18 December 2000

Table of Contents

The Top 200; Who is in Charge?
The Myth of HIPC debt relief
CSIR (S.Africa) strikes bioprospecting deal with Diversa
Shameless GM vitaman A fraud.
The wealth of Nature; Indian Seed Prayer
Concern over Proposed Planting of GM Sugarcane in KZN (Natal)
Catholic Church calls for a moratorium on genetically engineered foods and crops
BIOWATCH: RAFI Geno-type: Calendar of Calamities 2000

Top NextFront Page
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000 15:09:15 +0200
From: ekogaia

I pass on this information about a very interesting 17 page study by the Institute of Policy Studies regarding corporate and national economic power. There is a link to a pdf file that will give you the full report otherwise follow the instructions to recieve an email report.



According to study co-author Sarah Anderson, "The Seattle protestors expressed their anger at institutions like the WTO for elevating the interests of large corporations over everyone else. We analysed just how powerful the world's biggest firms are and our findings are staggering. "

To receive a paper or email version, contact Sarah Anderson, tel: 202/234-9382 or email:

The Top 200; Who is in Charge?

"Top 200" Report in Adobe Acrobat Format at:

Study on Corporate Power
Key Findings

Research Institute Releases Study on Corporate Power on 1st Anniversary of Seattle Protests

Study Reinforces Public Distrust of Corporations

View Report (Adobe Acrobat format)

On the first anniversary of the Seattle protests that shut down negotiations of the World Trade Organization, the Institute for Policy Studies is releasing a study that shows:

Of the world's 100 largest economic entities, 51 are now corporations and 49 are countries;

The world's top 200 corporations account for over a quarter of economic activity on the globe while employing less than one percent of its workforce.

According to study co-author Sarah Anderson, "The Seattle protestors expressed their anger at institutions like the WTO for elevating the interests of large corporations over everyone else. We analyzed just how powerful the world's biggest firms are and our findings are staggering."

Other key findings include:

The Top 200 corporations' combined sales are bigger than the combined economies of all countries minus the biggest 10. –The Top 200s' combined sales are 18 times the size of the combined annual income of the 1.2 billion people (24 percent of the total world population) living in "severe" poverty.

Between 1983 and 1999, the profits of the Top 200 firms grew 362.4 percent, while the number of people they employ grew by only 14.4 percent.

A full 5 percent of the Top 200s' combined workforce is employed by Wal-Mart, a company notorious for union-busting and widespread use of part-time workers to avoid paying benefits.

U.S. corporations dominate the Top 200, with 82 slots (41 percent of the total). Japanese firms are second, with only 41 slots.

Of the U.S.corporations on the list, 44 did not pay the full standard 35 percent federal corporate tax rate during the period 1996-1998. Seven of the firms (including the world's largest, General Motors) actually paid less than zero in federal income taxes in 1998 (because of rebates).

Between 1983 and 1999, the share of total sales of the Top 200 made up by service sector corporations increased from 33.8 percent to 46.7 percent.

To receive a paper or email version, contact Sarah Anderson, tel: 202/234-9382 or email:





Table 1. Changing Profile of the Top 200 (1983-1999)
Table 2. Top 100 Economies (1999)
Table 3. Top 200 (1999)

About the authors Sarah Anderson is the Director of the Global Economy Project of the Institute for Policy Studies and the co-author (with John Cavanagh and Thea Lee) of Field Guide to the Global Economy (New Press, 2000) John Cavanagh is the Director of IPS and a former international economist at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Develop-ment.

Key Findings

  1. Of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations; only 49 are countries (based on a comparison of corporate sales and country GDPs).

  2. The Top 200 corporations' sales are growing at a faster rate than overall global economic activity. Between 1983 and 1999, their combined sales grew from the equivalent of 25.0 percent to 27.5 percent of World GDP.

  3. The Top 200 corporations' combined sales are bigger than the combined economies of all countries minus the biggest 10.

  4. The Top 200s' combined sales are 18 times the size of the combined annual income of the 1.2 billion people (24 percent of the total world population) living in "severe" poverty.

  5. While the sales of the Top 200 are the equivalent of 27.5 percent of world economic activity, they employ only 0.78 percent of the world's workforce.

  6. Between 1983 and 1999, the profits of the Top 200 firms grew 362.4 percent, while the number of people they employ grew by only 14.4 percent.

  7. A full 5 percent of the Top 200s' combined workforce is employed by Wal-Mart, a company notorious for union-busting and widespread use of part-time workers to avoid paying benefits. The discount retail giant is the top private employer in the world, with 1,140,000 workers- more than twice as many as No. 2, DaimlerChrysler, which employs 466,938.

  8. U.S. corporations dominate the Top 200, with 82 slots (41 percent of the total). Japanese firms are second, with only 41 slots.

  9. Of the U.S. corporations on the list, 44 did not pay the full standard 35 percent federal corpo-rate tax rate during the period 1996-1998. Seven of the firms actually paid less than zero in federal income taxes in 1998 (because of rebates). These include: Texaco, Chevron, PepsiCo, Enron, Worldcom, McKesson and the world's biggest corporation-General Motors.

  10. Between 1983 and 1999, the share of total sales of the Top 200 made up by service sector corporations increased from 33.8 percent to 46.7 percent. Gains were particularly evident in financial services and telecommunications sectors, in which most countries have pursued deregulation.


As citizen movements the world over launch activities to counter aspects of economic globaliza-tion, the growing power of private corporations is becoming a central issue. The main beneficia-ries of the market-opening policies of the major multilateral institutions over the past decade and a half are these large corporations, especially the top 200. This growing private power has enormous economic consequences, spelled out in this report. However, the greatest impact may be political, as corporations transform economic clout into political power. As a result, democracy is undermined. This threat deserves to be one of the major issues on the political agenda in the United States and overseas.

"All policymakers must be vigilant to the possibility of research data being manipulated by corporate bodies and of scientific colleagues being seduced by the material charms of industry. Trust is no defence against an aggressively deceptive corporate sector,"

THE LANCET, April 2000

"We should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society."

Albert Einstein May 1949

"When a butterfly flaps its wings in Africa, it can cause a hurricane in New York."

Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 15:02:46 +0200
From: ekogaia

Salih Booker is the Director of the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) in Washington, DC and The Africa Fund/American Committee on Africa in New York City.

The Myth of HIPC debt relief

by SALIH BOOKER, The Mail&Guardian, Johannesburg, December 12, 2000.

The case of Zambia has, perhaps more clearly than any other, laid bare the inadequacy of the World Bank and IMF debt relief initiatives

When the Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in early December to decide whether Zambia was eligible for relief on its massive external debt repayments, serious flaws were exposed in the existing debt relief framework. The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, the predominant international approach to debt relief, poses as a scheme to reduce the debt of the world’s most impoverished countries to “sustainableö levels.

In reality, it seeks to protect creditors by using formulas designed to extract the maximum possible in debt payments from the world’s poorest economies. With Zambia’s qualification to receive relief under this initiative, the Zambian government will actually be required to pay even more in annual debt service to creditors in coming years than it has to date. Zambia’s situation is not unique. In fact, it is an example that reveals much about the dynamics of Africa’s debt crisis and the fundamental flaws in the international response.

Last year, Zambia, one of the poorest countries in the world, paid $137 million in debt service to international creditors. In a country where over four-fifths of the population of 9.5 million live below the poverty line, and where the AIDS epidemic has reached massive proportions, debt service expenditure represents the single largest item in Zambia’s budget. Throughout Africa, governments are forced to pay more in servicing foreign debts than they do on the health or education of their own people. Even then, they are often unable to meet their repayment obligations.

The HIPC Initiative was touted as a scheme to ease the debt burden of the world’s most heavily indebted poor countries. Launched by the World Bank and IMF in 1996, it was intended to reduce debt service payment obligations and to prevent countries defaulting on outstanding loans. Neither the original nor the “enhancedö version of the HIPC Initiative, adopted at last year’s G-7 summit, has succeeded in easing the debt burden of impoverished countries. In fact, the complexities of the HIPC process, and the harsh structural adjustment programs that have accompanied the intervention of international creditors, have served to worsen the debt crisis and hamper the social and economic development of HIPC countries.

Zambia’s diligence in pursuing World Bank and IMF-led reforms has resulted in an increase in the poverty gap and the weakening of the country’s social services. Its debt burden has fundamentally undermined its efforts to tackle the HIV/AIDS crisis, and the numbers infected continue to rise above one million. Zambia has been forced to strain its resources to the limit in seeking to meet its huge debt service obligations. The current HIPC plan for Zambia may lower the total amount of debt owed, but it will actually increase payments in future years, because of old IMF loans which come due next year.

The IMF’s decision in early December to reschedule some of these payments will only postpone this “payment spikeö, and is a short sighted fix which will not solve Zambia’s debt crisis. According to the IMF’s own analysis, even after receiving HIPC relief Zambia’s debt will not reach “sustainable levelsö until 2005.

As other highly indebted countries struggle to meet the criteria for HIPC relief, it is time to face the facts. The case of Zambia has, perhaps more clearly than any other, laid bare the myth of HIPC debt relief. Even with the full application of the HIPC Initiative, Zambia’s debt crisis will not be lessened, its government will be no more able to address the national health emergency, its people will be no less tied in a cycle of deprivation.

On average, countries that receive HIPC relief see reductions of only about one third in their debt service payments. As Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations concluded in a September 2000 report, “the enhanced HIPC Initiative does not provide an adequate response to HIPCs’ debt problemsö, and therefore “a bolder approach will have to be takenö. The current debt relief framework has failed Zambia, just as it has failed other highly indebted poor countries across Africa and the global South.

As Africa’s debt service obligations grow each year, and as Africa’s people are forced to repay these debts by mortgaging their health, their education and their future, it is time to acknowledge that the cancellation of Africa’ s debts represents the only just solution. In a continent where the legitimacy of most external debts is highly questionable to begin with, where debt repayments have grown exponentially, and where the current debt relief framework has served only creditors, Africa has clearly paid more than enough already. Zambia’s plight is a microcosm of the African debt crisis. The cancellation of Zambia’s debts is the only rational response to the failure of the HIPC Initiative.

*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Feel free to distribute widely but PLEASE acknowledge the source. ***

Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 15:04:33 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: Rachel Wynberg

Significant news ...

CSIR = Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (South Africa)

CSIR (S.Africa) strikes bioprospecting deal with Diversa
© 1999-2000 Diversa Corporation. All rights reserved.

Diversa Signs First Agreement Granting Legal Access to Biodiversity in Africa

San Diego, CA, December 7, 2000 – Diversa Corporation (Nasdaq: DVSA) today announced the signing of a biodiversity access agreement giving the company rights to obtain environmental samples from South Africa, a region known for the diversity of its ecosytems. This diversity is exemplified by the Cape Floristic Region, which contains over 9,000 plant species, 70% of which are endemic to that region, making it one of the world’s most biologically diverse environments.

In addition, South Africa contains areas of extreme climatic diversity, ranging from deserts to semi-tropical jungles. Within these diverse regions, there are identified “hot spotsö, which are high in species richness, have a high concentration of endemic species and a high rate of habitat loss. By obtaining small samples from these sites, Diversa is expanding its broad and diverse microbial genomic libraries for the purpose of developing products for the pharmaceutical, agricultural, chemical processing, and industrial markets.

“As the industry leader in genomic discovery from the environment, Diversa is uniquely positioned to utilize the microbial genomic resources available in South Africa’s rich forests and grasslands to identify novel products,ö stated Jay M. Short, Ph.D., President and CEO of Diversa. “This agreement with South Africa marks another milestone for Diversa in expanding our global biodiversity network.ö

This latest agreement is part of Diversa’s global biodiversity access network, based on pioneering research collaborations, which grant legal biodiversity access to regions such as Alaska, Costa Rica, Bermuda, Indonesia, Yellowstone National Park, and Russia. This agreement gives Diversa the rights to discover genes and commercialize products from environmental samples provided by CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research), a research organization currently undertaking nearly 10% of all research and development activities on the African Continent. In exchange, Diversa will support the ongoing bioprospecting activities of the CSIR organization and its collaborators and pay royalties on Diversa’s revenues from any products developed from samples provided.

Diversa Corporation is a global leader in developing and applying proprietary technologies to discover and evolve novel genes and gene pathways from diverse environmental sources. Diversa is utilizing its fully integrated approach to develop novel enzymes and other biologically active compounds, such as small molecule drugs. Diversa's proprietary evolution technologies facilitate the optimization of genes found in nature to enable product solutions for the pharmaceutical, agricultural, chemical processing, and industrial markets. Within these broad markets, Diversa is targeting key multi-billion dollar market segments where the company believes its technologies and products will create high value and competitive advantages for strategic partners and customers. Diversa's strategic partners are market leaders and include The Dow Chemical Company, Novartis Seeds AG, Novartis Agribusiness Biotechnology Research, Inc., Aventis Animal Nutrition S.A., Celanese Ltd., Invitrogen Corporation, and Danisco Cultor.

Statements in this press release that are not strictly historical are “forward-lookingö and involve a high degree of risk and uncertainty. These include statements related to the discovery of genes, the utilization of South Africa’s genomic resources, the identification, development, and commercialization of products, and the characteristics of any compounds that may result from the company’s use of the samples, all of which are prospective. Such statements are only predictions, and the actual events or results may differ materially from those projected in such forward looking statements.

Factors that could cause or contribute to differences include, but are not limited to, risks involved with the company’s new and uncertain technologies, risks associated with the company’s dependence on patents and proprietary rights, risks associated with the company’s protection and enforcement of its patents and proprietary rights and the company’s dependence on existing strategic alliances and access to rights and technologies of third parties and the development or availability of competitive products or technologies. These factors and others are more fully described in the company’s Registration Statement on Form S-1, filed as of December 16, 1999, as amended. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof. The company expressly disclaims any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements.

Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 13:32:52 +0200
From: BIOWATCH: "taynton"
From: Red Porphyry

Shameless GM vitaman A fraud.


Proposals by the biotech industry to introduce a rice variety 'enriched' with vitamin A (to help those in developing countries suffering from vitamin A deficiency) have long been criticised for being symptom rather than cause related. This "let them eat rice" approach ignores the fact that the source of the problem is the narrow diet provided in such countries – a syndrome which has been added to by the advent of high-input systems of agriculture which encourage monocropping in developing countries.

Whilst it would be naive to expect a holistic analysis of the problem from the biotechnology industry, it is perhaps reasonable to assume that their approach might stand up to scrutiny at least in terms of their own limited logic. Further investigations are beginning to suggest, however, that the claimed benefits from this high-tec rice may in fact be a deliberate fraud. In other words the biotechnology industry already knows that the technology cannot deliver what its most vociferous advocates are claiming.

Earlier in the autumn Vandana Shiva produced a challenging article ("The Golden Rice" Hoax – see end of this message) which claimed that the technical projections of the genetic engineers could only achieve small amounts of vitamin A production in rice. These projections were so limited that to achieve adequate intake of the vitamin, consumption of nearly 2.3 kg of rice per head per day would be necessary – an approach which would lead to huge food supply deficits even if it were possible for individuals to consume such large quantities of rice (an average adult serving of rice is just 30 gm).

By contrast existing green leafy vegetables – many of which have been knocked out of diets by the introduction of pesticide-based crop monocultures in the developing world – are capable of providing vitamin A intake at vastly lower rates of consumption.

We have waited nearly two months for attempts from the biotech industry to shoot down Vandana Shiva's allegations to appear. No such response has come. However, (as will be seen by the message and further research below from Red Porphyry via ngin) Vandana Shiva's allegations do indeed seem to have uncovered another biotech industry fraud.

If this situation is confirmed then it exposes to an even greater depth than previously imagined possible the duplicitous lengths to which the biotechnology industry is prepared to cheat in order to foist this risk laden technology on humanity. The biotechnology industry claims that it is vital to rely on science rather than emotion in considering issues raised by genetic engineering. It seems, however, that it is they who are the biggest culprits when it comes to emotionally exploiting human suffering in order to promote bogus scientific claims and the industrial interests that lie behind them.

This appears to be a shameless situation. When the scientific community laments the continuing decline in the respect it receives from the rest of society, it would seem that it has only itself to blame.


Footnote: the 'list' Red Pophyry refers to in his report below is that run by AgBioWorld, a major web discussion group run by supporters of agricultural biotechnology – usually a guaranteed provider of rebutals to criticisms of the use of agricultural genetic engineering. 'RDA' refers to 'Recommended Daily Amount' (in this case, of vitamin A).

AGBIOVIEW: Rice of Doom Questions and Answers

From: Red Porphyry

A few days back I asked the members of the list four relatively simple questions regarding the vitamin A nutritional quality of golden rice. Since noone was able to publicly provide answers to them, I ended up checking into them myself. Here again are the questions I originally asked and what I was able to find (in brackets):

  1. Is the RDA for vitamin A in adult humans 750 micrograms or not? If not, what is the true RDA?

    [Shiva's claim that the RDA for vitamin A in adult humans is 750 micrograms is basically correct. The numbers I found give a range of between 700 and 1,000 micrograms]

  2. What is the RDA for vitamin A in human babies and small children (say, under the age of five)?

    [Shiva provided no number for this. The RDA for babies and small children is actually 375 micrograms.]

  3. Is the ultimate goal of Potrykus and co-workers to produce a strain of golden rice that produces at most 9.9 micrograms of provitamin A / 30 gm of rice (dry weight) or not? If not, what is the realistic maximum level of provitamin A /30 gm of rice (dry weight) that Potrykus and co-workers hope to achieve?

    [The answer to this appears to be yes. At some point in the future, golden rice ("golden-tinted rice" is actually the more accurate descriptor) is expected to ultimately provide a maximum of 9.9 micrograms of provitamin A /30 gm of rice (dry weight), which is an average adult serving. So, for adults, one serving of golden-tinted rice will provide a maximum of about 1.3% of the RDA of vitamin A. For babies and small children, one "adult-sized" serving of golden-tinted rice will provide a maximum of about 2.6% of the RDA of vitamin A. Assuming the only rice Asians eat from now on is golden-tinted rice, adult Asians can expect to obtain at best 4% of the RDA of vitamin A from golden-tinted rice, while Asian babies and small children can expect to obtain at best 8% of the RDA of vitamin A from golden-tinted rice.]

  4. Given whatever the answers are to 1), 2) and 3), does golden rice provide a viable solution to the problem of vitamin A deficiency for humans in Asia or not? If not, are there any viable alternatives?

    [The answer, unfortunately, is basically no. Golden-tinted rice is not, nor is it likely to ever be, a viable solution to the problem of vitamin A deficiency for humans in Asia. At best, it's a curiosity best suited (due to its color, in my opinion) for special Buddhist religious festivals. At worst, it will only lead to false hope for Asians. The viable alternative is a combination of

    1. expanded use of vitamin A supplements (preferably produced by local pharmaceutical companies),
    2. local legislation mandating the fortification of white rice with vitamin A, and
    3. adopting Shiva's suggestion that the growth and consumption of fruits and vegetables that are *truly* high in provitamin A content be encouraged (and, if necessary, government-subsidized) wherever possible. For example, Asian mothers should be taught to mix cooked pureed carrots into every portion of rice gruel that they serve their babies.
    At the very least, pro-biotech scientists should discourage and denounce vigorously any such statements appearing in the popular press such as the following:

    "By splicing a gene containing beta-carotene (commonly found in carrots) into normal rice, researchers have produced a strain capable of preventing the vitamin A deficiency that each year blinds millions of Third World children."

(AgBioView Archive Message #921: Genetically Altered Foods are the Key to Feeding Increasingly Hungry World).

Demonstrably false and reckless statements such as the one quoted above will, in the long run, do nothing but irreparable harm to the pro biotech cause.]


THE "GOLDEN RICE" HOAX When Public Relations replaces Science by Dr. Vandana Shiva

******************************************************************** **
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 PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Sun, 17 Dec 2000 11:18:57 +0200
From: "Anthony van Zyl"

The wealth of Nature; Indian Seed Prayer

Motion Magazine

The wealth of Nature
Indian Seed Prayer

The wealth of Nature

Motion Magazine:
Just a moment ago in your speech to the conference, you said you'd like to bring in a third world perspective. Can you bring that into this discussion?

Dr. Vandana Shiva:
The third world is that part of the world which became the colonies in the last colonialization. It wasn't an impoverished world then, in fact the reason it was colonialized is because it had the wealth. Columbus set sail to get control of the spice trade from India, it's just that he landed on the wrong continent and named the original inhabitants of this land Indian thinking he had arrived in India. Latin America was colonialized because of the gold it had. None of these countries were impoverished. Today they are called the poorer part of the world because the wealth has been drained out.

People have survived in the third world because in spite of the wealth that has been taken from them, in spite of their gold and their land having been taken from them, they still have biodiversity. They still have that last resource in the form of seed, medicinal plants, fodder, which allowed them access to production It allowed them to meet their needs of health and nutrition. Now this last resource of the poor, who had been left deprived by the last round of colonialization is also being taken over through patenting. And seeds which peasants have freely saved, exchanged, used, are being treated as the property of corporations. New legal property formations are being shaped as intellectual property rights treaties, through the World Trade Organization, trying to prevent peasants of the third world from having free access to their own seed, to have free exchange of their own seed. So that all peasants, all farmers around the world would be buying seed every year thus creating a new market for the global seed industry.

80 percent of India takes care of its health needs through medicinal plants that grow around in back yards, that grow in the fields, in the forests, which people freely collect. No one has had to pay a price for the gifts of nature.

Today everyone of those medicines has been patented and within five, ten years down the line we could easily have a situation in which the same pharmaceutical industry that has created such serious health damages and is now shifting to safe health products in the form of medicinal plant based drugs, Chinese medicine, aromatic medicine from India, will prevent the use. They don't even have to come and make it illegal because longbefore they have to take that step, they take over the resource base, they take over the plants, they take over the supply, they take over the markets, and leave people absolutely deprived of access.

What we are seeing right now is a situation in which the third world, which has been the main supplier of biodiversity, the main producer of food in the world, where the majority of people are engaged in food production, is being attempted to be converted into a consumer society. But you can't have a consumer society with poor people and therefore what you will have is deprivation, destitution, disease, hunger, epidemics, hunger, malnutrition, famine and civil war. What is being sown is the greed of the corporations of stealing the last resources of the poor. It really is seeds of uncontrollable violence and decay of societies on a very large scale.

Indian Seed Prayer

Dr. Vandana Shiva: When we plant a seed there's a very simple prayer that every peasant in India says: "Let the seed be exhaustless, let it never get exhausted, let it bring forth seed next year." Farmers have such pride in saying "this is the tenth generation seeds that I'm planting," "this is the fifth generation seed that I'm planting."

Just the other day I had a seed exchange fair in my valley and a farmer brought Basmati aromatic rice seed and he said "this is five generations we've been planting this in our family". So far human beings have treated it as their duty to save seed and ensure its continuity. But that prayer to let the seed be exhaustless seems to be changing into the prayer, "let this seed get terminated so that I can make profits every year" which is the prayer that Monsanto is speaking through the terminator technology – a technology whose aim is merely to prevent seed from germinating so that they don't have to spend on policing.

Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 12:04:42 +0200
From: "BIOWATCH: taynton"
From: Kittisaro & Thanissara
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2000 6:37 PM

Concern over Proposed Planting of GM Sugarcane in KZN (Natal)

Vegetative Propagation of Genetically Improved Sugarcane Public Notice.

Dear Friends

Two articles appear below – One is part of a notice printed in the Natal Witness dated Dec 13th from:
SA Sugar Association Experiment Station,
P/Bag x02, Mount Edgecombe 4300 South Africa

This is to inform of proposed planting of genetically 'improved' sugarcane in KZN.

The other is concerns in regards to very real dangers in GM crops put forward by Most Revd. Wilfrid F Napier Catholic Archdiocese of Durban President: Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference who along with the Catholic Church calls for a moratorium on genetically engineered foods and crops.

As Buddhist Teachers, we totally support this concern and action. The SA National Dept. of Agriculture has invited comments on their proposed support of GM sugar crops within 30 days of posting the below announcement.

If you want to write them direct – please write to:
Registrar of Genetically Modified Organisms
Private Bag X973, Pretoria 0001 South Africa

Otherwise, if you would like your concern registered, please respond with your name and either address or tel# or Email# and return it us directly and we will send on all responses with some additional information and articles concerning the significant risks of GM crop planting to Pretoria.

Thank you
Thanissara and Kittisaro

Guiding teachers of the Buddhist Retreat Centre, KZN PS If you wish to write any letters however, please send directly to the Pretoria address above.

Vegetative Propagation of Genetically Improved Sugarcane Public Notice.

The South African Sugar Association Experiement Station (SASEX) wishes to inform the public of proposed vegetative propagation of genetically modified sugarcane. The propagation is part of a non-commercial Research and Development programme of sugarcane variety improvement and assessment. Upon official authorisation by the National Dept. of Agriculture, the propagation plot would be established within the confines of one of SASEX's research stations located in KZN.

The various lines of sugarcane that are to be propagated each contain one or two genes with potential to express the following respective characteristics: resistance to the antibiotic geneticin, herbicide resistance, pest resistance, bacterial growth inhibition, a sucrose related enzyme and two naturally occurring colour responsive 'reporter' proteins. The proposed propagation plot will be designed and managed in strict accordance with all the requirements of the National Department of Agriculture's Genetic Resources Directorate. The purpose of propagation is to generate sufficient stalks from each line for thorough laboratory testing and possible later field evaluation. Field evaluation is not included in the present proposal. Sugarcane does not produce fertile pollen at South African latitudes; nevertheless, stalks will not be allowed to flower.

The National Department of Agriculture invites anybody wishing to make comments to submit these in writing within 30 days from publication of this notice. The address is: (as above)

Top PreviousNextFront Page
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 12:04:42 +0200
From: "BIOWATCH: taynton"
From: Kittisaro & Thanissara

e-PRAXIS – Engaging Faith & Society

Catholic Church calls for a moratorium on genetically engineered foods and crops

S.African Dept. of Agriculture
References On Genetically Modified Foods And Crops

Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference

The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference expresses its concern over the utilization of genetic engineering (GE) technologies in agriculture and food production. Tens of thousands of hectares in our country have been planted with GE crops. Modified maize and cotton are already commercially produced, while soybean, potato, tomato, apple and canola are in a trial phase (1).

We are aware that genetic engineering is an imprecise technology and that the long-term health effects of consuming GE food have not been assessed. Scientists are warning that new allergens, carcinogens and toxins may be introduced into foods.

Moreover, the damage to the environment would be largely irreversible. Once released, genetically engineered organisms become part of our ecosystem. Another major issue posed by the transgenic crop technologies is the cross-pollination of neighboring non-GE crops due to pollen drift. This pollution could result in the eradication of biodiversity in areas bordering genetically modified crops.

Because we do not know whether there are any serious risks to the environment or human health, to produce and market genetically modified food is morally irresponsible. The precautionary principle should apply, as it is done in medical research.

Therefore we call on the Government of South Africa to introduce a Five Year Freeze on Genetic Engineering, in support of the campaign launched by the South African Freeze Alliance on Genetic Engineering (SAFeAGE). We agree that a five-year period is the minimum time needed to implement stringent safety tests on GE foods and to thoroughly research the health, safety and environmental impacts of GE crops. During this time the import and export of GE foods and crops as well as the patenting of seeds for food and farm crops should be stopped.

We also call on the Government to introduce compulsory labelling of GE food. In this way South African consumers will be able to exercise their right to buy food of their choice. This right is presently denied since there is no way of distinguishing a modified product from any other product.

We finally appeal to the Government to sign the international Protocol on Biosafety. This protocol requires that countries exporting genetically modified organisms (GMOs) provide, in advance, detailed information to the importing country. This measure will ensure the right of the consumer and reduce possible negative consequences to our health and the environment.

Most Revd. Wilfrid F Napier
Catholic Archdiocese of Durban President: Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference

S.African Dept. of Agriculture

(1) According to the Department of Agriculture, there are 250 000 hectares of GE crops under commercial cultivation.

Following are the districts where GE crops are grown.

  1. MAIZE: grown by Agrevo, BASF, Carnia, Pannar and Monsanto in Delmas, Nelspruit, White River, Skeersport, Rustenburg, Viljoenskroon, Hoopstad, Potchefstroom, Swartberg, Middelburg, Wolmaranstad, Malelane

  2. COTTON: grown by Monsanto in Welpe, Messina, Nelspruit, Brits, Rustenburg, Groblersdal, Whiteriver, Settlers, Burgersfort; Stoneville in, Marble Hall; Delta Pine in Marble Hall, Pongola, Makhatini, Setlagoli, Magogong, Jan Kempdorp, Grootdrink, Upington, Groblersdal, Krokodildrif

  3. SOYABEAN: grown by Carnia in Petit, Hendrina, Thabazimbi, Vrede, Vryheid, Nelspruit, Bethlehem; Monsanto in Delmas, Greytown; Pannar in Delmas

  4. POTATOES: grown by First Potato Dynamics in Koue Bokkeveld, Ceres

  5. TOMATO: grown by Seminas at ARC – Roodeplaat

  6. APPLE: grown by ARC-Infuitec in Stellenbosch

  7. CANOLA: grown by AgrEvo in Krommeree, Elsenburg

For Further Info Please Contact:
Father Efrem Tresoldi – +27 (0)12 323 6458


References On Genetically Modified Foods And Crops

  1. RESPONSIBLE SCIENTISTS CALL FOR IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL OF GM FOODS "Scientists and Physicians for the Responsible Application of Science and Technology" signed by 206 physicians & scientists from around the world.

  2. Institute of Science in Society: World Scientists Statement – signed by 363 scientists from 45 countries:

  3. NEW BOOK 50 Harmful Effects of Genetically Modified Foods, available electronically at

  4. GM CROPS WILL NOT BENEFIT FARMERS. Read up on the frequent poor physical and economic performance of GM crops

  5. GM crops will NOT solve world hunger say scientists

  6. Deutsche Bank predicts GM food industry will collapse 25DeutscheMonsa....

  7. BOOM IN DEMAND FOR ORGANIC FOOD First World consumers are totally rejecting GM foods. GM food export markets are grinding to a halt and being replaced by a booming demand for organic food. Several countries are creating GM free zones to protect their agricultural exports.

    Organic food sales have increased by 40% per year in the UK since 1995. It is estimated that the present demand for organic food will quadruple in the UK by 2005. 70% of organic food sold in the UK at present is imported.

  8. DEVELOPING COUNTRIES REJECT GM Although under tremendous pressure from a desperate bio-tech industry trying to find a market for its products, farmers from developing countries such as India, Brazil are rejecting GM crops. South Africa is being targeted as the gateway to Africa by the giant GM seed companies. Will our government and farmers fall for sophisticated marketing over sound science?

  9. At this very moment world food production is 150% of global dietary requirements (UNWEP). Politics, poverty and inequitable distribution are what keep the hungry from accessing it. We do not need GM crops. Today's world produces more food per inhabitant than ever before. (Altieri & Rosset)

    (A "must read") Biotech, Poverty, Hunger & Developing Nations

If you have received this from a friend and wish to join this e-mail newsletter group please send a blank e-mail to

For more information on e-PRAXIS please e-mail Gary Leonard at

Top PreviousFront Page
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 20:19:34 +0200
From: "Glenda Lindsay"

Rural Advancement Foundation International
December 13 2000

BIOWATCH: RAFI Geno-type: Calendar of Calamities 2000

Biotech's "Generation One" – Travails of a Misspent Youth

The RAFI Revue ("tongue-in-cheek") of the scientific, political and media disasters that struck the Agbiotech industry since the BioSafety Protocol was adopted in January.

January, 2000

February, 2000

March, 2000

April, 2000

May, 2000

June, 2000

July, 2000

August, 2000

September, 2000

October, 2000

November, 2000

December, 2000

Watch for RAFI's "Generation 3" Communique!


  1. 'Toxic Leak', New Scientist, 4 December 1999, p. 7.

  2. 'Resistance is useless', New Scientist, 19 February 2000, p. .21.

  3. Edwards, Rob, 'Is it or isn’t it?', New Scientist, 4 March 2000, p. 5.

  4. Graham-Rowe, Duncan, 'Possums on the Pill', New Scientist, 4 March 2000, p. 18.

  5. Editorial, 'Just give us the facts', New Scientist, 4 March 2000, p. 3.

  6. Coghlan, Andy, 'Pocket of resistance', New Scientist, 15 April 2000, p. 17.

  7. 'Maize malaise', New Scientist, 15 April 2000, p. 17.

  8. Coghlan, Andy, 'Sowing dissent', New Scientist, 27 May 2000, p. 4.

  9. Edwards, Rob, 'Look before it leaps', New Scientist, 24 June 2000, p. 5.

  10. 'Red faces all round', New Scientist, 10 June 2000, p. 5.

  11. Sample, Ian, "Modified crops could corrupt weedy cousins", New Scientist, 15 July 2000, p.6.

  12. New Scientist, "Young, nut Mad", July 8, 2000, p.5.

  13. New Scientist, "CJD creeps up", 12 August 2000, .p.19.

  14. New Scientist, "Triumph for Diversity", 19 August 2000, p.21

  15. Kilman, Scott, "Modified Corn a Threat to Butterfly, Study Says", Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2000.

  16. New Scientist, "Stick a Label on it", 5 August 2000, p.5.

  17. Coghlan, Andy, "Killer Tomatoes", New Scientist, 23 September 2000, p.9.

  18. New Scientist, "Shells off the Shelves", September 30 2000, p.5.Noelle Mennella, PARIS, Nov 9 (Reuters) .

  19. MacKenzie, Debora, "Stray genes highlight superweed danger". New Scientist, 21 October 2000, p.6.

  20. MacKenzie, Debora, "La folie francaise". New Scientist, 28 October 2000, p.6.

  21. RAFI attended the CGIAR meeting in Washington October 23-27 and participated actively in opposing the draft "New IPR Guiding Principles".

  22. FAO, Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture, First Session, Rome, 26-28 September 2000.

  23. Noelle Mennella, PARIS, Nov 9 (Reuters.

  24. Monsanto Press Release, Feb. 10, 2000.