8 December 99

Table of Contents

Edingurgh Council opens GM-detector lab
Church bans GM crop trials on its land
A dangerous proposal to undermine Biosafety for the WTO
US GM crop acreage not justified by its agronomic performance
GM Fish: Extinction point
"Why FDA Policy on Genetically Engineered Food Violates Sound Science & U.S. Law"
Oxford Union Debate
Food Experts Test for GM contamination
Brazil State Pays Farmers to Rip out GM Soybeans
Gene Therapy URLs: The Miraculous Medical Revolution or a Broken Promise?
EPA mulls stricter testing for transgenic crops
USA: New genes meet a wary market
Reaction to GM food: Fiber Diet/Puritan's Pride
Swiss, British-Swedish firms merge huge seed operations
EU biotech concession causes storm
London Times: GM crop toxin is leaking into the soil
GM dangers, and GM enzyme list.

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Date: Sun, 5 Dec 1999 22:25:25 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-5

Edingurgh Council opens GM-detector lab

BBC News, Wednesday, 1 December, 1999,

The lab is the first of its kind in Scotland

Edinburgh Council has become the first Scottish local authority to open a laboratory dedicated to testing for genetically-modified food.

Scientists will check on products from the capital's cafes, shops and restaurants to see if they are complying with new rules that say foodstuffs containing GM products must be labelled.

The hope is that the £20,000 unit will pay for itself by testing for private companies and other Scottish councils.

Taking a hard-line

The outlets found to be selling unmarked GM products could face a fine of up to £5,000.

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Date: Sun, 5 Dec 1999 22:25:25 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-5

Church bans GM crop trials on its land

By Jonathan Petre, UK Daily Telegraph, Sunday 5 December 1999

GOVERNMENT trials of genetically modified crops on land owned by the Church of England have been vetoed by a top-level Church committee.

The decision, which comes amid continuing controversy over the safety and morality of GM testing, will be a blow to ministers, who had hoped to lease some of the Church's 123,000 acres. The Central Science Laboratory, the main research arm of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, applied for permission to use the land at a meeting with Church Commissioners earlier this year. But The Telegraph has learned that the Church's influential Ethical Investment Working Group decided last week that the request should be turned down.

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Date: Sun, 5 Dec 1999 22:25:25 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-5

A dangerous proposal to undermine Biosafety for the WTO

SEATTLE/TORONTO, December 2 /CNW/ via NewsEdge Corporation

A dangerous Canadian proposal to give the WTO more power over trade in genetically modified food gained momentum yesterday, but faced opposition and direct action in France and Mexico. Canada put forth this misguided proposal at the WTO to undermine the Biosafety The Biosafety Protocol's mandate gives primary consideration to the environment, whereas the WTO's priority is increasing trade. The WTO should not have the power to force feed people untested genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The Biosafety protocol is the only place that can address the health and environmental concerns of consumers. Just as Canadians are showing concern over GMOs, the WTO is taking away , said Khoo.

Canada proposed to establish a Working Group on Biotechnology at the WTO with the support of the USA and Japan. Yesterday EU negotiators said they agreed with working group idea. However, five EU countries (UK, France, Belgium, Italy and Denmark) also released a statement yesterday saying that would be undermined by the establishment of a WTO

For further information: Michael Khoo, Greenpeace: 416-597-8408, cell: 416-569-8408; Mika Railo, Greenpeace international: 011-31-20-5249-548; French interviews & information contact: Johanne Fillion: 514-933-0021x3003; Nadine Bachand: 514-933-0021x3010/

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Date: Sun, 5 Dec 1999 22:25:25 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-5

Thanks to "NLP Wessex" for posting the following comments re

US GM crop acreage not justified by its agronomic performance

Date: Sat, 4 Dec 1999

There has been a huge rush to grow transgenic (GM) varieties in the US. But is this rush based on rational and informed economic decision making by US farmers? Some US agronomists are not happy that it is, as these comments from Dr Will McCarty, University of Missippi Extension Service Cotton specialist, demonstrate (October 5, 1999 Agronomy Notes):

"Before you plant transgenic varieties, be sure you need the value-added trait. Also evaluate the yields of varieties with the transgenic trait you desire, and study the risk and benefit ratio, if any. In other words, if you feel you need to plant Bt and the variety does not or has not yielded well for you or in your area, consider the risk of not using it and the potential cost of additional insect control versus potential yield loss to planting it. The same can be said for a transgenic variety for herbicide tolerance. Before you pay extra for the convenience of using a particular herbicide over-the-top, be sure the variety fits your farm and will yield well. Also, consider if you really need that particular program. ......

Plant the bulk of your acreage in proven performers and try limited acreage of new varieties. Also, transgenic varieties may not perform as well as did their parents. Just because you have had good experience with a particular variety does not mean you will have the same results with a transgenic version. Variety selection is critical."

After several years and millions of acres of experience with transgenic crops in the US these comments are particularly interesting as GM Bt cotton in particular is claimed by its proponents to be highly advantageous to farmers.

There is growing evidence of differences of opinion between US agronomists as to the effective agronomic performance of GM crops . If these experts can't agree amongst themselves then it is clear that the claimed benefits for this technology are not definitive and have been grossly exaggerated by the biotechnology industry and its supporters.

Given the risks to human health and the environment posed by this technology (see ) what can be the justification for its introduction if the benefits are non-existent, or marginal at best?

The following additional advice to Mississippi growers by Dr McCarty's soya bean specialist colleague , Dr Alan Blaine, is a current reflection on how this situation is continuing (Agronomy Notes November 5, 1999):

"Avoid getting caught up in selecting varieties because they are new. I am not discouraging you from trying new varieties, just reminding you to plant the bulk of your acreage in proven performers; don't experiment on a large scale. If a new variety is that promising, it will be around next year and furthermore, there will not be enough seed available the first year to meet everyone's needs.

The vast majority of the problems soybean growers have encountered over the last couple of years have been on relatively new varieties. Instead of taking 6 to 8 generations for a variety to reach the market, we are seeing varieties blown up and put on the market in probably 3 to 4 generations. It is this trend that has caused many of you to experience poor performance from many new varieties.

Steer away from planting a variety just because someone tells you how good it is. Prove it to yourself and this should be done with no less than 2 years of yield test data. Variations in growing conditions cause varietal differences to be expressed, and 1999 really exposed some potential weakness in several varieties."

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Date: Sun, 5 Dec 1999 22:25:25 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-5

GM Fish: Extinction point

New Scientist 4 Nov 99

It only takes one fish with the Trojan gene to invade a population and wipe it out

A SINGLE genetically modified fish could turn Darwinian evolution upside down and wipe out local populations of the species if released into the wild, biologists warn. They add that other organisms could face the same risk from transgenic relatives.

William Muir and Richard Howard of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, made the discovery while modelling ecological risks associated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

They have dubbed their idea the "Trojan gene" hypothesis. "This resembles the Trojan horse," says Muir. "It gets into the population looking like something good and it ends up destroying the population.".

The researchers studied fish carrying the human growth hormone gene hGH, which increases growth rate and final size. Biologists in the US and Britain are experimenting with salmon engineered in a similar way, although no one has yet begun commercial production.

Muir and Howard included hGH in embryos of a fish called the Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes), a common aquarium fish that is widely used in research. They found that modified individuals became sexually mature faster than normal fish and produced more eggs.

Other experiments using non-modified fish also showed that larger males attracted four times as many mates as their smaller rivals. This effect is also known in salmon. Muir predicts that bigger, engineered fish would enjoy the same advantages. So the hGH gene would quickly spread through a fish population.

But Muir and Howard also found that only two-thirds of engineered medaka survived to reproductive age compared with wild medakas. So the spread of the growth hormone gene could make populations dwindle and eventually become extinct

** 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, 6 Dec 1999 16:30:33 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-6

Alliance For Bio-integrity

Dedicated to Preserving the Safety of Our Food, the Health of Our Environment, and the Harmony of Our Relationship with Nature P.O. Box 110, Iowa City, Iowa 52244-0110 Voice: (515) 472-5554; Fax (515) 472-6431 Email:; Web:

"Why FDA Policy on Genetically Engineered Food Violates Sound Science & U.S. Law"

Presentation Of Steven M. Druker, J.D.
Executive Director of the Alliance For Bio-integrity
at the FDA Public Meeting On Genetically Engineered Foods
Nov. 30, 1999, Washington, D.C.
Panel on Scientific, Safety, and Regulatory Issues

A. Introduction
B. FDA Policy is Scientifically Unsound
C. FDA Policy is Illegal
D. Genetically Engineered Food Has Caused Death and Disability
E. It Is Time For the FDA to Act Responsibly

A. Introduction

I am very pleased to be here, and I commend you, Commissioner Henney, for holding these meetings. I am also somewhat surprised to be here, since I am one of the strongest critics of your agency's policy on bioengineered foods and have coordinated a major lawsuit against it--a suit which is pending in U.S. District Court. The fact you have invited me indicates not only that you are interested in hearing from all sides, but suggests that you are also open to making meaningful changes.

B. FDA Policy is Scientifically Unsound

This is encouraging, since current FDA policy is sorely in need of change. While it claims to be science-based, it is seriously out of line with the standards of science – and with the requirements of federal law.

  1. Eminent Scientists Fault the Policy for Ignoring Biological Reality

    Numerous experts both here and abroad have criticized FDA policy as scientifically flawed, and nine of these experts are so concerned about the extent to which they view it as unsound and irresponsible that they have taken the unprecedented step of becoming plaintiffs in the lawsuit my organization is leading to amend the policy and institute mandatory, rigorous safety testing of all genetically engineered foods. These scientist-plaintiffs are eminent, and their concerns deserve attention. They include a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley, a respected molecular biologist at the State University of New York, and the associate director of targeted mutagenics at Northwestern University Medical School. This latter scientist routinely employs bioengineering in the medical field, but is troubled it is being used in food production without adequate safeguards. Also included is Professor Philip Regal, an internationally renowned plant biologist at the University of Minnesota, who has stated in a sworn declaration to the court "... there are scientifically justified concerns about the safety of genetically engineered foods and some of them could be quite dangerous."

    Why are our nine plaintiffs and so many other scientists so concerned about FDA policy? They think the agency is disregarding the well-recognized potential for recombinant DNA techniques to produce unexpected toxins and carcinogens in a different manner and to a different degree than do conventional methods. For one thing, the foreign genetic material invariably disrupts the region of host DNA into which it wedges, and this can adversely alter cellular function. Another source of potential problems is the routine practice of fusing powerful promoters from viruses or pathogenic bacteria to the transferred genes. This is necessary because genes ordinarily do not express well when implanted within a foreign cellular environment. However, besides boosting the foreign genes, these promoters can cause overexpression (or even suppression) of surrounding native genes. Further, these foreign promoters cause the transgenes to act independently of the host organism'ss intricate control mechanisms and to express their products in an essentially unregulated manner. This unregulated flow of foreign substances can upset complex biochemical feedback loops. Moreover, these powerful agents can activate metabolic pathways that are ordinarily inactive.

    Each of the above types of disruption can induce unexpected toxins, carcinogens or allergens – or degrade nutritional value in an unpredictable manner.

    Unfortunately, the FDA's official position ignores this heightened potential for unpredictable negative side effects. Rather, the agency focuses almost exclusively on the factors that are known: the transferred genetic material and the substances it is known to produce. In effect, it is evaluating each transgenic substance as if it were an ingredient mixed into a pre-existing food rather than as a factor that can cause unpredictable deleterious changes in the developmental process of a food organism. As one of our plaintiffs, the respected molecular biologist Dr. Liebe Cavalieri has stated, such an approach is "simplistic if not simple minded."

  2. Numerous FDA Scientists Have Warned About the Risks of Bioengineered Food

    What is especially troubling is that the risks the FDA is systematically ignoring are not only recognized by eminent experts outside the agency but by numerous scientists on its own staff. This came to light when the FDA had to give us copies of its files during the course of the lawsuit. Memorandum after memorandum contains warnings about the unique hazards of genetically engineered food. As FDA microbiologist Dr. Louis Pribyl stated: "There is a profound difference between the types of unexpected effects from traditional breeding and genetic engineering ...." He added that several aspects of gene splicing ". . . may be more hazardous . . ."

    Similarly, Dr. E.J. Matthews of the FDA'ss Toxicology Group warned that " . . . genetically modified plants could ... contain unexpected high concentrations of plant toxicants...," and he cautioned that some of these toxicants could be unexpected and could " . . . be uniquely different chemicals that are usually expressed in unrelated plants." The numerous in-house critiques of the agency'ss proposed policy are best summed up by Dr. Linda Kahl, a compliance officer, who protested that the agency was "... trying to fit a square peg into a round hole . . . [by] trying to force an ultimate conclusion that there is no difference between foods modified by genetic engineering and foods modified by traditional breeding practices." She declared: "The processes of genetic engineering and traditional breeding are different, and according to the technical experts in the agency, they lead to different risks."

    In light of these unique risks, FDA scientists advised that genetically engineered foods should undergo special testing. The Division of Food Chemistry and Technology cautioned, "... some undesirable effects such as ... appearance of new, not previously identified toxicants ... may escape breeders's attention unless genetically engineered plants are evaluated specifically for these changes. Such evaluations should be performed on a case-by-case basis, i.e., every transformant should be evaluated before it enters the marketplace." These experts advised the evaluation should include toxicological tests.

    Not only was the agency aware of uncertainties within its own ranks, it also knew there was considerable disagreement about the safety of genetically engineered foods in the scientific community at large. For instance, the FDA Biotechnology Coordinator, Dr. Jim Maryanski, acknowledged in a letter to a Canadian official on Oct. 23, 1991 that there was not a scientific consensus concerning the need for toxicology tests. He also admitted, "I think the question of the potential for some substances to cause allergenic reactions is particularly difficult to predict."

Nonetheless, the FDA not only disregarded the warnings of many of its own scientists about the unique risks of gene-spliced foods, it covered them up and has taken a public position that is quite opposite. It's official policy statement declares: "The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way ...." (Statement of Policy: Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties, May 29, 1992, Federal Register vol. 57, No. 104 at 22991.) In light of the numerous statements from its own scientific experts about the unique differences – and risks – of genetically engineered foods, it's difficult to view this claim as a good faith effort to represent reality. Rather, it appears to be a ploy intended to deceive the public and evade the law. It is unconscionable for the FDA to stoop to such behavior when the safety of our food is at stake.

C. FDA Policy is Illegal

It should be obvious that, besides violating sound science, the FDA policy violates the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. In the food additive amendment to this statute, Congress instituted the precautionary principle as the law of the land when it comes to new substances being added to our food. Congress definitively decreed that no new substance shall be added to our food unless that substance has been demonstrated to be safe through standard scientific testing.

While the FDA agrees that the foreign genetic material, and the substances it produces, that get inserted into an edible plant are in principle food additives, it maintains they are exempt from regulation because they fall under the exception for substances that are "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS). It argues they are sufficiently similar to substances that are GRAS to support an inference that they are likewise safe. However, as already noted, FDA records indicate that implanting transgenic material into the DNA of a food-producing plant is not even generally recognized as safe among the agency'ss own scientists let alone by a consensus in the scientific community.

Second, the law is explicit that any recognition of safety must be based on "scientific procedures," and both the FDA and the courts have heretofore consistently interpreted "scientific procedures" as referring to studies published in peer-reviewed literature. Further, the FDA'ss own regulations emphasize that the tests supporting a general recognition of safety "...require the same quantity and quality of scientific evidence as is required to obtain approval of the substance as a food additive." This means, in the FDA'ss words, that the tests must demonstrate "a reasonable certainty ... that the substance is not harmful under its intended conditions of use." Yet, neither the FDA'ss records nor the scientific literature indicate that such a test exists for even one genetically engineered food.

In fact, the main test referenced in FDA files that attempted to demonstrate the safety of a bioengineered food through standard toxicology tests failed to do so. In his comments on this study, Dr. Robert J. Scheuplein, director of the FDA'ss Office of Special Research Skills, wrote: "... the data fall short of 'sa demonstration of safety's or of a 'demonstration of reasonable certainty of no harm's which is the standard we typically apply to food additives. To do that we would need, in my opinion, a study that resolves the safety question raised by the current data." Yet, the agency approved that product anyway on the grounds it was generally recognized as safe – even though the law requires such recognition be based on precisely the kind of test that had failed to demonstrate safety. That food was Calgene'ss "Flavr Savr" tomato, the first genetically engineered organism the FDA reviewed. Interestingly, FDA officials claim that the Flavr Savr passed muster so well that the rigor of its testing will not have to be repeated for other bioengineered foods.

So, although the "generally recognized as safe" exemption was intended to permit marketing of substances whose safety has already been demonstrated through sound testing, the FDA is using it to circumvent testing and to approve substances based on inferences drawn from less rigorous forms of analysis – inferences that are dubious in the eyes of several of its own as well as many other experts.

D. Genetically Engineered Food Has Caused Death and Disability

In 1988, a Japanese manufacturer, Showa Denko K.K., began marketing a genetically engineered food supplement of the amino acid L-tryptophan in the U.S. In this process, a gene coding for L-Tryptophan was spliced into the DNA of bacteria, and the substance was then extracted. Prior to that time, Showa Denko and other manufacturers had been marketing conventionally produced tryptophan supplements for many years with no ill effects. However, within a few months of entering the market, the genetically engineered supplement caused the deaths of 37 people and the permanent disability of at least 1500 others. (Source: House of Representatives 1991. FDA's Regulation of the Dietary Supplement L-Tryptophan. Human Resources and Intergovernmental Subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations, United States House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.)

It was later shown that the genetically engineered tryptophan contained unusual and highly toxic contaminants. None of the conventionally produced tryptophan previously sold by Showa Denko or concurrently sold by other companies were toxic. Although it was never definitively established that the toxicity resulted from the genetic engineering process, neither has the link been ruled out; and many experts think it is likely that the toxin was an unexpected side effect of the bioengineering procedure. (Id.) It is well-recognized that this procedure can alter cellular activity and generate novel toxins, and the FDA's files contain numerous statements from its own scientists acknowledging this hazard. In the case of the L-Tryptophan, it is probable that the bacterial metabolism was disrupted in such a way that toxins were synthesized. The main reason a definitive answer has not been reached is that all the relevant evidence in Showa Denko'ss laboratory was destroyed before it could be examined.

Further, it is important to note that the toxins in the supplements were at such a low concentration that standard chemical analysis did not detect them and gave the false impression that the bioengineered batches were pure and safe to consume. Toxicological testing via animal feeding studies could have detected the problem.

On July 18, 1991, Douglas L. Archer, the Deputy Director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), was invited to testify before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Human Resources and Intergovernmental Relations regarding the agency's actions in response to the L-Tryptophan tragedy. Dr. Archer stated that the deaths and cripplings "demonstrate the dangers inherent in the various health fraud schemes that are being perpetrated on segments of the American Public." He indicated that the problem is that the medical and health claims being made for supplements such as L-Tryptophan are unsubstantiated and that the risks from their use as drugs can be significant. Dr. Archer's prepared remarks did not once indicate that the toxic batches of L-Tryptophan had been produced through genetic engineering, nor did he once raise the possibility that it was this process rather than the inherent unsafety of L-Tryptophan supplements that was the cause of the illnesses. In fact, in his prepared remarks, he made no mention of genetic engineering. (Id.)

On September 27, 1991, Dr. James Maryanski, Coordinator of FDA's CFSAN Biotechnology Working Group, met with representatives of the Government Accounting Office and was questioned about L-Tryptophan and the potential that genetic engineering was the cause of the recent illness (termed EMS). According to Dr. Maryanski's memo of the meeting: "I said that we have no new information, that we do not yet know the cause of EMS nor can we rule out the engineering of the organism." (emphasis added). (FDA Administrative Record at 22,923.)

On May, 29 1992, the FDA published its policy statement on genetically engineered foods, which presumes there is a reasonable certainty that these foods will not be harmful and therefore does not require they be safety tested. However, as of the date of this summary (October 28, 1999) no one has produced any evidence that rules out the genetic engineering process as the cause of the EMS, and many experts continue to think it is the most probable cause.

To date, the executive branch of the U.S. government continues to ignore the fact that the fatal L-Tryptophan was bioengineered and persists in pretending that no genetically engineered food has been linked with a human health problem. For instance, in September, 1999, David Aaron, U.S. deputy secretary of commerce, declared, "Not a rash, not a sneeze, not a cough, not a watery eye has been developed from this (GM foods), and that's because we have been extremely careful in our process of approving them." (Reported by Reuters, 9-16-99)

The only concrete action the FDA took in response to the spate of bioengineered L-Tryptophan poisonings was to remove all L-Tryptophan supplements from the market. This action is consistent with the agency's claim that genetic engineering is an innocuous process similar to traditional breeding and that the problem stemmed from the risks of health supplements in general.

Thus, even though no conventionally produced L-Tryptophan has been known to cause the illness in question, all such supplements have been banned, while all genetically engineered foods have been cleared for marketing without safety testing, even though there are scientifically justified grounds to suspect the bioengineering process itself was the cause of the L-Tryptophan poisonings.

E. It Is Time For the FDA to Act Responsibly

The FDA says it is now in a listening mode. If it's ears have truly been open, then it's conscience should have been touched. The safety of the world's food supply is at stake. There is more than enough evidence to convince a reasonable man or woman that current FDA policy is unscientific, unwise, irresponsible, and illegal.

Commissioner Henney, I implore you to reconsider the agency's policy and to act as the responsible public servant I am sure that you are.

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Date: Mon, 6 Dec 1999 16:30:33 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-6

Oxford Union Debate

by Norman Baker

**** whole Oxford Union debate transcript and photos now available ****

Norman Baker:
Well, Madam Speaker, ladies and gentleman. There are some rather curious questions to be asked about this whole affair. Here's a conundrum. How is it that we have GM food on our plates, not properly labelled as a matter of fact? Only 90% is not labelled, 10% is labelled.

How is it we have GM crops growing in our country, 717 acres at the last count? How is it we have animal feeds containing GM material and yet we have so many unanswered questions? Why is a monarch butterfly dying from GM pollen? Why has it had this effect on lacewing? Why is Dr Pusztai's studies still subject to more controversy. No one can disprove them. They argue about it but they can't disprove them. We have theseunanswered questions. But we have all the technology there on our plates and in our fields.

We have a host of government studies commissioned by the government, Department of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and so on which will take four years to report. Very crucial studies the effects of GM crops on biodiversity, what could be more crucial than that? But they won't report until 2003 but we've got the crops now. We've got the crops now. And we've got our organic farms next door to some of them. And we've got trials going on.

The isolation distances are 50 or 200 meters. And has anyone told bees that when they get past 200 meters there's a little sign up saying 'this is a no fly zone, you must stop at this particular point'.

These.. how is it that it has got so out of kilter? And the answer is this. And this is a political answer, because I'm a politician.

It's about power. It's about power. In our society, in a free western democracy, in a mixed economy we rely on a balance between those who wish to bring forward new technology, new inventions, new products, which may or may not be in the interests of society as a whole but may be in the interest of shareholders or individual companies on the one side, that's perfectly legitimate.

And we rely on the other side for government, independent scientists to monitor that and look after our interests. That's a balance we have. Or should have. Because that balance doesn't exist.

Where are the independent scientists carrying out the research into this work? Where are they? The science base in this country is a disappearing independent science base. Scientists are working for companies with particular aims and having particular projects to pursue and particular aims to prove. That's where the science base has gone in this country. [Clapping].

And what about the politicians? Well Jeff Rooker, the Minister for Food Safety, when I asked him about this matter he said 'We are not in the driving seat' , we are not in the driving seat, who is in the driving seat if the government's not in the driving seat? I'll tell you who's in the driving seat, it's the ten companies who between them control 85% of the global agrochemical market. That's who's in the driving seat. No-one you voted for, no-one I voted for. No-one has actually asked you what you want. No-one has actually gone to independent scientists and said 'please verify this'.

The people who are actually deciding this are the people who are going to make money, by and large, who are based outside this country. Who are not interested in particular in the environment of this country or in the consumers of this country; who are interested in the profits for their company. That's who's driving it and that's what we have to bear in mind when we decide whether or not it's a good idea that this is all happening.

Now, what are the tactics of these companies? Let me tell you what they are. Vertical integration of the food chain. That's the first one. They want to make sure that the food chain from top to bottom is controlled by them, so you can't escape from it. That's called a monopoly in simple terms. That's what they want over our food chain. From the minute the seed is produced to when the farmers in developing countries buy the seed again the following year, because the companies have introduced a terminator gene to make sure it can't seed naturally. It's about, how else do they get this power?

It's about increased dependence upon their products. Round-up Ready, which is a so called 'wonderful' pesticide, the patent for that's running out in the year 2000, it's running out. So how do they manage to get round that, the end of the patent? Wonderful, they produce a crop which requires Round-up Ready to be used on it. So they extend the patent effectively and build a dependence upon their pesticide as a consequence. And they produce these terminator genes, these 'suicide seeds' for developing countries so that they've got no choice as to what they want to do and they have to come back cup in hand to the companies each year. And they eliminate the competition.

They're against - Monsanto certainly has been, I'm not sure about AgrEvo, they've been against labelling. They fought labelling in the United States, they've threatened States, individual states in the United States, if they want to label products because they say this impunes their product. So they've challenged that. They've fought segregation tooth and nail to make sure that we can't choose in Europe what comes across the Channel, what comes across the Atlantic and what we buy. They fought that. They fought, even, the definition of organic in the United States to make sure that organic farmers can't call their produce organic. They want to argue that GM can be organic. Well the organic farmers in my particular patch of the world don't agree with that.

And they've used the World Trade Organisation. They've used the rules of free trade, free trade extremism, which applies in the World Trade Organisation to try and get their way. You know there are two international groups we've signed up to in this country. One's the World Trade Organisation and one's the Convention of Biological Diversity. And, and they are pointing in opposite directions. But the trouble is that the World Trade Organisation has a very very rigorous way of getting it's own way, a very very rigorous system. The Convention of Biological Diversity has nothing of the same sort at all.

So the consequence of that is that free trade rules. It's the lowest common denominator for this, so if we're talking about milk coming, or whatever it is coming to this country, the answer is that the International Community should have rules which protect human health properly, which protect the environment properly and protect social issues properly. We don't have that because the World Trade Organisation is at fault and is faulty and that's the way to deal with that particular issue not go for the lowest common denominator, imports, as might have been suggested by a previous speaker.

And the most cynical of all, these companies have been seeking to buy up literally, or metaphorically, key opinion formers wherever they happen to be. Not you and me, they don't bother with people like us, but they bother with the key opinion formers, the Prime Minister, the President of the United States and so on. And they've embarked upon a revolving door policy of the utmost cynicism. Let me just tell you that Marcia Hale, the former advisor to the United States President, is now the director of the international government affairs for the Monsanto corporation. Michael Kantner, the former Secretary for the US Department of Commerce, is now a member of the Monsanto corporation board. Josh King, the former Director of Production for White House Events, is now the Director of Global Communications for the Monsanto corporation.

Margaret Miller, the former chemical laboratory supervisor for Monsanto, is now the Deputy Director of the new Animal Drug Evaluation Office in the US food and drugs administration. And it goes on and it goes on. This is how these influences work..[clapping]..and the tactic, perhaps, deployed by Monsanto, as we've heard tonight, is to avoid debates where they don't like the question which is being asked. And the quote, which is in the newspaper, I hope it's accurate before I libel somebody, from Dr Harry Swan, I think his name is, the Monsanto Press Officer, and the quote I've seen in the newspaper is this, 'If we were to lose a debate on GM animal feed at the Oxford Union and this were to be reported back in the US and seen by our customers there, it could be very damaging'. Well, there you are, that's the power of the Oxford Union [clapping].

So, we've a heard a few arguments thrown out in favour of GM technology, and there are some arguments in favour of GM technology, it's been quite useful in the medical field, I don't want deny that there are positive benefits and all of this on this side tonight have said that. But do they outweigh the genuine concerns, the fact that the biotech companies have grasped hold of the democratic process and used it for their own ends, do they outweigh that? Let me just deal with one of those particular, well, let me just deal with two of them very quickly.

The pesticide use which was raised by a member from the floor. The government said it doesn't know what the effect on pesticide use will be from pesticide resistant crops, it doesn't know in this particular environment in this country. So it doesn't follow that what happens in America will happen here. But the most sensitive brought forward tonight, onion in hand, is that this will feed the world. It is naive in the extreme to believe that increased production will eradicate the starvation in the world. We've got, we've got surplus..[clapping].. we've got a surplus of food in this world. We've got a glut of food in this world building up mountains and lakes wherever you want to find them, and we've got people starving all over this world. This is not a problem of technology, this is a problem of distribution and equity. [clapping] And Christian Aid, only last month, said the introduction of genetically modified crops at the worlds poorest countries could lead to famine instead of feeding more than 800 million hungry people world wide Could lead to famine, that's what they say. It says, 'GM crops are creating classic preconditions for hunger and famine. A food supply based on too few varieties of patented crops are the worst option for food security, more dependence and marginalisation loom for the poorest'. That's Christian Aid. That's what they say.

So where's this great solution for the Third World? It's not there [clapping]. And we've had, we've had more that 24 leading African agriculturists and environmental scientists representing their countries at the UN have issued a statement to counter the arguments put forward by the biotech companies. These say that they are using the poor to emotionally blackmail sceptical Europeans by making claims that are blatantly untrue and unproven, and I quote, 'We do not believe that such companies or gene technologies will help our farmers to produce the food that is needed in the 21st century.

On the contrary, we think it will destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and the sustainable agricultural systems that our farmers have developed for millennia and that will thus undermine our capacity to feed ourselves'. That's what those countries say. Who is it, how can it be that you have companies, people sitting in boardrooms in Seattle and everywhere else, who can suddenly tell these places in Africa what's good for them. That's what the Africans themselves say [gesturing towards the paper form which he has just read the previous quote]. They don't want it [clapping]. Jeff Rooker - I said to you, says 'We are not in the driving seat'. He also said, by the way, that GM foods are unnecessary, which makes you wonder why he's not in the driving seat. Michael Meacher has said to me this year in committee that this whole process has been driven by forces outside government. They admit the democratic deficit. There's no liability issues sorted out. What happens if something goes wrong? Who's going to pick up the tab? Is it the farmer? Is it the people who eat the food? Is it going to be the producers? We don't know that. It's not sorted out. We've gone on so far down the track because these companies have bull dozed their way down the track.

And I say to you tonight, now is the time to stand up for democracy as much as anything else. Now is the time to stand up against these companies and say, 'no more'. We want some independent scientists. We want to have our say. We want a proper debate. We don't want to be bulldozed. I issue to support the motion.

** 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: Sat, 11 Dec 1999 07:06:05 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-8

Food Experts Test for GM contamination

Insight December 1999, Derbyshire (UK).

Food used by the County Council is being tested to ensure that it does not contain genetically modified ingredients.

Twenty products from suppliers containing soya or maize- ranging from sausages to bread rolls and includingprimary schools' Christmas menus- are being analysed by the Council's scientists using specialist equipment.

The Council provides meals to schools, social services, cafes in Libraries, and it's own employees, and has written to all suppliers to ask if any of their products contain GM ingredients.

Most companies have assured the Council that their products are GM free, and the testing of samples is being carried out to verify that that is correct.

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Date: Sat, 11 Dec 1999 07:06:05 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-8

Brazil State Pays Farmers to Rip out GM Soybeans

by Phil Stewart, December 7, 1999 Reuters

Rio Grande do Sul pays farmeres to rip out GMOs

SAO PAULO – Rio Grande do Sul state's agriculture secretary, Jose Hermeto Hoffmann, was cited as saying that the southernmost state of Brazil will launch what may be the world's first-ever crop substitution programme aimed at weeding out genetically modified (GM) crops, and that by treating GM soybeans like drug plants, the state will offer farmers a total of 10 million reais (US$5.37 million) in special low-interest loans if they rip out the lab-enhanced soy – illegal throughout Brazil – and replant normal varieties, adding, "What we are telling them it is better to lose seedlings than lose their entire crop."

Brazil, the world's second-largest soybean producer, is, the story says, the last major competitor to top grower United States who has not followed the North American country down the transgenic trail.

But the ban has not, the story adds, been enough to discourage many farmers, especially in Rio Grande do Sul, where growers itching to save money on costly weed killers have fuelled a thriving black market for the suped-up seeds.

The Brazilian Association of Seed Producers (Abrasem) was cited as estimating that the contraband crop could account for about eight percent of Brazil's upcoming 31.5 million tonne crop and a third of production in Rio Grande do Sul.

Hoffmann, however, estimated that GM planting was far lower, largely due to an aggressive radio and television campaign warning farmers the government will torch illegal crops.

The state has even sponsored a toll-free phone number called "Dial Transgenics" to encourage law-abiding farmers to phone in tip-offs on unusual planting activity.

Hoffmann was quoted as saying, "Sadly, our initial field inspections showed that transgenic soybeans were grown on 20 farms in five municipalities. While that is disappointing, it represents a small fraction of the 700 tests that we have conducted."

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Date: Sat, 11 Dec 1999 07:06:05 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-8

Gene Therapy URLs: The Miraculous Medical Revolution or a Broken Promise?

  1. Gene Therapy Hearing Begins
    Victim's Father Defends Researchers W A S H I N G T O N, Dec. 8

  2. Gene therapy has not proven to be the revolution promised. Scientists have trouble in the areas of delivery, control and rejection. (ABCNEWS)

    By John McKenzie N E W Y O R K, Dec. 8

  3. Gene Therapy Deaths Hidden
    Test Deaths Weren’t Reported to NIH

    The Associated Press W A S H I N G T O N, Nov. 3

  4. Gene therapy death puzzles scientists, regulators - USA

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Date: Sat, 11 Dec 1999 07:06:05 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-8

EPA mulls stricter testing for transgenic crops

By Julie Vorman

WASHINGTON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Seed companies developing genetically modified crops may be required to conduct an array of new tests to detect any harmful effects for mallard ducks, rainbow trout, honeybees, and other wildlife, scientists with the Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday.

An EPA scientific advisory panel is drafting new requirements to ensure that biotech crops are safe for the environment at the same time several international groups, foreign governments and other U.S. agencies are taking a closer look at the controversial plants.

The EPA panel met on Wednesday to consider requiring more test data from seed companies to ensure that genetically altered canola, squash, soybeans, corn and other crops are safe for wildlife, the soil, and water sources. said Dr. Steven Gallon, director of EPA's pesticide science policy.

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Date: Sat, 11 Dec 1999 07:06:05 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN11-8

USA: New genes meet a wary market

With the world - and now America - balking at altered crops, farmers must decide whether to delay the biotech revolution.

Laurent Belsie, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

American farmers know uncertainty. Weather shrivels their crops. Surpluses squeeze their margins. But at least in the good old days - circa 1998 - there was one thing they could count on. If they harvested a crop, they could always sell it at some price.

No longer.

BEAN COUNT: Dale Logue (r.) and JasonBenson sweep soybeans out of a truck in Bement, Ill.

The foodstuffs will be placed in an elevator that separates genetically modified crops.


In the brave new world of genetically modified agriculture, farmers worry nobody will buy their newfangled crops. That's because safety concerns, already prevalent in Europe, have crossed the Atlantic and created a backlash that could end - or at least delay - the biotechnology revolution that promised to transform American agriculture.



The largest rally against genetically engineered (GE) foods in the U.S. to date!

Monday, December 13, 1999 at 12 noon, Oakland Federal Building, , 1301 Clay Street, Oakland, California. To get involved call Simon Harris at 415-981-6205 x 324 or by email at

** 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: 6 Dec 1999 01:17:07 -0600
From: (Judy Kew)
From: Betty Martini

Reaction to GM food: Fiber Diet/Puritan's Pride

I keep getting reports of people reacting to GM foods, especially if their system is already compromised by other chemicals, like in MCS or aspartame. See below.


Date: Tue, 30 Nov 1999 14:38:04 EST
Subject: Fiber Diet/Puritan's Pride from E.M.B.

Well, I called them and asked WHAT proteins are in the Fiber Diet. Whey &Soy.

Hmmmm. I then asked IF these were Biogenetically engineered. Tami/Terri said 'No.'

I merely RE-ASKED the question, and was told 'Yes'. I restated her answer, and said 'So, the whey and soy ARE bio-genetically engineered, and she said 'Yes'.

Since the poison, anything that's bio-genetically ENGINEERED, make ALL of my symptoms return!!! It happened with Soy Dream, too! PLEASE, put them on the BAD list where they belong.

Thanks! Mission Possible

Green Homes For Sale:
Green Building Pros:

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Date: 3 Dec 1999 04:06:41 -0600

Swiss, British-Swedish firms merge huge seed operations

GENEVA - AP World News via NewsEdge Corporation

In a move that could tempt rivals to follow suit, Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG and British-Swedish rival AstraZeneca PLC Thursday announced the spinoff and merger of their agricultural units.

Analysts have been forecasting mergers in the dlrs 30 billion-a-year agrochemical industry for weeks as controversy over genetically modified food heated up worldwide and prices stagnated.

Denise Anderson, an analyst at Bank Sarasin in Zurich, said the Novartis-AstraZeneca deal might help start a chain-reaction. Anderson said.

U.S. firms Monsanto and American Home Products Corp. are among those toying with divestments, analysts said.

Novartis said the new firm, to be called Syngenta and based in Basel, Switzerland, will be the world's leading manufacturer in crop protection and No. 3 in seeds, with combined sales of dlrs 7.9 billion based on last year's results.

The merger will involve the loss of some 3,000 jobs worldwide, or one-eighth of the two units' workforce of 23,500.

Thursday's deal will leave the parent companies with slimmer, more focussed pharmaceutical operations after divesting their cyclical agriculture businesses. There is really no logical reason for the two to be linked. They had no synergies in marketing or research and Anderson said, adding that the spinoff was for Novartis. said Claude Zehnter at Zurich Cantonal Bank.

The deal will also free the parent groups of controversy over genetically engineered foods, which are increasingly disputed in Europe and Asia. Some American farmers have reportedly been hestitating to buy seeds produced by biotechnology for fear of export difficulties.

AstraZeneca introduced the first genetically modified product in Europe, a tomato, in 1996.

Novartis said Syngenta, with research facilities in Europe will have a strong innovation

But some were less sure about its prospects. We're not so convinced by this whole deal _ we think it's said an analyst at Bank Salomon Oppenheim Jr. and Cie in Zurich, who declined to be named.

AstraZeneca chief executive Tom McKillop said Syngenta would be in a good position to benefit from a recovery in the agricultural sector. We don't anticipate a fast recovery, but the business will he said.

Novartis will own 61 percent of Syngenta and AstraZeneca the remaining 39 percent. The companies gave no estimate of its potential market capitalization.

Novartis Agribusiness head Heinz Imhof will become chairman of Syngenta. The chief executive will be Michael Pragnell, who currently holds that post at Zeneca Agrochemicals.

Subject to approvals from shareholders and regulatory agencies, the companies expect to complete the merger and spin-off in the second half of 2000.

The merger should create pretax savings over three years of around dlrs 525 million annually, Novartis said. The two companies said a merger was the best option because it would allow them to cut duplicate administrative, marketing and manufacturing costs.

AstraZeneca's share price dropped throughout the day Thursday, closing at 27.27 pounds (dlrs 43.63) on the London exchange compared with 28.45 pounds (dlrs 45.52) the day before.

In Zurich, Novartis stock closed at 2,520 francs (dlrs 1,595), up 20 francs (dlrs 12.70) or 1 percent.

Both companies said they weren't looking for merger partners for the remainders of their operations and that there was no need for the Swiss company to join forces with rival Basel-based pharmaceutical giant Roche.

Novartis chief financial officer Raymund Breu said the spin-off will allow the group to expand in the U.S. market, of prime importance to the company. Novartis has about 20 billion francs (dlrs 12.6 billion) to fund an acquisition, he said. ^(dj-gm-agh)

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Date: 3 Dec 1999 04:16:43 -0600

EU biotech concession causes storm

SEATTLE, Reuters [WN] via NewsEdge Corporation :

FOCUS-EU biotech concession causes storm (Updates with Commission, Greenpeace statements)

European Union governments rapped the European Commission on Wednesday for making a surprise concession to the United States on biotechnology in world trade talks, European diplomats said.

The Commission, the executive branch that negotiates for the 15-member bloc, circulated a document at the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting here saying it could agree to set up a working group to discuss biotech issues.

Environmental groups promptly accused the EC of caving in to Washington by agreeing to treat the controversial issue, which covers genetically modified crops, as a trade matter rather than an environmental or health problem in a new round of trade talks the WTO hopes to launch this week in Seattle.

"(EU Farm Commissioner Franz) Fischler is inviting the fox into the chicken coop. He will have a lot of explaining to the millions of citizens across Europe and the rest of the world who demand the right to choose not to swallow genetically modified food," environmental group Greenpeace said in a statement.

Environment ministers of France, Denmark, Belgium and Britain said they opposed the idea.

It was the first major rift between EU member states and the Commission in the WTO talks and reflected the sensitivity of the European public to food safety issues.

At a meeting on Wednesday, all 15 EU trade ministers took European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy to task for negotiating beyond his mandate.

"There was quasi unanimous criticism of the concession made to the United States in the biotechnology field," a diplomat told Reuters.

"You didn't just shoot yourself in the foot. You machine gunned yourself in the foot," one trade minister told Lamy, according to the diplomat who attended the meeting.

Lamy told the EU ministers that negotiations at the four-day meeting were just getting off the ground and asked them to hold off judgment until the end of the week, the diplomat said.

The split came as the 135-nation WTO meetings got down to horse-trading over the agenda for the so-called Millennium Round of trade liberalization talks.


Trying to calm the storm, the European Commission issued a statement late Wednesday saying its priority remained to complete quickly the negotiation of a Biosafety Protocol to the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity.

It attached several conditions to allowing work on biotechnology to go forward in the WTO, saying the work should be limited to fact-finding and that the United States and other countries must commit themselves to work hard for an early conclusion to the biosafety talks.

Environmental activists have vilified the U.S. and Canadian proposal to create a working group on biotechnology in the WTO, saying it would likely subordinate negotiations on the Biosafety Protocol.

"The WTO has neither the mandate, the competence nor the public trust to work on this controversial issue," said Charles Arden-Clarke, World Wide Fund for Nature spokesman on trade.

Friends of the Earth said bringing the issue under the WTO could allow the United States, the main exporter of genetically modified crops, or GMOs, to press countries to open their market to biotech products.

Food experts say higher yield GMOs are needed to feed the world's increasing population. But critics contend genetically modified seeds could affect other crops species and pose unknown health hazards. REUTERS

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Date: 3 Dec 1999 05:28:57 -0600
From: Jonathan

London Times: GM crop toxin is leaking into the soil

forwarded: originated nlpwessex:

The report below from today's London Times (2 December 1999) on research findings relating to GM Bt corn published in the scientific journal 'Nature' is potentially extremely important. It is worth noting the following:

  1. These types of possible effect have been highlighted by ourselves and others for some time now. They are not surprising.

  2. It is pathetic that the biotechnology industry has not anticipated such effects prior to environmental release, let alone taken the trouble to test for such effects. This kind of potential problem is entirely foreseeable.

  3. If the biotechnology industry and its regulators do not have the intellectual and intuitive capacity to anticipate the obvious, then to what degree can we expect them to deal with more complex issues affecting the environment and health arising from the release of GMOs into the environment?

  4. It is absolutely clear that GM releases are being made into the environment (both commercial crops and trials) before even basic scientific research has been completed under contained laboratory conditions. This is a situation which is tantamount to gross professional and political negligence.

    There is hardly anything about the introduction of GM crops into the environment that can be described as appropriately scientific. It is an almost entirely 'trial and error' process driven by a mixture of commercial and political short-term considerations combined with a lethal measure of self-deluding wishful-thinking by the scientific community (see ).

    In a separate Reuters report Dr Guenther Stotzky, the principal author of this latest research, called for more studies to determine the impact of the Bt toxin's build-up in the soil on insects and other organisms stating: "Those studies need to be done. They should have been done a long time ago

  5. Constant problems arising with GM crops and products are continuing to demonstrate the inability of the biotechnology industry and its minders to see the 'big picture'.

    In this particular case the GM Bt is in a different form to its naturally occurring counterpart. It has already been found in published literature [*] to be considerably more persistent in the soil than its natural form, and may also be behind unconfirmed reports in the US that farms growing Bt varieties are suffering declining earthworm populations - who has bothered to study this??

  6. Healthy soil biology sits at the very heart of sustainable agriculture. This type of development represents a potentially profound undermining of global agricultural resources.

  7. If the 'precautionary principle' is to apply then all Bt crops must now be withdrawn from commercial production as well as from any trials in uncontained conditions.

"When the rotting corn hits the fan, it will make a tremendous mess, with the debris lying equally on the tables of the great leaders of the world as well as on the plates of consumers." Steve Sprinkel, 1999.


[*] See: J. Koskella and G. Stotzky. "Microbial Utilization of Free and Clay-Bound Insecticidal Toxins from Bt and Their Retention of Insecticidal Activity after Incubation with Microbes," Applied and Env. Microbiology, Sept. 1997, p. 3561-3568.

H. Tapp and G. Stotzky, "Persistence of the Insecticidal Toxin from Bt subsp. Kurstaki in Soil," Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Vol. 30, No. 4, p. 471-476., 1998.

GM crop toxin is leaking into the soil

By Nick Nuttall Environment Correspondent
The Times Thursday December 2 1999

SOME genetically modified crops are leaking powerful tox- ins from their roots into the soil, scientists have found.

Researchers described the findings as "surprising and un- expected", raising fresh fears about the environmental im- pact of such crops.

Companies have modified plants to produce poisons or toxins to combat the pests that eat their stems and leaves. But the discovery that the same plants are also leaking toxins into the soil has not, until now, been considered an issue.

It will raise fears among some scientists, regulators and environmental groups that beneficial soil organisms might be killed and that in- sects living in the soil might be- come resistant to the poisons.

The findings, published to- day in Nature, have been re- leased by a team at the Univer- sity of New York that has been studying the roots of GM maize.

Several crops, from maize, to corn and potatoes, have been genetically modified to kill insect pests using a gene derived from a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). In the United States 15 million acres of corn modified with the BT gene were planted in 1998 or just under 20 per

cent of the total crop. GM maize has also been planted in Europe although the acreage is far smaller.

Concerns about the impact of such crops on the environ- ment were triggered earlier in the year when it was found that monarch butterflies had died after feeding on milk- weed dusted with pollen from GM corn.

Other research found that lacewings that had fed on corn borers reared on BT corn had also died, raising concerns that such crops are harming more than just pests.

Professor Guenther Stozky, of New York University's labo- ratory of microbial ecology, who has led the research, said yesterday that the monarch re- search showed that the toxin was released from the pollen.

"Now we have found it is also continuously released from the roots into the soil. The fact that the toxin is re- leased from the roots was unex- pected," he said.

Professor Stozky said that the BT toxin was a large pro- tein molecule which they had considered too large to cross the root membrane.

During the research, the team grew GM seedlings in the laboratory for 25 days. Each plant produced on aver-

age 105 microgrammes of pro- tein and this was tested against larvae of the tobacco hornworm. Up to 95 per cent of the larvae died after five days with 50 per cent killed at a dose of just 5.2 micro- grammes of protein.

Because the roots are con- stantly leaking the toxin, there is also the risk that pests in the soil might rapidly become im- mune to the poison triggering new, resistant, strains.

Biotechnology companies are likely to claim that, be- cause the bacterium from which the BT gene is taken, is found in the soil the toxin is naturally part of the environ- ment underground. But Profes- sor Stozky challenged such as- sertions, claiming that the bac- terium was not prevalent in the soil.

Dr Doug Parr, of Green- peace said that the findings underscored the "ability of GM crops to wrong-foot their creators and produce unexpect- ed and unwanted effects".

Dr Penny Hirsch, a soil ex- pert at lACR-Rothamsted in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, said yesterday that the find- ings were "interesting" but added that field tests were needed to see whether the ef- fects in the laboratory were happening in the real world.

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Date: 3 Dec 1999 06:06:08 -0600

GM dangers, and GM enzyme list.


Ron Baxter

A precautionary warning
Unexpected outcomes.
GM-DERIVED ENZYMES -are we still swallowing them?

A precautionary warning

"In a post-BSE era, it should be logical to think twice about using a technology that blatantly violates well established natural boundaries." - Dr Michael Antoniou, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Pathology, Guy's Hospital, London.UK.

Unexpected outcomes.

"The generation of genetically engineered plants and animals involves the random integration of artificial combinations of genetic material from unrelated species into the DNA of the host organism. This procedure results in disruption of the genetic blueprint of the organism with totally unpredictable consequences. The unexpected production of toxic substances has now been observed in genetically engineered bacteria, yeast, plants, and animals with the problem remaining undetected until a major health hazard has arisen.

Moreover, genetically engineered food or enzymatic food processing agents may produce an immediate effect or it could take years for full toxicity to come to light."

- Dr Michael Antoniou,
Senior Lecturer in Molecular Pathology at
Guy's Hospital, London. UK.


Note the reference to "enzymatic food processing agents" in the above quote. Virtually every food and drink product sold in the UK, USA etc. (with the exception of "certified" organic, and wholefood products) is produced using GM-derived enzymes. A sample list follows...........

GM-DERIVED ENZYMES -are we still swallowing them?

The following GM enzymes are used in the production of processed foods GM enzymes are generally not included on the ingredient list - but the two most common ones sometimes are. .These are chymosin - used in cheese production, and Alpha Amylase - used in bread and some dried yeast products, such as Hovis Dried Yeast (a UK product)

  1. Chymosin used in the production of cheese - including vegetarian cheese (A substitute "microbial" rennet is now available, and is currently being used by a few companies such as Linda MCartney Foods in the UK. Organic cheese is probably OK, but if in doubt, ask the manufacturer if chymosin is used ).
  2. Novamyl(TM) used in baked goods to help preserve freshness
  3. Alpha amylase used in the production of bread, white sugar, maltodextrins and nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners (corn syrup)
  4. Aspartic (proteinase enzyme from R. miehei) used in the production of cheese
  5. Pullulanase used in the production of high fructose corn syrup If you want to absolutely avoid genetically engineered enzymes you will have two choices: avoid foods in the following categories, or call the food manufacturers directly and ask them if their enzymes are produced using genetic modification. They will probably have no idea. Ask them to check and call them back again. Let us know if you get written confirmation.
  6. Beers, wines and fruit juices (Enzymes used: Cereflo, Ceremix, Neutrase, Ultraflo, Termamyl, Fungamyl, AMG, Promozyme, Viscozyme, Finizym, Maturex, Pectinex, Pectinex Ultra SP-L, Pectinex BE-3L, Pectinex AR, Ultrazym, Vinozym, Citrozym, Novoclairzym, Movoferm 12, Glucanex, Bio-Cip Membrane, Peelzym, Olivex/Zietex)
  7. Sugar Enzymes used: Termamyl, Dextranase, Invertase, Alpha Amylase (The UK brand of sugar Silver Spoon is OK, as are organic sugars.)
  8. Oils Enzymes used: Lipozyme IM, Novozym 435, Lecitase, Lipozyme, Novozym 398, Olivex, Zeitex (All oils are suspect, unless "certified" as organic).
  9. Dairy products Enzymes used: Lactozym, Palatase, Alcalase, Pancreatic Trypsin Novo (PTN), Flavourzyme, Catazyme, Chymosin (ALL milk, butter, cream and cheese is likely to be affected, unless labelled "certified" as organic).
  10. Baked goods Enzymes used: Fungamyl, AMG, Pentopan, Novomyl, Glutenase,


In many cases the enzymes named above are brand names. They may appear under other names as well. Enzymes are usually found in minuscule quantities in the final food product. The toxin found in genetically engineered tryptophan was less than 0.1 percent of the total weight of the product, yet it was enough to kill people. The use of enzymes is pervasive in the food industry. Nothing is known about the long-term effects of genetically engineered enzymes. We include this information so you can make an informed choice about whether you want to eat them or not.

Demand food free from GM ingredients, derivatives and GM-derived enzymes

Most of the info on enzymes was copied from the "Mothers for Natural Law" website. (My comments in brackets)


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.