3 June 99

Table of Contents

Southern Farmers Confront Nuffield Council over GE Report
UK NFU (National Farmers Union) in GM ban row
ALERT: Germany seeks GMO approval compromise in EU
The GENE EXCHANGE May 1999 Issue
Poor performance of GM crops in Canada too
First Blood to Anti-GM-Activists
More recent Internet Links
In a First, Male Mouse is Cloned from the Tip of an Adult's Tail
Farmers' Right to Sue Grows, Raising Debate on Food Safety
Jimmy Carter Promotes New Plant Science Center
Re: Last Propoganda Article
Dr. Arpad Pusztai summary in Scientific American
"Road to Seattle" -- new electronic news bulletin
Beware of Dutch Consumer Union
The World's First Official "GE-free Zone" Declared in Brazil
L.A Times 6/1/99: Jeremy Rifkin - Genetic Engineering

Top NextFront Page

Date: 29 May 1999 03:54:36 -0500
From: (jim mcnulty)

28th May 99 at 3.30pm

Southern Farmers Confront Nuffield Council over GE Report

A delegation of 40 Indian Farmers currently Britain have reacted angrily to news of Nuffield Councilis Bioethics report that was released today. It claims that GE crops may be needed to ifeed the Third Worldi. The farmers and their supporters will be paying a visit to the Nuffield Office at 28 Bedford Square, at 4.15pm today. They want to challenge in person, the reports assertion that there is a moral imperative to take part in further research Genetic Engineering.

Speaking in London earlier today, Mr Manjit Singh, General Secretary of the Punjabi Farmers Association, said: Hunger is not a question of supply itis a question of politics. He went on to say that far from being a solution to their problems, Genetic Engineering is already bringing ruin to many Indian Farmers.

In the words of Nepalese representative, Ms Neeru Shrestha: People in the West need to know that so-called Third World people are not demanding Genetic Engineering What we want is social justice and an end to corporate control of our lives. The farmers of India can produce more than enough food for the whole countryOWe do not want the WTO, the IMF and other external agents to interfere and spoil our own production. continued Lapshanka Upadia, a Gujerat farmer another delegate.

The Farmers are currently visiting Europe to voice their concerns as part of the Inter Continental Caravan (ICC). Tomorrow many of them will be visiting a GE crop squat somewhere in the south of England.

For more information on the ICC please contact 07970 896 736.
Delegates from the ICC interviews on: 07970 896 736.
For a copy of the report call the Nuffield Council on Bioethics: 0171 631 0566.
Photographs available from: Rob Todd on: 07977 275563 or Nick Cobbing on: 0973 642 103.


The Inter-Continental Caravan has arrived into the UK. 37 Indian farmers and activists together with a further 2 activists from Nepal arrived at 11.15am at Dover. They reached Kingsley Hall, Bow in East London (E3) at 2.30pm. It is disappointing and curiously significant that all 120 did not get UK visa's. It is especially curious why not one farmer from Karnataka got a visa for the UK. The Foreign Office has denied that there was any political interference in this decision. Maybe not. But there can always be corporate influence. What influence do governments have these days anyway?

Tomorrow (Friday 28th May), the farmers take part in a procession into the City of London, starting at Spitalfields Market at 8.30am, going on through Brick Lane, on past the Tower of London, and finally across to Threadneedle Street, where some form of communicative action will take place outside the Royal Exchange.

Then, there's the Public Hearing "People vs. Corporations" - Friday 28th May , at Friends House, Euston Road, London NW1 (opposite Euston St.) 12.00pm to 4.30pm, for the Inter-Continental Caravan (500 farmers and activists from across the globe on historic tour of Europe - May-June 1999). At this Hearing, Indian farmers and other activists from the South will be addressing issues such as the increasing control of multinationals and the patenting of traditional seed varieties used by farmers for centuries.

also Public Seminar on the WTO, IMF and the World Bank Friday 28th May 7.30pm at Oxford House Community Centre, Derbyshire Street, London E2 (Bethnal Green tube)

Guest panel includes:

To be chaired by John Vidal of The Guardian
Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 29 May 1999 09:33:55 -0500

UK NFU (National Farmers Union) in GM ban row

from NLPWessex

According to a report in the UK's Farmers Weekly (28 May 1999) the president of the National Farmer's Union for England and Wales, Ben Gill, has rejected a call for a vote to be taken at the NFU annual meeting on whether GMs should be supported or banned.

Mr Gill is quoted as saying: "If EU consumers and customers want only GM-free crop products our members will be well pleased to supply them whether or not there is a ban. If they do not, we will have caused substantial damage to our own members who will see their markets undermined by imports."

Whilst the logic of Mr Gill's reported statement is not entirely clear, it is nonetheless interpreted by Farmers Weekly reporter Robert Davies as an apparent acknowledgement that were the NFU to have a vote members might vote for a ban.

Under the title: "Union officials let Monsanto pay for trip to US seminar" the same report in Farmers Weekly confirms that two members of the NFU's cereals committee accepted free trips to the USA last December, courtesy of biotechnology giant Monsanto . They were attending a Monsanto wheat seminar after which they held discussions with the company about genetically modified crops.

Farmers Weekly also reports that the chairman of the NFU's biotechnology group had also visited Monsanto as a guest of the US government.

It is well known that NFU headquarters are keen to promote the use of GMOs in British agriculture, even though many NFU members at branch level are worried about the consequences. An earlier article in Farmer's Weekly reported that the British satirical magazine, Private Eye, has taken to refering to Mr Gill as "Biotechnology Ben".

By contrast the Farmers Union of Wales, a rival Union in Wales, wants a ban on the planting of trial GM crops until there is irrefutable scientific evidence that they are completely safe, according to Farmers Weekly.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 29 May 1999 15:55:16 -0500
From: wytze

ALERT: Germany seeks GMO approval compromise in EU

Dear everybody,

I am getting increasingly worried about the development concerning the revision of Dir. 90/220: deliberate release of GMO's. Does anybody have a good overview of what the consequences are if it would be adopted and the rejected amendments would not be in???? What does the text look like now, after the Commissions answer to the Parliament's amending it??

How about the simplified procedure??? I am afraid that we are moving to a situation which would become a little similar as in the US. Am I wrong??

Wytze de Lange

GENET wrote:

-------------------------- GENET-news ---------------------------

TITLE: Germany seeks GMO approval compromise
SOURCE: Reuters, by Michael Mann, sent by AGNET, Canada
DATE: May 26, 1999

----------------- archive: ------------------

Germany Seeks GMO Approvals Compromise

BRUSSELS – The European Union's German presidency was cited as calling on Wednesday for the approval procedure for new genetically modified organisms to be streamlined in an effort to broker a compromise next month on plans to revise the way new crops are released onto the market. The story says that in a paper discussed by EU diplomats, the German government backed the European Parliament's call for new products to be licensed for an initial 12-year period rather than the seven years originally proposed by acting EU Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard. German Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin wants the paper to form the basis of an agreement at a meeting of the 15 EU environment ministers in Luxembourg on June 24 and 25.

The story says that the German paper, drawn up on the basis of consultations with other EU governments and the parliament's first reading last year, streamlines the complex authorisations procedures for new GMOs. It says new crops should initially be approved for 12 years, after which licences should be renewed for an unspecified length of time "as appropriate." It also proposes "appropriate emergency measures" for when a product is found to be dangerous in some way. It suggests increased public consultation for experimental GMO releases and gives the EU Commission scope to consult any of its scientific committees if it is concerned about any aspect of a new crop.

-| Hartmut Meyer, Co-ordinator
-| GENET: The European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
-| Reinhäuser Landstr. 51, D - 37083 Göttingen, Germany
-| phone: #49-551-7700027    fax : #49-551-7701672    email:

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 31 May 1999 02:52:32 -0500

The GENE EXCHANGE May 1999 Issue

A Public Voice on Biotechnology and Agriculture
May 1999

Read the full version at


Full version at

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 31 May 1999 16:12:30 -0500
From: "Paul & Katrin"

Poor performance of GM crops in Canada too

From: NLP Wessex
Date: 31 May 1999 17:26

There have been some interesting reactions to a controversial article ("The Emperor's transgenic clothes" by Mark Griffiths, available at ) which we issued earlier in May on the poor performance of GM crops in the US.

The response below from Canadian soya merchant Gerald Fowler confirms other indications we have come across that a similar situation is taking place with GM crops in Canada. This report indicates up to 25% income losses for farmers who grow GM soya in Canada. It would also appear that farmers in Canada are not happy with the financial performance of GM corn either.

This information is completely contradictory to that put out by many seed merchants, and is not consistent with arguments that EU agriculture must have GM crops to remain internationally competitive.

More technical information on the poor performance of GM crops is available at

This site also includes information on how Canadian seed authorities have in the past manipulated oilseed rape trials criteria to secure approval for inferior GM varieties.


Good afternoon Mark;

I just finished reading your excellent article "The Emperor's Transgenic Clothes", you have certainly captured the realities of the situation well.

I was born and raised in Kent but have been living in Canada for a number of years. For the past 4 years we have been involved in designing and implementing fully traceable segregation systems for non GMO soybeans. We have been exporting non GMO beans for 3 years and this year will export 50,000 + tonnes over the next 12 months.

During my last meeting with one of my farmer groups we discussed in detail this GMO benefit fallacy. Seed costs are higher, technology fees cost more and yields are down (about 10% quoted by most in this area). Our calculations suggest a 25% reduction in revenue potential for the privilege of growing Roundup Ready soybeans.

We recently heard about 6 truck loads of RR corn seed that was being shipped to the US as it was not selling here. Interesting, given that the seed merchant stated they had sold out around Christmas time last year! If that was the case there were a large group of farmers that did not pick up their seed this year. Reasons being stated was that it didn't make financial sense to grow RR corn without even considering the overall GMO issue.

The current decreased commodity prices are a major factor when you have fixed costs for seed and technology fees.

If we may be of any assistance in your efforts please do not hesitate to contact us at your convenience.

Telephone Number (Canada) 705 946 2662    Fax Number 705 256-6540

Best regards

Gerry Fowler
Manna International

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 1 Jun 1999 04:06:20 -0500
From: (jim mcnulty)

As seed company quits after trial crops sabotaged, protesters say they are winning hearts and minds Links, reports and background: everything you need to know about GM food

First Blood to Anti-GM-Activists

By Stuart Millar, The Guardian, Tuesday June 1, 1999

Britain's rapidly expanding army of direct action campaigners against genetically modified crops have claimed their first major victory with tannouncement by a leading seed company that it has been forced out of the field by sabotage of its trial crops.

Accusing protesters of destroying both GM an non-GM crops, CPB Twyford, based at Thriplow, Cambridgeshire, said that attacks on a number of its sites across the country in recent months had cost thousands of pounds.

Jack Blackman, the firm's technical director said: "The risks involved in continuing were not worth taking while the threat of indiscriminate vandalism still exists."

But, with the famously non-radical Women's Institute expected to vote this week to join the growing list of organisations opposed to GM foods, activists leading the direct action last night dismissed the extremist image as misleading. CPB's withdrawal, they claimed, the first by a major seed company, was proof of the breadth of opinion against the crops.

A spokeswoman for the Genetic Engineering Network, an information clearing house for anti-GM campaigners, said: "This is very good news. Hope fully some of the bigger companies will now make the same decision and stop their trials."

Since the controversy over the crops erupted last year, the scale of public concern has seen groups as established as the National Trust, the Council for the Protection of Rural England and the British Medical Association forming an alliance with environmental campaigners, such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.

At the same time, there has been a surge of support for single-issue groups with the direc action ethos of previous protest movements, such as the campaign to halt new road building. The difference the small groups say, is that the diversity of those willing to uproot crops, and even to go to jail for it, surpasses anything seen in Britain before.

One of the main direct action groups is the Manchester-based Genetix Snowball, whose supporters include the television chef Anthony Worrall-Thompson. In carefully organised protests every second weekend, activists ranging in age from 18 to 85 have attacked a sizeable number of the 300-plus sites around the country where genetically modified crops are being grown.

In one protest last August at Boothby Graffo, Lincolnshire, 11 members were arrested during a raid on a trial plot of genetically modified sugarbeet owned by Sharpe's Seeds, a subsidiary of the biotechnology company, Zeneca.

But while arrests are common, the groups careful to be civilised in the way they carry out their raids. Genetix Snowball writes to the farmers and police in advance, explaining their position, and activists have to promise not to carry weapons.

They are also forbidden from pulling up more than 100 plants each, and have to bag them in biohazard sacks which are left in the field.

"It is a symbolic gesture," said the group's spokesman, Andrew Wood. "The point is that direct action is a legitimate part of the political process, because the democratic process has broken down on this issue. And the government simply is not respecting the view of the public This is a Labour government that prides itself on listening to people when it is clearly not doing that."

Michael Meacher, the environment minister, dismissed these claims yesterday. "I understand people's anxiety and in some cases anger about GM crops.

"We have to show that we are proceding extremely cautiously, and tests have to be carried out inaccordance with strictly enforced guidelines. But I do not condone action which is illegal. If crops are destroyed, and if companies withdraw from the tests, that will set back the whole testing programme."

But other direct action groups claim that it is the perception of a vast gap between public opinion and the government's position that has given birth to the new breed of activist.

A Mori poll last year showed 77% wanted GM crops banned and more than 60 per cent said they would not eat products with GM ingredients.

Luke Anderson, of Totnes Genetic Engineering Group, which has led protests in Devon, said: "We have seen people on protests here who have never been on a protest before in their lives. People can see that the companies and the government are in each other's pockets."

Another member of the group, Seb Kelly, agreed: "It is completely non-violent and non- confrontational, and I think that is a major relief to the people who would never have gone on a protest before. It's all very British in fact."

The alliance of groups calling for a moratorium on GM crops includes:

  1. Action Aid,
  2. British Society of Nature Conservation,
  3. Catholic Institute for International Relations,
  4. Christian Aid,
  5. Council for the Protection of Rural England,
  6. Earth First!,
  7. Food Commission,
  8. Friends of the Earth,
  9. Genetic Engineering Network
  10. Genetix Snowball,
  11. Genewatch,
  12. Greenpeace,
  13. Guild of Food Writers,
  14. Iceland Foods,
  15. Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environment,
  16. National Trust,
  17. Natural Law party,
  18. Soil Association,
  19. Super Heroes Against Genetix (Shag),
  20. The Wildlife Trust.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 1 Jun 1999 04:24:30 -0500
From: Vegetarian Resource Center
From: Pierre Renaud & Leah Shaw

Tuesday, June 01, 1999

More recent Internet Links

The Great GM Illusion Thousands of Frankenstein Foods Still in Supermarkets

THOUSANDS of foods containing genetically modified ingredients are still on supermarket shelves despite promises they would be removed.

Decades-old Pesticides Come Under Fire

Inquiry assesses record of Pest Management Regulatory Agency To understand what's wrong with the country's pesticide management system, environmentalists say, Canadians need only examine the nearest telephone pole.

Euro-law to Put GM Food Into Britain

BRUSSELS is poised to allow unprocessed mutant food into British shops and the Government cannot stop it. Nor will there be any way shoppers will know what they are buying. The European Commission's scientific experts have given the all-clear to genetically altered chicory which produces red-leafed radicchio.

Alarm in South over Expired Pesticides

ROME, May 24 (IPS) - A time bomb in the form of thousands of tonnes of expired pesticides is waiting to go off in the world's developing nations, warns the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Alert over GM Spuds

MINISTERS have warned chip shops not to use genetically modified potatoes amid fears they will be illegally imported. The move follows plans by wholesalers to bring in unlicensed stocks from North America after the British crop failed last year and prices soared.

Austria Bans Transgenic Maize – Greenpeace Asks Europe to do Same

Austrian Consumer Affairs Minister Barbara Prammer today banned Monsanto's Bt maize in Austria following recent scientific studies indicated that this maize may harm useful insects such as butterflies, according to a ministerial statement. Prammer also asked the EU Commission to conduct further scientific studies on this issue immediately.

UK govt to Change Law to speed up GM Crop Development

The Government is to change the law to speed up the commercial development of genetically modified (GM) crops. The news comes in a consultation paper from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) dated 21st May 1999 (copies available from FOE). Friends of the Earth attacked last Friday's Government statement on GM policy as paving the way for "creeping commercialization".

AMA Lends Support to Food Labelling

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has come out in support of across-the-board labelling for genetically modified foods. The move backs up last year's majority decision by federal, state and territory health ministers.

BBC News: Prince Charles leads fight against GM food
Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 1 Jun 1999 05:40:37 -0500
From: Colleen Robison-Spencer

In a First, Male Mouse is Cloned from the Tip of an Adult's Tail

By Rick Weiss, Washington Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, June 1, 1999; Page A04

Two years ago there was Dolly, the first mammal cloned from a single adult cell.

Last summer there was Cumulina, the first cloned mouse.

And then, in December, OVI-1 arrived – the world's first calf to be cloned from an adult cow.

At that point, clone watchers couldn't help but notice: The only animals being cloned were females.

Some people began to wonder. Is there something about males that makes them hard to copy? And if human cloning ever catches on, will men get left behind in the duplicative rush?

Now those concerns can be put to rest. Researchers in Hawaii are reporting today the first documented cloning of an adult male – a mouse named Fibro, cloned from the tip of a male mouse's tail.

Having proven that it is possible to clone males from tails, the researchers suggest that scientists may want to cut off and freeze the tail tips of various endangered and other precious species, so the animals can be propagated in the future.

University of Hawaii biologists Teruhiko Wakayama and Ryuzo Yanagimachi led the work – the same scientists who reported last July that they had cloned Cumulina and about 50 other mice. When the scientists made that announcement, they also conceded that their efforts to clone male mice from testicular cells had failed. They promised to keep trying.

In the new experiments, described in today's issue of the journal Nature Genetics, the team started with skin cells, called fibroblasts, taken from the tail tips of male mice. After growing those cells in a dish for awhile, they performed the key step that is the essence of all cloning: In a painstaking procedure repeated 717 times, they isolated the core, or nucleus, of each tail cell – containing the cell's genes – and inserted each of those cores into a mouse egg that had its own DNA removed.

As the scientists had hoped, unidentified natural substances inside the eggs "reprogrammed" the tail cell genes so that the eggs behaved as though they were freshly fertilized. After a few initial divisions in a laboratory dish, 274 of the embryos were transferred to the wombs of surrogate mother mice, to grow into clones whose genetic makeup would be identical to the mice whose tails had been snipped.

The method is inefficient. Only three live offspring were born, and two of them died within an hour after birth from breathing problems. The third, Fibro, appears healthy, however, and has sired several litters since arriving by Caesarean section in October.

"He's happy and a good father and has many babies," Yanagimachi said.

All three clones were about normal birth weight. But they also had deformed placentas twice the average size – a problem that has proven common in many cloned species. Some experts suspect that the abnormal placentas are the result of a molecular glitch caused by the lack of any genetic contribution from a second parent. In some cases, the placental problems seem to be causing other developmental problems, including underdeveloped lungs, which Yanagimachi said may have contributed to the deaths of the two clones.

The lack of cloned males until now was largely a matter of convenience, researchers said. Dolly was cloned from a cow's udder cell, for example, because udder cells were available from other experiments.

Similarly, scientists striving to create bovine clones have focused their efforts more on cows than on bulls because the goal has been to make herds of gene-altered cows that make human medicines in their milk. (Japanese scientists said last year they had cloned a bull, but they have not published their research yet.)

Cumulina and her sisters were cloned from the "cumulus cells" that surround mouse ovaries, which are the mother lode of mouse eggs needed for cloning experiments.

"Basically, they were handy," said George Seidel, a reproductive physiologist at Colorado State University. "They're right where the eggs are, so in the same operation you can get them."

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 1 Jun 1999 08:47:36 -0500

Farmers' Right to Sue Grows, Raising Debate on Food Safety

by Melody Petersen - Business section June 1, New York Times (online)


. . . a year ago, Vital Health Publishing of Bloomingdale, Ill., canceled a book,

"Against the Grain: Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of Your Food," after the manuscript had been sent to the printers. The publisher had received a letter from a lawyer at Monsanto Co. who said he believed the manuscript, which he had not seen, included false statements that would disparage a herbicide called Roundup, made by Monsanto.

Marc Lappe, a toxicologist and co-author of the book, said the manuscript had already been approved by the publisher's lawyer. But Monsanto's letter changed the lawyer's mind, Lappe said, because of concerns that the publisher could be sued under the food libel laws in other states. Lawmakers in Illinois have defeated efforts to enact a similar law.

David Richard, the owner of Vital Health, said he had been trying to get insurance to protect against libel actions when he received Monsanto's letter.

"I was scared," Richard said. "As soon as I told my insurance agent about the letter, he would not return any of my calls. I had no choice. I had to let go of the book."

Lisa Drake, a spokeswoman for Monsanto, said the company did not intend to suppress publication. She said Monsanto lawyers had worried that the book would contain errors after they read a magazine article written by its two authors that, she said, included inaccuracies. The company was asking only that those errors be corrected, she said.

"We're respectful of differing points of view," Ms. Drake said.

Lappe and his co-author, Britt Bailey, later took their manuscript to another publisher, Common Courage Press, which published the book in November and has not heard from Monsanto.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 1 Jun 1999 09:26:38 -0500
Subject: Jimmy Carter

Hmm, from June 1st's post, I looked up and stumbled upon the following article:

Jimmy Carter Promotes New Plant Science Center

.. to Bring US Bio-Technology Advances to the Developing World

InterAction's Jim Moody and former President Jimmy Carter confer at the newly inaugurated Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, where Carter spoke about the implications of the conflict over plant genetics for sustainable development


The head of the Merk Company came to the Carter Center a few year ago and said we have a medicine to prevent heartworm in dogs, but we learned in our laboratories that this same medicine called Mectazan will prevent river blindness in human beings. If you can develop a protocol for distribution of this medicine, we will give you enough Mectazan for all the human beings in the earth who suffer from river blindness. River blindness is caused by the sting of a small fly. Twelve years later, you are blind. And in the meantime, horrendous itching and skin discoloration occur. Last year, 22 million people were treated with this medical discovery, and they will never go blind. A Mectazan tablet that prevents river blindness for a person with river blindness is more valuable than a diamond of the same size.

The Carter Center has a campaign to eradicate from the face of the earth a terrible disease called Guinea Worm. American Cyanimid approached us and said we understand you are trying to control this terrible worm that grows in water that Africans and Asians drink from small ponds. They provided us with a chemical called Abate, enough for every village on earth that has the Guinea worm.

Tremendous advantages for poor and sometimes hopeless people who have suffered for tens of thousands of years from river blindness and from the Guinea worm are being helped by American corporations. This wonderful, but largely unknown achievement, derived from the incisive scientific discoveries in great universities and corporations, helps the quality of life for people that we will never know. As a farmer who grew up in a rural area during the Depression years and now has projects in 35 different nations in Africa, Iim overwhelmed with the advantages of genetic improvement of plants and other organisms.

But a serious problem has arisen. There are misguided and ill-advised and sincere people who believe that all crops on Earth should be grown without any soil or chemicals or genetically improved plants being used. They even protest the simple use of fertilizers to maintain the productivity of a field. They donit realize that a field in the developing world, if not fertilized, will have to be abandoned and another similar area will have to be slashed and burned.

There is a momentous decision to be made within the next six months, derived from the 1992 global environmental conference in Rio de Janeiro. Thereis a powerful lobby that has evolved to prevent the importation of any genetically modified organisms. This would almost totally prohibit, in those countries, any of the advantages I have described to you.

The advances that come to my farm, to those in North Dakota and here in Missouri from the Danforth Plant Science Center will be tested by hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of American farmers before they are used overseas. That's a very good test site for a new discovery.

An extraordinary partnership has been formed here at the Danforth Plant Science Center. The potential benefits are indescribable. But this center cannot just be devoted to scientific research. Additional responsibilities that must be seriously considered are:

etc etc

And, of course, the most important responsibility, perhaps, is to evolve ways to make plants impervious to insect attack, to control weeds, and to increase yields. But that also helps to protect wetlands and rain forests, to reduc erosion, to feed hungry people and to preserve the health of little children whom we will never know, but whose lives and well-being will depend on the people here.

Jimmy needs to learn more.

On July 31, 1998, InterAction President Jim Moody joined representatives of the

at a ceremony inaugurating the Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The Center will work with universities, corporations and research foundations to find and apply bio-technological and other scientific solutions to fight hunger and disease in the developing world, and to conserve the earth's natural resources. Here are excerpts of Jimmy Carter's speech at the event.

Speech by Jimmy Carter: Corporations and NGOs – Forging Strategic Alliances

Kate Fish, Director, Sustainable Development, Monsanto Company
Given to InterAction Forum 98, April 29, 1998, Washington, DC

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 1 Jun 1999 10:01:35 -0500
From: "Campbell, Jon" Campbell@Rational.Com

Re: Last Propoganda Article

CEI (Competitive Enterprise Institute) is basically an industry spin group. Hoover is a right-wing think tank that analyses social movements from a right-wing perspective (that is, provides enough information to planners to figure out how to stop them).

I am not surprised. The spin doctors are hard at work trying to prevent the anti-GMO revolt that has overtaken the UK, EU, and India.

---------------- Original Message -----------------
From: John/Laurel Hopwood
Sent: Sunday, May 30, 1999 7:53 PM Subject: B-GE: propoganda article

Henry Miller, the author of a propoganda article in Science, is an adjunct scholar with a group that has an obvious anti-environmental bias (Competitive Enterprise Institute) and then gets a propoganda article published in Science. Anyone want to write to Science and expose their bias?

I'm sending the following letter to Henry:

Dear Dr. Henry Miller,

I was fascinated by your article in the recent Science about genetic engineering. I would appreciate if you could supply me with more information about the Hoover Institute.

Many thanks,
Laurel Hopwood

Considering that email is free, I figure I haven't wasted a stamp. laurel

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 1 Jun 1999 11:02:03 -0500
From: Matthew Hodges

Interesting summary of the Arpad Pusztai case:

PETA FIRTH, based in London, described food scares in Britain in the January issue.

Dr. Arpad Pusztai summary in Scientific American

"Leaving a Bad Taste"

Firth, Peta. Scientific American, May, 1999, p. 34.

The furor in Britain raises health safety concerns about genetically modified foods

British scientist Arpad Pusztai, who was fired last year from the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, and banned from speaking to the press for a while, told a parliamentary select committee on March 8 in London he had no regrets about his comments that led to his dismissal. Humans, he had said, were being used as guinea pigs in a vast experiment with genetically modified (GM) foods.

Pusztai's testimony to the committee followed headlines in British newspapers screaming that a scientist had been gagged and his findings suppressed to keep secret that genetically modified foods threaten health. Conspiracy theories abounded – namely, that President Bill Clinton had personally pressured Prime Minister Tony Blair to give biotechnology companies, including Monsanto, a freer rein in planting GM crops. An admission on March 1 from John Prescott, secretary of state for Environment, Transport and the Regions – that the British government has indeed received representations from its U.S. counterpart about GM crops – did not help.

The furor started last August, when Pusztai released to the media results that he said indicated that rats fed potatoes genetically engineered to contain a lectin from the snowdrop plant – a naturally occurring insecticide – had suffered damaged immune systems and stunted growth of vital organs. The results stood in stark contrast to safety claims made by biotech companies and to the received wisdom of the harmlessness of transgenic crops.

Four days after his announcement Pusztai, a renowned scientist who pioneered studies on the effects of lectin, was suspended. The Rowett institute stated he had muddled his findings. Quietly, over the ensuing months, Rowett invited a group of independent scientists to audit Pusztai's work – and the audit found that his conclusions were indeed erroneous, although it absolved him of the more serious charge of scientific fraud.

Other scientists, though, came to Pusztai's defense. Two researchers forwarded his data to 21 scientists, who later issued a memorandum in February that said, "We are of the opinion ... that the consumption of the GM potatoes by rats led to significant differences in organ weights and depression of lymphocyte responsiveness compared to controls."

A study that criticized the Rowett audit and confirmed Pusztai's results also got some backing. Done by pathologist Stanley Ewen of Aberdeen University, a friend of Pusztai's, the work was examined by Thorkild Bog-Hansen, a lectin expert from the University of Copenhagen (and one of the researchers who forwarded Pusztai's results to others). He concluded that "Dr. Ewen's results clearly showed the errors in the audit report that followed Dr. Pusztai's suspension from the Rowett Research Institute. The experiments clearly showed that ... the GM potatoes caused a major intraepithelial lymphocyte infiltration similar to inflammatory responses."

Vyvyan Howard, a toxicopathologist at the University of Liverpool and Pusztai supporter, says that the results showed the main risk of GM food to be "long-term, low-dose toxicity from subtle changes to the nature of the food chain." He describes Pusztai's findings as unexpected and not totally attributable to the lectin. In other words, the genetic modification process itself was causing unpredictable outcomes. Speculations include virus promoters (mechanisms used to switch on the inserted genes) and possible unintended switching off of beneficial genes. "It is precisely this type of finding which means that animal testing for developmental toxicological effects is essential," says Howard, who also argues that the "mixture problem" must be addressed as well. "None of us eat only a single food. The effects of mixtures to my knowledge have not been addressed," he notes, concluding that "human volunteer testing would probably be advisable."

Tom Sanders of King's College London, a nutrition expert and a member of the government's Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, is not convinced by Pusztai or his supporters. After reviewing Pusztai's experiments, he maintains that all they definitively proved was that eating raw potatoes, which are indigestible, is harmful to mammals – "something that has been known for many years," he asserts.

Sanders also says that carrying out full pharmaceutical-style testing on GM foods would be impossible, because low-level poisons ostensibly from GM products would not appear in ordinary toxicological testing. He also points out that testing for human allergenicity with animals is not possible. He suggests instead that known allergens be banned for use in GM food, along with markers used to tell which foods have been modified.

Jim Dunwell of the plant sciences department at the University of Reading has another point against Pusztai: all potatoes are not alike, and toxin levels can vary widely between different tubers before any modification is carried out. "Many assertions that are made against GM crops are not backed up by sound science," he contends.

Both Sanders and Dunwell note the potential benefits from genetic modification – food engineered to prevent tooth decay or to deliver vaccines. Genetic engineering could cut the need for pesticides. But both also admit its risks. Sanders says that "each crop needs examination on a case-by-case basis. It is dangerous to extrapolate from one to another." They also admit that genetic engineering could be a threat to the environment, especially if tests are not conducted locally. "The English countryside is not the American prairie," Sanders comments.

In the next few months, the Royal Society – an independent science academy established in 1660 – will complete its own review of Pusztai's findings and of its own stance on the toxicity and allergenicity of GM foods. Only then might residents of Britain – and the rest of the world – move a step closer toward understanding the health threats, if any. But anyone after a definitive answer will be disappointed – science doesn't deal in absolutes, and the debate will surely rage on.

Peta Firth

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 1 Jun 1999 12:56:09 -0500
From: MichaelP

"Road to Seattle" – new electronic news bulletin

Thanks JanetE

From: "Renske van Staveren"
Coordinator, International Forum on Food & Agriculture (IFA)
c/o Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)

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

The Road to Seattle: Citizens Shaping the Global Trade Agenda

Announcing the publication of a free electronic news bulletin that will highlight events, meetings, forums, and other planning activities during the buildup to the World Trade Organization's Third Ministerial meeting, to be held November 29 - December 4, 1999, in Seattle, USA.

"The Road" will inform you about the meetings and activities of government ministers and their negotiators throughout the course of this year. It will also closely track the plans of citizens groups, labor unions, church organizations, environmentalists, farmers, small businesses and others as they come together to strategize and plan for their role in the trade talks.

To subscribe to The Road to Seattle, send an email to In the body of the message write: subscribe road_to_seattle. The full text searchable archives to this and other news bulletins produced by IATP can be viewed on the World Wide Web at:

Submissions to the Road to Seattle should be sent to Renske van Staveren at:, or faxed to Renske at: (1) 612-870-4846.

Ms. Renske van Staveren, Coordinator
International Forum on Food & Agriculture (IFA)
c/o Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)
2105 First Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN, USA 55404-2505
ph: 612-870-3423    fax: 612-870-4846

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."

– George Orwell

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 1 Jun 1999 15:30:52 -0500
From: wytze

Beware of Dutch Consumer Union

Today there was an article on the Dutch consumerunion new campaign on food in the agrarian journal here. The union wants to make an inventarisation of foodissues that are important to the consumer; biotechnology, allergies, healthfood, use of pesticides, infections, added vitamins, hormones are among the issues mentioned by the Consumerunion The three issues that are mentioned most by the replies from consumers will become the main issues for the Cons. Union.

On GE a spokesperson from the consunion says: "agriculture is very busy with genetically engineered crops. There is still a lot of uncertainty about the safety, but it does often reduce the use of herbicides" (another spokesperson of the same union recently said: "consumers do not really care about the safety of their food. Could all these kind of statements possibly have to do with the fact that some of the unionsdirectors are former CEO's from Unilever????)


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 1 Jun 1999 15:44:38 -0500
From: wytze

From: Stephanie Howard steph@ASEED.ANTENNA.NL
From Tanya Green of the GAIA Foundation


Dear Friends

Please find below a short report of about the visit of a delegation from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, to the UK last week.

The delegation urgently need international support for their GE - FREE ZONE initiative. So we have also included information below about what you can do to help.

The courage, determination and commitment of the delegation was inspiring. They are feeling quite isolated in their fight in Brazil and any moral support will also be welcome.

Warmest wishes

Tanya Green

The World's First Official "GE-free Zone" Declared in Brazil

The State Of Rio Grande Do Sul In Brazil Has Announced That It Will Become A Genetically Engineered-free Zone !

. A brief report of the visit of a delegation led by the Secretary of Agriculture of Rio Grande do Sul, one of Brazil's 27 States, to France and the UK, 8-12 May 1999 . How you can support this initiative

The Delegation Included:

Background to the Visit On 1 January 1999, a new Government came to power in Rio Grande do Sul State (RS). It immediately announced that the State would be a GE-Free Zone as part of its policy of sustainable agriculture. The Government believes that apart from the environmental and health risks, GE crops will be a threat to small farmers as they increase dependency on external inputs. The Government is also very concerned, that if GE crops are permitted, seed production will be transferred out of the country which will severely compromise the sovereignty of the State and its food security.

Since January, the RS Government has, effectively stopped all GE trials by enforcing a State law from 1991 (which is more restrictive than the Federal law). It requires that environmental impact assessments be carried out before field trials can take place. As no such studies were done, all 79 GE field trials in the State were declared illegal. Harvesting was permitted, but all the crops have been confiscated by the Government and stored in sealed containers and the remains burned. As there are no standards or guidelines for environmental impact assessments, it is impossible for any GE field trials to be carried out, while the legislation is being finalised.

Draft legislation is currently under consideration by the State Assembly to enact the RS policy and to make all commercialisation and importation of GE products illegal.

A programme is being set up to ensure that controls and enforcement of the GE - Free Zone will be in place before the next planting season.

The aim of the visit was to see firsthand the debates taking place in Europe; to speak to importers, retailers and food manufacturers directly to

find out if there was a demand for GE-free produce and to encourage trade agreements; to gather information; to inform Europeans about RS's policy; and to get support - financial, technical and political.


Before the delegation left Brazil a dramatic political development took place. At the monthly meeting of the National Forum of Secretaries of Agriculture in Recife, Brazil on 5th May the issue of GE was debated. After a long and intense discussion, a motion was unanimously passed by the 18 States represented at the meeting, (Brazil has 27 States), calling upon the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to forbid commercial releases of GE crops until certain issues had been considered. Apart from environmental and health concerns, one of the most persuasive arguments was that genetically engineered crops would have a negative impact on the national seed market and compromise national sovereignty. Of the 18 representatives, 15 support the more conservative Federal Government which means it will have greater political impact.

The UK Visit. The delegation was warmly welcomed in London. Meetings were held with the Minister of the Environment Mr. Meacher; the Minister for Food Safety Mr. Rooker; the Ministry of Agriculture's Minister of State responsible for Biodiversity Mr. Morley; representatives of the UK Agricultural Supplies Trade Association (UKASTA); the Director General of the Grain and Animal Feed Trade Association (GAFTA); supermarket representatives, wholesalers, and commodity brokers. A meeting was also held in the House of Commons, hosted by Joan Ruddock, MP who tabled an Early Day Motion supporting the State's decision to go GE -Free. MPs from all UK political parties have signed this motion. Meetings were also held with development agencies, environmental NGOs and representatives of the UK Freeze Campaign (61 UK NGOs and organisations calling for a moratorium on commercial growing and importing of GE produce).

Some Results

For further information- please contact Tanya Green at The Gaia Foundation. Tel: 00 44 435 5000 . Fax: 00 44 431 0551 Email:

Top PreviousFront Page

Date: 2 Jun 1999 00:54:44 -0500
From: Vegetarian Resource Center
From: Laurelee Blanchard

Jeremy Rifkin Is the Author of "The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World," (Tarcher/putnam, 1998)

L.A Times 6/1/99: Jeremy Rifkin - Genetic Engineering

Think Twice Before Trying to Outwit Nature

by Jeremy Rifkin, L.A Times 6/1/99, Perspective On Science

A worldwide moratorium should be declared on genetically engineered food crops.

On May 20, the term "genetic pollution" officially entered the public lexicon. Scientists at Cornell University reported in the journal Nature that the pollen from genetically engineered corn containing a toxin gene called Bt killed 44% of the monarch butterfly caterpillars who fed on milkweed leaves dusted with it. By contrast, caterpillars fed with conventional pollen all survived. The results are all the more shocking given the fact that nearly 25% of the U.S. corn crop now contains the Bt transgene and the Corn Belt states of the Midwest are where half of the monarch butterflies are produced each year.

In the wake of the monarch butterfly study, a growing number of scientists now say they wonder about the potential environmental effects of scores of other genetically engineered crops being introduced into the agricultural fields. Indeed, some critics are asking, why weren't these and other studies done before introducing genetically engineered corn, soy, cotton and other crops over millions of acres of farm land?

The fact is, genetically engineered crops are radically different from conventional crops because they contain genes in their biological makeup from completely unrelated species. For example, scientists have introduced an anti-freeze gene from flounder fish into the genetic code of a tomato plant to protect the plant from cold spells. While scientists have long been able to cross close relatives in the plant kingdom, the new genetic tools allow them to cross all of the biological boundaries, adding genes from viruses, bacteria, other animals and plants into the genetic code of traditional food crops.

Ecologists are unsure of the impacts of bypassing natural species boundaries. Consider, for example, the ambitious plans to engineer transgenic plants to serve as pharmaceutical factories for the production of chemicals and drugs. Foraging animals, seed-eating birds and soil insects, will be exposed to a range of genetically engineered drugs, vaccines, industrial enzymes, plastics and hundreds of other foreign substances, for the first time, with untold consequences.

Over the next 10 years, life science companies plan on introducing thousands of laboratory-conceived transgenic plants over millions of acres of farmland around the world. Ecologists tell us that the risks in releasing these novel crops into the biosphere are similar to those we've encountered in introducing exotic organisms into North America. While many of these nonnative creatures have adapted to the North American ecosystems without severe dislocations, a small percentage of them have wreaked havoc on the flora and fauna of the continent.

Whenever a genetically engineered organism is released, there is always a small chance that it too will run amok because, like non-indigenous species, it has been artificially introduced into a complex environment that has developed a web of highly integrated relationships over long periods of evolutionary history.

Much of the current effort in agricultural biotechnology is centered on the creation of herbicide-tolerant plants. To increase their share of the growing global market for herbicides, life-science companies like Monsanto and Novartis have created transgenic crops that tolerate their own herbicides. Monsanto's new herbicide-resistant patented seeds, for example, are resistant to its best-selling chemical herbicide, Roundup. The companies hope to convince farmers that the new herbicide-tolerant crops will allow for a more efficient eradication of weeds.

Farmers will be able to spray at any time during the growing season, killing weeds without killing their crops. Critics warn that with new herbicide-tolerant crops planted in the fields, farmers are likely to use even greater quantities of herbicides to control weeds, as there will be less fear of damaging their crops in the process of spraying. The increased use of herbicides, in turn, raises the possibility of weeds developing resistance, forcing an even greater use of herbicides to control the more resistant strains. New pest-resistant transgenic crops, like Bt corn, are also being introduced for the first time. Monsanto and Novartis are marketing transgenic crops that produce insecticide in every cell of each plant.

A growing body of scientific evidence points to the likelihood of creating "super bugs" resistant to the effects of the new pesticide-producing genetic crops. Some ecologists warn of the danger of what they call "gene flow"-the transfer of transgenic genes from crops to weedy relatives by way of cross-pollination. New studies have shown that transgenic genes for herbicide tolerance and pest and viral resistance can spread by way of pollen and insert themselves into the genomes of relatives, creating weeds that are resistant to herbicides, pests and viruses. The insurance industry has quietly let it be known that while it will provide coverage for negligence and short-term damage resulting from the introduction of genetically engineered crops into the environment, it will not offer liability coverage for long-term catastrophic environmental damage because the industry lacks a risk assessment science-a predictive ecology-with which to judge the risks.

The industry understands the Kafkaesque implications of a government regime claiming to regulate the new field of biotechnology in the absence of clear scientific knowledge of how genetically modified organisms interact once introduced into the environment. Who, then, will be held liable for losses if a transgenic plant introduction were to trigger genetic pollution over an extended terrain for an indefinite period of time? The life science companies? The government?

The introduction of novel genetically engineered organisms also raises a number of serious human health issues that have yet to be resolved. Most of these new crops contain genes from nonfood-source organisms. With 2% of adults and 8% of children having allergic responses to commonly eaten foods, consumer advocates argue that all novel gene-spliced foods need to be properly labeled so that consumers can avoid health risks. The British Medical Assn. has become so concerned about the potential health effects of consuming genetically modified foods that it has just called for an open-ended moratorium on the commercial planting of genetically engineered food crops until a scientific consensus emerges on their safety. And, last month, the European Commission announced a freeze on licenses for genetically engineered plants after learning about the monarch butterfly study.

A worldwide moratorium should be declared now on releasing genetically engineered food crops and other gene-spliced organisms into the environment pending further study of the potential environmental and health risks and liability issues at stake. It would be irresponsible and foolish to continue seeding farmland with genetically engineered food crops when we have yet to develop even a rudimentary risk assessment science by which to regulate these new agricultural products.