Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

9 August 99

Table of Contents

Doctors Advises Biotech Moratorium
Biotech Corn Kills Butterflies
A Government Never Tells
Farmers Fight Genetic Pollution
Cloning Hazardous to Health
Spanish Chain Removes GE Foods
Swiss soiled seed prompts tolerance question
Church ban on GM crop trials
Baby-food maker turned off genetics
Genetically modified food fight growing unpalatable
Test experts paid by GM firm,
Monsanto Faces Growing Skepticism on Two Fronts
Biopiracy: need to change Western IPR systems
Reuters 'World Environment News' headlines (Internet).
Label GM Foods Says US Trade Group
Monsanto welcomes label move
Japan risks U.S. ire with GMO label plan
Problems With Genetically Engineered Insulin
Japan Unveils Label Plans For Genetically- Altered Food
U.S. study raises new questions about GM crops
Are these new bio-crops safe?
Genetic Stew Boils In Brazil
WSJ(8/5): Bugs May Resist New Crops Faster Than Expected
Australia: Ministers Down Under Mandate Biotech Food Lables, Allow Loophole
Genetically Modified Food: Alarmingly Out of Control
GM food protesters call for debate
The Problem with the Safety of Roundup Ready Soybeans
Canadian Farmers Seek Compensation for "Genetic Pollution"
Insects Chewing Into Monsanto's Profits?
Africa seeks laws on GM food exports

Top NextFront Page

Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 15:30:16 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-3

Biotech News, by Richard Wolfson, PhD

Reprinted with permission from the August 1999 issue of Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition, 7436 Fraser Park Drive, Burnaby, BC V5J 5B9

Doctors Advises Biotech Moratorium

The British Medical Association (BMA), which represents 115,000 doctors, recently called for a complete moratorium on biotech crops in Britain until extensive research is carried out to determine the safety of these crops. The BMA report, The Impact of Genetic Modification on Agriculture, Food and Health, says that detailed research is needed into possible toxicity of GM food and whether eating it could lead to the development of new allergies and antibiotic resistance in humans.

Earlier, Professor Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer in Britain, and Sir Robert May, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, recommended setting up a special health monitoring unit to examine whether eating genetically modified food could cause birth defects, cancer or damage to the human immune system.


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Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 15:30:16 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-3

Biotech Corn Kills Butterflies

Research at Cornell University found that almost 50 percent of monarch caterpillars die after eating pollen from genetically engineered Bt corn, killing these caterpillars before they developed into monarch butterflies. Monarch caterpillars normally eat pollen from traditional corn plants with no ill effects. It is common for pollen from corn plants to blow onto nearby milkweed plants, which are eaten by monarch larvae and the tiger-striped caterpillars that turn into monarchs.

However, the caterpillars died after eating the Bt crop, which is genetically engineered to contain a bacterial toxin to kill insect pests that feed on the crop. This research thus shows that genetically engineered insect-resistant crops can also harm non-target or beneficial insects. Long-term effects on humans eating the crop has not been tested.


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Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 15:30:16 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-3

A Government Never Tells

Agriculture Canada has refused to release information about its commercial relationship with the biotech company Monsanto. Senator Mira Spivak, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, asked what work Monsanto was doing at government research centers and the amount of money the government has accepted from the biotech company. The refusal of the government to provide this information is taken by critics as proof that the government has become too cozy with a biotech industry that it's supposed to be regulating.


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Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 15:30:16 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-3

Farmers Fight Genetic Pollution

The National Farmers Union wants Ottawa to make ag-biotech firms liable for the "genetic pollution" of organic and traditional crops. Farmers are concerned that pollen from genetically engineered crops will pollinate neighboring fields. Once organic crops are pollinated with biotech genes, these crops will lose their organic status and farmers will suffer. Farmers want the biotech industry to bear the loss to the organic farmers from this biotech pollution.


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Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 15:30:16 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-3

Cloning Hazardous to Health

Animal experiments in North America show that cloning is a serious health risk – usually resulting in death for the clones, and often killing mothers pregnant with those clones. "There are a hell of a lot of fetal and neonatal deaths along the way," said Gerald Schatten, at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center.

In other large mammals such as sheep and cows, about half of all clones that develop into fetuses harbor serious abnormalities, including peculiar defects in the heart, lungs and other organs – many of them fatal before birth. Some die suddenly and mysteriously. The cause of these abnormalities and deaths remains a mystery, but has been linked to a disruption of a genetic mechanism known as "imprinting," which is nature's way of ensuring that every baby has two parents.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 15:30:16 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-3

Spanish Chain Removes GE Foods

Spain's largest supermarket chain, Pryca, is pulling genetically modified (GM) ingredients out of its own-brand food products sold in its 58 stores. In response to public concerns, the chain will be removing GM ingredients from its products by the end of this year.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 15:30:16 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-3

Swiss soiled seed prompts tolerance question

Ingeborg Furst, Nature Biotechnology, Volume 17 / July 1999 Page 629

On July 1, the Swiss government's tolerance standard for genetic purity of food comes into effect. Switzerland is the first country in Europe to set a limit for genetic contamination, but current controversy over genetically contaminated corn seeds highlights the urgent EU-wide need for such a standard for crops.

In May , it was discovered by the Swiss Department of Agriculture (Budesamt fur Landwirtschaft; Bern) and the district president of Baden-Württemberg (Tübingen, Germany) that Pioneer Hi-Bred's (Des Moines, IA) nongenetically modified corn seed varieties, Ulla and Benicia, actually contained novel genes from a variety of corn genetically modified to be resistant to the corn borer, Bacillus thuringiensis.

Contamination of the seeds, which were harvested in the United States, was "probably caused by stray pollen during the growing season," says Ulrich Schmidt, managing director of Pioneer in Buxtehude, Germany, which represents the grain manufacturer in Switzerland. It is likely that incorporation of pollen from GM varieties into Ulla and Benicia occurred this way because "Pioneer does not offer a commercial GM variety of Ulla or Benicia."

Before the contamination was discovered, Pioneer had sold enough Ulla and Benicia seeds to sow 400 hectares (roughly 0.5% of total corn cultivation in Switzerland), about 200 hectares of which had already been planted.

Estimates of the amount of genetic contamination of non-GM DNA by GM DNA vary between 0.1 and 0.5% – respectively below the limit set in both countries for contamination resulting from physical mixing of varieties. Under German and Swiss seed market laws, this "technical" contamination with seed from weed and other varieties can be as high as 3% and 5%, respectively.

But because there are no tolerance standards set for genetic purity, the contaminated Pioneer seeds are not approved for release into the environment, and planting therefore infringes the Swiss environment conservation law (Umweltschutzgesetz), as well as violating the German gene technology law (Gentechnikgesetz). As a result, the Swiss Department of Agriculture (Bundesamt fur Landwirtschaft, Bern) has prohibited the import and trade of contaminated Ulla and Benicia and has ordered the destruction of any already sown.

However, Pioneer and the entire grain industry are not able to guarantee the genetic purity of their conventional non-GM varieties, says Schmidt. "Genetic inserts are in the nature of things," agrees Rainer Linneweber, spokesperson for Novartis Seed (Bad Salzuflen, Germany). "Despite our high-level quality management and our ISO certification, even a 100% [technical ] purity for conventional seed is utopian," he adds. But although the Swiss government has now set a 1% tolerance standard for genetic contamination of food, such a standard for crops remains absent.

In the meantime, both Switzerland and Germany have analyzed the contaminated seed: The Swiss Department of Agriculture could detect by PCR the presence but not the amount of DNA sequences from GM corn varieties. But analysis ordered by the Baden-Württemberg district has called two specific GM varieties into question - one from Pioneer and one from another unnamed grain manufacturer, according to Grit Puchan, spokesperson for the Baden-Württemberg district.

"We still need to clarify whether or not these GM-corn seed varieties have been granted marketing approval in the EU and subsequently in Germany," says Puchan. If they have, the release of their contaminants would already be approved under the existing EU 90/220 directive. In this case, Pioneer must simply label the seeds accordingly to satisfy German authorities, says Edgar Muschketat, spokesperson for the Berlin-based Robert-Koch-Institut, which approves the release of GMOs into the environment.

But this question is irrelevant, according to Hans-Georg Dederer, jurist at the Institute for Public Law at the University of Bonn, who says a loophole in the law means that genetically contaminated seeds need no special approval under 90/220. "A crop genetically modified by stray pollen is not a product within the meaning of 90/220, because 'product' implies a willful preparation," he says.

Meanwhile, a "witch hunt-like atmosphere" reigns in Switzerland, says Klaus Ammann, director of the Botanic Garden at the University of Bern and member of the Commission for Biosafety (Kommission fur biologische Sicherheit). But although some corn fields have been destroyed by fire or herbicides, many farmers (mainly in western Switzerland) refuse to destroy the corn until Pioneer and the Swiss government agree to compensate them. In addition, the Swiss farmers' association (Schweizerischer Bauernverband) is deciding whether to file a class action lawsuit against Pioneer (via the Swiss seed importer), and Pioneer is considering halting sales via the Swiss seed importer to farmers in Switzerland.

As Nature Biotechnology was going to press, the Swiss seed importer Eric Schweizer Samen AG agreed to pay farmers 700 Swiss Francs per hectare.

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


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 5 Aug 1999 06:28:27 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-4

Church ban on GM crop trials

By Paul Waugh. Political Correspondent
Independent, London, UK, 4 August 1999

THE CHURCH of England has refused to allow the Government to use its land to conduct genetically modified crop trials.

The decision, which was prompted by the continuing controversy over the morality and safety of the technology, will come as a huge embarrassment to the Government.

The Central Science Laboratory, the main research arm of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, asked to lease the land at a meeting with Church Commissioners. However, The Independent has learnt that the commissioners blocked the move pending a full-scale inquiry into genetic modification and its "theological implications".

After objections from Christian Aid, English Nature, Friends of the Earth and others, the church's Ethical Investment Working Group will now spend several months weighing up the whole issue.

Christian Aid, which has declared that American companies are "selling suicide" to the Third World by forcing GM crops on to them, welcomed the decision to freeze the government application.

As a practising Christian, the Prime Minister will take particularly hard their accusations that genetic manipulation of crops is "unethical" and will ruin the livelihoods of poor farmers. The church's decision follows intense internal debate over the warm welcome some of its senior officers had given to GM technology.

The church owns more than 123,000 acres of agricultural land in Britain, worth some 237m. At present, no church agricultural land is used for experimental or commercial genetically modified crops.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 5 Aug 1999 06:28:27 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-4

Baby-food maker turned off genetics

The Review (Niagara Falls), Tuesday, August 3, 1999 Page A5, SUMMIT, N.J.

The maker of Gerber baby food is dropping suppliers who use genetic engineering in their corn and soybean products, the company's chief executive officer confirmed Friday. The move by Novartis follows a request from the environmental group Greenpeace for information on the company's use of bioengineered products.

The company was evaluating their use before then, said Al Piergallini, president of its North American consumer health division, based in Summit, N.J. Novartis plans to drop some of the company's grain suppliers this summer in favor of producers who do not use gene alteration to make corn and soybeans resistant to pests and weedkilling chemicals.

Those ingredients account for less than two per cent of Gerber's products, mainly dry cereal, Piergallini said.

Greenpeace fears possible health risks associated with genetically engineered foods, though Novartis officials said they still believe their existing Gerber products are safe.

Novartis said it was turning to other suppliers anyway, and is taking its changes a step further by adding a new promise to try to use only organic – pesticide- and herbicide-free – ingredients in Gerber products. Piergallini We've always tried to figure out if there were any concerns that


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 5 Aug 1999 06:28:27 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-4

Genetically modified food fight growing unpalatable

By Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff
The Boston Globe, August 3, 1999, City Edition -

LYNG, England - It was a battle scene right out of an old King Arthur movie, or maybe "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" - fighting amid the bucolic English countryside that seemed almost comical because, in the end, no one got hurt. Just before dawn one day last week, Greenpeace activists wearing white decontamination suits invaded Walnut Tree Farm, where the Brigham brothers are growing genetically modified maize. One of the farmers, Ed Brigham, jumped on his tractor and used its bucket to smash a mechanical mower that Greenpeace was using to chop down stalks.

Then he drove at the environmentalists, scattering them in the field. When it was over, a good chunk of the Brighams' experimental field of maize had been destroyed, and 28 protesters from Greenpeace had been arrested. That confrontation and another Saturday in which 45 protesters were arrested after destroying maize at another experimental farm in Lincolnshire were the latest in an increasingly bitter debate over genetically modified foods that are being tested here and in other parts of Europe.

While there is opposition to "GM" foods in much of Europe, nowhere is the debate more heated and vitriolic than in Britain. Saturday's assault was the fourth time in the last month that environmental groups have taken what they call "direct action" against one of the seven government-approved testing sites in Britain.

Activists vow to trash the other three testing sites and there are some who believe the demonstrations against genetically modified food in Britain will grow into a movement that will rival the antinuclear demonstrations of the 1980s.

Prime Minister Tony Blair's government has pleaded for reason, saying that the government will not allow unsafe food onto the market but insisting that testing is needed. While it has been anxious to keep the testing process open, the government is considering shifting the testing sites to undisclosed locations if the vandalism continues.

The biotechnology companies that are pushing GM foods, such as Monsanto, say they will produce cheaper, more plentiful food that tastes better, stays fresh longer and will not trigger allergies. Eventually, they say, these foods will offer greater nutritional value.

Poppycock, say opponents. They say GM foods are unsafe and will harm the environment by altering nature. There is scant scientific evidence to back their claims, but there is a visceral fear of the new technology throughout the population, fears that are fanned by the news media and validated by high-profile opponents of GM testing. "Genetic modification takes mankind into realms that belong to God and God alone," Prince Charles declared last year.

Tabloid newspapers in Britain have dubbed GM products "Frankenfood," while more serious newspapers, such as The Independent, have forsaken any attempt to be objective, running robust campaigns against GM testing. Newspaper polls regularly show the British public is against the testing.

While there is a body of scientific evidence suggesting that GM foods are safe, Europeans in general and Britons in particular have far less confidence in what their governments tell them about food safety. Europe has been buffeted by a series of food contamination scandals in recent years. On Sunday, a three-year ban on the export of British beef because of "mad cow" disease will end.

More recently, contaminated Coca Cola was pulled from the shelves in four European countries, and Belgium has been rocked by contamination of poultry, pork and beef with cancer-causing dioxins.

The new European Commission president, Romano Prodi, cited the dispute over genetically modified food as a reason why Europe needs to create an independent agency modeled after the US Food and Drug Administration. As Prodi's chief aide, David O'Sullivan, put it, "There is widespread skepticism and cynicism about food safety throughout Europe."

William Brigham, whose Walnut Tree Farm was attacked by protesters, said he considers those who destroyed his crop criminals. He said they are fundamentalists who oppose the GM foods on principle, not science.

"The spray I use on my conventional crops is less (environmentally) friendly than what I put on the (GM) crops," he said.

But Lord Peter Melchett, a hereditary peer who is the executive director of Greenpeace, and who led the assault on the Brigham farm, said ripping up the crops is justified.

"The British public have made it very clear they do not want these GM farm-scale plans to go ahead," he said. "It is vital that the crop is removed before it flowers, speading GM pollution."


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Thu, 5 Aug 1999 06:28:27 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-4

Test experts paid by GM firm,

by John Vidal and James Meikle
The Guardian (UK), Wednesday August 4, 1999

Two scientists responsible for independently verifying the safety of the government's controversial GM food trials are also being paid by a leading GM company, it emerged last night.

Bob May and Alan Dewar of the Institute of Arable Crops Research, an organisation subsidised by the government, were appointed in June to help lead a team of "world-class scientists" to look at the potential adverse impacts of the farm trials.

They had earlier been commissioned by Norfolk-based GM company AgrEvo to look for the environmental benefits of the company's crops. Dr May and Dr Dewar are testing AgrEvo's crops for the department of the environment. In the past year the government has made great play that all official GM committees should be seen to be completely independent, after it was shown that many of its advisers had direct involvement with the biotech industry.

** 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: Fri, 6 Aug 1999 06:32:02 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-5

Monsanto Faces Growing Skepticism on Two Fronts

By DAVID BARBOZA, New York Times, pg C1, August 5, 1999

CHICAGO – After spending more than $8 billion in the past two years to acquire some of the world's largest seed companies and millions more to pioneer in the development of genetically engineered foods, Monsanto Co. is facing growing skepticism about its debt management and mounting resistance to some of its bio-engineered crops. ...

The most stunning setback for Monsanto came this year in Europe, where opposition to what some dubbed "Frankenstein Foods" led the European Union to slow approval of genetically modified crops. As a result, some of the world's largest food processors say they will not accept genetically modified crops for export.


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Date: Fri, 6 Aug 1999 06:32:02 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-5

Biopiracy: need to change Western IPR systems

By Vandana Shiva, THE HINDU, Wednesday, July 28, 1999

The patents on the anti-diabetic properties of `karela', `jamun', brinjal once again highlight the problem of biopiracy - the patenting of indigenous biodiversity-related knowledge.

U.S. Patent No. 5,900,240 was granted recently to Cromak Research Inc., based in New Jersey. The assignees are two non-resident Indians, Onkar S. Tomer and Kripanath Borah, and their colleague, Peter Gloniski.

The use of `karela', `jamun' and brinjal for control of diabetes is common knowledge and everyday practice in India. Their use in the treatment of Wealth of Treatise . . No patent should be given where prior art exists, since patents are supposed to be granted only for new inventions on the basis of novelty and non- obviousness. These criteria establish inventiveness, and patents are exclusive rights granted for inventions.

The claim to the use of `karela' or `jamun' for anti-diabetic treatment as an invention is false since such use has been known and documented widely in India.

Biopiracy and patenting of indigenous knowledge is a double theft because first it allows theft of creativity and innovation, and secondly, the exclusive rights established by patents on stolen knowledge and steal economic options of everyday survival on the basis of our indigenous biodiversity and indigenous knowledge.


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Date: Fri, 6 Aug 1999 06:32:02 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-5

Thanks to Dianne for forwarding this from planetark@planetark.org

=================================================================
World Environment News - August 5, 1999 from Planet Ark

Click on the link below the headline to check out the full story, or go to the Planet Ark news page at http://www.planetark.org/news
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Reuters 'World Environment News' headlines (Internet).

UK – Church of England bars GM crop trials http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=2802

Australian farmers see holes in gene label rule - AUSTRALIA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=2811

Japan risks U.S. ire with GMO label plan - JAPAN http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=2809

Japan to start random checks on GM crop imports - JAPAN http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=2810

Check out the latest Reuters Environment News Photographs: http://www.planetark.org/envpicshome.cfm

This service is brought to you thanks to sponsorship from Reuters and The Body Shop

=================================================================
'World Environment News' is copyright © Planet Ark 1999
All headlines are copyright © Reuters 1999
=================================================================

Cutting Crops Latest Greenpeace Protest In one of the strangest forms of environmental warfare, activists dressed in white decontamination suits are cutting down genetically modified crops in the English countryside. FULL STORY: http://newsworld.cbc.ca/cgi-bin/go.pl?1999/08/05/crops990805

** 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, 9 Aug 1999 11:13:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-8

Label GM Foods Says US Trade Group

The US National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA), a trade group representing the interests of retailers and manufacturers of dietary supplements, natural foods and other products, has called for genetically modified (GM) foods to be labelled as such. The association has also vowed to aggressively seek legislation requiring such labelling. The executive director of the NNFA, Michael Q. Ford, commented, "The public has a right to know what they are eating. If a food product contains GMOs, then it should be stated on the label."

Ref: National Nutritional Foods Association, USA.
Tel: +1 (949) 622 6272     Fax: +1 (949) 622 6266     URL: http://www.nnfa.org


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Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 11:13:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-8

Monsanto welcomes label move

by Murray Willocks, The Evening Post, New Zealand, August 5, 1999

Labelling will take the mystique out of genetically modified food, according to the New Zealand head of American biotechnology giant [ Monsanto

Monsanto has led the way in genetically engineering crops to, among other things, make them pesticide resistant - work that has drawn heavy criticism.

New Zealand and Australian Health Ministers on Tuesday decided all foods containing genetically modified ingredients should be labelled.

Mr Willocks said the company supported labelling and consumer choice. Such labelling would help customers learn about and accept genetic engineering.

Mr Willocks said processes to test whether foods had modified ingredients were being developed, and Monsanto had supplied samples to companies developing the tests.

Two of New Zealand's biggest food manufacturers, Heinz Watties and Goodman Fielder, are checking whether they use such ingredients.

A Heinz Watties spokeswoman yesterday said it was working towards becoming free of the ingredients. It had already switched some ingredients but couldn't give details.

So far, costs incurred in the switch hadn't been passed on to consumers, she said.

Goodman Fielder spokeswoman Jackie Crossman said its audit hadn't yet affected prices. Goodman Fielder sells bread under the Quality Bakers, Vogel and Molenberg labels.

Dick Hubbard, of Hubbard Foods, said its breakfast cereals were already free of genetically modified ingredients. Hubbard Foods had responded to customer demand and switched from using soya oil which could be genetically modified to GM-free European canola oil.

Prices for both oils were similar at present so the change hadn't affected costs, Mr Hubbard said. ...

Health Ministry assignments manager David Curry said about 5700 food labelling submissions were received during public consultation earlier this year. ...

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

LEFTOVERS

While Australian and New Zealand health ministers have voted to label genetically modified foods, the detail of exactly what will be labelled and how has still be decided.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 11:13:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-8

Japan risks U.S. ire with GMO label plan

August 5, 1999 TOKYO, Reuters [EB] via NewsEdge Corporation

Japan's Agriculture Ministry, under pressure from consumers, proposed on Wednesday that foods made with genetically altered crops be specially labelled – a move that could spark trade tensions with the United States.

Japan, believed to be the world's biggest importer of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is heavily dependent on farm imports from the United States, the world's largest producer of genetically altered crops.

The United States has warned that if Japan implements mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods, it could mislead consumers about food safety and disrupt agricultural trade.

Japan has approved 22 varieties of GMOs under its safety guidelines, including soybeans, corn, rapeseed, potatoes, cotton and tomatoes, but the ministry said labelling requirements should be imposed on these crops and food products that use them in order to allow consumers to make an informed choice of foods.


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Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 11:13:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-8

Next article posted by creuss@bluewin.ch (Christoph Reuss)

Problems With Genetically Engineered Insulin

For more details, see

http://www.swissdiabetes.ch/~fis2/englvers/englnews.htm

Posted by "Evidence that thousands of diabetics in Britain may have suffered a deterioration in their health from genetically-engineered insulin has been withheld by the British Diabetics Association, whose role is to advise patients and to protect their interests.

The evidence was contained in a report, commissioned by the association and completed in 1993, which highlighted dangers faced by about 10 per cent of the 150,000 diabetics who had been switched from the traditional animal-derived insulin to genetically-engineered human insulin.

Some adversely affected began, without warning, to go into comas, known as hypoglycaemic episodes or "hypos". Some suffered severe injuries, a few crashed their cars, and others believed they would have died had they not been rescued as they lay unconscious. An estimated 15,000 people may still suffer because they are injecting themselves twice a day with insulin that may not suit them.

[...]

The 3,000 letters of complaint written to the British Diabetic Association by patients, their relatives and doctors concerned the deterioration in their condition since being moved from animal insulin to genetically-engineered human insulin. After analysing nearly 400 of the letters, Natasha Posner, an independent researchers commissioned by the DBA, said: Many correspondents reported that a diabetic condition which had been stable and controlled over many years and allowed a full and normal Iife, suddenly changed and became problematic and life disrupting. For people experiencing these difficulties, the cost in terms of immediate negative effects far out-weighed any possible long term benefits of this new insulin."


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Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 11:13:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-8

Japan Unveils Label Plans For Genetically- Altered Food

Tokyo, Aug 05, 1999 (Asia Pulse Via Comtex) -

- The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries unveiled draft regulations Wednesday that will require 28 food items containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled as such, starting in April 2001. Producers and importers will have to put special labels on soybeans, corn and potatoes, as well as processed products, if they obviously contain GMOs or if GMO genes or proteins can be detected.

The draft regulations cover tofu and corn snacks but exclude soy sauce and oils, which are highly processed and difficult to analyze for GMOs. Intermediary products and animal feed are also excluded, as is liquor. Labels on genetically modified soybeans and products that clearly contain GMOs will read, "soybeans (gene-altered)."

If the GMO content cannot be determined, the product will be labeled, "corn (may be gene-altered)." And if GMO ingredients make up less than 5% of the product by weight, or the food does not contain any GMOs at all, the producer can label it as "not genetically altered."

Violators will have their names disclosed to the public or be ordered to change their practices.

The exclusion of soy sauce and soy oil is drawing criticism from consumer groups, however, because the products account for more than 70% of the soybeans in domestic distribution - 80-90% of them imports from the U.S., a major producer of genetically altered crops. (Nikkei)

(C) 1999 Asia Pulse Pte Ltd Copyright 1999


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Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 11:13:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-8

U.S. study raises new questions about GM crops

LONDON (Reuters) U.S. scientists Wednesday threw a new question into the simmering cauldron of confusion about the effects of genetically modified (GM) crops.

Research by Yong-Biao Liu of the University of Arizona cast doubt on the common strategy of planting refuges of non-GM cotton close to a GM variety to slow the spread of insects that might develop resistance to a pest-killing toxin in GM cotton. Liu studied Bt cotton, a variety engineered to contain the insect-killing bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis.

His research was published in the science journal Nature on Wednesday and was reviewed by Michael Crawley of Imperial College in Ascot, Britain. Liu and his colleagues found that a laboratory-bred, Bt-resistant pink bollworm took longer to develop into a mature adult moth than larvae feeding on non- Bt cotton.

The main implication of the study is that it calls into question the 'refuge strategy' of reducing or delaying the evolution of resistance to Bt toxin," Crawley wrote.

"If the insects develop to sexual maturity at different speeds, interbreeding is less likely or impossible and so may well speed the development of resistance and reduce the benefits of the GM crop."

This is because both types of moth mate within three days of hatching and males only live for about a week. If the new findings match what actually happens in the field, it would mean that Bt-resistant bollworms would mate with each other.

Crawley pointed out that this was just one study and, on its own, was not very significant.

"These little studies are interesting because they show the things that could happen but they don't resolve the problems because they don't consider the effect over the whole life cycle (of the insect)," Crawley told Reuters.

He said more comprehensive studies were possible but raised the question of who would finance them.


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Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 11:13:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-8

Are these new bio-crops safe?

By Alex Salkever, Special to The Christian Science Monitor, August 5 -

Research shows gene-modified plants can produce unintended effects

It is an issue capturing attention from Paris to Peoria: Are genetically altered crops safe?

In Europe, a public backlash has forced many food companies to ban genetically engineered products from store shelves.

Now, however, new evidence is showing that some genetically altered crops can cause unintended consequences - which could spur more resistance to the booming bio-agriculture industry in the United States. The latest sign: A study in the journal Nature that implies genetically modified cotton can promote resistance to pesticides in a well-known - and much feared - parasite. In the US, acceptance of the technology is widespread: Most of the nation's wheat and corn, for example, is genetically modified.

The research comes in the wake of a study in May showing Monarch butterflies die after contacting pollen from genetically engineered corn. Moreover, last week the country's largest baby food manufacturer, Gerber, announced it would stop using genetically engineered soy and corn products because of public concern - warranted or not - about safety. I think this is another small piece that tells us to be conservative," says Fred Gould, a North Carolina State University entomologist, of the news in Nature. "I think that what we need is a lot more science and a lot less talk."

Yet one group that is talking a lot more is environmentalists. They have seized on the latest research to buttress their claims that genetically engineered crops could pose a danger to people and the environment. "There may be long term effects that we may not see for many years but could have serious detrimental impacts on brain development and organ development," says says Charles Margulis, a genetic issues specialist with Greenpeace.

...

In the findings published today in Nature, researchers at the University of Arizona document a flaw in a technique that causes plants to produce their own natural pesticide. The study focuses on the fight against the pink bollworm, a pest that preys on cotton. Scientists have been splicing into cotton -as well as corn and other plants - a gene that produces a bug-killing chemical. Organic farmers have sprayed this bacteria on crops on rare occasions as a safer alternative to chemical treatments.

But the pests can develop a resistance to the bacteria. To counteract this, scientists plant genetically altered crops alongside regular crops. Under this "refuge strategy," bollworms that eat the altered crops - and eventually develop a resistance - will breed with bollworms that have not. The result is a slowing of the generations of insects that inherit a resistance. The danger

Here's the problem: The life cycle of insects eating the genetically engineered cotton is delayed five or six days, altering their mating cycles. As the Arizona researchers point out, this may undermine the refuge strategy - and thus diminish the effectiveness of the natural pesticides. This prospect especially worries organic farmers, who often use the natural pesticides as their last line of defense against crop-destroying pests.

Despite these concerns, few scientists advocate a ban on the development and use of genetically engineered crops, which farmers are already planting in vast amounts. But some do say the bollworms and Monarchs are evidence that a go-slow approach is warranted. "This is just one more of those studies that shows that all the ideal assumptions are not being met," says Mr. Gould.


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Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 11:13:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-8

Genetic Stew Boils In Brazil

By Laurie Goering Tribune Foreign Correspondent
August 05, 1999 LONDRINA, Brazil – Chicago Tribune August 5

South American giant struggles to decide whether to plant a genetically modified soy crop, a risky proposition.

The rolling green hills of southern Brazil, checkered with red-dirt farm fields awaiting spring planting, don't look like an international battleground.

But that is what Brazil, the world's second-largest soybean producer after the U.S., has become this season as the country struggles to decide whether to permit the planting of genetically modified soybeans for the first time.

Pressured by eager U.S. seed dealers, worried European consumers, environmental opponents and Brazilian farmers eager to use the technology, Brazil has yet to make a final ruling on the planting of what would be the country's first genetically altered crop. Experts say the decision might prove crucial in determining whether such crops, called transgenic, continue their spread internationally, and even whether they continue to thrive in the U.S.

Brazil is critically important to the rate of biotech adoption or decline," said Steven Sonka, an economist and agricultural strategist with the National Soybean Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. "It will be closely watched by the rest of the world." Transgenic soybeans – plants engineered to resist pests or tolerate herbicides using genes borrowed from other species – have been enthusiastically adopted in the United States since their introduction in 1996. ...

Fully 60 percent of the processed food products on American store shelves contain some kind of genetically modified ingredients, food safety experts estimate. ...

Though Germany is among the world leaders in genetically modified crop research, England and France have banned transgenics from supermarket shelves and the European Union appears to be moving to prohibit the importation of transgenic foods for at least three years, a nightmare scenario for U.S. farmers.

"It's a mess to say the least," said Lisa Zannoni, a biotech consultant to the European Association of Plant Protection. Canada, the world's second biggest biotech crop user, has half of its canola oil acreage in transgenics and about 40 percent of its small corn crop. Argentina, the third biggest user, has planted 20 percent of its soybean acreage in so-called Roundup Ready soybeans, the same herbicide-resistant variety Brazil is considering as its first transgenic.

In India, anti-transgenic activists said angry farmers have burned fields of genetically modified crops. China, which does not acknowledge U.S. patents, is developing its own transgenic tobacco and tomatoes. Japan is showing signs of following Europe's retreat from transgenics.

Nowhere, though, is the dispute over transgenics stickier than in Brazil, Latin America's largest nation with 160 million people and its largest agricultural producer.

Earlier this year, Brazil's agricultural ministry approved Monsanto's request to begin selling Roundup Ready soybeans in Brazil, after years of testing.

Brazil's Institute of Consumer Defense and Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources reacted quickly

In June, a federal judge in Brasilia reversed the approval, banning transgenic seed until the country finishes writing more complete rules governing the sale and use of transgenic foods.

The judge also insisted that Monsanto present an environmental impact statement showing that Roundup Ready soybeans will not produce any damage to the environment or consumers.

"This decision is a huge victory for those concerned with the impacts of transgenics in the environment and public health," said Karen Suassuna of Greenpeace Brazil.


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Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 11:13:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-8

WSJ(8/5): Bugs May Resist New Crops Faster Than Expected

By Scott Kilman Staff Reporter, The Wall Street Journal

University of Arizona scientists said some insects might be able to develop resistance to the biotechnology industry's new bug-proof cotton plants more quickly than expected.

The peer-reviewed laboratory study, which is being published in today's issue of the science magazine Nature, signals that some genetically modified plants might become obsolete sooner than their inventors had planned. Biotechnology executives were quick to challenge the study, saying among other things that it didn't resemble actual field conditions.

But if follow-up field studies find similar results, the Environmental Protection Agency would likely have to change the rules that farmers must follow in order to plant the novel crops. The EPA rules are designed to prevent so-called "super bugs" from evolving.

"There are some real concerns that resistance can evolve," said Bruce E. Tabashnik, head of the Tucson-based University of Arizona's entomology department and an author of the study. "Some strategies might need to be changed."


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Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 11:13:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-8

Australia: Ministers Down Under Mandate Biotech Food Lables, Allow Loophole

By Bob Burton CANBERRA, Australia, August 4, 1999 (ENS)

Some genetically modified foods will carry identifying labels but Australian and New Zealand health ministers have created a loophole that has angered consumer and environmental groups. After a tense seven-hour meeting Wednesday, Australian and New Zealand health ministers reached a compromise agreement that requires only some genetically modified foods to be labelled.

The Australian New Zealand Food Standards Council ministers have "agreed to require mandatory labelling of foods produced using gene technology and food in containing genetically modified ingredients."

Chair of the Food Standards Council, Australian Senator Grant Tambling, said that under the agreement some foods produced using gene technology would not need to be labelled if they fall below an as yet undetermined "threshold level" of genetically modified material.

Australian Consumers Association Policy Officer, Mara Bun, rejects the concept of threshold levels. "The idea of threshold levels for modified ingredients in foods to trigger disclosure is unlikely to be accepted by consumers. Consumers want to know absolutely, whether the foods they eat do or don't contain even small amounts of modified ingredients or ingredients obtained from modified plants," she said.

"Threshold levels can be eliminated if food companies are required to audit their supply of ingredients for genetic status. It's planned to apply this method to qualify for a 'NON-GM' label, so it should also be used for disclosing the presence of any GM ingredients" Bun said.


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Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 11:13:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-8

Genetically Modified Food: Alarmingly Out of Control

By Claude Martin, International Herald Tribune (Neuilly-sur-Seine, France)
August 5, 1999,

A passionate debate is under way in many countries over the use of genes are introduced to make them resistant to pests and adverse weather conditions. So far the main concern has been human health. But unless more research is carried out before these crops are used, the real victim could be the global environment. That could be a major disaster for the welfare of the planet and its inhabitants.

Throughout history, one of the strongest forces driving the development of human society has been concern for health. Many fundamental scientific and technological advances have occurred as a result of the desire to control or eradicate disease, and to improve the quality and duration of our lives. In the 20th century, a huge industry has grown up dedicated to the promotion and achievement of good health and prolonged fitness. It covers everything from drugs and medical technology to our lifestyle habits and the food we eat.

Most recently, a near obsession with health has led to renewed interest in traditional medicine and in the potential of biological treasures, such as those contained in tropical forests. These forests harbora vast array of plant species with possible medicinal value.

At the same time, however, the health industry and public expectations have combined to produce new branches of science based on interference with the fundamental materials of life. The study of genetics is not new. What is different now is the ability of scientists to manipulate genetic material easily for the production of drugs. -

But genetic engineering has also responded to the other great current theory on health, which concerns diet. The race is on to create almost unlimited quantities of what is considered to be good, healthy and affordable food. Here, though, genetic manipulation has run into trouble. Fears are growing that genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, will produce food that is itself dangerous to health.

** 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: Tue, 10 Aug 1999 12:11:01 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-9

GM food protesters call for debate

Irish Times, Aug 9, 1999

Campaigners against genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) who yesterday protested at a GM sugar beet trial site in east Cork last night called for a full debate on the issue within the Irish Farmers Association.

According to an anti-GMO activist, Mr Stuart McIntyre, yesterday's protest at field trials by the food giant, [ Monsanto ] , on the farm of Mr Dick Fitzgerald, at Ballymaloe, had helped to highlight the dangers of GM sugar beet.

"I think the next step is to get together with Dick Fitzgerald and his buddies in the IFA and open a serious debate about this whole issue of GMOs rather than having two sides shouting across a fence at each other," he said.


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Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1999 12:11:01 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-9

Thanks to mritchie@iatp.org for posting this critique of the safety of Roundup Ready Soybeans

Dr. Judy Carman, PhD MPH, Epidemiologist and Senior Lecturer, at the Research Centre for Injury Studies, Flinders University, in Southern Australia. E-mail: judy.carman@nisu.flinders.edu.au

The Problem with the Safety of Roundup Ready Soybeans

Judy Carman, MPH, PhD Flinders University.

The following is a critique of the methods used by Monsanto in their assessment that their product, Roundup Ready soybeans, also known as glyphosate-tolerant soybean line 40-3-2, is safe for human and animal consumption. The methods critiqued are those that appear in the 'Full Assessment Report and Regulatory Impact Assessment'(by Monsanto) to ANZFA (The Australian and New Zealand Food Authority).

The pesticide 'Roundup' works by inhibiting an enzyme that is necessary for the plant to synthesise certain aromatic amino acids, killing the plant. The targeted enzyme is called 5-enolpyruvyl shikimate-3-phosphate synthetase, or EPSPS. The genetic modification in Roundup Ready soybeans involves incorporating a bacterial version of this enzyme, (from Agrobacterium species, strain CP4) into the soybean plant, giving the soybean protection from Roundup. In this way, the soybeans and any weeds can be sprayed with Roundup, killing the weeds and leaving the soybeans.

Because of the way that this gene was incorporated into soybeans, several other genes are also present. They are: the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter, the EPSPS chloroplast transit protein (CTP) sequence from petunias and the 3' untranslated region of the nopaline synthetase gene (NOS3'). The ANZFA document completely omits discussion of the first and last of these genes and their proteins. For the petunia CTP, the applicant document states: '...it is generally accepted that the chloroplast transit peptides are rapidly degraded after cleavage in vivo by cellular proteases.' That is, results from other general experiments are relied-upon and no evidence is provided that they have measured this to be the case in Roundup Ready soybeans.

The application states that the only new protein in these soybeans would be the EPSPS enzyme. They determined the ability of this EPSPS to be digested by setting-up an in vitro mammalian gastric and intestinal mixture. It was not stated how this was done. It could involve something as primitive as a beaker on a laboratory bench with substances in it and stirred occasionally, not something that approaches a live gut. In vitro experiments should be repeated using at least a chemostat. In vivo experiments should also be done, to determine the digestibility of this enzyme and other proteins expressed in this plant, their effects on intestinal structure and function and any ability of this enzyme to cross the gut wall.

The document also states that as people cook soybeans before consumption, this would deactivate the enzyme and thus people would not consume it. However, raw soybeans will be fed to cattle. Steak is often served medium rare to rare. Therefore, there is a possibility that people will consume this new still-functional enzyme in their diet. As this does not seem to have been considered by the applicant company, there seem to have been no studies measuring quantities of this enzyme in cattle tissue, the ability of the enzyme to persist during moderate cooking or the effect that the enzyme would have on animals including humans.

A common soybean product in the people's diets is lecithin, used as an emulsifier in food. The application classed lecithin as a food additive and so it was not even considered in the assessment.

Soon after the application for GM soybeans was submitted, an application was also submitted to ANZFA to permit the allowable limit of glyphosate in soybeans to be increased 200-fold. It appears that Monsanto may be expecting much higher levels of glyphosate to be in Roundup Ready soybeans. However, the soybeans assessed in the application were not treated with Roundup. They are therefore not equivalent to the soybeans that will come out of paddocks for human consumption. Experiments should be repeated with soybeans harvested from farms.

The applicant company compared Roundup Ready soybeans to ordinary soybeans for: moisture, fibre, ash, protein, amino acids, fatty acids, seed storage, trypsin inhibitor, lectin, isoflavone, raffinose and stachyose. They found no significant differences but the sample sizes used are not given in the ANZFA document. Nor are sample size calculations to justify the sample sizes that were used. If too small a sample size is used, any differences that may exist between Roundup Ready soybeans and ordinary soybeans will not be found. This is called 'the Type I error', and is a serious scientific fault. For the amino acid analyses, they also stated that no difference would be expected between Roundup Ready soybeans sprayed and not sprayed with Roundup, without apparently measuring whether this would be the case. Yet, Roundup is designed to interrupt the biochemical pathway that makes some amino acids.

A similar, and potentially more serious sample size problem occurs in the animal experiments. Here, 10 rats per sex per group (presumably this means 20 rats per group) were fed soy meal ad libitum from ordinary soybeans and Roundup Ready soybeans at various soy meal concentrations. Twenty rats per group is a very small number of rats with which to try and find statistical significance. They measured total body weight, and at the end of the experiments, the weights of some organs. They appear to have done no biochemistry, immunology, full autopsy, histology (except on pancreas), etc. They only fed animals for 4 weeks. The document did not report any trends from the low-level consumption groups to the higher-consumption groups of rats.

Similar studies were done on chickens and cows, presumably to reassure farmers that Roundup Ready soybeans would not reduce the quality of their animal-derived end product. A reasonable number of chickens (60 birds/sex) were fed for about a month, but only breast muscles and abdominal fat pads seem to have been removed and weighed at the end of the study. Similarly, groups of 5-6 Holstein dairy cows were fed uncooked soybeans. This is a totally inadequate sample size and would not be expected to show any differences between the groups. Yet a difference was found. Roundup Ready soybean-fed cows produced more fat-corrected milk, explained as being due to a slight increase in food intake. This mirrored a similar result in the chickens, where a slight increase in food consumption was found. They also found 'some minor differences between treated groups and the negative controls with regard to body weight gains and food consumption which may be related to palatability' for rats fed processed soy beans. Although such differences may have become significant with larger sample sizes, this does not appear to have been done and these results were not further investigated by the company.

Monsanto also investigated what was described as immunological effects of the soybeans. These were basically allergenic effects. Their experiments were done on pooled blood samples, found Roundup Ready soybeans to be as allergenic as ordinary soybeans, and stated that as known allergens tend to be glysolated, and as the EPSPS was not found to be glysolated, there should be no extra allergenic effects from this soybean. They appear to have done no human trials, however, to test this hypothesis.

At least the following studies should be done by independent researchers:

  1. Chemical analyses of Roundup Ready soybeans from farmers' fields to determine the range of glyphosate levels in such soybeans and how they compare to non genetically-modified soybeans.

  2. Long-term feeding studies using laboratory animals of different doses of glyphosate to quite high levels, if they have not already been done.

  3. Long-term feeding studies on laboratory animals, with (1) ordinary soybeans (control group), (2) Roundup Ready soybeans without Roundup applied and (3) Roundup Ready soybeans from farmers' fields (ie with Roundup applied). This would differentiate any health effects due to genetic modification vs glyphosate. For these animal studies (ie, 2. and 3.), at least the following tests should be done: food intake, body weight, full biochemistry, full immunology, liver function, kidney function, tumour investigation, the rate of death in each group, and a full autopsy on the animals at death, including intestinal section and histology. Animals should also be allowed to breed to determine any effects in their offspring.

  4. Randomised, double-blind feeding trials should be done with human volunteers over at least several months. They should be randomly assigned to one of the 3 feeding groups as in point 3., above. At least the following should be measured: body weight, full biochemistry, full immunology, liver function, kidney function, allergenic potential and general health.

  5. In countries where Roundup Ready soybeans are permitted, cohort studies containing low-level through to high-level consumers of this product should be established to follow people over many years to check for long-term health effects.

In summary, I believe that the scientific basis, provided by the applicant company for considering that Roundup Ready soybeans are safe for animal and human consumption, is seriously flawed. No other, independent investigations seem to have been done. It could be expected that the safety assessments of other genetically modified foods may be as flawed.

Independent testing of these foods is urgently required, incorporating long-term animal and human experiments. As these will take years, it would be wise to place on a moratorium on these foods for 5 years, as suggested by European groups, while these investigations are done. To do otherwise could be likened to permitting a giant feeding experiment on millions of people.

Furthermore, the description that oils and other products derived from genetically-modified foods contain no genetically modified material is also flawed. It could not be expected that such products would be so pure that they would contain nil plant tissue or genetic material or protein. To expect this would be to expect the equivalent of analytical-reagent grade chemical purity from a food-stuff. These products also need rigorous testing, as described above.

Finally, the applicant companies appear to be resisting the labelling of genetically-modified foods or their derived products, such as oils. In countries where these foods and their derivatives are permitted, they should be labelled so that consumers can make their own decision about whether to buy them or not, and so that consumers can reassess their decision as information is provided about the relative safety of these products over the next few years.


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Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1999 12:11:01 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-9

Canadian Farmers Seek Compensation for "Genetic Pollution"

by Brian Hoyle, Nature Biotechnology Vol. 17, August 1999

Brian Hoyle, a science writer based in Bedford, Nova Scotia, Canada, writes that five years after genetically modified (GM) crops became available for use in Canada, the Canadian National Farmers Union (NFU; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) is lobbying the Canadian federal government to legislate industry compensation for unintended genetic alteration of crops. NFU members, which include both organic farmers and those who grow GM crops, decry the "genetic pollution that has infringed on the livelihoods of farmers or the general public."

The move follows the NFU's annual meeting last December, in which a resolution was passed opposing the use of GM organisms. NFU spokesperson Stewart Wells was quoted as saying, agricultural biotechnology is a "gigantic experiment." To Wells, an organic farmer from the province of Saskatchewan, it is the airborne contamination of his canola with GM varieties of canola that is a problem.

Ann Clark, an agronomist at the University of Guelph in the province of Ontario, was quoted as saying, "Canola pollen can move up to 8 kilometers; [pollen from] corn and potatoes, about 1 kilometer," citing New Scientist (vol. 160, issue 2158, 1998) "Wind is only one of the ways pollen moves. Canola pollen, for example, is carried by pollinators."

The Canadian government's national standards for organic agriculture, announced in April, prohibit the use of GM organisms but have yet to define a tolerance level for genetic pollution. Under the threat of airborne contamination, Wells and other organic farmers could lose their organic certification because it will be impossible to guarantee that their produce is free of genetically engineered traits.

The story says that organic crop production represents a significant segment of the Canadian agri-food industry, approaching Canadian $1 billion dollars (US$0.68 billion) in sales annually. Sales are growing at 20% per year, according to the Canadian Organic Advisory Board. However, the nation's farmers have already lost markets for canola in Europe – from 83 tonnes in '94/95 to 20 tonnes in '97/98, according to Canola Council of Canada figures – some of which is attributed to uncertainty over whether the Canadian canola is genetically pure. Clark was quoted as saying, "Exports are being vastly hurt right now." The story says further lossses in canola markets would be a blow to the Canadian economy; canola seed exports accounted for 22% of Canada's agrifood exports in 1997.

Moreover, farmers who cultivate GM varieties also claim to be affected by "genetic pollution." Tony Huethers, a canola farmer in the province of Alberta, planted several GM cultivars purchased from Monsanto (St. Louis, MO) in 1997. One field was sown with Quest, a Roundup (glyphosate)-resistant cultivar. Another field, 30 meters away across an intervening road, was sown with Innovator, a Liberty (glufosinate)-resistant cultivar, and 45A71, a cultivar resistant to Pursuit (imazethapyr).

The intervening distance between the fields exceeded the standard buffer zone of 6 meters. Two applications of Roundup herbicide last year to the field sown with Innovator and 45A71 killed all the weeds but revealed glyphosate-resistant canola in the field sown with the other cultivars. The population was thickest near the road. Airborne dispersal of pollen from the glyphosate resistant plants was suspected, given that the nearest source of natural pollination, a commercial bee hive, was 13 kilometers away.

But such a stand is bound to be controversial, both in Canada and abroad. On one hand, Canadian farmers, who are major exporters of genetically modified crops such as canola, potatoes, corn and soybeans, are facing rising barriers to trade from the European Union, Japan and Brazil. The EU, for example, will not import any Canadian canola even though Canadian regulators say it is perfectly safe.


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Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1999 12:11:01 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-9

next article posted by "Maynard S. Clark" vrc@tiac.net 10 Aug 99

Insects Chewing Into Monsanto's Profits?

Wall Street Journal, Scott Kilman, 08.05.99

Some insects may be able to develop resistance to genetically modified cotton plants more quickly than expected, rendering the plants obsolete sooner than developer Monsanto anticipated, according to research published in today's issue of the journal Nature. If follow-up field studies yield similar results, the U.S. EPA would likely have to change its rules regarding genetically modified crops. Biotech executives disputed the study, saying, among other things, that it didn't replicate actual field conditions. Meanwhile, growing opposition to genetically modified crops seems to be contributing to a less rosy financial outlook for Monsanto.

BBC News, 08.05.99 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_412000/412198.stm

New York Times, David Barboza, 08.05.99 http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/news/financial/monsanto-seed.html


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Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1999 12:11:01 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-9

Africa seeks laws on GM food exports

by Ehsan Masood, Nature, August 5, 1999 -

African countries are to be asked to introduce legislation that would make it illegal for a country to export genetically modified (GM) food without first seeking permission from the importing country. The move comes in response to the collapse of talks on an international biosafety protocol earlier this year (see Nature 398, 6; 1999). African countries had wanted to insert a clause to this effect in the protocol, but this suggestion was strongly opposed by a consortium of grain-exporting countries led by the United States, and known as the Miami group.

** 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.