Date: 30 Apr 1999 02:50:14 -0500
From: email@example.com (jim mcnulty)
Friday April 30, 1:15 am Eastern Time
SYDNEY, April 30 (Reuters) - Two major international groups have applied for approval for the sale in Australia and New Zealand of 10 genetically engineered crops.
The applications, by U.S.-based Monsanto Co (MTC - news) and Swiss-based Novartis AG , covering potatoes, corn and sugarbeets, have been made just before an April 30 deadline.
Applications have been lodged with the government authority, the Australia New Zealand Food Authority, and are in addition to eight applications for engineered crops received by the authority since 1997.
Biotechnology companies had been given nine months notice for modified foods to be assessed as safe by the food authority by April 30 if they were not to become illegal for sale from mid-May.
By the end of last month only Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybeans and Ingard cottonseed oil had been approved.
Australian and New Zealand authorities have decided to give interim approval to modified foods, while their safety was assessed by ANZFA, if applications were lodged by April 30 and the foods had safety clearance from an overseas authority.
The Monsanto and Novartis applications follow applications by Hoechst AG-owned (quote from Yahoo! UK & Ireland: HOEG.F) AgrEvo for herbicide-resistant canola in March and a herbicide resistant corn two weeks ago. Australia should wake up to the fact that gene technology and plant breeding is happening at a rapid rate...otherwise Monsanto public affairs manager Nic Tydens told Reuters on Friday.
Monsanto's seven applications covered four different crops, disease and insect resistant potatoes, insect and herbicide resistant corn, herbicide resistant cotton and herbicide resistant sugarbeet.
Novartis applications are for two types of corn genetically modified for insect resistance. The corn is grown in Canada and the U.S., with one variety also grown in the European Union, and are approved for foods in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Date: 30 Apr 1999 02:50:48 -0500
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (jim mcnulty)
April 30, 1999 © Copyright 1999, Reuters
LONDON, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation : Britain's Labour government on Thursday fought to stamp out reports it was split over the thorny issue of genetically modified (GM) food technology. There is no division in the the government. That is very, very unfair and Food Safety Minister Jeff Rooker told parliament's cross-party Environment Audit Committee.
Norman Baker of the minority Liberal Democrats, a member of the committee, said Rooker and Environment Minister Michael Meacher were proceeding with care over gung-ho for the biotech
Mad cow disease, the human equivalent of which has claimed about 30 British lives, has made people deeply conscious of food safety issues and sensitive to Meacher said. But among Labour ministers themselves there appear to be different views on the GM issue.
On Tuesday, Cabinet Office minister Jack Cunningham said if all regulatory hurdles were cleared, commercial planting of GM crops could begin in Britain next year. I certainly believe we are not
English Nature, a government advisory body, has called for a five-year ban on the commercial release of GM crops to allow more research on their environmental impact. It says concrete research will not be published until well into the next century.
Blair on Wednesday refused to ban testing. If people study properly the scientific evidence I think they would have to he said.
Meacher confirmed he would replace 10 of 13 experts on the government's Advisory Committee on Releases into the Environment as required by public standards rules, because of concern about their links with the biotechnology industry.
He said membership of the committee should be restricted to scientists because of the complexity of the subject matter, but Rooker said he strongly believed lay people should be included to question the scientists' judgment.
Rooker said that while GM crops -- resistant to bad weather, disease and able to grow with less water -- could help tackle malnutrition in the developing world, the he said. It is not the government's place to
When heavy media coverage fuelled public fears over GM foods in February, Blair said Britain was in danger of falling behind international competitors in the revolutionary science of the 21st
Date: 30 Apr 1999 11:46:58 -0500
By Patrick White
QUEBEC CITY (Reuters) - News that a Canadian biotechnology company has cloned goat triplets prompted warnings Tuesday that the technology involved could lead to the cloning of humans.
The company, Montreal-based Nexia Biotechnologies Inc., said Monday that the cloning was a first step in its plan to produce spider silk in goat's milk and turn it into a super-strong material for medical use.
The material, called BioSteel, could help in repairing broken limbs and torn tissue.
The three goats, Danny, Arnold and Clint, were born a month ago and are now living at a McGill University farm. BioSteel spider product development program. The cloned goats were produced using a technique similar to said Jeffrey Turner, Nexia president and a former genetics professor.
The development spurred admiration and fear in Canada. said Margaret Somerville, ethics specialist at Montreal's McGill University.
Somerville said the experiment involving the triplet goats had extraordinarily important new piece of medical .
She said, however, she would have a problem with the research if it was not done on a very limited scale for a very clearly justified purpose, and only with animals. Where I do have a major concern is that we do not transfer this technology to humans. That is not right. I believe it is inherently she told Reuters.
A Quebec member of Canada's Parliament, Christiane Gagnon, pressed Health Minister Allan Rock Tuesday to quickly enact a ban on human cloning.
Rock responded that a few years ago a voluntary moratorium had He said he intended to introduce a bill later this year, but he did not specify what the bill would entail.
The three young goats all have exactly the same genetic makeup, or DNA. The cloning that we have now proven in goats will significantly speed up our product development program by using the Turner said.
The company now plans to clone another goat that will carry a spider gene in its chromosomes. Spider silk proteins will be recovered from the goat's milk and processed into BioSteel. Goats were chosen because they produce milk faster than cows and sheep.
The company said the spider silk gene worked well in cell culture to produce silk, and did not show any detrimental effects even when produced in large amounts. It said the process had an efficiency rate approaching 100 percent.
Turner told Reuters in an interview the company would begin breeding thousands of goats if cloning with the spider silk gene is successful. Yes, but we are not going to clone thousands of goats. We will not use cloning to propagate the species to build up production. he said.
Last year, Nexia produced Canada's first genetically altered goat, named Willow, as part of a program to develop life-saving human proteins.
Turner said BioSteel is widely recognized as the strongest, toughest fiber known. With a tensile strength of 300,000 pounds (136,000 kg) per square inch, it is said to be stronger and lighter than steel and synthetic, petroleum-based polymers.
Nexia said the silk, once it is perfected, could also be used in aerospace and engineering projects. Nexia is developing Biosteel spider silk to satisfy urgent medical needs for high-performance biomaterials used in artificial tendons or ligaments, prostheses, tissue repair, wound healing and super- Turner said.
Date: 30 Apr 1999 15:58:52 -0500
From: email@example.com (jim mcnulty)
April 29, 1999
© (Copyright 1999), _____via IntellX_____
Biotechnology company [ Monsanto ] has won this year's Roger Award for the "worst transnational corporation operating in New Zealand". Dunedin Mayor Sukhi Turner was one of the judges and presented the awards at the Trade Union Centre in Christchurch.
The awards are organised by Corso, Gatt Watchdog, and the Campaign against Foreign Control of Aotearoa. Ms Turner said the dynamo driving Monsanto's genetic engineering work was the desire to privatise the world's food gene lines through international patent rights, and the genetic manipulation of agricultural seeds and crops to increase profits. Fletcher Challenge and Tranzrail also won Rogers.
Date: 1 May 1999 12:28:16 -0500
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (jim mcnulty)
© Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 1999
For full text and graphics visit:
LONDON, UK, April 28, 1999 - The world's two largest food production companies are withdrawing their acceptance of genetically modified foodstuffs. Foods giant Unilever UK said Tuesday it would phase out genetically engineered foods, a move that was closely followed by a similar announcement by Nestle UK tonight.
Unilever, an Anglo-Dutch firm, sells over 1,000 brands of foods through 300 subsidiary companies in 88 countries world-wide with products on sale in a further 70 countries. Nestle, headquartered in Switzerland, is the world's largest food production company with 495 factories around the world.
The announcement by Nestle UK has major implications for the company's international production system, as most of its centralised production facilities produce for the entire European market and not for the UK alone.
The announcements are in response to continued demonstrations by European consumers of a strong resistance to foods containing genetically modified crops. In February, an unprecedented wave of debate on genetic technologies in agriculture swept the country, putting the government and biotechnology firms firmly on the defensive. Fears were founded on research that showed experimental rats had been harmed by eating modified potatoes.
Greenpeace spokesperson Benedikt Haerlin said the Nestle and Unilever announcements represent a major victory for European citizens. "When Monsanto's first GE (genetically engineered) soya beans were shipped to Europe Nestle, Unilever and Monsanto told us there was no way to stop having GE ingredients in our food. Three years later they have learned that there is no way to ignore the concerns and demands of the majority of consumers," said Haerlin.
"With Nestle and Unilever, the two biggest food producers in the world, have now broken ranks with international agro-chemical companies like by Monsanto, Du Pont/Pioneer, Novartis and AgrEvo and started a stampede out of GE food," said Haerlin.
The UK's Iceland Stores is opposed to the introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods and has banned all GM ingredients from their own-brand products. Other supermarkets have followed Iceland's lead. Marks and Spencer's own-brand products will be GM free by the end of June 1999.
Charles, the Prince of Wales, has come out against genetically engineered crops, saying, "I am not convinced we know enough about the long-term consequences for human health and the environment of releasing plants (or, heaven forbid, animals) bred in this way."
"I suspect that planting herbicide resistant crops will lead to more chemicals being used on our fields, not fewer. But this isn't the whole story," the Prince said. "Such sterile fields will offer little or no food or shelter to wildlife, and there is already evidence that the genes for herbicide resistance can spread to wild relatives of crop plants, leaving us with weeds resistant to weedkiller."
Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth UK has criticized U.S. biotech giant Monsanto for trying to use the law to deter public debate and protest over genetically modified food.
Monsanto has obtained an injunction against six named defendants. The company asked the High Court April 19 to order the defendants to hand over a mailing list of recipients of a "Handbook For Action." The Handbook, which outlines ways of protesting against genetically engineered foods, is believed to have been sent to public figures including Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prince Charles and the Pope. Monsanto's intention may be to target any individual or organisation who might be held to have "encouraged" direct action against genetically modified (GM) crops, by for example, publishing details of trial sites, Friends of the Earth believes.
In the United States such legal action is known as a SLAPP (Strategic Action Against Public Participation) lawsuit, a tactic sometimes used by large companies facing environmental protests.
Friends of the Earth would consider such an order a gross intrusion of civil liberties and "one which would bring our system of justice into disrepute," the group said in a statement.
Tony Juniper, policy and campaigns director of Friends of the Earth, said, "Monsanto have lost the public arguments over GM crops, and are now resorting to legal strong-arm tactics in response. I'm not the least bit surprised, given Monsanto's track record. They would be better advised to accept the failure of their marketing strategy and to accept the opinion of the British public who do not want GM food foisted upon them."
The first farm to take part in the UK government's farm scale trials of GM crops may be forced to plough up seed that it planted over the Easter weekend. Friends of the Earth is calling on the government to suspend farm scale trials of genetically modified crops at Lushill Farm, in Hannington, near Swindon, Wiltshire following revelations that AgrEvo, the company undertaking the trials, appears to have broken the law by not informing local people of its plans. AgrEvo, now plans to notify the local public. But it has already planted GM seed on the farm and that the law requires GM seed firms to notify the public prior to planting.
Date: 1 May 1999 12:28:49 -0500
From: email@example.com (jim mcnulty)
From:Enviromental News Service.
St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. said Thursday that it will wait for the results of ongoing studies before marketing Terminator seeds that grow plants with sterile seeds. The widely controversial new biotechnology would require farmers to purchase new seeds for each planting instead of being able to harvest seeds for the next year's crop. The studies are examining the environmental, economic and social effects of Terminator seeds. "We believe that the concerns about gene protection technologies should be heard and carefully considered before any decisions are made to commercialize them," the company said in a statement.
Philip Angell, Monsanto's director of communications, said the company had taken its new position, "...because the reaction to Terminator in a lot of different quarters in many countries was clearly becoming the dominant discussion about biotechnology." Monsanto is only one of several companies developing the technology, which is several years from reaching the marketplace.
Date: 1 May 1999 16:00:38 -0500
From: "Craig Winters" firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Ban-GEF Folks,
The article below is great news for the movement worldwide to fight the invasion of genetically engineered foods into the food supply. Nestle UK and Unilever UK are withdrawing their support of genetically engineered foods. It is clear that consumer's demands can undermine the power of large corporations.
As The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods grows in the United States, Congress, President Clinton, Vice-President Gore and promoters of genetically engineered foods like Monsanto and Dupont will discover that, like British consumers, Americans are rejecting this experimental technology. Consumers worldwide are refusing to be treated like guinea pigs in a giant laboratory experiment!
If you visit the web site of The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods at http://www.thecampaign.org you can download a form letter to mail your Congressional Representatives and President Clinton. Within a couple weeks, there will be individualized letters available for all 435 House of Representatives members and all 100 U.S. Senators.
The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods
6920 Roosevelt Way NE #277, Seattle, WA 98115
Tel: 425-771-4049 Fax: 603-825-5841
E-mail: email@example.com Web Site: http://www.thecampaign.org
Date: 1 May 1999 23:10:11 -0500
From: MichaelP firstname.lastname@example.org
[Thanks - Lynette]
By Vandana Shiva,
THE HINDU, Saturday, May 01, 1999
(The writer is Director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, New Delhi.)
OVER THE past few years, Monsanto, a chemical firm, has positioned itself as an agricultural company through control over seed - the first link in the food chain. Monsanto now wants to control water, the very basis of life.
In 1996, Monsanto bought the biotechnology assets of Agracetus, a subsidiary of W. R. Grace, for $150 million and Calgene, a California-based plant biotechnology company for $340 million. In 1997, Monsanto acquired Holden seeds, the Brazilian seed company, Sementes Agrocerus and Asgrow. In 1998, it purchased Cargill's seed operations for $1.4 billion and bought Delta and Pine land for $1.82 billion and Dekalb for $2.3 billion.
In India, Monsanto has bought MAHYCO, Maharashtra Hybrid Company, EID Parry and Rallis. Mr. Jack Kennedy of Monsanto has said,
"we propose to penetrate the Indian agricultural sector in a big way. MAHYCO is a good vehicle."
According to Mr. Robert Farley of Monsanto,
"what you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it's really a consolidation of the entire food chain. Since water is as central to food production as seed is, and without water life is not possible, Monsanto is now trying to establish its control over water. During 1999, Monsanto plans to launch a new water business, starting with India and Mexico since both these countries are facing water shortages."
Monsanto is seeing a new business opportunity because of the emerging water crisis and the funding available to make this vital resource available to people. As it states in its strategy paper,
"first, we believe that discontinuities (either major policy changes or major trendline breaks in resource quality or quantity) are likely, particularly in the area of water and we will be well-positioned via these businesses to profit even more significantly when these discontinuities occur. Second, we are exploring the potential of non-conventional financing (NGOs, World Bank, USDA, etc.) that may lower our investment or provide local country business-building resources." Thus, the crisis of pollution and depletion of water resources is viewed by Monsanto as a business opportunity. For Monsanto, "sustainable development" means the conversion of an ecological crisis into a market of scarce resources. "The business logic of sustainable development is that population growth and economic development will apply increasing pressure on natural resource markets. These pressures and the world's desire to prevent the consequences of these pressures, if unabated, will create vast economic opportunity - when we look at the world through the lens of sustainability, we are in a position to see current and foresee impending-resource market trends and imbalances that create market needs. We have further focussed this lens on the resource market of water and land. These are the markets that are most relevant to us as a life sciences company committed to delivering food, health and hope to the world, and there are markets in which there are predictable sustainability challenges and therefore opportunities to create business value."
Monsanto plans to earn revenues of $420 million and a net income of $63 million by 2008 from its water business in India and Mexico. By 2010, about 2.5 billion people in the world are projected to lack access to safe drinking water. At least 30 per cent of the population in China, India, Mexico and the U.S. is expected to face severe water stress. By 2025, the supply of water in India will be 700 cubic km per year, while the demand is expected to rise to 1,050 units.
Control over this scarce and vital resource will, of course, be a source of guaranteed profits. As John Bastin of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development has said,
"Water is the last infrastructure frontier for private investors."
Monsanto estimates that providing safe water is a several billion dollar market. It is growing at 25 to 30 per cent in rural communities and is estimated to rise to $300 million by 2000 in India and Mexico. This is the amount currently spent by NGOs for water development projects and local government water supply schemes and Monsanto hopes to tap these public finances for providing water to rural communities and convert water supply into a market. The Indian Government spent over $1.2 billion between 1992 and 1997 for various water projects, while the World Bank spent $900 million.
Monsanto would like to divert this public money from public supply of water to establishing the company's water monopoly. Since in rural areas the poor cannot pay, in Monsanto's view capturing a piece of the value created for this segment will require the creation of a non-traditional mechanism targeted at building relationships with local government and NGOs as well as through mechanisms such as microcredit.
Monsanto also plans to penetrate the Indian market for safe water by establishing a joint venture with Eureka Forbes/Tata, which controls 70 per cent of the UV Technologies. To enter the water business, Monsanto has acquired an equity stake in Water Health International (WHI) with an option to buy the rest of the business. The joint venture with Tata/Eureka Forbes is supposed to provide market access and fabricate, distribute, service water systems; Monsanto will leverage their brand equity in the Indian market. The joint venture route has been chosen so that "Monsanto can achieve management control over local operations but not have legal consequences due to local issues." Another new business that Monsanto is starting in 1999 in Asia is aquaculture. It will build on the foundation of Monsanto's agricultural biotechnology and capabilities for fish feed and fish breeding. By 2008, Monsanto expects to earn revenues of $1.6 billion and a net income of $266 million from its aquaculture business. While Monsanto's entry into aquaculture is through its sustainable development activity, industrial aquaculture has been established to be highly non-sustainable. The Supreme Court has banned industrial shrimp farming because of its catastrophic consequences. However, the Government, under pressure from the aquaculture industry, is attempting to change the laws to undo the court order. At the same time, attempts are being made by the World Bank to privatise water resources and establish trade in water rights. These trends will suit Monsanto well in establishing its water and aquaculture businesses.
The Bank has already offered to help. As the Monsanto strategy paper states:
"We are particularly enthusiastic about the potential of partnering with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank to joint venture projects in developing markets. The IFC is eager to work with Monsanto to commercialise sustainability opportunities and would bring both investment capital and on-the-ground capabilities to our efforts."
Monsanto's water and aquaculture businesses, like its seed business, aimed at controlling the vital resources necessary for survival, converting them into a market and using public finances to underwrite the investments. A more efficient conversion of public goods into private profit would be difficult to find.
Water is, however, too basic for life and survival and the right to it is the right to life. Privatisation and commodification of water are a threat to the right to life. India has had major movements to conserve and share water. The pani panchayat and the water conservation movement in Maharashtra and the Tarun Bharat Sangh in Alwar have regenerated and equitably shared water as a commons property.
This is the only way everyone will have the right to water and nobody will have the right to abuse and overuse water. Water is a commons and must be managed as a commons. It cannot be controlled and sold by a life sciences corporation that peddles in death.
*** 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. ***
Date: 1 May 1999 23:41:44 -0500
From: "Renu Namjoshi" email@example.com
From: Campbell, Jon Campbell@Rational.Com
Subject: FW: 10 reasons to ban GE foods - please post on ban-gef
Jon is having technical difficulties posting items on Ban-Gef so I am posting this for him
I've been working for some time in creating a list of "10 reasons to stop genetic engineering." Here's what I have so far; some of them overlap a little, but I guess that's OK. Please let me know what you think; I think we should develop a flyer that makes these (and perhaps other) points, and then have a fact sheet with elaboration of each one for people who are interested.
What is needed to stop GE/GM foods is a mass movement. To build a mass movement we need fine literature that gets the word out in simple, succinct form, so that non-technically-trained people can easily understand it, act on it, and become natural leaders in their communities. That is what will stop this absolutely crazed assault on the biosphere, rural economies, and human health by the multinationals.
Think of this document as a starting point and add to it, make it easier to read, more understandable, and scientifically easily defensible (peer-reviewed references are always best for this).
By Campbell, Jon Campbell@Rational.Com
Date: 2 May 1999 07:19:48 -0500
From: Colleen Robison-Spencer firstname.lastname@example.org
By Rick Weiss,
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 2, 1999; Page A26
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company
Private investigators working for Monsanto, the St. Louis-based agricultural company, trespassed on a Canadian farmer's property and surreptitiously obtained samples of his harvested seeds from a local mill to gather evidence for a lawsuit against him, according to newly released court documents and interviews with company officials and others.
The revelations have reignited a bitter controversy over Monsanto's ongoing pursuit of farmers who have allegedly saved and replanted the company's high-tech, genetically engineered seeds after harvest. Monsanto has a policy of precluding growers from saving seeds from those crops, demanding instead that they buy fresh seed every year.
The farmer, Percy Schmeiser of Bruno, Saskatchewan, is one of hundreds of growers that Monsanto has tracked down in the United States and Canada during the past year for allegedly violating the company's ban on saving the patented seeds.
But while the vast majority of farmers approached by Monsanto have paid fines and agreed to allow the company to inspect their fields for years to come, Schmeiser last year became something of a folk hero in Canada by fighting back against the multinational giant. He has gained the support of environmental groups and others around the world who oppose corporate restrictions on seed saving, which many subsistence farmers depend upon for survival.
Monsanto claims that Schmeiser knowingly grew, harvested and replanted seeds of the company's genetically enhanced "Roundup Ready" canola. The variety is tolerant to Roundup, Monsanto's popular weedkiller, allowing farmers to spray the herbicide freely without worrying about harming the crop itself.
Schmeiser has claimed that if any Roundup Ready canola was growing on his land, it was the result of cross pollination from neighbors' fields or from seeds blowing off other trucks after the previous year's harvest.
Monsanto's case is based largely upon DNA tests conducted on plants from Schmeiser's fields in 1998. According to the company, those tests prove that fully 900 acres were planted with Roundup Ready canola -- far more than could be expected from windblown contamination.
The company gathered the plant samples after obtaining a court order granting permission to go onto Schmeiser's land. But court documents filed April 22 by Schmeiser's lawyer, Terry Zakreski of Saskatoon, make public for the first time some of the questionable evidence-gathering tactics used by Monsanto before it was granted that court order.
In testimony filed with the Federal Court of Canada -- part of Zakreski's motion to dismiss the case -- a Monsanto representative reports that private investigators hired by the company in 1997 trespassed on Schmeiser's property to snip plant samples for DNA testing.
Moreover, according to the documents and interviews, a Monsanto representative approached an employee of the Humboldt Flour Mill, where Schmeiser brought his harvested seeds for cleaning, and asked for a sample of his harvest for DNA testing. The mill's manager at the time, Gary Pappenpoot, complied after checking with his boss -- a decision, he said Friday, he now regrets.
"Basically you've got trespassing and you've got theft," Schmeiser said. "As my wife said, if I went down to Monsanto's headquarters in St. Louis and trespassed or took a piece of paper out of that building I'm sure I'd end up in jail."
Philip Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications, disputed the allegations against the company. Despite the sworn testimony, he said, it is still not completely clear that the investigators in 1997 actually crossed Schmeiser's property line. Even if they did, he said, trespassing is neither a criminal nor a civil offense in Saskatchewan -- a legal interpretation Zakreski disputes.
Angell also said -- and Pappenpoot confirmed -- that the Humboldt mill routinely saved samples of farmers' seeds in case questions arose later about contamination or mix-ups. Angell said Monsanto attorneys were now trying to determine whether those saved samples technically still belonged to Schmeiser or to the mill, which would then have the right to share them with anyone it chose to.
In any case, Angell said, neither the disputed 1997 DNA test results nor the flour mill samples were used by the company to get its court order for the more extensive field testing it conducted in 1998. The company believes that those early tests would have been admissible in court, he said, but they did not meet the company's high ethical standards.
Angell said Monsanto now has a written policy that precludes its hired investigators from trespassing to gather evidence.
Date: 2 May 1999 09:13:36 -0500
From: Jason Boehk email@example.com
I have posted the two items from Food & Water because, even though they are a few months old, I feel they ask some important questions about our work. As a volunteer who's already collected hundreds of signatures for Mothers for Natural Law, I am really happy to see that in their latest newsletter, they are now calling on a five-year MORATORIUM on all genetically altered foods. I feel that this change really strengthens their moral position and underscores how dangerous these experimental foods are.
There are at least two other national petition campaigns calling for mandatory labeling. While I realize that the backers of these petitions would prefer to see these experimental foods banned, and utilize the labeling issue as a first step toward consumer education (still largely non-existent in the U.S.), I wonder if this strategy will ultimately backfire by conceding the inevitability of the gene-food invasion?
Given the obvious corruption and complicity of agencies such as the FDA, EPA, and USDA, is mandatory labeling and safety-testing the best we can hope for, in spite of the fact that eminent scientists say there can be NO testing capable of detecting all the potential new toxins? In spite of the well-documented genetic contamination of the environment that's already taking place?
One more thought: the citizens of the U.K. and the citizens of India deserve hearty commendation for their courage, hard work, and good sense! They are an example to free thinkers all over the world. The news of U.K. grocery stores pulling stealth food from their shelves is terrific.
I just want to give one "heads up", even though you're probably already vigilant. The censored FOX-TV video investigation about rBGH milk--which I have seen, thanks to another member of this list--documents how immediately after the introduction of rBGH milk in 1994/1995 the grocery stores in Florida (U.S.) promised their customers that THEY WOULD NOT KNOWINGLY SELL RBGH MILK. In fact, for a while, they probably did not sell pumped-up milk. However, as soon as the consumer furor over rBGH milk died down, the same grocers began to quietly slip rBGH milk into their stores. This is fully documented by the two excellent reporters Steve Wilson and Jane Acre
I think it's important to know about this precedent, because it's great to see this dramatic response from these retailers now, but we know that Monsanto and other gene-tweakers will be churning away in the background to lobby those U.K. retailers at the first sign of opportunity.
So let's keep the pressure on!
Date: 2 May 1999 09:16:36 -0500
From: Jason Boehk firstname.lastname@example.org
Food & Water Journal, Winter 1999, page 10.
(802) 563-3300 to subscribe.
The mainstream anti-food-biotechnology movement, like much of the environmental movement today, is languishing in the "define the problem" realm without so much as a glimmer of activist inspiration. They continue to trot out one horror story or scenario after another while all but ignoring the kind of strategic thinking and grassroots activism that is essential in solving the problem. It's almost as if they refuse to allow their already well-documented and rational opposition to Monsanto's destructive ways to move from their cozy think-tank environs to the streets and the marketplace where the real battle must be waged.
Take, for example, the September/October (1998) issue of The Ecologist. In a densely-packed 75 pages special issue entitled "The Monsanto Files," nearly a dozen writers and activists effectively dissect the Monsanto Corporation's abysmal health and environmental track record. Unfortunately, however, the editors demonstrate that their bark is worse than their bite by beginning the issue with an embarrassingly wimpy "open letter" to Monsanto's CEO, Robert Shapiro.
The letter, evidently penned by The Ecologist's two editors, the nephew/uncle team of Edward and Zac Goldsmith, the brother and son, respectively, of the recently deceased billionaire British capitalist, James Goldsmith, is basically a disempowered six-paragraph whimper that, in effect, simply asks Monsanto "to listen" to their collective biotechnology concerns. That's right, listen.
Citing a Monsanto public relations campaign that calls for an open discussion and features the tag line, "Food biotechnology is a matter of opinions... you should hear all of them," The Ecologist editors bring their letter to a snoring conclusion in the form of this question to Monsanto: "Do you really believe we should hear them all?"
So this is what it comes down to? After 75 pages of brutal documentation of corporate crimes against the health and well-being of the planet and its species, all The Ecologist editors can ask for that the Monsanto Corporation lend them an ear. Yikes.
The issue should not be about trying to get an illegitimate corporate fiction in the name of Monsanto to "be fair" and listen to us whine, but rather, putting an immediate halt to their very destructive actions, even if it means initiating a corporate death penalty campaign against them. Besides, even if Shapiro decided to sit down and "listen," would that suddenly make his corporation's crimes forgivable or understandable? Of course not.
But it's this kind of muddle-headed activism that continues to infect so much of the environmental movement. Folks seem to be afraid of passion, afraid of empowering themselves, and afraid of standing up to the illegitimate power of corporations. And we must be thoughtful and strategic in what we're asking for from our corporate opponents. Do we want them to listen to us, or do we want them to immediately stop their life-threatening practices? It's about more than semantics. It's about effectiveness.
[note: on page 11 of this same issue, there is a feature titled "Let Them Eat Humble Pie", describing the exploits of the San Francisco-based Biotech Baking Brigade.]
Date: 2 May 1999 09:18:17 -0500
From: Jason Boehk email@example.com
from Food & Water Journal, Fall 1998, page 9.
An excellent resource for pure food fighters. For subscription information, call (802) 563-3300.
Over the last several years our offices have been bombarded with information from local and national groups calling for the "right to know" about one toxic assault after another. There are, for example, the New Jersey folks who are begging for the right-to-know when the chemical plants or incinerators emit too many toxins; the Maine folks who want the right-to-know when toxic pesticides are used on their food; the labor folks who want employees at toxic facilities to have the right-to-know about the toxic chemicals they're being forced to work around; and there's even a national right-to-know clearinghouse that will help you fight for whatever you think you've got a right-to-know. It seems like everyone wants the right-to-know.
While we're certainly not opposed to knowing about all these health and ecological problems, or putting critical information in the hands of the public, we believe it's time to begin focusing on our responsibility to stop all of these known toxic injustices. Think about it. How much more information do we need to know about the toxic emissions of garbage incinerators before we make the urgently necessary commitment to ban these pollution-belching beasts? Or, how about carcinogenic pesticides? Nuclear pollution? They should all be banned based on what we know about them now, today, this minute. And to those who can't get over their fixation on knowing more of the gory details, I promise you'll get to know a hell of a lot more about them when we start dismantling their toxic legacies.
Strategically, the right-to-know contingent of the environmental movement reminds me of the plethora of groups that make merely "watching" a problem their primary mission, so much so that they put the word in their names. You know, like Pesticide Watch, Congress Watch, Organics Watch, etc. To all of them I say: Stop watching, already, and do something about it!
When the language we choose to identify ourselves and our mission is muted and dull, calling for such inanities as the right-to-know and to watch corporate and individual practices that we already know are unhealthy and ecologically destructive, then we are destined to fail. The public will not be galvanized by such trivialities, and the corporate elite will not be threatened by them.
The arrogance of mainstream environmentalists is always demonstrated by their supposed need to keep "educating the public," presupposing that the public doesn't have a clue about what a health and ecological mess we're in. Who, I must wonder, do they think is getting all the cancers that now impact one out of every three of us? Yes, the public knows, but what the public is looking for is a reason to act, a spark, some inspiration, a way out of the mess. And that's certainly not going to come from the right-to-know and watch folks.
Date: 2 May 1999 10:01:49 -0500
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (jim mcnulty)
April 30th 99, (UK) Farmer's Guardian.
Animal feed companies are preparing for the possibility that major retailors will start to demand that livestock are fed animal feed free of genetically modified material.
It follows comments made by Food and Farming Minister Lord Donoughe last week that consumers were becoming increasingly concerned about the effects GM animal feed and the decision On Tuesday by two of Unilever's subsidiary companies and Tesco to remove GM ingredients from it's products.
Industry trade body UKASTA said it was awaiting developments to see whether there would be calls for to establish a market for GM free animal feed.
Jim Reed, UKASTA director general, said there would be considerable repercussions to the industry if the market split, adding that it would place extra emphasis on feed millers and suppliers importing material from third countries.
Mr Reed said he had been holding talks with senior Ministry of Agriculture civil servants and retailors over what was possible , but stressed that it was important to wait and see the outcome of the European Commission's proposed regulations on novel animal feeds.
Jim Reed, UKASTA director general, said that if there was demand for GMfree animal feed, it woul;d lead to additional premium. "Takes soya for instance. In some diets it is possible to avoid soya, but in a situation were you cannot it could be 40% more expensive, adding between 5 and 10% to the overall feed price"
Lord Donohue stressed there was no evidence of carry over of genetic material from animal feed, to the food chain. But he said purchasers had a right to know whether animal feed contained material from Gm crops such as maize and soya.
"The UK Government is pressing the Commision to submit to the Council it's proposed regulation on animal feeds or, in it's abscence, specific labelling rules which would indicate the presence of GM materials in a fair and consistant way, throughout the European Union.
Tesco said this week that under it's code of Practice some GM animal feed, such as unprocessed maize, had been banned, but that it had no plans at present to close the door on other ones.
Spokeman Simon Soffe said ongoing talks with suppliers were taking place, adding the company was listening to customer concerns.
The retaler said it was removing gm ingredients from products "wherever is it practical, and would provide options by adding to it's organic range.It is currently working with Greenpeace to seek reliable sources of genuinly GM free ingredients.
Unilever said its companies "Birds Eye and Vanden Bergh foods would use GM free ingredients where ever possible, prompting enviromentalists to claim that the decision would have world wide impacts on farmers growing GM crops.
Cabinet Office Minister Jack Cunningham told the commons enviroemntal audit committee on Tuesday that the Government did not believe a five year moratorium on commercial planting of GM crops was either justified or necessary. Dr Cunningham said he would shortly announce new moves to improve the regulations of GM foods.
"Within a few weeks, we will be publishing the results of a consultation and I would be very surprised if we were not to recommend further changes."
Date: 2 May 1999 10:33:51 -0500
From: MichaelP email@example.com
For a change some good news to rejoice about. But there's still lots to do !!
By GEOFFREY LEAN, INDEPENDENT (London) May 2
It was an extraordinary scene, a fitting start to the week that surely marks the beginning of the end for genetically modified foods in Britain. At nine o'clock last Monday morning two of the most powerful men in the global food industry turned up at a pressure group's door.
Richard Greenhalgh, chairman of Unilever UK, and Michel Ogrizek, the international head of corporate affairs for the giant multinational - the world's largest food manufacturing company - came to Greenpeace's offices in Islington, north London, in what appears to have been a last-ditch attempt to make peace. But next day the company had to admit defeat, announcing that it would stop using GM ingredients in its products in Britain.
The announcement started a week-long stampede by leading companies, all household names. The speed and suddenness of the flight from "Frankenstein foods" has surprised everyone, humiliated the Government and provided the most spectacular example to date of consumer power. Its repercussions will reverberate far beyond this country: it could prove a turning point in the battle over genetic modification worldwide.
Unilever insists that Monday's visit was just "part of a general ongoing discussion in regard to issues on genetically modified organisms". But Greenpeace recounts how it received a call from Mr Greenhalgh's office late the previous Friday, requesting an urgent meeting. It says that the company was "trying to resist going GM-free".
"Their suggestion was that some sort of full debate or discussion might be valuable," says Peter Melchett, Greenpeace's executive director. "We said that things had moved beyond that point."
Up to then Unilever had been one of the most committed proponents of GM foods - and even in defeat it insisted that its announcement did not "change our long-held belief in the potential of modern technology, including the genetic modification of food ingredients." It went on: "This technology offers huge future benefit to customers, but the realisation of this depends on winning full consumer trust and confidence."
It's right, at least, about the last part - as it knows only too well. For the giant company was forced into its reluctant volte-face by an unprecedented onslaught from its own customers. Bemused executives describe helplines swamped by worried and angry consumers since early this year. Worse, sales of its GM soya product, Beanfeast, have slumped precipitously. Some industry sources calculate they have fallen by 80 per cent; Unilever privately says it is "nearer 50 per cent". (The company has now promised to make it GM-free within two months.)
It is not suffering alone. Sainsbury will withdraw its GM tomato puree - the first genetically modified product to be introduced in Britain - from its shelves by June. Made from tomatoes modified to rot more slowly, it used to outsell its GM-free rival by two to one: now, says the company, "our customers do not want it".
No wonder Unilever's surprise announcement opened the floodgates. The next day Nestle, another of the world's biggest food companies, announced that it was phasing out GM products as fast as possible. The day after, Cadbury followed suit. Meanwhile Tesco, Britain's largest supermarket chain, said it would remove GM ingredients from its own- brand foods, joining Sainsbury, Safeway, Asda and Somerfield. And the Co-op will tomorrow announce changes that will make its products GM free as well.
When these phase-outs are complete, no major supermarket brands will continue to contain GM ingredients and - after last week's Unilever, Nestle and Cadbury announcements - many other foods will be free of them too. It's an extraordinary reversal from the rapid, silent, expansion of GM foods - from nothing to 60 per cent of the products on supermarket shelves in less than three years. And it has put environmental activists into the unfamiliar position of extolling market forces.
Those same forces will spread the effects of last week's events worldwide. For these enormously wealthy companies (Unilever's turnover alone is more than £35bn) will now start scouring the world for GM-free soya and maize, raising their prices and providing a powerful incentive to farmers to plant them. This could tip the balance in the many countries that have been facing a close-fought decision on whether to introduce GM crops: some analysts expect that many farmers will now abandon them even in the United States, their greatest stronghold.
The speed of the reversal has taken everyone by surprise - even the pressure groups which campaigned for many months before the issue caught fire early this year. What made the difference, both they and the industry say, was press coverage, including the Independent on Sunday's campaign.
And no one has been more surprised by the Government, which is now left - together with Monsanto and other bioscience companies - as just about the only supporter of GM foods. Last week's events are a major blow to its credibility, and to the personal authority of the Prime Minister who went out of his way, at the height of the controversy earlier this year, to stress his confidence in them.
This is the Government's greatest failure yet to read the public mood. Right up until last week - and in some cases even now - senior ministers were convinced that the GM foods controversy was, as Mr Blair privately told Labour MPs, just "a flash in the pan". How could an administration which is usually so successful at catching the tides of public opinion, have got so out of step?
The answer lies in Mr Blair's similarity to Tony Benn. In the 1960s Mr Benn embodied the Wilson government's faith that the "white-heat of technology" was the answer to Britain's economic problems. Mr Blair and other modernisers, like Peter Mandelson, enthusiastically adopted this Old Labour belief. They became convinced that the country's future depended on knowledge-based industries, and equated biotechnology with them.
Thus GM foods became integrated into the Blairite "project": to express concerns about them was to doubt New Labour. Blinkered by this conviction, the Government failed to spot the many early signs of impending public revolt .
It has been a damaging failure, for the episode has crystallised some of the strongest popular concerns about the Government - that it is arrogant, overinfluenced by big business and oversubservient to the United States.
Ministers (with one or two honourable exceptions) have haughtily dismissed concerns about the effects of the crops on health and on the environment, parroting the reassurances of official scientific committees who have a majority of members with links to the food and biotechnology industries. And growing anti-Americanism and hostility to multinational companies has been stoked by the US decision to mix GM and ordinary soya (so that they could not be distinguished or separated) before shipping them to Europe; by Monsanto's heavy-handedness; and by the evangelical zeal with which the Clinton administration has been pushing GM foods.
But even within the White House there are signs of concern, if not change. A few days before the Unilever announcement, at the start of an official lunch in New York, my neighbour - one of the Clinton administration's most senior environmental policymakers - turned to me and opened the conversation; "Tell me. How do we get out from under this GM mess?"
Date: 2 May 1999 10:01:49 -0500
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (jim mcnulty)
By MARIE WOOLF, INDEPENDENT (London) May 2
THE COUNTRY'S most senior doctor has told ministers to set up a special panel to examine whether eating genetically modified food could cause birth defects, cancer or damage to the human immune system.
In a confidential report to the Government, the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser have recommended that ministers set up a GM health monitoring unit, similar to the body of experts which discovered a link between eating beef from BSE infected cows and human CJD.
They believe not enough research has been done to determine whether eating GM food could cause serious health problems in humans.
The report, seen last month by the ministerial committee on genetic modification, proposes "the creation of a new unit to monitor the health effects of GMOs, similar to the unit monitoring CJD". It should examine "potential health effects" including "foetal abnormalities, new cancers, and effects on the human immune system".
Professor Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, and Sir Robert May, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, concluded that "our understanding [of the effect of GMOs on human health] is still developing". While there is no conclusive evidence, their findings will renew public concern that GM food could lead to unknown health consequences.
Scientists, including Dr Michael Antoniou of Guy's Hospital in London, have warned that genetic engineering could lead to the creation of new allergies, cancers and other illnesses in human beings because of "the disruption of our natural genetic order".
"The reasons why we can't be specific about the health consequences of GM food is that we don't know enough," said Dr Antoniou. "Each genetic engineering event holds its own dangers. You could have acute toxicity or something that sneaks up over many years. Any of these things are possible."
Date: 2 May 1999 10:01:49 -0500
From: email@example.com (jim mcnulty)
By GEOFFREY LEAN, INDEPENDENT (London) May 2