14 December 99

Table of Contents

Tighten bio-food rules, consumers tell U.S. FDA
The Biotech Death of Jesse Gelsinger
Cargill eyeing non-GM soy for European customers
Public Opinion Poll on CBC TV Marketplace
Gene Therapy Firms Resist Publicity
How do you get DNA into a plant? Blow a hole in it
Top Chefs want Labels on Genetically Altered Food
Biotech Food Fight Erupts in America
More URLs (internet links)
Americans are suddenly outraged about biotech food. What took so long?
EU takes tough stand on GMO trade negotiations
Protesters Rally Vs. 'Frankenfoods'
Useful Tips to Avoid GM Foods
Greenpeace Takes Issue with Statements Made
Ca. Mosaic Virus: a reply to a reply from Doug from EPA
3 New Anti-GE Publications from A SEED Europe
Panel Keeps U.S. Judges' Investment Files Secret
Hudson Institute: Who Funds Dennis Avery (Organics Enemy)?
Monsanto Cooking Oil

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Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 17:04:58 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-1

Tighten bio-food rules, consumers tell U.S. FDA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Reuters [BR] via NewsEdge Corporation

U.S. regulators need to step up scrutiny of bioengineered foods and require labels on them to avoid the kind of public backlash that occurred in Europe, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was told Tuesday.

The FDA heard from nearly 100 scientists, farmers, foodmakers, environmentalists and ordinary citizens at a hearing designed to find out what – if any – changes are needed in regulating genetically altered foods.

Outside the federal building where the session took place, about three dozen protesters marched in near-freezing temperatures to demand a halt to any more federal approvals of bioengineered foods until more is known about long-term health and environmental risks.

A few demonstraters were dressed as orange and black monarch butterflies, in a colorful reference to a Cornell University laboratory study that showed corn engineered with a built-in pesticide killed the monarch larvae. Scientists have yet to determine if the same corn grown in fields is as risky.

Other demonstrators urged passersbys to avoid chips, candy, sodas and other foods that may contain soybean oil, corn sweeters or other ingredients from genetically modified crops.

Inside, FDA officials held a panel discussion with critics and supporters of agency regulations.

While several university scientists defended the FDA's regulations as adequate to protect the public, consumer groups said that wasn't good enough. said Carol Tucker Foreman, a food safety expert with the Consumer Federation of Good data and sound science are vital elements of public policy

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Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 17:04:58 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-1

The Biotech Death of Jesse Gelsinger

By Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times, Sunday Magazine, 28 Nov 99

Ever since it became a reality nine years ago, gene therapy has been the bright promise of medicine. Then an experiment went very wrong.

The jagged peak of Mount Wrightson towers 9,450 feet above Tucson, overlooking a deep gorge where the prickly pear cactus that dots the desert floor gives way to a lush forest of ponderosa pine. It is said that this is as close to heaven as you can get in southern Arizona. Jesse Gelsinger loved this place. So it was here, on a clear Sunday afternoon in early November, that Paul Gelsinger laid his 18-year-old son to rest, seven weeks after a gene-therapy experiment cost him his life.

The ceremony was simple and impromptu. Two dozen mourners – Jesse's father; his mother, Pattie; his stepmother, Mickie; and two sisters, a brother, three doctors and a smattering of friends – trudged five miles along a steep trail to reach the rocky outcropping at the top. There, Paul Gelsinger shared stories of his son, who loved motorcycles and professional wrestling and was, to his father's irritation, distinctly lacking in ambition. Jesse was the kind of kid who kept $10.10 in his bank account -- You need $10 to keep it open," Gelsinger explained – but those assembled on the mountaintop agreed that he had a sharp wit and a sensitive heart.

At Gelsinger's request, the hikers had carried Jesse's medicine bottles filled with his ashes, and now they were gathered at the edge of the peak. Steve Raper, the surgeon who gave Jesse what turned out to be a lethal injection of new genes, pulled a small blue book of poetry from his pocket. "Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth," Raper read, reciting a passage from an elegy by Thomas Gray, "a youth to Fortune and Fame unknown./Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth." Then the surgeon, the grieving father and the rest scattered Jesse's ashes into the canyon, where they rose on a gust of wind and fell again in a powerful cloud of fine gray dust. "I will look to you here often, Jess," Paul Gelsinger said sadly.

Jesse Gelsinger was not sick before died. He suffered from ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) deficiency, a rare metabolic disorder, but it was controlled with a low-protein diet and drugs, 32 pills a day. He knew when he signed up for the experiment at the University of Pennsylvania that he would not benefit; the study was to test the safety of a treatment for babies with a fatal form of his disorder. Still, it offered hope, the promise that someday Jesse might be rid of the cumbersome medications and diet so restrictive that half a hot dog was a treat. "What's the worst that can happen to me?" he told a friend shortly before he left for the Penn hospital, in Philadelphia. "I die, and it's for the babies."

As far as government officials know, Jesse's death on Sept. 17 was the first directly related to gene therapy. The official cause, as listed on the death certificate filed by Raper, was adult respiratory distress syndrome: his lungs shut down. The truth is more complicated. Jesse's therapy consisted of an infusion of corrective genes, encased in a dose of weakened cold virus, adenovirus, which functioned as what scientists call a vector.

Vectors are like taxicabs that drive healthy DNA into cells; viruses, whose sole purpose is to get inside cells and infect them, make useful vectors. The Penn researchers had tested their vector, at the same dose Jesse got, in mice, monkeys, baboons and one human patient, and had seen expected, flulike side effects, along with some mild liver inflammation, which disappeared on its own.

When Jesse got the vector, he suffered a chain reaction that the testing had not predicted – jaundice, a blood-clotting disorder, kidney failure, lung failure and brain death: in Raper's words, "multiple-organ-system failure." The doctors are still investigating; their current hypothesis is that the adenovirus triggered an overwhelming inflammatory reaction – in essence, an immune-system revolt. What they do not understand yet is why.

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Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 17:04:58 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-1

Cargill eyeing non-GM soy for European customers

PARIS, Reuters [EB] via NewsEdge Corporation

U.S. commodities giant Cargill said on Tuesday it is studying whether to adopt a system that would segregate genetically modified (GM) soybeans from non-GM organisms for the purpose of supplying European consumers.

** 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: Sun, 12 Dec 1999 21:27:23 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-11

Dear friends,

Thank you for your support throughout 1999, and your concern about genetically engineered foods and their hazards.

If you have not already send in your subscription fee for 2000, it would be appreciated. The fee is $35/12 months. ($35 CDN in Canada, $35 USD elsewhere [US money order for those outside USA]) For those who cannot afford $35, they can send in whatever they can afford. Cheques/checks can be made out to "BanGEF" and sent to BanGEF, 500 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa, ON, K1N 6N2 Canada

Thank you for your support. (If you have already subscribed for 2000, please ignore this notice or just let me know)

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and new year


Public Opinion Poll on CBC TV Marketplace

Tell CBC TV Marketplace how you feel about labelling genetically engineered foods

They are taking a public opinion poll at the website

CBC/TV Marketplace aired a piece on Genetically Engineered food last week - It looked at 'voluntary' labelling - and exposed it for the sham it is!

At the conclusion of the excellent broadcast - CBC asked Canadians to partipate in their labelling survey. At the above website, you can fill out the survey.

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Date: Sun, 12 Dec 1999 21:27:23 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-11

Gene Therapy Firms Resist Publicity

By Rick Weiss, Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 11, 1999; Page A2

"Adverse events are, by definition, trade secrets."

Federal officials overseeing the field of gene therapy searched in vain yesterday for common ground between drug companies that want to keep details of their experiments secret and advocates who favor a more open airing of the field's recently revealed problems.

On the final day of an emotionally exhausting gene therapy conference at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, federal officials wrangled over the difference between "serious" and "severe" side effects, biotechnology company officials pushed for less burdensome regulations, and parents of sick children pleaded for more help from both the regulators and those who hope to profit from gene therapy.

The three-day meeting was prompted by the awkward confluence of two events: the September death of a teenager in a University of Pennsylvania gene therapy experiment, and recent efforts by some gene therapy companies to scale back the amount of information about side-effects they must submit to the NIH.

Researchers and companies testing genetic therapies on people are required by the NIH to release to the public more details of their work than are researchers who test conventional drugs. Those rules were devised to ensure that subtle side-effect trends are noticed more quickly, and to foster public confidence in the novel field that seeks to cure diseases by giving people new genes.

Gene therapy has yet to cure anyone. But as the field has grown from one dominated by academic researchers to one driven by companies with millions of dollars at stake, pressure has built to trim the NIH public disclosure rules ...

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Here is an article from several months ago describing how the gene gun works:

Grass May Be Tough, But It's No Match for a Powerful Shotgun

How do you get DNA into a plant? Blow a hole in it

By Tom Abate, San Francisco Chronicle Monday, March 22, 1999

When plumbers or contractors encounter a tough problem they often reach for a bigger wrench or hammer.

A similar logic apparently prevails in the submicroscopic world of genetically engineered plants. With one difference. When agricultural bioscientists encounter a defiant grass cell, some grab a shotgun.

Seriously. Biotech industry lore credits former Stanford researcher Mike Fromm with showing his colleagues the way to science through superior firepower.

I caught up last week with Fromm, who now heads a private biotech firm in Hayward, for a firsthand account of his shotgun technique.

It seems that in the late 1980s, bioscientists ran into a problem. Genetic engineering involves piercing the walls of target cells and introducing altered DNA into the cells' interior.

Medical researchers working with animal or human cells turned out to have it relatively easy. They found that the walls of animal cells could be pierced by chemical or electric shocks, which opened tiny holes through which altered DNA could ooze into target cells.

But when ag researchers tried to use these same techniques to genetically engineer corn, wheat and other grass cells, they ran into unexpected trouble. At a microscopic scale, the wall of a grass cell is like a concrete Fromm said.

In research conducted between 1987 and 1990, when he worked at Stanford and UC Berkeley, Fromm collaborated with scientists at Cornell University to create a gun designed to crack that bunker.

This bio-shotgun – which had a seven-inch barrel, about a quarter the normal length – fired a plastic shell bearing thousands of microscopic pellets, which had been soaked in genetically altered DNA. He aimed the gun at a petri dish covered by a sheet of bulletproof plastic. In the center of this bulletproof cover he drilled a hole one- eighth inch in diameter. Below, on the surface of the petri dish, he smeared grass cells.

He aimed the gun, like a deadly microscope, at the hole, pulled the trigger, and BANG! The plastic stopped the shell casing, but some of the microscopic pellets sped through the one-eighth-inch hole, pierced the walls of the grass cells below, and delivered their DNA payload to the cells' interior. Success!

Refined versions of the shotgun technique have been used ever since to help genetically engineer commercial grasses.

Fromm, whose discovery led to a seven-year stint with Monsanto Corp., returned to the Bay Area two years ago to found Mendel Biotechnology. Now, he's looking for kinder, gentler ways to genetically engineer crops.

We talked about the controversy surrounding such efforts in the Bay Area, a hotbed of pie-throwing activists out to smear agricultural biotech executives. We didn't reach any conclusions on what promises to be a complex and contentious debate about genetic crops.

But it's interesting that we have someone of Fromm's, shall we say caliber, in the neighborhood, to help state the industry's case.

** 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: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 16:41:45 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-14

Top Chefs want Labels on Genetically Altered Food

CBC (Newsworld), December 13, 1999

MONTREAL – Several prominent chefs from across Canada are demanding that genetically altered foods be clearly identified.

The chefs held a news conference in Montreal to say they would never use such products if they knew they had been modified. The chefs work at such renowned restaurants as Le Toque and Le Passe-Partout. They say they have no way of knowing if the foods they're using have been genetically altered or not. ...

The groups say genetically altered foods are too new to the market to be guaranteed safe. In addition to labelling, they want the government to do more tests on the genetically altered foods to determine if they have any long-term effects on health or the environment.

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Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 16:41:45 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-14

Biotech Food Fight Erupts in America

new issue of PR Watch (Volume 6, Number 4)

Madison, WI: The new issue of PR Watch examines the massive industry and government public relations campaign underway to prevent safety testing and consumer labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods in the United States. PR Watch (Volume 6, Number 4) is available online at

Investigative journalist Karen Charman reveals in PR Watch how the US food industry, reeling from European rejection of genetically engineered foods such as Monsanto's bovine growth hormone (rBGH) and biotech corn and soybeans, wants to prevent the commotion abroad from awakening US consumers already ingesting GE foods. Last summer tens of millions of acres in the US were planted with genetically engineered crops that were unknowingly consumed by most Americans since the US government does not require safety testing or supermarket labeling.

Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 16:41:45 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-14
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More URLs (internet links)

Dr. Charles Benbrook has posted coverage of the FDA biotech hearings, Some of the major press coverage on Ag BioTech InfoNet at

They also posted 8 of the statements delivered thus far, and no doubt will post many more as they receive them. To reach the statements, go to --

People interested in FDA policy may also wish to review the important debate over "substantial equivalence" triggered by the Millstone et al letter in Nature. For the Millstone piece and responses, see --

World Environment News - December 14, 1999 from Planet Ark

Here are today's Reuters 'World Environment News' headlines.

Click on the link below the headline to check out the full story, or go to the Planet Ark news page at

INTERVIEW - Scientists in Italy study GM rice - ITALY

EU takes tough stand on GMO trade negotiations - EU

EU ministers rubber-stamp deal to tighten new GMOs - EU

From: MichaelP


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Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 16:41:45 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-14

Feeding Frenzy

Americans are suddenly outraged about biotech food. What took so long?

by Michael Pollan, New York Times Magazine, Dec 13, 1999

Gazing nervously across the Atlantic at European outrage over genetically modified food, industry and government leaders have been quick to reach for words like "hysteria" and "madness." How else to explain the uprooting of biotech crops in English fields? Or naked protesters in Rome pelting American cabinet secretaries with genetically engineered ("G.E.") soybeans? It's irrational, surely, to reject out of hand such a shiny new technology, especially one that comes with the seal of approval of American regulators (the vaunted Food and Drug Administration, no less).

Stylistically, too, the European protests seem so old. There they go, those Brits, indulging their Luddite fear of the new, actually taking seriously a prince (a prince!) who declares that this technology lacks the sanction of God. And the French! Hopelessly sentimental, urinating in protest on shipments of high-tech seed and nattering on about "culinary dispossession" as if this were 1968. "Europe seems to be gripped right now by a collective madness," Senator Richard Lugar suggested during a visit to Germany last summer. "And we don't want that to spread to the rest of the world."

Since then, of course, the "madness" has spread; witness the events in Seattle. In a global economy, protest moves as easily across borders as products.

In recent months, activists dressed as monarch butterflies have popped up in London, Chicago and Washington (as well as Seattle), reminders of a famous recent study at Cornell that found biotech corn may pose a threat to the beloved insect. A cliche of chaos theory holds that the flutter of a butterfly's wing in, say, Timbuktu, can set off a hurricane half a world away.

So it was with these butterflies in Ithaca, who moved the biotech story from the business pages to the front pages. For most Americans, it came as news that there were already some 20 million acres of biotech corn planted in the United States. You mean we're already eating this stuff? And how come nobody thought of doing these tests 20 million acres ago?

The wonder is that it has taken so long for the political debate about G.E. food to reach our shores. One theory about why Europeans got so hysterical so quickly about G.E. food is that they lack a trusted regulator like the F.D.A. protecting their food supply. Sounds rational enough, until you discover that the F.D.A.'s "regulation" of biotech is voluntary; companies decide for themselves whether to submit a new biotech food to the agency for review. In other words, the agency's oversight of biotech food has been based less on law and science than on faith.

Last year, the Center for Food Safety, a public-interest group, sued them F.D.A., charging that its 1992 rules covering biotech food were illegal because the agency had failed to seek public comment or conduct a thorough scientific review. The agency's response was alarming: since we have no regulations concerning biotech food, they can't be illegal. Just last month, seven years after first approving G.E. food, the F.D.A. held its first public hearings about it.

The industry and its regulators evidently didn't think we needed to be informed that our entire food supply was about to be transformed. After all, Americans are by now so far removed from the farm that we know remarkably little – at least compared with the Europeans – about the processes by which food finds its way to our plates. Food? That comes from the supermarket. So who was going to notice or care if one more high-tech link was quietly added to a food chain already so long and intricate? We are the people who eat Olestra, after all.

Labeling was rejected out of hand – too cumbersome and too risky. For who, given the choice, would reach for the spuds with the biotech label?

Right there, in the produce section, lurks the question that goes to the heart of what it means to be rational or hysterical about biotech food. What if I approach the matter as rationally as possible and decide which vegetables to buy based on a strict "cost-benefit analysis"? First, I'll need a little information – a label (which we may yet get: last month a bill was introduced in Congress calling for the labeling of biotech food). Next, I'll need to know what benefits these novel foods offer. According to the industry that makes them, today's biotech crops (like Round-Up Ready soybeans that resist herbicides, and potatoes and corn that produce their own pesticide) offer plenty of advantages to farmers. They acknowledge, however, that the benefits to consumers are negligible. The food is no cheaper, safer or tastier.

Now add to this calculus what we know about the risks. None to my health have been established, but then, no one's looked very long or hard, either. So: probably safe, but no guarantee. As for risks to the environment, several have already been identified – the threat to butterflies, the prospect of superweeds and superbugs.

The cost-benefit analysis seems clear: I'd have to be crazy to buy this stuff.

The industry realizes that, in its case, an educated consumer is not its best customer, so lately it has adopted a new tack – suggesting my produce-aisle calculus is shortsighted and selfish. That's because the real benefits of genetically engineered food will be reaped in the future by hungry people in the third world. Some day, "golden rice" will nourish the malnourished and bananas will be re-engineered to deliver vaccines.

The industry, in other words, is asking consumers to do something it has yet to do itself: Forget rational self-interest, and act on faith. Maybe Monsanto and the others are sincere. So bring on the golden rice! And what will they say about this epiphany in the aisles of my supermarket or on Wall Street? A word leaps to mind: hysterical.

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Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 16:41:45 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-14

Thanks to jim mc nulty for posting the following:

EU takes tough stand on GMO trade negotiations

BRUSSELS, Reuters [EB] via NewsEdge Corporation Dec 14, 1999

European Union environment ministers called on Monday for the rapid conclusion of a tough and binding global pact to regulate trade in genetically modified commodities.

Ministers approved the EU's negotiating position for talks in Montreal, Canada next month on a long-delayed international Biosafety Protocol under the auspices of the United Nations.

The agreement promises the EU will take a tough line in what is supposed to be the last round of talks, according to a copy of the final text.

"We got very strong backing for a tough negotiating position," said Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen, spokeswoman for EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom.

"Ministers stressed the need for an agreement to be struck now and said this protocol must not be subordinated to World Trade Organisation rules."

A U.N. conference in February in Cartagena, Colombia broke up without agreement after the U.S.-led "Miami Group" of countries – Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Australia and Chile – refused to accept demands for labelling of genetically modified bulk commodities.

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Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 16:41:45 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-14

posted by Jonathan

Protesters Rally Vs. 'Frankenfoods'

By JESSIE SEYFER, The Associated Press, Dec 14, 1999

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Demonstrators rallied Monday to protest a government - food created by altering genes to increase yields or to improve its flavor, shelf life and appearance.

More than 1,000 people rallied at noon in front of Oakland's federal building to make speeches about what they felt was a lack of regulation of genetically modified foods by the Food and Drug Administration.

Inside the building, leading food experts discussed the issue with the FDA. said organic farmer Laura Trent, No scientist has

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Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 16:43:40 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-12How to avoid GE/UK, ...

Here is a posting from UK on how to avoid GE foods

Note the UK residents are being cautioned not to travel to Canada if they wish to avoid GE foods!

Useful Tips to Avoid GM Foods

Source: GM Foods and How to Avoid Them
Updated 10th December, 1999

  1. READ THE PRODUCT LABELS and avoid soya-based ingredients such as soya flour, soya oil, vegetable oil, lecithin and hydrolysed vegetable protein. And avoid maize-based ingredients such as modified starch, cornflour, corn starch, corn oil and polenta. Note: These ingredients are to be avoided simply because there is no way of knowing if they contain GM-soya or GM-maize derivatives (unless of course the product is guaranteed free of "all" GM ingredients and derivatives, or is 'certified' organic).

  2. GET YOUR FOOD FROM A RELIABLE SOURCE: Shop organic. Certified organic bread, milk, butter, fruit & vegetables, baby foods, flour, vegetable oils, chocolate, ice-cream and fruit juices, etc. are popular and prices have fallen: Available from organic suppliers, wholefood shops, Safeway, Tesco and Sainsbury's. Look for the Soil Association symbol, or a label with a UKROFS registration number. Favour organic wholefoods where possible.

  3. CUT DOWN ON PROCESSED FOODS because they are more likely to be affected by genetic modification. For example, many brands of dairy products, cereals, jam, fruit juice, cooking oil, sweeteners, slimming foods, beverages, wine and beer etc. are produced with GM-enzymes. If you have any doubts about a particular product, contact the manufacturer for assurance. Or else buy certified organic foods, or wholefood products which are guaranteed GM-free.

  4. HOME-MADE MEALS, bread, cakes and cheese etc. are obviously healthier and more nutritious than factory-made equivalents.

  5. AVOID "fast food" restaurants and "low budget" products because GM-foods are being introduced into cheaper brands initially. For example: Kwik-Save's No Frills bread and cheese products are affected by GM; Asda's Farm Stores products - such as Farm Stores Baked Beans, Crisps, Chicken Curry, Vegetable Curry, Chilli Con Carne, Mayonnaise, etc., are also affected.

  6. BAKERY PRODUCTS When buying bakery products such as bread, avoid "flour improver" and "flour treatment agent", which may be a mixture of GM-enzymes and additives. (The GM enzymes Alpha Amylase is sometimes listed on bakery product labels and is best avoided).

  7. AVOID margarine. Favour organic butter. For dairy-free diets favour GM-free sunflower spreads etc., which are available from some wholefood shops.

  8. DAIRY PRODUCTS and meat from animals fed GM soya and maize will not be labelled as such - in spite of evidence that modified DNA can cross the gut wall and enter spleen, liver and white blood cells. Favour organic milk, butter, cream and cheese etc.

  9. CHOCOLATE can contain GM-soya lecithin, and "vegetable fat" and "whey" which are affected by GM. So favour organic chocolate. Green & Black's have a policy of using GM-free lecithin and avoiding all GM ingredients. Note: All lecithin is soya lecithin. Its E number is E322.

  10. SHOP WITH CARE because Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) produced from GM-organisms was last year approved for use in the UK. Riboflavin is used in baby foods, breakfast cereals, soft drinks and slimming foods etc.

  11. REGARDING HEALTH FOOD SUPPLEMENTS, vitamins and medicines: check with the manufacturer, as some ingredients may be produced by biotechnology. In the USA, the GM food supplement Tryptophan killed 37 consumers and permanently disabled 1,500 more. Boots the Chemist recently admitted that their pharmaceutical products are affected by GM . All pharmaceuticals must now be under suspicion: contact the manufacturer to inquire about specific products. For the last ten years there have been reports of a GM version of human insulin causing problems in diabetics who happily used animal insulin for years.

  12. IS IT REALLY GM-FREE? When contacting a manufacturer to enquire if a particular product is GM-free, ask them to confirm that the product contains - "no genetically modified ingredients or derivatives, as was not produced using GM-derived enzymes". Ask for written confirmation rather than relying on a verbal assurance.

  13. HONEY. All Canadian honey is now suspect, as traces of oilseed rape DNA have already been detected in several brands. Many brands of honey sold in the UK are a mixture of honeys from various countries, including Canada. So if the label on a jar of honey states: "Imported honey", or: "Product of more than one country", then it is advisable to avoid these, or to contact the manufacturer to enquire as to the country of origin. FAVOUR ORGANIC HONEY as attempts are made to preserve wide margins between hives and GM or agrochemical-sprayed crops.

  14. DRIED FRUIT. Many brands of dried fruit, including raisins, sultanas, currants, dates - and even dried fruit in some breakfast cereals - are coated with oil derived from GM soya. Favour organic brands of dried fruit, or brands that don't list "'vegetable oil" on the label (available from wholefood stores).

  15. WARNING. Avoid all imported foods from America and Canada because these countries are much further down the biotech road than we are. Products to avoid include all fruit and vegetables, ice-cream, milk, milk powder, butter, soy sauce, chocolate, popcorn, chewing gum, health foods, vitamins, and cotton and denim clothing.

  16. WARNING. Holidaying in America or Canada will almost certainly involve consuming GM food on a regular basis (including GM fresh fruit and vegetables). Most hotels, restaurants and theme parks are affected - including Disney theme parks. Favour alternative destinations; go self-catering, and avoid processed and packet foods wherever possible. Most in-flight meals, snacks. sweets and fizzy drinks may be affected by GM. Write to the directors of airline companies, and the large hotel chains; demand food that is free from GM ingredients and derivatives. British Airways need some persuasion to go GM-free. Write to: The Chief Executive, British Airways, Waterside, West Drayton, UB7 OGB. Fax: 0208-759-9597.


"Swapping genes between organisms can produce unknown toxic effects and allergies that are most likely to affect children" - Dr Vyvyan Howard: expert in infant toxico-pathology at Liverpool University Hospital, UK. (Ref: The Guardian: 19/3/98)

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Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 16:43:40 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-12How to avoid GE/UK, ...

Greenpeace Takes Issue with Statements Made

By Michael Khoo of Greenpeace, Ontario Farmer, December 7, 1999

Michael Khoo of Greenpeace, Toronto writes that given the highly charged nature of the genetic engineering (GE) debate, it is important that we stick to the facts and not resort to misinformation and slander. AgCare Chairman Jim Fischer's attack on "private interest groups" (AgCare, Greenpeace, October 5/99), ignores the fact that GE critics come from all walks of life including consumers, scientists, labourers, seniors, environmentalists, medical groups, health professionals, lawyers, and even farmers themselves. This is why consumers are rejecting GE foods all around the world. Japan and Korea are instituting mandatory labeling.

Hong Kong supermarkets are going GE free. Europe remains closed. The US is even considering mandatory labeling.

It is also for these reasons that the American corn growers and 30 other farm groups are telling farmers to buy non-GE seed now and predicting a 25 per cent drop in GE seed sales. This is why ADM is segregating and only 36 per cent of Nebraska farmers are planning on using GE seed next year. And this is why Monsanto, Novartis, Dupont and Pioneer are preparing for the first major drop in sales of their new product. Here at home, McCain Foods just announced that it is going GE free. It is dangerously misleading to tell farmers that consumer issues will just go away because it is only a few environmentalists who are concerned.

Fischer would have your readers believe that public concern about genetically engineered crops are based on rhetoric and personal opinion rather than real science . But Fischer ignores the fact that almost no real science exists on the long-term impact on human health and the environment of GE crops. History is full of dangerous examples of rushing forward with new technologies such as DDT and asbestos. Consumers are quickly realizing that history may repeat itself. The few independent tests that have been done point to some serious concerns: the University of Wisconsin study which shows that herbicide use increases in GE crops and causes a 5% yield drag; Dr. Arpad Pusztai s controversial study showed immune system and organ damage in rats fed GE potatoes; even a conservative group of doctors, the British Medical Association, have called for an open-ended moratorium due to lack of science.

Groups like AGCare and Ontario Agri-Food Technologies would like to sweep these independent studies under the carpet and have the public trust industry-funded data, rubber-stamped by a federal government agency mandated to promote biotech products. But the public, not just Greenpeace, is rapidly beginning to question our regulatory process. We also ask readers to consider the truth behind the false comments about Greenpeace s finances. OAFT chairman Dr. Bruce Hunter and Gord Surgeoner have both claimed that we get millions of dollars from our international office for this campaign. Again reality, and our publicly available annual report, show that Greenpeace Canada donated $300,000 to our international office in 1999. In fact they have no fundraising base beyond national offices such as Canada.

To set the record straight, our genetic engineering campaign has an operating budget of $30,000. This obviously pales in comparison to the millions of dollars that the biotech industry is spending on their public relations efforts.

So why is public concern over GE still skyrocketing? Probably because Greenpeace plays only a small part in a larger debate. These lies about Greepeace s finances are another attempt to convince farmers that concern over GE foods are the interest of only a small group of people. Yet a national poll from September 1999 showed that over 80% of people want labeling and half want a ban on GE imports. Polls have said this since 1994, long before Greenpeace began its campaign in Canada. Consumer rejection of GE food is broad-based and industry s aggressive misinformation only serve to heighten concerns. So what does Greenpeace have to say to Ontario farmers about planting GE crops? Follow Dale Adolphe s (president of the Canola council) advice to keep your ear to the ground this, of any year, is likely a good year to make a late decision rather than an early one. Listen to Greg Arason, president of the Canadian Wheat Board, who is trying to preserve premium markets for wheat and calling for a moratorium on new registrations until consumer acceptance and segregation is assured. The customer is always right and someone else will fill the void, perhaps leaving our farmers to pick up the pieces he says.

Also consider the opportunity of a new premium market in non-GE. Some Ontario soybean farmers are earning $0.40 more a bushel for non-GE European exports. The distributors we speak to say that current demand is insatiable. Segregation for these markets is possible and is the only way to achieve premiums. This also avoids having to compete with US farms which have better economies of scale. The challenge for farmers should be how to satisfy premium markets, not how to change the preferences of a wary public.

** 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: 10 Dec 1999 13:52:30 U
From: joe cummins

Ca. Mosaic Virus: a reply to a reply from Doug from EPA

December 10, 1999, e-mail:

"A reply to Doug (Gurian- Sherman." Doug from EPA severely and judgmentally criticized Angela's response to our earlier critics about our paper"CaMV promoter -a recipe for disaster" . Doug was concerned about how large amounts of CaMV virus in infected crops failed to cause ill effects (presumably recombination to produce adverse impact).

The question seemed to be how the CaMV promoter can be a recombination hot spot while integrated into the chromosome but not while growing vegetatively. The elementary biology of CaMV replication is worth recounting. The pararetrovirus CaMV replicated as an RNA transcript of an episomal mini-chromosome in the nucleus. The RNA copy is reverse transcribed in the cytoplasm to make the vegetative ds DNA. Recombination normally takes place during reverse transcription of the virus.

Thus the vegetative virus is isolated from the source of DNA for recombination. Unless a heterologous virus is present recombination only yields the original genotype. The CaMV promoter participates in somatic homologous recombination in the chromosome at a frequency around 1 in a million cells ( Swoboda et al Mol Gen Genet 237, 33-40, 1993) or several thousand such events per plant. Such recombinations will produce a range of products some of which may be very detrimental or toxic.

Doug's point had no apparent genetic sense to it. Many critics believed many crops were sold and eaten with about a million mature virus particles per cell and that finding had some cabalistic significance. It is worth pointing out that CaMV is 20%DNA, 80%protein and is about 25 million Daltons. A million virus per cell in every cell means the dry weight of the crop would be over half virus. Highly infected cells tend to accumulate stress chemicals. People should not eat such slop. However, the biology of virus replication isolates the virus from recombination with nuclear genes. Even if the virus estimates for the crops were not exaggerated nuclear genes are isolated from virus recombination.

Finally, Doug made what appears to be gross exaggeration of the discussion around the findings of Ewan and Pusztai. I believe it is he who presumes viral replication was postulated. Others have simply indicated that the whole genetic construct should be considered in GM crops. Certainly the Royal Society erred fundamentally in claiming a singe gene was involved in the lectin experiment.

Finally Doug from EPA commented on "out of line"in his "opinion" when his brain seemed to reside out in left field( that is baseball slang meaning out of sight).

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Date: 10 Dec 1999 17:40:17 U
From: (Judy Kew)

3 New Anti-GE Publications from A SEED Europe

Of Cabbages And Kings

A SEED Europe's Anti-Genetic Engineering Cartoon Book

The Cartoon Book is designed to provide a new campaigning tool for European anti-genetic engineering (GE) activists; one in which basic information on various aspects of the debate are presented in a new manner. The book is comprised of both comicstrips and text chapters.

Inspired by the issues and the implications of GE, artists from many different countries have contributed to this book. The comicstrips illustrate a wide range, but by no means exhaustive set of topics within the GE arena. The Cartoon Book is organised so that each comicstrip is opposite a text on the same issue. The texts and comicstrips are meant to complement each other, but they also stand alone in their own right. Some campaigners might find it useful to use the texts as the basis for a series of short brochures on the various aspects of genetic engineering. The overall intent is for campaigners in any country to be able to translate both the text chapters and the comicstrips for use in their own languages.

Therefore, A SEED Europe will be making the book available on both CD-ROM and our website (in Adobe Acrobat Reader format) to enable easier re-publication.

Main Chapters include: What is Genetic Engineering; The Genetic Engineering Industry; Genetic Engineering and the EU; Genetic Engineering in the Global Economy; Corporate Control of Seed and "Feeding the World;" Genetic Engineering Products; Health, Environment, and Ethics; Alternatives to Genetic Engineering; and Other Applications of Genetic Engineering. In total, the book consists of 92 pages of cartoons and text.

While the cost of the publication is free of charge, we do request the cost of postage for each copy. Postage for one copy withing Europe is 6 NLG, and outside of Europe 12 NLG. To order a copy(ies) please fill in the order form below.


    In early 1999, the largest chemical company in the world, acquired Pioneer Hi-Bred, the largest seed company in the world. The entrance of DuPont to the emerging 'life sciences' sector is hugely significant. The company seeks to shift 30% of its feedbase to plant genetics. Simultaneously, the company is capitalising on the unfavourable climate sentiments to establish a market for its own brands of non-GE, herbicide resistant soya. That DP will have a huge impact on the future of genetic engineering in agriculture (food and non-food) should be clear from the company's past modus operandi. DP is known as a corporation that has consistently sought to stonewall systemic policy reform for environmental protection and has discredited scientific evidence that incriminate its commercial production methods.

    The profiles are designed for anti-GE campaigners, and outline the major commercial activities, past and present. The profiles are available on paper. There are no email versions.

    To order, drop a line to Make sure to include your mailing address. All profiles will be available at by mid-January

    Of Cabbages and Kings
    Order Form
    • I would like.. (please state number)cartoon book(s)
    • I enclose for postage (NLG 6/450 Pesetas/ 2 UK Pounds/20 FF/3 USD) Please double this if outside Europe (i.e. 12 NLG).
    PLEASE RETURN TO: A SEED Europe, PO box 92066
    1090 AB Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    Tel: 31-20-468-2616, 668 2236
    Fax: +31 20 468 2275


    The address for any administrative command like unsubscribe, subscribe or help is:
    The searchable WWW list archive is available at

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    Date: 11 Dec 1999 08:29:13 U
    From: Colleen Robison

    Panel Keeps U.S. Judges' Investment Files Secret

    By Joe Stephens, Washington Post Staff Writer, Saturday, December 11, 1999; Page A12

    After a private five-hour meeting, a 15-judge committee adjourned yesterday without lifting an unprecedented ban on the release of public documents listing investments held by the nation's 1,600 federal judges.

    The financial disclosure committee of the U.S. Judicial Conference offered no explanation for the nationwide moratorium, which has drawn criticism from members of Congress, legal scholars and journalists. A spokeswoman said only that "an announcement on this issue will be made soon."

    The Internet news organization that sparked the moratorium announced it would file suit.

    "Any decision to withhold public documents should not and must not be made arbitrarily, behind closed doors and without explanation," said Mark Sauter of APB Online.

    U.S. District Judge William Zloch of Florida issued the ban last week, just as APB expected to receive copies of all 1,600 reports and publish them on the Internet. The ban also halted about 40 other requests.

    The spokeswoman said Zloch feared Internet publication could endanger federal judges. No one had petitioned for Zloch's order, which she said he issued orally through administrative channels.

    Journalists have used the reports to uncover judicial conflicts of interest. Court officials could not identify a case in which the reports, which do not include addresses or telephone numbers, had been used to harm a judge.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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    Date: 11 Dec 1999 13:18:44 U
    From: "Rich & Ericka Dana"

    Hudson Institute: Who Funds Dennis Avery (Organics Enemy)?

    from page 3 of the December '99 issue of Growing for Market (Vol. 8, #12):

    The Hudson Institute gained notoriety among organic famers this year when its food policy director, Dennis Avery, started attcking organic food as unsafe. Diane Bowen, executive director of California Certified Organic Farmers, started digging to find out more about Avery and the Hudson Institute. Here's what she says in the Fall issue of the CCOF newsletter:

    "The Hudson Institute has headquarters in a sprawling mansion near Indianapolis, and has an office in Washington, D.C.. It is funded by several prominent foundations such as the Pew Charitable Trusts and the W. K. Kellog Foundation. Other top donors include Dow Agrosciences, Novartis Crop Protection Inc. and the Global Crop Protection Federation, an international group of six agrichemical trade associations."

    "The staff and programs of the Hudson Institute appear to be allied with neo-conservative politics and advocate positions such as free market economics, trickle-down prosperity and no government regulation. Many of the institute's senior staff members, including Avery, worked for the Reagan Administration. The institute's awards program has given awards to mostly conservative Republicans such as Dan Quayle (who received last year's American Dream Award), Barry Goldwater and Alexander Haig."


    Growing For Market is a monthly journal of "news and ideas for market gardeners". Their address is P.O. Box 3747, Lawrence, KS 66046. I am a satisfied subscriber/grower and thought the above would interest many of you who don't get the magazine. Ericka Dana, Catnip Farm - Iowa

    Top PreviousFront Page

    Date: 11 Dec 1999 14:07:24 U

    Monsanto Cooking Oil

    By Adam Goodman, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Fri., Dec.10, 1999

    Monsanto genetically engineers cooking oil to fight vitamin A deficiencies

    Monsanto Co. said Thursday it has developed a genetically engineered cooking oil to battle malnourishment worldwide.

    The company said its modified canola plants - also known as rapeseed - produce an oil enriched with beta-carotene, which the human body converts to vitamin A.

    More than 250 million children in developing countries suffer from vitamin A deficiencies, which can lead to blindness or death, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development.

    If successful, Monsanto's research could bolster the company's efforts to show critics that genetically engineered foods can have direct nutritional benefits for consumers. Monsanto and other biotechnology companies have faced a storm of protests from consumer and environmental groups worried about the safety of biotech crops.

    Monsanto has been testing the genetically modified canola crops in California, North Dakota and Canada. Further tests, including testing the safety level for human consumption, will take about four years, said Christine Shewmaker, the Monsanto scientist who led the research.

    Shewmaker, who works for Monsanto in Davis, Calif., has been studying the genetically engineered canola for the last three years. The canola research grew out of previous carotenoid work on how to make tomatoes redder, she said.

    By inserting a gene from a soil bacterium, scientists increased by 60-fold the normal level of carotenoids in the canola, Shewmaker said. That additional pigment turns the plant's seeds orange rather than green, but does not change the appearance of the rest of the plant, she said.

    Shewmaker's peer-reviewed research will be published later this month in the Plant Journal, a scientific research publication published in England.

    Vitamin A deficiency does not tend to be a major issue in the United States and other developed countries where people can find plenty of vitamin A-rich foods such as milk, meat, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, fresh fruit and green vegetables.

    But vitamin A deficiency is a serious problem in many poorer nations, especially in places such as Asia and Africa, where such foods are not readily available.

    "Not only is vitamin A needed for good vision, but also (is) important for proper immune functions," Shewmaker said.

    U.S. charities and other groups have sought to help in the past by shipping vitamin A pills as dietary supplements or by adding the vitamin into cooking oil and sugar. But getting enough of those goods distributed has been difficult.

    Shewmaker said she hopes the enriched rapeseed oil will provide a more convenient and less expensive way to supplement human diets in poor countries, where rapeseed oil is commonly used in diets of rice, peas and beans. One teaspoon of the Monsanto oil provides the recommended daily intake of vitamin A for an adult, she said.

    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.