ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

24 January 2003

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THE WEEKLY WATCH NUMBER 14
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from Andy Rees, the WEEKLY WATCH editor
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Dear all

Welcome to WEEKLY WATCH from NGIN bringing you all the latest news in brief on the GM issue.

This is the week when a series of the European Union's top officials came out openly and called the U.S. administration "liars" and "immoral" over their behaviour over GM food aid to Africa.  And when NEWSWEEK ran the headline on GM, "America is isolated".

Across a broad range of issues there is mounting global opposition to U.S. lies and U.S. bully-boy tactics - and increasingly opposition is coming from within the U.S. itself.

Andy <andy@gmwatch.org>
www.ngin.org.uk
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WEEKLY WATCH  number 14 - CONTENTS
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TOPIC OF THE WEEK - Mounting global opposition to U.S. lies and bullying
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - US food aid to India stands rejected/UK GM debate fiasco/ Devon votes to go GM-free/Skylark research slated/French actors support Bove
SETBACKS TO THE GM INDUSTRY - multiple!
REPORT OF THE WEEK - What's behind Blair's gung-ho attitude on GM crops?
ARTICLE OF THE WEEK - The fantasy land of gene therapy and germline GE
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
FACTS OF THE WEEK
LIES FROM THE GM LOBBY
HEADLINES OF THE WEEK
SUBSCRIPTIONS

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TOPIC OF THE WEEK - Mounting global oppositon to American lies and bullyboy tactics
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EU COMMISSIONERS BLAST US 'LIES' IN GM FOOD ROW:
Here's the big lie: "environmental radicals and the European Union are screaming 'genetic pollution' and threatening to withdraw aid and ban agricultural exports from any countries that plant or distribute the [GM] grains."  That's from an article in the US paper The Sun Herald - just the latest variant of a lie turning up repeatedly in the US media.

The irony is, of course, that the only threats have come from the US. Remember the infamous Reuters headline, "Eat GM or starve, America tells Africa"?
http://ngin.tripod.com/forcefeed.htm

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, denying that either the EU, or member states, have ever made their aid for African countries contingent on those nations banning GM crops, EU Trade Commissioner Lamy states, "We very much regret that US officials are peddling this rumor, and even more that you gave credence to it without checking with the EU."
http://ngin.tripod.com/180103a.htm

Lamy then accused the US of using its foreign aid programme as a means to "dispose of its genetically modified crop surpluses. The simple solution is for the US to behave as a real aid donor," he said.
http://ngin.tripod.com/220103e.htm

Lamy was also quoted too by Dow Jones International News as saying: "The fact that (the US) made this link is very simply immoral. Using the starvation in some countries to accuse the EU of being luddite is purely and simply unacceptable." He once again accused the US of using its foreign aid programme as a means to "dispose of its genetically modified crop surpluses."
http://www.just-food.com/news_detail.asp?art=52895

European Development Commissioner Poul Nielson waded in with, "This very negative lie has been circulated and repeated recently by [US Trade Representative] Robert Zoellick." Nielson told reporters he wanted to propose a deal to the Americans which would create a more normal situation.  "The deal would be this: if the Americans would stop lying about us, we would stop telling the truth about them..."
http://ngin.tripod.com/200103d.htm

EU trade commissioner Lamy also hit out in an interview with Newsweek: "Zambia is a sovereign country and makes its own decisions. Zambians do not need to be heroic to assert their sovereignty... GM-free supplies are available in surplus in southern Africa. Europe's policy is to provide food aid procured in the region, rather than as a means of disposing of domestic stocks."
http://www.msnbc.com/news/861362.asp

Donald Mavunduse of ActionAid has said, "the threat of starvation should not be used as a bargaining chip for the introduction of GM technology. African governments and civil society organisations have raised legitimate concerns about GM. These concerns should be addressed, not ridden over roughshod."
http://ngin.tripod.com/forcefeed.htm

And setting the record straight on Ambassador Hall's (the US Ambassador to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies) recent atrocious remarks, organisations from all around the world sent a joint statement to 'deplore your inflammatory remarks (Reuters News Service, December 9) suggesting that African leaders who reject genetically engineered food aid should be tried "for the highest crimes against humanity in the highest courts of the world."' This is a very good read, see: http://ngin.tripod.com/180103a.htm

US GM FOOD AID TO INDIA STANDS REJECTED:
Meanwhile, India's recent official refusal of GM food aid from the US, reinforces the fact that this is an issue of global concern and not, as some in the US would have us believe, just the bubbling over of a Northern trade dispute.
http://ngin.tripod.com/180103a.htm

BRAZIL TO SEND BACK OR DESTROY US GM-CONTAMINATED CORN SHIPMENT:
Similarly, the Brazilian government has apprehended a US corn shipment this week, after traces of GM produce were found, and have demanded it be returned or incinerated.
http://ngin.tripod.com/180103b.htm

THOUSANDS PROTEST IN PHILIPPINES AGAINST APPROVAL OF BT CORN:
And in the Philippines, "In Maltang, a thousand farmers and supporters uprooted the test Bt corn in protest against the government's approval leading to GE contamination.  The suspicious circumstances behind the approval of Monsanto's Bt corn licence needs to be investigated."  - Business World (The Philippines) January 16, 2003, Monsanto's Bt corn,
http://ngin.tripod.com/180103b.htm

AUSTRALIANS PROTEST SHIPMENT OF US GM GRAIN:
And in Australia, another shipment of US GM grain was met by protests as the 19,000 tonne bulk corn shipment, destined for Victorian chicken farms, was unloaded in Melbourne.  This follows earlier protests, when the same ship unloaded at Brisbane and Newcastle.  The corn was brought to Australia because drought had affected grain harvests.
http://ngin.tripod.com/200103d.htm

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
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US GM food aid to India stands rejected
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AgBioIndia has been instrumental in forcing two US agencies to withdraw their appeal of India's decision to reject GM food aid from the US.
http://ngin.tripod.com/170103b.htm
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US embassy GM row latest
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In a letter to The Guardian (December 19 2002) concerning US food aid to Africa, Lee McClenny, the US embassy press attache in London, claimed the US had no non-GM contaminated maize available for food aid but that, in any case, what the U.S. had donated to southern Africa, had not been US maize but had been purchased from South Africa. This implied that the corn rejected by the Zambians was NOT GM corn at all!!! The press atttache has had to retract that claim while other letters to the Guardian have pointed out the ready availability of non-GM corn if the Americans were only willing to donate it.
http://ngin.tripod.com/230103c.htm
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UK GM debate fiasco
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The UK Government's proposed public debate on GM crops and food is becoming a fiasco, say Friends of the Earth, after Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Mike German called for the debate to be delayed until summer 2003, and that it should include the results of the Farm Scale Evaluations, due to be published in July.
http://ngin.tripod.com/230103b.htm
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Devon votes to go GM-free
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Devon County Council in the UK has voted to take steps to become GM-free, and has called on the Government to ban GM crops.
http://ngin.tripod.com/230103b.htm
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Skylark research gets the slating it deserves
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Analysis of the hugely hyped research published by the UK's Royal Society about how GM crops help bird populations is leading to some highly critical comment.

"This study shows that the currently recommended techniques for growing genetically modified sugar beet actually lead to fewer weeds surviving, and thus potentially less food for skylarks and other farmland birds."  - 'Food for Skylarks,' Dr Mark Avery, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, letter to The Independent
http://ngin.tripod.com/210103c.htm

"But though the Royal Society's findings beggar belief, they are not entirely surprising. The GM industry is now clearly clutching at straws: having failed to persuade the world's public that GM technology will rid the world of hunger... the agri-business lobby is now claiming its products are good for the environment. The fact remains that these latest claims are based on bad science."  - Dr Caroline Lucas MEP
http://ngin.tripod.com/210103a.htm

In an excellent analysis the Soil Association points out that contrary to what the media was told it actually states in the published research that "delays in glyphosate treament had a significant effect on final sugar yield" - the claim has been that yield was unaffected by the regime followed. If yields are hit, farmers won't follow the regime.
http://ngin.tripod.com/210103c.htm
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French actors destroy GM crop in support of Bove
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A group of French actors, scientists and politicians destroyed a field of GM rapeseed in support of anti-globalisation guru Jose Bove, who was sentenced to a prison term in November for a similar action.
http://ngin.tripod.com/170103a.htm
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Food protest turns into free speech case for Alabama women
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Arrested while demonstrating against GM foods, two women activists - Coffey, 62, and Tune, 79 - are now taking up another cause: free speech.  They say their First Amendment rights were violated by their conviction this month on trespassing charges.  "Our ability to speak out is being gradually diminished," said Tune.
http://ngin.tripod.com/200103d.htm
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Bayer poisoned students to get pesticide restrictions eased
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Gene Giant Bayer CropScience, of Germany, one of the world's biggest chemicals companies, faces an inquiry after it was found to have used students to test a "highly hazardous" pesticide linked to serious disorders.
http://ngin.tripod.com/210103e.htm
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Minister outlines Brazil's green agenda
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Marina Silva (no relation to the new president) is the new Brazilian minister of the environment.  When she was still a senator, Silva introduced a bill establishing a five-year moratorium on GM crops, allowing only experimental planting for research purposes.  The bill is yet to be voted on, but GM crops have been effectively banned while a battle is waged in the Brazilian courts.
http://ngin.tripod.com/220103c.htm
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Ugandan farmers avoid GM seeds
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In Uganda high-yield seed sales have been hit as farmers seek to avoid GM seeds that are being imported.
http://ngin.tripod.com/220103d.htm
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Study shows US government ill-equipped to judge risks of GM fish
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A study issued by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology says the US government is ill-equipped to judge the risks that GM fish pose to the environment.  The US government is currently deciding whether to give the green light to a variety of salmon genetically manipulated to grow at double the normal rate.  Pew researchers fear these new varieties could breed with wild salmon, challenging diversity.
http://ngin.tripod.com/230103d.htm

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SETBACKS TO THE GM INDUSTRY
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Nearly half of U.S. farmers surveyed said they were undecided or opposed to growing GM biopharm crops, according to a Reuters poll.
http://ngin.tripod.com/230103a.htm

In a South Australian Farmers Federation survey, 56% said they would not support commercialisation of GM crops unless no genetic pollution of non-GM crops was guaranteed.  About 80% said a moratorium on GM commercialisation was appropriate.
http://ngin.tripod.com/210103d.htm

Desperate biotech corporations are deserting academic research despite massive bailouts from our governments.  In December, Syngenta announced it intends to close its Torrey Mesa Research Institute (TMRI) by the end of January.  TMRI is barely four years old; it has led the company's efforts to sequence the rice genome.  The closure is seen by some as part of an industry-wide cut back on research funding; it is "a big retraction", according to Chris Sommerville, plant biologist in Stanford, California. One senior scientist confessed himself "flabbergasted" at the shutdown.
http://ngin.tripod.com/171102c.htm

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REPORT OF THE WEEK - What's behind Blair's gung-ho attitude on GM crops?
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Understanding Blair's drive to commercialise GM crops in the UK despite massive public opposition has to be seen in a broader context of anglo-US relations, one in which Blair is apparently prepared to drag the UK into a disastrous war despite mounting public concern. The following two articles look at this broader context and the second shows Blair is not the US's only poodle!   For two brilliant articles on the looming was with Iraq, by John le Carre and John Pilger, see:
http://ngin.tripod.com/180103c.htm

see also CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK - SAY NO TO WAR IN IRAQ - Greenpeace

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ARTICLES OF THE WEEK - The fantasy land of gene therapy and human germline therapy
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Dr Richard Nicholson, editor of The Bulletin of Medical Ethics, made this comment on the record of gene therapy to date: "Ten years ago we were being told that gene therapy was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Today its record stands at: Cures: nil. Deaths: 5.  Major adverse effects: at least a thousand."

After decades of failure, gene therapy appeared to have it's only real success - a fatal immune deficiency was apparently cured in 9 out of 11 boys in France. But now a condition resembling leukemia has developed in the second of those boys, causing the FDA to suspend 27 gene therapy trials - about 15% of the 200 current gene therapy trials, and * the 60 trials involving retroviruses.

A kind of dangerous fantasy land has overtaken many scientists and others with regard to gene therapy and human germline therapy (where genetic modifications are made to humans which will be passed on to all subsequent generations).
http://ngin.tripod.com/201102b.htm

Meanwhile an American artist, Eduardo Kac, using high-tech eugenics as an artform, commissioned a team of geneticists in France to create a transgenic rabbit named Alba, which glows in the dark, with the help of a fluorescent gene from a jellyfish.  Some artists hope this will help the debate on gene therapy, but it's far more likely that such art exhibits will legitimise the idea of a new "artful" eugenics movement.  Already, in laboratories around the world, researchers are creating new hybrid creatures that have never before existed.  Scientists have fused together the embryos of a sheep and goat, two totally unrelated species, and given birth to a new creature called a Geep, a chimeric animal with the head of a sheep and the body of a goat.  For more on such grisly experiments, see: http://ngin.tripod.com/201102c.htm

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QUOTES OF THE WEEK
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Biotechnologist Denis Murphy: "...more immediate and dramatic crop improvements [for the Third World] will probably be forthcoming by using the increasing arsenal of other (non-transgenic) biotech methods [MAS & tissue culture] to facilitate advanced breeding programs... Many dramatic yield benefits may be possible by simple improvements in management practices and by better use of existing germplasm."  - BBC's science message board - 22 Jan 2003
http://ngin.tripod.com/220103e.htm

"Blame not the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) for attempting to thrust the hazardous GM foods on the poor in India. The US policy is to be squarely blamed for such a situation!" Ashok B Sharma , Blame US Policy For Dumping GM Food Aid, Financial Express (India), January 19, 2003, http://ngin.tripod.com/200103a.htm
 
"The deal would be this: if the Americans would stop lying about us, we would stop telling the truth about them." - European Development Commissioner Poul Nielson on US lies over food aid to Africa
http://ngin.tripod.com/200103d.htm

"Zambia is a sovereign country and makes its own decisions. Zambians do not need to be heroic to assert their sovereignty... GM-free supplies are available in surplus in southern Africa. Europe's policy is to provide food aid procured in the region, rather than as a means of disposing of domestic stocks." - Pascal Lamy, the EU's trade commissioner quoted in  NEWSWEEK INTERNATIONAL, http://www.msnbc.com/news/861362.asp

"One by one, countries are coming out against crops with engineered genes.  America is isolated" - NEWSWEEK INTERNATIONAL headline
http://ngin.tripod.com/220103a.htm

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FACTS OF THE WEEK
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Bayer through its purchase of Aventis CropScience owns over half of the GM crop varieties currently seeking approval for commercial growing in the EU. Bayer is also responsible for the majority of GM field trials in the UK. It is also the world's number two pesticide producer (behind Syngenta).
http://ngin.tripod.com/210103e.htm
see also: http://ngin.tripod.com/agrevodiary.htm

Zambia exported $63 million worth of horticultural products in 1999-2000. A substantial proportion of these crops designated organic.
http://ngin.tripod.com/220103e.htm

With more than 51 million tonnes of surplus foodgrains, the Indian Government says that the money required annually to manage them equals the total annual budgetary provision for rural development, agriculture and irrigation put together.
http://ngin.tripod.com/170103b.htm

The US defence budget has been raised by another $60 billion to around $360 billion pa.
http://ngin.tripod.com/180103c.htm

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LIES FROM THE GM LOBBY
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See Topic of the Week!

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HEADLINES OF THE WEEK: from the NGIN archive
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24 January 2003
Farm group says USDA put bad corn into feed chain
Canadian GM farmer says GM has drawbacks
Advisory Panels Stacked, Scientists Warn
Nanobiotech Comes Alive!/Greygoo Armageddon
Devinder Sharma on The GM Potato Hoax
23 January 2003
US farmers hesitant to grow "bio-pharm" crops
Monsanto at key juncture as seeks CEO
GM debate fiasco/Devon votes to go GM-free
22 January 2003
America is isolated - Newsweek
Stung into action
Silva lining - the battle over GM in Brazil
Ugandan farmers fear GM seeds/bananas are not suckers
EU commissioner slams "immoral" US food aid claims
Denis Murphy on  the value of GM crops
21 January 2003
RSPB on 'skylark' research/etc.
Genetically Engineered Food Aid  - briefing by Tewolde Egziabher
'Skylark' research hit yields
Farmers silent as GM decision nears
Gene Giants ignore suffering, poison, pollute -  take action
20 January 2003
Blame US Policy For Dumping GM Food Aid
GM kids/gene therapy trials halted/germline engineering:from mice to men
Dazzled by the science  - hi-tech eugenics as a new art form
EU's Nielson blasts U.S. "lies" in GM food row
18 January 2003
EU says U.S. peddling lies about aid to Africa
Brazil to send back or destroy US GMO corn shipment/Monsantoin the
Philippines
The United States of America has gone mad/America'spoodles
17 January 2003
French actors destroy GM crops in support ofBove
US GM food aid to India stands rejected
AgBioIndiaunder attack
GM Debacle Continues
THE WEEKLY WATCH NUMBER 13

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

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CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK - SAY NO TO WAR IN IRAQ - Greenpeace
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Every day brings a new development that seems to bring the world closer to war in Iraq. Surprisingly, one major force for peace could be the United Nations Security Council. Surprisingly, because the Bush administration originally seemed to have little respect or time for the United Nations. However, polls show that the US public, like most people around the world, places more faith in the United Nations than do Bush and his oil industry supporters.

So the Bush administration may need to go back to the UN Security Council before beginning a war in Iraq. If it does, Greenpeace believes that the Security Council should say No to a war in Iraq. There are many reasons for this, but one is that Iraq is not currently threatening the United States, and under international law, the United States cannot claim legitimate self defence.

But will the UN Security Council stand up to the Bush adminstration? In this time of global crisis, please write to the UN ambassadors that sit on the Security Council and ask them to uphold international law and refuse to approve a war in Iraq. You can use this link:

http://act.greenpeace.org/ams/e?a=476&s=blue2s

To find more information and more to do, please take a look at this article: http://act.greenpeace.org/1043107438

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