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ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

9 November 2002

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THE WEEKLY WATCH NUMBER 5
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from Andy Rees, the WEEKLY WATCH editor
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Welcome to WEEKLY WATCH no. 5, bringing you all the latest news in brief.

This week we saw the emergence of a global alliance against the US's 'GM or die' stance in southern Africa, a planned ban on future GM crop trials in Scotland, and a deferral of commercialisation of the first GM food crop in India, plus a whole lot more!

Keep fighting back and feeding back!
Andy <andy@gmwatch.org>
www.ngin.org.uk

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WEEKLY WATCH  number 5 - CONTENTS
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
TOPIC OF THE WEEK
COMMENTARY OF THE WEEK
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
FACTS OF THE WEEK
SETBACKS TO THE GM INDUSTRY
LIES FROM THE GM LOBBY
HEADLINES OF THE WEEK
CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK
SUBSCRIPTIONS

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
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GM crop trials to be banned in Scotland
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Minister Ross Finnie plans a ban on trials in Scotland next year.
http://ngin.tripod.com/041102a.htm
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Major global alliance against US 'GM or die' stance
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A growing global alliance is challenging US AID and WFP aid programmes, saying, instead of GM food, aid should be given in cash to southern Africa so that local produce can be bought, supporting the regional economy rather than disrupting local markets.  The US currently uses aid to subsidise its farmers and to consolidate its biotech industry's control of global agriculture. A statement of resistance has been signed by 110 NGOs, including development, farming, environment, religious, and social justice movements, from at least 26 countries.
http://www.peoplesearthdecade.org/media/article.php?id=63
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Decision on GM mustard deferred
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The move to introduce a genetically modified mustard seed for commercial cultivation suffered a setback today with the Indian Government's Genetic Engineering Approval Committee unanimously deciding to defer a decision on the grounds that the data provided by the company, Pro-Agro, was inadequate or inconclusive
http://www.hinduonnet.com/stories/2002110804570100.htm
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India donates food aid/WFP tries to blackmail Zambia
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Curious that the World Food Programme can manage a donation of one million tonnes of food aid for Afghanistan from India's massive surpluses, yet has not requested another one million tonnes for southern Africa as that's exactly the amount needed! What makes this particularly disturbing is that the US-dominated WFP has been trying to blackmail Zambia into a climb down over GM by dangerously delaying the search for non-GM food aid, according to Afrol News.
http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/311002d.htm
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Puerto Rico to host GM 'pharm crop' trials
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Puerto Rico is to host field experiments with GM 'pharm crops', as one of four main centres in the US, along with Nebraska, Wisconsin and Hawaii. According to GE Food Alert, over 300 pharm crop field tests have been approved since 1991, in secrecy and with no public debate.
http://ngin.tripod.com/311002c.htm
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FARM - new working-farmer campaign in UK
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'Farm' is a new campaigning voice in the UK, run by working farmers for working farmers, and fighting for a viable future for family farms. http://ngin.tripod.com/061102d.htm -----------------------------------------------------------
No legal protection against GM contamination
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The Soil Association and a leading lawyer warn that the law provides no protection for farmers affected by GM contamination.
http://ngin.tripod.com/061102c.htm
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GM tank mix pesticide causes abnormalities
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Syngenta's weed killer, atrazine, appears to be causing developmental defects in a common Midwestern frog, according to evidence from field studies by UC Berkeley biologist Tyrone B. Hayes.
http://ngin.tripod.com/021102b.htm
Despite industry claims to the oppopsite, North American farmers include Atrazine in the tank mix they use on Anventis's GM crops. http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/newsnightGMmaizeatrazine.htm
Hayes is under attack by scientists with financial ties to Syngenta.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2002/10/31/MN126536.DTL

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TOPIC OF THE WEEK - The corporate take over of everything!
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*THE BEST DEMOCRACY MONEY CAN BUY - Oregon Measure 27 defeated* It took a record-setting, $5-6 million advertising blitz by the biotech industry, to defeat Measure 27 and reverse the polls that showed public support in Oregon for GM food labelling. Political consultant Mark Wiener correctly predicted the outcome, "It doesn't matter what your lead is," he said, "If somebody drops $5 million on it, it flattens out pretty good."  Revealingly, a new national poll shows 88% of Americans want GM foods labeled.
http://ngin.tripod.com/061102e.htm

*SYNGENTA RULES, OK?*
Syngenta sponsored a workshop in India which has devised proposals "expected to serve as a guideline for biotechnology regulators in developing and developed countries".
http://ngin.tripod.com/041102d.htm
CGIAR - the international alliance of agruicultural research centres -  has welcomed the Syngenta Foundation as a member of its governing board despite severe criticism from its own NGO advisory committee
http://ngin.tripod.com/051102a.htm

*EXPERTS CRITICISE UK 'PUBLIC DEBATE' OVER GM*
The UK's 'public debate' has all the appearances of a sham by a Government that seems set on GM crop commercialisation, say a leading group of independent academic experts
http://ngin.tripod.com/061102c.htm

*KREBS BRAGS HE'S TRYING TO "UNDERMINE" ORGANIC FARMING*
Sir John Krebs, the head of Britain's Food Standards Agency, is not only refusing to back a government drive to promote organic food and farming but recently brazenly admitted his purpose has been to "undermine" organic farming. The chief executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, describes Sir John's views as "extreme".
http://ngin.tripod.com/021102d.htm

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COMMENTARY OF THE WEEK
Big corporations control 'scientific' research
http://www.i-sis.org.uk/EngineeringLifeAndMind.php
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According to a brilliant new commentary on the ISIS website, every aspect of our lives is being shaped by corporate control, not least the kind of science and research that gets done and gets reported. Suppression of scientific dissent threatens science's very survival and endangers lives. It also goes against the very grain of what science is: the open, disinterested enquiry into the causes of natural processes.

Suppression is particularly fierce when it comes to getting adverse results published and the article refers to the treatment of Arpad Pusztai, together with his wife, biochemist Susan Bardocz, and collaborator, Stanley Ewen, as well as to the Berkeley plant microbiologists, Ignacio Chapela and David Quist, who uncovered the transgenic contamination of maize landraces growing in remote regions of Mexico and reported it in the journal Nature.

Governments have sold science and scientists to the corporations. In the UK, the sell-out means the BBSRC, the main funding body for Britain's academic biologists, is chaired by Peter Doyle, former executive director of the biotech corporation, Zeneca, while its main committees are stuffed with corporate proxies: Syngenta (sits on 3 committees), AstraZeneca (on 2), GlaxoSmithKline (3), Pfizer (4), Unilever (2), and so on. No wonder biotech is swallowing the lion's share of the research funding.

In the US, from 1980 to 1998, industry funding for academic research expanded at an annual rate of 8.1%, reaching $1.9 billion in 1997, nearly 8 times the level 20 years ago. Cuts in public research funding enabled corporations to buy up whole departments and institutions at bargain prices. NRC panels meet secretly in closed sessions. The NRC biotechnology panel was set up in March 1999, with disproportionate representation of experts directly linked to industry, including the executive director, who was secretly negotiating for a senior position in the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

Corporate control of biomedical research is particularly marked. In 1999, when a teenager died in a gene therapy trial, it emerged that the scientist in charge of the research, as well as the medical centre, had a financial stake in the therapy tested. Subsequent public enquiries turned up more than 650 adverse events and 7 other deaths associated with 'gene therapy' experiments, and a further litany of misconduct has since come to light.

Top journals such as Science and Nature have grown dependent on corporate advertisements and sponsorship and the effect on editorial decision making is all too plain.

READ THE FULL REPORT: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/EngineeringLifeAndMind.php
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QUOTES OF THE WEEK
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Ex biotech worker, Professor Elizabeth Abergel, said (GM) innovations came from labs staffed by people like her, who know nothing about farming work. "We never asked farmers what they need," she said recently, "we don't actually give them a choice."  And "we don't know if (GMOs) are safe environmentally," she said. "There is no transparency in (Canada's) regulatory system at all."
http://ngin.tripod.com/011102c.htm

'...[Lord Sainsbury's] figures on the number of [commercial] spin-offs [from UK universities] date to the tail end of the dot.com boom. Were these companies any good? What is the attrition rate? ...it is indisputable that there is less finance around now, and that technology has been tarnished by the deflation of the bubble. There are lots of spin-offs, for example in Cambridge. The question is where are the $1 billion companies. Not long ago we had several... There is the rub, they are not there any more. Where is the longevity?"
- "Lord Sainsbury - Master of science friction"
http://www.observer.co.uk/business/story/0,6903,815257,00.html

"Dr Roger Bate castigates the "irresponsible" government of Zambia, western NGOs and Europe's "unsubstantiated hysteria" about GM foods for putting lives at risk (Letters, November 1). The real culprits are the biotech corporations, which launched GM crops with scant concern for their safety; and the US government which allowed them to do so and now insists on giving surplus GM crops - which can't find a market - to the World Food Programme." - Julian Edwards, Director general, Consumers International, Guardian Letters, The Guardian (London) November 7, 2002

"The FDA conducts NO safety tests whatsoever of these (GM) foods.  There is 'no evidence' because neither the government nor the industry is looking for any -- don't look , don't find. No evidence of harm is not the same as evidence of no harm... With the government reporting 70 million cases of "food poisoning" per year, can it be said with any certainty that GE foods are definitely not a possible cause? How about the rise in autism, childhood attention deficit disorders, and the like -- something in the environment is likely contributing to these alarming statistics. How are we to know whether GE foods are implicated or not?"
- Philip L. Bereano, Council for Responsible Genetics.
http://ngin.tripod.com/061102a.htm

"The (Indian) administration appears anxious to please TNCs and curry favor with the money bags even if it spells ruin for this country's farmers." - from a statement by Gene Campaign (New Delhi)
http://ngin.tripod.com/011102a.htm

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FACTS OF THE WEEK
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By 2005, the Government expects up to 1/4 of the UK's farms to close or merge.  50,000 farmers could be forced to leave the land. The closure of each family farm is a nail in the coffin of the British countryside, the rural way of life, and the democracy of agriculture. http://ngin.tripod.com/061102d.htm

In the UK, sales of organic food have soared by 40% per year over the past six years.
http://ngin.tripod.com/021102d.htm

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SETBACKS TO THE GM INDUSTRY
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Politically powerful US trade groups for the food sector are lobbying federal regulators for tougher rules for bio-pharming firms.  http://ngin.tripod.com/061102a.htm

A survey shows that 66% of South Australian farmers are concerned about the market implications of GMOs, fearing export markets worth billions of dollars could be threatened. And 80% support a moratorium on the release of any GM crops.
http://ngin.tripod.com/041102b.htm

Recent polls show that between 2/3  and 3/4 of Europeans and about 1/2 of Americans oppose the use of genetic engineering in agriculture and food production. Moreover, 2/3 of Americans believe that Europeans have a right to require labeling of GM foods, even if it might reduce US food exports. http://ngin.tripod.com/011102a.htm

Introduction of GM mustard to India deferred
http://www.hinduonnet.com/stories/2002110804570100.htm

GM cotton failure haunts GM mustard proposal
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/html/uncomp/articleshow?artid=27504686

In India, the president of the influential Vidarbaha Regional People's Movement in Maharashtra, is asking the government to make good the $100 million loss to cotton farmers in the state who used GM seeds
http://ngin.tripod.com/011102a.htm

In China, the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences reported that GM cotton harms natural parasitic enemies of the bollworm and encourages other pests as well. China has refused to commercially release 46 other GM crops that it has developed, for fear of human and environmental risks. http://ngin.tripod.com/011102a.htm

Farmers' marches, protesting corporatization and GM foods, confronted CGIAR at its AGM in Manila.
http://ngin.tripod.com/021102c.htm

A GM drug, hailed as a dramatic advance in the treatment of kidney disease, has been found to cause a sudden upsurge in cases of life-threatening anemia among kidney patients around the world.
http://ngin.tripod.com/041102c.htm

GM crop trials to be banned in Scotland
http://ngin.tripod.com/041102a.htm

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LIES FROM THE GM LOBBY
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Monsanto officials told Inter Press Service (IPS) that the crop failures of Bt cotton in India were due to droughts followed by unseasonal rains, resulting in root rot. But according to newspaper reports, Bt cotton crop failures in Gujarat were due to bollworm attacks, the very thing the GM crop was supposed to be resistant to.
http://ngin.tripod.com/011102a.htm

In a press release, concerning Tyrone Hayes study on the dangers of atrazine, Alex Avery claims that removing atrazine use would harm the environment. Atrazine is a global pollutant found in groundwater, off-shore waters, the great lakes waters, and at elevated levels in rainfall.
http://ngin.tripod.com/021102b.htm

An article entitled 'Green killers and pseudo-science' - is right at the top of Monsanto India's website.  "Green fundamentalists are killers. Their opposition to genetically modified foods is killing people in famine-hit Africa today, and could threaten Indians in the future too... Like Hitler, [Greenpeace & Co.] express horror at the mixing of species. They do not want to allow people to choose what to plant or eat... they say it is up to proponents of GM foods to prove these are not unsafe. This is eerily Hitlerian too: condemn without evidence, and ask the condemned to prove their innocence."
http://ngin.tripod.com/061102b.htm

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of non-GM grain are available, both in America and elsewhere. But instead of it being sent, famine in Africa is being exploited to gain political and economic leverage for the US.
http://members.tripod.com/ngin/forcefeed.htm

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HEADLINES OF THE WEEK: from the NGIN archive
http://ngin.tripod.com/nov02.htm
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7 November 2002
WFP welcomes India into donor family - so whyignore Southern Africa?
6 November 2002
Food & Biotech Industries Feud
Bereano vs Caplan:"no one is  looking"
Green killers!
Experts criticise UK government's 'public debate' over GM crops
Law provides no protection against GM
'Farm' launched
'GM Mustard Will PlayHavoc With Indian Food Chain'
Flack sought for new front group
"Avoid a Food Fight With Europe"
The best democracy that money can buy
5 November 2002
Syngenta now on governing body of CGIAR
4 November 2002
Scotland to ban GM crop trials
80 per cent of South Australian farmers support a moratorium
Biotech drug causing deadly anemia
Bio-prospectors
Indigenous assembly condemns trade pact
Syngenta workshop sets guidelines for biotech regulators
2 November 2002
Rebellion across the Americas
UC Berkeley prof under attack
Food Scientists Face Farmer Anger
Organic farming shunned by food watchdog
1 November 2002
Despite failures and warnings, India pushes ahead with GM crops
The "Academic-Industrial-Military Complex" Engineering Life & Mind
Monsanto losses triple
Ex-biotech worker cool on GM products
NGIN's WEEKLY WATCH no. 4
31 October 2002
Monsanto posts wider loss as Roundup sales slump
US will not help Zambia while predicting increased risk of starvation
Puerto Rico - Host for 'pharm' Xperiments
DearPrime Minister...  from P V Satheesh
Lula's victory could keep Brazil GM-free
Continued pressure against Zambia on GM food- agencies sat on their hands
for months to build pressure on Zambia

FOR THE COMPLETE NGIN ARCHIVE: http://ngin.tripod.com/nginlist.htm

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CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK
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Pleae publicise the global campaign of resistance to America's 'GE or Die Ultimatum' to southern Africa. And ask more groups and NGOs to register their opposition to the way in which US AID is foisting GM crops onto Africa during a time of famine. FIND OUT MORE:
http://www.peoplesearthdecade.org/media/article.php?id=63

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