Genetically Manipulated Food News

24 September 1997

Table of Contents

Genetically Engineered Bacteria Approved by EPA in USA
Co-op in Japan labels non-genetically engineered foods
Monsanto Strategy
Suppliers of non-Genetically Engineered Food
Aspartame Summary
Aspartame References

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Genetically Engineered Bacteria Approved by EPA in USA

On Tuesday, September 16th, EPA signed a Consent Order with Research Seeds of St. Joseph MO, which allows commercial production (500,00 lbs) of Rhizobium meliloti strain RMBPC-2.

This is a GE strain of nitrogen-fixing bacteria designed to be added to alfalfa seed to increase alfalfa crop yield. In addition to extra copies of the gene controlling nitrogen fixation it also contains a gene conferring resistance to streptomycin and spectinomycin.

This marks the first approval under the Toxic Substances Control Act for commercial use of an intergeneric microorganism in the environment, and as such it sets precedent.


Co-op in Japan labels non-genetically engineered foods

Nikkei English News via Individual Inc. : Shutoken Co-op Consumers' Co-operative Union in Japan has started placing labels on food items that include no ingredients made by genetic engineering. The new system covers 17 items, including shoyu, miso and tofu, distributed by the union, which covers 14 co-operatives in the Tokyo area. The move follows increased concern among co-op members about food safety. >Shutoken Co-op plans to expand the number of foods carrying the special label.


Guardian article on Monsanto strategy

The Guardian Wed, Sep 17 1997

IT'S EASY to miss even the biggest newspaper ads, when you're not looking out for them. The three pages in the middle of yesterday's Financial Times (FT) devoted to the corporate de-merger of a chemical company called Monsanto were not exactly riveting, even for many readers of the FT. But this was one advertisement we could ill-afford to ignore. It is one of the few public indications of the opening of a new chapter in the world's economic history. ... Monsanto has embarked on one of the most extraordinary and ambitious corporate strategies ever launched.

The story begins simply enough, with a single chemical. Glyphosate, sold to farmers and gardeners as "Roundup", is the world's biggest-selling herbicide. Last year, it earned Monsanto nearly $1.5 billion. But the company's patent on Roundup runs out in the year 2000. Far from sowing corporate catastrophe, however, this event seems likely only to enhance Monsanto's market value. For the past 10 years it has cleverly been developing a range of new crops, genetically engineered to resist glyphosate. Spraying them with Roundup does them no harm, but destroys all the weeds that compete. New patent legislation in Europe and the US allows Monsanto to secure exclusive rights to their production. The first "Roundup-Ready" plant Monsanto released was a genetically engineered soya bean. Between 50 and 60 per cent of processed foods contain soya, so the potential market is enormous.

...

As the new beans were snapped up by growers in the US, Monsanto began an extraordinary round of acquisitions, buying shares in seed and biotechnology companies worth nearly $2 billion in the past 18 months alone. Among its purchases are companies which produce the famous "Flavr-savr" tomato, own the US patent on all genetic manipulations of cotton, and control around 35 per cent of the germlines of American maize. Monsanto is now experimenting with new rice, maize, potato, sugarbeet, rape and cotton varieties. It has suggested that within a few years all the major staple crops on Earth should be genetically engineered. The new products are so attractive to many farmers that the company has managed to get them to sign away their future rights to the seed they grow, and allow Monsanto to inspect their fields whenever it wants.

Monsanto's new crops could not have become commercially viable without major legislative change. ... Despite significant public opposition, in July Europabio managed to persuade the European Parliament to adopt a new directive, allowing companies to patent manipulated plants and animals. Last week, the European Commission announced that it would force Austria, Italy and Luxembourg to repeal their laws banning the import of genetically engineered maize.

In the United States a Monsanto vice-president is, according to the St. Louis Post, a "top candidate" to become Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates the food industry. Researchers and lawyers from Monsanto already occupy important posts in the FDA. The administration has approved some of the company's most controversial products, including the artificial sweetener aspartame and an injectable growth hormone for cattle. Only the New York Attorney General's office has taken the company to task, forcing it to withdraw adverts claiming that Roundup is biodegradable and environmentally friendly.

But Monsanto has been most successful when appealing to multilateral bodies. Last month, the World Trade Organisation confirmed its ruling that the European Union can no longer exclude meat and milk from cattle treated with bovine growth hormone, despite the protests of farmers, retailers and consumers. As Scientific American magazine claimed, Monsanto's clinical trials of the drug were incompletely analysed, obscuring the fact that it increases the number of infected udder cells in cows by about 20 per cent. Biotech firms are now trying to persuade the World Trade Organisation to forbid the labelling of genetically engineered foods. Any country whose retailers tell consumers what they are eating would be subject to punitive sanctions.

With astonishing rapidity, a tiny handful of companies is coming to govern the global development, production, processing and marketing of our most fundamental commodity: food. The power and strategic control they are amassing will make the oil industry look like a cornershop.

More successfully than any other lobby, they are inhibiting the two remaining means of public restraint on their activities: government regulation and genuine consumer choice. All this will be a big pill for the public to swallow, which is why we'll be seeing a lot more of Monsanto over the next few weeks. It has just engaged an advertising agency for a major new "consultative" campaign - aimed at us this time, not just the City. It deserves our full attention. This may be the first and the last chance we'll get to tell the biotechnology companies what we think about their re-engineering: of both the stuff of life itself and the means by which it reaches us


Suppliers of non-Genetically Engineered Food

RECEIVED THIS INFORMATION TODAY FROM Su Shea IN AUSTRALIA.

If anyone has a list of companies suppling non-genetically engineered foods, I can post it on our website.

Richard

................................................

To campaigners on the issue of genetically-engineered food -

I have recently located a North American supplier of guaranteed non-genetically-engineered SOYA PROTEIN and SOYA OIL. I feel that this information belongs on a Website with information on suppliers of other non-genetically-engineered food suppliers.

MANNA INTERNATIONAL
CONTACT - JONATHAN STEWART or GERRY FOWLER
128 MARCH ST.
SAULT ST. MARIE
ONTARIO
P6A 2Z3, CANADA
PHONE: +1 705 946 2662, FAX: +1 705 256 6540
E-MAIL: intnl@sympatico.ca

If you can help, I would be very interested in details of companies supplying guaranteed non-genetically-engineered LECITHIN - thanks.

Best wishes, Martin Oliver

Warm regards

Su Shea, for the team at Permaculture International
PO Box 6039 South Lismore
NSW 2480 Australia
Ph:int+ 61 (0)66 220020 Fax:int+ 61 (0)66 220579
http://www.nor.com.au/environment/perma

Here is a summary that I recently recieved of the dangers of Aspartame. One othe ingredients of Aspartame is apparently genetically engineered, though there are a number of other problems also associated with this product, as summarized below.

Aspartame

The artificial sweetener aspartame (also called NutraSweet, Equal, and Spoonful) is a very serious example of dangerous substances approved for consumption. Aspartame breaks down into several toxic compounds, including methyl alcohol, aspartic acid, and DKP (aspartylphenylalanine diketopiperazine), which are known to interfere with mental processes, attack the nervous system, and damage internal organs (Blaylock 1994, Monte 1984, Olney 1988, Posner 1976, Olney 1996, Shephard 1993, Tsang 1985). In the human body, methyl alcohol is converted to formaldehyde which has been shown to cause immune system damage and genetic damage at exceptionally low doses (Main 1983, National Research Council 1981, Wantke 1996).

Published research and over 10,000 consumer complaints that implicate aspartame with dozens of symptoms, including

It is estimated that these 10,000 official complaints amount to less than or equal to 1% of the actual number of recognized toxicity damamge reactions (Gold 1997a, Huff 1996). In 1995 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published an *Adverse Effects of Aspartame Report*, listing not less than 92 reasons to avoid it (DHHS 1995).

However, aspartame is in over 5000 different food products (Geha 1993, Trefz 1994). Only very extensive lobbying and severely flawed scientific research by industry (Gold 1995, Gordon 1987, Gross 1987, Walton 1996) has kept aspartame on the market in North America in spite of concerted opposition from consumer groups, doctors, researchers, and concerned citizens.

References


Richard Wolfson, PhD

Campaign for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods

Natural Law Party, 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.

To receive regular news on genetic engineering and this campaign, please send an email message with 'subscribe GE' in the subject line to rwolfson@concentric.net To unsubscribe, please send the message 'unsubscribe GE'

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