10 November 99

Table of Contents

UK: Three year pause to assess effects of GM crops
Scientists Reminded To Report Deaths -- FDA Responds to Gene Therapy Flap
China raises concerns about GM food
Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) urges moratorium on GM crops
Iceland Boss to Freeze out Meat Reared on GM Feed
US Farm Bureau wants WTO negotiations on GM crops
Italy blocks GM crops
NY Times-November 8 -- BIOTECH = HUNGER advert
200 Hundred Health Canada Scientists Speak Out
Green Group Warns on GM Tree Development
European court to hear French GM maize challenge
Activist warns about genetically-altered food
Greenpeace challenges French green light for GM-modified maize
EU's top judges asked to rule on landmark GMO case
EU'US green, consumer groups demand labels on biotech food
Conference: How to Ensure Survival in the Agbiotech Industry
Farmers Face Harvest Headache Segregating Gene-Altered Crops
virus danger in pig-human transplants
Videos, Bumperstickers, Pamphlets, Articles, Etc.

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Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 15:34:20 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-6

UK: Three year pause to assess effects of GM crops

by Paul Brown, Environment Correspondent
The Guardian, Saturday November 6, 1999

No genetically modified crops will be grown commercially in Britain until at least the spring of 2003, to allow time for a panel of independent scientists to assess trial plantings and see whether they damage the biodiversity of the wider countryside, Michael Meacher, the environment minister, said yesterday.

The agreement to hold off on commercial planting, made jointly with the GM industry, is a victory for the government's official advisers, English Nature, and the environment lobby. They fear that heavy doses of insecticide and herbicide used on the GM crops will kill all other plants and insects, and that GM crops may cross pollinate with native plants.

The government had originally intended to press ahead with commercial planting without any research into the environmental effects, but the outcry from the organic farming and green lobby caused it to think again.

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Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 15:34:20 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-6

Scientists Reminded To Report Deaths – FDA Responds to Gene Therapy Flap

By Rick Weiss and Deborah Nelson, Washington Post Staff Writers, Saturday, November 6, 1999; Page A15

The Food and Drug Administration yesterday issued a firm reminder to doctors and pharmaceutical company researchers involved in gene therapy studies that they are required to tell federal health officials immediately about any deaths or other serious side effects among patients who have received gene therapy.

The letter came two days after The Washington Post reported that two research teams had failed to provide such notification for six patients who had died after receiving gene therapy in the past 19 months. The researchers said they had reported the deaths promptly to the FDA, which generally keeps such information secret, but not to the National Institutes of Health, which also oversees gene therapy but reviews injury reports publicly.

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Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 15:34:20 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-6

China raises concerns about GM food

BEIJING - AP World News via NewsEdge Corporation, November 1, 1999

A senior Chinese legislator called on Friday for legislation to regulate genetically modified foods, adding China to the list of countries that have raised concerns about the controversial technology. Whether imported or domestically produced, GM food should be regulated Wang Tao, a member of the legislature's executive committee, was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

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Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 15:34:20 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-6
posted by "dan.mcguire"

Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) urges moratorium on GM crops

Fri, 05 Nov 1999

WINNIPEG - Greg Arason, the president of the Canadian Wheat Board, was cited as telling senior grain industry executives in a closed meeting last week there should be a moratorium on the introduction of transgenic crops until customers are more willing to accept them or they can be sifted out of the grain handling system, adding, "In our view, no transgenic varieties should be registered for commercial production in Canada until either they have achieved full commercial acceptance in all of their potential markets or until we have cost-effective technologies to segregate by variety throughout the system. The CWB is a strong believer that when it comes to marketing food ingredients the customer is always right, even when they might be scientifically wrong."

Mr. Arason's remarks are, according to this story, a significant departure from the board's previous low-key position on the growing controversy over genetically modified foods. Although his comments were made during a private industry meeting called by the board and the Canada Grains Council, the text was later released on the board's Web site. Mr. Arason was travelling on CWB business this week and unavailable for further comment. Yesterday, Lyle Vanclief, the federal Agriculture Minister, was cited as saying he did not know about the call for a moratorium, adding, "I don't wish to comment. I don't know what he said or in what context he put it." Doug Mutch, a private-sector grain trade consultant, was cited as saying the board is expressing concern about the public acceptability of transgenic products and is attempting to preserve the overseas grain market by being able to assure customers that none of Canada's wheat product is transgenic.

Currently, no varieties of transgenic wheat, durum or barley are available to Canadian farmers. But industry officials estimate more than half of this year's massive canola crop was produced by genetically modified varieties. Monsanto Co. is working with government scientists in Winnipeg to develop wheat that can tolerate applications of its popular herbicide Roundup. The company says results of the research could reach the market by 2003 or 2004.

Other companies, including AstraZeneca Group PLC, Novartis AG and AgrEvo GmbH, are also developing genetically modified crops. Craig Evans, general manager of biotechnology for Monsanto Canada Inc., was cited as saying he understands why the CWB is concerned, adding, "It's not surprising, given the importance of wheat to the Canadian economy, given that we are an export country."

The canola industry has been shut out of the European market for three years, ever since the industry moved forward with nonsegregated production of transgenic canola. But Europe was a relatively minor market for canola. Canada's major export customers for canola, Japan, the United States and Mexico, have accepted the technology. But in the case of cereal grains, Canada's markets are more fragmented and many of the premium paying customers are in countries now expressing high levels of concern.

Over the past 10 years, Canada produced an average of 26.5 million tonnes of wheat and durum. It exported 19.7 million tonnes to more than 70 countries. While the tools of biotechnology, which include genetically modified crops, offer vast potential for improving the quality and quantity of crops Prairie farmers grow, Mr. Arason said, that must be balanced against market realities.

The board has been surveying its customers' views on transgenic crops and biotechnology over the past year, he said. Many are unwilling to accept commodities produced from transgenic varieties. Brian Hayward, chief executive of United Grain Growers Ltd., one of the major grain-handling companies on the Prairies, was quoted as saying, "I think it's pragmatic. I think the CWB is probably acting in a responsible manner in wanting to talk about these things."

Here is a site that might be of interest.

Also see the address, "Marketing in an era of biotechnology", by Greg Arason, President and CEO of the Canadian Wheat Board at

Here is a segment of the talk:

Market Reality

One of the realities of current and future markets is the impending need to segregate out GMOs, and to segregate non-GMOs too. Let me give you some examples. According to the CEO of ConAgra, Bruce Rohde, ConAgra began working with corn growers this summer to try to segregate GMO corn.

He went on to say "If you don't segregate it, you can't market to get the cost-benefit out of it" ADM has established a process to segregate corn varieties that are not registered for sale in the EU. Honda Corporation is setting up a facility in the US to segregate non GM soybeans.

The Ontario soybean industry is segregating non-transgenic beans to meet several different market opportunities. The Canada Grain Commission is assisting the industry in this process. Itochu Corporation has instructed Quality Trading Inc of Illinois to prepare to handle only non-transgenic crops.

In turn Quality Trading is instructing their country elevators to begin segregating non-transgenic crops. Kanot Soybean Wholesale Federation of Kawaquchi, Japan is purchasing only GMO-free soybeans. Warburton's bakery in the UK has indicated clearly to the CWB, and, I am sure to those with whom they work here in Canada, that they will expect the Canadian system to deliver to them wheat that is not transgenic.

The way the market is reacting to transgenic crops as food ingredients, there is little doubt that we will have to segregate non-GMO wheat and barley varieties for some customers. The challenge is to have a system in place to do this, well before they are introduced.

Hopefully through pro-active marketing we will be able to limit the need for zero-tolerance IP programs. Even with the very aggressive, pro-active marketing program which the CWB is setting out at this time, there will likely be those customers who will most likely not accept transgenic cereals when the first varieties are coming up for registration.

A couple of significant concerns that we have are characterized by the following reactions: Kirin and Sapporoto Breweries are removing the transgenic maize in their beer. Kirin says, "We cannot ignore consumer doubts about the safety of GM crops"

The Japan Tofu Association has decided to move to all non-GM soybeans for their tofu production. Nippon Flour Mills is looking at replacing the cornstarch that they are using with wheat starch in an effort to get away from transgenic ingredients in their food products. This is good news for wheat only if we can assure the Japanese that we can deliver non-transgenic wheat to their market.

In all likelihood Japan will be unwilling to approve a transgenic wheat for importation. Every one of our Italian customers said they would not import transgenic durum until there was clear consumer acceptance. They estimated this to happen sometime towards 2008.

If the only major premium market that is left to sell transgenic wheat into is the United States, will that be enough? Even if we can sell them wheat the indications are that the malting industry will not accept transgenic malting barley anywhere except China. As an industry we need to discuss who is responsible for what and who is going to pay the bill for failed systems that do not deliver what the customer has ordered.

** 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: Mon, 8 Nov 1999 22:38:36 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-8

Iceland Boss to Freeze out Meat Reared on GM Feed

Sunday Mirror, 7th November

Iceland boss Malcolm Walker is taking on the High Street giants in a new round of the GM-free food war.

Last week, he banned artificially-coloured eggs from his nationwide chain. Now he plans to remove meat and poultry reared on GM feed.

The ban, to start in the New Year, will force rival stores to follow suit. Suppliers have warned him the competition think he's "rocking the boat" but he is determined to carry on.

Mr Walker, 53, said: "The food system in Britain is as good as any but we are adding things into it that we don't need."

Speaking from his Cheshire home, he fried two of his own pale-yolked eggs - from chickens not fed with artificial colorants - and explained: "Public awareness about diet and the safety of food has surged. It's the one issue on which Tony Blair seems to have been out of touch with the public.

"In the last day or so, we have seen how the Government is now having to change its stance on the question of GM. That's due to pressure of public opinion.

"I won't deny it's good marketing to address public concerns but you only succeed if you give people want they want."

Reflecting that, Iceland's share prices have started to lift out of the doldrums they hit four years ago. On Friday, days after his yolk-colouring ban, nearly all 760 shops sold out of eggs.

Iceland was the first to withdraw GM ingredients from own-brand products 18 months ago.

Mr Walker said: "All we are advocating is the removal of additives that are not really necessary."

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Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1999 22:38:36 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-8

US Farm Bureau wants WTO negotiations on GM crops

WASHINGTON, Reuters [WN] via NewsEdge Corporation

The United States' largest farm organization wants upcoming World Trade Organization talks to include a negotiating group on market access issues surrounding genetically-modified (GM) crops.

Audrae Erickson, trade specialist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said her group has examined the risks of that approach, but strongly believes " we've got to have a solution to this problem."

Canada has proposed a WTO working group to examine issues surrounding (GM) crops. The new varieties have caused consumers fears in the European Union, even though U.S. regulatory agency scientists have determined they are safe.

A lag in the approval process of GM crops between the United States and the EU has cost U.S. farmers some $200 million in lost corn sales to Europe over the past two years.

U.S. soybean sales have also suffered as EU food manufacturers have responded to consumer concerns by avoiding genetically-modified varieties.

About one-half of the U.S. soybean crop and about one-third of the U.S. corn crop are from genetically-modified seed.

Establishing a working group to further examine the issue would only delay a solution to the problem, Erickson said.

"At the end of working group, they're just going to issue a report. You're going to have to go to a negotiating group to get a solution," Erickson told Reuters.

The United States has not yet said how it would like to handle GM issues in the upcoming negotiations.

But noting that the Clinton administration has been in interagency discussion on the issue, Erickson said the United States could reveal its plans "as early as next week."

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Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1999 22:38:36 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-8

Italy blocks GM crops

Xinhua via NewsEdge Corporation : ROME (Nov. 5) XINHUA

Italian Farm Minister Paolo De Castron Friday blocked three genetically modified (GM) crops - maize, soya and chicory - that had completed testing and were ready to proceed to field planting. ...

For the moment, De Castro has also halted all new GM testing programs. He said he wanted responsibility for the schemes to be shared by regional governments before giving the go-ahead.

De Castro's decision was welcomed by the Italian Green party, whose Lower House whip Mauro Paissan said the experimental growing of GM crops in Italy was being carried out without the necessary precautions or controls.

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Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1999 22:38:36 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-8

NY Times-November 8 – BIOTECH = HUNGER advert

The biotechnology industry promotes itself as the solution to world hunger. In reality, the industry's practices may drive self-sufficient farmers off their land and undermine their food security - increasing poverty and hunger.

The biotechnology industry claims it holds the answer to world hunger: high technology to increase production. But according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), this badly misstates the problem. There is no shortage of food in the world. Per capita food production has never been higher. The real problem is this:

In a globalized economy, the poorest countries of the world are exporting their food to the already well-fed countries.

Global agribusiness corporations, including those involved in biotechnology, are helping to dispossess millions of small, self-sufficient farmers who once sus tained their families and communities. The best lands have been converted to grow luxury crops for the global market: potted plants, flowers, beef, cotton, soya, and exotic fruits and vegetables. Global corporations rarely grow inexpensive staple foods for local people and communities.

Left without their own land to grow food, without jobs on high-tech farms (that emphasize technology rather than workers), and with no cash to buy food, the former self-sufficient farmers now swell the ranks of the world's 800 million hungry.

The issues are not merely about technology. The issues are:

In a globalized economy, food self-sufficiency is replaced by food dependency.

Is biotechnology the answer?

No, it's part of the problem.

Here are four reasons why:

  1. Biotechnology threatens farmers

    Much of the world's remaining biodiversity now exists in the forests and fields of the southern, poor nations. It's here that small farmers have, for millennia, been cultivating, saving and refining seeds to better feed their communities. But now, global biotechnology companies are on frenzied searches for seeds that they can patent and monopolize. They make small genetic alterations in the seeds, calling those "inventions" to gain the patents. In the U.S., for example, it is now illegal for farmers to save patented seeds without permission or payment of royalties. Corporate ownership of seeds can make it very expensive for poor farmers to survive; millions may soon have to give up their lands, move to cities, seek urban jobs, and join the hunger lines. In 1997, a million such sm all farmers in India took to the streets to protest seed patenting. They called it "biopiracy." All over the world (including India and England), protesters have ripped up biotech crops.

    Corporate scientists are also working toward the day when food won't be grown in fields by farmers at all. In the high tech, biotech future, your broccoli may be grown indoors, from tissue cultures. The companies will no longer worry about weather or nature (or protesters); they will have total control. Real farmers may become obsolete.

  2. Biotech suicide plants

    If anyone still believes that the biotechnology industry is motivated by a desire to feed a hungry world, consider the new "terminator" technology being developed by several companies and the U.S. government. This is a plant that's genetically engineered to produce a sterile seed. A "suicide plant." Why would they want to create such a thing? Here's why.

    For millennia, small farmers have cut costs and bred for local conditions by saving seeds for later replanting. "Terminator" seeds will make that impossible. Small farmers will have to buy new seeds annually from biotech companies. The cost could drive many out of business.

  3. Vulnerable to failure

    For all the billions that have gone into biotechnology, its performance is pathetic. Some biotech crops have been spectacular failures, leading to lawsuits against biotech companies. For example, in 1997, tens of thousands of acres of biotech cotton withered and died. Farmers sued the companies that produced the biotech product, finally settling for up to $5 million. Similar problems have been seen with other biotech products including rBGH, which some dairy farmers inject into their animals to increase the milk supply. According to a 1998 report commissioned by Health Canada, cows injected with rBGH showed about a 50% increase in the risk of clinical lameness, a 25% increase in the risk of mastitis, a 40% increase in the risk of infertility, and a 20-25% increase in the risk of being "culled" (slaughtered for under-productivity). Several U.S. dairy farmer associations and consumer groups have recently taken action to rescind the FDA's approval of this hormone based on its adverse affects to animal and human health.

    Another risk comes from the fact that biotech farming promotes monoculture, a single crop covering many acres. As happened with the infamous Green Revolution's chemical technologies that once promised to "feed the hungry," new chemical dependent biotech monocultures have replaced mixed, rotational cropping which formerly kept the soil healthy. Monocultures are notoriously vulnerable to weather events and to insect blights. Failures can be catastrophic.

  4. Ecological roulette

    The biotech industry says it is "ecological" because biotech decreases the need to use chemical sprays. At the same time they make that case, one biotech giant, Monsanto, is marketing the number one chemical herbicide in the world: Roundup. And they are genetically engineering certain crops to resist Roundup. It's a pretty slick deal. On the one hand, Monsanto sells the Roundup to farmers to kill weeds. On the other hand, it sells a genetically engineered herbicide resistant crop that Roundup can't kill. As a result, farmers use even more Roundup since the cash crop is protected from it. Other biotech companies are doing the same thing with their own herbicide products. Is this what they call ecological agriculture? Are we missing something here?

    The true effect is to increase the use of pesticides and thereby increase pollution of the soil, air, water table, rivers and oceans. Pesticides make water undrinkable, kill fish by the millions, and in the long run can turn the soil sterile.

One more point. Genetically engineered crops are difficult to control. They can cross-pollinate with other plants, or migrate, or mutate. If a pest- or herbicide-resistant strain one day spreads from crops to weeds, a super weed could multiply and be nearly impossible to stop, threatening the world food supply. One hundred U.S. scientists took this danger seriously enough to warn that "it could lead to irreversible, devastating damage to the ecology."

Obviously, the biotechnology industry is not trying to feed the hungry. That's just their advertising theme. They are trying to feed themselves. If the world really wants to feed the hungry, the way to do it is to put farmers back on the land, growing staple crops for themselves, their families and communities, not export crops for wealthy nations. Rather than destroying people's abilities to feed themselves, we should be encouraging it.

If you would like further information on how you can help the many organizations really trying to feed the hungry, and to regulate the behaviors of the biotechnology industry, please contact us at the number below.

Signers are all part of a coalition of more than 60 non-profit organizations that favor democratic, localized, ecologically sound alternatives to current practices and policies. This advertisement is the last in a series on Genetic Engineering. Other ad series discuss the extinction crisis, economic globalization, industrial agriculture and megatechnology. For more information, please contact :

Turning Point Project, 310 D St. NE, Washington, DC 20002 1-800-249-8712 email:

** 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, 11 Nov 1999 10:22:22 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-10

(The following is a report by me of recent developments at Health Canada)

200 Hundred Health Canada Scientists Speak Out

by Richard Wolfson, PhD

Over two hundred Health Canada scientists recently sent a letter to Alan Rock, Canada's Minister of Health, saying they are very concerned about the erosion of safety standards at Health Canada, which is risking the health of Canadians. The rapid approval of hormones and other drugs for use in food-producing animals, and genetically modified foods for humans, without extensive safety testing, were examples of their concerns.

The scientists were also concerned that through proposed legislation (Bill C-80), the Ministry of Health would lose the ability to enforce food safety altogether. The scientists recommended that the responsibility for ensuring food safety be kept with Health Canada. They said, "Failure to do so will be disastrous to the health of infants, children and adults."

Several weeks later, the Minister of Health had his Deputy, David Dodge, meet with the scientists. Mr. Dodge expressed dissatisfaction with their letter, which he described as "alarmist" and "unprofessional." The scientists stood their ground and reiterated their concerns about dangerously declining safety standards, which had already allowed products of questionable safety on the Canadian market.

For 200 Health Canada scientists to sign the letter of concern is of immense significance. Some of the scientists also sent in a second letter expressing their dissatisfation with the remarks of the Deputy Minister of Health. Two of the key scientists, Dr. Shiv Chopra and Dr. Margaret Haydon, who had been forbidden from speaking to the public about these concerns, are now before the Federal Court of Canada challenging their gag order. The hearing is scheduled for June 20, 2000. The scientists are represented by their union, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, who can be contacted in Ottawa.

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Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 10:22:22 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-10

Green Group Warns on GM Tree Development

from Science Headlines, Tuesday November 9

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - An international environmental group said on Tuesday a growing number of genetically modified (GM) trees were being cultivated without reliable safeguards and called for a global moratorium on their commercial release.

The World Wide Fund for Nature said in a study that commercial GM tree production could begin in the next two years, probably in Chile, China and Indonesia, despite what it said were inadequate regulations and insufficient research into the environmental impact of trees modified by biotechnology. WWF is calling on governments worldwide to declare a global moratorium on the commercial release of GM trees until enough research has been conducted Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud, head of WWF's Forests for Life Program, said in a statement. It is far too early to judge whether biotechnology can make a safe and

WWF said there could be a risk of genetic pollution, the development of and unwanted effects on non-target species from trees engineered to be resistant to pests and agricultural chemicals.

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Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 10:22:22 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-10

European court to hear French GM maize challenge

EU: November 9, 1999

BRUSSELS - Europe's highest court will today hear the arguments in a dispute over whether France had the legal right to freeze the authorisation of three strains of genetically modified (GM) maize.

The French Council of State asked the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice to rule whether national authorities may overrule a decision by the European Union to give marketing approval for GM crops.

The hearing comes amid growing confusion about the future of GM crops in the 15 member EU.

No new GMOs have been approved since April 1998 as consumer fears grow about the safety of foods derived from GM crops.

The freeze on approvals has increased the likelihood of further trade friction between the EU and the United States, whose exports of bulk commodities to Europe have been restricted.

France's Council of State in December 1998 upheld a freeze introduced by the French government on the products - developed by Swiss life sciences company Novartis SA - pending a ruling from the European court.

The case was originally brought by environmental organisations, including Greenpeace, which said that neither potential environmental nor health risks had been properly assessed when the maize was approved in the EU.

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Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 10:22:22 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-10

Activist warns about genetically-altered food

By Sharon Hill, Star Agriculture Reporter
THE WINDSOR STAR, Thursday, November 4,1999, Page A5

Public Urged To Speak Out

Consumers need to stand up and say they don't want genetically engineered food in order to get it off the market, says Richard Wolfson, PhD, an Ottawa activist against biotechnology.

Wolfson said to buy organic food or demand their supermarkets take genetically-altered food off the shelves. He was speaking to about 500 people at the Genetic Engineering and the Future of Food forum at the Caboto Club Wednesday.

Like scientist David Suzuki, Wolfson said Canada hasn't done enough long-term testing to know such foods are safe. He said we don't know enough about DNA to know what adding genes from one species to another could do, such as unpredictable mutations of the genetic code or the introduction of new toxins or allergens into food.

"We're virtually acting like God. This is what worries Prince Charles," Wolfson said. "These foods are being fast-tracked to market before they've been tested."

Wolfson, a health adviser to the Natural Law Party who has a website dedicated to genetic engineering, said consumers in Europe and Japan fought back and now genetically-altered foods are labeled there.

Wolfson said the genetically-altered crops have been rushed to market and benefit the companies that produce them and not consumers. He said if we find humans or the environment are adversely affected, it will be too late.

"If one has a car with a defectŠthey can withdraw that car and take it off the market. With a genetically engineered product you can't recall it," he said in an interview before his speech. "Even dog food in Europe can't have genetically engineered food in it. In North America they won't even allow us to label it."

Novel foods approved

Genetic engineering allows scientists to take DNA from one plant or animal and insert it into another plant or animal. Health Canada has approved 42 novel foods that use genetic engineering and an estimated 70 per cent of food in Canadian supermarkets contains genetically-altered ingredients from soy-based infant formula to many processed foods.

Jane Roberge, a 65 year old Windsorite who was raised on a farm, said she didn't know until recently that she's likely eating genetically-engineered food. She wants it off the market.

"Yes it does scare me because you don't know it's in your food."

The forum's speakers offered a critical view of genetic engineering and followed Suzuki's call for a moratorium on genetically-altered foods because the long-term hazards are not known.

But in the last few days other scientists and farmers have defended genetic engineering. Monday a group of Canadian scientists formed a national coalition to support biotechnology and genetically-engineered food. They said Canada has one of the finest regulatory systems in the world and called for an informed dialogue about biotechnology. Tuesday, the Consumers' Association of Canada, which doesn't support or oppose biotechnology, said Canadians needed accurate information more than food labeling.

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Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 10:22:22 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-10

Greenpeace challenges French green light for GM-modified maize


The international environmental group Greenpeace went before the European Court of Justice on Tuesday in a bid to annul France's green light for the marketing of genetically engineered maize.

The case marks the first time that the European Union's court is being asked to pass judgement on genetically modified foods.

Greenpeace lawyers argued that a French decree in February 1998 authorizing Novartis, the Swiss chemicals group, to market so-called Bt-maize had been adopted in violation of an agreed principle of precaution.

That principle requires the full evaluation of environmental and health risks prior to the marketing of genetically modified products.

Advocate general Jean Mischo is to deliver his conclusions on November 25, with a decision from the court due before the middle of next year.

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Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 10:22:22 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-10

EU's top judges asked to rule on landmark GMO case

BRUSSELS, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation

The European Union's top judges were asked on Tuesday to rule whether France had the right to suspend authorisation of genetically modified (GM) crops.

In a crucial test case for the future of biotechnology, the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice heard evidence from eight different parties, with opponents of GMOs led by environmental group Greenpeace pitched against leading life sciences companies and the EU's executive Commission.

The French Council of State had earlier asked the court to rule whether Paris was justified in freezing the approval of three strains of genetically modified (GM) maize developed by Switzerland's Novartis AG (NOVZn.S).

Greenpeace and agricultural lobby Confederation Paysanne told the court cannot be interpreted as being intended to deprive member states of all power of assessment when to give a new product the go-ahead, said a court report of the hearing.

Novartis, the company at the centre of the controversy, argued that France had a legal obligation to allow the seed to be marketed, particularly as it was the country which originally sponsored the application through the EU's licensing procedure.

It was supported by rival company Monsanto Co (MTC.N) and the Commission, have the under the legislation.

Case Comes at Crucial Time for GM Crops

The hearing came amid growing confusion about the future of GM crops in the 15 member EU. No new GMOs have been approved since April 1998 as consumer fears grow about the safety of foods derived from GM crops.

The freeze on approvals has increased the likelihood of further trade friction between the EU and the United States, whose exports of bulk commodities to Europe have been limited.

The Novartis maize was one of the first GM crops approved in Europe. The authorisation came in controversial circumstances and despite the opposition of a number of governments.

France then blocked the seed from being planted on its own territory, even though it was the country which originally applied for a licence on behalf of Ciba-Geigy Ltd, the forerunner of Novartis.

A court spokeswoman said that an advisory, non-binding ruling would be issued by an Advocate-General of the court in four to six weeks.

A final judgment is likely to take between 17 and 22 months from when the case was originally submitted to the court, in January this year.

If the court finds that France does have jurisdiction in the case, it will be returned to the Council of State in Paris to take a final decision on the complaint, Greenpeace said in a statement

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Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 10:22:22 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-10

EU+US green, consumer groups demand labels on biotech food

WASHINGTON, Reuters [EB] via NewsEdge Corporation

A coalition of U.S. environmental and consumer groups will urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to tighten regulation of bioengineered foods and require labels on them, the groups said on Tuesday.

The push for more federal scrutiny of genetically modified (GM) foods comes at a time when Clinton Administration officials are preparing to defend the safety and benefits of biotech crops in world trade talks at the end of the month.

The European Union, Japan and Australia are among those balking at imports of U.S. bioengineered crops and food.

Consumers Union, the Sierra Club, the Centre for Food Safety and several dozen other activist groups will ask the FDA on Friday to adopt stricter rules for companies testing GM foods.

** 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: 4 Nov 1999 04:14:10 -0600
SOURCE IBC USA Conferences

Conference: How to Ensure Survival in the Agbiotech Industry

SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass., Nov. 3 /PRNewswire/ via NewsEdge Corporation – IBC

USA Conferences and Freiberg Publishing Co., publisher of the Agbiotech Reporter and Seed & Crop Digest, are excited to announce the development of the AgBiotech World Forum 2000, brought to you in collaboration with the USDA - Office of Technology Transfer, BIO, and AOSCA.

AgBiotech World Forum 2000,, will be held on February 28 - March 1, 2000 at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, NV. This event may be the most important agbiotech conference ever held in the short history of this new industry. Almost overnight, an industry with seemingly unlimited promise, has experienced chaos and confusion as it attempts to pull back and regroup from worldwide mounting challenges.

With the long-sought-after Identity Preserved ag production system arriving years ahead of schedule, the end result might mean that non-GM crops may garner the premiums. AgBiotech World Forum 2000,, is the first conference to dig deeply into the causes of these remarkable changes, and take an expert, practical look at the challenges, and many opportunities which lie ahead.

Presentations from world-leading members of industry, government, and academia include some of the following:

Complete program and speaker information can be found


Abby Votto
IBC USA Conferences
225 Turnpike Road
Southborough, MA 01772
508-481-6400 (P)    508-481-4473 (F)

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Date: 4 Nov 1999 04:18:27 -0600

Farmers Face Harvest Headache Segregating Gene-Altered Crops

Chicago Tribune via NewsEdge Corporation : Oct. 31

In a storage bin on his Grayslake farm, Pete Tekampe has squirreled away a precious hoard of seemingly unremarkable soybeans that have one special characteristic.

Unlike most of his crop, this 300-bushel cache has none of the modifications that make today's modern seed a triumph of genetic engineering.

These are what Tekampe calls "regular old beans," and, ironically, they could point the way to the future.

By setting aside those 300 bushels for planting in the spring, Tekampe is taking the first step away from what was thought to be the agricultural revolution of the coming century. He's one of many farmers across the Midwest making contingency plans to reduce the use of crops containing genetically-modified organisms (GMO) next year.

The reason is simple: Tekampe and the others don't want to get stuck with a crop they can't sell at top dollar -- exactly the risk they may face as a result of an intense backlash against GMO technology overseas.

"It sheds a cloud over our beans," Tekampe explained.

In England, the heart of opposition, a "stop the crop" campaign is gathering steam, amid cries of "Frankenstein food," and headlines such as, "Mutant crops can kill you."

Most recently, a confusing plan to identify grocery items made from GM crops poured fuel on the controversy. Even Prince Charles got into the act, editorializing about the dangers of tinkering with "realms that belong to God."

The British concerns are echoed across Europe, in Japan and elsewhere. Although polls show the majority of Americans aren't worried, U.S. food companies are bracing themselves in case that changes.

And it might: Momentum is building on Capitol Hill for new GM labeling and safety-testing requirements, and the Food and Drug Administration is holding a series of public hearings on the issue across the country, including one in Chicago on Nov. 18.

The issue is certain to arise as World Trade Organization talks open next month in Seattle as well.

It all adds up to uncertainty for export-dependent farmers in the Midwest, and a potential quagmire for the handful of industrial giants in the GMO crop business.

At Monsanto Co., which pushed the new technology hardest, regrets are flying in a belated effort to calm the storm.

"We have irritated and antagonized more people than we have persuaded, " said Robert Shapiro, the Chicagoan who runs the St. Louis-based company, in an unusual speech to a Greenpeace conference earlier this month.

Besides making that mea culpa on enemy turf, he also swore off a useful seed technology known as "terminator" genes that activists found particularly noxious.

Shapiro has reason to appease the anti-biotech forces. Monsanto and others such as DuPont and Novartis AG sank a fortune into developing GMO technology, and now Wall Street is worried it may not pay off.

Restive investors are clamoring for a breakup to separate Monsanto's pharmaceuticals arm from what's perceived to be an agribusiness albatross.

In coming months, Monsanto is expected to give its core believers in the Farm Belt a bear hug, reminding them that GM seeds work as advertised.

"The product performance has been outstanding," said Brett Begemann, a Monsanto vice president responsible for U.S. seed markets. "There's good momentum behind (it)."

Yet Begemann's rosy outlook for continued growth of bioengineered seeds contrasts sharply with the views of many agribusiness experts and farmers.

"It's going to be a long-term problem," said Pat Horcher, a farmer in Wheeling, who expects to plant "a lot less" GMO crop next year. "It's going to have to prove itself to the overseas market."

Even optimistic Wall Street analysts such as Mark Wiltamuth of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter are forecasting flat biotech acreage in 2000, instead of the big increases widely anticipated a year ago.

Gary Goldberg of the American Corn Growers Association said he expects a decline in GMO plantings of 20 to 25 percent, while analyst Tim Ramey of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown – who declared GMO crops "dead" several months ago – is predicting a 50 percent acreage cut.

Some private crop forecasters go even further.

GMO seed will account for as little as one-quarter of the U.S. soybean crop in 2000, down from 59 percent this year, according to Dan Basse, agribusiness analyst at Chicago's AgResource Co. The GMO corn crop will shrink to as little as 15 percent, from about one-third.

"You have to grow the crop consumers want," Basse said. Universal acceptance, he added, "very well may be" a generation away.

Just months ago, GMO technology seemed certain to expand.

Soybeans that were genetically engineered to survive a dousing with the weedkiller Roundup proved to be a hit with farmers, who say they save labor and chemical costs. Cotton protected against boll weevils has proven popular, as has corn with an anti-borer trait.

Monsanto alone brings in more than $400 million annually in price premiums from its biotech seeds, according to analyst Wiltamuth.

The crops work so well, some farmers plan to grow them come what may, in the belief that buyers will accept bioengineered crops eventually.

"They will come around," said Tim Seifert, an Auburn, Ill., farmer featured in Monsanto's 1998 annual report. "I'm not changing my mind. "

Many other Midwest farmers were similarly confident until Aug. 31, when Archer Daniels Midland Co. told growers to keep their GMO crop separate from their non-GMO. It was a shocking request for commodities that previously were considered interchangeable, and it touched off a wave of worry.

Would grain elevators turn away farmers who pulled up in trucks loaded with GMO crops? Or pay them a lot less money? And what if a small amount of genetic engineering contaminated an otherwise non-GMO field?

For a while, it seemed, Y2K had come early on the farm.

As it turned out, the worst fears never materialized. Only a minority of elevators segregated the fall harvest, and prices were mostly equal.

While Monsanto's Begemann says the absence of a crisis this fall defused the issue, others doubt it.

Grain analyst Conrad Leslie said confusion over testing procedures and other rules discouraged segregation during the harvest. But next harvest probably will be different now that cheap test kits have become widely available, he noted. "The tide is going to swing back toward the old-fashioned way, the non-GMO," he said.

At Topflight Grain Co., an Illinois elevator firm, General Manager Dick Thomas expects much the same swing.

Thomas paid extra for non-GMO crops this year, then held his breath when he delivered the load to ADM for testing before it could be processed. "We passed with flying colors," he said. "I wonder what would have happened if we hadn't?"

That ominous prospect will turn farmers against GM, he predicted. "The farmer is going to say, `To heck with it.'"

In coming weeks, watch for farmers to take a wait-and-see attitude, postponing decisions about what to plant until well into the winter.

That is certainly the approach Tekampe has in mind. Before the controversy hit, he was intending to plant all his acreage with GM soybeans, which, after all, outperformed his traditional varieties this past year. If the controversy dies out, he may yet follow that course, he said.

But, like all canny farmers, he is hedging. Sure, Tekampe said, he'll lock in prices for GMO seed during December to get a good deal on his order.

But he'll keep the return policy firmly in hand. Just because he orders them, he said, "It doesn't mean that I'm going to accept them."

- -----

To see more of the Chicago Tribune, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

© 1999, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Knigh

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Date: 4 Nov 1999 07:12:29 -0600
From: joe cummins

virus danger in pig-human transplants

Please excuse my continued comments on pig-human transplants. However, such transplants loom in London, Ontario and in the United States. Some such experiments are being done on pig-primate transplants with minimal control of virus release.Pig-Human transplants are very likely to be undertaken under similar conditions. Several people have asked me for the reference below:

Title Expression of pig endogenous retrovirus by primary porcine endothelial cells and infection of human cells.
Author Martin U; Kiessig V; Blusch JH; Haverich A; von der Helm K; Herden T; Steinhoff G
Address Leibniz Research Laboratories for Biotechnology and Artificial Organs, Hannover Medical School, Germany.
Source Lancet, 352(9129):692-4 1998 Aug 29
Abstract BACKGROUND: The risk of interspecies transmission of retroviruses during xenotransplantation is suggested by reports of pig endogenous retrovirus (PERV) released from porcine cell lines productively infecting human cell lines in vitro and of infectious PERV being released from pig peripheral blood mononuclear cells after mitogenic stimulation. Endothelial cells are the main interface between a xenograft and the recipient's leucocytes and tissues.
METHODS: We have analysed pig primary aortic endothelial cells (PAEC) together with other transplantation-relevant porcine cells and tissues for expression of PERV mRNA. Release of virus particles by PAEC was monitored by reverse transcriptase (RT) activity in the medium of cultured PAEC. Infectivity for human cells was tested by co-cultivation of irradiated PAEC with the human embryonal kidney cell line HEK293 and looking for virus release from the human cells. FINDINGS: PAECs, hepatocytes, lung, and skin from a variety of pig strains and breeds expressed PERV mRNA. PAEC released infectious particles. Co-cultivation of PAEC and HEK293 led to productive infection of the human cells and expression of PERV types A and B.
INTERPRETATION: Release of infectious virus from PAEC occurred without mitogenic stimulation, suggesting a serious risk of retrovirus transfer after xenotransplantation.
Language Eng
Unique Identifier 9839720

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Date: 4 Nov 1999 19:52:59 -0600
From: (Judy Kew)
From: "genetiX action!"

Videos, Bumperstickers, Pamphlets, Articles, Etc.

Hey y'all,

Here is the new version of the BAN distro compolete with new addtions. We have new videos, litearture and bumberstickers.Please post the distro in any zine and if you can, link to it from your home page. You can find it on the web at

Please send me any stuff you want in the distro related to biotechnology.

BAN collective

Bioengineering Action Network (BAN) Literature Distro

General Information/Pamphlets
Articles/longer critiques of G.E.
Company Information
G.E. Crops

This is a limited collection of information about genetic engineering for activists. Some of us don't have access to the Internet, or for that matter, want it! We do the computer work, you get the goods.

Send money order only made out to "Daniel McGowan" 1334 42 Avenue, SF, CA, 94122 Please include money for postage. If there is anything you want distributed, send a copy and we'll add it to the list. Every order receives a FREE copy of "Resources for Anti-genetiX activists", a new zine put out by San Diegans against Biotechnology (SAB) and genetiX action! Contact for more information.

Thanks, BAN


*****NEW*************BUMPERSTICKERS AVAILABLE*********NEW****
New anti-genetiX Bumpertickers available through NERAGE
  1. Biotechnology - Giving Pollution a Life of It's Own
  2. Genetically Engineered Corn Kills Monarch Butterflies - What Next?
  3. Genetically Engineered Frankenfoods - Untested, Unlabeled & in Your Next Meal
Send 50 cents plus postage to:NERAGE PO Box 437 Winter Harbor, Maine 04693

"Stop the Crop" video by Undercurrents. short video about the mass action in Watlington, UK where 600 people trashed 25 acres of g.e. canola. $4 Order from gentiX action, 1334 42 Avenue, SF, CA 94122

General Information/Pamphlets

  1. Genetic Engineering and the Threat to Life- written by Sonoma EF!, 13 page zine that covers introduction to g.e. Also a self-mailer (for a little over 33 cents). Good "What to do" section, roundup of global actions and bibliography. 50 cents each.

  2. The Ecologist- The Monsanto Files (October 1998)- The famous edition that was pulped by the printers after Monsanto's objections. Excellent articles on Monsanto's history, lies, regulatory revolving door, Round-Up, world hunger, grassroots resistance. A definite must-read. $3 (normal price $6) Each article from this edition is also available. (Just note which one you want).

  3. What is Genetic-Engineering? put out by the Woman's Environmental Network (UK) Excellent introductory 4 pager. Researched by Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher. 25 cents

  4. "Value your Family's Health" double-sided handout perfect for leaf-letting at supermarkets, tabling at shows etc. Looks like a coupon sheet but has information on Bt, Roundup, USDA follies, a "What you can do" section with websites & phone numbers, snazzy graphics and a space for you to put your local group's contact information. Made by local activists in the SF Bay Area. (2pp) 5 cents

  5. Genetic Engineering, Don't swallow it!- by Genetic Engineering Network (GEN) from the UK. talks about myths involving g.e (pamphlet), 5 cents

  6. "Beware X Hazardous Food Ahead" --pamphlet by Womenís Environmental Network (UK) 5 cents

Articles/longer critiques of G.E.

  1. Biotechnology and the New World Order by Mitchell Cohen (Red Balloon Collective) 50 page zine that goes into history of biotechnology and offers an excellent analysis. $3

  2. Ten reasons why biotechnology will not ensure food security, protect the environment and reduce poverty in the developing world. October 1999 Miguel A. Altieri, University of California, Berkeley Peter Rosset, Institute for Food and Development Policy-(4pp) 20 cents

  3. "Playing God in the Garden" by Michael Pollan. NY Times(9 PPS)40 cents

  4. -US Farmers Fear Crop Fallout- Great BBC article on American farmers, the failure of Round-up, inability to export US corn to Europe..(3pp) 15 cents

  5. "Toying with Creation" by Dave Brian- about g.e. foods, labeling, interview with Food First. (3pp) 15 cents

  6. "The Unholy Alliance- by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho (9 pp.) 40 cents

  7. "The Biotech Century: Playing Russian Roulette with Mother Nature's Designs-Jeremy Rifkin. Great article from E Magazine 30 cents

  8. Interview with Dr. Pustaii- info from the man who got fired for exposing the effect on Bt on rodents.( 3pp) 15 cents

  9. "Ethical and Spiritual Issues in Genetic Engineering" -Dr. Ron Epstein. 30 cents

  10. "Resisting Biotechnology and the Commodification of Life" Brian Tokar For Synthesis/Regeneration #18

  11. Butterfly experiment highlights biotech hazards-Brian Tokar. From Food and Water Journal Summer 1999 30 cents

  12. "Seeds Sow Controversy"-Op-ed piece from SF Chronicle on Terminator Technology (1pp) 5 cents

  13. "Bioethics: A third world issue" by Vandana Shiva (2pp) 10 cents

  14. "GE Food; A Serious Health Risk " By Dr. John Fagan 50 cents

  15. "Biotechnology vs. Biodiversity" by Brian Tokar from Wild Earth Spring 1996 . 6pp 30 cents

  16. "Rachel's "Environment and Health Weekly" #622 October 29, 1998 entitled "Seeds of Destruction."

  17. "THIMMAKKA'S" – Resources for Environmental Education – Vol. 1 Number 2 March 1999 – The Neem Series: Part II, entitled "The Neem and WTO: Coercion?"

  18. Corporate Concentration "Terminator Seeds: Monsanto Moves to Tighten Its Grip on Global Agriculture" by Hope Shand

  19. Multinational Monitor 11/98 4pp 20 cents

  20. Bundle of articles surrounding Bt and Monarch Butterflies (3-6pp) 25 cents

  21. What is Terminator Technology? pamphlet by RAFI (10 cents)

  22. When the Woods get Scary- BBC, about tree genetics. (10 cents)

  23. The Giant Green Salmon (and other cautionary tales) by the Women's Environmental Network (UK) 4pp (20 cents)

Company Information

  1. A-seed's corporate genomic series- Availabel now: Novartis, Monsanto.Available soon: Pioneer, Avantis. Great breakdown of everything you need to know about these companies; pr startegy, products, philopsohy, location etc. 75 cents

  2. AgrEvo profile by Corporate Watch (UK) 16 pages of excellent information on the soon to be biggest biotech company in the world (after they merge with Rhone-Poulenc and form AVANTIS) $1

  3. "India Cheers While Monsanto Burns" from The Ecologist Vol. 28 No. 1 Jan/Feb 1999 by Paul Kingsnorth (1pp) 5 cents

  4. Monsanto's Toxic Legacy- from the Deccan Herald (India) (2pp) 10 cents

  5. "The Monsanto Monitor" by A SEED Europe newsletter about ..well you know $1


  1. The Ram's Horn, a monthly newsletter of food system analysis -- available by subscription at $20 a year for 11 issues -- dealing with all issues related to the food system, documentation of corporate control, and genetic engineering. Put out by Brewster and Cathleen Kneen.S6, C27, RR#1,Sorrento BC, V0E 2W0 phone/fax: 250-675-4866,

  2. Green Acre News, a 1 year subscription (12 issues) is only $20. Jean Thompson, Editor 4222 Harmony Lane SE, Iowa City, IA 52240-9385 USA 319/337-7722

  3. "genetiX Update"- Put out by Genetic Engineering Network (GEN) Excellent coverage of actions worldwide $1

  4. RAFI Communiqu>- 1/99 Traitor Technology-The Terminator's Wider Implications. well written explanation of the Terminator. (6pp double-sided) 50 cents

  5. RAFI Commuique-8/98 Seed Industry Consolidation- invaluable for figuring out who owns who in the Seed industry. (i.e. Mars bought Seeds of Change!) 50 cents

  6. RAFI Communique-3/99 The Gene Giants-update on consolidation in the life industry. 75 cents

G.E. Crops

  1. List of sites decontaminated in the US-a list that grows by the day! (1pp) 5 cents

  2. Newly decontaminated sites in the UK- as you can imagine, being continuously revised (4pp) 25 cents

  3. "How to find test fields of g.e. crops in your city? (continuously revised) 5 pp. 50 cents


  1. Comprehensive list of www links for groups working against biotechnology- (1pp) 5 cents

  2. "Ten reasons why GE will not feed the World"- written by the Corner House. Ammo to use against the PR companies (3pp) 20 cents

  3. Colonizing the Seed- Genetic Engineering and Techno-Industrial Agriculture. Oldie but goodie put out by FOE-Melbourne. Pretty thick. Good bibliography. $1

  4. Copies of Novartis's financial and annual reports, Novartis in the US brochure ($1)

  5. Miscellaneous group newsletters- free with any order!!!


  1. "Stop the Crop" by Undercurrents. short video about the mass action in Watlington, UK where 600 people trashed a g.e. crop. $4 Order from gentiX action, 1334 42 Avenue, SF, CA 94122

  2. genetiX Snowball- 7 minute video documenting their first action. To order (US format) contact Beth Burrows, The Edmonds Institute, 20319 92nd Avenue West, Edmonds, WA 98020 USA

  3. "Against the Grain: Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of your Food": The Video. Marc Lappe and Brit Baily. To Order contact The Video Project, 200 Estates Drive, Ben Lomond, CA 95505, 1-800-4-PLANET Phone: 408-336-0160 Fax 408-336-2168

  4. "The Pies the Limit"-excellent video about the Biotic Baking Brigade and their delicious mischief. Video of Bob Shapiro (Pres.-Monsanto) getting pied as well as great interviews and action shots. A must-see! $15 Activist price (More for organizations-contact WM for details). Contact Whispered Media, POB 40130, SF, CA 94140, 415-789-8484.

  5. "Food For Thought" --by Katherine Knight and Ed Schehl with Raindancer films and video. 28 min. 30sec. POB 2794 Santa Cruz, CA 95063 (831) 429-2201

Green Homes For Sale:
Green Building Pros:

Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign, for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
500 Wilbrod Street Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
tel. 613-565-8517 fax. 613-565-1596 email:

Our website, contains more information on genetic engineering as well as previous genetic engineering news items. Subscription fee to genetic engineering news is $35 (USD for those outside Canada) for 12 months, payable to "BanGEF" and mailed to the above address. Or see website for details.