ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

31 January 2003

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THE WEEKLY WATCH NUMBER 15
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from Andy Rees, the WEEKLY WATCH editor
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Dear all

Welcome to WW15.

In the week in which GM WATCH announced its 2002 award winners for "lies, disinformation, PR chicanery and unfounded abuse", it became very clear who some of the leading candidates would be in 2003!

Andy <andy@gmwatch.org>
www.ngin.org.uk

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WEEKLY WATCH  number 15 - CONTENTS
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PANTS ON FIRE HOTSHOTS OF 2002
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - Further scandal over Government's GM 'debate'/ Call for minister to resign/Royal Society "inaccurate and misleading"/USDA put bad corn into feed chain/WFP promoting GM in Uganda/UN food agency says bananas not threatened/"Dream (non-GM) Rice" provides Vit A
TOPIC OF THE WEEK - The Bush junta's science corruption
REPORT OF THE WEEK - 1) Nanotechnology.  If you thought GM was scary, You ain't seen nothing yet.
ARTICLE OF THE WEEK - Functional foods
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
SETBACKS TO THE GM INDUSTRY
HEADLINES OF THE WEEK
SUBSCRIPTIONS

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PANTS ON FIRE HOTSHOTS OF 2002
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GM WATCH's guide to the smelters of 2002's choicest lies, disinformation, PR chicanery and unfounded abuse, including the 'Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire' awards, has been published. Read it here:
http://ngin.tripod.com/pantsoftheyearaward.htm
And see the following champions sporting their coveted awards:
*In 6th place: Gary Bivings of the Bivings Group (aka Bivings Woodell, Inc), viral marketers extraordinaire...  And Monsanto's PR firm.
*In 5th place: Andrew Natsios of USAID, turning tragedy into opportunity. The Director of the US Agency for International Development has shamelessly used the famine in southern Africa to punt biotech.
*In 4th place: The NEW Monsanto Corporation, up to its dirty old tricks
*In 3rd place: Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute, old napalm knickers
*In 2nd place: L. Val Giddings of BIO, cheerleader to the fake parade
*In 1st place: Prof CS Prakash, you'll believe a mannequin can lie!
http://ngin.tripod.com/280103a.htm   & http://ngin.tripod.com/290103c.htm
& http://ngin.tripod.com/290103f.htm

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
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BMA SLAMS "TOTALLY INACCURATE", "WRONG" BBC REPORT
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The British Medical Association has issued a press release contradicting a BBC report that it is backing away from its concerns over GMOs. The false report appears to have stemmed from Peter Lachmann, a leading Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1999 Lachmann was identified by the editor of the Lancet as the source of threats against him over his publication of Dr Pusztai's peer reviewed research -
http://ngin.tripod.com/rs.htm
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Public 'distrusts official advice'
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The British public is more likely to trust environmental and consumer groups than scientists connected to government and government advice on scientific issues, research has revealed.
http://ngin.tripod.com/300103b.htm
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Royal Society blames "media and fraud" for fall in public trust
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"The Royal Society is establishing a group to analyse the coverage of a number of issues and the public reactions to them, in an attempt to minimise the "harm" it says can occur from "inaccurate and misleading communication of the results of scientific research, particularly when they have implications for human health". According to an article in The Independent, "Among other issues, the group will examine the furore that erupted over research into genetically modified potatoes by Professor Arpad Pusztai... It will also look at the effect on public confidence of... studies by scientists in Mexico showing genes from GM crops had crossed into traditional corn plants, which were published in Nature magazine in November 2001..."
http://www.independent.co.uk/story.jsp?story=374170
The accompanying information given in the article about Pusztai's research, and the Mexican maize research, inevitably contains some of the most astounding lies and "inaccurate and misleading" information ever to be published. But what else would one expect from any article that has as its source the UK Royal Society? This is why establishment scientists are held in such contempt by the British public. As scientist Tom Wakeford has written, "British citizens are paying taxes to fund an organisation that actively promotes the interests of multinational biotech corporations, under the guise of independent science."
http://ngin.tripod.com/rsfunding.htm
It takes their money too.
http://ngin.tripod.com/rsfunding.htm
For more on the long history of spin and lies over Pusztai see: 'THE PUSZTAI AFFAIR JUST WON‚T DIE!'
http://ngin.tripod.com/250103a.htm
For a brilliant letter from Dr Pusztai on the Royal Society's abuse of peer review in its most recent report on GM, see:
http://ngin.tripod.com/300103f.htm
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Further scandal over Government's GM 'debate'
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The government was planning to publish the results of GM field trials in the Journal of Applied Ecology in the summer, but now publication has shifted to the Royal Society whose antics in relation to peer review have brought the Society into total discredit.
http://ngin.tripod.com/300103e.htm
The following letter from Pusztai to the Royal Society helps explain why this is such a disturbing development.
http://ngin.tripod.com/300103f.htm
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Call for minister to resign over suppressed report
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There were calls for Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Mike German to resign following revelations that a report he said he knew nothing about on gene spread from GM crop trials had been with the Welsh National Assembly for almost four months. German claims the report was buried in a big bundle of other documents! The same report was quietly released by the UK government on its website on Christmas Eve - 4 months after it became available.
http://ngin.tripod.com/280103c.htm
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Farm group says USDA put bad corn into feed chain
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Iowa farmers and an environmental group charged the US government with selling a problem supply of GM corn to a feed company, despite complaints that the corn had caused hormonal problems in pigs.
http://ngin.tripod.com/240103a.htm
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Italy's largest miller says 'NO' to GM wheat
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Italy's largest miller, Grandi Molini Italiani, said it will not import any genetically modified U.S. wheat, and may avoid importing wheat from countries where it is grown.
http://stlouis.bizjournals.com/stlouis/stories/2003/01/27/daily64.html
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World Social Forum blasts US 'control'
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Greenpeace activists erected a banner at Monsanto's offices during a protest against GM food at the World Social Forum (the  counter-demonstration to the World Economic Forum in Davos,  Switzerland,) in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
http://ngin.tripod.com/290103e.htm
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WFP promoting GM in Uganda, going slow in Zambia
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The U.S. dominated World Food Programme (WFP) continues to vigorously promote GM food to the hungry in Uganda, and continues its dangerous go slow in Zambia.  Zambian officials have been asking the WFP to remove GM relief food stocks for the last 10 months! Some have recently been looted in the absence of replacement GM free supplies.
http://ngin.tripod.com/290103b.htm
Now finally, after sitting on their hands for months to pile on the pressure, comes news of the WFP's biggest consignment of non-GM relief food to Zambia since the government rejected 50 000 tons of genetically modified food aid from the US government and ordered it removed from the country last August." It was actually last June that the Zambians said they did not want GM food aid. As Afrol News reported in late October 2002, "Only now, further supplies of food aid had been ordered, "expected to arrive in Zambia in December." ...The decision not to order non-GM  food aid until now has been observed as direct pressure against the Zambian government." (Continued pressure against Zambia on GM food, 30th October 2002)
http://ngin.tripod.com/forcefeed.htm
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"Dream Rice" bred traditionally - who needs genetic engineering?
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Using traditional breeding, Filipino scientists have developed a ''dream rice,'' containing over twice the normal amount of iron, along with Vitamin A and zinc. A trial of the rice carried out on 30 anaemic women in Philippines showed their health improved in less than three months.
http://ngin.tripod.com/300103a.htm
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UN FOOD AGENCY SAYS BANANAS NOT THREATENED
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The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has denied reports (put into circulation by GM-supporting scientists) that commercial bananas are on the verge of extinction. They called rather for growers to promote greater genetic diversity to protect the fruit. Eric Kueneman, head of FAO's Crop and Grassland service, was quoted as saying, "What is happening is the inevitable consequence of growing one genotype on a large scale." But FAO said small-scale farmers around the world grew a wide range of banana species not threatened by the disease currently attacking the Cavendish type sold mostly on the world's supermarket shelves. "The Cavendish banana, mostly found on western supermarket shelves... accounts for only 10 percent of bananas produced and consumed globally," FAO said. (UN FOOD AGENCY SAYS BANANAS NOT THREATENED, Agence France Presse, January 30, 2003)
Thai scientist, Benchamas Silayoi, from Kasetsart University's Faculty of Agriculture in Thailand, also took issue with the contention that GM bananas were the only way to conserve the plant species.  Huge collections of banana germplasm exist in Belgium, the Philippines and Thailand. Veerachai na Nakhon, director of the Thai Botanic Garden Organisation, also said, "It is too risky to modify the genes of edible fruit."
http://ngin.tripod.com/300103a.htm
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Another gimmick from the biotech industry
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The first tobacco CEO to acknowledge smoking is addictive is offering a new cigarette made with GM tobacco that lets smokers choose their level of nicotine addiction!
http://ngin.tripod.com/270103a.htm
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Animals none too keen on GM foods
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Monkeys at Copenhagen Zoo are going ape over organic bananas and other fruits, rejecting traditional foods left in their cages, zookeepers said. Unlike what farmers in Canada and the US report about GM crops
http://ngin.tripod.com/290103d.htm

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TOPIC OF THE WEEK - The Bush junta's corruption of scientific advice
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US ADVISORY PANELS STACKED, SCIENTISTS WARN:
American scientists are growing increasingly worried that the Bush administration is manipulating scientific advisory committees (which should provide agencies with unbiased advice, as well as peer reviewing grant proposals for scientific research) in order to further its political agenda.

The Bush administration has distorted this process by putting committee members through political litmus tests, eliminating committees whose findings looked likely to disagree with its policies, and stacking committees with individuals who have a vested interest in steering conclusions to benefit industry.

"We've seen a consistent pattern of putting people in who will ensure that the administration hears what it wants to hear," said Dr David Michaels, a research professor at George Washington University.  "That doesn't help science, and it doesn't help the country."

The Bush administration says it is doing what every other administration has done in the past!

For examples re Bush and other U.S. administrations see:
http://ngin.tripod.com/240103b.htm
THE BUSH MONSANTO CONNECTION
See: http://www.purefood.org/Monsanto/MonBushAdmin.cfm &
http://ngin.tripod.com/240103b.htm

INSIDER TRADING:
It is difficult to envision how government decisions can be made impartially and objectively when people in positions of high authority frequently have such strong ties to industry.  A brief listing of key people who have migrated between the biotech industry and the USDA, the FDA, or the EPA in recent years include Linda Fisher (EPA to Monsanto); Val Giddings (USDA to BIO), Terrence Harvey (FDA to Monsanto), Margaret Miller (Monsanto to FDA), Keith Reding (USDA to Monsanto), Michael Taylor (lawyer representing Monsanto to USDA), and Sally Van Wert (USDA to AgrEvo).  These are people with key, governmental regulatory positions, often over the very products they are/were involved with in industry.
http://ngin.tripod.com/240103b.htm

REVOLVING DOORS:
For more 'Revolving Door' names in the US see:
http://ngin.tripod.com/240103b.htm & The Edmonds Institute:
http://www.edmonds-institute.org/door.html

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REPORT OF THE WEEK
Nanobiotech Comes Alive/Greengoo Armageddon?
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Last year, companies - mainly drug, biotechnology and computer firms - spent $ 4 billion on nanotechnology.  This figure is expected to rise to $1 trillion annually by 2012.

Nanotechnology is technology on the scale of a billionth of a metre, the scale of atoms and molecules.  Nanotechnologists are trying to create 'nanobots' - tiny machines designed to make things - so small that you would need an electron microscope to see them.

Because building 'nanobots' will always be a fiddly task, it would be far more efficient if they could replicate themselves - to reproduce, like a bacteria or a virus.  But what if such a machine - a 'replicator' - were to escape out of the lab or nanofactory?

According to Jim Thomas of the Etc Group, 'No government has any regulations for this. There aren't even any laboratory protocols'.

NANOBIOTECHNOLOGY COMES ALIVE?  GREEN GOO:
The first and greatest impact of nano-scale technologies may come with the merger of nanotech and biotech - a newly recognized discipline called nanobiotechnology.  The merger of living and non-living matter will result in hybrid organisms and products that end up behaving in unpredictable and uncontrollable ways.

The biotech industry has been unable to control the unwanted escape of GMOs.  Will the nanotech industry be better able to control atomically modified organisms?  Nanobiotechnology will create both living and non-living hybrids previously unknown on earth.  The environmental and health implications of such new creations are unknown.

21% of US nanotech businesses are currently focusing on nanobiotechnology for the development of pharmaceutical products, drug delivery systems and other healthcare-related products.  Nanotech is also expected to have a major impact on food and agriculture.  The US National Science Foundation predicts that the market for nanoscale products will reach $1 trillion per annum by 2015.

No single intergovernmental body is charged with monitoring and regulating nanotechnology.  Informed international debate and assessment is urgently needed.
http://ngin.tripod.com/240103c.htm

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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK - functional foods
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Why are Nestle, Unilever and co so keen on GM? They think it could lead to virtually endless "added value" food products.  Hence, "food and biotechnology companies are already investing heavily in functional foods in their never-ending search for premium products to sell in industrialized countries that already enjoy an abundance of food"

The result, a Wall Street Journal article claims, will be foods that are genetically modified to fight cancer, enhance your mood, increase mental acuity or boost your immune system.
http://ngin.tripod.com/260103b.htm

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QUOTES OF THE WEEK
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"Ben Miflin, former director of the Institute of Arable Crops at Rothamsted, near London, who is a proponent of the potential benefits of genetic modification of crops.... argues that, under current monitoring conditions, any unanticipated health impact of such foods would need to be a 'monumental disaster' to be detectable."  Nature, Volume 398:651
http://ngin.tripod.com/250103a.htm

Julian Little, of Bayer Crop Science, said, that at some stage the big-six [Bayer CropScience, BASF, Dow, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta] had to start getting a return from Europe for their investment in GM, or switch attention completely to developing countries.  He said: "It is possible that we could pull out of Europe" to focus more on breaking into theless regulated developing world.
http://ngin.tripod.com/270103a.htm

"Monsanto is now working on Roundup-tolerant wheat.  What if it ends up on Koenig's farm, as canola did?  Just spend more to fix it?  GM products may have some benefits, but don't believe there are no drawbacks!"  - 'Genetic Modification has Drawbacks,' January 23, 2003, The Star Phoenix (Saskatoon), Canadian GM farmer.
http://ngin.tripod.com/240103a.htm

Recently, NGIN asked one of the people running the BBC's science message board how the debate following the two recent Radio 4, "Seeds of Trouble", programmes on GM, compared with other discussions on the board. "Oh," she said, "It's been very different - much nastier and it's attracted all these experts!"  For more on this, particularly the Pusztai connection, see: http://ngin.tripod.com/250103a.htm

Apparently it's not just in Iraq that the US is looking for 'smoking guns': "US officials... have accused the EU of discouraging African countries from accepting biotech food aid from the United States.  Rep. Bill Thomas... told reporters of 'very subtle threats that have been carried out by the EU in the recent drought situation' in Africa.  Thomas said he was trying to find 'some smoking guns' to help substantiate those threats." http://ngin.tripod.com/280103b.htm For the truth about what's been going on: http://ngin.tripod.com/forcefeed.htm

"As for the argument that millions of Americans have eaten GM food for 6 years with no ill effects, anyone who can think scientifically would laugh this out of court.  Food related illnesses have gone up tenfold in the US since 1994, roughly coinciding with the introduction of GM foods.  Nobody can say this is due to GM foods as no epidemiological research or monitoring has been done, but equally nobody can say it isn't.  We simply don't know because nobody is looking."  Claire , BBC's Science Message Board http://ngin.tripod.com/250103a.htm

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SETBACKS TO THE GM INDUSTRY
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Tasmania and Western Australia have already imposed a moratorium on the release of GM canola, and now the Network of Concerned Farmers is calling for other states to follow suit. They are worried about proposed voluntary guidelines that they say will be an economic burden on non-GM farmers. http://ngin.tripod.com/300103c.htm

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HEADLINES OF THE WEEK: from the NGIN archive
http://ngin.tripod.com/jan03.htm
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30 January 2003
GM bananas claims were hype
'Bananas 'can't disappear by 2003'
Public 'distrusts official advice'
Farmers ask states to put GM canola on ice
Industryfinger in cheesy GM milk
Traditionally bred rice with extra vit A, iron and zinc
Royal Society to oversee UK's GM crop trial publication
Why the Royal Society cannot be trusted
29 January 2003
U.S. "experts" to help counter "misinformation"
WFP promoting GM in Uganda, going slow in Zambia
More smell of burning trousers  Part 2:Pants: The Big Ones
Monkeys go ape - Animals go 'yuk!'
World Social Forum/'Bloody cowards'
*The* Pants on Fire Hot Shot. Part 3: Pants :Meet *Mr Big!*
28 January 2003
The smell of burning trousers - Pants on Fire Hot Shots of 2002
"Smoking guns" sought as Bush aides meet on EU biotech case
Resign call to minister + debates, events, reports
27 January 2003
New GM cigarette/GM cows make cheesy milk/ABCin Scotland
26 January 2003
Bt cotton 'success' a lie
Foods of the future tailored to fit
25 January 2003
'The Pusztai affair just won't die!'
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
THE WEEKLY WATCH NUMBER 14

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

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