Date: 8 Oct 2000 11:12:08 +0100
From: Ericka firstname.lastname@example.org
From: Laurel Hopwood email@example.com
For immediate release
October 5, 2000
Toronto Greenpeace today revealed that two biotechnology companies have conducted a genetic experiment that allowed a human/pig embryo to develop to 32 cells, and have applied for patents in the European Patent Office (EPO) to own both the process and the lifeform.
"We oppose the attempts to patent human life, just as we oppose patents on all life. It is a fundamentally degrading act," said Greenpeace genetic engineering campaigner Michael Khoo.
This news comes in the wake of the Canadian government's decision Monday to appeal the "Oncomouse" case. The Oncomouse was genetically engineered to develop cancer by Harvard University and is now owned by Du Pont. Harvard has attempted to patent the lifeform in Canada for the past 15 years and on August 3, 2000, the Federal Court of Appeal allowed the patent while noting that this is an issue which parliament should decide.
"We applaud the decision to appeal the patent on the Oncomouse case, but clearly Industry Minister John Manley must initiate a full review of the Canadian Patent Act. The Act was designed to deal with industrial inventions, not genetic experiments," said Khoo.
The vague wording in both the European Union Patent Directive and the Canadian Patent Act permits the granting of patents on life, as both treat human embryos as biological "matter" isolated from the human body.
In today's revelation, a search of EPO files revealed an application by Stem Cells Sciences of Australia and Biotransplant of the United States for patents on life covering the cloning of embryos, including humans, as well as mixed species embryos from pigs and humans. In their application, the two companies revealed in detail that their scientists have already produced embryos, which were a mix of two species, a human and a pig. The resulting embryos were then grown for about a week. The companies applied for a broad patent that would cover not only pig, cow and sheep but also human embryos.
"Greenpeace recognizes that genetically manipulated organisms contained in tightly controlled and closed systems might have applications which could benefit human health, but life should never be treated as an invention of industry," Khoo noted. "The ethical, moral and legal bases for these experiments should be subjected to broad social debate before such experiments take place and should not be thrust upon the public after patent applications are uncovered."
Sierra Club, Chair, Genetic Engineering Committee
Date: 8 Oct 2000 15:05:59 +0100
From: Robert Mann firstname.lastname@example.org
"Ten years ago we were being told that gene therapy was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Today its record stands at:
|Major adverse effects:||at least a thousand.|
- Dr Richard Nicholson,
editor The Bulletin of
Medical Ethics interviewed
on RadioNZ national programme
00-10-9 0825h NZDST
Mulgoon Professor emeritus of Environmental Studies,
U of Auckland consultant stirrer & motorcyclist
P O Box 28878, Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand (9) 524 2949
Date: 9 Oct 2000 04:28:59 +0100
(8 October Cropchoice News) In a move that could impact markets for American grain, the pacesetting British supermarket chain Iceland has announced that it will ban GMOs from feed used to raise its own-brand meat products. The BBC reports that the other major British supermarket chains Sainsbury, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer's and Asda will follow suit and ban biotech feed too.
The new policies could have implications for American producers reducing feed grade biotech exports and adding to demand for non-GMO corn and soybeans.
The UK supermarkets are the first block of big European food retailers to ban biotech feed. But in other parts of the continent, companies are under similar pressure. McDonald's restaurants in Germany, for example, have recently come under fire from activists who want the burger maker to take GMOs out of poultry and cattle feed.
If European demand for American feed grade corn and soy drops off as a result, it may change some US producer's bottom line. Almost all food grade exports to Europe are already non-GMO; but countries like the UK have continued to buy some biotech grain from American producers for use in animal feeds. British beef cattle are 30-50% corn-fed, much of which is imported (along with soybeans and meal).
The changes may present an opportunity for non-GMO exporters in the US who, so far, have mainly served food grade markets. Non-GMO grain handlers in the US and Canada contacted by Cropchoice have indicated this is precisely the kind of market signal they have been looking for.
Date: 9 Oct 2000 05:41:15 +0100
Novartis are embarking on perhaps the most dangerous GM experimenet so far. So I reckon the least we can do is to boycott all Novartis products including Ovaltine.
If anyone has contact details for Novartis, plus a list of their food products, I'd appreciate a copy.
By Antony Barnett, Public affairs editor,
The Observer (UK),
Sunday October 8, 2000
Scientists working for Swiss food giant Novartis have developed and patented a method for 'switching off' the immune systems of plants, to the outrage of environmentalists and Third World charities who believe the new technology to be the most dangerous use so far of gene modification.
Patents filed by Novartis, manufacturers of Ovaltine, reveal that its scientists expect to be able to use the radical biotechnology for almost every crop on Earth.
Novartis claims that the new use of genetic modification will give farmers greater control over disease and boost production. But critics insist that it will make Third World farmers dependent on buying the company's chemicals each year to produce healthy harvests.
A spokeswoman for Novartis said: 'We are trying to help farmers, not hinder them. We are looking at ways to improve the way plants fight disease.'
She agreed that the company had discovered a way of genetically modifying crops so that their immune systems were disabled, but stressed that this was for 'research purposes' only.
The process involves transferring a single DNA molecule, described by the firm as the 'NIM gene', to the plant. This gene then reacts with the plant's immune system, allowing it to be switched on selectively by the use of chemicals when disease threatens. But the patent also describes plants where the entire immune system has been switched off, making them highly prone to disease.
Environmentalists fear the new technology could have a disastrous ecological impact if crops with their immune systems suppressed are allowed to cross-pollinate with surrounding plant life. The use of GM technology, which uses chemicals to activate genetic traits, was specifically condemned by the UN earlier this year. It recommended that the technology should not be field-tested and called for a moratorium on its development until the impact had been fully assessed.
The patent documents seen by The Observer suggest that Novartis intends to use the new GM technology on 'barley, cucumber, tobacco, rice, chilli, wheat, banana and tomato'.
The company cites an extensive list of more than 80 crops, including several cereals, dozens of fruit such as apples, pears and strawberries, vegetables like beans and lentils, and cash crops like cotton and tea.
Alex Wijeratna of Action Aid, a development charity that works with farmers in developing countries, said: 'We find it extremely frightening that such a powerful multi-national is working on this type of technology, which seems aimed at protecting their profits by threatening the rights of poor farmers.'
Dr Sue Mayer, director of Gene Watch, said: 'These companies should halt development of these potentially dangerous products until there has been a proper assessment of whether they are good for agriculture.'
On Wednesday, the shareholders of Novartis and biotechnology giant Astra Zeneca will vote on whether to merge and create the world's largest GM company.
"Of all the technologies now in use, genetic engineering is
especially dangerous because of the threat of unexpected, harmful side effects that cannot be reversed or corrected, but will afflict all future generations. The side effects caused by genetic manipulations are not just long-term. They are permanent". Dr J. Fagan. Award-winning molecular biologist and author of Genetic Engineering: The Dangers.
"Of all the technologies now in use, genetic engineering is especially dangerous because of the threat of unexpected, harmful side effects that cannot be reversed or corrected, but will afflict all future generations. The side effects caused by genetic manipulations are not just long-term. They are permanent".
Dr J. Fagan. Award-winning molecular biologist and author of Genetic Engineering: The Dangers.
Date: 10 Oct 2000 05:12:36 +0100
from: email@example.com (Biotech Activists)
Anyone concerned about the GM foods issue will no doubt find the enclosed message from award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster David Suzuki, interesting. So please circulate.
David T Suzuki PhD is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and
broadcaster. Web: www.davidsuzuki.org
by David Suzuki http://www.davidsuzuki.org
I am a geneticist by training. At one time, I had one of the largest research grants and genetics labs in Canada. The time I spent in this lab was one of the happiest periods of my life and I am proud of the contribution we made to science. My introductory book is still the most widely used genetics text in the world.
When I graduated as a geneticist in 1961, I was full of enthusiasm and determined to make a mark. Back then we knew about DNA, genes, chromosomes, and genetic regulation. But today when I tell students what our hot ideas were in '61, they choke with laughter. Viewed in 2000, ideas from 1961 seem hilarious. But when those students become professors years from now and tell their students what was hot in 2000, their students will be just as amused.
At the cutting edge of scientific research, most of our ideas are far from the mark wrong, in need of revision, or irrelevant. Thatis not a derogation of science; itis the way science advances. We take a set of observations or data, set up a hypothesis that makes sense of them, and then we test the hypothesis. The new insights and techniques we gain from this process are interpreted tentatively and liable to change, so any rush to apply them strikes me as downright dangerous.
No group of experts should be more aware of the hazards of unwarranted claims than geneticists. After all, it was the exuberance of geneticists early in this century that led to the creation of a discipline called eugenics, which aimed to improve the quality of human genes. These scientists were every bit as clever, competent, and well-meaning as today's genetic engineers; they just got carried away with their discoveries.
Outlandish claims were made by eminent geneticists about the hereditary nature of traits such as drunkenness, nomadism, and criminality, as well as those judged 'inferior' or 'superior'. Those claims provided scientific respectability to legislation in the US prohibiting interracial marriage and immigration from countries judged inferior, and allowed sterilization of inmates of mental institutions on genetic grounds. In Nazi Germany, geneticist Josef Mengele held peer-reviewed research grants for his work at Auschwitz. The grand claims of geneticists led to 'race purification' laws and the Holocaust.
Today, the leading-edge of genetics is in the field of biotechnology. The basis of this new area is the ability to take DNA (genetic material) from one organism and insert it into a different species. This is truly revolutionary. Human beings can't normally exchange genes with a carrot or a mouse, but with DNA technology it can happen.
However, history informs us that though we love technology, there are always costs, and since our knowledge of how nature works is so limited, we can't anticipate how those costs will manifest. We only have to reflect on DDT, nuclear power, and CFCs, which were hailed as wonderful creations but whose long-term detrimental effects were only found decades after their widespread use.
Now, with a more wise and balanced perspective, we are cutting back on the use of these technologies. But with genetically modified (GM) foods, this option may not be available. The difference with GM food is that once the genie is out of the bottle, it will be difficult or impossible to stuff it back. If we stop using DDT and CFCs, nature may be able to undo most of the damage 'even nuclear waste decays over time. But GM plants are living organisms. Once these new life forms have become established in our surroundings, they can replicate, change, and spread; there may be no turning back. Many ecologists are concerned about what this means to the balance of life on Earth that has evolved over millions of years through the natural reproduction of species.
Genomes are selected in the entirety of their expression. In ways we barely comprehend, the genes within a species are interconnected and interact as an integrated whole. When a gene from an unrelated species is introduced, the context within which it finds itself is completely changed. If a taiko drum is plunked in the middle of a symphony orchestra and plays along, it is highly probable the resultant music will be pretty discordant. Yet based on studies of gene behavior derived from studies within a species, biotechnologists assume that those rules will also apply to genes transferred between species. This is totally unwarranted.
As we learned from experience with DDT, nuclear power and CFCs, we only discover the costs of new technologies after they are extensively used. We should apply the Precautionary Principle with any new technology, asking whether it is needed and then demanding proof that it is not harmful. Nowhere is this more important than in biotechnology because it enables us to tamper with the very blueprint of life.
Since GM foods are now in our diet, we have become experimental subjects without any choice. (Europeans say if they want to know whether GMOs are hazardous, they should just study North Americans.) I would have preferred far more experimentation with GMOs under controlled lab conditions before their release into the open, but itis too late.
We have learned from painful experience that anyone entering an experiment should give informed consent. That means at the very least food should be labeled if it contains GMOs so we each can make that choice.
©2000 Positive Futures Network P.O. Box 10818, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110-0818, USA phone 206/842-0216 fax 206/842-5208
Date: 10 Oct 2000 23:59:40 +0100
From: "Maynard S. Clark" firstname.lastname@example.org
Friends of the Earth list of companies using genetically engineered foods with effects such as the killing of Monarch butterfly larvae.. supermarkets are also listed in the link
Date: 11 Oct 2000 05:35:17 +0100
Via; Biotech Activists email@example.com
Posted: 10/09/2000 By firstname.lastname@example.org
(Inside info from the grain dealers)
Editors, Progressive Farmer Friday, October 06, 2000
The U.S. has become the supplier of last resort for corn and soybeans thanks to the controversy over genetically modified (GM) crops, according to Jim Skiff, president of USSoy in Mattoon, Illinois.
US Soy is a supplier of third-party-verified, identity preserved food grade, non-GM or organic soybeans and processed food-grade, non-GM or organic soy grits, flour, and meal, as well as soy oil, textured and roasted soy products that have been mechanically, not chemically, pressed or extruded. He also sells similarly processed flax oil and meal.
Skiff notes that his European and Asian customers, who are primarily food processors, have recently indicated that the retail customers "want to know the country of origin and often refuse to buy U.S.-origin non-GM or organic products. They are now buying from Canada and Brazil and getting what they want at a cheaper price than I am willing to sell them," says Skiff. "It looks like the U.S. policy on GMs has helped build a pretty good market for these other countries, which are willing to produce exactly what the customers want."
While U.S. producers may feel that the GM controversy in Europe has died down, Skiff says "the Europeans have moved on, and we are getting ready for a second wave," he says. "The legislation regarding GM tolerances for food is in place. Right now the EU is debating how much GM crop should be allowed in animal feed."
In fact, Skiff said he recently had a call from a "fairly large" northern European feed company trying to line up substantial supplies of non-GM and organic soy to be formulated into animal rations.
The primary growth area in U.S. commodities is in organic production, Skiff says. In the U.S. this market is growing at the rate of 20% a year; in Japan 25%; and in Europe by 28 to 30%, he notes. In fact, the market is becoming so particular that the hexane-extracted soy isolates currently used to add protein to many beverages are now being rejected in favor of mechanically produced isolates.
"Even if it's grown and certified as organic, once a soybean is exposed to hexane, a synthetic chemical, it's no longer considered organic," Skiff explains.
This organic niche offers "tremendous value-added potential" for U.S. farmers who are willing to undergo the three-year transition to intensive management practices, which involve weaning from chemicals and a shift to a three- to five-crop rotation. Skiff currently is paying from $13 to $17 a bushel for organic soybeans. All of his production is contracted and is subject to third-party verification from seed production and storage through planting, growing, harvest, transfer, storage and processing. "We maintain a paper trail of signed affidavits so that a buyer can literally visit the field and the farmer who grew his order," he says.
Date: 11 Oct 2000 10:53:08 +0100
From: Cliff Kinzel email@example.com
By DAVID BARBOZA, The New York Times, Business, October 11, 2000
FAIRFIELD, Iowa In 1984, John B. Fagan, a molecular biologist at the National Institutes of Health, left a promising job as a cancer researcher in Washington to come to this sleepy farm town to practice transcendental meditation and begin a new life as a university professor.
He took a post at the Maharishi International University here and became a star researcher, attracting N.I.H. research grants. But in the early 1990's, he began to have second thoughts about gene therapy and the genetic engineering of crops.
In 1994 he turned down a $614,000 research grant from the N.I.H. to study gene therapy because of concerns about the "dangerous consequences" of manipulating human genes. And two years later, he founded a company that tests crops for genetic alterations, giving processed-food makers the option of steering clear of biotechnology ingredients.
In September, Dr. Fagan's company, Genetic ID, found that a batch of grocery store taco shells sold by Kraft Foods, a unit of Philip Morris, were made with a genetically engineered corn that had not been approved for human consumption. The findings forced Kraft to recall millions of taco shells and reignited a long-standing debate over the safety and labeling of genetically altered foods.
The discovery also led to renewed allegations from the biotechnology industry that Genetic ID, one of the nation's largest testing labs, was working closely with opponents of that technology.
Genetic ID executives acknowledged Dr. Fagan's activism, but said the company itself was neutral about genetically altered crops, and relied on a widely accepted DNA testing technique, known as polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R. And, they note, the taco shell results were independently confirmed by Kraft and the Food and Drug Administration.
The biotechnology industry, which has invested billions of dollars to create genetically altered crops, says Genetic ID has secretly waged war on the industry under the cloak of doing impartial testing for food companies, many of which support biotechnology. Genetic ID, many in the industry say, is trying to create a biotech scare to increase demand for testing.
"They claim to be impartial but their principal scientist for the past several years has made a name going around and raising questions about the safety of biotechnology without any supporting scientific data," said Val Giddings, a top official at the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
The high-stakes debate over testing is certain to intensify as global food companies weigh the merits of marketing genetically altered foods to consumers, and companies exporting products to Europe and Asia move to comply with new restrictions and labeling requirements on genetically altered foods.
And like it or not, Dr. Fagan, the soft-spoken 52-year-old chairman of Genetic ID, is caught in the middle of the debate over biotechnology. The scientist-turned-activist-turned-corporate-officer is now trying to explain the intersection of those lives.
Dr. Fagan, who was born in Michigan and raised in northern Idaho, earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Washington at Seattle, where a neighbor introduced him to transcendental meditation and the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian seer. Maharishi teaches that meditation and a more organic approach to life can raise consciousness, reduce crime rates and improve the environment, among other things.
After earning a Ph.D. at Cornell University, Dr. Fagan established himself in the field seeking to find genetic links to cancer. But after leaving Washington for the cornfields of southeastern Iowa where he could practice transcendental meditation with other adherents who had gathered around the Maharishi International University here Dr. Fagan began to have doubts.
"I was seeing a lot of hype about gene therapy and how it could be used, and it was beginning to get to me," he said. "I started to wonder whether I was doing the right thing in my profession."
Dr. Fagan said he came to believe that scientists and biotechnology companies were moving too aggressively to alter the genetic code of the world's food supply, and that not enough testing had been done to assess the risks and consequences.
And so in 1995, at the request of the Maharishi, he wrote a book critical of genetic engineering, which he called a "grave threat." His solution? "Vedic engineering," following the holistic principles of the Maharishi that call for, among other things, organic farming and transcendental meditation.
A year later, as concern over the safety of genetically altered crops grew in Europe and Asia, Dr. Fagan and a group of local investors founded Genetic ID to help companies determine that their products were free of genetically altered ingredients.
Dr. Fagan served the company as scientific adviser even as he doubled as an outspoken critic of genetic engineering. He spoke at conferences, published articles and served as an informal adviser to the Natural Law Party, which sought a moratorium on the commercialization of genetically altered foods. He was even a plaintiff in a 1998 lawsuit challenging an F.D.A. determination that genetically altered foods were safe. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia recently dismissed the suit.
Genetic ID executives, however, say that when Dr. Fagan took over as chairman of the company and became a shareholder in 1998, he agreed to cease his public criticism of genetically modified foods lest the company be seen as taking sides.
Dr. Fagan said he now took a more moderate position. He is not opposed to genetic engineering, he now says in softer tones; he is simply troubled by its what he regards as its premature commercialization. He also said that his book, "Genetic Engineering: The Hazards; Vedic Engineering: The Solutions," might hint at a tougher stance than he actually holds because it was written for followers of the Maharishi, who largely accept organic or vegetarian diets.
Still, in December 1999, when the F.D.A. was holding public hearings on the issue of genetically modified foods, Dr. Fagan identified himself as a Genetic ID official and raised questions about the safety of genetically engineered foods.
Such outspokenness bothers some in the food industry. Gene Grabowski, a spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers of America, which represents the nation's largest food companies, said Genetic ID's decision to hold a news conference to publicize the Kraft test raised suspicions about the company, which had tested the taco shells for Genetically Engineered Food Alert, a coalition of anti-biotechnology organizations.
"The fact that the company has ties to Maharishi doesn't mean they can't do good research," Mr. Grabowski said. "But their tactics clearly indicate that they are not neutral on the issue of biotechnology."
At least one major food maker that in the past used Genetic ID for testing appears to be turning to other labs. General Mills now tests at the United States division of Hanse Analytik, a German company.
Genetic ID executives blame the biotechnology industry, which they say has tried to discredit the company and the transcendental meditation movement to deflect attention from the debate over the safety of biotechnology.
Indeed, when biotechnology industry executives were asked about Genetic ID, they supplied The New York Times with handouts and "backgrounders" on the company, including descriptions of Dr. Fagan's affiliation with practitioners of Transcedental Meditation, which the notes said had "some very peculiar quasi-religious beliefs about food and health."
Dr. Fagan denounced the effort as "slanderous and bigoted." Transcendental meditation, he said, is not a religion.
Despite such attacks, the privately held company said its business was booming, though it declined to disclose a list of clients, citing confidentiality agreements. Food and agriculture experts agreed that Genetic ID was clearly among the biggest companies in the newly emerging testing field, partly because it was an early entrant into the business, whose growth has been fueled by European and Japanese restrictions on genetically modified foods. It now competes with such companies as Qualicon, a subsidiary of DuPont, and Strategic Diagnostics, a Delaware company that sells test kits.
Business was not always so good, however. Dr. Fagan said a lack of business two years ago forced him to find new investors and bring in an old friend, an organic-fertilizer entrepreneur named Bill Witherspoon, to reorganize the company.
Mr. Witherspoon, another transcendental meditation practitioner, created a new kind of corporation, where decisions, he said, would be "agreed upon" by the employees. Company offices would be devoid of the "negative forces" often present in corporate America, he said.
"There are no Harvard M.B.A.'s, no biz school geniuses," he said. "There's a group of people comfortable responding to the environment rather than people who want to push the environment. We are not hierarchical, we're a network of intelligences."
Mr. Witherspoon, who once was fined by federal officials for carving geometric designs into an Oregon desert to "enliven human consciousness," said he joined Genetic ID on the condition that he could continue to work intuitively.
He personally hired nearly all of Genetic ID's employees, many of whom are followers of the Maharishi because so many of Fairfield's 10,000 residents are transplants who practice transcendental meditation.
Still, executives say the science behind the company's testing is divorced from the Maharishi's "vedic" principles, based on the sacred writings of the Hindus. At Genetic ID labs, biologists grind and homogenize samples of, say, corn, then extract the DNA and use the polymerase chain reaction process to detect and amplify the presence of genetically modified DNA. The company said it could detect genetically altered DNA content as low as one part in 10,000.
Industry experts say P.C.R. tests are not entirely reliable, and are susceptible to falsely indicating the presence of genetically modified material even when it is not actually present. But Genetic ID executives said it triple-tests each sample to narrow the chances of a false result. And, the company noted, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service has certified Genetic ID as qualified to find genetically modified DNA in food. It is seeking similar accreditation from a new F.D.A. program.
After Genetically Engineered Food Alert brought grocery store taco shell samples to the company for testing, scientists were able to detect the presence of StarLink, a strain of biotechnology corn that was approved only for animal feed. Kraft announced a recall four days later, saying it had confirmed the result.
Critics questioned Genetic ID's methods, citing a test of corn snacks for a consumer group in Japan this year in which the company said it found an unapproved variety of bioengineered corn in some samples. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture said its own tests on a similar batch were negative.
Genetic ID executives countered that the ministry's failure to confirm the result did not mean the company was wrong.
"You cannot disprove one sample with another sample that may have not come from the same lot," said Jeffrey Smith, a spokesman at Genetic ID. "We still stand behind our methods."
The company, which licenses its methods to other labs in Europe and Asia, said that it was likely to face continued hostility from major biotechnology companies. Dr. Fagan said the campaign against Genetic ID might drive him out of the company he created.
"I don't know what's going to happen," he said, noting that he has tried to keep his own views separate from company policies. "Maybe they're going to have to get rid of me."
© Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company
*** NOTICE: 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 the included information for research and educational purposes. ***
I cannot stress the importance of this message strongly enough. If any of you are not familiar with the importance of CGIAR to agricultural policy and more recently biotechnology policy and promotion, I can supply some information.
Glenn Ashton firstname.lastname@example.org
Electronic Conference in January 2001 in Preparation for a Workshop to be held in South Africa in May 2001
Project coordinator and contact:
Dr. Miguel Altieri,
U.C. Berkeley-ESPM, Berkeley, CA 94720-3112
Tel: 510-642-9802 Fax: 510-642-7428 email@example.com
The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is the key international body charged with research related to food production in developing countries. Historically, the CG system was the incubator for the new crop varieties that underpinned the Green Revolution (GR). While the GR was successful at boosting food-crop yields in many parts of the Third World, it was far less successful at reducing hunger, yet alone rural poverty.
This should not be surprising, as the GR was conceived as a natural-science based approach to major problems hunger and poverty that have much more complex causes, including many structural factors. The CG system is now poised to launch a New Green Revolution, aimed at combating the hunger remaining after the original GR. Again, the key tools are to be based on natural sciences, this time primarily biotechnology and soil-fertility management, embedded in a policy package that includes trade liberalization and partnerships with the private sector.
The CGIAR is undertaking a major re-organization to launch this new approach. Thus far, key actors from civil society above all, non-governmental, small-farmer and community-based organizations in the Third World have not been very involved in this process of re-organization. Civil society has been given or has taken little opportunity to influence the foci, structure and approach of international agricultural research.
For this reason, the Non-Governmental Organizations Committee (NGOC) of the CGIAR with the support of the Ford Foundation is initiating a process to encourage and allow key actors in civil society (NGOs; farmer organizations; environmental, policy advocacy and consumer groups; etc.) to participate in the discussions and debates about the future directions of the CG system and to influence the system's research agenda.
As a first series of activities, the NGOC will be organizing an electronic conference, during which a broad group of actors in civil society will be invited to discuss issues related to influencing international agricultural research. This will be in preparation for a face-to-face workshop on this topic to be held in May 2001 in South Africa, prior to the Mid-Term Meeting of the CGIAR. Here, civil society will be able to engage in dialogue with donors and members of the CGIAR and its Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) on key issues which must be discerned so that the CGIAR can proceed quickly with a research agenda to alleviate poverty.
In the light of continuing debate within the CGIAR about its future mission, structure and governance, the workshop in South Africa will allow civil society to gain a better understanding of and to have a greater influence on how the CGIAR can be re-organized so that it can carry out its pro-poor mission. The electronic conference and the subsequent workshop will provide excellent opportunities for NGOs and farmer organizations concerned with agricultural research for development to develop a strategy to ensure that the newly-evolving CGIAR structures for determining and coordinating the research agenda allow a balanced influence by civil society, scientists, academics and the private sector.
Some key questions to be addressed at the preparatory electronic conference include:
A major issue to be discussed is the growing prevalence of partnerships between publicly-financed international research centers and private-sector biotechnology companies. Many members of civil society are concerned that as more CG centers enter into partnerships with private corporations serious ethical questions emerge about what type of research is carried out and who owns the research results.
There is a danger that research in the CG centers could increasingly reflect the interests of private funding organizations at the expense of public-goods research. Publicly-financed research is crucial for poor farmers, who find it difficult to purchase and save seeds in a world where most industries insist on systems of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) which deny farmers the right to multiply seed on their farms and which restrict the CG centers in their research options. In this connection, goals of the electronic conference and subsequent face-to-face workshop would be to make this situation more widely known and to envision a strategy to ensure that publicly-funded international agricultural research addresses primarily the interests of poor farmers.
The electronic conference will run for two weeks in January 2001. A summary of the main conclusions and recommendations coming out of these discussions will serve as an input for the face-to-face workshop in May 2001 in South Africa, where civil-society actors, public-sector donors and key CGIAR and TAC members will discuss the mission of the CGIAR and how its research agenda can be tailored to the needs and circumstances of poor farmers. Results from deliberations on re-organization of the CGIAR which will emerge during and after International Centers Week in October 2000 in Washington D.C. will also serve as an input for the May 2001 workshop involving members of civil society.
The electronic conference will be coordinated by RIMISP (International Network on Methodology of Farming Systems Research) in Santiago, Chile. All persons who can take an active part in the discussions during the two-week period from 8 to 19 January 2001 should send a message to Miguel Altieri firstname.lastname@example.org expressing their interest. You will then be sent further information about how to join the conference.
Please forward the information about this electronic conference to NGOs, farmer organizations and other civil-society organizations, especially in the Third World, who have a stake in agricultural research for development.
To be removed from this list, send a message to email@example.com.
Mark Ritchie, President
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Ave. South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404 USA
612-870-3400 (phone) 612-870-4846 (fax)
The beginning of the end for GM crops? Namibia has already warned South Africa that if we cannot guarentee GM free maize for their export beef to Europe they will source maize elsewhere. South Africa grows GM maize specifically for animal feed. Do we need to awake up or what?
BBC ON-LINE Thursday, 5 October, 2000, 05:26 GMT 06:26 UK http://news6.thdo.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/wales/newsid%5F956000/9....
The Deeside-based supermarket chain Iceland has announced that all its livestock for primary meat production is now reared on a non-GM diet. The move has been warmly welcomed by Friends of the Earth Cymru.
A new public opinion survey commissioned by FOE reveals that 63% of shoppers want supermarkets to drop GM ingredients from animal feeds.
Other supermarkets are set to follow Iceland's lead
Only one-in-five favour supermarkets stocking products from GM-fed animals.
Most of the UK's leading supermarkets look set to follow Iceland's lead.
Sainsbury, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer's and Asda have all said that they are removing GM ingredients from animal feed.
Consumer concern has banished GM ingredients from most of our food.
But GM soya and maize is still being imported in huge quantities for use in animal feeds.
Maize commonly makes up 30 to 50% of the diet of dairy cattle.
Avoiding GM animal feed would be easier if it was labelled.
Since 1999, food eaten by the public has had to be labelled if it contains any GM DNA but animal feed is exempt.
However, last month the Food Standards Agency said that it wants to extend labelling to cover GM animal feed. The issue is also being considered by the EU.
Friends of the Earth Cymru's GM campaigner, Raoul Bhambral said: "Congratulations to Iceland. Once again they have taken the initiative on GM food.
"The public have made it perfectly clear that they do not want shops and supermarkets to rear animals on GM feed.
"It is time that every supermarket followed Iceland's lead and gave customers what they want," he added.
THIS EMAIL FROM/OR FORWARDED BY:
Andrew Taynton, SAFE FOOD COALITION in association with THE NATURAL LAW PARTY http://www.natural-law-party.org
P O Box 665, Linkhills, 3652, KwaZulu-Natal, Republic of South Africa; tel: 031-763 2634, Cell 083 662 0411, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
"In effect, the globalization of finance has become the Americanization of finance."
Wall St Journal, 13 September, 2000
The AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER
By NATURAL LAW PARTY WESSEX
Do we want the world to be run by a country which is so sick that it has more people in prison than it has farmers (see piece from Agribusiness Examiner below)?
Many European farmers have not yet worked out how the intellectual property rights attached to genetically modified crops are going to lead to their further crucifixion as part of the globalisation process in agriculture.
US farmers and their rural communities are already being slaughtered by the thousands in this process and yet chunks of the British farming establishment are still rushing around trying to persuade government, academia, farmers and the public that this is 'progress'. How gullible can you get?
"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).
Already US farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to access non-GM seed as conventional seed is phased out by the biotech companies who have been buying up seed houses. US farmers are rapidly being locked into a system which restricts their commercial rights, particularly the right to save their own seed. Once that goes the biotech companies will clean up by constantly upping the price of seed and farmers will have nowhere else to go for it. In effect any subsidies paid to farmers by the US government will pass straight through to agri-business and the farmers will be left with nothing all at the taxpayers expense.
In the current fiscal year the US government will have paid out an all time record $32.3 billion to its farmers, amounting to 40% of net farm income and still they are going bust. Where is all that money going? This sum is over six times what was originally planned by the US government under the 'Freedom to Farm' legislation.
Meanwhile ADM (US agri-business global giant and partner of biotech giant Novartis) were fined $100m dollars some time ago for illegal international price fixing so that farmers have to pay more for their animal feed rations. More recently it was announced that three of its executives will serve additional prison sentences on top of each of their two-year terms imposed in July 1999.
For more on how this company (ADM=Archer Daniels Midland (US agri-business global giant and partner of biotech giant Novartis)) operates and the FBI investigations into its activities see: http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/fbigminvestigation....
Meanwhile see how the arm of US agri-business globalisation is creeping into UK agriculture without anyone noticing: http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/scats.htm
According to a university study commissioned by the US National Farmers Union and published in 1999 this process means that corporate agri-business interests will end up “deciding who eats and reducing farmers to day laborers.ö
At the other end of the food chain the arrival of Walmart on British soil and its purchase of ASDA is just the beginning.
You ain't seen nothing yet.
Wake up British farmers before you go the way of your US colleagues. Forget the price of diesel what's coming your way is from another direction is far worse (the more the price of diesel goes down or any of your other costs for that matter the more the price of biotech seeds will go up - Why? Well, take your heads out of the sand and start thinking a little harder than usual). If you want something to protest about then get hold of this issue instead. Long term this is going to be far worse than anything the OPEC cartel can throw at you.
"The U.S. today has the reach and the power of an imperial state, yet domestic perceptions have not caught up with that reality."
---- Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State, Davos, Switzerland, 1999.
"If multinational companies are successful in creating a truly global agricultural system in which they control prices and movement of commodities, the the right of each country to establish its own farm policies will have to be destroyed."
----- Jorge Calderon, Professor of Economics at the University of Mexico and one-time member of the Mexican federal Parliament.
"He is free who knows how to keep in his own hands the power to decide, at each step, the course of his life, and who lives in a society which does not block the exercise of that power."
--- Salvador de Madariaga, 16th century Spanish diplomat.
"There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth: the first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors --- this is robbery; the second by commerce, which is generally cheating; the third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man received a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry."
--- Benjamin Franklin, "Positions to be Examined Concerning National Health," April 4, 1769
NATURAL LAW PARTY WESSEX
Issue # 89
October 4, 2000
Monitoring Corporate Agribusiness From a Public Interest Perspective
A.V. Krebs Editor\Publisher
"In some respects the deal highlights how many of today's global financial giants are U.S. companies that have leap-frogged over their European counterparts. In effect, the globalization of finance has become the Americanization of finance."
--- From the September 13, 2000 issue of the WALL STREET JOURNAL on the buying of J.P. Morgan by Chase Manhattan Corp.
|1980-1992 (Reagan\Bush Years):||85,064 corporate mergers valued at $3.5 trillion|
|1992-1999 (Clinton Years):||166,310 corporate mergers valued at $9.8 trillion|
The statistics reflect social systems in profound crisis:
--- RAFI Genotypes, August 2000
(A "must read") Biotech, Poverty, Hunger & Developing Nations http://www.worldwatch.org/biotech/bhtest.html
There is some interesting research we should be looking at for application in South Africa. The author gives his e mail address for questions.
By Emma Young,
New Scientist Online News,
7 October 2000
Price to drop
Infigen is so confident in its techniques that the clone has not yet been created. But the exact genetic copy is expected to fetch seven times the price of Mandy's normal calves.
"We're confident of getting $100,000," Infigen's Peter Steinerman told New Scientist. This premium price matches Mandy's value as a two-year-old.
Infigen thinks commercial cloning of cattle is now viable. But not all experts agree. "At this stage of the development of the technology, this is probably a publicity issue rather than the start of a genuine commercial service," says Harry Griffin of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh where Dolly the sheep was cloned.
Techniques for cloning cattle are more advanced than for any other species, Griffin says. But he thinks there are important welfare issues to consider. Cloned cow embryos often don't develop properly. Some grow larger than normal, creating health risks for the mother and calf during birth. The clones may also die prematurely.
"A 1998 report by the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council recommended that the problem of large calf syndrome should be solved before cloning becomes a commercial reality here," Griffin says.
Mandy will be cloned in December, Steinerman says, and the heifer will be due nine months later.
It will be produced using nuclear transfer, the technique that created Dolly. Infigen technicians will fuse an unfertilised egg with a cell taken from the cow's ear. The embryo will be grown in the laboratory and then implanted in surrogate mothers.
Infigen is claiming only a 5 per cent success rate in developing viable embryos from fused cells. But it thinks this will be sufficient for the process to be commercially successful. It hopes soon to be selling cloned calves for $25,000, and expects this price to fall as the technique is improved.
In Britain, there is no law against farmers buying cloned cattle, says Griffin. But Phil Hudson of the National Farmers Union thinks many will be wary.
"If farmers in Britain wanted to buy these animals, they'd have to consider the implications. There would be a number of issues to consider, including animal welfare and public perceptions. Perceptions carry a lot of weight."
In Japan, there was widespread public concern in April following a newspaper report that unlabelled "cloned" beef had been on sale for four years. The beef had in fact been produced using embryo splitting, which doesn't involve cloning an adult animal. Early embryos are surgically split and the separated cells go on to develop into identical calves.
The cloned calves are expensive, possibly too expensive for most farmers says Griffin.
"The average cow costs £800 to £1000. It's very much touch and go whether the costs can be brought down so the average farmer can benefit."
Many scientists think the future of cattle cloning lies in pharmaceutical production, rather than in making copies of prize farm animals. Infigen is also developing cloned herds of cows genetically engineered to produce therapeutic proteins in their milk.
Correspondence about this story should be directed to email@example.com
Refer to the following just-released info (which the UK Govt has kept under wraps for the past 12 months) and ponder the implications for South Africa, where both these cotton varieties are approved for growing .......and where we have one of the highest incidences of sexually transmitted diseases in the world!!
Then ask the Dept of Agriculture some searching questions!!!!!
By Burhan Wazir, Observer, Sunday October 1, 2000
Sony Corporation's products are the stuff of the Zeitgeist of the consumer age. Walkmans, Discmans, laptops and most recently WAP phones, marketed to the dance generation, have let Sony promote itself despite the scale of its operations as the funky face of global enterprise.
There have, of course, been a few hiccups in the company's glossy corporate image notably George Michael's highly publicised and successful extrication from his Sony recording contract, amid accusations of Sony's suits stifling and bullying the creative urge. But it has done little to take the shine off a generation's favourite manufacturer. In Prague last week the eco-warriors weren't stomping their Walkmans. Anti-capitalist activists carried placards lambasting McDonald's, but it is the sort of stick Sony has avoided.
All that is likely to change, however, as news gets around that the entertainment and technology giant advocates spying on eco-friendly groups who criticise those same sleek, ergonomic lines on its products.
It sounds like something out of a futuristic dystopia. It is also true. Earlier this summer, to representatives of the European Information and Communications Technology Industry Association in Brussels, Andrew Baynes, project manager at Sony International (Europe), made Sony's pitch against eco-activism. Sony's problem with the greenies is this: its products contain toxins and are difficult to dispose of. Environmentalists would like tougher controls. Sony wants to avoid them.
Its strategy is outlined in a leaked paper currently doing the rounds of the alternative internet community. Titled 'NGO Strategy', it bears all the Cold War histrionics of J. Edgar Hoover's G-Men. The document discloses the names, contacts and internet addresses of leading environmental groups that pose a public relations threat to the company the Northern Alliance for Sustainability, Greenpeace, the European Environment Bureau, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition and Friends of the Earth.
The electronics industry, including Sony, has been fighting efforts by environmentalists who would prefer the manufacturers to take responsibility for environmental and health hazards of product disposal. In the EU, these efforts have culminated in the European Commission Directive on Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment or WEEE. The proposed law would force manufacturers such as Sony to take financial responsibility for managing their products throughout their life cycle, a period that includes disposal. Compulsory targets for collection will be set in 2006 when between 70 and 90 per cent by weight of all collected equipment must be recycled or re-used. The directive would further propose the phasing out by 2008 of mercury, lead, cadmium and other toxic chemicals commonly used by the electronics industry.
The cost to the electronics industry could be astronomical. And since the European legislation surfaced several years ago, the American Electronic Association an industrial umbrella organisation for more than 3,000 companies, including IBM, Microsoft, Motorola and Intel has launched a major offensive against extended producer responsibility. The AEA says the legislation contradicts World Trade Organisation code.
Sony's presentation makes for sobering reading after three global demonstrations in the last year, are NGOs still to be characterised as subversive operatives? 'NGO Activity to watch out for!' reads page five - with added links to literature published online by Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. The environmental organisations are further identified as 'highly active' and 'well organised' with a 'global reach'.
'Don't wait!!' is the mandate from the Sony report to company personnel. Sony's recommendation is the hiring of corporate press officers as rapid reaction units. And the preparation of industry-wide template responses as opposed to the dribs and drabs of contradicting information usually associated with press offices.
So far, you might think, Sony's is the response indicative of any corporate behemoth facing the prospect of having to take responsibility for its products. But then follows the punch line. The presentation suggests the electronics industry employ 'web investigation agencies' as a solution to pesky online critics. London-based Infonic Plc are the web snoops recommended by Sony.
Infonic's website is a defiant call to arms for blue-chip companies besieged by online activists following the swell of protests in Seattle, Washington and, more recently, Prague. 'Suddenly a company's voice is no longer louder than that of its leading critics. Activists, customers, journalists and employees are talking to each other like never before, with big business finding it increasingly difficult to stay in the conversation.'
The internet detectives boast few morals in terms of the clients they take on. Infonic first rose to prominence when the company was hired by Shell International to decipher the internet as a barometer for public opinion in the aftermath of Greenpeace's victorious occupation of the Brent Spar oil platform in 1995. Other clients featured on the company website include British Airways, Levis Strauss & Co and Unilever.
The use of internet trawlers like Infonic to specifically monitor NGOs sets a precedent in the commercial sector. The monitoring of internet-friendly activists has, in recent years, taken on an alarming momentum. The Big Brother of internet investigation agencies, America's E:Watch, helps more than 800 of the world's largest corporations keep track of their reputations across cyberspace. A watchful eye on the antics of corporate protesters, naturally, is a priority. E:Watch clients include the H. J. Heinz company and Northwest Airlines. 'You'll hear rumours before they start to spread,' assures its website. 'You'll be among the first to find out about negative or inaccurate information instead of the last.'
Commercial companies using internet detectives to snoop around the websites of their detractors? It sounds like an alarming development in the information war. Until now, the activities of protest groups have traditionally been monitored by governmental agencies. Last May, the Paris-based 'Intelligence Newsletter' reported that reserve units from US Army Intelligence were deployed to monitor the 16-18 April protests against the IMF and World Bank in Washington. 'The Pentagon sent around 700 men from the Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to assist the Washington police on 17 April, including specialists in human and signals intelligence,' the report said.
According to the newsletter, activist files are being circulated via the Regional Information Sharing System, a networked database used by 5,300 law enforcement agencies in the US, the FBI, the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, the Secret Service, US Customs and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The activities of anarchic groups detailed by RISS include findings on Greenpeace, the American Indian Movement and the Zapatista National Liberation Front.
Sony's advocacy of Infonic, on the face of it, might not amount to anything more than a smear campaign against the likes of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. But environmental organisations that rely on funding for survival could find themselves crippled in the face of unsubstantiated rumours. 'People on the boards of foundations are very much part of the establishment,' says Iza Kruszewska, spokesperson for the Northern Alliance for Sustainability. 'Big corporations hold a powerful sway over their opinions on funding NGOs.'
The nervous shiver that characterises the language employed by the Sony report has been met with mild bemusement by the various environmental organisations named within its pages. California's Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition employs no more than 14 staffers at its San Jose offices. 'There's little need for web investigation agencies,' laughs Ted Smith, its executive director. 'We're hardly a Fortune 500 company. If they want to know anything about us, all Sony has to do is read our website.'
"All policymakers must be vigilant to the possibility of research data being manipulated by
corporate bodies and of scientific colleagues being seduced by the material charms of industry.
Trust is no defence against an aggressively deceptive corporate sector," THE LANCET, April 2000
"When a butterfly flaps its wings in Africa, it can cause a hurricane in New York."
"When a butterfly flaps its wings in Africa, it can cause a hurricane in New York."
By Melanie Gosling
There are so many unknowns about the consequences of genetic engineering that insurance companies will not cover the industry for liability, Glen Ashton of South Africa's Green Party told parliament's environmental affairs portfolio committee on Wednesday.
"Genetic engineering and nuclear energy power generation are the only two uninsurable economic activities," said Ashton.
He criticised South Africa's legislation on genetic modification of organisms (GMOs) because it pinned liability on the user.
"This means the farmer, the merchant and the consumer carry the liability if anything goes wrong. At no stage is liability pinned on the originator of the genetically modified crop."
He said the Green Party was calling for an immediate halt to all field trials of GMOs in South Africa, a ban on any imports and for new legislation to be drafted.
The department of agriculture has given permits to companies to grow, on a trial basis, genetically modified soya bean, maize, cotton, tomato, sugar cane, potatoes, apples and eucalyptus.
Elfrieda Pschorn-Strauss of Biowatch told the committee that overseas biotechnology companies, anxious to find alternative markets for their rejected genetically engineered products, saw South Africa as a springboard into the rest of Africa.
They marketed GMOs as a way of solving poverty and hunger.
"They base their argument on the assumption that hunger is caused by a lack of food, which is false. Hunger is caused, among other factors, by the unequal distribution of food and land. Even in the United States people go hungry, and they produce a huge food surplus every year," said Pschorn-Strauss.
She called on the government to initiate a public participation process where all stakeholders could engage in a national debate about genetic engineering.
Shadrack Moephuli, of the department of agriculture, told the committee there was little scientific evidence that GMOs negatively affected human or animal life.
South African land, of which only 15 percent was arable, had to feed a growing population. GMOs were one solution because of increased yields.
Jocelyn Webster of AfricaBio, which markets genetic engineering as a safe technology, told the committee it was important South Africa was not influenced by Europe, which was very negative towards the technology.
"All policymakers must be vigilant to the possibility of research data being manipulated
by corporate bodies and of scientific colleagues being seduced by the material charms
of industry. Trust is no defence against an aggressively deceptive corporate sector," THE LANCET, April 2000
"When a butterfly flaps its wings in Africa, it can cause a hurricane in New York."
"When a butterfly flaps its wings in Africa, it can cause a hurricane in New York."