Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


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15 February 99

Table of Contents

UK Newspaper Headlines
Photos compound GM food concerns.
Stop The Crops
Check Insurance over GM Food Fears, Supermarkets Told
Alarm over WTO Pact on Plants
Rockefeller Foundation head supports GE
Greenpeace calls for immediate total ban on GMO food
Labour pays GM giants to come to UK
GM foods campaign - The seeds of destruction
Monsanto pleads guilty to flouting rules on crops
Press briefing re: Dr. Pusztai
UK Daily Mail Campaign Genetic Food Watch

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Date: 13 Feb 1999 08:54:25 -0600
From: devatalk@mcmail.com

UK Newspaper Headlines

Two newspapers did not even have President Bill on the front page!!!!

The Daily Mail had banner headline 'Frnakenstein Food Fiasco' as its only front page story. Ditto the Daily Express with 'Shops in Fear over GM Food'.

The Guardian had 'Blair rules out block on new genetically modified crops' as shared 'BILL'ing on the front. Inside the Mail was two pages with stories 'A doctor destroyed for being in the right',

'Remember mad cow disease, warns professor' & 'They couldn't be closer to Blair. So why are these men working for the world's biggest genetic food firm and opening doors to the highest level of government?' (This story is like Britain's mini revolving door!!!)

Plus the whole of the editorial comment, which one would have thought would be all about bill, was all GM: Propaganda, science & food safety.

Meanwhile the Mail's arch rival The Daily Express carried as the only news on it's front page 'Shops in fear over GM food'. Inside 'This scientist revealed the perils of GM food. Now he has been gagged for life' along with a continuation over the page one story.

Also a neat little cartoon - two rats in a cage under a sign saying Rowett Research Institute, one says 'I think this potato is perfectly safe to eat, but then my brain is getting smaller'. Again the Editorial only on the GM issue. Over at the Guardian front page : 'Blair rules out block on new genetically modified crops' Yesterday the Guardian also had a funny cartoon on the front page : A guy in a suit holding a potato and telling the audience 'There's absolutely nothing wrong with this potato...' and the potato is thinking 'I'm a carrot'.

Inside today a full page article 'Photos compound GM food concerns' with pictures of the enlarged rat stomach walls. A George Monbiot article 'Stop the crops' and another by a Prof Burke 'No big deal' generally knocking the green lobby!!!

Other papers seem to carry variations on the inside pages, although I have not read all. I know the TAZ (Tageszeitung) Germany's biggest 'green' leaning paper carried the article prominently yesterday. Radios are are carrying the stories of calls for a ban and also that Dr. 'Cunning'-ham should resign.


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Date: 13 Feb 1999 04:47:21 -0600
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

A very poignant article which is 'WORTH'a very thorough read. J MC NULTY.

Photos compound GM food concerns.

By Michael Sean Gillard, Laurie Flyn and Andy Rowell. The Guardian Sat FEB 13th 99.

Food Scandal : Evidence of changes in the organs of rats fed GM potatoes suggests minister's safety assurances may be immature.

"If this is Proved to be the Case it Would Most Likely be the Commercial Death for Current GM Foods."

The cabinet minister yesterday assured the British people that genetically modified was safe, in respose to revalations in the Guardian of suppressed Scottish Office research which found that the rats fed GM potatoes suffered damage to their vital organs and waekened immune systems.

Today the Guardian publishes for the first time the evidence that his assurances are premature.

These photographs show the stomachs of two rats each taken at the same time after a ten day feedinf trial last year.

The picture on the left shows the stomach wall of a rat fed ordinary potatoes; that on the right shows the large stomach lining of one fed GM potatoes.

The experiment was part of the publicly funded research carried out by the Aberdeen based Rowett Research Institute by Stanly Ewen, a senior pathologist at the Aberdeen University Medical School.

Dr Ewen would only talk to the Guardian in general terms about his experiment, He said: "We didn't expect the result, we expected it would show no difference. But there are differences which cause me concern. We need to know what happens in the mammalian gut with GM food.

"There should be tests".

However the Guardian revealed yesterday that all the the pioneering research conducted by Dr Ewen under the co-ordination of Arpad Pusztai , was shut down in disputed circumstances last year.

Philip James,m the director of the Rowett, who Tony Blair asked to set up the Food Standards Agency, told reporters yesterday that htere had been no political pressure to dismiss Dr Pusztai.

This was reaffirnmed by Dr Cunningham.

Dr Ewen recieved the young rats bodies in February. They had been fed GM potatoes then killed and dissected. Young rats are used because of their responsiveness which makes it easier to measure adverse effects on growing mammals. But because therewas no expectations of controversial results, the measurements were not carried out until October.

Dr Ewen examined the rats by measuring their internal organs. In particular he looked at the stomach and it's crypt, the bottom part of the large intestine. He found that after ten days the rat fed GM potatoes had a particularly thickened stomach lining or gastric mucosa. He also found elongation of the crypt.

Dr Ewen is prevented from discussing the results and was not involved in any way in passing the Guardian the photographs. He said last night, "We think we are showing up something that nobody's spotted.

This is the first time that GM food has been used in feed trials, something the GM industry and it's contracted research institutions do not seem to be carrying out.

Dr Ewen repeated these measurements three times because he wanted to ensure that there was no technical bias in his original findings, which he describes as "Very, very highly significant".

On the second occasion he also found the stomach lining had substantially enlarged in the rat fed GNM potatoes. There was a very slight difference in the amount but the significance was still very high.

On the third occasion the same results were reached, leading Dr Ewen to conclude that "these very extra-ordinary findings are very highly significant.

Dr Ewen yesterday told a very packed press conference at the House of Commons that the protein - GNA snowdrop lectin- inserted into the GM potatoe did not cause the elongation of the crypt, but could not go further. Elongation of the stomach's crypt is extremely problematic as it's provides more surface area upon which cancers can grow.

Vyvyan Howard, a foetal and infant toxico-pathologist and head of research at Liverpool University, told the press conference that cancer was one of the main problems associated with Dr Pusztai's findings. But the Guardian understands that Dr Ewen and others who have assessed his research believe the likely cause of the thickening of the stomach wall and the crypt elongation is one of the "key' genes that form part of the genetically engineered process itself - the so called cauliflower mosaic virus (promoter)

IF THIS IS PROVED TO BE THE CASE IT WOULD MOST LIKELY BE THE COMMERCIAL DEATH FOR CURRENT GM FOODS.

The cauliflower mosaic virus is used in most of the GM foods available in the UK, such as soya - which is found in 60% of processed food stuffs.

The Guardian understands that such a vital piece of research, whci could resolve whether current Gm foods are harmful, would only cost about £5.000 and take a maximum of three months. But because Dr Pusztai's research was closed down, this research was not being done.

All that Dr Ewen would need to do in additional research would be a DNA probe, which would identify the cauliflower mosaic promoter was present and therefore responsible. He does not have the piece of equipment at the Aberdeen University medical school, but it could be rented or loaned from many of the research institutes in the UK.

Dr Ewen has not applied for a government grant to carry out this essential research, because of the controversy surrounding Dr Pusztai. His caution seems to be born by the reaction of the government to the Guardian's story yesterday.

Ian Gibson MP, Labour chairman of the parliamentary office of science and technology, and a member of the commons committee on science and technology said"If this was generated by a cancer drug then people wopuld certainly need to be worried about the effects on their health and digestive organs. It would be interesting to know if the basic cause of these observations is the increased divisions of cells as happens in cancer.

Dr Gibson, a scientist before he became MP for Norwhich North and former Dean of Biological sciences at the University of East Anglia, where he headed a cancer research team, also called for a moratorium, in contrast to the official governmewnt line.

"The Government has really got to take this seriously because these scientists in the Rowett Institute have clearly got evidence which other distinquished scientists are supporting.

"I was astonished that Dr Pusztai was moved from his position after there was acknowledegment of his results.

"I feel that there has been some interference with the openess of the scientific process from either industrial or political avenues . TYhe research team should be immediatly restored and invuited to apply for a continuation of their research.


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Date: 13 Feb 1999 08:55:20 -0600
From: devatalk@mcmail.com

Stop The Crops

By George Monbiot, UK Guardian 13 Feb 99, Saturday February 13, 1999

The geneticist Dr Arpad Pusztai is a dangerous man. He has released into the environment a virulent self-replicating organism, which is already running riot across Britain. It's called the truth. Yesterday, the Government moved rapidly to round it up and shove it back into the flask from which it spilt.

Jack Cunningham, the government's pest control officer, told the Today programme that the public had nothing to fear from Dr Pusztai's revelation that rats fed with genetically modified potatoes suffered damage to their immune systems and internal organs. Human health, he claimed, was the Government's overwhelming priority. Genetic engineering had only been deployed experimentally in Britain so far. Europe was introducing rigorous new labelling requirements for engineered foods. And no, English Nature had not called for a moratorium. The nation could breathe a sigh of relief. The verminous truth was on the retreat.

But, like all dangerous pathogens, it has a nasty habit of cropping up again, just when you thought it was under control. It has even managed to infect English Nature's website. The agency, the website says, will 'continue to recommend a moratorium on commercial releases'. In fact, it's beginning to look as if the only place the bug has not re-infected is the well-guarded inner sanctum of the Government.

Dr Cunningham has used subtle tactics to shut it out. Yes, genetically engineered crops have only been deployed experimentally: in British fields. But they have been deployed wholesale in British food. Most processed food now contains genetically modified products.

Yes, there are new labelling requirements for engineered foods. But no, they are not rigorous. Thanks to lobbying by the British government, European regulations are now so weak as to be almost meaningless. The British delegation insisted that there need be no warning about the presence of food additives, refined oils and flavourings made from engineered plants.

And no, Dr Cunningham, the British government has not put human health ahead of other priorities. Two weeks ago, it announced that it is giving £13 million to the biotechnology industry, to help improve its profile and win public confidence. Last summer, both Jack Cunningham and Jeff Rooker, the deputy agriculture minister, held meetings with Monsanto, the world's most aggressive biotech company. The meetings were arranged by Monsanto's public relations consultants, Bell Pottinger. In October, Bell Pottinger was joined by Cathy McGlynn, previously Jack Cunningham's special adviser.

Monsanto's lobbying has been spectacularly successful. The Government's Invest in Britain Bureau now boasts that the UK 'leads the way in Europe in ensuring that regulations and other measures affecting the development of biotechnology take full account of the concerns of business.'

Business concerns are also heeded elsewhere. Last summer, a part-time employee of Monsanto's called Bill Clinton telephoned Tony Blair to insist that nothing be done to restrict the biotech sector's expansion in Britain. Monsanto was one of the largest donors of 'soft dollars' to Bill's 1996 presidential campaign.

It was these considerations which underlay Tony Blair's statement to the Commons last week. He told the House that imposing a moratorium on engineered crops would increase rather than decrease public concern. What he meant, of course, was that it would be bad for the image of the biotechnology companies.

The Government contends that genetically engineered crops will help both to feed the world and save the environment. But the world already produces 50 per cent more food than it needs. People go hungry not because there is too little food but because food and the land on which it grows are concentrated in the hands of the rich and powerful.

The biggest threat to future supplies is the environmental destruction caused by large-scale agro-industry: precisely the type of farming facilitated by genetic engineering. The corporate control of the food chain that modification allows will ensure that even less of the world's food reaches those who need it most. We are Dr Cunningham's guinea pigs, the subjects of a vast global experiment from which no good can come.

When Dr Pusztai told the truth, he was sacked from the government-funded institute for which he worked. Its director, Philip James, had given him permission to speak to a television crew about his research. When the programme was broadcast, Professor James supported him. A day later, he sacked him and made him sign a gagging order. The 22 eminent scientists who wrote a statement of support for Dr Pusztai this week are among thousands who would like to know why Professor James changed his mind.

he row over genetic engineering has long been portrayed as a dispute between environmentalists and scientists. But many of the most persuasive and cogent critics of this technology are themselves gene scientists, some among the foremost in their fields.

The environment cannot sustain genetically engineered crops. Science mistrusts them. The public doesn't want them. Isn't it time the Government stopped forcing us to eat them, and fed us, instead, with the truth?

George Monbiot was the first British journalist to draw attention to the hazards of genetic engineering in the national press.

We are Dr Cunningham's guinea pigs, subjects of an unwanted, vast global experiment


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Date: 13 Feb 1999 11:09:26 -0600
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

Check Insurance over GM Food Fears, Supermarkets Told

PA 12.02.99 16:18

© Copyright 1999 PA News. Copying, storing, redistribution, retransmission, publication, transfer or commerical exploitation of this information is expressly forbidden.

By Eileen Murphy, Consumer Affairs Correspondent, PA News

Food campaigners today warned major supermarkets to check their insurance amid heightened fears that genetically modified (GM) foods could pose a future risk to human health.

Many of the biggest supermarket chains still stock products containing GM ingredients, although most have been wary of introducing such foods and opted for clear labelling guidelines. However, some retailers, such as Iceland and Marks & Spencer, have responded to reports of public aversion to so-called Frankenstein Foods by ditching them completely.

Iceland has long held a GM-free policy, but today's decision by M&S to find alternatives to all GM ingredients used in its ready-meals came as leading scientists spoke out in favour of a colleague's anti-GM findings.

The group of 20 international scientists backed the work of Dr Arpad Pusztai, who was sacked after publicising his findings that GM potatoes affected the immune system of laboratory rats. Tim Lobstein, co-director of consumer watchdog the Food Commission, said: "If there are implications for public health in the future as a result of GM ingredients being in the food chain then this may raise the question of legal liability.

"The biotech companies, the retailers and the manufacturers will have to cover their backs and have good insurance. This whole incident raises the question of who is actually liable if the food we are eating does actually have the effect of reducing our immune system?

"Is it the supermarkets who sell it? Is it the biotech companies?" Like the Consumers' Association and the Soil Association, the Food Commission is calling on the Government to impose a moratorium on the introduction of any new GM food ingredients in the UK. Organic farmer Guy Watson, who took the Government to the High Court over genetic engineering, said today every scientist he had spoken to - including some who worked in the bio-tech industry - privately voiced concerns over the safety of genetically engineered foods.

However, Mr Watson, said he had yet to have a debate where someone from the bio-tech industry would come forward and face questions from an unselected audience and openly debate the issue. He said it was "fantastic" that 20 international scientists had come forward to say they had found nothing wrong with the conclusions reached by Dr Pusztai.

"If you start fiddling around at random inserting genes there is no way of predicting the consequences, it is fundamentally unsafe," added Mr Watson, from Staverton, near Totnes, south Devon. His battle with the Government began last year after Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott allowed genetically modified maize trials to continue on land next to his farm.

In July The High Court refused Mr Watson leave to seek a judicial review, and his bid to halt the trials was turned down by the Court of Appeal later the same month.

In a statement, Safeway said it will sell products containing GM ingredients provided they have approval from the appropriate regulatory authorities and "tangible benefits" for consumers. The chain added that - along with other major UK retailers - it continues to work for segregation between GM and non-GM food crops.

The statement said: "Safeway remains committed to clear, informative product labelling. In this respect the labelling of foods containing any ingredient derived from GM sources will be labelled." Safeway said sales of its GM tomato puree, introduced in February 1996, has outsold its more expensive, conventional counterpart in some stores. More than 600,000 cans have now been sold. Meanwhile, Asda said it was working to remove all GM ingredients from its own-brand products.

An Asda spokeswoman said: "In terms of policy we have a very clear approach to GMs. We are working to prevent any new GM ingredients being used in all our products. "We are also asking all Asda brand suppliers to use certified GM-free sources of soya and maize and where unable we are asking that they reformulate the products.

"We are making moves to remove GMs and where that is not possible for the products to be clearly labelled. We are reflecting our customers' views - they are telling us that there are concerns about these ingredients." Greenpeace campaign director Doug Parr said that the whole Pusztai incident had shown that GM organisms were "unstable" and should be taken out of the food chain. He said: "It's clear that there are plenty of questions about GM foods. But we are talking about the whole process of genetic modification - that is where the problems are.

"We are calling for a total ban on all GM food immediately. If the genetic modification process is causing problems then the Government should apply the precautionary principle." Mr Parr said that he did not believe that it would be impossible for the Government to withdraw all GM ingredients from the food chain.

He explained that it would be easy to stop crops being grown in the European Union and import controls could stop GM products from the United States. It is estimated that at present some 60% of all processed food in the UK contain GM ingredients.

Monsanto, one of the world's largest biotechnology companies which have pioneered new GM crops around the word, said today that the scientific support for Dr Pusztai did not dent its confidence in the new technology.

A spokesman said: "We are talking about a big study being carried out and we have not even seen it so it would be difficult to comment on the actual findings. "But we would say that every GM food has to go before the regulatory bodies and then be put through a lengthy and exhaustive assessment process. So this is like saying that even though you have gone through this whole process this one piece of un-peer reviewed research undermines the whole regulatory process. "We think the products we produce are safe."

A spokeswoman for the Food and Drink Federation stressed that the potatoes involved in the scientific tests were not licensed for sale in the UK. Organic campaign group the Soil Association said that it was time for the British public to stop being used as human guinea pigs in trials for GM foods.

Calling for a total and immediate ban on GM foods Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, said: "This announcement vindicates our calls for a complete halt on all GM crop trials in the UK. "We are treating our countryside as a laboratory and the human population as guinea pigs.

"At present the only food guaranteed to be GM-free is organic. This research simply illustrates our fundamental lack of knowledge about gene transfer and the long-term effects of this largely untried technology on the environment - let alone human health.

"The Government must stop all imports of GM foods on safety grounds. Consumers are clearly extremely concerned and rightly so. Retailers are under renewed pressure to tell their suppliers to remove all GM ingredients from own-label products immediately. The consumer has a right to make an informed choice." Later a leading scientist urged a top level urgent inquiry into GM foods. The call from Dr Ronald Finn, past president of the British Society of Allergy and Environmental Medicine, came at a Westminster news conference.

Dr Finn said GM foods "are like drugs and have to be tested ... this is very much part of the food industry and so important we could be going into a Mad Cow situation." He said the Royal Society would be a suitable organisation to look into the whole question.

Dr Finn was with three other scientists backing the findings of Dr Pusztai. Dr Finn warned the news conference of a possible "Doomsday scenario" if human immune systems were weakened as a result of GM foods.

"We in the UK have just had a very narrow escape following the epidemic of Mad Cow Disease and we have probably got away with it. We are now ten to fifteen years down the line and there is no evidence of a CJD epidemic ... the fact is we have been warned once and we should be extremely careful to monitor any further change in food technology."

The immune system was vital for protection against diseases like cancer and there should be no risks taken that could weaken it. The Pusztai case as seen as a major scandal in the world of scientific research.

Cabinet Office Minister Dr Jack Cunningham last night told BBC2 Newsnight that any new data would be "thoroughly and quickly" examined by Government scientists but expressed doubt that Dr Pusztai's claims would be reinstated. "I would be very surprised if results which were considered to be not relevant work were seriously validated by another set of experiments," he said.

But his statement was today dismissed as "massively uninformed," by Professor Brian Goodwin, of Schumacher College, Devon who joined Dr Finn and two other leading scientists at the news conference to defend Dr Pusztai. "Dr Pusztai was effectively gagged by the Rowett and there has been no attempt on the part of the Institute to reinstate his credentials," added Prof Goodwin.

A Marks & Spencer spokesman said they were working to phase out GM ingredients wherever possible. He said: "We recognise some customers have concerns about the introduction of this new technology and therefore have been working to minimise the use of these ingredients and where they already exist replace them, where possible. "We believe they are safe but we are replacing them where possible because of customers' concerns.

In a statement, Safeway said it will sell products containing GM ingredients provided they have approval from the appropriate regulatory authorities and "tangible benefits" for consumers. The chain added that - along with other major UK retailers - it continues to work for segregation between GM and non-GM food crops.

The statement said: "Safeway remains committed to clear, informative product labelling. In this respect the labelling of foods containing any ingredient derived from GM sources will be labelled." Safeway said sales of its GM tomato puree, introduced in February 1996, has outsold its more expensive, conventional counterpart in some stores. More than 600,000 cans have now been sold. Asda said it was working to remove all GM ingredients from its own-brand products.

An Asda spokeswoman said: "In terms of policy we have a very clear approach to GMs. We are working to prevent any new GM ingredients being used in all our products. "We are also asking all Asda brand suppliers to use certified GM-free sources of soya and maize and where unable we are asking that they reformulate the products. "We are making moves to remove GMs and where that is not possible for the products to be clearly labelled. We are reflecting our customers' views - they are telling us that there are concerns about these ingredients." Tesco operated its own strict labelling guidelines for GM products and said it would continue to lobby for crop segregation.

Prof Ray Baker, chief executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Services Research Council, said: "It's vital that the public is given a clearer picture of how science is approaching the potential of genetic modification to improve the production and quality of food. "Citing the results of individual experiments out of context and making quite unsubstantiated generalisations is dangerous. It is certainly not helping the public appreciate the issues.

"The suggestion being made in the media today - that results of laboratory research on transferring one specific gene into potatoes - somehow casts doubt on the safety of all GM crops and foods derived from them is misleading. "These potatoes were part of an experiment and were never intended for commercial production - nor were they available on the market. "The issues are complex and must not be confused."

Prof Baker added that the current regulatory system fully investigates the possible implications of introducing GM crops and products on human health and the environment.

Martin Paterson, director of communications at the Food and Drink Federation which supports the regulated introduction of GM foods, said: "It should be stressed that this GM potato is not on sale in the UK, it has not been licensed for human consumption and would not have made it beyond the laboratory door. "There is no question over the safety of GM products which are currently on sale for human consumption. The very process of genetically modifying crops involves tests and trials at each stage. Any question marks over potential health risks - as seems to have occurred here - would prevent the crop being progressed to approval stage."


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Date: 13 Feb 1999 11:11:15 -0600
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

Alarm over WTO Pact on Plants

By Evans Ombiro
© Copyright 1999 The Nation. Distributed via Africa News Online.
OTC 12.02.99 03:38

Nairobi (The Nation, February 11, 1999) - Members of the World Trade Organisation last weekend held a meeting in Nairobi to prepare for renegotiations of a contentious trade agreement crucial to developing countries' access to food in future.

This sets the stage for the review later this year and implementation of the pact in the year 2000 and every two years thereafter.

During the meeting at the UNEP headquarters, the delegates reviewed Article 27.3(b) of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights - the TRIPS agreement, concerning patenting of plants and animals.

However, some experts had earlier expressed reservations over the South's preparations for the key meeting. They cited lack of technical capability, inexperience, ignorance or lack of bargaining power as factors that would lead to the shortchanging of developing countries by the North at the negotiations. Farmers in these countries will, in the next millennium, have to contend with full exposure to the uneven global market, courtesy of such agreements.

Said Mr. Patrick Mulvany of Intermediate Technology UK at a recent forum in Kenya: "The ownership of plants and animals, and hence national and household food security, will be affected by decisions on a sub-paragraph in a World Trade Organisation agreement currently due for review."

He noted that the review comes at a time when developing countries are fighting attempts by developed country institutions and companies to patent biological materials taken from the South. The development and release of genetically modified seeds and breeds is also being fought. The debatable sub-paragraph exempts the patenting of life forms that have not been modified or manufactured in the laboratory.

In essence, the patents are only for "products and processes in all fields of technology, provided they are new, involve an inventive step and are capable of industrial application." Argues Jagjit Plahe of EcoNews Africa: "The main problem with the TRIPS treaty is that it does not protect indigenous knowledge or traditional systems."

This is one of the many international agreements that are expected to shape the agricultural sectors of many developing countries into the next millennium, experts at a recent forum organised by Intermediate Technology and the Action-Aid Kenya pointed out.

WTO was born out of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs in 1994 and has since made a major impact globally through the Structural Adjustment Programmes regimes in most developing countries. Environmental Conservation Minister Francis Nyenze told the workshop that the outcome of the TRIPS review and related negotiations on the Convention on Biological Diversity to which Kenya is party, could affect the rights of local communities in relation to their agricultural biodiversity, indigenous knowledge and their intellectual property relating to the same.

The agreement is viewed by many experts as licence for monopolistic multinationals to own biological resources through patents, threatening the genetic wealth and the food and livelihood security of poor countries. This is attributed to its (some say deliberate) ambiguous wording that is open to interpretation.


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Date: 13 Feb 1999 13:06:56 -0600 From: Judy_Kew@greenbuilder.com (Judy Kew)

Via: Patricia Dines PDines@compuserve.com

Rockefeller Foundation head supports GE

Hi all -

Those concerned about genetic engineering and the world's funding might be interested to know that the new president of the Rockefeller Foundation is pro-genetic engineering. He does differ in some ways from the pure corporate approach, but still in the same direction.

Here are some excerpts, with my comments in [[brackets]]. Catch the full article in Business Week 11/16/98, p. 191+, title "Gordon Conway, Green Revolutionary".

Best regards - P. Dines

** 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 this information for research and educational purposes. **

---- EXCERPTS WITH COMMENTS ----

"Gordon Conway, Green Revolutionary"

Business Week 11/16/98, p. 191+

"And global food needs, thanks to meteoric gains in productivity over the past few decades, are generally being met. In the 20th century, technology has saved the day. "Still, a stubborn 20% of the people in developing nations are undernourished."

"Those stubborn people, not being smart enough to recognize the wonderful savior that technology is!! Of course, they're in developing nations, so what would you except of the backward folks. They probably brought it on themselves, from their foolhardy resistance of progress...." ok, that was sarcasm but the bias is stunning.

  1. Two totally contradictory statements - - are the needs being met or not? 20% seems high to say met.
  2. what about the starving all over the world, including in developed countries?....

(Growing population.) "Can these people be fed?

"Gordon Conway, a British-born agricultural ecologist whose ideas have inspired a generation of ecologists, says they can. It will require high-tech contributions from genetic engineering and low-tech contributions from ecologists and farmers, he says. And people and institutions that are often at loggerheads will have to find common ground. "It will require, in short, a second green revolution."

You saw that coming, yes?

"The first, beginning in the 1960s, boosted food output with new crop varieties and a generous dose of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. But there was a cost: The chemicals ravaged the environment....Conway advocates a new agricultural revolution that would greatly enhance crop yields for the poor - as the first green revolution did.

Is that true?? Or only the poor that could afford their expensive products??

"But unlike the first revolution, it would do so in a way mindful of ecological and social concerns."

Sounds good. Would be lovely if we learned from history. But are we going to learn the right lessons? It's not just about toxics; it's about messing with nature in ways we don't understand, rather than working with it respectfully. In that way, GE is the same mistake as toxics, just in a different (and more deeply harmful) way. And do we want to be "mindful" of these concerns - along the way to other goals - or put them first, as fundamental criteria for our actions?

"A tall order for sure. But it's a cause that Conway, as the new president of the Rockefeller Foundation, is in an excellent position to champion. One of a handful of major foundations with a global perspective, the philanthropy has long supported scientific research, and fully 56% of ts 1997 funding commitments went toward agriculture, health, population, and the environment....13 years ago, the Rockefeller Foundn launched an ambitious biotech program, which yielded everything from a "map" of rice genes to the development and introduction of _la fen rockefeller_, a high-yielding strain grown around Shanghai."

Community sports stadiums now sport corporate names - e.g., 3Com Park - very weird - doesn't feel like it belongs to the community any more (which, of course, in key ways it doesn't). Now our food names will also start being named for the highest bidder.... Tres weird....

"These activities have given Rockefeller influence and standing beyond its size - it ranks 9th among major foundations in total giving, disbursing $116 million in 1997, well behind No. 1 ranked Ford Foundation. 'There's no doubt they've been absolutely central to international agricultural development.' .... The foundation's mission is a broad one - to sustain and enrich the lives of the poor...

Do they/does he understand the harmful impact of GE on the poor?

"It was Conway, working as an ecologist 37 yrs ago in Borneo who homed in on the Achilles' heel of the green revolution: He argued correctly that the widespread application of pesticides had destroyed not only crop pests but also the predactors that feast upon those pests.The result was that crop losses continued in many places. Conway said the reintroduction of the predators could resolve the problem."

That basically sounds good - except I also hope he said to stop using the pesticides that were ripping apart the ecosystems in the first place. Apparently not - see below.

"In the years since, Conway refined this approach, which became known as integrated pest management."

Are they saying he invented that?? I really don't think so! If I'm right, this casts into doubt the accuracy of this whole story's angle on his history.

"He suggested that crop yields could be raised by rotating crops and alternating the limited use of pesticides with the introduction of the pests' natural enemies."

I'm sure that the original IPM said no use of synthetic pesticides, except maybe in emergencies. He or the author is rewriting history to make him heroic.

"But these approaches alone won't boost output enough over the next couple of decades. Hence the need for new biotech solutions."

It's amazing how these people even claim to be unbiased journalists. The author doesn't even support these assertions with expert quotes, just says they're so, as if they were facts. Amazing!

There's more details about the GE stuff. Quotes Altieri, saying most bioengineered plants available today are "not appropriate for poor farmers." (too expensive) Conway wants to bioengineer plants so they can grow in harsh environments, not so they need chemicals. (That sounds better, tho still GE risks.) "..developing countries should protect their own breeding resources by licensing and patenting them." (better, but still supporting idea of patents. he says "that's the new reality"). To Conway, essential that developing countries also have access to "improved" seeds produced through biotech. (ie, corporations still do same harmful stuff, they just give some of it away, get a tax writeoff and good PR?)

"The Rockefeller Foundation itself has plowed more than $80 million into studying the applications of biotech to rice. 'Genetic mapping of rice was way behind that of wheat, corn, and soybeans.'"

Sounds like he's just tweaking the GE path, but still really supporting it.

"Rockefeller allowed labs in the rice program to license technology to the private sector in Western markets but required them to make their findings freely available to developing countries."

"Now the foundn may focus on crops that get less attention - cassava, sorghum, and millet. Another idea is to promote farm-management analysis in Africa - devising low-tech strategies for farmers to boost their yields."

Their goal, high payoff with small investment, spur others to do more research. already doing that with medical research.

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

CONCLUSION

Sounds reasonable, and has some good parts - but the risks of GE are still so there! The fundamental problems haven't been solved. Ah, what if we put that much money into supporting local self-sufficiency in working with natural systems? I guess, it's not as sexy for those loving technology solutions.

Anyone know Conway or folks in the R Foundation? It seems that it might be possible to educate Conway on some of the deeper problems with GE. He seems to have some desire to see beyond corporate propoganda and status quo. With the money and influence the R Foundation has, could be really worth the effort. Of course, they have a lot invested in GE (money and image), and they are part of the "established power structure" so it's not without its challenges....

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Date: 13 Feb 1999 13:23:29 -0600
From: Judy_Kew@greenbuilder.com (Judy Kew)

Via: Barbara.Kuepper@greenpeace.de
Via: "Biotech Activists" biotech_activists@iatp.org

Greenpeace calls for immediate total ban on GMO food

Greenpeace International Press Release

Amsterdam, February 12, 1999 ----- Greenpeace today demanded an immediate ban on genetically engineered foods after the release of a memorandum of 22 international scientists supporting an earlier study which showed that GE foods might have severe health risks.

The 22 scientists from 16 countries, announced their support for Dr. Arpad Pusztai of the Rowett Institute, who was dismissed by the institute last year after announcing his concern over health risks of GE food. The 22 scientists conclude that even the data published in the Rowett Institute's own Audit report "showed very clearly that the transgenic GNA potato had significant effects in the immune function". They call for full publication of Pusztai's data and his exoneration.

"There is no justification for using millions of people as guinea pigs for a genetic experiment without even asking whether we want to participate," said Greenpeace genetic Engineering coordinator Benedikt Haerlin.

Dr. Pusztai from the Rowett Institute, Aberdeen, UK conducted experiments feeding rats with genetically engineered (GE) potatoes. He was dismissed in August last year after announcing that significant impacts on the rat's immune system as well as on some of their vital organs had been observed. He is still not allowed to speak about his case in the public.

"It appears unclear what caused the problems in the rats," said Haerlin. "For all we know they might have been caused by the virus used to transfer the alien DNA to the potatoes. This is the same virus used in Monsanto's Roundup Ready soy that is available in markets around the world."

The Rowett Institute Audit report claimed that the data Dr Pusztai referred to had been inconsistent and that it did not support his conclusions. Neither this data nor the report Dr. Pusztai's wrote in response to the Institute's Audit has ever been published.

"We don't know who ordered Dr. Pusztai's suspension and we cannot comment on the report's scientific validity," Haerlin commented, "but we do know that there is no need and no justification to produce and sell genetically engineered food. Of course further research and a full investigation of this latest scandal around GE food is needed, but no food should be on the market until it is proven safe," said Haerlin.

More information:
Benny Haerlin, Greenpeace GE campaign coordinator: 49.171.3569109
Doug Parr Campaigner Greenpeace UK: +44.171.865 8214
Mika Railo, Greenpeace International press officer: +31.20.5249 548

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Date: 13 Feb 1999 22:36:22 -0600
From: MichaelP papadop@peak.org

As to genetic manipulation the brit. government is pulling one way, and the newspapers, all of a sudden are pulling the other. The topic is getting more space (it seems to me) than Monica ever did. Sorry if you're a regular reader of the INDEPENDENT - this will reach you before the Sunday morning delivery !!

Cheers
MichaelP

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

Labour pays GM giants to come to UK

By Marie Woolf, Political Correspondent, INDEPENDENT (Sunday) FEB 14

Genetic engineering giants, including Monsanto, have been offered millions of pounds in taxpayers' money to encourage them to expand their presence in the United Kingdom.

The Government has earmarked more than #15m for biotechnology firms, including Du Pont, one of the pioneers in genetic engineering, and Monsanto, the American GM crops giant. In May 1997, the month that the Labour government was elected, it gave Monsanto the first slice of a #1.5m package to expand investment in Scotland.

The revelation comes as the Government is under increasing fire for its close links with the genetic engineering firms. Firms involved in genetically modified (GM) food have met government officials or ministers 81 times since Labour was elected. Monsanto visited the agriculture and environment departments 22 times while Zeneca held 31 meetings with officials or ministers.

Last night the Government insisted there was no evidence that GM food on sale in the UK was a health risk. Such products on sale in the UK were safe, Dr Jack Cunningham, Cabinet Office Minister, said after food retailers demanded a clear statement to reassure consumers. The British Retail Consortium had warned that shops could lose billions of pounds if consumers lost confidence because of government dithering over GM food.

"No new products [containing GM substances] will be allowed for sale unless they have passed a whole series of rigorous and careful checks and tests," said Dr Cunningham. "We believe the products currently on sale are safe. Stores have been selling these products to the consumers for several years, and they have been very happily buying them because they are safe."

However, last night supermarkets, including Somerfield, Asda and Sainsbury's, showed signs of turning against GM crops. They said that they were asking suppliers to buy up GM-free fields all over the world so that they could guarantee their own-brand foods such as crisps and ready-made meals were GM-free. "We are actively looking for GM-free supplies," said a spokesman for Sainsbury's. "We want to reduce the number of GM ingredients used wherever possible."

Government funds will go to a Monsanto factory in Girvan, south of Ayr, which extracts chemicals from seaweed. Monsanto, which insists that no work on genetic engineering goes on at its plant, has so far received #785,000; it will be eligible for the rest of the #1.5m inward investment package once it has hired more workers.

"As far as this place is concerned there is no GM work whatsoever," said a spokesman for the company.

The Government has offered Du Pont, the UK arm of the American-based chemical multinational, almost #15m to encourage it to expand factories in the North-east of England and Northern Ireland.

A spokesman for Du Pont said: "Most of our work on genetic engineering is being done in the States. We are doing some research in the UK. The money given to the plants in the North-east and Northern Ireland has nothing to do with genetic modification."

This week a group of MPs from all parties will be established to scrutinise government policy on GM food, and the Commons environmental audit select committee plans to launch an investigation into genetically modified organisms.

Last week MPs tabled a Commons motion congratulating The Independent on Sunday on its campaign for a freeze on growing GM crops in Britain until rigorous tests of their effects on the environment have been completed.


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Date: 13 Feb 1999 22:36:22 -0600
From: MichaelP papadop@peak.org

GM foods campaign - The seeds of destruction

By Marie Woolf & Geoffrey Lean

Work is under way to target Third World farmers with a new form of genetically modified seed, nicknamed the Verminator because it contains a fat gene from a rat.

Agro-chemical giants have been patenting dozens of genetically engineered "terminator" seeds which are programmed to kill their own embryos so they cannot produce next year's crop. But the Verminator is the most dramatic example of the new science of genetic modification.

The patents have been condemned by scientists and Third World charities who say the technology will "enslave" the world's poorest farmers to businesses such as Monsanto.

Over 1.4 billion subsistence farmers and their families in the Third World rely on keeping back seeds from each crop to grow next year's harvest, ensuring that they can breed their own plants. Charities, which have been working to make poor communities self-sufficient, say that the new GM seeds could herald the demise of sustainable development.

"The whole concept of this invention is based around making the poor pay for seeds instead of saving their own. It risks damaging the seed base poor people depend on," said Isabel McCrea, of Action Aid.

Zeneca, a leading biotechnology spin-off of ICI, is working on the Verminator, a killer gene which can be switched on or off by a chemical trigger. Its patent describes the gene as coming from "mammalian uncoupling protein isolated from the brown adipose tissue of ratus ratus". Once inserted into the plant it acts as a killer of pollen cells by making them starve themselves to death. The energy function of pollen-producing cells is blocked.

"Terminator technology is dangerous because it puts an end to life," said Michael Antoniou, a molecular geneticist. "If you stop the energy factories in the cell from working it does not have any energy to keep it alive."

The controversial new terminator technology will be debated this week by politicians, ecologists and scientists at the 1999 convention on biological diversity in Colombia, a conference on protecting the world's plant life. There are likely to be calls for tight controls on introducing GM crops - including suicide seeds - into the developing world.

"By peddling suicide seeds the biotechnology multinationals will lock the world's poorest farmers into a new form of genetic serfdom," said Emma Must, campaigns officer of the World Development Movement. "Currently 80 per cent of crops grown in developing countries are grown using farm-saved seeds. Being unable to save seeds from sterile crops could mean the difference between surviving or going under."

It may be years before the terminator seeds are being planted commercially, but already Indian farmers are up in arms about the threat to their livelihoods. They have launched "Operation Cremate Monsanto" with the intention of "burning" the company out of their country. Fields of GM cotton have been set alight in Karnataka, and a government minister has expressed concern.

Professor N Najundaswamy, president of the 10 million-strong Karnataka farmers' association, says: "This is a terminator of food security. It is a damaging technology because pollination pollution can render indigenous varieties sterile. This gene will remove all characteristics of germination from our seeds."

At the end of last year Professor Najundaswamy and 200 of his farmers descended on two experimental fields of cotton which had been genetically engineered to resist pests but did not carry the terminator gene. They uprooted the cotton, piled it up and set it alight. "We are making a call for direct action against Monsanto and the rest of the biotech gang," he said.

Meanwhile, Babagouda Patil, India's minister for rural development, has warned that "the terminator gene will pose a serious threat to Indian agriculture". And the world's largest agricultural research institution has banned terminator technology. The Consultative Group on Inter- national Agricultural Research, which co-ordinates the research centres that spawned the Green Revolution, has announced it "will not incorporate into its breeding materials any genetic systems designed to prevent seed germination".


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Date: 13 Feb 1999 22:36:22 -0600
From: MichaelP papadop@peak.org

Monsanto pleads guilty to flouting rules on crops

MONSANTO , the controversial biotech giant at the heart of the growing row over "Frankenstein foods", will this week plead guilty to criminal charges of flouting rules over the planting of genetically modified (GM) crops.

In the first case of its kind brought in Britain the company will admit breaking the regulations at a test site for its crops in Lincolnshire. The development will be a huge embarrassment for the company, which has been aggressively promoting GM foods.

It could not have come at a worse time for the US multinational with the country in an uproar over the issue, and the Independent on Sunday's campaign attracting massive political and public support. Today Baroness Young, chairman of English Nature - the Government's official wildlife watchdog - calls on page 30 for tougher conditions for such test sites and a delay on commercial planting until thorough research has been carried out.

The case, which will be heard at Caistor Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, has been brought by the official Health and Safety Executive after a routine inspection of the site, at nearby Rothwell, last June revealed that control measures designed to prevent GM crops cross-pollinating with nearby plants had been "partially removed". Environmentalists fear that "escaped" genes from the crops may create superweeds, and that once out they could never be recaptured.

Monsanto (slogan "Food - Health - Hope") and another firm, Perryfields Holdings, were supposed to leave a six-metre wide "pollen barrier" around the crop of GM oilseed rape to stop cross-fertilisation. But the inspectors found that the barrier was only two metres wide on one side of the test site.

The GM rape had already flowered by the time the inspection took place, and government advisers were informed that "pollination with the surrounding crop may already have taken place". The entire GM crop and all seed harvested within 50 metres of it had to be destroyed. No oil seed rape is to be grown on the site for at least two years.

Both firms face a maximum fine of #20,000 in the magistrates' court for breaching the Environmental Protection Act 1990 - and an unlimited one if the case is referred to the Crown Court.

David Hill, a media consultant to Monsanto, confirmed late last week that the company will be pleading guilty. "It will be a very short court case," he said.

He added that, as things stood, there was little the company could do to stop a similar breach happening again. Monsanto had no direct control of the trials, which were done by third-party growers appointed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods (Maff). The company says it is working closely with Maff and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) to produce "a standard set of operating procedures" to avoid future breaches.

Both firms have been in trouble before for a similar offence although no charges were brought. Just over a year ago the DETR was informed that too small an "isolation distance" had been left around another crop of GM oilseed rape near Broadway in the Cotswolds. The crop had to be destroyed.


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Date: 14 Feb 1999 04:54:23 -0600
From: mail@icsenglish.com

Press briefing re: Dr. Pusztai

From Genetic Engineering Network, UK: genetics@gn.apc.org

NOTE FROM GEN:

A scientific briefing that took place yesterday at the House of Commons re: Pusztai. The media have indeed covered this issue widely over the last 48 hours, yet ALL have missed the most important points. This has allowed inaccurate and extremely misleading comments by Jack Cunningham, to go unchallenged. The media alert below, was put together by Luke Anderson, organiser of the House of Commons briefing yesterday. It is an attempt to clarify the most important points surrounding the Pusztai story. It will show that there are undeniable grounds for the UK government to implement a ban on both the import and growth of GE crops and food.

At the very least, Blair must surely be challenged to remove the threats of legal action that are preventing Pusztai from openly telling his side of the story. If the Govt. do not agree to this then serious questions must be asked as to why they are not allowing Pusztai to have his say. Is it because they then run the risk of everybody hearing the whole miserable truth about this incident?

Jack Cunningham has continued the rounds of TV and radio stations today and continues his attempt to reassure people by saying that no GE potatoes have been grown in this country and that people do not need to worry about eating the potatoes that were part of the experiments in question. Not only is it untrue that GE potatoes have not being grown in this country, (they have and are being tested in various parts of the UK, just take a look at the GMO public register at the DETR), but more importantly; the point is that the potatoes or the snowdrop lectin are NOT the problem but and that ALL GE food could be damaging or human health. For a full explanation please read on...all the best, & enjoy! - - GEN

PS

MEDIA ALERT TONIGHT

Urgent Press briefing re: Dr. Arpad Pusztai

For more information please contact Luke Anderson on: 07957 188621

The intention of this briefing is to clarify some of the key points which are being overlooked in the discussions centred on the research of Dr. Arpad Pusztai:

  1. Jack Cunningham has repeatedly said that It is simply not sensible to conclude that if a laboratory experiment with a known toxin added caused damage to rats, that all other GM potatoes are therefore unsafe. He has clearly not looked at the science, nor it seems have many of the other so-called experts who have repeated the same argument. The potatoes which had the snowdrop lectin (GNA) added to them did not affect the rats in the same way as the potatoes genetically engineered with the snowdrop lectin even though the lectin was present in equal concentrations in both. This points to the process of genetic engineering itself.

  2. The snowdrop lectin was used precisely because it was not thought to be toxic to mammalian systems. Dr. Pusztai, the world authority on lectins, had been working with the snowdrop lectin for seven years and had high hopes for its potential use in food crops. Indeed, the snowdrop lectin has been genetically engineered into a number of crops with a view to commercialisation (e.g. rice and oilseed rape). Cabbages genetically engineered with this lectin are being grown in trials this year in Holland.

  3. Unlike the snowdrop lectin, ConA (the lectin taken from the Jackbean) is known to be toxic to mammalian systems. For this reason it was never seriously considered by Dr. Pusztai for use in food crops. This was a source of much confusion last August when the Rowett Institute told the press that these experiments had involved potatoes genetically engineered with the jackbean lectin. Dr. Pusztai never suggested that he was using potatoes genetically engineered with this lectin. Potatoes which had the jackbean lectin added were used in the experiments to test the responsiveness of the immune system precisely because, being toxic, they stimulate it. Nor did Dr. Pusztai accept that he was muddled or confused about the experiments. This is backed by the twenty one distinguished scientists from twelve countries who looked in detail at the data. The reason that Dr. Pusztai was not able to clear up this confusion at the time was that he was sacked and threatened with legal action if he spoke out.

  4. Lectins are used in genetically engineered food that we are eating in the UK right now. Many crops, such as maize for example, have been genetically engineered with the Bt toxin, now understood to be a form of lectin. Genetically engineered Bt crops were grown last year on 7.7 million hectares worldwide (mostly in the US). We are eating this Bt maize in the UK, and it has not been tested to see if it has similar effects. In fact, talk as it might about the long regulatory process that GM products need to go through before they are approved, the government does not at present require that GM foods undergo thorough feed trials.

  5. This is based on a concept called substantial equivalence, which effectively means that if a GM product is seen to be grossly similar to a non-GM product, it does not need to be thoroughly tested (on the assumption that it we be no more dangerous than its non GM equivalent). The GM potatoes that were being tested by Pusztai were declared by the Rowett Institute to be substantially equivalent therefore by the governments own criteria they would not have been subject to the long-term trials carried out by Pusztai and his team. The effect on the mammalian system would not therefore have been discovered within the present regulatory framework.

  6. Cunningham has also said that The scientists who spoke out have not as yet provided any evidence to our advisory groups, to our scientists. They have been asked for it now for some considerable time. As soon as they do make their findings available to us of course we shall examine them quickly and comprehensively. This is not true. The scientists have not been asked by the government to provide information this information is publicly available now and the Scottish Office were given the report in October. The government has had access to this information for months.

  7. Dr. Pusztai is an internationally renowned expert in the field of lectin research. He has published 280 scientific papers and written 3 books. If he, in an institute funded by taxpayers money, can have his reputation destroyed, his research suppressed, and be gagged under the BBSRC code which applies to all publicly funded research scientists in the country, what message does this give to other scientists who may have controversial findings?

Comments from letters written to Dr. Pusztai in response to reading the official Audit report made by the Rowett Research Institute and the Alternative report written by Pusztai himself, as the coordinator of the research team: I find Dr. Pusztai's conclusions to be entirely consistent with the data presented in his alternative report. I find it deeply regretful that Dr. Pusztai's conclusions were not presented by the Director of the Rowett Research Institute to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science And Technology as a minority report presenting evidence that there are grounds for concern in the use of genetically engineered foods and a need for further research into their effects on mammals. I regret that there has been no attempt by the Rowett Research Institute to reestablish Dr.Pusztai's high scientific credentials with the media after the damage done to him by the Director in reporting publicly that Dr. Pusztai was responsible for producing confusion and muddle about the results and implications, a charge later withdrawn. This is the most serious damage that any scientist can suffer and it requires rectification.

Professor Brian Goodwin, scholar in residence, Schumacher College I believe that the results obtained indicate major potential problems that could amount to adverse affects tantamount to food hazard. The audit report seriously underplays the hazards revealed by these experiments and diverts the testing of food safety to unspecified regulatory procedures. Great potential risk has been highlighted. Simple toxicity experiments would not have revealed these dangers. Urgent attention must be given to demonstrating that the vector used (in all GE food currently available in the UK) does not cause analagous structural changes within the mammalian gut. Careful study of this report leads me to conclude that essential data concerning organ weights have been withheld. The missing data on organ weights does raise the possibility of deliberate cover-up by the persons collating the (audit) report data.

Dr. Stanley Ewen, consultant histopathologist at the University of Aberdeen Medical School Caution in developing robust and exhaustive hazard assessments for potentially irreversible changes to staple constituents of the human food chain is essential. The final opinion of the audit committee that The existing data does not support any suggestion that the consumption by rats of transgenic potatoes expressing GNA has an effect on growth organ development or immune function is surprising. A major problem with the (audit) report is that the authors have been selective with the data they have included, which makes an objective appraisal of their conclusions impossible from solely reading the audit report. I have the impression from reading the audit report that it was hastily compiled and systematically biased towards brushing aside your experimental findings. I feel that it is urgent that the full data from these experiments should be brought into the public arena and debated. The sequelae of your findings are of considerable importance in the current debate on the safety and hazard assessment of genetically modified foods.

Dr. Vyvyan Howard, Head of Research in Fetal and Infant Toxico-Pathology at the University of Liverpool


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Date: 14 Feb 1999 07:36:32 -0600
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

They couldn't be closer to Blair. So why are these men working for the world's biggest genetic food firm and opening doors to the highest level of Government?

UK Daily Mail Campaign Genetic Food Watch

Daily Mail Publication Date: February 13, 1999
© Copyright 1999, _____via IntellX_____ Powered by NewsReal's Industr

TWO men who played key roles in Labour's election triumph are helping the multimillion-pound campaign to persuade the public to eat 'Frankenstein food' .

The party's former chief spokesman, David Hill, advises GM food giant [ Monsanto ] on media presentation while Tony Blair's American pollster and strategist Stan Greenberg has done in-depth con-sultancy work for the firm.

Both expressly deny trading on their contacts, but the revelation of their involvement has triggered astonishment and alarm in Westminster.

It emerged as a Daily Mail investigation of Parliamentary records showed that New Labour has developed extraordinarily close contacts with the mutant plant industry.

GM food firms have met Government officials or Ministers 81 times since the party's landslide victory. Monsanto was welcomed into the agriculture and environment departments 22 times, a figure outstripped only by Zeneca, which was granted 31 meetings. The extent of the links between former key Blair aides and GM firms was causing concern last night, even though they deny explicit lobbying.

Mr Hill, who resigned last April after 25 years working for the Labour Party, is regarded by MPs as one of the few people who could pick up the phone to any Minister

He now earns GBP 100,000 a year as a senior director with Bell Pottinger Good Relations, spending much of his time as media adviser to Monsanto.

While Mr Hill emphatically denies using his contacts to open doors to Ministers, Commons written answers show Monsanto has had far more success at winning audiences since his arrival.

There have been seven meetings between the firm and top Government figures, including Jack Cunningham when he was Agriculture Secretary, his deputy Jeff Rooker and Environment Minister Michael Meacher.

The same analysis reveals that since the General Election 16 companies developing genetically-modified foods have been invited for talks 81 times by the Government.

Meanwhile Mr Greenberg, who has been credited with winning the Presidency for his friend Bill Clinton and propelling Mr Blair into Downing Street, has been paid huge fees to advise Monsanto on its propaganda strategy.

He wrote an uncomfortable report on focus group results which showed that most Britons rejected GM food.

But he has also expressed delight at the success the lobbying campaign was having among what he called the country's 'elite networks' with 70 per cent of MPs believing the benefits of GM foods outweigh the risks and a similar result among civil servants.

Mr Greenberg's influence in masterminding Labour's election and be put through straight away. victory would be hard to overestimate.

Shuttling constantly between Labour's Millbank headquarters and his Washington office from the 1992 defeat to the 1997 triumph, he helped persuade Tony Blair to think the unthinkable.

He persuaded the modernisers to dump Labour's traditional tax, crime and welfare policies and its socialist ideology to lure back working class voters who had defected to Margaret Thatcher.

Mr Greenberg is an extremely close friend and business partner of Philip Gould, Mr Blair's advertising guru and confidant and the pioneer in Britain of 'focus group' techniques to unearth what voters really think.

The two men both worked on Bill Clinton's election campaign.

Mr Gould left Millbank at the end of the General Election campaign and formed a firm called Gould Greenberg Carville NOP with Mr Greenberg and another leading U.S. political adviser, 'Ragin Cajun' James Carville.

The aim was to become the Saatchi & Saatchi of New Labour.

Their agency is one-quarter owned by NOP, the opinion polling company which is itself part of [ MAI ] , the media group headed by Express Newspapers proprietor Lord Hollick, another close friend of Mr Blair.

The firm has a small office in the Express Newspapers building in Blackfriars, London.

In December 1997 the Gould-Greenberg agency controversially won two Government contracts worth GBP 30,000 each.

One was to advise the health department on the state and image of the NHS and the other to survey public attitudes to the EU for the Foreign Office. The firm also does all of the Labour Party's opinion polling.

Mr Gould last night denied helping Mr Greenberg with his work for Monsanto.

But senior Tories demanded a full explanation of the links.

Spokesman John Redwood said: 'Labour should come clean about which Ministers have met who at what meetings and what they have talked about.' Ann Foster, director of public affairs at Monsanto, confirmed Mr Hill's role in making Monsanto's case but insisted it did not amount to lobbying.

She said: 'We have used Bell Pot-tinger to help with our media strategy for some considerable time. We had a relationship with the company before David was hired. David doesn't take part in everything.

'He doesn't do political work for us. If I want to see a Minister I just do it myself.' Mr Hill himself insisted: 'My job is as a public relations consultant is to help my clients get their message across.

'I do not introduce people to Ministers or MPs. My role is one of media handling - how do Monsanto present themselves, do you rebut, how do you put your point across positively - and tell them if they have some serious media problems.'