DAILY BRIEF: TODAY'S HEADLINES FROM THE BIOTECH FOOD DEBATE
FarmPowerNews@Starpower.net ( 12 Items )
(1) Listing of Current U.S. Ag Bio-tech Legislative
Actions - 3/5/2001,
Edited by Willie Vogt, E-Content Director, Farm Progress
Political activism is alive and well in statehouses around the country. What follows is a quick rundown of some pending actions that may affect your operation. This list was prepared by the MidAmerica Crop Protection Association.
Colorado - a bill has been introduced requiring foods be labeled that are genetically engineered.
Illinois - more than 6,000 bills are expected to be introduced,
including the Agriculture Producer Protection Act that requires ag production
contracts to have certain disclosures, organized in a
Indiana - a producer protection bill has been introduced along with a bill dealing with pesticides in schools.
Iowa - bills relating to biotech food labeling, contamination and penalties for disrupting research crop operations are in the works.
Kansas - several different bills are in the works including producer protection proposals and those governing genetic engineering. A state senate committee has also passed an anti crop destruction bill.
Michigan - the state is focusing on labeling for biotech content and children's health with the creation of the new Office of Children's Health Protection.
Minnesota - genetic engineering bills regarding use of biotech foods and aerial application of pesticides have been introduced.
Missouri - producer protection and biotech bills have been introduced and if passed, the biotech bill would create liability for double damages for knowing destruction or damage of crops.
Nebraska - producer protection and biotech bills are under review, and one state committee is looking at a 48-hour notice for neighbors in advance of treatment of a lawn with pesticides. That proposal is expected to die in committee, but the measure's sponsor says it'll be back next session.
North Dakota - lawmakers are considering a moratorium on the sale of genetically modified wheat seed. Other bills in the works cover such areas as pesticide fees and registration, destruction of crops and producer protection.
South Dakota - producer protection and biotech are key issues here too. A version of the producer protection provision would create a Division of Antitrust Enforcement within the state's Office of the Attorney General. Biotech bills include those against crop destruction and a bill
that expresses support for ag biotech.
Wisconsin - lobbyists are jockeying for position on changes to the Uniform Commercial Code. Currently, a lender has first claim to crops a farmer grows and a farmer must satisfy those debts until the lender takes a subordinate position. The state fertilizer and chemical association is working to insert language into the bill that would give a retailer or lender first position when lending production money. END.
(2-a) USDA delays Release of Seed Corn-Contamination
http://www.cropchoice.com news. Complete Text: (March 5 2001 --Cropchoice news)--
The USDA has delayed release of industry data that may indicate how
much corn seed contains traces of transgenic StarLink corn. The American
Trade Association planned to announce on
Friday how much of this year's seed stock had tested positive. However, at the last minute, the industry group decided to let the USDA take the lead on the issue. The U.S. government had approved StarLink, which Aventis CropScience produced and marketed, only for livestock feed.
Nonetheless, the corn that scientists suspect may be allergenic because of its Cry9c protein, contaminated the human food supply last year. A slew of food recalls followed. Japan and South Korea, who hadn't approved StarLink for any use, reacted by cutting their corn imports. Source: Doane Agricultural Services. END
(2-b) StarLink: USDA Estimates on Seed Corn Contamination
Expected Soon. Exports to Japan Down. (5 March 2001)
The USDA is expected to report early this week on the amount of seed corn that could be contaminated by StarLink. The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) polled members last week for estimates, but results of that survey were turned over to the USDA for publication, Sparks Companies told clients this morning. In related StarLink news, exporters tell Reuters that Japan's corn buying for second quarter is far behind the average pace, with only about 1/4 of their needs covered. Last year at this time, they had bought 3/4 of the quarter's supplies. Traders told Reuters importers are trying to avoid buying US corn because of the StarLink controversy. "With new strict domestic legislation against unapproved gene-altered products going into effect in April, it's not easy for us to buy U.S. corn, since we are shouldering all the risk," a trader told Reuters. "In addition, we cannot use the corn as animal feed..."
(3) Ag Bio-Tech March Report, from Virginia Tech's ISB:
1. Engineering Multiple Genes in a Single Transformation Event
2. Cross-Pollination Leads to Triple Herbicide Resistance
3. Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus As A Gene Expression Vector
4. Results of Fed.Review Released for Comment
5. Outcry Over Cry9C . StarLink time bomb.
6. The StarLink Incident: Changing the Face of the US Grain Industry
(4) China: Consumer Watchdog Concern, Government GM Labels
5 Mar 2001, Source: just-food.com editorial team
Hong Kong's Consumer Council has urged government officials that a proposed
labelling system for GM food does not go far enough, and a more comprehensive
and compulsory system is essential. Head of the research and survey division
at the watchdog body, Connie Lau Yin-hing, added that monitoring of GM
food needs to be increased and labels should be compulsory where GM content
in food products exceeds 1%. Currently, the government has proposed
a 5% threshold for labelling, and there are no requirements to label loose
foods or meal ingredients in restaurants. The deputy director of Food and
Environmental Hygiene, Dr Leung Pak-yin,
has defended these proposals saying that a 5% level would be more acceptable to the public and the industry. He added that the system would be reviewed after it has been implemented, however this could take some time as an eighteen-month grace period will first be observed during which labelling is voluntary. This idea was supported by Raymond Wong Sze-chung, associate professor of the biochemistry department at the University of Science and Technology, who said that labelling was only relevant to those consumers who are sensitive to the GM content.
(5) How StarLink, Unintended for Humans, Got Into your Food Supply
DISCOVER Vol. 22 No. 3 (March 2001),
Excerpts: "StarLink was supposed to be used only in animal feed but
showed up in taco shells and
tortillas. That prompted a massive recall of supermarket staples and unleashed a blizzard of questions about the safety of our food supply... Don't Eat Again Until You Read This. By Jeff Wheelwright. Soon it will be planting time in Iowa, and Jim and Sharon Greif, farmers in the
village of Prairiesburg, will be starting up the CornCam. Mounted on a pole near their house, the CornCam was a great success last year. Every 15 minutes it dispatched images of their field to the Internet. To the couple's surprise, they got more than 2 million hits, people logging on all summer just to watch their corn grow." Full text of this article can be found in the current issue of Discover Magazine.
(6) UN-FAO Says Organic Farming Safe, Can Reduce Hunger.
David Brough, ROME, March 6 (Reuters) -
Organic agriculture has the potential to boost the incomes and food
security of developing
countries, but distribution problems will hinder the war on hunger, says the United Nations' world food body. The Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) believes that organic farming is a safe way of growing food and is not subject to the possible health and
environmental risks associated with genetically modified (GM) foods.
(7) Biotech Wheat and Herbicide. Who Wants It?
http://www.iht.com/articles/12475.html opinion, by Heather Johnson.
International Herald Tribune, Tuesday, March 6, 2001.
Regarding the report "Biotech Wheat Is Here, but Who Wants it?" What
really struck me about the genetically modified grain that Monsanto produces
was how this is Roundup-ready wheat - designed to grow regardless of this
very harmful herbicide, which we then ingest. Not only are we being subjected
to gene-altered grains, they are laced with herbicide that Monsanto just
happens to produce.... only hope that foreign buyers of American
wheat continue to just say no, as the
American government seems to be in the pocket of Monsanto...
(8) GMOs - EU Commission Moves Against Ten Member States
CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2000, 5 March. Record Number: 16369, Category: Legislation.
The European Commission will send a second warning letter to ten member
States chastising them
for failing to implement legislation for the Directive on laboratory use of genetically modified micro-organisms. The 'reasoned opinion', which gives two months within which to adopt measures to meet their obligations under the Directive, is being sent to France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Greece, Spain and Austria. It is now more than...
(9) Ministries Clash Over Transgenic Cotton
http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm# JAKARTA, Mar 6 (IPS) -
Indonesia's Ministry of Environment has joined non-governmental organisations in opposing the use of transgenic crops in this country until these are proven to pose no harm to humans and to the environment. This pits the ministry against another government department, the Ministry of Agriculture, which earlier this month issued a degree that has opened the door for the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indonesia. The decree, issued by Agriculture Minister Bungaran Saragih Feb. 6, allows the limited release of transgenic cotton Bt DP 5690B in Sulawesi, as a quality crop genus under the name of NuCOTN 35B or Bollgard in seven regencies in South Sulawesi. Indonesia still imports cotton and textile is one of the country's major non-oil exports. The cotton plant does not grow well in Indonesia and other tropical countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand.
(10) Researchers Establish Frequency of Use of Genetically Engineered Food. http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm# 4 March 2001.
You pick up a few items for dinner. You might scan the label for calories, fat or maybe fiber. But what about the ingredients you might be eating that you can't read about? Chances are that bag of tortillas in your cart contains corn whose genes were manipulated to kill insects..
(11) GM food labels as trade barriers discussed
http://www.agribiz.com/test/News/ Canadian Press March 05, 2001MONTREAL (CP) -
Any planned labelling of genetically modified foods should not turn into a trade barrier, Canadian federal Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief said Sunday. "It needs to be done in such a way that it is not trade-inhibiting between different countries," he said after talks with Jean Glavany, France's minister of agriculture. It's better to have the labelling standards set by the World Trade Organization or some other central authority, Vanclief and Glavany said at a joint news conference. They spoke at the International Exhibition of Food, Beverages, Wines and Spirits.
(12) StarLink Discussion - Food Safety Summit Program For 2001
The third annual Food Safety Summit, sponsored by The National Food
Processors Association and Food Safety magazine, has another exciting program
of over 30 sessions and events for April 16-18 in Washington, DC. You can
see it all at http://www.foodsafetysummit.com .Over 1,500
participants will be there. We'll have over 50 different speakers from leaders like Kraft, Nabisco, Tyson, General Mills, Borden, Burger King, and others. Our keynote addresses will feature US Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman (invited) and Richard Marriott, Chairman of Host
Marriott Corporation. This year's Hot Topics include an informative, up-to-the-minute session on Mad Cow disease... We'll also feature: "Avoiding Another StarLink(R): Genetically-engineered Foods." ...(800) 746-9646 or (973) 514-5900.
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