ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
 
Date:  16 March 2001
 
DAILY  BRIEF:  TODAY'S  HEADLINES  FROM  THE  BIOTECH  FOOD DEBATE

(  Nine Items ) from:  FarmPowerNews@Starpower.net

(Item 3 below is an ISIS article http://www.i-sis.org/i-sisnews7-17.shtml
that Dr.J. Mercola has put on his site)

Archived: http://208.141.36.73/listarchive/index.cfm?list_id=30

(1) EPA Scientist Advisors: More Research Needed on GM Corn http://news.excite.com/news/ap/010315/19/biotech-corn Updated 7:21 PM ET March 15, 2001, By PHILIP BRASHER, AP Farm Writer WASHINGTON (AP) -

Scientists advising the government on genetically engineered corn say more research is needed to determine its impact on the environment and assess the health risks of new varieties of the grain.  The corn, known as Bt for a bacterium gene it contains, is genetically altered to produce its own pesticide to kill an insect pest.  Some research has suggested the corn could be harming an unintended target, Monarch butterflies, in farmers’ fields.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which released a report Thursday by the scientific advisers, is considering whether to renew registrations for gene-altered varieties of corn and cotton.   The panel said extensive field studies of the corn need to be done. “Sound science must guide the agency’s decisions. Inappropriate conclusions drawn from inappropriate database are to be avoided,” the scientists said.

In a section of the report that could pose problems for companies developing new varieties of biotech corn, the scientists said there was “no data or criteria” to make “absolute” assessments of the potential of new corn proteins to cause allergic reactions in people.

The National Academy of Sciences last year also recommended developing new ways to test genetically engineered crops to see how allergenic they might be.   The biotech industry was put on the defense last fall when a variety of biotech corn that was not approved for human consumption was found. . .

(2) Canada Confiscates Unapproved (USA) GM Corn Shipments.
  http://news.excite.com/news/r/010315/16/food-canada-corn  March 15, 2001 OTTAWA
(Reuters) -

Canada quickly confiscated two corn shipments from the United States that were found to contain the Starlink gene—which is not registered for human or animal consumption in Canada.  “It did not go into the food system,” Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief told reporters Thursday.  He said Canadian authorities sought out the genetically modified corn after it was discovered in food in the United States this week.  It is not approved for human consumption in the U.S. because it’s feared it may trigger allergic reactions. It is allowed in animal feed.  That genetically modified corn brand has not been registered for use in Canada.  Starlink was engineered by life sciences firm Aventis SA .  Vanclief said one shipment was removed immediately while the other had to be traced and then withdrawn. He did not specify the sizes of the shipments.  Food giant Kellogg Co.’s Worthington Foods Inc. Tuesday voluntarily recalled its meat-free corn dogs in the United States after a sample was shown to contain Starlink corn.

(3) Suppressing Dissent in Science With GM Foods (Dr.J. Mercola) http://www.mercola.com/2001/mar/14/index.htm   Or See: www.doubletwist.com news.
Suppressing Dissent in Science With GM Foods (15 March 2001)

Science is in crisis.  The full extent of the crisis surfaced when trade union leaders warned that the integrity of British science is being threatened by “a dash for commercial cash” in a report published in the Times Higher Education Supplement (Sept 8, 2000), the main newsprint for University academics.

The Institute for Professional and Managers in Specialists carried out a survey of scientists working in government or in recently privatized laboratories earlier this year.   One-third of the respondents had been asked to change their research findings to suit the customer’s preferred outcome , while 10% had pressure put on them to bend their results to help secure contracts.

In Britain’s handful of top research universities, dependence on private funding is acute, often amounting to 80-90% of the total research budget. The four unions representing scientists and technical staff have launched a charter, which says that research must be guaranteed “by peer review, open publication and by autonomy over a significant proportion of its resources”. Commercialization smashes all three tenets.

The only way to be sure that science retains its integrity is to enshrine open and clear-cut whistle blowing , the unions claim.

Science has seldom lived up to its ideal as an open, disinterested inquiry into nature, as any scientist who has ever tried to publish genuinely new ideas or findings in the ‘peer-reviewed’ scientific journals will know too well. Nobel Laureate Hans Krebs’ discovery of the metabolic cycle that would eventually bear his name was rejected from the journal Nature.

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, another Nobel prize-winning biochemist, never got funded for work on the relevance of quantum physics to living organisms, which is crucial for understanding living organisms and why cell phones may be harmful, for example.  In the course of liberating itself....

(4) Golden Rice and Beyond. By Ingo Potrykus
http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/content/full/125/3/1157?maxtoshow=&HITS=
&hits=&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=ingo&searchid=QID_NOT_SET&stored_search=&F
IRSTINDEX=&volume=125&issue=3#B6
Plant Physiol, March 2001, Vol. 125, pp. 1157-1161.
Emotions are the Problem, Not Rational Discourse.  The term “golden rice” was coined by a Thai businessman who is active in initiatives aimed at reducing the birth rate, a major cause of the food security problem. As it turned out, the term “golden rice” has proven to be enormously ...

(5) Starbucks Campaign Taking The GE Food Fight Directly To Marketplace with Protests Scheduled for 20 March 2001.
http://www.doubletwist.com/news/  and and
http://www.mercola.com/2001/mar/14/index.htm  15 March 2001, by Dr.  Joseph Mercola.

After several years of preliminary consciousness raising around the GE food issue, Friends of the Earth , Organic Consumers Association , and other allies in the Genetically Engineered Food Alert scored a major victory last fall. Genetically engineered corn, StarLink, had contaminated over 300 US brand name products (Kraft and Safeway taco shells, Mission Food products, etc.) as well as much of the entire multi-billion dollar US corn crop and hybrid seed supply.  Not only is the StarLink fiasco costing the industry, according to Wall Street analysts, up to a billion dollars in losses , but even more costly to the biotech industry is the fact that the incident has thoroughly alarmed millions of American consumers; not to mention millions of consumers overseas whose governments import billions of dollars of US corn.  According to Dan Cekander, a top US grain trade analyst in Chicago, the StarLink scandal has impacted and ‘distorted’ the entire global corn export market, and will likely ‘continue to do so for four or five more years’ due to the fact that StarLink- contaminated corn will continue to show up in the marketplace, as reported in the Latin American business publication El Financiero, 2/28/01.   Now is the time, in the wake of the StarLink scandal, for US consumers and food activists to go on the offensive. The Organic Consumers Association and five of our closest allies ( Friends of the Earth , Rights Action Canada , Center for Food Safety , Pesticide Action Network , and Sustain) have decided to target Starbucks, the largest gourmet coffee shop chain in the world, as our first major North American corporate target.  On March 20, 2001, while Starbucks holds their annual shareholders meeting in Seattle, we are organizing ‘Frankenbuck$’ protests in front of Starbucks cafes in up to 100 cities across the US and holding up signs.  In a number of strategic cities there will be press conferences as well.  This will be the largest coordinated protest against genetically engineered foods (as well as the largest protest against agricultural sweatshops) in US history. You can go to Starbucks www.organicconsumers.org/Starbucks and check out this campaign.  If you are willing to leaflet or do media work in your local city or community, please contact Simon Harris, the OCA’s national Starbucks Campaign coordinator at simon@organicconsumers.org .  Starbucks has over ...
(5-b)  More on Starbucks Campagn, from OCA, 15 March 2001 “This is the beginning of the largest consumer consumer campaign ever mounted against a major US and transnational food and beverage company around the issues of genetic engineering and Fair Trade. Unless Starbucks gives in to all of our demands, they run a significant risk of damaging their worldwide reputation and profitability,” stated Ronnie Cummins, national OCA Director.  Website has details, http://www.organicconsumers.org for printable materials and updates, campaign locations and times. If you . . .

(6-a)   French rebel Bove convicted for GM food Assault http://www.planetark.org/dailynewshome.cfm or search: www.PlanetArk.org March 16, 2001. MONTPELLIER, France - A French court handed rebel farm leader Jose Bove a 10-month suspended jail sentence on Thursday for destroying genetically modified rice plants during an assault on a research centre. Bove, an anti-globalisation campaigner best known for trashing a McDonald’s fast food restaurant, was found guilty with two others of leading a raid on the publicly funded centre in the southern town of Montpellier in June 1999.  He was also placed on probation for two years and ordered to pay substantial costs and damages in addition to a symbolic one franc to the laboratory. “The courts in Montpellier have shown ...

(6-b)  Bove Sentenced.   BBC News, 15 March 2001.  http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_1222000/1222334.stm French anti-globalisation campaigner Jose Bove has been sentenced for the destruction of genetically modified plants.  Mr Bove has attained folk hero status in France.  A court in the southern French town of Montpellier gave the radical farmer a 10-month suspended sentence and put him on two years’ probation.  Mr Bove and two colleagues destroyed 3,000 genetically modified rice plants at a research institute in June 1999. The two others involved - both members of Mr Bove’s radical Farmers’ Confederation - were also given suspended sentences.  “The courts. . .
 

(7) EU Parliament voices support for Biotechnology
http://news.excite.com/news/r/010315/13/food-genes-eu
March 16, 2001. STRASBOURG, France - (Reuters) The European Parliament declared support for biotechnology yesterday, but stopped short of calling for the European Union to lift its ban on new genetically modified (GM) food strains.   The parliament said in statement that genetic technologies were good for employment and could help the environment. The non-binding resolution may give a rare morale boost to biotechnology firms, which still face an unofficial EU ban on most of their products due to concerns that genetically altered plants could contain hidden health or environment risks.   The parliament itself recently approved a tough new system for licensing new GM foods strains for use in the 15-country bloc. The statement, drafted by British Conservative John Purvis and approved by a majority of EU deputies attending the assembly in Strasbourg, said the parliament “resolved to support the development of biotechnology in the European Union”.   But the assembly deleted a paragraph criticising “government actions to delay authorisation of GM products for reasons not based on objective scientific opinion”, which would have been a direct attack on the EU freeze on granting new GM licences. The EU has not authorised any new GM strains since ...

(8) International Markets for GM Crops? (by Robert L.Paarlberg) http://208.141.36.73/listarchive/index.cfm?list_id=30 (Under 3/15/2001 Entries, or ask FarmPowerNews@Starpower.net for copy.)  Presentation by Robert L. Paarlberg, Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College, and Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University.  These remarks were delivered to the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum 2001, Arlington Virginia, February 22-23, 2001.

I’m going to address a trade policy area where the current SPS Agreement in WTO may not be of much help, in the end, to U.S. farmers and commodity exporters.  I’m referring to international trade in genetically modified (GM) foods, feeds, and other crops.  The chief function of the WTO (including the SPS agreement) has always been to stop protectionist producer groups from using import restrictions to keep more efficiently produced foreign goods out of a local market.  In the case of GM crops, foreign governments in Europe and East Asia have been moving toward import restrictions of various kinds to keep more efficiently produced GM goods out of their local markets, but they are not doing so in response to pressures from protectionist producer groups, such as local crop producers.  Instead they are acting primarily in response to the concerns of their own food consumers, most of whom have come to see GM products as presenting no clear advantage over conventional foods from a consumer standpoint, and as so novel that they might carry with them some not yet discovered health or environmental risk.   Suspicious farm and agribusiness groups in the Untied States might fear that this is just old-fashioned European and Japanese agricultural protectionism asquerading as a consumer health or environmental safety concern.  After all, we in the United States have been growing and consuming GM products such as herbicide tolerant soybeans and Bt corn widely for five years now, with plenty of benefit to farmers in the form of fewer and less toxic chemical sprays and less soil-damaging tillage, and with no evidence yet of any environmental or human health harm.  If these foreign restrictions were in fact disguised producer protection, the SPS agreement might offer U.S.industry some remedy.  But the import restrictions . . .

(9) Hawaii AgDay Focus on Biotech Benefits.  University Speakers http://pacific.bcentral.com/pacific/stories/2001/03/12/daily43.html Pacific Business NEws, 15 March 2001.  Biotechnology will be the byword of this year’s third annual Ag Awareness Day at the Hawaii state Capitol. An 8:00 a.m. address in the Capitol’s chamber-level auditorium will feature two experts on the subject who will more or less deliver a “state of the biotech” address to lawmakers and members of the public who feel a need to stay up to date on this fast-changing research area.  Martina McGloughlin runs the biotech program at the University of California at Davis, and Andrew Hashimoto is dean of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii.
END.
 
 

Our Post Script
This message comes to you from Farm Power News, a
GM-Food news service in the United States.  We report
only breaking news in the bio-tech food debate.     This
service is for the benefit of farmers, senior association
representatives, media reps, investigators, farm activists,
and others concerned with genetically engineered foods.
In addition to our Daily Brief messages,  we offer an
abbreviated Weekly Summary, with one long message
each week, only headlines, no detail.    If you would like
background on who-why this news service exists, send
a note to FarmPowerNews@Starpower.net requesting
“background.”    To add or remove from the mailing list,
send us a note,  specifying either  Daily Brief,  Weekly
Summary, or Both.     We wish you well...  and standby
for breaking news.
 

ngin bulletin archive
INDEX