Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

27 April 99

Table of Contents

Genetically Engineered Food, Executive Summary
Ban Milk Products with Cow Growth Hormone
A snapshot of ag biotechnology in the United States
BIO Honors Four 'Outstanding Legislators of the Year'
Monsanto Profits Tumble 33 Percent
GE - Supermarket Actions taking off at US Safeways
In Europe, Cuisine du Gene Gets a Vehement Thumbs Down
Monsanto admits superweed danger
Genetically Engineered Lawns
List of Companies Producing Organically Grown Soybeans
More Transatlantic Trade Battles Loom
Seriousness of Soy "allergy" Reports - Call for Ban and Destruction

Top NextFront Page

Date: 23 Apr 1999 10:57:47 -0500
From: pmligotti@earthlink.net (Peter M. Ligotti)

Genetically Engineered Food, Executive Summary

SUMMARY

  1. Foods we assume to be natural food and eat every day has been secretly genetically engineered with the DNA of bacteria, viruses, animals, and fish by the chemical/genetic engineering industry within the past three years.

  2. Although the chemical/genetic engineering industry claims to have good motives and good intentions for doing this, they are essentially experimenting with the human race on a mass scale.

  3. The chemical/genetic engineering industry has been doing these things--the exact type of things you would expect a mad scientist or demon to do--even though they state that they have good intentions. They claim these "scientific advances" will help solve the problem of world hunger. Their main motive is to create a profit windfall by making experimental crops genetically resistant to their chemical pesticides and/or crops which create pesticide internally. Opponents of genetically engineered food call them Frankenfoods, or Frankenstein foods.

  4. There have been many ill effects already from genetically engineered products. Genetically engineered Tryptophan caused 50 deaths and permanently injured thousands, while the genetically engineered sweetener Aspartame has caused thousands of disease cases worldwide. Now the chemical companies have genetically engineered soy, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, canola, cotton, papaya, and crook neck squash. These are now in your supermarket !!

  5. To avoid these foods, shop very carefully, and eat only certified organic versions of soy, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, canola, cotton, papaya, or crook neck squash. Soy and corn derivitives are in most processed foods.

  6. There is a complete internet plan available to stop Frankenfoods. To receive a copy, send an e-mail to pmligotti@earthlink.net with "avoiding dangerous foods" as the subject heading.

Relevant Websites About Genetic Engineering: (Easily accessible with Netscape mail programs)

http://www.safe-food.org/welcome.html
http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html
http://www.greenpeace.org/~usa/reports/biodiversity/roundup
http://www.greenpeace.org/~comms/cbio/geneng.html
http://www.indiaserver.com/betas/vshiva
http://users.westnet.gr/~cgian/biotech.htm
http://www.rafi.ca
http://www.purefood.org
http://www.med.upenn.edu/~bioethic/genetics/articles.html
http://www.ucsusa.org/agriculture/ag.docs.html
http://www.k2net.co.uk/~savage/ef/earthfirst.html
http://www.essential.org/crg
http://www.envirolink.org/orgs/shag
http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~rone/gedanger.htm
http://www.bio-integrity.org
http://www.natural-law.org/issues/genetics/ge_hazards.html
http://www.bio-integrity.org
http://www.peg.apc.org/~acfgenet
http://www.indians.org/welker/genome.htm
http://www.solbaram.org/articles/clm505.html
http://www.netlink.de/gen/home.html
http://www.psagef.org/indexgen.htm


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 23 Apr 1999 13:59:07 -0500
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

THE GREENS in the European Parliament
Press Release
Brussels, 16 April 1999

EU Scientific Experts Point to Human Health Risks from rBST Use

Ban Milk Products with Cow Growth Hormone

The Green Group is calling for all milk and dairy products produced from cows treated with the controversial genetically engineered growth hormone, bovine somatotropin (rBST, also called BGH), to be banned in the EU and for rBST to be taken off the market word-wide. The UN body Codex Alimentarius, which acts as food safety advisor to the WTO, is to discuss a report on rBST in Paris on 19-23 April. Greens are calling on the European Union delegates to demand a complete withdrawal of all product approvals.

The use and sale of the rBST drug, produced by Monsanto and Eli Lilly, was originally banned in Member States in 1990. This ban expires at the end of 1999 but is likely to be extended in the light of clear evidence of serious adverse impacts on the welfare of the cow, notably increased foot problems, mastitis and injection site swellings. Repeated injections of the genetically modified hormone are given to boost milk yield artificially by up to 15%.

Although the animal welfare problems have been apparent for some time, and have led the Canadian government to follow the EU ban, data on potential risks to human health from products made from rBST-treated milking herds has been disputed. However, the Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health (SCVM) has now reported to the European Commission that there is a possible "association between circulating IGF-1 levels and an increased relative risk of breast and prostate cancer".

Levels of Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1), which also occurs naturally in milk, are substantially increased in milk from rBST-treated cows. The SCVM also calls for more studies on the lifetime impact of rBST-induced exposure to IGF-1, particularly in infants. In the light of this finding, the Greens call on the Commission and Member States to resist attempts at Codex to set a maximum residual level (MRL) for IGF-1 from rBST use unless a definitive safety clearance can be given.

Commenting on the findings, Hiltrud Breyer MEP (Germany) said "This confirms what we have said repeatedly over the last few years-this product of genetic engineering is potentially dangerous to humans as well as to animals. Not only should it not be used to inject dairy cows, but all milk and dairy products derived from rBST treatment must be taken off the market immediately. If ever there was a clear-cut case for applying the precautionary principle, this is it.

"rBST is licenced for use not only in the USA but also in several Eastern European countries and is actually produced in the EU for export. Mrs Breyer added "We have to tell our neighbours that we will not buy their dairy products whilst they continue to use rBST and we should stop exporting it around the world."

Pointing to the international controversy on the safety question, Paul Lannoye, Belgian Green MEP, said "This is a product nobody wants and should be taken out of circulation immediately. Last year, the United Nations Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) recommended approval of this product but there is a strong suspicion of improper outside influence and selective use of scientific studies. The committee's report was apparently drafted by an ex-Monsanto employee and sensitive documents were leaked to the company before the final recommendation was made. It is time that this discredited decision-making process on food safety was brought under proper public scrutiny."

Gianni Tamino MEP (Italy) commented "It appears that Monsanto in Europe will have to accept the undeniable evidence of damage to animals but my prediction is that they will continue to fight against publication of data on human health dangers because they know that this spells the end for rBST". He added that "The Codex decision-making process requires complete overhaul - the last study of the make-up of the advisory committee structure showed that proceedings were dominated by industry representatives either as members of their national delegations or as observers. I understand that this practice has not changed much since the Report was written."

Notes for Editors:

  1. The SCVM Report on Public Health Aspects of rBST is available on the European Commission website at http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg24/health/sc/scv/out19_en.html

  2. Monsanto's rBST/rBGH, brand name Posilac, is licenced for use in the USA, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, Israel, Jamaica, South Africa, Russia, the Ukraine, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.

  3. FAO/Codex Committee on General Principles Fourteenth Session, Paris, France, 19-23 April 1999. Agenda on website at http://www.fao.org/events/default.htm

  4. The EU ban does not so far extend to production for export of rBST, and continues to be made in Kundl, Austria by Monsanto at a factory owned by Novartis. This is believed to be the main source of world-wide production

  5. A paper by John Verrall MRPS "The Manipulation of Codex Alimentarius" which catalogues the improper influence of the outcome of the JECFA Report and is endorsed by British and Canadian public interest groups, has been sent to the European Commission, the Council and the Parliament.

  6. "Cracking the Codex", an analysis of participation in Codex committees published by National Food Alliance, 1993

******************************
Press Service
of the Green Group
in the European Parliament
*******************************

Helmut WEIXLER
phone:+32-2-284 4683    fax: +32-2-284 4944    e-mail: hweixler@europarl.eu.int


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 23 Apr 1999 18:31:32 -0500
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

A snapshot of ag biotechnology in the United States

By Peter Bohan, Chicago commodities desk(312)408-8720
April 23, 1999, chicago.commods.newsroom+reuters.com © Copyright 1999, Reuters

Sections:
Examples

CHICAGO, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation : Protests about genetically modified (GM) foods and crops in Europe are feeding fresh debates as the World Trade Organisation prepares to set an agenda at talks to open in Seattle later this year.

Meanwhile, with strong U.S. Agriculture Department support, the United States food system, a trend-setter for international production, continues to buy into the cost-saving, value-enhancing arguments of GM technology. As these products prove safe, using an independent and objective eye, we must use their immense potential to wage world war against hunger and for a U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman told European farm leaders at East-West Agricultural Forum in Berlin in January.

Plantings of biotech crops in the United States have exploded as seeds for three of the main four row crops -- corn, soybeans and cotton -- have become commercially available the last three years. Work on the fourth, wheat, continues, with

Ag biotech backers say the first phase of products has been aimed at cost-conscious farmers. GM crops with pest-fighting insecticides built in save on costs and help the environment, they say, while biodegradable herbicides like planting surge, helping preserve topsoil. quality that will of the enhancements necessary.

That direction recognises the fact that livestock and crop production in the United for biochemistry, with its proteins, into far more valuable catalysts for food, pharmaceutical, energy and fibre industries. These include, for example, crop-based insulin for diabetics, interferons for cancer therapies, and vaccines.

Gene-researched applications can now affect animal growth at the enzyme level, fermentation of beverages, crop resistance to diseases and insects, lactation, ripening, sweetness, and other food qualities. Not to mention recent advances with cloning of farm animals, which have added debates about ethics to the issues of food safety and environmental effects.

Examples

Examples of how GM is now in place in the US food system:

    also known as bovine growth hormone (BGH), is a protein produced by cattle. The gene for BST has been cloned into or genetically engineered version (RBGH) used to boost milk output in dairy herds. About 30 percent of herds are affected.

  1. A less well-known use of biotech in dairy is the enzyme chymosin, a GM-derived rennet substitute now used in more than 50 percent of cheese production in the United States.

  2. Grains -- Almost 35 percent or 27 million acres (10.93 million hectares) of the number one field crop in U.S, corn, will be planted to GM strains in 1999, according corn altered with genes from a soil-based that fights the European corn borer pest. It also corn that withstands Monsanto's Roundup, a popular herbicide worldwide. -- such as BT plus high corn oil yield -- are also being marketed.

  3. Oilseeds - Growers say plantings of Roundup Ready soybeans and other GM varieties will account for up to 40 million acres (16.19 million hectares) in the U.S. this year, more than half 1999 acreage in the fourth year of use. Roundup Ready canola, a rapeseed developed in Canada, is also marketed in the U.S. and Canada.

  4. Cotton - Bt, Roundup Ready and other GM cotton varieties are expected to account for more than half of the 14 million acres (5.666 million hectares) planted in the U.S. this year.

  5. Sugar - Roundup Ready sugarbeets make U.S. debut in 1999.

  6. Potatoes - Monsanto's New Leaf potatoes combat the Colorado potato beetle through a protein specific to the beetle added to the crop. Virus resistant traits are also added. Plantings in 1998 accounted for 60,000 acres (24,280 hectares) out of 1.37 million acres (554,400 hectares) of potatoes planted in the U.S.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 23 Apr 1999 18:32:13 -0500
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

BIO Honors Four 'Outstanding Legislators of the Year'

April 23, 1999

WASHINGTON, April 22 /PRNewswire/ via NewsEdge Corporation -- The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) honored four members of Congress with its " Outstanding Legislator of the Year" awards.

U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Connie Mack (R-Fla.) and U.S. Reps. Calvin Dooley (D-Calif.) and Jim Greenwood (R-Pa.) received the annual industry award for support of legislative issues critical to the continued growth and worldwide prominence of the biotech industry. The presentations were made during BIO's Legislative Day on Capitol Hill Wednesday, April 21.

Chuck Ludlam, BIO's vice president for government relations, said, "These legislators exhibited leadership and courage on a broad range of issues: defeat of hastily drafted anti-cloning legislation that would have impeded basic biomedical research; passage of the FDA Modernization Act to streamline development of new therapies and cures; and support for agricultural biotech products to improve foods and farming.

"We are honored to work with these champions to make sure the U.S. biotech industry remains the global leader in developing innovative products for health care, agriculture, manufacturing and environmental management."

BIO represents more than 850 biotech companies, academic institutions and state biotech centers in 47 states and 26 nations.

SOURCE Biotechnology Industry Organization

CONTACT: Charles Craig of BIO, 202-857-0244 Web site: http://www.bio.org

[Copyright 1999, PR Newswire]


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 23 Apr 1999 18:32:50 -0500
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

Monsanto Profits Tumble 33 Percent

April 23, 1999

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - Reuters [OL] via NewsEdge Corporation : Life sciences firm Monsanto Co. said Thursday its first quarter profits fell 33 percent to $132 million as it spent more on interest payments and amortization costs related to last year's $6 billion in seed company acquisitions.

The maker of Roundup herbicide, Celebrex arthritis treatment and NutraSweet artificial sweetener said it earned 20 cents a diluted share, topping analysts' expectations, on sales of $2.5 billion. Last year, Monsanto earned $196 million, or 32 cents a share, on sales of $2.0 billion.

Analysts had expected Monsanto to earn 16 cents a share in the latest quarter, according to research firm First Call, which tracks such data. Robert Shapiro, chairman and chief Most notably, early patient demand for Celebrex arthritis treatment is at an unprecedented level for any new drug. Celebrex is on track to become the most successful new product ever launched in

Monsanto said it was advancing other new drugs in its product pipeline, and also saw strong demand for its crops with biotechnology traits.

Last year, Monsanto bought two seed companies and agreed to purchase a third for a grand total of more than $6 billion.

[Copyright 1999, Reuters]


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 23 Apr 1999 18:33:48 -0500
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

GE - Supermarket Actions taking off at US Safeways

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 22, 1999 Earth Day

CONTACT: Daniel McGowan
(415) 626-4942    djenni@hotmail.com    missionbay@artactivist.com

Super Heroes Take Action At Safeway... Vow To Protect Consumers From Dangerous Genetically-engineered foods.

San Francisco- At 12:30PM today, the HEXTERMINATORS will be taking action at Safeway (Church and Market St) in San Francisco to warn consumers that the food they are buying may be genetically modified. This action is part of the Global Days of Action against Genetic Engineering and appropriately will be held on Earth Day.

Super Heroes from the Hexterminators will be disrupting Safeway to warn consumers of the hazards of genetically engineered (GE) foods. Dressed in full costume, several Super Heroes will appear at the store to demand that the only SAFE-WAY is GE-FREE! Super Heroes will label suspected GE foods with caution tape--as a warning to shoppers that their purchases may be contaminated. Concerned consumers will also gather in front of the store to protest and petition for labeling of genetically modified foods. The protest will feature a genetically engineered foods taste test for those who dare. Many will join in for a GE-FREE PARADE on Market Street

Unlabeled, untested.... and you're eating it!" claims superhero BioGirl of the HEXTERMINATORS. Consumer groups report that 60% of packaged foods have genetically engineered ingredients. In 1989, a genetically modified form of the dietary supplement L-tryptophan produced toxic contaminants that caused 37 deaths and 1,511 cases of a disease calledeosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS).

Despite the potential heath risks of these GE foods, none of these products are labeled. Soy beans genetically engineered with a Brazil nut gene caused allergic reactions in people allergic to Brazil nuts. More than 20 distinguished scientists have recognized the validity of a recent study, which linked genetically modified potatoes to immune deficiency and abnormal growth in mice. Studies link rBGH (genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone) milk and increased cancers in humans. Should American families be the guinea pigs for these experiments with our food? iNo wayi, says Super Seed Womyn, iWe are going to continue to come to Safeway and demand they go GE- FREE until they realize we mean Action, Jackson!i.

San Francisco joins cities all over the world to celebrate the Global Days of Action against Genetic Engineering. The anti-genetix group BayRAGE will also be conducting supermarket disruptions in Oakland (For more information call BayRAGE spokesperson Mia Thompson at 415- 673-5806) . Similar actions are taking place in Boston, St. Louis, Seattle, Austin, Santa Cruz, Burlington, Chicago, Boulder, France, Japan, India, Malaysia, Australia, UK, and Canada.

The Hexterminators Super Heroes are fighting for the right to know what is in our food. According to a poll by Time Magazine, 81% of consumers want GE food labeled. Currently, there are no requirements to safety-test genetically engineered foods before they are released for public consumption. Safeway carries many products with genetically engineered ingredients. Some of the Safeway brand-name products such as Safeway Soya Spread and Safeway Tomato Paste are reported to contain GE ingredients.

The Hexterminators are demanding that Safeway label their GE foods. Supermarket direct actions by the Hexterminators are a warning to consumers of the world that genetically engineered foods pose a significant threat to public health and the environment .Environmental havoc may result from the release of thousands of genetically engineered exotic species.

The Hexterminators are a multinational conglomerate of artists, political organizers, scientists, and superheroes who have joined together to battle the biozoid misdeeds of the genetics revolution. For more info http://www.artactivist.com or e-mail at missionbay@artactivist.com.

_______________________________________________________________
Get Free Email and Do More On The Web. Visit http://www.msn.com


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 24 Apr 1999 13:05:41 -0500
From: Colleen Robison-Spencer crobison@mnsinc.com

This article is on the bottom of the front page [below the Nato meeting happenings] with a color picture of two Scottish protestors. The continuation pages have headlines "Europeans Pass Up Engineered 'Frankenfoods', with photo of news headlines, and "A European Aversion to Gene-Altered Food." No one could miss this one-- including the 3,000 journalists in Washington this weekend. Maybe the North Americans journalists will go back home, do some research and write. C

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

In Europe, Cuisine du Gene Gets a Vehement Thumbs Down

By Rick Weiss, Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 24, 1999; Page A01

Biotech Food Protests Reflect Cultural Contrasts, Health Fears

BOGHALL FARM, ScotlandoThey gathered at the edge of a field here late one night, about 20 people wearing dark clothes and gardening gloves. The gently rolling, half-acre test plot that stretched before them was lush with thousands of experimental canola plants, genetically altered by a German biotechnology company.

When lookouts in three cars all gave the go-ahead via mobile phones, the shadowy figures illuminated battery-powered miner's lamps atop their heads, crept from behind the hawthorn hedgerows and began ripping every gene-altered plant from the earth. Hours later, exhausted and surrounded by wilting, uprooted vegetation, the dirt-covered protesters sped back to nearby Edinburgh.

"We were nervous for the next week," one participant said recently, speaking to a visitor at the now barren site on the condition of anonymity. If the group members are caught and convicted, they could spend a decade or longer in prison.

The Boghall raid was one of many "decontaminations" of gene-altered farm sites by protesters during the past year, many of them resulting in arrests. In England, Scotland and Ireland, at least three trials for such raids have come up in the past month alone.

The actions are part of a wave of protest circling the globe as the first fields of genetically modified crops take root outside the United States. Gene-altered crops have been grown and consumed in America since 1996 with hardly a murmur of debate, and the massive negative reaction in the British Isles and other countries is highlighting differences in the way Americans and others perceive science and the environment. The protests are also drawing attention to lingering scientific uncertainties about the risks of agricultural biotechnology.

The controversy is over crops that have been endowed with genes from bacteria and other organisms, mostly to make them resistant to insects and chemical weedkillers. In Britain and other European countries, where such crops are still restricted to small experimental plots, polls indicate that two-thirds of consumers believe the plants pose a threat to the environment or to human health.

Recent public protests and a flurry of newspaper articles with headlines about "Frankenfoods" and "Mutant Crops" have put European government and industry officials on the defensive. More than two dozen influential consumer organizations in Britain called last month for a five-year moratorium on commercial plantings of gene-altered crops there. Top chefs have called for segregation and labeling of engineered ingredients so they can keep the stuff out of their gourmet dishes.

The protests appear to be working. Last month, several major fast food outlets and supermarket chains in England -- including Burger King, McDonald's and Sainsbury's (the large grocery chain owned by the family of England's science minister, Lord Sainsbury) -- promised to eliminate genetically modified foods and ingredients from their product lines.

Those moves are alarming farmers and distributors in the United States, the leading producer of gene-altered foods, where regulatory agencies have deemed gene-modified crops "substantially equivalent" to traditional crops and where consumers -- knowingly or not -- consume large quantities of engineered food every day.

Last year, nearly 40 percent of the U.S. soybean crop was genetically engineered. And while Americans may think they don't eat much soy, it's present in an estimated 60 percent of all processed foods, including breads, baby food, salad dressings and ice cream. Similarly, 45 percent of U.S. cotton -- including that grown for cottonseed oil -- was genetically modified last year, as was 25 percent of the nation's corn.

In the industry's view, these crops are at least as safe as traditionally bred crops.

"We're talking about tens of thousands of field trials and millions of people who have ingested these foods safely," said Carl Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) in Washington. "And before people ingested the foods, we're talking about agencies highly respected by American citizens -- the FDA, the EPA, the Department of Agriculture -- all signing off on the safety of these plants."

According to Feldbaum and other advocates, gene-modified crops are desperately needed if the world's growing population is to be fed in coming decades. Some experts have even suggested that engineered crops are the only way to achieve the environmental Holy Grail of "sustainable agriculture," because in theory, at least, they can reduce the need for chemical insecticides, herbicides and erosion-promoting tilling.

Moreover, scientists promise they will soon be adding genes that are not only useful to the farmer but also valuable to the consumer, such as genes that make foods more nutritious or tasty.

But even the best arguments by scientists and government agencies have not convinced Europeans.

Philip S. Angell, director of corporate communications for Monsanto Co., the giant St. Louis-based agricultural company that is the major U.S. producer of gene-altered seeds, is one of many observers who blame Europe's rejection of biotechnology on a lack of public trust in food safety agencies there. In particular, he blames the still-simmering "mad cow disease" fiasco, in which British government officials insisted for years that there were no human health risks from the bovine disease -- only to have that assurance disproved.

"That wound still has not healed," Angell said. "You have this low burn level of anxiety about food safety, and in the midst of all this you have a product introduction of genetically engineered soybeans."

A series of public relations missteps by Monsanto probably added to the problem, company officials concede. According to a preliminary ruling by Britain's official Advertising Standards Authority last month, a $1.6 million Monsanto advertising campaign sought to deceive the public by expressing opinions as accepted fact and making scientific claims that were "wrong" and "misleading."

Another factor, said David Atkinson, vice principal for research at the Scottish Agricultural College in Edinburgh, is that Europeans are more attuned to what's happening in the countryside than Americans are. "Look," he said, pointing out the window of his second-story campus office. "Edinburgh is the fifth- or sixth-largest city in the United Kingdom, and we can look out the window and see countryside and see farming."

In England, industry sources said, Prince Charles's avid endorsements of organic food have not exactly been helpful. And in Germany, lingering discomfort over that country's painful legacy of eugenics may explain some of the opposition there to genetic engineering.

International politics, too, cannot be wholly discounted. Some U.S. lawmakers and corporate officials suspect that Europe's reluctance to embrace agricultural biotechnology is nothing more than thinly veiled protectionism, deserving of punishment by the World Trade Organization.

Many opponents of agricultural biotechnology agree that all these explanations contribute to their feelings. But most important, they argue, is that there is simply not enough known about the safety of these crops.

They cite studies indicating that plants engineered to make their own insecticides can accelerate the evolution of resistant insects and may ultimately render the few remaining organic insecticides ineffective. And they note that crops engineered to be tolerant of chemical weedkillers can lead to more widespread use of those chemicals, which could wipe out weedy homes for beneficial insects and harm the birds that feed on those insects.

Many ecologists are also concerned that the spread of new genes to weeds via windblown pollen could lead to the inadvertent creation of "superweeds" that don't die when sprayed with weedkillers.

Separately, some critics have raised the possibility that genetically modified foods may harm people's health. No adverse effects have been documented, they concede. But they note that scientists routinely insert into engineered plants "marker genes" that confer resistance to antibiotics such as ampicillin, which helps them identify the plants that have been altered. Studies suggest that bacteria in people's or animals' intestines may be able to pick up those genes from digested food and perhaps accelerate the evolution of antibiotic-resistant microbes.

Allergies are a potential problem, too, critics note. Two years ago, scientists tried to make soybeans more nutritious by inserting into them a Brazil nut gene. The inadvertent result: soybeans that triggered allergic reactions in people allergic to Brazil nuts. That product never made it to market -- a fact that supporters of the technology emphasize as evidence that the regulatory system is working. Nonetheless, some people fear that consumers with rare allergies may suffer life-threatening reactions to other foods harboring unlabeled foreign genes.

Only now is research starting to examine all these potential risks to see how likely they are in reality. Unfortunately, the picture remains unclear.

A new report sponsored by BIO, for example, concluded last month that agricultural biotechnology has increased crop yields, reduced farmers' use of pesticides and herbicides and reduced soil erosion in the United States.

By contrast, other researchers have concluded that in many areas of the United States, yields of gene-altered crops have been lower than those for conventional crops. And in Canada, genes conferring resistance to weedkillers have clearly jumped from engineered canola plants to surrounding weeds, making those weeds invulnerable to some herbicides.

Given that uncertainty, developers of engineered crops are bracing for further protests in the upcoming growing season. More than a month ago in South Korea, police arrested students and environmental activists who occupied a greenhouse where scientists were developing gene-altered varieties of Chinese cabbage, tobacco, cayenne and other crops. And last month in Auckland, New Zealand, protesters destroyed a test plot of potatoes that reportedly had been genetically enhanced with a gene taken from an African clawed toad.

In an effort to settle the scientific questions for good, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last month that it would create a panel of experts to look at agricultural biotechnology. And the National Academy of Sciences' (NAS) Institute of Medicine also began examining the issue earlier this month, with the goal of releasing a report in six months.

But an end to the debate is not likely any time soon. Critics already have accused the NAS committee of being "stacked" in favor of industry, and an international coalition of nearly 20 environmental and consumer groups petitioned the NAS on April 5 to include on the panel some scientists or others who have been critical of agricultural biotechnology.

Whatever the final makeup of the NAS and USDA panels, many experts suspect that the groups will conclude that the risks of engineered crops, though real, are manageable with proper oversight. Studies have already suggested, for example, that by planting "buffer zones" of non-engineered crops around gene-altered plants, the risk of creating insecticide-resistant bugs or superweeds can be reduced.

If that's the conclusion, these experts say, then regulatory agencies such as the FDA and the EPA -- and farmers themselves -- may be the key to determining whether gene-altered plants help or harm the world.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 25 Apr 1999 08:08:59 -0500
From: MichaelP papadop@peak.org

Monsanto admits superweed danger

By Marie Woolf, INDEPENDENT (London) April 25

Monsanto, one of the pioneers of genetically engineering food, has admitted that GM crops can cross-breed with native plants, creating hybrids resistant to some weedkillers.

A senior Monsanto director has also conceded that insects are capable of developing a resistance to plants genetically engineered to kill them.

Gary Barton, director of biotechnology communications for Monsanto in the United States, told the Independent on Sunday that "resistance can develop" but that "superweeds" - hybrid plants resistant to insecticide - were not an issue since they could always be sprayed with other weedkillers to which they were not resistant.

UK environmentalists and the Government's own wildlife advisers have seized on the admission as "groundbreaking" because it proves that Monsanto has known all along about the dangers to the environment of genetically engineering plants.

The admission will be raised this week by members of the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, which is to question Jack Cunningham, chairman of the Cabinet committee on biotechnology. Dr Cunningham told the Commons last week that experience showed cross-pollination was "not really a very significant problem".

Pete Riley, food and biotechnology campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "This is the first time Monsanto has admitted there are any problems with their crops and so it's a landmark for those who have been warning of the dangers of hybridisation for years. It appears that Monsanto are quite happy for European wildlife to come under threat from GM crops, while it appears they are taking a completely different attitude on their own doorstep."

Monsanto's contracts for US farmers contain detailed "Resistance Management" plans, including planting blocks of non-GM crops around fields. The company has agreed not to plant GM maize in parts of Mexico because of the danger of creating hybrids with native corn varieties. Fears that the GM genes could spread from plants related to native American species have led it to say that it will not modify crops which can breed with American weeds.

But in Britain the company has applied to market genetically-modified sugar beet, which, according to scientists, would be capable of breeding with GM cousins. "If Monsanto is concerned about cross-pollination in the States, they haven't shown much sign of concern here," said Brian Johnson, senior adviser to English Nature.

Last week, the Independent on Sunday revealed that scientists claimed to have found the first GM "superweeds" in Cambridge, after GM oilseed rape plants bred with wild turnips.

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


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 25 Apr 1999 20:10:41 -0500
From: John/Laurel Hopwood es004@cleveland.freenet.edu

Genetically Engineered Lawns

Will This Ever End?

There's an article in this week's Cleveland Plain Dealer that discloses that the Scotts Company in Marysville, Ohio, is working on genetically engineering LAWNS to get that monoculture look. They're "working with different technology companies in gene research, including Rutgers University, one of the country's leading universities in turfgrass research." They expect to develop a round-up ready (or its equivalent) lawn. It's predicted to be available to homeowners in about 5 years. Then, disease resistance and insect resistance will follow. Perhaps growth regulators, too. laurel hopwood


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 26 Apr 1999 02:34:09 -0500
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

For the many people who have requested this, although this list is over a year old and no guarantees may be made at this time. However, please contact the suppliers and negotiate with them. I have twice been promised an updated list but as this has not been forth coming I thought it brest to send the old one. J Mc Nulty.

Below is the list of non-GM sources in the US. Canada, Netherlands and the UK to follow. Let me know if you have any problems.

Mark

List of Companies Producing Organically Grown Soybeans

Sections:
GM Free Soya - USA
GM Free Soya - Canada
GM Free Soya - Netherlands
GM Free Soya - United Kingdom

GM Free Soya - USA

GM Free Soya - Canada

GM Free Soya - Netherlands

GM Free Soya - United Kingdom

This list has been provided in good faith but no guarantees can be given that every company listed can supply non-GM soya on demand. It is up to those who wish to purchase such material to make enquiries before placing an order.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 26 Apr 1999 02:54:26 -0500
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

More Transatlantic Trade Battles Loom

April 26, 1999 [© Copyright 1999, Reuters]

BRUSSELS, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation : A long-running battle between the European Union and the United States over banana trade seems finally to be heading for a solution but equally damaging transatlantic trade rows are waiting to explode.

Disagreements over beef, genetically-modified crops and EU aircraft noise rules could all lead to serious confrontations between the global trading giants. On a sectoral level, there will always be disputes. The key thing is ensuring they said Paul Brenton, a trade economist at the Centre for European Policy Studies, a Brussels think-tank.

Brenton believes there is too much at stake in the massive transatlantic trade and investment relationship for either side to allow that to happen.

Increasingly, analysts believe, transatlantic trade conflicts will involve food safety issues -- as in hormone- treated beef and genetically-modified crops -- which will be difficult to solve because of European consumer resistance to new food technologies.

Despite the rows, EU and U.S. officials stress the overall strength of their trade relations and their shared commitment to launching a comprehensive new round of global trade liberalisation talks late this year. These disputes (over bananas and hormones) concern an absolutely minute fraction of transatlantic trade, which is the most important bilateral trading European Commission spokesman Nigel Gardner said.

Despite highly-publicised trade spats, EU exports to the United States rose strongly in 1998, up 13 percent to 159.6 billion euros ($169.7 billion), while imports grew nine percent to 150.7 billion euros, according to recent EU figures.

The Clinton administration has in recent months taken a much more aggressive stance in defending its trade interests, partly, European analysts believe, due to the ballooning U.S. trade deficit and congressional pressure.

After winning World Trade Organisation (WTO) cases against the EU on bananas and hormone-treated beef, the United States has moved in each case to impose hundreds of millions of dollars of sanctions on EU exports, in many cases threatening European industries that have nothing to do with the dispute. The United States won the WTO's go-ahead to slap $191 million of sanctions on selected EU exports this month after the WTO ruled the EU's banana import policies broke world trade rules.

The threatened Scottish cashmere industry was spared duties in the final list of U.S. sanctions but European bed linens, batteries and handbags will still be hit.

The United States argued that EU banana rules favour former European colonies in Africa and the Caribbean at the expense of U.S. marketing companies and Latin American producers.

Conceding defeat, the EU said last week it would not appeal but would instead talk to the United States and other trading partners about how to bring the rules into line with WTO rules.

A potentially even more explosive dispute lies in store over the EU's decade-old ban on imports of beef treated with artificial growth hormones. Washington has threatened sanctions on EU exports ranging from beef to motorcycles to processed tomatoes unless the EU lifts the ban by May 13.

The 15-nation EU had ordered scientific studies into whether hormone-treated beef poses any health risks, but now admits they will not be ready by May 13. EU and U.S. officials have discussed a temporary solution involving the EU paying compensation to the United States or labelling U.S. beef for the EU market, but so far have not reached agreement.

In a new twist, the European Commission said last week that residues of hormones had been found in some supposedly hormone- free beef from the United States. It threatened to ban imports of hormone-free U.S. beef from June 15 if the problem was not solved.

U.S. officials are frustrated over the obstacles to getting genetically-modified crops approved for sale in the EU.

Another row has broken out over EU plans to ban old aircraft fitted with noise mufflers. Washington says the ban would discriminate against U.S. manufacturers and Congress is considering banning Concorde flights in retaliation.

The EU says it still plans to go ahead with the ban this month, but U.S. officials hope to agree rules in the International Civil Aviation Organisation to replace the EU ban. ($1-.9404 Euro)


Top PreviousFront Page

Date: 26 Apr 1999 15:00:24 -0500
From: "Moliver, Nina" NMoliver@pcgus.com

Seriousness of Soy "allergy" Reports - Call for Ban and Destruction

A few weeks ago there was a note on this forum regarding the dramatic rise of soy allergies in the last year or two, since the introduction of Monsanto's Roundup Ready Soybean on the market. Here is a very serious observation from a scientist on the subject. It looks like this issue may demand immediate action for a total ban of RRS.

Nina Moliver

-----Original Message-----
From: Campbell, Jon Campbell@Rational.Com

Hi, folks,

I have been mulling over the "soy allergy" issue that we talked about briefly last month. After I did the bit of research about the GE tryptophan disaster of 1989, I went back and looked at the article about soy allergy discovered in the UK. It is much more of an immediate health concern than I had thought. The symptoms look like auto-immune disease, the same kind (albeit milder) that hit the people who took the contaminated tryptophan. We may have a public health disaster in the making.

This is what we know:

  1. Monsanto RRS has an "extra", "novel" protein, one that did not exist in nature previous to its introduction. The "novel" (meaning "new") protein is expressed by the RRS gene in the bean, as a "side effect" of making RRS resistant to RoundUp. Monsanto's arguments were that the protein was safe because it is half the size of most allergenic proteins, and they fed it to mice (or rats) that then did not die (at least in the timeframe of the study). No human testing was done, and Monsanto's Washington D.C. PR branches, aka FDA and USDA, declared it not only safe but indistinguishable from ordinary soybean.

  2. Serious allergic symptoms to soy are on the rise. The symptoms include: irritable bowel syndrome, digestive problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, headaches, lethargy, acne, and eczema.

    In the tryptophan case, the novel amino acid was metabolized and integrated into people's muscle tissue and THEN recognized by their immune systems as foreign, triggering a deadly, self-destructive auto-immune reaction called EMS.

Based on this, I believe it is not out of the question to call for a moratorium on GE foods and destruction of the current RRS crop. The potential threat to animal and human health is horrendous. If it is used for animal feed, those animals will potentially metabolize it into "novel" animal protein...

In addition, we need to find out whether the BT-toxin foods express novel proteins / amino acids / enzymes, and whether there are any reports of "allergic" symptoms to BT crop products.

Regards and thanks
Jon

------------------------------------------------------------------------
eGroup home: http://www.eGroups.com/group/earthsave-boston    www.eGroups.com - Simplifying group communications