13 August 99

Table of Contents

Monsanto GM food ads found to mislead
First Joint Petition by Major Green Groups on Gene-Altered Crops
US Acts to Lengthen Term of Patents to Help Biotechnology
Dr A. Pusztai: Why I Cannot Remain Silent
GE - Resource list from Luke Anderson

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Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 15:44:09 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-11

Monsanto GM food ads found to mislead

By Linus Gregoriadis, Wednesday August 11, 1999

Four complaints to watchdog upheld, while nine are rejected

Monsanto, the US based food company, has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for misleading the public about its genetically modified food and crops.

In a report published today, the authority has upheld four complaints made by environmental groups about Monsanto's 1998 UK advertising campaign.

One complaint was over wrongly suggesting that GM potatoes had been approved by government regulatory agencies in 20 countries including the UK. Another complaint upheld concerned a newspaper advert which could have given the impression that the benefits of GM tomatoes were proved.

The company was also ordered not to say it had carried out tests measuring the impact of GM techniques on human and environmental safety for the past 20 years, and not to claim as fact that cross-species gene transference to plants was an extension of traditional cross- breeding.

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Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 15:44:09 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-11

First Joint Petition by Major Green Groups on Gene-Altered Crops

Contact: Jane Rissler or Margaret Mellon
Wednesday, August 11, 1999 Tel. (202) 332-0900

Scientists, Environmentalists Urge EPA to Protect Butterflies

For the first time in the biotechnology debate in the United States, a group of national environmental organizations is jointly urging federal action in response to a potential threat to the environment from genetically engineered crops. In a letter sent on Tuesday, August 10, the Union of Concerned Scientists, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and Defenders of Wildlife called on the Environmental Protection Agency to restrict plantings of Bt corn and strengthen programs for identifying and assessing the environmental risks of genetically engineered crops which it regulates.

The letter responds to the concerns raised by a recent Cornell University report that pollen from Bt corn may threaten monarch and other butterflies and moths. Prior to its approval, EPA evaluated the environmental risks of Bt corn but did not uncover the threat of toxic pollen to butterflies.

The groups are urging EPA to refrain from registering or extending the existing registrations of any Bt-corn varieties until it can assure the public that the corn pollen is not a danger to the monarch or other rare, endangered, or threatened butterflies and moths. All Bt-corn varieties currently on the market were approved under temporary registrations that will expire in either 2000 or 2001. Because the existing registrations allow Bt corn to be planted next year, the groups are asking EPA to require borders of non-Bt corn around Bt varieties in the 2000 growing season to reduce the flow of toxic pollen outside corn fields.

A copy of the letter can be found on the UCS web site at HYPERLINK under News Releases, or call Jane Rissler or Rich Hayes at 202-332-0900.

Ms. Carol Browner
Environmental Protection Agency
401 M Street, SW
Washington, DC 20460

RE: Toxic Bt-Corn Pollen and the Monarch Butterfly

Dear Ms. Browner:

On behalf of the Union of Concerned Scientists, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and Defenders of Wildlife, we are writing to urgently request that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restrict the planting of Bt corn and strengthen programs for identifying and assessing the environmental risks of genetically engineered crops regulated by EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

We make this request in the wake of the preliminaryóbut very disturbingóreport that Bt-corn pollen is toxic to monarch butterflies at concentrations approximating those found in nature and that the widespread planting of Bt corn may threaten the monarch and other butterflies and moths.

Monarch butterflies are already under pressure as a result of changes in their overwintering habitats. Additional threats to monarch populations feeding on toxic corn pollen as they migrate through the Midwest are of serious concern.

EPA failed to assess risks of toxic pollen to nontarget Lepidoptera. In documents supporting the approval of Bt corn, the Agency neither mentioned nor assessed the likelihood that pollen from transgenic corn would have an impact on monarchs or any other nontarget Lepidopteran species. Of special concern is the failure to evaluate impacts on the 18 moths and butterflies listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The toxic effects of Bt-corn pollen on monarchs are not surprising as the Bt-corn toxins are specific to Lepidoptera, an insect group which includes both the target pest, the European corn borer, and the monarch butterfly. (Indeed, the category of risksópotential effects of transgenic pesticidal plants on nontarget relatives of the target pestsówas identified by UCS in its 1996 report, Ecological Risks of Engineered Crops. ) Moreover, it is not surprising that some nontarget Lepidoptera, even though they do not feed on corn, may be exposed to the toxin through pollen, as corn pollen is readily carried by wind and insects beyond corn fields.

Failure to examine such an obvious risk is a major deficiency in a regulatory program billed around the world as thorough and comprehensive. It raises serious questions about the scientific adequacy of the Agencyís ecological evaluation of transgenic crops. One cannot help but wonder what other, perhaps less obvious, environmental impacts of genetically engineered crops have been missed by EPA.

The inadequacy of the ecological assessment is of even greater concern in view of the rapid adoption of transgenic crops. In 1998, Bt-corn varieties were planted on 20 million acres or approximately one fourth of the corn acreage in the United States.

Bt corn may offer little environmental benefit. A major selling point for Bt crops is their promise to reduce applications of chemical pesticides. However, it appears that substituting Bt corn for regular corn may do little to decrease synthetic insecticide use. First, farmers do not typically use pesticides to kill corn borers in field corn, which makes up all but a small percentage of the corn acreage in the United States. According to an industry plan for Bt-resistance management, ì[f]or the vast majority of corn acres (>90%) Ö growers are unlikely to treat with insecticides to control the corn borer. In addition, since borer populations reach economic thresholds only episodically, many farmers willing to spray may choose not to do so in most years.

Second, even when corn is treated, the adoption of Bt varieties may not substantially reduce the use of insecticides. A report sponsored by the Biotechnology Industry Organization estimated that the introduction of Bt corn reduced insecticide use on only 2.5% of the total US corn acreage in 1998. Preliminary US Department of Agriculture data for the Heartland region showed a slight reduction in insecticide use in 1997 for corn borers on Bt compared to non-Bt corn, and no difference in insecticide use for other corn pests. Recommendations.

Agricultural biotechnology is a novel and incompletely understood gene-transfer technology. It is imperative that the technologyís environmental risks be identified and assessed to the extent possible and that comprehensive assessments occur prior to widespread use.

To achieve that end, we recommend the following:

EPA should not register or extend the existing registrations of any Bt-corn varieties bearing pollen containing Bt toxin until the Agency: can assure on the basis of experimental data under field conditions that the pollen produced by Bt corn is not a danger to the monarch butterfly or rare, endangered, or threatened Lepidoptera; and has instituted new, scientifically robust protocols for evaluating the environmental impacts of Bt crops.

All Bt-corn varieties currently on the market were approved under temporary registrations that will expire in either 2000 or 2001. EPA should not register or extend the existing registrations of any Bt-corn varieties until it has, at a minimum, convened a Scientific Advisory Panel, developed new protocols to assess and identify the risks of genetically engineered crops, and consulted with the Department of Interior, as discussed below.

EPA should convene a Scientific Advisory Panel made up primarily of ecologists to develop protocols for the ecological assessment of Bt crops. Issues that should be addressed in the protocols include, but are in no way restricted to, soil ecosystem impacts and effects of Bt toxins on beneficial organisms, nontarget Lepidoptera, and other species.

In the last two years, in addition to the monarch butterfly studies, new laboratory research indicates the possibility of risks from Bt crops to soil ecosystems and beneficial insects. New York University scientists found that active Bt toxins similar to those engineered into some Bt crops may accumulate in the soilóand may be harmful to soil-inhabiting insects. Swiss researchers found an indirect but deadly effect of Bt corn on beneficial insects that feed on European corn borers.

This research should be the basis for the construction of new protocols to assess risk. These protocols would guide industry in designing and conducting tests to evaluate the environmental risks of engineered crops.

EPA should consult with the Department of Interior to determine whether any moths or butterflies protected under treaties and federal laws have ranges that overlap the regions in which corn is grown. If ranges put protected moths or butterflies at risk of encountering toxic pollen, the Agency should require studies to determine the impact of Bt corn on the insects.

As an example, consultations with the US Fish and Wildlife Service should reveal whether any of the 18 Lepidopteran species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act are at risk from toxic pollen that might be deposited on plants that they eat.

To reduce the flow of toxic pollen outside corn fields in the 2000 growing season, EPA should require borders of non-Bt corn around Bt varieties that contain toxin in their pollen.

EPA adoption of our first recommendation would ensure that monarchs and other insects would not be harmed by Bt-corn pollen after the 2000 growing season. This step would not, however, protect nontarget moths and butterflies from exposure to Bt-corn pollen next year. To provide that protection, EPA should take steps to reduce significantly the flow of toxic pollen out of Bt-corn fields by requiring non-Bt buffers around Bt corn. We endorse the recommendation made by the Environmental Defense Fund in its July 13 petition to EPA for 40-to-80 foot borders of non-Bt corn around engineered varieties which produce pollen containing Bt toxin. The non-Bt buffers should trap much of the pollen from the Bt corn, thereby reducing significantly the amount of toxic pollen carried beyond the field to plants that nontarget moths and butterflies eat.

Thank you for your consideration of these recommendations. Please call Jane Rissler at 202-332-0900 if you have questions.


Margaret Mellon, Ph.D., J.D.
Director, Agriculture and Biotechnology Program Union of Concerned Scientists

Jane Rissler, Ph.D.
Senior Staff Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists

John Kostyak
Counsel, National Wildlife Federation

Carl Pope
Executive Director, Sierra Club

David Wallinga, M.D.
Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council

Gary Nabhan, Ph.D.
Director of Conservation and Science, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

William Snape
Legal Director, Defenders of Wildlife

cc: Honorable Dan Glickman, Secretary, US Department of Agriculture
Honorable Bruce Babbitt, Secretary, Department of Interior
Honorable Jamie Rappaport Clark, Director, US Fish and Wildlife Service


** 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: Fri, 13 Aug 1999 06:39:21 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-12

US Acts to Lengthen Term of Patents to Help Biotechnology

NATURE (London) 12 August 1999

[WASHINGTON] In a boost to the US biotechnology industry, the House of Representatives last week approved a bill that would reverse the reduction in patent protection that companies say they are facing as a result of 1994 legislation that implemented the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT).

The bill, sponsored by Congressman Howard Coble, (Republican, North Carolina), passed by 376 votes to 43. It aims to mitigate the effects of a GATT provision that changed patent terms to 20 years from the date a patent application is filed. Patent protection was previously granted for 17 years from the date a patent was issued. [As biotech patentes usually take more than three years to process, the GATT legislation reduced the length of time the patent applied.] ...

This [new bill] would effectively guarantee a 17-year patent term from the date a patent is issued.

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Date: Fri, 13 Aug 1999 06:39:21 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-12

In the following interview with GM-FREE magazine Dr Aarpad Pusztai is asked about:

Dr A. Pusztai: Why I Cannot Remain Silent

Dr Pusztai talks to GM-FREE
GM-FREE Vol. 1 no. 3 August/September 1999

On why GM is not safe, predictable or precise
On substantial equivalence
On the allergy threat
On the "sound science" behind the GM push
On the British Medical Association's call for a GM moratorium
On the scientific and political establishment's tactics
On the Royal Society review of his research
On his decision to go public with his findings before peer review and publication

Dr Pusztai kindly agreed to interrupt his summer vacation to give us an exclusive interview. Here are his views on his suppressed research and the dubious science driving the introduction of GM technology.

On why GM is not safe, predictable or precise

The rats in your experiment who ate potatoes genetically engineered to produce GNA lectin suffered reduced organ weights and immune damage. Why do you think this was'?

Dr Pusztai:
I think the reason is not the GNA lectin itself, but the technique. Probably the CaMV (Cauliflower Mosaic Virus, a promoter used to switch on the introduced gene) had a part in it. It's a problematic thing.

The other problem is the positioning of the inserted gene. Our experiment showed up how imprecise the technique is, because we had two GM potatoes, both contained GNA lectin, and both came from the same pot. They were both grown in greenhouses or in fields in tunnels under identical conditions and at the same time. Yet they came out different. The only explanation is that the incorporation of the transgene [inserted gene] into the host genome happened at two different places. And the effect on the genome was different.

These positioning effects are not simple to predict. Think of William Tell shooting an arrow at a target. Now put a blindfold on the man doing the shooting and that's the reality of the genetic engineer when he's doing a gene insertion. He has no idea where the transgene will land in the recipient genome.

Meanwhile, while we are all arguing in Britain, scientists in other countries are getting on with the job. There are two new papers by Japanese scientists, on GM rice and GM soya. They say that the positioning effect has to be taken into consideration because we don't know which genes in the host organism the inserted genes will make silent or reactivate. It is clear from their evidence that some of the changes cannot be predicted on the basis of the gene insertion.

On substantial equivalence

Dr Pusztai:
The idea of "substantial equivalence" is that there is no need for biological safety tests because the plants must be of similar composition as the parent line. This is the basis on which GM crops are being released. However, they cannot be substantially equivalent to the parent because you've introduced new genes. That's why I don't give tuppence for substantial equivalence.

We had two transgenic lines of potato produced from the same gene insertion and the same growing conditions; we grew them together along with the parent plant. With our two lines of potato, which should have been substantially equivalent to each other, we found that one of the lines contained 20% less protein than the other. So the two lines were not substantially equivalent to each other. But we also found that these two lines were not substantially equivalent to their parent. This could not be predicted. It demonstrates that the unpredictability is inherent in the GM process on a case by case basis - and also at the level of every single GM plant created.

Our project should have ended right there, in my opinion, but we had to develop new testing techniques useful for all GM plants.

In genetic engineering, a lot of GM plants never see the daylight, because for one reason or another they don't grow or they have an unpleasant colour like the GM salmon which turned green. Where unpredictable effects show up, you throw them out. But from the point of view of science, these are important. Because if GM is such a predictable, precise science, then you should be able to produce the same thing again and again. But you can't.

Regarding our potatoes, even after many lines were thrown out, the ones which we retained were still all different from each other. Even though they all came from the same pot, using the same genetic construct, and were grown in identical conditions. So this is my challenge: if it is so predictable, so precise, they should not be any different. They must not be different. Causative logic says that they ought to be the same. That is for me the most worrying aspect.

On the allergy threat

This lack of predictability is worrying for people with food allergies. These people can only live their lives on the basis that they know which foods to avoid. Biotech companies claim they test for "known allergens" like peanuts. But there are thousands of other foods that can cause serious allergies but which are not classed as known allergens. On top of this, there may be new toxins or allergens in GM foods that are not spotted because they are not looked for.

But what you are saying means that even if you test three potatoes and find that they do not cause an allergic reaction, a fourth potato of the same kind, produced by the same technique, could cause a toxic or allergic reaction.

Dr Pusztai:
You are quite right. The only thing you could do is find a stable GM organism, which has been put through tens of generations and still comes out the same, and which is not crossed with any other potato. You keep the purity of the line.

In the real world, this is impossible.

Dr Pusztai:
I totally agree. We are storing up problems for the future.

On the "sound science" behind the GM push

Dr Pusztai:
GM foods have been introduced on the back of just one published paper. Just one, in fifteen years of GM. It was written by a Monsanto scientist and published in 1996. The study was a feeding trial of Roundup Ready soya on rats, catfish, chicken and cows. I don't want to say anything about it because it's a published paper, but I could take it apart in 10 seconds.

Ah, go on.

Dr Pusztai:
Well, the main problem is that the researchers appear to have done their utmost to find no problem. They were using mature animals which are not forming body tissues and organs. Adults only need a small amount of protein because their bodies are in equilibrium, in homeostasis. But a young growing animal needs a great deal more protein because it's laying down muscle and tissues, and forming its organs.

With a nutritional study on mature animals, you would never see any difference in organ weights even if the food turned out to be anti-nutritional. The animals would have to be emaciated or poisoned to show anything. In this study, they gave the rats a commercial feed that contained 20% protein, of which only one-tenth was replaced by GM soya protein. Most of this high overall dietary protein was used by the rats for energy, thus masking any possible effect of the GM soya protein. You need to stress the animals if you want to see the effects of a feeding trial in a short enough time. This is my field, so you can take it for granted that if I had had the chance of refereeing that paper, it would never have passed.

Another problem was the way they did the post-mortem. They never weighed the organs; they just looked at them — what they call "eyeballing". I must have done thousands of post-mortems so I know that even if there is a difference in organ weights of as much as 25%, you wouldn't see it. In my lectures I used to put up two identical computer-drawn rats side by side and put two different sized organs in them, and I asked the audience which rat was bigger, and they always got it wrong. You have to weigh them.

On the British Medical Association's call for a GM moratorium

Dr Pusztai:
It stands to reason that they would take a strong line. If there is any problem, the doctors will have to deal with it. It's easy for a gene-basher to say, "I've got some fantastic product," because he doesn't have to see the consequences. He can only see that this or that insect is killed and as far as he is concerned that's the end of the story.

But this is a very unfair and unscientific attitude. It is close to being irresponsible, because we are playing God. You can call it God, evolution, natural selection, natural law, whatever — but this is what it is.

On the scientific and political establishment's tactics

In May this year, four major reports, all trumpeting the safety of GM foods and all condemning your work, were released within two days of each other. They were the Donaldson/May report; the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report; the Royal Society review; and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics' report. What's your view on the timing of these reports?

Dr Pusztai:
Can you believe that four major reports could come out, all condemning me, within two days? That is stretching belief.

It's clear that there was a concerted effort to discredit me. The only body that.invited me for discussions, the Environmental Toxicology Committee, gave me just eleven days' notice. I explained that on that day I would be on a plane, so could they please suggest an alternative day. They obviously were not interested, because they did not come back to me. The Royal Society, despite the fact that I offered my full cooperation, refused it; they just wanted to have pieces of paper which they could shred to bits to condemn me.

In 1956, when I was living in Hungary, I got a Ford Foundation Scholarship and they said I could go wherever I wanted. I chose England because I thought the British were fair, and that they would tolerate even an oddball like me. But then I found out about these machinations and duplicity.

On the Royal Society review of his research

Dr Pusztai:
The Royal Society report was totally negative and unhelpful, and obviously made to cut me down, to give the political masters the backing they required from an august body.

You see, if you submit a paper to a journal, in 7 out of 10 instances, the reviewers are helpful. For example, they say, "I don't think you have done this well; could it not have been done this way instead?" Then there is a dialogue. The point is not to steam-hammer some poor soul, but, as I said in a letter to the Royal Society, to arrive together at the truth. But in this case, there has been no attempt whatever to discover the truth.

The Royal Society, instead of going back to last August and all that history, should be concentrating on how to make the experiments better. There is not a single word in their review that addresses this, apart from saying it should be better designed. My PhD students would have laughed at me if I said anything like that. Sanctimonious phrases are not enough—if you criticise an experiment, you have to say how you would go about doing it better.

I have published everything in my life. I make a solemn promise that I shall try my best to publish my research. If I fail, I shall put it on the internet. I owe it to the people who have been supporting me that they should know all the facts. No matter how the Royal Society or whoever else machinates against me, I will do it.

On his decision to go public with his findings before peer review and publication

Dr Pusztai:
The British tax payer has spent [pounds]1.6m for this Rowett-based research. You have paid for it. Yet if I had not spoken out, the information would have stopped at the Rowett.

Other scientists often ask me why I went against the code of practice and spoke out before publication in a peer reviewed journal. I made my 150-second testimony on TV's World in Action because I had facts that indicated to me there were serious problems with transgenic food. It can take two to three years to get science papers published and these foods were already on the shelves without rigorous biological testing similar to that of our GM potato work. I did indicate my concern and it cost me my job but I would do it again. If I had not done it, we would now be eating these potatoes and not discussing the safety of GM food.

** 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, 14 Aug 1999 06:46:05 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-13

GE - Resource list from Luke Anderson



There are hundreds of groups around the world campaigning on genetic engineering issues. While some choose to focus on the genetic engineering of crops, others focus on patenting. Some want complete bans, some the labelling of genetically engineered products, and others moratoriums, while others are simply concentrating on raising public awareness in any way they can. Listed below are just a few of these groups and organisations-if you don't find the information you are seeking here, many of these groups may be able to put you in touch with other sources of information and support.

First points of contact in the UK
Other international and national organisations
Email information services
Other information on websites
Recommended books on genetic engineering

First points of contact in the UK

  1. Genetic Engineering Network, PO Box 9656, London N4 4JY. Tel: 0181 374 9516.  URL: Valuable first point of contact which aims to provide information that helps people to take action. Puts individuals in touch with different national and international campaigns, and especially local groups throughout the country. Offers help on a range of issues, e.g. how to set up a campaign in your area, ideas for protests and things you can do if you don't have much time to spare. Also publish bi-monthly newsletter, Genetix Update.

  2. Greenpeace UK 'True Food Campaign', Canonbury Villas, Islington, London, N1 2PN. Tel: 0171 865 8100.  URL: Working with consumers, food professionals, retail outlets, gardeners, restaurants and the food industry to provide practical ways to stop the genetic engineering of food and to promote organic. Provide campaigning material including leaflets, stickers, briefings etc. Greenpeace has 110 local groups around the country, all of whom are campaigning on this issue. Daily news updates on their website. See also Greenpeace International on p.125.

  3. Friends Of the Earth Campaign for Real Food, 26-28 Underwood Street, London N1 7JQ. Tel: 0171 490 1555, Fax: 490 0881.  URL: Has 250 local groups campaigning on GE. Very active on government and regulatory issues, and putting pressure on retailers. Also involved in legal challenges on issues such as field trials and seed laws. FOE provides free briefings and leaflets on GE as well as a monthly news update on their website.

  4. Soil Association, Bristol House, 40-56 Victoria Street, Bristol BS1 6BY. Tel: 0117 914 2449, Fax: 0117 925 2504.  URL: Leading organic food and farming charity, representing both farmers and consumers. Actively campaigning for a ban on GE in agriculture in the UK. Provides free information on organic farming and GE, including campaign leaflets, technical briefings, scientific papers and info on what you can do.

  5. Women's Environmental Network, 87 Worship Street, London EC2A 2BE. Tel: 0171 247 3327, Fax: 0171 247 4740.  URL: WEN has a core group of geneticists and biologists, and is very active and well informed on GE issues. Information packs available with detailed information about GE-related issues, and also practical campaigning resources with ideas for action that can be taken by individuals and groups.

  6. Totnes Genetics Group, PO Box 77, Totnes, TQ9 5ZJ. Tel: 01803 840098, Fax: 864591.  URL: Very active community-based campaign in South Devon. Provides speakers, info, resources, ideas, support, street theatre, and other ideas for local campaigning. Website contains contact details of local groups throughout the UK, links to other groups and practical campaigning information. Other campaigns in the UK

  7. ActionAid, Campaigns, Hamlyn House, Macdonald Road, Archway, London N19 5PG. Tel: 0171 561 7611, Fax: 0171 281 5146.  URL: Active at a grass roots level in 30 countries. Working on an international food rights campaign, and is increasingly focused on GE and patenting. Published a report on Astra-Zeneca in May 99-see their website.

  8. Campaign against Human Genetic Engineering, PO Box 6313, London N16 0DY. Opposes the genetic engineering of humans. Also working on related issues such as genetic discrimination and eugenics.

  9. Compassion in World Farming, Charles House, 5A Charles Street, Petersfield GU32 3EH. Tel: 01730 264208 / 268863, Fax: 01730 260791.  URL: Concerned about the genetic engineering of animals and xenotransplantation. Provides videos and other resources suitable for use in schools, etc.

  10. Earth First! UK 63 local groups in the UK. Activities include grassroots organising, civil disobedience and direct action. Important network for radical environmental activists and covers anti-GE protest in its monthly newsletter (contact or send s.a.e. c/o Cornerstone Resource Centre, 16 Sholebroke Avenue, Leeds LS7 3HB. 01132 629 365).

  11. The Gaia Foundation, 18 Well Walk, Hampstead, London NW3 1LD. Tel: 0171 435 5000, Fax: 0171 431 0551. Links with farmers, scientists and grass roots organisations in Third World. Raises awareness about the impact of GE and patenting in these countries.

  12. Genetix Food Alert, c/o 23 Fleming Street, Glasgow G31 1PQ. Tel: 0141 554 6099, Fax: 0141 556 5589. Initiative founded by the UK wholefood trade to source and supply GE-free products. Provides practical information about these issues.

  13. GeneWatch UK, The Courtyard, Whitecross Road, Tideswell, Buxton SK17 8NY. Tel: 01298 871898, Fax: 01298 872531.  URL:   http:/ Specialises in the science, ethics, risks and regulation of GE. Undertakes research and analysis on its implications. Published a detailed report in June 1999 on the releases of GE microorganisms into the environment.

  14. Henry Doubleday Research Association (HDRA), Ryton Organic Gardens, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Coventry CV21 3LG. Tel: 01203 303517, Fax: 01203 639229.  URL: Europe's largest organic association, which researches and provides advice on organic gardening and growing. Runs schemes to preserve traditional vegetable varieties which would otherwise be casualties of EC legislation.

  15. International Society for Ecology and Culture, Apple Barn, Week, Dartington, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6JP. Affiliated to the International Forum on Globalisation. Write to ISEC for information on globalisation/free trade issues.

  16. The Pesticides Trust, Eurolink Centre, 49 Effra Road, London SW2 1BZ. Tel: 0171 274 8895, Fax: 0171 274 9084.  URL: A charity addressing the health and environmental problems of pesticides and working for a sustainable future. Has newsletter and publications list.

Other international and national organisations

  1. Action for Solidarity, Equality, Environment and Development (ASEED), PO Box 92066, 1090AB Amsterdam, Holland. Tel: 20 66 82 236, Fax: 20 66 50 166.  URL: Global youth network focusing on issues of environment and development. Initiates and coordinates actions and campaigns. ASEED Europe comprises organisations and individuals in over 30 European countries.

  2. Australian Gene Ethics Network (AGEN), 340 Gore St, Fitzroy 3065, Victoria, Australia. Tel: 03 9416 2222, Fax: 03 9416 0767.  URL: Federation of groups and individuals in Australia promoting critical discussion and debate on the environmental, social and ethical impacts of GE.

  3. Campaign for Food Safety (Formerly Pure Food Campaign), 860 Highway 61, Little Marais, Minnesota 55614, USA. Tel: 218 226 4164, Fax: 218 226 4157.  URL: Dedicated to healthy, safe, and sustainable systems of food production. Acts as a global clearinghouse for info on GE; offers grassroots technical assistance.

  4. Council for Responsible Genetics, 5 Upland Road, Suite 3, Cambridge, MA 02140, USA. Tel: 617 868 0870, Fax: 617 491 5344.  URL: Focuses on human genetics issues including genetic discrimination and patenting. Also active on biosafety and consumer 'right to know' issues. Produces and distributes educational materials.

  5. The Edmonds Institute, 20319-92nd Avenue West, Edmonds, Washington 98020, USA. Tel: 425-775-5383, Fax: 425-670-8410.  URL: Conducts research, answers inquiries, publishes policy analysis and scientific thought pieces, distributes information, sponsors public workshops, provides expert witnesses at national events and for international bodies engaged in decision-making. Disseminates information about and criticism of technology assessment, encourages pro bono research and policy analysis by scientists and scholars, and seeks to create alliances and coalitions with like-minded organisations and individuals. Contact: Beth Burrows.

  6. Genetic Concern, Camden House, 7 Upper Camden Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. Tel: 353 1 476 0360, Fax: 353 1 476 0361.  URL: Provides info and promotes debate on GE issues. Has campaigned against the releases of GE crops in Ireland, challenging them in the Irish Courts.

  7. Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN), Girona 25, pral. E-08010 Barcelona, Spain. Tel: 34 93 301 1381, Fax: 34 93 301 1627.  URL: International NGO with offices in Spain and the Philippines, established in 1990 to help further a global movement of popular action against the threat of genetic erosion. Very well informed on patenting, biodiversity, etc.

  8. Greeenpeace International, Chaussesstr. 131-10115 Berlin, Germany. Tel: 49 30 30 889914, Fax: 889930. International environmental organisation that both lobbies and takes non-violent direct action. Opposed to the release of genetically manipulated organisms into the environment. Their new GE website includes info on a range of issues, as well as press releases, information about actions, etc.

  9. Organic Consumers Association, 860 Highway 61, Little Marais, MN 55614, USA. Tel: 218 226 4792, Fax:218 226 4157.  URL: Protects the integrity of the organic label, promotes sustainable agriculture, and opposes the use of genetic engineering in food and farming.

  10. Pesticide Action Network (PAN), North American Office (PANNA). 49 Powell St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA. Tel: 415 981 1771, Fax: 415 981 1991.  URL: Has campaigned to replace pesticides with ecologically sound alternatives since 1982. PANNA is one of five PAN Regional Centers in Africa, Asia/Pacific, Latin America, Europe and North America.

  11. Research Foundation For Science, Technology & Natural Resource Policy, A-60 Haus Khas, New Delhi 110016, India. Tel: 91 11 696 8077, Fax: 685 6795.  URL: Focuses on biodiversity conservation, food security, globalisation, patenting, genetic engineering, biosafety, sustainable agriculture, WTO and GATT.

  12. Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) 110 Osborne St., Suite 202, Winnipeg, Ontario, Canada R3L 1Y5 Tel: 204 453 5259, Fax: 204 925 8034.  URL: An international non-governmental organisation dedicated to the conservation, sustainability and improvement of agricultural biodiversity, and to the socially responsible development of technologies useful to rural societies. RAFI is an important contact for info on patenting, terminator technology, the biotech industry and the loss of genetic diversity, and the relationship of these issues to human rights, agriculture and world food security.

  13. Third World Network, International Secretariat, 228 Macalister Road, 10400 Penang, Malaysia. Tel: 60 4 2266728 or 2266159, Fax: 2264505.  URL: Network of organisations and individuals involved in issues relating to development, the Third World and North-South issues. Their website is a useful source of information about biopiracy, patents, the WTO and GE.

  14. Union of Concerned Scientists, National HQ, 2 Brattle Square, Cambridge, MA 02238-9105, USA. Tel: 617 547 5552.  URL: biotech.html Alliance of 70,000 committed citizens and leading scientists who aim to "augment rigorous scientific research with public education and citizen advocacy to help build a cleaner, healthier environment and a safer world". Provides a critique of the various applications of genetic engineering, and supports sustainable alternatives. See Gene Exchange, p.127. Magazines, Journals etc

  15. Corner House Briefings, The Corner House, P.O. Box 3137, Station Road, Sturminster Newton, Dorset DT10 1YJ, UK.  URL: Detailed briefings by a skilled team of researchers, which include one on the issue of patenting, and another on GE and World Hunger.

  16. Corporate Watch, Tel: 01865 791391.  URL: Magazine which addresses the power of multinational corporations. From September 1999, the independent research group (also called Corporate Watch) which publishes the magazine will be providing information on the biotech industry as a resource for anti-GE campaigners.

  17. The Ecologist, Unit 18, Chelsea Wharf, 15 Lots Road, London SW10 0QJ. Tel: 0171 351 3578, Fax: 0171 351 3617. Publishing radical green thought for 30 years. Regular features and updates on issues related to genetic engineering and the biotech industry.

  18. Earth First! Journal, Contact: Earth First!, POB 1415, Eugene, OR 97440, USA. Tel: 541 344 8004, Fax: 344 7688.  URL: A forum for the radical environmental movement: news and views of radical ecologists and discussions of direct action. Published eight times a year.

  19. The Gene Exchange – Jane Rissler and Margaret Mellon from the Union of Concerned Scientists A valuable resource, edited by Jane Rissler and Margaret Mellon from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Look up website for info on how to receive by email. By post, send request to Direct Mail Administrator, UCS, Two Brattle Square, Cambridge, MA 02238-9105.

  20. GenEthics News, PO Box 6313, London N16 0DY, UK.  URL:   http://ourworld.c Founded by geneticist Dr. David King. Bimonthly newsletter covering the ethical, social and environmental issues raised by GE and human genetics.

  21. Genetic Network News, c/o ngin, 26 Pottergate, Norwich NR2 1DX, UK.  URL: Free newssheet published bi-monthly by Norfolk Genetic Information Network. Send large sae for information. Also see website.

  22. Genetix Update see Genetic Engineering Network, p.122.

  23. GeneWATCH (not to be confused with GeneWatch UK!) is a magazine produced by the Council for Responsible Genetics (see p.125).

  24. GeneWatch Briefings Valuable briefings from GeneWatch UK, see p.124.

  25. GM-FREE magazine Tel: 01695 50504  URL: . Magazine which aims to warn people of the risks to health and the environment from GE.

  26. Manual for Assessing Ecological and Human Health Effects of Genetically Engineered Organisms A two-volume, peer-reviewed manual written by a group of scientists from a wide range of disciplines. Available for cost of mailing from the Edmonds Institute (see p.125).

  27. The Monsanto Monitor Same contact as ASEED Europe, p.124. A resource for organisations and individuals campaigning against Monsanto and its products.

  28. Permaculture Magazine Hyden House Ltd, The Sustainability Centre, East Meon, Hants. Tel: 01730 823311. Quarterly magazine. Can also be contacted for general info about permaculture, including local contacts and details of the UK Permaculture Association. Send £1 in stamps for a sample copy of the magazine.

  29. RAFI Communiqués Valuable and detailed analysis of patenting issues, terminator technology and the life science industry. See RAFI, p.126.

  30. The Ram's Horn S6 C27 RR#1, Sorrento BC, V0E 2W0, Canada. Tel/Fax: (250) 675-4866.  URL: Eight pages of information and analysis of the food system, published monthly. Increasingly focused on the issues and dangers posed by GE.

  31. Seedling (see GRAIN for contact details). Quarterly newsletter which aims to provide a platform for the exchange of news and analysis among people engaged in GE issues. Free to groups and individuals in the Third World and also to campaign groups in the West.

  32. Selling Suicide: farming, false promises and genetic engineering in developing countries Report published by Christian Aid and available from them at PO Box 100, London SE1 7RT, or on the web at .

  33. The Splice of Life c/o The Genetics Forum, 94 White Lion Street, London N1 9PS. Tel: 0171 837 9229, Fax: 0171 837 1141.  URL: The magazine produced by The Genetics Forum, a UK watchdog on GE issues. It covers the social, environmental and ethical implications of GE.

  34. Third World Resurgence see Third World Network (TWN), p.126. Monthly magazine published by TWN on the environment, health and basic needs, international affairs, politics, economics, culture, etc. from Third World perspective.

Email information services

  1. Genetic Engineering Network (GEN) List 1 A UK-based, free service; a moderated list averaging about 5 emails per day. Includes information about all aspects of GE with a close eye on worldwide resistance to the technology (Archived as 'info4action' at since 1998). GEN List 2 is a much quieter list which sends out GEN's newsletter as well as action reports. Email to subscribe and state which of the two lists you want to be on (all info in list 2 is covered by list 1).

  2. BAN GEF Free US-run list with useful daily digest. For instructions send email to with HELP in the Subject line.

  3. BIO-IPR In-depth list put out by GRAIN (see p.125). Circulates information about recent developments in the field of patenting related to biodiversity, etc. To join, send the word "subscribe" (no quote marks) as the subject of an email message to

  4. Center for Food Safety To subscribe to the free electronic newsletter, Campaign for Food Safety News (formerly called Food Bytes), send an email to with the simple message in the body of the text: subscribe pure-food-action.

  5. GENET Moderated list: information exchange among European NGOs and grassroot groups (archived at since 1998). Email for subscription details (service is not free).

  6. GENTECH Unmoderated list about all aspects of genetic engineering (archived at since 1995). Send a message with the word "subscribe" in the subject to:

  7. Nginews Free e-mail bulletins from Norfolk Genetic Information Network. Email with the word "subscribe".

  8. NLP Wessex List Concentrates on crop issues. Subscribe on website: .

  9. Organic Consumers Association To subscribe to the free electronic newsletter, Organic View, send an email to with "subscribe" written in the body of the text.

  10. PANUPS Free weekly on-line news service from PANNA (see p.126). Subscription information available on website .

  11. Rachel's Environment & Health Weekly Weekly news with searchable archive at . Send the word "Subscribe" by itself (no quote marks) in an email to:

  12. WEN Local food list Biodiversity, local food and sustainable agriculture. UK-based, but also contains international news.

Other information on websites

  1. Ag BioTech InfoNet Focuses on scientific reports and technical analysis of GE issues. Aims to provide a forum where a broad spectrum of people and organizations can raise tough questions, report new technical findings, and offer conflicting views.

  2. Food 'n' Health 'n' Hope. Visit this site to listen to (or download) a song about a certain company.

  3. Genetic Engineering and Its Dangers: Dr Ron Epstein, Philosophy Department, College of Humanities, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA. A series of articles and essays covers a wide range of issues including GE and biological weapons, spiritual perspectives etc.

  4. Genetix Snowball Website and handbook of the Genetix Snowball, a "campaign of nonviolent civil responsibility", which aims "to safely remove GE crops from the ground".

  5. Ifgene: Particular focus on the worldviews with which people approach science, and the moral and spiritual implications of biotechnology.

  6. List of GE test sites in the UK – Test site information can also be obtained from the Department of the Environment, Tel: 0171 890 5275/5277. eries/ Visit this website to find out where your nearest test site is: just type in your postcode or village/town name.

  7. OneWorld Online – Dedicated to promoting human rights and sustainable development by harnessing the democratic potential of the Internet. Highly regarded website. biotech/front.html

  8. Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of Science and Technology A global network of scientists. Website e range of science-based information about the hazards of GE. An important resource if you want more scientific detail about these issues.

  9. UK Five Year Freeze Find out here how to join the UK coalition (over 90 national organisations by July '99) calling for a five year 'freeze' on all releases of GE organisms, all GE food imports, and all patents on food crops.

  10. Wessex Natural Law Party Useful resource, especially for farming-related issues. Contains lists of quotes about GE from scientists, farmers and other public figures.

Recommended books on genetic engineering

  1. The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World by Jeremy Rifkin, Tarcher/Putnam (New York), 1998. Very readable overview of developments within the field of GE.

  2. The Ecological Risks of Engineered Crops by Jane Rissler and Margaret Mellon, MIT Press, 1996. One of the key texts on GE and the environment.

  3. Biotechnology, Weapons and Humanity, British Medical Association, London, 1999. Covers the issue of GE and biological warfare.

  4. Biopolitics edited by Vandana Shiva and Ingunn Moser, Zed Books, London, 1995. Essays analysing the politics of the biotech industry.

  5. Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge by Vandana Shiva, Green Books, 1998. Patenting, biopiracy and the 'new colonialism'.

  6. Exploding the Gene Myth by Ruth Hubbard and Elijah Wald, Beacon Press, 1997. A critique of genetic determinism.

  7. Brave New Worlds: Staying Human in the Genetic Future by Bryan Appleyard, Viking Press, New York, 1998. Explores human GE issues.

  8. Farmageddon: Food and the Culture of Biotechnology by Brewster Kneen, New Society, Gabriola Island, BC, 1999. Critique of GE as reductionist science, motivated by corporate profit.

  9. Genetic Engineering: Dream or Nightmare? The Brave New World of Bad Science and Big Business by Mae-Wan Ho, Gateway Books, 1998. Scientific critique of GE and mechanistic views of the genome.

  10. Against the Grain by Mark Lappé and Britt Bailey, Earthscan, 1999. Covers agricultural GE issues, such as the impacts of herbicide-resistant crops.

  11. Eat Your Genes: How Genetically Modified Food is Entering our Diet by Stephen Nottingham, Zed Books Ltd, 1998. Detailed information on issues ranging from the science of GE to the regulatory systems in Europe & USA.

  12. The Human Body Shop: The Engineering and Marketing of Life by Andrew Kimbrell, HarperSanFrancisco, 1993. Accessible introduction to the commercialisation of the human body.

    For all those who are interested in the relationship between apathy and action, and the response of the human heart to ecological crisis, I recommend the following two books:

  13. Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World by Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown, New Society, Canada, 1998. A heartful book which contains a wealth of practical information and exercises that can be used by both groups and individuals.

  14. World as Lover, World as Self by Joanna Macy, Parallax Press, Berkeley, 1991. Explores activism, ecological despair, systems theory and spiritual practice.

** 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.