greater scale than we had previously assumed.
"The results indicate that we must assume that changes take place in the intestinal tubes of people and animals. The crossover of microorganisms takes place and people's make up in terms of micro-organisms in their intestinal tract is changed. This can therefore have health consequences."
The research which has found that bees take up engineered genes from oilseed rape will dramatically increase pressure on farmers and ministers to destroy the crop accidentally sown over thousands of acres of Britain. Yesterday, Nick Brown, the Agriculture Minister, in an emergency announcement, advised farmers to plough in the crop at a cost estimated by the National Farmers' Union at 3m.
While this represented a sharp U-turn from his previous denials that such action would be necessary, he admitted he had no legal authority to order them to do so. Mr Brown said they had the alternative option of harvesting the crop and trying to sell it outside Europe, although it was unclear whether the law allows them to do that.
He ruled out any government compensation for the farmers, although the food industry has now made it clear that they will not buy any of the crop. He said that farmers should instead seek redress from Advanta, the company who sold them the GM contaminated seed.
The new research about GM genes infecting other forms of life seriously undermines assertions by the biotech industry and GM supporters that the genes cannot spread and is being taken "very seriously" by the German health ministry.
Professor Hans-Heinrich Kaatz of Jena's authoritative Bee Institute released the insects onto a crop of genetically modified rape and removed the pollen they gathered when they returned to the hive. He fed the pollen to young bees, and when he analysed the bacteria in their guts found that they had taken up the same modified genes.
He told the German television station ZDF: "They had obviously taken up these genes. They were in the bacteria in the intestinal tract of the bees and seemed to have come from the genes of the original plant and to have been taken up into their own genetic make-up."
Ulrike Riedel of the German Health Ministry said that the experiment should be taken "very seriously". She added: "This kind of study is a good reason why we should not assume that everything is OK."
Brian Johnson, English Nature's top GM expert, said that the main question was whether the bacteria had incorporated the modified genes temporarily or permanently. He thought that the risk of permanent alteration was "very small" but added: "We can't rule it out."
Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth said: "This study shows once again how little we know about the science and adds strength to call for a freeze on growing all GM crops."
Nick Brown said yesterday that the accidental GM contamination of the oilseed rape highlighted the need for European standards on seed purity. While the crops posed "no danger" to the environment or to public health, the consumer had the right to know what was in the food supply.
At an informal meeting with European colleagues tomorrow, he will press his European colleagues to establish standards and tougher checks.
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Date: 27 May 2000 08:50:34 +0100
From: wytze email@example.com
From: Biotech Activists firstname.lastname@example.org
From: "j.e. cummins" email@example.com
"If someone can come up with a tomato with Viagra in it, we wouldn't have the problems with [genetically modified organisms]."
Agriculture Secretary Glickman, speaking today to a Farm Credit Administration symposium after he was asked about the future of biotechnology
Secretary Glickman is a treasure to science, his brain is a near perfect vacuum!