ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  7 November 2000


A new Food First report by Pete Rosset (1) and a book on agribiz (2) to which Rosset among others has contributed: 'Hungry for Profit':

"ever-greater numbers remain hungry and malnourished despite an increase in world food supplies and the perpetuation of food over-production"

1.    Food First releases 'Anatomy of a Gene Spill'

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  - 1November, 2000
(Contact: Nicholas Parker  (510) 654-1914 Ext. 229)

Anatomy of a 'Gene Spill' - Do We Really Need Genetically Engineered Food?

Food policy think tank releases report on the StarLink/taco shell corn scandal which raises questions about genetic engineering of our food supply
[Full text of the report available at:]

(Oakland, CA)-The scandal surrounding the genetically engineered (GE) StarLink corn-a variety not approved for human consumption-first found in Taco Bell taco shells, is symptomatic of larger problems, according to Food First's latest Backgrounder: Anatomy of a Gene Spill: Do we Really
Need Genetically Engineered Food?

The report issued by the Institute for Food and Development    Policy, also know as 'Food First,' tackles the thorny issues of corporate concentration and collusion in this recent 'gene spill,' the difficulties of keeping GE foods from the human food supply, and the implications of gene spills for human health and the environment.

"Unfortunately, gene spills are not as easy to contain as oil spills," says Dr. Peter Rosset, the author of the report and Co-Director of Food First. "You can't just throw a boom around them. Once genes are taken out of the laboratory, they can move from plant to plant by natural pollination, winding up in genomes in which they have never been tested and where they may have unpredictable effects."

After independent studies discovered Taco Bell taco shells to be contaminated with a GE corn variety only approved for animal feed, further studies have revealed how widespread this contamination is, with the latest reports finding it in U.S. exports to Japan. According to the
report, all steps in the corn commodity chain, including planting, harvesting, storage, shipping, and distribution, are susceptible to genetic co-mingling. Complicating issues of accountability when
accidents happen are rampant corporate mergers, acquisitions and alliances in the agriculture and food industry, which impede regulatory oversight.

"Whether it is Alar on apples, or food poisoning outbreaks from fast food hamburgers, corporate power and negligence with new technologies-farm chemicals in one case and factory farming in the other-are increasingly putting our food supply at risk and our federal regulators to sleep," said Rosset.

The report argues that there is "no compelling need" for the these products to be in our food today, and calls for an immediate moratorium on commercial use of    genetic engineering of crops and GE foods until each product has passed widely    acceptable environmental and health safety tests.

Food First-founded in 1975 by    Frances Moore LappÈ and Joseph Collins after the success of Diet for a Small Planet, is an 'outside the beltway' policy think tank that carries out research,
education and advocacy about out food system. Food First works to identify the root causes of hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world, and to educate the public as well as policymakers about these problems and alternative    solutions to them.

Full text of the report is available at:

To schedule interviews, please contact Nick Parker at (510) 654-4400 ext.229;

*  *  *
New Book Announcement: 

HUNGRY FOR PROFIT - The Agribusiness Threat to Farmers, Food, and the Environment
ISBN:1-58367-016-5 PAPER/$19.00
ISBN:1-58367-015-7 CLOTH/$45.00

A collection of new and expanded essays from a special issue of Monthly Review.

Edited by Fred Magdoff, John Bellamy Foster, and Frederick H.  Buttel

The agribusiness/food sector is the second most profitable industry in the United States-following pharmaceuticals-with annual sales over $400 billion.Contributing to its profitability are the breathtaking strides in biotechnology coupled with the growing concentration of ownership and
control by food's largest corporations.

Everything, from decisions on which foods are produced, to how they are processed, distributed, and marketed is, remarkably, dictated by a select few giants wielding enormous power. More and more farmers are forced to adopt new technologies and strategies with consequences potentially harmful to the environment, our health, and the quality of our lives. The role played by trade institutions like the World Trade Organization serves only to make matters worse.

Through it all, the paradox of capitalist agriculture persists: ever-greater numbers remain hungry and malnourished despite an increase in world food supplies and the perpetuation of food  overproduction.

Hungry for Profit presents a historical analysis and an incisive overview of the issues and debates surrounding the global commodification of agriculture. Contributors address the growing public
concern over food safety and controversial developments in agricultural biotechnology including genetically engineered foods.

Hungry for Profit also examines the extent to which our environmental, social, and economic problems are intertwined with the structure of global agriculture as it now exists.

Hungry for Profit demystifies the reasons why hunger proliferates in the midst of plenty and points the way toward sustainable solutions.  Perhaps most important, it highlights the ways in which farmer,
farmworkers, environmental and sustainable agriculture groups - as well as consumers - are engaged in the struggle to create a just and environmentally sound food system which , its editors argue, cannot be separated from a just and environmentally sound society.
Monthly Review Press
122 West 27th St., NewYork,NY10001, T: (212)691-2555, F: (212)727-3676
Contact: Renee Pendergrass Tel: 1-800-670-9499
Order through your local bookstore or call 1-800-670-9499. Complete catalog upon request.

About the Editors
FRED MAGDOFF is professor of plant and soil science at the University of Vermont. He is the author of numerous scientific articles and of the book Building Soils for Better Crops. .

JOHN BELLAMY FOSTER is associate professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is
coeditor of Monthly Review and Organization and Environment, and the author of The Vulnerable Planet and Marx's Ecology

FREDERICK H. BUTTEL is  professor of rural sociology and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author or editor of several books, including Environment and Modernity

Fred Magdoff
John Bellamy Foster
Frederick H. Buttel
Ellen Meiksins Wood
William Heffernan
Miguel Altieri
R. C. Lewontin
Gerad Middendorf
Mike Skladny
Elizabeth Ransom
Lawrence Busch
Philip McMichael
Farshad Araghi
Linda C. Majka
Theo J. Majka
Elizabeth Henderson
Janet Poppendieck
Peter M. Rosset
William Hinton

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