Genetically Manipulated Food News

21 January 99

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Table of Contents

Civil Action Movie - a must to see.
Prof. J. Cummins commenting on Canada Rejecting rBGH
Organic Food Industry Moves Toward World-Wide Body
USDA, Universities to Establish New Corn Genetics Center
Do We Need Transgenic Crops?
Antidairy Coalition: Canada Disapproves BST
Dakar Declaration of Via Campesina
Eating Raw GM Potatoes has a Profound Physiological Effect
Pro- rBGH Article from the Chicago Tribune

Date: 17 Jan 1999 15:40:26 -0600
From: betty martini

Civil Action Movie - a must to see.

Obviously everyone knows about aspartame. Crowd drawn!

Tonight I saw Civil Action. It is also mentioned on page 166 of Dr. Roberts new novel, the Case of Conspiracy ( 1 800 -814-9800). During the movie Duval, who is an attorney for Beatrice Foods, is asking questions of the father of a victim whose child died, obviously from the chemical spill of the factories. But Duval wants to put other poisons in his mind.

"Are these products used - SUGARFREE GUM, ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS, DIET DRINKS?" I guess the whole audience when I stood up and said "YES, YES, THEY KNOW"!

As we left a crowd was drawn, everybody wanted a warning flyer. So many people were talking about aspartame that I couldn't listen to them all at once. However, the major comment was " we read about it all the time on the Internet". One man said: "Of course, we all know - thanks for more in formation" !

Are - Monsanto's days now numbered? Two of the factories were closed in the movie in the end - a true story, of course, and the hero attorney is practicing in Toms River, New Jersey today!

And if anyone has never seen I Love Trouble, be sure to get that movie from your video store - it is the story of the bovine growth hormone. In it it says: "It will be like NutraSweet that makes a billion a year" . "Chess Chemical" also made Agent Orange. Written as fiction it warned the world !



  1. Take the 60-day No Aspartame Test and send us your case history. Mission Possible International 5950-H State Bridge Rd. #215 Duluth, GA 30097 USA
  2. Tell your doctor and all of your friends!
  3. Return Asparcidal food to the store. (anything with Monsanto's NutraSweet/Equal/Spoonful/Benevia/NatraTaste)
VISIT Get links to over 30 sites on aspartame
VISIT ..FAQs & Cases
VISIT Exposing Bovine Growth Hormone

Disability and Death are not acceptable costs of business!

Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 22:11:03 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Prof. J. Cummins commenting on Canada Rejecting rBGH

Copy of a letter sent in by Prof. Joseph Cummins to The London Free Press


I am commenting on the article "Bovine hormone rejected" Jan.15,1999 that dealt with the rejection by Health Canada of the use of genetically engineered bovine growth hormone in Canada. Canada now joins Europe in rejecting use of the potentially dangerous drug to force animals to produce excessive milk for a market that overproduces milk in the absence of the drug. Health Canada acted appropriately on the recommendations of one of two committees reviewing the drug.

The conclusion, by the human health committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons , that there was no significant risk for people ingesting products from growth hormone treated animals does not acknowledge that there is extensive credible evidence that the genetically engineered hormone may increase levels of insulin like growth hormone leading to increased risk of breast and prostate cancer. Frankly, the College committee appears to be the judgement of biased advocates of the chemical industry who demand a huge body count of human suffering before they admit that a drug poses problems. They have a tunnel vision of the evidence and convince themselves that evidence that disagrees with their conclusions does not exist.

Furthermore, the complaints of Health Canada scientists of pressure to approve drugs they consider unsafe continues to be rejected by panels of bureaucrats. Such bureaucratic reviews are tainted by the direct payments government ministries receive from the chemical industry. A judicial review of the health Ministry would be desirable but an international panel of unbiased experts may finally be required to clear the stench of chemical industry money.

Prof. Joe Cummins
738 Wilkins Street
London, N6C4Z9

Date: 18 Jan 1999 00:32:36 -0600
From: (Judy Kew)


Organic Food Industry Moves Toward World-Wide Body

Sustainable Business Insider 01/08/99

10 years ago, organic certifiers weren't able to agree on production standards, but the Organic Certifiers Council recently voted unanimously to move toward one standard and one accrediting agency, part of the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM).

Although it is still struggling for international recognition, IFOAM is the only organization equipped to do world-wide accreditation. This avoids the logistical nightmare of national accreditors trying to check all the imports and exports of organic products to and from every nation.

The agreement is largely in response to the poor accreditation rules the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture proposed a year ago. The USDA is still busy sloshing through the 280,000 comments it received. In this scenario, the USDA would merely help implement the industry-led system of accreditation. Organic leaders say now is the time to develop an alternative plan before the government comes up with one. IFOAM, in conjunction with industry, could have a complete organic inspection, certification, and accreditation structure in place before the U.S. government can even come up with a set of standards.

"This is the only industry that wants stricter standards. Can you imagine the auto industry asking for stricter standards?," asked Andrew Duchovnay, publisher of Organic Law Review.

IFOAM Email: [1]
Source: [3] Natural Foods Merchandiser
[4] Index of all EarthVision Stories



Reply-To: (Margaret Weston) Date: Mon, 11 Jan 1999 02:49:19 -0600 Subject: Organic Food Industry Moves Toward Worldwide Body


Green Building Professionals Directory:



Date: 18 Jan 1999 00:33:08 -0600
From: (Judy Kew)

USDA, Universities to Establish New Corn Genetics Center

ARS News Service, Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Ben Hardin, (309) 681-6597, January 15, 1999

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15--Corn could become an even higher yielding food and feed crop in the 21st century, now that U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists and university collaborators are establishing a new maize genetics research center.

Eileen T. Kennedy, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics announced the center's establishment today. The center, in facilities at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is being funded through a five-year, $11.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

"The new maize genetics research center will expand our scientists' capacity to improve corn as a food and feed crop through harnessing biotechnology and computers to crack the plant's genetic code," Kennedy said. "Corn has been bred for millennia. Its improvement through hybridization is one of the triumphs of agriculture in this century. Now, research at the new center will help corn improvement take off again in the next century."

On Sunday, Jan. 17, Kennedy will speak at a workshop on federal funding of plant genome research at the Plant and Animal Genome VII Conference, held Jan. 17-21 in San Diego, Calif. More than 1,000 scientists and others from around the country and the world have registered to attend. USDA is co-sponsoring the conference along with universities and nonprofit and industry groups.

"Genome" refers to the complete set of the genes of an organism. An estimated 50,000 genes control corn's growth, development, yield and grain qualities. "Maize" is the name used for corn worldwide.

The maize project includes collaboration among three scientists of USDA's Agricultural Research Service at Columbia, Mo., with three colleagues at the University of Missouri, and scientists at Clemson University and University of Georgia. ARS geneticist Edward H. Coe, Jr., at ARS' Plant Genetics Research Unit in Columbia envisions the project resulting in corn that:

Besides the maize project, six other ARS scientists will participate with university researchers in other genome research projects awarded NSF grants totaling $31.6 million. NSF announced these grants, and others, in the fall of 1998.

"We aim to keep U.S. leadership in genome research on the cutting edge," said Kennedy. "The grants will help ensure that large amounts of genetic materials and information are shared throughout the research community after they are developed by scientists in public institutions."

Coe and his University of Missouri colleagues first started working on an informal maize genome map database in the 1970's. In 1991, USDA formalized the database. By 2002, the scientists hope to develop a map containing information on all the corn genes.

To detail the structure and function of maize genes, the scientists will create and research a vast library of bacteria cell lines. Each cell line will have a chromosome containing a different fragment of DNA from maize.

The researchers will organize a maize DNA database to help scientific colleagues compare corn with sorghum, rice and other cereal grains. The comparisons may lay groundwork for simultaneously improving the crops through biotechnology.

Other ARS participation in the NSF-funded genome grants includes:

Scientific contact:
Edward H. Coe, Jr., ARS Plant Genetics Research Unit, Columbia, Mo., phone (573) 882-2768, fax (573) 884-7850,

During the Plant and Animal Genome VII Conference, Coe may be reached from Jan. 17-21 at the Town and Country Hotel, phone (619) 291-7131. The number for the conference registration desk in the hotel's Atlas Foyer is (619) 291-7131, ext. 3939.

This item is one of the news releases and story leads that ARS Information distributes on weekdays to fax and e-mail subscribers. You can also get the latest ARS news on the World Wide Web at


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Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 21:54:32 -0800 (PST)
From: (Beth von Gunten)


Green Building Professionals Directory:



Date: 18 Jan 1999 19:30:56 -0600
From: (Judy Kew)

Via: Capitol Macintosh, Austin's Mac User Group TCP Port 3000: or by modem +1.512.288.0992 (4 lines)

Via: (Margaret Weston)

Do We Need Transgenic Crops?

By Nivedita Prabhu
The Economic Times, India, Saturday 2 January, 1999

The September issue of the Ecologist tears apart Monsanto's claims of being a 'life sciences' firm and shows that it is just another rapacious company with a terrible environmental record right from the Vietnam war days when it manufactured 'agent orange' to its current production of transgenic crops.

But basically the expose on Monsanto reveals confusion and fear over the direction agriculture will take once giant corporations with patented seeds force a biotechnology revolution. What will happen to biodiversity, the traditional right of farmers to save seed and food security and in the case of transgenic plants, the choice of food we eat? What about the whole ethical issue of crossing plant genes with those from animals?

These questions are not even being heard in India. Thanks to the din and frenzy created by the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha has taken the focus away from the real issue of what giant seed companies portend for the future of agriculture in poor countries.

A major problem with genetically engineered crops is that transgenes may escape and create fertile offsprings from wild relatives. So a hybrid of a herbicide resistant crop with a wild relative may result in a herbicide tolerant weed, 'superweed', as it is dramatically called. For this reason, in Canada, transgenic oats are banned because it has wild relatives everywhere.

However, just as trangenes are capable of moving to wild relatives so are genes from conventional crops. There are instances of crossovers which have resulted in the wiping out of an entire plant species in nature. Therefore, it is difficult to determine whether a crop, genetically engineered or otherwise, can pose a threat to the environment.

So there is a strong unpredictability factor. The need for caution arises from the fact that once introduced in the environment, there is no way to curb the GE seed from spreading. If a farmer decides to switch from a transgenic crop to a normal one, there is no guarantee that his new crop would be entirely free of transgenic plants.

This is where the so called 'terminator' technology steps in. Biotech companies are working on creating sterile crops. These sterility technologies will take care of the problem of bio-pollution. Monsanto and other such companies can then claim their GE products are no threat to the environment.

However, the real reason behind this research is the control bio-tech companies can have over farmers using their products. Infertile crops would mean that farmers would have to depend on the seed suppliers every sowing season.

As bio-tech companies aggressively market their GE products in developing countries, governments will have to be cautious. So little is known about plant genes altered by the insertion of animal or bacterial genes. It is surprising then that the government here has been so casual about a subject that is being hotly debated in other parts of the globe.

Apart from the safety aspect, for India, GE products would have implications for food security. So far, despite the promises of drought and disease resistance, these crops have not contributed to mitigating hunger. In Brazil, Monsanto's Roundup ready soyabean (resistant to Roundup, a herbicide produced by Monsanto) is being sown by big farmers to feed cattle for beef exports. It is of no use to the subsistence farmer.

Sterility technologies threaten to make farmers captive customers of seed and agrochemical giants. Along with the decision to ban the terminator gene, it is time for the agriculture ministry to seriously study the economic and ecological implications of genetically engineered crops. Most of all, at the tail end of a green revolution (and severely damaged the ecology), we should ask ourselves something fundamental: do we really need genetically-modified-crop technology to raise yields?


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Date: 18 Jan 1999 21:30:57 -0600
From: betty martini Subject: Fwd: ADC Newsletter 011799


This is news that affects the MILK/DAIRY industry. Should you wish to be removed from this list at any time simply send an Email to: Subject: "Remove from ADC List" (Please use the same Email address that brought this Email to you)

From: To:

Antidairy Coalition: Canada Disapproves BST

************* Weekly Newsletter **************

Read the columns you missed at:

This file at:


Canada Disapproves BST
The Odyssey
Headline: "Health Canada" Rejects Bovine Growth Hormone
Human Health Concerns
Window Of Opportunity
Canada's Watergate-style Break-in
Health Was An Issue!
I'll Be Back
Bottom Line

Here we go again:

Canada Disapproves BST

How did an important story like this make headline news in every newspaper in Canada and then receive little or no mention in America's media?

After reviewing the New York Times (motto: All the News That's Fit to Print") WEEK IN REVIEW, Section 4 for January 17, 1999, the only piece of news about cows comes from Representative James A. Trafficant, Jr., Ohio Democrat. Here is what the Congressman said:

"Mr. Speaker, talking about garbage, the E.P.A. is spending $210,000 to study cow belching and its effects on global warming. Here is how it works. Cows will wear backpacks and have hoses connected to their mouths. Tell me, Mr. Speaker, what happens if the backpack is so tight and instead of an oral emission, Elsie goes 7.0 on the Richter scale? Will the President declare a garbage emergency...? Or how about maybe appoint a Congressional Bovine Burp Task Force. Or maybe, the E.P.A. will require-think about it-scrubbers on udders, bag hoses on nostrils. I think we ought to take cattle prods to the E.P.A."

The most controversial drug application in the history of the United States had become the most controversial drug application in Canada. In America, the drug was approved amidst great debate and media coverage. In Canada the drug was TURNED down amidst great media coverage. Nary a word in America after Canada denied what we approved. Curious...


The Odyssey

A multi-national pharmaceutical giant worth multi-billions of dollars recently clashed with a group of activists and environmentalists on the regulatory field of battle. A funny thing happened on the way to the forum. The improbable "war" continued for nearly ten long years. Neither side could defeat the other. The anti-BST activists were empowered when they discovered the Achilles heel of the pharmaceutical giant, MONSANTO. An enormous horse was left outside of the gates of the city of Troy, its belly hollow. The adversaries of the omnipotent army that had laid siege for so many years rejoiced and brought that gift into their once great nation.

The celebration still goes on. A victory dance as hollow as the stomach cavity of that wooden horse veils the true meaning of victory and the consequence of defeat. Monsanto has sailed away from Canada...just far enough so that their ships have disappeared beyond the horizon. In the middle of the night, just as Odysseus slipped from within the Trojan horse's belly, so too will MONSANTO return to Canada. The gates have been left open and this time there will be no defense.


MONSANTO Agricultural Company of St. Louis, Missouri genetically engineered the bovine growth hormone (BST). Cows injected with MONSANTO'S hormone produce more milk. In seeking approval for their drug, MONSANTO invested $500 million dollars and submitted 55,000 pages of scientific research to FDA.

This application and subsequent approval became the most controversial in FDA history. MONSANTO also applied for approval in Canada. Canadian scientists and government bureaucrats enjoyed an opportunity to learn from America's approval process. MONSANTO research was rigorously reviewed and many adverse effects, previously missed by FDA scientists and reviewers, were discovered by their Canadian counterparts.

Headline: "Health Canada" Rejects Bovine Growth Hormone

January 14, 1999: Health Canada announced today that it would not approve the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone for sale in Canada. The Acting Director General for Policy, Planning and Coordination of Canada's health protection branch, Health Canada (the Canadian equivalent of America's FDA), issued the official report. In his denial, acting director Joel Weiner wrote:


Human Health Concerns

In the official denial of MONSANTO'S application there was no mention of any concern for human health and safety issues, yet for the past six months Canadian newspapers and television news shows have made this application the most controversial drug application in Canadian history. Six Canadian scientists, reviewing MONSANTO'S application, came forward with an official complaint. They accused their superiors of pressuring them into approving MONSANTO'S hormone without having the opportunity to study the actual research.

When these scientists obtained the research, they discovered that laboratory animals got cancer from MONSANTO'S drug.

Health Canada issued a well-publicized "GAP REPORT." That report considered many of the issues raised in my book, MILK-The Deadly Poison. For example, a pasteurization fraud resulted in the original approval of BST in America. That research was originally performed in Guelph, Ontario, and first reported by me. I have worked closely with officials of the Canadian government during the past two years, seeing to it that they reviewed the "smoking guns."

The key study leading to BST approval in the USA was the "Richard, Odaglia and Deslex report." That study was NOT reviewed by America's FDA until nearly two years after BST's approval. Last year I discussed this key evidence with Senator Eugene Whelan, the Chairman of the Canadian Senate committee reviewing the issues. I worked with environmental groups, seeking to have the actual study acknowledged.

Window Of Opportunity

In America, a Freedom of Information Act request for the key study was filed (by this author) and a suit in federal court was argued before a judge. MONSANTO continued to enjoy protection from having the study released. The application process in Canada provided the window of opportunity for the TRUTH to be revealed. The Canadian scientists would now have a chance to review the actual study. Armed with proof of cancer, the genetically engineered hormone could never be approved.

Canada's Watergate-style Break-in

During the Canadian review process, the safe containing the study was broken into. Files were stolen. However, the scientists had an opportunity to review the 90-day study and discovered that laboratory animals treated with this food additive had gotten CANCER. What was stolen? The second half of the study! Every American review board (FDA, USDA, NIH, etc.) refers to this key study as a 90-day study. In fact, the study lasted for 180 days and all the animals got cancer. FDA reported no biological effects. The Canadian scientists found a number of different cancers including colon and prostate cancers.

Where's the study? Now it will never be released in Canada either.

Health Was An Issue!

Rats were tested to determine human safety. The rats got cancer. Human consumption of this hormone may not be safe. Canada's approval specified concern for cow safety only. Cow safety had not been the controversial issue. Has there been a case of universal amnesia? Are Canadian and world activists celebrating a bit too much, becoming inebriated on the sweet wine of victory just as the ancient Trojans drank to a stupor, losing the war in the middle of the night while their sentinels slept?

I'll Be Back

Arnold Schwarzenegger played the role of a not-to-be deterred killer android in the movie, TERMINATOR. Before donning his sunglasses, the TERMINATOR warns: "I'll be back."

A spokesman for the MONSANTO Canada Company, Vice President Ray Mowling, warned:

"We're not finished with the approval process. We're going to respond to the animal side."

Indeed! Now that Health Canada has removed human safety issues, ignoring their own discovery that the rats got remains only a matter of time before BST gains approval in Canada. Yesterday's victory is a hollow one. Tomorrow's MONSANTO victory is assured. Cow safety is NOT an issue. American "factory farms" have proven that proper dairy management eliminates cow safety concerns. Anyway, all dairy cows face the same fate. Ultimately, their flesh ends up on a Burger King hamburger. What's the difference whether it takes two years or eight? To make cow safety the lone concern is to guarantee that this non-issue will soon lead to licensing of BST in Canada.

Bottom Line

Americans continue to eat the cheese and butter, ice cream and milk from cows treated with a hormone that caused cancer in laboratory animals. By rejecting BST and by merely citing concerns for the health of cows, Canada continues to IMPORT American products containing hormones that Canadian scientists confirmed to have caused cancer in laboratory animals. There seems to have been a lot more at stake than just human safety during the Canadian review. Perhaps it was also "business and politics as usual."

Robert Cohen (1-201-871-5871)
Executive Director
ANTIDAIRY Coalition:


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1. Take the 60-day No Aspartame Test and send us your case history. Mission Possible International 5950-H State Bridge Rd. #215 Duluth, GA 30097 USA
2. Tell your doctor and all of your friends!
3. Return Asparcidal food to the store. (anything with Monsanto's NutraSweet/Equal/Spoonful/Benevia/NatraTaste)

VISIT Get links to over 30 sites on aspartame
VISIT ..FAQs & Cases
VISIT Exposing Bovine Growth Hormone

Disability and Death are not acceptable costs of business!

Date: 19 Jan 1999 07:45:19 -0600

Coordination Paysanne Européenne wrote:

Via Campesina
International farmers movement
Movimiento campesino international
Mouvement paysan international

secretaria operativa/operative secretariat:
Apdo Postal 3628 Tegucigalpa,
MDC Honduras, C.A.
Tel & fax : + 504 220 1218 E-mail:

Dakar Declaration of Via Campesina

Dakar, November 1998

Peasant and farm organisation leaders from around the world gathered for an historic meeting with farmers organisations from over 15 African countries in Dakar, Senegal during the first week of November 1998. During its first meeting in Africa, the co-ordinating committee of the Via Campesina, a world-wide movement of peasants and small-scale farmers, learned of the concerns and aspirations of African peasants and fishers, as well as the extreme difficulties they are striving to surmount.

The systematic exploitation and marginalisation of Africa historically, is currently continuing under the new guises of globalisation. While more than 80% of African peasants, the majority of whom are women, are engaged in subsistence farming, this invaluable work of feeding people is made increasingly difficult in today's harsh economic and environmental conditions. Food producers lack adequate equipment and means of restoring soils, which are degraded by overuse and drought.

But the over riding concern is that of low prices for products. The importation of low-priced products from elsewhere in the world (food dumping) is destroying the domestic food market by undermining the prices of locally grown products. This is making it increasingly difficult for peasants to continue farming. It is contributing to growing poverty and food insecurity.

For those producers who export cash crops into the international market, low commodity prices and lack of market power make it impossible in many instances to meet the costs of production. These low prices assure the profitability of the transnational traders while continuing the pattern of unjust and unsustainable exploitation of the natural resources available in the African countryside.

The representatives of the Via Campesina concluded that the problems of African peasants are shared by peasants and farmers in many parts of the world. The globalisation of the food trade under the current WTO, and the systematic undervaluing of peasant agriculture are leading to increasing food insecurity, environmental degradation and the destruction of the rural society. This situation demands a collective world-wide response from peasants and farmers.

The organisations of the Via Campesina are committed to building sustainable alternatives which serve the interests of people rather than capital. Genuine food security requires food sovereignty: that is, the right of every people to produce their own food and to shape the conditions necessary for sustaining their own food production. The critique of current conditions and the demands for alternative methods and values are as urgent in the African context as in Asia, the Americas and Europe. Because the problems global reach, peasants are beginning to work in solidarity around the world to find viable, long-term solutions.

The Via Campesina vehemently denounces the perpetration of wars in some African countries which is destroying people and their capacity to produce food. The sowing of landmines that poison the countryside, instead of seeds, is totally unacceptable.

The Via Campesina is an international farmers' mouvement that was founded in 1993 and has over 70 participating farmers' organisations form over 35 countries.

Date: 19 Jan 1999 22:32:33 -0600
From: "Robert D. Klauber"

Eating Raw GM Potatoes has a Profound Physiological Effect

Source: Thorkild C. Bøg-Hansen, Senior Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. January 1, 1999. A commentary on results reported by Dr S.W.B.Ewen, a senior pathologist at the University of Aberdeen, at the meeting of the COST 98 Action (European Union Program) in Lund, Sweden, 25-27 November 1998.

Dr Ewen's results clearly showed the errors in the Audit Report that followed Dr Pusztai's suspension from the Rowett Research Institute.

The experiments clearly showed that ... the GM potatoes caused a major intraepithelial lymphocyte infiltration similar to inflammatory responses. Dr Ewen characterized the changes as damaging.

The talk was followed by a discussion in which Dr Pusztai emphasized that Dr Ewen's results clearly showed up the errors in the conclusions of the Audit Report.

Many scientists at the meeting expressed the view that as GM potatoes had such major effects on the gut and tissue metabolism in the rat, these highlighted the need for further testing of GM plants used for food with novel and more sensitive methods before their safe use in human and/or animal diets.

Date: 20 Jan 1999 15:26:14 -0600

Looks like the Canadian rejection of BGH is spawning a round of pro-news stories....

Please compare the reporting style to Burson-Marsteller's Propaganda Strategy Paper for EuropaBio. Sounds familiar!

Pro- rBGH Article from the Chicago Tribune

From the Arknasas Democrat Gazette:

"Dairy farmers pump up profits with synthetic hormone"

This article was published on Monday, January 18, 1999

But the nation isn't floating in it despite fast-growing usage of a production-boosting hormone, indicating that the economic warnings and safety concerns of several years ago may be unfounded.

"Cows are our livelihood," said Linnea Kooistra, who with her husband, Joel, operates one of McHenry County's largest dairy farms, near Woodstock, Ill. "We are going to take the best care possible of our herd."

They are among the 13,000 milk producers who use recombinant bovine somatotropin, or BST, a synthetic version of a naturally occurring bovine growth hormone. The product can increase milk output per cow an average of about 10 percent, according to Monsanto Co., which markets BST under the name Posilac. Dairy country has accepted, if reluctantly, the biotechnology that was once viewed as a threat to the financial health of small producers because it was feared the resulting higher production would bring lower prices.

But today, milk prices received by farmers are at record levels and increases in milk production may be, if anything, below trend. Consumer demand for dairy products pushed farm gate prices from a low of $10.88 per hundred pounds in May to $16.84 [about $1.45 a gallon] in November, and undoubtedly above $17 for December.

Fears of an ocean of milk and mountains of butter and cheese, dreaded by dairy farmers when Posilac was approved five years ago, have evaporated as usage increased.

Controversy over health issues has died down also. Self- described consumer advocates on occasion still pitch unproved charges that are dismissed by most relevant scientists and government regulators. And a few dairies have established niche businesses that cater to the biotech-wary, promoting their products as free of the synthetic stuff.

Production has increased for the Kooistras' 280-cow herd, but Joel Kooistra said that an improved mixed feed ration and comfortable open-air facilities for the cows get much of the credit.

Still, he said, "Posilac has become almost a necessity because it extends productive cow life and keeps milk production up when the cow is not pregnant." Linnea Kooistra calculates that the average production gain for cows on Posilac, which they have used since the first day it was allowed -- Feb. 4, 1994 -- is about 12 pounds per cow per day.

Nationally, the average yearly production per cow will be up for 1998, but only 1 percent to 1.5 percent, to around 17,100 pounds, according to dairy specialist James Miller of the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More normal gains range from 1.8 percent to 2 percent, he said.

He said that with milk prices high and feed costs low, "Dairy farmers have had the best incentives to expand since World War II," but production figures don't show it. "Monsanto has been coy for the last couple of years about the numbers it discloses on BST usage," Miller said. "Even so, there appears to be a sizable discrepancy between the company's statements and the milk production data reported by the National Agriculture Statistics Service."

Miller granted that USDA statistics could be off base and that the estimated number of milk cows -- around 9 million -- could be too high. The department later this month will release an actual count, taken every five years. "Nothing I have seen would imply that there has been a major problem with NASS numbers," Miller said.

But, he noted, production was cut by weather and crops. Last spring, excessive rain in California caused mud problems that stressed the cows and lowered output in the top milk-producing state. Even more important, Miller said, was spotty forage quality in northern dairy areas.

While agreeing that the company had been coy with numbers previously, Monsanto spokesman Gary Barton asserted that Posilac sales wouldn't be increasing nor would the company be spending millions of dollars for a new production plant in Augusta, Ga., if it were ineffective.

Monsanto claims that about 30 percent of the nation's dairy cows, or around 2.7 million, are in herds supplemented with Posilac. At any one time, because of lactation cycles, probably only 65 out of 100 cows designated to be on BST would actually be using it, Barton said. Posilac is administered by injection twice a month.

The company says that about 300 dairy producers a month begin using the product. Barton said sales rose 30 percent annually the last two years after jumping 45 percent in 1996.

Total sales passed 100 million doses in 1998, which means, at $5.80 a dose, Monsanto's Posilac revenues have reached $600 million. The St. Louis-based company has the market to itself, because the Food and Drug Administration has approved no competitor's BST product.

Barton said that a farmer with a herd of 100 cows would show an extra $15,000 annual profit above the cost of Posilac and the cost of increased feed the cows eat.

Monsanto says that Posilac is used by farmers with as few as five cows to operations that milk more than 10,000 cows. The company emphasizes that the product is "size-neutral," that the average percentage output increase would be the same for small and large dairy farmers. About 55 percent of farmers using Posilac have herds of 100 or fewer cows.

The number of dairy operations has continued to shrink for a variety of economic and demographic reasons. The Kooistras are survivors who started in the business in 1980, when, they recalled, operating loans were running at about 18 percent interest.

"Those were tough times," Joel Kooistra said. By 1990 they had about 100 cows and decided it was time to either expand or get out. It was about that time that the FDA asked the Kooistras to participate in a trial test of BST on their herd. Because of their experience, they were ready to use it as soon as the FDA approved it.

Dairy farmers looking to expand, Joel Kooistra said, can with good management increase milk production using Posilac without capital spending on new facilities or additional cows.

"Biotechnology promises a safer and cheaper food supply for consumers," said Linnea Kooistra. "For farmers, it can mean getting production out of each of our assets."

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