ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

24 June 2002


1. poor harvest, intimidation and debt with Monsanto's GE seed
2. invitation to SARD EForum
4. Monsanto's stock falling


1. Indonesian farmer tells of poor harvest, intimidation and debt with Monsanto's GE seed
New Japanese rice gets cool response at Bali meeting
Christine T. Tjandraningsih
Japan Today, June 2, 2002

BALI - Japan promoted a new variety of rice called Nerica at the final preparatory committee meeting in Bali for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg later this year, a Japanese diplomat said Saturday.

Kazuo Asakai, the Japanese envoy for global environmental and economic affairs, said Japan is presenting seven projects in forestry, energy, agriculture, health, the environment, trade and science and technology to the May 27-June 7 gathering being held on the resort island.

"For agriculture, we're promoting the 'New Rice for Africa,' or 'Nerica,' a new breed of rice developed by collaboration between Africa and Asia," he told reporters.

Asakai said promoting the new rice is part of the Japanese government's involvement in sustainable development.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), however, had cool responses to the rice, saying the meeting should stipulate that transnational corporations assume responsibility if genetically-modified organisms (GMO) they produce cause losses to farmers.

The topic came up early this week when Indonesian farmer Santi broke into tears when telling delegates about her experience with genetically modified cotton Bollgard seeds during a discussion held on the sidelines of the Bali gathering.

The seeds were offered by a local subsidiary of the multinational Monsanto Co group last year, saying that by using the modified seeds, there would be a good harvest with a yield of 4 to 7 tons of cotton per hectare of land.

The company also provided the seeds and fertilizer through a credit scheme and promised to buy the cotton at a good price.

But the harvest was very poor, with farmers getting only about 70 to 120 kilograms per hectare, and the price the company paid was not as good as it promised, according to Santi, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

It caused her and other cotton farmers to be trapped in debt.

"My fellow farmers and I did not deserve this fate," she said tearfully, adding Monsanto intimidated them and blocked their access to the market.

The firm, which is based in the United States, denied the allegations.

According to some NGOs attending the discussion, the issue of GMOs was mostly ignored by the preparatory meeting.

"Currently, new transgenetic seeds are treated like conventional seeds," said Indonesian scientist Hari Kartiko of Gadjah Mada University, who cooperates with some farmers to campaign against what he sees as the commercialization of science.

"This should be a governance issue on how a government protects public interests from transnational corporations, which are protected by government officials and which hide their own interests behind research institutions," said Elenita Dano, a member of a Philippine NGO.

The Johannesburg summit, set for Aug 26-Sept 4, will take place a decade after the landmark Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, where a blueprint was agreed on for balancing the world's economic and social needs with its environmental resources. (Kyodo News)


2. Invitation to SARD EForum

From: SARD-EForum <>
Fri, 21 Jun 2002

Please forgive cross postings. Please pass along to others that may be interested. Thank you.

We are pleased to invite you to participate in the Electronic Forum on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD E-FORUM)

In preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization in collaboration with members of Major Groups invites you to participate in an Electronic Forum to promote SARD and to invite, explore, and develop SARD implementation initiatives related to: Access to Resources; SARD Good Practices, Principles, and Case Studies, and Fair Conditions for Employment in Agriculture.  The E-Forum will be implemented from June 24 to August 17, 2002.  To learn more about the SARD E-Forum, please visit the web site at and follow the link to Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development or send an email to:

To subscribe to the E-Forum, please send an email to with the following message

subscribe SARD-EForum-L

We look forward to your participation in this event!


3. Hidden biotech foods

The Peterborough Examiner, June 22, 2002 [via Agnet]

Ken Gilmour writes that in the recent Viewpoint (Examiner, June 14) Alan McHughen claims that "Biotech foods can help beat world hunger." Although it can be agreed that the world already produces enough food for everyone, and that it is poverty and the inequitable distribution of land (not an absence of genetically engineered crops) that is the reason nearly 800 million people go to sleep hungry every night, in a statement to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, delegates from 24 African states declared: "We object strongly that the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations to push a technology that is neither safe, environmentally friendly, nor economically beneficial to us."

Unfortunately, for Canadians, says Gilmour, chances are you've already tried these biotech foods - without even knowing it. Genetically engineered (GE) foods - often called "frankenfoods" - are everywhere in grocery stores. It's estimated that as much as 75 per cent of all prepackaged foods - from breakfast cereals to baby formula - may contain genetically engineered substances. But you won't see them listed among the product ingredients. GE foods aren't required to be labelled, even though no long-term tests have been done to ensure they're safe to eat.

The British Medical Association, the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists and even several scientists in Health Canada are concerned that GE foods could have serious consequences for our health in the future.

Mandatory labelling of GE foods is both a matter of consumer choice and of public health. Without adequate labelling, public health agencies may be powerless to trace health problems back to their source.

We all have a right to know what we are eating. And to know that it's safe. Let's demand long-term testing and immediate labelling of genetically engineered foods now!


4. Monsanto's stock falling

Monsanto stock value has been falling steadily in recent months, from 32.65 on 19 April to 23.84 on 19 June, just two months later.

On 21 June the stock fell further and lost 9.04% of its value in one day, falling from 22.01 to 20.02.

For more info see here:

Hope this is of interest.

Marcus Williamson

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