Here is the most recent newsletter from Genetic ID:
Table of Contents
Catherine Orpet, Editor
Thursday August 3 5:34 PM ET
RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has banned the import of foodstuffs containing genetically modified ingredients, including soya bean oil, a newspaper reported on Thursday.
The al-Eqtisadiah daily quoted Commerce Minister Osama bin Jaafar Faqih as saying the decision was taken due to lack of agreement among several countries on whether to allow the import and export of produce which had been genetically treated.
By Janice Tibbetts,
The Ottawa Citizen,
August 4, 2000
All animals except humans are now patentable in Canada following a court ruling yesterday that awarded ownership rights to a genetically altered mouse that was invented at Harvard University to help in the fight against cancer.
The landmark declaration from the Federal Court of Appeal is expected to spark a fierce debate over bioethics and whether humans should have the right to patent other living things.
In a 3-2 ruling, the court overturned an earlier court ruling and a decision from Canada's Patents Commissioner by ordering the federal government to award Harvard Medical School the sole Canadian rights to a laboratory mouse engineered to carry a cancer-causing gene.
The ruling comes 12 years after the United States and nine years after European countries awarded a patent for the Harvard mouse, which is well known in medical circles as the "oncomouse" used to test treatments for breast, prostate and other forms of cancer.
Harvard first applied for a Canadian patent 15 years ago, but until yesterday had been blocked at every turn.
The judges based their decision on a strict interpretation of the Canadian Patent Law rather than the fierce moral debate surrounding the issue, which they repeatedly asserted is a matter for Parliament rather than the courts.
"There may be policy reasons against the patentability of higher life forms, or lower life forms, for that matter," Justice Marshall Rothstein wrote in his 55-page majority opinion.
"However, such arguments are for Parliament and not the courts."
The court warned it draws the line at people and that the decision in no way endorses patents of human life, which would be banned under the liberty guarantees of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"The potential extension to human beings is an obvious concern," the court said. "The answer is clearly that the Patent Act cannot be extended to cover human beings. Patenting is a form of ownership of property. Ownership concepts cannot be extended to human beings."
But Judge Rothstein found that since Canada already allows patents for lower life forms, such as yeast and mould, there is no reason that higher life forms cannot be patented as well, because they are not excluded under the definition of the Patent Act.
But a bioethics lawyer warned the ruling gives rise to "serious ethical issues" and he urged the federal government to amend its Patent Act to specifically prohibit ownership rights to animals.
"This isn't about curing cancer, this is about making money," said Paul Muldoon of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, which intervened in the case.
"I can see that many animals will be genetically altered for whatever reason and industry will have control. You can play around with one or two genes and the next thing you know you can own a mammal, so that has a very profound impact from both an ethical point of view, in terms of everything from animal welfare to how we view nature as something that can be appropriated and owned."
In a lengthy dissent, Justice Julius Isaac stressed the need for caution in approaching new technologies and said the court should adhere to the decision of the Patent Commissioner, who rejected the mouse a decade ago.
"In a morally divisive case such as this one, the court should defer to the commissioner's decisions," wrote Judge Isaac, who invited Parliament to revamp its legislation.
August 4, 2000, Web posted at: 8:56 AM EDT (1256 GMT)
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil The global battle over genetically modified food is spilling into Brazil, South America's largest economy. And the consequences will be huge for U.S. exporters to Brazil of nearly $2 billion a year in food products and commodities such as corn and soybeans. They'll be big for Brazil, too, forcing it to choose between the United States and Europe as its target export market.
Saturday August 5
PARIS (Reuters) - The French government ordered on Saturday the destruction of 46 hectares of soya crop after tests revealed that the seeds had been contaminated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
It was the second time this year that the French have moved against GMO-tainted crops and underlined the government's determination to limit the spread of such organisms.
A statement signed by four ministries said the contaminated soya seed had been planted in fields in the far south of the country around the Bouches-du-Rhone and Herault.
It said that the seed contained between 0.8 percent and 1.5 percent of genetically modified material. It did not reveal which company had supplied the seed.
Daily Mail (UK) 2000-08-05
A FOOD manufacturer has banned genetically-modified ingredients from its products despite being one of the world's largest providers of GM seeds.
In an astonishing case of double standards, the Swiss firm Novartis has declared that GM ingredients will not be used in its famous brands such as Gerber baby food and Ovaltine.
The policy was revealed in a letter the company sent to the Belgian office of Greenpeace in an attempt to gain entry to a list of GM-free food producers.
Novartis said it had decided to avoid using GM ingredients because of opposition among consumers to so-called 'Frankenstein foods.
With the current sentiment among the population towards genetically-modifed organisms, we have decided to take all necessary practical measures to avoid using GMOs in our products worldwide,' the letter said.
These measures will include demanding certificates from suppliers guaranteeing their products are GM-free.
Charles Margulis, the leader of Greenpeace's campaign against GM foods in the U.S., said yesterday: 'It will be interesting to see what they are going to tell the farmers now when they are selling biotech seeds.' Fellow Greenpeace campaigner Isabelle Meister said Novartis had taken the lead to abolish the 'double standard' of selling non-modified food to Europe while selling unlabelled GM food to Asia and the Americas. She called on other producers to follow the company's example.
Asked about its conflict of interest as a vociferous promoter of GM seeds, a Novartis spokesman said: 'All our business centres operate independently in totally different markets. The market for seeds is totally different from the market for foods. 'We are convinced that GM plants provide advantages to farmers and processors and will offer clear benefits to consumers in the future.'
Novartis plans to merge its agricultural business with Britain's AstraZeneca, forming a new company called Syngenta.
Novartis is not the first biotechnology company to be accused of double standards over genetic modification. Last December its U.S. rival Monsanto banned GM foods from a staff canteen run by an independent caterer at one of its British offices.
Publication date: 2000-08-05
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.
(7 August - Cropchoice News) The Greek agriculture minister announced today that the country will destroy over 9,000 acres of fields planted with biotech-contaminated cotton. Greece says it will pay affected farmers an estimated 3.5 million dollars. It is the first time that a government has ordered the destruction of a biotech crop used primarily for nonfood purposes.
Greek officials say that more than 6 tons of cotton seed imported this year contained GMOs, none of which are approved for commercial planting in the country. By destroying the contaminated fields, Greece hopes to avoid problems with its major cotton exports to other European countries.
The announcement marks the third GMO-contaminated crop to be plowed under in Europe this year. In May, several countries destroyed GMO-contaminated canola seed imported from Canada and France decided this weekend to destroy a small plot of biotech contaminated soybeans. The plot, with up to 1.5% biotech content, was for seed production.
Greek farmers were the biggest victims of the latest mixup, which was caused by seed companies not keeping conventional varieties separate from GMOs. None of the seeds were supposed to be biotech.
Greece produces just short of 400,000 metric tons of cotton fibre (excluding seeds & oil) a year - equivalent just over 10% of US production.
Source: Reuters, Greenpeace-Greece
Contact: the Campaign Against Human Genetic Engineering
Box 6313, London N16 5BZ, firstname.lastname@example.org
June/July 2000 edition
GM food issues are likely to be in and out of the news, but what other genetic experiments should we be worrying about? Sarah Irving talks to Dr Michael Antoniou, genetics researcher at Guy's Hospital in London and commentator on genetic engineering issues.
As a scientist studying genetics daily, Michael Antoniou is very well equipped to comment on the dangers of genetic experimentation: "I took the initiative to raise my concerns publicly on GM food because I thought that what was being claimed was simply not representative of the truth...if you move genes around in the very imprecise way that gene technology does, you're simply going to disrupt normal gene function and you're going to bring about unpredictable outcomes that are far greater than the intended changes. I felt that what was being put out by the government and industry scientists about the technology was simply inaccurate."
Taking such a stance has not necessarily been easy: "I've had quite a lot of sympathy from my colleagues. But I know from the pro-GM side, especially from the research institutes, they think I've broken rank...What really offends me is that if you read the scientific journals they'll openly acknowledge the imprecision in the technology and the difficulty they have producing the desired outcome. Yet when they're trying to sell it to the government or the public, this is the most precise and predictable thing that's ever come around."
Dr Antoniou attributes part of the failure to acknowledge the problems of GM to the commercial interests behind much of the research: "GM and agriculture have become so commercially driven that the applications of the technology have become severed from their basic science roots - it's moving forward at a tremendous pace to produce all these crops for commercial use, but at the same time it doesn't heed the warnings of our deepening understanding of biology, ecology and genetics."
He also questions the arguments used to justify GM crops: "Golden Eye rice has been engineered by a Swiss researcher to have genes from daffodils to make the rice have vitamin A in it, because there are all these people in the world who eat mainly rice so they're deficient in vitamin A and they suffer from blindness; sounds great - we engineer the rice to have vitamin A in it, so now at least they won't suffer from blindness. The question not being asked is WHY are these people having to live only on rice? Firstly, there are natural varieties of rice what are rich in vitamin A, but they've been displaced by the so-called high-yielding, 'green revolution' rices.
In addition, because of the high chemical inputs in rice production, they can't grow anything but rice in paddy fields, whereas before they used to have quite a diverse agriculture...What is the cause here? It's using genetics to try and cover up world problems that we need to face up to now. It's the demands that the North puts on the developing world that is depriving some of these local cultures. Because we want cash crops, they're producing things for us and not for themselves."
The great danger that Dr Antoniou sees for future GM is the manipulation of human genes. Highly emotive issues such as hereditary illness make the debates on this subject difficult and complex, but Antoniou draws the line at any GM which would affect future generations. He sees public regulation as vital in restricting abuses: "...given the very consumerist society we live in, the temptation to select and do genetic manipulation to enhance certain characteristics is, I think, there, especially if this kind of technology gets into the private sector and is offered on a commercial basis. If you start thinking that genes = life and start selecting for this gene or discarding that gene and imposing your desires on your child and future generations, you're reducing life to a commodity product. It's like going to the supermarket and picking one brand or another of breakfast cereal."
Antoniou also expresses his fears of the potential eugenic uses of human GM, allowing traits perceived as 'undesirable' to be totally eliminated from society: "What we need to make sure is that things remain very, very tightly controlled and regulated, because very soon we're going to have a total human genome map which means that you will be able to screen for any gene you like. People have tried to do it in the past - the eugenics programmes in Nazi Germany or the US or in other parts of the world earlier this century were aimed at that sort of thing - the elimination of undesirables, selecting for what you thought were the prettiest or smartest people. And this issue is going to affect everyone; I think what we learnt through GM food can be applied equally here: we need to make our voices heard if we're concerned."
This material first appeared in Ethical Consumer magazine issue 65. A subscription to EC costs #19 per year from Ethical Consumer, Unit 21, 41 Old Birley St, Manchester M15 5RF http://www.ethicalconsumer.org
Ethical Consumer Magazine|
& The Ethical Consumer Research Association (ECRA)
Unit 21, 41 Old Birley Street
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Thanks to "NLP Wessex" email@example.com for posting this
(9 August - Cropchoice News) A Canadian canola and flaxseed oil company says it has recieved inquiries from snack food maker Frito Lay. The Dallas based company is reportedly looking to switch to biotech-free cooking oil suppliers. Moving to conventional oil would extend the committment the major snack food maker made earlier this year to go GMO-free in its corn ingredients.
In an article published yesterday in the Calgary Herald, a co-owner of Highwood Crossing Farm in Alberta says the Canadian Consulate in Dallas called on behalf of Frito Lay looking to see if Highwood could provide non-GMO oil to the US company. But according to Highwood, which presses oil to order, the farm had to decline because it can't come close to meeting Frito Lay's demand.
Tony Marshall, Highwood's owner, says "Frito Lay was looking for non-genetically modified canola oil to use in their product and asked if we could supply them. As much as we would have loved to, we just don't have the capacity."
Marshall says demand is high for his certified organic oil, which is tested GMO clean. He told the Calgary paper "We get a lot of calls from people wanting to buy it by the tanker load." Highwood specializes in cold pressed, unrefined flax and canola oils, which the farm says are popular among chefs for their flavor and consumers for the nutrition.
Frito Lay turned heads in late January when it announced it would go GMO-free in its corn (and potato) snack food ingredients. But the company's posture on processed ingredients like oils was less clear. In the US, Frito operates its own elevators and sources 95% of its corn from contracts with corn growers in states like Illinois. Producers are asked to choose a variety from a list of approved non-GMO types. Those who plant unapproved varieties risk Frito Lay not buying them.
In 1999, Frito Lay put 1.2 billion pounds of corn into the 9 billion packages of snack foods it sells each year in the USA. Most are fried or contain vegetable oil as an important ingredient.
Source: Calgary Herald, News Gazette (Urbana-Champaign)
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.
This article is about Steve Wilson and Jane Akre who produced a documentary on genetically engineered growth hormone. They were fired after the refused to alter the documentary and take out negative content about BGH.
The trial of fired Fox journalists Jane Akre and Steve Wilson enters the home stretch this week. The fifth and final week of testimony begins today and the case should go to the jury later this week.
Details are available at: http://www.foxBGHsuit.com/jasw081400.htm
By Paul Brown and Simon Bowers, The Guardian, August 10, 2000
The triffid, the terrifying flesh eating plant which has struck fear in the overactive imaginations of readers since the 1950s, may not be quite as fictional as once thought, it emerged yesterday.
Alan McHughen, professor and senior research scientist at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada has developed a new GM flax plant, which he claims is almost impossible to kill. So impossible, in fact, he has named his creation the triffid.
"Man thought he could master the triffid," wrote John Wyndham in The Day of the Triffids in 1953, "tap it for oil, and stake it in the fields to stop the plants walking away on their three roots."
That was before the plants started inflicting their "blind terror" on mankind and destroying their masters.
Prof McHughen, who claims his creation was named after an astronomical nebula and not Wyndham's horrifying plant, concedes that his triffid is also designed to be tapped for its oil, though he does not expect it to walk or eat people.
Sounding increasingly like a scientist from Wyndham's book himself, the professor insists the plant's great selling point is that it is hard to kill with herbicide. Prof McHughen's triffid was bred to resist weedkillers and grow in fields contaminated with excess herbicide that would normally kill ordinary flax and oil seed rape.
Thanks to Sharon Labchuk firstname.lastname@example.org for posting this:
CBC-TV Charlottetown, August 10, 2000
The company, owned by the Irving family of New Brunswick, says it is listening to the concerns of the large restaurant chains. The fast food outlets have been targeted by protesters for using the products.
Cavendish has sent letters to 12 P.E.I. farmers telling them it won't be buying genetically modified potatoes after this growing year. ...
P.E.I.'s other large processing plant, owned by McCain's, has also made the decision to stop buying GM potatoes.
By Paul Waugh, Deputy Political Editor
Independent, UK, 11 August 2000
The government's policy on genetically modified crops was thrown into confusion yesterday when it admitted that local councils could challenge the legality of its latest GM farm trials.
The announcement by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) followed warnings from Greenpeace that the trials were unlawful. The environmental group said it was ready to launch a legal challenge on the grounds that the tests planned for this winter breached planning laws.
Greenpeace barristers claim that the Government needs planning permission for a change of use for the 25 trial sites announced by ministers earlier this month. Permission would have to be applied for and granted by local authorities because the sites were no longer being used for agriculture but for research purposes.
In the light of its legal advice, Greenpeace has given ministers 14 days to either apply for permission or provide adequate reasons for failing to do so. If the Government fails to respond, a judicial review will be sought from the High Court, a move that could freeze the trials programme and de-rail research considered vital by scientists.
Here is a press release from USA:
From Joseph Lemieux <
BioDemocracy and Organic Consumers Association
6114 Hwy 61, Little Marais, MN 55614
Activist or Media Inquiries (218) 226-4164 Fax (218) 226-4157
Boycott Vitamin C Products
Almost all vitamin C sold in this country is now being derived from Genetically Engineered (GE) Corn.
Soloray, Solgar, N.O.W., Schiff, Twin Labs, Country Life and Nature's Life all have acknowledged to me, that their Vitamin C is (all or partially) derived from GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CORN. None of these companies sell Vitamin C that is certified organic or labeled organic.
Let your local health food store and the vitamin companies know that this is not acceptable to you. Call your health food store and the vitamin companies listed below and let them know you will be boycotting their Vit. C products and that you demand that they source a non-GMO (genetically modified) form of ascorbic acid and that you want it in writing that they can guarantee their Vit. C is not derived from GE corn.
This is a segment of the natural supplement industry that many of us have put great faith in. Let them know how you feel and demand non-GMO derived Vitamin C!
Prepared by Joseph Lemieux, owner: Total Health Organic Foods Coop, Spring Hill, FL and OCA Coordinator.
By Charles Arthur, Technology Editor,
14 August 2000
The scientists who created Dolly the cloned sheep will halt experiments with genetically modified (GM) pigs to produce organs for human transplants, because of concern that they could produce deadly new diseases.
The decision follows mounting independent evidence that pigs' DNA contains HIV-like "retroviruses" which, while harmless to the animals, could have unpredictable effects if let loose in a human host.
Geron Bio-Med, the Californian company which has exclusive rights to the cloning technology developed at the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh, has halted funding partly due to the fears.
ATHENS, Greece, August 11, 2000 (ENS) - Greek agriculture minister Giorgos Anomeritis has ordered the destruction of between 2,000 and 4,000 hectares (4,942 and 9,884 acres) of cotton found to be contaminated with genetically modified material
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.
Source: Canada Newswire Publication date: 2000-08-15
TORONTO, Aug. 15 /CNW/ - Ninety-five percent of Canadians believe they should have the right to choose whether or not they buy foods containing genetically modified ingredients. This is according to a recent survey he CHFA Health Study onducted by the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA).
Cropchoice News, 8/15/00
It's not a philosophical beef with biotech that is driving prairie producer unrest about GMO canola, it's a bottom line problem: herbicide resistant plants are spreading like wildfire, causing management problems and new expenses. The spread of resistance means more trips across the field and more inputs to buy. Lavern Affleck, a canola producer in Moosomin, Saskatchewan says "I'm not anti-technology. But I'm having trouble with this one... science is working against us."
Attention was focused on the issue earlier this summer with the trial in Monsanto's infamous lawsuit against Saskatchewan canola producer Percy Schmeiser, who is accused of violating Monsanto's patent rights. Schmeiser says he was a victim of cross pollination and has filed a countersuit. Canada's major national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, ran a feature piece on Monday on the unchecked spread of herbicide resistance, calling GMO canola's movements a "seed invasion".
Canola varieties resistant to Roundup, Liberty, Pursuit and Odyessy have been sold in Canada, with reports of cross-pollination and resistant volunteers increasing dramatically in the last 2 years. Affleck is especially angry with Monsanto because he has never planted RR crops. He does use Roundup for weed control; but this year its less useful because of the large number of Roundup resistant canola plants that were blown into and are germinating in his wheat.
Now, Affleck has to look to other sprays to control the problem. He told the Globe and Mail "It may be necessary to use a lot more potentially more harmful chemicals to kill this monster... I will never get rid of that crop. And I will never be able to grow an organic crop... for the future, I will never be able to effectively use Roundup for my weed control."
According to the Globe and Mail, the Canadian Government does not deny that there is an emerging problem with the spread of herbicide resistance.
July 11, 2000
Amid growing debate over the safety and productivity of genetically modified crops in its own country, the United States is looking to allocate at least US$30 million to promote U.S. agro-biotechnology in the former communist bloc. Additional funding is earmarked for technical exchange programmes forforeign officials to teach them about the U.S. regulatory system "to approve agricultural products using biotechnology".
By Heather Scoffield, The Globe and Mail, Monday, August 14, 2000
Ottawa Saskatchewan canola farmer Lavern Affleck thought long and hard before going public with his concerns about genetically modified seeds. Many people are fearful of the environmental and health effects of modified seeds, which are altered with genes from other plants to make them resistant to herbicides, but Mr. Affleck had found much of the criticism too radical or irrational for his tastes.
However, after he saw herbicide-resistant canola unexpectedly popping up all over his fields this spring, and learned about other farmers whose fields were also invaded by modified seeds spreading from neighbouring farms, he figured the time had come to speak out. "I'm not anti-technology. But I'm having trouble with this one," Mr. Affleck said in an interview earlier this summer from his farm near Moosomin. "We are not environmentalists. We are not against science. "We readily adopt new ideas and implement them on our farm and businesses. We like to see progress," he said.
"However . . . in the case of GMOs [genetically modified organisms], we feel that we are being unwillingly swept into a situation where that science is working against us." More and more farmers have been expressing their concern that genetically modified canola may be out of control on the Prairies, said Percy Schmeiser. Mr. Schmeiser is the Saskatchewan farmer who has been battling biotechnology multinational Monsanto Co. in Federal Court. St. Louis-based Monsanto has accused Mr. Schmeiser of breaking patent laws by obtaining Monsanto's genetically modified Roundup Ready canola seed, breeding it and planting it without paying Monsanto the required fees. Monsanto and Mr. Schmeiser finished their court hearings last month and they're now waiting for a decision, expected in September at the earliest.
In the meantime, publicity surrounding the trial has prompted dozens of farmers to contact Mr. Schmeiser to discuss their concerns about out-of-control canola, Mr. Schmeiser said. "I've had at least 100 farmers across the West telling me about problems they're having with volunteer canola. It's just unreal the number of people who have canola in their fields after they have sprayed." So-called "volunteers" are canola plants that sprout in a farmer's field even though they weren't planted there by the farmer. Most volunteer canola spreads by wind or in pollen carried by bees.
The farmers talking to Mr. Schmeiser say they're finding large amounts of volunteer canola in their grain fields. And because much of that volunteer canola is genetically modified to withstand Roundup, a powerful weed killer made by Monsanto, farmers complain they're having to adopt increasingly complex and expensive systems of spraying herbicides to keep the volunteer canola at bay and out of their fields.
"They've lost control of it now," Mr. Schmeiser said. "That is a very serious thing."...
For Mr. Affleck, the prevalence of Roundup Ready canola has meant the loss of a major weed-control tool. He has never planted Monsanto's canola because he makes extensive use of the Roundup herbicide to control weeds in all his crops. He didn't want any plant that was resistant to Roundup mixed up in his system.
But a strong windstorm blew swaths of Roundup Ready canola on to his fields, and now, he can't effectively use Roundup any longer to control weeds in his crops. He's had to add another herbicide to the roster to get rid of the genetically modified canola growing like weeds among his wheat. "It may be necessary to use a lot more potentially more harmful chemicals to kill this monster."
He called Monsanto about the problem, and the company agreed to pay for the treatment. But he's not so sure Monsanto will be around to pick up the bill every year. And evidence is growing that Monsanto's canola is not only resistant to Roundup, but is also becoming resistant to other herbicides as well a suspicion the Canadian Food Inspection Agency shares. "I will never get rid of that crop. And I will never be able to grow an organic crop," he said. "And for the future, I will never be able to effectively use Roundup for my weed control."
National Post, August 12, 2000
OTTAWA - Health Canada has commissioned a study to ask Canadians how they would feel about being implanted with a baboon heart or a kidney from a pig.
With thousands of patients waiting for scarce human organs for transplant, some medical authorities think doctors may have to begin performing xenotransplantation-the use of non-human tissue for transplants. So the government is paying the Canadian Public Health Association to carry out a 14-month consultation across the country to get input on the topic from ordinary Canadians. "The views of Canadians will help guide the future development of government policy on xenotransplantation in Canada," Allan Rock, the federal Health Minister, said yesterday.
By Michael Bengwayan
LOS BANOS, Laguna, Philippines, August 17, 2000 (ENS) - Rice farmers in the Philippines are apprehensive about a plan by the International Rice Research Institute, the world largest rice research agency, to field test the controversial genetically modified bacterial blight rice - BB-rice. For full text and graphics visit:
A loaf of bread could soon become controversial. From university laboratories to US government-run greenhouses, research is moving forward to bring the first genetically modified (GMO) wheat to market as early as 2003.
Thanks to ngin email@example.com and "NLP Wessex" firstname.lastname@example.org for posting this:
by Michael Byrnes, REUTERS NEWS SERVICE 18th August 2000
SYDNEY Australia's big grains export industry has begun cashing in on worldwide consumer fears about genetically modified (GM) food by selling canola to Europe with a non-GM price premium.
The sales involve about 150,000 tonnes of canola, for shipment earlynext year at a non-GM premium of about US$5 a tonne, well-placed industry sources told Reuters.
This was a clear-cut example of how Australia, which has so far resisted following Canada and the U.S. into genetically modified food crops, was making hay while the sun shines, analysts say.
A perceptual advantage which Australia was clearly beginning to enjoy over its North American GM-producing rivals was reinforced by United States farmers virtually giving up on strict separation of genetically modified (GM) grains from conventionally produced grains, analysts and traders also said. ...
Australia's non-GM canola competes directly with Canadian GM canola on export markets, and here consumer resistance, strengthened by the U.S. inability to separate all GM grains from non-GM grains, was boosting Australian sales, traders said.
"We believe that we're starting to see the early stages of the much-waited premium for non-GMO canola," one well-positioned grains trade source told Reuters, requesting anonymity.
Here is an update on the lawsuit against FOX TX for firing reporters who were fired after refusing to alter a story on genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH)
From: "Steve Wilson"
Date: Fri, 18 Aug 2000 21:56:53 -0000
Subject: [foxBGHsuit] VICTORY IN TAMPA!
This just in...
A Tampa jury late this afternoon returned a verdict in favor of investigative reporter Jane Akre. The six-member panel has awarded her $450,000 in damages, concluding she was fired from her job at WTVT in Tampa for threatening to report to the Federal Communications Commission that the station wanted her to broadcast a false and misleading news report about Monsanto's synthethic bovine growth hormone (rBGH).
The same jury decided Steve Wilson's resistence to distorting the news and his threat to report Fox's misconduct to the FCC was not "the" reason the station chose not to renew his contract.
More details will be posted right after we finish the last of this champagne!
Here is an article that shows how traditional sustainable methods can solve problems associated with GE and mono-cropping
Thanks to email@example.com (NLP Wessex) for posting this
Martin S. Wolfe is at Wakelyns Agroforestry, Fressingfield, Suffolk IP21 5SD, UK. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Martin S. Wolfe Nature 406, 681 - 682 (2000) ¬© Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
In conventional farming, single varieties of crop plants are grown alone. But mixing varieties may be a better option: several rice strains, planted together on a large scale, are more resistant to a major fungal disease.
Attempted solutions to the problems caused by modern agriculture, such as the overuse of fertilizers and pesticides, are usually expensive and often lead to new problems. But this need not be so, as Zhu and colleagues show on page 718 of this issue1. By growing a simple mixture of rice (Oryzae sativa) varieties across thousands of farms in China, they restricted the development of rice blast " the most significant disease of rice, caused by a fungus " to levels that are both acceptable and require no treatment with fungicide. This approach is a calculated reversal of the extreme monoculture that is spreading throughout agriculture, pushed by new developments in plant genetics.
Until about 100 years ago, monoculture was practised only at the level of species, with, for example, wheat, maize or rice becoming dominant in different climatic regions. Monoculture has since expanded to different levels, reducing the numbers of species, of varieties within species, and particularly of genetic differences within varieties. Monoculture is convenient: it is easier to plant, harvest, market and identify one variety of crop than several.
But there is a problem. If, for example, all the rice plants in a field are identical, a pathogenic fungus able to attack one plant has a potentially unlimited opportunity to spread throughout the field. At the moment, the solution is either to breed resistant varieties or to develop new fungicides. But the limitless potential for pathogen spread in monocultures leads to rapid selection of pathogens that can overcome resistant crop varieties and survive in the presence of fungicides. Continual replacement of crops and fungicides is possible, but only at considerable cost to farmer, consumer and environment.
A different approach is to reverse the tide of monoculture by growing several pathogen-resistant varieties as a mixture within a field. Darwin2 knew that mixtures of wheat are more productive than single varieties, but explanations for this phenomenon were lacking. It later emerged that mixtures restrict the spread of pathogens and, as a consequence, of disease. The explanation for this phenomenon is complex. The presence of several varieties in a mixture provides a physical barrier to the spread of fungal spores among the plants of one variety. But this is not the only explanation. For example, there is an immunization process among mixed plants. If a form of pathogen that is unable to infect a plant attempts to do so, the plant's disease-resistance mechanisms are activated in the part of the plant affected. Any genetically different spores that would normally be able to infect the plant fail to do so if they try to invade at the same place.
As Zhu et al.1 point out, the net result is a damping of the development of epidemics within the field, with an increase in the complexity of the pathogen population, which may also slow the adaptation of the pathogen to the mixture3. This is because there may be competition among individual pathogen genotypes that are well adapted to specific varieties in the mixture, and those that thrive on different combinations of varieties but are less specialized. Using different mixtures of varieties in different fields in different years could slow down adaptation of the pathogen even more.
Zhu et al.1 sought to answer one main question: if we can slow down the development of epidemics in one field, what happens if we greatly increase the area of mixed varieties? Will the damping effect multiply across fields? The answer was a clear 'yes'. But first the authors had to persuade all the rice farmers in a large area " within the Yunnan Province, China " that they should grow a particular mixture of rice varieties. The effectiveness of the response from the rice, and from the farmers, thousands of whom participated, was such that it was relatively simple to increase the size of the experiment further in subsequent years. The level of rice blast (Fig. 1; caused by the fungus Magnaporthe grisea) was hugely decreased in the target areas, and the farmers stopped using fungicides. This deceptively simple experiment deserves wide attention, partly because of the principle that it illustrates, and partly because it may never be repeated on such a scale.
Figure 1 The main disease of rice (rice blast, pictured inset) spreads more slowly in mixtures of rice varieties than in monocultures, as Zhu et al. discover in their large-scale experiments in China. Full legend
High resolution image and legend (61k)
Some important questions could not be tackled in this study. The experiment was designed to look at a single major pathogen, the fungus that causes rice blast. But, because the same principles apply to many plant pathogens4, it is possible to show that several diseases can be restricted in one crop mixture. For example, during studies for the Elm Farm Research Centre, Hamstead Marshall, Berkshire, UK (see ref. 5), I have recorded the simultaneous restriction of at least three observable diseases in mixtures of wheat varieties relative to single components of the mixtures. There is also evidence that mixtures can buffer against unpredictable abiotic variables, such as cold winter temperatures6. Indeed, it is likely that the stability of yields from variety mixtures over different environments5, compared with yields from their components grown as monocultures, results partly from combined restriction of biotic and abiotic stresses.
So why is the mixture approach not used widely? Is it just too simple, not making enough use of high technology? One reason has been concern among farmers and end-users about the quality of the product of the mixtures relative to that of pure varieties: mixtures are said to be unpredictable in terms of quality and ease of harvesting. In practice, such concerns appear to either evaporate or be easily dealt with, as Zhu et al. show. In their case, for example, harvesting by hand " a practice common among rice farmers in Yunnan Province " ensured that rice varieties with different qualities could easily be separated and retained for their individual markets. There is also evidence7 that mixtures can be designed not only to provide significant disease restriction, but also to improve product quality by combining complementary characters and providing stability.
Variety mixtures may not provide all the answers to the problems of controlling diseases and producing stable yields in modern agriculture. But their performance so far in experimental situations merits their wider uptake. More research is needed to find the best packages for different purposes and to breed varieties specifically for use in mixtures. And so far researchers have looked only at mixtures of varieties. Mixtures of species provide another layer of crop diversity, with half-forgotten advantages waiting to be exploited in contemporary approaches8, 9. It is widely recognized, for example, that high-yielding mixtures of grains and legumes (grass plus clover, maize plus beans, and many other combinations) can restrict the spread of diseases, pests and weeds10. At the same time, such mixtures can provide near-complete nutrition for animals and humans alike, without recourse to expensive and uncertain forays into genetic engineering.
Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign, for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
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