Genetically Manipulated Food News

29 January 1998

Table of Contents

Cow Eggs used to Clone other Mammals
Quotes from the novel "The Gold Bug Variations"
Oestrogen Pollution causing Sex Change
Europe Approves but Resists
Bt Toxin Kills Beneficial Insects
Ladybugs Threatened by Biotech Crops
Dutch Retail Chain found guilty of false Advertising
Farmyard Freaks: Beef, Pigs and Chickens
Biotech Cotton Failure
Japan Co-Op Begins Biotech Labeling
USA: Genetically engineered cotton suffers setback
Indonesia Could become GE dumping place
Drugs Factory down on the Pharm
Genetically Manipulated Organisms and Sewer Sludge in Food
Cenex Land O'Lakes to sell GE Rhizobium for alfalfa seed
Organic Standards At Risk (9 points)

Back to Index


Cow Eggs used to Clone other Mammals

BOSTON, Massachusetts, January 20, 1998 (ENS) - While cloning scientists dispute the ethics and possibilities of human cloning, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has taken a giant leap forward in the cloning of other mammals. Using the unfertilized eggs of cows, the scientists have shown that the eggs have the ability to incorporate and, seemingly, reprogram at least some of the genes from adult cells from an array of different animal species, including sheep, pigs, rats, cattle and primates.

The technique illustrates the possibility of using the eggs of one species as a "universal recipient" for genes from other species.

While no successful pregnancies have been achieved using the technique developed in the laboratory of cloning pioneer Neal First, the eggs with the foreign genes developed into viable preimplantation-stage embryos.

The finding, reported here today at a meeting of the International Embryo Transfer Society by a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists, lends experimental support to the technology that created the sheep Dolly, the world's first animal cloned from an adult cell. This new twist to the unfolding story of mammalian cloning suggests that the molecular machinery responsible for programming genes within the cytoplasm of the egg may be similar or identical in all mammals.

If perfected, such a technology would have broad applications, from the development of customized tissue cell lines for transplants in humans to new ways to propagate farm animals, or rare and endangered species.

"We've shown that the genome of different species can undergo some reprogramming in bovine oocytes (eggs)," said Maisam Mitalipova, one of the authors of a pair of studies that profile the results of work undertaken since Dolly was revealed to the world nearly a year ago.

The expression of stage-specific genes in intraspecies clones is now under investigation by the same team. Initiating the current studies was Tanja Dominko, formerly of First's lab and now at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center.

Using cells obtained from the ears of five different species of mammals, all fully grown, and eggs gleaned from cows, the Wisconsin team applied the same technique that scientists at Scotland's Roslin Institute used to create Dolly, a sheep whose genes came from a mammary cell of an adult sheep.

The ear cells, which contain all the genes needed to make an animal, were fused with cow eggs that had been denucleated or stripped of their genetic material. Once fused, it seems that the eggs incorporate the genes from the ear cells and reset them to drive early stages of development.

Because cells develop and divide after fertilization and subsequently differentiate into muscles, organs, bones and other types of tissue, the ability to produce an animal from the genetic material from an adult cell nucleus, as is apparently the case with Dolly, was surprising evidence that gene expression can be reprogrammed, said First.

"That was the real breakthrough," according to First who, a decade ago, was the first to make mammal clones using undifferentiated embryonic cells from cattle.

In any adult differentiated cell, there exist all the genes necessary to make an animal, but only the genes that make proteins for those specific tissues are activated. Before Dolly, most scientists did not believe that the genetic material from differentiated cells could be reset to produce clones of adult animals.

The objective of the new Wisconsin study was to determine the ability of a cow's egg, and specifically its cytoplasm, to reprogram the genetic material of differentiated cells from an array of mammals. The cytoplasm consists of the contents of the egg cell, exclusive of its nucleus of genetic material.

That it was able to do so with the genes of several different animals suggests that the molecular mechanism within the cytoplasm responsible for embryonic reprogramming has been conserved in mammals from a distant common ancestor. Precisely how the cytoplasm reprograms old genes is still a mystery, said Mitalipova.

The practical upshot of the Wisconsin study is that cow eggs may serve as a convenient, universal recipient for the genetic material of other animals, including those animals where eggs may be difficult or impossible to obtain, such as endangered species or prize farm animals.

If perfected, the technology could also lead to the development of cell lines for the development of tissue for human transplants. By taking tissue from a transplant candidate and growing genetically identical tissue, problems of organ or graft rejection could potentially be eliminated.

In addition to First and Mitalipova, scientists contributing to the work reported today include Dominko, Brad Haley, Zeki Beyhan, Erdogan Memili, Hanna Segev, Arthur Chen and Esther Ofulue.

Meanwhile, on the highly controversial issue of human cloning, UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor said in Paris, Friday that, "Human cloning cannot be accepted under any circumstances." Mayor stressed that the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, adopted on November 11, 1997, by UNESCO's 186 Member States, bans the practice as an offence against human dignity.

Mayor reiterated UNESCO's position in response to the debate on human cloning which was re-opened recently by American researcher Richard Seed's claim that he would soon clone human beings to help couples unable to conceive children.

President Bill Clinton last year banned the use of federal funds for research and development of human cloning.


Thanks to Dr. Ron Epstein namofo@jps.net in the the philosophy department of San Francisco State University for sharing these

Quotes from the novel "The Gold Bug Variations"

by Richard Powers.

"Genetic engineering is not one single thing, but an assortment of various techniques and projects, all with different risks. By far the largest is ecological imbalance. Unpredictable, irreversible environmental mayhem that used to take selective breeders a lifetime to produce can now be knocked off in a dozen weeks." (p. 409)

"So what bothers you about genetic engineering?"

"Its not science. Science is not about control. It is about cultivating a perpetual condition of wonder in the face of something that forever grows one step richer and subtler than our latest theory about it. It is about reverence, not mastery. It might, from time to time, spin off an occasional miracle cure of the kind you dream about. The world we would know, the living , interlocked world, is a lot more complex than any market. The market is a poor simulation of the ecosystem; market models will never more than parody the increasingly complex web of interdependent nature. All these plates in the air, and we want to flail at them. 'Genetic engineering' is full of attempts to replace a dense, diversified, heterogeneous assortment of strains with one superior one. Something about us is in love with whittling down: we want the one solution that will drive out all others. Take our miracle superstrains, magnificent on the surface, but unlike the messy populations of nature, deceptive, thin, susceptible. One bug. One blight.No; the human marketplace has about as much chance on improving on the work of natural selection as a per diem typist has of improving on Bartlett's Familiar Quotations."

"All we've done to date is uncover part of a pattern. We can't mistake that for meaning. Meaning can't be got at by pattern-matching."

"The experiment you want to extend [by GE] is three billion years old. It may indeed be close to something unprecedented. All the more reason why we need to step back a bit and see how it runs." (pp. 411-412)

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

Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign, for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
500 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
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' to rwolfson@concentric.net for details. To unsubscribe, send the message "unsubscribe"


Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998 10:41:59 -0800 (PST)
From: MichaelP papadop@PEAK.ORG

Oestrogen Pollution causing Sex Change

London BBC Thursday, January 22, 1998 Published at 07:13 GMT

Oestrogen-like substances are causing male fish to produce eggs.

Research has shown that a large proportion of male fish in some British rivers are changing sex through exposure to pollutants.

Chemicals from sewage treatment plants and factories are causing male fish to produce eggs. The chemicals act like the hormone, oestrogen, which is normally produced in the ovaries of female animals.

The Environment Agency and scientists from Brunel University examined 2000 male roach taken from eight rivers.

[ image: The cells of a normal testis give way to the darker stained cells of a female]

The cells of a normal testis give way to the darker stained cells of a femaleThey found that between 25% and 60% of them had produced eggs in their testes, and in some sites downstream of sewage treatment plants, all male fish had an 'inter-sex condition'.

Although it was already known that oestrogen in river water could feminise male fish, the researchers said they were surprised by the extent and severity of the effect.

According to the agency it is now clear that effluent from sewage treatment plants does contain substances that change the hormones in fish, although further research is needed to determine exactly which pollutants are responsible for the changes.

Oestrogen-type substances exert a powerful effect at very low concentrations and fears have been raised that small amounts could find their way into domestic water supplies.

Dr Jean Ginsburg, a hormone specialist, said that any possibility of such substances entering the food chain is reason enough to implement tougher standards.

[ image: Dr Jean Ginsburg: we should take steps to prevent it entering the food chain]

Dr Jean Ginsburg: we should take steps to prevent it entering the food chain"What we ought to be doing is adopting what is called the precautionary principle," she said.

"That means [that] when there is sufficient evidence for cause for alarm, we take steps to avoid it."

The Environment Agency says it now wants water companies to investigate ways of removing oestrogen-type substances from effluent.

Jan Pentreath, from the agency, said: "We want the water industry to look at this carefully and see if there is something they can do.

"We want industry to consider ways of phasing [the chemicals] out, finding alternatives, or at the very least minimising the risk of them entering the environment."


Biotech News, by Richard Wolfson, PhD

(Reprinted with permission for the January 1998 issue of Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition,
7436 Fraser Park Drive, Burnaby BC Canada V5J 5B9)

Europe Approves but Resists

In response to pressure from the US government and multinationals, the European Commission has approved genetically engineered crops such as transgenic corn and soy from the United States for import into Europe. However, biotech imports to Europe have been effectively on hold because several individual countries, including Luxembourg and Austria, have banned these products.

Since Canada has not segregated its genetically modified canola from unmodified versions, Canadian canola has not been allowed into Europe either. Canadians exports of canola to Europe, which were $180 million in 1996, are nothing for this year.

Bt Toxin Kills Beneficial Insects

Researchers at the Swiss federal research station Zuerich-Reckenholz were alarmed to find that Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin from transgenic plants "jumped over" a food chain to kill useful insects. Transgenic corn containing the Bt toxin gene not only killed European cornborers (insect pests), but also killed the larvae of green lacewings, beneficial insects that feed on the cornborers.

Another insect pest, the African cottonworm, survived after being fed the Bt corn. However, beneficial green lacewings that fed on the cottonworms died. Bt corn and potatoes, which are already on the market in Canada, are genetically engineered to contain the Bt toxin throughout the plant in order to deter insect pests.

Ladybugs Threatened by Biotech Crops

Recent studies at the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) found that potatoes genetically modified to deter aphids also damaged beneficial insects. The transgenic potatoes had snowdrop lectin (a plant protein) as the pest resistant gene in the potato, to suppress the aphids' feeding, growth and reproduction. (Ref: London Times, 22 October 1997)

The aphids who ate the biotech potatoes were then fed to ladybugs, which naturally feed on the aphids. Consequently, the number of fertilized ladybug eggs that failed to hatch was almost three times higher. Also female ladybugs who fed on these aphids only lived half as long.

As stated by the SCRI: "Our current experiments highlight the importance of assessing all trangenic crops genetically engineered for pest resistance in this way to be sure that any new type of pest-resistant crop plant does not jeopardize the delicate balance between pests and beneficial insects in agricultural ecosystems."

Dutch Retail Chain found guilty of false Advertising

Albert Heijn, the biggest Dutch retail grocery chain, was found guilty of misleading advertising in promoting biotech soybeans as having the same quality as natural soybeans.

Following complaints filed by the Dutch Natural Law Party, the Advertisement Code Commission in the Netherlands decided that Albert Heijn was guilty of false advertising and asked the company to stop making the misleading claims. Albert Heijn is part of the multinational retail chain Ahold, which subsequently filed an appeal. The Appeal Commission recently came to its decision and again found Albert Heijn guilty of false advertising.

Farmyard Freaks: Beef, Pigs and Chickens

By manipulating a gene related to muscularity, scientists recently produced a genetically engineered Belgian Blue bull with 20 per cent more beef than normal and weighing three-quarters of a tonne. Such animals engineered for increased muscle/meat content typically do not have the bones to support their own flesh. Hulking Belgian Blues can scarcely walk.

Other genetically engineered animals include fast-growing pigs with painful joints, as their legs are tiny compared to the rest of the body;
fast-growing chickens that suffer from heart disease and whose bones are so feeble they break on contact; and turkeys that are so fleshy that they cannot physically mate, but require artificial insemination.

Biotech Cotton Failure

In Mississippi, farmers could lose millions of dollars due to the failure of biotech herbicide-resistant cotton. Over an area of several thousand hectares, cotton plants have shed their cotton bolls, or produced small malformed bolls. Cotton plants from non-GE varieties were not affected. Legal proceeding by the farmers against the manufacterer are in progress. (Ref: New Scientist, 1 November 1997)

Japan Co-Op Begins Biotech Labeling

Shutoken, a large consumer's co-operative union in Japan, which includes 14 co-operatives in the Tokyo area, is now labeling foods that are free of genetically engineered ingredients. So far, this system covers 17 major items, including Japanese mainstays like miso, tofu and shoyu. Plans are already underway to greatly expand the number of foods carrying the special label.

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

Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign, for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
500 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
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' to rwolfson@concentric.net for details. To unsubscribe, send the message "unsubscribe"


Thanks to Joe Toth jthoth@lisco.com for posting this on the allsorts@gn.apc.org news group:

USA: Genetically engineered cotton suffers setback

Thursday, January 22, 1998
© Copyright 1998, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved

The Environmental Protection Agency (USA) has issued a decision that will severely cut back the amount of genetically engineered herbicide-resistant cotton planted in the United States this year. The agency has decided not to grant a petition from Rhone Poulenc to extend the use of the herbicide bromoxynil in gene-altered cotton during the 1998 growing season.

The genetically engineered cotton was developed to enable it to withstand bromoxynil, a known carcinogen that kills ordinary cotton plants. Farmers could spray a field of the genetically engineered cotton with bromoxynil and kill any other weeds that occurred. The decision was made under the rigorous standards of the new Food Quality Protection Act.

The decision is a blow both to Rhone-Poulec, the manufacturer of the herbicide and Calgene, a subsidiary of Monsanto, the distributor of the cotton seed.

"This decision unmasks the myth that genetically engineered crops are benign," said Dr. Jane Rissler, a plant pathologist and senior scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists. "The sole purpose of this cotton is to expand the use of a very dangerous pesticide."

The EPA's decision will drastically reduce the amount of gene-altered cotton planted during the 1998 growing season. The agency is sending letters to the nation's cotton growers informing them that without the maximum residue limit, it will be illegal to use bromoxynil on genetically engineered cotton and that they should plan accordingly.

"We congratulate the EPA for making public safety paramount," said Rissler. Visit Union of Concerned Scientists http://www.ucsusa.org


Indonesia Could become GE dumping place

© Copyright 1998 JAKARTA POST all rights reserved as distributed by WorldSources Online, Inc.
JAKARTA POST January 22, 1998

JAKARTA (JP): Environmentalists warned yesterday that Indonesia could soon be the target market for genetically modified crops which they claim have long-term harmful side effects.

Vandana Shiva, an environmental activist from India and Tewolde Egzaiber, the head of the Ethiopian Conservation Garden, said genetically modified food commodities such as soybean could be bound here in increasing numbers as traditional markets such as Europe become more selective of such products.

While long-term studies still prove inconclusive, they strongly suspect that genetically modified crops could be harmful to consumers' health and the environment.

They said that Europe was already debating measures to scrutinize such products by labeling them.

Speaking at a discussion on genetic engineering and biosafety in the Third World here yesterday, they said Indonesia could become a ''dumping place'' if people in other parts of the world began refusing to consume such commodities. The demand here could also increase.

Indonesia already imports between 400,000 and 600,000 tons of soybean annually, mostly from the United States.

Indonesia was last year hit by a severe drought which has seen soybean production shrink by 3.82 percent.

Tariffs on items such as soybean have also been reduced to 20 percent and will go down further to 5 percent in 2003.

Vandana, an internationally recognized physicist, said it was now up to consumers to resist genetically modified food commodities in the market since the government could no longer regulate such prohibitions.

But she maintained that the government could help by separating the shipment of genetically modified foods from organically processed food to allow consumers to differentiate between them.

She also called for a campaign to increase public awareness on the possible long-term side effects of such products.

Tewolde, a delegate at biodiversity conventions, said the government could help raise awareness by providing factual information.


From: MichaelP papadop@PEAK.ORG
Subject: gen down on the pharm

Nigel Hawkes looks at the implications of using genetically modified farmyard animals to compete with the pharmaceutical industry giants

Drugs Factory down on the Pharm

by Nigel Hawkes, London Times January 26 1998 BRITAIN

[picture: Dr James Robl, right, pictured with Steven Stice of Advanced Cell Technology, discussing the plans for the calves George and Charlie]

DRUG factories of the future will walk around on four legs and eat hay, according to the pioneers of "pharming", a new type of farming. A dozen goats, a flock of sheep or a few cows, modified by the insertion of a human gene, can produce as much as a large modern manufacturing plant costing tens of millions of pounds.

Two products made in this way are already in clinical trials, with dozens more likely to follow. As well as promising cheaper drugs for the many, pharming offers hope to the few people with diseases so rare that pharmaceutical companies cannot justify producing remedies.

The newest animals down on the pharm are two calves, George and Charlie, which have been cloned from foetal cells and incorporate human genes. Their births were announced last week at a conference in Boston by scientists from Advanced Cell Technology and the University of Massachusetts. George and Charlie prove that techniques proved on sheep and goats will also work with cows.

One of the scientists, Dr James Robl, said that the technique was "repeatable and commercially viable". A single cow carrying the gene for human serum albumin, used in blood transfusions, could produce 80kg a year in its milk, worth £3150,000.

Animals are not the only means of producing drugs or vaccines: plants can also be modified so that their leaves, seeds, fruit or tubers contain active materials. Dr Iain Cubitt, of Axis Genetics, a Cambridge company that has produced a vaccine against parvovirus in dogs using the cowpea, says that plant-based vaccine production would not only be simpler but "orders of magnitude" cheaper than today's complex procedures.

Dutch researchers have engineered rabbits to produce an enzyme to treat people with the rare genetic Pompe's disease. They believe milk from 200 rabbits would produce enough to satisfy world demand.

Most drugs consist of fairly small molecules created by chemists and manufactured synthetically. Animals cannot make these but they can make biological products - hormones, proteins and enzymes - that have a growing role in medicine but are so complex that they cannot be synthesised.

Three companies own most of the important patents on transgenic animal technology: PPL Therapeutics, set up to exploit research at the Roslin research institute in Edinburgh where the cloned lambs Dolly and Polly were produced; Genzyme Transgenics, of Framingham, Massachusetts; and Pharming Holding NV, based in Leiden in The Netherlands. Advanced Cell Technology is a relative newcomer run by Steve Parkinson, a Scot who in the early 1990s was sales manager at PPL but then left to join Genzyme before setting up on his own.

Over the past year Genzyme has made a string of announcements as it has successfully incorporated human genes for a variety of products into mice. These include human growth hormone, used for treating growth deficiency in children and a wasting condition linked to Aids, the market for which is worth $1.1 billion a year. Genzyme has also produced beta-interferon, a natural product used to treat multiple sclerosis.

Mice do not produce practical amounts of a drug but they are a quick and cheap way of proving the technology. The genes can then be incorporated into sheep, goats or cows, "bioreactors that eat hay", in the words of Harry Meade, a vice-president of Genzyme.

In a recent issue of Nature Biotechnology, he and Carol Ziomek, also from Genzyme, gave a breakdown of the costs of producing human growth hormone in cows. One cow, yielding 10,000 litres of milk a year, would produce 10kg of growth hormone. If it cost $10,000 a year to keep the cow, the hormone would be produced at $1 a gram, thousands of times cheaper than present production.

Milk is not the only bodily fluid that can be used to yield drugs. In the same issue of Nature Biotechnology, a team led by Dr Robert Wall of the US Department of Agriculture reported that they had produced mice that generated human growth hormone in the lining of their bladder, so that it appeared in their urine. Since urine contains little protein, extracting the product may be simpler than from milk but production levels appear lower, at least in these experiments.

Of the two pharmed products in clinical trials, one is alpha 1 antitrypsin, produced by Roslin/PPL and intended for the treatment of patients with cystic fibrosis. The other is antithrombin III, made by Genzyme in goats, which is a blood plasma protein with many uses in the treatment of accident victims or those having organ transplants or hip implants.

Products from milk should be safer than those derived from human blood donations because they will not run a risk of passing on human viruses such as HIV or hepatitis. But extreme care will have to be taken to ensure that animal viruses are not transmitted.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has announced that it plans to hold a new inquiry into the genetic modificatiuon of plants that will include both practical and ethical implications. The working party will be chaired by Professor Alan Ryan, the Warden of New College, Oxford.

---------------------------------------

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 the included information for research and educational purposes.

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

Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign, for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
500 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
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' to rwolfson@concentric.net for details. To unsubscribe, send the message "unsubscribe"


Date: Mon, 26 Jan 1998 12:21:29 -0800 (PST)
From: "A. Gayle Hudgens, Ph.D." aghudgens@earthlink.net
Subject: The National Organic Charade

Judy Kew suggested that I post the following article which was published January 22, 1998, in the Hays Country Free Press (a small Texas weekly). It may also be archived on The Simple Living Network before too long. http://slnet.com

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

Genetically Manipulated Organisms and Sewer Sludge in Food

by A. Gayle Hudgens, Ph.D. © 1998

After failing miserably to fix the problem of contaminated foods (especially at packing plants) which the Centers for Disease Control estimates causes illness for 30 million Americans and death for more than 9,000 each year, the U S Department of Agriculture may have blown it again. This time, swayed by lobbyists for corporate science and technology, the USDA now seemingly wants to befoul healthy, safe, organic food. As you readmthis, the most formidable technology ever devised --genetically manipulated (or modified) organisms (GMO), also known as genetically engineered (GE) food and euphemistically as "biotechnology" -- is being deployed around the world with no attention to the repercussions to health, society, all our futures.

This might be fine and dandy were we assured of the need for and safety of this new technology. It, however, strikes out wretchedly in the needs category. As Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael and the Story of B, has said,

"Unlike deer, which decline in number when their increased population strains their food supply, we humans grow more food when our population increases... [furthermore] The starving millions are used as an excuse for us to increase our food production, yet the surplus does not reach the starving millions."

In the safety arena, the agricultural industrial complex is equally clueless. No one knows whether GMO technology will alter Nature, cause more resistance in antibiotics, jump to wild or other plant species, or cause harm to bees, beneficial insects, pets, humans. As Dr. Suzanne Wuerthele, a nationally known expert in toxicology and risk assessment in these matters, asserts:

"There is no process -- across all U.S. federal agencies-- to evaluate the hazards of GE organisms,... no formal risk assessment methodologies. No science policies.... No understanding of the full range of hazards from GE organisms."

Moreover, she maintains that GMO is being "promoted, in the face of concerns by respectable scientists and in the face of data to the contrary, by the very agencies which are supposed to be protecting human health and the environment." Most damning, she says, concerned scientists "are told to be silent."

This is not what Congress intended in 1990 when it passed the Organic Foods Production Act, to which the USDA was supposed to have given life via rules, regulations, and standards by 1993. It's 1998 and they still haven't done so.

Hays County farmer Steve Sprinkel calls this Act "The Mouse That Roared." The certified organic grower and respected national leader in organic foods production contends that

"when USDA finally attempted to implement the little thing, when they really started to figure out what organic farming implies about conventional agriculture and food safety, there was no recourse but to set a trap for it by creating an implementation procedure that would kill it."

Thus, in some Brave New World Order of doublespeak, the USDA seems to be collapsing the distinction between organic and non-organic foods. Contrary to the spirit of the 1990 Act, USDA has left the door open to foods that are

  1. grown in toxic sewage sludge (most of which not only contains germs of pandemic proportions but often industrial heavy metals like cadmium, mercury, and 31 varieties of radioactive materials);

  2. factory-farmed (where cows, etc., are raised in such cramped conditions that they become ill, and are then force-fed large amounts of antibiotics, chemicals to kill larvae, flies, and other pests, and a concoction made from their ground-up diseased and dead neighbors--the last practice of which studies have shown contribute to the rise of Mad Cow Disease);

  3. irradiated (what else can be done with all that nuclear waste!); and

  4. genetically engineered, the most recent _sine qua non_ of Big Agriculture. With this lack of commitment to public health, is it any wonder that millions are getting sick and thousands are dying annually? Sounds like a perverse sci-fi plot to control population!

Judy Kew, also of Hays County, agrees with Ronnie Cummins of the Pure Foods Campaign who says this is nothing short of an "unfriendly take over" of the natural foods industry by agribusiness, chemical-biotech corporations, and giant supermarket chains. Judy transformed her initial disgust into a vital organization, Texas Consumers for Safe Food, which works to save organic standards and to educate people about GE foods.

Kew, Sprinkel, Wuerthele, and countless others concerned about the gutting of organic standards will tell you: the single most important thing you can do to stop this horrendous charade is to write (with a copy to your congressperson) and express your concerns to

Eileen S. Stommes, Deputy Administrator
USDA-AMS-TM-NOP,
Room 4007-So.
Ag. Stop 0275
P.O. Box 96456
Washington, DC 20090-6456

Docket #TMD-94-00-2 (Be sure to include this docket number or your letter won't count).

If you want more information or help in composing your letter, check out Whole Foods on the Web at http://www.wholefoods.com/wfm/healthinfo/bioengineering.html or call Sprinkel at 512.328.7922 or E-mail Judy_Kew@greenbuilder.com . Do it today!
It's the People vs. the Brave New World Order.

------------------------------

Garden Gab Column, Hays County Free Press, Jan. 22, 1998
A. Gayle Hudgens, Ph.D., c1998 All rights reserved.
May be freely transmitted if all copyright data is left intact. aghudgens@earthlink.net


Date: Tue, 27 Jan 1998 16:07:06 GMT
From: Judy_Kew@greenbuilder.com (Judy Kew)
Subject: Land O'Lakes to sell GE Rhizobium for alfalfa seed

This was the original posting, I believe, from Suzanne and Pure Foods Campaign in September on the rhizobium release.

Forwarded message:
From: WUERTHELE.SUZANNE@epamail.epa.gov
To: purefood@aol.com
Date: 97-09-23 18:00:45 EDT

Cenex Land O'Lakes to sell GE Rhizobium for alfalfa seed

On Tuesday September 16th, the Environmental Protection Agency signed a Consent Order with Research Seeds, a subsidiary of Cenex Land O'lakes, for commercial production of 500,000 lbs of a genetically engineered bacteria called Rhizobium meliloti RMB-PC2. This product will be distributed in alfalfa fields nationwide starting in the Spring of 1998.

Rhizobia colonize the roots of legumes, where they convert nitrogen from the air into soluble nitrates which plants can use. Thus, legumes like alfalfa are used as "green manure". They are grown for a few years, then plowed into the soil, and those fields are subsequently planted with non-legumes like corn.

The genetically engineered rhizobium is designed to coat alfalfa seed (most soils already contain the natural strain of rhizobium) so the genetically engineered rhizobium will colonize the plants rather than the natural strains already present in soil. Unlike the natural rhizobium the engineered form contains two genes for nitrogen fixation; the hope is it will boost alfalfa yield.

The new rhizobium also contains genes to enhance its internal energy production, some "uncharacterized" DNA, and a gene which confers resistance to the antibiotics streptomycin and spectinomycin.

------------------------------

http://www.greenbuilder.com
telnet://fc.greenbuilder.com:3000
modem: 512.462.0633

Green Building Professionals Directory at http://www.greenbuilder.com/directory/

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 27 Jan 1998 09:34:03 -0800 (PST)
From: MichaelP papadop@PEAK.ORG Subject: Land O'Lakes to sell GE Rhizobium for alfalfa seed (fwd)

I have a question here.

Bacteria have been used to "help" the nitrogen-fixing procesds by luguminous plants like alfalfa. clover at least since the late 1940-'s, and the resulting vegetation has been used both as "green manure" and in the making of hay-for-feed. So nothing is new in what SuzanneW desacribes except for the GE bacterium.

What is claimed for the new bacterium? What harmful effects are prophesied? What unanticipated effects are possible?

MichaelP


Date: Tue, 27 Jan 1998 09:39:59 -0800
From: Craig Winters craig@craigwinters.com
Subject: OTA Press Release

Dear BanGenFood:

Here is a press release that came through the NewsProfiles on AOL.

Craig Winters craig@craigwinters.com and http://www.craigwinters.com

********************************************************

Organic Standards At Risk

Organic Trade Association Cites Nine Threats to Organic Integrity in USDA's Proposed Rule

GREENFIELD, Mass., Jan. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The Organic Trade Association (OTA) announced today that the association is fundamentally opposed to the proposed national organic regulations as currently set forth by the USDA. "We strongly believe that the Proposed Rule is not compatible or consistent with current organic practices," said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director for the OTA. "We fervently believe that the current draft of the regulations 'lowers the standard' for organic and is unacceptable as written."

As the organic industry has used either state and/or independent third- party certification with strict criteria for over 20 years, there is intense worry that the proposed federal regulations will actually be weaker than the current decentralized regulation practices. "The industry has developed and maintained high standards that consumers have grown to trust and expect from the certified organic label," said DiMatteo.

Two organic industry meetings were held last week in Washington, D.C. and San Jose, Calif., as a means of gathering industry and public opinion in response to the USDA's current draft of the national organic regulations, which were released on December 16, 1997 for public review through May 1, 1998. After gathering information and input from over 200 organic industry members at the OTA-sponsored meetings, the OTA announced its grave concern that the USDA, by not following the recommendations of the 14-member National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), has placed the term "organic" at risk of losing its high integrity meaning.

"As we see it, the USDA's Proposed Rule blurs the lines between conventional and organic agriculture. The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 was originally enacted because Congress recognized that organic production is different enough from conventional agriculture to justify its own clear definition," said DiMatteo.

The OTA, after its study of the lengthy and complex proposed regulations and after analyzing the significant input from the industry, cites nine key areas of concern that, if left unchanged in the final draft, would force the OTA and other organizations in the organic industry to "take a serious look at the validity of these federal regulations," said DiMatteo. "We must insist on national standards that stick to the true meaning of organic. The Proposed Rule does not accomplish that objective."

The Top Nine Threats to Organic Integrity As Set Forth in the Proposed Rule:

  1. Missing the "Big Picture" by eliminating key concepts

    The definition of organic as written in the proposed national organic standards lacks the holistic approach central to organic practices. The proposed rules take a reductionist approach to organic food production that eliminates key concepts such as the health of the agro-ecosystem and biodiversity on the farm.

  2. Ignoring the recommendations of the National Organic Standards Board

    The USDA undermines the NOSB's authority in this draft of the proposed regulations. The USDA has ignored the clearly mandated authority the NOSB was given in the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 to recommend the National List of Materials for organic practices.

  3. Possible inclusion of genetically-engineered organisms (GEOs) in organic systems

    The use of GEOs is an unproven technology that the organic system does not need in order to grow high quality and nutritious food. There is not enough scientific data documenting the long-term impact GEOs will have on the environment or human health.

  4. Possible inclusion of food irradiation in post-harvest organic production

    Food irradiation (ionizing radiation) is a synthetic process has never been an allowed in organic production. The long-term effects of irradiation are still unknown and it is not a panacea to food safety concerns.

  5. Possible inclusion of biosolids (sewage sludge) in organic farm practices

    Sewage sludge from municipalities' waste may contain heavy metals and toxins and, therefore, is not appropriate for use on land where food is to be grown for human consumption. The use of sludge has never been allowed in organic food production and is completely unnecessary.

  6. Weak livestock section

    The livestock section is weak as currently written, and gives too much leeway in the amount of non-organic livestock feed, types of living conditions and use of antibiotics and other animal drugs allowed in organic production. The organic industry expects the regulations to include the use of only 100% organic feed, and consumers expect absolutely no antibiotics in organic meat and dairy production.

  7. Unnecessary loopholes

    Loopholes were created when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) eliminated the carefully worded restrictions on the use of materials common to the current organic standards, replacing them with new terms such as "active" and "non-active" synthetics and ingredients. There is no historic or legal reason to create new terms. These loopholes will allow synthetic materials and ingredients in organic production that have never been allowed before.

  8. Weakened de-certification authority

    Under the proposed rules, the authority to decertify growers, processors and manufacturers has been placed solely in the hands of the Secretary of Agriculture. As a result, there would be no efficient de-certification process and therefore products not meeting organic requirements may remain on market shelves longer. Enforcement of certification standards, currently placed in the hands of private certifiers, may be weakened through what will inevitably be a lengthy bureaucratic process.

  9. Ignoring historical land usage practices

    Under the proposed rule, previous usage of agricultural land will not be taken into consideration for certification. Under the proposal, if the land has been free of toxic chemicals for at least three years, it can be certified. Under this scenario, it would be possible for previously contaminated lands, such as Superfund sites to become certified organic. Current organic standards mandate that the complete history of the land be taken under consideration prior to granting certification.

For more information about the organic industry and the OTA's position on the proposed national organic regulations, visit the OTA web site at http://www.ota.com or call the OTA headquarters at 413-774-5484.

The Organic Trade Association is the business association representing the organic industry in the United States and Canada. Its over 600 members include growers, processors, shippers, retailers, certification organizations and others involved in the business of producing and selling certified organic products. SOURCE:CO:ST:IN:SU:
Organic Trade Association
Organic Trade Association
Massachusetts
AGR FOD REA
01/27/98 08:48 EST http://www.prnewswire.com

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