Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

4 March 99

Table of Contents

No GE on Waihiki Island (NZ)
Next phase of biotech
Teeth regrow to order
GE-Propaganda War - It's Business as usual
Mutant pollen from the Continent could infect British crops
GE Summary by Charles Benbrook

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Date: 27 Feb 1999 10:14:02 -0600
From: Judy_Kew@greenbuilder.com (Judy Kew)

No GE on Waihiki Island (NZ)

From ECOPSYCHOLOGY, 15 February 1999

First Genetic Engineering Free zone declared in New Zealand

The Community Council of Waihiki Island, a 6000 people island just off-shore of Auckland, New Zealand, has recently declared it wants to be a

GE-Free Zone (Genetic Engineering Free Zone).

This means that the Waihiki Islanders do not wish to be exposed to the dangers of Genetically Engineered Organisms (which the GBC - Government Business Complex whitewashingly calls GMOs - Genetically Modified Organisms).

The first GE-Free zone is expected to spread over the whole of New Zealand, which will then effectively become a GE-Free country.

A move to an entirely GE-Free status will probably draw strong opposition from the business-government-complex. However, given the strong and increasing world market demand for green and clean produce, the GE-Free status of New Zealand is likely to become a major playing card in the international market place.

More and more people doubt the economic and environmental "wisdom" of industrial agriculture and have a deep distrust of political and corporate spin doctors. There are promising signs in New Zealand agriculture and among some government officals that the competitive advantages and market premium of organic produce are being recognised. Because of its island status New Zealand could become the one and only green and clean supplier of safe food for an increasingly toxified world.

The recent British disaster of the Mad Cow Disease was partially caused by risk denials of government-aligned "scientists". Small wonder that the British have become very suspicious of manipulations with their food. A groundswell of popular opinion in New Zealand likens politicians to liers, understandably, after many years of broken promises.

Thus the future of Genetic Engineering Biotechnology does not look bright, to the detriment of conventional economics, with its tendency to account for financial GDP Gross Domestic Product results only.

But this development is a promising sign on our way to a more sustainable human society, living with chemicals-free natural and organically grown produce.

Bon appetit ... and Cheers ... Eric Auciel

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Date: 27 Feb 1999 16:19:43 -0600
From: Judy_Kew@greenbuilder.com (Judy Kew)
From: "Biotech Activists" biotech_activists@iatp.org

Next phase of biotech

M2 Presswire-23 February 1999-usda: Agricultural Outlook
©1994-99 M2 Communications Ltd

USDA: Agricultural Outlook

Value-Enhanced Crops: Biotechnology's Next Stage

Biotechnology's next quest, to provide field crops with value-enhanced qualities for end- users -- output traits -- is underway. Biotechnology's first stage featured crops with improved agronomic qualities -- input traits -- valued by farmers, such as resistance to pests. The industry now visualizes a system in which farmers grow crops designed for the specific needs of end-users in food manufacturing, the livestock sector, and even the pharmaceutical industry. Breaking with agriculture's traditional supply-side orientation may not be easy, however. Whether biotechnology's second stage is a wave or a modest ripple will hinge on several economic and technical factors.

Mark Ritchie, President
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Ave. South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404 USA
612-870-3400 (phone) 612-870-4846 (fax)
mritchie@iatp.org http://www.iatp.org/iatp

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Date: 28 Feb 1999 09:24:11 -0600
From: devatalk@mcmail.com
Subject: GM teeth for GM food

Now they want us to genetically grow teeth to eat their genetically grown rubbish!!

Teeth regrow to order

By Mark Prigg reports, Sunday Times 28 Feb 99, Genetics

Crowns and bridges may disappear when geneticists can tell the body to grow new teeth. A gap to be filled: geneticists can grow teeth in the laboratory; now they need to transfer the process to the mouth

MISSING and damaged teeth could one day be regrown with a gel that is being developed by a British professor. It will contain the genetic information that orders a particular type of tooth to grow.

Paul Sharpe, professor of craniofacial development at Guy's Hospital in London, has already found the gene that controls the type of tooth being grown, and he hopes that within 10 to 20 years his work will lead to teeth being grown on demand.

"We are still at a very early stage," says Sharpe. "There are hundreds of genes and message pathways involved in tooth formation and we have discovered only a few. Having said that, it's just a matter of time before we get the whole picture."

Once researchers know exactly which genetic messages cause teeth to be formed, they hope to create a gel containing genetic material that could form a new tooth wherever it is placed, which would ideally be inside a cavity in the patient's mouth.

"Within two or three weeks a new tooth would grow and work exactly as the lost tooth," says Sharpe.

The team is currently watching the way teeth develop in mice, as these are easy to study and modify.

Sharpe's group recently made an important breakthrough when it discovered Barx-1, the gene controlling the type of tooth being made. They were able to take cells that would normally create incisors in mice and modify them to produce molars. They did this by blocking an inhibitor known as BMP4 that usually causes incisors to grow.

"We found it fairly easy to control the type of tooth being grown, which makes us more confident of finding other relevant genes," says Sharpe.

The Medical Research Council has given Sharpe funding for a three-year project into the development of teeth. He also hopes to attract funding from the dental industry, although he says it is currently not interested in his research.

"Dental companies are far more interested in testing their latest toothpaste than investing in genetic dentistry, but once we start getting results all that will have to change," he says.

"We think we will be able to understand how genetics could repair damaged teeth as well as replace lost ones."

Sharpe's team has grown new teeth onto a mouse's kidney to test its theories. Parts of a mouse embryo were removed at an early stage of development and the genetic modification was carried out.

When the tiny cell samples were two or three days old, they were implanted just outside the kidney of an adult mouse.

"The kidney is one of the optimum sites for growing teeth, and there is a ready blood supply there. In the past, researchers have also grown teeth within the eye socket but that was obviously unfair to the animal," says Sharpe.

Once a tooth is implanted during a minor operation, the adult mouse lives as normal, and in two or three weeks a tooth develops just outside its kidney. The tooth is then removed and examined.

The next aim for Sharpe is to learn more about why teeth are always created in the perfect shape and place.

"Most animals depend on their teeth for survival, so nature has pretty much perfected tooth formation and positioning. It is incredibly rare to find an animal where things have gone wrong. What we want to find is exactly how this is done, and what genetic markers and commands are given. Once we know that, we can look at possible uses for our knowledge, and regrowing teeth would be an obvious aim," says Sharpe.

Although teeth can already be grown in a laboratory, growing a working tooth inside the mouth is far more complicated, says Sharpe.

"Teeth themselves are fairly simple," he says. "What is complicated is the way they interact with our body, the way the nerves are connected and the way they are positioned. That is all knowledge that just doesn't exist at the moment, though we are slowly getting there."


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Date: 28 Feb 1999 23:19:25 -0600
From: Judy_Kew@greenbuilder.com (Judy Kew)
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

GE-Propaganda War - It's Business as usual

In case you missed this excellent analysis (Guardian - UK).

Excerpts:

NUMBED by 20 years of neo-liberal propaganda, people have been conditioned to look to science and technology for the answers to society's major political problems, while politicians are content to `manage'. Small breeding firms have given way to a powerful genetic-industrial complex with ramifications extending into the very heart of research.

Terminator shows how this complex now feels so powerful that it no longer needs to hide its quest for control over life itself....

Final paragraph:

There is another way. Turn our backs on the present European policy of allowing life forms to be patented, and declare living things `the common property of humanity'. And reorganise genuinely public research around this common property in order to block the already well-advanced private hold that is seeking to eliminate any scientific alternative that would make ecologically responsible and sustainable agriculture possible. Guarantee the free movement of knowledge and genetic resources that have made the extraordinary advances of the past 60 years possible. Restore power over living things to the farmers, that is to each one of us. Replace economic warfare and the plundering of genetic resources with international co-operation and peace.

By Jean-Pierre Berlan is Director of Research at the National Agronomic Research Institute (INRA); and Richard C. Lewontin is holder of the Alexander Agassiz chair in zoology and professor of population genetics at Harvard. Copyright Le Monde diplomatique.

This article comes from the January edition of Le Monde diplomatique, now available in English as a joint subscription with the Guardian Weekly.

For a free trial copy of both papers, fax 0161-876 5362 or e-mail: gwsubs@guardian.co.uk

(Copyright 1999)

_____via IntellX_____

Publication Date: February 22, 1999

Subject: It's business as usual Date: Mon, 22 Feb 1999 22:32:18 +0000

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

Analysis special:

Genetically modified food: It's business as usual

Jean-Pierre Berlan and Richard C Lewontin show how biotechnology companies are conducting an intensive propaganda war in support of their activities The Guardian, UK

Terminator' uses a killer transgene to seize control over living things. It sounds like science fiction, but economics-driven impatience with nature means it is all too real.

LIFE has two fundamental and paradoxical properties: the ability to reproduce and multiply, and the ability to adapt, change and evolve. The first has given us farming, the second selection.

Over millions of years this has led to an extraordinary genetic variability both among and within species. In the course of their short history humans have domesticated plants and animals, selecting them and adapting them to their needs by exploiting and expanding this natural variability. But towards the middle of the 19th century, the motivation behind farming changed: instead of being driven by a need to feed and clothe people, making money became the primary consideration.

Seed-producing `investors' realised that their industry could not become a source of profit if farmers continued to sow grain that they had harvested themselves. By virtue of her prodigious capacity to reproduce, nature became an obstacle to business, whose raison d'etre - profit - is dependent on supply and demand. Because nature's frustrating ability continually to reproduce could not at the time be legally taken away by political means, the only way of achieving the same result was to use biological methods. In time agricultural genetics became devoted exclusively to this cause.

Success has been a while in coming, but last March the United States Department of Agriculture and a private company, [ Delta ] and Pine Land Co, patented the aptly-named `Terminator' technique. This consists of introducing a killer `transgene' that prevents the germ of the harvested grain from developing. The plant grows normally and produces a harvest, but the grain is biologically sterile. In May last year the multinational Monsanto bought Delta and Pine Land Co and the Terminator patent - by now registered, or soon to be, in 87 countries. Monsanto is currently negotiating exclusive rights to it with the Department of Agriculture.

Also in May, the company tried to woo French public opinion with an expensive advertising campaign about the philanthropic wonders of genetically modified organisms (GMO). Nobody bothered to understand the issues at stake, let alone explain them to the public. In France the media, the scientific community and the French Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Options did not think the subject worthy of public debate.

Terminator is the culmination of a long process of seizing control over living things that began when biological heredity started to become a commodity. In 1907 Hugo de Vries, the most influential biologist of his day, and the man who `rediscovered' Mendel's laws, was the only person to realise that in an applied science like agricultural genetics, economics took precedence over science. He understood what Monsanto and its ally-competitors use as a guiding principle today: what is profitable affects, or even determines, what is 'scientifically true' .

At the end of the 1930s scientists triumphed with `hybrid' maize, which was extravagantly feted. The technique of hybridisation, which has become the model for agronomic research all over the world, is now used in around 20 food species. Poultry of every kind and a large number of pigs are also `hybrids'. Geneticists claim that having different genes -`hybridity' - is beneficial per se. In reality, geneticists were actually using inbreeding to create sterility.

Until recently the investors could not reveal their true design - the sterilisation of living things - without making it unachievable. The peasantry was a powerful social group. Life was sacred. But peasants are disappearing: they have become farmers, eagerly awaiting the smallest sign of `progress' capable of delaying their ultimate demise. And life has been reduced to a source of profits in the banal form of strands of DNA.

NUMBED by 20 years of neo-liberal propaganda, people have been conditioned to look to science and technology for the answers to society's major political problems, while politicians are content to `manage'. Small breeding firms have given way to a powerful genetic- industrial complex with ramifications extending into the very heart of research. Terminator shows how this complex now feels so powerful that it no longer needs to hide its quest for control over life itself.

For example, [ Monsanto ] , the firm that is most advanced in `life science' applications, has no compunction about publishing threatening advertisements in American farming journals. Under a banner headline pointing out the cost of planting pirated seed, it reminds farmers who purchased Biotech seed - genetically modified and including a gene for resistance to Roundup, its flagship herbicide - that they are not entitled to keep any of the harvested grain for use as seed the following year. This is `contractual sterility'.

But the farmer may have bought Roundup Ready grain without signing a contract - from neighbours, for example. In that case the company can prosecute him because the variety is patented. So now we have `legal sterility'.

MONSANTO is using the old familiar response of hiring Pinkerton agency detectives to track down farmers who `pirate' its seed as well as using more conventional informers: neighbours, crop-spraying companies and seed merchants. To avoid a potentially ruinous lawsuit, more than 100 farmers have been obliged to destroy their crops, pay compensation and allow Monsanto agents to inspect their accounts and their farms for years to come. It is perfectly legal to keep harvested grain to sow the following year: the farmer's only obligation is not to sell that grain to his neighbours. But according to Monsanto, that right does not apply to genetically modified seed that is covered by a patent.

As for the risks of `biological pollution' and the consequences - quite unknown - of genetically modified varieties for public health and the environment, the genetic-industrial complex's philosophy was clearly summed up by Monsanto's communications director Phil Angell when he said with unusual frankness that his company had `no need to guarantee the safety of genetically modified food products'; it was only interested in selling as many as possible, and safety was a matter for the Food and Drug Administration. This from the people who paint the benefits of genetic manipulation in such glowing colours .

Monsanto and its ally-competitors,have specialised in the `life sciences'. These are strange life sciences that conspire against the marvellous property of living things to reproduce themselves and multiply in farmers' fields so that capital can reproduce and multiply in investors' bank accounts. Will we soon be forced to brick up doors and windows to protect candle makers from unfair competition from the sun)? There is no shortage of arguments that the sun should shine for everyone. Here are just four.

The myth of hybrids is easily exposed. On the one hand, farmers want better quality varieties that are more productive per unit cost. But they are unable to specify in what form. Unfortunately, they cannot rely on scientists to tell them that there are a number of routes to improvement and that the choice between a free variety and a hybrid is a political, not a scientific one. Scientists are not political animals, as we know.

On the other hand, investors, looking to maximise the return on their investment, choose the most profitable varietal type: they take the hybrid route of sterile varieties. Whether spontaneously or working to order, researchers set to work, devoting their efforts exclusively to the success of these hybrids. And, sooner or later, the technique is made to work, proving the initial choice was correct. The choice is like a self-fulfilling prophecy - the farmer's demand for better varieties is transformed into a demand for hybrids.

IN the fields of applied biology, health and medicine, we are trying to get rid of the great scourges of cancer, obesity, alcoholism, etc. But so far successful treatments for these diseases remain beyond our grasp. The genetic-industrial complex - obsessed with profit - puts itself forward as the solution. Confusing the agent with the cause, it drums into us that these social ills are genetic and therefore individual. The effect is to transform every healthy individual into a potential patient, expanding the market to the limit - as it previously did for seed with hybrids, and as it will do with Terminator.

By cutting themselves off from society in the name of objectivity and technology, biologists are falling victim to their own narrow concept of causality and their `a-historicity' - easy prey for investors. But the way for researchers to work for the better world that the vast majority of us want is for them to open themselves up to the scrutiny of their fellow citizens. That means scientific democracy.

The genetic-industrial complex is trying to transform political questions into technical and scientific ones so that responsibility for them can be shifted on to bodies it can control. Its experts, dressed in the candid probity and the white coat of impartiality and objectivity, use the camera to distract people's attention. Then they put on their three-piece suits to negotiate behind the scenes the patent they have just applied for, or sit on the committees that will inform public opinion and regulate their own activities. It is a serious thing when democracy no longer has any independent experts and has to depend on the courage and honesty of a few scientists and researchers, as it must, for example, in the nuclear industry.

Such abuses are beginning to elicit a timid reaction. American biological journals, for example, are asking their contributors to declare their personal or familyi nterests in biotechnology companies and their sources of funding. This is the minimum level of transparency that should be asked of any supposedly independent expert. The legal system is also concerned, even if the politicians are not. Last September France's highest court suspended the marketing and cultivation of three varieties of transgenic maize developed by Novartis, after the company had been authorised to proceed by the ministry of agriculture. The court ruled that implementation of the ministerial decree should be postponed on the grounds of caution.

DO we want to allow a few multinationals to take control of the biological part of our humanity by granting them a right - legal, biological or contractual - over life itself? Or do we want to preserve our responsibility and our autonomy? Will farmers' organisations continue to allow ruinous techniques to be imposed upon them, or will they debate what should be in the farmers' and the public's interest with renewed public research and a network of breeder-agronomists? Finally, what are the intentions of `public' agronomic research - which for decades has been privatising the material of life economically, and now biologically?

There is another way. Turn our backs on the present European policy of allowing life forms to be patented, and declare living things `the common property of humanity'. And reorganise genuinely public research around this common property in order to block the already well-advanced private hold that is seeking to eliminate any scientific alternative that would make ecologically responsible and sustainable agriculture possible. Guarantee the free movement of knowledge and genetic resources that have made the extraordinary advances of the past 60 years possible. Restore power over living things to the farmers, that is to each one of us. Replace economic warfare and the plundering of genetic resources with international co-operation and peace.

Jean-Pierre Berlan is Director of Research at the National Agronomic Research Institute (INRA); and Richard C. Lewontin is holder of the Alexander Agassiz chair in zoology and professor of population genetics at Harvard.

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Date: 2 Mar 1999 15:47:32 -0600
From: devatalk@mcmail.com

A similar article also appeared in The Daily Mail and was featured on a number of radio news bulletins, including the an interview with the Agricultural Minister who once again promised to allow crops to be grown only if they are shown to be safe.

Mutant pollen from the Continent could infect British crops

by John Ingham - Environment Correspondent

BRITAIN's farmland could be contaminated by genetically modified crops grown on the Continent, a report reveals today. Under certain weather conditions maize pollen can travel hundreds of miles, warned experts at the National Pollen Research Unit. Conventional maize grown in Kent could theoretically be cross-pollinated by GM maize from fields in northern Italy.

The study also said that bees can carry maize pollen several miles, increasing the risk of cross-pollination in local crops.

Yet the Government's own advisers have declared that a 200-metre barrier between GM and natural maize is enough to keep cross-pollination to a minimum. Last year Devon-based organic farmer Guy Watson lost his court battle with ministers to stop trials of GM maize on neighbouring land. However, the report by NPRU director Dr Jean Emberlin concludes: 'Overall it is clear the maize pollen spreads far beyond the 200 metres cited in several reports as being an acceptable separation distance.' Maize is pollinated mainly by the wind carrying the pollen, though bees and other insects also play a role. The pollen remains active on average for about 24 hours after release oenough time, say researchers, for it to spread widely.

Dr Emberlin's team said: 'Bees could move maize pollen several miles from the crop each day in suitable weather. Evidence shows that significant amounts of pollen are involved.' But the most alarming finding is how the wind can transport maize pollen across national borders. Researchers say that pollen can be carried on thermals up into the atmosphere where it can be blown huge distances before dropping onto other maize crops.

'The usual length of time available for pollen to travel as it is kept aloft by convection is a maximum of one day,' say the experts. 'This would be equivalent to a distance of about 50 to 180km, although it is well known that much longer transports do occasionally take place when suitable meteorological conditions occur' In wind speeds of ten metres per second the pollen could travel the length of England. Last night Dr Emberlin said: 'The lack of acknowledgement of potential pollen spread concerns me.

'I don't think it would be wise to go ahead with large-scale planting of GM crops without knowing more about the possible repercussions.' The Soil Association, which commissioned the report. called for a complete ban on planting GM maize in Britain.


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Date: 3 Mar 1999 09:30:51 -0600
From: Sprinkraft@aol.com

GE Summary by Charles Benbrook

This is from a talk given at the University of Illinois on 28 February 1999 It is a good summary and very fit for cut, paste, print and distribute. Steve

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

Our Food, Your Agricultural Biotechnology:

by Charles Benbrook, University of Illinois on 28 February 1999

Suggested Questions from the Non-Governmental/Non-Corporate Sector

Sections:
Consolidation Of The Food Chain:
Infinitely Unpredictable Effects:
"Safety" and "Choice" are Terms used by Biotech Agents, but Are in Fact Traps:
Corporate "double-speak"?
EXAMPLE 1: "Substantially Equivalent"
EXAMPLE 2: Terminator Seeds
More Questions From The Bleachers:
Listen To The Experts?


Consolidation Of The Food Chain:

"What you are seeing is the consolidation of the entire food chain."

A senior executive of Monsanto, as quoted in The Guardian (UK), 12/97

Do we, the global citizenry, wish such a consolidation of the food chain for the benefit of transnational corporations? Is dependence on genetically modified food (GM), wise from the point of view of food security, ecological stability, and human health?

Infinitely Unpredictable Effects:

"The fact is, it is virtually impossible to even conceive of a testing procedure to assess the health effects of genetically engineered foods when introduced into the food chain, nor is there any valid nutritional or public interest reason for their introduction."

Professor Richard Lacey, microbiologist

"Probably the greatest threat from gene tinkered crops is the virus genes implanted in the crops to help prevent virus disease, and the use of modified insect virus (for example, scorpion toxin) to fight insects. It has been shown in the laboratory that genetic recombination (gene scrambling and mixing) will create the most virulent new viruses. Certainly the cauliflower mosaic virus promoters used as drivers for genes inserted into most tinkered crops is a potentially dangerous gene. That virus is very similar to the Hepatitus B virus and related to the HIV. Modified viruses could cause famine by destroying crops or cause human and animal diseases of tremendous power."

Professor Emeritus Joe Cummins, University of Western Ontario

Humans possess almost infinite creativityOand capacity for holocausts. Is anyone trustworthy to tinker with the very basis of life?

"Safety" and "Choice" are Terms used by Biotech Agents, but Are in Fact Traps:

Who makes the Rules? Who sets the terms of the debate? The People? Or "Genes companies"? Or Us?

Doesn't the burden of proof rest with the self-named "life sciences" corporations to guarantee that transgenic products cause no harm to human health or the environment? Even proponents of GM food acknowledge that completely unpredicted effects from their genetic mutations have already occurred and will likely continue to occur. Shouldn't the release of these genetically modified organisms (GMOis) into the environment be PROHIBITED until such time as ALL potential unintended effects can be prevented?

Corporate "double-speak"?

(speaking Out Of Two Sides Of The Public Relations Office)

EXAMPLE 1: "substantially equivalent"

Is genetically modified food "substantially equivalent" OR "novel"? To the consumer, biotech corporations such as Monsanto insist that transgenic food is "substantially equivalent" to traditional, non-altered food.

To the patent office and the shareholders, the same corporations claim proprietary rights on the "novel" crops created by adding genes from virus, bacteria, animals, (and soon, humans) that ensure billions in potential profits.

If the transgenic food is indeed "novel", then don't we the people deserve the right to choose whether to eat it? Moreover, should there not be established a "CONTROL GROUP" in the human population so that objective scientists can study and compare the observed effects of consumption of experimental, gene- altered foods? People who were provided genuinely ORGANIC food would be the CONTROL GROUP. However, with millions of additional acres planted in gene- altered crops each year, will the production of ORGANIC crops require the construction of large BIOSHPHERE-like protective shelters so as to prevent genetic contamination? (Is the destruction of ORGANIC part of the biotech plan?)

CONVERSELY, if the transgenic food is indeed "substantially equivalent," (to the traditional food) why should the "life-sciences" firm be entitled to patent rights?

EXAMPLE 2: Terminator Seeds

"The centuries old practice of farmer-saved seed is really a gross disadvantage to Third World farmers who inadvertently become locked into obsolete varieties because of their taking the "easy road" and not planting newer, more productive varieties."

- Dr. Harry B. Collins of Delta & Pine Land Co.,
co-developer of the "Technology Protection System"

Which is disadvantageous from the farmer's point of view? Growing and breeding his/her own seeds according to his/her local needs, or becoming dependent (or even subservient) to a transnational corporation?

More Questions From The Bleachers:

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

"Let the Harvest Begin."

A draft Monsanto statement sent to
developing country leaders for their endorsement

NO - Let Nature's Harvest Continue!

Response from all the African delegates
(except South Africa) to FAO negotiations
on the International Undertaking for
Plant Genetic Resources, June 1998

LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS?

"There is no reason to believe BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) will be any different from scrapie."

John Gummer, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (UK), 1990

"There is no reason to believe that the genetic modification of maize will give rise to any adverse effects on human health from its use in human food."

John Gummer, Sec. of State for the Environment (UK), 1996