Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


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2 June 99

Table of Contents

Blair wrong on GM crops, says chief government scientist
New book on genetic engineering and its hazards
UK: GM measures scorned
How the brit. Labour party had to modify its GM stance
Large Canada corn miller turns down GM corn
People distrust Government on GM foods
Exposed: UK Labour's real aim on GM food
Poison patent alarms aid charity
GE Risk in Daily Food of Millions
Canadian Senate Committee Report Rejects BGH
International Scientific Committee Recommends Against BGH
Soy Allergies Up 50%
Consumer Pressure Pays Off
Insect resistant crops damage beneficial insects
Low yielding biotech beet and canola in UK
Super-viruses Threaten Farms
Industrial Enzymes Top Allergens
Cloned-Sheep Data Could Shake Views on Genes, Aging
UK Prince sparks GM food row
Article by HRH in Daily Mail questions safety
Hunting crops - Wrecking GM trials is short-sighted
Charles' GM Food War with Blair;
Ireland: Opponents of GM foods walk out of consultation talks with Government
Court Jury Verdict to Result in Sizable Penalties Against Monsanto Subsidiary DeKalb Genetics
Now WI (Women's Institute, UK) Wants GM Food Ban
Brazil plans Europe-style labels for GM foods
Getting it Wrong About Food
Prince Charles: The false horn of plenty
Outspoken Prince 'On Dangerous Ground'

Top NextFront Page

Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 12:32:47 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Blair wrong on GM crops, says chief government scientist

By Paul Waugh and Charles Arthur, INDEPENDENT (London) May 20

THE GOVERNMENT'S most senior scientist has contradicted Tony Blair's policy on genetically modified crops with a call for a four-year ban on their commercial release.

In a letter leaked to The Independent, Sir Robert May, the Chief Scientific Adviser, states that ministers should not allow GM crops to be released on to the market before 2003 "at the earliest".

Mr Blair and his ministers have repeatedly refused demands for a four-year ban from English Nature and other environmental groups, preferring instead a voluntary agreement with bio-tech companies.

But in a letter to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Sir Robert makes it clear he agrees with its view that no releases should occur until farm-scale crop trials are completed at the end of 2002. "I guess we really are in complete agreement, because I share your view that I 'do not see how ministers could contemplate giving permission for commercial release of the GM crops covered by this research until January 2003 at the earliest'," he writes.

Sir Robert's comments conflict directly with the Government's position on the issue and represent the most high-profile support to date for environmentalists' calls for a moratorium.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 10:46:34 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

New book on genetic engineering and its hazards

Unnatural Harvest: How Corporate Science is Secretly Altering Our Food

by Ingeborg Boyens, Doubleday books ISBN 0-385-25749-X 1999

Well written, up-to-date, and clear exposition of the hazards.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 10:46:34 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

UK: GM measures scorned

By JAMES MEIKLE, GUARDIAN (London) Saturday May 22, 1999

Cunningham moves to boost public confidence 'miserably inadequate'

Government attempts to shore up public confidence over genetically modified crops appeared to be foundering last night as a raft of measures announced by the cabinet enforcer, Jack Cunningham, were dismissed as 'miserably inadequate'.

Ministers promised new monitoring and surveillance arrangements for the new technology, including what one called 'a comfort blanket' of national checks that GM and other new foods were not affecting human health.

They announced two new advisory panels of experts and also rejected anything other than a voluntary code for managing GM crops, saying that binding legislation would take too long to implement even though it might yet be necessary.

But doctors said that the measures failed to meet safety concerns and supermarkets said they would continue to phase out GM ingredients grown abroad in their own products because of consumer pressure.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 10:46:34 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

How the brit. Labour party had to modify its GM stance

By John Vidal, GUARDIAN (London) Saturday May 22, 1999

Government has been consistently wrongfooted as the debate gathered intensity and momentum

How do you handle an explosive issue that embraces food safety, the environment, corporate power, little understood science, consumer trust and ethics?

Answers, please, to the Labour government, which has been rocked for more than a year by the GM foods controversy but is fighting to regain support after a series of humiliations and exposures which have left the prime minister dangerously isolated from public opinion.

Ever since US companies started mixing GM and conventional soya beans and exporting them to Europe, Labour has been caught out by the speed of events, the vehemence of consumer resistance, and the growing opposition of a broad consensus of pressure groups, who want a five year moratorium on growing the crops.

Labour, like the US companies who developed the patented crops and tried to introduce them by stealth, now admits privately that its handling of GM foods has been a debacle on the scale of the Tories' handling of BSE.

But for a long time ministers dismissed public concerns. Only 18 months ago government advisers and ministers were arguing that there was no need to change the labelling rules or policing system, that there were no health problems, and no serious environmental effects. In every case, it has been forced to back down, admit concerns, and tighten regulations.

Tony Blair and cabinet enforcer Jack Cunningham have become GM food's leading political advocates. Above all, they have held that a moratorium could jeopardise the biotech industry.

Last week, a Commons select committee accused Mr Blair and Mr Cunningham of being over-enthusiastic and identified a split between their attitudes and the more cautious approach of food safety minister Jeff Rooker and environment minister Michael Meacher.

But a series of reports and exposures have rocked the government. Lord Sainsbury, science minister and a member of the government's ministerial group on genetic modification, came under pressure to resign after his shareholdings in the biotech industry were made public.

The British Medical Association, the chief medical officer, and the chief scientist, as well as English Nature, have all urged caution and pointed to the need for more research.

The regulatory system inherited by Labour in 1997 has come under attack for being lax, inadequate and dominated by people in the industry. Twelve of the 16 members of one ministry of agriculture team advising the government on GM foods were shown to have some connection to the industry, and the government's advisory body on re leasing the novel foods into the environment was found to have eight members similarly linked.

Meanwhile the government's health and safety executive, charged with policing the test crops, admitted to testing only a third of the many hundreds of trials.

In March the government introduced the strongest regulations in Europe, forcing cafes, restaurants, bakers and delicatessens to declare the GM content of their foods.

But the new rules did not not cover derivatives of GM soya and maize and the policing system was described as unworkable.

Consumer pressure has played an important role in the government's reassessment. In less than a year, the supermarket chains have reversed their original positions and stopped using GM ingredients in their own brands. Some of the large industrial food producers have announced total or partial GM bans on some ranges.

Government unease has been intense. A document leaked to the Guardian showed that civil servants were being asked to address 53 questions about the government line on the technology.

As the debate has developed in different directions, with new reports and revelations almost every week, so the government has blamed the press for 'hysterical coverage' and for 'adopting the agenda' of pressure groups.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 10:46:34 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

next article posted by MichaelP papadop@peak.org

Large Canada corn miller turns down GM corn

WINNIPEG, May 21 (Reuters) - CASCO Inc., a major Canadian corn miller and a division of U.S.-based Corn Products International Inc. , said on Friday it would refuse to buy genetically modified (GM) corn from farmers, for fear of losing European customers.

"For us to continue our relations with the European Community, we cannot have any GM corn not approved by Europe," CASCO spokeswoman Shelley Wybo said.

The Ontario Corn Producers' Association (OCPA) said this week it would segregate country elevators that accept all corn from those that take only non-GM corn, in accordance with requests by CASCO and another corn buyer, NACAN.

Several U.S. companies including Cargill Inc., the world's largest grain merchant, said last month they would avoid buying corn varieties for processing that have not yet been approved in Europe.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 10:46:34 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

next 2 articles posted by MichaelP papadop@peak.org

People distrust Government on GM foods

By Marie Woolf, Political Correspondent
SUNDAY INDEPENDENT (London) May 23

The public does not trust the Government on GM food, according to its own polling.

A private poll carried out by Mori for ministers, found only 35 per cent of people trust the Government to make biotechnology decisions on their behalf. It also found only 1 per cent believed that genetically modified food was good for society.

The Government is seen as less trustworthy than environmental and consumer groups, vets and doctors when it comes to making decisions on the issue.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 10:46:34 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Exposed: UK Labour's real aim on GM food

By Geoffrey Lean, SUNDAY INDEPENDENT (London) May 23

THE Government's campaign to convince the public that it is determined to protect them, and the environment, against risks from GM crops is a cynical public relations exercise. The real intention is to buy time for industry to develop the crops - and save ministers' faces.

The Independent on Sunday has been passed a confidential document from the office of Cabinet Office minister Jack Cunningham which provides the focus, and most damning description yet, of ministers' objectives in the controversy. It flies in the face of an assurance to the Commons by Mr Cunningham, who is in charge of co-ordinating GM policy, that the Government's "overriding duty is to protect the public and the environment".

It also reveals that the Government is trying to enlist "eminent scientists" to "trail" its public relations "key messages" - even though Mr Cunningham late last week assured the Independent on Sunday that "there is no spin-doctoring exercise with scientists".

*** 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


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 11:51:44 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Thanks to Dr. Ron Epstein for posting this:

Poison patent alarms aid charity

By Andy Coghlan, New Scientist, 22 May 1999

WHILE ENVIRONMENTALISTS in the US worry about the effects of crops engineered to produce insecticides, Britain's largest agricultural biotech company holds a patent that would allow it to produce plants making some of the most potent natural poisons known to science--those from the funnel web spider (Atrax robustus). Zeneca says it will only use the toxin for research, however.

The funnel web patent is described in a report from the British development charity ActionAid. It argues that Zeneca's activities in agricultural biotechnology offer no benefits to subsistence farmers in developing countries and could pose environmental hazards.

Zeneca, which is merging with the Swedish pharmaceuticals company Astra, rejects both charges, claiming the toxins will only be used to help design more effective insecticides. "We will not be putting them in plants," says Nigel Poole, head of external and regulatory affairs with Zeneca Plant Science in Berkshire. He adds that the company would use its patent to prevent anyone else from doing so.

© Copyright New Scientist, RBI Limited 1999


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 11:51:44 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

GE Risk in Daily Food of Millions

The Guardian (UK), Publication Date: May 24, 1999

Scientists claim new tests needed on soya

Genetically modified soya beans currently found in some of the most common pro-cessed foods, including biscuits, ready-made meals and soft drinks, have been released on to the world market without the safety tests necessary to protect human health, according to independent scientists.

A Guardian investigation shows that GM soya beans eaten by millions of people daily have not been through safety trials after being sprayed with the toxic chemical herbicide they were designed to resist. The tests would have shown up any side effects on animals or humans.

Scientists fear that the beans could have undergone major chemical changes after being sprayed. They are particularly concerned about research which shows that the specially designed herbicide used can raise levels of phyto-oestrogens - plant chemicals which mimic human sex hormones -in certain beans.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 11:51:44 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson June 99 Alive

Biotech News, by Richard Wolfson, PhD

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

Canadian Senate Committee Report Rejects BGH

In its interim Report on genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (BGH), the Senate Agriculture Committee recommended that the hormone not be approved. The Committee recognized the lack of long-term research ensuring the safety of BGH, which is injected into dairy cows to increase milk production.

The Senate Committee also recommended that decisions about the safety and efficacy of drugs be left with Health Canada evaluators. Previously, Health Canada scientists testified that drugs had been approved by Health Canada management against the recommendation of their own scientists. In addition, the Committee recommended an independent evaluation of Health Canada's drug approval process to ensure that it fully safeguards human and animal health and safety. The full report is at http://www.parl.gc.ca/sencom.asp


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 11:51:44 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson June 99 Alive

International Scientific Committee Recommends Against BGH

The European Union's (EU) Scientific Veterinary Committee recently recommended that BGH not be used in dairy cows. The decision was based on the Committee's findings that the hormone results in increased foot disorders, mastitis (udder infection), reproductive disorders, and other diseases, causing pain and suffering for the cows.

The study also reported increased levels of the hormone IGF-1, which is linked to cancer, in milk from BGH-treated cows. The EU's ban on BGH is likely to continue despite heavy pressure from USA for Europe to approve the hormone.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 11:51:44 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson June 99 Alive

Soy Allergies Up 50%

A study by the York Nutritional Laboratory, Europe's leading specialists on food sensitivity, showed that soy allergies have increased 50% in the past year. It is the first time in 17 years of testing that soy has crept into the top 10 foods to cause allergic reactions. As soy is the most common genetically engineered food, the researchers say their findings indicate that genetically modified food could have a tangible, harmful impact on the human body.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 11:51:44 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson June 99 Alive

Consumer Pressure Pays Off

Hostility to genetically engineered food reached a highpoint across Europe in March when leading supermarket chains bowed to consumer pressure and removed "Frankenstein food" from their shelves. In Britain, Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer supermarkets removed all genetically modified (GM) ingredients from their own-brand products. Other European chains removing GE foods included the French hypermarket retailer Carrefour, Delhaize of Belgium, Migros in Switzerland, Effelunga in Italy and the Irish group Superquinn.

Regulations that recently went into effect in UK require all food-sellers, from restaurants to hot-dog stands, to inform their customers about any genetically modified ingredients contained in their food. Violators can face fines of up to £5,000.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 11:51:44 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson June 99 Alive

Insect resistant crops damage beneficial insects

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Research Station for Agro-ecology and Agriculture found new evidence that lacewings (beneficial insects that eat caterpillars and aphids) can be poisoned by genetically engineered insect-resistant Bt crops. Research at the Scottish Crop Research Institute reported that a variety of genetically engineered insect-resistant potatoes reduced the life span and egg production of ladybugs.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 11:51:44 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson June 99 Alive

Low yielding biotech beet and canola in UK

The UK's National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) reported reductions in yield by up to seven or eight percent for genetically engineered canola and sugar beet, compared to traditional varieties when the crops were managed using conventional weed control techniques. Even with additional herbicide use on the herbicide-resistant GE-beet, the conventional varieties significantly outperformed the biotech crop.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 11:51:44 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson June 99 Alive

Super-viruses Threaten Farms

A report commissioned by the UK Government found that plants genetically engineered to be resistant to common plant viruses could create new, more virulent "super-viruses." Scientists are concerned that these new plant viruses could attack indigenous plants and even wipe out entire farms. The report says that there is insufficient research to determine the long-term effects of introducing viral resistance.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 11:51:44 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson June 99 Alive

Industrial Enzymes Top Allergens

In a study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), allergies and asthma were linked to industrial enzymes, many of which are genetically engineered. For 90% of asthma patients and 80% of patients with allergy problems, the symptoms either disappeared or were strongly reduced by eliminating industrial enzymes from their diet and from laundry detergents.

The enzymes are often produced from genetically modified molds and bacteria. Biotech enzymes are used in the processing of a wide range of foods, including flour, starches, soda pop, fruit juices, oils, beer, wine, and cheese. Residues of the molds and bacteria can be the main culprits of allergies.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 11:51:44 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

next article posted by Colleen Robison-Spencer crobison@mnsinc.com

Cloned-Sheep Data Could Shake Views on Genes, Aging

By Rick Weiss

Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, May 27, 1999; Page A1

Although Dolly was born in 1996, her cells are at least nine years old. (Roslin Institute)

Bad news for people who had hoped that cloning might allow them to create more youthful copies of themselves: The first molecular studies ever conducted on Dolly, the 3-year-old sheep cloned from a 6-year-old ewe, have found that Dolly's cells are, in essence, at least 9 years old.

The surprising results suggest that clones somehow inherit not only the genes, but in some respects the age, of the animals from which they are made.

"It sounds like the worst of our fantasies about cloning, combining the inexperience of youth with the biology of the aged," said Thomas H. Murray, president of the Hastings Center, a Garrison, N.Y.-based ethics think tank and a member of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission that prepared a report on human cloning for President Clinton in 1997.

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


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Fri, 4 Jun 1999 10:52:33 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

UK Prince sparks GM food row

BBC News June 01, 1999 Tuesday, June 1, 1999

Prince Charles's article will add fuel to an aready heated debate

Prince Charles has launched a scathing attack on genetically-modified products, but the UK Government has reponded by saying it won't force GM foods "down people's throats".

In an article in Tuesday's Daily Mail, Prince Charles poses a series of questions about the safety of GM foods and attacked the lack of independent scientific research. And he rejects the argument that GM crops represent a solution to feeding the world's growing population as "emotional blackmail".

.............

2/6/99 BBC ON-Line You back prince on GM crops <Picture>

Prince Charles: "Spot on", thought most users <Picture>

BBC News Online users have overwhelmingly backed Prince Charles in his stance over genetically-modified (GM) crops.

By lunchtime on Wednesday, more than 400 e-mails had been received on the issue. Of these, over 75% backed the prince, who in an impassioned newspaper article questioned whether science should be meddling with the "very stuff of life".


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Fri, 4 Jun 1999 10:52:33 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Reprinted from The Telegraph (London, UK)

Article by HRH in Daily Mail questions safety

By Charles Clover and George Jones
The Calgary Herald, Wed 02 Jun 1999, Page B8

Prince reignites debate on genetically altered crops

Deep divisions emerged within the British Government Monday over the development of genetically modified crops, following a challenge by Prince Charles to claims they could help to feed the world in the next century.

Downing Street reacted with thinly disguised irritation to an article by about the safety, ethics and efficacy of genetic modification technology.

Although the prime minister's spokesman refused to be drawn into a direct clash with the prince, it was clear there is considerable anger in Whitehall at the way he has reignited the debate in Britain on the issue.

The prince's intervention has delivered a body blow to the government's attempts to reassure people that genetically modified crops are safe.

But ministers fear an open clash with the prince would serve only to intensify the controversy, so the government's damage control exercise was designed to play down the impact of his intervention.

Most of the 10 questions the prince had asked in some form before.

But he effectively parachuted a cat into one of the government's most hotly defended chicken coops by questioning the assertion that genetic modification technology will help feed the world when its population doubles in the next century. suspiciously like emotional the prince said the countries that could be expected to benefit took a different view. Representatives of 20 African countries, including Ethiopia, had published a statement denying that gene technologies would help farmers to produce the food they needed. They think it will destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and the sustainable agricultural systems . . . and undermine our capacity to feed said the prince.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Fri, 4 Jun 1999 10:52:33 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Hunting crops - Wrecking GM trials is short-sighted

Wednesday June 2, 1999 The Guardian (UK)

The debate over genetically modified foods is now polarised between those who hail their development as the solution to our planet's demographic explosion, and those who fear an Orwellian future where our dabbling in the stuff of life will kill much more than the beautiful Monarch butterfly. Prince Charles is the latest recruit to the latter camp. Between these positions lie many confused people. However, there is one point on which virtually everyone, bar a few environmental fundamentalists, agree: more testing is needed. ...

Here are Prince Charles' 10 fears for GM food, which were printed in the Guardian: (abbreviated; more elaborate version)

Wednesday June 2, 1999

  1. Do we need GM food in this country?

    The Prince: The benefits, such as there are seem to be limited to the people who own the technology and the people who farm on an industrialised scale.

  2. Is GM food safe for us to eat?

    The Prince: Only independent scientific research, over a long period, can provide the final answer.

  3. Why are the final rules for approving GM foods so much less stringent than those for new medicines produced using the same technology?

    The Prince: Before drugs are released on to the market they have to undergo the most rigorous testing...Surely it is equally important that [GM foods] will do us no harm.

  4. How much do we really know about the environmental consequences of GM crops?

    The Prince: Lab tests showing that pollen from GM maize in the United States caused damage to the caterpillars of Monarch butterflies provide the latest cause for concern. More alarmingly, this GM maize is not under test.

  5. Is it sensible to plant test crops without strict regulations in place?

    The Prince: Such crops are being planted in this country now - under a voluntary code of practice. But English Nature has argued that enforceable regulations should be in place first.

  6. How will consumers be able to exercise genuine choice?

    The Prince: Labelling schemes clearly have a role to play, but if conventional and organic crops are contaminated by GM crops, people who wish to avoid GM food products will be denied choice.

  7. If something goes wrong with a GM crop, who will be held responsible?

    The Prince: It is important that we know precisely who is going to be legally liable to pay for any damage - whether it be to human health, the environment or both.

  8. Are GM crops really the only way to feed the world's growing population?

    The Prince: This arguments sounds suspiciously like emotional blackmail to me.

  9. What effect will GM crops have on the people of world's poorest countries?

    The Prince: Where people are starving, lack of food is rarely the underlying cause. The need is to create sustainable livelihoods for everyone. Will GM crops really help or will they make the problems worse?

  10. What sort of world do we want to live in?

    The Prince: Are we going to allow the industrialisation of Life itself, redesigning the natural world for the sake of convenience? Or should we be adopting a gentler, more considered approach, seeking always to work with the grain of nature?


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Fri, 4 Jun 1999 10:52:33 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Charles' GM Food War with Blair;

By Jane Kerr And Kevin Maguire, The Mirror (UK), June 2, 1999, Wednesday

PM Seething as Prince Attacks Claims on Safety

PRINCE CHARLES went to war with Tony Blair over genetically modified foods yesterday. The Premier was said to be "seething" after Charles questioned the Government's claims that GM foods are safe. Charles privately lobbied the PM five weeks ago to take a firmer line against crop tests, amid fears that safety controls will not work.

But Mr Blair refused to back down. The showdown at St James's Palace ended with them "agreeing to disagree", said an insider.

Charles's remarks in a hard-hitting article strike at the heart of the Government campaign to reassure the public.

He called for independent research, said he feared people may end up eating contaminated crops because of the lack of strict regulations on cultivation and said the Government claim that GM food can help prevent global hunger was "emotional blackmail".

Environment Minister Michael Meacher said last night: "I don't think he is embarrassing the Government. He is raising issues that deserve to be raised."

Monsanto, the US giant at the forefront of developing GM crops, said: "Dozens of worldwide regulatory agencies have decided they are safe... backed up by 20 years' research and more than 20,000 field trials." Downing Street said: "The Government is proceeding according to the best science available. GM foods on the market in this country are safe."

But Greenpeace said: "Prince Charles is right... our right to choose organic and non-GM food is being jeopardised by crop trials already under way. This will contaminate organic and non-GM crops."

Friends of the Earth said: "Prince Charles has set out the fears of most people. Why does Mr Blair seem more concerned at supporting the biotech industry than protecting the environment?"

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


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 12:44:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Thanks to jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty) for posting the following two articles

Ireland: Opponents of GM foods walk out of consultation talks with Government

The Irish Times, June 03, 1999

Dempsey disappointed after being accused of ruling out consideration of Irish moratorium

The Government's consultation process on genetically-modified foods has been derailed by the withdrawal of 19 organisations, all opponents of the way GM foods are being introduced to Ireland.

The process, which was being overseen by the Minister for the Environment, Mr Dempsey, is nonetheless due to resume today. The second day's debate will be chaired by a four-member independent panel headed by Dr Turlough O'Donnell QC.

At a press conference yesterday to announce their decision, the NGOs were highly critical of Mr Dempsey's ruling out consideration of the possibility of an Irish moratorium on the development and release of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) into the environment.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 12:44:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Court Jury Verdict to Result in Sizable Penalties Against Monsanto Subsidiary DeKalb Genetics

Company Press Release, Rhone-Poulenc Agro, Thursday June 3, 1999

GREENSBORO, N.C., June 3 /PRNewswire/ -- DeKalb Genetics Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MTC - news), faces at least $65 million in damages and penalties as a result of a federal court jury which has found the company infringed on a genetic technology patent owned by Rhone-Poulenc Agro.

The jury on Wednesday upheld Rhone-Poulenc Agro's patent which was used by DeKalb in its development and sale of Roundup Ready® corn. The jury also found DeKalb misappropriated trade secrets when it transferred Rhone-Poulenc Agro's technology to Monsanto and commercialized Roundup Ready corn.


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Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 12:44:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Now WI (Women's Institute, UK) Wants GM Food Ban

By Padraic Flanagan, PA News (UK) 06/03 0249

The Women's Institute has added its voice to demands for a five-year ban on growing genetically-modified crops for food. The National Federation of Women's Institutes, representing more than 250,000 women, voted overwhelmingly in favour of the moratorium yesterday. They also demanded that the Government should ban imports of GM foods for the same period, until consumer safety and environmental concerns have been fully investigated.

A packed meeting at the Royal Albert Hall in London found 7,055 votes to 368 voting in favour of the moratorium, delivering another major blow to Government efforts to reassure consumers about the new food science.

The WI has more than 250,000 members in 368 local federations throughout the country and is renowned for its traditional values on food and communities.

The vote was prompted by a motion from the Ickenham village branch in Middlesex.

Sangeeta Haindl, Federation spokeswoman, told the Daily Telegraph: "Lots of our branches are concerned about the issue of GM food.

"Local WIs are involved in many projects to improve the quality of life in their areas and food is a very important part of that.

"Women want to be sure of the ingredients they use when baking their cakes and cooking in general. They are concerned for their families."

The storm over GM foods gathered further momentum yesterday when a senior Labour backbencher and ex- minister echoed the call for a five-year freeze on the introduction of mutant crops.


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Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 12:44:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Brazil plans Europe-style labels for GM foods

SAO PAULO, June 2 (Reuters)

Brazil's government plans to specially label all genetically modified (GM) foods and their ingredients, mirroring a system recently adopted in Europe, the Agriculture Ministry said on Wednesday. The announcement will be sealed with a government decree to be published later this week that will also set up a regulatory board to fine-tune and enforce new labeling rules, ministry spokesman Tito Matos de Souza said." It is going to be just like the European system. The idea is to give consumers all of this information," Souza said. "The decree should come out very, very soon, in the next few days," he added.

The decision marks a huge victory for environmental and consumer advocacy groups, who have been calling for tighter regulations over biotechnology's use in agriculture.


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Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 12:44:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Getting it Wrong About Food

The Guardian (London) June 3, 1999

The most asinine biotechnology report ever written

Monsanto's advertising agency warned the company not to argue that genetic engineering would feed the world. But the temptation proved too great.

'Worrying about starving future generations," its adverts informed us last year, 'won't feed them. Food biotechnology will." It's hard to see how even a body with Monsanto's self-belief could have imagined that this claim would stand up. For the corporation had already made its position quite clear.

'What you are seeing," one of its executives explained in 1997, as his company purchased scores of seed merchants and biotech firms, 'is a consolidation of the entire food chain." The vertical integration it was engineering would grant it a control over food consumption that would have made Stalin writhe in envy.

Monsanto's argument was swiftly and comprehensively dismissed. Development agencies pointed out that people starve not because there is an absolute shortage of food (the world currently produces a surplus) but because food and the means to produce it are concentrated in the hands of the rich and powerful. Corporations seeking to consolidate the food chain threatened to make this situation far worse.


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Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 12:44:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Prince Charles: The false horn of plenty

By HRH Charles, Prince of Wales, The Ottawa Citizen June 03, 1999

What we don't know about genetically altered food may hurt us, writes Charles, Prince of Wales.

The debate about the use of genetically modified technology continues, with daily news of claims about the safety or the risks. The public's reaction shows instinctive nervousness about tampering with nature when we don't know all the consequences. There are unanswered questions which need to be asked -- about the need for genetically modified food, its safety, the environmental consequences, consumer choice and the usefulness to feed the world's growing population.

Many food producers and retailers have clearly felt the same overwhelming anxiety from their consumers who are demanding a choice in what they eat. A number have banned genetically modified ingredients from their own-brand products.

But the debate continues to rage. Not a day goes by without some new piece of research claiming to demonstrate either the safety or the risks of genetically modified technology. It is very hard for people to know just who is right. Few of us are able to interpret all the scientific information which is available, and even the experts don't always agree.

But what I believe the public's reaction shows is that instinctively we are nervous about tampering with nature when we can't be sure that we know enough about all the consequences. I believe that there are still a number of unanswered questions which need to be asked. 10 Questions and Answers

  1. Do we need genetically modified food in this country?

    On the basis of what we have seen so far, we don't appear to need it at all. The benefits, such as there are, seem to be limited to the people who own the technology and the people who farm on an industrialized scale.

    We are constantly told that this technology may have huge benefits for the future. Well, perhaps. But we have all heard claims like that before and they don't always come true in the long run - look at the case of antibiotic growth promoters in animal feedstuff ...

  2. Is genetically modified food safe for us to eat?

    There is certainly no evidence to the contrary. But how much evidence do we have? And are we looking at the right things? The major decisions about what can be grown and what can be sold are taken on the basis of studying what is known about the original plant, comparing it to the genetically substantially

    But is it enough to look only at what is already known? Isn't there at least a possibility that the new crops (particularly those that have been made resistant to antibiotics) will behave in unexpected ways, producing toxic or allergic reactions? Only independent scientific research, over a long period, can provide the final answer.

  3. Why are the rules for approving genetically modified foods so much less stringent than those for new medicines produced using the same technology? Before drugs are released into the marketplace they have to undergo the most rigorous testing -- and quite right too.

    But genetically modified food is also designed in a laboratory for human consumption, albeit in different circumstances. Surely it is equally important that we are confident that they will do us no harm?

  4. How much do we really know about the environmental consequences of genetically modified crops?

    Laboratory tests showing that pollen from genetically modified maize in the United States caused damage to the caterpillars of Monarch butterflies provide the latest cause for concern. If genetically modified plants can do this to butterflies, what damage might they cause to other species?

    More alarmingly perhaps, this genetically modified maize is not under test. It is already being grown commercially throughout large areas of the U.S. Surely this effect should have been discovered by the company producing the seeds, or the regulatory authorities who approved them for sale, at a much earlier stage? Indeed, how much more are we going to learn the hard way about the impact of genetically modified crops on the environment?

  5. Is it sensible to plant test crops without strict regulations in place? Such crops are being planted in this country now, under a voluntary code of practice. But English Nature, the government's official adviser on nature conservation, has argued that we ought to put strict, enforceable regulations in place first.

    Even then, will it really be possible to prevent contamination of wildlife or crops, whether organic or not? Since bees and the wind don't obey any sort of rules -- voluntary or statutory -- we shall soon have an unprecedented and unethical situation in which one farmer's crops contaminate another's against his will.

  6. How will consumers be able to exercise genuine choice? Labelling schemes clearly have a role to play. But if conventional and organic crops can become contaminated by genetically modified crops grown nearby, those people who wish to be sure they are eating or growing natural, non- industrialized, real food, will be denied that choice. This seems to me to be wrong.

  7. If something goes wrong with a genetically modified crop, who will be held responsible?

    It is important that we know precisely who is going to be legally liable to pay for any damage, whether it be to human health, the environment or both. Will it be the company which sells the seed or the farmer who grows it? Or will it, as was the case with BSE, be all of us?

  8. Are genetically modified crops really the only way to feed the world's growing population?

    This argument sounds suspiciously like emotional blackmail. Is there any serious academic research to substantiate such a sweeping statement? The countries which might be expected to benefit certainly take a different view.

    Representatives of 20 African states, including Ethiopia, have published a help farmers to produce the think it will destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and the sustainable

    How much more could we achieve if all the research funds currently devoted to fashionable genetically modified techniques -- which run into billions of dollars a year -- were applied to improving methods of agriculture which have stood the test of time? We already know that yields from many traditional farming systems can be doubled, at least, by making better use of existing natural resources.

  9. What effect will genetically modified crops have on the poorest countries? Selling explaining why genetically modified crops are unlikely to provide solutions to the problems of famine and poverty. Where people are starving, lack of food is rarely the underlying cause. It is more likely to be lack of money to buy food, distribution problems or political difficulties.

    The need is to create sustainable livelihoods for everyone. Will genetically modified crops do anything to help? Or will they make the problems worse, leading to increasingly industrialized forms of agriculture, with larger farms, crops grown for export while indigenous populations starve and more displaced farm workers heading for a miserable existence in yet more shanty towns?

  10. What sort of world do we want to live in?

    This is the biggest question of all. I raise it because the capacity of genetically modified technology to change our world has brought us to a crossroads of fundamental importance. Are we going to allow the industrialization of Life itself, redesigning the natural world for the sake of convenience and embarking on an Orwellian future? And, if we do, will there eventually be a price to pay?

    Or should we be adopting a gentler, more considered approach, seeking always to work with the grain of Nature in making better, more sustainable use of what we have, for the long- term benefit of mankind as a whole? The answer is important. It will affect far more than the food we eat; it will determine the sort of world we, and our children, inhabit.

GRAPHIC: CP Color Photo: Stefan Rousseau, AP / Prince Charles walks through a meadow that has not been treated with modern fertilizers or herbicides at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's Clattinger Farm, west England. The visit by the Prince of Wales comes a day after he courted controversy by saying genetically modified crops are unnecessary.


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Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 12:44:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Outspoken Prince 'On Dangerous Ground'

By Tom Baldwin, deputy political editor The Times (London) June 3, 1999,

THE Prince of Wales was warned yesterday that he was treading on dangerous ground after his attack on genetically modified food. Lord Blake, the constitutional historian, said: "It has been most unusual; he certainly could not get involved in a political dispute like this when he becomes King."

The Prince's criticism came after a clash with Tony Blair at a private meeting in St James's Palace five weeks ago. The Prime Minister later infuriated the Prince by dismissing concerns about the issue as "hysteria".

Lord Blake added: "Prince Charles's views on this are well known and he does appear to have public opinion on his side, but I cannot remember a case when he has been so directly at odds with the Government.

"His position is different to the Queen, who cannot say anything that might be controversial. I would have thought that while this is unusual, it is not something palpably contrary to the rules."

The Prince is used to stirring controversy, but has not previously clashed so directly with the view of the Government of the day. Few issues, however, have affected him so deeply as his wholesale commitment to organic farming.

When he campaigned in favour of complementary medicine, he was taking on the medical establishment rather than those of Downing Street. Similarly, his views on architecture were chiefly a challenge to the profession.

His crusade to bring back the classics, particularly Shakespeare, was an implicit criticism of Tory government education policies, but it stopped short of being a direct attack on a specific policy.

Previous Princes of Wales have been tempted to take up controversial issues. Edward VIII, when Prince of Wales, was effectively taking issue with Baldwin's coalition Government when he declared "something must be done" to relieve poverty and unemployment in South Wales.

But no Prince of Wales since medieval times has gone as far as George IV, who courted active political opposition, led by Charles James Fox, to his reigning father, George III.

Kenneth Morgan, Professor of History at the University of Wales and Oxford University, said he thought the Prince had not gone too far.

"I do not feel that it's out of order for the Prince to give his views on public issues," he said. "It is not constitutionally improper for him to do this. In fact, I welcome the fact that he wants to play a part in debate. But what is much more debatable is the weight that one should attach to his views. He is not a scientist, he is not a person with great expertise or knowledge in this area."

John Barnes, a constitutional historian at the London School of Economics, said there was no constitutional problem in the Prince's speaking out: "He sees no official papers and has no official position except when he is representing the Queen abroad, so technically he has no constitutional position."

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

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