Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

11 March 99

Table of Contents

When is GM-free not GM-free?
Industrial Enzymes are Top Allergens
Canada Sparks Hormone Controversy in USA
Chefs Join Effort to Label Engineered Food
Asian Safe Food Campaign
Australia and New Zealand Vote for Labelling.
Japanese Consumers call for Mandatory Labelling
Global Organic Groups Urge Biotech Crop Ban
Indian Peasant Farmers Resist Biotech
Dr Arpad Pusztai Giving Evidence to the Commons
Farmers Finding no More Fat to Cut in Cotton Fields
Conference Scrutinizes Designer Food
GM Food: Scientists Clash Over Tests on Modified Potatoes
Set Biotech Goals: Urgent Need for a Protocol on GE Food
Hitting Back: MP's Hear Scots Scientist's Own Story
Little confidence in biotech
Scientist tells MPs he backs calls for GM safety screen
Canadian Senate released its interim report on BGH
UK TV: Brilliant TV program last night!!!!
Inquiry into work of GM food scientist
Scientists Alert MPs to Ban Genetically Engineered Foods
GM Farmers have Grounds for Concern
AGRICULTURE: Death To Monsanto, Say World Scientists
Gene-spliced plants and hormone-treated beef raise ethical questions
Why soya is a hidden destroyer

Top NextFront Page

Date: Sun, 7 Mar 1999 22:38:13 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-7 Alive March 1999

posted by MichaelP papadop@PEAK.ORG

When is GM-free not GM-free?

That is the big problem, reports Terry Slavin
Observer, Sunday March 7, 1999

With the backlash against genetically modified (GM) food showing no signs of abating, more and more food companies are pledging to go GM-free.

This has made for some strange bedfellows. McDonald's and Burger King are the latest to make common cause with vegetarian and organic food producers as well as the major food retailers by publicly saying they aim to phase out these ingredients. But this route is so poorly regulated and perilous that companies could be excused for wondering if they should bother. Last weekend United Biscuits and some wholefood firms, which have moved further than most in going non-GM, were embarrassed when their products tested positive for GM material in trials commissioned by the Daily Mail. Two weeks earlier, UB's Linda McCartney brand meals also tested positive on BBC's Newsnight.

The company has operated a non-GM policy for all its products, including McVities, for 18 months. The soya in its products is grown in Denmark, which does not permit GM organisms, and processed at a mill approved by Greenpeace. Its own tests had been negative. 'I don't know what more we can do,' said an exasperated spokesman.

But David Welsby, regional director of Protein Technologies International, a subsidiary of US chemicals giant Dupont, which has 80 per cent of the world market for non-GM soya-based ingredients, described EU regulation of GM food as 'a mess'. The DNA testing required under the EU's Novel Food Directive is difficult to do, and the results are notoriously erratic.

Welsby said: 'Testing isn't a simple black and white procedure. The [Newsnight] test may have picked up the tiniest trace of GM material in the Linda McCartney product - or it could have been a false positive.'

PTI sent the same sample of its own product to several labs: 'One tested completely negative, another showed 10 per cent [of GM material], one less than 1 per cent and one between 0.1 and 0.5 per cent.'

The certification of other foods allows for some accidental contamination - in the case of organic products, it's 5 per cent - but the EU allows none for GM foods. As Stephen Ridge, quality assurance executive of the Somerfield supermarket chain, says: 'The birds and the bees have a habit of spreading seeds, and these can co-mingle in the supply chain. In the processing chain co-mingling becomes more of a problem. Yet there's no percentage below which I don't worry now about contamination.'

And uniquely, the EU requires full DNA testing for GM food, rather than the audit of production processes needed to certify other foods.

'The directive is very ambiguous,' says Welsby. 'It mentions a threshold, but doesn't say what it should be. It mentions testing, but doesn't define a test method. It's a mess.'

Since 1996, when the US, the biggest soya producer, first considered mixing Monsanto's Roundup Ready GM soya with the conventional crop, UK supermarkets have joined environmental groups such as Greenpeace in campaigning for GM crops to be segregated from normal ones.

Having lost the US battle to Monsanto, most have quietly sought segregated supplies of non-GM soya in the US, Canada and Brazil - uncertain until the past fortnight whether UK consumers would, like US ones, swallow GM ingredients quietly.

The decision is not taken lightly. 'Identity-preserved' soya is about 10 per cent dearer because farmers are paid a premium not to switch to high-yielding Ready Roundup. Segregated processing and DNA testing add to costs.

Some companies have different policies in different European markets. Unilever, for example, is non-GM in Germany, where the backlash came much earlier, but as yet not in the UK, where its products are slated to be delisted by the Vegetarian Society.

Firms that have gone non-GM have had in effect to take the law into their own hands, setting up audit trails of 'identity preserved' crops and fixing their own permitted levels of accidental contamination.

Labelling is another problem. The EU regulation requires labelling only of foods that contain genetically modified soya and maize, but excludes ingredients derived from them such as lecithins, soya oil and maize starches, which are in 60 per cent of the food we eat - everything from baby food to beer and chocolate. The EU has promised to clarify the situation for these foods, but has not yet done so. Welsby points out that some tests can now detect GM material in lecithins, even though they are excluded from the regulations because they are classified as an additive. This means a product may be GM-free from proteins, but still test positive. 'Someone could pick this up in a test and trumpet it in the Daily Mail as genetically modified.'

Ridge at Somerfield said: 'The regulators are moving much more slowly than the media and public. Retailers are facing the complications we predicted. The more you challenge suppliers about the GM status of products, the more hedging you get.'

While most stores are not labelling their non-GM products because of the uncertainty, others are risking it.

Lindsay Keenan of Genetix Food Alert, a group co-ordinating the wholefood trade's efforts to go GM-free, said: 'We're encouraging our members to say they are non-GM on their labels. If [Food Minister] Jeff Rooker wants to take us to court, he can. We'll get this out in the open.'

Frozen food specialist Iceland has gone furthest: it labels all its products non-GM. But it has been a battle. In a submission to the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry on GM food last week, Iceland chairman Malcolm Walker said the Government advisory committees were pro-GM and had put up roadblocks.

'We were told we would damage the prosperity of the UK if we raised our concerns and prevented the progress of this technology,' said Walker.

Bill Wadsworth, Iceland's (brit supermarket chain descended from fish marketing chain) technical director, said the company could continue its stance for at least another two years, 'as long as the Government doesn't allow GM oilseed rape to be grown commercially, and trial crops aren't dumped in the open market'.

'The issue's increasing profile helps us,' he added. 'But it's not easy. The politics could change overnight.'

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sun, 7 Mar 1999 22:38:13 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-7

next article posted by: creuss@bluewin.ch (Christoph Reuss)

Industrial Enzymes are Top Allergens

Summary of an article in the Swiss health magazine "PulsTip"

Industrial enzymes are top triggers of allergies and asthma, according to a new dissertation from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). A study with 110 participants showed that for 90% of asthma patients and 80% of neurodermitis patients, the symptoms either disappeared or were strongly reduced by eleminating industrial enzymes from their diet and from laundry detergents. Neurodermititis and food allergies have boomed since the 1960ies when the industry started to artificially add enzymes to foods and laundry detergents.

Industrial enzymes are used in a wide range of foods, to improve gains, processability, shelf-life, taste and other properties in flour, starches, pop drinks, fruit juices, oils, beer, whine, cheese and meat. These artificially-added enzymes don't have to be declared on the labels, and it is hard to avoid them. Many of these enzymes are produced by genetically modified organisms (GMOs), usually molds and bacteria. Since the produced enzymes are subsequently separated from the GMOs, the use of GMOs doesn't have to be declared. However, the separation is often incomplete, and residuals of the molds and bacteria are the main culprits of allergies.

Industrial enzymes are a vast business. Novo Nordisk, the Danish market leader, makes about $500 million per year with industrial enzymes. The gains in the food industry by using these enzymes and the market of anti-allergy drugs are even bigger (billion$). It's not surprising that the industry and allergy research establishment refused to comment or cooperate on the new ETH research.


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Date: Sun, 7 Mar 1999 22:38:13 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-7 Alive March 1999

The following article is reprinted with permission from the March 1999 issue of Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition, 7436 Fraser Park Drive, Burnaby, BC V5J 5B9

Biotech News, by Richard Wolfson, PhD

Canada Sparks Hormone Controversy in USA

At the end of 1998 in Washington, DC, a coalition of consumer groups led by the Center for Food Safety began legal action to pull bovine growth hormone off the American market. CFS is charging that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ignored evidence of potential health hazards.

This evidence, which surfaced in Canada, showed that animals injected with the hormone developed serious health problems. "If it wasn't for the Canadian government researchers, we probably never would have known the full results of this 90-day rat feeding study," says Dr. Michael Hansen of Consumers Union (USA). "It should have triggered long-term toxicity testing, but the FDA did not require that testing."

Both Republican and Democratic Senators from Vermont are pressuring for a formal investigation of the administration's approval of the hormone.


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Date: Sun, 7 Mar 1999 22:38:13 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-7 Alive March 1999

Chefs Join Effort to Label Engineered Food

Chefs Collaborative 2000, composed of over 1,000 chefs, has joined the fight for the labelling of genetically engineered food. The collaborative includes New York chefs at Le Bernardin, Daniel, Chanterelle, Union Square Cafe, Aureole, March and Savoy. Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin said: "I don't want a cow gene in my cabbage. It's like Frankenstein. I don't know exactly what they are doing but at least everyone has the right to know and then they can decide if they want to eat the food."


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Date: Sun, 7 Mar 1999 22:38:13 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-7 Alive March 1999

Asian Safe Food Campaign

At the Asia Pacific People's Assembly in Kuala Lumpur, the Pesticide Action Network recently launched a Safe Food Campaign to safeguard against the hazards of genetically engineered crops. Indian activist Dr. Vandana Shiva said the biotech companies were "forcing hazardous food" on countries, using "tremendous pressure and misleading promotional campaigns" to prevent people from choosing the food they want, and refusing to segregate and label genetically engineered foods and crops.


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Date: Sun, 7 Mar 1999 22:38:13 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-7 Alive March 1999

Australia and New Zealand Vote for Labelling.

At the end of 1998, the Australian and New Zealand Governments were outvoted by a group of Australian states favouring mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods. The vote was six to four, in favour of labelling. The decision was make by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council, which clearly supports the consensus of the public who wants labelling.

While labelling activists are rejoicing at the outcome of the decision, the details of implementation have yet to be worked out. There is also some concern on how industry lobbying might affect the decision.


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Date: Sun, 7 Mar 1999 22:38:13 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-7 Alive March 1999

Japanese Consumers call for Mandatory Labelling

The Consumers Union and other non-governmental organizations in Japan continue to call for mandatory labeling. The Japanese government has received petitions with signatures from several million Japanese calling for mandatory labelling. In a national survey in 1997, 91% of Japanese consumers stated their desire for safety information on GE foods.


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Date: Sun, 7 Mar 1999 22:38:13 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-7 Alive March 1999

Global Organic Groups Urge Biotech Crop Ban

At the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) international congress in Argentina at the end of 1998, delegates from more than 60 countries, representing more than 740 IFOAM member organizations, called for the immediate ban of genetic modification in all forms of agriculture and food production.

Helen Browning of the UK's Soil Association said the declaration was "highly significant for debate in Europe, where the widespread application of Genetically Modified Organism's (GMO's) in agriculture is now far from inevitable and can still be stopped."


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Date: Sun, 7 Mar 1999 22:38:13 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-7 Alive March 1999

Indian Peasant Farmers Resist Biotech

Peasant farmers in India are actively resisting genetically engineered crops. The farmers say that corporate biotechnology will destroy their livelihoods. The movement is led by Professor Nanjundaswamy, who leads the Karnataka State Farmers' Association and claims the support of 10 million people. Farmers are refusing to grow biotech crops.


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Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 11:14:01 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-11

Dr Arpad Pusztai Giving Evidence to the Commons

BBC Monday, March 8, 1999 Published at 19:56 GMT

The scientist at the centre of a row over the safety of genetically-modified food has said he would raise concern about his experiments again if he had to.

Dr Arpad Pusztai, a former researcher at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, was giving evidence to the Commons Science and Technology Committee

He became embroiled in a major political row after he aired concerns about the results of his experiments on ITV's World In Action programme last year. ...[snip]...

It has been claimed the animals used in one experiment showed slight growth retardation, an effect on the immune system and changes in the weight of their internal organs.

Dr Pusztai was accused of confusing the results and releasing data not yet in the public domain.

The scientist told MPs the tests had not been carried out on a commercial basis but the results had raised concerns.

He said: "What we had to put over, and I think I probably did it too well, looking at it now, based on our experience, there ought to be a concern.

"When you say there is a concern they will probe into it what is this concern."

Dr Pusztai said he was not sufficiently famous for anyone to take notice of him.

He told the committee that on the basis of experiments where it was possible to see some affects on the growth, the immune system and organ weights of rats "you have to say something".

Dr Pusztai went on: "You feel frustrated, you have to do something about it".

The scientist admitted he had been naive but said he would do the same thing again.

He said: "I would contest that what I found essentially it certainly gave me a concern and it was very much shared by the institute this concern.

"In one sense what I achieved is that we are all sitting here and talking about it."

GAGGING CLAIMS

Also giving evidence to the committee was the head of the Rowett Research Institute Professor Philip James.

Dr Pusztai described how Professor James wrote to him giving his guidelines on "what he could or could not do" following the controversy.

He said he did not know of any other scientist sacked and gagged in this way.

"It was a real shock to me," he told the committee.

Dr Pusztai continued: "This business of me going in on the programme was very much a part of the normal of publicity you get nowadays. You have to raise money."

Professor James, in his evidence to the committee, said Dr Pusztai was not sacked or retired with a gagging clause.

There was confusion in his group to what studies had been conducted and outrage among his collaborators, said Professor James.

He denied that pressure from Whitehall or the Cabinet Office led to Dr Pusztai's contract not being renewed.

The issue had shown the scientific world had underestimated the extreme anxiety about food safety, said Professor James.

He told the committee: "We're in a new dimension relating to public health and safety."

The public were terrified about something they had no control about, Professor James went on.

There had to be pro-active initiative to developing novel science to enhance public confidence, he said.

His opinion was that in the future GM foods would be prevalent in the food chain.


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Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 11:14:01 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-11

Farmers Finding no More Fat to Cut in Cotton Fields

The Augusta Chronicle, Publication Date: March 07, 1999

Cotton farmers Johnathan Floyd and Chuck Lee have experienced problems that would sink any business. They have tasted the dust of a drought-stricken field and slogged through its rain-soaked mud a week later. They've seen their sparse yield wasted on Asian and Russian consumers too poor to pay. They have yet to see much of their 1997 income, which disappeared when a reputable cotton broker went bankrupt. This year, cotton seeds that promised to resist worms and herbicide produced only withered plants.


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Monday, March 8, 1999

Conference Scrutinizes Designer Food

By Carol Harrington -- The Canadian Press

CALGARY - Canadians sorely lack unbiased information about genetically altered food, even though the high-tech products are widely available on store shelves, a conference concluded yesterday.

A panel of 15 volunteer citizens from Western Canada agreed people have the right to know if their food is genetically altered. Yet the panel stopped short of demanding all modified food is labelled as such.

"The panel is aware of a myriad of problems and complexities with labelling," panelist Trevor Lien, a coffeehouse owner >from Regina, told the three-day conference on food biotechnology sponsored by the University of Calgary.

After absorbing heaps of material on biotechnological foods and attending a three-day conference, the panel made 17 recommendations on the issue.

The "public jury" recommended Canada develop and implement an effective labelling policy, and a code of ethics for the biotechnological food industry.

Future of biotechnology "Our seventeen recommendations are the beginning of an uncertain but absolute future for biotechnology," the panel said in a report.

"At this point, the technology leaves us with as many questions as there are answers."

There are 31 genetically altered plants on the shelves of Canadian supermarkets, including tomatoes, wheat, corn, soybeans, and potatoes.


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Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 11:14:01 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-11

GM Food: Scientists Clash Over Tests on Modified Potatoes

By Steve Connor, Science Editor, The Independent (London) March 9, 1999,

Pusztai: Suspended over row on safety of GM food

TWO SCIENTISTS at the centre of the controversy over genetically modified food clashed last night over crucial statements issued about the results of experiments on rats fed on GM potatoes. Arpad Pusztai, who was suspended last year from the Rowett Research Institute, near Aberdeen, after suggesting GM food is unsafe, told the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee he had never been shown press releases about his work issued by the institute.

He said subsequent confusion in the press over what sort of lectin - plant toxins - had been used in the experiment would not have arisen if he had been able to see the press releases before they went out. His institute said that Dr Pusztai had become confused about the "con A" lectin and another lectin from the snowdrop plant, which is why he was suspended.

Dr Pusztai's boss, Philip James, the director of the Rowett institute, told the committee Dr Pusztai had ample opportunity to correct any inaccuracies in the press releases. This contradicted Dr Pusztai's assurance to the committee that he had not seen the press releases until they had been issued.

Professor James said that Dr Pusztai had referred to experiments on the con A lectin, when these experiments had not in fact been carried out at the time of his interview on television.

"It's been quite astonishing how events have been misrepresented," Professor James said. He said that Dr Pusztai had not only seen a copy of the press release referring to the experiments but that he had rewritten a part of it. "Dr Pusztai had actually presented information that turned out to be untrue, there was confusion in his group and his collaborators were outraged," Professor James said.

Dr Pusztai told the committee that after the television broadcast many people phoned him about the con A lectin experiment, whereas in fact he had referred only to the snowdrop lectin experiment. Dr Pusztai also said he had not seen a press release issued by World in Action, which instigated the publicity that led to his dismissal.


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Set Biotech Goals: Urgent Need for a Protocol on GE Food

Calgary Herald March 09, 1999, FINAL SECTION: Opinion; A12

While an attack of the killer tomatoes is not imminent, this past weekend's conference on biotechnology illustrates an increasingly urgent need for a protocol on genetically engineered food.

The science of designer foods -- changing the genetic makeup of potatoes, for example, to make them more resistant to pests -- is developing at a faster pace than the public's understanding of the issue. In the same way that research on human genetics, such as cloning, has far outstripped society's efforts to grapple with the moral implications, so too are there dangers in tinkering with the world's food supply without grasping the consequences. There are clearly many positives to biotech products. Some genetically enhanced plants can better resist disease, better tolerate harsh climates and, in some cases, provide improved nutrition. But the effects of these new strains on humans, the environment and other species, plus the potential for disruption of the world's food production and distribution systems are still largely unknown.

As the conference's panel wisely recommended, Canada needs to establish guidelines, set policy and outline goals before proceeding. Just because scientists have the know-how to create this next generation of super foods, doesn't necessarily mean that doing so is in the nation's best interests.


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Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 11:14:01 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-11

Hitting Back: MP's Hear Scots Scientist's Own Story

THE scientist who sparked the Frankenstein food scare told MPs last night: "I would do it all again." Dr Arpad Pusztai, who was forced to retire from the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen following his claims, said people were being used as "guinea pigs". He said more needed to be known about genetically -modified food before it was released to the public. And asked if his work raised new concerns over GM foods, he told the Commons Science and Technology committee: "I think so."

Moments later, his former boss Professor Philip James - director of the Rowett Institute - disputed what Pusztai had to say.

Mr James said that far from throwing Dr Pusztai to the wolves, he had spent 48 hours defending him even though there were serious holes in his scientific work. The row blew up last year when the scientist told World in Action that rats he had fed on GM potatoes suffered stunted growth and weight loss. Later, Dr Pusztai was suspended from the Rowett and his findings discredited by Professor James. But last month, a group of independent scientists said the Hungarian- born doctor was right and pressure groups demanded a freeze on GM crops. At the height of the ensuing media scare, Prime Minister Tony Blair publicly stated that his family were happy to eat GM foods.

Yesterday, Dr Pusztai said the GM foods industry was being allowed to develop on the basis of one scientific paper. He said: "That is not good enough for me. This is a new technology. We must have a new technology in testing techniques."

Asked whether he still thought he was right to blow the whistle on GM foods, Dr Pusztai said: "Yes. Yes. I have never changed my mind about it. "What we had to put over and I think I possibly did it too well, was that based on our experiments there ought to be a concern." Although Dr Pusztai admitted he did not realise the significance of what he said on World in Action or how the public would react, he defended his 150-second contribution. He said: "It was a long-standing policy of the Institute to have a cautious approach to GM- related matters and they felt, including Professor James, that the route we had to take should be a very, very gradual and well- researched route." The doctor also told how he had been effectively gagged by a letter sent to him by Mr James after he appeared on the World in Action programme. Dr Pusztai said: "He said what I could do and what I could not do. Most of it was what I could not do. "It was a bit of a shock because it is not a situation I ever expected to be in."

Dr Pusztai also criticised the committee set up to assess the evidence for and against GM food, saying there were too few practising scientists on it. Supermarket chain Asda said yesterday that as part of a policy to eliminate GM ingredients from its products, it had signed a deal for GM- free crops.


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Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 11:14:01 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-11

Little confidence in biotech

The Gazette (Montreal) March 09, 1999, B2

Perhaps Douglas Powell of the University of Guelph's plant agriculture department (Letters, March 1) is too trusting. He writes, When a potential risk is identified, an appropriate management scheme can be developed, one that maximizes the benefits of a particular Gulp: the tone is pure biotech PR, not something to inspire confidence, unfortunately. He must be aware that the efforts of 170 countries at a conference in Cartagena, Colombia, to hammer out a policy to ensure safe trade in genetically modified organisms have just been thwarted by the United States (read biotech companies).

If genetically engineered foods are so innocuous, as Professor Powell would have us believe, why are the biotech companies so up-tight out of sight, out of mind'' attitude relax, The agricultural products of biotech technology are increasingly grown by North America because they are safe,

Sure. Such platitudes are little more than biotech-company fluff, or his own wishful thinking. Why not give consumers the information we require? Unfortunately, Monsanto, Dow and other companies are adamant that we stay in the dark, that the results of their tinkering remain unlabeled. These powerful companies sabotaged a treaty that 170 countries were willing to sign. Apparently, safety and the information to make informed decisions must take a back seat to biotrade and short-term profits. Guelph's plant agriculture department should be on the side of the consumer to provide us with needed information, rather than in bed with the biotech giants. Patrick Vallely Montreal


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Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 11:14:01 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-11

Scientist tells MPs he backs calls for GM safety screen

The Irish Times March 9, 1999, Pg. 10

The head of the research institute which terminated the contract of a scientist who raised concerns over genetically modified food, last night backed his calls for a new, tougher, safety regime for the products. Prof Philip James, head of the Rowett Research Institute, told a committee of MPs "more effective and accurate screening methods" were needed to monitor "the unexpected consequences" of genetic modification. Prof James' criticisms of the current system for testing so- called Frankenstein foods echo calls made by Dr Arpad Pusztai, whose contract with the institute was terminated last summer after he appeared on an ITV World in Action programme which raised concerns about GM food.

In written evidence to the Science and Technology Select Committee, Prof James attacked US food safety standards, saying "more stringent testing systems are needed than those which appear to be acceptable in the US". He also criticised the World Trade Organisation - which would rule on any British or European attempt to restrict imports of American GM foods - as treating public health as of "little import".

Dr Pusztai told the MPs there was a "compelling case" for an "over-arching body to advise on and oversee genetically modified food". He said government advisory committees on new scientific developments were likely to be "severely tested" in verifying GM safety as more and more foods were brought to market. They were also very limited in commissioning their own research, meaning their judgements were "mainly based on information received from the companies" developing the foods.

The number of genetically modified animals produced and bred in the UK for scientific experiments totalled more than 350,000 in the latest figures available, the British government disclosed last night. The junior Home Office minister, Lord Williams, said in a House of Lords written reply 355,396 GM animals were reared in the UK in 1997, including 5,000 imported, and were used for "scientific procedures".


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Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 15:41:24 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-11

Canadian Senate released its interim report on BGH

On March 11, the Agriculture and Forestry Committee of the Canadian Senate released its interim report on Genetically engineered BGH. They were very much against it. The full report can be found at: http://www.parl.gc.ca/36/1/parlbus/commbus/senate/com-e/agri-e/rep-e/repintermar99-e.htm Here are the main recommendations:

LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. The Committee recommends that Health Canada ensure full adherence to its conflict of interest guidelines and, in cases of perceived conflict of interest, publicly declare its reasons for accepting the appointment of any individuals for whom a conflict is perceived. (page 10).

  2. The Committee recommends that decisions about the safety of drugs for humans, and the safety and efficacy of drugs for animals, be left with Health Canada evaluators (page 11).

  3. The Committee, having heard the suggestion of some witnesses, recommends that the government conduct an evaluation of Health Canada's drug approval process to ensure that it fully safeguards human and animal health and safety. This evaluation should be undertaken by independent experts, either in conjunction with any follow-up activities of the Auditor General of Canada regarding the Health Protection Branch or subject to review by the Auditor General (page 13).

  4. The Committee recommends that no Notice of Compliance be issued for rBST until the manufacturer submits the long-term studies identified by Health Canada's rBST internal review team as data missing from its submission and until a review of those studies more precisely determines any risks to human safety (page 17).

  5. The Committee recommends that Health Canada ask that the study requested by the evaluators of the former Central Nervous System/Endocrine/Antiparasitic Division be conducted and submitted in order to meet the requirement of section C.08.004.(2) of the Food and Drug Regulations (page 18).

  6. The Committee recommends that once human and animal health and safety are assured, the government establish an ongoing mechanism that would stimulate public discussion on economic, trade, social, ethical and other considerations related to drugs and medical devices that are being considered by Health Canada. This mechanism should involve the Canadian Food Inspection Agency where relevant, and may be one outcome of the Health Protection Branch's Transition initiative (page 21).

  7. The Committee recommends that Health Canada officials appear before the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry no later than June 1999 to provide information about the initiatives undertaken to resolve the management problems identified in this report (page 22).

  8. The Committee recommends that any federal government department asked for information by a parliamentary committee fulfill that request completely and as expeditiously as possible. Information that the department believes to be proprietary should be presented to committees in camera, with a rationale for maintaining confidentiality (page 24).

  9. The Committee recommends that Health Canada, and in particular the Health Protection Branch, explore means by which ongoing consultation with the public, and information dissemination to it, can continue following the Transition initiative (page 24).

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Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 15:41:24 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-11

Here is an inspiring personal report from: Paul Davis devatalk@mcmail.com in UK

UK TV: Brilliant TV program last night!!!!

Fri, 12 Mar 1999

Covered the whole Pusztai story, 'substantial equivalence', Caul Mosaic Virus, lack of control in US, GM in baby food .......

Dr. Pusztai came out like a hero. Putting his reputation on the line because he found something wrong, even though he was the man who originally said the snowdrop lectin was fine. He was very calm, clear and like a shining light in contrast to his devious and unbelievable opponents.

Nice touch in an american supermarket. At the check-out, the reporter asked which products contained GM - check-out girl had no idea. 'Has anyone asked you that before?', 'No sir, you're the first'.

Good interview with an american scientist pointing out how unpredictable the science is. Also Dr. Howard of Liverpool, a leading expert in child toxology, had a great impact. His concerns for children's & babies health came over as very genuine.

Prof. James of the Rowett must be fuming!!! Everyone is now qouting him as saying the current regulations are not comprehensive enough!!!! And Minister Jeff Rooker ranted on again how fed up he is people talking about the potato - 'This potato is not on the market'. However at the end of the program the reporter said that they had research Government & EU papers and had found that a number of crops containing the snowdrop gene are in the pipeline for approval - cauliflower, rice, maize..... and a POTATO!!!!!


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Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 15:41:24 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-11

posted by MichaelP papadop@peak.org

Inquiry into work of GM food scientist

By Steve Connor, Science Editor, INDEPENDENT (London) March 11

Royal Society sets up inquiry on Pusztai expts.

A high-powered team of scientists has been appointed to investigate the work of Dr Arpad Pusztai, whose findings triggered a furore over genetically modified (GM) food.

The Royal Society, Britain's most eminent body of scientists, has asked six of the country's leading scientists to review the data that led Dr Pusztai to warn that people who eat GM food are "unwitting guinea pigs in a mass experiment".

The six specialists were selected by the Royal Society for their expertise in different disciplines and their independence from the Pusztai affair. None has commented publicly on the controversy.

It is almost unprecedented for the Royal Society to establish what is effectively an independent peer review of a scientist's unpublished work. It was brought about because of the intense publicity associated with the Pusztai affair.

Last August, the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen suspended Dr Pusztai after he claimed in a television interview that rats fed GM potatoes had stunted growth and a defective immune system. The institute said Dr Pusztai had no evidence on which to base his assertions and claimed that he had become "muddled" over experiments that had not taken place. In February, 20 scientists, mostly friends of Dr Pusztai, signed a memorandum supporting him, citing new evidence.

The members of the review team include experts in statistics, nutrition, animal genetics, epidemiology and pharmacology. They will report their findings next month.


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Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 15:41:24 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-11

Here is a recent Natural Law Party Press from release that I was forwarded from Europe:

http://www.natural-law-party.org E-mail: nlp@euronet.nl

Scientists Alert MPs to Ban Genetically Engineered Foods

11 March 1999

Sections:
Party briefing
An imprecise and uncontrolled process
Medical and agricultural applications of genetic engineering
Respecting natural boundaries
A total ban

Party briefing

A special all-party briefing for MPs of the British parliament was held on 8 March in London in a House of Commons committee room, given by scientists concerned about the introduction of genetically modified foods.

Professor John Fagan, an eminent molecular biologist with 23 years of experience at the cutting edge of molecular genetics techniques in cancer research, called for greater caution in the introduction of genetically modified foods.

"If genetic engineering is to be used in agriculture and food production, its implementation should be guided by the same kind of rigorous science and testing that is now used to assess new pharmaceuticals and food additives. Stringent short-term and long-term safety testing and environmental assessment are essential," Dr Fagan told MPs.

An imprecise and uncontrolled process

Using detailed charts to explain the process of genetic engineering, Dr Fagan showed how the insertion of specific new genes into an organism is an imprecise and uncontrolled process that may influence biological functioning in unpredictable ways. "There is always the risk that genetically engineered foods may contain unintended allergens and toxins, and may be reduced in nutritional value. Furthermore, genetically engineered crops may disrupt the ecosystem by reducing bio-diversity, damaging soil fertility, inducing the development of new pathogens, pests, and weeds, and increasing the use of toxic and carcinogenic agrochemicals."

Dr Fagan is Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. He initiated world-wide debate on genetics research in 1994 when he returned almost two million dollars of grants from the US National Institutes of Health because of concerns about the dangers of genetic engineering and the hazards of releasing GM organisms into the environment. Dr Fagan is also chief scientific adviser to Genetic I.D., a company that provides genetic testing services to food, nutritional, and agricultural industries throughout the world. The tests Dr Fagan has devised are significantly more sensitive than any currently utilised by British authorities and can detect the minutest trace of any GMO.

Medical and agricultural applications of genetic engineering

Dr Michael Antoniou, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Pathology and head of a research group at one of London's leading teaching hospitals, explained the difference between clinical and agricultural applications of genetic engineering. "Genetic engineering in medicine tries to correct a genetic defect that is either inherited, as in muscular dystrophy or cystic fibrosis, or acquired, as in cancer. Strict regulations quite rightly demand that the use of genetic modification (GM) in medicine does not result in the intentional release of viable GM organisms (GMOs) into the environment," Dr Antoniou said. "In marked contrast, the use of GM in agriculture tries to 'repair' plants that have nothing inherently wrong with them. In agriculture, GMOs are produced specifically for their intentional release into the environment.

"In medicine a new drug or therapy produced using GM must undergo pre-clinical and, more importantly, clinical trials to assess not only efficacy but also to detect any unexpected, undesirable side-effects. However, for GM food no tests with human volunteers are required by law for either toxicity or allergic reactions prior to marketing.

"Medicines are clearly labelled, and they are taken voluntarily, and the effects are carefully monitored. None of this applies to GM foods. Under current EU regulations most foods (90%) containing GMO-derived ingredients need not be labelled. The lack of effective segregation means the public has no choice as to whether to eat GM foods or not, and finally post-release monitoring is non-existent. Any problem that subsequently arises would therefore be virtually impossible to trace," he said.

Respecting natural boundaries

"If BSE has taught us anything it is that we should think twice about using a technology in a manner that violates well established natural boundaries. Nature works according to the principle of 'least action' (maximum economy) suggesting that everything exists for a purpose. Natural boundaries or laws can be seen as the means by which the evolutionary direction and integrity of life is maintained.

"We should not lull ourselves into a false sense of security: we should not think that by regulating something which is inherently unpredictable and uncontainable it automatically becomes safe," he said.

Dr Antoniou is the author/co-author of more than 50 publications and is biotechnology adviser to many organisations including the Soil Association and the Society for the Promotion of Nutritional Therapy.

A total ban

Dr Geoffrey Clements, leader of the British Natural Law Party and a physicist by training, emphasised that the scientific knowledge behind the so-called technology is totally inadequate to guarantee that the GMOs now being produced are free from hazards.

"It is like expecting a physicist trained under Newton to operate a nuclear reactor," Dr Clements said. "The actual methods employed are intrinsically dangerous and highly unnatural," he said, referring to the fact that genetic modification can involve pieces of DNA from scorpions, fish viruses, bacteria and other species being implanted in the DNA of cereals, vegetables, fruits and animals.

"Contrary to the arguments being put forward, these are mutations of the DNA that could never occur in nature. They are being made to occur in isolated species over a time scale of one or two years. In nature, evolution of the DNA usually takes place over millions of years, in a natural environment of all species living together in balance.

"This means that we have no way at all of predicting any adverse results that may happen. When the methods of genetic modification are understood - that they involve pieces of virus and bacterial DNA, for example - it is clear that we are unleashing potential disaster for all life forms.

"The only safe way forward is a total ban on all new GM crops and foods, and a recall of all crops and products already being grown and prepared." The Natural Law Party was the first political party to declare itself opposed to GM foods, and it is now actively campaigning on the issue in 80 countries.


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Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 15:41:24 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-11

GM Farmers have Grounds for Concern

By Christopher Cairns, Environment Correspondent, Scotsman, 11 March 1999

Experts warn of fall in land values similar to effect of contamination or disease

GENETICALLY modified crops could reduce the value of agricultural land across Britain and leave tenant farmers open to legal action, the Government has been told.

In a warning which has sent tremors through the already crisis-hit farming industry, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has said GM crops could have the same effect on land values as contamination or the outbreak of disease.

The RICS has sent a report to the Office of Science and Technology and several other Government departments calling for the setting up of a land register through which potential buyers and banks could find out if and when GM crops had been grown on a particular holding. Environmentalists have backed the RICS and warned of disastrous consequences for British agriculture if the Government presses ahead with commercial scale GM crop trials.


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Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 15:41:24 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-11

AGRICULTURE: Death To Monsanto, Say World Scientists

This is top story for Mar 11, 1999 on OneWorld News http://www.oneworld.org/news

By Ranjit Dev Raj NEW DELHI, Mar 11 (IPS) - Conscientious genetic engineers and activists from across the world Thursday called for a slow but sure death for Monsanto, the U.S seed giant they say threatens life on earth with its genetically modified crops. said Tony Clarke, director of the Polaris Institute in Canada which assists social movements to develop tools, skills and strategies for fighting economic globalisation and corporate power.

Clarke was among participants selected to devise future strategies against 'Genetic Engineering and Patents on Life' at the close of the two-day 'Biodevastation II' meet here.

Monsanto figured high on the agenda because of stiff resistance put up in this country by farmers and activists to field trials in 40 widely separate locations of genetically engineered Bt cotton carried out by the corporation on doubtful authorisation.

Said Pushpa Bhargava, a distinguished India biotechnologist who has the clearance for the trials should have come from Indian Council of Agricultural research (ICAR) - instead clearance came from the Department of Biotechnology and after the trials


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Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 15:41:24 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-11

Gene-spliced plants and hormone-treated beef raise ethical questions

BY Laurent Belsie, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
The Christian Science Monitor, March 10, 1999, Wednesday
SECTION: USA; GLOBAL REPORT; Pg. 1

Signs of the food fight to come

Gene-spliced plants and hormone-treated beef raise ethical questions about how much to fool with nature.

Geneticists are on the verge of revolutionizing agriculture and medicine in much the same way computers have transformed business. Labs around the world are working on crops that could feed a growing planet, plants that could clean up contaminated soils, and pigs whose organs may one day get trans-planted into people.

But to do these things, scientists are fooling with nature's basic building blocks. As they do, they are kicking up dissent around the world as one nation tries to sell its genetically altered foods to another's grocers. The current food fight between the United States and Europe - over hormone-treated beef and genetically altered soy beans - could be just a prelude of arguments to come. That's because the greatest risks probably don't lie with today's simple genetic alterations. Future rounds of exotic agriculture pose bigger threats because they will put organisms to completely new uses. The fundamental question: How much should science manipulate nature to care for mankind?

And there's no going back, scientists say. Consider the US experience. While Europeans debate how far to proceed with the new technology, Americans are quietly ingesting the new foods, often without knowing it. "The genie can't be put back," says Marshall Martin, an agricultural economist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. "Anyone who eats pizza or cheese on their hamburger has consumed genetically modified food.... We pulled the cork out of the bottle in a sense with the discovery of DNA."

For example, three-quarters of America's cheese gets its start with a bioengineered enzyme. Nearly 1 out of 6 dairy farmers injects his cows with a genetically engineered growth hormone to boost milk production. And genetically modified crops are increasingly taking over farmlands - with some 70 million acres planted worldwide, 60 million of it in North America. This planting season promises more inroads. For example, half of America's soybeans, perhaps more of its cotton, and a third of its corn could be genetically modified - a remarkable adoption rate in the four years since the new seeds were introduced.

Other countries are also moving rapidly to incorporate the technology. Last year, some 650,000 farmers in China planted genetically modified cotton. And this year Monsanto, which produces the cotton seed, expects to double that number. Even the European Union has approved bioengineered soybeans and corn. Small quantities of corn, genetically modified to resist pests, are being grown in Spain and, if approved by France's high court, could start showing up in the fields of Europe's largest corn producer.


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Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 15:41:24 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-11

Why soya is a hidden destroyer

Exclusive by Mark Townsend, Daily Express 12 March 99

Fresh fears over the safety of genetically modified foods surfaced faced yesterday after new research revealed that food allergies relating to soya Increased by 50 per cent last year A study by Europe’s leading specialists on food sensitivity found health complaints caused by soya - the ingredient most associated with GM foods - have increased from 10 in 100 patients to 15 in 100 over the past year.

Researchers at the York Nutritional Laboratory said their findings provide real evidence that GM food could have a tangible, harmful impact on the human body.

The findings were sent to Health Secretary Frank Dobson last night as scientists urged the Government to act on the information and impose an instant ban on GM food, while further safety tests are carried out. Dr Michael Antoniou, senior lecturer in molecular pathology at Guy's Hospital, Central London, said: "This is a very interesting if slightly worrying, development. It points to the fact that far more work is needed to assess their safety. At the moment no allergy tests are carried out before GM foods are marketed and that also needs to be looked at."

John Graham, spokesman for the York laboratory, said: "We believe this raises serious new questions about the safety of GM foods because it is impossible to guarantee that the soya used in the tests was GM-free." It is the first time in 17 years of testing that soya has crept into the laboratory's top 10 foods to cause an allergic reaction in consumers.


Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign, for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
500 Wilbrod Street Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
tel. 613-565-8517 fax. 613-565-1596 email: rwolfson@concentric.net

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