ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

13 December 2002

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THE WEEKLY WATCH NUMBER 10
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from Andy Rees, the WEEKLY WATCH editor
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Dear all

Welcome to WW10 from the NGIN/GMWATCH team bringing you all the latest news in brief on the GM issue.

Anyone confused by all the rules on GMOs that seem to have recently been comning out of the EU, may like to look at TOPIC OF THE WEEK for my attampted summary!

And please make sure you look at SETBACKS OF THE WEEK FOR THE GM INDUSTRY - there have been a lot of them.  Particularly inspiring has been the SEED SATYAGRAH started by the peasants, farmers, women and youth of Chhattisgarh and news of Syngenta's retraet on its planned bio-piracy.

Finally watch out for PHARMACEUTICAL CHAOS IN THE FIELDS and some amazing QUOTES OF THE WEEK.

Please spread WW10 about far and wide!

Andy <andy@gmwatch.org>
www.ngin.org.uk

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WEEKLY WATCH  number 10 - CONTENTS
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK:  GM food carcinogenic?/US backsdown on African aid/Prodigene fined/
TOPIC OF THE WEEK:  Recent new EU regulations on GMOs
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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Eating GM food could give you cancer
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Dr Stanley Ewen, a consultant histopathologist, and one of Scotland's leading experts in tissue diseases, says that the cauliflower [mosaic] virus used in GM foods could increase the risk of stomach and colon cancers. Jo Hunt, director of Highlands and Islands GM Concern, argued that long-term research was needed to establish whether GM food was safe. 'But instead of looking at the impact of GM food on people's health, the Scottish Executive has spent over £5 million on farm-scale trials.'
http://ngin.tripod.com/081202a.htm
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Prodigene fined $3 + million for Pharmageddon incident
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The USDA imposed more than $3 million in penalties on ProdiGene's contaminated soybeans, and fined the company $250,000.  ProdiGene will also have to buy the 500,000 bushels of contaminated soybeans, valued at $2.7 million, and pay to destroy them.
http://ngin.tripod.com/091202a.htm
Federal regulators also slapped the wrist of two biotechnology companies for mishandling GM corn. Mycogen Seeds, a unit of Dow AgroSciences LLC, and Pioneer Hi-Bred International agreed to pay a combined $18,700 to settle charges they failed to adequately protect their experimental crops in Hawaii from contaminating crops growing nearby.
http://www.bayinsider.com/partners/ktvu/news/ap_story.html/Technology/AP.V67
36.AP-Biotech-Contami.html
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US backing down on GM aid to Africa
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Having pushed their propaganda war to its limits (of sanity), the US is finally admitting it DOES have non-GM grain and has offered 30,000 tonnes of it as food aid.  Much more is still  available in the US.  The rest of the world are meanwhile calling for the US to provide cash - as other donors do - rather than 'tied aid' (ie US grain), so that recipient nations can buy non-GM grain from neighbouring states.
http://ngin.tripod.com/091202b.htm
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US to host high level ministerial conference on biotech
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The US announced a Ministerial-level Conference on Agricultural Science and Technology to be held June 23-25, 2003 in Sacramento, California.  This is expected to focus on how to best sell biotech and industrial agriculture to the Third World.
http://ngin.tripod.com/101202c.htm
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Scottish protestors' counter claim
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Lawyers representing a group of protesters accused of disrupting GM crop trials on a Highland farm in Scotland claimed the charges could not be upheld as the seeds were planted illegally.
http://ngin.tripod.com/091202b.htm

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TOPIC OF THE WEEK - Recent new EU regulations on GMOs
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EU ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS BACK TOUGHER GM FOOD LABELS, BUT AGREE TO UNLICENSED GM INGREDIENTS IN OUR FOOD:
EU environment ministers voted this week to strengthen the rules governing GM food. Here's a roundup of what's been agreed.  One point of particular interest is the mandatory labelling of food products derived from GM crops.  The presumption of the old system was that people only had one legitimate concern - their health.  So if GM ingredients were supposedly undetaectable in the final product, there couldn't be anything to worry about. In oil and sugar, for example, no proteins should be present, and so the GMO used cannot be detected and no labelling was required.  The new rule which requires labelling, therfore, implicitly acknowledges concern about the consequences of the process of production per se, which can include concerns about the impact of GM production on the environment and even about corporate control of the food supply and the North/South power imblance.  These are a legitimate basis for requiring information and the field-to-plate paper chain is intended to make sure consumers have this information in the choices they make.
Recently ministers have agreed to:
* extend labelling regulations to animal feed, for the first time. This will make it easier for food manufacturers to obtain milk, eggs and meat from animals fed GM-free diets.
* extend and strengthen regulations on the mandatory labelling of food products derived from GM crops.  At present, derivatives such as sugar and vegetable oils are not covered. This will make it easier for consumers to avoid food containing GM ingredients. If GMOs were used in production, they must be mentioned.
* tighten the GM threshold (the amount of GM present in a food product before GM labelling regulations apply) from 1 per cent to 0.9% on all food and feed.
Friends of the Earth Europe is broadly supportive of these rules, but regrets that the Ministers have backed a proposal to allow a  0.5% threshold for the accidental contamination of food products by unlicensed GM ingredients for a period of 3 years.  This is "completely outrageous," they said.  Friends of the Earth will call upon the European Parliament, in its final vote in the legal process, early next year, to reject proposals to allow unlicensed GMOs in our food.  Back in July 2002, a large majority of MEP's voted for zero-tolerance to unlicensed GMOs.
http://ngin.tripod.com/111202a.htm
STRENGTHENED TRACEABILITY RULES:
On Monday, EU environment ministers also strengthened traceability rules in food and animal feed.  They require ships carrying bulk grain to detail exactly what GM products they contain and where they come from.  Approval is now required by the European Parliament. Britain (needless to say) and the Netherlands voted against the rules.  Greenpeace campaigner Lorenzo Consoli said, "The new rules are meant to ensure that GMOs can be traced 'from farm to fork' and removed from the food chain if any health or environmental problems emerge."
GMO SCIENCE NETWORK LAUNCHED TO IMPROVE TRACEABILITY:
A further step towards traceability of GMOs in Europe was made this week when the European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin inaugurated a European network of GMO laboratories.
http://ngin.tripod.com/061202g.htm
EU TO CHARGE COMPANIES FOR GENE GOOD LABELLING TEST:
Firms producing GM food for sale in the EU will have to pay for testing their produce, a top EU scientist said.
http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/18918/story.htm
UK'S PODGER TO HEAD EU FSA:
The board of the new European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is nominating the chief executive of the UK's Food Standards Agency, Geoffrey Podger, as its first executive director.
http://ngin.tripod.com/111202a.htm
Hopefully, the European Parliament will take a long hard look at the proposed new head of the EFSA, given his MAFF background and the dire record of the UK's FSA, which was at the forefront of Britain's opposition to the EU's new labelling rules. For more on the FSA's disturbing agenda:
http://ngin.tripod.com/pants1.htm
UNAPPROVED GM CROPS COULD COST US FARMERS $1 BILLION:
US farmers are being advised to avoid GM crops unapproved in the EU or they could face losses of a $1 billion or more.
http://ngin.tripod.com/041202a.htm
http://ngin.tripod.com/031202d.htm

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QUOTES OF THE WEEK
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PHARMACEUTICAL CHAOS IN THE FIELDS

DOES ANYONE THINK THE US FOOD SYSTEM IS SAFE? REMEMBER 300 PHARMA TRIALS HAVE ALREADY TAKEN PLACE AT SECRET LOCATIONS IN THE US.

"The regulatory system isn't working. It looks like we've got pharmaceutical chaos in the fields.  I'm not sure that some of these people in Washington or the corporate boardrooms quite understand the threat these incidents tell us are being created for food safety and the future of American agriculture."  North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Sarah Vogel, quoted in The Three Mile Island of Biotech? The Nation, December 30, 2002
http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20021230&s=nichols

"The practical aspects of trying to keep these pharmaceutical plants separate from the regular food plants is an insurmountable problem. It just can't be done. It can't be done because of the fallibility of human beings. It can't be done because you can't control pollen flow. It can't be done because you can't control mother nature that way. And if you can't control mother nature and fallible human beings, we've come to the conclusion that you shouldn't try."
Jean Halloran of Consumers Union
http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20021230&s=nichols

"If consumers take on the belief that corn products are being contaminated with products designed for vastly different uses--like HIV vaccines or hepatitis B vaccines or any of a variety of other things that are being discussed--and if they think this contamination poses a threat to them, that's going to create the risk of a negative reaction to corn grown in the United States. And consumers are kings. If consumers start to have doubts about US corn, farm-state economies are going to be in very serious trouble."
Iowa State University agriculture professor Neil Harl
http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20021230&s=nichols

Iowa State's Harl explains that even an isolated field can be hit with a tornado or heavy winds that will drop a kernel of corn far from the test plot. "Birds, deer, runoff from fields into rivers--it's hard to list all the ways that seeds and kernels can be carried substantial distances," says Harl, who adds that because of consumer confidence and liability concerns, "ultimately, I think we are going to conclude that we have to produce a zero-contamination rule."
http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20021230&s=nichols

"What's infuriating is that there has been no public debate on whether we should be proceeding with this technology. They just went ahead and did it. We're in the middle of an official comment period on a set of guidelines -- not regulations, just guidelines -- at the same time that we are learning that we've got these problems with the testing. Doesn't that sound like we've missed a step?" Jean Halloran of Consumers Union
http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20021230&s=nichols

Be cautious when dealing with GMOs, a Zimbabwean researcher warns. "There is more haste than caution and we need to see who are the drivers of biotechnology because some of the proponents of the technology like Monsanto are interested parties," Dr Masiiwa said.
http://allafrica.com/stories/200212040459.html

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FACTS OF THE WEEK
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Earlier this year, USAID launched a $100m programme for bringing biotechnology to developing countries - yet another biotech subsidy paid by the American taxpayer.
http://ngin.tripod.com/061202a.htm

The USAID spends over $1 billion a year buying crops from US agricultural corporations and shipping them to the starving as aid.  A massive subsidy to US agribusiness, masquerading as alturism.
http://ngin.tripod.com/061202b.htm

In 2001, OECD countries had subsidised their agricultural sector to the tune of $311 billion, accounting for 31% of the gross value of agricultural output. http://ngin.tripod.com/061202e.htm

The biotech market for food and feed is today worth some $1 billion a year.
http://ngin.tripod.com/061202g.htm

About 90% of Argentina's soy crop, the world's third largest, and covering about half the size of Britain, is GM. (But see: SETBACKS TO THE INDUSTRY - BELOW)
http://ngin.tripod.com/121202a.htm

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SETBACKS TO THE GM INDUSTRY
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Stung by a growing wave of protest and criticism, the seed giant Syngenta has pulled out of the controversial research collaboration with the Indira Gandhi Agricultural University that would have given it control over a remarkable collection of rice germ plasm.  However, Syngenta is already working in collaboration with many other institutions in India.
http://ngin.tripod.com/111202b.htm

In the wake of Syngenta's attempted biopiracy, workers, peasants, women and youths from all over Chhattisgarh started the SEED SATYAGRAH to re-assert their rights over the rare varieties of rice seeds by courting arrest in large numbers.
http://ngin.tripod.com/111202d.htm

Argentina's enthusiasm for GM crops appears to be rapidly waning. After an explosion in approvals for the use of GMOs between 1996 and 1998, government authorizations for new products have fallen to virtually zero. In the past 4 years, six different agriculture secretaries have upheld the decision not to approve the herbicide resistant corn, in order to protect sales of 800,000 tonnes of the grain a year to Spain and 400,000 tonnes to Portugal.
http://ngin.tripod.com/121202a.htm

Brazil has a shortfall of 3 million tonnes of corn this year, and with exporters such as the US and Argentina growing GM crops, GM-free Brazil is considering the costlier option of importing non-GM crops from China. http://ngin.tripod.com/101202b.htm
 
Thanks to the concerted efforts of environmental groups, fishermen, legislators, and active and concerned citizens, transgenic fish are now banned from the State of Washington.

In the US, about 500 cows have been cloned, but only 1 in 10 cloned embryos yields a live birth, each at a cost of about $20,000. Many of those calves develop serious health problems.
http://ngin.tripod.com/091202a.htm

GMOs are a health hazard, reports The Times of Zambia.  GM maize can have a negative effect on local organic varieties, and all Western countries visited by the scientists confirmed that GMOs were a health hazard.
http://www.times.co.zm/news/viewnews.cgi?category=2&id=1039072891

Studies from India show that compared to non-GM cotton, Bt cotton's yields will probably be lower, pesticide usage was only marginally lower, the cotton quality was poorer, and farmers incomes were considerably less. http://ngin.tripod.com/101202a.htm

The recently-formed Kerala Karshaka Munnani, a farmers' organisation in India, plans to undertake a campaign against GM food and cash crops.
http://ngin.tripod.com/091202b.htm

Members of the Philippine Anti-GMO Alliance in Isabela  (Agmais) remained unfazed by reports that the government  has approved the commercial planting of GM Bt-corn. The  group vowed to continue its opposition to the commercial cultivation and distribution of the GMO crop.
http://ngin.tripod.com/101202d.htm

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LIES FROM THE GM LOBBY
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Greenpeace basher and industry lobbyist Patrick Moore has called environmentalists 'anti-human'.  Environmentalism according to Moore has been hijacked by extremists opposed to the intensive agriculture and biotechnology needed to feed and clothe the world's population.  For Moore's colourful and dubious history as an industry propagandist see:
http://www.fanweb.org/patrick-moore
http://ngin.tripod.com/moore.htm
http://ngin.tripod.com/moremoore.htm
and Andy Rowel's book, 'Green Backlash', Routledge 1996 (particularly ch. 7)

In letters seen by the Guardian, Professor Sir John Krebs, chairman of the FSA, has warned ministers (ie Environment Minister, Michael Meacher) not to challenge his independence adding that it would be "inappropriate" to "support any particular food promotion scheme."  Which is very rich given Sir John's staunch pro-GM stance, and rabid anti-organic views.  What's independent about Sir John? Michael Meacher has said in a letter to Sir John, "It is a fact that organic food production uses a much narrower range of pesticides and additives than conventional farming, eschews GMOs, and that there are environmental benefits." Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, said of Sir John: "The prejudice he is displaying is indefensible, given his position of being charged with the responsibility of restoring public trust in the food chain after all the previous food scares."
http://ngin.tripod.com/071102b.htm

Golden rice, touted by the biotech industry as the solution to Vitamin A deficiency in the developing world, would only provide only 8% of the RDA of Vit A for an adult; you'd have to eat about 9 kg (!) of cooked rice for 100% of the RDA.  In the case of children, golden rice would only provide an additional 12%, compared to non-GM rice.  Furthermore, the bioavailability of the Vit A would be low, and its absorption depends on other dietary factors not addressed by Golden rice.
http://ngin.tripod.com/061202e.htm

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HEADLINES OF THE WEEK: from the NGIN archive
http://ngin.tripod.com/dec02.htm
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12 December 2002
Monsanto wants to "help" Argentina
11 December 2002
Britain votes against tougher EU labels
FSA man to take over European Food Safety Authority
Syngenta pulls out of biopiracy pact
Still more fakes on the parade
Seed Satyagrah - the Great Gene Robbery
10 December 2002
India - Bt cotton fraud proved
GM food ban opens Brazil market to Chinese corn exports
US will host a high-level Ministerial conferencein 2003 on Agricultural
Science and Technology
Farmers vow to continue protests in Philippinesvs genetic corn
9 December 2002
Prodigene fined $3 million +/A cloned cow in Havana?
US surrendering to international pressure on Zambia
Kerala farmers plan campaign against GM food
Scottish & US resistance
8 December 2002
GM expert warns of cancer risk from crops
7 December 2002
THE WEEKLY WATCH NUMBER 9
FSA-Meacher in organic food row
Chapela's speech at 'Biotech: Farmers' Rights,and the University-Industrial Partnership' meeting in Berkeley
6 December 2002
US calls GM food aid refusal a crime against humanity  - African leaders should be put on trial
U.S. Policies Contribute To African Famine -Report
Corn could make cotton pests Bt resistant
Monsanto's Corn Approved for Planting in thePhilippines
Can golden rice eradicate vitamin A deficiency?
news & comment from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Pakistan and India
Harvard mouse decision has implications for worldhunger
U.S. grain exports to EU "impossible"
Japan to stop research cooperation with Monsanto
5 December 2002
USAID Center To Develop GM Crops/US food ambassadorto UN to promote GM crops

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

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