Genetically
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7 November 2000

Table of Contents

Inside information about Starlink
Gene Surgery For Antibiotic Resistance Genes
backgroundinfo on resistance to Cry1F and on Starlink
US view of Mad Cow
GE field tests and wierd science
F.O.E.Press Release: Scientists Slam GM Research
Cotton: GM crop approved for growing but not for human consumption ??
Voluntary Food Labeling of GM food
Recalled Corn Product List Released
UK: Alert over 'GM tortillas'
Quaker Concerns to The Royal Commission On Genetic Modification
US Mycogen – Cargill: Mergers Move Ahead
It looks like we have segregation folks (in the US)
UK: First Genetics Trial Since Greenpeace Victory
New Book: Hungry for Profit
Bt-cotton in India
Do we need to drug our children?
Coca-Cola's official statement on GE corn syrup

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Date: 2 Nov 2000 05:27:24 U
From: geno@zap.a2000.nl

Inside information about Starlink

By Wytze de Lange, Biofood Consultancy
Amsterdam , the Netherlands.

For those who plan to comment to EPA on Starlink the following information might be of interest.

The Starlink controversy may get a new dimension through the finding that this corn is not only Insect Resistant(IR) but also Herbicide Resistant (HR). Starlink does not only have the Cry9C protein but also contains the bar gene, which codes for the PAT enzyme, which gives resistance to glufosinate ammonium. The original approval procedure seems to not have considered the additional safety questions that arise from a crop with multiple resistancies. The final rule doc. by EPA actually only considers the Cry9C protein. The only time that the PAT protein is mentioned in the EPA paper is in Chapter III, part C point 3a1. There is no indication that other agencies (FDA, APHIS) did consider the multiple resistancy factor in their assessments. See: http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/biocon.html

Questions can also be asked on the information EPA gave on the Cry9C protein itself. The EPA final rule doc. states that Cry9C in event CBH351 (Starlink) is similar to microbially produced Cry9C, save for a single amino acid substitution in the internal sequence and addition of two amino acids to N-terminus. However, a fact sheet on event CBH351 mentions the following:

  1. a C-terminal truncation that removes all the amino acids following position 666 of the wild type protoxin just after the conserved sequence block 5 shared by certain Lepidoptera-active Bt Cry proteins.

  2. a N-terminal truncation that removes the first 43 amino acids at the point corresponding to the N-terminus of the 68.7 kDa fragment of the wild type toxin produced by initial trypsin-digestion, and the subsequent N-terminal addition of the amino acids methionine and alanine

  3. a replacement of arginine by lysine at position 123 in the plant encoded protein which reduces the susceptibility of the protein to trypsin cleavage to a non-toxic 55kDa fragment

This truncated Cry9C protein is toxic to Lepidoptera, including members of the families Pyralidae, Plutellidae, Sphingidae and Noctuidae (i do not know how many butterflies are among these)

In a White paper on the Aventis website, Starlink is being mentioned a key tool in Insect Resistance Management (IRM) strategy. The paper fully acknowledges that Bt crops risk to loose efficacy because insects may get resistant to them. Most of the Bt crops use Cry1a proteins and this increases the risk of resistance. Therefore event CBH351 was developed, since it works on other parts in the insect gut. See: http://www.us.cropscience.aventis.com/AventisUS/Cropscience/stage....

If Cry9C is really a key tool in the whole Bt approach, this may explain the attempt by Aventis to have Starlink now approved for human consumption. However, the fact that Starlink is also Herbicide Resistant and the fact that this was never seriously considered during the original approval, gives all the more reason to cancel the permission of use as animal feed!


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Date: 2 Nov 2000 09:04:50 U
From: "jcummins" jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

The paper below shows a method to get rid of antibiotic resistance genes in GM crops. Needless to say, the technique should have been developed before millions of acres of GM crops with antibiotic genes were allowed to be planted.

Gene Surgery For Antibiotic Resistance Genes

Strategy for clean gene transformation

By Judy Jamison, Nature Biotechnology, November 2000 Volume 18 Number 11 p 1130

In transformation of crop plants, the transfer of antibiotic marker genes or vector sequences to the environment or gut microbes is increasingly viewed as posing an unacceptable risk. Inserting foreign genes into plastid DNA is one way of minimizing transgene escape; however, conventional methods still leave behind marker and vector sequences. In this issue, Day and Iamtham describe a procedure that uses homologous recombination to generate transplastomic tobacco plants free of these controversial sequences.

In their plastid expression cassettes, reporter (uidA) and herbicide resistance (bar) coding regions flank the antibiotic resistance marker (aadA), and include direct repeats that mediate the antibiotic marker gene's excision through homologous recombination and plastid segregation. The first-generation plants were free of aadA, and subsequent crosses produced plants free of both aadA and bar genes (see p. 1172).


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Date: 2 Nov 2000 12:32:05 U
From: geno@zap.a2000.nl

backgroundinfo on resistance to Cry1F and on Starlink

Just found this:

Some useful backgroundinfo on resistance to Cry1F can be found at: http://agbios.com/articles/abn022brousseau.htm

EPA has the same application pending but I did not see a public comment period mentioned

More info on Starlink can be found in the approval paper from APHIS (may 1998). Mentions for example countries where field trials have taken place.

http://www.agbios.com/decdocs/9726501p.htm

wytze


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Date: 2 Nov 2000 17:57:04 U
From: "jcummins" jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

The article below is the US view of the Mad cow report. Most of those sharing their knowledge in this area ignore the problem of tunnel vision in science. Overbearing science authorities do ignore findings that interfere with the conclusions of their immediate clan. Certainly that this is the rule among science authorities dealing with GM crops. The British food agency seems to have taken a more than clannish approach to GM foods.

Helen Gavaghan writes from Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, U.K.

US view of Mad Cow

U.K. MAD COW DISEASE: Report Flags Hazards of Risk Assessment

By Helen Gavaghan*

LONDON –hat happens when the premise underlying a scientific risk assessment is wrong and, as a result, the risk is vastly understated? In the case of so-called mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), people die, an industry suffers, and a country panics.

Last week an independent panel issued its report (www.bse.org.uk) on how the British government has responded to a BSE outbreak over the past 15 years that has claimed 81 human lives and counting, led to the slaughter of 176,000 cattle, and cost the government $7.5 billion.

The 16-volume report, written by a three-member panel chaired by senior appellate judge Lord Andrew Phillips, concluded that the practice of feeding cattle with the remains of dead cattle spread BSE "like a chain letter" through the British herd before anyone knew what was happening. It also describes how an incorrect assumption by a scientific panel of how BSE would behave played into a desire to assure the public that the health risks were negligible –ith tragic consequences. "At the heart of the BSE story lies the question of how to handle hazard – known hazard to cattle and an unknown hazard to humans," it says.

The panel rejects the original assumption that BSE derived from scrapie, a 200-year-old disease in sheep that is not transmitted to humans, and embraces the current view that BSE and its human variation, called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), may have emerged in the 1970s from a genetic mutation that went unnoticed in a single cow. Although the report concludes that the crisis was unavoidable, it says that the epidemic could have been curbed with the swifter introduction of regulations intended to keep infected meat out of the human food chain. Phillips says a research "supremo" might also have helped to spot gaps in the scientific effort, including proposing "experiments to test the scrapie hypothesis origin."

Reactions to the report have been generally favorable. "By and large, the report's grasp of events and what drove people is about right," says Chris Bostock of the government's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, which will review the report. But some scientists worry that the government may be getting off too lightly. The report "looks exceedingly useful, but it's not aggressive enough," says Stephen Dealler, a microbiologist at Leeds General Hospital. Dealler is one of several scientists denied access to a clinical collection of brains from slaughtered cows held by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries (MAFF). The report states that there should be open access to such material for researchers. A MAFF spokesperson says that the ministry is preparing a response to the report.

The Phillips panel, convened in January 1998, was asked by the government to establish the history of the emergence and identification of BSE and vCJD until 20 March 1996--when the British government announced that BSE might be transmissible to humans. The panel was also charged with assessing the adequacy of the government's response, "taking into account the state of knowledge at the time."

The report concludes that the government took the right measures, such as excluding those parts of the carcass from the human food chain thought most likely to pose a risk of spreading infection across species, but that decisions were "not always taken in a timely fashion." For example, animal-feed traders misinterpreted a 5-week grace period to clear existing stocks of infectious material as an indication that the risk was low and, therefore, continued to sell the stock after the ban went into effect.

Nor were the best people recruited to give advice in the early days. "There were a number of people not only in this country, but in Switzerland and the U.S., who could have been approached and weren't," says panel member Malcolm Ferguson-Smith, a professor of clinical genetics at Cambridge University.

The policies were also undermined by politicians, policy-makers, and scientists playing down the BSE threat to humans. One key element was a 1989 report on the potential BSE risk to humans by a committee headed by Richard Southwood, a professor of zoology at the University of Oxford, that was based on the assumption that BSE was likely to behave like scrapie and not infect humans. Although Southwood's report said that the consequences could be very serious if that assumption were wrong, that message was rarely repeated in public utterances. "Those at the 'coal face' were getting the message that there was little risk of BSE spreading to people," says Ferguson-Smith. "So they were thinking, 'What does it matter if we chuck a bit from the carcass into the wrong bin and it is processed into human food.' "

In many ways, the BSE-vCJD picture is as murky today as it was when the British government first struggled to come to grips with the nightmarish outbreak. It's still far from certain, for example, how many people may succumb to vCJD, or even why BSE infects humans in the first place. The panel's report also presents a cautionary tale to the rest of the world: "BSE could have arisen anywhere and spread wherever animal protein is recycled," says Ferguson-Smith. "Other countries should ponder our experience."


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Date: 4 Nov 2000 01:51:02 U
From: "Renu Namjoshi" renu@ispchannel.com

GE field tests and wierd science

The following edited info came from: "get the report": http://www.stopfrankenfood.org
Weird Science The Brave New World of Genetic Engineering by U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Pesticide Action Network North America

The following is a list of genetically engineered plants that have been cleared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for field tests in the United States. Biotechnology corporations often refuse to list the type of gene inserted, calling such data "confidential business information." As a result, only those crops engineered by public institutions such as state universities regularly list the donor of the inserted gene and therefore it is not possible to determine how many other strange combinations might exist. It is also important to note that Environmental Assessments are not required for these releases (field tests).

  1. Apples and chickens To make apples resistant to fire blight, Cornell University has developed a type of genetically engineered apple that contains a gene from a chicken. They tested the crop in both 1994 and 1991 in the state of New York. (Permit #99-088-09N, Permit #94-039-03R. http://www.nbiap.vt.edu/cfdocs/fieldtests1.cfm )

  2. Corn and humans In 1998, Limagrain, a French multi-national corporation and one of the world's largest seed companies, conducted field tests in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana on genetically engineered corn that contained a human gene. The corn was engineered to produce a pharmaceutical protein. (Permit #98-117-01R, Permit #98-117-02R, Permit #98-117-03R. http://www.nbiap.vt.edu/cfdocs/fieldtests1.cfm

  3. Potatoes and mice and humans The University of Idaho has engineered two types of potatoes-one using a mouse gene and one a human gene. Both were developed to be resistant to a number of viral diseases that infect potatoes. Field tests were held in Idaho in 1998. (Permit #98-100-15N. Permit #98-100-16N. http://www.nbiap.vt.edu/cfdocs/fieldtests1.cfm

  4. Rice and humans To produce pharmaceutical proteins, Applied Phytologics, a California-based firm, inserted a human gene into a rice plant. The field test took place in California in 1996-97. (Permit #96-355-01R. http://www.nbiap.vt.edu/cfdocs/fieldtests1.cfm

  5. Soybean and cows The University of Illinois has inserted a gene from a cow into soybeans in order to alter a protein in the soy plant. The field test was in 1998-1999 in Illinois. (Permit #98-128-17N. http://www.nbiap.vt.edu/cfdocs/fieldtests1.cfm

  6. Sugarcane and cows Both the United States Sugar Company and Texas A&M University have field tested sugarcane in Florida and Texas that contains a gene from a cow as part of an effort to develop a crop resistant to clavibacter, a disease-causing bacteria. The test periods extend from 1998 to 2001. (Permit #98-071-74N, Permit #98-320-03N, and Permit #98-049-04N. http://www.nbiap.vt.edu/cfdocs/fieldtests1.cfm

  7. Tomato and flounder In perhaps one of the most famous cases of unusual genetic combinations, DNA Plant Technology field tested a tomato with a gene from the flounder in an attempt to develop a tomato that was tolerant to cold temperatures. The field test took place in California in 1991. (Permit #91-079-01R, http://www.nbiap.vt.edu/cfdocs/fieldtests1.cfm

  8. Fifty acres of corn and chickens None of the above crops has yet been commercialized; however, corn engineered to contain a chicken gene is being grown commercially in Texas. A Texas-based company, ProdiGene, has been working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to engineer a gene from a chicken into corn in order to produce the protein avidin found in chicken egg whites. Avidin is toxic to many grain-feeding pests and may make the corn resistant to pests that can harm grain in storage. The research was conducted by the Grain Marketing and Production Research Center in Manhattan, Kansas and by scientists at ProdiGene in College Station, Texas.21 (ProdiGene press release, June 7, 2000, "New Biopesticide Developed from Egg White Featured in Nature Biotechnology Magazine")

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Date: 4 Nov 2000 10:10:56 U
From: geno@zap.a2000.nl

This concerns another Aventis corn: Chardon LL (Glufosinate resistant) w.
Friends of the EarthE-mail: info-request@foe.co.uk
26-28 Underwood StreetURL: http://www.foe.co.uk
LondonTel: 0171 490 1555
N1 7JQFax: 0171 490 0881

F.O.E.Press Release: Scientists Slam GM Research

On 3 Nov 2000, at 14:26, Jean Saunders wrote:
----- Original Message -----
From: FOE Internet System nsuser@foe.co.uk
Sent: Friday, November 03, 2000 2:00 PM
Subject: FOE.PRESS.RELEASE: SCIENTISTS SLAM GM RESEARCH

SCIENTISTS SLAM GM RESEARCH
KEY INDUSTRY STUDY UNFIT FOR PUBLICATION

Scientific research backing an application for GM maize to be commercially sold to farmers is " inadequate " a public hearing was told today. Scientists from the University of Bristol's Department of Clinical Veterinary Science told the national seed list hearing that nutrition tests on chickens, presented by biotech company Aventis, "is inadequate in terms of providing any evidence or conclusions. It is not of a standard that would be acceptable for publication in a scientific journal ". Concerns were also raised about " suspicious " higher death rates among chickens that ate the GM maize during the study.

Aventis research compared broiler chickens fed GM maize with those fed on conventional maize. Friends of the Earth approached Dr Steve Kestin and Dr Toby Knowles, scientists working on chicken studies for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, to peer- review it. Their conclusions included:

During the hearing, leading experts have already questioned Aventis' scientific evidence for the marketing of this GM forage maize . In particular, they have expressed concern over the failure to test the GM maize on cows (for whom it's being produced).

Tony Juniper, Policy and Campaigns Director at Friends of the Earth said: "Once again the 'sound science' of the biotech industry has been found sadly wanting. This shoddy study should never have been submitted to support the case for this GM maize to be granted a commercial licence. The fact that it was, and the Government did nothing about it, is a scandal. When will we learn the lessons of BSE?

"It's high time the cosy and unquestioning relationship between the biotech industry and Government was ended. The well-being of the public, health and environment must be put above vested interest and profit. Aventis can start today by withdrawing this GM application."

Speaking after the hearing, Dr Kestin commented: "It's astonishing that this study has not been assessed and found wanting by the Government, and that it's been left to Friends of the Earth to have it properly reviewed".

Earlier this week the continuation of the hearing was put in severe doubt when the Government revealed that official basic tests on Chardon LL, carried out by the French authorities, had only been conducted for one year rather than the two required under EU law.

In April, the Government announced its intention to allow Chardon LL, which has been genetically modified to be resistant to Aventis' own herbicide, on to the national seed list. This is the final legal barrier before a GM seed can be sold to farmers. This would have been the first GM crop to have been added to the list. However, FOE discovered a little- known law which gave the public the right to appeal against the decision. Sixty seven groups and individuals have paid £60 to have their objections heard in public, with hundreds more filing written objections (which cost £30). The National Seed List hearing started on 2 October and is scheduled to last about 9 weeks. Aventis is refusing to produce any evidence at the hearing.


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Date: 4 Nov 2000 10:18:25 U
From: geno@zap.a2000.nl

Cotton: GM crop approved for growing but not for human consumption ??

On 4 Nov 2000, at 15:51, Robert Mann wrote:

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch October 21, 2000, Saturday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION EDITORIAL, Pg. 34

CORN BITES MAN

referred to

StarLink corn, the only genetically modified crop approved for growing but not for human consumption . . .

This reminds me – can anyone bring us up to date on the issue of whether cotton linters from GM cotton of one sort and another have been approved for addition, in various countries, for addition to human food?

If not, then the St Louis rag is mistaken.

In view of the baneful influence from a certain korporate HQ not a million miles from their editorial writers, this would not be surprising.

R

Dear Robert,

Data in Agbios database show that all GM cottons are approved (and used) for human consumption also. Mainly used in salad and cooking oil.

wytze


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Date: 4 Nov 2000 17:28:39 U
From: "jcummins" jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

Voluntary Food Labeling of GM food

November 1, 2000, Prof. Joe Cummins, e-mail: jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

During the past couple of months I have given a number of talks and forums on biotechnology in different parts of Ontario. My talks are often attended by representatives of pro-GM farm groups and agricultural officials. The government of Canada Agriculture and the Canadian Food Safety Agency have been promising that they are drafting a "Food Labeling" program for genetically modified (GM) foods , however, that promise is left hanging regarding time of implementation. However, the very fine print in the proposal is left unsaid and that is the program being constructed is purely voluntary on behalf of the food producers.

The pro-GM lobby maintains their belief that voluntary GM food labeling will be met with wild rejoicing on the part of Canadian consumers and adequately answer all the public concerns. In spite of the scandals of unapproved GM seeds and foods being marketed in Canada and rejected around the globe the GM lobby believe that the world will welcome voluntarily labeling and can be forced (by an army of sleazy diplomats and lawyers) to meet the demands of the multinational chemical companies and their bureaucratic lackeys.

The views of the GM advocates is very intolerant of opposition and never publicly criticized by the Canadian news media who have failed to mention the worlds scandals on sale of GM contaminated foods and seeds or printed short and misleading articles on the back pages of the newspaper or brief public relations statements from bureaucrats on the electronic media.

For example, in the case of corn approved for animal feed but not for human use, Canada quickly and quietly concluded that the citizens were substantially equivalent to farm animals and for that reason their was no reason to alarm the citizens or other livestock. Canadian reporters seem to spend a great deal of time cringing and sniveling and snap up and gobble down any tidbits that bureaucrats throw their way.

Of course, the world will view voluntary labeling of GM foods a silly proposal one inviting fraud. Nevertheless, the Codex Alementarius Commission of the United Nations named Canada chair of the committee to establish international protocols for labeling GM foods. No matter how silly and feckless, voluntary labeling could be imposed by the United Nations.


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Date: 5 Nov 2000 12:32:19 U
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk

Recalled Corn Product List Released

By PHILIP BRASHER, AP Farm Writer, November 3, 2000
http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ENFORCE/ENF00666.html

WASHINGTON (AP) via NewsEdge Corporation -

A nationwide recall of taco shells and other corn products because they contain an unapproved variety of biotech grain has reached stores and restaurants across the country, including Wal-Mart and Wendy's.

The manufacturer, Mission Foods Inc., estimated Thursday that the recall could cost the company as much as $10 million.

About 300 varieties of taco shells, tortillas and snack chips made by Irving, Texas-based Mission were affected by the Oct. 13 recall, according to a list released by the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA's list includes tortillas and chips sold through such restaurants as Applebees and Wendy's restaurants, and taco shells carrying private labels of a number of supermarket chains, including Safeway, Food Lion, Kroger, IGA, Albertson's and Wal-Mart.

The products contain a genetically engineered variety of corn, known as StarLink, that hasn't been approved for human consumption because of questions about its potential to cause allergic reactions. Federal officials say there is little, if any, health risk from the corn.

News of the recall also has affected sales of taco shells that aren't affected by the recall. Stores in some areas have been forced to cut prices in order to sell the taco shells before their expiration dates, said Gene Grabowski, a spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers of America. We have not heard that it is widespread across the country, but only in certain markets ... where taco shells he said.

Mission Foods estimates that its recall involves 5 million That's going to cost us many possibly as much as $10 million, said company spokesman Peter Pitts.

The recall was issued after taco shells containing StarLink corn were found in a Washington-area Safeway store. Mission officials said they decided to recall their products that contain yellow corn and switch to the use of white corn.

The company is having sales representatives check stores and restaurants for compliance with the recall. Pitts said he did now know how much of the recalled products had been returned or destroyed so far.

Stores have not reported problems selling Mission's replacement products made with white corn, Pitts said.

Kraft Foods Inc. also switched to white corn for its taco shells after it recalled its product in September because of a positive test for StarLink, but Kraft's white-corn taco shells aren't in stores yet, a company spokeswoman said.

The Kraft and Mission products were made with StarLink grown last year and mixed in with other corn that was sold to millers.

Federal officials fear that some of this year's crop also may get into the food supply because they have been unable to trace about 1.2 million bushels, or 1.5 percent of the total StarLink harvest, that were shipped from farms.

The developer of the corn, Aventis CropScience, has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to temporarily approve the grain for food use so that no more recalls are necessary. The company says there is virtually no chance that anyone could be harmed. EPA says it will review the request with scientists before deciding whether to grant it.

The FDA list: http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ENFORCE/ENF00666.html


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Date: 5 Nov 2000 15:48:09 U
From: Paul & Katrin Davis devatalk@mcmail.com

UK: Alert over 'GM tortillas'

BBC News, Sunday, 5 November, 2000, 15:27 GMT

Most supermarkets have outlawed GM food Tests on supermarket own-brand tortilla chips suggest they may contain traces of genetically-modified maize.

The environmental group Friends of the Earth sent a selection of 20 different foods from British supermarkets for analysis at a German food laboratory.

The group says that the results show two types of GM maize have been used to make the snacks sold by Sainsbury's, Tesco, Safeway and Asda.

All the shops voluntarily outlawed GM food after coming under pressure from customers.

European ban

Both the varieties of maize which are alleged to have been identified are manufactured by the biotechnology company Monsanto.

They are licensed for use in the USA but have not been approved by the UK government.

All four supermarkets have pledged to investigate the claims and carry out their own tests.

None of them has removed the chips from sale, despite appeals for them to do so by Friends of the Earth.

One of the products, known as GA21, is banned in the UK pending more information from Monsanto to prove that it does not produce allergic reactions.

And the other – known as DBT418 – has raised concerns that it could have an impact on the effects of antibiotics.

'Independent testing'

A spokeswoman for Asda said: "Since 1988 we asked suppliers to stop using GM ingredients. We have carried out regular and independent testing to ensure own label products are genuinely GM free."

Sainsbury's said it had removed GM food from 4,000 different product lines and would investigate the claims further.

And Tesco said that if the claims were confirmed it would discuss the issue with its suppliers.

Friends of the Earth's spokesman said: "Why is it down to a pressure group like ours to do these tests?

"The government must learn the lessons of BSE and ensure our food is protected from illegal ingredients."


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Date: 6 Nov 2000 02:12:46 U
From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz

Quaker Concerns to The Royal Commission On Genetic Modification

Quaker Concerns About the Ethical, Cultural and Spiritual Implications of Genetic Modification.

"We do not own the world and its riches are not ours to dispose of at will. Show a loving consideration for all creatures, and seek to maintain the beauty and variety of the world. Work to ensure that our increasing power over nature is used responsibly, with reverence for life. Rejoice in the splendour of God's continuing creation".

Quaker "Advices and Queries" 1.02 number 42

A Submission to The Royal Commission On Genetic Modification

Contact information:

Name: Jocelyn Thornton
Postal Address: 40 Ames St – Paekakariki NZ Phone: (04) 2928172    Fax: (04) 298 7296    Email: Simon_w@paradise.net.nz


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Date: 6 Nov 2000 03:52:17 U
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk

US Mycogen – Cargill: Mergers Move Ahead

(3 November – Cropchoice News) – Two major seed and chemical companies moved to the brink of extinction (by merger) this week. Mycogen, a Dow subsidiary, closed its deal to takeover Cargill Seeds. Also, the US government gave its approval for the merger of the agbiotech divisions of Novartis and AstraZeneca into the "new" seed giant Syngenta.

While producers are losing choices, the Cargill sale is the end of a long and painful road for the company. Minneapolis-based Cargill has been trying to close a deal to unload its seed operation for years; but was held up by disputes with Pioneer Hi-Bred over germplasm.

Those disputes were settled in May of this year when Cargill paid Pioneer $100 million and admitted it misused Pioneer's corn lines. The price Dow is reported to have paid, around $300 million dollars, is $200 million less than Cargill first wanted. Together with Dow's Mycogen seed business, the merged company will control 8-10% of the US seed market.

The Dow-Cargill seeds merger isn't the only deal on the front burner. Late Wednesday, Washington regulators approved the merger of the ag divisions of Novartis and AstraZeneca. The "new" company, Syngenta, will be jointly owned by shareholders in its two parents and have around $8 billion in annual sales. According to estimates, Syngenta will control close to a quarter of the entire global market for crop protection chemicals.

By merging and separating their agricultural biotech business, AstraZeneca and Novartis are pursuing a strategy similar to Pharmacia, which recently started spinning off Monsanto. The idea is to reduce the exposure of bigger "life science" companies (many make pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, food products, etc..) to the and uncertain agbiotech sector..


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Date: 6 Nov 2000 04:35:37 U
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk

It looks like we have segregation folks. This message was sent out earlier but as I have had problems over the last couple of days, getting mail through it has been lost .
JMCN.

It looks like we have segregation folks (in the US)

US acts to calm Japan fears of StarLink corn

By Randy Fabi, Friday November 3

WASHINGTON, Nov 3 (Reuters) – In a concession to the biggest buyer of American corn exports, the U.S. Agriculture Department will begin testing corn shipments bound for Japan to prevent StarLink bio-corn from contaminating the food supply there, a senior USDA official told Reuters on Friday.

Tim Galvin, administrator of USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, said in an interview that Japan accepted the department's plan, or protocol, to test for StarLink corn.

The corn, made by Aventis SA (NYSE:AVE – news), has not been approved for human food consumption in the United States because of concerns it may trigger allergic reactions. Japan has even tougher rules, and does not allow StarLink in human or animal food. The protocol provides for safeguards of sampling and testing so StarLink does not end up in corn going to Japan for We got word back today that they (Japan)

U.S. and Japanese officials have held meetings over the past two weeks to work out a solution that would preserve a key market for American farmers.

Japan, like a dozen other major countries, requires strict labeling on human food products containing genetically-altered ingredients. In late October, a Japanese consumer group said it found traces of StarLink in a corn flour baking mix.

Currently, the USDA does not test any American grain exports for biotech varieties. USDA inspectors are stationed at key U.S. loading sites and ports to check for grain quality and other kinds of contamination.

USDA To Test At Ports

According to the new protocol, the USDA's Grain inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration will take responsibility for the StarLink testing, which starts around Nov. 15.

Barges and railcars at interior loading sites will be cleaned according to the USDA's existing grain quality standards, and corn samples will be taken and tested for any residue of StarLink, Galvin said. If no StarLink corn is detected in these tests, the railcar or barge will be sealed and its identity preserved to the export the protocol said.

The Japanese government will select random samples to confirm the testing.

Galvin said if USDA finds StarLink in U.S. corn exports, it would exporters to direct the commodity to the domestic animal feed market.

Aventis acknowledged last week that about 12 percent of this year's StarLink crop, or 9.6 million bushels, had ended in products such as taco shells and snacks for human consumption.

Agreement To Up Costs For US Corn

The U.S. grain industry expressed relief at the decision, which will allow U.S. corn exports to continue to Japan.

But the protocol will come at a cost that probably will be shared by Japanese importers, U.S. industry officials said. It obviously is going to increase the costs of delivery of exports to said Susan Keith, spokeswoman for the National Corn Growers Association.

Aventis, which has undertaken an estimated $100 million buy-back programme for all remaining StarLink corn from farmers, declined to comment on whether the company was going to reimburse exporters for the additional costs.

The USDA decision to begin testing corn exports was a major concession to the largest importer of American corn.

Japan buys about 4 million tonnes of corn annually for human food use, and another 11 million tonnes or so for animal feed. Most of the corn is purchased from the United States, accounting for nearly one-third of all American corn exports. We think this is something that should satisfy the Ministry of Health Galvin said.

Earlier Friday, an Aventis official in Japan said the company had submitted information on the safety of StarLink for animal feed to Japan's agriculture ministry in late September. Currently, Japan does not allow StarLink in animal feed.

Japan's government indicated it wanted a more scientific investigation before considering any Aventis application for StarLink in animal food, the Aventis official said. for StarLink corn, Galvin said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to give temporary approval for the use of StarLink in human food for four years. Aventis contends that much time is needed for all the corn grown since 1998 to make its way through food processing plants, grocery stores and consumer pantries.

The EPA is scheduled to hold a public meeting on StarLink at the end of November.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 6 Nov 2000 17:02:29 U
From: geno@zap.a2000.nl

Please Forward Far & Wide, Specially To Media Contacts

Read the defendant's reasoning Journalists Notes: could help many activists!

UK: First Genetics Trial Since Greenpeace Victory

Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin), 6 Nov 2000
http://members.tripod.com/~ngin

A group of 5 friends including a mother and a daughter will face trial between 13th and 17th November 2000 for openly removing an entire AgrEvo (now Aventis) GM Oilseed Rape test site in October last year.

Hugh Baker, Zoey and Lorraine Exley, Emma Henry and Stephen Gordon will defend the charge of criminal damage at Darlington Magistrates Court. They will argue that by removing the crop (at Hutton Fields Farm in Hutton Magna) they were preventing the genetic pollution it would have otherwise caused and the associated dangers to public health, the environment and property.

During the pre-trial hearing the judge consented to the appearance of expert witnesses – including Dr. Sue Mayer and Professor Mae- Wan Ho - who will give evidence concerning the open release of GM crops. Experts are scheduled to appear on the 16th & 17th of November. Press restrictions were also lifted at the pre-trial hearing.

Stephen Gordon
(0161) 8812368    sfgordon@hotmail.com

Journalists Notes

The defendants will use two defences in court, the first being that, when they took action, they were of the belief that this action would serve to protect property. The second being that, if they had not taken the action it is likely that personal injury or death would have almost certainly resulted (this being the defence for which they have been permitted to bring forward expert witnesses).

They will site Dr Pusztai's research, which has been confirmed by twenty other scientists and has also been peer reviewed and published in the Lancet, as proof of the dangers caused by GM contaminated foods. This research showed that after just ten days of eating GM potatoes rats suffered damage to their immune system and vital organs including the kidneys, thymus, spleen and gut, whilst their brain size also decreased.

The defendants will argue that genetic pollution would have occurred as a direct result of the test site at Hutton Magna. This would occur both through cross-pollination (had the crop been allowed to flower) and through a process called Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT).

They will argue that HGT occurs frequently with GMOs because of the very nature of GM 'technology', and that this poses unlimited dangers to public health. For example, in a four year study by Prof. Hans-Hinrich Kaatzit, it was shown that the alien gene used to modify oilseed rape had transferred to bacteria inside the guts of bees. This research suggests that all types of bacteria could become contaminated by genes used in GM technology, including those that live inside the human digestion system. If this happened it could have an impact on the bacterias vital role in helping the human body fight disease, aid digestion and facilitate blood clotting.

Furthermore, they will argue that the advent of GM technology will bring about new allergens and toxins that will not be detected by current food safety tests. For example, in 1992, 37 people died in the US and over 1500 were permanently disabled, after consuming a food supplement derived from genetically modified bacteria (which contained a new toxin caused by genetic modification).

They will also prevent evidence showing:

  1. GM crops, far from solving world hunger, will threaten the worlds food supply by destroying biodiversity, thus making the food supply vulnerable to extreme weather conditions (such as those we are currently experiencing).

  2. the sole reason for Aventis creating herbicide resistant seeds is to sell MORE glufosinate (a broad spectrum herbicide, soluble in water, and poisonous to aquatic life and to humans).

  3. the government, are 'not in the driving seat' with regard to the regulation of GM crops and food.

  4. that, transnationals are not democratically controlled to any reasonable level and that this is exacerbated by power they are given through socially and environmentally irresponsible institutions such as the WTO.

The defendants also intend to show that transnationals, being in the position that they are, act without consideration of social or environmental consequences, or lose out to competition. And that, therefore, there is an urgent need for strict international laws to ensure that transnationals work in the interest of the public.

Stephen Gordon
(0161) 8812368    sfgordon@hotmail.com


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 6 Nov 2000 18:02:07 U
From: geno@zap.a2000.nl

New Book: Hungry for Profit

New Book Announcement --- Monthly Review Press 122 West 27th St., NewYork,NY10001
T: (212)691-2555    F: (212)727-3676    Email: promo@monthlyreview.org
CONTACT: Renee Pendergrass, Tel: 1-800-670-9499
Order through your local bookstore or call 1-800-670-9499. Complete catalog upon request.

HUNGRY FOR PROFIT
The Agribusiness Threat to Farmers, Food, and the Environment
ISBN:1-58367-016-5 PAPER/$19.00
ISBN:1-58367-015-7 CLOTH/$45.00

A collection of new and expanded essays from a special issue of Monthly Review.

Edited by Fred Magdoff, John Bellamy Foster, and Frederick H. Buttel

The agribusiness/food sector is the second most profitable industry in the United States-following pharmaceuticals-with annual sales over $400billion.Contributing to its profitability are the breathtaking strides in biotechnology coupled with the growing concentration of ownership and control by food's largest corporations.

Everything, from decisions on which foods are produced, to how they are processed, distributed, and marketed is, remarkably, dictated by a select few giants wielding enormous power. More and more farmers are forced to adopt new technologies and strategies with consequences potentially harmful to the environment, our health, and the quality of our lives. The role played by trade institutions like the World Trade Organization serves only to make matters worse.

Through it all, the paradox of capitalist agriculture persists: ever-greater numbers remain hungry and malnourished despite an increase in world food supplies and the perpetuation of food overproduction.

Hungry for Profit presents a historical analysis and an incisive overview of the issues and debates surrounding the global commodification of agriculture. Contributors address the growing public concern over food safety and controversial developments in agricultural biotechnology including genetically engineered foods.

Hungry for Profit also examines the extent to which our environmental, social, and economic problems are intertwined with the structure of global agriculture as it now exists.

Hungry for Profit demystifies the reasons why hunger proliferates in the midst of plenty and points the way toward sustainable solutions. Perhaps most important, it highlights the ways in which farmer, farmworkers, environmental and sustainable agriculture groups – as well as consumers – are engaged in the struggle to create a just and environ-mentally sound food system which , its editors argue, cannot be separated from a just and environmentally sound society.

About the Editors

FRED MAGDOFF is professor of plant and soil science at the University of Vermont. He is the author of numerous scientific articles and of the book Building Soils for Better Crops. . JOHNBELLAMYFOSTER is associate professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is coeditor of Monthly Review and Organization and Environment, and the author of The Vulnerable Planet and Marx's Ecology

FREDERICK H. BUTTEL is professor of rural sociology and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author or editor of several books, including Environment and Modernity

CONTRIBUTORS

Fred Magdoff, John Bellamy Foster, Frederick H. Buttel, Ellen Meiksins Wood, William Heffernan, Miguel Altieri, R. C. Lewontin, Gerad Middendorf, Mike Skladny, Elizabeth Ransom, Lawrence Busch, Philip McMichael, Farshad Araghi, Linda C. Majka, Theo J. Majka, Elizabeth Henderson, Janet Poppendieck, Peter M. Rosset, William Hinton
Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 6 Nov 2000 18:17:44 U
From: geno@zap.a2000.nl

Bt-cotton in India

On 1 Nov 2000, at 13:15, Geeta Bharathan wrote:

Could be termed self-promotion, but I would like to point you to a paper that was recently published in the journal Current Science from Bangalore, India. It is an analysis of the Bt-cotton project and controversy surrounding it in India.

You can download it from http://www.iisc.ernet.in/~currsci/contents.htm

It is under General articles, and is titled "Bt- cotton in India: Anatomy of a controversy".

I would be very much interested in any comments, either on this list or by e-mail.

Geeta


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 6 Nov 2000 18:58:40 U
From: geno@zap.a2000.nl

The bio-exchange

Do we need to drug our children?

by Deborah Orr, Columnist Of The Year
d.orr@independent.co.uk UK Independent: 1st November 2000
http://www.independent.co.uk/argument/Regular_columnists/Deborah_....

By the year 2007, according to Department of Health research, one in seven British children will be taking prescribed drugs to control their behaviour. The statistic is chilling, and doesn't say much that is positive about the state of our culture.

Other statistics are just as disturbing. At present, it is estimated, one in five children has a mental or emotional illness at any given time, while one in 20 suffer from depression. Dutch research has found that a large proportion of children have trouble sleeping, which in turn adversely effects their development.

New guidelines issued yesterday by the Government's medicines watchdog, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice), contained further disturbing news about the mental health of the nation's children.

Commissioned to look into the prescribing of the drug Ritalin as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Nice has reported that far from being overprescribed, as many critics allege, the drug is underprescribed.

In 1994, 4,000 prescriptions for Ritalin were made out to children. Since then, the amount of prescriptions has been doubling every year. Last year, it levelled off, increasing from 126,500 prescriptions to 157,900. But Nice suggests that in England and Wales, there are another 48,000 children who should be on Ritalin.

Part of the controversy lies in the nature of ADHD itself. Some people say that Ritalin is merely a "chemical cosh" which irons out children's behavioural problems without getting to the root of the matter. Some even insist that there is no such thing as ADHD. However, there are brain imbalances common to children with the illness that suggest that it is a genuine clinical condition.

The report emphasises that Ritalin should only be prescribed in extreme cases of ADHD, to children over five, only by a child psychiatrist or paediatrician, and only within a comprehensive treatment programme with children, parents and health professionals involved in any decision to prescribe Ritalin.

This is hardly likely, though, to appease the many critics of the drug's use, who emphasise that Ritalin is chemically similar to amphetamines such as speed, and point to a host of reported side-effects including depression, lethargy, weight loss and sleep disruption. There are also unsubstantiated claims that the drug can stunt growth.

The Overload Network, which campaigns against the use of drugs such as Ritalin in the treatment of children, claims that the guidelines are biased, based largely on a study which was sponsored by drug companies, and making no reference to legal actions which have been taken against Ritalin's manufacturer, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, in the United States.

Other groups, though, insist that Ritalin is a wonder-drug. There is much testimony from parents who were in despair because of the erratic and frightening behaviour of their children, who found Ritalin to have entirely turned the situation around. Others, though, have been disturbed by the effect the drug had on their children, and commonly allege that it turned them into "zombies".

But while the controversy rages on, people seem rather shy of robustly discussing the real problem which is, of course, establishing why it is that so many children are falling prey to ADHD in the first place. Thinking about how to tackle the prevalence of the illness, rather than simply controlling it, is not the job of the medical profession, but it is something that surely we should be scrutinising.

Two British doctors, Dr Basant Puri, a consultant in psychiatry at Hammersmith Hospital, and Dr Alex Richardson, a research fellow in neuroscience at Oxford, both seem convinced that some manifestations of the illness may be connected to an absence of essential fatty acids (EFAs) in the brain. A deficiency of these acids causes lack of concentration, restlessness and emotional outbursts.

These acids are gained by the body naturally and directly through eating fish or seafood, and can also be converted from the fatty acids in nuts, dairy products or green vegetables. Certain foods, burgers and chips being a prime example, actually inhibit the body's ability to make EFAs.

Many parents who have children who suffer from ADHD might dislike the idea that the disorder could be connected to poor diet. But while the disorder does affect all social classes, the fact is that it does seem prevalent among the poor.

In this country, the low-income parents of children on Ritalin are entitled to a weekly disability payment of £45. If their child receives an alternative treatment such as "eye q", a supplement containing high concentrations of EFAs in marine fish oil, pure evening primrose oil and vitamin E then they don't get this payment. Surely that cannot be right?

And again, while it is not by any means always the case that the symptoms of ADHD only appear in tandem with an EFA deficiency, it is noticeable that certain factors come up again and again in case studies of children with the illness. Often the really serious behavioural difficulties emerge when a child starts to become aggressive towards a new sibling.

Also, parents of children with ADHD often are hard-working and late-working, and through no fault of their own, may not be spending a huge amount of time in their child's company. There does seem to be a link to a lack of ongoing one-to-one attention. Behavioural approaches which have some success in combating the disorder include "parent training' to help adults relate to their child in the manner they need and special tuition for the child in one-to-one situations that make them feel more secure.

Again, in contrast to the current orthodoxy, children with ADHD also seem to respond well to being taken out of mainstream schooling, in which they are often disruptive, and placed in an educational establishment that is geared to their needs. Even special units within a mainstream school seem not to work well enough in dealing with ADHD children.

And if all this talk of lack of attention, lack of the right sort of attention, and poor diet, sounds like blaming the parents, then it is not meant to. Most parents know how difficult it is to get their children to eat oily fish and greens when the children are constantly bombarded with advertisements for things that are straightforwardly bad for them.

Most parents know, too, that despite the ongoing policy which seeks to get lone parents back to work, work does take parents away from their children a great deal of the time. This time cannot be recovered unless you have the privileges of high pay, such as cleaners, au pairs and gardeners to deal with the rest of the work while you spend time with your children.

In short, it is pretty clearly the way we are expected to live our lives now that is helping children to develop brain imbalances, and the way we live now that makes treatment through medication such an attractive first resort. Consumer culture always demands a quick fix, then wonders why it doesn't quite do the trick.

And perhaps the cruellest irony in this mess is that while we are all expected to work hard now to create massive wealth now, we are also expected to admire an undertaking from our wealthy government which does not see the need to stamp out child poverty for another couple of decades. Pills now, pay later.

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Top PreviousFront Page

Date: 6 Nov 2000 22:04:48 U
From: janine swank swank@dancris.com

Coca-Cola's official statement on GE corn syrup

- -------- Original Message --------
Subject: INTMSG
Date: Fri, 3 Nov 2000 17:03:58 -0500
From: "EQueries I&CA" equeriesica@na.ko.com
To: swank@dancris.com

Your original question/comment was:

what products contain genetically engineeredingredients and what are the GE ingredients? You can't market GE into Europe and Japan, so why not offer non-GMO here as well? Atleast make it available to those of us that don't want to eat GE foods.

Thank you for contacting The Coca-Cola Company. We appreciate the opportunity to respond to you egarding your inquiries.

The Coca-Cola Company has a firm policy of using only ingredients which have been evaluated for safety based on sound food science and accepted for use in food by the relevant health and safety regulatory authorities.

Biotech corn is used in combination with traditional varieties in some parts of the world to manufacture our ingredients, but the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) we use today is identical to the sweetener we used before the new corn varieties were available. The refining process for HFCS and other ingredients removes or destroys genetic material and protein so that the alteration in the biotech- nology corn currently on the market does not affect our products in any way. Because the corn supply in the U.S. is not segregated, it would be virtually impossible to eliminate it from the original material used to produce HFCS.

Because many of our ingredients are purchased locally, and virtually no biotech crops are grown in Europe, biotech ingredients are not an issue for us there. The same is true in Japan.

Please be assured, your comments have been shared appropriately. Please feel free to contact us in the future if we may be of assistance.

Kathy Shand
Industry and Consumer Affairs, The Coca-Cola Company

Our system will not accept a direct reply to this message. If you wish to reply to this message, please visit us again on our Web site at: http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/faq/equery.asp

and send us another e-query.