Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


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14 June 99

Table of Contents

Greens Call for Total GM Ban
Sir Paul's GM foods pledge
Brit food manufacturers turn backs on GM food -
Leading British Food Supplier Bins Engineered Produce
A Dangerous Attack On Organic Farming
Heartfelt fears of the whistleblower who spilled the beans over GM foods
Blair Wrong On Gm Food, Says Sir Paul
China Breeds New Cotton from Rabbit Genes
Supermarkets join forces on GM animal feed
Internet Links
rBGH and US feedlots
Poll shows most Manitobans want labels on genetically altered food
Tobacco with human genes to be field tested
Getting it wrong about food
Will the world starve itself to death?
Time to put genetically modified food under microscope
We vegetarians will stop eating soya, says McCartney

Top NextFront Page

Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 10:35:06 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-12

Greens Call for Total GM Ban

By Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby
BBC Thursday, June 10, 1999, Published at 07:20 GMT 08:20 UK

Goodbye to the battery egg, if the campaigners have their way

British agriculture must make profound changes, including a total ban on genetic engineering, says a report by two leading environmental campaigns.

The report, from Greenpeace and the Soil Association, says current government agricultural policy "embraces irresponsible short-term priorities and fails to respond to public needs".

It urges an end to modern "industrial" farming and in particular recommends:


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 10:35:06 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-12

Sir Paul's GM foods pledge

  • BBC Thursday, June 10, 1999 Published at 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK,

    Sir Paul answers questions at the GM press conference

    Pop legend Sir Paul McCartney has pledged to lead a campaign against genetically-modified foods and has spent 3m to ensure his late wife's vegetarian meals range is GM-free.


    Top PreviousNextFront Page

    Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 10:35:06 -0500
    From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-12

    Brit food manufacturers turn backs on GM food -

    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.


    Top PreviousNextFront Page

    Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 10:35:06 -0500
    From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-12

    Leading British Food Supplier Bins Engineered Produce

    Agence France Presse - LONDON, June 9

    Consumer power raised its head once again here Tuesday, inflicting another blow to proponents of genetically modified (GM) produce, when a major food supplier became the latest to bin engineered ingredients. Lord Haskins, chairman of Northern Foods and a close adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair, said that his company had been forced to withdraw GM ingredients in the face of protracted public outcry at "Frankenstein food". "I think it's clear that consumers don't want to buy GM food," he told the BBC.

    Indeed there's no reason why Northern Foods should do it, because 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, he added.


    Top PreviousNextFront Page

    Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 10:35:06 -0500
    From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-12

    A Dangerous Attack On Organic Farming

    Message from, Dr. Joe Cummins, Professor Emeritus of Genetics,
    University of Western Ontario, e-mail: jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

    Recently I observed a government hearing on genetic engineering in Dublin, Ireland. An Irish academic introduced an alarming argument against organic farming in favor of genetic engineering.

    The argument was that organic farming posed a far more significant hazard than genetically modified (GM) crops. The use of animal manure creates contamination of the crop with Escherichia coli 0157:H7 a bacterial strain that causes hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS frequently is fatal to children or older people that are exposed to it from poorly cooked meat, produce exposed to raw animal manure or food handlers who are careless.

    The academic "expert" who claimed organic agriculture spreads Ecoli 0157:H7 seemed to ignore the fact that organic standards require that manure be composted. Composting certainly eliminates any threat of E. coli 0157:H7 and HUS. Conventional farming that allows spraying raw animal manure and GM crops is far more likely to spread of E.coli 0157:H7 than is certified organic agriculture.

    The point worth making is that the false claim by an academic "expert" could create groundless fear of organic crops. Certainly, promoters of GM crops are frequently unscrupulous in their claims for the agriculture and their attacks on any alternatives to their fanatic promotion of GM agriculture. Organic agriculture must be prepared to refute false claims quickly even if they are published powerful news media or are erroneous conclusions of government commissions.


    Top PreviousNextFront Page

    Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 10:35:06 -0500
    From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-12

    Heartfelt fears of the whistleblower who spilled the beans over GM foods

    by Charles Clover and Aisling Irwin
    THE DAILY TELEGRAPH(LONDON), June 10, 1999,

    Dr Arpad Pusztai has been vilified for questioning the wisdom of gene modification. Charles Clover and Aisling Irwin hear his concern

    IS THE the whistleblower who claimed that public health was being compromised by the use of genetically modified food a victim of the establishment or charlatan? That is the question asked of Dr Arpad Pusztai, the scientist whose advice the Prince of Wales has sought on the safety of GM food. The furore started on Aug 12 last year after Dr Pusztai said in a BBC documentary that the public were being used as "guinea pigs" for the safety of GM food.

    Following those remarks, his employers, the Rowett Research Institute, immediately suspended him. His data was confiscated; the potatoes on which he had been carrying out tests were seized and his team of 18, which included his wife, Dr Susan Bardocz, and which he had spent 30 years building up, was disbanded.

    There then followed seven months during which Dr Pusztai was "gagged" or prevented from commenting on criticism by the Rowett under threat of forfeiting his pension.

    A day spent at his home in a suburb of Aberdeen provides ample evidence for the Prince's view that Dr Pusztai, 68, who has 276 scientific papers to his name and is still regarded as a world expert on lectins (poisonous substances produced by beans and bulbs), has been cruelly treated by the scientific establishment.

    Talking to Dr Pusztai is to be left with the impression that many of those who have sought to discredit his findings - from Jack Cunningham, the Cabinet Office Minister, to Sir Robert May, the Prime Minister's scientific adviser -have made mistakes of fact and have played down genuine, unanswered concerns about deficiencies in the testing of GM food.

    The door was opened by his wife, who is not allowed to talk to reporters, or be photographed, without the permission of the Rowett. But sitting on his sofa, Dr Pusztai allows himself to be gently drawn on his interview with the Prince, with whom he spent one hour and 35 minutes at the Prince's invitation last week. "It was a very thorough discussion. I never approached him myself. I don't like to approach people. When he offered - he said, after about an hour, 'how can I help?' - that was really tremendous."

    He is careful not to claim too much of the Prince's backing for his views. Referring to the fact that Prince Charles has also talked to Robert Shapiro, head of the GM company Monsanto, Dr Pusztai said: "It is very commendable that he listens to people who are taking up different positions."

    The scientist, who came to Britain after the Hungarian revolution failed, sees his treatment by politicians and his peers as a commentary on modern manners. He remains baffled by what he sees at the rudeness with which he has been treated, often by people who have never met him and who are not familiar with his work. He contrasts his treatment by the scientific world with that of one of his earlier mentors, Dr Fred Sanger, double Nobel prizewinner and a pioneer of the gene revolution, who "would never tell you what to do".

    He refers, with some satisfaction, to an editorial in the Lancet that accused a panel of the Royal Society, who acted without Dr Pusztai's permission, of "breathtaking impertinence" in writing off his research when it did not have access to all the data. He hopes to rectify that.

    What Dr Pusztai revealed last August was that tests on rats given GM and non-GM potatoes showed that some of the former had developed alarming ill-effects, including differences in organ size and damage to the immune system, which he ascribed to the process of genetic modification.

    The experiment, funded by the Scottish Office and won by the Rowett against 27 other tenders, was completed by July 23 last year. His findings, said Dr Pusztai, challenged the assertion that GM and non-GM foods were "substantially equivalent" and that therefore GM foods were as safe as conventional foodstuffs.

    So what were the most important things he felt he needed to get through to the Prince? "The most important thing to tell him was that these experiments have been conducted. That we have obtained factual information. "We had to tell the Prince that according to our studies we wouldn't have recommended these particular potatoes to be released for human or even animal consumption."

    The introduction of a whole new technology, he said, was being justified on the basis of a single scientific paper on the likely nutritional effect of genetic modification - compiled by a Monsanto scientist in 1996. When he started his project in 1995, there was no such evidence. He describes as offensive the celebrated remark delivered by Sir Robert May when criticising his work. Sir Robert memorably told Radio 4's Today programme: "If you mix cyanide with vermouth in a cocktail and find that it is not good for you, I don't draw sweeping conclusions that you should ban all mixed drinks."

    Dr Pusztai said that this missed the point: the lectin used in his experiments had been found to be safe for consumption on its own; it was when it was the gene was inserted into the potatoes that something appeared to happen that made it damage the rats that ate them.

    The technology was already being developed on the basis that the lectin was safe, even though his research appeared to show that the food genetically modified to contain it was not.

    Dr Pusztai said: "I think that is crass stupidity on Sir Robert's part. We spent six years, and published our findings, selecting out a lectin which even at a thousandfold concentration in the diet had no harmful effect on the rat. He must know this. He must have been told about this."

    It was because of this previous research that Axis Genetics, a biotech company, went ahead with the commercialisation of the GNA gene - taken from snowdrops - which they believed could produce a new strain of insecticidal plants. The company sold the technology last year but GNA rice, GNA celery, GNA cabbage, and GNA strawberries are still under development in laboratories around the world.

    "Can you really imagine that a biotechnology company would spend millions of pounds on something which they are not certain is not a toxin," he said. "If we are using a stupid thing then half the world's population will eat a stupid thing in a few years time.

    "I wrote to Sir Robert asking him to withdraw his garbage. He never even replied. He has never asked for my opinion or asked me to explain my research." The only misdemeanour Dr Pusztai will admit to, in the eyes of the scientific world, is going public before his research had been published - and therefore peer reviewed.

    "I voiced my concern on World in Action. That was my misdemeanour. I broke the code. I knew what the companies were doing and what we were doing and I knew that there was a huge gap between the two. It would have taken the minimum of a year to publish it. Meanwhile, the stuff is on the shelves." As he recounts in often difficult scientific jargon the story of the past 10 months, something of the frustration and powerlessness that have already led him to suffer one heart attack hangs in the air.

    One of many red herrings that Dr Pusztai quietly dismisses are suggestions by Prof Philip James, the then director of the Rowett, that the experiments involved potatoes genetically modified to contain ConA, a jackbean lectin already known to be poisonous.

    This, he says, was a mistake that Prof James made without consulting him and was forced to retract a few days later but caused endless confusion in the scientific world. He said that for two days last August the Rowett was pleased with all the publicity. It discussed a press release at 3.00 one afternoon and all seemed well. Then he was called in by Prof James the following morning and suspended; the research he was contracted to finish by this April was stopped.

    What had happened? "That was the $64,000 question." Select committees have investigated but no one has really explained what went on in the mind of Prof James. He himself has denied he was subjected to influential phone calls from Downing Street.

    The effect on Dr Pusztai, though, had been profound. "I grew up under the Nazis in Hungary and we had the Soviet system inflicted on us. People born in this country are here as a accident of biology. I made an active choice. I had a Ford Foundation scholarship, you see. I thought this was a very civilised society which tolerated minorities. That was in the 1950s.

    "Yet for first time in my life I was deprived of my right of self-defence. My restrictive contract prevented me saying the things necessary to defend myself."

    What effect did his story have on the Prince? "He said I had been treated cruelly and deserved an apology. "He said he is not a scientist but he said he has no reason to suspect we are telling him something we do not believe in."

    Dr Pusztai's agenda now is to step up research into the health effects of GM food. For this he wants pounds 1 million in research money, space in an institute, and the release of his potatoes. He hopes the prominence the visit to the Prince has given him might open doors.

    At the heart of the theoretical arguments about whether it is foolish to have health concerns over the eating of GM foods lies a key issue: Does the DNA that permeates every cell of the food we eat get broken down into ordinary bits of innocuous fundamental protein in the gut? Or can gut cells take it up and incorporate it into their own DNA where it can send out dangerous instructions?

    If they can do the latter - something regarded as a ridiculous idea by many scientists - then it can be argued that some of the pieces of foreign DNA, the ones that act as switches to turn genes on and off - could cause trouble in cells. They could switch inappropriate genes on, causing unwanted growth and perhaps tumours.

    If so the Pusztais, and their team, would have to be numbered among the great whistleblowers of the 20th century.


    Top PreviousNextFront Page

    Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 10:35:06 -0500
    From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-12

    Blair Wrong On Gm Food, Says Sir Paul

    By Jackie Brown, PA News , 06/10 1512

    Tony Blair is wrong to support genetically modified food, Sir Paul McCartney said today, as he announced he is spending 3 million ensuring the vegetarian meal range created by his late wife was completely GM-free.


    Top PreviousNextFront Page

    Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 10:35:06 -0500
    From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-12

    China Breeds New Cotton from Rabbit Genes

    BEIJING, June 10 (Reuters)

    Chinese genetic engineers have bred a new strain of cotton that combines the qualities of ordinary cotton and rabbit fur, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday. It said the plant looked much the same as ordinary cotton, but the fibre was as "bright and as soft as rabbit hair."

    A test by the China Textile University and the Ministry of Agriculture's Cotton Quality Inspection Centre found the new fibre to be stronger, warmer and 60 percent longer than ordinary fibre, it said. The agency quoted researchers at the Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology as saying the new strain, produced by using rabbit keratin genes, could account for up to 10 percent of China's cotton output "in the near future."

    ** 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: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 05:53:47 -0500
    From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-13

    next article posted by MichaelP papadop@peak.org

    Supermarkets join forces on GM animal feed

    By Marie Woolf, SUNDAY INDEPENDENT (London) June 13

    Britain's supermarkets are planning to take from their shelves meat from animals fed on GM crops because of consumer concerns about possible health risks.

    The move by a consortium including Sainsbury, Safeway, Marks & Spencer, Northern Foods, Nestle and Unilever, will come as a huge blow to the GM industry.

    Earlier this year, Sainsbury became the latest in a string of British supermarkets, including M&S and Iceland, to remove all GM ingredients from its own-brand range of foods.

    Now the supermarket giant has teamed up with food producers to ask the world's biggest grain producers to grow them GM-free crops for poultry, cattle and pig feed.

    A letter from Sainsbury's head of food safety to a genetic testing laboratory in the United States, which the Independent on Sunday has obtained, shows that the company is actively pursuing a route to GM-free meat.

    The move follows rising fears about the development of antibiotic resistance from GM food which could arise from feeding GM crops to animals.

    Scientists have warned that GM crops containing an antibiotic resistance marker gene could harm our ability to fight fatal diseases such as meningitis, typhoid and Aids-related illnesses with penicillin.


    Top PreviousNextFront Page

    Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 05:53:47 -0500
    From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-13

    Internet Links

    Professor Pusztai's own views and information on the ongoing Rowett Research Institute GM potato controversy are now available on the web via the Millenium Debate web site home page at http://www.millennium-debate.org

    The new website of Greenpeace International's Genetic Engineering Campaign is

    http://www.greenpeace.org/~geneng


    Top PreviousNextFront Page

    Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 05:53:47 -0500
    From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-13

    note: Canada also allows the use of most of the hormones for cows discussed below, though it does not allow the used of genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH)

    next article posted by jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty)

    rBGH and US feedlots

    Daily Mail (UK) June 12, 1999
    © Copyright 1999, _____via IntellX_____

    Sections:
    This is the Real Mad Cow Disease
    A testing ground for cattle farming
    "You get paid by the pound"
    EU bans US beef
    The fortnightly injection of BST
    The statistics are indeed terrifying.
    Why the U.S. does not want hormonal beef to be labelled
    US the only Western nation to allow feeding raw manure
    Today they routinely use six types of pharmaceuticals.
    Nobody could be sure how safe hormonal beef is
    High residues of hormones in American beef.
    EU to reinforce its decision to ban U.S. beef
    Sevenfold increase in breast cancer

    This is the Real Mad Cow Disease

    BSE led to the vilification and ruin of Britain's beef farmers. But what they did pales beside the horrors of American farmers' pursuit of profit

    A testing ground for cattle farming

    AMID the heat and dirt of a cattle ranch in the far north of Montana last week a grotesque and painful struggle was taking place. This remote region, a place of tough, pragmatic people, has become a testing ground for cattle farming methods which are so brutal they shock even the beef barons of America's Mid West.

    On this particular ranch, thousands of cattle had been corralled into a series of steel pens, called feedlots, around 200 to each.

    There was no shade, no shelter and no grass on the ground, only dust. On one side of each feedlot was a trough containing herbicide- soaked grain.

    All of the cattle were enormous the result of the grain diet and a series of steroid hormone implants inserted under the skin behind their ears. At least one of the hormones is feared to cause cancer in humans.

    Because the cattle were carrying so much weight, and because their digestive systems are designed for grass not grain, some of the cattle's internal organs had fallen out. And because it would be too expensive to call a vet out to treat these problems a couple of sweating, panting farm hands in cowboy hats were going from cow to cow prising their organs back inside and stitching up the cows.

    "You get paid by the pound"

    As Howard Lyman, a rancher, explains: 'You get paid by the pound, after all. And cattle don't win any prizes for keeping their figures.

    'I spent countless hours stuffing 25lb of cow back inside the animal and then sewing the wound, the whole force of a 600lb heifer straining against me.' Already this year Europe and the United States have gone to the brink of an all-out trade war over bananas and crossed swords over the issue of the labelling of GM foods. Now the new battleground is hormones in beef.

    EU bans US beef

    Next Tuesday the European Union will impose a new ban on all imports of American beef, believing that even stocks labelled steroid-free are frequently full of hormones.

    The Americans plan to retaliate by imposing GBP 125million-worth of import duties on European products as diverse as pears, chewing gum and motorcycles.

    As the trans-Atlantic dispute threatens to degenerate into all-out trade war, the Daily Mail has investigated the many bizarre and potentially dangerous ways in which American farmers are fooling around with nature.

    WHAT we discovered will make any British consumer think twice before they bite into another American steak or burger.

    The fortnightly injection of BST

    At roughly the same time that the two Montana cowboys were going about their unedifying task, a herd of dairy cows 900 miles to the east in Cedar Falls, Iowa, was undergoing its fortnightly injection of a genetically-engineered growth hormone called bovine somatotropin (BST). Some research claims the hormone has been blamed for wiping out almost 20pc of some herds. The cows' immune systems become impaired, increasing their vulnerability to severe bladder and udder infections.

    It is also claimed that BST also weakens their skeletons by draining calcium from their bones. Many cows which survive are unable to stand because their bones are too weak.

    BST, which manufacturer [ Monsanto ] insists is safe, is another drug that has been linked to cancer in humans.

    However, it boosts milk production by up to a quarter. And when the cows have been pushed to the limits of their endurance, the farm hands follow up the hormone jabs with large doses of antibiotics to try to ward off infection.

    The statistics are indeed terrifying.

    At least one in six farmers injects his cows with genetically engineered growth hormone.

    Around 90pc of the 29 billion lb of beef consumed by Americans each year comes from cattle which have been fattened by hormone implants.

    For pork, the figure is almost 100 pc.

    'There are some really terrifying things happening in the American food industry, ' says Ronnie Cummins, director of the country's Pure Food Campaign.

    'But there has been very little research carried out here into the effects of hormones and even less reporting on television or in newspapers.

    Why the U.S. does not want hormonal beef to be labelled

    'One reason why the U.S. does not want hormonal beef to be labelled as such if it goes on sale in European supermarkets is that people over there wouldn't buy it. But the second is that people here would start asking: "Well, why don't we have the same labels?"

    And they really can't afford for that to happen.' The American meat industry today is a far cry from the Wild West days when cattle were allowed to roam free on the range.

    Calves are allowed to run with their mothers for six to 11 months and then herded into feedlots.

    There are now 42,000 feedlot ranches in the major cattle-growing states and around half the country's 100million cattle are confined within them.

    US the only Western nation to allow feeding raw manure

    Some farmers using feedlots have begun research trials adding cardboard, newspaper and sawdust to the feeding programmes to reduce costs. Other factory farms add manure from the chicken houses and pigpens, making the United States the only Western nation where it is legal to feed raw manure to cattle.

    Farmers are even reported to have experimented with cement dust, which is said to have produced a 30pc faster weight gain.

    Furthermore, American farmers have been merrily feeding a panoply of pharmaceuticals to their cattle since the Fifties.

    Today they routinely use six types of pharmaceuticals.

    Three are 'natural' sex hormones: testosterone, progesterone and oestradiol-17 beta. Three are synthetic sex hormones: trembolone acetate, zeranol and melengestrol acetate. Like the steroids used by a bodybuilder, these substances increase both muscle and fat growth, making each cow heavier and increasing its value by around GBP 50. They also make the animals grow faster, so the farmer can take them to market far more quickly.

    American farmers' associations insist these substances are safe, because they occur naturally in cattle. They also say the testosterone simply replaces that which is lost when their bulls are castrated to prevent them attacking each other in the feedlots.

    THE use of hormones was banned in Europe in 1988 because EEC officials feared farmers could not be trusted to use them in low doses. As if to illustrate how well-founded those fears are, one test on slaughtered cattle in the U.S. showed that almost half had been illegally treated, with implants having been inserted not into their ears but into their muscles, where the hormone is even more effective - and potentially even more dangerous to anyone eating the flesh.

    Nobody could be sure how safe hormonal beef is

    The main criticism of hormonal beef in Europe, however, was that nobody could be sure how safe it was until more research was carried out. There is a particular fear that the consumption of meat treated with large doses of hormones could be harmful to prepubescent children.

    The mighty American beef lobby, denied access to such a significant market by the 1988 ban, denounced it as 'protectionism' and a 'clear restraint of trade' and persuaded the Clinton administration to lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

    Arguing that there was no evidence that hormonal beef could be harmful, the WTO ordered the European Union to lift its ban.

    High residues of hormones in American beef.

    In fact, the alarm had already been sounded by scientists at the University of Illinois Medical Centre in Chicago. In a deeply- disturbing report, the school's professor of environmental and occupational medicine, Samuel Epstein, warned last year that confidential farming industry reports to the American Food and Drug Administration revealed high residues of hormones in American beef.

    According to some estimates, an eight-year-old boy who ate two hamburgers made from this meat would, following the meal, have increased his levels of the female sex hormone by 10pc. According to Dr Epstein, lifelong exposure to high residues of natural and synthetic sex hormones in meat poses serious risk of breast and reproductive cancers, which have increased sharply in the U.S. since 1950.

    Hormone residues are also suspected to be causal factors in premature sexual development in young girls.

    UNTIL recently Dr Epstein found himself to be something of a voice in the wilderness. But then, last week, the EU's Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures published the results of its own long-awaited study on the use of hormones.

    The committee's 139-page report concluded that at least one, called oestradiol, is a 'complete carcinogen', because it can trigger tumours and promote their growth. The committee also called for further studies on the other five hormones.

    It is little surprise, therefore, that the deadline set by the WTO for the European beef ban to be lifted came and went last month and a WTO arbitration panel is now deciding what sanctions the U.S. can impose upon Europe in retaliation.

    EU to reinforce its decision to ban U.S. beef

    To reinforce its decision to ban U.S. beef, the EU published the results of tests on the small amount of supposedly hormone-free U.S. beef which is allowed in.

    When it discovered traces of hormones in 12 pc - including one substance which is illegal in the U.S. - it announced a ban on all American beef.

    And it will not end there. Another, equally bloody, trade dispute is looming over Europe's ban on the genetically engineered growth hormone BST.

    The main manufacturer of BST is Monsanto, the American bioengineering giant behind some of the most disturbing developments in GM food.

    Monsanto is adamant that its BST is perfectly safe but milk produced by cows injected with the substance contains higher levels of growth hormone IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor One). This hormone is also a suspected carcinogen.

    Sevenfold increase in breast cancer

    ONE study found a sevenfold increase in breast cancer among pre- menopausal women who had high levels of IGF-1 in their bodies, while a similar study discovered a fourfold increase in prostate cancer among men with high levels of the hormone.

    In addition, many cows which are treated with BST develop udder infections and there are fears that the antibiotics used to treat them could encourage the growth of antibiotic-resistant microbes which infect humans.

    BST has been dogged by controversy from its earliest days, when it was revealed that the U.S. Food And Drug Administration official who drew up labelling guidelines which prevented dairies from advertising their products as BST-free once worked for the GM food giant.

    Monsanto has twice successfully sued American farmers who used BST-free labels on their products.

    The EU ban on BST was initially imposed for just five years and is due to expire next year. Monsanto, which invested a reported GBP 600 million developing the drug, has been aggressively marketing it around the world ever since and is certain to urge the U.S. government to complain to the WTO if the European ban is extended.

    The American GM food industry was taken by surprise by the ferocious reaction of British consumers to plans to sell their products, unlabelled, in British supermarkets and now the beef industry is girding itself for a similar battle.

    But leaders of both industries are convinced it is only a matter of time before Brussels buckles under the pressure of sanctions and bans on imports of European products.

    'There is no going back,' says Marshall Martin, an agricultural economist at Indiana's Purdue University.

    He points out that it is impossible to eat a slice of pizza in the United States today without consuming two or three different GM foodstuffs - and he is convinced it cannot be long before Europeans are doing the same.

    'In a sense we pulled the cork out of the bottle with the discovery of DNA,' he says. 'And the genie can't be put back in.'

    ** 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: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 14:57:43 -0500
    From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-14

    Poll shows most Manitobans want labels on genetically altered food

    By Kim Guttormson Staff Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press, Fri Jun.11,1999

    NINETY-TWO PER cent of Manitobans believe genetically altered food should be labelled. And 77 per cent believe that the modified food is either unsafe, or they aren't sure.

    The results of a recent Prairie Research Associates poll don't surprise Pat Mooney, executive director of the Rural Advancement Foundation International. said Mooney, who has been involved in debate about so-called Franken-foods for years.

    "You'll see (the debate) increase over the next several months. Unfortunately it's been a monologue from industry. Now it will be a little cacophonic. It will be loud, confused, a certain amount of mudslinging.


    Top PreviousNextFront Page

    Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 14:57:43 -0500
    From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-14

    No one knows what the long-term effects might be from the following research of course ...

    Tobacco with human genes to be field tested

    By John Miner, The Canadian Press

    'This is historic': Could create cheap anti-inflammatory drugs, scientists say

    LONDON, Ont. - Tobacco plants with human genes are expected to be transplanted to a federal test plot in a project scientists are calling a first-ever field test of such organisms.

    "This is historic," said Anthony Jevnikar, director of transplantation research at the London Health Sciences Centre.

    Scientists hope the genetically-engineered tobacco plants, now growing in a greenhouse at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's research station in nearby Delhi, will be a breakthrough in producing more affordable medication.

    The tobacco plants contain the human gene that produces a protein called interleukin-10. Scientists believe interleukin-10 works as an anti-inflammatory and, if taken orally, could be an effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disorders such as Crohn's disease, Dr. Jevnikar said.


    Top PreviousNextFront Page

    Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 14:57:43 -0500
    From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-14

    Thanks to Brad Duplisea for posting the next 2 articles

    Getting it wrong about food

    By George Monbiot, The Guardian Weekly Volume 160 Issue 24
    Week ending June 13, 1999 - Page 27

    MONSANTO'S advertising agency warned the company not to argue that genetic engineering would feed the world. But the temptation proved too great. "Worrying about starving future generations", its adverts claimed last year, "won't feed them. Food biotechnology will." It's hard to see how even a corporation with Monsanto's self-belief could have imagined that this claim would stand up.

    For the corporation had already made its position quite clear. "What you are seeing", one of its executives explained in 1997, as his company bought up scores of seed merchants and biotech firms, "is a consolidation of the entire food chain."

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


    Top PreviousNextFront Page

    Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 14:57:43 -0500
    From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-14

    Will the world starve itself to death?

    By Tim Radford, The Guardian Weekly Volume 160 Issue 24
    Week ending June 13, 1999 - Page 27

    Biotechnology is being hailed as the answer to world hunger. Guardian writers do some sums and revisit the arguments

    A BRITISH science watchdog, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, believes there is a "moral imperative" to develop genetically modified crops – higher-yielding, more nourishing, more resistant to disease – to feed the extra 170 people who enter the world every minute.

    Never mind the council's hotly contested solution, just consider the problem. There are three needs for a harvest: acreage, fertile topsoil – that magic mix of decayed vegetation, rock dust and micro-organisms formed at the rate of 3cm a century – and fresh water. The consensus is that it takes 0.5 hectares (1.25 acres) to provide a sufficient and varied diet for an adult human. Right now, the world average per person is just over a quarter of a hectare.

    For a while during the so-called Green Revolution food production outpaced population. Yields per hectare grew, and the areas under cultivation increased. But the area of harvested cropland reached its peak in 1981, and has been falling ever since: for two reasons. One is that with more people, there is more demand for somewhere to live, which consumes farmland. The other is that farmland is being destroyed by being overworked. The area of grain cropland per person on the planet has shrunk to a sixth of a football field.

    The minimum grain diet to keep a vegetarian supplied with bread, rice or cornmeal porridge for a year is 490kg. How much grain you can grow on a sixth of a football field depends on sunlight, soil and water. The depth of topsoil is critical. The latest estimate, from David Pimentel of Cornell university, New York state, is that farmers are losing 24 billion tonnes of topsoil every year to wind and water erosion. At this rate one-third of the world's arable land will be depleted within 20 years.

    Farmers have already abandoned an area equivalent to one-third of the present harvest lands since 1960. Every year they walk off 10 million hectares of once productive land. But every year 5 million hectares of new land have to be found to feed the 90 million or so new mouths. Most of the world's unfarmed land is either too wet, too dry, too steep or too cold for agriculture, which is why tropical and temperate forests are being cleared at a devastating rate.

    The word devastating is appropriate: the forests are home to millions of as-yet undescribed and unnamed species, many of which could provide tomorrow's foods and drugs, and many of which will soon be extinct. But even as humans colonise new land, they need new homes, new roads and sewers, new landfill sites for rubbish, new pipelines for fuel, new quarries for cement and clay and minerals.

    According to Roger Hooke of the University of Maine, rivers wash 24billion tonnes of silt into the sea each year, but humans now shift 35billion tonnes of soil just to make roads, build houses and mine ores. So even as the demand for farmland grows, the space available for farms is consumed by, or mortgaged to, cities.

    Rich cities have a bigger "ecological footprint" than poor ones. It adds up to a need to get more and more food out of less and less farmland. The Green Revolution was achieved by new rice, wheat and maize hybrids, watered by newly engineered irrigation systems, fed by artificial fertilisers, protected by pesticides and tilled by oil-burning machines. Although yields are still high, there has been no increase in record yields for 20 years, and grain output per person is falling.

    Oil demand will outstrip supply in about 2020, says John Edwards, once chief geologist with Shell Oil. And the world's phosphate supplies could run out in 2050. Yet, far more ominously, there are already problems of water. Cities and heavy industry are consuming more water than ever. Gretchen Daily of Stanford university, California, calculates that humans use a quarter of all the rain that falls and half of all the accessible surface fresh water.

    About 17 countries currently face "absolute" water scarcity. New dams could provide another 10 per cent of supplies over the next 30 years, but by then the population will have grown by 45 per cent. That is why the Nuffield Council urged the British government to race ahead with research on new drought-tolerant, salt-tolerant, pest-resistant, protein-rich crops.

    Prince Charles riposted in a newspaper article, calling this argument "emotional blackmail". The charity Christian Aid condemned it, arguing that today's hungry are surrounded by plenty, and that fairer distribution was a more urgent problem. The Worldwatch Institute in Washington recently calculated that if people in the United States simply wasted one-third less food each day, it would be enough to feed 25 million people, roughly the population of North Korea, currently in the grip of famine.

    Two hundred years ago Thomas Malthus wrote: "The power of population is so superior to the power in the earth to produce subsistence for Man that premature death must in some shape or form visit the human race." Five years ago David Pimentel of Cornell university pointed out: "Based on past experience, we expect that leaders will continue to postpone decisions on the human carrying capacity of the world until the situation becomes intolerable or, worse, irreversible."


    Top PreviousNextFront Page

    Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 14:57:43 -0500
    From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-14

    Time to put genetically modified food under microscope

    BY Rafe Mair, The Province Vancouver, Canada, June 11, 1999 page A32

    Crazy old Prince Charles – he's off on another "green" kick. I mean, what sort of a King will this cat make – first he's on about saving Paternoster Square, the area that surrounds St. Paul's Cathedral, from the benefits of modern land development and now he claims that genetically modified foods (GM) may not be all they're cracked up to be. Well, folks, I'm with Charlie.

    Genetically modified foods have foreign genes injected into them. It's quite common that genes from animals will be mixed in with vegetables so as to enhance that vegetable – perhaps to make it grow bigger, or faster or look better.

    It's all the rage these days and as HRH points out, GM will soon be out of control since farmers adjacent to genetically modified food farms will be unable to prevent winds and bees from cross-pollinating with their traditional crops.

    This is all wonderful stuff according to the scientific community – mostly Monsanto Chemicals, which is profiting enormously – and Charles is vilified as a meddler and laughed at as a fool. Why, GM will end world hunger! It will help us make do with ever decreasing agricultural land.

    Maybe. Though Third World leaders point out that there's not so much a shortage of food in their lands as a lack of means by which to deliver it. Moreover, they say, if GM becomes the norm, agriculture will quickly become the private preserve of the large landowner, presumably funded by Monsanto.

    I'm not a scientist but a sometime lawyer. And I have some questions relating to safety. For if GM isn't safe, surely all the claims made for it are in the ashcan.

    The scientists claim that GM has been thoroughly tested and approved by governments all over the world. Sounds nice until you realize that far from being independent, these tests were conducted by the industry which profits immensely from favourable results – mainly Monsanto which has given the world Aspartame, or Nutrasweet, a chemical which is now widely criticized by the medical community and is seen, among other things, to radically increase blood sugar readings in diabetics. (I'm diabetic, it does, and it's approved by the Canadian Diabetes Association which gets huge grants from Monsanto.)

    But let us, as the ultimate jury, examine similar claims of great virtue made by the scientific community in the past.

    After the war we had DDT and I well remember pictures of scientists in white frocks pointing at charts as they told us of the enormous benefits of this chemical. It killed all the bad things we were told – and it did. Along with all the good things too.

    For decades the scientific community backed smoking – or at least tacitly approved it – and to this day the tobacco companies employ multi-degreed scientists to deny its adverse effects.

    Science gave women thalidomide, used as a sedative, with devastating results for which the companies involved paid peanuts in compensation. On the drawing board and in the mice cages it was perfectly safe, you see.

    Then science – which has picked on women dreadfully – gave them the IUD birth-control device, which had catastrophic results resulting in a huge class action. But of course it was scientifically safe because the company scientists said so.

    This was followed by breast implants, which have wrecked thousands of lives. But of course these were safe – the company scientists and the plastic surgeons who make up to $5,000 an operation all said they were safe.

    Well, then, what about the fact that the U.S. and Canada have approved GM? Doesn't that prove that this method of mass producing agricultural products is wonderful?

    It might if either of these two governments had done so much as five minutes testing on their own, but they haven't. They rely entirely on the research done by Monsanto which stands to make billions upon billions out of government approvals.

    But aren't company scientists still scientists? Perhaps. But where is the great scientific virtue of skepticism when it's your job is to make your corporation – and yourself – lots of money which only comes with positive results?

    In order to be sure about GM, it must be tested on humans. That test is now being done – with you and me the guinea pigs.

    But, of course, what's to worry about knowing that Monsanto's in-house scientists have pronounced the method safe as DDT? Or cigarettes? Or thalidomide? Or IUD? Or breast implants?


    Top PreviousFront Page

    Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 14:57:43 -0500
    From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-14

    We vegetarians will stop eating soya, says McCartney

    From National Post (Canada), Friday, June 11, 1999 p. B11

    LONDON - Sir Paul McCartney stepped up his campaign against genetically modified (GM) food yesterday by announcing that all soya had been removed from the vegetarian ready-meals made by his late wife's company. As part of a (ps)3-million ($7.5-million) refit, Linda McCartney Foods was also putting its stamp on the anti-GM debate with new packaging bearing the GE-free label , he said. Before we start messing around with nature, I think we've really got to I hope it's not too

    ** 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 (USD for those outside Canada) for 12 months, payable to "BanGEF" and mailed to the above address. Or see website for details.