Genetically
 Manipulated 


 

 
 
 Food


 News

10 September 99

Table of Contents

Monsanto, the world's largest biotech company has invaded India.
Peasants Hit Rushed Ok of Mutant Crop Gamble
ASIA GMO-Transgenic Food Rules Spark Market Upheaval
ADM Warns Suppliers To Begin Crop Segregation
Grocery Stores Targeted in Gene-altered Food Fight
GM corn firms liable for mishandled tests
Japan Corn-Europe may benefit from GM label plan
GM soya firm yields to pressure -
"Absence of Proof is not Proof of Absence"
France To Stand Firm On GMOs At WTO Meet - Chirac
Scientists warn of DDT trap.
GM bosses want to pull out of UK
GM Theory Requires Facts
EU's Wallstrom Backs Environmental Liability
Europe moves against GM food research
No Soy in McCartney Foods
New GM Warning Over Danger Chemicals Entering Food Chain
Deutsche Bank's provocative July 12, 1999 report "Ag Biotech: Thanks, But No Thanks?"
U.S. grain merchants paying up for non-GMO crops
Eating Well -- Genes are Changed, But Not the Label
Farmers Likely to be Targeted in Next Food Protest
World Hunger: 12 Myths
Frankenstein Foods?

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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 22:20:05 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-3

MNC's invasion of Indian Agriculture - The Real Swadeshi - Videshi issue in Bellary

Monsanto, the world's largest biotech company has invaded India.

Press release from "Monsanto Quit India" Campaign – 1 Sept 1999

It now owns and controls Cargill seeds, MAHYCO, Rallis, EID Parry. The main Cargill seed plant, now owned by Monsanto is in Bellary. This plant was pulled down by angry farmers in 1992 because of the high rates of seed failure.

Monsanto has taken over the biotech lab of our premier research institute, the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Monsanto is also robbing all our Universities of our scientists. This is intellectual hijack and intellectual theft.

Monsanto has also engaged in Biopiracy by patenting our cotton, mustard, neem and soyabean. Through patents on seeds it is trying to establish a totalitarian control over agriculture.

Monsanto's undertook illegal and hazardous trials of genetically engineered Bt. cotton. It has continued its trials in spite of the Supreme Court case. Scientific evidence proves that toxic Bt plants kill beneficial species such as butterflies, bees and beetles. Bt crops also accelerate evolution of resistance in pests and the evolution of 'super pests'. This will lead to more debts and more suicides and will wipe out both our biodiversity and our farmers.

Thousands of farmers have already committed suicide because of huge debts linked to costly seeds and costly pesticides, herbicides and increasing seed failures. Pests are becoming resistant to pesticides leading to higher debts and higher crop failure. Monsanto is also trying to import gene guns and virulent genetically engineered plasmids for making and selling Terminator seeds, and other ecologically hazardous products. This is a gene war on our farms, against all species.

Monsanto is also trying to control drinking water and convert the growing water scarcity into limitless profits.

Seed famine and water famines are the most severe threats the majority of Indians are facing today.

However, no political party and no politician are addressing these survival issues faced by Indian people.

Because Monsanto poses a severe threat to Indian agriculture and Indian farmers, Indian citizens have been telling Monsanto to quit India, since Quit India day, Aug 9th 1998.

We repeat this call during the Indian general election 1999 from Bellary, which is a citadel of corporate invasion into Indian agriculture. Bellary symbolizes the combined imperialist power of Cargill, the world's largest grain trader and Monsanto, the world's largest seed monopoly.

This is the real Vidheshi invasion and threat to India.

Ignoring the real economic threat to the survival of the Indian people, the Congress and BJP have reduced the Bellary Election to a "foreigner - native" issue focussing only on individual personalities in the election contest between the Congress President, Italian born Sonia Gandhi and BJP representative, Sushma Swaraj.

The Bija Satyagraha Movement started by 2500 groups around the country, represented in Bellary by Navdanya and the Karnataka Krishak Samaj wants to draw attention on the real Videshi invasion by Monsanto & Cargill. The Bija Satyagraha Movement is building the Swadeshi alternative of keeping the seed in our hands and keeping it free of patents, genetic engineering & MNC's control.

We also want to draw attention to fact that both the BJP and Congress have colluded with foreign MNC's. They have allowed Monsanto and Cargill to enter Indian agriculture and rob us of our fundamental security - our food security.

Both BJP and Congress joined hands to change Indian patent laws and allow Bio-pirates like Monsanto to have monopoly markets through patents for products derived from our neem, cotton and mustard etc.

Gandhi defined Swadeshi as economic democracy. Our politicians are corrupting the content of this powerful word.

The citizens of India will save "Swadeshi' from being trivialized into a call for xenophobia and narrow nationalism. Navdanya and Karnataka Krishak Samaj will address a press conference and march to the Cargill and Monsanto Seed factory on 2nd September 1999.

Our Swadeshi call from Bellary is:

  1. "Monsanto Quit India"
  2. "Monsanto Stop the Hijack of Indian Seed and Water"
  3. "No Patents on Life" - "No Patents on Seeds"

Our Swadeshi test for every candidate and Political Party is

  1. The next Government must scrap the new Patent Act 1999 and Stop the implementation of TRIPS. It must also takes step to revise and reform TRIPs by supporting the African Proposal to WTO.

  2. The next elected government must stop the genetically engineering trials that threaten our farmers, our biodiversity and our food security.

  3. The government must stop the import of the Gene Guns and genetically engineered plasmids by Monsanto.

Bija Satyagraha For Further Information please contact: Navdanya Karnataka Krishak Samaj A
60, Hauz Khas, New Delhi – 110 016
Bellary Tel: 011-6968 077, 6853 772, Fax: 011- 6856 795 Email: vshiva@giasdl01.vsnl.net.in


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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 22:20:05 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-3

PRESS RELEASE FROM PHILIPPINES

Peasants Hit Rushed Ok of Mutant Crop Gamble

August 27, 1999

The Kilusan Magbubukid Pilipinas (KMP), the national movement of landless peasants in the Philippines, condemned the hasty approval by the National Biosafety Committee of the Philippines (NCBP) of the field testing of genetically engineered corn in Bay, Laguna and General Santos City.

Rafael Mariano, chairman of the KMP, said the approval was treacherous because the NCBP and the proponents AgroSeed Corp. and Pioneer Hi-Bred ignored widespread public opposition to the economic, legal, ethical and health problems posed by the release of plants laced with genes of a pesticidal strain of bacteria, antibiotics and bits of virus that causes plant disease.

The KMP and its local affiliate Pagkakaisa't Uganayan Magbubukid Laguna (PUMALAG) voiced strong opposition in July to field testing during a town council meeting at Bay, saying that the testing is only a new beginning of the intensified efforts of multinational corporations in consolidating their control over Third World agriculture, trade and science, now in the form of field testing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The scheme where a regulating agency such as NCBP signing an "oath of undertaking" with private firms it is supposed to regulate is highly irregular, KMP pointed out.

PUMALAG leaders announced Laguna peasants will launch protest rallies with the municipal council at the Institute of Plant Breeding, a government facility where the biotechnology firms will be planting the corn plant mixed with the Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt-corn.

KMP said field testing will only lead to uncontrolled commercialization of many other mutant crops such as Bt-rice that the International Rice Research Institute has been eager to promote after Bt-corn's passage.

"Only top seed and chemical giants Monsanto, Cargill, Pioneer Hi bred which have cornered 40% of the world seed market will benefit from these crops, but it will only worsen landlessness and poverty among millions of peasants in the country," Mariano said.

The patented traits of GMOs will prevent local farmers from breeding traditional crops because pollen from GMOs pollute neighboring farms and the built-in pesticides create super pests that are hard to eradicate.

KMP said the only clear motive of the biotechnology firms promoting GMO technology is the profits to be made. Worldwide value of the corn seed market, estimated at US$3.1 billion annually, accounts for one-quarter of the entire commercial seed industry. Pioneer controls 34% of US$1.33 billion hybrid corn market in the US.

Corn comprises 20% of the world's grain output. Some 1.7 million peasant households in the country depends on maize production in 2.7 million hectares and 15% of the population depend on corn for food at 11. 86 kilograms annual per capita consumption. Daily national consumption 14,600 metric tons or 5.3 million metric tons annually. Corn is used as food (14%), seeds (2%) and feeds wastage (85%).

The two main GM crops being grown commercially in the US are soya and corn. Yet some 90-95% of soya harvests and 60% of traded corn are consumed not by humans but by livestock.

Corporate monopolies on seeds have tightly interlocking interests to financial capital oligarchies and multilateral/bilateral official development aid given by the monopoly capitalist state of the United States to Third World countries. The aid and technical assistance promotes use of commercial technologies.

"We will fight for our traditional farmers' rights to develop productive technology that fits our needs and keep our own seeds for the future generations of citizens, to raise crops using economically feasible and environment-friendly means," Mariano added.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas
82-C Masikap Extension St., Barangay Central
Quezon City, Philippines


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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 22:20:05 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-3

ASIA GMO-Transgenic Food Rules Spark Market Upheaval

By Michael Byrnes

SYDNEY, Sept 1 (Reuters) - New rules to govern genetically modified organisms (GMO) in Asia's US$1,000 billion a year food market have begun to threaten exports worth billions of dollars from the United States and elsewhere.

The spread of a now-global battle over the use of GMOs to Asia, the biggest market in the world food chain, has been triggered by Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand all deciding to enact laws requiring labelling of transgenic foods. The United States is concerned. It was concerned about Australian one insider close to negotiations over the Australian code told Reuters.

With the United States alone exporting more than US$15 billion a year worth of unprocessed agricultural products to Asia – and much more in processed food and beverage products – blows are already being landed as an Asian round of the global GMO prizefight gets underway.

U.S. authorities and officials have publicly protested recent decisions by Japan and Korea to introduce labelling laws.

The U.S. Administration has also mounted a quiet but effective lobbying campaign to curb labelling decisions by the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA), the insider said.

The Australian and New Zealand governments eventually decided on August 4 to order mandatory labelling of food containing GMOs. But the U.S. effort still paid off, he said.

U.S. EXPORTS IN THE FIRING LINE

With one-third of its corn and half of its soybeans and cotton genetically modified, the United States' US$51.7 billion worth of agricultural food exports each year is the biggest potential loser in the global GMO fight.

All on the producer side of the GMO revolution say strict labelling laws and transgenic crop controls may make it so difficult for exporters to comply or penetrate markets that they may tip multi-billion dollar trade balances against GMO foods. said Wendy Craik, executive director of Australia's top farm lobby group, the National Farmers' Federation.


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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 22:20:05 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-3

ADM Warns Suppliers To Begin Crop Segregation

DECATUR, Ill., (Reuters) -09/02/99

Agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) Thursday warned its grain suppliers to begin segregating genetically modified (GM) corn, soybeans and other crops from conventional crops. In a statement that drew a sharp response from U.S. corn farmers, ADM released a notice it sent this week to grain elevators that supply crops to its many processing plants.

"As your trading partner, we want to alert you to a change we are experiencing in consumer demand," the company said. Some of our customers are requesting and making purchases based on the genetic origin of the crops used to manufacture their products. If we are unable to satisfy their requests, they do have alternative sources for their ingredients.

We encourage you as our supplier to segregate non- genetically enhanced crops to preserve their identity," the ADM statement said. The ADM position echoed statements last spring by U.S. corn refiners and other processors that farmers who planted GM crops were responsible for keeping them separate.


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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 22:20:05 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-3

Grocery Stores Targeted in Gene-altered Food Fight

By Stuart Laidlaw BUSINESS REPORTER
The Toronto Star, September 2, 1999 -

The battle against genetically modified foods will be fought at grocery Everyone said Jennifer Story, health protection campaigner for the Council of Canadians.

'We're all going to do our best to organize our contacts, whether it's our allies or our members or our friends, to affect the presence of genetically About 60 per cent of the food on Canadian grocery shelves has been altered to fight pests or resist herbicides, according to industry estimates.

Story said consumers will be targeted by several publicity campaigns this fall to make them aware of genetically altered crops. The public can expect to see a rapid rise in information provided to them said Story, whose group hosted the meeting.

She said consumers will be encouraged to tell their local grocers they want food free of genetically modified crops, while the groups at yesterday's meeting agreed to lobby food companies to drop such crops from their products.

The one- day meeting was the first ever of 23 groups from across Canada to begin work on a joint plan of attack. Groups at the meeting included Oxfam, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club of Canada, the Canadian Health Coalition, the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, and the National Farmers Union.


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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 22:20:05 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-3

GM corn firms liable for mishandled tests

By Earl Warren B. Castillo, BusinessWorld, September 2, 1999

Multinational agribusiness firms which have been allowed to do field tests on genetically modified corn will face both civil and criminal sanctions in the event of environmental disasters caused by their experiments.

In a news conference yesterday, a member of the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) said farmers can sue these companies if they find the latter's experiments damaging to their farmlands. The NCBP is a multi-sectoral and interagency committee tasked with evaluating the applications of companies to conduct experiments involving genetically modified organisms.

NCBP member and legal adviser Jose Maria A. Ochave said affected farmers can seek damages under the Civil Code.


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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 22:20:05 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-3

Japan Corn-Europe may benefit from GM label plan

By Aya Takada

TOKYO, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Japan's corn imports from Europe may increase next year as Japanese food processors, facing government requirements to label genetically modified (GM) food from April 2001, see European corn as a generally GM-free alternative to U.S. corn, traders said on Thursday.


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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 22:20:05 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-3

GM soya firm yields to pressure -

By Nick Nuttall, Environment Correspondent, The Times (UK) 3 Sept

ONE of the world's biggest exporters of soya and maize yesterday bowed to consumer concerns about GM foods by announcing that it would be segregating crops.

The United States Government and American crops suppliers have insisted for two years that it is impossible to separate GM crops from conventional ones. In the United States, the world's biggest supplier of soya, 60 million acres are planted with genetically modified crops, with the acreage growing each year. But yesterday Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), which buys a third of the American corn, wheat and soya that is processed into food, dealt the biotechnology industry a severe blow by saying that it had yielded to pressure from consumers and retailers in Europe and Japan.

The company, which has revenues of $14 billion (9 billion), said in a statement that it was asking its farmers to separate GM crops from non-GM ones for the first time.

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


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Date: 9. Sept. 1999
From: Angus Durran, Safe Food Coalition durran@mweb.co.za

Letter published in the "Business Day", Johannesburg, 9. Sept. 1999 in reply to the article "Food or Fowl? Bio-battle is joined", same paper, 28 Aug. 1999

"Absence of Proof is not Proof of Absence"

by Angus Durran, Business Day, Johannesburg 9.9.1999

Dear Sir,

As the spokesman for the Safe Food Coalition that was quoted in your article (Food or Fowl? Bio-battle is joined, Business Day, August 28) I would like to address a number of points to set the record straight.

What I stated was that there had been cases of allergies which resulted from the brazil nut gene genetically engineered with the soya bean which caused allergic reaction to those allergic to brazil nuts. This was merely one example.

On being asked about scientific proof I said: "Absence of proof is not proof of absence." For how many years did we hear the argument from tobacco companies that there was no proof that cigarette smoking was harmful to health?

Today all cigartette packets carry health warnings. Scientis warn that the effects of eating genetically engineered foods may also only be apparent when large numers of people have been eating them long-term.

Genetically engineered crops also appear to be a threat to beneficial insects. Bees around such modified cornfields have been found dead in large numbers; laboratory studies indicate that genetically engineered crops kill large numbers of the monarch butterfly, ladybirds and lacewings.

The report states that the coalition was barred from the meeting. This was not the case – quit the contrary. We were invited and did participate but stated that we did not condone genetically engineered foods, in our leaflet which we distributed at the demonstration we called for a moratorium until public safety can be protected.

The report stated that "in 1997 Parliament approved the Genetically Modified Organisms Act which is now being implemented." This act has not yet been implemented and yet the genetically engineered crops (maize) are available for sale in stores without labels.

A report commissioned by the Bio-Watch environmental group concludes: "it appears as if government is not yet ready to protect the environment from potential risks arising from genetic engineering, yet commercial planting of transgenic crops is well underway, as are numerous field trials."

The statment of bhe labelling meeting chairman on all consumer groups being invited is not the case.

Angus Durran
Safe Food Coalition, Johannesburg


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Date: Sun, 5 Sep 1999 21:45:21 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-5

France To Stand Firm On GMOs At WTO Meet - Chirac

By Christopher Noble

PARIS (Reuters) - President Jacques Chirac said Saturday that France and the EU would oppose the sale of genetically modified foods and hormone treated beef at a global trade summit starting in November.

Chirac, speaking on France's TV5, said his stance was not incompatible with his overall support for the benefits of a globalizes economy.

He said France would vigorously defend its position at the upcoming ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle from November 30 to December 3.

"Some in Seattle at the WTO are going to support the possibility of selling freely on the market food products for livestock and for people that are genetically modified or have undergone treatment with hormones," Chirac said.

"Our conviction is that we have no assurance that these practices meet standards for the health of mankind and we cannot play with that," he said. "We French will be very firm on this point in Seattle."


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Date: Sun, 5 Sep 1999 21:45:21 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-5

Scientists warn of DDT trap.

Dairy Exporter July 1999

The New Zealand dairy industry, in its enthusiasm to adopt biotechnology, must be careful it doesn't fall into the same trap as the world did with DDT.

That is because the introduction of genetically engineered products into agricultural environment is a "one-way street, but unlike DDT the pollution from genetic engineering once introduced, will be self-perpetuating in the soil, the plants, the animals and the rest of the environment." This is the view of NZ and internationally recognised soil scientists from Massey University, Dr Max Turner, a soil chemist, and Dr Neil Macgregor, a soil microbiologist.

Both men consider' themselves objective scientists without anti-science leanings, though they say that in questioning the value of GE crops and foods they will probably be labelled 'luddites' by those promoting genetic engineering, and its products, mainly for the 'profit of the promoters and at a cost to the gullible'.

For dairyfarmers facing the prospect of genetic engineering of cows to produce pharmaceuticals, and modification of crops like maize to resist insect attack, there is a lack of information on potential risks involved, the pair said in a recent joint interview.

Though there has been some debate on GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and GMF (genetically modified food) issues in the press (mainly concerned with human health and food safety issues), they said there was very little research being done into the risk factors agriculture could face were genetic engineering to be wholeheartedly embraced by NZ farmers.

"We believe," Dr Macgregor said, "the time has come for the technology to be assessed on how safe it is for the environment and for sustainable farming. The current research is not designed to evaluate risk, only to find out how to make it work."

Dr Macgregor and Dr Turner feel that some NZ scientists could be dragged into GE research and technology by non-scientists, amid the push for profit-driven research funding.


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Date: Sun, 5 Sep 1999 21:45:21 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-5

GM bosses want to pull out of UK

Independent, Sunday, 9-5-99

Top executives of Monsanto, the world's leading biotechnology firm, are pressing the board to pull out of genetically modified crop trials in Britain, because public hostility is damaging its business.

Senior company sources have told the Independent on Sunday that a powerful group within management is arguing that the trial plantings should cease entirely. Although the Monsanto chairman, Bob Shapiro, is insisting that the trials must continue, the company has already drastically scaled back its planting in Britain. Senior managers are deeply frustrated by the success of anti-GM campaigners in disrupting them.

The Independent on Sunday has also learned that the Clinton administration is so concerned at Monsanto's troubles in Britain that it is putting heavy pressure on ministers to allow a new GM maize, developed by the company, into British shops and supermarkets.

Monsanto's withdrawal would be a devastating blow, both to the GM industry and to Tony Blair who has made support for biotechnology an integral part of the New Labour "project" for Britain.

The Prime Minister is facing a revolt within his own party - expected to surface at this month's Labour party conference - over the pro-GM stance on which he has staked much of his authority. Shortly afterwards, Mr Shapiro will fly to Britain to plead his case at a Greenpeace conference.

Investors have been deserting Monsanto and other biotechnology companies as opposition to their GM products has grown; Monsanto shares have fallen by more than 10 per cent over the past six months. Deutsche Bank, Europe's largest, predicts that GM organisms will become a "pariah" for shareholders and a "liability" to farmers and warns of "an earnings nightmare" for Monsanto.

Statistics collected by Friends of the Earth from government documents show that Monsanto has cut its trials by three-quarters over the past 12 months. This year it has only about 30 sites around the country, compared with 110 in 1998.

Pete Riley, the pressure group's GM campaigner, said: "Monsanto are drastically scaling down their operations in the face of overwhelming public opposition to their activities in the UK. It is time they packed up and went home altogether."

Monsanto officially denies that there have been discussions about ending the UK trials and says that the reduction is not evidence of an impending withdrawal. A spokeswoman at its headquarters in Missouri said: "There have been no such discussions. We think it's important that people get the information that comes out of these trials."

But senior sources in the UK privately admit that some directors are indeed advocating a withdrawal. Peter Melchett, executive director of Greenpeace, says that this would be a disaster for the company. "If they cannot make it in England, where they have the most sympathetic government in Europe, it is hard to see how they could make it anywhere," he said.


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Date: Sun, 5 Sep 1999 21:45:21 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-5

GM Theory Requires Facts

Farmers Weekly UK Sept. 3-9th, 1999

Attitudes to genetically modified crops are shifting in the US. Freelance journalist Stephen Leahy reports some of the latest concerns...

US GM Concerns Enviro-work on-going.
Implications not all known.
Assumptions need testing.
Further work needed.

REGULATORY decisions on genetically-modified crops should be made on the basis of good science not hysteria, say pro-GM advocates. But some American scientists believe the science claiming GM crops are environmentally safe is based on too many assumptions and a poor knowledge of ecology.

"When it comes to GM crops, American agriculture favours a risk-taking approach," says David Andow, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota. But the level of risk taken should be based on what is known about the potential problems and their seriousness, he maintains.

Illustrating his point Mr Andow says that since European corn borer might develop resistance to Bt maize, which has been engineered to produce a toxin from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, resistance management plans were needed.

At first researchers thought those should be 4% of the planted area, then 20%, and now some, including Mr Andow, think at least 40% of the maize should be in non-Bt varieties to prevent resistance developing for at least 20 years.

However, those judgements are based on assumptions about the level of toxin produced by GM plants, the rarity of resistance in pest populations and that pests mate randomly. The changing refugia sizes reflect the slowly growing research on the issue, he says.

Although no resistant corn borers have yet been found Mr Andow's research team has detected indications of genetic sub-populations and complex behaviour patterns. "It makes it less than clear that resistance management will work," he says.

Work at the University of Arizona adds to concerns. Pink cotton bollworms with some Bt resistance were found to take five to six days to develop into adult moths and mate, instead of the usual three or fewer, increasing the chance of resistant moths breeding and producing more resistant offspring.

"This laboratory study published in early August in Nature has yet to be verified in the field. I expect we'll find some developmental delay like that in ECB," says Mr Andow.

Assumptions need to be clearly identified and continually examined in order to be able to properly assess the level of risk involved, he concludes.

The assumption that Bt maize posed no risk to other species is also proving shaky. The potential impact of Bt on endangered species was said to have been carefully assessed by the US EPA. "Their approval reads 'there are no endangered species that eat corn'," says Philip Regal, an ecologist at the University of Minnesota.

But early this year Cornell University lab studies found 40% of American Monarch butterfly larvae eating plants coated with Bt maize pollen died. Given the widespread use of Bt maize in North America that could affect 1-15% of the continent's 100 million Monarchs.

The implications for the Karner Blue butterfly could be worse still, says Mr Andow.

Much effort and money is being spent to save this endangered species from extinction. However, it favours maize field margins. The effects on the Karner Blue are not yet known.

"There has been inadequate analysis by independent scientists of the hazards GM crops pose to the environment," says Mr Regal. "The potential hazards in this area are serious."

Assumptions need to be clearly identified and continually examined in order to be able to properly assess the level of risk involved, Mr Andow concludes.


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Date: Tue, 7 Sep 1999 10:31:16 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-7

EU's Wallstrom Backs Environmental Liability

By Michael Mann, Sept 2/99, Reuters

BRUSSELS - The European Union's future environment commissioner, Sweden's Margot Wallstrom, was cited as telling a confirmation hearing at the European Parliament Thursday for wide-ranging legislation to guarantee that companies are liable for any environmental damage caused by the products they manufactureis required.

Wallstrom was cited as telling the assembly's environment committee that the burden should be on companies to prove that products they introduce are safe, adding that the bloc needed comprehensive rules on environmental liability, adding, "I will push for comprehensive rules on liability and try to ensure the proposal is completed as quickly as possible and applied across the board."

The parliament will vote on September 15 whether to approve or reject Prodi's team en masse.


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Date: Tue, 7 Sep 1999 10:31:16 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-7

Europe moves against GM food research

The Times, Monday September 6th

SWINGEING cuts in Europe's programme to develop new genetically modified crops and plants will be announced this week. Scientists fear that the move, reflecting mounting political and public concern over genetic engineering of plants, will severely undermine Europe's dream of being a world leader in the new agricultural technology.


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Date: Tue, 7 Sep 1999 10:31:16 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-7

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/living/DailyNews/mccartney_soy990610.html

No Soy in McCartney Foods

LONDON, June 10

Prepackaged Products Drop Ingredient After EU Scare

The ready-to-eat dinners developed by the late Linda McCartney, shown here in 1995, will no longer contain genetically altered soy products.

Sir Paul McCartney stepped up his campaign against genetically modified (GM) food today by announcing that all soy had been removed from the vegetarian ready-meals made by his late wife's company.

As part of a three million pound ($4.8 million) refit, Linda McCartney Foods was also putting its stamp on the anti-GM debate with new packaging bearing the words "Say No to GMO," he said.

"Before we start messing around with nature, I think we've really got to think very hard," the former Beatle told reporters. "I hope it's not too late. I don't think it is."


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Date: Tue, 7 Sep 1999 10:31:16 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-7

New GM Warning Over Danger Chemicals Entering Food Chain

By John Ingham Environment Editor
Daily Express (UK) 7/Sept/99, Express Newspapers Ltd

A TOP food scientist yesterday plunged the safety of genetically-modified food into fresh doubt.

He warned that current tests "may be insufficient" for new crops in development. Dr Andrew Chesson told the Royal Society of Chemistry that tampering with the genetic make-up of crops could produce new plant chemicals which may not be spotted by traditional checks.

His strong comments are surprising because he played a leading role in discrediting the research of former colleague Dr Arpad Pusztai who sparked a public scare about GM food.

Dr Chesson raised particular concern about crops such as GM oilseed rape which are grown for industrial oils. The crushed seeds are fed to animals and any dangerous chemicals could therefore enter the human food chain.

He said increased safeguards and new methods of disposing of these seeds may have to be introduced. Dr Chesson, of Aberdeen's internationally- famous Rowett Research Institute, told delegates: "No technology is risk-free. We need to be looking to the future."

Dr Pusztai, a Hungarian-born world authority on plant research, lost his job at the Rowett after claiming that rats fed GM potatoes suffered ill health. The claims embroiled the Rowett in worldwide controversy.

Dr Chesson chaired the audit committee which ruled there was no evidence to support Dr Pusztai's claims. Dr Chesson is a member of the government's Advisory Committee on Animal Feeding Stuffs which holds its first meeting later this month.

Last night Dr Pusztai, who stands by his findings, welcomed Dr Chesson's "conversion". He said: "Personal considerations should not really matter. It is much better that people who are obviously in a position of power like Dr Chesson have come to realise that you cannot take this technology on trust.

"But I do not think he has travelled far enough. He talks about improving analytical procedures but if you do not know what you are looking for, you are most unlikely to find it."

Pressure group Friends of the Earth said that Dr Chesson had at last "echoed" their message. Spokesman Adrian Bebb said: "We welcome Dr Chesson's comments. It is quite clear that GM foods are being forced into the food chain without adequate safety tests. We welcome reputable scientists backing our concerns."

Greenpeace last night called for GM ingredients to be removed from the food chain because of the risks detailed by Dr Chesson.

Earlier this year he told MPs he was satisfied by the safety checks on GM crops currently being eaten in Britain. But his comments in Edinburgh yesterday raise doubts about safety checks on all GM crops.

Predicting a rapid expansion of the GM crops grown commercially he said thought should be given now to new procedures that will have to be adopted for "better safety scrutiny."He explained that when a plant is genetically modified, it may cause unexpected changes to its metabolism leading to new or differing levels of chemicals being produced. And, he said, these chemicals may pose a risk to human health. He called for new, more broad-ranging analytical techniques that do not rely on assumptions as to what is dangerous.

** 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: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 22:22:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-8

Deutsche Bank's provocative July 12, 1999 report
"Ag Biotech: Thanks, But No Thanks?"

The Deutsche Bank has given permission to Ag Biotech InfoNet to post the full text of its provocative July 12, 1999 report "Ag Biotech: Thanks, But No Thanks?"

This 26 page report sets forth the Bank's assessment of the financial prospects for life science companies that have invested heavily in seed industry mergers and biotechnology. The full report is accessible in PDF format at:

http://www.biotech-info.net/Deutsche.html
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Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 22:22:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-8

U.S. grain merchants paying up for non-GMO crops

By Doris Frankel

CHICAGO, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Grain merchants in the U.S. Midwestern Corn Belt said on Tuesday they have started paying a premium for export-bound soybeans and corn that have not been genetically altered, despite the higher storage and handling costs involved. said one grain Bids for non-GMO (genetically modified organism) cash soybeans are generally structured at about a from this year's harvest. said the merchant, who like others declined to be identified.

The value of GMO food crops is a sensitive issue as harvest approaches in the Midwest. Plantings of the crops have expanded rapidly in the past three years. About 35 percent of this year's U.S. corn crop and 55 percent of U.S. soybeans are genetically modified, industry sources estimate.

But a rising storm of protests from European consumers about potential health and environmental effects of GMO foods and crops has prompted caution by many grain exporters.

Although more than 30 GMO crops have been approved for use in the United States, the U.S. grain industry was vshaken last week when Archer Daniels Midland Co. (NYSE:ADM - news), a top exporter and processor, formally warned its grain suppliers to keep GMO crops separate from conventional ones. I have heard anywhere from 8 to 15 cents (a bushel) premium on corn and a grain merchandiser in the western Corn Belt said.


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Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 22:22:10 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-8

Eating Well – Genes are Changed, But Not the Label

By Marian Burros, The New York Times, September 8, 1999

According to this story, Americans have so far been slow to anger at the prospect of genetically engineered crops, and one reason may be that most of them don't have a clue that many foods are already being made with genetically engineered ingredients: no labeling is required in this country, nor is government approval.

The story says that the September issue of Consumer Reports includes a surprising shopping list of products tested by Consumers Union that were found to contain genetically engineered soy, corn or other ingredients. Among them were three powdered baby formulas, Enfamil Prosobee soy formula, Similac Isomil soy formula and Nestle Carnation Alsoy, as well as several soy burgers, including Boca Burger, Chef Max's Favorite, Morningstar Farms Better 'n Burgers and Green Giant Harvest Burgers. Ovaltine Malt powdered beverage mix, Bac-Os Bacon Flavor bits, Bravos Tortilla Chips Nacho Nacho, Old El Paso 12 taco shells and Jiffy Corn muffin mix also tested positive for genetically altered ingredients.

Consumers Union said it tested breakfast cereals and cooking oils too, but that the results were inconclusive. It also reported that 60 percent of all hard-cheese products are made with a biotech version of rennet, the enzyme from calves' stomachs. And it analyzed McDonald's McVeggie Burgers, sold in some of the chain's New York City restaurants, which also tested positive.

Consumers Union was cited as saying it chose to test foods that were likely to include genetically altered ingredients; the testing analyzed the DNA makeup of those foods. The story adds that corn, potatoes, squash, papayas, soybeans and canola are among the bioengineered crops already on the market, and that all a company has to do to grow bioengineered products is certify to the Agriculture Department that it will take safety precautions.

Because, the story says, so few safety studies have been done, there is no evidence that genetically engineered food now on the market is unsafe to eat.

The environmental concern has led to protests like one in Maine, in which a group calling itself Seeds of Resistance claimed responsibility for cutting down 1,000 stalks of genetically engineered corn in an experimental field hear Bangor.

But the big issue, as Consumer Reports emphasized, is whether consumers should be informed when bioengineered ingredients are used, so they can decide whether to avoid them.

A recent survey by the International Food Information Council found that 71 percent of consumers in this country rated themselves as poorly informed about food biotechnology. (Only 2 to 3 percent thought soybeans are genetically engineered, for instance.) But when they do know, the story says, they often act. After bovine growth hormone was approved in 1993 to increase milk production, sales of organic milk skyrocketed, and last year they doubled. That still represents only 0.3 percent of the $75 billion dairy market, but analysts say the figure could reach 2 percent by 2005. Between 10 and 30 percent of the nation's dairy cows have been injected with the gene-altered hormone rBGH.

Fears about genetically modified corn were raised last spring when it was reported that pollen from the new crop killed monarch butterfly larvae in a laboratory experiment. The story says that entomologists at Iowa State University are following up on the experiment in the field. Consumer Reports said that John Obrycki, one of the entomologists, reported that mortality data indicated that there is indeed a threat to the monarch. Consumer Reports, which has a circulation of 4.5 million, offered recommendations, the story says, for dealing with the issue of genetically altered foods, like requiring a federal review of the safety of such foods for humans before they are put on the market. These were some other recommendations:

  1. That safety reviews be required before farmers are allowed to plant bioengineered species, in an effort to prevent insects from developing resistance to pesticides, the creation of superweeds and harm to beneficial insects.

  2. That a single national standard be established certifying that "organic" food meets certain standards, and that genetically engineered food not be considered organic. No federal standard exists now.

  3. That the food industry be made liable for economic or biological damage resulting from genetically engineered crops.

  4. That genetically engineered foods, both domestic and imported, be labeled. As the magazine put it, "Consumers have a fundamental right to know what they eat."

In a Time magazine poll published last January, 81 percent of the respondents said genetically engineered food should be labeled. In fact, labeling can work more than one way: some dairies and tofu makers have found that they can increase sales by noting on labels that their products are free of genetically engineered ingredients.

** 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: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 12:24:51 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-10

Farmers Likely to be Targeted in Next Food Protest

By Barry Wilson Special Reports Editor
Western Producer, September 9, 1999

Coming sometime this autumn, to a food store near you... a farmer's nightmare. Demonstrators, probably some of them dressed as farm animals, will be stationed in front of stores warning consumers that the food they are planning to buy may not be safe. The target will be food products containing genetically modified material.

The argument will be that the federal government has not tested GMO products thoroughly enough or long enough to be certain they are safe from both health and environmental angles. Consumers will be told they should not trust products containing genetically modified material. Store owners and grocery distributors will be told they should remove GM products from their lineups until more is known.

In some cases, the argument also will be made that this is not an attack on farmers, because they too are victims in a world in which large corporations create GM seeds that require their plant protection products and annual repurchase of seed. The target date likely will be the Thanksgiving weekend, one of the few times in the year when the country symbolically thanks farmers for the nutritious foods they produce.

The likely result is that the image of farmers and the food industry will take a battering. The protesters will range from Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians to the National Farmers Union. It will be an attempt by biotech critics to create in Canada the kind of political debate that engulfs Europe, where consumers are highly skeptical and political decisions to ban certain GM plants and products have been taken.

Meanwhile, food industry executives and some farm leaders watch the impending storm with a mixture of apprehension and defiance. They have known it was coming for years and yet are ill-prepared. The government, which critics see as too pro-biotech to be a credible regulator, continues to claim products are safe and insists the Euroskeptics simply are looking for new ways to be trade protectionist.

After years of listening to the least of consumer demands – that GM products be labeled so consumers can choose – even a voluntary labeling code has not been announced. And the food industry has used its period of biotech grace to insist it is just a process and not a reflection on the final product, which still must go through the normal health and safety tests. It has done little to educate the public or to understand those who insist on a choice.

The first real food biotech battle was over the dairy production hormone bovine somatotropin. The milk supply, nature's "perfect food", was the most ill-advised precedent-setting battlefield ever. Through those years, consumers were largely quiet, unorganized or unengaged in the issue and the industry carried on with its assumption that biotech is just another neutral tool and eventually consumers will understand and embrace it.

Now, the opponents are waking up and farmers, many of whom are wedded to GM crops, will find themselves fighting a defensive battle. If Europe offers any lessons, it probably is a public relations battle the farm and food sectors cannot cleanly win. The customer is always right. Then what?


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 12:24:51 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-10

posted by: Mark Ritchie, President
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Ave. South Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404 USA
612-870-3400 (phone) 612-870-4846 (fax) mritchie@iatp.org    http://www.iatp.org

World Hunger: 12 Myths

by Roberto Verzola
Philippine Journal, Second Opinion, January 26, 1999

Sections:
Myth #1: There's simply not enough food
Myth #2: Nature's to blame
Myth #3: Too many mouths to feed
Myth #4: The search for food destroys the environment
Myth #5: The Green Revolution is the answer
Myth #6: Land redistribution reduces food production
Myth #7: The free market can end hunger
Myth #8: Free trade is the answer
Myth #9: Initiative for change can't come from the poor because they're ignorant and passive
Myth #10: More U.S. aid will help the hungry
Myth #11: The hungry are willing to work for low wages, which is good for rich countries.
Myth #12: Ending hunger requires restricting freedoms

This is actually the title of a book by Frances Moore Lappe and Joseph Collins of the San Francisco-based Institute for Food and Development Policy. It is one book that should be read by every policy-maker and government official, because the authors' findings explode common myths about the causes of hunger.

Here are the 12 myths, disproved by two experts who spent some 15 years studying the subject:

Myth #1: There's simply not enough food

Authors' response: There's enough in the world to feed everyone and make most people fat. The problem is that even if enough food exists, the poor are not able to purchase it. Many countries which have a high incidence of hunger are actually food exporters.

Myth #2: Nature's to blame

Authors' response: It is human and social forces that make people increasingly vulnerable to floods, droughts and other disasters. When natural disasters strike, the rich hoard it the ensure supply for themselves; speculators jack up their prices; landlords take advantage and buy up the land of the poor.

Myth #3: Too many mouths to feed

Authors' response: Surveying the globe, we can't find any correlation between population density and hunger. China has only half the cropland per person as India, yet Indians suffer widespread and severe hunger while the Chinese do not. Taiwan and South Korea each have only half the farmland per person found in Bangladesh, yet no one speaks of overcrowding causing hunger in Taiwan and South Korea. Costa Rica, with less than half of Honduras' cropped acres per person, boasts of a life expectancy – one indicator of nutrition – 14 years longer than that of Honduras and close to that of Western industrial countries. Lappe and Collins propose a different thesis: that hunger, the most dramatic symptom of pervasive poverty, and population growth occur together because they have a common cause.

Myth #4: The search for food destroys the environment

Authors' response: It is actually the destruction of the environment that is destroying sources of food. Industrial agriculture is turning once fertile lands into virtual deserts and destroying the world's rain forests.

Myth #5: The Green Revolution is the answer

Authors' response: While the Green Revolution increased the world's food production, it actually led to a higher concentration of rural wealth, increased farm expenses, and led to the long-term destruction of the soil. Yields increased but the actual returns to farmers decreased.

Myth #6: Land redistribution reduces food production

Authors' response: Small farms are on the average actually more productive than large farms. A study of 15 countries (primarily in Asia and Africa) found that per acre output on small farms can be four to five times higher than on large estates. Even comparing output only on actually cultivated land, small farms are still significantly more productive.

Myth #7: The free market can end hunger

Authors' response: The market does not respond to human needs but only to purchasing power. For the market to work, purchasing power must be dispersed. The more widely dispersed is purchasing power, the more the market will respond to actual human preferences and needs and the more power the market will have to end hunger.

Myth #8: Free trade is the answer

Authors' response: In so many Third World countries, exports have boomed but hunger has worsened. Export-oriented agriculture hurts the poor in several ways: a) it allows local economic elites to continue making profits without trying to raise the purchasing power of local people, b) it encourages local elites to produce export instead of food crops, c) it leads to subsistence wages and miserable working conditions due to intense competition among exporters, and d) it makes local staple foods more scarce and therefore more costly.

Myth #9: Initiative for change can't come from the poor because they're ignorant and passive

Authors' response: There are many examples of the poor actively trying to improve their situation; it is the obstacles to their path which must be removed.

Myth #10: More U.S. aid will help the hungry

Authors' response: Many U.S. aid policies often actually make it harder for people to feed themselves. Here's what's wrong about U.S. aid: a) U.S. assistance is highly concentrated on very few governments, b) U.S. food aid is not related to need, but to bolstering friendly governments, c) food aid can actually forestall local agricultural development, d) U.S. aid is concentrated on governments dead-set against reforms in favor of the poor, e) U.S. cuts off aid as a form of punishment, f) the biggest form of U.S. aid is military aid to arm governments against their hungry people, and g) most development aid fail to help the poor and the hungry.

Myth #11: The hungry are willing to work for low wages, which is good for rich countries.

Authors' response: Widespread hunger will threaten U.S. economic and political security. Only as the poor in the Third World achieve decent livelihoods and dignity can Americans achieve economic and national security themselves.

Myth #12: Ending hunger requires restricting freedoms

Authors' response: A global survey shows otherwise. There are many democracies which have nearly eliminated hunger. Among states where civil liberties are highly restricted, some are successfully overcoming widespread hunger, but in others, hunger is in fact deepening. There is one exception: the case where freedom refers to unlimited accumulation of private wealth. Allowing such unlimited freedom often leads to a huge disparity between rich and poor – and to widespread hunger.

It is obvious, listening to our policy-makers, that their idea of poverty and hunger is laced with many of these myths. It is why the pro-poor rhetoric is seldom matched by genuine pro-poor action.

As Lappe and Collins said, "the very way people think about hunger is the greatest obstacle to ending it."

Our policy-makers must first change the way they think about hunger, before they can even begin to end it.


Top PreviousFront Page

Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 12:24:51 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GEN9-10

With John Barry in Washington, Scott Johnsonin Montpellier, Jay Wagner in Des Moines, William Underhill in London and Elizabeth Angell in New York

Frankenstein Foods?

By Kenneth Klee, Newsweek, September 13, 1999

That's what Europeans are calling genetically modified crops that abound in America. Exporters have been forced to listen.

Don't look for the southern French town of Montredon on your globe. It isn't even on local road maps, perhaps because it has only 20 inhabitants. But one of them, a Parisian intellectual turned activist-farmer named Jos&egrav4; Bovè, may change that. He's the leader of the mobs of farmers who've trashed several McDonald's in France lately.

Last week, with 200 supporters chanting outside the jail, Bovè declined a Montpellier court's offer of bail and remained behind bars, the better to spotlight his cause. And that would be? "To fight against globalization and advance the right of people to eat as they see fit," he explained. Grievance No. 1: the U.S. desire to export genetically modified crops and foods.

So far, so French, right? But spin that same globe to Peoria, Ill., home of U.S. agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). There, even as Bovè's judges readied their decision, the self-styled "supermarket to the world" was demonstrating that the customer is, indeed, always right. In a fax to grain elevators throughout the Midwest, ADM told its suppliers that they should start segregating their genetically modified crops from conventional ones, because that's what foreign buyers want.

It didn't matter that GM crops are widely grown by U.S. farmers, and that there's no evidence that the taco chips and soda you're enjoying right now are anything worse than fattening. ADM had noticed something new sprouting under the bright, warm sun of economic interdependence: a strange hybrid of cultural and economic fears. So it decided to act before the problem got any bigger.

Public opposition to GM foods in Europe has been mounting for more than two years, especially in Britain and France. Both Prince Charles and Paul McCartney have come out against the stuff. Now the protests and the tabloid headlines about "Frankenstein Foods" have reached such a pitch that they're reverberating across the Atlantic. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, a longtime backer of biotechnology, admitted as much in a key speech in July.

So did Heinz and Gerber when they announced the same month that they'll go to the considerable trouble of making their baby foods free of genetically modified organisms. Groups such as Greenpeace, which have long fought biotech on both continents, are crowing. U.S. trade officials, who face a tough fight keeping markets open for American agricultural products, are worrying. And U.S. consumers, who have never really thought much about genetically modified foods, are just plain confused.

As well they might be, given the vastly different experiences the United States and Europe have had. In the United States, the FDA issued a key ruling in 1992 that brought foods containing GM ingredients to market quickly, and without labels. Companies such as Monsanto introduced herbicide-resistant soybeans and corn that makes its own insecticide. U.S. farmers loved the products; by 1998, 40 percent of America's corn crop and 45 percent of its soybeans were genetically modified.

In Europe, meanwhile, there was no real central regulator to green-light the technology and allay public concerns, and many more small farmers for whom biotech represented not an opportunity but a threat. Leaders have tried to steer a course between encouraging a new industry and giving the voters what they want, including labeling rules.

So, to each his own, right? Not in 1999. If Europe is selling America Chanel perfume and Land Rovers, America will want to sell Europe its soybeans and corn and maybe even its fervent faith in progress. While European biotech companies such as Novartis avoided the limelight, St. Louis-based Monsanto decided to press its case.

The timing was terrible. GM fears were already running high last summer when Monsanto ran an informational campaign; Britain's 1996 bout with mad-cow disease, though unrelated, had weakened European confidence in regulators and industrial-strength agriculture. Monsanto's PR effort only made the mood worse, as have a string of bad-news food headlines since then: dioxin-contaminated chicken in Belgium last spring; tainted Coke in Belgium and France this summer, and a punitive U.S. tariff on imports of foie gras and other products, imposed in July because Europe won't accept American hormone-fed beef.

That last, also nongenetic, dispute actually triggered the vandalism at McDonald's last month. But to many of France's famously irascible small farmers, it's all of a piece. Even among the broader public in France and Britain, the GM-foods issue seems to be intersecting with second thoughts about globalization. French farmers protest American imperialism.

But just last week their biggest customers, grocery giants Carrefour and Promodes, announced a $16.5 billion merger that will position them well in a global battle with America's Wal-Mart and put further cost pressures on farmers. Britain is a hotbed for Internet start-ups. But Brits still tune in to the BBC radio soap "The Archers" to see if young Tommy will go to jail for helping a group of eco-warriors wreck a GM-crop trial site on his uncle's land.

Would an American jury let Tommy go? Probably not. Consumers Union, whose Consumer Reports magazine features a big piece on GM foods this month, has put together an array of poll data suggesting Americans would like to see GM food labeled, but remain interested in its benefits. Of course, if Tommy's trial were held in Berkeley, Calif., where the school board has announced a ban on GM foods, he might walk.

U.S. activists, encouraged by the successes of their European brethren, hope to build on such sentiments. Some of the rhetoric is extreme, and one group or perhaps it's just one person has resorted to vandalism, trashing a test-bed of GM corn at the University of Maine last month and crediting the act to "Seeds of Resistance." But there's science going on, too.

A Cornell University study published in the journal Nature in May found that half of a group of monarch-butterfly caterpillars that ate the pollen of insecticide-producing Bt corn died after four days. What if the pollen spreads to the milkweed the monarchs lay their eggs in? "The arguments aren't enough to say we shouldn't have any biotechnology," says Rebecca Goldburg of the Environmental Defense Fund. "But they are enough to say we should be looking before we leap."

Of course we should, says Gordon Conway, president of the Rockefeller Foundation and an agricultural ecologist. Invited to speak to the Monsanto board in June, he used the forum to talk about the need to go a little slower.

But, he adds, don't worry about the monarch. Bioengineers can stop the pesticide (which is supposed to kill caterpillars; they eat the corn) from being expressed in pollen. "There are always problems in the first generation of a new technology," he says. And, he adds, successes. The foundation just unveiled a genetically modified rice grain it funded to improve nutrition in the developing world. If a shouting match over GM foods should derail such not-for-profit efforts, he says, "that would be a tragedy."

Agriculture Secretary Glickman doesn't see Americans growing as fearful as Europeans, mainly because he thinks Americans have more faith in their regulators. He also thinks that labeling of GM foods is a big part of the answer not mandatory labeling, which industry opposes and activists demand, but voluntary labeling. "I'm not going to mandate this from national government level," he told Newsweek, "but I believe that more and more companies are going to find that some sort of labeling is in their own best interest." Especially companies that want to export.

Because, as ADM showed with its heartland-stopping announcement on Thursday, it isn't only up to Americans anymore. Brian Kemp, a Sibley, Iowa, farmer, made an urgent call to his elevator on Thursday to see if it would still buy his GM corn. It will this year. "Europe is so important to the industry that it could mean we'll really have to pull back on growing GM crops in this country," says Walt Fehr, head of Iowa State University's biotech department. "Given the choice, who wants to grow GM?"

Glickman says the trade issue which is sure to generate plenty of heat at the November World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle will be a tough one to resolve. "But I think over the next five years or so we can get it done." That's a mighty slow pace, considering how quickly the industry came along in the previous half decade. But then, you generally do travel faster when you travel alone.

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


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

Our website, http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html 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.