Genetically Manipulated Food News

7 February 1998

Table of Contents

Monsanto's response to HARPER's magazine
Bio-Piracy: Australian Case Highlights Debate on Intellectual Property
GE and World Hunger
Beneficial Insects Killed by Biotech Plants
Industry Reacts To Proposed Organic Rules
Canadians Demand Labeling of Biotech Foods
Herbicide Resistance Transferred to Weeds
Unapproved GE Sugar Beets Processed by Mistake
Thai Government Stops Biotech Cotton
How to Shop to Avoid Genetically Engineered Food
Dr. Jaan Suurkula: Physicians and Scientists Against GE Food
Local (South African) doctors 'set to clone humans'
Are third world countries being chosen as fertile ground for odious cloning process?

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Date: Wed, 4 Feb 1998 13:44:00 EST
Subject: Re: Monsanto's response to HARPER's magazine

In the January 1998 issue of Harper's magazine, there are two responses to a previous article about the hazards of modern crop science and biotechnology. Here's the more interesting and infuriating one by Monsanto.

Monsanto's response to HARPER's magazine

David Ehrenfeld's essay on biotechnology ["A Techno-pox upon the Land," Readings, October], which argues that genetic engineering and other argicultural technologies pose significant risks to humans, ignores the most fundamental challages facing agriculture today and unfairly criticizes the work of many thousands of dedicated scientists, public sevents, and farmers around the world.

The world's population has nearly doubled since 1960, and most demographers agree that it will nearly double again in the next forty years. Can agriculture continue to keep up? At monsanto, we are committed to finding safe solutions to this great challenge, and we believe that biotechnology continues to hold great promisee for increasing yields while preserving raw materials and precious lands.

Robert T Fraley, Co-President, Ag Sector
Monsanto Company, St. Louis, Mo

The other letter was from Norman E Borlaug, a noble laureate and faculty member of Texas A&M which basically said the world's pop is growing and we should seek a more reasonable balance between food production/distribution and human population growth.


Date: Wed, 04 Feb 1998 16:50:09 -0500
From: "Dave Rietz ("
Subject: Monsanto's response to HARPER's magazine

The world's population has nearly doubled since 1960, and most demographers agree that it will nearly double again in the next forty years. Can agriculture continue to keep up?

Robert T Fraley,

Co-President, Ag Sector
Monsanto Company, St. Louis, Mo

Sounds like an excellent reason to get REAL serious about birth/population control and family planning... instead of trying to figure out how to feed more people so there can be more babies who grow up needing more food with which to make more babies... until the whole system collapses REGARDLESS of what mankind does next.

Mr. Fraley's "pep-talk" assumes that the ONLY controls available belong to corporations who gain from all aspects of overpopulation. Time to correct the CAUSE, not the effect!


Date: Thu, 5 Feb 1998 21:08:29 -0800 (PST)
From: MichaelP papadop@PEAK.ORG
Subject: Biopiracy by Aust. agency

Bio-Piracy: Australian Case Highlights Debate on Intellectual Property

Two Australian crop development agencies last week were forced to drop patent requests on two chickpea varieties the agencies admit were acquired from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in India. The two agencies had signed an agreement with ICRISAT, saying that they would not commercialize or license the varieties obtained for research purposes. While the two Australian agencies admitted they were not the original breeders of the germplasm, they proceeded to apply for Plant Breeders Rights (PBR) with the Australian government. PBRs serve as patent-like intellectual property claims on crops.

Meanwhile, Australia is coming under fire for its role in processing PBR claims by Australian breeders who contributed nothing of value to germplasm development. "Australia is privatizing seeds that belong to our farmers, and they plan to sell them back to us with their own self-authorized plant monopoly," said a spokesman for a South Asian farmer organization. "No work was done to improve on the Indian variety. It was a direct piracy of the genius of farmers here," the spokesman said.

The Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) blew the whistle on the two Australian agencies in the chickpea case. RAFI officials noted 26 cases of PBR claims in Australia where the germplasm originated in other countries, even though Australian laws prohibit PBR claims in cases where the applicant is not the original breeder. The chickpea case is part of a broader international bio-piracy investigation underway by a group of non-governmental organizations, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Bank-based Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

While a legally-binding treaty on the exchange of germplasm is worked out, nearly half a million seed varieties from around the world, including the two chickpea germplasm from ICRISAT, are being administered under a trusteeship between crop research centers and the FAO. Last year, FAO negotiators learned that Australia was opposed to a key "Farmers' Rights" principle in the germplasm-exchange treaty. Farmers' Rights--recognizing farmers' contributions to germplasm development and right to share in any benefits derived from commercial or other use, were accepted by the FAO in 1985 and at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Even with a legally-binding treaty on germplasm exchange, monitoring abuses will be difficult. Neither the FAO or CGIAR have the resources to truly manage the vast wealth of agricultural resources present in the germplasm trusteeship.

According to Neth Dano of SEARICE, "At this moment, we have to advise national governments that their bilateral agreements with Australian agencies could be abused. [P]oor countries don't have the capacity to police the world's patent offices to protect their farmers. We need to strengthen the multilateral system to make sure that countries aren't ripped off by dishonest corporations and industrialized countries." RAFI's Edward Hammond echoes this concern. "Far from an abberation, it seems that several Australian states and institutes feel they have carte blanche to pirate other peoples' knowledge and seeds."

"Biopiracy: beg, borrow, or steal," TERRAVIVA (IPS), January 27, 1998.
"Aussies "pirate" others genius?" RAFI PRESS RELEASE, February 1, 1998.

Date: Fri, 6 Feb 1998 07:32:15 -0300
From: (Martin Rickinger)
Subject: GE and world hunger

GE and World Hunger

The multis promise their new genetically manipulated food will solve the world hunger crisis. Well, in one way it will. We all have heard of the famous saint saying, people that will eat transgenic food will live much shorter.

Well, the ladybird study, that everyone knows, and the enclosed study on 2 other insects proves this direction. Well reducing the world population by half by letting them eat transgenic food also solves the world hunger crisis, that by the way doesn't exist.

In Europe the gov'ts subsidize the farmers heavily to plant less; for every field they leave unplanted they get money, as there's too much food being produced. Same thing holds true on the dairy market. Every year a huge amount of fruits, etc. is being burnt, because it can't be sold. And this with one harvest. What to speak of countries like Brasil, where they do upto 3 harvests on several crops (soja, grapes, etc.), if they organize well.

Intellectual Property & Biodiversity News
Vol. 7, Number 2 February 04, 1998

Beneficial Insects Killed by Biotech Plants

Swiss researchers were alarmed recently when they discovered 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 cotton worm, survived after being fed Bt corn, but the beneficial green lacewings that fed on the cottonworms died. Bt corn and potatoes, which are already on the market, are genetically engineered to contain the Bt toxin throughout the plant in order to deter insect pests.

"Bt Toxin Kills Beneficial Insects,"

Industry Reacts To Proposed Organic Rules

Our farmers are concerned that we have established a stellar reputation for the term organic in the marketplace and we have tremendous customer loyalty that we don't want to see devalued. We have set extra high standards, demonstratively higher than the proposed rules, which will put us at a competitive disadvantage. The law enables factory farming and allows corporations to cash in on the good name we have established for organic. It's totally unacceptable.

There are four main areas we are concerned with.

First is allowing high technology that has historically been unacceptable with producers and consumers. Technologies such as GMOs and irradiation in particular, for which there is no support within our industry. It would allow the intensive confinement of livestock. Many of our consumers choose organic for many reasons, and part of that in the dairy area is that we treat our livestock with different ethical standards. The organic standards would almost fit perfectly the existing industry management practices of larger organizations, so they wouldn't have to change the operations more than just feeding organic feed.

Second, the prohibited inputs or methods currently in organics that would be allowed are unacceptable. This concerns toxic sludge and use of rendered animal parts in feed. There is a direct concern with BSE. But this area also concerns allowing many chemical inputs that all certification agencies currently don't allow. We are compiling a list of 20 to 30 methods and products that the USDA would allow that have never been allowed in organics and still shouldn't be.

There is a concern also with the potential prohibiting of stating on your label that your organic product has higher standards than those of the USDA. If in the worst case, organic would allow GMOs, and chemicals and all the rest, and we want to have a higher standard and say what that is on our label, we think that it is a first amendment right. There are very few industries where customers are so romantically attached to their products as in the natural foods industry, and particularly the organic foods area.

There is a commitment to the family farm model. Look at what happened to the word "natural" in the business. Today, there is a perceived standard for certified organic food and there is a high level of integrity. We went to USDA seeking for even higher standards and enforceable uniformity.

However, we don't want to lower our current standards; corporate agribusiness would love to take the word "organic" because of its high value. The issue also concerns retailers because if a customer can go to any supermarket and get so-called "organic" products that are not differentiated from higher standard products, why would they patronize a natural foods store? Our stores offer more information and knowledge plus products, and they would be put at a competitive disadvantage. The process was disrespectful because it became so politicized. NOSB worked very hard to overcome internal conflicts to come up with high standards that were agreeable to everyone--producers, retailers, certifiers, consumers. We turned our standards over to USDA and they came out completely different. Who had the ultimate say in these standards?

Mark A. Kastel, Farm Policy Analyst, CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley Family of Farms, the largest farmer-owned cooperative in the country

I'm happy to see that it's out after all of this work. But because of the open questions, the work is not done. But I'm confident those issues will be resolved. It's clear that those are not a part of an organic program. Irradiation was not even on our radar screen. It's hard to imagine a food that has been irradiated to be considered organic. The key issue for us at Horizon is what they did with antibiotics and livestock. They basically disregarded NOSB's proposed 90-day withdrawal period and went to the standard FDA period. This says that a cow's milk can be considered organic if the cow is off of antibiotics for about a 5-day period. But, this is counter to what the American public accept as organic. I assume there was some disagreement once the document reached OMB and FDA. OMBS was very opposed to things being prescribed specifically. It wanted more comment. What is positive for us is the broader consumer awareness and the fact the government is endorsing organic as a production method.

Mark Retzloff, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Horizon Organic Dairy, Boulder, Colo.

The announcement of the proposed rules didn't have any impact on the trading of related companies. Most of the knowledgeable people on organics were aware of what was happening. The announcement and resulting publicity was not enough to trigger any changes on the stock market.

Yudi Bahl, Market Analyst, Piper Jaffray, Minneapolis

Whole Foods has been a little unusual. It was weak, and it's up 3.5 today [the day of the rules announcement]. I'm hesitant to say it's because of the organic information. It's not such a big issue for most analysts. It's been out there and proposed for a while. But overall it will have a good impact.

Mark Hanratty, Analyst, Paine Webber

The first glimpse represents a workable document with too many holes. We expect to join with other constituents to urge the USDA to reformat the document so that it is more similar to NOSB recommendations. We want to make sure they ban the more toxic natural materials that most organic groups don't allow. Also we'd like to ensure that the NOSB has statutory rights intact to review materials. Another point is requiring 100 % feed for organic dairy; the rule says only 80 percent is allowed. For the next few weeks comments will be coming from every which direction, With the remarkable media attention we have the power to stop a bad thing from happening.

Bob Scowcroft, Executive Director, Organic Farming Research Foundation, Santa Cruz, Calif.

I believe the industry could be harmed by these proposed rules. The EPA and FDA forced USDA to adopt these loose guidelines, Consumers and producers wanted a complete prohibition, and why didn't USDA do it exclusively? Politics? The thought that organic farm fields could be soaked year after year with toxic substances (industrial sludge) is outrageous. The Pure Food Campaign is starting a grass-roots lobbying effort called Saved Organic Standards (SOS). If USDA gets a record number of comments from consumers and industry officials about this, we hope they will be forced back.

Ronnie Cummins, Pure Food Campaign, Little Marais, Minn.

I am outraged at the allowances of GMOs. We welcome the attempt to set standards. But USDA should have closed the door on genetic engineering in the organic community. Instead of closing the door, USDA both left it open and set the stage for some members of the industry to put its foot over the threshold.

Jane Rissler, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Union for Concerned Scientists, Washington, D.C.

I am excited the proposals are out. It gives us something to work with now. There was lots of great work behind it and now we're ready to explore what's in there. It's important to be cognizant of organic principles and judging it according to that. Obviously there are some major concerns regarding genetic engineering, irradiation and bio solids. But there is lots of other items in there that need to be explore. I'm confident that we can come up with a great document. There is a need and desire for comments with substance behind it. It's import ant for us in the industry to look carefully and think about the issues and write real constructive comments to give the USDA some ideas and leads. We're encouraging customers to respond as well. We've put lots of information on the big issues on our web site.

Margaret Wittenberg, Communications Director, Quality Assurance, Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas

It is a great step of progress that any form of organic certification has been established nationwide. However, there are significant weaknesses in the current proposed draft of standards in that they do not categorically exclude all genetically engineered foods, ingredients, additives, or processing agents for foods. This creates a situation in which citizens or consumers' confidence in organic foods and the organic food label, could be substantially threatened.

Kingsley Brooks, national chairman of the Natural Law Party

The concern is that USDA maintain the spirit of the organic law passed by Congress in 1990. After patiently waiting seven years, we're glad the organic regulations are published, but take issue with some of USDA's additions in the form of questions for the public to consider. At Pavich, there is no grey area about our stance on irradiation, the use of sewage sludge, the use of antibiotics in livestock production and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).

We are absolutely opposed to these practices in organic agriculture and processing, and believe strongly that they should be left out of the final draft of the national organic regulations. However, releasing the regulations is an important step toward the implementation of a federal organic law. My dad (Stephen Sr.) would be proud of the organic community and our exhaustive efforts for an organic law. And, he would be telling our family to keep up the fight for a high integrity national organic standard.

Tom Pavich, president, Pavich Family Farms, Terra Bella, Calif.

In a critical oversight, the proposed regulations leave out prohibiting genetically engineered and irradiated foods and the use of bio-solids (sludge) from organic farming practices. Citizens for Health endorses the view that organic farming is a unique ecological balancing which does not include the concepts of irradiation, genetic engineering and the use of bio-solids. The purity of organic produce must be protected through USDA regulations so that consumers know what they're getting when the buy "organic."

Citizens For Health (CFH), Boulder, Colo.

Biotech News, by Richard Wolfson, PhD

Reprinted with permission from the Feb. 1997 issue of Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition, 7436 Fraser Park Drive, Burnaby, BC V5J 5B9

Canadians Demand Labeling of Biotech Foods

Last December, petitions with over 10,000 names calling for mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods were delivered to federal ministry of health offices in Ottawa. (In Japan, retailers collected one million signatures demanding labelling.) Health food stores and concerned citizens from across the country who gathered the names are congratulated for their efforts, and encouraged to continue in the initiative. The Canadian goal is 100,000 names, while in USA the goal is one million in 1998. To obtain a petition in Canada, contact the Consumer Right to Know Campaign, at Tel. 613-565-8517, see the website , or email:

Herbicide Resistance Transferred to Weeds

A government study in the state of Lower Saxony in Germany recently reported on genetically engineered canola plants. The report claims that the biotech canola passed on their herbicide-resistance gene to ordinary canola growing as far as 200 metres away. The Minister of the Environment in Lower Saxony, Monika Griefahn, explained that the research confirmed her worst fears: "Once the manipulated genes are released into the surroundings, there is no way to contain them."

Studies published in Denmark, as well as by the Scottish Crop Research Institute, have also shown that GE canola readily cross pollinates, not only with non-engineered canola, but also with wild weedy relatives (such as field mustard and radish) up to 2.5 kilometers away. The transfer of herbicide resistance to weeds may produce "super-weeds," which are resistant to herbicides, are extremely difficult to control, and force farmers to move on to more toxic chemicals.

Unapproved GE Sugar Beets Processed by Mistake

A test batch of Monsanto genetically modified sugar beets was mistakenly sent to a Dutch refiner and mixed with normal sugar. The herbicide resistant sugar beets had been approved for testing, but not for consumption. However, several hundred kilos of the GE beets were processed into 300 kg of refined sugar, which were then mixed in with several thousand tones of processed sugar. Company officials state that they have prevented any of the genetically engineered product from reaching the market by isolating 10,000 tones of the refined sugar.

Thai Government Stops Biotech Cotton

In November, the Thai government called off field tests on Bt cotton, which is genetically engineered to contain its own insect toxin to kill insect pests. Thai officials were concerned that the foreign toxin genes would spread to related plants and kill insects in wider areas of the country. Preliminary findings indicated that 30% of the bee population died in areas where the Bt cotton was being tested. Further assessment is in progress. In addition, makers of Thai herbal medicine were concerned that the GE cotton would cross-breeding with other species of the cotton family, which are used in the production of traditional health remedies, and interfere with their medicinal properties.

Thanks again to Judy Kew for putting most of this list together. It was put together for North America, so you would have to check for other countries if it is valid.

How to Shop to Avoid Genetically Engineered Food

Foods to Avoid or Boycott:

Specified Brand Name Products to Boycott:

These Companies use Genetically Engineered ingredients in some or all of their products

Avoid ALL other conventinal (not certified ORGANIC):

Avoid ALL Products derived from the above non-organic items

As of the beginning of 1997, these products will have been genetically engineered and on the market as a percentage of the total conventional food supply. Since they are sold unlabeled in the conventional market, there is no way to tell specifically which tomatoes, potatoes, corn, soy, etc. have been actually genetically engineered. If you live in a nation which may receive imports from the U.S. and Canada, you should also avoid these non-organic foods as a safety precaution. Your own nation or another exporting to yours may be doing genetic engineering. Eat only organic food if possible. Even if you buy seeds to grow your own food, buy only organic seeds.

Avoid eating in non-organic restaurants

Unless the restaurant management makes it clear in writing that they are committed to using only non-genetically engineered foods and products, avoid eating out as much as possible. Since genetically engineered foods are not labeled, they also have no idea which of their tomato, potato, corn, soy, canola, yellow-crook-neck squash products may be genetically engineered.

Read Labels Carefully with ALL processed Foods

Watch out for Conventional, Non-Organic Corn and Soy, because they are in so many products


Avoid rBGH Milk and Dairy Products

(apologies to strict vegans): Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH), marketed through veterinarians and injected into dairy cows, causes increased milk production and horrible mastitis. These cows then require constant medical supervision and continuous high doses of antibiotics. Their milk contains high levels of pus. The cow's milk and dairy products made from this milk also contain rBGH, bovine growth hormone. This hormone increases cancer risk in human beings.

Avoid Aspartame

This is known as the artificial sweetener Equal or NutraSweet and is made up of three chemicals and a genetically engineered enzyme. It has been implicated in many diseases. It breaks down into formeldahyde in the body.

Eat only Organic Rennet-less Cheese

(apologies to strict vegans): Most non-organic cheeses are made with a genetically engineered rennet called chymosin.

Avoid Dough Conditioner

This is a code word for a combination of genetically engineered enzymes and other components, found in cheaper breads and baked goods.

Avoid Genetically Engineered Additives and Enzymes

Foods to Favour

Buy and Eat Only Certified Organic Foods

Certified organic tomatoes, potatoes, corn, soy, canola oil, cotton oil, and yellow-crook-neck squash are safe. Many other genetically engineered products will be coming to market in 1997 and 1998 if the bio-tech industry has its way. By buying only organic foods of every type, you will protect yourself and your family from Frankenfoods. Almost everything that can be found in your conventional food market is also produced by the organic food industry. If you buy a few carefully chosen conventional foods, keep up-to-date on which few conventional foods are safe through the websites and mailing lists at the end of this consumer report.

Watch Meat and Poultry

(apologies to vegetarians) Most livestock are being fed genetically altered feed, as well as a disgusting mix of ground-up and often diseased and discarded animal carcasses. The only safe beef and poultry will be those fed only organically grown grain. Avoid commercially produced seafood. Commercial pork has been genetically altered with DNA from human beings. Great time to decide to be vegetarian.

Favour Dairy Products from companies NOT using rBGH

(rBGH) BOVINE GROWTH HORMONE (apologies to strict vegans) Research and buy only from suppliers that promise on the package or in other writing that their products are rBGH-free. Be especially careful with butter. Buy only organic butter, because even otherwise good companies buy cheap rBGH milk to make butter, or else they buy their butter (rBGH) from other companies.


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
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' to for details. To unsubscribe, send the message "unsubscribe"

Here is an excellent article from Dr. Jaan Suurkula in Swedan, who is a great hero in the campaign against genetically engineered foods:

Physicians and Scientists Against Genetically Engineered Food

by Jaan Suurkula, MD

- You can contribute decisively -

Since 2 years, I have been involved in campaigning against Genetically Engineered food. The first year, I believed that the obvious and serious deficiencies in the suggested regulations (such as the absurd principle of Substantial Equivalence) would be realized by decision-makers and responsible scientists.

With increasing amazement, I have witnessed how qualified scientific experts have showed a complete negligence of obvious facts and a disregard of important potential hazards. The consequence is a release of GE-organisms into the environment without proper knowledge of the potential consequences. And use of GE-food without proper knowledge of their hazards and with unreliable methods for safety assessment. - An absurd and potentially dangerous concession to the powerful pressures of transnational companies (TNC:s) backed by some powerful governments making it an issue of national priority to remain in the forefront of biotechnology development.

Also I witnessed (in frequent contacts with national and international bodies) how the increasing concern voiced by consumer organizations, environmentalists and various activist groups, were largely disregarded by decision-makers as an "attitude problem", being expressions of "irrational fear of new technologies", "unscientific misconceptions", "sheer ignorance" or "ideological" or "religious" prejudices. The very few scientists who dared to oppose the majority of experts in favour of the technology were generally not taken very seriously. The majority of qualified experts was not believed to be wrong (why this cannot be taken for granted is discussed in the posting "The fallibility of scientific authorities" that you got last week.).

There was a strong need for an impressive group of qualified professionals who could not be disregarded as "irrational", "ignorant", "unscientific", or ideologically prejudiced. That inspired me to found Physicians Against Genetically Engineered Food in December 1996 as a Swedish Society. The response was very good in Sweden with invitations to various nationally broadcast TV and Radio programs including a 3 hr long expert hearing with 25 leading biotech experts (with me and an ecological farmer as the only opponents). And participation in important seminars. Many have told us that they did not take the hazards seriously until they heard that an organization of physicians was against GE foods. In Sweden, repeated polls have shown that 80-90 percent of the population are against GE-foods, which puts us among the leading countries in the world in this respect.

Our organization became known abroad and many expressed an interest. Inspired by the success in Sweden, we decided to create an international network of Physicians Against Genetically Engineered food. And a few days ago, as a response to increased involvement by scientists in this issue, we decided to include them and change our name to: " PHYSICIANS *AND SCIENTISTS* AGAINST GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD".

We are presently forming a council of eminent scientific experts. Already the following scientists have accepted to become members: Michael Antoniou, Senior Lecturer, UK, Joe Cummins Professor Emeritus, Canada. Mae-Wan Ho, Professor, UK.

Our goal is an international moratorium on the release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment and the use of GE-food. We have written a Declaration that will be sent in a separate mail (Subj: PSAGEF Declaration).


Everyone who is concerned about the GE issue can be a member of our network. Physicians and scientists are regular members and others are associated and most revered and important members. *Membership is free*.

We have designed a powerful strategy for achieving our goals. We have world class marketing experts as members who are experts in the advanced science of modern marketing. There are many powerful methods, so far used mainly by our opponents , to influence the public and to lobby in a very successful manner. We will not disclose our strategy for obvious reasons but for one point: We intend to recruit at least 10.000 regular members and 100.000 associated members. The associated members play a most important, yes decisive role here in distributing information and recruiting more members of all categories.


One important aspect that is most valuable for a rapid success is finances. Our marketing experts will secure that the money will be used in most cost-effective ways. So if you are able to give even a small donation or if you are able to inspire wealthy persons to donate or if you feel you could help find corporate sponsors, you are most welcome to contact me by e-mail. As a member you will get materials including letters to sponsors etc.

Or you can send money directly to the Bank account of "Physicians Against Genetically Engineered Food" (the name change is not yet registered) is:

Swift add-ress: SWEDSESS;
Clearing no: 8304-8; Account no: 43.005.191-2;


We highly respect all the other actions with the same or similar goals, and know from the experience we already have, that we will be able to increase their success and strengthen their credibility.

There is no conflict in participating in different organizations at the same time. The various approaches are complementary. So we don't ask anyone to leave his/her present commitments, but are just asking everyone who has any time left to consider the possibility of also being a member of our network. So it is a matter of considering how and in what kind of action/s and campaigns you think your precious time would be of greatest use for achieving our common goal.

This year is of decisive importance for the future of Genetic Engineering. It is the last moment to stop the impending global avalanche of GE-foods.

So please consider how you could rearrange your commitments and contribute to a successful outcome by participating in one or more of the campaigns that you believe in. You who are reading this, are one of a few thousand people who are most interested and aware of the problems. Therefore your participation is of vital and incomparable importance for a successful outcome.

You can register as a member preferably and most comfortably at our website: URL Or you can fill in the form below. (The form is deliberately not included in this message)

Jaan Suurkula


Jaan Suurkula MD
Chairman of

PHYSICIANS AND SCIENTISTS AGAINST GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD An international network for a moratorium on commercial release of GE-products.

Website: "Genetically Engineered Foods - Safety problems"
Tel +46-322621347 = fax (on the computer, so please make a second try if >the first is not answered as it may take time to get it started)


The membership registration form is found at:


It requires a moratiorium to the release of GE organisms and has already been signed by several scientists. You will find the statement at: and the signature form at:


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
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' to for details. To unsubscribe, send the message "unsubscribe"


Date: Sun, 8 Feb 1998 08:24:46 -0700
From: (Peter M. Ligotti)
Subject: Dr. Jaan Suurkula: Physicians and Scientists Against GE Food

Dear BanGenFood members,

Dr. Jaan Suurkula is taking a powerful leadership role with a timely initiative in the war against GE food.

He has done a tremendous amount of work to raise awareness regarding the GE issue. I highly recommend that people conider networking and working with him regarding his new organization. Side point: he is a very good person to work with since he is out of the U.S. and U.S. state jurisdiction, for those concerned about such things (such as Oprah Winfrey for example) Headquarters for his organization is in Sweden. The bigger his U.S. membership, of course, the better. He of course also seeks members however from around the world.

Peter Ligotti

Local (South African) doctors 'set to clone humans'

Saturday Star (Johannesburg), 14 Febr. 98
by Jackie Cameron

[ Picture: showing Dr. Mohamed Cassim looking at a glass tube. Writing: Big Step: If he succeeds, Dr. Mohamed Cassim could follow Chris Barnard's foot-steps as a South African pioneer in the medical field. Photograph by Cathy Pinnock]

"I believe that cloning is not about defying the laws of nature -- it's facilitating the laws of nature"

A South African doctor and his team are ready to clone humans.

Expertise and equipment to replicate genetic material and create human clones is available at the Johannesburg fertility clinic.

Dr. Mohamed Cassim is preparing an application the the University of the Witwatersrand's ethics committee for permission to go ahead with the cloning.

This controversial step to spearhead groundbreaking research could put South Africa back on the map of medical technology and knowledge for the first time since Dr. Chris Barnard pioneered the first heart transplant more than 30 years ago.

Four Gauteng women, who are desperate to have their own genetic children, will allow Dr. Cassim and his technicians to attempt to create replicas of themselves or their husbands.

Fierce debate

Cloning a human entails removing the nucleus of a human egg cell -- the part which contains half of the genetic material required for a human -- and replacing it with the nucleus of a cell from another part of the body.

Cloning means that sperm may no longer be required for reproduction; if a couple want a daughter, the entire genetic make-up of the wife is reproduced. Genetic material is taken from the husband if a son is desired.

Cassim is in partnership with a Danish fertility clinic and has received financial assistance for his work into in-vitro reproduction -- but not cloning.

Debate rages in the United States and Europe where it is feared that, in the wrong hands, this type of research could lead to a master race or release a science fiction nightmare of cloned dictators.

There are growing concerns in the international community that uneducated, desperate people in Third World countries may be used as guinea pigs for the experiments of scientists from First World countries. Denmark has already banned cloning.

Cassim said he was opposed to cloning without strict regulations and state control, and that he believed it should be utilised only for assisting infertile couples who wanted children who were genetically linked to them.

"In certain circumstances, cloning should be permitted. As a comparison: the atom bomb was bad, but atomic energy is not bad, depending on how you use it."

Scientists in Scotland cloned a sheep, Dolly, from a cell taken from the udder of a 6-year-old ewe. They published their research last year.

Leading scientists this week demanded proof from Dolly's creators that she was an authentic adult clone, because other groups have failed to repeat the Dolly experiment. There was speculation that Dolly's "conception" may have been contaminated unwittingly.

US scientist Dr. Richard Seed vowed recently that within the nest three months he will have made his first attempt to clone a child from a single adult cell in Mexico, where there are no laws banning the practice.

Local (South African) lawyers and government officials are divided over whether human cloning is allowed in terms of our law, but Department of Health spokesman Morris Conradie said his interpretation was that is was illegal in terms of the Human Tissues Act.

"Genetic manipulation of sperm or eggs is not permitted. Cloning, according to our interpretation, falls under genetic manipulation."

"There is so much happening in this field that most counties will from time to time have to review legislation which covers this. We are in the process of including an ban on human cloning the the new health act." Conradie said.

Minister of Health Dr. Nkosazana Zuma's office said she would not be tackling the issue of cloning because the country had more important matters to deal with, "like the backlog in providing basic healthcare services."

In a series of interviews with the Saturday Star, Cassim said: "Getting the genetic material into an egg to produce a clone is easy. My son could do it. With the technology that we have in our laboratory, the procedure is as easy as fiddling with some controls."

"The key lies with whether the egg will cleave, or start dividing to produce an embryo. We may have to transfer genetic material into eggs may times before we get an embryo. Scientists and doctors are still not quite sure what the trigger is for eggs to divide."

"Some people argue that cloning is like playing God. I believe that cloning is not about defying the laws of nature -- it's facilitating the laws of nature."

Cassim is preparing a "detailed protocol" for the ethics committee in order to attempt to clone children as a research project. He would like to conduct the research with academics from other universities.

"The ethics committee would like to see a lot of background information, particularly focussing on the risks involved to the parents and children. I expect to submit detailed documents to the ethics committee shortly.

Expecting resistance

"There is no law against cloning, but I do not want to lose my licence in the event of the SA Medical and Dental Council ruling at a later stage that what I have done is unethical."

"There is huge resistance worldwide to cloning, just as there was when testtube babies were first created, so I am expecting resistance here. I have to try to get permission because I feel strongly about helping desperate couples who would like their own children and have no other alternative."

"Some people argue that cloning is unacceptable in the case of infertile couples because there are other options like donor eggs, sperm and surrogacy. I believe that introducing a third person into a situation could be argued as less ethical than cloning." Cassim added.

Are third world countries being chosen as fertile ground for odious cloning process?

Saturday Star, Johannesburg, 21 February 1998
Letter to the Editor, by Angus Durran, Director, MAV Health Clinic, Halfway House (South Africa)

Dear Sir,

I refer to Jackie Cameron's report on the posibility of cloning humans (Saturday Star, February 14th). As a founder member of the Safe Food Coalition which was established last year to warn producers, retailers and consumers of the dangers of genetically engineered foods, I cannot believe that a similar practice is even being considered in humans.

It is ironic that Dr. Mohamed Cassim is in partnership with a Danish fertility clinic as Denmark has banned human cloning.

The question then arises: Does Cassim really feel strongly about helping the infertile couples who would like their own children and have no alternative, or is this an opportunity for the Danish clinic to make a lot of money? Perhaps egoism is involved .. the desire to be the first in this field of science?

"The right of parents to fulfil their desires to control the characteristics of their child must be balanced by the individual rights of the child and by the collective rights of all future generations. The child will have to live throughout life with the consequences, both negative and positive, of the parents' decision to manipulate their child's genome."

The above is quoted from the book Genetic Engineering: The Hazards; Vedic Engineering: The Solution by Prof. John Fagan, Ph.D.. The author returned a $600,000 grant to the National Institute of Health in America when he realised the dangers of genetic engineering.

Most first world countries, including Austria, France, Germany, Norway, Switzerland and, more recently, America, have banned genetic engineering in humans.

Obviously, a lot of research has already taken place in these countries. Subsequently, they have realised the dangers of this practice and the ethical mine fileds that they present.

Regulations in Third World countries are more lax, even non-existent. Is it in these countries that humans will be used as guinea pigs? Are the lives of South Africans and their children less valued?

The British Royal Society of Medicine, which has considered the ethics of gene therpay, has stated that there are too many unknowns in the possible outcome to allow the attempt of germ-like therapy.

Another point is that germ-like manipulations alter the reproductive cells. Thus errors caused by germ-like genetic manipulations will not only be transmitted to every cell of the individual's body, but will also be transmitted to the individual's children and to each subsequent generation. In effect, germ-like manipulation carry the risk of creating heritable diseases, birth defects and cancer.

The success of the cloning of sheep, specifically "Dolly", done in Scotland last year, is beginning to be doubted now, so how can we possibly play around with human life, when we cannot even get it right with animals?

In conclusion, may I respectfully suggest to Cassim that if he is really concerned about childless couples, he should investigate the Vedic alternative, which can, and has, produced offspring using natural methods, right here in South Africa.

Angus Durran

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