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Here is some information on a very significant event. A press conference this Tuesday in Washington DC, about the hazards of BGH, and announcing a lawsuit against FDA if they do not take BGH off the market.
Several hundred of the media are expected at the press conference.
Also, I have been told that a few hours after the press conference, it will be telecast at their website. http://www.ems.org
Environmental Media Services (EMS)
100th EMS Press Breakfast: Tuesday, December 15, 1998, 9:00 AM
Lawsuit charges Fox pressured reporters to broadcast false information
When Steve Wilson and Jane Akre - award winning reporters at Fox-owned WTVT in Tampa, Florida - sought to air their series on bovine growth hormone (BGH) last year, Monsanto warned Fox executives that "dire consequences" would result if the stories ran as originally written. Fox rewrote the stories over 70 times and eventually fired the reporters. The series never aired.
Now Wilson and Akre - who recently received the National Society of Professional Journalists Award for Ethics - are suing Fox asserting the network broke the law when it fired them for refusing to broadcast inaccurate reports. Steve Wilson and Jane Akre will join health and legal experts to discuss their suit and the possible dangers of BGH at the 100th EMS Press Breakfast, Tuesday December 15, 1998 in the Crystal Room of the Willard Hotel.
Monsanto describes BGH as "a dairy management tool" which safely boosts milk production in 30 percent of US cows. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved BGH in 1993 but failed to consider important information that recently became public after a review by FDA's Canadian counterpart, Health Canada. Monsanto's own studies link BGH to cysts in rats. The BGH derived substance believed to have caused the growths has been linked to cancer in humans according to research at Harvard Medical School.
Also at the breakfast, the Center for Food Safety will unveil a legal action asking the FDA to suspend approval of BGH immediately. If the FDA does not take BGH off the market it will face a lawsuit.
- A continental breakfast will be served -
Tom Lalley, Program Director
Environmental Media Services (EMS) 1320 18th Street NW, Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel: (202) 463-6670, http://www.ems.org, email@example.com
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 16:37:22 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson GENews
Thanks to Bradford Duplisea firstname.lastname@example.org at Sierra Club of/du Canada for posting the following article.
It is a few weeks old, but excellent
Safety's tarnished stamp of approval The agency that guards the health of the nation is in disarray. Can it be trusted? Nightmares of 'the next thalidomide'
ANNE McILROY Parliamentary Bureau
Globe and Mail, Canada Wednesday, November 18, 1998
Ottawa -- As a scientist employed by the federal health protection branch, Mr. Blais wanted to ban a popular breast implant because he had evidence that its foam coating could make women sick.
His superiors disagreed. They tried to bully him into backing off and when that failed, they fired him. Mr. Blais challenged his dismissal and won, but he decided to leave anyway.
It was eight years ago, but time has not eased the anger or fear in his voice as he compares his former workplace to East Germany under the Communists, a secretive place where those who speak out are intimidated and big business really calls the shots.
"I left for fear I would be the person who would have been forced to approve the next thalidomide," he said in a recent interview. "Imagine the nightmare."
He left in 1990. The following year, the manufacturer took the product off the market. It was the notorious Meme breast implant.
Today, Mr. Blais is still in Ottawa, working as a consultant and watching with keen interest as his old workplace is put under the microscope.
Clearly something has gone terribly awry in the complex on the Ottawa River that houses the health protection branch. Its 1,360 scientists and support staff are the biomedical guardians of the nation. Their job is to protect Canadians from bad drugs, contaminated food, tainted blood and unsafe baby cribs and other consumer products.
Now the question is, can they still do it?
In recent weeks, six of the branch's scientists have complained that their superiors tried to force them to approve the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone despite their concerns that it isn't safe. Already in use in the United States, the hormone increases milk production in cows, but critics fear that such milk may not be safe for children to drink. The scientists' testimony before a Senate committee was like a scene from the conspiratorial television show The X-Files.
Margaret Haydon, her voice quavering, told how her files had been broken into and how she was taken off the case after she recommended that the drug not be approved.
She said Monsanto, its manufacturer, had offered Health Department officials research money they interpreted as a bribe, an allegation the company denies.
The senators were stunned by the accusations, but Mr. Blais wasn't surprised.
"It isn't an isolated incident, but this is part of a pattern," he said in an interview in his Ottawa home. "But over the years they have only gotten more sophisticated at concealing what is going on."
The RCMP believe that the truth is out there, and it has launched three investigations involving Health Canada.
They are looking into the tainted-blood tragedy of the 1980s, when thousands of Canadians were infected with the AIDS virus and hepatitis C while the health protection branch was responsible for regulating the blood system.
The police are also investigating the destruction of key documents by Health Canada officials. A damning report from the federal Information Commissioner found that officials destroyed what might have been crucial evidence because of pressure from the Red Cross, which feared victims would be able to use the documents in lawsuits.
The third investigation is an attempt to determine whether Health Canada officials approved the Meme breast implant despite knowing that it wasn't safe.
The Public Service Staff Relations Board is hearing a grievance from the six scientists over bovine growth hormone. Their complaint seems to mirror earlier accusations levelled against the department and the day-to-day concerns of other scientists who work there.
They say pharmaceutical manufacturers have far too much influence in the drug approval process and scientists often feel that their careers are threatened if they stand in the way of a drug they don't believe is safe.
"The department is saying all over the place that the client -- and this is in writing -- the client is now the industry and we have to serve the client. Although we have to ensure that safety is there, our situation has changed," researcher Shiv Chopra told the Senate committee.
Michelle Brill-Edwards, a medical doctor who quit the branch in 1996, said the culture of the department is such that scientists who raise questions about new drugs are deemed to be troublemakers, while those who quietly approve them are promoted. She left, charging that the branch was putting the interests of the pharmaceutical companies ahead of public safety, and went public with her accusations.
Mr. Blais said he was frequently called in for questioning by his superiors in a manner that made him feel like a criminal for wanting to protect public safety. Although reluctant to give specifics because of the RCMP investigation, he said he also was pressured by industry.
"On one occasion they called and said, 'Don't you know we are millionaires? Why are you making life so difficult for us?' " Mr. Blais said.
The scientists also say cuts to the branch's budget have denied them the tools they need to challenge manufacturers if a product seems unsafe.
In 1993-94, the budget was $237-million; in 1999-2000, it will be $118-million. Laboratories have been closed or scaled back and staff reassigned.
"I am miserable," one researcher said, speaking on condition she not be identified, "because I am responsible for deciding if a product is safe and I can't do my own research, or even access the research of others, to find out. It is a terrible feeling, knowing you are responsible but that you can't do your job."
The scientists also complain that managers without scientific experience regularly overrule their decisions. The result has been strained and at times poisonous employee-management relations.
"The frustrations in the workplace that detract from job satisfaction generally involve the lack of support, inaccessibility, lack of technical knowledge and the inability to admit mistakes," a 1994 report on morale reads. "The decision-making process was thought to be untimely, inconsistent, unfair and, at times, politically based."
A culture of intense secrecy makes it difficult for scientists to do their jobs and for Canadians to know whether they can have faith in the system, the six scientists say.
They were ordered not to speak out publicly. They testified before the Senate committee only after receiving written assurances from Health Minister Allan Rock that they would not be punished.
Mr. Blais said the problems began in the mid-1980s, when the Progressive Conservatives took office in Ottawa. In an effort to cut the backlog of drugs seeking approval, the government contracted out safety reviews to private consultants, some of whom also work for drug manufacturers.
The Liberals took power in 1993 determined to cut the deficit, which exacerbated the problems.
More of the costs have been transferred to the pharmaceutical industry, which now pays for about 70 per cent of its product reviews. Critics say that gives it far too much control over how the department works, an allegation that Health Canada says is unfounded.
Mr. Rock became Health Minister last summer, eager to avoid controversy over a branch that posed problems for his predecessor. He froze the budget cutting, set up an advisory board of independent scientists to help him make decisions and launched a three-year "transition process" to consult Canadians on the future of the branch.
But the furor over bovine growth hormone -- including accusations that managers shredded key documents -- blew up just as the first stage of public consultations were ending.
Obviously frustrated, Mr. Rock has insisted repeatedly that the hormone will not be approved until it is proved to be safe, and his deputy minister, David Dodge, has attempted to reassure the public.
"The job of the department, and we must be extraordinarily clear about it, is to protect the health and safety of Canadians . . .," he told the Senate committee.
Mr. Dodge, a former deputy finance minister, told the committee that the branch suffers the pressures of competing interests.
On one hand, when new drugs -- for example ones used to fight AIDS -- are available elsewhere but not in Canada, the public clamours to speed up their approval. On the other hand, approving unsafe drugs can be deadly.
Mr. Dodge added that the secrecy is necessary because drug companies invest millions in research and do not want it to fall into a competitor's hands. If that were to happen, they will simply ignore the relatively small Canadian market.
However, there has to be a way to "shine light" on branch activities without giving away secrets, Mr. Dodge said. The options would include using the Internet or allowing consumer representation in the approval process.
As for social and moral questions such as those raised by bovine-growth hormone, he said the answer may be to give Parliament a greater role in the decision making.
One major obstacle to the "transition" process for the branch is the low morale among the staff and the deep suspicion some researchers have of their managers and political masters. There is a fear that the proposed reform is actually the final step in the deregulation of health protection begun by the Conservatives.
For example, the government has been accused by the Canadian Health Coalition (made up trade unions and other groups with an interest in the branch) of wanting to rewrite the Food and Drug Act to remove the government's criminal liability should something go wrong. It's an allegation that Ian Shugart, who is in charge of revamping the branch, has denied many times.
And what does Pierre Blais make of it all?
He remains convinced that any change will be cosmetic. "The biggest danger of the process is that it will lull the general public into believing they are protected."
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 16:37:22 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson GENews
The big current item, this drug has been under review for more than eight years. The Health Minister says it won't be approved until he is satisfied it is safe. Documents show that senior branch officials have already told the manufacturer that it poses no threat.
This week, the Health Department issued a warning about toxin dangers in soft plastic toys that youngsters might put in their mouths. Environmentalists want the warning also applied to plastic raincoats, backpacks and dozens of other toys. An earlier study found no risk associated with any such products.
Allowed on the Canadian market without a safety review, it prompted branch scientist Pierre Blais to seek a ban in 1990 after finding that it was covered with a foam used in carpets and upholstery. A year later, the manufacturer withdrew the product after the U.S. government determined that the cover leaked a potential carcinogen.
Tainted blood This fall, Health Minister Allan Rock announced the spending of $125-million over five years to implement the recommendations of the Krever inquiry, which was highly critical of the branch's handling of the blood supply in the 1980s, when thousands of Canadians were infected with hepatitis C and the AIDS virus.
Dr. Michelle Brill-Edwards resigned from the department in part over the approval of this migraine drug, later found potentially dangerous to people with heart conditions.
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 16:37:22 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson GENews
This is from a european newsletter
December/ January 1999 Number 11
Newsletter of the Genetic Engineering Network: Information for Action
There is now no doubt about the tremendous impact that campaigns across the UK against genetically manipulated foods are having on Monsanto and major food retailers.
The massive propaganda campaign run by Monsanto over the summer has completely failed. A report leaked to Greenpeace, written for Monsanto by a former polling advisor to Clinton, Blair and Nelson Mandela, reveals "an on-going collapse of public support for biotechnology and GM foods. At each point in this project, we keep thinking that we have reached the low point and that public thinking will stabilise, but we apparently have not reached that point." Retailers interviewed in the report suggest that GM food could "turn out like irradiation. Which is, you don't do it." Others talk of a "fifty-fifty" chance of "losing to the pressure groups".
Such comments reflect the amazing amount of work that has gone into the campaign against GE and provides inspiration for it to continue to grow. More and more people are opposing the activities of biotech giants like Monsanto and the complicity of major retailers and food producers. The public perceived the biotechnology companies as " willing to risk great human danger in order to make profits." The message for Monsanto is clear: stop genetic manipulation of food.
What is also depressingly clear from this report is the acceptance by politicians of the "benefits" of genetic manipulation, "70% of the MPs (interviewed) reacted positively to GM foods." Just how out of touch are these people? Even a moratorium " gets little support among the MPs and civil servants."
For a copy of the Monsanto leak phone 0800 269065 or visit the Greenpeace website: http:/www.greenpeace.org.uk/monsanto
A Public Policy Press Release
From the Organic Farmers Marketing Association (OFMA)
Communication/Telecommunication Committee Co-chairs: Cecilia Bowman,
email@example.com, Eric Kindberg, firstname.lastname@example.org
December 4, 1998
After due consideration the Board of Directors of the Organic Farmers Marketing Association has determined the following:
The Organic Farmers Marketing Association calls for an complete prohibition on the use of Genetically Engineered plants, seeds, microbials, animals and derivatives from GE products in certified organic farm food and fiber production.
By Marie Woolf, Political Correspondent
Front Page - UK Independent on Sunday, 13 December 1998
A KEY government report on the effects of growing genetically modified crops has been suppressed because of its controversial warning of serious environmental risks. It says there are serious dangers to Britain's hedgerows, birds and indigenous plants from growing GM crops on a commercial scale.
The report, commissioned by ministers to assess the potential effects of cultivating GM food in Britain, concludes that there are insufficient safeguards to stop the creation of hybrid multi-resistant plants.
It lists a series of "gaps" in the UK's regulatory framework, leaving Britain's wildlife at serious risk of damage from genetically modified plants and other intensive farming methods.
The news comes as the Health and Safety Executive, responsible for monitoring GM crop trials, has revealed that in the six months between April and October this year more than one in 10 of the 49 sites inspected during that period had been breaking the regulations governing trials. This week it is expected to prosecute Monsanto for such breaches - the first ever criminal case of its kind.
The study, written by civil servants after widespread consultation with government advisers, also warns that the commercial growth of GM crops could lead to more pesticides being sprayed on Britain's fields.
Date: 9 Dec 1998 04:19:56 -0600
From: Shane Morris email@example.com
By PAUL RECER AP Science Writer , AP Headlines , Tuesday December 8 7:10 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AP) - Japanese researchers report that they have cloned eight, genetically identical calves from cells removed from a single adult cow.
In a study to be published this week in the journal Science, researchers from three Japanese institutions report that the calves were cloned with techniques similar to those used to clone the famed Scottish sheep known as Dolly.
The Japanese said they transferred the nuclei from cells removed from a single adult animal into cow eggs from which the nuclei had been removed. The eggs and the transferred cell nuclei fused and grew into blastocysts, an early embryonic stage that resembles a ball of cells. Ten blastocysts were placed into five unrelated cows, all of which became pregnant. Eight calves were born from the 10 blastocysts, but four of the eight animals died shortly after birth from what the
Each of the surviving calves is a genetic duplicate of the cow from which the cells were removed, the researchers.
Cloning cows in this manner, the scientists said, gives an important economic benefit because it could, in effect, duplicate cows that are
Japanese researchers reported last month that they had cloned at least 15 calves using the Dolly technique. Japan imports much of its beef and agricultural researchers have been aggressively studying cloning techniques as a way of improving the meat and milk production. Dolly was the first mammal in history to be cloned from an adult cell. Researchers announced last year that the Finn Dorset sheep was cloned from using the nucleus taken from a cell that had been removed from the udder of an adult sheep.
American researchers have since cloned calves using cells taken from unborn cows. Laboratory mice also have been cloned using the Dolly technique.
In the new Japanese work, the researchers used two different types of cells removed from the reproductive tract of a single Japanese beef cow. Both types of cells carried the same genetic pattern as the donor adult cow, and all of the cloned calves retained this same pattern, proving that they were true clones, the researchers said.
However, the Japanese researchers said they have achieved a higher degree of efficiency than earlier Scottish and American researchers. They said that 23 percent of one type of cell, the oviductal, developed into advanced embryos, while 49 percent of another type of cell, the cumulus, were successful.
Dolly's creators had hundreds of failures and some American researchers reported a success rate of only about 12 percent.
Date: 9 Dec 1998 12:51:07 -0600
From: Judy_Kew@greenbuilder.com (Judy Kew)
The Boston Globe had a good article on the Mothers for Natural Law and the petition campaign to get GE foods labeled in last Sunday's edition. The Associated Press picked it up on Monday (according to Laura Ticcati). But it got held up at the Washington AP office. New Hampshire got it because they have a version of the Boston Globe.
Iowa now has it because people there called their local newspapers asking them to get it from the Washington AP office. They said they wanted to see it and they wanted their papers to carry it. So now it is "in newspapers all over Iowa."
Apparently this is the only way for it to get anywhere. Individuals can just phone the Washington AP office and request it.
So, can you please call your local newspapers and ask them to get you the article and encourage them to print it since there is local and state interest where you are.
Perhaps someone knows the title of the article from the website or from the Boston Globe itself. That may help in this endeavor. (And does the article mention how many signatures we have?)
Thank you very much for your help.
Green Building Professionals Directory: http://www.greenbuilder.com/directory
By Ronnie Cummins
Campaign for Food Safety/Organic Consumers Action
As reported in Food Bytes #13 ("Monsanto Under Attack") things have not been going so well for the gene engineers at Monsanto. In fact lately their situation seems to have degenerated from bad to worse. Besides slipping stock prices and persistence rumors of an unfriendly takeover by Dupont or another corporate giant, the Biomasters of Biotech have suffered from a rash of recent reversals including:
Also in Arkansas, on Nov. 24, seven farmers filed legal complaints against Monsanto, claiming that they were sold soybean seed with low germination rates. The complaints, filed with the Arkansas State Plant Board, involve several seed varieties that utilize Monsanto's Roundup Ready gene technology.
"As a chef who is concerned about food quality, I want to be able to serve my customers the purest foods I can find," said Peter Hoffman, chef of the New York restaurant Savoy and board member of the national organization Chefs Collaborative 2000. "This means locally grown food from farmers I trust, not untested foods which may harm my customers." Chefs Collaborative is a non-profit membership organization of 1500 chefs across America who are dedicated to the ethic of sustainable cuisine.
---|||### End of Food Bytes #15 ###|||---
Campaign for Food Safety/Organic Consumers Action 860 Hwy 61, Little Marais, Mn. 55614
Tel. 218-226-4164, Fax 218-226-4157, email firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.purefood.org
To subscribe to the free electronic newsletter, Food Bytes, send an email to: email@example.com with the simple message: subscribe pure-food-action
Date: 9 Dec 1998 15:10:42 -0600
A SEED Europe is looking for an activist to work for a period of 6 months in Amsterdam in our campaigning against genetic engineering. The main focus of our work is to Round Up Monsanto and some of the other GE giants, such as Novartis. We also run other campaigning activities designed at movement building against GE in Europe.
The main aspects of the position will include
Producinga directory of activism and campaigning against genetic engineering Coordinatingthe production of a comic book on GE Publishinga Monsanto & Co. Monitor Newsletter Organisingand coordinating actions
The job will begin on March 1 1999.
We are looking for an activist with someknowledge of genetic engineering (GE) and the politics of GE experiencein networking generally someknowledge of activism against genetic engineering in Europe experiencein organising and coordinating action creativityand a sense of humour!
A SEED Europe (Action for Solidarity, Equality, Environment and Development) is the European hub of a global youth network committed to environmental and social justice. Currently, the A SEED Europe office is made up of 10 people. Campaigns running from A SEED Europe include Oilwatch Europe, a campaign against the K2R4 nuclear power plants in the Ukraine, transport issues, Forests and Rounding Up Monsanto and Co.
A SEED Europe is primarily a youth network. For this reason, we are looking for some one (preferably) under 30.
For further information on the position and our campaigning work, contact the A SEED office.
TO APPLY Send a C.V. and a letter stating your motivations to A SEED Europe (details below) by Wednesday, January 20 1999. (Emailed applications are accepted).
Interviews will take place in Amsterdam January 29- February 1 1999, so please keep these dates free.
A SEED Europe
P.O. Box 92066, 1090 AB Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Tel: 00 31 20 468 26 16, Fax: 00 31 20 468 22 75, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Date: 9 Dec 1998 15:16:23 -0600
Indiana organic soybean farmer Paul Vidrine seems to have come to the end of his patience with mainstream ag journals:
I have read the Soybean Digest for many years. I tended not to put too much stock in what I read in it because I know where a lot of the advertising money is coming from, large chemical companies.
I know a lot of farmers buy into these chemical companys' idea of what farming should look like in the future (Steve Pitstick, etc.), so I never bothered to write to you.
But two letters in the Dec. '98 issue caught my eye and made me think that there may still be a few farmers out there who have enough sense to think for themselves.
Mr. Samuel Justice voiced a concern I have long had with the issue of bio-engineering, which, according to it's proponents, is supposed to be good for farmers (more yield), good for the environemnt (less insecticides), and good for consumers (end-use specific crops, cheap food, etc.). These sound like wonderful things, but the fact is that the reason they are being pushed so hard is because they are good, extremely good, for the bank accounts of the companies dealing this technology.
As Rose Marie Guetterman noted, how can farmers continue to pay the high technology fees for this while getting the current poor prices for their crops? I have long wondered why farmers have been told that they must be more efficient and raise more food in order to feed a hungry world, and then have those same farmers pay some promotional organization to figure out what to do with all the crops they are producing. Soybean crayons and candles are interesting, but I thought I was supposed to be FEEDING the world, not supplying it with candles and crayons. And if the food is so important to a hungry world, why aren't grain prices 4 times what they are now? They should be, if our food is so important.
More and more scientific evidence has been coming out supporting the view that bi-engineering is potentially, and quite likely, unsafe. It is surely un-needed, since, judging from the prices being paid for grain, the grain isn't worth much. As bad as Bt corn or RR beans may be, they are nothing compared to the "terminator" technology coming out, with the help and support of our very own USDA. I am frightened, really and truly frightened, by this. Has ANYONE stopped to think what could happen if this gene were to become spread around in our environment? As soon as you plant a field of it, it WILL be. It doesn't sound to me like too many people are THINKING about this at all. Scientists are too arrogant (or ag companies are too greedy) to admit that they do not fully understand this technology. And they certainly have no historical data or evidence to support their claims that this technology is safe. Our farms and our planet is the testing ground. Doesn't that frighten anyone besides me?
Here's what I'd like to know: If or, more correctly, when this happens, and some of our most important crops become "terminated", what will we then do?
Will we get together and sue the USDA or the ag company responsible for this "termination"? Fat chance. What good will that do? Will that eliminate the problem? No. Will we pass a law banning the "terminator" gene? Will some judge order the USDA or the ag company to go out and collect all the "terminator" genes? No. It will then be too late. Doe's anyone understand that?
It will then be TOO DAMNED LATE.
Glass Hill Farms, Indiana
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our website, http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html contains more information on genetic engineering as well as previous genetic engineering news items Subscription fee to genetic engineering news is $35 for 12 months See website for details.
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