Genetically Manipulated Food News

30 July 98

Table of Contents

Why Refuge Will Not Work to Reduce Bt Resistance
Canadian Government Bureaucrats Reply to Comments on Canadian Biotechnology Strategy
USDA Goes Back To Drawing Board On Organic Rules
Al Gore urges France's Jospin to allow US corn sales
Gene Technology: Friend Or Foe?
UN Aid Agencies Slam Monsanto's Campaign
Bookmarks On Genetic Engineering For The Www
Organic farmer loses crop fight
UK: Public Funding For Cloning Resaerch Is Accelerating
GE-Free Liquid Lecithin Is Available In The US
Business Foes Of Biotech Crops Seek More Rules
Court decision throws seed trials into chaos
Canada: Food scientist silenced by FEDS
Update regarding Dr. Shiv Chopra Scientific Evaluator for Health Canada
The First "No GE Ingredients" Labeled Product In the US
Incredible edibles
India: Biotech Firms Sow Seeds Of Discord
Geneticists are using patents to own the mark they make
Genetic Engineering on Trees
Growth of Organic Food Industry

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Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 17:40:52 -0400
From: joe cummins
Organization: University of Western Ontario

Why Refuge Will Not Work to Reduce Bt Resistance

Prof. Joe Cummins
e-mail: September 30, 1998

The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) with its toxins has proved to be a valuable tool for insect pest control, particularly in organic agriculture. The tool is useful only so long as insects have not generally grown resistant to the insecticide. Resistance appears in insect population when mutants of the insect population are selected by the presence of Bt in the environment.

Genetic engineering may have greatly accelerated the spread of Bt resistance by putting Bt genes into crops such as potato, cotton and corn. The engineered varieties produce Bt toxin in every cell of the plant throughout the growing season and leave Bt containing residues in the soil. The continued and elevated presence of Bt toxin in the crop environment is a powerful force for rapid selection of Bt resistance among the insect pests. The United States and large multinational companies promote spread of genetically engineered crops and put forward a strategy called “refuge” which was claimed to delay or prevent appearance of insect resistance in genetically engineered crops.

  1. What is refuge?
    Refuge involves setting aside blocks of crops which are not genetically engineered and sensitive to insect pests planted among the large acreage of Bt toxin containing crop. The strategy assumes that all the insect pests develop resistance to Bt toxin that is genetically recessive. Recessive genes are genes that are not expressed in the presence of a dominant gene (recollect that animals and plants are diploid, having two sets of genes).

    Genes may be recessive, dominant, co-dominant both of the two alleles (genes of related function located at a common chromosome address) are expressed for ,example the AB blood type, or semi-dominant when dominant genes are not expressed in all members of a population (this situation is caused by modifier genes at a separate chromosome location). An individual with too recessive genes at the chromosome address for Bt tolerance can safely eat Bt crops. Individual insects with two dominant genes or a dominant and resistant gene expel their entrails through their anus after browsing on Bt crop, and die. The theory is that if there is no refuge then rare resistant forms will arise from mutant forms in the insect population and will mate only with other survivors of the exposure to Bt crop and soon establish resistant pest populations.

    When the refuge is present insect surviving Bt exposure don’t need to hunt for rare Bt survivors for sex they just limp over to the refuge and mate with insects bearing dominant genes. The off springs of such mating will all be sensitive to Bt but will bear recessive genes for Bt tolerance. The refuge delays the appearance of Bt resistant insect populations.

  2. Why is Bt tolerance recessive?
    Bt produces crystalline toxins , these toxin crystals are present in the cells of the bacterium or genetically engineered crop. When ingested by insect larvae the toxins cause paralysis, cessation of feeding then death. The toxin produces cation-selective channels in the cells of the insect gut leading to influx of water and electrolytes leading to cell lysis (bursting)(1,2). Recessive alleles of genes are usually associated with gene functions that have been eliminated or inactivated.

    The dominant alleles usually produce proteins that function normally or they create a protein with a new function. Recessive Bt genes have been associated with changes in the insect membrane proteins to prevent binding of the Bt toxin (3,4,5), or to inactivation of protease enzyme needed to activate Bt toxin(6).It has been assumed that insect resistance is recessive in formulating the refuge strategy because dominant resistance will actually be promoted by a refuge.

  3. Does insect resistance sometimes depend on dominant genes? Dominant resistance genes will actually greatly enhance the spread of Bt reistance in the refuge. Dominant inheritance of Bt resistance has been observed in Colorado Potato beetle(7). That pest is a scourge of many vegetable crops. In the absence of selection the resistance decreased somewhat in five generations but remained constant for the following twelve generations without selection. The diamond back moth was the first major pest in which Bt resistance appeared in field crops. Bt resistance was recessive and effected toxin binding to insect membrane proteins in Hawaii and Pennsylvania but was not recessive and not associated with binding in diamond backs from the Philippines(8).

  4. How widespread is the use of Bt resistant crops? Of the $8 billion spent each year on pesticides worldwide, it is estimated $2.7 could be replaced with Bt crops. The area planted in Bt resistant crops was greater than 20 million acres for all crops during 1997(9).

  5. Why are agriculture officials promoting refuge even though they are aware that dominant mutations for Bt resistance can be expected to arise and promote the rapid spread of resistance and loss of use for Bt? Many such officials do not seem to be aware of the difference between dominant and recessive genes and their implications for spread of resistance. Others may wish to see a rapid return to chemical pesticides and act to hasten decline of Bt applications. Others may be using a strategy of planned obsolesce to coolly come forward with demands for research grants and tax breaks to replace the ineffective Bt. Financial advisors should answer to their clients for failing to alert them to the consequences of dominant mutations in insect pests of Bt crops.

  6. Can countries now considering approval of Bt crops, save Bt by banning Bt crop field test and field applications? I think so!

  7. What is the Hardy-Weinberg formula? This question should be ignored by those uncomfortable with genetics. The formula describing frequency of alleles in a population in which alleles are not selected is:
    p² + 2pq + q² = 1 ,where p+q=1,
    p is the fraction of alleles in the entire population that are dominant and
    q is the fraction that are recessive.
    When resistance, the point I am trying to make with the formula is that in the refuge p and q can rise to point that they are nearly equal. Thus even ignoring the catastrophe of dominant resistance appearing the fraction of recessive alleles can reach a point that guarantees that recessive diploids will ultimately predominate in the insect population.
The refuge doesn’t really provide a real solution to the appearance of resistance and guaranties that the resistant genes will not be eradicated.


  1. Rajamohan,F.,Lee,M., and Dean,D. “Bacillus thuriengiensis insecticidal proteins” Prog.Nucleic Acid res. Mol. Biol. 60,1-27.1998

  2. Prieto-Samonov,D.,Vazquez_Padron,R.,Aya-Pardo,C.,Gonzalez-Cabera,J. and de la Riva,G. “Bacillus thruingiensis from biodiversity to biotechnology” J. Ind. Biotech. 19,102-19,1997

  3. Lee,M.,Ramamohan,F.,Gould,F. and Dean,H. “Resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis” Appl Envir Microbiol 61,3836-42, 1995.

  4. Tabashnik,B.,Malvar,T.,Lui,Y.Finson,N.Borthakur,D.,Shin,B., Park,S.,Masson,L. ,deMMaagd.,R. and Bosch,D. “Cross resitance of the daimondback moth” Appl.Envir. Microbiol 62,2839-44,1996.

  5. Mohammed,S.,Johnson,D. and Aronson,A. “Altered binding of Cry1Ac toxin to larval membranes” Appl Environ Microbiol 62,4168-73,1996

  6. Oppert,B.,Kramer,K.,Beeman,R., Johnson,D. and McGaughey,W. “Protease-mediated insect resitance to Bacillus thringiensis toxins” J Biol.Chem 272,22473-6,1997.

  7. Rahardja,U. and Whalon,M. “Inheritance of resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis”J Econ Entomology 88,21-6,1995.

  8. Tabashnik,B.,Lui,Y.,Malvar,T.,Heckel,D.,Masson,L.,Ballester,V,Granero,F.,Mensua,J., and Ferre,J. Global variation in the genetic and biochemical basis of diamondback moth resitance to Bacillus thuringiensis” Proc.Natnl.Acad Sci USA 94,12780-5,1997.

  9. Roush,R. and Shelton,M. “Assesing the odds: Emergence of resistance to Bt transgenic plants” Nature Biotech. 15, Sept. 1997.

Date: Thu, 9 Jul 1998 00:51:33 -0400
From: "Joe Cummins"
Organization: University of Western Ontario

Canadian Government Bureaucrats Reply to Comments on Canadian Biotechnology Strategy

Prof. Joe Cummins e-mail : July 8, 1998

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 committee’s 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 panel’s reply was forwarded. The panel director replied ” Thank you for your letter with the comments regarding the Canadian Biotechnology Strategy Renewal process. I appreciate you taking the time provide your views” there was more form letter then ”Your contribution to the shared vision will assist us in ensuring that biotechnology helps to improve our quality of life”.

Frankly , the bureaucrats didn’t 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.

Date: Fri, 24 Jul 1998 10:34:37 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

posted by (Joe Toth) :

USDA Goes Back To Drawing Board On Organic Rules

WASHINGTON, July 21 (Reuters) - After being bombarded with nearly 300,000 angry letters from organic farmers and health-conscious consumers, the U.S. Agriculture Department said Wednesday it will try again this autumn to create standards for organic products.

In May, the USDA withdrew a proposed rule that would have let food labeled as ``organic'' contain human waste, irradiation or bio-engineered material. A record 280,000 letters filled USDA's mailbox with complaints about the plan from environmentalists, organic farmers, celebrities such as musician Willie Nelson and the entire Vermont legislature.

Date: Fri, 24 Jul 1998 10:34:37 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Al Gore urges France's Jospin to allow US corn sales

By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON, July 21 (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Al Gore made a personal appeal on Tuesday to France's Prime Minister Lionel Jospin to clear the way for Spain to resume imports of U.S. corn, an aide to the vice president said. "It's fair to say the prime minister definitely understood the importance of this issue to American farmers" after his telephone conversation with Gore, said Kay Casstevens, a legislative assistant to the vice president. Although Jospin told Gore that he hadn't finished reviewing the issue, he also said it was "his intention to make a decision in the near term," Casstevens said.

Time is of the essence because the European Union opened a tender on July 3 for Spain to import 600,000 tonnes of non-EU corn and that tender will open remain only until August 6.

The United States sold more than $300 million dollars of corn annually to Spain and Portugal in 1995 through 1997 under trade pacts, which allow the two countries to import corn at much lower tariffs than the rest of EU. But U.S. corn growers have made no sales to either destination this year because of French delays in giving final EU approval to two varieties of genetically-modified corn grown in the United States.

In the meantime, Argentine and Eastern European suppliers have stepped in and made sales to Spain and Portugal that would normally be made by U.S. exporters.

Date: Fri, 24 Jul 1998 10:34:37 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Gene Technology: Friend Or Foe?

By Christine Salins, The Canberra Times July 22, 1998, Wednesday Edition

IF YOU weren't aware of it before, you are now: some of the food on our table has been genetically engineered and it will not be long perhaps only two years before much of our diet includes genetically engineered food such as sugar and canola.

This fundamental shift in the way our food is produced has happened with many Australians seemingly unaware of it. To some, such as the Australian Food Council, which represents many of Australia's food manufacturers and processors, it promises benefits to consumers and the economy.

Others, such as Tomorrow's Food Today, a non-profit organisation which aims to promote the food and hospitality industries in Australia, have called for caution.

For some, the whole scenario is far too frightening to contemplate scientists playing God.

Date: Sun, 26 Jul 1998 11:43:20 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

UN Aid Agencies Slam Monsanto's Campaign

By Louise Jury, London Independent July 25, 1998

Aid agencies have united to condemn one of the biggest genetic engineering companies for using the Third World to justify its products.

The company, Monsanto, has been seeking support from leading figures in Africa and Asia for its claims that biotechnology can "feed the world".

An advertising campaign expected to start later this year says, "Let the harvest begin". But furious aid agencies have criticised the promotion as "misleading and manipulative". And African delegates to the United Nations' recent session on plant genetic resources asked for support in fighting the biotechnology companies.

In a joint statement, the UN delegates said: "We ... strongly object that the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations to push a technology that is neither safe, environmentally friendly nor economically beneficial to us."

But despite their opposition, the Global Business Access lobbying company in the United States has circulated a letter asking for signatories from the Third World to support Monsanto's claim that we all share the "same planet and the same needs".

It said: "Many of our needs have an ally in biotechnology and the promising advances it offers for our future. We know that advances in biotechnology must be tested and safe, but they should not be unduly delayed ... Slowing its acceptance is a luxury our hungry world cannot afford."

However, many aid workers believe that recent innovations in farming have promoted non-sustainable agriculture and done little to help the poorest countries. Andrew Simms, of Christian Aid, said that people went hungry because they did not have access to food, not because there was not enough of it. Ethiopia, for example, was a net exporter of food during its famine when the fighting prevented produce reaching those who needed it.

"Monsanto's claims of a tomorrow without hunger thanks to their genetically engineered products are cruelly misleading," Mr Simms said.

The aid agencies are particularly worried by Monsanto, because recent acquisitions have made it one of the world's most powerful agricultural biotechnology companies. It has a stake in every stage of the process, from patented genes to a global seed distribution network. Most significantly, Monsanto paid $4bn (#2.4bn) for Delta and Pine Land, the company which developed and patented "terminator technology", which genetically alters seeds so they will not germinate if replanted.

Fears grew further last month when Monsanto announced a partnership with the Grameen Bank, a microcredit scheme founded in Bangladesh which provides credit to small businesses. Aid agencies fear farmers will be encouraged to buy grain and herbicides they cannot afford.

Liz Hosken, of the Gaia Foundation which works to preserve biological and cultural diversity, said the poorest countries were being targeted as potentially profitable markets.

A #1m advertising campaign launched in Britain last month was designed to persuade people that genetically modified crops were safe and a force for good in the Third World.

Ms Hosken said: "The fear is if you say something often enough people think it is true." She said the major issue for developing nations was food security - having locally grown food locally available. But terminator technology stopped farmers collecting seeds for use in the future while encouraging them to buy in seeds and herbicides.

Laura Kelly, of ActionAid, said Monsanto's efforts to convince the public that its technology would benefit farmers were "morally abhorrent".

Thanks to (Judy Kew) for compiling the following

Bookmarks On Genetic Engineering for the WWW

Some Good Stop Off Points When Browsing Campaign for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods Natural Law Party, 500 Wilbrod Street Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2

Mothers for Natural Law, P.O. Box 1177, Fairfield, Iowa 52556 website: Greenpeace petition against the EPA regarding the approval of BT Toxin. Jaan Suurk¸la MD Chairman of PHYSICIANS AND SCIENTISTS AGAINST GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD An international network for a moratorium on release of GE-products.

To obtain full outline to date of the High Court Judicial Review of the EPA's granting of a license to Monsanto Plc. to field test GMO sugar beet in Ireland.

Here is the Union of Concerned Scientists Site address. Chart of GE crops.

Great site with a southern perspective called the Third World Network. It is where I first encountered the writing of Vandana Shiva. The Natural History of genes a Science Education Utah Museum of Natural History, University of Utah School of Medicine, Eccle's institute of Human Genetics. Assemble a mutant of your own choosing and see how it fairs. FYI and EPA documents on what constitutes food quality. find out all the scandal within the industry. Rumours and their source etc. Cooperative resource from Unido and OECD. excellent information on g/e patents third world issues. Friends of the Earth UK information on various Enviro concerns with release sites in UK. Excellent expose of the RBGH Scandal from Robert Cohen and Friends. animal rights activism against experiments, and xenotransplantations.

ttp:// more from Friends of the Earth,though more on it's anti/ge campaign. yahoo/reuters news headlines. Web pages for the magazine,covers quite a lot on Biotech

The Biotechnology and Development Monitor has reached the internet. Since March 1998, you can visit us under the URL

It is possible to retrieve whole issues, single articles and a search engine helps to find relevant information. Your comments are warmly appreciated.

Monitor is a well edited and relieable journal from The Netherlands, in case you do not already know it. Good discussion and background to issue... Up to now it has been print only, no charge. Australian plant bio-piracy problems. Survey of Commercial + Trans Global Selfious Interest. British Government Advisories Commision on Human Genetics. 1998 Report Available Convention on Biological Diversity. Australian Enviromental magazine exposing fraud and corruption. freeware d/l's of ADOBE ACROBAT. Used on most EPA/Gov web pages, is universal between all computer systems. European Parliament G/E Releases statements for 1998. Department Eviroment/Transport and the Regions UK gov web pages on GMO Releases Genetic Concern Ireland, information on current justicial review and protests on releases in Ireland. Ireland's Eco Warriors with links to other NGO's. Dr. Costas Giannakenas MD and the cgian group.

Three excellent mailing Lists are: (submissions to the list(s)) OR (Adminstrativa like(un)subscriptions)

And also the very excellent list from Reclaim the Streets the UK eviromentalist activism network. Put subscribe genetics in main body. Thank you to our friends at BanGef. Anti-food defamation laws in USA Help to avert the dangers of G/E Combined Web Pages (SWEDISH) Greenpeeace.NLP Pure Food Campaign . THIS IS AN EXCELLENT SOURCE OF INFO GLOBAL 2000 German language, only but worth getting a translator for. You can set Newspage to search the whole of the internet for you, so you have a newspaper e-mail delivered everyday without having to search ,only catch is $5 dollars a month mine is set with six choices 1. Biotech Agriculture 2. Bio-tech Companies 3.Enviromental Regulations 4. Animal testing 5. Bio-Tech Medicine etc. EXCELLENT SOURCE OF INFO Greenpeace Homepage As you would expect. Greenpece Bio Tech information and Campaign Highlights Library of Congress Very useful tool when needed all American Law and Constitution Reform is available here. Yahoo one of the best Internet Search Engines Reuters Health Information. It has a good Search Engine that specialises in Health issues worldwide. Swedish anti-biotech info service this article covering Bio-Diversity Supreme Court Index. Another excellent tool for information when needed Another good source of info from G.P on NEWS G/E CNN article about the 300,000 Vietnamese children Chemical War Victims from the Vietnam War. Monsanto as one of the makers of Agent Orange(Dioxin) have not paid out compensation owing to the Constitutional Protection they received from the US Government. I myself accessed this article when the picture of the vietnamese child Thoa was included who suffers from skin cancers(I HAVE COPIES) IT HAS BEEN the same time as g/e soya arrived in Europe. WHY? Good article about Intellectual Property Rights. Reuters News Service has good Search engine to browse for up to date news. From those Loveable Folks At Monsanto Homepage. Gives a bit of an insite into their sordid world. Interesting Triple selection of Web pages from G.P and on the opposing sides Monsanto and Soya Growers. Sustainable Agriculture. Converse with an expert on soya politics Combined pages for growers and exporters of Soya .(US) Organic Farmers Marketing Association website - place for organic farmers and suppliers to connect. Vegetarian Society on Gen/Eng Earth First (Devon)Good articles on G/E Earth First again with an excellent article about the cauliflower mosaic virus. CNN Searcher. Good source of material available on health, enviroment politics etc worldwide. Transgenic animals available for research To order your transgenic animals for research purposes etc heres the place. Earth First Toxic Mutants etc. Pure Food Campaign Homepage Excellent campaign from Ronnie Cummins and compadre's, old adversaries of Genetic Engineering. Another US News Service but priceless to guage things US Natural Law Party. Well presented auguments on all issues pertaining to the struggle. John Fagan, one of the leading speakers on things GMO ACRE Information releases. Euro/British Legislation Codex. Very important issues decided by this commitee appointed by GATT AND WTO to overseer the introduction of G/E foods Department of the Enviroment Our very own Eco Warrior Force. Mothers for Natural Law Succesful group of concerned mothers instrumental in many campaign endeavors. Enviromental Protection Agency... The place to check on Legislation and press releases in US of EPA Part of Unido Last but by no means least RTS! Corperate watch, great team of enviromentalists Rachels hazardous waste homepage. ASEED is a Euro-group involved in g/e and other enviro issues Euro/Paliament news releases Judy Kew and Friends enviro network Paul Mobbs English enviro issues including g/e UK dep/trade industry bioguide Super heroes against genetics UK soil association (Organics ) RAFI IS A THIRD NETWORK working against unfair patenting and bio-piracy Europarliament news Religious Alliance for Bio-Integrity Gentech newslist..good old friends in Germany. WWW VERSIONS John Rose Englishman campaigning on g/e Pesticides Action Network. Organic poll web pages..make your mark. Eugenics watch. UK and USA.

Sender: jim mcnulty Subject: List of Bookmarks for WWW.

Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN) Web page up and running!

It took us a little while before we finally got down to it, but as of today the WEB page of Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN) is up and running. For the moment we kept it simple and straightforward. You will find all articles that appeared in Seedling during the past three years, the most important briefings and ad hoc publications we have been publishing during the last year or two, as well as the first two issues of the new 'Biodiversity and Trade in conflict' series we are co-publishing.

While the site is still under construction (we're planning a latest news section, links to other sites, and a section for Spanish and French materials, amongst other things), we did not want to withhold it from you any longer. Have a look and let us know what you think.

The address:

Date: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 09:46:03 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Thanks to MichaelP for posting this:

Organic farmer loses crop fight

By Mark Henderson, London Times July 22 1998

A Leading organic farmer yesterday lost a Court of Appeal action to stop trials of genetically modified sweetcorn on land next to his farm.

Three judges ruled unanimously that they had no authority to order the destruction of the modified crop, despite finding that the Government had disregarded seed trial laws when approving the experiment at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany's site in Hood Barton, Devon. Lord Justice Simon Brown, sitting with Lord Justice Judge and Lord Justice Buxton, found that regulations requiring two preliminary tests before a modified seed was approved for trial had been systematically broken since 1995. Although the Hood Barton trial was thus illegal, it could not be destroyed as it posed no significant risk to the environment, health or safety.

Guy Watson, who has for 15 years grown organic sweetcorn on his farm, had argued that the altered crop could cross-pollinate with his and jeopardise accreditation from the Soil Association.

Date: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 09:46:03 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Thanks to MichaelP for posting this:

UK: Public Funding For Cloning Resaerch Is Accelerating

By Dan Atkinson, The Guardian (UK) Tuesday 21st July 98.

Public funding for cloning resaerch in Britain is accelerating despite the continued heated debate over ethics.

According to new figures, the Department of Trade and Industry is speding nearly £3m a year on cloning work, in order to keep Britain ahead in this controversial field. Among the projects aided by the DTI are one 'to establish techniques for producing genetically identical cattle', and another researchung into the genetic manipulation of poultry'.

The lion's share of the DTI funding goes to the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh, birth place of Dolly, the cloned sheep presented to the world in early 1997. Roslin was given £2.3m in that year, rising to £2.5m in 97-98 and £2.6m in 98-98.

The figures were unearthed after a Parliamentary question by Lord Alton who said these were 'staggering sums'.

The former Liberal MP David Alton said 'to commit huge amounts of public money in advance of any ethical debate is intolerable'.

Message from Martin Oliver at

GE-Free Liquid Lecithin Is Available In The US


100 Church St
New York, NY 10007-2682

PH: +1 212 349 0869 FAX: +1 212 267 4265

This might be useful information to pass on to US chocolate co's, especially those making organic chocolate where the lecithin is likely to be GE.

Date: Sat, 18 Jul 1998 09:46:03 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Business Foes Of Biotech Crops Seek More Rules

By Robert Steyer of the Post-Dispatch, Saturday, July 18, 1998

They want more labeling of food and broader government monitoring.

An international collection of genetic engineering opponents gathered here Friday near the epicenter of crop biotechnology, contending that the emerging science benefits corporations rather than consumers and farmers.

"There's nothing wrong with the food we've got now," said Ricarda Steinbrecher, a genetic scientist and member of the Women's Environmental Network in Great Britain.

She was joined by critics from Ireland and Japan, and from St. Louis and other U.S. cities, in calling for more labeling of food derived from genetic engineering. They also want more government monitoring of crop biotechnology.

"There's a tremendous amount of control in this one company (Monsanto Co.) and others like it over our food supply," said Brian Tokar, one of the speakers at the beginning of a three-day conference held at Fontbonne College in Clayton.

"We need a powerful political movement to counter the claims of the biotechnology industry," said Tokar, a professor of social ecology at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt., speaking to approximately 120 conference participants.

The conference is billed as the First Grassroots Gathering on Biodevastation. Monsanto, the world leader in crop biotechnology, was the speakers' prime target.

They said their concerns go beyond the research of one company. They are worried about governments and politicians, too.

"We are at the crossroads of history with one road (leading to) Monsanto and multinational corporations and industrial agriculture," said Ronnie Cummins, campaign director of the Pure Food Campaign, one of the oldest anti-biotechnology groups.

The other road, Cummins said, is toward organic farming and other "sustainable agriculture" practices aimed at reducing the impact of chemistry, biotechnology and heavy plowing on farmland.

Cummins and other speakers lamented that U.S. consumers haven't mounted the kind of strong opposition to biotechnology that their European counterparts have.

"If we don't organize a mass movement to go down the other road (of sustainable agriculture), in 30 years the next generation is going to curse us," Cummins said.

"Here, the discussion (of biotechnology) is practically non-existent," added Barbara Chicherio, a St. Louis area social worker and member of The Greens/Green Party USA. "We need a clear-cut strategy to make sure corporations don't control our food supply."

Date: Fri, 24 Jul 1998 10:34:37 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Court decision throws seed trials into chaos

By John Mason, Law Courts Correspondent, Financial Times (London) July 22, 1998

The future for trials of genetically modified food seeds in the UK was thrown into confusion yesterday after the Court of Appeal insisted the government should enforce regulations it admitted breaching to allow the tests to go ahead.

During a legal action brought by an organic farmer against trials of genetically modified maize being carried out on adjacent land, the government admitted breaking its own seed trials rules. The court rejected Guy Watson's application for a judicial review of the decision allowing the trial. But it described as "remarkable and regrettable" the agriculture ministry's admission it had breached its own regulations.

The court's ruling, insisting the government enforce the regulations until they are changed, appeared to throw the future of seed-trials into doubt. Some 1,200 trials in the UK involving 500 plant varieties could be affected, the court heard.

The effect on the bio-technology industry was unclear. The Soil Association, the regulatory organisation for organic farming, which backed Mr Watson's case, said the ruling could put back the introduction of genetically modified crops by two years.

Date: Mon, 27 Jul 1998 12:48:35 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Canada: Food scientist silenced by FEDS

By Stephanie Power
Reprinted from:
Capital City Vol. 1, Issue 13
July 16-22, 1998, Ottawa, Canada

FEDS Shut Scientist Down

Biotechnology: Health Canada expert Shiv Chopra was set to speak about food safety at a local community meeting until the government said no way

Adding to a climate of uncertainty around genetic engineering of foods, the government scientist who was supposed to speak at a recent public meeting on the issue was told by Health Canada to bow out or face the consequences.

Dr. Shiv Chopra was told July 13 that he couldn't speak at "What are We Eating? An Introduction to Genetic Engineering and Your Food" scheduled for that night at the YM-YWCA on Argyle.

Chopra was given written notice from his director, Dr. André Lachance, that he could face "disciplinary action" if he appeared at the event sponsored by Ottawa's Public Working Group on Food Concerns and the Rural Advancement Foundation International.

Chopra's name had appeared among a list of speakers advertised around Ottawa prior to the meeting. Lachance wrote that Chopra had not been given permission to speak and could be placing himself in an awkward position if he expressed opinions that differed from the department's.

And underneath what may appear as a run of the mill public service regulation, lies a recent history of public dissent from Chopra and other scientists at Health Canada who claim public safety is being jeopardized by a department whose puppet strings are being controlled by large biotech corporations and their tasty grants.

Ignoring scientists That was Dr. Chopra's message when he appeared with fellow Health Canada scientist Dr. Margaret Haydon on Canada AM, June 11. They stated that Health Canada administrators were disregarding scientists' recommendations to withhold approval for drugs, thus endangering public safety.

When asked why there was pressure to approve drugs so quickly, Chopra told the reporter "Well, what do you think? Money. For multinational companies that produce those things."

Chopra received an official reprimand from Health Canada for appearing on Canada AM and is reticent to speak on the record now, for fear of further consequences.

But scientist Dr. Richard Wolfson, one of the meeting's organizers, calls the action by Health Canada a "gag order."

"He's not able to tell the public what he knows as an expert because Health Canada says he can't speak in public except if he gets what he says cleared ahead of time, so that they know that he's not saying anything outside of the party line, " says Wolfson.

Robert Joubert, Health Canada's Director General of Human Resources, says if the department had been approached for a speaker, they would have found someone who could present information on genetic engineering in a "knowledgeable, fair and unbiased fashion."

"It's Health Canada's decision who is going to speak for Health Canada We are of the opinion that Dr. Chopra was not the best person to do that," says Joubert.

But at the July 13 meeting, Wolfson's announcement that Chopra had been ordered not to appear, inflamed the anxiousness of a crowd already concerned that information about what they and their families are eating is being kept from them.

Sufficient testing About 65 people attended the meeting organized by Wolfson and Carleton Political Economy student Lucy Sharratt. The discussion centred on the concern that the long term health effects of genetically altered plants have not been tested sufficiently and that genetically altered foods are not labeled in Canadian stores.

Wolfson says he contacted Chopra once the meeting was organized to ask him to speak, because Chopra is knowledgeable about the testing regulations at Health Canada and because "he cares more about public safety than protecting his job.".

Chopra is one of the authors of a Health Canada report on the hazards of the Bovine Growth Hormone intended for use as a milk production stimulant.

This local scenario is unfolding amid a growing international movement against the genetic engineering of food, which has seen Prince Charles speak publicly about how we should not attempt to play god by crossing plant species.

Wolfson says he too is concerned that the long term effects of genetically altered foods aren't known and aren't being tested. Labels, he says, at least act as a warning to those who want to avoid the risk.

"When you label it, it means people can choose whether or not they want to eat it," says Wolfson.

"Our main position is, it should be tested before it's put on the shelf and it should be labeled so people can choose, otherwise, we're all, in effect guinea pigs in an experiment and we're not even allowed to decide whether we want to participate."

Update regarding Dr. Shiv Chopra Scientific Evaluator for Health Canada

Press Release, July 25, 1998
500 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N2

You may recall that on July 13, Dr. Shiv Chopra received a gag order from his department preventing him from speaking at a public information session that evening, on the topic of genetically engineered food.

On Friday July 24, Dr. Chopra filed a grievance with Health Canada, asking that this restriction to his freedom of speech be removed. The grievance also requested that the reprimand that he received earlier for expressing his views in the media about the safety of products coming on the market be removed.

Health Canada has 25 days to respond to this grievance. If they do not respond in that time, the case may be taken to the federal courts.

Other recent developments

Several Health Canada scientists, including Dr. Chopra, authored an internal Health Canada report about the human safety hazards of genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), which is injected into cows to increase milk production.

A subcommittee of the Canadian Senate, which is investigating human safety issues resulting from administration of rBGH to cows, recently requested a copy of this report from Health Canada management. However, the Senate has been refused a copy of this report. Under the circumstances, the Senate is considering to subpoena the report in September upon their return from the summer recess.

In the meantime, pressure has been applied to get rBGH approved in Canada, ignoring internal recommendations by scientists in Health Canada not to approve the hormone

Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 10:18:06 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

forwarded from: Judy Kew,

The First "No GE Ingredients" Labeled Product In the US

Hain's Bearitos Corn Chips bears a white circle saying "NO Genetically Engineered Ingredients."

A red ring around it says "PURE FOOD" at the top of the ring and at the bottom. The label is at the bottom right of the front of the package. A bear with a red kerchief and a cup appears to be pointing out the label.

On the back is a smaller version along with more information: "WHAT OUR PURE FOOD SYMBOL MEANS TO YOU

This is our assurance to you that Bearitos Tortilla Chips do not contain ingredients that have been genetically engineered. Although GEOs, genetically engineered organisms, may have been part of our meals for the past 20 years, we believe that those food products need to be labeled so that consumers may make a choice. For a pamphlet about GEOs, please send a SASE to: Hain GEO Info, P.O. Box 48006, Gardena, CA 90248

Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 10:18:06 -0500
From allsorts

Incredible edibles

By Andrew Nikiforuk, Canadian Business July 24, 1998, Pg. 18

When more than 30 federally approved, genetically engineered goodies --including bug-proof corn and even herbicide-resistant soybeans -- hit Canadian supermarket shelves in record quantities this fall, you'd think they would come with clear biotech labels. Choice, after all, is the lifeblood of a free market, and corn and soybeans just happen to appear in nearly 60% of all foodstuffs.

Well, think again. The Canadian government and most biotech firms apparently fear choice as much as they do plain labels that read: "This product may contain genetically modified organisms." Engineered crops, they argue, taste the same as stuff that hasn't been tampered with. And it's impossible, they contend, to segregate engineered from nonengineered crops. So consumers be damned.

Fortunately, markets have their ways. In Europe, choice- conscious retailers have simply taken labelling into their own hands, while an increasing number of North Americans are opting for organic veggies. If irradiated food can have an honest label -- the Radura -- then why not transgenic munchies?

Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 10:18:06 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

India: Biotech Firms Sow Seeds Of Discord

OTC 16.07.98

NEW DELHI, Jul 15 IPS - India's agriculture scientists are hunting for the 'Terminator,' a gene developed by U.S biotechnologists, which they say threatens the livelihood of 400 million farmers and food security in this country.

"We will not allow the Terminator to enter this country," Dr. R.S. Paroda, director-general of the prestigious Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) told IPS. But Dr. Paroda admitted that there is no reliable way of ensuring that the gene which 'self-destructs' does not sneak past the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources which is charged with the job of analyzing seed samples that enter the country.

Scientists here fear that if it infiltrates the porous quarantine system, uncontrolled cross-pollination could kill off India's famed millennia-old cereal varieties such as the long- grained, aromatic 'Basmati' rice, already under attack by biopirates. Plant biotechnology project-director at ICAR, Dr. R.P. Sharma said there is no telling what havoc Terminator can wreak as yet. "We will have to estimate its dispersal by studying pollen characteristics -- meanwhile this country should not accept this technology or allow it past the borders," he said.

Developed and patented by the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) jointly with one of the world's largest seed transnationals (TNCs), Delta and Pine Land Inc., Terminator will ensure that farmers buy seed afresh rather than set part of their harvest aside for sowing.

"The seeds may give a good crop in the first year of sowing but farmers who try to store crops for replanting will find that they are sterile -- and this will make them completely dependent on seed companies," Sharma said.

Such a development spells doom for Indian farmers who mostly cultivate small plots of land averaging one acre in size. Also the thousands of crop varieties they have developed with their genius will give way to monocultures promoted by U.S seed giants.

Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 10:18:06 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Geneticists are using patents to own the mark they make

By Sharon Schmickle, Minneapolis Star-Tribune Wednesday, July 22, 1998

The blueprint for the future of food and medicine is taking shape at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where rights have been claimed to more than 1,800 genes and a veritable zoo of genetically altered animals: 85 mice, three rats, three rabbits, a sheep, a nematode, a bird, a fish, a pig, a guinea pig, an abalone and a cow.

Few scientific discoveries have provoked debate as deep as the soul-searching over patenting the genetic basis of life and the forms that emerge from genetic combinations.

Scientists cast their genetic creations as the latest example of medical and agricultural enterprise that Congress intended to encourage when it created the patent office in 1802. Their detractors argue that shattering nature's genetic barriers is so profoundly different from previous inventions that it calls for rethinking the rights a patent conveys.

The latest flap is over an application filed in December to patent a process for making chimeras that are part human, part animal. It was filed by biotechnology critics in an attempt to block the technology or to force changes in patent procedures.

The chimera application crystallizes many of the conflicts embedded in the patent debate. First, it requests a patent for something that blurs the lines between species. And in doing so, it challenges the very notion of patenting life forms.

The patent office, which has yet to rule on the application, responded in April with an advisory saying that it can't issue a patent for an invention "of incredible or specious utility," or one deemed to flout the "good morals" of society.

"There are people who want to try to sensationalize this work and give the impression that we are about to commercialize technologies that most people would find very frightening: That we are going to see monsters walking around on the streets of Minneapolis that will be owned by some giant corporation like something out of a science fiction story, the Frankenstein kind of a thing," Bruce Lehman, commissioner of patents and trademarks, said in an interview this month.

Whether or not the application is found to be valid, it does push the question of what constitutes a modern-day monster and what meets a "good morals" standard.

Inventing animals

The patent office already has approved animal inventions with at least minuscule human parts -- for example, mice given genes related to human diseases for research purposes. Now, researchers in Minnesota and elsewhere talk routinely about plans to tailor pigs, sheep and cows to make organs and medicine for humans.

As the notion of intermingling species has become more acceptable, the debate has moved beyond Frankenstein fears. Animal-rights advocates, for example, argue that it's immoral to create and patent genetically diseased animals for research.

Another argument revolves around the right to hold a patent on the fundamental elements of life. It's one thing to learn that scientists have identified genes that play a role in breast cancer and may use that information to save lives. It's quite another to see companies battling in court over the right to commercially exploit the genes.

Under U.S. law, once genes with known functions are isolated, they can be patented if they have potential applications such as treating diseases or creating products. A patent holder can exclude others from using the invention for 20 years unless permission is granted, often in exchange for royalties.

Speculators aren't supposed to be able to stake patent claims on genes without a specific purpose, but the intended application can be theoretical rather than immediately practical. And if a different use arises in the future, the patent covers that as well.

University of Minnesota bioethicist Jeffrey Kahn offers this advice for sorting through the debate: The patent system was intended to encourage invention that serves the common good. So the basic questions are whether the inventions of biotechnology will improve life and at what cost. And the next question is whether granting patents truly encourages invention or instead empowers a few patent holders to block others from researching potentially beneficial technology.

While biotechnology patenting has moved apace in the United States during the 1990s, the European Parliament did not allow such patenting until May. And rules in Europe are more restrictive than those in the United States.

The intensity of Europe's debate was reflected in a recent article that Prince Charles wrote for London's Daily Telegraph. He said genetic engineering "takes mankind into realms that belong to God and God alone." He expressed concern over potential unknown consequences for human health and the environment: "If something does go badly wrong, we will be faced with the problem of clearing up a kind of pollution which is self-perpetuating. I am not convinced that anyone has the first idea of how this could be done."

Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 10:18:06 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Genetic Engineering on Trees

July 25, 1998 Pg. 77 The Economist

Gone is the forest primeval Trees are the next target of genetic engineers IF YOU go down to the woods today, you could be in for a big surprise. But not because of a mere teddy bears' picnic. Instead, you may meet high-tech trees genetically modified to speed their growth or improve the quality of their wood that are at last coming out of greenhouses and into forests around the world. Genetically -engineered food crops such as soya have become increasingly common, albeit controversial, over the past ten years. But genetic tweaking of trees has lagged behind.

Part of the reason is technical. Understanding, and then altering, the genes of a big pine tree is more complex than creating a better tomato. While tomatoes sprout happily, and rapidly, in the laboratory, growing a whole tree from a single, genetically altered cell in a test tube is a tricky process that takes years, not months. Moreover, little is known about tree genes. Some trees, such as pine, have a lot of DNAxroughly ten times as much as humans. And, whereas the Human Genome Project is more than half-way through its task of isolating and sequencing the estimated 100,000 genes in human cells, similar efforts to analyse tree genes are still just saplings.

But genetic engineering of trees has been slow to grow for another reason: money. Ron Sederoff, director of the Forest Biotechnology group at North Carolina State University and head of a research consortium supported by a dozen firms interested in genetically -engineered trees, points out that, so long as logging companies still had plenty of rich pickings in the world's forests, investing in expensive technology to improve tree quality was a luxury. Now the rich pickings are gone. International demand for wood has grown 36% in the past 25 years and is now a $400 billion business, according to a report on the world's forests published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation last year. This puts pressure on commercial tree plantations; and there are fewer virgin forests left to cut. Hence a new enthusiasm for manipulating the genetics of trees, especially of commercially valuable species.

Given the large number of tree genes and the little that is known about them, tree engineers are starting where other gene wizards have started before them: with a search for genetic "markers". The first step is to isolate DNA from trees with desirable properties such as insect resistance. The next step is to find stretches of DNAxnot necessarily in the genes themselves, since this is such a time-consuming process, but in surrogatesxthat show the presence of a particular gene. Then, when you mate two trees with different desirable properties, it is simple to check which offspring contain them all by looking for the genetic markers.

One firm putting this to use is ForBio, based in Brisbane, Australia. So far, its scientists have identified 600 genetic markers in ten species of eucalyptus, acacia and melaleuca, a temperate tree prized for its oils. The company then breeds trees together to combine such things as salt tolerance and wood quality in a single plant. ForBio hopes to have 10m of its enhanced trees growing around the world within two years; it already has fast-growing eucalyptus in Indonesian plantations and hopes to get approval to plant its first crop of salt- tolerant trees in Australia's Murray Darling Basin, once rich agricultural land that is "salting up" due to a rising water table.

Henry Amerson, also at North Carolina State University, is using genetic markers too, this time to breed fungal resistance into southern pines such as the loblolly. Billions of these are grown across America for pulp and paper, and outbreaks of disease are expensive. One common nasty is fusiform rust disease, which causes branches to break in the wind; but not all individual trees are susceptible. Dr Amerson's group has found markers that distinguish fungus-resistant stock from disease- prone trees. Using traditional breeding techniques, they are introducing the resistance genes into pines on test sites in America.

The main advantage of using genetic markers is that it speeds up old-fashioned breeding methods, because you no longer have to wait for the tree to grow up to see if it has the desired traits. But it is not really genetic engineering; it is more a sophisticated form of selective breeding. Now, however, interest in genetic tinkering is also gaining ground. To this end, Dr Amerson and his colleagues are taking part in the Pine Gene Discovery Project, an initiative to identify and sequence the 50,000-odd genes in the pine tree's genome. (Trees generally have fewer genes, but more DNA than humans.) Knowing which gene does what should make it easier to know what to alter. Enough is already known for some fiddling to start. Royal Dutch/Shell has genetically engineered eucalyptus to produce a different type of lignin, the molecular glue that holds wood fibres together. The oil multinational hopes its improved trees, now growing in test sites in Uruguay and Chile, will prove a boon to the pulp and paper industry. Removing lignin is one of the messiest bits of pulp production.

At the Canadian Forest Service's Laurentian Forestry Centre in Sainte Foy, in Quebec, Armand Seguin and his colleagues are trying genetic engineering to improve pest resistance in trees. Dr Seguin is introducing modified insect genes into white pine cells in the laboratory. The genes in question make anti- microbial proteinsxand so far, the cells seem to be shielded from some natural fungal predators. The Quebec group is now waiting to see if the fully grown trees will be equally protected.

As with the introduction of any exotic organism into a new environment, there are worries about the impact on the rest of the ecosystem. Some conservationists are cautiously enthusiastic about the new trees, reckoning that it is better that they be cultivated than that the last stands of virgin forest be felled. Moreover, companies such as ForBio are working on ways to ensure that their new trees will be sterile and unable to spread their new genes to the natives. Yet there have been huge arguments, notably between America and the European Union, over other genetically modified organisms. So the Laurentian Forestry Centre is also developing methods to test for the transfer of DNA from modified trees into other species, especially to useful bacteria and fungi in the surrounding soil. Trees are in the ground for years, rather than farm crops' months. That makes it more vital for local residents to keep to themselves. But teddies are less likely to protest about trees than Europeans are about genetically modified food.

Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 10:18:06 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Thanks to MichaelP for posting this:

Growth of Organic Food Industry

Bibi van der Zee reports, Guardian (London) July 29, 1998

Organic-food prices look set to tumble as supplies increase and farmers queue to join the government scheme to turn green.

The price of organic food looks set to drop as the number of farmers applying to go green hits record levels.

Organic food is finally becoming big business, after 50 years in the crank club. Nearly 140 applications have been received so far this year by the Ministry of Agriculture from farmers wanting to join the Organic Aid Scheme. There are 445 organic farmers in England and Wales.

Prices for organic food have been higher than for non-organic food partly because demand far outstrips supply, according to Dr Younie, the organic specialist at the Scottish Agricultural College.

Production costs and the expense of converting to organic farming will play a less significant part in the pricing as more produce comes on the market. He reports a fourfold increase in the number of inquiries from Scottish farmers wanting to go organic. "As the supply increases prices are bound to come down," he says.

The rapidly growing demand for organically grown fruit, veg, meat and dairy products has been noticed by supermarkets.


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:

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