9 December 2000

Table of Contents

GM cross-pollination creates more herbicide-resistant plants
International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources
URLs: Views from the Third World on GM crops.
Wrapping It Up: Pharming (NL) to Acquire ProBio(US)
BIOWATCH: Nestle: Hunger and GMO development propaganda
USA update: Farm exports dive
USDA says StarLink has "significant" impact on corn exports
Some Classic GM Farming Quotes
South African GM Industry Smears Organic Food in Press.
Right Wing Clique Behind Organic Attacks
UN FAO report exposes anti-organic propaganda.

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Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 12:10:06 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: "Glenda Lindsay"

GM cross-pollination creates more herbicide-resistant plants

Following the discovery in Canada earlier this year of triple-herbicide-resistant weeds in GM canola fields (ie weeds that through cross-pollination have become rsistant to to three different herbicides), the following news article, this time about GM beet, comes as no surprise....Which GM crop will be next?


Modified Beet Seed Dropped After Mistake

By Timm Kraegenow, UK Business Day 17th November 2000

LONDON: A German biotechnology company has unwittingly produced a genetically modified beet that is resistant to two of the most used herbicides.

The intention was to make the beet resistant to Liberty, a widely used herbicide. But cross-pollination from another trial rendered the beet resistant to Roundup, another leading herbicide.

The beet was produced by KWS Saat, which acts as a sub- contractor for Franco-German group Aventis Crop Sciences. The unchecked spread of herbicide-resistant plants could develop into a serious problem. The advantage of genetically modified plants – that only one herbicide is needed to keep them free of weeds – would dissappear. All the affected seed was withdrawn.

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Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 16:26:06 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: ekogaia
From: Mark Ritchie
From: Patrick Mulvany

International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources

WTO Activist Posted: 11/26/2000 By


Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2000 11:08:01 -0500 From: Patrick Mulvany

International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources (IU)

Update on Contact Group Negotiations

See for full details

In Switzerland, last week, a major threat appeared to the future availability of the economically vital seeds which are used to feed the world. Negotiations to keep these seeds in the public domain through the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, or IU for short, virtually collapsed and were only rescued at the 11th hour. The IU covers the major food crops in the world and aims to ensure the conservation, sustainable use and 'free flow' of their seeds so that they are "preserved… and freely available for use, for the benefit of present and future generations".

Four countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and US) in favour of WTO/TRIPs predominance are grinding the IU to dust. Despite the best efforts of the EU and G77 supported by Industry and CSOs, to keep negotiations alive, strong objections came from these 'foolish four' countries. The IU is the only international agreement that will ensure the free flow of the plant genetic resources for food an agriculture, ensure that benefits from their use are equitably shared with the farmers who developed these resources. It is being revised to bring it in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity, under the auspices of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture through a Contact Group of 41 countries, chaired by Venezuelan Ambassador Gerbasi.

Negotiations might have died, but for the energy and determination of a number of countries, encouraging Ambassador Gerbasi to continue. In his presentation to the FAO Council last Monday, (20 November 2000) he said:

"I am convinced that if the political will exists, and it has to exist, this should be shown in a concrete and incontrovertible way. I am convinced that only ourselves, representatives of the agricultural sector, can find the appropriate solutions to the problems and aspirations of the agriculture sector. We also have to proceed rapidly. The only way to conclude our negotiations relatively rapidly will be through political commitment to conclude by a fixed date, not subject to more changes. Because of this, those countries that participate in the negotiation process need to send delegations at a sufficiently high political level that allows them to take decisions at the negotiating table itself."

Negotiations will continue in the New Year but there are a number of issues that need to be tackled, including the IPR-free status of all these seeds and the genes they contain; precisely which crops will be included in the IU; access to the resources, including the CGIAR genebanks; benefit sharing from the commercial use of the resources; and the financial package that will support work on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA) in the future – especially through the implementation of the Leipzig Global Plan of Action.

Finally, the FAO will have to decide on the legal status of the IU. As reported at the Convention on Biological Diversity's meeting in May 2000 "The International Undertaking is envisaged to play a crucial role in the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Conference of the Parties affirms its willingness to consider a decision by the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations that the International Undertaking become a legally binding instrument with strong links to both the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Convention on Biological Diversity, and calls upon Parties to coordinate their positions in both forums (Decisions V/5, para 12 and V/26 para 8)"

ITDG has formulated 6 demands for CSO actions: Civil Society Organisations Must Take A Clear Position In The Final Stages Of The Iu Negotiations:

  1. Clear political commitment to complete the IU negotiations and its subsequent implementation

  2. The IU to be the predominant international agreement on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) –- and as such to influence interpretation of WTO rules, where these conflict

  3. The exemption of PGRFA from all forms of intellectual property rights - meaning not only the intact material, but also the germplasm and genes it contains – once the IU comes into force

  4. An internationally-enforced obligation to implement Farmers' Rights in all countries

  5. Access arrangements to cover all the varieties of all the crops covered by the IU including those on farms, in research institutes, public and private collections &c,

  6. Legally-binding benefit-sharing from the use of any resources that are currently privatised, and a direct consumer-producer link through contributions from the food industry (From ITDG Briefing Paper, October 2000)

Future food supplies will be under threat unless the talks succeed. Increasing political pressure in all relevant departments – Agriculture, Environment, Trade, International Development, is essential for success in these negotiations.

Full information on the UKabc website, see

Patrick Mulvany

Warm regards


Patrick Mulvany
Food Security Policy Adviser
ITDG, Schumacher Centre, Bourton, RUGBY, CV23 9QZ, UK
Tel: +44 1788 661169 (O)    Tel: +44 1788 578958 (H)    Mobile/SMS: +44 7949 575711
Fax: +44 870 127 5420    Email:    &   URL:
Company Reg. No 871954, England    Charity No 247257

Forwarded by:
Mark Ritchie, President
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Ave. South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404 USA
612-870-3400 (phone)    612-870-4846 (fax)

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Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000 15:34:36 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: "taynton"

If anyone can add or help me update this data-base please e mail Thanks, Andrew.

URLs: Views from the Third World on GM crops.

Views from the Third World on GM crops:
Operation "Cremate Monsanto"
Some views of scientists concerning GM food and crops...

Views from the Third World on GM crops:

Article: "LET NATURE'S HARVEST CONTINUE" Statement from all the African delegates (except South Africa) to FAO negotiations on the International Undertaking for Plant Genetic Resources, June 1998. Original:

Operation "Cremate Monsanto"

Professor Nanjundaswamy, Karnataka State Farmers Association, India

GM Third World Warning (BBC News)

Third World rejects GM (Independent)

USDA Pushing Gene Foods On Third World By Devinder Sharma, Pakistan Observer The Third World Network (see their Biotechnology and Biosafety page)

The World Development Movement

Selling Suicide: farming, false promises and genetic engineering in developing countries Christian Aid Report

Genetic Engineering: Can it Feed the World? GeneWatch Briefing

Feeding the World? Jules Pretty examines the myths and realities of sustainable farming's quiet revolution

GM Crops could devastate the Third World. A World Development Movement Report Christian Aid (See their Biotechnology Policy Briefing)

Corner House Briefing 10 on Genetic Engineering and World Hunger

RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation International)

Some views of scientists concerning GM food and crops...

Open Letter from World Scientists to All Governments

Letter on GM from Physicians and Scientists to the US Government

Statements on the safety of GM foods by scientists

Genetically Engineered Food Safety Problems (Physicians and Scientist for Responsible Attitudes to Science and Technology) [This site has obtained "The StudyWeb" Academic Excellence award]

The Union of Concerned Scientists (USA. See their Agriculture and Biotechnology sections)

Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of Science and Technology

The Council for Responsible Genetics

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Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000 08:33:11 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: "Glenda Lindsay"

Wrapping It Up: Pharming (NL) to Acquire ProBio(US)

LEIDEN, Netherlands, and HONOLULU, Nov 28, 2000 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/

-- Pharming Group N.V. (Easdaq: PHAR; Amsterdam) ("Pharming") and ProBio, Inc. ("ProBio"), announced the acquisition by Pharming of ProBio, a US-based provider of intellectual property rights to key nuclear transfer, transgenic and reproductive technologies.

The acquisition will not only result in a substantial expansion of Pharming's leading technology position in the transgenic industry, but the licensing conditions of the new technology portfolio also ensure a continuous influx of future technology developments. This will enable Pharming to further develop and extend its biopharmaceutical product portfolio.

Through acquiring ProBio, Pharming will obtain control of a number of important technologies that, because of the strong synergy between the two intellectual property (IP) portfolios, both complement and extend the company's existing IP and technology position. Furthermore, ProBio has developed an active out-licensing program for its nuclear transfer, sperm- mediated transgenesis and sperm dry-freezing technologies. A unique feature of this program is the fact that ProBio (Pharming) retains the rights to technological improvements generated by the licensees.

Just recently, ProBio entered into a distribution agreement with Eppendorf Scientific, Inc., the US-based supplier of specialist equipment used in nuclear transfer and microinjection procedures, manufactured by Eppendorf AG, Germany. Because of Eppendorf Scientific's extensive customer network in the North American market, this deal ensures a broad distribution of ProBio's (and Pharming's) IP rights –- for applications outside Pharming's core business –- which will lead to a substantial flow-back of technology improvements. It is this flow-back that will allow Pharming to enhance its technology and IP position on a continuous basis.

George J.M. Hersbach, Pharming's President and Chief Executive Officer, comments on the deal: "We are committed to the development of innovative biopharmaceuticals to meet major unmet medical needs of patients suffering from critical diseases. Innovative therapies necessitate the access to and use of cutting edge technologies. This acquisition allows us to improve and expand our technology position on a continuous basis, which will strongly support our product-oriented research and development efforts."

According to Laith Reynolds, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ProBio, this deal provides exciting opportunities. "I am delighted to be joining Pharming with this agreement," he said. "We have already identified enormous opportunities in getting additional value from Pharming's IP and technology portfolio, which is strongly synergistic to ours. We are at present in discussions to obtain such value and can see many opportunities to enlarge on this in the future."

For the acquisition of ProBio, Pharming will issue ordinary shares for an amount of US$4million. The acquisition is conditional upon Pharming raising funds for a similar amount to support ProBio's operational expenses in the first years. ProBio's major shareholders (holding more than 75% ProBio shares) have agreed to a lock-up of 12 months.

In addition, milestone payments of up to US $4 million in total will be made in new Pharming shares to ProBio shareholders over the next two years, dependent on ProBio achieving several clearly defined commercial and technical milestones.

Pharming and ProBio expect the transaction to be completed as soon as possible.

ABN AMRO acts as financial advisor to Pharming for this acquisition.

Pharming focuses on the development, production and commercialization of human therapeutic proteins to be used in highly innovative therapies. Pharming has developed a proprietary production platform of transgenic animals, capable of producing human therapeutic proteins at high levels in their milk.

Pharming's product portfolio is aimed at treatments for genetic disorders, blood-related disorders, infectious and inflammatory diseases, tissue and bone damage, and surgical and traumatic bleeding. Pharming has operations in Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands and the USA and currently employs more than 200 people. For more information:

ProBio Inc. is a provider of advanced animal reproductive, modification and associated technologies for use in agriculture and medicine. ProBio markets and licenses a portfolio of synergistic intellectual property in the area of nuclear transfer, assisted sexual and asexual reproduction, gene transfer and genome storage.

By taking the role of both provider and discovery agent of IP that is currently under-exploited or not exploited, ProBio provides a return for the originators of the technology and to those wishing to use it in a mutually advantageous way. Additionally, its commercial arrangements allow the company to take full benefit of extensions and adaptations of the technology under its control. For more information:

SOURCE Pharming Group N.V.

Media: Rob Meines of PraaningMeines Consultancy Group (The Netherlands), +31 71 5247 429;
or Investors: Eva Lindner of First Financial Communications (The Netherlands), +31 20 5754 023,
or Barry de Reuver of ABN AMRO (The Netherlands), +31 20 3830 866, all for Pharming Group;
or Guy Innes, Chief Financial Officer (United Kingdom) +44 1732 455 991,
or Laith Reynolds, Chairman and CEO (Australia), +61 8 9293 4133, both of ProBio

(C) 2000 PR Newswire. All rights reserved.

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Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000 16:19:36 +0200
From: "taynton"
From: Biotech-Mod1

BIOWATCH: Nestle: Hunger and GMO development propaganda

By Michel FERRY, Directeur scientifique
Station de Recherche sur le Palmier Dattier
et les Systèmes de Production en Zones Arides
Apartado 996, 03201 ELCHE , Espagne
tél: 34.965421551     fax: 34.965423706     e-mail:

The Chief Executive Officer of Nestle has declared very recently that the refusal of GMOs by Europeans was an egoist position. By its position of refusal, Europe would not assume, according to him, its responsibility to fight against hunger (Agence France Presse, 27/11/2000). From a company that has been accused of being responsible for millions of deaths with its propaganda for powder milk instead of breast milk, this statement has something very indecent. But, it constitutes also another clear example of the perverse and indecent use of the hunger in the world by the private companies for their GMO development propaganda.

Concerning hunger in the world, my global impression, after all the exchanges that we have had here in this conference, is that no biotechnologist till now has been able to demonstrate the necessity and adaptability of GMO to fight against hunger.

Michel FERRY

Andrew Taynton, SAFE FOOD COALITION (South Africa) in association with THE NATURAL LAW PARTY
tel: 031-763 2634, Cell 083 662 0411, e-mail:


  1. 50 harmful effects of GM food:

  2. 576 world scientists call for withdrawal of GM foods, see both: and

  3. Excellent, easy to follow web tutorial on GM debate:

  4. GM crops will not benefit farmers.

  5. GM crops will NOT solve world hunger say scientists:

  6. Deutsche Bank predicts GM food industry will collapse:

  7. Risky Growth Hormone milk sold in South Africa:

  8. Feed humanity using safe sustainable organic agriculture: (Export opportunities) hppt//

  9. Farming in Tune with Natural Law. Procedures of Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture:

  10. Eliminating world poverty:

CALL FOR A FREEZE ON GM FOODS & GM CROPS IN SOUTH AFRICA: Tel 021-761 0549 or e-mail ***********************************************************************

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Date: Fri, 1 Dec 2000 09:51:35 EST
Originated from: Sender:

USA update: Farm exports dive

Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),

In 1999 US corn exports to Europe dropped by 96% because the US could not provide non-GM corn – now they are suffering worldwide with the lowest weekly corn export level so far this marketing year with the South Korean government amongst others refusing to buy U.S. corn shipments – see below.

The article below has USDA's comments

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Date: Fri, 1 Dec 2000 09:51:35 EST
Originated from: Sender:

USDA says StarLink has "significant" impact on corn exports

Reuters, Thursday November 30, 10:36 am Eastern Time

WASHINGTON, Nov 30 (Reuters) – Worries among foreign buyers about the impact on American corn exports, a senior U.S. Agriculture Department official said on Thursday. said Tim Galvin, administrator of the USDA's 'd say a significant one at this point because that is a rather low number at this point in the year. I think

Galvin was referring to the USDA's weekly export sales data, issued earlier Thursday, that showed net sales of U.S. corn stood at 438,800 tonnes for the latest week. That is the lowest weekly corn export level since the 2000/01 marketing year began on Sept. 1.

Galvin also said USDA officials were continuing discussions with the South Korean government, which has refused to buy U.S. corn shipments that might be tainted with StarLink.

StarLink, a variety of gene-altered corn made by Aventis SA , has not been approved for human food use, but has turned up in a variety of chips, taco shells and other foods. StarLink has a special gene inserted into it to help the young corn plant fight destructive pests.

Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Fri, 1 Dec 2000 09:51:35 EST
Originated from: Sender:

Some Classic GM Farming Quotes

"The agribusiness strategy on GMOs... is threatening our export markets at a time when we can't afford any further downward pressure on price."

Presentation: Dan McGuire, American Corn Growers Association, Annual Convention, February 4, 2000

"I've been a seed dealer for Monsanto for 18 years and this is the year we are going to have to part ways. They've forgotten that they have to serve farmers. I don't think they care who we've got to grow for. They're just concerned with making a fast buck."

Steve Mattis, an Illinois farmer and seed dealer, February 18, 2000

"The only farmers making any money off GMOs have been those who are growing non-GMO stuff and can prove it."

Linda Edwards, a Canadian farmer, November 27, 2000

"In Iowa, StarLink corn represented 1 percent of the total crop, only 1 percent. It has tainted 50 percent of the harvest."

ABC NEWS November 28, 2000

"The only truly safe seed selection will be seed corn free of any genetic modification"

A.E. Staley Manufacturing Co. in a letter to 1,200 of its corn suppliers, November 2000

"Aventis CropScience Wednesday was at a loss to explain why another variety of corn besides its StarLink brand is producing the Cry9C protein."

United Press International November 22, 2000

"We have not yet seen GM wheat. If we did, we would be seeing the same problems in those consumer products."

Analyst Dale Gustafson of Salomon Smith Barney

"GM organisms have become the albatross around the neck of farmers"
Gary Goldberg, American Corn Growers Association

for more like this:

'Work in such a way that you resist the temptations of a productivity and profit that are detrimental to the respect for nature... When you forget this principle, becoming tyrants and not custodians of the Earth, sooner or later the Earth rebels.'

- Pope John Paul II: Nov, 2000

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Date: Wed, 06 Dec 2000 13:23:29 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: "taynton"

South African GM Industry Smears Organic Food in Press.

In the UK and USA the GM industry tried a sustained smear campaign on organic food in exactly the same way.

Here is an excellent web site on the overseas organic food smear campaign and information to counter it.

Please keep me informed of any "ORGANIC ATTACKS" you see in the press. Please forward me: 1) The Report 2) Pulication 3) Date 4) "Letters to the editor"'s e-mail address.


Below is an article in todays Business Day.

Slugging It Out At The Compost Pile

By Louise Cook Business Day 1st Edition Wednesday 06 December 2000

ORGANIC farming in SA is still a free-for-all, with no laws that govern safety or quality, says the agriculture department's spokesman on product standards control, Daniel Matlala.

But consumer awareness about food is increasing worldwide, including in SA. Next year government will put in place legislation to govern the safety of organic products, which are sold mostly by upmarket stores such as Woolworths. Interest groups have already responded to the first draft regulations, which were published two months ago. Woolworths spokesman on research and development Phil Hartmann says his company has adopted a policy of selling only products that have been certified to be safe. Why the fuss? In most people's minds, organically produced food is automatically safe because synthetic chemicals are not used in production.

Only natural pesticides and herbicides are used in organic farming, as opposed to a range of chemicals tested for safety used in conventional farming. Jocelyn Webster, director of Africa Bio, which promotes genetically modified food, begs to differ with organic safety claims. "The dangerous bacterium E.coli 0157H7 is abundant in manure," Webster says, pointing out that compost is the only fertiliser permitted for use in organic farming. "Deaths have resulted from contamination of both organic and conventionally produced food.

Even though it is thought that feeding grass or hay to cattle reduces E.coli contamination in faecal material, sheep and deer feed only on grass and do contaminate water and food with these bacteria," she says. In view of SA's lack of official controls over organic food production, bodies like the British Soil Association operate in the country to certify that organic farms stick to the rules and practice quality control. Webster says minerals that leave an organic farm as sold produce must be replaced by minerals generated only within the farm itself.

"Mineral budgets of organic farms commonly reveal net deficits of certain minerals more goes out than comes in." Hartmann, however, disputes the claim that organic yields are lower than conventional yields. "That is true in some cases but, depending on the farming operation, yields can in fact be higher than on a conventional farm. "The main thing about organic farming is to build up the soil fertility to make it sustainable," he says. "The philosophy that guides organic farming is to introduce friendly environmental systems, reduce pollution and indulge in ethically justifiable practices concerning the land and the animals."

Hartmann says conventional farming, on the other hand, tends to "exploit" these. But is there a place for this type of farming and the more costly products it generates in a developing country like SA? "The organic food price is a major danger," says Webster. "Organic food is more expensive because of its negative attitude towards technology." A diet high in fruit and vegetables, she argues, cuts cancer rates for those younger than 65 by half. "Increasing the price of these health-giving foods will reduce consumption, particularly in poorer families. It will simply push up the death rate and medical bills. "We live much longer and healthier thanks to cheap, conventional food. More people now live well over 100 years."

Hartmann concedes that organic products carry a premium, but says because more and more farmers in Europe have adopted organic farming, the premium there has come down. No comparative figures are available, he says, as these depend on the individual products. Webster says the best way ahead is probably to work out a symbiosis between the two farming systems. Organic farmers, she says, strongly oppose biotechnology where the genes of one species are transferred to another to boost specific traits. The genetically modified food resulting from these operations is seen as "Frankenstein food" by purists like organic farmers.

Comparing organic farming with conventional farming, which operates purely for economic goals, is misleading. A choice can be made to have agriculture with low yields or to farm sections with much higher yields and set aside the surplus land to forest, woodland or nature, Webster says. "On every economic, environmental and biodiversity criterion, this form of modern agriculture with good practices outscores others like organic farming." Organic farming makes up a small percentage of world food production, amounting to about 15bn a year. In SA, the farming practice is on the increase.

Andrew Taynton, SAFE FOOD COALITION (South Africa) in association with THE NATURAL LAW PARTY
tel: 031-763 2634, Cell 083 662 0411, e-mail:


Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Sat, 09 Dec 2000 13:14:20 +0200
From: Biowatch: "taynton"

Right Wing Clique Behind Organic Attacks

In the wake of the massive defeats suffered over their promotion of GM foods, pro-GM lobbyists in the UK have regrouped and with the help of a clique of right wing journalists and academics are coordinating a still more aggressive campaign of disinformation.

BBC coverage well illustrates what's been going on. Three very recent BBC programmes have given prominence to extreme anti-organic views ('Costing the Earth', 'Counterblast', and, to a much lesser extent, the 'Food and Drink' programme).

It appears that a strategy proven effective in the US is being carefully replicated here: the use of right wing journalists and academics to smear GM critics and alternatives to agricultural biotechnology. In the US figures like Dennis Avery, Michael Fumento and Henry Miller have helped fulfil this role. In the UK significant use is now being made of a similar clique of extreme anti-environmentalists who draw heavily on the ideas and tactics of Avery, in particular.

A key contributor to each of the BBC programmes raising questions about organic food has been Julian Morris, the Director of the right-wing think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs. One of the programmes ('Counterblast' broadcast on BBC 2 TV on 31 January 2000) was presented by Roger Bate who was said to be the Director of the European Science and Environment Forum. Although the Forum describes itself as "a non-partisan group of scientists", in reality it appears to be highly partisan and very closely linked to the Institute of Economic Affairs, of which Bate is a leading member. Bate is also linked to right wing groups in the US.

Although this fact was not disclosed at any point in the programme, several other contributors to the Counterblast programme (notably Prof Phillip Stott and the journalist Richard North) also seem to be associated with the same IEA-connected right wing clique.

Both the Forum and the Institute are vague about their current sources of funding. Equivalent right wing think tanks in the US, such as the Hudson Institute, are known to receive funding from the usual A-Z of biotech interests: from AgrEvo to Zeneca. Whatever its current funding, the IEA has since its inception had good reason to have the interests of industrial agriculture very close to its heart.

The Institute was started in the 1950s by one Anthony Fisher out of a fortune he had made from industrial agriculture. Fisher had successfully founded Britain's very first broiler chicken farm. It is perhaps not so surprising then that, having been established by a pioneer of factory farming who was also an extreme free marketeer, the Institute promotes the view that unregulated industrial agriculture and unfettered free trade are both of great environmental benefit.This is a somewhat extreme perspective for an organisation based in a country like the UK where in the period of the Institute's existence more than 30 million wild birds have been lost, more than 100,000 miles of hedgerows removed, woodlands cut down and flower meadows ploughed up, all as a result of industrial agriculture. The idea that this situation would somehow be improved by unfettered free trade and direct competition with the huge industrial farms of North America also seems a pretty doubtful proposition!

The Institute's extremist disdain of any protection of the environemnt is well reflected in its various publications and, needless to say, the pro-GM lobby are prominent amongst its published authors. For instance, a book on tropical rainforests by biotech supporter and Counterblast contributor Prof Phillip Stott, claims to debunk "the eco-imperialist vision" which threatens the world, while a pending working paper attacking the Biosafety Protocol is being authored by none other than Henry Miller, the rabid deregulator who once presided over the FDA's Office of biotechnology. Biotech propagandist CS Prakash, who organised the recent petition among US researchers in support of GM foods, is another contributor to an IEA publication and has more recently spoken from an IEA platform.

Bate and Morris have also edited a recently-published book, 'Fearing Food: Risk, Health and the Environment', amongst whose contributors is Dennis Avery. Avery, of the Hudson Institute, has of course been at the very heart of the anti-organic smear campaign – see: Saving the Planet With Pestilent Statistics

Bate and Morris, needless to say, appear entirely unembarrased by the dubious quality of Avery's scholarship or the bogus nature of his claims - claims from which the US's Centre for Disease Control and the FDA have both disassociated themselves, despite the fact that Avery says that it is their data on which his health warnings about organic agriculture are based!

Bate and Morris, far from disassociating themselves from Avery's smears, have revelled in his assertions – not just repeating them in the various BBC programmes they've contributed to but even using his bogus e-coli claims in a publicity stunt to launch their book. According to right wing columnist Matt Ridley of the Telegraph, part of the stunt involved telling people that "according to the United States Centers for Disease Control, people who eat the products of...[organic agriculture] are eight times more likely to contract the strain of E-coli that killed 21 people in Lanarkshire in 1997" ['Unsavoury facts about organic food' August 16, 1999] This despite the fact that, as Bate and Morris must surely know, the CDC has stated, "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not conducted any study that compares or quantitates the specific risk for infection with E. coli 0157:H7 and eating either conventionally grown or organic/natural foods." [see: Saving the Planet With Pestilent Statistics ]

In a press release ('Londoners demand regulation of potentially deadly organic food') to accompany the book's launch, and their organics-are-dangerous-survey stunt, Bate and Morris wrote, "organic food may well present a danger to children, the elderly and the sick... such people should be discouraged from eating so-called 'organic' or 'natural' foods." The underlying antipathy of Bate and Morris to organic farming, and the real reason for their concerns, is best captured in an article on The European Science and Environment Forum website which refers to organics as "a mainstay of the Luddites these past decades and... a staple of the anti-GM battle."

It is obviously no surprise that the likes of Matt Ridley (another associate of the IEA clique, with 2 volumes of his anti-environmentalist articles amongst the Institute's publications) should be pleased to publicise the IEA's disinformation campaign. What is more revealing is the way in which the BBC's science and technology unit and senior academics like Prof Hillman or Prof Anthony Trewavas, another contributor to Counterblast, have apparently been happy to promote such views without serious critical scrutiny of the evidence on which they are based.

Prof Trewavas, for example, has made repeated reference to Avery's claims, as made in Avery's chapter in the Morris' and Bate's book, in an article published in the scientific journal Nature (Nature 402, 231 [1999]). Thus, Prof Trewavas tells us:

"Going organic worldwide, as Greenpeace wants, would destroy even more wilderness, much of it of marginal agricultural quality15."

"Mycotoxin contamination, and infection from the potentially lethal Escherichia coli O157, are additional problems15."

"average crop yields [for organics] on a variety of soils are about half those of intensive farming15-17"

Avery's chapter is the reference (15) given for all three points: "15. Avery, D. in Fearing Food. Risk, Health and Environment (eds Morris, J. & Bate, R.) 3-18 (Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 1999)" However, anyone who actually follows up this reference discovers that all Avery's highly partisan claims about organic agriculture lack specific references to supporting evidence. In other words, Trewavas's trail of evidence leads nowhere but to Avery's assertions!

Nothing could expose more starkly the bogus nature of the biotech brigade's claims to base their promotion of GM crops on sound science, nor the vacuous nature of their complaints against Pusztai, and other researchers that have raised questions about GM crops, not to mention their fury with journals that have published such papers.

If such scientists are really so passionate about "sound science" as they claim, why haven't they been busy denouncing the bogus claims of Avery and his admirers (claims, after all, that seem to involve a far more outrageous treatment of research evidence than anything of which scientists critical of GM have been accused) ?

The answer, of course, is all too plain. They've either been too busy repeating these bogus claims themselves and trying to lend them credibility, or else they recognise that as these claims forward rather than hinder their own interests it is better to remain silent and not enquire too deeply into them. Either way, we once again pay the price of science having become so industrially aligned that many of its practitioners are preoccupied far more with serving private interests than with the public good.

The Bate and Morris book also contains a chapter on GM by Prof John Hillman, who has also engaged in highly dubious public criticism of organic agriculture (see: Professor Hillman and his associates! and FIRST THEY TRIED TO MISLEAD US OVER GM – NOW IT'S ORGANIC ) One of Hillman's co-author is none other than Professor T Michael Wilson, whose highly inaccurate public promotion of GM has also drawn criticism – see false reports . Wilson and Hillman's chapter contains very similar claims of benefits from GM to the ones which have already come under fire for their lack of substantiation – see false reports .

Hillman and Wilson actually describe these claims as "now proven," though they produce no new evidence in support of this, and to cap it all, Wilson and Hillman end their chapter with a prolonged rant about "disinformation." That Hillman who has made the most lurid claims in relation to organic farming (see: FIRST THEY TRIED TO MISLEAD US OVER GM – NOW IT'S ORGANIC ) can complain, as he and his co-authors do, without any apparent sense of irony, about those "who raise speculative risks" and "promote public fear", or that he and Wilson can complain about "media disinformation" (see: false reports ) is quite remarkable.

And yet there is something peculiarly fitting about these GM zealots having found such a comfortable home among the radical right, not only in the light of the latter's passion for unbridled capitalism and antipathy to environmental protection, but also a tendency to "contrarian" assertion of causes that are often ludicrous, lost, or even downright dangerous.

Andrew Taynton, SAFE FOOD COALITION (South Africa) in association with THE NATURAL LAW PARTY
tel: 031-763 2634, Cell 083 662 0411, e-mail:

Counter the "ORGANIC FOOD ATTACK" by the GM food industry with:

Top PreviousFront Page
Date: Sat, 09 Dec 2000 14:27:15 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: "taynton"

UN FAO report exposes anti-organic propaganda.

While GM proponents continue to smear organic farming, a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report in July of this year concluded that organic practices can actually reduce e-coli infection that causes food poisoning (the exact opposite of GM proponent claims) and also reduce the levels of contaminants in foods. The Food and Agriculture Organisation is the largest autonomous agency within the United Nations.

Here are some excerpts from the report "FOOD SAFETY AND QUALITY AS AFFECTED BY ORGANIC FARMING"

The full FAO report is available for download as a Word document from:

Organic farming potentially reduces the risk of E. coli infection
"The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) identifies the main source for human infection with E. coli as meat contaminated during slaughter. Virulent strains of E. coli, such as E. coli 0157:H7, develop in the digestive tract of cattle, which is mainly fed with starchy grain as research at Cornell University has demonstrated . Cows mainly fed with hay generate less than 1 % of the E. coli found in the faeces of grain-fed animals. It is one of the most important goals of organic farming to keep the nutrient cycles closed. Therefore, ruminants like cattle and sheep are fed with diets with a high proportion of grass, silage and hay. It can be concluded that organic farming potentially reduces the risk of E. coli infection."

Organic agriculture contributes to cleaner drinking water and to higher weed, insect and bird diversity
"The understanding of food quality has been expanded beyond mere definition by chemical content, technical characteristics for processing and storage, appearance and taste. Particularly in organic agriculture, but not exclusively so, other considerations like ethical values and production principles (environmental impact such as energy efficiency, non-pollution, animal welfare, aim for sustainability and social impact) are gaining weight as integral product values.

In this context, organic agriculture's contribution to cleaner drinking water, e.g. in Lithuania's Karst regions, UK's environmentally sensitive areas and Germany's water protection areas, and to higher weed, insect and bird diversity or general environmental quality are positive values that are appreciated by consumers. Quality issues are receiving increasingly more attention in the public debate..."

Organic farming enhances genetic biodiversity and helps recover indigenous crop varieties
"Organic farming enhances genetic biodiversity including organisms living in the soil, wild life, wild flora and cultivated crops. Organic agriculture practices recover indigenous crop varieties and regenerate landraces with distinct quality characteristics..."

Organically produced foods have lower levels of pesticide and veterinary drug residues
"The "organic" label is not a health claim, it is a process claim. Nevertheless, in view of the reduced use of chemically synthesised inputs in organic farming, many studies have been carried out to investigate safety and quality implications of the production system. It has been demonstrated that organically produced foods have lower levels of pesticide and veterinary drug residues and, in many cases, lower nitrate contents.

Animal feeding practices followed in organic livestock production, also lead to a reduction in contamination of food products of animal origin. In addition, the "organic" label provides assurance to consumers that no food ingredient has been subject to irradiation and that GMOs have been excluded."

Organic milk less contaminated
"Two studies reported by Woess found that aflatoxin M1 levels in organic milk were lower than in conventional milk. This points to shortcomings in animal feeding practices in conventionally raised livestock... As organically raised livestock are fed greater proportions of hay, grass and silage, there is reduced opportunity for mycotoxin contaminated feed to lead to mycotoxin contaminated milk."

Organic farming good for sustainable agriculture
"Considering the potential environmental benefit of organic production, its suitability for the integrative role of agriculture in rural development and its aptness to current farming input and production levels in many CEE and CIS countries, organic agriculture should be considered as a development vehicle in the sub-region. The FAO Committee on Agriculture agreed in 1999 that properly managed organic farming contributes to sustainable agriculture and therefore organic agriculture has a legitimate place within sustainable agriculture programmes."

Andrew Taynton, SAFE FOOD COALITION (South Africa) in association with THE NATURAL LAW PARTY
tel: 031-763 2634, Cell 083 662 0411, e-mail:

Counter the "ORGANIC FOOD ATTACK" by the GM food industry with: