Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

1 April 99

Table of Contents

One Potato, New Potato
Lawmakers Urge EPA to Reconsider Plant Pesticide Rules
Dialog between Jimmy Seah and Mead Johnson
More Internet website addresses
Iceland Founder Acts Ahead of the Pack
Leading The Charge Against Monsanto
Prince Charles To Tony Blair: Get Lost
Kenya; Lobby Cautions Against Genetically -modified Foods
Portugal Feed Industry Says GM Safety Paramount
UK: Co-op pulls out of GM trials
Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) drops case against anti-GM women
U.S. Awareness Slowly Growing of EU Biotech Crop Concerns
TRAITOR TECHNOLOGY: "Damaged Goods" from the Gene Giants

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Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 21:15:24 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-29

Thanks to Jim McNulty for posting the following article

One Potato, New Potato

Newsday, Mon, 29 Mar 1999, © Copyright Newsday Inc., 1999, _____via IntellX_____

Farmers and biotech companies are battling for control

THE FRESHLY dug potato was lumpy, bumpy, misshapen and oblong. Most of the other potatoes in the row were just as peculiar.

Jamesport potato farmer John Kujawski, 57, who tends about 600 acres of land with his brother Ray, had planted a few of the first bioengineered potatoes on Long Island. They were duds, the Kujawskis and other East End potato farmers agreed.

"I couldn't see anything about them that was good," John Kujawski said simply.

From Maine to California, many small farmers are distrustful of the new "magical" seeds aimed at yielding crops with built-in pesticides and - eventually - with more nutrients than the traditional type. They are skeptical, too, of the multinational companies providing the patented seeds, and fear there is no room for small farmers in the bioengineered future.

"Genetic engineering will never, ever serve the needs of the small farmer," said Margaret Mellon, a lawyer and molecular biologist who directs the agriculture and biotechnology program for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Patents of bioengineered seeds are at the core of a dispute over control that has pitted small farmers against self-described "life sciences" companies such as DuPont and Monsanto that are using technology to produce new, unique forms of food. Patents for modified plants, first allowed in 1980, now rank second only to software patents in the number of legal challenges filed - with most of the rise in just the last four years, according to patent attorneys.

Monsanto, which has more than 100 patents for soybeans and corn alone, has sued hundreds of farmers and others for reusing or reselling the company's seeds. Other companies have sued as well, and in what could become a landmark case, one Iowa farm-supply dealership has sought to throw out such a suit on the grounds that plants shouldn't be patented. A district court judge made the unusual move of fast-tracking the case directly to a federal appeals court.

"This case is critical to the biotechnology industry," said Michael K. Kirk, a patent lawyer and executive director of a lawyers' group that filed a friend-of-the-court brief.

Without patents, the companies could not control the supply of bioengineered seeds. But some farmers, in turn, say they can't afford to buy patented seed each year, and many depend on reusing some seeds.

To obtain Monsanto's Roundup Ready soy beans, for example, which resist the company's popular weed killer Roundup, farmers must agree to plant the seeds only once - instead of saving seeds from their own crops, as virtually all soybean farming was previously done. In the Midwest, [ Monsanto ] , a $7.5-billion company with 22,000 employees worldwide, has even taken measures such as broadcasting on local radio stations the names of farmers suspected of reusing seeds. Some growers have paid hefty settlements to Monsanto.

Monsanto even acquired one biotech company to get what has been dubbed "terminator technology," which renders second-generation plants from saved patented seed sterile and unproductive.

Percy Schmeiser, a Canadian farmer, has been sued by Monsanto for allegedly planting patented seeds for the plant that produces canola oil. Schmeiser says he is innocent - that the wind and the bees cross-pollinated genetically engineered plants with those in his field.

The companies say they have to be tough. And farmers who play by the rules want them to be, said Karen Marshall, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis-based Monsanto. She said money recouped from lawsuit settlements goes into a scholarship program for children of farmers, and that only 20 to 30 percent of farmers save seed. "The vast majority of growers are just fine following the rules," she said, adding that for any farmer unhappy with the terms, "You could choose another seed."

But some farmers say the world of agriculture Monsanto and other large companies are creating isn't that simple. "They are buying up all of the seed companies, and the choices we get are choices that have been altered genetically and owned by that company," said Roger Allison, executive director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. "It won't be in the so-far future that farmers will be tenant farmers for the chemical companies, at best."

Both sides are closely watching developments in the Iowa court case, which could put billions of dollars of investment by companies at risk. The case, challenging the granting of patents on modifications of plants such as corn and cotton, will be taken up by the federal appeals court in Washington, with oral arguments perhaps beginning this summer.

The case arose from [ Pioneer Hi-Bred International ] 's suit against Marvin Redinius of Belmond, Iowa, president of a farm-supply dealership. Redinius bought $54,000 worth of Pioneer's pest-resistant corn seed from a middleman and sold them without permission from Pioneer, which has since been bought by DuPont. Redinius sought to have the case thrown out on grounds that Congress didn't intend to open such a wide door for plant patents.

With the proliferation of bioengineered crops, farmers also fear that cross-pollination with traditional seed will lead to more homogeneous and less diverse crops - putting them in more danger of being wiped out by a new strain of disease or pest.

Buying the bioengineered seeds - at premium prices - doesn't guarantee they will yield a good crop. Because the technology is in its infancy, the seeds sometimes don't meet expectations for yield or quality.

As for those first bioengineered Long Island potatoes - the company promised savings through reduced spraying, but, said Kujawski, "you still had to spray the potatoes for aphids and blight." The bioengineering "didn't take care of anything but the potato beetle."


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Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 21:15:24 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-29

Here is an article (posted by Jim McNulty) showing how industry is pressuring to allow Biotech foods on the market

Lawmakers Urge EPA to Reconsider Plant Pesticide Rules

By Julie Vorman, 25.03.99

WASHINGTON, March 24 (Reuters) - Farm state lawmakers from both parties on Wednesday attacked the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to start regulating genetically modified plant pesticides, saying the rules could stifle the biotechnology industry.

Grower groups and 11 scientific organisations contend the EPA has no business making rules for bioengineered crops with built-in resistance to certain pests because the plants are no different than those bred by conventional methods.


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Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 21:15:24 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-29

Here is some correspondence, which is a great example how we can pressure industry:

Dialog between Jimmy Seah and Mead Johnson

From: Jimmy Seah seaheb@pd.jaring.my, Date: 18 March 1999 01:01

Dear Sandy Willett (from Mead Johnson),

Our daughter is now almost 4 years old. She has always been on ProSobee. We also know parents whose children have also grown up on ProSobee.

Lately we are concern over genetically manipulated produces.

Since the label on ProSobee does not categorically state so, we will like to know from you whether your products do or do not contain any genetically manipulated produces ( such as corn, soya beans etc ).

Is ProSobee made with anything at all that is grown from product made by Monsanto or such companies?

We will like to know if ProSobee is made with anything other then naturally grown produce.

Thank you and we await your reply

ProSobee family

ps: we in Malaysia, the ProSobee, comes is a all blue can, somewhat different from the one shown in this web site.

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

Response from MeadJohnson

Thanks for your Internet note requesting information regarding the soybeans used to make the soy protein in ProSobee. I appreciate having an opportunity to respond.

Yes, genetically engineered soybeans are used to produce the soy protein isolate in ProSobee. The Food and Drug Administration in the United States(FDA) evaluated extensive data pertaining to the modified soybeans and concluded that they are the same as other soybeans in nutrition, composition, allergic potential, and their ability to be processed into other ingredients such as oils, used in the manufacture of infant formula, and other foods. The FDA, which requires genetically modified foods meet the same safety standards required for all foods, has agreed to their unrestricted use. Several professional organizations concerned about the quality of food products(including the Institute of Food Technologists) support the FDA's conclusions.

Mead Johnson is a leading global infant formula manufacturer, and we arecommitted to providing safe, high-quality nutritional formulas for babies and adults. Our own high standards, combined with those of other global regulatory agencies (which all formulas must meet), should assure that all our products will remain safe and nutritious.

Sincerely,

Sandy Willett
Mead Johnson Nutritionals, MJMedAff@usnotes.bms.com
Tel: 812/429-6399 (office hours 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Central Time) Fax: 812/429-7189 http://www.meadjohnson.com

Dear Sandy,

I am tremendously upset. I would have answer your e-mail earlier if not for the fact that I am busy looking for a alternative to replace ProSobee for our daughter.

For the past week I have cursed the name of MeadJohnson so many times, I thought I have gone evil or mad.

Why was it not clearly stated on the pack?!!!

Why do you assume that as long as it's FDA approved, than consumers will not mind taking it? Based on their track records and of the things that they have approved over the years, we have known better now than just to take the words of the FDA as the gospel. We will now decide for ourselves what we should or should not eat. And genetically engineered food is what I will not eat and will not allow my children to eat.

We all know very well that the likes of Monsanto's are motivated by nothing else other than money. With money and influence, they will be able to get anything approved.

What is more shameful, is for companies like yours, to jump onto the bangwagon. For you to introduce genetically engineered material into baby food without any form of notice is deceitful. MeadJohnson, is now no different from the rest: Motivate by greed. Your corporate philosophy of making wholesome and healthy products for the family is nothing more than an advertising tagline. We have now ceased to believe in you and your products. What is legal is not neccessary morally correct.

Our family feel cheated by your conduct. We are angry and upset that for years we have being giving to our daughter things that we are always trying to avoid. We will hold MeadJohnson responsible if anything at all should happen to our daughter in times to come.

We demand that:

  1. MeadJohnson immediately stop producing products that contain genetically engineered material.

  2. MeadJohnson make immediately public announcement on their products that contain genetically engineered materials.

  3. MeadJohnson labels all products that are currently on the market that contain genetically engineered.
Our actions:

  1. We have stop the use of ProSobee and all products made by MeadJohnson. As of this point we are no long a customer of MeadJohnson.

  2. We will inform all our friends who are giving their children ProSobee and advise them to do likewise.

  3. We will immediately e-mail a copy of this reply to Greenpeace International and pray to God that they will organise a gobal boycott of MeadJohnson's product until your remove all genetically engineered materials from your products.

  4. We will lobby to our government agencies and non-government organisations for a ban of your products which contain genetically engineered materails as well as a boycott of your products.

Finally, MeadJohnson, your are very irresponsible to have marketed ProSobee which contained genetically engineered material without proper labels and notice. You have caused our family severe pain.

Jimmy Seah


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Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 13:53:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN4-1

More Internet website addresses

Here is the front page of a website that you might find interesting

URL is http://www.infoshop.org/biotechwatch.html

News about biotechnology, genetically-engineered foods (GE) and activist campaigns to control this technology.


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Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 13:53:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN4-1

Iceland Founder Acts Ahead of the Pack

Financial Times (London) March 27, 1999

Malcolm Walker, founder of frozen food retailer Iceland, announced the removal of genetically modified ingredients from the group's own label products long before the current furore persuaded J Sainsbury and Marks and Spencer to follow suit. This week he reported a bounce back in annual profits from L43.5m to L55.1m. Page 20


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Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 13:53:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN4-1

Leading The Charge Against Monsanto

Dalton Camp is a political commentator. His columns appear Sundays and Wednesdays in The Star.
The Toronto Star March 28, 1999

I wrote last week of India's farmers leading the last cavalry charge against the big guns of Monsanto. Just about everyone is at war with Monsanto over its newest technological achievements involving genetically -modified crops and plants. Those few who are on Monsanto's side include the United States and world powers such as Panama, Peru, and Canada.

In February, members of the European Parliament voted to restrict further importation of certain GM products until sufficient study had been done with respect to possible dangers to human health and the environment. Our own government, apparently without a mind of its own, has followed the American lead which is to leave it to the free market to decide. The exception to this was the bovine growth hormone BST, a Monsanto product that boosts milk production in cows.

The federal health department, after prolonged and bitter internal debate, followed Europe's decision and banned BST, on the grounds of its effect on the cows.

It is possible to be supportive of genetically -modified seeds and yet support the need for further research. Against the benefit of greater crop yields are the possible, considerable dangers. The Europeans are cautious, the Americans are not (it is largely their technology and to their profit); Canada supports the Americans.

Monsanto, meanwhile, is on the warpath. It is resisting any attempt by governments to require food containing GM products to be labelled as such, or milk products from cows fed with bovine growth hormone being so labelled. But labelling is only part of the problem: Last February, European health-food importers were obliged to destory 87,000 packages of tortilla chips, imported from the U.S.A., found to contain traces of genetically - modified corn. The tainted corn was likely cross-pollinated from GM maize grown in a neighbouring field.

Monsanto is also militantly opposing those it suspects of hijacking its patents. The company is presently suing a Saskatchewan farmer for illegally growing Monsanto GM granola which a hired detective agency found among his crops. The farmer claims the seeds blew in from a nearby dump (where seed sacks are cast away) and took root in his fields. He has spent thousands thus far in legal fees; his case is due in court this autumn.

An effort by 170 nations to reach an accord regulating the commerce in genetically -engineered products foundered at this month's meeting in Colombia. The United States, along with a host of lobbying corporations, and of course Canada, were among those seeking to undermine the initiative. They succeeded.

The Colombia protocol was intended to follow the convention on Biological Diversity, ratified by 174 nations, including Canada, at the 1992 Earth Summit meetings in Rio de Janeiro. The Americans, however, have not yet concurred. Although President Clinton signed the treaty in 1993, the Senate has delayed giving consent.

English Nature, the British government's statutory adviser on these matters, has written Prime Minister Tony Blair to offer its measured on the likely effect of herbicide tolerant crops is based on good scientific evidence, which demonstates that declines in wild plants, insects, and birds on agricultural land is partly due to the use of more efficient herbicides. More research has recently been commissioned ... but will not report until Our advice to government has been that herbicide tolerant crops and insect- resistant crops, not all GM crops, should not be released commercially until this research has been completed... It is important that English Nature be in a position to reassure the public that the technology is environmentally safe. .. We cannot assure the public

The British consumer has, at least, a friend in the court of Tony Blair. Canadians have - you won't like this - only the Canadian Senate, whose Agriculture Committee alone took on Monsanto and its bovine growth hormone, along with senior health department officials, and the minister, Allan Rock. The government, apparently, is in mortal fear of being sued through chapter 11 of the NAFTA - every multinational corporation's best friend - and of losing face in the WTO.

Monsanto, you may recall, are the wonderful folk who brought the world Agent Orange, a defoliant as deadly to people as to weeds, a leading manufacturer of PCBs which cause cancer, and who sued farmers daring to

It was the Senate of Canada that gave health department researchers the opportunity to testify to their unwillingness to approve BST and to report Monsanto's friendly offer of $1 million to $2 million to Drs. Haydon and Drennan, made by a Monsanto representative and which Drennan has said he considered as a bribe. (Monsanto has denied it.)

The Minister and senior officials sought to intimidate the witnesses and censor their testimony, and the government has denied the Senate committee the power to subpoena department records.

This is a Liberal government?


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Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 13:53:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN4-1

Los Angeles Times March 28, 1999 Opinion Desk

Prince Charles To Tony Blair: Get Lost

By Alexander Cockburn, Alexander Cockburn writes for the Nation and other publications

The Heir Apparent Adamantly Campaigns Against Genetically Engineered Crops.

Even in the darkest days of Princess Di mania, when his name was mud among the masses, I had high hopes for Prince Charles as a radical thorn in the side of business-as-usual. He's always been conspicuous for sensible environmental positions athwart conventional opinion--on the Amazon rainforest, land use and organic agriculture.

Now he's justifying my expectations, launching princely broadsides against some of capital's mightiest corporate powers, specifically Monsanto and the genetic -industrial complex.

Last month, Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair ordered the prince to shut down his royal Web site (www.princeofwales.gov.uk), which features vigorous denunciations by the heir apparent of GM-- genetically modified crops. (In the U.S., it's GE-- genetically engineered crops.) The prince refused point blank the prime minister's command.

Genetic material, the prince thunders in one posting, "does not stay where it is put. Pollen is spread by the wind and by insects. GM crops can contaminate conventional and organic crops growing nearby." Such crops eventually mean "sterile fields offering little or no food or shelter to wild life."

The prince adds, "I wonder about the claims that some GM crops are essential to feed the world's growing populations. . . . How will the companies who own this technology make a sufficient profit from selling their products to the world's poorest people? Wouldn't it be better to concentrate instead on the sustainable techniques which can double or treble the yields from traditional farming systems?"

It may seem ironic that the British heir apparent should be adopting a principled, enlightened position in marked contrast to Blair and the social democrats. But their roles are in character. Blair's tradition of social democracy has a frenzied enthusiasm for supposed technological progress. It was Harold Wilson, Labor Party leader in the '60s, who used to hymn "the white heat of technology." The tradition of rambling and rural hiking that used to mark British radicals has long since gone.

Far dearer to Blair's heart are big corporations--most notably Monsanto--that are pushing patents for genetically modified crops into Europe. Blair ordered the prince to shut down his Web site, calling it political meddling. GM is a hot issue in the UK.

The stakes are high for Monsanto. Consumers Union estimates that Monsanto's bovine growth hormone, rBGH, could earn the company $ 500 million a year in the U.S. and another $ 1 billion a year internationally. The haul from Monsanto's Round-Up Ready soybeans, potatoes and corn and its terminator seeds could be tens of billions more.

Faced with the almost certain prospect that the European Union would ban the import of Monsanto genetically modified corn in 1998, the company unleashed an unprecedented lobbying effort, flying a group of critical journalists to the U.S. to visit its corporate headquarters and labs with a side trip to the White House.

Bill Clinton and Al Gore got into the act, engaging in some last-minute arm-twisting of the Irish and French prime ministers. France and Ireland caved in to the pressure by last July. This spring, Monsanto's GM corn will be planted in Europe.

In Britain, the Labor government, secure in its majority, is nonetheless embarrassed by blunders on the GM issue, including that Lord Sainsbury, Labor's science minister, who is deeply involved in GM decision-making, had financial and familial ties in GM companies.

Prince Charles commands considerable public support from Britons deeply suspicious of scientific manipulation of their food. The '60s live on, in the most surprising ways. A decent slice of Prince Charles's world view--cosmic holism, organic communitarianism--mirrors that of an American hippie in the late '60s. After all, organic agriculture in America owes much to the hippies, as does Humboldt Gold, an example of biological manipulation of the most uplifting sort.


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Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 13:53:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN4-1

Kenya; Lobby Cautions Against Genetically -modified Foods

By Catherine Mgendi, The Nation (Nairobi), Africa News March 25, 1999

Nairobi - There is more at stake in the on-going biosafety debate than the politics of free trade and biodiversity conservation.

Environmentalists say one of the greatest concerns of the biotechnology industry is the health implication of eating genetically -altered foods.

According to Greenpeace International, geneticists are "altering life itself, dabbling with genes" to produce unnatural living plants and animals. Greenpeace calls the potential consequences of this millennium industry " frightening", saying scientists are sourcing genes of their products from organisms such as rats, scorpions, bacteria and even humans, which have never been part of the food chain.

"The danger is they are mixing genes from entirely unrelated species; animal genes are going into vegetables, bacteria genes into food crops, and human genes into animals. ... Never before have genes from bacteria or scorpions been part of the human diet!" says the environmental lobby, lamenting that safety tests on genetically -engineered foods have been "terrifyingly inadequate". How will we protect our health when we can never tell what strange genes have been put in our basic foodstuffs?


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Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 13:53:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN4-1

Portugal Feed Industry Says GM Safety Paramount

By David Brough LISBON, March 25 (Reuters)

Portugal's animal feed industry believes food safety is paramount in the debate over whether to use genetically modified (GM) foodstuffs, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Luis Marques, secretary general of the Feed Compounders Association (IACA), said it was too early for IACA to take a position on GM foods as not enough information was available about possible long-term health risks. Our biggest concern is for food safety," he told Reuters in a telephone interview. "The debate on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) remains confused because there is no concrete information on the possible consequences of GMOs for health," he added.


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Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 13:53:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN4-1

UK: Co-op pulls out of GM trials

From BBC News Website page:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_307000/307544.stm

The UK's biggest farming organisation has pulled out of government trials of genetically modified crops after concerns were raised by environmentalists. ... The Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS), which farms 80,000 acres across the UK, was to have hosted two of the trials [of genetically modified crops].

But the CWS says it will be pulling out of the tests for this year as it believed the tests themselves could raise the very fears they are designed to allay.


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Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 13:53:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN4-1

29 March 1999 Farmers Weekly (UK)

Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) drops case against anti-GM women

THE Crown Prosecution Service has dropped charges against two women accused of destroying a test site for genetically modified (GM) crops in Devon. Jacklyn Sheedy and Elizabeth Snook were arrested last August after protestors uprooted a crop of herbicide-resistant maize at Hood Barton Farm, near Totnes. The site is only a few hundred yards from a leading organic vegetable farm.


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Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 06:40:37 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-30

Thanks to Judy Kew for posting the following:

U.S. Awareness Slowly Growing of EU Biotech Crop Concerns

By DANIEL ROSENBERG, Dow Jones Newswires -- March 25, 1999

CHICAGO -- With Europe increasingly reluctant to import genetically modified crops, U.S. farm groups and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are taking steps to raise producers' awareness.

However, many U.S. farmers don't realize the extent of Europe's concerns, processors and producers say.

"I'm afraid there's a disconnect - farmers don't see the tie between the decisions they make and foreign markets," said Dave Erickson, a corn and soybean farmer in Altoona, Ill.

Last week, the National Corn Growers Association warned farmers to "get the facts" before they plant genetically modified seeds not approved for export to the European Union. "If the biotech hybrid you plant isn't approved for export, take the necessary steps to keep harvested grain in the domestic distribution chain and out of export channels," the NCGA said on its web site.

The sole variety of U.S. genetically modified soybeans - Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" - has E.U. approval. But many European consumers aren't convinced about the safety of any genetically modified products, even those approved by the E.U., the American Soybean Association acknowledged.


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Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 06:40:37 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN3-30

TRAITOR TECHNOLOGY: "Damaged Goods" from the Gene Giants

Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI)
News Release 29 March 1999 http://www.rafi.org

Sections:
Terminator growth beyond expectation
Scary Scope
Killer Genes, Junkie Seeds, And Modern-day "miracles":
Genetic Mutilation
Tight-lipped Monsanto
Will Terminator Work?
Will Farmers Buy It?
Terminating The Terminator:

New report from RAFI details over 2 dozen "Terminator II" patents that link suicide seeds to proprietary chemicals, genetically-weakened plants, and the patented power to make genetically-inviable plants rise from the dead.

Terminator growth beyond expectation

Beyond the prognostications of even its most pessimistic critics, Terminator science is snowballing into the corporate profit centre of the next decade and beyond. And, if the major seed and agrochemical multinationals have their way, Terminator and Traitor (negative trait) technologies will come on the heels of the new millennium to a farm near you. RAFI's Executive Director Pat Mooney declares, "With this report and our previous work on the Terminator, RAFI is sounding the alarm that without government action, these technologies will be commercialized within a few years with potentially disastrous consequences."

Says RAFI Programme Officer Edward Hammond, "Since we discovered the original Terminator patent a year ago, even at our most pessimistic we never forecast negative trait genetic engineering to explode as quickly as it has." Most observers thought there would be a delay of two or three years before second and third generation Terminator refinements were patented; but instead says Hammond, "a survey of patent offices reveals that the cat is completely out of the bag. In fact, the original Terminator may be a dead letter because enhanced Terminator seeds are already in the laboratory."

RAFI reports that every Gene Giant multinational has patented, or admits it is working on genetically-sterilized or chemically-dependent seeds. RAFI's report provides details and analysis on over two dozen such patents recently obtained by 12 institutions. The patents seek to exploit - or could exploit - new genetic engineering techniques that use inducible promoters to disable critical plant functions governing reproduction, disease resistance, and seed viability.

If commercialization of such seeds proceeds, farmers worldwide will be tangled in an expensive web of chemicals, intellectual property, and disabled germplasm that leads to bioserfdom. The technology spells disaster for farmers and global food security because over three quarters of the world's farmers - mainly poor farmers - depend on farm saved seed. The complete removal of farmers from the age-old process of plant breeding through sterilized seed could also signify a disastrous narrowing of the genepool on which everyone depends for food security.

Scary Scope

According to RAFI's Research Director Hope Shand, "The patents describe the use of external chemicals to turn on and off genetic traits in plants and go well beyond DeltaPine's original 'Terminator' patent. They are techniques to control a wide variety of 'input' and 'output' (production and processing) traits by spraying with proprietary herbicides or fertilizers. Others take us beyond crop plants to the use of Terminator-style tactics on insects and even possibly mammals."

Killer Genes, Junkie Seeds, And Modern-day "miracles":

Some patents aim to switch the plant's germination on or off. AstraZeneca's Verminator patents use what it calls 'killer genes' for this purpose. Yet AstraZeneca has been telling governments, scientists, and the press that despite their continuing pursuit of its patents around the world, they won't stop farmers from saving seed. RAFI's Pat Mooney says, "Something didn't add up, so we set out to investigate."

Newly discovered patent claims explain the confusing AstraZeneca position. The new patents refine AstraZeneca's "Verminator" technology that links plant growth and germination to repeated application of proprietary chemicals. Without specific patented chemicals, the plant doesn't grow. "Essentially," says RAFI's Edward Hammond, "they're talking about the manufacture of junkie plants that are physically dependent on a patented chemical cocktail." AstraZeneca says it will patent the technology in 77 countries.

See AstraZeneca's Verminator II patent:
http://wo.dips.org/search97cgi/s97is.dll?Action=View&ViewTemplate=ep/en/viewer.hts&SearchType=4&VdkVgwKey=9735983

Says RAFI's Mooney, "So, you see AstraZeneca and the other Gene Giants don't want farmers to buy new seed every year so much as to force them to repurchase their old seed." Monsanto is already pioneering such 'pay by the generation' techniques through legal means - the infamous grower agreements - in the US and Canada; but research is steering toward biological means of achieving the same sad end. Mooney says "It will be vastly more profitable for multinationals to sell seeds programmed to commit suicide at harvest so that farmers must pay the company to obtain the chemicals to have them re-activated for the next planting - either through a seed conditioning process or through the purchase of a specialized chemicals that bring saved seed back to life, Lazarus-style."

"In effect, this shifts all the seed costs to farmers, and the companies won't have to multiply, ship, and warehouse massive seed stocks," Hammond adds, "As the seed oligopoly strengthens, companies will have less and less incentive to invest in plant breeding research, after all they'll already have the farmers in a position of utter dependency." Pat Mooney agrees, "With these 'Lazarus-link seeds' the advertising investment will continue but the research investment will wither away."

Genetic Mutilation

An especially disturbing feature of some of the new patents profiled in RAFI's report is the deliberate disabling of natural plant functions that help to fight disease. Swiss biotech giant Novartis is most advanced in this aspect of Traitor technology. Novartis blandly refers to it as "inactivation of endogenous regulation" so that "genes which are natively regulated can be regulated exclusively by the application to the plant of a chemical regulator."

Among the genes which Novartis can control in this manner are patented SAR (systemic acquired resistance) genes which are critical to plant's ability to fight off infections from many viruses and bacteria. Thus, Novartis has patented techniques to create plants with natural healthy functions turned off. "The only way to turn them back on and fix these 'damaged goods' " says RAFI's Edward Hammond, "is, well, you guessed it, the application of a propietary chemical."

See the Novartis antisense regulation of SAR systems patent:
http://164.195.100.11/netacgi/nph-Parser?
Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/
srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1='5,650,505'.WKU.&OS=PN/
5,650,505&RS=PN/5,650,505

Tight-lipped Monsanto

Caught like a deer in the headlights during recent battles over genetically-modified plants - especially in Europe - Monsanto has sought to deflect questions and criticism about Terminator technology by saying that the Terminator belongs to its soon-to-be subsidiary Delta and Pine Land Company. As such, the oft-repeated PR position goes, Monsanto doesn't yet have access to the Terminator and can't inform concerned governments and people about plans for Terminator seed.

"It's been their mantra across the world." says RAFI's Mooney, "We've heard the same confusing statements from Monsanto representatives in New Zealand, India, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Brazil, the EU, and the US." Even last week, at a Harvard University presentation, Monsanto's representative similarly shrugged off the question. "In fact," says RAFI's Mooney, "it's a deliberate ploy - or, at best, incomplete information - that obfuscates facts about the company's own research agenda. Monsanto already has its own in-house, patented Terminator technology, which it says it will patent in a whopping 89 countries. Obviously, the company is not being forthright. If Monsanto doesn't start coming clean, it risks further damage to its already tarnished image."

See Monsanto's Terminator II patent:
http://wo.dips.org/search97cgi/s97is.dll?Action=View&ViewTemplate=ep/ en/viewer.hts&SearchType=4&VdkVgwKey=9744465

Will Terminator Work?

RAFI notes that some plant scientists are skeptical that Traitor Technology will work successfully in the field. Monsanto, one of the original Traitor Tech proponents, is encouraging this view. There is no doubt that Traitor Tech will be continually refined as it moves toward the market; but terminator plants are already in the greenhouse and profit estimates are being calculated. "It's only a matter of time. Every major pesticide-producing Gene Giant is hard at work perfecting the technology."

Shand adds, "Companies don't patent for the fun of the paperwork and paying lawyer's fees. Those who think corporations will drop the Terminator - or think it won't make it to market - are living in Fantasyland. There's too much money to be made. Unless it is banned by governments, Terminator is going to happen, and probably sooner rather than later."

Will Farmers Buy It?

Delta & Pine Land and Monsanto insist that no one will force farmers to buy Terminator seed. The real question is, will farmers have a choice? The commercial seed industry is imploding, and a handful of Gene Giants already control a rapidly expanding share of major seed markets.

After DuPont announced earlier this month that it would buy Pioneer Hi-Bred, the world's largest seed company, the Wall Street Journal concluded that the deal "effectively divides" most of the US seed industry between DuPont and Monsanto. With the disappearance of public sector plant breeders, farmers are becoming increasingly vulnerable and have fewer choices in the marketplace.

Terminating The Terminator:

RAFI and its partners around the world are contacting governments asking them to declare all of the Terminator-style patent claims as contrary to ordre public. In January, Global Response (a US based non-profit organization) encouraged its 4,000 members in forty countries to write to the Director-General of FAO asking him to oppose the Terminator as a matter of world food security. FAO has replied that governments may take up the issue in Rome April 19 to 23 during the meeting of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. RAFI will be at that meeting and will make a presentation to governments. Further, concerned individuals from 71 countries have sent almost 7,000 letters to US Agriculture Secretary Glickman asking him to ban the Terminator.

Although global opposition is mounting, RAFI worries that the UN's Biodiversity Convention may go "soft" on the environmental and social implications of the technology. When the Convention meets in Montreal in June, it is to receive a scientific study on Terminator. "We will read and respond to that study very quickly," Pat Mooney advises.

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For further information:

Website: http://www.rafi.org

Pat Roy Mooney, Executive Director, RAFI
110 Osborne Street South, Suite 202, Winnipeg, MB, R3L 1Y5 CANADA
Tel: +1 204 453-5259    Fax: +1 204 925-8134    E-mail: rafi@rafi.org

Hope Shand, Research Director, RAFI
Tel: +1 717 337-6482    Fax: +1 717 337-6499    E-mail: hope@rafi.org

Edward Hammond, Programme Officer, RAFI
Tel: +1 206 323-7378    Fax: +1 206 323-6052    E-mail: hammond@rafi.org


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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