Genetically Manipulated Food News

16 November 1997

Table of Contents

Greenpeace on Legal Protection of Biotech Inventions
Prince Charles on GE
Canadians take action for Labeling GE Foods
GE Cotton Used in Medicine Poses Threat
Seeds of Discontent: Cotton Growers Say Strain Cuts Yields
GE penetration of the US-Market

Back to Index

Greenpeace on Legal Protection of Biotech Inventions

Greenpeace briefing on the amended proposal for a European Parliament and Council directive on the legal protections of biotechnological inventions (COM (97) 446 final)

Industry Greed Overrides Moral and Ethical Concerns

1. Introduction

National governments are due to come to a common position on the proposal for a directive on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions this year. Greenpeace considers the European Commission amended position is untenable and does not reflect concerns of broad cross-section of society.

In 1995, after seven years of debate, the European Parliament rejected a proposal for a directive on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions on moral grounds. However, in 1996 the Commission introduced another proposal which was almost identical to that thrown out by the Parliament. It allows for patents on plant varieties, animals, human cells and genes.

The new proposal was considered by the Parliament in July 1997 and made 66 amendments to the Commission's text. During this process the Parliament succumbed to intense pressure from industry and abandoned many of the moral principles which underlay its rejection in 1995. Profit and greed has been allowed to become the driving force.

The Commission has considered the Parliament's amendments and produced an amended proposal (COM (97) 446 final) to be considered by the Council. Under the amended proposal:

Greenpeace believes EU member states must not accept the Commission's amended proposal.

2. Plant varieties will become patentable

In direct contravention of the European Patent Convention, of which all European Union countries are members, plant varieties are patentable under the Commission's proposals. Although Article 4 (1) of the Commission's amended proposal states that plant varieties are not patentable, this is rendered meaningless by the following sentence. Under part 2 of Article 4, if the technique to be patented is applied to more than one variety, any varieties developed from it become patentable. Lawyers will simply draft patent applications to exploit this loophole.

However, this loophole is in complete contradiction to the European Patent Office's interpretation of the exclusion of plant varieties from patent protection. In a ruling from the highest board of the European Patent Office, it was stated that the exclusion to patentability of plant varieties could not be avoided by claiming many plants which would include plant varieties (OJEPO 1995, T356/93). The large agrochemical companies now genetically engineering crops did not like this decision as it might restrict their profits, so they have pressured the Commission and Parliament into helping create a legal loophole.

The exemption of plant varieties from patent protection is to protect the interests of plant breeders who do not use genetic engineering but rely on traditional breeding methods. Plant breeders can only claim plant variety rights which do not give the extensive monopoly protection that patents do. Having plant varieties that are patented will either restrict the access of plant breeders to plant material or make it very expensive if they have to buy licences to it from other companies. This situation could threaten plant breeders livelihoods and could cost jobs.

3. Animals will become patentable

Allowing the patenting of animals reduces animals to objects to be used as industrial machinery with no obligations towards them. Under Article 6 (2d) of the Commission's amended proposal, the only situation in which animals are not patentable is if their suffering as a result of genetic modification does not result in `substantial medical benefit to man or animal..'

Animals engineered to have physical handicaps or deformities would be patentable for any purpose if they were not considered to be suffering. For example, a genetically engineered hairless mouse could be developed to test hair care products or cosmetics (the pharmaceutical company Upjohn has already done this). Scientists in America have transferred a firefly gene into a mouse so its ears glow. British scientists have created a frog embryo without a head and this technology will now be applied to other species. Under the Commission's proposal all these could be patented because it could be argued that having no hair, no head or ears that glow does not cause suffering. Unless the patenting of animals is completely prohibited, there will always be cases like these which greedy companies will try to fiddle through the system.

4. Claiming to be God - human genes and cells and those of all organisms will become patentable

Under Article 5(2) of the Commission's amended proposal, human genes and cells become patentable as do those of all other organisms. In order for companies to claim living material as an invention all a company has to do is to use some kind of technical procedure. Taking blood with a syringe and needle is a technical process and so is using a machine to identify its components. However, this is no justification for man to claim to have invented, and thus patent, parts of organisms which already exist in nature.

If patents are allowed on basic elements of humans and other organisms, industry place themselves as the creators and designers of life. Patents on cells and genes mean the company holding the patent decides how the genes or cells are used, how much is charged for their use and who can have access to them. This is a frightening prospect and fundamentally immoral.

5. The green light to steal genetic material

The Commission's amended proposal contains no requirement for companies to prove that they have acquired genetic material with the consent either of the individual donor concerned in the case of human material or, in the case of plants and animals, the country of origin. Although Recital 16(f) plays lip service to the need for consent, there is no Article in the proposal that would make this real although the European Parliament proposed relevant amendments in this area.

Companies may reap huge profits from genetic material freely given by individuals. Countries may have their genetic resources plundered by gene hunters and have no influence on how they are used or benefit from them. It will be the weakest and poorest people who will be most vulnerable to exploitation. Companies are already prospecting for genes among indigenous peoples in less developed countries and scouring the rain forests for genes with profit potential in the North. Not even ensuring that local people or their governments have been consulted and given permissions goes against basic considerations of human rights and any ethical foreign policy.

6. Massive scope will give companies a licence to print money

The scope of the monopolies that would be given under the Commission's amended proposal are huge and would not be allowed in the United States where they would be considered anti-competitive. Article 5 (3) only requires that the function of a full or partial gene sequence be disclosed in the patent, it does not require the use to which the gene will be put to be disclosed.

Asking for this information alone means that the patent would give rights to claim licence fees from anyone who later found a practical use for the invention. In the United States, all patents have to have `utility', that is the industrial use must be disclosed and the scope of the invention is restricted to that use. This is to ensure that companies are not given excessive rewards and competition is not stifled.

7. Confusion will be created not harmonisation

One of the claimed intentions of the proposed Directive is to harmonise patent law in the field of biotechnology throughout the European Union and to `clarify the _ uncertainty' (Recital 8a). However, all the EU Member States are signatories to the European Patent Convention (EPC), a non-EU agreement which also includes non-EU nations. Companies obtain Europe wide patents under the EPC. The European Patent Office, which administers the EPC, is already granting patents in the field of biotechnology many of which have proved hugely contentious.

An EU Directive cannot resolve conflict and controversy at the EPO because the EPO is not an EU body and the Directive will not change the EPO. Because the Commission's proposal is direct conflict with the EPC and case law relating to its interpretation, particularly in respect of plant varieties, no clarity will be achieved. If the EPO were somehow to take a signal from an EU Directive, they would be subject to challenge under the terms of the EPC.

8. Only profitable suffering to be relieved

There are three aspects of the Commission's proposal which will result in innovation in medical treatments being discouraged, especially for illnesses affecting relatively few people,:

If this Directive is passed, European citizens should be warned only to contract common illnesses if they wish to benefit from the claimed promises of biotechnology. Uncommon illnesses will not promise sufficient profit for pharmaceutical companies to be interested.

9. Ignoring societies concern

Animal welfare groups, development and AID organisation, scientists, farmers organisation, indigenous people rights and environment organisation and many others groups and organisations raised fundamental concerns about the patentability of life. The Commission ignored these concerns in its amended proposal.

The Commission's amended proposal claims to have taken all but one of the Parliament's amendments into account. However, there have been some subtle but crucial changes that mean even the weak position of the Parliament is further watered down:

10. Conclusions

The Commission's proposed Directive demonstrates just how greedy big businesses have become. In their drive for more profits the biotech industries are pushing society to be more corrupt and immoral. If the Directive is accepted in its present form, private interests will be able to claim they have invented life and control the design of new organisms. Companies will be able to choose who benefits from potential new treatments, deciding on the basis of how lucrative their illness and suffering is likely to be. Industry will be able to steal genetic material from people in Europe and abroad and profit from their plunders under the protection of the European Union.

None of this is about honest reward for innovation, it is about greed and power. The environment, animal welfare and human health are being sacrificed through the desire of the new biotechnology industry to grab monopolies, stifle competition and threaten the jobs of those in traditional businesses. The companies involved in pushing for patents are the same ones seeking to introduce genetically engineered foods no wants and which carry long-term irreversible risks to human health and the environment.

Not only are companies like Ciba Geigy (now Novartis) seeking to make Europe accept genetically engineered corn which contains an antibiotic resistance gene against the wishes of most European citizens, but they wish to have a monopoly reward in the form of a patent for this `invention'. They are showing no respect for the public interest or the wishes of European citizens, Europe should not reward them by giving patents on life.

Prince Charles on GE

Thanks to Cliff Kinzel for distributing this through the Ban-GEF newsgroup

Excerpt on Genetic Engineering from the 1996 Lady Eve Balfour memorial lecture delivered by HRH The Prince of Wales at the Banqueting Hall, London 19 Sept. 1996

Of course, biotechnology, genetic engineering, release of GMOs, call it what you will is a particularly emotive subject, and I do not intend to stoke those emotions tonight. I shall content myself with quoting from the January 1996 report of the government's Panel on Sustainable Development. They acknowledge, as I do, that the release of genetically modified organisms COULD lead to major advances in medicine, agriculture and the good health of the environment. Then they go on to say, crisply and clearly, that - and I quote:

"The introduction of GMOs must proceed with caution to ensure that any benefits now are not made at the expense of the safety and well-being of future generations and their environment. Once released .... a GMO cannot be recalled: the action is irreversible. More than in other areas there is uncertainty about the long-term outcome of human actions and of human ability to deal with the consequences. Introduced genes may over time spread to other organisms with consequences that cannot necessarity be foreseen.

And they end with a stark warning when they say, and again I am quoting their words:

"Unfortunately there are many recent examples of failure to anticipate problems arising from the use of new technologies (such as CFCs, asbestos, pesticides and thalidomide). Potential consequences are more uncertain where self-replicating organisms are introduced into the environment.

I am not sure I have much to add to that: except to say that I believe that we have now reached a moral and ethical watershed beyond which we venture into realms that belong to God, and to God alone. Apart from certain medical applications, what actual right do we have to experiment, Frankenstein-like, with the very stuff of life? We live in an age of rights - - it seems to me that it is about time our Creator had some rights too ...

I am sure that the Government's response, in the shape of a consultative process and a national conference, will be a great help. And it is, of course, reassuring to know that in this country we already have one of the most open and thorough regulatory systems in the world for assessing the possible consequences of releasing GMOs into the environment. But that system has not been designed to weigh up the benefits of this dramatic new technology against the risks, nor can it compare the biotechnological approach with more conventional ways of achieving the same ends.

At the moment, as is so often the case with technology, we seem to spend most of our time establishing what is technically possible, and then a little time trying to establish whether or not it is likely to be safe, without ever stopping to ask whether it is something we SHOULD be doing in the first place. I believe that this particular technology is so powerful and so far-reaching that we should seek ways of engaging a wide range of people and interests in a thorough ethical debate about how and where it should be applied.

I know that commissions are not altogether fashionable at the moment, and that they are only as influential as the recipients of their recommendations are prepared to make them, but I do wonder whether there isn't a strong case for a standing body, like The Royal commission on Environmental Pollution - which itself produced a crucial report on GMO releases, as long ago as 1989.

A Public Biotechnology Commission would provide a forum for discussion by people with knowledge and vision of the whole spectrum of possible effects, both good and bad. Such a body would help to bridge the gap that I believe exists between a tiny group of knowledgeable experts and the rest of us. At the moment I fear we are equally susceptible to the arguments of vociferous and plausible vested interests and to the somewhat apocalyptic scare-mongering of those for whom any scientific advance is anathema.

Canadians take action for Labeling GE Foods

Here is an example of a postcard that was recently designed locally.

The card can either be printed on cardstock, or put in an envelope and then mailed to members of parliament and other representatives.  Postcard

In Canada, the card or letter can be mailed free of charge to Ministers and members of health. Here are some addresses in Canada to send to:


Here is the cover letter that we are sending out to all those who request information on genetically engineered foods. We also include in the packet articles explaining what is genetic engineering, what genetically engineered foods are on the market, etc. We tried to make the letter as positive as possible, encouraging them to get involved in the campaign.



for mandatory labelling and long-term testing of genetically engineered foods
500 Wilbrod, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N2 * tel: 613-565-8517 * fax: 613-565-6546

Dear friends:

Thank you for your concern. The tampering of our food supply through genetic engineering is a very serious issue. In Canada alone, dozens of genetically manipulated food products are already on our shelves, unlabelled and mixed in with other foods, and hundreds more are in the process of approval. Please see our website address above for additional information.

Many people are asking what we can do to stop genetically engineered foods. In Europe, concerned consumers have been very successful in convincing major food chains to not carry or at least label genetic engineered foods. This was accomplished by having many people write to the head offices of these chains, expressing their concerns.

We are asking you to do whatever you can - such as contacting your food outlets or political representatives to let them know that you do NOT want to eat such foods. We need to keep informing our suppliers that we want high quality, natural food and we have a RIGHT to know about our food and whether or not it has been genetically manipulated.

We should never take the safety of our food for granted. The quality of food involves everyone's attention - consumers, retailers, farmers, distributors, regulators. We all need to take more responsibility for our own health and food supply.

Whatever we can do to promote our health and strengthen our immune system will fortify us to offset the negative effects of gene modified food. One thing we can do is to eat more ORGANIC food as this food is currently free of genetic tampering with the added benefit of being free of pesticides. Other ways for improving health and protecting ourselves from negative influences are promoted by the Natural Law Party. These approaches include natural, preventive medicine, Transcendental Meditation, and reducing toxins in the environment.

At times it seems our task is formidable - trying to turn this trend of modified food back to what is more natural and safe. However, by working together for the good of all, we can accomplish anything, and ensure a bright and healthy future for our children.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Wolfson, PhD
National Campaign Coordinator

GE Cotton Used in Medicine Poses Threat

By Aphaluck Bhatiasevi
Bangkok Post, 17 November 1997

Fears about the adverse impacts of a genetically-altered cotton in the production of traditional Thai medicine has prompted the government to call off tests of the cotton plant currently underway in Thailand

Bollgard cotton is genetically engineered by inserting a bacteria which kills the insect's genes. The cotton requires no pesticides during the growing stage.

However, traditional healers, agriculturalists and environmental lawyers have expressed concern about the potential threats of the plants to herbal medicine and honey production.

They question whether such a geneticlly engineered cotton, used in the production of some herbal medicine is safe for human use.

They also pointed out that insects are needed for pollination especially in the natural production of honey and fruits.

Vut Vuttithamavej, chairman of the Association for Traditional Thai Medicine, said the fact that cotton plants are not only used for producing cloth raises concerns over the effects genetically altered cotton may have on food and medicine.

Monsanto Company, a major chemials manufacturer from the United States, developed the new strain of cotton plant by inserting the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) into the normal cotton plants. The bacteria will kill insects without the need for insecticide to be sprayed onto the plants.

Cotton is one of the world's cash crops hardest hit by pests. particularly bollworms. Bollgard- or Bt-cotton was introduced here three years ago and is now under safety and effectiveness tests in agricultural areas in Wichian Buri, Phetchabun; Khok Samrong, Lop Buri; Pak Tho, Ratchaburi; and Pak Chong, Nakhon Ratchasima.

"With the growth of Bt cotton, we'll earn more money with higher yield, but is it worth losing our natural biological species?" questioned Mr Vut.

Sixteen species of the "Malvaceae" cotton family is used for production of traditional medicines said Institute of Traditional Thai Medicine Director Pennapha Subcharoen.

She said if Bt cotton is introduced in the country without sufficient assessment, it would have an impact on the production of herbs, particularly those made of cotton seeds and oil.

Another point of particular concern is the production of honey, which is an important ingredient for the production of herbal medicines, said Dr Pennapha.

The tests on growth of Bollgard cotton showed that more than 30 percent of bees died, but no further assesment was done on whether it was caused by Bt cotton.

"If it is due to the cotton, it would definitely mean a loss in the produce of honey and we don't know whether the honey already produced by the bees are also poisoned by the bacteria of the plant," she said.

Law Society of Thailand's environmental lawyer Varin Thiemcharas said although many people support the growth of Bt cotton in this age of economic crisis, it is doubtful that these cotton plants can be used for the production of food and medicine.

Thanks for the Pure Food Campaign for distributing this via the gentech newsgroup


Seeds of Discontent: Cotton Growers Say Strain Cuts Yields

Copyright 1997 The New York Times

CLARKSDALE, Miss. -- One year ago, Rodney Garrison was a true believer in a breakthrough cotton strain that had been genetically engineered to resist spraying with Monsanto Co.'s Roundup weed killer. "Roundup Ready cotton is going to be as revolutionary to the cotton industry as the cotton picker," he proclaimed under a grinning photograph in a corporate brochure.

Today, Garrison's ardor has turned to rancor. "See this?" he shouted over drumming rain on a recent tour of Roundup Ready fields that he had sprayed with Roundup, he held up a branch mottled with scars where closed green cotton bolls had withered and dropped. A single white tuft clung to the limb's end. "Six positions," he said, counting out to the end of the shoot. "Five are missing." He sloshed a few steps down to some branches whose few bolls were flattened or hooked. "See this one?" he asked. "Here's a deformed boll -- a hawk-bill."

Monsanto calls the genetically engineered cotton it developed with Delta and Pine Land Co. the most successful product introduction in farming history -- likely to make cotton the nation's first crop in which genetically altered varieties predominate. But here in the Mississippi Delta, the revolution has produced enough casualties that officials are now warning farmers to hold off until further testing proves the technology's reliability.

Garrison's disillusionment, shared by dozens of other farmers here who are seeking perhaps millions of dollars in damages from the two companies, exposes the risks of speeding new technology to a market like agriculture where caution has ruled. In Texas, the companies face a lawsuit over the performance of another genetically altered variety. And last week, Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., the nation's largest producer of seed corn, announced its refusal to add Monsanto's Roundup Ready gene to its corn, saying Monsanto's proposed charges and restrictions outweigh the benefits for farmers, a point Monsanto disputes.

These objections mark the strongest resistance yet from within the agricultural camp. Environmentalists have protested for years that bioengineering can have dangerous and unpredictable side effects; just last week, a Greenpeace ship blocked the unloading of Monsanto's genetically engineered soybeans in Amsterdam. Now, some who cheer corporate efforts to control genetic destiny are, for purely business reasons, drawing back.

For Monsanto, the stakes could not be higher. The $9 billion company is transforming itself from a chemical company into a biotechnology and "life sciences" conglomerate, spending billions on research and acquisitions. Monsanto has spliced its Roundup Ready gene into soybeans as well as cotton, and had also improved cotton with a gene that makes the plants their own pesticides.

Though the cloning of a sheep has been this year's splashiest genetic-engineering feat, such tinkering in the muddy furrows of the nation's farms is having a far greater impact on the commodities we consume. Almost overnight, scientists are producing improvements in crops that used to take years or decades of selection and breeding.

"We are just at the beginning of an industry transformation that in a few years will be looked at as greater than the computer revolution," exulted Robb Fraley, co-president for Monsanto's farming products.

Cotton is a natural target for Monsanto and its bioengineers. The crop is to farming what leveraged buyouts are to corporate finance -- big money, high risk, high reward, with scant margin for error. Without the new Monsanto strains, farmers here must apply more than a dozen herbicides, insecticides and other chemicals. The payoff from cutting back on these costly treatments can be huge.

But so are the risks. If genetically engineered cotton produces poor harvests, big losses can result. To finance the next year's crop, said one farmer who did not want to be identified because of his close ties to Monsanto, "I might have to go to my banker wearing kneepads."

Monsanto and Delta Pine, the world's largest producer of cotton seed, portray the local discontent here as aberrations. They blame freak cold weather, freak insect infestations and farmers' mistakes for the damage here and in Texas last year. With the harvest not yet tallied, all but a few of the growers will do well enough to invalidate any claims, the companies predict.

"It's a very small, localized issue," said Fraley, the Monsanto executive. "One can't focus on 60 farmers and ignore the benefits that this technology has brought on 800,000 acres."

At this sort of talk, the genteel farmers of this area shake their graying heads. They are no rebels. Until this year, the Mississippi Seed Arbitration Council had only two damage claims since its creation in 1989. This year, however, about 46 of the 200 farmers who planted Roundup Ready seed in Mississippi have asked the council to have the companies cover their losses on almost 30,000 acres. They say they lost as much as 40 percent of their Roundup Ready cotton when it failed to resist spraying with Roundup. The council only arbitrates, but farmers must stop there before going to court.

Though damage reports are concentrated here, state officials say complaints have come from seven other states. Monsanto says scattered protests have come only from another three.

Nor are the Mississippi protests the first. About 25 Texas farmers have joined to sue the companies for losses from cotton bollworm damage on more than 18,000 acres planted last year with genetically engineered Bollgard varieties that produce their own insecticides. Monsanto blames unusually heavy infestations and points to company pamphlets that say some spraying might still be necessary. The farmers display other brochures making stronger promises, including one that pictured a few worms and said, "You'll see these in your cotton and that's OK. Don't spray."

Tom Kerby, a Delta Pine vice president, recounts five years of Bollgard development and tests. But only after the widespread sale of Bollgard cotton last year did the companies notice that its pollen had too little insecticide to keep determined bollworms from feasting.

For state and federal cotton experts in Mississippi, the barren cotton branches are an unwelcome vindication of their fears. While they usually test new seed varieties for three years before giving their approval, which is customary but not required, this time, they say, the companies hurried Roundup Ready cotton to market without allowing them to test it.

Bill Meredith, a geneticist and research manager for the U.S. Agriculture Department in Stoneville, Miss., asked for a single pound of seed last year, enough for just a tenth of one acre. The companies said they could not spare that much, he recalled, even though farmers chosen by the companies planted Roundup Ready cotton on thousands of acres.

The result has been a rare breakdown in the usually cordial relations between agribusiness and government. "We weren't able to find out what was going on," Meredith said. "These new varieties and new technologies are going out with less evaluation than they had in the past with traditional varieties."

Meredith publicly suggested that the companies recall their seed, prompting Delta Pine to ask his bosses to shut him up. Roger Malkin, Delta Pine's chairman, says that one of Meredith's supervisors apologized; Meredith says a manager merely asked him to tone his comments down.

Even the companies' partisans talk of friends who have suffered crop damage or spent unexpected sums on pest control. "We are used to having things brought to us that are ready to go," said Emery D. Skelton, a farmer chosen by Delta Pine to recount his own productive experience. "Maybe this wasn't ready to go."

The companies retort that far from shifting the risks and expense of testing to farmers, they carried out thorough research and won all the necessary federal approvals. Roundup is not to blame for deformed bolls, only for some that fell, they add.

Farmers, squeezed by rising pesticide costs and shrinking federal subsidies, acknowledge their desperation. "We're embracing anything that we can find that will lower our costs," said Herbert Huddleston, a local grower who planted only Roundup Ready cotton this year. "We were begging them for it."

Kerby of Delta Pine adds that the companies could not afford a longer wait to recover their heavy research and development costs, which included flying seed to Argentina and South Africa to cram as many as three growing seasons into a single year. "We have a lot of money tied up," he said.

In the marketplace, genetically engineered cotton is a galloping success, rising from 1.8 million acres last year to about 3 million this year and a projected 5 million to 6 million next year. By 1999, Fraley of Monsanto expects more than half the nation's 14 million acres of cotton to have the company's potent genes.

And Monsanto is only beginning. Next will come a stronger variety of insect-resistant cotton in 1999, then cotton that can protect itself from boll weevils, and in 2003 or sometime after, cotton that is naturally colored, without chemical dyes. By then, the company also hopes to have biologically engineered, supersweet and disease-resistant strawberries, as well as plants that can produce biodegradable plastics.

That glorious future for Monsanto is little consolation to Garrison and his ruined cotton field, the farmer who recently toured his ruined cotton field. In July, he noticed his plants were shedding their bolls. In the following weeks, as other farmers saw similar losses, the fields were swarming with Monsanto and Delta Pine executives, state and federal officials, researchers, consultants and lawyers for both sides. "If I could charge per head, I'd be all right," Garrison said.

How many farmers the companies compensate could depend on whether the state compares cotton yields to historic averages or to this year's bumper crop. The companies also plan to include stronger cautions on their seed bags.

Some Mississippi officials ask whether tougher rules are needed to make sure the new, genetically engineered products work under all local conditions. In the meantime, Robert McCarty, the state Agriculture and Commerce Department's chief regulator, tells farmers to watch out.

"I sure couldn't recommend they plant one of these varieties and take that kind of risk," McCarty said, "unless someone could assure them they wouldn't have the kind of problems we had in 1997."


** 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 this information for research and educational purposes. **

GE penetration of the US-Market

Date: 19 Nov 1997 10:30:35 -0600
From: "Gregory D. Todd"

In today's New York Times, an article appearing on the front page of the Business Section reports that Roundup Ready Cotton has created a major problem in certain areas of the South. Forty-six of the 200 farmers who planted Roundup Ready cotton seed in Mississippi have asked the Mississippi Seed Arbitration Council to have the companies cover their losses on almost 30,000 acres. They say they lost as much as 40 percent of their Roundup Ready cotton when it failed to resist spraying with Roundup. Although concentrated in Missisippi, state officials say complaints have come from seven other states.

Although not discussed in the text, an accompanying chart citing the Biotechnology Industry Association and the Agriculture Department as sources, states that 10% of the 1997 US corn crop was genetically engineered and that 14% of the 1997 US soybean crop was genetically altered. They also state that 24% of the cotton crop was GE in 1997. They list makers of GE corn as Monsanto, Norvartis, Agrevo, Dekalb and Pioneer and claim 8.1 million acres were planted. GE soy makers cited were Monsanto and Micogen with a total of 9.3 million acres under cultivation.

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:

Our website, 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 To unsubscribe, please send the message 'unsubscribe GE'

Back to Index