Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


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1 October 99

Table of Contents

U.S. Plans Labels On Genetically Modified Foods
Frozen Foods Supplier First to go GM-free
Frankenstein's Harvest -- North American Farmers Face Catch 22
Monsanto hints at U-turn on GM food in Britain
Biotech Firms Seek To Calm Farmers
UK Protesters Dressed as Cows Tell Blair: No GM
Critics Rally Against Genetically Altered Food
Italy: Government 'arrests' cloned bull
Campaigner sees new Monsanto strategy
North American campaign begins against GE cotton
Canada: Loblaws target of genetic food protest
Toronto: Activists, farmers argue over modified food
Japan Seeks Discussion On Modified Food Rules
Canada: Loblaws should eventually remove all such products.
Biotech Soybeans Deficient
Industry Claims Torpedoed
Roundup Linked to Cancer
UK: Marks & Spencer First to go GE-Free
FDA Ignored Warnings
Codex Fails to Approve Hormone
Greenpeace and Council of Canadians Expose Food Industry Double Standards On Genetically Engineered Food
Cattle Won't Eat GM Grain
GM Crops -- Genetic Pollution Proved
Tony Blair Frustrated as Conference Hotel and Granita go GM Free
GM Pollen Getting Around
Europe seeking GM-free soymeal, Brazil seen source
Thai farmers want ban on gene-altered seed imports BANGKOK:
Canada: Percy versus Monsanto

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Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 10:46:08 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Thanks to nlpwessex@bigfoot.com for posting this

U.S. Plans Labels On Genetically Modified Foods

By Doug Palmer, Friday September 24

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. government agencies have agreed to develop a labeling plan for food products made from genetically modified crops, a key demand of the biotech-wary European market, an industry consultant said Friday.

Consultant Charles Benbrook said the decision was made earlier this week at a meeting between officials of the U.S. Agriculture Department, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Things will move slowly, as they always do. But there definitely was a major breakthrough," Benbrook, a consultant for Consumers Union and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, told reporters.

But Isi Siddiqui, a trade adviser to Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, told Reuters he had no knowledge of the agreement.

The Food and Drug Administration, which has jurisdiction over labeling issues, has resisted putting labels on food products containing genetically modified ingredients, such as new corn and soybeans varieties that U.S. farmers have planted in increasing numbers since 1996.

The FDA has argued labeling is unwarranted because genetically modified crops are not materially different from traditional varieties.

Benbrook said he learned from Agriculture Department officials that the United States hopes to develop a labeling proposal in time for an important meeting of the World Trade Organization, the global trade body, in Seattle in November.

Genetically modified crops are expected to be a major issue in the next round of world trade negotiations that begin with the Seattle meeting, spurred by consumer demands in the European Union and other countries.

Benbrook said the United States was rushing to try to develop a labeling proposal to take to Seattle. The United State risks walking into a "bee's nest" at that meeting because it is nearly alone in its opposition to labeling, he said.


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Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 10:46:08 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Thanks to nlpwessex@bigfoot.com for posting the next article

Frozen Foods Supplier First to go GM-free

by Lauren Mills, Sept. 19 /99, Electronic Telegraph (UK)

Brake Bros., Britain's biggest distributor of frozen foods, has, according to this story, eradicated genetically modified ingredients from all its products, making it the first wholesale catering supplier to be totally GM-free.

From today, the group promises that all 2,000 food items it supplies to retaurants, hotels, schools and hospitals will be free of GM ingredients. The blanket GM ban covers products carrying manufacturers' brand names as well as Brake's own-label ranges across Brake Bros Foodservice, Larderfresh and Country Choice...

Ian Player, Brake Bros' chief executive, was cited as saying he hopes the move will help boost the group's sales, adding, "It is what our customers want and we are here to satisfy them. People are concerned about the issue wherever they eat. I think it will give us an advantage over our rivals, especially on the health and education side."


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Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 10:46:08 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Frankenstein's Harvest – North American Farmers Face Catch 22

http://cnnfn.news-real.com/story/19990923/19/50/5961223_st.html
-- Canada Newswire

TORONTO, Sept. 23 /CNW/ - Bug-infested crops or genetically engineered seeds? From a farmer's perspective, the latter undoubtedly holds greater appeal. But public opinion battles against genetically modified (GM) foods are prevalent and North American farmers are caught in international crossfire.

What began as a concern for health risks related to GM seeds has in the past year transpired into a costly disruption of international food markets. Most of the controversy to date has occurred outside North America. However, 60% of food on Canadian shelves contains GM components, meaning it's just a matter of time until domestic manufacturers find themselves targeted.

[ Monsanto Co. ] – which had US$8.6 billion in net sales in 1998 and makes 88% of the GM seed sold in the US – is the leader in its field, sharing the market with Novartis, DuPont and other multinational companies. As Canadian Business reveals in its October 8, 1999 issue, Monsanto is taking most of the heat as international backlash by consumers and advocates ensues. Adding insult to injury, Monsanto has responded to the challenge with aggression and confrontation - so much so that it is alienating its own customers - specifically farmers who are fearful that Monsanto's poor PR job will prove detrimental to the entire GM industry.

Most fearful are the Prairie farmers, many of whom generate canola crops with Monsanto's Roundup Ready seeds. This year, the GM giant has accused more than 16 Prairie farmers of growing Roundup Ready canola without signing the company's unique technology use agreement (TUA). Farmers fear for their rights, and exacerbating those fears is the knowledge that Monsanto has hired a private investigation firm to pursue leads on suspected patent infringers and TUA violators.


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Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 10:46:08 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Monsanto hints at U-turn on GM food in Britain

by Oliver Morgan, The Observer 26/9/99. (UK)
Sunday September 26, 1999, GM food: special report

Monsanto, the US biotech corporation, has indicated that it is considering a major climbdown over genetically modified food in Britain. It has offered to use its vast gene databases to help plant breeders create new varieties of crops using traditional cross-breeding techniques.

The aim is to exploit biologists' newly obtained knowledge of plant DNA while avoiding the highly controversial use of genetic modification which has embroiled the industry, and in particular Monsanto, in widespread protests over the planting of GM crops. The company believes that by combining old plant-breeding techniques with modern biological knowledge it can defuse the surge of 'bio-angst' now sweeping Europe.

The idea was put forward this month by senior Monsanto executives at a series of secret meetings with environmental groups. At one session with the Soil Association, Monsanto president Hendrik Verfaillie presented the alternative use for the company's genetic expertise, and asked if this would satisfy environmental and consumer concerns.

Environmentalists say the move is a significant change in policy for the company based in St Louis, Missouri. Up to now it has been the strongest advocate of GM agriculture and food science in Britain, mounting a vigorous campaign in favour of the technology.

The new technique centres on exploiting 'genomics' - the ability to map out the genetic make up of organisms. Instead of splicing genes, genetic profiles of hundreds of different varieties within a species of plant - such as corn - would be fed into a computer.

Farmers could then go to companies like Monsanto, tell them what soil type, pests and other environmental problems they faced, and scientists could use the database to cross-breed varieties to meet the problems and provide seeds.

Cross-breeding has been accepted practice by farmers for decades, but was commercially impractical because without detailed genetic information it has been a process of trial and error.

Patrick Holden of the Soil Association said: 'What was said has huge significance. It shows that Monsanto is thinking about reversing their whole strategy. We believe Monsanto is open to a full rethink of what it is doing.'

** 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: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:28:17 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Thanks to Jonathan Matthews mail@icsenglish.com for posting this:

Biotech Firms Seek To Calm Farmers

By Robert Steyer
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sunday, September 26, 1999

Industry is being battered by:

Stung by overseas protests against biotechnology and food, America's agribusiness industry has stepped up efforts to calm farmers' concerns about finding markets for their crops. ...

The agribusiness response is the result of several controversies rippling through the food business:


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:28:17 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

UK Protesters Dressed as Cows Tell Blair: No GM

09/26 1426

BOURNEMOUTH, England (Reuters) - Hundreds of protesters opposed to genetically modified foods marched to the annual conference of Britain's ruling Labor party Sunday dressed as cows and chickens, with one message for the government – "say no to GM."

Five hundred people, including small children, gathered outside Labour's centennial conference in a carnival-like atmosphere to ram home fears about the safety of GM technology. They called on Prime Minister Tony Blair to end the sale of GM food and crop trials and referred to a list of 100 world scientists calling for a five-year moratorium on all GM testing.

The procession of farmyard animals against so-called "Frankenstein foods" broke into song and dance, before presenting a petition of between 10,000 and 15,000 signatures to the government. The demonstrators' repertoire included "Old Monsanto had a farm," an adaptation of a children's rhyme in reference to one of the leading players in the GM food industry – Monsanto Co of the United States.


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:28:17 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Critics Rally Against Genetically Altered Food

CBC Newsworld Online WebPosted Mon Sep 27 07:21:44 1999

OTTAWA – Two national advocacy groups launch a campaign Monday against genetically modified vegetables and processed food.

The Council of Canadians and Greenpeace planned to hold information pickets outside selected stores across the Canada.

They want supermarkets to pull genetically modified foods off the shelves.

"The more people know about genetic engineering being in their food, the more they get concerned and the more they want it out," said Michael Khoo of Greenpeace.

Oil from modified canola plants is an example, Khoo says, because many Canadians are not aware that scientists have been tinkering with the crop to make it hardier.

Companies fiddle with nature to make growing the crops easier and the product's appearance more palatable to the consumer.

There are now about 40 genetically altered plants grown on a large scale in Canada, according to federal regulators.


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:28:17 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Italy: Government 'arrests' cloned bull

ROME - AP World News via NewsEdge Corporation, September 27, 1999

Poor Galileo. Just a youngster and he's under arrest – locked in a stall and accused of being a freak. The young bovine's crime? He's a clone. Thursday at a dairy cattle show in Cremona. The backlash was swift. proclaimed a prominent Green senator, Maurizio Pieroni.

The next day, the Health Ministry confiscated Galileo pending an investigation into his creation. They also arrested his dad, a famous bull named Zoldo.

Galileo was born at a laboratory in Cremona under the guidance of Italian veterinarian Cesare Galli, who worked with the Scottish scientist who created Dolly the sheep in 1997.


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:28:17 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Campaigner sees new Monsanto strategy

By Christopher Lyddon, Monday September 27, 1999

LONDON, Sept 27 (Reuters) - U.S. biotechnology company Monsanto is likely to review its strategy on gene crops after meeting environmental campaigners, Britain's leading exponent of organic farming said on Monday. It is implicit in their coming to see us that they must be open to Patrick Holden, Director of the Soil Association, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

The Association, which campaigns and set standards for organic farming in Britain, had met Monsanto representatives and had reiterated its opposition to genetically modified crops. he


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:28:17 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

North American campaign begins against GE cotton

Mon, 27 Sep 1999 23:09:15 -0400

"The clothing company LANDS END have confirmed that their cotton clothing is made from GM cotton. Call them on Freephone 0800 220106 and give them your views on this, and request that they source natural, non-GM cotton. Ask for written details of their position on GM, and let them know that a UK-wide boycott of all Land's End products is being planned by GM campaigners and consumer groups."

The phone number of LANDS' END in America and Canada is 1-800-963-4816. They do not have an email address, as they prefer real talking.


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:28:17 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Canada: Loblaws target of genetic food protest

BY Mark Stevenson, The Standard (St. Catharines), Tuesday, September 28, 1999

Greenpeace and Council of Canadians pick largest retailer to publicize `risks' of genetic engineering

TORONTO – Canada's largest grocery chain was the target of a national campaign Monday to make consumers aware of what public interest groups say is the potential risk of genetically modified food. Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians are calling on consumers to pressure Loblaws and affiliated companies to label all genetically modified products and eventually remove them from shelves because of unknown threats to humans and the environment.

The two groups say Canadians are being denied the same rights as consumers in Europe, where 10 international food companies have removed such modified We're here today to call on Loblaws, SuperStores and the rest ... to offer Jennifer Story of the Council of Canadians said at a press conference We can't wait for our government to '


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:28:17 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Toronto: Activists, farmers argue over modified food

The Guardian (Charlottetown), Tuesday, September 28, 1999 Page A1

TORONTO – The battle over genetically modified food moved to a new front Monday as activists and farmers came face-to-face in shouting matches outside a grocery store. The scene was a Loblaws store in mid-Toronto where Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians launched a public-awareness campaign urging customers to ask the foodstore chain to remove all genetically modified foods from its products. The groups say such foods pose risks to the environment and unknown consequences for consumers.


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:28:17 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Japan Seeks Discussion On Modified Food Rules

Nikkei TOKYO, 09/28 DJ

(Nikkei) – Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries plans to suggest that a comprehensive discussion on the creation of international rules on genetically modified (GM) foods be held at the next round of WTO negotiations in 2000, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported in its Wednesday morning edition. The proposal is to be made at a meeting of agriculture ministers from five countries to be held in Montreal beginning Thursday, the newspaper reported.


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:28:17 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Note: The following event was covered nationwide across Canada, from Vancouver to Prince Edward Island. Yet, it was not covered in the Ottawa Citizen, which serves the nation's capital. Why?

*************************

Canada: Loblaws should eventually remove all such products.

The Vancouver Sun September 28, 1999,

Grocery chain asked to label all genetically modified foods: Two lobby groups say Loblaws should eventually remove all such products.

TORONTO – Canada's largest grocery chain was the target of a national campaign Monday to make consumers aware of what public interest groups say is the potential risk of genetically modified food.

Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians are calling on consumers to pressure Loblaws and affiliated companies to label all genetically modified products and eventually remove them from shelves because of unknown threats to humans and the environment. The two groups say Canadians are being denied the same rights as consumers in Europe, where 10 international food but refuse ''We're here today to call on Loblaws, SuperStores and the rest ... to offer shoppers the basic right to buy food Jennifer Story of the Council of Canadians said at a press conference outside a Toronto Loblaws Monday.

** 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: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 22:02:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson Alive Oct. 1999

Biotech News, by Richard Wolfson, PhD

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

Biotech Soybeans Deficient

New research shows that genetically engineered (GE) soybeans may be less potent sources of phytoestrogens than their conventional precursors. The research, published in the Journal of Medicinal Food (Vol. 1, no. 4, 1999), reported an overall reduction in phytoestrogen levels of 12-14 percent in genetically altered soybeans, compared to non-GE varieties. Soy foods are recommended largely for their dietary phytoestrogen content.

This research refutes claims that genetically engineered foods are 'substantially equivalent' to their non-GE counterparts. Genetically engineered herbicide-resistant soy is already on the market in Canada, unlabelled and mixed in with conventional varieties.


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 22:02:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson Alive Oct. 1999

Industry Claims Torpedoed

New research by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that biotech crops do not produce higher yields or result in reduced pesticide use, as claimed by industry.

American experts studied biotech soy, corn, and cotton across huge tracts of the U.S. farming belt, where both GE and non-GE varieties were being grown. The researchers found no increase in yields from GE crops in 12 of 18 areas. In some areas, conventional varieties produced yields 10 percent or more higher than comparable GE varieties.

In 7 of 12 areas studied, farmers growing biotech varieties used at least the same amount of pesticide as those growing traditional crops. Farmers growing Roundup Ready (herbicide-resistant) soybeans used 2 to 5 times more herbicide per acre, compared to the other popular weed management systems with non-GE soybeans. The research shoots down arguments that Frankenstein foods could help stop hunger in the Third World, or are more environmentally friendly.


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 22:02:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson Alive Oct. 1999

Roundup Linked to Cancer

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Cancer Society (March 15, 1999) showed that exposure to the herbicide glyphosate results in increased risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer.

Glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup, is the world's most widely used herbicide. Seventy-one percent of biotech crops planted in 1998 (including biotech soy, canola, and corn) were genetically engineered to be resistant to glyphosate or other herbicides. Herbicide resistant crops allow increased use of these toxic chemicals to kill weeds.


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 22:02:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson Alive Oct. 1999

UK: Marks & Spencer First to go GE-Free

Marks & Spencer, one of UK's largest food chains, announced that it has become the first major UK retailer to go completely genetically-engineered food free. From July 1, all M&S foods were produced without GE ingredients or derivatives. More than 5,000 ingredients made from soy and corn were checked and changes were made to 1,800 recipes to strip all products of GE ingredients or derivatives.


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 22:02:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson Alive Oct. 1999

FDA Ignored Warnings

Records from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reveal that in approving genetically engineered foods, the agency ignored some of its own scientists. These people repeatedly cautioned against GE foods because of unexpected and untested toxins and allergens.

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


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 22:02:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson Alive Oct. 1999

Codex Fails to Approve Hormone

At a recent Codex (the international food regulating body) meeting in Rome, governments failed to agree on an international standard on genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (BGH). BGH is widely used in USA, where it injected into cows to increase milk production. BGH is not allowed in Canada or EU due to concerns for both human and animal safety.

Failure to agree on Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for BGH means that individual governments will maintain their freedom to decide whether to allow BGH in their countries. Consumers International applauded the decision not to approve BGH internationally as a victory for the health and safety of consumers.


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 22:02:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson Alive Oct. 1999

Greenpeace and Council of Canadians Expose Food Industry Double Standards On Genetically Engineered Food

Toronto, September 27 /CNW/

Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians today called on the country's food retailers and producers to give Canadians the same environmental and health protection that Europeans receive and take genetically engineered (GE) foods off retail shelves.

At a news conference in front of a Loblaws supermarket, the organizations released documents from ten international food companies who have taken genetically engineered ingredients out of their products in Europe, but refuse to do so in Canada. The companies include: Nestle, Kellogg's, Mars, Heinz, Cadbury, Kraft, Unilever, General Mills, Campbells, and Frito-Lay. Food producers and retailers cannot justify this double standard. These letters show that it is possible to give the consumer GE-free food. If genetically engineered he said.

Responses gathered from three major Canadian food chains (Loblaws, Sobeys and Safeway) also revealed a refusal to provide consumers with GE-free choices. These also contrast with statements from Britain's top supermarket chains, Mark's & Spencer, Sainsbury's, Safeways', and Tesco which pride themselves on providing customers with GE-free food.

The groups called on consumers to pressure Loblaws to remove GE No Name'' brand products, phase out GE from all other products in the store; ensure that all fresh produce remains GE-free and, in the meantime, label all GE products on the shelves. Genetically engineered foods have not been proven safe for human health and the environment. As the largest grocery chain in Canada, Loblaws has the obligation to take the lead, and take genetically said Jennifer Story, health protection campaigner for the Council of Canadians.

The groups assembled grocery carts with a wide range of popular Canadian food brands that probably contain genetically engineered ingredients: processed foods made with soya bean by-products (lecithin), chips and cereals made from corn, and oils made from canola. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, approximately 60-75% of all Canadian processed food contains GE ingredients.

Both groups noted scientific concerns that the planting and consumption of genetically engineered foods has gone ahead with no long-term government testing for heath or environmental impacts.

Elizabeth Abergel, a molecular biologist working on food regulatory The timelines necessary for proper assessment of environmental and human health risks are being compromised by a commercial desire to rush this to market. If a threat develops, we won't

For further information: Greenpeace:

Council of Canadians:

Note to editors: Footage of genetically engineered crops and foods available.


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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 22:02:39 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson Alive Oct. 1999

Thanks to NLPWessex for posting this:

Cattle Won't Eat GM Grain

U.S. farmer, ACRES, USA Special Report 19 September 1999.

"The humans will eat this stuff, but the animals won't."

After four months of retrieving anecdotes from Kansas to Wisconsin, I think its high time to sample the producer community more thoroughly to see how many stories there are out there.

Tell us more about the hogs that wouldn't eat the ration when the GMO crops were included. About the farmer who said ' Well, if you want your cattle to go off their feed, just switch them out to a GMO silage.'

About the farmer who said that his cattle broke through an old fence and ate down the non-GMO hybrids but wouldn't touch the Round-up ready corn, and as a matter of fact, "They had to walk through the GMOs to get to the Pioneer 3477 on the other side."

About the cattleman who saw the weight-gain of his cattle fall off when he switched over to GMO sources. About the organic farmer with a terrible deer problem on his soybeans, and when he drives out at night there are forty of them mowing down his tofu beans while across the road there isnít one doe eating on the Round-up Readies.

About the raccoons romping by the dozen in the organic corn, while down the road there isn't one ear that's been touched in the Bt fields. Even the mice will move on down the line if given an alternative to these 'crops'.

What is it that they know instinctively that most of us ignore? I have been travelling around with a bag of contaminated cob corn on the floor of my vehicle, and I have begun to think of it as if it was a bag of plutonium. "

** 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, 1 Oct 1999 21:57:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

GM Crops – Genetic Pollution Proved

Wednesday 29th September 1999

by Neil Verlander Press Office Friends of the Earth 0171 566 1649

GM Pollen Found Miles from Trial Site

Government policy on GM food and crops suffered another shattering blow today after GM oilseed rape pollen was found by scientists four and a half kilometres from an official farm scale trial site [1]. The Government's rules for the farm scale trials require only a 50 metre separation distance between GM crops and other fields [2]. These are the first monitoring results of GM pollen from a farm scale trial. They show GM pollen at distances further than ever previously detected and shows the scale of the threat the trials pose to non-GM crops, beekeepers and the wider environment [3].

The errant GM pollen was found during a GM monitoring and analysis programme organised by Friends of the Earth and Newsnight, around Model Farm, near Watlington, Oxfordshire. The monitoring was carried out by the National Pollen Research Unit and a bee specialist, and the GM analysis was carried out by the Federal Environment Agency in Austria. These disturbing results will severely embarrass the Government on the day of the environment debate at the Labour Party conference. Earlier this month the Government was forced to admit that trials of winter oilseed rape are illegal, after a Court challenge by Friends of the Earth showed that the rules governing consent for such trials had been broken to suit the convenience of biotech giant AgrEvo.

The study, which looked at pollen carried by bees and in the air showed that:: All six bee hives monitored - located at between 500 metres and 4.5 kilometres from the GM crop - were found to contain GM oilseed rape pollen [3]; Airborne GM pollen was detected at up to 475 metres from the trial site [4].

Charles Secrett, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth, said: "This study shows that genetic pollution from the farm scale trials is already happening. Earlier this month we forced the Government to admit that the new farm scale trials are illegal. This week, we have shown that all the current GM trials threaten local farmers, beekeepers and the environment. This must be the death blow for the whole GM trials programme. Let Tony Blair use the Labour Party conference to announce that it will now be stopped. Nothing less will reassure the public that the Government gives a hoot about the environmental safety of GM food and crops."

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. Friends of the Earth contracted the National Pollen Research Unit at University College, Worcester to monitor airborne pollen on roads and public rights of way around the farm scale trial for spring oilseed rape at Model Farm, Pirton, Near Watlington, Oxfordshire in June and July 1999. Access problems (the farmer owned most of the land in the vicinity) meant that permanent monitoring sites could not be set up and therefore spot samples were used. See attached summary.

    Pollen traps were placed on six bee hives sited in the area of the farm scale trial in June and July 1999. Two were 500 metres from the crop, two were 2.75 kilometres from the crop and two were 4.5 km. The pollen was collected and analysed by a bee and honey consultant , Sarah Brookes, of Evesham, Worcestershire.

    Newsnight sent six samples of airborne pollen and 6 of beehive pollen were sent to the laboratory of the Federal Environment Agency in Austria for DNA analysis. All six beehive samples were found to contain GM oilseed rape pollen from an AgrEvo variety and 2 out of 6 airborne samples.

  2. The Supply Chain Initiative on the Modified Agricultural Crops (SCIMAC) code of practice for growing GM herbicide resistant crops has been endorsed by the UK Government. The maximum separation distance for GM oilseed crops and conventional crops is 50m. For seed crops and organic crops the recommended distance is 200m.

  3. Research by the Scottish Crop Research Institute reported at the Gene Flow in Agriculture: Revelence for Transgeneic Crops Conference, Keele University April 1999 (British Crop Protection Council Symposium Proceedings No 72) reported oilseed rape pollen at 4km from a field of oilseed rape.

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Date: Fri, 1 Oct 1999 21:57:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

For Immediate Release

Tony Blair Frustrated as Conference Hotel and Granita go GM Free

Greenpeace UK, Monday September 27th 1999

Tony Blair will be unable to satisfy his passion for genetically modified food this week at the Labour Party Conference as his conference hotel is going GM-free. To add insult to injury, his favourite Islington restaurant, Granita (where he and Gordon Brown famously decided who would lead the Labour Party) is also turning its back on GM food. The news comes only days after the Palace of Westminster caterers announced that they were going GM free. Even Poole, Dorset and Bournemouth Councils, where the Labour Party Conference is taking place, are working closely with suppliers to ensure council menus are free from GM ingredients.

Swallow Highcliff Hotel, whose facilities Blair and his Cabinet will be enjoying this week, is one of Swallow Hotels thirty eight UK chain that are going GM free. The hotel chain has decided to take the precautionary approach to the unknown risks associated with GM food and crops and is removing GM ingredients from food served in all its catering and banqueting services. Granita has become the one hundred and thirtieth restaurant to sign up to the Greenpeace 'Restaurants Avoiding GM Foods' initiative and has pledged to avoid using GM ingredients in its food wherever possible.

Jim Thomas, GM campaigner at Greenpeace, said: "Tony Blair is going to have real trouble trying to find GM food in Bournemouth this week as so many restaurants and hotels have now decided that GM food is not worth the risk. Let's hope that Monsanto or AgrEvo can rush him a hamper to keep him going."

The Greenpeace stand, located in the Purbeck Hall at the Labour Party Conference, will be giving away GM-free organic beer all this week as well as acting as Greenpeace press centre for the duration of the conference. The Greenpeace stand is number P32 in the Purbeck Hall.

For further information please contact:

.......
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Date: Fri, 1 Oct 1999 21:57:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

GM Pollen Getting Around

Reuters Wired News 30.Sep.99.PDT

The BBC said it had evidence that genetically modified pollen is escaping from British field trials into the wider environment, despite government regulations.

The BBC's Newsnight program on Wednesday night said it had found modified genes in pollen samples collected up to 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) from a field of GM oil seed rape in the county of Oxfordshire, west of London.

Read ongoing Med-Tech coverage

This was at least 20 times over a limit set by Britain's Labor government of just 200 meters (656 feet).

"This has very serious implications both for beekeepers ... and for farmers who are trying to grow GM-free oil seed rape for the great and vastly expanding GM-free market," said Pete Riley of the Friends of the Earth environmental pressure group.

Environment Minister Michael Meacher told the BBC: "We have never said that the isolation distances were 100 percent containable. We have always known that a vanishingly small percentage of pollen grains will escape beyond that limit. He acknowledged that the regulations may need to be revised.

"I do accept that we should look further at this ... and we may well have to extend those distances in order to minimize still further the risk of any possible cross fertilization."

Pollen samples used in the Newsnight research were collected near a GM field trial site at Watlington in Oxfordshire. Samples were taken from the air at distances from the site of up to 475 meters (1,558 feet) and in beehives up to 4.5 km (2.8 miles) away.

Detailed DNA analysis by the Austrian Federal Environment Agency, one of the few laboratories in Europe capable of doing the work, showed two of the airborne samples and all six beehives tested positive for GM material, the BBC said. It said the research showed it was practically impossible for farmers within 4.5 km (2.8 miles) of a GM field to be sure their crops were GM free.

© Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.


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Date: Fri, 1 Oct 1999 21:57:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Europe seeking GM-free soymeal, Brazil seen source

By Eric Onstad AMSTERDAM, Sept 29 (Reuters)

European animal feed makers are seeking soymeal free from genetically modified (GM) organisms, but the premium they will pay is still uncertain, traders said. Soymeal sourced from northern Brazil, still regarded as free from GM crops, is being offered to compounders, they added. It was unclear whether GM-free material from the United States would be available from this year's soybean harvest, even though farmers there have been told to separate crops. "There are sources that say they can supply GM-free material from northern Brazil.


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Date: Fri, 1 Oct 1999 21:57:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Thai farmers want ban on gene-altered seed imports BANGKOK:

Reuters September 29, 1999 BANGKOK

A group of Thai farmers yesterday urged the government to ban the import of genetically modified seeds.

The Anti-Biotechnology Farmers Group, which said it represented farmers across the country, said it feared the imports of genetically modified seeds and plants would seriously hurt the Thai agricultural sector.

"Biotechnology will ruin our traditional farming activity, which has been handed down from generation to generation," said group leader Veerapol Sopha in a petition to the government.

The group said the use of biotechnology would benefit not Thai farmers but foreign biotechnology companies.

"Those companies dominate most of the biotechnological activities in the world and, thus, the more of genetically modified organisms we make use, the more we would have to rely on them," Veerapol said.


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Date: Fri, 1 Oct 1999 21:57:43 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Canada: Percy versus Monsanto

Martin O'Malley, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Online (CBC)
News Online Bruno, Sask. 9/29/99

Driving east from Saskatoon, heading to the Manitoba border, the sign on Highway 5 said "Bruno, 6K." That was the road to Percy Schmeiser's place, but I decided t'hell with it, Percy's been done.

Watched the documentary on him on CBC-TV's The National. Soon he'll be on CBC-TV's The Fifth Estate. And television crews are coming to Bruno from Japan, Germany, and England. Even the Bloc Quebecois is sending a representative from Quebec to meet with Percy Schmeiser and discuss his quixotic battle with Monsanto, a David and Goliath affair if ever there was one.

A year ago, Monsanto put the squeeze on Percy for illegally growing Monsanto's special, genetically modified canola, called "Roundup Ready." Monsanto launched a lawsuit against the 68-year-old farmer, who has been farming in this part of Saskatchewan for 40 years. Now Percy's fighting back, having launched his own $10 million lawsuit against Monsanto, accusing the biochemical giant of contaminating his farm.

It works this way. Monsanto sells its special genetically modified canola seeds to farmers, but the farmers are not allowed to use the Monsanto seeds from one crop to grow another crop, which is what farmers traditionally do. They must buy new seeds from Monsanto every year.

The selling point for Monsanto's canola is that it can survive Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, which kills other plants without killing Monsanto's genetically modified canola. Monsanto now has a new breed of canola called "Terminator," which produces sterile seeds that can't reproduce.

Somehow, Monsanto discovered there was Monsanto canola growing on Percy's 1,400-acre spread, so they decided to get tough and make an example of him. Boy, did the folks at Monsanto pick the wrong guy. They probably didn't know much about him, like his having been a popular local mayor and an MLA in the Saskatchewan legislature. I'm sure they didn't know about Percy's three attempts to climb Mount Everest, getting "only" 23,000 feet up.

Fifteen kilometres beyond the road to Bruno, I did a U-turn on Highway 5 and headed back. I had to at least say hello to Percy Schmeiser. When would I be in the neighbourhood again? Stopped at a farm implement dealership on the edge of town to ask directions.

"Hullo!" I shouted inside the open but empty dealership. "Hullo!" came a distant reply, whereupon a tall man in jeans appeared from a corner office.

"Where would I find Percy Schmeiser?" I asked. "I'm Percy Schmeiser," said Percy Schmeiser.

When I told him what I knew about Roundup Ready genetically modified canola, he ushered me outside his dealership, walked to a hydro line, knelt down and showed me a growth of canary-yellow canola. "This is it," he said, then he took me to the north side of the building where another shoot of Roundup Ready genetically modified canola was growing next to the building in the shade.

"All over the place," he said. "It blows in the wind, cross-pollinates." He knelt down and pulled off one of the flowers, popping open a pod of canola, displaying the freckle-sized, black seeds. "Little plant like this makes a minimum 4,000 seeds...maybe 10,000 seeds," he said.

"Now they're not saying I stole their seed," Percy said. "Now they're saying it doesn't matter how the (Monsanto canola) gets into a farmer's field. Doesn't matter if it's blown onto the field or if it's by cross-pollination. They say it's their patent and if they find it on your field they'll take your crop, they'll sue you, they'll fine you."

He looks out the window of his cluttered office, across to the railway tracks, deep in thought - looking for a metaphor, as I soon learn.

"What if a farmer has a scrub bull?" Percy asked. "And his neighbour's got a herd of purebred registered cows? Through negligence, the bull gets over the fence and impregnates his neighbour's cows. Now the guy with the scrub bull says those calves are his. The cows too! Same thing, eh?" Percy says he has spent $35,000 in legal fees going up against Monsanto. There was a mediation hearing on the case in August but it didn't resolve anything, so Percy and Monsanto are due to meet in court next June 6. Now a multi-billion antitrust suit has been filed in a U.S.

Federal Court against Monsanto and other agribusiness companies.

Monsanto dearly would love to extricate itself from this mess. The David that is Percy Schmeiser has become a royal pain in the ass to the Goliath that is Monsanto.

** 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.