Genetically Manipulated Food News

24 February 1997

Table of Contents

European Countries delay CIBA's GE Maize
GE Herbicide Resistant Crops could damage Environment
Plants Resistant to ROUNDUP
Australia bans GE Foods
Codex Website Address

Back to Index


Austria, France and other European Countries Delay Release of CIBA's Genetically Modified Maize

On 18th December 1996, the European Commission granted authorization to release on the European market Ciba's genetically modified maize from the U.S. This maize was genetically engineered to contain at least 3 foreign genes:

  1. a Bt toxin gene to deter insects,

  2. a gene that confers herbicide resistance, and

  3. a marker gene that creates resistance to the antibiotic ampicillin.

However, immediately after Ciba Geigy's hotly disputed transgenic corn was approved, the Austrian government enacted Article 16 of Directive 90/220/EEC of the ECC to prohibit distribution of this maize on Austria's territory. The 15 EU member states have 3 months to decide whether to allow Austria's national prohibition.

Denmark, Sweden and Luxembourg have said that they are considering joining ranks with Austria, and some larger countries, such as the UK, may also join in. On January 27, the Belgium paper Le Soir published a fierce attack on the Commission's decision, stating that it did not reflect interests of consumers. At the end of January, the French government also announced that it would not allow the import of the maize unless the product was labelled. Consequently, the transgenic maize remains in effect banned in all EU Member States.


Dutch Study Concludes That Genetically Engineered Herbicide Resistant Crops could damage Environment

(REFERENCE: ENDS Daily - 20/02/97)

Genetically-engineered herbicide resistant crops will not be environmentally beneficial in the long term, according to a study prepared for the Dutch government. Dutch scientists concluded that herbicide resistance will encourage chemical dependence. They are urging farmers to view herbicide-resistant crops only as a "last resort".

The study was carried out by the official Netherlands organization for agricultural research, DLO-NL. Jos Bijman, a researcher at the DLO agricultural institute, said: "In the short term, herbicide resistant plant varieties may have environmental and economic benefits; but in the long term other weed management techniques would be more environmentally beneficial because they use less chemicals." Contacts: DLO-NL ( http://www.bib.wau.nl/dlo/ ); Jos Bijman, LEI-DLO, e-mail: w.j.j.bijman@lei.dlo.nl


SUPERWEEDS RESISTANT TO ROUNDUP

A review published in the Winter 1996 issue of the journal Resistant Pest Management describes how the use of crops genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate (also called roundup) could lead to superweeds that are also resistant to the herbicide. The author of the study, Dr. Jonathan Gressel, systematically refuted several common arguments that weeds would not develop resistance. These herbicide resistant weeds would make weed management more difficult and compel farmers to move on to other, often more toxic pesticides.

Dr. Gressel described how weeds can react to extensive spraying with the herbicide by developing resistance. He noted that since crops already exhibit resistance in varying degrees, variation will also likely occur in the weeds and lead to stronger weeds surviving. Dr. Gressel also explained biochemical processes leading to herbicide resistance. He challenged the argument that glyphosate's low persistence precludes development of resistance, because of the short life cycle of some weeds. He also referred to a recent case in Australia where ryegrass weeds developed resistance to roundup after only 10 sprayings of the pesticide. An additional mechanism for development of herbicide resistant weeds is cross-pollination between genetically engineered crops and wild relatives.


GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS BANNED IN AUSTRALIA UNTIL SAFETY REQUIREMENTS MET

Earlier this month, the Government of Australia enacted legislation banning for sale all food derived from genetic manipulation technology until health and safety requirements can be set. Consequently, only foods meeting these requirements would be allowed. Senator Bob Woods, Parliamentary Secretary for Health, said: "Tough guidelines guarding public safety and confidence will strengthen our system and underscore the integrity of Australia's food supply."


NATURAL LAW PARTY PERSPECTIVE

A number of individuals have been asking whether this Campaign to Ban Genetically Engineered Foods has any chance of success because we are up against enormously powerful multinational biotech companies and because genetically engineered foods are only one of many problems that need to be dealt with simultaneously.

The Natural Law Party agrees that this one problem is a symptomatic of an underlying weakness in society that needs to be addressed in order to solve the myriad of problems afflicting society. For this reason, the main thrust of the Natural Law Party is to improve the overall health and strengthen collective consciousness of society as a whole. Otherwise, we will always be using the "Band-Aid approach" to try to fix problems one at a time without removing the underlying weakness in society that allows them to occur.

Therefore, the Natural Law Party supports the widespread implementation of natural, prevention-oriented health care, innovations in education to develop inner creative potential, natural building practices, and various other well-documented programs that can improve the health of the individual and society. For instance, the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program is among the approaches that the Natural Law Party supports because of extensive research showing that this program can reduce overall stress in society and strengthen collective consciousness, thereby improving social trends.

Now, more than ever before, one sees increased levels of awareness of problems in society, indicating rising collective consciousness. For instance, problems that have been around for many years are now reaching public attention and the public is becoming less and less tolerant of such situations. However, we also see new social problems arising from the stress of our technological age.

At this time, the Natural Law Party feels it is critical to quickly implement all of the different programs that have been clearly shown to generally improve individual and collective health. At the same time, we need to address specific problems, such as the very urgent issue of genetically engineered foods, which threaten our entire world food supply. By addressing specific problems and the underlying weakness in society, we feel confident that we can succeed.


CORRECTION TO CODEX WEBSITE ADDRESS

The CODEX website listed in the last broadcast is no longer valid. For those in Europe who would like to contact their Codex representative to request mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods, to find your codex representative first look up on the website:

http://www.fao.org./waicent/faoinfo/economic/esn/codex/codex.htm

Choose the heading, CODEX contact point, and find the representative for your country, with their address, phone and fax number, etc. Input from you and others in your country and in other countries to Codex representatives could be critical to the decision of CODEX at their April meeting regarding the introduction of genetically engineered foods worldwide.

The last broadcast listed several additional points that could also be made to the CODEX representative.


Richard Wolfson, PhD

Campaign to Ban Genetically Engineered Food Natural Law Party

500 Wilbrod Street Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2 Tel. 613-565-8517 Fax. 613-565-6546 email: rwolfson@concentric.net . To receive regular news from the Campaign to Ban Genetically Engineered Food, please sent an email message to rwolfson@concentric.net, with the words 'subscribe GE' in the subject line. To remove yourself from this list, please send the message 'unsubscribe GE'

Back to Index