Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

6 May 99

Table of Contents

Giant Food Companies Control Standards:
Altered food labels debated: 70-plus countries at Ottawa meeting
Corporate Control of Food, Farming and Health
Novartis urges U.S. caution on GMO sales
UK Food Businesses respond to growing consumer confusion on GM foods
Gateway Greens Dump Milk as Shapiro and Monsanto Stockholders Watch
Giant Companies to Phase out Biotech Foods
GM Foods - Victory for Grass-roots Action
Ministers told to study GM food cancer risks
Controversy Boils Over in UK
Prince Charles Refuses to Withdraw Website.
Biotech Talks Sabotaged by USA, Canada, and Friends
French Carrefour Withdraws All Biotech Foods
Canadian GE Debate on the Internet
Biotech: The Pendulum Swings Back
BBC ON-Line: Europe reviews milk drug ban
CBC News Online: Biotech push concerns senators
Big fall in Norfolk test sites

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Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 14:38:48 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN4-28

Thanks to Sprinkraft@aol.com for posting the following article

Giant Food Companies Control Standards:

By Laura Eggerton, Toronto Star Ottawa Bureau, April 28, 1999

Critics U.N. agency meets to decide on rules for labelling produce

OTTAWA - Industry representatives on delegations to a United Nations body that sets food standards are in conflict of interest, international consumer groups are charging.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, a little-known standard-setting agency, is meeting in Ottawa to consider topics that include whether genetically engineered food should be labelled as such.

Both the Canadian and U.S. delegations to the commission are loaded with representatives of companies whose products are affected by the commission's decisions, according to the Council of Canadians, Consumers International and the Consumers Union. Codex has become more or less a prisoner or hostage to corporate Peter Bleyer of the Council of Canadians told a news conference yesterday.

The agency - an amalgamation of the U.N. World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization - is supposed to make decisions on behalf of consumers, represented by their governments, he said. Bleyer said.

The Canadian delegation includes six government representatives and 13 non-governmental delegates. Industry representatives fill nine of those 13 non-governmental spots. The companies include Nestle Canada, Procter & Gamble, Bestfoods Canada, Monsanto Canada and trade organizations representing food companies.

The U.S. delegation includes 14 non-government advisers, 10 of whom represent multinational food companies or their trade organizations and consultants who help get the products to market. The companies include Nestle USA, Bestfoods, Procter & Gamble and Mead Johnson and Co., maker of infant formula.

There are four representatives of organic food producers and farmers on the U.S. advisory group and the same number on the Canadian delegation.

Canada and the United States both oppose mandatory labelling that would tell consumers whether the products they are buying have been genetically modified or are so-called novel foods created by biotechnology. For example, both countries would object to ordinary tomatoes being labelled of any genetic modification.

Instead, Canada supports voluntary labelling as long as it does not imply that a product free of genetic modification is safer than another product.

But voluntary labelling would not help consumers, said Bleyer. If there was no label on a tomato, for example, shoppers would not be able to tell if that food was free of genetic modification, or if the manufacturer had just opted not to label it. Labelling continues to be obstructed by a small number of multinational Julian Edwards of the U.K.-based Consumers International told the news conference.

The organizations say they are not opposed to biotechnology. They believe not enough is known about the long-term health effects of eating genetically altered food or of growing genetically altered crops. Labelling would allow consumers to register any opposition with their pocketbooks, in the marketplace, said Edwards.

The consumer groups pointed out that other foods are labelled as irradiated, or free of salt, preservatives or particular allergens.


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Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 14:38:48 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN4-28

posted by Bradford Duplisea brad@pei.sympatico.ca

Altered food labels debated: 70-plus countries at Ottawa meeting

By Andrew Duffy, The Ottawa Citizen Wed 28 Apr 1999, Page A5

The United Nations agency that sets international food standards convened yesterday in Ottawa to decide whether genetically engineered food -- what --should be identified with consumer labels.

The issue tied the agency in knots last year because of deep divisions between North America and Europe, leaving delegates from more than 70 countries to again wrestle with the issue this week. Canada and the United States want labels affixed only to those engineered foods that pose a scientifically proven health risk.

The European Union -- backed by a large coalition of consumer groups -- favours mandatory labelling on all genetically altered food. Consumers have a fundamental right to know what is in the food they buy Julian Edwards, director of Consumers International, told reporters yesterday. The federation represents 246 consumer organizations from 110 countries.

While supporters say gene technology can produce higher yield crops that use less land, water and pesticides, critics like Mr. Edwards contend the practice raises environmental and health issues about which consumers must be allowed to exercise decisions.

Engineered crops have been endowed with genes from bacteria or other organisms, mostly to make them resistant to insects, chemical weed killers or insecticides. People in different parts of the world voice concerns about this on so

Canadian officials, however, contend a mandatory labelling system would be unwieldy, expensive and would provide consumers with little meaningful information. Labelling gets difficult when you look at the breadth of questions you said Margaret Kenny, of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, a division of Agriculture Canada.

Ms. Kenny said a strict regime would require farmers to maintain separate storage facilities for modified crops and natural ones. And the actual -- would apply to so many products that it would be virtually meaningless, she said.

An estimated 60 per cent of all processed foods in North America --breads, baby food, salad dressing and ice cream -- now contain soybean or canola ingredients from genetically modified plants. Strains of canola modified to tolerate the use of herbicides represent almost 50 per cent of the Canadian yield, modified soybeans about 30 per cent.

The Canadian government requires warning labels only if a genetic change substantially alters the nutritional value of a food or poses a health risk to allergy sufferers or others.

The EU has already passed legislation to label foods containing genetically modified maize and soya, but they have yet to determine what products will be subject to the new rules.

While Canada has about 2.8 million hectares of land devoted to the cultivation of genetically modified corn, canola, soya, flax, cotton seed and potatoes, Europe has steadfastly resisted the invasion of the new, altered varieties.

Prince Charles has vowed not to let any genetically altered food pass his That takes mankind into realms that belong to God and to Following public protests and news articles that describe the some British supermarket and fast food chains have promised not to sell modified foods.

Scientists can now tell which of 50,000 genes in a plant governs an individual trait. They can take one beneficial gene and insert it into another organism to protect it and its offspring.

Sally Rutherford, executive director of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, said producers would consider a labelling system if was But at this point, there isn't a proposal that would actually Labelling everything as `may contain genetically

Jean Halloran, director of the U.S. Consumer Policy Institute, accused Canadian and American officials of being out of step with their citizenry, the majority of whom want labels on modified food. We have packages that are labelled preservative free, additive free, salt free, fat free. ... We just want to be able to say if a product is GMO


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Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 14:38:48 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN4-28

Corporate Control of Food, Farming and Health

Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) http://www.rafi.org , April 25, 1999

Sections:
Masters of the Universe?
Food and beverages
Seeds
Conclusion

Masters of the Universe?

The pace of corporate concentration within the "life industry" is accelerating according to a new report by the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI). "Life industry" is a term used by the giant transnational enterprises that basically control production and sales of commercial products for agribusiness, food and pharmacy. The report warns that market dominance by these giant corporations combined with monopoly patents results in unprecedented corporate control over the biological basis for commercial food, farming and health.

"The Gene Giants: Masters of the Universe?" is RAFI's third annual report on the transnational enterprises that dominate commercial sale of pesticides, seeds, pharmaceuticals, food and animal veterinary products. As traditional boundaries between the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, agribusiness, food, chemicals, cosmetics and energy sectors disappear, transnational firms are using complementary technologies--such as high-throughput screening, combinatorial chemistry, transgenics and genomics--to become the primary players in all of these industrial sectors.

According to RAFI, a radical transformation of the global economy is well underway. Many of the world's largest chemical corporations are shifting out of commodity petrochemicals into biology--changing from industrial chemicals to agribusiness, pharmaceuticals and food. For example, as recently as 1996, Monsanto was the fourth largest chemical company in the United States. In a dramatic shift to biotechnology, Monsanto spun off its US$3 billion industrial chemicals business as a separate company in 1997. Since 1996, Monsanto has spent over US$8 billion acquiring seed and agricultural biotechnology companies.

In 1998, Hoechst (Germany) spun off Celanese, its U.S. chemical subsidiary, in order to meet its goal of getting out of the industrial chemical industry by the end of 2000. In December, Hoechst and France's Rhone-Poulenc merged to form Aventis--"the world's biggest life science company." With combined sales of US$20 billion per year, Aventis becomes the world's top ranking firm in sales of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and veterinary medicines. The combined research and development budget for Aventis will reach US$3 billion--roughly the equivalent of 40% of all funding for agricultural research in the private sector.

Food and beverages

The food and beverage giants, however, are the "true titans" of the "life industry." The total retail value of global food sales is estimated at US$2,000 billion -- over six times larger than pharmaceutical sales. Put another way, the 1997 revenues of the world's largest food and beverage corporation (Nestle, US$45.3 billion) surpassed both the entire commercial seed industry (US$23 billion) and the entire agrochemical industry (US$31 billion). As genetic engineering and related technologies become more widely used to alter the function and performance of plants, animal and common ingredients, the food and beverage industry is likely to enter into strategic alliances, mergers and acquisitions with seed, biotech and agro-chemical and pharmaceutical firms.

Seeds

The top 10 seed companies control over 30% of the US$23 billion commercial seed market. However, corporate market share is much higher in specific seed sectors and for certain crops. For example, 40% of U.S. vegetable seeds come from a single source and just four companies control 69% of the North American seed corn market. Following DuPont's March 1999 announcement that it would acquire the rest of Pioneer Hi-Bred International for US$7.7 billion, the Wall St. Journal said the deal "effectively divides most of the U.S. seed industry between DuPont and Monsanto."

The commercial market for genetically engineered seeds has expanded dramatically in scale and geographic scope. From 1986 to 1997, approximately 25,000 transgenic crop field trials were conducted in 45 countries on more than 60 crops and 10 traits. Of this total, nearly half (10,000) were conducted in the last two years. According to the International Seed Trade Federation, the world market for genetically engineered seed is expected to reach US$2 billion by the year 2000 and will triple to US$6 billion by 2005.

Conclusion

RAFI states that unchecked corporate power coupled with the vanishing role of public sector research will affect all areas of global health, agriculture and nutrition. Neglect of the public good is inevitable when the research agenda is determined by the private sector in pursuit of corporate profits. Access to food, health and nutrition--once considered a fundamental human right--is now subject to the whims of the free market system.

Source: "The Gene Giants: Master of the Universe?" RAFI Communique, March/April 1999, available at www.rafi.org

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed for research and educational purposes only. **


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Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 21:03:40 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN4-29
Thanks to colibri@west.net (Beth von Gunten) for posting this:

Novartis urges U.S. caution on GMO sales

WASHINGTON, April 19 (Reuters) - A top executive of Swiss life sciences giant Novartis AG warned on Monday that attempts by the United States to force European borders open to genetically modified food products were doomed to failure because of European public resistance. Some agricultural analysts have predicted a trade fight between the United States, which wants to sell genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and European countries that are resisting the products because of fears about their safety.

"We are hoping and praying that the U.S. government will not make this into a trade issue, because I can assure you it is not a trade issue," Willy De Greef, the company's head of regulatory and government affairs, told Reuters. "But if tomorrow the WTO (World Trade Organization) would rule that we have to throw our markets open, and the European Union governments would comply with that without doing 10 years of appeals, the issue would not go away," he said.

The European Union's regulatory process has halted imports of GMO products, produced mainly by the United States, such as corn or canola genetically altered to produce results like better resistance to insects or tolerance of herbicides. De Greef said Europeans viewed food and food production as a cultural and historical matter and were not as quick as the United States to accept radical technological changes. Retail stores in Britain, where memories of deaths from "mad cow disease" remain fresh, have been labeling GMO foods despite U.S. assurances of their safety. "All the companies, we all owe the public a mea culpa. We have not listened carefully enough," De Greef said at a meeting of agricultural journalists from the United States and Canada.


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Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 21:03:40 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN4-29

News Release

UK Food Businesses respond to growing consumer confusion on GM foods

In response to consumer opinion, two leading UK food businesses - Van den Bergh Foods UK and Birds Eye Wall’s - today declared their intention to stop using, for the time being, genetically modified ingredients.

The companies will achieve this by making use of alternative non-GM ingredients and where possible by reverting to currently limited sources of traditional non-GM soya.

The first confirmation of this intend will be Van den Bergh Foods plan to remove gm soya from its Beanfeast product range within the next two months. The timescale for other changeovers will depend on the flexibility of the companies respective supply chains.


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Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 21:03:40 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN4-29

Gateway Greens Dump Milk as Shapiro and Monsanto Stockholders Watch

By Gateway Green Alliance
P.O. Box 8094, St. Louis MO 63156
E-mail: fitzdon@aol.com or T4shea@aol.com

Security Outnumbers Environmentalists 100 to 1

April 24, 1999. St. Louis, Missouri. As Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro addressed the company's annual stockholders meeting, Gateway Green Alliance (GGA) member Steve Cassilly stood up, saying, "I would like to talk about labeling of genetically altered food. "I will get to that later," Shapiro retorted.

"We need to discuss it now!," Cassilly insisted. "There are real safety concerns about Monsanto's blatant refusal to label their genetically altered food. This is being voiced by people all over the world....And your company wants to deny them their rightful choice.. If your food products are so great why don't you advertise them as genetically enhanced."

Shapiro refused to answer the question put to him. Cassilly continued to prod him for an answer. He added, "Hey Bob, I would like an answer to my question." In protest Cassilly then poured a container of milk onto the carpet saying loudly, "This is what I think of your hormones in our milk." His action referred to the Monsanto produced rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone), which is injected into cows to increase milk production. Many independent health experts believe the hormone is responsible for health threats to both cows and people. The future of rBGH is dubious, as the US remains the only industrialized country allowing its use.

Stockholders watched as Cassilly then dismissed himself from the meeting escorted by a number of security personnel and eventually by local authorities.

During discussion, one shareholder, a farmer, voiced concern about the closed market in Europe and the announcment by Archer Daniels Midland not accepting genetically modified crops. He also added that he was troubled by the huge benefits and compensation being given to board members while dividends remained almost non existent. Shapiro glossed over the market issue and replied to the farmer that, "We are working very hard at this company, we're not just sitting around smoking cigars." Referring to the amount of money executives are making.

Some stockholders commented on the intense levels of security. One asked Shapiro, "With so many guards, how did those people ever manage to throw a pie in your face?"

According to Tammy Shea, the other Gateway Green present, "With over 200 security guards, they outnumbered Steve and me 100 to 1. There was a lot of confusion created when the meeting was changed from its announced location at Monsanto World Headquarters to the Solutia compound.

The supposedly independent Solutia separated from Monsanto in 1998.

"Guards followed me wherever I went," she noted. Monsanto security had attempted to block her entrance into the meeting. When she connected them by phone to her stockbroker, they reluctantly stood back.

Shea felt that "A lot of stockholders are worried. Clearly the topic of what to do about the European markets not being completely open to genetically modified imports is a touchy one with Shapiro and shareholders. When I asked Shapiro to offer further opinion on that subject, his response created an unsettled feeling that was clear to everyone."

Outside Monsanto World Headquarters, two dozen GGA members picketed and chatted with reporters. Asked why they were there, Don Fitz explained "We want to urge Monsanto stockholders to consider the viability of a company which is putting all of its effort into genetic engineering at the same time the technology is being protested throughout the world."

The environmental group is particularly concerned with the high levels of cancer-causing Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1) in milk. GGA spokesperson Daniel Romano stated "It is clear that cows injected with rBGH release IGF-1 into their milk. When people drink this milk, they have an increased risk of colon, breast and prostate cancer."

The Gateway Green Alliance is a chapter of the Missouri Green Party and the Greens/Green Party USA, one of several organizations participating the "Global Days of Action against Genetic Engineering." During April 22-28, demonstrations and teach-ins are being held in the US, Canada and Europe. For more information

Contact: Tammy Shea, 314-458-5026 (voice/fax); Don Fitz, 314-727-8554

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed for research and educational purposes only. **


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Date: Sun, 2 May 1999 16:08:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN5-1

Giant Companies to Phase out Biotech Foods

© Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 1999
For full text and graphics visit:
http://ens.lycos.com/ens/apr99/1999L-04-28-03.html

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.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 1999

For full text and graphics visit: http://ens.lycos.com/ens/apr99/1999L-04-28-03.html


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Date: Sun, 2 May 1999 16:08:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN5-1

For a change some good news to rejoice about. But there's still lots to do !!

GM Foods - Victory for Grass-roots Action

By Geoffrey Lean, Independent (london) May 2

Now most of the big names in the food industry are to ban GM products - but it is thanks to the consumer, not to the Government

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?"


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Date: Sun, 2 May 1999 16:08:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN5-1

Ministers told to study GM food cancer risks

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."

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed for research and educational purposes only. **


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Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 16:02:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN-5-4, Alive May 99 biotech column

Reprinted with permission from the May 1999 issue of Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition, 7436 Fraser Park Drive, Burnaby, BC V5J 5B9

Controversy Boils Over in UK

Biotech News, by Richard Wolfson, PhD, May, 1999

The controversy over genetically engineered food in Britain has taken on epidemic proportions. For instance, the Observer (London) of February 14, 1999, reported: "It was supposed to be the food of tomorrow: a genetically engineered ambrosia to feed Earth's hordes next century. But it has turned into a political nightmare. Last week unprecedentedly ferocious criticism fell upon the heads of those responsible for making genetically modified (GM) foods in Britain - an onslaught so fierce it is hard to see how their products can survive commercially."

Much of the controversy stems back to August 1998, when Dr. Arpad Pusztai, a distinguished researcher at the Rowett Research Institute in Scotland, announced that rats who were fed genetically engineered potatoes showed serious health damage. Within 48 hours of his announcement, the Institute said Dr. Pusztai was mistaken, suspended him in humiliation, and forced him to retire.

More recently, at least 20 scientists (included toxicologists, genetic engineers and medical experts) from 13 different countries re-examined his work and reported his conclusions were justified. The data showed that rats fed the GE potatoes for 10 days suffered serious damage to the immune systems and various organs, including the kidney, stomach, spleen, and brain.

The scientists are calling for a reinstatement of Dr. Pusztai as well as a moratorium of genetically engineered crops until more research can be done to determine their safety. The public and press, as well as Tories lead by the leader of the Opposition William Hague, are also calling for a 5 year moratorium.

Further research has linked the toxicity of the biotech potatoes to one of the key components of the genetically engineered process, a promoter virus that is used as a biochemical switch in many other genetically engineered crops. More research is also being called for to pinpoint the exact cause of the toxicity.

The discrediting of Dr. Pusztai has also been linked by the press to the $230,000 USD grant that the Rowett Research Institute received from Monsanto, the biotech giant.


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Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 16:02:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN-5-4, Alive May 99 biotech column

Prince Charles Refuses to Withdraw Website.

The Prince of Wales is resisting pressure from Prime Minister Tony Blair to withdraw his website on the hazards of genetically engineered foods. At the site, which is visited daily by thousands of people worldwide, Charles states: "We should not be meddling with the building blocks of life in this way." Visit his website and express your support at: http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/forum


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Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 16:02:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN-5-4, Alive May 99 biotech column

Biotech Talks Sabotaged by USA, Canada, and Friends

A biotech trade treaty among 170 countries was sabotaged by the United States, Canada, and several other countries in February.

The vast majority of countries present were ready to sign the Biosafety Protocal Agreement in Cartagena, Columbia, which called for labelling of genetically engineered exports. But the so called "Miami group" of big agricultural countries (Canada, USA, Australia, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay), refused to allow labelling of major exports like soy and corn. They were clearly concerned that labelling could lead to their products being boycotted. Environmentalists say that through such actions, Canada is losing its reputation as a "green" country.


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Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 16:02:55 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN-5-4, Alive May 99 biotech column

French Carrefour Withdraws All Biotech Foods

The supermarket giant from France, Carrefour, is taking all genetically modified food products off its shelves, citing scientific uncertainties and public opinion. The decision affects 516 of the 1,783 food products that Carrefour sells. Of the 516, 286 will be replaced with equivalent natural food products and 221 will be kept on the shelves and tested to ensure they are free of GMO's.

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed for research and educational purposes only. **


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Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 09:49:38 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN5-6

Canadian GE Debate on the Internet

Biotech Battle Growing in Canada

Although the first genetically engineered vegetable was marketed five years ago, the debate over the safety of these foods is only now taking off.

FULL STORY: http://newsworld.cbc.ca/cgi-bin/go.pl?1999/05/04/biotecha990504

Biotech Push Concerns Senators

The biotech company Monsanto is facing a tough audience in its appeal of the Senate's refusal to approve bovine growth hormone for use in Canada's dairy industry. FULL STORY: http://newsworld.cbc.ca/cgi-bin/go.pl?1999/05/04/biotech990504 (full story follows at end)

Ottawa Mum on Relationship with Biotech Firm

Agriculture Canada has refused to release information about its commercial relationship with a biotech company, over the insistence of a senator studying food safety. FULL STORY: http://newsworld.cbc.ca/cgi-bin/go.pl?1999/05/06/biotech990506

Genetically-altered Foods Could Spark Trade War

In Europe, the market for genetically modified foods is rapidly disappearing. There are now eight major food chains that say they will no longer stock genetically modified food. FULL STORY: http://newsworld.cbc.ca/cgi-bin/go.pl?1999/05/05/genefood990505
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Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 09:49:38 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN5-6

==================  Electronic Edition  ===================

RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY #649
---May 6, 1999---
HEADLINES:
BIOTECH: THE PENDULUM SWINGS BACK
==========
Back issues are available from http://www.rachel.org.
To start your own free subscription, send E-mail to
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======================================================

Biotech: The Pendulum Swings Back

In recent months, opposition to genetically modified (GM) foods has exploded in both Europe and Asia.[1] A powerful consumer/farmer backlash has spread across Europe and the Indian subcontinent, raising eyebrows even in the somnolent U.S.

  1. In April, the seven largest grocery chains in six European countries made a public commitment to go "GM free" and now they are lining up long-term contracts with growers who can provide GM-free corn, potatoes, soybeans and wheat.

  2. The Supreme Court of India has upheld a ban on the testing of GM crops even as activists are torching fields suspected of harboring GM plants.

  3. The third-largest U.S. corn processor, A.E. Staley Co. of Decatur, Illinois, has announced that in 1999 it will refuse to accept genetically modified corn varieties that have not been approved by the European Union. Europeans create a huge market for U.S. crops and the European backlash forces U.S. farmers to think twice about planting GM seeds.

The bellwether event was the announcement last month by seven European supermarket chains that they intend to jointly patronize growers who can deliver food that is 100% free of genetically modified (GM) organisms.[2] Tesco, Safeway, Sainsbury's, Iceland, Marks & Spencer, the Co-op, and Waitrose grocery chains make up the consortium. Last week Unilever, the huge transnational (and aggressive supporter of GM foods), announced it was throwing in the towel and joining the GM-free consortium. One day after Unilever capitulated, the Swiss firm Nestle made the same commitment. The following day Cadbury-Schweppes joined the ranks of the GM-free. It was a complete and unexpected rout for the genetic engineering industry.

According to the London INDEPENDENT, the only major players still supporting GM foods in England are Monsanto Corporation and the Blair government. Just a few months ago, British Prime Minister Tony Blair had told members of parliament that opposition to GM foods would be "a flash in the pan." Now popular support for the Blair government itself has dwindled as opposition to GM foods has swelled. In his last election, Mr. Blair was supported financially by Monsanto, the leading proponent of genetically modified crops (see REHW #637, #638, and #639).

Several factors seem to be at work in Europe:

  1. Older people can still remember Nazi eugenics experiments -- Hitler's plan to create a "super race" by genetic selection. As a result, any genetic manipulation of living organisms to produce "super organisms" is suspect.

  2. The recent "Mad Cow Disease" scare in England and France -- which has killed several dozen people so far and was brought on by the unnatural practice of feeding cows to cows -- has seriously undermined government credibility and has made Europeans wary of all unnatural farming practices.

  3. Many Europeans -- as distinct from many Americans -- care about the taste and nutritional quality of their food and drink. Many Americans seem happy to subsist on french fried potatoes and iceberg lettuce accompanied by huge portions of low-grade, fat-laden beef. Many Europeans consider such fare barbaric.

  4. On February 12 of this year, the first tentative evidence of health damage from GM foods emerged. Beginning in 1996, Dr. Arpad Pusztai of the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland had been feeding genetically modified potatoes to rats and observing stunted growth and damaged immune systems, including damage to several major organs (kidney, spleen, thymus and stomach). Dr. Pusztai was a senior scientist at the Rowett Institute, having conducted research there for 35 years, during which time he published 270 scientific papers.

In January, 1998 and again in April, 1998, Dr. Pusztai received permission from Philip James, the director of the Rowett Institute, to speak on British television. Although he is not categorically opposed to genetic engineering, in his April TV appearance, Dr. Pusztai said he would not eat genetically modified foods himself and he said it was "very, very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs."

Proponents of genetically modified foods protested loudly against this expression of informed opinion. On the first day of the controversy, Philip James defended Dr. Pusztai's right to speak his mind, but on the second day Mr. James suspended Dr. Pusztai, condemned his research, made him sign a gag order, and forced him to retire.

An audit report by the Rowett Institute in August, 1998, vindicated Dr. Pusztai's research methods. At that point Dr. Pusztai was once again given access to his own research data and he vigorously reconfirmed his original conclusions. Dr. Pusztai's studies have not yet been published, so details remain unknown.

The "Pusztai affair" lay dormant until February 12th of this year when a group of 20 scientists from 13 countries published a manifesto demanding the reinstatement of Dr. Pusztai and expressing support for his tentative conclusions.

Only later was it discovered that the Rowett Institute is partly funded by Monsanto.

The "Pusztai affair" lit a fire of public outrage that has since grown into a raging conflagration.

For its part, Monsanto has admitted that no one knows -- or can know -- what will happen when genetically modified organisms are put directly into the human food chain and are released into the natural environment, as is the case with genetically modified crops. Robert Shapiro, the chief executive officer of Monsanto, said October 28, 1998, "We don't seek controversy, but obviously it has been thrust on us. It is a direct consequence of a role we have chosen. And it is a role which we can blame only ourselves for.... we realize that with any new and powerful technology with unknown, and to some degree unknowable -- by definition -- effects, then there necessarily will be an appropriate level at least, and maybe even more than that, of public debate and public interest."[3]

It is clear that Monsanto's best-laid plans are coming unraveled. In the mid-1980s Monsanto convinced the U.S. government to agree that genetic engineering would not be subject to any new regulations, on the theory that a genetically modified potato is nothing more than a potato. Monsanto contributes bountifully to presidential candidates of both parties, and to key members of Congress who sit on food safety committees. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have taken a "hand off" approach to the introduction of this powerful new technology whose consequences are unknown and unknowable. And President Clinton -- who has been amply rewarded by Monsanto at election time -- has named Monsanto's Shapiro a "special trade representative" of the U.S. In sum, the U.S. federal government is forcefully aiding Monsanto as the corporation prepares to conduct a large-scale, uncontrolled experiment on the general public here and abroad.

A key part of the Monsanto strategy was to mix genetically modified foods with traditional foods, and keep them all unlabeled so that no one would know what they were eating. By the time anyone figured out that they were eating "Frankenstein food" -- as it is now known in Europe -- it would be a done deal.

Europeans are now hell-bent on reversing this mixture. As a spokesperson for the Tesco chain of supermarkets in England said recently, "We will remove GM ingredients where we can and label where we can't. In the short and medium term I expect the number of products containing GM ingredients to decline steadily, quite possibly to zero." And Fernanda Fau, a spokesperson for Eurocommerce, the association of European food retail chains said, "...the principle that segregation of GM ingredients is possible has now finally been accepted. We first lobbied for this two years ago and were told it was impossible."

With GM foods identified, labeled and segregated, it will be possible for consumers to exercise choice in the grocery store. Then the future of genetically modified foods will be imperiled by the marketplace. Robert Shapiro has bet the entire future of the Monsanto corporation on unknown and unknowable GM foods, so informed choice by consumers is the company's worst nightmare.

Monsanto's plans have gone awry in the Third World, too. Monsanto planned to introduce its genetically modified seeds accompanied by its patented "technology protection system" which makes the seeds from this year's crop sterile. Critics call Monsanto's seed sterilizing technology "terminator" and "suicide seeds." Wherever suicide seed technology is adopted, farmers will have to go back to Monsanto year after year to buy a new ration of genetically modified seeds.

"By peddling suicide seeds, the biotechnology multinationals will lock the world's poorest farmers into a new form of genetic serfdom," says Emma Must of the World Development Movement. "Currently 80 per cent of crops in developing countries are grown using farm-saved seed. Being unable to save seeds from sterile crops could mean the difference between surviving and going under," she says. "More precisely," says Canadian journalist Gwynne Dyer, "it would speed the consolidation of small farms into the hands of those with the money to engage in industrialized agribusiness -- which generally means higher profits but less employment and lower yields per [unit of land]."[4]

In February in Cartagena, Colombia diplomats from 175 countries met to hammer out a "biosafety protocol" to control the flow of genetically modified organisms across international borders. The U.S. and Canada favored a weak treaty that would not allow any country to prevent the import and release of genetically modified organisms merely to shelter its population from the socio-economic impact of industrialized, capital-intensive forms of farming, or merely on health or environmental grounds.

The "other side" at Cartagena favored a strong treaty that gives countries the right to say no to GM organisms, requires a full study of the effects of GM foods on farmers' livelihoods, as well as health and environmental impacts, and makes biotech companies responsible for the legal and financial consequences if something goes wrong.

The Third World fought Monsanto and the U.S. government to a draw in Cartagena and no biosafety protocol was adopted. But the whole process helped the Third World figure out where it stands on these issues, and this kind of informed, thoughtful deliberation bodes ill for Monsanto's plan for domination of global food supplies.

As Canadian writer Gwynne Dyer sums it up, "The strategy for the high-speed introduction [of genetically modified foods] throughout the world is shaping up as one of the great public-relations disasters of all time. Public suspicion outside North America is reaching crippling proportions, and the reason is not at all mysterious. It is because the biotech firms literally tried to shove the stuff down peoples' throats without giving them either choice or information."[4]

--Peter Montague
(National Writers Union,
UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO)

==========

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all of the information in this edition of Rachel's was taken from press reports posted on the listserv biotech-l@cornell.edu. To subscribe to biotech-l send an E-mail message to listproc@cornell.edu; in the body of the message put the words "sub biotech-l Your Name" without quotation marks.

[2] Paul Waugh, "Brit. Stores Tesco and Unilever Ban Genetically Manipulated Products," THE INDEPENDENT (London, England), April 28, 1999, page unknown.

[3] Shapiro quoted in MONSANTO MONITOR, introductory issue (January 1999), pg. 7. MONSANTO MONITOR is published monthly by A Seed Europe, P.O. Box 92066, 1090 AB Amsterdam, Netherlands. Tel. +31-20-468-2616; fax: +31-20-468-2275. Http://www.antenna.nl/aseed . Email: biotech@aseed.antenna.nl.

[4] Gwynne Dyer, "World View, Biotechnology," [Toronto] GLOBE AND MAIL February 20, 1999, page unknown.

Descriptor terms: genetic engineering; genetically modified organisms; agriculture; farming; food safety; monsanto; arpad pusztai; rowett institute; biotech;

#################################################
NOTICE Environmental Research Foundation provides this electronic version of RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY free of charge. You could help by making a tax-deductible contribution. Please send your tax-deductible contribution to: Environmental Research Foundation, P.O. Box 5036, Annapolis, MD 21403-7036. For further information please phone us toll free at 1-888-2RACHEL, or at (410) 263-1584.

--Peter Montague, Editor


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Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 09:49:38 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN5-6

BBC ON-Line: Europe reviews milk drug ban

By Environment Correspondent and presenter of BBC Radio Four's Costing the Earth, Alex Kirby

Sections:
The artificial hormone increases milk yields
Five-year ban
Cancer link
Insignificant role

The artificial hormone increases milk yields

<Picture>

It has an eerie echo of BSE, the initials which now mean mad cow disease. But BST is not an illness. It is a drug.

It is an artificial hormone, a copy of one that occurs in nature. And just as natural bovine somatotropin, to give it its full name, promotes lactation, so artificial BST does the same.

Cows injected with BST produce 10%, sometimes even 15% more milk than they would do otherwise. But there is a downside.

Painful infection BST causes increased health problems in animals injected with it. They include higher infertility rates, more mastitis - a painful infection of the teat - and a much higher incidence of lameness.

Despite that, the drug has been cleared for use in the United States, where between a quarter and a third of all dairy cows are thought to be injected with it.

Milk from them and from non-BST animals is mixed together haphazardly, and there is no way of knowing whether dairy products in the US - or exported from it - contain BST milk.

Five-year ban

The European Commission imposed a five-year ban on the sale and use of BST in 1994, on what it called socio-economic grounds. That ban is now under review.

Veterinary surgeons in both Britain and Canada say that BST should remain banned to protect animal welfare. The Canadian Government agreed that the drug presented an unacceptable threat to the safety of dairy cows.

But there are also concerns over possible implications for human health. One centres on the increased use of antibiotics to treat the increased disease that BST causes, and the risk that they could find their way to humans.

Cancer link

Another worry is the fact that the milk of cattle injected with BST contains up to five times more of a substance called IGF-1, insulin-like growth factor one, than normal milk.

IGF-1 has been linked with the development of some cancers of the breast, colon and prostate.

Professor Donald Broom, of Cambridge university, is one of a team of senior vets advising Brussels on BST.

He told the BBC that "the IGF-1 increase could possibly lead to a very small increase in the occurrence of some cancers in humans - a very small risk, but a real risk".

Dr David Challacombe, a consultant paediatrician in Somerset, says these higher levels could over a long period help to trigger the growth of malignant tumours.

Clean bill of health BST does have its supporters. One influential group that has given it a clean bill of health is JECFA, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives.

JECFA's members are appointed by and answerable to two United Nations agencies, the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

The drug's critics say the longest examination of its possible toxicological effects, a 90-day study involving thirty rats, showed significant impacts on the animals.

The US Food and Drug Administration did approve BST for use, but says it did not consider the rat study in reaching its decision.

But the chairman of JECFA, Professor Jock MacLean of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, says his committee did consider the study.

Insignificant role

He points out that the levels of IGF-1 present in milk from BSE cows are only a minute fraction of the amount produced naturally by the human body, which led JECFA to conclude that it plays no significant role.

However, a Japanese study suggests that IGF-1 from BST milk persists in the digestive tract long enough to pose a far greater risk than the natural version.

The European jury is still out on BST. But it has heard evidence to show that there is cause for concern.


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Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 09:49:38 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN5-6

CBC News Online: Biotech push concerns senators

WebPosted Tue May 4 08:24:07 1999

OTTAWA - The biotech company Monsanto is facing a tough audience in its appeal of the Senate's refusal to approve bovine growth hormone for use in Canada's dairy industry. In hearings Monday, senators wanted to know about evidence that suggests the company was trying to influence the international science committee that studied the drug. With the push toward increased global trade, these international committees are becoming more important.

If, for instance they rule that a product such as the bovine growth hormone is safe, then it would be harder for the Canadian government to keep the product off the market. That's why the senators were concerned about a memo that suggest Monsanto may have tried to influence these committees.

The memo hints that Monsanto was trying to get Len Ritter, a former Health Canada scientist, reappointed to the international committee that ruled the bovine growth hormone is safe.

They were also concerned about evidence that shows Monsanto received confidential documents headed for that very same international committee. The documents contained the presentation of an international consumers' group opposed to the growth hormone. Senator Mira Spivak called the situation "morally reprehensible, not to mention not entirely Kosher."

Ray Mowling, president of Monsanto Canada, says his company plays by the rules.

My experience with these international groups is that they are highly regarded bodies that have scientists on them from around the world; the inference that we could influence that process to me is ludicrous," Mowling said.


Top PreviousFront Page

Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 09:49:38 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN5-6

Big fall in Norfolk test sites

By Chris Bishop, Eastern Daily Press (EDP) 6/5/99

" It must be confined to the laboratory."

- Jonathan Matthews, NGIN spokesman

Farmers pull out of GM crop trials

Genetically modified food firms are facing a crisis of confidence as Norfolk's farmers turn their backs on them.

Half the farmers who have agreed to take part in trials have now pulled out, it was revealed last night.

Government figures show the number of test sites in Norfolk alone fell from 44 in 1998 to just 14 this year.

Fears over the safety of GM crops were the main reason cited by former GM farmers replying to a survey carried out by Norfolk Genetic Information Network.

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed for research and educational purposes only. **


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

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