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Monsanto and the other gene engineers have suffered a number of technological and public relations "glitches" over the past few years, as Food Bytes readers are not doubt aware. These biotech blunders and disasters include:
In addition scientific studies have recently been brought to the attention of the World Health Organization that injecting mammals with genetically engineered growth hormones very likely increases their susceptibility to deadly, incurable brain-wasting diseases such as BSE, commonly known as Mad Cow Disease, or its human variant, CJD. Consequently the WHO, the European Union, and the Codex Alimentarius are unlikely to ever approve rBGH as a safe drug, leaving the U.S. as the only industrialized nation in the world to have approved rBGH.
In the future we can expect more, not less, of these biotech blunders and gene glitches. Food Bytes will look closer at this recipe for disaster in upcoming issues.
Within these regulations, they are considering whether genetically engineered seeds can be used in organic production. If you want to make your voice heard on this issue, of whether genetically engineered foods can be labelled as ORGANIC, visit the website:
"Foreign" comments, ie from those outside of USA, are encouraged as this issue impacts on all people who comsume US food exports.
As the website is a little complicated, I was given directions:
[My comments (in case they are helpful) were: Please do not allow genetically engineered seeds or any other aspect of genetic engineering to be used in organic production. Because genetically engineered foods have not been tested for their long-term effects on human health, on animals, or on the environment, I do not want to consume them. In fact, I would like to see all genetically engineered foods labelled as such so that I can choose not to consume them in any form.]
Thank you for your help.
500 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2,
Our website, http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html contains more information on genetic engineering.
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P A N U P S
Pesticide Action Network
December 17, 1997
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is once again in the process of deciding whether to renew a tolerance for bromoxynil on cotton genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is asking EPA to deny renewal of the tolerance for bromoxynil.
Several months ago, UCS issued a similar action alert asking individuals and groups to write to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to urge the Agency to deny a tolerance for bromoxynil on cotton. EPA, however, approved a six-month tolerance for bromoxynil on cotton at that time. Now that tolerance is again up for renewal.
In 1995, EPA approved a conditional registration for use of bromoxynil on transgenic bromoxynil-tolerant cotton. The crop was grown commercially in 1995 and 1996 under this registration. EPA also established a temporary tolerance -- a maximum permissible limit for the residues of bromoxynil in or on cottonseed -- which expired April 1, 1997.
In June 1997, EPA approved six-month tolerances for bromoxynil and its metabolite DBHA (3,5-dibromo-4- hydrobenzoic acid) in or on cottonseed, undelinted cottonseed, cotton gin by-products, and cotton hulls. The Agency also established or revised tolerances for bromoxynil in eggs, poultry and other meat, meat by-products and fat.
On November 26, 1997, EPA announced that Rhone-Poulenc, manufacturer of the herbicide, had filed a petition for a one-year extension of tolerances for bromoxynil and DBHA in undelinted cottonseed, cotton gin byproducts, and cotton hulls; and for an increase from 3% to 10% (1.3 million acres) of the U.S. cotton acreage to which bromoxynil could be applied. The Agency granted a 30-day period for the public to comment on the petition. A decision will be made after December 26, and no further public comment will be allowed.
UCS is asking that you write to EPA and tell them to deny Rhone-Poulenc's request for a one-year extension of bromoxynil and DBHA tolerances:
EPA has classified bromoxynil as a possible human carcinogen because it causes liver cancer in mice. The herbicide is known to be a developmental toxicant as it causes birth defects in mammals. Bromoxynil is also highly toxic to broadleaf plants and fish and thereby poses environmental threats. These data alone are sufficient to allow EPA to deny a tolerance.
The Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) requires EPA to implement a new safety standard -- a "reasonable certainty of no harm" for aggregate exposure using dietary residues and all other reliable exposure information. The legislative history of the FQPA establishes the reasonable-certainty-of- no-harm standard for nonthreshold (cancer) effects at a one- in-a-million risk level, meaning one additional cancer for each one million people exposed. EPA's estimate of the carcinogenic risk of bromoxynil in food sources and drinking water -- 2.1 in a million -- exceeds the one-in-a-million risk level.
Bromoxynil-tolerant cotton is able to withstand bromoxynil because it contains an enzyme that breaks the herbicide down into a metabolite -- DBHA. The Agency knows that DBHA accounts for nearly 80% of the residues found in cotton after bromoxynil application. It expects DBHA residues will be found in cottonseed oil and meal and in beef, pork, poultry, and eggs from animals that consume the meal. Though the Agency and Rhone-Poulenc have known about DBHA for years, the company has submitted only preliminary data on its toxicity. EPA has not required DBHA safety data as a condition of registration.
Last spring, the Agency set tolerances for the first time for the metabolite. Absent data, the Agency relied on the assumption that DBHA is "toxicologically equal" to the parent bromoxynil, that is, a carcinogen with the same potency as bromoxynil. But DBHA may be more potent than bromoxynil or may act as an endocrine disrupter as well as a carcinogen. The Agency established tolerances without answering these questions. It appears from the current petition that Rhone- Poulenc still has not supplied adequate safety data on DBHA.
The Union of Concerned Scientists feels that given the lack of data on DBHA, the failure to comply with the FQPA, and bromoxynil's record on birth defects, the Agency should not renew tolerances for bromoxynil or DBHA on transgenic cotton.
Send comments to arrive on or before December 26, 1997, to:
Docket Control Number PF-779
Public Information and Records Integrity Branch Information Resources and Services Division (7502C) EPA/Office of Pesticide Programs
401 M St., SW, Washington, DC 20460; or fax: (703) 305-4646; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org (submit as ASCII file and do not use special characters or encryption).
Contact: Jane Rissler, Ph.D., Union of Concerned Scientists, 1616 P Street NW, Suite 310, Washington DC 20036; phone (202) 332-0900; fax (202) 332-0905; email email@example.com.
===================================Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) 116 New Montgomery, #810, San Francisco, CA 94105 Phone:(415) 541-9140
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Mentmore, 18 December 1997
With the publication of new research in Germany highlighting the dangers of genetic engineering in agriculture, the Natural Law Party has repeated its call for a complete ban on all genetically altered foods since they pose great hazards for human health and the environment.
In the German state of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), a detailed study by the state's Ministry for Ecology has shown convincingly that herbicide resistance that has been engineered into oilseed rape is transferred to normal rape 200 metres away [see article below].
According to London-based independent genetics scientist Dr Michael Antoniou, "This is only the latest in a long list of field trials showing that genetically engineered (GE) crops, once released, are totally uncontainable. They will become a nightmare for conventional farmers to control. For farmers who do not want to grow them, such as the organic sector, these crops will be almost impossible to avoid."
Studies published in Denmark, as well as by the Scottish Crop Research Institute, have also shown that GE oilseed rape readily cross pollinates, not only with non-engineered rape but also with wild weedy relatives (such as field mustard and radish). In these studies cross pollination was found up to 2.5 kilometres away.
"This means that herbicide resistant weeds - so-called superweeds - will rapidly appear and spread," Dr Antoniou said. "Once weeds have multiple resistance genes, which may occur within just a few growing seasons, they will be particularly difficult to control. This will result in greater dependence and use of agrochemicals, rather than less, as is claimed by the biotechnology companies."
Dr Antoniou also pointed out that "volunteers" (plants which grow from seed that has fallen from a crop at the time of harvesting) will also be herbicide resistant. This will pose a great problem for farmers who usually clear volunteers with herbicides before planting the next crop. Warning to the British government
Dr Geoffrey Clements, a physicist and leader of the Natural Law Party in the UK, said that this information should be noted by the British government ministers who are now considering approving oilseed rape as the first GE crop to be grown commercially in Britain from next spring. Oilseed rape is currently the fourth most widely grown crop in Britain.
"The government must listen to the warnings and avoid being driven by short-term commercial interests," Dr Clements said. "Genetic engineering is a novel, untried, and very inexact science. Already there are numerous indications of the potential for great damage to the environment and to human health from genetically engineered foods."
Dr Clements said that in recent decades the promise of cheap power through nuclear energy was soon dashed not only by the astronomical cost of dealing with nuclear waste but also by the impracticality of storing ever-increasing quantities of radioactive material. "Those problems will seem insignificant compared to the aftermath of genetic pollution on this planet which will result if the rush to exploit the short-term profitability of GE crops is not curbed," he remarked.
Dr Clements congratulated the Ministry for Ecology in Niedersachsen, as well as the Consumers' Association, Friends of the Earth and other groups in the UK, who are bringing these issues to the awareness of the public. He also praised The Guardian newspaper for its in-depth coverage of all the issues in its Monday to Thursday editions this week.
"Every single survey has shown that wherever the public is well-informed about the issues, the vast majority are opposed to genetically engineered foods. Perfectly safe natural alternatives are readily available, and no one believes the propaganda that GE crops are essential to help feed the hungry or to secure food stocks for the future. In fact, if the GE revolution is not halted and if the balance of Nature continues to be disrupted, we could well see the worst famines and disease of all time."
.........................................................See also briefing sheet by Friends of the Earth on genetically engineered oilseed rape (canola), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Translation of German article follows . .
DIE TAGESZEITUNG Nr. 5401, 6 December 1997 (Germany) Page 8 Business and Environment (TRANSLATION)
by Jurgen Voges
Genetically engineered rape plants on a test field in Gehrden near Hanover have passed on their herbicide-resistance gene to ordinary rape growing in the area. The Niedersachsen Ministry for Ecology (NLV) has been able to show that normal rape situated at a distance of 200 metres from the test field of the Hoechst/Schering subsidiary AgroEvo has been transformed into transgenic, herbicide-resistant rape.
The Niedersachsen Minister of the Environment, Monika Griefahn, said that the NLV research in Gehrden confirmed her worst fears. "Once the manipulated genes are released into the surroundings, there is no way to contain them," said Griefahn yesterday in Hanover. Bees and wind spread the pollen of genetically engineered plants just as they do with other plants, and in this case they also spread the artificial genes.
The open-air field trial to grow the genetically modified rape, which is resistant to the herbicide Basta [glufosinate ammonium], was authorised in 1995 by the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, in the face of opposition from Griefahn. AgroEvo merely had to provide an eight-metre safety border around the test field.
Niedersachsen financed its own research programme, parallel to the open-air field trial, at a cost of DM450,000. Within a radius of 1,000 metres around the test field, the NLV indexed plants and collected hundreds of thousands of seeds from wild plants and normal rape growing in the area.
The NLV has so far tested only the rape seed it has collected, for the Basta resistant gene. The seeds were fed a solution containing the Basta herbicide. Seeds that grew into plants in spite of the Basta were then tested for the herbicide-resistant gene. Environment Minister Griefahn is concerned that further tests will show that the resistance gene has been carried over into wild plants as well. Most likely this would occur with plants that are related to rape, such as mustard or wild radish. A transfer of resistant genes to these type of plants would cast doubt on the whole concept of Total Herbicide, by which the seed of the genetically modified plant is sold together with the corresponding herbicide. Wild plants that had absorbed the resistance gene from the genetic rape would then thrive magnificently as weeds and increase, in spite of the use of Basta.
Following the first NLV findings, it is clear for Monika Griefahn "that in the neighbourhood of transgenic fields cultivated plants can also become transgenic". This would harm also those farmers who declined to use genetically modified crops. They would no longer be able to guarantee to the consumers that their products are not genetically modified.
Translator's note: Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) is one of the largest states in Germany. The research study was initiated and funded by the state government of Niedersachsen. The Robert Koch Institute is responsible for authorising test licences.
Especially the terms "Biotechnology" and "Genetic Engineering."
We should think about how words are used regarding genetically engineered food.
Perhaps we should never again refer to Monsanto, Novartis, et. al as the bio-tech industry. We should avoid the term Biotechnology. Let us refer to them as the chemical/genetic engineering industry or something similar. Let me explain.
We cannot stand still and let them continue to refer to cross species genetic engineering as "biotechnology." This helps and allows them to blur things and confuse the public to their advantage in bringing out these genetically engineered products.
It has become clear from both the Novartis and this last survey that the government and the chemical/genetic engineering companies intend to use the terms "biotech and biotechnology" to assist them in their mission of propogating genetically engineered foods; they intend to make vague and unclear the definite and clear distinction between traditional reproductive crossbreeding/hybridization and cross-species genetic engineering.
They, along with the government are doing everything and anything possible to fool and lull the public into thinking genetic engineering is a natural extension of what was done in the past.
When they ask the public whether they are aware of "biotechnology," this allows and encourages the public to think that they are asking about crossbreeding and hybridization. OF COURSE they have heard of reproductive biotechnologies which have created new breeds of corn, grapes, etc. Who hasn't heard of this? Basically every adult has.
Then when these chemical/genetic engineering companies get their predicted answer from the public regarding their intentionally obfuscated inquiry, the chemical industry claims that this has relevence to cross-species genetic engineering. It doesn't.
OF COURSE they have heard of this. OF COURSE they think crossbreeding and hybridization are safe. I think even most opponents of cross-species genetic engineering feel that reproductive crossbreeding and hybridization are relatively safe.
PEOPLE, PLEASE BE CAREFUL. Do not let the chemical and genetic engineering industry control the language used. WE NEED TO CONTROL THE LANGUAGE USED. This will be another major weapon in this conflict over the food supply.
|Use:||Do Not Use:|
|Science (GE Food is Fraudulent Science)|
|Scientists (Gives them too much implied respect)|
The following article appeared in the German newspaper TAZ (Nr. 5410) on 17th December 1997 (page 8, Economics and Environment section, 36 lines, TAZ-BERICHT ufo) (The translation is literal)
The British hold back authorizations: dangers underestimated
Berlin (taz) - The British Ministers of Food and Agriculture put on hold the authorization for comercial planting of genetically manipulated rapeseed. Mr. Jeff Roker and Lord Donoghue fear that the dangers emerging from gene manipulation are being underestimated by the government. Apart from that, the six international pharma multinationals, active in this business, would get too powerful and would control the market. This was reported yesterday in the British newspaper "The Guardian".
Mr. Rooker and Lord Donoghue have started an investigation into the reports published by the Labour government. The government of Tony Blair, as already the previous conservative government, is putting pressure onto the responsible ministries for authorization. They are supposed to authorize gen-manipulated planting - without new investigations.
Multinationals like Hoechst or Monsanto make millions with the genetically manipulated seeds. The world market is being estimated at 250 billion dollars. The British can already buy tomato puree and vegetarian cheese from gen-manipulated cultivation.
Nigel Hawkes reports on how scientists have developed a technique for creating lambs to combat human disease
(c) Polly the man-made lamb with her Scottish Blackface surrogate mother
THE Scottish scientists responsible for Dolly the cloned sheep have now produced Polly - a lamb which makes a human blood-clotting protein.
The disclosure came as the Government insisted that human cloning is ethically unacceptable and that scientists must not dabble in experiments which might lead to the creation of "experimental" human beings.
The Department of Trade and Industry acknowledged that animal cloning had the potential to produce significant benefits for research into human and animal health. But, in a response to a report by the Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology, it emphasised that there were limits to the extent to which researchers should attempt to push back scientific barriers.
The Department of Trade and Industry document said: "The committee reaffirmed its desire for a ban on the deliberate cloning of human beings."
Polly was made from sheep foetal cells, modified by the introduction of a human gene. As a clone it is less remarkable than Dolly, who was made from adult cells, but the technique used to make it is likely to prove more valuable in the long run. It is not by any means the first animal made which is capable of producing human proteins in its milk. But the team at the Roslin Research Institute in Roslin, Midlothian, report in Science that their method is far more efficient than those used earlier, and can also be used to select the sex of the lamb.
The previous hit-or-miss method used at Roslin and elsewhere involved injecting the human gene into an egg, and then putting it back into a mother sheep in the hope that her lamb would express the human protein made by that gene in milk.
Only a minority did, so the method was wasteful - many pregnancies failed to produce transgenic lambs.
The new method makes it possible to ensure that the gene is integrated into the cells before they are used to replace the DNA in the egg. That creates a higher success rate.
Ron James, managing director of PPL, the company linked to the Roslin Institute, said yesterday: "The production of transgenic livestock by nuclear transfer allows products to be developed far more rapidly and uses fewer animals than earlier methods."
In Polly's case, the gene used was that which makes Factor IX, the blood-clotting agent which is missing in men with haemophilia B. At present, such men are treated with Factor IX extracted from human blood. But extracting it from sheep's milk should be cheaper and free from risks of infection, says the scientific team, led by Angelika Schnieke.
Foetal cells were taken from Poll Dorset lambs, and the Factor IX gene inserted. The cells were maintained in culture and tested to see whether the gene had been successfully integrated.
Only then were the cells inserted into eggs from Scottish Blackface ewes, from which the ewe's own DNA had been removed.
The eggs were then replaced in the ewes and brought to birth. Two problems emerged. The ewes did not give birth spontaneously, but had to be induced, and there was a stillbirth rate of 46 per cent.
Ian Wilmut, the team leader, said the result was "tremendously encouraging, and a major step towards our goal of being able to make very precise genetic modifications in livestock species".
By Alexei Filatov
[The Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union TASS]DATELINE: MOSCOW, December 5
The Biotechnology Centre of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences has been first in the world to breed over 100 sheep with the method of cloning, or grafting of embryonic cell nuclei, said the centre's director Professor Mikhail Prokofyev.
"One cloned sheep is worth ten cows," he said in an interview with Itar-Tass today.
He said the cloned sheep are called trans-gene sheep. Prokofyev said the centre's breeding work had been patented. Trans-gene sheep are unique in that they generate in their milk the enzyme (ferment) chymosin which is essential in cheese production. Chymosin is traditionally obtained from rennets of slaughtered young calves, which is a very expensive way, Prokofyev went on to explain. Chymosin from the milk of trans-gene sheep is ten times cheaper and is of higher quality compared to traditionally derived. Many unique discoveries go without appreciation in Russia these days, Prokofyev said. He said the embryo research had to be stopped at his centre because of scarce funding and be taken to a German centre. Vladimir Zakharchenko, a laboratory director of the Biotechnology Centre, has been at work in Germany for three years turning out cloned calves using the Russian technology.
Prokofyev said the only solace was that this work was part of an international collaborative research project and Russia can use its results with improvement of its financial situation, Prokofyev said.
The Biotechnology Centre is muddling through in its poky conditions that were left to it after its grounds were turned over to the Gorki Leninskiye forestry in 1987, and is pursuing new lines of research on a bare minimum of funding.
The centre's outlet is assistance from Saratov regional governor Dmitry Ayatskov. Facilities are in the making in the Volga region for creating a herd of trans-gene sheep, a project expected to be finished in a year to radically alter the cheese production technology.
Scientists of the Biotechnology Centre are breeding goats producing the milk with valuable hormones and enzymes like erythropoietin, urokinase and insulin.
The centre has started research to produce trans-gene swine, whose organs can be transplanted to humans. This is a topical research, the prize being the overcoming of the graft-versus- host response the body mounts to a transplant. The idea is to introduce certain genes to the genome, or the whole assembly of genes of the individual, for the swine transplant to be tolerated by the human body.
Apart from the medical challenge, this research promises economic profit. One gramme of erythropoietin, a hormone controlling red blood cell production, has the price of 1. 5 million dollars in international markets.
That said, "scientists still hope for help of the state and will continue the research in interests of the human", Prokofyev said.
Bankok, (Dec.3) IPS
At first, the prospect of having a high-yielding cotton plant that needed no pesticides led to rosy projections of bumper crops and profits for farmers who grow it. But Thais will not be seeing hundreds of thousands of hectares planted to Bollgard cotton in the country anytime soon, after fears were raised that the genetically altered plant may wreak environmental havoc and put consumers of Thai traditional medicine at risk.
Last month, the Thai government announced it was calling off safety and effectiveness tests on Bollgard cotton, developed by the U.S.-based chemical company Monsanto. The tests, which began three years ago, were already nearing completion when Bangkok issued the statement.
Bollgard cotton is also known as Bt cotton because it comes from plants inserted with bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which kills off pests. Cotton is among the world's cash crops hardest hit by pests.
But activists here say there is no guarantee that Bt would not spread to other plants belonging to the same species as Bollgard cotton and kill insects in wider areas of the country.
Makers of Thai herbal medicine, in which cotton is an essential ingredient, also raised concerns about the effect of using medicines with Bt cotton. The Institute of Traditional Thai Medicine says 16 species of the "Malvacea" cotton family are used in the production of traditional health remedies.
According to Witoon Liancharoon of the Alternative Agriculture Network Thailand, Bt cotton is already being grown commercially in the United States and Australia. But this is done only in restricted areas. That would not have been the case in Thailand, if plans had pushed through.
Witoon notes, for instance, that the plan was to market the seeds to agriculturists throughout the country. Some 485,000 hectares of land were to be set aside as cotton-growing areas. Witoon says the tests here should have been conducted differently from those in the U.S. and Australia, because tropical Thailand obviously has different biodiversity conditions. He adds the tests should have looked into possible risks if someone takes herbal medicine made with Bt cotton.
"As far as I know," Witoon said, "the tests that have been done focused only on impacts on useful insects in the areas and the economic potential of growing (Bt) cotton."
Dr. Pennapa Subcharoen, director of the Institute of Traditional Thai Medicine, says the Bollgard cotton tests records show that some 30 percent of the bee population in the test sites died. However, she told a local newspaper, no further assessment was made to determine if the Bt cotton was linked to the death of the bees.
The doctor says a sufficient assessment of Bt cotton is needed before it can be grown locally in a larger scale. The Bt cotton tests are considered Thailand's first genetic engineering experiment in mass production.
Though protests forced the government to rethink the Bollgard cotton project, Witoon says that does not mean Thailand has heard the last of such ventures. The country has no laws that help protect its biodiversity, he says. "Genetic engineering is something beyond the understanding of most Thai agriculturists," he observed.
"It is easy to make them welcome anything that gives quick positive results without knowing of the much more negative impacts that may follow. If the cotton could help them kill insects without spending money on insecticides, they would think this cotton is perfect and the seeds would sell out for sure," he added.
Witoon says this foolhardiness among many Thai agriculturists makes the need for a "biosafety law" urgent. "They have no idea what could happen in the future," he said.
Meanwhile, Witoon's group and the Thai Network on Community Rights and Genetic Resources are using existing laws in their bid to change the composition of the cotton testing board.
Under the new Constitution, government bodies are not allowed to have appointees whose involvement with other groups or private businesses may result in a conflict of interest.
At present, the cotton testing board has three representatives of Monsanto as members. If the board's composition is not altered, no-government groups here say they are ready to sue the agricultural ministry.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Josh King, director of production for White House events, says (Friday) he is leaving the staff to join the St. Louis-based Monsanto Corp. as director of global coordination in the firm's Washington office. King, who traveled around the world with President Clinton, says he is "very excited" about his new job, which he will begin in January. Monsanto produces pharmaceuticals and industrial and commercial chemicals.
** 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. **
Natural Law Party, 500 Wilbrod, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N2
tel: 613-565-8517 * fax: 613-565-1596
For Immediate Release
December 20, 1997
Over 10,000 petitions were delivered to the federal ministry of health offices this week calling for mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods. As part of the Consumer Right to Know Campaign, petitions from concerned citizens were brought in from across Canada and presented to federal officials.
"Dozens of genetically engineered are already on the Canadian market, unlabelled and mixed in with other foods," says Richard Wolfson, PhD, head of the Consumer Right to Know Campaign which has membership in all provinces.
"Soybeans, tomatoes, potatoes, corn and canola oil, as well as hundreds of other foods containing genetically engineered ingredients are already in Canadian stores, unlabelled, even though they have not been tested for their long-term effects on human health," Dr. Wolfson said.
According to Ed Napke, MD, Former Chief of the Products Related Disease Division of HPB, who attended the meeting, "Genetically engineered foods should be labelled so that consumers can read the label and know what they are eating. Also, should a problem arise, without labelling there is no way of tracing who has or has not eaten these genetically manipulated foods."
"Having the proper labelling, people who have eaten these foods can identify themselves to any epidemiological study, by either government or scientists who are investigating the potential of adverse effects from these foods, either in long-term or acute cases," Dr. Napke said. "It is only common sense that in studying the effects of hidden genetically engineered foods or ingredients on humans, these products need to be labelled and easily identified for the consumer. Without labelling, it will be very difficult if not impossible to trace or even identify any health problems or toxic effects should they occur."
Dr. Napke continued, "Of equal importance, I believe it is the right of Canadians to choose whether they wish to consume these foods. If these foods are not labelled, this right has been dictatorially taken away."
"I have a respect for science, but I do not have a total acceptance of science being infallible, especially when applied to humans and other life forms. For instance, we have seen with the recent Krever inquiry, due to the failure to label blood properly, recipients could not be identified in a timely manner, which ended up risking the health of thousands of Canadians," said Dr. Napke.
Dr. Wolfson added, "In addition to labelling, these foods should not even be brought on the market until they have been tested and proven safe for their long-term effects on health and on the environment. Consumer health and the environment is being risked for the sake of biotech profit."
Advocates against genetically engineered foods cite the case in which 40 North Americans died in 1989 and over 1500 were permanently disabled due to the unexpected toxic side effects of a genetically engineered food supplement, genetically modified tryptophan.
Earlier this year in Mississippi, genetically engineered cotton failed miserably and unexpectedly, resulting in losses of up to millions of dollars for individual farmers. "Field tests in Europe have shown that genetically engineered canola plants are causing 'biological pollution' and spreading their mutant DNA characteristics to neighboring plants. Other tests have shown that gene-spliced crops are harming or killing beneficial insects and pollinators such as Ladybugs (Ladybirds) and honey bees, and that pests are rapidly developing resistance to gene-altered Bt crops," Dr. Wolfson says.
Last year in Europe, consumers and retailers united and earned government support for stricter policies and labeling of GE foods. Major food chains throughout Europe are either segregating or labelling genetically engineered foods due to overwhelming concern from consumers about health risks. And just this fall, Japanese retailers collected one million signatures demanding labeling.
"Why are we falling behind in North America, and bowing to pressure from biotech companies who want to bring their products on the market as quickly as possible in spite of risks. This is not just another consumer cause; the risks of genetic engineering on health and on the environment are enormous. Let us at least label these foods so that any effects can be properly monitored, and so that we can choose for ourselves whether we want to be part of this dangerous experiment on our food supply," Dr. Wolfson says.
Richard Wolfson, Ph.D., Campaign Director
Tel. 613-565-8517 For complete background on the hazards of genetically engineered foods, see the website: http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html
From ONE WORLD at http://www.oneworld.org/
by Silvio Hernandez
PANAMA CITY, Dec 17 (IPS) - The lack of protection for the human and cultural rights of the indigenous Central Americans has awoken their fears of being submitted to genetic slavery by unscrupulous scientists.
The first alarm was sounded several years ago when the genes of a Panamanian Ngobe-Bugle woman were patented in the United States as a scientific discovery by two US researchers.
The woman, resident in the Caribbean province of Bocas del Toro and whose name was reserved to protect her identity, was carrier of the HLV2 virus, similar to that which produces AIDS.
Kuna indigenous leader Atencio Lopez, who has been running an international campaign against the ''stealing'' of genes from native peoples for the last four years, told IPS the genes were taken from the woman by foreign researchers with the help of local doctors who extracted the blood.
The ngobe-bugle are carriers of HLV2 but do not develop the illnesses associated with this as they have antibodies which protect them.
Lopez explained that as AIDS ''is like El Dorado'' for the big pharmaceutical transnationals, anything close to the virus which causes this ''makes them crazy and they will stop at nothing to get hold of and control their formulas.''
The patent of the HLV2 virus was cancelled by the US government following international pressure, but the cells of the Ngobe-Bugle woman and other indigenous people from Papua and New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, which were also patented, are still being kept in a US laboratory.
Lopez warned that if the discoveries were part of the production of medicines to alleviate human suffering without making money, the indigenous people would be willing to be investigated.
But they do not approve being studied and having genes extracted to produce medicines for the profit of the transnational pharmaceutical companies, nor to experiment with biological weapons ''so that the powerful states can submit the weaker ones.''
Lopez said the cloning of animals and other genetic experiments ''is part of an offensive by the biomedical and pharmaceutical multinationals to carry out research for new medicines using human genes.
The United States, Japan and the European Union nations are accelerating the creation of dispositions to allow them to research and patent the ''discoveries'' made from human beings, as is the case with the United States and Japan, and with live material, as the Europeans propose.
''Faced with this, the indigenous population is still one of the weakest groups because, unfortunately their human rights are still not recognised in the majority of national consitutions and international agreements,'' said Lopez.
He said the United Nations Education Science and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) was considering a document on ethics and the handling of the human genome.
''For us this is not enough because the transnational companies are still favoured,'' he added.
The indigenous peoples have created an international network to deal with a problem which was summed up in the ''Kupseni Declaration'' drawn up in November, which Lopez described as ''the leading document on the human genome produced in Latin America.''
The document is named after the island home of the Kuna people off the Caribbean archipelago of San Blas, where several of the native peoples of the Americas met to draw it up.
This type of research, said the document, ''attacks human lives'' and ''the genetic integrity of the indigenous peoples.''
Lopez explained that for the indigenous peoples blood ''is like the nucleus or the cell of the earth'' whose fruits, like the trees, animals and rivers ''are considered as brothers.''
''If we allow them to delve inside human beings and their genetics there will come a moment when we will be the slaves of other people and subjected to immoral use,'' he said.
''We do not see knowledge as personal property but as something belonging to all our people,'' said Lopez.
As well as the robbing of human genes, researchers in the rich countries ''are extracting medicinal secrets from the indigenous people and their cultural property on seeds and soil use practices,'' he added.
He explained how researchers of traditional medicine arrived in the indigenous areas as tourists, finding out how the local people cure certain illnesses, taking the remedies to the North and patenting them as though they were their own inventions.
The states of the Third World do not protect the indigenous people and farmers from cultural pillaging and ''many governments see the indigenous peoples' complaints themselves as science fiction,'' he concluded.(END)
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I have one question in mind re. the new US standards for organic food: Why does the US gov't do everything to not allow people eat healthy food? Why do they support everything to have sick people in the country? Every gov't should be glad that people want to be healthy and eat healthy. This what needs to be supported, not the contrary. Doesn't make sense for the most developped and most creative country in the world to pass such irresponsible new rules.
Martin, these standards are far from final. You have not understood how the process goes here. We have 90 days (from Dec 16) to give our responses and concerns. Then the USDA will reissue the rules and they have to be passed or rejected by our Congress and the Presidient. Many of the key issues have not even had a position taken by the USDA - such as GE and irradiation. Instead they have asked for the responses to to set the policy. How they end up depends on us and our responses at this time. Do not throw up your hands in despair yet - it's not over until it's over!
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