Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

2 September 99

Table of Contents

Ministers shelve GM crop testing for judicial review
Concerns about the herbicide Liberty (Glufosinate)
Japan's Sapporo to Shun GM Corn, Others may Follow Suit
French Farm Minister Jean Glavany attacked U.S.
Berkeley School Cafeterias Going Organic
US Food company goes Non-GE in UK
Honda unit to build U.S. plant for non-GM soybeans
List of GE crops OKed in the US for commercial use
Tobacco with Human Genes
Petition for Labelling in USA
Biotech Corn Kills Antibiotics
Farmer Destroys Biotech Crops
UK Women Push For Ban
Human Embryo Cloning
Dolly's Cells Nine Years Old
Letter to President Clinton
US Farmer Paid Lots for Seed and Crop Prices Fall
Thailand urged to enlist ASEAN in genetic food fight
Japan Govt to Inspect Genetically Modified Food - 08/27
US Merchants Introduce NON-GE Schemes
Why Genetically Altered Food Won't Conquer Hunger
"The Ship of Fools Sails On"
Japan food maker to drop gene-altered soybeans
Call to Phase Out Marker Genes in Genetically Modified Food.
Campaigners, stores welcome ADM call on gene crops
GM Firms Top of Ethical Investors' Blacklist
Virus-Resistant Crops Could Help Weeds
U.S. farmers face extra work, costs in GM crop battle
Canadian groups join in anti-GM food fight
US corn sales to Iberia could resume if GMOs segregated

Top NextFront Page

Date: Fri, 27 Aug 1999 16:41:01 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-26

Ministers shelve GM crop testing for judicial review

By Paul Brown, Environment Correspondent
GUARDIAN (London), Thursday August 26, 1999

The government has suspended large scale planting of genetically modified oilseed rape due to start today because it fears the High Court may order them dug up again.

The decision was made by the treasury solicitor yesterday after studying papers which claim that civil servants used administrative short cuts to rush through licences for large new releases of oilseed rape.


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Date: Fri, 27 Aug 1999 16:41:01 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-26

Concerns about the herbicide Roundup (Glufosinate)

by Joe Cummins, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Genetics
University of Western Ontario, e-mail: jcummins@julian.uwo.ca

"The Herbicide, Glufosinate, is used with millions of acres of crops on crops including corn, canola and soy it causes birth defects on exposure of father alone as well as mother!"

I have written a number of previous notes on the danger of the herbicide ,glufosinate, used with GM and normal crops and false claims by officials of EU , US and Canada that the herbicide has no harmful side effects. The previous evidence showed that pregnant females fed food containing the herbicide gave birth to children with birth defects both traditional and defects in behavior and learning. Learning defects were also experienced by young children exposed to the herbicide.

Recent studies of humans exposed to pesticides showed that fathers exposed to glufosinate gave birth to children with birth defects while most other pesticides did not produce that impact (Garcia,A.,Benavides,F.,Fletcher,T. and Orts,E. "Paternal exposure to pesticides and congenital malformations" Scand J Work Environ Health 24, 473-80,1998).

The glufosinate birth defects suggest that the large chemical companies have undo influence over government bureaucrats . Such bureaucrats turn their backs on clear evidence of danger from pesticides and promote dangerous genetic engineering. We must alert the public and insure that the dangers are made public.


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Date: Fri, 27 Aug 1999 16:41:01 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-26

Japan's Sapporo to Shun GM Corn, Others may Follow Suit

August 26, 1999

TOKYO, Reuters [WN] via NewsEdge Corporation : Japan's third-largest beer maker Sapporo Breweries Ltd said on Wednesday it will stop using genetically modified (GM) corn to make beer, after industry leader Kirin Brewery Co took the same action the previous day.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Fri, 27 Aug 1999 16:41:01 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-26

French Farm Minister Jean Glavany attacked U.S.

August 26, 1999

LORIENT, France, Reuters [BR] via NewsEdge Corporation : French Farm Minister Jean Glavany attacked U.S. corporations on Wednesday, accusing them of trying to monopolise the world's food supply and jeopardising French agricultural independence.

"Agriculture is at a historic turning point, the change from of quantity to those of quality," Glavany told a gathering of Green Party members in this western French port city.

"We have many adversaries as we embark on this revolution," the Socialist minister said.

"First among them there are obviously the market liberals from across the Atlantic and their multinationals like Monsanto or DuPont, who have set themselves the challenge of feeding the world on their own."

He was referring to U.S. corporations DuPont Co and Monsanto Co, two of the world's largest seed manufacturers and leaders in the production of genetically modified grains.

They are trying "to flood the world with their products, genetically modified or not, and to spread their own agricultural and food model," he added.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Fri, 27 Aug 1999 16:41:01 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-26

Berkeley School Cafeterias Going Organic

Wednesday, August 18, 1999

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) – Forget about mystery meat. Berkeley's school cafeterias are going organic.

The city's school board is expected to approve a plan today that would give students the option of munching on pesticide-free baby carrots and sandwiches made with organic bread.

The food would be grown in school gardens and purchased from local organic farmers. Milk would be certified clean of bovine growth hormones. That's pretty rare – and pretty expensive – but Berkeley is an unusual said Rick DeBurgh, who added that he has never heard of schools serving organic cafeteria fare in his 22 years with the California School Food Services Association.

Santa Monica has experimented with a farmer's market salad bar, but Berkeley wants to serve organic foods in the main dishes and after-school snacks. The plan also calls for removing irradiated and genetically altered foods.


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Date: Fri, 27 Aug 1999 16:41:01 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-26

US Food company goes Non-GE in UK

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania via NewsEdge Corporation August 27, 1999

Aug. 25 – In England, where Beanz meanz Heinz, the Pittsburgh-based food giant has moved swiftly to reassure consumers it doesn't use genetically modified foods in beans, soups and other products sold there.

Responding to public outcry against such ingredients, H.J. Heinz early this year announced it had eliminated genetically modified crops in products it sells throughout Europe.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Fri, 27 Aug 1999 16:41:01 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-26

Honda unit to build U.S. plant for non-GM soybeans

August 26, 1999

TOKYO, Reuters [WN] via NewsEdge Corporation : Honda Trading Corp, a wholly owned unit of Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co Ltd, said on Wednesday it will build a plant in the U.S. state of Ohio for sorting and bagging soybeans free of genetically modified organisms.

The company plans to spend 600 million yen for a plant that will start operation around October with an annual handling capacity of 20,000 tonnes of soybeans, a spokesman said.

Soybeans to be sorted and bagged at the plant will come from U.S. farmers with contracts with Honda Trading for production of non-GM soybeans. for sale to makers of "tofu" soybean curd.

This year, Honda Trading has contracts with 118 U.S. farmers, who are expected to supply 15,000 tonnes of non-GM soybeans to the company, the spokesman said.

** 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: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 10:18:25 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-27

Thanks to Patricia Dines 73652.1202@compuserve.com for posting the following websites with common questions on GE.

List of GE crops OKed in the US for commercial use

Patricia Dines says: Please feel free to forward to others who you think this will interest.

Here's the address of the page on the UCS site that shows the genetically engineered (GE) crops OKd for commercial use in the U.S. as of 12/98. (Note - It is likely that there have been additional crops OK'd this year, as well as crops being grown under experimental status.) This list is useful for farmers, gardeners, etc. who want to know what SEEDS might be GE.

http://www.ucsusa.org/Gene/w98.market.html

For consumers, who often have questions like "what foods in the SUPERMARKET might be GE?", is this great page on the Mothers for Natural Law site -

http://www.safe-food.org/-consumer/foods.html

As these are common questions, I thought it might be useful to forward the exact website addresses for this info, so we can save people the time of trying to find it on their own, getting them right to the pertinent info!

You might also be interested to know that I have pulled together a longer and updated list of great GE resources on my website, at http://www.monitor.net/~cap/ge.html. Please feel free to check it out, send me any comments you might have, pass the address along to others, and/or put it on your website.

Note: A number of the organizations receiving this email will note that they are included on my GE webpage. Also note that we have a more general resources page at where you might be included and which offers more wonderful resources too.

I hope this information is useful -

Best regards -

Patricia Dines
Community Action Publications
http://www.monitor.net/~cap


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 10:18:25 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-27 Alive Sept.99

Biotech News, by Richard Wolfson, PhD

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

Tobacco with Human Genes

September 1999 issue of Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition

Tobacco plants with human genes are being grown at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's research station at Delphi, near London, Ontario. The plants contain the human gene to produce biochemicals for medical purposes.

The genetically engineered tobacco will soon be grown in fields near the research station. No one knows the long-term effects on the environment or what might happen if the biotech tobacco cross-pollinates and the human gene spreads to other tobacco plants. Another serious concern is the unknown effect on humans who breathe the pollen containing human genes. If you are concerned, contact Dr. Jim Brandle at Agriculture Canada. Phone (519) 663-3326; fax (519) 663-3454; email: brandleje@em.agr.ca.


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Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 10:18:25 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-27 Alive Sept.99

Petition for Labelling in USA

Last June eminent scientists, doctors, public policy experts, industry leaders, and consumer groups submitted petitions to the US President, Congress, USDA, FDA, and EPA. The petitions contained over 500,000 signatures calling for mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods.

At the press conference, Dr. Gary Kaplan, Director of the North Shore University Hospital in New York, explained that inserting genes from other species into plants for human or animal consumption is dangerously unpredictable. Dr. Richard Strohman, Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California at Berkeley, stated that scientists are in the dark in considering how to even begin to assess the long-term effects of genetically modified food. Industry representatives said that the US industry was losing its European market because European consumers were not buying GE foods.


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Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 10:18:25 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-27 Alive Sept.99

Biotech Corn Kills Antibiotics

A report by the UK Ministry of Agriculture states that genetically engineered corn, which contains antibiotic resistance genes, could render useless eight powerful antibiotics used by doctors to fight fatal diseases, including typhoid, pneumonia and infections suffered by Aids patients. The report warns that the antibiotic resistance genes were so powerful that they could degrade an antibiotic in the human gut in 30 minutes.


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Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 10:18:25 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-27 Alive Sept.99

Farmer Destroys Biotech Crops

Captain Fred Barker, the UK farmer who agreed to having the country's first large-scale trial of genetically modified crops on his land, has destroyed these crops with weed-killer. Captain Barker says the trustees of his family farm in Wiltshire forced him to end the trial because they are opposed to the biotech crops. Also, they were unhappy that other crops on the farm would lose their organic status because of the trial.


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Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 10:18:25 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-27 Alive Sept.99

UK Women Push For Ban

IN UK, the National Federation of Women's Institutes, representing more than 250,000 women, voted overwhelmingly in favour of a five-year moratorium on genetically engineered foods. They also demanded that the Government ban imports of genetically engineered foods for the same period, until consumer safety and environmental concerns have been fully investigated. In UK, mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods has been in effect for months, while major food chains have removed GE foods from their brands.


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Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 10:18:25 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-27 Alive Sept.99

Human Embryo Cloning

American researchers in the private sector are working to create the world's first batches of cloned human embryos. One team is trying to clone embryos that are part human and part cow. The researchers claim they are not aiming to create full-grown embryos, but rather to grow embryonic cells for medical research. However, some scientists are concerned that the research could pave the way to the first cloned babies.


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Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 10:18:25 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-27 Alive Sept.99

Dolly's Cells Nine Years Old

The first molecular studies conducted on Dolly, the three-year-old sheep cloned from a six-year-old ewe, found that Dolly's cells are, in essence, at least nine years old. This finding suggests that clones somehow inherit not only the genes, but in some sense the age of the animals from which they are made. Scientists have yet to make heads or tails of this result, which puts the theory and value of cloning into question.

For further information on biotechnology and its hazards, see the website: http://www.concentric.net/~Rwolfson/home.html


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Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 10:18:25 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-27 Alive Sept.99

Carl Pope – Sierra Club's executive director – sent this exellent letter to President Clinton about genetically engineered crops/foods, public health and environmental impacts.

This letter can be widely distributed. Laurel Hopwood, Sierra Club Biotechnology Task Force Chair

Letter to President Clinton

Dear President Clinton,

8/18/99

The Sierra Club, the largest grassroots conservation group in the United States, is joining the many environmental, consumer, religious, and community groups concerned with the safety of genetically engineered organisms (GEOs), particularly in regards to their use in agriculture. Our purpose is to protect the ecosystem and we believe that the rate of application of this technology far exceeds our ability to understand the environmental and public health risks and to avoid potentially serious impacts.

The biotechnology industry makes the misleading claim that genetic engineering is a simple extension of the traditional crossbreeding that nature and farmers have been using for thousands of years. However, there is a drastic difference. While conventional breeders face natural barriers that prevent unrestricted gene transfer between unrelated species, genetic engineers bypass this protective barrier by combining genes from totally unrelated species. Furthermore, the technology involved in transferring foreign genes is imprecise, unstable, and unpredictable, so that engineers have no way of predicting how GEOs will behave once released into the environment.

The Sierra Club calls for:

  1. Extensive, rigorous research on the potential long term environmental and health impacts of GEOs before they are released into the environment.

  2. Use of the precautionary principle, whereby:
    1. harm is avoided before scientific certainty has been established, and
    2. the burden of proof is shifted to those with the power and resources to prevent harm.

  3. Mandatory environmental impact statements to be made for every ecosystem into which any new GEO is to be introduced. These should be based on rigorous science and open public debate.

  4. An end to the concept of "substantial equivalence" by our regulatory agencies as a ploy to sidestep safety studies and oversight responsibilities. For example, toxins meant to kill insects are being genetically engineered into plants, yet the consequences of these toxins in the diets of humans, livestock, beneficial insects, and wildlife are unknown.

  5. Mandatory labeling of genetically altered products after full safety assessment is completed and doing so in a manner that is easily discernible. All consumers, both citizen and corporate, should be given the right to chose what they buy.

  6. Removal of antibiotic resistance genes from all food crops, which are routinely placed in genetically engineered crops. It is recognized that such extensive use of antibiotic marker genes is unnecessary and will likely hasten the development of antibiotic resistant pathogens, depriving us of one of the most profound accomplishments of 20th century medicine.

  7. U.S. commitment not to use trade negotiations or agreements to override the rights of countries to regulate GEOs. The launch of new talks on biotechnology at the upcoming Seattle Summit of the World Trade Organization should not take place without thorough, open, and participatory environmental assessments conducted parallel to the negotiations.

  8. Full U.S. ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity, already ratified by 175 other nations, and forceful leadership to support its goal of protecting the diversity of life on Earth. Recognition that biodiversity is not a luxury but a foundation of life on our planet.

We contend that the risks posed by the current trajectory of genetic engineering in the field of agriculture are profound. We note that:

The Sierra Club calls for the expansion of research into the risks that recombinant DNA technology and its products pose to the natural environment. In the meantime, in the absence of scientific knowledge, the Sierra Club asks that we take a precautionary approach. Until rigorous research is conducted to discern and address the long term impacts of GEOs, particularly in regards to their use in agriculture, such organisms should not be released into the environment.

Respectfully submitted,

Carl Pope

CC: Jane Henney, FDA; Carol Browner, EPA; Dan Glickman, USDA; Jamie Rappaport Clark, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Al Gore, VP of the U.S.; representatives to Congress and Senate

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


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Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 22:16:22 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-29

US Farmer Paid Lots for Seed and Crop Prices Fall

By MELODY PETERSEN, NYTimes August 29

American farmers paid premium prices this spring to sow many of their fields with genetically engineered corn and soybeans, but now as the fall harvest nears, more of the international buyers they depend upon are saying they do not want those crops.

Consumers and food companies in a growing number of countries are shunning the new crops created by genetic engineers at such companies as Monsanto, DuPont and Novartis. Foreign consumers say they do not wish to eat the new foods like corn that have been altered to produce their own pesticide, and some companies are reacting quickly to consumers' desires even though no clear evidence exists that the crops are unsafe.

This week in Japan, for example, the Kirin Brewery Company announced that starting in 2001 it would use only corn that has not been genetically engineered. While bowing to customers' concerns, Kirin made clear that it did not think the products were unhealthy. A day later, Kirin's competitor, Sapporo Breweries, announced that it, too, would revert to traditional corn, which is an ingredient in some types of beer.

The biotechnology industry plays down the recent decisions of some food companies, saying they are overreacting to threats that aren't real. Most consumers, the industry says, do not mind these new products.

Until a few months ago, opposition to genetically altered foods was largely confined to Europe, and trade officials in the United States have been battling the European Union, which has stopped buying all American corn. But this summer, the Clinton Administration's efforts have grown increasingly urgent, in an attempt to contain the aversion to these crops that is leaping from continent to continent.

Japan, which now wants mandatory labeling of gene-altered products, is the largest importer of American crops, and Mexico, whose top producer of corn flour for tortillas is avoiding altered grain, is the second largest importer of American corn.

"This is a very significant trade threat," said Peter Scher, who directs the agricultural negotiations for the United States Trade Representative's Office. "The only thing I can tell farmers is that we are doing everything we can to sell their products overseas."

About a third of American crops, including soybeans and corn, are exported. This year, American farmers planted an estimated 60 million acres (the size of the United Kingdom) with genetically engineered corn and soybean seeds, accounting for nearly half of all soybeans in the United States and about a third of all corn.

Most farmers still expect that they will find a market for much of this year's corn and soybean crops, industry officials say. But they have already been told that seven varieties of gene-altered corn, representing about 5 percent of the expected harvest, will be rejected by corn exporters. Most of that will be ground into animal feed.

Next year's harvest looms as more troublesome, with public sentiment changing, foreign markets shrinking and the agriculture industry struggling to adjust.

For the first time this summer, many corn growers are dealing with costly new issues.

Local grain elevator operators, who buy and store wagonloads of corn to sell to the exporters, have begun asking farmers to separate some types of gene-altered corn from ordinary corn to appease international buyers.

Dennis Mitchell, a farmer in Houghton, S.D., has been an enthusiastic producer of gene-altered corn and planted 600 acres this spring, 80 percent of which is a crop altered to produce a toxin that kills the European corn borer.

He boasts that the new seeds have increased his yield by at least 15 percent, and he has received assurances from local elevator operators that he will be able to sell his grain this year.

But he is paying close attention to the tremors in the marketplace, especially now that American companies like Gerber and Heinz baby foods have announced that they will not use genetically altered corn or soy ingredients. And he is uncertain what he will do next year when spring planting season arrives.

"I wish we could get this cleared up," he said. "I certainly can't raise anything I can't market."

Such uncertainty only adds to the problems of American farmers, who point out that this year's crop prices are the lowest in more than a decade.

"This is such a hard time for us, and then you compound that with this uncertainty," said Gary Goldberg, the chief executive of the American Corn Growers Association, a group that has been opposed to some practices of the biotechnology industry. It represents 14,000 independent farmers.

"Farmers are going to get caught in the middle," he said.

Clinton Administration officials have repeatedly assured consumers that all of the genetically engineered crops that have been approved in the United States are safe for people to eat. And, indeed, there is no compelling scientific evidence that shows the foods are unsafe. But the crops are so new that there is not enough evidence to prove the foods' safety to a minority of scientists who say further studies need to be done.

Dan Glickman, the Secretary of Agriculture, said that the consumers' concerns seemed to be spreading like "an infectious disease."

"This technology," he said, "got a little bit ahead of the politics."

He and Federal trade officials have spent the summer pressing European leaders and agricultural ministers to reconsider what is essentially the European Union's moratorium on new types of gene-altered crops. They have threatened some countries with intercession by the World Trade Organization, arguing that restrictions on these foods run counter to the current science supporting their safety.

Genetic engineering is a process in which scientists splice one organism's genes into another. For example, scientists created the pesticide-producing corn by inserting a gene from a bacterium.

Most of the corn and soybeans have been altered to either produce their own pesticides or to be resistant to herbicides. The first gene-altered seeds were offered to farmers in 1996, and growers snatched them up, quickly making the new biotechnology into a multibillion-dollar business for the seed companies.

The biotechnology companies say that the food companies are caving in to pressure from environmental advocates who have written letters saying that consumers do not want these products.

"Consumers are turning away from these foods in enormously smaller numbers than the activists would have you believe," said L. Val Giddings, a vice president for food and agriculture at the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a trade group of more than 800 companies in Washington.

Still, farmers and trade officials point to new problems. In Mexico, which bought $500 million of American corn last year, Grupo Maseca, the company that is the leading producer of corn flour, said recently that it would avoid importing genetically modified grain. The corn flour is made into tortillas, the Mexican staple.

In South Korea, another large importer of American grain, corn-processing companies said they were considering buying corn from China instead of the United States because of concerns about the gene-altered crop.

And, in Japan, the Government passed a law requiring food companies to label products that have been genetically engineered. (In the United States, Federal officials have only recently said they will consider voluntary labeling.) Preparing for awareness generated by the labeling in Japan, a subsidiary of the Honda Motor Company said this week that it would build a plant in the United States and hire farmers to supply it only with unaltered, conventional soybeans. The soybeans, which would be exported back to Japan, would be made into tofu.

In the United States, where there has been little uproar over the foods, the baby food makers Gerber and H. J. Heinz were the first large food companies to reject the new products. Then Iams, the pet food company, said it would not buy the seven varieties of gene-altered corn that have not been approved by European regulators. Iams's announcement shut down an alternative route that farmers had for that corn that exporters will not accept.

The agricultural industry has begun responding, with exporters trying to devise new methods to bridge the growing gap between farmers and consumers. A two-price system – higher prices for conventional crops and lower prices for genetically-altered crops – is clearly developing. For example, this year, the Archer Daniels Midland Company has been paying some farmers an extra 18 cents for each bushel of non-altered soybeans.

The American Corn Growers Association, which represents mostly family farms, told its members last week that they should consider planting only conventional seeds next spring, unless a host of questions can be answered, including whether the United States will be able to export the genetically altered crops.

The National Corn Growers Association, which is about twice as big as the American Corn Growers Association, and has a financial partnership with Monsanto and some of the other agricultural companies, has not followed suit.

Susan Keith, the group's senior director for public policy, said that the association, which is based in St. Louis, was keeping farmers informed of what types of genetically altered corn could be the hardest to sell, but had not suggested that they consider planting only conventional seeds.

The worries about international trade have deepened farmers' fears of a bleaker economic future.

Prices for most crops are the lowest in 10 years, and farmers say they are concerned that grain prices are falling even further now that foreign consumers are turning away from genetically altered crops. But experts say prices have mostly been affected by the larger harvests in other countries, which have reduced the demand for grain from the United States. In addition, the financial crisis in Asia caused exports to fall last year and prices to drop. And overproduction of some crops continues to hurt prices.

For now, uncertainty about the next planting season is bedeviling the nation's farmers. They cannot predict where the next food backlash will surface and sometimes, even if they do, it is too late.

"It wasn't until May that farmers got word that Europe had not approved certain kinds of corn," Goldberg said. "By then, the corn was in the ground."


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Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 22:22:02 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-30

Thailand urged to enlist ASEAN in genetic food fight

BANGKOK, Aug 27 (AFP) - Southeast Asian nations were urged Friday to join forces to prevent global trade agreements being used to force countries to open their markets to genetically modified crops.

Non-governmental organisations fear forums such as the World Trade Organisation, which holds a new round of negotiations in Seattle in December, could be used to further open markets for multinational food giants which produce genetically modified crops. "The US and Canada, who are the main proponents of genetically modified crops, will be raising the issue at the WTO meeting in Seattle," said Aileen Kwa, a researcher with the Bangkok-based think tank Focus on the Global South.

Witoon Lianchamroon from the Thai NGO Biothai said the premature introduction of genetically modified crops could create an environmental disaster.

"We haven't properly tested what effects these genetically modified crops could have on Thailand's environment and public health," he said.


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Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 22:22:02 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-30

Japan Govt to Inspect Genetically Modified Food - 08/27

Nikkei TOKYO-A government organization will begin to inspect genetically modified foods, which until now has been done by private companies, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported in its Friday evening edition. The Oilstuff Inspectors' Corporation, a food certification body affiliated with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Transport, will begin inspection and certification of soybeans, corn and other grains in autumn on behalf of Marubeni Corp. (J.MRB or 8002), Itochu Corp. (J.CIT or 8001) and other big trading houses.

The government plans to mandate GM labeling in April 2001, but food distributors are likely to accelerate voluntary labeling before then. Oilstuff Inspectors' currently inspects the quality of grain imports at 12 of the nation's ports on behalf of the farm ministry. As soon as early November, it will begin inspecting some 100 shipments per month of 1999 harvest soybeans imported from the U.S. and other countries on behalf of trading houses. Marubeni, Itochu, Mitsui & Co. (MITSY or 8031), Sumitomo Corp. (J.SUT or 8053) and other companies have decided to entrust the inspections to the organization, industry sources said.

The protein content will be measured using the ELISA (enzyme- linked immunosorbent assay) method. The organization says it will be able to measure the content of GM grains in units of 0.1%. Trading houses and foodstuff makers will label their products based on the results of the tests, which will cost them about Y20,000 per sample.

The farm ministry's inspection and certification method will take into account increasingly vocal opposition from the U.S., which fears that clear labeling could mean the end of the road for GM foods, the report said. (END) DOW JONES NEWS 08-27-99


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Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 22:22:02 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-30

Thanks to US farmer Jim Winiger for forwarding this letter and to nlpwessex@bigfoot.com for posting this on the internet:

US Merchants Introduce NON-GE Schemes

As GMO crops become increasingly unsaleable on international markets, US merchants are rapidly introducing schemes to encourage American farmers to switch back out of GMOS in 2000.

The Consolidated Grain and Barge Company is one of the latest US companies to take such steps and has indicated to its producers that consignments containing GMO contamination 'no matter how trival' will not be eligible for premium prices (CGB letter to producers 26 August 1999):

"CGB will be contracting 'non GMO' beans and corn this coming crop year. We are currently finalizing our premium schedule and delivery periods.

Segregating 'non GMO' grains on farm will pay dividends this coming year. Please make sure when switching from GMO varieties to 'non GMO' varieties that you clean, combines, trucks and wagons, conveying equipment, and especially bins. The testing standards and tolerance levels will be very tight and any contamination, no matter how trivial it may seem, will lead to positive test and will be rejected for 'non GMO' premiums.....

As suppliers we have to be responsible in meeting the needs of our customers."

For more information contact:

Charlie Laird
Regional Merchandising Manager
Consolidated Grain and Barge Co
Post Office Box 548/Mt Vernon
Indiana 47520

Tel: (812) 838 - 4017     Fax: (812) 838 -2572


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Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 22:22:02 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-30

Why Genetically Altered Food Won't Conquer Hunger

By PETER ROSSET, New York Times, September 1, 1999

OAKLAND, Calif. – In the debate over genetically altered foods, proponents like Senator Richard Luger, the Indiana Republican, argue that such products will be essential if we are to feed the world. But this claim rests on two persistent misconceptions about hunger: first, that people are hungry because of high population density, and second, that genetic engineering is the best or only way to meet our future needs.

In fact, there is no relationship between the prevalence of hunger in a given country and its population. For every densely populated and hungry nation like Bangladesh, there is a sparsely populated and hungry nation like Brazil.

The world today produces more food per inhabitant than ever before. Enough is available to provide 4.3 pounds to every person every day: two and a half pounds of grain, beans and nuts, about a pound of meat, milk and eggs, and another of fruits and vegetables – more than anyone could ever eat.

The real problems are poverty and inequality. Too many people are too poor to buy the food that is available or lack land on which to grow it themselves.

The second misconception is that genetic engineering is the best way to boost food production. There are two principal technologies on the market. Monsanto makes "Roundup Ready" seeds, which are engineered to withstand its herbicide, Roundup. These seeds – usually soybeans, canola or cotton -- allow farmers to apply the herbicide widely.

Monsanto and several other companies also produce "Bt" seeds – usually corn, potatoes and cotton – which are engineered so that each plant produces its own insecticide.

Some researchers have shown that none of the genetically engineered seeds significantly increase the yield of crops. Indeed, in more than 8,200 field trials, the Roundup Ready seeds produced fewer bushels of soybeans than similar natural varieties, according to a study by Dr. Charles Benbrook, the former director of the Board on Agriculture at the National Academy of Sciences.

Far from being a solution to the world's hunger problem, the rapid introduction of genetically engineered crops may actually threaten agriculture and food security.

First, widespread adoption of herbicide-resistant seeds may lead to greater use of chemicals that kill weeds. Yet, many noncrop plants are used by small farmers in the third world as supplemental food sources and as animal feed. In the United States, the Fish and Wildlife Service has found that Roundup already threatens 74 endangered plant species.

Biological pollution from genetically engineered organisms may be another problem. Monsanto is poised to acquire the rights to a genetic engineering technique that renders a crop's seeds sterile, insuring that farmers are dependent on Monsanto for new seed every year. Farming in the third world could be crippled if these genes contaminate other local crops that the poor depend on. And such genes could unintentionally sterilize other plants, according to a study by Martha Crouch, an associate professor of biology at Indiana University. Half the world's farmers rely on their own saved seed for each year's harvest.

A true solution to the problem of hunger depends on attacking poverty and inequality among both producers and consumers of food. A food system increasingly dependent on genetically altered seeds takes us in the wrong direction. Peter Rosset is director of the Institute for Food and Development Policy and co-author of "World Hunger: Twelve Myths."


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Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 22:22:02 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-30

"The Ship of Fools Sails On"

By Joe Cummins, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Genetics
University of Western Ontario, E-mail: jcummins@julian.uwo.ca, September 1, 1999

Earlier I described experiments done in London, Ontario in which tobacco plants modified with human interleuken genes ( a regulator of the immune system) were field tested without prior animal tests to determine the toxicity and without open discussion prior to the tests. Such gene products are active at very low dose and released from the test site in pollen, by sucking insects and in surface and ground water from damaged or decaying plant material.

Some of those undertaking the above experiment have been involved with promoting the humanized pig to human transplants. Novartis sponsored the Ontario project using humanized pigs from the Cambridge, England project which has been delayed by the "international" moratorium based on the observed release of endogenous retrovirus from pig cells to human cells when the living tissues were placed in contact. London, Ontario has been relatively free of public scrutiny and the Canadian news media tend to identify themselves with government authority and large companies and to avoid issues that distress authorities.

Today, it was announced that the Cambridge humanized pigs had been used for several months in transplant experiments with baboons. The baboons transplanted with humanized pig kidneys did not immediately reject the kidneys showing the experiment was a success. However, the baboons rejected the transplants within two months and died in great pain. Presently transplanted animals are being treated with anti-rejection drugs and it is expected that the animals will tolerate the humanized pig grafts. The experiments were undertaken without public review and kept secret.

Baboons being closely related to human do not seem to be a safe way to avoid the problem of virus release. Such virus could easily spread rapidly because human has not previously encountered them. A worldwide epidemic could follow within two or three years of the first release. Therefore the issue is a global, not a local concern. Furthermore, local authorities ,conniving with a multinational company and the national government ,will certainly undertake human transplants under conditions of extreme secrecy. Clearly, the residents of London and Ontario are being used as white mice in dangerous experiments. Along with that the world population is being put a great risk without any chance to express permission or not.


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Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 22:22:02 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN8-30

Japan food maker to drop gene-altered soybeans

TOKYO, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Japan's largest maker of soybean protein food products, Fuji Oil Co Ltd, said on Wednesday the group will stop using genetically modified (GM) soybeans by next April due to consumer concern over the safety of bioengineered crops.

Fuji Oil will start switching to non-GM soybeans in the October-March period, a company spokesman said. Until now Fuji Oil has not distinguished between GM and non-GM soybeans when placing orders.

The Fuji Oil group uses 80,000-100,000 tonnes of soybeans annually, most of which is imported from the United States.

** 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, 3 Sep 1999 06:40:32 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-2

Thanks to Dorothy Bowes asehaqld@powerup.com.au for posting this:

Call to Phase Out Marker Genes in Genetically Modified Food.

Ref. PAYNE, D. , Australian Doctor. 1999 p.46, 16 July

Swift phasing out of the use of antibiotic markers in genetically modified foods is being called for by the UK's Opposition Liberal Democratic party. This follows concerns that an antibiotic resistance marker gene inserted into a type of genetically modified maize could degrade an antibiotic in the human gut in 30 minutes.

Publishing excerpts from leaked letters, London's Independent newspaper, claims this information was conveyed to the British Government al long ago as 1995, and that the Government's Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes had also warned that the antibiotic resistance genes could mutate


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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 06:40:32 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-2

Thanks to jim@niall7.demon.co.uk (jim mcnulty) for posting this:

Campaigners, stores welcome ADM call on gene crops

By Christopher Lyddon

LONDON, Sept 2 (Reuters) - European campaigners said they were one step closer to victory on Thursday after reports U.S. grain giant Archer Daniels Midland Co (NYSE:ADM - news) called on growers to segregate genetically modified and conventional crops.

The move was welcomed by the British Retail Consortium, the trade association which represents all shops, including the big supermarkets.

"It is a shame they couldn't do this two years ago when BRC first suggested it to them," a spokesman said. "We are pleased to hear that ADM have made the call for segregation. It will help British food retailers in their efforts to source non-GM ingredients."

"It's great news," said a spokeswoman for environmental group Greenpeace, long-time opponents of genetic modification.

"It's excellent that they're doing this finally after having said for years that it was impossible to segregate," she said.


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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 06:40:32 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-2

GM Firms Top of Ethical Investors' Blacklist

The Scotsman August 31, 1999

RESEARCH giants working on genetically modified foods are now second only to arms manufacturers as investment pariahs with ethical investors.

A survey of socially responsible investors by the Ethical Investment Trust shows that concern about investing in businesses carrying out GM research among firms has gone from being a minor issue two years ago to investors' second biggest concern.

The report follows the revelation that [ Deutsche Bank ] , Europe's biggest bank, has advised leading investors to sell their shares in companies involved in the GM foods industry.

Guy Hooker, the director of the Ethical Investment Co-operative's Edinburgh branch, said the explosion in awareness about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the call to avoid them had been staggering.

"In 'top of the pops' terms, they've gone straight in at number two. In short, the public don't want GMOs on their plate, or in their portfolios," he said.

"They don't want to invest in GMOs on ethical grounds quite apart from the unquantifiable financial risk that exists."

He added: "Coming as this information does on the heels of the Deutsche Bank's warning to its clients of the potential financial risks of investing in genetically modified foods, it clearly shows that an ethical dimension to investment choice actually reduces investment risk."

The trust surveyed investors on their top 25 ethical concerns. Mr Hooker said GMO businesses had overtaken the traditional pariahs such as cigarette and alcohol businesses, to secure number two spot. He believed that the London-listed firm most likely to be boycotted is AstraZeneca, the British-Swedish pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals group, which grows genetically modified tomatoes, used in tomato paste. The company's agrochemical division is also working on developing genetically altered potatoes and rice.

In May, AstraZeneca's annual meeting in London was disrupted by protesters dressed as tomatoes from the campaign group, Genetic Engineering Network. About 20 demonstrators were also involved in an occupation of the company's headquarters.

Deutsche Bank said growing negative sentiment was also creating problems for [ Monsanto ] , the American biotechnology company and Novartis, the Swiss life sciences group.

Last year, Monsanto came under fire after the revelation that its genetically modified soya beans were being shipped to Europe and mixed with ordinary soya. Campaigners attacked the move as a ploy to force the public to eat transgenic food.


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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 06:40:32 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-2

Virus-Resistant Crops Could Help Weeds

Alison Power, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
E331A Corson Hall, Cornell University

Genetic engineering cereals to resist the barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) might indirectly cause farmers difficulties in controlling related weeds, says a researcher. A report presented at the Ecological Society of America's annual meeting indicates that the resistance engineered into oats could spread to wild oats, a problematic weed. Transgenic barley and oats that can resist BYDV have been developed, but there is concern that because these crops can hybridize with wild relatives, that the introduced genes will escape into related weeds. Alison Power, an ecologist at Cornell University says that if wild oats gain resistance to BYDV, they could become a much larger problem for farmers, and might also disrupt natural habitats outcompeting other native species.

Power grew oats and wild oats in greenhouses and infected them with the BYDV. She found that infected wild oats did not perform well: they were much thinner and had shorter roots than uninfected controls and infected oats. Infected wild oats also produced fewer seeds than normal. "A BYDV-resistant transgene transfer seems likely to help wild oat survivability," concludes Power.

Contact: Alison Power, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, E331A Corson Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853,USA.

Tel. +1 (607) 254 4233    Fax: +1 (607) 255 8088
Email: agp4@cornell.edu    http://www.es.cornell.edu/power/power.html


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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 06:40:32 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-2

U.S. farmers face extra work, costs in GM crop battle

By Bob Burgdorfer

CHICAGO, Sept 2 (Reuters) - The global battle over genetically modified crops moved closer to U.S. farmers this week when agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. (NYSE:ADM - news) warned suppliers to keep such crops separate from conventional ones.

With harvest only days away in the Corn Belt, farmers and grain merchants heeding the warning will be forced to absorb additional storage and handling costs, industry sources said. said Kevin Aandahl, spokesman for the National Corn Growers Association.

Crops genetically altered to resist pests or herbicides debuted three years ago in the United States and their use has skyrocketed. An estimated 35 percent of this year's U.S. corn crop and 55 percent of soybeans – almost five billion bushels in total – will derive from genetically modified (GM) seeds.

But consumer groups in Asia and the European Union (EU), both major export markets, have generated a tide of protest against the use of GM crops in foods and livestock feed.

ADM said in a statement this week that some customers are basing their purchases on the genetic origin of crops. We encourage you as our supplier to segregate nongenetically enhanced the statement said.

ADM is a major buyer of crops, with more than 500 grain elevators and 355 crop processing plants worldwide.

ADM's request was not unexpected. The American Soybean Association advised its members earlier this year to expect requests to keep GM and conventional crops separated. We are anticipating that Japan alone is going to be needing 700,000 said ASA spokesman Bob Callanan.


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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 06:40:32 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-2

Canadian groups join in anti-GM food fight

By Irene Marushko

WINNIPEG, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Several Canadian environmental and public interest groups said on Thursday they would join forces to educate Canadians about genetically modified (GM) foods and possibly push to have them removed from store shelves. We arrived at agreement around the table that we wanted to work together, that public education was necessary, and to look at the regulatory said Jean Christie of Rural Advancement Foundation International.

The group, which monitors Canada's international policy negotiations on biodiversity, joined environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians, an independent citizens' group, to act together on the issue.

The groups at the least advocate labeling of GM food products made from crops that have been genetically modified to resist pests or herbicides.

At the most, they want sales of the products stopped. Christie told Reuters from Ottawa.

She said more research must be done to ensure that GM foods are safe to human health. The foods came into wide use in North America three years ago.

Awareness of GM foods has been slow to grow in Canada and the United States, in sharp contrast to Europe where protests have been so strong that many retailers have refused to sell GM products.

European buyers have rejected Canadian canola, a major oilseed crop which is mostly genetically modified.

Canadian farmers also grow GM soybeans and corn, but the province of Ontario recently said it would begin segregating GM corn from regular corn to meet the demands of buyers who are responding to public concerns. We never had a

The agricultural industry in North America has defended GM products, saying they are no different from regular food.

But several large agribusiness companies have started to ask grain suppliers to segregate the crops to meet customer demands.

European protests have centered on concerns about the health and environmental effects of GM crops and foods, and consumer groups, food makers and supermarkets have increasingly demanded segregation and labeling of GM food products.

Christie estimated that 84 million acres worldwide have been planted to GM crops. This area is forecast to increase to 140 million acres next year. They (GM crops) are in two-thirds of the processed food that's sold in she said.

U.S. agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. (NYSE:ADM - news) recently warned its grain suppliers to begin segregating genetically modified corn, soybeans and other crops from conventional crops.


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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 06:40:32 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-2

US corn sales to Iberia could resume if GMOs segregated

By David Brough

LISBON, Sept 2 (Reuters) - A reported call by U.S. grain giant Archer Daniels Midland Co (NYSE:ADM - news) for growers to segregate genetically modified (GM) from conventional crops could lead to a resumption of sales of U.S. cut-levy maize to Iberia, Spanish traders said.

The U.S. has made no sales of reduced-levy corn to Spain and Portugal for many months because of concerns among importers that shipments may include GM varieties not yet approved by the European Union (EU).

The Wall Street Journal reported in Thursday's online edition that ADM was faxing statements on crop segregation to grain elevators throughout the U.S. Midwest in what the Journal called a sign that concern in Europe and Asia about GM crops was affecting American exporters.

** 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.