Genetically Manipulated Food News

Friday, 1. May 1998

Table of Contents

Milk, rBGH And Cancer (The FOX TV case)
News Blackout On GE in USA
Health-Japan: No Genetically-altered Food Please
Monsanto 'Superfoods' and 'Wonder' Drugs
Want To Know More About Your Food?
Computer Model Tests 'Bt Corn'
Seed Piracy by Monsanto
Genetic test crop destroyed.
Squatters On Ge Release Plot
Field Trial Results Show Economics of Weed Control in Roundup Ready and Elite Soybeans
Monsanto Cautions Farmers to View Competitor's Roundup Ready Soybean Data
Misconceptions About Environmental Pollution, Pesticides And The Causes Of Cancer
Judges Influenced Over Environment?
Agrochemical Industry On New Tack to overcome the swing toward organic farming
Germline gene therapy 'must be spared excessive regulation'
Prestigious Medical Journal Opposes Ban On Human Cloning
Agrevo stops rape experimental cultivation in France

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=======================Electronic Edition========================

Milk, rBGH, and Cancer---April 9, 1998---
Environmental Research Foundation
P.O. Box 5036, Annapolis, MD 21403
Fax(410) 263-8944

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Milk, rBGH And Cancer (The Fox TV case)

Two veteran news reporters for Fox TV in Tampa, Florida have been fired for refusing to water down an investigative report on Monsanto's controversial milk hormone, rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone). Monsanto's rBGH is a genetically-engineered hormone sold to dairy farmers, who inject it into their cows every two weeks to increase milk production. In recent years, evidence has accumulated indicating that rBGH may promote cancer in humans who drink milk from rBGH-treated cows. It is the link between rBGH and cancer that Fox TV tried hardest to remove from the story.

In the fall of 1996, award-winning reporters Steve Wilson and Jane Akre were hired by WTVT in Tampa to produce a series on rBGH in Florida milk. After more than a year's work on the rBGH series, and three days before the series was scheduled to air starting February 24, 1997, Fox TV executives received the first of two letters from lawyers representing Monsanto saying that Monsanto would suffer "enormous damage" if the series ran. WTVT had been advertising the series aggressively, but canceled it at the last moment. Monsanto's second letter warned of "dire consequences" for Fox if the series aired as it stood. (How Monsanto knew what the series contained remains a mystery.) According to documents filed in Florida's Circuit Court (13th Circuit), Fox lawyers then tried to water down the series, offering to pay the two reporters if they would leave the station and keep mum about what Fox had done to their work. The reporters refused Fox's offer, and on April 2, 1998, filed their own lawsuit against WTVT.

Steve Wilson has 26 years' experience as a working journalist and has won four Emmy awards for his investigative reporting. His wife, Jane Akre, has been a reporter and news anchor for 20 years, and has won a prestigious Associated Press award for investigative reporting.

The Wilson/Akre lawsuit charges that WTVT violated its license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by demanding that the reporters include known falsehoods in their rBGH series. The reporters also charge that WTVT violated Florida's "whistle blower" law. Many of the legal documents in the lawsuit --including Monsanto's threatening letters --have been posted on the world wide web at for all to see.

No one will be surprised to learn that powerful corporations can intimidate TV stations into re-writing the news, but this case offers an unusually detailed glimpse of specific intimidation tactics and their effects inside a news organization. It is not pretty.

It has been well-documented by Monsanto and by others that rBGH-treated cows undergo several changes: their lives are shortened, they are more likely to develop mastitis, an infection of the udder (which then requires use of antibiotics, which end up in the milk along with increased pus), and they produce milk containing elevated levels of another hormone called IGF-1. It is IGF-1 that is associated with increased likelihood of human cancers.[1] (See REHW #381, #382, #383, #384, #483, but especially #454.)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved rBGH for use in cows in 1993, but the approval process was controversial because former Monsanto employees went to work for the FDA, oversaw the approval process, then went back to work for Monsanto. (See REHW #381.)

Monsanto is notorious for marketing dangerous products while falsely claiming safety. The entire planet is now contaminated with hormone-disrupting, cancer-causing PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), thanks to Monsanto's poor judgment and refusal to be guided by early scientific evidence indicating harm. (See REHW #327, #328.) The 2,4,5-T in Agent Orange --the herbicide that has brought so much grief to tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans --is another example of Monsanto's poor judgment and failure to heed scientific evidence to prevent harm. Critics says rBGH is just one more example of Monsanto's monumentally poor judgment. When Wilson and Akre asked Monsanto officials to respond to these allegations of past poor judgment, Monsanto had no comment.

The Wilson/Akre rBGH series (a script of which is available on the web site ) makes the following points:

At the web site , you will find the version of the Wilson/Akre rBGH series as it was re-written by Fox's attorneys. It has been laundered and perfumed. Most importantly, nearly all of the references to cancer have been removed from the script. Instead of cancer we now have "human health effects" --whatever those may be.

The Wilson/Akre lawsuit comes at an especially good time to publicize the relationship between rBGH and human cancer because new evidence has come to light.

When a cow is injected with rBGH, its milk production is stimulated, but not directly. The presence of rBGH in the cow's blood stimulates production of another hormone, called Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1, or IGF-1 for short. It is IGF-1 that stimulates milk production.

IGF-1 is a naturally-occurring hormone-protein in both cows and humans.[3] The IGF-1 in cows is chemically identical to the IGF-1 in humans.[4] The use of rBGH increases the levels of IGF-1 in the cow's milk, though the amount of the increase is disputed. Furthermore, IGF-1 in milk is not destroyed by pasteurization. Because IGF-1 is active in humans --causing cells to divide --any increase in IGF-1 in milk raises obvious questions: will it cause inappropriate cell division and growth, leading to growth of tumors?

The Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association formally expressed concern about IGF-1 related to rBGH in 1991, saying, "Further studies will be required to determine whether ingestion of higher than normal concentrations of bovine insulin-like growth factor [IGF-1] is safe for children, adolescents, and adults."[5]

Monsanto's public position since 1994 has been that IGF-1 is not elevated in the milk from rBGH-treated cows --despite its own studies to the contrary. For example, writing in the British journal, LANCET, in 1994, Monsanto researchers said "...IGF-1 concentration in milk of rBST-treated cows is unchanged," and "...there is no evidence that hormonal content of milk from rBST-treated cows is in any way different from cows not so treated."[6] [Monsanto calls rBGH rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin), thus avoiding use of the word 'hormone.'] However, in a published letter, the British researcher T. B. Mepham reminded Monsanto that in its 1993 application to the British government for permission to sell rBGH in England, Monsanto itself reported that "the IGF-1 level went up substantially [about five times as much]."[7]

The U.S. FDA acknowledges that IGF-1 is elevated in milk from rBGH-treated cows.[4] Other proponents of rBGH acknowledge that it at least doubles the amount of IGF-1 hormone in the milk.[8] The earliest report in the literature found that IGF-1 was elevated in the milk of rBGH-treated cows by a factor of 3.6.[9]

Does IGF-1 promote cancer? In January of this year a Harvard study of 15,000 white men published in SCIENCE reported that those with elevated --but still normal --levels of IGF-1 in their blood are 4 times as likely as average men to get prostate cancer.[1] The SCIENCE report ends saying, "Finally, our results raise concern that administration of GH [growth hormone] or IGF-1 over long periods, as proposed for elderly men to delay the effects of aging, may increase risk of prostate cancer." By analogy, Monsanto's current efforts to increase the IGF-1 levels in America's milk supply raise the question: if little boys drink milk from rBGH-treated cows over long periods, will the elevated levels of IGF-1 increase their prostate cancer rates? This is not a question that should be answered by a wholesale experiment on the American people --but that is precisely what Monsanto is currently doing. It is difficult to put a happy face on this, try as Fox might.

The Wilson/Akre story is one of talented, hard-working journalists trying to tell an important public health story, exposing lies and corruption by Monsanto, by the FDA, and now by Fox, too. If nothing else, perhaps the courage of Steve Wilson and Jane Akre will awaken many more of us to the potential dangers of Monsanto's latest experiment on America's children.

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

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: 9 Apr 1998 09:03:18 -0600
Subject: GEMA Summary April 9, 1998

News Blackout On GE in USA

excerpts from Steve Sprinkel comments

Here in the US there is a news blackout [on Genetic Engineering (GE)]. With all the discussion at the highest levels of commerce and government overseas, next to nothing is reported on an industry that has more GNP value than petroleum and affects everyone directly. The press ably reports the smallest rumor on OPEC, and by the hour relates the latest twitch from the NYSE. But the press is silent on the future of GE agriculture.

Health-Japan: No Genetically-altered Food Please

April 8, 1998 TOKYO - Inter Press Service via NewsEdge Corporation : A growing number of Japanese consumers are up in arms against the imports of genetically modified food products, which are not subject to labelling despite their easy availability here. Despite assurances from the government, consumer groups say these products could be hazardous to health and carry serious environmental implications.

"The Japanese are being used as guinea pigs by rich countries and their corporations in the experiment of expanding genetically modified food," says Setsuko Yasuda of the Consumer Union of Japan. "But the message from us is 'Stop.'"

Yasuda is leading a boycott campaign against Kirin products, an unprecedented move in Japan's usually docile consumer market. Activists are also in the midst of a campaign, called "Down with Genetically Engineered Food," that was launched in November 1996 to press Tokyo for tighter regulations on genetically modified food. The campaign groups Yasuda's organization with environmental groups and 500 local assemblies.

As part of the campaign, Yasuda presented one million signatures to the health and welfare ministry last year, from consumers who asked that the imports of genetically engineered food products be halted till their health risks be scientifically evaluated.

Monsanto 'Superfoods' and 'Wonder' Drugs

'The new marketing pitch'

Cancer Weekly Plus via NewsEdge Corporation : Monsanto said that it hoped for U.S. regulatory approval within three years for a range of "wonder" drugs and superfoods, including products that could help cancer and diabetes patients.

"These are products that are going to save lives," Hendrik Verfaille, Monsanto, told reporters. "We believe people are going to be able to eat themselves healthier," Verfaille said, adding that Monsanto hoped to have two products similar to Benecol - a cholesterol-reducing margarine made by rival Finnish firm, Raisio Yhtyma - on the market by 2000.

He also forecast that sales of Monsanto's genetically modified crops would continue to rocket. "We expect in 1998 we will have 65 million acres (of genetically altered crops planted) globally, about 55 million of that in the United States," he said. "I don't know of any product in agriculture that is growing as fast."

He acknowledged the U.S. giant had been taken aback by EUROPEAN opposition to its genetically altered crops and planned a public information campaign to explain what these crops were. Monsanto was developing new gene crops such as wheat, rice and vegetables resistant to diseases and insects and that have a higher nutritional value. (Bob Klauber comment: Do foods with much heavier doses of pesticides constitute greater 'nutritional value'? Or foods with unknown side effects?)

Food Safety News Online: Want To Know More About Your Food?

Want the latest research findings and food safety information gathered from university labs around the world? Then check out the new Food Safety web site from North Carolina State. The site also has a link called "Organisms of Concern" which points out pathogens likely to contaminate each type of food. Click on "Hot Topics" to link to articles on pesticides and food additives, food borne illnesses and food science facts. Contact Melissa Taylor, (919)513-2268, email:

DO SOMETHING USEFUL (formerly the Safe Food Initiative web site) check it out!

Date: 9 Apr 1998 09:29:40 -0600
From: Sprinkraft
Subject: Sound Science

Computer Model Tests 'Bt Corn'

By The Associated Press, NYT

URBANA, Ill. (AP) -- Instead of planting test crops, a University of Illinois professor used a computer model to study how to extend the life of corn genetically engineered to kill a major pest.

The corn crops, called "Bt corn" carry a gene from bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis that produces a protein toxic to European corn borers. Those caterpillars can seriously damage the plants.

This is just the third year Bt corn has been available commercially. Researchers and the companies that developed it are worried that if farmers plant too many acres, corn borers will develop resistance to the Bt toxin.

A computer model that takes into consideration the genetics, ecology and population dynamics of the corn borer confirms that fear, according to David Onstad, a professor in the university's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences.

Onstad's model found that if every farmer used Bt corn seed for all his corn acreage -- an unlikely scenario -- resistance would develop in just one year. "We'll lose this technology if we allow resistance to develop," Onstad said.

Onstad also tested less drastic scenarios, exploring what would happen if a farmer planted, for instance, a mixture of seed containing 10 percent non-Bt corn and 90 percent Bt corn, or blocks or strips of non-Bt corn next to Bt corn.

The outcomes of those scenarios are based on principles of population genetics.

Although none has been found yet, scientists assume some corn borers are just born resistant to the Bt toxin. They could become a major problem if allowed to mate with other tolerant corn borers -- producing more resistant corn borers.

And if a farmer were to plant all Bt corn, all the susceptible corn borers would be killed off -- leaving only resistant corn borers to mate.

But if farmers plant some non-Bt corn, that would provide a refuge for susceptible corn borers to survive and ultimately mate with potentially resistant corn borers -- producing offspring that are susceptible to the Bt toxin.

Onstad's model found the best way to delay resistance to the Bt toxin is for farmers to plant 20 percent of non-Bt corn in strips or blocks adjacent to Bt corn. He estimates that would delay resistance for about 20 years.

The issue of resistance is of great interest not only to farmers and researchers but to industries that spent millions of dollars developing Bt corn.

In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency is requiring all seed companies that sell Bt corn to implement after 2000 a plan aimed at slowing the spread of corn borer resistance to the Bt toxin.

St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. already requires farmers who buy its Bt seed to choose between two management programs. One is somewhat similar to Onstad's recommendation.

"Commercially, it's good for all the growers and it's good for the environment that this technology be viable for a long time," Monsanto spokesman Gary Barton said. His company is also working on technological advancements in gene enhancement to head off resistance.

Date: 9 Apr 1998 12:47:01 -0600
From: T4shea

Seed Piracy by Monsanto

Transcribed from a radio commercial run by Monsanto on KTRS 550 am - ST. LOUIS, MO

"With every new technology their our cost. Even biotech seeds, such as Roundup ready soybeans, bollgard cotton and Roundup Ready cotton hardly seems worth the cost of seed piracy.

The vast majority of farmers pirate biotech seed. But when any farmer saves and replants Monsanto patented biotech seed, he knows he is doing wrong.

Knowing this, it cost him his reputation and self respect. No matter if an agreement was signed when he acquired the seed, its still an act of seed piracy. This is unfair and disrupts the level playing field for all farmers.

Seed piracy could cost the farmer hundreds of dollars per acre, in cash settlements and legal fees. Perhaps more than $500 per acre. Plus multiple years of on farm and business records inspections. Cost to his privacy and wallet.

Seed piracy jeopardizes investments in the next generation of biotechproducts for all farmers.

Preventing it, is vital to insuring the continued availabilityof new biotech products in the future. Add up the's just not worth it."

Date: 9 Apr 1998 13:15:26 -0600
From: JHKew
Subject: GE-action report from Scotland

For immediate release March 29th, 1998

Genetic test crop destroyed.

by James Mackenzie
(by way of "Allsorts (also rts)" )

Harvest Festival !

After a packed festival in the Village Hall at Pitlessie in Fife, approximately 50 adults and children held a protest march to the site of AgrEvo UK's oilseed rape test crop near Cupar. Under the gaze of local police officers, the demonstrators proceeded to pull out the mutant plants by hand. Others decorated the field with a banner reading *Stop The Crop*, placards declaring the site a *biohazard*, and a Frankenstein scarecrow!

The festival was addressed by speakers highlighting the dangers of genetic crops. There were also stalls from several campaigning groups concerned about the impact of this untried technology on the environment, and on the food chain.

After the non-violent direct action at the field was over, Stokely Webster, a spokesperson from Fife Earth First! said:

"It was inspirational to see so many concerned people empowering themselves and taking such effective direct action. Perhaps now AgrEvo will get the message and stop this genetic madness - not just here in Fife but in all their test sites around the UK."

The action finished with a celebratory game of football, followed by music and dancing. There were no arrests.

The existence of this crop posed serious risks to the immediate environment through genetic pollution - the spread of foreign genetic material via the pollen of the unnatural crop. As well as opposition from environment groups, there has been severe criticism of the way in which genetic crops are being introduced. There has been a noticeable absence of real public consultation. It is quite clear throughout Europe that genetic crops are not welcome, but the prospect of huge potential profits through patented genetic plants and animals drive the corporate biotechnology machine ever onwards. Today's action was an inevitable consequence of AgrEvo's greed!

Date: 10 Apr 1998 06:34:40 -0600
Subject: squatters on GE release plot

Squatters on GE release Plot

Since April 6th a camp is erected on a release plot in the northern part of Germany, intended to prevent the release of genetically altered sugar beets. The beets were developed by the german agro chemical company AgrEvo (a joint venture of the multinationals Hoechst and Schering). Since 1995 each year several resistance camps were opposing the release of genetically engineered plants in Germany. In most cases the trials had been prevented or severely disturbed. The local inhabitants are usually supporting the activists with food, various things helping to relieve the living conditions or by signing petitions.

To get more information about the current resistance camp contact:

Arche GENoah
D-37213 Witzenhausen
Fax: +49 (0)5542-98 12 42

The web pages could also give you an overview about the schedulded fiel trials in Germany, additionally you could look at:

There is a german coordination office for all grassroot groups opposing the field trials reachable by email:

Let it grow, Werner

Date: 10 Apr 1998 08:12:33 -0600
From: (jim mcnulty)
Subject: Field Trial Results Show Economics of Weed Control in Roundup Ready and Elite Soybeans

Tuesday March 24, 4:23 pm Eastern Time
Company Press Release
SOURCE: American Cyanamid Company

Field Trial Results Show Economics of Weed Control in Roundup Ready and Elite Soybeans

PARSIPPANY, N.J., March 24 - PRNewswire - -- America's farmers could experience yield losses up to $43 per acre when choosing to use Monsanto's (NYSE: MTC - news) Roundup Ready(R)* soybean program. The yield differential is shown when growers plant Roundup Ready soybeans and rely on a single application of Monsanto's Roundup Ultra(TM)* herbicide, rather than use a residual control herbicide program or plant "elite" soybean varieties. These findings are based on a series of field trials conducted for American Cyanamid Company in 1997 by growers across U.S. soybean-producing regions and assume a soybean market price of $6.50 per bushel.

"These trials demonstrate that many growers are seeing a different economic picture than was anticipated from the Roundup Ready soybean program," says Howard Minigh, president, global agricultural products for American Cyanamid, the leader in the U.S. soybean herbicide market. Cyanamid's portfolio of soybean herbicides provides farmers season-long, residual control of weeds, protecting the crop from planting to harvest, and can be used on all soybean varieties.

"The grower trials confirm what we have been saying for years and what university researchers have already found: weed pressure in the first four weeks of the growing season negatively affects yields," Minigh adds. "Roundup on Roundup Ready soybeans is one weed control option, but it is not the only solution for U.S. farmers. We believe growers should choose seed varieties that have the best all-around genetic package and then plan their weed control to optimize yields."

Early-season residual weed control in Roundup Ready soybeans is not possible when based solely on Roundup Ultra, which may call for leaving weeds untreated for up to four-and-a-half weeks. During those crucial weeks, the field trials show, there can be significant yield loss as the soybeans compete with the vigorously growing weeds for light, water and nutrients. Residual control herbicides such as Cyanamid's IMI(TM) imidazolinone herbicides protect the crop against this early competition.

Large-Scale Field Trials Show Range of Yield Advantage with Residual


Results from three different series of field trials totaling nearly 300 across the United States show that farmers will want to consider seed genetics and the best agronomic advice to fit their farming operation, soil conditions and weather.

The most significant difference in yields was seen in the trials that compared Roundup Ready soybeans to elite, i.e., superior, varieties, which are not tolerant to Roundup Ultra. In more than 100 comparisons on growers' fields, elite varieties treated with a Cyanamid imidazolinone product had a 20-percent average yield advantage over Roundup Ready soybean varieties that were treated with only a single application of Roundup Ultra. The fact that the Roundup Ready gene currently is not available in many top-yielding varieties could cost the grower at harvest about $43 per acre in yield loss, based on a soybean price of $6.50 per bushel.

Another 86 field trials showed that residual weed control programs based on a Cyanamid imidazolinone herbicide outyielded a single application of Roundup Ultra in identical Roundup Ready soybean varieties by an average of 18 percent, or 4.7 bushels per acre. These fields were weed-free from the start. That means choosing to plant Roundup Ready soybeans and following a standard Roundup Ready program could potentially cost soybean producers nearly $30 per acre in yield loss.

In the third series, Cyanamid's residual-based herbicide program on Roundup Ready soybeans followed by or tank-mixed with Roundup Ultra as needed outperformed the same soybean varieties grown with only a single application of Roundup Ultra by an average of 11.8 percent. This finding was based on 200 trials that were weed-free from the start.

"The importance of these findings cannot be overstated because of the impact on U.S. growers' profitability," says Stephen Briggs, who heads Cyanamid's field force of agronomy specialists. "Without early-season residual control, the soybean crop does not have the ability to withstand the weed competition and produce to its maximum yield potential."

Residual Weed Control Protects Crop and Profits

A soybean herbicide program with residual properties, such as Cyanamid's Squadron(R), Pursuit(R) Plus, Steel,(R) or Prowl(R) followed by Pursuit(R) herbicide, will control weeds that compete with the crop for nutrients, moisture and sunlight during the critical first few weeks of a plant's growth, Briggs adds. IMI(TM) herbicides will control weeds that are already growing, as well as those that have yet to emerge through the soil surface.

Conversely, a herbicide such as Roundup Ultra will only control those weeds that are actively growing above the soil surface. Since not all weeds germinate at the same time, weeds that emerge after the first treatment in a Roundup program must be resprayed, meaning multiple applications of Roundup and multiple trips across the field. This further reduces profit because of increased cost of additional herbicide, fuel and time spent treating the crop.

American Cyanamid is an early innovator in developing herbicide-tolerant crops, launching the first of these crops nearly six years ago. In 1992, it introduced IMI-CORN(R) hybrids, a nontransgenic biotechnology discovery that allows farmers to use imidazolinone herbicides on their corn. Through advanced plant breeding techniques and collaboration with seed industry partners, Cyanamid has now brought more than 200 IMI-CORN hybrids to farmers.

In 1997, LIGHTNING(R) herbicide was launched and applied to almost one million acres of IMI-CORN because of its outstanding performance in controlling weeds.

Cyanamid is working with universities and seed company partners to extend its imidazolinone tolerant technology to other crops. In Canada, canola farmers use ODYSSEY(TM) herbicide on SMART(TM) canola. Breeding programs and research and development are underway to expand the IMI herbicide-tolerant trait to other major agronomic crops, including wheat and rice.

Soybeans are naturally tolerant to many imidazolinone herbicides, which were introduced in 1985. This class of chemistry was discovered by Cyanamid scientist Dr. Marinus Los who was awarded the presidential National Medal of Technology in 1993 for his contribution to the protection and production of commercial crops. The IMI herbicides are especially notable for their low use rates and favorable environmental profile.

American Cyanamid Company is a subsidiary of American Home Products Corporation (AHP) (NYSE: AHP - news), which is one of the world's largest research- based pharmaceutical and health care products companies. AHP is a leader in the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. It is also a global leader in vaccines, biotechnology, agricultural products and animal health care.

The statements in this press release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties including those detailed from time to time in AHP's periodic reports, including quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and the annual report on Form 10-K, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Actual results may differ from the forward-looking statements.

Always read and follow label directions.

  1. (R)/(TM) Trademarks, American Cyanamid Company (C)1998.
  2. Roundup Ready(R) and Roundup Ultra(TM) are trademarks of Monsanto Company

SOURCE: American Cyanamid Company

Wednesday March 25, 4:06 pm Eastern Time
Company Press Release
SOURCE: Monsanto Company

Monsanto Cautions Farmers to View Competitor's Roundup Ready Soybean Data with Skepticism

ST. LOUIS, March 25 - PRNewswire - -- The following is being issued by Monsanto Company:

Roundup Ready soybean yield data released by American Cyanamid earlier this week was questioned by Monsanto (NYSE: MTC - news) today because it is inconsistent with farmers' experiences and with data collected by seed companies and universities, as well as by Monsanto, in both 1996 and 1997.

"The information released by American Cyanamid indicated that, in their trials, elite regular soybean varieties treated with their herbicide programs had an average yield of 39.7 bushels per acre," says Dr. Jerry Flint, Monsanto Roundup Ready Soybean Technical Manager. "Given that the average yield of all U.S. soybean varieties in 1997, as reported by the USDA, was 39 bushels per acre, and yields of elite varieties typically exceed the average by 4 to 6 bushels, it appears that American Cyanamid has chosen to distribute data that do not reflect what a farmer should expect on his farm."

Data collected from 1,000 farmers who planted Roundup Ready soybeans in 1997 in a post-harvest market research study commissioned by Monsanto showed Roundup Ready soybean yields exceeded the 1997 U.S. average soybean yield. The same study showed that more than 90 percent of the farmers were more satisfied with Roundup Ready soybeans and a Roundup Ultra herbicide program than with regular soybeans and traditional herbicide programs.

"We don't understand why American Cyanamid's data would show Roundup Ready soybeans only yielded 33.1 bushels per acre in one study and just 26.1 bushels per acre in another study when a Roundup Ultra herbicide program was used," said Doug Dorsey, Monsanto Roundup Ready Soybean Market Manager. "Feedback from farmers who planted Roundup Ready soybeans in 1997 and data collected from seed companies' and Monsanto's trials showed Roundup Ready soybeans with a Roundup Ultra herbicide program had average yields that were 8 to 21 bushels per acre higher than American Cyanamid's figures."

"It appears that American Cyanamid is distributing data that is not representative of what farmers should expect to experience on their farms, which is very unfortunate," says Dr. Flint. "We asked to review their data, but to date they have refused."

"American Cyanamid has claimed a major share of the soybean herbicide business in the past, but their share is rapidly being eroded by farmers' adoption of Roundup Ready soybeans, grown without the use of American Cyanamid's residual herbicides," says Dorsey. "We think that soybean farmers will view American Cyanamid's data with a healthy dose of skepticism.

"Based on our market research, more than 40,000 farmers produced Roundup Ready soybeans in 1997 without using any residual herbicides," Dorsey adds. "The excellent results farmers achieved with Roundup Ultra alone are driving the tremendous increase in demand for Roundup Ready soybeans."

University trials over several years have also confirmed Roundup Ready soybeans treated with Roundup Ultra alone have yields better than or equal to Roundup Ready soybeans treated with residual herbicides, including residual herbicides produced by American Cyanamid. This university data, along with farmers' experiences and data collected by seed companies and Monsanto, clearly indicate there is no need for farmers to spend extra money on residual herbicides, says Dr. Flint.

Roundup Ready soybeans are, indeed, being embraced by American farmers. In 1996, one million acres were planted, limited by seed availability. In 1997, nine million acres were planted, again limited by seed supply. Demand for Roundup Ready soybeans for 1998 planting is even higher than the 20 million acres previously expected, says Dorsey.

"We're now estimating that there will be more than 25 million Roundup Ready soybean acres planted in the U.S. this year," Dorsey says. "That represents phenomenal acceptance by U.S. farmers in just three years."

Roundup Ready soybean seed is being offered by more than 100 seed companies, with more than 300 new varieties available for 1998 planting.

Roundup Ready(R) and Roundup Ultra(TM) are trademarks of Monsanto Company.

SOURCE: Monsanto Company

Date: 10 Apr 1998 10:53:58 -0500
Subject: GE Summary April 10, 1998

Misconceptions About Environmental Pollution, Pesticides And The Causes Of Cancer

National Center For Policy Analysis Study:

The study co-authored by Bruce Ames and Lois Gold, found that human exposure to carcinogenic pesticides is minuscule compared to the background of exposure to carcinogens produced by nature. 99.9 percent of all pesticides humans eat are naturally produced by plants to defend themselves against fungi, insects and other animal predators.

And while the study found that more than half the natural chemicals in fruits and vegetables that have been tested cause cancer in laboratory rats and mice at very high doses, people are far more likely to get cancer if they don't eat these foods. That's because fruits and vegetables contain chemicals that help fight cancer, while naturally occurring carcinogens are present in such small amounts they are not likely to be significant causes of cancer. "Evidence suggests that it is the high doses themselves, not the chemicals tested, that cause cancer," he said.

Comments from Bob Klauber: As I scientist I would like to see others repeat this testing. I would be curious as to who paid for this test. Were they the manufacturers of pesticides?

Of course, we have evolved through the eons eating, and therefore adapting and developing natural immunity to, Natureis pesticides. Through the millennia those humans who werenit naturally immune to natureis pesticides died off. Those who were lived, and passed on their immunity. We havenit built up that kind of resistance to man made toxins, however.

I have asked for a copy of this study, plan to contact the authors after reading it, and will report back here what I find out.

Judges Influenced Over Environment?

A third of the nation's 900 federal judges have attended [free] "seminars" [at plush resort locations] on environmental laws financed by a conservative foundation funded by corporations, The Washington Post reported.

Agrochemical Industry On New Tack

By Maricel Sequeira

SAN JOSE, Mar 2 (IPS) - The agrochemical industry is changing its approach to the needs of farmers in its battle to overcome the worldwide swing toward organic farming, a conference heard here.

The products of chemical companies have a dark history of association with infertility, cancer, deformations, and contamination which has seen a switch to organic farming, which is backed by powerful environmental groups. But the agrochemical industry says all this is changing, and it is pursuing a policy of combatting insects and rodents that takes sustainability into consideration.

"Products that are used now are different to those of previous decades. They must be tested for ten years before they are approved. We must demonstrate that they are safe for species other than those they are created to combat," said Nancy Rachman, a specialist in the registration of products of the Cyanimid company.

She was speaking at a conference of environmental groups and representatives of the agrochemical industry held in Costa Rica last week to discuss the use of pesticides and their effect on health and the environment.

Rachman said that current products are very specific, not like those of the 1970s, and the form in which they are used also is different. In contrast to standard procedure 20 years ago, agricultural companies do not recommend the use of pesticides according to a calendar but according to infestation rates, working with the same control techniques used by organic farming.

Alex Kroneberg, representative of the FMC company for Central America, said that the products in today's market do not accumulate in the environment. "More than 90 percent of the products available now have a very short life of just hours, days or weeks. They transform into substances that degrade over a time and they become carbon dioxide," he said.

Rachman said that the big change in the agrochemical industry is that it now seeks to understand biology and the physiology of the plant, the insect or rodent, the weed or the fungus in order to know precisely what the enemy's vulnerable spot is.

"That is why the products today are very specific and act only on specific substances of the plant or plague that is being attacked. They cannot harm other organisms," she said. At the same that they contribute to the development of a sustainable agricultural production, the pesticide industry is facing the challenge of creating effective and inexpensive products.

Cost is one of the main arguments that industry wins over organic agriculture.

David McLaughlin, direct of Environmental Affairs of the transnational company Chiquita Brands, said that producing organic bananas would have a high socio-economic and environmental cost, because the farms would have to return to extensive cultivation.

Costa Rica, for example, has 50,000 hectares of banana that produce 27 percent of the country's total exports.

"In order to produce this number of bananas organically, it would be necessary to plant 2.5 times more than the actual area and destroy 70 percent of the country's protected regions," said Freddy Fernandez, regional coordinator of the Latin American Association to Protect Crops.

Such arguments, however, carried little weight for environmentalists.

Those who defended the organic model said that the chemicals are not as effective as they seem and that technology also accompanies pesticide-free agriculture.

Despite the fact that the three million tons of pesticides are applied yearly throughout the world, plagues still destroy a large percentage potential agriocultural production, said David Pimentel, a scientist at Cornell University.

"Plagues can destroy between 50 and 60 percent of crops in some areas if pesticides are not used," said Pimentel. This means that the chemical products manage to save only between 10 and 20 percent of the harvest.

Bernward Geier, director of the International Federation of Movements for Organic Agriculture (IFOAM), said that the problems of pesticides do not begin with the residues in food, water, or earth, but in production of the chemicals themselves.

Geier recalled several chemical disasters, among them that of Bophal in India, in 1984, when 43 tons of methyl isocyanate and other gases escaped from a Union Carbide factory and killed two thousand people within the first weeks of the disaster. Thousands of others suffered after effects, and many more died over the years

This helped sway the move toward organic products and, in the United States alone, the market is now worth three billion dollars annually - and is expected to double in the next two to three years, said the expert.

Geier cited estimates according to which the organic sector is the most rapid growth industry within the food market, between 20 to 50 percent annually in some countries.

Many believe that organic agriculture will never be able to feed the growing world population. But 800 million people lack food or die of hunger despite the so-called "green revolution" and the intensive use of agricultural chemicals that has characterized it in the past 40 years, said Geier.

Germline gene therapy 'must be spared excessive regulation'

by Meredith Wadman, Nature 26 March 1998

Los Angeles. Germline gene therapy is likely to become a reality within 20 years and should be welcomed, a high-level panel of scientists and other experts said at a meeting in the United States last week. They warned, however, that the procedure could suffer from excessive regulation at either national or international levels.

Any international attempt to regulate germline engineering would be "a complete disaster", said James Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, who is the president of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, New York.

Scientists should proceed unhindered towards germline engineering, he told a symposium called 'Engineering the Human Germ Line', organized by the University of California, Los Angeles. He added: "If there is a terrible misuse and people are dying, then we can pass regulation."

Most of the ten experts on the panel stressed that attempts at germline gene therapy must be preceded by extensive work in animals and human cell lines to develop techniques that would be safe and effective in human embryos. Possible dangers include harmful and unpredictable interactions between inserted or modified genes and others in the recipient genome, causing, for instance, cancer.

But the panellists almost unanimously argued that, once these concerns have been addressed, the potential for curing human disease presented by the incipient technology is so great that it should be implemented - regardless of concern that its use might lead to an ethical morass, and perhaps even to practices such as eugenics.

Leroy Hood, chair of molecular biotechnology at the University of Washington, said: "We are using exactly the same kinds of technologies that evolution [does]." John Fletcher, a bioethicist at the University of Virginia, said that references to the germ line as a Rubicon not to be crossed, and as being "sanctified", had been virtually enshrined in public policy. "I think [this symposium] tended to dispute that premise."

In contrast to Europe, whose governments have already indicated that they will take a firm stand on the new technology, the United States has no law that would prohibit germline manipulation for whatever purpose, provided experiments passed safety and efficacy muster with the Food and Drug Administration. Privately funded research towards germline gene therapy using human embryos is also legal in the United States.

But the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) of the National Institutes of Health - which provides a public forum for discussion of the ethical issues involved in gene therapy - has so far refused to consider germline gene therapy proposals. This may change. The RAC is updating its guidelines, which were written in 1990.

"This will be an opportunity for the committee to revisit" the germline gene therapy issue, says the RAC's director, Claudia Mickelson, who is the biosafety officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mickelson says the RAC needs to make explicit the conditions under which it would consider such proposals, or to explain why it refuses to do so. She believes that the ethical issues involved need serious examination before such work proceeds.

A lone voice on the panel called for a sharp line to be drawn between germline therapy for enhancement and to fight disease. This call came from French Anderson, a professor of biochemistry and paediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, who pioneered human somatic gene therapy in 1991.

Anderson argued that, because the possible harmful effects of manipulating the germ line are unknown, researchers have a duty "to use this powerful technology [only] for the treatment of disease and not for any other purpose". He proposed that before germline therapy to fight disease proceeds in humans, long-term experience with somatic gene therapy in hundreds of patients must be accumulated over at least another decade; reliable, reproducible and safe procedures must be demonstrated in primates; and social awareness and approval must be gained.

Presenters at the symposium made it clear that the technology to conduct germline manipulations is rapidly approaching. For instance, human artificial chromosomes, that ultimately could carry hundreds of genes, are expected soon to be in use in somatic-cell gene therapy. And their use is expected to be made markedly easier by the advent of DNA chips.

The panelists said that germline therapy should be technically easier than somatic gene therapy, which in a decade of attempts has produced poor results. Because germline therapy aims at making changes in a single cell, the zygote, the procedure is "actually much simpler" said Mario Capecchi, a professor of biology and genetics at the University of Utah, who produced "knockout" mice by inactivating single genes.

But the panel's scientists conceded that the time to germline therapy is at least a decade off. "It's going to take a long time to work out the bugs," said Capecchi.

Prestigious Medical Journal Opposes Ban On Human Cloning

In an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Editor-in-Chief Jerome P. Kassirer, and the journal's molecular medicine consultant Nadia A. Rosenthal, discuss the problem of whether human cloning should be prohibited, and they state: "Like many others, we believe that any plan to ban research on cloning human cells is seriously misguided."

The authors conclude: "The difficult ethical judgments about how to apply this new technology can be made only with the full knowledge of the scientific facts. The burden of educating the public about these facts falls squarely on the shoulders of the scientists themselves, whose commitment to full disclosure may never be more stringently tested." (New England J. Med. 26 Mar 98)

Date: 10 Apr 1998 17:09:27 -0500
Subject: Agrevo stops rape experimental cultivation in France

Agrevo Stops Rape Experimental Cultivation In France

Under pressure of ecologists and farmers, Agrevo decided to stop experimental tests of transgenic rape cultivation on 28 fields in France. Ecologists feared gene dissemination into the environment and requested the help of all mayors of the area where rape was cultivated to act for banning the test. Agrevo declared that the test was fruitful but decided to stop the experiment in order to calm the contreversy even though the test was authorized by government.

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