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Date: 11 Apr 1998 10:28:13 -0500
From: MichaelP firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Transnational corporations flout infant-milk rules
Not genetics manipulation; just an indication of un-trustworthiness of transnational trading concerns when it comes to human health and welfare. Think Nestle !!
BBC April 11 1998
The survey was carried out in Bangladesh, Thailand, Poland and South Africa
A new study published in the British Medical Journal says manufacturers of powdered baby milk substitutes are breaking the international code governing the promotion of their products.
The survey, carried out in Bangladesh, Thailand, Poland and South Africa, found that baby milk manufacturers continue to violate the code by giving free gifts of milk to mothers, or indirectly promoting its use by offering free gifts and samples to health workers.
Dr Vivienne Nathonson of the British Medical Association explains the dangers of milk substitutes. The code was adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981 in an attempt to encourage mothers worldwide to breast feed their babies and prevent a needless 1.5 million infant deaths every year.
These are due mainly to malnutrition and infant diarrhoea in children whose mothers cannot afford enough of the formula substitutes and lack access to clean water and sterilising equipment for bottles.
Heather Payne, baby milk manufacturers' spokeswoman: "We are disappointed that this has been dragged up again". The study was carried out in on behalf of the Interagency Group on Breastfeeding, a coalition of 27 churches, academic institutions, experts on infant feeding and leading agencies, including UNICEF-UK and Save the Children.
An accompanying editorial in the British Medical Journal says that the promotional activities of the baby milk manufacturers will not be curbed until the companies are sued for damages by consumers in the same way that the tobacco companies are.
The article urges governments to incorporate the rules of the code of marketing into national legislation.
** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **
Date: 11 Apr 1998 12:46:21 -0500
Subject: a letter to an organic farmer
by Prof. Joe Cummins - Re: Biocontrol Network
The letter below is to an influential Canadain organic farmer. It is about a government research program being promoted as research in "organic farming".
Thank you for sending me material on the Biocontrol Network on April 1 that arrived April 10. The materials you sent me included the following documents:
First I will paraphrase an old saying "beware of bureaucrats bearing gifts". I think it is safe to say that the scheme works against organic farming and genetically engineered products will be excluded from "organic" at the international level. One company on the list of patrons, "Mycogen", has been selling a genetically engineered product, a form of Bt toxin, to organic farmers without divulging that the product is genetically engineered.
In the long run organic is better off without the kinds of toxins being promoted by the "excellence" program. Regarding the funding for the program, I think it is wrong and improper to allow only invited proposals for government funded projects. It leaves the impression that there is a "cult" of biotechnology dominating government.
The $9 million provided by government fails to mention the $38million provided by government to match the funds from chemical companies for the agrifood research and technology transfer program that has Agriculture-AgriFood Canada doing research benefiting the chemical companies. This kind of money goes well beyond the modest research productivity and suggests that the fund auditing should be done independently of government bureaucrats. A few researchers seem to be exclusively handed a huge bonus, thus the funds should be monitored carefully. The areas of research outlined seem to benefit "organic" not at all, but are likely be used a means of redefining "organic ' along lines dictated by chemical companies.
The virus program included with the material was to modify insect ( Baculo )virus to more efficiently attack insect pests. Such modifications have included scorpion toxin and diuretic hormones. Baculovirus infect human liver and have been developed to deliver human genes in gene therapy. The whole project is wildly threatening and dangerous. There is little heed paid to regulatory oversight in such research and testing, as if the Canadian government has given cart- blanche for human experimentation!
I hope my comments have helped you, please feel free to distribute them freely.
Professor Joe Cummins
738 wilkins street
London, ON N6C4Z9 Canada
FAX&phone 519 681 5477
Date: 13 Apr 1998 03:34:59 -0500
From: email@example.com (jim mcnulty)
Subject: South African scientists plan "super cow" clone
© Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation, April 13, 1998
STELLENBOSCH, South Africa. Move over Dolly, the cloned sheep. South African scientists are preparing to collect the genes of two "super cows" who produce over 100 litres (212 pints) of milk a day so that they can try to clone the beasts.
"There is nothing in the world at this moment that can compare with these cows. Their production is light years ahead of anything which is available in the world," farmer and "super cow" owner Ludwig van Deventer told Reuters in an interview.
Superstar was the first cow van Deventer discovered with remarkable milk producing abilities. She churned out 124.2 litres (263 pints) of milk in one day when she was tested by South Africa's independent Agricultural Research Council in November.
Du Toit said his unit was in the process of testing Superstar to see if she breaks the world record of around 28,577 litres (60,500 pints) in 305 days. "We expect that she will better the world record," he said. "She has another 95 days to go."
Superstar is due to be crowned Newsmaker of the Year at a local Easter show for putting the South African dairy industry on the world map.
Du Toit said the national average daily milk production in South Africa was around 20 litres (42 pints) per cow, with advanced herds producing between 30 to 40 litres (64 to 85 pints) each.
Superstar's half-sister Megastar also has remarkable talents and already produces over 100 litres (212 pints) daily although she is only in her first lactation period. Milk production usually peaks in the fourth or fifth lactation period.
"It is now our intention to look at the possibility of cloning these cows," van Deventer said. "If you could clone freely you could create thousands of these animals with these very high production abilities."
Stellenbosch University scientists will team up with experts from the United States and the Roslin Institute in Scotland, which produced the now world famous sheep Dolly last year, the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell.
Local newspapers say the scientists may call their supercow cloning company "Galaxy."
"In the first instance we would like to preserve Superstar's genes," Chrisjan Cruywagen, an animal nutritionist at Stellenbosch, told Reuters. "We would later like to multiply her genetics and introduce them nationwide and perhaps worldwide.
"This cow is an extraordinary animal. We can't afford this cow to die on us without leaving her genes behind," he said.
Danie Barry, an animal physiologist at Stellenbosch University who is part of the team involved in the five-year research programme on the two cows, said the first phase was to collect cells from different parts of the animals' bodies.
Barry said scientists would also artificially inseminate the two cows, collect their fertilised embryos, hopefully by July, and transfer them to other recipient cows.
He said if the supercows did transmit their high milk production to their calves, then the semen of their male offspring could be distributed worldwide.
"If we find that they do not transfer their abilities to their offspring then we will try and clone these two animals and reproduce them," he said. "Their genetic potential could have an enormous impact on the dairy herds locally as well as abroad."
Barry also said the genes of the two cows could be crossed with human genes so the resultant cloned cattle could produce milk containing certain proteins lacking in humans.
Superstar, a black and white Friesian Holstein, and Megastar, brown and white, live in a special pen on van Deventer's farm a few kilometres (miles) outside Stellenbosch, an hour from Cape Town, and now have a 24-hour guard.
"You can't explain how much these cows are worth. You cannot express it in terms of dollars or rand," said Cruywagen.
Scientists cannot attempt to create more super-producing siblings of Superstar or Megastar by natural means.
Van Deventer, a wine farmer by trade who originally acquired the herd of cattle to provide fertiliser for his vineyards, slaughtered the cow's injured mother about 18 months ago, before he realised the potential of her offspring.
"We've had scientists here from all over the world. They are all amazed at the ability of these two cows," van Deventer said. "They'll have to rewrite all the textbooks on animals."
Cruywagen is especially fascinated by the fact an ordinary sized cow can produce so much milk with a small udder.
Superstar weighs 512 kg (1,120 lbs) and produces about a quarter of her body weight in milk every day, enough to give 500 people a glass of milk or produce enough butter for 1,200 slices of bread.
Cruywagen says the animal's genes should be introduced into the national herd, which can currently only produce a glass of milk daily for half the country's population of 38 million.
"We would like to see every person in South Africa get a glass of milk a day," he said. REUTERS
Date: 13 Apr 1998 03:41:38 -0500
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (jim mcnulty)
Subject: gene-japan to keep customer's dna upon request
Nikkei English News via NewsEdge Corporation
(The Nikkei Industrial Daily Friday edition) April 13, 1998
Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc. -- 04-10-98
&Copy; 1998, Nikkei America
TOKYO (Nikkei)--Gene-Japan Co. will begin preserving customers' DNA for a maximum of 60 years upon request, company officials announced Thursday. This will make the DNA available for such things as the solution of disputes over inheritance and confirmation of blood relationships. Gene-Japan expects 1,000 customers a year for the new service.
Gene-Japan already offers a DNA examination service in conjunction with its parent company, Identygene Co. of the U.S. Mucosa cells are removed from a customer's saliva and a small amount is sent to Identygene. The U.S. company records details of an individual's DNA, making results available to the customer within two weeks. An examination of this kind costs about 140,000 yen per person.
The company has examined DNA for 700 customers since last April.
Date: 13 Apr 1998 03:43:13 -0500
From: email@example.com (jim mcnulty)
SOURCE Money Talks
CONTACT: Larry Thomas for Money Talks, 212-596-1513,
firstname.lastname@example.org or Denise Maloney of PepperCom, 212-681-1333, email@example.com
&Copy; 1998, PR Newswire April 13, 1998
NEW YORK, April 10 /PRNewswire/ via NewsEdge Corporation -- In the " Portfolio" column this week, John Tompkins, mutual fund editor of Money Talks (www.talks.com) and New York Times and Wall Street Journal alumnus, discusses gold and its improved status in the world market. And, in the " Medicine Man" column this week, George Stasen profiles Novartis and the significance of the Novartis Institute for Functional Genomics.
According to Tompkins, last year's bear market in gold seems to have turned around. Per Tompkins, Frank Veneroso, consultant and publisher of a gold information service, believes there is a bull market in gold and it the price per ounce could move up as high as $370. The metal has made an astounding rebound, seemingly overnight, as the price gained $20 an ounce in only a couple of trading sessions. It has rocketed straight up in a way not seen since the early 1980's. What's more, according to Tompkins, gold should play a key role in the proposed European Central Bank, another example of its strength.
Meanwhile, Stasen discusses the Swiss company Novartis, one of the world's largest life science companies. Novartis, created from the merger of CIBA- Geigy and Sandoz, announced recently that it will provide $250 million in investment funding to the Novartis Institute for Functional Genomics. A sign, says Stasen, that investors should become more aggressive in adding life science stocks to their portfolios.
In addition to the new institute, Novartis is expanding into many areas. Last year, Novartis created and implemented its Venture Fund and by the end of 1997, it had qualified 29 projects for funding out of a total of 120 formal proposals. Furthermore, its CIBA Vision Corporation and Isis Pharmaceutical announced the joint-filing of a New Drug Application with the FDA, a drug to be included in the treatment routine of AIDS patients.
The "Portfolio" column and "Medicine Man" are posted each Friday evening, at which time the previous week's column can be found in the Money Talks' archives ( www.talks.com/archives.html ).
Money Talks is a free e-zine that features original daily commentary from leading financial journalists, many of whom developed expertise and contacts at the New York Times and/or Wall Street Journal. This all-star financial line-up offers savvy insight on the equities marketplace, mutual funds, personal finance, biotech, the retail industry, interactive technology, financial issues for twenty-somethings, the economy and more. Designed to help individuals make better investment decisions, Money Talks' editorial is complemented by access to interactive tools and databases, including quotes, charts, a portfolio tracker, earnings analysis, news and an extensive IPO section.
Date: 13 Apr 1998 16:43:36 -0500
From: jim mcnulty firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: GE News
Source: Harry Rothman ( email@example.com )
(Nature 26 Mar 98)
Researchers Say DNA Patenting Will Impede Medical Progress
Genome Patenting: The Merck Exception
Continuing Problems Of Genome Patenting
Statistics On U.S. Public Sector Patents On Human DNA
Scientists Urge Caution In Awarding Of Human Gene Patents
Company Obtains Patent For Skin Cancer Melanoma Gene
Complementary DNA, denoted as cDNA, is DNA that is synthesized in vitro from an RNA template using the enzyme reverse transcript- ase, and it can be used in cloning to investigate the presence of various genes, or as a probe for homologous sequences in various tissues or species. ...
Glasner and Rothman (University of West England Bristol, UK), in a letter to the journal Nature, tabulate results of a survey of the Human Genome Mapping Project resource center as an indication of the views of laboratory bench scientists concerning the legal protection of biotechnological inventions.
This was a UK survey, with 525 respondents, nearly 90% of them located in the UK. Of those surveyed, 86.8% of 508 respondents believe that patenting of partial and uncharacterized complementary DNA sequences without a knowledge of their biological function will impede future development of medical diagnostics and therapeutics.
by Alan R. Williamson
Merck Research Labs., Merck & Co. Inc., Rahway, NJ 07065-0900 US (Science 31 Oct 97)
In the arena of science, a discovery presupposes the preexistence of something and implies a finding rather than a making, whereas an invention implies fabricating something useful as the result of original thought or experiment. In the arena of law, however, the differences between discovery and invention are often not so clear. A rather heated and significant debate, for example, has arisen in recent years concerning the awarding of patents by the US Patent Office for bits and pieces of the human genome -- certainly found (discovered) material rather than "invented" material -- the policy ostensibly in place to provide incentive for commercial biotechnology research, but also providing as a consequence various proprietary blockades to access of research material and research data, the blockades being found onerous and antithetical to the spirit of science by many researchers.
Biotechnology is an infant discipline, and the legal structure surrounding it is in process of evolution. That much said, it should also be said that no one is in apparent agreement on either side about exactly how that evolution should develop. Recently, a representative of Merck & Co., one of the major commercial interests in biotechnology research, outlined Merck's position in a letter in response to a previous published report on the human genome patenting problem.
Merck's position is apparently that human genome patenting and researcher access to materials and data are not mutually exclusive, an attitude supported by many people in biotechnology. But also in the letter is the following: "Merck does not believe that patents should be awarded to either genes or expressed sequence tags for which the function or utility is purely speculative." Which is consistent with classical US patent law, but which is not entirely consistent with the attitudes of many commercial and university research laboratories that hurry to file patents on bits and pieces of the human genome whose function is indeed not yet clarified.
Science 19 Sep 97
The U.S. decision in the 1980s to allow anyone to obtain patent rights to parts of the human genome is producing fruits these days that many biologists are calling rotten. Of concern now are genetic markers called "single nucleotide polymorphisms".
A DNA polymorphism is a DNA sequence that occurs in the population in two or more variants, each with a significant frequency of more than abut 1%. A single nucleotide polymorphism is an alteration occurring in a single nucleotide base, and the alteration may or may not be involved in a disease process. What is significant in this context is that these alterations can be used as markers by researchers scanning an entire genome for significant mutations. Many researchers consider single nucleotide polymorphisms so obvious scientifically that they should not be patentable.
But that is not the current situation, and there is concern that the U.S. Patent Office is handing out patents in molecular biology without much understanding of the science involved, the ostens- ible purpose that of promoting commercial funding of potentially useful health applications. Most biotechnology companies are exceedingly happy about this attitude. Abbot Laboratories, for example, has now announced it will invest up to US$20 million of equity in a company called Genset (Paris, FR), and support up to US$22.5 million in research for the purpose of acquiring proprietary rights to as many single nucleotide markers as possible.
Researchers are concerned that commercial entities will tie up so many parts of the human genome with patents (there are about 100,000 genes in the human genome) that no one will be able to do any substantive research on the human genome without paying royalties to someone.
Nature 21 Aug 97
In a correspondence, S. M. Thomas et al (two installations in the UK) present results of an analysis of patents published in 1995 that include claims for human DNA sequences. 40% of the patents are from public-sector institutions such as universities, and most of them from the U.S. This is double the estimate for the previous decade. The authors call the increase "remarkable".
Nature 26 Jun 97
Continuing the expression of concern about the manner in which current U.S. intellectual property laws may interfere with scientific research, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences has joined the National Institutes of Health and the Human Genome Organization in protesting an interpretation of current patent law that would permit the issuing of patents on what are called "expressed gene sequence tags". Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, warns against "patents that allow an early group of inventors who have disclosed little new knowledge to constrain the actions of subsequent investigators."
New York Times 5 May 97
Under present U.S. and European patent law it is possible to obtain a patent on a human gene in the same manner as one obtains a patent on a chemical compound. Myriad Genetics, the Salt Lake City company that has two patents pending for breast cancer genes (BRCA-1 and BRCA-2), has now received a patent for the gene it claims causes melanoma (Multiple Tumor Suppressor 1 or MTS1), and for the method of testing for the presence of that gene in humans. Lisa Cannon-Albright, a University of Utah geneticist, Mark Skolnik, a Myriad geneticist, and Alexander Kamb, a Myriad molecular biologist are listed as the inventors.
Date: 13 Apr 1998 16:45:33 -0500
From: jim mcnulty firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: New CJD Study Attacked As `illogical'
&Copy; 1998 PA News. Copying, storing, redistribution, retransmission, publication, transfer or commerical exploitation of this information is expressly forbidden. PA 10.04.98 04:02
By John von Radowitz, Medical Correspondent, PA News
Unexplained links between CJD and raw meat, some fertilisers and exposure to leather were revealed today in the biggest ever study of risk factors for the disease. But the surprising findings were immediately attacked as "inconsistent and totally illogical".
A collaborative study collected data on 405 patients with probable or definite CJD in Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands between 1993 and 1995. The results, published in the Lancet medical journal today, showed no evidence of an increased risk of CJD associated with eating beef, veal, lamb, cheese or milk.
However in the overall analysis, frequent exposure to leather products other than from wearing clothes, was significantly associated with CJD.
Exposure to fertilisers which contained hoofs and horns was also reported significantly more often for CJD patients than for a healthy control group.
Another inexplicable finding showed a slight increase in CJD risk the more people ate pork. This was despite the fact that pigs are not known to suffer any animal diseases of this type, such as BSE or the sheep illness Scrapie.
The authors, who included scientists from the CJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh, said: "Each of these three findings lack a plausible biological explanation and need to be confirmed." But the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) attacked the results. John Pratt, chief veterinary adviser for the MLC, said: "It appears leather shoes and lederhosen are perfectly okay, but leather furniture is not.
"This appears to be beyond any form of sense or reason. Either the research is deeply flawed or has been interpreted incorrectly - I cannot believe these results bear any relation to reality."
The research, which did not distinguish between different types of CJD, underlines how little is known about the horrific brain illness.
But although some risk factors -- including contact with leather products other than clothes -- were described as "significant", the investigating scientists said the results should be "interpreted with great caution".
New variant CJD -- nvCJD -- the novel strain believed to be linked with BSE-infected beef, was not thought to feature in the findings because it was not made public until 1996. Most cases of CJD, known as sporadic, occur spontaneously and have no known cause. Others have been linked to genetic factors and some are transmitted through treatment with human-derived hormones, neurosurgery and cornea transplants.
Last year there were 59 cases of CJD in the UK, of which 40 were sporadic, six were linked to medical procedures, three were inherited and 10 were new variant.
Dr Cornelia van Duijn, from Erasmus University Medical School, in Rotterdam, Holland, who led the research, admitted some of the surprise findings might be due to coincidence or reporting bias.
Even significant links could reflect a "statistical fluke" rather than a genuine cause and effect, she said. The fact that general exposure to leather emerged as a significant risk factor when working with leather posed no special risk was especially puzzling.
She added: "We are working with statistics, so to really say we have found a causal relationship is difficult. All we can say is what is plausible from what we know of the disease."
Date: 13 Apr 1998 20:03:19 -0500
From: MichaelP email@example.com
Subject: FOE (Friends Of the Earth) notice to Brits about testing new gen-manipulated crops
- GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS -
COMING TO A FARM NEAR YOU
A huge genetic experiment is taking place in our countryside. There are hundreds of trial sites dotted around the country testing new genetically engineered crops. The public and landowners have the right to comment on all proposals to grow genetically engineered crops. This briefing tells you how to find out about test sites in your area, what the environmental risks are and what you can do about it.
Genetically engineered crops are currently being grown in this country in experimental "test sites". They are tested to see whether the plants do what they expect them to, and whether they can survive outside of the laboratory.
These test sites are for experimental crops. They can contain genes from a wide range of plants, viruses and bacteria. The interaction of these "foreign" genes with those of the crop plant is not predictable, and there are often unexpected results. No-one knows what the long term impacts will be, but there are known risks.
At test sites, companies must monitor the crop and also have a "buffer zone" to ensure that the genetically engineered plants can't breed with normal plants in the area. However, both of these methods are inadequate. Last year several companies were caught out, because they failed to take the precautions recommended by government, and even when these are followed, they may not be enough. For example, the buffer zone is usually 400 metres, but oilseed rape pollen can be blown by the wind to 2.5 kilometres.
Companies must apply to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) who is advised by the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE). The Committee bases their decision upon the company's evidence, and then advises the Secretary of State whether or not to give consent.
Be a watchdog - find a site near you There is a register of applications for genetically engineered crops, which is administered by the Government's Biotechnology Unit. Members of the public have a right to see the entries.
To find out more information on the crop and the latest releases:
The Biotechnology Unit, Floor 2/G9
Department of the Environment,
Transport and the Regions
Ashdown House, 123 Victoria
Street, London SW1E 6OE
Tel. 0171 890 5275 /5277
Fax. 0171 890 5259
Once the company has placed a notice in the local paper, members of the public can put forward their objections in writing to the Biotechnology Unit (see above). This must be done within 14 days of the notice appearing.
Writing to object shows how concerned people are about these experimental releases. Opinion polls show that people are very concerned about these new food crops. None are yet grown commercially in this country and YES! - we can make a difference.
Applications are made all year round, but most are made leading up to planting time in the spring (March to May) and in the Autumn (August to October).
Consumers can influence both government and companies. We can halt the spread of genetically engineered crops. Here are 4 easy steps to take:
Friends of the Earth is campaigning for a halt to the growing of genetically engineered crops.
We are calling for sustainable farming practices that don't depend on chemical inputs and produces food that is safe to eat and minimises the impact on the environment.
If you would like to be kept informed of our campaign please write to: The Campaign for Real Food,
Friends of the Earth,
26-28 Underwood Street, London, N1 7JQ
Phone 0171 490 1555
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