Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

29 May 2000

Table of Contents

Search Engine at www.natural-law.ca/genetic
Book: "Genetic Engineering, Food, and Our Environment"
Video Documentary "The Genetic Takeover or Mutant Food"
Canadian internet news service www.epress.ca
France decides to destroy GM rapeseed crops
UK: Brown Facing Resign Call over GM Crop Delay
Rape (canola) Destruction.
GM crops 'planted for years by mistake'
BioDemocracy News #27: Who's Winning the Frankenfoods Fight?
University of Pennsylvania will no longer use humans for experiments
British farmer plows under crop of genetically modified canola
US farmers demand GM compensation for British colleagues
Ministers pressed to destroy GM crops
Greenpeace sets deadline on GM seeds
GM genes 'can spread to people and animals'
Farmers Mull Legal Move Against Govt. on Seed
Excerpt from New Scientist
New Scientist: Sowing dissent
Monsanto GM seeds contain 'rogue' DNA
Firms move to avoid risk of contamination

Top NextFront Page
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 22:04:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-25

Search Engine at www.natural-law.ca/genetic

Our GE website http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic (or http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html) now has a search engine attached to it, to make it easier to search for different topics.


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 22:04:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-25

Book: "Genetic Engineering, Food, and Our Environment"

by Luke Anderson (UK author and activist) is one of the best books around on the GE issue.

The latest North American version is easy to read and updated up to February 2000. It goes through all of the important issues, including detailed health and environmental hazards, history of GE, patenting life, mechanics of GE, biopiracy, WTO, revolving door policies, BGH, effects on farmers, industrial farming, feeding the world, and problems that have already occured, with full references.

ISBN 1-890132-55-1 $7.95 USD pb Publishers: Chelsea Green (1-800-639-4099) (50% discount if order 10 copies or more)


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 22:04:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-25

Video Documentary "The Genetic Takeover or Mutant Food"

"The Genetic Takeover or Mutant Food" is an excellent video documentary on GE produced by the National Film Board of Canada. (52 min) It includes interviews with Dr. Arnad Pusztai about his ground-breaking reseach, which showed that animals who ate biotech potatoes developed seriously health problems. Other scientists from Europe and Canada are interviewed discussing the problems of GE, as well as farmers. It can be ordered from National Film Board at 1-800-267-7710 in Canada, or internationally go to the website: http://www.nfb.ca/e/2/2/3/index.html


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 22:04:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-25

Canadian internet news service www.epress.ca

http://www.epress.ca interviews

Canadian internet news service epress.ca has web-posted a series of interviews with scientists, farmers, activists, and industry about genetic engineering. Those interviewed include Dr. David Suzuki, Brewster Kneen, Greenpeace, and Luke Anderson from UK (Luke's will be posted May 31).

The interviews can be viewed at the website http://www.epress.ca Choose the "GM Food" link at the top of the page. Interviews are in two formats:The first one is best with a 56K+ modem. The second format, which is smoother, uses Microsoft software, which can be dowloaded from the site.


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 22:04:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-25

France decides to destroy GM rapeseed crops

By Joelle Diderich, Thursday May 25, 4:14 PM

PARIS (Reuters) - The French government has become the first in Europe to order the outright destruction of rapeseed crops that include genetically modified (GM) material.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's office said in a statement that 600 hectares (1,480 acres) had been planted with the seed in France.

Checks had shown a relatively small proportion of GM seeds – about one percent of the total quantity – and at least one strain of herbicide-resistant rapeseed.

"After careful examination of the case and immediate ways of remedying the situation, the government decided to call on the groups involved to proceed with the destruction of the rapeseed plants," it said.

The decision followed the news last week that seed company Advanta had sold seeds imported from Canada containing traces of GM material – still highly controversial in Europe – to farmers in France, Britain, Germany and Sweden by mistake.


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 22:04:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-25

UK: Brown Facing Resign Call over GM Crop Delay

By PA news reporters
http://194.200.85.10/sources/154/621/4009205/000525m.htm

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown tonight faced calls for his resignation after it emerged Scottish officials were not told about crops contaminated with genetically-modified seed for almost a month.

The calls came after Scottish rural affairs minister Ross Finnie said he was deeply angry that Westminster officials only told their Edinburgh counterparts of the GM contamination almost a month after they knew about it.

Farmers in Scotland and elsewhere in Britain now face destroying huge areas of oil seed rape after accidentally planting GM seed obtained from Canadian firm Advanta.


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 22:04:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-25

Rape (canola) Destruction.

By PA news reporters
http://194.200.85.10/sources/154/621/4009202/000525j.htm

Agriculture officials in Sweden and France have ordered the destruction of hundreds of acres of crops sown with genetically modified rape seed that was accidentally mixed with normal seed.

The Swedish Board of Agriculture ordered farmers who planted the seed, which was mixed with some imported seed that had been genetically altered to resist an herbicide, to destroy the crops by June 7 unless they apply for and receive an exemption.

The French government is to destroy 1,482 acres of rape fields after it was discovered they too had been mixed with GM seeds.

France and Sweden have now agreed to destroy their GM rapeseed (canola) crops before 7 July 2000 :

http://news2.thls.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid%5F7640....

More stories on this topic can be found at :

http://www.gmfoodnews.com


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 22:04:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-25

Thanks to: jim jim@niall7.demon.co.uk for posting this

GM crops 'planted for years by mistake'

By Nick Nuttall, Environment Correspondent, The Times (UK) 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.

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.


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Sat, 27 May 2000 05:19:18 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-26BioDemNews27
from Ronnie Cummins alliance@MR.Net

BioDemocracy News #27: Who's Winning the Frankenfoods Fight?

May 2000

Quote of the Month:

"There are two things that most of us feel. We feel hurt and we feel angry... We had real leadership... We had... faith in this science when others were dubious, and it all seemed to be working. So we painted a big bull's-eye on our chest, and we went over the top of the hill."

Robert Shapiro, CEO of Monsanto,
quoted in The New Yorker magazine April 10, 2000.

Sections:
Biotech in Recession
Blows to the Ag-Biotech industry
Pharmageddon Strikes Back: Disinformation, TV Ads, Regulatory Reforms
Spoiling the Party: The National Academy of Sciences Report & FDA "Reform"

Biotech in Recession

The worst nightmares of Monsanto and the Gene Giants are becoming reality. The four year food fight by European consumers and farmers is slowly but surely driving genetically engineered (GE) foods and crops off the EU market, the largest in the world. US corn exports to the EU have fallen from $360 million a year to near zero, while soybean exports have fallen from $2.6 billion annually to $1 billion – and are expected to fall even further as major food processors, supermarkets, and fast-food chains ban GE soy or soy derivatives in animal feeds. Canada's canola exports to Europe similarly have fallen from $500 million a year to near zero. Meanwhile Brazilian exporters are doing a brisk business selling "GE-free" soybeans to European buyers, and organic food is booming throughout the industrialized world.

On May 18 the latest in a series of GE scandals rocked Europe as a major rapeseed (canola) seller, Advanta Seeds, a division of biotech giant AstraZeneca, admitted that genetic drift from gene-altered canola fields in Canada had contaminated certified "non-GE seed" export shipments to Britain, France, Germany and Sweden.

Consumer rejection of gene-foods is steadily spreading to Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India, and a host of other nations, including the United States and Canada. Japan and South Korea-where public concern is rising – have the biotech industry extremely worried, since these two nations alone buy $11.3 billion of US agriculture exports every year. On May 18 the Tokyo Grain Exchange soy futures market begin for the first time to offer wholesale traders a choice of GE or non-GE soybeans. On the first day of trading, non-GE buyers committed to 914,000 tons, compared to only 364,000 tons for unsegregated (GE-tainted) US soybean futures.

Gene-foods and patents on living organisms have become hot button political issues in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines. At recent international conventions such as the Biosafety Protocol meeting in Montreal in January and the UN Codex Alimentarius meeting in Ottawa in May, the US government has become increasingly isolated in its "no labeling, no safety-testing" position.

Blows to the Ag-Biotech industry

Since the first of the year, prospects for a Biotech Century have dimmed considerably. Among the most recent blows to the agbiotech industry have been the following:

  1. Storm clouds in Asia. Japan dropped a regulatory bombshell in mid-April when the Ministry of Health announced that starting next year agricultural producers must "screen" imported genetically modified foods for potential food allergies and other health hazards. In addition new mandatory labeling rules on GE food ingredients coming into force next April will have a major impact on the marketplace.

    According to a report by Sharon Schmickle in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on April 30, Japanese importers and manufacturers of many common food products – including tofu, miso, cornstarch, corn snacks, popcorn and frozen or canned corn – are almost certain to switch to non-genetically engineered ingredients once they're forced to label. James Echle, who directs the Tokyo office of the American Soybean Association, told the Star-Tribune "I don't think anybody will label containers genetically modified," he said. "It's like putting a skull and crossbones on your product." In a related story from Asia, the government of Sri Lanka formally banned the import of GE foods and crops on April 23.

  2. Patent victory in India. Vandana Shiva and India and EU public interest activists registered a major victory in mid-May when the European Patent Office withdrew a controversial patent previously granted to pharmaceutical giant W.R. Grace on a chemical formulation derived from the Neem tree, which has been used as a bio-pesticide and medicinal agent for generations by indigenous villagers and farmers in India. Biotech corporations fear that the revocation of the Neem patent will set a precedent that could put billions of dollars of their "biopirated" patents on drugs and seeds at risk.

  3. European opposition to gene-foods is as strong as ever. A new EU-wide survey, "Eurobarometer," recently analyzed by the European Commission, showed that consumers in the EU were "deeply wary of genetically modified food." Professor George Gaskell of the London School of Economics, presenting the study at a news conference on April 27 flatly stated, "Genetically modified foods are getting the thumbs down. They are seen to be very risky."

  4. America's food giants begin to turn their backs on Frankenfoods. Even in the heartland of biotech, consumer aversion to GE foods is increasing. Since July, 1999 a number of major US food corporations – including baby food giants Gerber, Heinz, and Mead-Johnson (infant formula); pet food purveyor Iam's; corn chip king Frito-Lay; and several sizable supermarket chains, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and Genuardi's, have announced plans to go "GE free." On May 9 in Chicago at the convention of the Food Marketing Institute, a trade association of supermarket corporations, a number of leading supermarket chains admitted privately that mandatory labeling of GE foods is probably inevitable.

  5. The death of Frankenspuds. Monsanto announced in early May that they were closing down their NatureMark plant in Crystal, Maine, a transgenetic laboratory and greenhouse operation that had been producing Bt potatoes since 1992. Bt potatoes are gene-spliced with the soil bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis, to repel the Colorado potato beetle. Earlier this year, Monsanto laid off 20 of the 30 employees in their other Bt potato lab in Idaho. Bt potatoes thus join the growing obituary list of Monsanto's Frankenfoods. In 1996 Monsanto/Calgene's Flavr Savr tomatoes were taken off the market after dismal performances in the field and on grocery store shelves.

    Monsanto's retreat on Bt potatoes comes in the wake of news stories in the Wall Street Journal and Associated Press that America's leading potato buyers – including McDonald's, Burger King, Frito-Lay, and Procter & Gamble – are eliminating Bt potatoes from their brand-name french fries and potato chips. "We have to respect the preferences of our customers, and both the domestic and global restaurant chains which we serve have asked us to exclude these potatoes," said Fred Zerza, a spokesman for J.R. Simplot, of Boise, Idaho, one of McDonald's largest suppliers. In November 1999, McCain's and Lamb-Weston, two of North America's largest potato processors, told farmers they would no longer accept gene-altered spuds. Approximately 50,000 acres, amounting to 4% of last year's total potato crop, were genetically engineered in North America. Next year Bt spuds may become an extinct species.

  6. Bt cotton gives rise to "Stink Bug" epidemic. Recent field reports posted at indicate that Bt cotton fields in North Carolina and Georgia are becoming infested with Stink Bugs that are eating up the cotton crop. Not only does the Bt toxin not kill the Stink Bugs, but apparently they love the mutant plants. Monsanto's recommendation, posted on their Farmsource web site, is to spray the Stink Bugs with toxic pesticides including methyl parathion, one of the deadliest chemicals used in American agriculture. So much for the notion that Bt cotton will get US farmers off the toxic treadmill.

    As analysts have pointed out to BioDemocracy News, the pests that Bt-spliced cotton are designed to kill – cotton bollworms, pink bollworms, and budworms – were previously considered harmless "secondary pests" until the overuse of toxic pesticides (sold by the same companies now peddling so-called "environmentally friendly" Bt crops – Monsanto, Novartis, and Aventis) killed off their natural predators and parasites and turned them into major pests.

  7. More bad news for Monsanto. Recent studies carried out at the University of Nebraska indicate that gene-altered Roundup Ready soybeans produce 6-11% less yield than conventional soybeans.The two year study, reported by the Associated Press on May 18, showed Roundup Ready soybeans yield 6% less than their closest relatives and 11% less than high-yielding soybean varieties. In another damaging revelation, Dr. Charles Benbrook, a consultant for the Consumers Union, published a summary of an upcoming report revealing that genetically engineered Roundup Ready soybeans, contrary to frequent claims by Monsanto, actually use 2-5 times more pounds of herbicide per acre than conventional soybeans sprayed with other "modern low-dose pesticides." For background information see a previous study by Benbrook on RR soybeans

  8. American farmers back-off on GE. All signs indicate that US farmers are slowly but steadily moving away from GE crops. According to the March 31 Associated Press, a recent USDA survey showed that American farmers will plant 24% less genetically engineered corn this year, 13% less cotton, and 9% less soybeans. The Winnipeg Free Press reported on April 24 that farmers in Canada are reducing the amount of acreage devoted to GE canola, perhaps by as much as 10%.

  9. American grain dealers starting to segregate GE crops. A May 4 report on the New York Times website indicates that many of America's grain wholesalers are segregating GE and non-GE corn and soybeans for overseas export, even though they've been telling the public for years that segregation is impossible. "We are encouraging farmers to segregate crops," said Larry Cunningham, senior vice president for corporate affairs at Archer Daniels Midland. "And we have an opportunity to also benefit from it. In Europe and Japan some people are willing to pay a premium for segregated crops."

    According to the Times, "a study conducted by Pioneer Hi-Bred , a subsidiary of DuPont, indicated that, of the 1,200 U.S. [grain] processors surveyed, 24 percent were planning to segregate corn crops this year, up from 11 percent in 1999, and 20 percent were planning to segregate soybean crops, up from 8 percent last year."

  10. Opposition to GE foods increases in Canada. A nationwide campaign against Loblaw's, the nation's largest supermarket chain, has the food industry worried. On May 9 the Council of Canadians, Sierra Club, and a coalition of public interest groups filed a legal petition against the federal government for failing to protect public health and the environment in regulating genetically modified organisms. Under Canadian law, the government is required to respond to the challenge within 120 days.

    According to a March 31 poll conducted for the Council of Canadians, three-quarters (75%) of Canadians familiar with GE foods are worried about their safety and almost all (95%) want GE foods labeled as such. A similarly high number (95%) want consumers to be able to buy non-GE foods, and over two-thirds (71%) would even be willing to pay more to get them. Moreover, most respondents (56%) are not confident in the federal government's ability to protect their health and safety when it comes to GE foods – although grocery retailers say they depend on consumer confidence in government testing.

  11. Anti-GE protests increase in the US. Four thousand people demonstrated against genetically engineered foods in Boston, Massachusetts on March 26, marching in front of the national convention of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). Over the past three months "Frankenfoods dumps" outside supermarkets in Boston, San Francisco, and at the annual shareholders meeting of the Safeway supermarket chain, organized by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and Friends of the Earth, have generated significant media coverage and rattled the nerves of the biotech industry. Meanwhile sabotage of biotech crops has continued in the US, with an April 8 announcement by the "Petaluma Pruners" that they had destroyed GE grape plants grown by the Vinifera corporation in Petaluma, California.

  12. On March 21 anti-GE protesters, led by a group called Grain RAGE (Resistance Against Genetic Engineering), wearing white biohazard suits and respirators, blocked the road to the Cargill corporation's international headquarters outside Minneapolis for several hours. Cargill, the world's largest grain dealer, is one of the most strident proponents of GE crops. ln September Cargill donated $10 million to the University of Minnesota for a plant genetics research facility. Cargill also has strong ties to Monsanto. Cargill sold its international seed business to Monsanto in 1998 and has agreed to manufacture commercial livestock and poultry feeds produced from Monsanto's proprietary germ plasm. On May 15 Reuters reported that Ernest Micek, the chairman of Cargill, told a globalization conference sponsored by the Economic Strategy Institute that "while some American consumers are raising concerns about genetically modified foods, they are ignoring the safety risks of organically grown corn, soybeans and other grains."

  13. On March 21 the Center for Food Safety, the OCA, Greenpeace and 51 other groups filed a legal petition against the FDA in Washington, D.C. calling for a moratorium on all GE foods and crops unless the FDA can prove through stringent, long-term safety-testing that these products are safe for human health and the environment. For further information on the legal petition see

  14. In Washington 52 members of the US House of Representatives are now co-sponsors of a bill introduced by Dennis Kucinich (Democrat from Ohio) calling for mandatory labeling of GE foods. Kucinich has also drafted a House bill on safety-testing. The Kucinich GE labeling bill has drawn angry criticism from the biotech industry, agribusiness, and the Grocery Manufacturers of America – who maintain that mandatory labeling would unduly alarm consumers and thereby kill the industry. Companion bills on safety testing (Patrick Moynihan, Democrat from New York) and labeling (Barbara Boxer, Democrat from California) have been introduced in the US Senate as well. For further information on the grassroots lobbying campaign to get these bills passed in Congress see

  15. More than two dozen bills related to gene-foods have been filed in US state legislatures over the past year year in at least 13 states; dealing with issues such as the "Terminator" seed technology, registration of farmers planting GE crops, and labeling gene-altered foods. Although these bills have been held up in committee or rejected in the face of concerted lobbying by powerful biotech and agribusiness special interests, their proliferation is evidence that more and more politicians are feeling the heat from constituents on GE foods.

  16. Swiss panel slams EPA. A prestigious panel of Swiss scientists, commissioned by Greenpeace, on April 19 issued a peer-reviewed critique of the shoddy science endorsed by the EPA to certify the environmental safety of Bt corn. The EcoStrat report reveals that tests submitted by the biotech companies Novartis and Mycogen to determine whether their GE corn could harm non-target insects were so poorly designed that there was virtually no chance that adverse effects would be observed. Despite the flawed methodology, EPA accepted the tests as scientific evidence that the gene-altered crop was harmless to non-target insects, and continued to accept the same flawed testing procedures for approval of other companies' insect-resistant "Bt" crops. According to Dr. Doreen Stabinsky, a science advisor to Greenpeace, "We now know that EPA's approval of insect-resistant crops was based on false assumptions, shoddy methodology, and skewed results." For more information on the EcoStrat report see

  17. Investors rebel against gene-foods. Anti-GE shareholder activism in the US has increased considerably since the first of the year. According to the New York Times "Twenty-one resolutions calling for restraints on the use of genetically modified ingredients are on the annual meeting agendas at some of America's leading food and seed manufacturers this year, up from zero a year ago... Shareholders at Coca Cola, Kellogg's, Phillip Morris ,and PepsiCo have already voted on the resolutions, which garnered a respective 8.3 percent, 5.6 percent, 4 percent and 3.2 percent of the support of voting shares." As activists point out, once a company faces opposition from 10-15% of its shareholders on an unpopular position such as using GE ingredients in its products, it will usually change its company policy.

Pharmageddon Strikes Back: Disinformation, TV Ads, Regulatory Reforms

Fearful that the global backlash against gene-foods is spreading to the U.S., Monsanto, Aventis, Novartis, Dow, BASF, Zeneca, DuPont, and the Biotechnology Industry Organization have launched a $50 million a year public relations campaign to confuse and mislead the American public.

Fronting for the Gene Giants, the so-called Council for Biotechnology Information has paid for cheery "biotech is great" national television ads, launched a Web site , opened a consumer information hotline, carried out focus groups and polls, and enlisted prominent scientists and public figures (including Andrew Young, ex-ambassador to the United Nations and former Nobel Prize winner Dr. James Watson) to serve as messengers for pro-biotech propaganda. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on April 4, the Council says it may spend as much as $250 million on the campaign over the next five years. In the CBI's opening national TV ad, the narrator tries to equate the potential benefits of GE crops with the more widely accepted uses of biotechnology in medicine.

Flashing between scenes of farm fields and medical labs, the 60-second ad proclaims: "A patient has a medicine she needs. A boy can survive a childhood disease. A cotton crop helps protect itself from certain pests because discoveries in biotechnology, from medicine to agriculture, are helping doctors and farmers to treat our sick and to protect our crops."

Based upon in-depth interviews and focus groups with American consumers, the Council for Biotechnology Information has begun to hammer home the following points – all of which of course are false:

In a national focus group study carried out last September 14-19 by public relations powerhouse BSMG Worldwide on behalf of the Grocery Manufactures of America, a copy of which was obtained by BioDemocracy News, BSMG recommends broadcasting the above "positive messages" to American consumers to counteract their negative views on biotechnology. Unfortunately for the biotech industry, BSMG also learned from interviewing American consumers that there are some major obstacles to public acceptance of GE foods:

Spoiling the Party: The National Academy of Sciences Report & FDA "Reform"

On April 5 the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released their long-awaited report on genetically engineered crops. While the scientific talking heads at the NAS press conference in Washington tried to reassure the public that GE foods were safe, national TV networks broadcast a different image – outside the NAS headquarters, a crowd of protesters dressed in white lab coats, holding up signs ("The Best Science Money Can Buy") and giant dollar bills, chanting anti-GE slogans.

While the biotech industry applauded the conclusions of the study, nearly every media organization in the country reported that the NAS report was plagued by charges of conflict of interest. The majority of the dozen scientists on the NAS panel receive money from biotech corporations or labs under contract to the industry, while the original head of the panel, Michael Phillips, left the NAS to work as a PR flack for the Biotechnology Industry Organization. The media also broadcast the criticisms of consumer and public interest groups that the 261-page NAS report paid little attention to the potential health hazards of GE foods.

As Rachel's Environment & Health weekly (May 11) points out, however, a close reading of the NAS report is actually quite damning for the biotech industry and the nation's regulatory agencies (the FDA, the EPA, and the USDA). Among other things the NAS report admits that:

Instead of a whitewash on the safety of GE foods, the NAS report has turned into yet another public relations debacle for the biotech industry.

In a similar vein, the Food and Drug Administration's long-anticipated announcement of "regulatory reforms" on GE foods and crops May 3 was met with indifference or hostility on the part of the general public. Headlines across the country emphasized that the FDA was refusing to label GE foods, while reporters noted that every consumer and environmental group in the US was denouncing the FDA maneuvers as "too little and too late."

As we predicted months ago in BioDemocracy News the FDA is calling for nothing more than (1) voluntary industry labeling; (2) non-specific industry-FDA "consultations" before new Frankenfoods and crops are put on the market, and (3) non-specific disclosure of research data by biotech corporations on the internet. As Debbie Ortman, National Field Organizer, of the Organic Consumers Association put it, "The biotech industry consulting with the FDA does not constitute safety-testing, nor is so-called voluntary industry labeling of genetically engineered foods what 90% of consumers want – mandatory labeling."

Of course this is not the end of the debate. Battered by mounting public criticism and serious market share loss in Europe and Asia, now spreading to North America, we can expect Monsanto and the Gene Giants to fight back with all they have. In the next issue of BioDemocracy News we will take a critical look at the new generation of genetically engineered products being readied for market: so-called "functional foods," GE fish, Frankentrees, and other mutants. In the meantime stay tuned to our website for daily updates, events listings, and action alerts.

---### End of BioDemocracy News #27 ###---

To subscribe to BioDemocracy News, send an email to: majordomo@mr.net with the simple message: subscribe pure-food-action

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.


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Sun, 28 May 2000 05:58:28 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-28

University of Pennsylvania will no longer use humans for experiments

By Deborah Nelson and Rick Weiss, Washington Post Staff Writers, Thursday, May 25, 2000; Page A01

The University of Pennsylvania announced yesterday that its gene therapy institute, which has been an international leader in the cutting-edge field of medical research, will no longer experiment on people.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A64453-2000May24.ht....


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Sun, 28 May 2000 05:58:28 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-28

British farmer plows under crop of genetically modified canola

By Alan Freeman, The Globe and Mail, Thursday, May 25, 2000

Seeds inadvertently contaminated in Alberta banned in Europe

London – John Sanderson has become the first British farmer to rip up his canola in the wake of the European scare over genetically modified crops.

"We will be finished plowing it under this afternoon," Mr. Sanderson said in an interview yesterday from his 180-hectare farm near Harleston in Suffolk, which includes 10 hectares planted with a tainted Canadian seed.

Environmentalists and politicians expressed outrage last week when it was disclosed that Advanta Seeds, a Netherlands-based agricultural firm, had supplied farmers in Britain, France, Sweden and Germany with canola seed inadvertently contaminated in Alberta with seed genetically modified through cross-pollination.


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Sun, 28 May 2000 05:58:28 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-28

US farmers demand GM compensation for British colleagues

Thu, 25 May 2000 23:15:15 +0100

"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".

David Frederickson, President Minnesota Farmers Union and member of the US Department of Agriculture's Biotechnology Advisory committee.


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Sun, 28 May 2000 05:58:28 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-28

Next article posted by Jim McNulty jim@niall7.demon.co.uk

GM debate: special report

Ministers pressed to destroy GM crops

By James Meikle, GUARDIAN - Friday May 26, 2000

Greenpeace is threatening to take the government to court to make it order the destruction of crops accidentally contaminated by genetically modified material.

The environmental group also gave ministers seven days to warn farmers they could face criminal prosecution if they sold produce grown from contaminated seed. Greenpeace would start high court proceedings in a week's time if ministers did not comply, it told them in a letter.

The warning came as France followed Sweden in ordering the destruction of similarly affected crops. In the UK, ministers yesterday showed little sign of changing their view that there was no bar to farmers selling on their unwittingly tainted crop - even though some supermarkets are reluctant to use the material.

The government is also refusing to authorise compensation to farmers who are beginning to destroy their crops of oil seed rape. Advanta, the seed company involved in the mistake, said that it had not considered compensation since it was "awaiting some advice from government on what course of action to take".


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Sun, 28 May 2000 05:58:28 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-28

Greenpeace sets deadline on GM seeds

By Valerie Elliott, Countryside Editor, May 26 2000

GREENPEACE told the Government last night that it had seven days to order the destruction of 11,000 acres of rogue genetically modified crops or face legal action.

The ultimatum was set out in a letter to John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, warning him that any sale of the GM-contaminated oilseed rape would be illegal under British and EU regulations.

The move heightened pressure on ministers, who were taken by surprise yesterday when the French Government followed Sweden and ordered


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Sun, 28 May 2000 05:58:28 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-28

GM genes 'can spread to people and animals'

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.

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.


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 20:07:51 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-29

Farmers Mull Legal Move Against Govt. on Seed

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000527/sc/britain_rapeseed_1.ht....
Saturday May 27 3:40 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - British farmers who unwittingly planted genetically modified seeds are considering legal action against the government after it advised them to destroy their contaminated crops but refused compensation, officials said.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) said it was also considering what legal steps farmers could take against Advanta Seeds, the company that mistakenly supplied them with the cross-pollinated oilseed rape seeds. We are taking legal advice because we want to look into the position of Advanta...and of course the government because of the delays in letting NFU spokesman Ian Gardner told BBC radio. If farmers had been told early enough, a large part of this crop would he added, referring to the fact that the government knew about the mistake for a month before making it public.

Hundreds of farms have been affected. Around 9,000 hectares were sown with the affected seeds in 1999 and 4,700 hectares in spring 2000.

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown ruled out any compensation for farmers, placing the blame squarely on Advanta, and said on Saturday that were he a farmer, he would destroy the crops quickly. The

Advanta, a joint venture between Anglo-Swedish group AstraZeneca Plc and Dutch co-operative Cosun, believes its rape seed was contaminated by pollen from a GM crop in a neighboring field in Canada in 1998.


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 20:07:51 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-29

There is an interesting publication devoted to GMO's on the web by the New Scientist. It has a series of articles on GMO. The URL below refers you to an interesting article by Jeremy Rifkin that is very interesting.

Excerpt from New Scientist

http://www.NewScientist.com/nsplus/insight/GMWorld/GMFood/Rifkin

The obvious first problem is build-up of herbicide resistance in weeds. Instead of spraying here and there infrequently, you actually have that herbicide-resistant gene in your crop so you can spray and kill everything in sight without killing your crop. If you are putting a herbicide-resistant gene in every cell of every plant over millions of acres, you certainly up the ante for the emergence of resistant strains of weed.

That is the most simple, the build-up of resistance. But what if genes jump between species? The scientific community once said that was absurd. Now we are beginning to weigh the evidence. Danish studies of a herbicide-resistant gene show that during pollination it will jump easily over long distances. It is fixed in the genetic code of weedy relatives and is passed on to future generations. If you pass herbicide resistance to weeds, how do you recall that to the laboratory?

Look at the landscape. There will be plants over millions of acres producing biodegradable plastics, chemicals and vaccines, all encoding for specific genes that can jump and fix for herbicide, pesticide and viral resistance in weedy relatives. I don't think you even have to be an alarmist. If just a small fraction of these introductions turn out to be long-term pests, then we have irreversible damage to ecosystems.It could be devastating.

Who will be liable?

And who would pay if there is a catastrophe? No insurance company will provide cover. The insurance industry quietly let it be known early on that it would insure only for short-term crop damage and negligence. There is no long-term insurance. If one of their genes jumps –nd it is easy to spot because if you have weeds fixing for herbicide and pesticide resistance and they proliferate, you will be able to identify whose gene that was –ou will have a problem that could last for generations. There is no insurance company that will touch it.

I've said that companies should go to Congress for a Price Anderson Act [the Act protecting the nuclear industry from catastrophic liability] but they would never do that because if they went for a Price Anderson Act then everyone would be alarmed. So they made the decision to go out without long-term catastrophic insurance. Why aren't members of Parliament and Congress asking who is going to be liable for losses? Will it be the government, home-owners, farmers?

The reason the insurance industry and the reinsurance industry will not touch this is that they say we have no way of assigning risk. There is no predictive ecology. There is no ecological risk assessment science. I have been saying this for 15 years. Every government says it is regulating scientifically the introduction of genetically engineered organisms into the environment. But all the players know that there is absolutely no risk-assessment science by which to do it.

The liability issue is the industry's Achilles heel. My own bet is that agricultural biotechnology is going to be one of the great disasters of corporate capitalist history. There are two reasons I think that. First, the life sciences industry has misjudged where the consumers are moving in terms of their food preferences. The middle class sets the trends in Europe, Japan and North America. I shuttle back and forth every three weeks, and I can tell you that the middle class is moving towards organic foods.


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 20:07:51 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-29

"12 out of 20 random American consignments of conventional maize contained detectable traces of GM maize."

New Scientist: Sowing dissent

by Andy Coghlan, NEW SCIENTIST, 27 May 2000

Strict segregation would keep crops free of genetically modified seed. But is it possible?

CONCERN over the accidental planting of genetically modified seed on several farms in Europe reached fever pitch last week. And now a company in the US has warned that the problem is probably commonplace. "My guess is that it happens all the time," says Jeffrey Smith, vice president of marketing and communications at Genetic ID of Fairfield, Iowa. The company, which screens agricultural produce for GM material, found that more than half of 20 random samples of conventional seed taken from American distributors contained some GM seed.


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 20:07:51 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-29

Apart From That It's A Perfectly Safe Technology, Of Course

Monsanto GM seeds contain 'rogue' DNA

Scotland on Sunday May 28 2000

When the world's leading bio-technology company, Monsanto, bid for permission to market the first genetically modified agriculturalcrop,RoundupReady soybean, it was sure it knew what it had created. The bean, the company told US regulators in 1993, contained a single new strand of DNA designed to make it resistant to Monsanto's brand of weed killer, Roundup.

Seven years on, however, Monsanto has realised it was wrong. New research by the company, due to be published in the next few weeks, will reveal the discovery of two rogue fragments of DNA in the soybean, the world's most widespread GM crop. The disclosure has already prompted concern among genetic scientists and alarm from environmentalists.

They point out that such surprise pieces of genetic material could have unknown effects on human health and the environment. There could also be similar unexpected bits of DNA in the related genetically modified-contaminated oilseed rape inadvertently planted by hundreds of Scottish farmers this spring.

"These results demonstrate that genetic modification is a clumsy process, not precise as is often claimed," said Dr Sue Mayer, director of Genewatch, an independent research group. "There is no control over how many genes, in what order, or where they are inserted.

"It has taken Monsanto almost a decade to provide what they now say is an accurate analysis of the DNA in Roundup Ready soybean. Additional copies or fragments of genes may affect the operation of the other inserted genes, which could have consequences for the performance and composition of the plant. This may have implications for human and environmental safety."


Top PreviousFront Page
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 20:07:51 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson rwolfson@concentric.net GEN5-29

Firms move to avoid risk of contamination

By Nick Nuttall, Environment Correspondent, London Times, 29 May 2000
http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/tim/2000/05/29/timnwsnws010....

SOME of the world's biggest seed companies are moving their operations to countries free of genetically modified production to reduce the risk of contamination, it emerged yesterday.

Advanta, the company at the centre of the storm over GM impurities in the British oilseed rape crop said that it had abandonded producing seed in western Canada because the risk of cross pollination from GM crops and other was now too high.

David Buckridge, the European business director, said the company had moved some of its production to New Zealand, where no GM production takes place, and the rest to New Brunswick in eastern Canada and Montana in the United States.

Pioneer Hi-Bred, which supplies 12 per cent of the British maize crop, has enforced a similar strategy after worries that GM impurities in supposedly non-GM seeds were soaring. Most of its European maize seed production has moved to Romania, Hungary and Austria.

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.


Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign, for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
500 Wilbrod Street Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
tel. 613-565-8517 fax. 613-565-1596 email: rwolfson@concentric.net

Our website, http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html contains more information on genetic engineering as well as previous genetic engineering news items. Subscription fee to genetic engineering news is $35 (USD for those outside Canada) for 12 months, payable to "BanGEF" and mailed to the above address. Or see website for details.