Genetically Manipulated Food News

29 November 98

Table of Contents

Chronology of Growing Resistance to GMOs Throughout the EU
Government on GM trial
All the Facts you Need to Avoid Heartache: Genetically Modified Food
GE: Questions the Food Companies Would Prefer to Avoid
GMO Battle Rages in India
NGO Stops Monsanto in Brazil
Civil Disobedience in the USA
Global Organic Leaders Call for GMO Ban
Monsanto Tracks Down Seed Violators
British Supermarkets Seek Non-GMO Food
GMO Pollen Genes Spread up to a Kilometer
North American Boycott Against Rice Tec Corporation Called
GM Crops use Wider Range of Chemicals
New Non-selective Herbicide Receives Registration

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Date: Sat, 28 Nov 1998 13:00:56 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson

Towards A Gmo Moratorium

Chronology of Growing Resistance to GMOs Throughout the EU

Compiled by Thomas Schweiger and Isabelle Meister
Greenpeace International Genetic Engineering Campaign November 1998

Early 1996

Greenpeace launches its international campaign against the commercial releases of GMOs into the environment and food.

June 1996

EU Environment Council: 13 of the 15 EU Member States state their opposition to market approval of Novartis' GE-maize.

February 1997

After the European Commission authorises the Novartis GE-maize Austria and Luxembourg immediately apply EU legislation (Article 16 of Directive 90/220/EEC) to ban the sale of the product on their territory.

France prohibits the commercial growing of Novartis' GE-maize.

March 1997

Italy applies Article 16 of Directive 90/220/EEC to ban the cultivation of Novartis' GE-maize.

Spain declares that it will not allow the commercial growing of Novartis GE maize until the issue of the national bans are solved at the EU level.

April 1997

In Austria a People's Petition is hugely successful: 1,2 Million Austrians (approx. 25% of the electorate) call for a ban on GE in agriculture and foods.

The European Parliament calls on the European Commission to suspend the market consent for Novartis' GE-maize.

September 1997

The French Committee on Prevention and Precaution recommends that GE crops containing antibiotic resistance genes - such as Novartis' GE maize - should not be commercially released into the environment and food.

Italy withdraws its ban for the cultivation of Novartis' GE maize after the European Commission proposes that Austria's and Luxembourg's ban should be rejected.

October 1997

Norway, a member of the European Economic Area, bans the import of Novartis' GE maize and other GE crops containing antibiotic resistance genes.

November 1997

France announces a moratorium on the commercial cultivation of all GE crops, with the exception of Novartis' GE maize.

December 1997

France announces a moratorium on the commercial use (i.e. including imports) of all GE crops that contain antibiotic resistance genes, with the exception of Novartis' GE maize.

March 1998

A public survey shows that 62.6% of the French public wants its government to withdraw the growing permit for Novartis GE maize.

June 1998

EU Environment Council does not support the EU Commission's proposal to over-rule the bans of Novartis' GE-maize in Austria and Luxembourg.

A French Citizen's Panel recommends a ban on all GE crops containing antibiotic resistance genes.

A public survey shows that 75% of the British public want a ban on the growing of GE crops until there has been further assessment of the implications.

July 1998

The French government declares a moratorium on the growing of GE crops that have wild relatives in Europe (i.e. beet and rape).

September 1998

English Nature, an advisory body to the UK government, calls for a moratorium on releases of GMOs containing herbicide resistance genes.

10 September 1998

The EU's Economic and Social Committee (ESC) adopts its report on the revision of Directive 90/220/EEC, recommending: 'As a precautionary measure to protect the environment and health, the ESC is therefore of the view that no antibiotic-resistant marker genes should be used when genetically modified organisms are deliberately released into the environment.'

11 September 1998

The EU Environment Council decides not to act against the ban of Austria and Luxembourg, leaving the power to the Commission to decide.

25 September 1998

The French Conseil d'Etat, the highest administrative court, suspends the authorisation to grow the Novartis GE maize in France until a final verdict, expected not before December. This ruling comes in a case brought forward by Greenpeace and other NGOs against the authorisation granted by the French government. The court's justification for this immediate repeal of the growing permit is that the Novartis dossier was incomplete as it did not contain information which would allow the assessment of the long term effects of the antibiotic resistance gene in the transgenic maize on human health. This lack of information requires and justifies precautionary action and the immediate suspension of the growing permit !

Following this ruling the French government decides that all of Novartis' maize harvest must be segregated and stored separately until the final verdict of the Conseil.

Early October 1998

All of Austria's main supermarket chains declare that they do not want to sell GE products and take them off their shelves.

2 October 1998

The Greek government decides to apply Article 16 of Directive 90/220/EEC and ban the import of GE rapeseed.

8 October 1998

For the first time, the Scientific Committee on Plants of the European Commission advises against the release of a GMO a potato, containing antibiotic resistance genes.

12 October 1998

The European Parliament's Environment Committee calls on the Commission not to overrule the Austrian and Luxembourg ban but to instead impose a moratorium on new GMO releases.

15 October 1998

The European Commission is quoted in the European Voice as 're-considering its approach to the release of GMOs'.

19 October 1998

Denmark's Environment Minister is quoted in the national press saying he wants to discuss a moratorium with his EU colleagues at the next Environment Council (December).

21 October 1998

The UK government announces a de-facto three-year moratorium on insect-resistant plants (e.g. Bt-resistant) and a de-facto one year moratorium on herbicide resistant plants. The government has come to an agreement with the biotech industry in the UK that industry would not apply for authorisation of any of these plants during this time period.

... Outside Europe public opposition is growing too. Some recent highlights include:

Brazil: a court prohibits the growing of Monsanto's GE soy in Brazil and asks for specific labelling requirements of GE products.

Thailand prohibits the release of GE rice, because being a Center of Origin it is worried about negative effects on its wild and traditional rice varieties.

In the USA the USDA is forced to withdraw a scandalous proposal of 'organic standards' which would have included GE produce.

In Japan, the "NO! FOOD CAMPAIGN" is supported by 1.7 million Japanese consumers demanding that their Government prohibits GMO food, and at least clearly labels all GMO food.

Date: Sat, 28 Nov 1998 13:00:56 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson

Government on GM trial

Farmer's Guardian (UK) 28 Nov 98.

The Government has come under attack for failing to act in an open and transparent manner in rushing through Parliament new legislation which ends the need for replicated trials to be carried out on genetically modified crops, just six days after a consultation process was completed.

The ammendment to the law will do away with requirement for replicated trials to be carried out both for future applications and for those varieties currently undergoing National Seed Listing trials.

The ammendment was required following citicism by the Court of Appeal, which said the Government had acted contrary to law by not requring replicated seed trials of genetically engineered seeds, as the law demanded under the 1982 Seed List regulation.

Patrick Holden , Soil Association director, said it was clear that pressure had been brought to bear on the government in a quite unprecedented way.

"Previous proposals published by the Government on Sep 17, which we welcomed , would have delayed commercial planting of genetically modified crop varieties by at least one year."

Mr Holden accused the Government of failing to take into account huge public opposition to the growing of genetically engineered crops in the UK, highlighting the 77 per cent of people in a recent MORI poll, who had opposed GE organisms being released into the countryside.

"It took the Government only six days six days after the consultation process was over, before the law was rushed through Parliament. The Government has not taken into account the concerns that the majority of the British public have about the quick release of G/E organisms into the enviroment. I believe this is a mistake which will enevitably lead to future problems," he added.

Pete Riley, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said : "Genetic Engineering is a new and still unpredictable technology. Halving the amount of data needed shows once again that the Government is bowing to the interests of the biotech companies and is in total contempt of the growing public concern."

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 17:49:17 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson

All the Facts you Need to Avoid Heartache: Genetically Modified Food

INDEPENDENT (London) November 30, 1998 Information Unlimited




Genetic engineering alters the DNA of crops by transferring genes from one organism to another. By genetic engineering food, scientists have extended the shelf life of foods and created crops that are resistant to pesticides and herbicides. For example, fish have a genetic characteristic that helps them survive in very cold water. That gene can now be inserted into a tomato to make it frost-resistant, meaning bigger and better tomato harvests... supposedly.


No one is sure about the health effects of eating GM food but there are fears about its safety and its affect on the environment. Though genetically modifying food can eliminate weaknesses in a crop, sometimes it can introduce weaknesses into the food chain too.

Seeds genetically engineered to kill bad pests may kill the good pests too, eg: potatoes which were engineered to kill aphids also killed beneficial ladybirds. If GM crops fail, then they fail in a spectacular way and they could threaten the entire food chain.

In the US, thousands of hectares of Monsanto's cotton seeds failed in 1997 and 1 million acres of GM cotton which was supposed to be resistant to bollworm was destroyed - by bollworm in 1996.

In Nebraska, cattle farmers faced a crisis when their cows stopped grazing because their corn fields had been growing GM corn and they didn't like the taste. Non GM crops cannot be prevented from cross-pollinating with GM crops, meaning that farmers who don't agree with GM have no way of preventing their crops being contaminated.

Last year Guy Watson, an organic farmer from Devon, took the Government to court to stop trials of GM maize crops which were being grown next to his organic sweetcorn. Though the judiciary ruled that the Government acted unlawfully in allowing the trials, they refused to rule that the GM trials should be halted. If the suspected health risks associated with GM are proven, even people who choose to buy organic may unsuspectingly be eating GM food. There is also the risk that the genes will transfer to soil bacteria and then to insects, birds, animals and water.


Because GM food has only been around for three years it is difficult to predict its impact, but the recent experience of BSE shows how a relatively small change in food production can have a devastating impact on safety which may take years to show up. Austria and Luxembourg are trying to stop imports of genetically-engineered maize which contains an antibiotic resistance gene. Both countries fear that eating the maize will lead to more resistance to antibiotics in humans and animals. In the US a disease called EMS was eventually linked to a food supplement derived from genetically-modified bacteria. But, 36 people had dead and 1,500 were disabled.


Consumers should be allowed to choose whether they want to eat GM food but manufacturers can escape labelling regulations by mixing conventional and GM ingredients. Though 60 per cent of processed food contains soya, because US food producers mix GM soya with regular soya, they don't have to say it's genetically modified on the label. GM soya is found in the following products but it won't be listed on the label


Useful numbers
Genetics Forum0171-638 0606.
The Food Commission0171-837 2250.
The Soil Association0117-914 2449.
The Consumers Association0171-830 6000

Recommended reading: 'Women Unlimited: The Directory for Life', published by Penguin at #9.99

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

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 17:49:17 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson

Here are some questions and answers on genetic engineering, which orignate from Luke Anderson in UK:

GE: Questions the Food Companies Would Prefer to Avoid

from Genesmeans

The biotechnology industry is trying to blind us with science to pass off genetic engineering as means to produce cheap food, safely. Luke Anderson answers questions the food companies would prefer to avoid

Q. What is genetic engineering (GE)?

A. Genetic engineering involves taking genes from one species and inserting them into another, for example, genes from an arctic flounder which has 'antifreeze' properties may be spliced into a tomato.

Q. Isn't GE just an extension of traditional breeding practices?

A. Breeding can only be done within species: you can cross two varieties of rose to create a new variety, but you can't cross a rose with a mouse. Jaan Suurkula MD, of Physicians and Scientists Against Genetically Engineered Food, says: 'The artificial insertion of foreign genes represents a traumatic disturbance of the close genetic control in normal cells. It is completely different from the combination of maternal and paternal chromosomes in natural mating mechanisms.'

Q. Is genetic engineering precise?

A. It is impossible to guide the insertion of the new gene. This can lead to unpredictable effects since genes operate in highly complex relationships which are barely understood. Only about 3 percent of the function of DNA is known. Any change to the DNA at any point will affect itthroughout its length in ways scientists cannot predict. The claim by some that they can is both arrogant and untrue.

Q. Could this be dangerous?

A. In 1989 there was an outbreak of a new disease in the US, contracted by over 5,000 people and traced back to a batch of food supplement produced with GE bacteria. Even though it contained less than 0.1 per cent of a highly toxic compound, 37 people died and 1,500 were left with permanent disabilities.

The government declared that it was not GE that was at fault but a failure in the purification process, but this new toxin had never been found in non-GE versions of the product, and the manufacturing company admitted that the low-level purification process had been used without ill effect in non-GE batches.

In another case, soya bean with a gene from a brazil nut gave rise to allergic reactions in people sensitive to the nuts. Most genes being introduced into GE plants have never been part of the food supply so we can't know if they are likely to be allergenic.

Q. What will the impact of GE be on the environment?

A. Jane Rissler of the Union of Concerned Scientists says: 'Biotechnology is being developed with the same vision that promoted chemicals to meet the single, short-term goals of enhanced yields and profit margins. his is based on the view that nature should be dominated, exploited and forced to yield more.

The preference is for simple, immediately profitable 'solutions' to complex ecological problems, using reductionist thinking that analyses complex systems like farming in terms of their component parts, rather than as an integrated whole and defining agricultural success according to short-term productivity, rather than long-term sustainability.'

Between 1986 and 1992, 57 percent of the research in agricultural biotechnology was on crops that had been made resistant to one company's own-brand herbicide. A field can now be covered with chemicals and everything will die except for the resistant crop. The sales of Glufosinate, one of the herbicides being used, are predicted to rise by $200 million as a result.

Graham Wynne, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, says: 'The ability to clear fields of all weeds using powerful herbicides which can be sprayed onto GE herbicide-resistant crops will result in farmlands devoid of wildlife and will spell disaster for millions of already declining birds and plants.'

There are also GE virus-resistant crops about which Dr Joseph Cummins, Professor Emeritus of Genetics at the University of Western Ontario, says: 'Probably the greatest threat from genetically altered crops is the insertion of modified virus and insect virus genes into crops -- genetic recombination will create virulent new viruses from such constructions. The widely used cauliflower mosaic virus is a potentially dangerous gene. It is very similar to the Hepatitis B virus and related to HIV. Modified viruses could cause famine by destroying crops or cause human and animal diseases of tremendous power.'

Q. What is genetic pollution?

A. Genes engineered into plants and animals can be transferred to other species, for example, genes from GE oilseed rape, salmon or micro-organisms may move into the gene pools of wild relatives. The introduction of GE organisms into complex ecosystems may bring knock-on effects that we are unable to control.

Q. Could GE crops help feed the world ?

A. Even if genetic engineering were able to deliver its promises of high yielding crops to the Third World, it seems unlikely that this would benefit starving populations. Indeed, the suggestion that this complex problem can be solved with the magic bullet of biotechnology allows governments and industry to distance themselves from their complicity in the political structures and social inequality that cause hunger.

At the height of the 1984 famine in Ethiopia, crops were being grown there on prime agricultural land to be exported as feed for livestock to the UK. The UN Development Report in 1997 stated: 'In Africa alone, the money spent on annual debt repayments could be used to save the lives of about 21 million children by the year 2000.'

Delegates to the United Nations from 24 African states backed by 30 development, farmer and environmental organisations made the following statement: '(We object) strongly 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. We do not believe that such companies or gene technol- ogies will help our farmers to produce the food that is needed in the 21st century. On the contrary, we think it will destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and the sustainable agricultural systems that our farmers have developed for millennia and that it will thus undermine our capacity to feed ourselves.'

Q. Why are genes being patented?

A. Patents give a huge incentive to the biotech- nology industry to create new GE organisms. Since most patents last for 20 years, the companies are keen to recoup any investment quickly, often at the expense of safety and ethics. There are currently patents approved or pending for over 190 GE animals, including fish, cows, mice and pigs. There are also patents on varieties of seeds and plants, as well as unusual genes and cell lines from indig- enous peoples. Scouts are sent around the world to discover genes that may have commercial applications. Over half the world's plant and animal species live in the rainforests of the south and the industry has been quick to draw upon these resources.

The Neem tree, for instance, has been used for thousands of years in India for its antiseptic and insecticidal properties. Following in the well-trodden footsteps of Christopher Columbus, western corporations have filed a number of patents on these attributes.

Q. Are GE crops being grown in the UK?

A. There are no commercial licences yet, but there are over 300 'deliberate release sites' where crops are being tested and awaiting approval. If commercial planting goes ahead, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for organic farming to stay free of contamination due to cross-pollination from GE crops.

Q. Are we eating GE food?

A. GE soya is in about 60 percent of all processed food as vegetable oil, soya flour, lecithin and oya protein. GE maize is in about 50 percent of processed foods as corn, cornstarch, cornflour and corn syrup. GE tomato puree is sold in some supermarkets and GE enzymes are used throughout the food processing industry. New government regulations on labelling exclude 95-98 percent of the products containing GE ingredients because they ignore derivatives.

Q. How is food tested?

A. Selected characteristics are compared between GE products and another variety within the same species. If the two are grossly similar, the GE product is not rigorously tested or labelled, on the assumption that it is no more dangerous than the non-GE equivalent. The use of this principle (called 'substantial equivalence') neglects the potential presence in these products of unexpected new molecules. A product could not only be 'substantially equivalent', but even be identical with its natural counterpart in all respects bar the presence of a single harmful compound.

The GE food supplement implicated in the deaths of 37 people (see above) would be'substantially equivalent' and passed as safe for human consumption. No long term trials have been done on GE food. (The soya beans were tested on animals for just 10 weeks.)

Professor Philip James, Director of the Rowett Research Institute, said: 'The perception that everything is totally safe is utterly naive. I don't think we fully understand the dimensions of what we're getting into.'

Q. Who is regulating the industry?

A. The will to scrutinise the industry is clear in this statement from Douglas Hogg: 'Some estimates have predicted a £9 billion market by the year 2000. We cannot jeopardise this by over-regulating initiative and enterprise.'

US trade representative, Charlene Barshefsky, recently told EU leaders to expect punitive action through the World Trade Organisation if they allow domestic concerns over biotechnology to interfere with US trade.

Most of the people sitting on supposedly independent government advisory bodies have direct links to biotechnology companies. Should people whose careers are tied to the development of the technology be trusted to carry out impartial risk assessments?

When she was asked whether she felt that people should be given the choice of whether they eat GE food or not, Janet Bainbridge, chair of the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, replied that we should not because 'most people don't even know what a gene is'. She added: 'sometimes my young son wants to cross the road when it's dangerous. Sometimes you just have to tell people what's best for them.'

The European Commission has set up the 'European Federation of Biotechnology Task Group on Public Perceptions on Biotechnology' to promote the 'public understanding of biotechnology'. EuropaBio, a consortium of all the biotechnology companies with interests in Europe, was taken by surprise at the resistance in Europe and sought the advice of Burson Marsteller, past masters in crisis management. (Previous clients included Exxon after the Exxon Valdez oil spill and Union Carbide after the explosion of their chemical plant in Bhopal.) EuropaBio was advised that 'Public issues of environmental and human health risk are communications killing fields for bioindustries in Europe -- all the research evidence confirms that the perception of the profit motive fatally undermines industry's credibility on these questions -- (use) symbols eliciting hope, satisfaction, caring and self.' Marsteller told them to refrain from participating in anypublic debate and leave it to 'those charged with public trust, politicians and regulators, to assure the public that biotech products are safe.'

Once released, genetically engineered organisms become part of our ecosystem. Unlike some other forms of pollution which can be contained or which may decrease over time, any mistakes we make now will be passed on to all future enerations of life. With governments capitulating to commercial interests, it is up to citizens to respond.

Luke Anderson researches and gives talks on issues related to genetic engineering. For details of campaign groups in Britain and elsewhere, contact him on 01803 867951.

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 17:49:25 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson and Dr. Robert Klauber

Here is an excellent summary of genetic engineering news prepared by Dr. Robert Klauber GMO SUMMARY 11-25 TO 11-29-98

GMO Battle Rages in India


Nove 23. ….. there is a very heated debate about Monsanto going on in India since the 16th of November, when a newspaper announced that field trials with Bt cotton have been going on since four (??) months in different states. The latest news is that the Central Rural Development Minister has invited Monsanto to leave the country (before KRRS kicks them out.)

Nov 28. Monsanto's field trials in Karnataka will be reduced to ashes in a few days. Today, the Minister of Agriculture of Karnataka gave a press conference where he was forced by the journalists to disclose the three sites where the trials with Bt cotton are being conducted. In about one week, thousands of farmers will occupy and burn down the three fields in front of as many cameras as possible. These actions will start a campaign of direct action by farmers against biotechnology, called Operation 'Cremation Monsanto'.

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 17:49:25 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson and Dr. Robert Klauber

NGO Stops Monsanto in Brazil

November 23, 1998 A lawsuit filed by the Brazilian Institute for Consumer Defense (IDEC) has temporarily halted the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture's approval of Monsanto's glyphosate-tolerant soybeans. The court has prohibited the Brazilian government from authorizing the marketing and planting of Roundup Ready soybeans until the case is resolved. From: Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA web site

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 17:49:25 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson and Dr. Robert Klauber

Civil Disobedience in the USA

Gardeners Decontaminate Genetic Corn Crop

November 26, 1998. A group of conservative gardeners calling themselves the California Croppers held a tackle football match early Thanksgiving morning at the "Gill Tract" gardens, and in the process destroyed a crop of genetically-engineered corn owned and operated by the University of California. The Croppers took the opportunity to welcome biotech giant Novartis, who just signed a multimillion dollar research deal with UC-Berkeley. "As an informal welcome-wagon gesture, the Croppers would like to make it clear to Novartis that we will take similar actions against any future biotech experiments. Don't let our unseriousness make you think this isn't serious: the security of the world's food supply is at stake. Source:

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 17:49:25 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson and Dr. Robert Klauber

Global Organic Leaders Call for GMO Ban

November 25, 1998. The world’s leading organic farming organisations, have called for an immediate ban on genetically modified organisms (GMOis), stating that genetic engineering has no place in agriculture and food as a whole not just in the organic sector.

Delegates from more than 60 countries have issued a joint statement to governments and regulatory agencies listing their concerns. Source: Press Release. 12th Scientific Conference of the International Federation of organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) which was held in Argentina last week (16-20 November).

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 17:49:25 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson and Dr. Robert Klauber

Monsanto Tracks Down Seed Violators

The Evansville Courier. An agribusiness company's investigation into the replanting of its patented soybean seed has spread to Kentucky. [ Monsanto Co. ] has conducted 29 such investigations in Kentucky, and at least two resulted in royalty settlements -- $35,000 from a Henderson County man and $25,000 from a McCracken County grower. The company recently sent letters to customers detailing efforts to crack down on farmers who save seeds from patented crops to plant the next year.

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 17:49:25 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson and Dr. Robert Klauber

British Supermarkets Seek Non-GMO Food

Following the initial lead given by Iceland Frozen Foods, other big food retailers, including supermarket giants Tesco and Sainsbury, are seeking contracts with suppliers who can guarantee GM-free food. This requirement is being driven by consumer demand. From: Mark Griffiths FRICS, Dreweatt Neate, is European rural policy adviser for the RICS. Tel: +44 (0)1962 842233

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 17:49:25 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson and Dr. Robert Klauber

GMO Pollen Genes Spread up to a Kilometer

An experiment in Svalov, Sweden indicated that pollen can spread as much as a kilometer from the genetically engineered potato fields. From: Prof. Joe Cummins e-mail:

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 17:49:25 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson and Dr. Robert Klauber

c/o 1957 Kitchener St. Vancouver, B.C. Canada V5L 2W6 Tel. (1-604) 255-4910
E-mail: Website:

North American Boycott Against Rice Tec Corporation Called

November 29, 1998

The Basmati Action Group (BAG) has launched a North American boycott against the products of Rice Tec Corporation of Alvin, Texas, USA. Rice Tec claims to have invented the basmati rice they sell under the trade name, "Texmati" (Rice Tec products also include "Jasmati" and "Kasmati" rice). The purpose of the boycott is to heighten awareness of the issue of life-patents for corporate profit, or biopiracy

Why support a boycott on Rice Tec?

Basmati rice has been grown in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan for centuries. Working with nature's own creative capacities, farmers in this area have, over time, cross bred and cultivated this distinct form of rice known for its fragrant aroma and unique taste. For the farmers of India and Pakistan, basmati rice is a vital subsistence food and source of income.

In 1997, the powerful United States Patent and Trademark Office accepted Rice Tec's application to patent basmati rice (patent # 5,663,484). By cross-breeding two basmati rice varieties this corporation insists that it has "invented" a "novel" variety of basmati and has patented it as "basmati 867." The basmati varieties used to "invent" Rice Tec's "basmati 867" are farmers' varieties bred over centuries in South Asia.

The crux of the issue is not whether the basmati rice variety bred by Rice Tec is "novel" and therefore patentable or not because the facts show that it is not. The real issue is that no one should be able to hold a patent over a life form. By taking out a patent on "basmati 867" Rice Tec is participating in what has been described as "biopiracy."

Biopiracy is the theft of indigenous knowledge, the theft of the creative capacities of nature and the false claim by patent holders - mostly corporations - that they created the life form they have pirated. Biopiracy lays the groundwork for the colonization of creation - of life itself - by scientists and, ultimately, the corporations they work for.

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 17:49:25 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson

Thanks to "NLP Wessex" for posting this: (Natural Law Party Wessex)

GM Crops use Wider Range of Chemicals

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998

Below is a report of contact herbicide released by Zeneca in Canada earlier this year. It is particularly interesting to see Zeneca marketing this product as an effective way of controlling GM crop volunteers which have been genetically modified to be resistant to Roundup and are therefore no longer controllable using glyphospate.

It is significant that this represents a formal acknowledgement by a biotechnology company that GM herbicide resistance has now become a serious agronomic problem for farmers. It is also a defacto admission that the introduction of GM herbicide resistant crops will necessitate the use of a wider range of chemical types in agriculture.

The need to use additional chemical types in order to control volunteers from harvested crops of its own glufosinate-ammonium tolerant "Liberty Link" varieties has also previously been acknowledged by Pierre-Louis Dupont, AgrEvo's European head of marketing -: "However, in the case of Liberty Link products, farmers will be using a chemical which is not currently used for volunteer control."(Farmers Weekly 13th March 1998).

The issue of the sustainable use of chemicals in agriculture is not simply one of quantities used, but also one of the range utilised. The wider the range used, the wider the range of species potentially adversely affected.

From this perspective it is difficult to see how biotechnology companies can justify their claim that the use of herbicide resistant GM crops provides a useful contribution towards sustainability.

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 17:49:25 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson

New Non-selective Herbicide Receives Registration

Canada Newswire Thu, Mar 05 1998 © Copyright Canada News-Wire

CALGARY, March 5 /CNW/ - Over the past decade, many growers have adopted direct seeding systems in their farming operations. This advancement has required significant changes in weed management, particularly in the area of controlling early emerging spring annual weeds. Zeneca Agro is proud to bring another non-selective herbicide to its product portfolio for Western Canadian growers. Gramoxone(R) PDQ(TM) non-selective herbicide is a new product that offers growers fast and complete control of virtually all annual weeds, and top-growth of perennials, prior to crop emergence.

"This is a new product, with unique features that provides farmers with an alternative to glyphosate products." says Murray De Pape, Zeneca Market Lead. "There are agronomic benefits that are not available with glyphosate products", continued De Pape. "Gramoxone PDQ is a non-selective, contact herbicide that provides the fastest burndown of all non-selective products and is rainfast in just 15 minutes - even in cool spring weather!" In addition, Gramoxone PDQ is rapidly absorbed by the plant and because it is biologically deactivated on contact with soil, there is no residual activity.

Time is a precious commodity at seeding time. The biggest advantage of Gramoxone PDQ over glyphosate, is the speed with which it works. In fact, growers can spray with Gramoxone PDQ and plant the same day. Gramoxone PDQ can also be applied post-seeding, but prior to crop emergence. "This product is also effective on volunteer Roundup Ready (TM) canola, unlike glyphosate products." said De Pape.

Gramoxone PDQ is registered in Canada for use as a pre-seed burndown in barley, canary seed, canola (including all transgenic varieties), dry common beans, field peas, flax, lentils, mustard, oats, rye, solin, soybeans, sunflowers, triticale, wheat and a variety of horticultural crops. Gramoxone is also currently sold in more than 100 countries worldwide, and is the second largest selling herbicide in the world. "We are very excited about the possibilities for it and growers will be pleased with its speed and efficacy."

Visual symptoms of weed burndown may appear as soon as 30 minutes following application, and most weeds are completely controlled in 24-48 hours. Gramoxone PDQ is applied with a ground sprayer at a minimum of 10 gallons of water per acre. Clean water, free of dirt, should always be used. Clear liquid nitrogen or completely clear liquid fertilizers may also be used as a carrier for Gramoxone PDQ. Suspension-type fertilizers will deactivate the product, however.

Said De Pape, "Zeneca is pleased to be able to offer this product to growers in Western Canada. Gramoxone PDQ is one of the tools in the Zeneca non-selective herbicide portfolio, which includes Touchdown(R) and Reglone(R), to help farmers with their weed management."

Zeneca is a $3.3 billion bioscience business with approximately 7,500 employees in Canada and the United States. Zeneca Corp. (in Canada) and Zeneca Inc. (in the US) are both wholly owned subsidiaries of UK-based Zeneca Group PLC (NYSE:ZEN), a major $9 billion international bioscience business, engaged in the research, development, manufacture and marketing of ethical (prescription) pharmaceuticals, agricultural and specialty chemical products and the supply of healthcare services.

Gramoxone, PDQ, Touchdown and Reglone are trademarks of a Zeneca Group Company.

Roundup Ready is a trademark of Monsanto Canada Inc.

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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