16 December 99

Table of Contents

US court challenge to Monsanto
Japan to tighten GMO approval procedures
World Trade Organisation: Gene patents hit research
Raising the anti: For those fighting biotech crops, Santa came early
Farmers To Sue Monsanto - Class Action
French farmer blames Monsanto for GM woe
Monsanto Sued Over Use of Biotechnology in Developing Seeds
Anti-GM crusader says U.S. could join lawsuit
New Scientist: Keep that spray
US Federal Court Lawsuit First Global Legal Challenge to GM crops
Updated 12/99 US Government Emails/addresses/contact information
Monsanto board meets as investors look for action
Growing evidence of widespread GMO contamination
Monsanto to discuss breaking up the company
USDA Science Advisor's Skewed Thinking
Nestle's Answer
VIVIANE FORRESTER's book L'horreur Economique
Viviane Forrester on a Profound Change

Top NextFront Page

Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 20:06:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-15

US court challenge to Monsanto

By Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby
BBC News Service, Tuesday, 14 December, 1999,

'Landmark allegations'
'Products safe' - Monsanto
Treble damages
Failure to regulate

In what is believed to be the first legal challenge of its kind to the biotechnology industry, Monsanto and other companies are to face action in a US court.

A lawsuit alleges that Monsanto has formed a global cartel with "other biotech companies named as co-conspirators". It is brought by a legal consortium headed by a New York law firm, Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld and Toll.

The firm has not so far named the other companies it is accusing of belonging to the alleged cartel.

'Landmark allegations'

It is arguing that the alleged cartel has "forced genetically-modified [GM] seeds onto the market at fixed prices without sufficient testing for safety to human health and the environment".

The lawsuit alleges "violations of US anti-trust law, public nuisance, deceptive trade practices and breach of implied warranty".

It also includes what the firm describes as "landmark allegations" that Monsanto "violated customary international law".

'Products safe' - Monsanto

Monsanto said it would fight the lawsuit. "We're people who use these products, too. We're not going to introduce something into the market that is unsafe for families," said David Snively, an attorney for the company.

Monsanto said it spent tens of millions of dollars and years to field test each new plant variety for safety.

And although fewer than a dozen companies dominate the development and sales of GM seeds, there is fierce competition among them, Mr Snively said.

Treble damages

The consortium bringing the lawsuit is working with environment and development groups, including the National Family Farm Coalition and the Foundation on Economic Trends.

The lawsuit, to be filed in the US district court for the District of Columbia, is a class action, which means the plaintiffs will receive nothing if they lose. But it is thought likely to open the door to future legal action.

The plaintiffs say they are seeking "treble damages for anti-trust violations, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctions compelling Monsanto to sufficiently test GM seeds and crops for human health and environmental safety, and an end to the operation of Monsanto's cartel".

Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld and Toll have links with several foreign law firms, including the British legal practice Mishcon de Reya. BBC News Online has been told it is likely that the US lawsuit will lead to a similar action in the British courts.

Failure to regulate

Andrew Simms, of the London-based New Economics Foundation, told BBC News Online: "The World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle was chaos".

"That was because many people feel the world is being organised for a wealthy minority regardless of the consequences for anyone else. This lawsuit is evidence of that feeling.

"And regulation has not caught up with the reality of the global market place. Unless regulators do get to grips with it, people will be left to cope with anything that a handful of corporate cartels wishes to dump on them."

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Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 20:06:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-15

Japan to tighten GMO approval procedures

By Aya Takada, Tuesday December 14, 3:30 am Eastern Time

TOKYO, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Japan's health ministry said on Tuesday it would not approve any more genetically modified foods pending the introduction of tighter regulations next April.

Under the new procedures it will be mandatory for suppliers of GM foods to pass the ministry's safety checks and the import of foods containing unapproved genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will be banned.

The rules are being tightened in response to criticism by consumers who say the current system, whereby suppliers seek approval under the ministry's food safety guidelines on a voluntary basis, is too lax.

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Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 20:06:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-15

World Trade Organisation: Gene patents hit research

Julian Borger in Washington Wednesday December 15, 1999,3604,114482,00.html

Rush to patent genes stalls cures for disease

Vital medical research aimed at developing screening methods and cures for congenital diseases is being stifled by the rush to patent human genes and the corporate use of those patents to maximise profits.

A poll of American laboratory directors found that a quarter of them had received letters from lawyers acting for biotechnology companies ordering them to stop carrying out clinical tests designed to spot early warning signs for Alzheimer's disease, breast cancer and an array of other disorders.

Although the sharpest impact on scientific research has been witnessed in the US, under World Trade Organisation rules many of the patents are applicable worldwide. They could inhibit ground-breaking studies in Britain and other scientific centres.

So great is the perceived threat to medical research that a group of American doctors and scientists have issued a protest saying: "The use of patents or exorbitant licensing fees to prevent physicians and clinical laboratories from performing genetic tests limits access to medical care, jeopardises the quality of medical care, and unreasonably raises its cost."

According to the survey, carried out by researchers in California and Pennsylvania, half the laboratories questioned said they had stopped work on developing screening because they knew a patent had been licensed or was pending.

Some of the research scientists who pioneered work on isolating and identifying genetic deformities linked to serious diseases are now saying the pace of research and the spread of ideas has been stultified by the fear of being sued by patent licence holders.

"I've been at conferences where we have been addressed by patent lawyers and told to stop showing our colleagues our notebooks, or think twice about submitting an abstract at a meeting," said Jonathan King, a genetic researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It's a common experience at scientific meetings for people to withhold information because they have a patent pending. Progress is being slowed down."

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next article posted by Jim McNulty

Raising the anti: For those fighting biotech crops, Santa came early

By Lucette Lagnado, The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 14 , 1999

Elizabeth Wilcox, who runs a consortium of small family philanthropies in Oakland, Calif., wasn't particularly interested in the controversy surrounding bioengineered food until she heard Nell Newman speak in October.

Ms. Wilcox decided to recommend that money from her foundation, Common Counsel, go to antibiotechnology causes she had largely ignored.

MS. NEWMAN, THE DAUGHTER of actor Paul Newman and head of the organic division of Newman's Own Inc., spoke to foundation chiefs gathered near Monterey, Calif., to discuss funding environmental causes. She shared her concerns about the potential polluting effects of genetically modified seeds, noting that she tries to ensure that Newmanís Own tortilla chips are free of bioengineered ingredients.

Inspired by Ms. Newman, Ms. Wilcox decided to recommend that money from her foundation, Common Counsel, go to antibiotechnology causes she had largely ignored.


"We are seeking to inform and counterweigh the momentum of the market," Ms. Wilcox says. "We talk about creating the perfect food, and the perfect body, and you donít want to cry eugenics, but this issue is really scary."

Serious money is starting to flow to the antibiotech movement in the U.S., even amid debate over whether the opposition is mostly about a scientific threat, an aversion to big business or a wariness of the unknown. ...


The funds to attack bioengineered food, as well as biotechnology in general, are still coming in fitfully and are modest compared with the millions of dollars producers of genetically modified seeds have pledged for their own public-relations offensive. But what is striking is the number and nature of the donors that have begun to take notice and dive in ó from Ms. Wilcox's small Common Counsel fund to the mighty Rockefeller Foundation. Some are explicitly backing the antibiotechnology movement; others, such as the Rockefeller Foundation, are taking more measured steps that, nonetheless, could spell trouble for the companies behind genetically modified seed.

"A few years ago, few foundations could even spell biotechnology," says Pat Mooney, an influential Canadian antibiotech activist. "Now we find it has gone from small organizations to midsize foundations that are not the radical hippie types."

Gordon Conway, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, says he is earmarking $3 million for a broad new effort that will, pending board approval, include: funding a mediation and conflict-resolution firm to study how warring factions can be brought together; funding consumer activists who want strict labeling of products containing genetically modified ingredients, which the biotech industry opposes; supporting bioethicists to study the ethical implications of bioengineered food (as well as other biotech issues such as cloning); and sponsoring a global "dialogue" about genetically modified food geared mainly toward giving the opposition a public forum.


"There is a buzz," says Amy Lyons, program executive at the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, a San Francisco foundation with a $368 million endowment. "It is one of these hot issues" in the foundation world, she says. The fund awards the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, which is aimed at grassroots environmentalists.

for full text, see

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Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 20:06:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-15

Farmers To Sue Monsanto - Class Action

By Philip Brasher, The Associated Press, From ABC News:

W A S H I N G T O N, Dec. 15 – Opponents of genetically engineered food are trying a new tactic in their battle to curb the spread of biotech crops – a lawsuit that accuses Monsanto Co. of conspiring to control the world's seed trade.

The class-action suit, filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Washington on behalf of six farmers, also accuses Monsanto and other seed companies of rushing the crops to market without adequately studying their effects on health and the environment.

Jeremy Rifkin, a prominent anti-biotech activist who recruited a team of nine law firms to handle the suit, said he wants to "refocus the global debate" over genetic engineering to "corporate abuse of power" by the companies that developed the crops.

... The suit alleges that Monsanto, using its biotechnology patents, coordinated with other biotech companies such as DuPont to fix prices and force farmers into using genetically engineered seed. The lawsuit also alleges there is "substantial uncertainty" as to whether the crops are safe.

The companies control the spread of the technology by patenting the seeds and then leasing them to growers, rather than selling them, to prevent the farmers from reproducing the seeds. Farmers are charged a special fee to cover the cost of developing the technology. Five farmers in Indiana and Iowa, including a husband and wife, and one in France are listed as plaintiffs, but the lawsuit was filed on behalf of all farmers who have bought biotech seed. The National Farm Coalition, a left-leaning group opposed to biotechnology, helped develop the suit.

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Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 20:06:46 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-15

French farmer blames Monsanto for GM woe

By Greg Frost, Wednesday December 15, 1999

PARIS, Dec 15 (Reuters) - A French farmer named in a class action lawsuit against Monsanto Co (NYSE:MTC - news) said he blames the life-sciences giant's involvement in genetically modified (GM) crops for miring him in a legal dispute dating back to 1997.

Patrick de Kochko, an organic farmer in southwest France and the only non-American named plaintiff in the lawsuit, said the lawyers who filed the landmark antitrust suit against Monsanto on Tuesday asked him to join as a plaintiff because of legal problems over his 1996 soybean crop.

De Kochko said he believes a unit of Monsanto sold him soybean seeds containing GM material, which then contaminated his crop and made it difficult for him to market his soybeans. The lawyers were looking for someone who had experienced damages because de Kochko said in a telephone interview with Reuters. I'm just a modest peasant...(but) the principle that disturbs me is that people create these things which then escape into the environment and then he said.

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

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 15:09:19 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-16

Related Article Monsanto Bars Selling of Seeds Made Infertile (Oct. 5, 1999)

Monsanto Sued Over Use of Biotechnology in Developing Seeds

By DAVID BARBOZA, New York Times, December 15, 1999

Some of the nation's most prominent antitrust lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit against the Monsanto Company Tuesday, accusing it of rushing genetically engineered seeds to the marketplace without properly testing them for safety and of forming an international cartel that conspired to control the world's market in corn and soybean seeds.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Federal District Court in Washington on behalf of six farmers, is the latest skirmish in the debate over the use of bioengineered seeds, which are popular among American farmers but troubling to consumers in Europe and environmental groups who contend that they are potentially dangerous to humans and the environment.

The suit, which contends that Monsanto is at the hub of an international conspiracy to control a large part of the world's seed supply, was brought on behalf of a coalition of small farmers and farm groups that accused Monsanto of giving farmers false and fraudulent guarantees about the safety and marketability of a new breed of bio-engineered seeds.

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Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 15:09:19 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-16

Anti-GM crusader says U.S. could join lawsuit

PARIS, Reuters [WN] via NewsEdge Corporation, Dec 15, 1999

The environmental activist whose group backed a class action lawsuit filed against Monsanto Co said on Wednesday he would not rule out the U.S. government joining the suit as a plaintiff.

Jeremy Rifkin, head of the Foundation on Economic Trends, compared the lawsuit filed on Tuesday against Monsanto to the U.S. government's anti-trust case against software giant Microsoft or the case against the tobacco industry brought by U.S. attorneys general.

"There are many instances in new, controversial areas of law where issues are first raised by the private sector. That does not mean the Justice Department could not join (the lawsuit at a later date)," Rifkin said at a news conference here.

"Let me just say it would not surprise me if this (lawsuit) were broadened," he added.

However, Rifkin declined to comment on whether the plaintiffs had spoken with the Justice Department about its joining the lawsuit, and referred all such questions to the lawyers handling the case in Washington.

The lawsuit, which was brought at Rifkin's urging and which names a group of Iowa, Indiana and French farmers as plaintiffs, accuses Monsanto of rushing genetically altered seeds to market without first ensuring they were safe for consumers and the environment.


The complaint also accuses the life sciences giant of violating anti-trust law, saying its patented genes had given it too much control over how staple crops are used.

Monsanto denied the charges and said it would fight the lawsuit.

"Monsanto has created a global cartel in which it is the hub and other companies are the spokes," Rifkin said.

"Through various anti-competitive practices, it seeks to control world production of agriculture and food, with particular concentration on power over seeds," he said.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 15:09:19 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-16

Farmers in Class Action vs. Monsanto

New Scientist: Keep that spray

By John Schwartz, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, December 15, 1999; Page E01

Crops made resistant to pests still do better with chemicals

FARMERS may need to douse their fields with yet more pesticides to get the best out of genetically modified plants. At least, that's the implication of patent applications filed by Novartis of Basle in Switzerland, one of the leading companies in the field.

The applications (WO 99/35910 and WO 99/35913) were filed after scientists at Novartis realised that a wide spectrum of insect pests was attacking Bt maize, its major GM crop. Genes inserted into the maize enable it to make the Bt toxin, a bacterial protein that kills European corn borer larvae. These larvae chew their way into the stems of young maize plants and can kill them before they get established.

But many GM plants that saw off the borer larvae were later attacked by sap-sucking insects. "Bt toxin has a rather narrow spectrum of activity, so you don't get control of all pests," says Walter Smolders, head of patents at Novartis Seeds.

To find a way round the problem, Novartis scientists tried applying different combinations of the company's pesticides to the Bt maize. ...

Given that agribiotech firms have consistently argued that GM crops will reduce pesticide use, Novartis's patent applications are sure to be seized upon by groups that oppose the technology.

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 15:09:19 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN12-16

Excellent BBC news real video report at

US Federal Court Lawsuit First Global Legal Challenge to GM crops

This complaint plus media reports can be viewed at the website of lawfirm: Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld, and Toll

According to the Financial Times:

"The lawsuit, although filed on Tuesday in US federal court, targets worldwide operations of Monsanto, making it the first global legal challenge to the spread of GM crops...

.......The law firms, led by Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld and Toll, are not only challenging the very US regulatory system under which dozens of GM crops have already been approved for release. They are also suing for millions of dollars in damages on behalf of farmers in the US and abroad who, they claim, are unable to market their "miracle" GM crops."

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

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 13 Dec 1999 10:13:30 U
From: "Rich & Ericka Dana"
From: Debbie Ortman - Organic consumers Assoc.

Updated 12/99 US Government Emails/addresses/contact information

Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 13 Dec 1999 12:59:05 U

Monsanto board meets as investors look for action

CHICAGO, Reuters [WN] via NewsEdge Corporation

As directors of Monsanto Co. met on Friday, the pressure was on to take dramatic steps to boost the life sciences firm's sagging stock price, including a possible split of the company's drug and agricultural businesses, analysts said.

"Clearly a merger partner would be their first choice, but their lack of success in finding a suitor has put them in a position to consider spinning off the drug business," said William Fiala, chemical industry analyst for Edward Jones.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that directors of Monsanto, the maker of both the herbicide Roundup and the blockbuster arthritis drug Celebrex, would discuss at Friday's meeting whether to break up the company in order to unleash its robust but overshadowed pharmaceutical unit.

A spokeswoman for St. Louis-based Monsanto said the board session is a regularly scheduled monthly meeting, but declined comment on the agenda or on the published report.

"If those issues were not on the agenda, I would be astonished and frankly disappointed," said A.G. Edwards analyst Alex Hittle. "Do you sell? Do you split or stay the course?"

Monsanto's share price has fallen since its proposed acquisition by American Home Products Corp. fell apart in October 1998. At the time, the stock reached over $60 a share but has since traded in a range of about $33 to $50.

On Friday, Monsanto rose $1.75 to $44 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Monsanto was also said to be in merger talks with Novartis AG last month, but the Wall Street Journal reported those discussions deteriorated. Novartis has since agreed to a deal with AstraZeneca Plc. < AZN.L>

The flagging share price – despite the huge success of Celebrex – is the source of the pressure to act, analysts said. But in addition to shareholder pressure, top managers are feeling the hit to their own accounts. Executives are heavily compensated in stock options and therefore are even more motivated to take action, Hittle said.

Monsanto's pharmaceutical unit, Searle, is particularly attractive to other drug companies. Celebrex had the best new-product launch ever, with first-year sales topping $1 billion, beating even anti-impotence drug Viagra.

Celebrex is carrying the drug unit now, and analysts said three to four years from now it will still be the unit's key product, though possibly with additional uses. A partnership is almost necessary for Searle to compete in the long run, especially amid a round of global consolidation in the pharmaceutical industry, analysts said.

That partnership – likely in the form of a merger – would be much easier if Searle were flying solo, analysts said. Monsanto as a whole is not as attractive to suitors, because of the two units' different markets.

The agribusiness segment is most well known for its herbicide Roundup and its genetically modified seeds. Recently, however, genetically modified crops have sparked protests around the world because of environmental and health safety concerns. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulators have approved the use of the seeds, critics contend there has not been enough long-term research.

In addition, weakness over the last couple of years in the farm economy has held back Monsanto's agriculture business.

Nonetheless, if the units are separated, tax regulations would likely prohibit mergers for one to two years.

"A year or two down the road, both businesses would be takeover candidates, without a doubt," Fiala said.

((Chicago newsroom, 312 408 8787, fax 312 922 6657, REUTERS

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Date: 13 Dec 1999 13:51:08 U
From: Robert Mann

The biggest scientific society in the world, the American Chemical Society, has recently published this item in its big-circulation weekly Chemical and Engineering News

Growing evidence of widespread GMO contamination

December 1,1999/ Volume33, Issue23/ pp.484 A-485
© Copyright © 1999 American Chemical Society

Now that millions of tests have been conducted in response to escalating worldwide concern over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food, it is increasingly clear that GMO contamination of conventionally grown food is a serious issue. Ultimately, it may trigger legal action.

GMO testing has increased astronomically in recent months, and it now happens "quite often" that farmers are surprised to learn that crops they grew in the United States from non-GMO seeds test positive for GMOs when they reach Europe, said John Fagan, founder of Genetic ID of Fairfield, Iowa. Genetic ID became the world's first laboratory to offer GMO testing in 1996 and now licenses its nearly foolproof method for detecting GMOs, which is based on the "TaqMan" DNA testing technique, to laboratories around the world.

Strategic Diagnostics' low-cost tests provide a fast way to detect GMOs in soybeans and corn. Photo courtesy Strategic Diagnostics, Inc.

[SDI Trait]Nine GMO food crops are currently grown in the United States, including soybeans, corn, canola, tomatoes, and potatoes. GMO versions of quite a few other crops, most notably wheat, are in the works. The GMOs in most of these crops can only be detected by DNA testing, which must be conducted in a laboratory and costs $200-$400. But Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybeans can also be identified by a $5.75 protein-based test being sold by Strategic Diagnostics Inc. (SDI), of Newark, Del., which produces results in 3-5 minutes.

See Table 1, Genetically engineered foods and crops approved for sale in the United States

SDI began offering its tests this spring and has already sold millions of them, said Joe Dautlick, the company's marketing manager. By this month, SDI also expects to be offering tests capable of identifying GMO corn. Although there are 13 varieties of GMO corn and SDI is only planning to offer tests that will be able to detect four of the most popular Bt and Liberty Link varieties, Dautlick expects them to be very popular.

The European Union, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand have all passed or are considering laws requiring that food containing GMOs be labeled. But almost all GMO testing is conducted by and for businesses that demand proof the commodities they are buying contain no detectable GMOs. Even in the United States, where the official policy holds that GMO food is nutritionally identical to conventional food and therefore requires no label, some prominent U.S. food manufacturers have pledged not to include GMO ingredients in their lines. These include the leading manufacturers of baby food, Gerber and Heinz, as well as pet food maker Iams and a wide variety of health food companies. U.S. Agricultural Secretary Dan Glickman has also encouraged the food industry to voluntarily label GMO food.

One of the reasons that the pace of testing has skyrocketed in recent months is because businesses want to avoid embarrassment. Gerber made its no-GMO vow after Greenpeace used DNA testing to show that the company's dry cereal baby food contained GMOs, for example. Other companies who have promised GMO-free food have had their claims refuted by testing.

Much of the GMO contamination that such tests reveal can be traced to practices that fail to preserve the identity of non-GMO crops, Dautlick said. Commodities like soybeans, corn, and canola travel along a complex and convoluted path from the farm field to their ultimate destination on a consumer's table, passing through a series of grain elevators, transport trucks, ocean barges, ports, and food companies. Because many businesses in Germany and Japan require that products be certified to contain less than 0.1% or even 0.01% of GMOs, careless practices like not properly cleaning out a weighing bin can lead to contamination. People involved in moving these products "don't want to get stung," so they have begun testing at many points along the way, Dautlick said.

But even if standardized practices for handling non-GMO crops were instituted worldwide tomorrow, they would not solve all of the GMO food contamination problems, according to Fagan. Genetic ID's testing has documented that GMO contamination of conventionally grown crops occurs when wind-blown pollen from GMO corn and canola crops in nearby fields cross-pollinates with non-GMO corn or canola, he said. (This is not much of a threat for plants like soybeans that self-pollinate.) Genetic ID has also amassed proof that seeds sold as non-GMO by seed companies are in fact contaminated with GMOs.

Terra Prima, a company that sells organic corn chips, used DNA testing to prove that corn grown by a certified organic farmer in Texas was contaminated by cross-pollination from a nearby field where Bt corn was grown. The company was forced to destroy $87,000 worth of its chips because the contamination did not come to light until after the corn was made into chips; it is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against EPA this February alleging that the agency registered genetically engineered crops without adequately considering their health and environmental impacts. In addition to the cases he has documented, Fagan believes there are many other cases where non-GMO corn and canola crops became contaminated by cross-pollination from GMO crops.

Pollen can easily travel beyond the "refuges" of non-GMO crops that EPA suggests farmers plant to inhibit the development of insect resistance to the Bt toxin, according to research conducted by the British Broadcasting Company in conjunction with Friends of the Earth. They employed a German laboratory to conduct DNA testing that showed pollen from a GMO canola field ended up 2.8 miles away in a bee hive. Greenpeace also conducted a test in Germany last October that documented corn pollen's drift into a neighboring field, said Charles Margulis, a campaigner with Greenpeace.

Genetic drift in which pollen from one kind of plant is taken up by another plant, creating a new kind of hybrid, is also a concern, Margulis said. The United Kingdom's National Institute of Agricultural Botany reported in April that a hybrid "super weed" my have been created after canola pollen was taken up by wild turnips growing nearby. Some of these hybrid plants have proven to be resistant to the herbicide for which the canola was engineered to be resistant.

Genetic ID's scientists became convinced that GMO corn seeds were mixed in with conventional seeds after they tested products from four major seed companies. They obtained five large samples of each of five different conventional seed varieties from each company, Fagan said. What Genetic ID found after conducting its tests-which are considered the most accurate method for detecting GMOs because they involve triple-checking for the presence of GMO DNA-was that all of the varieties of allegedly non-GMO seeds from each company contained between 0.01% and 1% GMOs, Fagan said.

Though Genetic ID refuses to divulge the identity of the companies whose seeds were tested, farmers are already concerned about the purity of the seed stock and many are sending their seeds to be tested before they plant, Fagan said. Genetic ID has contacted the offending seed manufacturers and is offering to conduct the testing necessary to certify that their seed lots are GMO-free, according to a company spokesperson. Last summer, a European affiliate of Pioneer Hi-Bred International acknowledged that it sold conventional corn seed that was contaminated with GMOs.

Ultimately, this evidence of how conventionally grown crops are being contaminated by windborne pollen and how seeds are falsely labeled as being non-GMO could give organic farmers grounds for a class-action lawsuit, said Michael Hansen, a research associate with the Consumer Policy Institute. The basis of such a suit could be the toxic trespass laws passed by many states to provide citizens with legal recourse against anyone who introduces toxins into the environment, Hansen said.

Robt Mann
P O Box 28878 Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand (9) 524 2949

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Date: 13 Dec 1999 14:39:03 U

Monsanto to discuss breaking up the company

New York Newsdesk (212) 859-1700)) REUTERS, [WN] via NewsEdge Corporation

Monsanto Co. directors are expected to discuss on Friday whether to break up the company to split its booming pharmaceutical business from its struggling agriculture unit, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The report said the life sciences firm was considering such alternatives under pressure from Wall Street.

A decision is not likely to be announced Friday, but there is a consensus on the board to unveil a decision in the next few days, the report said.

Some Monsanto officials are still hoping that a wealthy partner might still emerge for the company as a whole, and the company is still in talks with at least one other party about a possible merger, the Journal said.

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Date: 13 Dec 1999 18:15:52 U
From: (Judy Kew)

USDA Science Advisor's Skewed Thinking

If you'd like some chilling insight into the USDA thought on biotech, read: "Regulating the Products of Biotechnology," by Sally L. McCammon, Science Advisor to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of USDA. The URL is:

This first sentence in this article declares that USDA's role is to promote biotechnology, and that decisions about biotechnology must be "science based", implying that other criteria for decisions (ethical, cultural, consumer choice) are irrational. Clearly USDA has no plans to consult with us, ill-educated and superstitious bumpkins, to determine what constitutes "acceptable risk".

"If genetically engineered organisms are to gain greater acceptance, decisions that address concerns associated with the application of biotechnology to agriculture must be science-based. Science ... must assure a rational basis for decision-making."

As expected, the article states that USDA is using the assertion put forward by the National Academy of Sciences in 1987 that "any risks from the products of biotechnology are the same in kind as those of similar products."

But it goes much further. Ms. McCammon, the USDA's Science Advisor, contends that: "Advances in biotechnology ... have increased (emphasis added) the ability of regulators to scrutinize product safety." This is not only a re-statement of the myth that recombinant DNA techniques are "more precise" than conventional breeding, but implies that they actually create an organism which is better understood than the parent organism. Think of it: we know more about Bt corn than we do about conventional corn. We know more about a potato with genes from an African clawed toad than we do about an ordinary potato.

Finally, we see the astonishing result of the policies which consider this most powerful technology to be risk-free and which consider the public's views irrelevant. Ms. McCammon proudly states that of 5,000 permits which USDA has evaluated for testing of GEOs at 22,000 sites, no petitions have been denied.

Green Homes For Sale:
Green Building Pros:

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Date: 14 Dec 1999 13:22:13 U

Nestle's Answer

Forwarded by Doris Reller/Chicago/National Association of Realtors on 12/14/99 12:24 PM ---------------------------

Doris Reller 12/14/99 12:18 PM

To: Nestle<>

Subject: RE: Your e-mail (Document link: Doris Reller)

Thank you for your email. Since you use and will continue to use genetically modified ingredients, I will no longer purchase your products for myself and my family. My family's safety is too important to me, I will spend a little more for organic foods.


Doris Reller on 12/13/99 11:39:58 PM

bcc: Doris Reller/Chicago/National Association of Realtors)
Subject: RE: Your e-mail

Ref Number: 1166702128

Doris Reller
430 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611-4002

Dear Doris Reller:

Thank you for contacting us regarding genetically modified ingredients. We welcome questions and comments from our consumers regarding our products.

Nestle as the world's leading Food Company recognizes the contribution of gene technology to the improvement of the quality and nutritional value of our food as well to increase food production.

Nestle supports responsible applications of gene technology in food production when safety for the consumer and the environment are scientifically confirmed, and positive effects for health and/or agricultural practice and productivity can be demonstrated.

In countries where public opinion rejects ingredients derived from genetically modified crops, even though food legislation permits their use, Nestle respects the consumers' preferences and will provide its customers, in as far technically possible, with products that do not contain these ingredients.

Nestle will continue to use ingredients derived from genetically modified crops where we have complete confidence in their safety and where they are generally accepted by consumers.

For more information regarding genetically modified ingredients, you may want to contact the following:

Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA)
1010 Wisconsin Ave NW Suite 900
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 337-9400 or International Food Information Council (IFIC) - (202) 296-6540
or National Food Processors Association (NFPA) - (202) 637-8060

We appreciate your interest in our products.


Susan Franklin
Consumer Services

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Date: 14 Dec 1999 07:47:11 U
From: MichaelP

Thanks Hendrik

Hendrik sez:
About three years ago, on the occasion of a public event at the Uiversity of Victoria (Canada), i heard Robert Theobald say, "I am for full unemployment". And i couldn't agree more...

Makes no sense? That can be helped... just a moment, please... Or words like "welfare bum" or "leech" come to mind? Sorry, wrong movie... :-)

Try this, for a change:

VIVIANE FORRESTER's book L'horreur Economique

French author VIVIANE FORRESTER's book L'horreur Economique (The Economic Horror) has just been published in an English edition. The 1996 book is already a huge bestseller in France, Germany, Italy, Japan and South America, and reviewers predict that it set to become the biggest economics bestseller since Das Kapital.

The 72-year old author has become a heroine in France where unemployment now stands at more than 12%. Young jobless have taken to photocopying pages from L'horreur - notably those passages decrying the culture of shame attached to unemployment - and sticking them up on job centre walls. The author's effigy can also be found at the front of workers' marches, with banners quoting from her book.

International financier George Soros was so impressed with L'horreur that he arranged to meet with the author in Paris. The book has also been discussed by the Mexican parliament, and politicians in Peru have invited the author to lecture in Latin America.

This official interest has come despite the author's argument that there is a conspiracy by "those who control economic power" to "hide from the workers the truth that they are no longer needed by the capitalist system" and that we are witnessing "the end of employment as we have known it."

In this special feature, The Jobs Letter profiles Viviane Forrester and gives an essential summary of her views on the future of work.

The liberal French economist Alain Minc, who is also chairman of Le Monde, has described the book a "rubbish". He recently told Forrester: "Your book is a talented opinion poll. It is a publishing success because it plays on people's fears. But it would have sold far fewer copies if it had been signed by [Communist party leader] Robert Hue..."

Minc argues that the prosperous French workers and their unions have refused to trade some of their benefits for wider employment. Minc: "Since 1973, average purchasing power has risen by 40 per cent in real terms in France. If we had accepted a rise of only 35 per cent, there would be a million more jobs..."

Minc nevertheless concedes that Forrester has articulated a popular feeling which, for him, demonstrates "the confusion in society at large about current economic developments..."

Top PreviousFront Page

Date: 14 Dec 1999 07:47:11 U
From: MichaelP

Viviane Forrester on a Profound Change

"The Economic Horror"
by Viviane Forrester, (pub 1999 by Blackwell ) ISBN 0-745-61994-0


edited by Vivian Hutchinson for the Jobs Research Trust
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phone 06-753-4434 fax 06-759-4648
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The Jobs Letter – an essential information and media watch on jobs, employment, unemployment, the future of work, and related economic and education issues.

The Jobs Research Trust – a not-for-profit Charitable Trust constituted in 1994 to develop and distribute information that will help our communities create more jobs and reduce unemployment and poverty in New Zealand.

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Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign, for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
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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.