21 May 99

Table of Contents

ADM (Archer Daniels Midland Co) pays more to non-biotech bean growers
The Herbicide Gluphosinate (Liberty or Basta) Causes Birth Defects
Dominant mutants to Bt resistance in corn borer
Gene-altered food makes its way onto store shelves.
Russia sets GM food import controls from July 1
GM FOOD: UK Organic growers want zero tolerance of contamination
Prof John Ikerd on Ag. Industry
Save-The-World Refrains of the GE Chorus
Brussels refuses to lift ban on US beef
Dolly the Sheep creator tries to clone a pig
Loggers plan giant genetically manipulated trees
Performance of GM Crops: The Emperor's Transgenic Clothes

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Date: 13 May 1999 10:40:09 -0500

ADM (Archer Daniels Midland Co) pays more to non-biotech bean growers

By Robert Steyer, ST. Louis Post Dispatch
Thursday, May 13, 1999 | 6:06 a.m. Of The Post-Dispatch

Illustrating that overseas protests are having some impact here, big grain processor Archer Daniels Midland Co. is paying some farmers to grow soybeans that are not genetically engineered.

The company, based in Decatur, Ill., is offering a premium of 18 cents a bushel to farmers who grow Synchrony Treated Soybeans created by DuPont Co. The beans, developed through conventional breeding, tolerate DuPont's herbicide Synchrony.

The payment represents a premium of about 4 percent over what farmers get for standard soybeans. Most of the farmers growing the Synchrony Treated beans under special contract are in Illinois.

"Obviously, there is a great concern in the marketplace about genetically modified beans," said Martin Andreas, senior vice president at Archer Daniels Midland. "The farmer will have a definite home for his crop, and he will have lifted himself out of the difficulties surrounding genetically modified organisms."

His company will accept up to 1 million acres worth of Synchrony Treated beans. DuPont expects the beans to be grown on 9.5 million acres this year in the United States.

Monsanto Co.'s competing soybeans, genetically engineered to tolerate the company's Roundup herbicides, could be planted on 33 million acres this year, the company says. That would represent about 44 percent of the U.S. soybean crop.

Monsanto, which licenses its technology to seed companies, is the only producer of genetically engineered soybeans. One competitor, AgrEvo, has decided for the second consecutive year to refrain from selling bioengineered beans for commercial use.

These Liberty Link beans tolerate AgrEvo's Liberty herbicide. AgrEvo is waiting until it receives clearance from the European Union to export the Liberty Link beans to the 15 EU nations.

The EU must approve each biotechnology "event" -- Roundup tolerance, for example, is one event -- and the process is lengthy and cumbersome. Roundup Ready beans are approved for export to the EU as a commodity. But some European food companies and grocery chains say they don't want foods containing genetically engineered elements.

That forces grain processors to segregate their crops, which adds to the products' cost. It also means that if European inspectors find traces of bioengineered beans in food shipments labeled as biotech-free, the shipments will be rejected.

"European politicians have not come up with a threshold figure for genetically modified organisms, so until the threshold is set, the figure is zero," said Kim Nill, director of international marketing for the American Soybean Association. By contrast, shipments to the EU labeled "organic" can have up to 5 percent non-organic material, Nill said.

The labeling issue is why DuPont, for the second consecutive year, and now Archer Daniels Midland, are paying a premium to farmers. Last year, DuPont paid farmers premium prices for 150,000 acres of Synchrony Treated beans. The beans were sold to Protein Technologies International, the DuPont subsidiary in St. Louis that develops soy-based products.

"We were worried about European resistance, and, as a result, we started to get more inquiries from growers," said Mike Ricciuto, a DuPont spokesman. "This year, we felt more people would be interested, considering the attitudes in Europe. We are trying to meet a market demand."

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Date: 13 May 1999 10:47:01 -0500
From: joe cummins

The Herbicide Gluphosinate (Liberty or Basta) Causes Birth Defects

Prof. Joe Cummins, May 13, 1999, e-mail:

Many genetically modified (GM) crops are Liberty Ready meaning they are tolerant to the herbicide Liberty whose active ingredient is Gluphosinate or the herbicide may be used to treat crops such as soybean or canola to hasten their final ripening in the event that a cold snap threatens the crop at the end of the season. I have written a number of communications on the birth defects caused by the herbicide which is known to resemble and to interfere with a nerve communication chemical in mammals.

Recently Wytze sent me a government evaluation of gluphosinate ready crops that stated the herbicide was not a teratogen (did not cause birth defects). The review was provided by the government of Holland and reflects the view of the European Union (EU). Such false claims may also be spread by FAO. It is perplexing that governments are making claims that ignore clear evidence (including studies on rabbits provided by the herbicide manufacturer) much of which is published in major scientific journals. In Canada government agriculture reports are tainted by the funds directed to the agriculture department by large chemical companies.

The failure of independent government regulators in Holland to fully and truthfully report studies showing gluphosinate to be teratogenic should be investigated. Other governments promoting the false claim that gluphosinate is not teratogenic should be informed about the true evidence by citizens.

A report on the birth defects caused by the herbicide is shown below:

May 13, 1999

Basta-Liberty (Glufosinate) Spells Birth Defects

Prof. Joe Cummins
738 Wilkins Street, London, Ontario , Canada N6C4Z9
Telephone 519 681 5477

Glufosinate is a herbicide that kills almost everything green, it is used extensively with genetically engineered crops including corn, canola and soybeans. The herbicide resistant crops were approved by Canada and United States government even though there was clear evidence that the herbicide caused birth defects in experimental animals. The chemical acts by causing premature cell death in the immature brain by a process called apotosis. It also prevents development of glutamate channels in the brain, thus disrupting cellular communication. The birth defects observed in animals included brain defects leading to behavioral changes. Cleft lip and skeletal defects or kidney and urethra injury were observed in treated newborn. The herbicide also caused miscarriage and reduced conception in treated mothers.

Prior to the primacy of genetic engineering by multinational chemical companies drugs and herbicides that caused birth defects in three species of test animal ( all species tested) were designated teratogens and banned from human exposure. Clearly, the fact that treated crops are not labeled (many states have passed laws on behalf of the chemical companies making it illegal to label crops genetically engineering free) have made chemical companies bold about using toxic herbicides. The human birth defects cannot be studied using the science epidemiology because the crops are not labeled and the relationship between eating the crops and birth defects cannot be established. The chemical companies and their paid lackeys in the Canadian Agriculture Department are aware of this advantage.

Indeed, it is clear that Basta-Liberty is a paradigm for most of the genetically engineered crops now on the market. The food allergy, auotoimmune disease, birth defects or cancer caused by consuming the crops cannot not be meaningfully studied using epidemiology. The government agencies regulating genetic engineering appear to be collaborating with the chemical companies to protect them from the liability flowing from the injury caused by their products. In Canada one government agency that regulates and promotes genetic engineering is also in the pay of the chemical industry giants. Matching funds from tax payers and chemical industry are used to support research on behalf of the chemical companies. The millions of dollars spent on such activities studiously avoid studies that might incriminate the products of the chemical giants. Government department bureaucrats demand and receive huge salaries from their brainless pawns among the elected politicians.

I have discussed these findings in public meetings or before the standards board for organic farming. News media have stonewalled the issue. In particular, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation , now headed by a reactionary right wing politician from a government that was discredited and nearly completely eliminated by election, has side stepped the important issue.

The Basta-Liberty affair would probably greatly impress the public if it were allowed to be known by the public.

References on glufosinate and birth defects;

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Date: 13 May 1999 12:08:01 -0500
From: joe cummins
Subject: the refuge disaster

Dominant mutants to Bt resistance in corn borer

Prof. Joe Cummins, May 13, 1999, e-mail:

The recent discovery that mutants Bt resistance in corn borer are dominant (or semi dominant) means that the refuge set aside to prevent spread of Bt resistance are actually accelerating spread of Bt resistant mutants and the elimination of Bt in pest control. The dominant mutants mate with wild type borers and produce off-springs that are mainly resistant.

Prof. Rick Roush was a major promoter of the refuge concept to delay spread of resistant mutants. He recently copied to me letter he had written to an individual named Nina. He suggested her views on evolution were out of the mainstream even though she dealt with phenomena reported in major genetics journals and widely accepted among geneticists worldwide. He did not actually deal with the threat of dominant mutants and refuge among the millions of acres of corn planted based on his beliefs. It would have been better to focus on the damage done by refuge than it was to marginalize valid criticism based on fundamental gentics.

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Date: 13 May 1999 15:21:30 -0500
From: Colleen Robison-Spencer

Hi, Saginaw County, Michigan is/ was [when I was growing up] a big soybean growing county. C.

Variety from a splice of life

Gene-altered food makes its way onto store shelves.

By Rhoda Miel And Fred Kelly
The Saginaw News [note: Saginaw Co. Michigan] , Monday, May, 10, 1999

Science is making a better carrot - at least that's what the scientists say.

Organic food enthusiasts and environmentalists aren't so certain.

Critics maintain that genetically altered crops pose health and environmental risks and put family farms out of business, but producers paint a brighter picture.

Rather than taking a stroll down the vitamin supplement aisle, health-conscious consumers soon could just pick up a bag of vegetables genetically enhanced to supply more beta carotene, which turns into vitamin A in the body.

They could select a cooking oil with less saturated fat than its cousins on the store shelves.

Shoppers could check out chicken fed with nutritionally-enhanced grain, and garbage bags produced with a special corn that permits the plastic to degrade in the landfill.

Then they could drive home in a car using motor oil developed from soybeans genetically tweaked to have a higher oil content.

But while scientists are touting what they see as health benefits, some environmentalists aren't so sure.

"This is buyer beware," said Eric Uram, spokesman for the Madison, Wis.-based Great Lakes chapter of the Sierra Club.

"There has been no long-term study on this. No one knows if there is any risks to humans. There is certainly reason to be cautious."

Three years ago, mid-Michigan farmers planted genetically-engineered soybeans and corn for use in animal feed and shampoo.

Soon, altered seeds will go into other items on store shelves, said Ted McKinney, manager of global public affairs for Indianapolis, Ind.-based Dow Agrobusiness, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co. in Midland.

Genetically-altered crops will offer consumers healthier foods with a longer shelf life and lower saturated fat, McKinney said.

In biotechnology, scientists are altering the genes of organisms to create new products.

In 1996, farmers began raising the first major genetically-enhanced crop - corn carrying Bacillus thuringiensis, commonly called Bt, which would kill off European corn borers when they began eating away at corn stalks.

Since then, scientists have introduced corn, soybean and even sugar beet plants genetically improved to withstand certain herbicides, permitting growers to spend less time and money treating for weeds.

Nearly 40 percent of the American corn crop in the fields this year will come from genetically-enhanced hybrids, according to the Corn Refiners Association.

The latest products focus on consumers, scientists say.

"These offer some enormous opportunities," McKinney said. "There are some products being introduced that could significantly benefit the consumer."

Not all farmers are on the biotechnology bandwagon, however.

Some worry about the long-term impact of genetically-enhanced products on humans and animals. Although studies so far from U.S. government agencies and universities back safety claims, there's no multi-year research to show what could happen decades from now.

And organic farmers - who typically have small-scale operations - don't have the backing of international corporations that are financing the genetic revolution, said Carl Russell, who operates a blueberry farm on Frost near Gleaner in Thomas Township.

"The chemical companies are paying for the research," Russell said. "You cannot compete.

"It's all about the marketing, it's all about the advertising."

Organic growers have a difficult enough time competing in the marketplace, he said. It costs more to grow food with limited chemicals, and most consumers are looking for what's cheap and convenient.

Even growers anxious for opportunities from genetic hybrids worry about the costs they'll face.

Farmers can receive a bonus for growing specialty crops, said Joseph L. Wasmiller, an Albee Township farmer and former president of the Michigan Corn Growers Association.

The coming wave from biotechnology should represent some extra cash, but he expects it also will bring some extra bills.

"There may be a premium attached to it, but will it be profitable?" he said. "That's the real question."

Growers and grain handlers will have to segregate the hybrids, so that grains grown for a specific market don't mix with general crops. That may mean an extra day of planting or harvesting, and could force the operator to build special storage areas.

"What the farmer receives for (the crops) may not be worth it," Wasmiller said. "There's a lot of possible expenses out there that may make it too expensive to produce."

But Sally Page, a Cass City-based administrator for the Organic Growers of Michigan, maintains the companies are putting profits ahead of public safety.

"They are putting us all at risk because the wind blows their seeds from field to field and can destroy our organic crops," Page said.

Some crops are altered genetically so that they will survive herbicide sprays that organic farmers believe are harmful, she added.

Some genetically-altered crops will have health benefits, McKinney said.

Dow's subsidiary has seeds for three new genetic hybrids out this year aimed at buyers.

There's a canola offering a longer shelf life and lower saturated fats than other cooking oils.

Some are concerned the technology will harm small farmers who cannot afford new products and seeds, Uram said.

Only a handful of corporations sell the seeds and they do so at a premium price, he said.

© Copyright 1999 Michigan Live Inc.

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Date: 13 May 1999 16:17:10 -0500
From: (jim mcnulty)

Russia sets GM food import controls from July 1

Thursday May 13, 2:47 pm Eastern Time

MOSCOW, May 13 (Reuters) - Russia will only allow imports of gene modified foods from July 1 if they pass a series of Russian safety tests, a spokesman for the veterinary control department at the health ministry said on Thursday. Russia is introducing for the first time from July a system of state registration of genetically modified products and he said. Suppliers of such products will have to submit them to tests, and then he added.

The spokesman said Russia had previously relied on certificates issued by foreign authorities to producers saying their food did not contain genetically modified ingredients.

But now Russia has accumulated the necessary expertise and developed a system of tests which could guarantee the safety of imported products.

The spokesman said the registration procedure of genetically engineered foods was laid out in a ministry resolution in April, and the first application was received from U.S. agribusiness giant Monsanto Co (MTC - news).

The spokesman said he did not know if there had yet been any imports of genetically modified foods.

Such products have not yet appeared on the Russian market, although domestic scientists have been carrying out experiments on genetic modification of livestock and plants for years.

The law on state regulation of genetic engineering, which permits activities in the field providing they do not damage human health or the environment, was approved by parliament as early as 1996.

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Date: 14 May 1999 03:42:04 -0500
From: Jon


Here's part of EDP's coverage from 13th May 1999 on organic agriculture and the threat from GM crops.

How the EDP has Led the News

In February: We told how a former GM scientist was turning his back on biotechnology and taking up organic farming.

In March: We highlighted farmers' fears that GM crops could pollute their produce, after scientists said the wind could carry pollen up to nine miles.

Later in March: Property experts warned the GM controversy could spark a fall in land prices.

Last Month: We reported a dramatic fall in the number of GM test sites and a collapse in confidence in biotechnology among Norfolk's farmers.

On Tuesday: We revealed how leaked research showed contamination was inevitable if GM crops went into commercial production.

GM FOOD: UK Organic growers want zero tolerance of contamination


Farmers' fears that GM crops could contaminate their produce were at the top of the political agenda yesterday after the EDP revealed a damning study proved them right. Environment minister Michael Meacher pledged to protect organic growers and the consumer's right to choose. But scientists at Norwich's John Innes Centre say the way ahead lies in agreeing how much contamination consumers will put up with. Organic farmers' leaders are set for a showdown with Whitehall officials tomorrow. CHRIS BISHOP reports.

The cat is well and truly out of the bag when it comes to GM crops and their ability to contaminate other produce.

Leaked research from the John Innes Centre, Norwich, revealed by the EDP, says cross-pollination is inevitable once GM crops go into full-scale commercial production.

Instead of adopting a zero" tolerance approach, they argue that the industry and consumer groups must agree on what constitutes acceptable levels of pollution.

Environment minister Michael Meacher reaffirmed the Government's pledge to protect both organic growers and the consumers' right to choose their produce, when he appeared on Radio 4's Today programme yesterday.

At present GM maize trials have to have a 200-yard buffer zone to stop pollen spreading to other crops. Mr Meacher said the Government was considering extending the zones.

"The Government is very concerned to preserve the integrity of organic farming," he said.

"We want to see an increase in organic farming. We want to see proper separation distances.

"Exactly what those should be is a matter we are now looking at extremely closely."

Mr Meacher said he believed th' organic label meant there wa no pollution at all from GM foo~ and the Government needed t' take account of consumer opinior on this.

While he said he had not ye~ studied the John Innes report, ht added: "This is a matter which concerns me greatly."

Soil Association leaders are due to meet Whitehall officials tomorrow. No firm agenda has yet been set for the meeting, which will not be attended by Mr Meacher or any other minister.

Campaigners are certain to demand that gene transfer and the implications of the John Innes report are discussed.

Officials who commissioned the John Innes research look equally sure to insist the issue is no

longer one of protecting cropE from .GM contamination, but deciding how much of it consumers are prepared to tolerate.

"We'11 be looking for the GMfree status of organic food and the right of the consumer to buy GM food to be upheld," said Soil Association spokesman Emma Parkin.

"We're also concerned about protecting the environment, because GM is not something you can take back. Once these things are out there, it's irreversible."

Norwich-based Norfolk Genetic Information Network, one of the first pressure groups to highlight the threat to organic farming, believes only a ban on GM production can save the burgeoning organic sector. NGIN spokesman Jonathan Mathews said.

"There should be a zero tolerance level for genetic pollution and if contamination from these crops is simply unavoidable, then GM crops must be banned."

Organic growers across East Anglia have been in uproar since March, when the EDP revealed the threat to their livelihoods from cross pollination.

"It's totally unacceptable," said Janet Bearman, secretary of the Norfolk Organic Gardeners group, which represents more than 300 smallholders across the county.

"The reaction of a lot of people is going to be anger. They'll have no way of knowing whether the food they are eating is GM polluted or not."

Organic food is defined as pesticide and additive free by the 15,000-strong Soil Association.

Farmers have to pass rigorous quality tests before they are allowed to use the association's official organic logo on produce.

Those who qualify sign up to the ideal of safe, healthy food, grown by sustainable methods in an unpolluted countryside.

Organic farming has grown buoyed by public concern over the effects of chemicals.

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Date: 14 May 1999 08:42:20 -0500
Subject: newly emerging dialogues

As reported earlier, newly emerging dialogues from people with some responsibility for ag policy show that an ever widening circle of people is grappling with the issues raised over Biotechnology.

This is a fragment, or response, but may be worth sharing since it was written by John Ikerd, a former senior ag professor at the University of Missouri, and is addressed to Harold Reetz, Vice President, Foundation for Agronomic Research in Illinois.

Prof John Ikerd on Ag. Industry

by Prof. John Ikerd, a former senior ag professor at the University of Missouri

One benefit of getting older for people like Harold Reetz and myself is that we can brag about how many years of experience we have. I am going on 35 years of experience in industry and extension work in agriculture, and I find it increasing difficult each year to defend either industry or extension.

I think that both groups sincerely believe in what they are doing, but both have become increasingly close-minded to anything that seems to threaten their traditional ways of thinking and doing things. There are some notable exceptions to the rule, but I haven't seen too many. The sustainable agriculture movement seems to represent such a threat to both industry and extension.

Sustainable agriculture in not anti-science, anti-technology, or anti-progress. But answering the obviously legitimate questions of sustainability will require a fundamentally different kind of science than the accepted science of today. A sustainable agriculture will require technologies that work in harmony with nature rather than continue the current futile attempts to conquer nature or at least bring it under control.

Perhaps sustainable agriculture can be accurately labeled as anti-industry, but only because the new science and new technology of sustainability will result in something fundamentally different from the industrial model which has dominated the past two centuries. Real progress means moving beyond the past and present to a future that is fundamentally better. Sustainability is not about going back, but rather is about truly going forward -- instead of remaining stuck developing new technologies to support models, paradigms, and worldviews that are hopelessly out of date. Worldviews -- perceptions of how the world works -- are not matters of fact, but rather are matters of belief. You can't prove that any particular worldview is correct and another is false because all methods of proof are based on specific worldviews.

All science starts with a foundation of beliefs - with values. Our values reflect our beliefs about how we think the word works - our worldview. The currently accepted "scientific method" is based one specific worldview. It has been widely accepted because a lot of "scientists" - over the past four centuries or so - have believed in that particular worldview. But, a lot of people believing in something doesn't necessarily make it true. A lot of people believed the clerical scholars of old possessed the only true worldview before this thing we now call science was conceived.

People back then accepted this new thing called science because a lot of what the clerics were telling them just didn't make sense anymore. Today, a lot of people are becoming skeptical of, if not outright rejecting, what we now label as science because it simply doesn't make sense anymore. We need a new science that makes sense in a world where our common sense tells us that we humans are both capable of and inclined toward destroying the living global ecosystem of which we ourselves are a part.

The new, still evolving, worldview is one of a living, dynamic, interrelated global ecosystem operating according to inviolate principles of nature - including human nature. Thus, the new science must be a science that is appropriate for such a living system, of which people are but a part. The old science, even according to its creators, applies only to "dead" things. The old science views people as something apart from the rest of the world. The new science must value people, but people as a part of the larger whole. The new technologies must create opportunities for people to lead productive successful lives, rather than simply replace people with computers and robots. New science and technologies must with work in harmony with nature, including human nature, rather than attempt to conquer and control nature for our sole benefit.

Forcing people off of farms for purely economic reasons makes sense to those who hold the old worldview, but not to those of us who now have a fundamentally different view of reality. "Freeing" people from farming - or from anything else that requires thinking or any manual work - makes sense to those who hold the old worldview, but doesn't make sense to those of us who now hold different values. Attempting to dominate nature, and to thereby control markets and peoples' livelihoods, through use of GMOs may make sense to those who hold the old worldview, but doesn't make sense to a lot of the rest of us.

And attempting to "feed the world with pesticides and plastic," as advocated by Denis Avery and his followers in the Land Grant system, may make sense to "old-think scientists" but it doesn't make sense to those who believe we must use new ways of thinking. The world's hungry are no more likely to be well fed in the future that than they have been in the past as long as we continue view technology, society, economics, and politics as separate components of some sophisticated machine, rather than as critically interrelated organs of a living system.

Once a person is able to shake off the old "dead world" belief system, it becomes obvious that the science and technologies that support the industrialization of agriculture do not make sense anymore. The industrial system, quite simply, is not sustainable - no matter what new technologies may be developed to support it. We don't necessarily need to be ashamed of what has been done, or even what we may have done, in the past. People generally do the best they can, given their current level of understanding of reality. But, we shouldn't refuse to open our minds to the possibility of new paradigms, new models, even new worldviews, simply because we have spent most of our lives believing and working in ways that may now, quite logically, be out of date. It's not the sustainable agriculture folks who are clinging to the past, it's the agricultural establishment, including industry, extension, and science.

In general, the discussions that take place on "sanet" represent challenges to the old ways of thinking. Perhaps there isn't a balance of challenges to and defenses of the old ways of thinking and doing. But, there is more than adequate defense of the status quo elsewhere. The discussion should remain open and civil to those with all worldviews or belief systems. But, a concern for balance should not preclude or even discourage continuing challenges to either the old science or the new technologies of industrialization. Such discussions motivate the development of the new ideas and concepts that will be needed to sustain agriculture and thereby make possible the sustaining of humanity.

John Ikerd

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Date: 14 May 1999 11:37:06 -0500
From: "Campbell, Jon" Campbell@Rational.Com
Subject: RE: B-GE: Another from Monsanto's web site

Save-The-World Refrains of the GE Chorus

Food, health, hope ... says the Monsanto website
Fraud, stealth, hype ... says the Mutanto website
Dependence, death, despair ...

The words on the Monsanto website
( "Genetic Engineering: Sifting The Facts From The Fiction") are the same kind of words you find being said by people studied by Robert Hare in his book Without Conscience (subtitle: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us) published in 1993.

In a 1995 article in the Harvard Mental Health Letter, Hare writes about the damage done by psychopaths in every society:

"the enormous social, economic, and personal suffering inflicted by a few people whose antisocial attitudes and behavior result less from social forces than from an inherent sense of entitlement and an incapacity for emotional connection to the rest of humanity. For these individuals - psychopaths - social rules have no constraining force, and the idea of a common good is merely a puzzling and inconvenient abstraction.

"Psychopaths use charm, manipulation, intimidation, and violence to control others and satisfy their own selfish needs. Lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they cold-bloodedly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest guilt or regret."

Substitute the words "psychopathic corporation" for the word "psychopath" in the quote, and you have a picture of what we are up against.

Monsanto is a corporation that has polluted the planet with PCBs, dioxin, & glyphosate, poisoned our food with Aspartame, rBGH, and "novel" proteins, and openly and flagrantly lied to the public and to Congress. They don't even need to lie to the FDA, the USDA, the Export Agency, or the President anymore because the company has purchased those organizations wholesale. It appears that the company has purchased astounding influence in many countries outside the US. The company has the best and nastiest PR firms in the world working for it.

What Dr. Hare did not study in depth is the ramifications of corporations, and often their leadership, whose culture is psychopathic.

I believe that that is what we are dealing with here. I do not know if the leadership of Monsanto is psychopathic. That is unimportant. What is important is that we recognize that that is the corporate culture of the company.


-----Original Message-----
From: Matthew Hodges
Sent: Friday, May 14, 1999 1:03 PM
Subject: Re: B-GE: Another from Monsanto's web site


In reading the excerpt from the below post (Another from Monsanto's web site), I was struck by the following quote:

"One, the new technology is unavoidable, and it's here to stay. Reverting to old technologies that fed a much smaller world population would be impossible..."

Here again is one of the primary save-the-world refrains of the GE chorus, ringing like the sound of tree-frogs into the background as an unquestioned truism.

While I have seen many articles indicating REDUCED yields from GAF crops, as well as various other faux pas, I have not seen anyone touting the vastly increased yields, or even moderately increased yields, that might justify this claim. So far, the actual result appears to be more in the direction of a vastly increased consumption of Roundup, Liberty, Basta, etc.

To my knowledge there is not a single peer-reviewed empirical study demonstrating the SAFETY of genetically altered foods (GAFs). Is this also true of the VASTLY INCREASED YIELDS that are being so constantly trumpeted as our salvation?


Matt Hodges

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Date: 14 May 1999 11:48:28 -0500
From: MichaelP

Brussels refuses to lift ban on US beef

INDEPENDENT (London) May 14

EUROPE is bracing itself for an extension of its trade war with America after the European Commission's decision yesterday to defy a World Trade Organisation ruling that it must lift a decade-old ban on hormone-treated US beef.

The decision is expected to provoke retaliation from Washington, which is expected to announce a figure for trade sanctions against Europe possibly running to hundreds of millions of dollars. That move is the first step towards new tariffs against a range of European products, from jam to mopeds, which could begin in July.

The dispute has provoked new transatlantic political strains just as efforts were under way to reach a negotiated settlement in the damaging bust-up over European Union banana imports. The EU argues that the hormone-treated meat endangers children's health and poses a wider cancer risk. a view rejected by America.

A preliminary study released by the EU earlier this month argued that six hormones used to stimulate growth in cattle pose threats of differing severity and adds that children may be specially at risk.

The results of the EU studies will not be available until the end of the year. Brussels has offered to negotiate over compensation through other trade concessions.

A spokesman for the European Commission said yesterday: "The latest scientific evidence means that we cannot lift the beef ban but we want to comply with our WTO obligations, we want to talk to the Americans about compensation and we want open, transparent dialogue with them on the science."

*** 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. ***

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Date: 14 May 1999 14:37:17 -0500
From: (jim mcnulty)

Dolly the Sheep creator tries to clone a pig

May 14, 1999 © Copyright 1999, Agence France Press/Financial Times

EDINBURGH, AFX via NewsEdge Corporation : Professor Ian Wilmut, the creator of Dolly the Sheep, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, is trying to clone a pig.

Wilmut told the BBC he was trying to develop a technique to clone pigs so that their organs could be used for transplants into humans.

"The importance of pigs is that they are considered to be the most likely species to provide all the things like hearts and kidneys to transfer into human patients," Wilmut said.

"I am sure you are aware there's a great shortage of organs to transfer into patients and people are dying for the lack of an organ from a suitable human donor."

The BBC said researchers at Wilmut's Roslin Institute in Edinburgh were attempting to "knock out" some of the genes in pig organs which normally cause their rejection in humans.

They would then attempt to clone the genetically engineered cell, then insert the modified cell into a pig egg to create a cloned and modified embryo which they hope will develop into a piglet.

Pigs at the institute had already been impregnated with cloned cells, and although the technique had yet to be perfected, the world's first cloned pig was expected to be born by the end of the year, said the BBC.

Last week Wilmut struck a million-dollar deal with U.S. company Geron to work on human cloning.

He will try to develop techniques to clone a patient's own cells for transplant, which could provide treatments for a wide range of degenerative diseases.


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Date: 16 May 1999 01:55:09 -0500
From: MichaelP

Loggers plan giant genetically manipulated trees

By Marie Woolf, Political Correspondent Sunday Independent (london) May 16

Forests of giant genetically engineered trees are being planned in a development which ecologists fear will threaten entire ecosystems.

Pulp and paper companies have teamed up with the world's leading biotechnology firms to alter trees genetically to make them grow faster, pulp more easily and give them resistance to pests.

But the drive to create "designer trees" has caused alarm among environmentalists who fear that it could cause irreparable damage to the plants, insects and animals that rely on trees to survive.

They say that if logging companies create "custom-made" trees the world's forests could be disrupted, along with the complex ecosystems they sustain.

They also fear that new GM traits - such as herbicide resistance - will be spread to natural trees, creating hybrids. In a nightmarish vision of the future, they warn that trees engineered to grow faster could cross-breed with their ordinary relatives, creating enormous trees which block out the sun, suck up huge amounts of water and damage houses with their giant roots.

Several patents on genetically modifying the structure of trees have recently been filed and multi-million dollar joint ventures are already being forged between logging companies and agro-chemical firms.

Last month, Monsanto signed a $60m joint venture with International Paper, Westvaco Corporation and Fletcher Challenge Forests to genetically engineer faster-growing trees with improved fibre quality.

In Britain, the first test site of genetically engineered poplar trees has been planted near Bracknell, Berkshire, by biotechnology company Zeneca.

The EU-funded experiment is designed to create a species which can produce cleaner paper. All the GM trees are female so they cannot breed with neighbouring species.

But environmentalists fear that, because trees take up to 100 years to mature, it will be impossible to conduct proper tests to predict any effects on the environment.

The Forestry Commission, the Government's ruling body on UK woodland, has been experimenting with engineering the genes in Sitka spruce to make the pine resistant to pests and diseases. But the Commission has warned that GM organisms should not be used in forestry in the UK until they have been properly tested.

*** 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. ***

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Date: 19 May 1999 05:34:09 -0500
From: Jon


The following article on the agricultural performance of GM crops will soon be available on the ngin website. Written by Mark Griffiths RICS, one of the foremost UK critics of the agronomic performance of GM crops, who was recently asked by the UK's Environment Agency to contribute to a workshop of key players in the GE field, it shows how US research is indicating that GM crop performance is frequently worse (lower yields etc) than for non-GM varieties. So why are millions of acres of GM crops being grown by US farmers in the often mistaken belief that they are more profitable? The article below explains why.

See the internet links at the end of this article for access to Mark's nlpwessex site which provides more information on the poor agronomic performance of GM crops and many valuable links. You can also register from that site onto nlpwessex's highly recommended e-mail list which will keep you abreast of GM crop issues.

This article is also available at

Performance of GM Crops: The Emperor's Transgenic Clothes

By Mark Griffiths BSc FRICS FAAV
Environment Spokesman, Natural Law Party, United Kingdom
January 1999, Released May 1999 (Copyright Reserved)

Are GMO lemmings in the US leading all of us over the biotechnology cliff?

Two or three years after their introduction the transnational biotechnology companies now point with great pride to the millions of acres of transgenic crops sweeping the United States and other parts of the world where the regulation of agriculture utilising genetically modified organisms has been engineered to ease its introduction.

Rapturous testimonials by apparently fully satisfied produce or bust North Americans are paraded in corporate advertising campaigns. They make it clear that no self-respecting progressive grower could possibly expect to survive far into the future of the competitive world of agricultural global trade without the now essential genetic material derived from foreign viruses and bacteria randomly inserted into the genomes of traditional crop varieties.

There's no doubt that this technology has the ability to impress US farmers who are desperate to find any way they can out of the current agricultural recession in America. The ability to use a broad spectrum etotali herbicide such as Roundup (which allows no other plant competing with the crop to survive) is seductive. Rick Faulkner of New Madrid, Missouri, was certainly impressed with the results on his farm in 1997:

"With Roundup Ready soybeans, I had the cleanest beans I've ever had. I'd say there were less than 10 weeds in the whole 120 acres when I came through at harvest.

But like many of life's most powerful seductions the beauty of many GM products is proving to be only skin deep.

Just like the silicon implants embedded in the heaving chests of her Hollywood cousins, the GM seductress's plastic surgery has begun to develop serious complications. Most spectacular to date has been the thousands of acres of crop failures affecting genetically modified cotton in Mississippi in 1997, resulting in the biotech surgeons having to pay out millions of dollars in compensation.

Other side effects of the technology are more subtle. Research publicised in 1998 by the University of Arkansas and the agro-chemical giant Cyanamid (whose sales of residual herbicides have been badly hit by the new broad spectrum herbicide resistant GM varieties) revealed reduced profit levels and lower yields for GM soya and cotton compared with unmodified varieties.

Surely some mistake. If there were problems with GM crops then US farmers wouldnit be growing them, right? After all penny-pinching American farmers are not technically and financially gullible, are they?

These anomalies led me to an interesting exchange of email correspondence, plus a particularly lengthy transatlantic telephone conversation, in September 1998 with Dr Charles Hagedorn, Professor of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, of Virginia Tech University.

In addition to his academic work, Professor Hagedorn is an Extension Specialist within the Virginia Co-operative Extension Service operated in conjunction with Virginia State University and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The service is part funded by both state and federal

governments. As an Extension Specialist Chuck Hagedorn's task is to transfer research findings and agronomic advice from the service partners directly to working farmers in Virginia so that they have access to the best science when selecting crop varieties and designing field management strategies.

Similar arrangements exist in other US states.

As a scientist Chuck Hagedorn was not entirely happy with the way US farmers are being drawn into using what many regard as an unproven technology. He agreed to go on the record regarding some of his observations about the way GM crops have been introduced in the States:

Traditionally, companies in the US introduce a new variety, and our Extension crop specialists (in each state where the crop is grown) then field test the new variety for at least 3 to 5 years. During this field testing process the Extension crop specialists introduce the new variety to farmers in their region and give them unbiased information (the good points and bad points) about growing the new variety. The Ag companies get good information about the performance of their new varieties from this traditional crop evaluation process as well.

With the GM crops, this traditional process has been largely bypassed, mainly due to the rush to try and establish market share with the GM crops. Now, the Ag companies are going directly to the farmers with contracts for growing their GM crops, and the Extension crop specialist is out of the loop. In the US, sales of the GM crops to farmers have gone wild, and farmers all want them - whether they need them or not. This is a classic case of what has been described in the literature as a situation where commercial development and marketing is way ahead of the science.

Our USDA is now deregulating GM crops with great speed, so I don't see the situation changing. It will take some type of major problem (such as a Bt-resistant cotton weevil or a roundup resistant weed) to make USDA take a slower approach. The GM crop advocates, of course, claim that no such problems will occur. I don't think it wise to presume to be in such complete control of biology.

In the politest possible way Chuck Hagedorn seemed to be talking about US agricultural lemmings, and possibly worse.

To some degree Professor Hagedorn's words are already proving prophetic. The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has since announced that it is introducing special restrictions on new varieties of GM corn engineered to contain a gene from a bacteria, colloquially known as Bt. The Bt gene is embedded in the DNA of every cell of every corn plant and is toxic to insects that are a pest of the crop.

However, unlike spray insecticides, the Bt pesticide gene resides permanently in the environment without molecular breakdown throughout the life-cycle of the plant. The pests are, therefore, constantly exposed to the toxin (which, incidentally, remains in the final food product) and as a result they mutate rapidly to create their own resistance to it.

Consequently many farmers now have to spray insecticide on their genetically engineered Bt crops in addition to trying to make use of the toxic gene.

Effectively they have to pay twice for pest control, once through the technology fee that comes with the GM seed and again when they purchase and apply insecticide on the crop. It is worth remembering that the original purpose of these crops was to make such sprays unnecessary.

Such is the rapid breakdown of this technology that the EPA has now ruled that new Bt varieties can only be planted on part of a farmer's corn acreage. The somewhat shaky idea is that by having some of the crop in non-Bt varieties the pests will have somewhere to go where they can reproduce without producing Bt resistance mutation.

Ironically this approach involves actively encouraging the survival of pests rather than eliminating them as originally intended, and not all farmers feel comfortable with a strategy which can leave part of their crop with neither GM nor spray protection. If they bottle out and insist on spraying the pests as a result, then forty percent of the crop has to be dedicated to non-Bt varieties.

Under Professor Hagedorn's scenario, where Extension specialists are now out of the loop as far as GM varieties are concerned, it is not easy get hard data on the real effects of GM products on crop performance and farmer's incomes.

The vast majority of GM performance data is held by the biotech companies themselves. It is rare for them to release it in detailed format, and certainly this is so when it comes to making comparisons with traditional unmodified varieties. When data is released it is usually in the form of summaries where unreleased raw data has been analysed and interpreted by the companies themselves, not by independent agronomists such as Chuck Hagedorn.

The raw data itself is rarely provided. So far there has been little attempt to make formal performance comparisons in a critical way between transgenic and non-transgenic varieties, even within the publicly funded Extension Services themselves.

Where such work is done, and the results published, crop varieties are usually listed by reference number and the fact that varieties are transgenic or otherwise would often not be immediately apparent to a working farmer without his doing a great deal of further investigation.

Not even the agronomists themselves may know. When I contacted the University of Purdue in November 1998 about which of the varieties in their corn trials were transgenic, Phil DeVillez their corn performance coordinator, confirmed an astonishing lack of available information:

To determine if a hybrid [in our trials]is transgenic you would have to contact that company. That information is not supplied to us.

It was at this point that Chuck Hagedorn's remarks about the Extension specialist being out of the loop took on a whole new meaning. The bizarre situation surrounding the Purdue corn trials appeared to be clear confirmation that the biotech companies were doing their best to keep transgenic varieties away from the traditional independent tests which would make it possible to compare their performance with unmodified varieties.

Transgenics are sweeping America thanks, at least in part, to a huge independent testing vacuum. This vacuum is conveniently providing a walkover victory for commercial imperative and sophisticated marketing, over objective science and genuine utility.

With diligence some information can, however, be dug up. Trials by Cyanamid on nearly 300 test sites across the US showed that high performing non-modified varieties produced yields up to 20% more than glyphospate herbicide resistant transgenic soyabeans in 1997. Not surprisingly the breeders of the transgenic varieties have asked to see the raw data behind Cyanamid's claims. Neither side, however, seems keen to discuss their raw data.

So is it possible to find any independent data? Well, there is a little and it makes interesting reading. The University of Purdue has done some work which looked at the yield performance of GM soya varieties in 1997 compared with non-modified varieties. Herbicide trangenic soya varieties yielded on average between 12% and 20% less than unmodified varieties grown at the same locations.

Work done by the University of Arkansas is presented in a way which makes it harder to elicit average comparisons, but within the published listings for the 1998 harvest the top performing Soya varieties in terms of yield are almost invariably non-modified varieties. One of the reasons for this is that genetic engineering is not nearly as reliable as the biotechnologists would have us believe. Engineering traits into plants using transgenic techniques can be highly genome dependent. In other words, only some varieties are capable of successful modification in this way.

Guidance from the University of Minnesota Extension service issued in September 1998 also hints at a perhaps understandable, though not commendable, reluctance by biotechnology companies to draw farmersi attention to the higher performance of superior non-modified varieties : It is still important that producers ask for performance information on non-Roundup Ready Soybeans and pick the highest yielding varieties. However, farmers who ask the right questions on herbicide resistant varieties and best evaluate unbiased performance data will likely have the highest profits this coming year. Do you get their drift?

So what does all this mean for the future of genetic engineering in agriculture? Firstly, it would appear that it involves taking additional risks with the safety of our health and the well-being of our environment in return for marginal or non-existent benefits in many cases. In a press interview in San Fransisco in November 1998 the Chief Executive of biotech giant Monsanto, Bob Shapiro, described those risks (effects) as unknown, and to some degree unknowable.

Secondly, the claimed benefits in many cases are only perceived and not actual. A couple of excerpts from the University of Mississipiis October 1998 Extension Service agronomic newsletter are instructive. First, Dr Alan Blaine on Soybean variety selection since the advent of transgenic crops:

After the last couple of years, I have taken a new approach to selecting varieties. As always, growers need to use varieties that perform consistently and are adapted to a particular soil type or have a particular disease package. This is the way you have always or should have always selected varieties, but with the introduction of many new transgenic lines and new premier lines every year, we have, in many cases, overlooked the consistency factor. I try to look at as many tests as I can. I also look at yields over a wide range of environments and listen to everything a company can tell me about a variety, but I am not going to believe anything until I see it.

Repeatedly I have heard about how great this new line is or how wonderful this particular variety is. All this may be true, but the only way you are going to know this for certain is to look at a variety's ability to perform consistently, and this will not be accomplished based on one year. A new line may be the greatest ever released, but I'd find out on 10 to 20 acres. I personally would not experiment with any variety on any sizable acreage.

Take a sensible approach to variety selection, because many of the problems experienced over the last 2 years might have been avoided if thoroughly tested. In defense of new varieties, I am not questioning their abilities to perform, just that an in-depth evaluation allows you to better identify strengths and weaknesses. In the case of many transgenic varieties, more changes than the number. However, only time will allow you to get a better handle on performance.

Even if he appears reluctant to be overtly critical of them Dr Clarke clearly has some doubts about the performance of transgenic soya varieties, as well as the claims that the companies producing make about them. So what does his colleague Dr Will McCarty have to say about his experience of transgenic cotton varieties. Are his views more explicit?

Before you plant transgenic varieties, be sure you need the value added trait. Also evaluate the yields of varieties with the transgenic trait you desire and study the risk/benefit ratio, if any. In other words, if you feel you need Bt and the variety offered does not, or has not yielded well for you or in your area, consider the risk of not using it and the potential cost of additional insect control versus potential yield loss to planting it. The same can be said for a transgenic variety for herbicide tolerance.

There were reported problems with Roundup Ready cotton in Mississippi during the 1997 and 1998 growing seasons. There are also reports of possible Roundup Ready problems in at least three other states in 1998. Before you pay extra for the convenience of using a particular herbicide over-the-top, be sure the variety fits your farm and will yield well. Also, consider if you really need that particular program.

What I am saying is that what you are doing may not be all bad and you need an economic incentive to changeO. Also, transgenic varieties may not perform like their parent. Just because you have had good experience with a particular variety does not mean that you will have the same results with a transgenic version. Variety selection is critical.

Once again, in the politest possible way, we have an independent US agricultural Extension specialist suggesting that his farmers may be making a mistake in economic terms when it comes to rushing into growing genetically engineered crops (complete with their randomly inserted viral and bacterial components).

If he is correct, then why are the biotech companies pursuing a technology which in many respects appears to be inferior? In addition to the fact that they have already spent too much R&D money to be able to turn back now in the face of shareholder pressure, the answer lies in the economic control of large parts of the food chain which the technology promises to provide.

Unlike traditional varieties GM seeds are subject to patent. This allows restrictive contractual obligations to be imposed on GM growers which it is not possible to apply using traditional varieties. Farmers cannot save their own seed from GM crops without the consent of the patent holder, and GM seed supply contracts frequently stipulate that the farmer must only use chemicals controlled by the same biotechnology company.

In these circumstances the temptation for biotechnology companies to start buying traditional seed houses (which is already happening at an alarming rate) in order to phase out existing non-modified varieties irrespective of their merits is a major worry. It is not in the biotechnology companies' interests for farmers to continue having access to competitive non-GM seed.

If some farmers think that such scenarios of economic totalitarianism are simply the product of unsubstantiated paranoia and wild imagination, then the views of Friedrich Vogel, head of BASF's crop protection business, make it clear that the provision of favours to the farming community does not form part of the biotechnology industry's agenda for the ubiquitous introduction of this technology: "Farmers will be given just enough to keep them interested in growing the crops, but no more. And GM companies and food processors will say very clearly how they want the growers to grow the crops."

Putting aside for one moment the most important fact (both in terms of human rights and in the context of market economics) that most consumers do not wish to eat genetically modified products, what are we to make of all this?

Donning the emperor's new trangenic clothes, is it wise for farmers across the globe to start emulating their American cousins? Under the fabricated justification of international economic competitiveness and sustainable development, should we all be plunging over the hallowed cliff of biotechnology, dragging the health of society and the well-being of our environment with us into the genetically modified shark-infested waters below?

Bill Christison farms over 2,000 acres at Chillicote, Missouri, producing soybeans, corn, wheat, hay and cattle. He is President of the US National Family Farm Coalition. His words delivered at a conference on Biodevastation held in St Louis, Missouri in July 1998, give an important perspective on the value of growing GM herbicide resistant soya. They perhaps provide a poignant clue to an honest answer to those questions: "The promise was that you could use less chemicals and produce a greater yield. But let me tell you none of this is true.

Mark Griffiths BSc FRICS FAAV
Environment Spokesman
Natural Law Party, United Kingdom

January 1999 (Copyright Reserved)

Released May 1999

This article is also available at

For more information on the poor agronomic performance of GM crops visit:

(The Natural Law Party does not consider the risks posed by genetically engineered crops and food to be realistically containable, and is active in over 80 countries in seeking a permanent global ban. More information on these risks is available at .)