26 June 99

Table of Contents

The G8 Summit - US stops safe food moves
Contested Patent Raises Issues
Transgenic Corn Causes Huge Crop Losses: ...
Food Scientist Won't Be Silenced
More internet websites
France to Ask EU to Halt Approvals on Genetically Modified Organisms
EU Ministers work out "de facto moratorium"
US FDA Ignored Their Own GMO Safety Warning
Japan tightens rules on GM crops to protect the environment
New Study Links Monsanto's Roundup to Cancer
Brazil bans GM soya
Guelph Prof Dubious Of Genetically Altered Seed
Alterations in Clinically Important Phytoestrogens in Genetically Modified, Herbicide-Tolerant Soybeans
EU: Tougher Controls on Genetically-modified Organisms
WTO: U.S., Canada Lodge Complaints Over Rapid Rise in Genetic Labeling Measures
Genetically Altered Food Making Headway
Genetically Modified Organisms - Press briefing
Rockefeller Foundation Asks Monsanto to Drop Gene

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Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 06:48:00 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-21

The G8 Summit - US stops safe food moves

By Rupert Cornwell, INDEPENDENT (London) June 21

Fearful it could be a guise for protectionism, the US and Canada have blocked a French initiative to set up a global food safety council to set international standards and regulate the sales of genetically modified foods.

The idea was put forward last week by Jacques Chirac, the French president, in a meeting with the US President, Bill Clinton. But Washington did not hide its opposition, arguing that it should be left to the World Trade Organisation, and that, in any case, America was well protected by its Food and Drug Administration (FDA). "If Europe's worried, they can just sign up to the FDA," one US official said.

Instead the G8 heads of government at their summit here merely pushed the topic off to two working groups at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with instructions to report back to next year's summit in Okinawa, Japan - by which time, the US hopes, the issue will have faded from the headlines.

The food safety argument drew a clear line between the European G8 countries, rocked in recent years by a string of controversies from mad cow disease to GM foods and now dioxin-contaminated chickens from Belgium, and the others, notably Canada and the US.

Underlying the issue, too, are massive commercial interests. America's GM food industry is worth $4bn a year and arouses little public debate - unlike in Britain, for instance, where it is regarded with suspicion and often hostility.

"The world needs a strong initiative," Mr Chirac said yesterday, reluctantly accepting second best. "But as soon as you start talking about monitoring technological developments, the US and Canada automatically think it means a return to protectionism. That's wrong."

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Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 06:48:00 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-21

Contested Patent Raises Issues

By PAUL RECER, AP Science Writer, WASHINGTON (AP) 18.06.99

An application rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and destined to end up in the courts may force the federal government to address a perplexing question: What is a human being?

The patent application sought to claim rights to all laboratory processes involving the combined use of human and animal cells and was rejected by the patent office because it "embraces human beings." Jeremy Rifkin, co-applicant for the patent and a well-known biotechnology activist, said the PTO failed to define how many human cells or genes there must be in a laboratory human-animal experiment for the hybrid to be considered human.

"This is territory that has not been chartered and we think it is time for them to look at this and give us a definition," said Rifkin, a well-known opponent of many types of genetic research. "We want to force the government to draw a line in the sand" that would limit human-animal research, he said.

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Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 06:48:00 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-21

Transgenic Corn Causes Huge Crop Losses: ...

OTC 18.06.99 03:30

MANILA, Jun 18, 1999 (Asia Pulse via COMTEX) – The planned introduction into the market of a genetically engineered corn in the country could cause huge crop losses.

According to the Mga Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Ikauunlad ng Agham Pang-Agrikultura (MASIPAG), once the Bt-corn commercially planted on open fields it can cross pollinate indigenous varieties or their weedy relatives resulting to more weed problems, thus create more resistant pests. Bt-corn contains a gene from the soil bacterium "Bacillus thuringiensis", coding for a Bt-toxin.

The transgenic corn produces its own insecticide to fight corn borer. Still in its infancy, this so-called "scientific wonder" still has to answer mounting queries on its safety and efficacy. The group added that Bt-corn can also exert toxicity among non-target pests or friendly insects.

Louie Amongo of MASIPAG explained that Bt toxin, which was introduced in the plant can persist, accumulate andremain as insecticide in soil.

As the toxin binds with humic acids or it is absorbed in clay particles, it is rendered inactive and unavailable for degradation by the microbes. As the toxin is concentrated by more Bt toxin crop residues, it can constitute hazard to non-target organisms and enhance the selection of toxin-resistant target species, he stressed.

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Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 06:48:00 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-21

Food Scientist Won't Be Silenced

Eastern Daily Press (EDP), Tuesday 22nd June 1998

Whistleblower Arpad Pusztai was sacked for claiming GM foods posed a health risk.

His data was confiscated. The potatoes used in his experiments were seized. And the 18-strong team of scientists he had spent 30 years assembling was disbanded.

But while the scientific community has pulled out all the stops to consign him to the wilderness, Dr Pusztai is not giving up without a fight. Chris Bishop reports.

They've sacked him. They've rubbished him. And he claims they even told him they'd take his pension away if he replied to their attacks.

Yet Dr Arpad Pusztai may still triumph against a scientific community which is trying its hardest to keep him out of the GM food debate. We might all have reason to be grateful if he does.

Last August, the 68-year-old Hungarian nutritionist went public over his fears concerning the safety of modified crops.

He told a TV documentary that rats fed GM potatoes had suffered damage to vital organs and said he would not eat modified foods himself until more research had been carried out.

His employers, Scotland's Rowett Research Institute, sacked him. Then the scientific elite of the Royal Society attacked him for going public before his findings had been reviewed by his peers.

"For the first few days the Rowett hailed my discovery as a great event that brought glory to the institute," he said last night.

"I don't know why there was such a sudden and unexpected reversal.

"Commercial or political pressure or both, who knows."

Either way one minute he was a respected nutritionist, with nearly 280 scientific papers to his name. The next he was a voice in the wilderness.

The Royal Society went public with a highly-critical review of Dr Pusztai's work.

Yet the esteemed scientific journal The Lancet later revealed they did not have access to all of Pusztai's evidence.

In an editorial, the magazine said those who wrote his findings off acted with "breathtaking impertinence".

Worse still many who attacked Pusztai did not even bother getting their facts straight first.

"The hostility was mainly from politicians and the scientific administrators on the various committees an regulatory authorities, but not from practising scientists," he said.

"I had quite a few who said that my work was OK within its limitations and could have served as a basis for further development."

So was Pusztai onto something? Did his research provide the first hint of the long-term harm that some of us could suffer as a result of eating GM foods?

The science involved is beyond the reach of most of us. But for reasons that are not yet clear, potatoes damaged rats' immune systems and organs when a normally safe gene is inserted into them.

Does the DNA contained in every cell of every plant food we eat break down as it travels through our systems. Or could our gut cells absorb it and pass on the genetic messages it contains.

Some scientists dismiss the idea as ridiculous. But then again, Dr Pusztai claims that the safety of those GM foods already on our supermarket shelves was not exactly subjected to the most rigourous of testing.

"There is only a single paper, published in 1996, in the Journal of Notrition, about feeding GM soya to rats, chickens, cows and catfish.

"I am afraid it is a poor quality paper which would not be acceptable now after all the publicity stirred up by our findings here in the UK."

Of course, the $64,000 question remains is it safe.

"No, most emphatically no," Pusztai insists. "Apart from the money we had from the Scottish Office the Government has not spent any money on animal testing of GM food.

"No such tests have been carried out with human volunteers either."

Dr Pusztai has now gone back on the offensive, challenging his opponents to produce hard proof that GM foods are safe.

His own findings are currently being reviewed by a scientific body he has so far declined to name and are due to be published shortly.

Prince Charles, who consulted widely on the issue before making his own concerns public three weeks ago, met Pusztai in private recently.

"I fully agree with the Prince's 10 points an could not have put them better myself," he said.

"I am grateful to the Prince for listening to me. He has shown a great example of trying to get a balanced view of a complex problem by listening to all the major players in the GM business.

"I wish the Government had taken a leaf out of his book and consulted as widely.

"I'm still expecting an invitation from Dr Cunningham but will it ever come...?"

Smart money suggests it probably isn’t worth waiting for the postman. So what would Dr Pusztai say if he did swing a tete a tete with the cabinet enforcer?

"They should find the people, laboratories and money to carry out independent and transparent research into the proper testing of all GM foodstuffs, including those which have already been released, so that our health an future will be safeguarded," he said.

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Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 06:48:00 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-21

More internet websites

Here is a list of GE sites (mainly anti GE) that was posted on the newsgroup

Note: Our website has been selected by StudyWeb as one of the best educational resources on the Web. StudyWeb is one of the Internet's premier sites for educational resources for students and teachers. Soon, one will be able to view this site in the Science:Biology:Genetics Resources:Engineering section of StudyWeb, which is at

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

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Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 21:55:23 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-24

France to Ask EU to Halt Approvals on Genetically Modified Organisms

By REUTERS, June 24, 1999

PARIS – France said Wednesday it would ask the European Union to halt cultivation of new genetically modified organisms until rules on their use can be drafted.

But it will not change its internal policy or approval procedures for the controversial crops, the government said.

As E.U. environment ministers prepare to meet Thursday to settle differences on the bloc's genetically modified (GM) crop policy, France said it would ask the E.U. to suspend the approval process for new strains of GM crops until further regulations can be written.

After a meeting between Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and the French health, environment, consumer affairs and farm ministers, the government said it would ask the E.U. to introduce a labeling system to identify foods produced from GM crops in response to consumer outcry.

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Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 21:55:23 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-24

EU Ministers work out "de facto moratorium"

LUXEMBOURG, June 24 (Reuters) - European Union environment ministers on Thursday moved closer to a moratorium on authorising new genetically modified organisms, at least until new rules can be agreed to reassure consumers of their safety.

"Until new rules are in place, we don't want any new products to be released," German Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin told a press conference. "It will be a de facto moratorium, though legally-speaking we can't call it that," he said.

Ministers met in Luxembourg with the aim of agreeing revised rules for approving new GMOs amid growing public concern about the safety of gene technology following a number of food scares.

Environmental oressure group Greenpeace immediately welcomed the move towards a moratorium."GMOs are an environmental threat and an unjustified experiment with food," it said in a statement, adding it hoped the temporary halt to approvals was a step to a "consistent ban".

The Commission, the EU's executive, has proposed changes to the process by which new GMOs are authorised to tighten safety checks and ensure more transparency in the decision-making process. All ongoing applications are currently blocked because of shortcomings in the current approvals process, and the Union fears it is vulnerable to attack from its trading partners.

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Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 21:55:23 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-24

For Immediate Release:

US FDA Ignored Their Own GMO Safety Warning

FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Documents Show They Ignored GMO Safety Warnings From Their Own Scientists

June 24, 1999

Lawsuit in USA Uncovers Disagreement Within FDA Over Safety of Biotech Foods

Agency Contradicted Own Experts in Approving Genetically Engineered Foods -- Misrepresented Facts in Order to Promote U.S. Biotech Industry

Statement by Steven M. Druker, J.D., executive director of the Alliance for Bio-Integrity, coordinator of the lawsuit against the FDA to obtain mandatory safety testing and labeling of gene-spliced foods, and an attorney on the case (in collaboration with the Legal Department of the Center for Technology Assessment in Washington, D.C.).

In May 1998, a coalition of public interest groups, scientists, and religious leaders filed a landmark lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to obtain mandatory safety testing and labeling of all genetically engineered foods (Alliance for Bio-Integrity, et. al. v. Shalala). Nine eminent life scientists joined the coalition in order to emphasize the degree to which they think FDA policy is scientifically unsound and morally irresponsible. Now, the FDA's own files confirm how well-founded are their concerns. The FDA was required to deliver copies of these files--totalling over 44,000 pages--to the plaintiffs' attorneys.

False Claims and a Policy at Odds with the Law

The FDA's records reveal it declared genetically engineered foods to be safe in the face of disagreement from its own experts--all the while claiming a broad scientific consensus supported its stance. Internal reports and memoranda disclose: (1) agency scientists repeatedly cautioned that foods produced through recombinant DNA technology entail different risks than do their conventionally produced counterparts and (2) that this input was consistently disregarded by the bureaucrats who crafted the agency's current policy, which treats bioengineered foods the same as natural ones.

Besides contradicting the FDA's claim that its policy is science-based, this evidence shows the agency violated the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in allowing genetically engineered foods to be marketed without testing on the premise that they are generally recognized as safe by qualified experts.

FDA Scientists Protest Attempt to Equate Genetic Engineering with Conventional Breeding

The FDA admits it is operating under a directive "to foster" the U.S. biotech industry; and this directive advocates the premise that bioengineered foods are essentially the same as others. However, the agency's attempts to bend its policy to conform with this premise met strong resistance from its own scientists, who repeatedly warned that genetic engineering differs from conventional practices and entails a unique set of risks. Numerous agency experts protested that drafts of the Statement of Policy were ignoring the recognized potential for bioengineering to produce unexpected toxins and allergens in a different manner and to a different degree than do conventional methods.

According to Dr. Louis Priybl of the FDA Microbiology Group, "There is a profound difference between the types of unexpected effects from traditional breeding and genetic engineering which is just glanced over in this document." He added that several aspects of gene splicing "...may be more hazardous."

Dr. Linda Kahl, an FDA compliance officer, objected that the agency was "...trying to fit a square peg into a round hole ... [by] trying to force an ultimate conclusion that there is no difference between foods modified by genetic engineering and foods modified by traditional breeding practices." She said: "The processes of genetic engineering and traditional breeding are different, and according to the technical experts in the agency, they lead to different risks."

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Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 21:55:23 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-24

Japan tightens rules on GM crops to protect the environment

Nature 24 June 1999

[TOKYO] Japan is to tighten its safety regulations on genetically modified crops following the publication last month of research suggesting that pollen from Bt corn could harm the larvae of monarch butterflies (see Nature 399, 214; 1999).

The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) announced last week that it will suspend approval of Bt crops for agricultural purposes until its committee on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has established criteria for evaluating the safety of such crops.

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Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 21:55:23 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-24


New Study Links Monsanto's Roundup to Cancer

A recent study by eminent oncologists Dr. Lennart Hardell and Dr. Mikael Eriksson of Sweden [1], has revealed clear links between one of the world's biggest selling herbicide, glyphosate, to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer [2].

In the study published in the 15 March 1999 Journal of American Cancer Society, the researchers also maintain that exposure to glyphosate 'yielded increased risks for NHL.' They stress that with the rapidly increasing use of glyphosate since the time the study was carried out, 'glyphosate deserves further epidemiologic studies.'

Glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup, is the world's most widely used herbicide. It is estimated that for 1998, over a 112,000 tonnes of glyphosate was used world-wide. It indiscriminately kills off a wide variety of weeds after application and is primarily used to control annual and perennial plants.

71% of genetically engineered crops planted in 1998 are designed to be resistant to herbicides such as glyphosate, marketed by Monsanto as Roundup. Companies developing herbicide resistant crops are also increasing their production capacity for the herbicides such as glyphosate, and also requesting permits for higher residues of these chemicals in genetically engineered food. For example, Monsanto have already received permits for a threefold increase in herbicide residues on genetically engineered soybeans in Europe and the U.S., up from 6 parts per million (PPM) to 20 PPM.

According to Sadhbh O' Neill of Genetic Concern, 'this study reinforces concerns by environmentalists and health professionals that far from reducing herbicide use, glyphosate resistant crops may result in increased residues to which we as consumers will be exposed in our food.'

'Increased residues of glyphosate and its metabolites are already on sale via genetically engineered soya, common in processed foods. However no studies of the effects of GE soya sprayed with Roundup on health have been carried out either on animals or humans to date,' she continued.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics from 1997 show that expanded plantings of Roundup Ready soybeans (i.e. soybeans genetically engineered to be tolerant to the herbicide) resulted in a 72% increase in the use of glyphosate. According to the Pesticides Action Network, scientists estimate that plants genetically engineered to be herbicide resistant will actually triple the amount of herbicides used. Farmers, knowing that their crop can tolerate or resist being killed off by the herbicides, will tend to use them more liberally.

O' Neill concluded: 'The EPA when authorising Monsanto's field trials for Roundup-ready sugar beet did not consider the issue of glyphosate. They considered this to be the remit of the Pesticides Control Service of the Department of Agriculture. Thus nobody has included the effects of increasing the use of glyphosate in the risk/benefit analysis carried out. It is yet another example of how regulatory authorities supposedly protecting public health have failed to implement the 'precautionary principle' with respect to GMOs.'

-- ENDS --

Further information: Sadhbh O' Neill at 01-4760360 or 087-2258599 or (home) 01-6774052 Notes


[1] Lennart Hardell, M.D., PhD. Department of Oncology, Orebro Medical Centre, Orebro, Sweden and Miikael Eriksson, M.D., PhD, Department of Oncology, University Hospital, Lund, Sweden, 'A Case-Control Study of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Exposure to Pesticides', Cancer, March 15, 1999/ Volume 85/ Number 6.

The findings are based on a population-based case-control study conducted in Sweden between 1987 - 1990. The necessary data was ascertained by a series of comprehensive questionnaires and follow-up telephone interviews. Dr. Hardell and Dr. Eriksson found that 'exposure to herbicides and fungicides resulted in significantly increased risks for NHL'.

[2] Lymphoma is a form of cancer that afflicts the lymphatic system. It can occur at virtually any part of the body but the initial symptoms are usually seen as swellings around the lymph nodes at the base of the neck. There are basically two main kinds of lymphoma, i.e. Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The incidence of NHL has increased rapidly in most Western countries over the last few decades. According to the American Cancer Society, there has been an alarming 80% increase in incidences of NHL since the early 1970's.

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Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 21:55:23 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-24

Brazil bans GM soya

By: Nick Nuttall , The Times (London) June 23, 1999,

Commercial plantings of gene-modified soya beans have been outlawed in Brazil for a year pending a study into their environmental impact (Nick Nuttall writes). Brazil is the world's second largest producer of soya.

Stores in Britain, including Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer, have begun sourcing soya products from Brazil because they claim they are now GM- free.

Some Brazilian states say they will stay GM-free to cash in on the demand from Britain.

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Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 21:55:23 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-24

Guelph Prof Dubious Of Genetically Altered Seed

The Expositor (Brantford), Wednesday, June 23, 1999 Final News C2

OWEN SOUND - The modified gene emperor has no clothes, University of Guelph crop scientist Ann Clark says.

Not only do genetically-modified corn and soybean varieties cost farmers more than conventionally-developed seeds, most involve a loss in yield over conventional varieties, she said in a talk Monday evening at the Anglican Parish Hall in Lion's Head. They also present enormous environmental risks either through the creation of natural resistance in plant pests or through inadvertent effects on non-target plants and animals, including humans, Clark said.

An associate professor in the University of Guelph's plant agriculture department, Clark is best known among farmers for her work with pasture. It's a realm of commercial agriculture relatively untouched by lab-managed genetics, although work has begun to strengthen winter hardiness in new varieties of the important forage legume, alfalfa.

Clark's current experimental work compares the economic returns of reseeded pasture with those from carefully managed, perennial pasture. She's betting on properly-managed, long-term pasture which, she maintains, is endlessly sustainable.

Clark has developed a more controversial interest lately, however, in genetically modified organisms, best known by the short-form, GMO. Her interest followed a challenge by the director of her university department, soybean breeder Dave Hume, to debate the subject at a seed growers convention.

Her research to prepare for that debate converted Clark's personal preference for traditional agricultural practices into a firm conviction that the science behind GMOs lags far behind the profit motive of its corporate sponsors.

Technology Before Science

Clark told a group of about 60 people at Monday's meeting, sponsored by three regional This is a classic case of technology before she said. This all detracts from the credibility of the scientists with those companies and the companies themselves and the governments that released it she said of GMO crops now actively in use throughout Ontario. Clark said to farmers in her audience after As far as I can tell,

Some estimates suggest that as much as 70 per cent of canola and 40 per cent of the corn grown in Ontario is genetically engineered, either to include resistance to European corn borer or to widely-used herbicides.

Corn borer resistance comes from toxins of Bacillus Thuringensis, but the threatens to accelerate the resistance of corn borer larvae themselves to the toxin and kill off benign related insects such as the Monarch Butterfly, she said.

As well, a recent research paper published in the prestigious journal, Science, indicates that current industry recommendations are wrong about delaying resistance among the insects by setting aside large areas of non-BT plants surrounding the altered crop, Clark said. She also expressed concern about genetic pollution, the contamination of nearby crops and wild plants by pollen movement from fields planted in genetically-engineered crops.

Recent resistance to GMO food products by European consumers creates an opportunity to slow down the dissemination of gene-engineering technology for proper testing, Clark told her audience. Some major buyers refuse GMO grain. Spain now requires growers and sellers of GMO crops to contribute to a US$100 million liability fund.

The British Medical Association and the Women's Institute in Great Britain have both called for a five year moratorium on the dissemination of altered increasing to trust biotechnology proponents about the safety of their products, Clark said.

LACK ANSWERS What bothers her most is that the corporate proponents of bio-tech agriculture and government regulators who have approved it lack answers to very basic questions about the effect of the innovations on natural cycles where practical farming really happens. We are dependent on the little bugs and microorganisms and stuff in the We're messing with that stuff and we don't even know how badly we're messing with Clark said.

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

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Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999 14:28:08 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-25

Here is a scientific article study showing the genetically engineered soybeans are biochemically different in composition from natural varieties.

Alterations in Clinically Important Phytoestrogens in Genetically Modified, Herbicide-Tolerant Soybeans

Copyright © Journal of Medicinal Food, (Vol 1., no. 4, 1999) in press, Maryanne Liebert Publishers

Marc A. Lappé, Ph.D., Center for Ethics and Toxics, Gualala CA E.
Britt Bailey, M.A., Center for Ethics and Toxics, Gualala, CA
Chandra Childress, M.S., Children s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
Kenneth D.R. Setchell, Ph.D., Children s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH


The growing clinical interest and use of soybean-based food products or extracts to increase dietary phytoestrogen intake makes the precise composition of the key biologically active ingredients of soybeans, notably genistin and daidzin of substantial medical interest.

Conventional soybeans are increasingly being replaced by genetically modified varieties. We analyzed the phytoestrogen concentrations in two varieties of genetically modified herbicide tolerant soybeans and their isogenic conventional counterparts grown under similar conditions.

An overall reduction in phytoestrogen levels of 12-14 percent was observed in the genetically altered soybean strains. Most of this reduction was attributable to reductions in genistin and to a lesser extent daidzin levels, which were significantly lower in modified compared to conventional soybeans in both strains. Significant sample to sample variability in these two phytoestrogens, but not glycitin, was evident in different batches of genetically altered soybeans.

Given the high biological potency of isoflavones and their metabolic conversion products, these data suggest genetically modified soybeans may be less potent sources of clinically relevant phytoestrogens than their conventional precursors. These observations, if confirmed in other soybean varieties, heighten the importance of establishing baselines of expected isoflavone levels in transgenic and conventional soy products to ensure uniformity of clinical results. Disclosure of the origins and isoflavone composition of soy food products would be a valuable adjunct to clinical decision-making.


Because of the significance of this article and the controversy that has followed, for instance with "spin doctors" from the soybean industry reinterpreting it, here is the website to keep up on the issue:

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Thanks to MichaelP papadop@PEAK.ORG for posting this:

EU: Tougher Controls on Genetically-modified Organisms

By Stephen Castle in Brussels, INDEPENDENT (London ) June 26

TOUGHER controls on genetically-modified organisms were agreed by Europe's environment ministers yesterday as several countries threatened to block new applications from bio-tech companies until the regulations are in place.

In a marathon negotiating session which ended after 20 hours at 5.30am, ministers rejected calls from France for a formal moratorium on new GM applications, after British objections that such as move would be illegal.

However France, Italy, Greece, Denmark and Luxembourg made clear that they will form a blocking minority if further licences are sought between now and the date at which the new regime comes into force. With the measures requiring approval from the European Parliament, that will probably not be until 2002.

A spokesman for the European Commission, which has not granted an approval for more than a year, conceded that none are likely in the near future, although 11 applications from seven member states are in the pipeline. "For the last year it has not been possible to reach a qualified majority of member states," he said, "after the council meeting yesterday the chances of having a new release approved have not improved."

Diplomats argue that the current, de facto, moratorium will continue, even if there has been no formal declaration. One argued: "There will be a moratorium but, clearly, member states cannot say: 'we are not going to apply the law.'"

The declaration of war on GM applications from a range of countries is likely to strain transatlantic trade relations, and anger bio-tech companies such as Monsanto, which has been in the forefront of gene manipulation.

The ministers agreed to update the existing directive 90/220, including a new regime to continue monitoring GM foods once they come onto the market. They will have to have new "risk assessment" rules will be introduced to monitor scientific evidence.

Products containing more than a certain percentage of genetically altered ingredients will have to bear a label that reads: "This product contains

All new GM plants and seeds approved for sale will have to apply for re-approval after 10 years, scrapping permanent consent currently available.

Environment minister Michael Meacher said: "No-one can now and in the future seriously argue that the regulatory procedures are not tight, comprehensive and balanced and in my opinion very effective."

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Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999 14:28:08 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-25

WTO: U.S., Canada Lodge Complaints Over Rapid Rise in Genetic Labeling Measures

International Trade Reporter / Volume 16 Number 24
Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Page 1006 ISSN 1523-2816 World News

GENEVA--The United States and Canada expressed concerns to the World Trade Organization about the increased use of mandatory labeling measures for genetically modified foods.

U.S. officials told a June 11 meeting of the WTO's Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade that five new GMO-related measures have been adopted by countries in the first five months of 1999 alone, compared with five for all of 1997-98 and only one during 1995-96.

Canada complained about recent measures proposed by the governments of Australia and New Zealand on labeling requirements for genetically modified foods, measures that Canada claims will apply to foods that are no different, essentially, from their conventional counterparts.

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Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999 14:28:08 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-25

Genetically Altered Food Making Headway

By Ron Ryder, The Guardian (Charlottetown, PEI, Canada), Fri 25 Jun 1999, Page A4

While agribusiness has fixed its gaze on biotechnology as the route to more profitable farming, consumers are kept blindfolded to genetically-manipulated foods showing up on store shelves. George McRobie, a British economist and environmental advocate, spoke at UPEI Tuesday to raise a warning that scientifically-altered foodstuffs are becoming pervasive in North American farming.

He said Britons, and Europeans in general, have been very active in opposing the introduction of genetically modified materials in agriculture. But in North America the manipulated foods are making headway into the consumer's diet – unlabeled, and McRobie argued, insufficiently tested.

He said America's Food and Drug Administration and Environment Protection Agency are unwilling or unable to thoroughly regulate or research modified foods, relying on the notion that a potato with altered genes is still a potato and not a product that requires vigorous testing.

"They used to have a very high reputation, but as far as genetically modified organisms are concerned they've been getting through on the nod," McRobie said.

"The fact remains that most of the testing that's being done is just minimal."

McRobie said there were 4.3 million hectares in Canada planted with genetically engineered crops in 1998, up from 1.4 million the year before. He said 50 per cent of the canola grown in Canada comes from genetically engineered seed, but products from those seeds and conventionally-bred canola are not kept separate before entry into the market.

He said there are open, unanswered questions about genetic engineering that have to be satisfied. McRobie said nobody can tell what effect the new plants may have on the environment, whether pest-resistant plants will help produce more vigorous pests and whether the genetic alterations will produce mutations that go beyond the aims of the original engineering.

McRobie said the main effect of engineered crops will be to make farmers dependent on the inventors of those crops, while its benefits are open to debate.

"There is no good reason why we should go out and eat genetically altered foods when we have alternatives," he said. In Britain, grocery chains have decided not to use genetically-altered material, he said.

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

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Date: Sun, 27 Jun 1999 06:35:06 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-26

Genetically Modified Organisms - Press briefing

English Nature 21 June 1999

Over the past 18 months GMOs have been the subject of much public debate. English Nature has had a high profile within the debate and maintained its position throughout.

Following is the text from Genetically Modified Organisms - English Nature's view, a question-and-answer leaflet which clearly explains English Nature's position with regards to Genetically Modified Organisms and the environment, which we hope you will find useful.

Further copies of the this leaflet are available from our Enquiry Service, Northminster House, Peterborough PE1 1UA, or from our web site

-- Ends --

Issued by English Nature Press Office

  1. What is English Nature's role in relation to genetic modification of crops?

    English Nature is the Government's statutory adviser on wildlife and natural features. As well as declaring and managing National Nature Reserves and notifying and promoting effective management of Sites of Special Scientific Interest, we monitor developments which may affect wildlife and advise on how any damaging effects might be avoided. This advice is based on over 40 years of practical experience, coupled with in depth scientific knowledge. English Nature is committed to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity and natural heritage - our wealth of wildlife.

  2. Are GMOs harmful to the environment?

    The answer is that they may or may not be, we do not yet know. Given this uncertainty, and the possibility that serious harm could result if we get things wrong, we must exercise great care if any commercial releases are to be allowed. We know that the effects on wildlife of agricultural intensification over the last 40 years have been harmful, and GMO technology could be the next agricultural revolution - a revolution as far-reaching as the development of DDT.

    Potential risks include:

    Even though biotechnology could be used to benefit wildlife, there are no incentives for industry to produce such crops and no mechanisms in place to ensure that new crops are used in ways which protect and benefit wildlife.

    There are at least 25 research projects currently under way in the UK which are investigating the effects of GM crops on the environment.

  3. What is English Nature's position on commercial growing of GM crops?

    English Nature is not opposed to genetic modification as a plant breeding technique, but is concerned about widespread release of certain GM crops. Our advice is that there should be a breathing space of at least three years (preferably five) before the commercial release of GM herbicide tolerant (HT) and insect resistant (IR) crops to allow time for research into their effects on biodiversity to be completed and assessed.

  4. Has any research been done on the effects of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) and Insect Resistant (IR) GM crops on the environment?

    We are not aware of any field research done either in Europe or in the US on the effects of growing these crops on biodiversity. There are a few laboratory-based studies which raise questions about adverse effects on wildlife.

    We can make predictions about the effects on biodiversity from linking agricultural research on the efficiency of GM crop systems with what we know about the effects of conventional agricultural intensification on biodiversity. For example we know that the herbicide methods used with new GMHT crops remove about 98% of all weeds. It is very difficult to achieve this efficiency with conventional weed removal systems.

    There is a lot of research on the effects of highly intensive farming on birds, insects and plants which proves that highly efficient herbicide (and insecticide) systems cause serious damage to biodiversity. We fear that commercial adoption of GMHT crops and the impact of associated herbicides and insecticides will cause further severe declines in farmland biodiversity. In other words, it is at least as bad as current intensive systems, and under some circumstances, worse. We need to learn the lessons from the past 30 years of increasing agricultural intensification to set the framework for this new technology.

  5. Who is doing research?

    Most of the research on the effects of growing GM crops on biodiversity is being sponsored by DETR and MAFF, although some is also being funded by the biotechnology industry. Current research programmes cover only a small part of what needs to be done to ensure ecological safety. English Nature has presented the Government with a list of suggested additional research.

  6. How long will the research take?

    At least three years.

    The earliest that most of these ecological research projects will be completed by is 2002. It will take a further year for the results of various projects to be integrated and assimilated by the regulatory system. That is why we have called for a delay in the commercial release of GMHT and IR crops of at least three, preferably five, years.

  7. Won't GM crops reduce the amount of pesticides and therefore benefit wildlife?

    It is not always the amount of pesticide which damages wildlife, but the type used and the timing of application.

    Conventional weed treatments using pre-emergence and selective herbicides should achieve success early in the season but leave weeds later on. The herbicides used on GMHT crops would be broad-spectrum chemicals such as glyphosate (eg RoundupTM) and glufosinate (eg LibertyTM) which, when applied during the growing season, kill almost all weeds in the field. We know that on very intensive farms, conventional weed treatments are very damaging to biodiversity, but many farms are not so intensive and tolerate relatively weedy fields.

    In the USA, treatment with broad spectrum herbicides applied to growing GM crops appears to have increased cases of spray drift damage to adjoining non-GM crops. If these methods are transferred to the UK, we fear further damage to hedgerows and field margins which provide the most valuable remaining refuge for wildlife in the farmed landscape.

  8. Will genes from GM crops spread to wild plants? Recent research from DETR and other information indicates that spread to native species is likely.

    Some GM crops, such as maize and wheat, have no wild relatives in England and it is very unlikely that genes from these could spread to wild plants. Others, such as oilseed rape and sugar and fodder beet are closely related to a number of wild plants. Recent research shows that GM pollen spreads to these plants and that fertile hybrids are formed. We do not yet know what the impact of these hybrids could be on wildlife and agriculture - will some become aggressive weeds invading either farmland or natural habitats? Will the hybrids prove fitter than their wild relatives and replace them? Will some hybrids be insect-resistant, denying wild insects their food and leading to declines in insect-eating birds?

    We do not know the answers to these questions. Some research has recently been started in Europe to investigate the impact of gene escape on biodiversity, and we do not want decisions to be taken before the results of the research are known.

  9. These crops are widely grown in the USA. What is the effect on wildlife there?

    The American situation is very different. In England, wildlife and farming share the countryside. In many parts of America, intensive farming and wildlife are sharply divided and zoned to the point of mutual exclusion. About 70% of land in the UK is farmed, in contrast to the US where around 35% is farmed.

    If we are to honour international biodiversity undertakings and conserve our native species, we must farm in ways which allow them to use the whole countryside. Transferring the industrialised farming of the US to the European landscape could have further devastating effects on our wildlife. In some areas such as East Anglia, northern France and parts of the Netherlands this has already happened and we have seen reductions of up to 75% in farmland bird populations over the past 25 years. English Nature wants to reverse this decline, and to see both a healthy agricultural economy and flourishing wildlife.

  10. Is the regulatory regime for GMOs adequate?

    Recent changes announced by Government should result in a regulatory and advisory structure which gives better control of GMOs, but there is much still to be done to incorporate testing for risks to biodiversity into the system. The forthcoming review of the European Directive governing release of GMOs (EC 90/220) is crucial to this process. It is important that the UK Government plays a leading role in the review, especially where potential effects on the environment are concerned.

  11. Is the SCIMAC voluntary code of practice for GMHT crops enough to protect biodiversity?

    The Code is very limited in its purpose and is not designed to protect biodiversity in the face of widespread release. It does not set out to protect wildlife within the crop and the field margins.

    Even if growers followed the Code to the letter, they could eliminate all wildlife from their fields. The Code is intended to protect the integrity of the supply chain and should not be seen as the solution to the biodiversity risks.

  12. Should there be statutory control of growing GM crops?

    Voluntary codes of practice in agriculture have rarely worked as intended. They failed for pesticides and for straw-burning, eventually being replaced by strong legislation. Biotechnology is such a powerful way of producing radically new crops that we believe statutory on-farm controls are essential.

    13. What action is English Nature seeking? We are pressing Government and the biotechnology industry for a delay in commercial introduction of GMHT and IR crops until research is completed and results assimilated. We are calling for more ecological research to be started now.

    We are working to change the regulatory system to include much greater consideration of the potential effects of GM crops on wildlife.

    We believe that only statutory control of how GM crops are grown will ensure that wildlife is protected.

-- Ends 6/99 --

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Date: Sun, 27 Jun 1999 06:35:06 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-26

Rockefeller Foundation Asks Monsanto to Drop Gene

By Scott Kilman

CHICAGO (Dow Jones) – The Rockefeller Foundation, which funds research to help poor farmers in developing countries, is lobbying Monsanto Co. (MTC) to swear off use of the so-called terminator gene, which would make seed sterile.

Gordon Conway, president of the New York City foundation, is slated to address Monsanto's directors Thursday evening at a board meeting in Washington D.C. Conway was invited by Monsanto Chief Executive Robert B. Shapiro, who often has speakers address board gatherings.

Conway's speech is the first time the Rockefeller Foundation has taken a public stand on the terminator gene, and it is now the most prestigious organization to turn against it. Work on the terminator gene is controversial among rural development groups because it would prevent farmers from keeping some of their harvest for seed, a common practice in poor regions.

Many in the biotechnology industry say the terminator gene is necessary to prevent a black market in their patented seeds. But Conway told Dow Jones Newswires he is worried that the backlash over the terminator gene, which is years from reaching the commercial stage, is damaging public support for crop biotechnology in general, which might slow research that could benefit poor farmers overseas.

Top PreviousFront Page

Date: Sun, 27 Jun 1999 06:35:06 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN6-26

Thanks to "gloria Lemay" for posting this, with her message:

This link is to an article in the June 26/99 issue of New Scientist and is about Genetically Engineered Plants being used to spread vaccines. The article positively depicts the science leading to this technology but the prospect will be very frightening for those with fears about the adverse affects of vaccines.

Gloria Lemay, Vancouver BC

** 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:

Our website, 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.