5 November 99

Table of Contents

FDA Officials to be Challenged With With FDA Internal Warnings
The Revolving door: Light shed on the FDA/Commercial Biotech Connection.
Dr. Robert Cohen at the US FDA hearings on GE: Fraud and Political Intrigue
Leading South African Supermarket aims to go GE free.
Europe lifts plant patents moratorium
South Africa: GE battle of chain stores
Toll Free Numbers For Canadian Companies
We're All Guinea Pigs
Fear of Biotechnology: Hysteria or due Caution?
Industry Manipulation of Research Results on Bt Corn and Monarchs
No Consensus on the Effects of Engineering on Corn Crops
US Democrats urge labels on biotech foods

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Date: Sat, 04 Dec 1999 10:55:09 +0200
From: Andrew Taynton, Safe Food Coalition
P O Box 665, Linkhills, 3652, KwaZulu-Natal, Republic of South Africa;
tel: 083 662 0411, e-mail:

FDA Officials to be Challenged With With FDA Internal Warnings

Photocopies of these Internal FDA Documents now Published on Alliance's Website:

*Please Distribute Widely*

Executive Director of Alliance for Bio-integrity To Challenge U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Officials at November 30th Meeting on Genetically Engineered Foods In Washington, D.c.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Jane Henney and her top officials will receive strong criticism of the agency’s policy on genetically engineered foods from a public interest attorney at the open meeting to be held by the agency in Washington, D.C. on November 30. Steven M. Druker, executive director of the Alliance for Bio-Integrity, will fault the FDA for ignoring scientifically justified safety concerns in approving genetically engineered foods.

He has been invited to present his views as a member of the panel on Scientific, Safety, and Regulatory Issues.

His criticisms will be aired on the day the World Trade Organization conference starts in Seattle, with the U.S. delegation insisting that FDA policy on genetically engineered foods is science-based and that widespread concerns in Europe and Asia are unscientific and irrational.

Mr. Druker will specifically critique the FDA for turning its back to repeated warnings from its own scientists about the unique risks of genetically engineered foods and for then proclaiming itself "...not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way."

These warnings recently came to light when the FDA was required to disclose its internal files during the course of a lawsuit headed by Druker’s organization, Alliance for Bio-Integrity, et al. v. Shalala et al. The suit, which is pending in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., demands that the FDA institute mandatory safety testing and labeling of all genetically engineered foods. Mr. Druker organized an unprecedented coalition of eminent scientists and religious leaders to stand as plaintiffs, and he is also serving as one of the attorneys.

After Druker and co-panelists have made their statements, Commissioner Henney and other FDA officials will have an opportunity to dialogue with them. The panel discussion will occur during the morning session, which runs from 10:00 A.M. until 1 P.M at the Cohen Auditorium in the Wilbur J. Cohen Building, 330 Independence Ave S.W., Washington, D.C.

Note: Exact copies of several FDA documents expressing concern about risks of bioengineered foods are now on the Alliance for Bio-Integrity website:

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Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 21:56:54 +0200
From: "ekogaia" or

Hello there,

If anyone wondered about the FDA, the US food and drug administration, the governmental regulatory agency for food and pharmaceutical safety, and its independence, please read on. Thanks to Lorna Saltzman for posting this.

Below the first post is an interesting report from the US hearings on Food Labelling currently being conducted and centres on the BST (rBGH) issue. Note the parallels in this second post to some of the positions cited on the first one. We have some interesting patterns emerging.




The Revolving door: Light shed on the FDA/Commercial Biotech Connection.

At the Sixth Meeting of the Open-Ended Ad Hoc Working Group on Biosafety, meeting under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Cartagena, Colombia, in February, 1999, the Institute distributed an announcement about persons whose job assignments had changed. We regretted our failure to post a complete list and we noted our willingness to share whatever was brought to our attention. With the help of many people, we were able to correct some notable omissions. Unfortunately, with insufficient time and resources to validate the many suggestions sent to us from around the world, we were able to share in alphabetical order, only a very incomplete set of interesting changes in job assignments. That list has been updated, thanks in part to the readers of this website:
PersonFormer PositionPresent Position
David W. Beierformer head of Government Affairs for Genentech, Inc.,now chief domestic policy advisor to Al Gore, Vice President of the United States.
Linda J. Fisherformer Assistant Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Pollution Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances,now Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for Monsanto Corporation.
Michael A. Friedman, M.D.former acting commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Department of Health and Human Servicesnow senior vice-president for clinical affairs at G. D. Searle & Co., a pharmaceutical division of Monsanto Corporation.
L. Val Giddingsformer biotechnology regulator and (biosafety) negotiator at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA/APHIS),now Vice President for Food & Agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
Marcia Haleformer assistant to the President of the United States and director for intergovernmental affairs, now Director of International Government Affairs for Monsanto Corporation.
Michael (Mickey) Kantorformer Secretary of the United States Department of Commerce and former Trade Representative of the United States,now member of the board of directors of Monsanto Corporation.
Josh King former director of production for White House events,now director of global communication in the Washington, D.C. office of Monsanto Corporation.
Terry Medleyformer administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture, former chair and vice-chair of the United States Department of Agriculture Biotechnology Council, former member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food advisory committee,and now Director of Regulatory and External Affairs of Dupont Corporation's Agricultural Enterprise.
Margaret Millerformer chemical laboratory supervisor for Monsanto,now Deputy Director of Human Food Safety and Consultative Services, New Animal Drug Evaluation Office, Center for Veterinary Medicine in the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).*
Michael Phillips recently with the National Academy of Science Board on Agriculture now head of regulatory affairs for the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
William D. Ruckelshaus former chief administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), now (and for the past 12 years) a member of the board of directors of Monsanto Corporation.
Michael Taylorformer legal advisor to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s Bureau of Medical Devices and Bureau of Foods, later executive assistant to the Commissioner of the FDA,
... still later a partner at the law firm of King & Spaulding where he supervised a nine-lawyer group whose clients included Monsanto Agricultural Company,
... still later Deputy Commissioner for Policy at the United States Food and Drug Administration,
... and later with the law firm of King & Spaulding
now head of the Washington, D.C. office of Monsanto Corporation.*
Lidia Watrudformer microbial biotechnology researcher at Monsanto Corporation in St. Louis, Missouri,now with the United States Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Effects Laboratory, Western Ecology Division.
Jack Watsonformer chief of staff to the President of the United States, Jimmy Carter,now a staff lawyer with Monsanto Corporation in Washington, D.C.
Clayton K. Yeutterformer Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, former U.S. Trade Representative (who led the U.S. team in negotiating the U.S. Canada Free Trade Agreement and helped launch the Uruguay Round of the GATT negotiations),now a member of the board of directors of Mycogen Corporation, whose majority owner is Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company.
Larry Zephformer biologist in the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,now Regulatory Science Manager at Pioneer Hi-Bred International.

*Margaret Miller, Michael Taylor, and Suzanne Sechen (an FDA "primary reviewer for all rbST and other dairy drug production applications" ) were the subjects of a U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) investigation in 1994 for their role in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of Posilac, Monsanto Corporation's formulation of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbST or rBGH). The GAO Office found "no conflicting financial interests with respect to the drug's approval" and only "one minor deviation from now superseded FDA regulations". (Quotations are from the 1994 GAO report).

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Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 21:56:54 +0200
From: "ekogaia"

Dr. Robert Cohen at the US FDA hearings on GE: Fraud and Political Intrigue

The FDA Testimony, Thursday, December 2 - Day 26

Robert Cohen appeared on an FDA panel in Washington on Tuesday, November 30, 1999 some of you may have seen his speech on C-Span Mr. Cohen spoke last, and each of the other panel members read prepared statements. Members of the panel also included

Testimony 11-30-99

Hi everybody, I've got to apologize first - I don't have a prepared statement like the other panel members. All I'm going to give here is some facts.

I have a copy of the Federal Register. It says here advertising this meeting:

"FDA is not aware of information that will distinguish genetically engineered food as a class from other foods."

( Robert Cohen turns and addresses FDA panel members. )

I'm going to give you some information today, guys.

The greatest controversy in FDA history was the approval process for Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone. We shouldn't be here today! We should not be in this room and I shouldn't be here because, in 1994, Congress HAD A BILL that was going to require mandatory labeling of all foods that were influenced by genetic engineering. I got my Congresswoman to co-sponsor that bill - 181 congresspeople co-sponsored that bill, and you know what? I learned how Congress works that year because in 6 months they stalled the bill - 12 members of the Dairy Livestock & Poultry Committee - they stalled the bill until the 1994 session of Congress expired and the bill died.

I was so upset, I investigated these 12 men and found that collectively they took $711,000 in PAC money from companies with dairy interests, and four of the members of the committee took money directly from Monsanto.

Now we've got a lot of political intrigue and some real science here. We've got science fiction, we've got a combination of John Grisham and we've got a combination of Stephen King.

Nikita Khrushchev said that what the scientists have in their briefcase is terrifying – ( Robert Cohen then opened his briefcase and pulled out a stack of papers) and I've got some interesting things in my briefcase to share with you today.

When Monsanto made their genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, they noticed a couple of problems right towards the end - right before approval. They noticed that laboratory animals were getting cancer, and they noticed that cows were getting mastitis, ulcers in their udders. They were putting more pus and bacteria into the milk. So Monsanto arranged

We've heard from Dr. Maryanski this morning, and Dr. Maryanski talked about the Pure Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act but what he didn't tell you was that in 1958, Robert Delaney, a congressman from New York, added the Delaney Amendment which was named after him. The Delaney Amendment stated that if a food additive caused cancer, it was not to be approved - a pretty good law – right?

Monsanto got their attorney, Michael Taylor from the firm of King & Spalding By the way, when they started in 1979, they groomed their attorney who is now in the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, from the same law firm.

Anyway, Monsanto's attorney, Michael Taylor, wrote and minimized the Delaney Amendment – he wrote a scientific paper that was published in the "Journal of Toxicology". Lawyers – they write in law review journals, but this lawyer wrote in the "Journal of Toxicology": "a De-Minumus interpretation of the Delaney Amendment" became the new protocol, the new standard operating procedure at FDA. They minimized cancer.

Michael Taylor was hired by the Food & Drug Administration, and became the second most powerful man there, Monsanto's attorney – he wrote the standard operating procedure. In other words, if you see cancer, ignore it. Margaret Miller and Suzanne Sechen, Monsanto's scientists, were hired by the FDA to review Monsanto's own research.

Margaret Miller knew cows were getting mastitis. The first week at the FDA, December 3, 1989, she was given broad power, and here's an affect of genetic engineering nobody has considered. She knew cows were getting sick from the genetically engineered hormone. She changed the amount of antibiotics that farmers could have in their milk. She changed it from 1 part per 100 million to 1 part per million - this is a fact! She increased it by 100 times.

There is a hero of mine in the audience, Michael Hansen from Consumer's Union - Consumer's Union tested milk in the New York metropolitan area and found the presence of 52 different antibiotics in milk samples.

FDA published on August 24, 1990, the first time ever in a peer-reviewed journal, in "Science". "Science" was started by Thomas Edison in the 1880's. They published a review of bovine somatotropin – bGH – the genetically engineered cow hormone. And in that review, there were seven tables of data. Five of those tables came from one study authored by Richard, Odaglia and Deslex. This is the famous "90-Day Study." Guess what? This was actually a study lasting for 180 days and when I first heard about this in 1994, I filed a Freedom of Information Act Request for that study - because I saw from the data that the average spleen of a lab animal increased 46%.

I called FDA and spoke with Dick Teske. I said, "46%? You said there were no biological effects!"

He said, "That's not statistically significant."

I said, "Well, let me see the raw data."

He said, "It's a trade secret."

I called Monsanto, they laughed at me. They said, "It's a trade secret and you will never see it."

I'm smart, I filed a Freedom of Information Act Request, but I didn't realize you can't find out the study. I went to Federal Court, I said, "Your honor – spleen increase of 46%, that's leukemia in 90 days!"

I met with FDA on April 21, 1995, and found out that this was actually a 180-day study.

In Canada, they had this study. I have a letter here ( Robert Cohen reaches into his briefcase) , an internal memorandum:

"This is to advise you that the copies of reports, letters, etc. for drug submissions have been stolen from my files."

This was stolen from a scientist's file in Canada. They stole the second half of the "90-Day Study."

We've got real science here. I'm going to talk briefly about the real science because when Monsanto made this hormone, they had to tell the FDA - they had to draw a chart of every amino acid - the 191 amino acids. And when FDA wrote their paper in "Science" magazine they wrote that one amino acid changed - it was a different hormone than the naturally occurring one.

At the same time, somebody hired C. Everett Koop to come and say that genetically engineered milk and the good old wholesome milk is indistinguishable. Well, it wasn't. Something happened to the hormone that Monsanto made. The FDA said that there was one change in the endamino acid. It became epsilon-N-acetyllysine. FDA had written if there was a change in the middle of the protein, there could be disastrous results. They cited Jerome Moore. I got Jerome Moore's paper. It said if there is a protein change in the middle, there could be Alzheimer's or sickle cell anemia or diabetes.

Four months after the hormone was approved, one of Monsanto's scientists, Bernard Violand, published in the July 3, 1994 issue of the journal "Protein Science" evidence that Monsanto made a mistake.

Oops! Monsanto created a freak amino acid. Did you ever see that movie "The Fly" with Jeff Goldblum when the fly comes in and he becomes half-human and half-fly? Monsanto created a freak amino acid. Monsanto admitted it but didn't tell the FDA.

( Robert Cohen turns and points to the FDA panel members).

Gentlemen, the hormone that's on the market today is different than the one you tested for seven years. Monsanto spent 500 million dollars, submitted 55,000 pages of information to you, learned late in the process that they created a freak amino acid – that's what was tested on laboratory animals and it didn't matter because FDA said to Monsanto, you know something? It's safe because when you pasteurize milk, you destroy the hormone.

They performed this research up in Guelph, Ontario by Paul Groenewegan, and I've got his study. ( Robert Cohen again addresses FDA panel members) To this day, FDA thinks – it's on your web page – that 90% of the bovine growth hormone is destroyed by pasteurization. But what Paul Groenewegan did working with Ted Elasser and Brian McBride, two Monsanto scientists, was he pasteurized milk for 30 minutes at 162ºF, and when I read that – I said, wait a second, milk is pasteurized for 15 seconds at that temperature – not 30 minutes. They intentionally tried to destroy the hormone, they only destroyed 19% of it - somebody lied. And at that moment, FDA said to Monsanto:

"Because you destroy it by pasteurization, you don't have to do further toxicology studies. You don't have to develop a test for this hormone in milk. It's now safe to drink."

They (FDA) developed a zero day withdrawal - they determined it was safe to drink.

We have a lot of political intrigue here. We have an interesting situation where people have said that a revolving door policy exists at FDA. I mean, where is the ex-FDA commissioner, guess who he is working for? He is working for Monsanto. Bob Dole ran for President, his Chief of Staff was Donald Rumsfeld (ex-president of Searle, owned by Monsanto). I have one last comment ( ... at this point, the moderator interrupts Mr. Cohen and tells him to wrap it up and to address labeling)

I know, but we have a labeling issue here – we have a right to know – I have listened to comments about "multi-faceted educational effort that we need" – that's called brainwashing! I don't want a "multi-faceted educational effort" – I want a double helical structure (AUDIENCE APPLAUDS) on a piece of food that I'm going to buy in the supermarket because I have a right to know.

Because the bottom line is – mistakes were made and when I hear from the American Dietetic Association, ( Robert Cohen addresses a member of the american dietetic association who previously spoke against labeling) , I want to remind you that Monsanto gave you $100,000 to set up a toll-free hotline about the bovine growth hormone. Mistakes were made! We've got political intrigue here and the bottom line is we have a right to know what we are eating. Thank you. (APPLAUSE)


Whilst all articles are reproduced in good faith we cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies or misrepresentations. Take up such issues with the originator of the article. All articles are circulated for information and 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: Mon, 20 Dec 1999 23:54:36 +0200
From: "ekogaia"

Leading South African Supermarket aims to go GE free.

Press release from SAFEAGE.
21 December 1999. Cape Town, South Africa.

Woolworths intends to go GE free.

At a meeting between the management of Woolworths, the leading South African food and household store, and members of the South African Federation Against Genetic Engineering (SAFEAGE) Woolworths have stated their intention to remove genetically engineered (GE) food from their shelves.

Woolworths is the first South African store to take this stance on GE food. Senior management expressed the need for caution and stated that the wellbeing of their customers is their most important priority.

The current situation with regard to GE food in South Africa is unsatisfactory. GE food is already on our supermarket shelves, but we have no legislation that forces companies to label the products that contain GE ingredients. The result is that consumers are purchasing products that contain GE ingredients without their knowledge or consent. No comprehensive scientific tests have been done on humans regarding the safety of GE food and both groups are thus wary of the dangers of unleashing this technology on an uninformed public.

Woolworths have stated they will be assessing these foods for harmful effects in an ongoing monitoring programme of their produce. They also said that it is not an overnight process and that they would be starting with their primary ingredients. If no suitable alternative ingredients could be found they said they would clearly label their products.

In their move to adopt a policy of GE-free food, Woolworths is following the example of their associate company Marks and Spencer in the United Kingdom who have already banned GE food from their shelves. Woolworths is determined to establish the source of their food supply and put in place a testing regimen that satisfies all interested and affected parties.

Ongoing discussions between Woolworths and SAFEAGE will take place regarding independent testing, labelling and issues surrounding GE food.

SAFEAGE applauds the courage and integrity of Woolworths for putting their customers first.

Contact Details; All numbers are South African (code-27) Woolworths;

Jonathan Herbert (021) 407-3521 or cell 083-252-0785 (Position; Executive: foods)


Glenn Ashton (021) 789-1751
Angus Durren (011) 318-1399

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Date: Thu, 23 Dec 1999 22:07:34 +0200
From: "ekogaia"

Europe lifts plant patents moratorium


The latest issue of nature has information on the lifting of the moratorium on patents on plants by a high court of the European Union. This has global implications. For details on this new development go to;

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Date: 3 Jan 2000
From: Angus Durran, Safe Food Coalition

South Africa: GE battle of chain stores

To the Editor

Dear Sir,

Is the Woolworths GE ban sour grapes for Pick'n Pay?

Pick'n Pay's marketing director Martin Rosen, accused Woolworths of 'scare tactics', according to newspaper reports on December 22, 1999. Responding to Woolworth's ban on genetically engineered (GE) foods Rosen said that one has to be 'very brave or very irresponsible to make a statement like that'.

I would like to put the following questions to Mr. Rosen:

  1. Sainsburys retail food chain in the UK, who I understand are associates of Pick'n Pay, have banned GE products as have all other retail stores in England. Does Rosen regard himself as so highly qualified as to label the entire English retail business including his associates (as well as the Swiss, Austrian and Luxembourg governments) as irresponsible?

  2. Pick'n Pay helped sponsor a tour by Prof. John Fagan to South Africa recently. Fagan is internationally known as a microbiologist who opposes GE. He even went so far as to say 'these food should be tested on humans, until then consumbers are being used as guinea pigs!'

    Isn't Pick'n Pay practising double standards by criticising Woolworths on the one hand, and yet supporting an opponent of GE on the other?

  3. In a letter to the Safe Food Coalition (SFC) of December 12, 1999 Rosen states: 'Pick'n Pay does not take any firm position one way or the other regarding GM foods'

    If this is the case, why is Pick'n Pay opposed to Woolworths' policy and secondly why has Pick'n Pay produced a brochure entitled 'Healthy Eating Guide, Genetic Modification and Food Safety' which is clearly designed to leave the reader with the impression the GE foods are safe?

Inerestingly enough, the brochure has been produced in conjunction with Unifoods and Nestle, both proponents of GE in South Africa and yet Unilever (linked to Unifoods South Africa) and Nestle have banned GE foods from their products in the UK.

Would there be any chance that the companies that have banned GE in the UK have dumped it in South Africa, and would it be possible that these products are ending up on Pick'n Pay shelves to be sold unlabelled, to an unsuspecting public?

In the light of the above I can agree with Rosen that Woolwoths' decision is a 'brave' move but as far as 'irresponsible' is concerned I must respectfully suggest that he looks at the Pick'n Pay policy before criticising his competitors.

Is Rosen aware that the GE saga is becoming more and more controversal? Biowatch, an South African environmental group, for example, has recently published a legal document which concludes the government here is clearly not ready to protect our health and environment from the potential dangers of genetic engineering. Large banking groups such as the Deutsche Bank have advised their investors to withdraw their investments from GE companies such as Monsanto. Even the Monsanto canteen at their office in UK have banned GE after refusal by Monsanto staff to eat GE food.

Rosen also states in the above letter that 'human trials have not and will not be necessary'. Many scientists disagree. How often have we heard from the tabacco industry that 'there is no scientific evidence that smoking can harm your health'. Now every packet carries a government health warning. Surely if Mr. Rosen did really care about consumber health he would support Woolworths in it stand agains GE rather than oppose it.

The SFC applauds the brave stand taken by Woolworths for putting consumers first.

Yours sincerely

Angus Durran
for the Safe Food Coalition
Tel.: +27 11 318 1399     Fax: +27 11 318 1872    e-mail:

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Date: Sat, 6 Nov 1999 21:55:37 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN10-5

Toll Free Numbers For Canadian Companies

For anyone that wants to contact Canadian companies and tell your opinion about GE ingredients in their products here are TOLL FREE NUMBERS FOR CANADIAN COMPANIES (or Canadian Subsidiaries)

Supermarkets – Customer Comment Cards
*Sobeys, Inc.(could not find)
*McDonald's (Canada) could not find

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Date: Sat, 6 Nov 1999 21:55:37 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN10-5

We're All Guinea Pigs

by David Suzuki, November 4, 1999, The Moncton Times, Transcript

(Editor's Note: this is the second in a multi-part series on genetically engineered food.)

Suzuki writes that right now, about three million hectares of Canadian farmland are growing crops of plants that have been genetically modified by biotechnology. Do such plants pose dangers to us and our ecosystems? The only honest answer is no one knows for certain. The biotech industry claims that their crops are actually safer for the environment because they can be engineered to do things such as resist disease and pests.

In theory, this means that fewer pesticides need to be used, less tilling would be required, and crop yields would expand. But problems have already surfaced. For example, engineering a plant to be toxic to pests can also make it toxic to other non-pest organisms. A study earlier this year, for instance, found, says Suzuki, that nearly half of monarch butterfly larvae feeding on milkweed that had been dusted with pollen from Bt maize (a genetically modified corn) died, while the control groups suffered no mortalities. This raises questions about the impact of genetically modified crops on biodiversity.

We know that the diversity of species keeps natural systems in balance. But there are already far fewer organisms on commercial monoculture farms than are found on organic farms. If we grow fields of crops that are toxic to all organisms except humans, what will that do to beneficial insects, or to the important microorganisms that live in our soils?

This could have serious repercussions because depletion of insect numbers, for example, would lead to fewer birds and small mammals, and could have other implications up and down the food chain.

Another study this summer reviewing 8,200 university-based trials of transgenic soya found that farmers growing the herbicide-resistant Roundup Ready Soybeans typically used two-to-five times more herbicide than those using conventional weed management systems. Not surprisingly, the same company that produces the modified soybean also produces the herbicide that is sprayed on it.

Organic farmers, meanwhile, are concerned that genetically modified crops will hybridize with their crops, so they will be unable to maintain their organic status.

Another worry is the chance that some of the traits, such as herbicide resistance, that are being engineered into food crops could jump to other species, resulting in superweeds.

How will genetically modified foods affect human health? There seem to be few immediate health risks, although there is the potential for allergic reactions, especially if desired traits are transferred to crops from highly-allergenic foods such as nuts. In the long term, the effects are unknown because scientists can't say for certain how a gene taken from one species will behave in a completely different organism. The testing, says Suzuki, just hasn't been done.

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Date: Sat, 6 Nov 1999 21:55:37 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN10-5

Fear of Biotechnology: Hysteria or due Caution?

Science Volume 286, Number 5442, p 1089 November 5, 1999

Jorn Koch, Department of Cytogenetics, Danish Cancer Society, Denmark, writes that the special section about agricultural biotechnology in the 16 July issue ("Plant biotechnology: Food and feed," p. 367) seemed to imply that this technology is God's gift to mankind, and that those who believe otherwise are hysterical (such as some of the European countries). But caution is not hysteria.

Koch says that it is well established that host-pathogen/pest interactions follow a model of a coevolutionary "arms race" (1). That fact is absent from Roger N. Beachy's Editorial (p. 335) and appears to be so elsewhere in the section. The scale of problems that this kind of arms race may present us with is well illustrated by the tale of antibiotics. When penicillin was found, it seemed that we were on the verge of eradicating infectious diseases. Now, half a century later, we have a host of different antibiotics, yet we are at risk of loosing the arms race to multiresistant bacteria. Not to note such experiences or to acknowledge that the arms race will not be a problem in biotechnology systems seems one-sided.

One of the biotechnological strategies being pursued is the introduction into crop plants of genes encoding insecticides. One example was the introduction of Bacillus thuringiensis toxin into cotton plants, a strategy also referred to in Beachy's Editorial. The logic was that because resistance to the toxin is likely to be a recessive trait, dilution of this trait into the population of pests not feeding on the modified crop would at least significantly delay the development of resistance. What appeared to be the case, when the larvae of the pink bollworm moth were fed on the modified cotton plants, was that their development was delayed (2). Consequently, the adult moths were likely to appear later than they would normally, and therefore predominantly mate with one another, rather than with the diluent population, thus causing resistance to arise early rather than late or not at all (3).

If we respect the independence of nations, each should be free to make its own choice. Thus, if the United States decides in favor of genetically modified crops, they should be free to do so. Likewise, if Africa decides to raise modified crops to fight starvation, then that's their choice. However, Europe should similarly be allowed to decide. We are living in a time when the public trust in science and scientists is at its lowest (4). A major reason for this regrettable turn of events is the commercialization of science (4). We do nothing to better this situation by allowing prestige and money to drive decisions rather than true insight and a striving toward a better future for this planet and the myriads of diverse creatures living on it, including our own kind.


  1. R. Dawkins and J. R. Krebs, Proc. R. Soc. London Ser. B 205, 489 (1989).
  2. Y.-B. Liu et al., Nature 400, 519 (1999).
  3. M. J. Crawley, Nature 400, 501 (1999).
  4. B. Haerlin and D. Parr, Nature 400, 499 (1999).

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Date: Sat, 6 Nov 1999 21:55:37 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN10-5

Industry Manipulation of Research Results on Bt Corn and Monarchs

from Becky Goldburg, staff scientist at Environmental Defense Fund's New York City office
Becky Goldburg@EDF on 11/04/99

I am writing to provide a first hand perspective on articles stating that "Bt corn poses little risk to monarchs" which have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, LA Times, St Louis Post Dispatch, and other papers in the past two days. Some of these articles are below. I attended Tuesday's (Nov 2) meeting in Rosemount, Illinois, on Bt corn and monarchs that is described in these articles. With the exception of an article in today's NYTimes (also below), these articles all stated that the meeting would reach a conclusion that Bt corn poses little risk to monarchs – even though most of the articles were written before the meeting was even held!!

Luckily, Carol Yoon from the NY Times attended the meeting. During the afternoon, she stood up and said that she had just talked to her editors and that they had received a press release from industry stating that the meeting would conclude that Bt corn presented little risk to monarchs. (See BIO's press release, below.) Carol asked if participants agreed with this conclusion. The answer was a clear "No" from a number of researchers.

To be frank, I am appalled by industry's manipulation of a scientific meeting at which a number of researchers – many of which have only analyzed some of their data and thus have only preliminary results to report – were supposed to discuss their work in a careful and deliberate manner.

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Date: Sat, 6 Nov 1999 21:55:37 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN10-5

No Consensus on the Effects of Engineering on Corn Crops

November 4, 1999

ROSEMONT, Ill. – An unusual scientific symposium organized and financed by a biotech trade group ended on Wednesday with conflicting claims about the risks that genetically engineered corn might pose to the monarch butterfly.

Makers of the genetically altered corn were put on the defensive in May when a study by Cornell researchers was published in the journal Nature showing that pollen from corn producing the insecticidal toxin Bt could kill monarch caterpillars in the laboratory. Since then the potential threat to the monarch has become a focus for the growing opposition to genetically engineered crops by environmental and other groups.

After the study, the biotech industry sponsored further research on the issue, including some presented at the meeting here. The Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Working Group, the industry group that organized the symposium, issued a statement this morning saying scientists were expected to conclude that the altered corn pollen did not harm the monarch.

But far from culminating in a consensus, the day was marked by sometimes heated exchange and ended with some scientists concluding that the bioengineered corn was safer than had been feared while others said that it was premature to drawn any such conclusions.

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Date: Sat, 6 Nov 1999 21:55:37 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN10-5

US Democrats urge labels on biotech foods

WASHINGTON, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Some 48 mostly Democratic members of Congress urged federal regulators on Friday to require labels on U.S. foods made with bioengineered ingredients, following the lead of the European Union.

The pressure from lawmakers comes at a time when the Food and Drug Administration has launched an effort to find out if Americans want more information about genetically-modified (GM) soybeans, corn and potatoes and other ingredients.

The FDA currently does not require labels, based on its scientists' view that GM crops do not pose health or safety risks any different from traditional breeding techniques.

But faced with growing unease among American consumers, the agency will hold a series of public meetings later this month to take a fresh look at its own policies.

Rep. David Bonior, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, said the FDA must ensure that consumers get the "vital information" they need about bioengineered foods.

About 70 percent of foods sold in U.S. grocery stores contain a genetically altered ingredient, Bonior said.

"Without labeling and ensuring their right-to-know, consumers' interests are not adequately protected," he and other lawmakers said in a letter to FDA Commissioner Jane Henney.

Three Republicans – Benjamin Gilman of New York, Christopher Shays of Connecticut and Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland – also signed the letter.

"We believe that the labeling provisions of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, which are intended to ensure that consumers are provided thorough information and are not misled about the characteristics of their food, require the FDA to label genetically engineered or modified foods," the letter said.

Also signing the letter was Rep. Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat, who is drafting a bill for mandatory labels.

** 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:

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