Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

28 March 99

Table of Contents

Outrage over Monsanto's underhand tactics in EU
Fear grows over 'Frankenstein foods'
French environmentalists want longer gene crop ban March 16, 1999
Animal Welfare Aspects of the Use of Bovine Somatotrophin
Canada Approved Genetically Modified Canola Tolerant to an Herbicide Causing Birth Defects
UK: Ashdown Urges Special WTO Group on Genetic Foods
Greenpeace Welcomes Major Global Steps to Get Out of Genetically Modified Food
In the Land of Sushi, Lab Tomato Strikes Out
Consumer Power Rears its Head to Drive GM Food off Supermarket Shelves
GM Giant's Milk Hormone "is Cancer Risk"
UK: Fines Back up GM Labeling Rules
UK Restaurants must declare any GM food
FOCUS-UK waiters must know if foods contain GMOs
U.S. urges EU to speed up GM crop approvals
FOCUS-Euro stores link to seek non-modified foods
Fines for failing to declare GM food attacked
A Million Mutant Animals Used in GM Experiments
Brazil State Threatens To Destroy Monsanto Soy
France's Auchan Joins Drive To Weed Out GM Foods
Supermarkets Say Food Labelling ``does Not Go Far Enough"
Iceland Sales Rise 9 % After the Ban On GM Foods
Corporate Power Silences rBGH Critics, Panel Says
NZ: Quote from Professor R B Elliot
Brief Address to Wellington Forum on Genetically Modified Food

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Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 11:56:21 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-16

Outrage over Monsanto's underhand tactics in EU

By Gregory Palast, The Observer (UK), Sunday March 14, 1999

An international consumer group is calling for world trade authorities to withdraw a key endorsement of Monsanto's controversial growth hormone for cows in the wake of Observer revelations that the company had obtained access to confidential EU documents. In a letter to the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (Jecfa), London-based Consumers' International demanded the agency void its approval of the bovine growth hormone BST.

The consumer watchdog, which participates on the scientific committee, charges that Monsanto's privileged access to restricted documents 'damaged the objectivity and credibility' of the investigation of the hormone. Jecfa reports to the Codex Commission, the world's food safety arbitrator. In June this commission will vote on approving Monsanto's drug for international trade. Last week CI's director, Julian Edward, accused a US Food and Drug Administration official on the panel, Dr Nick Weber, of professional misconduct and 'breach of trust' in passing copies of sensitive papers to Monsanto.

The Observer identified Dr Weber as the source of the leak to Monsanto. Weber has not responded to phone calls to his office, but the Jecfa panel's chairman, Dr John Hermann, stated that, following the Observer story, Weber had admitted passing the confidential documents to Monsanto prior to a crucial meeting last February in Paris. Herrman defended Weber, as he did another US Food and Drug Administration official in the controversy, Dr Margaret Miller.

The Observer reported that Miller, a former Monsanto BST analyst, took part in the Jecfa review of the hormone.Herrman concedes that Miller participated in the talks and drafted the committee's report, but she excused herself from the actual vote approving the hormone as safe. Before heading Jecfa, Herrman, too, worked for the FDA.

A spokesman for the Consumer Policy Institute of New York decried 'the disturbingly close relationship between FDA and Monsanto'. The Institute's BST expert, Dr Michael Hansen, a Jecfa adviser, said there were indications from test data that milk from cows injected with the hormone may promote cancers in humans. In Canada, the Senate Agriculture Committee last week demanded that Ottawa withdraw its seal of approval for BST following the Observer' disclosure that a scientist representing Canada on the Jecfa panel had been suggested by Monsanto.

Senator Mira Spivak of Manitoba said senators were stunned to find in their own investigation that 'a registered Monsanto lobbyist was part of Canada's delegation to Codex'. The committee's report recommended conducting new studies of BST. The senator said her committee'learned that BST files were stolen at Health Canada' and that government scientists who expressed doubts about Monsanto's safety tests had been 'muzzled after they began to talk publicly about the drug review'.

The Observer also reported that Monsanto had sued several hundred US farmers for 'seed piracy' - planting seeds taken from crops originally grown from Monsanto's copyrighted genetically modified seeds.

Now a rival seed company has accused Monsanto of the same offence. Iowa-based Pioneer Hi-Bred International has just filed a suit in the US Federal Court accusing Monsanto of 'genetic misappropriation'. A Hi-Bred spokesman told The Observer that Monsanto 'buys our seeds' and hunt for rare copies of proprietary genetic codes. Monsanto denies that it has done anything illegal. Analysts say the suit by Hi-Bred, the leading US supplier of farm genetics, has major implications for Monsanto.

In India, meanwhile, Monsanto lost a key legal battle in its ongoing conflict with the subcontinent's cotton farmers when India's Supreme Court barred Monsanto from new test plantings until it completes a judicial review of human rights claims against Monsanto. Farmers fear that the GM cotton, which incorporates an insecticide within its genetic code, could lead to the evolution of insects resistant to natural insecticides.


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Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 11:56:21 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-16

Fear grows over 'Frankenstein foods'

CBC Internet news Mar 16, 1999

LONDON - There's a new type of food that people around the world are having a hard time swallowing -- genetically modified products.

Such food is becoming more and more common around the world. In Britain, so is the public outcry. There, memories of mad cow disease are still fresh on people's minds, and the issue is being described as another food crisis.

To bio-technology companies, their ability to genetically alter fruits and vegetables is the dawn of a brave new world. It provides agriculture with the means to grow cheaper, healthier foods.

Tomato plants, for instance, have been modified to produce fruit that doesn't ripen too quickly. By inserting genes from one plant into another, scientists can also improve a crop's resistance to insects or weeds.

"We believe that bio-technology and genetically modified foods is an important component and an important future," says Nigel Poole of Zeneca Food Sciences. "This is only just the first 10 metres in a marathon race."

Zeneca sell more than a half-million tins of their genetically modified tomato paste every year -- and they're not alone. Nearly 60 per cent of Britain's processed foods contain some genetically modified ingredients.

But environmental and consumer groups are trying to turn back the tide of so-called GM foods. Their message is blunt -- altering the genetic code of grains and vegetables is creating "Frankenstein foods" that threaten human health and the environment. The groups are demanding more research and a moratorium on growing modified crops.

"We've asked (British Prime Minister) Tony Blair to conduct a root-and-branch reform of the regulatory system immediately," says Julie Sheperd of Britain's consumers association, "and until that's done, not to allow new GM food products onto the market."

Environmental activists recently ripped up a field of genetically modified canola in the British countryside, saying that even growing such plants for research could lead to contamination of other farmers fields.

The refrain of worry is being picked up by retailers across the United Kingdom. A growing number of fast food outlets and major supermarkets say they don't want genetically modified ingredients in their products.

Burger King and Domino's Pizza are the latest to join the movement. And Iceland Frozen Foods is producing its own line of products using unmodified Canadian soya flour.

Iceland Foods' Bill Wadsworth says genetic modification provides a scientific shortcut to food production, but the alteration may be toxic -- now or in the future.

"What we're concerned about is the fact that ... nobody can tell us what the risk is," Wadsworth tells CBC News.

But some scientists say public fear over genetically modified foods is getting way out of hand. "People seem to be ignoring the real scientific basis of what is being done in respect of genetic modification. And I think there's very little understanding of the true issues," plant physiologist Mike Black tells CBC News. Ultimately, the battle over genetically modified ingredients will be won or lost in supermarkets, with consumer's choices on the store shelves.

The British government is about to bring in new regulations for labelling, requiring anyone who sells food, whether in a restaurant or in a supermarket, to warn customers if it contains genetically modified ingredients. That way, it would be consumers who cast the final vote on the future of GM food.


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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 06:31:58 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-17

French environmentalists want longer gene crop ban March 16, 1999

PARIS, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation : French environmental groups, spurred on by talk of a possible freeze on gene-crops in Britain, on Monday called for a longer, broader moratorium in France so wider tests could be This is a sign of encouragement which should push the French said We want a moratorium on all types of GM food for three to five years so we can do more tests. If Britain did

Greenpeace France Director Bruno Rebelle also backed a freeze on GM crops until at least 2002 and more rigorous tests. France imposed a two-year freeze on genetically engineered oilseed varieties last July after concerns the modifications could be transmitted to other crops.


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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 06:31:58 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-17

Animal Welfare Aspects of the Use of Bovine Somatotrophin

Here are the Conclusions and Recommendations of the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare on the Animal Welfare Aspects of the Use of Bovine Somatotrophin (Adopted 10 March 1999).

Full text is on website http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg24/health/sc/scah/out21_en.html

General conclusion

BST is used to increase milk yield, often in already high-producing cows. BST administration causes substantially and very significantly poorer welfare because of increased foot disorders, mastitis, reproductive disorders and other production related diseases. These are problems which would not occur if BST were not used and often results in unnecessary pain, suffering and distress.

If milk yields were achieved by other means which resulted in the health disorders and other welfare problems described above, these means would not be acceptable. The injection of BST and its repetition every 14 days also causes localised swellings which are likely to result in discomfort and hence some poor welfare.

Recommendation

BST use causes a substantial increase in levels of foot problems and mastitis and leads to injection site reactions in dairy cows. These conditions, especially the first two, are painful and debilitating, leading to significantly poorer welfare in the treated animals. Therefore from the point of view of animal welfare, including health, the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare is of the opinion that BST should not be used in dairy cows.


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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 06:31:58 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-17

March 17, 1999

Canada Approved Genetically Modified Canola Tolerant to an Herbicide Causing Birth Defects

by Joe Cummins, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Genetics
University of Western Ontario, e-mail: jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

Canada has approved genetically engineered canola patented by the multinational chemical company Rhone Poulenc for their herbicides Bromoxynl and Ioxynil. The herbicide Bromoxynil has a history of controversy in its use after it was found that it caused birth defects in rats and mice.

In the United States, the use of Bromoxynl on cotton was a source of controversy. However, in Canada (where government departments of Agriculture and Health take multimillion dollar payments from chemical companies) the herbicide was quietly approved and used extensively to control weeds in grain crops that are innately tolerant to the herbicide.

The herbicide Bromoxynl is sprayed on the Bromoxynl-resistant canola. As the herbicide is very persistent in treated soil, when farmers rotate crops, Bromoxynl residues can accumulate in grains rotated on the same land.

Residues of the teratogenic herbicide are likely to accumulate in the harvested canola oil and in the cattle and pig food from the residues recovered from pressing canola seed to recover oil. Such pressing residues have also been used as fertilizer on organic farms, a procedure that should be reviewed on the basis of transferring genetic modifications and teratogenic herbicides.

The journal Biotechnology noted that there was a very high likelihood that the herbicide tolerant gene would be transferred to unpatented canola and to at least seven wild plant species but the transfer to wild plant was a minimal threat as the resistant species could be controlled by other herbicides as they became weeds.

The impact of use of the genetically modified crop on biodiversity was given brief discussion with no data and no fundamental knowledge of biodiversity.

Another genetically modified canola, Liberty Ready canola, also employs a highly teratogenic herbicide glufosinate. Importers of canola oil or animal feed from pressed seed should be made aware of these developments and that the products are not labeled. Clearly the Canadian approval process bears the stamp of the millions of dollars from chemical companies.

The information on approval of Bromoxynil resistant canola was taken from Plant Biotechnology Canada August 19,1998


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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 06:31:58 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-17

UK: Ashdown Urges Special WTO Group on Genetic Foods

Geneva

March 11 (Reuters) - Britain's outgoing Liberal Democratic leader Paddy Ashdown said on Thursday the controversial issue of genetically-modified crops should be part of the next global round of trade liberalisation talks.

Speaking after talks at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and with trade ambassadors of the European Union and the United States, he warned tha t the issue could become a "huge problem" that could poison relations between the two powers.

"The WTO regulations were not set up to handle GMOs," he told a news conference, using the acronym for genetically-modified organisms which are rapidly emerging as a potentially explosive topic in international trade.


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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 06:31:58 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-17

From: genetics genetics@gn.apc.org Subject: GE - news 17th March

Greenpeace Welcomes Major Global Steps to Get Out of Genetically Modified Food

AMSTERDAM, March 17, 1999 - Greenpeace International today welcomed two major steps towards a genetically modified (GM) free food supply at two different ends of the world.

Monsanto, the world's most aggressive seller of genetically engineered seeds yesterday announced that it had withdrawn applications for approval of their herbicide resistant (Roundup Ready) soyabeans in Brazil. The step comes after massive protests by environmental and consumers organisations as well as scientists and lawmakers in Brazil. Brazil is the worlds second biggest exporter of soyabeans. Soyabeans are used in 60 per cent of processed supermarket food products including bread, pasta, yoghurt, chocolate and ice-cream.

At the same time the UK retailer J. Sainsbury's announced that it will not sell any genetically engineered products under it's own label. Sainsbury's also revealed that it had formed a consortium of major European retailers, including Marks & Spencer (UK), Carrefour (France), Superquinn (Ireland), Migros (Switzerland), Delhaiz (Belgium) and Effelunga (Italy), who will jointly source GM-free products.

"This is the beginning of the end of trying to forcefeed consumers unwanted and unneeded genetically manipulated food", commented Greenpeace International's campaigner Benedikt Haerlin. "We hope to see more supermarket chains and food producers join the GM-free consortium in the next few days." Haerlin added that other major food producers and retailers, such as Unilever in Germany and Austria, and 90 percent of all supermarkets in Austria and countless small producers have already declared that they are GM free. "No supermarket or food producer can claim that it was not possible to avoid GM ingredients in their products."


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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 22:19:59 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-18

Thanks to Bradford Duplisea brad@pei.sympatico.ca for posting the next two articles

In the Land of Sushi, Lab Tomato Strikes Out

By SONNI EFRON, LA Times Staff Writer
Sunday, March 14, 1999 (Full Page Feature Story)

Biotechnology: The Japanese government and companies face a major hurdle in winning public acceptance of genetically engineered foods.

TOKYO--Pity the "transgenic" tomato. It has become a marketing disaster on both sides of the Pacific, and a cautionary tale for Japanese biotechnology.

It began life in a California laboratory as a miracle product, a tomato bioengineered to be tasty but slow to spoil. It was the first gene-spliced food to win approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And in 1994, when Kirin Brewery Co., Japan's top beer maker, acquired the Japanese rights to the Flavr-Savr tomato from Calgene Inc. of Davis, Calif., it seemed like a sure-fire winner.

Kirin quickly won approval from Japan's Health and Welfare Ministry to market the tomato here, and set to work crossbreeding it with Japanese species to produce the pink color, particular taste and compact growth characteristics that consumers and farmers here prefer.

But before the tomato got near the supermarket shelves, a Japanese consumer group that opposes genetically engineered food threatened to boycott every Kirin product--including its beer--if the company dared to put its brave new product on the market.

Kirin pulled the offending vegetable. In a recent interview, company spokesmen politely avoided comment on the boycott threat, but said Kirin will not try to market its tomato--or any other genetically modified food--until and unless the Japanese public is prepared to accept it.

"Until we resolve the taste, color and growth issues, we can't sell it," explained spokesman Hirotaka Ishikawa. "In addition, we need to have the public's understanding. Right now, people feel resistance even when they hear the words 'genetic engineering.' "

But Kirin has by no means abandoned bioengineering. It is quietly continuing efforts to produce a genetically superior tomato--even though Calgene's Flavr-Savr has been a dud with U.S. shoppers. ...

Now the government is mounting a public education campaign to persuade the Japanese public that gene-spliced foods also are unobjectionable.

Powerful anti-GMO farm lobbies, along with consumer and environmental groups, are pitted against some of Japan's largest agribusinesses, which are developing such genetically modified products as rice, melons, tomatoes, strawberries and cucumbers and would like to bring them to market.

A Lack of Incentive? Government officials are worried that unless the prevailing negative attitude toward GMOs can be changed, the biotech industry will have little incentive to pursue research and development and Japan will fall even further behind in the vital technology.

"If private companies find that, like Kirin, they can develop a product and pass all the legally required safety checks but then can't sell it, we're in trouble," said Makoto Tabata, who works on promoting biotech research in the Innovative Technology Division of the agriculture ministry. "They will lose the motivation to invest."


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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 22:19:59 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-18

Thanks to Bradford Duplisea brad@pei.sympatico.ca for posting

Consumer Power Rears its Head to Drive GM Food off Supermarket Shelves

By Philip Pank, Agence France Presse English, Thu 18 Mar 1999, International News

LONDON, March 18 (AFP) - Hostility to genetically engineered food reached a highpoint across Europe Wednesday when leading supermarket chains bowed to consumer pressure and decided to chase "Frankenstein food" from their shelves.

In Britain, Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer supermarkets announced that they would remove all genetically-modified (GM) ingredients from their own-brand range.

The high street giants launched a Europe-wide consortium which also grouped the French hypermarket retailer Carrefour, Delhaize of Belgium, Migros in Switzerland, Effelunga in Italy and the Irish group Superquinn.

The group pledged to eek out non-GM sources in farmers' fields and not to mix these with known GM crops.

At present, genetically engineered produce is found in an estimated 60 percent of processed food.

The British government is due to clarify its policy on GM crops soon, amid calls for a three-year moratorium on planting GM crops here. London has recently tempered its wholehearted support for the produce.

Consumers in Britain and elsewhere have become alarmed at the potential health hazards of eating food that has been concocted using genes from other species.

Environmentalists fear that crops implanted with herbicide-resistant genes will be sprayed with powerful chemicals that will decimate surrounding plant and animal life.

They are also concerned that nature's ingenuity will create bionic bugs capable of withstanding the chemicals used on new super crops.

"Our customers have indicated to us very clearly that they do not want genetically-modified ingredients in their food and we are taking steps to offer that guarantee," said a spokeswoman for Sainsbury's, Britain's second biggest supermarket chain.

Britons are slowly waking to the benefits of eating healthy food.

The change follows a string of food scares here, including the "madcow" panic sparked after the government admitted that consumers who ate infected beef could contract a fatal brain-wasting disease, a deadly outbreak of e-coli food poisoning and a spate of salmonella in eggs.

Sainsbury's environmental manager Alison Austin said that "by establishing verified non-GM sources in the farmer's field and ensuring segregation through the supply chain we will be GM free.

"We always wanted GM and standard crops to be separated and were extremely disappointed when this did not happen with the US soya crop."

The supermarkets said that they would look towards Canada and Brazil for supplies of natural soya.

Retailers complain that the giant US producers cannot guarantee that their shipments are free of genetic engineering, because they mix beans at source.

Imports of soya beans from the United States into Europe has emerged as a political hot-potato amid a wider dispute between the two trading blocks over import policy.

Three European countries, Italy, Austria and Luxembourg, have imposed unilateral bans on US soya imports, despite European Union clearance.


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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 22:19:59 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-18

next article posted by Paul Davis devatalk@mcmail.com

GM Giant's Milk Hormone "is Cancer Risk"

By SEAN POULTER, Consumer Affairs Correspondent, UK Daily Mail 18 March 99

A HORMONE designed by "Frankenstein Food" giant Monsanto to make cows produce more milk could put the health of the animals and humans at risk. A damning report compiled by scientists for the European Commission reveals that the genectically-engineered drug BST is deeply flawed. The chemical, which is injected into the animal, is said to increase yields by 10-15 per cent, so increasing profits for farmers.

But research suggests the milk may contain higher levels of a hormone which has been linked to increased incidence of certain cancers. The damning report is set to start an international trade war between Europe and the United States, where the drug is already in use. The U.S. government is demanding that a two-year moratorium on the use of BST in Europe must be lifted by the end of the year - opening up a lucrative new market for Monsanto. However the evidence of the study can only lead European governments, including Britain, to oppose any attempt to legalise BST.

The push by Monsanto and the Clinton administration to bully Britain and the rest of Europe to take BST has echoes of the controversy involving genetically-modified crops. Monsanto effectively forced Europe to take its Roundup Ready GM soya by mixing it with natural crops shipped across the Atlantic. As many as 30 per cent of American cows are injected with BST and U.S. campaigners complain that most of the milk stream is adulterated because milk from different dairies is mixed before it reaches consumers.

The EU investigation suggests the extra milk production promised by BST treatment puts enormous strain on animals which are already struggling to cope with creating unnatural amounts of milk. Specialist breeding techniques already mean cows are 20 per cent bigger than 20 years ago, while the yield has soared by 50 per cent.

Cows have become no more than an udder and stomach on thin legs-producing 80 pints of milk a day, eight times more than any calf can drink. Professor Donald Broom, who carried out the EU study says the animals cannot tolerate the even greater strain produced by BST, with particular problems of udder infections, or mastitis.

"There's too much mastitis, leg disorders, reproductive disorders and injection site problems - and this is not a medicine, this is a substance that doesn't have to be used, and we think it shouldn't be used," he said. His views will carry enormous weight for he is world renowned in the field. He is both Professor of Animal Welfare at Cambridge University and Chairman of the European Union's Scientific Veterinary Committee.

His committee has concluded that claims by Monsanto that it is has carried out research proving the safety of BST - Bovine Somatotropin - are deeply flawed. Details were revealed on Channel 4 News last night, which has also seen parallel research on the potential impact on human health.

This separate study will warn of a small but significant increase in the risk of cancer from BST milk. It suggests that a hormone - IGF-1 - is increased in milk by the use of BST This same hormone has been linked to some cancers. Monsanto's research found IGF-l was not increased by BST, but Professor Brown argues: "They got it wrong."


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 22:19:59 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-18

next article posted by Paul Davis devatalk@mcmail.com

UK: Fines Back up GM Labeling Rules

From the BBC March 18, 1999

Restaurants will be fined if they do not label GM food

The UK Government is claiming to lead the way in Europe by bringing in tough new regulations to force all food-sellers to tell customers if items contain genetically-modified ingredients.

Local authorities are being given powers to enforce a European Union directive requiring labelling of all products containing GM soya or maize.

These will be backed up by 5,000 fines for those who fail to provide full information to consumers.

In a written parliamentary answer, Food Safety Minister Jeff Rooker said: "The government is determined that consumers should be able to choose whether or not to eat genetically-modified foods.


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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 22:19:59 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-18

UK Restaurants must declare any GM food

The Daily Telegraph London, March 18, 1999

RESTAURANTS and cafes will be forced to tell their customers about any genetically modified ingredients contained in their food under measures to be announced by the Government today.

It is expected that declarations will have to be made on menus. Bakers and delicatessens will also have to comply with the new labelling controls, which will exceed current European Union requirements.

At present EU labelling regulations lay down that all foods sold in shops and supermarkets must be clearly marked if they contain more than two per cent of GM ingredients.

The move follows an announcement this week that Marks & Spencer is to ban all genetically modified food from its shelves.

Sainsbury's said yesterday that it is to ban genetically modified ingredients from its own-brand foods and that it has joined a consortium to ensure supplies of non-GM ingredients in future.


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Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 12:45:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-21

FOCUS-UK waiters must know if foods contain GMOs

March 19, 1999, LONDON, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation

British waiters will have to be able to tell diners whether their food contains genetically modified soya or maize, under new rules announced on Thursday by food safety minister Jeff Rooker.

And if they cannot, their employers in any of some 125,000 catering establishments of various types, from hot-dog stands to the most expensive restaurant in Britain, face fines of up to 5,000 pounds, Rooker said.

The same fine is imposed on food shops if they fail to label according to the EU rules. Rooker told a news conference at the If a customer wants to ask if any ingredients have been genetically modified he said.


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Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 12:45:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-21

U.S. urges EU to speed up GM crop approvals

BRUSSELS, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation, March 19, 1999

The European Union must act swiftly to improve its approval system for genetically modified crops which is losing U.S. firms millions of dollars, Richard Rominger, Deputy U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, said on Thursday. For the U.S., in the short term, the EU's lengthy, complex process costs us money -- about $200 million last year in lost exports to Spain, Portugal Rominger told a Brussels conference on GMOs.


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Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 12:45:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-21

FOCUS-Euro stores link to seek non-modified foods

By Richard Meares

LONDON, March 17 (Reuters) - Major European supermarkets, fighting U.S. refusal to say if foods are genetically modified, set up a consortium on Wednesday to ensure no such ingredients make it into their own-label products.

Britain's J.Sainsbury Plc said it had formed the organisation with six other European supermarket groups to weed genetically modified (GM) foods out of any stage of production. By establishing verified non-GM sources in the farmers' field and ensuring segregation through the supply chain, we will be GM-free," it said in a statement.

"This move will enable Sainsbury's to eliminate all GM ingredients from its own-label products in response to customer demand for GM-free foods." The environmentalist group Greenpeace hoped other retailers would follow suit, saying:. "This is the beginning of the end of trying to force-feed consumers unwanted and unneeded genetically manipulated food."

The consortium includes Britain's Marks & Spencer, Carrefour of France, Delhaize of Belgium, Italy's Effelunga, Swiss Migros and Superquinn of Ireland.


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Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 12:45:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-21

Fines for failing to declare GM food attacked

By David Brown, Agriculture Editor, Daily Telegraph 19.3.99 UK

CAFES and restaurants will be fined up to 5,000 if they fail to tell customers that they are serving genetically modified food, the Government announced yesterday. The measures - the first of their kind in the European Union - will come into force today.

Under the Food Labelling (Amendment) Regulations 1999, trading standards officers will have the power to check bakers, delicatessens and other establishments, including hot dog stands, to make sure they declare genetically modified ingredients.

But the move, forecast in The Telegraph yesterday, was immediately denounced as "a con" by environmental groups who said it did not go far enough to guarantee proper choice for consumers. Restaurateurs said it would be too difficult to enforce.

The powers, announced by Jeff Rooker, the food safety minister, cover only foods containing genetically modified soya and maize. They do not cover derivatives of GM soya and maize including oils which are used in a wide range of food processes including chocolate. This is because, Mr Rooker explained, they are not covered by EU regulations.


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Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 12:45:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-21

posted by Paul Davis devatalk@mcmail.com

A Million Mutant Animals Used in GM Experiments

By SEAN POULTER, Consumer Affairs Correspondent, UK Daily Mail 16 March 99

MORE than one million animals have been genetic modified for use in British laboratory experiments in the past four years.

The bulk of the research involved mice and rats and was carried out in the hope of medical breakthroughs. Scientists however have also started creating genetically modified animals which could be farmed for food. Pigs, cattle, sheep, chicken and fish are being altered so they grow faster, are bigger and produce more young.

While advocates of the technology point to the potential benefits in the field of medicine, the possibility of clones and other GM animals being used in farming can only fuel the already intense debate over genetically modified foods. The most recent statistics show 353,000 GM animals were used in experiments in 1997, a 17 per cent increase on the 303,000 in 1996 and more than 60 per cent up on the 215,308 1995.


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Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 12:45:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-21

Brazil State Threatens To Destroy Monsanto Soy

By Phil Stewart, Thursday March 18, 6:30 pm Eastern Time

SAO PAULO, March 18 (Reuters) - Brazil's major soybean producing state of Rio Grande do Sul is threatening to destroy genetically-modified soybeans grown on a test plot by the local unit of U.S. biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. (NYSE:MTC - news). The soybean area will be destroyed by the end of the month if they the state's Agriculture Secretary Jose Hermeto Hoffamann told Reuters.

Rio Grande do Sul, which aims to sell soybeans to European consumers opposed to transgenics, accused the multinational of breaking a new, March 3 state law by failing to provide an environmental risk analysis for the 435-hectare test plot.


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Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 12:45:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-21

France's Auchan Joins Drive To Weed Out GM Foods

PARIS (Reuters) - French retailers say they have led the way in the drive among European supermarkets to root out genetically modified foods from among their own-brand products.

Spurred on by a fresh wave of consumer concern, family-owned Auchan Friday added its name to a list of European retailers who are outlawing genetic engineering in their own-brand food.

Both Auchan and rival Carrefour say a policy of eradicating GM ingredients from their own products, as heralded by Britain's J. Sainsbury Plc this week, has been in place in their supply chains for over a year.


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Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 12:45:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-21

Supermarkets Say Food Labelling "does Not Go Far Enough"

PA News 19.03.99 03:49

Major supermarket chains have vowed to inform consumers about any GM ingredients in their products after declaring that new Government labelling laws on genetically modified foods do not go far enough.

The move came after the Government announced yesterday it was extending existing European Union rules on GM labelling to cover the catering trade.

Diners eating out at restaurants, cafes and even burger bars will be told if the food they are eating contains GM ingredients. The Government said new powers enforcing EU regulations on the labelling of GM food will include fines of up to 5,000 for anyone breaching the rules and will be extended to cover the catering industry.

After the announcement the UK's major food retailers - including the supermarket chains M&S, Sainsbury's, Safeway, Tesco, Asda, Somerfield, Waitrose and Morrison's - said they would now adopt a policy of labelling all GM derivatives. The British Retail Consortium, which represents 90% of UK retailers, issued a statement on behalf of its members stating that the decision had been made because the Government legislation did not go far enough to help consumers.

The BRC said retailers had introduced GM labelling long before yesterday's announcement and the supermarkets had been looking into the possibility of extending this to GM derivatives for some time. The major supermarkets said they will label GM soya and maize derivatives in all their own-brand foods although it is not clear how long this process will take.


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Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 12:45:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-21

Iceland Sales Rise 9 % After the Ban On GM Foods

By Ben Laurance Sunday March 21, 1999, UK Observer, 21 March 99

Food retailer Iceland is expected this week to unveil sales figures showing that it is reaping big sales increases in the wake of its stand against genetically modified foods.

Iceland last year launched a drive to ensure that nothing it sold contained GM ingredients. Other, larger, food retailing groups have subsequently said they will try to phase out GM ingredients from their merchandise.

Iceland is expected this week to publish figures showing that its like-for-like sales - that is sales excluding the effect of opening new stores - have been around 9 per cent higher in the first 10 weeks of 1999 than they were a year earlier.

The [other] major supermarket chains have shown far more modest sales increases, according to recent information. Sainsbury's like-for-like sales were up 1.5 per cent over Christmas; Tesco's increase was 3.1 per cent and Safeway's 3 per cent.


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Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 15:04:31 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-28

Corporate Power Silences rBGH Critics, Panel Says

The Capital Times Washington March 25, 1999
© Copyright (c) Madison Newspapers, Inc. 1999), _____via IntellX_____

Last week, the European Union stated that milk from rBGH-treated cows could increase the risk of breast and prostate cancer in humans.

Canada, Japan and Australia have banned the genetically engineered dairy hormone, citing concerns about its effects on animals and humans.

Yet farmers in the United States are injecting rBGH into dairy cows from coast to coast.

"What is it they know in Canada, Europe, Australia and Japan that we don't?" journalist Steve Wilson asked a University of Wisconsin audience Wednesday.

Plenty, according to Wilson, who maintains that a combination of forces is keeping the U.S. press silent on a critical food safety issue.

Wilson and Jane Akre, two veteran investigative television reporters, discussed the rBGH controversy during this week's UW- Madison Democracy Teach-In. They were joined by John Stauber of Madison-based PR Watch.

Wilson and Akre were fired by Fox News in Tampa, Fla., after producing a four-part series about the potential risks of rBGH milk. The television station maintains that the husband-wife team were dismissed for being "difficult to work with." But Wilson and Akre say the reason was their story, which was critical of the hormone and drew the ire of its manufacturer, biotech giant [ Monsanto Co. ]

"In February of 1997, right before the story was set to run, the letters (from Monsanto) started coming, saying the story was all wrong and predicting dire consequences if we ran it," Akre said.

Several months later, she said, the story was shelved and she and Wilson were out of work.

Stauber, who studies the influence of corporations and public relations professionals, said such situations are all too typical. The reasons, he said, have much to do with three major forces in America:

*The media. Corporate ownership of major news outlets, concern about angry advertisers and falling standards are causing many journalists to turn away from investigative reporting and toward easier, more simplistic work, he said. When reporters like Wilson and Akre take the initiative, he said, they are often thwarted by their superiors. That silence allows corporations to "spin" their products unchallenged.

"The fact the U.S. media haven't paid attention to rBGH has allowed the controversy to drop off the front page," he said.

*Corporations. With savvy public relations campaigns and deep pockets, corporations like Monsanto have become adept at creating a positive image of products like rBGH even as they silence critics, Stauber said.

Such companies also tend to have friends in high places, he contended. Public opinion.

More than any other population, Americans believe deeply in the benefits of scientific progress, Stauber said, a belief that leads many to view critics with suspicion.

"There's almost a patriotic lock step that has developed to the idea that technology is going to be beneficial," he said.

But rBGH could still receive the attention they feel it deserves, the panelists agreed. In December, a U.S. consumer group called on the FDA to pull bovine growth hormone off the market, charging the agency overlooked key evidence about the drug's safety. (The agency had 180 days to conduct the investigation and either reject the claim or pull the drug.)

Continued opposition in Canada and Europe, backed by research into the hormone that has been difficult to obtain here, is beginning to gain attention in the United States.

And Wilson and Akre, who are suing Fox for allegedly firing them under pressure from Monsanto, are traveling around the United States to raise public awareness of the hormone's potential downside.

More attention can only work to the benefit of American consumers, Stauber said.

"I think Americans are extremely interested," he said.


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Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 15:04:31 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-28

Posted by Dr Robt Mann, science chairman, Physicians & Scientists For Responsible Genetics, New Zealand robt_m@talk.co.nz

NZ: Quote from Professor R B Elliot

Here is a quote from Professor R B Elliot , one of New Zealand's most accomplished medical researchers.

Re: GE foods

I have decided on my personal stance. I do NOT want to eat such foods -- I see no health or economic advantage in doing so, and a whole raft of putative health and environmental disadvantages.

Any 'advantage' in GE foods as far as I can see is to one or more of the grower of the crop, the GE source company, the Roundup manufacturer etc.

I cannot imagine for a moment that GE food will even be cheaper for me -- or anyone. If Burger King can guarantee that their product contains no GE components -- then I will eat their stuff rather than McDonalds etc.

I have discussed this with my staff -- who agree that the risk /benefit ratio is infinitely high as however small the personal risk, there is no personal benefit.


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Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 15:04:31 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-28

Brief Address to Wellington Forum on Genetically Modified Food

by Peter R Wills, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Physics,
University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, 25 March 1999

Organisms are dynamic.

In fact everything that happens in biology is based on endless orderly change, especially the flow of matter.

The natural patterns and regularities that we observe in biology depend on the maintenance of processes of change.

This applies from the microscopic level of the cell - a teeming zoo of molecular motion - all the way up to the biosphere - with its rich and variegated spatially-differentiated ecologies.

How all of this works cannot be understood solely in terms of material structure, whether we are talking about the proteins and DNA molecules in a cell, or the individual organisms existing in an ecosystem.

The effects of a gene cannot be assessed by looking at the static relationship between its sequence, the letters of the DNA message it represents, and the characteristics of the organism to which it is related.

The meaning of a gene is determined by the context in which it is expressed. It also contributes to that context.

So, when we swap a gene from one organism to another, we cannot know in advance what all the effects will be.

We cannot know, not even in principle.

That is very important because ecological relationships and evolutionary change rely on what is unusual, the innovation which arises as a result of mutation or the establishment of new interactions.

The way this works is that events propagate through biological systems.

The variation created by genetic mutation and recombination is the most elementary and fundamental way in which things propagate in biological systems.

Three and a half billion years of evolution have given rise to only a very few means of genetic information transfer and propagation.

These limitations have produced what we now call the tree of life.

The maintenance of boundaries between constellations of particular genes in particular organisms is what keeps species and their interactions in the relationships that constitute dynamic eco-systems.

Over the last few 10,000 years, intentional human actions, selective breeding programs of ever- increasing sophistication, have coerced desired changes from the game of roulette that reproduction plays with genes.

But the basic rules of the game have not, and could not by such means, be altered.

In the last quarter century, as a result of what we have learnt in molecular biology, we have started to break all of these rules.

Now we make genetic transfers at will.

It is now routine to effect changes which could never be coerced out of the billion-year-old processes which govern ecological interactions and evolutionary change.

The type, speed and scale of genetic change now being undertaken will affect the dynamics of biological systems, ecology and evolution, at their very basis.

Changes that cannot be assessed in advance will progressively propagate through the biosphere.

The pattern of those changes cannot be expected to fit in with what we already know.

The changes we are making will propagate with their own novel dynamics and the outcomes will be far- reaching.

The only thing we can know with certainty is that we do not know, and cannot in principle know, what the character of the ultimate outcome will be, except that it will be different from anything that we are familiar with.

Using an analogy to stereotypical gender relationships, an analogy that I think is fully justified here :

Mankind will be left trying to beat Nature at her own game, playing according to rules that have been imposed with the express aim of exercising unprecedented power over her. She will wait, and when she speaks back in the new language which has been created for her, Mankind will have already lost what would have been of the greatest value.

In fact everything that happens in biology is based on endless orderly change, especially the flow of matter.

The natural patterns and regularities that we observe in biology depend on the maintenance of processes of change.

This applies from the microscopic level of the cell - a teeming zoo of molecular motion - all the way up to the biosphere - with its rich and variegated spatially-differentiated ecologies.

How all of this works cannot be understood solely in terms of material structure, whether we are talking about the proteins and DNA molecules in a cell, or the individual organisms existing in an ecosystem.

The effects of a gene cannot be assessed by looking at the static relationship between its sequence, the letters of the DNA message it represents, and the characteristics of the organism to which it is related.

The meaning of a gene is determined by the context in which it is expressed. It also contributes to that context.

So, when we swap a gene from one organism to another, we cannot know in advance what all the effects will be.

We cannot know, not even in principle.

That is very important because ecological relationships and evolutionary change rely on what is unusual, the innovation which arises as a result of mutation or the establishment of new interactions.

The way this works is that events propagate through biological systems.

The variation created by genetic mutation and recombination is the most elementary and fundamental way in which things propagate in biological systems.

Three and a half billion years of evolution have given rise to only a very few means of genetic information transfer and propagation.

These limitations have produced what we now call the tree of life.

The maintenance of boundaries between constellations of particular genes in particular organisms is what keeps species and their interactions in the relationships that constitute dynamic eco-systems.

Over the last few 10,000 years, intentional human actions, selective breeding programs of ever- increasing sophistication, have coerced desired changes from the game of roulette that reproduction plays with genes.

But the basic rules of the game have not, and could not by such means, be altered.

In the last quarter decade, as a result of what we have learnt in molecular biology, we have started to break all of these rules.

Now we make genetic transfers at will.

It is now routine to effect changes which could never be coerced out of the billion-year-old processes which govern ecological interactions and evolutionary change.

The type, speed and scale of genetic change now being undertaken will affect the dynamics of biological systems, ecology and evolution, at their very basis.

Changes that cannot be assessed in advance will progressively propagate through the biosphere.

The pattern of those changes cannot be expected to fit in with what we already know.

The changes we are making will propagate with their own novel dynamics and the outcomes will be far- reaching.

The only thing we can know with certainty is that we do not know, and cannot in principle know, what the character of the ultimate outcome will be, except that it will be different from anything that we are familiar with.

Using an analogy to stereotypical gender relationships, an analogy that I think is fully justified here :

Mankind will be left trying to beat Nature at her own game, playing according to rules that have been imposed with the express aim of exercising unprecedented power over her. She will wait, and when she speaks back in the new language which has been created for her, Mankind will have already lost what would have been of the greatest value.


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

Our website, http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html contains more information on genetic engineering as well as previous genetic engineering news items Subscription fee to genetic engineering news is $35 for 12 months See website for details.