ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

8 September 2002

GMWATCH NUMBER 1

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from Claire Robinson, GMWATCH editor
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Dear all

Welcome to the first GMWATCH from NGIN. GMWATCH aims to bring you the highlights of our last month's coverage of the global campaign of opposition to the imposition of genetic engineering.

GMWATCH may be of particular interest to any friends or contacts who find it hard to keep up with all the breaking news.

Hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think.

Claire Robinson <clairejr@btinternet.com>
www.ngin.org.uk

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GMWATCH  number 1 - CONTENTS
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TOPIC OF THE MONTH
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH
COMMENTARIES OF THE MONTH
QUOTES OF THE MONTH
FREEBIE OF THE MONTH
HEADLINES OF THE MONTH

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TOPIC OF THE MONTH
The Prakash Lies
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DID YOU KNOW that GM crops double production; that "most genetically-modified crops have longer shelf life"; that anti-GM activists killed 10,000 people in Orissa; that Greenpeace's anti-GM campaign is being paid for by the agrochems; that Prof Prakash is one of the world's great heroes; and Prof Prakash has absolutely no connection with Monsanto's PR operations?

NGIN has been tracking all the latest Prakash lies transmitted in the global media.

Getting down in the dirt with Prakash & Co.
http://ngin.tripod.com/290802a.htm
So who's putting the bull in the bull#%$@ awards?
http://ngin.tripod.com/290802c.htm
Prakash lies proliferate
http://ngin.tripod.com/270802e.htm
Prof Prakash - sent to lie abroad?
http://ngin.tripod.com/200802f.htm
Dear Professor Prakash...
http://ngin.tripod.com/130802a.htm
Prakash mouthing Andura's script?
http://ngin.tripod.com/270602c.htm
GM food and Orissa - the real story
http://www.gene.ch/gentech/2002/Sep/msg00050.html
Corporate Phantoms
http://ngin.tripod.com/deceit7.html
Seeds of dissent
http://ngin.tripod.com/deceit3.html

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - CONTENTS
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Trojan Horse of biotech - GM seed directive - TAKE ACTION!
GM trial crops contain illegal genes
"Accept GM or die"
GM cotton crop fails
Revolving door latest
GM crops create superweeds
Nature and Syngenta
GM vaccine down the pan
Biotech shares plummet
Monsanto's back against the wall
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The Trojan Horse of the biotech industry:
GM seed contamination directive - TAKE ACTION!
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The planned European Commission directive on GM contamination of seeds is the most urgent threat yet to the gains of the anti-GM movement in Europe. It could render GM-free crops such as corn and soy a thing of the past. The directive would allow thresholds of GM contamination within conventional (non-GM) seed lots. A farmer planting conventional maize seed next year could legally be sold up to 0.5% GM seed and not be told.

This sounds like a tiny amount, but contamination of 0.5% in a bag of maize seed translates to one in every 200 maize seeds - adding up to a commercial scale release of GM maize throughout Europe.

What makes this directive so dangerous is its strategic importance for the biotech industry. If industry can successfully contaminate the world‚s seed stocks, public acceptance of GM becomes irrelevant: the non-GM option will disappear. They will be able to pollute first and finesse the details later.

Contaminated seedstocks are currently illegal. But the passing of this directive would give the green light in Europe to proceed with seed contamination. Gregory Conko of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (a right-wing corporate-funded think tank) boasted in a recent article that if thresholds in seed can be established in law it will shut up the anti-GM folks "for good"!

While seed companies - now largely owned by the biotech giants - used to say GM contamination of seed wouldn‚t happen, they now say it‚s inevitable so we have to accept it. Curiously, though, they seem to control contamination where necessary. Since EU governments began testing imported seeds, contamination (which had been significant) dropped to under 0.1%, the lowest detectable limit. We can expect however that if a 0.3% or 0.7% threshold is legally agreed, contamination will rise to meet it. After that it will only be a matter of time before we hear that current thresholds are no longer workable and must be revised upwards.

For the UK, an unelected representative of DEFRA on the EU Seeds Committee will quietly give the go-ahead to this commercial scale release of GMOs, possibly this autumn. This gives the lie to the government‚s recently announced 'Public Debate on GM' - scheduled to finish next June. While the 'debate' has been confirmed by a minister to be no more than a PR exercise to sell GM crops to a sceptical public, approving the seed directive thresholds long before the results are in, shows the Blair government‚s contempt of the public opinion they are asking for.

ACTION ALERT: Write to DEFRA and ask them to vote for zero tolerance in the seed committee and/or ask for the directive to go before the EU parliament for proper democratic scrutiny. Send fax or e-mail to the following address no later than 12 September 2002: Mr Michael Miller, DEFRA, PVRO and Seeds Division Room 22, White House Lane, Huntingdon Road, Cambridge CB3 OLF Fax: 01223 342386
E-mail: michael.miller@defra.gsi.gov.uk

For more information on taking action in the UK, contact Five Year Freeze: 020 7837 0642 or e-mail clare@fiveyearfreeze.org

Support the EU-wide petition to Save our Seeds:
http://www.saveourseeds.org

See also: The secret plan to combine GM seeds with normal crops
http://ngin.tripod.com/210802b.htm
Here comes massive contamination... let's act!
http://ngin.tripod.com/300802b.htm
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GM trial crops contain illegal genes
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Further doubt has been cast on the validity of the UK government's GM crop testing programme after it emerged that a number of fields had been contaminated with illegal seeds since the trials began three years ago. Government inspectors visited Aventis, the biotech company which produced the seeds, in April, but failed to detect the problem. It was spotted during a routine inspection by the Scottish Agricultural College. The illegal variety of oilseed rape contains a gene modified to make it resistant to at least two types of antibiotics. The EU has called for GM plants containing antibiotic-resistant marker genes to be phased out, because of fears that animals and humans eating them could eventually develop immunity to drugs.
http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/150802c.htm
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"Accept GM or die"
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Zambia, which has suffered severe drought and faces famine, has refused GM maize food aid from the US. The Zambian government cited concerns over health risks, cross-pollination leading to loss of export markets for its own crops in GM-sceptical Europe, and loss of control over its own agriculture. The US insists it hasn‚t any non-GM maize to offer, a stance that critics dispute. Kenya and Tanzania have since offered Zambia natural maize to replace the rejected GM grain. Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi have accepted the US's GM food aid only on condition that the corn is milled first, meaning it cannot be planted and contaminate the country‚s existing food crops. http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/020802e.htm http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/040802a.htm
"Blair's chief scientific adviser denounced the United States' attempts to force the technology into Africa as a 'massive human experiment'. In a scathing attack on President Bush's administration, Professor David King also questioned the morality of the US's desire to flood genetically modified foods into African countries, where people are already facing starvation in the coming months."  The Observer, UK, Sep 1, 2002
http://www.observer.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,784262,00.html
See also:
Oxfam condemns the distribution of food aid contaminated with GMOs
http://ngin.tripod.com/170802d.htm
Another Poisoned Chalice in Africa
http://ngin.tripod.com/200802e.htm
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GM cotton crop fails
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Reports from parts of Madhya Pradesh, in the cotton-growing belt in India, indicate 100 per cent failure of the GM insect-resistant Bt cotton crop. In northern regions of the country, Bt cotton has been afflicted with the 'leaf curl virus'. Infestation with cotton bollworm, the pest that Bt cotton is designed to kill, has also been reported. Farmers complain too that Bt cotton requires far more water than non-GM cotton, a severe problem in a country afflicted by droughts. In Indonesia, the Department of Agriculture has accepted that Bt cotton yields less than another popular non-GM variety. http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/270802b.htm
See also: Karnataka bans Monsanto's Bt Cotton seeds
http://ngin.tripod.com/110802b.htm
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Revolving door latest
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Andrew Bennett, until recently director of rural livelihoods and environment for Clare Short's Department for International Development and a leading critic of India's recent citizens‚ jury or "Prajateerpu", which rejected GM and high-input agriculture in favour of sustainable methods, has joined the agri-chemical giant Syngenta - the world's second largest promoter of mechanised, high-input, anti-poor agriculture. http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/220802b.htm Former Monsanto advisor Rufus Yerxa has been appointed deputy director general of the World Trade Organisation. The appointment comes at a time when the US is manoeuvring the WTO to impose sanctions on Europe for its continued restrictions on American GM imports.
http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/210802c.htm
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GM crops create superweeds
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Weeds have become hardier by cross-breeding with GM crops, new research has shown. The findings confirm observations by farmers in the US and Canada of "superweeds" resistant to ever-stronger cocktails of weedkillers following planting of GM crops. Two teams of researchers, one working on sunflowers in the US and the other on sugar beet in France, have shown weeds and GM food crops readily swap genes. A statement from the Ohio State University research team says, "if a wild relative grows near a crop plant, chances are good that the two will crossbreed."
http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/090802b.htm
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Nature and Syngenta
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Nature and Syngenta
If you thought the journal Nature and its editor, Philip Campbell, couldn't sink any lower than over-ruling the advice of all but one of the journal's own advisers, in taking the unprecedented step of retracting Quist and Chapela's paper on Mexican maize contamination (http://ngin.tripod.com/080602b.htm), think again. The journal has now got itself involved in a crude pro-GM propaganda exercise funded by biotech giant Syngenta. The current issue of the journal contains a special Nature Insight feature on "Food and the Future". The lead opinion piece is about how GM crops are the best hope for the future. Its author is well-known pro-GM and anti-organic zealot Prof Anthony Trewavas. The final paragraph notes, "We are pleased to acknowledge the financial support of Syngenta in producing this Insight."
http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/110802a.htm
Seee also
Organic attack from Nature editor
http://ngin.tripod.com/140802c.htm
Trewavas Nature article demolished
http://ngin.tripod.com/140802e.htm
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GM vaccine down the pan
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Volunteers taking part in a clinical trial of a GM diarrhoea vaccine have been told by ACRE, the UK government's Advisory Committee on [GM] Releases to the Environment, that they can live at home and use the public sewerage system. In the past such trials in Britain have been done in "closed" conditions under tight hospital control, with volunteers' excrement being collected and treated separately. http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/010802a.htm
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Biotech shares plummet
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Human Genome Sciences is one of dozens of drug developers whose shares have plummeted in the last year amid a series of disappointing results from clinical trials. The problem is that it is difficult to pinpoint whether a gene or protein that appears to have interesting biological characteristics is in fact the cause of a disease.
http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/020802a.htm
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Monsanto's back against the wall
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Monsanto has pulled back from its plan to bring the first GM wheat to market by 2005. Wheat millers in Japan and Europe have said they do not want the GM product. Monsanto also appears to have problems selling its existing GM seeds. Monsanto is offering 2003 corn seed to Iowa farmers at fire-sale prices. http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/130802d.htm Monsanto was weakened further when the US drugs maker Pharmacia split from Monsanto just two years after buying it. Monsanto denies it is in danger of running out of cash.
http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/200802b.htm
Monsanto hasn't been helped by its own patent application admission that transgenic pest control (as in Bt corn and cotton) "may not be desirable in the long term" because it produces resistant strains and "numerous problems remain...under actual field conditions".
http://ngin.tripod.com/190802a.htm
And the rapid spread of weeds resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide is only adding to the company's woes.
http://ngin.tripod.com/230802f.htm

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COMMENTARIES OF THE MONTH
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USDA Report Exposes GM Crop Economics Myth
Mark Griffiths: analysis and links
http://ngin.tripod.com/230802a.htm
Africa's tragedy: Famine as commerce
Devinder Sharma on food aid as a corporate weapon
http://ngin.tripod.com/060802a.htm
US food industry has lost billions from GM crops
Guy Hatchard on GM's massive market failure
http://ngin.tripod.com/270802c.htm
War on the peasantry
George Monbiot on the casualties of 'development'
http://ngin.tripod.com/130802b.htm

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QUOTES OF THE MONTH
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"Just what will it take to persuade the Government that it is disastrously wrong over genetically modified crops and foods? Scarcely a week goes by without devastating new evidence emerging of threats to health and the environment, or without the disclosure of breathtaking bungles by the GM companies or the regulatory authorities... The trials for GM crops are coming to an end. This will be the moment for the Government to concede that it has followed a mistaken policy on GM crops. The time has come to abandon plans to grow genetically modified food in this country."  Leader, Independent on Sunday (London), 18 August 2002
http://argument.independent.co.uk/leading_articles/story.jsp?story=325311

"There is enormous international pressure to allow GM crops and seeds in this country... from the biotech companies. They are going through national governments and the world trade organisation and pressurising the EU."  Elliot Morley, Minister in the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
http://www.guardian.co.uk/gmdebate/Story/0,2763,776160,00.html

"Asked if people were going 'too far' by saying that gene-altered humanitarian exports were part of a strategy to spread the crops around the world, [Neil E. Harl, a professor of economics at Iowa State University] said: 'I'm not sure that is going too far.' "
http://ngin.tripod.com/020802e.htm

"If the US insists on imposing this genetically modified maize on our people, we will be justified in questioning their motive."  Editoria, Dignity in hunger, The Post, Zambia, July 30, 2002
http://www.zamnet.zm/zamnet/post/editcom.html

"We have been pushed around by the way the Americans have put pressure on this issue."  EU development commissioner, Poul Nielson on the US food aid strategy http://ngin.tripod.com/300802a.htm

"These governments have screwed up and are looking for someone to blame." Andrew Bennett, Monsanto's head biotechnologist in Johannesburg
Against the grain, The Weekend Australian, August 31, 2002

"It is highly unethical not to just cover the costs for milling. Tell me how much it costs to drop one bomb on Afghanistan. Who is starving whom here?"  Carol Thompson, a political economist at Northern Arizona University
http://ngin.tripod.com/020802e.htm

"...[African] government subsidies on maize production have been discontinued under pressure from the World Trade Organization [but] it now seems that it's OK for the starving here to eat subsidised maize, just as long as it is GM and grown in America."
Andrew Clegg, Windhoek, Namibia in a letter to New Scientist

"Beggars can't be choosers."
A State Department official, commenting on southern African nations' resistance to accepting shipments of US food aid containing genetically engineered ingredients
http://ngin.tripod.com/160802a.htm

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FREEBIE OF THE MONTH
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Terminator Seed video - free cd-rom - for details:
http://ngin.tripod.com/180802b.htm

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HEADLINES OF THE MONTH: from the NGIN archive
http://ngin.tripod.com/aug02.htm
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31 August 2002
Greenpeace, Zambia reject U.S. claim
News from Jo‚burg
30 August 2002
US presses Africa to take GM foods
Here comes massive contamination... let's act!
Africa's Response: Why Africa SHOULD Reject GE Food Aid
29 August 2002
Getting down in the dirt with Prakash & Co.
World Bank announces GM crop review
Big Macs to feed the world
So who's putting the bull in the bull#%$@ awards?
28 August 2002
Sowing doubt - Two farmers experiences with GM crops
Faulty Lessons from America
27 August 2002
Engineered corn in maize confirmed - again!
Bt cotton - bitter harvest
US food industry has lost billions from GM crops
SciDev.Net on African hunger and GM maize
Prakash lies proliferate
25 August 2002
DFID and agribiz
GM debate a sham
US launch trade war
Chorus of disapproval over GM grains
Hunger in world of plenty
23 August 2002
USDA Report Exposes GM Crop Economics Myth
Stott vs Sharma
Southern Africa and GM food. Statement of Solidarity etc.
NAS on GM animals
FAO on world ag
Government agency involvement in attacks on citizens' jury
Monsanto Wound Up/Roundup-resistant weeds
22 August 2002
Dear Professor Moses... from the Soil Association
UK Government critic of Prajateerpu joins Syngenta
The Averys on Mugabe and biotech
Kenya, Tanzania offer maize/Nature on poverty and GE
GM at the Earth Summit
21 August 2002
Syngenta tries rice in fight for GM approval
The secret plan to combine GM seeds with normal crops
Monsanto man to be WTO director-general's deputy
Golden Rice
30 tonnes of GM contaminated maize incinerated
20 August 2002
Press Release - Keeping Science Honest
Troubled Monsanto - Guardian article
Meacher's scepticism on GM crops reflects shift in opinion
Corporate capture - George Monbiot on the earth summit
Another Poisoned Chalice in Africa/Zambia Rejects GE Food Aid
Prof Prakash - sent to lie abroad?
Bt Cotton Prone to Leaf Curl Virus
19 August 2002
Monsanto admits "numerous problems" with GE pest control
Monsanto scales down
Meacher attacks US 'pressure' over GM/Labour has been bought
Crop gene Œcould weaken medicines‚
18 August 2002
'Blair is the enemy of the greens'
Terminator Seed - free video/more on acrylamide
Dozen arrested at Dorset GM trial site
17 August 2002
GM storm looms/Blair walks through biotech minefield
Acrylamide: It's toxic, it's everywhere and agbiz can't replace it
Spread of GE seeds
Oxfam condemns the distribution of food aid contaminated with GMOs
Labour must concede there is no case for GM crops
16 August 2002
Death of Frankenfoods: Nailing the Coffin Shut - BioDemocracy #40
Africa is merely a pawn/Genetically Modified Company
15 August 2002
Scientists shocked at GM gene transfer
Biotech blunder results in GM trial chaos
Ministers suspend GM crop-testing
14 August 2002
EPA may slap biotech wrists... possibly
Pharmacia spins off/Monsanto/Bayer job cuts
Synthesis/Regeneration
The other side of the story from Zambia
Organic attack from Nature editor
Corn Growers Welcome Pro-Trade USDA GMO Traceability Program
Trewavas's Nature article demolished
13 August 2002
Dear Professor Prakash...
War on the peasantry - Monbiot on the casualties of 'development'
Korea in uproar over GMO rules after trade talks with U.S.
Monsanto changes horses as GM seed biz goes lame
12 August 2002
GM trade war, or how to foster the spread of GM foods
Cloned cows born with 'human immune system'
Genetic Engineering Causes Deforestation
11 August 2002
Syngenta, Nature and Prof Trewavas
Karnataka bans Monsanto's Bt Cotton seeds
Journal article on Indian citizens jury
10 August 2002
Corn crop seized in new GE scare
'No' vote on GM canola launch
9 August 2002
Italian court probes 10 seed companies over GMOs
Super crops lead to super weeds
8 August 2002
U.S. may set guidelines for GMO-free food
6 August 2002
Africa's tragedy: Famine as commerce
US to force GE food onto the WSSD agenda
Helping GM scientists defend the indefensible
5 August 2002
World Bank/IMF forces a famine on Malawi
New Testing Policy Proposed for Altered Crops
Dignity in hunger
4 August 2002
Zimbabwe reconsiders GM grain
Rigged DEFRA Conference/Say no to seed contamination
3 August 2002
Activist Farmer Gets Out of Prison
2 August 2002
Human Nature on Collision Course with Genetic Engineering
Disillusion with genetic advances
Love amidst the mutant corn?
Re: love amidst the mutant corn?
Pusztai vs Aventis
Offer African countries the non-biotech corn
1 August 2002
ACRE approves GM diarrhoea-jab release
Burn Baby, Burn! -  Investors Flee Biotech
New Zealand adopts strict tests to keep out GM seeds
Middle-aged dirt on your large M.

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