4 June 99

Table of Contents

More Bt and RR Problems
USDA Soliciting Local Input for World Trade Organization Negotiations
Brazil Farms Become Biotech Battlegrounds
Is there a UK trial site near you? Find out more
Book: "Genetic Engineering, Food, and our Environment"
Dr. Pusztai defends GM data in Ireland
US Jury Deadlocks in Genentech Case (stolen Genes)
Arkansas Dioxin Chickens
More Internet Links
EU Gives Order to Destroy Belgian 'Chicken a la Dioxin'
Belgian Food Scare Expands to Beef, Pork
N.Ireland: False sense of security
Court Jury Verdict to Result in Sizable Penalties Against Monsanto
Ireland: Opponents of GM foods walk out of consultation talks with Government
Pro-GE Article from India

Top NextFront Page

Date: 2 Jun 1999 10:45:11 -0500


A couple of recent bits from a US agronomist writing on GE crops. These are taken from the superlative nlpwessex website on agronomic problems with GE varieties:

Basically the agronomist in question is saying don't grow bt (at least, in any but very exceptional circumstances). The disease reference to RR is also interesting.

The picture that's emerging is that the only farmers for whom these crops might make sense agronomically is those with severe weed or pest problems (that's ignoring the environmental, human health and marketability problems, of course!)

More Bt and RR Problems

Dr Erick Larson, Missippi State University Extension Service, Agronomy Notes 15 March, 1999

"Bt corn hybrids are an unproven technology in the South. Bt corn should effectively control Southwestern and European corn borers and have moderate control on corn earworms and fall armyworms. However, data does not support whether hybrids containing this technology will yield well and have the agronomic characteristics similar to the best conventional hybrids in Mississippi.

Considering the significant problems experienced with transgenic traits in other crops during the last several years, growers should be extremely cautious of any unproven technology. I do not recommend using Bt corn, except on a trial basis (one or two bags), unless a severe corn borer problem existed in your immediate area last year."

Dr Alan Blaine (Missippi State University Extension Service, Agronomy Notes 8 January, 1999):

"After 2 years of large-scaled planting of Roundup Ready varieties, a lot of mixed emotions have surfaced. Although some good varieties are available, Roundup Ready varieties, as a whole, have been much more variable in yield and disease reaction."

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 2 Jun 1999 11:28:13 -0500

List of public sessions is at bottom. Starting June 4th!! This is a great opportunity for organic activists to attend and express their concerns about GE issues, food irradiation, labeling issues, rBGH and the national organic standards. Debbie

USDA Soliciting Local Input for World Trade Organization Negotiations

Both USDA and the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) will hold 11 public listening sessions in July (including sessions in Vermont and Delaware) to solicit public comments, outline general approaches, and share ideas about critical trade issues, such as market access, export subsidies, tariff reductions, internal support, state trading enterprises, labor issues, natural resources issues, environmental issues, and trade concerns relating to products using new technologies. The advice of farmers, ranchers, processors, exporters, and consumers will be critical in establishing US agricultural trade objectives and goals for the upcoming WTO Ministers' Meeting in Seattle in late November, and for the ensuing WTO trade negotiations.

In order to appear before the USDA-USTR panel, interested persons must register with their State Departments of Agriculture for the regional sessions. Written questions and comments will be accepted in writing from those individuals who cannot attend the listening sessions. Written comments must be received no later than July 26 and can be e-mailed to:,or mailed to: US Department of Agriculture, Trade Policy Comments, Mail Stop 9920, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9920.

For more information, contact Marlene Phillips, Foreign Agricultural Service Outreach Office, at (phone) 202-720-0103 or Also, check the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Home Page at:

Look under "Upcoming Events".

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 3 Jun 1999 02:44:05 -0500
From: (jim mcnulty)

Brazil Farms Become Biotech Battlegrounds

By Phil Stewart, Tuesday June 1, 7:15 pm Eastern Time

'Last Great Unspoiled Agriculture Producer'
Then there are the feared hazards for the Earth.
Reap What You Sow?

TRES DE MAYO, Brazil (Reuters) - Brazilian farmer Alberto Wunsch spends much of his time these days muttering about border controls and DNA testing.

But it is not migrant workers or a paternity suit that have the 44-year-old farmer wringing his hands. It is the advent of genetically altered seeds that he fears will dazzle farmers on his cooperative with promises of higher profits and super-botanical productivity.

Who would look this biotech gift horse in the mouth? Wunsch would. He says modern science's meddling in agriculture could cost him precious customers in health-conscious Europe, where consumers are boycotting so-called Frankenstein foods. There is still a global debate about whether these seeds are safe, and Wunsch said sternly.

Tracing his finger along a color-coded map of his cooperative in the rolling hills of Rio Grande do Sul state, he lays out a battle plan to keep the seeds off the land.

Brazil, Latin America's king of agriculture, has sat on the sidelines while the debate over genetically modified (GM) food has bubbled over into a global trade war.

U.S. biotechnology firms, after spreading their seed in North America, have been slapped with trade bans and licensing delays in the Europe Union. Fierce consumer protests there have forced European food processors and major supermarket chains such as France's Carrefour to wipe GM foods off their shelves and increasingly turn to an alternate supplier – Brazil.

With more territory than the continental United States, Brazil turns out more coffee, sugar and oranges than anywhere else on the planet and is a leading grower of other staples like soybeans, wheat and corn.

'Last Great Unspoiled Agriculture Producer'

What we have here is the hemisphere's last great unspoiled agriculture said Rio Grande do Sul's agriculture secretary, Jose Hermetto Hoffamann, himself a vocal opponent of GM foods. he added.

Top multinationals are lining up to leave genetically enhanced footprints on Brazil's soil. And U.S. biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. is poised to take the first step.

In a landmark decision last month, Brazil's government told Monsanto it could kick off nationwide sales of a line of genetically altered soybeans with the brand name Roundup Ready. Monsanto boasts that within three years their seeds, altered to tolerate a potent weed-killer, will compose half of Brazil's soybean crop, the world's largest behind the United States.

But Monsanto's kick-off may turn into more of a fumble as environmental groups led by Greenpeace launch a drive to hold the soybeans hostage in Brazil's labyrinthine court system. They argue that soybeans are the basic stuff of processed foods and genetically altered varieties will quickly find their way into ice cream, chocolate and some 60 percent of modern edibles, posing a potential health risk to humans.

Then there are the feared hazards for the Earth.

Basically, there are no medium- or long-term assessments about what happens once (the crops) are released into What we

Politicians in Brazil's wealthy growing states have also jumped on the anti-transgenic bandwagon, with the left-wing government of Rio Grande do Sul threatening to torch Monsanto's soybeans and ban farmers from planting GM crops.

Reap What You Sow?

The question Brazil's farmers are asking is whether shunning the advances of science is a wise business move, especially as global commodities prices sink to their lowest in recent history. A growing number of them believe transgenics may be a solution to their economic woes, so much so that they have broken the law to get their hands on some.

Farmers in Rio Grande do Sul have been buying seeds smuggled illegally over the border from Argentina, where Monsanto's soybeans are not only legal but covered half that nation's crop this year.

Just a three-hour drive along broken highways and dirt roads from Wunsch's cooperative lies Monsanto's Rio Grande do Sul headquarters, where executives are calculating a sales boom from all the pent-up Brazilian demand.

Luis Ozorio Dumonecel, head of Monsanto operations there, says the explanation is simple: despite well-publicized fears, there are still no proven health or environmental risks from gene-enhanced crops. And then there are the economic incentives: Roundup Ready soybeans could save a farmer thousands of dollars on herbicides annually. This is a product that farmers want, that is going to help them save It is a political issue right now, but I think worries will disappear once people are educated

Meanwhile, Wunsch will proudly tell you about his two trips this year to Europe, where he rubbed elbows with supermarket moguls and food processors eager to secure transgenic-free produce.

But he will also admit he is rolling the dice. Consumers may swallow their if ongoing scientific tests ultimately prove them harmless.

Wunsch also concedes nobody has offered him any cash to fund his crusade against transgenics, which includes a hefty price tag for DNA testing to show his crops are GM-free. He has also stockpiled six huge silos of seeds and organized an elaborate distribution network to make sure his farmers follow his costly battle plan. Wunsch We hope the money will follow.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 3 Jun 1999 06:14:07 -0500
From: Jon


Is there a UK trial site near you? Find out more

If you're in the UK, you can now find the GM test sites nearest to you, courtesy of Friends of the Earth, online at

Friends of the Earth say that Government approvals for genetically engineered test sites in the UK countryside are down from over 300 last year to around 140 this year. However, the industry is fighting back through the large farmscale trials that threaten largescale contamination of the nevironment including food crops.

For the most detailed info on the Norfolk sites see the ngin website

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 3 Jun 1999 06:14:07 -0500
From: Jon

Book: "Genetic Engineering, Food, and our Environment"

by Luke Anderson

"The best guide yet . . . Answers the questions we should all be asking about genetic engineering."

Cooper, Presenter of The Food Programme, Radio 4

"The battle over genetic engineering will run and run. Arm yourself with this book - it's one of the most useful weapons you could choose."

George Monbiot, Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of East London

This new book is a well researched argument against the use of genetic engineering in food and agriculture, designed to answer the main questions people are asking about this new technology. The contents are as follows:

The book is indexed and fully referenced.

Book details:

Genetic Engineering, Food, and our Environment by Luke Anderson. 160 pages, 174 x 123mm. ISBN 1 870098 78 1 £3.95 paperback. (Printed on recycled, non-chlorine bleached paper.)

Published by Green Books, Foxhole, Dartington, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EB Tel: 01803 863260 Fax 01803 863843 email

Special Rates for Groups Campaigning on GE Issues:

1-9 copies: £3.95 per copy plus £1 postage per order.
10-24 copies: £3 per copy, post free.
25 or more copies: £2 per copy, post free.

Ideally send a cheque with your order to Green Books (address above). Credit card orders can be made by phone. For groups that are unable to provide the cost up front, the books can be ordered at the same rates on a sale or return basis.

For further information phone John Elford or Paul Rossiter at Green Books on 01803 863260. Luke Anderson can be contacted on 01803 867951 or email

Green Books Ltd Foxhole, Dartington, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EB, UK
Tel & Fax (+44) 1803 863843 web site

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 3 Jun 1999 06:14:07 -0500
From: Jon

Prof. Pusztai bites back in Ireland: "They are using the same methodology to produce the GM potatoes as other GM products."

Dr. Pusztai defends GM data in Ireland

The Irish Times May 31, 1999

The Royal Society this month criticised research findings related to genetically modified food conducted by Dr Arpad Pusztai, who worked at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen for 36 years before being suspended after appearing on a television documentary. Dr Pusztai defends his work in an interview with Dick Ahlstrom

Science and the media can make for a volatile mix, and nobody knows this better than Dr Arpad Pusztai. He appeared on ITN's World in Action programme last August to discuss his research into genetically modified foods, hoping to win new research funding, but two days afterwards he was suspended and he remains somewhat in limbo among the scientific community. "I have landed up in no-man's land. It is not a comfortable place to be," stated the 68-year-old scientist, who for 36 years worked at the highly regarded Rowett Research Institute. He is a world expert in lectins and has published 276 papers and three books, so he is no newcomer to the ways of scientific publishing. Yet his appearance, which lasted for less than three minutes, has greatly disturbed the ordinarily calm scientific waters and continues to make waves on the GM technology front.

"It was timed," he said. "It was 150 seconds." His now controversial work involved feeding trials where rats were fed transgenic potatoes that included a gene coding for GNA lectin, a substance known to be toxic to insects. The GNA lectin was not expected to affect the rats, he said, but his data set apparently showed that those receiving GM potato experienced stunted organ and brain growth and disturbance to the immune system, compared to controls and to rats fed non-GM GNA lectin.

He thought he and his colleagues, including his wife Dr Susan Bardocz, who headed the research group, had made quite a significant discovery. "Unfortunately, we became famous but for the wrong reasons." His work was audited twice by the Rowett and criticised by its internal review group. And in an unprecedented move the Royal Society also decided to appoint six unnamed peers to review his research. About 10 days ago the society decided no conclusions could be drawn from his work. Yet another report, from the UK Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, also dismissed the research.

Dr Pusztai, however, remains determined to battle his way back and regain his credibility. He has no doubts whatsoever about the quality of his data. "I stand by them. There is not the slightest suspicion in my mind that they are incorrect," he said.

The Royal Society review pointed to flaws in the experimental regime used, but Dr Pusztai pointed out the original research proposal had itself been peer reviewed by the British Biotechnology Science Research Council. It had been selected from among 27 proposals in a fair competition and received funding worth (pounds) 1.6 million from the Scottish Office.

The research described on the World in Action programme had not been submitted for review and publication. "We said that they were preliminary experiments," he said, but that did not mean that they were "inferior". Fellow scientists have criticised him for departing from the accepted procedures associated with the release of scientific data, most recently last week in Dublin. He addressed the 13th Inaugural Lecture hosted by UCD's Biochemical Society on the subject, " Genetic modification of food: the way forward?" The reply was delivered by Prof David McConnell, head of the department of genetics at Trinity College Dublin.

He was also criticised for reading too much into the research, although he said others read things into the research on his behalf. "The only thing I said was I felt concerned. That was with a view to more experiments," Dr Pusztai said. He had hoped that the findings would help win more funding so that the research could be continued. Another two years' work and they would have been able to come to much clearer conclusions, he added.

In the programme he suggested the "construct" could have been a cause for the changes in the rats. This is the combination of genetic engineering components including the gene, its promoter "switch", a marker gene to confirm insertion and a viral element or some other way of getting these parts delivered into the plant.

The lectin form used in the experiments had been shown to have no effect on rats, he said. He knew of no reason for the changes unless the construct was causing them. "For some reason or other the construct or the positional effect (in the genome) causes changes in the gut and immune effects that have secondary effects on the body."

He said he was worried about the rapid release of GM products. "They are using the same methodology to produce the GM potatoes as other GM products." Although his methodology has been criticised, his data remain to be answered. It certainly shows that changes took place in the rats for whatever reason, although more work would have to be done to confirm that the construct had a part to play in this.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 3 Jun 1999 06:57:39 -0500
From: Colleen Robison-Spencer

About stolen Genes: Washington Post Page E8

American Home Products, a leading maker of drugs, herbicides and pesticides, likely will sell or spin off its agricultural chemicals unit as it loses sales to rival Monsanto's Roundup brand of weed killers, analysts said. American Home warned that its agricultural unit's poor performance would reduce its 1999 profit

US Jury Deadlocks in Genentech Case (stolen Genes)

By Justin Gillis, Washington Post Staff Writer, Thursday, June 3, 1999; Page E16

Calif. University to Seek New Patent Trial After Lone Juror Holds Out

A California jury deadlocked yesterday in deliberations over whether Genentech Inc., the world's second-largest biotechnology company, stole research from the University of California at San Francisco in developing a top-selling drug.

Attorneys on both sides of the case said eight jurors voted in favor of the university, believing that Genentech's version of human growth hormone violated a UCSF patent. One juror refused to go along with the verdict, the attorneys said.

On a lesser issue, whether the UCSF patent was valid in the first place, the jurors ruled unanimously that it was.

The outcome was a blow to UCSF, which has battled in the courts for nine years to prove that Genentech, the world's first biotech company, stole important research done in 1978, at the dawn of the biotech era. But Gerald P. Dodson, the university's lead lawyer in the case, said he was heartened by the 8-1 split in favor of his client and would pursue another trial.

"Genentech can't take much comfort in this," Dodson said. "They had one wild-hair juror who was openly not following the law or the evidence. The jury foreman said there was just no way of reasoning with him at all."

Attorneys for Genentech disputed this assessment and said they looked forward to trying the case again. They had lamented that they were blindsided by the testimony of Peter Seeburg, a former Genentech employee who took the stand for the university and claimed the company stole UCSF research. Next time, the attorneys said, they'll be better prepared to defend themselves.

"We consider this a victory," said Sean Johnston, vice president for intellectual property at Genentech. "We know much better the sort of allegations that have been made against us and are now better prepared to deal with those."

Johnston would not rule out a settlement, but Genentech has fought the case so hard for so long that Dodson, the university attorney, said he considered that unlikely.

"Genentech's pattern over the last 20 years has been to conceal this and to hide from the truth," Dodson said. "And I think that pattern will continue."

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 3 Jun 1999 09:29:32 -0500

Arkansas Dioxin Chickens

I don't know about about the oils, but this post brings to mind the contamination of catfood pellets and chicken with dioxin here in Arkansas a couple of years ago. The EPA attempted to do something about it, but was slaughtered by business and economic interests....editorials raging at them for attempting to shut down the states economy and deprive all these chicken "farmers" and catfish "farmers" of their livlihood over a tinney-tiny bit of dixion.


Date: 3 Jun 1999 10:26:18 -0500
From: "Campbell, Jon" Campbell@Rational.Com


Actually the EPA did do some digging on the Arkansas chicken case, and the contamination was about 2-3 times that of ordinary hamburger (which is usually 10-30 times as much as in chicken). They narrowed it down to an old clay quarry but could not find the source; some people suggested dumping years before, but a whole debate raged about "natural dioxin" (a rather stupid debate at that).

But you are right; the whole controversy was quickly covered up and forgotten in the media. Tyson, the contract owner for most of the chickens and the company that discovered the original contamination, had thousands of chickens killed. I don't think the fish farmers were required to do anything at all.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 3 Jun 1999 10:50:09 -0500
From: Vegetarian Resource Center
From: Pierre Renaud & Leah Shaw

More Internet Links

Government Responds to Prince's GM Food Fears

The government has made a conciliatory response to the onslaught from Prince Charles over genetically-modified foods. The environment minister, Michael Meacher, said the Prince had raised legitimate questions in his newspaper article on the issue on Tuesday. Mr Meacher added that the Government has no intention of forcing GM foods down people's throats.

Julie Marshall: Nature at Risk

A risky experiment is going on across millions of acres of farmlands in America. This year one-quarter of the nation's corn crops have been genetically altered to resist corn borer pests. Plants thus doctored are supposed to help solve world hunger and secure farming for the future.,2107,55446-88664-629758-0,00.html

Boil Your Vegies .... It's Healthier

Stewing helps to combat cancer BOILED vegetables give better protection against cancer and heart disease than raw ones, scientists now say. The finding by an international research team pours cold water on the long-held belief that raw is best.

Food Pyramid Gets Kid-friendly Look

America's food pyramid is getting another upgrade, this time in an effort to make 2- to 6-year-olds eat better. The new food guide pyramid for young children is a kid-friendly version of the adult pyramid, featuring foods such as waffles, tortillas, yogurt and juice boxes.

Can it be True!? Sometimes Canned Veggies are Better than Fresh

I'm in the supermarket aisle looking around furtively to see if anybody is watching me. No, I'm not planning to flash or shoplift. I want to put a can of peas in my shopping cart. Yes. A CAN of peas.

Russia Bans Imports, Sales of Belgian Poultry over Dioxin Fears

MOSCOW (AP) – Russian health authorities have banned imports and sales of Belgian-produced chicken meat because of fears of dioxin contamination, news reports said Tuesday.

What to do when Life's Too Fast to be Thrifty, Green, Or Vegan

Are You A Distancer, An Integrator Or A Rationaliser? Louise tries to avoid buying anything new. Her job as a primary school teacher earns her a reasonable income, but most of what she owns is secondhand. She's thrifty because she believes it's the right thing to be.

Where the Sky's the Limit an Organic Farm is Showing City Children where our Food Really Comes from, Says Simon Brooke

`It smells," says Alice Trowell, six but nearly seven, when I ask her about the cow she has just seen. A born and bred city dweller myself, I explain that cows do smell. Playing with a gruesomely wobbly milk tooth, Alice looks unconvinced, but then adds that she has really come to see the pigs.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 3 Jun 1999 08:58:41 -0500
From: "Campbell, Jon" Campbell@Rational.Com
From: Colleen Robison-Spencer []

EU Gives Order to Destroy Belgian 'Chicken a la Dioxin'

By Charles Trueheart, Washington Post Foreign Service, Thursday, June 3, 1999; Page A24

PARIS, June 2-As public fears of dioxin-poisoned Belgian chickens and eggs spread across Europe, the European Union today ordered that a vast array of potentially tainted Belgian food products, including cakes, cookies, mayonnaise and pasta made with suspect eggs, be withdrawn from sale and destroyed.

The European Union acted after the Belgian government decided to ban the sale of all chicken- or egg-based foods after high levels of the carcinogenic chemical were found in animal feed sold to poultry farms by a Belgian processor.

The suspect shipments of animal feed date to mid-January. Belgian authorities reportedly were tipped to the problem three months later. But more than a month then elapsed before Belgian health and agriculture officials, confronted by press disclosures, admitted they had been investigating the reports but had not warned the public of the potentially fatal hazards of ingesting dioxin in the reported quantities – which were as much as 1,500 times higher than the acceptable level.

To date, there have been no reported illnesses from the dioxin contamination.

The Belgian health and agriculture ministers resigned over the scandal Tuesday, 12 days before general elections that could now topple the ruling coalition.

The chickens, eggs and poultry byproducts suspected of contamination by the tainted feed originated in some 400 poultry farms, mostly in the Dutch-speaking Flanders portion of Belgium and in northeast France.

Health officials in Belgium believe that the feed manufacturer had used a batch of animal and vegetable oils, routinely added to the pellet mixtures fed to chickens, that had been laced with dioxin-contaminated motor oils. European officials reportedly are investigating the possibility that poisoned feed also was distributed to pork producers.

Pending today's action by the European Union, the French government had blocked the sale of chickens and eggs from the 30 French farms that bought the suspect feed. Greek authorities seized a 40-ton shipment of French chickens, while German, Italian, Dutch, Polish and Russian authorities slapped temporary bans on Belgian poultry imports.

Other countries' health officials said they were waiting for evidence that contaminated products had found their way into national food distribution systems. But enough time has passed for plenty of dioxin-tainted foods -- how much may never be known – to have passed through the marketplace and into human alimentary systems.

The developing toxic food crisis – dubbed "chicken a la dioxin" in the French media – stirred recent memories of public hysteria, bureaucratic turmoil and European bickering over Britain's outbreak of "mad cow disease," suspected in 1996 of infecting beef-eating humans. The crisis forced Britain to slaughter tens of thousands of cattle and led the European Union to impose an export ban on British beef that has not yet been lifted.

The increasing interdependence of European nations as goods pass routinely across borders means that any food-related health problem in one country almost automatically becomes a health problem for the continent.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 4 Jun 1999 07:19:20 -0500
From: Colleen Robison-Spencer

Belgian Food Scare Expands to Beef, Pork

Compiled from news services, Friday, June 4, 1999; Page A28

BRUSSELS – A scandal over Belgian poultry laced with cancer-causing dioxin has now spread to pork and beef, engulfing most of the nation's meat industry.

The government approved new measures banning the slaughter and even transport of poultry, pork and beef across the country, worsening the biggest food scare in the 15-nation European Union since Britain's 1996 "mad cow disease."

The European Union on Wednesday ordered that Belgian poultry – as well as products such as cakes, cookies, mayonnaise and pasta made with possibly contaminated eggs – be destroyed. Yesterday, it expanded that decision to include pork and beef, and said it will also ban the export of such products. Nations from Greece to Ghana scrambled to keep Belgian food off supermarket shelves.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 4 Jun 1999 13:11:07 -0500
From: (jim mcnulty)

N.Ireland: False sense of security

Belfast News Letter © Copyright 1999, _____via IntellX_____

THE Government's concern over the widespread rejection of genetically modified crops is evident when the Food Safety Minister Jeff Rooker took the trouble to write an article of "explanation" for the Northern Ireland Press.

The similarity of the Government's policies on genetic modification and water fluoridation is significant. When in 1952 the Government's mission returned from the United States after investigating fluoridation it reported in favour but stated that "itinvolved a degree of calculated risk". Yet in spite of the ever increasing evidence of risks to health the Government still intends to "push forward" fluoridation, "if necessary to do so by subtle means" to quote the Health Minister, Mr Frank Dobson,("The Dentist," July/August 1998).

Such scientific evidence of harm over the last 11 years lead to the members, (numbering over 1,000) of the Union of Government Scientists in the United States Environmental Protection Agency to unanimously vote against fluoridation (statement of 2 July1997).

As in both issues eminent scientists who reveal the dangers are discredited. For example in the case of fluoride, Dr Bill Marcus who was sacked by his employers - the United States EPA (but subsequently won his court case against the Agency) and in thecase of GM, Dr Arpad Pusztai who was sacked by the controversial Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen. This Government-backed Institute is receiving cash from the American biotechnology giant [ Monsanto ] .

Mr Rooker claims that Great Britain is the first country in Europe to tackle the issue of controls of GM crops on the farm. It took some time for the countries in Western Europe to reject water fluoridation, they with Great Britain were in receipt ofmillions of United States dollars to promote fluoridation.

Fluoride added to drinking water though claimed as "natural" is hexafluorosilicic acid (the by-product of industry) and foreign genes added to food crops (most unnatural) are not for the benefit of mankind but for the financial benefit of the producers,the multi- national companies which dictate to the Governments.

Unlike the use of fluoride, where people were given a false sense of security of its safety by the propaganda of the Health Authorities, the violation of nature through genetically modification of plants is obvious to the general public.

As Mr Rooker put it, it "has really sparked public interest and whipped up media hysteria!"

His making the issue "absolutely plain" can do nothing to quell the "hysteria". May the media continue to keep the public informed.

Genetic Food Alert, which is campaigning against genetic manipulation of food, may be contacted at 33 Fleming Street, Glasgow G311 PQ, telephone, 0141 554 6099.

M Harbinson (Member of NI branch, National Pure Water Association),BallygallyWrite to: Letters to the Editor, News Letter, 46-56 Boucher Crescent, Belfast BT12 6QY

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 4 Jun 1999 13:11:48 -0500
From: (jim mcnulty)

Court Jury Verdict to Result in Sizable Penalties Against Monsanto

SOURCE: Rhone-Poulenc Agro, Company Press Release
Thursday June 3, 3:39 pm Eastern Time

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(r) corn. The jury also found DeKalb misappropriated trade secrets when it transferred Rhone-Poulenc Agro's technology to Monsanto and commercialized Roundup Ready corn.

While the jury added no additional punitive damages to the $50 million awarded by a jury in April, presiding U.S. District Judge N. Carlton Tilley will consider awarding additional damages against DeKalb for willfulness of the patent infringement.

Rhone-Poulenc said today following the conclusion of the suit that it will seek an injunction against the sale of DeKalb's Roundup Ready corn seed for next year's growing season.

In April a jury found DeKalb had fraudulently induced Rhone-Poulenc Agro to license genetic technology that imparted glyphosate tolerance in Roundup Ready corn and awarded Rhone-Poulenc a total of $65 million in damages.

Rhone-Poulenc filed suit against DeKalb and Monsanto in 1997 claiming that the Roundup Ready corn seed was created from genetic material invented by Rhone-Poulenc. The lawsuit established Rhone-Poulenc's ownership of glyphosate tolerance traits in DeKalb's Roundup Ready corn and prohibited further usage without a license.

Rhone-Poulenc Agro, based in Lyon, France, is a global leader in crop protection products and technology. It is also a subsidiary of Rhone-Poulenc S.A. (NYSE: RP - news), a global life sciences company, growing through innovations in human, plant and animal health and through its specialty chemicals subsidiary, Rhodia. With 19998 sales of $14.8 billion (FF86.8 billion), the company employs 65,000 people in 160 countries.

Roundup Ready is a trademark of Monsanto Co.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 4 Jun 1999 13:12:10 -0500
From: (jim mcnulty)

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

The Irish Times © Copyright 1999, _____via IntellX_____

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. This was indicated by the Minister immediately before the first day's agenda-setting debate last week.

The Minister said last night, however, that he would continue the process by holding the second-stage debate even if the NGOs were not represented. He noted with regret "the 11th-hour decision to withdraw."

He has asked the independent panel to continue the consultation process and prepare its report, "having regard to the written submissions of the organisations involved". Such an independent report would provide "a valuable contribution" to his review of environmental policy in "this sensitive and rapidly developing area".

The NGOs' spokeswoman, Ms Iva Pocock of the Voice environmental group, said they were led to believe the debates were about GMOs and the environment.

But the second day's debate was broadened and had, for example, included economic issues but not health concerns on the agenda, she said. Because of these "and other valid reasons", the "unfortunate decision" to withdraw was taken. "He ruled out a key issue which NGOs wanted to debate."

The Genetic Concern spokesman, Mr Quentin Gargan, said environmental issues had been restricted unduly, while concerns about the health impact of GM foods, which were to be spelt out by the renowned geneticist, Prof Joe Cummins of the University of Western Ontario, were not being given a full airing.

The alliance includes environmentalists, organic farmers, wildlife groups and doctors.

However, Compassion in World Farming and the Irish Anti-Vivisection Society said they would continue to participate "as we must take every opportunity, however limited, to raise the serious animal welfare implications of farm animal genetic engineering." They believed, however, that the process was seriously flawed.

Ms Kathryn Raleigh of IBEC's Food and Drink Federation said the withdrawal was very disappointing. She believed the agenda, while it had gone beyond environmental issues, had included consumer concerns that had been raised by the NGOs.

The director of the Irish Bio-industry Association, Mr Matt Moran, who represented biotech companies at the debates, said he was deeply saddened and disappointed. He felt the first debate had been balanced and comprehensive, and today's agenda had covered all relevant issues.

The biotech company [ Monsanto ] strongly criticised the withdrawal. Its business manager for Ireland, Dr Patrick O'Reilly, said it was "inexplicable given the clear terms of reference agreed by all sides, the productive outcome of the first meeting and the importance of the issue for consumers, the economy and the environment in Ireland."

He added: "Those opposed to GM technology need to explain why they have sought to sabotage the debate in this manner, especially since the items on the agenda are the ones they wanted discussed. The truth would appear to lie more in the fact they are losing the argument and hence their aversion to critical analysis."

Top PreviousFront Page

Date: 4 Jun 1999 13:22:44 -0500
From: "Campbell, Jon" Campbell@Rational.Com

Pro-GE Article from India

This is the standard form propaganda that has been appearing in the US as well, with an American slant worked into it. I believe this is part of a well-orchestrated worldwide PR campaign by Monsanto. Considering the quality of the writing, I would say Powell-Tate, but I can't know for sure.

This is the beginning of a psychological warfare campaign in which the opponents of GE will be portrayed as (sequentially) misinformed, elitist, anti-progress, Luddite, anti-farmer, anti-people, and, finally, evil. I believe the level and intensity of propaganda will increase dramatically, and may even escalate to physical threats and violence.

Monsanto has gotten itself into a corner. They have burned all their bridges. The only thing left of the company is agricultural chemicals and genetically engineered seeds. They have the entire company - a multi-billion dollar multinational - riding on the success of this technology, licensing the seeds, and consolidation of the world's agricultural system. I am certain that every Monsanto employee and sales agent knows this - there is now no turning back, even if individual employees may have reservations about it. They know they will lose their jobs if this initiative fails. The company has awesome resources at its disposal.

What we have is the truth and our concern for the world's agriculture and the ecosystem, and a LOT of people who already know the score.


----------------- Original Message ------------------
From: []
Subject: B-GE: GE Crops/INDIA NEWS

Huge potential of genetically improved plants outweighs hypothetical risks

By CS Prakash, e-mail:
Financial Express (India) Front Page, Monday, May 31, 1999

Looking at the recent developments in India from a Centre for Plant Biotechnology Research that I head in an American campus (and there are many like me in biotechnology in US academia and the biotech industry), I am struck by how a small group of Indian activists (with strong Western connections) opposed to biotechnology have been making headlines virtually unopposed.They are on the warpath against genetically improved crops. And through well-orchestrated campaigns are sowing the seeds of fear in the minds of the Indian public.

Their goal is clearly to intimidate policy makers by twisting facts about biotechnology and vilifying its proponents. Fields trials of genetically improved crops have been burnt without regard to the views of their farmer-owners and some of the most absurd and wild rumours about the risks of biotechnology have been meticulously spread with appropriate sound bites.Strangely, neither the media nor intellectuals from outside the scientific community have chosen to challenge thebasis of such claims. Risk is essentially a function of the nature of a product, and not the process employed in developing the product, according to Andre de Kathan of the University of Hanover, Germany.

Products from biotechnology are no less safe than traditionally bred crops. In fact, they may even be safer as they represent small, precise alterations with the introduction of genes whose biology is well understood. Often these genes are derived from other food crops.

Genetically improved products are subjected to intensive testing, while conventional varieties have never been subjected to any such regulation for food safety or environmental impact. Traditional methods of developing crops involve wild crosses with weedy relatives of crop plants. Hundreds of unknown genes,of whose traits we have little knowledge, are introduced into these food crops through these conventional plant breeding methods.

Many characteristics such as disease and pest resistance have been routinely introduced into cropplants from their weedy and distant relatives over hundreds of years. These have posed no serious threat to the environment in terms of crop invasiveness, gene flow to weeds or the biodiversity. Yet, some of these fears are invoked for genetically-improved crops which possess similar traits, but are developed through a rapid genetic modification processes.

Thousands of new plants have been introduced into India since Vasco da Gama, and no one now questions the invaluable impact these exotic introductions have made on Indian agriculture, food habits and the economy. These include chilli, wheat, potato, tomato, cabbage, groundnut, cowpea, apple, grape, eucalyptus, rose and countless ornamentals. Genetically improved crops, on the other hand, do not involve any such wholesale introduction of thousands of new genes through new plants, only alteration of just one or two genes with known traits in the already popular Indian crop varieties.

There is, therefore, a far greater risk to the Indian society from thenon-acceptance of biotechnology when compared to the minuscule risks posed by genetically improved crops. The enormous potential benefits from these crops therefore far outweigh any hypothetical risks posed by their use.Genetically improved plants are safe Thousands of field tests conducted so far on various genetically improved crops with more than one hundred new traits, or their commercial planting on 28 million hectares world-wide have failed to provide any serious evidence of food safety or environmental concern. Gene altered corn and soyabean products, including baby food, have now found their way into nearly 4,000 food products in American supermarkets. Yet, not a single issue of food safety has been reported. It should be pointed out that American standards of food safety are the highest in the world. The regulatory agency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has one of the world's strictest standards and thus enjoys considerable public trust.

Many genes used in genetically improved crops, such including the Bt gene isolated from soil bacteria, have a long history of perfect safety and ecological record. Further, many genes introduced into crop plants (such as those used to develop slow ripening tomato) are derived essentially from the same crop but inserted in a reverse manner to silence the undesirable genes, so as to slow down the ripening in tomato or prevent cyanide production in cassava.

This is not to say that genetically improved crops will not have any unforeseen effects. But the possible negative effects of each crop should be scientifically evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and the regulatory system should evolve over time based on new knowledge. As India is the centre of the origin of many crop plants with many wild relatives, we should be prudent to minimise any potential gene transfer to weedy relatives.

Many of these concerns are technical issues that could be addressed through appropriate research, and not through emotive debates or militant activism.A frequent fear invokedagainst the use of genetically improved crops is their possible impact on the environment. What can be more environmentally friendly than a crop variety that requires little or no pesticide? How can a crop variety that is three-fold productive, and thus decreases the pressure to cut down forest lands for agricultural expansion, be against nature? Yet, one hears that 'biotechnology is incompatible with nature' and is 'not natural'. We need to remember that agriculture is inherently an unnatural activity. Human beings since the dawn of civilisation have been meddling with nature to provide the needed food, fibre and shelter for the sustenance of humankind. None of our present day crops resemble their weedy relatives. Nor would they survive in the wild as they have all been altered substantially through selection by farmers over thousands of years to be more adaptable and productive.

A similar situation exists with livestock and poultry and, for that matter, even our pets like dogs and cats. Geneticallyimproved crops are a logical extension of this human activity, and thus are no more unnatural than what has been practiced for aeons. Suman Sahai of Gene Campaign, New Delhi has rightly reminded us that we should harvest the power of science and technology to improve the living conditions of our people and our most ethical drive is in alleviating poverty, hunger and starvation death.

What the experts say

The author is professor and director of the Centre for Plant Biotechnology Research at Tuskegee University, Alabama, USA. He is the founder of the 'Society for Biotechnology' in Bangalore, and is among the founding members of an Internet-based network called PBASIO – the 'Plant Biotechnologists and Agricultural Scientists of Indian Origin' which has more than 800 members and promotes discussion on agbiotech related issuesconcerning India.

© Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.