Genetically Manipulated Food News

16 July 98

Table of Contents

Escape of genetically modified organisms 'would be disastrous'
Bees 'witnesses' In Row Over Genetic Food
Genetic Trials Win Crucial Ruling In Court
GPs Back Gene Inquiry
Monsanto Signs Up Third World Leaders For Adverts
Bio-diversity Bill Protects Bureaucrats And Not The Crops
Transgenic Corn Patent
UK: Action and Concern
French Confederation Paysanne Calls for GMO Destruction
USDA: The Final Count: 275,000 Against
Organic Field Crops: instability and an answer
Organic Livestock Standards Under Discussion
Internationaol Guardian: great article on GE (and Monsanto)
Farmers Weekly Article on GM Dangers
Monsanto buys UK plant breeder
Unilever Agrees Sale of Plant Breeding International to Monsanto
LA sues big tobacco over passive smoking
Pollution Changes Sexual Behaviour
Test Tube Trees Could Be Boost Timber Industry

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Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 06:01:06 -0500 From: Richard Wolfson

Here are a few article from allsorts news service

I have just about caught up, and will start sending recent article.

Escape of genetically modified organisms 'would be disastrous'

By Mary Carolan, The Irish Times July 2, 1998

Any escape of genetically modified organisms into the environment would be disastrous for the reputation of Ireland as a State with foodstuffs which are not genetically modified, the High Court was told yesterday.

Ms Clare Watson, of Genetic Concern, said the Environmental Protection Agency had failed to satisfy itself there was no risk of such escape from a site in Co Carlow, where it has granted consent for the growth of genetically modified sugar beet. She made the claims in an affidavit read to the court on the second day of her challenge to the EPA's decision, of May 1st, 1997, to grant Monsanto Plc permission for field trials of the genetically engineered beet on lands owned by Teagasc, at Oak Park, Co Carlow.

Ms Watson is seeking orders and declarations against the EPA and Monsanto -with an address in Buckinghamshire, England - which would quash the permission and direct the EPA to reconsider the application in accordance with specific laws.

The EPA has denied it failed to comply with the relevant laws and procedures and says it reached an independent conclusion on Monsanto's application. During yesterday's hearing, Mr John Gordon SC, for Ms Watson, read some 27 questions put by the EPA to Monsanto about its application and the responses from the company.

He also completed reading Ms Watson's affidavit in which she said she has been increasingly concerned about the development of genetically engineered plants and animals and in particular the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms ( GMO) into the environment.

Genetic Concern, which seeks to raise public awareness of the dangers of the release of such GMOs, was particularly concerned about the application by Monsanto for the deliberate release of such organisms from the Oak Park site, she said. The procedure adopted by the EPA in dealing with the Monsanto application was inherently void and any determination based on such procedure was fundamentally invalid.

The EPA was required by the Genetically Modified Organisms Regulations (1994) to be satisfied prior to giving its consent that the deliberate release of GMOs would not result in adverse effects on health or the environment. Because of the level of information submitted by Monsanto the EPA could not have been satisfied in that regard, she said.

The documents submitted by Monsanto indicated there was a real risk that the plants, which were the subject of the deliberate release, may escape either as pollen or as seeds and there was no fall-back position or adequate proposals to ensure such escape does not occur, she said.

Ms Watson said it was generally accepted that an escape of GMOs would have an adverse effect on the environment. In the context of the Monsanto trials, it was particularly significant as the area within which such plants were to be grown was one where there were large quantities of similar type plants, with which the genetically modified plants could interbreed. She said Monsanto proposed that pollen arising from the growth of such plants would be prevented by the manual pulling off of flower buds at two-week intervals.

In another affidavit, Dr Catherine Webb, of Monsanto, said she had more than seven years' experience in plant breeding. Since 1997 she had worked closely with the planning and implementation of glyphosate-tolerant sugar beet trials. She said the purpose of Monsanto's Carlow trials was to test the effect of Roundup - a glyphosate-based herbicide produced by the company - on glyphosate-tolerant sugar beet. The trials were necessary for Monsanto to secure approval for the commercial use of Roundup on sugar beet.

Dr Webb gave a detailed account of meetings with the EPA regarding Monsanto's application. She said the EPA was thorough in its conduct of the approval process and had imposed conditions not required by the UK authorities in relation to similar trials. Information required by the EPA was also more detailed than that required in several EU countries and the US.

Dr Webb also said there was "no realistic possibility" that any pollen might escape from the test site. It was "simply incorrect" to suggest there were no precautions to prevent the seed to be planted from escaping on the way to the planting site, or from escaping during planting due to the impact of birds and animals.

The hearing before Mr Justice O'Sullivan continues today. [Entered Greenbase July 2, 1998 ]

Bees 'witnesses' In Row Over Genetic Food

BEES and other insects can transfer pollen between plants separated by considerable distances. But how far will pollen travel on a summer breeze to fertilise a neighbouring field of blossom. That question has become the latest twist in the dispute in Britain over the safety of genetically -modified crops. It is central to a court challenge being mounted by a farmer and environment campaigners who are trying to stop an experimental crop of genetically -modified maize being planted in Devon.

The farmer, Guy Watson, is opposed to it being grown next to his farm and he is supported in his objection by the environmentalist group Friends of the Earth and by the Soil Association, Britain's largest certifier of organic produce. The three have joined forces out of concern that the maize, which has been modified to be resistant to a herbicide, may pollenate a field of organic sweetcorn planted two kilometres away on Mr Watson's farm. The Soil Association says it could be forced to withdraw Mr Watson's "organic certificate" if the trial goes ahead.

Genetic Trials Win Crucial Ruling In Court

By John Mason, Law Courts Correspondent
Financial Times (London) July 11, 1998 Saturday LONDON EDITION 1

The organic farming lobby yesterday failed in a High Court bid to have trials of genetically modified sweetcorn on a farm declared illegal. A High Court judge ruled the government had acted legally in allowing the trials to go ahead, despite claims by the farmer of adjacent land that cross-pollination from the genetically modified produce threatened to damage his crop of organic sweetcorn. The Soil Association, which regulates organic farming, has said it would withdraw organic status from Guy Watson's farm if any cross-pollination of genetically modified material occured.

The case is seen by environmentalists as a crucial test for the future of organic farming. Friends of the Earth and the Soil Association, which backed Mr Watson's challenge, have argued that widespread growing of genetically modified produce could threaten the entire organic farming industry in the UK. Under EU regulations, the Soil Association has to withdraw organic status if genetically modified cross-pollination has occurs.

GPs Back Gene Inquiry

By Ian Murray, The Times July 9, 1998, Thursday

Ian Murray reports from the BMA conference DOCTORS added their voice to concerns that genetically modified foodstuff might have long- term health effects. Delegates at Cardiff unanimously backed a call to examine the scientific evidence and commercial pressures on genetic manipulation. The BMA is also to consider setting up a medical watchdog to monitor work being done in this area. Earlier this week English Nature, the Government's wildlife adviser, called for a five- year ban on the commercial growing of some of the genetically modified crops.


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: 14 Jul 1998 15:00:05 -0500
From: (jim mcnulty)

Monsanto Signs Up Third World Leaders For Adverts

By Carl Mortished, The British Times July 13/98

Monsanto is, according to this story, yet again stirring up controversy by signing up political leaders in the Third World in its campaign to gain acceptance worldwide for genetically modified food products.

The story says that Monsanto commissioned a Washington lobbying firm to write to leading African politicians - including President Museveni of Uganda; Julius Nyerere, the former Tanzanian leader; and Graa Machel, widow of Samora Machel, the former Mozambique leader, and companion of Nelson Mandela - to seek their endorsement of a Monsanto advertising campaign in support of the use of biotechnology in food.

Monsanto wants to use the adverts to sway public opinion in the US and Europe. Using the slogan "Let the harvest begin", the advert contrasts the over-abundance of food in Europe and North America with hunger in the rest of the world and concludes: "Biotechnology is one of tomorrow's tools in our hands today. Slowing its acceptance is a luxury our hungry world cannot afford." A list of signatures follows, intended to include well-known African, Asian and Latin American politicians, demonstrating support among poorer countries for genetically modified food.

Monsanto was cited as saying that it had already secured the support of Oscar Arias, Nobel prizewinner and former president of Costa Rica, and other politicans in Asia and Africa. Former cabinet ministers of Ghana and Sierra Leone and an ex-director of the African Development Bank are also believed to havesigned up.

A spokesman for Monsanto was further cited as saying that the proposed advertisement was being sponsored by several companies and that it was likely to appear this summer. Thestory adds that the lobby firm involved, Global Business Access, is made up of former US State Department personnel and claims 140 former ambassadors among its staff as well as former "intelligence officers". The story also says that Monsanto's stock price has risen almost sixfold during the past five years, raising its market value from $6 billion (3.6 billion) to $33 billion.

C. S. Prakash, Tuskegee University
Center for Plant Biotechnology Research
Tuskegee, AL 36088, USA
Phone (334) 727 8023; Fax (334) 727 8067


Prof. Desh Pal S Verma PhD FRSC
Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology Center
The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH 43210
Phone: 614-292-3625, Fax: 614-292-5379

"To be free -free your mind"

Date: 15 Jul 1998 15:01:55 -0500
From: (jim mcnulty)

Bio-diversity Bill Protects Bureaucrats And Not The Crops

New Delhi: The draft bio-diversity Bill protects bureaucrats more than it does farmers who grow basmati, turmeric and other valuable Indian crops, which are threatened the multi-national corporations.

According to leading activists Vandana Shiva and Ashish Kothari, the draft circulated by the Centre to all Chief Ministers for approval before legislation in Parliament does nothing to protect those growing basmati or other crops.

Instead, the draft, actually the third one, goes out of its way to protect bureaucrats by cleverly making all decisions related to bio-diversity outside the scope of the judicial system.

"No suit, prosecution or legal proceeding shall lie against any officer or other employee of the Central government or the State government for anything which is done in good faith in pursuance of this act or the rules made thereunder,'' says Article 27 of the draft Act. Article 29 states that, "no court shall take cognisance under this act except one complaint made by the Central government or any authority or officer authorised in this behalf by that government''.

For good measure, Article 30 says that, "no civil court will have jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceeding in respect of anything done under the act by the government or its officials".

According to Shiva, an unaccountable bureaucracy is a threat to democracy and the people's rights in any context but in this case there are serious implications."The immunity of the bureaucracy combined with power and unaccountability of the multi-nationals could easily work to usurp the resources and knowledge of the people,'' she said.

"If the draft Bill goes through it would prevent any citizen, or community from filing a public interest litigation or seek other remedy against bureaucrats discovered to act in the interests of bio-pirates," she added.In other words, the bureaucracy of the Environment Ministry would like to have powers to sell and destroy our national wealth without being accountable to Indian people or the Indian courts,'' Shiva said.

"In fact, the Swadeshi bio diversity Bill is an attempt to end all rights and citizens freedoms in the area of bio-diversity and knowledge - it is an attempt to establish the rule of bio-piracy and bio-pirates," she chargedBesides, Kothari say's the Bill fails to regulate Indian companies which can find ways to collude with multinationals and loot India's wealth in bio-diversity.

The basmati case amply highlighted the need to have laws which protect indigenous innovation symbolised in the breeding of varieties like basmati by India's farmers Shiva and Kothari said.The theft involved in the basmati patent is a theft of the intellectual and biodiversity heritage of Indian farmers and also a theft from Indian traders and a deception of consumers,'' Shiva said.

Emboldened by India's lack of laws to protect its bio-diversity or the intellectual property rights of its farmers, a Texas-based company called Rice-Tec was recently granted patents to make and market basmati. The Rice-Tec patent allows as many as 20 claims - 11 relating to the plant, five to the grain, three to breeding methods and one to the seed.

But what is serious is Rice-Tec's claim to use the word basmati exclusively although it is well accepted internationally that only long grain aromatic rice grown in India and Pakistan can be so called. The usurpation of the trade name will seriously affect Indian as well as Pakistani traders who export basmati rice and in future other well-known Indian produce as well, thanks to the lack of patent laws.


Arun Goyal
Department of Biology, University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN 55812

tel: 218-726-7566 (office), 726-7052 (lab), 724-2328 (res), 726-8142 (Fax)

Friends of the EarthE-mail:
26-28 Underwood StreetURL:
LondonTel: 0171 490 1555
N1 7JQFax: 0171 490 0881

Date: 15 Jul 1998 17:16:12 -0500

Transgenic Corn Patent

Source: DEKALB Genetics Corporation
Contact: David R. Wagley, Vice President & Treasurer of DEKALB Genetics Corporation, 815-758-9383

DEKALB, Ill., July 15 /PRNewswire/ -- DEKALB Genetics Corporation (NYSE:DKB) said today that it has been granted a patent (#5,780,708) from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office directed to fertile, transgenic corn expressing resistance to the herbicide 2,2 - -dichloropropionic acid. The gene conferring resistance to the herbicide is useful to researchers engaged in corn transformation.

"This gene can be used as a selectable marker to identify cells that have been transformed," said Dr. Catherine Mackey, vice president, research. "The addition of a new selectable marker gene to the researcher's toolbox expands the power of corn transformation."

Mackey noted that DEKALB already holds patents directed to transgenic corn containing a bar or pat gene. This gene, which is a source of resistance to the herbicide glufosinate, is widely used in the industry as a selectable marker for corn transformation.

Based in DeKalb, Ill., DEKALB Genetics Corporation is a worldwide leader in agricultural genetics and biotechnology for seed and swine. DEKALB Genetics Corporation Class B Common Stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DKB.

Forward-looking statements are subject to several risk factors that could cause actual results to differ from projections. Among these factors are the company's relative product performance and competitive market position, weather conditions, commodity prices, trade policies, market conditions, and intellectual property matters.

NOTE: DEKALB news releases are available at no charge through PR Newswire's Company News On-Call fax service and on DEKALB's Web site. For a menu of DEKALB's press releases or to retrieve a specific release, call 800-758-5804, extension 262250, or on the Internet.

Date: 15 Jul 1998 18:04:36 -0500
From: Steve Sprinkel, TDA certified organic farmer
McDade, Texas, national organics editor, ACRES, USA

ACRES, USA: A Journal of Ecological Agriculture
July, 1998

UK: Action and Concern

In a recent poll held in the UK, 91% of farmers are very nervous about growing GM crops. Activist groups, like the Lincolnshire Loppers, are pulling up GE trial plantings or scything them down. Such acts of civil disobedience are practical ( people just donit want plants modified by viruses living near them) and the actions also contribute to press coverage of the issue. In response, Euro- based international agribusiness AgroEvo called on the British government to cease publication of the locations of their test sites.

Alun Rees, writing in The Express (UK) on Tuesday June 30th, reported that Britain's leading organic farmer has called for an end to all experiments with genetically modified crops in this country.

Helen Browning, newly appointed chairwoman of the Soil Association ( a private certification and advocacy organization on par with Oregon Tilth here in the US) called for the British Government to declare Britain a GMO-free zone.

She believes that this will not only protect our environment but provide a profitable future for our farmers. In an uncompromising interview with the Express, Ms Browning gave a stark warning of the global implications of GM agriculture. She said the danger is that non gm(GM) crops will cross pollinate with gm(GM) ones. Meanwhile , material from GM crops, whose new genes are often inserted by means of a bacteria of virus, could enter the microbe life of the soil, changing it irrevocably. Browning warned this would mean that eventually all crops would contain genetically altered material.

The 36 year old mother, who runs an organic farm in Wiltshire said "The problem is that we do not know and no one knows, what might happen if this goes wrong.

"The Soil Association would like to see Britain declared a GM free area. It would be difficult to uphold with GM food already being imported, but at least we could try. We could find ourselves one of the few places producing natural crops that would be in demand all over a world dominated by GM foods. It would be a tremendous selling point."

Date: 15 Jul 1998 18:04:36 -0500

French Confederation Paysanne Calls for GMO Destruction

In Bagnolet, France on 23 June 1998, the French countrypeoples group Confederation Paysanne called for the destruction of GE ( or GMO) corn plantings there. Noting the i exceptional gravity of the health, social- economic and social questions posed by the dissemination of GMOs ....and that consumers have never demonstrated any demand for GMO food and fiber productsi, they conclude that the French farming community now stands at a pivotal fork in the road.

In their communique, the Confederation saij that, i the GMO process threatens the independence of farmers with regard to the multinationals' marketing of health products and seeds: The Confederation believes that GMO technology offers " an advantage only to the pharmaco-chemical-seed firms and industrialized agriculture. Nobody else: neither consumers nor farmers have any need for it.i

An embargo on $200M of GE corn is also leveraging this action at the grassroots level. Consumers and farmers are strengthening their collaborative efforts in order to put the brakes firmly to the GE juggernaut.

Date: 15 Jul 1998 18:04:36 -0500

USDA: The Final Count: 275,000 Against

Far outpacing any previous comment on a USDA Proposed Rule, 275,000 formal comments were received by the National Organic Program staff, according to their final and official count. NOP Director Keith Jones, says that it will take until the end of July to fully icharacterize the commentsi so that public input can be used in the drafting of a revised Proposed Rule. We can guardedly assume that the BIG THREE of Genetic Engineering, Irradiation and Sewage Sludge will not be included in the revision, which is expected sometime in the next 6-8 months.

Judging from how far off the mark the USDA was in the first go-round, nothing can be taken for granted. The waste-treatment sector was the only group in favor of anything that the overwhelming majority of respondents opposed. Though organic acreage is only 2-3% of the US total in cultivated farmland, the Bio-solids industry didnit want anyone casting their product in a bad light, which is what happened, once John and Jane Consumer realized for the first time that vast areas of conventional farms receive this material.

Over 200 members of the US Congress also wrote to USDA Secretary Glickman to protest the unworkable proposed standards. Now if we can just link that interest to a complete overhaul of the genetic engineering issue.

Congratulations Consumers

In an article penned for the Albuquerque Journal by Joran Viers , agency director for the New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission, the state-run organic certifier in the Land of Enchantment, consumers were highly praised for the volume and quality of their response to the USDA.

Joran Viers says that Organic is much strengthened and better understood by virtue of the NOP comment process, and believes that organic agriculture will continue to expand for the following reasons:

  1. People are demanding more control over how and with what their food is produced. Stories like the recent Wall Street Journal article on the use of toxic industrial byproducts as unlabeled, unregulated fertilizer ingredients get people concerned, and they see organic as an alternative based upon a philosophy of working in a biologically responsible way.

  2. The availability of toxic chemicals as pesticides will be increasingly restricted as the EPA implements the Food Quality Protection Act. For example, the commonly used soil sterilizer methyl bromide is coming under increasing fire in California and Florida over potential links to cancer. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a substance toxic to all soil life is going to be toxic to humans, too. Unfortunately, as evidenced by two editorials in the most recent issue of New Mexico Farm and Ranch publication, mainstream agriculture is loath to give up the use of known toxic chemicals.

  3. More and more farmers want to take control over how they farm, and to do it in a way that doesn't leave them worried about their childrenis' health. Farmers can see that the chemical farming treadmill is mostly a benefit to the companies that manufacture and sell all these products. Science is beginning to look at organic methods, and it's no surprise that they are found to be effective.

Date: 15 Jul 1998 18:04:36 -0500

Organic Field Crops: instability and an answer

Joe Vogelsburg of Kansas, the new Field Crops Committee chair for the Organic Farmers Marketing Association, has been handed a golden opportunity to build membership in the cooperative. Early reports from a number of buyers and distributors note that certain organic grains may not hold on to their high prices of 1997.

Buckwheat will be flooded by Chinese imports, and millet and milo still lag behind, lacking a federal livestock standard that will amplify the demand for those grains. And in a letter from American Health and Nutrition, organic soybean farmers who contracted at $22.00/bu have been advised that they should accept a new contract at $20.00, due to the Asian economic free-fall, which AHN calls an i Act of God.i Unless hail has flattened all the tofu factories, I donit think that rationale is going to wash, and that is where Joe Vogelsburg comes in.

Unless growers have the means to act in concert they will be picked off, one by one, scattered out as they are across the country. The OFMA marketing program, while still under development, seems now to be an idea whose time has come, and Field Crops is the production sector best suited to lead the way.

Dave DeCou, an organic farmer from Eugene, Oregon, is the new OFMA Produce/Perishables Committee chair. Daveis principal project will be to create a better price reporting system, and the committee will begin with limited reports from the Pacific Coast, Indiana, Iowa and Texas. While cooperative marketing per se will be much more troublesome for perishables at the outset, produce growers are much in need of timely price information, and market availability data.

If any organic farmers are interested in an international organization, built and owned by certified organic farmers, they can get in touch with the new Organic Farmers Marketing Vice President, Cecilia Bowman, Organic Farmers Marketing Association Telecommunications Office. Email: Website: US POST: 8364 S SR 39, Clayton, IN 46118. Telephone:317-539-4317

National Organic Standards Board member Bill Welsh continues as OFMA President. Other members of the board are: Steve Gilman ( New York), Eric Kindberg ( Iowa), Marina Buchan ( Canada), Nick Morcenik ( Canada), Paula Anderson ( Texas) LaRhea Pepper ( Texas), Tom Wittman ( California), Pamela Saunders ( Wisconsin), Ron Nigh ( Mexico), Jay Feldman ( Washington, DC), Steve Sprinkel ( Texas ) .

Date: 15 Jul 1998 18:04:36 -0500

Organic Livestock Standards Under Discussion

Leslie McKinnon, Coordinator of the Organic Certification Program for the Texas Department of Agriculture, announced at a recent meeting of the TDA Organic Standards Committee meeting that organic livestock standards will be reviewed and implemented by the end of 1998. Unlike many states or regions, Texas still does not have significant organic dairy or egg production, nor standards for certification that will support the growth of that market.

Meat standards will also be included in those new standards, much to the satisfaction of organic ranchers like Richard and Peggy Sechrist of Fredericksburg, Texas, who have been frustrated trying to market their product in a market flooded by inaturali beef products, for which there are no standards nor verification. The new standards will govern only Texas- produced and Texas-marketed livestock, similar to the New Mexico state program, which utilizes state inspection.

Meanwhile, a national effort to adopt interim organic meat standards, formally proposed to the USDAis Food Safety Inspection Service ( FSIS) has been renewed this summer, lead by the Coulee Region Organic Production Pool in Wisconsin and backed by NOSB chair Bob Anderson of Pennsylvania and Diane Bowen, Executive Director of California Certified Organic Farmers. No one can argue that it is not reprehensible that after 8 years, US organic livestock producers have been hung out to dry while the natural labels have garnered the market for healthy meat products.

Will FSIS act promptly now while the National Organic Program is revising the comprehensive federal standards? Tom Billy, the FSIS director, will hold meetings with industry representatives this summer, something that might not have happened if the federal organic program had not engendered such an immense outpouring of consumer comment this spring.

Date: 16 Jul 1998 03:17:32 -0500
From: (jim mcnulty)

Internationaol Guardian: great article on GE (and Monsanto)

Hello all,

If you have a chance, take a look at today's (international) edition of Guardian. There is a great article by Bill O'Neill, editor of ONline Guardian on the military uses of GE.

O'Neill also compares GE to early days of nuclear energy and says that GE corporations are doing same mistakes as the companies building nuclear energy in the 50's and 60's, ridiculing risks and opponents, hiding evidence etc.

Best bits are about Monsanto:

"Just over a week ago, three representativse of Monsanto, the mighty US gonglomerate that has mortgaged its commercial survival to the success of the biotechnology revolution on agriculture, were thumping the table in the editor's office at The Guardian. They also demonstrated a vocal range that visitors to the papre rarely exhibit. Monsanto's American reps were concerned about the paper's coverage of developments in biothechnology. The coverage was too negative, they suggested.

Its approach was anti-science and anti-technology. Where were the positive stories about the benefits that genetic engineering could bring to the world? What about some recognition of the commercial risks taken in pioneering the technology and of the ongoing research that the company continued to fund? Why was there so little appreciation of how Monsanto had accepted that there was another side to the story and, in its multimillion dollar publicity campaign for its products, was directing members of the public to organisations with opposing views?

Monsanto is not shy in coming forward. As the remarkable advances in genetic engineering unfolded in the late 1980s, the company was extraordinarily quick to offer scinece journalists expences-paid trips to its headquarters at St Louis in Missouri."

On the same spread there is also an article on Acre (Advisary Committee on Releases to the Environment) of UK reinforcing the claims made by FoE that the members are too positive to GE to be able to judge the risks. The writer Julie Hill is a member of Acre.

Date: 16 Jul 1998 03:19:07 -0500
From: (jim mcnulty)

Farmers Weekly Article on GM Dangers

(Forwarded by Natural Law Party Wessex)

Dr Michael Antoniou is adviser to many bodies concerned about potentially dangerous developments in biotechnology including Iceland Foods, the Soil Association, and the Natural Law Party. An edited version of the following article by Dr Antoniou appeared in "Talking Point", page 94, 26 June 1998, of the British agricultural journal Farmers Weekly

Farmers Weekly Web Site

Dr Michael Antoniou is a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Pathology with 17 years experience of GM technology. He is head of a research group at a leading London medical school developing genetic engineering technology for human clinical applications.


Genetic modification (GM) in agriculture, is justified by its proponents on two main points. Firstly, it is argued that only GM crops can meet the needs of the worldis ever expanding population in a sustainable and environmentally conscientious manner. This claim is unproven, whereas extensive studies have shown that with better management of resources and minimal chemical inputs, yields from land in developing countries can be tripled using conventional crops.

A second, more fundamental point of justification of GM is that it represents a natural extension of traditional breeding methods, only it is more precise and safer. Many have expressed doubts. Prof. Philip James (Food Standards Agency advisor) warns that, "The perception that everything is totally straightforward and safe is utterly naive. I donit think we fully understand the dimensions of what weire getting into". These reservations are at odds with what one hears from MAFF and the biotechnology industry.

Genes, the inherited blueprints of life, exist and work in groups as an integrated whole within a organism. Breeding between closely related forms of life exchanges variations of the same genes in their natural groupings thereby bringing out the best or desired traits that have been finely tuned to work harmoniously together by millions of years of evolution, although even this can have its problems (e.g. Moulin wheat).

In contrast, GM allows the isolation and transfer of only one or a few genes between totally unrelated organisms. GM plants and animals start life in a laboratory where artificial units of foreign genetic material are randomly inserted into the host which, to a lesser or greater degree, always disrupts natural genetic order and function. Furthermore, GM brings about combinations of genes that would never occur naturally.

The artificial nature of GM does not automatically make it dangerous. It is the imprecise way in which genes are combined and the unpredictability in how the foreign gene will behave that results uncertainty. In a post-BSE era it should be logical to think twice about using a technology that blatantly violates well established natural boundaries. Unfortunately, people are rushing into the field with a badly thought through technology.

GM crops have produced very variable yields. A US company is currently paying millions of dollars in compensation to cotton farmers after severe crop failures. Crops engineered to produce their own pesticide not only kill pests but also natural predators (e.g. ladybirds, lacewings) and pollinators. Complex GM management methods are now recommended in an attempt to avoid the rapid appearance of herbicide resistant volunteers/weeds and pesticide resistant insects. Therefore, in the long term GM is incompatible with low-input, sustainable farming methods (e.g. Integrated Crop Management). According to the NFUis Biotechnology Working Group, "In general, it can be said that scientists do not have a complete understanding of natural ecosystems. It is therefore impossible to predict accurately the effects of large scale releases of genetically modified organisms".

The only "safe" use of GM in itis current form would appear to be clinical applications which by nature and necessity do not result in the intentional release of viable GM organisms into the environment.

Consumer pressure has forced processors and retailers to resource raw materials to ensure a full range of GM-free products. Imports into the EU of GM soya, maize and oilseed rape from North America have already suffered substantially. Therefore, by staying GM-free the UK will not only avoid the inevitable health, farming and environmental problems which basic science and mounting evidence tells us will arise, but also enjoy a premium and security in the market.


Footnote: Minor elements of the above document submitted to Farmers Weekly were excluded from the final published article.

Date: 16 Jul 1998 13:20:29 -0500
From: (jim mcnulty)

Monsanto buys UK plant breeder

July 16, 1998 © Copyright 1998, Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Reuters [BR] via NewsEdge Corporation : Monsanto Co. said Wednesday it agreed to acquire Plant Breeding International Cambridge Ltd. from Unilever Plc for about $525 million in cash, marking its fourth major seed company acquisition in two months.

The St. Louis-based company said the latest acquisition will likely end its $6 billion buying binge of seed companies.

Plant Breeding International (PBI) breeds and markets winter wheat, barley, rapeseed, potatoes and other crops, primarily in the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Monsanto said PBI's strength in the cereal seeds complements its powerful position in corn, soybeans and cotton seeds.

"Now that we have done this, we are done with acquisitions of major seed companies," Monsanto President Hendrik Verfaillie said in an interview.

"We have done all the acquisitions that we have planned," he added. "We have a very strong position in corn, soybeans and cotton, and now we have a strong position in wheat."

Monsanto has been dubbed the Pac Man of the seed industry after it gobbled up three major seed companies in less than two months. In May, Monsanto agreed to buy the nation's second-largest seed company, DeKalb Genetics Corp., and leading cotton seed maker Delta and Pine Land Co. In June, it announced plans to add Cargill Inc.'s international seed business to its portfolio.

"The time has come to digest all these acquisitions and make sure that we create the value inherent in these businesses," Verfaillie said.

The life sciences company last month agreed to merge with American Home Products Corp. in a stock deal worth about $33.5 billion.

Agricultural products generated the bulk of Monsanto's $2.04 billion first-quarter revenues. Its big money makers include corn, soybean and cotton seeds that are genetically modified to withstand Monsanto's powerful Roundup herbicide, or to resist crop-eating pests.

But Monsanto lacked a strong foothold in the wheat seed market, the world's biggest crop in terms of acreage. The PBI acquisition gives Monsanto a base in Europe. With the distribution channels Monsanto acquired in the Cargill deal, it can market the wheat hybrids it develops with PBI worldwide.

"Wheat has been on Monsanto's docket for some time," said George Dahlman, an analyst with Piper Jaffray in Minneapolis.

"They've made it abundantly clear that they have some technologies they're working on. They needed a platform for commercial distribution, and here it is."

Monsanto plans to focus initially on developing wheat hybrids rather than the genetically modified varieties that have sparked fierce debate, most notably in Europe where some countries have banned their use or import.

The company hopes the hybrids will improve the quality and yield of Europe's wheat crop, which is used mainly as a livestock feed, although Verfaillie said new technology could produce higher-quality wheat that can be used in bread.

Monsanto hopes to export the technology to countries like China and India, both major wheat producers.

In the United States, where U.S. farmers have cut back on wheat acreage in the last couple of years in favor of corn and soybeans, the technology could one day be used to combat fungus and disease problems, Verfaillie said.

"Longer-term, we also intend to enhance the quality of wheat through biotechnology, but that is not going to be for a number of years," Verfaillie said.

The deal is expected to be dilutive to Monsanto's earnings for the first few years but should add to results after that, Verfaillie said.

Monsanto's stock was up $1.06 at $54.94 in composite midafternoon New York Stock Exchange trading.

Date: 16 Jul 1998 13:30:11 -0500
From: (jim mcnulty)

Unilever Agrees Sale of Plant Breeding International to Monsanto

July 16, 1998 © Copyright 1998, Business Wire

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE) via NewsEdge Corporation -- Unilever announced today that it has agreed to sell Plant Breeding International Cambridge Limited (PBIC) to Monsanto Company, for approximately 522 million dollars cash.

The transaction includes PBIC operations in Scotland and France together with PBI Saatzucht, its German affiliate company.

The U.K. government has been informed of the proposed sale. Completion is expected on July 16, although the transfer of PBI Saatzucht will be deferred pending regulatory clearance from the German competition authorities.

PBIC is a successful business producing and marketing worldwide new and improved crop varieties. It also has significant breeding programs for winter wheat, barley, oil seed rape, beans, peas and potato. It employs some 280 people - at Cambridge, in its breeding stations in France and Germany and at its potato facility in Scotland.

In April this year, Unilever announced its intention to sell PBIC as part of its continuing focus on consumer goods products and the development of its portfolio of foods and home and personal care businesses.

The sale to Monsanto meets PBIC's need to develop further its plant breeding capability by gaining access to the research and development of a global plant science company. It is therefore considered to be in the best long term interests of the company, its employees and European agriculture.

PBIC was formed in 1987 when Unilever acquired the breeding and applied science resources of the Plant Breeding Institute and the National Seed Development Organisation.

BACKGROUND: Unilever is one of the world's largest consumer products companies with sales close to $50 billion. It produces and markets a wide range of foods, home and personal care products. Unilever operates in 88 countries around the globe and employs 270,000 people.

In the United States, Unilever sales exceeded $8 billion in 1997. It employs 21,000 people and has 66 offices and manufacturing sites in 23 states. Two of Unilever's 12 global Business Groups are headquartered in the United States. Some of their major products are:

Foods - North America:

  1. Lipton teas, soups, recipe products and side dishes;
  2. Wish-Bone salad dressings;
  3. Lawry's seasonings and specialty sauces;
  4. Imperial, Promise, Country Crock, "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!",
  5. Brummel & Brown spreads and sprays;
  6. Ragu pasta and pizza sauces;
  7. Five Brothers premium pasta sauces;
  8. Klondike, Popsicle and Breyers ice cream products, and
  9. Gorton's frozen seafood products.

Unilever Home and Personal Care - North America:

  1. Wisk, "all" and Surf laundry detergents;
  2. Snuggle and Final Touch fabric softeners;
  3. Sunlight dish detergents;
  4. Lever 2000, Caress, Dove and Shield bar soaps;
  5. Pond's and Vaseline skin care products;
  6. Q-tips cotton swabs and cotton balls;
  7. Mentadent, Aim, Close-up and Pepsodent oral care products;
  8. Finesse, Salon Selective, Thermasilk, Aqua Net and Rave hair care products; and
  9. Calvin Klein and Elizabeth Arden cosmetic and fragrance products.

CONTACT: Unilever, New York | John T. Gould, Jr., 212-906-4694

Date: 16 Jul 1998 16:31:02 -0500
From: (Joe Toth)

"California Proposition 65, a voter-passed initiative that requires anyone doing business in the state to warn the public before exposing them to carcinogens or other toxins."

Other toxins??


LA sues big tobacco over passive smoking

By Michael Miller Thursday July 16 7:09 AM EDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The anti-tobacco lobby has opened a new front against cigarette and cigar makers with a lawsuit by the city Los Angeles. The city sued 16 companies for failing to warn about the dangers of second-hand smoke.

City Attorney Jim Hahn, announcing the lawsuit at a press conference Wednesday , said it was the first legal action of its kind in the United States.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims the tobacco companies are violating California Proposition 65, a voter-passed initiative that requires anyone doing business in the state to warn the public before exposing them to carcinogens or other toxins.

Spokesmen for the tobacco industry were not immediately available for comment.

Hahn said the lawsuit was seeking civil penalties from the tobacco manufacturers that could exceed $2.5 billion. The city is also asking for an injunction that would ban the companies from selling their products in California without first giving "a clear and reasonable warning" about the dangers of second- hand smoke.

"There's plenty of warning for users," Hahn said in a reference to warnings on cigarette packs. "But there's not one to warn of second-hand smoke."

The lawsuit asks that the defendants be ordered to conduct a court-approved public information or corrective advertising campaign informing the public of the dangers of second-hand smoke.

"The companies have been on notice that tobacco smoke posed serious health hazards to non-smokers since 1986 when the U.S. Surgeon General reported on the problem, and in 1988 the governor (of California) listed tobacco smoke as a chemical mixture known to the state to cause cancer," Hahn said.

The lawsuit alleges that "by their knowledge and intentional acts of concealment each defendant knowingly and intentionally exposed individuals to environmental tobacco smoke and its constituent chemicals."

Hahn said he was particularly concerned about the health risks to children, citing statistics that showed second-hand smoke was responsible for up to 2,200 children being born each year in California with below normal birth weights.

Hahn was one of the leading figures in a legal action by 13 California cities which forced the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to withdraw its Joe Camel advertising campaign on the grounds that it was aimed at children.

Reynolds is one of the defendants named in Wednesday's lawsuit, along with Philip Morris Inc., Consolidated Cigar Corp., Liggett Group Inc., Pinkerton Tobacco Co., Swisher International Group Inc., Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp., Lorillard Tobacco Co., 800-Jr. Cigar Inc., General Cigar Co. Inc., Havatampa Inc., John Middleton Inc., Lane Ltd, United States Tobacco Co. and Cuban Cigar Factory Inc.

California has the most stringent second-hand smoke restrictions in the nation, barring smoking in offices, restaurants and even bars and outside sporting arenas.


Please sign the Consumer Right to Know Million-Signature Petition demanding mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods,

Date: 16 Jul 1998 17:30:33 -0500
From: MichaelP

Pollution Changes Sexual Behaviour

By Nick Nuttall, Environment Correspondent, London Times July 16 1998

POLLUTION may be causing changes in parts of the brain linked with sexual reproduction and behaviour.

Scientists have found evidence that chemicals which mimic the female hormone oestrogen - found in items such as pesticides and lacquers in tin cans - can have a powerful effect on cells in the hypothalamus of foetal rats. The cells regulate the pituitary gland which in turn orchestrates the release of hormones that control fertility and sexual behaviour in animals including man.

Mark Christian of Imperial College Medical School and one of the researchers, said: "We've now shown that they have a very potent action on neuronal cells from rat foetuses."

Alarm is growing over thousands of common chemicals used worldwide, which tests on animals have shown can behave like oestrogen or, in some cases, as blockers of the male hormone androgen. Studies in Britain have found a link between these and the feminisation of fish.

Until now, scientists believed that the developing testes of babies in the womb could have been bathed in a cocktail of oestrogen-mimickers via the mother.

However, the latest findings - published in New Scientist - indicate that some of the damage may be more fundamental.

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

Date: 16 Jul 1998 20:24:54 -0500
From: MichaelP

Test Tube Trees Could Be Boost Timber Industry

LONDON (Reuters) - 7/16/98

The latest test tube fertilization techniques that have given hope to tens of thousands of childless couples could also be a big boost to the lumber industry.

New Scientist magazine reported Wednesday that Canadian plant embryologists are using in vitro fertilization (IVF) to produce new hybrid varieties of trees.

Researchers at the University of Victoria in the Canadian province of British Columbia have learned how to remove the equivalent of an egg from the Douglas fir and mix it with pollen from the same species in a laboratory dish.

"A week after fertilization, the researchers dissected the tiny plant embryos and found they were developing normally," the magazine reported.

The plant embryologists are confident that the embryos will eventually grow into trees and are already using the technique to cross two pines that do not usually hybridize.

Initial reaction from the lumber industry has been positive.

"I dare say IVF would make hybrid development a lot easier," said Barry Herman, a forestry scientist from Seattle.

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

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