Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

23 January 2001

Table of Contents

WTO Head; protesters make him sick.
Starlink Fallout Could Cost Billions: Future Of Modified Crops Thrown In Doubt, Report Says
US Govt. Wants More Biotech Corn Tests
Report Damns U.S. Regulation of Biotech Foods
Study points to problems with genetically engineered cotton
USA: GMO Link To Decline In US Cotton Quality Feared
JAPAN: More samples of banned corn found in US shipments
Starlink Contamination Found In Beer Ingredient-fda
Spain Seen Buying More GM-free Brazilian Corn
Aventis Expands Starlink Bio-corn Compensation
Canada: Genetically modified spuds cleared
Outgoing US Secretary Says Agency's Top Issue Is Genetically Modified Food
"Tesco UK said more than 75 % of its customers expressed a preference for GMO-free products".
Germans shelve GM trials
UK Top Research Centre Admits GM Failure
Brazilian Farmers Storm Monsanto, Uproot Plants
South Korea intensifies GM inspections of imported grain
Japan team to observe U.S. testing for StarLink bio-corn
"Humanitarian" GM corn: U.S. Withdraws Genetically Engineered Corn
codex food labeling meeting Ottawa May 1 to 4,2001
2001 – Year of alternatives to GM in world agriculture
BIOTECH MISTAKES 1995 – Jan.2001
LA Times on GM soy beans
Some Food for FDA Regulation – GE Soy is different

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Date: Wed, 07 Feb 2001 22:10:08 +0200
From: ekogaia ekogaia@iafrica.com

Here is a snippet of the thinking of the head of the WTO, Mike Moore.

I will be starting a newslist on Environmental Issues in the near future. If any of you want to subscribe, please advise me by return email. The list will cover a broad range of environmental issues from aardvark to zoology. It will probably have a message a week.

All the best

Glenn.

WTO Head; protesters make him sick.

Seattle protesters make me sick, says trade chief

By Andrea Hopkins in Canberra, 6 February 2001
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/World/Americas/2001-02/seattle06020....

The head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Mike Moore, lambasted antiglobalisation protesters yesterday, saying that they made him want to be sick.

A new global free trade round was a moral imperative in the face of an impending slowdown in America, Mr Moore said. "The people that stand outside and say they work in the interests of the poorest people ... they make me want to vomit. Because the poorest people on our planet, they are the ones that need us the most," he said on a visit to the Australian capital to promote the need for a new round of free trade negotiations.

As he spoke, a small but vocal group of protesters pounded on the windows of the National Press Club, at times nearly drowning out his speech, chanting: "Michael Moore kills the poor." They blocked the driveway to prevent his car leaving.

Trade ministers from the WTO's 140 member countries will meet in Qatar in November in a renewed attempt to launch a global trade round after the failure of talks in Seattle in 1999, which were marked by massive anti-globalisation protests.

Mr Moore said that while dialogue with globalisation opponents was important and politicians needed to listen to their people, the success of the new talks was paramount. An American economic slowdown had the potential to spur trade talks but could also threaten free trade. (Reuters)

From the BBC.

The WTO announces its next top-level meetings will be in Qatar, a nation with a questionable human rights record and little history of public protest. Grist Mag / BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/business/newsid=1144000/1144362.stm

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.


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Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 13:50:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-15

Dear friends

I am no longer sending these summaries out regularly, but here is a summary of some news from January. I may send more as I have time. I am currently away from home base, on a TM retreat. I sometimes send news out on this. If anyone is interested in being on getting this news, let me know. In the meantime, I will send out GE news from time to time.

Best wishes
Richard


Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 13:50:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-15

Starlink Fallout Could Cost Billions: Future Of Modified Crops Thrown In Doubt, Report Says

By Stuart Laidlaw, Toronto Star, January 9, 2001

The StarLink controversy in the United States could, according to a report by a food industry consultant cited in this story, cost the food industry billions of dollars and has thrown the future of genetically modified foods into doubt.

Don Westfall, vice-president of Promar International, a consulting company based in a Washington, D.C., suburb who co-authored the 74-page report was cited as saying the mix-up will lead to dozens of lawsuits over the costs of cleaning up the mess, while giving consumers more reasons to worry about the safety of genetically modified foods, adding, "This is going to come back to haunt the regulators and the food industry."


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Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 13:50:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-15

US Govt. Wants More Biotech Corn Tests

By PHILIP BRASHER, AP Farm Writer, Monday January 8 4:11 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) – The government is asking seed companies and grain millers to test for a gene-altered variety of corn that was discovered in taco shells and other products last fall without being approved for food use.

Although many millers already are testing for StarLink corn, Food and Drug Administration (news – web sites) guidelines will require more extensive sampling than processors have been doing, an industry spokeswoman said Monday.

The Agriculture Department has issued similar guidelines to test corn seed for StarLink contamination


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Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 13:50:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-15

Report Damns U.S. Regulation of Biotech Foods

By Meg Bryant, Reuters Health, Friday January 12 10:54 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters Health) – The US government, in its enthusiasm to speed genetically altered foods to the market, has forsaken its responsibility to regulate in the public interest and allows the companies that make and sell those products to decide their safety, a new report by the Consumer Federation of America concludes.

By relying on a regulatory system that exempts biotechnology products to existing foods from rigorous regulatory review, the government has put the public and the environment at possible risk from potential allergens, herbicides, creation of and other unknown consequences, the report suggests.


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Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 13:50:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-15

Study points to problems with genetically engineered cotton

Journal of Cotton Science via Cropchoice News, http://www.cropchoice.com , January 9, 2001

A recent study raising possible concerns for farmers about genetically modified cotton has received much less attention than the seed and chemical companies' endorsement of transgenic technology.

Scientists writing in the Journal of Cotton Science point out some potential concerns with cotton that's genetically modified to resist the tobacco budworm and the herbicide glyphosate, also know as Roundup. Researchers found that the transgenic cotton they studied was less resistant to root-knot nematode, a serious cotton pest.

Sources: Rooster.com, Journal of Cotton Science


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Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 13:50:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-15

USA: GMO Link To Decline In US Cotton Quality Feared

By Rene Pastor, Source: Reuters, 11 Jan 2001

US textile manufacturers are suspicious that the widespread use of genetically modified plants (GMO) in cotton farms may have contributed to the fall in cotton quality, a senior US textile official said Wednesday.

"There are a number of textile people that are suspicious simply because of the circumstantial evidence that the GM cotton is increasing in terms of its selection by the producers and our quality trends are decreasing," Stephen Felker, chairman and chief executive of Avondale Mills in Monroe, Georgia, told Reuters in an interview at the start of the annual Beltwide Cotton conference.


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Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 13:50:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-15

JAPAN: More samples of banned corn found in US shipments

Source: just-food.com editorial team, 18 Jan 2001

Japanese Health Ministry officials have confirmed that genetically modified corn, already banned in Japan, has crept into the country again.

Samples of the modified corn, StarLink, was found in a shipment from the United States, said Yoshiko Saito, an official in the ministry's Food Sanitation Division. ...

Japan has since said those found guilty of importing genetically altered corn will face a maximum fine of ¥100,000 or one year in prison.

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.


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Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001 17:06:30 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-31

Starlink Contamination Found In Beer Ingredient-fda

Reuters/AP, Jan. 13 2001

WASHINGTON – StarLink, a biotech corn variety not approved for human consumption, was, according to these stories, found in an ingredient used by some U.S. beer makers, federal regulators were cited as saying in a letter released on Friday by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.


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Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001 17:06:30 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-31

Spain Seen Buying More GM-free Brazilian Corn

By Reese Ewing, Reuters, January 15, 2001

Sao PAULO – Latin America's leading grain cooperative COAMO was cited as saying that Brazil's GM-free corn will continue to attract international buyers such as Spain which purchased 150,000 tonnes last month.


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Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001 17:06:30 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-31

Aventis Expands Starlink Bio-corn Compensation

K.T. Arasu, Reuters, January 11, 2001

CHICAGO- The U.S. unit of European pharmaceutical giant Aventis SA was cited as saying on Thursday it had expanded its compensation program for farmers whose crops were tainted with its unapproved gene-altered corn, with a spokesperson for Aventis CropScienc quoted as saying, "It is a recent improvement," while declining further comment.

The story says that the move adds another category of farmers affected by StarLink corn to the list of those eligible for compensation, explaing that Aventis is currently paying farmers a 25-cent premium per bushel of StarLink corn to ensure the remainder of the 2000 crop not accounted for is kept out of the food chain. It is also paying the same amount for regular corn that was grown within a 660-foot buffer zone of StarLink which run the risk of contamination through cross pollination.

The story adds that Aventis will now pay premiums of 5 cents and 10 cents to farmers whose corn was grown beyond the 660-foot area but was "inadvertently commingled" with their corn grown near a field of StarLink corn.


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Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001 17:06:30 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-31

Canada: Genetically modified spuds cleared

By Stuart Laidlaw, BUSINESS REPORTER, Toronto Star, Jan. 23, 2001

Inspectors had blasted `extremely poor' field trials

The Canadian government approved a new line of genetically modified field tests that federal inspectors feared would undermine the legitimacy of Canada's regulatory system, The Star has learned.

But despite objections by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, or CFIA, the Monsanto Co. potatoes – modified to fight potato beetles without pesticides - were released on to the market without further testing under pressure from farmers and Monsanto.

Among the numerous deficiencies cited by the federal inspectors, parts of the test fields that were supposed to be left free of all insecticides were in fact sprayed with a powerful bug killer. and planted with unmodified potatoes – are meant to slow the rate at which bugs develop resistance to the powerful toxins in the modified potatoes.


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Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001 17:06:30 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-31

Outgoing US Secretary Says Agency's Top Issue Is Genetically Modified Food

BY Bill Lambrecht; Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau, January 25, 2001,

Ann Veneman, the new secretary of agriculture, faces various problems as she takes office, including what to do about genetically modified food.

Veneman served on the board of Calgene, a company owned by Monsanto Co.

* Bill Clinton's agriculture secretary, Dan Glickman, warned his replacement, Ann Veneman, that biotechnology policy may become her most difficult problem. But in her speedy confirmation, Veneman revealed almost nothing about her views.


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Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001 17:06:30 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-31

"Tesco UK said more than 75 % of its customers expressed a preference for GMO-free products".

By Darcy Maulsby, General Agriculture News, 1/26/2001 http://www.agweb.com

Some of the UK’s leading retail chains say the meat and eggs sold in their stores will soon be free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Tesco, Asda and Marks and Spencer are promoting the GMO-free products, saying that they will provide meat products from animals not fed with GMOs. The chains said their store-brand products are already GMO-free.


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Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001 17:06:30 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-31

Germans shelve GM trials

By FWi staff, Farmers Weekly (UK), 26 January 2001
http://www.fwi.co.uk/live/news/fwi_news.asp

PRESSURE is growing on Britain to abandon genetically modified crop trials after Germany shelved similar plans, reports the Daily Express.

German chancellor Gerhard Schröder has announced an indefinite postponement of a three-year programme of GM trials. ...

The Express (UK) describes the German decision as fresh blow to the biotech industry, which has been stunned by European opposition to GMs.


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Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001 17:06:30 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-31

UK Top Research Centre Admits GM Failure

ISIS Press Release, 26 Jan. 2001

Scientists in UK's top GM crop research institute, the John Innes Centre, are finally admitting to the public that GM crops are no good. It amounts to pronouncing the death sentence on GMOs. Mae-Wan Ho, Angela Ryan and Joe Cummins report.

The John Innes Centre (JIC) is UK's leading plant research institute, publicly funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to the tune of more than £10m in grants every year. It also houses the Sainsbury Laboratory and has research alliances with Zeneca and Dupont.

Not surprisingly, JIC has some of the most pro-GM scientists who have been staunchly defending GM crops from critics like ourselves, even as they have been pointing out the same problems in scientific papers published in specialist journals. For years, we have been drawing attention to the instability of GM constructs and GM lines. This raises serious safety concerns over the possibility that the GM genes could spread out of control to unrelated species, with the potential to create new bacteria and viruses by recombination. More recently, we have also argued that the promoter from cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV 35S promoter), which is in practically all GM crops already commercialised or undergoing field trials, will make GM constructs and GM lines extra unstable, and hence greatly exacerbating the problems of horizontal gene transfer and recombination.

Two items are noteworthy in the latest annual report from JIC, the first reveals that GM barley lines became unstable and variable in later generations of field trials. The researchers concluded, "The results show that transgenic lines need to be examined over a number of generations under field conditions to obtain the necessary data on transgenic stability and agronomic performance", and also call for "detailed molecular and genetic analysis" Both of these ISIS have demanded for years along with other scientists.

The second item concerns the CaMV 35S promoter. When ISIS pointed out the dangers of this promoter in the scientific journals, we were reviled and attacked. Our fiercest critic was leader of a research group in the JIC that had discovered that the promoter has a 'recombination hotspot', a breaking point that makes it much more likely to recombine. Now, two years later, the same group admits the need to avoid recombination hotspots such as that in the CaMV 35S promoter as well as the 'origin of replication' in the plasmid serving as vector for the GM construct, which is also often integrated 'accidentally' into GM crops.

Contacts:

Ms. Angela Ryan: 44-20-8441-6481; mobile: 44-07833-114525 e-mail: I-sis@dircon.co.uk
Dr. Mae-Wan Ho: 44-20-7272-5636; e-mail: m.w.ho@I-sis.org
Prof. Joe Cummins: 1-519-681-5477; e-mail: jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

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Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001 17:06:30 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-31

Brazilian Farmers Storm Monsanto, Uproot Plants

By Marco Sibaja, Reuters, January 26, 2001

NAO ME TOQUE, Brazil – More than a thousand poor Brazilian farmers, joined by activists attending an anti-World Economic Forum summit, were cited as storming a biotech plant owned by U.S. life sciences giant Monsanto, threatening on Friday to camp out indefinitely to protest genetically modified (GM) food. The story says that some 1,200 workers from settlements of the radical Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Brazil's southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul invaded the plant just before midnight on Thursday, yanking out GM corn and soybeans crops at Monsanto's experimental farm. Solet Campolete, a local MST leader, was quoted as saying, "We're staying here indefinitely. We want to make a statement ... these seeds trick farmers and create dependency on seeds produced by a big multinational."


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Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001 17:06:30 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-31

1/26/2001

South Korea intensifies GM inspections of imported grain

Associated Press, January 26, 2001

SEOUL – South Korea plans to tighten customs inspection to prevent the import of genetically modified food and grains for human consumption, government officials said Friday.

The move came after government food inspectors found on Jan. 15 that genetically modified corn, known as StarLink, was included in a 55,000-ton shipment from the U.S. that was meant for human consumption.


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Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001 17:06:30 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-31

Japan team to observe U.S. testing for StarLink bio-corn

By Randy Fabi, Reuters, Wednesday January 31

WASHINGTON, Jan 31 – Japan's Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry next week will dispatch a small team of officials to the United States to observe government testing for StarLink bio-corn as Tokyo continues to find traces of the unapproved variety in American shipments.


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Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001 17:06:30 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN1-31

"Humanitarian" GM corn: U.S. Withdraws Genetically Engineered Corn

SARAJEVO, Jan 30, 2001 – Agence France Presse via FarmPowerNews http://www.centraleurope.com/bosniatoday/news.php3?id=273802

Animal Feed Donation After Bosnia's Hesitation

The United States has withdrawn a four million dollar donation of genetically engineered (GE) corn for animal feed after Bosnian officials hesitated to approve it over fears of health risks for humans, the embassy said here Tuesday.

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.


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Date: 20 Jan 2001 11:10:49 -0600
From: joe jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

Note the limitation on attendance in key meetings. I hope that many will respond to the undemocratic practice. Ottawa has a number of venues that would provide adequate space for all interested parties. There are a number of such meeting places adjacent to the main meeting place! It seems to be an effort to limit democracy which is felt to be contemptible by the bureaucrats running the meetings.

codex food labeling meeting Ottawa May 1 to 4,2001

Canadian Codex website:
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/food-aliment/english/codex/index.htm
FAO Codex website:
http://www.fao.org/WAICENT/faoinfo/economic/esn/codex/Agend.htm

January 18, 2001

29th Session of the
Codex Committee on Food Labelling (CCFL)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
01-04 May 2001

As Codex Contact Point for Canada and Secretary of the Codex Committee on Food Labelling (CCFL), I am writing to advise that the 29th Session of the Codex Committee on Food Labelling will be held at the Ottawa Congress Centre (Congress Hall, Salon A), 55 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario from 01 – 04 May 2001. For your information, the Congress Centre is almost directly across Colonel By Drive from the Government Conference Centre, where the CCFL has been held in previous years.

Background documents for this Session will be posted, as they become available, on the FAO Codex website and will also be accessible via Canada's Codex website (see website addresses below). The formal invitation and provisional agenda have been issued by the Directors-General of FAO and WHO and copies are attached for your information.

The following two Ad Hoc Working Groups will meet just prior to the commencement of the CCFL:

  1. The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Draft Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and Marketing of Organically Produced Foods will be convened to review the sections of the guidelines on Bees and on Additives. The Working Group meeting will be held at the Government Conference Centre, 2 (Rideau Street) on Saturday April 28 and on Monday April 30, 2001, from 09:00 to 17:00 hrs.

  2. The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Proposed Draft Recommendations for the Use of Health Claims will be convened at the Government Conference Centre on Monday April 30, 2001, from 09:00 to 17:00 hrs.

Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in English, French and Spanish for both the Committee Session and the Ad Hoc Working Groups.

Due to limited room capacity for the Ad Hoc Working Group meetings, all member countries have been asked to consider limiting the number of participants to no more than two to three per delegation. As a courtesy to visiting member countries of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Canada will adhere to this limitation as well.

To date, comments have been solicited on the following issues which are on the Provisional Agenda for consideration at the CCFL:

Comments were requested by October 30, 2000 on the following Proposed Draft Guidelines at Step 3 of the Procedure:

Comments are due by January 19, 2001 on CL 2000/35-FL:

Comments to be solicited (February, 2001):

Draft Canadian positions are in the process of being prepared on the above issues circulated for comments. If your organization wishes to submit additional comments, please submit them by e-mail codex_canada@hc-sc.gc.ca or by fax (613) 941-3537, no later than February 15, 2001.

Draft Canadian positions will be circulated for your review, comment and subsequent discussion at a public consultation meeting to be announced in the near future. If you require copies of any of the above documentation, please advise this office as soon as possible.

For practical purposes, Canadian delegations should not exceed 20, including both governmental and Non Governmental (NG) delegates. If more than 20 requests to be delegates are received, we will attempt to ensure a balance of governmental officials and delegates representing the various NG sectors (e.g. consumer groups, industry organizations, health professional associations).

However, this in no way impedes additional governmental and NG representatives to sit in on the plenary session as "Observers" provided there is adequate space in the meeting room. The meeting venue is centrally located in downtown Ottawa and a list of hotels in the vicinity of the Congress Centre is attached for your use and information. Please note that two separate lists of hotels have been established (Annex A and B). Annex A contains names of hotels which have agreed to hold blocks of rooms for the meeting. Annex B is a supplementary list of hotels in Ottawa.

I strongly encourage you to refer to Annex A and book your accommodation prior to the indicated deadlines, after which unreserved rooms will be released for resale to general clientele. I regret that the Canadian Secretariat is not able to handle accommodation arrangements.

For your information, NG representatives are responsible for payment of all costs associated with attendance at sessions of Codex Committees.

To facilitate the Canadian Secretariat in the organization of the CCFL, your response to the invitation by way of the attached registration form is requested to be submitted to Ms. Santina Scalzo by fax (613-941-3537) or e-mail codex_canada@hc-sc.gc.ca or santina_scalzo@hc-sc.gc.ca) by April 01, 2001.

Yours truly,

Original signed by:

Ron Burke
Codex Contact Point for Canada, and Secretary
Codex Committee on Food Labelling

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Date: 22 Jan 2001 05:37:50 -0600
From: RBBAX@aol.com
Originated from: nlpwessex@bigfoot.com (NLP Wessex)
Via: owner-food@foe.co.uk

2001 – Year of alternatives to GM in world agriculture

Will 2001 Become The Year Of The Alternatives To Gm Technology In World Agriculture?

Sections:
Genetic Transformation is known to heighten the risk of certain abnormalities
The Greatest technological duds of all time
Awkward Handling Of Risk Issues
No honest assessment of what stands between theory and practice
Missing is a candid appraisal of what the real problems actually are
Little understanding or experience of the integrated nature of agricultural ecology

There are signs that the GM debate is starting to move onto more interesting and productive territory. The controversy over GMOs is producing an encouraging 'spin off' in that it is causing the whole of our current agricultural systems to re-examined and assessed in the context of their ability to deliver 'sustainability'.

What seems to be emerging is that many of the problems that GM technology hopes to solve can in fact be resolved much more cheaply and effectively through alternative systems of management, particularly for farming systems in developing countries. The concept that GM technology (i.e. organisms incorporating recombinant DNA) may after all be unnecessary in world agriculture is starting to gather momentum.

It seems, therefore, that the most valuable aspect of the GM controversy has been to create an unexpected platform from where these alternatives to current unsustainable practices are gradually being brought to the attention of otherwise oblivious policy makers and the general public. Without the GM debate these more effective approaches may well have gone unnoticed by all but a few.

The principal reason why these alternative approaches are so powerful relative to GM technology is that the latter almost entirely misses the point. The major issues facing the future sustainability of global food production – such as soil, water and biodiversity conservation – are management rather than genetics related.

Positive changes in management practices are already starting to produce dramatic improvements in productivity – particularly in developing countries – by addressing head-on constraints which the use of recombinant DNA in plant and animal genetics can only hope to influence at the margins, if at all.

Whilst neither has entirely dismissed a role for GMOs in world agriculture two scientists in particular have drawn attention to the opportunities for rapid improvements in the sustainability and productivity of global agriculture through more direct management based solutions where developments in genetics of any kind play only a limited role.

The first of these scientists is Professor Jules Pretty of the University of Essex. This week's New Scientist provides an interesting report on the work Professor Pretty has done in uncovering systems of agriculture which overcome many of the deficiencies of modern farming practices in developing countries – often to a spectacular degree. This New Scientist report can be viewed at: http://www.newscientist.com/dailynews/news.jsp?id=ns9999325 (for more detailed information see article by Professor Pretty at: http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/article2.htm )

Meanwhile Dr Charles Benbrook, former Executive Director of the Board on Agriculture for the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS), has drawn attention to the poor record of GM technology in delivering on its past promises and the extent to which it draws financial resources away from the development of solutions which have far greater cost-benefit potential and lower risk profiles. Some of Dr Benbrook's observations in this area can be found in his highly critical commentary of a report published last year by the US National Academy of Sciences entitled: "Transgenic Plants and World Agriculture".

The full text of Dr Benbrook's commentary can be read on-line at http://www.biotech-info.net/sevenNAS.html . However, we quote below some of his more interesting observations for ease of reference:

Genetic Transformation is known to heighten the risk of certain abnormalities

"The process of genetic transformation is known to heighten the risk of certain abnormalities in gene expression that can affect the stability of genomes and the performance of transgenic crops. Some of these abnormalities can alter gene expression and protein levels under certain circumstances in ways that impact physiological parameters, crop development, and plant defense mechanisms. Some of these changes, in turn, can lead to food safety risks. Maybe such risks will arise rarely and hopefully only with modest impact, but such optimistic judgements rest upon far too much guesswork and far too little solid, replicated and published risk assessment science.

Given the extent of ignorance about how genetically transformed plants will behave and react over time to changes in their environment, it is incumbent on scientists to use all knowledge and available tools to explore potential human health risks..."

The Greatest technological duds of all time

".....if the best GM technology can do is only marginally better than the worst of conventional technology, the biotechnology revolution may go down in history as one of the greatest technological duds of all time.

If GM technology fails, it won't be for lack of effort. In both the public and private sectors, enormous moral and financial support for agricultural biotechnology has been and still is predicated on the promise of a series of near-miraculous benefits this technology is supposed to be uniquely able to deliver..... No space in the report is allotted to the well-known technical and economic constraints that stand in the way of GM technologies.

Nor does the report discuss why GM technologies are likely, in the end, to be the most cost-effective and sustainable solution to a given problem. This is a serious shortcoming, given that so many of agriculture's problems arise from the mismanagement of natural resources and plant-pest ecological interactions. Such problems are not largely genetic in origin and rarely will genetic manipulation, however achieved, prove the decisive system innovation".

Awkward Handling Of Risk Issues

"Despite the report's awkward handling of risk issues, much of the report is forceful and on target. It contains the strongest passages yet in any NAS report on intellectual property rights issues. Given current intellectual property right laws, the authors admit that – '....the potential applications of GM technologies described previously are unlikely to benefit the less developed nations of the world for a long time...'

The report states that the concentration of control in a few multinational companies over seeds and GM technologies is likely to keep the focus on solving problems of intensive agriculture in the North, not the needs of poor and small farmers in developing countries."

No honest assessment of what stands between theory and practice

"But what is missing in this section, and indeed throughout the report, is an honest assessment of what stands between theory and practice. The theoretical benefits of GM technologies are highlighted without mention of the practical reasons why the actual impacts of a given technology might prove to be more limited or short-lived than first imagined. The failure of GM technologies to deliver on past promises is especially likely when compared to other elegant systems- and management-based solutions."

Missing is a candid appraisal of what the real problems actually are

"Also missing is a candid appraisal of what the real problems actually are. For the most part this report addresses the problem now faced by advocates of GM technology as they try to gain public, farmer, and consumer support. Unlike the typical NAS project committee, this working group did not step back and independently assess whether this is the real problem that deserves attention. If it had done so, the report would likely provide a more useful – and focused – appraisal of the possible contributions of GM technology. It would also highlight more prominently the importance of badly neglected areas of research and technology development and the need for farming system, trade, social and policy changes that do not depend on moving genes across species barriers using GM techniques."

Little understanding or experience of the integrated nature of agricultural ecology

It seems to us that the evidence is gradually increasing that GM technology comprises an approach to global agricultural problems which offers the least long term progress for the greatest expense and risk. The fact that so many governments have attempted to pursue such a route reflects the increasingly urban culture predominant amongst policy makers and scientific institutions, many of which have little understanding or experience of the integrated nature of agricultural ecology.

For further discussion on the myth of genetics as the principal constraint on responsible global agricultural production see: 'Are GMOs essential for effective sustainable agriculture in a hungry world?' at www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/geneticsmyth.htm

For further information on the track record of GM technology in agriculture failing to live up to its promises see: http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/gmagric.htm

NATURAL LAW PARTY WESSEX
nlpwessex@bigfoot.com     http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex


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Date: 22 Jan 2001 12:28:11 -0600
From: Cliff Kinzel ckinzel@mum.edu

BIOTECH MISTAKES 1995 – Jan.2001

1995, April 12 Wall Street Journal
Low-Tech Woe Slows Calgene's Super Tomato.
Summary:
Having spent years overcoming complex technological, regulatory and environmental obstacles, Calgene has been tripped up by a mundane problem: Its super tomato, designed to last longer and taste better, hasn't been able to take the pounding dished out by Calgene's system for picking, packing and shipping it.

Standard tomatoes are picked green and rock-hard, bumped down conveyor belts, blasted into bins and gassed with a hormone, ethylene, that triggers their reddening. Then they are boxed. What this efficiency sacrifices, of course, is taste. Calgene's tomato hasn't been tough enough for the real world.

1997, November 1 New Scientist
Monsanto's cotton gets the Mississippi blues.
Summary:
Farmers in Mississippi could lose millions of dollars following the partial failure of a new genetically engineered cotton crop. The cotton, produced by Monsanto, contains a gene for resistance to the company's herbicide glyphosate, sold as Roundup. Some 320 000 hectares across the US were planted with the cotton this season, its first on the market.

Most farmers are happy with the results. But in Mississippi, and to some extent in Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana, entire fields have shed their bolls –the fluffy part harvested for fibre –or have developed small, malformed bolls. Robert McCarty, director of Mississippi's Bureau of Plant Industry in Starkville, says that only Monsanto plants seem to have failed, over an area totalling 12 000 hectares. "Cotton right across the road of a different variety was not affected," he says.

1997, December 3 Reuters
GE mistake – GE sugar beet refined illegally.
Summary:
A test batch of Monsanto genetically-modified sugar beets was mistakenly sent to a Dutch refiner and mixed with normal sugar, company and government officials said on Wednesday. But some pulp from the beets was sold for use in animal feed before CSM learned about the error, Peter Dek, commercial director of CSM's sugar division, told Reuters. The Environment Ministry has launched an enquiry, which could result in a fine for Monsanto, a spokeswoman said.

1998, December 18 The Independent
Monsanto to be prosecuted over crops.
Summary:
The Health and Safety Executive is prosecuting both Monsanto and an agricultural seed company, Perryfields Holdings, over their failure to comply with regulations designed to control the spread of pollen from modified crops. It was found that the pollen barrier surrounding the trial was only two metres wide on the site of the trial, rather than the required six metres. The trial had already flowered and pollination with the surrounding crop may have taken place.

1999, January 25 Augusta Chronicle
Cotton Growers Blame New Seed For Crop Losses.
Summary:
Andrew Thompson said he felt like a failure when nearly a quarter of his cotton crop withered in the field last year, costing him about $250,000. He is among about 190 farmers in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina who have hired attorneys to represent them in a legal dispute with **Monsanto** Co. and Delta Pine and Land Co. Mr. Thompson's suit contends the companies rushed the seed to market without adequate testing and, when they began receiving complaints in 1997, misled growers and agriculture officials about the extent of the problem.

1999, Dec 30 Tampa Tribune
The elusive truth about Benlate.
Summary:
In 1991, DuPont pulled the fungicide Benlate 50 DF, blamed for devastating Florida crops, off the market. R. Hilton Biggs, a biochemist from the University of Florida, handled the state's early investigation into Benlate plant damage. Hollingsworth reports Biggs "concluded that contaminants in Benlate, as well as compounds produced when the fungicide decomposes, combined with certain environmental factors to create both chemical buildup and an imbalance in microorganisms in the soil."

This, he said, could result in toxins. He called Benlate "the second worst chemical disaster in the history of the world," with only DDT being more damaging. Growers around the country who did not receive settlements were forced to sue. In the first crop damage case to come to trial, DuPont scientists testified in court that it was safe. Later evidence surfaced in another trial that DuPont had withheld laboratory results indicating batches of Benlate may have been contaminated with a powerful weedkiller.

1999, Dec 15 Reuters
French farmer blames Monsanto for GM woe.
Summary:
A French farmer named in a class action lawsuit against Monsanto Co (NYSE:MTC – news) said he blames the life-sciences giant's involvement in genetically modified (GM) crops for miring him in a legal dispute dating back to 1997. Patrick de Kochko, an organic farmer in southwest France said the lawyers who filed the landmark antitrust suit against Monsanto on Tuesday asked him to join as a plaintiff because of legal problems over his 1996 soybean crop. De Kochko said he believes a unit of Monsanto sold him soybean seeds containing GM material, which then contaminated his crop and made it difficult for him to market his soybeans.

1999, Feb 21 Independent
GM foods – Revealed: false data misled farmers.
Summary:
Monsanto, the genetic engineering company, included false information about a genetically engineered crop it wants to sell in a safety assessment submitted to government advisers. The gene giant was forced to carry out its research again after it emerged last month that crucial information about the gene it proposed to put in a new strain of maize was incorrect. "It's very worrying. This means that somebody somewhere in Monsanto is getting it wrong," said Janey White, a molecular biologist.

2000, Jan 5 Australasian Business Intelligence (Source: The Courier-Mail)
Genetic guideline breaches revealed.
Summary:
According to the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee's 1998-99 annual report there have been two serious breaches of Australian guidelines. In the past financial year, Monsanto Australia Limited mistakenly breached guidelines regarding herbicide-resistant, or Roundup Ready, canola. And South Australia-based company GroPep accidentally released genetically manipulated micro-organisms containing the bacteria E.coli into the sewer

2000, October 10 Reuters
Officials say unauthorised GM seed grown in UK.
Summary:
Britain said on Tuesday unauthorised GM sugar beet had been grown by accident on experimental sites by biotech company Aventis. The department of the environment said it had been notified that tiny amounts (0.5 percent) of the unauthorised sugar beet had been found ventis informed the government after discovering a background level of a second, unauthorised, herbicide tolerant GM the department said in a statement. The sites had been cleared and the crop had not been allowed to flower, to stop pollen from contaminating nearby crops.

2000, April 16 The Observer
Poor crop results were replaced by a forgery, Ministry's internal paper shows.
Summary:
Results from vital Government-backed crop trials to assess genetically-modified seeds have been falsified, The Observer can reveal. Internal minutes from the Ministry of Agriculture, obtained by this newspaper, show that an employee at a Suffolk-based firm, Grainseed, manipulated scientific data to make certain seeds in the trials appear to perform better than they really did. This will cast a shadow over the Government's programme of GM trials, and further undermine public confidence in the controversial crop technology. MPs and environmentalists want the trials suspended.

2000, S. N. Covey, Al-Kaff, N. S. Plant Molecular Biology, 43, 307-322
Plant DNA viruses and gene silencing.
Summary:
Gene silencing is a multifaceted phenomenon leading to propagative down-regulation of gene expression. Gene silencing, first observed in plants containing transgenes, can operate both at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. Silencing effects can be triggered by nuclear transgenes and by cytoplasmic RNA viruses, and it can be propagated between these elements and endogenous plant genes that share sequence homology.

Although some aspects of gene silencing are becoming better understood, little is yet known about the relationship between nuclear and cytoplasmic events. Plant DNA viruses, both the ssDNA geminiviruses and the reverse-transcribing pararetroviruses, have properties with the potential to initiate gene silencing in the nucleus and in the cytoplasm. Characteristics include production of multiple copies of viral DNA genomes in the nucleus, illegitimate integration of viral DNA into host chromosomes mimicking transgene transformation, and generation of abundant viral RNAs in the cytoplasm.

Evidence is emerging that geminiviruses and plant pararetroviruses can interact with the gene silencing system either from introduced DNA constructs or during viral pathogenesis. Some observations suggest there are complex relationships between DNA viral activity, transcriptional and post-transcriptional gene silencing mechanisms. DNA viruses also have properties consistent with an ability to counteract the plant silencing response. In this article, features of plant DNA viruses are discussed in relation to gene silencing phenomena, and the prospects for understanding the interaction between nuclear and cytoplasmic silencing processes. 71 ref.

2000, May 28 The Sunday Herald
Monsanto GM seeds contain 'rogue' DNA.
Summary:
Monsanto told the Sunday Herald it was about to submit the first full analysis of the genetic sequences in Roundup Ready soybean for publication in a scientific journal. "We've identified two inactive pieces of the Roundup Ready gene in addition to the complete Roundup Ready gene within Roundup Ready soybeans," said Dan Verakis, a spokesman for the company.

Monsanto has been informing regulatory agencies around the world of the discovery. "Those two pieces were present within the soybeans used in all original safety tests and hence do not change the conclusion by global regulatory authorities that Roundup Ready soybeans are as safe and nutritious as conventional soybeans," claimed Verakis.

But Charlie Kronick, head of Greenpeace's anti-GM campaign in the UK, argued that the company's findings heightened worries about safety. "Imports of contaminated seeds have left the UK and the rest of Europe reeling from further revelations of the biotechnology industry's failure to control their products," he said. "Now Monsanto announces a new discovery concerning the genetic make-up of their first GM product. After years on the market, Monsanto reveals that neither the industry or the regulators actually know what genes are in it. What else don't we know?

2000, March 21 Los Angeles Times
Errors Found In Patent For Aids Gene, Scientists Say; Biotech: News Comes Amid Concerns That Genomics Race Could Lead To Shoddy Science And Profiteering.
Summary:
Scientists have found at least four significant errors in a newly issued patent of a human gene that plays a role in AIDS infection. The mistakes in the description of the chemical makeup of the gene raise questions about the rush to patent genes and could loosen Human Genome Sciences Inc.'s hold on the patent, genetics experts told the Times. his is a perfect example of the rush to sequence (human said Christopher Broder, a former member of a National hey get Researchers say the gene is responsible for the production of a protein that sits on the surface of a cell and is used by the AIDS virus as a docking site. Scientists targeted the gene after learning that people who have defective copies of the gene are resistant to HIV infection. Broder said he did a quick comparison of the amino acid building blocks of the protein described in the company's patent and he said he found that four of the 352 amino acids in the protein were incorrectly identified.

2000, October 9 Financial Times (London)
Modified beet seed dropped after trial mistake.
Summary:
A German biotech company has unwittingly produced a genetically modified beet that is resistant to two of the most used herbicides. But cross-pollination from another trial rendered the beet resistant to "Roundup", another leading herbicide. The mistake was discovered when the beet in question was tested in 39 German trials and a further nine across Europe including the UK, France and the Netherlands. All of the affected seed was withdrawn.

2000, February 22 Reuters
Europe allows patent on human cloning – by mistake.
Summary:
The European Patent Office said on Monday it made a mistake in recently granting a patent to a process that could include the cloning of humans. The Munich-based office granted Edinburgh University a patent on altering cells and human embryos in December, but the decision only came to public attention after the environmental group Greenpeace issued a critical statement on Monday. said patent office spokesman Rainer t could be seen to embrace the cloning of humans. hat's missing is the disclaimer that it does not refer to Osterwadter said his office could not immediately reverse the decision, but would have to wait for outside parties to file their opposition to the patent.

2001, January 11 Guardian
Lab creates killer virus by accident – Special report: the ethics of genetics.
Summary:
Australian scientists who made a killer virus by accident have raised the spectre of biological weapons in the hands of terrorists or rogue states. The virus kills mice, not humans. The researchers were actually working on a mouse contraceptive vaccine for pest control, according to New Scientist today.

But they started with a mousepox virus that normally made laboratory mice feel mildly ill. They inserted an extra gene, and ended up with a virus that wiped out all animals in nine days. The result astonished them: the Il-4 killed the mice by shutting down a vital part of their immune system. It also made the engineered virus unnaturally resistant to normal vaccines.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 22 Jan 2001 12:51:07 -0600
From: Jason Boehk jasonab@fiam.net

LA Times on GM soy beans

The latest newsletter from a food co-op I belong to contained the following mention of an important article by Marc Lappe. (I don't think the text of the article has been posted to this list yet):

"A recent article in the L.A. Times indicates that the most commonly consumed genetically-modified soybeans have

Since genetically-modified food products are not required to be labeled as such, the only way to know weire not selling you genetically-modified soy nuts is to make the switch to organic. Let us know what you think of this change [to stop selling non-organic soybeans]."

See the following article.


Top PreviousFront Page

Date: 22 Jan 2001 15:07:34 -0600
From: joe jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

Barbara Keeler Is a Medical Writer. Marc Lappe, Former Head of California's Hazard Evaluation System, Is the Author of "Against the Grain" and Director of the Center for Ethics and Toxics

Some Food for FDA Regulation – GE Soy is different

By BARBARA KEELER, MARC LAPPE
LA Times Health News, Sunday, January 7, 2001
http://www.latimes.com/health/news/20010107

WASHINGTON – Despite consumer pleas, the Food and Drug Administration has declined since 1992 to require that genetically modified food seeds be proved safe for consumption before their release into the food supply. Nor does the FDA require ingredient labels for genetically modified foods. Instead, the agency encourages producers to voluntarily submit safety data. Its rationale is that genetically modified foods are substantially equivalent to their conventionally grown counterparts. In other words, food is food, and according to food and drug law, foods are presumed safe.

The flaw in this policy is that the presumption of equivalence does not rest on a substantial body of research comparing genetically modified and conventional foods. Far from being confirmed by extensive research, this presumption is challenged even by the producers themselves, notably in a study that Monsanto conducted on one of its biotech foods. Rather than prove safety, this study raised red flags that should have prompted researchers and the FDA to call for more testing. Instead of requiring further testing, the FDA allowed the most commonly consumed genetically modified soybeans, which are produced by Monsanto, to flood the market and rapidly pervade the food supply.

To create its soy, Monsanto scientists spliced a gene from a bacteria into a soybean seed that instructed it to grow even when sprayed with Monsanto's potent weed killer, Roundup. Accordingly, when Roundup is sprayed on soy fields, Monsanto's Roundup Ready soy plants are left standing while nearly everything else is smoked. This strategy is not exclusive to Monsanto. The most common genetically modified foods that the FDA regulates tolerate a specific herbicide manufactured by the company engineering the seed. Consumers don't benefit, but sales of the companies' herbicides soar.

Herbicide-tolerant plants survive weed killers, but what about the health of consumers who eat genetically modified beans? According to the FDA's 1992 policy, Monsanto was not required by law to prove the safety of its beans to the FDA before marketing Roundup Ready soybeans. This regulatory effect must be corrected. Toward that end, legislation compelling the FDA to require premarket proof of safety for all genetically modified food seeds should be passed.

Monsanto did turn over a study to the FDA in 1994. Eventually published by the Journal of Nutrition in March 1996, the study claimed to prove that Roundup-tolerant soybean seeds are equivalent to con- ventional ones. But combined data from the study's three experiments showed significant differences in fat, carbohydrates, ash and some fatty acids. Also, the brain-boosting vitamin choline was 29% lower in Roundup Ready lecithin, which is commonly used as a source of choline.

Monsanto's researchers decided in advance to test Roundup Ready soybeans that would differ in important respects from the beans people would eventually eat. While both the tested beans and those on the market carried the Roundup-tolerant gene, the Roundup Ready beans now common in food products were actually treated with Roundup; the ones Monsanto tested and fed to animals were not.

Beyond differences in nutrient content, the findings also raised questions about allergens. Allergic reactions are most commonly triggered by undigested proteins. One table in Monsanto's study shows that, relative to conventional soy meal, raw Roundup Ready soy meal contained 27% more trypsin inhibitor, a potential allergen that interferes with protein digestion and has been associated with enlarged cells in rat pancreases. This important measurement was camouflaged in a table on unrelated information.

Because its policy does not require premarket proof of safety or equivalence for genetically modified food, the FDA had little basis for rejecting the study's results. Perhaps more important, the FDA did not see all the data, specifically, that from Experiment 1, the first of the study's three experiments. According to FDA representatives, the agency did not ask to see the data.

What did the omitted data show? Significantly lower levels of protein and one fatty acid in Roundup Ready soybeans. Significantly lower levels of phenylalanine, an essential amino acid that can potentially affect levels of key estrogen-boosting phytoestrogens, for which soy products are often prescribed and consumed. And higher levels of the allergen trypsin inhibitor in toasted Roundup Ready soy meal than in the control group of soy. Even more unsettling was one measurement of trypsin inhibitor in toasted Roundup Ready soy meal that exceeded what the authors reported as the highest levels measured for soybeans by other researchers. After a second toasting, the levels of another allergen, called lectin, in Roundup Ready soy meal, were nearly double those in conventional beans.

Monsanto also conducted a study of the effects of consuming its genetically modified beans, which was also presented to the FDA. Besides possible allergic reactions, what might be expected from consuming higher levels of trypsin-inhibitor and lectin? Slower, or lower, growth, for starters. That is what happened to male rats fed unprocessed meal from Roundup Ready soybeans. Compared with controls, cumulative body weight gains were significantly lower in male rats fed Roundup Ready soy. Although the growth of dairy cattle was not affected, higher levels of fat were measured in the milk of cows fed Roundup Ready soy meal.

These analyses did not reveal all the differences between Roundup Ready and conventional beans. In May 2000, Monsanto reported to the FDA the discovery of a genetic surprise package in its soybeans. When company scientists spliced the Roundup-tolerant gene into the bean, they accidentally threw in two extra gene fragments. Not to worry, according to Monsanto representatives: The gene fragments were contained in the Roundup Ready beans approved by the FDA in 1994 and have been consumed nearly worldwide ever since.

But this discovery further challenges the presumption of equivalence between genetically modified and conventional foods, while undermining the contention that genetic engineering is precise or predictable. Even so, the genetic hitchhikers, like the red flags in the 1994 study, were barely mentioned in the U.S. media and did not appear to raise FDA concern.

Do Monsanto's own findings prove that Roundup Ready soy products will slow or stunt growth in animals and children, or change the fat content of milk in cows and breast-feeding mothers? Of course not. Do they prove that all Roundup Ready soy will always contain more allergens and less protein? No.

But the studies do confirm that transgenic foods need rigorous testing –by someone other than the affected industries and the researchers they fund –before they're released into the food supply. They also suggest that consumers may not be adequately protected when the FDA leaves the question of biofood safety up to the companies selling the biofoods.

A promised and long-awaited revision of FDA biotech-food policy is expected to make some improvements in oversight, but as outlined in the agency's press release, it is expected to fall far short of what is needed to ensure the safety of biotech foods. In drafting its 1992 policy, FDA representatives relied primarily on an opinion by FDA attorneys that food and drug law did not give the agency responsibility for labeling transgenic foods, and the relevant food and drug law has not changed.

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) have introduced legislation calling to alter this situation. The Genetically Engineered Food Safety Act, co-authored by Kucinich, provides for mandatory safety testing of genetically modified foods before they are released into the food supply.

Many food-safety activists target food manufacturers, food retailers and fast-food chains when demanding a recall of genetically modified foods. Given the pervasiveness of biofoods in the marketplace, and the challenges in detecting them, their time and energy would be better spent supporting legislation proposed to change regulatory policy that victimizes food manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike.


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: rwolfson@concentric.net

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.