Genetically Manipulated Food News

30 August 1997

Table of Contents

Norway Acts Against Genetically Modified Food
Genetically Identical Monkeys
Patents Loophole and Human Genes
US Argic. Secretary Indicted for illegaly taking gifts
Resurfacing again?

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Now on the Internet

The Genetically Manipulated Food News are now on the Internet. Back issues up to the end of May are all found on

The August issue of the New Internationalist Magazine focusses on Genetic Engineering and biotechnolog. The issue provides an excellent series of articles that include a very thorough treatment of Genetic Engineering and related issues and implications.

Norway Acts Against Genetically Modified Food

On 18 June, the Norwegian Natural Law Party presented over 7000 signatures against genetically modified food to the relevant parliamentary committee. The same day parliament voted that all genetically modified food must be labelled, including foods containing modified ingredients. In addition, a ban was placed on all genetically modified products that might cause resistance to antibiotics etc. These bans reinforce the existing ban in Norway on the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment.

"These new initiatives show a strong increase in the level of awareness of the parliament since last summer when the party held its first press conference with Dr Fagan in Oslo"
says Odd Loset, Leader of the Natural Law Party of Norway. The newspaper of the biggest opposition party - "Senterpartiet" -referred to the Natural Law Party as the only party in parliament that wants a total ban on all genetically modified food.

Genetronics' Laboratory Equipment Crucial in Developing World's First Genetically Identical Monkeys

PR Newswire August 25, 1997

Oregon scientists reported this month in "Biology of Reproduction" that they have produced, for the first time ever, rhesus monkeys using nuclear transfer technology. The researchers employed electroporation, which is the application of brief, pulsed electric fields to biological systems, including cells. The electric field briefly opens pores in the cell membrane, allowing molecules to enter.

After fusing, the reconstituted primate embryos were transferred into nine Macaques, two of whom became pregnant and delivered healthy, genetically identical offspring.

NOTE: The results of the cases that did not work were not reported. In previous cloning experiments, deformed offspring were produced in addition to the reported cases that were reported as working.

Forest of Clones

Steve Usdin (Jakarta)

New Scientist August 23, 1997 -

Three-armed robots are key to Indonesia's ambitious forestry plan SUPERTREES that grow faster, straighter and larger than their conventional counterparts, could soon revolutionise the timber industry -thanks to a helping hand from robots. The trees will become a common sight in Indonesia once an automated plant near Jakarta opens later this year. The plant will be able to handle 10 million seedlings a year.

Tissue culture makes it possible to create plant clones with identical characteristics. But until now it has been too expensive for use in commercial forestry. Each group of cultured cells generates a cluster of shoots, which must be individually plucked and placed in a growth medium, where they turn into seedlings. "The main cost in tissue culture is the pair of hands that does the preparation," says Allan John of Forest Research, an agency of Britain's Forestry Commission.

Monfori Nusantra, a joint venture between the agricultural chemicals giant Monsanto and ForBio, an Australian plant biotechnology company, has found a way to use robots for some of the work. ... The robots drastically cut the cost of what had been a labour-intensive technique. ... ForBio's robots will be able to produce 750 embryonic trees an hour.

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:

Our website is: It now contains previous biotech articles from Alive, articles from Joe Cummins and John Fagan, other GE website links, etc.

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Patents Loophole could give Rights over Human Genes

August 29, 1997

LONDON INDEPENDENT from Dialog via Individual Inc. : A loophole in a new Europe-wide biotechnology directive might allow companies to patent human genes, according to the UK Patent Office. At stake is the multi-billion pound biotechnology industry, and future quality of health-care systems. If companies can patent the raw sequence of a gene, they can charge royalties from organisations which produce tests for the genes, and decide who is allowed to use the genes for scientific research. That will affect both patients and research. Many of those who backed the new European Union directive, approved last month, thought it would only allow companies to patent a method of locating or testing for one of the 800,000-odd human genes -each an individual stretch of DNA. About 6,000 have been identified so far. But some people now realise that the eventual law could be more wide-ranging, allowing companies far more rights over genes - and hence what scientific work can be done with them - than was intended.

The possibility allowing for such "gene sequence" patenting, which would in effect give companies commercial control over the use of a naturally- occurring substance, is buried in a clause of the directive, which will be debated next month by patents specialists from EU member governments.

A specialist at the UK Patent Office told The Independent: "There is a clause which says that a gene `may be patentable'. It's not entirely clear if that allows it or not."

Alastair Kent, head of the Genetic Interest Group (GIG), representing millions of people with genetic diseases, who lobbied in favour of the new directive, accepted yesterday that the loophole exists. "This is one of those issues where there's clearly a need for further work," he said yesterday. " It's one of those things which probably will have to wait for case law."

GIG, which has about 120 member organisations including Mencap, the Huntingdon's Disease Association, the Cancer Research Campaign and the Muscular Dystrophy Group, lobbied strongly in favour of the new directive, which MEPs approved in its first reading last month.

When a similar directive came before the European Parliament in 1995, GIG - - also headed then by Mr Kent - opposed it on the basis that it might allow gene sequence patenting.

Former U.S.AG. Secretary Mike Espy Indicted for Illegal Gifts-Independent Counsel

WASHINGTON, Aug 27 (Reuter) - A federal grand jury has indicted former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy on charges of taking $35,000 in illegal gifts from firms, independent counsel Donald Smaltz announced on Wednesday.

The 39-count indictment also accused Espy of lying to investigators, asking an Agriculture Department employee to falsify a document and having the government pay for a car that he allegedly used for personal travel in Mississippi.

Espy, a former Mississippi congressman, has maintained he is innocent. His attorney was not immediately available for comment on the indictment.

Espy was the first African American to be appointed agriculture secretary. He resigned in late 1994 with Smaltz's investigation already under way.

The indictment alleged Espy accepted gifts and travel from firms that had contracts with the Agriculture Department or were regulated by it. They were alleged to have included luggage, tickets to the U.S. Open tennis tournament, two pro basketball games and two pro football games, including the Super Bowl.

Many of the gifts were alleged to have come from Tyson Foods Inc and a cooperative, Sun-Diamond Growers of California.

Date: 27 Aug 1997 16:40:57 -0600

Re: Former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Indicted

From: i4crob@IDT.NET

Peter M. Ligotti wrote:


WASHINGTON, Aug 27 (Reuter) - A federal grand jury has indicted former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy on charges of taking $35,000 in illegal gifts from firms, independent counsel Donald Smaltz announced on Wednesday.

Dear Peter,

Is this resurfacing again? That's very old news ... from 1993-1994. Espy learned his gift-taking "skills" from his stint as a member of the House Agriculture Committee ... He was on the same committee that I found accepted $711,000 in bribes (PAC money) from companies with agriculture interests ... what a crook! Some of those cretins took money directly from Monsanto and stalled a milk-labelling bill in committee so that it never went to a vote!

Espy's biggest crime was the real reason he resigned and the one he was never indicted on. He started a PAC that was generating enormous illegal contributions for Clinton back in 1993 before the election. His resignation was actually a behind-the scenes deal ... remember how red-in-the-face Clinton became from all of the resignations and indictments of his key people ... Espy took the fall for his boss with the understanding that these "minor violations" would not resurface ...

He also openly solicited tickets to Chicago Bulls playoff games ... If Espy is guilty of Tyson foods payoffs (Tyson Foods is located in Arkansas) wait until Clinton's role surfaces. Smart money says that part will remain a secret. (Oops!)

One last irony ... after Espy resigned there was no Secretary of Agriculture ... guess who was appointed at that time to the post of Under-Secretary?

None other than Michael Taylor, Monsanto's attorney who came fresh from the FDA where he had written the regulations and standard operating procedures regarding genetically engineered food products.

Are you beginning to see a pattern?


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