Genetically Manipulated Food News

Freitag, 10. April 1998

Table of Contents

Basta-Liberty (Glufosinate) Spells Birth Defects
Church dumps Monsanto Shares
Britain's Sugar Factories refuse GE Sugar Beet
Canada: Health scientists pressured to approve rBGH and other drugs
Milk with rBGH linked to Prostate Cancer
Genetic engineering sentment on NBC
'Terminator' Seeds Threaten A Barren Future For Farmers
Panel may challenge planned U.S. organic rules
Monsanto uses Synthetic Genes
Evidence of Dangers of Monsanto's Roundup

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Date: Thu, 5 Mar 1998 17:14:50 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson
Subject: Dr. Cummins article and presentation

Basta-Liberty (Glufosinate) Spells Birth Defects

by Joe Cummins, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Genetics, University of Western Ontario, Canada Email:

Glufosinate is a herbicide that kills almost everything green, it is used extensively with genetically engineered crops including corn, canola and soybeans. The herbicide resistant crops were approved by Canada and United States government even though there was clear evidence that the herbicide caused birth defects in experimental animals. The chemical acts by causing premature cell death in the immature brain by a process called apotosis. It also prevents development of glutamate channels in the brain, thus disrupting cellular communication. The birth defects observed in animals included brain defects leading to behavioral changes. Cleft lip and skeletal defects or kidney and urethra injury were observed in treated newborn. The herbicide also caused miscarriage and reduced conception in treated mothers.

Prior to the primacy of genetic engineering by multinational chemical companies drugs and herbicides that caused birth defects in three species of test animal ( all species tested) were designated teratogens and banned from human exposure. Clearly, the fact that treated crops are not labeled (many states have passed laws on behalf of the chemical companies making it illegal to label crops genetically engineering free) have made chemical companies bold about using toxic herbicides. The human birth defects cannot be studied using the science epidemiology because the crops are not labeled and the relationship between eating the crops and birth defects cannot be established. The chemical companies and their paid lackeys in the Canadian Agriculture Department are aware of this advantage.

Indeed, it is clear that Basta-Liberty is a paradigm for most of the genetically engineered crops now on the market. The food allergy, autoimmune disease, birth defects or cancer caused by consuming the crops cannot not be meaningfully studied using epidemiology. The government agencies regulating genetic engineering appear to be collaborating with the chemical companies to protect them from the liability flowing from the injury caused by their products. In Canada one government agency that regulates and promotes genetic engineering is also in the pay of the chemical industry giants. Matching funds from tax payers and chemical industry are used to support research on behalf of the chemical companies. The millions of dollars spent on such activities studiously avoid studies that might incriminate the products of the chemical giants. Government department bureaucrats demand and receive huge salaries from their brainless pawns among the elected politicians.

I have discussed these findings in public meetings or before the standards board for organic farming. News media have stonewalled the issue. In particular, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, now headed by a reactionary right wing politician from a government that was discredited and nearly completely eliminated by election, has side stepped the important issue.

The Basta-Liberty affair would probably greatly impress the public if it were allowed to be known by the public.

References on glufosinate and birth defects:

Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 21:20:15 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson
Subject: GE News

Thanks to Raphael Thierri for forwarding this article from the Globe & Mail (Canada), March 21, Business section, [STARS AND DOGS] p. B21.

Church dumps Monsanto Shares

"MONSANTO -- A report in Britain's independent newspaper says the Church of England investment fund has dumped its shares in the U.S. drug giant because the company's genetic-engineering experiments aren't exactly in line with Genesis. No word yesterday from a Monsanto spokesperson."

Shares are valued at $50.25, down $0.56

Thanks to Allsorts (also rts) for posting the, following article:

Britain's Sugar Factories refuse GE Sugar Beet

by Joanna Blythman
The [London] Guardian March 21 1998, Food chains

Sweet surrender

Britain's sugar barons are refusing to accept any genetically- engineered sugar beet through their factory gates. The reason: they don't want a repeat of what happened in Holland last year, when a tiny amount of sugar from genetic- engineering trials was accidentally introduced into bags of Dutch sugar. Once discovered, there was a public outcry, and the whole batch, all 12,000 tonnes of it, had to be disposed of - at great expense.

"This paints a rather bleak future for genetically-modified sugar beet," says British Sugar's spokesman, Geoff Lancaster. "Public suspicion may sink this technology completely."

Not so long ago, the UK food industry was brimming with "Tomorrow's World" style enthusiasm about genetically- engineered foodstuffs, but a wave of cynicism has since swept through the ranks following the Monsanto biotech company's successful efforts to force genetically-engineered soya on to the market by refusing to segregate it at source from the conventional soya supply. So now we must accept that 60 per cent of all the processed food we eat contains genetically- engineered soya - and unlabelled too, if you please.

But might it be that Monsanto has pushed its luck too far? After all, British Sugar is now responding to pressure from food manufacturers and retailers to supply "clean" sugar that hasn't been contaminated" by genetic engineering. Like glistening, white sugar, it seems that consumer thinking on gene foods is crystallising, and that the previously unthinkable is becoming a definite possibility - an outright ban.

In June, the Swiss will hold a national referendum on the issue, seeking a mandate to ban, among other things, genetically-engineered crops. Recent polls suggest that 58 per cent will vote in favour of a ban. And a 1998 Europe-wide survey published in the journal Nature has shown that the more the public knows about biotechnology, the more fears are aroused.

In the UK, the Soil Association (SA), which promotes organic food and farming, would like Britain to declare itself a genetic engineering-free zone. The Iceland retail chain has already banned genetically-engineered ingredients from its own-brand products, and SA has challenged the major supermarkets to eliminate foods containing genetically- engineered ingredients from their shelves by December 31, 1999. A response is awaited, but, apart from Safeway, whose unquestioning commitment to gene foods becomes more outlandish by the day, the others seem to be increasingly wary of "gene smog".

Gene smog is the new name, used in Europe and America, for the genetic pollution that is slowly permeating our food chain. The tactics of Monsanto et al are to introduce genetic engineering by the back door. They hope that, by the time gene smog has reached critical levels - soya derivatives throughout the food chain, animals eating genetically- engineered feed, humans eating their meat, and so on - the commercial train of genetic engineering will have left the station and it will be too late to bring it back.

"The market mechanism could send that train back into the station if supermarkets listen to public opinion," says SA spokesman Patrick Holden. That's because many consumers just don't buy the "assurances" of supermarkets and government, hiding behind the edifice of "science" and the discredited guarantee of labelling. It is not comforting to think that those who should be protecting us are being pressured by megacorporations and crossing their fingers, hoping that nothing goes wrong.

SA is urging consumers to complain to supermarkets about the unpredictable nature of gene technology and the threat it poses to the environment and human health. Also, that if they want their customers to have faith in their brand image, they need to tell their suppliers of their intention to eliminate all foods with genetically-engineered ingredients from their shelves by the millennium.

I've just picked up my pen.


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, tel. 613-565-8517 fax. 613-565-1596 email: Our website, contains more information on genetic engineering as well as previous genetic engineering news items Subscription fee to genetic engineering news is $35 for 12 months See website for details.

Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 20:55:24 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson
Subject: BST updates

Canada: Health scientists pressured to approve rBGH and other questionable drugs

On April 16 and 17, 1998, the Public Service Staff Relations Board in Ottawa (Canada0 will be hearing grievances filed by six Health Canada scientists, who work in the Bureau of Veterinary Drugs. This board is a semi-judicial labour relations body that overseas the rights and responsibilities of all public servants in the Canadian Federal Government.

According to their allegations, the scientists are being pressured through coercion by upper level management in Health Canada to approve drugs of questionable safety. These drugs include antibiotics and hormones administered to animals used in food production.

Genetically engineered bovine growth hormone or rBGH (also abbreviated rBST), which is injected in cows to increase milk production is one of the drugs under question. rBGH, which has not been approved in Canada, is under hot dispute worldwide.

Thanks to Patricia Dines at Community Action Publications for the following article:

Milk with rBGH linked to Prostate Cancer

by Prof. Samuel S. Epstein, Cancer Prevention Coalition

CHICAGO, March 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Professor Environmental Medicine, University of Illinois Chicago, School of Public Health:

As reported in a January 23, 1998 article in Science, men with high blood levels of the naturally occurring hormone insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) are over four times more likely to develop full-blown prostate cancer than are men with lower levels. The report emphasized that high IGF-1 blood levels are the strongest known risk factor for prostate cancer, only exceeding that of a family history, and that reducing IGF-1 levels is likely to prevent this cancer. It was further noted that IGF-1 markedly stimulates the division and proliferation of normal and cancerous prostate cells and that it blocks the programmed self-destruction of cancer cells thus enhancing the growth and invasiveness of latent prostate cancer. These findings are highly relevant to any efforts to prevent prostate cancer, whose rates have escalated by 180% since 1950, which is now the commonest cancer in non-smoking men with an estimated 185,000 new cases and 39,000 deaths in 1998.

While warning that increasing IGF-1 blood levels by treating the elderly with growth hormone (GH) to slow aging may increase risks of prostate cancer, the 1998 report appears unaware of the fact that the entire U.S. population is now exposed to high levels of IGF-1 in dairy products. In February 1995, the Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of unlabelled milk from cows injected with Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, rBGH, to increase milk production. As detailed in a January 1996 report in the International Journal of Health Services, rBGH milk differs from natural milk chemically, nutritionally, pharmacologically and immunologically, besides being contaminated with pus and antibiotics resulting from mastitis induced by the biotech hormone.

Most critically, rBGH milk is supercharged with high levels of abnormally potent IGF-1, up to 10 times the levels in natural milk and over 10 times more potent. IGF-1 resists pasteurization and digestion by stomach enzymes and is well absorbed across the intestinal wall. Still unpublished Monsanto tests, disclosed by FDA in summary form in 1990, showed that statistically significant growth stimulating effects were induced in organs of adult rats by feeding IGF-1 at the lowest dose levels for only two weeks. Drinking rBGH milk would thus be expected to increase blood IGF-1 levels and to increase risks of developing prostate cancer and promoting its invasiveness. Apart from prostate cancer, multiple lines of evidence have also incriminated the role of IGF-1 as risk factors for breast, colon, and childhood cancers.

Faced with escalating rates of prostate and other avoidable cancers, FDA should withdraw its approval of rBGH milk, whose sale benefits only Monsanto while posing major public health risks for the entire U.S. population. Failing early FDA action, consumers should demand explicit labeling and only buy rBGH-free milk.


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, tel. 613-565-8517 fax. 613-565-1596 email: Our website, contains more information on genetic engineering as well as previous genetic engineering news items Subscription fee to genetic engineering news is $35 for 12 months See website for details.

Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1998 16:22:11 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson
Subject: GE News

Genetic engineering sentment on NBC

Several people have asked about the NBC special on genetic engineering March 23, 1998. It was only a few minutes and it was 99% promotional of biotechnology. The whole segment spoke of the fanciful wonders of genetic engineering with very little reference to the GE foods already on the market, and the dangers already here.

It is ironic that the two stories that preceeded the genetic engineering segment involved the dangers of pesticides as the majority of genetically engineered foods now on the market are pesticide tolerant, and allow farmers to use more pesticides. One of the two segments was on mutated frogs that are turning up all over the country due peticides or herbicides seeping into the water. The other story was about child labour in the USA, and on children working on farms and getting sick and even dying from exposure to pesticides.

Here is a transcript by Renu Namjoshi of the genetic engineering segment on NBC Nightly news March 23, 1998:

Now to the revolution that could change your diet . Companies using state of the art science are working to change foods that we love to eat. But is it safe?

Imagine meat nearly fat free thanks to special animal feed. Cooking oil that is so healthy you could gorge on fried food and never worry about cholesterol. Corn that could actually fight against osteoporosis.

All could be just a few years away. How? Through the new science of Genetic Engineering - manipulating genes and DNA that governs the growth of every plant.

Rob Frazer of Monsanto... "the field is poised for a real breakthrough".

Ed Coco with Dupont.. " the future because of the benefits of biotechnology is going to be unlimited".

And its already happened. Half of the nations soy bean crop is now genetically altered so that plants will no longer wilt like this after fields have been treated with weed killer. Potato plants altered to resist attack by bugs.

And Dupont is experimenting with a new genetically engineered meat substitute made from soy bean protein to prepare meatless hotdogs that taste like the real thing. These are meatballs without meat, chicken nuggets without chicken, stir fry and barbecue made from soy protein too. And yogurt substitute free of milk and lactic acid.

Ed Coco with Dupont.. " we will be able to produce a lot of things that are very very beneficial to diet and health and I think it is very exciting.

There is even research into changing food to fight disease. Producing foods that could fortify our bodies defenses against cancer or modifying corn to make amino acids that fight osteoporosis and more.

Rob Frazer of Monsanto... "we will be able to add high level of vitamins to plants and will be able to take that instead of a pill". Or you will have, you know, a compound in a plant that will fight cardio vascular disease.

But should companies have to disclose on a label if food has been genetically engineered?

There have been experiments that failed. For instance, one company sliced genes from the Brazil nut and got a substance that caused terrible allergies.

But companies say piling regulation on a field that is still in its infancy could stifle research.

Left to develop some believe genetic engineering, once considered the stuff of science fiction, will eventually revolutionize much of what we eat. Independent (London, UK) Sunday, March 22nd, 1998

Date: 24 Mar 1998 17:16:18 -0600
From: Renu Namjoshi
Subject: Front Page Terminator Seeds Article in British Paper

This article appeared on the front page of the British newspaper Independent, Sunday edition. I have befriended the journalist who wrote it and am periodically feeding him information I get off Ban Gef. I had sent him the information on Terminator technology and this is what he was able to do with it.

Renu Namjoshi

'Terminator' Seeds Threaten A Barren Future For Farmers

by Wayne Brittenden, Independent on Sunday, March 22, 1998

THE ancient right of farmers to save their seed and breed their plants may soon become a thing of the past. "Terminator" seeds, deliberately disabled from germinating when replanted, are threatening a farming practice as old as agriculture itself.

Three weeks ago one of the most far-reaching patents ever granted went to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Delta and Pine, an American seed company. They have developed a genetic technique that can prevent the seed from germinating when replanted. The new development could force farmers back into the seed shop for a fresh supply every year, and the company has the exclusive right to issue or deny licences.

So far the technique has only worked on cotton and tobacco seeds, but scientists believe that within a few years crucial crops like wheat, rice and soya beans - staples for three-quarters of the world's poor - may also be under the control of international agribusiness. Second and Third World countries are those most likely to be targeted and it is estimated that up to 1.4 billion farming families worldwide will be at risk.

At the same time governments are expected to come under intense pressure to adopt the new technique and perhaps even outlaw farmer-to-farmer exchange. University research departments short of money will be among the beneficiaries of the ensuing corporate dollars.

Existing seed banks carefully developed by farmers may also become vulnerable. Some scientists predict the development of a virus that could disable all non-terminator seeds.

"This is perfectly possible," said Dr Owain Williams, of the Gaia Foundation, which works with indigenous peoples around the world. "Already bacteria have been developed for fixing nitrogen into corn roots, so why not a killer bacteria?"

Agribusiness companies insist that the new technique means an incentive to invest in the world's most important food crops, and will benefit poor populations with desperately needed research. While admitting that seed prices will rise, the corporations argue that farmers will be free to choose the terminator seeds or publicly bred varieties.

Date: 24 Mar 1998 10:36:59 -0600
From: "J. Warner"
Subject: Organic Standards

Panel may challenge planned U.S. organic rules

By Julie Vorman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Agriculture Department's plan to define organic food may be challenged in court for ignoring the recommendations of an organic-industry panel created by Congress, a panel member said Monday.

The USDA's proposed organic rules, issued last December, unleashed a tidal wave of criticism from organic farmers and consumers for allowing the use of genetically modified seeds, human sewage sludge as fertilizer and irradiation.

Some organic farmers contend the proposed rules are designed to accommodate agribusiness interests, which are eager to expand into the fast-growing $3.5 billion organic industry by using technology and cheap fertilizers.

To date, more than 23,000 individuals and organizations have commented on the proposed rules, a record for a USDA rulemaking. The size of the response virtually guarantees that no final rules will emerge in 1998, according to industry officials.

"We feel that we have statutory authority over certain organic food standards and that the USDA has overstepped its authority," Kathleen Merrigan, a member of the National Organic Standards Board, said.

Merrigan said the board, created by Congress in 1990 to create a list of farming practices that constitute organic production, would send a letter to Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman urging him to "come to terms about how this whole decision-making process will be."

The board contends that the USDA cannot add to or delete from the panel's list of acceptable practices. If the USDA does not ban the use of sewage sludge, irradiation and gentically altered seeds to match board standards, "I imagine there will be litigation filed," Merrigan said in an interview.

Monsanto uses Synthetic Genes

by Joe Cummins, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Genetics, University of Western Ontario

"The following abstract of an article in Nature Biotechnology raises important issues for organic agriculture. Monsanto is now using "synthetic" genes to beat their patent commitments. USDA believes that genetic engineering can be ruled organic. The use of synthetic genes should be raised loud and clear in the briefs to USDA. By the way "synthetic" genes are made in the chemical laboratory. They can be made with code words "identical" to genes in organisms but there are a number of subtle modifications in living organisms that make the genes unique to organisms. Truly synthetic genes can be made which mimic the natural products. Such genes are dreadfully dangerous. The Judge dealing with the case must have been terribly stupid, or perhaps just evil."

This is the article Dr. Cummins is referring to:

Nature Biotechnology, Business & Regulatory News Volume 16 Number 3 - March 1998


Monsanto bypasses Mycogen with Bt synthetic genes

by Debra Robertson
Debra Robertson is a freelance writer working in San Diego, CA.

A Delaware US Federal Court has ruled that by selling products genetically engineered with a synthetic form of insecticidal Bacillus thuringiensis(Bt) crystal-protein gene, Monsanto (St. Louis, MO) and its partners are not infringing on two patents held by Mycogen (San Diego, CA) that describe a method for making synthetic forms of the gene. Monsanto, DeKalb Genetics (DeKalb, IL), and Delta & Pine Land (Scott, MO) can sell Bollgard Bt cotton, YieldGard corn, and New Leaf potato seed, engineered with a synthetic Bt crystal-protein gene, without paying Mycogen royalties


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, tel. 613-565-8517 fax. 613-565-1596 email: Our website, contains more information on genetic engineering as well as previous genetic engineering news items Subscription fee to genetic engineering news is $35 for 12 months See website for details.

Date: 24 Mar 1998 08:00:50 -0600
From: (Peter M. Ligotti)
Subject: Evidence of Dangers of Monsanto's Roundup

Evidence of Dangers of Monsanto's Roundup

Here is something where has relevance for the debate about Roundup Ready soybeans, etc: The March 19th Rachel's Environment & Health Weekly (#590) discloses that in 1997 Australia banned 84 herbicide products, all of which contained glyphosate (Roundup) to protect frogs.

Michael Tyler of the University of Adelaide stated that detergents used as "inert" ingredients with glyphosate interfere with the ability of tadpoles to breathe.

He also stated that users of glyphosate have been "lulled into a sense of false security" about the claims that this pesticide is "environmentally friendly".

This undermines the claim that while using RR soybeans increases the use of Roundup, it prevents the use of "more toxic" herbicides. Perhaps glyphosate is not very toxic to mammals, but it appears to be quite toxic to amphibians. And many of them, as this Rachel report points out, are on the verge of extinction.

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