3 October 2000

Table of Contents

GM sugar not a sweet prospect.
Novartis sued for conspiracy to create an artifical market for Ritalin
Biotech Be careful, take precautions [Le Monde Diplomatique]
GE bacteria being released into US soils?
Intoxicating bacterium kills plants
Benbrook GM paper available as slide show
BIOWATCH: Corrupt relationship between biotech industry & regulators.
Non-GMO farming answer to fuel crisis!
Fuel Cells generate Electricity
Woolworths Press Release - Hormone Free Ayrshire Milk
Natural medicine effective in chronic illness
BIOWATCH: US Firm Withdraws Patent Claims on Basmati
BIOWATCH: Monsanto’s Transgenic Cottons Can Make Gonorrhoea Untreatable
Uranium and Radium found in drinking water fluoridation agent

Top NextFront Page
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2000 07:23:16 EDT


Some delegates argued that the issue was "dead in the water" given the backlash from European consumers towards GM food and GM-containing products. There is also increasing dissatisfaction with the technology in the United States.

"No transgenic varieties of plants are undergoing trials in Austria. Most Austrian consumers do not accept transgenic food for human or animal consumption,"
the Austrian delegation said in a paper.

World sugar farmers test GM crops, await approval

GM sugar not a sweet prospect.

Story by Allan Seccombe, Reuters, SOUTH AFRICA: September 15, 2000

DURBAN, South Africa - Consumer will have to change their views on genetically modified (GM) foods before transgenic sugar cane and beet become an option for farmers, delegates at an international sugar conference said yesterday.

Tests of cane and beet modified to resist pests, diseases and drought are underway in many of the world's top sugar-producing nations, but commercial production is still a long way off, delegates from 26 countries were told at the Seventh World Sugar Farmers conference.

"We sugar farmers need to have the general permission from society to grow GM crops and we must not misplace our energy to get consumers to accept sugar from GM crops before we get that permission," said Rodger Stewart, president of the World Association of Beet and Cane Growers (WBCG).

"Once we have that permission, then GM sugar will flow naturally from that," said Stewart, the newly elected president of the WBCG, which is running the conference.

Some delegates argued that the issue was "dead in the water" given the backlash from European consumers towards GM food and GM-containing products. There is also increasing dissatisfaction with the technology in the United States.

"No transgenic varieties of plants are undergoing trials in Austria. Most Austrian consumers do not accept transgenic food for human or animal consumption," the Austrian delegation said in a paper.

An Australian delegate, Jim Pedersen, who serves as a board member at the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, said scientists in his country were particularly interested in conquering diseases, especially OrangeRust, which had devastated this season's crop.

He said Orange Rust had caused losses totalling A$200 million and reduced the crop to 4.2 million tonnes from an expected 5.5 million.

He added that GM sugar cane was not grown commercially in Australia.

Another Australian delegate, Harry Bonanno, said importers of Australian sugar demanded that their sugar was guaranteed to be GM-free.

Brazil, the world's top sugar producer, came out strongly in favour of GM cane.

"In Brazil a survey showed that there is not the same rejection of transgenic technology as there is in the EU," said Luiz Carvalho, the head of a sugar farmers' organisation in Brazil's Sao Paulo.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

From: Biotech Activists
Posted: 09/15/2000 By

Novartis sued for conspiracy to create an artifical market for Ritalin

Novartis and the American Psychiatric Association are being sued for conspiracy to create an artifical market for Ritalin. The suit asks that profits be returned to those to whom Ritalin has been prescribed.

Here is the address on the web

Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2000 17:17:19 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: Wally Menne
From: Biotech Activists
From: Le Monde diplomatique

This article offers a deeper than usual analysis of the GE debate. The comment on calling for a moratorium should be heeded !

Wally Jacques Testart is director of research at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), and chairman of the French Committee on Sustainable Development. His publications include Le desir du gene, Flammarion, 1994; Des hommes probables. De la procreation aleatoire a la reproduction normative, Le Seuil, Paris, 1999; and Des grenouilles et des hommes, Le Seuil, 2000.

Biotech Be careful, take precautions [Le Monde Diplomatique]

Le Monde diplomatique
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 1997-2000 Le Monde diplomatique

September 2000

How To Let Ordinary People In On The Future

Expert opinion on the new biotechnologies doesn't have the qualities we associate with a scientific approach, because, whatever the level of research, nobody can predict the future with certainty. We should ask 'unexpert' people to judge whether we even need the proposed changes.

Translated by Derry Cook-Radmore

All-powerful scientific discourse

The expression "precautionary principle" - sometimes overworked - is central to the fierce scientific, technological and ethical debates going on today. In France, the principle itself was written into the lawbooks with the 1995 loi Barnier, which lays down that "The absence of certainty must not hold back the adoption of effective and proportionate measures to prevent serious and irreversible harm".

Recently however, custom and the rules have enshrined a narrow view of things: scientific experts weigh up the potential risks of a new technology to human health and the environment, and the results of their assessment then form the basis on which a political decision is taken. Nothing, or very little, separates science and legislation. Ordinary people, on whose behalf the innovation in question is supposedly being introduced, are to a great extent cut out of the process: they are the missing link in the chain.

It can be argued that this is no different from how other decisions are taken, since the politicians in charge, representing the voters, are held to be acting in the public interest. Yet gauging the effects a "risk" technology might have has very little in common with building a bridge, or equipping a hospital, or exporting fruit and vegetables. In classic situations like these, uncertainty, though there usually is some, is so slight that the judgment of experts - engineers, doctors, economists and so on - can be relied on enough for rational decisions to be taken.

When, on the other hand, technologies likely to affect the environment and domestic species, or indeed human beings, are concerned, "expert assessment is no longer based solely on the validity of knowledge, and the scientific guarantee it confers on the decision, but on its ability to take the uncertainties into account and chart a scenario for an uncertain future" (1).

As the recent Kourilsky-Viney report to the French prime minister pointed out, "The expert does not know" and, to make matters worse, his opinions "are not free of all prejudice" (2). This statement is amply illustrated in the report, in particular when countering the argument that genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) could reduce biodiversity. It detects in this standpoint "a certain ideological charge" and points out that "the emergence of Aids is one manifestation of biodiversity".

Situations calling for the precautionary principle typically involve an irreducible minimum of uncertainty. No-one, certainly not a rational mind, can foresee the future, and even the present throws up previously unheard-of effects. The European Commission consequently says that it will "be guided by the precautionary principle when analysing risk in cases where the scientific bases are insufficient or where there are uncertainties" (3). Uncertainty among experts is more and more common, whether it is in knowing if there is any danger in eating British beef (4) or in answering the concerns raised by transgenic plants (5). So expert opinion, even from the best of specialists, does not have the qualities one usually attaches to the scientific approach, and it would be better to talk about "opinion from scientists" rather than "scientific opinion".

Even if the experts are beyond reproach, and unaffected by the ideology of techno-science and pressures from the business world, all their contribution can do is chart the limits of ignorance. There are two main reasons for this. First of all, there is not enough of the knowledge needed to analyse problems that are becoming more and more acute. What risks are there, for instance, in accepting a blood donation from someone who has been living in Britain, the home ground of the mad cow? And then there is the impossibility of bringing together disparate items of information from a variety of expert assessments, and giving them the precise weighting that will allow them, taken together, to provide an objective picture of a complex subject: for example, examining the causes of climate change and forecasting how it is going to develop.

All-powerful scientific discourse

Since experts themselves recognise that there is uncertainty (or at least a constant and irreducible residue of it), it seems inconsistent to grant scientific opinion the status of unchallengeable knowledge, and see it as enough to base a political decision on. Yet this is what the European Commission is proposing in a recent communication (6) that ignores the whole debate going on in society. This shift towards simplified reasoning, forgetting how complex the phenomena being analysed really are, starts as soon as the scientist and engineer (and even the economist) are seen as the only experts, brushing aside all the other kinds of knowledge that also help us reach understanding.

These include areas of professional knowledge, such as sociology and ecology; but they also take in forms of knowledge shared by the whole of humankind - intuition, common-sense, aesthetic sense, feelings, know-how, a sense of how the world works. Unless one accepts that a politician, too. would be competent in areas like feelings, emotion, human wellbeing, relationship to nature, pleasure and suffering - none of them the qualities that got him chosen or elected -, a vast field of judgment is being deliberately cut out between the technical evaluation and the decision to make widespread use of a technology.

The exclusion of the "humanities" from what goes on between the technico-scientific machinery and the decision-taking machinery reflects how predominant scientific discourse has become, to the point of usurping science itself. So it is surprising to read, in the Kourilsky-Viney report, a page headed with the statement "GMOs present no special risk to the consumer, though the latter must be free to choose". Gone are the doubts expressed elsewhere in the same text! GMOs are henceforth guaranteed risk-free. And to make it clear that any resistance would show an irrational attitude, freedom of choice - perhaps made possible by labelling - is put on the same level as the choice, say, to eat only kosher food.

Scientists insist on the need to quantify the technological risks to ensure they are credible and not taken as just wild imaginings. The Commission in Brussels, too, has called for a structured decision-taking process based on detailed scientific data and other objective information. So many references to science and objectivity leave you to understand that somewhere there is someone who knows the answers, and also that if something cannot be "quantified", then it cannot count as a valid argument. Yet the Commission also tells decision-makers that "they need to be aware of the degree of uncertainty attached to the results of the evaluation of the available scientific information". This is rather like describing an idyllic situation (science must know, on principle), while mentioning current shortcomings (the degree of uncertainty) that are held to be temporary, and refusing to entertain other arguments that are not amenable to science even if they are no more uncertain than the scientific assessment.

Enshrining the legal precautionary principle has displaced the moral principle that has often been evoked over the past two decades as - to use Hans Jonas's expression (7) - the responsibility principle. For Jonas, already concerned about nuclear and genetic engineering, one ethical response to the problem was quite simply to scrap a project; today's precaution leads rather to postponing it, or adapting the conditions in which it is used.

Supposing that a technological innovation is in fact devoid of any potential risk, on the precautionary principle, this is not enough on its own to say one is being fully responsible in using it. Especially not in respect of sustainable development, which demands that thought be given to other concerns - the effects on development, nature, social equity, employment, regional solidarity and the North-South relationship, and so on. However could we have tied ourselves down for so long with a moral principle like this, which can be endlessly brandished, when globalisation is demanding that we pay greater deference to the new values of competitiveness, free trade, investment, productivity and technological progress?

Among the ironclad ideas that allow no intelligent objection, there is the banal, mantra-like phrase "There is no such thing as zero risk" - recited to guard against the possible consequences of the lack of precaution we are preparing to accept. But do we have to break eggs if no-one actually needs the omelette? The experts' debate, circumscribed by its concern with demonstrating the risk - or rather, that there is none - is concealing the public's lack of demand for, or even interest in, what is being argued about. This is true of the transgenic plants the big industrial companies are trying to foist on the public. And they are doing it with the active support of most of the experts and the complicity of a number of our political masters. The politicians seem unaware of betraying those who put them there, no doubt because they believe they are acting for the common good against wrong-headed resistance. They are acting out of belief, rather than reason.

Is it not, in fact, the ideology of assured and irreversible progress that leads serious-minded people to act as if there were some kind of proof of the advantages they are claiming for GM crops? Do we have to be content with the vague (and minor) gains in productivity announced by the industrial companies - working from non-exhaustive appraisals - to come to the conclusion that GM plants are all right? Even if incontrovertible results were soon to show clear agricultural advantages from using GMOs (and not just promises of advantages), the absence of such facts in today's expert assessments is proof that lack of scientific rigour is not necessarily the preserve of "those opposed to progress" - a verdict borne out by the politicians' blind acceptance of these truncated expert evaluations. It is as if a shared devotion to the ascendancy of technology ruled out any challenging of the advantages, and just conceded an attempt to check on its harmlessness.

A specious form of argument seeks to justify focusing expert assessment solely on the technical and measurable aspects of the risk, leaving aside the social and cultural effects of the techniques such as, in the case of GM plants, the quality of life, the industrialisation of rural activities, the concentration on productivity, and so on. Questions like this are often dismissed by arguing that they already existed before GM technology appeared on the scene, as neither the selection of varieties nor the laws of the marketplace are specific to GM. This is ignoring the possibility that the combined effect of speeding-up and standardising practices will be a qualitative social and cultural change. The sudden shifts that transgenic modification introduces could have results very different from those we know from the slow, gradual mechanisms of natural development and traditional plant selection.

When what man does triggers irreversible effects, we are going beyond discovery and mastery, and getting ourselves embroiled in what could well bring devastation. This is reason to submit the new technique to thorough examination, so as to take account of everything that is not, in its essence, what has been done traditionally. If not, we should also have to accept the Terminator system (8), on the grounds that all it does is to improve the commercial efficiency of the breeders who have been at work for more than a century. With impeccable liberal logic, the Kourilsky-Viney report does comment that no-one is obliged to buy Terminator-type seed!

To play down the impact of GMOs on man and his environment, we are being told that genetic modification goes on in nature. Bacteria in the soil have always swapped genes that provide resistance to antibiotics; modern wheat has received genome fragments from rye; mitochondria and chloroplasts are vestiges of bacteria ingested by animal or plant cells; plants and animals have for a long time incorporated viral genetic sequences; and so on.

All that is certainly true. But it is no real argument for an immediate, massive and irreversible disseminating of transgenic plants. And it is in order to escape public mistrust that the companies are turning to the "second generation" of GMOs: this is supposed to be using the advantage provided by induced mutation, or by transferring a useful gene belonging to the species being improved rather than an alien gene, so as to get closer to the traditional pattern of varietal selection. But because of the speed at which a living organism is being forced to evolve by these innovations, and of the presence of a high-powered technical and commercial set-up, these second-generation GMOs will still have the characteristics of a new phenomenon; and they will still, directly and irreversibly, affect the relationship of humans to domesticated nature and to other humans.

How are we to arrive at sensible political decisions if deadlocks in meaning are to be added to science's uncertainties and experts' subjectivity? In his analysis of "technical democracy" (9), Michel Callon reminds us of the part scientists played in educating the public in a "struggle for the Enlightenment and against obscurantism". This function is often interpreted in a messianic light by scientific circles, who believe themselves warranted by things like the public opinion survey on GM plants quoted in a recent report by INRA (10), the French national agronomic research institute.

Asked the question, "Ordinary tomatoes do not contain genes, while genetically-modified ones do. True or false?", only 32% of people in France gave the right answer (as against 46% in the United States and 52% in Canada). So it is deduced that there is no point asking questions to such an ignorant public. The public obviously does need educating; but there is nothing to indicate that doing so will inevitably lead to GM plants being accepted - unless ethical stance is confused with scientific reasoning and knowledge. This is also why Michel Callon stresses the importance of enlisting the knowledge of lay people to give decisions full legitimacy.

It is interesting to look back at the citizens' conference on GMOs organised by the French parliamentary office for the evaluation of scientific and technological options (Opecst) in June 1998. According to the sociologists who wrote the report referred to earlier, this forum made it possible to demonstrate a "specific competence" on the part of lay people who, thanks to "a vision free of local vested interests ... have the cognitive capacity needed for taking part in the technological evaluation". The same report underlines the shortcomings of parliamentarians in shouldering their responsibilities where new technologies are concerned: only "a few deputies who become experts among the experts" immerse themselves in the "ocean of tedium" that background documents on nuclear or GMO matters involve; and parliament, which "reproduces within itself the divides our society creates between experts and non-experts", tends to see the legitimacy of citizens' conferences "as a threat".

It may have been this attitude that led French member of parliament Jean-Yves Le Déaut to backtrack from the enthusiasm he had shown when organising the citizens' conference. A year later, he was decrying as "pure demagoguery" any desire for "direct democracy, a sort of latterday substitute for the agora of classical times". He did not want to see the citizens' conference as anything more than "one more point of view, that of non-specialists, to be put alongside that of the experts, and of the associations and parties involved in the subject"(11). As if to say that educated public opinion is merely one result among others, and not what gives meaning to the results of expert assessment! As French writer Denis Duclos has put it, "the important level of political discussion is where we are discussing the play we are going to perform, and not just the details of this or that piece of business, or the casting, or how much the actors are going to be paid" (12).

To achieve this "important level of political discussion", putting precaution into practice in environmental matters (and of course in other fields as well) demands the active involvement of ordinary people. It is surprising, therefore, to find no mention of public debate in the European Commission's communication on the precautionary principle; this makes one fear that the proposals - lukewarm as they are - in the Kourilsky-Viney report are being seen as the height of boldness in making precaution a democratic concern.

Yet an ambition like this is looking for something quite different from the concession that suits the experts, that of giving one or two innocent souls a seat on a technical committee where they are taken hostage and crushed beneath the weight of science and the scientists' authority. And it means something different from the "second circle" favoured by the same report, where "selected" members of the public accompanied by scientific experts - the "first circle" - would be allowed to offer an opinion.

In 1992 Jean-Jacques Salomon, last president of the French College for the Prevention of Technological Risk, wrote that "Faced with the powers at the disposal of the technicians' lobbies in modern societies, the only way of limiting the damage is to strengthen the procedures for information, consultation and negotiation that ensure the democratic functioning of our institutions" (13).

A truly democratic system could take a form similar to the one we proposed - without success - for the national committee on ethics (14). There again, it would be a matter of reducing every expert to a purely informative role, and then having faith in the intelligence, intuition and good sense of responsible citizens. This is the line taken by the French Committee on Sustainable Development, which has just put forward an opinion (15) that calls for a consultative committee for the evaluation of technologies (CCET) made up of volunteers selected by lot and with a reputation for "openness of mind" - independent, that is, of industry, the research field and non-governmental organisations. After completing a study, they would be asked to draft an opinion giving the view of ordinary people.

This committee would have the authority to consult all parties without distinction - drawing on the expertise of scientists and people in the social sciences, industrialists, economists, professional associations, etc. - in order to arrive at its opinion. This would be not only the most democratic way of conducting an expert assessment, but also the most "scientific" - assuming scientific to mean the product of reason that does not lose sight of the fact that it does not know everything.

It would not, of course, be a question of abandoning these unfortunate "open minds", who have volunteered to learn about the subject and bear responsibility, to the torments of technique and methodology. They would have to be given a "moderator" skilled in human relations, together with a steering committee (itself independent of what is at stake in the evaluation) that would suggest and bring together the various sources of expertise. If consensus could not be found within the CCET, there could be citizens' conferences; held simultaneously and widespread geographically, such a decentralised arrangement would make it easier to achieve objectivity.

Where opinions converged, this would be seen as representing enlightened public opinion. Persistent differences of opinion would indicate insuperable difficulties. A set-up like this could readily be transposed to regional level, where the views of a European consultative committee could be backed up by those of national citizens' conferences. The cost of managing structures like this should be met by a specially-created fund, financed by contributions from those promoting the technological innovations.

In all cases, the political world would then at last have something to justify its decisions. It would still need to take account of other factors, in particular geopolitical ones (as is after all the case with decisions of any kind), but do so without ignoring the effects its action would have over time in the world around; that is to say, it would have to resist a number of temptations that have already been identified (16).

The first is that of casuistry - an age-old practice but one happily revived by some who would sooner argue endlessly than follow the law, and who dodge the principles of good conduct by taking refuge in individual foibles. The second temptation is the moratorium, which makes it possible to pave the way to acceptance through familiarity, relying on ethics becoming watered down with the passage of time. And finally there is the temptation to shut one's front door on the outside world - to act as if there were several humankinds, and not all of them inhabited the same planet, so that deciding what to do here does not mean you have to be bothered by knowing what is then going to happen somewhere else. If we are to be really serious, with a truly sustainable development in mind, we shall have to accept that acting cautiously is the business of everyone in the world.


(1) Bernard Kalaora, "Global expert: la religion des mots", Ethnologie française, XXIX, 1999, p. 4.

(2) Philippe Kourilsky and Geneviève Viney, Report to the prime minister on the principle of precaution, Paris, October 1999.

(3) European Commission, Communication on consumer health and food safety, 30 April 1997, COM (97)183 final, Official Journal of the European Communities (OJEC), C 97/202 of 30 April 1997.

(4) See "Etiquetage et traçabilité ne sont pas une panacée", Libération, 26 November 1999.

(5) See "La biotechnologie sème à tout vent", Le Monde diplomatique, May 1997.

(6) European Commission, Communication on the precautionary principle, 2 February 2000, COM (00)153 final, OJEC, C 2000/58 of 2 February 2000.

(7) Hans Jonas, Le Principle responsabilité: une éthique pour la civilisation technologique , Editions du Cerf, Paris, 1990.

(8) This is a genetic procedure that inhibits fertility in plants from transgenic cereals, and thus means that seed has to be bought afresh each year. The indignation this "innovation" aroused made Monsanto give up marketing it (for the time being?). See Jean-Pierre Berlan and Richard C. Lewontin, "Operation Terminator", Le Monde diplomatique, English edition, December 1998;

(9) Michel Callon, "Des différentes formes de démocratie technique", Annales des Mines, no. 9, Paris, 1998.

(10) Pierre Benoît Joly, Gérard Assouline, Dominique Kréziak, Juliette Lemarié, Claire Marris and Alexis Roy, L'Innovation controversée: le débat public sur les OGM en France, INRA, Grenoble, January 2000.

(11) Jean-Yves Le Déaut, Choix technologiques, débat public et décision politique. L'opinion publique face aux plantes transgéniques, Albin Michel, Paris, 1999.

(12) Denis Duclos, "Universelle exigence de pluralité", Le Monde diplomatique, January 2000.

(13) Jean-Jacques Salomon, Le Destin technologique, Balland, Paris, 1992.

(14) See "Procréation médicalement assistée: l'éthique et la loi", Etudes, Paris, no. 3816, December 1994, and "De l'expertise à la compétence", Transversales Science Culture, no. 32, March-April 1995.

(15) French Committee on Sustainable Development, "View on the report to the prime minister by François Kourilsky and Geneviève Viney: the principle of precaution", March 2000.

(16) Des hommes probables. De la procréation aléatoire à la reproduction normative, Le Seuil, Paris, 1999. See Patrick Viveret, "Un humanisme à refonder", Le Monde diplomatique, February 2000.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.

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Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Sat, 16 Sep 2000 14:44:48 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: "taynton"

GE bacteria being released into US soils?

By Natural Law Party Wessex

If this report is confirmed it seems that GE bacteria are being deliberately being released into farm soils in the US in the form of genetically engineered legume inoculants. As if GM crops were not enough.....

An inoculant is a product that effectively introduces Rhizobium bacteria on a seed at planting. Effective inoculation with rhizobia results in the formation of root nodules that fix nitrogen for the plant. There are two common inoculant application methods –seed applied (peat based and liquids), and soil applied (granules and in-furrow liquid). For more information inoculants see:

Rhizobacteria are soil bacteria associated with root surfaces. Is the introduction of genetically engineered strains a recipe for disaster - i.e. the creation of major disturbances in the soil-biology functioning on which long term agricultural fertility is dependent? The chances are policy makers haven't even bothered to think about it.

There is already evidence that genetically modified bacteria when released into the soil can be damaging to soil fertility and crop production, even when their non engineered natural 'parents' have no such effect (see piece at bottom).

Already losing topsoil at a rate many times faster than that at which it is created how long will it be before the US has no agriculture left?

How are you going to clean this up once a problem is discovered? What impact will this have on land values where such treatment has been applied?



By Sustainable Agriculture Network Discussion Group SANET-MG@LISTS.IFAS.UFL.EDU
Mary-Howell Martens kandmhfarm@SPRINTMAIL.COM

While we are on the topic of legume inoculants, it is very important to alert all organic/sustainable farmers to the fact that there are currently genetically engineered Rhizobium inoculants on the market. This can be pretty confusing. For example, Urbana sells 2 alfalfa/clover inoculants - 'Dormal' which is not genetically engineered and 'Dormal Plus' which IS genetically engineered.

For those of you who are certified organic farmers, most organic standards do not allow the use of genetically modified organisms on an organic farm. Genetically modified Rhizobium is just that. There have been cases of organic farmers who have lost certification on fields where they planted alfalfa seed that came pre-inoculated with Dormal Plus. These fields lost certification for 3 years - back to the start of transition - because this is considered a prohibited material. Some organic farmers who ordered untreated alfalfa seed (no fungicide) last year received alfalfa seed pre-inoculated with Dormal Plus, even though they did not ask for it.

You really have to keep your eyes open! There are getting to be more and more genetically modified agricultural products on the market - its not just Bt corn and Roundup Ready soybeans anymore, folks!

Therefore - before using any microbial inoculants - PLEASE - verify with the manufacturer (not the dealer) IN WRITING that the inoculant is not genetically modified. THEN - make sure you read the label on each and every bag before planting to make sure that you don't inadvertently plant something that will jeopardize your certification. Save your labels to document that you did not plant seed with a prohibited inoculant. And talk to your certifier about other products that may be genetically modified and therefore may be prohibited. This is for your protection!

Sustainable Agriculture Network Discussion Group SANET-MG@LISTS.IFAS.UFL.EDU

Mary-Howell Martens kandmhfarm@SPRINTMAIL.COM

Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Sat, 16 Sep 2000 14:44:48 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: "taynton"


A Public Voice on Biotechnology and Agriculture
Union of Concerned Scientists
Fall/Winter 1998

Intoxicating bacterium kills plants

A recent report in Applied Soil Ecology illustrates the unexpected ways in which environmental release of genetically engineered microorganisms might cause widespread ecological damage. The core experimental finding is that the addition of a genetically engineered bacterium, Klebsiella planticola (SDF 20), to a small microcosm consisting of wheat plants and sandy soils kills the plants, while the addition of the non-engineered parent, Klebsiella planticola (SDF 15), does not.

Klebsiella (SDF 20) is a lactose-fermenting acterium engineered to produce increased ethanol concentrations in fermentors that convert agricultural wastes to ethanol. The system (developed in Germany) envisioned the disposal of fermentation residues, including the engineered bacteria, as an organic soil amendment. The report that the engineered bacteria cause plant death raised the possibility that soil amendments would kill or impair crops in the fields where they were used and, further, that, once released and established, the Klebsiella could not be eliminated.

The paper explored but failed to nail down the mechanism of plant killing. Whatever the mechanism, the research suggests that engineered microorganisms can have far reaching, potentially devastating, effects.

Source: M.T. Holmes et al., "Effects of Klebsiella planticola on soil biota and wheat growth in sandy soil." Applied Soil Ecology 326: 1-12, 1998.

Andrew Taynton, SAFE FOOD COALITION in association with THE NATURAL LAW PARTY
P O Box 665, Linkhills, 3652, KwaZulu-Natal, Republic of South Africa; tel: 031-763 2634, Cell 083 662 0411, e-mail:

The SFC and NLP call for an immediate Global ban on genetically modified foods and the creation of a safe, sustainable strategy for nourishing humanity.

Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Sat, 16 Sep 2000 14:51:30 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: "taynton"

Benbrook GM paper available as slide show

"Why Many Farmers And Consumers Are Lukewarm About GMOs And What Might Change Their Minds"


We recently reported on an important paper presented to a Meeting of the Association of Formulation Chemists, Orlando, 6 September 2000 by Dr Charles Benbrook, former Director of the Agriculture Department of the US Academy of Sciences - "WHY MANY FARMERS AND CONSUMERS ARE LUKEWARM ABOUT GMOs AND WHAT MIGHT CHANGE THEIR MINDS" (more details available at ).

Dr Benbrook has since kindly provided us with a "Powerpoint" slide copy of his presentation, with permission to distribute it to any interested party. If you would like a copy of this presentation please email us with "Powerpoint" in the subject line.

Dr Benbrook has indicated that people are welcome to use the file as a template to develop their own slide shows, with no attribution necessary. In addition to providing interesting perspectives on integrated pest management the show includes the following poignant reflection on the current state of modern agriculture from a US farmer:

"When I started farming 23 years ago, we didn't use the most powerful chemicals on the market, we didn't flood the land with fertilizer, and we still made a good living. I felt I was in control of my operation. Our gross revenue to expense ration was 3 to 1. Today, we are on the cutting edge, using GMOs, changing crop varieties almost yearly, using chemicals as if we farmed in Europe, and our revenue to expense ration has dropped to 1.25 to 1, on a good year, just enough to pay the grocery bill." Lloyd Fear, Red River Valley, Manitoba.

One thing is for sure. GMOs are not going to help farmers financially:

"Farmers will be given just enough to keep them interested in growing the crops, but no more. And GM companies and food processors, will say very clearly how they want the growers to grow the crops." Friedrich Vogel, head of BASF's crop protection business (Farmers Weekly 6 November 1998).

Despite addressing an audience of chemical engineers we understand that Dr Benbrook's presentation was very well recieved with the gathering proving more 'open-minded' than might have been expected. Are we reaching a more constructive turning point in the ongoing debate about the future direction of world agriculture?


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Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2000 14:01:32 +0200
From: "taynton"

BIOWATCH: Corrupt relationship between biotech industry & regulators.

For more on the corrupt relationship between the biotech industry and regulators see:

Also see London Times report 1 Oct 1999 on a meeting held by the British Medical Journal and the Lancet which discussed how tens of thousands are killed as a result of suppressed pharmaceutical data from biotech companies - the same people who develop GM foods:

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Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2000 14:08:53 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: "taynton"

Non-GMO farming answer to fuel crisis!


Apologies for this brief diversion from GM crops (although not from biotechnology), but petrol is another damaging technology that we don't actually need. Yes - it's true. Read on.

Everyone's now bleating about the price of petrol and diesel, but the tax issue is not the core problem - UK farmers have been protesting even though the 'red' diesel they use is virtually tax free. They are being hit by the cost of the basic raw material which only OPEC controls - do the protesting farmers seriously think they will win the hearts and minds of OPEC?

Well, the simple answer is we don't need petro-fuels any more (see below) - so let's do away with them altogether and save the planet as well as our pockets.

Farmers in Europe are paid to take land out of production because they can't find markets for their surplus food production. Well, instead they should get on and grow the biomass required for 'fuel cell' vehicles - a completely new type of pollution-free transport which does not rely on the internal combustion engine. The only by-product, besides energy, is water.

Then we won't have to spend billions on military expenditure to maintain national security linked to oil supplies in the Middle East. We won't have to spend billions on treating people for cancers and respiratory diseases. We won't have to spend billions on fighting the adverse effects of global warming. Taxes can come down.

WE DON'T NEED PETROL ANY MORE - SO LET'S GET ON WITH QUITING IT!! or shall we wait until the price of oil has crept up to $50 a barrel and the polar ice caps have melted a bit more? (two antartic ice shelves have recently lost nearly 3,000 sq km in a single year m. You bet petrol is expensive.)

See what Daimler/Chrysler have in the pipeline for a petrol-free future -

Sustainable development is about living off environmental income not environmental capital. This planet has only one source of income - sunlight. Plants convert sunlight into matter which can in turn be reconverted to energy (a variation on E=MC2). Farmers grow plants.

Farmers and the sun (even wind is generated through natural thermal effects related to the sun) hold the answer to the planet's major energy and environmental problems. Now that's what we call REAL 'biotechnology'.

We need technology - but it has to be the RIGHT technology.


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Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2000 14:08:53 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: "taynton"

Fuel Cells generate Electricity How do fuel cells work, what are their benefits and in what ways are they superior to conventional technologies?

Principle of operation of a typical fuel cell:

  1. When hydrogen is fed into a fuel cell, a catalyst on the anode converts the gas into negatively charged electrons (e-) and positively charged ions (H+).

  2. The electrons (e-) flow through an external load to the cathode.

  3. The hydrogen ions (H+) migrate through the electrolyte to the cathode where they combine with oxygen and the electrons (e-) to produce water. Individual cells produce a small voltage. They are arranged in 'stacks' to provide the required level of power.

......The London Financial Times stated that ". . . recent progress in cutting the costs and improving the performance of fuel cells has been so rapid that there really does seem to be a good prospect of the technology going into mass production as a clean energy source in the next century, both for moving vehicles and for stationary power generation" (26 July 1996).

The market for automotive power and stationary generation conversion equipment is the largest market for capital equipment in the world. Fuel cells and fuel cell powered vehicles will be an economic growth leader in the coming decades securing high quality employment for many thousands of people.

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Date: Sat, 23 Sep 2000 14:05:20 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: Fwd: "taynton"

Woolworths Press Release - Hormone Free Ayrshire Milk

From 1 September 2000 Woolworths has removed the rBST growth hormone from all our Ayrshire milk and dairy products. The attached press release refers. For any further information, please contact our Foods Technology Head, Johan Ferreira on (021) 4072771 or 0833002194 or e-mail at

Richard Eskinazi
Woolworths Foods Marketing Executive

Andrew Taynton, SAFE FOOD COALITION in association with THE NATURAL LAW PARTY
P O Box 665, Linkhills, 3652, KwaZulu-Natal, Republic of South Africa; tel: 031-763 2634, Cell 083 662 0411, e-mail:

The SFC and NLP call for an immediate Global ban on genetically modified foods and the creation of a safe, sustainable strategy for nourishing humanity.

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Date: Sun, 24 Sep 2000 12:24:47 +0200
From: "taynton"

Natural medicine effective in chronic illness

By Alan Mozes
SOURCE: Behavioral Medicine 2000;26:34-46.

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - An updated version of a 5000-year-old physical, mental, behavioral and environmental health system – rooted in natural medicines and emanating from ancient India – may be effective in helping the nearly 100 million Americans who currently suffer from one of many chronic illness such as Parkinson's, diabetes and high blood pressure, according to researchers.

"Western medicine is good for acute conditions but hasn't been that successful in the treatment or prevention of chronic diseases. Natural medicine is the way nature works in terms of organizing and taking care of the universe. So with the right knowledge, ultimately, natural sources can be found to help manage chronic illness," said Dr. Jeremy Fields, study co-author and research project manager at the Center for Healthy Aging at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.

Fields and his colleagues conducted a pilot study to evaluate the outcomes for four patients with various chronic conditions, who received care based on an alternative medical system of treatment called Maharishi Vedic Medicine (MVM).

The researchers note that this regimen is recognized by the World Health Organization as a sophisticated system with both a written and oral procedural history based on natural remedies for the prevention and treatment of acute and chronic disease.

The study results are published in the journal Behavioral Medicine.

The three women and one man who served as the sample patients suffered from Parkinson's, sarcoidosis, renal hypertension and diabetes with anxiety disorder, and ranged in age from 47 to 56. Each received a personally designed MVM treatment program that included dietary instructions, herbal preparations, sound therapy, exercise, meditation and pulse diagnosis.

Standard measures typically found in healthcare facilities in the US were used to access the effectiveness of the treatments – including diagnostic lab work and clinical examinations.

After undergoing 3 weeks of MVM treatment, the patients were monitored long-term for periods ranging from 3 months to 18 months. The investigators found that all four patients experienced a significant improvement in their conditions, with a reduction in symptoms such as fever, fatigue, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety and high blood pressure.

In an interview with Reuters Health, Fields stressed that studies such as this highlight and substantiate something that many patients and doctors have already observed anecdotally – natural medicines work.

"The public is going after this natural medicine, no matter whether it's referred to as natural or by its many other names such as 'unproven medicine' or 'alternative medicine,"' he said.

Fields emphasized that the success of the treatment provided in this study is rooted in the MVM's broad approach in managing chronic disease with an eye to improving a patient's overall quality of life. "The Vedic system is focused on a holistic level – treating all the aspects of a patient's life including the biology, the genes, the food and the toxins that come in, the mind, the attitudes and the emotions," he explained.

"They're all important because by using mental techniques, exercise, nutrition, pulse diagnosis and sound therapy, you can access a wide range of care for treatment beyond surgery and drugs," Fields said.

Andrew Taynton, SAFE FOOD COALITION in association with THE NATURAL LAW PARTY
P O Box 665, Linkhills, 3652, KwaZulu-Natal, Republic of South Africa; tel: 031-763 2634, Cell 083 662 0411, e-mail:

The SFC and NLP call for an immediate Global ban on genetically modified foods and the creation of a safe, sustainable strategy for nourishing humanity.

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Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000 21:30:24 +0200
From: Glenda Lindsay

BIOWATCH: US Firm Withdraws Patent Claims on Basmati

New Delhi, September 27

IN a major success for India's effort to retain its commercial interest on Basmati rice exports, Ricetec Inc, a Texas-based US company, which had obtained a patent for 'Basmati rice lines and grains', has been forced to withdraw certain claims in its US patent.

Indian Government, which challenged the company through APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority), had filed a re-examination application contesting some of the claims of the patent.

Ricetec Inc has now withdrawn the claims, which could have adversely affected the commercial interests of Basmati rice exporters.

With this development, the danger to Basmati rice exports to the US has been successfully averted as this patent could be used to interfere in the export of Indian Basmati rice.

APEDA's request for re-examination to the US patent office included evidence that Basmati rice grains were being produced in India since long, prior to the date of the patent, and had the characteristics, which were now being claimed as unique by Ricetec Inc.

APEDA's action demonstrates the Government's resolve to protect India's Basmati interests against any attempts to misappropriate the same.

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Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2000 12:55:12 +0200
From: "taynton"

BIOWATCH: Monsanto’s Transgenic Cottons Can Make Gonorrhoea Untreatable

Press Release (Accion Ecologica, Ecuador, Institute of Science in Society, UK, and Grupo de Reflexion Rural, Argentina) 28 September 2000

According to UK Government Sources

The information is in the archives of the UK Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) which vats applications for commercial approval of novel foods and animal feed. The strongly worded advice against the approval of Monsanto’s transgenic cotton seed, was given in February 1999 (but was only published earlier this year by the UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food). At around the same time, the European Union rejected Monsanto’s application for the sale of the transgenic cottons in Europe.

The aad gene, which confers resistance to the antibiotics streptomycin and spectinomycin, is present in both Bollgard (insect-protected) and Roundup Ready (herbicide tolerant) transgenic cottons.

The bacterium responsible for gonorrhoea, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, could acquire the aad gene from transgenic plant materials during infection of the mouth and small and large intestine as well as the respiratory tract. N. gonorrhoeae could also acquire the gene indirectly from other bacteria in the internal and external environments of animals and human beings, which can take up the gene from transgenic plant materials. Those other bacteria can serve as a reservoir for antibiotic resistance genes.

The principle use of streptomycin is as a second-line drug for tuberculosis. But it is in the treatment of gonorrhoea that spectinomycin is most important. It is the drug of choice for treating strains of N. gonorrhoeae already resistant to penicillin and third generation cephalosporins, especially during pregnancy.

About 60% of the cotton harvest consist of cotton seed. Cotton seed oil is extracted for human consumption, while the residue, cotton seed cake is used in animal feed. Although the Government advice was aimed at cotton seed, there are other hazards arising from the use of transgenic cotton itself, which may be why it was rejected by the EU.

"Cotton is used in women’s sanitary napkins and tampons, in babies’ nappies, in bandages and other wound dressings." Dr. Elizabeth Bravo, a biologist from Accion Ecologica, Ecuador, reminds us, "The health impacts are enormous."

Both transgenic cottons are being grown in millions of hectares in the United States and China, and exported to other countries. They are also planted to a smaller extent in Argentina. And Monsanto is trying to introduce them into Bolivia and other Latin American countries as well as India and Thailand. Illegal plantings of at least 500 hectares have already been discovered in Indonesia.

"Why is this important scientific advice from UK Government scientists kept in the archives for more than a year before it was published?" asked Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, geneticist and biophysicist from the Institute of Science in Society (UK). "It could have, and should have, prevented millions of hectares of transgenic cottons from being planted."

Dr. Bravo and Ho call for all transgenic cotton crops should be destroyed, and no more should be planted. Meanwhile, people should avoid using transgenic cotton products, especially in tampons, babies’ nappies and wound dressings. And transgenic cotton seeds should certainly not be used in food or feed.

Contacts: Dr. Elizabeth Bravo and Dr. Mae-Wan Ho at Amerian Hotel, Buenos Aires tel: 0351-155-633635 , e-mail:; Dr. Aldolfo Boy,

Andrew Taynton, SAFE FOOD COALITION in association with THE NATURAL LAW PARTY
P O Box 665, Linkhills, 3652, KwaZulu-Natal, Republic of South Africa; tel: 031-763 2634, Cell 083 662 0411, e-mail:

The SFC and NLP call for an immediate Global ban on genetically modified foods and the creation of a safe, sustainable strategy for nourishing humanity.

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Date: Mon, 2 Oct 2000 20:32:46 -0400
From: "George Glasser"

------------------------------PRESS NOTICE---------------------------

Uranium and Radium found in drinking water fluoridation agent

Contact: George Glasser (001) 727 896 9050 email: October 2, 1995

US Center for Disease Control and Prevention Officer withholds information about radioactive substances water fluoridation agent.

In an email from Thomas Reeves, National Fluoridation Engineer, USCDC to national promoters of drinking water fluoridation –une 20, 2000. Mr. Reeves said: "The small amount of radionuclides that is in the apatite rock does not report to the fluorosilicic acid but instead follows phosphoric acid."

However, Reeves had been in possession of Thornton Laboratory analysis results for Uranium and Radium since 1998. The results showed the presence of both Uranium and Radium.

Not only was Reeves aware that the fluorosilicic acid used to fluoridate much of the US drinking water contains radioactive materials, he had also requested that Cargill Fertilizer Inc. perform the analysis. Mike Wells, lab manager for Cargill said to Reeves in the 1998 letter to Reeves: "Please Find enclosed the analysis results you requested regarding the radiological content for hydrofluosilicic acid. As you can, see the results are very close to if not below the minimum detection limits."

The analysis was done on only one sample of fluorosilicic acid by Thornton Labs of Tampa, Florida, and it confirmed that the Fluorosilicic acid contains up to 3 parts per million of uranium. However, the analysis was only performed for Uranium, Radium 226 and Radium 228. It gave no data for the remaining Uranium decay rate progeny of which some readily react with hydrogen fluoride such as Radon 222, Polonium 210, etc. are also carried as volatile fluoride gases in the exhaust stream and washed in the scrubber.

Cargill Fertilizers of Florida supply about 75% of all the fluorosilicic acid which is used to fluoridate many American drinking water supplies for the claimed purpose of reducing tooth decay in children.

The fluorosilicic acid is hazardous waste from phosphate fertilizer production. Aside from the radionuclides, other contaminants include arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, mercury, lead, chromium, vanadium, phosphorous, iron, and aluminum. The analysis shows that the uranium content is 15,000 times higher than the known Beryllium and Mercury levels. Uranium is not found in nature without its progeny- such as Radon 222 and Polonium 210, which are not mentioned in the analysis.

In 1998, Dave Purkiss, lab manager at National Sanitation Foundation International (NSFI), the EPA contracted certifying laboratory for water treatment chemicals and additives said that their tests for gross alpha, beta and gamma emitting radionuclides came up "blank" (or too low to measure) in the fluorosilicic acid. However, the results of the Cargill analysis shows that 3.0 ppm of Uranium is well within detection limits and the levels of radium 226 was detectable at parts per trillion.

In the same recently-obtained email from Thomas Reeves, the U.S. National Fluoridation Engineer, to leading promoters of water fluoridation, who describe their organization as the National Center for Fluoride Policy and Research, Reeves attempts to redefine the waste, known in the fertilizer business as "pollution scrubber liquor".

Reeves wrote: "Hi Folks, There is a small point of correction I would like to make about the production of the fluorosilicic acid [which is the source for the sodium fluoride and sodium fluorosilicate, as well]. A lot of people sometimes say, even once in a while myself, that the acid is captured with pollution scrubbers. That is not technically correct....This is a small point because the pollution scrubbers and the product recovery units are similar. But since the antis make such a big point about the "pollution" part of the pollution scrubbers, maybe we should start using the correct term."

The most perplexing and troubling aspect of this picture is that NSFI will not release analysis results of the Fluorosilicic acid because of a nondisclosure contract with the companies producing the pollution gravy, and not one government agency can produce a single safety study done with the fluorosilicic acid.

For more information go to:

Contact: George Glasser (001) 727 896 9050 email: