25 January 2001
Table of Contents
References Problems With The Technology (01/23/01)
References GMO Contamination
Tasmania gets rave reviews for its ban on genetic engineering
How Biotech Companies Ward Off Regulation and Competition
DENMARK: Genetically modified bacteria accidents at Danisco prompt investigation
CASHING IN ON LIFE
Date: 23 Jan 2001 11:07:05 -0600
From: Cliff Kinzel
References Problems With The Technology (01/23/01)
- 1992, P. Meyer, Linn, F., Heidmann, I., Meyer, H., Niedenhof, I., and Saedler, H. Molecular Genes and Genetics, 231, 345-352
Endongenous and environmental factors influence 35S promoter methylation of a maize A1 gene construct in transgenic petunia and its colour phenotype.
30 000 transgenic petunia plants carrying a single copy of the maize A1 gene, encoding a dihydroflavonol reductase, which confers a salmon red flower colour phenotype on the petunia plant, were grown in a field test. During the growing season plants with flowers deviating from this salmon red colour, such as those showing white or variegated phenotypes and plants with flowers exhibiting only weak pigmentation were observed with varying frequencies.
While four white flowering plants were shown at the molecular level to be mutants in which part of the A1 gene had been deleted, other white flowering plants, as well as 13 representative plants tested out of a total of 57 variegated individuals were not mutants but rather showed hypermethylation of the 35S promoter directing A1 gene expression.
This was in contrast to the homogeneous fully red flowering plants in which no methylation of the 35S promoter was observed. While blossoms on plants flowering early in the season were predominantly red, later flowers on the same plants showed weaker coloration. Once again the reduction of the A1-specific phenotype correlated with the methylation of the 35S promoter. This variation in coloration seems to be dependent not only on exogenous but also on endogenous factors such as the age of the parental plant from which the seed was derived or the time at which crosses were made.
- 1997, R. A. Robinson Biotechnology and Development Monitor, 33,
The Acceptance of Horizontal Resistance in Crops.
For more than ninety years the two schools of genetics, the Mendelians and the biometricians, have been scientific rivals. The conflict polarized into the relative merits of single-gene resistance and poly-gene resistance. At present the argument still continues, but single-gene resistances firmly dominate plant breeding. However, the temporary nature of vertical resistances makes crops more susceptible to pests.
- 1999, D. Y. Lanclos, E. P. Webster, J. L. Griffin, S. D. Linscombe and S. D. Zhang Weed Science Society of America Abstracts, 39,
Tolerance of glufosinate-resistant rice lines to glufosinate.
A study was conducted in 1998 at the Rice Research Station near Crowley, LA to evaluate rice injury and yield in glufosinate-resistant rice lines, associated with glufosinate applications throughout the growing season. Glufosinate-resistant rice lines 'CPRS PB-13' and 'BNGL HC-11', were drill seeded in a Crowley silt loam soil. Glufosinate was applied at a rate of 0.84 kg ai/ha in single weekly applications starting 2 d after emergence (DAE) and continuing through 56 DAE.
A weekly treatment of glufosinate at 0.42 kg/ha was added for comparison. Injury for the two lines consisted of chlorosis with some necrosis in the BNGL HC-11 at the first two application timings. At 5 d after the 2 DAE application, rice injury was 14 and 33% for CPRS PB-13 and BNGL HC-11, respectively. 'BNGL HC-11' was injured 71% at 14 d after the 7 DAE application compared with 14% for CPRS PB-13. Yield for CPRS PB-13 ranged from 6674 kg/ha treated 56 DAE to 7382 kg/ha treated 21 DAE, with no differences compared with the nontreated.
BNGL HC-11 yielded 8596 kg/ha treated 35 DAE, which was greater than any other treatment; however, when treated 56 DAE yield was 5865 kg/ha which was lower than any other treatment. Weekly applications of glufosinate at 0.42 kg/ha did not reduce CPRS PB-13 yield compared to the nontreated; however, BNGL HC-11 yield was reduced 49% compared to the nontreated. Results indicate that excessive injury and yield reduction of glufosinate-resistant rice lines can occur if glufosinate is applied too early or too late in the growing season.
- 1999, Jan 15
First GM tolerance transfer is feared in Canadian OSR.
A CANADIAN field is thought to be the site of the first accidental on-farm transfer of herbicide tolerance between genetically modified and conventional crop plants. Last summer oilseed rape grower Tony Huether was surprised to see volunteers thriving after two Roundup sprayings in a 140 acre field where no glyphosate-resistant rape had ever been sown. He had planted a glyphosate- resistant variety in a nearby field in 1997 and believes the trait was transferred by pollen movement. Mr Huether says no one told him GM traits could be transferred. "Monsanto never made farmers aware of the possibility of this happening when we signed the Technical Use Agreement]."
- 1999, W. A. Pline and K. K. Hatzios Weed Science Society of America Abstracts, 39,
Temperature effects on the response of Liberty-Link and Roundup-Ready soybeans to glufosinate and glyphosate application.
The influence of changes in temperature on the response of transgenic crops to herbicide treatments was investigated using soybeans engineered either with a metabolism-based resistance (Liberty-Link) or an altered target site resistance (Roundup-Ready). Liberty-Link soybeans are engineered with the pat (phosphinothricin acetyl transferase) gene, which is responsible for the metabolic detoxification of glufosinate, while Roundup-Ready soybeans are transformed with an altered EPSP synthase enzyme, which prevents glyphosate from binding to its target site.
Soybeans were treated at the VI growth stage and were grown in chambers with constant temperatures of 15¡, 25¡, or35¡C and 16-hour photoperiod for 3
days prior to and for 10 days after treatment. Liberty-Link soybeans were treated with glufosinate rates ranging from 0.25 to 2.0 kg/ha. Roundup-Ready soybeans were treated with glyphosate rates ranging from 0.5 to 4.0 kg/ha. Chlorophyll measurements revealed a rate-dependent loss of chlorophyll in glufosinate-treated Liberty-Link soybeans, which was greater at 15 rather than at 25 or 35¡C.
Conversely, chlorophyll loss in glyphosate-treated Roundup-Ready soybeans was greater at 35 than at 15 or 25¡C. The rates of absorption, translocation and metabolism of C glyphosate in Roundup-Ready and C glufosinate in Liberty-Link soybeans were examined under the three temperature regimes in order to explain their observed injury to these herbicides at 35¡C and 15¡C, respectively. The results of these studies will be reported.
- 2000, April 7
Big Isle papaya crops tainted.
Agriculture board chair Nakatani said market economics have forced the papaya industry to rethink its much-vaunted genetically-engineered plant strains. The japanese market, looked to as a source of 40 percent of potential sales, has slammed the door on transgenic fruit, Nakatani said. Rainbow papayas have a brief shelf life before turning mushy, and they tend to be oversized, making them more expensive to ship. Rainbow variety is showing signs of being less disease-resistant than advertised.
- 2000, APRIL 8
N.M. Diabetic Sues Over Insulin.
A class-action lawsuit against Eli Lilly and Co. and Novo Nordisk alleges the drug makers' biosynthetic insulin products can hurt diabetics. The lawsuit, filed last week in Federal court in New Mexico, also contends the two companies have recklessly reduced the production alternative medications.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Suzan Kawulok, a diabetic from New Mexico. She wrote on a dia-betes Web site that she took Lilly biosynthetic insulin, called Humulin, in 1987, and it caused "unbearable pain and loss of most use (of) my arms." She went back to animal insulin then tried the biosynthetic version again in 1998 and experienced the same problems, she said.
The 18-page lawsuit says Lilly and Novo Nordisk 'recklessly and maliciously discontinued or significantly reduced the manufacture of animal-based insulins knowing that diabetics had serious adverse symptoms" from the biosynthetic products. The lawsuit also alleges the two companies failed to warn patients that human insulin can cause injurious, life-threatening symptoms," including arthritic syndromes and a lack of awareness of low blood sugar. The suit also charges that the two drug companies failed to warn patients that biosynthetic human insulin Call cause "Injurious, life-threatening symptoms," including arthritic syndromes and a lack of awareness of law blood sugar......
- 2000, N. S. K. Al-Kaff, M.M.; Covey, S.N.; Pitcher, R.; Page, A.M.; and Dale, P.J. Nature Biotechnology, Volume 18, Number 9, 995 999
Plants rendered herbicide-susceptible by cauliflower mosaic virus-elicited suppression of a 35S promoter-regulated transgene.
Crop plants genetically modified for herbicide tolerance were some of the first to be released into the environment. Frequently, the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter is used to drive expression of the herbicide tolerance transgene. We analyzed the response to CaMV infection of a transgenic oilseed rape line containing the bialaphos tolerance gene (BAR) from Streptomyces hygroscopicus, regulated by the 35S promoter.
Oilseed rape is susceptible to CaMV, but plants recover from infection. CaMV infection altered the expression of the herbicide tolerance gene such that plants became susceptible to the herbicide. The effect on transgene expression differed in infections with viral pathogenic variants typical of those found in natural situations worldwide. Susceptibility to the herbicide was most likely a result of transcriptional gene silencing of the transgene. Our results show that transgene phenotypes can be modified by pathogen invasion.
- 2000, P. D. Colyer, T. L. Kirkpatrick, W. D. Caldwell and P. R. Vernon The Journal of Cotton Science, 4, 232-236
Plant Pathology and Nematology: Root-Knot Nematode Reproduction and Root Galling Severity on Related Conventional and Transgenic Cotton Cultivars.
The root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita Kofoid & White), a widespread and serious pest of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) throughout the Cotton Belt, is managed in many areas in part through cultivar resistance. Recently, commercial cotton cultivars modified with genes for resistance to the tobacco budworm (Heliothis virescens F.), to glyphosate herbicide (e.g., Roundup, Monsanto, St. Louis, MO), or in some cases to both the budworm and the herbicide have been released.
The objective of this study was to compare the root-knot nematode resistance or susceptibility of several transgenic cotton cultivars with that of their unmodified parent cultivars. The cultivars were evaluated in a field naturally infested with the root-knot nematode and in a growth room in pots infested with the nematode. A dramatic increase in root-knot nematode susceptibility was seen in the transgenic cultivar, Paymaster 1560 BG, compared with its nontransgenic parent, Paymaster 1560.
Although only a limited number of cultivars were studied, the data demonstrate that differences in susceptibility to the root-knot nematode exist between some transgenic cultivars and their nontransgenic parents. These data indicate the importance of screening transgenic cultivars for resistance to pests other than the particular pest species targeted by the genetic modification before the transgenic cultivars are recommended for planting.
- 2000, W. K. Harris and W. K. Vencill Weed Science Society of America Abstracts Meeting of the Weed Science Society of America, 40,
Uptake and translocation of 14'C-glyphosate in glyphosate-resistant cotton.
Studies were conducted to ascertain the uptake and translocation of glyphosate when applied to glyphosate-resistant cotton as basal direct spray, a directed spray 33% up the stem, a single broadcast application, and a sequential broadcast application at match head square and first white flower growth stage. Glyphosate was applied at 1 kg ha-1 spiked with approximately 0.198 All plants were harvested five days after the last application, and plant parts were separated into vegetative and reproductive tissue per node, roots, stem, and terminal tissue. One-gram samples of dried plant materials were oxidized and counted using a LSC system. Four replications in a complete block design were used. Plants were grown in a controlled-environment glasshouse with 16-h photoperiod at 30/25 C temperature regime. Glyphosate uptake was similar between stages of growth when a directed base application was made. However, when glyphosate was applied 33% up the stem or applied broadcast to the whole plant either as a single or sequential application, glyphosate uptake at the match head square stage of growth was approximately twice that of glyphosate applied at the first white-flower stage.
Less than 3% of absorbed glyphosate was translocated to the root, stem, or terminal of cotton with any with any glyphosate application method at at both growth stages. When glyphosate was applied to the base of two-leaf cotton, there was an even distribution of glyphosate amongst vegetative and reproductive tissue. However, when glyphosate was applied to the base of cotton at the match head square stage, approximately 70% was translocated to vegetative tissue.
Applications of a single or sequential application of glyphosate broadcast or a single application 33% up the stem resulted in greater than 70% translocation of glyphosate to vegetative tissue at both stages of cotton growth. These data indicate that substantial levels of glyphosate are translocated to the reproductive tissues of cotton regardless of application type. (157A)
W. Harwood, J. Harden, S. Ross, S. Fish, J. Smith and J. Snape
Analysis of transgenic barley in a small scale field trial 29
John Innes Centre, annual report , 1999 -2000
Data from the 1998 trial showed that transgenic barley lines performed as well as non-transformed control plants and controls from tissue culture-derived parents, for several agronomic traits, including yield. For other traits, a significant difference was seen between transgenic and control lines. The transgenic lines were significantly shorter and also slightly later flowering'. We have found no evidence of pollen transfer after examining 10,000 progeny from the controls immediately adjacent to the transgenic plants. It was expected that pollen transfer would be very rare, as barley is principally a self-pollinating crop.
When we examined the next generations of the same transgenic lines in the field during 1999, there was evidence that the transgenic plants were more variable compared to the controls than those in the 1998 field trial. This could be because somaclonal variation, resulting from the tissue culture and transformation procedures, was more obvious in the later generations. These results show that transgenic lines need to be examined over a number of generations under field conditions to obtain the necessary data on transgene stability and agronomic performance.
- 2000, F. Meins, Jr. Plant Molecular Biology, 43, 261-273
RNA degradation and models for post-transcriptional gene silencing.
Post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) is a form of stable but potentially reversible epigenetic modification, which frequently occurs in transgenic plants. The interaction in trans of genes with similar transcribed sequences results in sequence-specific degradation of RNAs derived from the genes involved. Highly expressed single-copy loci, transcribed inverted repeats, and poorly transcribed complex loci can act as sources of signals that trigger PTGS.
In some cases, mobile, sequence-specific silencing signals can move from cell to cell or even over long distances in the plant. Several current models hold that silencing signals are 'aberrant' RNAs (aRNA), which differ in some way from normal mRNAs. The most likely candidates are small antisense RNAs (asRNA) and double-stranded RNAs (dsRNA). Direct evidence that these or other aRNAs found in silent tissues can induce PTGS is still lacking. Most current models assume that silencing signals interact with target RNAs in a sequence-specific fashion.
This results in degradation, usually in the cytoplasm, by exonucleolytic as well as endonucleolytic pathways, which are not necessarily PTGS-specific. Biochemical-switch models hold that the silent state is maintained by a positive auto-regulatory loop. One possibility is that concentrations of hypothetical silencing signals above a critical threshold trigger their own production by self-replication, by degradation of target RNAs, or by a combination of both mechanisms. These models can account for the stability, reversibility and multiplicity of silent states; the strong influence of transcription rate of target genes on the incidence and stability of silencing, and the amplification and systemic propagation of motile silencing signals. 3 pp. of ref.
- 2001, January 11
GMO Link To Decline In US Cotton Quality Feared.
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.
Felker said micronaire quality, a measure to determine the width of th fibre of the cotton, required by cotton mills for Memphis eastern and Texas cotton has become too coarse and variable. "There's no question we have a problem, both in fibre yield and quality," added Jack Hamilton, a cotton producer in Lake Providence, Louisiana.
Date: 23 Jan 2001 11:12:52 -0600
From: Cliff Kinzel
References GMO Contamination
- 1997, April 24
THE WESTERN PRODUCER
Canola seed recalled because of genetic contamination.
The federal government unwittingly allowed the sale of genetically modified canola seeds in 1997 that were "seriously contaminated," according to government documents that have only now come to light. Two varieties of genetically altered canola have been pulled off the market and seed is being recalled from farms because they carry the wrong gene, says the company that developed the varieties.
Two varieties of Limagrain's canola, which is resistant to the herbicide Roundup, were pulled from the market last week, said Ray Mowling, Monsanto's vice-president of government and public affairs. Monsanto said it detected a gene from the unapproved canola line during quality control tests two weeks ago, early enough for the seed to be recalled. Fields plowed under About 60,000 bags of the two varieties, enough for 600,000 acres, will be recalled.
- 1999, Dec 15
Dutch corn gluten market on hold on GMO worries.
The Dutch market in U.S. corn gluten, a major feed ingredient, has been thrown into confusion after environmental group Greenpeace charged that shipments contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) not approved by the European Union. The Dutch feed industry has agreed with the Dutch Dairy Industry Association not to use material from the recently arrived Flag Diamond vessel after analysis by Greenpeace showed presence of banned GMOs in corn gluten on the ship, spokesman Tim Browers of the dairy group told Reuters.
- 1999, May 4
Friends of the Earth PRESS RELEASE
Pioneer Maize Seed is Contaminated with a Illegal Variety.
Some of the Pioneer maize seed being sold in Germany, under the brand name "Benicia", which was turned over to police by BUND/FoE in Freiburg and analyzed by the official control laboratory, has been shown to be contaminated by a genetically modified (GM) variety which has not been authorized for cultivation in the European Union (EU).
- 1999, Dec 1
Environmental Science and Technology magazine
Growing evidence of widespread GMO contamination.
It is increasingly clear that GMO contamination of conventionally grown food is a serious issue. It now happens "quite often" that farmers are surprised to learn that crops they grew in the United States from non-GMO seeds test positive for GMOs when they reach Europe, said John Fagan, founder of Genetic ID of Fairfield, Iowa. Much of the GMO contamination that such tests reveal can be traced to practices that fail to preserve the identity of non-GMO crops, Dautlick said.
Commodities like soybeans, corn, and canola travel along a complex and convoluted path from the farm field to their ultimate destination on a consumer's table, passing through a series of grain elevators, transport trucks, ocean barges, ports, and food companies. Careless practices like not properly cleaning out a weighing bin can lead to contamination.
- 1999, July
Swiss soiled seed prompts tolerance question.
It was discovered by the Swiss Department of Agriculture that Pioneer Hi-Bred's non-genetically modified corn seed varieties, Ulla and Benicia, actually contained novel genes from a variety of corn genetically modified to be resistant to the corn borer, Bacillus thuringiensis. Before the contamination was discovered, Pioneer had sold enough Ulla and Benicia seeds to sow 400 hectares (roughly 0.5% of total corn cultivation in Switzerland), about 200 hectares of which had already been planted.
- 1999, Sept 14
Transgenic pollution a new concern.
But far from being welcomed at their distribution point, the chips made by Terra Prima, a certified organic producer in Hudson, Wisc. were discovered by an independent tester to contain traces of genetically modified corn, and their Netherlands importer was notified. The company chose to destroy 87,000 bags of their corn chips and essentially swallow $147,000 when they couldn't sell their product as organic a big bite out of a company with only about $4 million in total sales, says Chuck Walker, its president. He blamed the contamination on pollen from GM corn that was blown over from another farm and whose patented gene was the same one picked up in the test.
- 1999, October 14
Genetically Altered Wheat Flagged Thailand Detects Shipment Not Cleared For Commercial Sales.
Scientists in Thailand claim they found genetically modified wheat in a recent grain shipment from the Pacific Northwest. The news shocked Northwest agricultural interests because transgenic wheat hasn't been approved for commercia lsales and is grown only in test plots. Local agriculture agencies and scientists are trying to find out how the altered DNA got into the wheat that was sold.
- 2000, August 5
France Orders GM-Contaminated Soya Crop Destroyed.
The French government ordered on Saturday the destruction of 46 hectares of soya crop after tests revealed that the seeds had been contaminated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). A statement signed by four ministries said the contaminated soya seed had been planted in fields in the far south of the country around the Bouches-du-Rhone and Herault. It said that the seed contained between 0.8 percent and 1.5 percent of genetically modified material. It did not reveal which company had supplied the seed.
- 2000, August 7
Reuters, Greenpeace-Greece via Cropchoice News
Greece to Destroy 9,000 Acres of Biotech Cotton.
The Greek agriculture minister announced today that the country will destroy over 9,000 acres of fields planted with biotech-contaminated cotton. Greece says it will pay affected farmers an estimated 3.5 million dollars. It is the first time that a government has ordered the destruction of a biotech crop used primarily for nonfood purposes. Greek officials say that more than 6 tons of cotton seed imported this year contained GMOs, none of which are approved for commercial planting in the country. Greek farmers were the biggest victims of the latest mixup, which was caused by seed companies not keeping conventional varieties separate from GMOs. None of the seeds were supposed to be biotech.
- 2000, September 22
Kraft Recalls Taco Bell Shells with Biotech Corn.
Kraft Foods unit said on Friday it is voluntarily recalling all Taco Bell Home Originals taco shell products sold in U.S. grocery stores nationwide. Tests performed by an independent laboratory found, in certain samples, the presence of a variety of corn that Kraft had not specified for the product and which is not approved by U.S. regulators for use in food, Kraft said. The products being recalled are: Taco Bell Home Originals 12 Taco Shells, Taco Bell Home Originals 18 Taco Shells and Taco Bell Home Originals Taco Dinner containing 12 shells, sauce and seasoning. Consumers who have purchased the products should not eat them, and should return the packages to the store where they were purchased for a full refund, Kraft said.
- 2000, September 21
France finds traces of GM material in soybeans.
French authorities have detected traces of genetically modified (GM) material in seeds used to plant 40 hectares of soybeans, but said on Thursday that no decision has been made on whether to destroy the crop. Tests revealed the seed contained less than 0.002 percent of a GM organism that has been authorised for import and consumption in France, but not for planting, the Finance Ministry's competition and anti-fraud directorate (DNERF) said in a statement. It did not reveal where the soybean crop had been planted.
- 2000, October 13
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
Safeway withdraws taco shells due to biotech corn.
Food retailer Safeway Inc. said yesterday it had ordered taco shells removed from shelves at about 1,500 Safeway and Vons stores nationwide after learning that biotech corn intended only for livestock feed had been found in them. A protein in Starlink corn, which is engineered to resist European corn borers, is safe for animals but may cause allergic reactions in humans. Those could include fever, rashes or diarrhoea, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientists say.
- 2000, October 13
Mission Foods, Azteca Milling recall corn products.
Two units of Texas food producer Gruma Corp. said they were voluntarily recalling some yellow corn products because they possibly could contain a gene-spliced variety not approved for human consumption. The products, made by Irving, Texas-based Gruma subsidiaries Mission Foods and Azteca Milling, are being recalled due to concern that they could contain StarLink, a type of biotech corn developed by French firm Aventis SA that is approved for use only in animal feed.
- 2000, October 25
Biotech corn found in another brand of taco shells-groups.
A variety of biotech corn not approved for use in human food has been discovered in Western Family brand taco shells, the third time private tests have found contaminated taco shells, a coalition of environmental groups claimed Wednesday. The Genetically Engineered Food Alert, whose members include Greenpeace USA and Friends of the Earth, said in a statement it asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to recall Western Family taco shells.
- 2000, November 6
Foods Contaminated by Genetically Engineered U.S. Corn Found in United Kingdom, Denmark.
Friends of the Earth Europe announced a finding of food contamination by engineered corn grown and marketed in the U.S. but not approved for human consumption in Europe. The corn varieties is GA21, produced by Monsanto. FoE Europe commissioned laboratory tests, similar to those conducted in the U.S. to check for Starlink corn, on 31 products including tortilla chips, taco shells, polenta and corn flakes.
In the UK, the tests found that Phileas Fogg AuthenticTM Tortilla Chips and house-brand tortilla chips sold by grocers Safeway and Asda contained Monsanto's GA21 corn. Kims ZapatasTM, purchased in Denmark, also tested positive for the presence of GA21. The analysis was performed by GeneScan in Freiburg, Germany, one of Europe's top laboratories. FOE Europe is demanding that all the contaminated products be recalled.
- 2000, November 10
S.Korea recalls StarLink contaminated tortillas.
The Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) said on Friday it had recalled 14,528 kilogrammes of tortillas contaminated by StarLink corn. The KFDA also asked the U.S. embassy in Seoul to ensure no more exports of corn and processed food contaminated by StarLink corn, which is banned for human consumption in Korea, were made to Korea from now, its statement said. The KFDA also asked that further shipments of corn and processed food for human consumption should be certified as being free of StarLink corn.
- 2000, November 13
Kyodo News Service
Japanese Food Ministry: Starlink found in 10 of 15 samples of U.S. corn.
Two-thirds of samples of imported US-grown corn for use as animal feed tested positive to a genetically modified species known as Starlink which is banned in Japan, the farm ministry said Monday. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said it has found that 10 of the 15 samples it picked from the imports tested positive to the "Starlink" corn variety that has stirred concern among consumer groups.
In the tests from April through June, the samples were taken from freighters carrying the US-grown corn and animal feed factories, it said. ... Earlier, Japan suspended US corn imports after a complaint from a consumer group but recently restarted them following a US pledge to screen shipments for the presence of Starlink.
- 2000, November 3
Company Recalls Tortillas.
Wilson Foods Company said Friday it's recalling some corn tortillas because they contain traces of an unapproved variety of biotech corn. The corn, known as StarLink, is not approved for human consumption because of questions about its potential to cause allergic reactions.
- 2000, November 22
Biotech corn protein found in other seeds.
Material from a genetically engineered type of corn found in taco shells earlier this year has been discovered in a different seed, officials said Tuesday. "We don't yet know exactly what happened where and how," USDA spokesman Andy Solomon said. "We are working with the companies involved and others in the industry to learn more about the nature and the extent of the situation." Protein from StarLink was found in non-StarLink hybrid seed corn produced in 1998 and grown and harvested the following year.
Garst Seed Co., which discovered the problem, said it was trying to determine how the protein, called Cry9C, made its way into another variety of seed other than the StarLink brand and how widespread the mix up might be. "We're too early into it to know exactly how many units, bags may have been affected," company spokesman Jeff Lacina said. The seed's developer, Aventis CropScience, said Tuesday that it had conducted its own tests after several farmers announced they had found the StarLink protein in other types of corn. Aventis said it could not explain the findings.
- 2000, August 07
Biotech Cottonseed Mistake in Australia Feeds Fears Editors.
Frustration and alarm were the response of regulators of genetically engineered crops in Australia, thanks to a recent mixup by Monsanto of 69 metric tons of genetically modified cottonseed with conventional seed. On the eve of the joint Australia and New Zealand decision to implement strict GM food labeling regulations, the Interim Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, headed by Liz Cain, said it was "gravely concerned" by the Queensland cottonseed mixup.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard had been lobbying for a 1% threshold for GM labeling; on July 28, the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council instead set a 0.1% threshold, one of the strictest in the world. Now the IOGTR, in place until a firm regulatory regime is introduced next year, will do an audit of Monsanto's internal control processes to ensure that "such breaches are minimized in the future."
Monsanto notified the interim regulator on June 21 that an audit had revealed the seed mixup during the ginning process. IOGTR reported there was no risk that the contaminated seed would be replanted, posing potential danger of unknown spread of GM plants. The Australian Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee offered its opinion that no human health or environmental risks would ensue from the mixup.
- 2000, July 30
Muzi.com Lateline News
China wants labels on genetically modified crops.
China's quarantine officials want genetically modified crop imports to be labeled accordingly, and have begun searching for unlabeled crop imports, the China Daily newspaper reported. The newspaper cited Shanghai city's quarantine officials as saying they found genetically modified grains in a batch of Canadian canola seed imports.
- 2000, December 19
StarLink found in U.S. corn set for Japan food use.
Japan's Health Ministry has found StarLink corn in a cargo of corn awaiting shipment to Japan from the United States. The announcement came just a day after Japan's Agriculture Ministry said it had agreed to a U.S. plan for testing corn to be shipped to Japan for animal feed to ensure it does not contain StarLink gene-spliced corn. Japan has cut purchases sharply since late October when it found StarLink in Japan's food and feed products made from U.S.-imported corn.
Kyodo said the sample containing StarLink was among five that had tested negative in the United States but were sent to Japan for a second check under an agreed procedure between the two countries, The ministry has asked the U.S. government to halt the shipment of the 1,500 tonnes of the corn from which the sample was taken. The finding could be a blow to U.S. exporters after traders said Monday's agreement on the plan for genetic testing to detect StarLink biotech corn in exports for animal feed would likely spur Japanese buying of U.S. corn this week.
- 2000, December 27
Banned StarLink corn used for beer, processed foods in Japan.
The Health and Welfare Ministry said Wednesday it has confirmed that U.S.-grown genetically modified corn banned for consumption in Japan has been mixed with corn used for brewing beer and making processed foods. Of a batch of around 38,000 tons of corn imported from the United States, around 28,000 tons might have been blended with the StarLink variety, which has not been received safety clearance from the Japanese government.
It has been processed into foods and materials for industrial products and they have been sold by manufacturers to distributors in Japan, the ministry said. Around 17,000 tons of such corn has been used to make beer, starch syrup and other foods, according to the ministry. The ministry said it believes most of the beer made from the problem corn has been consumed but it has faced difficulty in tracking down the syrup as it is used in a wide range of products. Around 250 tons of the corn was sold to 60 food companies for production of confectionery and has been used, the ministry said. But the ministry believe this portion of the corn is no longer in the market as the 'best before' dates of the products have long expired.
- 2000, December 28
Hankook Ilbo Korea Times
Genetically-Altered Beans Found at Local Market Genetically altered beans have been found at a local market.
The Citizen's Alliance for Consumer Protection of Korea (CACPK) said yesterday that two kinds of genetically-modified (GM) beans were found after the Korea Gene Analysis Center analyzed 10 kinds of beans at its request. The two kinds were identified as bean sprout seeds from the U.S. and bean seeds that were allegedly grown in Korea. If they are domestic products, as merchants claim, not imported ones, it means that these kinds of beans have already been distributed said Park Hae-kyong from the watchdog for consumers' rights.
- 2000, November 6
GM maize is found in tortilla snacks.
Four leading supermarkets launched investigations today after tests commissioned by Friends of the Earth detected banned genetically modified maize in the stores' own-brand tortilla chips. The pressure group took a total of 20 foods from British supermarket shelves and sent them to a laboratory in Germany to be analysed for types of GM maize which cannot legally be sold in Europe. Friends of the Earth said its tests found GA21 'Roundup Ready' maize, developed by the biotechnology firm Monsanto, in three products including Safeway's and Asda's own-brand tortilla chips. Traces of another GM maize, DBT418, were found in own-brand tortilla chips sold by Sainsbury's and Tesco. GM traces were also found in two types of Phileas Fogg chips.
- 2000, October 17
Grocers Scramble to Pull Gene-Modified Corn.
Major U.S. grocery chains, including Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR news) and Albertson's Inc. (NYSE:ABS news), scrambled to clear their shelves of recalled products that might contain gene-spliced corn, but few are issuing public statements to let shoppers know which brands to return.
A concern they might contain a type of gene-spliced corn called StarLink that has not been approved for human consumption. Besides Safeway, chains such as North Carolina-based Food Lion, a unit of Delhaize America (NYSE:DZB news), and Massachusetts-based Shaw's Supermarkets announced their own voluntary recalls on Monday. With at least 35 chains pulling popular products ranging from taco shells to tortilla chips, consumers have a lot of labels to wade through, said the Consumer Policy Institute's Butler.
- 2000, October 20
Cargill has StarLink corn problem under control CEO.
Agricultural giant Cargill Inc. found an unapproved variety of biotech corn in some of its food grain supplies recently, but the company has the problem under control, its chairman said Friday. Chairman and Chief Executive Warren Staley said Cargill, like other agricultural companies caught up in the controversy, may have inadvertently processed StarLink corn for human food uses before implementing new testing procedures to identify and reject the grain at its food grain corn processing facilities. The testing technology became available to the industry only in recent weeks, he said.
- 2000, October 21
Corn Woes Prompt Kellogg to Shut Down Plant.
The Kellogg Co. has been forced to shut down production at one plant because the company could not find corn guaranteed to be free of a genetically modified grain approved only for animal consumption, food industry sources said yesterday. But two sources familiar with the situation, who asked not to be named, said the food giant, based in Battle Creek, Mich., had stopped production at the plant in midweek, and one said it remains closed.
- 2000, October 18
(AP) via NewsEdge Corporation
ConAgra Stops Producing Corn Flour.
ConAgra Foods Inc., one of the nation's biggest food makers, announced Tuesday that it has stopped making corn flour at a Kansas mill because it may have received genetically modified corn that sparked a nationwide recall of some taco shell brands. The mill, ConAgra's only corn flour plant, stopped processing corn on Oct. 11, ConAgra spokeswoman Karen Savinski said. ConAgra told its customers, a variety of food manufacturers, about the potential problem and asked them not to use the corn flour. How much corn flour might be involved was not immediately known, and Savinski declined to say how ConAgra found out StarLink may have been delivered to the plant.
- 2000, May 17
GMOs: Govt source says large-scale GM crops in 4 EU countries.
The growing of genetically modified crops on a commercial scale in four EU countries has inadvertently begun after imports of non-GM seeds from North America were found to have GM seeds mixed in, a government source in one of the countries told BridgeNews. The source said farmers in Sweden, the United Kingdom, France and Germany were thought to have planted the seed mixture for the current crop on as many as 10,000 hectares.
- 2000, November 1
300 taco, chip products recalled for bio-corn link.
Nearly 300 kinds of taco shells, tortillas, chips and tostadas were recalled from U.S. grocery stores and restaurants because of suspected contamination with a biotech corn not approved for human consumption, the Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday. In the most detailed list published to date, the FDA identified all the foods recalled by Mission Foods, a unit of Mexican company Gruma, which has been hit hard by the discovery of StarLink corn in its food products.
The company makes a variety of foods containing corn flour that are sold under American grocery store brands, as well as to restaurants. Mission initiated a voluntary recall on Oct. 13, but did not make public at that time all the names of the products recalled.
The FDA said the recalled taco shells, tortillas and chips included those served at restaurants such as Applebee's, Wendy's, Del Taco, Casa Solana and La Cantina. The list of Mission's recalled products also included many grocery store private label brands. They are Best Buy, Brookshires, Kroger Co., Food Lion, Fred Meyer, Kash-n-Karry, Rich Food, Shurfine, IGA, Albertson's Inc, Safeway Inc., Vons, Brookshire's, Bueno Comida, Food City, Sack'n Save, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
*** 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. ***
Date: 23 Jan 2001 12:45:37 -0600
Tasmania gets rave reviews for its ban on genetic engineering
Source: Farm Progress,
January 22, 2001
In our November 9 story,
GMO-free zones step
ahead, Cropchoice talked about areas where you won't find genetically
The Australian state of Tasmania, with a one-year-old ban on genetic
engineering, is one of the places we highlighted.
The state is a leader in forging GE-free zones. Last week, Peg Rugg, a
Green member of
parliament, received the thumbs-up for the Tasmanian policy during her
trip to Europe for a conference about biotech-free zones. Rugg
delivered a speech called, "The fight for a
The reasons to opt out of genetic engineering are many. But for
Tasmania, economics is
key. In short, GE-free production makes money for farmers. Export
Japan and Europe, want food that's free of transgenic organisms. The
has helped to put its farmers in a good place to take advantage of
The state's ban on biotech also extends to crop trials.
"We were warned against allowing crop trials where there is a risk of
escape of GE materials such as pollens, as this is the way that bans on
GE crops have been undermined
elsewhere," Rugg told Farm Progress.
Date: 24 Jan 2001 06:14:03 -0600
firstname.lastname@example.org (Jean Saunders)
You can bet your bottom dollar that the majority (if not all) of anti GM
food campaigners are also concerned about animal research/testing. As this
(animal research) has been a hot subject in the media of late, one of my
main concerns about the introduction of transgenic novel proteins in
food/feed is that the industry may conduct more experiments on animals to
find out whether GM food varieties are safe to eat in response to our call
for proof that it is!
Of course, our argument would be that there is no need to introduce GM foods
in the first place but I am really bothered about where this might all lead
Has anyone else thought about this and what we should do about it?
How Biotech Companies Ward Off Regulation and Competition
Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),
When it comes to the safety assessment of biotech products, we enter an
Alice in Wonderland world where words mean exactly what corporations
choose them to mean, as the following article on genetically engineered
pharmaceuticals makes clear.
In the case of food safety, for instance, the biotech industry argues
that if the chemical composition of their genetically engineered
products appears to even imprecisely resemble that of existing foods,
then they should be judged as being 'substantially equivalent' and no
further safety consideration is required.
'Substantial equivalence' is a completely vague concept which has not
actually been defined anywhere! This vagueness is, of course, extremely
helpful to industry, allowing a wide range of difference to be
encompassed without any safety or toxicology tests being required.
Yet when it comes to protecting their patents, the corporations are all
too eager to emphasize the totally novel and unique nature of their
products. Indeed in the case of their pharmaceutical patents, the
biotech industry's line of argument is the exact reverse of its claims
in regard to food safety. The industry argues:
This leads them on to challenge the regulators:
- living things cannot be easily standardized
- even slight differences can have a big impact on safety
- should we jeopardize public safety by assuming those minor differences
are irrelevant to the impact of the product?
The joke is that the production of GM food plants is *invariably*
haphazard, involving as it does the random insertion of transgenes into
plants with all the unpredictable consequences that are known to follow,
i.e. the plant's host genes can be silenced (inactivated) or
inappropriately switched on, resulting in either a deficiency in a given
protein or the presence of the wrong protein in the wrong place or in
the wrong quantity, and, in addition, the introduced gene may not behave
in exactly the same way in its new host as in the organism from which it
Yet there is normally no testing to see if the inevitable disturbance in
the plant's biochemical function, resulting from genetic engineering,
has unexpectedly produced novel toxins, allergens or reduced the
nutritional value of the food. Any differences introduced into the
plant's functioning are simply assumed to have no significance for
safety. In other words, public safety is jeopardized to suit the needs
of the biotech industry!
However, the biotech industry's apparently more cautious and sensible
rationale in relation to genetically engineered pharmaceuticals, should
not lead one to imagine that the corporate Humpty Dumpties are actually
guided in their own production of GE pharmaceuticals by such caution -
far from it!
For all their apparent concern about how even slight changes in
production can make a critical difference to the safety of a biotech
product, thus making it impossible, they say, for other producers to
simply replicate their products, when it comes to their own production
activities the biotech companies, according to the article, want to be
able to use new pharmaceutical production facilities without undergoing
new trials for the resulting products. And, needless to say, the
regulators generally allow them to do just that even though it
totally contradicts the same companies' defence of their patented
products from replication by others.
Thus the FDA apparently approved Avonex, Biogen's beta interferon, even
though in the clinical trials Biogen used a protein produced by another
For more on these issues in relation to GM foods see:
Breaking the chain Dr Michael Antoniou
Beyond "substantial equivalence" Dr Erik Millstone et al
The Morton-Pusztai debate on GM food safety
In relation to safety concerns and biotech insulin see:
Biotechnology Companies Try to Ward Off Generic Drugs
New York Times, Thursday 29th December 2000
Most lucrative brand-name drugs eventually lose their patent protection,
opening the market to generic products with lower prices. But one class
of drugs, which includes some of the most expensive products in the
world, is insulated from such generic competition.
These drugs are made using genetic engineering, and at present there are
no regulations allowing for generic versions.
But, with patents on many of the biotechnology industry's best-selling
drugs set to expire in the next few years, companies that make generic
drugs are pushing to change that, hoping to invade new turf.
Generic drugs can sell for a fraction of the price of the equivalent
brand-name drugs. Their low prices stem in part from the fact that
generic drugs can be approved for sale without lengthy clinical trials
to show they are safe and effective. Drug makers need show only that
generics are the same chemical and act the same in the body as the
But this applies only to drugs made using chemistry most of the pills
sold by big drug companies. There is no procedure for quickly approving
generic versions of so- called biologics drugs made from living cells,
like vaccines, blood factors and genetically engineered proteins -
because these drugs are regulated under a different law.
"What we need to do is get a regulatory pathway for generic biologic
approval," said William H. Nixon, president of the Generic
Pharmaceutical Association, which has about 150 members.
The timing could be right. Senator Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican, has
indicated an interest in updating the Hatch-Waxman Act, the 1984 statute
he helped draft that governs generic drugs. Moreover, surging drug
prices have provoked a public outcry.
"Some of the most expensive drugs in the world are biologics," said
Abbey Meyers, president of the National Organization for Rare Disorders,
which represents patients and also supports new regulations for generic
Cerezyme, for example, a drug made by Genzyme for a rare disorder called
Gaucher's disease, can cost more than $200,000 a year. The
blood-clotting proteins for hemophilia, produced by Bayer and Baxter,
can cost more than $100,000 a year, while some of the interferons for
cancer can cost tens of thousands of dollars, she said.
An anemia drug, erythropoietin, or EPO, made by Amgen and given to
patients undergoing kidney dialysis, sells for millions of dollars an
ounce and is one of Medicare's biggest pharmaceutical expenses.
But biotechnology companies plan to fight any new rules. The industry
maintains that its products, mainly proteins made by implanting genes
into bacteria or hamster cells, are hundreds or thousands of times
larger and more complex than chemical drugs. This makes it virtually
impossible for a generic drug maker to show that its product is the same
as another biotechnology drug.
Living things cannot be easily standardized like chemical processes, the
industry argues. What is more, even slight differences among drugs can
have a big impact on their safety and effectiveness. The Food and Drug
Administration has approved two versions of beta interferon, used to
treat multiple sclerosis, because slight changes mean that one has fewer
side effects than the other.
"Do we jeopardize public safety by assuming those minor differences are
irrelevant to the clinical impact of the product?" said Lisa Raines,
Genzyme's representative in Washington.
The F.D.A. also has reservations.
"There are significant unresolved scientific issues about how to show
`sameness' between complex biological macromolecules so that F.D.A. can
be assured that any generic biologic is safe, pure and potent as well as
`equivalent' to an innovator product," Margaret M. Dotzel, associate
commissioner for policy, said in a statement.
Some agency officials cite an incident in the 1950's when a slight
change in the production process led to a failure to inactivate
completely the virus used in the Salk polio vaccine. Some people
contracted the disease from the vaccine.
But the F.D.A. has in effect already approved one generic biologic.
Because of quirks in drug regulation, hormones are regulated as chemical
drugs, not biologics. And in 1997, the F.D.A. approved the Ferring
Pharmaceuticals generic version of Pergonal, an infertility treatment
sold by Serono that consists of two hormones isolated from the urine of
Serono sued to block the approval, citing slight differences between its
drug and the drug made by Ferring, a unit of Ferring B.V. Group Holding
of the Netherlands. But an appeals court sided with the F.D.A., saying
that the drugs do not have to be chemically identical, only identical in
terms of their clinical effects.
The market for generic biologics could be sizable. EPO has sales
exceeding $4 billion a year by Amgen and its licensee, Johnson &
Other drugs that could lose patent protection in the next few years
include human insulin for diabetes, beta interferon for multiple
sclerosis, alpha interferon for hepatitis and cancer, and growth hormone
for dwarfism and other conditions. Each of these drugs has worldwide
sales exceeding $1 billion.
Some generic drug companies are linking up with biotechnology companies
to acquire the expertise they need.
...Moreover, for all their talk about how even slight manufacturing
changes can make a big difference in drugs, biotechnology companies
themselves want to be able to build new factories without undergoing new
clinical trials. They can generally do this. Indeed, the F.D.A. approved
Avonex, Biogen's beta interferon, even though the company used a protein
produced by another company in Germany in its clinical trials. The
F.D.A. concluded the drugs were comparable and prevailed in court.
That could provide an opening for the generic companies. "If it's good
enough for the
branded industry to show comparability, it's good enough for us," said
Bruce L. Downey, chairman and chief executive of Barr Laboratories in
With hundreds of new biotechnology drugs under development, some
executives think cost pressures will eventually force changes to allow
"It's not reasonable to expect a company should have a lifelong monopoly
just because the molecule is larger," said George S. Barrett, president
of Teva Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. "I think the clamor on the consumer side
is going to force it to happen."
Date: 24 Jan 2001 14:50:53 -0600
DENMARK: Genetically modified bacteria accidents at Danisco prompt investigation
By Penny Leese, just-food.com correspondent
24 Jan 2001
Investigations have been initiated in Denmark after accidents with
genetically manipulated bacteria occurred at Danisco Cultor. The local
authority's technical and environmental committee decided on Thursday to
call in the Danish Forest and Nature agency, the highest environmental
power in the field. Danisco Cultor, based in Grinsted in
Denmark is the world's largest producer and supplier of emulsifiers.
The decision came after three separate incidents involving GM bacteria
in the company. The latest accident happened a week ago when a workman
accidentally pushed a valve so that liquid containing genetically
modified bacteria streamed out, reports Danish paper Jyllands Posten.
According to the local authority, the bacteria did not leak out
into the environment.
Date: 24 Jan 2001 14:57:58 -0600
From: Robert Mann
CASHING IN ON LIFE
For all youse who tooned in late, here is a superb article from 2y
ago which I believe will stand out decades hence as an intellectual tour de
You cannot well understand GM crops until you have absorbed the
wider "hybridity" picture which this article sets forth. You will never
regret the time taken to read it.
LE MONDE DIPLOMATIQUE December 1998