Genetically Manipulated Food News

Saturday, 23 May 1998

Table of Contents

GE - No Patents on Rice! No Patents on Life!
Biodiversity: Europe Was Warned Of Bio-piracy Dangers
Will Biotechnology Feed The Worlds Poor?
GE Foods --- how Shall They Be Labeled For International Trade?
What Is Codex Alimentarius?
Sample Letter from Dr. John Fagan
RESOLUTION to the Codex Committee on Food Labelling
Researchers Describe Their Engineered Cloned Calves
Japan: Kanematsu To Certify Food As Non-Genetically Engineered
Message to Codex Alimentarius
The Brave New World of Bad Science and Big Business
Holstein Calves Cloned From Cells, Scientists Report
rBGH: Reporters Who Say They Were Silenced by TV Station Post Web Site (NYT)
U.S. warns EU of big trade row over genetic corn
Paris to decide on gene maize imports after debate

Back to Index

All reports in this issue are thanks to
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: Fri, 15 May 1998 06:00:23 -0500
Posted by: Allsorts

GE - No Patents on Rice! No Patents on Life!

Statement from Peoples' Movements & NGOs in Southeast Asia to the World Trade Organization

Underwritten for the PHILIPPINES
Underwritten For THAILAND by
Underwritten for INDONESIA by
Underwritten for CAMBODIA by
Underwritten for INDIA by
Solidarity and endorsements from JAPAN

Rice is life in Southeast and other parts of Asia. It has been the cornerstone of our food, our languages, our cultures - in short, our life - for thousands of years. Over the centuries, farming communities throughout the region have developed, nurtured and conserved over a hundred thousand distinct varieties of rice to suit different tastes and needs.

The Green Revolution spearheaded by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the 1960s resulted the loss of this diversity from farmers' fields and the spread of wholly unsustainable farming systems which require high energy inputs such as pesticides, fertilizers, so-called 'high-yielding' seeds, irrigation systems and supervised credit schemes. In this process, farmers lost control of their own seeds, their own knowledge and their own self-confidence. Today, people are struggling throughout the region to rebuild more sustainable agriculture systems hinged on farmers' control of genetic resources and local knowledge.

In the past, the whole cycle of the rice economy was under the control of farmers themselves, from production through distribution. Today, global corporations are taking over the rice sector. With the expansion of industrial farming, global corporations - and their local subsidiaries - established their predominance in the rice sector through research programs, interference in policy-making, and their exports of farm machinery, pesticides and fertilizers.

Now, through the use of genetic engineering, they are increasing their control over our rice cultures. The kinds of rice that we are promised through this technology threaten the environment and public health. For example, herbicide tolerant rice will lead to increased pesticide use. Rice incorporating Bacillus thuringiensis genes will disrupt ecological balances. Both of these are unsafe for consumers and will lead to allergic reactions, increased antibiotic resistance and other health hazards. New hybrids - such as those based on the so-called 'Terminator Technology' - will force farmers to buy rice seed every planting season from transnational corporations.

The extension of the patent system through the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) gives global corporations the 'right' to claim monopoly ownership over rice - and life - itself. Companies in the industrialized world have already started to claim intellectual property rights (IPR) on rice. A derivative of IR-8, IRRI's 'miracle rice', was monopolised through IPR in the United States already in the 1980s. Recently, RiceTec, a company in Texas, has taken out a patent on basmati rice. This is biopiracy against India and Pakistan.

The same company and many others in the US are now marketing what they label as Jasmine rice. This is not only intellectual and cultural theft, it also directly threatens farm communities in Southeast Asia. Jasmine rice comes from Thailand, where it is grown today by over five million resource-poor farmers who are trying to develop ecological alternatives for Jasmine rice production and marketing.

We have to strengthen local groups to assert farmers' and community rights to counter these trends in the region. For this reason, we make the following demands:

  1. WTO memberstates must recognise that farmers' and community rights have precedence over intellectual property rights and that IPRs destroy biodiversity. Many initiatives to develop and implement farmers' and community rights are underway in Southeast Asia, and must be supported and strengthened.

  2. We encourage the memberstates of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to support the initiatives of India and the Organisation for African Unity to resist the extension of IPR systems and to develop community rights at the local and national levels.

  3. Genetic engineering of rice and other foods should be prohibited.

  4. Agriculture and biodiversity must be taken out of the WTO regime, especially the TRIPS Agreement.

  5. No patents on rice! No patents on life!

Underwritten for the Philippines

  1. MASIPAG (Farmer/Scientist Partnership for Development) 3346 Aguila St., Rhoda's Subd., Anos, Los Baños, Laguna 4030, PHILIPPINES
    Tel. (63-49) 536-5549 or 4205, Fax: (63-49) 536 55 26

  2. CEC (Center for Environmental Concerns) 175-B Kamias Road Ext., Quezon City or PO Box 1212-1152 Quezon City Post Office, PHILIPPINES
    Tel (63-2)920-90-99, 928-97-25, Fax (63-2) 921-15-31, Cell: (0912) 3574364

  3. PDG (Paghida-et sa Kauswagan Dev't Group) Mojon, Binicuil, Kabankalan, Negros Occidental or Tel./Fax : (34) 471-2573

  4. MAPISAN c/o CERC Office Kabankalan Catholic College, Kabankalan, Negros Occidental 6111, PHILIPPINES
    Tel (63-34) 471-2574

  5. HAYUMA Unit 4, Aurora Apts, Pearl St., Umali Subd., College, Laguna 4031, PHILIPPINES
    Tel. (63-49) 536-3987, Fax: (63-49) 536 55 26
    E-mail: or

  6. Assisi Foundation, 3/F Unit C, Strata 200 Bldg., Emerald Ave. Ortigas Complex, Pasig City, PHILIPPINES

  7. Philippine Greens, # 108 V. Luna Road Ext., Sikatuna Village, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES
    Tel (63-2) 921-5165, Fax (63-2) 433-1133

  8. Dr Oscar Zamora, University of the Philippines Los Banos Department of Agronomy, University of Philippines Los Baños, College, Laguna 4031, PHILIPPINES
    Tel: (63-49) 536 24 66 or 536 22 17 or 536 24 68 Fax: (63-49) 536 24 68

  9. Dr Romy Quijano, University of the Philippines College of Medicine, UP-College of Medicine, Dept. of Pharmacology, 547 Pedro Gil St., Ermita, Manila, Taft Ave., Manila, PHILIPPINES
    E-mail: romyq@ or

  10. S.A. Center (Sustainable Agriculture Center) Manresa Hts., Xavier, University College of Agriculture Cagayan de Oro City, PHILIPPINES
    Tel: (63-8822) 724096, Tel/Fax: (63-8822) 727464 or 722994, Cellular: (097) 3382105
    E-mail: or

  11. SIBAT (Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya) No. 10 Alley 13 Road 3, Project 6, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES
    Tel (63-2) 9291140, Tel/Fax (63-2) 9293220

  12. Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) Cebu Office Door 2 Rodriguez Apt., Escario cor. G. Garcia Sts., Cebu City, Philippines
    Tel. No.: +6332-53678, Tel./Fax: +6332-2545091

  13. GRAIN Los Baños, Aurora Apts., Unit 2, Pearl St., Umali Sbd., College, Laguna 4031, PHILIPPINES
    Tel: (63-49) 536 39 79, Fax: (63-49) 536 55 26

  14. CACP (Citizens' Alliance for Consumer Protection) Casal Bldg., 15 Anonas Road, Quirino District, Quezon City
    Tel: 433-3073

Underwritten For Thailand by

  1. TREE (Technology for Rural and Ecological Enrichment) 21 SOI 2, Nane-Kaew Road, Muang District Suphanburi 72000, THAILAND
    Tel Suphanburi: (66-35) 52 18 83 or 50 0803 Tel Bangkok: (66-2) 883 81 13, Fax: (66-35) 52 18 03

  2. Mr. Witoon Lianchamroon, Lokdulyapav / BIOTHAI (Thai Network on Biodiversity and Community Rights), 87/11 PingAmPorn, Pattaranives, Samakkee Rd., Muang, Nonthaburi, THAILAND
    Tel: (66-2) 952 04 90, Fax: (66-2) 952 83 12

  3. Ms. Piengporn (Chiu) Panutampon, BIOTHAI, 55/238 Mooban Saranrom, Soi Nuanchan, Sukhapibal 1 Rd, Bungkum, Bangkok 10230, THAILAND
    Tel/Fax : (66-2) 946 69 38

  4. Alternative Agriculture Network (AAN), c/o RRAFA, 67 Soi Thonglor 3, Sukhumvit 55, Phrakhanong, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
    Tel/Fax: (66-2) 391 17 71

Underwritten for INDONESIA by

  1. PAN (Pesticides Action Network) Indonesia PAN-Indonesia, Jl. Persada Raya #1, Menteng Dalam, Jakarta 10210, Indonesia
    Tel/Fax: (62-21) 829 65 45

  2. Anik Wusari, Program Officer for Program Development Services Resource Management and Development Consultant (REMDEC) Salemba Raya No. 39 BB., Jakarta. Indonesia.
    Email: Anik Wusari

  3. Omar Sari, Network and Computer Specialist, International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) Jalan Mampang, Prapatan VI No.39, Jakarta, 12790, Indonesia
    Email: Okky

  4. Dr. George J. Aditjondro, Former Vice President of the Indonesian Environmental Forum (WALHI), Indonesian academic dissident in self-imposed exile Lecturer in the Sociology of Non-Western Environmental Movements Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Newcastle, NSW 2308, Australia

Underwritten for CAMBODIA by

  1. Lot S. Miranda, HEKS Cambodia Programme, PO Box 445, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Email:

Underwritten for INDIA by

  1. Shabnam Merchant, International Liaison Officer, People's Alliance for Implementation of the Law, Thane, India
    Email: Shabnam Merchant

  2. Nergis Irani, Convenor, Dahanu Chapter, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage

  3. Kitayun Rustom, Join Hon. Secretary, Dahanu Taluka Environmnet Welfare Assoc., India

Solidarity and endorsements from JAPAN:

  1. Hiroko Kubota. University of Kokugakuin,member of JOAA :Odawara-city Iidaoka106 kanagawa prefecture. Japan

  2. Shinji Hashimoto. JAPAN:Ichijima Organic Farming Association

  3. Kimie Tuda (Secretary of Osaka Organic Agricultre Association)

  4. Hirofumi Asai (Representive of Polan Hiroba Kansai )Organic Marketing Group Reiko Sugahara (Polan Organic Farming Association) Address: 4th Esaka-chou build 1-22-23 Esaka cho Suita-shi Osaka-fu 564-0063,Japan
    Tel&Fax :06-330-0749

  5. Association for keeping Rice Culture in Japan Representation director: Mitsukuni Inaba Address: 72 Sayado, Kaminokawa-machi, Kawachi-gun, Tochigi, 329-0526 Japan
    Tel&Fax: +81-285-53-1133

  6. Non-Governmental Rice Growing Research Institute Head Clerk: Mitukuni Inaba
    Address: 72 Sayado, Kaminokawa-machi, Kawachi-gun, Tochigi, 329-0526 Japan
    Tel&Fax: +81-285-53-1133

MASIPAG/Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development 3346 Aguila St., Rhoda's Subd., Los Banos, Laguna, 4030 Philippines
Tel (63-49)536-5549 or 536-4205, Fax (63-49)536-5526

May 14, 1998

Biodiversity: Europe Was Warned Of Bio-piracy Dangers

LONDON - Inter Press Service via NewsEdge Corporation : The London-based Gaia Foundation, the Dutch Coalition Against Patents on Life and other European NGOs are worried that the new European directive on life patents will spell disaster to developing countries, particularly their farmers.

The directive was cleared by the European Parliament in Strasbourg May 7. It will put the right to patent life forms into European law for the first time, and bring Europe in line with the extensive freedom to patent for commercial exploitation already allowed in the United States and Japan.

For developing countries, this may give a free hand to Western multinationals to come and patent a variety of indigenous plants and seeds.

Posted by: Australian GeneEthics Network (Bob Phelps)

Will Biotechnology Feed The Worlds Poor?

By Tom Campbell, Lecturer in Environmental Studies,
Development Studies Centre, Kimmage Manor. Dublin. Republic of Ireland.

One of the biggest myths perpetuated by the biotechnology industry is that genetically engineered crops are likely to provide a solution to world hunger. Companies like ICI Seeds, Britainís largest seeds merchant, proclaim that biotechnology will be the most reliable and environmentally acceptable way to secure the worldís food supplies .

Elsewhere, executives from the Monsanto Corporation have gone as far as to promote themselves as part of the solution to the worldís food and environmental problems: ìsustainable agriculture is only possible only with biotechnology and imaginative chemistryî , they claim in a 1990 article entitled ëPlanetary Patriotismí Similarly, a recent advertisement from Monsanto depicts maize growing in the desert with the caption: ìWill it take a miracle to solve the worlds hunger problems?î. Implicit in these messages is that to oppose biotechnology is to reject the best hope for a solution to world hunger and to perpetuate the suffering of starving children.

Despite the evidence that genetically engineered crops may provide higher yields in the short term (it remains to be seen whether they do so in the long term) there are a number of good reasons why these arguments simply do not stand up to analysis. On the contrary there is plenty of evidence to suggest that biotechnology will more than likely reduce food and livelihood security for the worldís poor. Here are six reasons why biotechnology and food security can never be compatible:

  1. Biotechnology can never be a cure for hunger - Famines are not caused by lack of food but by lack of access to food and alternative sources of income in times of crisis. There are ample reserves of food in the world today yet the numbers of malnourished run into hundreds of millions. Increasing agricultural production (even assuming that this is possible through biotechnology) whilst leaving the structural causes of poverty and hunger unaddressed is a recipe not for feeding the world but for continuing to starve sizeable numbers within it.

  2. Biotechnology creates dependency - Biotechnology goes hand in hand with intensive agriculture, with single crops in large fields. The majority of Third World farmers are small-scale, farming a variety of crops. By switching to genetically engineered seeds they have to change their practices and become dependent on the companies which provide the ëpackageí of seeds, herbicides, fertilisers, irrigation systems, etc. In India, farmers using Monsantoís genetically engineered seeds pay an extra $50 - $65 per acre as a ëtechnical feeí over and above the price of seed. Farmers who do business with Monsanto must sign a contract stating that they will not buy chemicals >from any one else.

  3. Biotech Companies can not be trusted - There is nothing in the environmental record of Corporations like Du Pont or Monsanto, who are leading proponents of biotechnology, to suggest that they should be trusted now. These same companies have always promoted non-sustainable, industrial, socially inequitable agriculture. Monsanto remains one of the largest polluters in the United States. The company was responsible for 5% of the 5.7 billion pounds of toxic chemicals released in to the US environment in 1992

  4. Biotechnology reduces diversity - Biotechnology reduces diversity by promoting certain species over others, so reducing the genetic pool even further. We are already massively over-dependent on a handful of food crop varieties. Genuine sustainable agriculture on the other hand promotes multi-cropping and companion planting as the best resistance to pests, viruses and changes in climate. Traditional varieties of subsistence food crops are often more nutritious than the high-yield varieties promoted by the agro-chemical and seed companies.

  5. Biotechnology encourages ëBiopiracyí - Business interests and chemical companies use research into unusual genes from plant, animal and even human genes, as a means of getting control over local genetic resources - once they have manipulated that gene they reinforce control, and earn massive profits, by ëpatentingí. Many developing countries were opposed to this at GATT/World Trade Organisation negotiations and continue to express concern at the way ëtrade related intellectual property rightsí (TRIPS) work in favour of the industrialised countries. The creation of monopoly rights to biodiversity utilisation can have serious implications for erosion of national and community rights to biodiversity and devalue indigenous knowledge systems . Sustainable food and livelihood security in the Third World is likely to be weakened rather than strengthened as a result .

  6. The worldís starving do not make good customers - What evidence is there to show that 20 years of biotechnology research, a billion dollars of expenditure and countless hours of scientific labour has benefited the worlds hungry or resource poor farmers in the South? Science-based biotechnology research has so far tended to benefit the high external input agriculture of the North. Most biotech products have been aimed at consumer niche markets in the North - Calgeneís $25 million ëFlavr Savrí tomatoes for example, whose only advantage over competitors is three - five daysí extra shelf life. A fraction of the money that has been poured into biotechnology research could have a far greater impact if it was invested in strengthening and promoting the huge variety of sustainable and alternative agriculture possibilities that already exist in the world.

Date: Tue, 19 May 1998 21:32:43 -0500

Dear Friend,

GE Foods --- how Shall They Be Labeled For International Trade?

Urgent Codex message from Dr. John Fagan

This question will be one of the central topics debated by the Codex Committee on Food Labeling which will meet in Ottawa, Canada next week (25 through 29 of May).

This will be a critical debate in the process of formulating international regulations on use of genetic engineering in food production.

You can influence the outcome of this debate.

How? By writing to your national delegate to the Codex Committee on Food Labeling.

If you email your letter to the email address of Richard Wolfson , we will hand deliver it to your national delegate at the Ottawa meeting and speak with her/him personally to emphasize the critical nature of this question.

At present, the Executive Committee of Codex has proposed a policy on labeling that is highly favorable to the biotechnology industry, but fails to protect consumers.

This regulation does not require producers to label genetically engineered foods, except in a few minor cases. Even in those cases, the proposed regulation leaves consumers vulnerable to unsafe genetically engineered foods.

The sample letter, below, proposes revisions to the regulation that will strengthen consumer protection and ensure that we all have the ability to choose whether or not we will eat genetically engineered foods.

Please take a few minutes to let your delegate know your concerns on this issue.

If you do not have time to write your own letter to your delegate, please feel free to revise the sample letter to reflect your views, or just sign the sample letter as it is and send it in.

Thank you very much for your rapid attention to this critical issue.


Dr. John Fagan
Professor of Molecular Biology

What Is Codex Alimentarius?

In brief: The Codex Alimentarius Commission has been designated by the World Trade Organization as the body which formulates regulations regarding international trade in food. As such, the regulations carry the weight of international law and profoundly influence the quality, safety, and other characteristics of the foods that we find in our local food markets.

The Codex Committee on Food Labeling (CCFL) focuses on labeling issues, and delegates from all nations that are signatories to GATT attend committee meetings held roughly once per year--usually more than 100 delegations attend.

For the past three years we have been working to monitor the workings of the CCFL and to influence the deliberations of this committee to ensure that the regulations that it formulates reflect the needs and welfare of consumers around the world.

For more information on Codex, go to their web site (search for Codex).

Date: Tue, 19 May 1998 21:33:06 -0500




Sample Letter from Dr. John Fagan

Dear Delegate to the Codex Committee on Food Labeling:

I wish to commend you for accepting the substantial responsibility and hard work associated with ensuring that international regulations on food labeling are formulated in such a way as to protect the welfare of the citizens of our nation.

I am deeply concerned that the Revised Recommendations on Labeling of Foods Obtained through Biotechnology, proposed by the Codex Executive Committee, fail to protect the safety and other interests of the consumer.

I know that you have already proposed certain revisions to the Executive Committee's Recommendations, which would rectify some of the deficiencies of that document, and I commend you for your efforts. However, more fundamental revisions are required, if the safety of consumers, and the integrity of the food production and distribution system is to be preserved. The critical revisions that are required at this time are as follows:

  1. The definition of "food products obtained through biotechnology" should include, not only "foods composed of or containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs)," as stated in the EC's recommendations, but should also include "foods containing derivatives of GMOs and foods derived through the use of GMOs." To neglect mention of these categories would ignore large classes of products which may pose health problems and about which consumers continue to express serious concerns.

  2. The text should contain wording that specifies clearly that "all foods or food inputs that are derived by the use of genetic modification must be labeled as genetically modified," and that "the genes used for genetic modification must be indicated by name and by source organism."

  3. Use of the concept of "substantial equivalence" in determining whether or not a food should be labeled as genetically modified is misleading to consumers. use of this term should be rejected. Even in the technical literature this term is poorly defined, and experience shows that, in the market place, the term "substantially equivalent" is quickly translated into "identical," even in literature of food retailers and manufacturers. The result is that the consumer is mislead. Use of this weak terminology should not be perpetuated.

  4. The consumer's right to know should be explicitly acknowledged as a valid and essential determinant for defining how genetically modified foods should be labeled. To limit discussion to issues of safety and nutrition is far too restrictive. Codex's mandate is to protect the safety of consumers and to promote fair practices in the food trade. In considering the question of fair trade practices it is necessary to take into account all characteristics of food products that consumers consider of significance and value.

    The question of whether or not a food is genetically modified is of relevance from the perspective of fair trade practices, because the vast majority of consumers want to know if the foods that they are buying are genetically modified or not. Scientific surveys of consumer attitudes toward genetically modified foods indicate that consumers want full labeling. For instance a 1996 study, carried out by the biotechnology company Novartis, found that 93% of consumers wanted full labeling of genetically modified foods. In light of this scientific evidence, it is clear that failing to provide consumers with information on this point is misleading, if not deceptive. Given the fact that the vast majority of consumers want this information, the added costs associated with measures necessary to implement such labeling (segregation of genetically modified foods from conventional foods) is justified. In fact market demand is already stimulating the food industry to voluntarily implement such measures (even the American Soybean Association has called for segregation on these grounds).

  5. The Executive Committee's Recommendations should also be revised to acknowledge the safety risks associated with eating genetically modified foods and to provide consumers with the information necessary to enable them to avoid those risks if they so desire. Genetic modification has been shown scientifically to be capable of causing unintended side effects that can cause a genetically modified food to be hazardous to health (allergenic, toxic, or reduced in nutritional value). There is real scientific controversy at this time regarding the magnitude of the risk associated with these foods, but the existence of this risk is not in dispute.

    Unfortunately, limitations inherent in the scientific method make it impossible to design a research program that could investigate all possible risks and therefore that could determine with 100% certainty that a given genetically modified food is safe. Thus, even with safety testing, some risk will inevitably remain. In light of this, many consumers want to take a precautionary approach to genetically modified foods. They wish to avoid them, at least until the risks are better understood. Consequently, there is a clear-cut reason to require that genetically modified foods be labeled: Consumers need such labeling in order to give them the ability to choose to avoid genetically modified foods, if they are unwilling to accept the, yet unquantified, risks associated with them.

In closing, I want to thank you for attending to the points that I have raised above, and thank you, as well, for the important work that you are doing through the Codex Committee on Food Labeling. This work is essential to ensure that we have safe, nourishing food, that is accurately labeled. Such assurances are critical to protecting the welfare of the citizens of our nation.



URGENT: NGO signatures for resolution
Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 11:37:28 -0500

Thank you to all the hundreds of people who sent in letters to be delivered to their Codex representative.

The following resolution will be presented to the international press early next week.

We would like to get as many NGO's, scientists, consumer groups, etc., to sign on to the resolution, so that we have hundreds of organizations supporting this call for mandatory labelling.

If your organization supports this initiative, please send the resolution back to me at ASAP with the name of your organization, country, and your email signature authorizing us to add your signature to the resolution.


RESOLUTION to the Codex Committee on Food Labelling

May 26-29, 1998, Ottawa, Canada

Whereas: Several dozen genetically engineered foods and food products have already been introduced into the international market, and many more such products are being developed;

Whereas: These products are created when foreign genes from animals, plants, bacteria, and viruses are spliced into our food, resulting in unpredictable, permanent changes in the nature of our food;

Whereas: There are no long-term studies to prove the safety of genetically engineered foods, even though changing the fundamental genetic make-up of a food could result in new toxins, allergies, or other harmful effects that may not be discovered for years;

Whereas: Genetically engineered organisms can upset the delicate balance of our ecosystem, such as by creating new, unpredicted species, which can endanger wildlife, out-compete natural species, and alter essential ecological relationships between plants and animals;

Whereas: Consumers who observe specific dietary restrictions for ethical, religious, or other reasons may wish to avoid foods engineered with foreign genes from animals, bacteria, viruses, or other species;

Whereas: Consumers have no way of identifying which food or food products have been genetically engineered as there is currently no general requirement that genetically engineered foods and food products be labelled;

Whereas: Consumers can make an informed choice regarding the consumption and use of these foods and food products only if regulations are enacted requiring labelling of all genetically engineered foods and food products offered for sale.

Whereas: Surveys taken in many countries, including Canada, USA, Australia, and in Europe, have consistently shown that a vast majority of consumers want genetically engineered food products labelled;

Therefore: We call upon the Codex Committee on Food Labelling to enact standards requiring mandatory labelling of all genetically engineered foods and food products offered for sale.

We further urge Codex that this requirement of mandatory labelling extends both to foods containing genetically modified organisms and foods produced by genetically modified organisms, which may not themselves contain genetically modified organisms.



Thanks to Jim McNulty at for posting these articles:

Researchers Describe Their Engineered Cloned Calves

May 22, 1998

WASHINGTON, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation : Researchers who cloned the first genetically engineered calves described their work on Thursday and said they hoped it would lead to the production of whole herds of designer animals.

Jose Cibelli and James Robl of the University of Massachusetts and colleagues said the three Holstein calves were born last January at a Texas ranch operated by Ultimate Genetics.

Only three of the 28 cloned embryos they made survived, but they said they believed their technique had better commercial potential than the method used to produce Dolly the sheep, the first and still the only mammal to have been cloned from an adult cell. ...

Only 28 embryos grew and just three of the 28 embryos they grew survived. But the researchers said these three calves, whose birth was reported in January, were healthy.

Some of the fetuses were abnormal and died. One was oversized -- a documented side-effect of laboratory-conceived animals. One calf died of abnormalities after birth.

Kanematsu To Certify Food As Non-Genetically Engineered

May 22, 1998

Nikkei English News via NewsEdge Corporation : TOKYO (Nikkei)--Kanematsu Corp. (8020) will start a service in June certifying that food products have not been genetically engineered. The service, the first of its kind in the world, will be offered in cooperation with U.S. organizations including Farm Verified Organic, which certifies foods as organic.

The trading house will allow certified food producers to indicate that their products have not been genetically altered. The service is in response to growing concern among consumers over genetically-modified foods.

Message from Consumers International re upcoming Codex Alimentarius meeting in Ottawa May 25-29

Message to Codex Alimentarius


Latest News - updated 13 May 1998
* Labelling of Genetically Engineered Foods
* Not-So-Golden Jubilee
* Eastern Europe Programme

Labelling of Genetically Engineered Food As an increasing amount of genetically engineered food products make their way onto supermarket shelves, consumers are becoming more and more concerned about what exactly is in the food they buy. But there are no rules requiring manufacturers to label all such food.

Consumers International, along with other consumer organisations around the world, are hard at work lobbying the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the international body that sets food standards, to ensure that standards are passed that guarantee consumers can make informed choices.

Use your voice, DEMAND A CHOICE! On 25-29 May, the Codex Committee on Food Labelling will meet in Ottawa, Canada to discuss setting standards on labelling of genetically modified food. The major concern is that Codex will only require that food products containing genetically engineered organisms be labelled if "an adequate analysis demonstrates that they that they differ from equivalent conventional foods."

Consumers International finds this statement totally unacceptable, and believes ALL genetically engineered foods should be labelled, whether or not a difference from equivalent conventional products can be adequately demonstrated by analysis.

Consumers representatives from around the world will attend the Codex meeting in an effort to get the consumer side heard. To read more or become a part of the Codex campaign please visit Consumers Internationals new web site at The site also allows you to send a message to Codex supporting Consumers International's call to label all genetically modified foods.

Thanks to jim mcnulty for forwarding the following book review:

Genetic Engineering -- Dream or Nightmare

The Brave New World of Bad Science and Big Business

by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, May 18, 1998

SAN FRANCISCO, May 15 /PRNewswire/ via NewsEdge Corporation -- Genetic engineering is in the media, in the movies and in some of our worst nightmares. Now, in a timely and prophetic work, distinguished genetic scientist Dr. Mae-Wan Ho gives us the scientific facts as she examines the inherent hazards of genetic engineering biotechnology, and the implications of the intimate involvement of genetic science with big corporate business.

Seeking not to discredit responsible scientists, Dr. Ho deconstructs many of the myths that have been built up about genetic engineering as she warns about its dangers:

This authoritative yet easily accessible book is a clarion class for public involvement and independent review of the risk and hazards involved in genetic engineering before it is too late.

The book contains chapter summaries and bibliography, extensive reference section and glossary.

NAPRA Review has said the following in praise of Genetic Engineering: " ...Dr. Ho has positions (herself) at the heart of both the new holistic science and the international movement to confront the recklessness of the biotechnology industry. This authoritative and profoundly important book explains the science, what has gone wrong and what needs to be done."

SOURCE Strictly Book Promotionss, 415-626-2665, or fax, 415-431-4425, or

Thanks to Dr. Ron Epstein for posting the following two articles

Holstein Calves Cloned From Cells, Scientists Report

By GINA KOLATA, © Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company, May 23, 1998

Nearly 15 months after the publication of the landmark scientific paper announcing the creation of Dolly the sheep, the first paper has appeared extending cloning to another species. This time the clones are Holstein calves, created from genetically engineered fetal cells.

The result is not another Dolly, because Dolly was made from an udder cell of an adult animal. The new feat, cloning from fetal calf cells, is easier because the younger the animal, the easier it is to clone its cells. But it has great practical importance, experts said. It means that scientists can slash the time to make a genetically engineered calf from three years, with current methods, to nine months, with cloning.

For companies like Advanced Cell Technology Inc., of Worcester, Mass., which made the clones, it now becomes much more feasible to create genetically engineered animals to produce valuable drugs in their milk or to serve as organ factories for people because their cells are altered to prevent the immune system from attacking them.

"It is amazing how well this apparently works," said Dr. Randall Prather, a cloning expert at the University of Missouri. "I think that people are finally seeing the applications of cloning."

The investigators, Dr. James Robl of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Dr. Steven Stice of Advanced Cell Technology and their colleagues, first announced the cloning of three calves at a scientific meeting in January. Their paper, published Friday in the journal Science, provides additional data.

In an interview, Stice added that the group had now produced four additional live calves from genetically engineered fetal cells.

To make the three calves described in their paper, the investigators grew cells from a 55-day-old male Holstein fetus in the laboratory, and added two innocuous marker genes to the cells. Then they began the tedious cloning process. They slipped 276 genetically altered fetal cells into 276 unfertilized cow eggs whose own genetic material had been removed. Their goal was to have the eggs take up the genes from the fetal cells and use them to direct the development of calves.

After growing the eggs with their new genes for a week in the laboratory, the investigators were left with 33 embryos. They transferred 28 of them to 11 cows that served as surrogate mothers. Four calves were born; one died from a congenital heart defect when it was five days old.

Although Stice and Robl are the first to publish, several other research groups report that they, too, have used cloning to produce genetically engineered calves.

Cloning is still inefficient, Stice said, but it is far better than the conventional method of creating cows with added genes, which involves injecting genes into embryos. Few embryo cells take up the added genes, and even fewer use them.

The researchers said in their paper that 500 cow embryos would have to be injected with genes and transferred to surrogate cow mothers to produce one genetically engineered calf. In contrast, they said, with cloning, they transferred nine embryos, on average, to four cows to get one live, genetically altered calf.

Moreover, the investigators noted, the gene injection method requires two generations to produce an animal that has the added gene in every cell. This is because genetically altered cells end up peppered throughout the animal. To get an animal that has the gene in all of its cells, scientists must breed animals made from the genetically engineered embryos, looking for offspring of females that have the gene in their egg cells or males that have it in their sperm. Cloning, in contrast, accomplishes this goal in a single generation.

Robl and Stice also addressed a puzzling question: Is a cloned animal the age of the cell from which it was created or is a clone its own chronological age?

The fetal cells used for cloning had grown and divided in the laboratory for so long that they were near death from old age. Yet, those cells still produced cloned calves that were as young as calves are supposed to be.

If the cells being cloned had not started their life spans anew, the calves would have died because their cells would have given out from old age, Stice said. In a separate experiment, the investigators took the aged fetal cells that had grown in the laboratory and started to clone them. Then they took the resulting fetuses and studied their cells. The cells had the life spans expected of normal fetal cells, Stice reported. But one question lingers: When will another Dolly -- a clone of something older than a fetal or embryo cell -- be born?

Last August, Robl and Stice announced that they had cows that were pregnant with fetuses cloned from adult cells. But, Robl said, none of their five fetuses survived beyond 50 days of pregnancy.

Researchers at Infigen Inc., in DeForest, Wis., announced that they, too, had cows pregnant with fetuses cloned from adults. Dale Schwartz, the company's president and chief executive, declined to say what became of those fetuses.

Dr. Jean-Paul Renard, the research director of France's national agricultural research center in Jouy-en-Josas, says he has a cow pregnant with a fetus cloned from the cells of a 2-week-old calf.

"This cow is expected to deliver during the summer," Renard said in a telephone interview.

Cloning experts said the pace of the research was actually quite rapid.

Cloning, Prather said, "is not a trivial matter." Scientists are still at the earliest stages, he added, trying to figure out how to make it more likely to succeed.

There are also practical considerations, like timing the experiments exactly so the surrogate mothers are ready for the embryos, and then losing months if a pregnancy does not go to term. "You start lining up cattle and trying to get them to come into heat," Robl said. "Cows only cycle every 21 days, and their gestation period is nine months."

Stice echoed these remarks, saying: "These are long and extended experiments. And if we lose pregnancies at 60 or 70 days, it means we have to start all over again."

rBGH: Reporters Who Say They Were Silenced by TV Station Post Web Site (NYT)

By LISA NAPOLI, © Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company

In television parlance, May is traditionally "sweeps" month, the time when stations air ratings-boosting series on sensational or controversial topics. For example, this week in Tampa, viewers who tuned in to the Fox affiliate, WTVT-TV, saw a three-part series about a much-debated hormone that stimulates milk production in cows.

But on a Web site maintained by two former investigative reporters from the station, a different take on the bovine growth hormone (BGH) is available -- the story they say the station wouldn't let them tell. The site, created by Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, features video clips the two reporters shot for their segment, as well as dozens of legal documents -- all evidence in a suit they've filed against the station.

Ironically, the Web site is allowing the reporting team to reach an audience that's geographically broader than the one available to them over the airwaves.

"Last I heard we'd gotten requests from 30 different countries," said Akre, noting that the inquiries are coming from individuals ranging from environmentalists to reporters. "The thing I find so ironic about that is we did this story for a local TV station and now people in Botswana and Finland are seeing it."

Viewers in Tampa didn't see the story, however. Wilson and Akre were released from their contracts after a nearly year-long sparring match with station management, during which they said they were asked to rewrite the story more than 70 times. They said they were even told to "deliberately mislead" viewers by Fox management and lawyers.

The internal dispute began after the maker of the hormone, Monsanto, sent a threatening letter to Roger Ailes, the president of Fox News. BGH, commercially known as Posilac, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1993, but has been linked to cancer in several studies, and has been banned in Europe.

Akre and Wilson's report, had it aired, would have said Florida dairymen were secretly injecting the hormone into cows after promising not to sell milk from cows treated with BGH.

On April 2, the reporters filed a lawsuit charging the station with violating the state's whistleblower act for firing them for refusing to alter their reports in ways they said were misleading. That day, they also launched the Web site, which contains dozens of pages of documents -- from their employment agreements and correspondence from Monsanto, to the scripts they wrote and the rewrites done at the station's behest.

For reporters who want to pick up the BGH story, Akre and Wilson provide a list of all their sources, as well as their phone numbers.

"We went to the Web because the Web was the best place to put the story out in full detail," Wilson said. "It was essentially a way we could share the story with everyone around the world, everyone in Tampa Bay and throughout the country, all of the evidence and backup documents, and audio and video of the exact story. You don't have to walk to the courthouse in Tampa. Every desktop is like a courthouse."

But Fox executives said what's on trial is an employment dispute -- not censorship. Dave Boylan, vice president and general manager of WTVT-TV, said the Web site is a matter between disgruntled employees and the station. They were not, he said, released because of the story.

"They're basically suing us for not carrying their story," Boylan said. "They've said they were let go because of their strong editorial position. It's fairly amazing, that one minute you're sitting in a story meeting, and your story is not approved, and the next call you make is to your attorney."

Boylan points to this week's series, and a recent talk show interview with the author of a book that is critical of BGH, as evidence that the station isn't avoiding the topic. Akre and Wilson suggest that the reports were rushed to air as a public relations move.

A Monsanto spokesman, Gary Barton, said the company is accustomed to criticism in public forums, and didn't intend to silence the reports. Fairness was all they were after, he said. As a chemical producer, Monsanto is no stranger to criticism, and Barton said the Web is a place where environmentalists often express their views. But he said he's troubled by the way people fail to distinguish fact from advocacy on the Internet.

"It raises a lot of new issues," he said. "We're in the process ourselves of thinking how you counter this kind of thing, not just Jane and Steve's Web site. The burden shifts for readers on the Internet. People need to learn to be skeptical, be it a trade association or activist group or Jane and Steve. They have to read things with a certain eye and look and evaluate different sources of information."

Everyone involved says what's at stake are First Amendment rights -- although for different reasons. Monsanto says all it wants is fair and balanced reporting. The reporters say they were unjustly silenced as a concession to corporate influence. The station says it is under fire for "being cautious."

All agree that because of the Web, the story is getting wider play than it probably would have in the medium for which it was intended. Journalism mailing lists, as well as environmental forums, are driving traffic to the site by the thousands, the reporters said.

"If we had run our original story, maybe twenty thousand people on the six o'clock news would have seen it," Akre said. "It would have been pretty limited. By firing us and making such an issue of this, more people know about it."

Related Sites Following are links to the external Web sites mentioned in this article. These sites are not part of The New York Times on the Web, and The Times has no control over their content or availability. Lisa Napoli at welcomes your comments and suggestions.

Forwarded from Allsorts , May 20 news

U.S. warns EU of big trade row over genetic corn

GENEVA, May 19 (Reuters) - The United States warned the European Union on Tuesday of serious trade repercussions if Brussels did not fulfill an agreement to allow imports of three types of genetically modified maize or corn.

Blaming France for delays on improving the imports, U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky told a news conference: "This is very serious and threatens a very substantial trade row if these corn varieties are not allowed to be marketed fully."

EU ministers agreed in April to allow the marketing of three strains of high-yielding maize developed with genetic methods that have been the target of a protest campaign by ecologists.

Varieties concerned were developed by U.S. biotechnology giant Monsanto , Swiss drugs firm Novartis and German group AgrEvo, a joint venture between Hoechst AG and Schering .

Barshefsky accused France of holding up implementation of the EU decision --causing all U.S. maize exports to the 15-nation EU being blocked at a cost this year of $220 million. French officials were not immediately available for comment.

The U.S. is the world's largest exporter of corn and so far the only major area to use the new varieties. But while the row goes on, it has seen a system of preferential corn sales to Spain and Portugal effective blocked because of legal problems. Europeans say it is legally risky to import any U.S. corn while the rules about gene crops remain unclear since ordinary and lab-developed corn look alike. The trade to southern Europe has been going to farmers in Argentina and eastern European instead. REUTERS


Paris to decide on gene maize imports after debate


PARIS, May 19 (Reuters) France will await the outcome of a public debate on genetically engineered crops in June before making a decision on whether to approve the imports of new strains of genetically modified maize, a farm ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.

France, which has already cleared the import and production of a maize strain developed by Swiss drug group Novartis, will hold a public debate on gene crops on June 20-21.

"Everything is on hold since we approved the Novartis strain. There will not be any authorisations for new varieties before we hold the public debate," the spokesman said. Earlier, the United States, the world's largest corn exporter, accused France of holding up implementation of a European Union decision to approve three new types of genetically modified maize.

Speaking at a news conference in Geneva, U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky warned the EU of serious trade repercussions if Brussels did not fulfill an agreement to allow imports of the new maize strains.

EU ministers agreed in April to allow the marketing of three maize varieties developped by U.S. biotechnology giant Monsanto, Novartis and German group AgrEvo.

But France has yet to approve the new strains.

The farm ministry spokesman also said he was surprised that the United States was singling out France in the dispute over U.S. corn shipments to the European Union.

Some EU countries held more radical views than France, he said, citing Austria, which has imposed a domestic ban on gene- maize imports in defiance of EU law.

"One wonders why the United States is hitting on France," he said. A farm ministry official familiar with gene-crops issues also said the United States had a responsibility in the current situation because it did not distinguish between the five different varieties of genetically modified corn it markets.

Last November, when France authorised its farmers to grow gene maize developed by Novartis, it said it would not clear the production or marketing of other crops pending further debate and a public debate on gene issues.

France, the EU's largest maize producer, is under pressure from a coalition of environment groups and consumers to reverse its November decision.

Opponents, who say gene techniques may be a risk to human health and the environment, have called for a French moratorium on genetically modified crops.

But supporters of the new technology say it will bring down production costs and allow European farmers to compete with farmers in countries like the United States where gene-crops have long been cleared.

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