DAILY BRIEF - TODAY'S HEADLINES FROM THE BIOTECH FOOD DEBATE
FarmPowerNews@Starpower.net ( 9 items )
(1-a) Government Orders Test of Tainted Corn
by Marc Kaufman - Washington Post, 2 March 2001 (front page)
Agriculture officials yesterday told seed dealers to determine quickly how much of the nation's corn seed stocks contain the genetically engineered variety that prompted massive recalls of food and corn crops last year.
The Agriculture Department asked the American Seed Trade Association
to have the results by noon today, so that officials will know how much
seed corn will have to be destroyed, and thus can determine the cost and
who will pay it. Officials said yesterday the amount of seed corn
detectable amounts of a protein from the genetically modified corn is expected to be small -- less than 5 percent. They also said precautions are in place to make sure that farmers don't plant the tainted corn, known as StarLink...
Federal officials met for two hours yesterday at the Department of Agriculture
with about 50 representatives from the seed, corn and food industries to
discuss the problem. Agriculture Department spokesman Kevin Herglotz said
the meeting focused on testing procedures
and how federal agencies could help the seed industry deal with the StarLink issue. "Our goal is to do what we can to prevent it from being planted," he said.
(1-b) US industry unsure of amount of StarLink in 2001
March 1 (Reuters)
WASHINGTON, - The American Seed Trade Association said on Thursday it was unsure how much of this year's corn planting seed could be contaminated with StarLink bio-engineered corn. "At this point, we don't know the percentage of how much StarLink could be in this year's corn seed," Angela Dansby, spokeswoman for the trade group, told Reuters. "We are trying to get a hold on this."
(1-c) New Worries of Planting Altered Corn
By Elizabeth Becker - New York Times - 1 March 2001
WASHINGTON - The Agriculture Department asked today for an accounting
of the amount of seed corn tainted with a genetically engineered variety
of corn that caused a nationwide recall
of food products last year. In continuing tests at the request of the department, seed companies are finding fresh traces of StarLink, the genetically modified corn made by Aventis CropScience, in small amounts of seed meant for sale to farmers, government and industry officials said today. Angela Dansby, spokeswoman for the American Seed Trade Association, said, "Our members have been doing tests for StarLink since last fall and, yes, they have found new traces." With spring planting approaching, the government and the food industry said they had hoped to
prevent farmers from using seed corn contaminated with StarLink, which had been approved for animal feed but had not been approved human consumption because of concerns that it might cause allergic reactions. The contamination caused a costly disruption in the nation's
grain-handling system and forced the recall of more than 300 kinds of corn chips, taco shells and other foods.
(1-d) Several other Articles on Above, including 2 March Wall Street Journal. www.wsj.com (subscribers only).
(2) Maryland Farmer files Suit over GM Corn - Says
genetic mix-up hurt profits for many - . By Dennis O'Brien. Baltimore
Sun Staff, March 2, 2001
As many as 3,500 Maryland farmers have lost money on their corn crops
because genetically modified corn that was never approved for human consumption
found its way into the nation's
food supply. So says Richard Smith, a Baltimore County farmer who has filed suit in county Circuit Court seeking compensation for farmers allegedly hurt by a French pharmaceutical company's experimental corn. Smith, a Fork resident, claims in a class-action suit that the price for his 50 acres of corn was slashed because Aventis Cropscience USA Holding Inc. mishandled its genetically engineered corn... The government said yesterday that traces of StarLink were found again this winter in seed being prepared for sale to farmers, but that none of the grain has been
planted... contamination was discovered during testing seed companies did at the Agriculture Department's request, USDA officials said... Smith's suit alleges that because Aventis mishandled StarLink, "rampant commingling" occurred in silos and storage bins, "contaminating the
supply of human consumption corn and consequently severely reducing the market value." ... The suit claims that there are "thousands" of corn farmers in Maryland and it seeks to have them join Smith as plaintiffs....
(3) Paper: Can Organic Farming "Feed the World"?
and http://www.cnr.berkeley.edu/~christos/ (Christos Vasilikiotis,Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, ESPM-Division of InsectBiology, February 2001.)
Excerpt: "Do we really need to embark upon another risky technological
fix to solve the mistakes of a previous one? Instead, we should be looking
for solutions that are based on ecological
and biological principles and have significantly fewer environmental costs."
Key Words: Monsanto's Shipiro. Martina McGloughlin. Greenpeace. UN's
FAO. DuPont. Dow Chemical. Hudson Institute. Denis Avery. ABC News. Consumption
& Crop Data. Rodale Institute. Farming systems Trial. Broadbalk
experiment at Rothamsted. Studies at U.S. universities. EPA estimates.
Wallace Institute. SFAS. European experiences. Roundup
Ready. Ag Census. References. Web sites.
Text: The legacy of Industrial Agriculture. With the world population
passing the 6 billion mark last October, the debate over our ability to
sustain a fast growing population is heating up. Biotechnology advocates
in particular are becoming very vocal in their claim that there is no
alternative to using genetically modified crops in agriculture if "we want to feed the world". Actually, that quote might be true. It depends what they mean by "we." It's true if the "we can feed the world" refers to the agribusiness industry, which has brought the world to the brink of food disaster and is looking for a way out. Biotech just may be their desperation move. "We'll starve without biotech," is the title of an opinion piece by Martina McGloughlin, Director of the Biotechnology program at the University of California, Davis. Could be. Modern
industrial agricultural - which forms the foundation for biotech - ranks as such a dismal failure that even Monsanto holds them up as the evil alternative. "The commercial industrial technologies that are used in agriculture today to feed the world... are not inherently sustainable," Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro told ...
(4-a) Crop giant Aventis Admits Possibility GMO Cross-Pollination
(Austr.BroacastingCompany, 1 March)
Crop multinational, Aventis says it cannot guarantee "escaped" genetically
modified plants have not
contaminated other plant species in Tasmania. Naomi Stevens from Aventis says the company has grown GM trial crops at 49 sites in Tasmania since 1998. She says some canola crops have regrown at the company's sites and have since been removed. The regrowth breaches federal government guidelines on genetically modified organisms. Ms Stevens says she cannot rule out cross-pollination of other plant species. "We're talking about a scientific possibility for close species to cross-pollinate," she said. "If you grow them side by side they will cross-pollinate, but the main thing is that the risk has been maintained, the plants have not escaped and certainly the weeds have been controlled."
(4-b) Serve-Ag Defends Monitoring of GM Canola Trials.
Monsanto. Aventis. Tasmania. (Austr.BroadcastingCompany, 2 March)
The company which conducted genetically modified canola trials in Tasmania for Monsanto and Aventis says a monitoring strategy has been in place to manage plants germinating after harvest. On Wednesday, the Interim Office of the Gene Technology Regulator revealed two multinational companies breached guidelines for growing crops. The regulator says the sites were not properly cleaned up after harvest and GM canola had regrown.
(4-c) Minister says Discovery of GM Crops Shows Monitors Work
The Interim Office of the Gene Technology Regulator revealed two multinational
companies did not properly remove seeds from some sites in Tasmania after
harvest and GM canola had regrown. The escapes breach federal guidelines
for GMOs and one company has not ruled out
cross-contamination of other plant species The Health Minister, Michael Wooldridge, says the regulator has already commented on the claims. "It's a regulatory matter not a political matter so you would really need talk to the regulator," he said. "I think it just shows the regulatory mechanism works it was found in routine inspections."...
(5) Attack of Killer Pesticides (Feb.2001; Healthy
"The data I've seen are so incriminating, there is possibly no better evidence of the need for reducing our pesticide dependency and for consumers, more than ever, to turn to organically grown foods."
Attack of the Killer Pesticides. Eco-War Dispatches from The Doctors' Prescription for Healthy Living, February 2001, Volume-5, Number-2,www.freedompressonline.com , by David W. Steinman, Publisher.
I've been reviewing the latest Total Diet Study results for September
2000 compiled by the Food and Drug Administration. The total Diet
Study is the government's own monitoring data for pesticide and industrial
chemical residues detected in foods as found on grocers' shelves and on
dinner tables. The data I've seen are so incriminating, there is possibly no better evidence of the need for reducing our pesticide dependency and for consumers, more than ever, to turn to organically grown foods.
(6) Biotech Ads Seek Ears of President Bush, Policymakers
March 1 /PRNewswire
WASHINGTON: The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) will
begin a six month television advertising campaign this weekend on both
national and cable networks. The ads will
run from March 1 through June 30 and September 1 through October 31. The 30-second spot titled "Biotechnology: A Big Word That Means Hope," is based on themes of U.S. entrepreneurship, pioneering technology and the biotech industry's research and development of new medicines to treat illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's and
Parkinson's diseases. It will be broadcast in metropolitan Washington and Crawford, Texas, home of President George W. Bush. Shows featuring the BIO ad will include Meet the Press, Face the Nation, This Week, ABC and NBC Evening News and Fox, CNN and MSNBC political talks shows. "This campaign is modest in scope but laser-aimed at opinion makers in Washington, D.C., and the single most important opinion leader in our nation -- President Bush," said BIO President Carl B. Feldbaum.
(7) EPA Analysis of Bt Corn Flawed (PANUP, March
Ask Email: email@example.com or see: http://www.panna.org
A recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study gives high
marks to Bt corn - attributing decreased insecticide use, increased yields,
and substantial economic benefits to the new technology. By contrast, however,
a Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) critique faults
the agency's overly rosy assessment. Bt corn has been genetically engineered to produce an insecticidal toxin originally derived from a soil microorganism, Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt. The UCS analysis, prepared by Dr. Charles Benbrook, found that since the introduction of Bt corn there has actually been an increase in the percentage of U.S. acres sprayed with insecticides to
control the European corn borer (ECB), the pest targeted by the new corn. In addition, while Bt corn may appear to increase yields under certain circumstances, the UCS report concluded that economic benefits are, at best, modest. Moreover, alternative techniques can deliver comparable control at the same or less cost. The analysis concludes that "the added costs of compliance with refugia requirements and resistance management plans, field monitoring and regulatory reviews, market segregation and impacts on export demand exceed the onfarm benefits associated with the technology."
(8) Final Declaration from the Workshop on Transgenics
World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil,January 26-29, 2001
The participants in the workshop on transgenics in Porto Alegre between January 26 to 29, 2001 at the World Social Forum declare that: Transgenic crops cause irreversible genetic contamination and create resistance to weeds and insects. Additionally, the impacts on human and animal health are unknown. Transgenics are not a solution to the environmental crisis, nor do they solve the problems of hunger. .
(9) New USDA-ARS Combined Search Engine for Plants, Weeds
March 1, 2001, Up-to-date scientific information on certain plants is now available on an improved, user-friendly, multilingual web site developed by Agricultural Research Service... by botanist John H. Wiersema and colleagues... adds some important improvements to the
Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) taxonomy area, including a new web page devoted to enhancing and expanding the World Economic Plants, A Standard Reference... Several search engines help users find information using various criteria--such as genus, common name and economic use (such as food, fiber, forage, timber, fuel, spice, genetic, medical, ornamental and social uses). More than 75,000 literature citations...