Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

4. February 1999

Table of Contents

Correcting Internet Myths About NutraSweet
Monsanto's Gene Police Raise Alarm On Farmers' Rights, Rural Tradition
Seeds of Discord - Monsanto in Canada
Policy on GM food reversed by Blair
Storm as genetically modified salad is approved
Farmers may have to Sue to Recoup Seed Money
Pioneer Names Monsanto in Germplasm Misappropriation Lawsuit
Cargill, Pioneer Negotiating Settlement of Seed Lawsuits
Mexican Vegetable King Controls 40 % of Supermarket Sales in the US
U$ gives the orders: UK stands up for Gen Manipulated crops

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Date: 3 Feb 1999 13:12:51 -0600
From: betty martini Mission-Possible-USA@Altavista.net
via: George Schwartz drgschwartz@yahoo.com

Dr. Schwartz is author of IN BAD TASTE ( 1 800 - 643- 2665 )

Regards,
Betty

--------------------------------------------

Correcting Internet Myths About NutraSweet

by George Schwartz drgschwartz@yahoo.com, Date: 2/2/99

To: Team Nutrasweet, Monsanto

In your response to the email article regarding the dangers of aspartame, you have presented a one-sided self-serving polemic defending your potentially dangerous product. By ignoring the scientific studies which disagree with your position, you are doing a great disservice to consumers. Further, you may have created a base for litigation against your company by denying the existing science.

As one example, your comment that "formate is quickly eliminated by the body" is demonstrably false. Your response states that "the body converts the methanol to formaldehyde which is instantly converted to a metabolite called formate." The study done by Trocho et al., Formaldehyde derived from dietary aspartame binds to tissue components in vivo. Life Sciences 63:5:p.337-49, 1998, clearly demonstrates cellular persistence and accumulation, or in layman's terms, that formaldehyde can remain and accumulate in the body.

As another example, you claim that tomato juice contains methanol (commonly known as wood alcohol). "Team Nutrasweet" says in their response "there is four to five times more methanol obtained from a serving of tomato juice than from an equivalent volume of beverage sweetened with aspartame." I challenge your make-up artists to scientifically demonstrate that wood alcohol is present in tomato juice at the levels you allege. On the other hand, upon chemical analysis, methanol will be found in aspartame, as it is a basic component of this substance.

As to the incidence of neurologic degenerative diseases, Monsanto's response claims there has been no change in Alzheimer's disease, MS, lupus, and other diseases. Yet many sources tell a different story. (Evans, et al. Prevalence of Probable Alzheimer's Disease in persons aged 85 and older, JAMA 262 (1989)2531-2556; Blaylock R, Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, Health Press, 1998, p. 107; and Lilienfeld et al: Two Decades of Increasing Mortality from Parkinson's Disease among the US Elderly, Arch Neurol 47(1990):731-734.) But then again, Team Nutrasweet's spin doctors appear to not be interested in studies which don't promote the use of their product.

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that Nutrasweet can pose a serious health danger. I applaud the Internet's remarkable capacity to transmit the truth beyond the reach of your corporate advertising dollars.

George R. Schwartz, M.D.
Board-certified physician


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Date: 3 Feb 1999 14:54:08 -0600
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

Monsanto's Gene Police Raise Alarm On Farmers' Rights, Rural Tradition

By Rick Weiss, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, February 3, 1999; Page A01
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

Sections:
Farmers being sued
Developing Products
Growers' Agreement
Rounding Up Evidence
Killing a Cash Cow
Growth in Gene-Altered Crops

Farmers being sued

BRUNO, Saskatchewan-On a cold January morning in central Canada, Percy Schmeiser looks over his frozen fields. "Here's where all the trouble began," he says, pointing to where private investigators last year arrived uninvited and snipped samples of his crops for DNA tests.

Schmeiser, 68, has been farming these fertile acres all his life, growing canola for the valuable oil in its seeds. And as farmers have done for thousands of years, he has saved some seeds from each year's harvest to replant his fields the following season.

Now, he says, "for doing what I've always done," he is being sued by agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. in a landmark "seed piracy" case. The outcome could influence how much control biotechnology companies will have over the world's food supply in the next millennium, and is highlighting a major source of friction as the genetic revolution spills into the world of agriculture.

Schmeiser is one of hundreds of farmers in the United States and Canada who stand accused by Monsanto of replanting the company's patented, gene-altered seeds in violation of a three-year-old company rule requiring that farmers buy the seeds fresh every year. He vehemently denies having bought Monsanto's seeds, saying pollen or seeds must have blown onto his farm, possibly from a neighbor's land. It's the company, Schmeiser says, that ought to be rebuked for its pattern of "harassment."

Besides sending Pinkerton detectives into farmers' fields, the company sponsors a toll-free "tip line" to help farmers blow the whistle on their neighbors and has placed radio ads broadcasting the names of noncompliant growers caught planting the company's genes. Critics say those tactics are fraying the social fabric that holds farming communities together.

"Farmers here are calling it a reign of terror," Schmeiser says. "Everyone's looking at each other and asking, 'Did my neighbor say something?' "

Cases like Schmeiser's are also raising alarms within organizations that deal with global food security. That's because three-quarters of the world's growers are subsistence farmers who rely on saved seed.

"This is a very alien and threatening concept to farmers in most of the world," said Hope Shand, research director of Rural Advancement Foundation International, an international farm advocacy group based in Pittsboro, N.C. "Our rural communities are being turned into corporate police states and farmers are being turned into criminals."

Monsanto representatives say the company must strictly enforce the "no replant" policy to recoup the millions of dollars spent developing the seeds and to continue providing even better seeds for farmers. Already, they say, the new varieties are improving farmers' yields and profits and allowing them to abandon extremely toxic chemicals in favor of more environmentally friendly ones. A newer generation of engineered seeds, now under development, promises to produce food with enhanced nutritional value, providing a potential boon for the world's malnourished masses.

"This is part of the agricultural revolution, and any revolution is painful. But the technology is good technology," said Karen Marshall, a spokeswoman for Monsanto in St. Louis.

Developing Products

A visit to Monsanto's 210-acre biotechnology complex, 25 miles west of St. Louis, offers ample evidence of how difficult and expensive it is to develop new and useful varieties of gene-altered seeds.

It is the largest biotechnology research center in the world, featuring 250 separate laboratories, 100 room-sized plant growth chambers whose climates can be controlled from researchers' home computers if necessary, and two acres of greenhouses arrayed on the main building's enormous rooftop.

It was here that company scientists took a gene from a bacterium that produces an insect-killing toxin called "Bt" and transferred it to corn, cotton and other crops to make plants that exude their own insecticide. Here too, researchers gave crops a gene that allows them to survive Monsanto's flagship weed killer, Roundup, which normally kills them.

Monsanto estimates that it takes 10 years and about $300 million to create commercial products such as these. For every new kind of engineered seed that makes it to field trials, 10,000 have failed somewhere along the development pipeline, officials say.

To recover this huge investment, the company has opted not to sell its engineered seeds in the traditional sense but to "lease" them, in effect, for one-time use only -- and to go after anyone who breaks the rules.

Suing one's own customers "is a little touchy," Marshall conceded. But after going to so much trouble to build a better seed, "we don't want to give the technology away."

It wasn't always this way. Until about a decade ago, crop and seed development in the United States and abroad was mostly a government business. The Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with the nation's land grant colleges and local agricultural extension agents, developed, tested and distributed new varieties of seeds, asking nothing more of citizens than that they pay their taxes. Under that system, patents were infrequently pursued and rarely enforced. And seed saving and trading were commonplace.

That began to change in the 1980s when Congress passed legislation, including the Bayh-Dole Amendment, that encouraged federal agencies to cooperate more closely with the private sector. In agriculture, that meant private seed companies could profit handsomely by selling seeds that were developed in large part with taxpayer dollars. Today, a handful of American and European agricultural companies control a major portion of the world's certified food seed supply.

Monsanto is the king of them all. Its gene alterations can be found in hundreds of crop varieties sold under license by many seed companies. And the total acreage devoted to gene-altered crops has increased astronomically since the first varieties were approved in 1996. This year, about half of the 72-million-acre U.S. soybean harvest is expected to be genetically engineered to tolerate Monsanto's Roundup. More than half of the 13 million acres of U.S. cotton will be engineered as well, as will be about 25 percent of the nation's 80 million acres of corn, either for Roundup resistance or to exude Bt.

"Farmers are going bonkers for these crops," said William Kosinski, a Monsanto biotechnology educator. "They've been very well received."

Although there are lingering concerns that in the long run genetically engineered crops could end up hurting the environment, the company argues that they could actually help. In one small study, the reduced use of pesticides with engineered plants appears to have resulted in increased survival of beneficial insects, which eat insect pests and serve as food for struggling songbird populations.

"Cotton growers are saying that the thing they're noticing is they're starting to hear birds again," said Hugh Grant, co-president of Monsanto's agricultural division.

Growers' Agreement

Tim Seifert and Ted Megginson are farm neighbors in Auburn, Ill., about 100 miles northeast of St. Louis. Between the two of them they farm about 4,400 acres, mostly soybeans and corn, and they will vouch for the quality of Monsanto's genes.

For the past two years, all 1,200 acres of Seifert's soybean fields have been planted with Monsanto's herbicide-tolerant Roundup Ready brand, and about half his other 1,200 acres are now devoted to the company's Bt-exuding "YieldGard" corn. Megginson started using Roundup Ready soybean seed last year, and both say they have obtained good yields while using fewer toxic chemicals.

"It's made me a better farmer," Seifert said, warming his hands in Megginson's small, barn-side office. Most important, Seifert estimates he saved $5 to $6 an acre last year in reduced labor and pesticide costs.

But when conversation turns to the restrictions that come along with Monsanto's seed, Seifert and Megginson confess to being less than enthused. One irritation is the "Technology Use Agreement," which not only demands that farmers not save seed but also gives Monsanto the right to come onto their land and take plant samples for three years after the seeds are last purchased.

"Farmers don't like to sign anything," Seifert said, especially anything that gives up their rights to stop trespassers. "I have to admit, I balked a little."

But what has really irritated farmers has been Monsanto's aggressive efforts to track down seed savers, such as the company's widely advertised toll-free "tip line."

"Nobody likes to think that your neighbor is getting away with something while you are doing it on the uppity up, but we're all neighbors, too," Seifert said. In heated discussions at local farm meetings, he said, "the majority of farmers felt like they wouldn't squeal on each other."

Megginson and Seifert were also taken aback by the radio ads that Monsanto aired during the fall soybean harvest in which the company named farmers who had been caught saving seed -- ads the company calls "educational" and others call "intimidating."

One of those named farmers is David Chaney, who farms about 500 acres near Reed, Ky. Chaney admitted to replanting some of Monsanto's engineered soybean seed and trading some to other farmers in the area.

He settled with Monsanto, paying the company $35,000 and signing an agreement that forbids him from criticizing the company. "I wish I could tell you the whole story," he said. "Legally they are right. But morally, that's something else altogether. Mostly I wish I'd bought their stock instead of their seed."

Perhaps most bothersome, he said, is knowing that someone he knows probably turned him in. "I hope I never know who," he said.

It's possible that no one turned Chaney in, because another of Monsanto's methods for catching seed pirates is to conduct random DNA tests on plants growing in the fields of farmers who have bought its seed in previous years.

The company has hired full-time Pinkerton investigators and, north of the border, retired Canadian Mounted Police, to deal with the growing work load -- a total now of more than 525 cases, about half of which have been settled. The company won't reveal details, but many of the settlements have been in the range of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars each, and a settlement in the millions is expected soon, said Lisa Safarian, Monsanto's intellectual property protection manager.

The company has decided that the risk of alienating some farmers is more than offset by the benefit of being able to promise "a level playing field" for the vast majority of honest customers, Safarian said. Besides, she said, the money is going to a good cause: a Monsanto-created scholarship fund to help the children of farmers go to college.

Rounding Up Evidence

But what about Schmeiser, who never bought engineered seeds from Monsanto, and never signed a grower agreement? According to some experts, his predicament suggests that Monsanto's policies could affect many more people than just its customers.

It was a Friday in July when he got a call from a local Monsanto representative. "We have heard a rumor that you are growing Roundup Ready Canola on your farm," the man said.

"I thought, 'Oh boy!,' " Schmeiser said.

Schmeiser stands as straight as a silo and is not easily intimidated. He was the mayor of Bruno for 17 years, and for five years was a member of the Saskatchewan legislative assembly. "I've seen a lot of politics," he says. "But I've never seen a situation to create hard feelings and divide people as what I'm seeing now."

The man from Monsanto asked Schmeiser for permission to test his plants. Schmeiser refused, so the company sampled some plants on a public right-of-way near his fields. Some of those apparently tested positive for Monsanto's gene, because a judge subsequently provided a court order allowing the company to take plants from Schmeiser's property.

The problem, Schmeiser says, is there's a lot of plants in the area with Monsanto's gene in them. Roundup Ready pollen from other farmers' fields is blowing everywhere in the wind, he says, and he's seen big brown clouds of canola seed blowing off loaded trucks as they speed down the road around harvest time -- spilling more than enough to incriminate an innocent farmer.

Back near his house, Schmeiser points to a wild canola plant poking out of the snow near the base of a telephone pole. "I sprayed Roundup around these poles twice last summer to control weeds," he says. How is it, he asks, that this canola plant survived?

Inside his modest, tidy home, he pulls out agricultural articles documenting many instances of Roundup Ready canola cross-pollinating with normal canola. Monsanto has a problem, says Terry J. Zekreski, Schmeiser's attorney in Saskatoon: It's trying to own a piece of Mother Nature that naturally spreads itself around.

Ray Mowling, a vice president for Monsanto Canada in Mississauga, agrees that some cross pollination occurs, and acknowledges the awkwardness of prosecuting farmers who may be inadvertently growing Monsanto seed through cross-pollination or via innocent trades with patent-violating neighbors. Nonetheless, he said, the company considers Schmeiser's "a critical case" to win if it hopes to protect its patent rights beyond its immediate circle of paying customers.

Killing a Cash Cow

Some say Monsanto could have done things differently. Berlin-based AgrEvo, for example, also sells engineered canola in Canada yet has chosen not to place restrictions on seed use. Its plan is to make money on its herbicide, Liberty, rather than on its Liberty-tolerant seeds. The more seeds sold, blown or given away, the better.

Monsanto, however, does not have that option. The U.S. patent on Roundup is on the verge of expiring, which means cheap generics will soon kill the company's 20-year-old cash cow. Monsanto will have to profit from Roundup-tolerant seeds, rather than from Roundup itself.

Representatives of other U.S. seed companies have taken a few potshots at Monsanto for how it has handled its war on piracy. Privately, though, they express relief that patent protection is Monsanto's problem, not theirs.

In a few years Monsanto may have a technical solution to its problem. The company is buying the commercial rights to a package of genes, developed in part by the federal government, that has come to be known as "Terminator." When inserted into seeds, the genes ensure that the resulting plants will never produce seeds of their own.

While the system could solve forever the seed piracy problem, it has already come under heavy fire from farmers and international agronomic groups because of its potential to starve subsistence farmers of the renewable seed they need. In any case, Terminator technology is not expected to be available commercially until 2005.

In Monsanto's view, there is no crisis today: Farmers can simply decide whether its seeds are worth the legal baggage they carry. And indeed, many farmers have already voted "yes" with their wallets.

"We're not doing this [farming] for a hobby. We're looking for net dollars," said Megginson, the Illinois farmer who has begun using Monsanto's genes. "They're not holding a gun to my head to make me buy their seeds."

Then again, that didn't help Schmeiser. He and others say they can't help but wonder whether high-tech agriculture -- and the escalating war over seed patent rights -- may ultimately rob farmers of the one thing they have historically cherished the most: The freedom to work their land as they wish.

"Every year I get catalogues from the seed salesmen, and more and more varieties have the Roundup Ready gene even though I don't need it," said Vincent Moye, a farmer in Reinbeck, Iowa. "The government's looking at Microsoft too hard. This is a bigger monopoly. We're all gonna be serfs on our own land."

Growth in Gene-Altered Crops

Genetically engineered crops make up a large portion of agricultural production in the United States. Genetically engineered canola has not been approved for the United States, though it is grown in abundance in Canada. Here are some of the major engineered crops.

Roundup Ready refers to crops that are genetically altered to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup.

Bt refers to crops that are genetically altered to produce the natural insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (BT).

Note: 1998 figures are estimated; 1999 figures are projected.

Total U.S. production of crop, in acres, 1998
Cropacres
Soybeans72 million
Cotton13 million
Corn80 million
Canola14 million

SOURCES: Monsanto, National Agricultural Statistics Service, American Soybean Association

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company


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Date: 4 Feb 1999 23:55:25 -0600
From: Jason Boehk jasonab@mediaone.net
Via: "Campbell, Jon" jcampbel@unifi.com

Seeds of Discord - Monsanto in Canada

Hi, Charlie,

This is the paragraph that sent chills through my spine:

"Ray Mowling, a vice president for Monsanto Canada in Mississauga, agrees that some cross pollination occurs, and acknowledges the awkwardness of prosecuting farmers who may be inadvertently growing Monsanto seed through cross-pollination or via innocent trades with patent-violating neighbors. Nonetheless, he said, the company considers Schmeiser's "a critical case" to win if it hopes to protect its patent rights beyond its immediate circle of paying customers."

What that paragraph says is: "if Monsanto genes are carried by bees or the wind to your crops, you become a Monsanto licensee and you must pay Monsanto for the seeds you save for next year."

This is a truly frightening prospect: Monsanto gene police all over the world taking control of the world's agricultural systems.

Jon

-----------------------------------
From:Charles Behrens Charles_Behrens@Bigfoot.com
Reply To: earthsave-boston@egroups.com
Sent:Thursday, February 04, 1999 1:25 PM
To:EarthSave-Boston
Subject:Re: Seeds of Discord - Monsanto in Canada

This is a fantastic article Jon. Thank you very much for passing it along! There were so many important points covered, but these in particular caught my eye:

This is manipulative PR at its worst. It makes me furious!!!! Fortunately that also energizes me. Watch out GE profiteers, I'm pissed!

- Charlie
___|o\__
@-----@'---(=
120 Volt Chevy S10


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Date: 4 Feb 1999 03:54:55 -0600
From: devatalk@mcmail.com

Policy on GM food reversed by Blair

By Paul Waugh and Michael McCarthy
UK Independent 4 Feb 99

The Prime Minister stepped into controversy over genetically modified crops yesterday when he rejected calls for a moratorium on their commercial development.

Tony Blair declared that the Government's policy on GM products would be to proceed on the basis of the best scientific evidence rather than "prejudice".

However, both the Tory party and green campaigners said that Mr Blair was out of step with public opinion on the issue and risked turning it into Labour's equivalent of the BSE crisis.

William Hague, the Tory leader, also attacked the Government for a plan topersuade supermarkets to provide information from their customer loyalty cards on purchases of GM foods.

Greenpeace led the criticism of Mr Blair last night, backing up concerns expressed by English Nature that GM crops could harm theenvironment. "It is ironic that New Labour on GM crops is starting to look like the Tories on BSE," said Douglas Parr, campaign centre director for Greenpeace.

"The Government is failing to acknowledge the real uncertainties about genetic modification, just like the Conservatives failed to acknowledge the uncertainties around the potential problems of mad-cow disease.

"Releases of genetically modified crops to the environment are irreversible, and any damage they might do is irreversible too."

Tony Juniper, policy director of Friends of the Earth, added: "We are delighted that William Hague recognises the need for a moratorium on genetically modified crops, and we are extremely disappointed by the Prime Minister's response.

"The Government has promised that it will invoke the precautionary principle when it comes to genetically modified crops. There is already enough scientific evidence to justify a halt on their further development."

Mr Blair was caught off- guard on the issue when it was raised at Prime Minister's Question Time in the Commons by Mr Hague.

Mr Hague said there was "huge public concern" about the possible health and environmental impact of GM products.

People were fearful about reports that supermarket loyalty cards would be used to monitor their purchases and compare them with cancer cases.

Mr Hague asked: "Why hasn't the Government accepted the advice of English Nature, which is by law the Government's advisers on these matters, by delaying for at least three years the commercial release of these crops until more research is done?"

But Mr Blair said a moratorium would increase rather than decrease public concern over the crops.

"We are doing research on this and of course there is a government committee looking at it too."


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Date: 4 Feb 1999 14:38:27 -0600
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

Storm as genetically modified salad is approved

Evening Standard - London, Publication Date: February 03, 1999
© Copyright 1999, _____via IntellX_____

GENETICALLY modified chicory has become the first such salad crop to be approved for consumption, it was revealed today.

A European Union scientific plant committee has announced that it has found has found "no evidence" that the product, not on sale yet, harms health or the environment.

However, a huge protest is gathering among environmentalists to have the decision dropped by European Parliament on the grounds that not enough time has been given to evaluate long-term effects.

Green MEPs called for immediate withdrawal of the product, warning that it contains an antibiotic-resistance gene that may significantly damage health and farming.

"The public is already highly suspicious of genetic engineering," said German MEP Hiltrud Breyer. "Now it is to be served up in a salad."

Pete Riley, of Friends of the Earth, said farmers will be able to spray pesticides liberally on and around the chicory without damaging it. "But all the weeds in the immediate vicinity will be killed, which takes food away from birds."

The first GM foods - a tomato paste and a vegetarian cheese - only appeared in 1996. Now 60 per cent of all processed foods are thought to have GM ingredients including soya, maize, margarine, ice cream and chocolate.

Nearly 100 personalities, including TV chefs and the Evening Standard's restaurant critic Fay Maschler, have joined a campaign against so-called Frankenstein foods.

Supporters of GM foods including the giant US company, [ Monsanto ] , claim they could help feed the world and benefit the environment.

Final approval for the chicory product will still have to be made by the European Parliament, which could recommend that it goes to another standing committee.


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Date: 4 Feb 1999 14:41:00 -0600
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

Farmers may have to Sue to Recoup Seed Money

STATESBORO -- More than 300 Georgia farmers will have to turn to lawyers, not state agriculture officials, to recoup money they say withered away with defective cotton seeds.

Farmers throughout the state are seeking legal representation after failing to get results by flooding the Georgia Seed Arbitration Council with complaints about a variety of seed they used last year.

At least five farmers are from the Statesboro area, where at least 5,000 acres were planted with the seed. That many acres of cotton is worth $500,000-750,000, said Wes Harris, Bulloch County's University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service coordinator.

Paymaster 1220's "stacked" seed -- a genetically altered seed that resists Monsanto's Roundup herbicide and some insects -- is the source of the complaints. The seed, developed by [ Monsanto Co. ] and distributed by Delta and Pine Land, developed a cotton disease called bronze wilt last season. The variety also showed poor root and boll development when sprayed with Roundup, farmers and agriculture agents said.

Attorneys in Florida and Georgia have filed more than 20 suits already and are preparing as many as 60 others. They plan to file those suits in a matter of days, said attorney James W. Prevatt Jr. of Live Oak.


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Date: 4 Feb 1999 14:41:20 -0600
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

Pioneer Names Monsanto in Germplasm Misappropriation Lawsuit

SOURCE: Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., Company Press Release
Thursday February 4, 9:47 am Eastern Time

DES MOINES, Iowa, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. (NYSE: PHB - news), filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in Des Moines today against Monsanto Co. (NYSE:MCT - news; NYSE: MTC - news) alleging Monsanto's newly acquired overseas seed corn business misappropriated Pioneer trade secrets and genetics. Germplasm is the foundation of all efforts to develop advanced plant said Rick McConnell, Pioneer senior The billions of dollars that companies are paying to gain access to seed lines shows how valuable they are to a research program. Pioneer has spent decades and billions of dollars developing the world's largest plant genetics library. We will vigorously

The suit alleges Monsanto acquired Pioneer trade secrets when it purchased the international seed business of Cargill, Inc., on June 29, 1998, for $1.4 billion. Damages being sought were not disclosed.

This latest germplasm protection lawsuit from Pioneer comes two days after Cargill, which still owns its seed business relating to the use of Pioneer's proprietary genetic material in its breeding program. This admission came following a lawsuit brought by Pioneer against Cargill for misappropriation of Pioneer's proprietary genetics.

Pioneer filed similar lawsuits against Asgrow Seed L.L.C., and DeKalb Genetics Corp., on Oct. 28, 1998, alleging misappropriation of proprietary genetics.

Asgrow and DeKalb have recently filed Motions to Dismiss portions of Pioneer's lawsuits against them. The two companies claim that contract language associated with the sale of Pioneer seed does not legally prohibit purchasers from using Pioneer's seed for research purposes. We find the behavior of Asgrow and DeKalb, both now owned by Monsanto, to said Jerry Chicoine, Pioneer executive vice president and chief operating officer. They seem to believe it is legal to use our proprietary germplasm in any way they want. Yet, when they sell their products, they want to prohibit the use of those products for research or for any other purpose except for the production of grain. Apparently it is their position that Pioneer's research investment should not be protected, while theirs Chicoine said.

Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. is the world's leading supplier of agricultural genetics and is the leading developer and integrator of agricultural technology. Headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer develops, produces, and markets a full line of seeds, forage/grain additives and services to grain and livestock producers, grain processors and other customers worldwide.

SOURCE: Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.


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Date: 4 Feb 1999 14:41:39 -0600
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

Cargill, Pioneer Negotiating Settlement of Seed Lawsuits

SOURCE Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., February 3, 1999
© Copyright 1999, PR Newswire

MINNEAPOLIS and DES MOINES, Iowa, Feb. 2 /PRNewswire/ via NewsEdge Corporation -- Officials of Cargill and Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. (NYSE: PHB), reported today that an investigation into Pioneer's allegations against Cargill's seed business has uncovered some problem areas, and the two companies are working to resolve the situation.

In a lawsuit filed Oct. 28, Pioneer charged that Cargill had wrongly obtained some Pioneer genetic material for use in its own seed research and development program. Cargill's investigation into the allegations uncovered some problems in the company's breeding program.

"As soon as we discovered the problem areas, we took immediate steps to notify Pioneer and to rectify the situation," said Fritz Corrigan, president of Cargill's Agriculture and Biosciences Group. "We took these allegations very seriously because that kind of behavior is in direct violation of our business practices and ethical guidelines. We have moved aggressively to correct the problems and make amends with Pioneer."

"We respect Cargill's prompt actions and its willingness to come forward and work with us to resolve the situation," said Jerry Chicoine, Pioneer executive vice president and chief operating officer. "We're a leader in the seed industry with a $1 billion plus investment in research over the past decade, and it is essential that our intellectual property be protected."

Pioneer is the world's leading supplier of agricultural genetics and a leading integrator of agricultural technology. Pioneer develops, produces and markets a full line of seeds, microbial products and services to farmers, grain processors and other customers worldwide.

Cargill is an international marketer, processor and distributor of agricultural, food financial and industrial products with more than 80,000 employees in more than 1,000 locations in 65 countries and with business activities in 130 more.

CONTACT: Lori Johnson of Cargill, 612-742-6204, or Doyle Karr of Pioneer, 515-270-3428 (PHB)


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Date: 4 Feb 1999 14:41:56 -0600
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

Mexican Vegetable King Controls 40 % of Supermarket Sales in the US

February 3, 1999

Infolatina via NewsEdge Corporation : MEXICO CITY, Feb. 1 (Excelsior/Infolatina)-- Mexican billionaire, Alfonso Romo, now controls 40 percent of all vegetable sales in the United States and has become the " vegetable King of the World". Five years ago, the Monterrey based businessman decided to take over seed producers, and bought five companies in the US, two in Europe, three in Asia, and one in South America. Romo is the rarely seen face behind the Grupos La Moderna corporation, which is now the largest company in the world in the genetically enhanced seed industry.


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Date: 5 Feb 1999 01:16:47 -0600
From: MichaelP papadop@peak.org

U$ gives the orders: UK stands up for Gen Manipulated crops

NOTE the following refs. below :

Under a new international treaty, a ban on GMOs would only be justifiable on scientific grounds if it were shown traditional crops or local plants were likely to be wiped out or damaged by mutant intruders.

IS THIS A REF TO the prospective treaty mentioned next, or to something already in force ??

That is exactly the kind of issue that a new international agreement on controlling the import and export of live genetic material is to cover. The final negotiating session between 170 countries starts in Colombia on February 14, but there is wide disagreement over what it should contain.

Cheers
MichaelP

==================================
Guardian (London), Friday February 5, 1999

Britain and the United States have decided to block attempts to ban genetically modified organisms by India and other developing countries who want to protect their traditional farming methods and the food supply of the poor.

Tony Blair and the European Union are backing the US position that a ban on GM crops on those grounds is a restraint of free trade.

Under a new international treaty, a ban on GMOs would only be justifiable on scientific grounds if it were shown traditional crops or local plants were likely to be wiped out or damaged by mutant intruders.

Britain and the US believe their biotechnology companies specialising in GM products will lose exports if developing countries ban them on social or economic grounds.

Meanwhile, the Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, disclosed yesterday that three test sites growing GM food have broken rules on their development. In a Commons written reply he said a Health and Safety inspector found breaches of regulations by Nickersons Biochem at Holton-le-Moor, Lincolnshire, and by the Scottish Crop Research Institute at two sites in Invergowrie, Dundee. Nickersons Biochem had planted GM oilseed rape less than the approved 400 metres from non-GM oilseed rape, while the SCRI had grown field beans instead of barley after testing GM potatoes.

News of the rule breaches, which took place in 1997, came as Mr Meacher disclosed in another written reply that GM crops could have greater potential to affect the environment than non-GM crops.

He told MPs that in one laboratory study in 1998 there was a higher likelihood that lacewing flies fed on moth caterpillars that had been fed on GM maize would die.

That is exactly the kind of issue that a new international agreement on controlling the import and export of live genetic material is to cover. The final negotiating session between 170 countries starts in Colombia on February 14, but there is wide disagreement over what it should contain.

India and African states believe that if multinational companies like Monsanto are allowed to control the seed supply, their traditional agriculture - in which part of the crop is saved by farmers for sowing the next year - will be in jeopardy. If Monsanto have patented the seed or included a terminator gene so crops cannot reproduce, then traditional agricultural practices on which their economies are based would end.

The row over the right to ban GM organisms which might damage local crops or traditional agriculture must be resolved before the protocol can be finalised for signing in New York in three months.

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