Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

10 June 99

Table of Contents

Modified corn on sale in UK 'kills' life-saving
Protests Over rBGH Use in New Zealand
Gene Soybeans to Make up 55% of U.S. Crop in 99
National Summit on the Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods
Blair softens stance on GMfoods,
US: "we Can't Force-feed Consumers," Agriculture Secretary Says
UK: Tesco removes GM ingredient from pizza
First GM farmer destroys his crops
PAN AP's New Zealand rBGH Campaign Bears Fruit!
It's our right to know what's being put into our food
CBC-NW: Blowin' in the wind
What Has Our Food Become?
Scientists Take Flak Over Food Scares
Implications of GM crop growth
Britain's food producers retreat from GE
Now we want to be a GM-free zone, say worried farmers

Top NextFront Page

Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1999 16:04:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

thanks to Bradford Duplisea brad@pei.sympatico.ca for posting this:

Modified corn on sale in UK 'kills' life-saving antibiotics

By Marie Woolf, The Independent on Sunday, 6 June 1999

GM corn sold in Britain could render eight powerful antibiotics, used by doctors to fight fatal diseases including typhoid, pneumonia and infections suffered by Aids patients, useless within half an hour.

Expert advice received by the Ministry of Agriculture (Maff) as long ago as 1995, warned that an antibiotic resistance gene inserted into a type of GM maize was so powerful that it could degrade an antibiotic in the human gut in 30 minutes.

The antibiotics are used to treat people with diseases such as bronchitis, septicemia, gangrene and life-threatening infections suffered by people with cystic fibrosis and Aids.

The leaked advice, from members of the Government's powerful Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, warned that the antibiotic resistance genes can mutate.

GM maize is already grown in the US and imported into Britain in foods such as tortilla chips.

The leaked advice has brought calls from environmentalists to ban the import into Britain of all GM food containing antibiotic resistance genes.

The week the Liberal Democrats will take the toughest stand by any political party yet on GM when they publish a policy paper on genetic modification. The party will call for the "swift phasing out of the use of antibiotic marker genes".

"It is completely irresponsible for the Government to allow antibiotics to be used indiscriminately like confetti at a wedding," said Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman.

The Liberal Democrats will call for genetic engineering companies, such as Monsanto and Novartis, to be legally liable for millions of pounds of compensation if the food turns out to harm people.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1999 16:04:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Protests Over rBGH Use in New Zealand

June 5, 1999

Activists Pledge to Take Action!

The Steering Council (board) members of the Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) discussed the application to the New Zealand government for the use of rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) in the Dairy Industry, at a recent meeting in Malaysia.

Members from Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Korea and India representing networks of consumers, women's and environmental organizations across the region, strongly oppose the use of this growth hormone due to associated health effects - including breast and prostate cancer.

"In the case of rBGH, the links to cancer, and other human health and safety concerns demands added vigilance. People have the right to know that they could be seriously jeopardizing their health, and that of their children", commented Anwar Fazal, PAN AP Steering Council Member, and Chairperson for the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA).

Since New Zealand dairy products are commonly sold and consumed in many of these countries, the organizations have pledged to organize actions - including boycotts of New Zealand dairy products - should the registration proceed.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1999 16:04:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Gene Soybeans to Make up 55% of U.S. Crop in 99

Friday June 4, 11:26 am Eastern Time

BERNE, June 4 (Reuters) - Genetically modified soybean varieties are expected to make up almost 55 percent of the U.S. crop this year, compared with about two percent in 1996, an official with the United Soybean Board (USB) said on Friday.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1999 16:04:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

National Summit on the Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods

Presenting the first 500,000 petition signatures calling for the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods that will be submitted to the President, Congress, USDA, FDA, and EPA Thursday, June 17

Capitol Hilton Hotel, 16th & K Streets, NW, Washington, D.C. 9 AM to 12 Noon

You are cordially invited to attend this National Summit of eminent scientists and physicians, public policy experts, business and industy leaders, farmers, religious and spiritual leaders, and consumers to discuss the urgent need to safeguard our food supply from the hazards of genetic engineering.

Panelists:

  1. Science, Health, and Environment
  2. Sheldon Krimsky, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy, Tufts University
  3. Richard Strohman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley
  4. Rama Dwivedi, Ph.D., Associate Director, Targeted Mutagenesis Facility, Children's Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University Medical School
  5. John Hagelin, Ph.D., Director, Institute of Science, Technology, and Public Policy; Presidential Candidate, Natural Law Party; Conference Moderator
  6. Ronald David, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, D.C. General Hospital, Washington, D.C.
  7. Gary Kaplan, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Clinical Neurophysiology, North Shore University Hospital, New York University School of Medicine Agriculture, Economics, and Trade
  8. Bill Wadsworth, Technical Manager, Iceland Frozen Foods, Plc, United Kingdom; Former Chairman, Food Legislation Committee, British Retail Consortium; 1999 Corporate Conscience Award Winner, Council on Economic Priorities
  9. The Hon. Marie Rabideau, New Hampshire State Legislature; Sponsor of House Bill 291 that would ban "Terminator Technology" from New Hampshire
  10. Patrick McVeigh, Executive Vice President, Trillium Asset Management (formerly Franklin Research and Development)
  11. Steve Suppan, Ph.D., Director of Research, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
  12. Frederick Kirschenman, Ph.D., Owner, Kirschenman Family Farms; Member, National Organic Standards Board; Former member, USDA National Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Council
  13. Margaret Wittenberg, Vice President, Governmental and Public Affairs, Whole Foods Market, Inc.; Member, USDA/EPA Tolerance Reassessment Advisory Committee
  14. Susan Haeger, President, Citizens For Health
  15. Laura Ticciati, Executive Director, Mothers for Natural Law; National Coordinator, "Consumer Right to Know Campaign;" Conference Host Ethics and Religion
  16. Steve Druker, President, Alliance for Bio-Integrity
  17. Reverend Dr. Donald Conroy, Roman Catholic Priest; President, North American Coalition on Religion and Ecology
  18. Rabbi Alan Green, Association of Jewish Renewal Rabbis
  19. Reverend DeWitt Williams, Director of Health Ministries of North America, Seventh-Day Adventist Church

Reservations and information: 1-877-732-5366 Sponsored by Mothers for Natural Law of the Natural Law Party Participation by panel members does not necessarily imply support for the Natural Law Party.

Natural Law Party * Blair House Suite 525 * 8201 16th Street * Silver Spring, MD 20910

William Crist, media communications
639 Whispering Hills Road, Suite 219
Boone, North Carolina 28607 USA
ph. 828-265-0023


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1999 16:04:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Blair softens stance on GMfoods,

Nicholas Watt, Political Correspondent Monday June 7
The Guardian 7th June 99., Front page

Links, reports and background: everything you need to know about GM food

Tony Blair yesterday signalled a significant softening of his support for genetically modified foods when he declared that "the jury is out" on whether they are safe to eat.

After months of intensive campaigning by ministers on the benefits of GM foods, the prime minister indicated that he has heeded growing public opposition when he admitted that he was horrified when he first heard the term.

"The first time I heard about genetic modification the term [was] so terrible," Mr Blair told BBC1's Breakfast with Frost. "You think, my goodness,what on earth is going on here. You think of Dr Strangelove."

The Prince of Wales, who spoke out against the genetic modification of crops last week, reportedly told friends that Cherie Booth [wife of Mr. Blair] spoke of her worries about the health and environmental impact of GM crops over lunch at his Highgrove estate last September.

In the interview yesterday the prime minister refused to comment on his wife's thoughts, joking that he would "get into a lot of trouble" if he spoke about their private discussions.

But Mr Blair said that he understood such fears,as he attempted to recast himself in the role of neutral observer on the issue of GM foods.

Mr Blair said: "We're in the position, as the government, where it is almost as if people say you're the greatest advocates of GM food. I'm not the advocate of anything other than keeping an open mind."


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1999 16:04:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

US: "we Can't Force-feed Consumers," Agriculture Secretary Says

By Bill Lambrecht Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau
Sunday, May 30, 1999. St. Louis Post-Dispatch

In the planting of genetically changed crops around the world, the U.S. government has done just about everything it can to help except drive the tractor.

Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman has been one of biotechnology's leading boosters, admonishing reluctant Europeans not to stand in the way of progress and urging the acceptance of food grown using the new, American technology. But lately, Glickman has turned cautious. In St. Louis last week, he warned that the United States must pay closer attention to questions being raised around the world about genetic engineering.

"We can't force-feed . . . reluctant consumers," he said.

His words, along with a recent scientific finding that biotechnology may harm butterflies, are helping trigger an emerging debate in this country that could prove pivotal for the new technology and for its driving force, St. Louis-based Monsanto Co.

In an interview in Washington on Friday, Glickman said biotechnology "shouldn't be a steamroller. ... Ultimately, if the consumer doesn't buy, the technology isn't worth a damn. Period."

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


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 11:22:06 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

UK: Tesco removes GM ingredient from pizza

Reuters, June 7, 1999

LONDON - British supermarket chain Tesco Plc said it was remaking some of its own label deep-pan pizzas after tests showed they contained genetically modified ingredients. A Tesco spokesman told BBC television suppliers had assured Tesco the product was GM free, but laboratory analysis showed traces of GM soya.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 11:22:06 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

First GM farmer destroys his crops

By Geraint Smith, London, Evening Standard Edition, Monday June 7,

The farmer who agreed to having the country's first large-scale trial of genetically modified crops on his land has destroyed them with weedkiller. Captain Fred Barker says the trustees of his family farm at Hannington in Wiltshire forced him to end the trial because they are opposed to the Government-run experiment and were unhappy that other crops on the farm were to lose their organic status because of the trial.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 11:22:06 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Message from Michael Hansen hansmi@consumer.org of the Consumer's Union (USA)

PAN AP is Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific.

PAN AP's New Zealand rBGH Campaign Bears Fruit!

Update June 7th, 1999

Dear Friends,

As we announced in the previous Update and Information shared on PAN AP's Campaign to deter the registration of the genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH - also known as rBST), the Animals Remedies Board was to meet on June 4th to discuss and decide on this issue.

The June 4th Meeting of the Animal Remedies Board

The Animals Remedies Board (ARB) did meet on the morning on June 4th, 1999 in Wellington, New Zealand. However, the Board - which is a statutory body set up via an act within the New Zealand Parliament - did not make a definitive decision on whether or not to register the hormone for use in the country. As such NO decision has been taken on this matter. While it is unclear at this when a decision will be made, one is expected later in the year.

PAN AP has learnt that the meeting discussed the mounting resistance to the possible registration of the drug. The official letter of concern from PAN AP, as well as numerous letters of concern and protest from PAN AP partners, were tabled at the meeting.

Significantly on June 5th, the New Zealand Herald carried a news story entiled" No Go for Cattle Hormone" in which it reported that "Elanco Animal Health, the animal remedy division of Auckland-based Eli Lilly NZ, says it will stop trying to register in New Zealand a controversial synthetic cattle hormone used overseas to boost milk production.

Green Party MP Jeanette Fitzsimons, who has been a vocal opponent of the hormone, widely used in the United States though banned in Europe and Canada, said the announcement was a triumph for advocates of safe food".


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 11:22:06 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

It's our right to know what's being put into our food

By Donna Hiscott, The Ottawa Citizen, June 08, 1999

The false horn of June 3, I feel the most salient point he makes is that the so- called benefits of biotechnology seem to be limited to the people who own the technology. These people are trying to sell us on the idea that we will all benefit from the genetic engineering of our food supply, especially the poor and undernourished of the world.

The Consumers Right to Know Association based in Ottawa has signatures from 35,000 people across Canada who do not agree. We do not want our food so that certain investors can make a big profit. We are upholding our legal right to know what is in our food and how it has been processed. We want mandatory labelling and long-term testing of all generically engineered food.

We like our food as nature intended, preferably without added pesticides, but at least in its genetically original form. We do not feel you can improve on nature in the lab.

Prince Charles is a spokesman for natural, organic food and a clean environment. We respect him for this work. But our own people – David Suzuki and many, many environmental activists – can speak just as well to the issues. Our government and our retailers are not listening to us. The is so true.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 11:22:06 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

CBC-NW: Blowin' in the wind

THE NATIONAL MAGAZINE (Canada), CBC-NW
Tuesday, June 8, 1999, TIME 21:27:00 ET

Host: Hana Gartner
Guests:

HANA GARTNER:
Tonight: "Blowin' In The Wind."

UNIDENTIFIED:
What I believe is happening to farmers is wrong.

GARTNER:
The little seeds that have turned this into a battlefield. "Lord of New Brunswick."

BERNARD LORD / NEW BRUNSWICK PREMIER:
It's difficult to be premier, no matter how old you are.

GARTNER:
An interview with Canada's newest premier. The new plan for peace in Kosovo. We'll hear from this former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and a supporter of Slobodan Milosevic.

GARTNER:
Hello. Our first story tonight is a modern day tale of David and Goliath. It pits a Saskatchewan farmer against a giant bio-tech multinational, and it shows just how far that company will go to protect its position in the burgeoning market for genetically altered crops. Here is Murray Oliver of CBC Saskatchewan with "Blowin' In The Wind."

MURRAY OLIVER:
Percy Schmeiser has spent 50 years farming this land near Bruno, Saskatchewan. Now suddenly, Schmeiser is fighting maybe the strangest battle in the history of agriculture.

PERCY SCHMEISER / FARMER:
My grandfather and my father homesteaded here, and there was no such thing as chemical companies or basically no seed companies. They were free and independent.

OLIVER:
Schmeiser learned a long time ago that the wind is often a farmer's worst enemy; wind blows the seeds and pollen of weeds into farm fields, choking out crops. But now the wind may have brought a new threat to Schmeiser's farm, forcing him to fight for control of the seeds planted beneath his feet. Schmeiser has picked a fight with the biggest boy on the block – he's battling the world's largest agro-chemical company, Monsanto.

OLIVER:
Monsanto makes this famous weed killer, called "Roundup." Spray it onto a field and it kills everything growing there. But now Monsanto has genetically engineered a canola seed so that "Roundup" doesn't hurt it. That means you can spray "Roundup" herbicide over an entire field, kill all the weeds growing there and not hurt your canola crops - - as long as it comes from Monsanto's special seed.

OLIVER:
Many Canadian farmers want the special canola seeds containing Monsanto's DNA. But while farmers can buy the special seed, Monsanto keeps the rights to the DNA itself. After all, that's what makes the seed special and that's where Monsanto makes its money. But farmers traditionally plant their fields using seeds saved from their last year's crop. Just like in human beings, the DNA of seeds are passed along from generation to generation.

OLIVER:
A farmer could buy Monsanto's special seed once, then never have to pay for it again; all the benefits without the cost. So the problem for Monsanto is protecting its investment. In the brave new world of agriculture, it's Monsanto versus the farmer. Farmers buying Monsanto's seed must sign a contract promising to buy fresh seed every year. Then they must let Monsanto inspect their fields for cheating. Monsanto's regional director in western Canada is Randy Christenson. He says the company has got to be tough.

RANDY CHRISTENSON / MONSANTO, REG'L DIR., WESTERN CANADA:
We, of course, put like years, years and years of research and time into developing this technology and so for us to be able to recoup our investment, we have to be able to be paid for that.

OLIVER:
Percy Schmeiser says he's never used Monsanto's seed. He saves the seeds from his own crops, then replants them in the spring. But Monsanto investigators say they've found Monsanto DNA in Schmeiser's crops. Monsanto says Schmeiser never paid for the rights to use its DNA. Now they're suing Schmeiser for the money.

SCHMEISER:
It's very upsetting and nerve-wracking to have a multi-giant national corporation come after you. I don't have the resources to fight this.

OLIVER:
Monsanto first got a tip about Schmeiser on its toll-free snitch-line. Monsanto asks farmers to turn-in their neighbours if they suspect them of growing the seed without paying. Monsanto uses private investigators from this Saskatoon firm (Robinson Investigations Ltd.) to check out the tips. Investigators patrolling grid roads took crop samples from Schmeiser's fields to check for Monsanto's DNA. Monsanto doesn't apologize for playing hardball, but the Monsanto representative insists the whole process is very friendly. Monsanto calls its investigations "audits."

CHRISTENSON:
Yes, we do have a group that do audit – they do make farm visits, but they do it in a way that is extremely respectful to the farmers. And in fact I'd encourage you to talk to the farmers that have gone through it. And they're very comfortable with what we're doing. We never go on their property, never without their permission.

OLIVER:
But court documents show Monsanto ordered its investigators to trespass into Schmeiser's fields and collect samples. Then Monsanto agents paid a secret visit to the company which processes Schmeiser's seeds for planting. Gary Pappenfoot was the manager.

GARY PAPPENFOOT / MUSTARD, PETERSON, HUMBOLOT FLOUR MILLS:
We were approached by someone in Monsanto asking if Percy had some seed treated there. We said there was. They asked for a sample. I'd asked my superior in Saskatoon whether it was okay to give a sample. He said it was, so we did.

OLIVER:
Monsanto says Schmeiser has stolen its DNA. In fact, Monsanto has accused dozens of farmers of growing the special seed without paying for it. The problem is, nature has been moving DNA around for thousands of years; Monsanto's is just the latest.

SCHMEISER:
It'll blow in the wind. You can't control it. You can't just put say up a fence line and say that's where it stops; it might end up 20 miles, 10 miles.

OLIVER:
Schmeiser is backed up by some impressive research. Scientists from Agriculture Canada say wind can blow seeds or pollen between fields, meaning the DNA of crops in one field often mixes with another. Seeds or pollen can also be blown off uncovered trucks and off farm equipment. But Monsanto seems to be saying it's up to farmers to dig out any Monsanto crops blowing into their fields.

CHRISTENSON:
The question on pollen flow is not something that's new. And the tools that are available to the farmers – and the farmers know their property; they know their crops; they've been managing this same situation for as long as they've been farming.

OLIVER:
Without a microscope, there's no way to tell regular crops from crops carrying the Monsanto DNA. This means even the seed farmers keep from their own crops may contain Monsanto's altered gene.

UNIDENTIFIED:
Farmers should have some rights of their own.

OLIVER:
Last year, Edward Zilinski of Micado traded seeds with a farmer from Prince Albert. This is an old farming tradition. But the seeds Zilinski got in return had Monsanto's DNA. Now Monsanto says Zilinski and his wife owe them over $28,000 in penalties.

EDWARD ZILINSKI / FARMER:
I saw a plane come over along there.

OLIVER:
Monsanto's heavy-hand is sparking the anger of many farmers in western Canada. The Kram family in Raymore say planes and a helicopter buzzed their fields. The couple say agents dropped weed killer on their canola field to see if the crops had the Monsanto gene. Monsanto says they had absolutely nothing to do with it. The Krams think otherwise.

MRS. KRAM / FARMER:
We are thoroughly disgusted the way things are going. Who put the canola in? It is the farmer. It doesn't belong to Monsanto or anybody else. And I don't see anybody else's name on the titles of these, of all the land we own. It's my husband and myself. Nobody else. Thoroughly pissed off.

OLIVER:
For his part, Percy Schmeiser believes Monsanto hopes to force farmers into accepting genetically engineered products. Schmeiser is standing up to Monsanto in court.

SCHMEISER:
I'm going to fight and fight and fight, because what I believe is happening to farmers is wrong. And I'm fighting this not only for myself, but for my farmer friends, for my children and my grandchildren.

CHRISTENSON:
As you move to adopt new technology, whether it was going from the horse to the car, there was a great deal of controversy on how to deal with certain issues, questions being asked.

OLIVER:
But the real question is this: can Monsanto or anybody really control the work of nature? The answer could determine who controls the future of world farming. For the National Magazine, I'm Murray Oliver in Bruno, Saskatchewan.

GARTNER:
If you would like to know more about this story, check out the National's Web site. The address is: http://www.tv.cbc.ca/national

GARTNER:
Now don't go anywhere because when we come back, I would like to introduce you to a young man with a mission. Bernard Lord is only 33-years-old, but he just won New Brunswick's biggest job: premier.

BERNARD LORD / NEW BRUNSWICK PREMIER:
What's important is not my age, but my values and abilities.

(commercial Break)

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


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 15:11:31 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

What Has Our Food Become?

By Lisa Schmidt, The Regina Leader-Post (Canada)
Tuesday June 8, 1999, Page A1

Biotechnology could forever alter the food we put on our plates. So why is no one asking questions about the safety, ethics and efficacy of genetic modification technology, asks Winnipeg journalist and author Ingeborg Boyens.

In her book Unnatural Harvest: How Corporate Science is Secretly Altering our Food, Boyens takes issue with the way governments and corporations are readily embracing - and rushing forward with - genetically altered crops.

"The whole notion of crossing the species line of taking a gene from one species and putting it into another is truly unnatural, is something that she said in an interview Monday.

Yet science is pushing ahead - bringing herbicide-resistant canola, " bug proof" potatoes and tomatoes with longer shelf life into the marketplace, she said.

Noticeably absent is any ethical debate surrounding the issue, Boyens said.

"We've heard the industry essentially say 'Trust us. Don't worry about it. Don't worry about science.'"

But the 20-year veteran journalist was surprised at the lack of guidelines and ethical framework in the industry when she started digging into the issue for her job with the CBC television program Country Canada.

"I found that no one seemed to know about it outside of the agricultural areas and in the agricultural areas it seemed no one was asking any questions about it," she said. That especially holds true in Saskatchewan, where much of the country's research work is being done, Boyens said. The Saskatchewan government in particular has unashamedly promoted the biotechnology industry in the province, she said, and injected millions of dollars of public money to help to set up a world- renowned research centre in Saskatoon.

And yet the province's biotech spending is rarely challenged by the media or opposition politicians, she adds. While Boyens said she can't fault the province for trying to rebuild a shrinking agriculture economy, she does think "the Saskatchewan government should take a step back and be aware of the fact that this may not be entirely a good news story." "This is not something that is being developed by small Saskatchewan companies," she said. "It is developed by large transnationals that have set up branch plants and we don't really know what the risks will be in the long term."

For the corporations themselves, Boyens has even harsher criticism. She claims their drive for profits are "hijacking" research. Most Prairie farmers are familiar with herbicide-resistant canola, which makes weed control easier, but only if producers use the companion herbicide.

"Let's make no mistake about it, we've heard a lot about biotechnology feeding the world, but right now it's an industry dominated by a few key transnational players who are bringing forward products and technology to sell their own products," she said.

But while companies maintain the technology will help produce better yields, it comes at an additional cost, Boyens said. Producers who need it the most, such as those in developing countries, cannot afford such technology.

And there's no proof consumers want genetically modified products, she said.

"In Europe, they are absolutely panic-stricken by this stuff," she said, adding a consumer "revolt" has pushed foods containing genetically modified organisms off supermarket shelves. Canadian exports of transgenetic canola have been shut out of the European Union.

But North American consumers seem oblivious to what makes up the food served on their plates, said Boyens. "I think a lot of people assume the government regulators are out there taking care of us to ensure the food we eat - serve our families - is going to be healthful and safe." In fact, government cutbacks means less testing is being done, she said.

"We have essentially no legislation on novel foods. "We're seeing them introduced into the marketplace on a hope and a prayer."

Instead the federal government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on biotechnology research and promotion, Boyens points out. "We spend next to nothing on risk assessment. I would argue we should be putting a little more money to try to asses what the risks of this are," she said.

Boyens hopes it doesn't take a disaster like a massive crop failure before anyone starts asking questions.

"We've got long tradition here in the West of science and plant breeding, developing new crops and hybrids all really propelling agriculture forward so there's this assumption we're getting more of the same," she said.

"This is not more of the same."


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 15:11:31 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Scientists Take Flak Over Food Scares

By Alan Travis, Home Affairs Editor
The Guardian (London), June 8, 1999

The public's trust in scientists has been so shaken by repeated food safety and health scares that it has now fallen below that of police officers, according to the Guardian/ICM opinion poll published today.

The June survey shows that scientists no longer command the level of trust enjoyed by teachers and doctors because of issues such as animal cloning and genetically modified foods.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 15:11:31 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

From the President of The British Beekeepers Association

Implications of GM crop growth

By Alan Johnson, The Times (London) June 8, 1999

Sir,

The Prince of Wales is right to question the safety of genetically modified organisms (reports, June 2 and 3).

Cross-pollination is a very key question in the spread of genetically modified material. Insects carry out 80 per cent of all pollination and honeybees 80 per cent of that. Bees fly up to three miles to forage and don't necessarily forage on the nearest oil-seed rape. Cross-pollination will occur between oil-seed rape and charlock. Charlock will be cross-pollinated with other plants and weeds in the environment, so spreading genetically modified pollens. Where will it stop?

Before crops are grown commercially more trials are needed to convince the public that these foods are safe and that the environment is not going to be destroyed. This is obviously far too difficult for the Government, which appears to be being run by big business.

Sincerely,

Alan Johnson,
President, The British Beekeepers Association,
Grasmead, Dean, Bishop Waltham, Southampton SO32 1FY.
June 4.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 15:11:31 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Britain's food producers retreat from GE

By Charles Arthur and Jonathan Glennie, INDEPENDENT (London) June 10

Britain's food producers are in headlong retreat from the use of genetically modified (GM) soya in their products after a consumer backlash against the technology, The Independent has found.

Almost all the major producers have taken steps to eliminate GM soya and maize, or derivatives of them, from their products. The development will push up the producers' costs by as much as 10 per cent, and may mean that foods specifically incorporating GM elements will not appear on retailers' shelves in Britain for at least two years.

But Lord Haskins, chairman of Northern Foods, which is one of the biggest food companies, said yesterday that the reintroduction would not happen until consumers, and then retailers, seem eager for it. He added that in time there would be GM products available that offered a price or other advantage to shoppers and retailers.

Only a handful of companies are now using soya that is not specifically from non-GM sources. This marks an almost complete reversal of the position a year ago.

Yesterday Northern Foods announced formally that it was stopping using GM ingredients, a move revealed by The Independent last month. The decision is a blow to the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who has repeated backed GM technology, since Lord Haskins is considered to be among his favourite businessmen.

Lord Haskins said he was unimpressed by the pressure that producers have experienced from retailers. "I'm ashamed at the way the retailers have wobbled," he said. "They should have given their customers choice [through labelling]." But he told the BBC's Today programme that the company was bowing to buyer pressure. "I think it's clear that consumers don't want to buy GM food," he commented.

He added that there was no incentive to use GM materials at present: "There's no price attraction, there's no product attraction at the present time and in that sense one is forced to renounce genetically engineered produce."

A similar ambivalence has been expressed by the huge food group Nestle. The company announced in April that it was removing GM ingredients from its products, including its baby milk.


Top PreviousFront Page

Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 15:11:31 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Now we want to be a GM-free zone, say worried farmers

By Sean Poulter, Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Daily Mail, 9th June 1999

FARMERS are turning their backs on pleas by Frankenstein Food firms to use their land as a laboratory.

The number involved in trials of genetically modified crops has slumped from 309 last year to 147.

Details emerged a day after it was revealed that a key experiment in Wiltshire was abandoned after pressure from green campaigners.

Farmer and landowner Captain Fred Barker ordered workers to kill off his 25-a~re field of modified seed rape with a special chemical spray on the orders of trustees.

The figures for GM trials suggest that decision will not be the last of its type as fears grow about the safety and value of the technology and the independence of the trials, which are mainly financed by the biotech industry.

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


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

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