DAILY BRIEF: TODAY'S HEADLINES IN THE BIOTECH FOOD DEBATE
(1-a) Unapproved StarLink Corn Found in Veggie Dogs
- AP, 8 March 2001
A variety of biotech corn that prompted nationwide recalls of
food products last fall has shown up in yet another product, Kellogg's-made
veggie corn dogs, the anti-biotech group Greenpeace said Thursday.
The frozen product, which is sold under the Morningstar Farms label,
was purchased in a Baltimore Safeway store last month and tested
positive for StarLink corn, the group said. The corn was approved only
for animal feed because of unanswered questions about its safety for humans.
The product also contained a variety of genetically engineered soy that
is approved for food use, Greenpeace said. ``Americans have asked
Kellogg's over and over to stop this genetic experiment on our food, yet
Kellogg's refuses to listen and tries to mislead consumers,'' said
Charles Margulis, a Greenpeace spokesman. Kellogg's spokeswoman Chris Ervin said the company has notified the Food and Drug Administration and was commissioning its own tests of the corn dogs. She said the corn dogs were produced Oct. 4 with corn that would have been grown in 1999. No recall is planned, she said. She denied an allegation by Greenpeace that Kellogg's has misled consumers into thinking its Morningstar Foods products contain no biotech ingredients. While Kellogg's has tried to make them biotech-free, it doesn't label them as such. The appearance of biotech soy in the corn dogs was the result of a mistake by a Kellogg's supplier, she said. Food processors have been testing for StarLink since last fall.
However, it is virtually impossible to keep some of it from getting into food products because of the way corn is intermingled, said Gene Grabowski, a spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers of America.
``Strict segregation, 100 percent segregation, is impossible with today's food supply,'' he said. Testing on the corn dogs was conducted by an Iowa lab, Genetic ID, that identified StarLink in taco shells last fall.
Greenpeace's announcement came a day after the government disclosed that as many as 400,000 bags of corn seed, or about 1 percent of the country's total supply, have been contaminated with StarLink. The estimate released by the Agriculture Department is based on a survey of seed companies that have been testing their corn for traces of the genetically engineered variety. USDA said Wednesday it had agreed to buy the contaminated seed from small seed companies at a cost of up to $20 million. Large companies, such as DeKalb and Pioneer, will bear the loss themselves.
(1-b) Kellogg's Corn -- Illegal Gene AlteredVariety
Greenpeace Calls For Immediate FDA Recall of Contaminated Product
ANAHEIM, CA (March 8, 2001) - Laboratory testing has revealed that a Kellogg's product is made with StarLink corn, a genetically altered variety...
(1-c) StarLink Corn Weighs on U.S. Farmers. Kelloggs
- StarLink Corn Dogs
By Charles Abbott - Reuters 8 March,
WASHINGTON - Foreign wariness over StarLink biotech corn -- never approved as a food -- was cutting into U.S. corn sales and depressing prices, U.S. Agriculture Department said Thursday. In a monthly report on crops and food demand worldwide, USDA shaved 50 million bushels from its forecast of corn exports ``because some importers, like Japan, are expected to minimize purchases of varieties of corn not approved for some, or all, uses,'' a description fitting
StarLink. More than 300 foods were pulled from U.S. grocery store shelves last year following the discovery that StarLink, approved only as a livestock feed, had seeped into the food chain. Tests sponsored by the environmental group Greenpeace found traces of StarLink in meat-free
corn dogs produced by a Kellogg Co. (NYSE:K - news) subsidiary, it was reported on Thursday.
(1-d) GMOs Found in Morningstar Farms Products (LA Times)
Food: Kellogg says discovery of genetically modified ingredients was an isolated incident. No decision has been made on recalls. 8 March 2001. By MELINDA FULMER, Times Staff Writer. New laboratory tests have found that veggie burgers and meat-free corn dogs made by natural foods brand Morningstar Farms contain genetically modified soy and the controversial genetically altered feed corn, StarLink, that has not been approved for human consumption. The tests, commissioned by the activist group Greenpeace, highlight the difficulty that even natural
foods companies are having in assuring customers that their products do not contain genetically modified ingredients. Kellogg Co., which bought Morningstar's parent company, Worthington Foods, in late 1999, had told customers in a string of letters and e-mails about its conversion to a soy protein that is not produced through biotechnology. Its products were not labeled as GMO-free, however. Kellogg's own tests confirmed recently that the soy protein it received from its suppliers was genetically altered. "This was an isolated incident," said Chris Ervin, a Kellogg spokeswoman. "It was a case of a supplier not providing ingredients to our specifications." Kellogg executives have yet to decide whether to recall any of the products. But they have contacted the Food and Drug Administration, which recalled hundreds of StarLink-tainted products last year and are submitting products to an independent laboratory to be tested for the controversial corn. FDA officials say they have insufficient info rmation to decide whether to
recall the products or investigate Kellogg's claims. One of the tests, conducted by Fairfield, Iowa-based Genetic ID, indicated that 1% or less of the corn in Morningstar's corn dogs is of the StarLink variety, which was approved in animal feed but never for humans for fear that the
slow-digesting proteins might cause allergic reactions.
(1-e) Greenpeace urges FDA, Kellogg to recall Corn Dogs
WASHINGTON, March 8 (Reuters)
Environmental group Greenpeace asked the Food and Drug Administration
Thursday to seek a recall of Kellogg Co. (K) vegetarian corn dogs that
allegedly contain an unapproved biotech corn. Greenpeace said it
commissioned laboratory tests that showed Morningstar Farms Meat-Free Corn
Dogs contained about 1 percent StarLink corn, a gene-spliced variety that
is banned from human food. In a letter to Bernard Schwetz, the FDA's
acting deputy commissioner, Greenpeace asked the agency to contact Kellogg
President Carlos Gutierrez and formally request the company initiate a
recall. If Kellogg refuses to launch a recall, Greenpeace urged the FDA
to seize the corn dogs and seek civil penalties against the food company.
Under federal law, the FDA cannot
order a food recall, but can ask a company to do so if a product is defective. If a company refuses to cooperate, the FDA can seek a court order to seize the product. The Greenpeace letter also asked the FDA to do the following: * Immediately issue a public warning...
(2) AgBioTech and Moral Imperatives; Mycotoxins;FrankenFoods. http://agbioview.listbot.com/cgi-bin/subscriber?Act=view_archive&list_id=agbioview
Willy DeGreef, Head Regulatory and Government Affairs, Novartis Seeds, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland ( Published in "In Vitro Plant" Vol 36(5), pp309-311)
INTRODUCTION. In May 1999 the Nuffield Council on Bioethics published a report: "Genetically modified crops: the ethical and social issues" (Nuffield Council, 1999). Among the many recommendations of the report, most interest was raised by the recommendation which clearly states that we have a moral obligation to make genetically modified crops readily available to developing countries.
At the time of its publication, in the middle of the media storm over
(GM) food in the UK, this report received what can safely be called less than enthusiastic public support. Like so many works of great patience and careful thought that become entrapped in media frenzy, almost everybody had an opinion on it; no doubt in many cases one that was not supported by careful reading of the document. The practical result was that the most comprehensive thinking piece on GM crop development and ethics produced anywhere in the world so far has sunk without trace.
(3) CDC Investigation on Illnesses From Genetically Modified Corn
Excerpts from 8 March 2001 CDC Letter to Mark Murray:
"We cannot disclose more details about the investigation while it is still in process and the information has not been placed in an appropriate context for communication to the public. "
"At this current time, we don't have adequate scientific knowledge to assess the risk of adverse health effects among people who consume food products containing genetically modified proteins."
In response to a general letter of inquiry, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided the following commentary to Mr. Mark Murray (Vienna, Virginia, USA) on 8 March 2001.
The complete text follows:
Thank you for your inquiry about illnesses from genetically modified corn. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a federal agency under the United States Department of Human Health Services. CDC is organized by centers that focus on specific areas; such as
environmental health, infectious disease, injury, occupational health, chronic disease and health promotion, and health statistics.
Genetically modified organisms have recently become an important topic because some species have been used to kill or repel unwanted pests (i.e., pesticides) that ruin food crops. Many different commercial pesticide products have been made using protein from genetically modified organisms. Proteins from such organisms have also been genetically inserted into certain food crops to kill or repel unwanted pests.
At this current time, we don't have adequate scientific knowledge to assess the risk of adverse health effects among people who consume food products containing genetically modified proteins. CDC is working with other federal agencies to conduct scientific studies to gain a better understanding of such risks.
CDC is currently collaborating with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) to assess human health complaints associated with possible ingestion
of corn products. We cannot disclose more details about the investigation
while it is still in process and the information has not been placed in
an appropriate context for communication to the public.
Dori B. Reissman, MD MPH .
(4-a) First Biotech Insect to be released in United States.
www.cnn.com news, March 8, 2001
Excerpts: "We're being very, very careful about what we're doing," said Robert Staten, an Agriculture Department scientist who will run the field trial." "When you're talking about insects
you're talking about extremely promiscuous organisms that will mutate and breed quite uncontrollably," said...
(4-b) US set to unleash genetically engineered
(Ananova.com news, 8 March) US government scientists hope to begin experiments involving genetically engineered moths this summer. The field trials, which will take place in screened cages on Agriculture Department-owned land in Phoenix, will involve moths containing a jellyfish gene. Researchers hope the tests will ultimately lead to the eradication of a major pest to cotton farmers. The scientists have used the jellyfish gene because it gives the moth larvae a fluorescence that
allows them to monitor their behaviour more closely. If the experiment goes as planned, scientists are ready with ...
(4-c) Scientists create killer moth to control pests
The Guardian (UK), 5 March. Scientists are preparing to start trials of the world's first genetically modified insect, an unnatural born killer moth that will fly over cotton fields, passing a deadly gene on to its pestilent kin as an alternative to pesticide. Although the GM moth will be released in Arizona, the technology used to create the killer gene has been developed by a British team led by Luke Alphey, of Oxford University. The scientists believe that the chances of the killer gene
spreading beyond the species it is intended to harm, the pink bollworm, is very small, and would do no harm if it did. But the US department of agriculture still has to give consent ...
(5) Nabisco "Nutter Butter" product recalled from
Whistlestop stores UK-Wide
Undeclared GM corn & GM soya present in US-manufactured product. 8 March 2001 http://22.214.171.124/listarchive/index.cfm?list_id=30
Whistlestop Food & Wine, the convenience food store, today confirmed
that they have recalled all packages of the Nabisco "Nutter Butter" biscuit
product, after being informed that the product was incorrectly labelled
for UK sale. The product, produced in the USA, contains soya and
maize. Under the UK Food Labelling (Amendment) Regulations, which
came into effect on 19 September 1999, these ingredients must be labelled
if they are genetically modified. Nabisco US Customer Services have
confirmed that the manufacturer does not distinguish between GM and
non-GM ingredients in the production of this product. As the US soya crop is 60% GM and the corn crop around 30% GM, it is extremely likely that this product contains GM soya and GM maize, which is not labelled. This withdrawal follows an earlier recall by Whistlestop of "Jelly
Belly" jellybean products, which were not correctly labelled with respect to content of GM maize. Other US products sold by Whistlestop, whose GM status remains unknown, include : * Hersheys - containing soya-based ingredients. * Jones Soda - containing corn syrup as an
ingredient. Marcus Williamson, of gmfoodnews.com, comments : "I have told Whistlestop many times that they have allowed food containing incorrectly labelled GM soya and GM maize into the UK from the USA. They have clearly not learned from their previous mistakes. It is imperative
that companies importing food from the USA abide by UK law with respect to the labelling of GM ingredients, where present." For further information contact : Marcus Williamson http://www.gmfoodnews.com E-mail
: firstname.lastname@example.org Matthew Kent, Whistlestop/Belleview Ltd Tel : 020
7630 7888 Fax : 020 7630 7880 E-mail : email@example.com Nabisco US
Customer Services Tel :+1-800-8NABNET
(6) EU To Crack Down on Biotech Food (AP, 8 March
By ROBERT WIELAARD, BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -
The European Union's environment commissioner said Thursday she will
put forward proposals
this month on the labeling and tracing of genetically modified organisms in an effort to end a moratorium on new GMO foodstuffs in Europe. Margot Wallstroem cautioned the EU head office could face lawsuits from biotech firms if the ban imposed three years ago on the marketing of new
genetically modified foods continued.
``We cannot afford to lose more years of not aiding the biotechnology
industry,'' Wallstroem told a news conference at a meeting of EU environment
ministers. The EU ban was imposed by EU governments arguing genetically
altered foodstuffs could pose a risk to health and the environment.
Last month, the European Parliament approved new rules on labeling and
modified food, preparing for their entry on the market. But consumer groups, environmental organizations and, significantly, several EU governments say they do not go far enough. They are particularly concerned because ...
(7) EPA: Altered Animal Feed Must Pass Human Standard.
By Anthony Shadid, Boston Globe Staff, 3/8/2001
WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency will no longer approve
engineered food for use as animal feed unless it's safe for human consumption, too. Yesterday, EPA officials acknowledged that approving products only for animals was a mistake. It was the latest repercussion from last year's recall of taco shells, corn chips, and other food products that contain StarLink corn. StarLink, a genetically modified seed that is made by Aventis CropScience, was approved only for industrial use and as animal feed, because of concerns that it might cause allergic reactions in humans. Even so, traces ...
(8) China Prudent Towards Genetically-Modified Crops
www.organicTS.com news. Xinhua News Agency. BEIJING, Mar 8, 2001 (Xinhua
via COMTEX) --
The Chinese government is taking a prudent attitude towards genetically-modified
crops and has started drawing up regulations on the control of biological
technologies, Shi Yuanchun, vice-chairman of the China Association for
Science and Technology, said Thursday. He made the remarks while
answering questions at a press conference sponsored by the ongoing Fourth
Session of the Ninth National Committee of the Chinese People's Political
Consultative conference (CPPCC). Shi, who is also an
academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said GM technology is itself
neutral, but since GM means the transfer of an outside gene into a living
body, it does represent a potential danger to the human being that needs
to be examined and
supervised. Shi said the Chinese government has been paying great attention to the biological safety issue, including the issue of GM food. China has drafted regulations concerning the safety of farm products, tobacco and medicine and has started drawing up regulations on the safety of biological technology. China has not issued any license for the production of GM food so far, he said. (END). Related Article: "CPPCC Members Stress Sustainable Development in West China Development Drive" (www.OrganicTS.com news, Peoples Daily, 8 March 2001.)
(9) Scientist Studying Why Tobacco Budworm Resists
by Kristin Danley-Greiner
www.AgWeb.com news. 8 March 2001
One of the most promising biocontrol products of recent years, bacterium
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), appears to be losing its strength against
certain subspecies of the tobacco budworm. U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Agriculture Research Service (ARS) physiologist Marcia Loeb is using
tobacco budworm gut cells, cultured in the laboratory, to try and understand how the tobacco budworm--a major caterpillar pest of cotton, soybeans and tomatoes--becomes resistant to the natural toxin produced by Bt. Bt toxin causes mature budworm gut cells to swell, burst and
die. In culture, Loeb found that as ...
(10) Recent Publications :
(a) Trends in Plant Science Vol. 6, No. 3, March 2001
includes, among other items, the following of interest:
Research Update: Quest for antimicrobial genes to engineer disease-resistant crops Erik A. van der Biezen
(b) News and Comment: Little GM segregation from US farmers -
(c) Review: Applications of retrotransposons as genetic tools in plant
Amar Kumar and Hirohiko Hirochika
(d) Additional Listings:
(11) Farmers, Demand non-StarLink seed-US Grain Groups
http://news.excite.com/news/r/010308/15/food-biotech-starlink-farmers March 8, 2001 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four major U.S. grain groups on Thursday urged corn farmers to obtain written assurances from suppliers that seed for spring planting is free of a bioengineered
corn variety banned from human food. The U.S. Agriculture Department on Wednesday said less than 1 percent of U.S. corn seed for spring planting was tainted with traces of StarLink's Cry9c protein, the key component that protects young plants from destructive pests. To prevent any of the corn seed from making its way into American fields, the USDA said it would spend about $20 million to purchase the StarLink-tainted corn seed. StarLink, made...
(12) StarLink corn woes Cut U.S. Farm Exports
by Charles Abbott - (Reuters) -March 8, 2001 WASHINGTON
Foreign wariness over StarLink biotech corn -- never approved as a food -- was cutting into U.S. corn sales, helping push prices to their lowest levels in about 15 years, the Agriculture Department said Thursday. In a monthly look at crops and food demand worldwide, the department shaved 50 million bushels from ...
(13) Info About StarLink Corn Developments, GMA View:
March 8 /PRNewswire
As journalists consider reporting on the latest StarLink corn developments,
GMA believes it is important to consider the following points:
* Although StarLink corn has not been approved for food, America's leading allergists, the scientific community and EPA officials have all said repeatedly that StarLink corn represents no immediate health concern and that the risks -- if any -- are extremely low.
* Nonetheless, to ensure public confidence, the entire food industry,
in conjunction with biotech companies and the U.S. Government, is doing
everything possible to remove StarLink from the
* StarLink's presence in food is a result of the failed policy of the split approval process set by the EPA. That system, which ...
(14) Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute Inc. announces
new name -- Torrey Mesa Research Institute
http://just-food.com/news_detail.asp?art=27016&app=1 9 Mar 2001 Press Release.
Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute Inc. (NADII) announced it has changed its name to Torrey Mesa Research Institute (TMRI). Formerly an institute of the Novartis Research
Foundation, NADII became a subsidiary of Syngenta at the beginning of this year. The merger of Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals formed Syngenta in November 2000...
(15) StarLink bio-corn seen unlikely in food after Milling
by Julie Vorman, Reuters - 8 March 2001
WASHINGTON - U.S.regulators said on Wednesday that there was virtually
no chance that
residue from a biotech corn banned from human food remained in corn syrup after a processing step widely used by grain millers. The Environmental Protection Agency's draft conclusions cleared ingredients such as syrup, oil and starches made from corn of risk from StarLink, a gene-spliced corn that is allowed only in animal feed. The EPA findings come as a partial victory for Aventis SA, the ...
(16-a) Legislation: StarLink justifies new bill,
says Head of Iowa's senate ag Committee
or www.agriculture.com news, By Dan Looker Business Editor, Successful Farming.
Derryl McLaren, a farmer who heads Iowa's senate ag committee, sees
StarLink as one reason why his state needs a contracting law to make risks
clear to producers. In the future, when farmers grow high-value crops
under contract, they won't own the seed or have a label, he says. That's
why a state law must require contracts to spell out risks. "I think
when this all plays out, we'll look back and realize the StarLink issue
was worse than Jimmy Carter's grain embargo,"
he says of the genetically modified corn approved only for livestock that slipped into the food supply and spooked buyers in Japan and other export markets. McLaren's bill resembles a model contracting bill from Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller that aims to give producers more
contract rights. Iowa already bans making ...
(16-b) Legislation: New York State has Bills Pending
for a Five Year Moratorium on the production and marketing of Genetically
The Agriculture Committees of both the New York Assembly and Senate have bills, AB 9871 and SB 6899, waiting for action in this legislative session.
(17) Monsanto to Produce Raw Materials in Brazil
www.individual.com news. Brazil, Mar 6, 2001 (Gazeta Mercantil/SABI via COMTEX) via NewsEdge Corporation - -
Monsanto will start next semester to produce in Brazil raw materials that are presently imported. Its Camacari-based plant (State of Bahia) will start up early next September, producing substances that are used in the production of the Roundup herbicide in Sao Jose dos Campos, State of Sao Paulo. With the new plant, Monsanto's imports will be reduced by US$50mil during this year. At present ...
( end )