Genetically Manipulated Food News

11 October 98

Table of Contents

GREED OR NEED? Genetically modified crops
We don't get respect: government scientists
Hain Food Group Labels Products As Non-Genetically Engineered
Monsanto sets lawyers on unlicensed GM grower
Pirates Of The Soybeans
Low-Yielding Bt cotton in Arkansas
EPA Requires Large Refuges
Third Global Days of Action Against Genetic Engineering
Genetic Crops May Be Banned...
EU committee rejects Dutch gene-altered potato
You say Tomato, I say IGF-1
Greece Bans Imports Of Ge Rapeseed (canola)
Health Canada Scientist Receives Gag Order
Report on rBGH Suppressed
A Call for Moratorium on Herbicide-Resistant Crops
First Grassroots Gathering on Biodevastation
UK Court Decision Throws Seed Trials into Chaos
Beware of Canadian GE Canola
Feeding the World - or Global Disaster

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Date: Sat, 3 Oct 1998 11:45:51 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson

(Thanks to MichaelP for posting this)

GREED OR NEED? Genetically modified crops

from the PANOS INSTITUTE - an excellent article on genetic engineering on their website

TABLE OF CONTENTS (of the website)


Key Facts









(end of contents)

Thanks to "NLP Wessex" for forwarding this article.

We don't get respect: government scientists

By Barry Wilson, Ottawa bureau
Canadian Agricultural Journal, "The Western Producer Sept. 24, 1998

As six Health Canada scientists went public last week with complaints that their safety concerns about a growth hormone for dairy cows were being suppressed, lobby groups called for a public inquiry into how the government assesses drug and food safety.

"We feel the health protection branch is now working for the interest of their business clients with new products rather than the safety of Canadians," Elizabeth May of the Sierra Club of Canada told a news conference last week.

She said the next drug expected to fit the pattern is a Monsanto-produced bovine somatrotropin, which has been under study by Health Canada for most of the past decade.

"We believe they are on the verge of approving it, despite very strong reservations by some of their own scientists," she said. "This will put Canadians at risk and should be investigated."

Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, an anti-free trade lobby, told the news conference it is a sign of the "corporatization" of government that has followed the free trade deal.

"The department's scientists are forced to approve drugs not safe for human and animal consumption," she said. "This is the corporatization of the government of Canada's health protection branch."

May produced minutes taken at a meeting of the department's BST review committee last year during, which it was reported that when tests were being done in the United States before the BST hormone was approved there five years ago, more than 20 percent of male rats given high doses of the drug developed thyroid cysts.

Departmental scientist Shiv Chopra said these results should have prompted more studies, rather than American approval.

It was noted that Monsanto thought those results too limited to be meaningful and Canada has not pursued further study.

Last week, Chopra was one of six scientists at a Public Service Staff Relations Board hearing, complaining that their professional work and opinions were being overruled by bosses who see their job as getting corporate products onto the market and promoting Canada as a good country for corporate investment.

He told the hearing that when scientists have raised safety questions about some products, they have been ignored or chastised, in some cases told their careers could be hurt if they continue to oppose.

The scientists have been ordered by Health Canada to not talk publicly about their complaints. The PSSRB hearing was the first time they could make their case without violating the order. A ruling on their grievance is expected within the next month.

The government has said it is an issue of conflicting opinions and union-management squabbling.

The scientists said it is more than that. Several years ago, they said, a beef cattle growth hormone was approved over the objections of three scientists who had concerns about its health implications.

In Mississauga, at Monsanto's Canadian headquarters, vice-president Ray Mowling said he has heard all these criticisms and allegations before. He and the company stand behind the scientific studies that have said the BST product is safe and effective.

"We're confident in the science," he said. "We think this process in Ottawa should be science-based and if it is, the product will be approved. Then, we realize we have a lot of work to do with the industry to have it introduced and accepted commercially."

Mowling said results from the U.S. prove the product is effective in increasing milk production in dairy herds, and is accepted by consumers and farmers when it is available.

He said he has no evidence the BST product will receive approval soon: "We can only hope."

He denied Monsanto has been exercising undue influence within Health Canada to have the product approved.

"It has been under review for more than eight years. This is undue influence?"

Health Canada has commissioned reports from a committees of physicians and veterinarians to assess human and animal health risks. Those reports are expected this autumn. However, the department has set no deadline for when a decision on BST will be made. Senate hearings on the issue are planned for later this autumn.

Thanks to Craig Winters for posting the following article from the Natural Foods Merchandiser, October 1998 issue

Note from Craig Winters: Natural Foods Merchandiser is the leading trade publication of the natural foods industry. The publisher also produces the largest trade show in the industry called the Natural Products Expo. Natural Food Merchandiser's web site:

Hain Food Group Labels Products As Non-Genetically Engineered

by Kim Stewart, Natural Foods Merchandiser, October 1998

UNIONDALE, N.Y.-Hain Food Group (NASDAQ: HAIN) is setting an industry wide precedent by labeling some of its products as free of genetically engineered organisms (GEO). The products have a "Pure Food" label and are part of the company's message, "Just Say No To GEOs."

Although the government does not mandate the labeling of GEOs, Hain Food Group wants to raise consumer awareness about the issue. "We feel the issues surrounding genetically engineered ingredients are as important as anything that has come down the pike in years," said Andrew Jacobson, president of Hain's Natural Food Division. "We feel that we should provide consumers with as much information as we can."

Jacobson says the idea for the label came from consumers. "We have had a tremendous amount of consumer letters and phone calls on GEOs and we would like to show consumers that we are listening."

Jacobson isn't worried that other companies will start testing and labeling other products as non-GEO. "This idea is really a part of the natural products culture," he said. However "since there is no standard yet for this type of labeling, we hope that others who try this will take the time, as we have, and do it responsibly and credibly."

The products that include the Pure Food Label are Bearitos® White and Blue Tortilla Chips and Corn Chips. Non-genetically modified popcorn will be available to retailers soon.

The following report was sent out in the Sun, 04 Oct 1998 genetics newsletter Their reference is the Farmers Weekly Website (Contact for more info)

Monsanto sets lawyers on unlicensed GM grower

01 October 1998

BIOTECHNOLOGY giant Monsanto is taking legal action against a Canadian farmer who, it claims, grew and sold genetically modified (GM) canola last year without a licence from the firm.

Monsanto also maintains that Percy Schmeiser, of Bruno, Saskatchewan, saved seed from his first crop and planted it this season. In legal documents submitted to back its claim, Monsanto says Mr Schmeiser infringed its patent on the canola, which is modified to resist the herbicide glyphosate.

According to a report in Canadian farm journal The Western Producer, Monsanto wants all Mr Schmeiser's profits from the crops, as well as punitive damages. Under a technology use agreement, producers are supposed to grow just one crop with the GM seed they buy and not save seed for subsequent years. Ray Mowling, vice-president of Monsanto, Canada, hoped the matter could be settled without going to court. He added that there had been cases where farmers had signed the agreement and then saved some seed, but those had been resolved without legal action.

The report added that, according to Tony Zatylny, vice-president for crop production at the Canola Council of Canada, if Mr Schmeiser's case does reach court, and the judge rules in his favour, Monsanto would have great difficulty enforcing user agreements in future.

Date: Mon, 5 Oct 1998 17:48:18 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson

Pirates Of The Soybeans

Sunday Journal-Register, Springfield, Illinois
October 4 , 1998

A Christian County farmer will pay Monsanto $10,000 for pirating Roundup Ready soybeans.

Since bringing its much-heralded Roundup Ready soybeans onto the market, the St. Louis biotech giant has loudly and aggressively pursued farmers who violate patents by saving and replanting seed. Those efforts have expanded as Roundup Ready technology is already well on the way to dominating the soybean market and Roundup Ready corn was planted commercially for the first time this year.

The company last week released information about several seed piracy cases pursued by the company, including the Christian County settlement, but would give no further information. "We're using these as examples at this stage," said Monstanto spokeswoman Karen Marshall.

Elsewhere in Illinois, a father and son from Edwards County agreed to pay $15,000 fro replanting seeds.

Monstanto named only one soybean grower, David Chaney of Reed, Ky., whose settlement included a $35,000 royalty. He admitted to saving Roundup Ready soybeans, replanting some and trading some to neighbors.

Monstanto may inspect all the property and production records of Chaney and the others involved for five years. Chaney did not sign an invoice statement at the time of purchase but was nonetheless liable, apparently due to patent violations.

Date: Mon, 5 Oct 1998 17:48:18 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson

The next two articles are from The Gene Exchange which is put out by the Union of Concerned Scientists (USA) email A Public Voice on Biotechnology and Agriculture

Low-Yielding Bt cotton in Arkansas

According to the April 1998 Cotton Grower, Bt-cotton growers in Arkansas had less than a banner year last season. A University of Arkansas study of several Bt and non-Bt cotton fields showed that on average Bt cotton yielded fewer pounds and lower income per acre. One farm showed a remarkable difference in yield--Bt cotton produced 168 fewer pounds per acre than the non-Bt variety. Bt cotton, on the farms studied, yielded an average of 24 fewer pounds per acre. Also, the new varieties required more growth regulator to synchronize plant development and had to be picked twice at harvest. Non-Bt cotton is typically picked only once.

Date: Mon, 5 Oct 1998 17:48:18 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson

The next two articles are from The Gene Exchange which is put out by the Union of Concerned Scientists (USA) email A Public Voice on Biotechnology and Agriculture

EPA Requires Large Refuges

Agency moving in right direction

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has, for the first time, conditioned Bt-corn approvals on the establishment of large refuges. The Agency's most recent approvals of Bt crops--Novartis Bt popcorn and AgrEvo's Bt field corn--include requirements that farmers plant either 40 percent or 20-30 percent of their corn acreage in refuges of non-Bt corn, depending upon whether or not they spray with insecticides. Earlier Agency approvals of several Bt-corn varieties did not require refuges of specific sizes. The refuges required for Bt cotton were only 4 percent unsprayed or 20 percent sprayed.

The new EPA requirements are similar to recommendations in UCS's report Now or Never: Serious New Plans to Save a Natural Pest Control.* UCS, and the scientists who wrote the report, recommended that 50 percent of a farmer's corn acres be planted in non-Bt-corn refuges if treated with insecticides and 25 percent if not treated.

EPA's refuge requirements follow the recommendations developed by a group of federal and university entomologists** working on resistance in corn systems. Their recommendations offer two refuge options. Farmers who prefer treating their non-Bt refuges with insecticides must establish non-Bt field corn or popcorn on at least 40 percent of their corn acreage. Farmers who choose not to spray are allowed to plant a smaller refuge. In either case, non-Bt refuges must be close to the Bt crop--within 1500-2000 feet for field corn and one-half mile for popcorn.

Non-Bt refuges are needed to delay the evolution of Bt resistance in pest populations. The refuges are havens where Bt-susceptible insects are expected to survive. By mating with Bt-resistant insects that develop on Bt corn, the susceptibles help dilute the resistance trait in the insect populations.

*To obtain Now or Never, send $14.95 plus $3 shipping/handling to UCS Publications, Two Brattle Square, Cambridge, MA 02238-9105, or phone 617-547-5552.

**The North Central Regional Technical Committee of entomologists associated with a USDA research project on the European corn borer and other pests.


EPA Pesticide fact sheets: 4/98--"Bacillus thuringiensis CryIA(b) delta-endotoxin corn" and 5/98--"Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies tolworthi Cry9C corn," OPPTS, Washington, D.C.; K. Ostlie et al., "Bt corn and European corn borer: long-term success through resistance management," NCR Pub. 602, Univ. Minn. Ext. Ser., St. Paul, 1997.

Date: Mon, 5 Oct 1998 17:48:18 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson

Third Global Days of Action Against Genetic Engineering

October 2-16, 1998

Dear Activist Friends,

The Campaign for Food Safety (formerly called the Pure Food Campaign) and activists from around the world invite you to join us and participate in the October 2-16, 1998 Global Days of Action against genetically engineered foods, life patents, and factory farming. During the weeks of Oct. 2-16, consumer, farm, animal, and public interest organizations from several dozen nations will be holding simultaneous protests, press conferences, and public education events in front of supermarkets, corporate headquarters, and government offices to strengthen the growing global campaign for sustainable agriculture and food security.

The October Global Days of Action (GDA) will be the third annual series of coordinated international actions against agricultural biotechnology and life patenting. The first two GDA generated significant media coverage and strengthened the growing global network of public interest non-governmental organizations (NGOs) concerned about food, biodiversity, and economic sustainability.

The GDA, of course, are just one of the many manifestations of a growing international challenge mounted by civil society against the "Global Biotechnocracy" of the gene engineers and the transnational corporations. Indeed in Europe nearly every day has now become a continental "Day of Action" against gene foods and crops--with boycotts, direct action, and public debate reaching unprecedented levels. In addition strong citizen campaigns continue to develop in Japan, Australia, India, and Asia--and now, finally, signs are emerging of a potential mass anti-GE movement in North America, South America, and Africa as well.

In this era of intensified economic exploitation and corporate globalization, consumers worldwide are being subjected to an increasing industrialization and contamination of the food supply and the environment. In this context, progressive, green, and democracy-minded people have no choice but to organize and campaign on a transnational basis. Isolated and fragmented, civil society is no match for Monsanto, Novartis, Hoechst/AgrEvo, Dupont, and the other giant chemical and pharmaceutical corporations. But by campaigning and organizing together on an international basis we can win the battle for a sustainable future and a global Democracy.

So let us help strengthen our "Global Biodemocracy" Movement by carrying out joint actions October 2-16, which will begin on Gandhi's birthday (Oct. 2) and culminate on World Food Day (Oct. 16). And following the example of anti-GE campaigners in Europe, let's make every day a "Global Day of Action" against genetic engineering and for sustainable and organic agricultural production.

Our GDA Clearinghouse has received word of a number of protests around the USA and the world for October 2-16. Many actions are still being planned. Here are the actions and contact people we know about so far:

North America:

New York City. On October 12, so-called "Columbus Day," there will be an anti-Genetic Engineering rally at 11:00 a.m. at the Central Park West entrance of the Natural History Museum, site of Monsanto-sponsored "Biodiversity Hall." For further information contact: Maris Abelson Tel. 212-865-8928 email

Boston. On October 15 at 11:45 a.m. New England Resistance Against Genetic Engineering (RAGE) will hold a rally in front of the Environmental Protection Agency at 1 Congress Street in downtown Boston. Among other actions, RAGE representatives will present government EPA officials with a petition to ban GE foods. For further information contact: Nancy Oden Tel. 207-434-6228 email

Philadelphia. On October 15 at noon there will be a protest demonstration in front of the Federal Building, including puppets and street theatre. For further information contact: Elizabeth Fattahipour Tel. 610-527-8882 email

Burlington, Vermont. On October 6, there will be a teach-in entitled "From Green Revolution to Gene Revolution: The Biotech Threat to Sustainable Agriculture" at the City Hall Contois auditorium. On October 9 at noon at the Church Street side of City Hall there will be a rally and march, including street theatre, costumes, and speakers. For further information contact: Brian Tokar Tel. 802-229-0836 or 802-865-0120 email

Chicago. On October 15 in Chicago at 11:30 a.m. there will be a rally in the Federal Plaza, followed by a march to the Board of Trade and the USDA office. For further information contact: Bob Rudner email

Port Townsend, Washington. There will be a Northwest US regional activist meeting on October 4 from 9 a.m. to noon on "Building a Mass Movement Against Genetic Engineering and Factory Farming" at the Provender Alliance Annual Conference. Keynote speaker will be Ronnie Cummins of the Campaign for Food Safety. For further information contact: Ronnie Cummins Tel. 218-226-4164 email

St. Louis, Missouri. Event to be announced. Contact: Don Fitz Tel. 314-240-8558 email

West Palm Beach, Florida. Event to be announced. Contact: Mary Israel Tel. 561-547-5348 email

Athens, Georgia. Event to be announced. Contact: James Powell email

Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Event to be announced. Contact: Louise Quigley Tel. 414-962-2703 email

Washington, D.C. On October 7 there will be an protest against the MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investment) sponsored by Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. Issues of genetic engineering and biopiracy will be discussed within the context of economic globalization and economic colonialism. For further information contact: Magrete Strand-Rangnes email

Ottawa, Ontario Canada. Event to be announced. Contact: Lucy Sharrat Tel. 613-235-1672 email

Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada. Event to be announced. Contact: Bob Ewing email


U.K. "GeneWeek" will include a fortnight of demonstrations, actions, and "whatever." As part of the UK GDA the group "DNA" (Diverse Nature Alert) will be presenting "Toxic Planet," a London-based interactive art-house experience that will run from Oct. 3-10. Contact Genetic Engineering Network (GEN) Tel. + (44) 181-374-9516 email

Activists in North East U.K. are also organizing an event. Contact: Tyneside Action for People & Planet (TAPP) Latest information through their web site at:

Also in U.K. a national Day of Action against the Tesco supermarket chain on Oct. 2--including stickering, trolley runs, leafletting, mutant vegetable costumes, etc. For details contact: Tel. +(44) 845-666-2834 (voicemail box 9) Website:

As mentioned earlier, nearly every day is now a GDA in Europe. For upcoming events Oct. 2-16 in the following countries contact:

Sweden. Contact: Martin Frid. Tel. +46-479-10010 email

Netherlands. Contact Stephanie Howard at ASEED. Tel. +31-20-668-2236 email

Austria. Contact Global 2000. Daniel Hausknost Tel. +(43) 181-257-300 email

Switzerland. Contact Florianne Koechlin Tel. +(41) 61-411-2634 email

Greenpeace International (all over Europe). email


A street demonstration is planned in New Delhi for Oct. 2, among other events. Contact: Vandana Shiva Tel. +(91) 11-696-8077 email


Events to be announced. Contact: Mika Iba Tel. (81) 333-27-6444 email Contact: Setsuko Yasuda email

Asia & Pacific:

Contact: Pesticide Action Network/Safe Food Campaign in Malaysia Jennifer Mourin Tel. + (60-4) 657-0271 email

If you plan to organize a joint action/press conference in your country or local area during the second Global Days of Action, please let us know.

Ronnie Cummins
Campaign for Food Safety/Organic Consumers Action
860 Highway 61, Little Marais, Minnesota 55614
Tel. 218-226-4164, Fax 218-226-4157, email:,

Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 16:02:09 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson

Genetic Crops May Be Banned...

By: Charles Arthur and Michael Mc Carthy.
The Independent (UK) Saturday 10th October 98.
(headline feature front page)

The [UK] government is considering a three year moratorium on the commercial planting of genetically modified (GM) crops in Britain.

Yesterday it summoned leaders of biotechnology companies in Britain, including the giant Monsanto corperation for talks about the voluntary code, which would delay wide-scale planting of transgenic crops until at least 2002. ...

The latest moves follow mounting concern about the possible health and enviromental effects of the new plants, which have this year been the subject of an outspoken attack by Prince Charles and attacks by protest groups that have torn up scores of plants at test sites.

Last July, English Nature called for the moratorium, arguing that the use of stronger weedkillers on crops genetically engineered to tolerate them could have a "catastrophic" effect because it could destroy other plant, bird and insect life.

Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 16:02:09 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson

Thanks to Paul Davis for posting this:

EU committee rejects Dutch gene-altered potato

BRUSSELS, Oct 8 (Reuters) - A committee of European Union scientists has, for the first time, rejected authorisation for a genetically engineered crop, the EU's executive Commission announced on Thursday.

The European Commission's Scientific Committee on Plants said it had "serious doubts" about the safety of a high-starch potato developed by the Dutch company Avebe which is resistant to the clinically important antibiotic amikacin. The committee said the risk that the crop would pass on its genetically-altered qualities to other species hod not been examined sufficiently. "Without an adequate risk assessment of the potential consequences of horizontal gene transfer from the genetically modified plants to humans, animals and the environment, the safety of the transgenic potato line cannot be fully assessed," the scientists said.

Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 16:02:09 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson

If you go to the website of the story

You can vote online whether you want/do not want genetically engineered foods.

You say Tomato, I say IGF-1

Nicholas Regush produces medical features for ABCNEWS

In his weekly column, he looks at medical trouble spots, heralds innovative achievements and analyzes health trends that may greatly influence our lives.

Fiddling on the Farm
Unlabeled, Unknown
Allergies and a Weedy Mess

There's a food revolution going on under our noses. When foods at the supermarket catch our eye, they may be trying to shout, "I have been genetically altered!" Only we would never know it.

That ripe, "real" tomato (not the usual pale, waterlogged specimen) that causes our salivary glands to twitch might be carrying genes borrowed from bacteria or a virus in order to prevent it from getting too soft too quickly. That large, smooth potato may have been genetically fixed to resist the onslaught of pesticides. That milk may have come from cows who were injected with a genetically engineered growth hormone to boost milk production. Only we would never know it.

In fact, there are now scores of foods on the shelves, particularly those containing corn and soybeans, that are the products of a mix-and-match genetic revolution that tiptoed into our lives with hardly a footprint. Forget about checking the labels. To know exactly what you're buying may one day require taking a gene detection kit to the store.

When you try to test the regular-looking cucumbers at your neighborhood genemart, you would likely find that an Arctic char gene had been inserted into the cuke to keep it from freezing.

Fiddling on the Farm

As might be expected, the purveyors of these new super foods almost promise the moon. Biotech First Marketing Principles argue that all this recombinant fiddling will give consumers quality, safety and Great Taste! and greatly improve farm productivity.

In an appeal to our humanity, I presume, former First Farmer Jimmy Carter, whose own fields are bursting with genetically engineered corn and soybean seed, recently argued that poor nations can benefit greatly from this productivity revolution.

Of course, anyone raising doubts about these wondrous new developments should be boiled in pesticide-resistant oil, right?

Look, can we just begin with a bit of proper labeling? I'd truly like to know what's in my food. If my salad is going to contain virus, insect or animal genes, please tell me about it, so that I can make a more informed choice of iceberg or radicchio. Are the bigwigs at the FDA still comatose on this issue? Or do I need to move to Europe where there is political support for some labeling?

Unlabeled, Unknown

Which brings me to the safety question. Yes, I know, I'm supposed to trust the big company scientists whose major concern is my safety. In Monsanto I Trust? Sure. And in the FDA, too, which grants fast-paced approval for short-term testing? Sure.

It needles me to know that a lot of milk products out there are laced with unlabeled BGH (bovine growth hormone), thanks to Monsanto's genetic engineering. I'm sure that farmers on this bandwagon are happy with their bigger yields, but I'm concerned about the unlabeled amount of a protein called IGF-1 (Insulinlike growth factor-1) in this BGH-treated milk. It so happens that preliminary research suggests that men with high levels of IGF-1 might be at higher risk for prostate cancer, and women for breast cancer. Since I'm not convinced, as the company claims, that IGF-1 in the milk doesn't reach body tissue because it's broken down in the digestive process, I, for one, prefer to avoid BGH-treated products. Fat chance of that, short of knocking off many of life's culinary goodies.

Allergies and a Weedy Mess

There are many more health issues associated with the cornucopia of genetically engineered foods. Take food sensitivity. Unexpected allergens can emerge from gene-recombinant technology. One study showed that soybeans containing a Brazil-nut gene could cause reactions in people sensitive to Brazil nuts. And what about the potential reaction from bacteria that enter the diet for the first time? Who really knows?

Questions also remain unanswered about the environmental harm this new technology might inflict. Will virus-resistant crops, incorporating foreign virus genes, lead to the creation of new superplant viruses that will, in turn, destroy crops? Lab studies suggest this is a reasonable concern. It's disturbing to discover how little scientific reassurance there is that this won't happen.

A recent report by Danish scientists showed that genes from canola specimens genetically modified to resist herbicides were able to be transferred to their weed relatives. These weeds - you guessed it - then became resistant to the chemical that normally killed them. This points to a potentially frightening scenario of humankind combatting a weed revolution, rather than enjoying the promised benefits of a food revolution.

If all this is too stressful to think about, why not just go food shopping, blinders on as usual, and check out the great-tasting strawberries?

Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 16:02:09 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson

Thanks to (jim mcnulty) for posting this:

Greece Bans Imports Of Ge Rapeseed (canola)

ATHENS, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation : Greece has banned the import and marketing of a genetically-altered strain of rapeseed developed by Germany's AgrEvo even though the European Union has approved its use across the bloc, Greek officials said on Monday.

thens also voted against plans to give EU-wide approval to a genetically modified maize developed by chemical firm Pioneer Companies Inc, the Greek environment ministry said in a statement made available to Reuters.

"Our country voted against this product (maize) because of reservations about possible effects on the environment and public health," the statement said.

The statement quoted deputy environment minister Theodoros Koliopanos as saying that developments in genetic engineering should be subject to exhaustive scientific research focused "with the greatest care on the possible negative effects on the environment and public health."

thens' decision to ban the oilseed produced by AgrEvo, an agrochemical joint venture between Hoechst AG and Schering AG, is the third time a government in the 15-nation EU has invoked health or environmental concerns to block gene-altered crops.

Under EU rules, member states can impose unilateral bans on health or environmental grounds but must notify, and get clearance from, the European Commission, which consults scientific advisory committees before making its decision.

The environmental group Greenpeace welcomed Athens' move.

"More and more governments are agreeing with environmental groups like Greenpeace that these transgenic crops pose a risk to public health and the environment," the organisation said in a statement.

The AgrEvo rapessed is genetically engineered to resist the herbicide BASTA, produced by AgrEvo, and carries an antibiotic resistance gene as a marker.

Date: Sun, 11 Oct 1998 13:34:15 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson: Alive Magazine Oct 98

Here are two articles from the October issue of Alive Magazine.

Also, the "GAPS Analsis" report on the hazards/safety of BGH that was described in a previous genetic engineering email has been posted by the National Farmers Union at the website


Biotech News, by Richard Wolfson, PhD

Reprinted with permission from the October 1998 issue of Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition, 7436 Fraser Park Drive, Burnaby, BC V5J 5B9

Health Canada Scientist Receives Gag Order

On Monday July 13, Shiv Chopra, PhD, a scientific evaluator in Health Canada, received a registered letter from Health Canada forbidding him to speak that evening at a public information session in Ottawa. The meeting was about genetically engineered foods.

Dr. Chopra is one of a growing number of doctors and scientists working for Health Canada who have expressed publicly their concern that Health Canada is risking the safety of consumers, for the sake of industry profit. On June 11, Dr. Chopra and Dr. Margaret Hayden, who also works in Health Canada's Bureau of Veterinary Drugs, were interviewed on CTV (Canada AM).

The scientists stated that they are being pressured by their department to approve antibiotics and hormones (such as genetically engineered bovine growth hormone or rBGH) for use in cattle, even though there are unresolved human safety concerns, such as antibiotic resistance, cancer, and other possible dangers.

Health Canada has also begun disciplinary action following this interview, preventing the scientists from expressing these concerns in public.

On Friday July 24, Dr. Chopra filed a grievance with Health Canada, asking that these restrictions to his freedom of speech be removed, along with the reprimand that he had received after speaking on CTV Canada AM. If Health Canada does not respond within 25 days, the case may be taken to the federal courts.

Date: Sun, 11 Oct 1998 13:34:15 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson: Alive Magazine Oct 98

Report on rBGH Suppressed

Several Health Canada scientists, including Dr. Chopra, authored a recent internal Health Canada report about the human safety hazards of rBGH. A subcommittee of the Canadian Senate investigating the safety of rBGH requested a copy of this report from Health Canada management, and were refused. The Senate may subpoena the report.

Date: Sun, 11 Oct 1998 13:34:15 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson: Alive Magazine Oct 98

A Call for Moratorium on Herbicide-Resistant Crops

The government's wildlife advisers in UK have called for a five-year ban on the commercial growing of herbicide-resistant crops. Scientists fear that while the biotech crops will be able to withstand the herbicides, the weeds around them that are part of the food chain for insects and birds will be eliminated. Birds that feed on the insects and seeds may be wiped out.

Date: Sun, 11 Oct 1998 13:34:15 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson: Alive Magazine Oct 98

First Grassroots Gathering on Biodevastation

The First Grassroots Gathering on Biodevastation took place July 17-19, 1998 in Saint Louis, Missouri, the home of the biotech giant Monsanto. There were over 120 conference participants from Europe, Asia, and North America.

The conference was organized by the local Green Party (Gateway Greens) and the Edmonds Institute. International environmental activists at the conference included Dr. Vandana Shiva from India, Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher from UK, and Brewster Kneen from the Canadian Environmental Network.

Participants emphasized that genetic engineering was primarily for financial gain for the biotech industry, and does not serve the interests of the public.

Mr. Kneen said a panel of four women scientists (Ms. Steinbrecher, Martha Crouch from Indiana, Elaine Ingham from Oregon, and Sonia Shmitz from Vermont) was a highlight of the conference. One by one, the women told their personal stories of why they had broken ranks with their professional colleagues and what their particular critique was of biotechnology.

"I have to keep wondering if there are not at least a few men somewhere who have seen through and turned against the macho, violent culture of genetic engineering," said Mr. Kneen.

Brian Tokar, Professor of Social Ecology at Goddard College, said "We need a powerful political movement to counter the claims of the biotechnology industry."

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

Mr. Kneen suggested that while "good rebels" in Europe and the UK decontaminate trial plots of genetically engineered crops, Canada should join the Japanese in action at the supermarkets and in construction of alternative food systems.

Date: Sun, 11 Oct 1998 13:34:15 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson: Alive Magazine Oct 98

UK Court Decision Throws Seed Trials into Chaos

The future of genetically modified crops in UK was thrown into confusion in July. A Court of Appeal insisted the government should enforce regulations that it admitted breaching to allow the tests of genetically modified corn to go ahead. Earlier, the court rejected an appeal by organic farmer Guy Watson to stop trials of biotech corn being carried out on adjacent land.

Mr. Watson is concerned that the biotech corn could cross-pollinate with his crops, throwing his organic status and livelihood into jeopardy. However, now that the agriculture ministry has admitted it breached its own regulations, the final outcome is not certain.

Date: Sun, 11 Oct 1998 13:34:15 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson: Alive Magazine Oct 98

Beware of Canadian GE Canola

Farmers in UK are advised to avoid genetically engineered herbicide-resistant canola seeds from Canada, should the crop be approved for cultivation in Britain. In field tests, the biotech canola failed standard performance criteria based on crop yield per acre, disease resistance, and speed of germination.

According to the report from the 11/12/97 meeting of a joint industry/government body, the approval committee in Canada changed their evaluation system for the GE canola. Extra bonus points were added to herbicide resistant varieties of canola so they could be approved in spite of poor performance. It is perhaps no surprise that farmers in Canada have reported reduced yields of up to 21percent with biotech canola, compared to conventional varieties.

For further information on biotechnology and its hazards, visit the website: or email Richard Wolfson at:

Date: Sun, 11 Oct 1998 13:34:15 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson: Alive Magazine Oct 98

Feeding the World - or Global Disaster

by Richard Wolfson, PhD

Reprinted with permission from the October 1998 issue of Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition, 7436 Fraser Park Drive, Burnaby, BC V5J 5B9

The National Agriculture Environment Committee (NAEC) held a conference July 28-29 in Ottawa on biotechnology and the environment. The conference was promoted as a program to assist farmers in deciding whether to go ahead with biotechnology. However, alternatives were practically ignored.

Biotech proponents who dominated the conference painted the usual portrait of biotechnology being crucial to feeding the world. However, Ann Clark, PhD, Associate Professor of Crop Science at the University of Guelph, explained that high tech agriculture only feeds the wealthy.

About 78 percent of the dollar value of food exported from the developed countries, and 67 percent of the food from the third world, is exported to developed countries-- the wealthiest 17 percent of the world's population. The developing (poorer) nations, accounting for 83 percent of the world's population, cannot afford to keep food grown in their countries. Biotechnology is expensive. Also, high tech agriculture has displaced native farmers and destroyed their livelihood.

Nettie Wiebe, from the National Farmers Union, illustrated that biotechnology can result in more use of toxic chemicals and damage the environment, counter to industry claims. Her neighbour had to spray with additional toxic chemicals to kill her herbicide resistant canola, following a hail storm. The hail had destroyed the crop and spread the seeds, effectively turning the biotech canola into herbicide resistant weeds!

Biotech advocates claimed that biotech crops are well researched before being approved. However, they admitted there are no standard procedures for assessing the environmental impact of genetically engineered crops. Many biotech products are deemed environmentally safe merely by observing that their non-biotech counterparts are safe.

Several speakers claimed that foreign genes do not interfere with other genes and cause unexpected problems. However, Dr. Clark referred to recent cases in Mississippi: Genetically engineered "Roundup Ready" cotton had produced malformed cotton bolls that fell off the plants, creating millions of dollars of damage. Farmers have also observed that biotech canola did not germinate normally.

Another problem is cross-pollination. Engineered genes move from biotech crops to wild relatives and pollute the gene pool. This could potentially wipe out indigenous species and causing unknown ecological effects. Crops genetically engineered to withstand insect pests have killed beneficial insects.

Dr. Clark pointed out that killing off one insect pest often results in the proliferation of other insect pests. This aggressive approach of killing off pests does not address the underlying ecological problem, and only creates further imbalance in the eco-system. She described successful organic, sustainable agriculture projects, countering the predominant view that biotechnology and chemical based agriculture are essential.

Another concern expressed by both Dr. Clark and Michelle Brill-Edwards, MD, a former senior regulator with Health Canada, is deregulation-- allowing industry, rather than independent government regulators, to oversee safety testing. Dr. Brill-Edwards cited the mad cow disease disaster in UK, and the contamination of Canada's blood supply, which infected tens of thousands of Canadians.

Both catastrophes resulted from deterioration of safety standards due to deregulation. We should therefore proceed cautiously with this powerful technology, rather than blindly allowing industry to go ahead without proof of long-term safety.

For more information, see or

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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