By ANDREW POLLACK,
New York Times,
November 4, 2000
DANA POINT, Calif. When executives and lobbyists from the biotechnology industry visit Capitol Hill these days, they are often given unsolicited advice: distance yourselves, they are told, from big pharmaceutical companies, which have become public villains in the debate over rising drug prices.
By Brad Dorfman, Friday November 3 2000
CHICAGO, Nov 3 (Reuters) A majority of Americans believe recent recalls of foods containing genetically modified ingredients raise concerns about U.S. food safety, and a third said farmers should not be allowed to grow gene-altered crops, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Friday.
By PHILIP BRASHER, AP Farm Writer, November 3, 2000
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.
From: "Steve Wilson"
Thu, 02 Nov 2000 21:21:02 -0000
Fox has failed again! At a hearing this morning, the Florida trial court judge rejected the broadcaster's plea to set aside the jury verdict in favor of former Fox reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson who refused to lie and distort the truth about Monsanto's bovine growth hormone (rBGH).
Details of the ruling now available at:
We appreciate your continued support as this important battle is still not over. With bottomless pockets, Fox is sure to keep fighting and is expected to go now to the state's Second District appeals court.
By Nick Allen, The Independent, 6 November 2000
Four leading supermarkets launched investigations today after tests commissioned by Friends of the Earth detected banned genetically modified maize in the stores' own-brand tortilla chips.
The pressure group took a total of 20 foods from British supermarket shelves and sent them to a laboratory in Germany to be analysed for types of GM maize which cannot legally be sold in Europe.
Friends of the Earth said its tests found GA21 'Roundup Ready' maize, developed by the biotechnology firm Monsanto, in three products including Safeway's and Asda's own-brand tortilla chips. Traces of another GM maize, DBT418, were found in own-brand tortilla chips sold by Sainsbury's and Tesco. GM traces were also found in two types of Phileas Fogg chips.
Friday November 3 7:02 PM ET
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Wilson Foods Company said Friday it's recalling some corn tortillas because they contain traces of an unapproved variety of biotech corn.
The corn, known as StarLink, is not approved for human consumption because of questions about its potential to cause allergic reactions.
(7 November Cropchoice News) - Regulators in South Korea, America's second largest corn customer, are waking up to the Starlink scandal that has so preoccupied their neighbors in Japan. This week Korean officials faxed the country's main corn importer group, the Korea Corn Processing Industry Association, and asked them not import Starlink.
By SALLY SCHUFF, Feedstuffs Washington Editor
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Hopes for a quick fix on the StarLink crisis dimmed last week when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its schedule for reviewing a request for food approval for StarLink.
Even though EPA has opened a 30-day public comment period on the issue and has scheduled a scientific peer review, a spokesman for the agency would not speculate how soon the final decision will be made.
Thanks to Jim McNulty for posting this:
Nov 7, 2000
Britain's supermarkets have been reminded they face massive fines if they are found selling banned genetically modified foods. Store bosses have also been warned that anyone knowingly selling such outlawed foods risks up to two years in prison.
Next article posted by firstname.lastname@example.org archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html
by Andrew Darby Hobart,
The Age, Australia,
November 7, 2000
States have won the right to decide for themselves whether to grow genetically modified organisms, under changes to Australia's regulation of the controversial science. This means states will have the power to ban individual GM crops on marketing grounds, and it opens up the prospect of GM-free regions or even an entire GM-free state. The shift, agreed in principle at a meeting of state and federal officials, will be written into the policy of a Ministerial Council on Gene Technology, according to a spokeswoman for federal Health Minister Michael Wooldridge.
An amendment to the new Gene Technology Bill will also enshrine a state's right to appeal on environmental grounds against a federal decision to allow a GMO's release. The changes follow a long campaign by Tasmania to opt out of GMO releases as part of its push to be accepted as a producer of "clean and green" foods. It has already imposed its own year-long moratorium on all GM crops while it decides what course to take. Other states including Victoria and New South Wales have agreed. Victoria's Agriculture Minister Keith Hamilton welcomed the amendments and will release a discussion paper on GM zones in Victoria within the month.
Tasmania's Minister for Primary Industries, David Llewellyn, said he believed the Commonwealth had realised it was a states' rights issue. Mr Llewellyn said the amendments would let a state legislate to exclude GM crops if it was concerned about its marketing image. He said states could also opt out on environmental grounds if they could establish scientifically that there was a risk in releasing GMOs. For example, if particular native plants in one state might be affected by a GMO, the state could then argue for its exclusion. There would be no automatic state veto on environmental grounds. Anti-GM environmentalists welcomed the changes. But GE-Free Tasmania's Georgia Miller said it was disappointing that opt- out powers had not yet been extended to local government.
Thanks to Jim McNulty for posting the next 2 article:
Selected by Pro Farmer Editors, Nov 9, 2000 EST
One of the first estimates from Aventis on the cost of channeling StarLink corn from non-feed channels was mentioned today as "significantly below" $1 billion. That comment came from chief financial officer Patrick Langlois in Paris as Aventis announced third-quarter financial results.
By Bob Burgdorfer, Thursday November 9, 2000
CHICAGO, Nov 9 (Reuters) Top customer Japan continues to buy U.S. corn but concerns that the genetically modified StarLink variety could slip into shipments appears to have that country buying less than in previous years, analysts said. Usually they are in for a mid-200,000 to low 300,000 tonnes per week this said Joe Victor, vice president of marketing for the grain StarLink must be an issue because they are
The U.S. Agriculture Department's weekly export report released on Thursday showed Japan bought 164,700 tonnes of U.S. corn during the week ended Nov. 2.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes.
Natural Law Party of Canada
Genetic Engineering News Release
StarLink is a genetically engineered corn that had not been approved for human consumption because of concerns it could cause allergic reaction. In the USA, over 300 products have been recalled by Kraft, Mission Foods, Safeway, Wendys, Taco Bell, and hundreds of outlets, restaurants, and food chains across the country. However, in Canada foods contaminated with StarLink have not been recalled.
American manufacturers have confirmed that products containing StarLink corn were shipped to Canadian distributors. Some of the Canadian outlets were apparently told by US manufacturers that they were sent contaminated products. However,there has been no general recall of contaminated products in Canada, as there was in USA.
Canadians have been unable to determine which products contain StarLink. American manufacturers have not supplied lists of distributors in Canada who were shipped contaminated products. Also, there has also not been any testing of foods in Canada to determine which foods are contaminated by StarLink.
Where is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, whose mandate it is to ensure food safety?
By Cho Mee-young, 10 Nov 2000
SEOUL, Nov 10 (Reuters) The Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) said on Friday it had recalled 14,528 kilogrammes of tortillas contaminated by StarLink corn.
The KFDA also asked the U.S. embassy in Seoul to ensure no more exports of corn and processed food contaminated by StarLink corn, which is banned for human consumption in Korea, weremade to Korea from now on, its statement said.
By John Ross,
The Scotsman 9th November 2000
THE Scottish executive will come under fire on two fronts today over its decision to support GM crop trials in the Highlands without prior consultation with local people.
Executive officials will attend a public meeting in Fortrose in the Black Isle, near the farm at Munlochy where the trials of genetically modified oilseed rape are going ahead.
Objectors have criticised Ross Finnie, the rural affairs minister, for his "cavalier and arrogant" attitude having decided not to attend the event.
Andrew Thompson, of the Highlands and Islands GM Concern action group, said: "It is not right that he should delegate the job of justifying his ministerial actions to his civil servants. Mr Finnie took the decision to allow this trial crop to be planted, without allowing any opportunity for local consultation, and we believe he should have the decency to respond to our repeated requests for a meeting by attending this event in person."
By NIKKI TAIT, Financial Times (London), November 10, 2000, Friday USA Edition 1
US environmental groups claimed yesterday that liability lawsuits were being prepared in the wake of the StarLink genetically modified corn debacle and called on state attorneys-general to protect farmers from economic damage.
In a letter sent to attorneys-general in seven agricultural states, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy said it believed farmers and country elevator operators who sold StarLink seed corn were at risk, having being "inadequately advised of StarLink's unique handling requirements".
Thanks to "Maynard S. Clark" email@example.com for posting this:
CNN Nov 10, 2000 (CNN) - Concerns about human allergic reaction to StarLink, a brand of genetically altered corn, have challenged government and health officials struggling to understand why the unapproved variety has made its way into the nation's food supply.
Selected by Pro Farmer Editors,
Kyodo News Service, Tokyo November 13, 2000
Tokyo - Two-thirds of samples of imported US-grown corn for use as animal feed tested positive to a genetically modified species known as Starlink which is banned in Japan, the farm ministry said Monday.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said it has found that 10 of the 15 samples it picked from the imports tested positive to the "Starlink" corn variety that has stirred concern among consumer groups. In the tests from April through June, the samples were taken from freighters carrying the US-grown corn and animal feed factories, it said. ...
Earlier, Japan suspended US corn imports after a complaint from a consumer group but recently restarted them following a US pledge to screen shipments for the presence of Starlink.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes.
Last September, the disaster began. Tests revealed that StarLink, a biotech corn approved only for animal feed, had found its way into the US food supply. The unapproved corn was detected in taco shells distributed throughout North America by Kraft (a subsidiary of Philip Morris) under the name Taco Bell.
StarLink corn was engineered with Cry9C, a protein toxic to insects, so that insect pests who eat the plant die.
What happens when humans eat the corn? Initial research indicated that StarLink would not easily break down in the human gut, and might cause allergic or anaphalactic reactions. Therefore, the corn was only approved for animal feed until further research could be done.
When the corn was found in the taco shells, alarm bells went off across the USA. Trying to contain the disaster, Kraft recalled millions of packages of its taco shells from across the country. Next, the US's largest manufacturer of tortilla products, Safeway (Mission brand), had to recall its products, which tests showed also contained StarLink.
As evidence of the contamination spread, nearly 300 food products in USA were recalled, including more than 70 types of taco chips, over 80 taco shells, and nearly 100 foods served in restaurants and large food chains.
ConAgra Foods Inc., one of the US's biggest food markers, shut down its corn milling operation in Kansas, due to contamination. Kellogg's had to shut down its manufacturing plant in Memphis, Tenn.
Efforts to trace the unapproved corn showed that millions of bushels of StarLink, had been delivered to more than 350 grain elevators across the USA. About 9 million bushels of StarLink, or about 10 percent of the season's crop, were lost in the system and could not be accounted for.
Aventis, the manufacturer of Starlink, was blamed for not advising farmers to segregate StarLink, which was only approved for animal feed, from the other corn. While StarLink represented only 1 percent of Iowa's corn acreage, because the corn was not segrated, about half of 2 billion bushels of corn in Iowa was contaminated.
Japanese importers found traces of StarLink in a cargo of U.S. corn, and rejected the 55,000-ton cargo. The US was also losing Korea and other Asian markets. Some US feed operations, including Tyson Foods, the world's largest poultry producer, refused Starlink.
Mexico and South America were targeted as export markets for the corn. In the meantime, Aventis pressured the US Food and Drug Administration to quickly approve StarLink for national marketing, at least temporarily. But the FDA would not comply. Research in Holland had just come out, showing that rats fed StarLink began producing antibodies, indicating possible organ damage and that more research was needed.
Aventis estimated its cost for cleaning up the StarLink mess and recalling the StarLink corn at below $1 billion.
The StarLink incident showed that the US regulatory system was not able to protect the public against contamination by untested and potentially harmful genetically engineered foods. "This whole system has been self-policing by the seed industry," one food company executive said. "And obviously it hasn't worked."
Jean Halloran, director of the Consumer Policy Institute at the US Consumers Union, said: "The regulatory system is so fragmented and full of holes and inconsistencies that it's a stretch to call it a system. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors to suggest there is real review when there isn't."
More info on the StarLink fiasco has been posted at http://www.biotech-info.net/starlink_header.html
Editors, Progressive Farmer - Monday, November 13, 2000
The EPA should do its own research on StarLink corn's potential health effects on humans, rather than just take what research is given to the agency by Aventis, according to a spokesman for the Genetically Engineered Food Alert. StarLink is Aventis' trade name for the unique Bt protein, Cry9C that has been found in some corn products, even though it does not have approval for human consumption.
By Julie Vorman, Monday November 13 8:55 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) New scientific data submitted by the maker of StarLink corn does not dispel government scientists' concerns that the gene-altered crop may cause allergic reactions in humans, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday. In what it described as a preliminary evaluation and not a final ruling, the EPA said it still questioned Aventis SA's contention that StarLink poses no allergic risk.
By Laurent Belsie
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor,
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2000
ST. LOUIS - Continuing reports that unapproved bioengineered grain has seeped into the food supply worldwide is raising serious questions about whether governments can keep genetically modified and unmodified crops separate.
Corn not approved for human consumption was first found in taco shells and other food products in the United States. As recently as yesterday, governments including Britain and Japan were still investigating similar complaints in their countries.
The discoveries have embarrassed government regulators, tarnished the reputation of the struggling farm-biotech industry, and set off a mad scramble to begin testing food and grain across the globe.
The US faces the biggest risk because its grain is at the center of the spreading controversy. Unless regulators and grain handlers can better guarantee the purity of American grain, the nation could see key farm exports shrink and US consumer confidence rattled.
Although the actual risk from the corn found in US taco shells, called StarLink, appears small possible allergic reactions, federal officials say the implications are huge. Perhaps the most troubling aspect is that federal regulators missed it completely.
"The StarLink program did point out a hole in our system," says Charles Hurburgh, professor of agricultural engineering at Iowa State University in Ames. "We may have to rethink our process."
Without the efforts of a small group of activists called the Genetically Engineered Food Alert Campaign, the corn's spread to human food would never have come to light. The group tested food including Taco Bell taco shells for StarLink.
"Much to our surprise we actually found the stuff," says Matt Rand, the campaign's co-coordinator.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes.
by Jae Hur, Reuters, November 15, 2000
TOKYO According to this story, Japanese angered at U.S. exports of corn contaminated by gene-spliced StarLink donned skull masks and black cloaks to demonstrate outside the U.S. embassy in Tokyo on Wednesday, demanding tighter safety measures.
The story explains that consumer opposition to genetically modified (GM) crops has been growing since tests last month by a local consumer group revealed traces of unapproved StarLink in corn for domestic animal feed as well as for food.
Representatives of the Comsumers Union of Japan and member of parliament Tomoko Nakagawa joined a group of several dozen protesters outside the U.S. embassy to protest against U.S. exports of the gene-spliced corn to Japan.
Waving white and yellow banners reading "No! StarLink Corn," the demonstrators dressed in black cloaks and white skull masks, demanded the U.S government call a halt to exports of U.S. corn commingled with StarLink.
By SHIGEYOSHI KIMURA, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday November 15 7:39 AM ET
TOKYO (AP) A Japanese consumer group met with U.S. Embassy officials Wednesday to demand better screening to prevent shipments of a gene-altered corn from entering Japan.
The group complained to the Japanese government last month that StarLink corn was found in food and animal feed here.
The Japanese government has been looking into the group's complaints and has asked the United States to make sure StarLink does not get shipped to Japan. The consumer group is backed by the 5,000-member Consumer Union of Japan.
In a meeting Wednesday, Michael Wolsey, a U.S. Embassy official, told the group the United States will decide by the end of this week how to screen shipments to Japan, said Masako Koga of the Campaign to Say No to Gene-Modified Food.
Tomoaki Imamura, a Health Ministry official, said Japan and the United States reached an agreement this week that corn being shipped to Japan to be used in food will be tested for the presence of StarLink grain.
Details of the tests are still be worked out, he said.
Reuters/AP Nov. 2/00
PRAIRIE CITY, Iowa According to this story, Rich Bishop wants his money back, all $35,000 he suffered in losses when Starlink corn turned up unwelcome at his grain elevator in this quiet town in the pastoral heartland of Iowa, stating, "I have been hammered by this. I don't think there has been a larger issue to affect farmers in the last several decades."
The Expositor (Brantford), Oct. 27, 2000
Mary Lou Garr, Vice-Chair, AGCare (Agricultural Groups Concerned about Resources and the Environment) writes that "Canada's regulators demand that all new foods, including those developed through biotechnology, are demonstrated to be safe for human and animal health and for the environment before they are used or sold in Canada." (STRICT RULES APPLY TO MODIFIED FOODS, Oct. 21 2000)
What she always fails to note in her public relations work for the biotech industry is that it's not the government that tests the products for their safety. Instead, all crucial testing of these products is left to their promoters Monsanto, Dupont and the like. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency then rubber stamps it (the CFIA has not turned down an application since it starting approving these crops for commercialization). The entire process is secretive, including the actual data produced by the companies, which is regarded as "proprietary." No public input is allowed.
Ms. Garr also writes that "Our approach to food safety assessment, including the identification of potential toxins and allergens, has been endorsed by international bodies such as the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations." This is untrue. Of the 42 GE crops approved for use in Canada, 28 haven't been tested for human toxicity, and none have been tested for allergenicity. Another convenient ommision of fact.
Finally, Ms. Garr extolls the virtues of the "voluntary labelling" initiative being driven by industry and government. Voluntary labelling seems oxymoronic if the biotech industry is so interested in volunteering to label their products, why don't they just start tomorrow? Second, why are there are no health professionals, ecologists, environmentalists, organic farmers or other non-members of the biotech industry on this "voluntary labelling committee"? Because it is a whitewash aimed only at obfuscating the issue.
Ms. Garr normally does her PR work under the guise of a "farmer." I commend her for finally admitting her industry and government ties.
Associated Press, November 15, 2000
DES MOINES, Iowa Sixteen U.S. state attorneys general are, according to this story, pressing a genetically modified corn producer to do more to compensate farmers and grain elevators hurt when the StarLink corn showed up in the food supply.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller was cited as urging Aventis CropScience on We told Aventis that our goals are to protect the food chain, to keep the grain-handling system running smoothly to reduce any additional losses and to protect the economic interests of farmers, elevators and others in the grain industry. Aventis has taken some initial steps, but we urge them to
The story explains that Aventis already has agreed to pay farmers 25 cents -- crops grown near the genetically modified corn that might be cross-pollinated.
Aventis also is reimbursing the U.S. Agriculture Department for the cost of shipping and storing the corn to make sure it goes to livestock or industrial uses. The company said it will pay grain elevators for additional transportation and testing costs. Aventis last week estimated the cost of recovering the crop at $1 billion.
The story says that the attorneys general are asking for an expedited claims process; increased transportation and storage capabilities with more storage sites, additional staff members to answer questions and more testing resources; and further steps to accept responsibility for economic losses.
Continuing problems with RR soybeans:
Mississippi State Extension Service
Dr. Alan Blaine Plant & Soil Sciences Agronomy Notes: SOYBEANS November 8, 2000
"This year turned out to be the worst year ever for many soybean growers, as drought conditions caused problems statewide....
Varietal differences are observed every year, but quite a few varieties showed their [lack of] ability to withstand adverse conditions this year. Many varieties that looked good last year proved failures this season. This emphasizes the need for a yield history, preferably at least two years of yield data, before planting a large acreage in new varieties....
As a whole, when growing conditions become extreme, the Roundup Ready varieties seem to be more greatly affected....
Many producers would be better off planting a proven variety like Hutcheson rather than take chances with a new variety. If you do plant new varieties, do not plant more than 5 to 10 percent of your acreage in any variety with less than two years of state yield data".
By Ron Ryder, Charlottetown Guardian, Friday, November 17 2000
The drive behind biotechnology boils down to two things - profit and control - an opponent of genetic engineering told a Charlottetown audience Thursday.
Brewster Kneen, a former Nova Scotia farmer and now writer and lecturer, essentially preached to the converted as he told a crowd drawn from such local groups as Earth Action, P.E.I. Health Coalition and the Council of Canadians about the dangers multinational corporations pose to farming and biodiversity.
Kneen, who lives in Sorrento, B.C., drew from his recent book, Farmageddon, and on his background as an observer of food systems to warn a rapt crowd that technology introduced under the guise of improving agriculture may end up controlling it.
"I describe it as a kind of moral blackmail that I'm told I'll be causing the starvation of millions of people and devastating the environment if I don't go along with biotechnology," he said, dismissing the noble stated aims of some leading biotech firms.
"Are Cargill, Monsanto or Aventis really concerned about feeding the hungry? ... That is not their fiduciary responsibility. Their fiduciary responsibility is shareholder value."
He said crops produced through biotechnology and genetic modification are already far more pervasive than consumers think.
"The industry doesn't want labeling because they don't want to be liable. There's a giant experiment going on with no controls," he said.
Kneen said growers are finding cases where genetically modified plants have spread to neighbouring fields. Added to that is a recent case where Starlink, a genetically modified corn approved only for animal consumption, found its way into the human food supply.
"I think they knew perfectly well what they're doing. This is part of a game plan to so pollute the food supply that they throw their hands up in the air and say we can't do anything about it," Kneen alleged.
The former student of economics and theology said part of the problem in looking at the problems of biotechnology lies in the attitude society has to technology and to progress as unquestionable forces.
"Our society has adopted the habit of looking at technology as something that is beyond moral, critical and social discourse," he said. "Farmers look at something and say 'It's technology, I have to accept it, adopt it or get out of the way.'
"If I'm headed for a cliff I don't feel like I'm morally compelled to go forward."
Kneen said while companies and many of the farms they service are driven by the profit motives, society as a whole may be better served by abandoning the idea of progress as an end in itself. He said people probably need to look at the mindset of subsistence as opposed to perpetual advancement.
"I think the antidote to what we're seeing is probably one of attitude," he said.
"Maybe if we learn to live here taking time to find out where here is - we'd all be better off."
Here is a 4 minute video out that is billed as excellent:
Title: Gene Wars http://www.vancouver.indymedia.org/display.php3?article_id=230
Sunday, 19 November, 2000
Fast food chain McDonald's has promised not to use meat reared on genetically modified (GM) feed. McDonald's UK, which uses 30,000 tons of beef every year, made the decision in response to public concerns about the safety of the so-called "Frankenstein" foods.
The company says around 2.5 million people a day eat at one of its 1,100 restaurants in the UK.
Some farmers use GM feed to increase the muscle bulk of animals or improve their milk yield.
But anti-GM campaigners say the public cannot be sure that meat fed on GM feed is safe and they point to the BSE crisis as an example of complacency in the meat industry.
A spokeswoman for the company said: "McDonald's in the UK has taken the decision to move away from the use of animal feed containing genetically modified ingredients.
"We have therefore requested that our suppliers seek non-GM sources of feed.
"Our chicken supplier already uses feed containing soya meal of Brazilian origin, which is principally non-GM.
"We are continuing to work with our suppliers of beef, pork, eggs and dairy products to identify sources of non-GM animal feed, although sustainability remains a concern."
'Listening to concerns'
She added: "We are listening to concerns expressed by consumers seeking reassurances about the safety of food produced in this way.
"We will continue to monitor public opinion and scientific developments."
BY PAUL JACOBS, Mercury News, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2000
WASHINGTON - Last July, Larry Bohlen bought $200 worth of yellow corn products from a Safeway in Silver Spring, Md., filling his shopping cart with corn chips, taco shells and tostadas, muffin mix, corn flakes and TV enchilada dinners.
But Bohlen was no ordinary shopper. As director of health and environmental programs at the non-profit Friends of the Earth in the nation's capital, he was looking for evidence that a genetically engineered variety of corn called StarLink, approved for animal feed and ethanol production but not human consumption, had entered the food supply.
He found exactly what he set out for, a trace of StarLink DNA in one of the products he had tested - Kraft Food's Taco Bell Home Originals taco shells, the first of hundreds of products that have been recalled as a result of Bohlen's discovery.
Los Angeles Times,
Nov. 18 2000
WASHINGTON - A U.S. food recall connected to StarLink genetically altered corn has, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration broadened to include 1.45 million pounds of baking ingredients made by ConAgra Foods Inc., the nation's second-largest food manufacturer, which recalled 25- and 100-pound bags of corn flour, grits, polenta, cornmeal and binders used by restaurants and institutions. The story says that the company quietly began the recall in October, but it was not made public until the FDA published a weekly notice Wednesday of all U.S. food recalls underway. ConAgra said it did not consider the action a recall because none of the institutional-sized bags of flour ever reached stores where consumers could buy it.
By Steve Lewis, just-food.com Correspondent,
November 17, 2000
Brazil's rejection of a shipment of Paraguayan corn on suspicion that it contained some GM corn has led Paraguay to adopt a labelling program for its corn and cereal exports. Paraguayan producers can ill afford to lose access to the Brazilian market, which accounts for roughly 50% of foreign corn sales. Paraguay's four leading corn and cereal exporting companies have contracted the French company SGS to handle the labelling. The labelling companies are responsible for inspecting all shipments and to certify that 'GM free' shipments are in fact just that. Implementation of the labelling plan should be well underway by the end of this year and growers are optimistic that it will avoid any downturn in export sales.
Nov. 16 2000
Amsterdam, The Netherlands: The Dutch Council of State (the country's highest appeals body) today cancelled seven licenses for field trials of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The licenses were issued by the Dutch Ministry of Environment to biotech company Advanta Seeds and Greenpeace asked the Council of State for the suspension of the licences to prevent the field trials.
Greenpeace welcomed the council's decision, a clear signal to the Dutch government that the issuing of licenses for GMO field trials is inaccurate.
The licenses would have allowed to plant genetically engineered sugar beet and rapeseed in different locations throughout the Netherlands. The Dutch court said that the licenses did not specify with enough precision where the field trials would take place.
The verdict mentioned that the introduction of genetically modified organisms into the environment is possibly irreversible and possibly has detrimental consequences for the environment.
Greenpeace will continue legal actions against the Dutch Ministry of environment and Advanta and wants to achieve the cancellation of the licenses.
Today's verdict is an important victory also because the genetically engineered sugarbeets and rapeseed plants cannot be planted until the whole procedure against the field trials is completed. It is expected that this would take at least a year.
Also, the verdict has consequences for all new licenses for field trials in the Netherlands.
In the future, it will be necessary for the applicants to name the exact location of the field trials and all pending requests for new trials will have to be brought in again at the Ministry.
Greenpeace will file legal objections against all new applications for field trials.
Advanta seeds, a subsidiary of Advanta, acknowledged in May 2000 that it had accidentally mixed genetically engineered rapeseed with conventional seeds that had been planted in France, Germany, Sweden and the UK.
By Reese Ewing, Monday November 20, 7:13 pm Eastern Time
SAO PAULO, Nov 20 (Reuters) The French-German biotech firm Aventis (NYSE:AVE news) may lose its dominant position in the Brazilian soybean market after Brazilian farmers reported a bad batch of fungicide, only months after its bioengineered StarLink corn rattled world grain markets.
Brazilian farmers said that last month's soy plantings failed because of a bad batch of Aventis fungicide that killed the germinating seeds, said grain analysts Safras e Mercado on Monday.
By JAY HUGHES, Associated Press Writer, The Associated Press. November 20, 2000
Illinois farmers are getting early advice about what corn to plant and what to avoid next spring in hopes of preventing a repeat of this year's harvest controversy over a genetically modified corn that slipped into the human food supply.
Mishandling of the genetically modified StarLink corn variety, which is approved only for animal feed, resulted in large recalls of taco shells and some other foods earlier this fall. Fears about the U.S. grain supply have been blamed for recent drops in corn exports, and major grain handlers and government agencies are still working to segregate StarLink from corn headed to processing plants.
In a letter sent this week, Decatur-based grain processor A.E. Staley Manufacturing advises farmers to use caution if planting genetically modified hybrids, making sure they only plant those varieties approved for human use by the European Union, which constitutes a major market.
"Just as StarLink corn has changed our corn purchasing operation this year to, among other things, require testing, nothing can be assumed or taken for granted as seed choices are made for spring planting," the letter says. "The only truly safe seed selection will be seed corn free of any genetic modification."
By Julie Vorman
Tuesday November 21, 2000
WASHINGTON, Nov 21 (Reuters) A grassroots coalition of farmers worried about the costs of StarLink corn contamination said Tuesday it wants state attorneys general to push for legislation to make seed companies liable for any financial losses from gene-altered crops.
The newly formed Farmer to Farmer Campaign on Genetic Engineering said it also wanted state officials to investigate whether Aventis SA (NYSE:AVE - news) and other seed companies have adequate segregation procedures in place for biotech crops as they move from farm fields to grain elevators to rail or barge cars.
The coalition includes the American Corn Growers Association, the National Family Farm Coalition, the Institute for Agricultural Trade Policy and two dozen other groups which oppose biotech crops.
CONTACT: Ariane Kissam, 202-543-5675 or Mark Smith, 617-354-2922, both of the Farmer to Farmer Campaign on Genetic Engineering
Selected by Pro Farmer Editors, PR Newswire, November 21, 2000
WASHINGTON - Family farm groups participating in the Farmer-to-Farmer Campaign on Genetic Engineering are calling on their state Attorneys General, who are on the front line of the GE debate, to fill a policy vacuum caused by national inaction. Farmers point to StarLink as a prime example of how our current regulatory segregation and marketing systems are not able to deal with the complex issues that genetic engineering pose.
"While USDA has aggressively promoted biotechnology in agriculture, they have done virtually nothing to address farmer liability issues or to ensure that farmers are adequately protected under current industry contracts" said Bill Christison, a Missouri farmer and president of the National Family Farm Coalition. "Farmers are rapidly losing valuable export markets because of the challenges imposed on farmers by the entire biotech industry." Speaking for the Farmer to Farmer Campaign, Christison said Attorneys General need to move beyond responding to crises such as the Starlink debacle and initiate long- term actions to create farmer protection for liability.
Participating grassroots organizations in eight key farm states are calling on their Attorneys General to promote possible legislation to place liability on companies that develop and patent genetically engineered seeds. Farmers will also ask the Attorneys General to investigate the marketing of genetically engineered seeds and the rapid corporate concentration of seed companies and suppliers.
"The full extent of farmers' legal liability resulting from growing and marketing GMO crops is unclear. What is clear is that farmers may face substantial liability for violations of GMO contracts, contamination of neighbors' crops, or infringement of the companies' patents," said Lynn Hayes, an attorney with the Farmers Legal Action Group. "Before planting GMO crops farmers should fully understand their responsibilities and evaluate the risks of potential liability."
Organizations working in collaboration on the Farmer-to-Farmer Campaign are asking state Attorneys General to:
Farm groups participating in this multi-state strategy are members of the Farmer-to-Farmer Campaign on Genetic Engineering in Agriculture, a collaborative effort among family farm organizations to promote the farmer perspective on genetic engineering. Today marks the one-year anniversary of the release of the Farmer's Declaration on Genetic Engineering in Agriculture. For the past year, farm groups have been expanding the farmer voice on genetic engineering.
SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) El Salvador has prohibited the import and sale of some 75 products containing genetically altered corn and related to the Star Link brand, government spokesman Antonio Mendez said Saturday.
According Mendez, who is in charge of the government's consumer protection unit, the products have already been prohibited in the United States following studies that they could be harmful to humans.
The Economist, 18 November, 2000, P125
This week Aventis, a Franco-German drug company responsible for the Starlink debacle and extensive mismanaged canola releases in Australia, announced it will sell its agricultural business by the end of next year. Its seed business shrank by 1.4% to Ecus 3.5 billion this year. A contributing factor was the European backlash against genetically engineered foods.
Other nervous companies include AstraZeneca and Novartis, which agreed to merge their agribusiness last year. Their bio-tech baby Syngenta was a stockmarket flop, capitalising at just over half of the expected $10 billion when it was floated on November 13.
GE drug company Pharmacia bought the infamous bio-tech food group Monsanto, and is now expected to sell it within two years. Smaller company DuPont is also expected to sell its GE drug-making business, as is German company BASF who's drug division is small and unsuccessful.
Bayer is the only company soldiering on with both GE agricultural and drug divisions, as the farm side is more profitable than its pharmaceuticals.
Tuesday November 21, 5:59 pm Eastern Time
NEW YORK, Nov 21 (Reuters) Aventis CropScience on Tuesday said the protein Cry9C has turned up in corn other than StarLink, indicating that the bio-engineered corn seed may have spread further than previously reported.
The presence of the protein was thought to have been limited to Starlink, which has sparked concern since its appearance in food for human consumption.
Aventis CropScience, a unit of the French Aventis SA (NYSE:AVE news), said in a statement the corn seed showing a presence of Cry9C was produced by Garst Seed Co., of Iowa.
Garst confirmed the finding in a separate statement, saying the protein appeared in a corn hybrid produced in 1998. Tests of the hybrid produced in 1999 and 2000 have yet to show traces of Cry9C.
Aventis said it does not know how the protein came to be present in a variety other than StarLink.
Here is a biopiracy article posted by RBBAX@aol.com:
By VANESSA WILLIAMS in Melbourne., Nov 22, 20000
AN AUSTRALIAN biotech company headed by Melbourne Football Club president Joseph Gutnick has secured exclusive rights to the entire gene pool of the people of Tonga. Autogen Limited will use the genetically unique DNA of Tongans in its hunt for drugs to treat diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancers and ulcers.
The research, based on finding links between diseases and particular genes, could make the company hundreds of millions of dollars if it led to drugs being commercialised.
The collaboration is the second of its kind in the world, following the licensing of the genes of Iceland's population to an international consortium including German pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche. Autogen is also negotiating the same deal with other Pacific nations in a move that could make it the only company allowed to perform genetic studies on the entire Polynesian race.
But it is claimed the Tongans, who number 110,000, have not been told of the deal which was signed last week. Mr Gutnick is Autogen's chairman and managing director.
By Matthew Herper,
Wednesday November 22, 3:24 pm Eastern Time
Take or leave previous comparisons between genetically-modified foods and Frankenstein. But Aventis CropScience certainly must feel like it accidentally created a monster with its insect-resistant biotech corn, StarLink. The StarLink corn, like any good monster, seems impossible to control.
Now the gene that makes the corn insect-resistant is turning up in non-StarLink seeds. This after parent company Aventis (NYSE: AVE news), based in France, announced last week that it wants cast off the Research Triangle Park, N.C., Cropscience division. It's just more negative news regarding the whole genetically-modified It's not terribly surprising that you would see some cross-pollination going on
The StarLink corn, which is genetically engineered to produce a natural insecticide called Bt, led to a spate of food recalls when it wound up in corn supplies earlier this year. Unlike other Bt corn, StarLink is not approved for human consumption by the government because there is a slight chance that some people may be allergic to the insect-killing protein it contains, called CRY9C.
The CRY9C protein is showing up in foods that it wasn't supposed to be in and in seeds that never bore the StarLink name. Aventis' own tests found the protein in seeds made by Iowa's Garst Seed Company. This not only means that the StarLink brand corn is mixing with human food, but that the genes that make the corn insect resistant spread into another variety of corn seed at least once.
Corn seed distributors like Garst were supposed to follow stringent standards to ensure that only StarLink corn would contain the gene. It is We're not says Jeff Lacina, public relations manager at Garst Seed.
Part of the problem, according to Margaret Smith, an associate professor of plant genetics at Cornell University, is that small amounts of genetic contamination that wouldn't normally matter are suddenly considered very important when the contaminant is genetically modified. Current buffers between fields, she says, could not ensure that there would be absolutely no contamination. If there's one plant that's got a slightly different pollen that blew that's normally not going to be very detectible. Our ability to detect contamination with a genetically-engineered gene has
Mitsch believes that agricultural companies like Aventis are capable of the industry will work toward policing themselves if they are not policed by regulatory agencies. And clearly the public will have something to say about this if
The biggest losers might not be large agricultural companies but small organic farmers. If pollen carrying genetically-modified genes mixes with an organic farmer's crop, his corn can no longer be sold to organic We've been extremely concerned about pollen drift and says Robert Scowcroft, executive director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation.
Aventis CropScience declined comment.
By Bruce Culp, The Standard (St. Catharines Niagara), CRITIC November 22, 2000
Prof. E. Ann Clark of the University of Guelph was cited as saying during a presentation at St. Catharines Centennial Library Tuesday that government regulation of genetically engineered crops is inadequate and urges consumers to demand organic food.
Clark was cited as saying there has never been a full accounting of the harmful sideeffects to humans, or even a study on genetic pollution in the environment.
Clark was further cited as saying some 65 per cent of the food available on Canadian supermarket shelves has been altered genetically and most consumers aren't aware of it, and that a push by consumer and environmental We are playing with fire. We are doing stuff that we shouldn't be doing and we
Clark relayed the story of StarLink, a genetically altered variety of cow corn. This fall, the corn became an embarrassment to the biotech industry and food manufacturers.
Clark was quoted as saying, "It was really a blessing in disguise. It
By DAVID BARBOZA,
New York Times,
November 22, 2000
The Aventis Corporation said yesterday that a genetically altered protein unapproved for human consumption had been discovered in a variety of corn that could be headed toward the nation's food supply.
The announcement came just two months after Aventis acknowledged that StarLink, a variety of corn that contained the same genetically altered protein, had turned up in taco shells on grocery store shelves.
That discovery led Kraft Foods, a division of Philip Morris, to recall millions of taco shells and led to a number of smaller recalls and serious disruptions in the nation's grain supply system.
Aventis, the biotechnology giant that produced the protein, and the Garst Seed Company, which markets the seeds, said yesterday that they did not know why traces of the genetically altered protein had been found in a traditional variety of corn sold by Garst.
The companies also said they did not know whether corn made from those seeds had reached consumers.
But the discovery of the protein in a traditional variety of corn is certain to heighten concerns about the safety of genetically altered crops and the agriculture industry's ability to track the complicated mix of traditional and biotechnology crops from the field to the grocery store.
By Julie Vorman,
Tuesday November 21, 9:29 pm Eastern Time
WASHINGTON, Nov 21 (Reuters) The discovery that StarLink bio-corn contaminated another variety of corn in 1998 may be due to either drifting pollen in the field or careless handling of the seed, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Tuesday.
The worrisome new incident prompted the USDA to call a special meeting on Monday with department scientists, economists, policymakers as well as representatives of the U.S. food and grain industries.
Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign, for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
500 Wilbrod Street Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
tel. 613-565-8517 fax. 613-565-1596 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our website, http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html contains more information on genetic engineering as well as previous genetic engineering news items. Subscription fee to genetic engineering news is $35 (USD for those outside Canada) for 12 months, payable to "BanGEF" and mailed to the above address. Or see website for details.