ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  7 December 2000


Compare and contrast 2 items below:

1.    Brazil consumers fine firm for GM chicken feed
2.    US national organic standards will make clear products aren't safer!

Previously of course the US gov wanted organic certification to apply to food involving GMOs, irradiation and sewage sludge!

Quote of the week from oz's own substitute 'junkman', Barry Hearn of the anti-conservationist 'Economically Viable Alternative Greens', commenting on latest trial of GM activists in UK:

    "Okay... so people who honestly believe misanthropist greens endanger millions of humans
       with their anti-chemical rhetoric (see current moves to ban lifesaving compounds such as
        DDT) would be justified in shooting said whackos for a "positive purpose?" Didn't think
        so. Why are these dills permitted to get away with criminal damage then?"

We're sure Barry and his pals would like to shoot them!

 *  *  *
1.    Brazil consumers fine firm for GM chicken feed
by Reese Ewing,Reuters - 6 December

SAO PAULO - A Brazilian poultry firm is crying foul after a government-linked consumer watchdog group triggered the country's first fine for feeding bioengineered corn to chickens.

Brazil, now a world leader in biotechnology research, bans the commercial planting or sale of genetically modified (GM) crops, mostly corn and soybeans. And opposing interests have turned the country's attempt at regulation into a morass.

Procon, a consumer agency linked to the Justice Ministry, fined local poultry company Avipal 500,000 reais ($255,000) this week after it imported a little over 9,000 tonnes of genetically modified corn from Argentina -- although a regional federal court had approved the grain's
entrance into the country.

Argentina is the world's second-largest producer of GM crops after the United States. It shares a border with Latin America's largest agricultural power Brazil and the two nations are the leading partners in the Mercosur trade bloc.

``When there is doubt, we want to secure the safety of the consumer or at least guarantee his right to choose. At the point of purchase of the product, the chicken or the egg, the consumer must be informed of its origin,'' said Renato Dorneles, operations director at Procon's Rio Grande do Sul office.

Brazil has no legislation requiring the labeling of GM foods. A tripartite government commission drafted a law several months ago in this vein but it has been bogged down in various ministries that have been unable to agree on what quantity of GM material should mandate a warning label.

Avipal Director Jose Carlos Treiguer said none of the animal grade corn was earmarked for human consumption and only a small quantity would be used in egg production. Most of the corn was simply being stored for another company.

``We only intend to use a little of the corn for egg production, but most of it is just being held in storage. We haven't fed any of the corn to animals for slaughter, including chickens,'' said Treiguer.

After a GM grain passes through the digestive system of an animal such as a cow or chicken, there is no detectable trace of the grain's genetic material in the meat or eggs. Stomach acids break down the DNA of the grain, a spokeswoman for the world environmental group Greenpeace in
Brazil said recently.

``There is no way to detect transgenic material in meats from animals fed on GM feed. DNA codes that are exposed to acids, vinegar or high temperatures break down and it is impossible to find any trace of GM material,'' said Greenpeace's biotech specialist in Brazil Mariana Paoli.

Paoli added that Greenpeace would like to see clear labeling on meats fed on GM feeds.

Procon's Dorneles said the regional federal court based its decision to allow the importation of GM grain on a finding of the CTNBio, the government's official regulatory body on GM policy. It had found that at least 13 commercial varieties of GM corn were safe to import for animal feed in Brazil.

But this was not a sufficient guarantee for Procon, said Dorneles. Other consumer groups like Greenpeace and the local group IDEC have also questioned the authority of the CTNBio.

Unlike the other two agricultural giants in the hemisphere -- the U.S. and Argentina -- Brazil has been reluctant to embrace the biotechnological advancements of the last half decade and has tried to ban the commercial planting, importing and sale of GM crops and products.

Nonetheless, ships with GM corn from Argentina have been unloading their cargo for Brazil's thriving northeast poultry and pig industry in recent months because of a shortage in the national corn supply caused by a drought and frosts over the southern farm belt.

Moreover, the state seed association in Rio Grande do Sul - where Procon imposed its fine on Avipal -- has said for the last two years that at least 30 percent of the state's commercial soybeans have been grown from illegal GM strains, smuggled over the border from Argentina.  Procon has taken no action against the farmers.

``The state of Rio Grande do Sul is resolutely intent on transforming itself into a GM-free zone. This is a leading principal of the Rio Grande do Sul state government,'' said Dorneles.

*  *  *
2. US national organic standards will make clear products aren't safer!
Glickman:  Organic Standards Coming
The Guardian - 7 December 2000 [shortened]

WASHINGTON (AP) - National standards for organic food will be released soon, and they will
make clear that such products aren't safer or more nutritious than conventional products, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman says.

The rules will be one of Glickman's last acts in office...

The organic rules, which USDA was required to develop under a 1990 law, have been debated
inside and outside the department throughout Glickman's nearly six years in office.

The rules, which will replace a hodgepodge of state standards for organic agriculture, will
``provide some certainty for marketing these products at home and overseas,'' Glickman said.

The food industry cites consumer research to support its claim that the special USDA seal that
would go on the labels of organic products may lead consumers to believe that the organic
products are preferable to food made with conventionally grown ingredients. The seal the
department proposed this spring would include the words: ``USDA Certified Organic.''

The National Food Processors Association wants the department to add a disclaimer with wording
such as: ``This symbol does not signify that the food is superior with respect to safety, quality, or
nutrition, compared to a food that does not bear the symbol.''

Glickman didn't say how he would address the industry's concern, but said the final regulations
``will be clear that these rules are not to disparage in any way any other kinds of foods.''

Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, said she doesn't think
the USDA seal would be misleading, but doesn't think it's that important either.

``I could see USDA perhaps saying we should move away from using the emblem,'' she said.

The Agriculture Department first proposed a set of national organic standards in 1997, but
withdrew them after farmers and others in the $6 billion-a-year organic industry strongly
objected to allowing biotech crops, irradiation an sewage sludge.

``It's only the beginning of the National Organic Program,'' said DiMatteo. ``There's much more
work that will have to be done on the farm, in the processing facilities and in USDA to make sure
there is a viable organic sector in American agriculture,'' she said.

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