Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

13 October 99

Table of Contents

Frankenfish Wiping Out Wild Salmon
Genetic Crops Growing Issue On Farms:
Japan To Proceed With GMO Labeling
Expert on GM Danger Vindicated
Monsanto has been filling the world's fields and shops with its unnatural products.
Women say no to GMOs
GM Critic To Be 'vindicated'
Mandatory labelling wanted for genetically-altered food
Don't ask Ottawa if genetic foods safe: Gov't keeping public in dark, but debate crucial
Modified food may be our nightmare
Poor track record
GM-Free Zone: Channel Island Jersey
Monsanto vows not to develop "terminator" gene
Monsanto surrenders 'suicide seeds' but continues work on other Traitor Technologies
US: Yellowstone Collects 0.5% Royalty On Bio-Deal
Journal to publish GM food hazards research
Future clouded for GM crops in US?
Monarchs' plight amplifies debate on altered corn
Protest May Mow Down Trend to Alter Crops Biotech
Monsanto Weedkiller `wipes Out Beneficial Insects'
US alarm grows over GM foods Congressmen call for labelling
Monsanto herbicide 'could damage ecosystem'
Biotech industry attacked
E-mail addresses of Leaders

Top NextFront Page

Date: Sun, 3 Oct 1999 10:23:21 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

posted by Tom Lalley, Program Director, Environmental Media Services tlalley@ems.org

Frankenfish Wiping Out Wild Salmon

By William Lowther, Mail On Sunday, September 19, 1999 Pg. 43

STRAINS of farm-bred fish developed to grow fat quickly are threatening to drive Britain's majestic wild salmon into extinction. Millions of modified fish have escaped into the Atlantic from offshore farms in Europe and America.

And the new strains are mating with wild salmon, polluting their gene pool and producing hybrids that can't survive in the open ocean. Don Staniford, of the Scottish office of Friends of the Earth, said yesterday: 'Wild salmon are nearly extinct in a number of Scottish regions and rivers where they used to be plentiful. There's certainly a link between the decline of our wild salmon and the escape of these farm-bred fish. It's genetic pollution.'

Sue Scott, of the Atlantic Salmon Federation in New Brunswick, Canada, added: 'The farm fish are bred to be fat and lazy. Their genes have been manipulated by crossbreeding to produce a fish that grows quickly. 'They are kept in huge pens in the open ocean off the coast of New Brunswick and the coast of Maine in the States. And over the last few years millions of them have escaped into the Atlantic. '

Wild salmon are muscular and built to make a long voyage into the ocean and back.But over the longer term the farm fish can't survive in the ocean and neither can the offspring of wild salmon and farm fish. The resulting fish can't make the rigorous migration and that's one of the reasons the wild salmon are being wiped out.'

Selective breeding with salmon strains from all over the world means that farm fish are much bigger than their wild cousins. 'In fact, they're so big they look like footballs,' said federation president Bill Taylor. And scientists believe female wild salmon choose the bigger males for mating.

Miss Scott blamed unrestrained commercialism, saying: 'The problem is that governments have let salmon farming industry grow without regulation.' In the US, two major environmental groups Defenders of Wildlife and Trout Unlimited are suing the Federal Government in an effort to force them to put Atlantic salmon on the endangered species list.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sun, 3 Oct 1999 10:23:21 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Genetic Crops Growing Issue On Farms:

BY Mairi MacLean, Journal Business Writer
Edmonton Journal, Thursday, September 30, 1999 p. H1

Changes bring benefits but also new challenges

Just last year, few people other than farmers were familiar Now public interest is blossoming, GM is becoming a buzzword and farmers are keeping an eye on the headlines, where a debate about the safety of those crops is gaining profile by the day. It's an issue that hits close to home. novel including corn, tomato, potato, soybean, cottonseed, flax, squash -- and canola. About 60 per cent of Western Canada's canola acreage this year has been genetically modified to resist certain brands of herbicide. crop since it was first developed from rape seed in the mid-1960s, it's an issue with potential to hurt producers' already-strained pocketbooks. Although genetic modification may be of benefit to industry and producers, if consumers don't value it, there is no ultimate benefit to says Rod Scarlett, farmer and executive director of Wild Rose Agriculture Producers.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sun, 3 Oct 1999 10:23:21 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Japan To Proceed With GMO Labeling

By Irene Marushko

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Japanese Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said Thursday that Japan would implement mandatory labeling for food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but he declined to comment on the move's impact on imports. Japan, which Nakagawa described as the world's largest importer of food products, intends to require labeling starting in 2001 in response to concerns by consumer groups. "We have decided that labeling should be done universally in Japan for GMOs," Nakagawa told Reuters.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sun, 3 Oct 1999 10:23:21 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Expert on GM Danger Vindicated

By Geoffrey Lean, Sunday INDEPENDENT (London) Oct 3, 1999

The scientist who suggested that genetically modified foods could damage health - and was comprehensively rubbished by Government ministers and the scientic establishment as a result - is to have his reputation dramatically vindicated..

Britain's top medical journal, The Lancet is shortly to publish Arpad Puzstai's research showing changes in the guts of rats fed with GM potatoes. This will reignite fears that eating GM foods may endanger human health.

The Government has sought to discredit Dr Puzstai's work on the grounds that it has not been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Other scientists have made similar claims and attacked it as "flawed" and unpublishable.

Publication of the article will encourage other scientists to try to repeat the experiments, kickstarting further scientific investigation into whether GM foods pose a threat to health or not.

Galley proofs of the article have already been sent to Dr Puzstai, and his co-author Dr Stanley Ewen, SeniorLecturer in Pathology at Aberdeen University. Late last week David McNamee, the journal's Executive Editor, said that it will be published "soon."

The research is important because few papers have so far been published on the health effects of GM foods, despite the rapidity with which they spread onto supermarket shelves. Indeed Dr Puzstai - who was travelling in europe last week and unable to comment on the news - began his experiments becuise he could find only one previous peer-reviewed study, led by a scientist from Monsanto, the GM food giant, which had found no ill-effects.

He started three years research - funded by the Scottish Office to the tune of £1.6 million - at Aberdeen's Rowett Research Institute as a self-confessed "very enthusiastic supporter" of GM technology, who fully expected his experiments to give it "a clean bill of health."

The 68 year-old scientist, who has published 270 sceintific papers and is acknowledged as the leading authority in his field, fed rats on three strains of genetically engineered potatoes and one ordinary one. In his first full interview, after being gagged by his institute, he told the Independent on Sunday last March; " I was absolutely confident I wouldn't find anything. But the longer I spent on the experiments, the more uneasy I became."

His findings sparked public concern, and ignited a furious row about GM foods, after he briefly mentioned them, with the Institute's permission, on a television programme last year. They contradicted repaeted assurances from the Prime Minister down, that GM food is safe, and undermined the assumption behind the regulation of genetically altered crops that there is no substantial difference between them and their conventional equivalents.

Despite his eminence, Dr Puztai - who came to Britain after the suppression of the 1956 Hungarian rising beacuse of the country's "tolerance" - underwent one of the most extraodinary treatments ever meeted out to a reputable scientist.

He was suspended from his work on the experiments, his computers were sealed, his data confiscated and he found himself "sent to Coventry" by his colleagues. He was forced into retirement and forbidden to talk about his work.

He came under comprehensive attack from ministers and the scientific establishment. Sir Robert May, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, accused him of violating "every canon of scientific rectitude". The Royal Society claimed that his work was "flawed in many aspects of design, execution and analysis" and said that "no conclusions could be drawn from it." And Professor Tom Sanders, of Kings College, London. said that none of the major scientific journals would publish the research.

Ministers enthusiastically joined in. Cabinet enforcer Dr Jack Cunningham, who is in charge of the Government's GM strategy, said Dr Pusztai's work had been "comprehensively discredited" , and top Downing Street advisers consistently stressed it should be disregarded because it had not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Dr Pusztai retorted that he was eager to publish, and pointed out that the scientific criticism was based on incomplete information that he had put on the internet at the Institute's request, while being denied full access to his data, which was only released to him this spring.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sun, 3 Oct 1999 10:23:21 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Monsanto has been filling the world's fields and shops with its unnatural products.

By Geoffrey Lean, Independent on Sunday 3 Oct 1999, Editorial

Now it is in full retreat - and wonders where it went wrong

It was the biggest birthday surprise that Patrick Holden had ever had. On the day he turned 49 last month, the head of Britain's organic farming movement - long derided by the food industry as a collection of cranks practising in "muck and magic" agriculture - found his leading opponents sitting figuratively at his gumbooted feet.

Hendrik Verfaillie, president of the GM giant Monsanto, and four of his most senior colleagues had asked to see the director of the small Bristol-based Soil Association in order to find out where his company had gone wrong. Goliath had come to learn from David; Mohammed had come to the compost-heap.

Contrary to some reports early last week, Monsanto did not offer a U-turn on planting genetically modified crops in Britain, though it did raise ideas for co-operating with organic farmers. The truth is both more complicated and more intriguing. For the world's leading biotech company was embarking - in four secret meetings with British environment and consumer organisations - on a unilateral peace process.

The next key encounter will come on Wednesday, when Mr Verfaillie's boss, Monsanto's chairman Bob Shapiro - the chief evangelist of GM foods - flies into Britain to address a Greenpeace conference. His speech will give an indication of how far Monsanto is really prepared to go and of how much what its executives learnt at the meetings has sunk into the corporate mind.

For, as The Independent on Sunday reported four weeks ago, anguished debate has been raging through the upper reaches of the St Louis-based multinational. Senior company sources say that a powerful group is wanting to stop trials of GM crops in the UK altogether while others, including Mr Shapiro, say they must continue.

Everyone agrees that the company has taken a terrible battering. Less than two years ago it seemed to be carrying everything before it. Its crops were rapidly spreading onto the world's fields and supermarket shelves, it was riding rough-shod over opponents, and it was enjoying the uncritical support of two of the world's most powerful Governments - those of Britain and the United States.

But now it is in full retreat, its products rejected, its share price well down, and even the American heartland that forms the foundation of its business is now increasingly at risk. It seems to be able to do nothing right. Last week it announced that it had found plants that could make a green plastic to be put on compost- heaps to rot, only for environmentalists to accuse it of trying to spin its way out of trouble and to point out that genes from the new plants could spread to contaminate others.

Last month's meetings, held in London at the Dorchester Hotel, were arranged at Monsanto's request by the Environment Council, a body specialising in getting together opposing sides in fierce fights over green issues. Mr Verfaillie (whose official title is chief operating officer) was joined by Hugh Grant, co-president of the company's agricultural sector, Kate Fish, director of public policy for the whole company, and Charlotte Walliker, director of agriculture for Britain and Ireland. They met delegations from Friends of the Earth, English Nature and the Consumers' Association, as well as the Soil Association.

Mr Holden, an adviser to the Prince of Wales, said that the Monsanto executives were clearly "personally affected" by what they had heard. He added: "They said they had never heard the arguments before."

Charles Secrett, executive director of Friends of the Earth, agrees: "There is no question that what we said came as a revelation to them," he said. "They were wanting to learn. They listened very carefully and asked intelligent questions. You could see closed minds beginning to open."

Tony Combes, Monsanto's director of corporate affairs in the UK, says that the company intends "to continue the dialogue". He adds: "We believe it is crucial to listen to public concerns about the introduction of this technology to the UK."

Can this be the same company that built up a formidable reputation for threatening and bullying those who criticise it? What has humbled it? Answer: the long reach of the British housewife.

For the seemingly unstoppable spread of GM foods has been forced into reverse by shoppers simply refusing to buy them. In just three years, until this spring, the proportion of supermarket products containing GM ingredients - mainly soya - had soared from zero to 60 per cent. Now they are being swept off the shelves again.

The crucial point was the last week in April when Unilever, Nestle and Cadbury all announced that they were phasing out GM products in the face of customer resistance. Tesco and the Co-op did the same, joining the other big supermarket chains. As The Independent on Sunday predicted at the time, non-GM soya and other cereals suddenly became valuable commodities as the big companies started scouring the world for them so as to fulfil their pledges. The same sort of thing has been happening all over Europe and in Japan, which is expected to buy twice as many non-GM soya beans this year as last. Japan and Europe between them buy about a fifth of the United States crop, and so the relentless logic of market forces is beginning to force a green revolution across the Atlantic as well.

Conventional cereals are now commanding a higher price than GM ones. Suddenly US food processors who had long insisted that it was impossible to separate GM and non-GM cereals found that they could do so, and simple tests are being developed to distinguish between them. Some stores are even saying they will accept only conventional cereals and are advising farmers not to plant GM ones.

Market analysts are predicting that "a two-tier market" will develop, with the price of GM material "collapsing". This is beginning to force a rethink by US farmers who until now have embraced GM crops enthusiastically: half of all the soya and over a third of the maize grown in the country has now been genetically engineered. Iowa farmer Ed Wiederstein says: "If nobody wants it, I'll definitely change. There's going to be a real scramble if that occurs."

There are also signs that American public opinion, which has long accepted GM crops, is beginning to turn against them, facing Monsanto with the prospect of losing not just their European and Japanese markets but the home one that it has long been able to take for granted.

The catalyst was the finding, reported this summer, that caterpillars of the beautiful and much-loved monarch butterfly - described by the Washington Post as the "Bambi of the insect world" - can be poisoned by GM maize. Protests against GM crops have begun (there was one last week at the homely Hoe Down Harvest Festival in Guinda, California), and crop destructions by activists - common here but previously unknown in the US - have begun to erupt all over the country in the last three months.

"The fire-storm of controversy in Europe has spread around the world and its sparks have landed in the US," says Sano Shimada, president of the Bioscience Securities in California.

Worst still for Monsanto and other giant biotech and seed companies, a series of lawsuits is about to be filed by US environmentalists and farmers in 30 countries, accusing them of trying to get a stranglehold on the agricultural market.

In the face of all this, Monsanto's share price has fallen and the Deutsche Bank, Europe's largest, predicts that GM interests, once seen as making a "bull case" for a company's shares, "will now be perceived as a pariah". No wonder Monsanto's key executives have suddenly discovered an urgent need to listen humbly to their opponents. They have been the victims of the most crushing exercise of consumer power ever seen.

As Patrick Holden says: "This shows that informed public opinion is still more powerful than giant corporations backed by some of the most potent governments on earth."

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


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Mon, 4 Oct 1999 14:44:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Women say no to GMOs

http://www.organicsdirect.co.uk/gm.html

Women say no to GMOs is a new initiative that offers everyone, if they are concerned about genetic engineering, the chance to say NO. The initiative is supported by Joan Ruddock, MP, (UK) the UK Soil Association, Paul McCartney and his family, Jerry Hall, Anita Roddick and many other celebrities

They are collecting signatures at their online petition. It's important to collect as many signatures as possible in time for WTO (World Trade Organisation) talks in Seattle in November. To sign their petition, please visit their site http://www.organicsdirect.co.uk/gm.html

Anyone with a web page is encouraged to link to their website and download their campaign graphic at http://www.organicsdirect.co.uk/gmpressoffice.html#4


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Mon, 4 Oct 1999 14:44:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

GM Critic To Be 'vindicated'

Sky News, Monday October 4th

A scientist who published damning research results about GM foods and was subsequently ‘retired' from his position, will finally be tried by his peers. Later this week - after a review by three sets of experts - the Lancet journal will publish work by Dr Arpad Pusztai showing alarming changes in the guts of rats fed with GM potatoes.

Dr Pusztai's reputation came under attack in August 1998 when he said he would not eat GM food after seeing the effects of GM-fed laboratory rats.

For 100 days, Pusztai fed the rats with GM potatoes, grown to the same specification as biotechnology companies. His research results showed the rats developed a thickening of the stomach lining which later became inflamed. He claimed GM food stunted the growth of rats, depleted their immune system and damaged their internal organs.

Within days of his comments, Pusztai was suspended and eventually retired from his position at the Rowett Institute of Aberdeen, after his bosses said the evidence was misleading.

The research institute was swift to distance itself from Pusztai's research, releasing a statement that saidd: "The institute regrets the release of misleading information about issues of such importance to the public and the scientific community."

'Misleading' the public The Government's chief scientific advisor Sir Robert May also accused him of violating "every canon of scientific rectitude". Finally, in May this year, his work was criticised in a report by a committee of scientist at the Royal Society which said that "no conclusions should be drawn" from Dr Pusztai's work, which was "flawed in many aspects of design, execution and analysis". Responding to the news that Pusztai's work was to be published, a government spokesman said: "Research scientists should subject their findings to peer review before release into the public domain."


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Date: Mon, 4 Oct 1999 14:44:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Mandatory labelling wanted for genetically-altered food

The Evening News (New Glasgow), Friday, October 1, 1999 Final News 8

KITCHENER, Ont. (CP) – An Ontario farm group is breaking with its peers and calling on Ottawa to legislate mandatory labelling of genetically If genetically modified (food) is going to be a success, said Elbert van Donkersgoed, executive director of the Christian Farmers' Federation of Ontario. The group, based in nearby Guelph, represents about 4,100 farmers across the province. Its board of directors recently adopted resolutions urging, among other things, throughout the food chain so that consumers can be a part of making the choice to use the modified


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Date: Mon, 4 Oct 1999 14:44:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Don't ask Ottawa if genetic foods safe: Gov't keeping public in dark, but debate crucial

Sierra Club, OTTAWA, The Province Friday, October 1, 1999-

The federal government wants to avoid a public debate on genetically modified foods, a Sierra Club official charged yesterday. Lucy Sharratt was replying to a statement Tuesday by Gilbert Normand, secretary of state for foods was Normand said the debate in Europe on the subject is causing that hysteria is in the process of crossing the safe food, sustainable campaign, said her group doesn't trust the federal regulatory because the Canadian government has supported industry's interest In fact, industry benefits a great deal from she added.

Sharratt said the government had adopted a patronizing attitude to the There's been no information for the public and that, in fact, is what we're trying to do, The government has refused to give people information, except what they There's no mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods, and that's one way that the government can inform people

Sharratt, who is not a scientist, said she was basing her comments on many scientists in Canada and internationally who have serious concerns about the introduction of genetically engineered foods into the environment She said many have branded genetic engineering There's been a rush to she said, alleging Ottawa has This is why we've seen no democratic debate, and ... she said. She said the altered foods pose health risks of toxins and allergens, and environmental risks. For example, she said, genetic pollution has hurt insect populations such as bees, ladybirds and monarch butterflies. she said.


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Date: Mon, 4 Oct 1999 14:44:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Modified food may be our nightmare

BY Michael Khoo, Toronto Greenpeace, The Ottawa Citizen, Sunday, October 3, 1999

How disturbing that Canada's Secretary of State for Science Gilbert Normand defends a radical technology for which his government has conducted Sept. 29) All the science promoting genetically engineered foods has been funded by the biotechnology industry. Our government's response has been to blindly accept these results and hope for the best.

Independent studies on genetically engineered foods point to potential problems that will be impossible to contain or control because these foods are being grown in our open natural environment. Such studies have prompted the British Medical Association to call for a five-year moratorium on the release of all genetically engineered organisms into the environment. Genetically engineered crops do not decrease the application of harmful farm chemicals as the biotechnology industry repeatedly claims.

In over 8,000 field trials surveyed by the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Charles Benbrook found that farmers growing Monsanto's Round-up-ready soybeans used two to five times more herbicide than those using Claims otherwise are based on incomplete information or analytically flawed comparisons that do not tell the whole the study said. The Benbrook study also exposes another public relations line used by industry and swallowed whole by Mr. Normand: Genetically engineered crops increase yields and are therefore good for farmers.

Quite the opposite is true. The Benbrook study found that farmers using genetically engineered soybeans grew five per cent fewer bushels per acre than those growing the equivalent conventional varieties. By choosing to ignore this important science, our secretary of state for science reveals that he does not have farmers' best interests at heart. And by labelling Mr. Normand has displayed a spectacular arrogance for members of the public and many scientists who believe it is important to question new technologies which promise benefits to all, but all too often end up as nightmares for future generations. Need we remind Mr.

Normand that DDT and PCBs were both trumpeted as scientific advances in their day.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Mon, 4 Oct 1999 14:44:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Poor track record

BY David Chernushenko, The Ottawa Citizen, Sunday, October 3, 1999

Europeans in opposing genetically modified foods, imagine how much better it must have We're caught in Sept. 29). As secretary of state for science, research and take more time to go too far.'' History tells us that when the government and corporate suppliers of new technologies/products join forces, they can only have our best interests at heart.

Just look at the track record of this dynamic and well-meaning duo who set out to persuade us to be pragmatic: - DDT: So beneficial it's been banned countries, but you can still get your hands on it and its toxic cousins in a host of less-hysterical southern countries; - said the duo. The plants may only last 20 years, but you can pay for them forever; - Thalidomide: Much nicer than a few bouts of morning sickness.

Perhaps those poor untrusting Europeans are so hysterical because they get their information from other sources than industry publicists, lap-dog officials and monopoly news outlets. Groups like Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians aren't trying to manufacture consent, they are pointing us to independent sources of information so we can make up our own minds. Imagine that: citizens being encouraged to think for themselves. The tells us that the burden of proof lies with those who wish to introduce new and untested technologies and products. Purveyors of genetic engineering have not yet performed sufficient, independent testing over a long enough period of time to prove there will be no unintended consequences for human or ecosystem health. David Chernushenko, Ottawa President, Green & Gold Inc.


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Date: Mon, 4 Oct 1999 14:44:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

GM-Free Zone: Channel Island Jersey

LONDON (Reuters) - The Channel island of Jersey has declared its agriculture free of genetic modification, halting research into a new strain of potatoes, a senior agriculture official told Reuters in a telephone interview Thursday.

"It's been done because at present there's considerable consumer resistance about GM foods," said Peter Bastian, the chief officer of the States of Jersey Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The Jersey parliament has agreed to two propositions, he said. The first was that the island would discontinue research work into a potential variant of its premium Jersey Royal potato intended to make it resistant to the potato cyst eel worm.

The second was to make the island free of growing GM crops, should any GM crops suitable for Jersey's agriculture become available.

** 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, 6 Oct 1999 10:24:29 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Monsanto vows not to develop "terminator" gene

By Emily Kaiser Monday October 4

CHICAGO, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Monsanto Co. (NYSE:MTC - news), whose genetically modified seeds have raised environmental and health concerns among some European consumers, said on Monday it would not commercialize gene technology which sterilizes seeds.

In an October 4 letter to the Rockefeller Foundation, obtained by Reuters, Monsanto Chairman Robert Shapiro said the company decided not to develop the gene after seeking comment from the Rockefeller Foundation and other groups.

The technology, which Monsanto said was still several years away from any possible commercial production, prevents plants from producing fertile seeds, forcing farmers to buy more seed rather than using seed from the previous year's crop. Critics contend the gene hurts farmers in developing countries who can't afford to buy new seeds each year.


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Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 10:24:29 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

For Immediate Release

Rural Advancement Foundation International
News Release - 4 October 1999
rafi@rafi.org    http://www.rafi.org
*** Terminator Terminated? ***

Monsanto surrenders 'suicide seeds' but continues work on other Traitor Technologies

Sections:
Backtracking
Limping from a Silver Bullet
Terminator Turn-Around
Transnational Trait Control = Bioserfdom
USDA Stands Alone
Governments Need to Pull the Plug on Terminator

Backtracking

With biotech's Silver Bullet firmly imbedded in its own foot, Monsanto is dropping its guns, abandoning the Terminator, and telling farmers that it wants to play nice. Not so fast, hombre!

Following 18 months of controversy and intense popular opposition around the world, Monsanto CEO Robert B. Shapiro has advised Gordon Conway, President of the Rockefeller Foundation that Monsanto has decided to abandon plans to commercialize Terminator Technology (causing crop seed to become sterile at harvest time). Monsanto's open letter to Rockefeller is available on the company's web site at: http:/www.monsanto.com/monsanto/gurt/default.htm

However, the company says it will continue to pursue closely-related research targets that could allow Monsanto to switch on - or off - other genetic traits vital to a crop's productivity. RAFI calls it "Traitor" technology.

"Congratulations should go to the civil society organizations, farmers, scientists and governments all over the world who have waged highly effective anti-Terminator campaigns during the past 18 months," said Pat Mooney, Executive Director of RAFI, in reaction to Monsanto's announcement. "The public unanimously rejected Terminator because its bad for farmers, food security and the environment," explained Mooney. "Monsanto would never have abandoned the profit-generating potential of sterile seeds just because it was an immoral technology," said RAFI's Research Director, Hope Shand. "The company finally realized that Terminator will never win public acceptance. Terminator has became synonymous with corporate greed, and it was met with intense opposition all over the world," adds Shand.

Limping from a Silver Bullet

Monsanto is the second major "Gene Giant" to back away from Terminator Technology. In June of this year, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity received a letter from UK-based AstraZeneca announcing that it would not commercialize seed sterility technologies. "In all, more than a dozen companies and public institutes have at least 31 patents that include claims involving seed sterilization," Pat Mooney says. Monsanto was the big gun, however, and Terminator became a public relations disaster for the company when it made a bid to acquire Delta & Pine Land Seed Company in May, 1998. Delta & Pine Land co-owns the "prototype" Terminator patent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – US patent number 5,723,765. In addition, Monsanto holds a second patent, WO 9744465, published 27 November 1997.

Terminator Turn-Around

Even though RAFI does not question Monsanto's public commitment to abandon Terminator, it notes that market and technical realities may eventually force a different outcome. In a letter dated 24 February 1999 AstraZeneca categorically stated that it abandoned the development of its Terminator-type technology for the purpose of seed sterilization in 1992. RAFI discovered that ExSeed, an AstraZeneca joint venture with Iowa State University, won a new seed sterilization patent on 11 August 1997, based on a claim made in 1995 - three years after AstraZeneca's research was to have been abandoned. "We can't trust where the technology and companies may be taking us," said RAFI's Pat Mooney. "The technology for seed sterilization and trait control are on the same trajectory. At some point, either through a corporate take-over or a change in management, trait control could easily be transformed back into genetic seed sterilization," cautions Mooney.

Transnational Trait Control = Bioserfdom

All the Gene Giants are pursing R&D on Terminator and Traitor technology, warns RAFI. Companies, including Monsanto, are working to control important genetic traits of plants with external chemical catalysts. Once perfected, a seed's genetic trait(s) could be turned on or off with the application of a proprietary chemical, such as an herbicide or fertilizer, for example.

"The companies tell us that trait control will mean more options for farmers, but chemically-dependent seeds will more likely lead to bioserfdom," warns Hope Shand, RAFI's Research Director. RAFI's in-depth report on Traitor technology, and a list of private and public sector institutions who hold Terminator-type patents, is available at: http://www.rafi.org

USDA Stands Alone

When will USDA follow suit? USDA is now in the shameful position of supporting and defending a genetic technology that the world's 2nd largest seed corporation has clearly rejected due to public opposition. At a meeting with civil society organizations in June, Under-Secretary of Agriculture Richard Rominger told RAFI that USDA refuses to abandon the patent it co-owns with Delta & Pine Land (a Mississippi-based seed company in the process of being acquired by Monsanto) because it wants to see the technology widely licensed. Robert Shapiro's letter says that Monsanto made the decision to reject Terminator, in part, because it was responding to the views of its "very important grower constituency."

"Why is USDA ignoring its farm constituency? Why does USDA insist on defending a technology that is bad for farmers, food security, and the environment?," asks RAFI's Hope Shand. "USDA is increasingly marginalized in its support of Terminator, it should immediately cease negotiations with Delta & Pine Land, abandon the patent, and develop a strict policy prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds for the development of genetic seed sterilization," said Hope Shand.

Governments Need to Pull the Plug on Terminator

"Monsanto has taken a positive step, but let's not forget that farmers can never depend on the charity and good will of the Gene Giants to reject immoral technologies," concludes RAFI's Moooney. "Without government action to firmly reject Terminator and Traitor technology, these technologies will be commercialized within a few years with potentially disastrous consequences," cautions RAFI's Mooney.

RAFI urges national governments to take action at WTO and elsewhere to reject Terminator and Traitor technology on the basis of public morality.

Next month, Ministers of Agriculture will gather for a ministerial meeting at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. "It's the perfect opportunity for Ministers to affirm Monsanto and AstraZeneca's conclusion that Terminator technology is not safe for farmers or food security," concludes RAFI's Shand.


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Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 10:24:29 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

US: Yellowstone Collects 0.5% Royalty On Bio-Deal

By Christopher Smith, THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, October 4, 1999

Yellowstone National Park will receive a royalty of 0.5 percent for industrial and pharmaceutical products derived from the microscopic bugs found in geysers and thermal pools under secret terms of a first-ever "bioprospecting" deal.

That is way too low, according to watchdog groups that have brought suit against the National Park Service over the park's contract with a private firm. But Yellowstone officials say the royalty amounts are better than nothing, which is all the park has received from past discoveries of microbes that yield valuable commercial products.


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Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 10:24:29 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Journal to publish GM food hazards research

by James Meikle, GUARDIAN (London) Tuesday October 5, 1999

The research that did most to raise public alarm over potential health hazards from genetically modified foods is finally to be published, vindicating work that the scientific establishment and government tried to discredit and reigniting the row over the safety of GM technology.

The Lancet, the influential international medical research journal, will next Friday contain a paper showing changes in the guts of rats fed GM potatoes, raising questions as to why these may have occured. Publication comes 14 months after the scientist Arpad Pusztai first suggested that the food may stunt the rats' growth and sparked concerted attempts by the government and scientific opponents to discredit him.


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Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 10:24:34 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Future clouded for GM crops in US?

By the BBC's Gavin Hewitt, BBC Report – Tuesday, October 5, 1999

The future for GM crops in America is suddenly looking less certain

These are lean times across the Cornbelt. Grain prices are the lowest in memory, and some farmers are facing an additional problem.

The international market for genetically-modified crops is collapsing. Farmers like Dennis Mitchell from South Dakota believed GM crops were the way of the future but now he's less sure.

"If the customer ultimately says they don't want it, I'll have to rethink what I'm planting," Mr Mitchell said.

Whilst they have been harvesting in the American heartland, the news has only got worse.

The confidence of farmers growing GM crops has been undermined In the past month alone, the two largest breweries in Japan and the largest tortilla maker in Mexico have all said they will not use GM crops. The confidence of those farmers who had switched to growing GM crops was further undermined when Archers Daniels Midland, the largest grain exporter in Illinois, instructed farmers that GM grain and conventional grain must be segregated at the silos.

Tim Galvin of the Department of Agriculture says these are disturbing times for many farmers.

"In some cases, (farmers) have reacted with surprise and concern, too. Especially if the segregation results in two prices," Mr Galvin said. On the trade floor in Chicago there is already an expectation that GM crops will fetch a lower price than conventional grains. GM stocks are now expected to fetch less than conventional food stocks Gary Goldberg of the American Corn Grower's Association said his members had expected that next year there would be a 25% increase in the amount of GM crops being planted; they're now expecting a 25% decrease. "Many (farmers) are going to be going back to conventional crops out of the uncertainty ... whether they will go through the risk and expense of planting a crop and then not having it marketable next harvest," he said.

He said that the companies that developed GM crops have only themselves to blame. "They should have done a better job of explaining the science, doing the research, educating the consumer, and they didn't." Crops in the courts And the doubts about GM, expressed so volubly abroad, have encouraged a variety of groups in the United States to turn to the courts to slow the genetic revolution.

Some GM companies are being taken to court for being anti-competitive Richard Kelley is a lawyer hired to bring an anti-trust suit against the big agri-chemical companies producing the GM seeds. He has no doubt that what is happening overseas is influencing events in America. "There is a great deal of momentum within the international community that is coming together to oppose what is going on. We are hearing from groups in Europe, Africa and Japan, who are very, very concerned," he said. Mr Kelley argues that the large biotechnology companies have become too powerful and that they have so engineered GM crops that the farmers have to return each year to the company to buy their seeds. They believe this is anti-competitive and are seeking billions of dollars in damages, arguing that GM seeds are fundamentally different from anything that has gone before.

"It was said to me by a Swedish farmer the other night that farmers since the beginning of civilisation have been able to sow their own seeds, and the practices being introduced and enforced by the bio-tech industry are threatening that practice," Mr Kelley said. Consumer protests have spread from Europe to the US Another group has brought a suit against the food and drug administration, the government agency that monitors food issues. It wants any products that use genetically modified grain to be labelled. Joe Mendleson from the Centre for Food Safety believes you cannot have international consumers being given this information and not Americans. "I have no doubt that the crisis and the issue that is embroiling Europe right now is going to spread to the United States. I think it's already here," he said.

Clouded future It is too early to write off the genetic food revolution. The promise remains of future food designed to improve nutrition or health and so far, American consumers remain untroubled by the whole issue. But recently the largest baby food manufacturer in the United States announced it would no longer use GM ingredients.

The company insisted it was not an issue of safety. It just wanted to position itself ahead of public opinion.

In just a short period, the future for GM crops has become far less certain.


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Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 10:24:34 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Monarchs' plight amplifies debate on altered corn

by Laurence Iliff, The Dallas Morning News, October 3, 1999,-

MEXICO CITY - The millions of monarch butterflies that winter in the Mexican hinterland have survived clandestine loggers, snoopy tourists and unpredictable weather. But ecologists now fear they may not survive the global economy. The culprit, they say, is genetically engineered corn imported from the United States that is so effective at fending off the European corn borer that its unintended target could be the helpless monarchs whose survival depends on getting through the winter. The monarchs are the official symbol of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, since both the migrating butterflies and the 1994 accord link Canada, Mexico and the United States.

The monarch sanctuaries are mostly in the central state of Michoacan and the state of Mexico. But beyond the issue of killer corn - which makers of the product say has been wildly exaggerated - is a broader fear that the combination of free trade and booming biotechnology could bring unwanted environmental and health problems to a nation that can't even police its police. Some say it is food imperialism by the United States. The altered corn, opponents fear, could begin to take over hundreds of varieties of the mythical grain in Mexico, creating an agricultural disaster worthy of a science fiction movie. Or create widespread resistance to antibiotics in animals and humans.

"Our very lives for millennia have come from the seeds that nature gives us," says Homero Aridjis, president of Group of 100 environmental lobby and a prominent author. "You start altering these seeds, and you don't know what's going to happen."


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Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 10:24:34 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Protest May Mow Down Trend to Alter Crops Biotech

By PAUL JACOBS, Times Staff Writer, LA Times Front Page, Tuesday, October 5, 1999

Public outcry over genetically modified foods has the U.S. agricultural industry backpedaling.

Sections:
Protest Storm hits US
Lack of Public Education Criticized
European Protests Spread to U.S.
Worries Over Health Risks
The process is largely unregulated.
Long-Term Results Not Yet Known

Protest Storm hits US

A storm of protest against genetically engineered foods by foreign governments and consumers has reached U.S. shores, leading some experts to predict that agricultural biotechnology could go the way of nuclear energy – falling out of favor because of public fears and unfavorable economics.

Critics say the industry erred by rushing products with unknown health or environmental side effects to market before the public was ready and harnessing the technology to help farmers and food distributors rather than creating obvious benefits for consumers.

Even industry leaders acknowledge that a protest movement launched in Europe and Asia is having a telling effect in the U.S., bringing threats of a global trade war and stalling the introduction of a new wave of genetically altered crops with improved nutritional benefits.

Agricultural biotech has been a victim of its own success. Five years after the first genetically engineered crop won federal approval, transformed foods are everywhere – more than half the soybeans planted in the U.S. this year and 30% of the corn are from biotech seeds. Oils and sweeteners derived from these crops are ingredients in a host of processed foods such as soft drinks, tortilla chips and French fries.

But the protests may even lead to a rollback of what's already been done: The American Corn Growers Assn. has urged its members to consider using non-genetically modified seeds next year. "Agriculture has been sold a bill of goods about how great genetically modified seeds would be," said the association's chief executive, Gary Goldberg. "We're sure as hell not going to grow a product the customer doesn't want."

The backlash has been noticed on Wall Street too, where doubts are being raised about the viability of ag biotech. For months, analysts Timothy Ramey and Frank J. Mitsch at Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown have been arguing that "GMOs [genetically modified organisms] are dead."

In May, Ramey correctly identified the emergence of a two-tier market for grain in which improved grains would sell for less than traditional hybrids. Two months later, he asked, "Are GMOs safe, good for the environment and necessary to support the inevitable growth in the world's population? Yes, but the same arguments can be made for advancing nuclear power. Despite the support of the scientific community, it is unlikely that we will add any new nuclear power plants any time soon."

Lack of Public Education Criticized

Other analysts also see problems ahead. "We like biotech genetic engineering long-term because it is a very useful tool and eventually science will win out," said Paine-Webber's Andrew Cash. "But in the immediate future, the only thing investors care about is perception. . . . There is a big, dark cloud over those stocks right now." The heart of the argument against genetically altered crops is that too little is known about them.

"There need to be long-term studies of the environmental and health effects, which there haven't been," said Charles Margulis, who heads Greenpeace's U.S. efforts to ban genetically modified crops. Activists from around the country, after a meeting in Bolinas in Northern California in July, have now drafted a list of demands: the labeling of all products derived from genetically engineered crops or animals, an improved system for assessing health hazards, an end to the patenting of plants and animals, and strict corporate liability for damages caused by these products.

The activists aren't alone in their criticism of the industry. Among the most prominent critics of the big companies is Gordon Conway, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, the nonprofit organization that helped bring about the so-called Green Revolution by promoting high-yield hybrid seeds and improved growing methods to feed the developing world.

Conway fears a growing mistrust of biotechnology, and he faults the corporations that introduced the first altered crops for failing to respond. "As a result of the reaction against what they are doing and the way they are doing it, we may lose the benefits of the technology," Conway said.

This summer, he took his complaints to the board of directors of Monsanto, a major supplier of genetically engineered crops. "The rush to get products to market," he told board members, who had invited him to speak, "has led to mistakes, misunderstanding and a backlash against plant technology."

European Protests Spread to U.S.

"We think these foods are perfectly safe, but European consumers don't get it yet and we are going to lose sales," conceded Carl Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, which is beefing up its public relations and lobbying efforts to defend its ag biotech members. The backlash "is not going to kill the industry," he said. "It is going to slow it down." Even though no ill effects from modified foods have been reported, protests overseas are having an impact in the U.S.:

The Clinton administration has been fighting to remove what it regards as arbitrary trade barriers that block access to overseas markets, including attempts to banish genetically modified crops. When World Trade Organization negotiations open in Seattle next month, the U.S. will back rules "that allow for the use of these technologies," said U.S. trade ambassador Peter L. Scher. The U.S. does not oppose labeling of genetically modified products, said Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, as long as "whatever labeling is scientifically based and would not arbitrarily close doors to our products."

American consumers, unaware of how quickly genetically modified commodities have slipped into the food supply, may well wonder why the fuss.

Company officials and federal regulators admit that there are potential hazards in manipulating plant genes, but nothing like the claims of "Frankenstein foods" that make daily headlines in Britain. "There's a real lack of understanding of the extent of analysis we do to establish safety," said Roy Fuchs, Monsanto's director of regulatory science for plant biotechnology. Before introducing a product, the company subjects the altered crop to a battery of tests to ensure that the new traits are not toxic and are unlikely to cause allergic reactions, he said.

But environmentalists point out that the system essentially leaves safety in the hands of a few major seed companies, subsidiaries of multinational corporations such as Monsanto, Novartis and DuPont. After researchers at Cornell this spring reported that the pollen from genetically engineered corn could kill Monarch butterfly larvae, the Monarch became the symbol for the movement to outlaw all biotech crops.

The industry has launched a counteroffensive, citing scientists who believe the Cornell experiments were conducted under conditions never seen in the field. They argue that the insect-killing proteins in the corn, taken from a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, or "Bt," are less harmful than the chemical pesticides they have replaced.

As proof that the food safety system works, seed producers everywhere point to the same example – an experimental soybean, developed at Pioneer Hi-Bred International – that boosted the value of soybeans as livestock feed by borrowing a gene from the Brazil nut. Because a small percentage of the public is allergic to Brazil nuts, Pioneer checked out samples of the genetically engineered soybeans, using a standard skin-prick test in allergic volunteers. The transformed soybeans triggered allergic reactions, and Pioneer abandoned the soybeans, concerned that they could accidentally enter human food supplies.

The incident, said Pioneer spokesman Doyle Karr, illustrates the company's "careful, thoughtful approach to things." But those opposed to genetically modified foods point to the incident as proof of the perils of transferring genes from one species to another. "This can be a life-and-death matter," said Rebecca Goldburg, a scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund.

Worries Over Health Risks

Brazil nuts were known to cause allergies, and patients with allergies were available for testing, she said. But there is no easy way to determine which proteins are likely to produce allergic reactions in all cases.

This summer, Greenpeace and Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, separately announced that they had detected the presence of genetically modified ingredients in baby foods, infant formula, nutritional supplements for the elderly and other products. In response, both Gerber and H.J. Heinz announced they would shun genetically modified ingredients in their baby foods, while denying any danger. Some pet food manufacturers are doing the same.

The revolt against these products began in Europe, where confidence in government regulators had been rattled by an outbreak of mad cow disease in British cattle and other instances of food contamination.

As the movement picked up momentum, European supermarket chains promised to yank genetically modified products off their shelves. In Britain and Japan, the governments called for labeling. Humans began experimenting with crops at least 7,000 years ago with the discovery of bread wheat. Scientific plant breeding was born in the 19th century, when farmers began crossing plants systematically in the search for improved characteristics. Using these conventional breeding techniques – including radiation and chemical treatment to increase mutations – the seed companies each year offer growers new hybrids promising higher yields or pest resistance or improved flavor.

The process is largely unregulated.

Still, one new variety of potato was withdrawn from the market several decades ago because of high levels of solanine, a natural chemical that can cause intestinal distress. A new celery variety was pulled when food handlers developed allergic rashes.

Long-Term Results Not Yet Known

In fact, many common foods naturally contain low levels of toxic chemicals, with no known impact on health. "Two of the best carcinogens are present in edible mushrooms that many people enjoy with their steaks and gravies," said Norman Borlaug, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for developing high-yield wheat varieties that became staples of the Green Revolution. In the mid-1970s, scientists discovered ways to snip useful genes from one species and splice them into another. The revolution in genetic engineering promised a new era in which crops with improved nutritional value would feed the world.

But the first genetically engineered crops directly benefited growers and seed companies, not consumers, by adding characteristics such as resistance to weedkillers. In 1992, the Food and Drug Administration decided – over the objections of environmental and consumer groups – to treat genetically engineered crops just like other foods. As long as the transferred genes produced proteins already in the food supply, the agency would not require pre-market approval or special labeling.

The first test under the FDA's voluntary review system came in 1994, when the agency approved the Flavr Savr tomato, a fruit genetically altered to stay firm during shipping. It proved a flop in the marketplace.

At the same time, Monsanto developed a genetically modified soybean that could resist the company's best selling weedkiller – Roundup. The herbicide destroyed weeds but spared the genetically altered crop – reducing the need for hoeing while boosting Roundup sales.

And Ciba-Geigy, now part of Novartis, produced a corn with an insecticide from Bt bacteria built into every leaf and kernel to kill the European corn borer.

One concern about such products was that antibiotic resistance genes, now standard in genetically engineered plants, could be taken up by bacteria, creating antibiotic resistant microbes. Highly unlikely, concluded the FDA.

Other researchers believe that the widespread use of Bt crops might create superbugs – pests no longer susceptible to Bt insecticides.

Federal law places the burden on the seed companies and food manufacturers to make sure that their products are safe, said George H. Pauli, the FDA's director of product policy. But he notes: "For every commercially developed product for sale in the U.S. [the producer] has come in to consult with us." And the agency retains the power to recall unwholesome products.

The FDA shares responsibility with the Environmental Protection Agency, which looks at the potential dangers of the genetically engineered pesticides, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which reviews impacts on agriculture.

Activists charge that the result is a fragmented system of review that ignores potential hazards. The Alliance for Bio-Integrity filed suit last year, charging that the FDA ignored the objections of its own scientists in deciding not to require a special review of genetically engineered crops. A second suit, filed last year by Greenpeace and others, charges that the EPA ignored the possibility that Bt plants might harm beneficial insects and engender resistance in target pests.

"This is not like an oil slick, which you can contain or mitigate," said Joseph Mendelson, an attorney for the plaintiffs in both of the suits. "These plants reproduce and cross-pollinate. They put their traits into the environment, and there is no way you can recall them."

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


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Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 16:50:58 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Thanks to Paul & Katrin Davis devatalk@mcmail.com for posting this:

Monsanto Weedkiller `wipes Out Beneficial Insects'

U.K. Independent 11.10.99

THE WORLD'S biggest-selling weedkiller, the chemical glyphosate, is facing a European ban after a confidential European Union report showed that it also kills beneficial insects and spiders.

A ban would be a blow to the US group Monsanto, which produces most of the world's supply, usually under the name Roundup. It is central to the group's production of genetically engineered seeds, as Roundup- ready seeds are able to withstand the weedkiller.

Research at Orebro hospital in Sweden also suggests a higher risk of a cancer called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in those exposed to glyphosate.

In Channel 4 News tonight it is revealed that a confidential EU report says glyphosate should not be approved for use in Europe. EU advisers believe more research is needed.

At the moment each European state can decide which weedkillers it approves, and all have approved glyphosate. But with EU harmonisation on pesticide and herbicide expected in the next two years, advisers have begun evaluating which should be prohibited.

The report, one of several that will form the basis of harmonisation, reviewed evidence and concluded that after glyphosate is used on crops, "harmful effects" on arthropods "cannot be excluded". Itsays the chemical should not be included on a list of approved substances pending more study.

David Buffin of the Pesticides Trust, which campaigns against pesticide use, said glyphosate presented a high risk to certain insects and spiders considered beneficialbecause they kill harmful crop pests. "If you are knocking off the beneficials, it may result in an increase in the insect pests and you have to go in with a fairly invasive insecticide," said Mr Buffin.

Monsanto said it would be "improper" to comment, but the company said that the World Health Organisation had said glyphosate was not carcinogenic.


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Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 16:50:58 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

SUNDAY TELEGRAPH(LONDON)

US alarm grows over GM foods Congressmen call for labelling

by DAVID WASTELL in Washington, October 10, 1999:

AMERICAN consumers are finally waking up to the international controversy over genetically modified food, with members of Congress joining a growing clamour for compulsory labelling and leading companies searching for alternative ingredients for some products. In a country where 70 per cent of the items on supermarket shelves have some kind of GM content, there are signs that American shoppers are gradually taking up the concerns over GM food that have swept Britain and Europe. With half of American corn and one third of its soya beans containing transplanted genes, most of the country's best-known household products would be at risk if a consumer backlash took hold - from Coca-Cola to tomato ketchup, breakfast cereals to cake mixes. Until recently, most American consumers were oblivious to the fact that they routinely eat and drink artificially-altered combinations of genes.

But recent publicity, including last week's high-profile climbdown by the American company Monsanto on plans to insert a so-called "terminator gene" into its cornseed, is leading to a sharp increase in awareness. It has led to farmers across America's corn-growing heartlands wondering whether the bumper crops they are harvesting - at least half of them from genetically -engineered seed - will be worth growing in the same form again. A Gallup poll published in America last week surprised many in the food industry by finding that 68 per cent of adults surveyed wanted labelling of food that contained GM ingredients.


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Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 16:50:58 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Monsanto herbicide 'could damage ecosystem'

by Paul Baldwin, Guardian (London) Wednesday October 13, 1999

Environmental campaigners last night demanded a Europe-wide ban on the world's biggest selling weedkiller - the bulk of which is supplied by US biotechnology firm Monsanto - after warnings that it could could kill insects and spiders vital to agricultural ecosystems.

The call from Friends of the Earth came after a leaked European Union draft document warned that the chemical gly-phosate, a key ingredient of Monsanto's glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, could harm insects which act as a natural check on crop pests.

The American multi-national also produces genetically engineered glyphosate immune seed crops designed to be used in conjunction with the weedkiller.

Yesterday it was revealed that the confidential EU report concluded that glyphosate should not be approved for use in Europe, warning "harmful effects" on insects and spiders "cannot be excluded".

Unrelated research in Sweden has also linked the chemical herbicide with the cancer known as non-Hodgkins lymphoma.


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Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 16:50:58 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Biotech industry attacked

By Jane Martinson in New York, Guardian (London)Wednesday October 13, 1999

International consumer activists accused the American biotechnology industry and US government of "bio-colonialism" yesterday and vowed to step up their campaign against genetically modified foods in the United States.

In their first joint meeting, six international organisations accused the US government of backing big businesses such as Monsanto and Du Pont through its trade policy.

The organisations made a pledge to campaign intensively against the biotechnology industry and the American government in the weeks leading up to the November meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle.

Sylvia Ribeiro, a campaigner for Rural Advancement Foundation International, said that a handful of companies were forcing farmers in poor countries to adopt their products.

"We see this technology as a new bio-colonialism," she said at the meeting in New York yesterday. "A group of companies are imposing it and its consequences on many billions of people."

Benedikt Haerlin, global co-ordinator on biotechnology for Greenpeace, said: "Monsanto is an ambassador for this technology, basically force feeding Europeans and not giving them the choice."


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Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 16:50:58 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson

Thanks to Karl Losken at EarthSave Canada for posting this:

E-mail addresses of Leaders

Thought everyone on this list might like to know about a new site for contacting politicians called http://www.letterstoleaders.com . On this site there are functions for bulk mailing Canadians MPs and Senators , as well as bulk mail for most provinces .

The individual addresses of these politicians are also posted if you want to send individual E-mail . There are also excellent links to E-mail addresses of leaders throughout the world for politicians .

Whatever your field of activism LettersToLeaders will be your best source for up to date e mail addresses of Canadian and world politicians . Visit http://www.letterstoleaders.com now and bookmark it . You will not be disappointed !

Karl

** 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.