Thanks to NATURAL LAW PARTY WESSEX firstname.lastname@example.org www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex for posting this
East Europe, August 2000
The Czech Senate has supported a government draft amendment to the law on food products introducing obligatory labelling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The draft was approved in a vote on August 4 and was supported by 44 out of the 54 senators who voted.
Following its earlier approval by the parliament, the GMO labelling law is set to come into force later this year.
(6 September - Cropchoice News) California is about to enact a new law that will place a charge on sales of biotech rice varieties. The fee would cover the cost of enforcing segregation standards if GMO rice comes onto the market. California's biotech-pays approach is a reversal of the way things are done in corn and soybeans. It places some segregation costs on biotech seed, instead of saddling producers of conventional varieties with all of the segregation headaches.
The law has passed both parts of the stat legislature and is awaiting signature by the governor. Under the measure, a fee of up to $5 per hundredweight of seed (about an extra $8 per acre) would be levied on seed retailers who sell rice varieties with "characteristics of commercial impact".
From New Scientist magazine, vol 167 issue 2253, 26/08/2000, page 7
FEARS about the wisdom of giving people pigs' organs were reawakened last week. A study in the US shows that transplanting pig tissue into mice can lead to their becoming infected by viruses lurking in the pigs' DNA, while another in France suggests that controlling these viruses will be even harder than anyone thought.
It's been known since 1997 that porcine endogenous retroviruses, or PERVs, can infect human cells growing in culture. Now David Onions of Glasgow University and his colleagues in the US have shown that when pig pancreatic islet cells-the cells that make insulin-are transplanted into mice with deficient immune systems, PERVs jump the species barrier and infect mouse tissues. Their results will appear in Nature.
By Malcolm Sailor,
The Saskatoon StarPhoenix
September 7, 2000, Forum, A10
Malcolm Sailor writes in this letter that a statement on genetically modified foods, signed by 345 scientists from 41 countries to be submitted We, the undersigned scientists, call for the immediate suspension of all environmental releases of GM crops and products, both commercially and in open field trials, for at least five years; for patents on living processes, organisms, seeds, cell lines and genes to be revoked and banned; and for a comprehensive public inquiry into the future of agriculture and food security for all ... According to the UN food program, there is enough food to feed the world one-and-a-half times over. While world population has grown 90 per cent in the past 40 years, the amount of food per capita has increased by 25 per cent, yet one billion are hungry. It is on account of increasing corporate monopoly, operating under the globalized economy, that the poor are getting poorer and hungrier ... Successive studies have documented the productivity and the social and environmental benefits of sustainable, low-input and organic farming in both North and South. They offer the only practical way of restoring agricultural land degraded by conventional agronomic practices and
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.
Cropchoice News http://www.cropchoice.com 9/11/00
Thisyear's crop isn't even harvested yet; but the big seed companies are already asking for your 2001 seed (and tech fee) dollars. Novartis, the Swiss company that owns NK Seeds, announced 22 new corn and soybean varieties today.
In another few weeks your mailbox will be stuffed with flyers about them. One disturbing aspect for producers may be choice: only a quarter of the varieties are conventional. Most are YieldGard, Liberty Link, or Roundup Ready, all traits Novartis licensed from other big biotech seed companies like Monsanto and Aventis. Many are also "stacked" types that contain more than one genetic modification.
Novartis sells American farmers GMO seed; but it will not buy its own products. Last month the company announced that it has banned GMOs from the foods it makes.
The company knows farmers are upset about the mixed message. Alluding in part to biotech, Novartis corn seed manager Marc Hennen suggests farmers act like Novartis on biotech - go both ways. Hennen says "Just as a financial manager encourages investors to spread risk across a variety of stocks, we encourage farmers to take a portfolio approach to their seed selections."
But farmers might not be too happy about filling their "portfolio" with GMOs whose market is uncertain. Groups like the American Corn Growers Association find evidence that the market for GMOs won't quickly improve. Just last week, the Italian Prime Minster personally decided to tighten that county's seed laws against biotech seed, specifically including Novartis Bt corn.
More than half (5 of 9) new hybrid corn offerings are GMO (all are stacked YieldGard and LibertyLink), and a whopping 11 of 13 soybeans are biotech, mainly Roundup Ready.
While the super-sized companies squeeze their customers into biotech through a reduced offering of new conventional seeds, others see an opportunity. Several smaller seed producers that aren't too restrained by agreements with the biotech giants, like Fielder's Choice and NC+ Organics, are upping their non-GMO offerings for next year.
2001 will also see a dramatic expansion in the number of certified non-GMO varieties available, which may offer options to farmers who don't see what they want in Novartis and other big company's catalogs. [Stay tuned to Cropchoice for more news on biotech and non-biotech seed for 2001.]
BY Lawrence Budd, Dayton Daily News, September 10, 2000
"I hope it's not that (GM pollen)," Wilson said. "If it's so bad for them, it's got to be bad for us,"Wilson said.
WAYNESVILLE - An international survey of Monarch butterflies held locally at Caesars Creek State Park is turning up fewer creatures than last year, a decline of special concern because a 1999 study found Monarch caterpillars can't stomach a biotechnology-engineered toxin widely used in genetically altered corn in Ohio.
Hayley Johnson smiled in wonder Saturday as the Monarch butterfly she set free flitted off toward its winter haven in the mountains of central Mexico.
The 8-year-old Oakwood girl took part in the survey coordinated by Monarch Watch, a Kansas-based group tracking the 2,000 to 3,000 migrations of the delicate creatures.
This year, fewer Monarchs flew into local volunteers' nets since tagging began in August, coordinator Joanne Wilson said. No hard numbers were available Saturday.
While skeptical of an environmental hazard, OSU researchers say Ohio farmers might want to abandon the more expensive BT corn for traditional brands simply on a cost basis.
"You can be darn sure farmers aren't going to pay for something if they don't need it," said Pete Lane, the OSU agricultural extension agent in Montgomery County.
Scrutiny of BT corn use began last year. Scientist John Losey published a study in the science magazine Nature blaming the deaths of 44 percent of Monarch caterpillars he had fed milkweed leaves dusted with BT. The toxin has been added through genetic modification to corn seeds to kill caterpillars feeding on cornstalks. Other research has since raised questions about Losey's findings, which were attacked by the agribusiness industry.
Still Losey's work has prompted more research designed to end the debate over whether BT corn, which Lane said is used by almost half of all Ohio farmers, could be killing Monarchs and other butterfly species before they sprout wings.
"I hope it's not that," Wilson said. "If it's so bad for them, it's got to be bad for us," Wilson said.
Lane dismissed the significance of Losey's findings, charging the dosage used was larger than that found in BT corn and the milkweeds favored by Monarch caterpillars seldom grow near corn crops.
"BT corn is an alternative to going out there and spraying something that will kill not only Monarch butterflies, but any insect, good or bad," Lane said.
While skeptical of the environmental hazards, Lane said studies by OSU researchers suggest another reason for farmers to giving up on the genetically altered seeds, which have been in use since 1995.
"Overall, it appears the cost premium of BT corn doesn't prove out," Lane said. "The damage to corn rarely exceeds the cost of treating the corn."
Meanwhile butterfly lovers like Hayley Johnson and her friends at E.D. Smith School in Oakwood will continue to study the orange-and-black beauties.
"I just like them. I like the way they fly," she said.
World News From Radio Australia
Citing safety concerns, the Indonesian government says it will order a subsidiary of the US-based agrochemical company Monsanto to stop using genetically modified cotton seeds.
Environment Minister Sonny Keraf, citing the concerns aired by non governmental organizations says he will send a warning letter to Monsanto's Indonesian subsidiary PT Monagro Kimia.
He says coordinating economic minister Rizal Ramli had agreed to delay the signing of an agreement, which had been scheduled for Friday, with the US parent company on the development of the cotton seeds.
Mr Karaf says Indonesia had signed an international agreement on biosafety which requires caution over the introduction of genetically modified organisms.
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.
Robert Cohen discovered that after rBGH came on the market in USA in 1994, lymphatic cancer skyrocketed. Previous to that, the rate was quite constant. Details below
An epidemic rise in one under-publicized category of cancers should sound an alarm for all Americans. There is a powerful link to the dramatic surge in lymphatic cancer: the 1994 approval of the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH). Before 1995, lymphatic cancers were comparatively rare.
Today, if one adds up the total number of cancer deaths from breast, prostate, lung, pancreatic, and genital cancers, they do not cumulatively equal the number of deaths from lymphatic cancers. Do I have your attention?
This year Americans will consume nearly 180 billion pounds of milk and dairy products in various forms. That will average out to 666 pounds per American, nearly 40% of the average American diet. Cheese eaters, ice cream slurpers, and milk drinkers of both sexes and every age group will be ingesting dairy products from hormonally-treated cows.
Most Americans are unaware that laboratory animals treated with rbGH experienced enormous changes in their lymphatic systems. The spleens of these animals grew dramatically.
The controversial genetically modified cow hormone was approved for human consumption in February of 1994. Cancer statistics have recently been published by the U.S. Census Bureau comparing death rates from cancer by sex and age groups in 1980, 1990, and 1995. These data support evidence of a runaway plague. All of America became a laboratory study for rbGH, which is now in America's ice cream, cheese, and pizza.
There are small increases and decreases in lymphatic cancer rates from 1980 to 1990 depending upon sex and age group. What happened in 1995 represents the most dramatic short-term increase of any single cancer in the history of epidemiological discovery and analyses.
DEATH RATES FROM LYMPHATIC CANCER BY SEX AND AGE (1980 - 1995)
(Deaths per 100,000 population in specified age group)
The approval process for rbGH was the most controversial drug application in the history of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). In order to address that controversy, the FDA published an article in the journal SCIENCE (August 24, 1990).
Data in that paper reveal that the average male rat receiving rbGH developed a spleen 39.6 percent larger than the spleen of the control animals after just 90 days of treatment. The spleens from rbGH-treated females increased in size by a factor of 46 percent. These are not normal reactions and portray animals in distress. These animals were "under attack" by the genetically engineered hormone. The spleen is the first line of defense in a mammal's lymphatic system.
Lab animals treated with rbGH developed lymphatic abnormalities. This same hormone causing changes in lab animals was introduced into America's food supply in 1994. As Americans continue to ingest genetically engineered milk and dairy products, lymphatic cancer rates soar. Americans have become laboratory subjects in genetic engineering's experiment, and the resulting data indicates extreme cause for concern.
By Fran Berger, HealthSCOUT Reporter, THURSDAY, Sept. 14
(HealthSCOUT) Gene therapy.
Ten years later, many questions remain
Those words, first uttered a decade ago, held infinite promise for the treatment and cure of genetic disorders. But after 10 years, hundreds of clinical trials and one highly publicized death, many are still waiting for their medical miracles.
Can gene therapy deliver on its promise? Yes, experts say, but it will take more time and much caution.
Gene therapy works, in theory, by introducing healthy genetic material into the body to repair damaged DNA. First, normal DNA is isolated and packaged into a delivery vehicle called a vector. The vector, usually made from a disabled virus, is sent into the body to infect a target cell in the damaged tissue. Once the vector reaches the affected tissue, normal DNA is released, protein is produced, and the cell is restored to normal.
Although it sounds simple, success has been rare. Since Ashanthi DeSilva -- now 14 and still living in Cleveland and Cynthia Cutshall now 19 and a sophomore at Kent State University in Ohio became the first and second people to receive gene therapy, more than 3,000 people have been given it. But only a handful of the treatments have succeeded.
It's a case of putting the cart before the horse, says Inder Verma, professor at the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute and president of the American Society of Gene Therapy. "We went too fast and didn't have an appreciation of the delivery systems that were deficient and the immunological consequences of the delivery system."
In the most recent and serious setback for gene therapy, 18-year-old Jesse Gelsinger died during a clinical trial for a rare metabolic disorder in September l999.
His highly publicized death shut down all other clinical trials at the University of Pennsylvania's Institute of Human Gene Therapy in Philadelphia, and put the failed experiment on front pages around the world.
Here is some good news for organic (non-GE) foods
By Matthew Taylor,
Leeds News (UK).,
Sat, Sep 16, 2000
FARMERS in Yorkshire have won a multi-million pound deal to help them to meet the growing demand for organic food.
The Government has unveiled a package worth £140m to persuade producers to convert from growing conventional produce to more environmentally friendly organic food.
More than 60 farmers have signed up to the deal, which will help more than 1,270 farmers over the next six years.
Countryside minister Elliot Morley said: “I am delighted farmers in Yorkshire are taking full advantage of the scheme.
“This Government is making major commitment to organics.
“In the end, it will be consumers who decide the size of the organic sector but we are determined that they should be given a choice.ö
He said the initiative represented a massive increase in the Government’s support for the sector, which has been given less than £1m a year in the past.
By Pennapa Hongthong, The Nation, Bangkok, 17 September 2000
CHIANG MAI - More than 1,000 farmers declared their opposition to both trade and research into genetically modified organisms (GMOs), as a mounting campaign on the issue reached its final destination.
The 10-day rally against GMOs - "The Asian Long March to Protect Perfect Bio-diversity" - featured a caravan from Bangkok to Songkhla and then to Phetchaburi, Roi Et, Mahasarakham, Loei and finally Chiang Mai.
The group of mostly Thai farmers was joined by representatives from the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Indonesia.
The purpose of the caravan was to pressure governments to say "no" to all trade involving GMO goods and stop all field research.
The farmers also called on the United States government and its embassies in the seven countries to stop interfering and pressuring Asian governments to support GMO products and research.
They also declared opposition to the industrial-based intellectual property law system and called for the abolishment of laws that provide patents on local wisdom and biological resources.
"We know it's not easy to fight powerful multinational corporations, but we believe the power of farmers and consumers is strong enough to protect our local genetic resources," the farmers said.
Abigail C Verdillo, an advocacy official for Masipag, a Filipino farmer-scientist partnership for development, said it is necessary for farmers to take action against GMOs. "Technology that goes beyond farmers' control is not good for the agricultural sector," she said.
For Thailand, farmers demanded that the government destroy all GMO rice seeds being developed for Pathum Thani's rice research under the supervision of the Agriculture Ministry.
They also campaigned for the labelling of GMO products, in order to protect consumer rights. Farmers at the final rally said that many agricultural workers they encountered during the campaign admitted that they still knew very little about GMOs.
The campaign received a warm welcome from farmers in Chiang Mai and nearby provinces. The local farmers joined their colleagues in expressing their concern and suggesting solutions to prevent the arrival of GM seeds in their communities.
They also sought ways to empower each other in fighting the controversial high-technology product.
Some suggested a boycott of all goods, including fertiliser and agricultural chemical products, of the GM cotton development corporation Monsanto (Thailand).
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.
ROME, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Farm Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio on Tuesday defended Italy's decision to ban four varieties of genetically modified to conventional maize.
Lord Melchett celebrates outside court with supporters A jury has found Greenpeace executive director Lord Peter Melchett and 27 environmental activists not guilty of causing criminal damage.
The defendants admitted destroying a six-and-a-half acre field of genetically modified maize at Walnut Tree Farm, Lyng, near Dereham, Norfolk, in July 1999, Norwich Crown Court heard during the two-week trial.
The campaign group said they were acting to prevent neighbouring property - organic crops and gardens - being damaged by genetically modified pollen.
Speaking immediately after the verdict, Peter Melchett, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, said:
"This acquittal totally vindicates our campaign to prevent genetic pollution of the environment. The Government clearly cannot find a jury prepared to convict us for protecting property and the environment from genetic pollution. We now call on Government to end the GM farm scale trials before any further genetic pollution of the environment occurs."
More on Aventis corn and taco shells
SOURCE: Reuters Securities, PR Newswire, ACGA,
(21 September - Cropchoice News) Poisoned arrows are flying in the controversy over Starlink Bt corn contamination of Taco Bell taco shells. The company that makes Starlink, Aventis, didn't just fire back at the activists that accused it. Aventis also flung a barb at Genetic ID, the independent lab that did the testing. Aventis doesn't deny Genetic ID's results, it says it isn't sure about them yet. Starlink has not been approved by the government for human consumption and its presence in supermarket food would be a violation of federal law.
Genetic ID, which has clients from across the food and agriculture industry, stands by its record and denies the Aventis accusation that it erroneously detected unapproved GMOs in a Japanese snack food last year. Aventis officials told the press on Monday that "Past experience with Genetic ID for other products is that similar allegations were discovered to be incorrect when more thoroughly reviewed."
But Jeff Smith of Genetic ID says Aventis is wrong. According to Smith, "The findings were not disproved, in fact, we retested the sample several times and are confident that it contained traces of at least one unapproved variety." The disagreement centers around the fact that when the Japanese government retested the snack food several months later it did not find the banned GMO. Smith says "they were testing an entirely different sample, possibly from a different lot... [the] test obviously does not refute the results" that Genetic ID obtained.
Aventis' gripe seems to have more to do with Iowa-based Genetic ID's open door policy than any strong grounds to question the lab's scientific reputation. Genetic ID is neutral on biotech and will do its PCR-based tests on samples provided by anyone who pays, including activists. This can lead to its results being used by both sides of the GMO debate. The company has announced seminars on its testing techniques for the press and food industry in Chicago on September 27th.
ACGA Reaction: The American Corn Growers Association reacted to the taco shell news by saying that segregation failures by US grain companies are unfairly putting the biotech burden on American farmers. According to Dan McGuire, Director of ACGA's Farmer Choice-Customer First Program, "As the American public continues to demand the labeling of GMO products, the call for segregating of the nation's commodity supply will increase as well. Many in the grain marketing industry seem unwilling or unable to segregate GMO from non-GMO varieties and that puts an even greater burden on U.S. farmers."
ACGA says that as pressure mounts for more thorough segregation, farmers shouldn't be asked to pay . Says McGuire "The increased cost for segregating GMO from non-GMO corn varieties will add another serious level of financial stress. Protecting farmers from this additional economic hardship must be addressed before farmers begin purchasing their seed supply for the next growing season."
Xenotransplant exposé - Daily Express UK
By Lucy Johnston And Jonathan Calvert,
DAILY EXPRESS (UK),
21 September, 2000
THE SHOCKING truth behind Britain's most high-profile animal experimentation project is revealed today in confidential documents seen by the Daily Express. The secret papers show horrific animal suffering despite claims to the contrary. They also reveal researchers have exaggerated the success of work aimed at adapting pig organs for human transplant.
The project, carried out by Cambridge-based Imutran, involves transplanting genetically modified pigs' hearts and kidneys into monkeys. Thousands of pigs, monkeys and baboons have been used.
Over the past five years Imutran - the world leader in xenotransplantation - claims to have been close to solving the crucial issue of organ rejection which has so far prevented trials on humans.
But the Daily Express found scientific papers declaring new breakthroughs did not give the full picture. In one published paper it is claimed no baboons died from "hyperacute" reaction when two excluded from the published study did.
A second publication describes a baboon which survived for 39 days with a pig heart - the company's greatest success to date - as healthy throughout. But records show that it was suffering in the last days of its life. Its heart had grown in weight by three times, a significant fact not mentioned in the published article.
Internally, the company admits to being a long way off targets set by the American Food and Drug Administration for trials on humans. It wants "substantial" improvements from its scientists in the next 18 months.
The experiments are being carried out at the Huntingdon Life Science's animal research laboratories in Cambridgeshire.
Imutran says the animals do not suffer. But the laboratory technicians' own detailed records of the animals post-transplant lives paint a different picture. One monkey which had a pig heart attached to the blood vessels in its neck was seen holding the transplant which was "swollen red" and "seeping yellow fluid" for most of the last days of its life.
Animals are described as quiet, huddled, shivering, unsteady and in spasm. Some had swellings, bruising or were seen with blood or puss seeping from wounds. Others vomited, or suffered from diarrhoea.
Imutran was given a special dispensation by the Home Office to carry out this work because of potential benefits to humankind. It has a duty to ensure the animals suffer as little as possible.
BUT documents show that over a quarter of the animals died on the operating table or within a few days because of "technical failures" in the surgical procedures. In one experiment, this accounted for 62 per cent of lives. In another, 13 out of 22 monkeys died within two days of the operation, a fact not mentioned in their published paper. Imutron maintains all the relevant data was included in the scientific paper.
There have been a number of awful mistakes. One monkey had to be "sacrificed" when researchers discovered the pig kidney it was about to be given had been mistakenly frozen. In the documents, Imutran acknowledges that it has had "severe problems" with the data.
The documents have gone to animal rights group, Sheffield-based Uncaged Campaigns, which compiled a report - Diaries of Despair - to present to the Government calling for a halt to xenotransplantation research and an independent judicial enquiry. The group's director Dan Lyons said: "The documents show the true extent of the suffering of these primates. This atrocious suffering must stop."
Friday September 22 4:11 PM ET
NORTHFIELD, Ill. (Reuters) - Philip Morris Cos.' (NYSE:MO - news) Kraft Foods unit said on Friday it is voluntarily recalling all Taco Bell Home Originals taco shell products sold in U.S. grocery stores nationwide.
Tests performed by an independent laboratory found, in certain samples, the presence of a variety of corn that Kraft had not specified for the product and which is not approved by U.S. regulators for use in food, Kraft said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) and the Environmental Protection Agency said earlier this week they were jointly investigating allegations by an anti-biotech coalition that a variety of gene-spliced corn that is not approved for human consumption had slipped into Taco Bell shells sold in a Maryland grocery store.
Kraft said at this point there appears to be no evidence of adverse health effects from the corn variety, known as StarLink.
The Bt corn variety was developed by Aventis SA (AVEP.PA) of Strasbourg, France. It was approved in the United States in 1998 for use only in animal feed because it contains a protein that might be an allergen.
Bt corn is spliced with a naturally occurring plant pesticide known as bacillus thuringiensis.
The products being recalled are: Taco Bell Home Originals 12 Taco Shells, Taco Bell Home Originals 18 Taco Shells and Taco Bell Home Originals Taco Dinner containing 12 shells, sauce and seasoning.
Consumers who have purchased the products should not eat them, and should return the packages to the store where they were purchased for a full refund, Kraft said. More information is available in a special report at http://www.kraftfoods.com or consumers may call 1-800-433-9361 from 0800 to midnight EDT.
Kraft is licensed by Taco Bell to use the name on taco shells sold only in supermarkets. Kraft buys finished taco shells for the Taco Bell line from Sabritas Mexicali, a subsidiary of PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE:PEP - news) in Mexicali, Mexico. Sabritas buys corn flour for the product from Azteca Milling L.P., which processes the flour in its Plainview, Texas, mill, Kraft said.
The specifications for the corn Azteca purchased for the taco shells were confined to several varieties of conventional yellow corn and did not include the StarLink corn, Kraft said.
Kraft said it is cooperating with FDA to determine how the StarLink corn became mixed with the product ingredients.
The company will discontinue production of the taco shells until it is assured the raw materials and finished products from the suppliers comply with regulatory requirements.
Copyright © 2000 Yahoo! Inc., and Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
Thanks to NLP WESSEX email@example.com posting the first 3 articles.
Comment from NLP Wessex "This looks like the death knell for GMOs in the UK. Not brilliant news for US exporters either as most of their GM exports go into animal feeds".
The US govt thinks that once the EU starts issuing GM consents again things will be ok, but Uncle Sam has forgotten some basic rules of market economics - one of which is that you can't build a business strategy around an unsaleable product.
|67 per cent||of Britons want a ban on GM crops being fed to livestock|
|55 per cent||don't want to eat meat, eggs or dairy products from animals that have eaten GM|
|90 per cent||said any products from animals that had been GM-fed should be labelled as such|
"The supermarkets are stampeding to get out before the public cottons on to what is going on."
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor Independent on Sunday 24 September 2000 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/UK/Environment/2000-09/gmban240....
Supermarket chains are striking a potentially fatal blow at GM food in Britain by refusing to sell meat, eggs and dairy products from animals fed on modified crops.
The development slashes the crops' biggest remaining market and marks another severe blow for the biotech industry, following Greenpeace's surprise court victory last week.
Twenty-eight Greenpeace supporters, led by Lord Melchett, were found not guilty of causing criminal damage after they destroyed part of an experimental crop of GM maize in Norfolk earlier this year.
It also coincides with an opinion poll which shows that more than two-thirds of Britons believe that GM crops should be banned from animal feed.
While the main supermarket and food manufacturers have already banned the direct use of GM crops in their own breads, cakes, ice cream and other products, until now they have been willing to sell meat and dairy products from animals fed on them.
But an internal report from the US government shows that exports of American soya beans to Britain have fallen by more than half in the last two years and are continuing to fall.
The report, by the US Department of Agriculture, blames "the hysteria surrounding genetically engineered (GE) food" in Britain for the decline. It adds: "Supermarkets are becoming increasingly keen to ensure that livestock is fed GE-free rations, threatening the multi-million dollar US soybean export trade with the UK."
Greenpeace has received commitments from most supermarkets to phase out GM-fed meat.
As the table below shows, different chains are at different stages in the process, but almost all have at least begun it. The furthest advanced is Iceland, which two years ago was the first to remove GM ingredients from its products. Earlier this year it announced that all its "livestock for meat production would be reared on a non-GM diet" from then on.
Iceland took the unusual step for a supermarket chain of buying 6,000 tons of non-GM soya earlier this year to help its suppliers make the conversion and says customers will not be paying any more as a result of it.
Asda, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and CWS/Co-op all say that they are planning to eliminate GM-fed meat as soon as possible, and other chains are at least investigating banning it or introducing some non-GM fed products. Only Somerfield says its policy is currently to allow the use of genetically modified crops as animal feed, although already one of its suppliers is avoiding them.
Greenpeace admits that there are no known health risks to people from meat reared on GM crops. But it is aiming to stop their release into the environment and its campaign is aimed at "closing down the market" for them in Britain. Blake Lee-Harwood, the group's communications director, said last week: "The supermarkets are stampeding to get out before the public cottons on to what is going on."
An NOP poll commissioned by the pressure group shows that 67 per cent of Britons want a ban on GM crops being fed to livestock, and that 55 per cent do not want to eat meat, eggs or dairy products from animals that have eaten them. Ninety per cent of respondents said that any products from animals that had been GM-fed should be labelled as such. ---
By David Harrison, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday 24 September 2000
LORD MELCHETT, the Norfolk farmer and executive director of Greenpeace, said yesterday that the court decision to clear him, and 27 other campaigners, of causing criminal damage in an attack on a GM trial farm was "a victory for farmers all over Britain".
In his first interview since the verdict last Wednesday, Lord Melchett told The Telegraph: "I care about farming and the countryside. Our battle against GM crops is a fight for the future of British farming. "The public doesn't want GM food, the supermarkets don't want it, and no farmer wants to grow things that nobody wants to buy. GM crops should now be consigned to the dustbin of history as a technology that went wrong."
The peer said: "The trial was a very frightening experience. Nobody wants a criminal conviction. I was surprised by the verdict. It was not what the establishment had wanted but that's the beauty of trial by jury." The 28 campaigners, including a housewife, a grandfather, a Baptist minister and 12 members of Greenpeace, had admitted destroying six acres of GM maize at a farm at Lyng, near Norwich, in April 1999.
The activists were confronted by the farm's owners and arrested when police were called to the scene and Lord Melchett spent two nights in jail. All the protesters were cleared of theft at Norfolk Crown Court in April and of causing criminal damage last week.
The National Farmers' Union described the verdict as "perverse" and said it "gave a green light to wanton vandalism and trespass on British farmland", but Lord Melchett, speaking at Greenpeace's headquarters in north London yesterday, was unrepentant. He said: "The jury found that we did not commit a criminal offence.
"They were 12 members of the public who listened to fiercely-contested arguments over two and a half weeks, away from all the propaganda. Their verdict was unanimous. They decided we were right to do what we did. This is an extremely serious issue. We did not undertake our action lightly but we felt we had to do something and we have been vindicated."
The hereditary peer, an Old Etonian and former Labour minister, admitted that the verdict could lead to more attacks on GM trial crops. Greenpeace had "no plans" for more action, he said, but he was "not ruling out" raids in the future. The NFU has called on the Government to offer improved protection to farmers taking part in the trials, but Lord Melchett insisted that the protests were non-violent and posed "no threat" to farmers.
He said that Greenpeace's action was justified because contamination from genetically modified crops posed an "extremely serious" threat to public health and the environment. He said: "We cannot just release these things into the environment because once they are out there they cannot be brought back.
"It's not like clearing up oil or nuclear waste. We don't know what effects they will have and that is a risk we cannot afford to take." The Government insists that the trials will go ahead. But Lord Melchett said that many farmers who agreed to make land available for GM crop trials have now pulled out and there are doubts over whether the Government will have enough sites to make future tests scientifically valid.
He said: "That is a terrible indictment of the trials. Farmers are having a tough time at the moment and yet even the offer of up to £300 an acre to plant GM crops has failed to attract enough takers. The Government should have consulted the agricultural community before the trials. Farmers would have told them that contamination spreads easily and quickly in the countryside - on the wind, on tractor wheels, on boots . . . Anybody who knows anything about farming would agree with that."
The peer also rejected the "feed the world" argument that GM crops could solve the problem of famine in developing countries. He said: "Some of the biggest anti-GM protests have been in India and other parts of Asia, as well as in Mexico and Brazil. They don't want GM foods any more than the British public."
By ANDREW POLLACK,
September 23, 2000
"... Incidents like this could help drive a wedge between the agricultural biotechnology companies and the food companies, which have generally supported biotechnology. Some food companies like McDonald's and Frito-Lay though not Kraft have already cut back on some use of bioengineered crops, not for safety reasons but out of fear that consumers would reject them.
Kraft Foods announced a nationwide recall of taco shells yesterday after confirming that they contained a genetically engineered corn not approved for human consumption.
The recall is the first in this country of a food made from a genetically engineered crop, and it is likely to increase the pressure on the biotechnology industry and the government for tougher regulations on agricultural biotechnology. Stung by its experience, Kraft itself yesterday issued some recommendations for new guidelines.
The corn in question, known as StarLink, is approved for animal feed but not for human consumption because it has a protein with certain characteristics of a food allergen. The protein has not been proved an allergen, however, and there is no evidence that anyone has been harmed by eating the taco shells, sold under the Taco Bell brand.
The presence of the unapproved corn in the taco shells was first reported on Monday by Genetically Engineered Food Alert, a coalition of environmental and consumer groups critical of bioengineered food. While the biotechnology industry's trade organization challenged the reliability of the test, Kraft said yesterday that it had independently confirmed the presence of the StarLink corn in multiple samples and production lots.
The recall covers Taco Bell Home Originals packages containing 12 shells and 18 shells as well as the Taco Bell Home Originals Taco Dinner, which contains 12 shells plus sauce and seasoning. Kraft, a subsidiary of Philip Morris, said consumers should return the product to where it was purchased for a full refund.
Michael Mudd, vice president for corporate affairs at Kraft, said the Taco Bell product line, sold under license from the Taco Bell restaurant chain, a unit of Tricon Global Restaurants, accounts for more than $100 million in annual sales, but the shells themselves are about half of that. The company estimates there are about 2.5 million boxes in stores and homes. Kraft bought the shells from a factory in Mexicali, Mexico, owned by Sabritas, a subsidiary of PepsiCo. The corn flour came from a mill in Plainview, Tex., owned by Azteca Milling.
The Taco Bell restaurants chain, which gets some of its shells from the same factory, said yesterday that it had told its suppliers to start buying flour from sources other than the two Texas mills operated by Azteca. Although it said it had not confirmed that its shells also had the bioengineered corn, it said all the shells in its 7,000 restaurants would be replaced by next week.
The episode has given new ammunition to those calling for stricter safety testing and labeling of bioengineered foods.
"I view it as a very poignant cautionary tale that our regulatory system is not up to the task of preventing potential problems with genetically engineered food," said Joseph Mendelson III, legal director of the Center for Food Safety, a Washington advocacy group that is part of Genetically Engineered Food Alert.
But officials of the Food and Drug Administration and in the biotechnology industry said this was a case of food contamination, not a problem with regulations, and noted that StarLink was the only biotechnology crop approved for use in animals but not people.
In any case, the incident shows how difficult it can be to contain genes once they get into the field and how hard it can be to keep different varieties of crops from commingling. Europe has been shaken this year by several incidents in which crops were found to contain small amounts of genetically modified material that they were not supposed to.
It is not known how the contamination occurred in this case. But pollen from genetically modified plants can pollinate nonmodified crops in nearby fields. Also, some genetically modified seed can be left in barges or trucks that are later used to carry nonmodified crops.
The F.D.A. and the Environmental Protection Agency continue to investigate the contamination and could take actions including revoking the market approval of StarLink.
Incidents like this could help drive a wedge between the agricultural biotechnology companies and the food companies, which have generally supported biotechnology. Some food companies like McDonald's and Frito-Lay though not Kraft have already cut back on some use of bioengineered crops, not for safety reasons but out of fear that consumers would reject them.
Kraft recommended yesterday that products should not be approved for animal use if they are not approved for human use as well. It also called for a fully validated test procedure to be available to detect the presence of a genetically modified crop in food before that crop is approved. It also called for a stronger system to control the distribution in the food supply chain of such crops and that all crops undergo a mandatory review by the government before they enter the market.
StarLink, developed by Aventis CropScience, is a type of B.T. corn, meaning it has a gene from the bacillus thuringiensis bacterium that allows it to produce a protein toxic to a pest, the European corn borer. The question that confronted regulators was whether this protein could cause allergies.
Since the StarLink bacterial protein, known as Cry9C, has not been in the human diet before, there are no people with known allergies from whom to obtain blood for an allergy test. So scientists were left to use indirect methods that usually cannot provide a clear answer.
Proteins that are broken down by stomach acids are considered unlikely to cause allergic reactions. But unlike other varieties of B.T. corn that have been approved for human consumption, tests showed that the Cry9C protein does not break down quickly in an acid bath that simulates the stomach, raising a red flag. A scientific advisory panel to the government concluded there was "no evidence to indicate that Cry9C is or is not a potential food allergen."
The F.D.A. yesterday called Kraft's action "prudent" but officials at the agency rejected statements by biotechnology critics that the government had been slow to act, saying it had to first confirm the accusations.
by Antony Barnett Public Affairs Correspondent, The Observer 24 Sep 2000:
Secret details of GM giant Monsanto's attempts to influence the international debate on GM crops have been revealed in classified internal company documents obtained by the Observer
The 10-page Monsanto report written by the firm this spring and stamped confidential, discloses how Monsanto has got pro-GM suppporters into influential positions on key international food safety committees and built up a network of independent scientistsit cals on to write articles attacking GM critics.
The document described Monsanto's activities in 20 countries and environmental groups say it shows how Monsanto is ' buying influence and subverting the scientific agenda around the world.'
Some of the most controversial parts of the documents involve the firm's secretive ' scientific outreach team'. The report reveals this team:
The document states the firm has lobbied Harvard medical students and ' an editorial was drafted by Dr John Thomas ,( emeritus professor of University of Texas Medical School) to place in a medical journal as the first in a plan series of outreach efforts ' to doctors. In addition ' a meeting was held with Professor David Khayat an internationally well-known cancer specialist, to collaborate on an article demonstrating the absence of links between GM foods and cancers'.
One of the most contentious parts of Monsanto's operation is in Thailand. The document reveals how the company has secretly supported a government laboratory set up in the country to certify that Thai exports to Europe are GM free. Monsanto which has help to train technicians, makes clear that the reason for the company's cooperation is because the laboratory director, Dr Pakdi, is a key player in international Codex activities'.
Codex is the key UN organisation responsible for setting food safety standards.
Monsanto also confirms that it has been successful in lobbying the UN committee on food safety to ensure that food labelling in Third World countires can be voluntary , not compulsory.
The documents, that suggest that they have virtually given up trying to influence the debate in the UK, have outraged critics of Monsanto. Dr Sue Meyer , directorof GeneWatch, said " This leaked report shows how desperate Monsanto is to save it's business, it is particularly worrying how the company have stepped up activity in developing countries".
"While Monsanto claim they want to engage in dialogue it is quite clear from this report that this is just window dressing for a behind the scences campaign to promote their products come what may".
Peter Riley, GMcmapaigner for Friends of the Earth, said ,"It proves what has long been suspected about Monsanto's lobbying power. It is particularly worrying that scientists appear happy to write art6icles at Monsanto's behest. We now know that they are using all means possible to influence the debate in every continent on the planet, apart from Antartica."
Monsanto moved quickly to deny that they were acting improperly.
A statement released by the company said "The report demonstrates the extensive effort that Monsanto invests to ensure that we comply with the stringent and evolving regulation and regulatory requirements for every Monsanto product around the world. It also demonstrates our committment to ensuring that the safety of plant biotechnology products is subject to the scrutiny of internationally recognised scientists to ensure sound, state of the art, science based risk assessment and enhance public confidence in these products."
By: Melinda Fulmer, Times Staff Writer,
Los Angeles Times
September 23, 2000, Saturday, Home Edition, Part A; Part 1; Page 1; Metro Desk LENGTH: 1041 words
In the first-ever product recall of a food because of its genetically engineered ingredients, Taco Bell brand taco shells are being pulled from supermarket shelves after tests confirmed the presence of an ingredient not approved for human consumption. The Taco Bell restaurant chain also said that, as a precautionary measure, it has begun substituting taco shells sold in its 7,000 locations nationwide.
The Kraft Foods unit of Philip Morris Co., which distributes the Taco Bell brand shells in supermarkets, said Friday it is recalling the shells and discontinuing their production until it can ensure that the product is free of the genetically modified ingredient. The taco shells contain a type of bioengineered corn, StarLink, that "was approved for animal use, not for use in food," said Kathy Knuth, a Kraft spokeswoman. "On that basis alone, it should not be eaten."
Although there have been no reported incidents of illness from the corn, consumers who have purchased the products are urged not to eat them and to return them to the stores where they were purchased for full refunds.
Most bioengineered corn and soybeans are considered safe for humans, but StarLink contains a pest-repelling protein, Cry9C, that may be hard for humans to digest. It is unclear whether this protein was in the taco shells.
The recall will cost the food giant millions of dollars. The Taco Bell shells accounted for about half of the $ 100 million in sales generated by Kraft's Taco Bell brand products last year. Irvine-based Taco Bell, which buys its taco shells from the same manufacturer that Kraft uses, says it is still testing its shells for the presence of StarLink corn. Meanwhile, it is continuing to sell the shells at its restaurants for the next several days while it awaits shipments from new suppliers of the corn flour used in these products.
"We're unaware of any known health risk associated with this corn variety, nor have we received a single consumer complaint," said Taco Bell Vice President Jonathan Blum. "Nonetheless, we're taking the matter seriously and continue to cooperate with the Food and Drug Administration and do the responsible thing to make sure the health and safety of our customers is safeguarded."
Monday, September 25 9:53 PM SGT,
BANGALORE, India, Sept 25 (AFP) -
A tribunal formed by more than 25 farmers groups in India called Monday for a 10-year national moratorium on the commercial use of genetic engineering in agriculture.
The tribunal came out with 13 recommendations after listening to farmers from across India who spelt our their woes arising from the industrialisation of agriculture and patents on seeds.
The five-member tribunal, consisting of retired judges and representatives of farm bodies, said the role of foreign companies in seed production and distribution must be "balanced with liabilities and responsibilities."
"The public seed sector which is being dismantled needs to be strengthened with a focus on research and development and farmers' participation," they said.
Farmers told the tribunal that sales of genetically modified seeds by private and multinational companies had resulted in crop failures, leading some debt-ridden farmers to commit suicide.
"Strict punishment should be awarded to persons who are involved in the trade and distribution of spurious agri-chemicals," the tribunal said, after farmers testified that large-scale pesticide use had resulted in poisoned drinking water and deaths.
The farmers' associations slammed corporate control over agriculture and said they were against genetically modified seeds being sold to farmers by foreign companies such as US-based Kargill Seeds and Monsanto.
"A moratorium should be imposed for a period of 10 years on the commercialistaion of gentic engineering in food and farming in India," the tribunal said.
Vandana Shiva, an Indian ecologist, said the seeds had ruined India's traditional seed varieties and reduced yields.
"Traditional rights of the farmers to freely conserve, develop, use, share and exchange their seeds are fundemental rights which cannot be alienated by any intellectual property law," the tribunal said, referring to the patents awarded to private firms to make seeds.
By PHILIP BRASHER, AP Farm Writer, September 26, 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) via NewsEdge Corporation -
A group representing the biotechnology industry endorsed proposals by Kraft Foods to tighten controls on genetically engineered crops in the wake of a recall of taco shells made with corn that isn't approved for human consumption.
In a letter Monday to federal regulators, the Biotechnology Industry Organization agreed that farmers shouldn't be allowed to grow a crop that isn't approved for food use. That was one of four recommendations that Kraft made to the Food and Drug Administration in announcing the recall on Friday.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, September 26, 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) Aventis Corp. suspended sales Tuesday of a variety of genetically engineered corn that is not approved for human consumption.
Kraft Foods recalled millions of packages of taco shells on Friday after tests showed that some were made with an Aventis corn variety known as StarLink. Aventis said it would stop selling the corn until the Environmental Protection Agency approves its use in food.
French anti-globalisation campaigner Jose Bove spoke at the rally
Thousands of farmers and environmental activists have rallied in the southern Indian city of Bangalore to protest against the development of genetically-modified crops.
Monday September 25 4:04 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said Monday that Kraft Foods Inc.'s (NYSE:MO - news) recall of taco shells containing an unapproved biotech corn variety showed the government has to do a better job of segregating gene-spliced grains and commodities.
CNN, From staff and wire reports,
September 26, 2000
WASHINGTON (CNN) As a U.S. Senate committee heard testimony on biotechnology and consumer confidence in food Tuesday, Aventis CropScience suspended sales of the genetically engineered corn product found to have been mistakenly used in the manufacture of some taco shells sold in grocery stores.
Kraft Foods recalled millions of packages of the shells Friday after tests showed that some were made with an Aventis corn known as StarLink. The corn contains a bacterium gene that makes it toxic to the corn bore pest. It is approved for use only in animal feed because of a concern that it could cause allergic reactions in humans.
"Today, we simply don't have a system to catch the illegal use of genetically engineered ingredients," U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from California, said during the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing. "We don't even have a system that requires mandatory safety tests, Mr. Chairman, to make sure that genetically engineered products, when they are used properly, are safe."
By SALLY SCHUFF, Feedstuffs Washington Bureau
The U.S. will soon have an official government laboratory that will set standards for testing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Procedures to sample and test for the presence of GMOs are extremely complex, and even experts with the best of intentions are at risk of mistakes.
That's why the National Grain & Feed Assn. called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture last year to accredit GMO test kits and analytical laboratories.
Thanks to RBBAX@aol.com for posting this:
By Jeffrey Kluger, Time October 2, 2000, SECTION: BIOENGINEERING; Pg. 80
Killer tacos they ain't. But so hot are the politics of genetically modified food that the folks at Kraft Foods last week took the extraordinary step of pulling tons of innocent-looking Taco Bell taco shells off the shelves. Reason? Someone may have been fooling with their genes.
It was the first recall of what the industry calls GM food and others call Frankenfood. Critics have long warned that once bioengineered genes get into any part of the food chains there's no telling when they'll turn up on our plates. Sure enough, early last week Genetically Engineered Food Alert, a consumer and environmental group, reported that traces of DNA from GM corn not approved for human consumption had been discovered in Taco Bell's tacos. The corn, known as StarLink, contains a gene from a bacterium that makes the corn deadly to corn borers but not to cows. It was approved for use as cattle feed but not for human consumption, for fear it could trigger allergic reactions.
How did the tainted seed get into the tacos? They are sold by Kraft but made by a Mexican company whose corn comes from any number of U.S. farms. Farmers who grow StarLink do so on the condition that they'll keep it out of human food supplies promise that's easy to elicit but hard to enforce.
Kraft is pushing for new regulations that would prevent GM food not fit for humans from being approved for any use. Taco Bell, for its part, prefers to err on the side of caution. The last thing it wants is for taco eaters to start saying, "Yo quiero McDonald's!"
"GM crops are not developed for the benefit of farmers or consumers, but for the benefit of multinational agrochemical companies which promise so much from the development of biotechnology but have so far delivered very little. We have survived very well for 2,000 years in this country using conventional plant breeding methods, but I am not convinced that there is now a compulsion to grow GM crops. I would prefer to give up farming than to be forced into adopting new biotechnology..."
- Arnold Pennant, UK Farmer,
quoted in The Times (London) September 25, 2000,
(29 September - Cropchoice News) Cargill is jumping deeper into the identity preserved corn market with a new non-GMO corn ingredients brand produced by an Illinois subsidiary. Called "Innovasure", the new non-GMO operation is based at Cargill's Illinois Cereal Mills. To reassure buyers that its products won't be GMO contaminated, Innovasure says it will go to "excruciating lengths" to supply non-GMO corn.
Most interesting for producers, whether or not they are selling to Cargill, is that Innovasure is publishing details about its approved non-GMO contaminated seed varieties and testing process.
Cargill contracted with 400 growers before publicly announcing Innovasure. The brand has a website, www.innovasure.com, that explains the basics of their IP system to potential customers.
By James Meikle Saturday September 30, 2000,
The Guardian Special report: GM debate
An unprecedented set of hearings into the future of genetically modified crops begins on Monday, heralding 10 weeks of embarrassing allegations of failures in the government's handling of the introduction of the new technology into British agriculture.
Pressure to exert stricter control over the biotech companies will be put on ministers by anti-GM groups and individual protesters, who forced the hearings, to cost £500,000, by exploiting previously unused official procedures laid down by 1982 seeds regulations to object to plans from a GM company, Aventis, to market commercially Chardon LL, a modified feed maize for cattle.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, September 30, 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) The government wants to make sure that a variety of gene-altered corn linked to a nationwide recall of taco shells doesn't get into the food supply again.
Aventis CropScience, the company that produces the corn seed, agreed Friday to buy all of this year's crop, worth an estimated $68 million.
Federal officials say there is no known health risk from the corn, known as StarLink, but it has not been approved for human consumption because scientists are unsure whether it might cause allergic reactions.
The recalled corn will eventually be sold for cattle feed or for production of ethanol, a gasoline additive. The Agriculture Department will purchase the grain from farmers and then oversee its shipping to buyers to ensure that it doesn't get mixed up with food-grade corn, USDA officials said. Aventis will reimburse the government for all its expenses, including shipping and storage costs, and in turn will get the proceeds from the corn's sale.
By ANDREW POLLACK
The company that makes the genetically modified corn linked to the recent recall of taco shells agreed with the government yesterday to buy back this year's entire crop to prevent the grain from getting into the food supply
Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign, for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
500 Wilbrod Street Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
tel. 613-565-8517 fax. 613-565-1596 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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