28 December 99

Table of Contents

Messages from the Chiapas "Bioprospecting" Dispute
Monsanto Losing VIP [Taylor]
Organic Farming Booms in Italy
Codex Revisions for food labeling
This is a riot! GM Food Banned at Monsanto Canteen
A Puzzling Decline in Butterflies
"Global corporations no longer the rule the world"
The Beginning of a Global Movement
Real Reason Behind Monsanto/Upjohn Merger
Plant virus infects animals :recombination is crucial
Viruses That Jump From Olants To Animals

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Date: 23 Dec 1999 03:50:23 U
From: Rural Advancement Foundation Intl

Rural Advancement Foundation International - RAFI
Geno-type, December 22 1999,

Messages from the Chiapas "Bioprospecting" Dispute

An analysis of recent issues raised in the Chiapas "Bioprospecting" controversy with reflections on the message for BioPiracy

The more information that surfaces about the U.S. Government's International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups (ICBG), the more we are persuaded that current realities render equitable bioprospecting the implausible stuff of myth and legend. In keeping with the Season, if there is a Santa Claus, Virginia, it sure isn't Uncle Sam. Even the best-intentioned projects seem destined to devolve into biopiracy. On December 1st, RAFI issued the news release "Biopiracy Project in Chiapas, Mexico Denounced by Mayan Indigenous Groups - University of Georgia Refuses to Halt Project." (

The news story arose from requests made by 11 Mayan organizations (known as the Consejo ) in Chiapas for RAFI to go to Chiapas and to discuss their opposition to the ICBG--Maya project with them. Following meetings in Chiapas and in Mexico City, RAFI contacted the University of Georgia (UGA, Athens) to understand their perspective on local opposition to the bioprospecting agreement.

Based on these discussions, especially UGA's refusal to stop the project and to participate in an open meeting on the issue in Chiapas, RAFI concluded that wider attention should be drawn to the situation. Accordingly, RAFI's December 1st news release quoted the parties involved at considerable length in order that their concerns could be heard. Somewhat uncharacteristically, RAFI avoided extensive editorializing.

The news release did bring this important concern into the open. Whether the end result sheds more 'light' or just more 'heat' remains to be seen. Certainly, the Chiapas case does rekindle wider issues related to bioprospecting/biopiracy. It also gives us a chance to review our own policies and positions...

In the Chiapas case, there may be no lack of goodwill or sincerity, but despite their desire to do otherwise the project's partners have fallen victim to the anthropogenic syndrome wherein even anthropologists (who usually know better) delude themselves into thinking that it is their lot in life to set the rules of engagement.

In Mexico, the disease is compounded by acute commerciogenic kleptomania as biotech companies prepare to survey the intellectual and genetic wealth of one of the world's most diverse environments. Undoubtedly, many misunderstandings might be resolvable - but it is unlikely that this particular initiative can be salvaged. The logical diagnosis is to take the patient off life-support and let it die. The e-mail debate that has raged over the past several days swirls around six points...

  1. The Contract: It is important to keep in mind why the ICBG project was funded. This is essentially a U.S. Government initiative to identify, patent, and commercialize Mayan knowledge and biological materials – at least in part – through a private biopharmaceutical enterprise. For this purpose, a U.S. University has been contracted to develop a project relationship with Mexican officials and Mayan communities that will make the extraction and privatization of some of their knowledge/resources mutually acceptable. None of this precludes other positive motivations or benefits, such as biodiversity conservation and 'sustainable' economic development, but the project would not exist without the end goal of commercial exploitation.

  2. PIC-NIC: The U.S. Government (the NIH's ICBG initiative) and other commercial partners in the project contracted with the University of Georgia (whose project leader has a long and credible history of work in Chiapas). UGA offered the experience and acceptance necessary to obtain the cooperation of Mexican and Mayan authorities.

    The ICBG is now in its second year however, and it still faces serious local opposition. A significant number of credible local organizations in Chiapas (the original 11 members of the Consejo have been joined by 13 other local organizations and coalitions including ARIC, the Chiapas chapter of UNORCA , representatives of the Global Confederation Via Campesina), have denounced the project.

    According to ICBG-Maya a few local communities appear to have accepted the project. There is not a consensus among the peoples of Chiapas that the project should proceed. The project organizers, rather than accepting what should amount to a veto, say they need more time to convince people. They seem unclear as to when those who are sought for their Prior Informed Consent (PIC) have the right to declare NIC - No Intention of Consenting.

  3. "Common" Knowledge: The issue of who constitutes no or yes is critical since the University of Georgia has stated that it is willing to begin collecting even if only some of the communities agree. Georgia has stated that it would nevertheless be open to sharing the benefits of the project with those communities that refuse to participate.

    Although this is undoubtedly intended as a generous act, it misses the fact that the target knowledge and biological resources to be collected and commercialized derive from all of the communities. Unless all agree, some will have their rights violated. Theoretically, the agreement of even one community could legally allow the project to privatize the knowledge/resources of all of the communities. Again, the question is what share of the Chiapas communities makes this project acceptable and who makes that evaluation?

  4. Collections: There has been much debate as to whether the ICBG has – or has not – begun collecting. First RAFI was told that not a single plant had been gathered. Then we were told that ECOSUR (the ICBG's partner institution in Mexico) had begun collecting, but for other purposes or projects. Now we are told that "botanical collecting" for the ICBG-Maya has begun in four municipalities – but no collections for "bioassay analysis" have yet been initiated. These revised statements require immediate clarification. The confusion is harmful to good relations and undermines PIC. It appears that neither the ICBG - nor ECOSUR – have adequately defined the protocol or procedures that could ensure the integrity of Mayan material.

  5. Closed Circus: A face-to-face meeting among the protagonists is necessary and possibly constructive. All parties concur that the Consejo has proposed such a meeting and that the ICBG has declined. In refusing, the ICBG partners have stated that an open public meeting would be a "circus" and that they would prefer a private discussion between the ICBG and the Consejo (and possibly other Mayan communities?).

    Open encounters in a controversial environment are never fun. There are, however, three compelling reasons why the ICBG should agree to such a meeting.

  6. Outside Influences: Chiapas has sparked the inevitable debate as to whether local communities are being manipulated by outside interests. The ICBG project partners have made this accusation of the Consejo. The Consejo has certainly accused the ICBG project of being dominated by outsiders. While many of the facts can be in dispute, some are commonly agreed upon. First, outsiders contractually control the ICBG Project. Second, when the project first introduced itself in Chiapas, members of the Consejo were approached to participate. Only after their refusal have some of the Consejo members been accused of being dominated by outsiders.

These six points should not lead us to the conclusion that bioprospecting is forever impossible – or that the vast knowledge and resources of indigenous and local communities must remain forever fortressed against the needs of humanity. The opposite is true. Traditionally, this knowledge is shared. Only the advent of patent privatization and monopoly has forced the closure to free exchange. If these traditions can be respected then there will be few constraints to bioprospecting. Our response has to be to ensure the moral, legal, and regulatory environment necessary for consenting peoples to share their wisdom honourably and equitably for the benefit of everyone.

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Date: 23 Dec 1999 15:21:19 U
From: Colleen Robison

Monsanto Losing VIP [Taylor]

By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, December 23, 1999; Page A19

Michael R. Taylor, who played a major role in overhauling federal meat safety programs, is leaving his perch at Monsanto Co., where he is vice president for public policy. His resignation is effective Jan. 31.

"I am leaving Monsanto because I am interested in exploring in a noncommercial setting the proper roles and interactions of the public and private spheres in meeting society's food, health and environmental needs," he wrote in a Dec. 13 letter to Monsanto chief executive officer Robert B. Shapiro.

In a brief interview, Taylor said he had only high regard for Monsanto and his colleagues there.

Some of Taylor's friends, however, said he had become frustrated with the "culture" of the biotech company and he believed it had not done enough to effectively get across to the public the safety of genetically engineered foods, drugs and other agricultural products.

During his tenure at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he was administrator of the Food Safety Inspection Service and acting undersecretary for food safety, Taylor oversaw the transition from the older system of looking at, touching and smelling meat to a more scientifically based system known as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, which requires companies to identify the points in their production processes most likely to be susceptible to contamination and create acceptable plans for preventing it.

Taylor also was deputy commissioner for policy at the Food and Drug Administration from 1991-1994, after having represented Monsanto at the law firm of King & Spalding, where he was a partner.

Although he had recused himself for one year at the FDA from any action dealing directly with Monsanto or any other law firm client, Taylor was attacked by anti-biotechnology activist Jeremy Rifkin, who charged that Taylor had a possible conflict of interest relating to a controversial genetically engineered Monsanto drug approved by the FDA in 1993. In 1994, three members of Congress asked the General Accounting Office to investigate Taylor and two other FDA officials; they alleged that their impartiality could have been compromised by prior relationships with Monsanto, the corporate sponsor of recombinant bovine somatotropin. The GAO review cleared Taylor, who by then had moved to the USDA, and the other two officials.

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Date: 24 Dec 1999 08:38:31 U
From: "Maynard S. Clark"

Organic Farming Booms in Italy

ITALY: December 24, 1999, Reuters

ROME - The area devoted to organic farming in Italy has doubled in the past three years and is set to grow strongly in the next five years driven by domestic and foreign demand, the president of the organic farming association said.

Luigi Scarpadi, president of the Mediterranean Organic Farming Association (AMAB) which represents some 650 Italian farmers, said demand for Italian organic produce came mainly from the EU, such as Germany, France and Britain, and the U.S.

"The Italian market lags other countries as Italian consumers have only recently started to discover organic foods," he told Reuters in a phone interview on Thursday.

He added that Italians were turning increasingly to organic produce amid health concerns over genetically modified foods.

Scarpadi said the area devoted to crops grown without the use of artificial chemicals such as herbicides or pesticides was some one million hectares, double the level of three years ago.

"Organic farming is set to grow strongly over the next four to five years, driven by domestic and foreign demand, before levelling off," he said. "Organic farming is quite profitable, and more and more Italian farmers are turning to it," he added.

EU Subsidies Encourage Organic Farming

Farmers were taking advantage of generous EU subsidies to help them convert their land to organic production, he said.

The boom in organic farming in Italy is mirrored elsewhere in southern Europe.

The area devoted to organic food production in Spain has multiplied 60 times to some 270,000 hectares since 1991 and production, mainly for export, is set to grow strongly in coming years, Spanish agriculture ministry officials said.

Spanish consumers remain largely indifferent to organic foods, which are more expensive than traditional produce.

In Italy, the fastest growing organic farm sectors were fruits, vegetables, olives, cereals and pasture land, Scarpadi said.

He estimated that cereals, such as durum wheat for pasta production, soft wheat, maize and barley, made up about half of Italy's total organic food production.

Production of organically grown cereals centered on northern and central Italy, while farming of organic fruits and vegetables was mainly in the south, he said.

While rising foreign demand accounted for most of the increase in organic food production, Italian demand in the cities was growing at a rate of about 35 percent a year, Scarpadi said.

"Mothers are increasingly choosing organic produce for their children in Italy," he said.

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Date: 24 Dec 1999 10:24:18 U
From: joe cummins

Codex Revisions for food labeling

Codex Alimentarius in Canada - Committee

Proposed Revisions to Sections 2 and 5 of the Draft Requirements for the Labelling of Foods Obtained Through Biotechnology

The 27th Session (April, 1999) of the Codex Committee on Food Labelling (CCFL), considered, but could not achieve consensus on Proposed Draft Recommendations for the Labelling of Foods Obtained Through Biotechnology.

In order to advance this important work more quickly, the Committee agreed to establish a special Ad hoc Working Group (WG). The WG was directed to revise and improve the present draft texts of the "Proposed Draft Recommendations for the Labelling of Foods Obtained through Biotechnology", for consideration at the next Session of the CCFL.

Twenty-three countries, nine international non-governmental organizations (NGO's) and the European Union agreed to be part of the WG. The WG, chaired by Canada, includes Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Norway, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, EC, ASSINSEL, IFOAM, RAFI, Consumers International, ILSI, CIAA, COMISA, IACFO, and the ICGMA.

It is to be noted that while two options for the labelling of these foods is under consideration by the CCFL, the task of the WG is not to recommend which of the two options is preferred. This matter must ultimately be decided by the full CCFL. Rather, the work of the WG is technical in nature and is directed to developing both options to seek a greater degree of general agreement and consistency in the wording of the texts and to ensure the use of common terms and definitions.

To facilitate the development of the text revisions, the WG established a smaller, "Drafting Group" to jointly draft the text revisions for the consideration by all members of the full WG. This Drafting Group, which includes Australia, Brazil, Canada, the E.U, represented by Germany, Japan and the United States, met November 3 - 5, 1999 to begin the work.

At its meeting, the Drafting Group reviewed and revised the texts for:

the definition of foods derived from biotechnology the two labelling options:

  1. labelling of foods where the nutritional value, composition and intended use of the foods derived from biotechnology are no longer equivalent to the corresponding existing food,

  2. labelling requirements for the identification of all foods derived from biotechnology.

The attached draft texts developed by this Drafting Group have now been forwarded to all members of the full Working Group for their detailed review and comment. Based on the comments and suggestions received from the Working Group members, the draft texts will be further revised as appropriate. The final draft texts will then be forwarded to the Codex Alimentarius Secretariat for circulation to all Codex member countries and INGOs for their consideration, and discussion at the 28thSession (May 2000) of the CCFL.

These documents are posted for information purposes only.


Document #1: Current Text for Section 2 of the Proposed Draft Recommendations for the Labelling of Foods Obtained Through Biotechnology(PDF)

Document #2: Proposed draft revised text for Section 2 of the Proposed Draft Recommendations for the Labelling of Foods Obtained Through Biotechnology (PDF)

Document #3: Explanation of the revisions being recommended to Section 2 (PDF)

Document #4: Current text for Section 5 of the Proposed Draft Recommendations for the Labelling of Foods Obtained Through Biotechnology (PDF)

Document #5: Proposed draft revised text for Section 5 of the Proposed Draft Recommendations for the Labelling of Foods Obtained Through Biotechnology (PDF)

Document #6: Explanation of the revisions being recommended to Section 5 (PDF)

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Date: 24 Dec 1999 16:33:28 U
From: (Judy Kew)

This is a riot! GM Food Banned at Monsanto Canteen

By Sam Greenhill, PA News

Genetically modified food has been banned at GM giant Monsanto's own staff canteen, it emerged today.

Managers in charge of catering at the company's UK headquarters in High Wycombe, Bucks, said they took the decision "in response to concern raised by our customers".

Friends of the Earth, which campaigns against the use of GM ingredients, said it proved that at a time of mounting public concern over the safety of GM foods, even Monsanto's own caterers had "no confidence" in the company's products.

The canteen at Monsanto's High Wycombe base is run by an outside company, Sutcliffe Catering, which is owned by Granada Food Services.

Mike Batchelor, quality systems director of Granada Food Services, said in a statement: "In response to concern raised by our customers over the use of GM (foods) and to comply with government legislation, we have taken the decision to remove, as far as practicable, GM soya and maize from all food products served in our restaurant."

He added that the step had been taken "to ensure that you, the customer, can feel confident in the food we serve".

Adrian Bebb, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "Monsanto won't be having a very happy Christmas this year. The public has made its concerns about GM ingredients very clear - now it appears that even Monsanto's own catering firm has no confidence in this new technology.

"Throughout the year the campaign against GM food has had remarkable success, with retailers, restaurants and manufacturers forced to remove GM ingredients from the food they sell.

"This is a tremendous victory for consumers. What people want is real food, food that they can trust and food that hasn't been tampered with. However, companies must go further and ensure that all their ingredients and derivatives come from GM-free crops and that the meat and dairy products they sell are from animals not reared on GM animal feed."

Tony Combes, director of corporate affairs at Monsanto, denied that the move was embarrassing for the company and said the irony of it was that it restricted the choice of customers to decide for themselves whether they ate GM products.

He said that at Monsanto's Cambridge offices the canteen was run in-house and had a different policy on GM foods.

"We believe in choice. At our Cambridge restaurant the notice says some products `may contain GMOs' because our staff are happy to eat foods sprayed with fewer chemicals," he said.

Mr Combes pointed out that Granada's policy was a blanket one, covering all its catering outlets. He said: "This has nothing to do with the fact that they are running Monsanto's canteen. You go to any outside catering company and you will see the same thing."

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Date: 24 Dec 1999 16:38:50 U
From: (Judy Kew)
From: eddy

A Puzzling Decline in Butterflies

By Glen Martin, Chronicle Staff Writer,
Wednesday, December 22, 1999, ©1999 San Francisco Chronicle

Even common species like Monarchs are scarce in Sacramento Valley

Butterfly population at a low
Puzzling Fluctuations
Genetically Engineered Corn

Butterfly population at a low

Butterfly populations are at an almost 30-year low in the Sacramento Valley, adjacent foothills and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, researchers say.

Entomologists find the data particularly worrisome because the decline is so widespread and there is no clear reason for it.

Some species that typically are very common – including orange sulphur butterflies – have been almost absent in the region this year. A few varieties were up in numbers, but the overall trend was way, way down. said Arthur Shapiro, an entomologist at the University of California at Davis. Many more species are down than up. If this were the stock

Shapiro noted the decline as he tallied butterflies for an entomology census that UC Davis has been conducting for 28 years. The census monitors populations in an area that stretches from the Suisun marsh in Solano County to the eastern slope of the Sierra.

Butterfly numbers for much of the Sacramento Valley were lower this year than at any point in the project's history. All the problem areas are at the lower elevations, centering on the southern Sacramento Valley. Butterfly numbers above 5,000 feet were normal or even somewhat Shapiro said.

Puzzling Fluctuations

In biweekly surveys throughout the year, researchers found few or no specimens for 14 of the 55 species that reside in All of these species fluctuate normally, but they don't normally fluctuate in such large numbers he said.

The decline is also puzzling because most north state butterfly species produce several generations throughout They usually have plenty of opportunity throughout the summer to deal he said.

Some of the species that crashed are typically among the most common, said Shapiro, including orange sulphurs, a vibrant yellow, medium-sized butterfly that usually swarms over the Sacramento Valley's abundant alfalfa fields.

Other species that experienced steep declines include painted ladies, anise swallowtails, pygmy blue butterflies, California sisters, fiery skippers, field skippers and buckeyes.

Monarchs, large orange-and-black migratory butterflies that are among the most easily identified of insects, also declined. At Natural Bridges State Beach in Aptos (Santa Cruz County), where Northern California monarchs winter, 14,000 butterflies were counted, down from an average of about 60,000.

Genetically Engineered Corn

Monarchs were at the center of a controversy earlier this year, when scientists at Cornell University concluded that they may be harmed by certain types of genetically engineered corn that produces pollen poisonous to moth and butterfly larvae.

Subsequent research has thrown that study into doubt, and Shapiro said there is no evidence linking California monarch declines with genetically manipulated crops.

The news isn't completely bad. A couple of species -- tiger and pale swallowtails – have been more abundant than usual. And then there have been some occurences that are simply Great purple hairstreams were abundant in Sierra Valley this year, which is north of Truckee and has an elevation of 5,000 feet. Normally they don't come anywhere near there, except as rare strays.

One development has particularly ominous implications. In recent days, orange sulphur butterflies have begun to emerge from their cocoons, thanks to the unusually warm, dry weather. That's something that's normally seen only during drought years, Shapiro said. The last time I really remember seeing it on this scale he said.

Shapiro said there is no apparent reason for the decline. Pesticide use patterns haven't really changed and recent he Nothing has really changed that can explain these oddities, unless something subtle is going on that has

Shapiro said he won't know if the decline is regional or national in scope until other entomologists begin comparing notes. Well be sending our data to regional coordinators for the he said, referring to a group that They'll produce a field summary sometime next spring. But everyone in butterflies is already muttering that this has been a really

©1999 San Francisco Chronicle A PageAA3

In retrospect, some former colleagues say Mr. Shapiro was so taken with his vision of a biological revolution that he ignored the paramount issue of consumer attitudes. Surrounded by a handful of like-minded biotechnology enthusiasts within the company, known as Friends of Bob, he had few voices in his inner circle providing a reality check.

"For me, it is nothing. New millennium, or new century, or new year. For me it is another day and night. The sun, the moon, the stars remain the same."

The Dalai Lama, August 1999

Driftless Institute Genetix Gathering Information Reserve(DIGGER)

Youth Initiative High School

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Date: 27 Dec 1999 05:52:28 U

"Global corporations no longer the rule the world"

Hi folks,

Hope you enjoyed your Xmas break. Welcome back.

* * Season's Greetings * *



The end of another fantasy;

By John Gray, The Guardian (London) December 22, 1999
Guardian Leader Pages;

Global corporations no longer rule the world and the US is on the retreat from its free trade schemes BODY: The collapse of the World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle signalled the beginning of another era. Power is passing from transnational institutions to national governments and NGOs.

The brief episode of global laissez-faire is giving way to a time of uncertainty. The motley army of protesters that shook Seattle rallied in support of a jumble of causes, some of them contradictory. Yet it embodied an increasingly powerful worldwide response to the human costs of an unworkable global regime.

By bringing the meetings to a standstill, the demonstrators did more than postpone the next round of talks on trade liberalisation. They showed that in many crucial areas power has passed to the forces of an emerging global civil society.

This is not the first time that transnational bodies have been humbled. A year ago, a similar ragged coalition of NGOs sank the ill- conceived Multilateral Agreement on Investment. Nor is it only inter-governmental bodies that have proved fragile. So have transnational companies. Since Shell's plans for the disposal of its Brent Spar oil rig were overturned by Greenpeace, no transnational corporation can consider itself invulnerable. Even Monsanto has discovered that the price of disregarding public opinion can be ruinous.

It is now being dismantled under pressure from shareholders and consumers opposed to its involvement in GM food. Among the Seattle protestors, the world's biggest firms are frequently demonised as constituting a corporate world government. In fact, they are constantly buffeted by forces they cannot control. The truth is that no one rules the world. At the same time that power is passing to the NGOs, it is flowing back to national governments. Though it was the demonstrators who focussed world attention on the WTO meeting, it was the US administration that closed it down.

President Clinton seems to have calculated that by attempting to insert human rights and labour standards into WTO rules, he could consolidate Democratic support in the labour movement, and thereby help Al Gore in his bid for the presidency. It is an open question whether any intervention by Clinton could now help Gore, but, by pulling the plug on the WTO deliberations, the president gave a clear sign that American support for free trade can no longer be taken for granted.

It has long been on the cards that the US would detach itself from the free trade regime it has projected throughout the world. Despite their avowed commitment to globalisation, many American businesses believe that the US stands to gain less than other countries. Among voters, the current national mood of euphoria and triumphalism conceals a deeper mood of mistrust of the world beyond America's shores.

The 'Washington consensus" on the virtues of global capitalism is far from immemorial. There are already signs that another, rather more familiar Washington consensus is beginning to re-emerge - one based on America's long -standing protectionist tradi tions and a readiness to act unilaterally in defence of its national interests. The debacle in Seattle emboldened American opponents of China's membership of the WTO. Some are NGOs concerned with human rights abuses; but it is the growing army of protectionists in congress that may prove irresistible. If congress votes to block China's accession when it considers the issue early next year, the consequences could be large.

What would become, then, of China's commitment to avoid an uncontrolled devaluation of its currency? What effect would such a devaluation have on America's stock market bubble? How will Japan and the European Union respond if congress seeks to limit Chinese imports? Trade conflict between the US and China could be the trigger for a world-wide movement to protectionism. In a longer perspective, the US is likely to look increasingly to bilateral deals with other countries and regions rather than to transnational institutions for its security.

There is strong support in Washington for including much of Latin America in a US-led trade bloc. At the same time, support is growing for a new Star Wars- type defence system that would shield the US from missile attack. The US has too many far-flung interests to revert to isolationism. Even so, it is tilting unmistakeably towards unilateralism in its foreign and trade policies. Half- consciously, and without having weighed the full implications, the US appears to be embarking on an experiment in globalisation in one country.

A universal free market is as far-fetched a project as any attempted in the era of central planning. Like communism, it has run aground on human needs that economic theories cannot model. New technologies will continue to transform the world's economies - and at ever greater speed. But the worldwide free market that was jerry-built after the fall of the Berlin wall is already breaking up. John Gray's book, False Dawn: The Delusions Of Global Capitalism, is published by Granta LANGUAGE: ENGLISH LOAD-DATE: December 22, 1999 [Entered December 22, 1999]

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Date: 27 Dec 1999 13:48:14 U
From: MichaelP

Thanks janet E

The Beginning of a Global Movement

by Adriene Sere, Editor, Said it -Feminist News [Online]
All contents © 1999 Said It

In my 18 years of political activism, I have never witnessed so much political change happen in one single week, right before my very eyes.

Thousands of activists shut down the WTO with nothing but determination and unarmed human bodies. The protests helped bring a halt to the Third Round of negotiations between powerful world leaders who wanted to trade in more of the earth's forests, compromise more laws protecting public health, and open up our public services for sale to corporations. With little help and every hindrance from the corporate media, activists brought this secret new oligarchy, quickly expanding its powers over democracies around the world, into public view. And there was one more amazing outcome from the week: the emergence of a transformative solidarity among a vast diversity of people, leading to what many are calling the beginning of a movement for global democracy.

The success of the week wasn't, of course, just luck. The unique power of this effort, in my view, resulted from a combination of three factors: the decentralized basis of organizing; the integration of marginalized voices as voices of authority; and the wholistic and responsible vision of this new movement.

There were no clear "leaders" behind this week of teach-ins and protests. Instead there were hundreds of organizers who committed months of their time to create and coordinate events. There were no "followers." People were motivated to organize because of the facts they learned about the WTO and corporate globalization – -not because of a particular ideology or a fad or a charismatic individual.

Because of the decentralization of the movement (and the decentralized nature of its main organizing tools, email and the internet), outreach extended far and wide. People could get involved where they already were, where they were most knowledgeable, where they could best use their talents, working with others who shared their main concerns and organizing approach. There was no line of authority. Activists simply took power into their own hands, and coordinated their efforts with others who were doing the same. Because of this, the events and actions were creative, pervasive, and empowering, and they manifested at every turn, on every issue affected by the WTO.

The power of decentralization made itself most clear in the successful civil disobedience – coordinated primarily by Direct Action Network – which temporarily shut down the WTO. Ecofeminist author Starhawk, who participated in the action, recently wrote in an article dispersed through email: "No centralized leader could have coordinated the scene in the midst of the chaos, and none was needed – the organic, autonomous organization we had proved far more powerful and effective. No authoritarian figure could have compelled people to hold a blockade line while being tear gassed – but empowered people free to make their own decisions did do that."

A decentralized structure can make a mesh strong and effective. But there also has to be unity threading together the decentralized structure. In this movement, that unity was motivated by a common threat – the WTO. But a common enemy does not in and of itself bring about meaningful unity. The unity that we witnessed grew strong and held together in large part because of organizers' and participants' commitment to equality and sharing of power. Sexism, racism, and other isms evaporated like I had never seen before.

That commitment to equality wasn't happenstance, either. After years of identity politics, feminism, and the persistent struggles in the developing world against exploitation by rich nations, the dominant classes finally shared power with the marginalized – effortlessly, it seemed, and with respect. Gender balance and fair representation of people of color were the norm, rather than the exception (though unfortunately, there were exceptions). During the teach-ins, the marginalized who had directly experienced the harm of corporate globalization were acknowledged as the experts.

Even in casual interaction during this week, sexism and other divisive behaviors seemed to evaporate. Everyone seemed to prioritize the necessity of stopping the WTO. There seemed to be a power and purity to the resistance, so strong that it could not be contained or smashed when faced with the collective brutality of every law enforcement agent in the area, plus the National Guard. The sense of solidarity continued in protests all week long, on the streets and in the jails and in the 24-hour-a-day vigil outside the jail. Such bonds of solidarity cannot coexist with the weakening forces of sexism and other bigotries.

The third element of success was vision. Like most leftist activity, the week of teach-ins and protests was a response to an emergency – the existence and possible expansion of the WTO. But vision was built right in. The focus was not solely on what we oppose, but also what we are for: sustainable farming, empowerment of women, local control, diversity, globalized workers' rights, indigenous rights, the priority of democratic law, protection of the environment and endangered wildlife, fair and responsible trade, respect for basic needs.

These goals were weren't briefly mentioned only to be passed right by. For instance, women from developing countries spoke about the devastation of cash crop export industries, and they also spoke about the importance of sustenance farming to their lives and cultures. Some spoke about the oppressive working conditions of maquiladoras, and also about how the effort to fight the oppression was unifying women. Audiences heard about the homogenizing impact of pro-corporate trade, but we also heard about how crucial diversity is to the environment, to indigenous cultures, to the world.

The values underlying the teach-ins and the resistance emerged from an understanding of and respect for wholeness; a humble understanding of the human relationship to nature; a commitment to long-term social responsibility; a knowledge and acknowledgment of interdependency; and an honoring of the small, the immediate, the local, all the while keeping an eye on the big picture.

These are values that have been guarded by women, more so than men. These values spring from the necessities of life, and women have tended to be the ones to care for life, against all odds. Women have had to know what is required to care for life, and have suffered oppression in part because of their efforts to meet those requirements.

During this week of teach-ins and resistance, these values, long associated with women, were put forth by a broad-based, mixed-gender, all-ages movement. It was the commitment to these values on the part of such a diverse population that gave this week its foundation and tremendously powerful meaning.

The movement that was born at the cusp of the millennium in Seattle, in the face of a planetary crisis, carries so much significance and potential because it aims to make these life-honoring values the basis of our economic infrastructure, as well as our social and cultural relationships.Therefore, it could be argued, this not only signals the beginning of a new movement for global democracy. It also set an example for transforming patriarchal, destructive societies into a world based on decentralized equality, empowerment, and the careful honoring of life.

All contents © 1999 Said It

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Date: 27 Dec 1999 15:28:39 U
From: (Judy Kew)
From: Betty Martini
From: Rob Cohen

Please forward worldwide and publish
********* Please pass to friends and family *********

Real Reason Behind Monsanto/Upjohn Merger

By Dr. Robert Cohen

Date: Sun, 26 Dec 1999 21:31:51 -0500

Substantial Divergence
The Real Enemy
The Magicians Performed Their Sleight-of-hand Trick
What's Up, John?


Substantial Divergence

On this 50th day of my hunger strike, I have learned a new secret, and I am very greatly concerned.

While anti-biotech protestors were rioting in the streets of Seattle, a new episode in the continuing saga of Monsanto's revolving door tactics quietly developed beyond FDA's "palace" doors.

Somebody may be breaking the law, participating in unethical activity at the least, insider trading and influence, betrayal of our health interests, and the time has come for us to ask: "What's up?"

The same grandiloquent question that Bugs Bunny asks Elmer Fudd can fittingly be asked of our scientists and government regulators: "What's up, Doc?"

Appropriately, that question should also be directed to the president of Monsanto, Robert Shapiro. "What's up, Bob?"

Actually, as we get closer to asking this very same question to the guiltiest of conspirators, we have discovered a source of future ills in the nick of time. Knowing the proper question to ask might very well nip the problem deep within the pollen of its genetically engineered bud.

The Real Enemy

Today, on this first day after Christmas, let us ask together, "What's up, John." You might be wondering just who this John fellow is. Actually, it's UPJOHN. You might ask, "What's up, John?" Well, I'm gonna tell you. Activists of the world, unite. We have met the enemy. (UPJOHN is not where I want you to stick your proverbial placards and banners of protest. Not yet, anyway.)

When Monsanto first presented their research to the FDA for approval of the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH), there were also three other pharmaceutical companies with their own different versions of the genetically modified organism.

Monsanto's protein formula was different than the naturally occurring bovine growth hormone. Monsanto's hormone was not an exact version of the natural pituitary extract from a cow. The end amino acid (amino acids are the building blocks of proteins) was just a little bit different than what naturally occurs in nature. Actually, it was VERY different, but Monsanto neglected to reveal all of their secrets until after their drug received official FDA approval.

The Magicians Performed Their Sleight-of-hand Trick

Monsanto received approval for rbGH on Friday, February 4, 1994. There must have been quite a celebration in their St. Louis corporate headquarters on that day. Perhaps the celebration continued through the weekend. What happened the following Monday provides the "smoking gun" evidence to Monsanto's crime. On Monday, a group of Monsanto scientists photocopied, collated and stapled together the most incriminating scientific document in history and sent it to a peer-review journal for publication. On Thursday of that week, the journal "PROTEIN SCIENCE" officially received Monsanto's study.

In that paper, Monsanto admitted that they made significant errors in their formula.

What's Up, John?

What's up, doc? Monsanto waited until after approval, just in case, to admit their errors. After approval, Monsanto admitted that the errors were fixed. However, in making this no-win admission, Monsanto also revealed that all of the research submitted to FDA from 1985 until 1993 was performed with a different hormone than the one that is currently on the market.

Funny creatures, these scientists. Most of the authors of the study worked for Monsanto. Most, but not all.

A few researchers were with other firms. One researcher, located after three phone calls told me that he worked for Monsanto nearly two years before the hormone was approved. Then he made a number of career moves, but still received credit for his work in co-authorship. What does this prove? Simply, that Monsanto knew the errors were made, but held off until after approval. By leaving the firm, the co-author placed a time stamp upon when the "crime" was actually known, and when it was committed.

Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (trade name = POSILAC) has never been tested on a laboratory animal. Nor as it been tested on a cow.

Before approval, the FDA required Monsanto to perform hundreds of millions of dollars worth of new research. Equivalent in 1989 did not mean that a perfect match existed. The other three pharmaceutical companies elected not to continue with their research. Eli Lilly had created a bovine growth hormone with seven additional amino acids. American Cyanamid created a version with three new amino acids. Now to the theme of this column. UPJOHN's version was an exact duplicate of what naturally occurs in nature. Exact by 1990 standards, that is.

The reason that this holds so much significance is that MONSANTO and UPJOHN will soon be merging into one very large company. Criminal co-conspirators will be committing a crime together, and then they'll change their name and identity. Will you even recognize the crime? You most certainly will by reading the rest of this column!

UPJOHN's version of the bovine growth hormone was "supposedly" identical to the hormone naturally manufactured in a cow's brain.

UPJOHN has recently applied to FDA for approval of their hormone, based upon the theory of "substantial equivalence." I learned about UPJOHN'S application early Thursday morning. Their application is so secret that FDA will not even confirm that it has been made. On that Thursday before Christmas, I requested the file number from an employee at the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), FDA's investigative branch. She put me on hold and spoke to the director, Stephen Sundlof. After a minute, she came back and apologized. "We cannot reveal the file number until the drug is approved." I was stunned by their secrecy. By that time, it will be too late. After that phone conversation, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the case file. Will I be denied? Time will tell.

UPJOHN'S application and FDA's review is based upon substantial fraud, not substantial equivalence.

Genetic engineering is not a perfect science. When cow hormones are combined with E. coli bacteria, one of the resulting amino acids often becomes a freak. That amino acid, LYSINE, has an acetyl group added to it. Chemists call this process "acetylization."

Suffice it to say that this is a big errorOone small error for Monsanto and UPJOHN, one giant OOPS for mankind.

Monsanto created five freak amino acids. UPJOHN most certainly did the same. In 1990, FDA reviewers did not have the sophisticated tests necessary to detect such errors. New technology provides those tests today. Rubber stamping UPJOHN's application because of substantial equivalence cannot be allowed to occur. There is no substantial equivalence when mistakes occur. Monsanto should repeat their research. UPJOHN did not receive approval in 1990, and chose not to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to gain approval. They should not be given a free pass today. We cannot, must not, will not let FDA apply their doctrine of substantial equivalence to UPJOHN. We have discovered Monsanto's plan, and are not happy that these two schemers long ago applied to FDA for approval, while discussing merger talks. Their intent is clear. Deceive, divide, and conquer.

There has got to be a law!

Robert Cohen

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Date: 27 Dec 1999 17:10:08 U
From: joe cummins

Plant virus infects animals: recombination is crucial

By Prof. Joe Cummins e-mail:

The article below is useful for those commenting on the hazards of GM crops. The CaMV promoter is related to Hepatitis B and interchanges sequenceswith HIV in the laboratory. Exchange between plant and animal viruses should be an important part of the risk evaluation of GM crops. Some of the pompous and academically well healed advocates of biotechnology have claimed that this had never happened nor never will.

Luckily , those fanatics seemed not to have been able to prevent publication of the article to maintain their fiction about genetics.Of course, I expect to hear from the goof from US EPA who tkes such findings to be a form of abusing him.

Title Evidence that a plant virus switched hosts to infect a vertebrate and then recombined with a vertebrate-infecting virus.
Author Gibbs MJ; Weiller GF
Address Bioinformatics, Research School of Biological Sciences, The Australian National University, G.P.O. Box 475, Canberra 2601, Australia.
Source Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 96(14):8022-7 1999 Jul 6
Abstract There are several similarities between the small, circular, single-stranded-DNA genomes of circoviruses that infect vertebrates and the nanoviruses that infect plants. We analyzed circovirus and nanovirus replication initiator protein (Rep) sequences and confirmed that an N-terminal region in circovirus Reps is similar to an equivalent region in nanovirus Reps. However, we found that the remaining C-terminal region is related to an RNA-binding protein (protein 2C), encoded by picorna-like viruses, and we concluded that the sequence encoding this region of Rep was acquired from one of these single-stranded RNA viruses, probably a calicivirus, by recombination. This is clear evidence that a DNA virus has incorporated a gene from an RNA virus, and the fact that none of these viruses code for a reverse transcriptase suggests that another agent with this capacity was involved. Circoviruses were thought to be a sister-group of nanoviruses, but our phylogenetic analyses, which take account of the recombination, indicate that circoviruses evolved from a nanovirus.

A nanovirus DNA was transferred from a plant to a vertebrate. This transferred DNA included the viral origin of replication; the sequence conservation clearly indicates that it maintained the ability to replicate. In view of these properties, we conclude that the transferred DNA was a kind of virus and the transfer was a host-switch. We speculate that this host-switch occurred when a vertebrate was exposed to sap from an infected plant. All characterized caliciviruses infect vertebrates, suggesting that the host-switch happened first and that the recombination took place in a vertebrate.

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Date: 27 Dec 1999 21:33:09 U
From: joe cummins

Viruses That Jump From Olants To Animals

By Prof. Joe Cummins, 27 December 1999, e-mail:

"Gemini virus and other circoviruses"

The plant circoviruses are single stranded circular DNA viruses. They are closely related to animal circoviruses which are very important sources of diseases of the digestive system in humans, pigs and other animals. It is believed that the animal circoviruses developed from contacting plant sap infected with circovirus. The plant Gemini virus have been studied a great deal and found to integrated in the chromosomes of higher plants.

Gemini viruses were developed as viral vectors for transferring genes to crops but the application did not see much commercial application. It has been suggested that the promoters from Gemini viruses genes might be good promoters for crop genetic engineering application. I am not aware of a Gemini virus promoter that can compete with the caulimovirus promoters such as the CaMV promoter used in most GM crops.

The CaMV promoter is very powerful as it drives replication of the virus (the virus is reverse transcribed to make DNA) while the Gemini virus promoters only drive genes making enzymes and structural proteins. A recent report showed that an animal circovirus originated from a plant RNA virus (negative strand virus) which then recombined to form the animal circovirus.

The sense to this discussion is that the GM crops incorporating virus sequences in every cell need to be evaluated for safety with potential for recombination with animal viruses. As you are probably aware , HIV sequences function very well in CaMV promoters in the laboratory. Of course, the advocates of GM crops claim that normal plants have hundreds of thousand or millions of virus sequences in each cell of an infected plant.

Thus they must be safe and to have done all the recombination that they could have done That kind of argument is taken seriously in respected institutions such as Oxford even though it should not be taken seriously. The CaMV replicate from a nuclear minichromosome in the nucleus of the infected cell. That minichromosome makes RNA copies that are reverse transcribed to make the hundred thousand or million copies of the virus. The cytoplasmic replication of the virus occurs in the absence of nuclear genes to recombine with(they are tucked away in the nucleus). In other words Oxford academics make mistakes just like everybody but they can afford to be ruder about it.