Genetically Manipulated Food News

23 January 99

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Table of Contents

Genetic Enineering of DNA Machines
Products with Aspartame or Phenylalanine
MONSANTO MONITOR - Introductory Issue
"Ethnic-cleansing weapons" within 10 years: report
Brit. Medical Association (BMA) concern about a terrifying side-effect of the fight against disease
South Africans Were Working On Blacks-only Germ
Germ warfare 'could target ethnic groups'
Brit.House of Lords committee endorses Genetic Manipulation

Date: 21 Jan 1999 10:29:57 -0600
From: jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

Genetic Enineering of DNA Machines

Prof. Joe Cummins e-mail jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

The article described below deals with an exciting and at the same time threatening development in genetic engineering. Building DNA "nanomachines" should be scrutinized for potential threat to humans and the global environment.

Contact: josh plaut
josh.plaut@nyu.edu, 212-998-6797, New York University (NYU)

NYU Scientists Build Nano-Robotic "Arm" Prototype From Synthetic DNA

A team of New York University researchers have built a machine from the DNA, the genetic material of all living organisms. Constructed from synthetic DNA molecules, the device has two rigid arms that can be rotated between fixed positions (see Figures 1 and 2). The researchers say that the construction of this device is a first step towards the development of nano-robots that might some day construct individual molecules in molecular-scale factories.

The research team was led by NYU chemistry professor Nadrian C. Seeman. Their findings are reported in the January 14, 1999 issue of Nature.

Seeman said, "Using synthetic DNA as a building material, we have constructed a controllable molecular mechanical system. In the short-run, this is an exciting technical achievement. In the long-term, the work will have implications for the development of nano-scale robots and for molecular manufacturing."

The specificity of base-pairing allows strands of DNA to be 'programmed' to self assemble in well-defined ways. Seeman's team took advantage of this fact. The device was constructed by fusing together two synthetic "double-crossover" (DX) DNA molecules. They are joined by a bridge containing the classical right-handed DNA structure called B-DNA.

These findings are reported in a letter to Nature entitled "A Nanomechanical Device Based on the B-Z Transition of DNA." The authors are as follows: Chengde Mao, Weiqiong Sun, Zhiyon Shen and Nadrian C. Seeman.

Nadrian C. Seeman was born in Chicago in 1945. Following a BS in biochemistry from the University of Chicago, he received his Ph.D. in biological crystallography from the University of Pittsburgh in 1970. His postdoctoral training, at Columbia and MIT, emphasized nucleic acid crystallography. He has received numerous awards for his work on developing ways to construct three-dimensional objects, including cubes and more complex polyhedra, from synthetic DNA molecules. In August, 1998, he reported in Nature that his lab had developed a reliable technique for arranging DNA molecules into two-dimensional crystals.


Date: 21 Jan 1999 14:19:18 -0600
From: betty martini Mission-Possible-USA@Altavista.net

This ought to help!

Regards,
Betty

Products with Aspartame or Phenylalanine

From: PMoss73704@aol.com
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 21:32:03 EST

I found this on some link yesterday. Hope it helps.

Use of Aspartame By Pharmaceutical Companies

© Copyright 1996 Leading Edge Research

Sections:
Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceuticals
Lederle Laboratories
McNeil Consumer Products
Miles Incorporated
A.H. Robbins Company, Inc
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company:
Mead Johnson Nutritionals
Glaxo Pharmaceuticals
Bio-Pharmaceutics
Pennex Products 21 chain stores
Whitehall Labs
Cenci Powder
H & PC Products
L.Perrigo 10 brands
Hall Laboratories
Mediguard
Equate
Meijer
Perrigo
Raleyis
Lifeline Nutritional
P.Leiner 9 subsidiaries
Pharmavite Corp
REFERENCES

Aspartame is not only used in food, per se, but is also used in pharmaceutical products. You might be surprised by the number of products that contain aspartame. A sample research project was initiated in April 1994, with requests to companies that produce pharmaceuticals. A number of companies failed to respond to a request for information. Some companies did respond. Pumping aspartame into children is a priority:

Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceuticals

The only product made by J&J/Merck Consumer Pharmaceuticals containing aspatame is

Lederle Laboratories

McNeil Consumer Products

The following McNeil Products contain aspartame:

Miles Incorporated

The following Miles products contain aspartame:

A.H. Robbins Company, Inc

The following Robbins product contains aspartame.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company:

The following BMS product contains aspartame:

Mead Johnson Nutritionals

The following MJN products contain aspartame:

Glaxo Pharmaceuticals

The following Glaxo product contains aspartame:

Bio-Pharmaceutics

The following Bio-Pharmaceutics products contain aspartame:

Pennex Products

The following Pennex Products subsidiaries manufacture products containing aspartame: (Most introduced in 1987):

Whitehall Labs

The following Whitehall Labs product contains aspartame:

Cenci Powder

The following Cenci products contain aspartame:

H & PC Products

The following H&PC product contains aspartame:

L.Perrigo

The following subsidiary product lines contain aspartame:

Hall Laboratories

The following Hall Labs products contain aspartame:

Mediguard

The following Mediguard product contains aspartame:

Equate

The following Equate product contains aspartame:

Meijer

The following Meijer product contains aspartame:

Perrigo

The following additional Perrigo product contains aspartame:

Raleyis

The following Raleys product contains aspartame:

Lifeline Nutritional

The following subsidiary lines contain aspartame:

P.Leiner

The following Leiner subsidiary products contain aspartame:

Pharmavite Corp

REFERENCES

Data obtained from Aspartame Research Group forwarded to Leading Edge Research.

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Aspartame - The Silent Killer

*****************************************************************************

  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 http://www.dorway.com Get links to over 30 sites on aspartame
VISIT http://www.holisticmed.com/aspartame ..FAQs & Cases
VISIT http://www.notmilk.com Exposing Bovine Growth Hormone

Disability and Death are not acceptable costs of business!


Date: 22 Jan 1999 10:41:44 -0600
From: biotech@aseed.antenna.nl

MONSANTO MONITOR - Introductory Issue

Dear Friends,

To follow is the introductory issue of the Monsanto Monitor. This issue is a hint of where we would like the Monitor to go as an information and strategic resource for organisations and individuals campaigning against Monsanto and its products. Each issue will offer feature analyses of various sectors or operational aspects of Monsanto and other corporate GE practitioners; it will also profile various institutional promoters of the genetic engineering industry and contain a larger news and campaigning section.

Since there are similar newsletters developing in countries and regions around the world, the Monsanto Monitor will have a primary analytical focus on Monsanto & Co. in Europe. The news and campaigning sections, however, will have an international focus. For the Monitor to be truly valuable as a campaigning and news resource, we welcome and encourage your contributions. The deadline for contributions is the 1st of every month.

If you would like to subscribe to the Monsanto Monitor, please send back the subscription form on page 8 of the enclosed issue, or send an email to biotech@aseed.antenna.nl, to subscribe to the email version. A further version will be available on the website currently under construction. The Monitor will be available free of charge to campaigning groups and individuals worldwide.

The newsletter forms part of the A SEED Europe Rounding Up Monsanto & Co. For more information contact us at:

P.O. Box 92066, NL 1090 AB Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Tel: +31-20-468 2616; fax: +31-20-468 2275. Email: biotech@aseed.antenna.nlOttawa

___________________________________________________________
M O N S A N T O     M O N I T O R
"Because Real Food, Good Health and Hope cannot be genetically engineered" ___________________________________________________________
Introductory Issue
January 1999
___________________________________________________________

THIS ISSUE:

Sections:

FEATURE: Surviving Monsanto: Emerging Industry PR Strategies
The Monsanto Experience: A Lesson for Industry
Public Relation Disasters to have hit the GE Industry...
Public Relations: A Convenient Solution to an Inconvenient Issue
Industry Strategy and New Communication Tools
Transparency and Dialogue
A Success Story: Coalition and Local Direct Action by Scientists
Education and Information: Towards 'Informed Decision' or Propaganda?
Science Centres and Museums across Europe
Access Excellence: Industry-Sponsored High School Teaching
Conclusion
References
The European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB): Collective Crisis Management
Upcoming 'Dialogue' initiatives
Financing The Empire: Monsanto prepares for acquisition of Terminator company
NEWS
Canada Rejects BST.
US: BST Under Legal Challenge.
EU: Mapping the Moratorium
Big Brother donates to charity
IRELAND: Monsanto looking for scapegoats
UK: Monsanto Hits the Media
Monsanto Voted Amongst Worst Corporations - Again
Monsanto & Co. Target Teenage Audience In Germany
The Oracle Speaks

_____________________________________________________

Surviving Monsanto: Emerging Industry Pr Strategies

_____________________________________________________
The strong public response to GM foods and genetic engineering has forced industry and policy makers to rethink their communication strategies. Industry is in crisis and corporations are having to rally together to find ways in which to deal with the public's unwillingness to accept biotechnology as an inevitable innovation. The advice that Burson- Marsteller Government & Public Affairs Europe gave to EuropaBio (The European Association for Bioindustries) in January 1997 is obviously only beginning to sink in now:
"Stay off the killing field: Public issues of environmental and human health risk are communications killing fields for bioindustries in Europe"[1]

Associations such as the EFB (European Federation of Biotechnology) are working with industry and policy makers on public perception of genetic engineering (GE). The EFB's Task Group on Public Perceptions of Biotechnology organises meetings such as the recent Brussels conference on "Public Perception and Public Policy" (15-16/12/98). This conference provided industry and policy makers with an opportunity to plan out their future public relations strategies.

The Monsanto Experience: A Lesson for Industry

_____________________________________________________

Monsanto was the first company to aggressively sell the 'concept' of biotechnology and its products to the European public. It is considered by other industry members, scientists and policy makers to be partly if not wholly responsible for negative public feeling against GM food. The company's 1997-8 European PR campaign backfired as consumers reacted strongly against the so-called 'benefits' to society and to the environment that Monsanto was trying to sell them.

Exposure has been particularly strong in the UK although throughout Europe, suspicion of the genetechnologies and of the multinational corporations behind them is high. "They used the might of the conglomerate. They used bullying tactics, really. Used their might to bulldoze it through" (a journalist when asked about the 1998 UK Monsanto PR campaign) [2] As a result of this, Monsanto and other industry members are now finding themselves, together with policy makers, in the difficult position of having to 'reverse' negative public perception towards food biotechnology.

"Our work in Britain is still trying to overcome the strong negative reaction to the way Monsanto introduced this issue though there is some growing recognition that Monsanto is handling this issue better" [2]

If Monsanto's disastrous PR campaign has in many ways helped to expose the corporation as a profit and power hungry giant, a more subtle and more 'successful' media campaign by corporations who have learnt lessons from Monsanto will be more difficult to deal with.

It is vital for environmental, consumer groups and citizens to be able to keep track of the new communication strategies being worked on by industry so as to expose the manipulation behind them.

Public Relation Disasters to have hit the Genetic Engineering Industry...

June 1997Burson-Marstellar's proposal for a communication strategy for the GE industry, commissioned by EuropaBio, is leaked. The report talks of Health and Environmental issues as "communication killing fields" for the GE industry.[1]
Summer 1998Monsanto launches its European advertising campaign on biotechnology and GM foods. This campaign is aimed at the AB socio-economic sectors of society. The PR campaign is disastrous and unleashes strong negative public reactions, especially in the UK and Germany. This acts as the final nail in industry's coffin and leads industry into its current crisis. [2]
Autumn 1998Marketing research reports analysing Monsanto's failed UK and Germany PR campaigns are leaked. [2]
1998Journalists sue Fox TV after attempted suppression of Monsanto BST report.

Public Relations: A Convenient Solution to an Inconvenient Issue

_____________________________________________________

Industry in particular is framing communication (PR, marketing,...) as the root of the crisis facing genetic engineering perceptions. Although in itself it is proving hard to deal with, it is nonetheless an infinitely easier problem to solve than environmental and health concerns. Dealing with such concerns would be highly likely to lead to moratoria - extremely bad news both financially and competitively-speaking for the European genetech industry. It is much easier to decide that citizens are against biotechnology because they just don't know what it is.

One recent example of this was a statement by Philippe Gay of Novartis Seeds at the EFB Brussels conference [3] that the recent Novartis Bt maize issue in France was merely a "communication problem". The French Conseil D'Etat's (France's highest court) decision against authorisation for the cultivation of Novartis's Bt maize was based on the fact that Novartis's dossier on the Bt maize was judged to be incomplete, especially concerning the antibiotic resistance properties of this crop [4].

Policy makers and politicians, whilst very sensitive to public opinion, are being led by the "competitiveness of Europe in the global markets" argument. They too need to believe that communication and the way in which it is presented to the public are the main barriers to be overcome. The EFB Task Group on Public Perceptions of Biotechnology (see article) and other such organisations play an important role here: whilst apparently organising conferences on public perception to find ways to help the public reach 'informed decisions', they are in fact providing industry, scientists and policy makers with the opportunity to co-operate on communication strategies that will lead Europe's consumers to believe that biotechnology is the way forward.

Industry Strategy and New Communication Tools

____________________________________________________

Public Relations and marketing are being developed in 4 main areas:

  1. industry 'dialogue' initiatives;
  2. the transparency of Governmental Institutions;
  3. coalitions including direct action by scientists; and
  4. informing and educating the public to reach 'informed decisions'.

Transparency and Dialogue

_____________________

Policy makers see transparency as a strategic tool in re-establishing "trust". Whilst transparency is important, it is often used selectively and as a PR tool which enables the more important issues of public opinion on legislation to be sidelined.

"The lay public does not have the knowledge to evaluate scientific and technical issues with regard to modern biotechnology. People realise that potential risks of biotechnology must be investigated and controlled by third parties: producers and authorities. As citizens can not evaluate the technology, they will evaluate the regulators. However, public surveys indicate that many citizens in Europe do not believe that biotechnology is regulated very well. Moreover, public institutions are not well trusted. This situation may affect the acceptance of the use of biotechnology in food production." [5]

Dialogue is yet again seen as a handy PR tool whilst enabling potentially unwanted legislation to be avoided:

"Parties with opposing opinions can choose between two general strategies in dealing with the contentious issues surrounding biotechnology - conflict and dialogue. [...] Eventually, the conflict may result in political decision, for example in new legislation. With the uncertain and ambivalent attitude of the general public and even politicians in the biotechnology area, it is often very difficult to predict the outcome of such conflict." [6]

A Success Story: Coalition and Local Direct Action by Scientists

__________________________________________________

The Swiss Referendum on genetic engineering, which took place on June 7, 1998, was a victory for industry, National Government and other genetic engineering proponents. At this referendum, a 2:1 majority voted not to ban genetic engineering in Switzerland.

In strategic terms, the idea of coalition was found to be effective by the genetic engineering proponents: by having as many different people/groups as possible arguing for genetic engineering, the big corporations and politicians took a back seat as 'everyday' people went out into pubs, markets and shopping streets to give their views for genetic engineering. According to the EFB's briefing paper 8 on the Swiss Referendum,

"Coalitions are essential for bringing about political change [...] It helped [..] to have a majority of medical, patient and farming organisations on their side, in addition to virtually all laboratory scientists as well as the government and its agencies" [7].

According to Professor Richard Braun, Vice-Chairman of the EFB Task Group on Public Perceptions of Biotechnology, one of the most important events in the build up to the referendum was the mobilisation of scientists, especially young ones, as an interface with the public: pro-biotech demonstrations as well as direct communication with the public were organised. It would appear therefore that this is seen by industry as a new strategic tool: local action that could directly include scientists, thus enabling a certain distance to be established between genetic engineering and multinational corporations.

This would ensure an intense but apparently (to the public) informal communication campaign to be carried out by research scientists from academic institutions in whom the public have more trust than in industry or government. Whilst advertising techniques are not to be totally sidelined, the emphasis is to be placed on explaining genetic engineering and promoting dialogue.

Education and Information: Towards 'Informed Decision' or Propaganda?

_____________________________________________

'Informed decision' is a communication concept developed by industry and policy makers to suggest that citizens' current fears are unfounded and are simply negative reactions to inevitable change.

Surveys such as the Eurobarometer 46.1 serve to back up this notion with questions aimed at showing how little the public know about genetic engineering. Programmes for 'educating and informing' the public are the 'tools' behind such a concept.

[8] Biotechnology Teaching in Schools: the EIBE [3] The European Initiative for Biotechnology Education (EIBE) is a European Commission funded project that was set up in 1991 by CUBE (Concertation Unit for Biotech in Europe) and covers 17 EU and Eastern European countries. It works with biotechnology education initiatives and helps to develop them by training teachers, providing educational materials, etc. Its aims are to 'reflect current issues' in biotechnology.

EIBE is a perfect example of the much repeated idea of 'informed decision' whereby young people are taught by their teachers, who themselves have the possibility of being trained by the EIBE, about biotechnology.

"New areas of development and technologies like biotechnology arouse suspicion in the minds of many people because they do not really know what it is about" [9]

It specifically targets 16 to 19 years olds, stating in the conference abstract,

"The up-and-coming generation are however more amenable to change, and students of school and college age represent a target group that is potentially receptive to the development of an ability to understand the principles underpinning the new biotechnology and to assess the implications of current and future developments" [9]

One may ask how it is possible for the European Commission -who sees biotechnology as an important innovative technology which will have important commercial implications for the EU- is able to be objective and to present teenagers with all the issues surrounding biotechnology. The idea of perceiving teenagers as a "target group" is worrying since 16-19 years olds represent a vulnerable age group still growing up and coming to terms with many aspects of life. Being at school or college, they are still very much in the 'learning what you're told to' state of mind, and so being taught about biotechnology is likely to influence them rather than enable balanced decision making.

Science Centres and Museums across Europe [3]

_____________________________________

A Science, Industry and Technology initiative partially funded by the European Commission's DGXII to create travelling biotechnology exhibitions is underway with a 'Future Foods' exhibition travelling between London's Science Museum, Lisbon in Portugal and Lille in France.

Another exhibition 'Gene Worlds' is organised for Spain and Greece. These are "hands on" exhibitions, another attempt at informing the public. They travel around European museums but have also been in shopping malls, so as to reach a wider audience than the museum public.

Yet again, balanced information for a public with often limited scientific knowledge is managed and financed by groups who have themselves taken a position on biotechnology. Such communication tools are very powerful since they have the appearance of being educational whilst presenting a one-sided view that biotechnology is the way forward, and that the public must simply be taught the 'right' way of thinking.

Access Excellence: Industry-Sponsored High School Teaching

Education programmes have already been developed over the last few years in the US. One example of this is Access Excellence, a programme funded by Genentech, a medical biotechnology company, which provides high school teachers with new scientific information and enables the exchange of teaching methods via the Web.

For more information: http://www.gene.com/ae.

Conclusion

_____________________________________________________

New industry PR tactics are becoming subtler and therefore harder to pin down. Corporations have understood that they must distance themselves from issues surrounding GM foods. Even more importantly, they have realised that health and environmental concerns need to be 'dropped' and therefore shown to be annex to genetic engineering.

Convincing the public that everybody has been wrong about GE is the basic aim of their strategy. 'Dialogue', 'Informed Decision', 'Education' and a publicly active heterogeneous pro- genetech group (scientists, farmers, medical workers, young people,...) are the new industry tools that have already proved themselves effective.

References:

  1. Leaked report: 'Communications Programmes for EuropaBio' January 1997, Burson-Marstellar Government & Public Affairs

  2. Leaked Monsanto Marketing Research Report: 'The British Test, the Fall 1998 Research', Greenberg Research

  3. The European Biotechnology Forum on Public Perception and Public Policy, organised by the EFB, Brussels, 15-16/12/98

  4. Friends of the Earth International

  5. EFB conference abstract 'A Taste of Needs, Wants and Demands: Monitoring consumers' wishes', Kees de Winter, Praaning Meines Consultancy Group, Brussels

  6. 'Dialogue in Biotechnology', Briefing Paper 7, November 1997, European Federation of Biotechnology

  7. 'Lessons from the Swiss Referendum', Briefing Paper 8, August 1998, European Federation of Biotechnology

  8. EFB conference abstract "European Initiative for Biotechnology Education - Understanding through teaching", Dr. Wilbert Garvin, Queens University Belfast.

  9. "Biotechnology in the Public Sphere: A European Sourcebook" (1998), Eds. Durant,J.; Bauer, M.; Gaskell, G.

_____________________________________________________

The European Federation of Biotechnology: Collective Crisis Management

______________________________________________________

The EFB deals almost exclusively with the public's perceptions of biotechnology, and the impact of this on policy makers and politicians, unlike associations such as EuropaBio (European Association for Bioindustries) whose objectives include working directly on legislation and market authorization in the genetechnology sector. It is therefore an active participant in the development of pro- genetech communication strategies and appears to work closely with industry and policy makers. In fact, it receives part of its funding from DG XII (Science, Research and Development).

The EFB was founded in 1978 in Switzerland. According to its web- site, it is "an association of non-profit making European technical and scientific societies with interests in the field of biotechnology". With its 80 member societies, its aims are to promote genetech via both the public and policy makers. It aims to "promote awareness, communication and collaboration in all fields of biotechnology" (see web site). It regularly organizes conferences and workshops, as well as publishing 'Briefing Papers' on various topics related to biotechnology and public opinion.

In 1991, the EFB task Group on Public Perceptions was set up to "foster greater public awareness and understanding of biotechnology and to encourage public debate". Its most recent conference was entitled "European Biotechnology Forum: Public Perception and Public Policy". The conference was divided up into several parts: "Policy making for Healthcare", "Policy making for Agriculture and Food", "European Commission Initiatives", "Environmental Issues: A Better World" and "Moral Conflicts?" Leading authorities on such issues included EuropaBio, OECD, DGXII, Smithkline Beecham, Monsanto and Novartis.

For Further Information:
European Federation of Biotechnology: http://www.kluyver.stm.tudelft.nl/efb
EuropaBio : http://www.europa-bio.be

______________________________________________________

Upcoming 'Dialogue' initiatives

"Designer tomatoes, manufactured beans and the perfect banana. Should we fear the proliferation of GM foods?" This is the third talk in the 'Science and Ethics' Series. The conference is sponsored by the New Statesman, Cap Gemini's Life Sciences Group and Sun Microsystems. Participants include representatives from Novartis Seeds, the Institute of Terrestrial Ecologies, and Consumers in Europe. 14/01/99, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK (Source: the New Statesman, 1/01/1999)

"Genetically Modified Organisms: striking the right balance" This is a 'European Voice (The Brussels based policy weekly) Conference' sponsored by Monsanto. Participants will be expected to pay #163#425. Speakers include Consumer Affairs Commissioner Emma Bonino on "Addressing the scientific issues raised by GMOs and responding to consumers' concerns" and Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler on "The role of new technologies in the 21st century". 18/03/99, Brussels, BE (Source: 'European Voice, 7-13/01/1999, forwarded by Corporate Europe Observatory)

______________________________________________________

Financing The Empire: Monsanto prepares for acquisition of Terminator company

______________________________________________________

As Monsanto pursues its aquisition frenzy and continues to go for "consolidation of the entire food chain" (Monsanto executive in The Guardian 15/12/97), it is coming up against US Justice Department anti- trust concerns.

At the end of December 1998, the corporation received Justice Department approval for the aquisition of DeKalb Genetics Corp, but, due to anti-trust issues, Monsanto was forced to transfer its rights to agro-bacterium-mediated transformation (a technique for introducing new, desirable genetic traits into corn) to Berkely University, California. It also signed a binding agreement that it would license its Holden Foundation Seeds's corn germplasm to seed companies. Monsanto has also put Stoneville Pedigree Seed Co, its cotton seed subsidiary, up for auction (announced by the company on 4/01/99).

According to reports, Monsanto plans to sell Stoneville, the second largest breeder, producer and marketer of cotton planting seeds in the US, to the 'highest bidder'. The auctioning off of Stoneville is seen as a response to anti-trust concerns relating to Monsanto's planned aquisition of Delta&Pine Land Co., the company who is developping the Terminator Technology or, as Monsanto calls it, 'Technology Protection System'.

Delta&Pine Co. is the largest cottonseed firm in the US and controls approximately 50% of the domestic cotton seed market. Agribusiness analysts have stated that the most likely buyers for Stoneville are Rh(ne Poulenc, Dow Chemical and Hoechst Schering AgrEvo GmbH.

The sale of Stoneville will also help finance the corporation's estimated $6 billion in seed company aquisitions announced in 1998. Since the collapse of the merger with American Home Products, Monsanto is having to shed companies. Another one scheduled to go in early 1999 is Monsanto's seaweed-derived algin business. (source: Reuters and Jim McNulty on internet (31/12/98, 4-7/01/99, 13/01/99)

____________________________________________________

NEWS

____________________________________________________

CANADA REJECTS BST.

Health Canada has rejected Monsanto's bovine growth hormone. The decision marks the end of an eight-year review in Canada to determine market approval. The Canadian government called for reports by human and animal health committees to examine the safety of the product.

While the Human Health committee found no reason for concern, the Animal Health Committee report, on which the government decision was based, found that BST led to a 25% increase in the chances of cows contracting mastitis (a bovine udder infection), an 18% increase in infertility, and a 50% increase in the chances of lameness. The report itself has been the subject of on-going controversy, after Health Protection Branch scientists involved in the investigations filed complaints of professional harrasssment. Their complaints were later dismissed by a labour board.

Monsanto has announced that it will challenge the government decision. Among the options the company is exploring is a law suit under the NAFTA agreement should the Canadian government ban any US-produced dairy products from cows treated with the hormone.

US: BST UNDER LEGAL CHALLENGE.

In December of 1998, a coalition of organisations in the US filed a legal challenge with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the removal from the market of Monsanto's Bovine Growth Hormone (sold in the US under the brand name, Posilac and also known as recombinant Bovine Somatropin, rBST).

Spearheaded by the Center for Food Safety, the petition demands the immediate withdrawl of BGH from the market until its safety is proven against new evidence released by Health Canada scientists last year. Should the FDA fail to do so, the coalition will sue the agency. Posilac is injected into an estimated 15-30% of US dairy cows with the aim of increasing milk yields (by an estimated 10-15%).

EU: Mapping the Moratorium

The Genetics Forum has produced a report on the EU Moratorium on the licensing and use of BST, due to expire at the end of 99. The report provides an insightful overview of the political pressures that will be brought to bear to overturn the EU ban, and preventing an extension. For a copy, contact: The Genetics Forum, 94 White Lion Street, London N19PF, UK. Email: geneticsforum@gn.apc.org

Big Brother donates to charity

Canadian farmers using Monsanto genetically engineered seed may well bump into Robinson Investigations private eyes on their farms. The Detective agency has been hired by Monsanto Canada to ensure farmer compliance with the contractual conditions.

The company is aware of the negative implications this policing may have on the companies image in the farming world. Monsanto does not want to become the Agriculture's "Big Brother", according to Jim Inksetter, Eastern Canada Monsanto Manager.

In order to counter negative press, the Monsanto solution is to donate any fines collected from farmers to agricultural groups and related charities. Taking the US as an example, where out of court settlements range between $10 000 and $25 000 per farmer, Monsanto may well end up being a very generous benefactor.

IRELAND: Monsanto looking for scapegoats

January 6, 1999: People protesting at a food fair and debate on genetic engineering in Ireland have been served with legal writs by Monsanto for the destruction of a Monsanto GE sugar beet trial.

Irish Green Member of the European Parliament Nuala Ahern rejects Monsanto's charge that the protesters destroyed the site during their peaceful protest at the sight. She holds that the site was 80% destroyed before the protesters arrived on the site. The court case is scheduled for February 9.

UK: Monsanto Hits the Media

January 10 1999: Complaints filed by Monsanto against The Guardian newspaper for a July 1998 article have been rejected by the UK Press Complaints Commission. The Commission found all five points of objection Monsanto raised against an article analysing mounting opposition to GMOs were unfounded.

Indeed, the ruling noted that consumer and pressure groups had expressed anger over lack of consultation by Monsanto; that Monsanto had unsuccessfully restrained protestors. The ruling also held that the Guardian could not be held responsible for inaccuracies in a map overviewing GMO field trials in the UK that had been drawn from government information.

The Guardian editor, Brian Whitaker noted: "We are well accustomed to vigorous lobbying from public relations companies, but Monsanto seems to put enormous pressure into complaining every time we write about its activities". In the same month as the July 1998 article was published, The Guardian reported a different response strategy by the company to the paper's coverage on genetic engineering. "Just over a week ago, three representatives of Monsanto [...] were thumping the table in the editor's office at The Guardian. They also demonstrated a vocal range that visitors to the paper rarely exhibit. Monsanto's reps were concerned about the paper's coverage of developments in biotechnology. The coverage was too negative, they suggested." (The Guardian International, June 16 1998)

Monsanto Voted Amongst Worst Corporations - Again

Monsanto was amongst Multinational Monitor's 10 worst corporations of 1998 for "introducing genetically engineered foods into the foodstream without adequate testing and labelling, thus exposing consumers to unknown risks".

Monsanto & Co. Target Teenage Audience In Germany

Monsanto Germany, Novartis Germany and AgrEvo are targeting teenagers in Germany. In 1998, an issue of the Teen 'Zine, Bravo Girly, carried a pullout supplement, Gen Food that seeks to make GE cool.

Features of the supplement include:

Teen readers with further questions can call the hotline (+49 130 914 606). Teen Zines provide a particularly malleable audience for GE promotion: the readership is typically a narrow social group (predominantly teenagers and below) with limited exposure to non- establishment political views or analysis. There is little or no scope for peer opposition to genetic engineering in such a forum, so a pro-GE analysis is likely to go unchallenged.

The Oracle Speaks

"We don't seek controversy, but obviously it has been thrust on us. It is a direct consequence of a role we have chosen. And it is a role which we can blame only ourselves for. [...] we realize that with any new and powerful technology with unknown, and to some degree unknowable - by definition - effects, then there necessarily will be an appropriate level at least, and maybe even more than that, of public debate and public interest.

And this will include both hope and concern. So we have chosen this role and we believe it is a good role for us. We view ourselves essentially as a technology supplier to global agriculture. We regret that the necessary concomitant of that is that we are embroiled in a fair amount of discussion about this technology and its applications."

Robert Shapiro, in conversation with State of the World Forum News

Team journalist Alastair Thompson, October 28, 1998

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ISSUE ENDS

______________________________________________________

Please note the new telephone and fax #s: A SEED Europe TELEPHONE:

A SEED Europe
P.O. Box 92066
NL- 1090 AB Amsterdam, The Netherlands
email: aseedeur@antenna.nl
steph@aseed.antenna.nl
biotech@aseed.antenna.nl
http://www.antenna.nl/aseed


Date: 22 Jan 1999 13:06:53 -0600 From: MichaelP papadop@peak.org

"Ethnic-cleansing weapons" within 10 years: report

Agence France Presse

LONDON, Jan 21 (AFP) - Advances in genetic research raise the possibility of biological weapons, available within 10 years, that would attack one ethnic group but leave others untouched, according to a report published Thursday.

Given the availability of bomb-making instructions and "recipes" on the Internet, the British Medical Association (BMA) said, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention of 1972 needs "urgent" strengthening.

While "genetic weapons which target a particular ethnic group are not currently a practical possibility", the report concludes "it would be complacent to assume they could never be developed in the future".

The report "Biotechnology, weapons and humanity" by the BMA, which represents all Britain's doctors, predicted their existence within "five or 10 years" and warned of their attractiveness to terrorists.

"Scientific knowledge has been quickly exploited for weapons development in the past," said Vivienne Nathanson, of the BMA, adding she saw no reason why this trend would alter with genetics.

The report explains that genetic research into humans leads almost every day to further understanding of the differences in disparate human groups.

Such differences were apparent in blood groups or varying resistence to disease, such as developed by certain groups in west Africa against malaria.

Two key developments were highlighted by the experts. One is the Human Genome Project which aims to map the entire human genetic blueprint by 2003.

The other is gene therapy, a technology still in its infancy, which uses "vectors" such as harmless viruses to carry corrective DNA into malfunctioning cells.

The BMA warned that theoretically nothing could stop the development of "viral vectors or micro-organisms" (bacteria, virus, etc) capable of targeting an enemy group with a particular genetic make-up while sparing their neighbours.

"In short, if there are distinguishing DNA sequences between groups, and if these can be targeted in a way that is known to produce a harmful outcome, a genetic weapon is possible," said the report.

Far from being science fiction, it cited a report in the strategic military magazine Jane's on worries expressed by US Defence Secretary William Cohen in June 1997 about "certain types of pathogens that would be ethnic specific so that they could eliminate certain ethnic groups".

"The scientific community is very close to being able to manufacture" such weapons, said Cohen.

There have also been sporadic reports of Israeli developing such weapons to use against Arabs and white South Africans targeting blacks in a similar fashion.

On November 15, Britain's Sunday Times reported Israel was working on an "ethnic" biological weapon which will hit Arabs and not Jews by distinguishing between their genetic differences.

Quoting Israeli military sources and western intelligence services, the report said researchers were trying to isolate distinctive "Arab" genes in order to develop a virus, transmitted by air or water, which would target them specifically.

The programme, based in the top secret Ness Ziona germ warfare laboratory south of Tel-Aviv, is complicated by the fact that Jews and Arabs are genetically close, both being of semitic origin, the report said.

The BMA did not argue that all genetic research should stop, recognising its possibilities for saving lives and advancing medical treatment.

But the report stressed: "Getting rid of of weapons once they are produced is very difficult; governments may be reluctant to give up weapons that the rest of the world finds unacceptable."

The BMA said it was particularly anxious to see effective verification procedures introduced to ensure compliance with the biological weapons ban, and stressed that vigilance by doctors and scientists was "vital".

"We still have the chance to strengthen the ban on these weapons," said Nathanson. "We must do so now and we must make sure the ban is policed effectively."

** 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: 22 Jan 1999 13:07:16 -0600
From: MichaelP papadop@peak.org

Subject: Genetically manipulated weapons content "might" be possible.

I'm still dubious about the idea of some master-group immunity against a bio-weapon which will affect some members of the human-species and not others.

But throwing money at scientists to work on the possibility is all it takes; we'll have a bio-Manhattan project and an experiment or two.

============================

Brit. Medical Association (BMA) concern about a terrifying side-effect of the fight against disease

By Sarah Boseley, Guardian (London) Friday January 22, 1999

Genetic research, the bright hope in the medical world's battle against disease, will also open the door to new and terrifying biological weapons, doctors warned yesterday.

The British Medical Association called for urgent action and warned scientists to be vigilant to prevent terrorists putting their work to belligerent use.

Genetic advances will make it possible to design weapons that would kill only people of specific ethnic groups.

Biological weapons have not been widely used in the past partly because of their lack of discrimination. But biotechnology is inadvertently overcoming that problem.

Scientists are making great progress in identifying the human genetic code. A crucial part of the process involves finding the differences between certain groups that explain why, for example, only people of certain ethnic origin suffer from sickle cell anaemia. Their work is offering tantalising clues and potential therapies for diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

Yesterday BMA doctors warned in a report called Biotechnology, Weapons and Humanity that such work could be perverted to develop "weapons which may become a major threat to the existence of Homo sapiens, and a development of biotechnology which perverts the humanitarian nature of biomedical science".

"It is all the more frightening that medical professionals may contribute, willingly or unwittingly, to the development of new, potent weapons. This potential for malign use of biomedical knowledge also places responsibility on doctors and scientists to protect the integrity of their work."

It is possible that a bomb containing perhaps anthrax or the plague could be tailored so that the virus would only become active when it identified a certain group of genes - indicating membership of a certain ethnic group - - in the infected person.

Fighting between ethnic groups remains a feature of war. The Serbs are fighting ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Iraqi forces did not hesitate to use chemical weapons against Kurds in the country's north-east.

The Aum Shinrikyo sect released sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo underground in 1995. There is evidence that they investigated anthrax as an alternative and were interested in genetic engineering.

Vivienne Nathanson, the head of health policy research at the BMA, said the situation was urgent. "It is important to emphasise that we are talking about technology and information that is becoming available now and will be available within the next few years. We have a window of opportunity before weapons can be realistically manufactured."

The BMA doctors, who have sent their report to Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, are calling for the strengthening of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, which was signed in 1972 but has been flouted by some of its most powerful members. There is evidence that Russia has been investigating the possible use of smallpox, which has been officially eradicated.

"This is not a theoretical problem," said Professor Malcolm Dando of the department of peace studies at Bradford University. "There is recent evidence of an Iraqi biological weapons programme, recent evidence of a massive biological weapons programme in the Soviet Union and that the apartheid regime in South Africa had biological weapons. We don't want to maintain the existing controls, but strengthen them considerably."

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said that it is generally accepted that the biological weapons convention has no teeth because there are no requirements for the 141 signatory states to allow inspections. This is not the case with the Chemical Weapons Convention, which is thought, with obvious exceptions, to work well.

Britain is now at the forefront of an international effort to strengthen the 1972 agreement. Talks are going on at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in the hope that a draft protocol might be agreed, which ministers hope may be signed in Britain.


Date: 22 Jan 1999 13:07:16 -0600
From: MichaelP papadop@peak.org

South Africans Were Working On Blacks-only Germ

Apartheid era provided ideal environment for programme, reports David Beresford

In South Africa even Archbishop Desmond Tutu's Truth Commission was cowed by the secrecy surrounding chemical and biological weapons, agreeing to special arrangements when the subject was discussed at the otherwise public hearings.

The concern was to prevent the proliferation of such technology.

The land of apartheid, it emerged, had been an ideal place for experimentation, with a large non-human primate population and few controls.

International pharmaceutical companies invested heavily. This attracted the interest of the security services and Wouter Basson, personal cardiologist to the then president, P. W. Botha, and representative of the military.

Under Dr Basson's direction the weapons research programme at Roodeplaat laboratory became one of the most sophisticated in the world.

Interest seemed to centre on bacteria which would attack only blacks, and a riot-control gas - to be made from hallucinogens including marijuana - which would persuade mobs to make love, not war.

Dr Basson managed to put off his testimony to the Truth Commission until its mandate expired and, as a result, was not fully questioned about the extent of the South African programme. From what did emerge, it appeared that much of their effort was devoted to the development of personal assassination weapons, such as a poison which would deliver a seemingly "natural" heart attack.

The only evidence of the use of a chemical or biological agent as a battlefield weapon was the mysterious deaths of a group of Mozambican soldiers near the South African border. A UN scientific expedition failed to discover what had been used to kill them.

But it is clear from evidence gathered by the Truth Commission that Dr Basson was regarded as an important figure by foreign governments. He and his associates were found to have travelled widely, gaining access to information on the chemical and biological weapons programmes of the United States, Taiwan, Israel and Germany. They also had apparently important contacts in Belgium and Croatia.

The British and American security services appear to have been concerned that, with the approach of majority rule in the early 1990s, the programme should not fall into the hands of the African National Congress.

** 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: 22 Jan 1999 13:07:16 -0600
From: MichaelP papadop@peak.org

Germ warfare 'could target ethnic groups'

By Charles Arthur, Technology Editor
INDEPENDENT - Jan 22, 1999

Genetically engineered biological weapons capable of targeting particular ethnic groups could become reality within 10 years, an expert panel warned yesterday.

Viruses and other micro- organisms tailored to detect the differences in the DNA of races could offer warmakers and terrorists of the future a new means to carry out "ethnic cleansing", said the panel convened by the British Medical Association (BMA).

Yet the scientific advances that would make such weapons possible will be a spin-off of two areas of medicine with potentially huge benefits. The first is the Human Genome Project, which aims to unravel the 100,000 or so genes in human DNA by 2003. The other is the nascent technology of gene therapy, which tries to repair defective genes in the body.

Launching a book entitled Biotechnology, Weapons and Humanity, members of the panel insisted yesterday that they were not scaremongering. "We went into this being very sceptical, with a position that 'It can't be done'," said Professor Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's head of health policy and research. "But then after examining what is going on we decided that it might be possible after all."

The idea of "genetic weapons", which the panel said are at present just a theoretical possibility, added urgency to the need to add verification procedures to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. Though first signed in 1972 by the UK, US and Russia, and now having 140 signatory nations, the BWC differs from other weapons conventions in having no mechanisms for oversight, to ensure that signatories obey its rules.

Russia was among the countries that attempted to produce a genetically enhanced version of the anthrax virus during the Cold War. The Aum Shinrikyo religious terrorists in Japan also sought genetically to enhance bacteria they had acquired, but failed.

** 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: 22 Jan 1999 13:08:41 -0600
From: MichaelP papadop@peak.org

Quite coincidentally, the present Brit administration is planning to strip hereditary Lords of their vote in the House of Lords. That can't happen fast enough, of course, --- but there is still the question of how a Second Legislative body can best function as the voice of people.

Cheers
MichaelP

Brit.House of Lords committee endorses Genetic Manipulation

Supercrop gains outweigh the risks, say peers

Nigel Hawkes reports on clearest endorsement so far
Times (London) January 21 1999

GENETICALLY modified crops have been given the approval of a House of Lords inquiry which says that the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Agriculture, industry, consumers and even the environment stand to gain, the Select Committee on the European Communities concludes in a report published today. It is the clearest endorsement in Britain of a controversial technology that has made much quicker strides in the United States than in Europe.

Monsanto, the leading company in the field, is delighted by the judgment of the committee, which set out to examine changes in the European directives governing genetically modified crops in the European Community.

But Greenpeace accused the committee, chaired by Lord Reay, of being "the only group in our society that has fallen for Monsanto's advertising campaign". The environmental group renewed its call for a ban on use of the crops.

Lord Reay listed the benefits as "higher crop yields, better nutritional content in foods, fewer herbicides and pesticides, and cheaper food for consumers. But like any new technology there are risks and it should only be applied when they can be assessed and controlled."

The committee acknowledges that Britain's regulatory structure is "very rigorous" but believes that it can be improved by establishing a committee responsible for providing advice on overall policy. It could examine such issues as the long-term impact of genetically modified crops on the environment. The members should include consumer representatives.

Lord Reay said that we "know more about novel foods than we do about staples". The potato, for example, would not pass the scrutiny of the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes because it can in certain circumstances produce harmful poisons.

He called for much quicker approval of genetically modified crops in Europe, where it typically takes two years compared with seven months in the United States.

The committee supports the controversial "terminator" technology, which causes genetically modified crops to produce sterile seeds, preventing farmers from saving seed for use in the next season. In the developed world, provided that farmers' economic prosperity is not unduly affected, "we do not consider sterile crops to be a problematic development".

Advantages include consistent seed quality and no risk of the creation of "superweeds" by the escape of pesticide-resistant genes. But in the developing world, "most farmers would view the prospect of having to buy seeds each year with grave concern".

Equally controversial is the Lords' view that modified crops have much to offer organic farmers. This contradicts the view of the Soil Association that they are "the most serious threat ever to the organic farming movement". The Lords say that genetically modified crops require fewer pesticides and fertilisers.

John Sauven, a Greenpeace campaigner, said that the report indicated how out of touch the House of Lords had become. "Genetically engineered food is inherently unpredictable and once such crops escape or are deliberately released into the environment and the food chain, they cannot be recalled.

"In light of this, we should act in a precautionary way and halt the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment."

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