Genetically Manipulated Food News

14 July 98

Table of Contents

Alert on gene crop threat to wildlife
Genetically altered crops 'could wipe out farmland birds
Relationship Between Government Advisers And Biotech Industry
GE Industrie's Advertising And Lobbying
Uniformity call on GM regulations.
False claims of GE research from US Universities
Clients still shun animal test firm.
Law backs whistle blowing while you work.
Monsanto and American Home Products Merger
Codex Report: No International GE Food Labelling
Migrane drug Maxalt (rizatriptam bensoate)
Brit crop experts linked to biotech firms
The Review Of Biotechnology

Back to Index


Thanks to MichaelP papadop@peak.org for posting this:

Alert on gene crop threat to wildlife

By Nick Nuttall, Environment Correspondent, London Times July 8 1998

THE Government's wildlife advisers have called for a five-year ban on the commercial growing of some genetically modified crops.

English Nature said that the herbicide-resistant crops could be "the final blow" for such species as the corn bunting and linnet because the seeds and insects on which they feed could be wiped out.

The fear is that although the crops will be able to withstand herbicides, the weeds around them that are part of the foodchain for insects and birds will be eliminated.


Genetically altered crops 'could wipe out farmland birds'

By John Vidal : The Guardian Wed July 8th 98

Some of the country's most treasured birds and wildlife could be wiped out if genetically modified (GM) crops are grown without more testing, nature conservation said yesterday. The skylark, the linnet and the corn bunting- all of which live on farmland could be at particular risk, they say.

Calling for a three year moratorium on the commercial growing of the controversial crops, English Nature scientists called for changes in the rules governing their planting, until more tests have been done on their ecological effects.


Relationship Between Government Advisers And Biotech Industry

By Louise Jury, London INDEPENDENT July 8, 1998

The government's advisers on genetically engineered crops should be sacked because too many have close links to the biotech industry, environmentalists said yesterday.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) said that 8 of the 13-strong Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (Acre) have ties with companies or organisations involved in carrying out crop trials or other genetic engineering research.


Posted from the gentech@data.free.de news group

GE Industrie's Advertising And Lobbying

Digger Still Plays Dirty.

by Nick Cohen. London Observer, 5. 7. 98.

Sweet and reasonable corporate voices were muttering in all the right ears last week. Editors were squared in private meetings and politicians lobbied at hearings in the House of Lords. Advertising agencies followed up the charming of opinion-formers with a #1 million campaign to convince the nation that genetically-engineered food presented no threat whatsoever to public health.

At first sight, the persuaders from the American biotechnology conglomerate, Monsanto, appeared to have an unenviable task. Its seeds are designed to maximise its profits. They have had genes spliced in which allow crops to tolerate herbicides that are made, of course, by Monsanto. The tinkering with plants' genetic code will allow farmers to spray poisons on their fields without risking the destruction of their crops.

Sober scientists warn of the danger that genes will jump from the crops into weeds, creating new species of superweeds with a resistance to herbicides. They talk of genetically manipulated organisms running amok in ecosystems which cannot handle them, like mink in the Norfolk Broads, and worry about how crops injected with the genes of bacteria, viruses, fish and insects will affect the 8% of children who cannot keep their dinner down because they are allergic to industrial food. But, apart from a heated meeting at the Guardian, the company met little resistance.

The Economist reinforced its reputation as the tired voice of conventional wisdom when it made a defence of the gene manipulators last week's lead item. Those who opposed agribusiness were Luddites, it thundered. Monsanto itself sounded like an unprecedentedly democratic and fair-minded conglomerate.

In advertisements in the national press, the firm promised to supply readers with the addresses of vocal green critics of the food industry. it was rare for a company to give free publicity to its opponents, Monsanto boasted, "but we believe that food is so fundamentally important, everyone should know all they want to about it."

The claim that this was an open, transparent company raised hollow laughs on the other side of the Atlantic. The American press is beginning to notice a scandal at a Florida TV station owned by Rupert Murdoch. Two of the station's reporters investigated Monsanto and allege they were bullied, censored and then fired for their impertinence. Their case raises the question of whether media owned by multinationals can hhonestly investigate corporate power. The answer, as far as Jane Akre and Steve Wilson are concerned, is no..

The husband and wife team joined Tampa's WTVT station in November 1996. They were reportes with decades of experience, rather than radical young hotheads out to make trouble. Their job was to break news and Akre quickly found what looked like a scoop. Florida's milk was coming from cows fed with a Monsanto hormone called BGH. The hormone is legal in the U$ but was banned in many European countries after suggestions from medical researchers, contested by the company, that it may lead to cancer of the colon in humans.

Florida supermarkets admitted that they had quietly broken a promise not to buy milk from farms that used the hormone. Wilson said: "We found farmers who said the company wasn't properly reporting the drug's adverse effects on animals, a charge Monsanto eventually acknowledged. We also documented how Monsanto was using its legal and political muscle to oppose labelling efforts that would have helped consumers make a choice."

In short, the couple had a good story. WTVT certainly thought so and booked radio ads to promote the investigation. But just before the reports were due to be aired, Monsanto's lawyers contacted the executives of Fox TV, which runs the Florida channel for Murdoch, and complained that the documentaries were inaccurate.

WTVT went through the reports and told Fox managers that they could not fault their journalists' work. Fox disagreed, the programme was pulled and Wilson and Akre were forced to begin an extaordinary process in which the script for the show was rewritten 70 times.

They could not understand what was happening and told David Boylan, a Murdoch manager sent by Fox to Florida, that a valid, well-sourced news story was being stifled. Boylan's reply broke with all the traditions of the Murdoch empire. In a moment of insane candour, he told an unvarnished truth which should be framed and stuck on the top of every television set. "We paid $3 billion for these television stations," he snapped. "We'll decide what the news is. NEWS IS WHAT WE SAY IT IS."

How nicely put. According to documents supporting a court case the two reporters are bringing abainst Fox, Murdoch's people insisted the reporters say that "the public can be confident that milk from BGH-treated cows is safe." Monsanto told Fox that it had studies to support the assertation. The reporters said the studies were of cows, not humans. They claim the management replied with: "That's what Monsanto want, put it in." The couple refused, saying they would not broadcast inaccurate reports. At one point, according to their affidavit, the journalists were offered "large cash settlements" on condition they never talked about the hormone or how Fox handled news. They refused, and were ordered to change their script again and again.

None of the scores of rewrites pleased Murdoch's men. The couple were locked out of their offices at one point. After a year of fighting Fox, they were fired in December 1997. Their report was never broadcast. Fox accuses its journalists of "having delusions of grandeur" and being "advocates" for consumers. But the hacks say, in their evidence to what promises to be the first court case to investigate the workings of news organisations, the management could not point to a single factual error in their documentaries.

Murdoch owns, among many, many other companies, Actmedia, a PR firm. Monsanto is one of its clients. But Akre and Wilson do not believe that they were knifed simply to avoid upsetting one of the old brute's customers. They see the censorship as the natural consequence of the domination of communications by very right-wing businesses whose owners have more in common with the perpetrators of scandals than their audience.

"We set out to tell the truth about a giant chemical company", said Wilson. "That used to be something reporters won awards for. As we've learnt the hard way, it's something you can be fired for these days".


Thanks to: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty) for posting this

Uniformity call on GM regulations.

Farmer's Guardian July 3rd 98.

Biotech company Monsanto has hit out against EU bureaucracy, warning that differences between EU and US regulations for genetically modified crops could fuel tensions between the two.

Attacking the recent EU agreement on GM food labelling, Monsanto told a House of Lords Committee that the E/U requirement to label 'without any safety or scientific basis, risks creating barriers between international trade in foodstuffs'.

In it's evidence to the Lords inquiry into regulation of GM crops, the company called for a more harmonised international approach. This was one of the major challenges facing the EU and the industry, it claimed that differences in the EU and US GM approval process had already led to trade tensions.

"The results of these differences, particularly the delays and the lack of predictability of the EU process has been interference with global trade and agriculture and food products", said the company's representatives.

So far, the EU had issued only one product approval, in 1998, for the unrestricted domestic production of a GM crop and one for import from third countries. Other GM products have been delayed in the approval pipeline.

"Much of the lack of crop introduction and therefore lack of benefits can be laid at the door of the slow regulatory process.

"There is no reason that the EU should be any slower in coming to the same scientific conclusions from very simalier data packages as regulatory authorities elsewhere in the world", they said.

GM crops have been cleared for marketing and production in the US, Canada, and Argentina since 1995. And US data obtained by the company over 19million acres in 1997 showed yield benefits of between 5 and 10 per cent for GM crops. Cost benefits came from reduced chemical use, energy savings in farm and crop maintenance, and lower farm equipment costs, the company claimed.

Representatives argued that the introduction of GM technology was even more important to EU farmers than those elsewhere because of the structure of E/U agriculture, and the CAP and it's relationship to GATT.

The key to maintaining farm income and profitability in the face of lower subsidies lay in the reduced production costs and increased farm efficiency and the introduction og GM crops could help achieve this the company claimed.

The EU had already missed four years in the important initial stages ofGM crop production within the competitive global agriculture market, and had at the same time missed out on the domestic oppurtunities Gm technologies had brought, including improved enviromental performance, increased sustainability, lower production costs and greater oppurtunities for farmers" the Lord's commmitty was told.

"The other world areas with whom the EU has difficulty have already adopted this approach (GM technology), which means that it is urgent that the EU also does this in order that it remains competative and preserves it's position in open world markets," they warned.


Date: 7 Jul 1998 08:38:00 -0500
From: jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

False claims of GE research from US Universities

Prof. Joe Cummins e-mail: jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

Biotechnology Snake Oil Hucksters

There have been a number of communications on the false claims of genetic engineers from a large US university that the spread of synthetic or modified genes in crops can be prevented by putting the genes into chloroplast chromosomes which are not spread in pollen. The Journal Nature Biotechnology published the false claims in April then published letters from me and from biotechnology researchers, who pointed out that published scientific literature showed that the primary assumption of, no pollen transfer of chloroplast genes, was not true.

In the June issue of Nature Biotechnology the researchers making the false claims responded, not with replies to the published evidence, but with the charge that revealing the literature was false and irresponsible that creates panic among the public and sets the clock back on evolving new concepts and technologies.

The researchers did not acknowledge that their claims were wrong but attacked those who stated the scientific facts as published. Those researchers failed to mention that patents and contracts were a golden goal and if USDA joined them they could gull scores of gullible investors. Certainly, genetic engineering has sunk to a new low, academic geneticists have learned to behave like cloned sheep , being herded and unwilling to question false science being used to sell stock in exploiting companies so long as such companies are large powerful and best of all underwritten by USDA.


Date: 7 Jul 1998 10:44:24 -0500
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

Clients still shun animal test firm.

By Sarah Ryle. The Observer (UK) 5th July

Leading pharmacuetical companies are still shunning controversial drug research gruop Huntington Life Sciences, even though they now have Home Office approval.

Glaxo Welcome and Zeneca are among firms that have written to animal rights campaigners at the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection explaining why they will not give research work to the Cambridge based company the Observer has learned.

A damning TV documentary last year showed cruelty to animals in Huntigtons's care. The chaneel four film showed dogs being punched and shaken. The Home Office intervened and in JUly last year the firm had to suspend it's shares for three months.

Many pharmecuetical companies respoded bty witholding new work. They have had nearly eight months since Huntingdon made improvements to the way it looks after animals and was granted a new Home Office certificate.

Glaxo Wellcome, the UK's biggest such firm told the campaigners "We had worked with them (Huntingdon) before the documentary and we were surprised by the programme, which was horrific. We have not placed any contracts there since.

Helthcare company Smith and Nephew wrote: HLS has been removed from our suppliers list, and we have no plans to renew contact with them in the future.'

Zeneca, which specialises in anti-cancer treatments, wrote that it 'will not be placing new contracts with HLS until it is reasssured that actions have been taken and procedures put in place to ensure the proper treatment of animals'.

However a spokesperson for Zeneca confirmed on Friday that it intends to carry out an audit at Huntington in the Autumn and might consider renewing the relationship.

Glaxo added that although it has no business links with the company would not rule out working with the company again.

Smith Kline Beecham which said in July after the home Office investigation that the company was completely dented' and that it would not be giving them any further work had done an about turn.


Date: 7 Jul 1998 10:45:12 -0500
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

Law backs whistle blowing while you work.

By Sarah Ryle : The Observer 5th July 98.

Employees should no longer fear speaking out about bad practice writes

The personal night mare confronted by many whistle blowers was demonstrated graphically in committee room 15 in the House of Commons last Wednesday evening.

Dr Andrew Millar, the sacked head of clinical research at British Biotech broke down in tears after a grilling by a committee of MP's.

Afterwards, Millar admitted that when the chairman had asked him directly about his professional future, it had touched a raw nerve.

By contrast, he had visibly relished the oppurtunity to both to reject sugestions that he was a disgruntl former employee and to defend his allegations that British Biotech over hyped the success of it's drug developments.

Conservative MP Dr Michael Clark asked the question that triggered his tears: 'Have you enhanced your reputation, or damaged it? Would you do the same again?

Millar told the MP's that only they could judge his reputation, but he deeply regretted being placed in the position were he had to act as he did.But he did say after the hearing: 'in fact my reputation has been badly damaged.'

It is a pity for Millar that the whistle blowers Bill (Public interest disclosures bill)) which recieved Royal assent last Thursday will not come into force until Jan 99. It is revolutionary.


Date: 7 Jul 1998 11:53:42 -0500
From: betty martini bettym19@mindspring.com

Monsanto and American Home Products Merger

At 09:38 AM 7/7/98 -0400, Mary Reiff Austin, TX wrote:

I am not a huge fan of conspiracy theories, but I find the timing of actions currently being taken in the corporate world to be at least of interest to those of us interested in consumer safety versus corporate responsibility.

Monsanto was "sold" to American Home Products (AHP) recenly. The new Board of Directors will be comprised of eleven members of each company's current Board. AHP will be, from what I gather, pouring cash into Monsanto projects while Monsanto researchers will share their knowledge of gnetically- engineered, pesticide-resistant crops with AHP. Usually when a company is sold, the old guard packs up its' briefcases and goes home - but not Monsanto. (Robert Shapiro is co-Chairman of the combined board, and the annoncement of the sale included the information that no jobs were to be cut in the near future)

Her's what I think has happened: Monsanto has managed to sell its not-so- squeaky-clean name and future liability costs to AHP. What better strategy for a purveyor of poisons to hide behind than a name including the words, "American" and "Home"?

Just in the last week, CNN's Financial News Network announced Monsanto's sale of it's pesticide/herbicide division. The company has retained it's residential pesticide line (RoundUp).

And finally, Pepsi has announced plans to sell a new, one-calorie soft drink called, "Pepsi One", sweetened with a just-FDA-approved product called "Sunett". According to a Bloomberg wire report from June 30, 1998, "Hoechst's Sunett, also known as acesulfame-potassium or Ace- K, is sold in the U.S. for use in certain foods and tabletop sweeteners. Now, though, Sunett can compete in the $54 billion carbonated soft drink market with entries such as Johnson & Johnson's Sucralose and Monsanto Co.'s Nutrasweet." Hoechst is an international chemical and pharmaceutical company based in Germany.

Another Bloomberg report dated the same day would suggest PepsiCo is gambling on the questionable safety and negative word-of-mouth growing around spartame (Nutrasweet, Equal):

"Diet Pepsi will co-exist alongside Pepsi One as part of a strategy to improve Pepsi's competitive position, according to a letter to Pepsi's bottlers from Phil Marineau, chief executive of its domestic-soda operations.

Diet Pepsi's role will be to insulate its large and very loyal core-user base, while Pepsi One will drive category growth and share," said Marineau.

In an interview, Marineau said he expected Diet Pepsi drinkers to try Pepsi One. He declined to discuss the company's sales goals for the new drink.

It's much better to cannibalize your own brands than have somebody else do it," said Marineau." (emphasis mine - MR)

What does it all mean? By positioning Pepsi One to be on store shelves when lawsuits against Monsanto (makers of Nutrasweet and Equal) begin to make news and the FDA is pressured by the public into pulling aspartame products until more conclusive tests on the long-term effects on humans, PepsiCo has rolled the dice in a very big money crap shoot.

The FDA has not yet ordered such tests, despite growing consumer complaints to the agency of adverse reactions linked to aspartame by users of the artificial sweetener. Some side effects reported to the FDA are memory loss, seizures, visual disturbances, numbness of the extremities, and symptoms mimicking autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Graves' Disease and lupus.

It will be interesting to see how the sweetener and soda wars play themselves out. It appears a shake-up is on the horizon, and I predict American Home Products and Coca-Cola will be the big losers - AHP will share in the liabilty of personal or even class-action lawsuits against Monsanto for individuals damaged by aspartame (unless they have had the foresight to include non- liability as part of the terms of sale), and Coca Cola (who is already using Ace-K sweeteners in products sold in other countries), who will have to play "catch-up" when the Nutrasweet hits the fan.

I suspect the FDA is stalling on taking actions to withdraw its approval of aspartame because of the sheer magnitude of the problem. Aspartame is in thousands of products, and to recall it now would shake even further the reputation of an agency already plagued by its hasty approval and subsequent withdrawal of other chemicals such as Rezulin, Phen-Fen and saccharin (and now safety questions of the anti-impotence drug Viagra). To take action to eliminate aspartame from every segment of the American food supply will take a great deal of creativity and courage. Let's hope the FDA has plenty of both

Mary Reiff
Austin, TX

Dear Mary:

This is perfect logic. I said about the same thing on a radio program last night and discussed the cola wars. I do not believe that American Home Products knows it is being used to bail out Monsanto financially and to get rid of their bad name.

Monsanto is the planet's premier poison producer, mother of Toundup, rBGH, parathion, agent orange, 2,4,5-T, pentachlorophenol which Dr. Roberts has written about, PCBs, genetic frankenfoods and the carcinogenic dioxins now in every fish in the sea.

And yesterday we heard about Merck who has been on Dave's web site over and over again got approved Maxalt-MLT, a drug to treat migraines with aspartame. Headache is the #1 complaint on the FDA report, and so the FDA knowns it. So these hundreds of thousands of people suffering from headaches from aspartame, go to their doctor and get this new drug with the very product that gave them the problem. And the drugs are going to interact and there will probably be deaths like with FenPhen and Redux and the last heart drug they took off the market.

Merck may now realize what they have done but the FDA knew when they approved Maxalt to expect serious problems. This irresponsibility is beyond any comprehension. I said yesterday they ought to call the FDA the Federal Death Association.

I'll put this on some lists and maybe it will get back to American Home Products who still has time to bail out of this merger which can give them the greatest liability they have ever had, the bad name of a chemical manufacturer responsible for sick and death the world over.

Regards,

Betty

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Date: 8 Jul 1998 03:52:16 -0500
From: acfgenet@peg.apc.org (Bob Phelps)

Codex Report: No International GE Food Labelling

Sections:
Abstract
Labelling of Foods Obtained through Biotechnology (Agenda Item 8)
Minimal Labelling
Moderate Labelling
Mandatory and Comprehensive Labelling
Uncommitted Countries
Conclusion

CODEX REPORT
International GE Food Labelling Far From Resolved

Abstract

No international agreement is in sight on whether or not to label genetically engineered foods. The USA's 'no labelling' position, based on the phony concept of 'substantial equivalence', was backed by only five other countries at the Codex Meeting. Any threat to use WTO rules to enforce such a position is therefore hollow posturing.

We urge all national governments to give the overwhelming majority of citizens what they want - the full and truthful labelling of engineered foods. Such foods have no history of safe use and their long term impacts are unknown.

Bob Phelps

___________________________________________

Report of the Codex Alimentarius Committee on Food Labelling
26th Session held in Ottawa (Canada) 25-29 May 1998

by Dr. Sri Ram Khanna, VOICE, New Delhi, India

Labelling of Foods Obtained through Biotechnology (Agenda Item 8)

An international standard on the labelling of genetically engineered foods came no closer at this meeting. There has been no consensus on the 'no-labelling' proposals advanced at the past four annual meetings, so the process has been put back to step 3 (the beginning) for the 1999 consultation.

GE food labelling was the most contentious debate during the Labelling Committee Meeting. As no other Codex (international food standard) Committees discuss the genetic engineering of food, the deep concerns of the public interest observers and the general public, all focussed on this discussion.

There were three main positions on labelling GE foods:

The three different positions, based on discussions at the meeting, were:

Minimal Labelling

Canada wanted only 'essential information' on labels and labelling only when substantial changes relating to nutrition, composition etc. are present in food. The USA delegation elaborated this position based on the Doctrine of Substantial Equivalence (see Annex 22), where labelling would be necessary only if the food was not substantially equivalent to a conventional food based on composition, nutritional differences, toxicity, new factors like allergens, and intended use.

Brazil advocated the US position very aggressively. Influential members of the biotechnology industry were on the Brazilian delegation, including a Monsanto employee. Other supporters of this position were Australia, New Zealand, and Peru. Mexico also appeared close to the US position but wanted to go on with further discussion.

Only seven countries spoke in favour of the Doctrine of Substantial Equivalence proposed by USA. Brazil's speech drew applause from all the industry interests present. (There were over a dozen observer delegations from international NGOs with industry/business interests.) Several government delegations included industry representatives, whose sympathies on this agenda item lay with the US position. They seem to fear that labelling will panic consumers and slow the market if labels are truthful. (Yet 61% of Australians would try GE food to see if it offers benefits, while only 11% would do so if it were not labelled)

To my mind, only these seven countries could be counted in favour of the minimal labelling position.

Observer NGOs in favour of this position included the International Seed Trade Federation (FIS), Confederation Mondiale De L'Industrie de la Sante Animale (COMISA), International Council of Grocery Manufacturers Associations (ICGMA) and the International Federation of Margarine Associations (IFMA).

Moderate Labelling

This was contained in the [alternative proposal] on the last page of Annex 22 which read:

"[All foods that are or contain genetically modified organisms shall be labelled. Foods that are genetically modified organisms but do not contain them shall always be labelled if, natural variations considered, an adequate analysis demonstrates that they differ from equivalent conventional foods.

The presence of any substances that are absent in existing equivalent foods and may have implications for the health of certain sections of the population and/or are the subject of ethical objections shall be indicated in the label."]

The UK led, referring to the discussion inside the EU. The EU position seemed to suggest a middle path, opposed to the US doctrine of Substantial Equivalence, reflected in recent EU regulations on Novel Foods. It favoured safety evaluation prior to market entry and mandatory labelling where the food can have an impact on health, like the presence of allergens and substances not present in conventional foods.

The proposed Codex text was inadequate for the EU. Delegates made several suggestions to reorganise it, including novel foods to be included in the definition, and deletion of the clause on 'substantial changes', even though its own position is based on 'some changes'.

The delegation of France gave detailed reasons why it did not subscribe to the Doctrine of Substantial Equivalence, a concept that they said may be good for safety evaluation but was not relevant for labelling, a key consumer concern. Other delegations to support this proposal were Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Finland, and Spain.

Ten countries appeared to support this proposal and many also endorsed the EU's comments on needed changes. While supporting this alternative proposal, Sweden, Denmark, Holland and Finland also seemed to support the third view, for mandatory and comprehensive labelling.

Mandatory and Comprehensive Labelling

India led, asking for mandatory labels on all GMOs and opposing the Doctrine of Substantial Equivalence. They pointed out that on the one hand, Biotechnology Companies ask for global patents on the grounds that a product was substantially new and an 'innovation' (a prerequisite for patenting) but on the other it was argued that the products were substantially the same. Surely 'substantially equivalent' does not mean the same as 'really equivalent'.

Norway's support for mandatory labelling was also voiced at the last CCFL. Hungary and Switzerland already have mandatory labelling for such foods, while Slovakia and Poland also support mandatory and comprehensive labelling.

Consumers International (CI), a conference observer, rejected substantial equivalence and called for mandatory labelling based on consumers' rights to information, recognised in the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection and several surveys had documented this need. CI said labelling provided information necessary for competitive markets to function optimally, so that consumers could avoid health problems, and to correct or trace the origins of any future ill health. GMOs contained altered proteins which could be potential allergens.

Other NGO observers supporting this position included the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Greenpeace International, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI).

This third position is completely opposed to the US position based on the Doctrine of Substantial Equivalence and differs from the EU position which also advocates labelling only where analysis shows an end product difference from conventional foods. It appears that many Governments are unacquainted with the unanticipated dangers consumers can face from GMO-based foods. Partial analysis based on corporate data, even using the latest science, may not identify key differences from conventional foods.

Uncommitted Countries

Many countries have not yet taken open positions on labelling and may hold the key to what emerges next year at the CCFL. These include 17 delegations present at the 1998 meeting - Argentina, Chile, China, Cuba, Ivory Coast, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, S. Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, South Africa, Thailand, and Uruguay.

Japan rejected the US position and seemed to move closer to mandatory labelling. This is due to domestic public pressure, including several petitions before the Diet and local assemblies, and in a Diet Committee now looking at the matter. The delegation favoured an early decision to help resolve the labelling question in Japan and their written comments tabled at the meeting (See Annex 25a) said they will decide their position after deliberations by the Diet Subcommittee and the Government Advisory Committee on Food Labelling. It seems Japanese public opinion has pushed the Diet Subcommittee to say that GMOs 'should be appropriately labelled as much as possible'.

Conclusion

As a result of this meeting, only those parts of the proposed standard on genetically engineered foods relating to revised definitions of Genetically Manipulated Organisms (GMOs) and to allergens were moved from Step 4 to Step 5. The rest returned to Step 3 (the first step) of the 9 step Codex process, which means it will be several years before this labelling issue could be resolved. The Codex Labelling Committee definitely did not reject the possibility of mandatory labelling as, for the fourth year running, the meeting failed to achieve consensus on the official proposal, based on the minimalist USA position. The possibility of all genetically engineered foods and food products being labelled is very much alive and will come back to the CCFL next year.

New Delhi, June 1998

Dr Sri Ram Khanna, Honorary Managing Trustee, Voluntary Organisation in Interest of Consumer Education (VOICE), F 71 Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi 110024 India

"Voluntary Organisation in Interest of Consumer Education (VOICE) is a Voluntary Consumer Organisation based in New Delhi India. Set up in 1983, it is involved in consumer advocacy, comparative testing, and publication work. It has done extensive work on food standards and publishes a bimonthly "Consumer VOICE". It is a member of Consumers International. Email: "VOICE" srkhanna@giasdl01.vsnl.net.in "

_________________________________________________________

FORWARDED BY:

Bob Phelps
Director Australian GeneEthics Network
c/- ACF 340 Gore Street, Fitzroy. 3065 Australia Tel: (03) 9416.2222 Fax: (03) 9416.0767 {Int Code (613)}
email: acfgenet@peg.apc.org WWW: http://www.peg.apc.org/~acfgenet (under construction)


Date: 8 Jul 1998 11:21:30 -0500
From: JTGardens@aol.com

Migrane drug Maxalt (rizatriptam bensoate)

If I have already posted this, please forgive. Short term memory you know. - -- JT

As you may or may not know, aspartame (NutraSweet) is a dangerous neurotoxin that breaks down into very dangerous substances like formaldehyde and methanol (especially when it gets warmer than about 40 degrees). (For more info see www.dorway.com - great site, all the details.) or let me know and I can send you some stuff about it.

Recently the FDA approved a drug for migranes that is called MAXALT(R) (rizatriptam bensoate) It also come in a sublingual tablet that you dissolve under your tongue.

Guess what? Merck & Co., Inc., who make this stuff, say in their own company Press Release and I quote (emphasis mine), " Each lyophilized orally disintegrating tablet contains the following inactive ingredients: gelatin, mannitol, glycine, ASPARTAME, and peppermint flavor."

They are giving a medicine to people to cure their headaches that actually may CAUSE their headaches. Migrane sufferers, please beware!

Criminy. The insanity is unbelievable.

Sincerely Green,

Jean Thompson, Editor Green Acre News
Iowa City, IA 52240-9385 USA
319/337-7722 JTGardens@aol.com

For a complimentary issue of GAN, send your snail mail address to us. We're an ink reader.

Knowing that aspartame causes headaches and migranes (You can see the EPA's list of 92 known side effects to aspartame at www.dorway.com, which includes headaches, severe headaches, migranes and death, just to name a few), and knowing that the EPA knows it is insane. If you The whole gory story can be found at http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/980630/pa_merck_m_2.html

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Date: 8 Jul 1998 23:54:33 -0500
From: MichaelP papadop@peak.org

Brit crop experts linked to biotech firms

By Louise Jury London INDEPENDENT July 8, 1998

The government's advisers on genetically engineered crops should be sacked because too many have close links to the biotech industry, environmentalists said yesterday.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) said that 8 of the 13-strong Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (Acre) have ties with companies or organisations involved in carrying out crop trials or other genetic engineering research.

Members of Acre are the Government's statutory advisers on allowing genetically modified crops to be planted in the countryside. They have so far passed more than 150 applications without any refusals.

Although panel members do not vote on any application in which they have a personal interest, Adrian Bebb, FoE's food campaigner, said the process was flawed.

"How can people have confidence in the government advisory panel when so many members have close financial links to the biotech industry?"

Three-quarters of the public did not want genetically altered food, Mr Bebb said. Earlier this week English Nature, the Government's wildlife advisers, asked for a moratorium on commercial production of engineered crops. "Yet the Government is still allowing this Frankenstein industry to drive ahead," he said.

FoE called for all members of Acre, including one representing green interests, to be sacked and a new panel appointed.

Among those on the panel are Professor Nigel Poole of Zeneca Plant Science, a biotech company, and Dr David Robinson, a scientist who also advises a seed company.

Dr Philip Dale heads a department that focuses on the genetic engineering of oilseed rape, according to the details compiled by FoE from Acre members' declared interests.

Professor John Beringer, the chairman, is a member of the National Environmental Research Council, which has five test sites of its own. John Macleod heads the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, which is running seed trials. Dr Ingrid Williams works for the Institute of Arable Crop Research, which has three test sites.

Dr Ian Garland is an assistant director of research at PPL Therapeutics, whose work led to the birth of Dolly the cloned sheep, and Professor David Onions is a consultant to a biotech company.

Professor Beringer said: "In 11 years as chairman, I have never once been subject to pressure either from industry or from politicians." He said the research council of which he is a member was carrying out research on the risks of genetic modification. He received no pecuniary advantages.

Professor Poole, an academic scientist before joining Zeneca, said it was insulting to accuse Acre's members of being biased. "There are scientists all the way round the world . all reviewing the same sort of data and coming to the same sort of conclusions," he said.

Science took precedence over commercial interests, he added. "It is a very ethical and hard-working committee which tries to do its best."

A Department of the Environment spokesman said there were no plans to change Acre. All members' interests were made public in its annual report.

Acre's current three-year term ends in June.

- -

Guy Watson, an organic farmer from Devon, is seeking a judicial review at the High Court today over genetically engineered maize being grown next to his farm. He fears there is a risk of cross-pollination, which would jeopardise his land's organic status.

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Date: 8 Jul 1998 23:58:08 -0500
From: jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

The Review Of Biotechnology

July 8, 1998

Prof. Joe Cummins e-mail : jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

Canadian Government Bureaucrats Reply to Comments on Canadian Biotechnology Strategy

Several months ago I submitted comments to a panel of government bureaucrats who were reviewing the Canadian Biotechnology Strategy. The strategy was administered by The Biotechnology Committee which consisted of 18 members of which a dozen were officers in biotechnology companies, the remainder were from universities, law firms and banks.

The committee mainly functions as a lobby to obtain government grants and tax concessions for the multinational chemical companies that are involved in biotechnology. One academic member was also a member of the Atomic Energy Control Board. My comments to the bureaucrats of the panel of bureaucrats was to comment that none of the bureaucrats making up the panel seemed to have expertise in biotechnology (or anything but bureaucratic infighting survival for that matter).

My main comments were, however, to point out that the biotechnology committeeis proposal to provide further tax concessions and grants to biotechnology firms was a terrible idea. Those companies are already overly rich.

On July 8 the panelis reply was forwarded. The panel director replied iThank you for your letter with the comments regarding the Canadian Biotechnology Strategy Renewal process. I appreciate you taking the time provide your viewsi there was more form letter then iYour contribution to the shared vision will assist us in ensuring that biotechnology helps to improve our quality of lifei.

Frankly , the bureaucrats didnit seem the least interested in discussing the lobbying of the biotechnology committee and the absence of risk assessment in highly hazardous research such as the virus problem in Pig to Human transplants. Or for that matter in the numerous issues that have been brought forward in crop technology.

As a final note Canadian bureaucrats are notorious their gift at screwing up important matters. The loss of the Canadian east coast fishery and the near destruction of the west coast fish stock has mainly been the result of evil bureaucrats who dominate spineless politicians. They stood by did nothing to save the fish stocks and hampered or discharged those who promoted rational action. The bureaucrats seldom have expert knowledge in the areas they administrate and they are paid grossly excessive salaries for manipulating their niches. Those bureaucrats are very underhanded and vindictive and prone to pressuring the employers of those with whom they disagree.

_________________________________________________________

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: rwolfson@concentric.net

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