ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

5 March 2003

TEST BABY FOOD FOR GM - EUROPE PUSHES RESEARCH

While the Food Standards Agency under Krebs promotes GM and attacks organic farming in the name of consumer protection:

1.EUROPE PUSHES RESEARCH TO TEST BABY FOOD FOR GM INGREDIENTS
2.Organically Grown Foods Higher In Cancer-fighting Chemicals
3.U.S. TO ADOPT STRICTER CANCER GUIDELINES FOR KIDS

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1.EUROPE PUSHES RESEARCH TO TEST BABY FOOD FOR GM INGREDIENTS

March 4, 2003
Agence France Presse

PARIS - European scientists are, according to the pan-European agency for promoting research, Eureka, working on a technique to test baby food for the presence of genetically-modified ingredients.

The story says that a team gathering scientists in Italy and Austria is halfway through a 3.1-million-euro (3.31-million-dollar) project to screen baby food for telltale genetic sequences pointing to GM ingredients.

The focus is on providing "fast, low-cost" testing of food suspected to contain GM soybeans and corn -- two crops that are widely sown in North America.

"European consumers are very concerned about risks derived from genetically modified foods," Eureka said.

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2.Organically Grown Foods Higher In Cancer-fighting Chemicals Than Conventionally Grown Foods

Allison Byrum, Eurekalert, March 3, 2003

Fruits and veggies grown organically show significantly higher levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants than conventionally grown foods, according to a new study of corn, strawberries and marionberries.

The research suggests that pesticides and herbicides actually thwart the production of phenolics -- chemicals that act as a plant's natural defense and also happen to be good for our health. Fertilizers, however, seem to boost the levels of anti-cancer compounds.  The findings appear in the Feb. 26 print edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society. The article was initially published Jan. 25 on the journal's Web site.

Flavonoids are phenolic compounds that have potent antioxidant activity. Many are produced in plants in response to environmental stressors, such as insects or competing plants. "If an aphid is nibbling on a leaf, the plant produces phenolics to defend itself," says Alyson Mitchell, Ph.D., a food scientist at the University of California, Davis, and lead author of the paper.

"Bitter or harsh phenolics guard the plant against these pests." The need for these natural safeguards decreases with the use of herbicides and pesticides in conventional agriculture. This decrease is reflected in the total amount of antioxidants the plants produce. "This helps explain why the level of antioxidants is so much higher in organically grown food," Mitchell says. "By synthetically protecting the produce from these pests, we decrease their need to produce antioxidants. It suggests that maybe we are doing something to our food inadvertently."

Mitchell measured antioxidants found in corn, strawberries and a type of blackberry called a marionberry. "We started with these three due to plant availability," Mitchell explains, "but we intend to widen our search to include tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and a variety of other vegetables. We expect these results to be transferable to most produce."

The investigation compared the total antioxidants found in foods grown organically (using no herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers) to foods grown sustainably (in this study fertilizers but no herbicides or pesticides were used) and conventionally (using synthetic chemicals to protect the plants and increase yield.

The results showed a significant increase in antioxidants in organic and sustainably grown foods versus conventionally grown foods. The levels of antioxidants in sustainably grown corn were 58.5 percent higher than conventionally grown corn. Organically and sustainably grown marionberries had approximately 50 percent more antioxidants than conventionally grown berries. Sustainably and organically grown strawberries showed about 19 percent more antioxidants than conventionally grown strawberries.

Antioxidant levels were highest overall in sustainably grown produce, which indicates that a combination of organic and conventional practices yields the highest levels of antioxidants. "This may reflect the balance between adequate nutrition in the form of fertilizers and external pest pressures because of the lack of pesticides and herbicides," Mitchell explains.

"Originally, the question was just really intriguing to me," says Mitchell, whose research grew naturally from a personal interest in organic foods. "I found that the higher level of antioxidants is enough to have a significant impact on health and nutrition, and it's definitely changed the way I think about my food."

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3.U.S. TO ADOPT STRICTER CANCER GUIDELINES FOR KIDS

By J.R. Pegg

WASHINGTON, DC, March 4, 2003 (ENS) - The final draft of revised U.S. federal guidelines for cancer risk assessment assume that children are more vulnerable to the effects of certain carcinogens than adults. It the first time the U.S. government has officially accepted this position.

For full text and graphics visit:
http://ens-news.com/ens/mar2003/2003-03-04-10.asp
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"There is an awful lot unknown about hazards of new [GM food] crops and until it is fully tested we should not be subjecting people to risks, least of all young children." - Dr Ian Gibson MP, former Dean of Biology at the University of East Anglia

"The fundamental problem of the way in  which GM foods have been approved is that they haven't really been tested properly at all. All that has happened is something which I would characterise as an exercise in wishful thinking." - Dr. Erik Millstone, Sussex University

"This technology is being promoted, in the face of concerns by respectable scientists and in the face of data to the contrary, by the very agencies which are supposed to be protecting human health and the environment. The bottom line in my view is that we are confronted with the most powerful technology the world has ever known, and it is being rapidly deployed with almost no thought whatsoever to its consequences." - Dr Suzanne Wuerthele, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toxicologist

"With genetic engineering familiar foods could become metabolically dangerous or even toxic. - Statement by 21 scientists including the following, Professor Brian Goodwin, Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Professor Peter Saunders and Professor Richard Lacey

more statements by scientists on GM:
http://ngin.tripod.com/foodstatements.htm
 


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